Friday, August 27, 2010

"Are You With Me, Or Not?"

Not one of them dared to look into the coach's eyes as the question came out of his mouth. To a man, they knew their efforts in the first half of the game had been half-hearted at best. All the hours of practice during the week seemed to have been for nothing. The game plan the coach had carefully crafted had been ignored. Now they were losing by 24 points and there was nothing to indicate things would turn around during the final 30 minutes of the game.
"Are you with me, or not?" he shouted again.
Would his players follow his instructions, play together as a team and give their very best effort? The question demanded an answer of either "yes" or "no". "Maybe" was not an option.
"Maybe" is not an option when answering Jesus Christ's question, "Are you with me, or not?" While many people would like to "sit on the fence" with Jesus, saying things like, "He was a great man, a wonderful prophet, but I'm not so sure about him being God," they have answered his question with a "no". When it comes to life, we have to be on someone's team and we only have two choices--God's team or our team.
Many years ago a man named Peter was throwing out his fishing net into the Sea of Galilee, patiently plying his trade. His mind was probably on a million things; how many fish he had to catch to pay the bills, how to fix the leak in his roof and the fight he had with his wife earlier in the day. But then suddenly he heard a voice call out, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." At that instant Jesus asked Peter, "Are you with me, or not?" Peter answered with his feet. He followed Jesus that day and for the rest of his life.
Several years later as Peter was nearing the end of his earthly life he wrote a short letter to some Christians living in what today is the nation of Turkey. In the second chapter of that letter he confronted his readers with the same question asked of him years earlier. "Are you with Jesus, or not?" That question, 2000 years ago, was the most important question a human being could answer, and it still is today.
Certainly, Sunday is a day to rest, kick back and reenergize for Monday and the start of the new week. Most of all, though, Sunday is to clear our heads of all our distractions and hear from the One who created us, who paid for our sins, who is preparing an eternal home in heaven for us. This Sunday, through the writings of the Apostle Peter, our Lord is going to confront us with the compelling question, "Are you with me, or not?" Join us at 10:00 am (August 29th).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Filling Up on Junk Food

A lot is being said these days about the large amounts of low quality foods we Americans are consuming on a daily basis. Some reports have come out even predicting that due to our bad eating habits, our life expectancy rate will actually fall in the coming years. What a testimony to the tastiness of junk food! We know it isn't good for us. And yet, we still eat it in huge quantities. All this is not new information; we've all had the personal experience of opening a bag of chips with the intention of eating just a handful only to leave it moments later half empty.
The most deceptive part of junk food, though, is that while it makes our stomachs feel full, it doesn't give our bodies the nutrients necessary to live a healthy life. Over the years, that lack of nutrition takes its toll, leaving us to deal with severe health issues.
While it gets far less attention from the media, many people today suffer from spiritual malnutrition. Spiritual junk food comes in the form of books, TV shows, and magazine articles which present life from an "It's all about me!" point of view. We're told to do whatever is necessary to make ourselves successful, fulfilled, happy--and always on our terms. And, we like to hear people tell us to live for ourselves; it makes us feel just a little bit less selfish!
The problem is, we know deep down that self-centered living is temporary. In the Bible that kind of life is described in terms of a flower that blooms in the morning and then is burned up by the afternoon sun. What we need is real spiritual food that will enable us to survive not only the heat of life's problems, but the raging fire of death. This Sunday, as we continue to study the first letter of Peter as we find it in the New Testament, we are going to see what real spiritual food is--the food of the Word of God. If you are tired of being spiritually tired all the time because you aren't getting the right food, join us Sunday at 10:00 am and fill up with food that will take you into eternity!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Alternative

The Friday online edition of the Wall Street Journal printed a rather unusual but thought provoking article by the title “The Perils of Wanna Be Cool Christianity”. The basic proposition of author Brett McCracken is that some churches have gone too far in an effort to attract young people. He writes.

There are various ways that churches attempt to be cool. For some, it means trying to seem more culturally savvy. The pastor quotes Stephen Colbert or references Lady Gaga during his sermon, or a church sponsors a screening of the R-rated "No Country For Old Men." For others, the emphasis is on looking cool, perhaps by giving the pastor a metrosexual makeover, with skinny jeans and an $80 haircut, or by insisting on trendy eco-friendly paper and helvetica-only fonts on all printed materials. Then there is the option of holding a worship service in a bar or nightclub (as is the case for L.A.'s Mosaic church, whose downtown location meets at a nightspot called Club Mayan).

However, according to McCraken, the results of such attempts to be relevant may do more harm than good.

"In his book, 'The Courage to Be Protestant,' David Wells writes: 'The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially with the younger generations. What it has not considered carefully enough is that it may well be putting itself out of business with God...'
If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that 'cool Christianity' is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don't want cool as much as we want real.
If we (young people) are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched-–and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.”

In his letter to a group of persecuted Christians the apostle Peter describes the "alternative" life people of all ages are looking for today. It surely is not an easy, trendy or popular life. It is, however, rooted in the unchanging eternity of God. It is a life that offers stability, truth and trust. Above all, it offers eternal life, free of charge to all who will receive it. Jesus Christ is God; he doesn't need gimmicks. Join us at 10:00 am this Sunday morning (August 15) for the best "alternative".

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Foster Point Service on Hickam Air Force Base

Sunday, August 8, Community Lutheran Church met at Foster Point Pavilion on Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for a beautiful outdoor service, BBQ potluck, and fellowship.

It was a great time and we had an excellent turnout of members and visitors. If you didn't make it out this time, make sure to watch our website for the next fellowship outing.

Here are some photos from the day:

New Website - Community Lutheran Church Hawaii

Check out Community Lutheran Church's new website:

Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

My photo
Honolulu, HI
Community Lutheran Church holds protestant chapel services in Honolulu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor, HI. We are next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hickam Air Force Base, and Fort Shafter Hawaii. Look for us directly behind the Salt Lake, Hawaii, Target.