The Ides of May

It’s the ides of May and New England is dressed with blossoms.  Walking about is a feast for the soul.  Robert Frost, our New England poet from California, must have had the same feelings as I when he wrote in his poem called, A Prayer in Spring. “Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today; and give us not to think so far away as the uncertain harvest; keep us here all simply in the springing of the year.”

How often are we so full of memories or looking forward to something we miss out on now.  When we are thinking of some coming trip somewhere exotic, we forget to look about at our local beauty others travel far to see.  Often we dig deep for causes in some far off land when someone in our neighborhood needs our help.   Now and here is usually a pretty nice place chronologically and geographically.

Our hummingbirds are back for the summer and in A Prayer in Spring Frost wrote, “The meteor that thrust in with needle bill, and off a blossom in mid air stands still.”  Hummingbirds are so amazing people would travel around the world to see one if they were not so common.  Ah the problem of common.  We think little of the miracles we see every day.  God loves us so much and like a good father He fills our lives with miraculous events.  It is no wonder Paul wrote in Romans 1, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” We don’t have to travel afar.  We can see it outside our windows.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 16, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


The Check Was In the Mail

Decades ago when we were teaching in Africa someone stole the tires and wheels off our car.  It cost over a month’s salary to replace them. Needless to say I was more than a bit miffed at God who promised me in Malachi 3,   “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.  Then I will rebuke the devourer for you.’”  I kept my part of the bargain.  Where was His’?    I found out just one day later.   We received a letter from our church’s world headquarters in Maryland.  It said, “We discovered we have for the past year been underpaying you.  Please find enclosed a check for the balance.”  It was EXACTLY the amount needed for the new tires and wheels.  Actually the tires needed to be replaced.  I had a lot of crow-eating to do with God.  I figure He was quite amused at my anger considering He knew “the check was in the mail.”

Ever since then I have had a special place in my heart for Isaiah 65:24, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” I was reminded of this story this week because we just purchased something online as a present for one of our granddaughters who is graduating in two weeks.  It arrived on our doorstep before we got the email saying it had been sent!

Don’t you just love being part of God’s family?  Our Father is the best.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 13, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

Averting Disaster

My wife put in an unusually long day working away from home.  Arriving home from an eleven hour day she asked, “Are you upset with me for being gone so long?”  Uh Oh.  If I said, “No,” I risked communicating that I was fine with her absence.  Not a good thing!  If I said, “Yes,” I would have been asserting my residual chauvinistic bias inherited from cavemen.  I would have been interfering with her autonomy as a woman of the twenty-first century.  There was no way I was going to win this one.  Where was Solomon when I needed him?

Negotiating one’s way through life is fraught with relational pitfalls. Harmony is often maintained by compromise and artful responses.  I had nothing.  Instantly I thought of James 1:5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  So in a millisecond I asked.  We don’t have to explain the details of our dilemmas to God when we pray.  He’s been watching.  He already knows.  “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”  Isaiah 65:24.  It is refreshing to know we are not alone when catastrophe looms.  In the last verse of Matthew 24 Jesus promised, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Without pause the following flowed from my lips. “The dog and I really missed you.  We miss you no matter how long you are gone.”  Phew.  Armageddon was diverted.  However, I do wonder. Was that a smug look on her face as she went upstairs?

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 12, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Worlds, Worlds and More Worlds

Today NASA added a record 1284 new planets to the existing list of planets outside our solar system bringing the total now to 3200.   Nine of the new planets seem to be in a favorable zone for life.  It brings new meaning to Hebrews 1:2 which says, “In these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”  And Hebrews 11:3, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.”

The expression “word of God” doesn’t mean God said some magic phrase like “Hocus Pocus.”  The word “word” means creation came out of the body of His wisdom.  God is a scientist and not a magician.  He creates worlds because He knows how, not because He discovered some magic combination of words.  Jesus is the Word of God.  See John 1.  Jesus is all of God’s character expressed in a marvelous God/human being.   This is so far beyond our comprehension.

As we find these new planets we are, of course, only opening page one of a million page book filled with God’s maps.  Can you imagine missing out on all the places to go and see.  I feel like a promotion for Dr. Seuss’ book, Oh the Places You Will Go.  It is a great title for us.  We can add to it, Oh the Things You Will See.  We are on the cusp of great adventures.  Willy Wonka sang it so well.  “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.”   Imagination that becomes reality for all those who put their trust in Jesus.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 11, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



The Choice Was Ours

Many years ago my family and I were flying across country in a Piper Arrow.  As we entered the southwest we spent the afternoon weaving our way around storm cells.  As we neared Phoenix we skirted about a storm and hurriedly landed for fuel hoping to be back in the air before it arrived over Phoenix.  We were all fueled and taxied to the number one position for takeoff when we got the following message, “Piper Arrow you are cleared for takeoff.  However, the 747 behind you has chosen to wait because of wind shears on all four quadrants.  What would you like to do?”   Obviously we chose to wait.

Notice the choice was ours.  The air traffic controller gave us clearance and then offered some very pertinent information.  God does much the same.  He gives us free control over our lives.   He also offers pertinent information hoping we will be wise enough to heed His counsel.  As we sat at the end of the runway the storm moved over us and the winds gave us a good shaking even as we sat on the ground.  I was so glad we were not in the air.

Sometimes even when we are trying to do what God asks of us we get battered about.  We think it is bad but had we not heeded God’s advice it would have been so very much worse.  Just as a good pilot trusts the air traffic controller so does a good child of God trust Him.  The air traffic controller does not want an accident to happen and neither does God.   “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 10, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Oops – I Did It Again

One our neighbors was approached by another neighbor who proceeded to chastise her for having loose items in her city-provided garbage container.  (Our city wants all garbage to be bagged.)  With amazement she asked, “How do you know that?”  He responded, “I came over and looked.”  If you think that’s strange, come and visit me and I will tell you some even stranger stuff about the guy.

As I listened I thought of how often we dig around in other people’s pasts to find some juicy bit of garbage.  We use it to spice up our conversations.  It seems to be our nature to enjoy that better than saying, “That Harold is a really great guy.”  It is no wonder Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15 we will be changed.  If not, heaven will be a boring place because there won’t be any garbage to tell about each other.  No, I haven’t lost track of the fact that I just invited you over to tell you things I can’t write about.  I’m just as guilty as you are.  And you are.   Don’t pretend not to be.

In James 3 we read about how dangerous our tongues seem to be.   The chapter finishes with. “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  So the lesson is obvious. Let’s cease looking into other’s garbage.  I’m sure you are like me in wanting to reap that harvest of righteousness.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 6, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


The Red Button

You cannot watch the 6:30 evening network news without being bombarded with drug commercials.  I am fascinated with all the acronyms for newly invented disorders.  “If you have a severe case of ISN please be sure to ask your physician for a prescription of IJ19.”  “Don’t take IJ19 if you are allergic to IJ19.”  Duh!  Why would anyone take anything if one is allergic to it?  I remember being in the hospital with a morphine pump and reacting so seriously to just one press of the red button they immediately took the red button away from me.  Did they really think I was stupid enough to press it again?

However, people don’t seem to be overly bright regarding sins.  Sin is anything that is not good for us.  That’s why God calls them sins. Yet, we seem to keep going back to them over and over.  Perhaps the issue is that often the allergic reaction is delayed and the results don’t manifest themselves until it is too late.  God regards us as being more intelligent than the nurses regarded me.  He doesn’t take away the red button.  He counts on us exercising our free will to take care of ourselves.  In other words, God respects us and doesn’t treat us like children.  Now if only we would act more responsibly.

God is so amazing.  He is so anxious to have us with Him for eternity He actually forgives us for our reckless behaviors and will on resurrection morning give us a brand new body and brain.  However, we will still have free choice and God is counting on us being smart enough to never again “press the red button.”  See          I Corinthians 15:51–54.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 5, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


We have all received invitations to events where the inviter wishes for us to RSVP.  They want us to respond.  But what do those letters actually mean?   It is a French expression.  “Répondez s’il vous plaît.”  I never knew that until right now when I Googled it.  Telling you that reveals my lack of social education.   I’m sorry I am not more couth.

I bring this up because I was reading II Peter 1 and came across the following, “Make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”   God has sent us an invitation to attend the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.   See Revelation 19:6-9.  It is fascinating that He wants us to confirm or RSVP.  We are tempted to think He already knows how many place settings to have ready.  He can tell the heavenly caterers how much food to prepare.  Why does He need an RSVP?   Once again it’s for us.  Everything He ever asks of us is for us.  By sending Him an RSVP we commit ourselves to attend.

A rich young man approached Jesus and said, “What must I do to be saved?”   Jesus’ answer was basically, “Please send my Father an RSVP.”  Yes, I know Jesus told Him to sell his goods and give it to the poor.  Jesus was saying, “Clear your calendar.”   Get rid of everything and anything that would conflict with the invitation.  God’s invitation is the best invitation we will ever receive.  Clear your calendar.  Cancel anything that would interfere.  That will be your RSVP.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 4, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


We Few, We Happy Few

The art of preaching is the art of motivation. One can move a crowd with fear, another can do it with pride, another can motivate with love.  If you have attended church much in your life you will have heard all three.  Perhaps some of the best motivators are football coaches during halftime or corner men between rounds getting their man back into the ring.  Two of the best motivation speeches ever have to be found in the film Brave Heart and in Shakespeare’s Henry V.   In both situations men are about to go onto a killing field.  Henry V says to his men, “This story shall the good man teach his son . . . We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother. . . . And gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

In I Peter 1:12 we read that angels longed to understand the secrets of the Gospel that have been shared with us.  For eternity we, the redeemed, shall be princes and princesses of the Most High and beings from the far stretches of the universe will know that we, sinful as we were, weak as we were, were the apple of God’s eye.  We few, we happy few, recipients of the blood of the King of the Universe will forever be special.  Angels will not hold their positions cheap but they will know that we were blessed to be from earth.  Only we will be privileged to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.   Revelation 15:3.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 23, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

I Have a Verse for You

If you are looking for a great verse to start off your week, look no further.  I have a verse for you.  It is Philippians 1:18-19.  Paul is praying for us and he said,  “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

If you ever wonder how you are going to make ends meet, rejoice.  You have an extravagantly rich Father who has promised that you will participate fully in the family will.  The great part is you get your inheritance without Him having to die.  He can enjoy watching you prosper as He lavishes every blessing upon you.  Notice also in Philippians 1, “In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”

Don’t skip over the words “lavish”, “pleasure” and “adoption to sonship.”  Also note “freely given.”  It is no wonder the first four books of the New Testament are called Gospels.  Good News really isn’t strong enough.  We need more powerful words to describe what is in store for us.  Oh, there’s another good word Paul mentions.  We receive “great power.”   Say yes to Jesus.  Accept the gift and welcome to the family.  There is plenty for all.   There are no losers.  Everyone is a winner!

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 2, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574