Monday, September 01, 2014

He Must Not.....................

Every year, I have my students read the entry posted Friday called The Princess Bride And MookDa's List. It will explain what I'm about to type here. On Friday, after talking about the previously mentioned article, everyone in my Gospels' classes listed five absolutes about the person they will marry in both the positives (He Must/She Must) and the negative (He Must Not/She Must Not). Here is the third installment from my young ladies. They are high schoolers and all are used by permission:

He must not have a criminal record. Sarah
He must not be shorter than me. Madison
He must not be a smoker or obsessive drinker. Lyanne
He must not have a facial piercing. Caitlyn

He must not be disrespectful to those in authority or mistreat the weak. Julia
He must not be boring or smell weird. Dessiah
He must not be awkward. Giovanna

He must not be afraid to meet my parents. Tiata
He must not be flirty. Han

He must not always put himself first. Rita
He must not have an infectious disease. Alexandria

He must not be any other religion or be spiritually immature. Natalie
He must not curse or use vulgar language. Avery
He must not bring me down. Mal

He must not be threatened if I'm more successful. Clara
He must not want to live in another country. Marie
He must not make me cry. Chloe B
He must not be either close minded or too liberal. Addie
He must not criticize my religion. Nelsha
He must not have tattoos. Kaitlyn
He must not already have kids. Tyra
He must not be cocky or arrogant. Catherine
He must be lazy or sloppy. Sidnee

He must not be bald. My
He must not wear his pants below his thighs or have a grill/gold teeth. Toni
He must not be a mama's boy or gang banger. Jasmine
He must not yell at me. Tammy
He must not value worldly possessions more than people/family. Chloe S
He must not leave the house before saying, "I LOVE YOU!" Jazzmin

Applicable quote of the day:
"The sum which two married people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through eternity. "

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

She Must..................

Every year, I have my students read the entry posted Friday called The Princess Bride And MookDa's List. It will explain what I'm about to type here. On Friday, after talking about the previously mentioned article, everyone in my Gospels' classes listed five absolutes about the person they will marry in both the positives (He Must/She Must) and the negative (He Must Not/She Must Not). Here is the second installment from the young men. They are high schoolers and all are used by permission. I should note that almost all mentioned faith but I tried to pick one from each gentleman which was different than the others:

She must be reliable. Justin
She must work hard to be the best mother she can be. Xavier
She must be skinnier than me. Samuel

She must be able to support herself and not rely totally on me. Tucker
She must be an outdoors person. Sheyi
She must have appreciation for all senses of humor. Tre'
She must be shorter than me and have good teeth. Matthew

She must love God because without Him, we are nothing. Jeremiah
She must strive for greatness. Grant
She must be willing to face challenges with me. Kirk

She must be a Christian and give me foot massages! Markus
She must be from Houston/California/New York/Louisiana/Florida. Marlin
She must be well-educated. Derrick
She must be fit and enjoy staying in shape. Vincent
She must be open and perfect for my family standards. Jared
She must be easy going. Gino

She must love me and kids. Xander
She must be optimistic. Travis
She must be loyal and honest and have a heart for Jewish people. Josh
She must be around the same age as me. Jon
She must be mentally stable and have good communication skills. Seye
She must be sensitive and maybe smarter than me. Ibe

Applicable quote of the day:

If you would have a good wife, marry one who has been a good daughter.
Thomas Fuller

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

He Must...............

Every year, I have my students read the entry posted yesterday called The Princess Bride And MookDa's List. It will explain what I'm about to type here. On Friday, after talking about the previously mentioned article, everyone in my Gospels' classes listed five absolutes about the person they will marry in both the positives (He Must/She Must) and the negative (He Must Not/She Must Not). Here is the first installment, used by permission, from my young ladies. They are high schoolers and all are used by permission:

He must be a man who makes me feel enchanted. Alexandria
He must have an individual income and can't ask his parents for money. Rita
He must be serious about marriage. Han
He must be respectful to everyone. Tiata
He must know how to control his temper. Giovanna

He must like country music. Dessiah
He must be able to hold a conversation. Sarah
He must love my mom. Madison
He must accept my culture. Lyanne
He must follow his dreams and support my aspirations. Julia

He must want to have kids so we can watch them grow up together. Caitlyn
He must be educated. Nelsha

He must have Bible verses that apply to him, like 1 Peter 4:8. Addie
He must like my daddy and be liked by my daddy. Chloe B.
He must be bold and brave and want kids...but no too many! Marie

He must love me and take me for all that I am. Clara
He must be strong enough to pick me up. Mal
He must be at least a little artistic or musically talented. Avery
He must have ambition and want more for his family. Natalie
He must have a servant's heart. Chloe S.

He must respect my privacy. Tammy
He must be sensitive but strong. Jasmine

He must treat me like a princess. Jazzmin
He must be faithful, loyal, and honest. Toni

He must be muscular. My
He must be a handyman. Sidnee
He must be humble but also a leader. Catherine

He must play sports or be involved in other activities. Tyra
He must want to adopt children. Kaitlyn

Applicable quote of the day:
"A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short."
Andre Maurois

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

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Princess Bride And MookDa's List

Today in class, I told my students that it is my belief that the Lord chose Joseph as carefully as Mary when selecting earthly parents for the Savior. I mentioned this entry from August 2, 2006 as part of the discussion. Tomorrow, I will share some of our kids' responses to these thoughts.

My brother, Dave, penned two entries while I was in Honduras on a mission trip. In his second installment, Dave quotes a line from the movie, The Princess Bride. One of our elders, Mark Hall, posted a comment speculating on the number of times The Princess Bride had been viewed in comparison to more well-known blockbusters. This past Sunday morning after worship service, I mentioned the comment to Mark, adding that I had never watched the movie in question. At our evening worship service, Mark walked up and placed his family copy of The Princess Bride in my hands, informing me he had probably seen it fifty times. With a recommendation so strong, guess what I did Sunday night? It was good. I thought parts of it were very silly but that is coming from a critic who thinks Napoleon Dynamite is the finest comedy of all time. What I found memorable occurred in the first several minutes of the fairy tale, as told by a grandfather to his grandson. Buttercup, a young lady played stunningly by Robin Wright, falls in love with the farm hand, Westley. From that moment on, her love never wavers in spite of separation and the belief that Westley was dead. True love was all that mattered to Buttercup, the essence of an unwavering romantic believer. And in the end, well- I don't want to spoil it for the two or three of you who haven't seen this 1987 semi-classic.

Every year for Christmas, my folks purchase a subscription for their children to a periodical called The Christian Chronicle. In the August edition, there was a human interest story, just a few paragraphs, but I was captivated by its charm. It seems a missionary from Trinidad, Parker Henderson, was spending time with Christian friends in Malaysia. Parker just happens to have a thirteen year old grandson. His friends just happen to be parents to an eleven year old girl named MookDa. Parker, perhaps encouraging some future romantic interest, displayed photographs of that grandson to MookDa, who appeared unimpressed. But looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to eleven year old girls. Reasoning with a maturity belying her age, MookDa proceeded to put her beliefs on paper, a thesis on marriage, if you will. Typing out her standards for Parker, MookDa assembled a list of a dozen qualities of, quote, "the kind of man that I require." Among others, her qualifications included:

1. he must be a Christian
2. he must be intelligent
3. he must NOT be lazy
4. he must enjoy singing
5. he must read the Bible everyday

To say I was impressed would be an understatement. I work with young people about that age and that type of logic is not universal. What registered most with me was what she did not say. When I hear girls speak of boys they like, one of these descriptions creeps into the conversation: cute, hot, fine, so fine. MookDa, even at eleven, already is looking past the obvious to the eternal. I don't know MookDa, her parents, Parker Henderson, or his grandson. (Parker's brother, Obert, was one of my college Economics professors.) But if in ten or so years, the young man and young lady fall in love, I will believe it was ordained by the Lord. MookDa will never have to resort to she knows what she wants. Undoubtedly, her parents have demonstrated an ideal model of a Christian marriage. I kind of scoff when I hear that match made in heaven stuff. I promise, I won't be scoffing should this romance come to pass.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Men and women are equal in love. They are equally vulnerable and equally powerful."
Elizabeth Rapaport

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hair Apparent

We will begin the study of Nazirites tomorrow in my Gospels classes. That will lead to discussions of what girls know that boys don't - and don't want to- understand. One of those topics is the importance of hair to the fairer gender. This entry is from May 3, 2007.

It used to drive me crazy. When I first started coaching girls' basketball, the fingernail polish and matching ribbons drove me up the wall. As time passed, I came to understand that my players were girls before they were athletes. I read where a prominent coach made the point that boys take masculinity for granted but girls often feel the need to reinforce their femininity while they compete. I think there is validity in his view. Jennifer is a perfect example to me. A sophomore now on our high school team, she was my point guard in middle school. During the NCAA men's basketball tournament, she confessed that she picked the team she rooted for by determining which school had the cuter guys. (Shockingly, other young ladies in my class share her outlook.) Earlier this week, Jennifer entered my classroom for her fifth period Bible class and I complimented her on her hair. It resembled the hair in one of those Miss Clairol television commercials. She was obviously very pleased with the way it looked that particular morning. As we prepared for our quiz, I asked the female students if they could tell as soon as they woke up in the morning if it was going to be a good hair day or a bad hair day. With one accord, they unanimously agreed that you could. The boys were incredulous but I've received the identical response each time I've asked over the years. Girls just know. Since at that age hair is so important, it must be a component in the perceived success or failure of any particular day. (My all-time good hair-bad hair student was Mary Ellen, an eighth grader in my classes in Tennessee during the frizzy/boofy hair period. Sometimes she loved her hair, sometimes she despised it, but it looked the same to me every day of the week.)

It's pretty amazing to me that the value of a twenty-four hour span could hinge on unruly hair. How shallow is that? Well, I have to admit that some days have been ruined in my estimation by much more trivial matters. The Scriptures remind us that the Lord has a round of delights for his children on a daily basis. In the middle of the mournful Lamentations 3, Jeremiah does a U-turn with these words:

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."

The blessings of the Lord await us when we struggle out of bed, even before we steal a hesitant glance in the mirror or run a comb through our matted hair. Our grooming may be less than perfect in the short-term but it shouldn't matter. If hair issues can be detected at the crack of dawn, we should detect God's loving mercy as we embark on his mission for a day in the life. Good hair day or bad hair day; the Lord made them both. We have to rejoice about that.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Hair brings one's self-image into focus; it is vanity's proving ground. Hair is terribly personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices."
Shana Alexander

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ain't No Sunshine..

It's Betsy's birthday! Now a senior at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, Betsy remains one of my favorite students/teacher aides/people ever. Happy Birthday, Betsy! This is from November 1, 2010. 

My student teacher aide, missed school last Thursday and Friday on a visit to Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. With the assumption that she will most likely enroll at the NCAA Division III institution, Betsy plans to major in photography and play on the field hockey squad. (GO TIGERS!- I looked it up!) What's more, she returned to Texas with presents- a Wittenberg t-shirt and a Wittenberg tie! My wardrobe just improved dramatically. But the reason I am ecstatic has nothing to do with newly acquired Wittenberg gear: I get little done when Betsy is absent.

Over the past ten years, I have come to increasingly rely on my teacher aides. I have been blessed with excellent basketball aides, including Fallon, this year's student coach, but their domain is not academic. For the past five years, I've had multiple aides, including the same set (Chelsey and Hanna) for the past two consecutive years. This August, there was heavy competition for the services of these students so I only have one this year, the aforementioned Betsy. She is an incredible helper, unique in her own way as all the girls have been. (I'm a sexist- I only recruit girls for the positions as I think they generally work harder and tend to be more responsible.) Betsy is a great typist, perhaps the best of all my aides. She often types my blog entries as shown above. She also is incredibly creative, as evidenced by her choice of major. I asked her to re-do the classroom bulletin board today and she calculated her plan in a minute or so. She has organized the student drawn artwork on the wall and is helping Kellie Keese do touch ups on our mural depicting the life of Jesus. On the mundane level, Betsy is also good at running errands, recording scores in my paper grade book, and making me laugh every day. In Philippians 2, verse 20, Paul tells the church in Philippi that he has no one else like Timothy in his work. That's how I feel about Betsy. There are days when she makes the biggest difference in my life by her assistance in the forty-six minutes she spends in my room, giving me the chance to be effective in teaching the Word of God. This past Saturday morning, I spent several hours typing college letters of recommendation for a number of our seniors which will be mailed out to various universities in the coming weeks. But I'll give you a preview for one recommendation not yet penned: you just read the best one I could possibly write for Betsy.

Applicable quote of the day:
"She became so important to them that they wondered how they had ever managed without her in the past. And the longer she stayed with them the more indispensable she became, so indispensable in fact that their one fear was that she might some day move on."
Michael Ende

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Witnesses

After lifting this afternoon, I dropped by our WCS West Campus and watched our middle school football team play for roughly a quarter and a half. I'm pretty sure we didn't win- I left with time remaining and we were down three touchdowns- but not winning doesn't mean we lost. Our junior Wildcats were outmanned if that's the proper term for 6-7-8th grade boys. Let me put it in perspective. The school we played had fifteen- 15!- cheerleaders and we only have twelve young men on our squad. Only one sub. Everybody plays both ways on offense and defense and on punt teams....and kickoffs...and kickoff return. I should also mention the temperature was mid 90s and the humidity off the charts. Kenneth Okwuonu does a masterful job coaching these kids up. They fought tooth and nail against much bigger, and also well-coached kids, and held their own. Several of our players are in my 8th grade Bible class- I feel like I should give them some bonus points on the test we took today!

As usually happens, there was a favorite moment for me. Our high school team, which opens their season in three days, was practicing on the adjacent field on our facility. The Wildcats, led by new coach Mark Krimm, finished their workout and moved over to watch their little brothers compete. But they didn't just watch. They cheered. The encouraged. They moved on the sidelines as the ball spot shifted. There was a change in the atmosphere when the big kids showed up. That's how it should be at a school like ours. The big kids- they've been through these junior high battles and survived. The younger kids need to know.

We need to know that in life, too, even as adults. Others have made it. Others survived the same difficulties we encounter every day. Not just money matters or health issues or relationship problems- spiritual matters, too. One of the best known New Testament verses, Hebrews 12:1, phrases it in the context of a roster full of saints:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.....
We aren't alone- we're surrounded! And not just by the evil which rears its ugly head, but by the memory and example of heroes of faith and martyrs. We might seem outnumbered, like our football kids this afternoon, but we're not. In 2nd Kings 6:16, the prophet Elisha spoke the greatest scouting report ever to his servant who feared the surrounding Syrian army:
"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
In God's protection, we are never outnumbered no matter how it appears. I like those odds, even if we are an underdog to the untrained eyes of the world. The final score isn't final.

Applicable quote of the day:
"People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society."

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at