An interesting thing happened to me this evening as I entered a bookstore that shall remain unnamed.  It does begin with a B.  In the space between the two front doors they had a display of books they were trying to quickly get out of their inventory.  One of them caught my eye.  It had been an expensive book of Tony Bennett’s art work.  It was now only $5.98.  I couldn’t resist.  A bit later when I went to pay for it the lady at the checkout said, “This can’t be right.”  She picked up a phone and said to some unseen person, “Someone has drawn a marker through the bar code and written a very cheap price.”  All the time she was talking I was getting the evil eye. She seemed to be looking for a marker in my pocket.  Soon the unseen person arrived and he too said, “This can’t be so.”  He also gave me the “What are you trying to pull here” look.  Finally I spoke up and said, “Folks, there is a pile of them in the entry.  They are all marked the same.  Go see.”  They did.  I was most disappointed for I never got an apology.  But what I did get was my book for $5.98.

Why can’t people say they are sorry?  Is it so painful to acknowledge that we have been wrong about something or someone?  Does it diminish us to regret misjudging someone? Does it always have to be someone else’s fault?  I have this gut feeling that until we can learn to do this very simple thing we can’t expect much forgiveness for ourselves.  Pride is a dastardly thing that eats away at character development.  May God help us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 27, 2010

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



We Win!

The New England Patriots did not really win their football game Sunday afternoon as much as the Chargers lost the game.  Sometimes you are given a gift.  I was amused by a student this morning who came up to me with a big smile as he said, “We won.”  We?  Strange I had not noticed him on the field during the game.  I wondered which pass he caught or which field goal he kicked.  But I didn’t say anything like that to him.  His smile was too big.  He was so very happy.  I could not say anything to take away his joy.

As he walked down the hall I thought about heaven and eternal life.  We win.  We?  If I take a good look at my life I would have to say that I certainly haven’t contributed anything to this victory.  I was not in Gethsemane.  I wasn’t nailed to a cross.  And yet when I think of it I smile.  That is unless I actually think about the gruesome nature of the cross.  It is the fruit that makes me smile.  I hope it is as big as my student’s smile.  I should be so happy.  I should be way more happy.  I am not talking about a game.  I am talking about eternity, an eternity of endless growth and development.

How interesting it is that Paul says in Romans that we are more than conquerors in Christ.  It’s all vicarious.  Vicariously my student won Sunday afternoon.  Vicariously we win an infinite amount of Sunday afternoons.  Sunday afternoons without end.  I like the sound of that.  Because for us to have an infinite number of Sundays we need an infinite amount of Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sabbaths.  How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 26, 2010

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



Just Say Something Nice

Do you ever watch a television show where all the characters are smart, witty and always have the perfect comeback? Discouraging, isn’t it?  If you are like me, you think of some really great thing to say about thirty minutes after it’s too late. It’s encouraging is to see those smart witty actors interviewed on a talk show. It is then we discover they are not the quick-witted, literate models of linguistic talent portrayed in the show. Instead we find out they are like the rest of us. They just have good writers.

That’s what I need.  I need a good writer to prepare clever lines for me so I too can look brilliant in every situation. But life doesn’t work that way. I think Jesus’ disciples must have worried about how they were going to manage when He was gone. That must be why He said to them in Luke 12:11-12 not to worry about it. He promised, “When they bring you into the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take no thought how or what thing you shall answer, or what you shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what we ought to say.”

That’s encouraging. But it doesn’t help with the day-to-day interactions. Perhaps my problem is I want to look witty so I can outshine everyone else. Maybe if I were willing to let others look good I wouldn’t need to find that perfect remark. Romans 12:10 says, “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” Instead of waiting for the other person to take a breath so I can interrupt, I need to just smile and say something nice instead of something witty.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 29, 2010

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



A First Class Life

While passing by the recreation room in a nursing home I was about knocked over by the volume of the recreation director literally yelling, “N-17.” Looking in I saw a collection of old ladies playing Bingo. There weren’t any old men. This wasn’t because old men are not interested in Bingo. There aren’t any old men. We, men, just don’t last long enough, at least most of us. There are a few stalwarts but for the most part we check out sooner than our wives. Just then I was assaulted once again with a very loud “C-19.”

It’s a good thing God communicates to us in a still small voice that is heard internally or very few people over 75 would ever hear Him. I think God likes old people. He didn’t call Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt until he was 80. In addition, Moses’ brother Aaron, the high priest, wasn’t any spring chicken. However, we must mention that John the disciple was a teenager when he started following Jesus. God obviously has no real age preferences. He will take us when He can get us.

Lest this information be a cause of putting off committing your life to Christ please don’t delay thinking you can enjoy the world now and become a Christian later. Being a Christian is the abundant life. Why wallow about in a second-class life when you can start a first-class life right now?

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10   That’s because the moment we make Jesus the Lord of our lives we cross over from death to life.  We have been handed a brand new passport with a new birth date.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 28, 2010

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



Where’s Daniel?

In preparation for an accrediting visit for our college we have to locate and report on the whereabouts and successes of our graduates.  No one in our department knew the whereabouts of one of last year’s psychology graduates.  We started pulling out all the stops to find him.  We asked in classes from other students.  We did computer searches.  We finally found him.  He is working in our college library.  Our psychology department is in the library basement.  His desk is immediately above mine on the first floor.  During the day he sits about five feet above me.  He was lost!  We didn’t know where he was!

His proximity to me reminds me of students who tell me they have no or little contact with God.  They go about their daily routines sealed in their own little cocoons not aware that God is so very near.  And unlike our student who was not trying to get our attention, God, who is self-revealing, has been trying to get those students attention.  This week He has painted the sugar maples on campus with luscious reds and yellows.  He has wafted 70 degree zephyrs through their hair.  He has whispered to them via lectures from Christian professors and yet they don’t perceive His wooing.

In Romans 1 Paul mentions that we are without excuse because the invisible characteristics of God are evident in the visible things He has provided us.  In the Psalms there is a wonderful verse that says, “Though I ascend to the heavens thou art there. Though I make my bed in Hell thou art there.”  Psalm 139.   How is it that someone can be so close and yet so far away?  It’s amazing!

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 25, 2010

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


Psalm 23:5

It seemed like such a long journey.  A strong headwind added another hour to our trip from Boston to San Francisco.  As we all know food on airlines has become an endangered commodity and my complimentary bag of peanuts just didn’t do it for me.  It was about four hours into the flight when I heard the rustle of cellophane.  Glancing left I watched a lady remove a bag of licorice twists from her carryon.  The fragrance of licorice wafted across the narrow isle.  Longingly I watched as she grasped the end of a twist and slowly pulled it from the cellophane bag.   She didn’t just bite it, she savored it.  She slowly pushed it past her lips as my stomach began to groan with desire. I felt like the ancient mariner who said, “Licorice, licorice everywhere and not a twist to eat.”  I think that’s what he said.I want to tell you I gained a whole new appreciation for Psalm 23:5, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  This time I was the enemy.   The food was on someone else’s table.

Even as a boy I was concerned over what I perceived to be smugness on my part with God caring for me and not for another.  Yet I understood the blessings for those who make God our shepherd.  What a difference Jesus made.  He changed everything. Jesus helped us understand our role is never to be smug but instead to be caring for everyone.  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him.  If he is thirsty, give him a drink.  For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 12, 2010

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



The God of Enough

It was one of those hot summer days when I had no control over the car.  As we drove past the Dairy Queen the lovely female voice of my GPS said, “Turning right and stopping.”  Well, there we were parked in front of a dazzling display of tempting posters.  Who was I to argue?  I fell prey to the one flaunting a Peanut Buster Blizzard.  One of D.Q.’s marketing tactics is to give you a half an inch higher than the edge of the cup.  That works fine on normal days.  Today was just plain hot and the instant the fans in the car blew over that half inch bonanza, I was in trouble.  Before I could even stick out my tongue to catch the now melting ice cream I had a spray of it all over my hands, my shirt, my pants and there was no way the napkin could catch it.  What a glorious mess and it just wouldn’t stop.  It kept getting worse and worse.

I now bring new meaning to “my cup runneth over.”  Abundance which comes quickly without proper preparation can often turn disastrous.  Our lore is filled with stories of lottery winners who quickly go from poverty to wealth to poverty in a very short time.  How often have we prayed for wealth?   How often have we promised God we would give huge amounts to His cause if He would only rig circumstances in our favor?  God is not a rigger.  He is a wise father who will supply our needs and sometimes add a little extra.

The Old Testament finishes with a very serious promise.  Jesus tells us if we are faithful, He will be faithful.  If we show ourselves wise stewards of a little, enough will come our way.  One thing we must always remember.  He is the God of Enough.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 22, 2010

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



A Sleepy Day

Today was a sleepy day in New England.  It rained most of the day and the temp never went above the mid fifties.  As hard as I tried I couldn’t keep my students awake.  They settled into their chairs and within a few minutes their eyelids were settled.  I tried almost everything.  To begin class I read a fabulous passage from Romans. Only half of them seemed aware of my presence.  I walked over and called some by name.  They roused for a few minutes but soon were back in dreamland. There was a temptation to be miffed except for the fact that just yesterday I was in a faculty meeting and was in the same stupored condition.

Jesus had a similar problem with His disciples that horrible night in the garden.  But He did acknowledge their human nature.  Sometimes we just can’t stay awake. He understands His sleeping church.  We can take comfort that He never condemned the ten young women for sleeping while waiting for the groom to come to the wedding.  It is not natural to stay in a state of excitement constantly waiting for anything, let alone something we have been told for decades is at the door.

Perhaps the best thing is not to hype ourselves up every time there is an earthquake or some other horror.  The best thing is not to be event watching or studying someone’s fabricated time chart but instead establish a living, breathing, eating, walking, talking, and sleeping relationship with Jesus that is so real it doesn’t matter when He returns.  Our goal should be to be so involved with Jesus that going to heaven will merely be a change of address.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 7, 2010

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


Psalm 103

If it has been a while since you have read Psalm 103 I would like to recommend it for your devotion today.  Read it slowly. This has to be one of the richest lists of blessings we can find anywhere.  Allow me to list some of them.

Verse 2 – Forget not His benefits.  In order to not forget, one has to know them.  We receive so many benefits every day that we don’t even know about.  How often does our angel intervene to protect us?

Verse 3 – He heals our diseases.  Ah, I wish that were always true.  How often have we had loved ones die an early death.  This must be referring to our resurrected bodies spoken of in I Corinthians 15.

Verse 4 – He redeems us from eternal destruction.  He crowns us with mercy and loving kindness.

Verse 5 – He fills our mouths with good things.  He renews our youth like eagles.  I’m not sure what that means.  But it’s a nice sounding metaphor.

Verse 6 – He executes judgment for the oppressed.  Obviously this happens in heaven because a lot of good people get bad deals.

Verses 7 through 10 – He is merciful and slow to anger and doesn’t pay us what our sins have earned.

Verse 11 – His mercy is as high as heaven is above earth.  Wow.

Verse 12 – He puts our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  Glad it doesn’t say north from south since they meet at the poles.It is obvious the psalmist didn’t write this as a theological treatise but as a song for us to enjoy and to fill our days with happiness as we contemplate how fortunate we are to have such a loving God.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 22, 2010

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



Who’s to Blame

In one of my psych classes today we confronted the issue of our human tendency not to accept blame even in the face of our failures.  Noble Adam was quick to blame both God and Eve for his failure.  “The woman, you gave me, she made me do it.”  Last evening our phone rang at 11:30 pm.  It was someone from our college who had dialed our number instead of the number he wanted.  The number he wanted was one line below our number on his card.  Upon realizing he had the wrong person he immediately blamed the person who printed the card by saying they had the numbers inverted.  They did not.  The error was his but being human he immediately blamed someone else.  He never did apologize for calling at that hour.  Aren’t people wonderful?  Aren’t you happy to be one?

Actually I am happy to be a human.  Not only are we the top of the food chain but we are amazing creatures, who for no cause of our own, are loved by our Creator.  When He finished making us He said, “That’s very good.”   What is astonishing about Him is not only doesn’t He blame others for His mistakes (He doesn’t make any.) He accepts responsibilities for ours.  Notice I didn’t say He accepted the blame for our sins.  What I did say is He accepted the responsibility for our sins.  There is a huge difference.  He can’t be blamed other than that He gave us free choice.  It is how we use that free choice that was and is the problem.

But He did accept responsibility. He did it on the cross.  He paid for our sins and by grace we get a brand new start every day until we no longer need one.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 19, 2010

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