A Pattern of Persistence

This afternoon I had the joy to share with all our new students and their parents. Several asked for the outline of the challenge to them, and so here it is:


Plan a purpose not a path for your life

1.  God called you here, and God never calls us to failure

2.  You are capable or we wouldn’t have let you into Belhaven

3.  Persistence in college will require a new level of discipline

4.  Reach out for help when you need support

5.  LEARN to Persevere

Romans 5:3-4 ‘We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.’

  • Rejoice in the problems and trials  –  because
  • Problems and trials are good for us  –  because
  • We must learn endurance  –  because
  • Endurance develops strength of character   –  because
  • Character strengthens confidence

Each challenge in life is God’s way of preparing our character to give us confidence to handle something greater yet to come.

Only in Christ can we have a consistent character to live in confidence.

New Fresh Start Today

This afternoon at 3:30 we will welcome about 225 new students to our first year class.  They start today, but the goal of their coming to Belhaven is not to just start, but to finish.

So the date that is most important is not today, but their graduation date:

May 11, 2013

Let’s all be praying, working, helping, and even sometimes carrying them to assure they reach that goal and become the person God designed them to be.

Sungkyul University

This week we signed a “sister school” partnership with Sungkyul University in Seoul Korea. President Jeong was with us for our opening service of dedication for the school year, and he will shared more about Sungkyul with our faculty and staff at our Campus Celebration.

This relationship opens the door for us to exchange students and faculty. They are a Christ-centered institution that share ideals with Belhaven, and we pray that God will bless our new partnership.

Although the videos are in Korean, if you’d like to see the campus and a bit of the spirit of Sungkyul University, here is a short presentation:

How High the Moon

Les Paul died yesterday at the age of 94. He was one of the most remarkable innovators in music, as well as an incredible guitarist.

He was the first to develop the electric guitar, although others take credit as well. Today a “Les Paul” made by Gibson is the cream of the crop in guitars.

More importantly, he and his wife Mary Ford were the first to develop multi-track recording. Using a regular tape recorder, they would record a song, and then play it back, recording over it again….until they achieved the full sound of multi-track recording which is standard today.

Their recording of “How High the Moon” is a classic…..and is played often on my iPod.

Something I didn’t know about him that I found today in a report:

In January 1948, Paul was injured in a near-fatal automobile accident in Oklahoma, which shattered his right arm and elbow. Doctors told Paul that there was no way for them to rebuild his elbow in a way that would let him regain movement, and that his arm would remain permanently in whatever position they placed it in. Paul then instructed the surgeons to set his arm at an angle that would allow him to cradle and pick the guitar. It took him a year and a half to recover.

Get Some Sleep

As one who tends to stay up far too late sending emails, I’ve been interested in the number of stories I’ve seen about sleep issues during the past few weeks.

Here are some facts to consider — sleep on them and see what you think.

People who suffer from insomnia take sick days twice as often as those who do not, according to a report by The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. The study found that over a six-month period, the condition cost employers an average of 4.4 days of wages for each untreated sufferer, plus indirect costs due to lower productivity and mistakes made because of lack of sleep.

Harvard Business review reports:

34% of American adults take a nap on a typical day. Napping is most common at the lower end of the pay scale — 42% of those with annual incomes below $30,000 told the Pew Research Center they had napped in the previous 24 hours — and it declines as income rises. 21% of those with yearly pay between $75,000 and $99,000 reported napping, the lowest of any income group. The urge (or the time) to nap returns among those who make more than $100,000: 33% had napped in the past day..

USA Today reports in today’s paper:

6 hours of sleep? It’s not enough

SAN FRANCISCO — Scientists have good and bad news for hard-driving people who boast they need only six hours of sleep a night.

The good news is a few may be right: Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco have identified a family with a genetic mutation that causes members to require only six hours sleep a night. The bad news? The gene is vanishingly rare in humans, found in less than 3% of people.

So almost everyone who says he needs only six hours’ sleep is kidding himself. And the consequences of chronic sleep deprivation are serious, says Clete Kushida, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and director of Stanford University’s Sleep Medicine Center. Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in motor vehicle accidents, deficiencies in short-term memory, focus and attention. It’s also tied to depressed mood and a decrease in the ability to control appetite.

The family members — a mother and daughter with the gene mutation — were discovered by researchers at UCSF studying circadian rhythms, the waxing and waning biochemical cycles that govern sleep, hunger and activity. Neither woman needed more than six to 6½ hours of sleep a night, and yet both were well-rested, healthy and energetic.

“One of them is over 70, always traveling internationally and extremely active. She dances three or four nights a week,” says Ying-Hui Fu, a professor of neurology at UCSF.

When scientists examined the pair’s DNA, they found a mutation in a gene called DEC2, which governs cell production and circadian rhythm.

The mutation seems to result in people who need much less than the normal eight to 8½ hours that most humans require for well-rested functioning, according to the paper, which is published in today’s edition of the journal Science. The research by Fu and her colleagues determined that humans and mice that carry the mutation get more intense sleep, as measured by slow-wave electrical activity in the brain, and so they need less of it.

But Fu estimates that only about 3% of the population is likely to have this gene and cautions that most people who habitually get less than eight hours sleep a night are only building up a large, and dangerous, sleep debt.

Fu says her lab is investigating whether it might be possible to mimic the effects of the gene with therapeutic compounds, but she cautions the research is only at the very beginning. For now, the only real answer to true productivity is to sleep as much as your body needs, she says.

Great Breakfast

I hosted our 35 Resident Assistants (students) Resident Directors (staff) who provide leadership for our residence halls.  This is one of my favorite events every year, and this morning was no different.  What a great group.

I had the chance to share with them some plans for the new year.  And most importantly thanked them for the critical ministry work they do among our students who live on campus.

I enjoyed praying for them . . . and they wanted to take time to pray for me.  Doesn’t get much better than that as a way to start the morning.


Harvard Makes Up Billions in Losses – Sort of

The loss of billions of dollars in Harvard’s endowment has sent the University into the type of stewardship that we in the real world of higher education have to cope with all the time.

I read the other day that just in their  school of Arts and Sciences they need to cut $220 million from the operating budget.

One of the solutions was to run the shuttle buses to the parking lot on 20 minute intervals rather than 10 minutes.  It’s going to take a lot of shuttle bus runs to make up that type money.

Today, the higher ed news came out with this new addition from Harvard.  Too many in higher education have never had to be careful about spending in the past, so it is becoming almost comical to see them grasping at straws to avoid cutting their bloated budgets.

Harvard Licenses Line of Preppy Clothing
Harvard University has licensed its name for use by a designer clothing company that will soon be selling a “Harvard Yard” line, Bloomberg reported. While financial terms were not revealed, the clothing line may relate more to the university’s desire to replenish its endowment. While Harvard has made a point in recent years of stressing that it is open to students of all economic means, the same may not be said of the clothing. Trousers will start at $195 and shirts at $160, and the look will be preppy.

Standing for Faith in Christ

I received this email a few minutes ago from one of my friends at Elam. I trust you’ll join me in supporting these two women with  prayer for God’s strength in this battle to stand for their faith in Christ.

Dear friends,

In a dramatic session before the revolutionary court yesterday (Sunday August 9) in Tehran, Maryam Rustampoor (27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh (30) were told to recant their faith in Christ. Though great pressure was put on them, both women declared that they would not deny their faith. Maryam and Marzieh were originally arrested on March 5, 2009 and have suffered greatly while in prison, suffering ill health, solitary confinement and interrogations for many hours while blindfolded.

On Saturday August 8, Maryam and Marzieh were summoned to appear in court on Sunday August 9 in order to hear a verdict on their case.  The chief interrogator had recommended a verdict of ‘apostasy.’  However, when they arrived, no verdict was actually given.  Instead, the court session focussed on the deputy prosecutor, Mr Haddad, questioning Maryam and Marzieh about their faith and telling them that they had to recant in both verbal and written form. This made it clear that in the eyes of the court, Maryam and Marzieh’s only crime is that they have converted to Christianity.

Mr. Haddad, asked the two women if they were Christians. “We love Jesus,” they replied.  He repeated his question and they said, “Yes, we are Christians.”

Mr. Haddad then said, “You were Muslims and now you have become Christians.”

“We were born in Muslim families, but we were not Muslims,” was their reply.

Mr. Haddad’s questioning continued and he asked them if they regretted becoming Christians, to which they replied, “We have no regrets.”

Then he stated emphatically, “You should renounce your faith verbally and in written form.”  They stood firm and replied, “We will not deny our faith.”

During one tense moment in the questioning, Maryam and Marzieh made reference to their belief that God had convicted them through the Holy Spirit.  Mr. Haddad told them, “It is impossible for God to speak with humans.”

Marzieh asked him in return, “Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?”

Mr. Haddad then replied, “You are not worthy for God to speak to you.”

Marzieh said, “It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy.”

Mr. Haddad told the women to return to prison and think about the options they were given and come back to him when they are ready (to comply). Maryam and Marzieh said, “We have already done our thinking.”

At the end of the session, Mr. Haddad told them that a judge will give them his verdict, though it is not clear who will be the judge in their case now.  He also allowed Maryam and Marzieh to have a lawyer represent them in the case for the first time since their arrest.

Both women are back in Evin prison tonight.  During their five-month ordeal, both have been unwell and have lost much weight. Marzieh is in pain due to an on-going problem with her spine, as well as an infected tooth and intense headaches. She desperately needs medical attention. Two months ago the prison officials told her the prison had proper medical equipment and that they will attend to her, but so far no proper treatment has been given.

Despite the concentrated effort of officials to pressure them into recanting their faith, Maryam and Marzieh love Jesus and they are determined to stand firm to the very end no matter whatever happens.  They have demonstrated their love for Jesus and would offer their lives for Him if they were called to do so.  After today’s court session they said, “If we come out of prison we want to do so with honor.”

Maryam and Marzieh’s case is a clear and harsh violation of human rights and religious liberty by Iran’s authorities. They deserve the support of all those who respect human rights and to be released without charges so they can pursue a life of freedom.

Thank you for praying.
The Elam team

Let’s Get This Academic Year Started!

Where did the summer go?

Seems like yesterday that I was standing on the commencement platform singing the alma mater and thinking about the great summer ahead – books to read, golf to play, trout to catch, projects to complete.

That didn’t work out so well, as every day all summer seemed to fly by.

Two rounds of golf later (and not a single dry fly casted to a trout), it is time for the academic year to get started. But I can’t wait, becuase that’s lots more fun than anything else I could be doing.

Next week is jammed with lots of activity.

  • The athletes begin to come in on Monday.
  • Our Administrative Team has a half day meeting on Monday to get coordinated for the start of the semester.
  • Student Affairs training begins early in the week – and I always look forward to my annual breakfast with the RAs on Tuesday morning.
  • Wednesday evening is our Service of Dedication for all faculty, staff, and spouses at 7:00 in the Concert Hall.
  • Thursday morning is our Campus Celebration for all employees from 8:30 to 11:00 am in the Concert Hall.
  • Thursday and Friday are the Faculty Workshop – five new faculty joining us this year.
  • Saturday the new students arrive for Orientation – the entering class looks very strong.

I’m glad the summer is over and the campus will be jammed full of activity again.  That’s as good as it gets.