Sunday, August 20, 2017

AMAZING SUN GAZING

      Weekly Message comes to you a day early because I don’t want to miss our part of the solar eclipse as it comes to the United States tomorrow. In Colorado we’re not in the middle of the path, so local newscasters tell us all roads north will be clogged as the 565,000 population of Wyoming may double for a day or two. It makes sense for most of us in Colorado to watch it on television like most of you will.
      A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes perfectly between the sun and earth so that its shadow blocks all the direct sunlight except its corona. The sun and moon must be in correct alignment, and the moon’s elliptical orbit must bring it to an exact distance from the earth. Without all these and other divinely ordained alignments, there could be no total eclipse.
      What we will look up and see Monday, whether all or in part, will not occur again here for decades. America has had many total eclipses, but not one so broadly stretching across our continent. Total eclipses like this one are really quite rare.
      As I see it in person or on television, I will be thinking of the psalmist who wrote, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens… 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?” (Psalm 8:1, 3-4)
      God has made humans the highest of His creation, and if we are fortunate Monday’s event may even momentarily take our minds off national and international intrigue. At least for a day or so, journalists and politicians must relinquish their bully pulpits so the rest of us can look up and see something divinely ordained, three celestial orbs all in agreement. That alone should be proof of God’s divine handiwork.
      We humans work so very hard to master knowledge in our quest to make the amazing ordinary. Yes, mankind has advanced far, but this kind of event, designed by God and freely seen by so many millions, should tell us we still have a long way to go.
      But whatever we may know, God’s entering human history through Jesus is the event that defines everything else. In His Son Jesus, God offers us a look at His power, beauty and mercy. Most incredibly, He offers us place in His family for eternity. Nothing tops that.
      Given our knowledge and faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit, even the most intelligent of us should stand in awe as we see this eclipse. We live on a delicately balanced world in its time and place in the universe. We are given a place by God where we are able to “live, move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Because of that, we should join the Psalmist saying,
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A KNOCK AT THE DOOR

        Ever hear a knock at your door and wonder who it is? We live in a quiet Cul de sac and one evening heard a loud knock on our door. It was a salesman wanting to know if we would be interested in his services. After his rapid exit, Carol asked if there was a better way to see who’s on the other side of our door. Our door viewer was old and blurry, so I installed a new one with a clearer, wider view of who’s on the other side.
        These days, we need to know more than ever who’s on the other side of our door, with shady characters, politicians, and the noise of nations that can unnerve us. We fervently pray the noises outside will not be the sound of war, and we trust God that the leaders of all nations will be led by wisdom and common sense. 
        When David was attacked by his son Absalom in a revolt, he pleaded in Psalm 3:7-8, Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May Your blessing be on Your people.” Quite a combination of fear and faith from a king!
        In our age of clever technology and ever-expanding knowledge, I find it amazing that we cannot have peace between nations. Use of nuclear arms can bring horrendous destruction to so many, so far away and so fast. We pray God will protect us, especially since we seem to have learned so little. 
        The reason for all this is, of course, mankind’s sinful condition. Sin gives us all a weakness in our souls that keep us selfishly fighting each other. We cannot blame the North Koreans or Islamic terrorists alone for our current situation. Our human condition propels us selfishly to want our own way and take risks trying to get it.
        In the midst of fighting a war against his own son, David showed his faith in God, “Let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Psalm 5:11)
        To keep all humanity from total destruction, God gave us His only Son so that we may take refuge in Him and His sacrifice on the cross for us. Without Jesus, life would be hopeless. But with His mercy, we have strength for each day and hope for the future.

Like King David, may our leaders also be led by Almighty God!


Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, August 7, 2017

DEALING WITH LEAKS

        We’ve recently heard much about government “leaks”, secrets being told for the purpose of revealing information we’d otherwise not know or care about. Leaks of this type wield power over others, because knowledge is power, especially if it is something someone doesn’t want known. Government leakers want the world to know what they know, so they wield their power. 
        There is another kind of leak, however, that is also irksome, and perhaps more dangerous. It’s the kind when water leaks out of a pipe and into a wall or room. If that leak is unknown, over time it can be far more damaging than one that is known. I’ve had leaks in the past and am dealing with one now. 
        The first leak came years ago when a water supply tube broke behind a toilet tank and sprayed a gallon or two onto the bathroom floor before I got the valve turned off. Damage was limited to a few ceiling tiles in the basement and a new supply tube. Another time a ceiling pipe sprung a leak and quietly dripped water into the basement over a period of weeks. Damage was extensive with ruined wallboard, carpet and worse of all, mold.
        A third leak I am dealing with now. With our recent hard rains, water has been dripping in over my office window. It had dripped in before, but I had ignored it. Now any hard rain results in water on my desk. Hopefully my fourth caulking yesterday has done the trick and we won’t have a wet desk again.
        Our sins resemble those water leaks. Some foolish things we do are easily seen and heard, but our secret sins are unknown until their damage becomes apparent. No matter what we think, sin will show itself, and we dare not forget that “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). No matter how successful we are in hiding, ignoring  or denying our sin, it will show itself and it will hurt us badly. 
        Thanks be to God that Paul didn’t stop with those six words from Romans! He continued, “But the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  When we realize our sins and ask Christ for forgiveness, He will remove them. When we trust in Jesus, our sins will not become fatal. 
        I pray all the foolish and selfish government leaks will stop, and I further pray all those little quiet sins in my life will stop, also. I am grateful Jesus has forgiven them and I pray He will help me avoid them in the future.

I also pray my office leak stops, too.


Rev. Bob Tasler, wwwbobtasler.com

Monday, July 31, 2017

IRONING OUT THE DETAILS

        This past Saturday morning a friend stopped by to pick up two of my devotionals and caught me putting away my ironing board. Yes, I told her, I do the ironing here at home, as well as vacuuming and occasionally windows. Carol does the other more important things around the house, but not ironing.
        I am not ashamed to admit I enjoy making shirts and pants look good, and it began when I went away to college. As I was the youngest and ready to leave home, Mom helped me pack a suitcase and Dad arranged for a ride to get me to Concordia College in St. Paul. One of the things Mom did the day before my departure was teach me how to iron clothing. “You’ll need to know this,” she said, as she imparted the basics of using an ironing board.
        Ironing was not only helpful for my minimal wardrobe, it also became a source of spending money. Seven shirts took about an hour, so I charged fifteen cents a shirt (or seven for a dollar. Dad often said a dollar an hour was good money). And the fabrics back then were much harder to work with than they are today. College men those days wore dress shirts to class, so word soon got out there was a fellow in Walther Hall who knew how to use an ironing board on Saturday mornings.
        Surprisingly, I learned to enjoy it. Ironing wasn’t hard work, and people were usually happy that I could make their shirts and pants look reasonably nice.
        Furthermore, the principles behind taking out wrinkles seemed to fit well with my growing concept of forgiveness. We regularly come to God with our dirty clothing, and He cleans it for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. If we ask Him, the Holy Spirit helps us iron out the wrinkles of life so we can live more like Jesus, and maybe not mess things up so much up the next time. Of course, being sinful people, we’ll always have personal laundry to do this side of heaven.
        A stretch of a metaphor? Perhaps, but one that comes to mind without fail every time I set up the board and plug in the iron. But don’t misunderstand me. I am not looking for business like I was back in the days when three to four dollars a week was respectable spending money for a college boy just off the farm.

“Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, July 24, 2017

YOU GET GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR? REALLY?

        How often have you heard it said, “You get what you pay for.” But old Ernie Johnson didn’t think it was true. He’d always bought on the cheap side because he truly believed “expensive” was only made so by the greed of the seller. “There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the most expensive one and the cheapest.” he’d often said. And Ernie was proud his philosophy hadn’t ever been proven wrong (except a few times he won’t talk about).
        One day, as he was getting ready to join his wife who’d gone ahead to visit her sister, Ernie saw she’d already taken their only suitcase, so he went to town to buy a new one. At a crossroads along the way, he saw a pickup loaded with items and a sign, “FOR SALE.” So Ernie stopped to see what they had. And there it was, a brand new zipper suitcase. It was a big one and Ernie knew he could put a lot in it.
        Imagine how fast he got out his wallet when he saw the price tag - $4.89! He gave the guy a $5 dollar bill (“Keep the change, Bud”), took it home, packed it tight, and the next morning had a friend take him to the bus station (“Why drive when you have friends?”) Ernie proudly handed his new suitcase to the bus driver who tagged it and tossed it by the storage door where it promptly exploded! All the zippers on his new $5 suitcase (both of them) had ripped open at once and Ernie’s private things went flying everywhere. Totally embarrassed as he picked up his things, Ernie was certain he heard someone say, “You get what you pay for!”
        There is a time, however, when that saying is completely untrue. It is when it is applied to forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness comes to us free, with no price tag for us to pay. Jesus has already paid the price in full on Calvary’s cross, and it’s the most expensive price of all because it cost Him His life. Yet our Lord didn’t quibble about the expense. He didn’t complain about the price. He just paid it. And because He did, we are blessed forever.
         The apostle John has written, “The blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) Because Jesus died and rose again, all believers get the precious gift of eternal life.

Thanks be to God WE get what HE paid for.

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, July 17, 2017

SUMMER TRAVELS WITH JESUS

        Summer is travel time for many of us with vacations, weddings, camping trips and going to the lake or the mountains to escape the heat. I got a note from a sister-in-law who travels a lot to her family, and she suggested maybe I should write a short devotional booklet for travelers. I may just do that. If so, I might include the following thoughts:
        Despite our modern means of rapid travel, there are some similarities with traveling in days of old when people rode in wagons, on animals or even walked. Moses led his people through the wilderness for 40 years, but I wonder how he might have dealt with a modern airport terminal. Since he'd never been to Denver International before, he might wonder where is that rock to hit to get a drink of water. Or if and when his flight is delayed, he might have wondered where there’s a cave to bed down for the night. Or a private place on the floor behind some fake green bushes.
        What little manna and quail he’d get would come from those boring little bags of peanuts and pretzels showered upon him, but only during the flight. And while Moses did have to fight a few hostile tribes now and then, he didn’t have to deal with TSA and their ever-growing list of airport security measures. Being required to take off certain clothing might have moved him to draw his sword in protest, that is, if it hadn’t already been taken from him before he got to the X-Ray machine.
        If Moses were herding his favorite camels on an interstate, he’d have to deal with trucks, speeding drivers and road construction. Perhaps he’d get a citation from the Highway Patrol, strategically parked to keep caravans from entering construction zones without “Slow-Moving Vehicle” signs on the back of his animals. It’s certain they wouldn’t give him any speeding tickets. 
        We are all travelers in life, making our way between the infinities, from birth to death and beyond. Praise be to God He promises to go with us as we travel, no matter where we are. Jesus is our constant companion, reminding us we need not fear, for there is no condemnation for those who trust Him. 
        Even that $450 speeding ticket can’t deter us from getting to our goal, our Heavenly Home. “Lo, I am with you always,” He said, “Even unto the end of your journey.” (Matthew 28:20, PBV)

Be sure to study your Road Map and keep it with you on your trip!


Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, July 10, 2017

SINGING WITH STEWART BOONE

        Last Tuesday, July 4, 2017, the pre-game ceremony between the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds began with the announcement, “There will be no vocal soloist for the National Anthem. The audience is invited to sing along as it is played by Stewart Boone.” 
        While the anthem has been played many times at baseball games by many instrumentalists, few would do it as memorably as Mr. Boone, age 92, sitting in his wheelchair and proudly wearing his American Legion uniform. 
        Boone served in World War Two, part of the 924th Field Artillery Battalion that fought in the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge. It was Germany’s last effort to defeat the Allies, and became one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Boone’s 99th Infantry Division lost 59 of its 70 American soldiers, and whenever Boone plays his trumpet for public occasions, it is in memory of the Army buddies he lost there. “I have a little job that’s ongoing in creating memories for those who have served,” he said. 
        Stewart Boone began playing the trumpet at age 5, using an instrument his father received as payment for work. By 14, he was playing for military funerals, and he estimates in the years since then he’s played the National Anthem and “Taps” more than 1,200 times for public events. “I play every opportunity I get,” he said. One could see his pride, as he sat erect in his wheelchair and proudly played our nation’s song with hardly a mistake. 
        Having also played a band instrument and knowing the breath control it requires, I couldn’t help being amazed at the quality of his performance. I wondered whether I, twenty years younger than he, would still have enough lung power left to play as confidently as he did. 
        The Apostle Paul told the Colossian Christians in chapter 3, verse 17, Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 
        I do not know Mr. Boone’s religious beliefs, but being part of the “Greatest Generation” as he is, I would imagine part of his motivation is to give thanks to God that he made it home alive after that terrible battle. His playing certainly honors those who have served as he did, especially those who didn’t make it home. 

What can you do today to give thanks to God in the name of Jesus?


Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.come 

Monday, July 3, 2017

A BLACKBERRY MOMENT

        Ernie Johnson, Jr. is a sportscaster and son of Ernie Johnson, Sr., former Major League relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves. Senior played alongside teammates Warren Spahn and Hank Aaron, and pitched against the likes of Stan Musial, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson. He later went to the broadcast booth and took many opportunities to share some amazing moments with his listeners.
        Senior’s favorite story, however, wasn’t about the giants of baseball, but about his son Junior when the boy was in PeeWee baseball. It happened during a break in a sandlot game when the ball had bounced over the fence into the lot next door. The coach, pitcher and infielders had finished their conference on the mound, and were getting ready to play when someone noticed two of their outfielders had gone missing. 
        Junior, the center fielder, and the left fielder had climbed the fence to retrieve the missing baseball when something over there caught their eye, a ripe blackberry patch. So while the infielders had been getting instruction from the coach, the two outfielders were harvesting whatever delicious fruit they could reach with their skinny arms. 
        This delay later became known the Johnsons as the “blackberry moment.” It represented a time of briefly stepping away from the game (i.e. job, meeting, difficult task, or other pressing matter at hand) to follow something more interesting, unexpected and better. 
        Have you ever had a “blackberry moment” in your life? Was there a time you were side-tracked by the unexpected and were blessed by it? Or maybe you’ve taken a chance briefly doing something seemingly less important but much better, more fun or fulfilling? 
        From time to time our Lord places in front of us certain people, events or sights that may never come again, and our reaching out to them becomes a lasting blessing or memory. Like the time in 1968 I happened to be in Washington, DC, picking up a friend, and ended up standing along the Reflection Pool across from the Lincoln Memorial with tens of thousands of others as a motorcade carrying the body of Robert F. Kennedy passed by. Or the Sunday I sat down in the only empty chair in a Bible Class, right next to a pretty woman in a green dress who later became my wife. 
        God gives us occasional opportunities with blessings that may never come again. It could be lending a helpful hand to someone in need, or speaking a kind word to a stranger, or giving an unexpected but needed gift. Will we step aside from the normal and seize the “blackberry moment” or let it pass us by? Moses told his people during the sabbatical (seventh) year to forgive a debt, or help neighbor in need, And the Lord your God will bless you, as He promised you.” (Deuteronomy 15:6)

Enjoy your Fourth of July,

Rev. Bob Tasler, wwww.bobtasler.com
(Story of the Johnsons from Reader’s Digest, July/August, 2017, p 36-38)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

WOULD YOU TAKE IN REFUGEES?

            My mother and father’s families came to America around the turn of the 20th Century as immigrants. History tells us most people have migrated to other lands as refugees seeking safety, sustenance and a better life. They may not have wanted to leave their homes, but in order to live they were forced to.
            Nursing a coffee in a small cafe in Berat, Albania, Nevila Muka recalled the effects the 1990s Kosovo War had on her country. To escape the death and devastation of war, more than 500,000 Kosovo refugees fled to Albania. Muka hadn’t only observed the mass exodus from a distance, she had lived in it.
            “It’s a strong Albanian tradition to welcome strangers,” she said, “In the old times, if you were a traveler or seeking refuge, you could knock on the door of a house and ask, ‘Head of the house, do you want guests?’ And the owner would have to take you in. We actually took in a family,” Muka said.
            “I was young, so I played with their kids a lot. They were really good bakers and made the best bread I’ve ever tasted.” “Didn’t that ever get difficult?” Muka was asked. “Not really for us,” she replied, “since we had enough. But for many families it was a struggle. Some barely had enough to support the refugees and even went into debt doing it. But they would never turn anyone away.” When asked why, she said, “It’s Besa, the Albanian way.”
            Besa is an Albanian code of conduct that dictates generous hospitality. If someone comes to you looking for help, you give them a place to stay. It is based on the concept that, “Before the house belongs to the owner, it first belongs to God and to the guest.” This concept might also apply to citizens of a country.
            Unknown to most, Albania was the only European country to emerge from WWII with a larger Jewish population than it had at the start, saving nearly all of its original Jews while offering refuge to more than 2,000 others from surrounding countries. Despite pressure from Italian and Nazi fascists, the Albanians refused to yield their guests to the enemy.
            Although some of the more rigid aspects of Besa today have lost their hold with the passage of time, this sense of dutiful hospitality has endured in the Albanian people, and the Kosovo War of the 1990s provided proof.
            Hebrews 13:2 tells us, Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” There may seem many reasons today to distrust refugees, but perhaps we might ask ourselves, “What would Jesus want us to do?”

Would you be willing to open your home to strangers in need?

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, June 19, 2017

FATHER'S AND SONS TOGETHER

        Yesterday son Chuck and I were privileged to present the Father’s Day message at Christ Lutheran, Phoenix, where Chuck teaches. He and I presented a dialogue, “Fathers and Sons Together”, at their four Sunday morning services. Since I’m weary from the “red-eye” weekend flights, I am not going to write something new, but quote some of what I said.
        “As earthly fathers, we make mistakes, plenty of them. But our children can learn a lot from how they see us handle our mistakes. Psalm 103 says God knows us inside and out and still loves us anyway. Fathers and sons are grateful God does this for us. Following Jesus helps us be better persons. God loves us in spite of our sins and forgives us because of Jesus. He loves us no matter who we are or what we’ve done, and for that we are most thankful. 
        “Father’s Day is a good time to give thanks for our families, and also to remember we have two fathers, an earthly father and a Heavenly One, too. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” God knew even before we were born that He would bring us into our earthy families as well as His holy family in the Christian Church. All this is from His amazing grace, and it has given us incredible blessings here on earth and hereafter in eternity.”
        God has blessed me with two fine sons, and also two loving families, our earthly dear family and our spiritual church family. Chuck was my “driver” Sunday, as I also helped install a new pastor at our winter congregation, Christ Lutheran, Coolidge, AZ. Being with my son, his wife and children, and presenting the Gospel during worship made this Father’s Day memorable, a once-in-a-lifetime event. 

Thank You, Father, for giving us two families,

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, June 12, 2017

THE TIMES AREN'T A-CHANGING

      There is a saying: “What goes around comes around.” I think that means what we do now may come back to haunt us. It could also mean what the Bible says about the sins of the fathers being visited on the children. It could even mean something questionable done long ago returns again, this time as fashionable.
      When our boys were born in North Dakota during the 1970s, we had to drive sixty miles to the Bismarck hospital for their delivery. When Brian was born, his older brother Charles wanted to play with his Mommy on the way home, so little Brian was relegated to sleeping in a cardboard grocery box in the back seat for the trip. 
      This morning I read a trend has now become fashionable in Scandinavian countries, hospitals giving new parents baby items in a box that can double as its first bed. Several American states are starting their own baby box giveaway programs as well, with, of course, advice and instructions on safe box usage. We can all be sure there are already rules drawn up so the government can regulate our baby box use. Maybe this will even merit a new Cabinet position.
      Imagine the horror expressed if anyone today did what we did back in 1974 - drove those sixty miles without little Brian being strapped into an approved car seat! In those days seat belts and car seats were seen as optional. And while I’m certainly not advocating that practice again, it illustrates another use of the saying, “What goes around comes around.” 
      I just published The Searching Disciple, a study on Ecclesiastes which begins with the words, “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc. 1:9) In it, the writer says history just repeats itself, so don’t get your hopes up. But his thinking is tainted by his cynicism and especially by not knowing there is a Messiah to come who will deliver us from the sins of the past. As we learned back in the sixties, “There’s no new morality, just old immorality in a new form.”
      Give thanks today that we see our Savior Jesus in our rear view mirror, forgiving us for our foolishness of the past, and giving us hope as we face today and whatever the future road has in store for us.

“The times really aren’t a-changing all that much.” (This Bob, not the Nobel Laureate)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

        Life is short. I once asked my aged father what interesting things he remembered happening in life, and he said he wasn’t sure because it all happened so fast. Born in 1898 and died in 1995, he was alive from the Wright Brothers through the World Wars, to man walking on the moon, to laptop computers. Back then he didn’t know or care much about laptops, but if he were alive today, I think he’d find them fascinating, especially the tiny ones we call “smartphones.” You know - those hand-held things that run out of battery just when we need it.
        Whatever we may have experienced in life, we must all admit life is short. There is little that is truly constant and invariable in our human experiences on earth. Einstein taught us this with his theory of relativity. Just realizing how long some moments can be, or how fast a life slips away, gives us insight how time moves so fast or so slow. 
        God’s Word in the Bible gives us something to hold onto, however. Our Creator God cares for us and has given us this fascinating world in which we can live, move and have our being. His presence and mercy are our constancies. We believe God and His good will are unchangeable, but, of course, people certainly aren’t. Tainted by sin, our fickle natures and opinions last only as long as the next idea comes along. 
        We often preface what we say with, “if only…” “If only I were out of school. If only I had enough money. If only I could be married. If only I had a better job. If only I could retire.” Then when some or most of those things do take place, we wonder where our short life has gone. 
        Carol and I took our family of twelve on a short Bahama cruise this past weekend and enjoyed seeing our people get to know each other better, experience some new things, eat some fantastic food and then go our separate ways at the end, till we meet again. Carol and I eventually got home, despite a plane change, and we both agreed once again that our favorite part of any trip is the homecoming. 
        My Dad’s eternal home going was blessed after so long a life. Our earthly home coming last night was blessed with familiar bed and sounds. When we see our loved ones again, we will enjoy the familiarity of laughter and joy and growing up and growing older. 
        When we know Jesus is Lord of our life, we can handle the brevity of life because we know in Him it never really ends. It enters a new stage here and there until we live with Him in eternity. But of this we can be sure: Jesus’s Words of comfort, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 113:5)

Home is the best place to be, our home here or our home in heaven.


Rev. Bob Tasler

Monday, May 22, 2017

JESUS NEVER LETS GO

        One of the great things about being a Christian is that no matter what problems today may bring, there is a better future for us tomorrow. No matter what evil may happen today, there is something better to look forward to. The present is not all there is to life. We see the troubles of life, but we know God is with us every step of the way. As God bids us to do Psalm 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you and you will glorify me.”
        We acknowledge sin in the world and in our personal lives, but we know Christ has overcome it. We look backward with gratitude but look forward with joy. As Mrs. Ruth Graham said from her wheelchair before she died, “So many wonderful memories, and so much to look forward to!” Believers in Christ are able to see past the tragedies of today, and look forward to the wonder and joy of what God has in store for us in our tomorrows.
        Corrie Ten Boom, survivor of a WWII death camp, often said, “When the Lord takes your hand, He holds you tight. When He holds you tight, He leads you through life, and when He leads you through life, He brings you safely home.”
        1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Earlier in life Peter had almost lost all hope because he’d let go of His Savior’s hand. But Jesus had not let go of his hand. In the middle of all Peter’s troubles, Jesus held his hand and brought him safely through the most critical time in his life. That’s what Jesus does for His people, even when we may feel we have lost hope. Jesus holds our hand and doesn’t let go. Praise Him that He doesn’t.
        
May you hold the Lord’s hand tightly every day of your life.

Rev. Bob Tasler
www.bobtasler.com

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Monday, May 8, 2017

RIDING THE RAILS FOR JESUS

      Yesterday son Brian and I attended our annual Father-Son Birthday Baseball Game and saw the Rockies rock the AZ D-Backs handily. Despite the rock-n-roll weather (game ended with a storm and a big scramble for cover) we enjoyed the afternoon. 
      A special event for me came as Brian dropped me off at Union Station to board the Denver Light Rail and ride it twenty miles south to where I’d earlier parked my car. It was an adventure! Union Station was a beehive of a thousand people in the Depot and in the dozens of shops and restaurants. I found it a comfortable and safe experience, although it might have been different had it been late that night.
      After securing my ticket, I hunted down the boarding intersection to the north, hidden among a half dozen construction sites. For this I was aided by a kindly older lady with a huge umbrella who walked me a block and a half north to make sure this confused old traveler got to the right street. 
      The train ride was noisy with laughter from young adults who’d also attended the game. The car was muggy and bouncy, interesting and enjoyable. A courteous young man I asked made sure I got off at the right station where I found my car and drove home. Back on the freeway, I gave thanks for the peace and quiet of a smooth ride those last ten miles. We may use Light Rail in the future, so this ride was part adventure and part investigation.
      The Apostles had no trains or cars as they took the message of Jesus out into the world. Just their feet and occasionally a boat got them there. What amazes me is how hugely successful they were. Biblical history tells us that within a mere two to three months of His resurrection, perhaps ten thousand people became followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit inspired the early witnesses who saw Jesus alive again, and their words spread like wildfire, moving masses of Jews and Gentiles to leave their old religious ways and follow Jesus.
      All those early believers did so at great risk to their lives. In the coming decades, they were arrested, tortured, fed to the lions and burned in the arena. A person isn’t willing to die for a passing fancy. Something about Jesus changed them and also the history of the world forever. That’s why Christians still gather to worship God, wherever believers hear and rejoice in the Gospel of the resurrected Jesus Christ. 

”For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, May 1, 2017

HAPPY MAY DAY!

      Today, May 1, is May Day. In simpler days, May 1 held a charming tradition. People wrapped flowers in pretty paper, along with a small gift or piece of candy, and hung it on the door of friends and neighbors. While attending Country School in the 1950s, my classmates and I always brought May Baskets to school on this day.
      It was also a way for a romantic young fellow to let a girl know he cared. He would hang his May Basket on her doorknob, knock on the door and then run away. If the girl liked him, she would try to chase him down and give him a kiss. If he saw her coming, he would not run very fast.
      Some awkward scenarios happened among the young. A 1889 Boston newspaper reported that one unfortunate fellow walked a mile and a half to present his May Basket to his sweetheart, only to find someone else’s basket already hanging on her door. Louisa May Alcott described May Day in her children's book, Jack and Jill
      "Such a twanging of bells and rapping of knockers; such a scampering of feet in the dark; such droll collisions as boys came racing round corners, or girls ran into one another's arms as they crept up and down steps on the sly; such laughing, whistling, flying about of flowers and friendly feelings—it was almost a pity that May Day did not come oftener."
      This custom is unfamiliar to youth and most adults today. But just being old-fashioned shouldn’t keep us from making an effort to show people we care for them.
      God showed His love for us by the gift of His Son Jesus, and the Son showed us His love for us by giving His life on the cross to earn our forgiveness. Yesterday I ended my service to the people of Christ Lutheran, Coolidge, AZ, and we all partook of the gift of His Body and Blood under bread and wine. This is a blessed custom I hope and pray will never be lost in the hustle and bustle of our modern age.

“Do this is remembrance of Me.”

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com


Monday, April 24, 2017

WHAT WILL THE RESURRECTION BE LIKE?

      "She was standing not five feet from me, smiling, and then she was gone," the old man said through watery eyes. "She collapsed and I don't think she took another breath. Married all those years and now she's not here. It just doesn't seem possible." 
       People often speak glibly of wanting to die quickly, with no suffering or lingering, here one moment and gone the next. That may be what we'd like, but we probably won't have a choice in the matter, at least not a God-pleasing one. Job was willing to take what the Lord gave him. ”The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21)
      I sometimes wonder what my death will be like. Will I know I’ve died or will it be like sleep, awake one moment, then suddenly awake in another? Will I be awake after death, or will I experience some kind of "soul sleep"? Will I see things happening or will there be nothing? 
      Some nights I don't sleep well, lying there thinking of what happened that day or what's to come tomorrow. Someone said before sleep we shouldn't think of anything but that's hard to do. An over-the-counter sleep aid may knock us out awhile, but then we wake up again, surprised we've been unconscious. 
      I’m working on a Bible Study of Ecclesiastes and calling it The Skeptical Disciple. Chapter 7:1 says, “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” The Preacher has had it all in life and looking back has decided it’s better to die to be with the Lord than to struggle getting and spending and never answering all his questions. 
      Death for the Christian, I think, is like being asleep, then being awake again, all in an instant. Waiting for the end can be a struggle, like the weary old fellow who wants to go but knows it's not his time yet. Sleeplessly he prays for it and tries to imagine what his leaving will be like. Then suddenly he's awake in the resurrection with its new heaven and new earth! He's back and didn't even know he’s been gone. 
      And now he has no questions, for He has been with God and that’s all he’s wanted all along. Being with God is good enough - in fact, it’s been the absolute best of all. When my time comes I pray I will be ready with faith in my Lord and Savior. I pray you will be ready, too.

He is risen, and so also are we!

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com


Sunday, April 16, 2017

CHRIST IS ALIVE!

        On February 17, 1977, candy heiress Helen Brach stepped off the plane at O’Hare Airport and disappeared into a crowd without a trace. Ever since that day her disappearance has mystified police and investigators alike. In 1984 she was declared dead, and years later when her parents and husband died and were buried at Unionport, Ohio, the family monument included her name. But her grave was empty.
        While convinced she was murdered, investigators haven’t been able to determine how or why she died, because they have never found her body. Police have speculated about what happened and even got a judge to declare someone responsible for her disappearance. But without her corpse, her murder is unsolved. 
        Easter is the story of an empty grave. However, unlike the Helen Brach case, the issue of Jesus isn’t that He disappeared and was nowhere to be seen. Indeed, He was seen, alive at His trial, then He was seen brutally beaten, murdered and buried in a grave. Most importantly, He was also seen alive again in a healed and whole body, not by only a few people, but by dozens, even hundreds in the weeks following His crucifixion. 
        The Easter story is not about a body missing from a grave. It’s about a dead body coming to life again, walking around, talking, eating, touching people and urging them to trust in Him. The empty grave together with the living, healed body of Jesus are real proofs of the Resurrection. 
        The Resurrection is the center point of the Christian faith. Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Christianity without the resurrection is not simply Christianity without a final chapter, it is no Christianity at all.
        Easter is the miracle of all miracles. Skeptics may say there is not enough evidence to believe He lived again, but Christians believe the case is closed. Jesus came to life again because He is the Promised Savior. Furthermore, He still lives today, and as the Son of God and our Savior, He lives forever. And so shall we!

Happy Easter!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah! 

Rev. Bob Tasler

www.bobtasler.com

Monday, April 10, 2017

THE CASE FOR CHRIST

       In yesterday’s Gospel for Palm Sunday, Matthew 21:10-11 tells us, “When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” The Jerusalem church leaders were skeptical about Jesus, and most were certain He was a fraud. Millions of people still think He is, despite the depth of the Biblical witness. But any person who wants to follow the truth will discover Jesus is Who He says He is: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
      This past weekend Carol and I saw the movie premier of “The Case For Christ,” produced by Lee Strobel, best-selling author and former investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune. This true story chronicles Strobel’s personal journey from atheism to faith, triggered by his wife’s conversion to Christianity after a Christian nurse helps them through a near-tragedy. 
      The movie is well written, realistically acted and moves along at a good pace. Gratefully, it doesn’t have a syrupy ending as do many Christian movies. It just presents Strobel’s personal journey from unbelief to faith in Jesus, and lets the Holy Spirit do His work with the audience.
      For those who have wondered about the basis for the truth of Christianity, Strobel’s books are very helpful. His most popular works, The Case For Christ, The Case For Faith, and The Case For a Creator, are thorough and interesting, based on interviews with experts in their field. 
      Strobel is now an ordained clergyman who knows his stuff and how to explain it. While I don’t mean for this WEEKLY MESSAGE to be a movie review, I do give “The Case For Christ” two thumbs up. Go see it; I think you’ll be glad you did. It’s great to see how a skeptic discovers the truth of Jesus being our Messiah.

May the Holy Spirit move faith in the hearts of all who read his words.

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, April 3, 2017

"OCOTILLO JESUS" LIVES

        My Arizona cactus garden contains two dozen or more odd plants, and none is odder than the ocotillo (oh-koh-TEE-yoh). Where most varieties have verdant green pads or barrel heads or arms growing skyward, the ocotillo is an ugly bunch of sticks mostly barren of foliage and vicious to touch. 
        Like most cacti, ocotillo can be started by planting a piece in the ground. Soon it makes its own roots and grows a few inches each season. A year ago I planted a two foot ocotillo stick on the edge of my garden and when I returned in six months it had grown an inch and had small green round leaves. 
        But soon those leaves dried up, fell off and it looked dead all winter. Then a slow all-night rain brought it back to life. Within days new tiny green round leaves began to adorn its thorny branch again. Soon it’ll have a glob of red-orange flowers on the tip which will add another inch or two to its length. Maybe in a year another ugly branch will be added and all will lose their leaves as the plant “dies” again until the next rain.
        Only rain water can make it come back to life. The lowly ocotillo needs nutrients from the air in the heavens to make it leaf and blossom. It will never look fresh like the prickly pear or stately like the organ pipe, but its flowers are as lovely as the fuscia, yellow and gold of ground cacti or the deep red and pure white of the night bloomers. Its spiny crooked sticks are among the ugliest in nature, but it lives and blooms by the grace of God.
        It’s somewhat like our Lord Jesus. He was an oddity, living a short life, confounding those who heard Him. His spiny comments aggravated the authorities, and His miracles dazzled the meek and poor as He told them He was the Living Water of God on earth. 
        Isaiah 53:2 tells us, “He grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” 
        Like a stick planted into the earth, Jesus bloomed awhile, dried up and died, then came back to life in glory everlasting. Because Jesus is Lord over all creation, all who trust in Him also shall rise, forever to be with Him in glory indescribable and words inexpressible. 

“Ocotillo Jesus” lives forever.


Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, March 27, 2017

FINALLY SOME GOOD NEWS!

        We all need some Good News now and then to keep us focused on what’s important. Today’s Good News is that Christ Lutheran Church, Coolidge, Arizona, the small congregation I’ve helped serve the past two winters, will get a new pastor. And he will be their first full-time pastor in Christ’s 68 year history. 
        From its founding in 1959, Christ Lutheran has been served as part of a dual parish or by part-time retired workers. Some 25 years ago, its dual parish agreement with a larger congregation in Casa Grande was terminated, so retired pastors began serving as they could be scheduled. Laymen also led services when pastors could not be located. Although its local membership is small, area retired winter residents have given Christ a positive vitality that rubs off on all who attend. 
        Five years ago the congregation decided it was time to call their first full-time pastor. Their efforts culminated yesterday in a phone call to the congregation broadcast over its PA system at their 9 AM service. Amid cheers and singing the Doxology, the 130 people in attendance heard their new pastor accept their call and felt God’s blessing in a very special way. 
        Thus, in a month or two, little Christ Lutheran will have its very first full-time pastor who will bless current and future members and guests with the Gospel. It will also connect better with the local people, since it is the only Lutheran congregation in the Coolidge - Florence area of 40,000 residents. Like the many farms around the town, its fields are ready to harvest.
        Good News is what the Christian Church is all about, “Gospel” coming from Old English words that mean “Good News.” The Gospel of Jesus as the Savior of the world is the church’s central message. Jesus of Nazareth as the true Son of God come into the world to save sinners is Good News for all of us. 
        If you can’t find much that is positive in the news today, give God thanks for faithful pastors, congregations and leaders willing to share the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life in our Savior Jesus.

Please keep Christ Lutheran and its new pastor in your prayers.


Rev. Bob Tasler
www.bobtasler.com

Monday, March 20, 2017

WHAT IS RETIREMENT?

...A church member keeps membership records on her church's computer until she is ninety.
...An eighty-eight year old neighbor works at a local Post Office twenty hours a week.
...An eighty-six year old woman walks nine holes of golf five times a week, often when the temp is over ninety.
...A ninety year old man pilots a P-38 fighter plane, the same kind he flew in World War Two.
...A former president sky dives on his eighty-fifth birthday
...A man in his mid-seventies drives to church in his 700 horsepower Dodge sports car.
...At eighty-nine, a world renowned pianist performs one of his greatest recitals in Carnegie Hall.
...An eighty-six year old mother of seven is rarely home, usually traveling to see one of her families.
...A farmer's son publishes his first book at sixty-five and begins his twenty-fifth book seven years later.
...A ninety-five year old Grandmother lives alone and reads books on her Kindle.
...A seventy-seven year old pastor accepts a fulltime call to serve a church in California.
...An eighty-four year old pastor finally stops preaching every Sunday and driving forty miles each way.
...A former school teacher composes her own Christmas letter in poetic verse until she is one hundred.
...A ninety-four year old entertainer performs at a theater where he first started sixty-three years before.
...At eighty-three, a nationally known radio broadcaster signs a ten year contract to continue his show.
           These people are supposed to be retired? What, then, does "retirement" mean? To some, it surely doesn't mean leaving a job, sitting in a rocker and doing nothing. It means a change in their schedule, working less, doing what they always wanted to do, or just saying "no" to a forty-hour week. They did it because they decided to, and they did it because they still could.
            We read of the many aged Bible people who blessed God with faith and good works. God still brings blessings into the world through such people. Psalm 92:14 tells us, "The righteous shall still bear fruit in old age; they will still stay fresh and green."

All of these "retirees" are Americans. I have personally known 10 of them..

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, March 13, 2017

SOS or MAYDAY?

      Most everyone knows that SOS and MAYDAY are international emergency signals. But what does SOS mean, and why is MAYDAY used?  By 1904 many trans-Atlantic ships had become equipped with Marconi wireless communication, and radio operators sought a code that everyone would know meant distress at sea.
      CQD was first used in 1904 as "General Call - Distress", but by 1908, SOS was ratified as the official distress signal. Some people still think SOS means "Save Our Ship", but the letters actually have no meaning. The Morse Code for SOS, 3 dots - 3 dashes - 3 dots, came into use because it was simple and unmistakable in its sound. Most everyone can remember its meaning in time of need.
      Mayday has a different root. It was adopted by Frederick Mockford, senior radio officer at London's Croyden Airport. By 1923 there were so many airplane flights from London to Paris that Mockford saw the need for a distress word. "Mayday" was coined from the French word, m'aidez which means "help me."
      All people face periodic life-threatening situations, whether on land, air or sea. God's people since ancient times have always cried out "God help me!" in different ways. David prayed, "Listen to my cry for mercy, Oh Lord. When I am in distress, I call to You because You answer me." (Psalm 86:6-7)
      Going through a crisis can strengthen both our resolve and our faith in God. Troubled times can lead to a stronger faith if we put our lives into God's hands and trust that He will bring us through our troubles in His own way which is always better. 

If today you are in distress, call out to the Lord in prayer.
 
Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, March 6, 2017

WALK CAREFULLY

      Last week while at a store a little boy ran into me because he was walking forward while his head was turned sideways. His mother said rather sharply, "Watch where you're walking!" I wonder how many times I said that to my boys as they were growing up. 
      Little people want to see everything all at once. They don't always take time to watch where they are going, charging ahead and thinking the world will get out of their way. Big people can do the same. Even when we aren't sure where we're going, we still charge ahead and then are surprised as we stumble or hit a wall.
      Apostle Paul knew what it was like to charge ahead in life. When his name was still Saul, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He had a plan for his life and self-confidently lived by his firm convictions. But they were the wrong convictions. One day on the road to Damascus he walked straight into a wall named Jesus, and the Lord brought him down low and into the Kingdom of God.
      This is the same person who tells us the words of our text today: "Be very careful, then, how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16) 
      With a passage like that, it would be tempting to preach about all the evil in the world, but that would accomplish little. There's always been evil in the world and today's world is much like Paul's. The point is not how bad the world is, but how we live and walk in the world in which we live. 
      Paul has timeless words of wisdom for us all, no matter how old or young:  "Walk carefully." Jesus forgives us when we misstep and the Holy Spirit will help us when we come to Him in prayer for guidance in our walk.

Walk Carefully!

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com