From our friend Pete Deegan, Director of Admission and Student Services for Belhaven Houston:

The story of David and Goliath comes to mind whenever I face a difficult obstacle. However, more often than not, I relate more to the frightened Israelites who looked up at Goliath with fear. The obstacles in front of me seem like an unbeatable opponent that I am a fool to challenge. In that moment there is a choice to let that fear overtake and cripple or to let God’s still small voice speak encouragement in that hopeless situation. And all that I have to do is uncover my ears to hear His words speak to me.

David & Goliath








He speaks in different ways. He speaks through scripture, songs, or the people in our lives. I hope that you take the encouragement that is offered today. When the obstacle seems insurmountable, He is there to help you on your way. Just listen to His voice. And don’t forget that you have friends in classes, and a staff who care about your success!

Go Further…Dream Bigger

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13, NKJV

No matter what’s happening in your life today, remember, you are not limited by your resources, your family or your background. God has equipped us. He has given us creativity, ideas, skills and talents. So, don’t you dare settle for mediocrity. Today, call for the seeds of greatness that God has placed within you.

Today, declare that your best days are ahead.  Declare that you are going further than anyone in your family ever did, that you are going to dream bigger than you ever have.

Walk and live in that blessing by following God’s commands and stay fully committed to him in everything you do.

How are you doing this term?

How are you doing this term? Are you doing just fine, or are you feeling overloaded? Are you taking difficult courses right now and wonder how you will get through them? As adults, we all have so many things on our plates! There is so much to juggle: family, work, church, school, and more… you name it. We can all get overwhelmed at times.

Are you physically stressed? Mentally? Spiritually? When you experience any of these things, it is good to take a deep breath, slow down, and remember WHY you began this journey of continuing your education. Was it for your family, to make a better life for them or to serve as a role model for your children about the importance of education? Do you need the degree you’re working on to get promoted or to go into another field of work? Do you just want to finish what you once started, or is there something else that convicted you that you needed to return to school?

Whatever the reason was for you to come to Belhaven University as an adult student, you need to keep that reason always in your mind when you get weary or discouraged. You have set a good goal for yourself, but sometimes you may feel you are not able to reach that goal. Let me encourage you to ask God for the wisdom, strength, and perseverance you need as you continue on your journey!

 You are not alone, and He is able!

God is with youGod is able


Don’t be afraid to step up!

Have you ever felt like you were running from or avoiding something, but you weren’t sure why?  Ever been afraid of the “unknown”?  How often do we fear failure?   Life is so busy and filled with so many activities, sometimes it is difficult to slow down and listen to that “still small voice” or truly hear what the Lord may be trying to tell us.  Perhaps, maybe we just have selective hearing because we want to do what we think is best or what pleases us?

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The Lord tells us in His word, that he has plans for every one of us…So many times, we are so busy making plans of our own we forget we are not the ones in control.  Being mindful of whose we are and what we are called to do is the first step… then we must listen to what God is calling us to do and step up!

The story of Jonah comes to mind, when thinking about stepping up to God’s commission… Jonah’s story depicts how God truly is in control and is in command of everything to carry out His plan.  If we acknowledge God as having full reign in our lives, He will use us in ways we cannot fathom.  There may be times when God is calling us to lead and we are fearful of failure…but with God’s direction and blessing, we cannot fail.  We can do all things through Christ … and to Him we can give all the Glory!

Jonah 17:9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good.  I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

God knows our talents and abilities better than we know them, ourselves… and He has the master plan.  Resting in Him and stepping out in faith in every aspect of our lives and seeking what it is He calls us to do, requires faithfulness and results in a peace He can only give us.  Our heavenly father knows what is best for His Children before we even figure it out…and being aware of God’s purpose in our lives by staying in consistent communion with Him, allows us the opportunity to truly discover our heart’s desire.

Through personal experience, I can tell you that God can change the desire of our hearts.  He has the ability to change our hearts and put a desire there when it’s necessary to carry out His plan. It is then, when we follow His will for our lives, and obey, that we will experience true peace and happiness and ultimately He will be able to use us to help change lives.

Psalm 37: 4 -5: Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

So, if the Lord is calling us into leadership, we must have no fear!  We must listen and faithfully step up!

Defining Success

Defining Success

What does success really look like?

We are obsessed with the trappings of success: Fancy cars, large homes, expensive jewelry, fashionable clothes. We are drawn to the beautiful, the intelligent, the well put-together.

Adult learners often restart their college careers with a mental image of success that includes worldly possessions. After all, if one devotes so much time, energy, and money to pursuing a dream, shouldn’t one enjoy the trappings of success? Most of us would say “Yes!”

But a college education is, well, different. Unlike sports cars and designer clothing and an impressive body mass index, an education is simply something that automatically follows from a transactional investment. Anyone with the right amount of money can buy fancy things. Anyone with the right amount of time can exercise enough to have a healthy looking body. But academic success is not measured like that.

There are some adult learners who measure academic success by the number of “A’s” they see on a transcript. While such high marks are laudable, they do not necessarily guarantee that an education has been earned.

In my life, I have often learned the most from classes (and endeavors) that I messed up royally! While I usually made good grades in school, upon reflection I see that I learned the most in classes that I struggled with. You know, those classes that pushed every button, those classes that made me question my intelligence. Those classes in which I HATED the work, HATED the subject, and sometimes was tempted to blame the instructor for “not giving clear instructions.”

I didn’t always make A’s in those classes. But, boy, did I ever learn things!

I learned about myself. I learned about my work ethic. I learned about my lack of understanding about a lot of things. And I learned that less than an “A” is not the end of the world.

A college education should be measured by how much it transforms the individual, not just by GPA or a piece of parchment on the wall.

St. Paul, at the end of his worldly mission, declared “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” This was the man who, although he wrote much of the New Testament, had faced rejection, setback, ridicule. Churches he founded had rejected him. Friends he trusted betrayed him. But, at the end of his life and ministry, he could claim victory. Not because he made all “A’s” in the School of Life, but because he was faithful. He learned, he grew, he never quit.

Confession time: When I attend our graduations, I always weep. I see the success that so many have made happen. I see men and women who were often treated as failures, but now they can claim success. I see their families–their spouses, parents, children, and often their grandchildren, cheering as they cross the stage to receive their diplomas. To be part of such milestones never fails to humble me.

Because I know. I see the transcripts. Not everyone is “straight A’s.” Very few breeze through a real college, especially an established liberal arts school like Belhaven. These schools demand excellence in reading, writing, critical thinking, and the ability to iterate a Christian world view that goes far beyond “I believe in a Supreme Being.”

But this is what Success looks like! It is the battle-scarred veteran, the persecuted Apostle Paul, the weary but wise degree recipient.

Not many of our students drive away from graduation in European sports cars or carrying Gucci handbags.

But they walk away with an EDUCATION. They are wiser. They are stronger. They have been pushed to their limits and, even when they broke, they got back up and trudged on.

They fought their good fight. They finished their coursework. And, even when they wanted to give up, they kept the faith.

And THAT looks a whole lot like success.


Carol Dianne Danley, Bachelor of Arts-Social Services, Class of 2014  (Memphis Campus) pictured with Dr. Paul Criss


Be diligent!

Adult students often wonder: “When and how will I ever get this paper done, finish this course…and when will I ever graduate?” Completing a degree can feel like an eternity, especially when family, work, and other obligations leave one feeling like there’s no end in sight.

If this sounds like you, the Bible has a simple, encouraging word for you today: Be diligent.

Proverbs 10:5 tells us that “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”

Diligence isn’t about pulling an all-nighter, or working quickly to get a task done no matter the quality of the end product. Instead, diligence implies a steady chipping away at something, a routine and focused commitment.

Diligence works! (Pun intended.)

Here’s what diligence in action might look like for you:

Plan ahead. Map out your papers and projects way ahead of time and hold yourself accountable to your deadlines. This will take some planning, but it’s worth the investment.

Lift “heavy rocks” when you’re strongest. Certain types of work – like writing papers – require you to be at your freshest. Some are freshest in the early morning. Others get a second wind in the quiet of late nights. Know when you work best on lifting your “heavy rocks” and work accordingly.

Work every day if at all possible. An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion….you get the picture. Even working just a half-hour a day on something school-related can keep you in the game. Take a day each week to rest. The rest of the time be about your business.

So be encouraged in your academic pursuit. By God’s grace you can pull this off. Be diligent.


The Last Chapter

I have a terrible confession to make. When I read a mystery or suspense novel, I will read the first few chapters of the book, and then I read the last chapter to find out how the story ends. After that, I go back and read the rest of the book, comforted in knowing that even though the plot may take twists and turns, I know how it ends.

In a recent Bible study at our church, I taught from the book of Revelation, Chapter 4. In this chapter it describes the throne room of heaven. What a glorious hope we have for our future as Christians. We too know how the story ends by reading the book of Revelation. What a comfort that is as we travel the journey of life here on earth.

So, what does this have to do with completing an education at Belhaven? Our hope for every student is that one day we can congratulate you as you walk across the stage, having completed all requirements for your degree. You know how your educational journey is supposed to end, so as life takes many twists and turns, don’t lose sight of the last chapter…..graduation.

The Transformational Nature of Adult Higher Education

In his book Center Church, Tim Keller describes several models of cultural engagement or descriptions of the various ways that we Christians view culture and our role in it. Keller writes that the transformationalist model “engages culture largely through an emphasis on Christians pursuing their vocations from a Christian worldview and thereby changing culture.”
I believe that Christian adult higher education is transformational and, for those of us who work in this field, Keller’s words should be encouraging. As we teach Christian worldview in the classroom and, as staff, model it in our interactions with students, we are impacting people who will, in turn, impact their workplaces, homes, places of worship, and communities with a biblically-informed transformational perspective.
Jesus describes his followers as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These are powerful metaphors that instruct believers to flavor, preserve, and give direction to the world that God loves and is in the process of redeeming. This is the encouraging work of Christian adult higher education – to be salt and light to our students and to provide an educational experience that prepares them for that role in their various spheres of influence. The encouragement for our students is that your diligent work in the classroom is preparing you to be a participant in God’s kingdom vision for the world…His people “pursuing their vocations from a Christian worldview and thereby changing culture.”

Focus On The Right Thing!

I recently took my 15 year old grandson, Josh, on vacation with us to Washington DC. Guess who had just gotten his learner’s permit and wanted to drive. Since I am the ‘cool grandpa’, Josh got to drive – on the interstate when traffic was not too heavy.

When he first got behind the wheel, I noticed he had a tendency to weave a little. After a couple of minutes, I asked him how he was maintaining his lane. He said, “I am judging where I am by the white strip on the side of the highway and the broken line that separates the lanes.” He was steering the car based on where he was instead of where he wanted to go.

Very calmly (depending on whom you ask), I suggested he begin to watch the horizon and drive toward it without paying so much attention to the dividing lines. Once he began to trust that technique, his control of the car improved greatly and the ride was so much smoother. His confidence in his driving ability was at an all-time high!

This reminded me of the Apostle Peter when he walked on water with Jesus in Matthew 14. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on the water. But when Peter noticed the high winds and rough waves, he began to sink! Did you know that the same wind and waves were present while Peter was both walking and sinking? So, what made the difference in Peter’s success? Peter’s focus!

What a great life principle for the busy adult who is pursuing their degree while maintaining their professional life, their family life, their church life and their sanity! The ultimate goal is to earn the degree. As long as the focus is on that goal the distractions of life that could derail that pursuit can be navigated. But when the focus shifts from the goal to the distractions, the circumstances can be overwhelming!

The encouragement is to maintain the focus on finishing the degree no matter what is going on around you. Life is going to happen. Keeping your focus on the goal of your degree will enable you to handle the challenges of life and earn your degree at the same time!

Be Today Who You Desire to be Tomorrow: 3 ways to insure you reaching your desired career

1st – Invest in yourself
Do you have a tendency to put yourself on the back burner? Do not worry, you are not alone. Many people do including wives, husbands, parents, grandparents, sons, and daughters in order to take care of their loved ones. This is what we are supposed to do, however we are not supposed to neglect ourselves in the process. If we take better care of ourselves then we are able to better take care of others, right? Makes sense! Many times we are tricked into thinking just the opposite. We think we have to neglect ourselves, our needs, our wants and our desires. Continue pushing hard in school, sometimes it will be tough but you must, invest in yourself, YOU are worth it!!!!
2nd- Couple Your Education with Your Work Experience
Working in education I have heard time and time again that people have numerous years of experience, but cannot get that promotion or pay grade they want due to not having a degree. I can personally testify that after I completed my degree I gained an array of options pertaining to my employment, one of which I hold today as Director at Belhaven Houston. I felt many years ago that God was moving me to get my degree. I personally did not start college until my late twenties. I am so glad I did because otherwise I would not be encouraging you today to consider doing the same. If you felt the Lord lead you here to get your degree, go for it with all of your might, and when you get weary, call us we are here to help!!!
3rd- Understand Your Value
Too many times we go into an interview thinking, “I need this job.” The demands of bills and debt cause us sometime to settle for jobs that we would not want otherwise, but feel obligated to take due to necessity. What if we changed our way of thinking and decided to not settle for anything less than what we want. Instead of letting the employer interview us, what if we interviewed them? Just changing this perspective going into the interview will boost yourself confidence. Know your value, the asset that you are going to be to the company you are interviewing for and articulate it in such a way that you are not cocky, but confident. Whatever you do, do not settle for less than God’s best!!!