Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Others

As we go through the school year, I will speak to my students about differences and how Jesus reached out to other cultural groups.  The following describes an incident in one of my classes from 2006 and it involves a young man named Joel Baby.

This is testing week at Westbury Christian. This morning, everybody from the kindergarten kids through eleventh graders began the Stanford Achievement Tests. The eighth graders, last names A through H, are assigned to me. After the initial handing out of answer sheets and distributing booklets, it's a breeze for the teachers. The time consuming stage is filling in information at the outset; name, date of birth, gender, teacher, school. The students have to color in the accompanying little circles which correspond to letters and numbers. As we neared the finish, we came to a box labeled "Race/Ethnicity." Our kids come from families with origins in numerous countries so this was going to be fun. Consider the options:
American Indian or Alaskan Native background- AI/AN
Asian background- A
Black or African American background- B/AA
Hispanic or Latino background- H/L
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander background- NH/PI
White- W
Another background- O

Joel raised his hand, wondering which circle to color in. His family is from India but that doesn't fit into any category. One of the kids told him he should put AI (American Indian) because he is an American citizen with Indian ancestry. We laughed. He settled on O, as in others.

Early in the school year, I tell my students that everybody in the world is either male or female and all of us are either Jewish or Gentile. They get the male/female demarcation but some do not know the Jewish/Gentile distinction. Many discover for the first time they have a new Gentile ethnicity! I try to make the point that since Jesus came and broke down the walls of division, we Gentiles have been blessed to be invited into the kingdom of God on equal footing. Paul worded it like this:
"For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him." (Romans 10:12)
Hopefully, time breaks down barriers of race and ethnicity that have no place in the worship of the God who created all the skin colors. The kids at our school don't make a big deal of it. Maybe someday adults won't either and we won't need ethnic boxes on standardized tests. For now, Joel is happily an O. Maybe I can be an O, too. Sometimes W is boring!

Applicable quote of the day:
"We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders."
Maya Angelou

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Game Of Love

One of my favorite entries about one of the world's best saints. This is from August 11, 2012.
Meagan left yesterday to return to her home in Africa. Officially, she's an American and she loves the country of her birth but her heart is elsewhere. The daughter of my brother, Dave, and his wonderful wife, Sally, Meagan lived in Zambia at the Namwianga Mission for four years before this recent two year sabbatical. Her job is taking care of the infants but that's like saying Van Gogh's job was painting. It's her life, giving love to babies, many of whom are HIV+ and whose life expectancy is brutally short. She's cried at many funerals and held many little ones as they take their final breath on this side of eternity. I could not even hazard a guess on how many Americans are now involved in the work at Namwianga because of Meagan, including many at my school whom she has never met and will never meet. If you're inclined to believe analogies which include fairy tales, she's a twenty-first century Pied Piper.

When Meagan was growing up, I would see her several times a year, usually at Christmas and sometimes in the summer. You know how a song gets stuck in your head and it just seems natural to sing it at the drop of a hat? That's what Meagan did one visit to St. Louis to see her grandparents/my folks. Every time we got in the car, she broke out with Wayne Fontana and the Mindbender's hit, Game Of Love. Loudly. She must have been only ten or eleven at the time and she had no inhibitions. She mastered that song, made it her own with the unique stylings only a pre-teen niece can pull off and still be amazingly adorable. Meagan's not a little girl anymore. She's a big time player in a most vicious struggle and her arrival will allow the survival of some most at risk. Last spring, a young lady who had worked alongside Meagan in Africa was performing at my school in Houston with a drama group. She related how the mortality rate of the babies drops dramatically when Meagan is living at the Mission. When Meagan was a child, she sang over and over and over that love was a game. Now, she knows it's the best weapon in the battle between life and death and without a doubt, she's been armed by the Lord. God speed, Meagan Hawley. One continent is about to get a little brighter.

To watch/listen to The Game Of Love, copy/paste or click the link below:

Applicable quote of the day:
"Love is a game than two can play and both win."

Eva Gabor

God bless and love,

Uncle Steve
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ten Years After

Hard to believe but another school year is coming to an end almost before it seems to have started. The following, from May 17, 2006, is about a whole decade whistling by.

My favorite Beatles' song is Yesterday, a haunting ballad sung by Paul McCartney, accompanied simply by acoustic guitar and a string arrangement. There is a fascinating historical breakdown of this classic at Among other nuggets of knowledge, we find:
1. The original title was Scrambled Eggs. McCartney penned the melody and came up with the lyrics some time later.
2. Only Paul appeared on the song. In fact, the other Beatles did not like it. In fact, they blocked its release as a single in England in 1965. John Lennon disparaged it in interviews on several occasions.
3. Yesterday has had more cover versions recorded than any other song, totaling in excess of three thousand.

Why Yesterday today? It's a nostalgia issue for me. Ten years ago today, I was part of the most memorable high school athletic contest in my coaching career. On May 17, 1996, our Friendship Christian School (Lebanon, Tennessee) baseball team beat Goodpasture in a thrilling substate game for the right to play in the Single A State Tournament held in Chattanooga the following week. I wrote extensively about that game and that season in my book, in a chapter entitled Ricky. The focus of that book section was Ricky Stem, a talented pitcher on that Commander squad who would die tragically one month later. I recall few specifics of the game itself but the emotion of doing something no baseball team in our school's history had accomplished was overwhelming. The end of game celebration, captured on film by team mother Debbie Foutch, remains one of my favorite pictures. What struck me today is the passage of time. Ten years? It's not possible- it was only yesterday. I mentioned that my memories of the game are fuzzy but not of the ride home. I drove the school van back to our rural campus carrying only three players: Sam Crutcher, Burke McFarland, and Ben Johnson. A hilarious scene ensued when we unloaded at the field house. Burke accidentally slammed Sam's hand in the sliding van door...and laughed about it. An enraged Sam, the most mild mannered young man I ever taught, chased Burke with every intent of maiming him. I don't think he ever quite caught up to his antagonist, sparing Burke to annoy Sam at least one more day. 

Ten years worth of the earth revolving- 3652 days to be exact, counting two leap years- have been added to the calendar since that wonderful afternoon. Where are those three now? Sam went to med school, Burke enlisted in the military, and Ben teaches and coaches here with me at Westbury Christian School in Houston. They are all men now. Ben didn't remember this was the anniversary until I reminded him. When I was a kid, a decade was an eternity. Now, it's gone before you know it. Einstein spoke of time slowing down at the speed of light but his theory seems to work in reverse as we get older. God's interpretation of time is translated on a much different level than is ours, as his created beings. You can measure time in a multitude of ways but the one that matters most is how it is calculated through our hearts. I find that my heart is a most inaccurate timepiece.

PS: Sad news item of the day: News report from England today report the impending divorce of Paul McCartney and wife Heather Mills McCartney. Sir Paul refused to sign a prenuptial agreement four years ago, considering it unromantic. According to British law, the soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Paul McCartney could receive $380 million dollars from the settlement.

To watch a live rendition of Yesterday, click or copy/paste the link below:

Applicable quote of the day:
All my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they're here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday."
Paul McCartney

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Change Of Direction

Last night, my thoughts were on the rock group Deep Purple. Quite a shift tonight as we look at The Osmonds. This is from September 29, 2012.
Good morning from the St. Louis International Airport. It’s been a  whirlwind trip for me to the Show Me State. Last night, I spoke to the annual dinner for Christian Family Services at the Frontenac Hilton. It was a terrific affair and I was so excited to reconnect with so many from CFS, where my father served as a marriage and family specialist, and the Lafayette Church of Christ, where my folks were members for twenty-three years. CFS does incredible work for children and families in the St. Louis area as well as Illinois. Over $163,000 was raised last night, allowing this great faith-based group to minister to families in crisis. Special shout-out to CFS director Steve Awtrey for making my trip such an enjoyable one!

While in St. Louis, I stayed for two nights with Trina Agee Cornell and her husband, Bob, who I was blessed to meet for the first time. Trina and I started going on Honduras missions together when she was a high school student and we probably made seven or eight of those trips to Central America. While I was waking up and getting ready to return home several hours ago, Bob went out for a twenty mile run (that is no misprint!) and Trina left to work-out at the gym across the street. As I was drinking my morning cup of coffee from the next door Quik Trip, which now counts me as a fan, I sat down and watched some television. I stopped on the Biography Channel which was airing a documentary on singer Andy Williams who died several days ago. It was a fascinating look at an entertainer whose career resembled a roller coaster, including a definite uptick with the recording of his signature hit, Moon River. The documentary spent considerable time on Andy’s television show which ran from 1962-to 1967.  One big part was the Osmond Brothers who became regulars and as a result, celebrities. How they came to The Andy Williams Show was what interested me. Andy’s father had seen the four original members of the Osmonds on television and told Andy he needed to book the boys. Andy apparently had not heard of them but called the brothers in for an audition. Within five days of his father’s suggestion, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay were receiving their first big exposure on national television. In short order, Andy had little brother, Donny, on the show and then sister Marie. The Osmond family became mainstays and fame followed. Just think- if Andy’s dad had not seen them, the Osmond’s might never  have hit the big time. Donny might not have become a heartthrob and Marie might not have become America’s Sweetheart. (My mom thought Marie was absolutely the perfect teenage girl.) History changed because of one man watching a television show and making a phone call. Just think of the incredible debt the entire Osmond family owes to Andy William’s father, Jay.

This morning as Trina drove me to the airport, we talked about what could have been. About five years ago, we tried very rigorously to hire Trina to teach at Westbury Christian School. Many of us at WCS knew her through those Honduras trips and were certain she would be a tremendous asset for us. In spite of a an all-out recruiting pitch, she decided to take a job much closer to her home in Nashville, Tennessee. I told Trina this morning that even though we were very disappointed, it turned out for the best. If she had moved to Houston, she probably would not have met her husband, Bob. She would not have been a part of her church in St. Louis where she is making an impact as she and Bob work with the young people. And she would not have touched the lives of the close to one hundred eighth graders she teaches every day in her middle school in Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis. I'm pretty sure the Lord would have been content if Trina came to Houston and He could have arranged in some other way for the two to cross paths. I believe He works through our wishes and prayers and His master plan although none of us can adequately explain it. Last night, I told the CFS crowd how my parents had three choices when they moved to St. Louis in 1985: Manhattan, New York, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota were their other options. Would they have made the same kind of impact in New York or South Dakota? I think so- they had the gift of letting God work through them. Trina has that same gift but I'm pretty sure Bob is glad it worked out like it did. The Lord knows what He is doing.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever."
Keri Russell

To watch and listen to the Osmonds, click or copy/paste the link below:

*I'm not a fan of the Osmonds but I really like the song above which they made many years after The Andy Williams show.*

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Daydreaming About Deep Purple

Sometimes, I just like the older music. This is from November 24, 2012.
I left Wichita this morning and 622 miles later, arrived back in Houston. There was a slight change in my routine: I drank a Five Hour Energy and since I never got sleepy, it must have worked. Less coffee = the elimination of bathroom breaks! Since I don't have cable radio, I listened to regular stations from Kansas through Oklahoma through Texas. As I channel hopped, I was reminded of Joni Mitchell's classic song, You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio. On the Interstate for ten hours, you hear a little bit of everything from country to hip hop, from sermons to political commentary, from sports talk to a multitude of Espanol stations, from oldies back to country. What I didn't hear was a great quantity of what I consider quality music. I miss the days when the same station played Bob Dylan, the O'Jays, Merle Haggard, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, as well as the Captain and Tennille. Now, it seems like the radio is fractured and specialized and slave to demographics, just like our society. My middle school girls tend to break down into two camps; the One Direction followers or the Justin Bieber believers. I would guess I'm not alone in missing the days when popularity was based more on ability and not so much on looks and marketing and television contests..... and I'm not saying the performers our junior high girls adore lack talent. So, in protest of the current state of the airwaves, based on my limited expertise, I leave you with one of the best songs I remember which came to me somewhere today, between Oklahoma City and Dallas: I've Been Lonely Too Long by The Rascals.

Click or copy/paste the link below to hear and see, I've Been Lonely Too Long:

Applicable quote of the day, # 1:
Luke 18:1
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Timing Is Everything

The longer I live, the more I love Sunday night Bible study. The following, from December 28, 2009 is about a Sunday night worship almost eight years ago.

Worship services for me in Wichita are family affairs, assembling with Dave and Sally, Scott and Karen, and their kids, with their congregation. Last night, their minister, Darrell Sears, led the church through a lesson combining hymns with thoughts from the Proverbs. As always, Darrell's illustrations and comments on the Word of God were excellent. One of the hymns we sang together was a childhood favorite of mine, I Need Thee Every Hour. Darrell highlighted the second verse of Annie Hawk's plea to the Lord, penned in 1872 :

I need thee every hour;
stay thou nearby;
temptations lose their power
when thou art nigh.

Darrell related that this stanza took him back to his younger days at summer church camp. In those adolescent times, temptation felt much less less tempting as he immersed himself in the love of God amid the company of other kids with much the same mindset. It was easy for me to feel kinship in that arena. My two weeks every summer at Nebraska Youth Camp were a fortnight when time stood still and in my innocence, I thought Satan was rendered powerless. As I have gotten older, my summer camp paradise has been replaced on two levels; mission trips and vacation time with family. In the interval between camp and adulthood stood college where my self control functioned at a minimal level. Mom always preached about being influenced by others and of course, she was right. I also made little attempt to be any sort of Christ-like model to those in my circle of friends. But now, I find temptation less enticing in certain settings, such as the times I share with other Christians in Honduras-Haiti-China or in the confines of my brothers' homes. Unfortunately- or fortunately, depending on perspective- I have to venture outside those confines to live my life. At camp, we used to play
Capture The Flag, the ultimate big group kid game.
You were safe as long as you remained on your side. But, if you crossed over into enemy territory, you were on your own. We know the temptation story, where Jesus squares off in the wilderness against Satan. My students are under the impression that Jesus was almost granted immunity for the rest of His life. I point out Luke 4:13 which states, "When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.'' Do you ever feel that the devil sees a multitude of moments in your existence as an opportune time? I know I do. James tells us that if we resist Satan, he will flee from us. Maybe I just resist better in family settings or out of the country. Too bad church camp was only in the summer; I would have sinned a lot less.

Applicable quote of the day:
What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people, is that they don't want to discourage it completely.

Benjamin Franklin

To hear a great rendition of I Need Thee Every Hour, click or copy/paste the ink below:

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Scent Of My Mother

I was sitting in worship this morning when I smelled my mother. It was only for a couple of seconds but I know it was her. Maybe it was just some lady walking down the aisle or the air conditioner blowing just right very briefly but I felt like Mom was in my presence. This isn't some mystical rambling or deep psychological need to share inner thoughts. No, I simply became aware of the aroma of Jergens Lotion. I don't know if my mother wore perfume- I assume she did- but she always wore Jergens Lotion. So briefly this morning, I was whisked to my childhood by a long forgotten fragrance which I never really forgot. It's pretty hard to forget the bouquet of the one who brought you kicking and screaming into this world and subsequently raised you. For a very brief moment, I was a little boy again.

Part of the Biblical teaching of being fearfully and wonderfully made is, I believe, the God given gift of being able to transport yourself to another time and place through something as simple a sight or a scent or a sound. The departed come alive again for a second and the sweet reliving of a moment can bring a fleeting smile. Mom smelled like Mom but the neat thing is she smelled like Mom to many other people as well. She never turned anyone away who needed love, much to my chagrin as a kid. She was my mom- our mom if you throw in my siblings- and not the whole world's mom which was a role in which she seemed to relish. There were those mourned the death of my mother as if it were their own, which to many, it was. Paul taught that believers are, or should be, the aroma of Christ. Today, I was reminded Mom fit that description. She just came wrapped in the contents of countless plastic bottles of Jergens Lotion.

Applicable quote of the day:
My mother was a Sunday school teacher. So I am a byproduct of prayer. My mom just kept on praying for her son. 
Steve Harvey

God bless,
Steve/fortunate son of Sarah Nelda Chesshir Hawley
Luke 18:1
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