The Storms of Life

The recent storms that ravaged our southern states have left damaged buildings and shattered lives.  Our sister school in Mississippi, William Cary, was heavily damaged in the storms that swept through Mississippi this past weekend.  David writes in Psalm 29 about the powerful storms that, even in biblical times, brought devastation. Storms and devastation in our lives is not new and I draw comfort from the last verse in Psalm 29.  It reads, “GOD makes his people strong. God gives his people peace”.

I think of many of our students who manage to juggle so much just to further their education.  Juggling school, family, church, and work is no easy task.  One sick child or unexpected repair bill can bring devastation and shatter that delicate balance our students try to maintain.   How do they do it?  I can only see one way and that is through total dependence of our Lord and Savior.

Take heart! God is still on the throne and cares about every detail of your life.  Don’t give up your educational goals when that storm of life brings devastation.  Through our weakness, we are made strong in Christ.

I love to read from “The Message”.  Here is the full transcript of Psalm 29:

Psalm 29The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

29 1-2 Bravo, God, bravo!
Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”
In awe before the glory,
in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention!
Dress your best to honor him!

God thunders across the waters,
Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—
God, across the flood waters.

God’s thunder tympanic,
God’s thunder symphonic.

God’s thunder smashes cedars,
God topples the northern cedars.

The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,
The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.

7-8 God’s thunder spits fire.
God thunders, the wilderness quakes;
He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.

God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”

10 Above the floodwaters is God’s throne
from which his power flows,
from which he rules the world.

11 God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterso

 

 

Season of Joy

I love this time of year – the season of joy starting with Thanksgiving, and extending into the New Year. We start the season with a thankful heart. We continue the season filled with joy as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We look forward to the adventures awaiting us in the New Year.

This time of year is extra special for an outstanding group of individuals – our Belhaven graduates. I know you are filled with joy as you anticipate commencement, and look forward to celebrating with your family and loved ones. Now the real work begins as you take this new found knowledge and experience into the world to continue to do great things! Congratulations graduates on your accomplishments!

Even with all of the joy, this season can sometimes get more stressful than joyful for some of us. When your holiday season becomes overwhelming, we need to remember that God wants us to be joyous this season.

I received a timely email with some great reminders of how to keep joy in your holiday. The author quotes from an article she read recently in Christian Today.

Six ways that you can make the most of your holidays…

Spend It With Family and Friends

Gifts, dinners and vacations are not to be the main reason for the celebration. Earthly possessions are great, but they are nothing compared to the joyous blessing of family and friends. God made us to be relational beings and even commands us to live a lifestyle of building relationships and loving one another (John 13:34).

Take Advantage of Focusing on Other’s Needs

The best part of the holidays isn’t the receiving, but the giving. Just like Acts 20:35 tells us “…It is more blessed to give than to receive…” Instead of focusing on what we’re going to get this season, why not set aside time and resources to give to the community and meet the needs of others?

Meditate on the Nativity Story

The true meaning of Christmas is Christ. It’s a great reminder of the wonderful news that our savior was born into this world to set us free from sin and iniquity. Taking time to meditate on the nativity story is a great idea to truly celebrate the reason for the season—Jesus. Celebrate the Intangibles Gifts are not the things that are of greatest value to us. Matthew 6:19 tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” The greatest gifts are things that money cannot buy, and those are what bring the most joy and happiness to us.

Invest Into Yourself

It’s not a sin to treat yourself. Think of the holidays as celebrating the win of holding fast to what God called you to do this year. God wants us to invest and take care of ourselves just as much as we love others (Mark 12:31).

Rest

Holidays are seasons of sabbatical rest that restores our souls and bodies as we approach God once more in worship and thanksgiving. Honoring the Sabbath is serious business to God, and the holiday season is a great way to experiencing God’s rest.

I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

christmas-tree

Want Success? Don’t Give Up!

SUCCESS.

Don’t we all want it? What does it take to succeed? Many people have tried and failed NUMEROUS times before they finally achieved success. What was their secret?

Thomas Edison: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”  

Winston Churchill:  “Never… never… never give up!”

Charlie Brown also gives us that very same advice: Never give up

Where are YOU in your journey to achieve your educational goals? Have you tried to get there before but just never were able to finish?  Are you right in the middle or near the end of your program? The past is where you learned the lesson. The future is where you apply the lesson. Don’t give up in the middle.

How are you feeling right now? Motivated? Tired? Excited? Determined? Discouraged? Your Belhaven faculty and staff are here to help you succeed! Let’s talk about it! We want to encourage you and see you reach your goal because OUR goal is YOUR success!


Be confident. Trust God every step of the way. He will give you the strength you need to complete your journey!

God will finish

“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” (Phil.1:6) 

   

Continue reading

Walking In

Two weeks ago, we were packing up our campus – preparing for the following day: moving day! I’ve never met anyone who likes to move. Given the choice between moving and having a root canal, I’ll take the root canal – gladly. However, the prospect that moving to a bright and shiny new facility would allow us to better serve our students was motivation enough. We were pumped and ready to pack. Just as we thought we couldn’t be more motivated, Joe walked in.

Joe is always walking in. Each evening when he walks into our campus, his hardy greetings seem to electrify the place. Joe walks into each office – into my office. Whatever is wrong with the day always gets a little better when Joe walks in.

As a non-traditional student, Joe is older than many of his millennial and Gen X classmates. As his instructor, I quickly found that Joe brought a lot of wisdom to the classroom and wasn’t shy to share it with us! Much has been written about generational differences these days. When Joe walked into my classroom, it became evident that there are more similarities than differences between us – that we’re all ultimately searching for the same things in life – confirmation that our lives matter: a sense of purpose.

We didn’t ask for student volunteers to help us prepare for the move, but, as I mentioned previously, Joe walked in – a May, 2016 graduate of Belhaven University (BS in Management) and newly enrolled graduate student (Master of Science in Leadership). We talked, laughed, packed, and all shared a meal together. A day that we had not looked forward to suddenly became a very good day.

The day after we packed for the move, Joe had a massive stroke. As of this writing, he is not doing well. Please pray for Joe. We don’t know if he will ever walk into our campus again – only God knows. A family member wrote the following: Joe was very proud of his work at Belhaven and learning with your organization gave him a great sense of purpose…thank you for that.

Of all the things that adult degree programs do for their students (better pay, opportunities for promotions, etc.), providing a student with “a great sense of purpose” represents our highest calling. Joe, and the adult students he represents, reminds us that amidst the discussion of career goals and academic planning, a much deeper longing motivates students when they walk through our doors.

I don’t think it’s an accident that adult students find purpose in programs like ours. The Christian worldview component has something to do with that for sure. There’s also the people component – the faculty, staff, and fellow students. We’re family, and its “family” that motivates a student to show up, to hang out, to walk into our offices –and ultimately into our lives. For this, we should be grateful.

 

 

Ed Pickel – Chattanooga/Dalton Campus

Keep Your Chin Up

 

Spring-Is-Sure-To-Follow

SPRING! It’s a new season. Beautiful colors are coming back into the landscape. Trees have green leaves again, and flowers are blooming. Soon the grass will need mowing again.   grass_border_3    Oh, maybe you didn’t want to be reminded of that!

Has it been a long winter for you? Have you faced more obstacles than opportunities lately? Are you tired? Is it hard to keep going to class and to complete your assignments each week?

Take a deep breath and remember why you are on this journey. You are in school to reach an educational goal you have set for yourself. You and many other students can get discouraged during the challenging times. Remind yourself of the reward at the end of the race.

Keep your focus on the finish line! diploma

KEEP YOUR CHIN UP!

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and

let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”

Proverbs 4:25-26

Keep Your Chin Up

The Wise Man

The Wise Man

Proverbs 17:10 advises that a reproof has more effect on a wise man than a severe beating has on a foolish man.

Each time I drop my (perfect, beautiful, intelligent) teenaged daughter at school, my parting words for her are “Love you! Remember, obey God and make good decisions today.” She smiles, rolls her eyes (she has heard it a thousand times) and jumps out to escape any more of Dad’s sage advice. And as she walks away, I silently pray that she will indeed live wisely.

I wish that I could report that I have learned and routinely practice the proverb I referenced above. Alas, too often while considering myself wise I do the most foolish things! And yes, life has a way of beating me up when I behave foolishly. I can look back on my life and see just a few key decisions that, had I chosen wisely, would have chartered a more fruitful course for me.

I suppose one of the greatest lessons in wisdom I have had to accept is that God puts people in my life to help me along the path of wisdom. My foolish pride has kept me from hearing their wisdom from time to time, but as I get older I am beginning to be able to hear. Oh that I would have heeded them as a young man! “Too soon old, too late wise.” NOW I get it!

I expected my mentors to be bigger than life, like in the movies. If God had put a Master Yoda or a Gandalf or perhaps a Lion King along my path I might (might!) have listened. But instead He put parents, siblings, friends, elders, bosses, coworkers, and especially teachers.

Teachers? I knew that teachers helped me gain knowledge, certainly, but wisdom?

And then I remembered all of the times I have reacted badly to a grade or corrective input regarding my schoolwork. “This isn’t fair! I turned in all of my work—where’s my ‘A’?” “How DARE he/she put that much red ink on my essay? Teacher just doesn’t like me…” and on and on, etc. etc. etc.

Yet, in all honesty, I learn more from my mistakes than from my successes. Having an instructor hurt my feelings and destroy my ego with a bunch of red ink made me a better writer, a more earnest critical thinker, a more studious student. Could it be that God placed that instructor in that classroom to reprove me? And, in so doing, he or she imparted something magical?

Proverbs 10:17 instructs me that he who heeds instruction is on the path of life. I like that. More importantly, I NEED that. In a world of darkness and death, someone who cares enough to impart life in the form of reproof is a gift from on high.

So, ego and hurt feelings notwithstanding, I strive to embrace wisdom. As the writer of proverbs stated so eloquently, I need to seek wisdom with all of my heart, shouting aloud for it and digging deep like searching for hidden treasure. And maybe take the advice of the wise ones God has blessed me with!

And so, if you encounter me from time to time with a bleeding ego, bruised feelings, or grousing about the injustice of the latest correction God has brought into my life, just remember (and maybe remind me) that God and His appointed teachers are molding me into a wise man.

 

Master Yoda

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!

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.