Paul – The Psych Teacher

As a psychology teacher I am often filled with wonder at the psychological wisdom of Paul.  Paul begins most of his letters with theological issues and finishes them with practical advice on how to live a successful life here on earth.  He was not so heavenly minded that he forgot the importance of good human relationships. Romans 12 is particularly good.

  1. “Offer yourself as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God.” In other words eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and fresh air, etc.
  2. “Don’t conform to the world without thinking about it.”
  3. “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought.”
  4. “Love sincerely, don’t fake it.”
  5. “Hate what is evil.”
  6. “Honor others above yourself.”
  7. “Don’t lack in zeal.”  (Don’t get tired of doing good.)
  8. “Be persistent in prayer.”
  9. “Bless those who persecute you.”
  10. “Don’t curse.”
  11. “Associate with people of low position.”
  12. “Don’t repay anyone evil for evil.”  (Shock them with kindness.)


That’s only a dozen.  I could add another dozen just from that chapter.  All of the above are a recipe for a good life.  I am going to estimate that 80% of our problems would go away if we lived by the above counsel.  Paul must have received these from the Lord because he was not a wonder of human relations.  He got himself stoned, thrown into prison, secreted out of a city at night, laughed at in Athens and finally was executed. He fought with Peter and John Mark. Paul really was a do as I say and not as I do kind of person because he said in verse 16, “Live in harmony with everyone.”

I just love these guys.  They were real.  They were not plastic saints.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 10, 2009

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




Pancakes and Diners

On Sundays my wife and I along with two friends go dinering.  Each week we go for breakfast to a different diner in our area.  It is great fun.  This past week we went to one of those old narrow steel buildings with old style jukebox players on the booth table.   I don’t think any of the musical offerings was newer than 1965.  Two plays for a quarter.  I think they were cheaper in the 50’s and 60’s. When the waitress came to take our order my friend’s wife asked her, “How large are the pancakes?”   The waitress’s response was wonderful.  She said, “It all depends how much room is on the grill.”

My friend looked at me and said, “There’s your devotional.  God’s love for us is as large as the space on His grill, which happens to be the universe.” My brain instantly hit on Ephesians 3, we “may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Most likely every young couple tries to tell their lover that their love is bigger than the other person’s.

“I love you a ton.”

“No, I love you ten tons.”

“Well, I love you a zillion tons.”

After you run out of numbers God’s love still wins.   He proved it on Calvary.  None of us can beat nor match that.   When God gave us Jesus He made Himself poor because He gave us the best He had. It all depends on how much room is on the grill!  Just imagine.

Oh, by the way.  The eggs over easy were perfect.


Written by Roger Bothwell on October 20, 2009

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



Our Voices

Most of us are disappointed the first time we hear a recording of our voice. We thought our voice was deeper, more impressive and dignified.  The playback allows us to hear what other people hear when they listen to us. The reason for the discrepancy are the bones in our head.  They pick up vibrations from our vocal cords and add to what comes out our mouth and back into our ears.  Those bone vibrations add a richness other people don’t hear.  Don’t you envy people with incredible voices?  I used to have a friend who had a magnificent voice and when he spoke in public a rich English accent added to the mesmerizing effect.  We used to laugh together in private because the English accent disappeared when it was just the two of us.

When God spoke to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai the people heard thunder.  I don’t think our ear drums are equipped to handle that kind of voice.  Several times in the Bible God sent angels to deliver messages.  We must be better equipped for angel voices.  The big problem with angels is they are scary. Please note most of the time angels would begin by saying, “Don’t be afraid.”   Most of the time God whispers to us in a still small voice.  We can handle that.

Romans 1:20 is a fascinating verse.  Paul believed God speaks to us via his handiwork.  By the things He made we can learn about His invisible characteristics. And Hebrews 1 says in times past God spoke to us by many different ways but now He speaks to us through the life of Jesus.   If we want to know what God is like and want to hear Him we should study the Gospels.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 25, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry St. Helena, CA 94574


Our Very Different Fathers

Most of my friends who have been adopted wish, upon adulthood, to find their biological parents.  There is something that completes us when we find our roots.  I know a man who wishes he had been adopted.  His biological roots, his parents, did not provide much of a childhood.  He wished he had had better.  Our relationships with our parents can be very complicated.  They start off being our gods and end up being our children.  It is a mystical journey.

It must have been the product of much thought when God decided to represent Himself to us as our Father.   He knew that came loaded with horrendous stacks of baggage.  Your father and my father were very different.  To tell us to call Him Father meant each of us would have a unique experience with Him.  Basically speaking, your God and my God are different even though we think He is the same.  When I am puzzled by people’s reactions to a sermon, I have to remind myself everyone who listened arrived at church via a very different road.

In Romans and Galatians Paul speaks of our being adopted by God into His family.  I wish I could speak with Paul about the reverse side of that coin. When we respond to God’s call it is us who are adopting Him.  We are adults. We see this all powerful needy God desperately wanting to be part of our  family.   He wants to be included in our lives.  He wants to attend our birthdays and go for walks with us.  He is hurt when we fail to recognize His need.   Am I overly anthropomorphizing the God who is a spirit? Probably so, but who’s to say?

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 3, 2009

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



Our Kryptonite

I’m not sure why but for some inane reason I was thinking about Superman on my way to school this morning.  Just imagine having to wear black-rimmed glasses all the time so people wouldn’t recognize you.  Then there is that Kryptonite thing.  Realizing that bad guys like Lex Luthor were out there with a substance that could destroy him must have been a nightmare.  We too have an enemy stalking us.   Peter uses a lion as a metaphor to describe our enemy.  That could be frightening. Our enemy has been around since the inception of our world and he has special Kryptonite for each of us.  It isn’t the same for everyone since each of us has our own unique weakness.

In my psychology classes we study various kinds of existent personalities. While each of us is unique it is also true that each of us can be compartmentalized into some very specific groupings.   Our enemy is a master psychologist and knows which kind of Kryptonite he needs for our downfall. It could be love of money, pride, some kind of obsession or jealousy. Every one of us is vulnerable.

Now I don’t want to paint a bleak picture because there is great news.  We have someone on our side who is so very much more powerful than our enemy and his Kryptonite.  Paul wrote in Romans 8, “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 31, 2009

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

Our Calling

When we talk about our calling most of us respond with the name of a career or a profession.  At our college we talk to our students about their calling to be a teacher, a nurse, a businessman, a pastor, a tradesmen or a service provider.  Happy are the persons who knows their calling.  They can get on with life and pursue excellence in their field.  Sometimes I see frustrated students nearing graduation and still not know their calling.  Often we guide them on to graduate school hoping they can use that as a stepping stone to fulfillment.  According to I Peter 3 there is a common calling for all of us.  This day, this very moment, God is calling each of us to be a blessing.

This supersedes all other callings.  This is the icing on the cake for whatever profession, job or career that fills our lives.  No matter how rotten we feel when we get up we still have a calling.  We are to find someone that day whose burden we can lighten by providing something physical or emotional.  Peter wrote, “All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this!”

He goes on to tell us we also will receive a blessing.  It is true.  The best way to get ourselves out of the dumps is to do something nice for another.  It is very difficult to stay in a bad mood when we see another person light up because of something we did for them.  It’s contagious.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 21, 2009

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

Our Bright and Beautiful Nursery

Our yard is one vast nursery.   We have a cardinal nest, a robin nest, a chickadee nest, a catbird nest and a phoebe nest. There is a squirrel nest, a chipmunk nest and a rabbit nest.  I’m sure there are more but those are the ones I know for sure.  How grand it must have been on days five and six of creation week.  Moses wrote, “So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’”   What great joy it must have been for God to design such wonders.

The variety and extravagant use of color on the birds gives us a glimpse into the artistic mind of God.   I have a friend who is a” bugologist.”  He tells me there are thousands of kinds of bugs still to be discovered and named.  I asked him if he could name a bug after me.  “Sure,” he said. “We’ll find a really nasty looking fellow just for you.”  That shouldn’t be difficult because we all have seen some really ugly bugs, which makes me wonder about God’s sense of humor especially since Genesis 1 closes with “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I am sure those ugly male bugs find the ugly female counterpart to be stunningly beautiful.

Cecil Alexander said it so well when he wrote, “All things bright and beautiful.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 13, 2009

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

Our Best Interest

I listened to a radio preacher today tell his listeners, “Sin is sin because God said so.”   I kept waiting for him to answer the question, “Why did Godsay so?”   He never did.  I was reminded of a small child asking his parent why he had to do something and receiving the very unsatisfactory answer, “Because I said so.”  Parents usually have good reasons for their requests but sometimes don’t have the time and energy to get the small child to understand.  God is not like that.   He has a reason for every single command and He wants us to explore with Him the reason why.  God is honored when we question Him.  It gives Him an opportunity to display His good sense and love for us.

There is not a single commandment that does not benefit us to obey.  God is not some twisted psychopath who plays with us.  He does not give us rules just to see if we will comply.  He gives direction because in His infinite wisdom He knows what is best for us.  Don’t be content with a “Because I told you so” answer.   As adults we deserve to know the reason and our heavenly Father is delighted to comply.  He knows once we understand we will appreciate and love Him ever so much more because He always has our best interest at heart.

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 13, 2009

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

One Fabulous Wardrobe

Some of my undergrads asked me if I have any clothes other than blue shirts and khaki pants.  And if I do, why don’t I wear them?  Well, I don’t.  I have no problem getting dressed in the morning.  I don’t stand there and say, “Humm, shall I wear this blue shirt or that blue shirt.”  I grab the one that’s closest.  It is kind of boring, but it works.

This morning I read Colossians 3 and came across a marvelous verse.  Paul wrote, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Please note this is not getting up in the morning and deciding which of these we will wear today. We don’t say, “On Monday I will wear compassion, on Tuesday kindness, on Wednesday humility.”  Oh no.  Every day we wear them all.  Every day we are gentle and patient. What is amazing about this wardrobe is it never gets boring.  Undergrads are not going to ask if I have any other clothes.  Compassion and kindness always work.  They never go out of style.  Humility and gentleness never get threadbare.  Patience never loses its buttons.  This is one great wardrobe.

Paul even adds some more to it.  He wrote, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love.”  Well there it is, the all purpose coat that covers the rest of the wardrobe.  It’s love.  Love is stylish and expensive. When it is worn we look marvelous.  I have never ever in all my decades seen someone who loves not look like a million dollars.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 16, 2009

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

On The Shoulders of Giants

I enjoy watching new buildings getting higher and higher.  It isn’t long before the building is higher than the highest crane.  However that is no problem.  The workmen put together a new crane on top of what has already been built and so the building goes higher and higher.  It is the same with building information. Children know lots more about science than their parents.  It isn’t because the children are smarter.  It is because they are building on top of what was discovered by those who have gone before.  We build on the shoulders of giants thus rising higher and higher.

It is the same with our knowledge of God.  Moses and David would have loved to have known as much about God as we know.  It isn’t that we are smarter. It is because we have Matthew and John and Paul.  Those great men stood on the shoulders of the prophets of old and gave us an ever growing clearer picture of God.  We stand on the shoulders of Paul and see even more.  It isn’t that we are smarter than they.  It isn’t because God loves us more than them. We start from a different position.  This is the way it is supposed to be. Proverbs 4:18 says, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day.”   The God of the Old Testament is the same God as in the New Testament.  However the writers of the New had the advantage of seeing Jesus, who said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” In the Old Testament God got blamed for a lot of bad stuff that He didn’t do.  One of Jesus’ tasks was to show us the truth about His Father, our Father.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 17, 2009

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