Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Six Most Popular Facebook Pictures From 2016

Below are my most popular Facebook (via Instagram) pictures taken during 2016. Five of them include a little guy named Josiah Lee, and three of them were taken at birthday celebrations. All of them include smiles. Enjoy.

After living in China for a few years (19 for Megan & 13 for me), we moved back to Indiana - this time with three kids.

I ran into one of my former sixth graders at my birthday celebration at the Frankfort Great China Buffet. He grew.

Our last visit to the Great Wall of China (near Beijing)

Megan took this fun birthday pic when Josiah Lee turned the big five.

Rosalie turned 14 this summer, & Grandma Downs made a special birthday cheesecake that was super yummy!

There were many tears during the season, but Josiah Lee enjoyed being a Red Shark this day.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Six Most Popular Posts From 2016

Last year I blogged about my 15 most popular posts from 2015. This year I'll only be sharing my 6 most popular posts from 2016 since I posted far less this year than in past years. You could say it was kind of a busy year for the Wickershams. Although I blogged less this year, "Wick I Am" received quite a bit more traffic in 2016 compared to past years. I would like to think it's because my writing has captivated millions of readers, but I'm thinking it has more to do with the big move. That's okay. If the blog has blessed you in even the tiniest of ways, I'm happy. Happy New Year!

6. 13 Ways How I Became More Asian in the Last 13+ Years
5. Reviewing Eric Liddell's The Disciplines of Christian Life
4. My Hobby of Writing Amazon Reviews
3. 10 Cool Facts About Tianjin, China
2. "Name That Chip!": Spring Edition
1. Moving From Tianjin to Evansville

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Wick's 2016 Highlights

2016 was a year of major changes. Some of the changes were challenging, but they were also good. Read below. Here are past Wickersham highlights: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, & 2015.

January - I preach my last sermon at Tianjin International Fellowship: Psalm 8. Praise, worship, and bring glory to God.

February - After a 13 year break, I return to coaching a high school girl's soccer team. Go Lady Eagles!

March - We visit Grace Noel's orphanage in Hubei Province and meet her foster mother. It's hard to believe it has been ten years.

April - We accidentally leave Rosalie's $3600 French horn in a taxi, but it's returned to us a few days later. We're thankful for the police and our Chinese friends. Why are French horns so crazy expensive?!

May - I accept a new position as a 6th-9th grade assistant principal at Evansville Christian School (ECS). God is good.

June - We leave Tianjin and move to Newburgh, Indiana. I start driving a 1997 Plymouth minivan.

July - We drive to Florida and attend a family wedding. It's great to catch up with those we haven't seen in a long time.

August - Rosalie tries a new sport, cross country, Grace Noel makes the 5th-6th grade soccer team at ECS, and Josiah Lee joins Newburgh Youth Soccer as a Red Shark.

September - Megan and I speak about our Tianjin lives to a group of Chinese at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. It's good for us to be able to connect with Chinese in the Evansville community.

October - The University of Southern Indiana (USI) hires Megan as an ESL instructor. Go Screaming Eagles!

November - I start coaching soccer players at the Metro Sports Center and decide to start playing on a team. The knees aren't the same, but I can still kick a ball.

December - Megan gets hired as an ESL instructor at Vincennes University. We owe a few people a debt of gratitude.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Reviewing Kevin DeYoung's The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a 32-page booklet by Kevin DeYoung, pastor of a reformed church in Michigan. It was published by The Gospel Coalition almost six years ago, and I believe it's one of 14 booklets produced by this broadly reformed network of churches that champions the gospel. I've read a couple of Pastor DeYoung's books, and once again I did not come away disappointed. The Holy Spirit has just three chapters:

1. The Holy Spirit in All the Bible
2. Who is the Holy Spirit?
3. The Work of the Holy Spirit

The second chapter consists of three sections (see below) and is very short like the first chapter.
1. A person
2. God
3. Distinct from the Father and Son

The third chapter is the bulk of the book and is organized in the following fashion:
1. The Holy Spirit Convicts
2. The Holy Spirit Converts
3. The Holy Spirit Applies
4. The Holy Spirit Glorifies
5. The Holy Spirit Sanctifies
6. The Holy Spirit Equips
7. The Holy Spirit Promises

The book concludes with 21 endnotes and a description of The Gospel Coalition. If you're wanting a better understanding of this often forgotten member of the Trinity, check out Kevin DeYoung's The Holy Spirit. The book is filled with Scripture and Scripture references, and it can help us better understand the person and powerful work of the Helper that Jesus promised His followers.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26

Reviewing Paul Washer's Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church

Paul Washer's 55-page booklet, Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church, is a free Kindle download I picked up four years ago. It's actually a sermon he preached at a conference in Atlanta nearly a decade ago. Although I found the book to be a good read, I could see many Christians being offended by Washer's direct charges against the American church. Paul Washer was a missionary in Peru for ten years, and today he preaches passionately against false gospels. After a brief introduction, the Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church is organized in the following chapters:

1. A Denial of the Sufficiency of Scripture
2. An Ignorance of God
3. A Failure to Address Man's Malady
4. An Ignorance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
5. An Unbiblical Gospel Invitation
6. An Ignorance Regarding the Nature of the Church
7. A Lack of Compassionate Church Discipline
8. A Silence on Separation
9. A Replacement of the Scriptures Regarding the Family
10. Pastors Malnourished in the Word of God

The book concludes with a brief mention of Chapel Library Resources and 45 endnotes. The Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church will take maybe a little over an hour to read, and it's not for those who are looking for a positive message and a pat on the back. However, if you are seeking something with lots of Scripture and much to ponder, I recommend checking out the book.

Reviewing Trace Wilson's Uniquely Me

Since Josiah Lee was born with one hand, Megan saw the importance of purchasing Trace Wilson's Uniquely Me. Last year Uniquely Me was written by Trace Wilson, a marketing student who was born with only a left hand (Josiah Lee has a right hand). The story consists of 24 pages and is geared towards those who are four to eight years old. Words are found on just over half of the pages, and the book contains very colorful pictures from illustrator Ana Sebastian. The children in the story are different from one another although if you're looking for a book that contains kids from every ethnic group, you'll need to go elsewhere.

As far as the story itself, it is not the same as Different is Awesome, another children's book with a person who was born with only one hand. I like both books for different reasons. Something I like about Uniquely Me is how it's a story of a young child where Different is Awesome is focused on someone who appears to be in high school or college. Uniquely Me's story concerns a little boy who one day notices his friends have two hands. This starts him on a special journey to figure out why he wasn't born with two hands. Four wild animals help him come to understand that we are all uniquely made.

We're thankful for Trace Wilson and those who supported him in writing Uniquely Me. Uniquely Me is a great book for families with children with limb differences and would be a wonderful addition to any children's library. We're thankful Josiah Lee is growing up during a time and in a culture where he can be taught that there was no mistake in how he was created.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Three Resources That Have Impacted Me & Many Others

Although I wrote less Amazon reviews and blog posts this year, I did have the privilege to write for a few publications that produce a significant amount of exceptional content. These sites include ASCD, ChinaSource, and Master Teaching.

ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is a nonprofit organization that supports the global community of educators dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. It comprises of 125,000 superintendents, principals, teachers, and education advocates from 140 countries.

Do you want a window into Christianity in China and the key issues that impact the Church? Then you want to check out ChinaSource. It is a reliable resource connecting Christians with important information for working with and contributing to the Chinese church and community.

Nurturing the development of education in Asia is Master Teaching, sponsored by LEAPAsia. Their purpose is "to begin a crescendo of praise for Yahweh starting with what the authors write and growing into classrooms around the world."

I'm thankful for the work these organizations are doing and encourage you to spend time at their sites. If you would like to receive ASCD's free e-newsletter twice a month, click here. You can also provide financial support to the publications and projects of ChinaSource and LEAPAsia.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ten Things I'm Thankful for in 2016

Although the Thanksgiving holiday is over, being thankful shouldn't be. Below are ten things I'm thankful for this year. What are you thankful for?

1. I have extremely fulfilling jobs at Evansville Christian School and the Metro Sports CenterNearly 8 million Americans are unemployed.

2. I have a beautiful rental home in the small town of NewburghOver 500,000 Americans are homeless.

3. I have new friends in our Southern Indiana community. Loneliness can be a serious health issue.

4. I have a wonderful family that supports and loves me despite my countless flaws. There are approximately 150 million orphans in the world.

5. I have good insurance to help pay for crowns, physicals, and shots. Nearly 30 million nonelderly Americans lack insurance.

6. I have a healthy body which enables me to lift weights and play indoor soccer. Every year diarrhea kills 760,000 children under the age of five.

7. I have unrestricted Internet access that allows me to stay connected with family and friends around the world. 1/3 of Internet users worldwide face heavy Internet censorship.

8. I have a fantastic education that provides me unique speaking, writing, training, and employment opportunities. 32 million American adults are considered functionally illiterate (1 in 7).

9. I have serious sin issues that show me my many weaknesses and how much I need Jesus. Less than half of all American adults think the Bible contains everything a person needs to live a meaningful life.

10. I have the love of the Father Almighty who graciously gives me purpose and everlasting life. Do you know His love?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reviewing C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1898, Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis wrote more than 30 books, several of which are classics of children's fantasy literature and Christian apologetics. You'll find C.S. Lewis on the lists of greatest 20th century writers, and rarely will you not find Mere Christianity at or near the top of the most influential Christian book lists. I read the theological classic as part of a book study soon after moving to China back in 2003. Mere Christianity is less than 200 pages and is divided into four books:

1. Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe (five chapters focused on the law of human nature)
2. What Christians Believe (1942 - five chapters that include rival conceptions of God)
3. Christian Behaviour (1943 - twelve chapters covering topics such as marriage, forgiveness, hope, and faith)
4. Beyond Personality: Or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity (1944 - eleven chapters comprising of time, the cost of following Christ, and more)

The books were originally given as a series of BBC radio broadcasts during World War II in which C.S. Lewis provides much-needed answers to complex questions for both believers and nonbelievers. If you have any interest in learning about the fundamentals of the Christian worldview, it is explained in a sensible and logical manner in Mere Christianity. Some, such as the late Chuck Colson, have stated the book was instrumental in helping them know Christ. If you have an interest in apologetics or you consider yourself to be an intelligent skeptic, I recommend checking out Lewis' Mere Christianity. It is a significant piece of work that has impacted many.

For a more in depth look at Mere Christianity, check out this outline provided by the C.S. Lewis Society of California.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Reviewing Eric Liddell's The Disciplines of the Christian Life

Nearly seven years ago I read an outstanding biography about Eric Liddell, the Olympic gold medalist whose life story inspired the 1981 "Best Picture," Chariots of Fire. I found Liddell's story to be of great interest since he served in my former home of Tianjin, China during the first half of the 20th century. When christianaudio made The Disciplines of the Christian Life available for free four years ago, I quickly downloaded it. I started listening to the book this year as part of my morning devotions, and it took no time to complete it.

Eric Liddell wrote The Disciplines of the Christian Life to help Christians grow in Christ through daily Bible study and prayer. Below you'll find the foundational topics showing that Liddell starts with discipleship. He gives a Bible reading plan with a recommended reading for each day of the year with the readings organized into 12 chapters for each month of the year. Knowledge is not just given, but practical ways to live to God's glory. The Disciplines of the Christian Life is simple and straightforward, but should stir up some emotion. Prior to hearing Liddell's thoughts, Herbert S. Long provides us information concerning how the book came about.

A Word by Herbert S. Long 15:30
Preface 30:56

Part Two: A Year of Discipleship:

  1. January: God the Nature of God 8:40
  2. February: The Life of Jesus 5:55
  3. March: The Life of Jesus Continued: The Cross 10:40
  4. April: God's Moral Law - The Law and Sin 9:56 
  5. May: The Character of Jesus - Jesus Our Example 7:56
  6. June: The Kingdom of God - The Kingdom of Heaven 9:15
  7. July: God is Love 9:40
  8. August: The Life of Paul - The Act of the Apostles 5:54
  9. September: The Epistle to the the Romans - Paul's Gospel - The Face of Christ, A Face for the World 11:25
  10. October: The Holy Spirit 10:12
  11. November: Victory, Victory Over Temptation 9:07
  12. December: The Fellowship, The Church 8:17

Part Three: The Disciple and the Church 2:21

  • Baptism - The Symbol 4:00 
  • The Communion of the Lord's Supper 11:58
  • The Three Great Festivals of the Church - Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving 6:29

If you're wanting to hear from a servant of strong convictions who ran for Jesus, I recommend The Disciplines of the Christian Life. The paperback is only 160 pages should you choose to read it.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Reviewing Jonathan Edwards' Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

275 years ago Jonathan Edwards preached what many consider to be the greatest sermon ever preached by a sinning saint. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God was preached to a Connecticut congregation during the summer of 1741, and it uses somber language that is often not found in today's sermons. Words like devouring flames, pit of Hell, sentence of condemnation, vessels of wrath, extreme torments, angry God, and infinite misery are used. I'm guessing these words aren't amongst your favorite, but Jesus used them and the Spirit guided Jonathan Edwards to preach them calmly so that lives were transformed.

Jonathan Edwards starts the sermon with four points regarding the suffering to which the Israelites faced. Then Edwards states ten points showing how only God's sovereign joy keeps people from perishing. The third and final part of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God uses Scripture to prove his points and plead with those listening to trust in the only One who can save them.

It's a shame that many are afraid to discuss what Jesus saves us from and are critical of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. I'm thankful that Jonathan Edwards, a former president of Princeton University, boldly preached what truly is a message of love and hope. The detailed descriptions of man's sinful state and the misery of Hell helped bring spiritual awakening to the lost. If you desire to better understand what it means to be a true follower and know His forgiveness, I recommend reading this important piece of the Great Awakening. If you're interested in reading more classic sermons by Jonathan Edwards and other great theologians, click here.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Moving From Tianjin to Evansville

In a few weeks our lives will radically change. The Wickershams will be leaving the Middle Kingdom and moving to Southern Indiana. I've accepted a great position as the middle school assistant principal at Evansville Christian School. We are sad that we're having to say goodbye to the TIS community, but we know this is only temporary for those who believe.

Why the move? We feel led to be closer to our Hoosier family members and desire for our children to better understand where their parents once lived. We're unsure when we'll come back to the country I've called home for 13 years (19 for Megan), but we are confident we have not seen the last of China. China is a part of us, and we have eternity to make some trips back.

Below are three ways you can lift us up during this time of transition.

1. We're lookin' to rent an affordable home near where I'll work.
2. We want to find a gospel-centered church where we can connect with people.
3. Pray that Megan and the kiddos make a friend or two and feel a sense of community.

Xie xie.

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established Proverbs 16:3

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Name That Chip!": Spring Edition

In the latest edition of "Name That Chip!", we tried three unique flavas: Cucumber, Lime, and Finger Licking Braised Pork. I've seen these flavors for some time, but I never really had the urge to try them. Below is what world famous food critics Rose and Grace thought about the chips.

Cucumber: They are sort of plain. I personally don’t like them.
Lime: They taste kind of like a lemon, but salty and good.
Finger Licking Braised Pork: They are very salty and personally my favorite between the three chips.

Cucumber: I thought they were okay. They are definitely better than the yogurt flavored chips we had back in December. Three stars.
Lime: These chips were just okay too. They were limey so I didn't like them too much. Two stars.
Finger Licking Braised Pork: They were delicious!!!!! I give them 5 stars. They taste like any other kind of meat flavor. Delicious!!!!!

So there you have it. It sounds like fruit and veggie flavored chips can't compete with meat flavored chips. I have to agree.