Monday, October 31, 2011


October 31 is the day Martin Luther began the Reformation by posting his 95 Theses. I would like to introduce you to another important Reformer named Philip Melanchthon, scholar, writer, professor, humble Christian man, and close friend of Martin Luther. He was born Philip Schwartzerd ("black dirt") in 1497 at Bretten, Germany. He was 14 years younger than Luther and grew to be only 4 foot 7 inches tall.

Philip started Latin School at ten, but was enrolled at the University of Heidelberg at 12, receiving his Bachelor’s Degree there at 14 and his Master’s degree from University of Tubingen at 16. His brilliant mind was reportedly able to memorize entire books.

While studying under Erasmus, he changed his name to Melanchthon ("black dirt" in Greek), and became lecturer in the Christian faith and many secular disciplines. In 1518 (age 21), Luther invited him to study the Bible and teach at the “Laecorium,” the new University of Wittenberg.

In 1519, Philip attended the Leipzig Debate with Luther, helping him write parts of his defense against Johann Eck. During the debate, Philip spoke out several times, incurring Eck's anger.

In 1520, now full Professor on the Wittenberg faculty, Philip married Katharina Krapp, the mayor’s daughter. Elector Frederick gave them a house on Collegienstrasse next to the University which is today a museum. They were blessed with two children, Anna and George (died at age two). They adopted Philip's sister's five children when she died, and later adopted Anna's four children at her death.

Melanchthon worked very hard, his usual day being from 3 in the morning until 9 o’clock at night. He and Luther sometimes, though rarely, differed on teachings. He established the first public schools in Germany, and later organized new universities at Marburg, Koenigsberg, and Jena, besides revising courses and textbooks at Heidelberg and Tubingen. Philip valued the Bible most highly, but also urged the study of useful humanist writings.

He was invited by nearly fifty other Universities to be on their faculty, yet stayed at Wittenberg Laecorium the rest of his life. In 1530 he wrote and presented the Augsburg Confession in German and Latin. He also wrote commentaries on Luke, Matthew, Romans and Corinthians, and helped reorganize theology departments at major universities.

Philip got into conflicts with Amsdorf, Flacius and Osiander, and spoke against false doctrine of the Zwickau prophets who said the Bible was no longer necessary, that all should only follow the Holy Spirit. He was 49 when Luther died in 1546, thrusting him into leadership of the Reformation. In 1550, his Katharina died at age 49, and two years later, Luther’s Katie died, also at 49.

In his last years, Philip was saddened by the sorry state of the church with its disputes and weak leadership, but he took refuge in prayer and the Bible. Though some disregarded him due to his size and appearance, Luther said Philip was a giant and his pen made him more beautiful than King David.

Just prior to his death, Philip wrote a sermon in which he said, “In death we shall be delivered from our sins, as well as from the arguments of foolish people.” In early April, 1560, he lectured a few minutes in his classroom and collapsed. Asked on his deathbed if he wanted anything. he said, “Nothing but Heaven.”

Philip Melanchthon died at age 63, the same age as Luther. Both are buried in the Wittenberg Castle Church, Philip the teacher in front of the lectern, and Luther the preacher in front of the pulpit. Philip stands next to Luther and Calvin as a major protestant reformer and theologian. Among his many legacies, he urged the church not to confuse the Law and Gospel.

June 25, Luther’s traditional wedding anniversary, is also Philip Melanchthon Day in the Lutheran Church.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I enjoy reading fiction, but one of my favorite non-fiction authors is Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University Professor of Linguistics. Her book, "YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND," became a 1980s classic due to its excellent explanation of how men and women process information differently. Her premise is true: men and women don't always hear the same message in the same words.

Dr. Tannen has written several other books, and one I am now reading is, "I ONLY SAY THIS BECAUSE I LOVE YOU," in which she explains how our conversation affects our relationships. She writes quite clearly on a topic that could be boring, but is surprisingly interesting and even humorous.

In our conversations, she says we need to realize there is both a message and a  "meta-message" The message is what we say out loud. The meta-message is the unstated meaning we glean from what is said. The message is the "word meaning," while the meta-message is the "heart meaning." The meta-message is often what triggers the most emotion.

For example, when a mother begins her conversation with, "I only say this because I love you," the daughter may know immediately she will be criticized, perhaps about her looks or behavior. The mother truly wants to help her daughter to improve and believes her meta-message will be heard. Her daughter, however, focuses on the message itself which comes across as criticism.

Reading good literature on how we relate to each other can help us avoid pitfalls in our relationships, especially those in the family. Looking past the initial words and realizing there may be another message won't eliminate pitfalls, but it can help us avoid them.

It can also help us in understanding God's Word. I often hear people say they don't understand the Bible, that its stories or passages are too difficult. Some parts of the Bible are indeed more difficult than others. But sometimes our inability to understand can come from our experiences or our unwillingness to look beyond the words themselves.

For example, one child hearing Jesus' prayer in Matthew 6, "Our Father who art in heaven…." would envision a wonderful God based on a loving earthly father. Another child, however, might see God as angry or hateful, based on an abusive earthly father.

Many people distance themselves from God's Word due to negative experiences in life. When something reminds us of physical or emotional pain, we naturally will back away from it. Other people, though, find the goodness of God explained in the Bible helps them get past a particular pain they've felt in life.

I urge you to consider how you relate to the Bible and why. Is there something blocking your need to read His Word? Is there a way to remove that block so that you can better hear what He is saying to you?

And in your close relationships, is there an important message you may be missing because you are considering only the words?

Jesus does understand. He gave us His Word because He loves us.

Monday, October 17, 2011


(First of all, I want to thank all who responded to last week's MESSAGE about my writings. I have been urged to write books for over a decade, and now that I've started, I hope some will read them. I appreciate your understanding.)

This week I would like to share some thoughts about the current protest demonstrations being staged around our world. Like many of you, I have mixed feelings as I watch the news showing people angrily shouting in the streets against injustice and greed or something written on their signs. I am sure it is exciting to be among those participants, but it is difficult trying to understand them.

One wonders if there is a point to it all, or whether it is protesting merely for the sake of being a protester. Unless people have valid reasons that can be stated and understood, it all seems a waste of time.

Perhaps some modern people feel they must stage angry demonstrations now and then, publicly venting feelings so that somehow wrongs will be made right. Maybe they just want to shout in the streets like they heard was done in past decades. Whatever their reasons are, it would be better if we at least understood them.

Mere ranting and raving accomplishes little. "I don't have enough." "They have too much!" "No one listens to me!" "Why isn't the government doing more?" "Why isn't the world a perfect place?" "Who's fault is it?"

Maybe I can answer that last question, but it won't be pleasing. We are all at fault. Because we are all sinful, that makes us all greedy and selfish and uncaring, etc. Furthermore, we frail, faulty humans can NOT fix everything to make our world a perfect place. It can't be done.

It is the immature child who cries, "Someone has ruined my life and must make me better." That child has not been taught the reality of sin. Our world today is filled with people who have been deceived into thinking we really can make this world into a perfect place. But perfection requires God, not street demonstrations or revolution.

Reality teaches us people of every generation will suffer. God's Word teaches us the only perfection there is comes from God in Jesus Christ. He died to deliver us. He rose again to bring us hope of heaven. Heaven will be perfect and will come only through Jesus.

There will be no lasting political solutions to our imperfect world. Perfection will only come in heaven at God's throne, a gift of God's grace in Jesus our Savior.

Certainly we must try to make things better. But unless we trust in God to help us, unless we place our faith in the One who is Greater and Higher than we are, we are destined to cry in the streets like spoiled children looking for someone to blame.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Rev. Bob Tasler
My Kindle Books:
NEW! "BOBBY WAS A FARMER BOY" (illustrated for children):
"SMALL TOWN PREACHER" (My second church):
"COUNTRY PREACHER" (My first church):
"DAILY WALK WITH JESUS" (Daily devotionals):
"MURDER AT PALM CREEK" (A fun "Whodunnit?"):

Monday, October 10, 2011


As you may have noticed by my E-mail "signature" this summer, I have written several small electronic books on Amazon Kindle. This has been a fun and interesting experiment, as well as quite successful. So far I have sold around 150 Kindle E-books, as well as many in CD format. You can see all five with their website addresses below. You can click on any of those that are underlined, and you will see the nice way Amazon shows you their content.

My latest E-Book, "BOBBY WAS A FARMER BOY," is a children's book about my youth on our family farm. It is short and contains many simple illustrations. I think it is my best work so far, and costs only $2.99 for those with Kindles. You can look at its Kindle site (free) at: 

I can also send you a computer CD copy to read on your PC. Additionally, I have an audio version for this and two other books as well. For these, you must contact me and I will mail you a CD written or audio copy for $5. I'm sorry, but there are no paper copies of my books. The cost of paper publishing today has become very expensive and risky.

If you do not have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle Reader for your PC or Mac at this address:

If you have a Kindle book or Kindle reader for your PC, I think you will find my Kindle books entertaining and inexpensive. Even if you don't wish to but one, check them out!

Next week I will return to my regular WEEKLY MESSAGE format. Thank you for understanding my periodic and shameless marketing!

Thanks also for being my faithful readers!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


People today spend much time planning their future, trying to make it secure. Investment ads and "how-to-retire well" stories are so numerous a first-time visitor here might think that's the whole point to life in America - to retire wealthy. Is your 401k doing well? Good for you! If not, your future is in jeopardy.

Far better that our future is secure because of our faith in Christ. In Philippians 3:7-9, St. Paul said, "Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him."

A Stock Market gain gives us hope; a loss makes us tense. But the materials things we gather for ourselves in life can be lost in a heartbeat. Knowing and trusting Christ brings a security that loss cannot take away. Faith in Jesus gives a life that goes past all phases of this one and brings us into the eternal presence of God.

I recently watched an interesting program called, "The History of the World in Two Hours" which, of course, started with a "big bang thirteen billion years ago." Oddly, in the program a secular scientist used the phrases, "Let there be light" and "creation of energy," freely borrowing Christian phrases to make his point about the beginning of things. He attempted to show how the earth, that third planet from the sun, Carl Sagan's "insignificant pale blue dot," could accidentally come to support life. As he did, he used biblical phrases without realizing it.

I marvel at how we humans can see everything but the obvious. The more we learn about the intricacies of complex life, the more it should drive us to seek Someone behind it all. But our sinful nature blinds us to God, or even to consider His possibility. We're content to ignore the facts, refuse the obvious, and be damned rather than admitting there is a God behind this marvelous thing called life. To the secularist, the future means knowledge and answers to more problems. Thus, a "secure" retirement becomes of paramount importance.

St. Paul had a good life before he came to know Christ, but lost it all the minute he professed Jesus. No Temple Pension, no Eternal IRA for him. He suffered the loss of all things material so that he could be spiritually ready to meet his Lord. He counted all that stuff as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus Christ.

Christ is the only secure future we can hope for. A financially secure old age is helpful, but it doesn't last long. And if we spend most of our lives amassing funds for the last decade or two, we may miss out on the real fortunes of heaven.

Faith in Christ makes our future truly secure.