His Eye Is on the Chickadee

The storm really took its toll on the little fellow.  Who knows where he was blown in from or perhaps he was a local who didn’t find good shelter.  We spotted him this afternoon looking ragged and exhausted.  Chickadees usually looked prim and proper but not this little guy.  He sat on a railing looking like he had just finished a marathon.  This evening he decided to spend the night by a large dish of water we keep on the ground for the birds.  He had tucked his head under his wing and became the perfect meal for any nocturnal hunter looking for a snack.  My wife went over and picked him up.  As he awakened in her hand he put up a major fuss.  How dare she interrupt his dreams!  Ever so gently he was placed up on a safe branch.

His squawking reminded me of us when God sometimes has to move us to a safer place.  Getting us to change isn’t always easy and sometimes we go kicking and screaming; yelling at Him for disturbing our perceived comfort.  When we put ourselves in His hands we then need to trust what happens next.  “In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?” Psalm 11  And where is our mountain?  “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.” Psalm 48 Often from our point of view the change doesn’t look so good.  But should we see our life from His vantage point we would never want it any other way than His way.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 31, 2011

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



To Be Infectious

We had an interesting experience today at Denny’s.  While waiting for our order we watched a server prepare a table for the next customer.  First she cleared off the dishes and then she very carefully wiped the seats.  Following that she then wiped off the table using the same cloth she had used to wipe off the seats.  At least it looked clean.  But wait.  It gets better.  The next customer to use that table had really nasty looking sores on his elbows and I’m sure you know what happened.  He sat down and promptly put his elbows on the table.   I am amazed we are as healthy as we are.  The human body does a great job in fending off all manner of germs.

As I watched the man with the nasty looking elbows I found myself wishing that it would be as easy to spread the Gospel as it is to spread germs.  That really is a horrible analogy.  The Gospel is the best thing ever and I shouldn’t even put it in the same sentence with germs.  One brings health and never ending life while the other brings misery, suffering and death.  But wouldn’t it be grand if we could sneeze and spread the Good News like we spray colds and the flu?

I have always wanted to be an infectious Christian.  Yawning is infectious. A few good yawns in a classroom will produce more.  A good smile usually produces more smiles.  Kindness usually begets more kindness.  Those, of course, are merely human behaviors.  What I really desire is something much more substantive.  I long for people to understand just how self-sacrificing and wonderful God is.  That’s a much more difficult task.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 30, 2011

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



Sometimes I’m an Idiot

I have a good friend who is being baptized this weekend.  It’s an exciting event when a person makes a conscious decision to make Jesus the Lord of their life.  To celebrate one of the pastors at the church invited us all to her home for dinner.   We gladly accepted.  Then we found out my friend’s family also wanted to celebrate so he couldn’t be at the pastor’s home.  So I called and uninvited myself by saying, “The only reason we were coming was to be with my friend.”  Now just how stupid was that!  As the words flowed from my mouth I realized I was an idiot.  “The only reason was .”   That was amazingly insensitive. It wasn’t even true.  I really enjoy the pastor’s company.  She is bright, quick, witty and a joy to be around.  But no, I had to say the “only” reason I was coming was for my other friend.  She was so kind.  She should have said, “You jerk.  I’ll never have you over again.”   She didn’t.  Graciously she spoke about another time.

So how often does our mouth work without having our brain in gear?   At least on this occasion I heard myself.   What I am guessing is I most likely do it every day without realizing it.  It is a lesson to me not to be so quick to think other people are jerks when they say something stupid. Looking in the mirror is a very good reason not to be harsh with others and to give people the benefit of the doubt.

I haven’t apologized yet but I am going to do so just as soon as I finish writing this confession of my stupidity.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 20, 2010

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



There Is Unique

When my older son was about twelve months old I was holding him on my lap as together we gazed out upon an African landscape from a high rocky point.  As I pointed out things to him I remember thinking I shouldn’t have any more children because every bit of love I was capable of generating was centered in that boy.  I didn’t understand until the next son sat on my lap.  Then I realized I had a whole new reservoir of love.

Years ago someone ignorantly asked me which son was my favorite.  Which son did I love the most?  There is no most.  There is no equal.  Each love experience is so unique it is impossible to measure or compare.  Uniqueness is the key to understanding. As they are different so my love for them is different.

One of the most horrifying movies I have ever seen is Sophie’s Choice, where in order to save one son the Nazis forced her to choose.  If she did not choose they would kill both.  It has been years since I have seen that but just thinking about it still rings my heart with horrific pain.  It would be the ultimate hell.

And so it is that our Father God loves billions.  There is a huge and natural temptation for each church, group, nation, denomination, race, etc.to think they are God’s favorites.  To even think such is an indication they have yet to comprehend Jesus telling us to begin our prayers with “Our Father.”  Just as you are a unique being so is His love for you unique.There is no more or less.  There is no better or worse.  There are no favorites.  There is unique.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 28, 2008

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



“Start the Car”

Some of you may have seen the television commercial that features a woman running from a store yelling, “Start the car.  Start the car.”   She got such a great bargain inside that store she thought she had just robbed the place.   Sometimes after I read Ephesians 2 I feel like yelling, “Start the car.”  Paul tells us we have received eternal life and it is absolutely free.  Really there cannot be such a deal.  It is too good to be true.  Ah, but it is true.  This is what Paul says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: . .” The whole thing gets even better when we take note of the verses prior to this. “He has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

It is why He does this that is so astounding.  He wants to spend eternity showering us with riches.  By riches we are not talking about jewels and precious metals.  Things like that are only valuable if they are rare.  They will not be rare there.  Instead we are talking about growth.  We are talking about intellectual powers and assimilation into the likeness of God Himself.

While it is true we cannot steal it, I still think somewhere ages and ages hence if you hear someone shouting, “Start the car” it will be me.  You can just smile and say, “Roger’s at it again.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 26, 2008

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


My New Glasses

I got a new pair of glasses.  They are old-people glasses.  Old-people glasses used to be bi or trifocals with the lines but now we get progressive lenses.  No lines.  The only people who now get glasses with lines are the trendy people.  My old-people glasses are ones with some anti-glare treatment.  When cars come at me after dark their headlights don’t flare all over the place.

Little by little I am making the transition to being old.  I now take Centrum Silver so I can ride my bicycle with the wind blowing through my hair (oops – no hair left) as I laugh at whoever knows that.  I love getting my senior citizen discount. I ask for it everywhere I go.  I wonder if God will give me a discount on tithe and I only need return nine percent.  I need to start putting my stuff up on ebay.com. Now that our little college, Atlantic Union College, will not be  opening this fall, I can spend snowbound winter days selling things on line.  However, I’m not sure who would want an old clock with an inscription        “A+ Professor.” I got it from a student.  (Sorry about that.  Had to brag.)

Life is such an adventure. The trouble with selling stuff is each item has a story.  It’s like selling one’s life to strangers. Three score and ten isn’t very long.  But I have a feeling that if we had thirty score and ten it would still not be enough.  What a thrill it is to read John 3:16.  If we believe we will never perish but have everlasting life. What a thrill it is to know Jesus and know this is just a prelude.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 25, 2011

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



The Glow of Happiness

They were both wearing wedding rings so I am going to believe they were married to each other.   What cast just a hint of suspicion was the way they acted.  They were sitting at a restaurant table talking to each other and laughing.  That’s not normal.  Normal married people at a restaurant don’t talk to each other.  Usually each is too busy texting someone else.  There was something else abnormal about this couple.  She was all dolled up with makeup and jewelry with freshly quaffed dyed hair.  Oh, there was one more thing.  I think they were both ninety. You could tell by the way he looked at her that he thought she was beautiful.  And you could tell by the expression on her face that she knew he thought she was beautiful.  You just have to love a woman who never gives up; no matter how old.  Maybe she keeps trying because she knows he loves her efforts.

The Song of Solomon is quite a book.  It has entertained a lot of boys sitting through dull sermons.  Some people have tried to justify its presence in Scripture as a metaphor of Christ and His bride, His church.  I really don’t think so but I could be very wrong.  I am wrong about much.  However, it is true that God does think we are beautiful.  Love is blind; even for God.  Most likely it is because He knows what we will be.  We are bundles of potentiality.  In Revelation we are portrayed as the bride for Christ and have you ever seen a bride that isn’t beautiful? It isn’t about the shape of a nose or cheekbones.  It is the glow of happiness.  That’s what I saw in the elderly lady in the restaurant.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 22, 2014

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



A Great Tithe Story

I just love good tithe stories, especially when they happen to me.  When we were young and poor they were easy to see.  God promises in Malachi 4 that He will be faithful with us if we are faithful with Him.  Even now His blessings are spectacular.  This past Friday afternoon while strolling through a mall in Philadelphia I realized my navy blue blazer was not going to look very good in church.  I have lost about thirty pounds and I look like a little kid putting on his father’s clothes.  So when I saw a men’s clothing store in I went.  Much to my horror they wanted $500 for a blazer.  That wasn’t for me.

So off we went to Sears.  Upon entering we discovered they had one blazer – just one.  It was my new size.  It had been $150 but was marked down to $40.00, lest than a tenth of the other.  Now I know what you are thinking.  Cheap quality.  No – it really is very nice. When I took it to the counter the man asked if I had a Sears card. “No,” I responded, “I don’t want another credit card.”  “Well,” he said, “how about I take $35.00 off this blazer if you get one?”  I wasn’t a math major in college but I quickly figured out this one.  $5.00!  I asked if I waited until tomorrow would he pay me to take it.  So there is my tithe story.  I got my blazer for 1/100th of what they wanted across the mall.

There is no question that we are watched over, cared for and guaranteed a future beyond imagination.  Join me – please – accept the Gift.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 21, 2012

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


Heaven Starts Now

There are certain things so good they are beyond adjectives.  On this very warm August evening I have just consumed an Orange Creamsicle. Our family used to call them Dreamsicles. Not only was it delicious on my tongue it was even more so in my mind.  I was five-years-old again sitting with my father on the front steps of our house.  I remember slowly licking away the orange outer layer trying to make it last as long as I could.  My dad was eating a Fudgsicle. We were in heaven.

Heaven is not so much a place as it is a state of mind.  We drove past a church today that had a sign over its front door that said, “Gateway to heaven.”  My first thought was there must be a lot of really nice people who worship there.   Making a place heaven doesn’t really have to be very difficult.  It is merely treating people the way you want to be treated.

This afternoon at a church picnic I saw one of our smaller members wearing a Minnesota Vikings t-shirt.  “Hey,” I said, “You are in Patriot’s country.”  Even though he is a little guy I know him well enough to know he would not be intimidated by me.  “My mom likes the Vikings,” he said.  So I responded. “The next time I see you I am going to give you a Patriot’s shirt.”  “Really,” he beamed as he hurried over for me to check his shirt size.   You can be sure I have a big note on my desk.  That is a promise I will make sure to keep.

Heaven isn’t about winning the lottery.  Heaven is about being with people who care about you.  Heaven starts now not sometime in the future.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 22, 2011

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


The Key to Being Ready

Recently I sat through a thirty minute sermon admonishing us to be ready for Jesus to come.  I kept waiting for the speaker to tell us what we had to do to be ready.  If I am going to be told to do something I want to be told how to do it.  However, he never did.  He inferred it had something to do with our diets, both physical and mental.  While I do not want to put down on the importance of both of those arenas, they are extremely important for physical and mental health, which are of essential importance for living the abundant life, they are not the key ingredient to being ready for Jesus to come.

The key to being ready is to recognize our total need for grace and to accept His gift.  Paul is very clear about this in Ephesians 2.  He wrote, God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Paul presses the issue even harder in Galatians 5. There he says we actually fall from grace the moment we alter God’s plan by adding any other requirement other than grace.  It is difficult for us.  Our pride wants so badly to contribute something other than a receptive heart.  However, that is all we can do.  It is the key to being ready.  The speaker was correct.  We do need to be ready.  Just tell us the simple truth regarding how wonderful is His grace.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 8, 2011

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