Part of taking my dog for a walk each day is giving her a chance to socialize. In just a mile she gets to visit with Peanut, Bailey, Cora, Sebastian, and Annie. There is a lot of sniffing that goes on as greetings are exchanged. Then there are others that bark at us from the confines of their homes as we pass by. There are at least four of them. We don’t know their names. Just last week a new player arrived on the social scene. His name is Bruno. Believe me when I tell you that Bruno is big. Until now she has been the Big Dog. No longer is this so. Up until now she has played the big “I’ll take care you” role. She keeps between me and the others making sure I am safe. But since Bruno has arrived she makes sure she is behind me. Suddenly I am the “You’ll take care of me.” She doesn’t even put up her ruff. She does her best to hide.
How thankful I am that God is a bit more faithful as my shield and protector. David wrote, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18. Paul wrote, “If God be for us who can be against us?” Romans 8. Unfortunately bad things do happen to God’s children. Fortunately they are only temporary and God has the final say. If there are any adjustments to be made He will more than make up what will be needed. So don’t be afraid of the Brunos of this world. The REALLY BIG DOG is on our side.
Written by Roger Bothwell on November 30, 2015
The little wise men and the shepherds were ready. The designated donkey jockeyed his hat bearing long ears. The little boy shifted his camel hump. Joseph was bearded and standing tall. The manger was waiting and the congregation was wondering why the delay. All were antsy as the clock on the wall ticked away the day. But something very important was happening. Baby Jesus wasn’t finished eating. Mommy was so warm and nice. Finally there was a coo. It was time to go. It was a grand program.
All I ever saw of baby Jesus was the top of a tiny head with a swirl of new-born hair. It was all I needed for my memory to hear Mahalia Jackson sing Sweet Little Jesus Boy. “We didn’t know who you was.” We know now. Those tiny hands grew big and strong and were calloused from the carpenter shop. They were to hold nails so differently from what He learned from Joseph.
The angels and the universe are ready. The world strains with pain. God’s children pray. The clock in the throne room ticks away the centuries. Jesus is not yet ready but will come at the exact precise moment when all is right. He waits. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9. Just as when our baby Jesus finished his lunch so our King of King Jesus will finish His heavenly duties and as Paul describes, “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” I Corinthians 15. Not long. Not long now
Written by Roger Bothwell on December 5, 2016
A flight attendant came down the aisle with the food cart. When she got to one couple she noticed they were both asleep. Many flight attendants would choose not to disturb the sleepers and just pass them by. However, this flight attendant, quietly as possible, lowered their tray tables and carefully arranged their meals for them. After several minutes passed one of the passengers stirred and joyfully found her meal in front of her.
This is somewhat the way God takes care of us. He prepares a table for us often without our knowing He is doing so. Sometimes we are sleeping or we are very busy with life and do not seem to notice.
In Acts 14 we find the story of Paul and Barnabas healing a crippled man. The people of the city were very excited and proclaimed Paul and Barnabas to be gods. Quickly Paul corrected their error and in pointing them to the real God he said, “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
Our God knows your needs and provides for you. He will never let you down. Never!
Written by Roger Bothwell on November 21, 2002
She was 91 and her obituary described her as a good bingo player. “A Good Bingo Player.” That was it. She was 91 and all that could be said about her was she watched her bingo card carefully so as to not miss a number. Was she a mother? Was she a grandmother? A great-grandmother? Was she a good wife? Did she like to cook? Had she ever volunteered for a community service project? Did she ever write anything or read a good book? Did she raise a family? Was she a Methodist or a Catholic? So many questions could be asked. But her last line in life was, “She was a good bingo player.” It is obvious the last people to care for her and to notify the newspaper never really knew her.
But then again does anyone ever really know us? Do we ever really know ourselves? Fortunately, the one who counts the most really does know us. Jesus said, “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31. And Paul reminds us in Romans 2:16, “This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ.” I rejoice in knowing that the one who knows our secrets also loves us.
What would we want the newspaper to say about us when reporting our demise? How about “a good daughter,” “a good dad,” “a good wife,” or “a good grandpa?”
Written by Roger Bothwell on November 10, 2002
I have a confession to make. My favorite store is Dollar Tree. One never knows exactly what will be available. When wandering about I stock up on things I know I will eventually need. If I see my usual kind of toothpaste I will get a tube even though I’m not in an immediate need.
I do the same thing with memorizing verses from Scripture. Not always is a text needed for an immediate problem. But it’s good to have just in case. The Psalms have texts about enemies. I don’t have any. (Oh, I know there are people that don’t wish me well. That makes me their enemy. It doesn’t make them mine.) David seemed to have several enemies. It must be the price one pays for being important.
But back to the idea of storing up things for future needs. One can’t have too many verses tucked away. Modern poems are like that as well as Psalms. When I was in high school our English teacher had us memorize many poems by Robert Frost. Now decades later as I ride around New England I see rock walls, woods and many things that bring them to memory. I love it. It adds so much to an afternoon drive. I have even stopped by a wood on a snowy evening to watch it fill up with snow.
Treat yourself. Exercise your brain. Learn some memory verses. Just one a week will next year at this time put 52 new arrows in your quiver. They also create pathways for God to talk to you. I realize He can talk to you anytime but it doesn’t hurt to make it easier for Him by storing up His Word in your heart. Psalm 119:11.
Written by Roger Bothwell on December 2, 2016
You know those commercials where the little old lady falls on the floor and cries out, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Well, it happened last night to my older sister. She lives alone and fell out of bed. She didn’t have to cry out. She has one of those buttons hanging from her neck. She pressed the button and in a few minutes blue lights were flashing through her front windows. Someone picked the lock on her door and four firemen came in. Gently they picked her up, put her in bed, tucked her in, smoothed her hair and locked the door on the way out. I asked if one of them kissed her goodnight. All she would say was, “I’m not a kiss and tell girl.” I think she had such a good time we might have a problem with her doing it again tonight.
One of my favorite verses comes from the story of Lazarus in John 11. It’s about falling. “After he had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’” Jesus specializes in picking up the fallen. Whether we have fallen into sin and fallen from grace or have fallen asleep as Lazarus did, Jesus is the fireman to come and rescue. So the big question is did you fall today? Did you need Jesus to pick you up. Of course you did. That was a stupid question. But don’t be tempted to deliberately fall. Remember Romans 6 says, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” This is such a great truth. I never get over how wonderful, practical and applicable is the Gospel.
Written by Roger Bothwell on November 30, 2016
Today is a day from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. There are no birds, there are no squirrels. My bird feeders hang dormant. The suet feeders are untouched. Normally when this happens it is short lived because our neighborhood hawk is present. But this was all day. Could there be an owl on my roof that I cannot see? It is rainy and gray but that alone should not explain the total dearth. I feel like singing Peter Paul and Mary’s Where Have All the Flowers Gone and swap the word flowers with the word birds.
Just as I miss the birds so would God miss us if we were not part of His family. Perhaps that’s not true. While the absence of birds leaves me vacant, God’s missing us is a thousand times more devastating to Him. One of the most poignant passages of Scripture is Matthew 23:37. Jesus is weeping over Jerusalem. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
When Jesus told us to pray “Our Father” He revolutionized our approach to God. God is not merely the all powerful, all knowing force in the universe. He is the head of a family. The universe isn’t just about galaxies, solar systems and worlds unnumbered. It is about family. We just had Thanksgiving and not everyone was blessed to sit at a table with all their children and grandchildren. Those not there were missed. Revelation 19 tells us about the wedding feast of the Lamb. It will be a glorious event with all of God’s children in attendance. If you are not there you will be missed. For sure – you will be missed.
Written by Roger Bothwell on December 1, 2016
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be something else or someone else? What or who would you be if you could just for 24 hours not be you? Would you be someone famous; an actor, a politician, an athlete, a gifted musician, a great preacher? Would you be a different race or gender? Would you be a lion on an African savanna or your pet dog? Would you so enjoy it you would not want to return to being you? Or would you find it so distasteful 24 hours would be way too long?
Jesus did such a thing. He was the Creator and He became one of His created and not for 24 hours but for a shortened lifetime on this very small planet. He was rich and became poor. He was loved and became hated. Each of us searches for meaning for our lives. After the age of 13 He knew His meaning. He had sent ahead a manual (Isaiah) telling Him what He was to be and how to be it. He was to be wounded for our transgressions and be mangled by men.
I wonder if pigeons on a wire wonder about all the hustle that passes below and where is their place in the grand scheme. I doubt it. We seem to be the only creatures haunted by a quest for meaning. If my dog wonders about meaning it certainly is limited to the now and not related to eternity. She is here to bark at the UPS man and to tell me when the postman has arrived. Today she even had something to say about a small airplane that passed overhead. But we are different. We have meaning and purpose and that is our quest.
Written by Roger Bothwell on November 29, 2016
We just returned from Boston Symphony Hall where our souls were nourished for two and half hours as we listened to Handel’s Messiah. It is not difficult to pinpoint my favorite five minutes. I know we all stood for the Hallelujah Chorus but for me the best was yet to come. It was the very next aria “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and tho’ worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep.” Job 19 and I Corinthians 15.
When the soprano sings “I know that my redeemer liveth” I want to jump and shout, “Yes, Yes, Yes.” This old body grows decrepit but I gladly trade it in for the newest best model. There won’t be a next year’s model because it will be the best possible model. That’s not because there won’t be any needed or wanted additions it is because it comes with never ending self/divine improvement software.
I did notice that some did not stand for the Hallelujah Chorus so I watched them at the end when the soloists came out for their bows. Those same people stood, applauded and some even yelled, “Bravo.” I should hold my judgment because I’m sure each had their personal reasons. But for me if I stand to applaud a fellow human whose accomplishment was to sound good, why not stand for the praise, honor and glory for the one who shall reign forever and ever because He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Tonight I shall go to bed hearing in my head, “I know that my redeemer liveth” and I will sleep well.
Written by Roger Bothwell on November 28, 2016
Thanksgiving is almost a synonym for food. Food preparation is not one of my gifts. Therefore about halfway through the holiday I begin to feel guilty. While I am watching football while others are busy in the kitchen. Trying to compensate I look for little things that I can do that might be helpful. So when I saw the dishwasher full of dishes it was a serendipitous opportunity for me to do something other than freeload. So I quickly put in the dishwasher soap and turned it on. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I heard, “Who turned on the dishwasher? They were clean!!” Alas. No good deed goes unpunished.
I have a friend who belongs to a church that baptizes by immersing three times – one for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit. He never said so bit I think he thinks I’m not really baptized since I was only immersed once. Then of course there are those who were merely sprinkled. And we can go one further and mention the thief on the cross who wasn’t even sprinkled.
Actually we are saved by grace and not by any rite; otherwise it would be salvation by ritual. Salvation is a heart experience with our maker. Salvation is saying, “Lord, I want to be like you.” Salvation is saying, “I am disgusted with myself and know I can only be clean if you say so.” Salvation is knowing Jesus also says to us, “This day you will be with me in my kingdom.” And how does that happen? Merely by asking. It is easy to make God happy. Fathers are like that. Yeah, they are.
Written by Roger Bothwell on November 26, 2016