Your Special Task

It would be difficult to find a greater transformation than Paul’s.  He was Jesus’ arch enemy and became Jesus’ greatest advocate.  Despite the extremes of who he was and what he became, it is doubtful that the change was personality.  Paul was Paul before and after being knocked off his horse. He was always super zealous for his cause, whether to stamp out Christianity or to be the world’s greatest definer and defender of Christianity.  He goes from organizing executions to himself being beheaded after various botched attempts to kill him.  No other wrote so eloquently regarding Jesus’ heavenly position.  Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 are vivid portrayals of just who it was who died for us.  Brilliantly he uses his pharisaical background to explain what Jesus is now doing for us in the heavenly sanctuary.  Hebrews is a masterpiece extolling Jesus’ vulnerability to human weaknesses and the majestic perfection of Jesus as our high priest.

Paul was special.  But so are you.  Just as there was only one Paul there is in the entire universe only one you.  Just as God had a special task for Paul that only he could do, so God has prepared for each of us a special task.  If we don’t do it God will raise another to do it, but the problem for God is, no one can do it as well as you.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2.   This very day might be the day your special task arises.  Pray earnestly to be ready.  You might never know until heaven what it was.  But what joy you will have when you know you did it.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 4, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Be Sure to Vote

 On September 19, 2000 in Ashford, New York it was election day.  The polls opened at 6:30 a.m. and closed at 8:30 p.m.  The number of voters who came to the polls was zero.  They had an election and no one came.

Now if someone were running for something, it seems as though that person should have come to vote for himself.  Could it be he was so sure of winning he need not have bothered?  If no one votes, does anyone win? Or maybe none of the candidates wanted to win.

In 2 Peter 1:10 we read, “…give diligence to make your calling and election sure….”  Peter is, of course, speaking of the great election held for each soul.  God is voting for you.  Satan is voting against you.  You better vote for yourself.  This is an election of eternal consequences, and you better cast your vote.  We are not talking about a temporary political office but about where you will spend eternity.  So don’t be a “no-show.”

And just how does one vote?  Tell Jesus you want to be on his side.  Tell Him you accept His gift of grace.  Invite the Holy Spirit into your life and you win.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 3, 2000

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

A Very Wise Squirrel

In the fall as the days grow shorter and the midnight frost starts to nip the flowers, squirrels become most industrious.  They scurry around burying acorns everywhere carefully patting the dirt down on top of each acorn making it secure for future nourishment.

We are somewhat like those squirrels when reading our Bibles.  Not always is a passage exactly relevant to what is happening in our current lives.  But when reading we are burying seeds of truth and comfort for later times when we might need them.  Just as those squirrels do not need the acorns in the fall, later during a very cold winter the acorns will be there waiting for them.  If we hide God’s Word deeply in our minds, it will be there for us to use when difficult times come.

The Psalmist wrote in Ps. 119:19, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  If we store up God’s wisdom, the Holy Spirit can make good use of it when the need arises.

Written by Roger Bothwell on Oct. 3, 2000

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


The Quest

He craved a piece of chocolate, but to his great despair the house was chocolateless.  There was no chocolate syrup in the fridge.  There were no leftover spoonfuls of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in the back of the freezer.  Despondent, he searched the bedroom knowing that his wife, not a chocolate lover, often put boxes of chocolates away until they turned white.  What a waste!

Next he went to the china closet thinking by chance there might be a forgotten box of after dinner mints there, but to no avail.  Next he toyed with the idea of driving to the store, but his town was not a big city and most everything was shut down for the night.  Then it came to him.  In a drawer with some herb tea bags there just might be a packet of hot chocolate powder.  Swooping down he found it.  Nestled among the apple orchard, mint medley, fruit and almond, orange and spice was his reward.  He had found some chocolate.

There are times when God seems remote and we are in need of His presence.  The writer of Psalm 42:1,2 put it so well.  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?”

Jesus once told us if we will seek we shall find.  The real quest will be rewarded as we discover it was God who was seeking us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 27, 2000

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

I Love Cheerios

For a weight loss commercial Oprah looks into the camera and says, “I love bread!”   Well Oprah, I love Cheerios.  Ever since I have been a really little guy, Cheerios have been my favorite.  Not only did they nourish me, they were fun to play with.  I could scoop some out of my cereal bowl and make all manner of patterns with them.  I even learned to spell my name using Cheerios to form the letters.  This morning I had a bowl of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios.  I could have had Honey Nut Cheerios or Protein Cheerios.  Presently, there are sixteen different kinds from which we can choose.

I can easily image our Heavenly Father sitting on His throne saying, “I love people.”  “I love red ones, black ones, brown ones, white ones, yellow ones, little ones, really big ones, tattooed ones, bald ones and hairy ones.”  He loves us so much He actually wants to live in us.  Check out I Corinthians 6, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;” Did you catch that last phrase?  “You are not your own.”  Neither are we on our own.   His abiding presence in our lives means we have a continued source of intellectual and spiritual power to help us make wise decisions.

We make thousands of small decisions each day.  Over the course of sixteen waking hours those decisions form patterns of speech and behavior.  With His help we design daily patterns creating a person He not only loves but one of which He is proud.  This very day God looks at you and says, “I love …..”  Insert YOUR name in the blank.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 30. 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

Pray Without Ceasing

Sometimes I wish Emily Post was still alive.  I have unanswered questions regarding being polite.  I was at the supermarket and while going down aisle one I met a man coming toward me.  We greeted.  A few moments later, because we were going through the aisles in opposite directions, we met again in aisle two and then in aisle three and again through twelve aisles.  How many times did I have to greet this man without being a cold snob?  Did the first greeting count for all the encounters that followed?

I had a church member once who tried to take Paul’s counsel in I Thessalonians 5:16 literally.  Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing.”  I had a difficult time explaining that Paul meant that we should live with God as a companion and not that we should be constantly forming and articulating actual sentences.  I’m sure, unless the person was extremely creative, there was a lot of repetition going on.  One would become a human prayer wheel.

When one lives with another person one does not, unless you want to drive the other insane, talk all the time.  Often times silence is wonderful.  We live in such a noisy world that having some quiet time is to be desired and is very beneficial.  There is something healing about being able to hear the blood circulating through one’s ears.  That’s as much quiet as we can achieve.   Praying without ceasing is living with God, who understands our preferences.  Some people are very quiet upon awakening.  Others are bright and verbal.  You don’t have to articulate anything for Him to know you love Him.

Now, if only someone could resolve my supermarket dilemma.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 29, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


The Absolute Truth

If you are going to lie you better know who you are lying to.  They might very easily catch you in your perfidy.  This weekend we stopped at a large nursery that was having a fall celebration with pumpkins, horses, cider doughnuts and other such items.  I found myself standing beside an elderly (anyone older than I, but not the same as I) lady who said to me, “And who are you.”   With the straightest face I could muster I said, “I’m the owner of this establishment.”  (Please don’t ask me why I did that.  My mouth was just running without any mental engagement.)  “Well,” she said, “you can’t be because I am.”  I was nailed.  Other people assured me she really was the owner.  A lovely conversation ensued and I was careful to truthfully answer all her questions.

So I ask you her question.  “Who are you?”   Hoards of people have no idea how to answer that question after they tell us their name.  My wife would tell me I’m her most special person in the world.  My sons call me Dad.  My grandchildren call me Papa.  One of them calls me Poppyseed.  I have absolutely no idea why.  Perhaps the most important answer is I am a son of the Most High God of the Universe.  That comes with all manner of rights and privileges.  I’m not the only person who can say that.   You also can answer with that exciting response.

A child of God, though still a sinner, is a forgiven sinner and a prince or princess of the universe. We have been lavished with mercy which is aggressive forgiveness and promised to be rewarded far beyond what we can possibly imagine.  And when I tell you this I absolutely am not lying.  See Ephesians 3:20.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 28, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Cinnamon Rolls

She had just finished baking five of the most luscious hot steamy cinnamon rolls.  Leaving them on the kitchen counter she went upstairs for a moment but returning quickly her mouth all ready to experience a gastronomic delight.  However, they were gone.  The only trace of their existence was the scent and a trail of icing on the kitchen counter.  In the next room an incredibly contented Labrador retriever lay sleeping with a smile on her face.  Telltale white icing was on her chin and cinnamon was on her breath.  She was nailed!!

The question remained, “What to do with her?”  It would have been so easy to get angry.  But how could that profit?  It would only add insult to injury because every time we get angry we release all kinds of chemicals and stress producers into our systems.  Each time we grow angry we harm ourselves more than the person or dog with whom we are displeased.

Sometimes we say, “He makes me so angry!!”  But really no one can make us angry.  People—or dogs—can certainly irritate us but the response is up to us.  We can become furious.  We can retaliate.  Or we can “turn the other cheek.”

When Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek He is giving us practical counsel.  Not only does turning the other cheek defuse the situation, it also reduces our internal stress level thus enabling us to live a longer, happier life.  Everything Jesus asks us to do is for our benefit.  He is so very sensible.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 3, 2002

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

The Great Debate

The greatest debate in your life is not a nationalized television event.  It is a live universal event where you are the focal point.  Check out Zechariah 3.  “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”  Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”  Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

In this story you are Joshua.  Please notice there is no debate regarding Joshua (you).  He is dressed in filthy clothes.  He is (You are) filthily guilty.  You are there because you have been snatched from the fire.  The earth is going up in the flames of man’s making.  God rescues you as surely as He rescued Noah.  Only this time the rescue is permanent.  Satan says to God, “You can’t do this.  He (you) is not worthy.”  And God says, “He will be in a moment.”  And your garments are changed.  “For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.”  Isaiah 61:10.

On the cross Jesus earned the right to do this.  Nothing makes Him happier than to, in Satan’s presence, make us worthy.   Satan wanted us.  Jesus won us.  This is the greatest debate of all time.  It feels so good to win.  It feels so good to be clean.  It feels so good to be worthy.  Thank you Jesus.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 27, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

The Transmission Tower

Yesterday afternoon I along with some friends were enjoying a vista that included a far away transmitter tower.  Wondering just where it was we set out to find it.  When we did find it we were amazed at how close it had been to our starting point.  We thought it was much farther away.  Next we discovered yet another even taller tower another four miles farther north.  When getting up this morning the first thing I saw was not only the first tower but the second tower.  I had never seen it before I knew it was there.

I was reminded of how often when I learn a new word suddenly I hear it all over the place and I am certain it was never before used in my hearing.   So how much is around us that we never see or hear until the eyes and ears of our minds are opened to its presence?  Until something is shown us, so often we would vow it did not exist.

I grew up singing a song, “Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou has for me.  Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou has for me.  Open my eyes illumine me – Spirit Divine.”    Ignorance is blindness.  Ignorance is deafness.  Often I have heard students ask, “How will this ever help me?  Do I need to know this for an exam?”   The answer is “Yes, you need this.  Not for a test but for life.”

The issue is we don’t know what we don’t know!  Yesterday I walked in a botanical garden with people who knew much about flora, while I knew almost nothing.  They enjoyed the afternoon so much more than I.  If we want to be really rich, we must first learn.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 26, 2016

PO Box 124 St. Helena, CA 94574