A Faith to Live By!

Rev. Paul Zabel

by Paul Zabel

During a recent trip to visit relatives in St. Louis, we sat down to eat our evening meal in a restaurant with our nephew and his family. Early into the conversation, my grand-nephew noted that he had just begun attending his first year of confirmation class.

Through a number of questions I addressed to him, it became apparent that this announcement was not just “put on” to please Uncle/Pastor Paul, but contained actual excitement for what he was learning. As I sat there listening and taking it all in, I could not help but think how mightily God has blessed me, and how much I have that I need to be thankful for.

I treasure my children, grandchildren, and extended family of in-laws, cousins, nieces, and nephews. And no, we are not a perfect family! I pray for all of us, on a daily basis. Just last January my wife and I received the blessing of our ninth grandchild. As I watch her develop and grow, I am experiencing a wide range of emotions. As I look back over the years, on the one hand there are feelings of guilt that I was so wrapped up in my own interests and work that I did not give my children and grandchildren the time and attention that I could have or should have. On the other hand, as my own children and older grandchildren mature, I often see in them the heartfelt love they have for one another, their parents, their grandparents, and even more importantly, the love they have for their Lord and Saviour.

But back to confirmation class. As I page through my own catechism that I learned from and taught from, I come across the words written under the title of each of the Six Chief Parts in the Small Catechism. They read: “As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.” The footnote in the Book of Concord notes that in the Latin text, this phrase reads: “How, in a very plain form, schoolmasters should teach the Ten Commandments (or any of the other six chief parts) to their pupils.”

Regardless of who does the teaching, it is generally true that if you train a child in the way that he or she should go, they will not depart from it. Therefore, it is of tremendous importance that we invest wisely in the lives of our children, that their future might be made secure by being brought to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour from sin. And having faith in Him as their Lord and Saviour, they might also have the advantage of knowing the Christian way.

It is of tremendous importance that we invest wisely in the lives of our children, that their future might be made secure by being brought to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour from sin.

So often the destiny of an entire life is determined by what happens in early years. A consciousness of the presence of God in the journey through this life and the reality of the life to come can even be understood by the faith of a little child.

One summer a minister conducted a camp for his young people. His own thirteen-year-old boy was with him for the entire camping period learning the gospel songs, hearing the messages from the Bible—God’s Word—and being inspired to greater service in the Master’s kingdom. The boy had often complained that his father was not home enough so that he could play ball with him and do the other things youngsters enjoy so much. But when he left camp he handed his father a letter in which he said:

“Dear Dad, I want to thank you for the privilege I have had of being at camp this summer. I am going to attempt to keep the promises I have made. I will try to read my Bible every day. I am going to stay in partnership with God and talk to Him often and I am going to try to win a person for Christ. I won’t complain this year about your being gone so much, as long as I know you are preaching the gospel. For though I know that we can’t be together as much as I would like in this world, some day we will be together forever in the ‘house of many mansions.’”

“Train up a child in the way he should go;
Even when he is old he will not depart from it!” (Proverbs 22:6).


Rev. Paul Zabel is President of the East District of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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Posted By: Matthew Block
Posted On: November 23, 2017
Posted In: District Presidents, Headline,

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