Advent Week 2

Peace of the Priest

As we begin the second week of advent, here is a wonderful curriculum written by my daughter Grace Ladd McDonald with ideas on celebrating with your family.

Operation No More Tears
Or Read Isaiah 9 

Did you know that before there were pastors, there were priests? Today we can go to God when we are in distress, need a miracle or need forgiveness when we have done something wrong. We can come to God in our rooms, outside, in church or anywhere. The reason we are able to do that is because Jesus is our priest. Before Jesus, priests pleaded with God on behalf of people by offering sacrifices to God. Another reason we have all of the stories in the Old Testament is to show us that God is separate from humans. Though He loves and cares for each person, He is perfect. He does not fail and people do. How can a perfect God come together with non-perfect creatures? There has to be a go-between, “a priest.” Because of Jesus we no longer have to depend on any religious leader to atone for our sins. We can approach God as we are! Often when we think of peace, we think of times without war but peace is also what we experience when we no longer have to worry about separation from God. Perfect peace is found in communion, or being with God. 

Advent Activities
Nature Exploration
: The Bible has many examples of priests. Priests were the liaisons or “go-between” facilitators between God and people. One of the earliest examples of a priest in the bible is Aaron, Moses’ brother. He had a special staff that often did miraculous things for the people. God used Aaron’s staff to show the people his power. Throughout the Bible, Jesus is referred to as a “shepherd” and shepherds always have a staff to help guide their sheep. Staffs are in many ways a symbol of guidance. Priests in the Bible were spiritual guides. This week go on a nature exploration and find a large fallen branch that you can take as your staff for the week. Use it as you walk. Notice what you are inclined to do with your staff as you walk home. Why might a staff help guide sheep?

Home Discovery: Often priests wore special clothing such as robes that were so long they touched the ground, but in John 19 Jesus’ clothes are described in much more simple terms. Jesus’ clothes consisted of one piece of fabric. When I was a child, I dressed up in my mother’s old dresses and pretended to be a queen or princess. For this activity, ask your parent for a t-shirt and find some sandals. Perhaps it is too long and you need to tie it at the side. Wear them around the house for a little bit and notice what it feels like. Now imagine giving a sermon in the clothes you are wearing! Imagine if that was the sort of outfit you wore every day. Why do you think Jesus decided to wear the clothes he did?

Food to Share: Jesus referred to himself as the bread of life. On Sundays we often eat a bit of bread to remember what Christ’s body meant. Because of Christ, we no longer need a “go between” to sacrifice on our behalf. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus is the way to God and we can go to God directly by praying to him. To remind us of the body of Christ, we are going to make gingerbread men cookies this week. As you make these ginger bread bodies and eat them think about why God might have chosen bread to represent himself. Share these cookies with a neighbor and think about what Christ gave to the world through his human flesh. Link to gingerbread man recipe!

Art Exploration: Have you ever read a book with a pop-up in it? As humans, we instinctively want to see and know that which is hidden. Perhaps it is our sinful nature or perhaps it is an innate search for mystery. Either way, there is something about revealing that which is unknown that is deeply satisfying. In the Old Testament, each temple had a veil which prohibited people from entering the most holy places. This might sound kind of strange to us now since we can go directly to God through prayer. After Jesus came into the world and died, the veil in the temple was torn, revealing to God’s people that there was now nothing keeping people from God. For this week’s art activity, find a picture in a magazine that you find beautiful or special. Cut it out and glue in onto a sheet of paper. Then take a piece of construction paper, cutting it large enough to just cover the image and lightly crease at the tip top by folding it. Glue the tip flattened piece right above the image so that it is covering the image, making sure not to glue the flap onto your image. Invite your family members especially the babies in the family to flip the picture. Notice the sensation or revealing the hidden image.

Adventure Walk: When I think of a priest, I think of a bridge. Priests act like bridges between God and his people. Imagine needing to deliver something to a friend that lives across a bridge but not being able to cross it. Think of how it would feel to have to stop at the bridge before you could enter it, entrusting  someone else to walk across that bridge on your behalf. Now because of Jesus, we can walk on that bridge. We can experience God as father just as Jesus did. With Jesus as priest, we are able to walk across the bridge. This week, find a bridge and walk across. What is the journey like? Imagine if you were confined to only one side. What joy it is to know that bridges can connect us. What kinds of things are you able to experience because of that bridge?

Isaiah 11 by Rain for Roots
Once in Royal David’s City by Sufjan Stevens
Instrument of Peace by the Porter’s Gate

Further Reading and Discussion
Numbers 17:5-11
5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”
6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7 Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant law.
8 The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each of the leaders took his own staff.
10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11 Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When wood is cut off from a tree, its food source is cut off and it is no longer able to grow flowers or produce fruit. Why do you think it is significant that Aaron’s staff produced blossoms?
  2. What do you think the Israelites were grumbling about and why do you think God wanted to put an end to the grumbling?

Psalm 23: 1-6
1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2  He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
  through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
  in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Discussion Questions:

  1. What attributes of a shepherd are indicators of God’s kindness and care?
  2. Jesus came into the world in a miraculous way. Usually it takes a man and a woman to make a baby, but Mary became pregnant without a man. She became pregnant because God placed life inside of her. Is there anything you feel is impossible? Talk to God about those things that feel impossible.

 Isaiah 11:1-5
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever seen a ruler act justly? What does justice for the poor mean?
  2. Isaiah talks about the rod of his mouth, what do you think he is referring to here?

Advent Week One: Hope in the King

This Holiday season I have invited my daughter Grace Ladd McDonald to share her Advent curriculum with the Positive Life Principles readers. Each week we will post creative and meaningful ways to prepare your family for Christmas by focusing on the various attributes of Jesus.

The Teeny Weeny…True king”
Or Read 1st Samuel 8-10

Throughout the Old Testament, we see examples of kings, some were good, some were evil. All were human, which means they were sinners and because of their sin, they were not the leaders that the people truly needed. The Old Testament tells the story of one specific group of people called the Israelites. God chose the Israelites to be His people and to show the rest of the world his great love. There are many stories in the Bible which tell about the redemptive love God has for His people. They keep sinning and God keeps loving them. Early on in the Old Testament, the Israelites pled with God for a king. God sent many kings and prophets to help lead and guide the people, but no king could ever truly give the people what they needed. God promised His people early on that He would eventually send them a king that would loose the chains of oppression and set his people free. This week’s activities, readings and music will help you learn about why we need Jesus and the hope that he offers as a king.

Advent Activities
Nature Exploration
: Throughout history kings have worn crowns as a symbol of their authority and dignity. Jesus was unlike any king. He did not wear a crown adorned with jewels or gold. Rather, Jesus wore a crown of thorns. Jesus is the one true ruler over all the earth, as well as beyond what we can see. Did you know that there is a world beyond the one we can see? Spend some time out in nature, collecting sprigs and vine elements that you can weave together as a crown to wear on your head. Use tape or string as needed. Wear it on your head as you go throughout your day. How does wearing a crown make you feel?

Home Discovery: Walk around your house and find all the seating areas such as chairs and/or stools and couches. Choose one chair as your throne for the week. Sit in it, perhaps build a fort around it. Many verses in scripture talk about Jesus sitting on a throne. What do you think the significance of a throne is? Why do you think having a designated place to sit is special?

Baking Activity: Jesus did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. Unlike other kings who are waited on hand and foot, Christ came to serve, to give of himself as a ransom for many. I am not sure what Jesus’ favorite food was but Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader who stood up for the rights of the oppressed in similar ways as Jesus. He liked to eat Pecan pie. Pick a simple pecan pie recipe or other sweet treat that you enjoy, bake it and share it with your neighbor. My personal favorite is chocolate covered buttered pecans.

Art Exploration: Purple is a color used throughout history to symbolize royalty. Purples, violets and blues were often used in old paintings to signify royalty. What about purple feels significant or special? Using water colors, fill a page with a mixture of blues, violets, and purples. What do you notice about the color? When you picture Jesus, what colors do you picture him wearing?

Adventure Walk: Rather than living in a castle, Jesus had no home while He was here on earth. He slept in the homes of friends or perhaps even outside in nature. Throughout the Bible Jesus spent time in God’s beautiful creation, floating, even walking on water, traveling up  mountains or talking with crowds of people. As my good friend Sarah Gregory once said, people are God’s best creation. Walk to a nearby body of water with an adult and stare at the way the water moves and think about how God is moving all around you just like the waves.

Ride on King Jesus by Jireh Gospel Choir
King of Kings by Hillsong United
Cradle In Bethlehem by Mason Jar Music

Further Reading and Discussion
1 Chronicles 17: 7-10
Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men on earth. 9 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 10 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think God provided a king for his people?
  2. How do you see God caring for your pains and wounds?

Psalm 47: 1-9
Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
2 For the Lord Most High is awesome,
  the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
4 He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.
5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham
for the kings[
c] of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do people need kings or leaders?
  2. What about the kingship of Jesus offers hope?

Ezekiel 37:24-28
24 My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Throughout history and the Bible we have seen good and bad leaders. What attributes do you think are important in a leader?
  2. What is a king and what does a king do?

25 Days of Praise


During this most wonderful time of the year, let us turn our hearts upward as we focus on the glorious majesty of our God. This month I want to provide you with a daily attribute of the Lord on which to meditate throughout your day. May this give your heart a reason to rejoice and your mind an opportunity to praise His glorious name throughout the holiday season.

  1. He is our Creator. In the beginning God create the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
  2. He is God Most High. I cry out to God Most High to God, who vindicates me.       Psalm 57:2
  3. He is our Shield. Do not be afraid…. I am your shield, your very great reward. Genesis 15:1
  4. He sees You are the God who sees me…I have now seen the One who sees me. Genesis 16:13
  5. He is the Great I Am. God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Exodus 3:14
  6. He is our Redeemer. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. Exodus 6:6
  7. He is our Strong Defender. The LORD is my strength and my defense. Exodus 15:2
  8. He makes bitter waters sweet. Moses threw the piece of wood into the water and the water turned sweet. Exodus 15:25
  9. He sanctifies I am the Lord who sanctifies you. Exodus 31:13
  10. He is Holy. Be holy because I, the LORD your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2
  11. He is Faithful and True. He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9
  12. He is a Defender of the downtrodden. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow. Deuteronomy 10:18
  13. He has a Mighty Hand and a Powerful Arm. The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Deuteronomy 26:8
  14. He is our Rock. He is the Rock, His works are perfect. Deuteronomy 32:4
  15. He is a Generous. Take possession of the land the LORD our God is giving you for your own. Joshua 1:11
  16. He does Amazing Acts. Tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you. Joshua 3:5
  17. He is our  Peace. Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The Lord is Peace. Judges 6:24
  18. He Restores.  I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. Joel 2:25
  19. He is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. I Samuel 17:45
  1. He is Omnipotent. You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. Nehemiah 9:6
  2. He is our Shepherd.  The LORD is my shepherd, I have all that I need. Psalm 23:1
  3. He is our Guide. He guides me down the right path bringing honor to His name. Psalm 23:3
  4. He is our Salvation. The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1
  5. He loves us with an Unfailing Love. Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens. Psalm 89:2
  6. He is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7

I hope you have a wonderful Holy-Day season. May these verses lift your spirits and turn your heart toward Almighty God. Starting on Dec 26, I will begin posting specific attributes we see in Jesus, as we worship Emanuel, God with us.



Follow me on Instagram as I provide a colorful reminder of these daily attributes – @karolladd

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash



Victory of Peace

FullSizeRender (6)

The God of peace be with you all.

Romans 15:33

Peace between God and mankind began at Christmas as Jesus entered this world and the angels proclaimed, “Peace on earth to men of good will.”

Isn’t it ironic that during this Season of Peace, most people feel especially frazzled, overwhelmed and anxious? Between strained family relationships, crazy-busy schedules and over-the-top gift expectations, even the calmest of people can become a bit rattled. It’s easy at Christmas to lose sight of the fact that as believers in Christ, the God of peace is truly with us.

In the gospel of John, we read about Jesus preparing to go to the cross on our behalf. He reminded His disciples that the Father would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to give us peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” (John 14:27). Jesus gave us a unique and wonderful gift, the gift of peace. Not a peace that the world gives, but rather a peace that only God can give, a peace that passes all understanding.

The cross was the ultimate victory providing peace with God through Jesus’ sacrifice. After Jesus ascended to Heaven, God did not leave us here alone to try to figure out life on our own. He gave us His Spirit.

Think about it – the very same Spirit of God who brought order from chaos when the universe was formed, is the Spirit that is with us!  Certainly He can bring a glorious peace to our restless hearts. So when you feel anxious or overwhelmed, remember this simple yet powerful phrase, The God of peace is with me. He will guide you and give you a new perspective. He will calm your chaos.

This is devotion also appears in Buckner International’s 2015 Advent Guide. Click here to download your free Advent Guide.