Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Hands Life Deals Us (Dave Hawley)

My entry tonight is by my older brother, Dave, who is perhaps the winningest US high school tennis coach ....and a very good brother! Keep me in prayer as I leave Vietnam tomorrow! THANKS!


The picture above is maybe my favorite picture of my three kids of all we ever took, for a variety of reasons but maybe the biggest is I got the sense that not only had they grown up, but that they were doing OK and especially that they liked each other... VICTORY!!!!

But the picture, taken during Ben's senior football season, captured life as it was, without the future intruding . Zach's wife Haley is not pictured here, but they were in their first year of blissful matrimony . Meagan was in her senior year at OC, and Ben was probably already looking to the future. None of them could have known what lay ahead... Zach and Haley would suffer a painful loss of a precious daughter Harper at 10 months, and subsequently adopt two angel boys who have come to fit our family fabric so well. Meag could not have known the extent to which Zambia would capture her heart, with her move there, with its enormous joys and painful heartaches. And Ben did not know that Courtney was in his future, a future that so far has included two precious little children and a wonderful partner, just as Haley is to Zach.

I guess my point is this... We have no way of accurately knowing the twists and turns that life's roads take , or the hands we are dealt. What we can know is that a life spent following Jesus gives us strength to combat all that comes our way, and that all of earth's trials and triumphs are under the watchful eye of a God who loves us and cares for us.

God bless you all !


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moving and Being Ready (Mike White)

Tonight's entry is by my long time friend and co-worker, Mike White. Mike is our current WCS interim Head of School and his lovely wife, Jennifer, is our Elementary Administrator. Please keep praying for me in Vietnam!


Jennifer and I sold the only house in which my kids have lived. During the packing process I realized that in almost 13 years we lived there, we accumulated a bunch of stuff. It’s amazing that we went through things we haven’t touched in years. Even after donating items and throwing things away that were no good, we still had a bunch of stuff. On the day of the move, we were able to get most of our belongings on the U-Haul in one load. This was due to the careful planning of my Westbury Christian School colleagues, Josh Bailey and Mark Krimm. I would be in error if I did not mention that Westbury Christian School is blessed to have these men and students like Gino and Marcos who helped. We even had a parent from Westbury Christian School, John Swasey help us. We are blessed beyond measure!


After we unloaded all that we fit on the truck, I had to return to our previous home in order to pick up a load of little things. It was during this time that I had a great realization. You are never fully prepared to move. Jennifer spent countless hours packing things into boxes. Yet, there were still little things that we were throwing in to boxes. At the last minute, I had to complete a few little tasks that I had forgotten.


In Matthew 25, Jesus shared a parable with his disciples concerning His return.  We call it the Parable of the Ten Virgins. You may know the story. There were 10 virgins who were awaiting the bridegroom’s arrival. Out of the 10, only 5 had enough oil for their lamps. The remaining 5 missed their opportunity to enter the wedding banquet because they had to go buy more oil. Just like the wise virgins who brought enough oil, we have to be ready for Jesus. Our lives could be taken or Jesus could return at any moment. Thankfully, our readiness is much less complicated than moving. I do not need to have all of my possessions in boxes. I very simply need to be living in Christ. I need to have been baptized and have my sins washed away and to be living my life according to the Holy Spirit which lives in me. I am thankful to know that my eternal salvation has nothing to do with my ability to pack a moving truck. I only need to let my God take over my life. If you haven’t, I hope you will not delay. The bridegroom is ready for you! 

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Best Player (Joe WIdick)

Tonight's article is again penned by my dear friend, Joe Widick. Joe taught with me at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee and later became the high school administrator. I was blessed to teach his three children and even teach with one, Lane, here at WCS. Joe is married to the lovely Elaine and serves full time as an elder and minister with the Maple Hill Church of Christ. Continued prayers for me, please, in Vietnam!

As parents and grandparents we are probably all alike when it comes to watching our child or grandchild participate in some sporting event, band concert, choral performance or any other event that involves others.  We keep our eyes focused on the one that is most important to us.  They may or may not be the best player or performer but in our eyes they will always be the very best.  You have probably watched a sporting event on television and noticed how someone will score a touchdown or hit an impossible shot in a basketball game.  What do the cameras do, they many times will focus on how excited the mother / father of the athlete is.  Their child is by far the best player in the game.  Years ago our youngest son and daughter were in their high school chorus.  Each spring we would travel to various congregations to see them perform.  You know exactly who we focused on at each performance.  Regardless of how the performance went, we always tried to encourage them by telling them much we enjoyed the performance and that we would not have missed it for anything.  Why did we do this?  The answer is very obvious and simple—we loved them.  

I trust that each who spend a few moments reading this column realize how much God loves you.  We can quote John 3:16 and feel comfortable knowing of his great love.  Have you ever tried to get just a tiny glimpse of what God’s love means to us.  God loves each of His children many times more than we can love our own children.  And just like a father at a basketball game, God keeps His eye on us at all times.  I don’t look at His keeping an eye on us as means of His checking up on us.  I see it as observing, loving and encouraging us in life’s struggles.  It is a realization that He is there and that He cares.  We can draw comfort in knowing “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”  (I Peter 3:12).  With that in mind, I need to keep my eyes on the Lord also, because He is not going to take His eyes off of me.  When life seems to be frightening, when the opposition seems to be overwhelming, when it appears that you are losing, we can all remember that God is watching.  As he watches He in his loving compassion wants to help each of us.  Help us to keep our eyes focused on the prize.  He wants to encourage us to be able to finish the course successfully.  He wants us to lay aside each weight of sin that so easily keeps us from being all that we can be.  That is the encouragement that is needed daily as we journey through life.  I hope that each of us are truly thankful for all that God does for us, but especially for the fact that he watches us daily.  Not only is God watching us, we also learn from the Hebrew writer that there is a great cloud of witnesses that surround us and that they are there to encourage us to greater heights.   

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Outside My Box (Joe WIdick)

Tonight's article is again penned by my dear friend, Joe Widick. Joe taught with me at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee and later became the high school administrator. I was blessed to teach his three children and even teach with one, Lane, here at WCS. Joe is married to the lovely Elaine and serves full time as an elder and minister with the Maple Hill Church of Christ. Continued prayers for me, please, in Vietnam!

In the early 70’s I was asked (not sent) to go to the State Prison and teach a class.  It seems that because I was teaching teenagers in a school setting, they thought I would be OK with teaching hardened criminals in the State Prison.  For some reason, I said yes I will give it a try.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  I didn’t think if there would be dangers to deal with.  I failed to realize that Sunday came every week and every week I would be in the prison.  It didn’t dawn on me that I couldn’t pick up the phone and call mom or dad and tell them that their child was not behaving.  These were men who had murdered people, committed armed-robbery and other heinous crimes.  It was however one of the most rewarding works I have ever been involved with.  I stepped outside my box of comfort to help give hope to those who seemed to be hopeless.  The lesson that I learned helped to shape my life and to give me a different perspective on matters.  Most if not all the men in my class came from a terrible home life, my home was stable.  The men really didn’t know what love was and even though someone might have said “I love you” they really had no grasp of what that consisted of.  One of the things I tried to do during my tenure of teaching at the prison was to encourage the men to grow in their understanding of Jesus, and as they grew in that knowledge to make certain that they shared the good news of Jesus Christ with others.  I remember the first time I met James.  He looked younger than me.  He was facing 18 years in prison for armed robbery.  As we talked I asked why he had chosen to come to our class.  He told me that Charles had invited him to come and out of curiosity he came.  Charles was the oldest member of the class and had been in the prison since 1952.  He was not leaving, he had murdered his wife.  He was baptized at the prison and had taken very seriously his commitment to the Lord.  During the three years that I went to the prison, we had many who came because Charles took the time to invite them.  

Do you remember the command given to the people of Judah when they were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar?  The Lord told the people; “Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.  Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands...that you may be increased there, and not diminished”  Many times we face some limiting circumstances.  Whether it is the result of our failure, or through no fault of our own, we can “go” through it or seek God’s strength to “grow” through it.  The challenge of every confinement, whether in a prison system or set of circumstances that has built up barriers, we need to continue to increase rather than decrease; to grow and not diminish.  I am convinced that the Lord’s goal is to give us “a future and hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).  Maybe we all need to step outside our box of comfort or complaint and start trying to grow again.   

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Saturday, July 26, 2014

For the first time in forever! (Joe Widick)

Tonight our article is again penned by my dear friend, Joe Widick. Joe taught with me at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee and later became the high school administrator. I was blessed to teach his three children and even teach with one, Lane, here at WCS. Joe is married to the lovely Elaine and serves full time as an elder and minister with the Maple Hill Church of Christ. Keep me in prayers as I work in Vietnam!


Recently Elaine and I had the opportunity to keep our youngest granddaughter, Josie.  Whenever we have a grandchild spend time with us, we try to do something to make it a special time.  For Josie we went out and purchased her all-time favorite movie “Frozen.”  Seeing her eyes light up when we told her what we were going to watch was priceless.  We all settled down to watch the movie together.  She had already memorized the songs and sang along with all the characters.  It was a good evening.  The story was an interesting story to follow.  I will not go into any details (not wanting to spoil it for anyone else).  During the movie there is a song that caught my attention—”for the first time in forever” was the catch phrase that made me begin to think about a variety of things.  

Go back in time with me to the day you became a Christian.  Think about the moment when you were lifted out of a watery grave, cleansed, forgiven, a new birth.  My guess is it was a joyous day.  And from that point in time, “for the first time in forever” you walked away a Christian, one of God’s children.  You may disappoint God as one of his children but “for the first time in forever” you had the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others as a Christian.  Do you remember the day you “really” fell in love with the one you would spend a lifetime with?  “For the first time in forever,” you knew that he / she would always be your best friend.  That through good health and bad health, for richer or poorer life would never be the same for you.  Can your mind go back to the days that your children were brought into this world?  And “for the first time in forever” you were a parent with all its ups and downs, with all the laughter and tears that accompany being a parent.  

There are many more “first time in forever” moments that come along in the course of one’s life.  There is however one more moment that I would like to remind you of.  It is that day that you step into eternity.  At that point it seems that the “first time in forever” phrase takes on new meaning, an eternal meaning.  As I study God’s word and reflect on that day, I do not fathom all that will take place.  It is difficult to think of being in God’s presence.  I am not able to comprehend the complete and total joy of life unending in that beautiful place called heaven.  I cannot put my arms around the idea of being with the wonderful saints who have gone on before me.  I cannot imagine what it will be like to have no pain or sorrow anymore.  I am unable to grasp the sheer joy of not being tempted by the evil one anymore.  And then I began to realize that this will not end a week or a month.  It will continue to go on and on and the excitement rises in me because it will be the “first time in forever” that I will be with my God.   

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Brrrrrr! (Joe Widick)

Tonight's  article is again penned by my dear friend, Joe Widick. Joe taught with me at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee and later became the high school administrator. I was blessed to teach his three children and even teach with one, Lane, here at WCS. Joe is married to the lovely Elaine and serves full time as an elder and minister with the Maple Hill Church of Christ. Prayers, please, for me in Vietnam!

It is Tuesday morning as I set down to write this Journey.  The temperature is 20 degrees.  For a change, the sun is actually shining.  That however seems to be something that is going to be short lived.  The weatherman is calling for possible snow showers with accumulation to our south.  I am getting tired of the cold.  I function a lot better on the warm sunny days that I know will eventually come.  I am tired of putting on layers of clothes in order to go outside.  I am tired of scrapping the frost off my truck’s windows.  Did I say I am getting tired of the cold?   Because we live in Tennessee, it may be in the 50’s and sunny by the time you read this.  But today it is cold once again, and I am getting tired of the cold.  

I wonder what it will be like in eternity.  If we are blessed to hear the words of God say; “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of heaven,” will we grow weary of heaven.  I doubt very seriously that one would ever grow tired of being in the very presence of God.  I imagine that we will feel a joy beyond measure to praise our God forever and ever.  Wouldn’t it be grand to be able to talk to some of your Bible heroes and better understand what they endured to be blessed to be in heaven?  Personally I would like to seek out the apostle Paul and listen to him share the intimate details of the events on the road to Damascus.  

Unfortunately not all will be allowed into the joys of heaven.  For some will hear on that fateful day, “Depart from me…”  The heartbreak of hearing those words would be hard to describe.  Will one know and understand why they missed the joys of heaven?  Will souls long for a second chance to get it right?  Will there be eternal discussion about how one thought that God would never send me to this place.  I thought God was all about love.  Will those in hell try to do better with their eternal soul hoping against all hope that one day they too will be able to join the blessed in heaven?  Will one remember all the missed opportunities to do well and make a positive impact on people’s lives?    I believe that Hell is a real place, prepared for the devil and those who in life choose to follow his ways.  I believe that on the Day of Judgment there will be some surprises.  Surprises about who is sent to eternal punishment.  I believe being a Christian, a baptized believer does not give me a free pass to do as I please on this earth and then simply walk into heaven.  I believe in God’s grace and am thankful for it.  I also believe that I cannot continue to sin as a Christian so that His grace may abound.  

Did I say that I am tired of the cold?   I wonder after 10,000 years of eternity will one would say I am tired of this lake of fire and brimstone, or , I am weary of these souls that I am with, I want a change, I want to be with my God.   

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Aleve (Joe Widick)

Tonight's article is again penned by my dear friend, Joe Widick. Joe taught with me at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee and later became the high school administrator. I was blessed to teach his three children and even teach with one, Lane, here at WCS. Joe is married to the lovely Elaine and serves full time as an elder and minister with the Maple Hill Church of Christ. Keep me in your prayers as I serve in Vietnam!

On January 4, my sisters and I began a task that we knew was coming.  We began the process of going through our parent’s home sorting out what went to each of us.  Sometimes as we work through a room, we laugh at the things we find.  Other times we find ourselves crying.  It has not been an easy process for us.  When our parents left home, we let the home just as they left it.  It almost felt like they were on a trip and we could expect them to come walking through the door just anytime.  Among the things we discovered were several brown, dried up leaves.  They were in every room.  Daddy liked to pick flowers out of the yard for mother, and I thought this was just something else he wanted mother to have.  My younger sister told me that was not the case.  Mother’s knees hurt often and prevented her from getting up and doing many of the things she would have normally done.  On occasion she would ask daddy to bring her a couple of Aleve for the aches and pains she was experiencing.  Daddy would literally do anything for mother.  Unfortunately daddy had two strikes against hm.  One he could not hear what mother was saying so for him Aleve sounded much like a leaf.  His oncoming dementia was also causing him to struggle with what to do.  Mother would ask for the Aleve and he would go out in the yard and bring her a leaf.  Because she seemed to be upset that he brought her a leaf instead Aleve, he would go back out into the yard and get a different type of leaf for her.  

I wonder how many times you and I fail to hear what it is that God is saying to us.  I wonder if we don’t listen as carefully as we should when Tim brings a message from God’s word.  What about when one of the elders makes an announcement about an upcoming event, do we hear what is being said?  It has been said that we have two ears and one mouth; therefore we should do twice as much listening as speaking.  I don’t know how true that is, but I do believe we need to be good hearers of God’s word.  When Christ spoke to the seven churches of Asia, he concluded each discourse with the phrase; “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Imagine how much better we would be if we listened more carefully to the eternal words of life that are shared with us in our Bible.  There is one other thing to consider.  As important as hearing is, we also need to be busy doing.  The wise man and foolish man  story tell us that that is needed. Because one wants to be wise, they listen carefully to the instruction from God and then strive to put it into practice with our daily lives.   My father heard something and he went out immediately trying to do to the best of his ability what it was that needed to be done.  Are we hearing what God has to say to us?  Are we striving to carry out what God wants us to do?  Each of us needs to answer these questions.   

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

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com