Friday, July 29, 2011

The Workplace: War Zone or Mission Field?

People who are kind and caring individuals in every other aspect of life can become downright cutthroat at work. The lure of money and position creates an environment of no holds barred competition in the workplace which leads workers to take an "I've got to look out for myself" attitude. The result is an air of detached mistrust. No one gets close for fear of being taken advantage of. Such fears are well grounded. Backstabbing and undercutting the other is common practice in workplaces throughout the world. And yet, it is exactly into those kinds of situations God puts his people.

When most Christians hear the word "ministry" they think of a pastor or teacher or evangelist. But the New Testament makes it clear that every Christian has a ministry, regardless of what kind of profession he/she chooses. To be a "minister for Christ" is to serve the Lord in whatever one is doing at the time. Our jobs take up at least one third of our day. If the Lord is working through our lives, how could he not use us in the workplace? This Sunday (July 31) at 10:00 am we're going to study what the Bible says about the Christian and work. What we are going to see is not only does God intend work to be a blessing in our lives, but the workplace is the crucial location where he uses his people to bring others to faith. Every day you are in a vast mission field. What an important work! What a privilege!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Are You a Peacemaker or a Peacebreaker?

"It is to a man's honor to avoid strife..."

"Better a patient man than a warrior,
a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city."

"Shoot first and then ask questions."

If you took a poll and asked people which of the three quotes above would be most helpful to live by, which one do you think they would choose? One would hope it would be either of the first two quotes, but the truth is, the "Rambo Effect" has touched a lot of people in our society: Do what needs to be done to get one's way and then think about cleaning up the mess afterward.

Do you know from where the three quotes come? The first two are from the book of the Bible called Proverbs. The third is supposedly attributed to Herman Goering, the second in command of Adolph Hitler's Third Reich.

While there may be extraordinary moments, such as in military combat, that the phrase "Shoot first and then ask questions" would apply, the truth is many people are living out this kind of thinking in everyday situations. But there is no room for such an attitude in our homes, schools and neighborhoods.

We can't understand why families are breaking up at such a catastrophic rate or why parents and their children can't get along or why our politicians can't seem to come to compromises, but we ridicule as "weak" the person who avoids strife, who controls his temper and walks away from the fight in the best interest of a long term solution.

There is a tremendous amount of material in the Bible about peace. It is pretty clear that God takes peace very seriously. Join us this Sunday (July 24) at 10:00 am as we explore the role of peace in the Christian life. And as a preparation, think about the opening question of this article. Are you a peacemaker or a peacebreaker?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Are We Building Walls or Bridges?

"People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges."

The coming of the "connected" era has brought with it some interesting and disturbing contradictions. While we have the ability to instantly communicate with someone on the other side of the world, we are also able to create a protective barrier around us when we don't want to communicate with other people. Whether we send would be callers directly to voice mail, ignore e-mails or turn off our phones, we have quickly discovered the attraction of controlling how our relationships with people are going to play themselves out.

While the need for privacy is absolutely vital, our society has found itself progressively moving toward convenient relationships in which physical presence is not only not required, but not desirable. When somebody is standing in our presence, we find we have much less control over the situation. Sitting in front of a computer or having a conversation through a smart phone provides people with a flexibility to continue or end the conversation which face to face encounters don't offer. What it really comes down to is, "connected" relationships allow us to have those relationships on our terms. Which raises the questions, "Do we really need each other? Or, can we get along quite well with everyone just minding his own business?"

When it comes to how people interact, we live in confusing times. More and more people are settling for "bumper car" relationships. We are cool with the other person until they "bump" into us causing some discomfort or pain and that brings the relationship to an end. For many, it is better to have painless, superficial relationships than those which are meaningful but can hurt us. As we search for answers in this matter of relationships we need to go to the Bible to find out if people are all that important to us. What we discover is a resounding affirmation of relationships. In fact, God made us to get along with each other on the deepest of levels. Join us this Sunday (July 17) at 10:00 am as we continue our studies in Proverbs, "Wise Living in Confusing Times".

Friday, July 8, 2011

"You Mean You Didn’t Think Of That?"

It is a sickening feeling to have planned out a project to the smallest detail only to have forgotten the most important part and then see a colleague or friend roll their eyes and hear them say with exasperation, “You mean you didn’t think of that?!” Not only have we failed, but we’ve made a fool out of ourselves by neglecting what was most obvious to the success of our plan. It’s like forgetting the chicken in chicken soup! As God looks down on his creatures and listens to us making our plans, do you think he might have a similar reaction, “People, you are missing the whole point for which I created you”?

When you plan for the day, a week, a year or even a decade, what occupies your thoughts? Do those thoughts have anything to do with the God who created you? Or, are you most concerned with things like what to eat, where to live, what to do to be happy, etc? The book of Proverbs provides us with a very wise warning about how we need to go about our planning. It says,

To man belong the plans of the heart,
but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.
All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the LORD.
Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
The LORD works out everything for his own ends—
even the wicked for a day of disaster. Proverbs 16:1-4

Take some time from your busy schedule and join us at beautiful Foster Point on Hickam AFB to reevaluate the way you’ve been planning your life. It might just turn out to be the best unplanned time of your Sunday!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The 4th of July: A Time For Christian Commitment To Our Country

In 1852 the United States of America was being torn apart by the issue of slavery. It was on July 5th of that year that a freed slave, Frederick Douglass, delivered a stirring speech on what Independence Day meant to a slave. In his speech he warned his listeners of the danger of so reveling in the past that they forget the challenges of the present. His words deserve our consideration today.

"My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. The accepted time with God and his cause is the ever-living now.
'Trust no future, however pleasant,
Let the dead past bury its dead;
Act, act in the living present,
Heart within, and God overhead.'
We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. You have no right to enjoy a child's share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blest by your labors. You have no right to wear out and waste the hard-earned fame of your fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have "Abraham as our father," when they had long lost Abraham's faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham's great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great. Need I remind you that a similar thing is being done all over this country to-day?"

For Americans living in the 21st century it would be easy to fall into the same trap Douglass spoke of so long ago. We have much to remember and cherish from the history of the United States of America. Great and powerful has this country's influence been on the world. And yet, for all of America's accomplishments, much still needs to be done. For Christian Americans the 4th of July needs to be so much more than a day off of work. It is an opportunity to thank God for giving us the incredible blessing of being a citizen of our great country. But even more so it is a call to commit ourselves to be a mighty witness for Christ among our fellow Americans.

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34)

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.