Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Kellys

 The Kellys


Without a doubt, FACEBOOK has changed my life in the ten years I've been on board. But to read about a couple whose life was permanently altered by the social network, read this entry from August 3, 2009!

I keep running into FACEBOOK. Several weeks ago, I read an article wondering if the upstart social network was about to run its course due to saturation of the market. Last week, I listened to a radio interview with Ben Mezrich whose controversial book, The Accidental Billionaires, is a behind the scenes peek into the forming and meteoric spread of FACEBOOK. Several times recently, I have turned down requests to be added as a friend to someone's page- I simply don't want to join. To be honest, I feel sheepish about refusing an attempt at friendship but I'm already overwhelmed with my five different Internet mail systems. I'm not against FACEBOOK; I just don't think I have time for it.


Kelly Hildebrandt had time for FACEBOOK and like most of us, a curious streak. A twenty year old from Florida, she searched FACEBOOK to see if she could find anyone else with her exact name. She did- a young man in west Texas with the identical spelling. She emailed- he replied. They continued. He flew to Florida- they're getting married in two months. Don't you wish it was that easy? To go to the computer and type in a name....and end up marrying them! (I could foresee a number of guys changing their name to Jessica Alba.) The couple paired by the Internet has had to endure silly questions. Will she take his last name? Will they name their child Kelly? There will be more. To simplify matters, they differentiate by referring to her as Kelly Girl and him as Kelly Boy. Hazarding a wild guess, their lives are going to be very interesting.... and complicated.


Out of curiosity, I went to www.howmanyofme.com, a site that calculates the number of people having the same name in the US. According to their math, there are ten Kelly Hildebrandts in America with no gender differentiation. Think of the variables that brought them together. If her folks had liked Kathy or his parents chose Karl or even if her name were spelled with an
i, no marriage. Without the conception of FACEBOOK, no marriage. Without Kelly Girl having some guts, no marriage. We started in-service this morning with a new groups of teachers and staff from far flung locales. Greg Glenn, our head at WCS, made the observation that the Lord brought each of us together in ways we probably can't grasp on this side of eternity. I've seen Greg display tremendous faith late in the summer as we have key positions to fill and he maintains steadfastly that the Lord will provide. And you know, our Father always seems to make those connections, with or without FACEBOOK. Who knows? Maybe I do need to sign up!

Applicable quote of the day:
"The longer I live, the more faith I have in Providence, and the less faith in my interpretation of Providence”

Jeremiah Day

To watch a CBS interview with the FACEBOOK couple, please click below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V29VRPRbHPw

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

When The Tour de France Came To Houston


I've mentioned several times here that I am an avid exercise guy. During a typical week, I'm at my fitness club six of the seven days and often twice per day. It's close to my work and apartment and the staff is wonderful. I alternate lifting and aerobic work on a treadmill. My club also offers specific classes both in the swimming pool and in the workout portion of the facility. One offering that seems to be very popular is a spinning class where the exercisers use stationary Schwinn bikes to get and stay in shape. Most of the folks who I see entering the room they use look to be fit already so my guess is that the sessions are effective. I doubt I will ever be in any sort of group activity. I prefer doing stuff on my own at my own pace and without a running conversation. We all have our quirks.

That brings me to some of the good members in that spinning class, two to be exact. Over the summer, when the club opened later due to COVID, I was doing my routine concurrently as the spinners would come in to begin. Most were/are women and I can't say I know why. There is a leader who really seems to push the group to work hard. Over the course of several weeks,  I got tickled by two of the gentlemen who participate in the cycling. You see, these guys come in for their class dressed like Lance Armstrong riding in the Tour de France, the world's greatest cycling competition. They are obviously not world class athletes who could compete on any high level anymore but they dress like they are. Some people.

And yet, as I think about it, I'm no different. I wear basketball gear even though I don't play anymore. I wear tennis t-shirts even though I only played one year in high school .... and some doubt the validity of that statement. I wear a Ken Griffey, Jr. Seattle Mariners top and I'm not in the MLB. Judging people by their dress is bad; judging people by how they dress when I do the same thing is worse. Most of us probably take the path of it's different when I do it. I'm not going to say anything to those guys; I greatly appreciate anyone who goes to great lengths to stay healthy! In fact, I'm kind of ashamed of myself for the whole thing but I am making a public confession of something that no one else would know about. That's a start, I guess.

James 2 opens with a section about favoritism based on clothing or at least the relative wealth of worshippers based on appearance. It obviously is not concerned with NIKE or adidas apparel but there is a sense to me that the concept is the same; don't make mental rulings based on how others are clothed. I'm not talking about modesty which is a whole different issue and one where few can come to agreement. There is only one article of clothing that should really matter anyway. In 
Romans 13:14, Paul put it this way:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ
Doesn't get much plainer than those words! Everything emanates from that. If I am properly outfitted spiritually, what others choose to put on in the morning should not register much on my radar. I should view every human being with eyes lacking any jaundice. But if I see those two guys in the next Tour de France, I'm going to AMAZON and follow in their bicycle path! At the very least, they gave me something to write about!

Applicable quote of the day:

"It’s a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.”
Fausto Coppi (two-time Tour de France winner)

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at shawley@westburychristian.org

Monday, November 23, 2020

Be Perfect

 Be Perfect



Baseball was my first love growing up. This is from August 15, 2012.
I have a confession to make; I don't like watching baseball. I say it's a confession because I played baseball in college and was a high school baseball coach for six years in Georgia so I feel kind of guilty. With that being said, I watched my first inning of baseball of the year this afternoon. But it wasn't just any old game or any old inning. I had just showered and was dressing at my fitness club after swimming shortly before 5:00 PM and was watching PTI (Pardon The Interruption) on ESPN. Well, in an odd play on words, they interrupted the show and went live to Seattle. The Mariners' Felix Hernandez was pitching a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays going into the ninth inning and the network picked up the live broadcast of what could be an historic event. In the more than one hundred twenty years of major league baseball, there had only been twenty-two perfect games in which a pitcher allows no runners to reach base. In dramatic fashion, Hernandez set the Rays down 1-2-3 in that ninth inning, setting off a wild celebration among teammates and in the stands. It was the best five minutes of television I've seen in a very long time. King Felix, as he is fondly known is my new favorite player!

And yet, when I look in the box score for the game, I see Felix Hernandez was not quite perfect today, if you want to get picky. The umpire called thirty-six of his pitches balls. Rays' batters also fouled off eighteen pitches and put fifteen pitches into fair territory. To me, absolute perfection would be eighty-one pitches, all strikes, and no opposing batter would make any contact with wood on leather sphere. But that's never happened and it's overwhelmingly improbable it ever will. The last thing Jesus told us in the first chapter pf the sermon on the Mount was to, 'Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.' I don't think I've ever seen any scholar or commentator teach Jesus meant sinless perfection. That would mean doing something no one besides the Savior Himself has ever accomplished. But the completeness of life with the Lord, that is perfection in a definition that I can strive for. In my unattainable definition of pitching perfection, Felix Hernandez came up short some four hours ago. But in the only definition that really matters, he was flawless and historically so. We should all be so perfect.

Applicable quote of the day:
"For love is a willful stirring of our thoughts unto God, so that it receive nothing that is against the love of Jesus Christ, and therewith that it be lasting in sweetness of devotion; and that is the perfection of this life."
Richard Rolle


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

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Hymn, Not Me

 Hymn, Not Me

After reading this entry from December 30, 2012, you might wonder if I did what I pledged to do. NOT YET!

Good evening from El Dorado, Arkansas! I came here with my Aunt Jerry and Uncle Jack after roughly three days in Nashville, Arkansas. Lord willing, I will stay here until New Year's Day when I'll drive back to Houston. I haven't been to El Dorado since I was a little boy. I'll help ring in the New Year with my aunt and uncle's congregation tomorrow night. You know churches throw wild parties!

Somewhere on the road between Wichita and Nashville on Thursday, I made a promise to myself that I will write a hymn sometime in my life. I put no time frame on my oath so it could be thirty years off before I will do it. It probably will have something to do with Christian duty- we don't sing many songs in worship anymore along that line. I've always admired hymns that said things I wish I could, that touched me like I wish I could affect others. From childhood, I loved hymns like Faith Of Our Fathers, Ye Christian Heralds, My Faith Looks Up To Thee, etc. These writings painted word pictures of my faith and responsibility in ways even a boy could understand. I can only pray to even scratch the surface of that kind of spirituality. There is a slight problem of my not being able to read or write music but I know people who can. I'd want it to be something simple, like Let Us With A Gladsome Mind or 'Tis Religion, melodies even a tone deaf guy like me can handle. This morning, in worship at a small rural church, I opened the hymnal to Blessed Assurance. My eyes rested on these lines from that immortal piece of Christian music:
Angels descending, bring from above

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
I'd settle for some original thoughts like that. I'll let you know in the next thirty years.

Applicable quote of the day:
“A religious life is a struggle and not a hymn”
Madame de Stael


God bless,
Steve

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

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Flock

 The Flock



Our father spent the last years of his life caring for our mom who was left incapable of anything by Alzheimer's. It was a powerful example to all his children. This is from December 14, 2006.

I walked to the nearby Wendy's for dinner tonight. As I cut through the parking lot of an adjacent restaurant, my path crossed theirs. It was a group of adults with Down Syndrome who had just come out of the Piccadilly Cafeteria from supper. There were four of them, three walking with hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them as they returned to their van. They did not see me: I thought at least one of them might be blind. But, they had each other to lean on and they seemed content. A woman with them, obviously their caregiver, was so kind and considerate to the quartet under her oversight. I was reminded of the statement in Matthew 9 about the Savior's concern for those who struggle to fend for themselves:
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd."

My mother is now completely at the mercy of others. Alzheimer's has rendered her incapable of defending herself from anything nor can she recognize any potential dangers in her path. God in his mercy gave my dad the responsibility of defending my mother from what remains of her ever-shrinking world. What many would consider an unbearable burden, Dad views as a spiritual blessing. The scriptures are replete with references to shepherd/flock in their roles as protector/protected. Mom is my father's one sheep flock. She has a terrific shepherd.

Applicable quote of the day:
"David wasn't thinking of being king when he tended sheep; he was just doing what God sat before him."
John Fisher


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Friday, November 20, 2020

Role Reversal At The Gun Range

 Role Reversal At The Gun Range

Lord willing, I will see Nate, the subject of this story, tomorrow! This is from December 27, 2016! 
We were walking in this afternoon and I held the door for an older gentleman who was leaving. He spoke to me, saying, "Have a good day, Coach." It caught me off guard because nobody outside of relatives knows me here in the middle of Wichita, Kansas. Then, I remembered that it's monogrammed on the chest of the WCS jacket I was wearing and I got my bearings back. But, it was the last time for several hours that I felt like a coach. You see, I was entering a gun range with my nephew, Nate, and my niece, Karis. Nate has taken up shooting, purchasing a pistol back in the fall, and going through training. At Thanksgiving, he told me all about how he got interested in his new hobby. I told him I'd like to go with him sometime and sometime turned out to be today. It was Nate's treat and I found out, an expensive one. After putting on goggles and ear protectors, we entered the shooting area. I discovered how jumpy I was initially due to the boom boom boom of the shots and and the reverberations. It took some time to acclimate to the environment but after an hour squeezing the trigger, I barely noticed any more.


As I had only fired a gun a couple of times and that outdoors at a family reunion, I had almost no experience with a firearm. Nate took me through the process step by step, from stance to aim to hand/fingers/thumb position to working the safety to pulling the trigger. I wasn't very good but I did improve as we pulled the targets in for inspection. Nate was good at giving advice in increments. Do this. Change that slightly. Good job that round. While Nate was reloading for me, Karis and I talked about how learning to shoot a gun was sort of like learning how to shoot a free throw; stance, hand position, routine, picking up a target. The difference is that I can still shoot 80% from the free throw line and can only dream of hitting the target 80% of the time. When we finished, Nate was very complimentary of my rookie efforts and he also told me he thought Karis was a natural. I know nothing about shooting but he hit the nail on the head. Karis was very accurate even though she only has had a couple of outings at the range. Maybe some shooters are born and not trained!

You know, I held Nathan the day he was born, only hours after his birth. And now, only hours ago, he was my teacher. Funny how the wheels of time spin, isn't it? Part of humility is knowing what you don't know. That's easier in some arenas than others. But it's also easier to take instruction from someone near your own age than someone you babysat as an infant. In Luke 6:40, Jesus makes this statement:
The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
Maybe that applies to nephews and uncles, too. (And maybe brothers and sisters as Nate is passing on what he knows to Karis.) We teach what we know to enrich others and there is fulfillment in both sides of the equation. Sometimes, we even shoot a bulls eye. (Well, it probably was just a lucky shot on my end!)


Applicable quote of the day:
“Experience teaches only the teachable.” 
 Aldous Huxley


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Eighth Day Of April

 The Eighth Day Of April



Life doesn't get much better for me than when I have been blessed to baptize one of my students. This is from April 8, 2012.
It was a good Sunday for me. As per most first days of the week, I was part of three worship times. Dave Yasko spoke to us in our English AM service about using words to build bridges, while in our Chinese meeting, Ronnie Chang preached on the importance of the resurrection. Tonight, our LTC (Leadership Training for Christ) kids performed in drama, puppets, singing, and signing for our English group as they did this weekend at their big convention. I also helped pass out communion in the English morning assembly and presided at the Lord's Supper for our Chinese brothers and sisters so I managed to stay busy. On top of all that, it was/is Easter!

Those things I mentioned above made it a good day but it isn't why this one will stick in my mind. You see, at the end of our English service, I baptized April into Jesus Christ. April is a freshman at Texas A & M now, but she was a student at Westbury Christian School and she was one of  my favorite students. I remember one of the first times I was around her at school; I was taken back at the blueness of her eyes which was really strange because girls from China are not supposed to have blue eyes. (The naive me found out they were only contacts.) As time went on, I came to appreciate the intellect and personality of April. I've also come to value that April, like seven other of our female students from Asia, have lived with John and Gracie Greer while enrolled at our school. These eight young ladies (three from China, five from Korea) have benefited from a terrific environment in the home of Gracie, who is our WCS Director of Curriculum, and John, who is one of our congregation's elders. The blessing of residing, even for only a year or two, in a family where God is honored cannot be overestimated. Neither can the blessing of home cooked meals (Gracie is an awesome cook) and the immersion into English. As I thought about April during our Chinese service, I kept coming back to this very old Christian hymn I love whose first verse states:
Ye Christian heralds, go proclaim
Salvation in Emmanuel’s Name;
To distant climes the tidings bear,
And plant the Rose of Sharon there.

You know what's neat? Although it's a mission hymn, the truth is these teenagers have come to us instead of us meeting them in China or Korea. You know what else is neat? April, whose name in Mandarin is Wenjun, providentially picked the month of her new birth as her English name! And one more neat thing; April informed me this morning she is going to find me a Chinese wife! I don't think my day could have gone any better. Welcome to the family, April. We love you.

Applicable quote of the day:
"
Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life."  
S.D. Gordon

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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