She’d been caught with her hand in the Cheerios.  The front of the box promised a treasure inside and she could not wait until the family ate their way to the bottom.  She had to have her book right away.  Do you remember how your mother made your wait ‘til the box was empty?  It was awful looking at the cereal box morning after morning waiting for the treasure to come tumbling into your bowl.  No digging was allowed.

Psychologists tell us that teaching people to delay gratification is a good thing.  It enables them in later life to sacrifice for meaningful goals.  Sometimes we think of Christianity as delayed gratification.  If we give enough now, if we sacrifice enough now, if we are good enough, if we deprive ourselves of something now someday we will get to heaven.  While it is true, wonders do await those who allow Jesus to save them, we do not have to wait to begin experiencing the gift of salvation.  Citizenship in God’s kingdom brings privileges that are available right away.

The psychological benefits are readily apparent.  We can stop worrying about the future; we are secure.  We can have peace of mind regarding past sins; they have been cared for.  We can begin to reap better physical health because life’s stresses are reduced.  Our relationship with people around us slowly improves because we are not alienating them with our competitive spirit.  We become nicer and more likeable.  There are a lot of treasures available now.

We don’t have to eat all the Cheerios to experience the cheer.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 18, 2002

The Great Author

We enjoy poetry and prose that best resonates with our inner feelings.  Such work draws us to reread or even memorize so we can carry it with us to give words to our inner feelings, longings, desires and anxieties.  How often do we have a half-formed idea or thought only to read something that brings it instantly to life?  Great poets and great writers have the same feelings as the rest of us.  What makes them great is their ability to find expression for us.

 Paul’s comment in Romans 8:26 is intriguing.  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

How often have you longed to pray the right prayer but did not really know what to say?  It was not that you did not know what you wanted or needed.  It was an inability to find words.  We do not want to bother God with a string of worn out cliches; nor do we want to bother God with repetitious phrases.  That is why Romans 8:26 is so important.  It reassures us that we do not have to find the “right” words.  The greatest author of all finds expression for us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 6, 2000

Marvelous Sounds

The sounds of words are wonderful when the very sounds of them describe their object or intent.  Words like “roar” or “bark.”  Or the word “maliferous.”  It just sounds dark and evil to say it.  Then there is another, “insalubrious.”  That one sounds unwholesome just to let it come out of one’s mouth.  There are some wonderful Swahili words.  One of them is the word for bugs.  It is “dudu.”  The word for kill is “kufu.”  So “insecticide” becomes “dudukufu.”  Just say it.  It rolls off the tongue so much easier than “insecticide.”  Say it fast and it is even more fun.

The names of people we love are wonderful to say.  Our spouses’ names are music to our ears.  The names of our children and grandchildren are magical.  In the musical “West Side Story” there is a song, “Maria.”  It says it so well.

Now for the best, most marvelous, fabulous, extraordinary set of sounds in the world.  Here goes.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.”  That is music to our hearts.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 16, 2000


A little seven-year-old granddaughter approached her grandma and invited her to play a game of Twister.  Soon they were in an amazing array of positions.  Finally when granddaughter fell and grandma was declared the winner, the proud seven-year-old turned to her friend and said, “See, I told you my grandma was flexible.”

There is much to be said in favor of flexibility.  We live in an incredible world of change.  Technology has created a global village.  Each day we come across new ideas and have new exposures to different cultures.  We visit with people who do not have the same background and see life through different colored glasses than we.  We need to open our minds to the reality of other people’s worlds and do our best to understand them.

Often we mistake being rigid and uncompromising as standing firm for principles.  That need not be.  It is not necessary to sacrifice one’s own standards to understand that others also believe that their principles are important.  Their principles are as important to them as ours are to us.

The world is changing and if we are not open to change we will become the antiques of society having a faith that is not attractive to anyone other than those who are afraid to change.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 21, 2000

The Parable of the Unjust Judge

I have dog treats in the bottom drawer of my desk.  Of course she knows where they are and there is an expectation when I sit down to write that she will receive one.  She stands and stares at me.  It doesn’t matter that I sometimes pretend I don’t see her.  She can outwait me.  I find it psychologically disturbing to be stared at.  I cannot write or even think about anything other than I am the object of her intense attention.  I finally break down and open the drawer.

She reminds me of one of Jesus’ most interesting parables.  It is found in Luke 18.  It seems there was a judge who cared little about people or justice.  He totally ignored the legitimate request of a widow.  She was nothing to him.  But because she persisted and practically drove him crazy with her constant demand for justice, he granted her request just to get rid of her.  Jesus drew the following lesson for us.  If this unjust man will finally give in, how much more will our God who loves us grant us our requests. If she could get justice from a wicked man, be sure we will get righteous judgment from our God.

This parable is for all who feel life has somehow been unfair.  We haven’t received recognition for our hard labor.  We have been unfairly treated by an employer.  We have been falsely accused of something we did not do.  No matter what the issue, Jesus wants us to be sure righteousness and justice will be rendered in our favor.  So hold on.  Don’t give up.  Be persistent in prayer.  Maintain faith and all will be well because we have a judge who really cares.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 30, 2008


Blemish Free

Most of us have seen interviews of people released from prison because DNA testing revealed they were innocent.  The exhilaration of freedom and exoneration must be like waking up from some horrible nightmare to discover it is a new day and the sun has come out.   It is bad enough to be found guilty when you are guilty let alone being judged guilty when you really didn’t do it.   There is a wonderful verse in Colossians 1.  Speaking of God’s love for us Paul wrote, “He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”   Once we accept His grace we are not just forgiven, the scars, the blemishes and the ravages of sin are so completely gone no one can even accuse us of anything.

Paul, as Saul, had the blood of martyrs on his hands.  Here is a man who experienced so much grace and he wants us to share his joy.  To the Romans he wrote, “With God on our side, who can be against us.”  He then goes through a list including everything in heaven and hell and they are powerless to accuse us of anything.  Revel in this passage.  “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Did you really read it?  Or once you recognized the passage did you sort of skip over to this paragraph?  Often we do that.  But this merits a very slow reading.  Let it pour over your brain like maple syrup on pancakes.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 28, 2012


Dress Like a King

All of us can dress like a king.   Paul said, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 13:14.  Apparently Paul liked this illustration because he used it in two of his other letters – once to the Colossians and once to the Galatians.  Paul liked nice clothes for what could be nicer than, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

That’s a very chic wardrobe.  You can go to the closet and say, “What shall I wear today?  Compassion?  Hum, I think today I will wear Patience.”  Well, that will not work.  You don’t have to choose, you just wear them all and you will be the best dressed person in the world.  You will be ripe for the cover of all or any fashion magazine because these are timeless classics that never go out of style.

Paul said to the Galatians, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” 3:27   It is exciting to think that we can wear the righteousness of Christ. All of the blunders, stupidity and deliberate acts will no longer matter because in Christ we are as perfect as He is perfect.  I wish that meant we would no longer do all the blunders, stupidity and deliberate acts.  It doesn’t.  It means we are legally covered as long as we are committed to growing in Him.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 27, 2016

Slapped by Santa

I was only five-years-old and psychologically traumatized.  We didn’t have a fireplace so Santa had knocked on the door and dragged his bag of goodies into our small house.  I was so excited I raced out onto the street and looked up onto the roof.  “The reindeer must be on the backside,” I told myself as I rushed back inside. It was then that it happened.  All I did was pull open his sack and reach inside. The big guy, the jolly (?) old man with the red suit slapped my hand.  Stepping back  I exclaimed, “You wouldn’t do that if my daddy was here.”

I am very sure that was the last time my father ever struck me.  My mother could never say, “Just wait until your father comes home.”   If I needed it she did it (a rubber spatula) because she knew he never would do anything other than sit with me on the backstairs and talk.

Frequently I hear people who have experienced a traumatizing loss say something about God punishing them.  I wonder about their God.  The writer of Hebrews wrote, “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”  There is a difference between discipline and abuse.  Our heavenly Father will never abuse us.  The abuse we receive in life comes from the enemy of our souls who is delighted when we blame our Father.  However, our heavenly Father does on occasion find it necessary for our character development to punish us.  But it will always be the mildest, gentlest, most loving discipline possible with never a single degree of severity more than we need.   After all, our Father is there.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 31, 2014


The Savvy Shopper

I’m sitting here looking at an ad in GQ magazine for a thousand dollar pair of jeans.  Both legs have frayed holes in them and they look like they have been tied to the back of a car and dragged twenty miles down a gravel road.   Are people really that gullible?  Surely one could get such a ragged pair of jeans in the throw away bin at the Salvation Army.  It must be something akin to the Emperor’s clothes.  If enough people say it’s cool and chic, someone will buy them.

But wait a minute.  Couldn’t someone make a similar accusation against God?  Jesus came and paid a horrendous price for us and what did He get?   He paid for a bunch of losers.  Thieves, boasters, prideful arrogant alcoholics, drug addicted cruel self-seekers, liars and murderers are what He bought.  I’m not so sure God is a savvy shopper.  Honestly, He has lousy taste when it comes to His friends. Even His enemies picked up on that.  They said, “When the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, how is it that he eats and drinks with publicans and sinners?”  One of His closest friends was a woman of ill-repute.  Why He would even eat with you and me!  That’s getting pretty low.

Ah, but there is a difference.  The thousand dollar pair of jeans will only continue to deteriorate, but all of us reprobates will change.  Someday we will be everything He longs for us to be.  Someday we will be so much like Him we will get confused and think we are seeing Him when we are seeing each other.  So, just maybe, He really is a savvy shopper.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 23, 2016

Acting Our Age

When our younger son was three years old, he and his mother were having one of those days we want to forget.  I clearly remember hearing her say to him, “Why don’t you act your age?”  I slipped up behind her, put my arms around her and whispered in her ear, “He is.”  Tonight, 40 years later, we went out to eat and he picked up the check.  He was acting his age.

I was tempted to play the “I’ll Pay” game, but I resisted by allowing him the dignity of “acting his age.”  So often we are tempted to play that game with Jesus.  He has already picked up the check but there is something inside us that wants to argue that we should do something.   We can do something.  We can allow Jesus to “act His age.”  Sometimes when someone picks up the check we say, “Well, at least let me pay the tip.”  Sorry, that doesn’t work with Jesus.  He has more than covered everything necessary.  And so I said to my son, “Thanks Michael.”  That same response works with Jesus.  “Thanks Jesus.”

I was reminded of a conversation I overheard once at a car dealership.  There was one of those super high powered spec cars on the showroom floor.  Audi probably only made six of them total.  There was no price tag so I heard a man say to a salesman, “How much for that?”  The salesman smiled and said, “Believe me.  You can’t afford it. The only way you could have that car is if Audi gave it to you.”

There it was, the story of our salvation.  So let’s act our age around the eternal one. We are the children, no matter how wrinkled and gray.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 22, 2016