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.