Friday, November 29, 2013


How is the shopping going so far? It can be challenging depending on how many people there are to buy for and how much money is budgeted for gifts. And then there are those folks who have everything! It gets very frustrating going from store to store looking at possible presents that are either too expensive or just plain too “blah” to buy. Finding presents which people will appreciate and use can take a whole lot of work.

A friend recently helped his elderly parents move from their home of forty some years to a small apartment. Much to his surprise he found several years of Christmas presents he had given his parents in the attic, still in the original boxes. They had never been used. He laughed as he spoke about the experience, but it was clear there was disappointment in his voice. Time, money and love had gone into giving those presents. Unfortunately, they were not the gifts his parents were looking for.

The tradition of exchanging gifts is meant to be a commemoration of the gifts God wants us all to have not only during Christmas, but throughout our entire lives. During the Sundays of the Advent season (December 1, 8, 15, 22) we are going to look at the gifts of hope, love, joy and peace which God offers us through Christ. These gifts are so different from the ones we buy in stores. They’re not glamorous. They can’t be bought with money. And sometimes they don’t even make us feel the way we want. But these presents from God are what make up the foundation of a meaningful, productive Christian life. No one can take them away. Nor will any wear out or become out of date. When it comes to hope, love, joy and peace – they only grow and get better with each year.

Maybe what you need to help you through the shopping season is a rest from the stores and some quiet time hearing about the gifts God gives to you. Join us each weekend during December either on Saturday evenings (6:

Friday, November 22, 2013

What Is the Alternative?

The subject of Judgment Day is an uncomfortable one, even for Christians. It’s easy enough for us to talk about heaven, but hell? How does a place of never ending anguish fit with a God who sacrificed his own Son on behalf of the human beings he created?

But what is the alternative? If there is no such thing as a final accounting of each person’s life, what is the point of human life? If a person can “get away” with doing horrible things all his life and then not be held accountable, something is very, very wrong. That kind of thinking seems to contradict every sense of justice and fairness which exists in us.

For as horrible a concept as hell is (and Jesus spoke of it more than anyone else in the Bible), it literally screams out to us, “What we do is of the greatest importance! It matters for all eternity!”

It’s easy to just kind of stumble through life trying to be happy, avoid pain as much as possible and live comfortably. Judgment Day explodes that kind of thinking by demonstrating that our daily actions have consequences which will last forever.

We can only imagine the pressure a professional quarterback is under as he takes the last snap of the Super Bowl with his team down by 5 points and on the opposing team’s 10 yard line. The NFL championship rests on his shoulders. What could be more important? How about some little kid giving another little kid who is thirsty a cup of water? Do you think God is worried about who wins the Super Bowl or how the people he created live?

There are only two things we can be sure of: we have today to live and eternity is waiting for us. If the choices we make today will determine where we will spend eternity, wouldn’t you agree your life is pretty important?

And remember, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, there is absolutely no reason – no reason at all anyone should be in hell. He died for the sins of the world. Believe it and Judgment Day changes from a day to fear to a day to look forward to.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Don’t Miss Out on the Benefits!

Imagine you ate out at a certain restaurant and the following day mention your dining experience to a co-worker who asks, “What did you think of the dessert buffet?” You look at him quizzically and respond, “What dessert buffet? We didn’t have dessert.” He then looks at you with a pained expression and says, “You missed out! They have all sorts of cakes, pies, ice cream and the best part is, it’s included with the price of the dinner!” If that actually happened, you would be pretty let down, to say the least. You had every right to eat all kinds of fabulous sweet stuff, but you didn’t know it was part of the meal.

There are a lot of believers who have the same experience with Christianity. They have the idea that the only benefit which comes from believing in Christ is eternal life. And so they often go through this life with the attitude that they have to give up a lot of fun stuff they’d really like to do in order to not disqualify themselves for heaven. In other words, life as a Christian on this earth is a drag but that’s what Christians have to put up with.

This Sunday we’re going to be studying one of the most powerfully encouraging chapters in the Bible – Romans 8. In this chapter, the Apostle Paul describes with a contagious enthusiasm the benefits we have today, right now, as followers of Jesus Christ. You’ve heard people say, “You can’t have the best of both worlds.” That’s not true! With Christ, you can.

Friday, November 8, 2013


At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 an armistice was declared in France that silenced the guns of WWI. Since that war was labeled as “The War to End All Wars”, the armistice was expected to usher in never-ending peace.

But that war did not end war; instead, that peace ended quickly. The children of the peace-signers were to wage an even more horrific war over many of the same blood-soaked fields. Since then, the world has seen more wars with greater weapons, and less chance for lasting peace.

Armistice Day has been changed to Veterans Day for a number of reasons. But the saddest reason is that the hope tied to the first Armistice Day has long ago faded and died.

Christians are aware that there was an Armistice Day that took place much earlier than 1918. This one was far more successful. The announcement that: “The war is over!” took place on some pastureland in Israel, outside of Bethlehem. Citizens of heaven announced to citizens of earth that a unilateral peace treaty had been put into effect. The state of hostilities between the holy, eternal God and the descendants of Adam and Eve had ceased. The attitude of the Creator and Judge toward mankind was one of goodwill. The response of those who understood and accepted the significance of this declaration came in the form of songs of praise and glory to the One who dwelt in the highest heaven. The singing has not stopped yet.

The armistice of 1918 was to end bloodshed. The one announced on the first Christmas Day would be sealed with bloodshed. The Son of God would be placed into the hands of enemies, who would torture and kill him. The bloody pieces of wood upon which he died would be recognized as evidence that the price of peace had been paid. God the Father would not wage war against the human race. His wrath, instead, had fallen upon his innocent Son. Jesus was the voluntary scapegoat.
There are those who still rage against the God of Glory. Many have rejected the declaration of peace and continue to carry out guerilla warfare against him. This is as sad as it is true. Why fight, when you are already forgiven? Why die, when you are offered life?

The war between God and the people of the earth is over. The Prince of Peace has come to earth to seal the contract. It is a gift from the Holy One.

Nations will still rise up against nations, and our children will need to replace those presently standing guard against America’s enemies. But, God is not at war with us.

The Christmas armistice still stands—and stand it will till the end of time.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military

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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.