Roger Bothwell

Roger Bothwell
Roger Bothwell's Devotionals

Preparing for Winter

My woods are deeply asleep beneath winter’s heavy white cover.  There are no rabbit tracks, no sign of chipmunks or disruptions in the scape indicating an owl’s early morning breakfast.  Only a handful of oak leaves are left clinging to their summer perches. The bones of the oaks, maples and birches are beautiful etched across a gray winter sky.  It’s a short menu, if any, for the coyotes, bears and foxes.
 
I wonder about the chipmunks living in dark tunnels and rooms stored with seed from my bird feeders.  During the summer months I watched them figure out how to harvest from the squirrel proof feeders. (There is no such thing.)  They would stuff their cheeks and disappear into the cracks at the edge of the patio and quickly return for another load.  I have a lot invested in those underground pantries.
 
In Matthew 25 and other places Jesus speaks of preparing for the future.  If we live long enough winter will come for us.  No one is immune.  We will be required to call upon the resources we have stashed away in easier times.  In Psalm 119:12 we read, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  If there is any correlation between the ease of winter and the amount of seed carried away my chipmunks will have an easy winter.   We can ease the intensity of winter when it comes by storing up Scripture.  “Though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil….Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  These promises are real and sure. It is a matter of preparing for winter. 

God's Thoughts

The following is a line in the musical Camelot, “I wonder what the king is doing tonight.”  Sometimes I have a variant thought.  “I wonder what God is thinking tonight.”  Did He notice the asteroid that swept by us this past Monday?  It came within 745,000 miles from us and had its own moon.  Is He horrified and disgusted that people are chopping heads off their enemies and doing it in His name?   Does He care about deflated footballs?  Is He watching parents’ hearts breaking at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital?  Does it matter to Him that the stock market is down almost a thousand points?  It will affect the amount of tithe He receives.  Or is money meaningless to the one who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills?
 
I have an inkling what He might be thinking about tonight.  I think He is thinking about you.  Really.  I’m not messing with you.   Jesus said in Luke 12, “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
 
Sometimes we are tempted to think of God as being a huge creative force that governs the universe and we forget Jesus’ powerful message that He is a personal God who wants us to call Him Father.  Not only is He aware of all those things mentioned above (Well, maybe not the footballs.) but, the most miniscule detail of your life matters to Him.  For us, who struggle to manage the details of just one life, it seems preposterous to think He is involved with us.  But then again ask any parent with lots of children if any of them don’t matter.

Doing God's Work

It’s been a busy day doing the Lord’s work.  It started snowing last evening and we are at about the two foot level now.  That makes it very difficult for the chickadees, cardinals, blue jays and others birds to stay fed.  We have had to refill the seed feeder and the suet feeders because of the constant stream of about eighteen different kinds of birds staying nourished.
 
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” 

God’s work manifests itself in a huge variety of ways.  Who’s to say which is more important than another?  The farmer plowing his field, the auto worker going to his assembly plant, the teacher going to her classroom, the grocery store shelf stocker stocking, the cook cooking at Denny’s, the highway patrolman patrolling, the nurse nursing in the emergency room are all doing God’s work.
 
Occasionally I talk with someone ruing the fact they never got a job working for the church.  They made the mistake of thinking that working for the church is the only way to do God’s work.  God’s work is caring for others’ needs.  If I had to rank jobs as to what is the number one task that is God’s work I would most likely list Hospice workers.  The fact is God needs all of us to make life work.   Our part can change from day to day.  Today our job was to feed His birds.  Tomorrow when the snow melts it will be something else.  Whatever it be let’s do it well.  Luke 9:62.

The Price Was Right

I saw a really large lady win a Mini Cooper on the Price Is Right.  As she stood beside her prize I could not but think of being a little boy at the circus watching a cadre of clowns getting out of their little car.   She seemed thrilled.  Perhaps she was planning to give it to a smaller loved one.  I have deemed that I would not do well on the Price Is Right.  Things always cost more than I think they should and why would people even want a $2000 grill.  How could you show the enthusiasm the show’s producers want from you when you win something quite useless?  It’s hard to jump up and down with joy upon winning a trip to Boston when you already live in Boston.
 
Now if we are talking about winning the biggest prize of all time, eternal life, then we are talking about something I really want.  I extend my apologies to the conservative folks I go to church with but when before God’s throne I am going to dance.  I want to proclaim that the price was right.  For us any price would have been cheap enough but for us it is free.  God paid the price.  And oh what a price He paid!  The wages of sin is death.  We earned it.  He paid it.  In order to escape someone who never sinned had to pay the price for us.  If He had sinned His death would have been for Himself.   Hallelujah.  (Yes. I am about to dance.)  He did not sin and yes He did pay the price.  God knew exactly what to do when He got the price right.

A Storm is Coming

A storm is coming.  A big one.  Weather gurus are using the “blizzard” word telling us twenty to thirty inches of snow is coming for New York City and the same for central Massachusetts.  People are flocking to grocery stores and making sure their cell phones have a full charge. It is so unlike it was a hundred years ago when people prepared for winter by drying foods and filling Mason Jars.  By the end of November root cellars were filled with potatoes and beans.  No one knew what day the big one would come.  They just knew it would come.
 
Jesus tried to warn us that in life the big one would come.  No one gets out of here without something extremely harsh happening. It is called “Life.”  Even though we live in the richest time and place in history no one is exempt from hard times.  If you have four minutes Google the words “Hurt Johnny Cash.”   Listen to the YouTube as he sings the words written by Nine Inch Nails, “Everyone I know goes away in the end.”
 
The question we ask is are we ready.  Can we ever be ready?  I am not about to give you a list of things to do to prepare.  I’m not sure anything we can do really prepares us. Perhaps what we are is more important than what we do.  Are we safely tucked into the arms of the one who declared Himself to be “the resurrection and the life”?  Are we part of God’s family?  Are we sons and daughters of the Most High?  I guess there is something we can do.  We can accept His gift.  It comes with the assurance that the big storm shall pass and we shall be saved. 

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