Friday, December 12, 2014

One Man Forgives, Another Doesn’t. Does It Matter?

Two men suffer unimaginably at the hands of other human beings. The horror they experienced leaves them drastically altered. They are never the same. One man holds on to the hurt and injustice, the other gives up that same hurt and injustice and forgives.

The first man says what had been done to him cannot be forgiven, that forgiveness on his part would minimize the awfulness of the crime. The second man claims his forgiveness came from God, that he was compelled to do the same towards those who had treated him so brutally.

Someone has said that forgiveness is the most unnatural of all human actions. Revenge and hate we don’t have to learn. Forgiveness is hard at any age.

Does forgiveness matter? Of course it does. Even people who have no belief in or inclination toward God know that forgiveness is essential for any meaningful relationship. But that leaves the question, “Why forgive?” Are we to forgive just to maintain a marriage, a friendship, a working relationship? Is forgiveness just part of a contract that benefits the people involved? Apart from God, there aren’t very satisfactory answers to those difficult questions.

Simply put, from a Christian point of view, Christmas is about forgiveness and nothing else. Christmas is the historical account of God becoming a human being for one purpose and one purpose only – to win forgiveness for human beings – all human beings.

The forgiveness of Christmas is definitely supernatural, but that doesn’t mean it is restricted to God. The forgiveness which Jesus Christ brought to people was meant not only to be applied to our relationship with him, but also with other people.

Does forgiveness matter? Forgiveness is what makes us so special to God. Forgiveness is what makes relationships most important in life. Forgiveness is what transforms us from brute beasts to human beings capable of living out the image of God. Forgiveness is life-changing!

Join us for one of our week-end services. We all need as much forgiveness as we can get.

Saturday Evening Worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday Morning Worship: 10:00 am

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Peace

When World War I was being fought (1914-1918), it was known as the “Great War” or “The War to End All Wars”. The carnage and destruction of that war were such that it led people to think, “This war is so terrible, people will never, ever want to go to war again.”

Tragically, a war (World War II) broke out between the same nations only twenty years later of such epic proportions that many people today have difficulty even remembering World War I. For as much as the human race yearns for peace, we have great difficulty achieving it.

Not only is conflict hard to avoid among nations, even members of the same family are challenged when it comes to getting along over prolonged periods of time. Our penchant to disagree has led to the cynical comment, “Put two people in a room and sooner or later you’ll have a fight.”

Christmas has been called the “peaceful time of year”. Many quote the words of the angels, “Peace on earth, good will toward men,” and sigh with disappointment that there isn’t more evidence in our daily lives of that peace. They wonder if peace on earth is even possible.

Has peace been an illusion which you have chased but never been able to hold on to for any length of time? Maybe our problem is understanding what kind of peace the angels were talking about that Christmas night. Maybe our concept of peace and God’s are different. Maybe peace isn’t such an unreachable dream. Join us this weekend for one of our services. Peace can be a bigger part of your life in 2015 than you ever imagined!

Saturday Evening Worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday Morning Worship: 10:00 am

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why We Need to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Using the word “my” just comes so naturally, doesn’t it? Especially when we are talking about things which we believe belong exclusively to us. We say,

“My health”
“My time”
“My money”
“My family”
“My house”
“My car”
“MY LIFE!!!”

The possessive pronoun “my” effortlessly rolls off our tongues. Why? It’s all in the grammatical description of the word – possessive. We human beings love to possess things. In fact, most of our problems are about some dispute over possessions!

But then we read an inconvenient passage like Psalm 24:1:

“The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

Oops, maybe we need to rethink the whole subject of what we possess and what we don’t. About 3500 years ago God warned the nation of Israel about falling into a false pride over their possessions. He said,

“Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God… You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:12ff)

Giving thanks just doesn’t come naturally. It is something we need to work on. And that is why Thanksgiving Day is such a healthy holiday. We take time to focus on the true source of our blessings – the God who made us. Join us tomorrow for a joyous celebration of thanks. You’ll be happier for it!

Thanksgiving Day Worship: 10:00 am
Thanksgiving Dinner: 11:00 am

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Will It All End?

Depending on what source you read, scientists tell us that the sun will burn out in either 2.8 or 4.6 billion years. At that time, the planet earth will become uninhabitable. Since most of us are probably not going to be around (even if the sun only lasts 2.8 billion years), this prediction doesn’t bother us much. If we think a little deeper of how life on earth will end, however, there are some unsettling conclusions about the “burned out” sun theory.

If human life is going to continue in its current cycle (people are born, live and die) until a certain point when the earth will no longer support human beings, but it will continue to exist in the universe – just without people – what does that mean about all those folks who were born, lived and died? What was the point of our being on the earth?

When Jesus Christ walked the planet, he talked quite a bit about returning a second time – but this return would be very different from his first coming. He said that the second time he would come to the earth it would be in all his glory and power as God to bring an end to life as we know it. More importantly for human beings, he claimed he would bring about a definitive judgment of all people – a judgment that would be in effect forever.

Jesus talked about this Day of Judgment frequently because it has so much to do with the way we live right now. According to him, how we will be judged then depends on what happens while we are living and breathing right now. Have you ever thought about your life from that point of view?

One of the key questions everybody wonders about from time to time is, “What happens when I die?” This weekend, we’re going to be studying what Jesus said about that question. His answers are pretty exciting.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How Much Are You Willing to Suffer for What You Believe In?

It’s an uncomfortable question, isn’t it? When it comes to pain, most of us are more cowardly than we would like to admit. If something hurts, we try to avoid it. And yet, when it comes to following Jesus Christ, hurting is part of the walk.

Even a cursory reading of the Gospels is enough to realize that Jesus frequently talked about suffering because of our relationship with him. He said things like,

“No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20)

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10:16)

And yet he always encouraged his followers not to give up, to remain faithful even to the point of death because what awaited them in eternity was far more valuable than anything they might have in this life.

Two thousand years later we must ask ourselves, “Am I ready to suffer for the One I believe in?” It’s a serious question, one we must think deeply about. Jesus always advised his disciples to “count the cost” of following him.

This Sunday we will be bringing before the Lord in prayer those who are currently paying a very high price for confessing Christ. But we also need to prepare ourselves for that day of persecution. It may not come in the same form as our brothers and sisters are undergoing in Syria and Iraq and North Korea – but it will come. Will we be ready? Together, let’s begin making preparations.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, November 7, 2014

Grace and Fairness

Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Fairness is getting what you do deserve. If you have been brought up as a Christian you know a lot about the word grace. You know that the Bible teaches we are saved by grace, which specifically means God forgives our sins because of Jesus’ death on the cross. Being saved by grace means getting to heaven is a gift we receive, not something we earn. Throughout the years we are told to appreciate grace as God’s most important blessing to humanity. And most of the time we humbly acknowledge this.

But we have moments of doubt. There are things Jesus said which make us wonder about grace. One example is a story Jesus told about workers in a vineyard. On a certain day, some men worked 12 hours, some worked 10, some worked 6 and some only put in an hour’s worth of labor, yet all of them received the same pay! The story Jesus told wasn’t about pay scales, it was about grace. He was teaching people that it doesn’t matter how long a person is a Christian or how much work he/she has done in the service of Christ, in the end, those who have received grace go to the same place – heaven.

We all like the story of the thief on the cross converting in the last moments of his life and hearing Jesus’ words, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” But it also leaves us a little uncomfortable, like the story of the workers in the vineyard. We don’t like to admit it, but some of us might feel a little resentful about “being good” all our lives and then getting the same reward as some folks who had all the fun and then suddenly had a “God experience” at the end and snuck their way into heaven. That just doesn’t seem fair! Or, maybe we don’t really understand grace as well as we think.

Join us for worship Saturday or Sunday. You might find grace is much more than you ever imagined.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, October 31, 2014

God’s Armies of One

What can one person do to make a difference in the world? Consider the following people:

Martin Luther

Noah built a football sized boat with the help of only his family and preserved the human race. Abraham left all his worldly possessions and extended family and went solo to a land his descendants would someday inhabit. That people altered the course of history. Paul singlehandedly planted Christian churches throughout much of the Roman empire in a period of about 30 years. The result is today there are some 2 billion Christians throughout the world. Martin Luther, by himself, took on the most powerful institution of his time, the Catholic Church, and confronted it with a reformation which has lasted to this day.

What can one person do? When that individual is part of God’s army – he can change the world.

You may not be a student of history, but if you believe that God is all powerful and uses that power in personally working through human beings, then Martin Luther and the Reformation have to matter to you. Luther’s life and legacy are a testimony of what God can do through a single human being. No earthly pleasure will reward you for wasting the present God has given you to make a difference in the forever of people. Have you ever looked at life that way? Luther did. You can too.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, October 17, 2014

What Might Have Been

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

She came with a new, pink blanket in her hands. She should have been carrying something else. But, she wasn’t. They should have been heading home to family in the Midwest. But they weren’t. Instead, they were standing with two strangers in a cold and windswept cemetery.

They had come to bury their baby. She could not bear the thought of her little one lying in the cold ground—thus the blanket. Their minds were plagued by thoughts of what might have been.

He had returned safely from Vietnam and been discharged from the Marines two weeks earlier. He stayed on in North Carolina because his wife was in the hospital with a difficult pregnancy. They had plans for a baby shower when they returned to family and friends. They had planned what color to paint the baby’s room. They had planned for the joy of parenthood. They had not planned for the word “stillborn” to be echoing in their minds.

It seemed cruel. Both parents had been baptized as infants. They had gone to Sunday School and church. They had been confirmed. They had lived the Christian life while teenagers. So why was God so heartless?

He wasn’t. But his plans for them were different from what they were expecting. As they stared at the small grave on that December day, they may have felt that their plans were better than God’s plans. God’s plans hurt.

But human eyes are not able to see the future. Human minds cannot see how all the pieces of life’s puzzle might fit together. Human hearts cannot love to the depth of God’s surprising grace.

So, it is a good thing that God has plans for each of those he calls his own. Good thing that he can absolutely carry his plans out. Good thing that his plans are to prosper us in ways that cannot imagine—plans that will give hope and a future.

Good thing there is God!

Perhaps this grieving couple became the parents of other children. Maybe one of them grew up to be a Marine. Maybe one of them became a pastor. Who knows? God knows, and he already knew as he watched that pink blanket tenderly placed over that tiny casket.

With sorrow we may sometimes wonder why things don’t work out the way we had planned. With faith, we can be assured that all things will work together for our good.

What might have been is not as important as, according to God’s plans, what will be.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
If you would like to receive Pastor Ziemer’s weekly devotions, please visit

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, October 10, 2014

Love that Changes the World Isn’t Always Easy

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy

Nothing you can make that can't be made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It's easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

"All You Need Is Love" (John Lennon and Paul McCartney)

John Lennon and Paul McCartney had a way with music and words. When they joined the two all the pieces of the puzzle of life seemed to come together. A quick glance at the lyrics of the song “All You Need Is Love” without the melodious voices of the Beatles in the background, however, focuses our attention on the meaning of the words. As we soak in the message we suddenly realize that there isn’t much of a message at all. Of course someone might say, “It’s all about love.” But therein lies the problem. What exactly is the love which the Beatles are describing?

No matter how one defines human love, it is rarely easy, it is never “all you need” and often it appears to be ineffective.

In one of the most famous love passages in the Bible, the Apostle John describes love far more specifically and effectively than the Beatles. Love that actually does something, love that can change peoples’ lives is love that originates from the source of all love – God. In the person of Jesus Christ we have a living definition of love which we not only can understand in practical terms but are able to experience personally and then reflect in the way we live on a daily basis.

Love is far more than a cliché or concept. Love is a Person, the Person who changed everything.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, October 3, 2014

When There Is No Place for Gray

We’re told over and over that life is so complicated, that no one can know for sure what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. We live in what people would call a “gray world” in which things are neither black or white. They say we can have no certainty about anything.

At times it is very convenient to live in a gray world. We can rationalize just about any behavior even though we know deep down it is wrong. We just tell ourselves, “For me, it’s okay to do that kind of thing because it makes me happy.”

Some wonder why even today certain people have such a violent reaction to the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. They ask “He talked about love and helping one another. Who could possibly react negatively to those ideas?”

The answer to that question is, “Those who understand how strongly and specifically Jesus insisted on those characteristics.” He didn’t just say, “Be nice when it fits your schedule.” He said, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

When people said, “Your teaching is too hard!” Jesus replied, “Is it worth it to go easy on yourself and lose your soul in eternity?” He didn’t back down. He didn’t make his teaching gray just to accommodate people. He came to bring certainty and in doing so he drew a line in the sand for all people. He claimed to be the Son of God, the Savior all people need. He demanded a life of total commitment by those who follow him. He left no doubt about truth and error, right and wrong.

The Apostle John, in describing the lifestyle of a follower of Jesus, said the way we live demonstrates which side of the line we are on which Jesus drew in the sand of humanity. He challenges us to go beyond the gray of moral compromise and strive to live in the black and white truth of himself.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don’t Make It More Complicated Than It Is

There are times when we make things more complicated than they need be. The reasons for doing this are varied, but the result is the same – we end up frustrating ourselves and confusing others. Unfortunately, Christians can have the tendency to make our relationship with God more complicated than it needs to be with the predictable results. We often feel like we aren’t getting much out of our faith life and people who ask us about what it means to be a Christian walk away wondering what we actually do believe.

The Apostle John wrote a letter many years ago as a resource guide to anyone who wanted a short Christianity 101 class. This Sunday we’re going to be looking at a small portion of that letter, but what we’ll find is a simple yet powerful explanation of how Christians live, what they believe and what they avoid. John’s presentation is accessible to a young child yet deep enough to keep a scholar pondering his thoughts. Most important, this apostle unleashes the life changing message of Jesus Christ in a way that removes possible misunderstandings.

If you want Christianity plain and simple, join us for one of our weekend worship services!

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, September 12, 2014

Speaking to Be Understood

Trying to understand exactly what some politicians mean to say can be a frustrating exercise. Their vocabulary, style and presentation are superb but one can walk away wondering, “What did he mean to say?”

Such was not the case with a man named John. Late in his life he wrote a letter to Christians scattered throughout modern day Turkey. Since John was the last of the original 12 apostles to remain alive, he wanted to make sure there was no doubt in anyone’s mind about who Jesus Christ is and what he did when he was on this earth.

The vocabulary and grammar of the letter have been called basic. The message, however, is at the same time, radically controversial and life changing. John spells it out for people. God has come to this earth in the person of Jesus Christ. People saw him. Talked with him. Ate with him. He was as real as real can get.

But there is more. John tells us Jesus didn’t come just to show us God is real – he came to rescue us. The problem we needed to be rescued from is what we commonly call evil or sin. John is to the point: God is holy, we’re not. Since God is not going to change, God came to change us and he offers just that when we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord.

The change Jesus Christ brings to our lives not only affects our standing before God, it changes our behavior towards other people. We start to become more and more like Christ in the way we talk and act and think.

The controversy is in John’s conclusion. He said, if you want to know God, you have to know Jesus. If a person doesn’t want Jesus, he can’t get God. To our modern ears that proposition has the sound of intolerance and elitism. To John and the readers of his day it had the ring of truth. And it was truth that John was after because in the end, it is the truth about God that is all that matters.

Join us for one of our weekend services as we begin a six week study of 1 John – a short letter that has changed lives for thousands of years!

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sunday Worship at the Beach

Finally, the long awaited Sunday Worship at the Beach has arrived. Join us for an inspirational time of Bible readings, hymns and prayer. Afterward we’ll join together for a potluck lunch. Hot dogs, hamburgers, bratwurst and drinks will be supplied. Please bring a dish to pass. After lunch, feel free to spend the afternoon at our own family friendly, private beach or playing lawn games (volleyball, horseshoes, croquet, etc.). If you have a favorite game to share, please bring it along.

We’ll begin our worship service at 10:00 am. The location of the service is Pililaau Army Recreation Center. Click here for a map and here for more info on Pililaau.

For those who can’t make the Sunday worship service at the beach, we will be holding our weekly Saturday evening service at church beginning at 6:00 pm

Saturday evening worship at church: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship at the beach: 10:00 am

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Growing Crisis of the Passionless Life

In an effort to comprehend the reason for increasing numbers of American young men traveling to the Mideast for the purpose of becoming part of a Muslim jihad, pundits have begun talking about the boredom of the American people. For so long the primary goal in the lives of many Americans has been a pursuit of peace and affluence. But young people are beginning to ask, “Isn’t there more to life?” They are looking for a cause, something bigger than themselves to fight for, and yes, even die for. What a tragedy that some are finding their reason for being in such a twisted idealogy as terrorism!

The fact that young people are attracted to violence as a way to make sense out of their lives should be a wake-up call for every church in America. We have failed to present not only the urgency but the exciting purpose representing Christ gives to those who follow him. In contrast to Islam, Christianity, in its infancy, turned the world upside down not through military conquest but by standing firm in the midst of persecution and reaching out with acts of love and kindness to those discarded by the rest of society.

It is time for Christians to regain the urgency of the early church, not because we are afraid of the advance of radical Islam, but to demonstrate our gratitude to Jesus Christ. He did not save us by taking an easy path filled with affluence and physical comfort – he took the way of the cross because it was the only way to save us. People may be bored with life, but Christians have no right to feel that way. Time is short. We have so much to do. And what we have to do matters for eternity. Join us for one of our weekend services. Start getting passionate about life again.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Is Church Really Necessary?

The words, “Get dressed, we’re going to church in 10 minutes,” generates a much different reaction than the way we respond to, “Get dressed, we’re going to the beach in 10 minutes”. Even for people who attend church regularly, it is often seen more as a necessary obligation than an enjoyable experience.

There may be many different reasons for a less than positive attitude towards church, but one can’t read much in the New Testament before it becomes very apparent that the church is very important to Jesus Christ. Before we answer the question, “Is the church really necessary,” we need to first answer questions such as, “What is the church? What is its purpose? What is my role in the church?”

It may be our experience with church has not been better because we haven’t understood what Christ intended when he founded it. Join us for one of our weekend services as explore what church means to God, ourselves and others. It could be the beginning of a very positive change in thinking!

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, August 15, 2014

Laughing on the Outside While Crying on the Inside

The suicide of actor Robin Williams caught the world by surprise. Most of us imagined his daily life as passing from one hilarious situation to the next. The last word anyone would use to describe him would be “depressed”. And yet, it was depression which led this man, so loved by the public for making us laugh, to take his own life. While pundits will speculate on the reasons and causes for his depression, Christians need to take to heart the powerful lesson of Williams’ untimely death – we all need answers to our deepest questions.

Life can be fun and exciting. It can seem like we have no time to wonder about, “Why am I here on earth? What is the point of my life? What happens when I die?” However, if we don’t wrestle through those questions and find solid, trustworthy answers, we also may find ourselves mired in the same swamp of depression which overwhelmed Robin Williams.

For the last several weeks we have been studying the answers the Bible gives for the important issues of life. This weekend we’ll address the question, “Is the Bible the Word of God, is it true?” Depression is no respecter of persons. Some day you will be confronted by the creeping sensation that your life has no meaning, happiness or hope. Start getting ready for that day by getting to know the book that has the ammunition to destroy depression.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, August 8, 2014

Free to Be the Real You

We Americans so value our individuality that we intensely resent anyone even suggesting that we should in some way change our behavior. We want to be free to be ourselves without having to conform to someone else’s idea of the kind of person we ought to be. However, to our great dismay, we have found that in our rush to live life on our terms, many have fallen headlong into a slavery to their desires. People have discovered that “living free” has led them to develop a lifestyle which has not brought the happiness they expected but instead ongoing misery. They know their behavior is causing their problems but they can’t get themselves to stop. They have become slaves to themselves.

Jesus Christ once said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Part of the teaching of Jesus Christ is called the Ten Commandments. Tragically, these commandments do not have a very good reputation today. They are seen as intrusive, burdensome and robbing life of its happiness. The reality is, nothing could be further from the truth. The Ten Commandments, when understood in the light of Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins equip human beings to experience life as God intended. We become truly free to live out what is best for us rather than slavishly give in to manipulative desires which end up coming back to haunt us.

Join us for one of our weekend services. Be free to be the real you – the you Jesus Christ saved you to be!

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, August 1, 2014

What Does Being a Christian Have to Do with My Daily Life?

Too often there is a disconnect between what God has done for us and what we do for God. We prefer a one way relationship with him giving us what we want so that we can live each day on our terms. The last thing we want is to be told how we are to live.

But God wants a two way relationship with us. He tells us how he has loved us and he also shows us how we can love him in return. In a short letter to a Christian congregation, the Apostle John wrote, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”

During the first several weeks of our series “The Questions We Ask” we’ve been studying who God is and what he has done to offer us a place in his family. Now it’s time to learn about his will for our lives – how he wants us to live in response to his love.

When people hear the word “commandment” their first impression is negative. We think, “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do.” But the 10 Commandments are not part of a vicious plan to deprive human beings of everything that is fun. Remember who is giving us those commandments, the same One who did not withhold his Son from going to the cross in our place. Is God going to unnecessarily punish us after investing so much of himself just so that we might spend eternity with him?

Join us the next two Sundays as we answer the question, “What does being a Christian have to do with my daily life?” You might just find it’s a whole lot better than you ever imagined.

Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Stuff of Life

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

Stuff your rucksack with just any old thing before you set off, and you will run into trouble. The same is true with life.

Like with a rucksack, there is just so much space in our life. There are only so many hours in a day, and only a certain amount of opportunity and energy available to us. How we will use them is determined by our intention.

If we intend to head off on a fishing trip, there are certain items we will want with us. If we are going on a vacation with our family to the mountains, we will select other items. Deployment will require a different selection of items.

If our mission in life is to make as much money as possible, we will make sure that our life contains a large amount of what is needed to make that happen. If we decide that we want to simply have as much fun as possible, we will put a lot of fun-enabling things into our life.

A Christian has a different focus, a different mission in life. There is an array of responsibilities the average Christian must tend to. Multitasking is a part of life. But, there is always a primary task. Something is always more important than anything else in life. For the Christian, serving the Savior is Job #1.

Sad is the person who believes that he is equipped for a task, only to discover he is not.
In WWII some American troops had prepared to deploy to the South Pacific, only to be sent to Germany during one of the coldest Decembers on record. They went into the Battle of the Bulge with summer clothing. They paid the price.

Service to the Savior requires having the right equipment—and knowing how to use it. The person who thinks that this assignment will be a cakewalk or a side job will discover that he is not prepared for the successful outcome to his mission. In fact, he will be in grave danger. He may lose his life—his eternal life.

The apostle Paul reminds us: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Then he names some things that should be part of our life, and adds: “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith…Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:12,16,17)

Paul’s life was all about Christ. But, human life is short. What would he have when his breath failed him, and he became one of the fallen? He knew the answer.

He writes, “And to die is gain.”

It makes us give thought to what stuff is packed into our own lives. It makes us wonder if there is any room left for what is absolutely vital to eternal success and survival. Just how much space did we leave for Christ and his Word, and his work?

And, shouldn’t we get rid of some of the other stuff?

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What Is God Like?

Ask a dozen people the question, “What is God like,” and you will probably get a dozen different answers. Ironically, peoples’ concept of God is often very similar to the way they see themselves. We human beings have the tendency to dumb God down so that he fits into our way of thinking.

This weekend we are going to look at what the Bible says about God. In a sense, we’re going to let God speak for himself in regard to what he is like. What we’ll find can be scary, frustrating and comforting all at the same time. One thing for certain, no human being can put God into the box of human understanding.

Someone once said, “Let God be God.” When we look at the cross of Christ and see how committed God is to us, that sounds like a pretty good idea!

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Saturday, July 12, 2014

If God Is Love, Why Do So Many Bad Things Happen?


Pain – it hurts just to look at the word. If you are suffering at this moment you know that it doesn’t matter whether the pain is physical, emotional, or psychological, you want relief and you want it now.

If you happen to be in a pain free time of your life, you know that it is temporary. Sooner or later, pain will come knocking at your door.

Not only is pain personal, we look around us and see so much hurt. And we wonder why? Why doesn’t God, who loves us so much, do more to ease the massive and ever present pain in our world?

The question, “If God is love, why do so many bad things happen,” is one every human being asks at some time or other. It comes from a desire to make sense out of something which appears so senseless. And, it can be a question which is an expression of our frustration. But above all, it is a question for which we need a biblical answer. We invite you to one of our services this weekend to study with us God’s reply to our question, “Why do you let so many bad things happen?”

This Sunday we will also celebrate with Kenneth and Timothy Thiessen as they confess their faith before our congregation at the Sunday morning service and are confirmed as communing members.

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Questions We Ask

“Why am I here on earth?”
“If God is loving, why do so many bad things happen?”
“Is Jesus the only way to heaven?
“Is the Bible the Word of God?”
“Does a person have to go to church to be a Christian?”

Questions, we all have lots of them. And it is very important for us to get satisfying answers. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes questions linger, or we’re half-convinced of the answers we have. Also, if we’re honest, we often don’t put out all that much effort in finding good answers to life’s tough questions. So we live with doubts, uncertainties. When things are going well, those doubts and uncertainties don’t bother us too much. We’re just so busy working and having fun.

But then a bump, a big bump comes along on the road of life and our busy, fun lives get turned upside down. Suddenly, it matters – it matters a whole lot that we have solid, tested answers to our questions.

Join us this weekend as we begin with the most basic of all questions:
“Why am I here on earth?”

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Christian Response to a Changing America

“My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
President John F. Kennedy
July 20th, 1961

The reality of the last 50 years has been the exact opposite of what President Kennedy encouraged and the results have not been positive. What are Christians to do? While we can complain and criticize, we know that is not what Christ saved us to do. The only reason we are still on this earth is because he has work for us. And part of that work is to be a Christian influence in the country where we live.

On Friday of this coming week we will celebrate Independence Day. While it is a holiday to enjoy, as Christian Americans we have the responsibility to seriously reflect on our role in reversing the moral free for all which has taken hold of so many in our country today. Jesus Christ said that his followers are to be salt and light, not preachers of doom and gloom.

Our society knows something is wrong. And that may be the reason for such exaggerated and destructive behavior. Who else can better provide answers to the questions people are asking? Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Rather than complaining about what’s wrong with our country, let’s celebrate what is right – the religious freedom to share Jesus Christ. That is the Christian response to a changing America and it is far and away the best response.

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, June 20, 2014

Will There Be Superstars in Heaven?

What do you think? Will there be a Faith Hall of Fame in which the acts of certain high profile believers will be on display for the common Christian to look at for all eternity? Will there be an exhibit for Peter, Paul, Martin Luther?

The whole concept of a spiritual superstar sounds kind of silly if we understand the basic teaching of Christianity – which is grace. No one, not even the big names like Moses or Daniel or John deserve to be in heaven. If an individual is in heaven, they are there solely because of the gift of forgiveness which they have received from Jesus Christ. So no, there won’t be any superstars in heaven. All the focus will be on the One who deserves it – Jesus.

It’s good to remind ourselves that God doesn’t need superstars. We live in a culture that is addicted to fame. We look for heroes to save us politically and keep us entertained in our relaxing hours. We even spend our hard earned money on things we don’t need just because famous people tell us we have to buy them. Our hero worship can even creep into our spiritual lives. We think God is only concerned about people who can do “big” things for Him. We get down that our lives don’t seem to have much of an influence on others. We wonder if what we do even matters.

God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t need superstars nor is he looking for them. God is looking for one thing from believers – a heart open to his leading. It’s not about talent. It’s not about looks. It’s not about money. It is all about a heart that says, “Lord, you have given me your all. Take my all in humble thanks.” That’s who God is looking for. Are you ready to let God do “big” things through you?

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, June 13, 2014

That Pesky Real Man Thing

What exactly is a real man? Most guys want to be a real man but because there are so many conflicting answers to this question, many are frustrated. To make matters worse, it seems all the men-related ads on TV seem to constantly needle us with doubts about our manliness.

“Do real men eat gobs of grilled meats?”
“Do real men drink beer out of cans?”
“Do real men hunt and fish?”
“Do real men lift heavy barbells?”
“Do real men wear Real Man cologne?”
“Do real men go to the opera?”
“Do real men cry?”

There was a guy who lived about 4000 years ago that God definitely considered a real man. His name was Abraham. We don’t know if he was macho or cultured. We aren’t sure if he was the strong silent type or cried at sad movies. But we do know that he was a man the way God designed men to be.

Most of Abraham’s life was pretty chaotic. But there was a time when God brought all the pieces together for him and Abraham enjoyed some very good times. Suddenly, though, God challenged him in a way that brought everything Abraham was enjoying into question. God told Abraham to give up the one thing in life that he treasured most – his son Isaac. What does a man do in that kind of situation?

Abraham did what real men do. If you don’t know the end of the story, join us this weekend for one of our services and find out. You might discover that what Abraham learned will help you with that pesky real man thing.

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

Friday, June 6, 2014

When Waiting Is Worth It

Nobody likes to wait. It seems like such a waste of time. But we’ve also all had experiences when waiting was absolutely necessary. Today we commemorate D-Day, the invasion of Normandy, France which marked the beginning of the end of World War II. The plan was for troops to hit the beaches on June 5th. Because of weather conditions General Eisenhower postponed the attack for one day. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers spent that day doing only one thing – waiting. But that one day wait made the difference between victory and defeat.

This weekend we’re going to see what God did in the life of Abraham through a twenty-five year wait. It wasn’t an easy time for him – those twenty-five years. Abraham had moments of doubt, times of despair, but he trusted God and continued to wait.

It has been said that God’s timing is impeccable. It’s always right on the mark. But when he has us in the “wait” mode, it’s hard for us to swallow that truth. When things aren’t going right we want to do something; we want to fix the problem. We feel useless and helpless just waiting for him to act. But then, just at the right moment, he acts in a way far more powerful and effective than we could have ever imagined.

Waiting God’s way is worth it!

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Basics of Faith

Typically, people who profess to believe in God have been called “people of faith”. The reason for that is since they can’t prove God exists by scientific means, they have to take their belief in him on faith. On the other hand, people who deny the existence of God are often called “people of fact”. They don’t believe anything unless it can be proven scientifically.

The truth is, no matter how skeptical an individual may be, no one can be a 100% “person of fact”. No one can prove through experiments what our reason for existing is or what makes people happy. Nor can anyone say they know beyond a shadow of a doubt what will happen when they die. In regard to those areas of life (and many more), everybody lives…by faith. The crucial question is, faith in what?

Christians have a very specific faith based on convincing evidences of God working in this world. This Sunday we’re going to begin a sermon series on the life of Abraham, a major figure in the Old Testament. He is a man whose life still impacts Christians today. He was, without question, a man of faith. His life is a textbook on the basics of faith.

What we believe will determine the course of our lives. Let’s go back to the basics. We may just find there’s a whole lot more to faith than we imagined.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, May 23, 2014


Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.
(Deuteronomy 32:7)

“Lest we forget! Lest we forget!” With these words a famous poet of a generation past prayed that Britain would ever remember the source of its strength and the reason for its greatness. That same prayer is needed in America of today.

We observe Memorial Day, not by celebrating the many victories our Armed Forces have gained over the years, but by remembering our losses—especially the loss of lives. It is a sobering holiday.

This year, the thoughts of many quickly fly to the deserts and mountains of the Middle East. Older memories click back to pictures of rice paddies in Vietnam. A few others still recall a Sunday morning in Pearl Harbor. Such recollections often contain scenes of flag-draped caskets. For those, it is a painful holiday.

But, Memorial Day is not just for Veterans, or for households that hung a gold star in their window. It is a day to pass the memories down to the next generation—a generation pre-occupied with video games and cell phones, a generation that gives little thought to the past. Young people can easily assume that the blessings of freedom they enjoy are theirs by right. They did not pay the price, so they do not treasure the gift they have inherited.

Those who have survived the ravage of war and live with the bitter taste still in their mouth, they are the ones who know how easily life and victory can be lost. They point to the many grave markers, and to the names on a Wall, and say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I!”

Sometimes guilt accompanies that thought. “Why was my life spared, when so many others lost theirs?” But the Christian warrior remembers that his life is in his Lord’s hands. It was not luck or skill that saved him. It was not weapons or strategy that saved his nation. It was, and always will be, the grace of God. The One who died that he might live forever had still more for this warrior to do before he would be called home.

Memorial Day shows signs of pomp and glory. Troops in review and marching bands stir emotions of confidence, even superiority. But, the impact of the three-shot volley; the final salute; and the playing of Taps overtake those emotions. Many walk away from a Memorial Day ceremony in silence. Some are learning. Most are remembering.

This is a time for Americans to consider generations long past. It is a time to ask fathers and elders to tell their stories, and explain our history. Some of those stories are told with hesitant voices, from trembling throats. Some are told only with words chiseled in stone.

They need to speak, and we need to listen. When this is done, the guidance and blessings of the Lord God will become more apparent. History shouts out to America: “God shed his grace on thee!”

We need to hear that again, and again. We need to be remembering.

Saturday evening worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Attic

Looking through the attic where we’ve stored possessions long forgotten can be a bittersweet experience. While we relive many memories, at the same time we can become depressed with the reality that what we once considered so important, has no practical meaning. We think about the time and effort we spent to acquire what now rests in boxes tucked into dark corners and we wonder what we will do with it all. We’ll never use those things again and they are of no value to anyone else. One side of us cringes at that thought of parting with it all. But deep down we know that if we don’t do anything, someone will someday have to make numerous trips to the city refuse center – all the while muttering, “Why didn’t he take care of all this junk before he died?” Stuff doesn’t last. It is always ends up being disposed of in some form or the other.

What about human life? Is it any different? Or do we each pass through the various phases of life and end up being disposed of just like a car or old television, only in a somewhat more dignified way?

Forty days after his resurrection Jesus Christ inaugurated a new phase in God’s dealing with the human race. After being physically present in human history for thirty plus years, Christ removed his visible presence from people. But before he left, he gave his followers a mission. That mission meant human life would never need to be dispensable or disposable. It is a mission about forever.

It may be that at this moment you are so busy you would like to have the time to catch a breath from all your activities to even think about eternity. But there will come a time when everything you are doing today will very probably be irrelevant. Apart from Jesus Christ, nothing lasts forever. It can be stored in some attic storage place for a while, but it will inevitably end up like everything else. It can’t last. But you will last – forever. Have you thought about that? Have you thought about how it will affect the way you live?

Join us for one of our services this weekend and begin living a life that lasts!

Saturday evening: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning: 10:00 am

Friday, May 9, 2014

The “Aha!” Moment

The frustration of not understanding a concept or idea another person wants to share can be overwhelming. Their explanations are clear and straightforward, yet something just doesn’t clique in our minds and we remain in the dark. Then suddenly there is the “Aha!” moment. We get what they were trying to say. It all makes sense. There is a feeling of relief and satisfaction. We get it!

Jesus had spent three years trying to explain to his disciples the mission and purpose of his ministry. The day before his crucifixion, they still didn’t get it. On Easter Sunday, Peter and John went to the empty tomb. When they saw the grave clothes in which the body of Jesus had been wrapped laying on the stone slab they knew something fantastic had taken place, but John himself admits, they still didn’t understand the significance of what was happening.

During the forty day period after his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples several times in various geographical locations. Each occasion was a teaching moment for the Lord to help his followers realize why everything had to happen the way it did. Finally it clicked. The disciples got it. The crucifixion was about divine payment for sin. The resurrection confirmed that payment made by Christ was accepted in full by God the Father. They knew what these truths meant to them personally, and they grasped the importance of sharing those truths with other people.

This Sunday we’re going to study the “Aha!” moment of Jesus’ disciples. But there is so much more in this account than a history lesson. In reality, it is an opportunity to experience our own “Aha!” moment – to understand not only who Jesus is and what he did for us, but also what that means practically in our daily lives.

Join us this Sunday at 10:00 am. You might just find yourself saying, “Aha!”

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Indispensable Christian Woman

“Everything you can do I can do better!”

That saying sums up the way people view each other. We see others as competition and somehow, someway we try to find something in them about which we can feel superior. This kind of thinking has caused a blurring of lines between the sexes.

God created human beings male and female to complement one another. The result of sin has caused a self-centeredness in both sexes that has morphed complementation into competition. The results of that kind of thinking has had earth shaking consequences on not only the family, but society in general. Why? When people compete there are winners and losers and unfortunately winning and losing usually generates hostile relationships.

Men and women are different physically, mentally and emotionally. Neither one is “better” than the other. We are just different. For thousands of years people accepted these differences as both obvious and good. There was an understanding that men are better at doing some things than women and women were better at doing many things than men. In the last 50 years or so, however, there has been a tremendous amount of effort given to eliminate this recognition of the differences between the sexes and create a unisex society.

While a few powerful people in the entertainment and news industry have poured billions of dollars into trying to convince men and women that there are no differences in the way we are hard wired, the realities of those differences are still as obvious as they were centuries ago. An important part of our Mother’s Day worship this year is to celebrate the differences God made in his creation of men and women and to encourage ladies to boldly and enthusiastically live as Christian women. Ladies, the world needs what only you can give it. Christian woman are indispensable.

Saturday worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday worship: 10:00 am

Friday, April 25, 2014

After the Fall

It happened. We don’t know how. We are left speechless at the very thought of our being capable of such a thing, much less actually doing it. We’re shocked to the very core of our faith. “What happened? All these years I’ve believed and now this? Did I ever believe? Was it all a cover up, a facade for the real me?”

Peter must have had similar thoughts run through his mind after he denied Jesus three times the night Christ was arrested. Peter was the one disciple who claimed that no matter what happened, he would be at Jesus’ side – faithful to the end. But then there was the resurrection. Everything changed. Still, Peter wondered, “What about me? What will Jesus do with me?”

This Sunday we are going to study what Jesus did with Peter. It’s a heartwarming account of forgiveness and healing. But there is also pain and responsibility involved. And as he usually did, Peter complicated the situation just by being – well – Peter! Above all, we can take heart from Peter’s story that there is hope for us after the fall into some type of serious sin.

Hope – that is what the resurrection of Jesus Christ is all about. There is hope, always hope, no matter what. And that really does change everything.

Saturday worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday worship: 10:00 am

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter IS the Best Day of the Year

Probably you don’t have time to read this. Maybe it’s the kids who need to go to some activity or you have an appointment or maybe you are just dog tired from an exhausting day and the best thing you can do is relax. You’ve got a lot on your plate – too much at times.

But is Easter the best day of the year? Isn’t Christmas better? Well, consider all the stuff that is stressing you out. If Jesus did physically rise from the dead, how important is it all? Now I’m not trying to minimize your issues, but think about it.

What are all the bills you have to pay going to mean the day Jesus raises you to eternal life with him? How important, as you enter heaven, will it be that the kids got to all their soccer practices? Your job with all the responsibilities you have, will it still be stressing you out as Jesus says, “Welcome home!” Even the real tough stuff like cancer is no match for Easter. Jesus rising from the dead overwhelms any disease because he says that his resurrection guarantees us that in heaven there will be no more pain or disease. And the hole in your heart that’s there because the one you so dearly love is no longer with you, Easter Sunday means the separation is only temporary, very temporary.

Easter is the best day of the year because it changes everything. It turns human life on its ear. Human beings go from meaningless chemical containers who lead empty, unimportant lives to people made to love and be loved for eternity, whose every day has eternal significance no matter how insignificant it may seem. May you experience all the best of the best day of the year!

Saturday worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday worship: 10:00 am

Friday, April 11, 2014

Who Is Your King?

Palm Sunday, which we will celebrate this weekend, is the powerful beginning to the most significant week in the history of the world. While we often wonder how people could shout their praises to Jesus on Sunday and then demand his crucifixion on Friday, the more important question of Palm Sunday is what Jesus was declaring by his spectacular entrance into Jerusalem that day.

In no uncertain terms he was declaring himself to be the long awaited Messiah or Savior King whom the Jewish people had been looking forward to for centuries. This is no small claim. Nor is it restricted to only the Jewish people of the first century. Palm Sunday is a healthy opportunity for us to be confronted with the question, “Who is my king?” It is so easy in our fast paced lives to just assume Jesus is our Lord, while in reality, almost every waking moment is devoted to anything or anyone BUT him.

We may feel uncomfortable by honestly answering the question, “Who really calls the shots in my life?” But for as difficult as it is, it is the best spiritual exercise we can do to prepare for eternity. We need to remember Jesus’ words often, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” For as interesting and exciting as life may seem, nothing even begins to compare with what Jesus offers us both now and in heaven. Don’t let the distractions of life keep him from being your King – today and forever.

Saturday worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday worship: 10:00 am

Friday, April 4, 2014

Justice in the Making

From a legal standpoint, the trial of Jesus before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate was a judicial travesty. The decision Pilate handed down was not based on convincing evidence provided by reliable witnesses. Rather, the verdict was clearly forced by politics. The Governor was afraid the Jewish leaders would incite civil disobedience demanding Roman military intervention and that surely would mean the end of his career. There was nothing just about the entire process. Such an interpretation of the events of that Friday morning would be superficial, however.

When we view Christ’s trial before Pilate through the lens of the Gospels and the Apostle Paul’s letters we see that what happened in the Roman legal system was just the backdrop for something infinitely more important. Pilate, the Jewish leaders, the people in the crowd shouting, “Crucify, crucify,” were only bit players in a side show. The action which mattered was taking place in the spiritual world.

Justice was in the making. Since Adam and Eve first chose to go their own way in life without God, there was the plan for Jesus Christ to right that first wrong and all subsequent wrongs. The trial before Pilate, was in a sense, a tragic representation of what had been going on in the world since the first sin: human beings thinking they were in control of their destiny. While Pilate thought he was making the final decision concerning the fate of Jesus, and the Jewish leaders reveled in their belief that they were finally rid of the man who was such a threat to their power, it was God the Father who was using human spite to bring about the justice making death of his Son.

The cross is where God’s justice was accomplished, once and for all, and then welded to his perfect love for mankind. The trial was only the means the Father used to get Jesus to the cross.

Join us for one of our weekend worship services as we contemplate the massive truth of God turning human arrogance and defiance into an eternity changing event.

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

Friday, March 28, 2014

Is Prayer About Getting What We Want?

“No, I’m not a Christian. Not anymore,” said the twenty something man. “What’s the point? I asked God for help so many times and I never got what I asked for. Not once! So why should I believe in him?”

The outrage of the young man is not uncommon today. Somehow quite a few people have been led to believe that if they declare their allegiance to Jesus, he will answer all their prayers the way they want. When that does not happen (primarily because Jesus never said it would), they become disillusioned and walk out on Christ.

This weekend we’re going to journey with Christ to the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane. There we will hear him pray – pray with an intensity the world has never seen nor will ever witness again. And yet, the One who of all people, deserved to receive what he asked for, humbly ends his request to his Father with the words, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

For Jesus Christ, prayer was about doing what he came to do. Yes, he was afraid. He had doubts about his impending encounter with sin, death and Satan. But when all was said and done, Jesus was about accomplishing his mission.

Is prayer different for us? Did Jesus save us to spoil us or for us to serve him? The Bible is pretty clear about that. Maybe it’s our attitude about prayer we need to change. And that change can only come at the foot of the cross where we appreciate our absolute necessity of Christ fulfilling his mission.

If your prayer life has become stale because you really aren’t sure it works, maybe some time with Jesus in Gethsemane will bring about a prayer revolution that might change your life beyond anything you imagined.

At least consider the words of this prayer written many years ago.

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but eveything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

Join us for one of our weekend worship services:
Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

Friday, March 21, 2014

By Design

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” (John 12:7)

Our life is a puzzle. We can see the pieces that have already been put into place, but we can only guess at what the entire picture will look like when it is finished.

When we are quite young it is easy for us to think that we can see the way the pieces of our life will come together. We picture ourselves living the life we expect to have, living where we think we want to be, and expecting that we will live happily ever after.

One’s life almost never turns out the way we had imagined. Unexpected pieces suddenly fall into place. Sometimes that brings us delight. Sometimes we are dismayed.

As we grow older we begin to suspect that we have, at least, caught on to the pattern that our life will follow. We find ourselves thinking: “Well, I guess I will never be rich!”Or, “It looks like I’ll spend my life in this or that career!”But, the reality is we will never see the complete picture of our life until it is completed. Many surprises may lie down the road. That thought can be unnerving.

If our life’s picture were formed by random pieces happening to fit here and there, how helpless and often hopeless we would feel.

But, if our picture has been designed by someone who loves us, and knows exactly which pieces should become part of our life, and exactly how they should fit in, then we can relax.

The woman Jesus was referring to in John 12 was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She had just given Jesus an expensive gift—it cost an entire year’s wages of an average person. Yet, the gift wasn’t something that Jesus could keep for long. It was a pint of pure nard, a perfume that Mary had poured onto his feet, and then wiped off with her hair. The whole house was filled with the wonderful aroma, but soon it would be gone.

“What a waste!” was the impression of Judas Iscariot. “Many hungry people could have been fed if the perfume had been sold.” Maybe others would have agreed with him.

Jesus did not. Jesus knew how this piece fit into the larger picture of his life and the salvation of the world. He said, “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”

He was only a few days away from his death. No one else in the room knew that a piece of his puzzle was going to be called Golgotha. No one expected that women would gather in closing darkness to wrap his corpse with the customary burial ointments. No one could see that this would be followed with the bright light of Easter.

We don’t know how Mary bought the perfume. We don’t know how long she had been saving it. But, even though she did not realize it, this was all by God’s great design.

So it is with us. That same One is shaping our life’s picture—and the design is just as wonderful.

Join us this weekend to worship Him!

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

This devotion was written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain. If you would like to receive his weekly devotions, please click here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why Did Judas Do It?

Why, after being in the presence of perfect love, compassion and holiness for three years could Judas turn his back on Jesus? He had seen the miracles and heard the sermons. He had been privy to the fireside chats and the question and answer sessions which took place on the road. He had seen Lazarus come back from the dead! What in the world got into Judas that he betrayed Jesus? The answer is a name: Satan.

The Gospel writer Luke describes what happened tersely, “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.”

Jesus called Satan the “father of lies”. The devil lied to Adam and Eve, he lied to Judas and he continues to tell lies every day to you and me. Those lies are so dangerous because they are masterfully told. He plays with our emotions. He tickles our egos. Satan makes his lies sound so very reasonable and good. Adam and Eve thought so. So did Judas. At least at first they did. But once the truth was revealed, how crushing the guilt was! How overwhelming the consequences of their deception!

We live in a culture which looks on the existence of Satan with a condescending smile. “Spirits, evil beings,” people object, “that was for long ago. We’re way past that kind of thinking today.” What easy targets we humans make. This supernatural force for evil whose only purpose is to destroy us eternally, and we choose to believe he doesn’t even exist.

This coming weekend at our worship services we’re going to be studying Satan’s strategy with Judas. We’ve got a lot to learn from this sad story. The advice, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed” finds its ultimate application when applied to Satan’s tempting tactics of Judas.

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

Friday, March 7, 2014

How Do You Define the “Good Life”?

Whatever you may think of what makes up the “good life”, if you are like most people, you’re probably not thinking about Jesus. We’ve been brought up in a culture in which the “good life” means having everything we want and more. It’s about getting things our way and having the material possessions we desire. It’s kicking back on the beach of an exclusive resort without a care in the world.

There is a verse tucked away in the middle of the Gospel of John which challenges us to think about the “good life” on different terms. In that particular passage Jesus says,

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

It sure sounds like Jesus is talking about the “good life” there. But if you know anything about what Jesus said and did, you know he wasn’t much into kicking back at exclusive resorts. He was more about doing the kind of things nobody else could or would do. The kind of things that need to be done. So how does Jesus and the “good life” fit together? Maybe it’s all in the definition of that little word “good”. Maybe what we think is “good” really isn’t all that good for us after all. Maybe what Jesus calls “good” is better for us in the long run.

Join us for one of our weekend services. We’re going to be looking at some of Jesus’ most challenging and controversial statements. Who knows, you might find what he has to say is just what you have been needing to hear.

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

Friday, February 28, 2014

What It Means To Be a Follower of Jesus

Recent polls show that at least 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. However, of those Christians, 18% have not prayed to God in the last year, 57% haven’t read the Bible in the last week and 33% haven’t been to a Christian church in the last year. From those statistics, it seems that there is a broad range of interpretation in regard to how being a Christian influences one’s daily life.

This Sunday we’re going to be studying various teachings Jesus gave to those who followed him. What he says pierces any idea that being a Christian is like belonging to a club or an organization. The message of Christ is challenging, but then the one who offers the tough words demonstrates his incredible authority.

Everybody follows someone. Who do you follow? If you are not sure or are considering making a change, join us this weekend and learn what it means to follow Jesus Christ. It could be the start of something better than you ever imagined.

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Have People Made God Into a Wimp?

In the early part of the 1800s German university professors decided that the miracles credited to Jesus Christ in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were just too hard to swallow for people living in such a technologically advanced time in history. So, they conveniently erased all the supernatural acts of Jesus, leaving him to be just a misunderstood teacher.

Later in that same century Charles Darwin published his book “On the Origin of Species” in which he relieved God of his duties as Creator and Preserver of the universe.

A century passed along with two world wars which decimated the planet and in the 1960s Time magazine declared, with the encouragement of French philosophers, that God was dead.

In the early 1970s signers of the “Humanist Manifesto” boldly declared that humanity could not look to the Divine for help stating: “We are the masters of our destiny.”

God has taken a lot of hits over the last two hundred years. Surprisingly though, people haven’t given up on him completely. It may be the fear factor: Who do you turn to when no one can help except God? Or, it could be that people don’t know how to fill the vacuum if they take him out of their lives. So there still remains an overwhelming majority of people who believe God exists. The only problem is, they’ve reduced him to the category of a wimp.

Due to the influences of Darwin and the humanists, for most people, God is nothing more than a concept, or an impotent elderly gentleman wringing his hands over the sad state of affairs we human beings have gotten ourselves into. Oh, once in a while God does something impressive, but his involvement is rather erratic and inconclusive. The popular God of today is a token symbol of spirituality. The one who really holds the power is the individual human being.

This weekend at our services we’re going to look at a story of Jesus Christ’s life without the cynical glasses of the German university professors of the 1800s. In this story we don’t see a wimpy, misunderstood Jesus. No, we stand before a jaw droppingly awesome Jesus. A Jesus who speaks a word and a dead man comes back to life. Fairy tale? Hardly. The New Testament Gospels are historical documents with solid historical evidence to back up what they present. The only way to discredit the histories of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is to take the attitude: “I don’t believe miracles can happen, therefore what is written about Jesus didn’t happen.” That kind of thinking though is not based on historical investigation, that’s based on the belief God doesn’t exist therefore miracles can’t happen.

The Jesus of history, the Jesus of the Bible not only has mind-blowing power, he is also totally committed to the human race. No, Jesus is no wimp. He is the awesome God – exactly the God we need.

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, February 14, 2014

What Have You Been Eating Lately?

Everyday new information appears about the merits or hazards of certain foods. How many carbs should we consume each day? What foods produce good cholesterol, which cause bad cholesterol? We’re told, “You are what you eat.”

Eating has become a very serious business indeed!

Many years ago Jesus gave a presentation on food. As we would expect, it was very different from anything we would think of. He said, “I am the bread of life.” Now what does that mean?

It is important to understand that at the time of Jesus eating was a lot different than it is today. Sure, people put food in their mouths, chewed, swallowed and digested. But eating, then, was more urgent. Food was scarce for most people and daily meals weren’t always a certainty. Some days, a whole lot of people went without food.

Today, we have such an abundance of food, that eating is more an act of pleasure and taste than it is a necessity to stay alive.

When Jesus said he is the “Bread of Life” he meant that he is the absolute necessity of every person’s life. Just as no one at that time could imagine living without bread, Jesus is saying none of us can truly live without him.

Today, our struggle isn’t to find enough food, it’s rather eating the right foods in the proper quantities. Our taste buds seem to crave “junk foods” and detest the vegetables and fruits we know are so healthy for us. Unfortunately, we do the same in our spiritual lives. Instead of going to the One who gives us what we need, we run after things that make us feel good for a few moments, but leave us unsatisfied and discontented for the long term.

What kind of spiritual food have you been eating these days? Join us for a feast this weekend, the kind of feast only Jesus can put on!

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, February 7, 2014

What Jesus Said about Prosperity, Death and Eternity

The subjects of prosperity, death and eternity are like labyrinths – there are so many different facets of each that we wonder where we should start our investigation. But then Jesus comes along and in less than 20 short verses tells us everything we need to know about each subject. You’ll find what he says in Luke 16:19-31.

Prosperity is neither a blessing or a curse – it’s a test to see what we’ll do with it. Jesus didn’t condemn money, as some people would like to give the impression, he simply said, “Don’t let it take over your life. Use your money in a way that demonstrates you are my follower.”

Death is not the end, it’s a transition either to a better (heaven) or worse (hell) existence. What people have always naturally felt, that human beings are held accountable for their earthly lives, is confirmed by Jesus.

Where we begin eternity, there we will stay for eternity. In the story Jesus told, there was a man who had a tremendous amount of prosperity when he was on this earth but went to hell because he let his money become his god. Instead of using his material blessings to glorify God, he spent them glorifying himself. When the confused man realized what a monumental mistake he had made, he pleaded for mercy. Unfortunately, he was informed that the time for mercy was while he was in the physical world of human beings.

The story Jesus told is strong. It is a story that challenges our priorities. It is a story that confronts us with the consequences of our choices. Jesus once said that the only thing that really matters is to receive him as Lord and Savior and then live in such a way that we prepare ourselves for an eternity with him.

It is easy to shrug off Jesus’ statements as too spiritual to be practically lived out in our world. But that is exactly why he told the story in such a hard hitting way. Yes, it is difficult to live life as a preparation for eternity, but the reality is, eternity is coming and we will enter it no matter how much we may resist. The only question is, “Where will we spend eternity?” Jesus told the story so that we would not have to be in doubt.

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Friday, January 31, 2014

True Hope for the Helpless

It was a repulsive place. Nobody went there unless it was absolutely necessary. Low, painful moans hung in the air. The stench of human excrement was overwhelming. But worst of all was the helplessness.

The Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem was a place for the sick and disabled to congregate, to grasp at the only hope they had for bettering their lives, no matter how fragile that hope might be. It was rumored that occasionally an angel would stir up the waters of the pool and the first person who managed to drag his body into the water would be healed.

If there had been miraculous healings, they didn’t take place very often. Some people had been waiting by the waters for almost four decades. The pool of Bethesda reflected vividly the tragedy of human life: brokenness with little prospect of becoming whole again. That is why so many pretended the place did not exist. But there was one who not only refused to ignore the suffering of Bethesda, he went there to do something about it.

This Sunday we will study the account of Jesus healing a paralyzed man who had waited by the waters of the pool for 38 years, hoping for a miracle. That miracle happened, but not the way the man had imagined. Instead, it came in the form of a preacher called Jesus of Nazareth – a prophet the common people loved and the religious leaders hated. And it was precisely because of Bethesda type moments that there were such vast extremes in peoples’ reactions to Jesus. The people loved him because he went to them, no matter where they might be, no matter how humble or humiliating the circumstances. The powerful hated him because by going to people where they were at, Jesus reminded them of their own lack of compassion and empathy.

Jesus Christ – he is true hope for the helpless. Join us this weekend for one of our services. Look at what he does. Listen to what he says. Then consider the powerful hope Jesus can give to your life!

Saturday night worship: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 am

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Are You Ready to Take Life to the Next Level?

Too often Christians never get past the “being saved” stage. Receiving the forgiveness which Christ offers through faith is what gets us right with God and opens heaven’s doors. In Jesus’ teachings, though, the Christian life doesn’t end with going to heaven. In fact, Jesus talked far more about how his followers are to live in this life than he did about heaven. And he never gives the impression that those who call him “Lord and Savior” make a distinction between going to heaven and living as a Christian on a day to day basis. The two go together. To Jesus, to be saved meant to live a saved life.

Christ’s most famous and in depth teaching on the life of his disciples is called the Sermon on the Mount. The principles for daily living which he sets forth can be called nothing short of radical and revolutionary. Jesus takes human priorities and values to another level, a level never seen before.

What Jesus describes as the Christian lifestyle is not what anyone would call pleasant or comforting. He does, however, promise a blessedness or joy that we humans cannot find anywhere else. One could say the Sermon on the Mount is the Christian Manifesto, declaring to the world who we are and what we stand for. Are you ready to go to the next level in your life as a believer in Jesus Christ? Join us for one of our weekend services and begin the journey.

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

Saturday, January 18, 2014

How Much Is A Human Life Worth?

“Insofar as some human beings are incapable of reasoning, remembering, and self-awareness, they cannot be considered persons. Put simply, dogs, cats, and dolphins are persons, while fetuses, newborns, and some victims of Alzheimer’s disease are not.”

Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 1st edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979) , pp. 110

How much is a human life worth? The answer to that question very much depends on who is doing the talking. Peter Singer, former professor at Princeton University, is among a growing number of people who believe that the value of human life is to be determined by subjective measurements established by other human beings. The world has seen the results of such thinking in the horrific human slaughtering fields created by men such as Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Adolph Hitler. These three leaders, who were responsible for the combined deaths of more than 20 million people, believed, like Singer, that the value human life is not by nature inherent, but rather to be determined by others. And in the cases of Stalin, Mao and Hitler, they took upon themselves the authority to determine whose life had worth and whose did not.

This weekend we will commemorate Sanctity of Life Sunday with millions of other Christians in America. It will be an opportunity to thank our God for the life he gave each one of us, both physical and spiritual. It will be an opportunity to study his Word to appreciate how relevant and important biblical life principles are to us individually and as a society. Finally, it will be an opportunity to commit ourselves to making a difference in our world – to uphold the sacred and awesome gift God has given us – life! Please join us for one of our weekend worship services.

Saturday evening: 6:00 pm
Sunday morning: 10:00 am

Friday, January 10, 2014

It Does Work

Current research in behavior has come to the conclusion that it is virtually impossible for human beings to correct self-destructive behavior. The phrase “Just say ‘No!’” coined by former first lady Nancy Reagan has been mocked by mental health specialists as simplistic and ineffective. We are told we cannot keep ourselves from doing things we know aren’t good for us and that the best we can do is learn to cope with our inabilities.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Hundreds of millions of people have witnessed behavior changes in the past and continue to do so today. It does work to “just say ‘No!’” Now that doesn’t mean it is easy to stop doing things we enjoy and yet are harmful to us, but it can be done.

Maybe what we have to do is look at life from a different point of view. We’re told by many today that all of human life is dominated by chemical reactions which take place within our bodies and brains. Which means, that when it comes to behavior, we’re just victims of chemical circumstances. This is a new way of looking at life, but it has caught the attention of many people because it frees us from responsibility for our actions.

Jesus Christ has a much different explanation for why we are the way we are. He tells us there is a cosmic battle between good and evil which is raging all around and in each person. For Jesus, the principle point of each person’s life is to win that battle for good. In fact, that is the very reason he came to this earth as a human being.

This Sunday we are going to witness Jesus engaged personally in this war between good and evil as he takes on several direct temptations from Satan himself. While this encounter happened early in the ministry of Christ, it points ahead to his total and complete victory over Satan on the first Easter morning.

You and I aren’t victims of chemical circumstances. We are responsible human beings with the ability to choose right over wrong. While our inclination to do wrong may be overwhelming, Jesus Christ offers us more than enough not only to resist evil, but to live a life for what is best. With Jesus, we can make the change!

Saturday evening – 6:00 pm
Sunday morning – 10:00 am

Friday, January 3, 2014

Everything New

Nothing stays new! Not a new car, not a new house, not even a new baby. Everything grows older. Eventually, everything goes downhill. The hymnist wrote: “Change and decay in all around I see.” He isn’t the only one who has seen this.

But, that’s not what we want to see. When we drive that new car into our driveway, we want it to stay new. We think to ourselves: “This time I’m going to keep it clean. This time I’m going to rotate the tires on schedule. This time I’m not going to let it get scratched. This time I’m going to keep it like new!”

But, that never happens. In spite of our best intentions and our best efforts, in a number of years we will be calling it our old car. That’s because it will be old.

The same thing happens to us. One day we looked around and saw that we had grown up. Maybe we were anxious for that to happen, but we weren’t conscious of it. One day just flowed into another until we were no longer called a youngster.

In the same way, one day we will look around and see that we have grown old. The music we favor will be on the “Oldies” station. When we look into a mirror we will see a reflection of our mother or father when we thought they were old.

We don’t like the deterioration of age. We want everything new. But that’s impossible! Or, is it?

Some people have traveled the oceans in search of a so-called Fountain of Youth. Others have spent money trying to look younger or feel younger. But all efforts fail, don’t they?

Not when God does it. Not when God promises it. As the Bible comes to a close we get a peek of the Lord sitting on his throne in heaven. He addresses those who are gathered around him. He tells them, “I am making everything new!”

He lets us know what this means for his people. He tells us, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

We have our hopes and plans for the New Year. In 2014 we want to be spared harm and heartache, setback and sorrow. We pray that God would grant that to us. But, even if he does, that which is new will grow older. Twelve months from now we will be talking about ending the Old Year of 2014 and moving into the New.

But, the passing of time, and the change and decay does not lead us to the black wall of regret and despair. When we look into 2014, we see a light. Even when we peer into the far distant years, we see a light. For the passing of time brings change and decay only on earth. There is another realm, another time, a time of wonderful change.

The time will come when our life, and everything in it will be brand new. Everything will be perfect. Everything will stay that way.

It will be an endless New Year.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain

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.