"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children." Deuteronomy 6:4-7 

Impressed?

  • By Zach Hoffman
  • 06 Apr, 2017

Let's take a walk

4 Hear, O Israel: The   Lord   our God, the   Lord   is one.   5 Love   the   Lord   your God with all your heart   and with all your soul and with all your strength.   6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.   7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.   9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Pause for a moment and think about the passage above. It is hard work to disciple a child. The NIV uses the word “impress.” This makes me think of those moments where you get down on your knees, and while holding your child in your arms you say, “I want you to look at me.” Then you say the important truth that you want to impress upon them, “I need you to stop eating paint chips.”

Impressed?

Impress is a reminder of our vocation as parents and grandparents. It is a call to do the hard work of discipling our children. It is also about the joy of living out this role that God has graciously given us. You are parents and grandparents of and for the Kingdom of God! You can share the forgiveness and healing of the gospel that you have received from Christ.

Since this is the first word I am writing to you in this way I want you to know that you are doing holy work. It’s true. Deuteronomy 6 reveals that God’s will is to make your home into a little church- a place of prayer, study and instruction of God’s Word, hymns and songs of praise, and a home that overflows with the hope that we have in Christ

500 years and still impressive!

I am hoping that this blog in some small way continues the Reformation tradition of equipping parents to be priests and pastors of the home.  If you were wondering if a quote from Luther was coming… you would be correct.

“Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops and priests to their children, if they make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal.” –Martin Luther

I would argue that we more easily see ourselves as guides, coaches, or teachers of our children. To be a pastor or Apostle of my home might be a completely new idea! On this page, we will spend time together figuring out what this means for your children now, and as they grow older.

In the future, I hope to share some reflections on discipling children. I am learning as I go. I will write as both a parent and a pastor. I do not have either role completely figured out yet. I only hope to take what I notice and pass it on to you. I’ll also highlight different resources for parenting that I find. Who knows? We might even share interviews with other people who have reflected on sharing faith at home.  

In short, I hope this blog is one way of walking with you as you reveal the mystery of God’s love in Jesus Christ to the next generation.

I’m excited to get started! 

In Christ, 

Pastor Zach

Impressed

By Zach Hoffman 13 Jul, 2017

It might be one of the hardest moments that you will have to witness as a parent.

Of course, it had been coming for some time now. Your child was always different from the other kids. It almost sounds cliché to say it, but your child was always different . Maybe not special or gifted to any greater or lesser degree than any of the other children...

She had a sense of humor like all the rest…

He could demonstrate confidence when needed…

Sometimes she would be the one on the playground leading a pack of other kids…

Still, your child was always just… more vulnerable than the others.

Now his head is down, and he won’t lift it up to look at you. He is not speaking. Normally he finds it difficult to be silent. You’ve never seen that reaction before.

Now, you are holding her in your arms after a miserable day. Her tears soak your shirt, and you hold her tight.

You long for the early days when a mere hug and a good cry could set almost anything right. They tell you how no one would pick them for the team. No one would sit with them at lunch. Yesterday’s friends acted like complete strangers today to your child.

What do you do now? Assure them that their best friend who has been sick for the last week should be back in school soon? Tell them next year summer camp will be better? Give them some pointers to improve their social skills?

First, know there is hope. I used to do youth ministry, and now, I serve as the sole pastor of Good Shepherd. I have seen a lot of youth who have gone through heartbreaking periods of loneliness. Perhaps, they had friends that turned against them. Maybe it was a crisis point in a years’ long struggle to find their place. Often times, this clarifies what friendship is, and what they should seek in friends; as well as what friends are seeking in them. In the more painful moments, they simply need you not solutions.  

Remember who you are in these times. You are called to do the holy work of parenting.  


By Zach Hoffman 25 May, 2017

Young Biff: What's wrong, McFly? Chicken?
Marty McFly: What did you just call me?
Young Biff: Chicken!
Marty McFly: Nobody! Calls me... chicken.

Back to the Future Part II

 

If anyone deserved a fat helping of justice it was Biff Tannen. The iconic bully of the Back to the Future movies always knew how to push Marty McFly. In fact, he successfully tormented Marty in two separate time periods! Nobody wept for Biff any time (any time period ?) he got what he had coming to him… and yet, what would life be without Biff? What would Back to the Future be like without this menace?

He is someone we love to hate. Maybe you have imagined what you would do if you were in Marty’s shoes. A swift kick? A cutting insult? An elaborate and humiliating act of vengeance?  

By Zach Hoffman 08 May, 2017

The alarm goes off like it does every Sunday morning. The bed calls for you to fall back into it and slumber. However, years of habit and routine have taught you to ignore its call. It seems like a normal Sunday, but this time it’s different.  

There is something else holding you back from getting out of bed. You remember, again , that you are not going to the place you normally go. You are going to try that other church that your friends have invited you too. They heard your story and invited you out of sympathy. They said you would be welcomed there. Maybe you will be, but it feels weird- like a small betrayal.  Still, you’re a believer, and believers have to worship…somewhere.

You did not decide randomly to attend a new church. You were not thinking about this a week ago. Seven days earlier, you walked into the congregation you have always belonged too. It was the one that became your home. Then you hit your breaking point. Someone said something deeply hurtful. They blamed you and judged you. Made you feel worthless. Your children were mistreated. You were cast out. Years of being treated poorly and enduring insults have finally come to a head. You are going to a new church, because you cannot go back home.

“Lord, I can’t go back there. What am I supposed to do?”

If you go back then everywhere you turn you will see the person or persons who hurt you. The anger and rage, and then the tears will come bubbling to the surface. You don’t want a million questions about what happened last week. You are tired of thinking about it anymore, and talking about it is not going to help. People will try their best to make it ok. They will try to understand. Or are they just afraid the numbers will take a hit if you go? No. Going back is impossible. The hurt is too much right now. It will suffocate your worship.  

I’m writing this as a pastor. You might expect an appeal to come back to your old congregation just like you always have. Sadly, that’s not what I’m going to do. It would be unrealistic.

Instead, let me tell you that I know. I may have never felt your particular pain, but I know how mine feels and so does every other pastor. Every time we turn around on Sunday morning we see the faces that have hurt us. The ones who betrayed us. Those who gossip behind our backs, but they think we do not know. The person who we overheard condemning our parenting skills and the one who might only be coming to watch us go down in flames.

I remember the first morning as a pastor that I did not want to go back to church. I never thought I would feel that way, but I could not deny it went it happened. I was hurt. My family was hurting. I barely kept it together that entire Sunday morning. My heart pounded inside my chest for three straight hours, and I was the first one out the door after the last service.

I too have prayed: “Lord, I can’t go back there. What am I supposed to do?”

Do not go back to church the same way you always have. Go back wounded.

There was one who was cut down, doubted, cast aside, and betrayed. The deepest hurt came from those who called him Lord. They abandoned him and ran away. He was nailed to a tree and left for dead. On the cross, Jesus received wounds that he would carry for all eternity, because the church is even capable of scarring the Lord of Heaven and Earth.

Jesus knew the full meaning of these words: “You have taken from me friend and neighbor— darkness is my closest friend.” Psalm 88:17

He was not raised from the dead to create a new fellowship for himself. He went back to the very disciples who betrayed and abandoned him and revealed his wounds saying: “Peace be with you!”

Given the choice between breaking fellowship or seeking revenge Jesus chose to reveal his wounds and speak peace.

Parents, I beg you not for my sake or for the sake of numbers, but for the sake of Christ: Come back wounded. Whether it is your hurt or your child’s they will see the power of the resurrection.  Yes, they will see your weakness as you wrestle with the hurt. They will also see the faith that bears witness that Jesus is alive. He rose though he was wounded. He forgave though he was murdered. How will he not renew and heal the parts of his body of believers that have broken apart?

You cannot go to church the same way you went before, but you can go. You can go wounded and in hope that there is no wound, no matter how deep, that Christ cannot speak peace over.

By Zach Hoffman 24 Apr, 2017

“Jesus said to her, do not cling to me, for you have to go to work tomorrow.”

Mary immediately let go of Jesus, and the joy of Easter left her. Her mind became filled with plans for dinner later that day. Getting the kids in bed, because they had school in the morning. She wondered: Should I make their lunches tonight, or should I make them in the morning?

“Go and tell my disciples to continue their routines. I have risen. So it’s cool now.”

_______________________

Do you ever have a holiday come and go when you never really had a chance to get excited for it? All of a sudden, everything is “back to normal” when you feel like you never really left normal.

It’s hard for me to get in the mood for Christmas or Easter because of all the planning that goes into it. I know it might be that way for you as well. For me there are all the pastoral duties that come with these high feast days in the church year, but the bulk of the work is getting the list done on the family side. By the time the big holidays come and go, I am... actually, my wife is worn out.

Maybe we ought to make a decision for ourselves and our families. Maybe we can decide to not let stress, busyness, or holiday numbness continue to have the victory. After all, the victory does not come and go based on how we feel. It is ours forever because of what God has done for us in Christ. Remember that popular verse from Romans 8?   “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Truth is not always felt, but it is always real.

Take a Moment

Take a moment for a little bit of discipleship today. You are in the middle of your week. So it means that your children are in the middle of theirs. They won’t see you coming. Tell them Christ has risen, and stare at them until they say: “He has risen indeed! Alleluia” Ask them what they thought about Easter, and what they will remember most. Start something new like planting a flower or taking routine walks with your kids. Point out every new thing you see and share how these are all reminders of the new life we have in Christ and the new heavens and the new earth he has in store for us.

Christ has risen! (Type the appropriate Lutheran response in the comments below.)

By Zach Hoffman 06 Apr, 2017

4 Hear, O Israel: The   Lord   our God, the   Lord   is one.   5 Love   the   Lord   your God with all your heart   and with all your soul and with all your strength.   6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.   7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.   9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

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