Roger Bothwell

Roger Bothwell
Roger Bothwell's Devotionals

Highlighters and Lowlighters

The New England Patriots won their football game on Sunday but you would never know it by watching the local news.  You see, it wasn’t a pretty win. Local sports broadcasters have been running the lowlights of the game instead of the highlights.    Not only do New Englanders want their team to win, they want it to be a pretty game of well executed passing, blocking and running with no dropped passes or fumbles.

Alas, this is just like people I have known along life’s way.  Even though they have been blessed with health they find something to complain about.  In 1995 they had a hangnail and they will never forget it.  Their children were on the honor roll but didn’t get all A’s.  They have incredible memories and can recite in detail imagined slights and raises they should have gotten but didn’t. It is one lowlight after another.  I have seen marriages break up because one partner was a lowlighter. I actually saw one marriage survive because they were both lowlighters and thus were perfectly matched.
One day someone after church told me he could hardly wait to get to heaven because he wanted to see the video tape of the crucifixion of Jesus.  Really?  Talk about a lowlight.  That was the lowlight of all time.  I would much rather see the highlight that took place on Sunday morning.  I want to see the highlights of Jesus healing lepers and restoring sight to the blind.  I want to see the highlights of parents receiving resurrected babies into their arms and resurrected marriage partners looking even better than they did on their wedding days.  See I Corinthians 15.
Highlighters are so much more pleasant to be around than lowlighters.

I Was Wrong

I received this response to a comment I made last week in one of the devotionals.  “I was surprised at your comment regarding ‘if you are not a Catholic you cannot be buried where Catholics are buried.’  My husband was Jewish and I am Catholic, he is buried in …(a Catholic cemetery)… where I too will be buried.  I felt the need to correct you so that your followers will know that non-Catholics can be buried in a Catholic Cemetery.”  Well, you can imagine my consternation at telling you something that is not so.  It was time to do some research.  This is what I discovered.  It depends on the local diocese. There are some places where if the deceased has a close Catholic relative, such as a spouse, they can indeed be buried in a Catholic Cemetery.
As a teacher of a graduate research class I should have known not to make a very common error, which is assuming a fact because of personal observation.  Because where I have lived one could not be so buried, I made the assumption it was that way everywhere.  I should be chastised because it is something I actually lecture about and yet I was guilty of the infraction.   No wonder, Jesus told us not to judge others.  As soon as we do we are bound to be wrong.  How often have I heard people say something like, “Those people are like that.  I know because I saw one do it.”   Courts are very aware that eye-witness accounts are often seriously biased.  Even if we did see it correctly it might have been a one-time experience. It is easy to be wrong.

So Many Names to Learn

What do the following names have in common?  Ansong, Appiah-Poku, Assan, Boateng, Dervishilari, Dwomoh, Fresh, Gualdarrama, Kiser-Miranda, Mitis, Morataya, Pokhrel, Tringali and Wantiru.  These are just a few of the last names of students in my class this semester. I feel like I am entering the United Nations when I go to class in the morning.  I look at them and wonder where they all came from and how they ended up being with me for three hours a week.  Talk about an opportunity to change the world.
America is changing.  The world is changing.  I know that makes some people uneasy because we don’t know where or what we are becoming.  We just know it will not be the same as it was in our childhoods.  But, really is this so new?  We have always been an open door to the masses.  We even brag about it in a poem inscribed near the Statue of Liberty. 

It makes me hungry to see the multitude described in Revelation 7.  “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”
There are going to be a lot of strange names to learn.  Then, of course, there are the names of the angels.  “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.”  Revelation 5:11.   How grand to add our names to the crowd.  Don’t miss out!

Religious Cancer

One of my students walked into class this morning wearing a tee-shirt that said, “Jesus Loves Everyone but I’m His favorite.”  There it was.  This is the heresy of almost every religion.  If you are not a Jehovah Witness, they cannot pray with you.  If you are not a Mormon your baptism by anyone other than a Mormon is disqualified and you are lost.  If you are not a Catholic you cannot be buried in the same cemetery with other Catholics.  If you are not Islamic you are an infidel. I can go on and on.  This is the cancer that eats away at the Gospel of Jesus and most other religions as it feeds the egotism of the soul.  You are okay but I am better.

Now of course my student was joking.  But the truth about humor is things are not funny if there is not an inherent element of truth.  Everyone so wants to be special and what could be more special than being God’s favorite?   Before we enter heaven Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15 that this corruption will put on incorruption and thus we will have some different ideas about things.  But, I wonder how I would manage eternity if I were God’s favorite.  I might never mention it nor deliberately rub your nose in it but there would be an unacceptable ting of arrogance in my mannerisms.

In Acts Peter said, “God is no respecter of persons.”   Everyone who lets Him into their heart becomes the apple of His eye.  Does that mean we are His favorites?  The answer is yes.  And all those who have not accepted Him are candidates to join our favorites club.  God is equalitarian to the extreme.

The Cure

The world is awakening to the reality of Ebola.  It must be confined and eradicated.  Councils in many nations are brainstorming strategies for effective action.  After Adam and Eve introduced sin on earth heaven knew it must be confined and eradicated.  But unlike Ebola, a physical malady, sin was a psychological malady that could spread throughout the universe ravaging civilizations and turning them into populations of selfish warring creatures.  Being that sin is psychological, the cure was not pills or vaccines, it was something so dramatic, so stunningly over-the-top, so horrific and so convincing that once administered sin would never arise again anywhere. The only cure required the death of the Creator Himself.
When announced angels were horror-stricken.  Surely there had to be another solution.  But, God in His infinite wisdom knew this was the only way.  Sin must run its course demonstrating to all the natural consequence, which is death to everything good and bad. It would even torture and kill the Creator Himself.  Sin is self-destructive.  Left unchecked sin will ultimately destroy everything.
In order to salvage something from this world and to inoculate other worlds that are watching Jesus came and Lucifer was delighted.  His plan was to make the cost so dear Jesus would give up and go home.  In Gethsemane he pressed Jesus to the earth with the idea that Jesus’ eternal sacrifice was going to be forever and no one would benefit.  It was a waste.  But the hope that someone, even one, might be saved Jesus decided to pay the price no matter what.  On the cross, Jesus cried, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  He was alone.  The price, the cure, was a plunge into the darkness of eternal hell.  Not only earth was saved.  The universe was saved.

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