Monday, April 26, 2010


Tomorrow we'll be back in Colorado again after six months in the Arizona desert. It's been a long winter in snow country. I am sure people there are eager for warm weather, especially after the spring snowstorm they received last weekend. They're eager for green leaves and grass after months of bare trees and brown lawns.

I'm sure many folks there are already making plans to hike mountain trails and camp out under the stars. But many, especially those who come to vacation in Colorado, have no idea what they are doing. They show up on the trailhead in sandals, shorts and T-shirts, carrying a water bottle and little else as they head up the trails. They have no map, no compass and no rain gear. If so, they are headed for trouble.

Volunteers for Alpine Rescue tell stories of tourists rescued from certain death after wandering off a trail or getting caught unprepared in a deadly summer lightening storm. Regardless of circumstances, Alpine Rescue always responds to a call for help. Not once have they lectured hapless tourists, saying, "Well, since you ignored the rules of the wilderness, you'll just have to bear the consequences."  Their mission is rescue, and so they pursue every needy hiker, no matter how undeserving.

The central message of the Bible is one of rescue. The apostle Paul says none of us "deserve" God's mercy, and none of us can save ourselves. Like a stranded hiker, all we can do is call for help. Paul says in Romans 3:10, "There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God."

The Good News is that, in spite of this, God seeks after us, and He responds to our every plea for help. God is in the rescue business. What do you do when you need spiritual rescue? To whom do you turn? Do you fear you are too bad or too unimportant for God's rescue?

In Psalm 50:15, God our Rescuer tells us,  "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." God will always answer your prayer. He won't lecture you, and will always help you, because He is in the eternal rescue business.

Happy hiking on your trail of life!

Monday, April 19, 2010


An elderly lady had finished her shopping, and upon returning to her car, found four young men in the act of getting into the vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags, drew a pistol from her purse, and shouted, "I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Now get out of that car!" The four men got out and ran like the wind. The lady, somewhat shaken, loaded her shopping bags into the back seat and tried to insert her keys in the ignition. She tried and tried, but couldn't, and then realized why. A few minutes later, she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down. She had been trying to get in the wrong one! She drove to the police station, and told the sergeant, who pointed to another room where four pale young men were reporting a car jacking by a crazy old woman carrying a large handgun. Fortunately, no charges were filed.

Great story, but it also tells us something about how we see the world. If we are expecting bad things, we will see bad things. If we are fearful of life, life will frighten us. Fear can cause us to see, say and do things that may be out of step with the truth. That lady was prepared for the worst, so she saw the worst. She also did not see her own actions as being wrong, as least not at first.

I've always been a supporter of Second Amendment rights. Recently Arizona became the only state in the union where a person can carry a concealed firearm without any sort of permit or registration. About the only thing this new law requires is that the gun owner tell police that (s)he is carrying a weapon if stopped. We hope this new law will help the citizens of Arizona, since we're in the midst of huge drug and illegal immigration problems.

I do think, however, that guns don't belong in church, a trend I've been hearing about recently. Perhaps a large church might believe it needs to train and arm some of its staff, but common sense must prevail. A house of God needs honor and respect and I'm not sure having firearm there is appropriate. Those who have a firearm at home should make sure the young or uninstructed can't get their hands on it. Every freedom or privilege comes with responsibility, and common sense needs to prevail.

I once preached a sermon entitled, "Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should." It was based on 1 Corinthians 6:13, where St. Paul wrote, "Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial." Many people today believe that any freedom can be exercised anywhere, but no freedom is absolute. Our freedoms must be treasured and protected, but they must also be exercised for the good of all, not just one person's preference.

"Be careful that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." (1 Cor. 8:9)

Monday, April 12, 2010


I've been praying for a certain thing for several months now, and it hasn't happened yet. Every night I pray for it, and every day I think about it, wondering whether today will be the day when my prayer is answered. But so far it hasn't yet happened. It reminds me of a conversation I once had about prayer, specifically whether it really helps to ask God's help for specific situations. My friend thought it was best just to let God do it in His own good time, and not to bother Him with small things.

Jesus once told a story about a poor woman who went to a judge and asked him to fix a problem she had. The judge told her not to bother him, but she kept going back again and again with the same request. Finally the judge said, "I really don't care about this woman or her situation, but if I don't do something she will drive me crazy." So he did what she requested.

Jesus finished His story, saying, "And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:7-8)

There's something about Jesus comparing Himself with a cranky old man that's bothersome. But the point of His story is what's important - God eventually does answer our prayers, either yes or no. We just need to keep asking. You see, God's not a vending machine. You can't just pop in a prayer and out comes the answer. God's answers can also a way God teaches us patience and faith.

Those last words haunt me. "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Prayer takes faith. Prayer means trusting God can do anything, even take time to answer our "little" needs.

Remember that lame man who lay by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, hoping to get into the water in time so he could be healed? Each time the angel stirred the waters, someone else got there ahead of him, but he kept going back anyway. Finally Jesus healed him while His disciples watched. That's why it took so long - so he could be an example of faith for all the ages to see.

I know God will answer my prayer, but I hope it won't take 38 years.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


In Hebrews 13:5, God reminds us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." In an evangelistic meeting in Ireland years ago, the speaker was explaining what it meant to abide in Christ and to trust Him completely. Concluding his message, he repeated several times, "It means in every circumstance you can keep on saying, 'For this I have Jesus'."

The meeting was then opened for testimonies. One young woman said, "Just a few minutes ago I was handed this telegram. I reads, 'Mother is very ill; take train home immediately.' When I saw those words, I knew that tonight's message was meant just for me. My heart looked up and said, 'For this I have Jesus'. Instantly a peace and strength flooded my soul."

Weeks later the evangelist received a letter from this woman. It read, "Thank you again for the message you gave that day. Life has become an uninterrupted Psalm of victory, for I have come to realize that no matter what life brings, 'For this I have Jesus'." (Taken from "Our Daily Bread", April 6, 2010)

That believer in Christ had found in her Savior the One who would be with her in all her trials. No matter how old or young you are, no matter how rich or poor you may be, no matter if you're a faithful Christian or a babe in the Faith, you still will have troubles in life. For all your troubles, you have Jesus.

"For this I have Jesus." Learn to speak it several times a day. We Christians don't often speak of a "mantra," for it suggests a pagan religion. But a Christian "mantra," a true phrase repeated often, can remind us who will give us strength and direction in our time of difficulty. So, no matter what trouble comes your way....

For this you have Jesus!

Rev. Bob Tasler, Emeritus Lutheran Pastor
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