Friday, August 31, 2012

The Difference between Being the Person You Want to Be And the Person You Are Meant to Be

People talk a lot today about being “fulfilled”. “Fulfilled” probably has different meanings for different people, but a broad definition might be “having the kind of life you want without any major problems”. It’s understandable that all of us would like to have life on our terms. There would be something wrong if a person said, “I want a life in which I don’t get anything I want and everything I don’t want!” There is a big difference, however, between hoping for pleasant circumstances and making a god of them.

The frequently mentioned American Dream is that every generation will be better off financially than the previous one. Incredibly, this has pretty much happened since World War II. America has prospered to such an extent for so long, that we have come to expect that with each new generation our homes are going to be a little bit bigger, our cars a little more luxurious, our vacations a little more exotic and our health a little less problematic. Such spectacular material success has developed into the belief that each person deserves to have life as he/she desires.

When Jesus called his followers he said, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.” By using the powerful imagery of the Roman cross, Jesus made it very clear that to be his disciple meant giving up our wants and rights in order to become the person he intends us to be. Today, we use the word “discipleship” to describe this process. It is the Church’s great responsibility to help individual believers grow more like Christ in their walk through life. Join us this Saturday evening (6:00 pm) or Sunday morning (10:00 am) as we walk the path together which leads to becoming the people God means us to be.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Power of Presence

Have you been in a situation in which you didn't know what to do or say, but had the gut feeling that you needed to stay put? It's an uncomfortable experience. And yet, the fact that you were present probably made a significant difference. More and more we are discovering the importance of presence in relationships. Several years ago people started talking about "quality time" as the key to getting along with others. The reasoning went that it wasn't necessary to spend a lot of time with people, but when you were with them, it was critical to give them your undivided attention. Tragically, people started applying that strategy with disastrous results to their family relationships. Many individuals had to learn the hard way that quality time usually doesn't happen unless we are in the presence of that person for extended amounts of time. Important moments in relationships can't be manipulated or programmed. They normally happen unexpectedly because people have committed themselves and their time to each other.

If there is anywhere that the power of presence is necessary, it is within the Church of Jesus Christ. It is so easy to view the church as an institution to which we belong as participants. And so we think that if we aren't present, it's no big deal. On various occasions, however, Jesus called the Church his body, his bride and his family. Imagine what would happen to a body if the kidney or the heart decided not to do its job one day? What happens to a family if the husband or wife decides he/she doesn't feel like participating anymore? 

Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." The church is meant to be a living relationship laboratory where we learn how to get through life together in a distinctly Christian way. Our presence is necessary for three reasons. First, we need to learn to deal with others as Christ intends. Second, God uses us to work in the lives of other Christians so that they can develop Christian relationship skills. Third, together we are meant to be a witness to the world that Christ does make a difference in the way his people get along with each--a difference so powerful that it creates in people the desire to know more about him.

Exciting stuff, isn't it? But remember, it all begins by being present. We invite you to be present with us either Saturday at 6:00 pm or Sunday morning at 10:00 am.     

Friday, August 17, 2012

“If There Are No Cigars In Heaven, I Shall Not Go.” (Mark Twain)

Mark Twain had a way with words. Even though his statement, “If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go,” is pretty brash, it does make us smile. The issue for Twain, though,  probably wasn’t really cigars, but rather what we are going to do in heaven. People have the idea that eternal life is going to be one unending church service during which we’ll have to sit still on wooden pews, sing songs we don’t like and be preached at. Doesn’t sound much like Paradise, does it?

Not to worry! Even though we’re not sure exactly what we’ll be doing in heaven, we can be sure, we’re not going to be bored or disappointed for even a fraction of a second. But Twain’s statement and our caricature of heaven bring up a relevant question about worship. We have the idea that as Christians, worship is relegated to formal religious services which take place inside a church building. And because such religious services are not always the most earth shaking, our opinion concerning the value of worship in our lives is diminished.

The reason worship has always been a principle activity among believers, both during Old Testament and New Testament times, is that, far from being an isolated weekly event, worship is a dynamic way of life. Through worship God develops a personal and living relationship with us. This Saturday evening (6:00 pm) and Sunday morning (10:00 am) we are going to study what the Bible says about worship and its different roles in our lives. If you have the idea that worship is about “going to church”, join us for a study that will open your eyes to what God wants to do in your life.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why Are There So Many Churches?

One of the most common criticisms of the Christian Church is that there are so many different kinds of church groups and they all seem to be fighting each other. In fact, some people say Christians are more interested in fighting each other than Satan. From the point of view of those looking in from the outside of the Church, Christians have already lost the battle. How can we talk about the benefits of being a follower of Jesus Christ when we can’t even get along with each other?
Researchers say that there are more than 20,000 different Christian denominations throughout the world. Each one, of course, claims to teach the truth about Biblical Christianity. Which leads to another question: With so many churches all disagreeing about what the Bible says and means, can anyone be sure about what it actually does say?
These questions are all very uncomfortable and we Christians tend to ignore them. But that’s like trying to sweep an elephant under the rug. Not everyone who asks the tough questions about the differences in churches is cynical. Some people are honestly looking into Christianity and they deserve clear answers to their questions, even if in answering those questions we Christians may feel uneasy.
This Saturday evening (6:00 pm) and Sunday morning (10:00 am) we’re going to confront the reality of the vast diversity of churches. We’re going to ask questions like, “Are the differences between churches important enough that we form separate denominations?” “Should we all just forget our differences and form one big church body?” Even though we may not feel completely satisfied with the answers for all our questions, we will force ourselves to compare what we think is important in the Church with what the Bible says are its most pressing priorities.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Indispensable Church

What is the one thing you can’t find anywhere in the world except in the Church of Jesus Christ?

Forgiveness of sins
Help for daily living

Each item in the list is very important to leading a healthy life. And so we seek out friends to support and encourage us. There are many wise people who offer inspiration, hope and instruction for daily living. But who can legitimately give us the forgiveness of sins? Who would be so bold as to say, “You can be certain, all of your sins are forgiven before God”? If someone did say this to us, they would have to be speaking in the place of God himself. For as bold as it seems, it is exactly this role which the Church plays in the world—speaking in the place of God.

On the evening of the day Christ returned from the dead after being crucified, he showed himself alive to his followers and gave them one command: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (John 20:23)” The greatest and most powerful reason the Church exists is to offer the forgiveness Jesus won to a world crushed by guilt.

Join us this Saturday evening at 6:00 pm or Sunday morning at 10:00 am to discover why the Church, in spite of all its problems, continues to be indispensable to the human race.

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.