Roger Bothwell

Roger Bothwell
Roger Bothwell's Devotionals

Burning Tax Records

We are in the midst of burning forty-two years out of fifty-two years of income tax returns with all the supporting documents.   It is maple syrup time so all the paper mixed with firewood is one more time making something good.  We had carried with us from Iowa to Africa to Georgia to California to Massachusetts all that paper.  Finally my wife came up from the basement with her arms stacked high and said, “Enough.”
 
I must admit there is a bit of nostalgia involved with burning documents from the first house we ever bought along with statements from car loans and college bills for two sons.  It feels like a bit of our lives is going up in flames.  But really I would never look at them.  I certainly have never bothered to sit in the basement looking at old receipts, nor would I.
 
There are some records in my life that I will never feel any sorrow for their destruction.   When we make Jesus the Lord of our lives we can be assured of the following promise in Acts 3. Peter said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”   How can we not but respond, “Thems good words.”  The real joy of this is God does not look at us as forgiven sinners but as if we had never sinned.  How wonderful that is and what a challenge for us in how we respond to people that hurt us.  So often we forgive but it is so difficult to not remember.  One of my friends told me once that no one had ever hurt him.  “Really,” I asked.  “Well,” he said, “I don’t recall any.” 

Drive-Thurs

I love drive-thrus.  We can do so many things without getting out of our cars.  We have drive-thrus where we can get fast food, do our banking, get our prescriptions filled, and get postal service.  In Las Vegas we can get married and divorced at a drive-thru.  Funeral homes make it possible to view our deceased family and friends in drive-thrus.  If my dog is with me when I go through the drive-thru at our bank she gets a treat.
 
It is amazing how much we can accomplish at drive-thrus.  However, there is one thing we can’t do at a drive-thru. Last week I received the following comment in an email from one of my friends regarding our spiritual lives.  He wrote, “I would suggest that the time we need to spend contemplating, being thankful and absorbing this cannot be done quickly.  I don’t think there’s any such thing as a drive-thru devotional life.”*
 
We live in a fast paced world.  Computers can do so much for us but they have not slowed down our lives.  They just enable us to get more accomplished.  Our work expectations have increased with the speeds of our CPUs.   However, when it comes to our spiritual growth and our comprehension of inner things we need to give that time.  Just as it took us sixteen years before we could drive a car, so it takes years for us to comprehend the deep things of God.  In Ephesians Paul speaks of the mysteries of God.  Some mysteries are solved quickly.  But the mysteries of God take decades.  I really should say will take eternity because we will never completely grasp the wonder of God’s love for us.  This is not a drive-thru experience.
 
*Dennis Barts - chief executive officer of Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, Colorado
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Recipriocal Determinism

Psychologists call it reciprocal determinism.   It is the elegant idea that our environment is affected by our desires, fears and self-concept.  We are either self-empowered for good or self-defeating and heading for failure. It depends upon what we believe we can or cannot do.  Consciously and sub-consciously we alter conditions and people around us to enhance or to destroy our opportunities.  The results are called self-fulfilling prophecies or learned helplessness.  Thus trained educators understand the importance of motivation and role modeling.
 
Some people use this concept to put forth the idea that we answer our own prayers. While we would not go that far we can safely be assured that we can help God answer our prayers.  We can make choices that will place us in situations where God can do what we have requested.
 
We cannot expect God to help us pass an exam if we do not study.  We cannot ask God for good health if we do not take good care of ourselves.  God says, “Work with me.  Don’t ask me to provide you with a long life in the midst of your jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.”
 
When I pray for God to help me be like Jesus I need to purpose that I will seek opportunities to help others.  I will endeavor to be available when needs arrive.  I can’t conscientiously ask God to help me be a light to the world and then sit home alone in front of the television day after day never going out except to get the mail.
 
Jesus said in Matthew 11.  “Take my yoke.”   That means working with Him.  This is not talking about salvation.  That’s a gift.  This is talking about being useful in His Kingdom. 

The Hope Center

The sign on the front says, “Hope Center.”   That is pretty much all that’s left other than a pile of burned rafters mixed in with the ashes of chairs, a piano, hymnbooks and a pulpit.  The sign seems so ironic.  But then again it could be prophetic.  It all depends on the Hope Center worshippers.  Out of tragedy and heartache come wonderful things if the broken-hearted so choose. 
 
Before the cross there were God’s chosen people in Israel.  From the horror and heartache of Calvary came a worldwide redeemed family from every nation, tongue, gender and race.  There could be no forgiveness of sin had there not been the sacred sacrifice.  There could not have been a resurrection Sunday without crucifixion Friday.  And as Paul says in I Corinthians 15 if Christ is not risen then there is no hope for any of us and we are to be pitied.  I am tempted here to say we have a wonderful hope.  Instead I am going to replace the word hope with the word certainty.  This is assured because we have a God who built a man out of the dust and will rebuild us out of His personal pain.
 
In our personal lives we experience failures and losses and can, if we choose, allow them to destroy any meaningful future happiness.  But with God’s help we can rebuild out of the ashes something grand.  It is all about the wonder and implementation of hope.  That does not mean the past isn’t important.  It means we take what we learned from those failures and losses and use those lessons to make ourselves stronger.
  
I’m hoping the people from Hope Center will rebuild something far more wonderful than what they lost.  We shall see.

A Bit of Bragging

This evening one of my wife’s students came to class wearing a U C Berkeley sweat shirt.  She told my wife she wore it especially for her because that is where my wife earned her doctorate.  But, my wife asked, how did you know that?   It seems the student is also in one of my classes and I told.  My wife refrains from telling people because she thinks it smacks of pretentiousness. But I maintain it isn’t pretentious if I tell.
 
It is like walking around bragging that you are a Christian.  It does seem unseemly.  But it isn’t unseemly if someone else recognizes and comments on it.  According to Jesus people will catch on because of our being a loving caring person.  He said, “Hereby shall men know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”   John 13:35.  He also said, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”  Matthew 10:32.   So being a real Christian isn’t so much what we proclaim ourselves to be as much as it is how we act and how we treat each other.
 
Just before Christmas when most people are rushing about to get things done a young man wearing a “Jesus is my Lord” sweat shirt rudely jumped into a checkout line at Kmart.  I almost said something but I decided to let it go.  He already seemed a bit agitated and I didn’t want to exacerbate it.
 
So I will continue to go on bragging about my wife’s accomplishments. And may I add that I graduated from Middletown Pennsylvania Middle School and have a framed diploma clearly stating that I successfully finished 8th grade.

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