Monday, December 30, 2013


I recently heard a joke about a priest and parishioner in a Confessional Booth that wasn't all that funny. But it reminded me that people often make light of the Confessional with insinuations and humor. But whatever you may think of the Confessional, confessing one's sin is a good thing, especially at this time of year.

Confession empties the spiritual dirt and dust from life. We know it's necessary to empty the dryer filter right after using or  if we have one of those new bag-less ones, empty the vacuum container after each use. If we don't empty such appliances regularly, they will work less and less efficiently until they are finally plugged with dust and dirt. 

The same is true in our life with God. If we don't repent of our sins frequently and humbly ask God for His forgiveness, the sins of daily life will clog our life and eventually make our faith so weak it's almost useless. Many a person is a walking dirt bag, spiritually speaking of course and all because we don't see a need to get rid of our sin.

Because of this we wonder why our faith in God seems weak, or why we feel far from God, or why "going to church just isn't what it used to be." The fact is, we need to come clean with God. Confession isn't just talking to the Almighty about one sin. It is coming clean with Him, confessing to Him all our sin, emptying our life's dirt bag so that our days won't be clogged with old stuff that should long ago have been removed.

Have you let God empty your dirt bag lately? Or is there some of that ugly stuff you never let go?

Most worship services I conducted during my ministry contained confession and absolution. Being able to come clean with God makes worship more helpful, maybe even enjoyable. Most Christian church services include confession and forgiveness and they should. Jesus' purpose in coming to earth was to earn forgiveness for us, so that when we ask Him in faith, He will remove our sins. "As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our sins from us." (Psalm 103:12)

Several years ago I found a nearly-new vacuum cleaner next to the dumpster at the end of our Arizona winter season, left by someone who didn't want it but thought it too good to toss out. I took it home, cleaned its clogged pipes and found that it worked perfectly. I still use it today. It is a name brand aptly named "Dirt Devil."

A friend told me he'd be uncomfortable using an appliance filled with someone else's dirt. I told him that's what Jesus did for us. He unloaded our dirt on the cross and unclogged our pipes with His resurrection from the grave. I think that's what I told him. If not, I should have. Jesus still cleanses our dirt, and will do so until our life ends.

What dirt does Jesus need to clean from your life in the coming New Year? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Azariah set down the last stone of the day as there was no longer enough light to see and the floor of the temple was nearly finished. He was old, exhausted and wished for an end, an end to the day, end to the project, and most of all an end to their life in Babylon. The men of his crew trudged wearily to their quarters speaking few words even though it was the first time they could openly speak to each other that day. 

"We cannot do this much longer," Mishael muttered as they walked slowly. "How much longer will the Lord God have us suffer this exile?" "Only He knows," said Azariah, "and He has not yet told us." Kenaniah, the eldest said, "The Scriptures say a Deliverer will come, so we must trust Him and wait." 

Azariah stepped inside his hut and smelled the delicious aroma of food. Sitting down on the mat next to his wife Miriam and their two boys, he lifted his eyes heavenward and said, "Let us pray. O God our Father, we thank You for this food that blesses our bodies. Come, Lord God and send Your Promised One. Save us, O Merciful God. Come, Emmanuel and end our exile here, amen."

The year was 539 BC and in less than a year God would answer the prayers of His people. Cyrus the Great had already decided to allow the Israelites to return to their own land. But Azariah's prayer would be repeated over and over, sung in prayed throughout the coming centuries until Jesus of Nazareth, the Promised One of God, would be born in Bethlehem and live to fulfill God's promises. 

Yet this song would not stop there. Early believers in Christ would continue to pray for His promised second coming, that He would again be Emmanuel, their "God With Us." In the eighth century AD, an unknown monk would compose a Latin song, “Veni Emmanuel,” in which he would plead for Christ's promised second return in glory. The song continues to this day in the Advent hymn we love, translated by Henry Sloane Coffin: 

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel 
That mourns in lowly exile here, until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel."

"Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:21) 

Monday, December 16, 2013


Once again a school shooting has raised its ugly and tragic head in Colorado my home state. But this time it was more personal as I watched national media cameras zero in on Shepherd Of The Hills Lutheran Church, the congregation where I pastored eleven years. It showed hundreds, perhaps a thousand, youth being joined with anxious parents in the church parking lot, tearfully grateful to take their children home.

Television stations carried a short weekend clip on Shepherd Of The Hills as they ministered to school youth and adults. I felt proud and grateful their pastor and people opened church doors to the shaken students and parents and are seeking ways of providing spiritual counsel to questions.

The answers are elusive, but the cause is simple. Evil and sin are gaining a stronger foothold in American culture. But what can be done about this most obvious trend? Just another angry child taking out his vengeance? A young adult who legally possesses a weapon, a boy who turns a wrong corner in his journey? What can be done in A weary and callous nation which shakes its head at tragedy, then turns away to other things? Or political movements pointing fingers, poised to defend their own philosophy? What can be done?

It's one thing to know the answer and another to do something about it. Homes need to be strengthened, Jesus needs to be honored, not feared, and schools need to teach basics rather than trends. People of all ages need more real face time and less tech time. Teachers need our prayers, and students need good adult examples. Churches need to reach out and pews need to be filled in honoring God. 

We are told we live in enlightened times. Who needs God when we've got technology? Why talk about sin when choice is what matters? Don't talk about evil! Youth simply need more choices and schools just need more money. We don't need more God, just more human answers, more educated guesses and less religion. Then someday we will wonder why it happened again.

But one of the first responders this time was a church and its pastors. And the church went into action, not preaching but living its faith in the large parking lot, with open door for human needs, with hands outstretched and soothing voices to show the way as people to meet those they love. 

And all this because a Christian Church is where Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.

"Unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Carol and I spent time decorating the house last weekend. We've added a screened-in breezeway and now have room enough for our big Christmas Tree. We had it brought down from Colorado by friends passing through town from the Black Hills on their way to winter in Arizona.

In a box of the decorations here is our African Nativity set our daughter-in-law brought back for us three years ago when she went to get their newly adopted daughter from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This ebony creche has sleek, tall figurines, so we arrange them on a small table and use a dab of Elmer's Rubberized Tack to keep the figures standing up.

As we took them out of the box, I wondered aloud where the pieces should go. Without hesitating Carol said, "Start with the baby. Put Him right in the middle in front, and the rest of the pieces will fall into place." Considering this briefly, I said, "I believe there's a message in what you just said. 'Put Jesus in the middle of things and the rest will fall into place'."

Do you believe that's true? As Christians we know in our head this should be true, but are we able to do this in our hearts on a daily basis? How difficult is it to put Christ first in our lives?

I find it very difficult. I am a guy who wants to take charge and do things my way, and this has helped me often in my ministry. I've learned this trait is a gift from God so long as I don't get proud of it. Furthermore, I am often quite direct with God as to how I would like Him to answer my prayers and even to right the wrongs in the world.

But God doesn't always follow my suggestions. He's smarter than that. it's easy to think we have most of life figured out until reality changes things, and the world quickly becomes different. Then adage is really true, "Put Jesus in the middle of things and the rest will fall into place."

Maybe that's what He meant in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

May we all put Him in the middle of things this Christmas.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Carol and I are watching our grandchildren a few days while our son and daughter-in-law attend a Lutheran Teacher's Conference. This is something we love to do, as it connects us to God's little ones in an intimate way.

The Sunday before last we attended a contemporary worship service at their church in Phoenix to hear the preschool choir in which our youngest grandchild sings. As I looked around the gym and its 500 adults and children, it occurred to me that I could not pastor that church. The energy level there, the activity of parents and little ones, as well as the singing and technology required an energy level I no longer have. 

The pastor preached right to our needs. He walked back and forth, making biblical point after point about three words, “Repent, Forgive, Oneness,” how God calls us to repent of our sins, be forgiven and to forgive each other, so that we can become One with each other and also One with God. Those are words that people of any age need to hear, “Repent, Forgive, Oneness.” 

Then came the moment so many were there for, when the little ones came up front to sing. With them came an armada of parents and grandparents, bearing that bane of Lutheran Worship – cameras! So many wanted to capture the little ones as they sang, “If I Were A Butterfly.” I knew the adults were going to do this, and I had dreaded that moment. 

But as the little ones sang and wiggled their fingers and jumped up and down, I did something I did something not in my plans. I turned on my iPhone camera, held it up and took a few pictures for myself! Me, Pastor Bob, the icon of worship propriety, became enwrapped in the joy of the moment so I could keep a brief memory of the moment.

The following weekend I led worship at our church in Casa Grande with its pews full of quiet, gentle old folks. A few children attended with parents but no cameras were visible. Yet I still found joy there, the joy of God's people smiling, singing, praying and fellowshipping as redeemed and forgiven Christians can do so well.

Then came another revered Lutheran tradition, a Potluck in honor of Thanksgiving! And because Pastor and his wife are honored among the winter residents (and also because we were leaving early to help take care of our grandkids), we went to the head of the line and got to sample each dish! 

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus speaks of a great feast God's People will enjoy in the heavenly realms. What that time comes, I hope it will feature my favorite potluck dishes, as well as friends and family, and especially the joy of small children singing the delight of being alive in Christ. But no cameras will be needed because we will remember the moment forever.

Smile! God's camera is pointed at you!

Monday, November 18, 2013


What makes you afraid? Today’s politics? A bad relationship? Getting sick? Death? Public speaking? Maybe it's bugs. I once saw a T-Shirt that said, “The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself – And Spiders!”  Sunday marks the end of another Church Year. Sometimes we get fearful when things end, but the end is when we must trust God the most. 

Why trust God then? Because He is our fortress. He is our strength, and He is always there to help us, in our our sickness, troubles and pain, even in death itself. If God can protect us from sin, death and even from hell, how much more will He not care for us now, today? 

God is our fortress, so we need have no fear. That's what David said in Psalm 46, “God is our refuge (fortress) and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” God is with us, therefore, NO FEAR!

Did you know there is a “NO FEAR” brand of clothing? It was created in 1989 by the Simo brothers and Marty Moates. “NO FEAR” is a line of clothing and accessories inspired from extreme action sports, and it even offers a “NO FEAR” energy drink made by PepsiCola. "NO FEAR" has sponsored Martial Arts matches, Motocross Racing, Big Wave surfing in Hawaii and that incredibly dangerous sport, "Cage Fighting." On February 25, 2011, they filed for bankruptcy. They're still around, but it appears they've calmed down a little.

Much of what we fear today comes from our own making. We fear not having enough money, or we fear for our healthcare, or we fear harm from our enemies, even though we have more money, better healthcare and are safer than at any time in human history. Whatever we may fear, God is with us to calm our hearts, so we need not be afraid. God never leaves us. 

A doctor was making a house call on a sick man. He gave him medicine and special instructions because his illness was severe. As the Doctor was leaving, the man asked, “I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.” The doctor paused and said, “I don’t know.” “You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?" the patient asked. "How can that be?” 

The doctor was holding the door handle when they both heard scratching and whining from the other side. As he opened the door, a dog leaped into the room to the doctor. Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “This is my dog. He’s usually at home, and has never been in this room before today. He didn’t know what was inside, but he knew I was here. So when the door opened, he ran in without fear. This is how it is with me. I know little of what is on the other side of this life, but I do know one thing: my Master is there and I want to go to Him, and for me, that knowledge is enough.”

As one important thing ends or another begins, let us not be fearful. God is with us always. He is on both sides of the door of life, there to provide our needs, show us the way and care for us.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Today my computer told me there were several software updates awaiting installation. All I had to do was hit the right button and new things would come from somewhere out there in space to make my clever and useful gadget even more clever and useful. 

One thing we learn quickly from our electronics - there is always something better out there for us. No matter how good the machine or software, there is always room for improvement. 
That's how it is in life also. No matter how hard we try, there is always room for improvement. That might seem discouraging, but it should give even more reason to give thanks to God that our eternal life depends on Him, not on us. How could we ever get everything so correct that God would accept us into heaven based on our effort, no matter how much we have improved?
I like my computer, but it is four years old already. Apple has introduced two newer versions since I bought mine in 2010, and there are rumors all laptops will be replaced with new "touch technology" in a few years, some new concept I can't comprehend.
This year's "new and improved" model already has a newer version being developed. Our technology is obsolete the moment it is out of the box. And all this is to help us store, display, manipulate and create information, much of which we don't need for anything other than learn how to run our new equipment. 

Ten days ago I officiated at the burial of a former member who was also an Air Force Chief Master Sergeant and Viet Nam veteran. His family told me his favorite Scripture was John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." My message was titled, "The New Old Gospel." It was great to share with them God's simple plan of salvation, that it all depends on Jesus. He paid the price for our sins and lays salvation in our hands as a gift. We merely receive His new life in Christ by faith. 

Jesus said, in Revelation 21:5, "Behold, I am making all things new." How much newness do we really need in life? The world tells us we must continually upgrade. We must "download our updates" lest we be left behind. Perhaps my sainted parents asked this question when everyone they knew finally had push-button telephones and color TV. 
The Bible tells us heaven will not be complicated at all. There will be no more overload, no more pain,or anger, suffering, tears or discontent. We'll be in the presence of our loving God experiencing eternal joy, peace and contentment. Sound boring? Not to me. I long for it to come.

Are you ready for your heavenly upgrade?

Monday, November 4, 2013


In 1880 Richard was a young telegrapher in a northern Minnesota train station when a large crate arrived from the East. The crate contained dozens of pocket watches, and because no one came to claim it, Richard telegraphed the manufacturer, offering to sell the watches for half the profits. They agreed.

His station was not a busy place, so Richard had an idea and decided to try it. He sent a wire to every train station agent in the system asking them if they wanted a good pocket watch cheap. He was surprised when he quickly sold every one of watches at a handsome profit.

He ordered more watches and encouraged his fellow telegraphers to set up a display case in their station offering high quality watches for a low price. Word spread and before long both travelers and local people came to the train station to buy watches.

Richard rented a building, hired a man named Alvah to help him with the orders and added dry goods and other items for sale. Richard and Alvah did so well that they left their jobs and moved their company to Chicago where it still is in operation today, a hundred thirty-three years later.

It was all started when Richard Sears decided to leave his job as a telegrapher and take a chance selling watches, and Alvah Roebuck decided to leave his job repairing watches and go to work for Richard. We know their place as Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Sometimes we may look back and realize we missed a great opportunity. Maybe we really wanted to try a certain thing, but never felt courageous enough to do it. Maybe it meant leaving our job for another, but we didn't want to take the risk.

No one should feel guilty for not taking such a chance. Not everyone has the vision of Richard Sears or the skills of Alvah Roebuck. Let's not feel bad about what we didn't do. Life is not long enough to try all things, and not all things are worth trying.

Rather, let us trust in God for all things in life, give Him thanks for what He's done for us, and then do the best we can in life as we are able. Like the writer of Proverbs said, "Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way." (Proverbs 3:6, Good News Version)

Trusting in God might mean stepping out in faith to try something you never thought you could do. But it also might mean staying right where you are, as a loyal worker, a faithful spouse, a creative church member or a caring friend.

Whatever you decide to do, trust God, give Him thanks, and then do something good with the time you have left.

For some people, this is their life's motto, and they don't even know it.
Rev. Robert L. Tasler

Monday, October 28, 2013


"What are the advantages? What's in it for us?" People will ask this as they hear a salesman urging them to make a purchase, join a group or donate to a cause. "What do you get out of it? You will have special privileges as a Premier Member," says the announcer. "But will the advantages be worth the cost?" we ask as we decide what to do. There is always a membership cost to joining a group, unless that group is the Church, Family of God. 
Today on Facebook, I enjoyed seeing several baptismal photos of a little girl born to a young Christian couple I know. They were so proud and pleased to show their friends their tiny baby who had just received great eternal blessings as she was ushered into the Kingdom of God through the waters of Holy Baptism. 
Those pictures brought back memories of several baptisms when I was sponsor (Godparent) to children of family or friends. I thought of the host of little ones I had held as I sprinkled water on their little heads during Baptism in my ministry. I remembered especially the times I baptized my two sons, and later my three grandchildren. 
"What are the advantages of Baptism?" I was asked in an adult instruction class. The man had a good question. I could sense that if it was a mere formality for him, that he wasn't sure he wanted it. But when I told him that God provides eternal blessings of forgiveness, life and salvation through the water and Word, he became interested.
"Do I have to be baptized to be saved?" Another good question. "No," I said. "Faith in Jesus is what saves you, and not a holy ceremony. But if you trust Jesus as your Savior as you have said, would you want to do what He asks?" "Yes, of course," he said, "Remember that Jesus commands us to baptize all nations, and that includes you and me. The advantages of Baptism are eternal."
When a person is baptized, (s)he has special privileges as a Premier Member of the Family of God. The advantages of being in Gods Family far outweigh other costs. And your cost has already been paid. Jesus' death on the cross was the cost required for you and me to become members. Nothing more is required than what Jesus has already done for us. "Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) 

Welcome to your Premier Membership in Jesus!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Despite the casualness of the age in which we live, many feel people must say the right thing or suffer the consequences, so they choose not say anything at all. This can be true when someone dies. 

I once conducted a funeral for a popular church member and only half as many people attended as was expected. When I asked one member why he hadn't come, he said he didn't attend funerals often because he wasn't sure what to say. Rather than saying the wrong thing and possibly making the family feel worse, he avoided funerals all together. 

This is unfortunate. In times of loss, mourners will rarely remember what you may say, but they will remember that you were there. Attendance at funerals is declining, and I wish it were not the case. Just your being present is more important than whether you say the right thing. 

My first wife died in an auto accident when we were young, and many people attended her funerals, one in the congregation where I was serving and the other in her hometown. People there spoke words of comfort but I don't remember what they said. Someone afterwards said he heard awkward and inappropriate things spoken, but I didn't remember them. I just remember all the people who came. That's what really helped me and the boys.

In times of distress people rarely remember what we say, but they will remember that we were there. Family, friends and even strangers offer strength and comfort for our feelings of loss and loneliness. Their words may be appropriate or not, but their real gift is their presence.

Jesus didn't preach a sermon or raise the dead every time He attended a funeral. He helped people by His presence and even wept with the mourners (John 11:36, "See how He loved him.") In our losses, Jesus is always there with His comforting presence. Likewise, we can share our compassion simply by the gift of our presence. 

The next time you hear of a friend who has passed from this life, don't worry about whether your words to the survivors will be exactly what others think they should be. Just express them. Call the loved ones, write them or tell them your words of comfort in person. By doing so, you are being an ambassador for Christ to that person who needs to know His presence through you.

Your being there, even if you say nothing, says a lot!

Monday, October 14, 2013


This week's Sunday newspaper contained its usual fare of articles, ads and funnies, as well as a clip with the birthdays of notable people. In it I learned that songwriter/musician Paul Simon was seventy-two, and as I sat there with my coffee cup, my mind wandered back to my college days.

In the 1960s, I joined the Columbia Record Club and proudly received my initial albums for a few pennies. A couple of LPs were classical, but most were by pop groups protesting the Viet Nam war, promoting distrust of older generations, or proclaiming what a good society we'd have if we followed the songwriter's philosophy. 

I was in my twenties at the time, and one memorable album was called, "Bookends." It was performed by Paul Simon and Art Garfunckel and contained songs like "Mrs. Robinson," "At the Zoo," and "Save the Life of My Child." I can still remember the words to some of those songs.

Their signature number, "Bookends," had a haunting melody that I practiced repeatedly on my guitar but never quite mastered its chordal sequences. Some of its words were: "Old friends sat on their park bench like bookends... Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun... Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange to be seventy... Preserve your memories - they're all that's left you." 

Now Paul Simon is past seventy, and I wonder if he thinks about those words he wrote fifty years ago. I wonder if he would know that I and many others really do try to preserve our memories with photos and writings. And I would hope by now he realizes that memories are not "all that's left you."

We leave behind who we are, the life examples we've lived, and the faith in God we've come to believe. We leave behind our influences on the young, the aspirations that have moved us, and the challenges we've left for future generations. We Christians leave behind the mark our faith in God has made on us.

We also look forward to a new life with God, a complete life we can only fully know when it comes, an eternal life that comes to us by faith in Jesus. Whatever we may have experienced in life, the most precious thing we can leave or take with us from this life is our faith in Jesus. Without Him, all the rest is only memories that will fade and die.

Thanks be to God we have a living hope, a faith that will not let us down, for it is guaranteed by our Lord Himself. As St. Paul wrote, "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Do you have a special memory of a song? Were its words helpful?

Monday, October 7, 2013


(Check out my new website: BOOKS MAKE GREAT GIFTS!)

I've just finished reading KILLING JESUS by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. It is quite good in its historical and factual narrative, as well as its respect for the Lord Jesus. I read a lot of material these days, but only what's enjoyable. If I don't like a book, I don't feel the need to finish it. But this new book, as well as their others, KILLING LINCOLN and KILLING KENNEDY, held my attention well.

The authors treat Jesus and His times reasonably factually and use more biblical references than I expected. O'Reilly has been criticized for saying that he felt inspired to write this work. Others were upset because he didn't state Jesus was the Messiah and treated Him as merely a historical figure. But that wasn't the book's purpose.

This book is neither theology nor exhaustive history. It is a presention of their simple findings for the public to examine. I believe readers will benefit by seeing the circumstances surrounding Jesus' lifetime, as well as what He endured at the hands of those jealous of His influence. Books that honor Jesus help people, whether they agree with Him or not.

What we say outlasts us. Someone asked me if I found enjoyment in writing my e-books and paperbacks these past few years. She wanted to know what my purpose was in writing, and I appreciated that question. People write for a reason, whether to inform, to entertain, to express personal views, or to leave something of themselves behind.

I would add a fifth reason - enjoyment. Some people like to write. It gives me pleasure to craft words into sentences that express my thoughts. Someone asked if I made much money writing, and I chuckled. Between expenses and the books I give away, I am glad if there's any pocket change leftover.

I read so much online or even in the newspapers that hasn't been well thought out, especially articles that contain spelling or grammatical errors. All writers make their share of mistakes, but I enjoy reading what others write and hope others will enjoy my writings as well.

I encourage you to write, if you feel so inclined. Amazon's "CreateSpace" offers simple and cost-free guidelines for new writers, and people need not worry that the world is getting too cluttered with books. It's nice to know some of your thoughts may be passed on to people today or future generations tomorrow.

One would think with all the emails I send out during the year, my writings would sell well. But new authors rarely have great success, and that's to be expected. Knowing I've written a few worthwhile things for the public is reward enough.

I urge you to read books, whether they are in print electronically or on paper. KILLING JESUS is a good book, and worth your time. God's Holy Bible is the best book of all, as Psalm 119:105 tells us, "Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light to guide me."
Give thanks we still have freedom of speech in our nation!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Last Sunday we enjoyed a fine worship service by a young new pastor, and it lasted 90 minutes! That's a long time for a bunch of old Lutheran folks to worship, even when the sermon, liturgy and prayers are presented so well.

Someone wrote me last summer that some of my WEEKLY MESSAGEs were "getting rather long." He wanted me to make them "short and sweet." He didn't say, but maybe some of them had gotten too "long and sour!"

We live in an age of getting things quickly, with instant gratification in our technology and fast foods in our diet. More and more people would rather read a summary version than the book itself. Or maybe they'll until the book is made into a movie. Or maybe they'll read an electronic version of the book, that is, if they want to read at all.

Instant gratification can carry over into our Christian faith. Services lasting two or three hours were commonplace a hundred years ago, but they are the subject of jokes today. And sitting on hard, unpadded pews! How could they stand it? It is difficult for people to sit and wait so long, even for the blessings of God.

But even Jesus summarized things. In Matthew 22, some Pharisees asked Jesus “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment." 

Instead of listing just one commandment of the Ten, Jesus gave them the summary of the First Three Commandments, "Love God above all things." Short and sweet! Jesus knew the modern mind even long ago. 

This summary is first given in Deuteronomy 6:5 by Moses, the aged Israelite leader, who spent his last days reminding the people of God's blessings by delivering them from Egyptian slavery. Their delivery was miraculous, he said, so the people should "Love God above all things." Nothing is more important than that, whether in Moses' day or our own. 

How can we show that we love God above all things in our life? Maybe by slowing down a little when we're in the presence of God. What does it mean to love God? There are several kinds of love. Which kind of love does God show us each day?

Dear Father, thank You for delivering us from slavery to sin. Help us love and serve You, amen.


Saturday, September 21, 2013


Carol and I are in Arizona two weeks, and the nights here so far have been amazing. I was going to use the adjective "heavenly" but "Amazing" is more appropriate. The nights here are clearer, cooler and brighter, whether the moon shines or not, than any other place we have lived. It made me think once again of how amazing our planet earth is in relation to the rest of the universe.

Thirty-six years ago in 1977, the Voyager I spacecraft was launched on its way to the edge and beyond our solar system. In 1990, almost four billion miles from earth and at the very edge of our solar system, scientists turned its camera around and took pictures that revealed the earth as a "pale blue dot" among the mass of heavenly bodies in space.

Astronomer Carl Sagan requested NASA to take the photos, and they became the basis of his book, Pale Blue Dot. In his book he espoused his atheist views that the earth and mankind were insignificant, little more than specks in the cosmos. Despite the magnificence of the photos, he said earth is barely worth considering.

What Sagan failed to mention, however, was that this "pale blue dot" is unlike all other bodies. For example, it exists in a "Goldilocks zone." This means it is in a place that is not too hot, not too cold, but "just right." It is also not too far and not too close from other heavenly bodies, but "just right," and its gravity, moon, atmosphere, magnetic field and molten center are all "just right." Because of this "just right" placement among the planets, our earth can support complex human life, something that makes it absolutely unique.

No other planet in our solar system is so well situated to its "home star" as the earth is to the sun. No other planet has life such as we have it here, with seven billion people living, working, learning and growing such as is on our earth. No other heavenly body has people who write, sing, laugh, love or invent such as we humans do.

And most importantly, no other life forms, anywhere that we know of, have an almighty God who cares for them such as we do. In fact, there's no proof that any other life forms are even possible, because they do not live within a "Goldilocks zone." God has put us here, and that's a miracle in itself.

Even more amazing, we human beings, as frail and faulty as we are, are "Superstars" to our God. Psalm 8:3-5 tells us, "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,  the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor."

Think about it! God who by His Word created the universe, including the planet on which we live, created us and cares for us. He cares for us enough that He chose to send His only Son to be our Savior, so that we might live with Him forever. 

The next time it's a clear night where you live, go outside and look up at the moon and stars. Look up in wonder at God's creation, and praise Him that He crowned you with glory through the mercies of His Son Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord, thank You for caring for us, despite our doubt and unbelief! Amen!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Last week I spoke of construction mess, not realizing the flood mess coming to Colorado. Since last Tuesday, 20,000 Colorado homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed due to a storm system that stalled over the area for five days. We give thanks our area was spared flooding, but others were not so fortunate. The flooding Platte River cut farms and towns in half, including Ft. Morgan. Fortunately, their old "Rainbow Bridge," built in 1923, is still taking traffic, while the "new" bridge next to it is unusable.

Flood waters don't stand still. To say flood waters are destructive is an understatement. Flood damage as not caused by rising clean water. The flooding debris, trash and mud do that. Floating branches, backyard items, broken buildings and even cars destroy other structures along as the flood moves along. Roadbeds are torn apart, hillsides of mud slide down and culverts are washed out. Sewers pollute fresh water and homes are ruined.  If a flood was just rising clear water, that be bad enough. It's what the water carries that does the damage.

How very much like our life! It's not merely time or age that can hurt us, or even illness and accident. It's the garbage we carry along with us and release along the way. The bad decisions, hurtful words, destructive habits and evil acts can turn a safe, sedate life into a raging torrent that destroys individuals and families. The trash let loose during the storms of life has hurt more people than the storms themselves.

What can we do about it? For one, we can make sure we have as little buildup as possible. We can start by confessing the garbage of sin we pick up along the way. Ask for forgiveness rather than gloss over or hide bad things said or done. Stop doing what we know is unhealthy or immoral. Most importantly, we can call in the Trash Man so He can haul all the bad stuff away.

Jesus is our Trash Man, the Holy One who removes life's garbage whenever we ask Him. He will remove it from us as far as the East is from the West, and He does so by taking it to a landfill called Calvary where He will bury it forever.

We may not be able to avoid all floods, but Jesus is our lifeline through them. He is our "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," and He cannot be torn down. So long as we are in contact with Him by faith, we may be muddied, even threatened, but we will be okay. When you see the trash of life heading towards your bridge to the Lord, get rid of it. Make sure it doesn't destroy that precious lifeline with Him and His people.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Besides being a retired minister, I am a fledgling writer. I have seven E-Books on Amazon, and also a printed book, a short novel, MURDER AT PALM PARK, which you can see at:

This is a fun, short (140 pages), "whodunnit" mystery about a retirement RV park, and how a minister gets mixed up in solving the murder of the RV Park Manager.

I also have a second printed book on Amazon, a daily devotional book that is listed there called DAILY WALK WITH JESUSwhich you can see at:

This 380 page work will provide you with Christian devotional readings for each day.
You can find all of my books on amazon books by typing in my name.

Writing is my retirement hobby, and I hope I can bring some hope and a little joy to my readers. ALL THESE BOOKS MAKE GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFTS, so please keep that in mind as you look them over.

God's blessings to you all,

Rev. Robert L. Tasler
Castle Rock, CO, and Casa Grande, AZ

Friday, September 6, 2013


We had a hard rain a few days ago, and while driving through a new subdivision near our home, I saw dirt and clay from earth movers as they shaped new streets and lots. Trucks delivering materials left muddy tracks on the streets. Construction sites were littered with dumpsters filled with lumber, paper, rocks and all sorts of trash, so it was quite a mess. Even the newly started houses looked ugly with their insides exposed as they were being framed together.  

Yet this mess is necessary to have a finished product. When completed, those homes will be beautiful. New landscaping will make them look as if they are pictures in a home design magazine. Everything will be clean and neat for the new homeowners when they move in. During construction, however, the mess seems unmanageable, and we can't wait for it to end.

Our walk with God can be much the same. In life we must occasionally go through a messy period of confusion or disharmony. It is in those times that God is building a new part of life for us. He might be removing some old boards in our lives and replacing them with new ones. He might be adding another room. He might even be changing the shape of our lives altogether. But unless a messy time takes place, we will never see the new and improved version.  

The Lord’s goal is for us to become more like Himself. To achieve a change for the better will require removing all that is not from Him. It can be a painful and messy process, but in the end it will be worth it.

If God is allowing a mixed-up period in your life right now, just remember this time may be necessary in order to ensure something better for you. Like one woman said, “I embrace the mess!” You don’t have to like it or revel in it, but you can accept it and not consider it a tragedy. It's up to us to learn from what is happening in these times so that we might see the fulfillment of His purposes. 

 “My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2)

Embrace the mess, and then expect wonderful things to emerge from it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


(My paperback novel, MURDER AT PALM PARK, is now available at and Next week DAILY WALK WITH JESUS should be also available in paperback on those outlets.)

Have you ever make a mistake on an e-mail address? A Minnesota couple decided to go to Florida one cold winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier, so it would be fun.

Because of their different work schedules, it was difficult to come on the same flight. So the husband flew to Florida on Thursday, and his wife had a ticket to fly there Friday. The husband checked into the hotel, saw a computer in their room and decided to send his wife an email.

However, he omitted one letter in her email address, so the message was not sent to his wife, but to a widow in Houston who had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who'd died of a heart attack.

The widow checked her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends, and after reading the first message, screamed and fainted. Her son rushed into the room to help his mother and saw the e-mail message. It read:

"To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: July 19, 2013
I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and checked in. I've made sure everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.
-- Your loving husband
P. S. It sure is hot down here!"

Today's WEEKLY MESSAGE has little to do with Labor Day or our Faith in Christ, but I hope it has lightened your day just a little.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


When many people decide to work together towards a common goal, they can accomplish great things. In 1981, Herman Ostry and his wife bought a farm near Bruno, Nebraska. The property had a creek nearby and came with a sturdy barn built in the 1920's. Due to its location, however, the barn floor was always wet and muddy. Something had to be done or the barn would be unusable.

The barn needed to be on higher ground. Ostry contacted a building moving company but their bid was too high. One night around the table, he commented that if they had enough people they could pick the barn up and move it to higher ground. Everyone laughed.

A few days later, Ostry's son Mike showed his father some calculations. He had counted the individual boards and timbers in the barn and estimated the barn weight. He also estimated the weight of a steel frame to lift the building, calculating the total weight to be just under 10 tons. He figured it would take around 350 people with each person lifting 57 pounds to move the barn.

In 1988, the town of Bruno was planning its centennial celebration. Herman and Mike presented their barn moving idea to the committee, and its members decided to make it part of their celebration.

On July 30, 1988, shortly before 11 AM, 350 people, including women and several elderly men, picked up the barn and moved it 115 feet south and 6 feet higher up a gentle slope and set it on its new foundation. The actual move took less than a half an hour.

A Youtube video of this actual move is found at: It is true: when many people decide to work together towards a common goal, they can accomplish great things.

The two key terms here are "many people" and "common goal." If only a few do all the work, it cannot get done. And if they do not have a common goal, the number of people will not matter.

When many of God's people have a common goal, God makes miracles happen. They build hospitals, churches, colleges, nursing homes, schools and work at all kinds of worthy ministries.

It it estimated that there are 2.25 billion Christians living in the world today. Imagine the miracles God would bring about if all of them worked together, prayed together and worshipped Jesus Christ together.

"Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!" (Psalm 144:15)

Seeing 350 people work together is exciting!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Have you ever lost something valuable and didn't find it? Around our house, I am usually the one who finds lost things. If an earring is lost, or car keys, or cell phone or whatever, I am asked to find it and I usually do. In fact, I have found several very valuable things.

I read in a recent Reader's Digest of a woman named Lena who was tossing some stunted carrots from her garden onto her compost heap. Seeing something glitter, she picked up one of the carrots and found it had grown through a ring - her own long lost wedding band! Sixteen years earlier she had lost the ring and it had apparently had gotten mixed in some dust that ended up in her garden. She had given up all hope of finding it and had never replaced it. Now it had come back to her wrapped around a carrot!

Four years after we were married my wife and I had gotten a box of sweet corn from a member's field. Coming into the house, my she was alarmed to discover the diamond from her wedding ring had fallen out. She had no idea when it could have happened, so I retraced her steps carefully with a flashlight, beginning with where she was standing. I had taken only a few steps towards the garage door when I saw her half-carat diamond upside down on the floor right next to our clothes dryer. Another inch and it would have disappeared underneath, probably never to be found in the dust.

About ten years ago I conducted a funeral for a member who had an adult daughter in a wheelchair. During the fellowship after the service she noticed the large diamond was missing from her ring and told me of it. I asked where she had just come from, and she said the restroom. So I returned there and in less than a minute found the diamond on the floor, right next to the drain. Again, another inch farther and it would have disappeared forever down the drain.

Whenever I am able to find things, it reminds me of the woman who lost a coin and rejoiced when she found it again. Jesus told that story to illustrate the joy in heaven when a lost sinner returns to the Heavenly Father. He said, "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:7)

No matter how precious a thing may be to us, we are more precious to God our Father. He never wants His children to lose their way, but if one should, He sends His angels out to gather the lost one back. If you feel you have lost your way, look around for God. You will probably find Him already looking for your through one of His other children.

I hope you don't lose anything today!

Monday, August 12, 2013


What inspires us to make changes in our life? Is it what we see others do, or what is in our personal nature? Can we be a positive influence on others, depending on what they see us do? What causes us to do the things we do or make the decisions we make?

About a month ago new neighbors moved in next door. Like us they are a retired couple, so we are glad we'll have others around home during the week. They're friendly and when I'm outside in the yard, we always greet each other. He enjoys being outside and is always doing something to improve his yard or arrange his garage, activities with which I'm familiar.

On the other side of us live friendly neighbors too, but their yard is not a high priority. He mows the front yard a few times a summer, but they have yet to mow their backyard since moving in five years ago. It's getting a bit like the wild kingdom back there with dead branches, tree roots heaving up the lawn and tall weeds I don't recognize. At first this irritated me, but then I realized it was his decision, not mine, and it's better to be friendly than critical.

So I have one neighbor who's tidy and one who's not. I keep our yard as trimmed and green as I can make it for this climate. I don't believe seeing our trimmed yard is going to influence either neighbor much, because the condition of their yards shows their attitudes about yard work. My wild kingdom neighbor just got married recently, and perhaps this will have an affect on his back yard. We'll wait and see.

So, what inspires us to make changes in our life? Is it what we see in others, or what is in our personal nature? Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." He believed that people can change what they do and also what they believe when they see Christians displaying God-pleasing virtues. 

I don't know whether or not my wild kingdom neighbor will begin to keep up his yard better, but it won't affect how I keep ours up, and it won't change my attitude towards him. Kind words and acts will show our faith more than how green our lawn is. Being a good neighbor in word and deed will show our faith in action. 

How are you letting your light shine in your neighborhood?

Monday, August 5, 2013


A man hailed a taxi to take him to the airport. They were moving into the right lane when a big car suddenly pulled out of a parking space right in front of them. The taxi driver slammed on his brakes and missed the other car only by inches!

The driver of the other car stuck his head out the window and shouted angry words at them. The taxi driver smiled and waved at the guy. The passenger was amazing that his driver was so cool about this, so he asked, "How could you do that? That guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!"

The driver responded, "He's just a garbage truck. Some people run around full of the garbage of anger and stupidity, and they need a place to dump it, so they dump it on you. The secret," he said, "is don't take it personally. Smile, wave at them and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it around."

That taxi driver was a smart man! Contented people don't let garbage trucks take over their day. Life is too short to let the foolish actions of others ruin your day. There are better things to do than absorb other people's garbage. It's better to avoid the garbage trucks and live the way you want to, not with what is thrown at you. Life is half what you make it and half how you take it. 

During his three-year ministry, Jesus had piles of garbage dumped on Him and it came mostly from angry religious people who should have known better. But instead of reacting with more anger, He usually walked away. When they tried to trick Him, He ignored them or re-directed their words back at them. He had better things to do than walk around in their garbage.

Jesus' main work was to show people God's love in the Kingdom of God. This He did best on Calvary, the ugliest landfill in human history. He showed us what God wanted to do with human garbage, turning it into a blessing for us. Instead of dumping back on us, He forgave us, and poured out His grace on us. 

That's amazing grace from our amazing God.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Christians believe God is all-powerful. We confess in the Apostle's Creed, "I believe in God the Father ALMIGHTY." We learn in the Bible that our God is OMNIPOTENT, meaning He is more powerful than all other gods and the most potent force in the universe.

But how does God use His power? And what does it mean for Him to have power? Does power mean only that He rules over us or has the power to give or to take life?

If a person has done something deserving of death, the person that takes his life is not really exercising power. Punishing someone who has broken a rule or committed a crime is exercising justice, not power.

Power is truly exercised when the one in authority chooses to pardon the wrongdoer rather than punish him. Having ultimate power and not using it is a most powerful force. In that sense God is truly all-powerful.

God chose to use His power to pardon sinners rather than punish them. Yet because He is also a God of justice, He must still punish the sins. This He did by punishing His only Son Jesus on the cross.

When Christ was crucified, He took on Himself the punishment of our sins and the sins of the world. The almighty Father placed the sins of the entire world on His only Son. We should be on the cross, but Jesus took our place instead. God's justice was satisfied by the death of Christ, rather than our death.

God created the world and all of complex life, including human life. That shows His omnipotence, His all-powerful nature. But the greatest example of God's almighty power is shown when He chose to pardon sinners rather than punish them.

How do you exercise power in your life? With money? By giving or withholding love? By enforcing rules? Or do you feel you are powerless? Whatever the case, we have a Savior who has earned our pardon on the cross. And for that we praise and thank Him.

"For our sake God made Him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

How can you exercise power in your life now?

Monday, July 22, 2013


Jesus' parable of "The Good Samaritan" is known the world over in nearly every culture. I thought of it this past Sunday when my car quit just off the Interstate. I was on my way with Carol to conduct a church service, so I called a friend to take me to the church while Carol waited for the AAA truck to haul our car to the nearest dealership. 

I stood at a busy intersection waiting for my ride about fifty feet from my obviously "dead car" wearing a clerical collar, holding my clergy garment bag, my brief case in hand. During that thirty minutes, at least a hundred cars stopped at the light where I was, but no one offered assistance. I should not be surprised. Consider this true story:

Some years ago an experiment was conducted at a seminary. Researchers gathered a group of seminary students in a classroom and gave them all an assignment. Their assignment was to record a speech about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The speech would be in a building on the other side of the campus, and because the speech was to to be given soon, they all needed to hurry over to that building. 

Unbeknownst to the students, on the path to that other building, researchers had planted an actor to play the part of a dirty vagrant, slumped next to a sidewalk, coughing and gagging. The students were attending a presentation about the Good Samaritan. What would happen if they actually encountered someone in need? 

Not one of them stopped to help! All of them rushed past the hurting man to their assignment. One student even stepped over the man's body, then hurried to the speech!

We should not look down at these students because we may well have done the same. Simply knowing in our minds what the right thing is to do does not mean we will do it. 

If we are going to be Good Samaritans today, it will mean more than a change of our mind. It will take a change of our heart. And that's what Jesus’ parable is really all about - a change of heart.

That is why Jesus said, "Go and do likewise!"