Letting Go

Jesus had come home.  Sabbath morning the little place of worship was packed with relatives and friends.  Nazareth was a little town.  Most everyone was somehow related and everyone knew everything about everyone.  Rumors about Jesus had set their imaginations on fire.  The room was hushed when He rose to speak.  Isaiah flowed from His lips.  “He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.”   The crowd was electrified with horror at the blasphemy.  Uncles, nephews, granduncles, and grandnephews grabbed Jesus and dragged Him out of town to a cliff.  But before they could throw Him over, their own flesh and blood, He walked right through them.  It is the last time He would go home to Nazareth.  A few years later He went to His real home.

His message is just as appropriate today.  The good news is salvation is a gift no matter how bad we have been.  The freedom is from our guilt and slavery to our nature.  Sight is to enlighten our understanding that we need not fear the future.  Our place in eternity is secure. The release is from the oppression of memories of a not so perfect past.  We are given power to forgive others as well as ourselves.   Is there someone who harmed you?  Let it go.  Is there someone you harmed?  Fix it if you can.  If you can’t, let it go.  God will fix it for you.   Take Him at His word.  Believe Him.  If we don’t we are just like the folk at Nazareth.  When we do believe, joy and inner peace are the natural fruit.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 31, 2010

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


We Need to Remember

If the wind blows just right four times a day we can hear a deep throated whistle blast from our downtown fire station.  It has beenthis way for decades back into the past century.  Eight A.M. signals the beginning of the workday.  Noon signals lunch.   Six P.M. signals the end of the workday and 9 P.M. reminds people to tend to stoves and lanterns before going to bed. It’s nice.  It’s a tie to a past that seems to be rushing away from us.  The sound of the blast from the firehouse almost makes one think if one went down to the firehouse one would see firemen busy putting big fire horses up for the night under the watchful eye of a Dalmatian.

People need to remember. We need to be reminded of our roots.  It’s a value system grounded in hard work and simplicity.  Our traditions tell us who we are.  We are not refugees in a sea of angst.  We are travelers with purpose and goals.  We care about community and neighbors.  The neighborhood school isn’t there merely for our children but for all children with dreams and ambitions.  The local little league baseball teams or the football or soccer leagues get us out of our electronically sequestered lives and we see and talk to real people just like ourselves.

Families need traditions and customs that tie each to each.  Modernity fills us with so many weekday responsibilities we must make efforts to make Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays special.   Sitting around the table actually looking at each other as we talk and eat, going to church, taking a weekend jaunt together, these are the things our children will remember and cherish after we are gone.  These give us identity.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 6, 2010

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



God Wants To Talk With You

I almost felt like I had to say, “Excuse me” as we drove between them.  On a very busy street with cars streaming both ways two people were holding an animated conversation across the street from each other.   I felt like it was a typical conversation I have with God.  Life is streaming between us. I realize He is supposed to be inside and speak to me in a still small voice, but reality is that life is full and loud and takes up our days.   I call to Him and I know He calls back but there is so much going on I fear some days I don’t hear.  I know He hasn’t gone anywhere.  It’s me.

Remember the night God spoke to a little boy named Samuel?  “And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  And Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

I love that story.  Knowing that God doesn’t play favorites means He calls to us.  We might not hear our name called in the middle of the night because He is as diverse as we are diverse.  He speaks to us via Scripture, sermons, devotionals such as this, friends and sometimes those who are not are friends.  The important thing to remember is He wants to dialogue with you.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 9, 2010

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


Heaven Incomplete Without You

In the midst of a grocery store transaction the checkout lady came out from her position at the cash register and went to the pile of hand baskets that had erratically piled up where you put your items on the belt.  Ever so carefully she fit each in another until she had them all nicely stacked and perfectly positioned on the floor.  Only then could she return to checking out the customer in front of me.  It was some variation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Humans are wonderfully strange.  Each of us is so distinctively unique.  We come in so many different sizes.  I have a few very good friends who are birdwatchers.  One of them has means and will fly anywhere in the world to add new sightings to his life list.  Others are of more normal means and enjoy new sightings for their personal yard list.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that His Father is a birdwatcher.  Each species is so carefully designed and equipped with survival skills.  He must be pleased when we notice and appreciate His craftsmanship.

He is also a people watcher. He knows that checkout lady well.   He knows what makes her need to have the baskets sitting just right and of course He knows each of our idiosyncrasies.  We all have them.  They are the spice that flavors us into such distinct packages. They give us personality and make us beings of interest.  It is no wonder God wants to save everyone.

Each is special.  If you are forever lost there will never be another like you to fill God’s Kingdom.   Your presence in heaven will enhance the experience for everyone.  You will make heaven whole.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 10, 2010

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




In 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater said, “. extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!”  It sparked a national debate among both academics and the common man on the street.  History has been filled with the horrifying records of the fruit of extremism. Could it be that there is a righteous time for extremism?  Didn’t Solomon say there was a time for everything?

Since 9/11 the world has had an epiphany regarding the fruit of extremism. The cover of a recent issue of Time magazine featured an Afghanistan woman who had had her nose and ears cut off because she had fled from her abusive in-laws.  The extremism of a faith that condones such an atrocity jars us to introspection.  What kind of religion could sanction such inhumanity?  How is it that women, the last and crowning act of creation, can be so brutalized?  Surely only the ignorant could say all religions are the same. This is darkness compared to Jesus the Light of the World who tells us our identifying mark is our love for each other.

In that same 1964 speech Goldwater also wisely said, “Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies.”   This is especially true when used by those with religious motivations.

I can think of one occasion when extremism is most desirable.  In Psalm 119:11 we read, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”  To do no harm, to be no harm, to always act in love is our goal.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 12, 2010

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



Higher, Grandpa, Higher

In my side yard hangs a blue plastic swing with yellow ropes.  It has been there for fifteen years and is still in excellent condition. The only thing it lacks is a child.  It has served all our grands when they have come to visit (which is never long enough).  The first one to use it now has a driver’s license.  If the swing had a memory I wonder if it misses her.  I do.

How grand to be a swing and carry children heavenward.  When a child is tiny they get very short rides upward.  But as the months pass by we hear, “Higher, Grandpa, higher.”  I’m not sure if I recall any of them ever asking for me to stop.  It is I that grew weary.  I should not have.  Why is it that we rarely treasure moments until they are gone and irretrievable?

One of the joys of being a teacher is to take students higher and higher.  I want them to catch a vision of a better life.  I want them to see that a life of service is the richest life possible.  It isn’t as easy as it sounds.  The world is bombarding them with a message of materialism and self-gratification.  Fortunately, I have them as a captive audience for thirty-six hours throughout the semester.  That is a rare privilege with golden opportunities to effect change.  I seem to hear God say, “Higher, take them higher.”  Not a class must go by without a passage from His word and prayer.

I like our blue and yellow swing.  Someday it will hear a delighted little voice say, “Higher, push me higher.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 11, 2010

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




The Hawk Stick

We spent the weekend at the home of friends in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.  They have a veranda with a million dollar view of one of the lakes surrounded by lush verdant forest.  Perhaps I have a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder because I was persistently annoyed by the top of one dead tree that stuck up above a perfect layer of green.  I wanted to take a chain saw and go down the hillside and eliminate it.  When I finally mentioned it my host was horrified.   “You can’t,” he exclaimed. “It’s my hawk stick!”   He’s an avid birdwatcher and apparently raptors love to sit atop that one dead treetop giving both the hawk and my host great views.

It was amazing.  Once I realized the dead tree had a valuable purpose I no longer wanted to cut it down.  It was useful.  It provided something the living trees did not.  Solomon was right again.  There is a purpose for everything.  Actually, it’s a lesson I have discovered about people.  Have you ever met someone whom you deemed to be useless?  I’m ashamed to mention this because that is so wrong.  But I have been guilty.  It was only after I knew more about the person that I realized they had a gift, they had purpose, they had someone they loved and it was none of my business to make such a judgment.   There is no such thing as a useless person.  Just because I wasn’t perceptive enough to discern their value was a judgment about me and not them.  I need to remind myself that I have come across individuals who most likely thought I was useless.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 16, 2010

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



Jesus – The Rosetta Stone

Until 1800 ancient Egyptian writings were mostly untranslatable.   Then the Rosetta Stone was found.  It held the carved inscription of a decree by Ptolemy V in three languages.  It was a light on the ancient world that ultimately opened up the translation of ancient Egyptian texts.

Jesus was the Rosetta Stone that flooded the world with light about the true nature of His Father.  Prior to Jesus Satan was able to blame all manner of evil on God.  Through the centuries God’s character was besmirched by man’s ignorance of who God really was.  Men did horrible things to each other and then claimed they were but following God’s commands.  God is portrayed as vengeful, petty and easily offended.  It was true that He was better than the portrayal of the pagan gods around Israel, but the truth about Him was shrouded by men’s continual creating Him in their image.

When Jesus came that all changed.  Jesus said, “When you saw me you saw the Father.  He and I are one.”  God’s character was revealed to be that of a merciful Father who longed to forgive and restore.  He was a giving God who sent rain upon the just and the unjust.  He was a Father so committed to returning us to Eden that He gave us Jesus as an atonement for our sins.   No longer did we have to fear speaking to Him.   He bade us to come boldly before His throne.  We were adopted into the family and became sons and daughters, princes and princesses of the King of the universe.  We became heirs of the Kingdom with Jesus Himself.

Just think of Revelation  3:21,  “Blessed is he who overcomes for he shall sit with  me in my throne someday.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 17, 2010

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


Jesus’ Criterion

I am sitting here looking at a list of doctrinal beliefs.  It defines a certain kind of Christian.  It sets him or her apart from other Christians who do not subscribe to this particular list.  I’m not so sure Jesus ever intended there to be different kinds of Christians. Either you are or you are not.  He had a criterion.  In John 13:35 He clearly said, “People will know you are my disciples if you love one another.”

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus lists some characteristics Christians should exhibit – things like purity, humility, and hunger for righteousness.  What I can’t find is Jesus’ list of theological tenets.  I do realize if you are going to have an organization one needs parameters of membership.  This is a fact of life one finds difficult to contend with.  The problem is once you draw a circle to determine who is in you have automatically created those who are out.  Isms create schisms.   Perhaps this would not be so bad if it were not for human nature that then creates “them” and “us.”  Of course “us” is the best group and “them” have deficits and are not quite as good as “us.”  This is when love begins to suffer.

We need organization.  Collectively we can accomplish so much more than we can if each of us is running our own little program.  And so grows the problem out of our desire to accomplish much good.  We can become so mentally attuned to tenets and theological purity that we then let slide Jesus’ criterion of loving.  Some of the harshest people I have known are theological purists.  To be a real Christian isn’t so much agreeing with each other as much as it is loving each other.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 30, 2010

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



Three Times is a Charm

It was very quiet this morning when I went to the street for the morning paper.  It was quiet except for a family of cardinals.  Mom and dad and three adult-sized young ones were all over the yard while having a full blown conversation.  They were celebrating.  This was not the first attempt for this mom and dad.  Earlier in the summer we were watching them raise three only to have them taken by who knows what.  The couple tried again. Again they lost their babies.  The third time was a charm.  In the words of Dora the Explorer, “They did it.”  What a happy lot they were this morning.

Loss is a part of life.  We never really own anything.  We just get to use things for a while.  It is the same with people.  For a while we get to be with them, we get to love them, but they will ultimately go away.  Or if we are fortunate we will be the first to go away.  Emily Dickenson once wrote, “Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell.”

However, I do not wish to dwell upon loss.  I want to join my cardinal family and rejoice at their persistence and ultimate success.  Oh, that we all should have such fortitude.  I do not know if they suffered grief over the loss of two families.  What I do know is they kept trying and to great success. This morning there were streaks of red throughout the yard as they experienced life to its fullest.  As we age some of us realize our strongest times are history but ultimate strength is yet to come.  It is so grand to know Jesus.  He makes all the difference.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 18, 2010

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