Category Archives: How To

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.

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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 — Lord’s Prayer Puzzle Idea Catching On, Nicole Schulert

Facebook group member Nicole Schulert posted in the group:

Thanks for the Lord’s Prayer idea! We did it with a stopwatch for fun. Since we only have one strong reader so far, it took 3m40s to put it in order, but they can’t wait to try again tomorrow.

She was referring to a post by another Facebook group member, Melissa Sutton. Melissa has a creative method for teaching her young son the Lord’s Prayer. She printed the prayer and sliced it into a little more than a dozen ribbons of paper. Each ribbon has a portion of the prayer. Then she asks her son to find the ribbon that begins the prayer, When he finds it, he moves that ribbon into a second column, and she has him read what is printed on it,

Then she asks him, “What’s next?” He sifts through the remaining ribbons to find the one that has the next part of the prayer. He moves that ribbon into the second column, and she has him read what is on that ribbon. You can see her video and the blog post about it here.

There can be variations in how this is done, and it is also nice to see how it works out with children in a group and children of different ages. So we asked Nichole to video her use of the Lord’s Prayer puzzle. She generously did that for us, and shares it with you below.

Video – Mom leads young children in closing of daily devotions – Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Reading, and Morning Prayer

This is a third video of home devotions by our Facebook group member, Melissa Sutton.

The three videos together illustrate a complete home devotion in the morning The first video showed the opening of daily devotions. The second video showed memory work, with mom helping two young children memorize the Third Article of the Creed, its meaning, the Introduction of the Lord’s Prayer, its meaning, and the First Petition.

Now this video shows the closing of the daily devotion with confessing the Creed, praying the Lord’s prayer, a brief reading for the day, and Dr. Martin Luther’s Morning Prayer from the Small Catechism.

In all, the three videos last only about 16 ½ minutes. From the aspect of time, this is a very doable approach to a daily devotion, and yet in that short amount of time, many things are being learned.


Guest Post — Catechism Lapbooks, Haleigh Morgan

 Editor’s Introduction:

Thanks to Haleigh Morgan, administrator of the Facebook group, Catechumens for Life, for this Guest Post. By request, she shares with us this wonderful way of learning the Catechism, using lapbooks. After explaining lapbooks and how they can be used to teach the Small Catechism, we are treated to a photo gallery of some Catechism lapbooks.

Catechism Lapbooks

Luther’s Small Catechism is a great treasure of the Church, without doubt. It is an invaluable inheritance to all Christians and to all Lutherans in particular. As soon as our children are able to receive it, we pass this inheritance on to them as well. While the catechism is beautifully written in a simple way that even the youngest can grasp, and while we can (and should) teach directly from the Small Catechism, we often look for ways to engage, enrich, and expand upon the basic text. We want ways to help our children engage with the text and its teaching so that it becomes important to them. We want to expand in ever-widening circles and wade more deeply as the child’s understanding and maturity grows. For elementary-aged children, catechism lapbooks may help in this process.

For those who are unfamiliar, a lapbook is a file folder filled with mini-books or other kinds of summaries, developed around one central theme or topic. Each mini-book retells something about the central theme. Many times, the mini-books are shaped or decorated to related thematically to the central topic of the whole folder or to the content of the mini-book. For example, our mini-book for the 7th petition was a life-preserver to help us quickly remember that in this petition we ask our Father to protect and deliver us from all manner of evil, of body and soul, property and honor. Inside this preserver mini-book we summarized just that.

Parents or teachers can assist students by providing templates for these mini-books. But, any aspect of the lapbook creation that the child can do, (s)he should do. This type of effort is much more effective for moving the information from the outside to the inside – from the ears, eyes, and hands to the mind and heart.

Children often love these little lapbooks and may ask to read them with you more than once. This is a great way to reinforce learning. Lapbooks make a helpful narration tool as well. For example, after we made and studied our Creed lapbook, I asked my son to “tell me all about it.” He walked me slowly through each mini-book he had made. He read each article of the creed, used his mini-books to remind me what each meant, and pointed out the other notable tidbits he added. One such example of an idea not included in a mini-book was the fact that the explanations use the words “daily and richly” in both the explanation to the 1st and the 3rd articles and how much he liked the fact that God provides “richly and daily” both our 1st article gifts and our 3rd article gifts.

To be sure, methods and programs and elaborate activities are not necessary to teach the catechism. This is one of my great comforts. I have enough to worry about without creating curriculum from scratch where there is no need. But, if you also find you have a need to add appeal to younger children and show that learning the catechism can be engaging and even entertaining, lapbooking may be a worthwhile tool to add to your toolbox.






















Guest Post – On My Heart, a Lutheran memory work program, Amanda Moldstad

Editor’s Introduction:

Dr. Martin Luther said, “Let every one know therefore, that it is his duty … to bring up his children above all things in the fear and knowledge of God.”

A beautiful tool to help parents with this is  On My Heart, a Lutheran memory work program. This is nifty. What’s more, it is free. had to spread the word about this jewel, so we invited Amanda Moldstad to contribute the following Guest Post. Thank you, Amanda, for this outstanding gift to the Church and home, and for this Guest Post.

On My Heart

As Christian parents, we are given the task of training up our children in the truths of God’s word. One tool we use to accomplish this in our home is a memory work program we developed several years ago called On My Heart. We have made On My Heart available for free download at, and we hope it can be a blessing to many other families and congregations.

On My Heart is organized as a two-year cycle, broken into four 15-week semesters. Each week, children memorize content in four areas: the books of the Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, Bible verses, and the Old and New Testament timelines.

The books of the Bible are taught in their entirety each semester and are the easiest area to memorize; children as young as two or three years of age can begin to recite their Bible books. Luther’s Small Catechism, with explanations, is covered over four semesters: the Ten Commandments; the Creed; the Sacraments, Keys, and Confession; and the Lord’s Prayer. We consider this to be the centerpiece of On My Heart, and the main reason why we created the program. Unless deliberate action is taken, children often are not thoroughly exposed to the areas of the Catechism until they reach confirmation class. We want our children to grow up knowing the doctrines of their faith! Sixty Bible verses are taught over the course of the program, roughly matched to the Catechism section each week. Finally, On My Heart covers the main events of the Old Testament timeline in semesters 1 and 3, and the New Testament timeline in semesters 2 and 4. We have found great value in giving our children a chronological view of Bible events—something that often fails to be communicated in standard Sunday school lessons. We also use motions with our timelines to make them more memorable and fun; a list of suggested motions can be found in the brief teacher’s guide included in the download.

We currently use On My Heart as a teaching tool for our own children at home. In the past we have also used it as a Sunday school opener at church. Presenting the new memory work and giving a brief summary of the timeline events for the week can be done in about 15 minutes. Children can recite the past week’s memory work before or after Sunday school if their families work on it at home during the week. Even for those families that don’t choose to review the content with their children at home, there is still great benefit in being exposed to the doctrines of their faith, hearing the Bible verses and stories, and reciting the books of the Bible each week. It has been our experience that at the very least, everyone regularly in attendance will learn the Bible books.

We have laid out the content of the On My Heart program on cards that can be printed, cut, and assembled on binder rings. The .pdf files are available for free download at, and you can find more thorough instructions for use there. The rings can be prepared and handed out to families at the beginning of the semester. If you are making a large batch for Sunday school use, be sure to allow plenty of time for assembly. Included in your download is a curriculum guide that also contains the full content of the program; it can be used on its own if you prefer not to make the rings.

We hope that On My Heart can be a blessing to your family or congregation!

Video – Mom leads two young children in opening of daily devotions – “Hey, I can do that!”

For many of us, video is such a good way to learn not only how to do things, but more basically, that we can do it.

The thought of fixing our home’s propane furnace intimidated me. But we have YouTube. Seeing it done did two things for me:

1.   It got me over the psychological hump of being fearful I could not do it.

2.   It let me understand some of the terminology and procedures described in written instructions.

These benefits, and more, also happen when we see video of things like Morning Prayer in the home. That is why it is such a blessing that member of our Facebook group, Melissa Sutton, has given us this video of leading her two young children in daily opening devotions.

In this video, you will see a nice, simple order for opening devotions in the home . You will see Melissa and her children incorporate some American Sign Language signs, and some signs the kids made up. Isn’t that neat? The kids make up their own signs!

If you haven’t tried leading devotions with your children, see if, after you watch this video, one of your reactions isn’t, “Hey, I can do that!

Of course, we don’t all have to do it the same way. Melissa shows us a good way. There are others. When our grandchildren visit and stay over, we use the format that Dr. Martin Luther provided in the Small Catechism for Evening Prayer and Morning Prayer. It is very simple, toadaly doable.

In coming days, we also will get the chance to see Melissa with her children in the closing of devotions and in memory work. — Resources for nurturing the faith in the home.

We are blessed to have the following introduction to a valuable resource for nurturing the faith in the home. At our request, Pastor Philip Hoppe writes: is a website run by two Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastors, myself and Pr. Dan Galchutt, who desire to help believers live out the Christian Life at Home.

We suggest that in each home, there should be a time together each day to:

•   read the Scriptures
•   pray
•   sing
•   memorize texts

 We have various resources, but our core resource is called A Simple Guide to Daily Devotions.  Each week a portion of Martin’s Luther Small Catechism is assigned for the home to memorize that week.  All of the other items assigned for the week are chosen to correspond to the theme brought forth by the Small Catechism.

We are thankful to see more emphasis being placed upon the use of the Catechism in the home. We seek to specifically help those leading devotions in the home to have an easy way to begin that does not require much thought before the time of devotions begin in the home.

 With our core resource, a copy of Lutheran Service Book and a Bible, one has everything they need for a year’s worth of devotions in the home.  Best of all, our core resource is free and can be downloaded and then printed off from our website.

You can also keep in contact with us through our Facebook page and on Twitter.

The resource includes a Memory Work and Hymns Chart illustrated below. You can see how easy it is to follow:

Here are questions and answers in the resource: “A Simple Approach to Daily Devotions.”

Why do daily devotions?

The Scriptures make it very clear that parents are to teach the faith to their children. Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “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.”

How are we to approach this task?

Our faith should be evident to our children as they watch us, talk to us, and play with us. However, regular time must also be set aside daily specifically aimed at passing along the faith to them. In this time, we read together, pray together, memorize together, and sing together. This ensures that all family members participate in the time of Daily Prayer.

Who should lead this time of Daily Prayer?

God’s Word teaches us that fathers and husbands are given the responsibility of bringing up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. If they are not present or willing, mothers are called by God to lead her children. Daily Prayer is essential to a Christian’s life and faith.

Why this resource?

This short resource was created to make leading Daily Prayer as easy as possible. With this, your Bible, and your hymnal (Lutheran Service Book), you are ready to start.

What should I do first?

First, you will need to choose a time of the day to do devotions that works best for your family. We suggest at the beginning or end of the day. Guard this time.

What now?

Get out your Bible, your hymnal and review the chart inside this resource. Then go to the back of this resource for step by step instructions. Start the habit of daily prayer today. Whenever you start, start with week one on the chart.

What happens when I forget?

Confess your sins to Jesus, receive his forgiveness, and he will raise you up to new life. Walk in that newness of life as you return to your habit of daily prayer. You may also find someone your trust and ask them to encourage you in this habit.


Video — Mom has creative and simple method to teach the Lord’s Prayer to her young son

Facebook group member Melissa Sutton has a creative method for teaching her young son the Lord’s Prayer. When I first saw this video, I thought, “That is as slick as greased lightning! Why haven’t I ever seen that before?”

She printed the prayer and sliced it into a little more than a dozen ribbons of paper. Each ribbon has a portion of the prayer. Then she asks her son to find the ribbon that begins the prayer, When he finds it, he moves that ribbon into a second column, and she has him read what is printed on it,

Then she asks him, “What’s next?” He sifts through the remaining ribbons to find the one that has the next part of the prayer. He moves that ribbon into the second column, and she has him read what is on that ribbon.

This sequence of “What’s next,” moving the ribbon, and reading it is continued until he has assembled the whole prayer.

She frequently encourages him. When he finds the right ribbon that has the next part of the prayer, she usually says something like, “Good job!”

This is a pretty ingenious teaching method. Moms, please try this and give us your feedback. We’d especially like to see all the videos of this and other methods of teaching the Catechism that we can get our hands on.

And Dads, there is no reason why you shouldn’t or couldn’t be doing this too. It is as simple as falling off a log, and we all can do that.