What Have You Found Today?

I found a very nice eight-foot stepladder in the middle of my street.  It had obviously fallen off someone’s truck but there was no truck or car in sight.   That evening I called everyone on my street who owned a truck seeking its owner but all I got from my neighbors was congratulations on my new acquisition.   It’s not often I find something of value.  Usually I’m the one who loses things of value like keys and tools.

But wait.  That is not exactly correct. On a very regular basis I find new friends.  They certainly have lots of value.  Each day in class I find out something new about one of my students.  Usually it is something that helps me relate better to them and perhaps be a better teacher for them.  That certainly has value. If I spend any time at all with my Bible I find things of value.  What amazes me about that is it is not seeing a text for the first time but seeing new meaning in a text that I have read a hundred times.   Ninety percent of the time I begin my classes by reading a passage of Scripture.  Sometimes my students stop me and tell me I already read that one this semester.  I like it when that happens because they remembered and I found out something new about them.  They are listening.

So I regularly find things of value.  They just aren’t stepladders or green pieces of paper with presidents’ pictures on them.  But they have tons of value. How about you?  What have you found today?

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 10, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

Myrtle’s Brown Bag

Myrtle was a community novelty.  Her odd ways did not place her on top of community invitation lists for weddings and social events.  Yet she somehow knew when events were occurring and would show up in her very plain dress and with a brown bag to collect food to take home.  It was not that she did not have enough.  She had a steady job.  Modern psychologists would probably say she had arrested development with childlike characteristics.   Most people were standoffishly polite to her, halfway afraid she was an angel God sent to test them.  No one wanted to show up on judgment day and find Myrtle standing by the right hand side of God’s throne knowing they had not been nice to her.  And so when she appeared uninvited at functions no one rebuffed her but pretended they didn’t see when she filled her bag with the leftovers.

The first time I saw Myrtle was at my wedding.  As part of the wedding preparations a very lovely bag of nice things was made ready and given to Myrtle.  Surely there would be no need for her to feel the embarrassing necessity of gleaning the reception hall.  However as my new bride and I were about to leave I looked across the room and there was Myrtle filling her brown bag.

Myrtle was little different than most of us.  God has prepared a banquet for us and we prefer leftovers.  Instead of opening our Bibles and reading for ourselves we depend on preachers and teachers to tell us what they ate of God’s wonders when God has a full bag prepared just for us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 10, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

Sticks & Stones

In July of 2003 a Viennese team of nine surgeons led by Rolf Ewers replaced a diseased tongue with a tongue from a brain-dead donor.  The recipient can talk and eat but has no sense of taste.  It would be fun to think the man with the new tongue now had the same vocabulary and accent as the donor but the tongue no more builds sentences any more than a hammer builds a house.  It is a tool like a hammer and can be used constructively or destructively.  A hammer can drive home a nail and a tongue can drive home an idea.  A hammer can smash a multitude of things and a tongue can smash human egos and personalities.

When we were little we sang, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me.”   It would be difficult to find a more inaccurate sentence. The wounds from sticks and stones heal but the wounds from names and ridicule can damage a life beyond repair. I used to wonder why we are so eager to believe the worst about others but now I believe it is because we believe the worst about ourselves.  There is an old saying that misery loves company.  If we can drag down others then maybe we wouldn’t look so bad.

Let’s use our tongues to encourage others.  Everyone has some good points.  Tell them we noticed.  If they are young, speak of their gifts and fill them with hope.  Assure them God has dreams for them with ample power available for success.  In return they might say something nice about us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 9, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

Ephesians 2-God’s Gift

Two separate teams of astronomers, one in Virginia and one in France, have recently discovered our galaxy is gobbling up a neighboring galaxy.  Every 750 million years, the oval orbit of our neighbor brings it close enough for our gravitation to capture some suns.  I would like very much to verify this by actual observation.  However, my present limitation of about eighty years of life seems to remove this from my list of “been there and done that’s”, so I am definitely counting on the promise of eternal life.  If I get busy and miss the next orbital pass I don’t have to be concerned because I’ll catch the next one or the next.

If I sound confident about this, it has everything to do with trusting the promises made to all of us.  Paul assures us in Ephesians 2 eternal life is a complete gift from start to finish.  We have no goodness to contribute to it for if we did we would soon be boasting that we did the whole thing.  Now, the question is, “Just why would God want to do this for us?”  According to Paul it is so God can spend eternity showering us with gifts. If I had never been a parent I don’t think I would understand this.  But now I know the rush of happiness that comes from seeing one’s child prosper and grow.  It makes our day.

I certainly don’t want to make God sound selfish, but the truth is He loves it when we do well.  It makes Him feel like the great Father that He is.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 7, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

A Paid Recruitment Ad

The Art of War written by Sun-Tzu is the oldest military treatise in the world.   It doesn’t matter that it was written 2000 years ago.  His ideas are classic and very much worth the study of any general who wishes to win a war.  He has given us seven indicators, which will determine who will ultimately win a war.  It is fascinating to apply them to the battle between Jesus and Lucifer.

He says we must ask (1) “Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with moral law?”   This one automatically goes to Jesus since He was without sin.  Hebrews 4:15

(2) “Which of the two generals has the most ability?”  Jesus is the creator.  He can make anything.  Hebrews 1:2

(3) “With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?”  Jesus is at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Hebrews 1:3

(4) “On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?”  Even the wind and waves obey Jesus command of “Peace be still.”   Mark 4:39

(5) “Which army is stronger?”  Jesus has legions of angels at His disposal.  Matthew 26:53

(6) “On which side are officers and men more highly trained?”   Jesus’ power received the recognition of a Roman centurion as one who could command and get results.  Matthew 8

(7) “In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?”  Hebrews 11:6 assures us Jesus is a rewarder of all who seek Him.

The above is a paid recruitment advertisement.  The cost was the life of Jesus Himself.   Join up.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 4, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

God Knows ___________.

I have to tell you I really messed up.  This was a major league mistake.  After I explain you will understand what an idiot I have been.  It all started about three years ago.  My wife came home one afternoon from the beauty parlor with frosted hair.  I really liked it and continued to tell her so.  As the months passed by it, of course, grew out and after a few haircuts was gone.  This year she asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  I said, “Get your hair frosted again like you did a few years ago.”  She did.

By now some of you have most likely guessed my sin.  I didn’t notice.  She came home.  We spent the evening together.  The next morning at the breakfast table I thought she looked great and told her so.  But I didn’t know why.  She gave up waiting for me to catch on and finally told me.

Now to make it even worse that morning we went to the college where we both teach and as she walked in the door a colleague immediately said, “Oh, you got your hair lightened.”  I tried to defend myself by pointing out a few years ago I shaved off a mustache I had worn for years and it took her a week to notice it was gone, but that didn’t get me out of the doghouse.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us God knows how many hairs are on our heads.  I can’t even tell what color they are!  Do you think I can plead temporary insanity?

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 3, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574


Good Laws Have Good Reasons

Is there anyone over the age three in this country that doesn’t know seatbelts save lives?  So why is it a police cruiser in Massachusetts that crashed while pursuing a runner has two distinct head smash marks on the inside of the windshield?  Could it be that both seatbelts failed?   I was amused that the local news showed pictures of the smashed cruiser’s windshield without specific comment.  They merely reported that both officers were in the hospital.  Oh, in Massachusetts one can be pulled over and ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt.

And what of a certain congressman with a horrible driving record who is currently indicted for vehicular manslaughter because he ran a stop sign and killed someone?

What is it with people who think laws are written for others but not them?  Could it be they have no concept of why a law is a law?  Good laws have good reasons.  If they do not, then change the law?  The only ethical reason one has for violating the law is when the law is unjust and lawmakers have not been properly motivated to change it.  Some people think position brings privileges without responsibility.  However, the truth is the higher the position the greater the responsibility.  It is a law of life not only in this country but everywhere in the world.  Actually, it is the law everywhere in the universe.  It is called natural law, which is the best kind.

In Galatians Paul explains to us that freedom is only freedom as long as one is intelligent enough to realize one’s responsibilities.  Otherwise it is stupid arrogance.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 2, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

A Temple for God’s Spirit

General George Washington never seriously wanted to engage the better armed British army in direct combat because he knew all he needed to do to win was to last longer than General Howe.  He knew an army a long way from home across an ocean would eventually weary of the cost in manpower and treasure and go home leaving the residents of the land to their own will.

Surely after Jesus ascended back to heaven Lucifer rejoiced thinking he now had full control of this old planet.  But to his dismay God was far from giving up on us.  Instead the Holy Spirit was sent into the hearts of all to understand the heavenly sacrifice that was made for our rescue.  Now instead of having God incarnate in the form of one Jesus of Nazareth, God would live in hearts of the millions who would believe.  Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with us until the end of time.  In John 14 He promised not to leave us orphaned but would sent us the Holy Spirit.  And so it is that His promise was kept and each of us has the opportunity of being a temple for God’s spirit to dwell.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, . . .”  2 Corinthians 5:17-18

When Jesus returned to His Father’s right hand the invasion intensified.  God no longer walked only in Palestine but everywhere you and I go.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 1, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

Our Emperor, Our King

Hadrian, the Roman Emperor, was an incredible man committed to leaving the world a better place via the resources he had at his command.  Instead of traveling the empire with a host of soldiers taking whatever they could,  he traveled with an entourage of engineers and architects building whatever was needed.  He was a man of peace who knew the arts of war and wanted to serve Rome by never sending his armies into battle.  His dream failed because in 135 he found it necessary to put down a rebellion in Jerusalem.  He loved art and philosophy and surrounded himself with scholars.  He loved to question them and laugh at their disputes.  He was a superb administrator but very human and wearied with detail.   Failing to give an audience to a petitioning woman he sent her the message that he had no time for her.  When she cried back, “Then, don’t be emperor,” he granted her a hearing.

Hadrian reminds me of Jesus when the Syrophoenician woman followed Him begging for help.  It is a strange story because Jesus refused her because she was not Jewish.  However, she persisted, maintaining that even heathen dogs had the right to eat crumbs.  He granted her request. It was a powerful lesson for his watching disciples.  The blessings of the Kingdom were for everyone not just the linage of Abraham.  Paul follows up on this in Galatians 3:28,  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Our Emperor, our King, has time for us all, no matter where we have originated.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 30, 2003

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574

God’s Design?

While sitting by a Wal-mart I watched seagulls clean the parking lot.  They are most likely the same gulls that are always there.  They have a good thing going.  People are trashy so there are ample French fries and other pieces of food from the McDonalds inside the Wal-mart.  Then, of course, there are the dumpsters out back.  We live over an hour’s drive from the ocean so I doubt if these birds are tourists.  They have contented themselves with an ocean of blacktop and the refuse of humans. It is a long way from riding the winds and soaring along the coast and feeding on fresh seafood.

They reminded me of people content to live second-rate lives far from God’s design for them.  God longs for us to ride first class.  He dreams for us to grow into excellence and to do and experience things our parents never dared hope for us.  There are levels of accomplishment and challenges to conquer waiting for those no longer content to mentally eat the media trash fed to us on a daily basis.

God calls us not only to salvation from sin but from the mediocrity of coasting through life like water that always chooses the easiest path downhill.  If we would discipline ourselves to learn something new each day about our job, our spouse, our children and our God we would soon ride the wind and soar above those content to eat other’s trash.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Study to show thy self approved unto God” not just to make God happy but to fill us with grandeur.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 28, 2003.

Spring of Life, 901 Signorelli Circle, St. Helena, CA 94574