The Art of Being

“To be or not to be” is, apart from Scripture, one of the most known literary quotes of all time.  While Ophelia watches Hamlet ponders existence.  Surely all of us have considered “being.”  We don’t remember being born because we were not there.   Very rapidly as the months elapsed that baby assimilated quadrillions of stimuli, merged them with inherited endowments and a self emerged.  We call that self “me” or “I.”  Being has begun with all its positive and negative characteristics.  The challenge that follows is to make the best “me” possible.  We begin to practice the “fine art of being.”  It is an art to be a quality person.

Quality does not happen by accident.  Quality is honed and perfected. Quality is the state of eliminating as much of the negative as possible.  The fine art of being is an awareness of our inner motives. It is the honesty to recognize I do not like someone because they are more talented than I, they are better looking than I, they are more charismatic than I, they are more popular than I.  It is a thankfulness for the gifts of another without wanting to usurp them.  It ultimately is the ability to stand before God recognizing that any hope I might have for eternity is to know eternity is a gift and nothing I have earned.  This places me on even ground with all around me and there is a knowledge that I am no better than another, regardless of my education, my wealth, my religion, my race or my anything.

The fine art of being is the ability to enhance the being of others about us. We are here to serve.  We are here to make each other better beings.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 29, 2009

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


The 82nd National Spelling Bee

If you knew how to spell “Laodicean” you could be 40,000 dollars richer.   I know most of you are smiling because most of my friends have known this word since we were small.  Week after week preachers have been chastising us for being Laodicean.   “Laodicean” was the final championship word in the 82nd National Spelling Bee.  The problem with winning the money is we would also have had to have known “xebec,”  “menhir,”  “phoresy,”  “macenas” and many other words my computer tell me are misspellings because they are not even in the computer’s dictionary.

Usually I cannot write one of these daily devotionals without a misspelling. It was amazing to see these young people spelling words that make me feel most obtuse.  However in addition to being able to spell “Laodicean,” I can also spell “salvation.”   It is spelled J-e-s-u-s.   I can also spell “forgiveness.”  It is spelled J-e-s-u-s.  I can spell “peace.’  It is spelled J-e-s-u-s.  And yes I can spell “redemption.”  It also is spelled J-e-s-u-s.  That’s my spelling lesson for the night.

Just in case you have missed church on the weekends, the pastor has told us we were Laodicean.  Please turn to the beginning of the Book of Revelation.   There you will find a message for each of the seven churches of Asia Minor.  They correspond not only to actual cities but to time periods in the history of the Christian Church.   The last one, the period in which we live, is described as being lukewarm.  One can easily see how easy it is for a pastor to make us feel very inadequate when using this passage.

By the way the word “macenas” means a generous benefactor.  I found one. His name is spelled J-e-s-u-s.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 28, 2009

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



I opened a box this evening whose contents were wrapped in a plastic bag. I could not but notice the warning printed on the bag to keep it away from children was printed in fifteen different languages.

Languages are fascinating systems of sound symbols which were eventually turned into visual symbols. Speech came before writing.  We are symbolic creatures that communicate with each other via a variety of symbols.  The words you are reading right now are nothing more than a batch of symbols that we have agreed upon to mean something to us.  It is an interesting process of taking a thought from my brain and putting it into your brain.  It is superior to a Vulcan mind meld because I don’t have to be near you.  I don’t even have to be alive to do it.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John continually put their ideas about Jesus in our minds and they have been dead for almost two thousand years.

We also communicate with each other by our body language.  The expressions produced by our eyes and the curvature of our mouths often times speak louder than the words that come out of those mouths.  Often we communicate with others who do not know our language by the symbolic gestures of our hands and stance.

Jesus once said, “All men will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” I was vividly reminded of how tricky this can be.  Today in class I specifically said, “We show our love for God by how we treat each other.”  About two minutes later I verbally sliced up a student who irritated me.  As Paul once asked, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 18,2009

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

Swirling Leaves

Today was campus cleanup day.  Faculty and students spent the afternoon raking, sweeping, spreading mulch and carrying away the last fall’s leaves. We do it every year just prior to alumni weekend.  We want the campus to look good for the homecomers.   Our problem today was the wind.  There were moments when the wind redecorated the dormant flower beds just as fast as we could rake them clean.

As I stood with leaves swirling about my feet I remembered other occasions in my life when I couldn’t seem to ask forgiveness for my sins fast enough because they continued to accumulate about me.   As fast as Jesus carried them away I replaced them with a new batch.  I found myself envying a colleague who told me he sometimes had trouble confessing his sins because he couldn’t remember any that he hadn’t cared for days before.   Then I remembered a verse that killed the envy.  It’s I John 1:8.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

I don’t think my friend thought he was lying.  I just think he was ignorant of the magnitude of selfishness that resides in us.  I think sometimes we are so full of sin and so used to it we no longer recognize its presence. I heard a preacher say if God revealed to us the full magnitude of our desperate situation we would just give up in despair.  God only shows us the truth about ourselves as we are able bear it.

The truth is very simple.  We are sinners and we have a Savior.  His name is Jesus.  He and He alone is the only way any of us are going to make it.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 9, 2009

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

Sweet Memories

This evening I opened a small bottle of maraschino cherries.  The human mind is an amazing treasure house of memories triggered by sights, sounds and smells. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with a memory I have not experienced in decades.  When I was a small boy with brand new front teeth I got hit in the mouth with a baseball bat.  Good-by new teeth.  Dentistry was pretty limited then and our dentist was an old man who must have gone to school in WWI.  Visits to him were most unpleasant.  One warm sunny afternoon as my mother and I came out of his office she took me to a corner drug store.  Sitting up at the ice cream counter she whispered something to the lady with a scoop in her hand.  The next thing I saw was totally awesome.  There in front of my bulging brown eyes was a giant mound of vanilla ice cream smothered with twenty-seven whole maraschino cherries.  I never again had such a sundae.

Our memories are who we are.  Our memories paint a life.  While we are able to remember both good and bad, it is our choice on which ones we dwell.  The close of the Book of Revelation speaks of former things not coming to mind.  Some say this means we will not remember things of this life.  I do so hope they are very wrong.  If so, we will cease to be us.  I am sure the passage means we will be so occupied with positive things we won’t have time for negative memories.  I don’t ever want to forget my cherry sundae.  It speaks to me of my mother’s love.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 10, 2009

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

Super Sunday

Several times today I heard today called “Super Sunday.”  I don’t think so! I don’t care if there was a hundred yard interception return for a touchdown. There was only one “Super Sunday” and that happened almost 2000 years ago. Jesus had been in the tomb since Friday evening and not just Jesus’ disciples but the entire universe was in mourning. How could it be that the one who would later be described by Paul as “the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature” be dead?  How could the one who raised Lazarus to life be so mangled and torn?   How could those hands that cradled children be ripped to bloody shreds?  The horror of the weekend was beyond belief.  Even Satan was amazed that Jesus took it.  His plan had been to so torture, so mutilate, so debase Jesus that He would give up, declaring that we were not worth it.  But our Jesus is a real hero.  He took all that hell could heap upon Him.

Sunday morning an angel rushed from heaven’s throne with the most important task ever assigned to anyone or any angel.  The earth shook as he swept into the garden.  Some of the most wonderful words ever spoken followed.  “Thy Father calls thee.”  Surely Satan had mustered all the forces of evil to keep Jesus in that tomb. But one righteous angel is all it takes to defeat all the forces of Hell.

Oh, “I serve a risen savior.  He’s in the world today.  I know that He is living whatever men may say.”

The next time you hear someone talk about “Super Sunday,” if you can, remind them of the real “Super Sunday.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 1, 2009

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

Super Singer

Since no one in our house can sing we got a canary.  He is a super singer. He loved this afternoon’s football game.  He cheered all afternoon for the Pats.  At least I think so.  I haven’t yet figured out how to translate him. His name is Hymn.  It has a wonderfully ungrammatical sound to it when one asks, “How is Hymn doing?”  And the response is, “Hymn is fine.”  We need to invite our English professors over for dinner.  We can drive them crazy. But back to whether or not Hymn was cheering on the Pats or Miami.  If I somehow find out it was Miami, I will have to take away his seed cup.

Aren’t you glad God isn’t like me?  “You have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

How fortunate we are that God doesn’t turn off our food supply when we disappoint Him.  While it is true there are hungry people on earth, it is not God’s fault.   There is adequate food for all.  It is human politics that create famines.  God is generous with friends and enemies.  Note Romans 5:10, “For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

Hymn is a super singer and our God is a super saver!  No coupons needed.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 9, 2009

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



Springtime Potholes

It’s almost springtime in New England and it’s pothole time.  Gigantic craters capable of jarring one’s teeth and literally ripping a tire off a rim have appeared overnight on heavily traveled streets.  Today we passed a poor soul standing by the roadside with a cell phone in his hand as he looked at what was supposed to be his left front tire.  That was going to be costly.  Sometimes they seem to magically appear and it is best to hit them straight on.  If one catches you at an angle you can lose more than a tire.

Have you noticed life is full of potholes?  Accidents, broken relationships, illnesses, financial difficulties or work problems seem to come out of nowhere.  One day you are happy and think life is okay and bang!  It happens leaving you startled and a bit woozy.  If it hasn’t happened recently, watch out your turn is coming.  It’s called “Life.”   Nothing lasts.  Both good times and bad times come and go.  Hopefully we are aware enough to relish the good times and not be swallowed up by the potholes.

In John Jesus promises us the abundant life.  That certainly has nothing to do with the Dow Jones Index.  It is about trusting the One who has proclaimed His love for us and allowing Him to carry us through the potholes we can’t get around.  When the hit comes we often think we are alone, but it is not the case.  He’s there ready to tow us to safety.

The most difficult potholes are the ones we should have been smart enough to avoid like not deliberately disobeying His Word.  As tough as that is He is always anxious to forgive.

Written by Roger Bothwell on Masrch 12, 2009

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

Something I Am Good At

I have finally discovered something at which I am really good.  A few days ago I mentioned the Wii Fit computer program that takes one through a series of exercises while standing on a scale.  My wife excels at this program. The computer insists on ranking us.  On exercise after exercise she ranks one through ten.   At the bottom it mentions me and records my “personal best.”   Well, I finally found something at which I rank number one.  Si, numero uno! I can sit on the scale and not move.  The scale is sensitive to any movement.  They have you stare at a candle on the video screen for three minutes.  If your body moves in the least you lose.  The only time I have moved is when the dog came over and jumped on me.  So there it is.  The thing I do best is sitting still.  Or as my wife says, “You are terrific at doing nothing.”

Now in my defense I can quote scripture.  “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.  Still, I can be, which is a great idea in an age of perpetual motion. Think about how rare it is for us to not start off the day with a full agenda and go as quickly as we can down the list.  We pride ourselves on being multi-taskers, which I have come to understand is doing several things not well.

Quality takes focus.  Quality takes concentration.  Do you want a quality experience with God?  Try being still so you can hear His still small voice.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 10, 2009

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


Something Completely Better

My black Ford pickup is definitely not green.  It gets terrible gas mileage. I can hear it going ka-ching as I drive around town.  This weekend I drove it almost to New York City and on the way back I knew exactly where I would have to refuel.   I should not have planned so well.  The best laid plans of mice and men go astray.  This time it was a traffic tie-up.  About fifty miles from my intended fill-up we came to a complete stop in wall to wall traffic for as far ahead as I could see.  Now the anxiety began.  Quickly turning off the air conditioning I realized if we sat and idled for an hour we were in trouble.  I suddenly felt like one of the five foolish virgins that ran out of oil because the bridegroom did not appear when planned.

I am happy to report I was more fortunate than the foolish virgins. After idling only a half an hour and crawling along about a mile I spotted a Shell sign hidden among a grove of leafy oaks and maples.  Phew!  As many times as I made that trip I had never seen that sign before.  Isn’t it wonderful to feel rescued?  Things we haven’t planned for occur and suddenly we find ourselves in a very disadvantaged place.

Psalm 50 verse 15 says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.”   I’m not sure that text has much to do with gasoline but I do know it has lots to do with life’s more serious issues.  When we are feeling at our wits’ end and nothing much is going right, ask for help.   He might not answer it the way we want because there is a good chance He has something completely better.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 1, 2009

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