Vol. 10 — No. 34 August 24, 1969
Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.Psalm 65:1
For thou, O God, hast heard my vows. Psalm 61:5
In Christ Jesus, Fellow Redeemed:
On our Confirmation Day all of us paid our vows unto the Lord our God. And He heard those vows!
What did we vow? We repeated the vow made for us in our baptism—to “renounce the devil, and all his works, and all his ways.” After having arrived at the age of personal responsibility and after having been instructed in the works of Satan and in the seriousness and consequences of sin, we took our stand against Satan. We vowed to battle him all the way.
After having been thoroughly instructed in the nature and work of our God—how He created and still preserves us, how He redeemed us by being made man to fulfill all righteousness for us and suffer and die for us as the spotless Lamb of God, how He sanctifies us through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, we confessed our faith in that God of our salvation—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And we vowed, “by the help of God,” to abide in that faith.
We furthermore vowed to remain members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to suffer all even death for the teachings we knew to be true, and to make diligent use of the Means of Grace so that by the power of God’s Spirit we would be able to keep our vows.
These vows we made—a shorter or a longer number of years ago. Have we kept them? Must we not all plead guilty of at times falling for Satans’ temptations and compromising our confession of faith? Lord, forgive! For Thy mercy’s sake, forgive! Lord, hear our prayer and strengthen us!
For our strengthening we offer the message addressed to the children and parents of the 1969 confirmation class of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Winter Haven, Florida, as written by Pastor Galstad:
ARISE, BE NOT AFRAID
And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. Matthew 17:7-8.
Arise today and stand before your God
And parent, friends, and fellow-Christians here;
Give him your hand this day in promise sure
That you have found the precious gem of truth,
And on this day commit your selves for life
To him who is your Savior and your God.
Your loyalty today is to your Lord,
And to His truth—not to this building made
By human hands, nor to Immanuel,
Not to this plot of ground, this Bethel blessed,
Nor to Jerusalem, or Temple grand,
But to the God who lives, and source of life,
Your Savior and your all!
What you have learned, keep safely in your heart.
Let it not go, till God on high has blessed
You with the crown of glory given those
Who faithful are until the bitter end.
Unto the bitter end? Yes! So said God.
But with the bitter sweet: forgiveness full
For all the sin to which the flesh is heir,
And active, full of guilt and wrong itself—
Because our Savior died upon the tree!
For on the path that Pilgrim walks some years
The love of Savior-God has given peace,
Deep calm of mind, and confidence so great
That quiet, rest, tranquillity are yours—
The givings of His Spirit.
If, prodigal, you turn and walk away,
(May God prevent!)
And show your back to God, and not your face,
So vacant is your chair in this, God’s house,
While you in the far country of the world
Devour your self and stuff, your self-respect,
Your parents’ name, your church and school bring shame,
Until foul Satan’s lie is so exposed
(Who promised pleasure, gain, and all the world)
That you lie helpless, left alone, friends gone—
Then think back to your loving Father’s house?
Where in your childhood, as this very day,
Your special day, you tested and found good
The love of God in Christ that swelled your heart.
Look up! See Jesus only! Come again,
Tho salty tears, repentant, blind your eyes!
Heed not the dreary counsel of despair:
That you have sinned too much to have God’s grace.
The Father’s tears of love meet yours of shame
And mingle in that mystery, beyond our grasp,
That found a way us sinners lost to save.
The subtle ways of Satan watch still more:
“Eat, drink, and merry be; tomorrow die!
Take all life has to offer, drink its cup;
You live but once, so live it to the full;
Get everything you can—you owe your self.”
The lie is this that men die not right time,
But live to eat the bitter fruit that comes,
Of body broken, conscience seared, the taste
Of ashes in the mouth.
Lot’s wife remember well. She turned, and changed
To stone, that last and fatal turn; all lost!
Christ beckons you today atop the Mount
That way lies glory and eternal life,
Perpetual then, no time and space to stop
From knowing then as we ourselves are known
Now, by omniscient God.
A banquet there awaits, served by the Lord,
Himself the servant of his saints, beyond
Our grasp, but promised in the Word.
Look up! See Jesus only, high enthroned!
When kingdoms of this world have then become
The Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!
We are His kings and priests, elect by Him
To place us as in first divine intent
We were Creation’s glory, by His hand—
Redeemed, restored, forgiven by the Christ
He greet today upon the mountain top
Of all your hopes, as this important day
You pledge allegiance, full and free, to Him!
The glory of the Lord, in splendor bright,
Bedazzled Peter, James, and John, and all
Who saw Him on the holy mount, and swayed
Them to desire that they should build and stay.
It grieves a soul to wait, to school itself
In strife and pain, and then to persevere
That it may gain the hope for which it strives:
The goal, eternal life.
When storms grow fierce, affliction rears its head
Friends do betray, and war steals off our sons,
A trusted one turns foul, and troubles swarm—
The curse may causeless come, or so we think,
And we are pressed beyond our wits to know
The answer to eternal Why?
At times with pious Job, in rectitude,
The stroke may puzzling be: Oh, why, God, smite?
The answer will well up: The hand of love!
ARISE, BE NOT AFRAID! For JESUS ONLY is
The express image of the God of love.
You know Him from His Word, and yet much more,
Transfigured there He stands, on mountain top,
This day you pledge allegiance unto Him,
A secret you have learned, with Spirit’s help:
That none can know but those who come and say,
Forgive, for I have sinned.
Now go, and sin no more, His message is,
And let your heart be charged with holy power
To serve Me as you meet Me, in My own,
In those who do My name confess, believe,
Now you be Christ to every soul you meet,
Reflect My wish, My will, My heart’s intent,
That they hear and believe.
That I am such, you see as you look up.
And when I come to judge, the sentence is
That all, long hid, shall plainly public be:
The secret brought to sight, the darkness visible,
And every longing soul rewarded then
That often hid, in quiet, trusting heart,
For fear of scoff and scorn.
There is a secret of the Lord with them
That fear Him quietly and wait the day
They shall be justified: I prove them right!
God bless you as you go! Today your friends
And fellow-faithful gathered round to pray
The Spirit’s strength upon your tender souls
As parents, pastor, church of God—we all
Commend you to the God of grace and power
To keep you all your days.
The Spirit send a quickness to your soul
To grasp the strength God offers you and yours
In Sacrament, salvation’s final seal,
That you were saved, when on the cruel cross,
The body and the blood of Christ was shed
To make you free. That Lord is here today,
In Word and Sacrament. Amen.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that there In may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20.
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Revelation 2:10.
May God the Holy Spirit remain with and bless each of you who once paid your vow at the altar on your Confirmation Day to the end that each of you may receive the crown of life. Amen.
Ministry by Mail is a weekly publication of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Subscription and staff information may be found online at www.clclutheran.org/ministrybymail.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.