Summer Ramblings About Rumblings

There is something indescribably delicious about a hot muggy summer afternoon that slowly transitions when a thunderstorm cools off the day. Maples leaves, bigger than oak and birch leaves, are the first to catch the approaching zephyr. Glancing up one notices a slight graying of the afternoon’s cumulous clouds. Shapes and forms multiply overhead and deepen in color as far away sounds of thunder announce intentions.

When my Dad and I would hear the first rumblings of an approaching downpour he would tell me angels were rearranging the furniture in heaven. I liked it when he told me fun stories. I knew better but it was fun to hear. My father was full of strange and wonderful tales about our ancestors. He often talked about his grandmother who packed a pearl-handled six-shooter on her hip. I knew it wasn’t true but I would beg him for more and he was
good to deliver.

Stories give substance to our ideas, beliefs and values. Stories help us fit into the world about us. Instead of telling people how to live and what to do it is better to tell them a good story and let them figure out the meaning. The lessons stick because they were generated in the minds of the listeners. Jesus knew that and was a great storyteller. Some of them were true. Some of them were made up. The point was not the veracity of the tale but the meaning that would permanently change the life of the hearer. Jesus loved metaphors and effectively used them as when he warned his disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 10, 2008
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd., Leominster, MA 01453.

Mushrooms Everywhere

This past month one could almost have confused New England with the tropics.
Each afternoon the sky filled with giant cumulous clouds; lightening
flashed, thunder rumbled and torrential downpours have filled our reservoirs
to overflowing. That is amazing. All the moisture has awakened a rich
array of mushrooms and other fungi. The forest floor is decorated with red,
yellow, orange, gray and purple caps.

I found myself wishing I knew the names of all these strange wonders. Then
it occurred to me that if I knew the names I still would not know anything
about them. Names are just what some other person decided to call them.
That would tell me more about the namer than the named. I too can name
them; anything I want! It would be great fun to name one after my wife
and two others after my sons and another after my dog. The difficulty
would be communicating to others about the mushrooms that I had named. But
then I cannot think of any time I have ever had a mushroom based
conversation with anyone.

Most likely somewhere in the world there is an official mushroom naming
society just as somewhere in the universe there is someone who has a special
name for you and me. Revelation 2:17 speaks of God giving each of us a new
name. I am sure it will be a perfect match for our personality. When we,
if we tell it to others who know us, they will nod and say, “Yes, that’s
perfect. That’s you.” I’m glad God is the one giving us our new names
because I think none of us would dare to give ourselves as grand a name as
we are going to receive.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 18, 2008
Spring of Life Ministry, 151 Old Farm Rd., Leominster, MA


One of the great things about summer is melons. It is true; melons are shipped to our grocery stores all winter. However, those just don’t taste good probably because are picked while they are green in order to ship them to market. Homegrown melons just taste so much better. Maybe it’s the time of the year. Who wants to eat watermelon for Christmas? But on a hot summer day it is marvelous.

Some people like to put salt on their melons. Others like their cantaloupe with a scoop of ice cream filling the hole in the middle. Do you remember when stores would plug a watermelon for you, and if you did not like the taste they just threw away that melon and let you plug another? Wow, just try that today! Others pick out cantaloupes by smelling the stem end.

According to the book of Numbers one of the foods the children of Israel missed after they left Egypt was melons. The wilderness where they wandered about for forty years was a pretty hot place and melons would have been great. However, they did get manna every morning. But even the best food in the world gets a bit boring when you have it every single day. God has been so good to us. He has filled the earth with a huge variety of good things. What a gracious wonderful God!

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 27, 2000
Spring of Life Ministry, 151 Old Farm Rd., Leominster, MA 01453

Deep Summer In New England

We are deep into summer in New England. The greens have lost their newness and have darkened into a lush verdancy. Roadsides are strewn with Queen Anne’s Lace and Daylilies. Purple Loosestrife has filled the wetlands along the edges of the rivers and marshlands. Evening shadows lengthen until 8:30 p.m. before falling away to the night. Eighty-degree days toast the air and herald the coming of sixty-degree evenings. Wood thrushes sing from the
woods the most beautiful sounds of nature.

If one leaves the rush of the highways and slows down on the winding rock fence walled roads that led to calendar picture villages, one is treated to well-mown yards and Edenic flower gardens. Unique houses fly flags as do the light poles in the towns. One can feel the pride of home and country when moving along the oak and maple lined streets. If you turn off the air-conditioning and roll down the windows almost every street fills one’s nostrils with the glory of some backyard chef trying out his charcoal grill. In the distance you can hear the calliope sounds of Pop Goes the Weasel as the local ice cream man slowly moves through the neighborhoods baiting both little and big people to come and buy Snow cones, Popsicles and Eskimo Pies.

Summertime in New England is as good as life gets. It fills one with thanksgiving and praise for the one who made it and closed out Genesis one with “that’s very good.” “He owns the day and the night. He put the stars and sun in place. He laid out the four corners of earth and shaped the seasons of summer and winter.” Psalm 74:16 – 17

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 14, 2008
Spring of Life Ministry, 151 Old Farm Rd., Leominster, MA 01453

Queen Anne’s Lace

In summer the roadsides of central Massachusetts are filled with flowers. The old stonewalls are decorated with day lilies and Queen Anne’s lace. The day lilies come in a vast array of colors while the Queen Anne’s lace is just white but not plain white. If you stop to look closely you will see in the middle of each cluster a tiny purple blossom proclaiming its individuality.

The very last thought of chapter 5 in Galatians is “Let us not…envy each other.” It is so easy to look about and see wonderful features and qualities in others. The next step is to envy. To want be the best looking person at the party. To be the smartest kid in the school. To be the fastest athlete with the best jump shot. To have a car and house like the neighbors. Whole lives can be spent wishing to be or to have something else while failing to appreciate our own gifts and beauty.

God loves each person. In His love He has given each one something unique and wonderful. When we discover what that is and to use it for the benefit of others, we discover yet another gift. For as we utilize what we have, God gives more. Each of us is an original. There is not another like you. We each have something special to offer. Envy no one. Enjoy your uniqueness. Be the purple little blossom in the middle of a Queen Anne’s lace.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 28, 2000
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd., Leominster, MA 01453

Make A Wish

In one of my classes today we were talking about the “Make a Wish” Foundation that grants children with life threatening medical conditions one fantastic wish. Many children want to go to Disneyland. Other children want to meet someone special. During the conversation I mentioned that Christianity is a “Make a Wish” faith because Paul says in Ephesians 3:20 that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

At this my students began to tell me all the things they could imagine they wanted. One of them told me she wanted God to pay off her student loans. I assured her God would indeed do that. On a daily basis He would give her the strength to go to class. He would give her the intelligence to learn and if she used what He has given she will someday graduate, begin a career and make all the money needed to pay off her student loans. She was a bright young lady and got the point. God is not interested in granting the wishes of lazy people who don’t bother to utilize the gifts He has already given.

Jesus told a great parable about a man who took a trip and left his servants money to invest. The ones who invested were well rewarded. The one who did nothing with his talent was chastised and impoverished after the master returned. Good things, wishes, come to those who hustle.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 2, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

A Ringside Seat in God’s Universe

Hot summer nights are for lying on a grassy hill watching the stars (suns) from far away places parade across the sky. The stars come in all manner of sizes. Some are so big were they positioned where our sun is we would be immersed in the hydrogen furnace. Some are so small they are called dwarfs and are about the size of our earth. This sounds like the story of the three bears, one is too big, one is too small and our sun is just right.

If our sun’s future is like other suns (and there is no reason think it would be different) its supply of hydrogen will ultimately become helium, which will fuse to ultimately form carbon 12. This will occur after it becomes a red giant expanding beyond the orbit of Venus. It will then shrink to become one of those dwarfs. During its red giant phase its heat output will incinerate everything on dear old planet Earth. But not to worry. This horrific event is a few billion years away, a few years beyond our expected life span. That is unless we take Jesus’ promise of eternal life seriously. Pondering that wonder means we will have a ringside seat somewhere in God’s universe to witness this marvel of nature.

No wonder Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” There is just too much to see and learn to be lax about accepting the promise. I want to see it all.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 6, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

What Irritates God?

Our dog loves to swim. Today it went into the high nineties and she sat looking at me with her head cocked as if she was trying to figure out why I was so slow about going to her favorite swimming hole. Finally we went. However, something strange happened. After a quick dip and a swim to retrieve a stick she wanted back in the truck. The mosquitoes and the black flies were so bad this evening she wanted refuge. I was not about to argue with her. They get in your hair and dig in for supper. Ouch! I wonder what the Native Americans did here in the summer before the pilgrims arrived? Surely they must have covered themselves with some kind of berry juice or they would all have been anemic or have scratched themselves to death by the end of July.

As I retreated to the shelter of the truck I wondered what irritates God. Most everything I could think of like mosquitoes and black flies He could easily fix. If there is something, it has to be something out His control. But, isn’t everything under His control? Actually no. Like a parent that gives their child the car keys He passes control to us. Yes, He could take back the keys but that would not foster the freedom and mature growth good parents desire for their children. God has given us the keys to our destiny. We can go where we want. And I am sure when we are going the wrong way He is way beyond irritation.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 4, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

A Rescuer of Self-Esteem

When I was a little boy my teacher asked me what came after twelve and I said, “One.” The other children in the room laughed at me. A girl with long brown locks looked at me with disdain as if to say, “How can you be so stupid?” But my teacher was very wise. Pausing for a moment she pointed to the clock on the wall and said, “Very good, Roger.” I remember riding home on the bus feeling very good. The others had laughed but my teacher vindicated me.

I remembered this years later when preparing a sermon on the Beatitudes. Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” (Matthew 5:11) For a few seconds I felt reviled and my teacher rescued me. The truth was I was wrong. The answer was, of course, thirteen. But a wise, caring teacher knew such moments in a child’s life plot the future. She rescued my self-esteem.

There is a story told in Matthew 26 of a woman pouring very expensive perfume on Jesus. It was an act that could not be hidden because everyone’s nose pointed to her and the reaction was not good. Nasty things were said and she could hear. However, Jesus spoke up in her defense, most likely not really to defend the act as much as to defend her. People were always foremost in His care. Her chief accusers were correct from a fiscal viewpoint. From a human viewpoint they were dead wrong.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 14, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Seeing Through Other’s Eyes

We have all seen pictures of teams rushing onto the field to fight with each other. It always amazes me that grown men would behave like little leaguers. But then I remind myself that most little league brawls occur among the parents and not the children. So I guess the men are acting like grownups.

I often wonder if most of the players run unto the field because it is a team thing and once out there they pretend to fight while asking their supposed opponent about the wife and kids. Unfortunately violence is the tool of those who have run out of logic. When we are bested by someone’s superior wit and embarrassed because they have humiliated us with words we often resort to fists or worse if the other is physically bigger than we.

Unfortunately when nations run out of words the resulting violence can be horrific with historic consequences. Our history books are printed with the blood of young men because old men lacked the wisdom to understand each other’s needs. We need to pray that God would enable the leaders of our world to see the world through the other’s eyes that they might understand how to talk instead of striking. What the world needs is 100 qualified candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s pass the Prize out like the leaves of autumn because there are so many worthies.

It is way over time to beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall we learn war any more.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 13, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453