Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Baptism

One of my favorite people/sisters/students as well as one of my favorite stories! It's from September 19, 2013.

This past Sunday was a special day for me. I was blessed to baptize two ladies into Jesus during our AM worship service. One was Jan, the mother of Simon, one of my WCS eighth grade Bible students. Mother and son are from China and Jan has been studying the scriptures intently with David Fang, our Chinese minister. The other was Nancy, a former student of mine and one of the most amazing people ever. (Today is also her birthday!) This is Nancy and me four days ago as she came up out of the water. The picture was snapped by another of her former teachers, Karen Keese. It's already one of my favorites!

This afternoon, as we prepared to review for tomorrow's test, I put this shot upon the screen and told my students a little bit about Nancy's background. I wasn't prepared for the questions which followed:
"Coach, what is that?"
"It's a baptistery."
"Where is it?"
"It's in the church auditorium where we have all-school chapel."

"We don't have one of those in my church! How deep is it?"
Here I called on Maggie, one of my fellow congregants and we decided it's about chest deep on me which must be about four feet deep.

"Is it always ready?"
"It is!"

"What are you wearing?"
"I'm wearing waders like you fish in. I put on workout clothes because I always get my tie wet!"
"What is she wearing?"

"Well, we have some gowns that those being baptized wear." I again had to rely on Maggie as I've never been in the ladies' room upstairs where we prepare. I mentioned a few more things like my Grandpa Hawley was baptized in a lake and most of the believers (2/3rds) I've immersed are foreign born and all but one are female. I might have thrown in that my dad baptized me in the spring of my 7th grade year- I didn't tell them how nervous I was! I'm pretty sure I threw in that my baptism was a cause of rejoicing in my family but not everyone in the world has that blessing.

You might have recognized that all the questions centered around the physical aspects of the baptism and not the spiritual implications, applications, and ramifications. But you know what, I was fascinated by the baptistery in our church building as a little boy. Every time I went to Dad's office- he was the preacher- I stuck my head into the baptistery just to look. And it's possible when I was five or so that I told our neighbor, Mrs. Barr, that I fell in and had to be rescued by the York, Nebraska Fire Department! None of the students asked why Nancy was baptized into Jesus- they probably have an idea- but we'll get there. Maybe we sparked something today. You know, I read a quote tonight by a Christian writer who made the point that if we really want to witness to the world, we'd have our baptisms in public places instead of in our church buildings. I'll have to think about that. I know I like this: while I was typing these short thoughts tonight, Nancy sent me a FACEBOOK picture of what she is studying in the Bible tonight. It's Acts 7 where Stephen begins his defense to the Sanhedrin. But you know what happens when Nancy turns the page to the end of that chapter, don't you? Stephen, the man I was named for, gets killed for preaching the Gospel of Jesus. That's still going on in the world this evening. Here's my confession for tonight- I've got it easy.

Applicable quote of the day:
“The earthly form of Christ is the form that died on the cross. The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed; in other words, they must be conformed to his death (Phil 3.10, Rom 6.4) The Christian life is a life of crucifixion (Gal 2.19) In baptism the form of Christ's death is impressed upon his own. They are dead to the flesh and to sin, they are dead to the world, and the world is dead to them (Gal 6.14). Anybody living in the strength of Christ's baptism lives in the strength of Christ's death.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Simon Says

This is about a terrific young man and his Bible class project. It's from April 27, 2014.

As some of you are aware, each Spring our 8th grade Bible students at WCS participate in a Talents Project in my class. Based on Jesus' Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25, each student in March is given $10 and given four weeks to do good with the cash.They have to turn in a typed report on why and how they chose their method of spending, how it made a difference, and how they themselves were changed by the experience. The only restrictions are they cannot put the money in their Honduras/Haiti bottle or in the collection at their place of worship. It's a test grade. After I take up the projects and review them, I offer some of the eighth graders the chance to present their experiences in our middle school chapels. Several, all boys by the way, declined but ten accepted the challenge and shared their stories during our Tuesday and Thursday chapels last week. They did a good job as I knew they would- the six girls and four boys spoke from the heart to a rapt audience of 5th/6th/7th and fellow 8th graders as well as their teachers. I added a twist this year, based again on Jesus' parable. Our high school student ministry team selected what they believed to be the most effective use of the money combined with its presentation and awarded an additional ten dollars to that youngster. They chose Ally, who spent her time with and money on a cancer patient who doesn't speak English named Delfina. Ally spoke passionately about her project and was an excellent choice. Ally was surprised and appreciative of her honor and she's already planning how to use it. (On Thursday, she dropped a poem off on my desk she had penned about her new friend.)

But there is more to this story than just Ally, who by the way just killed it in her role as Biondello in our WCS Fine Arts' production of The Taming Of The Shrew this past weekend. After the announcement of Ally as the winner in chapel three days ago, M.J. and Simone, two of the student ministry team, wanted to talk to me. They told me how impressed they were with Simon's presentation and they asked to come by his class and recognize him as well. I thought it was an awesome idea and so the two of them, both favorite former students of mine, showed up fifth period and talked to Simon's class about Simon. They told the eighth graders they believed Simon, like Ally, did an incredible job and wanted to show their appreciation. The student minsters and their faculty leaders pooled their money, and Simone and M.J. gave Simon ten more dollars to wage the battle for doing what's right. His classmates cheered and I asked Simon if he would like to respond. He seemed a little flustered but he rose to his feet and uttered the two most appropriate words under the circumstances- "Thank You!" Then he sat down and we continued class but I know his world just changed some.

You see, Simon is from China and he really did not know what to do with his original investment. He's new to WCS and lives with a lady from our congregation. I was blessed to be able to baptize his mom into Jesus back in the Fall but she has long returned to China and I know that is very lonely for a middle school boy. But he did a nice job on his project and agreed to be one of those who stood in front of his peers in chapel. Simon was very nervous and asked me if he could go first on Thursday, an easy favor to grant. He paced back and forth as he told about how he spent his money in his second language. He found a list of sick and shut-in folks in our church bulletin and decided to brighten their lives. He purchased cards and postage and wrote six letters to the elderly recipients with one being personally dropped off by Simon himself. On Thursday, he shared his thoughts and the letters two of the ladies sent back to him along with a picture. In terms of delivery, Simon's talk was not what any speech teacher would call eloquent but in terms of sincerity and gut wrenching honesty, it was worthy of an Academy Award. And so when Simone and M.J. bestowed their honor on this young man from China, he crowned his prize with the perfect acceptance speech. Like Simon Says, 'keep it brief'....and keep it from the heart. He was two for two.

Applicable quote of the day:
''Speeches that are measured by the hour will die with the hour.''

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Well, Actually..........

We started our second week of camp yesterday. There's a few new kids from last week but most of our campers are now classified as returning vets even if they are only five years old. Except for Charlotte who has been on my camp team multiple years, I'm working with a entirely new group this June. We've moved to our West Campus this year which is a totally different set-up, even though only a few blocks from our main location. This site has a lobby entrance to navigate before you walk around to the gym area. The coaches get there early and help set up for the camp day- I typically fill up the water cooler. Then I head back to the lobby and greet the kids as they come in. Maggie is on my team for the second week in the morning session. I'd never met her before last Monday but I feel like I had. Her eldest sister was one of my eighth grade students this year and is painting a ceiling tile for my classroom on Jesus washing the feet of His apostles. And, her mom is going to be our WCS athletic trainer next year! Throw in a sixth grade sister who will be attending our school as well and it's like we're old friends! Maggie and I sit and talk as the other kids come in, usually accompanied by parents. I'm learning her philosophy of life which seems to be pretty terrific! It befits a terrific young lady.

Yesterday morning as we chatted before camp, I noticed Maggie began consecutive sentences with the word, actually. I interrupted her and said I was going to count how many times she used actually in my presence. She tried really hard.... and only said it once on Monday! But today, THREE TIMES  so she's up to four! (I had an 8th grader in class several yeas ago by the name of Riley who went through a week in which everything was intense. "Coach, the chicken fried steak at lunch today was intense!" "Coach, that Spanish quiz was intense!" Of course, Riley quickly grew out of it!) It's not just kids! During Monday's afternoon session, Coach Guthrie said "OK?" five times talking about consistency in shooting motion. Me? I'm an ''umm'' guy but I haven't slipped up yet. So, in the competition between Maggie and me, the score stands at:
UMM- 0
I'm winning! But since there are three days of camp left this week, it's not even half time. I can't let down my guard!

Being creatures of habit and our environment, we pick up quirks in our speech patterns which, I'm convinced, few of us recognize. I'm not really concerned about what subconsciously has made a home in my linguistics. I've never uttered Umm on purpose but I also doubt my saying Umm has ever hurt another's feelings. Deliberate choice of words? That's another story. Words can be weapons or they can carry healing, as Rudyard Kipling alludes in the quote below. That decision is mine and yours. How then should we construct our verbal interactions? Here are some pretty good Biblical suggestions/commandments!
Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Colossians 4:6 
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Matthew 15:11 
It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
Proverbs 15:1-2 
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
Ephesians 5:4 
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Psalm 141:3 
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Can I learn from these gems of knowledge? Would living by these thoughts of profound wisdom make me wiser and avoid the shame I deal with from my utterances? Will applying them make me a better servant of the Kingdom of Heaven? They can, they would, and they will! Actually!

Applicable quote of the day:

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
Rudyard Kipling

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Visitor

This entry, from March 9, 2014, is about the wonderful Jannieka who two years ago designed our Haiti/Honduras bottles ALL BY HERSELF!

She walked into my classroom Friday afternoon and into the hearts of a bunch of teenagers. I passed out our Honduras/Haiti bank bottles to most of our students this past week. Our kids at WCS for sixteen years have collected pennies/nickels/dimes/quarters to help build and sustain Christian orphanages in Honduras and in the past four years, Haiti. The amount has accumulated to between $135-$140,000. On Wednesday afternoon, our first graders climbed the stairs to my classroom and watched a short video from Hope For Haiti's Children followed by a short talk by me about what we are doing and why we are doing it. There were the inevitable questions that only first graders can come up with. Then we handed out the bottles, making sure the kids understood this is voluntary. The project is explained and defined in a e-mail home to the folks so even if the kids don't quite get it, their folks do. They have close to two months to find loose change around the house before bringing their bottles back the first week in May. At least, that is the plan.

On Friday morning, Mrs. Taylor, one of our first grade teachers, e-mailed and told me one of her students had already filled her bottle and wanted to deliver it herself. She wondered when would it would be a good time. We were on a special schedule so I told her between 1:15-1:45 PM which on Friday meant in the middle of seventh period, or during my ESL Bible class. She bravely marched in, bottle in hands, and right up to my desk and gave me her bottle. I made a scene, acting like I couldn't lift it because it was so heavy with change. She is tiny, a child of Cambodian descent. And as she left, she went up and down the rows of desks, giving high fives and hugs to all takers...... and all were takers. She gave me a hug before rejoining her teacher at the classroom door. The other first grade teacher, Mrs. Fenwick, told me later she was telling her folks all about her adventure as she got into the car and began her Spring Break. You just can't beat six year old exuberance!

After she left, I talked about the little girl to my students who seemed mesmerized by her demeanor and confidence. As she strolled up and down the aisles, I kept hearing my students murmuring, "She is so adorable/she is so cute!!!" And she absolutely is. I cautioned them, though, to remember there are many more children in the world who are not as cute/adorable but still deserving of our kindness and respect. And then I reinforced something she had said in front of all twenty-five of them. After I had her introduce herself to the class, I asked her this question:
"Why did you bring your bottle back so quickly?"
Her priceless response?
"My mom and dad always give money to people who need it."

You can write a thousand books on child rearing and not come closer to the truth of love/guidance/example/generosity. In twelve words, she nailed it. And so are her mother and father nailing it. God bless every mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncle who are bringing up the next generation to be like Jesus. Someone is soaking it all in.

Applicable quote of the day:
“Children see magic because they look for it.”
Christopher Moore

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Daughters And Sons On Father's Day

I believe one of the greatest gifts our Father in Heaven gave His children was the ability to remember with association. Yesterday, I posted a Don Williams' song, Some Broken Hearts Never Mend, because it reminded me of my years at Harding University but involved in that remembrance was a young lady who inhabited some of those recollections. This morning during worship, I thought of Honduras. We sang two beautiful hymns, We Shall Assemble and Someday, both of which I learned on my first mission trip. When I hear those songs, I'm transported back to the storage room under the cafeteria of the Baxter Institute in Tegucigalpa where our TORCH mission group held our daily devotionals. It was twenty years ago next month- it seems like twenty minutes.

Happy Father's Day, 2018! I'm not going to lie- I spent probably two hours today liking everyone's Father's Day posts, most of which contained old photographs. From what I saw, almost everyone put aside political and personal drama for the purpose of honoring the men who raised us and some who raised our parents. (I don't have kids myself but in my second year of teaching, I received a Father's Day card from a wonderful young lady named Donna Albritton. It remains a cherished memory!) We lost our dad ten years ago. I have numerous mementos around my apartment as reminders; the nameplate that sat on his desk for decades now rests on a table he built for the Nebraska State Fair when I was in kindergarten. It's not like having him here but it's a link to the man so many of us loved. 

Two days ago, I was buying groceries and conversed with a lady who is an acquaintance. I can't recall what we spoke about but I remember her t-shirt. On the front was the name of her church but the back carried the words, "Daughters of Zelophehad." I didn't ask but it was familiar and I knew it was a Biblical reference. When I got home, I googled the words and I semi-remembered. There were five daughters of Zelophehad among the Israelites and their introduction comes in Numbers 27.  The five young ladies boldly approached Moses in regards to property in the Promised Land. They made a valid argument that it was unfair that they would be denied real estate simply because their father had only female offspring  and no sons, the usual heirs. (We had a girl in camp last week going into 8th grade who is one of SIX DAUGHTERS and she is oldest!) Moses took their case to the Lord who agreed with the daughters of Zelophehad- they were granted their inheritance. Here's the point. Why do we even know who Zelophehad was? We know him because of his children. His daughters acted wisely and correctly, bringing about a change in public policy. We know little else about him except he died in the wilderness and, in his daughters' testimony, was not part of Korah's rebellion. The quintet, named Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah, became their father's legacy. Isn't that what you and I are? Most who read this never knew my father but will gauge his life, and my mom's, by the way I live and my siblings live. So I'm writing the history of Roger Hawley every day. Maybe it's more accurate to say I'm adding chapters to his story with each step, word, and  action in my life. And Lord willing, I'm making it an even more honorable book. If so, I'm giving honor to the Father of us all. Every day is His day.

Applicable quote of the day:
I pray to be a good servant to God, a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a brother, an uncle, a good neighbor, a good leader to those who look up to me, a good follower to those who are serving God and doing the right thing. 
Mark Wahlberg

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Call

Dad, Mom, and Scott

Dad, Mom, Dave (left), me
1012 Kiplinger
York, Nebrask

I don't guess you ever get over missing your parents when they are gone. The more I see of children without a father in their lives, the more I miss my dad. This is from July 31, 2009.

Two years ago tonight, Dad suffered the stroke that ultimately would lead to his death eight and a half months later. Several hours earlier, we had talked and he told me about cooking what would be his final gourmet excursion, Eggplant Parmesan. I was preparing to do a devotional the next morning for teacher in-service at WCS when the phone rang at 10:30. It was Laura, a nurse who was staying twenty-four hours with our folks. She had been heading downstairs for bed when she hear Dad's faint cry for help and called 9-1-1. If Laura leaves a minute earlier, Dad might not have survived the night. But, survive he did. And even though it was undoubtedly the most difficult period of his life, and mine as well, it was a blessing in so many ways. Dad's hanging in and fighting back allowed us to put our parents' legal and financial affairs in order. By struggling to the end, many family members and dear friends were able to say one last good-bye. By persevering, he left us with a great example of never giving up, even down to his last breath. And with that last breath, he still loved Mom.

I talked to Louise on the phone this morning. A lady from my church, Louise is eighty-eight and now resides in an assisted living home an hour north of Houston. Her husband, Dan, is ninety-five and has Alzheimer's. Dan is in another facility in that town. Louise related how her doctor spoke of the devastating effects on health when one spouse cares for their Alzheimer's afflicted partner. We witnessed that first hand as Dad grappled with his inability to watch over Mom until the end. Louise told me her goal is to make it to the birth of her first great granddaughter this fall. Dad never got to hold Harper or Bennett and it grieved him. Late in life, goals become more defined and less grand but certainly no less real. My father's impact on other lives continues. This morning, I was walking in my bank parking lot and I passed a woman I don't think I have ever seen before. Out of the blue, she called me, "Man of God." It took me back because I know better. Maybe she saw something else as we passed. Maybe she saw a little bit of my dad in me on this semi-anniversary. I must have overlooked that resemblance in the mirror this morning.

Applicable quote of the day:
"The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them."

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Moment With Minna

This is about Minna from March 2014. She's one of my favorite students/teacher aides/people ever.

Teachers have rituals and the longer you teach, the more you accumulate. Some are personal. With me, it's a five minute nap at the end of lunch before my day ending back to back to back teaching periods. With my classes, it's random bonus questions (thanks, JK!), touching Luke 18:1 as we exit after the bell, and boys standing up when girls enter the room. But teachers also have little rituals with kids that only the teacher and the student or a small group of students are aware of. For example, everyday Dani and I verbally exchange the initials GHD when we pass in the hall. (Good Hair Day in case you're wondering!) I give air hugs to all the kindergarten kids when they are sitting/waiting for the water fountain/bathroom- they aren't supposed to stand up but sometimes they forget! Bruse and I share impressions of our favorite TV show Revolution, including the dreaded news it might be cancelled after a two year run! With some kids, I invariably inquire about a brother or sister who used to sit in my classroom. And Margaret still gives me a thumbs up or down daily based on my wardrobe. I could keep going- there are many more with my basketball players each morning- but you get the drift.

And then there's Minna. A junior and my former student in both middle school and tenth grade, Minna comes by to see me every afternoon when the dismissal bell rings. I always stand at the confluence of our two upper school hallways as kind of a teacher presence at a time when the kids have places to go and sometimes are in too big of a rush to get there. If I'm speaking to someone, she waits patiently until that conversation is completed and then we go into our routine. She gives me a high five and I ask, "How was your day?" She invariably tells  me it was good and I invariably ask why. It's always something different. One day she loved her English class discussion and the next it might be a good test grade. Often, it's because she is looking forward to her soccer/tennis practice/match. Yesterday, the reason her day was good was the chicken fried steak and  gravy Mr. Tony and company prepared for lunch! After the lunch menu discussion, we talked about her being my teacher's aide next year when she is a senior. It doesn't take long, usually about forty-five seconds, And on Monday, we'll repeat the process.

I actually wrote about Minna eighteen months ago, at the beginning of her sophomore year. This is a snippet from that entry:
She is American born of parents from Hong Kong and her folks' native language is Cantonese. I asked Minna, who has never been to Hong Kong, if she has a Chinese name. She responded that she does and very graciously wrote it on the top of her memory verse- that is what you see at the top of this page. But Minna did not simply recreate her name; she explained the meaning of the characters. What I learned from those symbols is that Minna's name fits her like tailored clothes; it's as if she were born to fit into her name.
Do you know what one of her classmates told me in regards to the above blog? She said, and I quote, 'Minna is the least corrupted person I know.'  I would add an amen to that sentiment of her good friend as would the others blessed to know her. But this entry isn't really about Minna or the kids I mentioned above. It's about the daily interactions, sometimes only seconds in duration, that shine a light on the life of a child and child here can refer to teenagers.

I hope other educators would back me up here but only 1% or less of what I know about a student comes from reading a file or sitting in on a meeting. The overwhelming source of insight comes from personal observation coupled with communication, even brief communication. It might be seeing a boy or girl nodding in agreement to a point you make on a delicate subject in class or a prayer request left on a quiz. It might be as simple as a fist bump when they enter your classroom, asking about the outcome or preview of a sporting event. I've found that when I act interested in a youngster, they overwhelmingly reciprocate. And yet when I apply this to myself and my spiritual life, I find I'm often too busy to interact with the One who makes it all possible. I sometimes read devotional books- which are insightful and inspiring- and forego communicating directly with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. When I simply read, I let other Christians dictate my thoughts about my Creator instead of supplementing my personal meditations. I realize I may be questioning my own efforts in writing these devotionals but don't depend on me. Or more likely, C.S. Lewis or Oswald Chambers or......... well, fill in your personal blank.  Try using your own words in your daily spiritual interactions and please hold me accountable as well! I tend to ignore my own advice.

Applicable quote of the day:
"There is a comfort in rituals, and rituals provide a framework for stability when you are trying to find answers."

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at