Friday, January 28, 2011

Do We Respond Humbly To Criticism?

Although the three links I provided are geared for pastors, all us can definitely benefit from what was written.

Not Radical Individualism - A Reply to Dr. John MacArthur by Darrin Patrick - Pastor Patrick responds humbly to Pastor MacArthur's critique of his book.

The Pastor And Personal Criticism by C.J. Mahaney - Pastor Mahaney reminds us we must be prepared for criticism and that our response to it is absolutely critical.

What is a Good Reason For A Pastor To Stay At One Church For A Long Time? by Brian Croft - Pastor Croft shares about an elderly woman who once publicly attacked and slandered him.

Here is a picture of me coaching a soccer team of
 middle school girls in Tianjin, China (Fall 2009).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Good Book Reading Plans

Today I ran into a friend at the bank, and she was reading the Bible as she waited to see a teller. She was in the Super-Powerful Gospel, the Book of Romans. As we spoke she told me that she just finished reading both Old and New Testaments in 20 weeks. When I told her how impressed I was, she gave all the praise to God. My reading plan has me completing the Good Book in under 50 weeks every year. I have read the New Testament in just over a month, but I read the entire Bible at a pace that takes more than twice as long as my friend. Now granted, when I read the Bible, I am looking at commentaries, comparing verses, examining other portions of the Book, reflecting, praying, etc., but hearing my friend read the Bible in under five months was very inspiring and convicting. I am spending far too much time reading material that is not very profitable. After a little research online, I found some Bible reading plans which have you going through Genesis to Revelation in one or three months. Perhaps that sounds a little daunting, but it is definitely doable. I have wasted so much of my life on frivolous matters. We need to remember that it is an absolute miracle that we have an opportunity to read the Bible.

"Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation - if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good." 1 Peter 2:2-3

A copy of the New Testament & Psalms that once belonged to my Great-Grandfather Wick.

What Books Have Influenced You?

Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church at East Lansing, Michigan, recently had a drawing where readers of his blog could mention a book that has been influential in their lives. The post is entitled, The Most Influential Books For Reformed Evangelicals. I found it to be an interesting list. I have completed three of the top five books, and I have read books from all of the authors, but three. Most of the books have not been around for a long time and are well-known in young evangelical circles.

Of the books mentioned, I would say R.C. Sproul's Chosen by God has been the most influential in my life. Shortly after I became a real believer over ten years ago, I was part of a small group that examined predestination using the Bible and Sproul's book, Chosen by God. Little did I know how instrumental that study would be in helping me begin to understand God and His perfect plan. I recently picked up Chosen by God again, and I now have a much better understanding of the Christian doctrine of predestination. I by no means have it all figured out, but I know God's plan of redemption brings Him great honor, praise, and glory forever.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When is the Time to Trust?

This morning I was able to talk with Megan for about ten minutes. Thank you Jesus for Skype. Megan told me about a classic book by L.B. Cowman that she just received from a family member. Until today, I was not familiar with Mrs. Cowman.

Mrs. Cowman and her husband, Mr. Charles E. Cowman, served in Japan and China for over 15 years in the early 20th century. After Mr. Cowman became ill, Mr. and Mrs. Cowman returned to the States where Mrs. Cowman cared for her husband until his death six years later. Mrs. Cowman's adventures and lifestorms resulted in a collection of prayerful meditations and Christian writings called Streams in the Desert. I have not read a devotional in several years, but I did check out this book from the school library to see what made the 366 daily devotional readings so popular. I really like how the daily readings come from hymns, poems, and Scripture. Apparently L.B. Cowman was greatly influenced by the "Prince of Preachers", Charles Spurgeon. Mr. & Mrs. Cowman also ministered with Oswald Chambers, the author of My Utmost for His Highest.

Megan and I have different reading tastes so we usually do not read the same kind of books. However, I enjoy hearing about what she is reading. I look forward to hearing what Megan gleans from reading Streams in the Desert in the coming year. I am also looking forward to having a conversation with L.B. Cowman one day and thanking her for her July 21st entry.

When is the time to trust?
Is it when all is calm,
When waves the victor's palm,
And life is one glad psalm
Of joy and praise?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when the waves beat high,
When storm clouds fill the sky,
And prayer is one long cry,
O help and save!
When is the time to trust?
Is it when friends are true?
Is it when comforts woo,
And in all we say and do
We meet but praise?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when we stand alone,
And summer birds have flown,
And every prop is gone,
All else but God.
When is the time to trust?
Is it some future day,
When you have tried your way,
And learned to trust and pray
By bitter woe?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is in this moment's need,
Poor, broken, bruised reed!
Poor, troubled soul, make speed
To trust thy God.
When is the time to trust? 
Is it when hopes beat high, 
When sunshine gilds the sky, 
And joy and ecstasy 
Fill all the heart? 
Nay! but the time to trust 
Is when our joy is fled, 
When sorrow bows the head, 
And all is cold and dead, 
All else but God. 
--Selected
 
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Prescott!

Anna is raring to go!
Tonight I had a yummy West African dinner along with birthday brownies with some dear old friends. If you are wondering just what kind of candle you are seeing, you can find them on Amazon.com. I highly recommend the experience. The man whose birthday we celebrated is my good pal, Mr. Mark Prescott. Mark was born on this planet 61 years ago, and I have had the privilege of praying with him almost every Thursday morning during the school year for 7.5+ years. Mark and I arrived in China in 2003, and I am thankful that he is part of the TIS middle school team. He has been a great friend. Mark has listened to me talk about my junk, and he has provided me with much counsel. I am thankful that God brought our lives together. One thing that stinks about living here is that we see lots of people come and go. I am not looking forward to the day when Mark and I have to say goodbye to one another. However, I am thankful it will only be temporary.

Fortunately Anna allowed Mr. Prescott to take part in the blowing of his birthday candles.







                                                                                                                                                         "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reviewing Jerry Bridges' The Pursuit Of Holiness

This is the second book by Jerry Bridges I have completed. I was first introduced to this member of Navigators a few years ago, and I quickly became a fan of his after reading Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. Portions of The Pursuit of Holiness actually reminded me of Respectable Sins.

In The Pursuit of Holiness, Bridges reminds us that God commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are also told that we have a responsibility to pursue a life that is holy. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we are to train ourselves to regularly practice spiritual disciplines. This of course includes studying Scripture deeply and praying constantly. Bridges' is not saying that our works save us, but He is saying that we cannot sit back and simply live in the same manner as the world. We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone, and if you truly believe that, you strive after holiness. You seek it out. You do not want to be God or worship other "gods", but you desire to be like God, the Holy One of Israel.

The Pursuit of Holiness is divided up into 17 chapters and takes only four hours to complete. Although Bridges is covering a serious topic, the material is presented in a clear and engaging manner. I chose to listen to several chapters more than once. The book is endorsed by a number of people that I enjoy listening to such as Chuck Colson, John Piper, and J.I. Packer. If you desire to learn about God's holiness and how to develop habits of holiness, I highly recommend Bridges' book. It is filled with tons of Scripture, real life stories, and plenty of pertinent counsel.




Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some Recent Articles That Brought Out Some Emotion

This made me a little teary... A Pilot's Decision

This made me really angry... Mom on Facebook

This should make us seriously think... Are We Brothers and Sisters?

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reviewing Tim Keller's Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything

Keller's Gospel in Life DVD contains eight sessions with each session being approximately 11 minutes long. The sessions focus on city life, our hearts, idols, communities, witnessing, work, justice, and eternity. Although the sessions are short, there is much to reflect on, discuss, pray about, and share with others. Tim Keller is brilliant and knows how to speak to people of all walks of life. I highly recommend the DVD for both individual or group studies.

Session one is called City: The World That is. I prefer living out in the sticks, but God has called me to live in one of the biggest cities in the world. It is a city that has millions of people who don't know the gospel, but my identity in Christ has only grown. We do not have to remove ourselves from the city or resemble it, we need to serve and love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).

Session two is called Heart: Three Ways to Live. This session focuses on the popular parable found at Luke 15:11-32, The Prodigal of the Lost Son. If you have read Keller's book, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, much of the material found here will be familiar to you. Despite that, we can listen to this message a million times.

Session three is called Idolatry: The Sin Beneath the Sin. What is your worst nightmare? If something was taken away from you and you believe you could no longer go on living without it, that is your god. That is your idol. You feel it justifies your life and gives your life worth and value. We must rejoice and rest in the Jesus' atoning work on the cross so your idols can be replaced

Session four is called Community: The Context for Change. I am so thankful for the community I live in. Meeting with others here helps me to know God at a deeper level. Like Jesus, we are distinct from those around us, but we interact with everyone in service to Him. We are called as a community to respond to the glory of God in every aspect of our lives.

Session five is called Witness: An Alternate City. We are to be a city on the hill (Matthew 5:14). Our lives should shine in a way that points others to Him. What do our lives say to others about what we believe? Do we behave like the world or have we been transformed by the gospel? We need to be gospel-speaking, neighbor-loving, and community-transformed people.

Session six is called Work: Cultivating the Garden. The Bible is a single true story that shares God's perfect plan for the world. God's plan is to establish His Kingdom for His glory. The gospel is the means through which the Kingdom of God is advancing, therefore it should penetrate everything including our work. God is our boss so work for Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Session seven is called Justice: A People for Others. Jesus Christ identified with the poor and the oppressed so we must do the same. When we know the peace of Christ, we will want to share it with all people, not just those we are like. We will share the gospel humbly and seek justice because we have experienced the grace of God.

Session eight is called Eternity: The World That is to Come. Keller takes us to the Book of Revelation and begins talking about the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem - the home that God is preparing for those who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are reminded of a vision of renewed culture, restored shalom, and remarkable spiritual intimacy. I am looking forward to that final chapter.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

163 Million Orphans

10 Ways You And Your Church Can Be Involved In Adoption And Orphan Care In 2011 by David Wooten

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Some Recent Articles About Books

E-Book Sales Outdo Print by Bob Minzeshelmer and Carol Memmott, USA TODAY

The iPad Is Not A Kindle Killer by Erick Schonfeld, Tech Crunch

Why Barnes & Noble Is Thumping Borders by Rick Newman, U.S. News & World Report

The 100 Bestselling "Christian" Books of 2010 - Some of these books are garbage and some are not.

Six E-Book Trends To Watch In 2011 by Michael Hyatt

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cute & Interesting Robots: The Future of Education?

Before I moved to China in 2003, I taught English at a Christian hakwon in Cheonan, South Korea. It would have been nice to have one of those egg-shaped robots dancing in the classroom. :-)

Robot English Teachers Start Work in South Korean Schools

Takin' a pic with some of my younger students at the Nazarene Foreign Language Institute in Cheonan, Korea

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Son of Man in Every Book of the Good Book

I like this kid.

Rose's 2008 Gotcha Day

We celebrated Rose's Gotcha Day less than three weeks ago. This is a great Gotcha Day video from a couple of years ago that Megan put together.

"even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:4-6

Before I Became a Principal

This video of me coaching middle school girls how to play soccer was shown to the middle school staff at Tianjin International School less than a year ago. They found it amusing.

I Recommend Listening to Shai Linne, Curtis Allen or Lecrae

Here are a couple of recent articles that pertain to music that caught my attention...

Butt-Dialing Mistake Sends SWAT Team to Winnetka School by John P. Huston and Megan Craig, Chicago Breaking News Center

Wal-Mart Stops Selling Kids CD with Profanities by Tom Coyne, Associated Press 


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wick's 2010 Highlights

He is good.

January – God totally changes my heart, and I feel led to become a principal. Once again I learn to never say, “I won’t ever…”.


February – I played Mr. Mom for two weeks while Megan spent time with her family in Florida and Indiana. People feed us a lot of food so we do not go hungry.


March – Megan and I get all dressed up and attend our first charity ball to raise awareness about orphans in Tianjin. Megan spends the night throwing up in our five star room.


April – After waiting for more than three years, we receive Rose’s referral which enables us to adopt her. I cried.


May – Rose is adopted into our family and receives a Chinese passport and visa to go to America. I cried.


June – We celebrate Grace’s 4th Gotcha Day and go to America for the first time as a family of four. I cried.


July – I start a M.Ed. in Administration at Columbia International University. I learn that you should read the textbooks before beginning intensive courses.


August – Grace begins junior kindergarten, Rose starts second grade, I start a new job, and we celebrate ten years of my rebirth. God is good.


September – We move to a new home after living in our apartment complex for 7+ years. It’s my fifth apartment in China and definitely my favorite.


October – I am gifted with an iPhone 4 and now understand why people like it so much. I am starting to become an Apple snob.


November – I catch up with Megan and turn the big 37. Does this mean I am an adult now?


December – We celebrate Rose’s 4th Gotcha Day and her first as an official member of the Wickersham clan.


Celebrating Grace's Fifth Birthday at Harvest Coffeehouse