Purposeful Parenting

Going for Broke

We all want was is best for our kids but what does purposeful parenting look like in practice?

Follow the creator of Anton’s Antics’ as he negotiates the challenges of being a parent.

“The blog's slogan started off as a joke between my wife and I, as it can be tough making ends meet and parenting is not easy. I want to hear Jesus say ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ with what He has entrusted to me.  We have to go for broke don’t we?

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How Is There Peace On Earth? Anton's Christmas Message

onfiremarkus-spiske-cUhssb9roaU-unsplashDrought. It hasn’t rained for as long as I can remember.

Catastrophic bushfires. Sydney is smothered in smoke like I’ve never seen before.

At the same time some would say we are moving forward, socially, morally, advancing the human rights of the individual

We have:

-Looser laws for abortion in NSW.

-Easier assisted death in Western Australia.

-Same Sex Marriage across the country.

-An increasing mantra of tolerance for all, yet at the same time we see religious freedom under clear and present threat

The oxygen of Christians and others of faith is being constantly questioned, constrained and denied.

Freedom is being violated.

Free speech strangled.

Speech that is deemed 'harmful' is to be removed and denied in the name of tolerance.

But the definition of what is harmful and what is fair game is very slippery.

Harmful because I disagree with it?

Harmful because it calls into questions my moral choices?

It is so one way.

The atheists can say Christians are morons or their books are nothing but fairy tales

Netflix can screen a gay Jesus.

Star Wars can show a lesbian kiss.

That’s all fine, though it is harmful and hurtful to people of faith.

But you can’t quote a Bible verse saying the sexually immoral, thieves, liars and homosexuals will go to hell unless they repent.

Some say that Christianity has long been in ascendancy and its time for the others to rule.

Hardly a sensible response, yet understandable.

When you hear things like that it is clear we are not progressing, we are not evolving anywhere.

I’ve never felt more unwelcome, even ‘at war’ in my own country.

Prince of peace?

So how does the birth of Jesus, the ‘prince of peace’, bring peace on earth?

‘We hear it every Christmas time but hope and history won’t rhyme…’

‘Peace to all men’

Environmental chaos

World environment is in disarray because of our breach with God.

We stepped out of his authority and made ourselves God. We built our tower and now the foundations are crumbling under our feet as we cling to a few bricks because we think they still offer some form of security in our short life spans.

The environmental havoc we see around us, from polluted oceans to raging bushfires and hurricanes, tell us all is not well under our rule. We have made a hash of ruling the world.

While it is foolish to tie specific events of disaster to specific ‘sins’ as Israel Folau recently did, because we don’t know all of God’s reasons for permitting such events and Jesus himself refuses to so, we can say that all our problems, sickness, environmental catastrophes do stem from our ‘general sin’ of turning our backs on God, making ourselves equal with God.

Restoring order

Significantly the arrival of Jesus, the first Christmas, announces a human king’s ascent to a throne equal but also approved and ordered by God.

His throne is not alien to us, for he is fully human.

His throne does not usurp God, like ours does, for he is fully God and God has appointed him through his resurrection from the dead.

His appointment is not wrought through vile arrogance as ours has been. Instead his appointment to the throne is through self-effacing, humility and obedience rather than rebellion against God.

A representative who accurately bears our image to God and God to us.

A king who removes our personal and collective offence and guilt before God.

A king who restores the world as it should be, aligned under God, under the feet of his appointed servant.

We share the blessing of this restored world when we lose our arrogance and come under Christ’s rule.

Reconciled to God, we begin to rule through the power of Jesus, over disorder and death.

Peace UNDER the king

We show this rule in godliness, servanthood and even care for the environment.

Christians should be leading stewards of the earth’s resources

We should be green

We value the world because it is God’s world and we are given the responsibility to care for it.

We affirm the world still, because the prince of peace has come who affirms the world.

But our hope isn’t in this world.

Our hope is in a new heaven and new earth.

Jesus is the promise, his Spirit the down payment that it will come.

So, we look forward to a complete peace.

A restored and remade world.

Not yet...but it's started

What we can expect now is progress and failures.

Wars and rumours of wars.

But peace to all men comes from men and women of all nations accepting this king, Jesus as their king.

Then go down the guns and the hate.

Collaboration and service replace competition and self- interest.

Many nations bleed into one, honouring each other and considering one another more important because of the love God has modelled to them in Christ their king.

Wars cease.

Personal grievances are dropped.

Wisdom to care for the environment finds a common ground for action, across borders.

So, preach that good news, preach the king this Christmas so many more might know that true, deep and lasting peace of Christ Jesus.

 

Merry Christmas, from Anton!

[Parents] Looking for a stocking stuffer with spiritual merit?

Xmas-2013-schooler-web2Wouldn’t it be great to have something small you could add to your kids Christmas booty that would highlight the true significance of Christmas, but also be fun for them to do?

What about a car travel boredom breaker or holiday afternoon, parent chill time, kids do by themselves, activity that will reinforce the true Christmas message?

Yes?

Then get Christmas crackling with these beauties:

Kids love stickers and Anton’s got the Christmas accounts covered!

I’ve put together an assortment of Christmas and Easter Sticker stories into inexpensive ‘family devotion’ packs for both under 5’s and 6-12 year olds.

Anton’s family devotion packs include 6 sticker stories in each pack that really work, kids love them…here’s why:

Kids love stickers

Kids love story

Kids love thoughtful activities…not random ones

Anton’s Sticker Stories are:

  • compact,
  • travel light
  • pack a generous punch of great Bible teaching through fun activities
  • include wonderful artwork,
  • rhyming story and best of all,
  • full colour stickers!

 

Deluxe combo

Want to add dollop of fun with Anton?

Combine Anton’s comprehensive Lost and Found DVD with a pack of both before and school age family devotion sticker story packs! Check out the deluxe pack now

 

Four Sticker Stories, two age groups

I’ve got you covered with three sticker story lines relevant to Christmas and Easter in each pack. This means, you’re set for Chrissy and Easter in one purchase!

Each story line also has versions that suit:

  1. school age (6-12 years) and - School Age Family Devotions Pack
  2. before school age children (3-5 years), Before School Age Family Devotions Pack

That’s why there are two different packs, one for before school and one for school age kids.

So that you can be confident you’re not covering the same old territory, I’ve created each Christmas (and Easter) sticker story from different moments in the Christmas (or Easter) event:

Here's the four story lines available for Christmas:

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How to delight kids at Christmas services without breaking the budget

Christmaskidchris-benson-489184-unsplashblogI’m guessing that like most churches, you’ll be having the kids in with mum and dad during the Christmas services. None of us want them to be bored, but even with a few ‘kiddy’ related spots or songs, any service can seem like an eternity to kids while the presents are sitting untouched at home.

How to delight kids at Christmas services without breaking the budget

What if we could delight kids at Christmas with the real Christmas story pitched at their level and neatly packaged with fun activities to keep them engaged.

Imagine if you didn’t have to lift a finger and could give them a self-directed lesson, they can do in church that is Biblically focused and packed with fun activities including full colour stickers?

I’m Stephen Shearsby the creator of Anton’s Antics, Gospel Shows for Children and Families and over the past 7 years I’ve been writing and publishing sticker stories to make Christmas a breeze for Christian ministries.

Solving the Christmas puzzle for kids

You see, one day a person came to me with a problem...

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How do I know if this is the right person to share the gospel at our Christmas event?

dancarols2A friend I caught up with recently while I was seeing U2 in Brisbane asked me whether I’d consider working under another act, another banner, other than on my own. He figured, maybe I’d get more work.

I guess you could say he was asking, in round-about way, ‘is there anything about your shows that marks them out above others?’

Well, I hope you don’t think I’m blowing my own trumpet too much here; I was hoping you might be cool and just pause and share with me an exceedingly joyful moment I had last week? The moment when someone ‘gets’ what you do.

When they see more than a great show. When they recognise you’ve said the right things, but much more than that. You’ve followed the Bible’s text closely but in such a creative way that the kids have felt the message, identified with the people in the story and even chosen (ideally) who they want to be!

What sets Anton apart from other acts

I stood afterward speaking with the co-ordinator for the in-school event and listened to her explain why she loved Anton’s Antics’ “philosophy”.

With her permission I’ve repeated a review she later wrote for me below:

“Anton did an excellent job at our SRE Christmas assembly.

The story of Christmas was taught well using drawings and very funny Anton with his antics.

What I really appreciated was the commitment Stephen has to teaching the truth of the Bible and helping the kids to engage by identifying with the characters in the Bible story.  The children were not just entertained but also taught well through one very talented man and three unique characters” Robyn Garlick, Narwee Baptist Church Children’s Pastor.

 I highlighted the latter part because it is a lovely complement and shows to me that the person really ‘gets’ the philosophy behind Anton’s shows.

Her comments also justify why I said ‘no’ to my friend in Brisbane and prefer to stand alone rather than work under another banner.

Those comments also are the secret to why you need to pay careful attention to who and how you go about choosing someone to speak or perform at your next event

Here’s the secret sauce:

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Why hasn’t Bono Found What He’s Looking for Yet?

u2streetsgimpOne of my long time U2 buddies has finally caved in and decided to ditch the seats and bring his kids to the mosh with us for Sydney’s second concert. We make the top 500 without trying as there is less demand for the second show and get an early entry to the stadium floor giving us our best spot yet, right near the ramp and behind the band’s b-stage.

I’m one person behind the rail where a girl from France is decked out in cowboy hat and jacket decorated to celebrate the ‘Larry Mullen Jnr Band’.

I say to her ‘tonight, you’re going to get some sticks from Larry’ and within 30 minutes Larry’s drum tech pops his head over the rail, taps her on the head and passes her a set of new sticks!

My wife later shows me a video of the band meeting fans in Auckland earlier in the tour and there she is again, getting Bono to tattoo her arm with his signature…the things you have to do get on their radar.

I can’t see how U2 are going to top last night’s concert but there is hope when Bono says ‘last night was an epic night of rock ’n roll, but we we’re just warming up’ after New Year’s Day.

Larry throws me a stick from the b-stage
U2 finally swap out ‘Angel of Harlem’ for ‘Desire’ after the Joshua Tree is finished tonight and it gets a raucous reception. The band stand tightly together to play it on the b-stage; clearly this track is not as familiar, but they play it fine.

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8 Cracking Christmas Sticker Stories for Kids Set Standard for Your Ministry

Xmas-2012-schooler-webwithpencilsblogMost kids sit in church on Christmas day next to their parents, itching to get back to their presents. But what if your church could give them a mini-story with stickers and activities that would teach them about the significance of Christmas and keep them delightfully occupied during the service?

Do you have a small team and are your resources a bit thin around Christmas time?

Or do you have a large event and you want to give each child a meaningful and Biblical Christmas gift?

Imagine if you didn’t have to lift a finger and could give them a self-directed lesson, they can do in church or at home that is Biblically focused and packed with fun activities including full colour stickers?

Whether its your church, school or home, Anton's Sticker Stories raises the bar on the ministry to your kids this Christmas

 Anton's got you covered with four sticker story lines to choose from. Each story line also has versions that suit school age (6-12 years) and before school age children (3-5 years). That’s eight sticker story versions that cover most parts of the Christmas story, four stories, two age groups for each.

But time is getting short, you really must order Anton’s Amazing Christmas Sticker Stories NOW!

What makes Anton's Sticker Stories so good?

Anton’s Antics sets the standard for superior kid’s resources.

  • First, there's the beautiful stickers – kids love them!
  • Second, there's the incredible quality of the illustrations
  • Third, there's the way each story is packed with a variety of activities on each page and…
  • Drum roll…there's the fresh way each sticker story teaches the Christmas story, while remaining Bible focused.

If you haven’t ordered your bundle of sticker stories this Christmas from Anton’s Antics, you better get cracking…there’s only a few weeks till Christmas!

Anton’s Sticker Stories set the bench mark for simplicity yet depth of content, cost effectiveness and most importantly, kid’s approval rating!

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Bono’s Prayer is Answered in Sydney

u2syd1withwithoutgimpI sit with fans from around the world, some of whom are seeing every show on this tour and speak very little English. What makes them come back, queuing in the Brisbane humidity, the Melbourne chill, Adelaide heat and Sydney rain, I ask. The answer is varied but there’s a clear, common thread of how the band speaks about and for life, what glues us together as human beings.

Fans will often say, there is a spiritual element to the show, that a U2 concert is a spiritual experience. People feed off it like a drug, no-one leaves a U2 concert angry, for a moment they search for a ‘better self’.

In the Name of Love

I remember seeing Bono sing for the first time on television when I was about 14. It was a commercial for a singles compilation of mixed artists.  U2’s contribution was Pride in the Name of Love, the voice over calling it ‘the biggy from U2’. And it was. Still is.

I think if any song captures a band, it’s probably that single.

Sure, there’d be no Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby or anything more than ‘I Will Follow’, without Edge’s spiritual breakthrough on Sunday Bloody Sunday. That song was not just a great single, but a door into a large, large house; a copious canon that is celebrated in three inspiring acts of the Joshua Tree Anniversary Tour.

I wasn’t convinced by the concept of the Joshua Tree Anniversay show before I went; nor overly excited by the giant screen and high stage as it didn’t really advance the artform of stadium rock concerts beyond what U2 had already achieved on Popmart or Vertigo tours. I bought tickets because I had faith in the band to not turn up without the goods; I trusted them to be the amazing live act, they’ve always been. They didn’t disappoint.

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Let Bono Take You to Church in the City of Churches

streets1Gallagher is trying to be funny and reinforcing his typecast playfully by pronouncing the city A-delaide and Adel-aide and saying “what the f*%!@ are we doin’ down here?” We hear both a notable uneasiness and knowing giggle from the third full stadium crowd.


The former Oasis lead singer is playing support act to U2 down under with his ‘High Flying Birds’.


Oasis were pretty big a while back and people are keen to hear some of their songs, so Noel says, ‘Any Oasis fans here?’ A show of hands demonstrates a lot of people on the field are indeed fans. ‘Yeah…not bad…you love that s*^# don’t you!? Here’s a one for you’, and then he plays another high-flying bird number just to tease them.


Eventually we do get two big tracks from him, ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, which are really well received by the crowd.


Waiting for Bono
Before the show we stand with about 100 fans at the loading dock entry ramp to the Adelaide Oval as U2 pull up and pop out of their black vans and do a quick ‘meet and greet’. There’s a guy with a tattooed thigh, showing off his artwork of Bono from the Rattle and Hum cover art, revealing a little bit too much info in the groin area. Not sure if that will draw them over to him or drive them further away!

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Bono’s favourite word: Joshua Tree Moves To Melbourne

larrydrumminggimp‘Our prayer for tonight is for an epic night of rock ‘n roll’

says Bono as U2 commence playing ‘Bad’, the fourth song in their opening, ‘entrée’ to the Joshua Tree, set.

It becomes clear that this band needs no gimmicks nor high tech hardware to take on a stadium of 40,000 people as they open, pub rock style, by themselves on the b-stage that is shaped in the form of a Joshua Tree and play a blistering roll of pre-Joshua Tree hits including Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Year’s Day and Pride In The Name Of Love.

But that was later, much later, after a day getting to Melbourne and queuing up for hours to get an amazing position just behind Larry’s drumkit.

The Animal Farm

Our plane is delayed so we land a little later than planned in Melbourne. One of our friends has already been to the stadium earlier in the morning to check out the general admission queue.

Seems we are not ‘in’ on the latest system of getting a place close to the front of the field. She’s got some wristband on her already, numbered at 448. She says to come straight to the stadium. So, instead of heading to our hotel we get an Uber straight to the stadium to find out what this is all about. When we arrive a security, person is handing out wristbands to 3 people, she looks at us and says, ‘these are the last three’; 498, 499, 500. We are 501 and 502.

Apparently, Stadium staff are cooperating with a fan led system of numbering that ensures those who are in the know and turn up at designated ‘roll call times’ will get an early entry to the field and front rows position.

Annoyed? Disappointed? Yes.

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Thankful for Common Grace: U2's Joshua Tree Buds in Brisbane

adamsigns1‘Here we are! Here you still are!’ celebrates Bono as the band and crowd jointly spin off the incredible energy generated by the opening track of the Joshua Tree, ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’.

I’m up in Brisbane to catch the first show of the Australian leg with a mate of mine who lives here.

I thought I’d pause all the Anton stuff for a week or two and share with y’all something that is dear to me.

These boys are a bit like family; under my bed and in my ears for years. So, when family comes to town, I like to hang out for a bit.

Thanks to all my close family who’ve given me birthday gifts that I never spent (until now)!

What do I want to share with you about the 30th Anniversary Joshua Tree tour from U2?

Thankfulness

If there’s one thing that shone through on U2’s first date in Australia for almost 10 years, it’s the high spirits of thankfulness.

You might think it’s easy to be thankful being a Rockstar.

But their thanks are about little things and big things.

Common grace.

Blessings not just to the ones who kneel.

With both NSW and Queensland on ‘Catastrophic’ fire alerts and both states experiencing incredibly hot conditions, there were touching moments where the band thanked and dedicated ‘Bad’ to the fire fighters ‘keeping us all alive’. Bono was in fine form with snippets of Midnight Oils ‘Beds are Burning’ no sarcasm intended.

Makes you wonder 'how can we be more publicly thankful and lead our kids in thanks for the common graces that abound?'

The actual show (seen from the nosebleed cheapy seats, 3 rows from the back) was a bonus for me.

Big highlight – Edge and Adam sign my pics

The highlight was hanging out with about 20 fans before sound check and actually getting to meet Edge and Adam and have them autograph a few items for me. I know it will sound dumb, but after more than 30 years, its surreal to actually be standing opposite them and eyeballing each other. I have a photo of Adam signing a picture for me and you can see his minder watching my hands very carefully!

So, I won’t say it was an easy moment for me…tense. You don’t want to be uncool. You don’t want to pinch more than your share. You don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. You really over think these moments. I’m sure they find it all a bit awkward in other ways. There are guys here with me from all over the world. People who travel from Japan, Ireland, the US and see just about every show they do. So, I am small fry and not by any measure a really devoted fan; just thought you should get some perspective!

Okay, now the sound wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but it is a footy field and we did have the cheapest seats in the house. The band are in great form, ripping through songs like butter and hopefully the next shows, on the pitch, close to the band performing, will see us enjoying a sharper sound.

Let me in the sound!