Friday, May 31, 2013

Jesus, the Only Way: Intolerant or Invaluable?

It is difficult to spend a lot of time with a person who always insists there is only one way to do things – their way! It’s nice to have options, to exercise the freedom of choosing what we would like. Years ago a fast food chain imprinted the power of choice in our minds with the advertizing campaign: “Have it your way!” Frank Sinatra gave added credibility to the idea we need to have things the way we want with his classic rendition of the song, “My Way”.

So it is difficult for people to be positive when somebody comes along and says, “No, in certain matters, you don’t have a choice. There is only one way.” In regard to knowing who God is, what he means to us and how to have a personal relationship with him, that is exactly what Jesus Christ says. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through the Son.” By itself, such a statement seems to be the product of megalomania. However, that statement anchored on the historical and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, means human beings can have certainty when it comes to answering life’s most important questions.

Jesus as the only way to knowing God and eternal life was just as controversial when his disciples began to preach as it is today. This Sunday we’ll be studying an account from the book of Acts in which Peter and John, after being confronted about healing a man paralyzed from birth, boldly responded that the power of the miracle came from Jesus Christ. And then they told those listening, “For there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

If life is comfortable and pleasant at this particular moment, you may be inclined to see Jesus’ claim as the “only way” to be intolerant. But get outside your present situation and think about what lays ahead in life – times of difficulty, even suffering. How do you want to face heartbreak, financial ruin, failing health and eventually death? Do you want to pray, “God, if you are out there and you can do something about my situation, I’d really appreciate a little favor”? Or do you want to pray with the certain confidence, “God is my refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble because if God did not withhold his Son but gave him up for us all through his death on the cross, will he not also graciously give us all things”? For the earthquakes of life, we need certainty, the certainty of not only knowing who God is, but that he will use everything in all creation to do for us what is best.

Join us this Saturday evening (6:00 pm) or Sunday morning (10:00 am) to see how invaluable it is that Jesus is the only way.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Great Gatsby and Pentecost

Reviews of the remake of the film “The Great Gatsby” have been mixed. Film purists have criticized the attempt to modernize the plot while others have applauded the film’s bold attempt to weld the aura of the roaring twenties with our contemporary culture. Regardless of one’s artistic impression of the film, its final scene is spectacularly shocking. It proposes a message which is so desperately needed in our moment in history.

Jay Gatsby is a self-made billionaire who has come into his wealth by less than honorable means. His lifestyle goes beyond the word extravagant. Money is no issue for Gatsby as he tries to spend his way to obtain the one thing in life he doesn’t have – true love.

The movie ends with Gatsby in a coffin, shot dead. More striking though, is that only one person is present at his funeral. Only weeks earlier Gatsby had been the talk of New York, the man who hosted the most fabulously decadent weekend parties which everyone wanted to attend. But in death, he was alone, very much alone. His “friends” had disappeared as his life unraveled. His money could not help him. And even more tragic, he never did find the love he was seeking.

The message of “The Great Gatsby” is laser like: money, no matter how much a person has, can buy happiness. That message has been around a long time. People acknowledge it as true, but the lesson is not well learned by most. People may say “money can’t buy happiness”, but they still live as though it does.

And that brings us to Pentecost. Pentecost is a story about a message too, but it is a completely positive message. Fifty days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead he empowered his disciples to take the message of his resurrection to the world. Pentecost describes the power of the Holy Spirit enabling a few ordinary people to change the world in an extraordinary way. What money can’t do, Jesus Christ can. And that is one of the messages of Pentecost which people today so desperately need to hear and understand. Join us this Sunday at 10 am. Be a part of getting that message out!

Friday, May 17, 2013

What On Earth Am I Here For?

There are some days, aren’t there, when we honestly wonder what life is all about and if there is some kind of plan behind everything, or if life is just a helter-skelter sequence of unassociated events? While it may seem, in those down moments of life, that a meaningless existence appears the easier path to choose, that is a horrendous deception. It is true, if there is no plan or purpose for our lives, we are not accountable for how we live. We can justify doing what we want, regardless of how our behavior affects other people. The crushing reality of meaninglessness, however, is worthlessness. If our lives have no meaning, neither have they worth. We are, as a song from years back went, “Dust in the wind.”

Just before Jesus Christ removed himself from the visible sight of his disciples – on the day we call Ascension – he explained what his followers are on this earth for. To those who identify with him, who call him Savior and God, Jesus gives a mission which at the same time is exhilarating and exhausting. His plan for our lives challenges us to the utmost while at the same time fills us to overflowing with supernatural meaning, value and importance.

How do you answer the question, “What on earth am I here for?” If you aren’t satisfied with your answer, join us either Saturday evening (6:00 pm) or Sunday morning (10:00 am) for the alternative Jesus offers you.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother’s Day Is More Than a Hallmark Card

Those of a cynical bent see Mother’s Day as one more money making scheme which leads people to buy gifts their mothers will probably not use in an effort to salve their consciences for not treating mom well during the other 364 days of the year. But Mother’s Day is so much more than that.

Mother’s Day is a celebration of that which is best in the human race. Mother’s Day is a day to honor the one person in our lives who probably sacrificed more for our happiness than anyone else. Mother’s Day is an opportunity to take a stand against the growing individualism and isolation of our society by stating boldly that people are more important than things, that family well-being is more important than self-centered happiness.

The Christian mother is a symbol of sacrifice. She is committed to doing anything for the good of her children, even if it comes at her expense. She represents the ideals and values which the American family so desperately needs today.

If you have a wonderful mom who seemed to always mix love and discipline in just the right measures, take this Mother’s Day to tell her what she means to you. Thank her. Tell her you love her.

If you have a mom who didn’t always get it right with her kids, a mom who was learning to find her own way in life, be there for her on Sunday. You can be sure she knows the mistakes she made far better than you. Tell her the past is the past. Affirm her. Assure her you will walk into the future together, supporting one another.

There is a fierce assault today on what has been called the “traditional” family – one husband, one wife and children. Its critics want to see our nation become a group of individuals whose greatest allegiance is to self-fulfillment. The traditional family, however, is God’s idea. It has been the foundation of every society in history. Every culture that has gotten away from family commitment has crumbled. The future will demonstrate the same as has the past. We need families. Motherhood is one of the pillars of the family. So let’s honor our moms Sunday – because they deserve that honor, because it is good for us to express our thanks to them and because our country needs Christians to celebrate the tremendous gift God has given us called – family!

Friday, May 3, 2013

What Kind of Proof Do You Need?

The first Easter Sunday when Jesus appeared to his followers, Thomas, one of the original 12 disciples, was not present. And no matter what the other disciples said to convince him that Jesus had risen from the dead, Thomas refused to believe. He said, “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.” You probably know how that challenge turned out.

For a moment though, think about your own questions. Fill in the blank of the following statement with what causes you to doubt Jesus:

“Unless I ________________________________, I will not believe.”

Every one of us has had doubts about our faith. Maybe we didn’t want to put our finger in the nail holes of Jesus’ hands, but it was something we wanted him to do for us. Have you ever had thoughts like, “Jesus, unless you heal me or give me that job or make my life the way I want it to be, I will not believe in you”? This Sunday we’re going to use the doubts of Thomas to learn how to turn our doubts over to Jesus so that he can turn them into something positive in our lives. Doubts are something we all struggle with, no matter how sincere our faith is. What matters is what we do with those doubts. Join us either this Saturday evening (6:00 pm) or Sunday morning (10:00 am) and start turning your doubts into something good.

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.