Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two Boys And Two Ladies

                                         (Miss America, Nina Davuluri)
We begin my classes each day by reviewing the material for our quiz/memory verse/test. I usually bring up several things in the news as we go though the class period. I inquired, 'Did you see the story about the security guard trying to trip students running on the field to celebrate a state soccer title here in Texas?' I mentioned a certain well-known child star who seems to be addicted to media attention a viewpoint seemingly cemented by recent public statements. During the course of my  five sections, I also brought in several other stories which centered around teenage boys, often an easy target as I remember the ineptitude of my middle school and high school thought processes. 

I first showed a clip from a CBS segment of On The Road. In it, a fifteen year old boy in Oklahoma, Christian Lunsford, apologizes and tries to pay back a recently widowed 78 year old lady who was mugged by the boy's dad AT THE CEMETERY WHILE SHE VISITED THE GRAVE OF HER RECENTLY DECEASED HUSBAND. The father, absent from the boy's life but not from jail, had recently given Christian $250 for a much anticipated school band trip. Believing it might have come from the victim, Christian returned the cash to the woman in an arranged meeting in a church parking lot; he was hugged and consoled in return by the very nice forgiving and understanding lady. I thought the best thing that came out of it was the teenager's statement that he did not have to end up like his father, to which I would add that he is on the right path.  I also brought up a news story you might have seen about the high school boy suspended from school for asking a young lady to his prom. Of course, there's more to it than that. The 'girl' was Miss America Nina Davuluri, the first Miss America of Indian descent, who was speaking last Thursday at the Pennsylvania high school of the young man, senior Patrick Farves.  Apparently, the administrators got wind of the scheme and warned him not to do it but as you now know, young Mr. Farves approached her on stage and offered her a flower along with his invitation. Ms. Davuluri declined citing previous commitments but has asked officials to show lenience to her would-be suitor. No word that I am aware of  if her pleas will be heeded. 

After we watched the clip and discussed the prom proposal, I was intrigued by the reaction of the girls in my classes. Many were obviously touched by the film clip, of the boy who is being raised without a father and yet who was trying to provide a measure of restitution for the sins of  the dad. At the end, the widow gave the money back to the boy so he could go on his band trip after all and there were audible 'aaaawwwsss!!!' from the fairer gender portion of my rosters. And after a very short discussion of the ill-fated prom invite, the girls were united in their admiration for Patrick Farves' attempt to win a date with the stunning Miss America. What if  it was a billion or higher to one shot? He took his shot, weighing the risk versus the reward and apparently found the odds in his favor. The young ladies, upon my prodding, wished more boys had that kind of guts which I could have told them is wishful thinking! (Full disclosure requires me to state that I also was very critical of a well-known columnist who tweeted that Patrick's action was tantamount to, and I quote, 'sexual harassment.') 

I've used three paragraphs tonight to make this point. Our quiz today was over Luke 19:1-27 which includes the story of Zacchaeus as well as the Parable of the Minas, the parallel teaching of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. In each case, one of the servants was punished for not taking any risk at all and burying what was entrusted to him. That's what I think the girls saw in these two young men- guys not afraid to go out on a limb. One boy risked embarrassment by acknowledging in person the damage done to a helpless soul by his father. The other risked punishment for a shot at glory with a lady he had absolutely no chance with. (Let me also state here as a teacher I believe Patrick deserves punishment as he willingly disobeyed the school authorities but even I smiled a little bit at his audacity.) Two boys who were absolute unknowns until their actions separated them from many of their contemporaries....... and my girls noticed. That might be a clue for the males in the audience. Risk and reward; there's a correlation to life in there somewhere.

To watch the story of Christian Lunsford from On The Road, click or copy/paste this link!
http://www.wimp.com/boyrepays/ 


Applicable quote of the day:
Boys are beyond the range of anybody's sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years.

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

By The Numbers


Last Spring, I gave in and purchased a cell phone. It really had more to do with my Internet provider and not using my land line much as well as, and this is the big one, saving money! For over six years, I had a pre-paid cell phone that some anonymous benefactor gave me when Dad had a stroke and I never lost it, a victory in itself. The following, from May 31, 2007, is about my reliance on calling cards for log distance service.

My Dollar General phone card ran out last night. Well, it's down to a minute or two so it's effectively dead. If you want the remaining moments, dial 1-800-808-2816 and punch in the PIN number, 0871 723 1450 and the number you wish to dial. It's on me! I don't have a long distance provider and I try to call my folks every night. These cards have 725 minutes on them which last about two months. This evening, I broke in a new one. The easy part is taking a penny and scratching to reveal the pin number. For the first week or so, I keep the card with me when I call but then the inevitable happens. Without realizing it, I've memorized the sequence and I no longer need to peek. Before much longer, I can punch in the numbers without even thinking and can discard the card totally. Then, in about six weeks, the process repeats itself.

My prayer life resembles my involvement with calling cards. At times, the lists of those I pray for on a constant basis becomes an exercise in rote memorization. Even the names on written down prayer lists come to mind before my eye picks them up. I pray for the girls who played basketball for me over the years every day and the only way to do that is with a pattern. But I worry that I say the names without really thinking about them. Have you ever prayed for someone for an extended period of time and when they pass away, you still prayed for them out of force of habit? It's happened to me on numerous occasions. I don't want to throw my lists away because there is no one I consciously want to stop praying for. Sometimes, a crisis is good for our communication with the Lord because it forces us- at least me- to really focus on our pleadings and praise. Maybe, like my phone cards, I need to reorganize my prayer life every several months to keep it from going stale. Maybe I should pray in a different location or with a different posture or perhaps use a different order or at a different time. My understanding is that my idiosyncrasies are not that important to the One on the other end. I don't have to budget minutes with him....and I never forget the number.


Applicable quote of the day:
"What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can't re-read a phone call."
Liz Carpenter

God bless,

Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Who Are You?


Because my fitness club was closed today due to Easter, I walked and ran into Mark who I chronicled eight years ago. Mark is very old and feeble now and he still has the same tiny dog who he told me is ten. If you watch television at all, you probably would recognize Who Are You?, a 1960's hit for the rock band The Who. The reason you would recognize it might be that it's the theme song for the hit series, CSI. In my classes, we discuss how people questioned who John the Baptist was and subsequesntly, would question the identity of Jesus as well. The following is from October 16, 2006.

I've run into him on a continual basis for years. Mark, a gentleman in his eighties, lives in the neighborhood adjacent to my apartment complex and I often see him when I get my exercise. He is British, runs his own business from his home, and takes his dog out for a walk in the late afternoon. Our times often coincide and we spend several minutes talking. He tells me of his days in England as a soccer and track and field coach. Mark gardens and gives me his opinion of current events in the sporting world. I enjoy his European perspective on life and marvel at his knowledge of the world. I hope to be in as good of shape as he is should I reach my eighth decade.

I ran into Mark this afternoon this afternoon at Wal-Mart. Normally, I grocery shop on Friday but tomorrow I will be headed to the airport to pick up my brother, Dave, who is flying to Houston to put on a tennis clinic at Westbury Christian School. Coming out of an aisle, our carts nearly collided. I greeted Mark and immediately was positive he didn't know who I was. Steering the conversation, I mentioned something about walking and then he made the connection. Mark said he didn't recognize me based on the way I was dressed. Normally when he sees me, I am wearing shorts, a T-shirt, and running shoes. Today, coming straight from school, I was outfitted in a long sleeve oxford shirt, tie, khaki pants, and dress shoes. He wasn't expecting me and I looked different. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sometimes, I ask my eighth grade students if the person they will marry could be sitting in the classroom with them. They all seem incredulous. It couldn't be anybody in here.....or could it? They can't visualize the person they now find repulsive or at least barely tolerable as someone they could ever find attractive. Jesus walked among his people and they did not recognize him. Maybe he was dressed wrong or had an unpleasant appearance or speaking voice but they walked right past him without a hint of recognition. They were looking for him, all right, but they kept misidentifying others, like John the Baptist. There was a country song from the eighties with this line in the chorus:
"I overlooked an orchid while searching for a rose." We look past blessings, opportunities, maybe even angels, while diligently seeking something else. I am pretty sure I look about the same in teaching clothes as I do in workout clothes but Mark didn't see it that way. Maybe the Lord thinks it's the same with chances to do good that he presents in the middle of the path on which I'm walking. I just don't recognize the packages they come boxed in.

Applicable quote of the day:

"Integrity simply means not violating one's own identity."
Erich Fromm


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1
www.hawleybooks.com

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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