Important Things Will Never Change

There are, maybe, nine billion people on earth.  No one knows for sure.  But something we do know for sure is there are four point five billion cell phones on earth.   People who live decades away from the infrastructure needed for land line phones can access satellites for phone service.  They put them in the sun during the day to charge the batteries.  This is amazing. This means there are four point five billion different telephone numbers and your number, once dialed, finds your phone in your pocket or purse.  People in the jungle or on the African plains can “hear you now.” Masai warriors hunting lions can talk to each other on their phones as they close in on their prey.

Live for five more years and really be amazed.  They are called social robots and in the future they will be a fifteen billion dollar industry.  Are you too busy to pick up the kids after school?  Don’t be concerned.  Tell the family robot to take the family car and go pick up junior.  Believe me I am not talking foolishness.

I am talking about the exciting and scary world that lies ahead.  However, lest you become a bit anxious about it and how you will relate, I have good news.  The most important things of life will never change.  The God who gave us the minds to produce all this technology loves us and will always love us.  The sins we will commit with those phones and robots will still be forgiven the same way sins have always been forgiven, by the power of the sacrifice of our Jesus.  As you go to bed this evening rest well in the promise that He holds you in His hand and nothing can snatch you away.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 4, 2010

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


I Am Not Mr. Krall

When I was a teacher in Uganda some of my students would call me Mr. Krall. When I explained I wasn’t Mr. Krall they would often say, “But all you white people look alike.”  I was amused and flattered.  Mr. Krall was so much better looking than I and able to do dozens of things I couldn’t do.  I soon observed it was the new students who would make the error.  As they got to know us they learned to tell us apart.

It’s like that with so many things.  When we only know something superficially we don’t discriminate very well.  Someone asked me if I could pick my black lab out of a pack of black labs.  Of course I could.  I know the shape of her head.  I know her height and weight and scars.  The more we know about something the easier it is to tell the difference.  I, along with most of you, get political emails that paint people with a broad brush.  If someone is a liberal then they must be this or that and the same with conservatives.  The truth is each person is unique.  It is only the ignorant who want to label and compartmentalize others.  We do it because then we don’t have to think much.  It is an easy way to decide who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.  Guess what?  There are good guys and bad guys spread out over the entire spectrum.

We must never forget Jesus was crucified by the conservatives and the liberals combined.  He went after both groups.  See Matthew 22 and 23.  Thankfully our God is not ignorant about us.  He can count our hairs.  Each of us is special because there is no one else in the entire universe like the person you see in the mirror.  God knows I am not Mr. Krall.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 4, 2010

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

Jesus’ Problem of Love

Late yesterday afternoon we took our California family to Logan airport for their trip home.  At ten, four hours after they had been scheduled to takeoff, they called.  Their flight was not just delayed, it was cancelled!  So back to Logan we went to bring them home because JetBlue did not and was not going to reschedule them.  Basically the message was “Tough.”  Some young girls traveling by themselves stood and cried not knowing what to do.

All of my life I have been told that Jesus is coming again and soon.  His return and our trip to be with Him seems to be delayed.  However, one thing we can be sure of is the trip will never be cancelled.  We will not be left holding a useless ticket.  In John 14 Jesus promised to come again and take us to His Father’s house.  That promise is still good.  And while we might think He has delayed, His disciple Peter addressed the issue for us in his second letter. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”   Unlike JetBlue which didn’t fly last night because it couldn’t put together a crew, Jesus has His crew.  He longs to come.  But He continues to wait because of His longsuffering.  It is just that He doesn’t want to leave someone on the outside.

Frankly, I don’t know how He will ever resolve the problem of His love.  But He will.  Peter goes on to say, “The day of the Lord will come.”   Of this we can be sure because He never ever breaks a promise.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 30, 2010

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


Birds and an Old Wooden Bear

We have this old wooden bear standing near our bird feeder.  It stands on its hind legs.  Knowing that our grandchildren would be here during the holidays, my wife put an old hooded coat on the bear.  Sure enough the birds quickly became used to the coat and continued to feed from the bear’s wooden paws.  Now comes the neat part.  One by one our grandchildren put on the old hooded coat and stood in front of the wooden bear. The birds seemed a bit cautious, something was different; never-the-less juncos, titmice and chickadees came and fed from the children’s hands. It was an exciting moment.

Birds are not the only creatures that can be conditioned.  Humans are especially prone to conditioning. It doesn’t take us long to change our behaviors, our sense of fashion, style and speech.  If we are told, enough times, that something is beautiful, we actually begin to think it is beautiful.  Many of us pride ourselves on being independent thinkers, but the truth is we are not as independent as we suppose.  Paul certainly understood this and thus warned us in Romans 12 not to be conformed to the world.  Ever so slowly our sense of right and wrong, our sense of decency, our moral code is modified.  Psalm 1:1 encourages us not to walk by, stand by and ultimately sit down in sinful places and ways.

The way to guard against such change is to continually focus on our benchmark – Scripture.  If we daily feed our minds on the purity of God’s Word we can perceive the lower standards about us.   However, should we fail to keep our eye on the benchmark, we will change.  It is our nature to do so.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 29, 2010

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



A Box of Godiva Chocolates

We received a box of Godiva chocolates for Christmas. They are an indulgent luxury one should never buy for oneself.  That being one of my core beliefs means I can only have a Godiva chocolate when given one.  This is the second time in my life. At that rate I shall never have another.  Forest Gump’s mother must have never had a Godiva chocolate because they come with a map.  She would have discovered life is not like a Godiva chocolate because if you read the map you do know what you are going to get.  She ate the cheap kind.  She didn’t know what life was going to bring.

As I sit here looking at the gold colored paper box it suddenly occurred to me that a life without Jesus is like the cheap stuff.  You don’t know what’s coming. It’s a life without a map.  A life with Jesus is a life with a map.  While the map doesn’t show us all the bumps in the road it definitely reveals our destination.  When I bite into a Godiva chocolate I know what to expect, except the reality is better than the anticipation.  Once again this is like a life in Christ.  We know what we will receive – eternal life. The reality will be so much better than the anticipation.   I wonder if Godiva ever considered I Corinthians 2:9 as a motto.  “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard.”  Well, that really is an overstatement regarding candy.  But it definitely is no overstatement for the wonders and glory awaiting those who accept the gift of God’s grace.

While I cannot promise you a bumpless journey I can with all assurance promise you a safe and successful destination if you are trusting Jesus.

Written on December 28, 2010

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

Needing a Master

We are in the midst of what the weather people are calling a blizzard.  The wind has for over three hours been blowing over thirty five miles an hour and has been pelting the sides of our house with tiny ice crystals.  At some point our eighty pound black lab has to go outside.  When I open the door she puts her head outside and checks out the birds flocking to the feeder for food, but she is reluctant to venture forth.  No amount of telling her to go has worked.  But when I attach her leash she pushes past me to lead the way.  If I am going with her then it must be okay and out we go.

She reminds me of me.  I depend on the last words of Matthew 28 where Jesus promises to always be with us.  I really don’t want to go anywhere without my Master.  When I was small I learned to sing  “Anywhere He leads me I can safely go….  Anywhere without Him dearest joys would fade.”    When we are small we have our parents but as the years go by in the due course of time we lose them.   We become the big people. We become the security for our little ones.

Even though my dad has been gone for twenty-six years I still find myself impulsively wanting to call him and tell him about something that has happened in my life.  Then I remember that I can’t.  It is wonderful to know there is someone to call who is older, bigger, stronger and very interested in me.  Jesus is there.  So I call Him. Just as my dog seems to need a master so do I.   So do we.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 27, 2010

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



My Freebie

With the promise of many sunny 60 degree days ahead I decided it was time to wash the salt and crude off my car.  I pulled onto the track that would drag my car through a myriad of sprays and brushes.   Opening my window to pay the man I held out my arm with the money and he promptly hit me full in the face with a blast from his handheld sprayer.   Ouch – that stung!   So much for the friendly welcoming service promised on the sign out front.  I found my glasses on the passenger seat.  At least I was as clean as I wanted my car.  What amazed me is he still took my money.  At least I could have gotten a “freebie.”  However I think there is a limit to life’s freebies and I already got the one I wanted and needed.  I got John 3:16 because I believe.

Now that I have said that I do have to explain that just because it was free to me it was certainly not free to God and to the universe.   They watched the horrible ordeal as it moved from Gethsemane to the courts and finally to Golgotha.   At some point most of them stopped watching.  Who could watch such a scene?   I had a tough enough time watching Mel Gibson’s movie and I knew it was pretend.   What must it have been like when it was real?   No, it wasn’t free.

Yet for me it is free.  I have never been asked to sacrifice anything that was not in my best interest to shed.  God is like that.  If it’s good for us He wants us to keep it.  This is definitely good for us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 18, 2010

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


On Regifting

I’m sitting here this evening thinking about gifts.  It is difficult not to do so the eve before Christmas.  Did I remember everyone?  Did I get the right thing?  Will they like it or will they regift it?  That would be better than having it reside in the bottom of a drawer for the next twenty years.  Would they give it back?  Nobody does that; especially if it is extraordinarily valuable.

But that is not always true.  People do give back the most precious Gift they ever received.  Usually it is young people with little if any developed concept of time.  When we are children the seventy or eighty years we have ahead of us is an eternity.  When they accept the Gift of eternal life from Jesus there is little difference between that Gift and what they already have.   Somewhere along the journey, perhaps in their twenties they give back the gift without a thought.  It just happens as they get busy with life and careers and families.  Life becomes too full for their relationship with Jesus.  Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder.  It makes the heart forget.  Hopefully in a few decades when mortality becomes real they will reaccept the Gift.  How grand that it is always there.  God never goes away.  It’s us that go away.

I have always wanted to regift salvation.  Of course I wanted to give it away and yet still keep it.  I wondered if there was anyone I would regift it to and NOT retain it.  Jesus asked, “What would a man give in exchange for His soul?”   For me the answer is simple.  My wife – my children – my grandchildren.  How amazing that Jesus gave it away for His enemies!!

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 24, 2010

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



Our California children arrived late last night.  Hooray.  This afternoon in the midst of a real New England snowstorm we cut down our Christmas tree.  It was perfect.  The weather was perfect.  The tree was perfect and the company was perfect.  We put the tree in the garage to let the snow melt off before bringing it into the house.  On the way out the door to go to the grocery store my wife asked me to make a fresh cut on the bottom of the tree.  Now I must admit I was puzzled by this because we had just cut down the tree.  I made a feeble objection but I knew better.  While she was gone I made another fresh cut.  My son started to clean up the sawdust.  “No,” I explained. “Leave the evidence.”  I was feeling smug. When she came home she pulled the car into the garage over top of the sawdust. Can you believe it?  There was now no visible evidence to prove my compliance. So much for being a good guy.

Sometimes I obey God because I want His approval.   That is really silly.  If we have made Jesus our Lord we already have His approval.   God doesn’t want our obedience so He can declare us “Good Guys.”   He wants our obedience because obedience leads to the abundant life He desires for us.  Being good brings its own rewards just as being bad ultimately brings grief.   We actually leave evidence all over the place.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”   It’s very hard to hide the evidence when there are piles of it all around.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 23, 2010

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

Don’t Do Anything Stupid

In 1971 William Hall of Shrewsbury, England killed himself by drilling eight holes in his head with a power drill.  I know that’s a pretty gruesome way to begin this devotional.  However, the significant fact to note is that he drilled seven holes in his head and was still alive.  I could not help but think of a conversation I had with a college student.  He was convinced that some of God’s commands were really quite unreasonable.  He boasted that he had broken nine of them and was doing fine.  He hadn’t killed anyone.  He totally rejected my argument that God’s laws were made to protect us from ourselves and others.  I wish I had known about William Hall when I talked with my student.  Mr. Hall is a great illustration of the truth that you cannot continue to do something really stupid before it kills you.  One might get lucky for a few times but not for always.

The truth is God’s commands do make good sense.  God isn’t trying to deprive us of anything good.  Notice I said “good.”   God is trying to deprive us of heartbreak, pain, jail, ruined relationships, etc.   If it’s good for us God wants us to enjoy it in moderation.  No going off the deep end on good things.  Too much of anything is ultimately bad.  You can even go to church too much.

I figure this is a good time of the year to talk about Mr. Hall considering the fact that many of you have eggnog in your refrigerator, sugar cookies on the table, and boxes of See’s Candy given to you as presents.  Just because you over ate last year and got away with it doesn’t mean you can do it this year!

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 22, 2010

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