Thursday, December 13, 2018

Love And Hate



Everything we know has a beginning and so did this devotional outlet. What follows is my first blog, from October 18, 2005 and it examines a famous football player and the hatred that drove him.

As I mentioned, I am an instructor at Westbury Christian School in Houston, in the middle of my 9th year at WCS. My B.A., Masters, and teaching certificates are all in Social Science but I have become a full time Bible teacher. This year I am teaching both our 8th graders and sophomores. The 8th grade is studying the Gospel of Luke and my 10th grade curriculum is the Life of Christ, covering Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I enjoyed teaching US History but I love teaching the Word of God. It is a blessing to have a job you can't wait to get to every day. Today, my 8th graders will discuss Jesus' healing of a paralyzed man and my sophomores will learn about the meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus. But, as we often do, I am going to spend some time talking about something in the news. These kids have to understand that the Christian life is not lived in a vacuum and that they are affected by their culture and current events.

Did you see the "60 Minutes" interview on CBS this past Sunday with Bill Romanowski? The controversial former NFL star spoke about his career and his reputation as being the most despised-feared-dirty player in professional football. When asked the secret to his success on the field, he summed up his week to week motivation in one word- HATE. He said he hated his opponents, their coaches, their city, etc. Romanowski detailed how he worked himself into a rage which allowed him to be a tremendous, although loathed, athlete. I was taken back. Never had I considered hate to be such a strong psychological weapon. My 8th grade students memorize hymns. We are currently working on Martin Luther's classic, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. In the first verse, Luther portrays Satan as being 'armed with cruel hate.' As Christians, we have to be ready to do warfare with the overwhelming power of hatred. How can we survive? Our kids are growing up in a society that teaches them never to back down. The Scriptures teach a different concept. The answer is LOVE. It isn't easy but Jesus told us not just to love our enemies but to pray for them, do good to them, and lend to them. This is a difficult teaching for my students to swallow. Hating is easier- and sometimes more enjoyable. Love is harder and not much fun at times. We have the best example, though. God sent his Son to save us from the power of Satan and the power of hate. We show the love of God to others in the way we live our lives. Someone will be watching and the power of the love of Christ they witness in us may help snatch them from the grips of hatred. Is there any Bill Romanowski in us today? Probably- and it is time to let it go. Otherwise, it will destroy us.


Applicable quote of the day:
"We have just enough religion to make us hate but not enough to make us love one another."
Jonathan Swift

God bless,

Steve
Luke 18:1

http://www.hawleybooks.com/
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Nelda And Louise

There are people we intersect with in life who profoundly change us, perhaps even decades later. This is about one of the ones who changed me. It is from November 1, 2009.

It came about a week ago in the mail as it does three times per year. As always, I enjoyed the Harding University alumni magazine. It's well written and informative as to life on the campus in Searcy, Arkansas. Towards the back of the thirty-two page newsletter were updates on HU grads- I knew several- followed by the death notices. I was startled to find Mom's obituary. I shouldn't have been surprised- I sent it last April- but seeing it in print jolted me. I was hoping they would include the picture from the Harding yearbook of Mom as May Queen I included but I know they have limited amounts of room. It was a fitting sendoff to the wonderful woman who was Nelda Chesshir Hawley. She would have liked it and Dad would have been proud. It mentioned they met at Harding which underscores the impact of Harding in my life, too!


There was another obituary on the same page as Mom's that grabbed my heart. It was just a short one and is reproduced below:
Louise Terry Hester ('38), 91, died February 8. She was Petit Jean queen in 1938. She is survived by a daughter, Linda Wright.
(To the non-Hardingite, the Petit Jean is the name of Harding's annual.)


I knew Louise Hester but I did not know she spent her college years at Harding. Mrs. Hester moved to my hometown in Nebraska when I was a little boy and she taught French at York High School. I always thought she was very southern in personality and very refined in manners. She was friends with my parents at church and in the summers, she hired me to work in her yard. I recall our family being invited to her house to eat after worship services. Those are all pleasant, nostalgic memories but that's not why I remember Louise Hester.


When I was in fifth grade, Mrs. Hester taught our Sunday school class which consisted of me and a bunch of girls. She challenged us to memorize the entirety of Matthew, chapter 5, which is the first third of the Sermon on the Mount. It contains forty-eight verses of some of the most difficult to live by teachings of Jesus. If we chose to accept her challenge, she would buy us whatever we wished for. Now I am pretty sure Mrs. Hester was not rich but she knew how to motivate a ten year old boy. I wanted a York High Duke gym bag, blue and gold, and I knew possessing it would make me a world class athlete. I was bound and determined to commit those four dozen verses to memory, even if my reasons for doing so were not exactly spiritual in nature. And so, I did it. And in doing so, I found that I enjoyed memorizing and that I was good at it. And I learned that I could accomplish a difficult task and have fun in the process. And when I became a teacher, my history classes committed to memory the Preamble to the Constitution, the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, etc. And when my classroom duties shifted to instructing about the Bible, my students began memorizing Scriptures and hymns. I doubt Mrs. Hester had any idea what a profound impact she had on me but she caused a little light to come on in my head and her influence continues. Tomorrow, my 8th and 10th graders will be required to take out a sheet of paper and write out their memory verse assignment, the words of Luke 7:29-30. Some will do well and some will struggle and somehow, I just get this feeling that Mrs. Hester would approve.


Applicable quote of the day:
"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery."
Mark Van Doren


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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Name On A Badge

The best thing is I haven't lost mine in four years! This is from August 18, 2014.

Since the name Columbine became the by-word for the unthinkable in the spring of 1999, American schools have become obsessed with the safety of their students and rightly so. Protection of the innocent from the vilest of creatures is now the topic of inservice meetings at individual schools as well as conferences. Public officials now have plans and back up plans should the need arise to act. God forbid, they ever need to again.

Our school has been proactive in safety matters and we are reminded of precautions on almost a daily basis. During inservice over the past several weeks, we reviewed and updated procedures in a number of areas, including fire and tornado drills. The unpredictable is predictable, we just don't know where. As with most private/parochial/Christian schools, our students wear uniforms. There are a number of reasons for this trend; improved discipline, saving money, school spirit, less competition, etc. (Not everyone agrees that uniforms are the way to go.) One other benefit is that you can recognize who is a student and who is not. We even have guidelines on who may visit and visitors must have an ID in plain sight, such as a driver's license sticker. We've added another layer of security this year. Faculty and staff are wearing our identification badges, formerly used only for special occasions, on a daily basis. The reasoning is obvious; parents need to know who belongs within our halls and this is the simplest method. I haven't quite become accustomed to the new policy but like anything else, it will become habit in time. It took me awhile to get used to wearing a belt with my dress pants but I've conquered that mountain as well. I'm a slow learner.


To some,  the faculty ID might be a little thing but in reality, it isn't. Parents have to be able to recognize who the teachers are; my name tag identifies me as legitimate. Recognizing false teachers for what they are takes more time. Jesus put it like this in Matthew 7 in the Phillips translation:

15-20 “Be on your guard against false religious teachers, who come to you dressed up as sheep but are really greedy wolves. You can tell them by their fruit. Do you pick a bunch of grapes from a thorn-bush or figs from a clump of thistles? Every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree is incapable of producing bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. The tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and burnt. So you may know men by their fruit.”

Fruit doesn't appear over night. It takes weeks and months and years and maybe a life time to fully show itself. That's why teaching is such a huge responsibility. I learned early in my student teaching in Bald Knob, Arkansas that the kids would accept what I told them, even if it was outlandish. That's a powerful drug, the cloak of believability. It can be used to cultivate wisdom or folly, truth or error, life or death. James 3:1 warns against too many becoming teachers due to the strictness of the accountability. That's a stern warning to all in my profession, to look daily in the mirror of conscience and examine our methods and motives. A magnetic name tag can help me gain clearance into a building but no badge can ever make me a worthwhile teacher. That designation comes from a much higher authority. It's a mission like absolutely no other and I pray we complete it with the honor it deserves. The reward is unfathomable.

Applicable quote of the day:
"In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years." 
Jacques Barzun


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Monday, December 10, 2018

Fifteen

Since I'm not married, my anniversaries tend to come without romance attached for me.... but maybe for others! This is from May 26, 2013.
It was fifteen years ago this weekend. On Memorial Day weekend of 1998, I flew to Houston for my job interview at Westbury Christian School. I remember it so vividly. The night before I flew out, I ate dinner with Ken and Barbara Stewart and Barb ironed my clothes for me so I would be presentable. On Friday morning, Nancy Tipps, my assistant coach, drove me to Nashville to catch a Southwest flight to Texas. At Houston's Hobby Airport, Greg Glenn and his precious 4th grade daughter, Amber, met me at the gate which you could still do in those days. Graduation that evening at WCS was like nothing I'd ever seen, in an amazing way. I reconnected with Randy King, a WCS board member and my brother Dave's college roommate. The next day, I interviewed for the job with Susan Woodward, the principal, and Bob McCloy, the school president. That Saturday night, I stayed with Randy and his lovely wife, Diane, the WCS librarian. (Diane and I sat on the same chapel row at Harding and she claims I read the York News-Times during the devotional services. In my defense, I stopped once chapel began....I think.) On Sunday, I went to services in the morning with the Kings and at night with Bob McCloy at Westbury Church of Christ. Afterwards, Bob invited two members, Dick Scott and Ed Montgomery, and me to some little hole in the wall Mexican place in downtown Houston. I spent the night with the McCloys and Bob took me to a little place near the school called New York Bagels for breakfast. (I went and got a cup of coffee there several weeks ago, the first time I had been back, just for nostalgic purposes.) Bob took me to the airport; I remember asking him about dentists and he told me about the father of a WCS student, Charles Campbell, DDS. I arrived back in Nashville on Monday afternoon with Becki Kegley waiting for me along with two awesome girls, her daughter, April, and Kathryn Thomas, one of my basketball players. (When I wrote a book three years later, it was dedicated to Kathryn and co-dedicated to April.) I had a church teenager cookout that night for kids going to Honduras on a mission trip of which I was to be part. That evening, I went to bed completely exhausted from the three day whirlwind trip and not sure of what to make of it all.

You know, I went to Houston that weekend never believing I would take the job and move there. But as I returned to Tennessee and reflected and prayed, it became obvious the Lord was moving me in that direction. One of my favorite players, and the best leader I ever coached, Karie Stewart, now Green, was of the opinion when I moved to Houston it was to find my perfect match who would be waiting for me with open arms. Amazingly, that hasn't happened........yet. But here is what is fascinating, at least to me. There are three of our coaches who I believe with all my heart would have not found their  spouse if you take my moving to Houston out of the equation and all three acknowledge that. Russell, Ben, and Casey- in order of their nuptials- might be married/engaged to other ladies without intervention on my part, without going into details. It wasn't anything I did matchmaking wise but I was integral in their being in Houston or at WCS where they crossed paths with the women they would spend their lives with and share their names with. You know what's funny? Russell was in college, Ben was in high school, and Casey was an elementary student that day I got on that plane. They never knew how their futures were about to shift. But, maybe shift is the wrong word.

I love the story of Boaz and Ruth who as husband and wife became a vital cog in the lineage of Jesus. But for that to happen, there had to be a famine, a family had to relocate to a Gentile land, Jewish boys had to marry Moabite girls.......and then die young. What was left of the family had to move back to Bethlehem, a grieving widow/mother-in-law had to intervene for her widowed foreign born daughter-in-law, an upstanding bachelor had to manipulate Israel's system of inheritance and property, it had to be during harvest time, and the rest is biblical history! Sort of makes my getting on the plane seem inconsequential! But listen to what Paul taught at the Areopagus in Athens:

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
(Acts 17:26, NIV) 
I have to believe the Lord wanted me here at this place for the benefit of Russell/Ben/Casey and by necessary affiliation, Shara/Becky/Ashley. The Lord's blueprint may take centuries to unfold and I know many of you, when you stand back and consider what God has done, could tell a similar story. We unintentionally change the course of families simply by living our lives....and by living where He wants and by doing what He wants, even if we don't realize it at the time. And I just thought I came here to each Bible and coach basketball. I was E-harmony before E-harmony!

Applicable quote of the day:
"Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these

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

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Pick A Card


Some kids leave lasting imprints on their teachers. Taylor was one that left her imprint on me. This is from April 24, 2007.

I'm going to miss Taylor. A young lady in our soon to graduated class of seniors, Taylor has been a blessing in my life since she came to our school in eighth grade. Through my Bible classes and her Girl Scout activities, which incorporated our Honduras charity, Taylor and I have grown close in the past five years. Parenting is a daunting challenge in this generation but Taylor and her freshman brother, Luke, have validated the child rearing skills of their mom and dad. Last week, Taylor approached me in the hallway and told me she was giving me a graduation gift. Didn't it used to be the other way around? But there was a unique twist to her news: the present is to be a gift card and I can pick out the business it originates from. WOW! Immediately, I became anxious and torn. Should it be for refreshment (Starbucks) or food (Chili's)? I might like reading material (Borders) or a new released movie (Hollywood Video). Maybe I could use something from a clothing store (JC Penney's) or a sporting goods (Academy). I always need practical items, so Wal-Mart is good, but not very festive. Whew! I have some soul searching ahead of me!

What would you ask for if you were promised anything your heart desired? Solomon was given that option once by the Lord soon after he became Israel's third monarch. You know the story. In 1st Kings 3, the son of David and Bathsheba merely requested a discerning heart to guide his people. The Lord was so overjoyed with his response that he threw untold wealth into the prize package along with wisdom. Solomon asked for what he needed and had an unbelievable bonus added to the mix. I don't think wisdom precludes wealth, certainly not in this century, but the Lord linked the two for the newly crowned king. We ask for stuff rather than the ability to use it to God's glory. I wish there was a gift card for discernment; Wise R' Us! That's one franchise yet to be marketed so I'm back to my dilemma. I'm open to suggestions!



Applicable quote of the day:
"Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences."
Norman Cousins



God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Saturday, December 08, 2018

The Ride


We all have to make decisions on the best use of our time. The difficulty comes when there are competing claims on that time. Sometimes, we do the right thing in spite of ourselves. This is from January 23, 2006.

Time is tight right now. Going back a week and a half and going forward five days, there is something EVERY NIGHT. There are ball games and Bibles studies, an Open House For Prospective Students at school and Monday Night For the Master at our congregation. All are terrific, especially the spiritual stuff, but I have to plan my days to the minute. Yesterday, Sunday, was Day 11 in my current lifestyle marathon. My clock scheme was humming. I preached for our Chinese service in the morning on The Man Born Blind and with the Lord's help, it went well. Lunch with my brethren saved me from having to cook. I snuck in a catch-up nap, followed by twenty minutes of aerobics on my Tony Little Gazelle. To top it off, Houston was receiving a much needed rain! I headed to our school building for ninety minutes of work before 5:00 pm worship. I had my minutes calculated to where I would be done with everything and home in time for a new episode of Cold Case, Sunday night's most watched TV crime drama (or so they say.) I traveled down Fondren Avenue when it happened- I got caught at a red light on the corner of Creekbend. A young man approached my car and I rolled down the window. He said the bus that was supposed to stop at 3:05 had not showed up. He had to get to work and asked if I could help. I told him to hop in. His name was Mark and he had just moved to Texas from Charlotte. His job was at a super market and he had to be there by 4:30. I thought it would just be a short drive to the next bus stop. I was wrong. I ended up taking him to the store, a considerable distance from the school classroom, my actual destination. On the way, I learned about Mark. He loves the Tarheels, the Panthers, the Bobcats- anything associated with North Carolina. He moved to Houston when his girlfriend moved. I asked whether he worshipped anywhere- he said not at the moment. He told me about his employers and working conditions. When we arrived at the store, he thanked me and shook my hand. He asked about my church and he said he might be coming by. It had taken forty minutes.

I'm not going to lie. I was getting more irritated by the minute as we traveled toward his job. I hid it but I had IMPORTANT STUFF I needed to be doing, getting ready to teach Bible to my 8th and 10th grade students this week. I arrived back just in time for evening worship. (OK, I did make a small stop at Starbucks to help me simmer down.) An hour and a half wasted! Slowly, I began to be ashamed of myself. I worked four years in a grocery store so I should have been sympathetic. Mark told me his normal bus ride takes an hour one way so he was spending two hours on the bus to carry out groceries for minimum wage. Isn't that what we say young people should do, work hard and pay their dues? How can I preach to my students that the Lord gives us good deeds to do and then be angry when he gives me my opportunity? Why did it work out that I stopped at that red light? If I had left five seconds earlier, there would have been no young man coming up to my Toyota. Of course, that young man MIGHT NOT have found a ride and he MIGHT have been fired. The scriptures teach to love our neighbor. In the Good Samaritan story, Jesus expanded the definition of neighbor to include anyone with whom we come into contact. Mark became my neighbor. I have no doubt the Lord used me to give that young man a chance and I was inwardly griping the whole time! Read the words of Ephesians 2:10:"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works WHICH GOD PREPARED IN ADVANCE FOR US TO DO." There is no wiggle room for me in that writing of Paul. It's a verse we ALWAYS memorize in my classes. It's a lesson the kids NEED to know! You should know, I got my work done- I always do. By the time I went to bed, I was feeling pretty sheepish. I resolved to do better and the next time, I will. Or, maybe the next time after that. One of these times, I WILL get it right, with a little help from the Lord!

Applicable quote of the day:
"It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one's neighbor."
Eric Hoffer

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

Friday, December 07, 2018

The Pickup And The Boat


I don't go in to lift weights in our school building anymore at 4:20 AM but I still don't like the feeling of being scared over nothing. The following is from March 22, 2006.

As is my custom three times per week, I lifted weights this morning. As is also my custom, I arrived at school at 4:20 a.m. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Actually, I came in to lift yesterday morning at 4:20 a.m. but something intervened, keeping me from my workout. Just as I put the key in the door to enter our building, a pickup truck coasted through the driveway, not twenty feet from where I stood. The Ford F250 cruised down by the football locker room and pulled over. I became agitated, conflicted about what I should do. I hated to miss lifting but I didn't want to get mugged. After debating with myself, I got back in my car and drove the one hundred feet down the driveway. The truck was empty. Obviously, the driver had either sank to the floor or gone inside. Now, I was really at a loss. I did what any good citizen would do. I copied down the license plate number and went home. An hour or so later, I returned and found the truck in the same spot. I located Paul Arnold, our executive in charge of facilities, and explained what happened. Paul told me the Ford belongs to an elderly gentleman who works in our congregation's food pantry, adjoining our football locker room. I thought, "What is he doing here at 4:20 a.m.?" Then I thought, "What am I doing here at 4:20 a.m.?" The upshot of yesterday's scare was that I was frightened off by a man I know who is over eighty years old. So much for bravery. I felt no nervousness today.

My sophomores are studying the story of Jesus calming a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Told in three of the four Gospels, Mark uses the term terrified in his account to describe the behavior of the disciples. It's interesting that terrified did not refer to their anxiety about the storm. It applied to their reaction to Jesus after he rebuked the wind and stilled the tempests. I tell my students the difference between fear and terror: fear has to do with the known while terror implies an encounter with the unknown. A number in the boat that night were fisherman and knew first hand the dangers of the conditions. Undoubtedly, they had faced fierce squalls on that same body of water. But what terrified them was something they had NEVER witnessed before- a man who could with a word from his mouth control nature at its height. Matthew 8:28 records their words; "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" Luke 8:23 indicates that due to the storm, the men were in great danger... but they were still safe. They were not at risk because they were in the right boat. What was Jesus doing before he intervened with the weather? He was fast asleep! The men woke him but had no expectations he would perform an amazing miracle. Notice, their question was not, "What are you going to do?" Their question was, "Don't you care if we drown?" He didn't care because they weren't about to perish in the sea. He asked them a question in return. "Where is your faith?" He probably was asking me the same question yesterday as I shivered and tried to decide how to handle the intruder in the pickup. Caution is good and being careful is wise but safety does not reside in our own efforts. Our perils are no less real than those faced by the disciples battered by the elements. But, even if we meet hardships and danger and sorrow, we are still in his hands and still in his boat. His boat will dock successfully, insuring the safety of his most precious passengers, his children.

Applicable quote of the day:
"When we are in a situation where Jesus is all we have, we soon discover he is all we really need."
Gigi Graham Tchividjian

God bless,
Steve

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