The Tattooed Lady

It was in the late 1940s when the circus came to town with its elephants, bears and tigers.  They took the animals off the train cars and walked them through town to a big tent.  It was all very exciting.  These were the days way before being politically correct and the circus came with a side show.  There was a fat lady, a midget, a tall skinny guy, a snake charmer and for two cents you could see the tattooed lady from far away Borneo. (She was probably from Brooklyn.) My mother would have had a fit if she had known my father had taken me inside.

It all came back to me this afternoon at Denny’s.  A scantily clad tattooed woman paraded by our table.  I didn’t even have to pay two cents.  She looked askance at me for staring.  But really isn’t that what she wanted?

Most of the time I wish to be invisible but there are times when I do want to be seen.  Those are the times I want people to see Jesus.  I’m not too wild about that when just walking down the street but if I am in the classroom or with a group of friends I do so hope my demeanor would radiate the love and kindness of the One I wish to be like.  He told us people will know who we are if we have love for one another.   While I do not have any tattoos there is one I wish I had.  No not a picture of a sailing ship or my dog.  I wish to have Jesus tattooed on my heart.  Just maybe someone will know.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 1, 2015

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Our Invisible Rabbits

We have a super abundance of rabbits this summer.  Each evening while walking the dog we are sure to see three or four.  We probably miss seeing an equal amount because we have noticed the classic rabbit strategy for supposed safety.  They freeze.  Once they detect us they become garden statuary.   Sometimes it works because I have seen my lab walk right by some without a glance.

I have noticed a similar strategy for Christians who apparently do not want to be seen.  They freeze and blend into the environment.  No one would know they are a Christian because they are not involved when others need assistance.  They become invisible.  They go to church but never volunteer for any outreach.   Sometimes they arrive at church during the opening hymn and leave during the closing hymn.   Don’t get me wrong.  It’s great that they come.  But it would be greater if they stayed long enough to meet others and just maybe see a need that fits their spiritual gift.

Ephesians 4:11 says, “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service.”

You might read that verse and think I’m not any of those.  That might be true but it is also true that everyone can do something.  It is a matter of creativity and watching.  Maybe we need to subscribe to the local newspaper.  Usually there are all manner of ideas written about that require local need.   Perhaps we give to missions.  That’s a good idea.  But maybe our local community needs us just as much as someone in Africa.  Then again we can be a rabbit and be invisible.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 29, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Jesus Is Our Righteousness

I gained twenty pounds today.  Really.  I am so depressed.  Our bathroom scale broke so we bought a new one.  When I stepped on it I found out I was twenty pounds heavier than I thought I was.  This ranks up there with one of the top twenty horrors in my life.  I didn’t even have the pleasure of twenty chocolate milkshakes to account for this calamity.  I did have one milkshake last week at Denny’s but I didn’t eat anything else.  That was my meal!  Yeah, I know better.

I guess it’s time to up my Fitbit walking goal for each day.  Perhaps I should only eat half a bowl of cereal in the morning.   Just last week I learned that the supposed truth about breakfast being the most important meal of the day isn’t so.  The research that was used to support that idea was paid for by Kellogg.  Humm?

It is difficult to let go of things we thought were true only to discover it just “ain’t” so.  I was taught in Bible class at my parochial high school that we should strive with all our might to be perfect and the part we can’t do is the part Jesus makes up for us.  Wow.   How could that ever have been taught?  Had he not read Philippians 3:8-9, “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.”  That heresy was a great weight that needed to be lost.  Jesus is EVERYTHING

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 28, 2016

P0 Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

Hi Def

I think the first color movie I ever saw was the Wizard of Oz.  I have to confess I did not like it then and I still don’t.  (However, it is a wonderful tearful experience to hear Judy Garland sing “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”)  Before this it was black and white Keystone Cops.  In kindergarten in church one of the reasons I loved the Bible story pictures was they were always in color.  But I have to say what I heard about Jesus was in black and white.  If I was a good boy and obeyed all the rules I might be saved.  It was scarier than fake Halloween ghosts.  Jesus was Santa making a list and checking it twice to see if I was naughty or nice.

Then one day I learned the truth about Jesus.  He wasn’t Santa in the sky.  He was my savior and the story turned from black and white into color.  It was wonderful.  “The gift of God is eternal life.”  Now as I have many more miles behind me than in front of me something grand is happening to the story.   It is now in high definition. The colors of Jesus’ story are sharp and clear and densely pixilated.

When I think of my childhood version of Christianity I am horrified at the heresy we often teach children.  It is no wonder so many children leave the church when they are teens.  The world is in color while what we teach about Jesus is in black and white.   The Gospel story, the Good News, really is in dazzling color.  When understood that we have the assurance of eternity because of God’s love, life becomes vivid, almost flamboyant.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 20, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Ways to Be Like the Way

A thousand years ago the forests were so thick in Europe people who wandered too far from home often never found their way back.  There were no signs, no maps.  Actually there were few roads, only paths.  Those paths had no names and the places where people lived had no names.  Often the people themselves only had one name and it wasn’t a surname.  “This is my brother Daryl and my other brother Daryl.”

This morning I needed to go to a place I had never been before.  The car I was using did not have a GPS.  But my phone talked me right to my destination.  Can you imagine the disciples saying to Jesus, “Where is heaven?”  We can hear Jesus answer, “I am the Way.”  (John 14:6)

With my phone in my shirt pocket I got very clear directions where to turn and how far to go until the next turn.  With Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, we get very clear directions regarding our lives.  “Love one another as I have loved you.”  (John 13:34)  “Forgive others.”  (Matthew 6)  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  (Ephesians 4:2)  “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

By the Way.  The Way to eternal life is a gift.   Items listed above are the ways to be like the One who is the Way.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 21, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



The Non-Stick Frying Pan

Today we went to Bed Bath and Beyond shopping for a wedding present. I must confess after being involved with a hundred or more weddings through the years I am not very good at picking out good presents.  I saw what I thought was a great bathroom scale. Nope, not according to my wife.  Next I saw a nice light-weight floor sweeper.  Nope, not according to my wife.  I tried one more time when I spotted one of those “as seen on TV” tough-grade 12 inch ceramic red copper plated frying pan that defies scratches and is non stick.  It even has a stay-cool handle.  I scored.  It’s a beauty.

It reminds me of us.  Since we made Jesus the Lord of our lives we also are non-stick.  Guilt and shame just slide off because according to I John 1, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   Please don’t miss the words “cleanse” and “all.”  Now this does not mean we can go around deliberately sinning and harming others and ourselves.   That would be stupid because sinning is poisonous.  Sin is harmful and leaves scars on our psyche.  This is where we are different from the frying pan.  It is non-scratch.  Even though Jesus forgives us the scratches remain.  But, I do have more good news.  According to Paul in I Corinthians 15 a day is coming when this mortal puts on immortality and this corruption puts on incorruption.  The scratches are removed.  Christians should be the most psychologically healthy people in the world.  We are provided with so much security and hope.

I should have started this with a spoiler alert.  The groom often reads these devotionals and now he will know what we are giving him.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 24, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

We Are Better Than We Are

Monday’s New Yorker Cartoon features a man walking with five Fitbits on each arm.  He says to the woman walking with him, “People pay me to put steps on their Fitbits.”  Just as we cannot exercise for another we cannot diet for another.  We cannot learn for another nor sleep for another.  There were days when I wished another could and would take chemotherapy for me. However, there are some things we can do for another. We can pay another’s debts.  We can drive another’s car.  The list is infinite.

My favorite “what someone can do for another” is found in Romans 5:7-8.  “Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”

How about that!  Isn’t that the best ever?  Just as the man in the cartoon put steps on another’s Fitbit so Jesus puts righteousness on and in our characters.  That makes us better than we are.  I realize that statement borders on nonsense. But, the truth is it works.  We are in God’s eyes as perfect as Jesus is perfect the moment we accept the gift of God’s grace.  That makes us better than we are.  However, we will not be content to remain as we are.  The quest for righteousness begins.  We are justified by His grace and by His power we are sanctified as we grow into His likeness.  This is a mystery – the mystery of righteousness.  How is it that God could take someones like us and make us perfect?  I don’t know, but I will not argue about it.  It is just too wonderful.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 23, 2016

PO Box 124, St.Helena, CA 94574

My Yearly Eye Exam

My eyes were dilated this morning for my yearly exam.  As I left the office I was given a pair of throwaway sunglasses.  I was stupid.  I didn’t put them on and walked out the front door.  It was a clear day.  Ouch. The power of light is not something to be trifled with.  You should have seen how quickly I put them on.

I immediately thought of Moses coming down Mt. Sinai having been with the Lord. “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. . . When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face.”  Exodus 34.  Only this time it wasn’t me that was shining.  It was just the opposite.

In Hebrews 1 we are told God spoke to humanity in many different forms.  Each time He shared more light about Himself with His people.  Finally He sent Jesus who was the ultimate revelation of God – the Light of the World. The Children of Israel came out of slavery in a land filled with gods.  Most of the Israelites were illiterate and their view of God was tainted by the exposure to paganism.  The only way for them to know the truth was to actually see Jesus.   Thus there were many flawed ideas about God before Jesus came. If we are to know what God is really like we must study the Gospels and Paul.  They knew the truth about God because He walked with us as one of us for over thirty years.  As one of us the light was bright without harming us.  The light was life itself.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 22, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



Little Kids in Commercials

I just finished watching a local auto dealer’s television commercial featuring a small and not so good looking child.  From the age of the dealer, who also appeared, she must be one of his grandchildren who he thinks is adorable.  Through the years I have several times observed this same behavior of using little children in commercials.  One can only draw one conclusion. Love really is blind.  Love equals cute and cute demands to be displayed.  Now, I would not know this from personal experience because my six grandchildren really are incredibly gifted mentally and physically.  I only know this from my observation of other grandparents and their not so perfect grandchildren.

Thus it strikes me that our heavenly Father who is incredibly in love with us must therefore think we are good looking.  If God was selling cars on planets across the galaxy for sure He would be using us in His commercials. So the next time you look in the mirror and are confronted with a host of physical issues like a gigantic nose or skin blemishes don’t be disheartened.  God thinks you are beautiful and/or handsome.  And when it comes to our characters He loves us so much once we ask for forgiveness He observes us as never having sinned.  Now that is amazing.  We become perfect in Christ.

I love being a Christian.  It comes with such a vast array of benefits.  Our guilt is removed, we are given eternal life, we are adopted into the heavenly family, we become citizens of His kingdom, we become princes and princesses of the universe and we are more splendid to look at than any movie star.  So the next time you look in the mirror wink at yourself because you are so beautiful.  Joe Cocker had it right.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 21, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

God Loves Our Uniquenesses

When I was very little my father would set up a movie projector in our small living room.  He would attach a white bed sheet to a wall and we would watch orchestras play Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.  Now via the wonders of technology we can on Youtube watch such wonders with the press of a few keys.  One of my favorites is Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky.  There is a magnificent performance of Pictures with only a piano (no orchestration) played by Khatia Buniastishvili.  After watching I read an online review of her performance.  The reviewer scathed her for playing it with her own interpretation.  There are passages where she rushes and other passages where she is very slow.  Music is best when it flows from an artist and is not exactly like a past playing.

It is grand to attend church and listen to a sermon on a topic we have heard for years because each preacher adds to it the flavor of his or her personal experience. If we wanted it exactly the same each time we could stay home and read it over for ourselves.  Humans are marvelous creatures because we are so very unique.  Each of us brings different feelings and interpretations to experiences.  If God had wanted us to be clones it would have been easy to have done so.  However, while we are created in His image we bring to life an unlimited amount of varied colors.   Meeting new people is a treat because each time is a brand new experience.  As with music and stories each of us radiates a picture of God like no other.  God is revealed to the world with more facets than possible on any diamond.  Best of all, God is delighted to shine out of our uniquenesses.  (Is there such a word?  There is now.)

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 25, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574