Monday, October 16, 2017

WHAT NEXT?

        Sometimes when bad things happen, especially multiple things, we are tempted to ask, “Why?” Or, “What next?” Last Friday’s news carried such a story.
        A California woman narrowly escaped death during the Las Vegas shootings last month while attending a concert where nearly five dozen people were killed and five hundred injured. A thousand bullets rained down, injuring people next to her and killing one. But she had not even a scratch. A few days after returning home, however, she was forced to evacuate her Santa Rosa house due to a wildfire that eventually burned 4,000 homes and killed nearly 40 residents. While many nearby neighbors lost their homes, the woman expressed gratitude that her home was spared, 
        What would you say if you were her? “Why?” “What next?” “Thank God I’m still alive!” I’ll guess it would be the latter. If tragedy strikes all around and we’re still alive when it’s over, giving thanks to the Good Lord is surely the first thing to do.
        A farm wife suffers immense injuries in a machinery accident, confining her to a nursing home for the rest of her life. A young pastor’s wife is widowed when he is murdered while making an evening pastoral visit in Chicago. An middle-aged farmer who lost both legs in an machinery accident, loses his wife to a heart attack. A violent auto accident claims the life of a young wife, while her husband has no injuries. 
        Do we say, “Why?” “What next?” Or, “Thank God I’m still alive!” Sometimes maybe all three. Thanking God must be both said and felt, no matter what follows. As hard as it is to understand, Job the Old Testament prophet had it right when he said, “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” It isn’t that we feel glad God is no longer playing tricks on us, but that He gives us any time of life to live at all.
        A 94 year-old WWII veteran told me of his experience in the Battle of the Bulge, and he repeatedly said,“Only by God’s grace am I alive.” He then quoted a poem his mother had sent him during the war, a hymn verse by Jesse B. Pounds he has kept with him always:
"Any where with Jesus I can safely go, 
Any where He leads me in this world below,
Any where without Him dearest joys would fade, 
Any where He leads me I am not afraid."
        “Thank God I’m still alive!” I’ve said that so often since our auto accident in 1984. I’ve never thought of it as luck, but a genuine goodness from God that He has allowed me to see my sons grow, and marry fine wives and be blessed with good children. And He also has allowed me to experience the love of a second good woman. 

It’s part of a gratitude that helps us say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”


Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, October 9, 2017

WHY DID JESUS COME TO EARTH?

        Why did Jesus come to earth? What was His purpose in being here? Ever since His birth at Bethlehem, mankind has struggled with what to do about Jesus. While many have tried making Him a great teacher, or a rebel, a peacemaker, a genius or even a charlatan, only His Holy Word tells us who He truly is, the Son of God and Savior of the world. 
        Dr. Donald A. Carson, in his book, Praying With Paul, wrote some remarkable words about Jesus’ purpose. In a quote often attributed to others (usually Max Lucado), Carson helps us zero in on the nature and purpose of Jesus. He wrote:
        “If God had perceived our greatest need was economic, He would have sent an economist. If He had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, He would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, He would have sent us a politician. If He had perceived that our greatest need was health, He would have sent us a doctor. But He perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from Him, our profound rebellion, and our eventual death. So He sent us a Savior.”
        We cannot understand Jesus unless we see what He considered was our greatest problem, that sin has caused rebellion against God and tainted our entire world. Recent mass murders have again resulted in people asking why they happened and what can be done about them. Who has not heard, “If there is a God, why does He allow this to happen?”
        All manner of reasons and solutions may be given, but rarely do analysts consider the real problem Jesus came to solve, to forgive sinful people of this rebellion and help them to live better by power of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t come to stop sin, but to forgive its consequences. He didn’t come to create robots, but people who see themselves for who they are, sin-weakened sons and daughters who desperately need their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus.
        Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The plain truth is that the tragedies we see in the world will remain with us until Christ returns again in a new heaven and earth. 

We must not cease trying to stop evil, but we must admit its true cause. 

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, October 2, 2017

COULD YOU BE A HUMAN MOLE?

        Hit by two powerful quakes in less than two weeks, Mexico City once again has reeled from the disasters that claimed hundreds of lives, demolished scores of buildings and left thousands homeless.
        Amid all the disaster, one special group of rescue workers has given their services to locate survivors. They go where they are needed and freely give of their time and safety. Who are they?
        Founded in 1986, the “Tlatelolco Moles” is a volunteer search and rescue group formed by a group of youths who pulled victims from the rubble of Mexico’s 1985 quake which killed over 5,000. These volunteers now tackle dangerous rescue operations, filling in the gaps when a government needs them. Hector Mende, one of the group's original founders, says they will go in and under debris where no one else will.
        Assisting in at least 22 countries so far, including the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and the 2004 Indonesian Tsunami, they have travelled to disasters in Haiti, Nepal and the Philippines. Some of the team had only just returned from relief efforts after Hurricane Irma when the recent earthquakes hit their homeland.
        They are unpaid workers doing life-threatening work. Why do they do it? One member said it was for the joy of finding someone alive. Initially having no formal training, the Moles are now instructed in rescue strategies, collapsed structures and risk management. With the help of the Civil Protection Agency of Mexico, the Moles now train others locally and participate in international disaster training.
        They locate and triage victims, clear rubble, find bodies and even help develop long-term recovery plans. From the safety of their own homes, they go into the dangerous rubble. Knowing they may not come out, they go in anyway.
        Our Lord Jesus did this on a worldwide scale in eternal fashion. He left His heavenly home voluntarily to find and rescue people from the rubble of sin in the world, in order that He might rescue us from eternal death. Jesus went into the world, knowing He would have to give up His own life in this rescue. 
        He was crucified for us, buried and returned to life, that all who trust Him might be saved from the crushing weight of their sins. He is now with us every day in this troubled world with its dangers and ongoing need for rescue.

”And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, September 25, 2017

THE FOOLISHNESS OF PRO FOOTBALL

        What do you do with your free time? Pursue a hobby? Read a book? Watch a movie? Play a sport? Take a nap? Most of us have some spare time we can use in a variety of ways. It is a rare person indeed who has no spare time, and that is one of the great blessings we have in life as American citizens.
        Jesus and His early followers lived at a time that was, surprisingly, more like our own than unlike it. There were the very wealthy, the politicians, the “well-off”, the middle-class and the poor. But no matter what kind of life people have, then or now, there is always a little spare time during which we choose what to do. And that’s usually a good thing, because God made people to have free choice. We are not robots.
        (Note that I did not say people have “free will”, since that’s a different matter. Our sinful nature does not allow us free will in the matter of choosing to follow God. The apostle Paul, inspired by the Spirit, said, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3) To believe in Jesus requires God’s help.
        But we have lots of things we can choose to do with our free time. Paul, however, warns us not to waste our time when he says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
        I surely wish I could say we live in good times, but I can’t. As Paul says, the days are evil, the days now and the days in times past, and it is all due to the results of sin and rebellion that never leave us. One day, praise God, we shall be delivered from the evil days, and can live eternally with Jesus Christ our Lord. With all the foolishness around us today, I truly look forward to Christ’s second coming. May all of us be found trusting Jesus as our Savior.
        Philip Melanchthon was Martin Luther’s valued friend who helped him greatly with his ability to express Christian teachings, especially in the Augsburg Confession. In 1560, just before Philip passed from this life into eternity, he said, “In death we shall be delivered from our sins, as well as from the arguments of foolish people.” What a great thought. Maybe we can deliver ourselves right now from some of those foolish people.

I’m going to start by turning off professional football. It’s just gotten too foolish.

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, September 18, 2017

IT IS HARD TO WAIT!

        I have always had a hard time waiting. Whether in my youth, my working years or now in my later years, I often struggle if I have to wait for something to happen.
        A recent minor waiting event occurred this summer after I filed an Amended Tax Return that promised a fairly large refund. I was told it would take time for the check to come, so I tried not to think of it. But still, every day when the mail came, I hoped and somewhat expected it would be there.
        Finally, four months after filing, the check came, but even though it’s in the bank, I still think of it when the mail comes. I will get over it, but it showed me that hope can linger even after the waiting is over. Waiting can make a mark upon a person, even if you are sure the hope will be fulfilled.
        But what about unknown fulfillment, when we don’t know if what we hope for will ever happen? How does a hostage deal with waiting when it’s unknown when or if release will come? How does a cancer patient deal with waiting when it’s unclear if remission will come?
        How does the young lover wait when it is unsure if Mr. Right or Miss Perfect will come into one’s life? How do Christians deal with waiting for Christ’s promised return when decades and centuries continue to pass after His promise to return?
        If there is a goal we trust will happen, the wait may be easier. But when there is no end in sight, the wait can drag us down and our hope can get chipped away until it is abandoned and forgotten.
        Then, as always, we must trust God for the result. The Psalms are filled with encouragement to wait with hope in God’s timing: “We wait in hope for the Lord.” (33:20), “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits.” (130:5), “Hope in the Lord and keep His way.”(37:34) “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (31:24), “Put your hope in the Lord.” (130:7).
        Mere hopefulness for a better future gives us little. Waiting in hope for the Lord (Ps. 33:20) gives us confidence, courage, and strength for each day, because we trust our almighty God will give us what He has promised.

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 49:3)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, September 11, 2017

WHY REBUILD AFTER A DISASTER?

        Greg Hobbs, Denver columnist, asked in a Denver Post article, “Why do people rebuild after natural disasters?” Hurricanes destroy homes, wildfires burn businesses and floods ruin communities. But when you ask disaster survivors what they plan to do, nearly all will say, “We will rebuild again.” 
        Why? Knowing another hurricane will come to tear down, or a wildfire will burn a future home, or a flood will come again, why do people continue to build in such places? Dobbs asked asked a southern storm survivor who’d lost homes in three hurricanes, why he planned rebuild again. Instead of giving him reasons, the man asked, “Where are you from?” “Originally San Francisco,” Dobbs said. “Don’t they have earthquakes there?” “Yes, but I live in Colorado now,” Dobbs said. “Don’t y’all have wild fires in Colorado?” said the man. Yes, Dobbs told him, in 2012 and 2013 Colorado lost over a thousand homes to forest fires, and most of them rebuilt their homes again.
        Communities along the Mississippi are destroyed by floods, but they rebuild again. People from Oklahoma and Kansas see homes and towns torn apart by tornadoes, but they, too, rebuild. Colorado has had enormous hailstorms destroy homes, autos and buildings, but people still rebuild and drive cars there. Dobbs concluded his article, “If one doesn’t get you, another might.” 
        Why do we rebuild in those places again? My Dad once told me a humorous story that ended, “Everyone has to be somewhere.” So simple, yet so true. With seven billion people on our planet, everyone has to be somewhere, and there is no place without some danger. 
        I’ve got some bad news: Humans are responsible for all these disasters. Yup, it’s all our fault, but not for the reasons climate alarmists would have us believe. 
        The original perfection of our world has been messed up by sin. Genesis chapter three tells us God cursed the ground because of mankind’s rebellion. Because of our sin, individually and corporately, we people have pain and suffering, no matter where we live. Thorns and thistles, work and sweat, pain of childbirth and families, all will be the lot of mankind until we return to the dust from which we were taken. That’s the reason for the disasters, not plastic or coal or carbon dioxide.
        But there is good news. God has promised us not only forgiveness, but also a new heaven and a new earth in the future, where God’s dwelling place is among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 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 21:3-4)
        Meanwhile, we live and rebuild and do our best to find joy in the life God has given us. The new heavens and new earth will come because of God’s goodness in Jesus Christ. He will one day give His followers a more perfect existence. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to that day with great hope! 

May God protect and defend all who face disaster, and bring them new life and hope!

Rev. Bob Tasler (www.bobtasler.com)

Monday, September 4, 2017

WHAT WILL BRING US TOGETHER

        While it was sad to see the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey these past days, the cooperation of so many people helping others, locally and from distant places, was truly heart-warming. The enormity of the task of helping those who’d been flooded by the raging storm was almost matched by the enormity of the numbers who stepped up and helped out, doing what needed to be done.
        After hearing of all the division in America, it was wonderful to see people cooperating. Even the noise of the few angry demonstrators was drowned out by the thousands of those transporting, feeding and helping people and their pets. The political rhetoric was more subdued for awhile and it was good to see a few elected officials taking part in rescue efforts.
        Now this week comes another storm called Hurricane Irma which is rapidly approaching our East Coast, coincidentally coming at the same time as Congress returns from its August recess. In a few days, will we be able to tell who is making more noise, nature or Capital Hill? Will our nation’s capital itself be smashed with a huge storm? And since it is where they live and work, will any of our politicians will help out or just take cover until the storm passes?
        What it would be like if all 535 members of Congress would by necessity be gathered together in one huge building to help rescue Irma’s storm victims? Imagine if Congressmen had to rescue each other! Would such help be accepted, or would a flooded Red hand slap away a helping Blue hand? Might the whole affair become an endless photo op for use in fundraising?
        We’ve asked over and over, “What will it take for our country to come together?” Folks, we have the answer. Storm and devastation will do it, if we will just not run from it. Even tragedy can do it. We can only hope and pray, however, that the misguided leaders of North Korea won’t decide to blow some place on earth to smithereens just to prove they can do it. That kind of tragedy would escalate into the unthinkable. “From such a thing, Good Lord, deliver us!”

“Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to Your holy name, and glory in Your praise.” (1 Chronicles 16:35)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com