Last November I was excited to tell you about an Advent calendar with Christmas Bible study that our family enjoyed. Well, it turns out that announcing it nine days before December 1 wasn’t such a great idea—the publishing company quickly sold out of the calendar and I’m sure many of you missed out on a chance to order. So this year I’m giving you (and our friends at The Good Book Company) plenty of time!
What I love about these Advent calendars is that each day’s “door to open” is connected to a Scripture and a lesson about Christmas and the message of the gospel. The accompanying Bible study booklet includes a short verse followed by a very brief lesson plan including great questions to engage the kids in fun and thoughtfulness about the deep truths of the gospel. They are the perfect length for children and very well done.
There are three options to choose from:
The Real Christmas Tree (in short supply)
We have used Christmas Opened Up in the past and loved it, but I’m looking forward to trying a new one this year. I am really excited to use one of these calendars for Jude and Sophie’s first Christmas season in the Whitacre family.
“God alone can do what seems impossible. This is the promise of his grace: ‘I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten’ (Joel 2:25). God can give back all those years of sorrow, and you will be the better for them. God will grind sunlight out of your black nights. In the oven of affliction, grace will prepare the bread of delight. Someday you will thank God for all your sadness.” ~Charles Spurgeon
Justin Taylor asks author Faith Cook to recommend some biographies of Christian women: These godly women “serve as a beacon for our own day, guiding us through the confusion and pitfalls of our own generation.”
Over at The Gospel Coalition, Nicole reviews bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, Unglued: “Ranked #9 in Christian Living and #1 in Theology, this Amazon bestseller has one striking—and serious—omission.”
Here’s what we’re reading right now:
Carolyn - God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment by James M. Hamilton, Jr.
Nicole - Keeping the Ten Commandments by J.I. Packer
Kristin - Faith on Trial by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Janelle - The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
My son Jude asks lots of questions. As I understand it, this is common for children who have been adopted when they are older, and I totally get it. New country. New language. New parents. I would ask a lot of questions too.
I am eager to answer Jude’s questions about his new world—as best I can anyway. Occasionally he stumps me with questions about how stuff works (“I haven’t a clue, Jude, ask your Dad!”) or like the other day when he asked me why people put up “yucky” Halloween decorations: “Honestly, Jude, that’s a great question, Son, but I have never been able to understand that myself!”
As much as we want to satisfy Jude’s curiosity about his new life, we are also trying to teach him that he can trust us, his parents, to faithfully meet his needs. So sometimes, when he asks the same question over and over again, or asks about insignificant details he’ll find out in a few minutes anyway, I’ll provide the answer my parents often gave to me: “You’ll see.”
“Mommy what’s for dinner?”
“Mommy, what store are we going to next?”
“Mommy, how many more minutes until break time?”
We have worked really hard to be consistent and predictable in our parenting; so while imperfect for sure, Jude knows by now that we will always feed him dinner, we will always come home after going out, and we will (almost) always take a break from school in the mid-morning.
But as I seek to teach Jude that he can trust us, I have begun to see, sadly, how little I sometimes trust my Savior. Jude’s incessant questioning is understandable for an eight-year-old boy nine months into a new life, but so often I ply my Heavenly Father with anxious questions, having nothing like Jude’s excuse.
“What are you doing next, Lord?”
“Where are you taking me?”
“When will this be over?”
I don’t just ask these questions once. I ask them over and over and over. And more often than not, God replies with the same answer I give Jude: “You’ll see.”
To be honest, I don’t always like that answer any more than Jude does. And yet when I grumble about God’s response, I fail to see the massive mercy behind it. “You’ll see” is a promise! A glorious promise, secured for me at the cross! I will see! Because I have been adopted into God’s family, through the atoning death of Jesus Christ on my behalf, I will one day see God.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2 ESV).
I may not see everything today, but I see the Father’s love. And I have this confident and sure expectation that one day I will see Him as He is. And I will be like Him. Because of adoption, I see. And because of adoption, I will see. Oh joy!
So Jude, my Son, I pray that one day you will see the love of the Father and rejoice in His answer to all your questions: “You’ll see!”
So how did your Less for More challenge go? It’s been great to hear how you have benefited from less social media and more time in God’s Word. I know for me, the discipline of reading Scripture before Twitter or Facebook is a habit I want to keep, and I also plan to set aside regular times to re-evaluate my Internet use in light of God’s Word.
We began our “Connected Heart” series with the question: are my online habits dictated, directed, and in line with the Word of God? And while there is much more we could say, its time to bring this series to a close. We’ve compiled all the posts into one downloadable pdf, making it easy for you to read, print, and share with others. Feel free to make copies for friends or a small group study.
Our hope is that this humble collection of posts will encourage prayer, thoughtfulness, and fellowship about God’s Word and our online habits.