Roger Bothwell

Roger Bothwell
Roger Bothwell's Devotionals

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.  

No Buyer's Regret

We were in one of those stores that sells miscellaneous products they somehow got for highly reduced prices.  We walked passed a stack of cans of dog food for a great price.  So I stocked up.  This was too good to by-pass.  There was just one huge problem.  Our dog hated it.  After one big eager bite she spit it out on the floor.  Wow, that had to be some really bad tasting stuff because this dog eats everything and anything.  What seemed like a great deal didn’t turn out that way.   How often have I purchased things thinking it was a marvelous deal only to discover later it wasn’t so great?  “Buyer’s Regret” is an ailment I have often tasted.
One of the things about accepting Jesus as one’s savior is there will never be “Buyer’s Regret.”   We might have a bad experience with a particular church or with a pastor but never confuse them with Jesus.  Jesus was most likely more upset with those who mistreated us then we were.  Accepting Jesus is one of those rare experiences that keeps getting better as the years go by.   It is like opening a present to discover inside there is another present even bigger than the first and inside the second present is an even bigger third present and inside the third present there is an even bigger present and the experience never ends.  Jesus is eternal and our growth with Him is eternal.

I took the dog food back.  We never have to consider giving Jesus back.  After all we aren’t crazy.  Which leads me to think those who do walk away are either crazy or someone never told them the truth about what they were getting and they just didn’t understand how wonderful He is.


"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Last night all fifty states, even Hawaii, had at least one location that experienced below freezing temperatures.  Over the majority of the land white “sheets” have been pulled up and in some places there is so much snow one has to say white “quilts and fluffy comforters” have been pulled up tucking in the bears and beavers for a long winter’s rest.  Icy winds have stripped the trees of their leaves and now in their bare beauty we see their dark skeletons reaching up to the sky.  It’s a fine time filled with sleds, hot chocolate and fireplaces with crackling flames casting moving shadows across our rooms. It’s a time for coats, boots and gloves.  Earmuffs and parkas with fur collars tipped with frost surround our reddened cheeks.  It is entrancing to watch our breath swirl before our eyes. I miss the old single-pained windows that would frost up with Picasso-like crystal engravings.  It was such fun to put one’s finger into the window-art and watch it melt away only to refreeze when we withdrew our fingers.
Soon Thanksgiving will have come and gone.  We will be inundated with music and decorations reminding us that it is time to shop.  Sometimes I hear folks complain about the commercialization of the season, but I don’t mind. It is a good thing to be reminded that we should find something for those we love and for those who do things for us.  Giving is good for us.  Each gift given makes us more like the One who gave everything for us.  Each present bestowed says, “I appreciate you. Thank you for making my life better.”  It really is “the most wonderful time of the year.”

I Can See Clearly Now

Saturday morning our dog was tremendously roiled with the hair on her back standing erect.  Looking out the window I saw an absolutely beautiful red fox slowly moving through our woods.  Calling for my wife she came and was as pleased as I.  Suddenly she realized how clearly she was seeing it without her glasses.  Later that morning while driving to South Lancaster she said to me, “Look how green that field is.  It is so vivid.”  On Thursday she had had a cataract removed.
I immediately thought of a story in Mark 8.  “They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’ Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
Before Jesus came people thought God was a capricious being that treated us with abandon to accomplish His will.  Jeremiah 18 talks of God being a potter that smashes us to pieces if He wills.  Then Jesus came and said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”   Jesus removed the cataracts from our eyes and we now see that the Father’s concern is always what is good for us.  He is not capricious.  He is as steadily good as anything can be in the vastness of the universe.  To the Muslim, God is great.  To the Jew, God was Holy.  To us, God is good.  Now we see. 

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