Greater Jackson Business Journal Interview

I was pleased to tell the story of Belhaven on the television program of the Greater Jackson Business Journal.

The interviewer is Jack Criss, who has been a longtime advocate for high standards of ethics and quality in business, and has done much to build up our city through his publications, television, and radio program.  He’s also a great friend of Belhaven.

Here is the 8 minute video segment

Switchfoot and John Perkins – Sept 29th


Here is the detailed info about this very special concert:

September 17, 2010: Belhaven is thrilled to welcome Switchfoot for a concert in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Wednesday, September 29. The band will be playing a benefits concert at 7 pm for the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development.

“The purpose of this night is to commemorate the unlikely partnership of a civil rights patriarch from Mississippi and a rock band from San Diego,” says Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot. “The concert will be a celebration of the life and words of John M Perkins- a man who refused to believe that the present injustices are final.”

Switchfoot is an American alternative rock band from San Diego, California. The band’s members are Jon Foreman (lead vocals, guitar), Tim Foreman (bass guitar, backing vocals), Chad Butler (drums, percussion), Jerome Fontamillas (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), and Drew Shirley (guitar, backing vocals).

In the spring of 2009 Foreman had the opportunity to meet Dr. John M. Perkins, Christian civil rights leader and founder of numerous ministries, including the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development. This meeting made a great impression on Foreman. .“During our time together,” says Foreman, “Dr. Perkins treated me like a long lost grandchild. He told me that our generation was quite possibly the generation that could make our national creed a reality: ‘All men are created equal.’” Dr. Perkins asked Foreman to write him a song ‘about the justice of love and the love of justice, a song about how compassion breaks the cycle of violence and creates new life.’ “ “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues)” was the outcome of the meeting; the song appears on Switchfoot’s 2009 album, Hello Hurricane.

Purchase your tickerts today online. Ticket prices range from $15 to $50 for VIP tickets. The VIP tickets include: a private pre-show meet and greet with the band; a limited edition poster signed by the band; a copy of the deluxe edition “Hello Hurricane” CD which includes 2 CDs (Hello Hurricane and Making a Hurricane), a DVD, an 84 page Hardback photo book, an additional poster, as well as front and center seating.

“My small hope is that this concert can raise funds for the JMP Foundation,” says Foreman. “They have a music studio that was robbed a few months back, with the money we raise we can get that program back on it’s feet. I’m hoping that this concert can be a lightning rod to attract the attention of more donors, and more folks who can partner with the JMP Foundation in and around Jackson.”

New Campus Walking Trails

Thanks to a wonderful gift of $350,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, we are in the process of installing two new walking trails on the campus.  One will circle the campus and be a mile in length, and the other will be in the interior of the campus with one lap being a half-mile.

Along with our students and employees, we are encouraging our Belhaven neighbors to use these two new walking trails. They will open in November.

Along with this new exercise resource, the grant also equips our new fitness center for students and employees.  And the the gift will provide ongoing healthy living programs for our campus and our neighborhood.

A full story will be in the Clarion Ledger this weekend.  Here is a map of the Green and Gold walking trails, and the full news release is below:

Screen shot 2010-09-17 at 8.45.39 PM

Belhaven University will partner with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to further the University’s commitment to fostering healthy life styles for its students, faculty, staff, and the Belhaven community-at-large.

Made possible by a $350,000 grant from the Foundation, the key components of the effort revolve around the development of two walking trails on the University’s 46 acre campus; informative and interactive health and wellness seminars, the completion of the campus exercise center, and the addition of a wellness message into the many summer camps held on the BU campus.  Construction has already begun on the walking trails with an anticipated completion date of November.  The “Campus Gold” trail will be approximately a mile in length and traverse the outside of the campus while the “Academic Green” trail will be just under a half mile and will highlight the center of campus.   The community health seminars will kick-off in January and will feature local and regional experts.  Both the walking trails and the wellness seminars will be open to both students and the general public.

Belhaven University President, Dr. Roger Parrott, noted that the gift from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation caps off a multi-year effort.  “Three years ago we began an aggressive initiative to help our students develop healthy lifestyles.  This gift from Blue Cross dramatically advances this effort by helping our students develop life-long exercise patterns. I’m especially thrilled we can invite our neighbors to use these walking trails and offer to them healthy living educational experience. We have a very special relationship with our neighbors, and I look forward to seeing neighbors coming to our campus to use these new walking trails.”

“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is focused on providing resources and funding to continue our commitment to a healthier Mississippi.  We are excited about the health and wellness initiatives being implemented at Belhaven University that will foster a healthy environment for the university and surrounding community,” said Sheila Grogan, Executive Director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.

Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation Director, Virgi Lindsay also welcomed the partnership.

“This announcement is wonderful news for the residents of Belhaven and will only add to the vibrant community activities found in the neighborhood.  We are excited that this project will not only benefit the University but will greatly enhance the Neighborhood as a whole.”

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation serves as a catalyst for programs and initiatives designed to improve the health of Mississippians.  More information about the Foundation is available at

Belhaven Blogs

I’m grateful that you’re reading my blog.  Thanks!!

I’d hate to be putting this stuff up, and find there is no one who sees it.  But I get the count every week, and hundreds of you read it.

I can also see a map of where you access this blog, and it lights up nearly all around the world.

But we have other Belhaven Blogs you may want to follow.

Today the Theatre Blog posted stories from the students majoring in Theatre about why they came to this program.

And the Graphic Design blog posted a fun story “Does Using Apple Products Make You More Christian”  If you’re an Apple fan like I am, you need to read this one.

Stephen Hawking and God

A helpful perspective from J. John

Stephen Hawking and God

In a slow week for news the theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has made headlines by stating in his latest book that he now sees no necessity for God in the  creation of the universe. (He also said that ‘philosophy is dead’ which suggests that when it comes to promoting books even the best scientists recognise the commercial value of a controversial statement.) His view raises issues for Christians; so let me respond to them.

First, Hawking’s apparent change in belief is not as radical as it seems. The way the story is being portrayed is that Hawking the believer has now, as a result of his research, become an atheist. But was he ever really a believer?  His association with the idea of God came about when, in his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, he concluded by mentioning the possibility of a theory of the universe that would allow discussion of the great question of its origin. In a final sentence he wrote, ‘If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God.’  It was a great line to end with and his editor must have loved it; Hawking himself has said that, ‘In the proof stage I nearly cut the last sentence … had I done so, the sales might have been halved.’ Now many people read that final sentence or heard it quoted and felt that Hawking was supporting religious faith. Indeed, in the twenty odd years since it was written it has sometimes been quoted as a defence of religious belief. Yet when you read more about Hawking’s thought it is clear that the ‘God’ he mentioned in that throwaway comment was little more than a  philosophical concept. His god was an academic answer to a cosmological puzzle and no more. So his denial of God in his most recent book is hardly a backtracking from a living faith but rather a shifting of position on what is  a purely intellectual debate.

Second, it is very clear that even if Hawking ever really seriously believed in a Creator, such a figure bore very little resemblance to the God of the Bible. A God who does no more than ‘light the blue touch paper of the universe’ and then disappears is not the God of Scripture. The Bible’s God is a being who doesn’t just create the cosmos but is intimately involved in every aspect of it and continues to sustain it. The God of the Bible did not create once but continues to create things every second. He is involved in the world at this moment; see for example Job 38, Psalm 104:10-30 and Matthew 6:26; 10:29. The Christian God is a God who was not just the Ultimate Physicist at the dawn of creation but someone who through Jesus Christ can be our heavenly Father.

Third, we need to listen to such pronouncements on the origin of the cosmos with some caution. Hawking is a very brave man in his confident belief that the origin of the universe does not need God. He is saying that he understands how, 13 or so billion years ago, this unimaginably vast and complex universe came into being. Given that serious cosmological research is barely 300 years old and has been conducted from only one small planet in a tiny corner of just one galaxy, perhaps a greater degree of humility would be appropriate. The mind of man is extraordinarily clever – and Professor Hawking’s is especially so – but it is wise to know our limits and to recognise that there are some things about which we may not have all the data and even some that may be utterly beyond our comprehension.

I am not at all surprised that Stephen Hawking did not find any proof for God in the incredibly complex mathematics of the Big Bang. Let us suppose for a moment that he had – that he had detected unmistakable evidence of God’s handiwork in the early history of the cosmos. On the one hand, it would be gratifying for the believer. Yet wouldn’t it suggest that God was some sort of academic snob who only really wanted to reveal himself to those who were extraordinarily intelligent? What would such a revelation say to those of us who struggle to add up our shopping bills? Or to those who can’t either read or write? No, I think I prefer the God of the Bible, who makes himself accessible through Jesus Christ to all who seek him.

Finally, it is worth making the point that an enormous problem still remains for Stephen Hawking and his followers.  One of the most fundamental of all questions is ‘Where did the universe come from?’ The Christian answer is to simply state that God made it out of nothing. Hawking’s answer to such a question is to say that nothing made the universe: that this greatest possible something came, of its own accord, out of absolutely nothing. Both views require faith but I know which of the two I find it easier to believe in!

J.John  (Canon)

Students from 20 Countries Enrolled

This fall we have forty-seven international students enrolled. Three of these students are graduate students.

Four students are enrolled in our new English as a Second Language offering, and seven additional students are taking one English language course.

Among these international students, South Korea is represented most strongly with ten students. Six students are from the United Kingdom, and five have come from Brazil.

We have three students from the countries of Columbia, France and Malaysia. We have two students from Canada, and two from China.

One student is at Belhaven from 12 different countries: Australia, Belize, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Twenty-two of these international students are athletes, with fifteen on the soccer team, and two each playing tennis, baseball, and men’s basketball. One international student plays on the volleyball team.

Many US universities have an overwhelming number of international students from one country, and few from the remainder of the world. At Belhaven, we are blessed to have such a diverse representation of the whole world among our students.

To have the world come to Belhaven enhances the quality of our educational experience campus experience and campus life for all our students.

** Every international student with us has a host family to support them during their time at Belhaven. And we have a designated team of staff who also help support these students and meet the needs while they are so far from home.

Tramaine Brock Makes NFL Roster

This year only three players out of the NAIA signed NFL contracts, and two of those were from Belhaven.

One of the three has made their way onto the final team roster … although there is still a chance for players be picked up after the season begins.

Congratulations to Belhaven’s Tramaine Brock, for being one of the 53 players who made the final cut of the San Francisco 49ers.

And looking ahead, I know of at least two NFL scouts who have already been on our campus this fall.

Here is the story from our web site:

Former Belhaven football defensive back Tramaine Brock has earned a spot on the San Francisco 49ers 53 man roster after having an excellent training camp this summer. Brock signed an NFL free agent contract with the 49ers in April following the 2010 draft.

In four games during the preseason, Brock had six total tackles as a defensive back/special teams player and came up with an interception against the San Diego Charges late in the fourth quarter to secure a win for San Francisco in their final preseason game last Thursday.

Brock, a native of Long Beach, MS, had a team high six interceptions and returned two for touchdowns for Belhaven in 2009. Brock tied the Belhaven single season record for most interceptions and compiled 51 total tackles with 2.5 sacks, and 13.5 tackles for a loss in the 2009 season. Brock also returned kicks for the Blazers averaging 17.4 yards per return with a long of 55 yards. Brock was named to the Mid-South Conference Western Division All-Conference Team.

“I’ll take any Tramaine Brock who wants to fall in my lap any day of the week,” Belhaven coach Joe Thrasher said. “He came in and he was just as humble as can be. He comes to work every day. He was a kid who was never late for practice, never missed a meeting, and was ‘Yes, sir,’ ‘No, sir.’ If something ever happened, I could say, ‘Tramaine,’ and he’d already know what he did wrong and correct it. He made my job easy.”

“There was one game when our free safety had 22 tackles, and Tramaine didn’t take out one but two fullbacks in the game,” Thrasher said. “He was spilling that thing to the outside, right to our free safety. He did anything to make our team better. He also had two interceptions that game. He was very unselfish.”

For more information on Brock’s rise to the NFL fans can read Comcast Sportsnet writer Matt Maiocco’s article “Longshot Brock Makes Most of Opportunities” on by clicking here. The San Francisco 49ers press release on the 53 man roster called “Off the Fringe, On the 53” can be viewed by clicking here.

Renewal – The Energy Drink

My week in August on a Montana trout stream, with only my fly rod and my bible – and without television, phone, or internet – was a total emersion in renewal.  But we can’t live from break-to-break and expect to be effective.

Rather, we must create an ongoing culture of renewal that is (1) dramatic, (2) deliberate, and (3) discerning.

1. Learning from the dramatic moments triggers renewal.

New Year’s resolutions don’t cause many people to eat right and exercise long term, but a heart-attack scare will do it almost every time.

Any life-pattern adjustment that moves far beyond teeth-gritting determination is usually born out of a dramatic moment.

Those dramatic moments are more often negative than positive, but we can have assurance in the sovereignty of God that He is using the hard times to teach and prepare us for what is yet to come. When life comes against us, we need to be looking to where God wants to push us rather than only pushing back.

Painful experiences require choosing between rejection or renewal.

Sometimes the trigger comes into our life because the Lord is testing and preparing us for something. Other times the stress comes because we’ve made bad choices and there are consequences to our actions.

Ideally, renewal is ignited because of the opportunities provided by insightful moments of reflection or dialog with other Christians we trust to give Godly advise.

Oftentimes the gigantic shifts in our lives, ministries, and society begin with a small moment of drama. Those who are renewed look for the unsettledness that can be the seedbed of change.

But no matter the source, God will use the dramatic moments to launch us into renewal if we are willing.

2. Deliberate action energizes renewal.

While the dramatic moments of opportunity or disappointment may trigger renewal, the real work is carried out in careful day-to-day follow-through.

Without ongoing implementation, our desire for renewal is fairly empty.

Renewal is not a one-time event. Like the life of holiness, renewal begins with a commitment, but then we must deepen, grow, and recommit ourselves continually to God’s calling. And in that process of sanctification, we can live and work confidently. Living in the center of God’s will is not a destination as much as it is the journey.

If we are going to be people who are renewed, sometimes it is best to “just do something,” even if it is not the ultimate change that needs to be made.

To get renewal moving, you could …

  • Take a day to see your calling in life from a bird’s-eye view rather than focus only on the day-to-day of your responsibilities.
  • Put the same level of energy into loving your kids and your spouse that you put into your job.
  • Get back into a routine of daily devotions.
  • Make a list of ways you can work smarter.
  • Take the time to fix something you’ll never get credit for doing.
  • Read something new in your field (or if you want to really be bold) outside your field of expertise.

Some action, even if it doesn’t focus on the area needing attention, can trigger renewal in other arenas. While a well-developed plan of renewal would seem admirable, I’ve found that just keeping the ball rolling is sometimes the key to grooving a path for change.

3. Discerning relationships accelerates renewal.

To develop a culture of renewal, you must become comfortable living with the ambiguous balance of growth and pruning in your working relationships.

Change in people will come with a grind of starts and stops, ups and downs, surprises and embarrassments.

Renewal is never easy. It is complex and messy, and only in hindsight is it usually attractive and admired. It is not the comfortable route for us or for those we are helping to renew.

But our calling demands a commitment to the disruptive work of renewal if we are to utilize fully the gifts of the people God has brought to us.

It would be orderly for us to shape around us “perfect employees” or the “perfect family” who fit our needs. But we will have missed our calling of loving in with the grace of Jesus, if we run from the disruptions necessary to allow every employee, friend, and family member the opportunity to grow and be pruned to become all God intends.

Renewal will not be an efficient straight line of progress. But renewal is a solid line of God’s strength and God’s outcome.

Evangelical and elite: Four approaches to power

Michael Lindsay a Belhaven University board member , a remarkable scholar holding positions of significance at Rice University, and an insightful sociologist who studies evangelical leadership in the Church and in the marketplace.

His recent article in the Washington Post, is a wonderful synopsis of the leadership opportunities and challenges of highly visible evangelicals in the marketplace

Evangelical and elite: Four approaches to power

Evangelicals have become significant players on the national stage, so much so that the actions and statements of their leaders ripple across the political and cultural landscape. What happens when evangelicals bring their faith convictions to bear on corporate America or the U.S. government? In particular, how does an evangelical Christian who also leads a major American institution–such as Walmart or the National Institutes of Health–invoke his or her faith when making big decisions?

Bradley C. Smith of Princeton University and I just published a study on this subject in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. It emerged out of a larger study (first published by Oxford University Press as Faith in the Halls of Power) for which I interviewed 360 evangelicals who were top American leaders. These elites included former President Jimmy Carter along with 50 cabinet secretaries and senior White House officials from the last five administrations. I also sat down with 100 CEOs, chairpersons and presidents of major companies including New York Life Insurance, Johnson & Johnson, Tyson Foods, and JC Penney. To round out the study, I met with over 150 leaders from the worlds of nonprofits, the arts, entertainment, and the news media.

I wanted to uncover how these people bring their personal religious convictions to bear on their roles as public leaders. In other words, how does religion seep into their relationships, their work, and the decisions they make?

We found four kinds of evangelicals in the corner offices of major U.S. institutions–the pragmatic, the heroic, the circumspect, and the brazen.

Pragmatic evangelicals are serious about their faith, but they don’t advertise it. In the words of Genworth’s Chief Investment Officer, Ron Joelson, “You don’t want to offend people who are not Christians. . . . [As someone] in a position of power and authority, I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable. . . . [That’s] not a particularly good witness.” Joelson’s sentiment was repeated by dozens of other leaders we studied.

Ed Moy, director of the U.S. Mint, takes a different approach. Early in his career, he worked in the private sector and was confronted by his boss after submitting his first expense report:

He shuts the door to his office, and says, “Let me explain something around here. We in sales management never believe that the company is paying us enough, and so…we measure the minimum amount of miles from home to work and back again, and that’s personal miles. Everything else . . . gets dumped in the business column, and that way you get an extra 50 [to] 75 bucks a month. If I were to hand this in, accounting is going to ask some questions, and then there’s a massive audit on everyone, and we can’t have that kind of trouble. So I’m telling you that if you’re interested in a career here, you’re going to change this expense report.”

The next week, when Moy submitted the expense report unchanged, his supervisor threatened to fire him (but, in the end, didn’t). Moy refers to the event as a “seminal moment” in shaping his understanding of the relationship between faith and work.

Moy and other evangelicals embody what we call heroic evangelicalism. Even if it costs them their jobs, these evangelicals refuse to compromise their core beliefs. Now, because evangelicalism is a large, diverse group (comprising about one-third of the U.S. adult population), what one evangelical regards as compromise, another sees as prudence.

The circumspect evangelical are leaders who prefer to signal their faith obliquely, rather than make explicit mention. Michael Duke, the CEO of Walmart, keeps a Bible on his desk and reads from it occasionally, but he’s uncomfortable being too direct about his Christianity.

As the CEO of the country’s biggest business, he has received a number of critiques, many of them challenging how he, as a Christian, could lead a company that pays its workers comparatively low wages and drives smaller businesses into the ground. When asked, he provides answers that would likely please Walmart’s supporters and frustrate its critics. But he doesn’t quote the Bible. He embodies a cosmopolitan evangelicalism that prefers to bear witness to his faith through subtle signals as opposed to explicit reference.

Finally, brazen evangelicals work in environments where they can take remarkable freedom in being bold about their faith. Some private companies give rise to this kind of Christianity, but the easiest examples come from professional sports.

Consider David Robinson, the San Antonio Spurs center who won both the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. Robinson felt an obligation to make known his evangelical faith, and he frequently led the team in prayer before games. Not all of his teammates appreciated Robinson’s praying in Jesus’ name, but no one actively resisted, including a Muslim player on the team. Robinson, like other brazen evangelicals, indiscriminately draws upon his faith with no adverse impact on his career.

These four postures of evangelical leadership–pragmatic, heroic, circumspect, and brazen–can be found all around us in American society. My hunch is that there are analogous approaches occurring among devout Jews in senior leadership positions, as well as among practicing Muslims and those of other faith traditions. Naturally, it will always be a challenge for committed people of faith in senior leadership positions to draw upon their faith sincerely and responsibly. But understanding how their beliefs are playing out on the national stage is the first step in helping them do so–and in holding them accountable for it.