Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Testimony from one saint who went with me to the Holy Land in 2011

Dear Saint and Shepherd Pastor Nabil!

I read this and I just want to go back again!! Hopefully one day I will! It was such an amazing journey of faith and it will stay in my heart forever! When I close my eyes and meditate on the places we went and the things we saw and then I open my Bible and read the scriptures I am again there! Thank you for such a wonderful experience with you as our shepherd! I am also so grateful that I got to spend time with Jean, your beloved! She is such a woman of God! Billy and I were truly blessed to be part of the "Nour Tour Family"!

Love and Prayers! God Bless! BARB - Gma and Fellow "Footwasher" in Christ!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

“It Boggles the Mind!” (Mark 1:23-27)

S-1293 4SAE/3B 1/22/12 Hymns: (O) #578; (S) #744; LS #618; #625; #628; (C) #924 LSB

Text: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

Theme: “It Boggles the Mind!” (Mark 1:23-27)

Question: “What does it take to Amaze you?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany is from the Gospel Lesson: “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ‘What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him (Mark 1:23-27).

Beloved in the Lord, there are so many stories in our broken world that boggles the mind. Here are some that I can’t understand and neither will you:

Last year, in St. Louis, MO., an elderly man was beaten to death by a gang of thugs as part of a “Knockout game.” The game targets “innocent bystanders.” These young people beat up people till they knock them out and the odd thing; they do it to get their 15 minutes of fame on u-tube. It boggles the mind.

In Sidney, MT., on Saturday January 7th, 2012 a 43-year-old schoolteacher and a mother of 5, was out for her morning jog when she disappeared. The only trace left was one of her running shoes found along her route. On the 13th two men were in custody after confessing they had killed her. But as of yet, they haven’t found her body. It boggles the mind.

In Grapevine, TX, a Southern Baptist minister, Ed Young and his wife Lisa have staged a bed-in on the roof of their church to encourage parishioners to put the zing back in their marriages - by having sex for seven days straight. Here is a quote from their book: Sexperiment 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy With Your Spouse: “We have kicked the bed out of church and God out of the bed. We need to bring the bed back in the church and God back into the bed.” It boggles the mind.

Carol Everett, spurred by the anguish caused by her own abortion, began her own abortion business in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the 1980s. “I wanted to be a millionaire,” says Everett “And the way for me to be a millionaire was to do 40,000 abortions a year.” In her counseling of women she encouraged them to have abortions. And she and her workers had the audacity to hand out defective condoms and birth control pills. It boggles the mind.

These and other stories like them truly jolt us to our core and boggle the mind. By these stories we see the greatest injustice done by humans to other humans. These events show the depravity of man and how loathsome we are because of SIN. PAUSE.

But none of these stories amaze, astonishes, and astounds us as God’s Holy Scriptures. From its beginning to its ending the Bible demonstrates the beauty of God’s love to sinners—that really boggles the mind. In today’s reading, the evangelist Mark tells us of a couple of events in the life of Jesus that boggled the mind of those who listened to Him and witnessed His power at work in the lives of people He touched.

First, we meet Jesus in Capernaum as He was teaching. And all who heard Him were astonished at what He said. They sat there amazed, with mouths wide open as He taught with authority. He boggled their minds.

And second, a demon possessed man challenges Jesus that He came before His time. But Jesus tells him: “To shut up and come out of him!” The evil spirit obeys Christ’s command and comes out of him. And this, too, boggles the mind. PAUSE.

Like those who have gone before us we can’t understand nor comprehend such love—amazing love-eternal love. We are amazed at what Jesus teaches and does. With these words from Mark we are jolted back to reality to see the grace of God at work. It is like Automated External Defibrillator or AED used to jolt someone whose heart had stopped and they shock him back to life again.

We see here the spectacular and splendid work of Christ in everything He touches, in everything He does and in everything He says. In a way, our minds are re-boggled at what we are taught by the power of the Holy Spirit through the teachings of Scripture.

I will be honest with you that there are many things that boggle my mind, and I can’t wrap my mind around it. Our advances in medicine are mind boggling and spectacular. We have all sorts of machines to help doctors identify problems and improve our lives—X-ray machines, MRI, EKG, Ultra Sound, CT, Corometer, glucose meter and others.

We have made mind boggling advances in computers that we can now speak with people around the world via Skype, MSN and my meetings. We have Blackberries, Ipad, and Iphones, that download any image, receive e-mails and your identification form as you check in for a flight. We have cars that have GPS’s, talks to you and cameras to tell you that you are close to an object. We can travel to the moon and back. Cross the ocean and I can visit my family half way around the world in a matter of hours. All of these things boggle the mind.

But none of these things that I have mentioned boggle the mind as God’s life-giving Word. Read it, study it and learn it and you will see things that astound us and amaze us. We see God creating man in His image. We see Him setting the stars, moon and sun in the skies. We behold Him splitting the sea, bringing forth water from a rock, feeding the Israelites with manna and quail and defend them against every enemy. We learn of His protective and providential hands to supply all of our needs.

But even these things don’t boggle the mind as we humans try to understand God’s amazing love. How is it that God could love ME enough—a man who is no good, A SINNER WHO ALWAYS RUNS AWAY FROM HIM? As David writes in the Psalm: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4) How is it that God wants to be MY God and have ME spend eternity with Him? How is it that God cares enough to give ME the very best—His Son to be MY Savior?

Do you really want to see things that boggle the mind? Then travel with me to Jerusalem and see Jesus entering the city, and weeping over it as He calls for its resident to follow Him. Come with me to the Upper Room and see Him give us His Meal of love and forgiveness. Walk with Him in Gethsemane and see Him sweat drops of blood as He anguished at what is to take place soon. Stop by and see the courtyard where He is condemned to be crucified for the sins of others. Follow Him to Golgotha as He carries His cross and eaves drop as He labors to take a breath as He is suspended on the splintered cross; and hasten early to the tomb and see Him defeat our enemy—DEATH as He rose victoriously on the third day.

No wonder John Newton wrote one of the most beloved hymns of all times—Amazing Grace. The story is told that Captain John Newton, a slave trader was on his way back from a voyage from Sierra Leone and was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm that almost broke his ship and killed him and his crew. He experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.

For the rest of his life he observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion, a day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power. “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace has bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

We, too, just like John Newton, have had our “Great Deliverance” by the One who hears the prayers of all His people—Jesus the Christ—, who saves us, forgives us and loves us to the end. AND THAT MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST, IS SOMETHING THAT BOGGLES THE MIND! AMEN AND AMEN.

Now the peace…


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Holy Land Nour Tour

You are invited to join me, a native of Israel, born in Nazareth to Journey to the Holy Land and Jordan for the spiritual experience of a lifetime October 22-November 04...walk where Jesus walked...where every page of the Bible comes alive...cruise the Sea of Galilee...climb the Mount of Olives and view the Old City of Jerusalem...visit Tabgha, scene of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes...the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount and where Jesus chose his Twelve Apostles...walk the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher...stroll in the Garden of Gethsemane...visit Bethlehem...the Church of the Nativity and in Jordan...Madaba...Nebo... and Petra

What to expect: During this 14-day tour, you will experience the sounds, smells and sights of two civilizations the old and the new. You will stand at the cross roads of history and feel the vibrant influence of how this land shapes all other lands.

We will do more than just visit sights. We will go off the beaten path and have personal and daily devotions. The Bible will be our map and guide. Experience Israel–a place like no other. Please join me on this pilgrimage.

The price is $3980.00 and includes air fair from Minneapolis to Tel Aviv and back to Minneapolis, hotel accommodations (for double occupancy)  tips, entry fees and all meals.

For further information contact:
Pastor Nabil Nour
P. O. Box 158
Armour, SD 57313-0158
605-724-2722 (H)
605-724-2489 (O)
605-201-6998 (Cell)

“Asked to Care and Get Involved” Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (Jonah 3:1-3)

S-1292 SAE/3B 1/22/12 Hymns: (O) #729; #664; (S) #750; LS #633; #629; #623; (C) #737 LSB

Text: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

Theme: “Asked to Care and Get Involved” Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (Jonah 3:1-3)

Question: “How concerned are you?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is the O.T. Lesson: Then the Word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the Word of the LORD. (Jonah 3:1-3a).

You who are loved, cherished and sought after, in 1985, a young couple Bob and Pam moved from Gainesville, FL to the Philippines, where they served as Christian missionaries. Hoping to expand their family, they prayed for a fifth child. Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in contaminated food or drink. She went into a coma and was treated with strong antibiotics before they discovered she was pregnant.

Doctors urged her to abort the baby for her own personal safety, and told her the strong medicines had caused irreversible damage to the fetus. She refused the abortion, and cited her Christian faith. Pam said the doctors didn’t think of it as a life, they thought of the child growing inside her as a mass of fetal tissue. While pregnant, Pam nearly lost the baby four times, but refused to consider abortion. She recalled making a pledge to God with her husband: If you will give us a son, we’ll name him Timothy, and we’ll make him a preacher of Your Word.

Pam ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed, and eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy August 14, 1987. Pam’s youngest son is indeed a preacher. He preaches in prisons, makes hospital visits, and serves with his father’s ministry in the Philippines as they return each ear with 50 of their employees to care for the orphanage.

This woman and her husband cared enough to keep the baby because it is more than just a blob of tissue—He is a GIFT from God Himself. Timmy as Pam calls Him went on to play football for the Florida Gators and in 2007, was named the Heisman Trophy winner; and now is the Quarter back for the Denver, Broncos.......... Pam’s son is Tim Tebow.

On this day, as we observe Sanctity of human life Sunday, the Holy Spirit reminds us as God’s redeemed and forgiven children of our role and responsibilities to care enough to get involved in the lives of others. We are called to speak out and stand out against every human injustice—to defend, rescue and deliver (as the picture on the bulletin shows) those who have been held in the bondage of sin and share the Good News that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

The Christmas story is nothing short of the greatest CARE story ever written. Our loving and compassionate God cared enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ to the manger of Bethlehem; to live the perfect life as He walked the dusty roads of Palestine and be led to Mt. Calvary on the gallows of the Cross to bring about deliverance and rescue and give us hope of eternal life with Him.

After His mission of winning the victory over Satan, sin and the grave, the Savior of mankind, before leaving the world commissioned His disciples to care enough and get involved by taking the Gospel to every corner of the globe. PAUSE.

Today’s Word from Jonah 3 shows us the God of love who cares deeply and passionately and gets involved in the lives of His people lest they be destroyed. It is a story of love and life, rescue and redemption, deliverance and salvation.

Jonah, somewhere between Chapter 1:3 and Chapter 3:1 realizes that he was dead wrong and disobeyed God. Jonah was called by God to go and preach to the people of Nineveh that God was going to destroy the city because of its evil and wickedness. Nineveh is wicked, and powerful, so Jonah is afraid for his life. Instead of taking the next camel train to Nineveh, he jumps on a ship and heads for Tarshish, which is at the exact opposite end of the then known world. He is running from God, but God runs after him with a huge storm that threatens to break up the ship. The sailors figure out that Jonah is the problem, they ask him what they should do, and he says that they must throw him overboard into the raging sea. They don’t want to do it, but the storm is so bad that they finally throw him over. The storm stops as Jonah sinks to the bottom. God doesn’t let him drown, but sends a fish to come and swallow him. Jonah is three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. While he is there he prays, and admits his wrong.

The fish spits him up on to dry land, where God calls him again to go to Nineveh. This time he obeys, and he goes and preaches to them. By the Spirit’s power we see the care and concern of these lost people. And in this story we see the power of the Word in two great examples of repentance; first in the life of the prophet Jonah and then in the Ninevite’s that he is prophesying to.

Repentance is brought about when the Word—the powerful Word of the Lord is preached and proclaimed in all of its purity. Repentance causes us to realize that we have sinned against our holy God and we need His grace to forgive us all of our sins. Repentance causes us to call upon God to Defend, Rescue and Deliver us from that which holds us captives—sin. And repentance is offered in the name of the caring Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Today, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we too, are called to care. We are called to stand up and speak out and defend the weak and helpless. We are called to rescue from the abortion mills, those who would be destroyed because they are not life, but a blob of tissue as they are often considered. We are called to teach and preach against the lies of the devil that has benefited many through the abortion industry; and today, you and I are called to care and get involved.

Sadly, we who are precious in God’s sight—the blood-bought, don’t ALWAYS do all we can to defend the weak and helpless. We don’t care enough to get involved. We say, “I don’t have enough time. My schedule demands too much of my time.” We don’t pray enough. We don’t support pregnancy crises centers with our time and treasures. Oh, yes, we as Lutheran Christians have a great record on cherishing life. The fact that for the past 14 years you have supported the Bike For Life ministry through prayers and financial aid speaks volume that we are pro-life. By the grace of God we say “Thank You Father for allowing us to care.”

But we can do more. We can go against the tide and speak the truth in love that all life is precious in the womb or out of the womb. We can stand up and speak up and support with our time and efforts those who have made one wrong choice so that they don’t make more bad choices. We can care enough to teach, preach and reach in the name of the caring Christ to those in need.

I’m reminded of my experience when I came to this country. Even though I was born in Nazareth, grew up on the slopes of Mt. Carmel, swam often in the Sea of Galilee, and visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem many times, I didn’t know much about the Savior, His grace and love for me the sinner; until a young lady invited me to church. Sue cared enough about me, took the time to ask me to join her. I was happy to go but happier to hear the Good News that Jesus came to save me—ME no good bum. My father was amazed when I returned home, so much that he said, “Son, I don’t know what happened to you! You left as a devil and came back as an angel!” Someone cared. I read someplace: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know that you CARE PAUSE.

Today, beloved in the Lord as we gather around Word and Sacrament I remind you to be bold and courageous as Pam and her husband were. I exhort you to look to Him who gives us the power to speak for Him and care in His name for others. But above all, I point you to the One who cared enough and got involved in YOUR life—Jesus the Christ.

Unlike Jonah, Jesus didn’t take the first camel caravan out of Palestine, but heard His Father’s call, went in His name and did what God called Him to do—offer His life as a payment for all sinners—Jonah’s, the Ninevehite’s, you and me. And by the grace of God and His Spirit we leave this place empowered to care and get involved. Amen.

Now the peace…


“Out of Nazareth? Out of Nazareth!!!” (John 1:45-46)

S-1291 2SAE/3B 1/08/12 Hymns: (O) #5; (S) #421; (C) #400

Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-10; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51

Theme: “Out of Nazareth? Out of Nazareth!!!” (John 1:45-46)

Question: “Is there a town you don’t want to raise your family in?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Baptism of Christ is from the Epistle Lesson: “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’” (John 1:43-46).

Dear brothers in Christ listen closely to this conversation between two friends. “You got to be kidding! No way! You are not serious! Did you lose your mind—out of Nazareth?” That town that is no good for nothing, do you really expect the Messiah to come from? You can’t be serious Philip, can you?

What we know for certain is this: Nathanael was skeptical. When Philip announced that there was someone from Nazareth who might be the Messiah, Nathanael famously replied, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Why such disdain for Nazareth? It appears that Nazareth seemed to have had the worst reputation of any town in Galilee; the name “Nazareth” was not respectable, admirable, or honorable. It was spoken with disgust it wasn’t the ideal vacation spot, a good place for starting a new business, a nice community to move the family into. Nazareth was an isolated city, did not take in many visitors, had the worst cultural habits in Galilee, had a bad name among neighboring towns perhaps due to lack of religious adherence and low morals; surely the Messiah would not come from such an unlikely place.

Perhaps Nathanael was skeptical, but maybe he was also pretty smart. Nathanael may have known the scriptures; Nathanael may have known that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, to the south, not from Nazareth, of all places. Whether that is the reason he stated it, we don’t know. But we know that he spoke and Philip affirms that he heard his friend’s statement and encourages him to “come and see!”

Nathanael was skeptical of Jesus. Nonetheless, Philip persuaded him — and went to see Jesus. And as soon as Jesus sees Nathanael coming, Jesus says, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Its high praise indeed for Nathanael, especially coming from someone Nathanael has only just met. This probably just increased Nathanael’s skepticism, thinking that Jesus was trying to soften him up with flattery. But then Jesus explains, “I saw you under the fig tree.”

Yet, the Messiah, the Rabbi, standing before these two men confirms that He saw Nathanael. And with that statement, Nathanael speaks these words: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

How quickly skepticism turns into sincerity, how quickly doubts turns into delight in confessing that this is no mere Man, but the Son of God—the TRUE King of Israel. How awesome it is to see the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who meet Jesus. That He is more than just a man; but God’s Man for the Mission of saving the world from burning in Hell. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, it appears that an important character is overlooked in this account—Philip. It seems as if Philip takes second fiddle. Nathanael attracts the attention, with his skepticism, with his sarcastic comment about Nazareth, and finally with his declaration of Jesus as “the Son of God.” Even Jesus seems to make a much bigger deal about Nathanael: “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”

And so Philip quickly fades to the background. But notice this, in verse 43: “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’Jesus found Philip. It sounds as though Jesus was specifically searching for Philip, as though Jesus specifically wanted Philip to be one of His disciples. What this shows us even today, that whether you are a skeptic or one who is actively working for the Lord, YOU ARE SPECIAL. You are special because and specifically, on account of the statement: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” And the answer to that is indeed yes—out of Nazareth.

God brought something good out of Nazareth - Jesus Christ, His own Son, the Messiah; the long expected Savior promised to Adam and Eve when they brought shame and death upon them and their offspring’s. Jesus changed the reputation of Nazareth. Demon spirits began to recognize “Jesus of Nazareth” - Mark 1:23-24. Sick people began to call on “Jesus of Nazareth” - Mark 10:47. God’s anointing flowed through “Jesus of Nazareth” - Acts 10:38. The Apostle’s ministered in the name of “Jesus of Nazareth” - Acts 3:6. And People were saved in the name of “Jesus of Nazareth” - Acts 22:8.

Today, as we gather in our own small town of Armour and the beloved community of Redeemer, we are reminded that indeed out of Nazareth comes the Rabbi with His mission of mercy and grace. Jesus came specifically because people needed Him. Jesus’ ministry was focused on people with a “Nazareth” reputation—the woman at the well in Samaria, the woman caught in adultery, Mary Magdalene, Matthew, - lepers, blind, deaf, and lame. Let me say it clearly. There are a lot of people around us and some of us here gathered today, who have a “Nazareth” reputation. PAUSE.

Will anything good ever come from them, they are looked down on, held in ill repute, the mention of their name brings unpleasant thoughts to mind, you don’t want to be around them or even be associated with them—they seem so unusable, but you never know when God is going to transform a “Nazareth” person into a pastor, evangelist, youth minister, missionary, Sunday school teacher, church worker. My own life’s transformation is a testimony to God’s goodness to another man from Nazareth. I don’t not say this to bring attention to myself, but only to point to the power of the Gospel at work in the lives of people, when it touches them. The Man from Nazareth touched me, and for the past 18 years I have been privileged as a man from Nazareth to speak about the Man from Nazareth. He has also touched Nathanael, Philip and…YOU

Today, I challenge you by the power of the Holy Spirit to hear the Man from Nazareth calling you to follow Him as other disciples throughout the centuries have done and continue to do. We live in a skeptical age. Many voices call us to follow—endless salespeople, TV evangelists, political leaders, etc. Generally we tune out the voices and follow the line of least resistance. Year after year we keep the same job, live in the same home, and observe the same traditions. PAUSE.

In the motion picture The Hiding Place, while the Ten Boom family decides to follow Jesus at great risk, the local pastor vis­its them and wrestles with the moral choices involved. He questions. Finally, out of fear he decides not to get involved. This is neither following or faithful!

When the Man from Galilee visits you and says, “Follow Me,” how do you, and how will you respond? Turn His voice off as one more sales pitch? Listen halfheartedly and respond with a polite affirma­tive to get rid of Him? Agree to follow Him when it seems con­venient? Who is He? With what authority does He speak? This call to follow may take you into leadership in Christ‘s church. Maybe that means serving as an elder, a trustee, or a Sunday school teacher. But still others may see this as something not for them. Because of the Gospel‘s work in your life, the Holy Spirit calls you to follow. The answer is where. Maybe it is helping the hungry and homeless. Perhaps it is serving in civil affairs. There are many ways that you are called to follow. But inactivity is NOT one of them! The prayer that falls from faithful lips today is this: Lord, You have called ME to follow. Where will you have ME follow you today?

Our following however is still clouded by sin. Admitting our lethargy and rebellion, we meet face-to-face Jesus the Savior of the world. We cannot follow on our own. But He has blazed the path of personal self-giving and death on a cross to pay for our sins. His call to follow carries with it the power for us to leave our nets and follow Him.

The adventure begins loving Him, fishing for others to fol­low Him as well, finding new meaning and sparkle in our daily routines, living and loving with purpose and joy. Troubles and persecution may lie ahead. Temptations will abound. Other voices will try to lead us astray. But the forgiv­ing, loving, empowering Man from Galilee continues to sound the gentle, life-changing call, “FOLLOW ME!” And by grace alone we say with Nathanael, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”O Man of Nazareth, I am with you till the end of my life”. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


“Death With A Purpose!” (Romans 8:31-39)

S-1290 Baptism of Christ/3B 1/08/12 Hymns: (O) #590; (S) #594; LS #628; #627; (C) #601 LSB

Text: Genesis 1:1-5; Romans 6:1-11; Mark 1:4-11

Theme: “Death With A Purpose!” (Romans 8:31-39)

Question: “What is the Purpose for death?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Baptism of Christ is from the Epistle Lesson: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

Beloved family of faith, ever since the fall of man into sin, there has been one thing that no created being could escape—death. Death disrupts our future, destroys our plans and disturbs our hearts. Death seems so absolute and final. When you look at the cold and lifeless body of your loved one laying in the casket, your heart aches and your eyes water. Indeed death disrupts our future, destroys our plans and disturbs our hearts.

It all seems so hopeless, pointless, fruitless and purposeless. We work so hard to live for a purpose. As we grow up, we want to get married, build a home and have a family. We go to school to better ourselves and have a good future. We continue to strive to get a good job to provide for the family we have been blessed. We plan our lives according to our vision and purpose. But then, death comes knocking and the purpose for our existence stops in its tracks. That which we have purposefully worked long and hard for, appears to be for naught. And our hearts are void and empty.

Death appears to be the winner. It robs us of the joys of life and the hope of the future. Death seems to take our breath away and send us into the gloom of night. Death emerges as the victor but that is not the case beloved in the Lord.

Today, the Epistle lesson gives us hope, heaven and happiness. Here the Apostle Paul tells us the purpose of death—our death is that we have a guaranteed future. Death may appear the winner or the victor, but that is not the case, it is only a mirage but that is not so. In another letter Paul writes: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-56).

Today, in the waters of the Jordan we see something totally different and absolutely wonderful. Christ becomes one with us. He takes on Him—our sins, our shame, our death and our hell. In that simple act of stepping into the waters, Jesus takes your place and presents you totally holy and sinless in the sight of God. You need to know that Jesus’ act of descending into the water was unnecessary for Him—He did NOT need to be baptized—He did it for our sake and gave us His undeserving grace.

Listen kindly to our preacher as he writes by the power of the Holy Spirit these marvelous words. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” Our death has a purpose—a purpose to live with Christ here on earth and forever in paradise. PAUSE.

My beloved saints, you know it was just yesterday I returned home from (Israel) being with my family attending the funeral of my father. When we attended the funeral, I was saddened to hear the priest speak words empty of comfort, nothing about the victory over death; and no hope of the resurrection. He outlined the good things my father did. And he encouraged everyone to pray to the saints and to Mary so that God would accept my dad into heaven.

I sat there astonished at the empty words without purpose. They had no purpose of bringing hope to the hopeless. They had no purpose of bringing help to the hurting and they had no purpose of giving comfort to the sorrowful.

After the worship service was over, I asked if I could say few words and I begun thus: “Christ is Risen! And they responded He is risen indeed! Alleluia! (3 times I shared these words). I spoke of this day in these words. “This is a day of sorrow and joy, a day of tears and a day of happiness. I explained why it was such blessed day for my father; quoting the book of Revelation chapter 21 saying: ‘The suffering has ended!’ No more mourning, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more cancer, no pills, no chemo therapy, no blood being drawn, no vomiting. Now my dad is in the arms of His blessed Savior, Jesus Christ; who has won the victory, destroyed sin, death and the devil; and cleansed my father from every stain of sin.”

I went on to say, “But it is a sad for us who are left behind as we mourn his passing. No longer would I be able to call my father to tell him I love you or wish him Merry Christmas; no longer will I be able to dine and spend time with him whenever I go back home; no longer would I have the privilege of sharing with him my life, my ministry, and family which the Lord has blessed me with.”

And then I spoke these words in conclusion. “We have hope! Hope in the blood of Christ that washed us and made us pure and holy. Hope in being baptized into Christ that made us His family of faith. Hope in the wounds of Christ that brings healing. Hope in the crown of Christ that assures us one day, we will get a crown too. Hope in cross of Christ that earned the victory; and hope in the empty tomb.” And finally I said: “Encourage one another because the victory is ours.” I then sat down.

After my family and I stood line for people to convey their condolences to us, in preparations to leave to the cemetery, many of the saints said: “We have never heard such comforting and calming words.” Even one of my cousins came up to me and said: “Nabil, you had me in tears; you even made me hunger for death!” Thanks be to God for the powerful word the Holy Spirit moved me to share. It is the Word that points us to crucified Christ, who has come as the heaven-sent Savior; who was baptized into our lives of sin, and death and shame; but rose again and by His resurrection has given us the purpose to live.

Therefore, today as we celebrate the Baptism of Christ, we also celebrate our BAPTISM. Because we have died in these waters and rose again to live for Him; and know the purpose of our lives. PAUSE.

What is the purpose of your life? It is more than just getting married, building a home, having a family; it living the life Christ wants for you—to be His messengers of hope. A messenger with a purpose! To tell the world that Satan is not the victor but Christ is! To point them to the Sacrament of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; where we receive comfort and strength and the certainty that our lives have a purpose.

We have all died with Christ in baptism. But we have also been raised with Him to a new life. That’s the blessing of being a Christian. That’s the blessing of being a Lutheran Pastor; and Lutheran people who know the power of the resurrection. As well as the wounds of Christ, the blood of Christ and the empty tomb; that empty tomb points to our resurrection too.

Since Christ gave hope to those who were mourning; He, too, gives us hope even and in spite of walking through suffering and sorrow and sadness. PAUSE.

I was amazed! I was just overwhelmed at the cards of sympathy and calls that came to my house when people knew my father had died; e-mails from friends and brother pastors and acquaintances that I have met over the years. Do you know, what was the one common denominator in all of these messages? In a simple word it is this: Thank God for the victory of the resurrection.

These words are the hallmark for the Christian. They give us hope, they give us help and they point us to heaven. Oh, what a joy to know the blessings of God are ours. Indeed, we can say, “Death has a purpose; to destroy the old life—the life of sin, and to give us the new life—the life of sainthood with Christ. For that we say: “Thanks be to God for the victory of His resurrection which guarantees our resurrection. Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


Monday, January 23, 2012

2011 Bike For Life update

The year of our Lord 2011 Bike-For-Life has surpassed all gifts ever received since its inception 14 years ago. What an Awesome God we have who uses people in so many ways to accomplish His will here below. We wish to the thank the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ who moves the hearts of His saints to support this ministry so that life may be preserved and protected.

As of today (1/09/2012) we are at: $17, 632. 61

Thank you for your support. If you wish to donate you may still to do so.

C/O Nabil S. Nour
Redeemer Lutheran Church
P. O. Box 158
Armour, SD 57313-0158