Monday, April 24, 2017
"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
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!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Rev. Bob Tasler
Monday, April 10, 2017
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
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