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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What does a child carrying a cross look like?

chocbar-thibault-penin-785423-blogDon’t go there, right?

Jesus welcomed the little children and blessed them…he didn’t mention a cross bearing life for them.

Children are presented by Jesus as ‘model’ disciples because they are the readiest to receive the kingdom of God.

It’s one of the main reasons I do what I do. I spend time trying to work out ways of making the good news accessible to kids, because Jesus says they’re ready to come in. You can spend your ministry digging holes in concrete or you can spend it scooping out rich, fruit bearing soil. I knew where I wanted to be the moment, I had my first child.

A moment of surrender

But that moment of birth I remember also wanting to carry them in my hand forever, not letting their feet touch the ground. All they’d have to do is call.

“Call and he will command his angels to not let your feet touch the ground’.

Makes you think about our heavenly Father, letting go and the Son willingly facing the rejection and harm that was necessary to redeem our world.

None of us wants to think of them carrying a cross…instead we like to show them a baby Jesus in a manger or lead them to faith in a Jesus who will wrap his arms around them and bless them like in Mark 10.

Jesus welcomes and commends the kids as the ‘ultimate disciple’…but every disciple, must pick up his or her cross and follow their Lord. Otherwise, they are not a disciple, just an acquaintance.

We might want to protect them, feed them all the positives, encourage them to read the Bible, pray and be kind but who wants to talk to them about rejection, failure, even persecution?

What might this look like?

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Are you raising a Charlie Bucket Christian?

willywonka-naomi-tamar-blogEvery kid wants a golden ticket, none of us want a cross.

Remember Charlie and the Chocolate factory?

Poor kid finds the last golden ticket and leaps out of poverty into unfathomable riches after becoming the last kid to remain on the crazy visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

How to short change your kids

Sometimes, I think we present the good news about Jesus to kids a bit like this.

Believe in Jesus and you’ll have eternal life. True right?

A golden ticket to heaven and everlasting life.

But we make no mention of the gap, called ‘your life until then’ and what shape that will have.

We don’t mean to harm our kids.

We certainly don’t intend to deceive.

We don’t want to worry them.

But perhaps we’re kidding ourselves too?

If we were into ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ we just might be tempted to leave it that way. Just sell the ‘good bits’ and hide the ‘bad’.

Some churches do just that.

Look at what Jesus can do for you…the good life, the good wife, the good business, house…oh and did I mention, the icing on the cake…everlasting life.

Jesus doesn’t sugar coat it…

Jesus makes no such omissions.

Check it out, from Luke’s gospel

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” Luke 9:23

This was straight after warning his disciples that he was heading to Jerusalem to be betrayed, beaten, killed and three days later, rise. And his warning came straight after the disciples lauded him as ‘THE Christ’, the biggest success story ever!

The Christians ‘gap’ year

Our ‘gap year’ between becoming a Christian and experiencing the eternal life is described as ‘cross bearing’. Rejection. Failure. Opposition.

So how are we bearing it?

Are we expecting it to be heavy? Are we expecting it to be there at all…the cross, now in our gap year before heaven arrives?

We may not like the sound of it. But it helps a lot if we can be aware of it, no, accept it…expect it.

Still bangin’ on about rejection, Stephen!??

Last blog post I told you I was on the hunt for more rejection!

And I gave us all good reasons to get used to it, not just the creative ones but parents, homeschoolers and ministry leaders.

We need to see it as part of our journey forward.

Christ, he gives it to us even straighter…you wanna be like me…you wanna be Christian

Then see this big heavy wooden thing I’m dragging…there’s one over there for you.

That’s when we realise, ‘I should expect opposition’

I should expect it to be tough to do things differently, Christianly.


If I parent so my kids don’t just go with the flow…I’m bearing a cross and it will weigh something!

If I try and tackle new opportunities in ministry or just keep persevering with people who don’t seem to be listening…then that’s the cross, the shameful, you’re a loser, why don’t you give up…it’s never going to grow…cross you bear.

That’s the rejection, the failure that we should welcome. Let it come.

Not in a vainglorious way. Not in a masochistic way. It would be great if we didn’t have to bear the cross. But Christ had to, for good reason and we’re not yet ‘bodily’ with him, so there’s no escaping it.

It’s not easy, or nice. It sucks actually.

But remember…after 3 days its all going to get a whole lot better.

You won’t earn your eternal life or ticket to heaven doing it.

But it will declare your faith in Jesus who paid the way for you to be welcomed there.

So, it’s 2019 and this is my third ‘new year’s resolution’ post for you…I think I’m ready to move forward and get stuck in…following the Lord, bearing my cross. Well, at least getting on with life, knowing it is a cross bearing one, right.

How about you?

What’s your cross?

And…are you ready to bear it?

We need each other…so let’s not carry it alone…that’s why we have the church.

We get to carry each other.

Share this post today!


Image: Naomi tamar on unsplash

Why you should aim for more rejection in 2019

rejection-cristian-newman-141875-unsplashblogSomething has been holding me back.

It’s hard to put my finger on it.

Last year I avoided setting too many goals.

I guess I didn’t want to disappoint myself.

‘Perhaps’, I think I thought, ‘if I aim somewhere, I won’t miss by too much’.

And then another year screamed past and although a lot of good stuff happened, I was left feeling like a failure.

‘You are still are miles from where you want to be, dude! What up?’

Maybe you know the feeling too.

Perhaps you’ve been working hard, around the home, on the family, running a homeschool or beavering about a kid’s church ministry or a school chaplaincy role but you’ve been meandering along, hoping something will happen or ‘click’ amongst all the grit and grind.

Oh, I’m sure you’re doing good stuff…but is it ticking your boxes…is it what you dreamt? Have you peaked?

No way!

The thing is, if you have a vision, as I do…or even a set of targets you’d like to reach then what is stopping you from pursuing it and realizing?

Why was I content to let 2018…just be?

Well, perhaps you’re tired, pooped. Running out of steam. Yep. A big shout out to you too!

But why are we tired? Losing enthusiasm for our dream?

That’s what bugged me all year.

And now I have found a solution...

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Kids ‘outdo’ adults on NY resolutions

sydney-harb-firework-blogIt’s New Year’s Eve and we’re sitting around the restaurant table, playing simple improv theatre games to pass the time while waiting for our meals to arrive. Then one of our kids starts thinking about 2019, and for once, perhaps the very first time, we start talking about what we what to keep and what we want to be different in 2019.

I’m astonished when one of the kids shares that their goal is to keep inviting their friends to youth group, hoping some will come regularly, others to step up into youth church as well.


 It wasn’t her only goal, there were other ambitions as well, but it was a great reminder of what’s really important in life…

...'from the mouth of babes'…right?

My goals were far less grand.

Things like cracking on with a video series for preschool age kids. It’s been on the back burner for a while, breaking my heart…so in 2019 I want to get back on the horse and give it more than just a kick start.

Often people have personal well-being or health goals like:

‘I want to quit smoking’, others ‘alcohol’.

What about turning away from specific sin?

What about quitting gossip, slander, covetousness, non-contentment, jealousy, anger, hatred?

How often do we target our character, our godliness?

If only to be a sporting hero, we’d wash that sin away and rebrand overnight.

Australia’s summer has been rocked by the poor performance of our national cricket team against a top Indian line up. One of the main reasons for our lack luster batting has been the loss of our two best batsmen, Smith and Warner. They were banned from playing for 1 and 2 years respectively for ‘cheating’; scuffing the cricket ball up with some sandpaper to try and win advantage against South Africa.

But now, nearly one year later, out they come with TV ads telling us they want to ‘take responsibility’ and ‘come back better than before’…all the while earning lucrative sponsorship money through the advert!

I never knew repentance could be so profitable.

For most of us, it’s just hard slog.

We may not be forgiven by those we’ve hurt.

Our progress may not be noted.

We don’t have a PR machine to spin us into the people we want others to believe we have become.

I don’t normally set New Year’s Resolutions, how about you?


Goals are different.

Without aiming for something, we’re bound to hit our target, right? i.e. nothing.

I don’t want to hit nothing…do you?

Last year I didn’t put much thought into it. I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t set myself any specific targets. Maybe I just didn’t feel enough control over my circumstances to set concrete goals. I remember making that decision not to make a decision all through 2018 and regretted it.

We still did good things.

For example, Anton did a new devotion series in James, then we even revisited it with your help and tweaked it up a few notches, now we’re going to expand on it and take it up few more notches. It’s exciting, teaching kids the Bible verse by verse. Wow!

But in retrospect, I’d rather set some specific goals for 2019 and reach for them, risking the disappointment of missing those targets, than not.

Without specific targets, I found myself getting business done, but without the focus, pressure or edge needed to drive me.

So, this year, I decided ‘enough of that’.

Would you like to join me?

Here are some ideas or goal areas for you to mull over before 2019 gets too far underway:

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3 Recent Threats To Kids' Freedom Parents Can’t Ignore

roxanne-desgagnesice sheetsgimpWhen the temperature plummets or suddenly spikes, it’s the small talk of the day, right?

‘What is this, winter in the middle of summer?’

‘I know it’s crazy!’

But when the temperature just rises a little, over time…well that’s manageable and no fodder for small talk. You’d be a right bore to make small talk with the mums at the school drop off about how evenly the temperature is rising! What our bodies do is adjust to the rise in temperature and accept the new conditions.

What’s this all got to do with raising kids to be godly or being purposeful in our ministry to kids?

Our western, democratic societies are gradually raising the heat against Christianity and it’s easy for us to comfortably adapt, lower our expectations and relinquish our space to others who speak louder.

We are not seeing outrageous, sudden spikes in persecution against Christ in our societies, but we are seeing a slower, gradual shrinking of the breathing space of Christ and his church in those societies.

I’ve got three examples in the past week that have had media coverage in Australia and which directly affect our kids.

  1. Principals wanting to remove Religion from high schools
  2. Primary School Principals removing the Scripture ‘default’ and instead requiring parents to choose between Scripture, Ethics or nothing upon enrolment
  3. Government seeking to pass legislation that will prevent Christian schools from discriminating over who they employ = Christian schools won’t be able to reject gay teachers.

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Anton's Christmas Sticker Stories Set Standard for Your Ministry

visitor overviewMost 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 occupied during the service?

What if you work at a school and you want a fun packed activity that will explore the Christmas message with zero preparation for you to do?

Or maybe you’re a mum or dad, just looking for a new way to ‘do the Christmas story’ at home?

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

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.

Four different story lines, two age versions

 Plus, there’s four different story lines to choose from and two different age groups, before school (3-5-year old’s) and school age (6-12-year old’s) sticker stories.

Don't miss out, make Christmas super easy and set the standard high!

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How long before your kids lose interest in the Bible?

bored-gonzalo-arnaiz-129020-unsplashblogAsk yourself:

If I gave my kids (or the kids I teach) a short passage of Scripture, would they have the skills to interpret the passage?

Or would they cherry pick the bits that make sense or they like most?

Cherry picker, right?!

Kids love reading the Bible, but their early enthusiasm will soon be lost if they can’t see the Bible’s relevance for their lives. Unless they can learn how to link ideas in a passage together and break out beyond the straight narratives they’ve become familiar with, they’ll grow bored and miss God’s purpose for them.

But we're not giving up right?

Kids can kick goals for Jesus!

Kids can make a difference in the world, in their families, in their schools if they believe God’s word is relevant to their daily walk.

So, how do we make sure they ‘grow into God’s word’? Not grow out of it!

Why your kid needs to interpret the Bible, verse by verse, for themselves.

Initially stories and lessons from the Scriptures will be fine but as they grow toward their teens, they’ll need more ‘meat on the bone’. Actually, they’ll need to know how to find the bones of Scripture, link them together and what they mean for our daily lives.

Unless they learn to read and interpret the Bible for themselves it will soon become a fog of disconnected, random ideas that don’t clearly seem relevant to their daily lives.

Then, it’s another young life, ineffective and unproductive in the Lord.

Or worse, a ‘I don’t want to go to church anymore’, teenager.

The old parable stands true for personal Bible reading:

Give a person a fish and they’ll be fed for a day. Show a person how to fish and they can feed themselves for life.

Yet most kid’s ministries, most families, just give their kids a fish. We fail to teach them ‘how to catch a fish’ or ‘how to interpret the Bible, verse by verse, for themselves.

Give a child a Bible story and they’ll be fed for a day. Show a child how to interpret a passage of Bible verses and they can feed themselves for life!

I’m here to help guys, so reach out…or better try out my latest work…FREE

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From Bored to Brave: Reigniting Spiritual Growth in 9-12 y.o.’s One Verse At A Time

unpollutedpicFBthumbAre your older kids bored by the Bible?

Is their faith hitting a plateau or worse, heading for a nose dive?

What about the older kids you lead at kids church or school?

Let’s face it, when they’re younger, kids’ picture Bibles and lessons about key characters are fine. But once they hit about 10 years of age…many kids start disengaging and as parents or leaders we wonder when the Bible might again make an impact on how they live. Or worse, we worry that they’re moving away from the Lord as they hit their teens.

What we need to do is move our kids from just recalling the same old disconnected set of Bible stories and teach them, slowly, how to understand the relationship between verses so that God’s word can impact their daily walk with Him.

My wife and I wanted our kids to continue growing in Christ, loving His word and learning how to interpret it for themselves. But nothing out there existed that did this in a way that was fun and age appropriate...

For the past 10 years I’ve performed live shows teaching the Bible to kids in Australia called Anton’s Antics. Recently, with my own kids I’ve been experimenting with a unique video devotion format that teaches older kids, verse by verse from the Scriptures. That’s right, verse after verse…it’s pretty cool!

Rather than trying to solve big questions, big topics like I had been doing with my shows, I decided to zero in on the 'daily walk' and routine of reading the Scriptures one verse at a time. I began experimenting, doodling on an iPad, explaining small chunks of Scripture together with my crazy friend, Anton. So far, we've covered 12 verses of the letter of James using 5 videos! My kids got heaps out of it, but I'd love to know how your kids respond. 

Here’s your chance to put an end to all those times you sighed thinking about trying to read the Bible with your older kids but felt out of your depth.

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A fresh take on Christmas without breaking the budget

Want to get kids ‘hands on’ with a fresh take on the Christmas story without breaking the budget? 

Anton’s Antics has four different mini-stories with stickers that take a fresh look on the Christmas narratives. Each page is packed with activities like code breakers, join the dots and mazes. There are also 2 versions of each story to cater to different age abilities, school ages (6-12 years old) and before school ages (3-5 years old). Kids absolutely love these and once completed they become a complete story they can keep and re-read at home. Best of all, kids love the stickers because, first, kids love stickers but also because they must put them carefully into the story for it to be complete. Xmas-2015-Before school-shop

Where do Anton’s Sticker Stories get used?

Often the stories get used in schools and churches, so that’s why we put them into packs of 25.


School’s ministries in Australia use them for Scripture classes, often as a gift from their teachers.

Sometimes school chaplains will buy them to give to the kids they’ve been ministering to all year.


Churches use them for Christmas services and holiday lessons when the leadership team might be taking a break. Anton’s Sticker Stories make awesome stand-alone lessons, especially when you’re on a tight crew.

Often at major events churches will buy hundreds and even thousands of the stories to give away to families or kids from the general public. This way the good news can be put into the hands of kids who are at an event and will complete the sticker story at home later.


If you’re looking for an inexpensive, high quality, Bible focused, fun gift for your kids then Anton’s Sticker Stories are impossible to beat. You can purchase a range of the stories in packs of 6 for under $10.

Make your selection today from Anton’s store.

Sold in packs of 25 for churches and schools and look out for the mixed ‘Devotion packs’ of 6 for families.

Here’s the different titles to look out for and remember to choose correctly from either ‘before school’ or ‘school aged’ packs.

Shepherd and the King – follows the story of King David, the shepherds and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem

Who’s For You? – follows the edict of Caesar Augustus and Mary and Joseph’s travel out of Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Star Struck (School age out of print) – follows the journey of the wise men to follow the King’s star to Jerusalem and then Bethlehem.

The Visitor – follows the announcement of the long-awaited king by the angel to Joseph

Don’t leave it, make your selection and get your order in today before it’s too late!

Contact me for international shipping as the store only includes shipping in Australia

Ready for Christmas?

Christmaskidchris-benson-489184-unsplashblogDo you want to keep Jesus front and centre this Christmas?

Would you like some cool gift ideas that will deepen your kids love for Jesus?

Are you keen to get your hands on some resources that will save your church a lot of hassle making it easier to reach the lost this Christmas?


Then let me show you four amazing ways that Anton can make your Christmas hassle free and completely brilliant…

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