Category Archives: Fathers

Encouragement for the Scared Father

Not long ago in a discussion in an online Lutheran group, one father did a manly thing. He admitted he was scared in his role as father. He said, “Nothing scares me quite like teaching my children.”

Hallelujah! I told him, “This is a fact true of many fathers. Usually we just keep ducking, but now, in saying this, you are standing up. The Lord is at work here.”

Let me give you a collection of encouragements to overcome what scares you.

1.  God is for your children, and God is for you as father.
2.  The Catechism is simple, and using it is simple.
3.  Your influence is built into nature.
4.  Repetition is effective.
5.  Children like to answer questions.
6.  Your own faith and confidence in Christ will grow.

1.  God is for your children, and God is for you as father.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

We wonder if God wants to give us what we need as fathers. He already gave his Only Begotten Son into death for your child. He will, with the death of his Son, give you what is needed to be the first evangelist of the Gospel to your child, so that the death of the Only Begotten can become precious to your child.

Through the Scriptures, the Church, and Dr. Luther, God has given you the simple little tool you need, the Small Catechism. “Prince George, of Anhalt, called it the layman’s little Bible, containing the substance of the teachings of all the Prophets and Apostles.”[1]

God wants your children to know the Catechism and be strong in simple faith, because this is to grasp onto Christ and his salvation. Realize that when you and your child are hearing the Catechism together, you are two or three gathered in Christ’s name, and there He is among you (Matthew 18:20), using his Word as a means of grace to deliver the gift of faith.

Fathering is what the Father in Heaven does, and he delights it giving you the vocation of father in his own likeness. See, He is for your imitation of him in fathering. He can be counted on for this.

Jesus corrected his disciples when they were preventing little children from coming to him. “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them.” (Matthew 19:14-15a)

2.  The Catechism is simple and using it is simple.

A child can learn the Catechism, and I mean a young child.

The Catechism that Dr. Luther wrote, without any of the bulky explanations that others added later, really is a very little pamphlet. Remember the story of Winston Churchill apologizing to his friend during the war for writing such a long letter. He explained its length, saying that with the press of war duties, he did not have time to write a short one. Shortening things down to the essentials and crystalizing them takes time. Luther invested a tremendous amount of time to be able to write a little Catechism that has everything your child needs, in the fewest, best, and most powerful words.

Merely reading the Catechism aloud to your child has effect. Its design and contents are powerful. Luther had many options and decisions to make in creating the Catechism. He gave much study and thought to it over a long time. His decisions are genius, and that genius is working for you.

Start while your child is very young. “Let it not be objected that the child cannot understand the prayer. The way of education is by practice to understanding, not by understanding to practice.”[2] Keep simply reading it to your child. This practicing of the words until your child starts to know them lays the foundation for the understanding that will come.

“By giving only a little time and attention to it each week, the parents could easily, in a few years, have all their children know it as perfectly as they know their multiplication table.”[3]

3.  Your influence is built into nature.

God at creation built it into nature that fathers have influence with their children. This includes all fathers. It happens automatically. All fathers influence their children. It is not a question of whether fathers have influence, but in which direction they will influence. Even an absolutely neglectful father is bearing an influence of neglect.

The mere fact that it is you reading the Catechism to your children bears effect.

Teachers and pastors have a helpful supporting role. But that is what their role is, helpful and supporting … to your primary role. Children will have many teachers and pastors, but they have only one father, you. No one else is “my Daddy.”

4.  Repetition is effective.

It is great that the Catechism is little. This means your reading can take advantage of repetition.

Repetition means that you don’t have to bite off more than can be chewed at any one time. Do a little today. Do a little tomorrow. Do a little the next day. Then repeat those same littles in the days that follow.

Read them the first table of the law today, the second table of the law tomorrow. On the third day, you can repeat the first table. On the fourth, you can repeat the second table. You can repeat this repetition as often as you like, and then go on to the next part of the Catechism.

If that is too much, just do one commandment today, one commandment tomorrow, and one commandment the next day. With the introduction and conclusion, it will take two weeks to get through them. No problem. There is nothing wrong with that. You are going to start over again in the third week. Repetition will get it.

By the time you reach the second chief part, the Creed, you will see what repetition does. This is what overcomes the squirmy childish behavior that you will see, the appearance that you are accomplishing nothing. Not to worry. You have repetition on your side. It does not all have to be accomplished at once.

What always is accomplished is that they hear the Word of God from their one and only earthly father. Remember, the Catechism is the layman’s little Bible. “The Word of God is living and powerful.” (Hebrews 4:12)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

5.  Children like to answer questions.

After you have repeated one of the chief parts of the Catechism several times, you can start addressing the questions to your children.

Sure, they will stumble and fumble, but they will get pieces of it, and after a while, they will have pretty good chunks in memory. No sweat. No muss. No fuss. Bite sized pieces and patience will consume the whole thing.

Let them enjoy the fun of answering questions. The interaction with you — you questioning, them answering — is a great foundation of relationship, and relationship makes an impression. The Catechism gives you a ready-made conversation. It couldn’t be simpler.

Commend every effort and accomplishment they make. Tell them, “That’s right,” or “Good job,” or “You’re doing great.” Children want to please their parents. Children need to know their parents are pleased. Feed the hunger with good things, words of praise. Children like to answer questions because it is a good way to please their parents and receive approval.

6.  Your own faith and confidence in Christ will grow.

As you read what the Catechism is saying to your children, because of your love for them, you will be contemplating the value to them of its words. You will appreciate the importance of these little lambs hearing what the Catechism is saying. You will be seeing it through their eyes. Contemplated for its effect on your little lambs, you will be entering into the faith of a little child yourself, the kind Jesus loves to give you. “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:14)

________________________

[1] Joseph Augustus Seiss, Ecclesia Lutherana: A Brief Survey of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4th ed. (Philadelphia: Lutheran Book Concern, 1871), p. 80.

[2] G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, pp 49-50.

[3] G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, pp. 69-70.

Mission and the Small Catechism: Aspects of the Connection, and Realities to Face

The connection between mission and the Small Catechism has a number of aspects. Some of them are:

  • state of catechesis
  • marriage
  • family
  • congregation
  • community
  • generations

Some realities we need to face are that:

  • The state of catechesis is poor.
  • We are suffering a death rate among our own offspring who, after being confirmed, depart the faith. This is death by apostasy.
  • The strength of outreach depends on the strength of inreach.
  • Because we are vague and faint on the Catechism, our outreach is weak.
  • We need to strengthen catechetical inreach in marriage, the family, and the congregation for their own sakes, and then also for the sake of outreach to the community.
  • The Small Catechism teaches what needs to be presented in evangelism and outreach. It contains the six chief parts of Christian doctrine. Do we think something else is what outreach should present?

I have been writing a series of articles that make initial rough sketches of these aspects and realities.

State of Catechesis

Marriage

Family and Congregation

Community

Generations

I welcome your feedback, ideas, suggestions, evidences, and experiences in these areas. Please use the contact form to write to me.

Cooperative Catechesis (Parents and Pastors), by Rev. Phil Booe, Winkel Presentation at Hudson, New York

So you missed the winkel. No need to miss the presentation.

Rev. Phil Booe, has kindly provided his selected excerpts from his doctoral dissertation, “Cooperative Catechesis: A Model for Equipping Lutheran Parents and Pastors to Catechize Children in the Christian Faith,” prepared for the March 16, 2016 winkel at Hudson New York.

Learn about parents being active in catechesis. Learn about parents and pastors cooperating in the catechesis of the children.

Download it here.

Video — The Lord’s Prayer in a Cardboard Box,

Garrick Matthew Miller Halvorson, aka Gunny, decided he was going to sleep in a cardboard box that night.

Dad still comes in to pray the Lord’s Prayer with him. In the midst of the informality of bedding down in a cardboard box, Gunny still knows what reverence is, and his father shows him that prayer fits in everywhere.

 

Video — Dad and Mom Praying the Lord’s Prayer with Children at Bedtime

Here is a video of Leif and Kim Halvorson praying the Lord’s Prayer with their three children at bedtime.

Dads, as you can see, this takes hardly any time. To be exact, 39 seconds! Yet it has a tremendous impact. It has impact because:

A. The Lord’s Prayer is God’s Word, and God’s Word does stuff. It is quick and powerful. It does not return to the Lord void, but it accomplishes the purpose for which He has sent it.

B. The influence of fathers and mothers is built into nature, and thereafter happens all by itself, simply by your act of doing.

God’s Word Belongs in the Home Where We Live — A pastoral letter of Pastor Rolf Preus

Editor’s Note:

You can download a PDF flyer version of this pastoral letter here.

+ + +

God’s Word Belongs in the Home Where We Live
A pastoral letter of Pastor Rolf Preus – March 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As we ponder Christ’s passion during this holy season, it is good for us to consider our life of worship. God gives and we receive.  Then we give and God receives.  First God gives. Only after we have received from God the forgiveness of our sins may we give him anything at all.  First God makes us his dear children by washing us in the blood of the Lamb.  Then we can come to him as dear children come to their dear Father.

We go to church.  That’s a given.  That’s where God gives us his gospel and sacraments.  That’s where we give him our praise and thanksgiving. But is it only at the formal services with our congregation held in a church building on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings that this takes place? By no means! God’s Word belongs in the home where we live.  If the pure Word of God is what makes our congregation a Christian church, the pure Word of God will make our home a Christian home.

The Christian father is the pastor of his family. After giving Moses his Law, God said to him and through him to all Israel:  “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) The Bible says nothing about Sunday schools, Christian Day schools, vacation Bible schools, or any other kind of school established for religious instruction of the young. The Bible talks about families headed by fathers. St. Paul writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) Fathers should lead their families in daily worship. If the father is unable to do so or if there is no father, then the mother should do it.

What am I talking about? What is family worship? It is an abbreviated form of the public service of the congregation. It includes reading from the Bible, saying the liturgy, singing hymns, and praying prayers.

With older families or couples whose children are grown and gone from the home, the reading from the Bible can be directly from the Holy Scriptures. The New King James is a good translation that I recommend. For families with younger children, there are some good Bible story books for children available from Concordia Publishing House. I particularly recommend, A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories. It is very good.

We recite from memory the liturgy at church. I would guess that most of us know by heart the words of the Gloria in Excelsis, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei, both the Apostle’s and the Nicene creeds, and the Lord’s Prayer. For family devotions, I recommend saying at each devotion the Ten Commandments (without their meanings), the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. These are a solid foundation for our lives as Christians.

Good, doctrinally sound, Christ-centered hymns are a wonderful feature of family devotions. I was blessed with a father who loved the good Lutheran hymns and taught them to his family around the dinner table. I grew up knowing the best hymns in the hymnal – the great hymns of such authors as Martin Luther, Paul Gerhardt, Thomas Kingo, etc. If you have a hard time deciding what hymns to sing, singing the hymn of the day from the previous Sunday service might be a good idea. I have several copies of various Lutheran hymnals in my house. If you don’t, I would recommend buying a few copies (depending on the size of your family) of the hymnal we are currently using: Lutheran Service Book. It is available from Concordia Publishing House.

We gather to pray. The greatest of prayers is the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught it to us and we pray it every time we gather for worship in his name.  here are other fine prayers in the Catechism, such as Luther’s morning and evening prayers.

There are also a number of good devotional books available. Trinity has an excellent library – the best I have seen at any congregation I have served. There are some fine books you can borrow, and decide if you would like to buy for yourselves.

Home devotions don’t last more than ten minutes, unless you get into a theological conversation at the end and keep visiting around the table. I recommend having devotions after supper. If the phone rings during devotions, you either ignore it or answer it by saying, “We’re having devotions now. Would you call back in ten minutes?” Here is a sample form for you to consider for your family worship:

  • Invocation: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”
  • Recitation of the Ten Commandments
  • Recitation of the Creed
  • Reading from the Bible/Bible story book
  • Singing of hymn
  • Closing with Lord’s Prayer

My dad died twenty years ago this past November. I thank God for a faithful Christian father who led the family devotions throughout my childhood. Bring God’s Word into your homes.  Place the hearing, learning, confessing, and singing of God’s Word above every other pursuit in life. Do it! You won’t regret it. If you have any practical (or impractical!) questions about home devotions, give me a call and bend my ear.  I’ll do what I can to help.

Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Preus

Video – High Chair Catechization of 2.5 Year Old

Facebook group member Pastor Matt Lorfeld his wife Heidi Lorfeld provide this video showing catechization of their 2-1/2 year old son while eating in the high chair.

He is learning the 1st and 4th Commandments.

This illustrates a father catechizing in the home, catechizing a young child, and fitting catechization into ordinary activities.