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Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

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This Is Our Toledoth

In Genesis 4 and 5 we find a fascinating and hotly debated word. The ESV rendered it “generations.” In Hebrew it’s “toledoth.” Genesis 5 begins with it: “This is the book of the generations of Adam”—the toledoth of Adam. The word means “generations, account, or record.” It shows up 13 times in the book of Genesis and nearly all of them are significant.

steeple all generations

Toledoth in the Bible

Now, we won’t go into the debate over the toledoth other than to point out that opinions differ over whether these words serve as a conclusion to the previous section or as an introduction to the next. And the chapter markers aren’t terribly helpful here. Because, remember, the chapter markers aren’t original to the text. They were added in the 1200s to help us find sections of the Bible more quickly. I believe the first sentence of chapter 5:1 belongs with the previous section.

And it functions as a signature or a mark of authorship to the previous section. Now I know tradition tells us that Moses authored the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible – and I see no reason to question that tradition, but the question does arise, “How did Moses know what happened thousands of years before he was born?” Well, God could have simply told him. That’s certainly one possibility. The tradition could have been passed down orally, but these toledoth in the book of Genesis might help us answer that question.

Archaeology has actually been very helpful here because archaeologists have found numerous examples of toledoths in other non-biblical writings and they consistently function as conclusions to their texts. More specifically, they function as marks of authorship, a sort of signature. So, you’d have the account of a family, their story, and it concludes with “This is the toledoth of so and so.”

Well, here in Genesis we have a toledoth that records the planting of the Garden of Eden, the Fall, Abel’s murder, Cain’s descendants, and Seth’s birth (that’s the part we read), and it concludes with “This is the toledoth of Adam.” We may very well have the signature of Adam preserved in Genesis. This section of text from Genesis 2:5 to 5:1 may very well be the personal record of Adam, the story that he preserved in writing, his toledoth.

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Happy Birthday! (And Thanks for Putting Family above Work)

birthday cupcake

While sorting through my office recently, I discovered a birthday card that my daughter made for me a few years ago. What she wrote in that card provided some needed reassurance that I have been modeling for her what I ought.

“Character,” wrote C. S. Lewis, “is what you do when people aren’t watching.” I might add a corollary: “The character that really matters is what your children see when you aren’t aware that they are watching.”

My daughter has been watching me. What has she seen?

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Unless the Lord Is Building

1. Unless the Lord is building,
the builders build in vain.
Unless the Lord is watching,
what good the watchman’s strain?


2. The Lord is our Provider,
Creator ever blest!
Though many might despise Him,
He gives His loved ones rest.


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Breasts and Hands

Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.

(Isaiah 49:15–16)

In this passage, God speaks to His children with all of the warmth, tenderness, and reassurance of a breastfeeding mother. Women who have nursed a baby understand that, even if distracted by a project or travel, her body will not let her forget to nurse or pump. When her breasts fill to capacity with milk, there will be physical consequences for her—an unwanted milk letdown, inflammation, or even pain and infection. But, even if a nursing mother could forget her child, God cannot forget His children.


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The Gentle Childhood: A Path Toward Home for Mother and Child

If you have been homeschooling your children for longer than 3 days, you have inevitably been faced with THE QUESTION from well-meaning family, friends, church members, doctors, dentists and neighbors; “How DO you DO IT?”

Or, better still, the “I could NEVER” statements.

“I could NEVER teach my children at home!”

“I would NEVER have enough patience!”

“I could NEVER get that kind of respect from MY children!”

When I am feeling charitable, I remind myself that people don’t MEAN to be stupid! But when I am feeling less so, I plaster my long-ago-perfected, slightly smug smile on my face and say: “Thank you!”

All the while SCREAMING in my head: “Are you KIDDING ME?!”

“Do you honestly think that just because these cute little demons have enough training in basic manners to stand straight, look you in the eye, smile and say ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, ma’am’ that they don’t possess the same black hearts as your little monsters?”

“Or do you think that MY black heart is somehow less sinful than YOUR black heart?”

I know what you know and what every home educating parent knows: it is only a profound sense of duty and vocation that holds us to this commitment we have made and returns us to the family altar again and again; day after day. This sense of duty coupled with our desires for our children and ourselves will form the basis for my article. But before delving into these ideas, I’d like to get up on my high horse for just a moment.

Homeschooling Perspectives

I would like to take just a moment to address not only homeschoolers, but pastors and teachers as well:

Home educators

Do not be too hard on people for comments like the ones above and don’t be discouraged by it. When people misunderstand what we are about in this business; love them. Answer them gently. Pray for them . But also, tell the truth. Do not romanticize the homeschooling life; to them or yourself. Defend your choice with gentleness and respect. Speak truth about the daily grind and ask them for their prayers for your family. Be humble and be honest.


Your parishioners who home school are doing a hard thing and a good thing and a Godly thing. Support them. Pray for them. Seek to understand their decision and the thought and prayer that goes into it and encourage them with God’s Word for their strength and comfort when the days are long. Homeschooling mothers, especially, wear the weight of the world on their shoulders. Lead them to repentance and remind them that Jesus bore that weight in His hands and it is unbelief to place it in theirs. Point them away from the endless homeschooling blogs and Pinterest sites that make them feel “less than” and point them toward the Lord’s Table where they can be renewed and refreshed and forgiven; emboldened to face another week.


We are not judging you or your abilities as a teacher by choosing to homeschool. We respect your vocation and seek to emulate it. When a homeschooling mother or father comes to you with questions or insecurities or when life circumstances require that they put their child in your classroom, do not make them feel like a failure for the gaps that will inevitably exist as if no other child in the history of mankind has ever struggled in math except a former homeschooled child! Share your knowledge with them. Empathize with the struggle. Show them grace.

We in the church too often allow dividing lines to be drawn between those of us in church schools, public schools and home schools. We forget that we are all on the same team: team HEAVEN. We should be 100% united in our support of families and our prayers for the good of the other should be frequent and robust.

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Encouraging Daily Devotions in the Congregation

How can pastors encourage their parishioners to live out the Word of God every day of the week, using the Sunday Divine Service as a foundation? The Hausvater Project invited Pastor David Mumme of Trinity Lutheran Church in Waterville, Minnesota, to explain the resources he uses to promote the prayer life of his congregation.


pray 11746 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 ESV).


It is essential to our life in Christ that we heed those words of St. Paul both in our life together within a faithful Christian congregation and in our life together within a faithful Christian family and home. We pastors spend a significant amount of time planning and preparing for this in the congregation by choosing hymns and preparing bulletins for Divine Services. But how do we help the members of our congregation let the word of Christ dwell richly in their homes and families? Every pastor encourages his members to read the Scriptures, to pray with and for their families, to sing hymns together, and to learn by heart Bible verses and the texts of Luther’s Small Catechism. But how do we help them to actually do this?

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