Roger Bothwell

Roger Bothwell
Roger Bothwell's Devotionals

Spaghetti

I had a great plate of spaghetti this afternoon.  One could tell by looking at me that I enjoyed it because I had tomato sauce on my shirt, on my jacket (a nice jacket) and on my khakis.  Honestly, this is getting pathetic.  I used to look at old men who were wearing their lunch and felt sorry for them.  Am I there?  Has it come to this?  I have never eaten lobster but I have seen people eating it and wearing a bib.  When my boys were little they had bibs with a turned-up catcher on the bottom.  Should I put one on my Christmas list?
 
It’s not the first time I have made a mess.  Actually I have found life to be messy.  As a pastor I have sat through, talked through and prayed through many messes with hurting people.  We start off life with dreams for that perfect life.  Rarely does anyone have that happily-ever-after ride off into the sunset.  Sometimes just when things are going so well tragedy of some sort strikes.  It’s life.  It’s living in a non-perfect world. 
 
The success of life is how one handles the messes.  Do we surrender?  Do we give up our dreams or do we stay in the saddle and reinvent ourselves and make new goals tailored to fit new realities?  One thing we can count on is we never have to face nor clean up the messes by ourselves.  I love the last few verses of Matthew where Jesus says, “Lo, I am with you always.  Even to the end of the world.”  And the Book of Revelation closes with promises of a new life, a new earth, and a place where the messes are no more.

All About ME

Only one student out of sixty this morning knew which teams were playing in the seventh and final game of the World Series.  You can be sure if the Red Sox were playing not only would they have known, they would have been ramped up.   If it doesn’t involve us we don’t care.  I’m sure you have noticed when the news reports an airplane crash somewhere in the world they will tell us how many Americans were on board.  Forget about the Guineans or anyone else. Thousands of people are dying of Ebola in West Africa but we get an almost daily account of the fever of the one and only American being treated in New York City.
 
We are very self-centered beings.  So often we hear someone say after a disaster, “Wow that could have been me.”   As difficult as it might seem to understand, everything isn’t about US.   About now some of you who read these devotionals might say, “Well, most of these devotionals are about something that happened to YOU.”   You’re right.  I am just as self-centered as you.
 
Over and over I hear people say, “Jesus died just for you.”   A good thing to do when preaching is to personalize it.  However, Jesus died for everyone.  I know if only you or I would have accepted Him, He would have still done it.  But that isn’t my point right now.  I’m talking about the fact that each of us is the center of the universe.  Or so we think. 

Every once in awhile I try to do something for someone without their knowing who did it.  It’s a great thing to do because I don’t get the glory for it.   But then again I do glow in the knowledge that I did it.  I am so wonderful!

So Much I Don't Understand

Are you ever struck with an overwhelming sense that you don’t know much about life?  I received a paper from one of my psych students who wrote about being on a patrol in Afghanistan and coming under fire.  One of the four men he was with was killed.  He said he did not cry until he got back to base but then he wept uncontrollably.  He described it as a strange mixture of sorrow for the man lost, relief and thanksgiving that he was safe and unharmed, and guilt for still being alive.  We are complex beings.  Rarely is something simple.
 
I don’t understand Revelation 21:3 & 4 which describes heaven.  It reads, “I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, ‘Now God makes his home with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain. Things are no longer the way they used to be.’”
 
We cry for many reasons. Could it be this passage is speaking only about crying in the context of pain?  Will we not cry for happiness?  Will we not be emotionally overwhelmed by God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice?  When I am happy it overflows out of my eyes. What of crying for our loved ones who are not saved?  Will we no longer care because, “Well, we made it”?  If anything I think our love will be deepened as we become more like our Savior. I do not want to lose the deepest part of my humanity.  There is so much I don’t understand.

"Sonny"

I was in the hallway talking to one of my students this morning when I heard, “Get out the way, Sonny.”  Thinking someone was joking I turned to see an old guy, a really old guy, giving me the evil eye as he shuffled on by.  This guy was so old he wouldn’t have needed the American History textbook he was carrying.  He could just go in the classroom and talk about the time he ate dinner with President Lincoln.  I don’t think I have been called, “Sonny” for the last six decades. Life is all about one’s perspective.
 
I wonder what it is about some old people who feel their advanced years give them the right to be rude.  I hope when I get old I will remember to be kind.  Someone told me he thought the old guy was being kind to call me “Sonny.”  I do have to say it did give me a psychological lift for the day.  But I could tell by the look in his eye he wasn’t interested in boosting my moral.
 
Age really is relative.  When we were in fourth grade kids in sixth grade were really big and important.  But, the promises of Jesus concerning eternal life make age irrelevant.  Really, what is the difference between someone 40,000 years old as opposed to someone 50,000 years old?   We could be best friends considering how close we are in age.  It just won’t matter.
 
So go ahead and call me “Sonny.”  I don’t mind.  Just do it with a twinkle in your eye and smile.  You can make my day.  Actually you will probably make my week.  I know I’ll be thinking about that old curmudgeon all this week.

Getting Our Wings

Angels don’t necessarily have to be ethereal beings with halos and large white wings.  They can come in all manner of shapes and sizes.  I saw two today.  They came in a large pickup truck.  They were wearing work clothes and ball caps and might have needed a shave.  I didn’t notice for sure but being that it was the weekend I figure they might have given their chins and cheeks a rest.  They even had a golden retriever with them who was such a good dog he could have belonged to an angel.  They backed up to my garage and unloaded a freshly cut and split load of dried maple ready for the woodstove.  After a few minutes of neatly stacking in my garage they were gone. I will remember these guy/angels on cold New England evenings when the wind is howling and my woodstove is toasting me.  Needless to say I really love angels like this.   Thanks guys.
 
Each of us can be an angel.  All we need to do to earn our wings is to do something very unselfish and very useful for someone.  In Hebrews 1 angels are called ministering spirits.  If we minister to others we qualify.  We can speak for God in our actions and behaviors.  We want to make sure our speech and behaviors come from the same page.  Sometimes I have heard people say very nice things but not act very nicely.  That’s not very angelic.  Consistency really counts.
 
We can be angels in our workplaces by easing the load of others.  We can be angels in our neighborhoods by helping to create a safe environment for the children on our streets.  Advancement to angelhood can be really rewarding.  I highly recommend it. 

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