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Setting a Family Devotion Routine for Back to School

Back-to-school season was much closer to “back-to-chaos” season for my family. Even as an only child, I was part of so many extracurriculars that my parents were constantly running me around, even on weekends. There was rarely time for family dinners, much less a moment to try and squeeze in family devotions. My family could have used a steady routine, especially when it came to planning family time.

How to Memorize Scripture (and Why It’s Important)

If you grew up going to Sunday School or confirmation classes, I can almost guarantee that you had to memorize Bible verses. It likely went something like this: You remember you have a Bible verse due today. You quickly memorize it by repeating it to yourself a bunch of times, stumble through presenting it to your teacher, and then immediately forget it.

Many of us don’t have any Bible verses memorized besides John 3:16. This is a problem.

Wade in the Water

It was Easter Sunday at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, NY. The tiny urban neighborhood church was crowded with saints singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” at the top of their lungs, their song rising to the roof as incense. New LCMS Lutheran converts Janine Bolling and Gerard Bolling, brother and sister by blood, with their entire Brooklyn family watching, were to become brother and sister in Christ, with the entire family of God both gazing down from heaven and gazing forward from the hot wooden pews in the not-yet-air-conditioned sanctuary.

Jesus Gives You the Perfect Prayer

I am far from an expert on prayer.  

I’m not the person to go to for tips on how to be consistent in prayer.

I can remind you of the assurance we have in prayer because of Christ.

The prayer we now call the “Lord’s Prayer” did not originate from a monk or a mother. It was given to us by Jesus, our Lord. He tells us to pray to our Father with simple words. Jesus ensures us that the Father knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:5–8).

Four Bible Verses for Rejoicing Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

During hard times, it can be difficult to find the energy to rejoice. It feels easier to focus on how bad everything is and to dig in your feet and say, “Nope, nothing to be joyful about here.” I am frequently guilty of this. I often take a look at what is going on in the world and, instead of bringing my worries to God, I bury myself in how bad it is. In biblical times, there were many situations where believers could have lost all hope. But God’s promises break through and turn hard times into joy.

Kneeling for Justice

In my office, I have a kneeler that I got off of Craigslist from a Lutheran church that had closed many years ago. It was the first piece of furniture I dropped down into my empty, stuffy, non-air-conditioned office that I was presented with at the beginning of my vicarage at Bethlehem Lutheran Church—a church I now serve as pastor. I lovingly refer to this office as my “penthouse suite.” See, the 171-year-old urban school building that Bethlehem now worships in was built to have five different levels. Thirty steps for each landing. Of course, where was my office?

The very top.

The Penthouse.

Planning Your Ideal Devotional Time

When planning time for daily devotions, ideally, what does that look like to you? If my ideal devotional time was fulfilled, I would find myself at my favorite lakeside coffee shop each morning. The smell of coffee and caramel rolls would mingle in my nose. My four kids would be playing outside and my ears would faintly pick up on their encouraging words to one another and soft giggles. My mind would be free from clutter and ready to learn. I would always have my favorite leggings and soft plaid shirt clean. The coffee would be a perfect drinking temperature. Not too hot to drink and far from cold. 

What is God Calling You to Do?

Life wakes up slowly—one-eye-at-a-time, rollover, and pull the covers back up over your head slowly—on a Sunday morning in a college town. Life wakes up very slowly on a summer Sunday in a town that’s just starting to come out of its two-month pandemic isolation.

How Being Creative Makes Us Appreciate God

During quarantine, a lot of people I know have been taking up creative hobbies. I’ve seen tons of Instagram posts of people sharing their sourdough bread recipes, knitting projects, and watercolor paintings.

Being creative is definitely a gift from God—a gift that we might not always think of! Creative projects have actually been instrumental in my faith, as it makes me appreciate different facets of God’s character, as well as appreciating all of the blessings He has given me.

Things I Love About My Dad

Daughters have two fathers: their heavenly Father and their human father. Both care for them immensely, but it is human fathers that have the joyful vocation of raising their daughters in the faith and reflecting God’s love for them. Father’s Day is approaching, so I spent time with some friends reflecting on the impact that our fathers have had on our lives and the moments of happiness we experienced growing up. Read their responses below and think about some of your favorite characteristics about your dad.

This month’s download includes five devotions about courageous, faith-filled women of the Bible, compiled by Karen Eck. Build more father-daughter moments centered around Christ by reading and reflecting on these stories together.