Driving a Bathtub

You are driving down a highway when suddenly you are engulfed in a

torrential downpour.  Gallons of water are striking your windshield and

disappearing into that grated area below your windshield wipers.  Have you

ever wondered where all that water goes?  It is supposed to go into a drain

that dumps it out the bottom of your car.  But what happens if that drain

gets plugged with leaves and other debris?  That water has to go somewhere.

In my car gallons of water poured into the ventilation system.  Water came

out the air vents, spraying us because it was powered by the car’s fan.  My

gas pedal foot was drenched as cold water poured into my shoe.  The vent

that carries air to the back seat goes between the two front seats and

created sloshing sounds.  I thought we were driving a bathtub.


All this happened because of debris, which brings me to the debris in our

lives.  Our lives fill with the remains of failures, mistakes and broken

relationships.  Where does it all go?  Do we let it pile up or is there a

way to get rid of it?  Little by little stress develops and quietly, like a

silent killer, it takes its toll on our physical, spiritual and mental

health.  We lose the zest and the stamina of our youth.  We wake up one

morning and discover we are tired and worn out.  We have been carrying all

that garbage.


I have good news.  God wants us to discard it.  Right now, this very moment,

He will clean us and get rid of life’s debris.   I John 1:9 is a

prescription for a healthier you and me.


Written by Roger Bothwell on July 2, 2008

Spring of Life, St. Helena, CA 94574

Doing the Right Thing

I stopped on a country lane this weekend to witness an unusual act of kindness and intelligence.  A car had stopped in the lane coming toward me and the driver was out of his car and had picked up a beautifully marked snake that had been crossing the road.  Carefully he let it go in the long grass and summer lilies between the blacktop and an old stonewall.  Most people would have tried to run over it thinking they were doing a good thing.  It was nice to see someone go out of his way to do the right thing.

Sometimes we do the wrong thing thinking it is right but more often we just don’t do the right thing because it is not convenient.   That is one of the points of the story of the Good Samaritan.  The first two most likely thought they were doing the right thing because the wounded wasn’t one of them.  Recently someone told me a clerk in a religious bookstore refused to imprint the person’s name on a Bible because he wasn’t a member of the church that owned the bookstore.  That level of bigotry makes me shudder.

It wasn’t convenient to take the man to an inn and pay for his care.  Often it is not convenient to make that visit or phone call.  After all we are very busy.  We must keep up with our hectic schedules.  I especially think we get extra character development when we inconvenience ourselves for someone we don’t like.  Paul wrote, “Therefore if your enemy is thirsty, give him drink.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 28, 2008.

Photo by Simon Matzinger.

Spring of Life, St. Helena, CA 94574

Doing Something Stupid

This evening I suddenly came to my senses as I realized I was in the midst of doing something really stupid.  I called a local pizza parlor to order a medium cheese pizza.  The female voice on the other end of the line said, “I’m sorry.  We don’t have medium pizzas.  We have small, large and extra large.  So I said, “Then you mean your large is your medium.”  “No,” she said, “Our large is our large.  We don’t have a medium.”  “But,” I said, “If your large is your middle size than it is your medium.” She then said, “This is a stupid conversation.  We do not have a medium!”  It was then that I realized I better shut up because you never ever want to antagonize someone who is going to prepare your food.  So I quickly said, “Oh, I see. You have no medium.”

Being stupid is something that happens to me with great regularity and I don’t think I am alone.   Surely the all time stupidest thing to do is to know about Jesus and just walk away.  The rich young man did so in Matthew 19.  The Bible says he went away sorrowfully.  At least he was smart enough to be sorrowful right away.  Most people who walk away don’t catch up to the sorrow until many years later when life falls apart and then they wonder what happened.

No one wants to be miserable.  So why don’t they believe Jesus when He said, “I have come that you might have the abundant life.”   Jesus doesn’t lie. He means what He says.  His way is the abundant way and best of all it is agift.    Perhaps the reason is they are watching so many of us who claim to have the gift.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 24, 2008.

Photo courtesy of Lou Malnati’s.

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


Doing Something Great

When I sit down to write, my dog heads for the kitchen wastebasket and soon returns with the largest envelope or some other paper product she can find. Snuggling up to my feet she then proceeds to turn it into a pile of confetti.  Night after night this occurs and night after night before I go to bed I get down on the floor and pick up the pieces of her handiwork. Or should I say paw and mouth work.

Why do I do this?  I could train her not to do it.  I could take it from her when she arrives at my feet.  But night after night I watch her make her pile of tidbits.  The truth is it does no harm and it is easy to clean up and it seems to make her happy.  Perhaps she thinks she is doing paperwork with me.

I wonder if some of the work I do is just as useless and God lets me continue because it makes me happy to think that I am doing something useful.  As long as I am doing no harm it is easy for Him to clean up after I got to thinking about this because not long ago I listened to someone tell of all the great things he had done for God and I wondered if they really were great outside the realm of his mind.  Perhaps it was jealousy on my part because I could not tell such great tales of accomplishment.

However, I do believe God has something great for each of us to do.  I pray God will help each of us to hear the “Well done” we read about in Matthew 25:21.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 29, 2008.

Photo by Tj Holowaychuk.

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

Dagwood Bumstead

At 3:30 A.M. my dog decided she needed to go outside.  Nice.  When this happens she rarely goes out and comes back quickly but takes the opportunity to absorb every night smell possible.  So I sit and wait.   This time my mind remembered Dagwood Bumstead.   I remembered when I was a little boy Dagwood would get up in the middle of the night and make one his famous sandwiches.  The thought crossed my mind, “Should I?”  Instead I remembered a can of freshly made peanut butter cookies.  I could get that in the dim light of all the kitchen’s LEDs.  But I also wanted a glass of milk to go with the cookie.  There was the problem.  If I opened the refrigerator door I would be totally awakened.  I was moving in a semi-daze.  The light in the fridge would seem like the sun.

Have you ever tried to scrunch your eyes really tightly so as to totally block out all light?   I scrunched as I opened the fridge and reached for the milk.  It didn’t work.  The light blasted its way through my lids. Ouch.  It hurt.  Just then the dog came back.  Next time I will make sure she is well walked before I go to bed.

It’s the light thing I want to mention.  God is light.  Try as hard as we might we cannot totally blind ourselves to His presence.  We can scrunch our brains so as to not recognize His reality.  But He sneaks up on us in the beauty of a flower or the complexity of our eyes as we look at the wonder of our children.  He is there.  We cannot hide.  Remember Jonah?!

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 3, 2008.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby.

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

Complete In Christ

Have you ever aced a test?  When you got it back with a big 100 written at the top of the first page, it felt so good.  When I was little I used to think that meant I knew it all and didn’t need to learn anything else about that subject.  I was so naïve.  All it meant was I knew everything the teacher asked.  I thought of this while reading Colossians 2.  Verse 10 says, “We are complete in Christ.”  Complete.  That’s a big 100.  That means every character defect and every flaw has been corrected and every excellence developed.

How can this be?  I still make mistakes, lots of them.  I am a natural born sinner with selfish traits I have yet to discover.  Yet I am complete in Christ.  Paul, the self-proclaimed Pharisee of Pharisees, the law keeper of law keepers, through much pain and effort to be complete, finally discovered that no matter how hard he tried, there is only one way to completeness.  It is “in Christ.”

Being “in Christ” does not mean we cease to be human.  But we do cease to be only human.  In II Peter 1 we are told we actually participate in the divine nature of Christ.  This does not mean will stop making mistakes and sinning. We are saved.  We are complete in Christ and under the cover of His love, grace and continued forgiveness we grow.   The walk is not about never tripping and falling.  The walk is about the goal, the direction, the progress and getting up.  All the while we journey with Him we are complete. Awesome.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 31, 2008.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai.

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

Citizenship Not Membership

Surely the first and most important thing a parent must teach their child is obedience.  Obedience saves lives.  Obedience keeps children safe from harm. While doing so one of the most important lessons a parent needs to learn is to make only necessary rules and as the child grows and so should the rules decrease.  This is the way God treats us.  The commandments are only there to keep us from harm and the more we mature in understanding the less we need to be reminded of them.  We grow from living by rules to living by principles.   And the more mature we become in that mode, living by principles becomes second nature.

God’s entire design for us is to do no harm and to receive no harm.  Living in His kingdom is just that simple. There are no secret handshakes.  There are no code words.   As we open ourselves to the indwelling Spirit, we grow.  We cannot help it anymore than a plant could not grow in fertile soil with ample water.

There is no special club to join.  God does not call us to membership.  He calls us to citizenship.  The difference is huge.  Membership is all about belonging to a special privileged group.  Citizenship calls us to responsibility and service toward everyone.   Just as my town is populated by a multitude of diversity so God’s kingdom is populated by a vast array of humanity.  Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 25, 2008

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



Can You Hear Me Now?

I have some dear friends from California trying to find my house.  The problem is cell phone service. They are within 10 miles but we cannot keep contact so I can guide them here.  We keep losing our connection.  We talk for about 10 seconds in spurts and then they are gone.  How happy I am that our connection with God doesn’t depend on some electronic device.  We never have to start our prayers with “Can you hear me now?”

The psalmist wrote, “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.”  It is true God is everywhere.  He is even in us.  One of Christ’s great themes was God’s desire to dwell in. We are the sanctuary where God loves to dwell. That certainly creates all kinds of thoughts about our thoughts, what we read and what we watch.

My friend just called again.  He stopped and used a landline.  Now that we have a good connection we know where to meet.  Good connections are important between people and good connections with God are most important.  The truth is we always have a good connection, but often we become such strangers to God we barely hear or understand that still small voice that is giving us directions.  He gives the best directions.  His directions fail not to take us to His throne room.   Now that is totally awesome.  There we will find the source of all things good.  There we will find the peace and wholeness we have been searching for all our lives.   All my friend will find tonight is pizza and I hope good company.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 20, 2008

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

Before We Ask

In the Education/Psychology department where my wife and I both teach, on a fairly regular basis we select one or two members of our college staff to honor for their faithful service.  As faculty we are very aware we could not do our job if there were not a host of unseen workers taking care of the physical plant, the technology needs and other necessary things.  To honor them we invite them to our department and feed them.  The menu is planned and each of us is assigned one of the ingredients.  Being the most challenged of our team I am usually assigned something fairly simple like bringing the salad dressing.  Today was an honor day.  At breakfast this morning my wife said to me, “You do remember this is your day to bring salad dressing.”  Obviously I got a strange panicked look and she knew what was coming next because she said, “I already have it in the basket.”  Phew!!   She knows me.

Several years ago I heard a sermon entitled, “Before We Ask He Hears.”  It was one of the best sermons I ever heard.  (I sat there wishing I had preached it.  Preachers are that way.  They want to be the one that preaches all the good stuff.)  One night in Africa thieves stole the wheels off our car.  We were devastated because we could not afford to replace them.  The very next day we got a check in the mail (mailed over two weeks before) for the exact amount of money needed to replace the loss.  Don’t ever try to tell me He doesn’t know and provide what we need before we even need or ask.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 10, 2008

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

And God Said, “Now I Can Help.”

Term papers are due in my classes.  Oh you should hear all the excuses  .”It’s all done. I just need to dress it up for you so it looks nice.”  And on and on they go.   I just shake my head and say, “Okay, slide it under mydoor before you go home for the holiday.”  I have a colleague who tells me I am enabling slothful habits that will not serve my students well in the real world of work.  He is probably right. To be truthful I do it more for me than for them.  It isn’t worth the hassle to hear the pathetic lies.  For once I want to hear a student say, “Hey, I was neglectful and lazy. Can you give me a break?”

I wonder how often we lie to God?  We make up all kinds of reasons for our sins when the truth is we do them because it is fun or easy.  If it is hard for a student to get away with a lie to a teacher, just think how stupid it is to try to lie to God.  I once had a teacher who told me I had to begin my prayers by praising God.  But what if I don’t feel like praising Him?  What if I am genuinely angry at Him for some earthly horror?  I have come to believe God is hungry for honesty.  I believe He is more put off by false expressions of devotion to Him than by our venting our genuine frustrations. I doubt if He can really help us until we come clean.  If we are angry with Him, just tell Him so.  He will not strike us dead with a lightening bolt. He will most likely say, “Finally an honest soul.  Now I can help.”


Written by Roger Bothwell on December 10, 2008

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