Days of Wonder

In mid-July New England roadsides are lined with day lilies.  I cannot tell you how beautiful they are.  My vocabulary isn’t expansive enough to describe how they turn mundane old roads into showcases of botanical loveliness.  I wish I could import them to all of your roads.  I almost suffer from luxury guilt.  Please note I said “almost.”  I refuse to allow guilt to spoil these days of wonder.

Guilt is one of Satan’s most effective tools.  He tempts us to do wrong.  We listen to him and do it and then he attacks us for listening to him.  At this point I could think of some very bad names to call him.  In regard to luxury guilt, he tries to destroy the joy of God’s gifts by making us feel guilty for having something others do not have.  When people are the sole survivor of an accident they often suffer survivor guilt.  Why should they be the one left?

One of the gifts of God’s grace is to remove from our mental loads all guilt.  We have enough responsibility in life just meeting our obligations.  We certainly do not need guilt to be piled on top.   Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”   The way He does that is to lift the heavy burden of guilt.  Folks, I don’t care what you have done.  Jesus’ message is for you.  The only sin Jesus can’t forgive is the one you refuse to confess.  The unforgiveable sin of which the Bible speaks is grieving the Holy Spirit.  And how do we do that?  By not listening to Him when He convicts us of sin.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 17, 2009

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


Dagwood and Blondie

I am sitting here with an old friend, Dagwood Bumstead.  I have known Dagwood since before I could read.  I would look at the pictures and little by little I figured out the words.  Somehow Dagwood and Blondie haven’t aged.  They raised Alexander and Cookie as I grew and then I passed them.  The kids stayed frozen in their teen years.  I wanted to name my first dog Daisy but was overruled by my older sisters.  Blondie is such a great looking woman I often wondered how Dagwood got her.  I actually had a boss that could easily have been Mr. Dithers.  There is something wonderful about having something so permanent in one’s life.  On Sunday mornings, like the Bumsteads, I have no age.  For a few moments I am part of their world.

Constancy in an ever-changing world is remarkably soothing. Everyone needs some kind of psychological anchor.  We need to come back to something solid. We need something that doesn’t change.  Our heavenly Father is like that. Malachi 3:6 is a great promise.  God assures us that He doesn’t change. What He was He is.  What He is He will be. It is a blessing when we can have that kind of biological parent, but just in case you don’t, be sure you have a Father in heaven who is real and permanent.

At the close of Matthew Jesus promised that He would be with us always.   Always is a good word.  As the decades have gone by my vision of my heavenly Father has changed.  He has grown more personal. But it was me that changed not Him.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 22, 2009

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



While mowing the lawn with an electric mower, someone in our house who will remain unnamed ran over the wire.  Instant silence.  Without the connection the mower ceased to be useful.  John 15 came rushing to the forefront of my brain.  Unless we are connected to the vine, no matter how hearty the branch it cannot bear any fruit.  It is useless.  Jesus goes on to say He is the vine and we are the branches.  If we remain connected we will bear much fruit.  I long for a much fruit experience.  Sometimes we think a much fruit experience means lots of baptisms.  That is pretty discouraging because few of us can boast of bringing thousands to Jesus.  However when we read about the fruit of the Spirit, baptizing people isn’t even mentioned.  The fruit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.”  See Galatians 5

It is true. Jesus did commission His disciples to go and baptize.  But it is also true that Paul speaks of a variety of gifts.  Each of us is to play our part in the great Gospel Commission.  Not everyone is to be a baptizer and not everyone is to be an administrator.  But what all of us are capable of is being and remaining connected.  Some of the finest Christians I have ever known cannot point to one person and say I baptized that person.  However, they are the most generous people.  They would give anything if convinced of the need.

It would be so grand if we had engraved on our gravestone the word “Connected.”  It would say it all because fruit happens.  It doesn’t have to be forced.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 13, 2009

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



Every  Presidential inauguration is always followed by multiple inaugural balls–sometimes as many as a dozen or more.   Celebrating is important to us.  Yet it doesn’t seem to be merely a human activity.  In Luke 15 Jesus regales us with stories of redemption and lifts our spirits by telling us there is joy in heaven when someone repents.  He follows that with the story of the Prodigal Son which ends with a great celebration.   In other stories He tells of wedding banquets and was Himself feted by Matthew and Lazarus.

Just in case we might feel left out please note in Revelation 19 we are invited to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.  The angel said those who attend are blessed.  Of that I have no doubt.  This is the grandest celebration of all eternity.   It is the celebration of life eternal for the redeemed. Paul wrote, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  I Thess. 4   It is the fulfillment of His promise in John 14, “If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again that where I am there you may be also.”

There is an amazing celebration yet to come and you can, if you so choose, be there in the best clothes of all time – Jesus’ robe of righteousness.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 21, 2009

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


Cherish Now

The New England forests are decorated with vernal pools laden with choirs of frogs that fill the night air with songs of romance.  As spring wanes and summer makes her entrance the pools will vanish along with the spring flowers nourished by their water.   Each day brings something new and says farewell to the occupants of now.  Everything but God changes.  How important to cherish the good things we have and relish moments of joy and togetherness.  This weekend my grandson was eager for me to note he had changed.  He is now taller than I.

I was awakened this Sunday by the aroma of scrambled eggs, sizzling links and baking sweet rolls.  It is usually that way when the children are here. Grandma plans days in advance for each course.  Nothing will be left to chance for this time must be cherished.  It might not happen again.  And if it does it will be different.  Each child will be older, bigger and more interesting.

We do grow more interesting as the years go by.  We have more stories to tell.  We have more honed opinions.  Hopefully our values shift from the tangible to affairs of the heart.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us our hearts will be where are treasures are.  Optimistically as we mature our treasures become people.  We want to love things that can love us in return. I can love my car but it can’t love me back.

The reality and the pain of life is that the people we love all go away.   Either we leave or they leave.  It is just a matter of time.  Everything changes so cherish now.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 7, 2009

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



With the windows rolled down I stopped at an intersection.  The magnificent sweet smell of freshly mown hay filled the car.  As I waited for a lull in the traffic so I could pull out I heard the lovely call of a cricket.  I reached for my cell phone because that is my cell phone ring sound.  Someone was calling.  But there was no one there.  It was then that I realized there were real crickets in the grass by the stop sign.

I have often wondered how many people hear voices and think it is God.  How often have schizophrenics responded with Samuel’s words, “Speak Lord, your servant hears”?  How many major religions or denominations have been founded on such a premise?  Through the years I have had friends who told me that God told them to do such and such.  When I pressed them for specifics the answers were always vague.  I don’t want to be a skeptic but how can one be so very sure?   I had a pastor friend who announced to his congregation that God was calling him to another church.  Of course it was a larger church.  I have yet to hear a pastor say God is calling him to a smaller congregation. This particular pastor got to his new place and hated it.  So he went back to his old church.  What about the call?

I have people who tell me God placed a certain person in their life only to have the relationship sour.  The Children of Israel used say God led them to war if they were successful.  If they were not successful then God had not called them. I am digging a hole here for myself.  I sound like I don’t believe God leads us.  I do believe He does.   I also believe God gave us brains with which to make wise decisions.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 27, 2009

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


Barnes and Noble

I wish Solomon had been with me this afternoon.  I went to Barnes and Noble. If Solomon thought the world was full of books in 1000 B.C., (See Eccl. 12:12) he would have had a cardiac arrest this afternoon.  They are stocked for the holidays and they have an amazing inventory.   I am thankful I do not have a compulsive disorder that demands I read all the books I see.  I would have had the cardiac arrest.

The question is “How many are worth reading?”   The answer depends on who you ask.  Each author would insist his or hers is worth reading.  It depends on one’s interests.  Isn’t it amazing how many ways we can configure only twenty-six letters?  As I strolled around I saw many old friends on the shelves.  They seemed to say “Hi” as I passed.  Some of them I have read more than once.  That seems a waste when one only has a limited number of hours in life.

It might seem that I should only read one thing once so I have time to read different ones.   But just like a few people in life are worth a lot of one’s time,  so it is with books. I have spent countless hours in John, Ephesians and Colossians.  I don’t regret one second.  As I write about it I think I shall read them again.  I have read Desire of Ages over twenty times; all 700 plus pages.

How about you?  What books do you enjoy and find useful?  Perhaps Solomon would have strolled about Barnes and Noble and declared one hundred, two hundred or perhaps three hundred really worth reading.  Never-the-less it is a grand place.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 19, 2009

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


A Vast Array of Delights

Hot, humid, steamy and sweaty are just a few of the words to describe today. It was one of those days you stick to everything you touch.  As the sun set this evening it was huge and bright reddish-orange as it lowered into the summer haze.  It was so beautiful it made you want to look at it.  But even through the haze it was too bright to look.  I found myself trying to see it with my peripheral vision.  I did not want to miss it but I knew it was harmful to look directly into it.  I remembered one of my favorite childhood Bible stories.  It is found in Exodus 33.

Moses asked to see God’s glory.  “But God said, ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.’ And the LORD said, ‘Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.  Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.'”

I used to think that meant we would never see God’s face.  But of course God was speaking about humans in our sinful state.  Someday that will be all cared for. Paul writes in I Corinthians 15 that this corruption will be replaced with incorruption.   Then the words of Jesus will come true. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”   The brightness of His glory will be one of our rewards.  The gift is not merely eternal life.  That by itself could be a curse.   It is a blessing because it comes with a vast array of delights.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 18, 2009

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

A Cat Named Grandma

While filling out a form at the DMV this week I was sitting on a bench beside a lady who appeared to be a bit older than I.  (All of them are older than I.)  I particularly noticed this one because she was muttering fairly loudly about how stupid the form was.   I thought it was pretty straightforward.  They just wanted to know if there was any physical reason why you shouldn’t drive, etc.  Finally, I offered to help her with it. She never did stop talking about how stupid the form was.   Ah, how human of her.  It is never our fault.  She was a true daughter of Eve.  “The serpent made me do it.”  It is so difficult for us to accept that when something goes wrong it is our fault.  If we fail a test it was the teacher’s fault. If we get a speeding ticket the officer was just waiting for us.  It is so refreshing to have a student say, “I’m sorry.  I watched television instead of doing my assignment.”   Actually I guess I never have heard that.  Instead grandma dies several times during the semester.   I think people must name their cat Grandma.

Can you imagine all the excuses and all the blame that will be cast around on judgment day?   No one will be lost because of their sins.  It will be someone else’s fault.  It is so Freudian.   I wonder if on judgment day someone said, “Yes, God.  I see you offered me salvation as a gift and I didn’t take it.”  Will God be so amazed He will give them another chance? Who’s to say?   After all He is a God of mercy and the parable of the workers hired at all times of the day tells us to mind our own business. God will save whomever He deems.

Written on May 23, 2009

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

Wrong Places

It was 7:54 A.M. Thursday morning and I had an 8:00 appointment at Clinton Middle School.   When I pulled up something seemed wrong.  There wasn’t enough activity.  Children should have been moving.  The parking area should been a beehive of activity.  Turning off the car I slowly got out and headed for the front door and then it hit me.  I was at Clinton Elementary School. Right time.  Wrong place.  Fortunately for me the right place was only five minutes away.

History has not been so kind to others who have been in the wrong place.   We would all have been much better off if Eve hadn’t been at the wrong place.  Samson would have been a lot better off if he hadn’t been at the wrong place.   It was a place he chose to go even after she had betrayed him prior to his final fall. How often are major mistakes made because we allow ourselves to be or worse yet go to the wrong place.   Psalm 1 says it so well.  “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”   It’s all about being in the wrong place and usually by choice.   So often we arrogantly think we are strong enough when we are absolutely no match for the master tempter.

Wisdom is found in the next verse. “His delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”  God’s law is wisdom.  It is there to protect us.  God only wants the best for us.   We can help Him by being in the right place.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 16, 2009

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