Friday, February 24, 2012

How to Live a Life of Greatness

Who would you say was the greatest person in history? If you raised that question in a group of people, it would probably create a very lively, maybe even, heated discussion. Each person would point out stunning accomplishments by the person of their choice and how those events changed the course of history for many people. Most probably, the names discussed, would be well known to all. In our minds, great people do the kinds of things that people notice--for a long time.

It isn't likely that the name "John the Baptist" would be included in a discussion of the greatest person in history. He might be considered one of the most colorful personalities of all time or most courageous, but probably not greatest. But what if God has another definition of "greatness"? What if, greatness is not about fame or skill or political acumen, but obedience? Jesus called John the Baptist one of the greatest men who ever lived. He didn't do anything particularly earth shaking. He preached. He baptized. He ended up in jail and finally had his head cut off by a virulent woman. And it all took place in a year or less! So what made John so great?

John the Baptist played his role in God's plan for this world with everything he had and when it was time to step aside, he did just that with grace and love. You see, he had the job of getting people spiritually tuned in for the beginning of Jesus Christ's ministry. He told people, "The Messiah is coming soon and the way you can get yourself ready is to repent, be baptized and change your ways. He'll tell you the rest when he arrives." John pointed people to Jesus. When Christ came on to the scene, John quietly backed away and let Jesus take the spotlight. The end of his life was no less remarkable. It happened in a dark cell underneath the fortress of Machaerus at the hand of an executioner.

"Greatness" in God's dictionary can be defined this way: "To give glory and honor to Christ in whatever circumstances he places a human being in." Now that sheds some light on greatness, doesn't it? In fact, that makes greatness accessible to a lot of people who normally wouldn't be considered great. Even more important is the fact that greatness on God's terms has an influence which lasts a whole lot longer than human defined greatness.

Where is your life taking you? Is it time to consider a change in direction? Join us Sunday (February 26) at 10:00 am and together let's set out on the path of greatness.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Encounters of the Supernatural Kind

According to Jesus, if you have to see everything to believe, you are missing out on a good deal of what is going on! In fact, the way he described life, what we experience, what we see and hear and feel and touch and taste--that is only the tip of the iceberg of human existence. He taught there is a spiritual world as real as the air you are breathing right now. The thought of winged angels, both good and evil, doing battle leaves our enlightened 21st century minds unimpressed. However, such images are caricatures of what is actually happening. The forces of evil operate at a level of sophistication which make our most complex technology look like child's play. The immensity of what is at stake in this invisible struggle makes our earthly wars pale in comparison.

We get an idea of what is spiritually going on around us from the ministry of Jesus Christ. Everywhere he turned, it seemed, he was confronted by some force of evil, ready to do battle with him. When he taught, Jesus made it clear the devil is not a figment of our imagination, but real and horribly effective in his destructive tactics. Most frightening is that Satan is fighting not just for our physical lives, he wants us for all of eternity.

Is it so hard to believe there are supernaturally powerful forces for evil all around us? How else can we explain the consistent cruelty with which human beings have treated each other since the beginning of recorded history? Is there no reason to believe there is a heaven and a hell? How else do we explain that all of human life is based on continuous judgments of good and bad, right and wrong? If there is no judgment of our lives after death, we have no basis for judgment right now. Who then is to say a murderer deserves to go to prison?

In the deepest recesses of our being we sense the invisible spiritual war going on around us. And we know there will be a judgment when we die. Maybe this is why so many people try to explain these things away. They sneer at the idea of judgment or condemnation. But is it all a cover up for fear--fear of not knowing what the outcome of that judgment will be?

We have reason to be concerned about the spiritual war we cannot see, but we have no reason to be afraid. Join us this Sunday (February 19) at 10:00 am to discover why!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Heart Talk

Jesus rarely talked about peoples' status. He never talked about the way they looked. He didn't even seem very impressed by how much money they had. But when it came to the heart, then Jesus Christ was into the conversation.

One day Christ told a story about a man planting seed. He described the different kinds of soil on which the seed fell and pointed out it was only the seed which fell on the good soil that grew. He went on to explain the story wasn't about agriculture but peoples' hearts. The different types of soil represented the different priorities in peoples' lives--that which they held to be most important. The seed symbolized Christ's message: that he is the Son of God who came to this earth on the greatest Rescue Mission of all time. What is noteworthy, Jesus said, is the capability of bad heart priorities to nullify the effects of that Rescue Mission. The end of the story leaves its hearers with the unspoken question resounding in their ears, "What kind of heart do I have?" This Sunday (February 12) at 10:00 am we're going to look at the different ways people answer that question and then compare them with Jesus' answer. Where are you in this matter of the heart? Is it time for some heart talk?

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Cemetery Visit

As a little boy I dreaded those words which I only heard on beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoons, "Get in the car, we're going to the cemetery." Grudgingly I would climb into the blue 1966 Chevy Impala and sit back for what seemed to be an extremely long drive. "Why do we have to go to the cemetery," I thought? "It's a beautiful day. We don't get many beautiful days in Wisconsin, so why are we wasting something so precious to go to the cemetery?" My dislike for the cemetery didn't come from a cold heart, it was just that I had never met any of the people whose graves we visited, and so it was hard to make sense of what was going on. It seemed like we all stood over each grave, being very somber and silent, and then, after a certain amount of time, suddenly, somehow everyone would mysteriously know that it was time to move on to the next grave.

It wasn't until I experienced the reality of death in a personal way, when a high school friend died in a tragic accident, that I began to appreciate cemetery visits. The first time I went to his grave, I began to understand not only the finality of his death, but the inevitability of my own death.

An occasional walk through a cemetery is an important spiritual experience for it is a powerful reminder that each one of us is broken and we can't heal ourselves. The cemetery reminds us that death destroys everything we are and have in life. Everything...everything ends with the last breath. As we gaze upon the graves, we are forced to ask life's most important question, "Is death the end?" If the answer is "yes", then the rest of our lives will be spent avoiding the cemetery and any thought of dying? It's a futile way to live, but if death is the end, what else is there to do?

Jesus Christ answered the question over whether death is the end or not in a very different way. He boldly said that any human being who puts their trust in him as Lord and Savior will pass through death and live eternally. If what he says is true, is there anything more urgent or necessary in life than to answer his invitation to follow him?

Join us this Sunday at 10:00 am. It's time to stop dreading the cemetery!

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.