Friday, September 18, 2015

Reviewing Collaborative Marriage Skills ( Couple Communication I)

Collaborative Marriage Skills is a 143-page book Megan and I used in a small group several years ago. This fifth edition was published in 2007 and consists of five chapters:

1. Choosing Communication Styles
2. Identifying Issues
3. Using Your Awareness Wheel
4. Applying the Listening Cycle
5. Mapping Issues

The book contains many charts and diagrams and is organized well. Key words are often italicized, have bold red or black letters, or are part of a bulleted list. We used a version of the book that doesn't have Scripture; however, everyone in our group were Christians so we integrated the Good Book in our discussions.

Collaborative Marriage Skills is very practical and can be used by both Christian and non-Christian couples. You'll get the most out of the book by taking notes in it and reading and discussing the material with others. Although Collaborative Marriage Skills did not solve all of our marriage problemos, I recommend it if you desire to better resolve conflict and enjoy your spouse.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reviewing Stephen Altrogge's Game Day for the Glory of God: A Guide for Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes

With my increased role in coaching this past year, I decided to read Stephen Altrogge's Game Day For the Glory of God. Stephen Altrogge blogs at The Blazing Center, a blog I frequent from time to time, and is author of several books including Create and My Friend, My Hero, My Dad.

I enjoyed Game Day For the Glory of God more than Create (4.5/5 stars - 66 Amazon reviews), and I found it to be solid and making me smile at times, much like Altrogge's blog. Game Day For the Glory of God is 128 pages and is divided into the following seven chapters:

1. A Life for the Glory of God
2. The Source of All Talent
3. The Joy of Sports
4. Game Day Priorities
5. Winners and Losers
6. Parents, Children, and the Glory of God
7. Tying It All Together

The book was published in 2008 and Altrogge is from Pennsylvania so you may not recognize all of the sport references if you are young and from a country outside the States. Regardless of that, I recommend the book to any Christian who desires to have a biblical understanding of watching, playing, or coaching sports. Game Day For the Glory of God is a theological sound and enjoyable read that is sure to bless many coaches, athletes, and sports fans.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reviewing John Piper's The Dangerous Duty of Delight

John Piper's The Dangerous Duty of Delight is a condensed version of his classic, Desiring God (1986). Those who know me will not find it surprising that I highly recommend both books (I've read more than 15 of Chancellor Piper's books). The second edition of The Dangerous Duty of Delight was released in 2011 with the following subtitle: Daring to Make God Your Greatest Desire. I read the original edition (2001) which was released with this subtitle: The Glorified God and The Satisfied Soul. The 2001 edition consists of less than 100 pages that are divided into the following nine chapters:

Chapter 1: Treating Delight As Duty Is Controversial
Chapter 2: Glorify God by Enjoying Him Forever
Chapter 3: Affections Are Not Optional
Chapter 4: Pursuing Pleasure Undermines Pride and Self-Pity
Chapter 5: Pursue Your Joy in the Joy of the Beloved
Chapter 6: What Does It Mean for Worship?
Chapter 7: What Does It Mean for Marriage?
Chapter 8: What Does It Mean for Money?
Chapter 9: What Does It Mean for Missions?

In The Dangerous Duty of DelightPiper reminds us how all of us have a longing that can't be satisfied from coaching victories, praise from our colleagues, traveling to international locations, or even spending time with our loved ones. Our hearts are restless until we fulfill our duty to delight in the one true Object of human desire - God Almighty. If we fulfill this duty, our attitudes toward church services, our mates, homes, and very purpose in life can radically change.

If you're a Christian looking for a solid book that is easy to understand, check out The Dangerous Duty of Delight. If you're not a Christian but are open to reading a short book not short on Scripture, check out The Dangerous Duty of Delight. Outside of the Bible, no author has blessed me more than John Piper and perhaps he can do the same for you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy Patrick of Ireland Day IV

Tomorrow is March 17th so that means it's St. Patrick's Day. Like most Americans, I grew up not ever knowing who St. Patrick was and why we celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick. I just made sure I always wore something green on March 17th so I wouldn't get pinched. Odd. If you're interested in learning about this great man of God, click one of the links below or watch the short video. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Learning From the Irish by Chuck Colson (Breakpoint)

Patrick: Missionary to Ireland by George Grant (Ligonier Ministries)

Patrick of Ireland by Reid Monaghan

Remember St. Patrick by David Mathis (desiringGod)

St. Patrick Knew All About Human Trafficking by Clint Humfrey (National Post)

The Life and Mission of St. Patrick by the Crossway Staff

Who Was St. Patrick? by Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Three Adoptions? You're So Good, Wick."

"You're So Good, Wick." It's something I hear from time to time. Typically I'm told this when people find out I've adopted three children. Although I'm tempted to tell others that they're so right, that I'm really a nice guy, I usually tell them that I'm actually bad - downright wicked bad. If others knew all of the evil things I've thought of, said, and done, I would never want to show my face anywhere. Any good seen in me isn't me, that is the Spirit's work in me. He's good, and He's the one producing the good.

I've adopted three Chinese children not because I'm good, but because this is what I've been called to do. It's a beautiful calling that God has blessed me with tremendously. Although I taught at a children's home in Indiana and occasionally visited orphans in Korea before Megan and I got married, little did I know how much adoption would impact my life. Not all are called to adopt; however, all believers should be involved in adoption in some way or another. Some are called to visit orphanages, foster children, donate finances to adoption causes, intercede for orphans, and/or read adoption material. Believers should all be involved in adoption care to point to the Father who adopts us and to bring Him the glory.

If you're interested in learning more about adoption, below are some great links that can get you thinking how you help children who are without parents. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Psalm 82:7

Adoption Guide
Adoption Resources
Financing Your Adoption
Tianjin ICCO

My children - Grace Noel, Josiah Lee, and Rosalie

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reviewing Ella K. Lindvall's The Bible In Pictures For Toddlers

The Bible In Pictures For Toddlers contains 70 Bible stories (36 from the Old Testament) and is designed for children ages 1-4. Award-winning author Ella K. Lindvall certainly has the credentials to write such a book. She is a mother, has taught kindergarten and first grade, and has written other Bibles for children. There are many positives to the 144-page book. They include...

  • It's a small book that a toddler can hold.
  • It has a slighty padded cover.
  • A foreword and table of contents are included.
  • The colorful pictures are very kid-friendly and found on every page. Almost everyone is happy - even the monkeys during the flood.
  • The stories and their titles are short and use simple words (e.g., God Makes People, Ruth is Kind).
  • Every story has Bible references.
  • Many of the stories ask questions (e.g., Do you share?, Where is the lady?).
  • Difficult topics are gently addressed (e.g., sacrificing animals, disobedience, the destruction of a city, war, Satan).
  • It shows the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of Man.
There are several aspects of the book that some people may not like such as...

  • Only on one page do we see people of different ethnicities. Apparently Adam and Eve, Egyptians, angels, the children the Son of Man loves and the people He feeds are all white. I really do love white people (I'm married to one, and I'm half white); however, updated illustrations would make this book much better.
  • The author states that God no longer talks out loud to people.
  • Only three magi are shown.
  • John the Baptist is pouring water on the Son of Man's head during His baptism.
  • The Son of Man turns water into juice and not wine. Because I'm a little boy I'll take juice over wine any day, but let's not change what the Bible says.
  • The book ends with Acts 16:25-31. What about Romans to Revelation
  • There is no mention of Hell.
Despite what I've mentioned above, I have absolutely no problemo reading this book to my Chinese son. I believe The Bible In Pictures For Toddlers will bless us tremendously, and any theological differences or literary criticisms I have can be addressed as we discuss the contents of the book. 

to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. Romans 16:27

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reviewing Charles Spurgeon's All of Grace

Charles Spurgeon, the "Prince of Preachers," was a Reformed Baptist preacher who lived from 1834 to 1892. All of Grace was his best selling book and written just seven years before his death. Although the wording in the 20-chapter book is clearly not that of today's American, All of Grace is a gospel presentation that can be easily understood. Despite being a believer for nearly 14 years, it was good for me to be reminded of how I am not saved by my works, but by the Father's grace alone. I must preach the gospel to myself on a daily basis and Spurgeon helps with that. Spurgeon provides excellent illustrations, logic, stories, and Scripture in an effort to reach people for the Son of Man. I am thankful to have read this book and must do a better job of reading books that have stood the test of time. I wholeheartedly recommend this classic to both mature believers and inquisitive nonbelievers. Below are the chapter titles.

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

1. To You
2. What Are We At?
3. God Justifieth The Ungodly
4. "It Is God That Justifieth"
5. "Just and the Justifier"
6. Concerning Deliverance From Sinning
7. By Grace Through Faith
8. Faith
9. How May Faith Be Illustrated?
10. Why Are We Saved by Faith?
11. Alas! I Can Do Nothing!
12. The Increase of Faith
13. Regeneration and the Holy Spirit.
14. "My Redeemer Liveth"
15. Repentance Must Go with Forgiveness
16. How Repentance is Given
17. The Fear of Final Falling
18. Confirmation
19. Why Saints Persevere
20. Close

Reviewing R.C. Sproul's The Lightlings

I purchased The Lightlings through Amazon China, and it's the second book by R.C. Sproul that I've read to my children. In The Lightlings, Dr. Sproul tells us the biblical story of redemption in a way that is both enjoyable and deep. It's an allegorical tale where a grandfather tells his grandson about fairylike creatures who shine brightly. One day these creatures disobey their Creator and King which brings them into a great darkness and shows them their need for the Light. The story ends with the boy and his grandfather having a conversation.

The Lightlings consists of 30 pages with more than half of the pages being illustrations that are a mix of fantasy and realism. The last three pages consist of 13 questions with Bible references that children can be asked in an effort to help them better understand the story. Although the book is meant for elementary students, I believe many of my sixth grade students would enjoy hearing me read The Lightlings to them. It's a meaningful book, and I recommend it to anyone who desires to help young children better understand what life is all about.

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Reviewing R.C. Sproul's Can I Be Sure I'm Saved?

I thought I was saved when I was a teenager, and for about a decade I told others I was a believer when it just wasn't true. I was baptized at a small Southern Baptist church when I was 22, but it wasn't until I was 26 years old when I became a bona fide believer in the Risen One. I was confused about my salvation for many years, but the Father does not want us to be confused. The god of this age does. The Father wants us to be clear about whether we belong to Him and if we're going to Heaven when we pass away (or when His Son returns).

2 Peter 1:10 states, Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. Confidently knowing where you stand with the Son of Man and what He'll say on Judgment Day can be known right now. If you struggle with doubts concerning whether you truly know the Prince of Peace, whether you have eternal life, whether you'll be going to Heaven, I recommend reading R.C. Sproul's Can I Be Sure I'm Saved?In this 70-page booklet, R.C. Sproul once again provides solid teaching in logical fashion. Below are the titles of the five chapters and simple summaries.
  1. The Struggle for Assurance - What is assurance?
  2. Four Kinds of People - Two are saved and two are not
  3. False Assurance - What are the dangers?
  4. Gaining True Assurance - How can we get assurance of salvation?
  5. The Source of Full Assurance - Do you love Him?
Don't be confused about whether you're going to Heaven or Hell. If you are, spend an hour reading Sproul's Can I Be Sure I'm Saved? and hopefully you can have that peace that surpasses all understanding.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, John 1:12

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Story of the Wickersham Adoptions

For the most part, the post below was written 1.5 years ago by Megan.

Our Father has blessed us with three pretty cool kids, all brought to us by the miracle of adoption. Their stories are different, and yet through each story we see clearly our Father’s faithfulness and care. 

Our middle child, Grace Noel, was the first to join the Wickersham clan. In September of 2005 Grace was brought to her county’s orphanage as a newborn, and she lived in foster care until the day we traveled to Hubei Province to meet her. Grace was nine months when we first met her and seemed to have been well cared for by her foster family. She was developmentally on track, emotionally resilient, chubby, and alert. Although Grace was quite reserved in her first few days with us, by the end of our first week together she was already giggling and wrestling with me. In the following months she bonded quickly to us, and her transition seemed nearly seamless. Grace is now nine and in the 3rd grade. She is bright and creative, forever performing skits for her family to watch. She enjoys school and playing outside on her scooter or on rollerblades.

Our oldest daughter, Rosalie, was brought to the Tianjin orphanage when she was just two months old. Not long after, she underwent surgery to repair spinal meningocele. She spent most of her early years in foster care, and then in December of 2006 joined our family as our own foster daughter. She was four and a half. Because the circumstances of her arrival in our family were unusual, the legal process of the adoption itself was complex and lengthy. Dad truly moved mountains during this period of time, removing obstacles and granting us favor in the hearts and minds of those in positions of influence. He also graciously made a way for her to remain in our care for the entire duration of this process! In May of 2010, when Rose was eight years old, her adoption was completed. Finally, the law reflected what we had felt in our hearts and been experiencing as a family for years; she was our daughter. Rose is now 12 and one of my 6th grade students. She is fun-loving and hangs out with a diverse group of people. Rose especially enjoys sports and participates in soccer, volleyball, and basketball.

Our youngest child, Josiah Lee, joined our family in January of 2012. Josiah spent the first year of his life in an orphanage and was 14 months old when our family traveled to Henan Province to meet him. Although he was a bit out of sorts in our first hours together, it wasn’t long before he began to show his charm! In those early weeks we saw a boy ready to laugh, entertain, and make friends wherever he went.  He is truly a performer at heart, happiest when he has the attention of an adoring crowd, which he’s found in his two big sisters! He’s been with us for two years now, and it’s impossible to imagine life without him.

Our family has been shaped, blessed, and transformed by adoption. We have certainly been blessed and changed through the gift of our three children, as well as through the responsibility and joy of parenting. Our family has experienced the joy-filled side of adoption. However, it is the loss and pain inherent in each adoption story that has been the place of seeing the good news more clearly. As parents, we are thankful for the way that our children’s stories have caused us to enter into shades of loss and pain that we never experienced in our own childhoods. We are humbled at the way our Father has used us to be a part of His restoration and redemption. Through the gift of these three beautiful children, we have been given countless opportunities to reflect on earthly adoption and its parallels in the spiritual realm, as we are all – by his great mercy - adopted children in the family of God.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

2014 Indy Eleven Soccer Camp - Westfield/Grand Park