Our Glorious Inheritance

While filling up my truck with gas I watched a man purchase five lottery scratch tickets. Ever so hopeful he walked out to his car, pulled a quarter from his pocket and scratched away. One, two, three, four and finally number five. Nothing. He didn’t even get his money back. With a look of disgust he threw them in the trash container, looked at me and shook his head. I didn’t know him but I wanted him to win. It would be great fun to see someone win something really big. We can rejoice with them even when we know their euphoria will be short lived. Those kinds of windfalls do not produce long lasting well-being.

So what in this world does produce enduring well-being? I want to answer relationships. Relationships keep on giving for years. Relationships are the best thing on earth. Yet the truth is the more we love the more we will suffer the loss of that loved one for all relationships are guaranteed a future parting. Is there any hope for any good thing to be permanent?

According to Paul there is. In Ephesians 1 Paul tells us God’s great pleasure is to lavish us with riches of grace, wisdom, understanding and great power. Every possible spiritual gift becomes ours. It is a process of giving that begins now and continues on forever. Paul calls it our glorious inheritance. We will not leave earth without it. How very grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 25, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Who Can Discern His Errors?

Somewhere in my house my glasses are hiding from me. It is obvious they decided to do this for surely I would never put them anywhere I could not remember. They must be laughing at me as I now walk past them as my search moves from the obvious locations to the obscure. I know they have to be here. I drove home with them the night before last and did not drive away with them this morning. Fiendishly they mock me as they watch me crawl about on my hands and knees peering under the couch and as I pull the cushions off my favorite chair. This is great sport for them and when I apprehend them I shall punish them by giving them a good bath. In the meantime I am grateful for an old pair that work fairly well even if the prescription is different. All day today my eyes have been trying to readjust to the different lenses.

It is a challenge to see things anew. We like the old way of looking at people and ideas. It is far easier to change our socks then it is to change our mind. Like an old pair of comfortable shoes ideas seat themselves into our way of thinking. Two people see and hear the same thing and yet each sees and hears something differently. What we see or hear is the product of the event liberally sprinkled with pinches of prejudices, predispositions, religious beliefs, family loyalties and what we want to see and hear.

Psalm 19:12, “Who can discern his errors?”

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 23, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

An Empty Box

I returned home from Home Depot this evening ready to fix something in my house. I put the box on the kitchen counter and with tools in hand I opened it all ready to go. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but nothing. I bought an empty box.

I can just see it now. Tomorrow I will go back and try to return the empty box. Will they really believe me? Or will I get the raised eyebrows of skepticism? Will the lady at the return counter say to me, “Mister, you can’t return an empty box.” And I will say, “But it was empty when I bought it.” And she will say, “Mister, how could you be so dumb as to buy an empty box?” “Didn’t you notice anything suspicious when it weighed so little?”

Life does have its trials and tribulations. Actually we would all be blessed if this were the worst thing that ever happened to anyone. Unfortunately we know this is nothing compared to the real tragedies that fall upon people. Unlike some primitive cultures that used to think if something bad happened to you it was because you had done something bad. We know better. In this world good and bad happen to the good and bad.

The promise we have to sustain us through the real trials of life is “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” I Peter 5:10.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 17, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Broken Stuff

Today was one of those days. The amp on the stereo system in my house made a slow fizzling crackling sound through the speakers and died. I went out to go to drive to school and noticed the spot where my wife had parked for the night had a puddle of brake fluid where the right front tire had been. On my way to school the windshield wipers started to go on my truck. I had not turned them on and the switch was still turned off. The printer for my computer is printing pictures with a purple overcast. On my way home from school the interior of the cab of my truck filled with smoke that came pouring out the heating vents. Really. I am not making this up.

So why am I still smiling? All that broken stuff is that. They are just stuff. The really important items in my life like my wife, my sons, my grandchildren, my Jesus, the assurance of forgiveness and salvation, those things are just fine. The glass is not half full. It is almost completely full.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 1: 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

As for all that broken stuff. Tomorrow I will start working on them one by one.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 16, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

God Be with You

Thursday evening one of my students was accompanied to class by her husband. Since they were speaking Spanish to each other I bade him “Adios” upon his departure. So much for trying to be polite. I have since learned that “Adios” in Spanish and “Adieu” in French have the same meaning and are to be used by the person leaving to the person being left behind, which was I. Both words mean, “I commend your safety to God.” The person being left behind should respond in Spanish, “Farewell” meaning, “Have a safe journey.” I hope that I got points for trying. Being wrong is nothing new for me. If degrees were awarded for errors I would have accumulated several doctorates by now.

Our English “Goodbye” actually means the same thing as “Adios.” “Goodbye” is a 16th century contraction of “God be with you.” (God be ye) I had to smile and wonder how many atheists unknowingly say “Goodbye” to their friends and family?

Paul’s favorite closing was similar. Many of his letters finish with “Grace be with you.” Obviously this is a shortened version of “May God continue to shower you with forgiveness and care.”

In Scripture we have many stories of angels visiting people and their opening express usually was, “Do not be afraid.” I think we can certainly understand the need for that. I certainly would need that.

Being that I need to finish now, “Grace be with you.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 11, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Spiritual Calories

It was announced today that the average American consumes over 3800 calories a day, which just happens to be almost twice what the average body needs for healthy maintenance. We have not only super-sized our fries we have super-sized ourselves. One of the reasons given for this lavish indulgence is the easy availability of prepared foods. As we drive down the road we drive by drive-thrus by the dozen. Ultimately one or more of them catch us.

While contemplating our physical dilemma I pondered our spiritual diet. If we could put a caloric number on spiritual food I wonder how many spiritual calories we would need each day for soul maintenance. When would too much be too much? Can we get too much? Probably, but I doubt if there is a danger of that. It is my guess most of us would come up under nourished because we try to pack in the spiritual calories one day a week and then fast for the next six days.

I am fascinated how often Jesus uses the metaphor of eating while speaking of spiritual things. The first one that comes to mind is the Lord’s Supper where He compares the bread to Himself. That brings to mind His discourse in John 6, which infuriated the religious leadership. He closed with the following marvelous promise. “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” Verse 58.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 9, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Hovel to Mansion

In the 1700’s Grigori Potemkin, a lover of Catherine the Great of Russia, build elaborate facades on the front of hovels when Catherine was on tour in the Ukraine and the Crimea leaving her with the impression the economy was flourishing and the people prospering. As I read about this I was reminded of certain corporate officials who were recently exposed for making their corporations appear to be much more profitable than they really were.

I am also reminded of people who pretend to be something they are not. Normally we think that is pretty bad. However it is not always so bad. I pretend every day that I am like Jesus. I even call myself a Christian, which of course means Christ like. I think I am a Potemkin Christian. But maybe the difference is I want the hovel inside to be turned into a mansion.

The good news is Jesus will upon our request send in a remodeling crew of one. It is called the Holy Spirit. He does not mind my pretending to be like Him as long as the effort is genuine and not phony. Jesus said in John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” The result of that will be genuine change and real fruits of the Spirit.

Jesus also said John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

Writtten by Roger Bothwell on October 2, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

We’ve Met the Enemy

According to Will Durant, the author of the award winning series, “The Story of Civilization,” there have been only 29 years in recorded history when war was not being waged somewhere on earth. Most likely there were wars during those 29 years. We just don’t have the records.

No wonder Jesus said, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Matthew 24:6-7

Wars are more common to mankind than a cold. Sometimes when our health is good and our resistance high we can go more than a year without a cold.

Psychologists tell us men love war because it gives us a sense of belonging to a noble cause. The enemy is always evil and so we fight for justice and freedom. If these are the needs of mankind and they do seem to be so, then we have failed to truly present Christianity for what it is. There can be no more noble and righteous cause than for us to battle the evil within and with the aid of the Holy Spirit emerge victoriously becoming more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. Everything we need for the satisfaction of the soul is within. We don’t need to kill our neighbors. As the cartoon character Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 1, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Why Me?

For the German philosopher Immanuel Kant the heart of ethical human behavior is as follows, “Act as if the maxim from which you act were to become through your will a universal law.” I must not seek any privilege for myself that I am not willing to provide to everyone. I must not pass a law for others that I am not willing to obey.

It seems so natural to think of ourselves as better than others and thereby deserving of better treatment. My state trooper should allow me to drive faster than people with out of state license plates. I should get a discount at a store owned by someone who goes to my church. Because I am a Christian I think God should treat me better than those who are not. Jesus seems to disagree with me. He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45

The essence of true morality is A = B. The next time something bad happens to us we must not say, “Why me?” The real question should be “Why not me?” We want to be special. We want everyone to be special. However if everyone is special then no one is special, except maybe in the eyes of our loving heavenly Father. In His eyes everyone can be special. Everyone certainly is unique and for sure each of us is loved.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 10, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

God’s Warranty

This afternoon I sat in the showroom of a car dealer while waiting for my truck to be repaired. It was a slow day. Four salesmen sat without speaking a word to each other as they peered out the window like hunters in the woods at deer season waiting for prey. Oh if only someone could be spotted walking through the lot. I wondered about the pecking order. Which one had the right to pounce? If all four descended upon a victim, he or she would surely flee. A television was on in the corner broadcasting the continued slide of the stock market. The bad news seemed to heighten the intensity of the hunt.

I pulled myself back into the textbook on my lap but then thought about my truck. It is almost out of warranty. That’s why I was there. The repair was not urgent but I wanted to make sure Ford Motor Company paid for it instead of me. It was then that I wondered if the warranty ever runs out on people. Would there ever be a time when our manufacturer refused to fix us at His cost?

In Revelation 22:17 John wrote, “Come. Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” I like that “whosoever.” There does not seem to be a 36,000 mile or 36 month limit here. Young or old, it does not matter, the warranty never expires.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 19, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453.