Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Now that we are past the imagined horrors of what Hurricane Irene (fortunately) did not deliver, many people who live on the east coast are deciding what they learned from the episode. I do not intend to demean the potential disaster that could have come from a worse storm, but it was almost painful watching the reporters try to fill in the gaps as the storm got better while they were prepared for it to get worse. Those who had spent days preparing the audience for a show based on things going bad had to scramble for what to do when things started going good.

Perhaps this points to the fallacy of planning our future when we do not have control over so much that happens in life. We may plan and do all the "right" things, get all the needed ingredients in place, and then have it all displaced by something unexpected.

The pastor of my teenage years had saved his funds, made his plans, built his retirement home, and then was run over by a snowplow less than a year after he retired. Another newly retired pastor friend fell over dead while mowing his lawn. Another fellow was building a house, backed up to admire his work and was killed when fell into the basement hole.

The lesson I see in this is that we can plan for some things, but not all things. More of our life is in the hands of God than we think. Some might call this chance and others luck, but I see it as God's plan. We need always to be ready by faith for what the Lord has in store for us.

My sister refers to these things as life's "pieces of the puzzle." We can only see how they fit together after awhile. Life looks like a jumble of puzzle pieces lying on the card table. "Why did this happen now? When will I know? What were we doing? Now what?" Only as the days unfold can we begin to see how this part fits with that part, and the picture begins to take shape. 

James the half brother of our Lord wrote in his epistle chapter 4, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit', yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."

Which part of the puzzle are you working on right now? Which parts are giving you the most trouble? Have you see a few pieces nicely fall into place recently?

Have you given thanks to God for how He has fit the pieces together?

Monday, August 22, 2011


We are now in the hot days of summer. Some parts of our nation have been excessively hot and dry for weeks, hurting animal and plant food production. Our experience in life would tell us this excessive heat must be because we are closer to the sun in the summer than in the winter, but just the opposite is true. Right now in the summer, planet earth is 4% farther away from the sun, our heat source, than it is in the winter.

Today in the northern hemisphere, we are 95 million miles from the sun. In January, our coldest time of year, we are only 91 million miles away from the sun. So why aren't we hotter in January, since we are closer to the sun than we are now? The answer has to do with the angle of the sun's rays.

Heat is caused by the earth's absorbing the sun's rays directly, not by how close the sun is. When the sun shines more directly on the earth, not being deflected by angle or atmosphere, the heat is at its greatest. In winter, the angle of the sun's rays deflects the heat, and the earth and air are colder as the sun's rays bounce off the earth. In the summer, the sun's rays come at a more direct angle to the earth, allowing the earth to get warmer.

I think we can learn something from this about our relationship with God. Living close to a church, or having been brought up in the church, or even having a few Bibles in our house - none of these will bring us closer to God. We must be looking to God, seeking His will, praying to Him and being open to His blessings in order to get closer to Him. That is why regular worship is important. Worshipping God with other Christians gets us right in line with God's Word and helps our faith become stronger than if we are alone or separate from other believers.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us, "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith." When we seek Jesus, fixing our eyes on Him and His Holy Word, we have a better chance of receiving His blessings and strength. True, just going to church won't make a person a Christian. But being in Church gives us a better chance of having our faith grow than if we are not there.

When I was young, most of us tried to get a dark tan in the summertime. These days we're warned that too much sun can be harmful, and even cause skin cancer. Conversely, it's extremely rare that we can get too much God, or too much church. The Devil, the world and our sinfulness will keep that from happening. But just as living in the darkness and away from the sun for long periods of time can be harmful, so also we can suffer from too little contact with God.

It's far better to be in line with Jesus and His Word, than in line with the world.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Carol, my wife, has had a small jewelry business for over 40 years, selling items made by other craftsmen. During that time she has collected quite a number of interesting pieces for herself, many of them made of sterling silver. One such necklace is both attractive and an example of the artist's ability to make something beautiful out of scraps. It is made of random silver pieces soldered together in such a way as to become unique and lovely.

I always find it amazing what a master craftsman can do with what others might view as useless. The leftovers and scraps in the hand of an artist can become a thing of beauty.

This is also how God can work in our personal lives. Our Creator God can take the wasted and broken scraps of our lives and restore them to a thing of beauty. All our bad decisions, poor choices, and even terrible deeds can become the mixture which the Supreme Artist uses to give us great worth and meaning in His kingdom.

This does not, of course, give us license to do evil, but it can and should encourage us that when we do wasteful and foolish things, God can still turn our life into a thing of beauty. He is the Master Craftsman, the potter who molds shapeless lumps of clay into vessels that are both beautiful and useful.

No matter what kind of a mess we have made of our life, God can re-make us good and useful for His purposes. When we confess those sins, and by His Spirit's power change those wrong ways, we will see our brokenness made whole and good.

Jeremiah 18:4 tells us, "That which the potter was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." God sees what mankind cannot see. He knows what blessings we can become when we submit to Him in faith and allow Him to change us into the people He wants us to be.

Broken lives can become a healed blessing in the hands of the Master.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Very few of us are unaware of Monday's plunge of the Stock Market in the wake of recent decisions made by Washington leaders and Wall Street investors. Standard advice for most investors in such times is this: "Leave your investments where they are, because this will pass and things will get better again." It's wise counsel for most of us.

A long time ago when there was far less wealth among the faithful, Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth told His disciples, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." (Matthew 6:19-20) This advice is as good now as it was then.

Imagine you're alive at the end of the Civil War. You are a Northerner but living in the South. You know the end of the war is near, and you plan to move home to the North as soon as the war is over. While in the South you've accumulated some Confederate money. What should you do with it?

Wisdom would dictate you should cash in your Confederate money for Federal money, which will have the only value when the war is over. But you would still keep enough Confederate funds to meet your needs while you are still in the South. To think your Confederate money will still have value after the war is foolish, because you know everything will be different then.

This analogy has meaning for us today. The Bible says there will be a time of upheaval before Satan is defeated and Christ returns to earth, making all things new. No one knows when this will happen. But we do know that all earthly goods we possess will become meaningless when Christ returns, or when we die, whichever comes first. Either event could happen to us at any time.

I am by no means an earthly investment advisor, and I know nothing of investment timing. But the Lord has given us a few trustworthy financial instruments to use while we still live here in the "South." We trust that the Lord will provide for our needs through them, and for that we give Him thanks and praise.

We all should remember that Jesus' forecast for this earth is bleak. He urges us in His Word to invest in things of heaven: faith, hope, love, sharing goods, and helping those in need. In His Holy Word, He instructs us to transfer our trust from things of earth, which are shakey, to the unshakeable things of heaven. Faith in Christ as our Savior is all we need for eternal life. Such faith is totally dependable, insured by God Himself.

There is nothing wrong with having Confederate money, as long as we realize its limits. Don't forget that its value is temporary. To accumulate earthly treasures that we can't possibly hold on to, is equivalent to stockpiling Confederate money even though we know it's about to become worthless.

Storing up earthly treasures cannot bring us heaven, but faith in Christ can.

Rev. Bob Tasler

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


A few weeks ago my WEEKLY MESSAGE was about how we need to use the gifts God has given us. I told of how fixing a part on the sump pump kept my basement dry, and that it's not just our having gifts from God, but how we use them for others that counts.

I had more comments than usual on that story, but one from a friend named Mary was memorable. She wrote, "Thank you for your devotion. I am convinced you could make a devotion out of burnt toast." Well, yesterday morning I did burn the toast, and guess what, Mary? It reminded me of a story I once heard, told by a woman when she was a child. Here's what she said:

"When I was a little girl, my Mom liked to make breakfast at other meals every now and then. I remember one night when Dad came home really tired, and Mom had made us breakfast for supper: eggs, sausage, toast, even orange juice. That evening Mom placed in front of Dad a plate of fried eggs, sausage, and some really burned toast. I remember waiting to see what he'd say or if he even noticed.

"But all Dad did was reach for his toast, smile at Mom, and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that burnt toast and then eat every bite! When I got up from the table, I remember hearing Mom apologize to Dad for burning the toast. I’ll never forget what he said: 'Honey, I love burned toast.'

"Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really did like burnt toast or was he just being nice. He wrapped me in his arms and said, 'Sweetheart, your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired. And you know what? A little burnt toast never hurt anyone!'"

The point this woman was making is that life is full of imperfect things: imperfect homes, imperfect churches, imperfect pastors, imperfect children, imperfect government, and even imperfect husbands and wives! An important part of loving others is learning to accept each others' faults and differences, not the destructive ones of course, but those that make us different from each other. If we expect everyone else to be like us, what a boring and ugly world this would be!

Here is my prayer for you today, that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of our Lord Jesus. And then try to have an attitude of love toward those around you. Because in the end, Jesus is the only One who will be able to give you an attitude where burnt toast isn’t a deal-breaker!

Love and understanding are the true bases for all worthwhile relationships.

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