Who Was That Masked Man?

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful with a brand new layer of eight inches of snow.  However, one of my most unfavorite persons is the city snowplower.  While our driveway has eight inches of soft fluffy snow the end of my driveway has what seems like a two to three foot wall of icy compacted cement.   But this Sunday morning was different.  When I opened my garage door our driveway with the Berlin Wall at the entrance was completely cleared.  There were tracks of a snowblower in the little snow that was left.  We have a secret Santa.  It is now Monday night and I still do not know who was this incredible gifter.  My wife says she saw someone with a scarf over his face.  Who was that masked man?  Recently I have become the recipient of many nice things.  After church this weekend I was offered a load of firewood.  He was not wearing a mask.

The news is so full of terror and horror it is easy to forget that our communities are filled with caring, generous people.  Brian Williams, the news anchor for NBC, finishes each evening’s broadcast featuring something good.  Last week as he closed he said, “The world is full of good people.  We just need to tell their stories.”   So I thought I should share two of them.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 31, 2012

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



Animal Crackers

I sat in church watching a small child eat a box of Animal Crackers.  I must confess I wish he had offered me one.  I remember being his size and wishing I could have had Animal Crackers.  I wasn’t allowed to eat in church.  It would have been possible to have had them.  They have been around that long.  Actually, my parents could have had them when they were small.  They have been around since 1902.   I wonder how many billions of those little crackers (actually more like a cookie) have been consumed by grateful little kids.  I remember trying to make a case for church consumption because they were made in the image of creatures God made on the sixth day of creation.  My logic never prevailed.  Maybe it was the circus pictured box.

I’m sure it never occurred to that little guy to offer me one.  To him I must look like his vision of Methuselah.  Surely old people couldn’t like Animal Crackers.  They do.  There are certain things for everyone.  In I Corinthians 13 Paul speaks of putting away childish things.  But he was speaking of ideas like being good enough to be saved and thinking we are His special children as opposed to everyone else.  Those are childish ideas that need to be shed by mature minds that honestly look in the mirror and know they cannot be so, except for our dishonest conceit.  Paul wasn’t speaking of some special childhood things.  Dare I confess that I still have my teddy bear?

One evening I entered a hospital room to visit an old friend who wasn’t going to come home again.  His wife was feeding him from a half-gallon container of Breyers vanilla ice cream.  How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 30, 2011

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


“Count the Serendipities”

My wife keeps a running Scrabble game with our older son.  They do it electronically on their cell phones.  It is a nice way to stay in close contact and it keeps him from forgetting he has parents who love him very much.  The old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder isn’t always true.  Sometimes out of sight is out of mind.

It’s a good idea to keep one’s children aware of how much they are loved no matter how old they are.  Being loved is essential to our health and vitality.  Our heavenly Father is very aware of this and continually sends us gifts to remind us of how much He cares for us.  Those gifts come in many ways.  We only have to be aware of the things around us.  When we are paying attention we receive all kinds of serendipities.

The onus is also on us to check in with Him.  Even if it is a short “Good Morning, Lord” when we wake up or a “Good Night, Father” as we hit the pillow.  Granted more contact than that would be most advantageous to the relationship but it’s something.  It keeps us in contact and available for the bigger, longer experiences He wants to share with us.  Reading His mail to us really helps – you know – those letters called Matthew, Luke, and John.  They are filled with news straight from His heart to ours.

Maybe just as my wife keeps a game going with our son, we could keep a game going with our Father.  It could be called, “Count the Serendipities.”  See if we can find more than yesterday.  I promise you, they are there.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 29, 2011

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



The Needle

The burn is less than two seconds as the shiny slim steel needle skillfully stealthfully slips though my skin into a vein.  A burst of red rushes into the clear tube then turns pink and then clear as the life-saving fluid flows into my hungry body.  The bottle hangs over my head as its contents became part of me.  Antibodies, battling antibodies will seek and destroy any foreign life they find.  Only my cells will they ignore. Antibodies from over twenty thousand other people will course through my veins battling to keep me alive.

Tonight I am alive.  Tomorrow night I will be alive.  For the next thirty days I will be alive until once again that shiny slim steel needle will once again tear through my skin in search of a vein.  For five years now this has been my ritual.  For five years now I live because of the wonders of modern medicine.  For five years now I am in debt to the thousands of people who share their antibodies that I can continue to celebrate life with my incredible wife, sons and grandchildren and write to you about the love of our Creator God who gives us knowledge of that wonderful thing He made that Friday in His very image.

Someday I will no longer need that shiny slim steel needle.  In I Corinthians Paul promises that this corruption will put on incorruption, this mortal shall put on immortality and I along with you and millions others will exchange this form for an eternal tribute to His love.  But until that day I shall write to you about the grandest God who ever could be – for He is the one who made Himself poor by giving us His only Son so shiny slim steel needles will only be a memory.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 28, 2011

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


The Dark Time of the Year

In central Massachusetts the length of day between sunrise and sunset was 9 hours and 1 minute on the 19th through the 26th of December.  It wasn’t just the darkest day of the year it was the darkest week. It is grand to celebrate the birth of the Light of the World during this darkest of times. The European pagans celebrated Saturnalia during this same dark time recognizing the birthday of the unconquerable sun on the 25th.

Many of my friends grow just a tad uncomfortable when this topic comes up.  Somehow it seems that we are participating in paganism because of these facts.  But true meaning is what happens inside our minds.  God gave us incredible minds with which to choose and create.  The power is ours to make something mean what we choose for it to mean.  We do not have to allow others to dictate to us what meaning we bring to something. It is part of the freedom of which Paul speaks so eloquently in Galatians 5.

Since we do not know when Jesus was born it is our prerogative to usurp this dark time of the year from the pagans and claim it for our Lord, who proclaimed Himself to be the Light of the World.  He is the one who created the sun the pagans worshiped.  The pagans lost this battle.  Jesus won.  The time is His.  As the days now grow longer so we should also be more and more enlightened everyday with the light of Jesus’ presence in our walk.  Solomon said, “The light shines more and more on our path.”  That light is Jesus.  He is the King of Kings.  Just as He won the victory over death He wins the victory over all the meaningless pagan Gods of the past.

Written by Roger Bothwell on Decembe 27, 2011

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



One More Present to Unwrap

By now most of the presents for Christmas 2012 have been opened.  The wrapping paper has been discarded and trash cans are filled to overflowing.  Some of you might have new books to read or DVDs to watch.  Some children will be a bit disappointed to have discovered that some of those packages contained socks and underwear.  I have one for you.  It will take a while to unwrap.  It is one of those gifts that have layers of wrapping and the deeper you wade into it the more wonderful the treasure it holds.  It is found in Colossians chapter 1.  “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

Note that it is only one sentence.  If Paul had had my high school English teacher he would have been thoroughly chastised for creating a “run-on” sentence.  Didn’t Paul know about periods?  Actually he didn’t.

It is a glorious sentence filled with weeks of thought.  So please don’t just glance at it saying, “Okay now I read it.”  That would be like walking through your town library and saying, “Okay, I’ve been there.”  No, no.  This sentence is like a miracle box that once you get to the box inside, you discover it is bigger than the one it came out of.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 26, 2012

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


Santa’s Coming at Five

The sign on the door of the sandwich store said Santa would be there at five.   It was four.   Inside was a five-year-old little boy and he was hyped.  Considering there was yet an hour to go we could only imagine that he would be climbing the walls by five.   It was great fun watching him as I remembered being five.   The thought crossed my mind, “Wouldn’t it be grand if we were that excited about the second coming of Jesus.”   Then I got realistic and thought, “No.  We would be nervous wrecks from the continual adrenaline flow.”

God isn’t looking for an overly excited group of children.  Instead He needs mature, responsible adults living socially productive lives.  He needs us to be good neighbors, good employees, good parents and people that make the world a better place because we are here.  In Luke 19 Jesus told about a man about to leave on a long journey, “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, ‘Occupy till I come.’”  As laudable as it might seem selling one’s possessions or leaving one’s crop unharvested isn’t the wisest course of action.

The finest evangelistic endeavor isn’t the occasional big thrust but is instead being every day honest, caring, responsible citizens every community needs.  Instead of getting exciting about every tragedy that happens somewhere in the world let’s rejoice that God wants to make us as much like Himself now, here, where we live.  Now that is exciting.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 23, 2013

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



A Grand Time of the Year

I’m exhausted from watching my wife work.  We are incredibly blessed to have a house filled with my sons and their families.   I am loving every noisy moment.  There are the sounds of video games, table games, older children on their iPhones, dogs barking when someone comes to the door (yes, they brought their dog) and 14 hours of nonstop cooking sounds coming from the kitchen.  There are the smells of pumpkin and apple pies mixed with the scents of veggies and baking macaroni.  That is the exhausting part because somehow my wife does it all.  This very moment she is repairing a broken table.

Proverbs 31 comes to mind.  Blessed is the man who gets a Proverbs 31 wife.  Of course when I read Proverbs 31 I wonder what the man is supposed to do.  She does it all.  So I guess men are supposed to watch football while listening to and smelling the activities of the house.  Please don’t chastise me for this.  I know better!  Maybe?  Most of the time.  Well, some of the time.  I keep the woodstove going and keep the trash emptied.

Eventually the house grows silent as one by one people cave in for the day. The sun will rise and it all starts again.  How grand!  But soon it will really be over as we watch red lights on the back of cars disappear.  Then it will really be quiet as Grandma and I (Grandpa) head back inside with just one dog who must wonder what that was all about.  Now she can once again sleep her twenty hours a day.  And maybe Grandma will also catch up on some well deserved sleep.  As for me I will get more non-deserved sleep.

Merry Christmas.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 24, 2012

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




My dog loves to go in the car.  She is so happy when I tell her she can go along.  Normally she rides in the back.  But today my wife wasn’t with me so she happily moved up to the passenger front seat.  The problem with that is I couldn’t get her to buckle up her seat belt.  Not only is that a safety issue for her it is an amazing annoyance for me.  She weighs 80 pounds and triggers the seatbelt reminder.  Over and over and over the car goes ding, ding, ding and more dings.  If I told her once I told her a dozen times to buckle up but she refused.

She is just like people who won’t listen to God.  He tells us what lifestyle is good for us.  We pay little attention.  He tells us we will be richly blessed if we tithe.  Most people don’t. He tells us not to lie.  Most people do.  He tells us to remember His Sabbath day.  Few people do.  The list can go on and on.  We just don’t pay attention; just like the seatbelt is a safety issue for my dog so all His commands are safety issues.  Each command has beneficial fruit.  One big difference is we don’t hear a ding, ding, ding when we don’t listen to Him.  Maybe that would help.  Maybe we would do better if He dinged us.  But that’s not His way.  We do get dinged but He doesn’t do it to us.  They are the fruit of not paying attention to Him.

The Psalmist says it so well.  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  119:105


Written by Roger Bothwell on December 23, 2011

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



The End of the World

I was asked if I was ready for the world to end tonight.  It is the 21st of December 2012 and the end of the Mayan Calendar.  I asked just when this would occur.  “At midnight” was the answer.  So I asked, “Will that be Eastern Standard Time or Pacific Standard Time?  Or perhaps it will be Greenwich Mean Time?”   He looked a bit puzzled and said, “Whenever.”   Ah, that was the right answer.  Whenever God decides, it will not be a moment before or after.  It has nothing to do with calendars, eclipses of the sun or moon or earthquakes or global warming.  It has everything to do with His will governed by His wisdom and His love for us.  Whenever it will be, it will be designed to save the maximum number of people possible. God is not to be trifled with.  He will make sure the sacrifice of Jesus will save as many as He can possibly squeeze into the Kingdom.  Satan be dammed.  Satan will not have one extra soul that God knows shall be His. God has put up with Satan’s wars, genocides, diseases and other horrors perpetrated upon mankind.  He will not tolerate the loss of one soul that His wisdom, logic and grace knows belongs with Him.

Zechariah 3 is one of the most exciting chapters in Scripture.  “He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

That is us.  We are brands plucked from the fire.  Saved for eternity.  How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 21, 2012

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