Pride Of Ownership

I grew up just north of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.  As a boy we spent many Sundays driving through Amish country.  I loved the farms and the Distelfink Hex signs on the barns. What I loved best were the horses.  Since the Amish didn’t drive cars one could tell how much pride they took in their horses.  I never saw an ill-cared-for horse.  Those were the days when most of the cars we saw were made in Detroit and model years were very distinctive. As we drove we would call out the make and year of cars coming toward us to see who got it first.  Just as we would shine the chrome on our 57 Chevy those horses were groomed to perfection.  There was a pride of ownership.

I grew up in a religious culture that pretty much labeled pride as sin.  Lucifer’s pride led to the first sin.  “Pride goeth before destruction.” Proverbs 16:18.   Yet I feel that someone needs to speak up for pride.  A man needs to feel proud of his family and his wife and his children.  I often tell my sons how very proud I am of them.  A person without personal pride often neglects grooming and often fails to achieve all that they can be.  A student who is proud of their grades will apply themselves and seek to do well to maintain that good GPA.   A congregation that isn’t proud of their church allows the paint to peel and weeds to take over the lawn. I don’t think we want to live in a country that didn’t make us feel proud.

The word “pride” like all words needs a careful definition.  It can mean having a proper sense of value and it can also mean being haughty and thinking we are better than others.  Like most things balance and perspective are so important.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 30, 2011

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


The city put a wooden sawhorse-like barricade over an indentation in our street with a yellow light that flashes at night.  The problem for the past three weeks is that the sawhorse-like barricade is lying on its side in the grass by the side of the street.   The light flashes but you have to be almost standing over it to see it.  It’s almost the light Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount.   That one you could stand over and not see.

The application here is overly obvious. We have heard it all our lives.  “We have to get out there and witness.”  The problem is “What do we mean by witnessing?”  When I was small that meant standing on a street corner handling out pamphlets and then watching people toss them as they continued on their way.  It meant being different by not eating certain foods when invited to someone’s home.  That one always missed me as to how that made other people want to know our Jesus.

Some have told us witnessing is being the nicest, kindest, most honest person in our workplace, neighborhood or school.  The fruit of that is people thinking you are the nicest, kindest, most honest person they have ever known.  But does it make them want to know our Jesus?  At some point it seems that we have to steer a conversation to a religious theme.  But that is as dangerous as being a liberal in a group of conservatives.  So how do we let our light shine?  How do we witness?  I have been to seminars trying to tell me how to do it but I have never been overly satisfied with the presentation.  We all can’t be Billy Graham.  So how?

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 29, 2011

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



Maturing Minds Want To Know

There are over 1.5 million geocaches and 5 million geocachers in the world.  Just in case you might not be familiar with it, it is basically a game where people hide things for other people to find.  Geographic coordinates are posted on a website and off you go for an adventure that can be as simple as finding a small container in a hole in a tree or as difficult as rappelling halfway down a cliff to find a plastic box in a crevice.  It runs the gambit of being fun for families or challenging for thrill seekers.


Late this afternoon we found one that required three attempts.  What was frustrating was the directions even told us it was beside a log and yet time and again we walked around and felt the very log with our hands to no avail.  Finally my wife dragged a stick along the ground and suddenly heard a metallic clunk from under a bed of pine needles.  There it was.  Time and again my fingers had been a half inch away and I never perceived its presence.


There is a book that I continually read over and over.  It is entitled The Desire of Ages, a biography of Jesus.  The reason I keep reading it is because each time I discover something my mind previously missed.  Suddenly something is there my brain failed to register in earlier readings.  It has a lot to do with life and experience.  Many things cannot be perceived if one isn’t yet ready.  Our minds are like that.  An artist can go to a museum and see a hundred things the rest of us don’t register.  We aren’t ready.  Reading Paul’s letters is like that.  Treasure after treasure keeps appearing.  There is no end to the maturing mind.


Written by Roger Bothwell on November 28, 2011

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


Christmas Shopping Has Begun

If advertising on television means anything it seems Christmas shopping has begun.  At least the merchants hope it has begun. When I was a little guy our evening newspaper did a Christmas shopping days countdown on the front page.  I loved it because as the numbers grew smaller Christmas grew closer. Anticipation was incredibly exciting.

In I Peter 1 we find the following wonder.  “Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven-and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all-life healed and whole.” *

Sometimes I think it would grand if we had a countdown to the day when we will have life healed and whole.  In a way we do have a countdown.  It’s called ageing.  Every birthday takes us a giant step forward.  We shouldn’t dread birthdays.  The promises are true.  We should have the same excited anticipation we had as children counting down days ’til Christmas.  Let’s start enjoying the brand-new life we have already received. The future starts now.

I remember my mother putting presents on layaway at a downtown department store.  Every two weeks she would ride the bus into the city to make payments on them.  The presents were ours.  She kept careful watch over them to make sure on December 24 all would be paid and she could bring them home. The future started when she started making those payments.  Our future began at the payment on the Cross.  There was only one payment.  It was \ enough for all the sins of the whole world.

*The Message Paraphrase

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 3, 2009

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


The Best Thanksgiving Table Ever

While hiking through the forest this morning, (No, we weren’t out looking to shoot a turkey.) my son and I suddenly found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of robins.  It was almost Hitchcockian.   Just in case you might have wondered where all the robins went this fall, they are in Leominster State Forest in Massachusetts.  There is no danger that they are about to become extinct.

However,  there are many endangered animals about to go extinct.  If you looked in the mirror today you might have seen one.   You are a very unique, special, one-of-a-kind creature.  You are a one time only, ever, combination of DNA.   There never was one like you and there never will be another.  Perhaps that’s one important reason why God values you so much. Might I go so far as to say He needs you?  If you are not eternally His, He will forever have an empty spot in His heart.

It is no wonder in Luke 15 Jesus speaks of the great rejoicing in heaven over the salvation of one soul.  Preparation has been made for everyone. Preparation has been made for you.  If you are not at the wedding feast mentioned by John in Revelation 19, there will be an empty seat at the table.  It will be a Thanksgiving table for all who are there, but, despite God’s happiness for the redeemed, He will forever grieve for those not there.

Of all the many things for which I am thankful this Thanksgiving Day, I am most thankful we have been granted the privilege of never becoming extinct.  We will forever grow more and more into the perfect likeness of the One who originally knelt in the grass of Eden and made our parents in His image.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 26, 2009

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94547


Being Rich

When we were little heaven was all about things.  Mansions, streets of gold, tame lions and tigers were the big thing.  As Paul says in I Corinthians 13 when I was a child I thought as a child.  But now that I am a man all those things seem very unnecessary.  Heaven is about family.  Heaven is about having one’s loved ones safe and having eternity to grow, intellectually, spiritually and creatively.  If I were given that I would be happy in a one room wooden shack with just one dog as my only animal. Actually I could do without the dog but it would be a nice touch.

Being rich is having enough.  The cup running over really isn’t necessary. The widow’s barrel that never went empty was being rich.  The little boy’s basket of bread and fish was being rich.  The widow of Nain getting her son back was being rich.  Even though Martha and Mary lived in the rich little town of Bethany I’m sure that didn’t matter when Lazarus died.  Then Jesus came.

Recently there has been a plethora of articles questioning the value of a college education.  If you are talking about the availability of job opportunities and the student loan debt, the value of a college education is questionable.  If one talks about exposure to ideas, great literature, a greater understanding of history, a vaster comprehension of human development, a broader grasp of the sciences and more discernment of human behavior then the question really is mute.

For Christians being rich is being forgiven, having an assurance of being once again with loved ones who are waiting for the resurrection and knowing that our future has no end because we are loved by the One who made it all.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 25, 2011

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


Brain Backup

A few years ago one of our church members lost his memory after a horrific motorcycle accident.  We were very hopeful it would return even if it was in small bits and pieces. It did not.  I could not understand how he remembered language.  He could still read and do math but did not know any of his family let alone those of us outside his immediate circle.  The selectiveness of what he knew puzzled me.

I remembered him this week while doing a backup of my computer’s hard drive.  Supposedly I will be able to restore my system and files if I have a crash.  I found myself wishing we could plug our brains into a little box that would store our personalities and our past for restoration in case of a crash.

Basically that is what God does for us.  In I Corinthians 15 Paul speaks of a resurrection and this mortal putting on immortality.  I really don’t think we much want our old bodies back.  Paul speaks of brand new eternal bodies with all our personalities and memories installed in a never dying brain.  That sounds pretty terrific.  I recently had an elementary student ask me if his head were traded with the head of the child sitting at the next desk, would he think the other child’s thoughts.  I assured him he would still only think his own thoughts.  Instead he would have a different body.

Our amazing God, who knows all, knows all our memories and as we age and forget He keeps them safe and secure for us.  So the next time you can’t remember a friend’s name, just relax, this too shall pass.  Old age and forgetfulness is a temporary condition.  How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 23, 2011

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



How Sweet It Is!

As my dog and I were finishing our evening walk and approached our home I suddenly became aware that I could smell our house about three houses away.  Lest I leave you with the wrong idea that we live in a pig sty allow me to explain.  Yesterday after over a week of work, a crew of house painters finished painting all the outside wood on the house.  Not only did the gallons of oil based paint beautifully cover the eaves, window frames and doors they also filled the atmosphere with their particular fragrance.  I like the smell and hope my neighbors don’t mind until it dissipates.

This is a good week for smells.  Lots of kitchens will be emanating wondrous aromas throughout homes as we get ready for Thursday’s feasts.  Stores are anticipating Black Friday and making sure we are greeted at the door with vanilla or cinnamon or lilac scents.  Smelling good things puts us in a good mood, and hopefully for the merchants, opens our wallets.

I have always imaged that Eden was filled with the fragrances of flowers and heaven will likewise be so scented.  When I go to church I often smell lots of aftershave lotions and perfumes.  That’s good because it compensates for the garlic lovers in our midst.

People have always loved to smell nice things.  When the Magi came to visit Jesus in Bethlehem they brought some very nice smelling gifts.  One of the best scents that God loves is described in II Corinthians 2:15.  “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved . . .” As Jackie Gleason used to say, “How sweet it is!”

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 23, 2011

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


Getting Past the “Duh”

My sister, who lived with us for many years, moved to California to be close to her children.  We have been forwarding her mail as we wait for others to get her new address.  Last week we forwarded to her a letter from Dreyfus.  When she received and opened it, the letter inside was an acknowledgment that they had her new address.  After I got over the “duh” moment I realized the logic.  They were checking to make sure someone had not, for fraudulent reasons, changed her address without her knowing.

So many times in life we jump to conclusions about the stupidity of what someone has done.  Usually it is because we don’t know the logic behind the action.  Because we have limited knowledge about what led up to a behavior we, thinking we are so intelligent, conclude the other person was stupid.  Only when we learn all the factors involved do we understand what the person did was the right thing to do.

When Jesus found his disciples on shore after a night of fishless fishing and he told them to cast their net over the side of the boat, I’m sure some of them must have thought, “That’s stupid. We fished all night and got nothing.”   Peter actually objected but finally did what he was told.  The Bible says, “When they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them.”

Even when we don’t understand what God asks us to do, the smart thing would be to do it.  He would never ask us to do something stupid.  We just don’t understand all that is involved.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 22, 2011

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

Blocking the Door

As my son and family were leaving the baggage area at Logan airport they were blocked at the door by a man on his cell phone.  Apparently he wasn’t coordinated enough to walk and talk at the same time.  Neither did he seem to be aware that others needed to get by.  Meanwhile others waiting in cars were being urged along by some very intimating state patrolmen.

Unfortunately sometimes we have people blocking the door to our churches.  I have seen well-meaning but poorly acting older people chase our teens away.  They are made to feel unwelcome because of their dress or jewelry or makeup.  Sometimes they are actually verbally assaulted that they are not representative of Christ by looking the way they look.  But really now, when one stops to think about it, what real harm occurs to anyone because someone else is experimenting and has purple hair?  They will grow up and not look like that for the rest of their lives.  Well, perhaps I should take that back.  I have seen older ladies with purplish hair.

Our churches should be places where anyone is welcome.  If a kid shows up with an arrow through his head and enough fake gold chains around his neck that he looks like Mr. T., who does that harm?   Better that they are with us in church than home watching television or playing video games.  Sometimes we excuse our behavior by saying we are holding up the standards.  What standard?   What about the standard of unconditional love.  What about the real sins of us older people?   I mean the vile ones we carry inside – the ones Jesus cares about.

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 19, 2011

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94547