Sunday, December 27, 2015


        A pastor once asked his youth to write the Christmas Story as if it had happened today. The following is a compilation of their stories:
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         "Years ago an angel came to girl named MaryAnn who was living out in the desert over by Yuma. The angel said she would have a child who would be God's Son. The angel also talked to Joey, the guy she was engaged to, so he’d know she wasn't cheating on him. They got married in a little church ceremony. Several months later the State of Arizona sent Joey a notice about unpaid taxes, so he said they’d have to go up to Phoenix to clear things up. They got in their old Chevy pickup and drove north on the rough back roads because Joey's license plates had expired.
         "As they were driving towards Phoenix late at night, MaryAnn went into labor. They were near a boarded-up motel on the edge of the Reservation, so Joey stopped there and broke a door open in one of the rooms. MaryAnn gave birth to a baby boy right there on a dusty old bed. They named him Josh.
         "Some truckers came by and said someone radioed them that a baby had just been born there. They shared their sandwiches and coffee, gave them some blankets and directions to a motel over in Maricopa. Later that night some men in suits on their way to the casino had a flat tire there on their van. When they heard the baby crying, they came to the room. They felt sorry for Joey and MaryAnn and gave them a wad of cash, a bottle of booze and a carton of Camels.
         "A few days later Sheriff Joe Arpaio heard there was a group in Maricopa planning to impeach him, so he sent a SWAT team to the motel. But MaryAnn and Joey had already left to visit relatives in New Mexico. They stayed there long enough for Joey to earn money to rent a better apartment back home. The truckers told people what they’d seen, but MaryAnn remembered everything about the trip."

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         Maybe that’s how it might have happened, if Jesus had been born today.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


        Mary’s delivery of her first child was anything but idyllic. The sentimentality which centuries of Christian imagination have given us surely covers the reality of the silent night and the day which followed.
It’s usually assumed that Joseph helped her deliver the child, but that would not have been the case. Strict Jewish rules prohibited men from assisting women in childbirth. Galilean woman, even those who were young, prided themselves in self-birth, so the young wife Mary would do the best she could, while Joseph would do only as much as he was allowed to ease her pain that night.
The day following would not have been restful, despite their location. Joseph needed to find food and would have sought a better place for them in the days to come. People other than the visiting shepherds would have come and gone, feeding animals or taking them out and bringing them in as needed.
Mary’s Christmas was certainly a time of wonder. It is for every mother who sees and cares for her firstborn. Many questions would have come, and she may have asked Joseph to bring another woman to the stable for help and advice. She also may have wondered how she was adequately going to mother the new infant the angel had called Immanuel, “God With Us.” Mary must have asked herself many times, “Who is this child and what will His future be?”
Today, two thousand years later, each of us needs to ponder similar questions, “Who is He and what will my future be with Him?” The importance of His birth, His life, His suffering and death, His resurrection, and His promise to return is of greatest importance to us all.
Take time today to ask God to help you know and appreciate what He has done for you in providing you a personal relationship with His only Son. Give thanks Mary and Joseph have given you a glimpse into the face of God.

“Mary pondered all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Monday, December 14, 2015


        In Wellington, Florida, when someone stole the figurine of the Baby Jesus from a public nativity on the lawn of the community center for the second year in a row, they didn’t follow a star to find him. Instead, they used a GPS tracking device placed inside the life-sized statue. Because the statue was valuable, the city gave permission for police to place a electronic tracking device inside the replacement figurine. When the Baby Jesus figurine disappeared again, Sheriff’s deputies were led by the signal to the thief’s apartment and arrests were made.
        Instead of metal chains and padlocks to protect their valuable holiday display items, organizations were offered the use of GPS and security camera devices to protect mangers and menorahs, and seventy churches and synagogues responded. “They took the family Jesus!” said Gloria Herrera. “How can anybody do that?”
        Has Jesus been stolen from Christmas? Many are certainly trying to do so. I’ve heard soldiers overseas in Muslim nations cannot receive Christian Christmas cards any longer because they offend people there. Schools and colleges regularly bar Jesus from His own birthday celebration. One store had a nativity with a little Santa in the manger. How can we find Him again when everything seems to be hiding Him at Christmas?
        Like a spiritual GPS, the Bible can guide us to God’s presence and love. The Bible tells us "the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness" (Romans 8:27) and that "if God is for us, so who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) The chapter concludes that "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:38-39)
        Whether we look for Jesus in a manger or in our hearts, we can be filled with joy because He has risen from the dead and lives and reigns with all His faithful people. The Bible is where you can find Jesus now and every Christmas.

Focusing always on Jesus will keep us from losing Him.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Dear friends,
           Another week has come and gone with yet another terrorist act, this time in California. Again we have watched with concern, compassion and not a little weariness the reports of the first responders and the reactions of those who were there and knew the injured or the dead. And again most of us have wondered what it all means for today and when it will happen again, because we know it will.
          One new wrinkle this time came in the criticism by elements of the press of those who said they were praying for the injured and families of the deceased and also for our nation. This provoked a brief debate about the propriety of expressing "thoughts and prayers" about the killings, and it was accompanied by the usual backlash over the state of America's gun laws.
          But this time the debate was ratcheted up a notch. A New York Daily News headline proclaimed, “God Isn’t Fixing This,” and referred to those expressing prayers as cowards who hid behind meaningless platitudes. The point of the News article was that prayer was merely an avoidance tool that keeps us from passing legislation that could “truly end the gun scourge,” which would presumably end terrorist acts as well. In other words, the writers think prayer is hiding us from relying on the true god, Big Government.
          Christians have always urged prayer to God, and critics of religion have always felt people can solve problems better. While it’s true God can and probably will use people in His solutions, prayer is not the coward’s way out. Indeed, prayer is often the most courageous thing to do. When the arguments have been exhausted and the ammunition has run out, prayer still remains. Soldiers in foxholes or captives in offices know what I mean. The last cry of a mortally wounded person is never for more legislation.
          We can talk about God or we can talk to God. Those who believe and trust in Him will talk to Him, argue with Him, and maybe even be angry with Him. But they will not stop talking to Him in prayer. Those who talk about God will tend to criticize Him or those who trust Him.
          And not just some generic form of God. Allah is not just another name for the God of heaven and earth. Actually, Allah is the name of a moon god the Babylonians abandoned a thousand years before Muhammed resurrected and re-shaped him in the Seventh Century AD. Despite Muslim denial of this, Allah is a small-time player pushed into the Big Leagues by a frustrated Arab.
          I urge you to talk to the true God of the Bible instead of merely about Him. He does listen to you, and He will help you, despite what secularists may say. He did send His only Son to die for our sins and promises heaven to those who trust Him. It is not wise to abandon the Creator of the Universe due to threats of evil people who would rather kill than show you kindness. God can and will help us in all our times of need.

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act.” (Psalm 37:5)

Rev. Bob Tasler