Roger Bothwell

Roger Bothwell
Roger Bothwell's Devotionals

Digging to China

When I was very small I dug a large hole in our backyard.  It was large to me.  Most likely it was very small.  When my Dad asked why, I explained that I was digging my way to China because there were hungry children there and I wanted to drop food to them.  Being very kind to me and being the school teacher that he was, he took me inside where we had a globe.  (I still have it.)  He very carefully showed me that my hole would not come out in China but instead in the southern Indian Ocean.  I immediately realized I must stop digging or all the water in the Indian Ocean would fall into my hole and flood Pennsylvania. 
Often I hear people speak with great authority about the nature of God.  I have even been told where heaven is. I hear how old the earth is and what happened to the dinosaurs.  I hear explanations for human behavior and am amazed at the certainty of the speaker.  And yet often I cannot explain my own behavior.  Perhaps it makes people feel secure and good about themselves if they can claim to be an authority in some area. 
I am suspicious that most of us are like a little boy digging a hole in the backyard.  We think we have it all worked out and we could not be more wrong.  But, lest I leave you with the impression that I am totally ignorant I would like to claim a sure knowledge of something shared with me by Paul.  I want to join Paul in saying, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”  II Timothy 1:12.    That is security.

The Ultimate Self-Help

The Self-Help book section at Barnes and Noble is impressive.  There is everything there to help us transform ourselves from wimps to giants.  No matter what deficiency we think we have, there is a book to help us conquer.  We can develop seven healthy habits or work through twelve steps.  We can forget the negative thoughts and realize the power of positive thinking.  It is all there. 
I even saw one entitled “Live to Be a Hundred.”  Honestly I thought that was pretty puny.  Only a hundred?   I realize there is something called the Hayflick Limit which tells us cell replication is limited to 40 to 60 times and then senescence occurs bringing mitosis to a grinding halt.  This puts a cap on human life somewhere in the area of 135 if everything else functioned optimally.   But, in spite of this, 135 is pretty paltry when we consider what Jesus offers.  Barnes and Noble should have a section called, “How to Live Forever.”   It should be an array of various translations of the Bible, the best, the most incredible, the most promising, the most fabulous book ever written. 
Just think of the wonder of Jesus’ promises.  In John 3:16 He said, “Whosoever . . . (That’s you and me.  We are the whosever.) believes in Him shall have everlasting life.”  In John 5 Jesus said, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”  Recently I heard a preacher declare that we all had to face judgment someday.  Apparently he failed to read John 5. 
I realize in a way this isn’t self-help.  It is Jesus help.  But we do have to accept the gift.  That is the ultimate self-help.


Psychologists call it groupthink.  It’s a simple term aptly describing a situation when a population continues to cyclically feed on an idea reinforced by only listening to each other.  North Korea is a prime example of an entire nation closing avenues of communication that might expose them to ideas contrary to the ones they want to maintain.  Members of political parties do the same thing by only listening to or reading editorials that bolster the ideas they already hold.
Churches and Bible study groups are also guilty.  Bible verses are sought as proof texts to maintain isms and tenets.  I have seen situations where access to pulpits was restricted to those belonging to a particular denomination.  The justification being, “What could that unbeliever have to share with us?  We have the truth.”  Many years ago I heard (with my own ears) one of my church leaders denounce us for having books that were not published by our church’s publishing house.
This was the rational used by the population of Nazareth when they sought to throw Jesus off a cliff.  “How dare he tell us things like this?”   In so thinking the religious leadership ultimately demanded that the Romans crucify Jesus.  Groups often become paranoid thinking the world is out to get them because they dare to think differently from the masses, thus turning themselves into God’s elect at the expense of all others.
To be open to the power of the Holy Spirit requires an open mind and the sharing of ideas.  Unless we are open, the only way the Holy Spirit can get through to us with a new idea is to knock us off our horses.  Well, He does have a history of doing that.  Just ask Paul.

Savor The Day

My dog has absolutely no sense of savoring her food.  I open a can, put it in her bowl, toss the can, and when I look back her bowl is empty.  And of course she wants more. This is ridiculous.  It’s good looking food.  Chunky and laden with smooth gravy.  It looks so good I want to get a spoon.  If only she would learn to savor it, it would last so much longer and be so much more gratifying.  I want to say she just doesn’t know how to savor but when you rub her tummy she is the poster girl of savoring.  Tummy rubbing could go on all day.
Life is best when it is savored.  When my son went to first grade, he came home after the first day and announced that tomorrow he would be in second grade.  The next day he came home and announced that tomorrow he would be in third grade. That is when his mother and I stepped in with a big “NO.”   Life was not meant to be rushed along.  The world does not need twelve year old doctors.  Twelve year olds need to learn to savor the joys of enriched learning. 
Many of my friends speak of wanting Jesus to come so this period of life would be over.  While I am not a masochist thinking we should enjoy pain, it would be grand if we could approach each day with a wonder for the experiences and lessons to be learned.  Maybe it is only on the latter side of this life that we realize that each day is a gift.  Do young people cry when listening to “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof?  Or is that reserved for parents and grandparents? 
“This is the day the Lord has given.  Rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24

To Preserve and Not Diminish

We have a new neighbor, who in an attempt to protect their new home, put up an unsightly red sign in the front yard stating they have installed Xfinity’s home security system.  The owners next door have an equally unsightly sign saying they are protected by ADT.  We have another neighbor who put up a sign advising dog walkers to curb their dog.  I find myself wondering why someone would spend decades of their life’s earnings for the lovely home of their dreams and then deliberately uglify it.  I do believe if I were an educated burglar the security signs would be for me a dare, a challenge, sport.  As for the dog sign, it was many, many times larger than what a dog would leave behind.
It seems that we humans often approach a problem with solutions that diminish what we are trying to preserve.  After 9/11 in an endeavor to preserve ourselves we voted away some basic freedoms.  We might have been safer but our precious values, earned by the blood of our forefathers, were diminished.
Fortunately for us God chose to preserve His values rather than diminishing them.  Freedom of choice, the hallmark of His government, could have been sacrificed.  He is all powerful.  He could have established a world that “would not” because they “could not” rebel.  What He would have been left with was a planet filled with beings without love, for love is only love when it is freely given and freely received.  Instead He preserved.  He gave us His Son that He might solve the sin problem by elevating Jesus on a cross. 
The beauty of a home, the nature of a nation, the love of God’s children must be preserved without diminishment.

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