My Dirty Windshield

I thought my windshield was clean.  There were no squashed bugs or bird droppings on it but when a low sun came blaring in I was blind.   An almost invisible film on the inside flared light all over the place.  I was afraid to put on my brakes lest the car behind me had the same experience and would not see my brake lights.  Fortunately the road was curving and a second later the angle of the sun changed and I was all right again.

In I Corinthians 13 Paul tells us we see through a glass darkly.   We think we understand.  We think we see.  We think there isn’t anything getting in our way.  But we are so limited we don’t know we are limited.  I have students who think they know but they don’t.  Their background and experience is so limited they don’t know what they don’t know.  Thus they think they know.  I thought I could see through that windshield.  I didn’t know the almost invisible film was there.

In Mark 9 a frantic father most anxious for his son’s well-being said to Jesus, “Help my unbelief.”   My prayer needs to be, “Help, my ignorance.” There is so much I don’t see.  I have no understanding of the Trinity.  I don’t understand what resurrection morning means after our bodies have totally decayed.  I don’t understand how one man’s righteousness can wipe away the horror of our sins.  I do not begin to grasp the immensity of God’s universe and His care for us.  How can God be everywhere at once and yet be on His throne?  My list of “I don’t knows” can go on and on.

I am quite reduced to faith.  Faith is the evidence of things not seen.  I see very little.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 12, 2009

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


My Dad Is in the Mirror

I loved Sunday afternoons when I was a boy.  Sunday afternoons were my alone time with my dad.  We had a truck and a dog and we had favorite places in the mountains.  When the weather was bad we went to the movies.  I loved westerns.  Randolph Scott was one of my favorite cowboys.  But every once in a while my dad, for reasons I could not understand, took me to a musical.  I hated them.  I clearly remember going to see An American in Paris and could hardly wait for it to be over.  I was nine.  This afternoon about fifty-seven years later I sat down and once again watched An American in Paris.  Now I understand that my dad had good taste.  The music was great.

Isn’t it fascinating how we become like our parents as the years go by?  I go to the mirror and see my dad.  I see his hands sticking out the sleeves of my shirt.  He was a teacher and I have ended up being a teacher.  Now if I can just do the same thing with my heavenly Father.  I realize my current resemblance isn’t even close but He can fix that on resurrection morning.  It is more a matter of attitudes and desires that interest me.  In Isaiah 58:8 He tells us that our thoughts are not His.  Well, of course, He is God.  He knows everything.  He understands all the secrets of the universe.  He was here before there was a here.  However, we can take great joy in Peter’s promise in his second letter that we can begin, right now, participating in God’s nature.  It’s just a matter of time and time is something we will have in abundance.  Little by little we will become more and more like Him.  How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 2, 2009

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

Mist – Beautiful Mist

It was a “mystical” day in central Massachusetts.  Especially in the afternoon, dark gray clouds lay low and swirled across the mountains moving in and out of the heavily hued groves of oaks, birches and maples.  It made one turn on one’s windshield wipers at their slowest speed.  The mist played peek-a-boo with one  town’s church steeples.  Geraniums not yet bitten by frost gathered droplets of water prisming surroundings and begging to have their pictures taken.  Too warm for a coat and too cool for none, the day called for a sweater.  Somewhere on top of the clouds the sun shone brightly but you would never have known, living on the ground.  I love “worsted” days near Worcester, Mass.  It’s the right place to be.  It’s the right time to be. It’s the end of October in New England.

If Jesus had met Nicodemus tonight in our city park, surely He would have said, “You know well enough how the mist moves this way and that. You see it swirling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the mist of God, the Spirit of God.”   Today was a good day to be born again.  It was a day to thank God for the chance to start fresh.  In Colossians 2:13-14 Paul wrote, “Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s Cross.” *

Actually, everyday and any day is a good day for that.  But somehow today seemed like a better day.

*The Message by Eugene Peterson

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 28, 2009

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


Misspoken Truth

I misspoke this weekend while preaching.   I said, “The Bible says God loves each of us as much as He loves Jesus.”  Immediately my brain said to me, “Hey, there is no such verse.”  However, instead of stopping to correct myself I went on because in that instant of time my brain told me that while it is not actually so expressed in Scripture, recently I read it and I believe it.  I mentioned it to one of my friends and he instantly told me that I had read it in The Shack, a publication that will become a Christian classic.

I believe it is true because I am a father.  When Jesus told us to call God “Our Father” He changed everything in regards to our understanding of the true nature of God.   Actually we do not love our children equally because love cannot be measured.  However, we do love each of our children uniquely as each child is unique.  We don’t love one child more or less than the other.  We love each one differently than the other.   Each draws from us exactly what they need as we are willing to give all we have to each.  We would not die for one and not the other.  Each would receive the ultimate from us.  As we brought each into the world, we would give all to each to keep each as safe as possible in this world.

By giving us Jesus on the cross God by His actions has demonstrated that each of His children will receive all that is necessary, even at the sacrifice of the very One of which He says, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; . . .”  Hebrews 1

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 5, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Me – The Cookie Tester

I am in such trouble.  My wife just made cookies for a school event.  She used a new mix and didn’t want to take bad tasting cookies so I tested one.  It was wonderful.  No, it was beyond wonderful.  It was the most perfect cookie I have ever eaten.   I am in trouble because it is early evening and I have hours left before going to bed.  Here I sit at my computer knowing in the next room there is a box full of those amazing cookies and I cannot have any more.  I am salivating just thinking about it.  I need to wipe off my keyboard.  What am I to do?  I would have been so better off had I not had one.

I feel like Eve in the Garden with the forbidden tree.  Of course what happened to her was worse.  As her curiosity brought her close to the tree there was this amazing talking creature that enticed her with promises of enhanced intelligence.  If he a dumb creature could talk as a result of eating from the tree what would it do for her who already could talk? It would make her like God.   What is so sad about this is God really did want her to be like Him, just not this way.  God has spent the following thousands of years doing His best to transform us into His likeness.  See IIPeter 1. He even paid the ultimate price on the cross to make that happen.  Via His indwelling Spirit we can grow more and more like Him each day.  It is God’s goal for each of us.

In the meantime I know what I will do.  I will get a drink and wash the flavor out of my mouth.  That will help.  Ah, but there is still the smell permeating the entire house.  I need to take the dog for a walk.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 11, 2009

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

Lost No More

When I could not find my cell phone last Friday evening I wasn’t concerned. It was obvious that I left it at the college.  It was not until I got to school Monday morning that I discovered it really was lost.  It wasn’t there. Most likely you have also had that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when something is lost.  Keys, wallets and phones have a way of attaching themselves to us. Upon coming home in the evening we turned up all the lights as bright as possible and there it was.  It had been sitting at eye level on top of the china closet all weekend.  How could I count the number of times I walked right by it with it just inches from my nose? It wasn’t until the lights were up that it became evident.

It is no wonder Jesus called Himself the Light of the World.  We are the lost and we wander around in a philosophical wilderness searching for meaning, wanting our lives to count, seeking peace in a very troubled world, and what we are looking for is right there all the time.  If my phone was animated and could speak by itself it would have called out to me each time I passed by, “Hey, I’m right here.”

Jesus is the light.  He can shine on us and fill us with meaning and joy. He gives us purpose.   He chases away the darkness of our secular society and says, “Before you were born I knew you.” “I have something special only you can do.  Trust me and I will take you to it and give you the wisdom and strength to make your life count.”   Ah, with Jesus we are lost no more.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 10, 2009

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


“Lo, I Am with You Always”

About 15 years ago I was riding to a cemetery in a hearse with the undertaker.  As we waited for a traffic light to change I suddenly realized the light was green and we were not moving.  Looking over at the undertaker, who was supposedly driving, I discovered he was dead.  What made it even more bizarre and sad was the EMT who responded to the 911 call was his son. I remembered this today when I heard that this week in South Carolina a first-time skydiver noted his instructor, to which he was connected and falling from 13,500 feet, had died. Obviously he was in a much more precarious situation than mine had been.

I could spend time here talking about being ready to meet the Lord because we don’t know when we will check out.  Perhaps I should say “check in” since the next thing we will know is a face to face meeting with Him.  But I think I would rather speak of the assurance we have that the ultimate One in charge of our lives, if we have given our lives to Jesus, will always be there and we need have no fear of being on our own.  He promised, “Lo, I am with you always.”

I have always liked that promise.  When I was little I was told when I did something I knew was bad that Jesus and my guardian angel left me to be on my own.   That really bothered me because that meant when I needed them the most they would not be there for me.  As a father I could never imagine not responding to my sons’ needs even when or if they had just disappointed me.  I just can’t

He promised, “Lo, I am with you always.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 2, 2009

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

Lifetime Limited Warranty

The packaging carried all the usual fine print that comes with most all new items we purchase. Near the bottom of the list there was one thing that caught my attention.  It said-lifetime limited warranty.  I read it twice to make sure I had seen it correctly.  Yes, it was saying that the “lifetime warranty” was limited, so in reality it wasn’t a lifetime warranty.  Or maybe it just means the warranty is for the lifetime of the product and when something happens to it and it no longer works its lifetime is over; that is most likely the case.

When God created Adam and Eve they had a really truly lifetime warranty!  They were made to live forever and had they not eaten of the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world all the future inhabitants of this world would have had the same lifetime warranty.  Nothing bad would ever happen to us.  No sickness, accidents, aging, disease, or death-we would live in perfect health forever! But because of sin we now have a limited lifetime warranty.  We are subject to all the ravages of thousands of years of sin.  The effect is devastating any way you look at it.

But lest we think it’s hopeless there is good news.  John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  Please notice, it doesn’t say “life for a long time” or “life for thousands of years.”   No, it says “eternal life”. There is no limited warranty for those who believe.  How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 22, 2009

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


Letters of Reference

I received a call today from a friend asking if he could submit my name for a reference.   He is hoping for a new position.  Giving references is a strange custom.  No one in their right mind would submit the name of someone they thought would tell all their sins.  We only ask people we believe will make us sound good.  While I have never lied while giving a reference I certainly have never told the whole truth just as I would not want my friends to tell the whole truth about me.

All this got me to thinking about asking God for a reference.   That would be frightening because He really does know the whole truth.  It reminds me of the Santa Claus is Coming to Town song.  “He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake.  He knows if you’ve been bad or good.  So be good for goodness sake.”   Have you ever noted the incongruity of those lyrics?   We are supposed to be good because Santa’s watching.   However, we should be good for goodness sake.  The truth is we should always be good for goodness sake.   We should always do the right thing because it is the right thing and not because someone is watching.  It is God’s goal for all His children that we should do right even if the heavens fell.

The more I think about it the more I like having God as a reference.  He not only forgives.   He forgets.  He chooses not to remember our sins and as a good Father (Jesus told us to call him Father) He will make us look good.  He will not lie for us but He knows the two or three times in our lives when we actually did something good and He will talk about that.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 17, 2009

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

Letters from Friends

We received a letter today from friends who just drove from California to Alaska.  Their letter was filled with tales of wild animals.  They saw moose, caribou, stone sheep, bison, porcupines, eagles and a lynx.  They had a grand time and reading about it was almost as good as being there.  Please note I said, “almost.” Nothing beats reality.  I like getting letters. Maybe that is why I enjoy reading Paul’s writings.  They are letters written to his friends.  Often he begins with greetings and he usually finishes with, “Be sure to tell…I said, ‘Hi.’”   See the last chapter of Romans.  He sent quite a list of greetings.

One of his letters is even filled with tales of daring do.  Please see II Corinthians 11.   His list of exploits is most adventurous and downright frightening.  He wrote, “. . . five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. . .”

It is rare that one reads such adventures happening to an intellectual, but that is what Paul was.   He grasped the complexities of the Jewish law and culture.  He understood the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and best of all he knew Jesus.   I rejoice in having letters from such an amazing man.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 26, 2009

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