Monday, December 17, 2018

SINGING CAROLS AT CHRISTMAS


        Last night my wife and I joined a dozen of our friends to sing Christmas Carols at two dozen homes in our park where we’d been told people might need cheering up. Caroling is something I’ve done over sixty years, and it’s always been enjoyable.
        God’s people developed the Christmas festival during the Middle Ages as a reminder of His great gift to us in the Christchild, and they chose December 25, replacing the pagan festival of Saturnalia which also featured evergreens and gifts, parties and singing.
        Christians have sung God’s praises since the First Century and have written songs of His son’s birth since the Seventh century. English Christmas Carols appeared around the Twelfth Century and have captivated the hearts both singers and listeners ever since.
        Last night we sang the first verse of 3-4 carols at each home, concluding with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and heading off to the next. Sometimes we’ve given Christmas sweets, but if there are many places to visit, we keep moving till we’ve stopped at each one.
        Due to our long list, last night we divided into two groups, visiting 12-16 homes each and riding in golf carts. Singers may also walk or ride in cars, and one memorable year we rode around town on a decorated flatbed pulled by a team of Clydesdales. The frost on the trees that afternoon made the event magical.
        Caroling is done to bring Christmas joy to those who listen, as well as to those who sing. Psalm 96:1 says, “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.” The quality of our singing doesn’t matter. The point of it all is to share God’s message of forgiveness and love. If you have a chance to sing Christmas carols to others this year, join in. You’ll be glad you did.

“For this I will sing praises to Your name, Oh Lord.” (2 Sam. 22:50)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, December 10, 2018

CEILING AND VIEW UNLIMITED


        Death has a way of stopping things. It stops a life, of course, but it also stops the normalcy of life by creating a pause in the activities of the living. When President George H. W. Bush died last week, most Americans briefly paused their planning and pandering, their business and bickering, to pay respects to a fine former leader. When the funeral was over, politicians, pundits and ordinary people were quick to return to their normal pursuits. Life doesn’t stop, it’s only changed.
        Life may seem normal, but it’s a new normal. Individuals and families may adjust schedules for a time, but soon they are going about life as before, though in their hearts they are not the same. 
        Most older Christians have considered their own passing, the effects it will make on those we leave behind and the future that will be for ourselves. Believers in Jesus know that all of life is in God’s hands, and we trust each day will have its new morning and fresh horizon to view.
        During the Bush memorial service at the National Cathedral, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney told of visiting Pres. Bush and seeing a sign by his house with four letters on it - C.A.V.U., which Bush said meant “CEILING AND VIEW UNLIMITED”. It meant perfect flying weather was ahead. With Jesus as Lord, it is possible to have C.A.V.U. each day. By giving His life for us, Jesus promised new life with Him as we live each day into eternity. By trusting Him, His new life is ours.
         In John 5:24, Jesus told His disciples (and us), “Whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.” Death may seem to stop things, but not the one thing we need most - God's love for us in Jesus. Faith in Jesus takes us from this life into an eternity in the presence of God.Jesus takes us from this life into an eternity in the presence of God.

“CEILING AND VIEW UNLIMITED” is ours through Jesus.

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Sunday, December 2, 2018

WHATEVER!


        While shopping, an older couple encountered some young adults in a store engaged in loud banter that included profanity. The older man stopped and said to them, “Nice that you are having a good time, but please watch your language. I am sure others wish you’d not use such words.”  A young man looked at him and said, “Whatever, old man, whatever!”
        “Whatever” has usually meant a lack of restriction (i.e. “Take whatever is needed”), but it can also be a response of irritation or reluctance to change. Today it’s also a word of indifference or exasperation (“Whatever, old man, whatever!”) Then it’s meant to push back and contradict what has been said. 
        I’ve even seen this word on a bumper stickers. Years ago I first heard “whatever” mumbled by a youth in my classroom. While it’s usually meant to stop discussion, in that student’s case he discovered the discussion had only begun.
        But this is not at all what Apostle Paul had in mind in his letter to the Philippians. “Finally, brothers, WHATEVER is true, WHATEVER is honorable, WHATEVER is just, WHATEVER is pure, WHATEVER is lovely, WHATEVER is commendable; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippians 4:8) 
        Paul was urging Christians to be respectful and helpful since what is said reflects directly on how others perceive us. He urges us to rejoice in the Lord and show respect to others. While we may feel justified at being angered or offended by what we hear or see around us, Paul urges an honorable and prudent response.
        There is much anger blazing around in our world today, with so much useless talk. Whether privately or publicly, people feel they have a right to say anything and get offended by the least inappropriate word, even making threats if they don’t get their way. 
        Satan loves it when we fight each other and use our tongues to light fires that burn and destroy. But God’s Word urges us to speak and think on WHATEVER is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely or commendable. 
        We are all sinful, as our conversation certainly shows. But our Lord Jesus has forgiven us with His death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit will give us strength to change our anger into respect and encouragement. 

That’s why Paul says, “Think about these things…”

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Sunday, November 25, 2018

HOW TO HELP THOSE IN THE FIRE


        This time of year I usually tell you of an urgent need to which you can contribute your helping funds. We all know of the terrible “Camp Fire” in California which has burned 150,000 acres, consuming nearly 14,000 structures and killing at least 85 persons. We praise God the fire has now been contained, and I urge your help for its many victims.
        The fire’s devastation includes at least one Lutheran church. Rev. Brandon Merrick, pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Paradise, CA, reports the total loss of both the church building where he serves and its parsonage where he and his family live. Amazingly, the church’s front cross still stands tall in the midst of the ashes. Seeing it, Pastor Merrick wrote his members: 
        “This fire is a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen to the things and people of this world, but the cross shows our one true hope in the midst of tragedy that cannot be destroyed by anything. God is with us. He wants nothing more for us than to see Him through the cross where He draws us to the only place His mercy and forgiveness are found. In the cross we see both the ultimate consequence of our sin and death, and the new life we have with Jesus.”  
        Our prayers and gifts are needed for both God’s House and Pastor’s Home to be speedily rebuilt. Our prayers are also sought that people will turn to Jesus for comfort, assurance and hope in this tragedy. May those who are serving there see Jesus and His cross amid the work left to be done. 
        Our Savior Lutheran Church is part of the Cal-Nevada-Hawaii District. You can donate to help them rebuild, because insurance never covers it all. Consider giving your gift now at: http://www.cnh-lcms.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=428790. Or you may send your gift check to CNH Disaster Relief, 2772 Constitution Drive, Suite A, Livermore, CA, 94551. God bless you for your kindness.

May God richly grant His blessings on all those who suffer loss in this fire.

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, November 19, 2018

HOW TO BE REALLY THANKFUL


        Have you ever wondered why you are so greatly blessed? With Thanksgiving Day coming up, I’ve been wondering how best a person can show thankfulness. I’ve heard it said we could divide all Americans into three groups, based on how they show their thankfulness. 
        1. The first group rarely if ever, say thanks, and if they do, it’s just a formality. To them, Thanksgiving Day is little more than ‘Turkey Day.’
        2. The second group says thank you and knows it’s the right thing to do. Thanksgiving Day for them is a time to remember blessings, give thanks for them and share them with others.
        3. The third group of people is genuinely thankful because it is a part of their character because they know they are are unworthy of all their blessings. Thanksgiving Day is a time to praise God for what they have and try to live their thankfulness each day.
         Giving God thanks should be more than mere action or words. It can be a lifestyle, a grateful attitude of the heart that expresses genuine thankfulness for blessings received. A Bible lesson often heard on Thanksgiving Day is from Luke 17 about the Ten Lepers Jesus healed. It goes like this: 
        Traveling through southern Galilee, Jesus encounters ten persons considered untouchable due to their disease who ask for His help. Jesus has compassion but doesn’t touch or heal them on the spot. Rather, He tells them to go see the priests, which they all do. As they go, they realize they are healed and run quickly to get a clean bill of health. 
        But one first turns to thank Jesus and praise God for his healing. Jesus asks a question that might also be our own: Where the others? Why didn’t they also thank Him right away? Why did only this fellow do it? Perhaps because he, a Samaritan, recognized his unworthiness. He was doubly untouchable, a religious and a social outcast in the same person, but he'd been healed- Praise God!
        Jesus owed this man nothing, yet He gave him great blessings, physical and spiritual healing. The Samaritans felt God cared little for them, but this man knew God did. King David felt the same kind of unworthiness as he sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, Oh Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me thus far?” (2 Samuel 7:18) God genuinely loves us and that’s enough to merit our heartfelt thanks.

May we also realize we are unworthy for all the blessings God gives us.

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, November 12, 2018

SHE GAVE HER MOST PRIZED POSSESSION


        At Sunday worship yesterday, we heard again the beloved story of the Widow's Mite in which Jesus told His disciples the significance of the poor woman’s gift gave as she entered the Temple. “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:3-4)
        Yesterday, November 11, 2018, was also the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, so it is time to hear how another woman, Mary Babnik Brown (1907–1991), gave a significant gift to her country in wartime. A daughter of Slovenian descent living in Pueblo, Colorado, Brown had left school at age 12 to help support her family. At age 13 was hired at the National Broom Factory at 75 cents a day, and she worked there for the next 42 years.
         In 1943, this 37 year-old housewife saw a newspaper advertisement looking for blond hair at least 22 inches long which had never been treated with chemicals or hot irons. As her most prized possession, Brown’s hair had never been cut. It measured 34 inches and was worn in a braid wrapped on top of her head. She was known as the “Lady With the Crown.” 
        The government offered to buy her hair with war stamps, but seeing it as her duty to help the war effort, she took no payment. Losing her hair was traumatic, but she adjusted with help from her supportive family and friends. Brown remained a lifelong Pueblo resident, active in society, politics and Colorado's State Federation of Labor. 
        Mary Babnik Brown had no idea how her hair had been used until 1987 when President Ronald Reagan wrote to thank on her 80th birthday, and revealed to her its use. A highly secret military program had used her hair to make crosshairs inside Norden bombsights used in the highly successful B-24, B-29 and B-17 aircraft. Her gift had helped win World War Two. In 1991, Brown received a special achievement award at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. She died later that year.
        Our Lord gave His supreme sacrifice for us on Calvary’s cross. His death and resurrection won the war against the evils of Satan. Evil may still seem to prevail in our world, but it cannot separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus our Savior.

Thank you Mary, and all who have served to give us our freedoms

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, November 5, 2018

REASONS WHY I'VE QUIT ATTENDING SPORTING EVENTS


1.  The Coach never came to visit me.
2.  Every time I went, they asked for money.
3.  The people sitting in my row didn’t seem very friendly.
4.  The seats were hard.
5.  The referees made decisions I didn’t agree with.
6.  I was sitting with hypocrites - they only came to see what others were wearing.
7.  Some games went into overtime and I was late getting home.
8.  The band played songs I’d never heard before.
9.  The games are scheduled on my only day to sleep in and run errands.
10.  My parents took me to to too many games when I was growing up.
11.  I’ve read a book on sports, so I feel I know as much or more then the coaches.
12.  I don’t take my children because I want them to choose the sport they like best.
Do you suppose we could use this list for other reasons?  (At least this isn’t about the midterm elections.)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! (Psalm 95:6) 

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com