Parenting And Culture

Celebrate Christmas An Entire Month


It is a rare occasion when I encounter a Christian who detests Christmas. Now, I realize that I must qualify this by stating many of us struggle with the over-commercialization of Christmas, and some of us even dread the holiday because we are in the midst of suffering and can't bear the thought of "celebrating" during intense heartache.

But if we break Christmas down to its simplest form, it really is epic: God becoming flesh to rescue the world! What's not to love about this!!!

As a bonus, a godless (or post-god, however you want to slice it) culture continues to persist in the accommodation of the celebration of Christ's birth. Most people are given the day off work. Many others take the opportunity to spend the holiday with the people they love the most. We eat good food. We drink good drink. We give good (or not-so-good) gifts (I see you tiny pocket knife, weird socks, stinky candles, or horrible white elephant gift). Other than those terribly awkward conversations with family you only see once a year, we can all agree that Christmas is pretty much one of the best things in our earthly lives.

In the end, a good chunk of the world still celebrates the holiday, if even for all the wrong reasons. But here's some truth for your ears: We can remove Christ from Christmas (i.e. by calling it X-mas), but we will literally never be able to remove "Christ" from Christmas.

For Christians, this is the best news ever! This is also the reason why we should celebrate HARDER and LONGER than all of the non-Christians across the world who don't know, love, and worship Jesus. 

And you'll never be able to guess what Christians have done for the past two millenniums?

We have concocted a way by which we can celebrate Christmas for the entire month leading up to Christmas day. It is called Advent (which I will explain more below). The reality is that Christmas provides a massive opportunity for us to celebrate in our homes, with our families, giving credence to the reality of arguably the single greatest event ever (without Christmas there is no cross and empty tomb).

It also affords us the opportunity to celebrate with our church communities and with the lost and dying world around us, with the ultimate goal of pointing, proclaiming, and presenting to everyone what John the Baptist upon his first glance of Jesus exclaimed: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29

The word adventus is a Latin term meaning “coming/arrival.” Early Christians spoke of “The advent of our Lord” in  reference to the incarnation (God becoming flesh). As time went on, Advent was designated as the period leading up to Christmas Day when Christians prepared for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The specific celebrations began as early as the 4th century AD. This time period was marked by prayer and fasting with a focused attention on the wonder of the incarnation as well as the hopeful return of Christ at His second coming.

So why should we celebrate Advent? Because it pushes us to focus on the real reason for the Christmas season. When we celebrate Christ’s first coming, we are reminded of what it took for mankind to be rescued from sin, death, and hell. It required God to take on flesh in order to become a sacrifice for the sins of the world. To celebrate advent is to celebrate the hope of redemption; the hope that first came in the form of a baby – a baby who would forever change the world. His name is Jesus!

We are serious about Advent at Kid Theology and view this season as another incredible opportunity to point ourselves, our children, and all those around us to Jesus. There are many ways in which you can do this.

We will hopefully be throwing out some helpful and simple tools for you to celebrate Advent in the coming days (Advent technically begins this year on December 3rd).  

(side note: This will only apply to those who are signed up on our mailing list. to receive free advent content (as well as other tools to help you disciple your children, sign up here).

Thanksgiving: More Than A Holiday, A Way Of Life

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Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1

Halloween is officially behind us which means one thing… It’s Christmas time! I am not joking when I say that literally on Halloween day, major retail stores had already stashed away their ghosts and goblins in favor of fake spruce trees, Santa Claus displays, and green and red decor everywhere. That’s right! The halls had been decked on October 31st. Full disclosure here but when I saw the Christmas displays, I was excited as Elf was when he heard the Santa announcement.


But what about Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving gets a bad wrap for sure when it comes to the three holidays. Americans make a big deal out of it, but only for two or three days. Let’s be honest with each other, nobody ever gets too sad about a day set aside for overeating and hanging out with family and friends.

The thing about Thanksgiving is that it just doesn’t scratch as big of a consumeristic itch as Christmas or Halloween (the number one and two highest grossing American holidays respectively).  But, because it is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, it tends to get overlooked. Undoubtedly we still try to make Thanksgiving as self-focused as possible, which is why it is marked more by gluttony than anything else. The very title of the holiday “Thanksgiving” is the antithesis of self but I still find ways to make it about me (i.e. complaining about spending time with family members we don’t like and you know, overeating). 


The word thanksgiving by nature is others focused.

The opposite of thanksgiving is entitlement. Yet we tend to make all things about ourselves. What about our children? They are no different. They don’t come out of the womb thankful. They come out selfish and entitled. Yes, they are beautiful and sweet and wonderful...but they are self-centered. Entitlement comes easy for our kids. When was the last time you had to instruct them to be more self-focused? On the flip side, how many times do you have to instruct your children to be thankful? If you are like me then you are reminding them Every. Single. Day.

We need to also look at our own lives right now. How thankful are we? Again if you are like me, you need reminders Every. Single. Day. When my eyes are fixated on a Savior who died a death I deserved to die and who gave me abundant life I didn’t deserve to be given, I AM THANKFUL. 

When I think of a merciful and gracious God, whose steadfast love endures for all time, it leads me to overwhelming thankfulness. And the overflow of this is incredible! I begin to see all the GOOD gifts my GREAT God has given me through a gospel lens, and my default attitude and disposition becomes gratitude. 

The more I recognize the beauty of what Jesus did for me on the cross, how he saved an undeserving sinner, I become thankful. Thankfulness is the product of a heart that is overjoyed, satisfied, at rest, and filled to the full. Thankfulness is the product of a heart which knows it has been given everything undeservedly, so nothing good that does come is expected, demanded, overlooked as automatic, or deserved. This is how I want to be. This is how I want my children to be.

This is the culture that I am striving to cultivate in my home. And not just this month, but in the months to come, as the power of the gospel (the good news that Jesus saves sinners) drives, shapes, and informs a spirit of thankfulness in the lives of me, my spouse, and my children. I want my family to be a family that says thanks not out of obligation, but out of sincerity.


What if thanksgiving was more than just a holiday for us? What if it was a culture in our homes, a way of life for our families? 

Allow me to throw out a challenge: Every day let’s all take 5 minutes out of our busy schedules to remind our families how good Jesus has been by saving we sinners, and by giving us everything else we have (“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17). Additionally, let’s focus on telling each other thanks in our homes, when thanksgiving is warranted.

By the grace of Jesus, let’s fight entitlement, consumerism, and self-centeredness in our homes by seeking God’s glory and cultivating cultures of gratitude and thanksgiving. I assure you our homes will be more full of joy than ever before. Why? Because ultimately, thanksgiving leads to great joy (1 Thess 3.9). Let’s put it to the test!

Halloween: Engage Or Eject?

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Since childhood, I can’t remember a time when the hottest debate amongst Christians in the month of October wasn’t Halloween. Christians lose their minds over this issue (see any social media platform for proof) almost as much as they do any of the other biggie’s of late like Trump, the NFL, same-sex marriage, and the second amendment. I digress.

Many in various evangelical circles have argued for complete exclusion from any sort of participation in Halloween. While others have tried to engage the second largest grossing holiday in America, viewing it as an opportunity to connect with their neighbors on one of the only days of the year their neighbors are outside their homes for more than a second. And then there is a third category of Christians who don’t care to think about the spiritual implications of the holiday, and approach the day as culture around them approaches it (unintentionally celebrating death under the guise of candy).

Most American Christians probably fall under the third category. Halloween is an opportunity for their children (and themselves - You know who you are!) to cop copious amounts of candy. They aren’t intentionally celebrating death or demons or evil. They’re just here for the candy.

For those that push the eject button on Halloween, would you please at minimum consider what it would look like to redeem the holiday, since it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I get that you are not of this world, that your citizenship is in heaven but that doesn’t exclude the fact you have been sent into this world as an ambassador of the grace of Jesus.


We will get into that more in a moment but for now, here’s a brief history behind Halloween to catch you up:

  • Halloween’s roots began with an ancient Celtic festival called “Samhain” that ushered in the darkest part of winter, where spirits of the dead were believed to show up and damage crops and play “tricks” on the living. There were even animal sacrifices the Celtic priests would offer up to pagan gods.

  • The Roman influence then came into the picture 2,000 years ago with a day of celebrating the dead that would take place towards the end of October. It was essentially a day to celebrate and worship those who had died.

  • The rise of Christianity in the Celtic areas around 800 AD saw the institution of a new holiday called “All Saints Day” which took place the day after Samhain as a day to honor saints and martyrs. The selection of the day was intentional by Pope Boniface IV to serve as a holier alternative to Samhain.

  • All Saints Day eventually became known as “All Hallows Day” and people began calling Samhain, “All Hallows Eve” which was shortened to “Hallowe’en.”

  • All of the festivals involved costumes or dressing up. For example, men in Scotland for Samhain would dress up as the dead, explaining many of our modern day halloween attire. Others for “All Saints Day” would dress up as saints or angels. But if you’re keeping score, Halloween isn’t exactly rooted in a Christ-centered reality.

  • Like anything, culture (and evil human hearts) has twisted the day, making it all about consumerism, gluttony, and even borderline demon worship (all idolatry is demon-worship - including gluttony and consumerism), with many Christians falling into the first two categories, and even the third unknowingly.

  • Also of note, Halloween happens to fall on the exact day of the Reformation’s inception. 500 years ago this coming October 31st, Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church, ushering in one of the greatest gospel-centered revivals in 1400 years, since the inception of the church age. Modern Day protestantism exists by the grace of God because of that moment and the many moments and men that followed.


Listen (and please receive this knowing that I am in this for your good), but for those who struggle with celebrating a day of the dead (and I feel you, I really do), you need to likewise struggle with Easter and Christmas, since (like Halloween) both holidays are a hodge podge of pagan and Christian wrapped up in a tidy box of self-indulgence with a tidy bow of consumerism and gluttony on top. If you boycott one, you need to be logically and spiritually consistent by boycotting all three. It seems hypocritical at its core to boycott one and not the others.

Also, evil isn’t sourced externally (i.e. a holiday). It’s roots are found deep in the hearts of men and women (and children). We need to be much more concerned with the evil in our homes (because of the sinful hearts of the men, women, and children who live inside them) than we do the evil outside our homes. Consider Mark 7:21-23:

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”


Here’s my hot take on this issue: 

Since Jesus hung with tax collectors, prostitutes, murderers, thieves, and every other sordid person, my guess is that he would be all in on Halloween (not at some church fall festival alternative). Now I do believe Jesus wouldn’t necessarily be all in on the candy-grabbing or sexy-costume aspects, but rather because it is one of the few times out of the year where non believing sinners knock on the doors of believing sinners. This quote by George Robinson is so captivating:

“The reason I propose that good Christians celebrate Halloween and stay home from the 'Christian alternatives' is that Halloween is the only night of the year in our culture where lost people actually go door-to-door to saved people’s homes . . . and you’re down at the church hanging out with all your other good Christian friends having clean fellowship with the non-pagans.”


How about a new (or renewed) vision for Halloween?

  • Instead of receiving or rejecting Halloween, let’s commit to redeeming it. Nothing says “you hate me” more to the world than a Christian who secludes himself and puts signs up on his home that say: “We don’t observe holidays reserved for Satan worship!” (Yes, that was on one of my neighbor’s doors last year).

  • Instead of attending a church alternative (trunk or treat) that encourages you to bring your unsaved neighbors to (but who will never come because they are all about that trick or treating life - and can you blame them?), set up shop in your driveway, and hand candy out to your neighbors all night long.

  • Instead of buying the small, miniature versions of various delectable candy treats, roll on over to a wholesale store (Cosco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s) and purchase $100 worth of full-sized or even king-sized candy bars. Our family did this last year and it was the best $100 we’ve ever spent.

  • Instead of throwing massive budget-busting Halloween parties at your church, invest that money into the small groups within your church, so that they can in turn throw epic Halloween block parties in their driveways.

  • Instead of just sending your kids out trick or treating to further promote consumerism, have pre-made goodie bags made with the best candy (hint: not salt water taffy, tootsie rolls, and black licorice) and an invite card to your church or a card with Romans 5:8 printed on it (“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”). We’ve done this in years past and it always catches people off guard.

  • Instead of putting a bowl of candy at your front door with a sign on it that says “Take one!” be ready for the door-knockers, engage them, talk to their parents, take a moment to get to know them if you don’t already, ask them where they live etc.


Ultimately, the question is this: Do we want the world to know us by our love or by our segregation?

I think the answer is simple. God is never displeased with you taking something that culture has twisted and distorted and bringing the beauty of the gospel into. So I say go for it! Dress your kids up as Reformers (jk).

Engage Halloween intentionally. Not with consumerism in mind. But for the sake of the gospel - for the glory of Christ and for the good of the world around you!

Children: Fitting In vs Standing Out

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There is a statement I've heard frequently over the years in many Christian circles: "We are in the world but not of the world!" It is derived from Jesus' high priestly prayer to the Father in John 17:

"They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world...As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." (17:16, 18)

This statement will always be helpful for followers of Jesus because we live in the tension of a fallen world and a glorious eternity and God desires for us to be faithful ambassadors and stewards of the good news while we are on this earth.

Sadly, it seems as though the modern westernized Christian parent has taken a few too many licentious liberties with this whole bit of being "in the world" and as a result, we are raising little cultural carbon copies of the world's version of a child. We have become bent on keeping-up-with-the-Jones's rather than fighting against the "Jones's" by teaching our kids what it looks like to say, as the Apostle Paul stated (the Paul who probably was beheaded by Nero in 66AD): "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is my gain!" (Phil. 1:21)

Whether through entertainment (i.e. pop culture, music, television, movies, and the internet), multi-media (i.e. phones, tablets, and all the latest gadgets), or extracurricular activities (i.e. youth sports and after school programs), we have overwhelmingly decided as parents that we would rather our kids blend in, to mirror the status quo, rather than stick out - not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of being like Christ so that others may know Christ!

A recent statement made by author and speaker Jen Wilkin helped to get to the bottom of this issue when she said something to the effect of this: As parents who love Jesus, we need to trade the COMFORT of our children fitting in for the CALLING of them standing out.

Why do we choose to blend our children into culture rather than have them stick out? Because it's too risky and costly to do otherwise. After all, our children are already fragile and vulnerable, right? Why would we want to potentially expose them even more by teaching them to stand out? This thought is scary. So we instead choose comfort, convenience, and ease.

When we do this, we forget who our children are as followers of Jesus. According to Jesus, they (and we) are salt, light, cities on hills, and lamps in rooms (see Matthew 5:13-16). They are not garden variety needles in haystacks, fish in great big oceans, minions in a crowd of minions, or grains of sand on a beach.

By (spiritual) nature, they are designed to stand out. If you are not convinced at this point, consider the imagery used by the Psalmist in Psalm 127: "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth
." Arrows are designed to be felt by whatever their target is. Our goal isn't to reproduce and subsequently send out safe children in a safe world. Rather, our goal is to (by the grace of God) forge and refine and reproduce razor-sharp kids who know how to love Jesus and love their world well and to send them out to make huge dents in it.

Why should we want our children to stand out rather than fit in? Jesus answers this in Matthew 5:16: "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

The world needs the hope of Jesus and our kids can and will bring that hope to the world!