Friday, November 30, 2012

Relief on the Way

It would be called the Battle of the Bulge. But those in the 101st Airborne and 10th Armor, caught in the vise of the Wehrmacht amidst the snow and freezing weather of December, cared little about what their struggle would be labeled. They thought only of the need for other U.S. troops to break through. With food and ammunition running low, they prayed for relief.
When their commander said “Nuts!” to the German demand for surrender, the sound of chuckling spread through the hunkered down units. But, bold words would mean little if the weather did not break, if supplies could not get through, and if the relief column did not arrive. The arrival of Patton’s Third Army and clear skies, allowing supplies and bombs to be dropped, brought shouts of joy. That night the sky lit up with the fire of American weaponry.
We might wonder why some of the Scripture readings for the weeks before Christmas talk about Judgment Day. Warnings of impending destruction seem out of harmony with a season of peace and joy. But, not to those who understand the reality of the times!
The forests of the Ardennes seemed like a beautiful place to spend Christmas—until the enemy opened fire. The reality was that those troops were in danger. They were outnumbered by a powerful and desperate foe.
Is it not the same for us? No matter how beautifully decorated the landscape, no matter the warmth of friendship, and in spite of how safe we feel, the reality is that a dedicated, demonic enemy surrounds us, and plans his final push against us. If we fail, if we fall, all is lost. It is a troubling thought.
Satan and his forces were defeated at Golgotha. But they remain a threat. They have become insurrectionists, looking for easy targets. They are experts at disinformation. They bribe with promises of fun, fame, and money if we give up our fight against them. We are tempted. Doubts and fears, troubles and heartaches can make us wonder if we really are the rescued of God, if he really will deliver us from evil. Often, it does not seem like it. It would be so easy to give in. We start looking for a white flag.
To Christian warriors, to those struggling to hold out against the assaults of the enemy, the word comes, “Hold on! Hold out! Your relief is coming!” The blazing Glory of the Lord that once lit up over fields of Bethlehem will appear again. The Victor will return.
Christmas declares: “Jesus is coming again!” Then, this world, with all of its conflicts, will end. For the faithful Christian warrior, that is not a threat. It is a relief!

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer

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Friday, November 16, 2012

What Non-Christians Really Think About Christians

By Thom Rainer • 11/07/2012 in Outreach Magazine

These surprising insights about what non-Christians think of Christians can profoundly impact your outreach.
One of my greatest joys in research is talking to and listening to those who clearly identify themselves as non-Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not celebrating their absence of faith in Christ. My joy comes from listening to those who don’t believe as I do, so that I might be better equipped to witness to them.
Over the past several years, my research teams and I have interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians. Among the more interesting insights I gleaned were those where the interviewees shared with me their perspectives of Christians.
In this article, I group the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency. I then follow that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian. Read these comments and see if you learn some of the lessons I learned.

1. Christians are against more things than they are for.
“It just seems to me that Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other. They are so negative that they seem unhappy. I have no desire to be like them and stay upset all the time.”

2. I would like to develop a friendship with a Christian.
“I’m really interested in what they believe and how they carry out their beliefs. I wish I could find a Christian that would be willing to spend some time with me.”

3. I would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian.
“The Bible really fascinates me, but I don’t want to go to a stuffy and legalistic church to learn about it. I would be nice if a Christian invited me to study the Bible in his home or at a place like Starbucks.”

4. I don’t see much difference in the way Christians live compared to others.
“I really can’t tell what a Christian believes because he doesn’t seem much different than other people I know. The only exception would be Mormons. They really seem to take their beliefs seriously.”

5. I wish I could learn to be a better husband, wife, dad, mom, etc., from a Christian.
“My wife is threatening to divorce me, and I think she means it this time. My neighbor is a Christian, and he seems to have it together. I am swallowing my pride and asking him to help me.”

6. Some Christians try to act like they have no problems.
“Harriett works in my department. She is one of those Christians who seem to have a mask on. I would respect her more if she didn’t put on such an act. I know better.”

7. I wish a Christian would take me to his or her church.
“I really would like to visit a church, but I’m not particularly comfortable going by myself. What is weird is that I am 32-years old, and I’ve never had a Christian invite me to church in my entire life.”

Do you see the pattern?
• Non-Christians want to interact with Christians.
• They want to see Christians’ actions match their beliefs.
• They want Christians to be real.

In one study we conducted, we found that only five percent of non-Christians are antagonistic toward Christians. It’s time to stop believing the lies we have been told. Jesus said it clearly: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Luke10:2).
Satan is the author of excuses. There is no reason to wait to reach those who don’t know Jesus Christ. We must go now. The harvest is waiting. And the Lord of the harvest has prepared the way.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What You Did Today Means More than You Can Ever Imagine

So how did the day go? Was it pretty routine? Just another day on the calendar crossed off? If your day was so forgettable, maybe you should ask yourself, “From whose point of view?” Maybe you think there was nothing special in the last 24 hours of your earthly existence, but that sure isn’t God’s perspective.

The certainty of a coming day of divine judgment adds a sense of urgency and importance to our daily lives which even Christians too often fail to appreciate. God is the God of eternity. He always has been and always will be. Time, as we know it, means nothing to him. Now this God of eternity has made it very clear in the Bible that his intention for human beings is for us to spend forever with him. If that is the case, why would he leave us here, in a mortal, limited existence when we could be experiencing something so much better?

Could it be that heaven is overcrowded and believers have to wait until God creates more space? Or maybe God is giving people a waiting period to make sure they really want to spend eternity with him? Hardly! The only reason Christians remain on this earth is to be God’s representatives among the people who have not yet come to know him as God and Savior. If you think the major issues of the day are paying the bills and having a little fun, think again. The Lord who made you and redeemed you has you here to touch the lives of people with the same love and compassion he has shown to you. That means, the forgettable day which just passed actually had eternal consequences for someone’s life in addition to your own.

The reality of Judgment Day demands that we rethink what our daily lives are all about. Are you ready to start living from God’s point of view? Join us this weekend for one of our services and begin to see your day-to-day life from a spectacularly different vantage point.

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.