Roger Bothwell

Roger Bothwell
Roger Bothwell's Devotionals

A Thanksgiving Promise

Thanksgiving is inventory time.  It’s time to count one’s assets.  I have noted that the longer I live the longer grows the positive side of my life’s balance sheet.  Of course there are some negatives.  If there weren’t we wouldn’t call it a balance sheet.  However, the positives are so heavily weighted on my balance sheet, if I were a public corporation selling stock the share value would be rising every day.
Have you ever had so much good happen to you that you started worrying about what was coming, because you know in a world filled with disasters and disappointments the streak cannot keep going?  I have family and friends.  I have a warm home in a wonderfully snowy New England.  I have my health.  Yes, I do.  I am better.  After eight years of struggling with leukemia and trying five different kinds of chemo and trying experimental procedures in Philadelphia I am finally better, not from the list I just mentioned, but from a new pill just made available a few months ago and it works.  Thank you for all your prayers.
It is the prayers that bring me to my/our best blessing.  We have a God who truly is a loving and caring Father.  It was risky when Jesus told us to call God, Our Father.   It was risky because some people have lousy fathers.  I was blessed with a good one.  If you had a lousy father then think of God as the father you wish you had had because He is the best.  He is so good He makes Opie’s dad, Sheriff Taylor, look bad.
If your balance sheet has lots of negatives let me assure you that our heavenly Father knows and is going to be sure to compensate you for that with wonders untold.  That’s a Thanksgiving Promise.

On Sharing God's Wisdom

It has been said that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens because he knew that he knew nothing.  Probably the smartest we ever are is when we graduate from high school.  From there on it is downhill as we learn all the things there are that we do not know and what we thought we knew wasn’t correct.  One thing Socrates surely did not understand was how to get along with people.  He alienated so many people in Athens, even his wife, they condemned him to death.
Paul was educated in western thought and knew all about Socrates.  Perhaps he was imitating Socrates when he said in I Corinthians 2, “I came among you determined to know nothing except our crucified Christ.”  He said he came not with the wisdom of the world or other forms of rationale.   He knew the deep things of God were foolishness to those who are not in tune with God’s Spirit.  Apart from the subtle working of God’s Spirit on someone’s mind it is impossible for us to convince them of God’s plan for their redemption.

There have been times when people have come to me after a sermon and said, “Thank you for saying ….”  I finally understand.  That would be wonderful that I was such a good teacher.   The problem is I knew I never said what they said I said.  I have often wondered if the gift of tongues is not in the tongue of the speaker but in the ear of the hearer.   God is hungry to save and he does so despite us.   All the things we think we know, all the theories, definitions and schema, are nothing without God’s intervention in the minds of our hearers or readers.
“I came among you determined to know nothing except our crucified Christ.” 

No Self-Mades in Heaven

If you are not a sports fan you probably missed something quite impressive that happened this past weekend.  Actually it started a week ago.  A young football player for the New England Patriots rushed over 200 yards and scored four touchdowns in a single game.  It was such a remarkable feat he was featured on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.  However, on Friday he was late coming to practice.  The young sports hero learned an important lesson in discipline and humility.  Because he was late he was not allowed to practice.  Because he did not practice he did not play on Sunday.  He was made to stand in full uniform and watch the Patriots win without him.  I think he will be on time to all upcoming practice sessions.
While I am not so naïve to think character building was his coach’s main purpose, that would be winning games, it is a fact that games cannot be won without discipline and teamwork.  It isn’t all about one person.  Life is that way for all of us.  None of us succeed all by ourselves. We are aided by teams of people.  The self-made man wasn’t self-made.  Yes, he went to work every day.  But, he went in a car he did not build on roads he did not build using gas he did not refine.  He ate food he did not grow and wore clothing he did not sew.  He solved problems with information given to him by others who came before him.  We build on the shoulders of the giants who preceded us.
Neither will we be saved by our own efforts.  We are not self-saved.  Eternal life is a gift to all who will accept it.  We are Jesus-made forgiven saints.

Sometimes the Herd is Right

There were at least twenty of us driving our cars at a dutiful 65 miles per hour, when suddenly a car whizzed past us doing at least 80.  He never saw it until it was too late.  The blue lights came on as he sped past the state trooper we were following.
I know we are not supposed to follow the herd.  We have all heard sermons about the people who wouldn’t get into Noah’s ark because it wasn’t the popular thing to do.  But once in a while we should slow down enough to ask just why the herd is doing what it is doing.  It isn’t always advantageous to be different. The herd isn’t always stupid and blind.  While it is true sometimes the herd gets it wrong, but not always.  Usually there are good reasons for why things are the way they are.  Before we declare the herd to be senseless sheep we should take a few history classes.  History courses aren’t in the curriculum merely to make us hate school.  If they are taught correctly they will keep us from making the same mistakes our forbearers made.
Robert Frost wrote, “Before I built a wall I'd ask to know what I was walling in or walling out.”  I would like to add, “Before I tear down a wall I’d ask to know why the wall was first built.”  Taboos and traditions are/were there for a reason. God’s commandments were given for a reason.  They are not there to keep us from having fun.  It is just the opposite.  They are there to guide us to the abundant life promised us by Jesus in John 10:10.  If only we could get our young to know that.  But maybe we can’t because we don’t get it.

Cold Pizza

I love cold pizza for breakfast.  You know - those pieces that are left over from the night before and have been on top of the fridge overnight to keep them away from the dog.  They are so good.  They aren’t floppy any more.  They are nice and stiff and only require one hand to hold.  They have all the necessary ingredients.   They have grains in the bread, dairy in the cheese and vitamins in the onions, green peppers and tomatoes.
There are certain things that just get better with age.  Some people age well.  Their wisdom, kindness and understanding more than make up for the wrinkles and lack of hair. The story of Jesus gets better as the years go by.  It mellows with meaning as we grow to more thoroughly grasp its importance and the unselfish love that undergirds its power. When I was little I loved the idea of going to heaven because of the goodies, which were mansions, streets of gold, petting lions, etc.   Now, it isn’t so much about material things as it is about maintaining the companionship and love of friends and family.  It’s about safety and comprehending the mysteries of existence, which can be totally baffling.
I like old cars, old music, old books and old people.  Old cars I can understand.  I can open the hood and tell what the parts are.   The old music I can enjoy and not find annoying.  Many old books grapple with the mysteries that will be opened to us. I can empathize with old people and their aches and pains, their concerns over grandchildren, and their endless lists of doctor’s appointments. But, best of all, I never tire of the old old story of Jesus’ love for us.  

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