Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Fundraiser for the Japanese

For the past 1.5 weeks, TIS has been hosting a fundraiser. I was quite delighted and pleasantly surprised that almost $850 USD was raised so aid can be distributed to the survivors of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It brought me great joy that so many students (many of whom are Korean) chose to give money that will be sent to Samaritan's Purse. I pray that the families affected by the disaster who are receiving the hygiene kits, blankets, boots, rice, and other items will see and hear Christ in all of this.

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36

A middle school student took a picture of me at the fourth-floor cafeteria prior to the unleashing of
the water balloons. The names of students who donated 10 RMB ($1.50) were placed in a box.  
Marta, who approached me about raising money for the Japanese affected by the Tohoku Earthquake &
Tsunami, pulls names from a box. We drew ten different names, and students who had their names drawn were
 given the opportunity to throw water balloons at a select group of teachers and yours truly.

As you can see, I was not exactly feeling very brave. Fortunately, I did not get too wet. The kids had fun, but
more importantly, they gave to a good cause. Pray that these students would understand the words of
Ephesians 2:8-10. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Tooth Daddy

Yesterday my youngest daughter lost her first tooth. It is hard to believe that it has been almost five years since Grace Noel Siyuan Wickersham entered our family and rocked our world. I am thankful that God has ordained for me to play the role of the Tooth Daddy.

"Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;" Psalm 144:4, 12

This is the first picture I saw of my daughter Grace. I did
not like seeing the frown, but I loved her giant bald head. 
Grace is showing off her new smile. The Tooth Daddy
gave her a note and 10 RMB ($1.50). She was happy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some Recent Articles About Books II

Christian Book Awards Finalists for 2011 (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) - Although I have read books from three of the authors who have been nominated, I have not read any of these books.

Doing Good, But a Little Less Than Others by Kevin DeYoung - "At the end of each month I usually list the books I've read and give a brief evaluation of each..."

New Translation of Bible Draws Fire From Conservative Critics - I recommend the ESV (English Standard Version).

Oxford English Dictionary Adds New Words - Ridiculous.

The Resurgence: Books - "Words are important..."

Megan purchased most of these books, but I have read a few of them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't Tell Him He Has a Disability

It has been almost ten years since I last coached middle schoolers how to wrestle. For several years I coached wrestlers at a couple of different schools in central Indiana. People have often told me that they are impressed with all of the running I do on a soccer field, but I have always felt wrestling was a much more physically grueling sport.

What Anthony Robles accomplished last week at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships was just amazing. Despite being born with only one leg, Anthony Robles was crowned the D1 champ at 125 pounds. Wow. What has impressed me the most about Mr. Robles has been his attitude. Often we are so lazy and making excuses in life, but here is a young man who has persevered despite having what some would call a physical limitation. I don't know exactly what Robles believes in, but I pray that God would use Him for His glory.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14 

Being the Very Best Teachers

The Key Trait of Successful Teachers by Will Bankston - Earlier this week I sent this article to the TIS Middle School Staff as well as to administrators I work with. It has been well received. If you are a teacher and desire to teach in the right way, I recommend reading this.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:5-7

A few of the TIS middle schoolers at a recent reading competition in Beijing.

Articles About China That Caught My Attention I

Tianjin, A Breath of Fresh Air from Beijing by Daniel Bardsley - Here is a very favorable article about the city we live in.

China to Ban Smoking in Public Places by Martin Patience - This would be sweet!

The Millennium Clock at the Tianjin North Railway Station

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Photo Shoot To Support the Japanese

Today was a busy day of meetings and disciplining students. One of the highlights of the day was running around on a soccer field in an effort to help a photographer take the best pictures. Sometimes I can say silly things that make kids smile. Perhaps I still have a middle school kid in me.

These are five great middle school students at TIS. They hold passports from
Korea, the United States, Japan, South Africa, and Sweden.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

We're Praying For Japan II: 2011 Quake & Tsunami

A Story of Rescue in Japan by Randy Alcorn

Japan: After Empathy and Aid, People Want Answers by John Piper

"Father in Heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.
O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.
And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.
Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.
Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.
May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures' pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.
In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.
Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.
And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.
O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.
In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen." John Piper

Happy Patrick of Ireland Day

Like most Americans, I grew up not ever knowing who St. Patrick was. I just made sure I always wore green on March 17th so I wouldn't get pinched. Weird. I highly recommend clicking on the links below and learning about this great man of God.

Who Was St. Patrick? by Kevin DeYoung

St. Patrick: One of the Greatest Missionaries Who Ever Lived by Mark Driscoll

St. Patrick Knew All About Human Trafficking by Clint Humfrey

Patrick of Ireland by Reid Monaghan

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Daddy Date #6: Uyghur Cuisine - Tianjin, China

Rose selected a rather common, but delicious noodle dish.
Grace chose a noodle dish with tomatoes, eggs, & greens.
This guy gave Rose and Grace a couple mutton kebabs.
I was seriously coveting the food. They be my favorite.
My beef and rice dish was the most expensive on the table - 11 RMB ($1.67).
The onions made my breath kickin', but Megan is at a conference this weekend.
If you stink at speaking Chinese, you can simply point to what you want.

A Beautiful Day in Tianjin

Grace is all about playgrounds. She especially likes the one at TIS. 

This is Grace with her good friend Noel. Don't you want to squeeze them?
Rose just completed her first soccer practice of the season.
This was Rose's first time to ride her bike in the mean streets of Tianjin.

Grace is singing away as we enjoy temperatures in the 60s.

Friday, March 11, 2011

We're Praying For Japan: 2011 Quake & Tsunami

I pray that through this horrible tragedy the Japanese would cry out to God. May the gospel spread throughout Japan and a radical new Japan be created.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask of think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 ;

Japan Earthquake Efforts - Want to support The Salvation Army's response in Japan?

Pray For Japan - Please pray for the people affected by the quake and tsunami, and for God to grant wisdom and to direct the steps of Samaritan's Purse as they decide how to help.

Japan Quake and Tsunami Relief - World Vision urgently needs your support to help the people suffering from the devastation caused by this quake and tsunami. 

Looking at the Doctrine of the Lake of Fire

Hell is not exactly one of my favorite topics to talk about. I would much rather talk about the Heavenly Jerusalem where I will get to worship the Father Almighty with fellow believers. However, the more I understand the doctrine of Hell, the more thankful I am for what Jesus has done for me. It moves me to pray and share more. Knowing what Jesus saves us from is absolutely crucial. With Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins, about to be released, there has been a lot of talk about Hell on the Blogosphere. Below are some links I recommend that will provide you theologically sound information about the Lake of Fire.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

What I'd Have To Deny To Deny Hell by Tim Challies

Waffling Over Hell by Kevin DeYoung

The Truth About Hell Should Fill Us With Traumatic Awe by Martin Downes

Speaking Seriously and Sensitively about Hell to the Sons of this Age and the Next by Ligon Duncan

The Importance Of Hell by Tim Keller

Doing Away With Hell? Part One by Albert Mohler

Why Is Hell Forever? by Russell Moore

Rob Bell on Martin Luther and Salvation in Hell by Justin Taylor

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some Recent Articles That Brought Out Some Emotion V

This pleasantly surprised me... Where Raucous is the Norm, Bible Study by Erik Eckholm (New York Times)

This makes me happy... Five Health Reasons to not Quit Coffee  by Kerri-Ann Jennings (EatingWell Magazine)

This disgusts me... The Opposite of a Tiger Mother: Leaving Your Children Behind by Lylah M. Alphonse (Shine Staff) and Kid Crazy: Why We Exaggerate the Joys of Parenthood by John Cloud (Time)

This made me laugh. Unbelievable...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Daddy Date #5: Tianjin Street Food

I ordered some salty & spicy tofu to kick off the evening.

The next item we ordered was a pork sandwich with peppers.

Rose was happy with her slightly sweet and
 spicy bread. This is not Wonder bread.

23 cents bought an orange Fanta for Rose.

We were happy to be able to sit down and people watch.

I capped off the night with a bottle of Coke. I am a rebel.

Daddy Date #4: Golden Phoenix Cafe/Bakery - Tianjin, China

During my eight years in Tianjin, I have seen a crazy amount of changes. One change that has taken place in TJ is in the availability of coffee. Nowadays you can find a coffeehouse on every street corner. This has resulted in better coffee and at more reasonable prices. For only 8 RMB ($1.20 USD), I am able to purchase a decent cup of joe at the Jin Xiang (Golden Phoenix) Cafe/Bakery. At this local cafe, they sell some funky sandwiches that the girls and I like. My only knock on this place is the music. Unfortunately, this nation has also imported Eminem's profanity-laced rap. I am thankful we heard only one of his explicit songs and that Rose cannot understand a single word he is sayin'.

Rose had the chocolate milk, not the coffee. :)

Rose is dreaming about a pretty cake that is
being advertised all over the bakery.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Teaching Your Kids About the Carpenter's Son

8 Tips For Talking To Kids About The Sermon by Joe Holland

Bible Memory For Young Children by Andy Naselli

Grace and Rose, Fall 2010

Reviewing David Murray's DVD, God's Technology

In God's Technology, Dr. David Murray presents to us biblical methods to train children so they can use technology in a way that honors God. I have benefited greatly from Dr. Murray's blog over at HeadHeartHand, and the same can be said from this DVD. In this 40 minute DVD that is compatible in all regions, Dr. Murray provides us four biblical principles:

1. Technology is created by God.
2. Technology is not essentially sinful.
3. Technology has many good uses.
4. Technology has been perverted.

Three possible responses to technology are:
1. An enthusiastic embrace
2. A strict separation
3. Disciplined discernment

Of course, the way to use technology is in a disciplined discerning manner. After discussing the possible responses to technology, a seven-step training program is covered:

1. Educate
2. Fence (anti-virus, firewalls, time boundaries, site limits, personal information, downloads)
3. Mentor
4. Supervise
5. Review
6. Trust
7. Model

We are then shown how to apply the seven steps when using Facebook with children. At the school I work at, the students use MacBooks so I have been asked several times how we can help the students be responsible digital citizens. It would have been nice to have owned this DVD last year. I am thankful that this DVD is now in our school library, and I will be recommending it to many teachers and parents.

David Beckham's Latest Tat

Jesus is being helped out of His tomb by three cherubs. The cherubs represent
 his three sons (Brooklyn, Romeo, and Cruz) while Jesus represents David. Wow.
This is not David's first tattoo with a religious theme. Apparently, Mr. Beckham has an angel on his back posed like a cross, "pray for me" scrawled across his right wrist, and one of his wife, Victoria (Posh Spice), as a topless angel surrounded by stars. David says, "Everything has a meaning that I've got on me." Interesting. What is the meaning of all of this?!