"Faithful prayer is never offered in vain. Every such prayer is a sowing from which a precious fruit follows, and empty bucket let down into the fountain of divine goodness and filled to the top when it comes out again." C. F. W. Walther God Grant It p. 424
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Texts: Acts 2:42-47; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10
Theme: Devoted Sheep” Acts 2:42, 47
Armour, SD SOLIE DEO GLORIA.
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleuia. The text for our meditation is from the book of Acts. “They devoted themselves to the Apostle’s Teaching, and Fellowship, to the Breaking of Bread, and the Prayers…And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42, 47).
Question: What are you devoted to/for?
Saints in Christ, last week I was privileged to travel to Detroit, MI for “The Friendship of Jesus Muslims Conference”. This conference was sponsored by our LCMS Mission board, to reach out to Muslims in the name of the ONLY Savior, Jesus Christ.
While there, I met a man by the name Abed Al Karim Baidoui, (he goes by the name Karim today) a Moroccan citizen who came to Oklahoma in 1985 to study at the University. He is the son of a Muslim father and Jewish mother. While in the States he met a young lady Suzy (a Lutheran) and wanted to marry her. When Suzy took Karim to meet her parents, her mom Edna Kloeber a (German Lutheran) had a question. “How are you going to resolve the question of religion if you marry my daughter? That was a very important question that demanded Karim to evaluate and study it more thoroughly.
At the conference Karim said, “That question made me search for the truth. What is the difference between Muslims and Christians?” He went on to say, “I Have a Friend in Jesus. Suzy was the bait and Edna was the hook.” Edna invited Karim to church and attended with him Catechism instructions and introduced him to the friend of all people, Jesus Christ.
One week after Karim was baptized Edna said, “Now you may marry my daughter.” Karim is no longer a slave of Allah, no longer bound by the chains of legalism, no longer burdened to earn God’s favor through his good works; but now He is a child of God through Jesus Christ. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ” (Galatians 3:27-29).
Edna was a devoted sheep. She had committed herself to prayer, to the Apostle’s teaching, to fellowship and to the breaking of bread. She knew what the Scriptures taught. She knew what the Apostles gave, and what the fellowship of believers accomplished in the life of those who followed the Way.
By the grace of God alone Edna was used as one of God’s devoted sheep to share the hope with Karim. Today, Karim is an LCMS Pastor and one of those devoted sheep, who ministers in Texas and goes around reaching out to others especially Muslims in the name of the Friend, Jesus Christ.
In our readings today, Dr. Luke informs us of the birth of the Christian Church and what they did together as believers: “They devoted themselves to the teachings of the Apostles’, and to the fellowship, and to the Breaking of Bread, and the prayers.”
But what would make these followers of Jesus DEVOTED? Why in the midst of persecution of the Jewish religion they got together? What would cause them to be kept in the faith to persevere in this one true teaching?
In order for us to know the answers, we need to know who these men and women were. First, you have the disciples who had spent three years with a Devoted Shepherd who laid down His life for them all. They had seen this Devoted Shepherd care for the weak, and wicked, the evil and enemy, the hateful and hopeless. The Devoted Shepherd in His teaching while walking the dusty roads of Palestine showed them the true meaning of “devoted”. The Devoted Shepherd in His life and death was DEVOTED to seeking and saving the lost.
Second, these men and women had seen His death, but also had seen the Resurrected Shepherd Jesus Christ. They had been comforted by His presence as He gave them His peace and gave them the command to go in His name and by His authority to seek and save the lost.
Third, because these disciples had seen and witnessed the life, death and resurrection of the Devoted Shepherd, they could not help but be devoted to the same cause of seeking and saving the lost. That devotion, was evident in these 4 pillars in the Church—Apostles’ teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and Prayers.
We who hold in our hands the Treasure of the Church—The Word of the Devoted Shepherd, Jesus Christ; can do no less. That Word will help us continue to be Devoted in the same manner as those who have gone before us. We remain devoted to the same cause and mission of the Devoted Shepherd. And the best way we can walk the walk and talk the talk is when we follow the formula that the early Christians left for us—to follow the Apostles’ teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and Prayers.
This is why we come week in and week out to this house of faith. For here in this place we listen to the Apostles’ teaching. Here we have fellowship with one another and learn the needs of others. Here we kneel at the Altar of the Devoted Shepherd and feed at His table by breaking bread and drinking His blood. Here we lift our voices to the throne of Grace in prayers—mine, yours and ours.
Here in this place we meet the Devoted Shepherd, the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ who reminds us and shows us how He was Devoted to searching for us, saving us, and securing our future. And the more time we spend in this setting the more we will be Devoted saints as those who have gone before us. The more time we spend living our lives immersed in the Apostles’ teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and Prayers; the more we get active in the lives of others because we care for them and don’t want to see them end up in hell.
Remember Edna the lady who asked the question of Karim? The Holy Spirit calls us to be like her. We are the Edna’s of the world seeking the lost to save them from eternal destruction of hell and sharing with them the love of Jesus. This we do because the LOVE of the Devoted Shepherd, Jesus Chris has proven Himself to us and want what is best for us. And because we care, we want to be a friend to someone else, not assuming that they know about Jesus, but getting involved in their lives and sharing with them that same love so that they may be faithfully devoted to the work and witness and will of the Devoted Shepherd Jesus Christ.
How important is it for us to be awash in the Apostles’ teaching? How important is the fellowship of fellow saints? How important is it for us to be fed by the broken bread and sip of wine that grants us the very body and blood of our Devoted Savior Jesus Christ? How important it is for us to be in His house, praying back to Him the very words of the Liturgy that comes from Holy Scripture itself? When Christians fail to allow their faith to be maintained by the Holy Spirit through God’s word and the Sacraments, faith begins to wear down. Love fades, and satan starts to have his way with us. But we have a Devoted Shepherd. He blazes the trail before us. From Cradle to Cross, Tomb and beyond, He is leading. He leads us to the fellowship of the Redeemed called the Church. He shows us the way that Devoted Sheep walk. They walk in the footsteps of their Shepherd now and always.
Devoted followers of Jesus Christ, the final verse of the text says it well: “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Did you catch that? Who is it that is adding and saving? It is the Devoted Shepherd. This is His church. These are His people. He calls them by the Good News of His Word. These are the people that He bought with His very own blood. Because He is DEVOTED to them, they, by grace through faith are devoted to Him. For today and forever. AMEN
Now the peace of God…
DAY 1 Tue Sept 30: USA / ISRAEL. Tour members will gather at the ticket counter at the airport three hours prior to their departure. Dinner and breakfast will be served in-flight.
DAY 2 Wed Oct 01: TEL AVIV. Upon our arrival at the Tel Aviv airport we will be met and transferred to our hotel in a suburb of Tel Aviv - situated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Dinner will be served at our hotel. Weather permitting; we suggest a walk on the beach after dinner.
DAY 3 Thur Oct 02: THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA / CAESAREA / MOUNT CARMEL / HAIFA / PLAIN OF ARMAGEDDON / TIBERIAS. After a good nights rest and a hearty breakfast, we will begin the thrilling journey of following in the footsteps of Jesus. At Caesarea by the sea, we'll visit the Crusader's Castle, the Roman Amphitheater and water duct and the port from which the Apostle Paul sailed to Rome. We will continue northward along the Mediterranean coast to Mount Carmel where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal by the Brook Kishon. After Haifa, we'll visit Megiddo and the Plain of Armageddon, Jezreel and Esdraelon. Eastward, we will arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight at our hotel and get our first glimpse of the beautiful Sea of Galilee.
DAY 4 Fri Oct 03: MT. TABOR / DEBORIYA / NAIN / BETHSHEAN / TIBERIAS. Traveling westward across Galilee, we will visit Mt. Tabor (Psalms 89:12), Deboriya, the hometown of the Prophetess Deborah, at the foothill of Tabor (Judges 4 and 5). Continue to the Village of Nain where Jesus brought life to a young man (Luke 7:11-18). Continue to Nazareth the hometown of Jesus where we will visit the church of the Annunciation (Luke 1:5-42) and Mary’s Fountain (Luke 4:16-22) and on the way back we stop by Cana - the site of Jesus’ first Miracle.
DAY 5 Sat Oct 04: TIBERIAS. Today is a day at our leisure to shop, rest or visit other sites on our own.
DAY 6 Sun Oct 05: TIBERIAS / THE SEA OF GALILEE / CAPERNAUM / MOUNT OF BEATITUDES / TABGHA / CAESAREA PHILIPPI / MT. HERMON / GOLAN HEIGHTS / THE JORDAN RIVER. This day will be an exciting day in the Galilee area. After a delicious breakfast, we will leave the ancient Roman resort city of Tiberias via a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum (John 6:24) to see the ancient ruins of the 1st century synagogue where Jesus preached (Matthew 4:13-17) and the excavated house of Peter. Then, on to the Mt. of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7.) Next, a short drive to Tabgha - the chapel dedicated to the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:34-44). Visit the recently discovered “Jesus boat” - an ancient fishing vessel that Jesus’ time. We will then proceed to Upper Galilee and the site of Peter's Confession (Matthew 16:16) at Caesarea Philippi and to Mt. Hermon (Psalm 89:12), the probable site of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8) and the present day Golan Heights where Israel, Lebanon and Syria come together. We will follow the fresh mountain waters of Mt. Hermon to the Sea of Galilee and to the outlet passage at the southern tip of the sea. We will stop at the beautiful Pilgrims Park at the Jordan River. Return to our hotel for overnight.
DAY 7 Mon Oct 06: BETHSHEAN / JERICHO / BETHLEHEM / JERUSALEM. Early morning departure to Bethshean and then head south through the Jordan Valley to ancient Jericho, where the walls came tumbling down (I Kings 17:1-6 and II Kings 2:19-22), view of the Mt. of Temptation (Matt. 4:1-11) and Elisha's Fountain. We continue to Bethlehem where we will visit the Church of the Nativity - the birthplace of Jesus. We then travel to the Shepherds Fields (Luke 2:1-20) and the Field of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 1:16-17 & 4:13). We return to Jerusalem passing Rachel's Tomb to our hotel in Jerusalem for overnight.
DAY 8 Tue Oct 07: JERUSALEM. After a night of rest and a hearty breakfast, this exciting day will begin with a drive to Mt. Scopus and the Mt. of Olives (Matt. 24:3) for a panoramic view of the Old City of Jerusalem. We visit the Chapel of the Ascension, the Church of Pater Noster and the Dominus Flevit along the way. Walk along Hosanna Road to Gethsemane to see the Church of All Nations that stands on the Rock of Agony where Jesus was betrayed by Judas (Matt. 26:36-57). We see the Pillar of Absalom, the Eastern (Golden) Gate and the Pinnacle of the Temple. We then drive to Mt. Zion where we visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu on the site of Caiphas' House, the Room of the Last Supper (Luke 22:14-20) and the Tomb of King David. Next, we visit Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Continue to tour New Jerusalem: Hebrew University, the Shrine of the Book that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Model City of Jerusalem which depicts in miniature the Holy City as it appeared in the first century. Return to our hotel for overnight.
DAY 9 Wed Oct 08: MASADA / DEAD SEA / QUMRAN / BETHANY. This morning, we drive via the Judean Desert to the Dead Sea - the lowest point on earth. A beautiful new road takes us south along the shores of the Dead Sea to Masada, a truly remarkable piece of history. Ascend to Masada by cable car to visit the magnificent ruins of the fortress where, from 70-73 A.D., the Jewish defenders made their last stand of the Judean Revolt against Rome and where the remains of storehouses, cisterns and a sixth century Byzantine church are still on view. Return along the Dead Sea to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Visit the remains of the Community Center of the Essenes and the Caves of the Scrolls. We continue on the Jericho Road viewing the Inn of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). If available, on the return to Jerusalem we visit Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus’s tomb (John 11:1-46). Then, back to our Jerusalem hotel for overnight.
DAY 10 Thur Oct 09: JERUSALEM. Today is a day at our leisure to shop, rest or visit other sites on our own.
DAY 11 Fri Oct 10: JERUSALEM / Airport. Today begins with a walking tour of the Old City of Jerusalem. Starting at the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) where the faithful Jews cry their petitions to God. Continue to the Temple Area of Mt. Moriah. Visit the El Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock where the Moslems replaced Solomon's Temple with their own (Genesis 22:9-14) and over the Rock of Sacrifice where Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22) and the ceremonial sacrifice of animals took place. After this, we walk along the Via Dolorosa to Pilate's Judgment Hall, the Chapel of the Flagellation, the Ecce Homo Arch (John 19:13) where Jesus was tried before Pilate (Mark 15:6). Then, continue through the Old City bazaars to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Visit the Garden Tomb and Golgotha - Place of the Skull - for a worship service before having a Farewell dinner. Later we proceed to the airport to check in for our flight home.
DAY 12 Sat Oct 11: Arrive NORTH AMERICA. Early morning arrival in New York and then continue on our next flight to Minneapolis - the end of a most enjoyable journey.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The Friendship of Jesus and Muslims Conference
April 3-6, 2008
In the December BOD meeting, I was given permission to attend the FRIENDSHIP of Jesus and Muslims Conference, in Detroit. I left SD as a representative of our “beloved” South Dakota District and by the aid of Mission Board of LCMS. On Thursday afternoon (4-3), I arrived in Detroit and registered for the conference.
What a day that was. There were over 188 people registered for this conference. There were many synodical representatives, along with the Mission Board, and the POBLO (People Of the Book Lutheran Outreach) servants of Detroit.
As the evening waned I felt I was experiencing heaven on earth and the fulfillment of Revelation 7, which states: “After this I saw a large number of people that no one could count, from all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues standing before the throne and the Lamb, dressed in white garments and holding in their hands palm branches.” (Rev. 7:9). This day to me was a mini Pentecost, a moment in time when I literally saw a glimpse of heaven before my very own eyes. At the evening banquet there were Muslim converts to the Christian faith, from these different nations—Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Indonesia, Pakistan, Kosovo. Tears ran down my cheeks, as I sat at the conference and heard of the power of the Gospel in the lives of these people who have come to KNOW Jesus as the FRIEND of sinners. They spoke of the freedom of being burdened to earn God’s favor, or not certain of their salvation. They rejoiced when they came to know that their friends introduced them to the True Friend, Jesus Christ who won their freedom by the shedding of His blood on the cross. They spoke of the joy that filled their hearts because they knew this love that they have never experienced in the Muslim religion.
By the end of the Conference, I learned much about how to reach out to Muslims in the name of Jesus Christ and as His servant in many different forms. It was clearly presented that there are three main reasons why Muslims become followers of Jesus—the friend of sinners. They are:
- I saw a vision/dream of Jesus coming to me in one form or another i.e. walking towards me in the rice field.
- I had a friend who told me about Jesus.
- I read the New Testament.
We were reminded at the Conference that 90% of all who come to church, come because of a friend who has invited them or told them about Jesus. Many of the Muslim converts spoke of the friend who cared and spoke about this Jesus who loved them by dying their death and rose again to give them life and salvation. One friend cared. One friend shared, and one friend told the truth that apart from Jesus Christ there is no salvation (Acts 4:12).
I further learned that in the last year, there were 350.000 Muslims who have gone through the on-line course provided by The Lutheran Hour Ministries about Christianity. What a blessing to witness and to behold how our Church body is reaching out in the name of the Friend of sinners to others, especially to the Muslims.
I like to inform you that there were 23 nations represented at the Conference. Here are the nations: Jordan, Syria, Togo, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Ireland/Scotland, Russia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Germany, India, Philippines, Malaysia, and USA.
What a blessing to have attended this conference. What a blessing to have heard former enemies of the Cross speaks of their FRIEND Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What a blessing to know that our church body is reaching out to others in the name of Jesus Christ.
I like to thank the BOD and the Synod for making it possible for me to attend this workshop and the opportunity to continue to serve the church at large.
To all in our “Beloved” District, let be known to you if you need any help in how to minister to our Muslim neighbor to please call upon me to help and aid you.
I also pray that our “Beloved” District would lead the way in the Upper Midwest in reaching out to those who have not met the FRIEND of sinners Jesus Christ. I would like to see our District begin to reach out to the Muslims in Sioux Falls. I have read there are over a 1000 Muslim and many different Ethnic groups in that great city. Let us not forget them, but reach out to them in the name of the Greatest FRIEND, Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s love and in His service,