Monday, October 16, 2017

WHAT NEXT?

        Sometimes when bad things happen, especially multiple things, we are tempted to ask, “Why?” Or, “What next?” Last Friday’s news carried such a story.
        A California woman narrowly escaped death during the Las Vegas shootings last month while attending a concert where nearly five dozen people were killed and five hundred injured. A thousand bullets rained down, injuring people next to her and killing one. But she had not even a scratch. A few days after returning home, however, she was forced to evacuate her Santa Rosa house due to a wildfire that eventually burned 4,000 homes and killed nearly 40 residents. While many nearby neighbors lost their homes, the woman expressed gratitude that her home was spared, 
        What would you say if you were her? “Why?” “What next?” “Thank God I’m still alive!” I’ll guess it would be the latter. If tragedy strikes all around and we’re still alive when it’s over, giving thanks to the Good Lord is surely the first thing to do.
        A farm wife suffers immense injuries in a machinery accident, confining her to a nursing home for the rest of her life. A young pastor’s wife is widowed when he is murdered while making an evening pastoral visit in Chicago. An middle-aged farmer who lost both legs in an machinery accident, loses his wife to a heart attack. A violent auto accident claims the life of a young wife, while her husband has no injuries. 
        Do we say, “Why?” “What next?” Or, “Thank God I’m still alive!” Sometimes maybe all three. Thanking God must be both said and felt, no matter what follows. As hard as it is to understand, Job the Old Testament prophet had it right when he said, “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” It isn’t that we feel glad God is no longer playing tricks on us, but that He gives us any time of life to live at all.
        A 94 year-old WWII veteran told me of his experience in the Battle of the Bulge, and he repeatedly said,“Only by God’s grace am I alive.” He then quoted a poem his mother had sent him during the war, a hymn verse by Jesse B. Pounds he has kept with him always:
"Any where with Jesus I can safely go, 
Any where He leads me in this world below,
Any where without Him dearest joys would fade, 
Any where He leads me I am not afraid."
        “Thank God I’m still alive!” I’ve said that so often since our auto accident in 1984. I’ve never thought of it as luck, but a genuine goodness from God that He has allowed me to see my sons grow, and marry fine wives and be blessed with good children. And He also has allowed me to experience the love of a second good woman. 

It’s part of a gratitude that helps us say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”


Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, October 9, 2017

WHY DID JESUS COME TO EARTH?

        Why did Jesus come to earth? What was His purpose in being here? Ever since His birth at Bethlehem, mankind has struggled with what to do about Jesus. While many have tried making Him a great teacher, or a rebel, a peacemaker, a genius or even a charlatan, only His Holy Word tells us who He truly is, the Son of God and Savior of the world. 
        Dr. Donald A. Carson, in his book, Praying With Paul, wrote some remarkable words about Jesus’ purpose. In a quote often attributed to others (usually Max Lucado), Carson helps us zero in on the nature and purpose of Jesus. He wrote:
        “If God had perceived our greatest need was economic, He would have sent an economist. If He had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, He would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, He would have sent us a politician. If He had perceived that our greatest need was health, He would have sent us a doctor. But He perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from Him, our profound rebellion, and our eventual death. So He sent us a Savior.”
        We cannot understand Jesus unless we see what He considered was our greatest problem, that sin has caused rebellion against God and tainted our entire world. Recent mass murders have again resulted in people asking why they happened and what can be done about them. Who has not heard, “If there is a God, why does He allow this to happen?”
        All manner of reasons and solutions may be given, but rarely do analysts consider the real problem Jesus came to solve, to forgive sinful people of this rebellion and help them to live better by power of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t come to stop sin, but to forgive its consequences. He didn’t come to create robots, but people who see themselves for who they are, sin-weakened sons and daughters who desperately need their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus.
        Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The plain truth is that the tragedies we see in the world will remain with us until Christ returns again in a new heaven and earth. 

We must not cease trying to stop evil, but we must admit its true cause. 

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, October 2, 2017

COULD YOU BE A HUMAN MOLE?

        Hit by two powerful quakes in less than two weeks, Mexico City once again has reeled from the disasters that claimed hundreds of lives, demolished scores of buildings and left thousands homeless.
        Amid all the disaster, one special group of rescue workers has given their services to locate survivors. They go where they are needed and freely give of their time and safety. Who are they?
        Founded in 1986, the “Tlatelolco Moles” is a volunteer search and rescue group formed by a group of youths who pulled victims from the rubble of Mexico’s 1985 quake which killed over 5,000. These volunteers now tackle dangerous rescue operations, filling in the gaps when a government needs them. Hector Mende, one of the group's original founders, says they will go in and under debris where no one else will.
        Assisting in at least 22 countries so far, including the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and the 2004 Indonesian Tsunami, they have travelled to disasters in Haiti, Nepal and the Philippines. Some of the team had only just returned from relief efforts after Hurricane Irma when the recent earthquakes hit their homeland.
        They are unpaid workers doing life-threatening work. Why do they do it? One member said it was for the joy of finding someone alive. Initially having no formal training, the Moles are now instructed in rescue strategies, collapsed structures and risk management. With the help of the Civil Protection Agency of Mexico, the Moles now train others locally and participate in international disaster training.
        They locate and triage victims, clear rubble, find bodies and even help develop long-term recovery plans. From the safety of their own homes, they go into the dangerous rubble. Knowing they may not come out, they go in anyway.
        Our Lord Jesus did this on a worldwide scale in eternal fashion. He left His heavenly home voluntarily to find and rescue people from the rubble of sin in the world, in order that He might rescue us from eternal death. Jesus went into the world, knowing He would have to give up His own life in this rescue. 
        He was crucified for us, buried and returned to life, that all who trust Him might be saved from the crushing weight of their sins. He is now with us every day in this troubled world with its dangers and ongoing need for rescue.

”And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, September 25, 2017

THE FOOLISHNESS OF PRO FOOTBALL

        What do you do with your free time? Pursue a hobby? Read a book? Watch a movie? Play a sport? Take a nap? Most of us have some spare time we can use in a variety of ways. It is a rare person indeed who has no spare time, and that is one of the great blessings we have in life as American citizens.
        Jesus and His early followers lived at a time that was, surprisingly, more like our own than unlike it. There were the very wealthy, the politicians, the “well-off”, the middle-class and the poor. But no matter what kind of life people have, then or now, there is always a little spare time during which we choose what to do. And that’s usually a good thing, because God made people to have free choice. We are not robots.
        (Note that I did not say people have “free will”, since that’s a different matter. Our sinful nature does not allow us free will in the matter of choosing to follow God. The apostle Paul, inspired by the Spirit, said, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3) To believe in Jesus requires God’s help.
        But we have lots of things we can choose to do with our free time. Paul, however, warns us not to waste our time when he says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
        I surely wish I could say we live in good times, but I can’t. As Paul says, the days are evil, the days now and the days in times past, and it is all due to the results of sin and rebellion that never leave us. One day, praise God, we shall be delivered from the evil days, and can live eternally with Jesus Christ our Lord. With all the foolishness around us today, I truly look forward to Christ’s second coming. May all of us be found trusting Jesus as our Savior.
        Philip Melanchthon was Martin Luther’s valued friend who helped him greatly with his ability to express Christian teachings, especially in the Augsburg Confession. In 1560, just before Philip passed from this life into eternity, he said, “In death we shall be delivered from our sins, as well as from the arguments of foolish people.” What a great thought. Maybe we can deliver ourselves right now from some of those foolish people.

I’m going to start by turning off professional football. It’s just gotten too foolish.

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, September 18, 2017

IT IS HARD TO WAIT!

        I have always had a hard time waiting. Whether in my youth, my working years or now in my later years, I often struggle if I have to wait for something to happen.
        A recent minor waiting event occurred this summer after I filed an Amended Tax Return that promised a fairly large refund. I was told it would take time for the check to come, so I tried not to think of it. But still, every day when the mail came, I hoped and somewhat expected it would be there.
        Finally, four months after filing, the check came, but even though it’s in the bank, I still think of it when the mail comes. I will get over it, but it showed me that hope can linger even after the waiting is over. Waiting can make a mark upon a person, even if you are sure the hope will be fulfilled.
        But what about unknown fulfillment, when we don’t know if what we hope for will ever happen? How does a hostage deal with waiting when it’s unknown when or if release will come? How does a cancer patient deal with waiting when it’s unclear if remission will come?
        How does the young lover wait when it is unsure if Mr. Right or Miss Perfect will come into one’s life? How do Christians deal with waiting for Christ’s promised return when decades and centuries continue to pass after His promise to return?
        If there is a goal we trust will happen, the wait may be easier. But when there is no end in sight, the wait can drag us down and our hope can get chipped away until it is abandoned and forgotten.
        Then, as always, we must trust God for the result. The Psalms are filled with encouragement to wait with hope in God’s timing: “We wait in hope for the Lord.” (33:20), “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits.” (130:5), “Hope in the Lord and keep His way.”(37:34) “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (31:24), “Put your hope in the Lord.” (130:7).
        Mere hopefulness for a better future gives us little. Waiting in hope for the Lord (Ps. 33:20) gives us confidence, courage, and strength for each day, because we trust our almighty God will give us what He has promised.

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 49:3)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Monday, September 11, 2017

WHY REBUILD AFTER A DISASTER?

        Greg Hobbs, Denver columnist, asked in a Denver Post article, “Why do people rebuild after natural disasters?” Hurricanes destroy homes, wildfires burn businesses and floods ruin communities. But when you ask disaster survivors what they plan to do, nearly all will say, “We will rebuild again.” 
        Why? Knowing another hurricane will come to tear down, or a wildfire will burn a future home, or a flood will come again, why do people continue to build in such places? Dobbs asked asked a southern storm survivor who’d lost homes in three hurricanes, why he planned rebuild again. Instead of giving him reasons, the man asked, “Where are you from?” “Originally San Francisco,” Dobbs said. “Don’t they have earthquakes there?” “Yes, but I live in Colorado now,” Dobbs said. “Don’t y’all have wild fires in Colorado?” said the man. Yes, Dobbs told him, in 2012 and 2013 Colorado lost over a thousand homes to forest fires, and most of them rebuilt their homes again.
        Communities along the Mississippi are destroyed by floods, but they rebuild again. People from Oklahoma and Kansas see homes and towns torn apart by tornadoes, but they, too, rebuild. Colorado has had enormous hailstorms destroy homes, autos and buildings, but people still rebuild and drive cars there. Dobbs concluded his article, “If one doesn’t get you, another might.” 
        Why do we rebuild in those places again? My Dad once told me a humorous story that ended, “Everyone has to be somewhere.” So simple, yet so true. With seven billion people on our planet, everyone has to be somewhere, and there is no place without some danger. 
        I’ve got some bad news: Humans are responsible for all these disasters. Yup, it’s all our fault, but not for the reasons climate alarmists would have us believe. 
        The original perfection of our world has been messed up by sin. Genesis chapter three tells us God cursed the ground because of mankind’s rebellion. Because of our sin, individually and corporately, we people have pain and suffering, no matter where we live. Thorns and thistles, work and sweat, pain of childbirth and families, all will be the lot of mankind until we return to the dust from which we were taken. That’s the reason for the disasters, not plastic or coal or carbon dioxide.
        But there is good news. God has promised us not only forgiveness, but also a new heaven and a new earth in the future, where God’s dwelling place is among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
        Meanwhile, we live and rebuild and do our best to find joy in the life God has given us. The new heavens and new earth will come because of God’s goodness in Jesus Christ. He will one day give His followers a more perfect existence. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to that day with great hope! 

May God protect and defend all who face disaster, and bring them new life and hope!

Rev. Bob Tasler (www.bobtasler.com)

Monday, September 4, 2017

WHAT WILL BRING US TOGETHER

        While it was sad to see the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey these past days, the cooperation of so many people helping others, locally and from distant places, was truly heart-warming. The enormity of the task of helping those who’d been flooded by the raging storm was almost matched by the enormity of the numbers who stepped up and helped out, doing what needed to be done.
        After hearing of all the division in America, it was wonderful to see people cooperating. Even the noise of the few angry demonstrators was drowned out by the thousands of those transporting, feeding and helping people and their pets. The political rhetoric was more subdued for awhile and it was good to see a few elected officials taking part in rescue efforts.
        Now this week comes another storm called Hurricane Irma which is rapidly approaching our East Coast, coincidentally coming at the same time as Congress returns from its August recess. In a few days, will we be able to tell who is making more noise, nature or Capital Hill? Will our nation’s capital itself be smashed with a huge storm? And since it is where they live and work, will any of our politicians will help out or just take cover until the storm passes?
        What it would be like if all 535 members of Congress would by necessity be gathered together in one huge building to help rescue Irma’s storm victims? Imagine if Congressmen had to rescue each other! Would such help be accepted, or would a flooded Red hand slap away a helping Blue hand? Might the whole affair become an endless photo op for use in fundraising?
        We’ve asked over and over, “What will it take for our country to come together?” Folks, we have the answer. Storm and devastation will do it, if we will just not run from it. Even tragedy can do it. We can only hope and pray, however, that the misguided leaders of North Korea won’t decide to blow some place on earth to smithereens just to prove they can do it. That kind of tragedy would escalate into the unthinkable. “From such a thing, Good Lord, deliver us!”

“Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to Your holy name, and glory in Your praise.” (1 Chronicles 16:35)

Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.com

Sunday, August 27, 2017

GETTING BETTER SLEEP

My new devotional - I've just published BLESSINGS FROM THE CRADLE, a short devotional for new parents of babies. See it at http://bobtasler.com/blessings-from-the-cradle/. It's available on Kindle as well.
                                   ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        Last week one of my doctors recommended I get another sleep test. I would never have thought sleep would be a problem for me, and yet it is, or lack of it.  Studies show that one in fifteen Americans suffer from some kind sleep apnea. Many struggle with snoring, but most need help getting more oxygen so they will get more sleep and have better brain function.
        I thought my lack of sleep was from taking too many naps during the day or from a bad pillow or mattress. It was more. I have resisted the thought of needing a breathing apparatus on my face at night, so I have tried my best to avoid one. But it’s time to face the music. Some things take longer to sink in for me.
        My doctor states with a breathing appliance I’ll not only sleep better, but feel more rested and stronger in the morning. Exercise and eating better are on the list now, too. The fact is, at age seventy-two there are a number of things I need to do to make my body work better and maybe last longer. 
        It’s important to treat the body God has given us as well as we can. Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise You, O God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I am so very thankful God has given me the life I’ve had in this body. 
        I’m not here to give you an “organ recital” of what’s wrong. We oldsters can be good at doing that. I just think it’s wonderful that no matter what problems you or I may have, there are doctors, nurses, procedures, medicines and health insurance to help us get better. 
        Most of all, there is our gracious God who hears our prayers and helps all those people and things keep us in better shape than if we didn’t have them.

Praise God for providing all that we enjoy in life!

Rev. Bob Tasler, 
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my website above - www.bobtasler.com/

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