13 Lies the Enemy May Say, but God Says……..

The life of an adult learner has its ups and its downs. The enemy has a tendency to attack one who is trying to advance themselves more than the average person, but we have tools to help us overcome. God’s word is always present and available to help us fight. This is why we must use his message, which is our double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), to fight the enemy’s voice.

Here are 13 things the enemy may say to us, but God says:

The enemy says: You can figure it out.

God says: I’ll direct your steps.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The enemy says: You are too tired.

God says:I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28-30

The enemy says: It’s impossible.

God says: All things are possible.

Luke 18:27

The enemy says: Nobody loves you.

God says: I love you.

John 3:16

The enemy says: You can’t forgive yourself.

God says: I forgive you.

Romans 8:1

The enemy says: It’s not worth it.

God says: It will be worth it.

Romans 8:28

The enemy says: You are not smart enough.

God says: I will give you wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:30

The enemy says: You are not able.

God says: You are able.

2 Corinthians 9:8

The enemy says: You can’t go on.

God says: My grace is sufficient.

2 Corinthians 12:9

The enemy says: You can’t do it.

God says: You can do all things.

Philippians 4:13

The enemy says: You can’t manage.

God says: I will supply all your needs.

Philippians 4:19

The enemy says: I’m afraid.

God says: I have not giving you fear.

2 Timothy 1:7

The enemy says: You are alone.

God says: I will never leave you.

Hebrews 13:5

Do not ever give up! Remember to use these scriptures as a weapon when the enemy tries to attack you.


Alison Gentry

What Are Your Gifts?

Adult Studies Blog: September 2014


Virginia Garrison, Director of Retention Services


We all have gifts… things we are good at doing… or that we have the potential to do well but haven’t fully developed. What are your gifts? Do they need development?

Do you like to work with people? Are you good at organizing? Maybe you have the gift of administration.

Are you compassionate? Do you like to help and encourage others? Maybe you have the gift of mercy and service.

Are you a “take charge” type of person? Are you good at communicating? Maybe you have the gift of leadership.

Are you good at explaining things to others and enjoy seeing them learn? Maybe you have the gift of teaching.

Do you involve yourself in ministry? Would you like to use that gift to its fullest?

There are too many possibilities to list in this short message. Whatever your gifts may be, wouldn’t you like to develop them further? Wouldn’t you like to use them to the best of your ability? Completing your degree could help you do that! Belhaven University offers many options, including business management, social services, health administration, leadership, Christian ministry, Biblical studies, teacher education, etc.

Why not give yourself the “gift” of education and reach your full potential? In doing so, you will also be helping others who will benefit from receiving what you have to give!

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

1 Peter 4:10

Belhaven University Verse of the Year 2014-2015

Shatter Your Rear-View Mirror!

“The past is in the past!” –from “Let It Go” in the Disney movie Frozen

I have to admit something before we go any further into this post—I have a past. Although I am content with much of my personal history, I am certainly unable to claim that my past is pristine, and I can vociferously argue for keeping the past firmly in the past. I think most of society would agree with me for one reason. Delving into the past means the possibility of unearthing those things we have tried to forget.

They can include an “unfortunate” string of rejected invitations for a high school dance (check), being trapped by peers in a walk-in closet, coughing from the beautifully overpowering cloud of air spray sneaking under the door (again, check—this actually happened to me, and I somehow got in trouble for it!), or being overheard by the wrong person at the wrong time (a thousand checks). As you probably realize, though, I’m still only writing about events from my past that I feel comfortable admitting, but if I move a few mental bookshelves, I can find the dark corner where I store the memories I don’t want to remember.

Over time, we’ve all adopted some euphemisms to describe these things-that-shall-not-be-named: skeletons in the closet, dirty laundry, and baggage (to name a few), and I am no exception. Still, whenever I summon the inner strength to venture past the dust and spider webs to examine these mental artifacts, I think about the past that could have been and long for the present that should have been.


What if I had kept my medical school plans? What if I had taken that job? What if I had been a bit more honest and a bit more careful? What if I had extracted every ounce of potential from every critical moment? What if I had been spent more time with the kids? What if I had stopped asking questions earlier?


For adult learners, these kinds of questions are familiar. The empty spot on the wall haunts us, and the missing line on the resume taunts us. Furthermore, those of us prone to envy have a delightful time with social media #grassisgreener #sarcasm.

(Note: If you don’t understand the #statements, search “hashtagging” online. If you don’t know how to search online, ask some toddlers. You will be shocked by their prowess—seriously.)

Although each of us has a personal motivation for returning to college, every motivation is rooted in the past—the past of NOT being in school.  We want our future to be different, so we change our present to keep us from reliving our past.

So how do we get past our past? I offer some blatantly out of context advice that I’ve heard at least five million times, courtesy of my daughter. As Queen Elsa sang in Disney’s Frozen, just “let it go.”

More seriously, we should follow Paul’s example from Phil. 3:12-14 (NIV):

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I’m not suggesting that we should all find a way to induce amnesia, but maybe we should neglect that dark corner in our minds. Ultimately, the so-called “baggage” of our past only has as much control of our future as our present thoughts allow.

So even on those long, tiring nights of papers and pencils, we don’t have much use for the rear-view mirror. Our past mistakes won’t write our papers or pass our exams, nor should they define who we are.

If you failed algebra, you are not a failure.  You failed a class.

If you lost a job, you are not a loser.  You lost a job.

What are you then? You are someone trying to change the future for yourself and those around you.  You are creating new opportunities from the lessons you have learned from your errors, and if your faith is in Jesus, you are a child of the King.

Put more succinctly, YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

So while you’re thinking about it, break that rear-view mirror.  You won’t be needing it.

Education and Leadership Development

Are leaders born or made?

VOLUMES have been written over the past decade about situational leadership, transactional leadership, crisis leadership, transformational leadership, servant leadership, and just about every nuance of leadership that one can imagine. Entire careers have been made lecturing on the importance of leadership and selling the latest leadership development approach.

One thing that most of the literature seems to agree on: Leaders are both born AND made. My take is that they are born of necessity rather than just from the womb. They are also made in the crucible of business, ministry, opportunity, and crisis.

Why is leadership development important for executives? For starters, most professionals in any realm (sports, military, business, ministry, etc.) usually want to be the best that they can be. Professionals take NOTHING for granted, including their leadership style and ability. While some are born with great charisma and drive, they understand that past success is no guarantee of future success.   (Even Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks work daily with a quarterback coach to improve their skills!)

 Also, effective executives understand that their realm of influence is constantly changing.  Teams change, organizations change, rules change, economies change. The style or skill that worked well yesterday may be outdated today.

Finally, I believe that the best leaders look for ways to develop leadership skills among their team members. Whether it is encouraging subordinates to enroll in a professional MBA program, having them attend leadership education seminars, or by providing opportunities to lead projects in-house, the best executive leaders strive to build an energized, empowered team of professionals. They create an environment in which it is okay to make a mistake now and then as long as the mistake is made while trying to complete the organizational mission in an ethical way.

The Burden of Your Calling

Jesus doesn’t mince words when he talks about our responsibilities as his followers – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).

I finally figured out that the reason this verse has never really bothered me is because I’ve never really understood it. There’s so much here that blows right over my head…come after Christ, deny myself, take up my cross. Really? How does that work?

Until yesterday. That is, it wasn’t until yesterday that I began to understand it. Okay, at least part of it. As I read the verse, the phrase “take up your cross daily” began to resonate. What does the cross mean within this context? Among other things, it seems to me that the cross represents two things (at least): It was Christ’s burden, but it was also a symbol of his calling to bring salvation to his people through his sacrificial death.

We don’t have to look too far in scripture to sense the burden of Christ’s calling. He agonized in Gethsemane; great drops of blood fell from his face as he contemplated what was about to happen to him. He cried “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” “I’m thirsty.” “It is finished.”

It’s beginning to make sense to me now. Jesus asks me to take up my cross daily. I have a calling. The question I now find myself asking is to what extent do I feel the burden of my calling? When was the last time I agonized over my role as a father, an employee, or a member of my community? Quick prayers said on the drive to work or shallow have-a-nice-day devotionals do not reflect a life that feels the burden of a calling. Rather, I’ve come to realize that the “burdened” life requires sacrificial prayer, extensive time in God’s word, and love-motivated obedience to the one who called me.

If you’re reading this blog, you have a calling as well. Your primary calling is the calling to become a follower of Christ through repentance and belief in the good news of the gospel. Beyond that, there’s the calling to serve him in the various spheres of life in which you find yourself (family, work, church, community – just to name a few). For our students on Belhaven University’s adult campuses, they’ve realized that completing an undergraduate or graduate degree represents God’s calling to prepare them for leadership usually in, but not limited to, their workplaces. If God is calling you to serve him as an adult university student, we can help! Many of our staff members have been adult (non-traditional) students and know the balancing act that must take place for adults to successfully complete their education.

I’ve resolved not to take my calling lightly any more, and I hope that’s your resolution as well. I want to experience the burden of my calling each day as Christ has asked me to. To do anything less is to trivialize a role that the Creator-God of this universe has given me.

Season for Change?

September is a month of transition…the hot days of summer begin to cool down…the colors of nature begin to change to a new and vibrant palette…fall is in the air…and the season of autumn officially arrives on September 22.

Transition…change…transformation…can be a wonderful thing! Is it time for a transition in your life? Do you want to make a positive change for yourself and for those around you? What if you were to be transformed into a person with more confidence, more knowledge, more understanding? Would that change your life?

I’ve been working in adult education for over 20 years, with Covenant College and now Belhaven University. I have seen hundreds of transformations during those years…people who literally changed their lives by adding Christian education and earning a degree to their life experience. Here are a few examples of amazing transformations I have witnessed:

  • The young man who was the first in his family to earn a college degree and was then able to fulfill his dream of a professional position helping children of divorce
  • Single moms who were able to get better jobs to support themselves and their children
  • Employees who had been passed over for promotions because they didn’t have a degree and who received promotions and raises after finishing their degrees…some even before finishing
  • The dad whose children were in high school, and he wanted to finish his college degree before they did, and he succeeded
  • The woman who had a dream and started her own business when she finished her degree
  • Parents who wanted to be role models for their children and show them the value of education
  • The 75-year-old woman who wanted to complete what she started many years ago and graduated last May…you’re never too old!
  • Veterans and current military students, some getting higher ranks with their degrees
  • People dissatisfied with their jobs, wanting to change careers, and doing so with a degree
  • Dads and moms wanting better lives for their families
  • The student who was extremely afraid of public speaking when she began classes but gained confidence and became a public relations spokesperson for a large corporation after graduation
  • Students who had tremendous growth in their faith, some totally amazing!
  • And the list could go on and on…

Are you like any of them, or do you have your own special situation? Do you want change in your life? Would you like to be transformed? Belhaven University is an institution where you can discover your place, your purpose.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.    (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Is this your season for change?

Take and Give


A couple of weeks ago, Belhaven University’s Chattanooga campus experienced its first commencement exercise. Dr. Niel Nielson, president of sister institution Covenant College, gave a challenging exhortation to our graduates to pursue their callings. It was the type of evening that those of us in the field of education live for.

I’m the director of admission at Belhaven’s Chattanooga adult and graduate studies campus; I’m also an adjunct faculty member. Among other things, this means that I get to know our students at the beginning, during, and at the end of their college experience. It’s my role as a teacher, however, that allows me to interact with our students in an up-close-and personal way.

As working adults and college students, their lives, for the most part, have become exercises in calculated chaos. I’m thinking of a single mother who writes a ten-page research paper while putting the kids to bed – with Good Night Moon in one hand and her marketing text in the other. And then there’s a dad who works two jobs to support his family but somehow finds the time to return to school and pursue his college degree. Ask him why, he’ll tell you that he does it for his family…to be an example for his kids as well as to increase his income. I see students struggle with family members’ illnesses, the loss of jobs, and many other types of personal struggles too numerous to name. As a teacher, I’m also privileged to experience the joys of the adult college experience – getting to know people in their diversity, learning to work together on a project, sharing in their “I can do this” moments.

At this year’s graduation, I spoke to a young lady who had started her journey toward a college degree several years ago. I can remember the day that she came to our campus to talk about returning to school. There were a series of starts and stops, and, to be honest, I wondered if she would make it. But there she was…a smile, a hug, a thank you, a college degree. Graduation – I love it.

Why do adults return to school to earn their college degrees? In the field of adult education, this is a well researched question. There are a lot of answers, but the way I see it, the foundational answer is found somewhere in the process of “take and give.” Here’s what I mean…

In a previous post, I referred to Jesus’ story about the rich fool and his disciples’ reaction to it (Luke 12). It appears to me that this story pushed Jesus’ followers way outside their comfort zones. The problem was that the rich man used the fruits of his success to ensure an easy and care-free life. The lesson for his disciples (and us) was that they should not take comfort in their plans for personal security; rather, they should trust God for everything – even for things like food and clothing. Predictability and security were no longer to be part of life’s strategic plan. Rather, they were things to be taken by God and replaced with something much better.

To be more specific, Jesus had taken away his follower’s need to find security in material things and replaced it with security that is only found in his kingdom…”Do not fear little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32, NKJV). The principle here is that Jesus takes from us before he gives to us. Think about it. Before anything worthy of the kingdom takes place in our lives, Jesus has to take away those things that will ultimately hinder experiencing his kingdom…a process of take and give.

For our students who would call themselves Christ-followers, they will tell you that their return to college represents a divine calling. As they pursue their callings into the classroom, they find that many of life’s activities have been taken – sacrifices made – in order that they may experience the joys of God’s provision during the process of earning their degrees. It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but our students will tell you that it is a very rewarding process. After all, there’s freedom in knowing that God will meet our needs – right down to what we eat and wear. However, the “knowing” comes only as a result of God’s taking – a trial exchanged for a kingdom …sacrifice exchanged for, in the case of our students, graduation.

As I spoke with my just graduated applicant/student/friend, it was obvious that she learned this lesson. Perhaps something as wonderful as graduation is a taste of kingdom victory – a reward for trusting God totally and submitting to his process of “take and give.”


Trading a Crisis for a Kingdom

Have you ever been blindsided by information or an event that totally changed the way you looked at the world? Maybe it was news that your job would be terminated or that you or a loved one were about to face a serious medical challenge. Something happened that struck fear in your heart. You realized that life would never be the same.

I think the difference between teenagers and adults is the way they make life-altering decisions. Teens are usually forward thinking and make major decisions based on their dreams. They’re going to change the world. Those of us who are deeper into life (job, family, community) are more reactionary. We typically think we’ve got life figured out until something unexpected slaps us in the face and turns our world upside. When that happens, our reactions become attempts to restore the equilibrium in life we experienced prior to the event. We’re afraid, and we don’t want to be afraid any more.

Jesus shared an interesting story with his followers that is typically referred to as the parable of the rich fool. You know the story. A rich guy had some good years which turned into a good life. He was so successful that he had to build bigger buildings to store all of his stuff. His attitude was “I’ve worked hard, provided for my family…it’s time to kick back and relax.” So far, so good. Most of us Americans can connect with his “I’ve worked for it – it’s mine” mentality. Actually, most of us, if we’re honest, must admit that we don’t have a problem with it. Jesus’ disciples probably didn’t have a problem with it either. After all, isn’t it prudent to work and save so that you can take care of yourself and your family in the future? Yes, but…

I think Jesus’ disciples were responsible, professional, business oriented people who may have been surprised by the slap-in-the-face, life-altering, paradigm-shifting ending of Jesus’ story: Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:20-21, NKJV).

Did Jesus’ followers expect such a tragic end for an otherwise successful entrepreneur? In fairness to the text, the parable of the rich fool is about covetousness. This business man was extremely successful and not willing to share his excess. However, I don’t think his disciples got it. Have you ever wondered why Jesus spent the next 12 verses (Luke’s account) calming them down (“don’t’ worry,” “do not fear, little flock”)? What Jesus’ followers heard, I believe, was “Forget what you’ve learned about profits, savings, and a business model that generates some level of predictability.” Instead, Jesus tells them to seek his kingdom first and all of their needs would be met. Did you catch that? Don’t worry about food, clothing, shelter, planning – trust God instead. Has any one of us done that today…this week…month…ever?

As an admissions director at one of Belhaven University’s adult and graduate studies campuses, I deal with adults whose lives, many times, have been uprooted by unexpected information or events. In fact, one of the main drivers of adults returning to college these days is a life crisis – the loss of a job, of a potential promotion…of a spouse. Like Jesus’ disciples, we find our lives clipping along at a comfortable and somewhat predictable pace only to find that kingdom life isn’t based on some rational model found in a textbook.

In response to his disciples’ crisis of faith recorded in Luke 12, Jesus taught a lesson of trust and hope: Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Jesus asked his followers to exchange the old paradigm of possessions and predictability for the new paradigm of the kingdom (giving and serving). He taught them that the transition requires trust, a step of faith, and the willingness to exchange worry about the future for a day-by-day trusting in his resources.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably expected it to somehow relate to adult education. Here’s the connection. I’ve worked in this field long enough to have learned that, for many adults, returning to college is perceived as part of the solution to an unexpected life crisis. If a job is lost or a promotion missed, returning to college can make one more marketable. If we’ve been part of an organization’s “right-sizing” strategy, an undergraduate or graduate degree can help us transition to a new career path. For many, earning a degree can provide a level of job security in uncertain economic times.

If you feel that your circumstances are pushing you back into the classroom, you’re not alone. More than one-half of today’s college students are non-traditional, adult students. In fact, Belhaven University has six adult and graduate campuses around the southeast that make up a community of adult learners who have decided to take Jesus at his word. Returning to college is not easy or comfortable, but for our students it has become the next step forward. For those who seek Jesus’ direction in their lives, there are many examples of God’s provision. They’ve learned that out of a crisis comes a kingdom, and in that kingdom are found all of the resources needed for the task at hand…and much more.




Adult Degree Programs and Community Building


If you’re a working adult reading this article, chances are that you have considered returning to school. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 48% of all adults over the age of 40 participated in degree programs or classes in 1999, and the trend continues today. Nearly 50% of all college students are 25 years of age or older. Eighty percent of these students work full time while attending class.

Why are adults returning to the classroom in record numbers? Some adults are returning to school in order to gain skills or credentials that will protect their current jobs or help them find new jobs. Others are returning for personal reasons – to finish what they started. Whatever the reason, the adult student has become as much a part of the college landscape as the bell tower or backpack.

The adult returning to college brings many issues to the table. Long gone are the days when she can focus totally on her studies with little else to worry about. For most adults returning to college, this new endeavor must be balanced with work, family, and a myriad of other activities that compete for the student’s time. Institutions that offer educational programs for adult learners must offer a learning environment that is designed to meet the unique needs of the adult learner. In order to make these “non-traditional” students successful in their return to the classroom, traditional programs must become “non-traditional.”  They must reach out to adult students with new and innovative approaches rather than expecting them to conform to an environment designed for younger students with less complicated lives.

The degree programs that you will find on Belhaven University’s adults studies campuses represent such an approach. We recognize that learning takes place when adult students are challenged to link newly acquired information to their career activities. The classroom environment, weekly assignments, and project-team assignments are all designed to maximize learning in ways that are meaningful to the adult learner.

The need to attend college while not neglecting other responsibilities is an important issue for the adult considering a return to college. Students in Belhaven’s non-traditional degree programs attend class once a week instead of two or three times a week. This allows more time for family, church, work and all of those other things that require the student’s attention. The convenience of our adult degree programs is enhanced by impeccable student services and competitive tuition rates than include the costs of books

So, what does all of this have to do with my theme of community building? Having been told a few years back that “it takes a village to raise a child,” we can’t help but acknowledge, in this turbulent economy, that it takes education to build and sustain the village. Education is an integral part of any attempt to build better communities. The bottom line is that when adults can complete their college degrees, communities benefit in a number of ways. Local businesses benefit from a workforce enhanced by the knowledge and abilities of the college graduates. Local economies benefit from the increased purchasing power that a college degree brings to its recipients. Families benefit from the positive changes in quality of life that usually accompany the mother or father who now has a college degree.

Belhaven University’s adult studies campuses have been part of this type of community building since 1996. With a reach that includes Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis; Houston; Orlando; Atlanta; and Chattanooga; our graduates are impacting communities throughout the southeast and beyond. At one time, most of these people thought that they would never complete their college degrees.  As the lives of most working adults become more complicated in these uncertain times, Belhaven University remains committed to offering uncomplicated ways for adult learners to realize their dreams and contribute to the growth and well being of their communities.


What is a Re-entry or Adult Student?

Re-entry or adult students (also called non-traditional students) are generally age 25 or over, with ages ranging from 25 to 69 at many colleges and universities. Re-entry students are often female; but men are returning to college in record numbers to update professional skills and further career advancement. Some may never have attended college or started college and then stopped because of personal, financial, or other reasons. Many have spent time in the workforce, the the military, or in raising a family, and want to go back to fulfill lifelong dreams or potential. Some are retired while others are single parents looking to achieve a better life. (The Department of Education recently reported that 13 percent of students now enrolled in college were single parents, up from 7.6 percent in 1993.) Economic reasons are a strong factor: students want to change careers or update professional credentials. Some adult students continue to work while returning to school while others attend part-time. It is never too late to go back to school. You may be just starting a degree program, returning to finish a degree, seeking a second degree or an advanced degree, or taking courses for occupational or personal enrichment.