Friday, October 21, 2011

The Great War In My Classroom

There is a war going on beneath the human skirmishes of everyday life. *

This truth made me consider how I respond to a troublesome student in my class.

Benny drives me crazy. This six-year-old boy has the attention span of a skittish kitten (and usually pretends he is one, meowing loudly while I am explaining our phonics lesson). His pencil case is a gun that shoots erasers at any classmate within range. Even when I confiscate all his personal belongings, he will find something obnoxious to do like tie his shoelaces together. During a recent game, he threw a beanbag that hit me square in the face.

Is there a war going on in my classroom? You better believe it. However, the real war is not between Benny and I, but between a jealous God and a devious enemy on the battlefield of my heart. My classroom skirmishes with Benny can be victories or defeats in this Great War between Spirit and flesh.**

Defeat starts when my good desire for an orderly classroom morphs into idolatrous worship of comfort and organization. When Benny prevents classroom order, I respond with frustration, anger, and bitterness by raising my voice and punishing him without explanation. Finally, I simply send him out of the class because I don’t want to deal with him anymore. I love my own comfort more than I love Benny and helping him grow as a person.

The road to victory begins when my desire for order is submitted to my desire for God. I can love Benny with a Christ-like love, and act in his best interest at the cost of my personal comfort. This looks like patiently reminding him of the rules before class begins, consistently and calmly enforcing them out of a love that seeks his growth, and giving him encouraging high fives when he makes steps in the right direction. It also means I don’t give up on him because I love him.

My everyday skirmishes with Benny are significant in light of a Great War, and my response can lead to victory or defeat.

*Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change pg. 93

**Galatians 5:16-17

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Adopted into God's Family

I was encouraged recently by some insight into this popular verse:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:15)

The verb "cry" is the Greek word krazein, which is the same word used to describe Jesus' cry from the cross (Mk 15:39) and a woman's cry in childbirth (Rev. 12:2).

“The picture is not that of the believer resting quietly in his Father’s arms in childlike faith, but of the child who has tripped and fallen crying out in pain, ‘Daddy, Daddy’."*

How do you know you are adopted into God's family? It’s not that you feel peaceful and assured all the time. It’s that in time of need you look toward your heavenly Father.

*Sinclair Ferguson, The Christian Life, p. 100

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Modern Toilet

When you read the title of this post, did the word "restaurant" immediately come to mind?

I hope not.

But, that's what The Modern Toilet is-- and it is quite possibly the strangest restaurant I have ever been to. We went there to celebrate a friend's birthday several weeks ago.

Note the toilet seats and bathtub table...

...and this is how the food is served!

A dining experience not for the weak-stomached!

Friday, October 14, 2011

10月10日 : Happy Birthday, Taiwan!

On Monday (10/10) we enjoyed a day off work and celebrated the founding of the Republic of China. We watched the air show from our apartment window, walked down to the C.K.S. Memorial to see a military show (pictures below), and ended the evening by watching fireworks from our rooftop.

Happy Birthday, Taiwan!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Night Hiking Elephant Mountain

Last Sunday evening we headed to Elephant Mountain, a short hike near downtown Taipei. The trail is well-lit, and this panoramic perspective of the city makes the steep climb worth it!

Micah slept through the first half of the journey, snug and warm on Kalan's back. But he did wake up to enjoy the view from the top.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Bali is an island off the northern coast of Taipei, accessible by ferry.

Friends :)

Micah's first boat ride (he slept through it, of course!):

Enjoying Taiwanese street food--squid and quail eggs on a stick and roasted chestnuts:

Strolling on the boardwalk:

I want to ride one of these next time!

Stranded boats:

Fresh coconut juice:

The biggest dog I've ever seen:

Ending the day with Turkish ice cream:

Feeling thankful for restful holiday weekends...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2011 Foreigner Retreat

This past weekend we went on our church's annual foreigner retreat. This year, Kalan and I got to help plan the content of the weekend.

Highlights for us included worshiping in English and getting to know people better (both new foreigners and Taiwanese brothers and sisters). We also enjoyed hearing our leaders share their vision for the coming year.

We are incredibly blessed to be part of God's family in Taiwan!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Facebook and John Calvin

John Calvin wrote:

“For the man who thinks of himself as an alien sojourner in the world, uses the things of the world as if they belonged to someone else; in other words, as things which are lent for the day only.”*

This quote reminded me that all our earthly possessions are tools for God’s purposes and not our own selfish gain. One tool I’m tempted to misuse every day is Facebook, but remembering that I’m a pilgrim in this world changes the way I use it.

When I act like a permanent resident of this world, I use Facebook to pursue status, power, and significance instead of finding my identity in Christ. I constantly check to see how many friends “like” or comment on my posts, because I seek approval from others. I freely broadcast my life throughout the day because I want people to admire my accomplishments and ideas. I waste time looking at pictures posted by high school classmates I haven’t seen for years so I can compare my life to theirs and feel good about myself.

I think if Paul lived now, he might very well write to the church: “From now on those who use [Facebook] should live as if not engrossed in [it]” (1 Corinthians 7:31). Facebook is not the problem; the way I use it is. When I awaken to the reality that I could die at any moment, I view Facebook as ultimately trivial and unimportant.

When I remember that life is short and I am an alien sojourner in the world, I use Facebook to communicate quickly and easily with family and friends. I check it once a day for about ten minutes because I’m genuinely interested in people’s lives. I rarely post status updates, reserving my personal news for face-to-face conversations or phone calls so I can further real relationships. I occasionally post pictures and updates so I can share my life with family and friends who live far away.

Facebook is a tool to help me on this journey through life. When I start acting like a permanent resident of the world, I misuse Facebook and waste tons of time. But when I remember that I am a sojourner, I can enjoy Facebook for the blessing it is without becoming engrossed in it. After all, I’m just passing through.


*The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, trs. J.W. Fraser, eds. D. W. & T. F. Torrance, Edinburgh, 1960, pp. 159-160.