hausvater 2c horiz 800x300

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)

  • How to Design a Family Altar Board

    Here are some practical tips for engaging your family in a discussion of the Sunday Gospel lesson, the weekly catechism section, Bible memory work, and hymnody. Read More
  • Jesus Sinners Doth Receive

    Download a free study guide for this Gospel-centered hymn, including questions, an answer key, and traceable handwriting practice sheets to aid memorization! Read More
  • A Guide to Our Order of Worship

    As we now walk through the liturgy, note how it presents the life of Christ: His birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, etc. All true Christian worship is centered in Him and performed through Him. Read More
  • Luther’s Morning Prayer

    Learn to chant Luther’s Morning Prayer—an excellent way for your family begin each day in Jesus’ name! Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Celebrating Mother's Day, Luther-style

Luther understood that it was through marriage that God blesses all the institutions of the earth, and that it was through marital procreation that children should be born, and the church would prosper. If the devil were to destroy motherhood, he would achieve a great victory against the church. There would be fewer children being born, and fewer being raised in God’s Word, which would mean fewer pastors, teachers, and missionaries. There would also be fewer men who knew how to care for women and children with compassion and sensitivity, since those men themselves would never have been raised by a mother. ...

→ Click to Continue Reading →

"The Majesty Concealed within Them": A Mother's Day Sermon

In God’s eyes there is no vocation higher than parent. Think about it. Is the vocation of teacher higher than parent? Why does the vocation of teacher exist? To assist parents in teaching their children. The vocation of teacher serves the vocation of parent. What about the vocation of doctor? Well, who does a doctor serve? Families. The vocation of doctor may pay more than parent, but it exists to serve parents and families. ...

As the Church of God it’s time we rightly extolled the vocation of motherhood and it’s time we finally saw the resplendent majesty concealed therein. There is no greater vocation on earth, for it is God’s chosen means to bring children into this world and, likewise through parents, to bring children into Christ’s kingdom of forgiveness through Holy Baptism. Happy Mother’s Day. ...

→ Click to Continue Reading →

A Mother’s Journey into Homeschooling

About eight years ago, God started tugging at my conscience after we placed our two daughters in the local public school. We chose the public school system for three reasons: 1) our finances would not allow us to send them to our Lutheran church’s parochial school, 2) even had our finances been sufficient for a private school education, the church’s school soon closed, and 3) our Christian parents and grandparents had attended public schools, so it just seemed the normal thing to do. Besides, with our youngest now attending first grade all day, it was “my time to enter the workplace” once again, this time as a part-time teacher’s aid for the same school system.

Week after week I spent time with other people’s children: preschoolers whose teachers negligently left them in soiled diapers; elementary students with special needs—most of whom were taking prescription drugs to keep them manageable; and EI (emotionally impaired) high school students who were left to do little or no work but, instead, watched nearly pornographic music videos and played computer games most of the day. I spent time with children who were starving for conversation with adults, who had broken families, no proper winter clothing, fevers and runny noses. I witnessed bullying, loneliness, and, especially, apathy.

All the while my mind and heart would intermittently drift back to my own children. Who was spending time with them? How were they being comforted and cared for? Most importantly, what were they being taught? I felt empty and wrong for leaving them under someone else’s charge. It felt unnatural for me to be separated from them, as if I had abandoned them. Most everyone else I knew raised their children this way, so why was it so hard for me? I prayed to the Lord Jesus and asked Him to show me what I should do.

→ Click to Continue Reading →

Mothering Many: Handling Church and Bedtime Prayers

Excerpted from Chapter 7 of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More, by Marie K. MacPherson

In this book, 25 moms of 160+ children navigate 56 challenges that mothers frequently face: menu-planning, laundry, time-management, self-care, homeschooling, intimacy, home-devotions, and much more! Conceived by one perplexed mom and gestated over eight years, Mothering Many has finally been birthed through a labor of love by dozens of fellow Christian women. Literally written between nursing babies and wiping bottoms, this book offers hundreds of strategies, insights, and ideas for strengthening your home for the Lord. So, if you're too busy from the rigors of motherhood to brainstorm for improvement, crack open this book and let these moms troubleshoot for you!

In the following excerpts, you will gain ideas for guiding children at church and saying bedtime prayers.

How do you handle getting through church services or Bible study with many little ones?

  • Everyone takes a Bible and notepaper and a pencil. The younger ones draw a picture of something the pastor says. The next older ones will write single words that the pastor says. The next older group will write full quotations from the pastor or Scripture references. The oldest will take full notes. This keeps everyone occupied and listening! Also, prayer! If a child is distracting to others, I take him or her out and handle the situation. This is my job, and I take it seriously when it comes to church.—Lissa
  • Practice “sit-time” at home. Start with 10 minutes a day, where they can look at Bible story books, and then slowly add time. Praise and reward them. This is a skill they need to learn for many things in life. Start early on. They can look at books but they may not talk and they may not get off their chair.—Karina
  • I don’t allow any toys or playthings. Only those who are able to read may get a bulletin or hymnal. Everyone is expected to stand and sit and pray with the congregation, and participate to the best of their ability. I’m pretty strict in church, but it has paid off. Anyone who acts up gets taken out and disciplined. Leaving the service is never pleasant for them. Since my husband is a pastor and I’m handling everyone by myself, it’s really important for them to know what’s expected and have me follow through.—Ann
  • It all comes down to the tone that we’ve chosen for discipline in the household. My husband and I have always enacted loving discipline, and we are strict. However, every time a child is disciplined, we follow up with forgiveness and a hug and a kiss. This lays the groundwork for our experiences out and about, traveling, and at church. The discipline that we’ve established is a big part of the reason that we can travel as much as we do, enjoy a pretty flexible schedule, and know that the children are going to have fun, too. I’ve never been the type to take toys or snacks to church. I think that sends the message, “Adults are supposed to listen, but you can play or eat in here.” It’s God’s house, not our home! The kids are expected to sit. I find that they challenge me the most when they’re 18 months to 3 years old and that’s when I have to lay it on the line. I’ve had several tests with each of the children, but we’ve learned together, and they are very well-behaved in church. Part of the reason I need this from them is that my husband never has the chance to sit with us. If a 2-year-old is being naughty, talking to her hours later is pointless and unfair. I need to enforce our rules, not expect anyone else to do it. The last reason I need the children to know how to behave in church is because I play organ about half of the Sundays. If they won’t behave for me, they certainly won’t behave for a friend! If I let my kids behave like animals in church, that takes away my opportunity to serve the Lord through music. So, the loving discipline that comes from the Lord is a comfort to all of us. My husband and I are enabled through the Spirit to serve during the church service, knowing that the children are not going to detract from the Word by anything they’ll do. And don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying it always goes perfectly, but many people make a point to tell us, “Your children are so well-behaved in church.”—Kate
  • Our babies have always stayed with us in church for their first year. The 2- and 3-year-olds are in the nursery as we work with them to learn to sit quietly for service time. Then, from age 4 on, they are with our family in the sanctuary. For the non-readers, we have special notebooks that they use to copy words from the Bible or that I have written, draw pictures related to the message or quietly “read” through their Bibles. I do use faith-based stickers to reward their participation in worship, which they put on their notebooks. For the older children, they are encouraged to copy the Scripture passage that was taught or take notes from the sermon. At home, we all discuss the sermon and ask the younger children questions.—Janet
  • We have found it really helpful to train for church. I line up chairs and put on a tape recording of the Bible for 20 minutes. All the children are expected to sit still as if in church. If they did not, I could discipline them more immediately than I could at church. After a while, they all did really well. The baby sits on my lap.—Amy

→ Click to Continue Reading →

Mothers and Their Great Influence

In 1 and 2 Kings, mothers are a major influence on the kings of Israel and Judah. Sometimes they are named. When they are, they are notably a strong influence.

One mother of a king of Judea must have had a great1 influence on her son and thereby on the future. Abijah (or Abi, as recorded in 1 Kings) was the wife of the terrible king Ahaz. Ahaz is one of the worst kings in the history of the Bible. His faithlessness, when further tested by threats and pressure from his enemies, lead him to the worst kind of idolatry. Not only did he allow the worship of the Canaanite gods, he participated by burning his own son as an offering.

We must speculate some to fill out the story of Abijah. She must have been horrified at the wickedness of her husband and, doubtless, sought to protect her son, Hezekiah. As her name implies (“The LORD is my father”) she put her trust in the Lord and raised Hezekiah under the influence of godly men at the temple. Upon his coming to reign he put into action a plan to restore the prominence of the temple that his mother had raised him in and the Lord that she had taught him to love.

momson 4015

→ Click to Continue Reading →

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.

→ Click to Continue Reading →

Family Altar Resources

St. Mark Lutheran Church (De Pere, Wisconsin) has developed a series of resources for home devotions:

  • Family Altar Introduction
  • A Family Meditation
  • Three Bible Reading Plans
  • Printable Prayer Journal Sheets

→ Click to Continue Reading →

Reflections, and Resources, for Christians Who Can’t Go to Church during the COVID-19 Lockdown

If I attend church this morning, I could be fined $1,000 or imprisoned for 90 days.

In America.

In small-town, midwestern America.

I’m not a convict.

I’m not a fugitive.

I’m not infected (to the best of my knowledge) with COVID-19.

But, just in case, last Sunday my church told everyone to stay home.

Yes, last Sunday, it was against the church to go to church. (They provided a videostream service instead.)

This Sunday, today, it is against the state to go to church. I could get arrested just for trying.

No kidding.

Not a dream.

Not quite a nightmare, either.

More like a tragedy. “Tragedy,” in the tradition of the Greek playwrights, had a peculiar meaning: it wasn’t just that the story ended in sadness, but rather that it must do so, that it inescapably would have a bad ending, and, moreover, the main characters knew this but were powerless to do anything about it. They act, and sometimes aim to act freely, but always, it is as if someone else is pulling their puppet strings.

If we could do it all over again, what would we do differently?

Since we can’t go back to re-do any of it differently, what should we do now?

Following are some resources to help you think through how we got to where we are, and how we might get to where we’d like to be. There is no formal position statement here. Even if I tried to write one, it would be obsolete by the time you read it, in this rapidly changing COVID-19 era. I offer simply some food for thought and some resources for encouragement—including some timeless resources.

Is the Church the Problem or the Solution?

  • A New York Times editorial blames Christians for being (supposedly) anti-science and thereby thwarting (supposedly) scientific methods for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
  • A Los Angeles Times op-ed exonerates Christians for using the common cup for Holy Communion, citing scientific studies that show this is just as safe as using individual cups.

Must Services Be Canceled? (Dare We Postpone Easter?)

  • An article in the Federalist expressed hope that social distancing could be prudently practiced while people continued to gather for public worship.
  • The Lutheran worship experts (or, better to say: “divine service” experts) at Gottesdienst caution against rescheduling Easter Sunday in view of prohibitions against attendance. They also offer suggestions for marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ whenever congregations do resume meeting publicly, noting that every Sunday is a mini Easter anyway.
  • A Georgian Orthodox Church has labeled the closing of churches as “an unjustified offense against God.”
  • Minnesota’s Executive Order 20–20 exempts clergy as “essential” workers, “wherever their services may be needed,” which would seem to permit pastors to make home visits, while the main thrust of the order is to prohibit any public gathering (including, obviously, worship service at the church).
  • The President of Brazil, by contrast, has exempted churches from the general prohibition of public gatherings; church services are “essential services.”

→ Click to Continue Reading →