Dog Treats

I bought my dog a bag of beef sticks for snacks.  I had planned to keep them in a drawer in my desk but when I opened the bag a cloud of garlic aroma wafted from that bag with such intensity my eyes rolled back into my head.  I gave her a couple and later decided to play Dagwood Bumstead by taking a nap on our couch.  I wasn’t too long zoned out to the world when I was startled to consciousness by an overwhelming foul cloud.  Opening my eyes I found myself staring into two dark eyes a few inches from my nose.  She wanted more as she gave me that “cocked head, pathetic, adorable, poor me” look.  When you love someone or something, people and pets take on a completely different perspective.  I got her another one.

You know the old saying one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  Well there is a corollary saying, “One man’s stench is another man’s perfume.”  Just stop at a perfume sample counter at the mall.  Some are great and some are, well, not so great.  We are not very consistent about smells.  If we are hungry almost anything food smells great.  If we are nauseous the best smells in the world make us even sicker.

I am sure sometimes our behaviors and attitudes reek in the courts of heaven.  Yet, His love for us enables Him to continually reach out to us.  He does not offer perfume to mask our odor.  Instead He offers a transformation of being.  By His grace and with His power we are enabled to do sweet smelling acts of love as we become more and more like Him.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 31, 2012

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


Sundays were wonderful when I was a boy.  It was my day with my dad.   When the weather was nice we headed for the mountains with our dog.  When it was cold and messy we went to the movies.  Those were the days when they screened cliffhangers.  For quite a while I thought they were awesome.  The hero would be left dangling in the most precarious situations possible with no way of escape and the film would end.   We had to come back next week to see how he got away.  As I got older I caught on that the beginning of next week’s episode was not nearly as frightening as had been portrayed.

In the years that passed I have met innumerable people who are cliffhangers.  They say they are Christians but refuse to accept the gift of salvation.  They are still trying to earn it and are never sure if they are good enough or have done enough.  If you ask them if they are saved they respond with “I hope so.”  What a miserable way to live!  They want Jesus to come but are scared they will be left behind.  So where is the joy of salvation?  Where is the peace that Jesus promises?

Life is one great cliffhanger.

Why is it so difficult just to trust Him and take Him at His word?  He promised, “He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”   It’s a promise the enemy doesn’t want us to think about.  If we really do accept it, life ceases to be a cliffhanger.  We don’t have to come back next week to know what is going to happen.   We know and it’s great.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 30, 2012

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


Solomon and Macbeth

Solomon closes Ecclesiastes 11 with an appeal for young people to look around and enjoy the things they see but to remember actions have consequences – judgment will come.  Chapter 12 is a poetic description of getting old.  It really isn’t a pretty picture despite the flowery language.  He speaks of silver cords being severed and golden pitchers breaking.  He is talking about death.  He then says in verse 8, “Meaningless!  Meaningless!’ says the teacher. “Everything is meaningless!”   He sounds like the passage I read yesterday from Macbeth.  Neither of them had much hope nor satisfaction.  The problem was they didn’t know Jesus and the joy of salvation.

To know Jesus changes everything. To know Jesus is to understand all these years on Earth are prelude. The real life, the eternal life, the never-ending growing life has begun now but the best is yet to come. “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.  I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”  Solomon did not have the Gospel of John to savor.  Shakespeare’s fictional Macbeth obviously never read it.  If all we had was John we have more than enough to fill our lives with joy.  How grand that we have even more than John.  The riches of the other Gospels and the letters of Paul chase away the despair of our human walk and fill us with a knowledge that surpasses anything Solomon ever dreamed.

Of all people who ever walked this earth we are the most blessed.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 29, 2013

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

Very Significant

When Macbeth hears of his wife’s death he says, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” How very opposite this is to Jeremiah’s call from the Lord.  “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’” In Ephesians 2 Paul wrote, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Jeremiah was not privileged above you and me. God has a plan and purpose for each of us. There is something unique for each of us to do.  Each of us has characteristics and talents unlike any other person on earth.  In the grand scheme of things there is something that needs to be accomplished and only you can do it.

It gets even better. How wonderful it is to know “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  We are not merely servants to be used and then cast aside.  We are members of the family who are joint heirs with Jesus Himself. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  Romans 8

Sorry Hamlet but you are wrong.  Our lives signify much more than we can now imagine.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 28, 2013

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

To Be Ready

One of our many chipmunks ventured out unto the snow this morning.  Perhaps he heard the rabbit above and came up to say hello. He isn’t a true hibernator like some of the other creatures. Mostly he stays below feasting on the fruits of his summer’s toil.  There are lots of creatures still moving about.  When I was a boy it was rare to see a robin in January but that has changed.  There are deer and a rather ratty looking red fox mixing their prints in the snow with those of the squirrels.  A few nights ago I was awakened by the hooting of an owl.  I wondered if he was lonely and calling for some female owl company.  It wasn’t long until he hooted me back to sleep.

Sometimes we give sleep a bad name because of the parable of the ten virgins. But sleep is a good thing. It’s a time for body and mind to refresh for coming tasks.  In the parable the five were not chastised for sleeping.  Their problem was they had not prepared properly.  So what does it mean to be ready?   Through the years I have heard many presentations telling me to stop eating this and that, to be sure all my sins were forgiven, to read my Bible every day, to be sure I was tithing properly, to store food and water for the time of trouble.  Oh the list goes on and on.

However, my list grows shorter and shorter as the years wane.  I keep crossing things off and what I end up with is “trust Jesus.”  He is able to as Paul says, “. . . to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”  II Timothy 1:12

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 25, 2013

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

Rogerbothwell org


The Pretty Pickup Truck

I have a neighbor with a really pretty white pickup.  As my dog and I were on our daily walk we passed his house and a man was in the driveway.  I assumed it was the owner so I stopped to comment on the pickup.  “No,” the man said, “I’m a repairman. That’s not my truck.”  Now the truck was unusually dirty.  It was covered with salt and sand – winter road grime.  So I said, “It’s a shame to have such a pretty truck be so dirty.”  The repairman laughed and said, “If you think the truck is dirty you should see the inside of the house.”  Oops.  I guess it’s true we shouldn’t judge a book (house) by its cover.

One of Jesus’ more powerful metaphors is found in Matthew 23.  He thundered, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

My temptation here is to do some thundering of my own about television evangelists who are constantly begging for money and promising outrageous things.  Last night I heard one say if some poor soul out there would send him money their mortgage would be canceled.   But I will resist the temptation to go there and instead focus more on us normal people.  Society expects us to be polite. We really shouldn’t go around revealing all our inner nastiness.  Instead we need to become inside the way we project ourselves outside.  We can do that.  Paul promises us that Christ will strengthen us and help us clean house.  Let’s do it.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 26, 2012

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


Saved from the Mailman

The only sound I hear this evening is my dog snoring.  It’s not a harsh raspy snore.  It’s a very soft gentle sound that says, “I like it here. I feel safe here.”  She is curled up about a foot or so from my desk and her snore is music.  It’s a totally different sound than when the mailman comes.  I don’t know why she hates the mailman. She hears his truck two mailboxes away and starts to growl.  By the time he arrives she is often in a frenzy that instantly dies the moment he pulls away.  She looks at me as if to say, “There. I saved you one more time.”

I have heard those words before.  I have heard them innumerable times from Jesus.  “There.” He says to me, “I saved you one.”  (He doesn’t say “one more time.”  He doesn’t rub it in.)  The problem isn’t Him throwing me out of the Kingdom.  It’s me drifting away and suddenly waking up to my need to come home again.  Then it is that I hear, “There. I saved you.”

Will He ever stop?  No.  The issue is me making Him say it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to leave you with the idea that He is capricious.   He is so stable.  I also don’t want to give the idea that heaven has a revolving door.  Not at all.   It’s a solid place.  I don’t believe every time I disappointment Him He throws me out.  He would be a horrible Savior if that happened.  It isn’t a matter of individual acts.  It is a condition of my not caring and my getting so focused on other things that I am the one who opened the door and left.  The wonder is, like my dog, He is always there to save me from the mailman.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 25, 2012

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


Really? Yeah. Really.

In his letter to the Philippians Paul wrote, “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  Really?  Really?  What about the day he was stoned and left for dead?  What about the night they secreted him out of a city by lowering him in a basket?  There were shipwrecks and finally prison.  Maybe the key to this statement is the word “learned.”  Perhaps he wasn’t so content the day a snake bit him.  What about the disagreements he had with Peter and some of the other brethren?  This has to be something he learned and I am guessing it was later in life.

He also says two verses later, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”  None of us are born this way, especially when he was Saul running about the country killing Christians.  The truth is Jesus made an enormous change in his life.  The change was so great we don’t even call him Saul any more.  He is Paul, the man who grew in Jesus.

If Jesus can do that for someone so impassioned we need to take heart for ourselves. If we think life isn’t working for us Jesus can change our perspective and teach us contentment.  Do we think we aren’t getting the recognition and appreciation for how great we do our job?  Surely one of the most difficult arenas is getting along with stubborn people who continually irritate us.  We wish we didn’t have to be near them and yet we do. Jesus can teach us contentment. And just how is this possible?  Jesus will strengthen us for the challenge.  We can do all things. Really?  Really?  Yeah. Really.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 24, 2012

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


If I Were a Bell

When I was very little before we moved to the country I loved Sunday mornings. One of the local churches rang the bell in their steeple to call people to worship.  It was so beautiful as it echoed through the neighborhood.  I have loved church bells ever since.  Sometimes while waiting for a traffic light in town church bells begin.  I quickly open the car windows to get the full effect.  Bells can be pealed for joyous occasions such as a wedding.  Bells can be tolled for sad occasions.  One of the famous lines in literature is by John Dunne, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Or bells can be rung just to tell us it is noon.

If I were a bell I would peal instead of toll.  On occasion I hear sermons filled with gloom and doom. Instead I would peal the love of our Jesus and the transforming power of His grace to make us better people.  We have so much to peal.  Why burden people with bad news?  They get loads of that from CNN, NBC and FOX.  Sometimes we wonder why attendance at church is low.  Could it be that people come weary and leave even more so?  The Gospels are the GOOD NEWS.

Recently I read an interesting article about ten ways the world can come to an end.  It covered everything from volcanoes to nuclear war.  However, the best way wasn’t mentioned.  So let us peal it out loud and clear.  Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 23, 2012

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


The Art of Receiving

Try as hard as I could, I could not remember what my wife gave me for Christmas.  Finally, as carefully worded as possible, I asked her what she got me.  Do not.  I repeat. Do not ever do this.  I will be hearing about this for years to come.  Ringing in my ears are comments like “Well, I remember what you got me” and “I can tell it made a real impression.” Ouch.  The fine art of receiving is more important than giving.

I once heard a student proclaim that no one ever gave her anything. I asked if she still lived at home.  “Well, of course,” came the response. “I’m only 15.”  “And do you pay room and board” I asked.  “Of course not, I don’t have a job” was the answer.  To which I said something very pithy.  “Hum.”

Perhaps Psalm 100 is the second best psalm.  “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations.”

We are receivers. Each beat of our hearts, each breath we take are gifts.  When we learn to give thanks, we understand our place in this vast universe.  None of us are self-made anything.  What we give is minuscule to what we have received.  Try to remember so someday you will not have to say to God, “I can’t remember what you gave me.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 21, 2013

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