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Lessons from a wooden duck

October 30, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

Three of my four kids are Korean, so it should come as no surprise that Korean culture has had a big impact on me and my family. I love the country’s culture and traditions that stretch back for centuries. And their food is amazing!

One of my favorite Korean traditions though, is the wedding duck. In Korean weddings, the bride and groom often receive a pair of hand-carved, brightly colored wooden ducks symbolizing peace, many children, and no separation.  An important part of the tradition is picking the right person to carve the ducks. The carver must be a person of integrity, prosperity, and peace. While at work, the craftsman prays for the couple’s happiness, peace, prosperity, and children. Carving wedding ducks is a matter of honor, and no money exchanges hands as the wedding ducks are the carver’s gift to the couple.

After the wedding, the ducks are displayed prominently in the couple’s home, and their position there sends an important message. If the ducks are tail-to-tail, facing away from each other, there’s trouble in the marriage. If nose-to-nose (or maybe beak-to-beak?), then all is well between husband and wife.

Now I don’t know if the wedding duck tradition has any purposeful ties to our faith, but I’ve always seen several aspects that I think could apply to us in our homes and churches, and even here at school.

  • God is a master craftsman. Not only has He created a beautiful world, but he has carefully made us, endowing within us reflections of Himself (Psalm 139:13-16).
  • Scripture makes it clear that God has chosen us, but there is a mystery here where we also have the freedom to choose Him. We certainly have the freedom to choose to follow His ways. God loves it when we do this (Joshua 24:14-15)! We are constantly on His mind, and he delights in speaking blessings over us (Zephaniah 3:17).
  • There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. His gift to us as believers simply cannot be purchased (Romans 6:23).
  • God loves it when His people walk in unity and single-minded purpose (John 17:20-23). It is when this happens in full view of an unbelieving world that He is made known!

May we and our children choose the Master Carver, receiving His gift of salvation. May His blessings continue to pour out over our families and school, and may we walk in unity as Christ followers, showing the world a better way.

Pretty amazing what all we can learn from a couple of wooden ducks!


Have a great week my friends,


Mike

Be The Legacy

August 28, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

This year’s school theme is Be The Legacy, and as you might expect, I’d like to share briefly about legacy today. But first, let me tell a story...

In college, I spent a lot of time at the Tarleton Baptist Student Union. I played a lot of ping pong and ate whatever the sweet ladies from area churches would bring us once a week. And while I pretended to be growing spiritually, honestly, I was spinning my wheels until early in the spring of my sophomore year, when a friend asked if I’d ever thought about doing summer missions. On a whim, I applied, and after much prayer (wink, wink), I listed Europe and Hawaii as my preferred destinations. I mean, they need the Good News in Honolulu, right?

But of all the places in the world that need Jesus, I was sent to Houston. To put it lightly...I was disappointed. But while the Bayou City held absolutely no allure for me, that summer at the Houston Baptist Mission Center turned out to be the most life-changing 10 weeks of my life. In particular, I was impacted by the center’s director, Mildred McWhorter, or “Miss Mac” as we all knew her.

Each week, Miss Mac led us in devotions, tell amazing stories of God’s miraculous provision and transformative work in people’s lives over the 30 years she’d served in Houston’s worst neighborhoods. I remember thinking THAT kind of excitement is the what the Christian life should look like!

Throughout that summer of 1990, we visited a different church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. Miss Mac came with us, telling the mission center’s story each time. And as the weeks passed, I noticed I was hearing the same stories again and again. In fact, by the time the summer ended, I could’ve given her talk myself! I eventually realized that she really only had a handful of those miraculous “God stories,” and when I did the math, I found this came to about one amazing story every 6 years with long stretches of faithful service in between.

Miss Mac’s legacy? Three vibrant mission centers. Hundreds of summer missionaries like me exposed to the reality of inner-city ministry. Tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people fed, clothed, and presented with the life-changing truth of the gospel. What began in the early 60’s with a young woman from Alabama who moved to Houston to serve God (she never married) continues today with vibrant programs providing food, clothing, job training, marriage counseling, parenting classes, and much more for the needy in Houston and beyond (to learn more, visit http://missioncenters.org/about-us/).

There was nothing flashy about Miss Mac. One thing she did better than anyone I’ve ever known though was that she just kept moving forward. Prayerfully seeking God’s will and asking for His provision every step of the way, she never stopped. And that’s how legacies are built.

For twenty-five years, Trinity Christian Academy has kept moving forward. Like the mission center in Houston, our founders have moved on, but their vision remains. And it’s now our turn to help students (our own children and others as well) “fulfill God’s purpose for his/her life and reach maximum potential in a joint effort between school, student, family, and church.” We continue to do this by “developing excellence in education, character, and servant leadership through a Christ-centered, biblical perspective.”

As we pick up the mantle, let’s continue the legacy started back in 1993, and let’s do it well. Let’s do it in a such a way that 25 years from now, this place will be as special, as impactful, and as faithful to our calling as it possibly can be. May we be legacy builders in this season that God has us at His school in the big splashy stuff, but more importantly, in hundreds of small, quiet, ordinary acts of faithful obedience that really count. Let’s BE THE LEGACY.

Thanks for joining me in the journey!

Mike

 

Home Field Advantage

May 15, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

People make up our growing and maturing school, but the most visible evidence of our maturation is in the facilities that serve the needs of our students.

When God led the Skaggs family to TCA in 2000, school facilities consisted of the front half of our current Elementary Building and a few portables. Eagle Gym came along two years later, and soon afterward, the elementary building was finished out, equipping it to house all of grades PK-12. More portable buildings were added, and in 2004, discussions began regarding the need for a new secondary building. School leaders called for a season of prayer as we sought the Lord’s provision and direction. Seven years later, TCA’s Secondary Building opened, with the dedication Barber Gym following soon after in the spring of 2012.

We are so fortunate to enjoy facilities that serve us well and will continue to do so for years to come. These buildings are God’s gift to us and stand as a monument to the generosity of many whose time at TCA has come and gone. They allow TCA to continue in the pursuit of our vision of helping young men and women fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.

I believe there is more to come! As we celebrated another successful year of Eagle and Lady Eagle athletics at last week’s athletic banquet (thank you Booster Club for a wonderful evening!), I couldn’t help but think of how many of these successes were earned despite the lack of any true home field advantage. “When will we have our own _______?” (track, field, etc.) is one of the most common questions I hear! What many do not know is that for the years, we have actively sought property to develop for this and other purposes.

For almost 4 years now, we have prayed and walked over potential properties, praying faithfully for provision and patience. We’ve even been in negotiations at levels of detail as specific as the height of light poles, the direction of stadium speakers, and even purchase prices. To our frustration, none of those hopes came to fruition. During that time, our parents, coaches, and athletes patiently trekked to practice fields and “home games” that were anywhere but “home,” and our athletic department has spent untold hours negotiating field rentals for practices and games, using school resources to rent fields, tracks, and courts with no long-term benefit to TCA.

Last week, it was my privilege at the athletic banquet to share that TCA leadership is closing in on what we believe to be an answer to this need. We are currently negotiating for a piece of property near our campus that, when purchased and developed, will allow future generations of TCA athletes to throw, catch, jump, tackle, bat, and run with a true home field advantage.

We can’t give much right now in the way of details other than to say that we believe we are closer than ever to acquiring the property that will beautifully meet the needs of our school. As this possibility comes into greater focus in days to come, we will keep you apprised of our progress.

So, like that time 13 years ago, I call on the TCA family to pray. Pray not only that God will meet this need, but that we will be wise stewards of this land should it become “ours” (God is already the real owner!). Pray that the God will continue to use our athletes, coaches, parents, and fans to show the world a better way of doing sports. Pray that our generation in the history of TCA will be “long” in vision and one that will generously invest in our children and in the children of those who come behind ours. Pray that the name of Jesus will continue to be lifted high through the Eagles and Lady Eagles of Trinity Christian Academy in here in Willow Park, Texas and that our influence will be a God-honoring impact on all those we encounter.

I’ll keep you posted my friends!

The Horizontal Impact of a Christian Education

April 18, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

Last week I shared about the importance of the partnership between home, church and Christian school in discipling the young men and women. The goal of this discipleship process is twofold. The first and most obvious advantage is that our students would enjoy in increasing measure the personal benefits of a growing relationship with God now and into eternity. This can be seen as the vertical impact between individuals and the Lord. But there is another important purpose accomplished when young people grow spiritually--a positive horizontal impact upon the world around them. Allow me today to quickly address some of the ways we hope to see TCA students have a positive horizontal impact in our world.

In Genesis 1:28, God gave mankind the mandate to “subdue” the earth and to “have dominion” over it. His expectation was (and is) that we not just seek ways to use natural resources, but that our intellect, curiosity, and creativity would be directed toward filling the world with culture and civilization, discovering new and better ways to maximize the usefulness of creation while continually pressing it toward God’s ideal.

We love seeing our students pursue studies in science, medicine, law, engineering, and technology, but our hopes for them are higher than worldly definitions of success defined in terms of good jobs and comfortable lives. Our hope is that they will regard themselves as stewards of a divinely given trust, and that they will work toward a world that reflects God’s intended ideals as much as is possible this side of heaven. While some Christ followers may skeptically steer clear of fields such as politics and environmentalism, we believe that there is much value here when properly directed, and we rejoice when we see our students learn in all grades of the importance of being good stewards of the world around us!

Another end we hope to see in our students is that they will use all they’ve been given to bless other people. From the Old Testament laws regarding gleaning to the New Testament church sharing of all things, Scripture is full of instructions to care for others. If we acknowledge that all we have is a gift from the Lord, we can understand His expectation that we will use all we have to bless others. This “all we have” goes far beyond money to include our possessions, skills, social standing, friendships, personalities, interests, time, prayers, and anything else we might call “ours.”

A great example is God’s gift of manna to His people in the desert. This miracle food appeared each morning, and people simply went out to gather it up. Naturally, some were better gatherers and could physically collect more than others, but God’s desire was for everyone’s needs to be met (interestingly, anything hoarded spoiled and become useless). In 2 Corinthians, Paul compared money to manna, teaching that it’s as much a gift of God as manna was to the Israelites. Today some of us may be better “gatherers” for various reasons, but our possessions are still gift to be shared. This is a value we seek to instill in our students.

In his work Generous Justice, pastor Tim Keller writes that "God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to ‘do justice’” (Micah 6:8). When we are concerned about widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor, we reflect the heart of God and His deep concern for the vulnerable all around us. In this way, individual Christ-followers, their families, our churches, and our Christian schools, can reveal God's glory and character to a world. Space simply does not allow the dozens and dozens ways our students and staff serve the needs of others through the ministry of Trinity Christian Academy.

As always, thank you for your partnership in the God-sized task of preparing a generation of young men and women who will use the skills they’re learning every day in our school and in your home and church out into the world. We are engaged in so much more than just doing school! May our students continue to bless and be blessed!

Mike

PS...While we work hard to keep our tuition rates significantly below those of similar independent (not church supported) Christian schools, many families who desire a Christian education for their children simply cannot afford the kind of gospel-centered training that our children are blessed with. Perhaps God has allowed you to be an effective “gatherer,” and you could bless another family out of your excess. Please visit http://www.tcaeagles.org/giving/ for information regarding how you could help support the ministry of Trinity Christian Academy.

The Value of Vision

April 10, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

Two weeks ago, members of our school family gathered for the first TCA Family Dinner. What a special evening it was as we enjoyed a sweet time of fellowship and sharing of how TCA has blessed families over the years. I look forward to events similar to this as we prepare to celebrate TCA’s 25th anniversary next year.

My thoughts below are based largely upon remarks I shared at the Family Dinner. For those of you who couldn’t join us that evening, I hope this is helpful and useful to you in terms of better understanding what we’re about here at Trinity Christian Academy.

Thanks for your partnership,

Mike

***

An organization’s vision is important. As the word suggests, “vision” is a mental image of an ideal future if the organization successfully fulfills its purpose. This idea is then accompanied by the organization’s mission which goes on to describe how the vision can be brought to fruition. Simply put, vision is the “what” and mission is the “how.”

Trinity Christian Academy’s vision (our reason for existing) is “to help each student fulfill God’s purpose for his/her life and reach maximum potential in a joint effort between school, student, family, and church.” Our mission (how we carry out that vision) is to develop “excellence in education, character, and servant leadership through a Christ-centered, biblical perspective.” We filter all we do through these statements. In fact, our administrative team begins every one of our weekly meetings with a reading of these statements.

With vision being such a big deal, we must seriously consider the question: “So what is God’s purpose for our students?” This is an important question not just for our children, but for us all. To answer it well, we look to scripture.

In Matthew, Jesus taught that our purpose is to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. He followed this with a command to love other people just as we would want to be loved, going to say that these commands sum up all of the law and prophets. Since He is, after all, “the Word made flesh,” he ought to know! So, let’s look back a little further in God’s word at what the Bible has to say through one of the Old Testament prophets.

Micah 6:8 summarizes God’s purpose for each of us, and, as should be expected from an unchanging God, it lines right up with Jesus’ teaching. Micah tells us that what is “good” is “doing justice,” “loving kindness,” and “walking humbly with God.” Bottom line? The eternal, divinely appointed purpose for people and for institutions bearing His name (including families, churches, and Christian schools) is to Love God and Love People wholeheartedly.

Accordingly, this is our school’s goal in all things – academics, athletics, creative arts, social activities, relationships, service projects, trips…everything! We won’t always do it perfectly, but this is our heart. And when this is done alongside families and churches that share this vision, we stand a pretty good chance of developing young men and women with lives that are “good” from a divine perspective. Our boys and girls can grow to become men and women who walk with the Lord, act justly and love kindness. But even then, this is going to look different for different people.

Some organizations literally bear the name of Christ (churches, Christian schools, parachurch ministries, etc.), and some individuals engage in full or part-time vocational ministry, spending their working hours singularly focused on loving God and people. In our school’s relatively short history, we’ve seen a number of TCA students go on to live out this calling as pastors, missionaries, worship leaders, Christian school teachers, and other forms of occupational ministry.

But at TCA, we know God’s call to love Him and others applies to all walks of life. We believe that if we are to live fulfilled lives in keeping with God’s design, everyone should engage in loving God and loving others well. This is the ultimate purpose for everyone in the TCA family (students, staff, and parents alike). In fact, I venture to say this is the purpose of every person!

This brings us to another key part of what TCA is all about.

This call to love God and people well is reflected in Jesus’ final command to go out and make disciples. This call to discipleship informs all that we do here at TCA. At the core, every part of TCA school life is a vehicle for discipleship.  

I believe this to be the heart of intentional Christian parents too, and I know it is the heart of our area pastors. But none of us should have to do it alone. There’s simply not enough time or energy in our busy world! Working together, however, we can offer our children the chance to grow into all God designed them to be, fulfill His purpose for their lives. What a blessing for our students to have this opportunity!

Thanks for your partnership in this effort, and thanks for your help in making this type of training accessible to as many students in our area as possible.

Mike

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