For the Beauty of the Earth

The words to the familiar hymn begin, “For the beauty of the earth,….”  Those words create a mental slide show of snow-capped mountains, flower filled meadows, pastel sunsets, rainy mornings and snowy evenings.  The beauty of the earth is all of the above, but it is also the mathematical precision of an atom, the double helix of DNA, the infinity of numbers, the curve of a normal distribution and the tenacity of life.  Our heliocentric solar system with its balance of gravity and distance that enables us to safely fall in yearly cycles dazzles the mind.  Einstein’s theory of relativity, Feynman’s quantum physics and Sagan’s cosmos are layers of beauty unfolding a depth of artistry far beyond the hand of Michelangelo.

In Ecclesiastes 3:11 Solomon wrote, “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  All this beauty that surrounds us is the handiwork of the creative artistry of our heavenly Father.  And He has created us to see, taste, feel, hear, and fathom this beauty.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 31, 2000

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

Green Light

The traffic light turned green and the driver pulled out to make a left hand turn.  Just then another car appeared coming from the left at about 50 miles an hour.  It never slowed for the red light. Fortunately, there was no collision.  The driver of the other cars entering the intersection saw the speeding car and waited. But an assumption had been made by the driver of the first car; the light was green, and it was safe to go.   It is so easy to become complacent and let down one’s guard.  We assume life will go on the way it is supposed to.  We are not always careful.

Fifty times in the New International Version of the Bible we find the expression “be careful.”  There are some rather interesting verses connected with this phrase. Just one is found in Titus 3:8,9.  It says, “…those who have trusted in God should be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.  Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”

Written by Roger Bothwell in July 2000

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


Cherry Pickers

Standing in front of a tempting display of freshly picked cherries was a very classy looking gentleman and lady.  They appeared to be about sixty and were well dressed.  His clothes were impeccable, and she was well appointed with expensive appearing jewelry.  They were filling a plastic bag with cherries and were literally feasting while doing so.  Even more amazing, after eating the not-yet-weighed-or-paid-for fruit, they spit the pits back into the display.  It was truly an amazing display of thoughtlessness for others.

These people were someone’s parents, somebody’s grandma and grandpa, most likely someone’s employer.  And they were behaving like small children.  Now, true, Jesus tells us we must become as little children if we are to enter the kingdom, but surely this was not what he had in mind when he said that.

Being thoughtful of others.  Thinking before we act and using our talents, resources, and gifts for others is what makes society work.  Peter once said in 1Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others….”

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 29, 2000

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


There is in central Connecticut an absolutely lovely little town that takes one’s breath away because of its quaint beauty.  The houses date back to the 1700’s and the lawns are expansive.  Giant trees shade the streets and the town square is out of a picture book.  There is an ice cream shop on one corner with an antique store close by.  A used bookstore filled with musty tomes beckons one to enter in search of treasure.  The village square has a bronze monument with the names of townsmen who gave their lives in wars dating clear back to the revolution against Great Britain.  An old canon sits on a concrete pedestal and is worn from the trousers of thousands of children who have sat astride its massive girth.

Inside the antique store are some of the most amazing prices!  Simple small night stands, chairs and desks with thousand dollar price tags.  And according to the proprietor, none of these pieces of furniture had been previously owned by some famous American like George Washington or Alexander Hamilton.  You don’tsuppose this proprietor simply drove to Vermont, bought the items for twenty-five dollars and then brought them back to his up-scale Connecticut store?

But then God put a horrendous price tag on us.  In the eyes of the angels we must look like we are worth twenty-five dollars, if that.   But obviously God thought differently.  For you and me He spent His only son.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 28, 2000

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

Not So Smart Anymore

A strange thing happens as the days go by; we know less and less.  Eighteen year olds know everything.  But as the days go by it is harder and harder to know something for sure.

Life is full of variables.  Things that at one time seemed to have a single cause now seem to have multiple causes.  Very few things seem to be because of one factor.  It is natural to want to simplify things by finding a cause.  There is the temptation to categorize people by putting them into little boxes with such names as sanguine or melancholy.  Or the temptation to explain people’s idiosyncrasies or annoying habits by attributing them to a troubled childhood or a neurological dysfunction.  The temptation to label.

Is anyone all good or all bad?  Don’t lots of really nice people have their imperfect moments?  Perhaps that is why Jesus says not to judge others.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 26, 2000

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

Snail Trails

Three days ago a snail crossed the driveway.  His slime trail is still there.  It is just like some people we know.  Everywhere they go they leave a trail.  They are the kind of people that impact your life.  Sometimes for good and unfortunately sometimes the opposite.  Sometimes they leave a happy pleasantness, and sometimes they leave slime.

Now of course we are the kind of people that always leave happy pleasantness.  It would be impossible for people as loveable and likeable as we to do anything else.  After all, don’t we always have other’s interests before our own?  Are we not always careful to guard our tongues so we only say things that elevate others?  Are we not generous with our assets so others who have little have more because they have met us?  Are we not careful never to pass on gossip?  Of course that’s the way we are.

We are not leavers of slime.  We are better than that; are we not?  Even as Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica he would write to us, “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 25, 2000

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

A Bright Red Truck

If I thought he was crotchety you should have seen her; gray, hunched over and making those shuffle steps unique with the aged.  What happened next was wonderful.  He opened the truck door for her as she crawled into the passenger’s seat.  Using the truck for balance and support he went around to the driver’s side and mounted himself behind the steering wheel of a bright red Dodge Ram 1500 with a Hemi.  The hood was scooped and ready to suck air.  The special mufflers rumbled as he pulled away leaving me a view of his chrome pipes.  It was magnificent!

Life only stops when we decide it is over.  I have known people in their fifties who pretty much stopped.  Obviously it wasn’t this elderly, I will not call them old, couple. I wondered if they were heading home for an evening of romance.  I wouldn’t doubt it.  Maybe it was a first date or perhaps a 5000th!

Life is a wonderful mystery that takes place in our minds.  As our senses pour data into its library we classify, sort and decide just what we are going to do with the data.  Some use it to reinforce bad memories and others use it to springboard ahead for the next adventure.  In John 10:10 Jesus told us He came to give us the abundant life.  That’s for now and the future.  He shares the secret of that abundance.  It is service and being inventive in hospitality.  The more ways we conceive for helping others are more ways for blessings to come our way.  Blessings are like tide.  They go out and shortly thereafter they come flooding back.  It’s a great system designed by the One who is Himself the source of all blessings.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 25, 2011

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


Feed Me

This evening one of my students told us about his five-month-old son with a voracious appetite.  Once he starts eating they cannot feed him fast enough.  As soon as the spoon nears his mouth he leans into it, sucks it down and immediately makes noises wanting more and more.  As he was telling us about his son I kept thinking about the lyrics “bread of heaven feed me till I want no more.”

Can we actually get enough so we would want no more?  As delicious as it is to feed at the feet of Jesus and soak in the promises and His word, I think the answer is yes.  We have limited capacity to absorb so much in a specified amount of time.  When I hear or read a marvelous new idea about Jesus, I need time to contemplate.  I need to stow it away in my mind and roll it around in the lobes inside my head.  Sometimes I stop at the perfume counter in a department store and spray a sample on my arm and then another on the other arm and another on the back of my hand and another on the back of the other hand.  At some point my nose says, “That’s enough. Stop it.”

But back to ideas, I do want another.  It is an endless process because our minds can never be full.  Just as we will live forever, our minds will forever soak up and retain great ideas.  The feeding at Jesus’ feet will be so much better than the bread and fish He fed the 5000.   That was physical.   What we are talking about is mental and spiritual.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 20, 2011

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


The restaurant supplied the jar of bubbles and the father provided the wind.   In a gentle stream soapy bubbles floated across the table toward the sweetest little girl.  As she reached for them a giant one settled safely on the back of her hand.  The rays of sunlight coming through the window polished its swirled reds and greens.  Expressing pure glee she reached out with her other hand to stroke it and bam it was gone.  It was so pretty and so ephemeral.

Jesus touched on this theme in the Sermon on the Mount.  He said, “See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:28-30

When we are 10 years old a year is a lifetime.  When we are 30 a year is a year.  When we are 50 a year is a month.   It does not take a Philadelphia lawyer to realize life is as ephemeral as a bubble sitting on the back of a little girl’s hand.  Bam it is gone!  And how did we live it?  Did we make provision for the main event?  At first I almost wrote “encore” but that was foolish.  An encore comes after the main event and for us the main event is yet to come.  Actually there never will be an encore because the curtain will never come down on the main event.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 21, 2011

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


My graduate class of middle school teachers told me the “in” word for this batch of adolescents is “Epic.”   It’s the “Cool” for now.  It can be used positively or negatively.   Someone can do something so good it’s “Epic” or something so bad it’s “Epic.”  On my way home from class I thought that surely the most “Epic” thing was when God said, “Let there be light.”   That was soon followed by the worst “Epic” event.  That was when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.  Paul describes it in Romans 5:19, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, . . .”  I am not one to disagree with Paul but he should have said, “all were made sinners.”  It was extremely “Epic.”  But then Paul continued on with, “so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” The greatest “Epic” ever had to be the Creator of the Universe being nailed to the cross by those sinners.

Each of us can make a personal list of “Epic” events and of course each would be as unique as we are unique.  My best one would be the first time I saw the girl that ultimately said, “Yes” to my proposal.  Wait a minute that was so long ago maybe I was the one who said, “Yes.”  No, I better leave it the way I first stated it.  Then of course my list includes the birth of my two incredible sons.  I know you can make a great list.

Now we await the next “Epic” event.  “Then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”  Mark 13:36

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 22, 2011

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