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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Not Who Is, But Will You Be My Neighbour?

abdayneighb2blogWhen the Pharisee tried to justify himself before Jesus, by asking ‘who is my neighbor?’, he was trying to limit the scope of his responsibilities. Jesus’ answer expanded the 'pharisee in us all limitations' to ‘anyone that we are proximate to’. But the fully expounded, lived out lesson of this encounter with Jesus is really found in a children’s TV show host I had never even heard of until a few weeks ago, called Fred Rogers.

New, Big Screen (Sony) Film About a Christian TV show for Kids

I enjoy watching Tom Hanks, so I read up on his latest movie release in the paper, called ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’. Nothing about the picture of him in a daggy red cardigan and glasses made me think this movie would be such a treat. Tom Hanks plays the Presbyterian minister who in the 1970’s started a TV show in the United States for young kids (preschool and up?) to equip them for life’s challenges and show them their true value from God.

Fred Rogers started the show in a local, free to air TV station that gradually grew to be a much loved and later lampooned, childhood TV classic across the United States. The production values weren’t high, the sets were colourful but very simple, the puppets were elementary but effective. Fred wrote his own scripts, songs and directed and produced the show. Nuts! I think they ended up filming almost a 1000 episodes. I mean it’s staggering and yet, in Australia, we’ve never heard of him.

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Never Never Again

hatrnettcanyonblogYoungest daughter: “This is the worst day of my life!”

Ever since my kids were born I’ve wanted to take them into the wild on an expedition through Tasmania’s wilderness. Before they become adolescents and shoot off in all directions, my wife and I made the stretch to skill up, beg and borrow gear and entice our kids on a 7 day walk through the central highlands.

Why you might ask? If this might not be something they really want to do?

First, it’s really about appreciating each other. It’s about appreciating God’s creation and being immersed in it, screen free as a family.

Second, who ever thinks kids know best has given away too much ground.

Where will resilience, resourcefulness, kindness and positivity come from if all they have is experiences within their comfort zones?

When I surf and catch a wave, there’s nothing else in your mind. You are immersed in the act of balance and surviving a moving wall of water. A trip into the wild means we are all immersed in one moment of focused survival and enjoyment. I want us all on ‘that’ wave, together.

So why did my youngest scream, ‘I hate this; it’s the worst day of my life!’? Read on…

Day 4: Du Cane Hut to Hartnett Falls to Junction Lake via The Never Never (8 hours, 7.5 km)

The idea of joining the magnificence of two very special parks, namely the Overland Track and Walls of Jerusalem together sounded like an awesome odyssey, but the shortest way of achieving it is via an isolated valley, named The Never Never.

I read one or two blogs about people’s experience on the Never Never but there was precious little information out there. Chapman’s book was helpful but brief and in my opinion grossly underestimates the time it takes to travel the 5 or 6 kilometres.

We travelled the less popular direction, namely from the overland track to the Mersey valley. Most people seem to tackle it from Junction lake and above Clarke Falls you will find a walkers intention book inside a steel box, though as with all the walker intention books that we found on our trek, the pages are full and there’s no-where to write your journey’s intention. Coming our direction, there’s no walker intention book and most people will look at you funny for taking your pack down to the falls. There is a bare area just above the falls where we changed for a swim before heading off into the Never Never...

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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?


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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