Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood

Over a decade ago a wonderful family with a little boy and girl moved next door. The children were a delightfully new addition to the neighborhood.  The endlessly energetic little guy took to calling me, “Mr. Roger.”  The result being that he lived in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He was intensely curious and wanted to visit not to talk but to look around in our house. We loved it.  One late summer evening when he was supposed to be in bed, I was standing in the street looking for the first appearance of a particular planet and I heard someone calling, “Mr. Roger, Mr. Roger what are you doing?”  Turning to respond I saw him hanging out his second story window with a stuffed toy under one arm.  It didn’t take long before his mom came to pull him back inside.

The point of this is yesterday I saw him driving a car.  No, he did not have a large stuffed toy propped up on the dashboard!  Actually he is now taller than I.  My reaction was one of joy for him and perhaps a selfish bit of sorrow.  He doesn’t call me Mr. Roger anymore.  He lives in his neighborhood now instead of mine.

Life is one gigantic irony.  We rejoice, and rightfully so, at the growth and development of not only our children but also of our friends and self.  Birthdays are remembered to honor the changes and to remind ourselves of the honored’s accomplishments.  Yet, there is pain at our coming loses.  The more one loves, the more one has to lose.  The life, death and resurrection of Jesus and His promises to us concerning our lives, deaths and resurrections are not just a passing philosophical notion.  They are a necessity that makes it all worthwhile.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 30, 2013

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

“Let’s Go Places”

Huge corporations like car companies spend enormous amounts of money advertising.  Those commercials are the product of vast market research and are tested on groups of people before being broadcasted over television  networks.  We, as Christians, spend large sums of money on evangelism.  We want to obey Jesus’ command at the end of Matthew and take the Good News to all the world.  We are in the marketing business.  It seems that it would make good sense to pay attention to the marketing strategies used by those huge companies.

Toyota’s most current slogan is “Let’s Go Places.”  It has a short snappy appeal.  We like to travel and see new sights and hear new sounds.  If we can make the connection of going places with Toyota all the better for Toyota.  Therefore, I want to plagiarize Toyota’s slogan and encourage you to be sure to make and keep your connection with Jesus because by doing so you will be “Going Places.”  Many of those places will be out of this world but many will be right here on planet earth.

Jesus will take you to a place of peace and rest from trying to save yourself.  He does that for you.  He will give you rest from guilt.  He might have a special task for you and thus guide you to a faraway place so you can do His will.  So often we speak of Christianity in terms of eternal life.  Let’s also add the idea of unlimited travel to places where no man has gone before.

Love Jesus and as Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”  Heaven will be filled with travel agents. Can you imagine the number of frequent flier miles you will accumulate on a trip across just one galaxy?

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 29, 2015

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

Are You Looking For Real Change?

His birth caused mankind to change the calendar.  His touch changed a leper into a whole, healthy man.  His gentleness changed a woman’s life after He told her to go and sin no more.  His command changed a grieving father’s sorrow into tears of joy when his little girl started to breathe.  His blessing changed a little boy’s lunch into a banquet for 20,000 people. His command changed a raging storm into a tranquil sea.  His silence changed a court scene into an out of control mob.  His call changed the rotting flesh of a man dead for three days into a vibrant, living soul.  His generosity changes us from lost degenerates into good, kind, loving citizens of His Father’s kingdom.  His love changes our sin-stained heavenly records into documents of impeccable righteousness.  His command will change this planet into the home for the New Jerusalem.

We are hearing much about change these days.  If you are looking for change, real change, look no further than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are told that the more things change the more they stay the same.  That’s true in politics.   But we are not talking about the selfish ways of men.  We are talking a real change that will not be the same old, same old.  The change Jesus brings is real and eternal.  So if you are tired of ageing, tired of disappointing yourself and others, tired of the gruesome news of the day, tired of being separated from loved ones by death, then change your life right now.  Change to Jesus’ side and life will be an endless adventure of change as you grow more and more like Him.   That is awesome change.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 28, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, Ca 94574


The Sweetness of a Summer Evening

Ah the sweetness of a summer evening.  It’s been over 90 degrees today and the soft gentle breeze lilting its way across the oak and maple covered mountains brings refreshment akin to an icy drink.  The sound is a symphony of almost silence.  I heard my first cicada of the summer this evening.   It is still a bit early for katydids.  They should decorate our evenings in mid-August.  The bats are here gobbling up the mosquitoes, making it more pleasant to be outside. Neighbors are out and so our evening walk was a social event.  Just a tad of rain fell on us.  It wasn’t enough to blur my glasses.  But it was enough to fill the air with that wonderful smell of an approaching storm that never came.

Every state has its specialness.  We used to live in Iowa and the summertime sound of corn growing was the sound of prosperity.  While we did not have seasons in Africa there were the days when the coffee trees were in bloom.  The scent was not that of Starbucks but rather of cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.

George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward left us with “Summertime when the living is easy.”  It has been recorded by different groups and soloists over 33,000 times.  It is part of our social fabric.

In Jeremiah 8:20 Jeremiah laments for his people, “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.”  Let that never be written for us.  If you are not yet sure of your salvation do not let this summer pass without believing that our God is a God who keeps His promises.  In John 5:24 He promises if we will believe in Jesus we will immediately cross over from death to life.   Summertime is a sweet time!

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 26, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


The Fly

The glow of the computer screen is the only light in my room this evening.  I am trying to write but a huge house fly is attracted to the light of the screen and I just can’t concentrate.  Every time I think I am ready to start writing it buzzes in circles and figure eights as it dive bombs the screen.  I am having malicious, murderous thoughts regarding this filthy invader from who knows where.  Now it is walking on the screen following the text as it comes up on the screen.  This is almost as bad as one being in your room at night while you are trying to fall asleep.  You are almost in dreamland when one lands on your face and promptly walks across your lips.  Yuck.

It is interesting what we get used to.  I have seen Masai children with flies lined up side by side drinking from their eyes.  The children were not concerned at all.  It is very much that way for all of us regarding bad habits or sins.  The first time we are tempted we are disturbed but should we entertain them or tolerate them being a part of our lives we soon grow unconcerned.  It is no big deal.  But the truth is they are bad habits or sins because they are harmful and just because we have grown accustomed does not mean they stop harming us or others.  Not only do we become accustomed to them we grow to love them as an old friend.

Be wise today.  Read Proverbs 1 and 2.  It is excellent counsel regarding making right choices and not allowing a persistent sin to nag you into compliance and lead you to ultimate destruction.

Now if I can only kill this ….. fly!!

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 28, 2015

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


My Smart Sparrows

House sparrows count.  They know the difference between two and three.  Our squirrel-proof birdfeeder (it isn’t) closes when three sparrows sit on the perch.  Two sparrows can feed as much as they want, but when a third sparrow tries to land, resulting in closure for all, the two sparrows already there will chase the third away.  The feeder will stay open for one cardinal and one sparrow.  But when a second sparrow tries to land the one sparrow will chase it away.  Two is good.  Three is bad.

Since I am skeptical about the ability of most sparrows to count I have to conclude that my sparrows are smarter than your sparrows just as my dad can beat up your dad and my church is better than your church.

Aren’t we amazing creatures?  It usually has to be about us and how smart we are and how intellectually needy others are.  We are the center of the universe. Me first.  My grandchildren are more everything than yours.  This must have driven Jesus crazy as he observed the behavior not only of His nation but of His disciples.  Thus, Jesus calls us to servant ministry and for Paul to say in Romans 12, “Love must be sincere. . . . Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.”  It is difficult to do this and remain self-centered.

It’s nice to be somebody.  It’s even nicer to be nobody.  It’s a difficult lesson to learn.  But once learned life becomes so much richer.  As Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last first.”  Matthew 20.  “Ask not what your neighbor can do for you, ask what you can do for your neighbor.”  It works on every level of life.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 25, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



You Count – You Really Do

According to Ephesians 2 each of us has a specific task to do for God.  For most of us it is a mystery deeply woven into God’s grand scheme for His entire universe and His specific plan for our being here.  It is difficult for us to imagine how someone as insignificant as each of us thinks we are can have an effect on something as large and important as the plan of salvation. Yet we do.  The interesting thing about this is I’m not sure anyone ever knows.

Elijah was the greatest prophet of the Old Testament and he spent a huge amount of time in a state of depression wondering about himself.   John the Baptist, who according to Jesus was the greatest prophet ever, languished in prison doubting himself and even doubting if Jesus really were the Messiah.  He sent his disciples to check on Jesus and to report back to him about what was happening.

If ever you have moments of doubt about your usefulness for God, you are in excellent company.  Perhaps the person who does not and thinks they are God’s answer to the present is the one in jeopardy.  Our task is to be willing.  God will take care of the when and where for us.  After it occurs we will most likely not notice.  But God noticed and will someday let you know just how very valuable you are to Him.  You count.  You are somebody.  If you were not Jesus would not have died for you.  He did.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  There it is.  Ephesians 2:10

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 24, 2015

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Names, Names, Names

The names of stores are fascinating.  In the 1940’s when I was a little guy there were Five and Dime stores when everything inside only cost a nickel or a dime.  There are still a few Five and Dimes around but the name doesn’t have anything to do with their prices. Now we have Dollar Stores and Five Below that do still reflect prices.  Forever 21 is a creative name appealing to a woman’s desire not to get old.  I wonder why Target is Target?  Sears was because of Mr. Sears and J.C. Penney was about a man and not prices.  Today I looked at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Beyond must mean we have other stuff.  But I was reminded of Buzz Lightyear’s famous line, “To infinity and beyond” which I have always liked.  It should be the name for a church.

Church names are intriguing.  In a few words they want to tell you about themselves.  There is the Church of God.  That sort of leaves everyone else out.  There is the Church of Christ.  That’s exclusive.  The Jewish Synagogue identifies the worshippers as descendants of Judah.  Lutherans are followers of Martin Luther’s theology.  The Catholic Church means universal.  That gives the Church of God name serious competition.  There are Jehovah Witnesses, They do try to witness when they come to our doors.  There are Seventh-day Adventists who are Christians that believe Jesus is returning (advent) and they go to church on Saturday, the seventh day of the week.

Names tell us a lot about who we are.  We have Greek, Italian, Swedish and Chinese names.  So when we use the name “Christian” to describe ourselves we are trying to say something about who we are.  I hope we don’t disappoint.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 22, 2015

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Pluto and Beyond

Someday the game show Jeopardy will post the following answer, “Clyde Tombaugh.”  And they will accept the following question, “Who is the first human being to fly beyond our solar system?”   Today, after a nine and a half year journey of flying over 51,000 miles an hour, the New Horizons space craft will fly by Pluto.  Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto, is aboard.  At least his ashes are aboard.

The question Jeopardy will accept will be wrong.  Mr. Tombaugh’s ashes will not have gone where no man has gone before.  According to the Old Testament Enoch, Moses and Elijah have already made the trek and they did it while being alive.  Then there is the New Testament.  We have Revelation 5:9 speaking of twenty-four elders around God’s throne who sing, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; . . .”  Many scholars believe they are those resurrected with Jesus.  See Matthew 27, “The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

There is no doubt that NASA’s flying Mr. Tombaugh’s ashes past Pluto is a significant event in human history but it does not come close to God’s resurrection and according to Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”   That’s us.  You and me.  How grand.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 14, 2015

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Summer Verses Winter

I’m trying to decide which season I enjoy the most.  While I enjoy the warm days of summer when I go to the grocery store in the summer, people appear in all manner of undress.  Maybe one in fifty is attractive.  The rest should be wearing many more garments to cover up tattoos and rolls of flesh indicating they have been to the grocery store too many times.  I like winter time because it is all covered up.

Genesis 2:25 says, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”  That was because they were perfect and looked really good.  If people looked that good today I’m sure the super market would be even more revealing.  Genesis 3:7 says, “They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”  Oh for a produce department that sold fig leaves.

There are a lot of things about people that need to be covered up.  Too often people expose way too much about their personal life.  I shudder inside when in church and before the morning prayer someone asks for prayer requests.  Way too much is often said while asking for prayers.  “Pray for my sister’s son who is an axe murderer.”  I really didn’t need to know that!

I realize there is a cathartic need to stop harboring pain but that is one of the functions of real prayer – private prayer.  I John 1:9 admonishes us to confess our sins, but that is to the great loving silent Father who knows how to keep secrets.   Best of all He is available during all seasons of the year.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 22, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574