A Moment in the Supermarket

The little girl gazed with expectant eyes as her daddy put his coins in the machine.  Ever so carefully he maneuvered the stainless steel claw toward the coveted teddy bear in the big glass case.  There would be no second chance if he missed snatching it from the pile of goodies.  The teddy would wait for another day or worse yet for another little girl’s daddy to snatch it.

Her face lit up when the claw picked up the teddy.  But it dangled like it would fall.

“Oh, daddie-e-e-e-e,” she cried.

Ever so carefully he moved it towards the opening through which it would fall into her eager hands.  Suddenly it looked ready to slip from the grasp of the claw.   And then it happened.  It fell off the claw onto the side of the opening. Where was the center of gravity?  Would a tiny teddy arm catch and hold the treasure inside the machine?  It held for just a moment and then fell through the opening into her hands.

What squeals of delight!  Her curls bounced as she danced with joy.  But there was even a better sight to behold.  It was the look of triumph on her daddy’s face.

What do you suppose God looks like when we are saved?

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 27, 2000

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


“No Cell Phones – No Ear Buds”

This evening when I entered my classroom the teacher from the former class was still present.  I noticed on the white board the following message, “No cell phones –  No ear buds.”  I turned to the prof and said, “Let me guess.  Your  class was a freshman class.”  “Yep,” he replied, “you got it.”

I am not telling you this to make you think I am some kind guru – quite to the contrary.  I said it because I do know this.  I would never have to put up such a message in one of my grad courses.   It’s all about maturation.   Eighteen-year-olds and thirty-year-olds are soooo very different.

Since this is the case with something as simple as cell phone use, how much more complicated should be our expectations of teen’s spiritual lives.  The frontal lobes of our brains do not come into full use until our mid-twenties.  The frontal lobes are where we process values, principles and ethics.  Sometimes older generations are filled with despair because it seems that young people have no concrete sense of right and wrong and what is important.  We think this because, well, so often it’s the truth.  However, the good news is they continue to mature as the sun comes up and goes down.  Ever so slowly they turn into us.

Since the beginning of writing, adults have expressed despair that the up coming generation will never be able to successfully run their own lives let alone the world.   So, if you have children or grandchildren that don’t seem to grasp the importance of some of the things you value, be patient.  A day is coming when they will fret over their children and they will be the leaders in our churches.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 22, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA




The Linus Syndrome

Psychologists call them transitional objects.  They provide safety and comfort for individuals going through a stressful situation.  They are those wonderful tattered, worn teddy bears and blankets that accompany small children through a host of stressful transitions as they learn all about the big world around them.

Sometimes parents become concerned that their children are not normal if they have the Linus Syndrome—named for that Peanuts character Linus and his wonderful blanket.  But it is very normal and parents should not worry.

Adults manifest the same syndrome but in different ways.  During times of stress they use such things as chewing gum, a hot drink, or a favorite food.  Whatever we use, it is for the same purpose.  It provides us an island of comfort in a storm of life.

Jesus provides the same thing and lots more.  If when things get difficult, we turn to Jesus for comfort or safety He is there.  He who knows all our needs will do what is best for us.  He is a friend that will never get tattered or worn.  He will always be there when you need something safe.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 29, 2000

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Science – The Enhancer of Faith

Recently I listened to a discourse that portrayed science as the enemy of faith. It was as if scientists were out to destroy any connection between one’s walk with God and the world that He created.  How very strange this seems.  It seems to me those of us who love the Lord, who maintain He is the Creator of all things physical, should be fascinated and excited each time something new is discovered.  Each new scientific idea, which if it is true science, is an unbiased attempt to understand our world and how it functions.  Each new discovery is another facet into the mind of Him that lives within us and enables us to be more like Him.

The problem seems to be that sometimes we need to make adaptations to our faith and that causes some to fear if they give up a little they are on a slippery road to giving up everything.  But, this need not be the case at all.  Instead, each adaptation brings us into a more realistic and deeper understanding of our Creator.  There is nothing sinister about saying, “I used to believe that way.  Now I believe this way.”   Remember the verse in Proverbs 3:8 that says, “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”  The more scientific facts we know, the deeper is our love for the incredible Mind that designed it.

Change is not necessarily bad.  When the geocentric concept of the universe was disproven by Galileo and other inquiring minds, mankind had an opportunity to see the wonder of God’s true design.   Hebrews 1 just gets more exciting when it speaks of Jesus being the maker of worlds.  What an awesome Jesus.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 21, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous

I was browsing in the index section of the hymnal I grew up with and noticed forty-seven of the hymns were written by what appears to be a very prolific writer because I have seen his – or was he a she – name on lots of things – Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous.  Anonymity has always puzzled me because Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount,  “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”

I understand what Jesus was driving at.  I get it.  However, when one is responsible for a ministry such as Spring of Life, why would people donate if they didn’t know you were doing something useful?  We want our gifts to mean something.  Personally, I am deeply moved by St. Jude Children’s Hospital that treats children with cancer and they never bill the parents for anything.  We need to know that about St. Jude if we would be moved to help.

The balance between sharing information and bragging is a very delicate thing.  How does one follow Jesus’ instructions and yet inform people that giving to something matters and makes a difference?  The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most complicated moral statements ever spoken.  How do we turn the other cheek and yet not be an enabler of someone’s pathological selfishness?  There are users all around us.   Are we to be doormats?   We have to balance that with Jesus’ counsel to shake the dust from our feet and move on.  If you are like me you need to daily ask for wisdom.  Fortunately we are promised we will receive wisdom if we ask.  See James 1:5.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 20, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



The Goodness of God

The rich young ruler knelt before Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus replied, “No one is good except God alone.”

The issue of defining who or what is good has been contemplated by scholars and philosophers, occidental and oriental, for millennia.  The result being that some people conclude that goodness is strict compliance to a carefully written code.  Others ask why we need a written code.  Instead they say we should ask, “Will this harm me or another?  Often there are extenuating circumstances that make it necessary to disobey one or more written rules.  The least harmful outcome would be what is good.”

In Matthew 7:11 Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God alone knows the long range fruit of a specific act. Therefore, God’s goodness will always guide Him to answer our prayers in accordance with the long range fruit of what will be best for all involved.

Believing in the goodness of God brings us assurance that the best possible outcome will always be the fruit of our prayers.  When I ask for a safe journey somewhere, I rest assured that God will do or allow what is good for all involved.   Paul, who was beaten, shipwrecked and stoned on more than several occasions, said in Romans 8:28. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  We might not now see that something is good.  (I don’t on an almost daily basis.) But someday it will be made plain to us that God’s answer was the best possible answer.

Written by Roger Bothwell on Sept. 19, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Letters of Recommendation

Writing letters of recommendation is a wonderful opportunity to say good things about people.  It is an opportunity to help others continue to grow.

 Have you ever wondered what kind of recommendation we would need if we had to apply for salvation?  Would we need to vouch for our perfect characters?  That would be hard to come by.  Would we need someone to say what hard workers we are?  The problem with that is works are not a ticket to heaven.  It is given by grace.

 Actually what we need is not someone to write a letter of recommendation; rather we need to proclaim the impossibility of obtaining a recommendation adequate enough to get us in.  We need an attorney.  And that is exactly what we have.  In I John 2:1 we read, “…if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” He is a great attorney.  He has earned the right to do something for us we cannot do for ourselves.  He can declare us innocent.  Now that is what will get us into heaven.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 3, 2000

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574



Always There

It was a dark moonless night on our street that has no street lights.  (I’m glad.  We can see stars.)  Our black lab was outside making her final night rounds.  Often she sits in the darkness staring off into the forest.   I’m sure she hears night sounds that beckon her.  Often I just allow her to stare as long as she wants.  But this particular evening I went out to call her in.  Since it was totally dark I turned on the flash light app on my phone and scanned the yard.  She was nowhere to be seen.  Was this the night she couldn’t resist the call of the wild?  Walking about the yard calling and peering under the rhododendrons I began to be concerned.  Where could she be?  Turning this way and that I looked and called.  Suddenly I felt a nudge on the back of my leg.  She had been with me all the time following me from bush to tree.  I’m sure she wondered what was wrong with me.  When I turned, she turned.  She’s a good dog.  She is so totally black on a moonless night she is invisible.

There are times when our life seems so dark.  Things do not go well.  Dreams are dashed.  We lose someone we love.  Our finances aren’t thrilling.  We pray and only hear silence.  Where is God?  Where are His promises?  Finally after much searching we feel a nudge.  He was there all the time.  We just couldn’t see Him.  His promise is true.  “Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world.”  He’s a good God.   After all He told us to call Him Father.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 12, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, Ca 94574


The Super Market Checkout Lane

Our supermarket has ten checkout lanes.  Yesterday there was only one open with eight people waiting in line.  To add insult to injury there were four employees chatting over at the service counter.  I don’t usually consider myself an activist, but this exceeded my sense of how to conduct a business.  Therefore, I called out very loudly to the four that it just might be beneficial if they stopped talking and opened up more checkout lanes.  Seven of the eight people in line applauded.  The eighth didn’t have to, she was being processed.  (And yes they did open two more checkouts.)

Now let me see.  There are presently 7.1 billion people on earth.  There is only ONE god.  Perhaps half of those people are worshipping, as Daniel says, “. . gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand.”  That still leaves 3.5 billion people to pray to the one and only living, hearing God.  That is a lot of people potentially standing in line.

Now, this is where it really gets good.  There is no waiting in line.  There is no waiting for our number to be called.  Each person gains instant access.  One of the great human needs is for attention. We crave attention.  It is built into our psyche.  Yesterday I watched a child throw all his books from his desk onto the floor.  His teacher had been ignoring him. (At least he thought so.)   When I was in line at the supermarket I didn’t throw my groceries on the floor.  Instead I just yelled.  But we don’t have to yell at God.  This amazing Father hears the pleadings of our hearts and is right there with all the attention we need.  We are so blessed to have such a wonderful God. How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on Sept. 16, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574




The Hole in the Door

The immediate flooring inside our front door is dark stone.  The front door faces west.  In the afternoons a small dot of light slowly moves across the stone floor.  Obviously there is a hole in the door.  But it is so tiny it is not at all noticeable except for that dot of light.  I am fascinated with the penetrating power of light.  If there is a way for light to shine through something, it will do it.

It is no wonder Jesus called Himself the light of the world.  (John 8:12.)  He will find any open avenue to enter a person’s life.  He so longs to save He will do His best to influence and awaken a person to the possibility of eternal life.  In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14) He calls us the light of the world.  We also can make a positive difference in other’s lives and pierce the darkness.   “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.  All around the neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine.”

Some people seem so isolated or so calloused that we might think they are impenetrable.  Jesus calls us to shine.  The Holy Spirit will use our light to break through the barriers some people erect.  It could be a smile, a hello, an interest in something they love, a token of care when life isn’t going so well.  Like my door, we can’t see any hole or any way in.  But, the light will find its way.  We might never know we had any effect.  Pride might not allow the calloused one to admit we make a difference.  But we do.  Actually it’s our love that does.  Well, even more accurately it is Jesus’ love shining through us – the light of the world

Written by Roger Bothwell on Sept. 15, 2016

PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574