“Help I’ve Fallen”

You know those commercials where the little old lady falls on the floor and cries out, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”  Well, it happened last night to my older sister.  She lives alone and fell out of bed.  She didn’t have to cry out.  She has one of those buttons hanging from her neck.  She pressed the button and in a few minutes blue lights were flashing through her front windows.  Someone picked the lock on her door and four firemen came in.  Gently they picked her up, put her in bed, tucked her in, smoothed her hair and locked the door on the way out.  I asked if one of them kissed her goodnight.  All she would say was, “I’m not a kiss and tell girl.”  I think she had such a good time we might have a problem with her doing it again tonight.

One of my favorite verses comes from the story of Lazarus in John 11.  It’s about falling.  “After he had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’”  Jesus specializes in picking up the fallen.  Whether we have fallen into sin and fallen from grace or have fallen asleep as Lazarus did, Jesus is the fireman to come and rescue.  So the big question is did you fall today?  Did you need Jesus to pick you up.  Of course you did.  That was a stupid question. But don’t be tempted to deliberately fall.  Remember Romans 6 says, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!”  This is such a great truth.  I never get over how wonderful, practical and applicable is the Gospel.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 30, 2016



It’s All about Family

Today is a day from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.   There are no birds, there are no squirrels.  My bird feeders hang dormant.  The suet feeders are untouched.  Normally when this happens it is short lived because our neighborhood hawk is present.  But this was all day.  Could there be an owl on my roof that I cannot see?  It is rainy and gray but that alone should not explain the total dearth.   I feel like singing Peter Paul and Mary’s Where Have All the Flowers Gone and swap the word flowers with the word birds.

Just as I miss the birds so would God miss us if we were not part of His family.  Perhaps that’s not true.  While the absence of birds leaves me vacant, God’s missing us is a thousand times more devastating to Him.  One of the most poignant passages of Scripture is Matthew 23:37.   Jesus is weeping over Jerusalem.  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

When Jesus told us to pray “Our Father” He revolutionized our approach to God.  God is not merely the all powerful, all knowing force in the universe.  He is the head of a family. The universe isn’t just about galaxies, solar systems and worlds unnumbered.  It is about family.  We just had Thanksgiving and not everyone was blessed to sit at a table with all their children and grandchildren.  Those not there were missed.  Revelation 19 tells us about the wedding feast of the Lamb.  It will be a glorious event with all of God’s children in attendance.  If you are not there you will be missed.  For sure – you will be missed.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 1, 2016



Our Quest

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be something else or someone else?  What or who would you be if you could just for 24 hours not be you?  Would you be someone famous; an actor, a politician, an athlete, a gifted musician, a great preacher?  Would you be a different race or gender?  Would you be a lion on an African savanna or your pet dog?  Would you so enjoy it you would not want to return to being you?  Or would you find it so distasteful 24 hours would be way too long?

Jesus did such a thing.  He was the Creator and He became one of His created and not for 24 hours but for a shortened lifetime on this very small planet.  He was rich and became poor.  He was loved and became hated.  Each of us searches for meaning for our lives. After the age of 13 He knew His meaning.  He had sent ahead a manual (Isaiah) telling Him what He was to be and how to be it.  He was to be wounded for our transgressions and be mangled by men.

I wonder if pigeons on a wire wonder about all the hustle that passes below and where is their place in the grand scheme.  I doubt it.  We seem to be the only creatures haunted by a quest for meaning.  If my dog wonders about meaning it certainly is limited to the now and not related to eternity.  She is here to bark at the UPS man and to tell me when the postman has arrived.  Today she even had something to say about a small airplane that passed overhead.   But we are different. We have meaning and purpose and that is our quest.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 29, 2016


My Redeemer Liveth

We just returned from Boston Symphony Hall where our souls were nourished for two and half hours as we listened to Handel’s Messiah.  It is not difficult to pinpoint my favorite five minutes.  I know we all stood for the Hallelujah Chorus but for me the best was yet to come.  It was the very next aria “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and tho’ worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep.”  Job 19 and I Corinthians 15.

When the soprano sings “I know that my redeemer liveth” I want to jump and shout, “Yes, Yes, Yes.”  This old body grows decrepit but I gladly trade it in for the newest best model.  There won’t be a next year’s model because it will be the best possible model.  That’s not because there won’t be any needed or wanted additions it is because it comes with never ending self/divine improvement software.

I did notice that some did not stand for the Hallelujah Chorus so I watched them at the end when the soloists came out for their bows.  Those same people stood, applauded and some even yelled, “Bravo.”  I should hold my judgment because I’m sure each had their personal reasons.  But for me if I stand to applaud a fellow human whose accomplishment was to sound good, why not stand for the praise, honor and glory for the one who shall reign forever and ever because He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?   Tonight I shall go to bed hearing in my head, “I know that my redeemer liveth” and I will sleep well.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 28, 2016


Twice Washed

Thanksgiving is almost a synonym for food.  Food preparation is not one of my gifts.  Therefore about halfway through the holiday I begin to feel guilty.  While I am watching football while others are busy in the kitchen.  Trying to compensate I look for little things that I can do that might be helpful.  So when I saw the dishwasher full of dishes it was a serendipitous opportunity for me to do something other than freeload.  So I quickly put in the dishwasher soap and turned it on.  I was feeling pretty good about myself until I heard, “Who turned on the dishwasher?  They were clean!!”  Alas.  No good deed goes unpunished.

I have a friend who belongs to a church that baptizes by immersing three times – one for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit.  He never said so bit I think he thinks I’m not really baptized since I was only immersed once.  Then of course there are those who were merely sprinkled.  And we can go one further and mention the thief on the cross who wasn’t even sprinkled.

Actually we are saved by grace and not by any rite; otherwise it would be salvation by ritual.  Salvation is a heart experience with our maker.  Salvation is saying, “Lord, I want to be like you.”  Salvation is saying, “I am disgusted with myself and know I can only be clean if you say so.”  Salvation is knowing Jesus also says to us, “This day you will be with me in my kingdom.”  And how does that happen?  Merely by asking.  It is easy to make God happy.  Fathers are like that.  Yeah, they are.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 26, 2016


The Best Treasure of All

On November 8, 1972, we sat in a plane with our pockets full of cash waiting to leave Entebbe, Uganda.  The cash wasn’t ours.  President Idi Amin had exiled all 580,000 Asians without Ugandan citizenship.  Each family could leave with only $140.  Thousands buried huge amounts of cash all over the country thinking to return someday to retrieve it.  After they were gone Amin changed the currency thus rendering those caches to be filled with worthless paper.  Lifetimes of hard work and saving were gone with the stroke of a pen.

The cash in our pockets was for a family immigrating to Canada.  We got it into their Canadian bank account while it still had value.  Never before did Jesus’ words on the Sermon on the Mount mean so much to me.  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Matthew 6

As fleeting as human wealth can be we can still take heart in something else from the Sermon on the Mount.  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Matthew 6.  Our heavenly Father knows us and will provide.  For this we can celebrate this Thanksgiving week.  To be part of the family of God is the best thing ever!

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 23, 2016


Wonder Dog

Our backyard camera recorded two large raccoons skillfully taking down our suet feeder and dragging it off into the woods.  This afternoon there was a bark at the door and there was our wonder dog with the suet feeder at her feet.  What a good dog!  “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

If God is half as pleased with me as I am with my retriever I am in good shape.  Ephesians 1 tells us God created us for His pleasure.  I love that verse.  He didn’t have to make us. He wanted to.  He made us in His image and gave us the tools to grow.  Our potential was unlimited until sin barged in and limited our years and thus limited our growth.  How exciting eternal life is that we will have unlimited growth.  We will make the Einsteins and DaVincis of the world look ignorant and ungifted when compared with our developing skills.  And it will make God happy.  Just as we burst with pride when our children and grandchildren excel, God rejoices in our feats.

In Job 1 God brags about Job only to have Satan challenge that pride.  And so the story unfolded and Job made God proud.  I was always happy when I made my father proud of me.  He used to brag about me to his friends.  God was bragging about Job.  We are here for His good pleasure.  Our pleasure is His pleasure.   Do I ever disappoint God by my willfulness?  Of course I do.  Is He unhappy?  I’m sure He is.  Does He forgive me?  By the time my request for forgiveness is uttered it is done.  It makes Him happy.

Now that I have told you about the wonders of my dog, let me tell you about my grandchildren.

Written by Roger Bothwell oon November 22, 2016




Our November Guest

A strong November wind has finally stripped our trees.  My woods finally look like Robert Frost’s poem My November Guest.  “My Sorrow, when she’s here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; . . . She’s glad the birds are gone away, she’s glad her simple worsted gray is silver now with clinging mist. . . Not yesterday I learned to know the love of bare November days before the coming of the snow, . . .”

I am thankful our earth is tilted on its axis.  Should it not be we would have no  seasons.  Depending where one lived on earth would determine a sameness to everyday.  There would be 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night at the equator.  There would be eternal evening on the poles.  But as it is I rejoice in the coming of the snow and after a white feast I thrill at the bursting of spring with all its daffodils and crocuses.

It is Thanksgiving week and time to revel in the richness of life, which has little or nothing to do with one’s bank account.  It is about life.  It is about love and friends.  It is about the thrill of learning something new each day.  Even though we have our aches, pains, and worse for some – it is about the hope that Jesus has promised us – an eternity of life without those aches and pains, without the separation from loved ones.

And so I look out my window and pull my sweater just a bit more snug. I hope somewhere in heaven there will be snow – lots of snow.  Somewhere there will be gray worsted days.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 21, 2016


Who’s Looking Back?

Our granddaughter works in the very space my wife worked in thirty years ago.  My wife told her to look for the face of Jesus in the wood grain on the back of one of the doors.  This evening we received a report that the college put a mirror on the back of that door but one can still see Jesus peeking over the top.   I kind of like that.  Jesus holds up a mirror for us and if we look carefully perhaps we can see Him in our reflection.  If we see someone who cares, someone who is honest, someone who is anxious to help others then we see Him.  It is surprising how good He looks.

I realize there is hesitancy on our part.  We are very aware of our limitations and faults.  No one need point them out.  We know!  So we balk a bit at the idea that Jesus can be seen in us.  Paul addresses this very issue in I Corinthians 1.  He wrote, “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”  That’s us.  We are the not so wise, the not so influential.  However, the wonderful point is He chose us.

We rarely see ourselves as others see us.  If we have a zit that is all we think people see.  Most people never notice the zit because they are blinded by our gracious care.  Or, horrors, our indifference.  It’s up to us.  We choose what they see.  Before leaving your room in the morning, take a peak in your mirror to see whose looking back.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 12, 2016


To Be Truly Beautiful

The most beautiful thing in the world is a life well-lived.  Standards and ideals of physical beauty change with the seasons of a culture but goodness and unselfishness are eternally valued. We are told by hawks that gracious accommodations made to our enemies are signs of weakness to be misunderstood by our foes and thus embolden them to aggression.  But was it not Jesus who told us to turn the other cheek?  Was it not Jesus who never struck back when He could have called legions of angels to avenge Him?  Matthew 26:53.  It was the Prince of Peace who divided history.  True strength of character is manifested in compassion and understanding.  True wisdom is quick to apologize and to learn from words spoken in haste.

The Sermon on the Mount is the manifesto for a life well-lived.  Paul follows with Ephesians 4,  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” This is not psychological pabulum.  This is the secret of happiness.  To be quick to forgive is the power to heal one’s wounds.  Should someone take advantage of us shame on them, not shame on us for being kind.  Desires for revenge and plans for retaliation are toxins that eat away our vitality more ferociously than any cancer.

I have yet to meet someone who wants to be ugly.  Yet so often we choose to be ugly by our allowing others to determine our behavior.  Some of the most physically unattractive persons I know are the most beautiful people in the universe.  They are not merely decorated but instead are fountains of eternal beauty.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 4, 2016