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31531388_2135635573119502_1994887011911073792_nEducation has fallen on hard times. Enrollment is one of the non negotiable items in the world of higher education. Administrators lose sleep over declining numbers with each passing academic year.

Private institutions of higher education are feeling the tightening belt even more. That magic number attached to enrollment makes heads spin, competent employees to panic, and media sites to attack the topic in a feeding frenzy. Education finds its identity in the numbers census of bodies in desks.

This is my world too. Education is my field of specialization. There have been hours and days and weeks and months that I have discussed, studied, and pursued students to enroll into our institution.

Here is a lesson that has helped me: Work hard to do all you can. Then, trust the final results to God.

In 2 Kings 6 Israel and Aram were at war with each other. The Arameans were making a killing by robbing Hebrew caravans of rich cargo. Their king secretly plotted ambush and ambush and absconded with great wealth.

Finally, the man of God, Elisha intervened and told the King of Israel all of the Aramean plans. His prophetic foresight thwarted further Aramean raids. Irritated, the King of Aram first tried to blame one of his own officers for leaking their top-secret plans.

A quick thinking officer plays his “get out of jail card” and informs the king that Elisha the prophet tells all of Aram plans to his king in Israel. The Arameans send an army to surround Elisha. His servant sees the enemy threat, panics with desperate fear, and exclaims, “What shall we do?”

Elisha is the portrait of calm. He simply prays that God will open the eyes of his servant and allow him to see what God has done to protect them. In answer to Elisha’s prayer, the servant sees that there are angels and fiery chariots from heaven surrounding Elisha. The words of this amazing prophet are worth remembering: “Those who are with us are greater than those who with them.”

Remember: God will often have a solution ready before we even realize that we have a problem. Use eyes of faith to see what God has already done. Fear not, even with huge problems like enrollment.

 

 

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If I could go back in time to the first Easter, I hope that my choice would have been to go to the tomb early on Easter Sunday.

Walking the typically rocky road with home-made sandals, I know that I could have felt my heart pounding.  It would have been so loud that I couldn’t hear the women talking about the predicament of moving the stone.  Knowing what I know now, but keeping it secret from those in that day, I would be straining to look ahead.

Maybe the sight of the absent soldiers would have confirmed what I know.  They had been blown on to their backside and been terrified that they would be executed for failure to do their duty.  All they had to do was keep Jesus’ disciples from stealing the body.

Yet, a power so great as to knock these professional soldiers out-of-the-way, disintegrate the Roman seal on the tomb as if it was never placed there, and then to move the stone out of the ditch in one instantaneous episode took place in a blink on an eye.  Like frightened children the soldiers reported to their authorities and rehearsed the lie that they were told to give.  That was better than execution or imprisonment to them.

The women were shocked to see the stone moved away.  Their confusion would have been my excitement.  Hearing the angel conversation would have thrilled my mind.

All the theology that I have learned would be validated through a few words.  As the women wondered what to do, they may have asked me what we should all do.  That’s when I would have let some of today’s Bible knowledge leak out, “Let’s go tell the disciples what we have seen!”

On the jog back to the gathering, I would have left the women, “You go report what we saw.  I’ve got two disciples on the road to Emmaus that I need to see.”

“What are you going to say to them?” they would have asked in surprise.

“I want to hear what their companions will be telling them,” I would smile.  “Don’t worry what anyone else says.  I believe what y’all (Texan for “all of you”) believe.  HE HAS RISEN!”

Israel 2014 IFL 401There is a military presence in Israel that we do not experience in America.  Modern warfare and international threat are a part of an Israeli’s daily routine.  They go about their errands and travels without distraction from the weaponry and what those trappings of war could mean in a day that has the potential to erupt into violence.

On my tour I have subtly glanced at the presence of soldiers who were around.  When a man in fighting fatigues is in my vicinity and he is heavily armed for an altercation, I take notice.  Yet, there is something unique about Israel and its presence for battle.

You can look exclusively at the weaponry or you can look into the faces of the soldiers.  The guns and ammunition tell you that these soldiers are ready to fight.  They are colleagues who will fight together and for each other.

Yet, their collegiality supersedes their armament.  There is calm in their countenance.  A joy is pervasive among these young combatants.

They are not nervous about carrying weapons into a crowded square, packed with people from all around the world.  Locals mix in with pilgrims are part of the gathering that these sentinels are to guard from harm.  A successful sense of calm and security come with the presence of these warriors.

Israel 2014 IFL 402Each one carries his armament like he is comfortable with them.  That confidence comes from splendid training and experience.  Preparation like that gives us visitors a peace that frees us to enjoy our visit.

At the same time that sense of peace is held in check.  The very presence of the military reveals that the threat to peace is ever-present.  Contrasting political views vie for dominance.

Some want only peace and have proven their willingness to coexist.  Others are not so gracious.  That tension is the basis for placing these soldiers in our presence.

The spiritual world is the same.  We are surrounded by the trappings of spiritual conflict.  There is an invisible yet clear presence of an enemy who is constantly attempting to derail those in pursuit of righteousness.

We have been given the equipment to battle successfully against the wiles of the Devil.  They are listed for us as pieces of armor.  Each item is effective but we need to practice, train and utilize them until we are comfortable with them.

Our battle calls for truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, Word and prayer.  These are for our protection.  Are we comfortable with each and all?  Being prepared for war is wisdom.

photo credit: brucefong photography

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