We’ve got lots of time

Christmas is 43 days away, Christmas is coming… Eventually. We’ve got lots of time right?

Even though we have lots of time, for some reason Christmas always seems to creep up and surprise me and at some point I rush a little bit or just concede and let go of some of my plans and preparations. But not this year!

This year I’m going to start preparing my heart and my home early. I put up my Christmas Lights on Nov. 4 – when it was +5 in the evening. But don’t worry, we won’t plug them in and set the timer till Nov. 12 at the earliest. I’ve got my Christmas Devotional book, and I’m already brainstorming what kind of Christmas activities I’m going to do with my family.

The truth is, Christmas is going to be very different this year and this year, and this year we need Christmas more than every. Our world has been through a lot and it’s taken its toll. There’s a lot of brokenness all around us. But we don’t have to wait till Dec. 25 to celebrate the Good News that Jesus Changes lives forever. God sent His Son so that through his life, death, and resurrection, we can be forgiven, transformed, and made new!

How are you going to “Keep Christ in Christmas” And keep your eyes on Christ TODAY? “I don’t know” isn’t really a great answer. You can avoid Christmas fomo (fear of missing out) so here’s a few to get the ball rolling:

  • Stop by Kennedy’s Parable and pick up a devotional book, gift, or decorations. I have a few extra copies of Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul Tripp I’d love to give you
  • Start reading one of the Gospels a little each day, it’s OK if you read about Jesus birth even if it’s not Dec. 24 or 25. In fact, if you start now, you’ll likely get to the reason he came by Christmas Day.
  • Decorate your house intentionally in a way that points your family and your guests towards Jesus. Honestly, we don’t do Santa or Reindeer, but plaid is a must.
  • Embrace the people and activities in the Nativity rather than Santa’s workshop: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, Sheep, Wise Men, Stars and Bethlehem.
  • Download a free devotional
  • Make your own advent calendar (those cheep chocolate ones taste gross anyway)
  • Pray for your family and friends who don’t know the Good News yet. Pray every day!
  • Invite people to your home (abiding by the provinces guidelines of course)


Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Christmas is coming and many people make a point to attend church worship services and the Christmas Eve Candlelight service. 

There are many challenges people face at Christmas, but one practical thing is “What do I do with my kids?” At Lawson Heights Alliance, we invite our children into the worship for the first two songs every Sunday, and at Christmas and Christmas Eve, they get to join us for the whole service. Here are some tips that help:

  1. Start with your attitude and pray – you can do it! Remember the goal is to Worship God and Connect with others.
  2. Discuss expectations with you kids. I know that sounds like it’s asking a lot, but many children can help create realistic expectations. “When the pastor asks us to stand, what would be the respectful thing to do? Why do we stand?” “When the pastor is speaking, what are things we can do?”
  3. Get a drink and visit the restroom before entering the sanctuary – this may require you to be early. Bring some snacks and a colouring book.
  4. Help them fill out KidZone sermon notes or Activity Packs that are provided at the KZ table.
  5. Read the passage in their Bible. No one is going to judge you for reading the Bible to your children in a whisper during the service. 
  6. Sit near the front – seriously. There will be fewer distractions in front of your kids and they can see better.
  7. If your child wiggles or doesn’t sing, realize many adults do the same when it’s not their favourite song either.
  8. Explain anything that is unfamiliar, like songs and words they don’t understand. Say things like “Do you know what this song is about? Our God is so awesome, that he is the source of all wisdom, power and love!” “Do you know why we light advent candles – because we’re so excited that the celebration of Jesus’ birth is coming” “Do you know why we do this? Me neither, lets ask a friend after the service”
  9. Sing Christian songs at home with your kids and play them on Spotify or Youtube.
  10. Don’t reward them for what can be “normal” behaviours like listening and not being disruptive. A simple “thank you” and “well done” can go a long way.
  11. Oh yeah, there is no such thing as “Normal” and no kids are perfect! Some weeks will be a disaster, but some weeks will actually be worshipful and you’ll likely hear your kids talking about the sermon or singing the songs at home. 
  12. Be consistent with attendance and expectations, it will enable them to get into a groove – and worship God!

If you’ve tried all these things and they’re still restless, just remember that they are kids, have patience, relax. Real Christians are not judging you based on how well your children behave during a service. We are glad you are able to join us and we don’t mind a few disruptions. We love you. We need you. You can do it!


The First Noel

If you could discover what behaviour or practice has the biggest impact on influencing a child’s life, what would you do? Janna Magruder published the book Nothing Less – Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith – It is a survey of 2000 parents of young adults by Lifeway. In it she discovers the top ten influencers in children’s lives that develop them into mature believers.

What has the BIGGEST Impact
We leaned last week in my post that #4 on the list is listening primarily to Christian music.
#3 Child regularly served in church – notice it doesn’t limit this to parents who serve, but children who serve.
#2 Child regularly spent time in prayer
And #1 – Child regularly read their Bible while growing up.
So what do you think? Is it that big of a deal? If you ask any teacher, they will confirm that reading 20 minutes a day is the most important thing you can do at home with your children to help them succeed. This can be challenging because not every family has enough time to read for 20 minutes. So it comes down to one thing – will you make time? Will you read to your kids? Will you sit with them while they read? Will you invest in a Bible and Christian books that are consistent with his/her reading level.* A good Bible is cheeper than a family trip to McDonalds. If you don’t know which books and Bibles to buy, talk to me or your other Christian friends.
Some kids just don’t like reading. It’s a fight to get them to read. Here are some specific things you can intentionally do to help them though: 
#1 – Model good reading and prayer habits. It’s never too late to start.
#2 – Clear they’re busy schedule so they can develop their own good reading habits. Discover when the best time of the day will be to sit and read.
#3 – Avoid distractions and journal if that helps
#4 – Make it fun! Go shopping at Kennedy’s Parable and let them pick anything they want. Some kids like to have a reading chart.
#5 – Keep on keeping on. It might be frustrating, it might be difficult, but keep praying and trying. Not every kid is a reader and some kids have medical challenges that make it difficult, but you can do your best to help them do their best. He/she doesn’t have to read as many books as the next kids, but we can help our kids do their best.

So this Christmas – start with the First Noel – the Nativity. Read the book of Luke 1 paragraph at a time until you get to the history of our Saviour’s birth – and then keep on going! It’s never too late to start. 

“Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian” A.W. Tozer
Pastor Tyler’s Favourite Christian Books for Kids:
Aventures in Odyssey Imagination Station Ages 5+
*There are so many different Bibles, and kids have different levels of understanding at different ages, what should a parent do? Should we buy a different Bible for them at each stage of their life? Sure, why not!
I know I’ve asked these questions as I began parenting. I’ve decided that I would do whatever it takes to get my kids reading the Bible. So this has meant I start with reading it myself, and I make sure they have access to a Bible they can understand. That means we have, so far, at least 5 different Bibles currently. And we’ve read 4/5 of them!
If you don’t want to spend $20 every 2-3 years on a Bible, get grandma or grandpa to do it. If they’re open to faith, something tells me they would love to have their grandchild get into the Word of God.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.


Do You Hear What I Hear

This week, our family began daily Advent verses as we prepare our hearts for Christmas. My son Zeke, in Kindergarten, noticed that John 3:16 is the verse for Christmas day. That surprised me because he is only in kindergarten and doesn’t know how to read. He said, “I hope I get to read John 3:16 verse because I know it.” With a thankful smile I said, “really? Lets hear it,” and he went on to recite it. Then I asked, “That wasn’t your KidZone verse last week, where did you learn it?”

And do you know what he said? “From Seeds Family Worship” Wow. He doesn’t know how to read, but he can listen to Gods Word wrapped in music. That’s amazing! Seeds Family Worship is a ministry that makes great music with professional lyric videos that is made up word-for-word of scripture. Three of their DVD’s are available in our church library and you can listen to a few of their songs for free on Youtube.
In a recent study by Lifeway, 2000 parents of young adults were surveyed to discover what are the largest influences in a kids’ life of faith. Number 4 was… Listening primarily to Christian Music. I don’t know about you, but this is good news because I LOVE listening to music. But why Christian Music? Well, let me ask you the questions:
  • Why do you listen to music?
  • Can music help you turn your attitude around?
  • Can music help you learn something?
  • Does music remind you of anything?
  • Has music ever impacted the people around you?
  • How does music make you feel?

And in all these ways, I desire to fix my eyes on Jesus, and I’ll bet you do too. People may have long discussions about why their genre is the best and the only genre people should listen to. I don’t want do argue about instruments or how old the song is or who wrote it or what genre it fits into. Lets fill our lives with Christ Centered faith filled music.

For this reason, I think the most important App on a Christian’s smartphone is a music app that enables you to listen to Christian Music. Personally I listen to the Air1 app or online every day. If I want to change it up, I listen to the parent station KLOVE. These two stations are rebroadcast hundreds of times throughout the United States, and it’s free to listen. Others like listening to the Christian Music genre of their choice on Spotify, that’s great too. 
AND Air1 & KLOVE also have Christmas stations, so you can listen to your favourite Christian artists Christmas albums all… day… long! Want some ideas for your Christmas shopping list? But them some Christian music from iTunes or at Kennedy’s.
Next week, I’m going to reveal the top 5 BIGGEST areas of impact in a kids faith from Jana Magruder’s book Nothing Less – Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith. What do you think number #1 will be?


Christmas is Coming

“Christmas is coming, the bells are rising, hope comes alive as music fills the air.” Christmas is Coming by Jason Gray

Every year, many people have the conversation about when to put up the Christmas tree and start decorating. Some wait till after Nov. 11, others wait until Dec. 1, and others just make sure they have it done by Dec. 23.
As we get ready for Christmas, we will celebrate advent, which is a common practice to prepare our hearts for Christmas and focus our attention on our Saviour. What are your favourite ways to celebrate the Nativity and focus on Christ at Christmas? I’ve made a gift guide that you can look at to think about Christian gifts for your friends and family.

Ideas to Keep Focused on Christ every Christmas:

  1. Ask Good Questions and find Good Answers

    This is very important. Start by asking yourself questions “Why do I do this? Why do we celebrate this way? What does this Christmas Carol tell us about Jesus?” These questions can also be opportunities to have Faith conversations with your family. “What do you think this song means? Why do we do this tradition? Why do we give a little bit more at Christmas? Why do we bake for our neighbours?” Then seek out answers in the Bible.

  2. Pray for your neighbours

    Pray that they would have hearts and minds open to the Good News of Jesus during the Christmas season.

  3. Serve in your community

    Call the Salvation Army and volunteer to ring bells, especially close to Christmas, serve Christmas dinner at City Centre Church, give gifts for toy & winter coat drives.

  4. Love Your Neighbours

    After you pray for them, invite them over for supper, dessert or Christmas Dinner or the Church Christmas Banquet, bake for them, shovel their walk, or do whatever you can to be loving and caring

  5. Read Luke 2 Read it multiple times, asking God to teach you something new from His Word.

  6. Get a Christmas Devotional Book For yourself or your family

  7. Give gifts from the Alliance Justice and Compassion Catalogue that can make in impact around the world

  8. Go shopping with your family and purchase decorations and gifts, maybe from Kennedy’s Parable, that point to the Savior.

  9. Set Realistic Expectations You may not be able to bake 12 different kinds of cookies, take the perfect family photo, invite every neighbour over for Christmas dinner, buy the perfect gifts and ring the bells at the mall. So do what you can, guilt free, always fixing your eyes on Jesus.

  10. Worship God Be sure to take time to attend the worship service, the Christmas Eve

    Service (6:30pm), and spend time in genuine rest with God and in His Word

  11. Make a plan to live out your Christian faith throughout the whole year by being generous, serving and loving your neighbours.