Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Friends Of Distinction


 
We are  impressed by who we know and know here is used loosely! This is from February 1, 2014.
Super Bowl tomorrow! Will it snow in the Big Apple and make the NFL's weather gamble a historically bad idea? The good news is that the consensus best two teams, Denver and Seattle, are the participants in SUPER BOWL 48. (Sorry, I don't know how to do the Roman numerals.) With THE EVENT in mind, it's only proper to have a football theme in my attempt at spiritual depth tonight. If you are even a casual fan, you can probably name the two gentlemen featured above, Lane Kiffin and Jeff Fisher. Ahh, but what do they have in common? They both have coached in the NFL; Kiffin with the Raiders and Fisher with the Oilers/Titans/Rams. Both have roots at USC. Both had job breakups that had some bitterness attached. But those tidbits can be gleaned from WIKIPEDIA. The biggest common denominator is that both of them are my FACEBOOK friends! Both names came up in that People You May Know link with common friends so I sent them both a Friend Request and now these two celebrities make up 2 of my 3,780 Facebook Friends! I am blessed!

You know what's funny? My friends, Lane and Jeff, have never sent me a message. They've never LIKED a picture or posted birthday wishes on my timeline. The eerie thing is that it's almost like they don't really know me, that we are friends in name only. I mean, how can that be? You can go on to my FACEBOOK page and if you want to spend a little time, you can find them so it's legitimate. I feel like our friendship is a one way street and I'm the one.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives an illustration about the Judgement Day. Many will claim to have relationship with Jesus but will be rejected with the words, 'I never knew you- depart from me.' Those denied entry will show their credentials- prophecies/demon removals/good works- to no avail. WOW! I wonder if I show up at the Rams' training camp next summer, if I can walk the sideline with the team if I tell the security guards, "Hey, Jeff and I are Facebook friends!" Or maybe I can show up in Tuscaloosa where Lane Kiffin is now the Alabama offensive coordinator and yell through the fence, "Hey, Nick Saban! Loved you in The Blind Side. You know, I'm on Facebook with Lane. Mind if I join you?" Of course,those are silly examples because any friendship I have with Lane Kiffin and Jeff Fisher is as superficial as humanly possible. I would never think of approaching them because I DON'T REALLY KNOW THEM. Jesus teaches it will be the same one day in the future for many who apparently will be shocked. I can't let that happen to me. Better keep that status up to date....and accurate!    
PS: To insure historical accuracy, I must disclose that I do have a slight connection with Lane Kiffin. His father, Monte, is from Lexington, Nebraska and a state legend as both an athlete and coach. And, he was the speaker at the York High Sports Banquet my senior year and as president of the Booster Club which put on that banquet, I was blessed to meet the elder Kiffin!                                                                                                                                                                                  
Applicable quote of the day:

“Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.” 
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web 


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Integrity Of Cyrus Field


Several days ago, I was watching you tube while eating my supper. My dining fare was American Experience, a PBS documentary series focusing on American history. The topic of that particular episode was Cyrus Field, a New York financier who was the primary force behind the laying of the trans Atlantic telegraph cable, linking the US and Europe. It was a fascinating story and I learned a good deal- the former history teacher in me is never far from the surface! Field was dealt a number of defeats in his quest but after roughly a decade of disappointments and setbacks, was able to see his dream of linking east and west come to fruition. It would not be an overstatement to say that that this adventure changed the world.

The most impressive part of the Field narrative, though, had nothing to do with oceans and cable. In the introductory section of the film, the story is told of Field buying a nearly bankrupt paper company at age twenty. As the new owner, he agreed with the creditors for 30 cents on the dollar to settle debts. Within several years, the company was turning a profit so Field did something few would do. Even though he had no legal obligation to do so, Field returned to those creditors and paid off the entire debt. The narrator commented how that act gave the still young entrepreneur tremendous respect and credibility in the New York business community. Would any of those who had accepted the 30 cent solution expected Field to have made this next step? My guess, not being in the world of commerce, is no; the narrator made it seem like this was far from common. My guess is also that that type of integrity in the market place is even harder to find today.

I spent some time at the beginning of each of my classes one day this past week talking about integrity. The day before, I had seen some suspicious  behavior in one of my five periods so it was as good a time as any to preach. I told them that every situation I see them in is recorded in my mind; in the classroom, with a teacher in the hallway, on the basketball court or on the football field, standing in line in the cafeteria, interacting with their peers. The perception of any hint of dishonesty colors my view and anyone else who would hold high expectations for them. There are kids I expect are always honest and those I believe are honest only when it is convenient or to their benefit. Some youngsters I trust implicitly and some I watch closely. Truth be told,  I might be pleasantly surprised with some and with some, bitterly disappointed. 


I tell my students John the Baptist would never get a preaching job today- yelled at leaders, dressed like a caveman and ate like a survivalist, went to jail. But, along with proclaiming that Jesus was the lamb of God, John stressed honesty and integrity to those not noted for those traits, soldiers and tax collectors. What a good lesson for us two thousand years later. Every profession needs those same instructions; dentists, lawyers, salesmen, preachers, coaches, teachers. Integrity derives from the Latin integer meaning wholeness. When we have integrity, we are whole and complete. When we lack integrity, we lack closure in our character. There are gaps for dishonest thoughts and actions to seep in and out. If we were more steeped in integrity as a culture, I wouldn't have the need to move desks apart and require all the kids to grade their quizzes in brown markers to make cheating harder. We wouldn't have to constantly change passwords and we could leave our car doors unlocked. Our Father in heaven knew- the Ten Commandments dealt with integrity matters like stealing and lying and adultery. The problem is ancient but so is the solution. In fact, the solution is etched in stone.

Applicable quote of the day:
If I were asked to say the most important things that lead to a successful life, I should say that, first of all, was integrity - unimpeachable integrity. 
Charles M. Schwab


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail m e at steve@hawleybooks.com

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Glenns

Many hearts were broken today with the news of the passing of Loa Glenn early this morning. I knew Loa for thirty five years, beginning in the summer of 1983. I'm not sure what to say but I thought I would rerun an earlier blog to which she is central. It's from June 28, 2014.
Greg and Loa Glenn moved to Nashville, Tennessee this afternoon. It's hard to imagine any family impacting my life more. I met the two of them thirty-one years ago in Nashville at Lipscomb University before they were married. I had come to work at Lipscomb's basketball camp; in fact, Greg was the first person I met at Lipscomb. I moved to WCS because of Greg sixteen years ago and stayed with their family while both interviewing at Westbury Christian and when I moved to Houston. I taught and coached their daughter, Amber, and taught their sons, Richard and Cody. All five of the Glenns were on missions with me at different times and Greg was my boss as both AD and our WCS president. They will leave a huge hole but a wonderful legacy at both our school and congregation! Life is ever changing but some are tougher than others.

It's hard to know where to start with this family. Greg was there through the health deteriorations and the subsequent passings of my parents. He talked me into the toughest decision of my life, to return to high school basketball coaching. He, along with his predecessor, Bob McCloy, really emphasized spiritual development in our students, not easy in a school as diverse as WCS. He let me do stuff outside of the box with my classroom and fundraising for the kids in Haiti and Honduras. Greg is as good at being a diplomat in handling disputes as anyone I've ever seen, keeping a Christ-like spirit involved in the process. But he has never shied away from making the tough decisions when it's best for the school, and that's rarely popular. He walked away from a coaching career that was one of the most successful in the United States, taking on a much more difficult position as Head Of School. He let coaches coach and teachers teach. Greg has the ability to be visionary, something I sorely lack. He revered his college coach, the legendary Don Meyer, and in many ways, became like him. And he left our school light years ahead of where it had been when he came twenty-one years ago.

Loa may be the most efficient person I know. She served in so many roles at WCS that I cannot come close to listing them. Loa has a servant's heart. When I moved here, she took the majority of day with three little ones in tow to help me but before we finished that Monday, I had a bank account, a driver's license, an inspected car with license plates, and car insurance. When I had a question, Loa was my Google. How do I get gum out of a shirt? How do I rent a car at an airport? How do I get to St. Marks Episcopal?? ETC!!! Getting a laptop lessened my dependence on her but not by much! When I needed something for my house, Loa had it or her mom had it and they freely shared what they possessed. Not only was she Google, she served as Target for me and not just me. Many other new teachers/coaches lived with the Glenns until they got settled into their new home, and Loa helped them get started.

The day I moved to Houston, the Glenn kids had just been blessed with a kitten named Kisses and they were fighting over who got to feed her/hold her/love on her. That stopped. Amber grew up to play for me and be my student assistant coach as well as step out of her comfort zone on her first mission to Honduras. She was Homecoming Queen and she ran our summer basketball camp, earning the title of Amberella. She has a Masters degree now and a wonderful husband named Ben! Richard is a new daddy, making his folks very happy, and he has an amazing wife, Callie. He also could be an terrific Gospel preacher if so inclined. The thing I remember about Cody is that he always went to sleep on Loa's lap during worship. Right out of high school, Cody was drafted as a left handed pitcher by the Toronto Blue Jays and started a game on the mound for LSU in the 2013 College World Series! I used to baby sit Amber, Richard, and Cody when they were young. Apparently, I did an excellent job!

And so, I said good-bye to Greg and Loa early this afternoon. I hate good-byes even when you have some time to prepare. They'll be back and that lessens the pain. They'll be missed terribly but they'll be loved abundantly in their new surroundings. Normally, I leave with an applicable quote of the day which I don't introduce but today is different. Today, I'm closing with the words of a haunting Civil War song, The Vacant Chair by Henry Washburn:
We shall meet, but we shall miss him
There will be one vacant chair.

God be with you until we meet again. We'll keep the chair open for you guys.

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com
 
PS: The picture is of Greg and me painting the front of a church building in Haiti. The onlookers were amused at how much paint managed to land on us instead of the wall!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Truth Will Set You Free


Happy Chinese New Year! Several years ago, in my ESL Bible class, I told my students how excited I was to celebrate, being half Asian because my mom was from Thailand. Some of the American kids in there have known me for years but only one, Annalize, challenged the statement- the rest simply accepted it because they trust me. This post is from 10-25-05 and is one of my very earliest posts.

One of the great things about teaching is that kids believe you. One of scariest things is that... kids believe you. Even with the erosion of trust in authority figures over the past several decades, students, especially younger ones, accept what we say and sometimes almost with blind faith. Allow me to illustrate.

Besides my teaching responsibilities in the Bible department at Westbury Christian School, I am also the middle school girls' basketball coach. We have a practice period built into our schedule at the beginning of the school day and I always come dressed in my coaching attire of shorts, T-shirt, running shoes, and whistle. In late October, the weather in Houston cools off a bit and I add long pants to my basketball wardrobe. Last year, right after the weather change, I came one morning wearing medical scrub pants to cover my legs. (During summer mission trips to Honduras, many of our group wear scrubs- they are light weight and easy to wash and have ready for the next day of work.) This particular morning, I ran into one of my players who arrived early. I have to preface the following conversation by saying I like to kid with my players and students and assume they know when I am serious and when I am being facetious. It started with a question.

"Coach, why are you wearing those scrubs?"
"Well, you may not know this but besides being a coach and teacher, I am also a doctor. In fact, I'm leaving as soon as school is over today, running to the hospital, and performing a heart transplant."
That was about as outlandish a statement as I can think of but listen to the response of the young lady.
"Coach, you must get really tired!"
She never questioned anything I said. This seventh grader trusted me implicitly and it never crossed her mind that I might be telling her something just a LITTLE bit untrue. It also isn't that she is naive about doctors- her mother is an RN and she has grown up around around the medical community. By the next morning, I was feeling guilty about letting the joke go on that long so I called her over and tried to backtrack. It wasn't that easy.
"Hey, hon, I'm not really a doctor. I was just pulling your leg."
She was not convinced.

"Let me ask you a question,Coach. Where did you get those scrubs?"
I responded truthfully.

"From a medical supply store."
Her response?
 

"I knew it-you are a doctor!"
I think by the end of the school year she finally was convinced that my second profession was a hoax but there may still be a lingering doubt. Once a child has a belief, it is difficult to shake it. What a responsibility we have to be truthful and honest with the innocents. Jesus warned about the consequences of leading children astray. It isn't hard- they want to believe those they love and respect and that should be a wake up to all who deal with children. I saw a sign in our hallway in the past that said, "When it doubt, tell the truth." We can do better than that- 
just leave out the 'when in doubt' part. As a reformed, if not renowned, heart surgeon, I can tell you. It's the only way.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."
Thomas Jefferson


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Friday, February 16, 2018

Take Your Best Shot


We are in off season basketball mode. We practice each day but for a shorter time than in the season. Yesterday we got to NINE in a game called On The Glass, a free throw competition where you win by not scoring points.What this means is we made eight consecutive free throws as a team, an impossibility several months ago. Improvement is so much fun! This is from August 22, 2006.


My middle school basketball team has a practice period built into our schedule. Only two young ladies trying out for the squad have played in a junior high game so we are very inexperienced. Contrary to what you hear coaches say, we concentrate almost exclusively on offensive skills which are more difficult to master than defensive techniques. Today, we began working on shooting. We (Christian Chevis, my student assistant, and me) break shooting down into easy-to-learn repetitive steps. We get in a stance. We shoot an imaginary ball concentrating on follow through. We lay on our backs and mimic our shooting stroke, again without the ball, and rewind each shot like a video tape. We use mirror form drill where the girls have a partner critique their form on an imaginary shot. In fact, we do fine... until we add the ball. Once we begin actually shooting, technique takes a back seat to result and we forget everything we have so diligently worked on. We instantly revert to bad habits. The kids judge themselves in shooting by only one criterion- whether the ball goes through the basket. If it does, they consider it a good shot regardless of their form. A high school coach in Tennessee did something that was very smart. When teaching shooting to his players in spring practice, he would place a lid on the rim, making it impossible for the ball to go through the cylinder. In doing so, he hoped to eliminate the players worrying about they perceived to be success, i.e., making the shot. I wish it were that easy.

Life imitates the shooting of a basketball. It's not hard in theory but in the practical stage, the skill breaks down quickly. It's easy to say what we would do in a situation until we are actually in the real-life arena. It's like adding the ball. Nobody knows if you make or miss your practice attempts without the basketball. I tell the kids to visualize each imaginary shot swishing through the nets. Mental success is easy; practical success is not. Life, particularly the Christian life, is not lived in a vacuum. It's easy to memorize Jesus' teaching in the Sermon On The Mount but we find it excruciatingly difficult to actually fulfill his commands when we put the Bible down and leave the sterile environment of our homes. I can teach thirteen year old girls how to shoot but shooting in a setting that matters, a game, is up to them. I can devour the scriptures in the comfort of my apartment but it does no one else any good until I put it to use outside my door. Will my girls learn to shoot? The jury is out. Half of them are also in my eighth grade Bible class studying the gospel of Luke. The more important question then becomes, will they learn how to live? My prayer is that they do. That's how we should judge coaches and teachers.


Applicable quote of the day:
"We're shooting 100%: 60 % from the field and 40% from the free-throw line."

Norm Stewart/ University of Missouri Basketball Coach

God bless,

Steve
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Thursday, February 15, 2018

One Soul


This entry, from January 28, 2014, is about one of my favorite hymns!
Yesterday, we had our first hymn of the year as a memory verse in all five of my classes. It's one of my favorites, Lead Me To Some Soul Today by Will H. Houghton. The grades were excellent. I think the students like the idea of hymns because of the rhyme scheme and the more predictability of the words and sentiments. I'm not sure any had ever heard it before, which is a shame because the tune by Wendell Loveless, is easy to sing and has beautiful harmony. The hymn goes like this:

Lead me to some soul today,
O teach me, Lord, just what to say;
Friends of mine are lost in sin,
And cannot find their way.
Few there are who seem to care,
And few there are who pray;
Melt my heart, and fill my life,
Give me one soul today.


We talked about being surrounded by people who are lost or at least suffering through horrible circumstances not of their own making; I used examples from youngsters who have sat in my classes and played on my teams. I told them how my mom, dad, and I almost lost my younger brother, Scott, in a blizzard out in western Nebraska on a snow blinded state highway. I also related that while I sing the hymn with them, it's hard for me in good conscience to make that petition as my daily task is the souls in front of me in class and standing with me in a basketball huddle. We cannot isolate ourselves as believers. The lost need a light to find their way and Jesus told us that we are the light of the world. Proverbs 11:30 teaches that, 'the one who is wise saves lives.' We could stand an outbreak of wisdom.

Applicable quote of the day:

''The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.''
Gilbert K. Chesterton


To listen to Lead Me To Some Soul Today, copy and paste the link below!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd1GcJdvAuM

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Flesh And Blood

In our Sunday morning services, we often have visitors to whom the Lord's Supper may be baffling. This is from May 2, 2010.
In my Sophomore Gospels classes recently, we read the passage from John 6 in which Jesus lost many followers when He referred to the time that they would eat His flesh and drink His blood. The statement offended a number of His disciples and His own men told Jesus that this teaching was a difficult one. I tell the kids that my interpretation is that Jesus was referring to the institution of the Lord's Supper, or communion, which He would share with them during His final Passover. On the surface, Jesus' proclamation to the crowds would have been shocking; eating flesh and drinking blood is repulsive in almost every society, even to ours.

Last week in class, I was trying to make a point about what culture teaches the citizens of each society. I told the kids I was going to sing a song and wanted them to join in. Without any other preparation, I broke into my rendition of the theme song from The Addams Family. You know,
''Da da da da SNAP SNAP. Da da da da SNAP SNAP. Da da da da, da da da da, da da da da SNAP SNAP."
All the American youngsters joined in, laughing, and all the kids from other countries looked at us like we were crazy. To cement the idea, I started singing the theme song from C.O.P.S.:

''Bad boys, bad boys. What cha gonna do, what cha gonna do when they come for you?"
Identical response; all the teenagers from the United States began laughing and singing with me while all our guests from around the world looked on in bewilderment. I know they didn't understand but I'm also pretty sure they won't soon forget the illustration.

We learn by absorbing things in our various cultures to which we are constantly exposed. American Christians are so used to the taking of communion with its symbolism reflecting on Jesus that we may overlook its startling nature to those who have not been raised on a steady dose of Christianity. Even before I became a baptized believer, I knew what the Lord's Supper was; my dad was a preacher and we sometimes as kids played communion with crackers and toothpaste lids. But the shock value certainly was not lost on those who first heard the Master put this coming memorial into words shortly after He fed the five thousand. I would guess some of us still, like I did as a boy, play communion by neglecting its sacredness as we remember the Savior. Some of those who saw Jesus break the bread with His hands also saw His flesh torn by nails less than twenty-four hours later. I bet it never became routine for them.


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com