Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nonstop on the Great Wall

I am going to have to try this the next time I am climbing the Great Wall. This guy b straight up sick!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rose's 5th Gotcha Day

Tomorrow we celebrate Rose's 5th Gotcha Day. On December 18th, 2006, Rose entered our family as a 4.5-year-old - six months after a nine-month-old Grace entered our family. We plan on celebrating Rose's special day by having a yummy meal at a "German" Churrasco that also serves lots of sushi and Chinese cuisine. You can't get that in Indiana! Below is a great Gotcha Day video that Megan put together three years ago.

learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Aren't We This Thankful Every Day?

Earlier this month World Magazine wrote an article about Gary Varvel, an Indianapolis Star cartoonist who happens to reside where I am from - Hendricks County, Indiana. Through cartooning, Gary is able to reach a wide U.S. audience with a Biblical worldview. Here is a powerful question from a Thanksgiving cartoon he drew last year.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving Messages 2011

This is a post from last year that I noticed was getting hits recently. A reposting is in order, but four new links have been added. Happy Thanksgiving.

Abraham Lincoln Offers Thanksgiving to God by Randy Alcorn (Eternal Perspective Ministries)

Why Thanksgiving Matters by Albert Mohler (Southern Seminary)

Happy Thanksgiving! by Ray Ortlund (Christ is Deeper Still)

Thanksgiving to the Glory of God by Jonathan Parnell (desiringGod)

A Prayer for Giving Thanks - HUGE Thanks by Scotty Smith (Heavenward)

Thanksgiving by R.C. Sproul (Ligonier Ministries)

My daughter Grace was very proud of the invitation she designed. Megan and I were able to attend a 
performance at the ECC where Grace was a pilgrim and sang a song with her classmates. We then got our grub on eatin' a mix of American, Korean, and Chinese food. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shai Linne: The Attributes of God

Hip-hop artist Shai Linne released a new album yesterday, and I dropped the Benjamins ($8 at Amazon) so I can get my flow on. You know it!

Rapping the Attributes of God by Matt Smethurst - Read an interview with Shai.

The Attributes of God by Tim Challies - Listen to this week's Connected Kingdom podcast.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Reformation Day!

Luther's 95 Theses - Read what German theologian Martin Luther posted on the church doors at Wittenburg on October 31, 1517. These 95 points were a protest against many practices in the Catholic Church and sparked the Protestant Reformation.

Free Download: The Barber Who Wanted to Pray - We listened to this 15-minute children's book today. It is by R.C. Sproul and based on Martin Luther's booklet, A Simple Way to Pray.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Autumn Chinese City Critters

These quite large and colorful spiders were throughout the woods at a campsite near
Beijing. How would you like waking up next to this thing?
I found this caterpillar crawling by my feet at a nearby park. This quiet neighborhood park has a new playground, exercise equipment, benches, flowers, and more. We are likin' it.
My girls were surprised to find out that grasshoppers can fly. This guy buzzed my head at the Shepherd's 
Field Children's Village in Langfang. I highly recommend checking out this orphanage and seeing the amazing work they're doing.
When this insect sensed that I was nearby, he stopped dead in his tracks. I gave him a gentle poke, 
and he spread out hismulticolored wings. Very cool. Anyone know what the names of these guys are?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reviewing David Elkind's Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk

It does not surprise me to see such a wide variety of opinions concerning David Elkind's book, Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk. Dr. Elkind, a professor at Tufts University and author of nearly 20 books, believes that too many of America's children are being taught material that is not age-appropriate. Dr. Elkind believes that many preschool children are taught information that should actually be taught to elementary students. He believes that many young children receiving structured instruction at an early age can be harmed psychologically and/or physically.

This 200+ page book is organized into four parts: Education and Miseducation (Chapter 1), The Social Dynamics of Miseducation (Chapters 2-4), The Risks of Miseducation (Chapters 5-7), and Healthy Education (Chapters 8-9). In Chapter one Dr. Elkind lays out his argument that early instruction teaches the wrong things at the wrong time. In Chapter two Dr. Elkind describes eight different kinds of parents and the mistakes they make. Chapter three covers what we have considered being the competent child over the last several decades. Chapter four is focused on computer education, and it is extremely dated (the book was published in 1987) and rather comical. Chapters 5-7 examines the first three stages of Erik Erickson's social development stages. In Chapter eight Dr. Elkind provides practical suggestions for making the right choices for the education of your child. The last chapter consists of 30 questions parents have asked Dr. Elkind that he answers.

So what is my take on the book? I started kindergarten at the age of four and was the youngest in my class. I am very thankful that my parents started me early in school, but that does not mean I did not have issues. I still have lots of issues, but don't we all? Our daughters have summer or fall birthdays, and we chose to start them in a school setting a year after many parents might have. Each parent needs to evaluate their child and see what is best for them. We and others believe our youngest daughter, a kindergartner, could find success in the current first-grade class, but we want our Grace to continue to be in an early childhood environment before she is pushed to complete homework and miss out on a lot of playtimes. There are definitely some advantages for delaying formal schooling; however, my wife did provide some formal instruction for Grace before she started attending school. Dr. Elkind is not a fan of this. I think it is important to examine each child and if they find formal learning to be a fun activity, why wouldn't you provide this?

If you don't have little tots runnin' around your house or school and never will, this book is probably not going to be of much interest to you. If you are a "tiger mom" you will probably hate this book with the passion of your tiger heart. Although we delayed the formal schooling of both of our daughters, I feel Dr. Elkind made some broad sweeping statements. There are definitely many parents out there pushing their kids to accomplish tasks that they are not ready for. There are also many parents out there not doing enough. There needs to be a balance as in many things in life. I think with nearly 25 years have passed since the last version of Miseducation, an update is in order.

Reviewing Gloria Ladson-Billings' The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children

This book was required reading for a Nature of the Learner course I took Columbia International University. In Dr. Ladson-Billings' second edition of The Dreamkeepers (2009), she revisits eight teachers who were interviewed and observed in the first edition (1994). 15 new teachers who are examples of great teaching are also introduced in the afterword. The stories of all of the teachers take place in predominantly African American school districts. The basic premise of the book is to show that culturally relevant teaching is a matter of teachers bringing out the different strengths of students in the classrooms. Each teacher that Dr. Ladson-Billings studied focused on three central things in their teaching - a strong focus on student learning, developing cultural competence, and cultivating a sociopolitical awareness in the students.

The Dreamkeepers consists of seven chapters and is 225 pages when including the two appendices (Dr. Ladson-Billings' methodology and the context of the study), 14 pages of notes, the index, and 21 study questions. I do not find The Dreamkeepers to be a riveting read, but that is a common theme in a number of my book reviews of this type. I do think this book is important for African American teachers and teachers of African American students and can certainly be of benefit for anyone in the teaching profession. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Lost from AsiaLink HistoryMaker on Vimeo.

Reviewing Gene Edwards' A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness

Gene Edwards dedicates A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness to brokenhearted Christians coming out of authoritarian groups, seeking solace, healing, and hope. Many Christian leaders have recommended this story that focuses on the lives of King Saul, King David, and David's son, Absalom. I was gifted with this 30-year-old book at the start of the school year, and every week or so the administrators I work with read and discuss approximately a dozen pages. This second edition contains less than 100 pages and is divided into two parts comprised of 27 chapters. Part one is about King Saul and David when he was a shepherd boy. In part two David is now king, and his son Absalom is attempting to overthrow him. The book also contains 17 discussion questions and two chapters from The Prisoner in the Third Cell (Edwards' story about John the Baptist).

Fiction is not my cup of tea, but I like how this book was based on biblical accounts. If you are a fundamentalist, you probably will not like the creative liberties Edwards takes in his writings. I did not have any problemo with Edwards' view on the lives of the men he wrote about, but I want to note that we should not walk away from reading this book thinking we should never go on the offensive. The main point Edwards wants to get across is that we should not throw spears at those who throw spears at us (Matthew 5:38-42). I agree, but there are times when we are called to take action. Yes, God is sovereign. He is the supreme ruler of the universe, and He is in total control of everything. However, God calls us to respond differently to different situations. We're not David, and we should look to the ultimate David, Jesus Christ. Jesus is both the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. When He displayed anger, He did so righteously. Our problem is that the overwhelming majority of the time when we get angry, we sin. Jesus had controlled anger when His Father was being dishonored. We usually get angry because someone says something rude to us, someone does not prepare the food we ordered in the way we like it, or hot water does not come out of the shower head for us. Through spiritual disciplines such as the reading of Scripture and prayer, we can receive the answers we need in order to know how to respond to the storms of life in a Christlike way.

So what is my final take on A Tale of Three Kings? I give the book a B-, but perhaps I would rate it higher if I was more of the poetic variety. :-)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reviewing David Strahan's Promoting Harmony: Young Adolescent Development & Classroom Practices

Promoting Harmony: Young Adolescent Development & Classroom Practices is another book that I read for an admin class I am taking through CIU. This third edition was published over two years ago by the Association for Middle Level Education (formerly known as the National Middle School Association). The 110-page book only has five chapters and is a quick read. Chapter titles include Moments of Harmony: Relationships as the Essence of Good Teaching, Intellectual and Emotional Development, Physical and Sexual Development, Social, Personal, and Moral Development, and Promoting Harmony in Middle Level Classrooms. Student interviews are found in the first four chapters, and I found them to be perhaps the best part of the book. A few small black and white pictures are sprinkled throughout the book. Although Promoting Harmony was not an exciting read, it did assist me in making a few improvements to a Sixth Grade Parent Night presentation that I make at the start of every school year. I do have to mention that I find the cover to be absolutely hilarious. The kids look like they belong in high school or even college. What up wit' dat?!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reviewing Eric Jensen's Teaching with the Brain in Mind

Eric Jensen is a former teacher and the author of more than two dozen books on learning and the brain. His Teaching with the Brain in Mind was published 13 years ago, but this second edition was revised and updated six years ago. The book is approximately 160 pages not including the glossary, references, and index. It consists of 12 chapters that provide a basic introduction to the anatomy of the brain and how to apply brain research in the classroom.

The basic message of Jensen's book is that we have a much greater ability to affect the learning of students than we realize. Some of the many topics covered in his book include how to prepare children for school, how to motivate students to participate, how to influence emotional states, how to design smarter schools, and how to enhance memory and critical thinking skills.

Teaching with the Brain in Mind was one of four books I was assigned for an Understanding the Learner class that I am taking through Columbia International University. I would not have chosen to read this book had it not been required reading, however, reading the book has definitely made me reflect on how I have instructed students and perhaps what I should have done differently. Today I would attempt to find ways to bring more kinesthetics and music into the classroom. I would also do a better job of inviting guest speakers and challenging the students to learn about and further serve the local community. I will need to promote these kind of activities amongst the teachers I work with. 

My final analysis: I think few would call Jensen's book a gripping read, but it is clear and will provide you some practical insights.  


Reviewing J. Mack Stiles' Marks of the Messenger

Marks of the Messenger was a book that I (and a few other administrators) passed out to the TIS faculty and staff this year. Prior to receiving this book, I was not familiar with J. Mack Stiles, but a few of the people endorsing his book are authors whose books and blogs I have benefited from greatly (D.A. Carson, Thabiti Anyabwille, and C.J. Mahaney).

Although I read more than the average person, I do not often read books in a short period of time. This was not the case with Stiles' book which I completed in less than a day. I found my introduction to Stiles, a man who has served in both the United States and UAE, to be quite enjoyable. I foresee that this will not be the last time I find myself reading his work. Perhaps I am slightly biased because Marks of the Messenger covers an all-important topic - knowing, living, and sharing the Good News. Unfortunately, this is a topic that is not always handled well. Stiles, on the other hand, delivers very solid cross-centered teaching.

Marks of the Messenger is less than 130 pages and consists of only ten chapters. Chapter titles include, "Does the Message We Share Look Like the Message We Bear?," "Worldly Love and its Fruit," and "A Manifesto for Healthy Evangelism." If you want to read about the Truth and how to be a better witness, I highly recommend Stiles' book.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

Reviewing Helmut Thiekicke's A Little Exercise For Young Theologians

I ordered A Little Exercise For Young Theologians from Amazon this summer for a theology class that I plan to take in the near future. I was not familiar with the author or the book prior to this summer.

Helmut Thielicke was a German Protestant preacher and professor who wrote A Little Exercise For Young Theologians nearly 50 years ago. The 50-page book consists of 13 short chapters with an introduction by Martin E. Marty, a prominent American Lutheran religious scholar. Thielicke wrote this book in an effort to inspire students, teachers, and preachers to theological excellence and to take responsibility within local communities. He was particularly concerned that those with a background in theology have an ability to effectively communicate with everyday people.

Every review I read of Thielicke's book states this book is a good or great read for both new and seasoned students of the Word. I wholeheartedly agree that it is of the utmost importance that no one becomes arrogant in their theological pursuits. We have far too many people who do not balance grace and truth as they grow in their knowledge of the Lord. However, I do feel that another translation from the publishers could reach more people. Most lay people will have difficulty with the language found in this book. Thielicke was not writing to today's American audience, and this challenge will very like turn many people away. Despite appearing to be a quick read, A Little Exercise For Young Theologians should be prayerfully read in a reflecting manner.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reviewing Paul and Elder's The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking-Concepts and Tools

This 20-page mini-book was assigned reading for a grad class I recently took at Columbia International University. The booklet serves as an introductory guide to the concepts and tools of critical thinking and is by no means an in-depth study of critical thinking. The mini-guide should be used to supplement other books related to the topic. Written by two critical thinking experts, this book can be used by professors and teachers to develop instructional activities, enhance teaching techniques, design creative classwork, and simply improve overall learning. The contents of the book briefly include the importance of critical thinking, the elements of thought, a checklist and criteria for evaluating reasoning, the problem with egocentric thinking, universal intellectual standards, a template for analyzing the logic of articles and textbooks and for problem-solving, essential intellectual traits, analyzing and assessing research, and the stages of critical thinking development. Several charts and diagrams are provided to help us better understand abstract ideas. Although the font is tiny, the content is well organized and easy to read. Bold numbers and letters are regularly used to highlight key information. This review pertains to the fourth edition which came out in 2006.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Some Recent Articles About Books IX

Crossway's Digital Bible Resources - Numerous online Bible tools are provided (many for free).

The Clarity of God's Word - By Faith, PCA's online magazine, has a conversation with Kathleen Nielson about her new book, Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word.

Youth Reads - Breakpoint has a new page focusing on Young Adult books. It's designed to help parents and educators find good books for preteens and teens to read as well as to provide a Christian perspective on Young Adult books.

Cherish the Book Publishers—You'll Miss Them When They're Gone by Eric Felten - "The e-book era promises us all the pleasure of wading through the slush pile ourselves, even as the pile grows exponentially."

Being a Historian and Reading Bonhoeffer by Michael A.G. Haykin - Is Eric Metaxas' biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer good history?

Scholar Defends New NIV Bible; Says Critics Have Been Unfair by Lillian Kwon - The updated NIV continues to receive many negative reviews.

House of Shelves by Gilbert Mohtes-Chan - Check out this ingenious piece of Japanese architecture that can hold ten tons of books!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Some Recent Articles About Books VIII

John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock by Travis Allen - This is a 240-page biography from Iain Murray that has received great reviews.

June Book Briefs by Kevin DeYoung - "Ah, summer sabbatical - more time to breathe and more time to read."

How to Write a Great Book Review (Or at Least How Not to Write a Bad One) by John Starke - Answer the question everyone is asking, show the consequences of an idea, ...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gospel-Centered Football

I am currently taking a course at Columbia International University called Biblical Foundations for Curriculum. I was particularly moved by a story about football and faith that Dr. Uecker read to us today. The event took place more than two and a half years ago but was news to me. Competitions like this need to be happening all the time. If your interested in learning more about prison ministry, I highly recommend checking out Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some Recent Articles About Books VII

The Leisure Reading Racial Gap by Mark Bauerlein - "These numbers confirm the rule that the more young people read on their own, voluntarily, the better they do in school."

Amazon Kindle Tips, Tricks, & Resources by Nathan W. Bingham - I still do not own one, but perhaps you do.

Gospel Pioneer to China by Tim Challies - Vance Christie's biography of Hudson Taylor receives a favorable review.

How to Survive the Age of Distraction by Johann Hari - "...we need dead trees to have fully living minds."

These are some varied resources that I am using this summer at CIU.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reviewing George Barna's Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions

I read Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should Be Your Church's #1 Priority for one of my summer classes at CIU. The 145-page book was written almost eight years ago by George Barna, founder of America's leading marketing research firm focused on faith and culture. He says that most American churches fail to see that a child's moral development is set before they reach the age of ten. Churches need to place more of an emphasis on ministering to children or the energies placed on youth ministry needs to be (more) gospel-centered. Churches need to work with parents and help equip them to teach children a biblical worldview.

Although I do not find Barna's book to be a gripping read, I do applaud his efforts to remind us the importance of teaching young people the ways of the Lord. Many statistics are found throughout the eight chapters; however, more Scripture to support his claims would make this book much more powerful. Almost no Bible verses are found in the first two chapters - The State of American Children and The Spiritual Health of Our Children. The latter chapters do improve in this area as well as providing us ideas to help us produce spiritually mature children.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6      

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad Life

Father's Day 2011

This morning the Holy Spirit brought Isaiah 64:8 to my mind, and I decided to share it with my family. This was a verse Megan and I memorized together when I lived in Korea almost ten years ago. It says, "But now, O LORD, you are our Father, we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." Later at the 10:45 service at FEPC we sang Stuart Townend's contemporary hymn, How Deep The Father's Love. I found it particularly moving on this Father's Day and wish more songs like this were written. Once again I was reminded how I am deserving of nothing but eternal punishment. How incredible it is that in our sovereign creator's mercy and grace, He adopted us into His family. I am so thankful to be able to teach this to my daughters. Our Father is good.

How Deep the Father's Love by Stuart Townend

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Hendricks County Historical Museum

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Daddy Dates #7: Fishin' in Prestwick - Avon, IN

Grace really enjoys fishin' with me. She has a little difficulty
takin' a fish off the hook, but she is not afraid to do the job.
Here is Rose with a bluegill she caught in a pond behind my parents' home.
I am not exactly sure of this guy's measurements, but he 
was at least 20 inches. He snapped my line just after
 I pulled him in. The girls had never seen a largemouth bass 
and were a little shocked, but I was a very happy camper.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Some Recent Articles About Books VI

Five Reasons Why E-Books Aren't There Yet by John C. Abell - E-Books cannot replicate everything about the print book culture.

Building an eBook Library on the Cheap by Tim Challies - Looking for a deal?

House Collapsing Under Weight of Rescued Books by Alison Flood - I think they have too many books.

Reviewing Michael A. Zigarelli's Cultivating Christian Character

I chose to read Cultivating Christian Character: How to Become the Person God Wants You to be and How to Help Others Do the Same for a summer class I will be taking at CIU. Dr. Zigarelli attempts to answer the timeless question, "How do I become more like Jesus Christ?" His approach is driven by his research based on the experiences of more than 5,000 Christians around the world, however, I believe he misses the mark immensely. I do believe that Dr. Zigarelli desires for others to become better people, but his methods for understanding how to achieve a lasting transformation are largely man-centered. You will not find much Scripture in this book, and this is where the key to cultivating Christian character and living a God-glorifying life is found. This is not a secret that needs to be uncovered. If we want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we need to read and study the Bible so we can understand how to rest in Christ's completed work on the cross. Yes, other spiritual disciplines like fasting, journaling, and serving others can certainly help us become more Christlike, but the renewing of our minds starts in the Good Book. Additionally, there is simply not enough of an emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit and on the glorious truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What you do find in Cultivating Christian Character are a lot of charts and graphs that try to dissect how to become what he calls a "high-virtue" Christian. The book concludes with notes, references, and a list of resources Dr. Zigarelli suggests for cultivating Christian character. Unfortunately, some of the resources have questionable theology. I am sure there are portions of this book that can help some people, but there are scores of resources available that can have a greater impact on your heart and mind. Perhaps you want to look into Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, and The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Although I do not agree with every theological stance these authors hold, these are books that Dr. Zigarelli recommends that I have benefited from.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Some Recent Articles About Books V

Finding Free Christian Kindle Books by Terry Enns - You don't have to own a Kindle to download these books.

Cambridge, Mass. Tops Amazon's List of 'Well-Read' Cities by Doug Gross, CNN - College towns dominate the top five.

It's The Last Dance by Donalyn Miller - Setting the stage for more reading.

Advice For Slow Readers by John Starke - Some good tips.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reviewing Tim Challies' The Next Story

When I initially heard about Tim Challies’ newest book, The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion, I had no desire to read it. That is saying something significant considering I am on his site almost every day. I found his first book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, to be an enjoyable and beneficial read, but a book focused on technology simply did not spark my interest. Interestingly enough, a colleague who did not know I was a fan of recommended The Next Story to me, and after receiving a free audiobook and hardback, I am thankful to have listened to and read Mr. Challies' latest work. The Next Story is far more than a book about technology. This is a book about using technology in a God-glorifying way and a history lesson of how we often have not done that.

Part one of The Next Story covers three chapters focusing on God's intended use of technology, the relationship between humans and technology, and a digital history. Part two covers six chapters and is more practical. The topics of communication, mediation/identity, distractions, information, truth/authority, visibility, and privacy are emphasized here. These are important topics that we should critically examine. We are constantly in front of screens sending emails, watching Youtube videos, blogging about life, uploading pictures, updating our Facebook statuses, surfing articles, and more, and this is having an impact on us. Mr. Challies addresses all of these topics in 200 pages (or nine hours of audio) with the use of Scripture. The Next Story contains much-needed counsel to help us to discipline our use of technology.

Reading The Next Story has made me really reevaluate not only how I use technology, but how I communicate and spend time with others. I serve as a principal at an international school where I am constantly checking and answering emails. I have had my head buried in my iPhone or MacBook Pro far too often, and this has unfortunately carried over to my home. The overwhelming majority of us probably need to visit fewer websites, not look at our inbox so often, and turn off all the dings and chimes on our smartphones. I have made some changes in my life in an effort to prevent technology from owning me, but more improvements will need to be made.

I plan on reading portions of The Next Story again this summer, but at a slower pace and sharing what I have learned with the administrators and teachers I work with. I also want the middle school students at TIS to not only use computers to access information on the Net and complete their assignments but to do so in a spiritually discerning way. The Next Story is a book that will help us in that quest. I have nothing but praise for this book. If endorsements mean anything to you, it should be noted that a number of prominent people including Bryan Chapell, President of Covenant Seminary, Michael Horton, Editor-in-Chief of Modern Reformation magazine, and Justin Taylor, Managing Editor of the ESV Study Bible, have only good words for The Next Story. I highly recommend checking it out.

Disclaimer: Zondervan sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. A positive review was not required.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some Recent Articles About Books IV

Where to Find the Best Prices for Books by Tim Challies - Perhaps we should not always be buying from Amazon.

The World's Most Inspiring Bookstores by Megan Cytron, Trazzler - Check out the pics in the slideshow. Europe has some stunning bookstores.

100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library by Jason Lankow, Ross Crooks, Joshua Ritchie, and Brett McKay - This article is three years old, but I just came across it today. I am not so sure about the list, but the website looks interesting.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reviewing John Piper's Jesus: The Only Way to God

Although I do not know John Piper, he has made a significant impact in my life. Pastor Piper is the author of more than forty books, and Jesus: The Only Way to God is one of over a dozen books of his I have read. It was published less than one year ago and can combat much of the junk that is printed today. The 123 pager is divided into seven chapters (plus an introduction, conclusion, and a Desiring God resource page) and completing it will take you about the same time it takes to watch a movie. If you believe in relativism (There is no absolute truth), universalism (All people will go to Heaven), or annihilationism (When a person dies, they no longer exists), prepare to be challenged. Jesus: The Only Way to God is solid theological teaching that makes no qualms about who Jesus is. Jesus is the Son of God who became sin for us. His work on the cross is what saves us. One must place their faith in Him or they will be eternally tormented in Hell when they pass from this world. Only Jesus gives us access to God. Only Jesus gives us eternal life in Heaven. We are to live for Him because He died for us. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reviewing R.C. Sproul's The Holiness of God

R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries, says that The Holiness of God is what he recommends first when people ask him what Ligonier book they should use to help them grow. Jerry Bridges, author of The Pursuit of Holiness, says, "Every Christian who is serious about his or her growth needs to read The Holiness of God." I say that I should have read (or listened to the nine-hour audiobook) The Holiness of God years ago. This 240-page work was first published by Tyndale House in 1985 and is considered a modern classic on the subject of God's holy character. You will find KJV, NKJV, NASB, and NIV Bible verses throughout the 11 chapters. Some of the chapter titles include The Holy Grail, The Insanity of Luther, God in the Hands of Angry Sinners, War and Peace with a Holy God, and Holy Justice. In these 11 chapters, Sproul gives us the proper perspective on God's awesome holiness. He reminds us that God is to be feared and revered and not treated simply as our buddy. Each chapter begins with a quote, and a few questions are provided at the end of each chapter. If you read Sproul's foundational piece, hopefully, you will develop a stronger hunger to be holy like God. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reviewing Greg Lucas' Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability, and The Lesson of Grace

I purchased Wrestling with an Angel as a Mother's Day gift from CruciformPress, but this short book (108 pages) would make an excellent Father's Day gift as well. Wrestling with an Angel is the grace-filled story of Greg (and Kim) Lucas and their oldest son Jake. Through Jake's serious disabilities, a radical heart transformation occurs in the young lives of Greg and Kim. The countless heart-wrenching challenges the Lucas family faced caring for Jake during the first 17 years of his life bring beautiful opportunities to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I found Wrestling with an Angel to be an inspiring read and one that I did not put down until it was completed. The ten chapters can be finished in no time, but they will cause you to spend more time reflecting on the amazing love of God and give you the desire to tell others about it. A Matthew Henry commentary of John 9:1-3 and two John Newton (the author of Amazing Grace) letters about endurance from suffering are provided on the last eight pages. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Reviewing Oswald Sanders' Spiritual Leadership

I was assigned to read Spiritual Leadership as part of one of my CIU summer classes, and I am so thankful that it was required reading. Outside of the Good Book, I do not recall a book speaking me to so much and causing me to reflect and share what I read. Had I read this book prior to this year, I believe I would simply think it is a good book. However, due to my position in life now, much of this book really provided me relevant insights and Godly wisdom that I was not ready to hear in years past.

Dr. John Oswald Sanders was an OMF (China Inland Mission) general director in the 1950's and 1960's and penned more than forty Christian living books. His book, Spiritual Leadership, receives high marks by some of today's great spiritual leaders like Chuck Colson and John MacArthur. The book was originally written in 1967, and I read the 1994 version that was updated by Moody Bible Institute. A newer version was printed four years ago which uses language that is less likely to confuse the younger generation. 750,000 copies of this 190 pager have sold over the years, and Bible verses (primarily NIV) are scattered throughout the 22 chapters. Each chapter begins with at least one Bible verse, and notes have been added to the text to identify the people whom Sanders cites.

Chapter topics include searching for leaders, insights on leadership from Paul and Peter, prayer, time, reading, improving leaders, responsibilities, tests, delegation, Nehemiah, and more. Study questions, an Index of Scripture, and an Index of Persons are found on the last 20+ pages. I found Chapter 15, The Cost of Leadership, to be the most meaningful chapter. Sanders tells us in this chapter that leaders will take up their cross and be lonely, tired, criticized, rejected, pressured, confused, and their family will also pay a price. Spiritual Leadership is not fun reading, but reading it points me to the cross. If you are in a position of leadership or if you think you might be one day, I highly recommend Sanders' Christian leadership classic. I will definitely be recommending it to others.

"Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long." Psalm 25:5

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Digital Era Publishing Infographic

Some Recent Articles About Books III

Crossway Impact - A gospel-centered rewards program for readers who want to invest their resources wisely.

Dramatic Non-Fiction by Andrew LePeau (InterVarsity Press) - What options do you have for holding your audience's attention?

E-book Sales Top Paperbacks for First Time by Julianne Pepitone (CNNMoney) - The publishing tide is shifting fast.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rose Gets Dunked: Easter 2011

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 6:3-4

A nearby hotel's swimming pool serves as a baptismal tub every Easter.
We took some pictures together prior to Rose's identification
with the Son of Man's death, burial, and resurrection.
After Rose shared a short testimony, I had the honor of performing Rose's baptism.
We are extremely thankful that Rose publicly proclaimed her trust in the Son of Man.
To God be the glory both now and forever.

Rose and others who were baptized stand in front of the TJIF congregation.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Getting A Grip On Your Emails

One thing that has drastically changed in my life this past year has been the volume of emails I am reading and writing every day. Back in October, I received an iPhone, and this has helped me read and respond to emails quicker. My current system of handling emails has been working for me, but I am always open to learning the email practices of others. Below are some links that might assist you if you receive a large number of emails on a daily basis.

Email Etiquette 101 by Michael Hyatt (Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Are You Suffocating From The Oxygen of the Internet? by Jeff Large (LifeWay)

How To Get Your Email Inbox To Zero Every Day by Matt Perman (Director of Strategy at Desiring God)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recent Tianjin Outings I

Megan is purchasing some veggies at a local market.
This gentleman made part of my dinner last Saturday - fried tofu. There are
lots of vendors selling food from their bikes near our apartment complex.

We are big fans of Uyghur food - naan (flat bread), roast mutton, & polo (pilaf)

This lady put a new pedal on the mountain bike that serves as my wheels.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Picking Up Dead Critters

Last week Rose came across this guy at our apartment complex. We live in a big city (23rd largest in the world according to so seeing the occasional fury little critter doesn't bother me. The problem was she was holding the guy with her sleeve. That be straight up nasty! Our girls are constantly wanting to pick up junk from the ground, but I never thought a shriveled up ratatouille would be one of them! What up wit' dat?!

A buddy of mine kicked the dead dude away from the area we were at.

Using Used Coffee Grounds

Recently I assembled an IKEA breakfast station that I purchased for Megan. It looks really nice and is quite handy, but it did not take long for the pine wood to attract some big ol 'ugly stains. That's when I got all clever. I remember surfin' the net and reading how you can use old coffee grounds as a stain. Check out the pics below. I'm thinkin' the station is lookin' pretty sweet if I don't say so myself.

Sad to say I broke the coffee pot as I was staining the wood. I'm smooth like that.
The new coffee machine was ordered through Amazon China. Very convenient.