Unaware Sinners

Yesterday I took my car for its annual state safety and emissions inspection and to my horror discovered our state registration ran out two months ago.  We have been driving illegally.  We were sinners unaware.  Today I got that cared for by standing in a very long line at the RMV (DMV).

How could I not be reminded that every day I walk about as an unaware sinner. There are depths of selfishness and depravity hidden deep in me of which I am honestly totally unaware.  Part of the process of becoming like Jesus is that ever so subtly He makes me aware.  He is so kind.  If He just opened up the pit and showed me all the deficiencies, I am sure I would be so overwhelmed I would just give up.  I knew a man once who was so very sure he could go for days without sinning.  His ignorance of himself and of what sin is filled me with despair because I could not help him grow.  Unless we see the need, we will not rise to doing something about it.  That is where Jesus’ gentle grace comes into play.  He is thrilled at the progress we make.  He was one of us.  He knows.  Because He knows He understands and rejoices in our growth.

Christianity is not about attaining.  Jesus already attained.   Christianity is about growth.  We have to remember I Corinthians 15.  There Paul tells us there is a day coming when this corruption puts on incorruption.  It is called resurrection morning.

So to all unaware sinners, I call upon you to rejoice in your progress.  Do not despair that you are not there.  Rejoice in the little steps forward, after all that’s what make Jesus happy.  Remember our righteousness is like filthy rags.   (Isaiah 64:6)  Jesus’ righteousness is perfect.  How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 14, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


The Revolutionary Manifesto

The Sermon on the Mount is an amazing revolutionary manifesto.

In Matthew 5 Jesus said: You have heard that one should not murder.

Then He said: BUT I say even being angry makes one guilty.

He said: You have heard that one must not commit adultery.

Then He said: BUT even thinking about doing so makes one guilty.

He said: You have heard that one should not break an oath.

Then He said: One should not swear at all.

He said: We have heard an eye for an eye.

Then He said: BUT I tell you not to resist but instead turn the other cheek.

He said: You have heard love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

Then He said: BUT I say love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Paul grasped the amazing depth of this when he wrote in Galatians 5, “The entire law is summed up in a single commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Until then the silver rule was the standard. “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.”  Jesus changed it to the golden rule, “Do to others what you would want them to do to you.”   That is like night and day.

Recently after telling someone they could be saved by freely accepting God’s gift, they responded that being a Christian was super easy.  Really?  The above first list presents us with something so difficult and so life changing.  It is easy to hate and it is easy to love the loveable.  But just try and love the unlovable.   Jesus calls us to a standard so high and so lofty we will spend at least this lifetime trying to come close.   P.S.  Not to be saved but because we are saved!

Written by Roger Bothwell on Sept. 13, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



“Walking Arrow”

The Exchange Club, a community service organization, very early in the twentieth century decided to make aviation safety a focus of their purpose.  Pilots did not yet have radio contact with controllers and getting lost was a fairly common occurrence.  From coast to coast Exchange Clubs painted arrows on the roofs of buildings pointing the way to the nearest airport.  Now we have avionics that will automatically safely land the plane for the pilot.

Jesus was God’s arrow.  In John 14:6 Jesus told us He was the Way.  The way where?  He is the way to eternal safety.  At the close of Matthew we have the great Gospel Commission anointing us to be arrows.   We are not painted on rooftops.  We are walking arrows tasked with getting those about us safely home.   It almost sounds like we have an Indian name.  “Walking Arrow.”

I almost just wrote that as walking arrows we are responsible for the salvation of those about us.  But that isn’t correct.  Each person is responsible for themselves.  The decision to make Jesus the Lord of their life is a personal decision and cannot be made for them by another.  However, it is our task to point out the way.   We do so by being genuinely caring, loving and unselfish.  Maybe for the next two months we should refrain from engaging in political speech.   Politics seems to bring out the worst in us.  If someone doesn’t agree with our analyses and candidate preference he or she is automatically an idiot.

In an effort not to speak with a “forked tongue” we should be walking arrows that point to Jesus.  It’s a safe way to retain friendships and best of all to see others in the Kingdom.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 12, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


My Exquisite Watch

I spotted a watch for sale on Amazon.com.  I didn’t need a watch but this one was really elegant and only cost $8.99 with free shipping.   So in a moment of weakness I thought, “Hey, I can always give it to someone.”  It arrived in three days as promised.  Now, this is amazing.  It really is exquisite. And it works!  There are absolutely no identifying words on the watch other than one word – Quartz.   I pulled out a tiny plastic wedge from under the stem, set it and wound it.  The next day the time was perfect, so I wound it again and again the next day and the next.  The next day I forgot to wind it and discovered it has a battery.  It doesn’t need to be wound.

I was like someone uselessly trying to save themselves.  My efforts were pointless.  I could have wound that watch all day and not have accomplished anything.  Actually quite to the contrary those who expend endless amounts of energy trying to save them harm themselves.  They are never happy because they know something’s wrong.  They fail to measure up and often become critical of others who are not measuring up.  It’s an ego defense mechanism that says, “Well, so and so, isn’t so great either.”  They lose sleep and damage their physical health.

Their efforts are rank, as so graphically put by Isaiah.   He said, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” 64:6

So let us say it loud and clear.  Salvation is a gift of God’s grace.  All the good works we do will never add to our salvation.  Righteousness is His and His alone.  We are the recipients of grace.  So stop watch-winding and relax in the sheer luxury of His love.  It’s called the joy of salvation.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 92016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


A Deal Beyond Great

The mailman just brought me an offer from a large bank offering a great (according to them) deal.  They will pay me 0.90% if I open a money market account.  Humm.  Now let me check that out.  That means if I invest a hundred dollars with them, after a year, they will pay me 90 cents.  When I read the fine print, in order to get this deal, I have to invest a minimum of 10,000 dollars.  That means after a year I would have the overwhelming additional sum of      90 dollars.   After you return your tithe and tax on the growth you are left with about 60 dollars.

The thing that bothers me is being treated like a dolt when they tell me this is a great offer.  It isn’t even a good offer.  They know that.  So why don’t they approach us with truth.  They could say, “This is the best we can offer.”  We understand.  Prime rates are extremely low.

What I so love about God’s offer to us:  number one, it is really great.  Number two, it is the truth.  Invest your life with Jesus and the reward will be out of this world.  You will have an eternity of growth on your investment, which means you will someday be beyond a trillionaire in the value of the asset that you will.  When we invest in the bank we can’t use the money; it is tied up.  When we invest with Jesus we get to use all our talents as they grow.  As a matter of fact it is using them that stimulates the growth.   Now this is a deal beyond great.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 8, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


The Entrance to the Exit

“Well blow me down.”  Popeye did not say, “I is what I is.”  He said, “I yam what I yam.”  My thanks to the many aficionados of classical literature that pointed out my misquoting the world’s most famous sailorman.  Since we are thinking of Popeye, please indulge me and allow me the luxury of sharing one of my favorite Popeye pearls.  “Where’s the entrance to the exit?”

For thousands of years mankind has been searching for the exit.  We long for a finish to the suffering we so blatantly foist upon each other.  Modern day Syria is just one of many horrors in the history of man’s intolerance of others who are different than they.  Diplomats fly back and forth and meet in highly orchestrated conferences seeking an entrance to the exit.  There doesn’t yet seem to be an exit sign over that door.  II Kings 6:8 says, “Then the king of Syria warred against Israel.”  That was about 3,000 years ago.  So what else isn’t new, except this round is Syria against Syria?

However, it isn’t hopeless.  2000 years ago Jesus said, “I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”  There is an entrance to the exit!   And what is on the other side of the exit is an eternity of peace, prosperity and growth.  God has not abandoned us. The exit is there and the exit is an entrance and its name is Jesus.  In John 5:24 He said, “Whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and . . . has crossed over from death to life.”

“I am strong to the finich…Cause I eats me spinach.”  Popeye

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 7, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



A Word Is Worth a Thousand Pictures

We have all heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words.  It is also true that a word is worth a thousand pictures.  Think the word flower and our brains can produce pictures of roses, glads, mums, daisies or whatever is our favorite.  Before there was television we sat around a radio big enough to be a piece of furniture.  In the evenings we heard words and our brains filled with magnificent pictures of Fibber McGee opening his closet and we saw tons of stuff cascading out into the room.   If someone says, “Hi ho, Silver” our minds see a beautiful white stallion rearing up on his back legs ridden by a man wearing a black mask.  (If you are old enough.)

Words are pictures of ideas.  If someone says the words that are our names, those who hear will each think of their unique idea of who we are.  Our children will think of mom or dad.  Our siblings will think of a brother or a sister.  Our friends will think of who knows what.  If I say the word, “Jesus” each of us instantly creates a picture filled with ideas we have formed regarding who and what Jesus is.

What if when our name is mentioned others would think of Jesus?  Now that would be something special.  I once had a man tell me how disappointed he was to actually meet me.  He had listened to audio tapes of a series of sermons I had preached at a college.  He told me he had envisioned someone tall and handsome.  Well, sorry about that.  As Popeye once said, “I is what I is.”  But, maybe, just maybe, after people get to know us they will think of Jesus.  That would be grand.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 6, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574





Labor Day 2013 is part of history.  How interesting that we celebrate it by not laboring.  It is a day of rest, recreation and for many lots of driving.  Lest we somehow feel guilty about not working we should remember that God approves of us resting and taking time off work.  He even built into each week one special day and told us not to work on that special day.  One of the most interesting uses of that special day is found in Hebrews 4.  “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.”

The writer of Hebrews uses the Sabbath of the fourth commandment as a symbol of our rest from works designed to earn salvation.  There is so much anxiety generated when we try to make sure we have enough obedience credited to our account so we can merit salvation.  I know people who daily fret and worry that there is one small sin that will keep them out of God’s Kingdom.  It is debilitating to be so focused on ourselves.

However, if we instead focus on the gift of God and His loving grace, if we instead think about Jesus, the stress melts away and we enter into a rest from labor.  “A life in Christ is a life of restfulness.”  It is ironic that some people turn this Sabbath symbol of rest into another work making the Sabbath a burden to bear instead of its intended use, which is just the opposite.  One of the joys of salvation is not having to worry about it.  All we need do is trust Him.  He always keeps His promises.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 3, 2013

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



The Scent of Freshly Mown Hay

There is hardly anything in the whole world that smells better than a field of freshly mown hay.  It has its own intoxication.  It can’t be said that it smells like anything else because it doesn’t. It is uniquely wonderful.  It is not even the same as the fresh smell of a newly mown lawn.  One of the disadvantages of modern cars with air-conditioning is you seldom catch that wonderful scent as you drive along the countryside with the windows all sealed shut.

It is no wonder Jesus so often spoke of harvesting.  An example is found in Matthew 9:37-38.  It says, “Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.

As a symbol of the final gathering of God’s children, the harvest is also a joyous, exhilarating event.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 2, 2000\

PO Box 124, St. Helena, Ca 94574


A Quintessential Maine Morning

I awoke this morning and moved to a rocking chair on a cabin porch in western Maine.  The rising sun must have still been having a difficult time rousing because it was still wearing a blanket of mist rising off one of the world’s most beautiful lakes.   A loon was calling to the sun announcing it was time to shine. Ever so slowly the mist vanished as the sun lit up the rippled water with an exquisite spread of diamonds laid out at my feet.  Backlit pines laced the shore.  L. L. Bean should have been taking pictures for its next catalog.  Alas, though, it was missing a moose. It was quintessential Maine.

Quintessential is a good word.  Every once in a while we need a five dollar word to replace a cheapie word like typical.  This wasn’t typical.  It was quintessential and if I had a better vocabulary I would use a ten dollar word to replace quintessential.  Maybe I should use the word archetypal.  That’s a seven dollar word.  But then again, I like the sound of quintessential.

I was thinking about how difficult it would be to be a quintessential Christian.  The word means the purest or most perfect example of something.  I have met some people along life’s journey who seemed to almost fit the description, but upon close observation, well, they just didn’t quite fit the bill.  That’s what is exciting about Jesus.  His life, His sacrifice and His love more than cover our feeble efforts.  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  Hebrews 4:15.  His perfection is our perfection.

Written by Roger Bothwell on Sept.  5, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, Ca 94574