Changing the World Child by Child

There are times when I wish everyone could have seen and heard what I heard. Tonight was one of those nights. It was a class filled with teachers working on their Masters degrees. Our discussion about how to help middle school children dream big dreams led several of my students to share their personal dreams. If you are discouraged about world conditions, if you wonder about the quality of education our children are receiving, if you think you just cannot bear to hear any more bad news you should have been with me.

Your heart would have thrilled and your courage bolstered by these public school teachers sharing their stories. They were people who left lucrative careers to go back to school. One man has gone to night school for over nine years so he could become a teacher. Others were moms whose children are not small any more and so these moms are back in school to become teachers. Others are already teachers trying to be even better at their craft. All of them were people we would be proud to have stand before our children.

Sometimes we only hear about the bad things that happen in our schools and we miss out on the literally tens of thousands of decent, moral, hardworking, good people who sacrifice major amounts of money so they can change the future of the world child by child. I just wanted you to know for every lousy teacher that might be hiding in the system there are hundreds of great ones who love and care for our children every single day.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 29, 2003.
Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

Enosh Begat Kenan

Do you remember the first time you decided you were going to read the Bible? You most likely started at Genesis chapter one. Soon you had breezed through the creation story and the introduction of sin and death. You read about Cain and Abel and wondered where Cain got his wife after he was forced to leave home. But then you hit the really hard stuff. You got to Genesis five and suddenly you got bogged down in the genealogies. “Enosh begat Kenan. After he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters.” Only historians could stay awake with this material.

There are many genealogies in the Bible and scholars have learned they are far from complete. Only really important people got their name recorded. If it says Sam begat Bill it does not necessarily mean Bill was Sam’s son. It could be that Bill was Sam’s great grandson and his dad and granddad never distinguished themselves thus their names were left out.

It must be horrible in life to have your name left off a list because you were not important, because you did not make a difference. We all want our lives to count. We want to make a difference. And the truth is we all do make a difference. The world is not the same because we have been here. It is just that we might never know what it was we did. Was it a good difference or a bad difference? Romans 8:28 promises that God will make your difference a good one. You can be sure.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 27, 2003
Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

Please Draw a Triangle, Grandma

My three-year-old granddaughter asked my wife to draw her a triangle, which she did. But there was something wrong with it. So my granddaughter asked again. Again it was drawn for her and with rising frustration she said, “No, a triangle!” So my wife tried the letter A. That wasn’t it. She tried a rectangle. That wasn’t it. She tried a circle. That wasn’t it. By this time the little girl was in tears. “No, A Triangle!!” We never did figure it out.

It has to be so frustrating to lack the necessary vocabulary to communicate.
Existentialist would call it angst, especially, when it happens to us as adults. Our hearts are full of pent-up frustration. We want so much to be happy. We want to share an abundant life with another. We want to satisfy a nagging hunger that there is something more in life that we do not yet have. This has nothing to do with material things it is a soul hunger crying out for oneness with something bigger than we. The Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch, tried to paint it is his famous picture “The Scream.”

Paul must have known this angst. In Romans 8 he wrote, “We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

God knows what we need to quench the cry of the hungry human heart.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 23, 2003.
Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

How Much Do I Love Thee?

While lecturing this morning I made myself comfortable by sitting on the edge of the desk. This is not unusual so I was interested why my students started to snigger. Finally they pointed to my socks. They did not match. They were sure this was a sign of old age and creeping senility but I protested that it was a sign of love. I got up this morning before my wife and it was still fairly dark in the room. Not wanting to awaken her by turning on a light I got dressed in the dark. In the dark my socks looked like a pair.

I was reminded of a hymn I grew up singing. It is simply called, “I Love You” and the last line of the first stanza says, “But how much I love Thee my actions do show.” In Matthew 25 Jesus said, “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

When we love someone we do for them. Love shows. Loves does. Trying to hide love is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. Anyway why would we want to hide it?

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 22, 2003
Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

A Way That Seems Right

We had a truly frightening experience this past Saturday night. We attended a New York Rangers Hockey game in Madison Square Garden. We were so far up in the nosebleed section I needed binoculars to read the numbers on the backs of the players. The frightening thing happened afterward. We got onto an escalator going down that led to another escalator going down and so on. Midway down for some unknown reason an official blocked the entrance of an escalator. He apparently had not thought of what was going to occur because the escalator arriving at his position continued to disgorge people into a very small area. People were piling up with no place to go. People at the top of the still moving escalator did not know what was happened at the bottom and continued to get on for the ride down. We had small children with us and immediately grabbed them to hold above our heads. Obviously the situation was rectified or I would not be writing to you. But it was frightening as dozens more people continued to be delivered onto the pile.

I thought of those mounting the escalator not knowing what awaited them at the bottom. So often we embark on a course of action not knowing where it will take us. Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” When wiser people tell us not to do something we really ought to take heed. The reason why the sign says, “Don’t drink the water” could be because the water is poisoned.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 21, 2003.
Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

Try Him Out

After over forty years of marriage I have noted an increase in misunderstandings and questionable glances. At first this puzzled me. It would seem after living life together so long we would be more understanding because we were both present at the same events. But I have it figured out. It’s all about hearing each other. She doesn’t hear everything I say and when I respond with my usual friendly grunts she doesn’t hear me and thinks I am ignoring her. Now I would love to leave you with the impression it is all her fault but alas I have noticed increasing numbers of times when I have to ask my students to repeat a question. So I am sure if she were talking to you now she would say, “He just doesn’t pay attention anymore. I say things to him and he just continues on his merry way.” The key to a great relationship is listening and I am not as good at it as I used to be.

In Psalm 20 verse 6 we are assured that God hears us. Midst the cacophony of the universe and the millions of prayers constantly being sent His way He hears us. You and I can be sure not a sigh goes unnoticed. When we talk to Him He often replies with a friendly grunt and we might not hear Him because of our inattention but be assured He did hear everything. It was, according to Elijah on Mount Carmel, Baal who was hard of hearing or sleeping or on a vacation. But our God never misses anything. So try Him out.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 20, 2003.
Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

Zucchini Time

Summer is ebbing away and it’s zucchini time. What a wonderful time of the year. Days are toasty, nights are cool and gardens are reminding us of our heavenly Father’s prodigal ways. I have a friend who planted six zucchini plants and I asked, “Why?” One plant could feed Boston. It’s a good thing the patriots chose to toss tea into the harbor because no one would have noticed had it been zucchini. This afternoon we even had a bagful magically appear on our doorstep and we don’t even have a garden. (Thank you zucchini fairy.)

God’s generosity is not limited to a vegetable. One of my favorite verses is Micah 7:19. “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Please take note of the word “all.” But, you may ask what about the unpardonable sin Jesus spoke of in Matthew 12:31. “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” That verse has frightened many people because they wonder if they are guilty of that sin. As Jesus would say, “Fear not.” The unpardonable sin is one’s refusal to yield to the Holy Spirit’s wooing. The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict us of our sins and urge us to repent. Thus the unpardonable sin is refusing to repent of any sin. If you are concerned that means He is calling you. So just say, “Lord, I am so sorry. Help me.”

That brings us back to all our sins being forgiven. The last time I checked the deepest part of any ocean is 36,070 feet. That is a long way down. God loves mercy and is prodigal.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 17, 2017
Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574