Light Coming Out of Our Mouths

Mandy, the family’s precious black lab, bounded into the house and startled everyone with the sight of light coming out of her mouth.  It was amazing.  She had real light originating from her mouth.  It was really spooky, but just as suddenly she dashed outside again but this time with the family close behind.  After all this was just too weird.  What they saw next was amazing.  She was running around the yard snapping at fireflies and catching them.  The light was the phosphorescent material left on her teeth from her strange activity.

Light coming out of someone’s mouth is a fascinating idea.  That is exactly what happened when Jesus was here.  The things He said.  The sermons He preached. The stories He told all enlightened the world.  He was the light of the world.  He told us how much the Father cares.  He told us we can live forever if we will only accept His gift.

And we can do just what Jesus did.  Light can come from our mouths.  We can tell the world the Good News.  Just think: light coming out of our mouths!

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 30, 2002

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

On James 3

Humor brings laughter, lightness and joy into our daily lives.  Often times it relieves a tense situation and puts people at ease.  Whenever a new semester begins students who do not know me are often a bit defensive and fearful.  A big smile and a lighthearted remark made about something other than them often put them at ease.

However I have discovered humor does not always successfully cross cultures. Three weeks ago a crew of Vietnamese men stopped and asked if they could dewinterize my yard.  There was a mountain of last fall’s now sodden leaves blanketing everything.  I jumped at the opportunity not to have to do it myself.  They did a great job.  When we walked about afterwards I was so pleased.  It was then that I made an errant attempt at humor.  There was one leaf.  I mean one leaf left in a corner.  I pointed at it and said, “Oh, no. A leaf!  There is a leaf!”   The poor man was crushed. I was joking.  He was humiliated that he had not gotten every last one. You would have thought I had pierced his heart with a sword.  He rushed to pick it up and a flood of apologies flowed from him.  So much for being lighthearted.  It was then my turn at apologizing.

I found myself wondering how many conflicts have begun because of misunderstandings.  How many heartfelt attempts at goodness have been misjudged?   More than once I have had to apologize to a student because of some thoughtless remark.  And often it just pops out without forethought.

The key is to be quick to apologize.  James 3 is a great chapter to read at least once a year.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 29, 2010

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


A Bedraggled Cardinal

In the midst of a torrential downpour I looked out the window and saw the most bedraggled looking bird at our feeder.  It took me a moment to recognize that it was a male cardinal.  He was so soaked you could barely identify what is usually the most beautiful bird in the neighborhood.  What was he doing?  Why had he not taken shelter like the other birds?  He filled his beak and was off through an incredibly storm.  Having a hunch I raced to the other side of the house where we can view a very active cardinal nest. Sure enough mom was covering the chicks as he swooped in with food.  His family needed him.

When I was small my father was a school teacher.  He would come home from the classroom and sleep until 10:00 pm and then go to work in the steel mills of Pennsylvania from 11 to 7.  He would come home in the morning, change clothes and go to his classroom.  He did that for years.   My mom, my sisters and I were well cared for.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” That soaked male cardinal reminded me of my dad.  My dad reminded me of Matthew 7:11.   Jesus was so right.  Why should we fret and worry?  We are loved.  We are cared for.  And should things get difficult there is always a better tomorrow.

He cares for the birds that usually take shelter in a storm.  He will always care for you and me.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 28, 2010

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


Bragging Rights

And we thought the Hubble Telescope in orbit around the earth was the best. Think again.   Ready for viewing deep space objects ten times sharper than what Hubble can do will be the Magellan Telescope, which will use seven 8.4-meter mirrors arranged into a pattern of six around one with an effective aperture of 24.5 meters. We are just six years away from completion.  Astronomers tell us we will actually see planets in other solar systems.  We will see the end of the universe.  But how can that be?  The universe has no end.  I think it is time to brag.  My Father and your Father owns it all.  No, not the 600 million dollar telescope, the universe!

Since humility is part of a Christian character and it is not becoming to brag about ourselves, even though we are princes and princesses of the universe, let’s brag about our Father.  Our Father knows everything.  Our Father has been everywhere, well, actually He is everywhere.  Our Father can do anything.  Wait a moment.  No He can’t.  There are things God cannot do. He cannot tell a lie.  He cannot cause harm.  He cannot violate the righteousness of His character.   Some of you are probably thinking, “No, He can, but He will not.”   No, He can’t.  Having the power does not mean He can.  He is governed by His own integrity. He is integrity personified.

And it is integrity that He wants to infuse into us.  Once that happens we then will be safe to roam the vastness of His universe because we will do so without taking harm with us.  The way we are now, we are so harmful.  That has to go. It will go. I Corinthians 15 promises, “This corruption will put on incorruption.”  How grand that will be.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 27, 2010

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


Extraterrestrial Beings

According to the Associated Press, “British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says aliens are out there, but it could be too dangerous for humans tointeract with extraterrestrial life.”   When we contemplate the vastness of the universe and its billions of galaxies, each of which contain billions of suns, it would be foolish and egocentric to conclude we are alone.  In Hebrews 1 we read that Jesus is the creator of worlds.  Please note the plural.  If we could it would be amazingly dangerous to physically interact with them.  There are several issues, the largest of which is our human tendency to shoot first and ask questions later.  We would be a great source of harm to them.  We can also add to the danger that their bodies and our bodies would have no immunity to each other’s bacteria.  Note what happened to North American natives who came into contact with Europeans.  The result of mere contact was devastating to them.

While we have never had contact with beings from other worlds we are in continual contact with beings from heaven. The Bible speaks over and over of our contact with angels.  Actually there are over one thousand Biblical references to angels.  Angels are extraterrestrial life and come to us all the time.  Apparently we are no physical danger to them.   They are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14) sent to announce heaven’s intentions (Luke 1) and to sometimes protect us from harm.   Psalm 91:11, “He shall give His angels charge over thee.”   One of my favorite stories is about the morning Elisha’s home was surrounded by angels.

Dr. Hawking is correct.  Yes, they are there.  But I am sure angels are not the kind of extraterrestrial life to which he was referring.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 26, 2010

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


Triple Stuff

I am sitting here with a double stuff cookie in my hand.  Is it me or is double stuff now 1.5 stuff?  Single stuff seems to be ¾ stuff.   In order to get a double stuff do we need to purchase triple stuff?  Maybe it is merely the impression of a mind that remembers things bigger and better than they really were. Rarely are things bigger than they were when we were small and so very wowable.

It becomes more and more difficult to be wowed as we mature.  I don’t want to lose my wowability.  I still want reverentness to overwhelm me and to be filled with awe at things beautiful and lovely.  Our egalitarian culture encourages us to call everyone by their first name but there is something special in calling someone Sir or Mrs. or Mr. President. I do not want all things reduced to me.  How sorry I feel for a person who doesn’t believe in God.  The highest power he or she ever encounters is in the mirror each morning.  What an impoverished intellectual life that must be.

Unlike the size of things growing smaller as we age there are many things that grow in depth.   Frost, Shakespeare, Paul, Luther, and David are but a sample of the richness of understanding that comes with years.  Only in recent years have I understood that John 14, “In my house are many rooms . . .” has little to do with fancy buildings.

Surely eternity will always be about bigger and better and never smaller. However, the real joy will always be about depth, profundity and love.  Now that will be quite grand.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 25, 2011

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


On Faultfinding

I enjoy the letters to the editors of news magazines.  First come the pro letters followed by the cons.  It doesn’t take a genius to soon realize that it is not only possible but plausible to believe nothing anyone ever does is criticism proof.  One man’s dish of ice cream is another man’s poison and people aren’t reluctant to tell you about it.  If one is a public figure one inherits an instant hate club.  It doesn’t matter what one does; there is a way to negatively spin it.  This, of course, is not new.  Have you ever read the stuff our founding fathers wrote about each other?  It’s downright modern trash and teaches us there is, as Solomon said, “Nothing new under the sun.”

If people had been watching God create the earth some would have applauded while others complained that it took too long.  Seven days!  Really now.  What a waste of time.  He should have done it in a day.  Can you imagine God allowing Jesus to be born in a stable?  Come on – that is so degrading.  And why did Jesus allow Mary and Martha to suffer the death of Lazarus?   He really should have hurried to Bethany and spared them the pain.  Obviously we could go on and on.

I think some people just love to find fault.  As a psychology teacher I wonder if it compensates for their lack of self-esteem by keeping them focused on other people’s supposed faults.  But what do I know?  I can imagine my students have a huge litany of my shortcomings.  What is more than a little bit scary about all this is I hear this stuff from Christians and I wonder if they really are.  But there I go becoming one of them.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 13, 2011

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


Collateral Benefits

With great regularity my wife comes up with terrific ideas.  It’s nice to live with her because I often take the credit for the good things that result from her brilliance.  Here’s one of MY latest really bright ideas. Our new puppy Annie walks about the house looking for things to chew.   We supplied her with lots of chewy stuff but noticed the novelty of each new item soon wanes and she is off looking for something else.  MY new idea is to put the chewy items in the bag with her food.  They soak up the flavor and are then received with great unwaning interest.

Very early on in life I learned the value of surrounding one’s self with people who are smarter than I am.  My wife is smarter than I.  Thus we had children who are smarter than I.  I really don’t mind being the dumbest person in the family because of the collateral benefits I then receive.  It also works with friends.  I must say I have many really brilliant friends. They are fun to be around because they are witty and kind enough to laugh at my often poor attempts at humor.   Once again I benefit.

This idea also works in my spiritual life.  Some people are easily influenced by those about them.  I think I am one of those easily influenced because I note how quickly my conversation degrades or elevates depending upon the moral tone of those about me.  I’m a better person when I am with good people.  I can be pretty seedy when with those whose conversation focuses on base things.   If you are like me and have a malleable character, make it better by spending time with good people, smart people and best of all, spend time each day with Jesus and His word. You will be so pleased the result.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 23, 2010

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


What’s The Matter with Us?

It’s spring time on the east coast and one of the most wonderfully obnoxious of all plants has once again sprouted fresh new leaves.  I speak of POISON IVY.   As I am writing to you I am looking at my right hand all puffy and itchy.  My hand looks like I am wearing an inflated rubber glove.  One of my nursing students asked if I was retaining fluid and my answer was, “Only in spots.”

In II Timothy 4:3 Paul speaks of “itching ears.”   While he was not speaking of the fruit of exposure to poison ivy, he was speaking of something far worse.  He was talking about our seeming hunger to listen to pass on poisonous stories.   We seem to crave hearing the worst about someone or something.  If there is a bad story we seem quick to listen and pass it on as truth without any verification.  In Paul’s time gossip was passed on by whispering in someone’s ear.   Today via electronics we can prodigiously spread vicious tales.  We are literally capable of inflicting pain, chaos and untruths in gigantic proportions. Very few of us seem to be immune.  I know I am guilty.  As soon as I hear something juicy, I rush down the hall to pass it on to my colleagues.   What is the matter with us?  We almost seem to delight in hearing bad news, even when it is so preposterous it can’t be true.

Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:8 that we should think about things of “good report.”   I’m sure all of us would agree that is what we should do, but good stories rarely tantalize and satisfy our itchy ears as much as something sensationally scandalous.   What is the matter with us?

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 22, 2010

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


“Whole Lotta Shaken Going On”

Almost everywhere I go these days there are containers dispensing hand sanitizer.  I see them in schools and offices and this weekend I noticed one in the lobby of my church.  It’s a good idea considering how often we shake hands with others.  It really is surprising how healthy most of us are considering that people cough and sneeze into their hands and then shake our hands.

Shaking hands is a very old custom crossings many cultures.  Last evening I noticed the following in Galatians 2:9, “James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.”  Martin Luther once refused to shake hands with Zwingli because Zwingli believed the Lord’s Supper was only a memorial. And John Wesley refused to shake hands with George Whitefield because they disagreed over the doctrine of election.  It is interesting how passionate we can be over our beliefs.  I won’t mention politics other than to say I know a Republican who won’t shake hands with a Democrat.  Ouch.

If you want an interesting topic to occupy your time look up variations of the word “shake” in a concordance.   You will find hands shaking, heads being shaken, the heavens and the earth shaking, fruit trees shaken, knees shaking, minds shaken and of course the whole room was shaken when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost.   Jesus even told His disciples to shake the dust off their feet if they were not welcomed where and when they tried to share the Good News.

I have often thought about shaking Jesus’ nail scared hands.  I do think He will extend them to us, but I think the sight will be too overwhelming for me to reach out and touch them.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 20, 2010

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