Friday, March 25, 2011

When Divine Power and Unconditional Love Meet

Certain historians have developed what they call a "cyclical" view of the past. These scholars believe that history repeats itself every 100 years or so. They say societies will go to one extreme and then things will get so bad that they will swing back towards the other extreme. Both extremes lead to crisis size problems, but during the years that the pendulum is in the middle, things can go fairly well.

Unfortunately, even within Christianity people tend towards extremes. For many years Jesus Christ was portrayed as an angry, violent pursuer of sinners who took delight in casting people into hell. In recent years, that same Jesus has been turned into a cuddly buddy who would never do anything to go against our will. Both concepts of Christ are grossly exaggerated and lead to tremendous damage to our understanding of who Jesus is and what he means to us.

This Sunday (10:00 am) we are going to study an event in Jesus' life which is called "The Transfiguration". It is a moment in Jesus' ministry in which he visibly takes back some of his divine characteristics. The affect on his disciples is overwhelming. In the midst of this awesome display of power, however, Jesus contemplates his upcoming arrest, torture, crucifixion and resurrection. It is as though Christ were saying, "I've got more than all the power in the world and I'm going to use it to rescue human beings."

The Jesus you will meet this Sunday will be no cuddly buddy, but neither will he be a vengeful monster. He will be as he has always been, Lord of Lords and Savior of all!

Friday, March 18, 2011

How Faith Looks In Real Life

There is a short story by James Thurber with the title The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It's about a mild mannered man who day dreams that he is a Super Hero. From scene to scene Mitty goes from one adventure to another, always defeating some evil enemy or rescuing a beautiful woman. In his own mind, Walter Mitty is the quintessence "go-to" man in dangerous situations.

When Christians read about believers from the past who demonstrated heroic faith we tend to transport ourselves back in time and imagine how glamorous it would be if we could have the same type of experiences. The truth is, however, when it comes to exercising faith, no Christian is a Super Hero. This Sunday (10:00 am) we are going to study two powerful examples of faith to see how it looks in real life. In the first we find the disciples fighting for their lives while caught in a vicious storm on the Sea of Galilee. In the second we meet a desperate mother with a gravely ill daughter who has no one to turn to but Jesus. She clings to her hope that he can help, but will he?

What we find in both stories are not superhuman people with superhuman courage, but rather people who had nowhere else to turn. They recognized Jesus was the only one who could rescue them and they humbly admitted their need before him. None of the people are glamorous. Instead, they are common folks fighting for their lives, fully aware that without Jesus Christ, they have no chance of winning. Sound familiar? It should. That's really a description of every Christian as he/she journeys through life. It may not be glamorous, but it is victorious through Jesus. And that is what life is all about, isn't it?

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:13-14)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jesus Talks Story

What was your favorite story as a child? Almost everybody has one. That story you would ask someone to read to you night after night, that story which never got old or boring. You can still probably remember it today, every word bringing a cherished image to your mind. Stories are powerful. They communicate profound ideas in a way that even children can understand while at the same time capture the attention of adults.

When you read the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus Christ you find that he was a storyteller. In fact, he is the Master Storyteller of all time. Why? It’s not because his stories were interesting, although they are. It’s because the message he conveys changes lives. Jesus goes beyond helpful moral truths such as “don’t talk to strangers” (Little Red Riding Hood) or “never give up” (the Little Engine that Could), and addresses the key questions of life such as:

Why am I here?
How should I live?
What happens when I die?

This Sunday (10:00 am) we are going to read through a collection of stories which Jesus told. Each one touches on an essential part of our lives. Each one requires us to think deeply about our priorities. Above all, in each story Jesus invites us to a changed life—changed for the better, changed for eternity.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dealing with Doubts and Disappointments

One of the hardest questions Christians deal with is why God allows bad things to happen to people who believe in him and serve him with their lives. It just seems that if God truly loved the people that love him, he would protect them from painful experiences. But history demonstrates very clearly that God doesn't show any favoritism when it comes to the matter of suffering. One of the most shocking examples of a Christian suffering unjustly is John the Baptist. Here is a man who gave up everything to get people ready for the coming of Jesus. And when the Lord came, he quietly disappeared into the background and encouraged his followers to become disciples of Christ.

It would seem that for all his self-sacrifice and selfless service, John would at least deserve a quiet retirement in the country. But what happened to him was tragic. He was arrested by King Herod because John had confronted the king with a moral problem--stealing his brother's wife. Instead of reflecting on what John said, Herod threw him into a dungeon in a wilderness fort called Machaerus. It was in that stinking pit John spent the remaining days of his short life. And how did his life end, you wonder? The daughter of the woman Herod stole from his brother did some erotic dancing for the king one night when he was partying. Herod got so excited he promised the girl anything she wanted. Influenced by her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. And that was exactly what she got!

The whole story is grotesque. People with character and morals are butchered while the self-centered and ruthless continue in their ways. It's the kind of story which makes even the strongest Christian wonder what God is doing at times. And yet, these questions, doubts and disappointments must be addressed for though we may not be confronted with the kind of unjust suffering John experienced, we too will go through times when we will ask God, "Are you really there for me? Is there something I need to know that you aren't telling me?"

Join us this Sunday (March 6) at 10:00 am. Together let's embark on the path which leads to victory over the doubts and disappointments of the Christian 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.