Friday, October 29, 2010

It's The Same Old Thing!

There is nothing more frustrating for parents, while in the midst of explaining something very important, than to see that bored, glazed over look in the eyes of their teenage son or daughter. No matter how hard the parent tries, their teen just doesn't get it. Maybe the child is being rebellious. Maybe it's just a matter of immaturity. Regardless of the reason, though, the parent knows their teen is going to suffer from not learning that particular life lesson. Often, because parents feel strongly about teaching certain values to their children, they will repeat over and over again the themes they are trying to get across. And that is one reason teens give for their looks of boredom. "Dad, Mom, you say the same old thing. I've heard it all before!" Dad and Mom respond by saying, "But that doesn't make it any less true or important!"

Getting bored with something we're familiar with unfortunately isn't only for teenagers. How often hasn't it happened to us when we hear the familiar story of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins that our attention is suddenly stolen by an intriguing spot on a ceiling tile or a fascinating bug crawling along the floor? We rationalize by thinking, "But I've heard this story so many times."

As musical scales are to the musician and technique drills are to the athlete, the cross is to the Christian. We can't hear it, think about it or apply it to our lives enough. We can go to church three times a week, study the Bible every day for an hour, but if we don't understand what happened on Good Friday, we won't get life right.

This Sunday our theme is: "The cross is the crux of Christianity." The word "crux" is actually the Latin word for "cross". Long ago people realized that what Christ did on the cross is the heart of Christianity. Take the cross out and you don't have Christianity. And so in the English language, the word "crux" has taken on the meaning "that which is essential" or "the most important part of something". Join us this Sunday (October 31) at 10:00 am ready to hear what might seem like the same old thing. But that familiar message is what has been changing lives for the past 2000 years. And it can surely change your life too!

Friday, October 15, 2010

You Are Somebody--God Says So!

Use of the term "self-esteem" has exploded in recent decades. Whether it was right or not, years ago people didn't talk much how a person felt about him/herself. Maybe it was because people didn't have the time or leisure to worry about such things. Or, it might have been that folks looked at the world a little bit differently at that time. Things have changed though, and in the last 40 years or so we've been encouraged to not only explore how we feel about ourselves, we are told it is important to share our findings with others.

The increase in peoples' interest in self-esteem has led to a significant number of books and seminars on the subject with the purpose, of course, to help us feel better about ourselves. There is no doubt that how we view ourselves will affect greatly not only the way we feel, but how we live our lives. However, a positive self-esteem has to be based on something solid. In other words, if I feel good about myself, there has to be a reason for such feelings. For instance, if a young person works hard on a term paper and receives a high grade, he/she has reason to feel good about a job well done. On the other hand, if that same young person throws together a report in a few hours and receives a poor grade, then those good feelings are not appropriate.

A few years ago a speaker had several thousand people chanting, "I am somebody! I am somebody!" What exactly those folks meant when they shouted, "I am somebody" is up to debate, but it probably had to do with something like, "I deserve respect and you better do what I want." Every single human being deserves respect but to demand that just because we are alive we should get our way, that is another thing. Unfortunately, much of what is written and discussed concerning self-esteem today comes from that self-centered point of view.

This Sunday, as we continue to study the Apostles' Creed, we're going to learn what it means to confess, "I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth." What we'll find is that the true basis for our self-esteem is determined by Who made us. When we realize that our bodies, minds and special talents all are gifts from our Creator, well, that puts a whole different emphasis on how we feel about ourselves. From a Christian point of view, self-esteem is not based primarily on how we see ourselves, but rather on the fact that God himself made us. Not only that, he sent his Son to die in our place to bring us back into his family. The worth which God gives us is of eternal value. And it is that value which develops humility and compassion in us as we consider how much God has done for us. Whether you suffer from too much self-esteem or too little, understanding that the reason you are alive is solely because of God's express intent will enable you to see yourself and your life in a positive, productive way that won't be subject to feelings or pride. And what a difference that will make in your life! Join us this Sunday, October 17 at 10:00 am.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Belief Matters

A few years ago a friend said to me, "When it comes to religion, I go by what my mother taught me. She said,

'It doesn't matter what you believe about God as long as you practice what you believe.'"

This person's mother was probably saying that no matter what people believe, they should practice the golden rule which is "do unto others as you would want them to do unto you." That sounds good in a conversation, but unfortunately doesn't hold true in real life.

The fact is, belief matters more than any other one thing in our lives when it comes to our behavior. Every single person on earth has a belief about why he/she was born, what the purpose of life is, how we are to live and what happens after death. And those beliefs are what serve as the basis for peoples' actions. No matter how thoughtless something we do might seem, it comes from our beliefs, from the way we view life and the world.

Throughout history we see example after example of people who committed the most horrendous crimes against other people and we wonder how they could do such things. But if we could get into their minds, understand their beliefs, we would see why they did what they did. In many of these instances, the people that did such terrible things actually thought they were in the right!!!

This coming Sunday we are going to begin a sermon series on the Apostles' Creed. One might wonder what this ancient creed has to do with people living in the 21st century. But these ancient words contain the basic truths of Christianity, the beliefs which have served as the foundation of life for millions of people throughout the last 2000 years. And those beliefs remain as vital, powerful and above all--true--as they were 2000 years ago.

If your life is going to matter, first your beliefs have to matter. Join us this Sunday, October 10 as we begin to mine the spiritual riches of the Apostles' Creed!

Friday, October 1, 2010

United We Stand

It isn't in style to say, "I need you," to another human being. Instead, we are told to be independent, to develop a lifestyle that keeps other human beings at a distance, a controllable distance. Some people even say, "You don't want to get too close to anyone because then you are vulnerable, open to being hurt." The truth of life, however, is much different. From the time we are born, we are dependent on other people and this principle holds true until the day we die. We can't do life alone, no matter how self-sufficient we might try to be. That's good news though. In fact, it is fantastic news, because God designed us not only to be dependent on him but interdependent on each other. When we understand that truth, our lives become not only much easier, but much more full.

When the Apostle Peter came to the final chapter in his letter to a group of first century Christians he reminded them to stick together, to work together, to support one another. Why? Because Christians share a common enemy who is bigger than we are. That enemy is Satan. Jesus called Satan a deceiver, the father of lies and a murderer. Those statements in themselves tell us how dangerous the Devil is. Throughout the New Testament we hear again and again of the necessity of Christians coming together for the purpose of mutual support and encouragement as we fight together against the attacks of Satan. When it comes to the Christian life, we are in this together, for eternity.

The Devil is just as much a "roaring lion looking for someone to devour" today as he was two thousand years ago when Peter first wrote those words. What we 21st century Christians need to take to heart is what it means to be "devoured" by Satan. Peter isn't being overly dramatic, he's describing the horrible consequences of leaving Christ and following Satan. Jesus left no doubt: he opened heaven for all, however, if a person rejects his offer, the only other alternative to spending eternity in heaven is to spend it in hell. That's what Satan wants. That's why together we must do everything from preventing that from happening. Together we stand. Join us this Sunday and let's stand together.

Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

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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.