Where Is God?

In the nursing home where my mother resides there is a lady who is loudly verbally abusive of the people who so lovingly care for her. I am amazed how very patient are the caregivers. They take it with a smile. Last evening as I came by her door I heard her yell, “Hey God, what are you doing up there?”

At first I remembered Elijah on Mt. Carmel mocking the priests of Baal. Because they could not get a response Elijah asked them if Baal was on a journey or taking a nap. As a child I thought that was very funny. But I grew up and learned the people on their way to the death camps during WWII wrote on the walls of the cattle cars, “Where is God?”

And so it has been throughout the ages, men have struggled to answer the question, “If God is loving why does He allow such pain?” I along with you have heard many preachers bravely try to defend God with a variety of reasons.

Perhaps the only thing that we can say for sure is God decided to bear it with us. In Isaiah 53 we read, “Surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrows. With his stripes we are healed.” No one can ever say, “God you don’t understand.” He was here. We tortured Him to death. He knows the pain. And He promises when this is period of sin and death is over He will make all things new. Sin and death will be no more. It’s a promise worth clinging to.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 14, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

A Forest Mystery

Last summer while walking in the forest we found a teddy bear sitting in a tree. We wondered how he got into the woods. It is difficult to imagine a small child dropped him there because it is not a place a small child would be unless he or she was with an adult and surely the adult would retrieve something as important as a lost teddy bear. The only semi-rational thing I could come up with is a dog picked it up in a yard and transported it.

I will never know for sure. Well, this afternoon, an entire year later, we saw a brown lump under a tree and sure enough it was the teddy. He survived an entire year out there without having a raccoon, a skunk or a porcupine rip him to shreds. We had snow cover from mid-November until mid-April. All that time he must have slept under the snow. He does look a bit worse for the wear.

But then we all look a bit worse for the wear of another year. And we did not spend the year outdoors under the snow. There is more gray hair, a few more wrinkles and heavier bags under our eyes. It is a bit more difficult to retrieve names of people we have not seen for years. However, this is all temporary. There is a wonderful promise in Revelation 21:5. Jesus says, “Behold I make all things new.” “All things.” That means us. We get all new parts this time manufactured to never wear out or break. It is such a grand promise.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 13, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

God’s 911 Service

A police spokesman in West Palm Beach, Florida, has reported they have a 22-year-old man who has called 911 over 900 times in eight weeks. He did not have any emergencies.

I thought of Psalm 91:15, “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Right from the beginning God set up a 911 service (no phone needed). The reason I thought of this is I know a person who is fearful of most everything around him and is constantly praying for strength and protection. I certainly do not want to discourage people from bothering God with their needs because you cannot bother God. However, there needs to be a reasonable balance in life. God has given us talents, resources, brains and a task to do. Surely He is exasperated when we keep calling Him for help when we haven’t utilized what He has already given us.

Psalm 46:1 calls God an ever-present help. However, like every good parent surely He longs for us to grow up. He wants us to mature. This does not mean doing it alone but it does mean showing initiative and creativity by setting our hands to the tasks before us. He will not fail us nor depart from us but neither does He want to mow the yard for us when we have the strength to do it for ourselves.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 11, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

A Wrong Decision

Because our trash collectors come through our neighborhood about six in the morning most everyone puts their trash out the prior evening. As we came home this evening my wife spotted a wonderful chest one of our neighbors was throwing away. “Oh,” she said, “I would like to have that.”

I like to get my wife things she likes, especially if it is free. Therefore, I decided just as soon as it got dark I would retrieve that wonderful chest. I could not bring myself to get it during daylight lest my neighbors think of me as a dumpster diver. Isn’t pride something? My pride cost me. When I went for it, it was gone. Another neighbor beat me to it. Apparently it was someone with a bit less pride than I.

Ever since I was a boy I wondered about Acts 26:28. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.’” Did Agrippa not accept Jesus because he was not intellectually convinced or was it a matter of pride. Did he think he might lose some personal status with other dignitaries if he responded positively to Paul? I don’t know. But, what I do know is Agrippa missed out on the best thing ever offered to any person. He missed an offer to live forever.

I hope none of us ever allow our pride to interfere with our eternal future. We must never be ashamed to acknowledge Jesus. If we do acknowledge Him, He will acknowledge us before the Father. That’s a promise. See Matthew 10:32

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 10, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

The Master of Time

On my way to class this morning I quickly picked a Bible from my shelf to read Hebrews 1:2. When I opened it to read, it did not say what I had expected. I was reminded how mentally dependent I had become on the King James Version.

I wanted to talk about Jesus being the creator of “worlds,” plural. However, the translation I had in class didn’t say “worlds.” During a break I double-checked the King James and it did say “worlds” so I checked the Greek and to my amazement the word the King James translated “worlds” is more like “ages.” Jesus is charge of the ages.

I really liked that idea. Jesus is God incarnate. Before anything that was He is. I wanted to say “He was.” But in John 8:58, “Jesus said, Before Abraham was, I am.” He wants us to understand tenses are for us. In our past He is. In our present He is. In our future He is. He is the eternal commander of the ages. There never was a time when He was not and there will never be a time when He will not be.

Time is such a relative item. It takes 176 Earth days for Mercury to rotate on its axis (a Mercurian day) but it only takes 88 Earth days for it to orbit the sun (a Mercurian year). Thus if we lived on Mercury our years would be shorter than our days. We might find it confusing and difficult to note our birthdays but for our creator it is no problem. He is the master of time.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 8, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453


As I entered our post office this afternoon I passed a lady in the lobby whispering in her cell phone, “I killed her. I dropped a board on her head and thought she was just unconscious, but she’s dead!”

“Wow,” I thought! “This is amazing.”

Out of the corner of her eye she saw me look startled. Quickly she finished her call and got in line behind me. I could feel her presence and thought how thankful I was she was not holding a board. She tapped me on the shoulder. As I turned around she said, “It was my son’s lizard. I killed my son’s lizard and I am in big trouble at home.”

“Phew,” I thought. “I guess I do not now have to join the witness protection program. Ahh, but maybe she just made up the lizard part of the story.”

How often do we make snap judgments about others because we hear snippets of conversation? How often do we spread stories full of suppositions because we think we are so clever putting the snippets together? How often does someone not get a job promotion because we have spread a snippet totally out of context? I know people who build Bible doctrines using snippets. They take part of a verse here and another one there and put them together to create some fantasy concept the writers of Scripture never intended. While Scripture is the Word of God written for all of us, it never hurts to get context. The Bible did not happen in a vacuum. It came to us from an ancient culture.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 2, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Best Friends

There is an historical event so overwhelming with sorrow, weeping, confession, forgiveness, mercy and love we are not given any information regarding its details. It happened when Jesus met with Peter the first time after the resurrection. The last time they were together Peter renounced any relationship with Jesus. He did this within earshot of Jesus who looked down from the porch into the court and the cock crowed. Peter knew Jesus heard him. Talk about getting caught!

Peter and Jesus were best friends. They fished together. They traveled together. Peter was with Jesus on the Mountain of Transfiguration. He saw Moses and Elijah come from heaven to meet with Jesus. He declared his willingness to die for Jesus and indeed proved his loyalty that very night in the Garden of Gethsemane. He pulled out a sword and started to fight. He would have fought to the death had not Jesus called to him to stop. That was the problem. He did all he knew how to do and it was the wrong thing. Peter is so much like us.

When he saw the empty tomb on Sunday morning and knew Jesus was alive the conflict must have been horrendous. He wanted desperately to see Jesus but had to be afraid because of the three denials. What unfolded when Jesus came to him needed no background violins or soft piano music to build emotion. This was a scene of two men embraced in reconciliation.

If Jesus could do that for Peter just think of what he can do for you and me.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 1, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Who Is Your Author?

I know an author who tells me the most fun thing in life is the creation of a character. However, contrary to popular opinion once the character is created the author does not have the freedom to have him or her do anything the author desires. Once the personality is formed the character must remain consistent for the story to be believable. Once the characters are on paper they write the story and the author along with us is often surprised at the ending.

Sometimes we think because God is God He can make us do anything He wills. He could have made the universe that way but He didn’t. Instead He created these marvelous thinking, choosing creatures we call us. We have the power to become the kind of person we desire. We can be strong if we want. However, there is a downside to being strong. If so, then you have to be willing to be responsible. Some of us choose to be weak and let others lead. When things go wrong it is not our fault. There are so many things we can be. Each has its pluses and minuses.

Each of us is an author. Each of us will stand before God and show Him what we have written. However, there is one thing we do not have to write. Hebrews 12:2 reads, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; . . .” If we choose Jesus will author that for us. He will be responsible for us. We can choose to author our own faith but I don’t think we would like the ending.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 30, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

An Invitation to You

While my wife had the car out of the garage I figured it was a good time to clean out the leaves. Revving up the blower I went to work. However, it was windy outside and as fast as I blew them out one side they blew back in the other side. It was a hopeless endeavor.

I laughed at the absurdity of my endeavor. What I was trying to do seemed so much like Solomon’s essay of despair. Repeatedly in Ecclesiastes he says, “All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (NIV) In “The Message” it reads like this, “It’s nothing but smoke and spitting into the wind.”

Solomon had tried everything there was to try in life. He satiated himself with work and pleasure. His analysis was neither very satisfying. Both the hard worker and the lazy man ended up in the same place: the grave. But he did conclude in chapter 8 that “There’s nothing better than being wise, knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. Wisdom puts light in the eyes and give gentleness to words and manners.”

I guess I wasn’t so wise trying to blow out the leaves on a windy day. However, one very wise thing I have done and invite you to do with me. Make Jesus your savior. Let Him be all He has promised to be because He came to give us an abundant life. Had Solomon known Jesus I am sure the book of Ecclesiastes would be much different because Jesus makes all the difference. There is much meaning to life.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 27, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Pilate Saith . . .

Storytelling is as old as man. As the ancients sat about the fire warming their hands they warmed their minds with stories of long passed heroes. In the courts of kings there would be many storytellers each in a designed location making it possible for people to move from storyteller to storyteller depending upon their interest. I thought of this the other evening when I tired of a television program and changed the channel to something I found more interesting.

Just as there were court jesters we have comedians. They had those who chronicled their heritage and we have the History Channel. The comparisons can continue on. They even had weather prophets. Not much has changed: just the medium. Perhaps one thing has changed. We have few heroes left. One by one scholars have unveiled the moral defects of past greats leaving us with halls of shame instead of fame.

Perhaps the fault is within us all. If the greats were not perfect maybe I can sooth myself concerning my faults. After all is it not easier to lower someone to my level instead my disciplining myself to rise to theirs? So the world is left with mediocrity and we are all the poorer for every generation needs heroes to inspire it’s youth to be more tomorrow than they are today.

Is it so difficult for us to bear perfect people? “Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 13, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453