Friday, November 9, 2007

“The ART of Love” John 15:12-14, Wedding of Lucas Tibbets and Bobbie Krueger (Pierce, NE)

S-1002 9/21/2007

Texts: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Romans 12:9-14; John 15:12-14

Theme: “The ART of Love” John 15:12-14

Wedding of Lucas Tibbets and Bobbie Krueger (Pierce, NE)

Lucas and Bobbie, family and friends Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

We have gathered on this joyful day, in the presence of God and these witnesses, to join in holy matrimony this man and this woman. The text I have chosen for your wedding homily is from the Gospel of St. John. Listen again as I read it: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:12-14).

Family and friends, please be aware that this sermon for Lucas and Bobbie alone, but if you want to eves drop on this message, you may do so.

1. The World’s View of Love.

Love is a word that is used so often. Yet, it has been used and misused more than any other word in the English language; and it has been bankrupt because love has many meanings. It has been devalued, degraded and destroyed of its true meaning. Many people use it without even thinking about it or its use. Some say, I love Pizza. I love my coffee. I love my dog. I love the Corn Huskers.

But lets be honest, would you love the pizza if it was spoiled? Would you love your coffee if it was cold or too strong? Would love your dog if he tore your apartment and destroyed your precious belongings? Would you love the Corn Huskers if they were a losing team?

As the world views love, it becomes apparent that love is conditional. You love me, I love you back. You hate me, I will hate you. You hurt me; watch out, because I am getting even with you.

Lucas and Bobbie, do you remember the first time you came to see me to begin our pre-marriage counseling session? I had you fill out some papers. One of the questions I asked was, “why do you want to get married?” Lucas you said, “I fell in love with my best friend and the person I want to share the rest of my life with.” (I think you had a little help from my son David). And you Bobbie said, “I feel I’ve found the perfect man to spend the rest of my life with. I want someone to share all of my moments with.” And I said that is good, but not good enough. First, because there is no one perfect, even if you think that Lucas is (I you know he isn’t), and second, there is more to marriage than just feelings.

II. Definitions of Love

C. S. Lewis wrote a book about love. In this book The Four Loves he teaches us that there are four different types of love.

  • 1. “Storge” love of parent
  • 2. “Agape” God’s unconditional love towards man
  • 3. “Philew” love of man to man, brotherly love
  • 4. “Eros” love of man to woman, erotic/passionate love

Now I am not here to promote the book of C. S. Lewis, even though it is a good book. Neither am I here to expound on all of these different kinds of love, but I am here to share with you the ART of Love, not from human’s perspective, but from God’s perspective.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 lays out for us the true meaning of love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” 1 Cor. 13:4-7).

Did you hear what Paul said? Love doesn’t seek its own, but rather thinks of the other person first. As you come into the marriage, you will by the grace of God learn the ART of love in that you no longer think of ME, but of WE. Because from now on, you will be one in the sight of God. One in unity. One in marriage. One in purpose and one in mission.

But I will tell you it is not easy to be united as one. For the sinful flesh always desires what’s in it for me. The old man in us, always thinks of self first. The old nature always desires to please self rather than the other person.

Your marriage is by grace connected to Christ’s cross. The real hard work of marriage was done when our Lord Jesus Christ offered up His life for you both. There you received forgiveness for all your sin. Even the sins you will commit against one another in marriage. Yet, as married and forgiven sinners, you see the masterpiece of forgiveness painted on Calvary’s cross. There is no greater portrait of true love than Jesus offering His life for you.

Lucas and Bobbie, I want you to think of the ART of love in this manner. I will use ART as an acronym:

A is for absolution. In order for your love to flow towards each other, you will need two good forgivers in your home. You see, you will hurt each other. You will disappoint each other. Someday you will say, “What possessed me to marry him/her? At you will be mean to one another, and when that happens you ask the Savior to help you forgive your spouse as the Savior Himself has forgiven you. Absolution becomes the glue that holds this marriage together.

R is for romance. After today, don’t stop being the courtship with one another. Keep the Romance alive. Set a time to go out on a date. Do something special for one another. Something unexpected that demonstrates that you are thinking of the other always. When the Romance is going strong, the flames of LOVE will never die down. Schedule on your calendar a time for this romance. Study together the book that Solomon wrote The Song of Songs and that will keep you on fire for one another. And the,

T is for the Tree of the Cross. Remember this well Lucas and Bobbie: where the cross is center, the apple does not fall far from this tree, and it is a delicious fruit of the spirit kind of love. When the cross is the hallmark of all you do, you will be able to be kind and patient and loving to the other. When the cross is the center, you will not seek your own will by His will and fulfill His commandments in your lives. The cross of Christ will be to you the guidelines of love and the lifelines of love.

With the Help of the Holy Spirit connected to a Church that teaches the Word of God and that is Christ focused and Cross-centered, you will be the best friends and lovers for the rest of your days. You will learn that love has no boundaries just as God’s Boundless love has no limits. You will fight for this marriage when disappointments, discouragement, disillusionment and dissatisfaction set in. And by the grace of God you will learn the meaning of Paul’s teaching on God’s Four Dimensional Love (Eph. 3) Length: Height: Breadth: and Depth.

Daily walk the extra mile with the help of Your Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Learn from Him the meaning of love—a love that took Him to the cross to die for your sins. Love that fulfilled what He taught, “Grater love has no man than this, than he lay down his life for His friends. You are His friends; He laid down His life for you so that you will be happy and blessed all the days of your married lives.

Remember these tid-bits of wisdom as you think about the ART of love.

  • * God is LOVE. It is not that He should be; could be; ought to be, will be; He IS LOVE.
  • * A goof friend of mine said, “Love is giving!”
  • * “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.”
  • * * Nothing speaks more clearly of God’s love than the cross. For there you truly come to know, and see the love of God not merely in words, but also in action.
  • * * There is an Arabic proverb that says, “The house that you love is not far from you.” In other word, when we love someone, their house is never far. How true that is in our love to our Awesome God, whose house of worship is never far from our hearts and heads.
  • * So you ask what is love? Love is that pulse that moves your heart to acknowledge your sins and need for a Savior. Love is working at forgiving those who hurt you and harmed you. Love is giving without expecting something in return. Love is that instrument that causes you to do things that may appear foolish or crazy.
  • * And when you asked God about love, this is how He paints the love scene, “For God so loved the world, “ME” so that He gave His one and Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) And this picture slowly unfolds before our very own eyes, as we see the Son of God, our Savior, Lord and King, allow Himself to be beaten, bruised and bloodied for us. He further opens His arm and allows others to nail it to a wooden beam, and then He opens the other arm, and allows this one to be nailed to the same beam. And with His outstretched and extended arms says, “I LOVE YOU MY CHILD.” Indeed, God is love and His love is made manifest in His will to the Father, in His Work on the cross, and in His Word–The Bible–our love letter.

What a privilege today to speak to you about the Good News of infinite love through our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Author of the ART of love. May this ART hold your picture of marriage till the ends of your lives. Amen.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Prayer Request

I will be traveling to Rice Lake, WI Sunday and will be doing interview on the
radio, newspaper and leaders of the community (or those who couldn't attend
the evening program) and then in the evening at 7:00 I will be speaking to
many about How to Witness to Muslims.
Pastor Nour a foot washer Phil. 1:6

Sunday, November 4, 2007

All Saint's Day. Rev. 21:9-11

S-1005 110/0428/07 All Saints Day/C. Hymns: (O)#376; #339; (S) #463; #644; (C) #468

Texts: Isaiah 26:1-4, 8-9, 13-21; Rev. 21:9-11, 22-27, 22:1-5; Matthew 5:1-12

Theme: “It Is Hard to Imagine” Rev. 21:9-11,

Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for today’s homily is the Reformation Psalm: “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:9-11).


Saints in Christ, the last couple of weeks we have been reading in the newspaper and listening on the radio and watching on TV the tragic account of Ted Klaudt (former state Rep), who is charged with the rape of two of his foster daughters. According to the defense attorney Klaudt is charged with sexual contact with these girls by lying to them, that he needed to test them if they could donate their eggs for profit. We listen to something like this, and we can’t imagine that someone could stoop so low.

Ashly Duchene of Phoenix is charged with negligent homicide of her one year old son, Ryan Galicker after leaving him in the hot sun for 7 hours while she worked as a waitress at Hooters. It is hard for us to imagine that a mother could forget her son. But she did.

In Kearney, NE., a six grade teacher is on the run with one of her students who is 13 years old. According to the AP report she is intimately involved with her student. It is hard for us to imagine why anyone would do something like this.

My sister Yasmine 2 months ago was diagnosed with the dreaded disease of cancer. Yesterday, the Lord who bought her with His precious blood called her to His eternal rest to be with Him forever. It is hard for me to imagine life without my sister Yasmine. Without her smile, her love and her zest of life.

But today, the Evangelist John speaks to us about the beautiful home that awaits us. The home of the Lord, where He dwells with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It is really hard to imagine a home like that. A home where there is no pain, suffering and sorrow.

On this All Saints Day, our eyes are lifted up to heaven to our home of glory. For there the promises of Christ spoken while He was on earth are fulfilled. He, who is the Resurrection and the Life, takes all of those who die in Him to be forever in His presence.

The Bible tells us that God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is as work within us (Ephesians 3:20). On Easter Sunday the disciples began to realize this when they saw the risen Lord. On Ascension Day their realization that God can do beyond the imaginable increased as they witnessed the Risen Savior ascended into Heaven to fill all things. On Pentecost Day the Lord again surprised them with a real but hard to imagine experience when the Spirit gave them the miracle of new languages to tell of the victory Jesus brings.

It is hard to imagine how God created the universe out of nothing, yet He did (Genesis 1:1). It is hard to imagine how God split the Red Sea to give birth to a new nation even as those same saving waters swallowed up Pharaoh’s chariots. It is hard to imagine how God made the sun stand still for hours—extending daylight so that Israel would gain victory over the Amorites.

The God we worship has a pattern of doing the unimaginable. It was hard to imagine Jesus being born of a Virgin so much so that Mary asked, “How can this be?” It is hard to imagine the Lord who runs the whole universe asleep in a boat during a terrible storm, yet this occurred so that Jesus would keep the law perfectly for us. It is hard to imagine the Savior in love going without food for forty days and forty nights so that He would overcome the devil for us. In love, He was willing to starve for us.

However, what is most hard for us to imagine is that Jesus would purposely walk to the skull shaped hill to suffer for us in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine. For us He would drink the full cup of suffering, the full cup of despair, the full cup of loneliness. It is hard for us to imagine how Jesus wracked in infinite pain could upon the cross pray, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It was so hard for the one repentant thief to imagine Jesus praying that prayer, that Gospel prayer converted him upon his cross. It moved him to pray to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus spoke to him words that this man found hard to imagine but now knows to be totally true, “Truly I say unto you, this very day you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Today the Holy Spirit tells us we are heading to a glorious future. Each day we draw one day closer to the time when God will wipe away ever tear, when death and mourning will be forever gone, when we will dwell in an existence free from all the effects and defects of sin.

The group Mercy Me wrote a song that says very well, what I want to share with you.

Can Only Imagine Lyrics » Mercy Me

I can only imagine. What it will be like. When I walk By your side

I can only imagine. What my eyes will see When your face Is before me I can only imagine


Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel

Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still

Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall

Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine

I can only imagine When that day comes And I find myself Standing in the Son

I can only imagine When all I will do Is forever Forever worship You I can only imagine


I can only imagine [x2]

I can only imagine When all I will do Is forever, forever worship you

On All Saints day we celebrate how in Holy Baptism the Holy Son of God has made us Holy—in other words saints. In Christ we are saints, holy, forgiven, blessed, sons and daughters of the God of all grace. It is hard to imagine that God views us as saints but that is His glorious verdict. Because of that glorious verdict we will participate in the glorious victory of dwelling in the New Heaven and New Earth with forever New bodies because of Him who took on a body for us to save us body and soul. May the Holy Spirit fire your imagination with the love of the crucified Risen Savior who comes to us even now with His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.

Hard to imagine—all these good things—yes, and no. When we look into the deep wounds of Christ, the deep love of Christ, the powerful victory of Christ, these things are not hard to grasp. When we look only by human measurements—then they are very hard to grasp. May God the Holy Spirit enable us to look to the Risen Savior who fills the whole universe yet dwells within us so that our imagination is stretched to see His passion, His gift of paradise, His powerful promises, and His abiding presence; and His everlasting Peace. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Saturday, November 3, 2007

With the Lord! (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

God's morning to you all.

My sister is now celebrating the victory and triumph her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ earned for her on the cross of Calvary. She is in the presence of the Lamb with all the saints who have washed their robes in His blood. TO HIM ALONE BE ALL THE GLORY.

She fell asleep in Jesus this morning SD time 1:45 a.m. and awaken to look at the most beautiful sight in the world the face of her and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a blessing to see the promise of God fulfilled.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for her husband, daughters and the rest of the Nour and Khoury family.

In Christ's love and in His service,

Rev. Nabil S. Nour Pastor and foot washer Phil. 1:6
Redeemer Lutheran Church
P. O. Box 158
Armour, SD. 57313-0158
(605)724-2489 (O)
(605)724-2722 (H)
"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" Philippians 1:6

Friday, November 2, 2007

Prayer Requests

For Yasmine, pastor Nour's Sister.

Keep praying that the Lord will not let her suffer much and strength for her daughters and the rest of the family, as she is in the hospital in the final stages of life.

2007 Nour Tour - Testimonial Letter

Dear Pastor Nour:

How do I begin to thank you for for such a memory filled trip as we have just experienced with you? Words to that effect seem rather insignificant when compared to the volume of "Christ filled" time and information we all received.

I spoke with you early in the trip as to different reasons people accompany you on such a trip of a lifetime. Why we came? I know my original thoughts were of retracing the footsteps of Christ and in so doing learning the geography and history of the land. Through Raed, our Israeli guide; we certainly weren't disappointed there. However, through you, we received an insight into the Bible; I'm sure other tours miss completely. You made the Bible come alive, not only through prayers, devotions, and scripture readings, but also through your first hand knowledge of the country and the customs and idiocyncracies of the local people; and in so doing, lit the fire of the living Christ within us all. I come from this trip a better Christian, most certainly an enlightened and better educated one; and hopefully a better person.
Why I came? It doesn't matter. How I left.....that matters.

I wish you and your family the very best and send a special prayer for your sister.

Most sincerely,
Dave Wenzel