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