Do you ever feel like grousing?  Every once in a while it feels good to complain about something.  Pollyanna can stay in the next room while we just vent. We don’t want anyone saying, “Now, now.”  Well, I am in one of those moods.  I looked at my Comcast cable bill.  There are 11 different charges, fees and taxes.  The one that really gripes me is the twenty-five cent monthly charge for the remote control.  Really now!  Maybe I ought to send them a rent bill for the space their remote takes up in my house. There now I have vented.

Now I want to say something nice about an organization that is usually the target for venters.   I want to commend the United States Post Office for forwarding to me a letter addressed to where we used to live.  It has been fifteen years since we lived at that old address.  Hooray for the Post Office.

Probably every day brings us something to “Hooray” about.  It’s just easier and seems more natural to focus on what didn’t go well.  We notice the one or two cars that pull out in front of us and don’t think about the two or three hundred cars that did not.  We complain about the traffic delays around road repair crews, but we also complain about the potholes.  Really we can’t have it both ways.  Life pretty much is what we choose it to be.  I used to think God was unfair for making us all suffer because of Adam and Eve.  But Paul reminds us that God is fair.  He proclaims us righteous by the death and righteousness of Jesus.  You can’t complain about that.   See Romans 5.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 11, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

God’s Word Makes Us Smarter

After years of doing Sudoku puzzles I have finally, finally advanced to the level past “hard” to “evil.”   Now I realize that most of you are thinking, “Duh, why did it take you so long?  I did it in a week or a month at the most.”  All I can say is I am a slow learner.  I get comfortable at certain levels of understanding and thus grow stagnant.  The word “stagnant” has connotations of looking gross and smelling horrible.  But for me “stagnant” means being comfortable and not having to push my brain.  Recently though, I have noted a slowing of cognition and decided it is time to start pushing it. I am fighting back the mental ravages of time.  If I have to spend my last years in a nursing home, I want to be surrounded by books, computers and Wii games.

Memorization is an excellent tool.  When we were little we learned memory verses.  Then for most of us as we entered our teens it wasn’t cool, hip or fashionable to memorize poems and verses.  That was a tragic shame.  When I drive around New England Robert Frost’s poems come to mind.  It is wonderful to think, “Hush October morning mild.  Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; . . . Begin the hours of this day slow.”   I want to thank my high school English teacher for making me learn those words. I wish I had stored so much more when my brain was more facile.

Psalms 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in my heart.”  In a way the proliferation of books has made us lazy.  Why memorize when I can read it? Google is making my students mentally lazy.  Why learn it when I can “Google” it?  The answer is plain and simple.  Learning it makes us smarter!

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 19, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

God’s Thumb

One of life’s joys is eating with good friends.   This evening we experienced such a joy.  It was at an Italian restaurant and I was puzzled that I could not see any lasagna listed on the menu.  Carefully I read the menu three times and finally gave up and asked the girl who waited upon us.  You can imagine my chagrin when she said, “It’s under your thumb.”  Duh!!

Sometimes I hear new college students tell me the thing they like best about college is they are out from under their parent’s thumb.  They feel like they are adults and free to control their own lives.  I know I can remember the euphoria of those first few weeks at college.  It was great.  But of course I soon learned I was still under the thumb of my professors and the dorm dean.  After I bought my first home I realized I was under the thumb of the mortgage, the insurance, the lawn, the electric company and the fuel oil guys.  Is it possible to have any existence without being responsible to someone?  Probably not.

I am even under God’s thumb.  I know some people find that oppressive.  But that is only because they don’t understand God’s true nature.  I like being under His thumb. He provides us counsel and ways to avoid a host of oppressive problems.  If I take His counsel not to tell bad stories about others the fruit of gossiping does not come back to haunt me.  If I don’t murder others I most likely will not spend my final days on death row in a state institution.  Wow.  Talk about being under someone’s thumb!   I think the issue here is since we have to be under someone’s thumb, God’s thumb is the best.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 18, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

God’s Reputation Improves

One of the side effects of scientific discovery is God’s reputation continues to improve.  Throughout the ages, much to Lucifer’s delight, God got blamed for every bad thing that happened.  He was blamed for plagues.  He was blamed for earthquakes and tornadoes.  These days we know that plagues and flu epidemics are caused by germs.  We can even trace them back to a pig sty in China.  Satellites now show us weather fronts colliding over the Midwest causing tornadoes as cold air collides with warm air.

Now if we can just stop blaming Him for personal tragedies.   We develop cancer for a multitude of reasons, many of which researchers are just now discovering.   Accidents happen because people drink and drive or text and drive.   Accidents occur because birds are sucked into airplane engines. Reputations are ruined either by stupidity or maliciousness.  The sum of all this is God is not at fault.

Ancient peoples used to commit atrocities on other nations and justify it by saying God was on their side or worse God told them to do it.  One of the reasons Jesus came to earth was to reveal to us the true character of His Father.  He said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”   If you can imagine Jesus ordering a tornado to destroy homes and families then you really need to read or reread the Gospel of John.    Jesus is a physical manifestation of God’s reality.  He is Emmanuel.  He is God with us.  He and the Father are one.  There is no dichotomy of personality or purpose. Each wants the same for you and me.  How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 29, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


God’s No Return Policy

Last week after breaking my camera I replaced it with a good brand name camera.  I wanted to take great pictures on my fishing expedition.  Alas, good names can be deceiving.  The pictures were not as good as those my old camera took.  So today I returned it.  The return lady asked if it was broken.  “No,” I said, “I was disappointed with the quality.”  She nodded and returned my money.

As I walked away I wondered if God was disappointed with the quality of Adam and Eve.  Most likely not at first. They were perfect, but after the fall I wonder if He wanted to return them.  But to whom would He return them?  He was the manufacturer.  He couldn’t return them to Himself.  He already had them.  He could have given them away.  He could have said to Lucifer, “Well, now they are yours.”  But love would not allow that.  Immediately He put in motion a plan to improve them.  He would restore them to prime condition.  It was called the plan of salvation.  It was a very expensive fix.  It required from Him the ultimate price.

As I think about this you are very fortunate I was not God.  I would have trashed them and started over.  Then again love makes us do extreme things. God’s plan was so extreme surely Lucifer laughed and was sure it would never work.  That is why the Garden of Gethsemane and Calvary were so horrendous. Lucifer was sure if he only made it bad enough Jesus would give up on us. How wrong he was.  Love makes us do extreme things.  The cross is as extreme as any plan could get.   There was, is and never will be anything more horrific.

God has a no-return policy!


Written by Roger Bothwell on June 12, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


God into Man’s Image

It was not long after God made man in His image that man started to make God into his image.  Little by little the true character of the Creator God took on the fickleness, selfishness, and meanness of those who assembled to worship.  Our proclivity to feed our lower natures became part of the worship experience.  When people wanted anothers’ lands it was convenient that God told them to take it.  Others had no right to property or life because they were heretics or pagan.   Men called themselves priests and claimed only they had access to God.  If you wanted something you had to go through them and of course at a price.  Human sacrifice to appease angry gods satisfied the sadistic hand that reached into a chest to rip out a still beating heart.

Lest we think of ourselves as being modern and past all that, consider that the past century was the bloodiest in history.  We are off to a good start in this century.  It seems where two or three are gathered one will soon become a heretic.  He or she will no longer be God’s favored.  I could speak of Belgrade, Bombay, Baghdad, and Beirut as prime examples of current religious unrest. Ethnic cleansing most always has religion embedded in its core.  It is no wonder so many give up on religion proclaiming it to be the poison that will ultimately destroy the world.

While it is true Jesus came to the world to pay the price for our selfish stupidity, it is also true He came to give us a glimpse into the true character of the Father.  If we want to know the truth about God read the Gospel of John, the finest picture ever written.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 30, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


God Enjoys Our Company

For most of us, the older we get the more acquaintances we acquire. However, the reverse seems true for those we would consider to be real friends.  Really old people tend to have small funerals while teenagers usually have huge funerals.  It becomes easier and easier to withdraw from social occasions and to sequester one’s self to a very small environment. One of the reasons is it physically hurts to get in the car and go somewhere. We would rather people come to us instead of our going to them. Those our age think the same way so neither goes to see the other.

However, the truth of Genesis 2:18 is still true no matter how old we grow. It is not good to be alone.  God created us to be social.  Telling others our thoughts and listening to other’s thoughts is therapeutic.  Sharing stories of our blessings and aches and pains relieves stress.  When we realize our problems are not unique to us we find occasions to reach out to be a balm to others who are hurting more than we are hurting.

The happiest people are those who continue to find or create ways to be of service.  Participating in church, in a civic club, being a volunteer at the local library, hospital or senior center literally adds years to one’s life. The only people who should retire are those who hate their jobs or have physical or cognitive problems coping with the tasks needing attention.  We need to be needed.

When I read descriptions of heaven and God’s throne in Revelation it sounds like a very busy place.  God has surrounded Himself with intelligent creatures.  He enjoys their company.  Believe it or not He enjoys our company.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 14, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St.Helena, CA 94574


Future Changers

Recently one of my students said to me, “We can’t change the future.  What will be will be.”  Excuse me but nothing could be more wrong.  He could change his future by dropping out of college.  That will almost certainly change his income for the rest of his life.  It will change his career and most likely the person he will marry which will change who he will have for children.  Or he could buckle down and get a 4.0 GPA and get a scholarship to med school.  That would change his future and the future of thousands of his future patients.

I had a friend who asked three girls to marry him and he would marry the first one that got back to him with a “Yes.”   So much for romance!

Each of us is a Future Changer.  We change the future by our diets.  We change the future by how much or how little exercise we get.  We change the future by either stopping or driving by the Dairy Queen.  Each decision we make alters our path which alters where we end up.  Speaking of ending up, how about making that ultimate decision to make Jesus the Lord of our lives? Talk about making an important future changing decision.  That is the big one.

One of God’s gifts to each of us is free will.  We are not robots.  We are not on a predetermined path.  Freedom to think, freedom to do, freedom to choose is what life is all about.  The challenge is making wise decisions, which is not always so very easy.  If you sometime feel the need for help, claim the promise in James 1:5.  Ask for wisdom and Jesus promises to help.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 30, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St.Helena, CA 94574


Friends Are So Important

Long ago in a far away place I was the pastor of a very warm and friendly church.  So you can imagine my uneasy reaction when a couple complained to me about the church being cold and uncaring.  I didn’t know how to respond.  I thought perhaps my view of the church was skewed because people are usually nice to the pastor.  However, maybe they weren’t nice to each other.  So I started paying better attention and what I soon discovered was the complaining couple usually arrived for the worship service after the opening hymn and they would leave just after the sermon during the closing hymn.  It was an “Aha” moment.

The last verse of Proverbs 18 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” I never had a brother, but I did have two older sisters.  So I watched with great interest the interaction between my two sons.  I soon realized if someone was going to deal with one they had to deal with both.  God has been so good in giving us animals.  Many of us have deep bonds with our pets.  They love us.  They keep us company.  They wait for us at the door.  They don’t complain.  Often all they need is to be near us.  I have an old lab that will with great effort get up and move just a few feet closer if I move to another chair.

I’m most impressed with this verse in Proverbs that says we have a friend even closer than that.  My students would say, “Awesome.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 22, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

Four Pennies

While getting out of my car today at Taco Bell I spotted four copper pennies amidst the ice and slush that covered the parking lot.   When I was a boy I would have been thrilled to no end over such good fortune.  Four pennies would have warranted a trip to the corner grocery store where I could select four wonders from the glass case by the door.  I could get a pair of big red wax lips, a piece of Double Bubble, a large yellowish-orangish marshmallow peanut and a Tootsie roll.  If I saved them until I had six more pennies I could get a Superman Comic Book.   Can you believe it?  Sixty years have passed and I didn’t bother to stoop to pick them up.  Shame on me.  But then I’m not sure what I could get with four cents.

I am so glad God doesn’t devalue us.  He could think, “I have billions of people on earth.  It doesn’t matter if I lose four.”   Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”   I love to change one of the words to “guttermost.”  It really works.  It says so much.  No matter how worthless we might think we are, each of us is a treasure to God.  Each of us is the reason for Jesus’ sacrifice.  When it comes to people there is no bypassing even one.

One of my favorite stories is found in Matthew 9.  A woman who had been crushed to the ground by the crowd touched his robe.  Instantly he stopped and went back to her.  She made His day.  Actually she made His whole mission.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 9, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574