When in Israel we loved being tourists.  We still reminisce about those ancient places that we’d only read about in our Bibles.  Had to pinch ourselves ’til almost black and blue.  Are we really where Jesus and the disciples lived, walked, and helped others?

Traipsing the streets of small villages like Bethsaida, some of the apostles’ hometown.  Ambling up, ever so carefully, the same steps used to enter the Herodian Temple in Jerusalem.  That little town of His birth.  Then back in Jerusalem to the site where Jesus was probably crucified.  Is all this real?  Are our eyes deceiving us?  Ah, the joys of being a Holy Land tourist.

But the Old Testament prophet Micah looks for more from us–“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths” (Micah 4: 1-2).

What does Micah want?  Not just tourists.  Not only those who gawk at sights, sounds, and smells.  Who take umpteen pictures that are never looked at.  Who brag to any cornered Tom Dick and Harry about their exotic globetrotting.

No.  Not them.  Rather committed followers, who are all ears to God’s teaching and decide to do what He says.  Who grab hold of Jesus, never letting go.  Who don’t stumble around, flirting with sin but walk His straight and narrow as hard as that may be.  Must admit that I fumble around, not up to snuff, easily distracted, walking on eggshells with God, too often up to my eyeballs with fear, expecting that He’ll land heavily on me for the least offense, hoping beyond hope that He’ll look the other way at gobs of bigger ones.

Yet my intention is toward Him.  In His direction.  It’s not about me.  It’s focused on belonging to Jesus.  His child and loving being right where I am… in His heart.  Safe and secure.

Ready to be more than a Holy Land tourist?  Let’s go for it.  But don’t forget the Purell!

Lord Jesus, I’m yours because you’ve chosen me.  Thank you.  Amen.

LISTEN Matthew 17 and Luke 10

A friend has a hard time listening to me, not that I’m ultra-boring.  Or am I?  No comments, please!  This friend seems preoccupied, thinking about what he’s going to say next rather than lending me an ear.  Repeating the same questions is a hint that what I’ve said goes in one ear and out the other.  That could never be said of me, could it?  What’d you say?  Sorry, I wasn’t listening!

In the Bible, the ability to listen is critical, a necessity in following God.  But do we listen to Him, focusing on what God has to say?  His views?  His ways and will?  And where can we find this?  Any ideas?!

Sometimes I seem careless, caring less than I should, using my profound (!) theological questions, doubts, and confusion as excuses to go my own way.  If I can’t figure it out, what’s the point?  Then, I’ll do what I want.

However, spending more time in my Bible allows for something else to emerge.  More seriousness with a settled quality to my faith sensing Jesus’ love.  I certainly don’t want to take Him for granted.  Rather, relish and delight in Jesus, getting busy doing what He wants.  That’s different for me.  Only me?

And I’m listening better.  At least a smidgeon more.  As God the Father says–‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’ (Matt. 17:5).  Not a mere suggestion or sage advice, but His command.  ‘…Listen to him.’  Many competing and contradictory voices exist in this world.  Focus more and more on one.  On Jesus.  His voice can be found all through your Bible.

Listen up!  Grab your chair, pulling up a little closer to the Savior.  Or sit on the floor next to Him.  He loves cozy time with you.  As Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, does–“…Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching…’one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion…'” (Luke 10:39,42).

Listen.  Hone in.  Key in and knuckle down.  All on Jesus!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for sharing the good news with me.  Amen.


Many years passed since I’d made contact with my old denomination’s hierarchy.  Nevertheless, I’m still classified as a ‘member in good standing’.  It catches me off guard when asked to preach by the pastor of one of their churches in a neighboring town.  So, I figure it’s time to reconnect.  Good idea?  Couldn’t hurt, could it?

A meeting is called.  The high mucky-muck gather.  I’m led to the slaughter.  The prosecution lays me out.  My defense appears fearful and weak.  Feels like I’ve been shoved through a meat grinder multiple times.  I return home wondering if they’d endorse me to preach once again.  Why not?  Where did I ever get that idea from?  Am I crazy?  No comments from the peanut gallery!

It takes about a week for their letter to arrive.  Permission granted?  Yeah, right!  They basically bloviate in no uncertain terms–Don’t preach ever again, anywhere, for anyone, for any reason.  Don’t even think about it!  Or words to that effect.

What?  Never again proclaiming God’s Word?  No longer teaching?  No giving an invitation to accept Christ for a brand-new life?  Not according to those blokes.  Sounds a bit like what’s going on in Micah 2: 6–‘Do not preach–thus they preach–one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.’  Now I’m no Micah, not by a long stretch on even a good day, but something smells similar in this beeswax about nixing my preaching.

In Micah, these so-called godly folk presumes their place in God’s heart.  They feel secure–for God has made promises.  Regardless of how sinful and ungodly they live, God remains under obligation.  He’s given His word.  Gottcha!  Really?  Do you think so?  They did.  Good deal if you can get it.

The problem is that God’s promises hinge on our receptivity to Him.  Our relationship with and commitment to Him.  Imperfect as we may be, our aim is to please Him, not taking Him for granted as those bachagaloops did!

Overconfident and presumptuous.  As if they have Him in their grips and He can’t get loose.  Cornered.  Trapped.  Who?  God?  Think again.  Wrong.

So, what should I do with that single-leg takedown and full nelson wrestling holds given me by the likes of churchy Hulk Hogan and Mister T?  For years I meet weekly with a group of local pastors for Bible study and prayer.  I share that angry missive with them, pouring out my hurt feelings.

One of them, an older guy who has barely a year of Bible School, looks me straight in the eye and says this–‘Did God call you to preach?’  I respond that He did.  ‘Well then, why do you listen to that bunch, whoever they think they are.  If God calls you to preach, you preach!’  That got my attention.  From God’s heart through that pastor’s voice to my grateful ears.

I went home and penned a terse ‘I quit’ letter to that old denomination.  For me, that was the end.  Heard not one word back from them.  Nothing.  Silence.

Then I start to preach again… as asked and needed.  Help out in other churches.  Do a weekly testimony and evangelistic TV show for 5 years.  Then pastor a church for 14 years in that same community, where I now serve as their only emeritus pastor.  Pretty good, huh, for a guy warned not to preach.

That older pastor was right.  When God calls you to do something, do it!  Think of something?  For you to do?  For Jesus?  Nix to the naysayers.  Get with it!

Thank you, Jesus, for not giving up on us.  Amen.


If you’ve already begun your daily Bible reading new year’s resolution, you’re off to a great start!  Missed a day or two?  Don’t fret.  Climb back up on the horse, so to speak!  Giddy up!

Here’s why I need to feed on His Word day by day–my faith is tepid, my trust near-starvation level unless I hang out with Jesus.  Regularly.  Frequently and consistently.  Meaning what I say.  Practicing what I…well, you know.

There’ve been times when seeking God’s guidance gets shoved to the back burner.  I’ll figure it out myself.   Who needs anyone else?  How foolish.  Decisions are rarely worth a hill of beans without Jesus’ input.

When I graduated from Princeton Seminary, I had the idea (me, I, and myself!) that I could be a missionary within my old denomination.  Not on some foreign field but closer to home, knowing that mainline folk (my old crowd) are not keen on needing to be saved, which really makes them out-of-line…with God.  They’re snooty-smug, figuring that God will let them into heaven without anything on their part.  Many aren’t sure there is a heaven.  So, why bother?

Thought I could lend a hand.  What a joke and not a good one at that.  Pretty quickly, as a young pastor, I become complacent and spiritually lazy, becoming quite genius (!) at taking shortcuts, turning my Bible reading and personal devotions with Jesus into sermon preparation time.  I must have a 2-for-1 coupon.  Hey, I’m snowed and swamped, up to my eyeballs in Churchianity!  Echoes of what my Grandfather Fischer used to say–‘smart like your father, you dope you!’

Here’s a song that catches me off-guard– ‘He Pilots My Ship’.  The words of the chorus are these–‘I won’t sail these stormy seas (any) more, lest Jesus leads the way.  I won’t ever drift so far from shore, I can’t hear what He has to say…’  I’m stopped in my tracks.  Knocked for a loop.  For there were times when I heard only a faint whisper from my Lord.  Barely audible.  Rarely noted or, even worse, heeded.

But now those words have become my prayer.  My commitment.  To stay close to His shoreline.  Hearing Jesus.  Listening for His voice.  Following what He says.  I’ve been lost, out of range, but now I’m staying close by, anchored but a stone’s throw from shore.  At least a bit more of the time.

John 10: 14,16–‘I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me…they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd.’  Who’s Jesus talking about?  This caring shepherd, who leads His own to the very best grazing lands.  Even gives up His own life for them.  You know.

And what characterizes Jesus’ own?  As in you and me?  We hear His voice.  Listen and respond.  Keen to follow Him.  Alert to what He says.  And that means time in your Bible.

This early in the new year, stay close by Jesus.  Don’t give up or get too lax.  After all, He’ll never leave you.  There’s really no good reason to wander off, too far from shore, out of range of His sweet voice.  Is there?

Lord, for being close by me, I thank you.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.


Once again I’m making only one new year’s resolution–to read my Bible from cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation, until signed sealed, and delivered on December 31st, 2022.  If I’m looking for brownie points or extra stars in my crown, I’m not getting any.  Shouldn’t.

My pledge is not about snatching and bagging more and better goodies from the Lord.  Buttering Him up.  Getting on His good side.  No, not at all.  Reading God’s Word, spending time with Him, is reward enough.  Isn’t it?

Want to join me?  How much each day?  Where to start?  Why not go online and find a daily Bible reading guide.  They’re plenty out there.  Print one off.  Then start.  Dig in.  Stick to it.  Don’t say you’ll do it.  Do it!

But why bother reading an old book?  Ancient history.  Outdated morals and outmoded technology.  What’s the point?  A colossal waste of time?  Sarcastic Fischer is at it again!

What could be better than moments devoted to God Almighty and His Word?  Tedious?  Boring?  Dull as dishwater?  Are you kidding?  Whatever time I commit to Him, it all returns to me with added peace, confidence, challenge, and best of all, closeness with my God.  So I do get added blessings from Jesus, after all!

I’ve also figured out that how much I commit to God in this life, the more I’ll comprehend Him in the next.  Similar to spending quality and quantity time with my boys when they were growing up, even now as adults, has made our relationship much more meaningful.  If, after divorce, I’d abandoned my sons as many have, I would’ve foolishly short-circuited closeness between us, of which I would have been the poorer.  But, thank God, I didn’t.  More time together means more love shared long-term.

It’s likewise true with God and your Bible.  So, resolve to make God’s Word your best friend, day in and day out, all year long.  Time to get blessed!

Psalm 119: 1-3–‘Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!  Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart…who walk in his ways.’

Happy New Year–2022!

Thank you, Lord God, for your Word.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.