Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cheek To Cheek



My Bible classes have studied the Sermon on the Mount recently. The teachings of Jesus become difficult when we get to the love your enemies and don't retaliate lessons. Here is an entry on the subject from December 17, 2006.

Turning the other cheek took a beating last night. In separate incidents in the world of sports, we witnessed once again the disdain with which Jesus' teaching is regarded. In a football game pitting the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons, Terrell Owens admitted spitting on DeAngelo Hall but justified his actions due to inflammatory comments from his opponent. At basketball's shrine, New York's Madison Square Garden, a flagrant foul escalated into a full-scale brawl between the hometown Knicks and the Denver Nuggets. All ten players on the court at the time of the fracas were ejected. Suspensions are expected tomorrow, the biggest undoubtedly to be handed to the Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony, who happens to be the leading scorer in the National Basketball Association. The price of pugilism has soared with crackdowns and fines in the professional leagues but it does not seem to have acted much as a deterrent. The players always apologize the next day but the damage is done. France possibly lost the World Cup this July in soccer when their best player, Zidane, was kicked out of the match with Italy for head-butting Italian Gennaro Gattuso. The flashpoint? Gattuso allegedy made a remark as to the characteristics of Zidane's sister. France never recovered and fell to their rivals in a shootout. To many, Zidane's stellar career will be defined by that one second in time. It was an expensive tick of the clock.

Recently, my sophomore classes finished a series of five quizzes covering Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. As we concluded, I had the students write a paragraph on what they considered the most difficult teaching contained in Jesus' best known sermon and why it was so challenging. Half chose the related topics of loving your enemies/forgiving your enemies/turning the other cheek to your enemies. Undoubtedly, Jesus saw a need to address anger and retaliation two hundred decades ago and the need for a refresher course is strong. The kids know that society mocks those who do not fight back as weak and that defending yourself is perceived as a guaranteed right in almost any circumstance. These teenagers are open about their own struggles dealing with those who wound them and their subsequent efforts to define what exactly what Jesus meant. Here are a few examples of their thoughts.

"In today's society, we are taught to fight back and not let anyone walk all over us. It is hard to turn the other cheek because after it's over, no one recognizes that you did the right thing."
Travis

"Your enemies will continue to hate you but your trying to bless them? To me, that's like constantly pinching yourself, knowing it's going to hurt but doing it anyway."
Johnita

"How can you turn the other cheek when someone has just hit you? This is something I need to work on. Maybe I just need to hang around people who don't stir up problems."
Ariel


"Loving your enemy is hard because you want to make their life miserable like they have made yours. Turning the other cheek is hard because I do not know how to forgive."
Lisette


I really like what these kids said. Isn't admission is always the the first step in changing? Maybe if they showed some clips on ESPN of athletes walking away from confrontation it would help but that isn't likely to happen. I love the scene in To Kill A Mockingbird where Atticus Finch simply wipes his face after the despicable Bob Ewell spits on him. I must admit, I wanted Atticus to floor that redneck...but that would have destroyed who Atticus Finch was. To strike back would have made Atticus and Bob Ewell equals. Jesus did not respond in kind when he was beaten, mocked, spat upon, and put to death. For some odd reason, Jesus wants me to mimic that behavior. That's tough. I haven't even caught up to Atticus Finch yet... and he's fictional.


Applicable quote of the day:
"I don't deserve any credit in turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it."
Flannery O'Connor


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

Friday, April 18, 2014

Oddly Awed


We had no school today due to this being Easter weekend. As with most holidays, it came at a very opportune time! This is an extremely busy time of the year for me. I am in charge of three school chapels next week and working on plans for my summer mission to Can Tho, Vietnam. Additionally, our Honduras/Haiti collection goes into high gear in about ten days which is fun but very demanding on my time and energy. There are lesson plans to be finalized and regular life errands to run and blogs to be penned. On top of that, I gave tests in all my five classes two days ago and by school policy, they must be graded and recorded on RENWEB, our communication system with parents by this coming Monday morning. So, I spent three plus hours today grading Bible exams. AND I FINISHED!

Grading the tests today, I found something that was fascinating. I have quite a few Chinese students spread out over four of my five sections. A number of them on Wednesday wrote down a completely wrong answer to a question and yet I counted all of the replies as correct. Perhaps I should explain. Part of the test covered the raising by Jesus of the widow's only son in the village of Nain as told in Luke 7. We discussed some particulars of the story and finished with the response of the crowd and how this fantastic news went everywhere in that part of Israel. The question in question was, What was the reaction of the crowd to the raising of the boy? To my amusement, quite a few of the kids from China put this in the blank: 
odd
Instantly, I realized what had transpired. When we took notes, I told them the crowd had been awed. Well, if English is your second language and context is not your strength, that answer made perfect sense! (I should say here one of my American students put Ahhhh!) You know, come to think of it, odd and awed sound almost identical! I can say with certainty those kids had their listening ears on!

As I thought about the mix-up in vocabulary, it occurred to me that there was some irony in the answers. The raising of the dead in the scriptures is an exciting concept to the believer, culminating with the resurrection of Jesus and the promise that His followers will live again, hopefully filling us with the sense of wonder and leaving us awed. But to those who don't believe, that foundational tenet of our faith is strange or bizarre, even odd. Paul, in 1st Corinthians, used the term foolishness in describing the world's view of the crucifixion while the Christian connects it to the power of God. Truthfully, I'm glad we had the glitch. It makes me aware of my responsibility in sharing the good news with teenagers from all around the world and even from different religious backgrounds.  Odd or awed? We all have to decide. It will be the most crucial choice of our lives, no matter our native tongue.

Applicable quote of the day:
"If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers."


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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



Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Good Dad, Installment III


In all of my Bible  classes, we discuss my belief that God chose Joseph as carefully as Mary to be the earthly father of Jesus. Some kids think that Jesus would have been  Jesus no matter what but the angel told Mary that she was highly favored and not some random Jewish teenage girl. This week, we began looking at the Parable of the Prodigal Son where the father is clearly portrayed as God. As part of the assignment, the students wrote an in-class paper describing what they believe makes a good father. Here are some of their thoughts, boys in blue and girls in purple. We will do this for several days and all are used by permission. Tonight's entries are from a variety of grade levels.


A good father would be loving, intelligent and have self-control. A loving father would be a teacher and willing to give up something that is immoral. A father would be adept in his teaching upon God and virtue. He will be able to control himself in any disciplinary circumstances. More importantly, a good father would be joyful in everything that he does. My father is not the perfect one; he is very intelligent but shows it passively. The same for love. He doesn’t like to show his love in public. Sometimes I feel as if he thinks he doesn’t have a family anymore.
-F


A good father must have three key characteristics. These characteristics are that he must not be stubborn, must be merciful, and most importantly, the father must be Christian. The first characteristic a good father has is the ability to be open-minded. Stubborn people are never fun to cope with and they can frustrate their children, causing them not to listen to their parents. Parents must listen to reason, not just dismiss their child without a second glance. However, a parent must know when to be firm and when to be open-minded. The second trait a good father must have is mercy. Just as God is merciful, a good father must be as well. If a father punishes harshly for the slightest thing, his child will never listen to him. The third trait a good father must have, over everything, is a strong Christian faith. Without a Christian faith, a father can’t teach his child the way to go. Thus, the child will grow up blind. Also, if the father is Christian, he will set a better example for his child since he will be following God. Without these key qualities, a child will not be able to learn from their father. And if the child learns from the father’s ways, he/she will pass these traits through his children, and they will keep passing them down.
-A


I would say a good father is a man who loves and cares for his children. If he shows his love for his child, they know that he cares. A man who fathers a child should also love the child no matter what the situation is. It shows the child a good example. He is someone who will go different events and check on his child. A father has to love and provide for the child for it to feel like he is a father. As long as he does what he can for his children, he is a good father. A good father trues to teach his children all he knows because it's the right thing to do.
-M


A good father is one who always protects his family. A good father is one who is willing to do anything for his wife and children. A good father is always involved in his childrens' lives and is supportive of their dreams and goals. A good father loves his wife with all of his heart. A good father makes stupid jokes to try to make you laugh when you have a bad day. A good father pushes his children to be the best they can be in all that they do. A good father loves Jesus. A good father wakes up early to make breakfast. The most important thing a father does is tell his wife and children he loves them everyday and proves he would do anything for them.
-M


A good father is a father who has his priorities straight and knows his responsibilities. A good father realizes that he is the man of the house and is depended on. He does all he can to support his family. To his family, a good father is firm and strict, yet he loves them unconditionally. A good father protects his family and takes the lead. He sets good examples and teaches life lessons. A good father forgives. But most importantly, a good father tries his best to be like God and teaches his children to do the same.
-B


A good father is one who cares about you. He teaches you the right tools to be successful in life. Your father is supposed to be hard on you at times and nice to you at times. A good father also does the work around the house, prays for the family, cooks the food sometimes, and doesn’t let the wife do all of the work. Getting over things is also a good thing. The main thing about being a good father is providing- that is what a wife is looking for.
-A

Applicable quote of the day:
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
Umberto Eco,
Foucault's Pendulum

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Case Of The Missing Son



 (Grandpa and Grandma Hawley at our house in York, Nebraska with our dog, Pal.)

(Grandpa Hawley reading to four of his grandsons: Back: left, Dave; right, Wayne. Seated: left, me; right, Dale, who would be my college roommate!)

Over the course of several years, Lee and Rosemary Martin have helped immeasurably in making my apartment more inhabitable from helping choose furniture at IKEA to helping assemble my new furnishings to helping arrange it all. The last piece of the puzzle was a shelf which Lee mounted on the wall and upon which now sets a clock, the one my grandparents gave each other when they married ninety-two years ago. This is about my father and his father, who was a great Gospel preacher and grandfather. It originally ran on August 15, 2006.

Grandpa Hawley came to live with us when I was in college. My grandmother had died after fifty-plus years of marriage and my grandfather was now in his eighties. My parents had moved to Lubbock, Texas from Nebraska shortly after his relocation, far away from his Michigan home. He was feeble and had suffered a stroke, leaving his communication skills at a fraction of their former level and impairing his reasoning ability. He was tied down to the house with precious little to do. Grandpa began doing something I would never have imagined under any circumstance- he started watching soap operas and apparently began watching very intently. One day, my mother called my dad at his office on the campus of Lubbock Christian University where he was a professor in the psychology department. Grandpa was very upset and she needed my father to come quickly. When Dad arrived home, he found Grandpa extremely agitated. Dad asked what was wrong and Grandpa, a former minister of the gospel, proclaimed, "I've discovered there's another son and he's trying to steal the inheritance!" Obviously, Grandpa had projected himself into the plot of One Life To Live or General Hospital or any one of the nearly indistinguishable afternoon programs. My father thought for a second and countered with, "Well, Dad, I guess that means Mom was with another man." Grandpa pondered this obvious dilemma and stated emphatically, "IMPOSSIBLE!" That was the end of that story line, or at least he never brought it up again. I have to give my father credit. His quick thinking saved this side of the Hawley clan from a scandal of epic proportions!

I begin all five sections of my Bible classes at Westbury Christian School in the same location; the story of Jacob's sons and his lovely, sole daughter, Dinah. I tell my students if they made a soap opera of the this family tree, it would be too bizarre for anyone to believe. The lying, the infidelity, the intrigue, the murders, the anger, the estrangement: it's all there...and more! And yet, these twelve sons became the twelve tribes of Israel and the roots of the Jewish family which produced our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Modern soap operas tell tales of fictional characters who participate in every immoral behavior known to man. But check out Jacob's family and you'll find the modern dramas can't hold a candle to the real thing. But what did the Father in heaven do with those twelve brothers who struggled with every sin known to mankind? He made a great nation from the descendants of this twelve-pack of mortals. Can't he also do mighty things with us as we live out the daily soap operas that tend to be our existence? He can...and he will, if we let him.


Applicable quote of the day:
"It takes a rather special sort of person to follow soap operas. You have to be highly intelligent to understand them and thick as a brick to want to."
Alan Coren


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Good Dad, Chapter 2






In all of my Bible  classes, we discuss my belief that God chose Joseph as carefully as Mary to be the earthly father of Jesus. Some kids think that Jesus would have been  Jesus no matter what but the angel told Mary that she was highly favored and not some random Jewish teenage girl. This week, we began looking at the Parable of the Prodigal Son where the father is clearly portrayed as God. As part of the assignment, the students wrote an in-class paper describing what they believe makes a good father. Here are some of their thoughts, boys in blue and girls in purple. We will do this for several days and all are used by permission. Tonight's entries are from eighth graders and one freshman. Since tonight is the sixth anniversary of my father's passing, I'm using his pictures. You know what is amazing? Mom is in every picture- I cannot separate them. She is also wearing pearls in all of them and we were far from wealthy! PS- I'm the squirt and Dave is the big kid!

A good father to me, is someone who takes care of his family. A good father is someone who comes home every night and kisses his kids. A good father puts his kids first and not anything else except Jesus. A good father would try to come to every game, event, or dance to support his kids. A good father will not make his children feel worthless, but make them feel like they are kings and queens of the world. A good father will assure his children that everything is okay! A good father will love the mother until death does them part.
-M

A good dad can discipline but understands his children. He doesn't let his children become followers of the bad ways of the world. He teaches his children to value what they have and to humble themselves. A good dad sets it straight with his kids that good grades are expected. But a good dad is also fun and loving so that his children can hang out with him like he is a friend with respect. A good dad involves his children in sports at a young age so they could like doing activities with others. A good dad doesn't take his child’s side when the child is wrong. He teaches his child to show respect.
-J

I believe a good father is one who loves all his children, even if they mess up. A good father is one who says he will always love you, even if you break his heart. A good father is one who comes to all of his child’s performances, and is always there for them. A good father is one who is sorry if he messes up and then hugs it out. I would want my husband to be kind and caring. I don’t want my children to have a father who doesn't care about them. My husband will punish, but will love his kids and wife no matter what happens. As long as we are together, my husband will love us all.
-A
A good father lets his son go down his own path, but straightens the road for him. He picks them out of the dirt when he makes a mistake. He keeps you on a leash and extends the leash to let you go farther. When you make a mistake, he stops extending the leash and scolds you. Then little by little, he extends it again.
-N

A good father should be kind to his children and take good care of them. He should be patient and help them gain confidence. A good father helps his children through hard times. He should exercise with the kids while Mom is cooking. Moms and Dads play different roles in our lives. Moms are helpers and cooks and comforters who take care of the child's health and feelings. Dad is more of a protector and sponsor who worries when you are sad. Dads will also try to buy things to make their children happy. Dads cannot be perfect but they really love their kids, even though they might be angry with them.

-F

The good father is one who loves his children and he has the ability to forgive. He is a man who protects his kids but he also gives them the right to make their own choices and make their own mistakes. He will be there for his kids' games and at other really important events in their lives. He will be there to protect them from harm and give them confidence to do things they are scared of. He will love his wife as well as his children. A good father will be at his kids' weddings. He will show them how to treat people and ladies if the child is a boy. A good father is a really good example and he will also be good to his own mom. -S

A good father is one who spends time with his kids. A better father is one who shows his kids the right path which is God's path. Fathers should be there for their children from the beginning until the end. A father is a crucial person in everyone's life. Without the presence of a father, a family is not the same. God is the father of the world. God is always there for us no matter how much we sin. We can be on the wrong path but He provides many helpful tools in the world, like the Bible and the church to bring us back to His path. He will always love us like every earthly father should love his kids and show them the right path. Even if the father is not successful, he should stay with his family so he can teach them things that will make them successful in their own lives.
       -D


Applicable quote of the day:

When my father didn't have my hand....he had my back.
Linda Poindexter 

God bless,
Steve (son of Roger)
Luke 18:1

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Catch

(The last picture of our parents together, taken on their 58th anniversary, Christmas Day, 2007.)

Dad died six years ago tomorrow and Mom followed suit a year later. She, like so many, fell victim to Alzheimer's. Mom's condition had a tremendous impact on my father. Dad loved Mom so much that he literally gave his life to take care of her. I wish that my students could have witnessed this first hand instead of simply through my classroom narratives. This entry is from March 13, 2007.


I read it, I think, when I was in high school. Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22, was published in 1961. With a setting from the Second World War, Catch-22 became a catch-phrase for a paradox or no-win situation. The title was based on an imaginary military regulation dealing with mental fitness for combat. A pilot could get out of flying combat missions if he could prove insanity. However, if you applied for removal, you knew the missions were dangerous. Therefore, you were sane and thus ineligible to be relieved of duty. In other words, there was no way out of the perceived predicament. The main character in Heller's book, Captain John Yossarian, was stuck.

I am visiting my folks for Spring Break. I've chronicled Mom's descent into the abyss of Alzheimer's in a number of entries. I usually see her at intervals of several months. She seems to have plateaued in the past year. In some ways, she actually seems better. Therein lies our family version of Catch-22. On Mom's good days, she is a wanderer, capable of unknowingly destroying family heirlooms and valuable property while putting herself in danger. I cringe when she picks up a knife or approaches anything made of glass. On Mom's good days, Dad tends to have bad days. He is worn to a frazzle trying to keep up with her, watching her like a hawk to keep Mom from hurting herself. Invariably, as soon as he picks up the phone on my nightly call, I can tell what kind of day Mom has had by the tone of Dad's voice. On many nights, our conversation is interrupted by,"Honey...no!" On the other hand, when Mom has a bad day, when she is lethargic and non-communicative, Dad can accomplish much more, often for Mom's own benefit, in terms of cooking and household chores. It's a paradox. When she has good days, he has bad and when she has bad days, he has good. (You realize I'm speaking in practical terms, not referencing his constant grief for her deterioration or in the intellectual loss of his best friend.) There is no solution, at least from an earthly perspective. 


Paul had a Catch-22 dilemma. He fervently wished to leave this mortal existence and join the Lord in the eternal reward but his services/encouragement were desperately needed by the Christians in Philippi. He clarifies his conflict in Philippians 1, verses 23-24:
"I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body."
Like us, Paul couldn't have it both ways. You can't be here and in heaven concurrently so he, through the Lord, took the most useful option, staying put. Mom and Dad will make it. It isn't always pretty but it is the will of God and people are learning because of their examples. Mom shows that you can be amazingly sweet and kind in spite of everything and Dad shows you can be faithful and loving, also in spite of everything. In Heller's book, Yossarian was looking for a way out. My dad isn't.



Applicable quote of the day:
"When I read something saying I've not done anything as good as Catch-22, I'm tempted to reply, 'Who has?' "
Joseph Heller


God bless,

Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Life In Pictures


Tonight at worship, one of our elders, Mark Hall, came up to me and said, "You were good looking when you were younger." I knew what he was referencing. Last night, I changed my FACEBOOK cover photo. I do this every week or so but usually it's of me on a mission trip to Vietnam or China or as a very small child in pictures I'm pretty sure were snapped by Grandpa Hawley. Last night's update, though, was the first time I have used a shot of me as a teen, primarily because I have only several in digital form. The new cover is the one at the top, from the York (Nebraska) High Sports' Banquet my senior year and my date is the lovely Miss Deb Schark. I'm not sure why but that old picture has elicited in excess of 115 likes so far and almost thirty comments, not including the one made to me personally tonight. My response to Mark?
"Was good looking?"
Mark's reply; "Well, I guess you're still good looking but not quite so young."
I guess I can live with that!


You know, I think most of the kids in my class would have no idea who that guy in the suit is. I made the point on Saturday in my FACEBOOK status that it was obvious I badly needed a haircut and contacts, both of which came within the next seven or so years. Several commenters made fun of my tie which is ironic as I now possess 250+ pieces of neck-ware. We also had some back and forth about my perceived resemblance to a smaller version of the Los Angeles Lakers' Kurt Rambis, who is probably only eight inches taller that I am. Several more remarked that the picture with Deb is how they remember me. Since my parents moved from Nebraska several years after this was taken, no one in my hometown has seen me except for extremely rare occasions so it's logical that is how their memories would be etched. The second picture, taken last summer in Can Tho, Vietnam, is how my current students know me when I'm not in teaching gear. The young lady is Truc Giang, a friend of Hai, the preacher in the church. We had just completed a class in conversational English and I handed out WCS t-shirts to the five or so pupils. She wanted a picture and I obliged. I would assume that Giang, like my American students, would not see the resemblance in the two shots, either.

Is there any bigger exaggeration than somebody telling a friend they haven't laid eyes on in decades that, "You haven't changed a bit!" I absolutely understand the attempt at kindness but come on; NO CHANGE? Wouldn't we think it was bizarre, or even frightening, if there really was no change? But the great thing about being in the Lord is that we are new....and improved! Paul tells us this in 2 Corinthians 5 and verse 17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
In Romans 6 and verse 4, Paul wrote:
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Forget about being younger like the majority of ads on the Internet scream we can be- we can be newer and better! In our culture, we think younger is superior and it obviously has its advantages. But in a spiritual sense, new often comes with age and life follows death, a juxtaposition  from the scheme we see modeled all around us in nature. And so while part of me misses the times when athletic banquets were of the utmost importance- amazingly, I still go to them every year as a coach!- I don't live in that chapter of my life. Why would I? Through life in Christ, the newer chapters are so much better, and still being written!

Applicable quote of the day:
“When I look at my old pictures, all I can see is what I used to be but am no longer. I think: What I can see is what I am not.”
Aleksandar Hemon,
The Lazarus Project

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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