Friday, May 27, 2011

The Church – Getting Back To Its Roots

This Sunday (May 29) we’ll be studying the history of the church after Jesus ascended into heaven. It all began on a day we call Pentecost and the world has never been the same since. It’s good for 21st century Christians to go back to our roots, especially when it comes to our lives together in the church. It’s good for us because we need to continually remind ourselves of why we’re members of Christ’s church and what our mission is as a local congregation.

Today people have many different ideas of what a church should do. Books have been written on the subject. Looking back at how things started in the New Testament book of Acts, however, it was all pretty simple. The church was about people who trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They got together with each other to more effectively serve as Christ’s representatives in this world. Their mission was just as straightforward — offer the forgiveness of sins through Christ to everyone willing to listen. If they had been asked about their vision, goals and objectives, they would have probably said, “Look, Jesus Christ was killed on a Friday. He came back to life on the following Sunday and we have seen him with our own eyes. That means everything he said about himself is true. We’ve got to tell people about him and what he taught.”

Whatever image comes to mind when you see or hear the word “church”, try to think in the same way as those early Christians. We are a people who have been given eternal life by the God who created us, rescued from our own self-destructing evil. What else could be more important to us than sharing the same gift we have received? Let’s go back to our roots. We may be shocked by what God does when we do!

Friday, May 20, 2011

No Time for Busy Work

“Getting the tires clean is the most important part of washing the car!”

Those were the exact words my dad would say to me every time we washed the car when I was a little boy. It was my job to always do the wheels and I was convinced he gave me that job just to keep me occupied. So he would go through his ritual as he gave me a bucket of sudsy water and a rag, assuring me that in reality, I had the most important job. It never worked and I would always sneak away to wash the bumpers or the hood of the car. Even at a young age, we don’t like what is called “busy” work. We all want to think that what we do is important, that we make a difference.

Moments before Jesus physically removed himself from the presence of his disciples for the last time he gave them a command. He said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Can you think of a more important assignment? The One who created the world, destroyed sin and overcame death, he now gives human beings the opportunity to represent him throughout the world. Do you often feel exhausted without receiving much satisfaction for all your efforts? Join us this Sunday (May 22 at 10:00 am) as we consider what Jesus’ words “be my witnesses” mean to his followers living in 2011.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lessons on Getting a Second Chance

There are things in life at which we just don’t get a second chance. I remember running around my 7th grade woodworking classroom asking everyone in sight, “Where’s the board stretcher tool?” and not understanding why everyone laughed at me. Finally someone had mercy and told me no such tool existed. In an attempt to teach me the important lesson of measuring accurately before cutting, my shop teacher had shook his head when he saw the board I had cut too short and said, “Well, better go find the board stretcher and we’ll see what we can do.” I’ve still cut boards too short since then, but not near as many if he hadn’t taught me the important lesson that you don’t get a second chance if you cut a piece of wood too short.

There are a lot of areas of life which can be pretty unforgiving after we have made a serious mistake. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives all of humanity the assurance that when it comes to our relationship with God, there is always a second (third, fourth, etc) chance available to us. You remember Peter’s mess up, don’t you? He was Jesus’ follower who declared that his loyalty had no limits. He said, “Jesus, I will die for you.” A few hours later he denied three times even knowing Jesus! Is there a second chance for a person like that? The twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of John gives us the answer in the account of a conversation Jesus had with Peter on the beach. It’s a conversation which still speaks of hope and comfort to those of us who need second chances 2000 years later.

Join us this Sunday, May 15th at 10:00 am and let’s journey back in time to have breakfast with Jesus and Peter. Together, let’s learn what it means to live a “second chance life” through Christ.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Doubting Thomas and How Jesus Answered His Doubts

"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Those words, which came from the lips of Jesus' disciple named Thomas, seem to have a downright defiant tone, don't they? Why Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had come back from the dead in the face of all the testimony of his closest friends is impossible to say. But one thing is for sure, he wanted proof.

A week later Jesus Christ gave him that proof, appearing again to the disciples on a Sunday evening, this time with Thomas present. Jesus greets everyone and then he turns to Thomas. How Thomas must have felt when he looked into the eyes of Jesus, first an emotion of pure joy and then of shame. He had doubted the Lord's own promise. He had angrily demanded proof on his terms. And now, that proof was standing in front of him. The words Jesus spoke to him must have stung. "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

But that hard encounter produced a powerful confession. Thomas said, "My Lord and my God." That confession is really what the resurrection of Jesus is all about. Jesus didn't rise just to show his power. He rose from the dead to have people put their trust in him as their Savior God for all of eternity.

Do you still have some resurrection doubts? Maybe you haven't been as vocal as Thomas but questions have lingered throughout the years about what actually happened that first Easter Sunday. Join us this coming Sunday (May 8th at 10:00 am) with your doubts and questions. Let Jesus answer them as we study together how he answered the uncertainties of Doubting Thomas.

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.