Friday, February 25, 2011

Some Things Are Worth Suffering For

When it comes to pain, I rank up there with the greatest of cowards. When I was a little boy I would get slivers in my fingers and not say anything for fear of my dad getting the sewing needle to dig them out. Of course, the slivers always got infected and the pain of removing them later was always much greater, but that's the way we human beings are when it comes to suffering. We put it off, even if we know the hurt will be worse in the future.

Standing up for one's principles can also be a painful experience, especially if we are standing up for Jesus Christ. This Sunday (February 27) we are going to study a sermon Jesus gave to his disciples just before he sent them out on a preaching mission. And what he told them would have worried anybody! He pretty much said there are always going to be some people who are extremely hostile to what he said about himself. And even though their hostility is for the message, they are going to direct that hostility towards the messenger (his followers)!

For centuries Christians have held a respected and privileged place in American society but it is becoming very clear that things are changing. The open persecution we read about in other countries could well become a reality here in the coming years. And then what? Do we give up on Christ the moment following him becomes uncomfortable or even dangerous? It depends upon what we believe. Is Jesus like a crutch in life to help us get through the tough times? Or is he the Son of God, the only way to know God and be right with him? If Jesus is who he claims to be, then we have no other choice than to stand firm in him because our eternity depends on him.

For those folks who see Jesus as a weak, pale faced fellow who doesn't quite fit into the rough and tumble world of modern life, this is a "can't miss" Sunday!

Friday, February 18, 2011

God's Kind of People

We tend to hang around people who are like us and avoid those who aren't. Even within our groups we are choosey. We'll spend time with an individual doing something about which we both agree and then politely ignore one another when we disagree on a certain issue. It's a very human thing to do. But you know, the human thing isn't always the best thing, even if it is something everyone does.

When it comes to hanging around with people, we find that Jesus isn't choosey at all. In fact, when he walked this earth he spent a whole lot of time with people who hated him so much they eventually killed him. He had dinner in the homes of people with whom he had little in common and performed miracles for strangers. Jesus hung around with such different types of people that the "with it" folks of his day thought his social networking needed a total overhaul. But Jesus didn't give in to their demands. He remained firm, hanging out with whomever would hang out with him.

This Sunday (February 20 at 10:00 am) we're going to study the account of how Jesus called a tax collector named Matthew to follow him. Now you have to understand, Jesus was called "Rabbi" by his followers. He taught them about God. Actually, he taught them he is God! On the other hand, Matthew was considered a moral low life because he worked for the Romans by collecting taxes from his fellow Jews. Everybody else treated Matthew like a leper and along comes Jesus calling him to be one of his trusted companions! This story tells us a lot about how Jesus looks at people. To him, everyone is a potential follower. Everyone can come to put their trust in him.

As we consider who we hang out with, and more importantly, who we as Christians reach out to with the Gospel of Christ, we need to reexamine our attitudes. Are we judging people before we even begin to try to share our faith with them? Do we look at some people and think, "There is just no way they'll ever believe"? Or are we convinced that Christ paid for their sins just as fully as he paid for ours?

God has brought all sorts of people into our lives. His intent is that we are to be a blessing to them and they a blessing to us. Regardless of what you may think their beliefs are, keep reminding yourself that God loves the Matthews in your life as much as he loves you, and they need to know that.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Miracles: Do We All Get At Least One?

Miracles can be tough to get a handle on. The secular society in which we live claims that miracles don't happen, that they are scientifically impossible. Experience, however, even for the most skeptical demonstrates otherwise.

Even more disturbing though, is how miracles are distributed. We are excited for someone when we hear they had something happen to them that can only be explained by God's direct intervention, but we would also like to know why God doesn't do those kinds of things in our lives. For that matter, why doesn't he just do a whole bunch of miracles on one particular day and get rid of the world's problems? Wouldn't that make everyone believe in him? It seems so simple.

When we read the Bible, though, we find that God is pretty economical when it comes to miracles. There are times in history when he acts more obviously in the lives of human beings (eg. when he parted the Red Sea), but there are also long periods during which he has seemed to give up on miracles completely. The most simple and effective answer to these questions is: God is God and he can do miracles whenever and however he wants. He's the Boss. And when all is said and done, that's very true.

The life of Jesus Christ provides us with a great many examples of God suspending the laws of nature and doing extraordinary things in the lives of human beings. This Sunday we're going to look at three healing miracles which Jesus performed. And while there is no doubt the reason he did those miracles was due to the fact that he chose to do them, there is much to learn from these three accounts--not only about miracles, but also our relationship with God and how we view life on this earth. Join us this Sunday at 10:00 am. You probably won't see a spectacular miracle like the ones Jesus did, but you might experience the miracle of learning to know Christ better. And when you look at life from the standpoint of eternity, there's no bigger miracle than that!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting Really Radical

Here are two questions to think about:

What's more important to follow, the political unrest in Egypt or Charlie Sheen going to rehab again?

What are more people interested in, the political unrest in Egypt or Charlie Sheen going to rehab again?

Unfortunately, more people are going to their computers to find out the latest on Charlie Sheen. Most will shake their heads in disgust, but if the truth be told, deep down many, many people wish they could have the lifestyle of Charlie Sheen. Their reasoning goes something like, "Sure he's decadent but he's having fun. He's doing everything all of us want to do but can't." If the allegations are true, that means "having fun" involves snorting cocaine, passing out on booze and sleeping with multiple porn stars at the same time. Is that actually what people want or is there a con game going on? Have people watched so many films and passed so many hours in front of the TV that they think fun is literally destroying oneself?

We could all save ourselves a lot of grief if we would take 15 or 20 minutes away from the tube and read a little book from the Old Testament by the name of Ecclesiastes. The guy in that book makes Charlie Sheen look like a two bit player when it comes to trying to get all the fun out of life. He tried everything and came up with nothing.

A thousand years later Jesus Christ came along with a totally different message. Instead of describing the path to happiness as sex, drugs and rock n roll, he talked about things like repressing our animal instincts and doing what is right. He talked about self-denial, sacrificing for others and living for something that lasts more than 5 minutes.

If you want to get really radical about living, Jesus Christ is your only option. He made you. He knows how you are and how you were made to live. He cares about you. Just look at the cross for proof of that. He is getting a place ready for you in heaven. That's right, a special place just for you. And what he taught about how to live while we wait here to get into that place in heaven is absolutely the key to having a great earthly life.

Is the Jesus life always easy? No. Is it always comfortable? No. Will you always understand everything that happens? No. Well then, what's so great about it? The primary objective of human beings was never meant to be "having fun". Our purpose is to be who God created us to be, to live for Someone and something bigger than ourselves. It is to fulfill the mission our Creator and Savior God has planned for us.

This Sunday we are going to study what is called Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. His message is challenging to the core. But isn't that exactly what you would expect from the One who challenged and defeated Satan, sin and death? Join us at 10:00 am and begin living the really radical life.

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.