The Advent Conspiracy Calendar

I love chocolate. Seriously. I could eat at least one chocolate bar every day and I’m in the camp of people who believe it should be a designated food group with recommended daily servings. On that note, being a kid again in December would be amazing, when it’s totally acceptable to wake up first thing in the morning, scramble downstairs, open an advent calendar and eat chocolate before breakfast. I think I’ll be glaring at my kids for the next 24 days. If they wouldn’t tell people I had my own I’d buy one, but they would, and that would just be embarrassing, so I’ll let the kids be kids and I’ll be an adult.

Instead, as parents we’re leaning on Advent Conspiracy for an adding an extra advent calendar to our home this year: the advent conspiracy calendar.

What’s Advent Conspiracy, you ask? Here’s the explainer video.

To help with this their website has some great resources for churches and kids, which can easily be adapted for individuals and adults. Their advent calendar is a list of daily activities that are God and others’ centred, including reading passages of Scripture, singing songs together for family worship, services opportunities inside and outside of the home, reaching out to others who are hurting, lonely or in need of help, and so on. On four of the days they provide some devotional material to work through that teaches the 4 tenets of advent conspiracy: spend less, give more, love all, worship fully.

As a family, we plan to have heaps of fun, enjoy the company of friends and family, exchange modest gifts, eat delicious food (including chocolate), listen to lots of music, and watch a Christmas movie or two. But at the same time, we want to be intentional about advent to ensure that the celebration of the birth of our King is not swallowed up in selfishness or consumerism. We want to wonder anew at the gift of God in the coming of His Son, and have the servant attitude of Christ by loving others as He has loved us.

Why don’t you take a look at the calendar, adapt where you need to, and engage in some advent conspiracy this Christmas?

Challenge Accepted!

On Sunday morning, during the portion of the service when the kids were listening to their story from The Gospel Storybook Bible, the reader asked the kids if they could think of another time in Israel’s history when a golden calf made an appearance.  My son put up his hand, and when invited, offered the correct response.

In jest, a dad sitting in front of me turned around, jokingly rolled his eyes, and said something to the effect of “Pastor’s kid.” Not in jest, I replied with words to the effect of “He knows the answer because his dad’s a Christian, not because his dad’s a pastor.”

I really hope I didn’t sound like a jerk saying that, because, I’ll be honest here, my family is my hot spot.  I’m incredibly sensitive to the level of exposure my kids have with my being in ministry and I want to do all I can to ensure that the standard they are called to is the same biblical standard every kid in the church is called to: repent, believe the gospel, and upon believing, walk worthy of that gospel. Debunking the myth that a minister’s or missionary’s kids are somehow automatically holier than any other sinful-nature-inherting-sprog in the church is healthy for us. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I mustn’t have come across too strong because that brief exchange wasn’t the last word. Either that, or God’s grace was at work despite how I said what I did. You’ll have to keep reading for the rest of the story.

Before we get there though, while we’re at it, there’s another myth worth debunking: dads who are not pastors are called to a lower standard than dads who are pastors . Don’t get me wrong here, if a pastor isn’t doing his job as a father, he shouldn’t be serving as an elder or deacon in the church. If a guy can’t oversee the little church that meets in his home he has absolutely no business overseeing a local church. 1 Timothy 3: 4 makes that pretty clear:

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

But as dads we can’t read into this: if you’re not a pastor, you’re off the hook. The same biblical injunctions apply to every single Christian father without exception.  Take Ephesians 6:4, for example,

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

There’s no qualification here. There isn’t one standard for pastor dads and non-pastor dads.

Now, when we grab onto that, what happens is fantastic. After the service, the same dad came up to me and said these wonderful words, for which I commend him, and thank God for: “Challenge accepted. I need to read more Bible stories to my kids.”

What a terrific response! He got it, and if you’re a dad sitting there reading this realizing the same, the tough part is the follow through. Challenge maybe the word coming to mind for you, or even daunting, so, in an effort to make life a little easier, here a few recommended places you could start:

The Gospel Storybook Bible – This is the book we’ve been reading in church for a little while now. I test drove this one at home with our boys before we started running with it during our services. This will keep you going for quite some time with over 150 chapters or so. What I appreciate about each story is the way it concludes by pointing to the Lord Jesus.

The Jesus StoryBook Bible – Here’s another book we read at home and then ended up using in our services for our church kids.  It’s worth buying the version with the audio cd.  The readings are extremely engaging, great for a bedroom or a road trip.

My ABC Bible Verses from the Psalms – Don’t let the title fool you.  Each chapter connects what’s going on in the lives of Missy and Bill and their family with a verse from the Psalms. The intent is that each verse can be memorized and throughout the course of the book covers the whole of Psalm 100.  Our kids enjoyed this one and we’ve read through it a couple of times.

Big Truths for Little Kids – We have yet to read the stories in each chapter of this book but the catechism questions are excellent. “What’s catechism?”, you say. Read this. As a method of teaching, it works starting at a very young age, like, 2 years old. Though the concepts may be massive for a young mind, as parents we want to teach truths that are big enough for our kids to grow up into. Also, the upside is that it’s payback for the hundreds and hundreds of questions kids ask parents every single day. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The Ology – This one is next on our list, by the same author as the Gospel Storybook Bible, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.

So, click a link, order a book, start reading, and see what happens. Before you know it, your kids may be the ones bringing the book to you rather than you bringing it to them!

A letter from C.H. Spurgeon to Arthur Layzell

Below is a transcript of a letter written by Charles Spurgeon to Arthur Layzell, George Layzell’s father.  It refers to a prayer meeting where Arthur’s father, a pastor, was praying for his son.  The picture is the copy of the actual letter, which hangs in the Heritage Library.  I knew that it existed but hadn’t actually ever read it until last week.  George (one of our church members) has given permission for me to share it here so that you can read it for yourself.  I thought it would be particularly appropriate with Father’s Day upon us to celebrate the blessing of a dad who was deeply concerned with the salvation and spiritual well-being of his children.  As always, Spurgeon writes with beauty and passion.  At the top, in tiny writing are the words “O Lord, bless this letter.” Enjoy! read more

Celebrating Absentee Fathers

If you haven’t seen the 30 second commercial from Days Inn, take a look. Believe me, it isn’t funny.  Not even a little bit.  In fact, as a Dad, I was a little bit ticked, frustrated, saddened, offended, and maybe even felt a touch guilty. read more

Dads, when was the last time you…

…put your arm around your pre-teen or teenage son and talked to him about sex?  When was the first time you did?  Has there been a first?

Have you warned him about the utter depravity and devastation of pornography lately?

Have you assured him that sex was God’s idea, that it’s beautiful and wonderful, so long as it’s experienced within the God-given confines, marriage?

If you haven’t, you really should.   read more

Introducing New City Catechsim

If you missed this week’s Sunday School class here’s an abbreviated version of what Pastor Sean covered.  Make sure and read to the end because there’s something you need to do!

read more