“Who are you wearing?”

On the way into the Kodak Theater for the Academy Awards people dressed in their finest walked the red carpet, being interviewed for their moment in the spotlight.  Robin Roberts from ABC was one of the interviewers and when referring to their clothes she said to one of her interviewees, “I’m being paid to ask you, ‘Who are you wearing?’'”  Each person responded with the name of some famous or semi-famous designer.  The question, “Who are you wearing” stuck in my head.  Should there be a red carpet to walk before we someday enter the throne room of the King of the Universe there just might be an interviewer from some far off galaxy asking, “Who are you wearing?”  The answer, the only answer, for all of us will be Jesus, for it is His and only His robe of righteousness that will be appropriate.  All other answers just will not work.

“For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”  Isaiah 61:10   It is an expensive garment; much more than anything on the red carpet that Sunday evening.  This garment came at horrendous cost and we are the most blessed to be adopted into the family so we can wear it.  “For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8

It’s a wardrobe that will never be out of style

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 27, 2012

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


Two More Miracles

Most commentaries list about 32 -35 miracles of Jesus.  But we should not forget such interesting verses as Matthew 4:23, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”  And of course there is the end of the Gospel of John, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

One of His more interesting miracles isn’t in the lists.  In John 8 Jesus met His foes with some very interesting information.  He knelt down and with His finger wrote in the construction dust on the temple floor.  He was very specific.  Generalities would have had no impact.  He looked to see who was there and then wrote their names along with detailed times and places of their sins.  It must have been horrifying to these righteous men to be so publicly exposed.  Jesus was taking no prisoners.  They were fair game.  Many must have tossed and turned that night wondering how He knew.  The miracle was He knew.  Many fled before He got to their names.  If today’s press had been there they would have had a media feast.

However, it ended with Jesus and a frightened woman who soon learned she had nothing to fear because of who she was with.  Surely to her dying day she never forgot His rough carpenter’s hand helping her to her feet and those words, “Neither do I condemn you.”  Aha, yet another miracle – the miracle of grace.  We can add two more miracles to the list.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 26, 2013

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



Jealous vs. Zealous

The King James Version renders Exodus 20:5 as follows, “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God.”  I remember sitting in church reading my Bible, often it was much more interesting than the sermon.  I was puzzled by this verse.  I thought, “Wow, that’s bad.  Jealousy is not nice.”   Little did I know that words tend to change meanings as the decades pass.  Scores of words used in the KJV have since altered their intent.  Take Matthew 19:14 for an example, “Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: . .”  I doubt if many little children would understand the word “suffer” in that context.  And so it was for me with “jealous.”   “Jealous” and “zealous” come from the same roots.  Since 1611 “jealous” has taken on great negativity.  Most likely those same translators today would possibly render the verse, “For I the LORD thy God am a zealous God.”  It certainly has a more positive feel.

I very much like the idea that God is zealous for us.   That word means actively and unreservedly enthusiastic. I certainly like enthusiastic people.  It’s awful when we are waited on in stores by unenthusiastic people.  When they fail to smile and mumble, I really don’t ever want to return.  Oh, there was that word “awful” – talk about a word changing meaning.  It used to mean wonderful, full of awe.  My wife would hardly be happy if I told her she looked awful.

And so it is that we have a God who is an enthusiastic fan; so much so that He gave His only Son that we might have everlasting life.  Now that is zealous.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 24, 2012

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



Truth is –

It is an outrageous thing to be a teacher.  It assumes that someone knows something others don’t know.  That is not so difficult to conceive when someone knows how to read or do math, but once we advance past the fundamentals it isn’t so clear-cut. History especially is and should be regarded with care.  Just because it is in a book or a newspaper doesn’t mean it really happened and if it did everything has nuances that appeal only to some.  The writers of textbooks, just like the rest of us, have agendas colored by their personal experiences and opinions.  I have to laugh at people who claim to “tell it like it is.”  All they can really do is tell what they think they know and what they think they saw or heard.  Everyone thinks they know the truth and yet few of us can stand in mental lockstep with another.  In many ways truth is but an agreed upon set of assumptions.

When I say Jesus died and rose again I am speaking out of my hopes, aspirations and biases resulting from where I was born, who my parents are, where I went to school and what books I have read, which were written by others like me.  I wasn’t there.  I didn’t see it happen.  Yet I believe from the depths of my heart that it is true because it makes good sense.  It doesn’t seem like a cunningly devised tale.  (See II Peter 1)  All of the disciples but John suffered a horrible death.  They would not have done so if it was a contrived tale.  Jesus said, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”  That’s us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 23, 2012

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



Millions of tons of debris from last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan is making its way across the Pacific to our western shore.  It will be yet another year before the bulk of it arrives.  Needless to say, it will be unwelcome as it clutters our coast.  It seems like a long time to wait but it will arrive.  It is much like the fruit of bad decisions we often make.  Because there is no immediate detection or results we think we got away with it.  However, the debris will someday surface.  A rotten diet, lack of exercise, burning the candle at both ends, smoking, alcohol, etc, erode away years at the end of life.  The only advantage to that is you don’t have to make as many payments to the life insurance company before they have to pay your heirs. Too bad you won’t be there to see them enjoy it.

Our God is a very sensible God.  He has good reasons for the lifestyle instructions He gives us in Scripture.  There isn’t one thing He asks of us because He is arbitrary.  He always has our best interests at heart.  Recently I was challenged about this by a student who wanted to know just how it benefited us not to take His name in vain.  Well, the answer is if we reduce His name to an exclamation point we lose the reality of who He is.  If He is only a word to express surprise or glee or shock, He ceases to be a loving caring parent interested in our well-being and we will not access the blessings that come with a close personal relationship.  It isn’t that He is offended.  He is way too big for that.  We are the losers.  Actually, He also loses.  He loses us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 22, 2012

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



Life – Good and Bad

My wife and I had the splendid opportunity to visit one of our former students.  She is teaching in a one room school in Vermont.  What we observed was idyllic.  Nestled in a rural environment surrounded by the glorious Green Mountains is a place every parent should desire for their child’s educational setting; a well-trained caring Christian teacher, modern media and a committed constituency provide an experience beyond what we had hoped to see.  We are so very proud.  Her parents must also share our feelings.

As we were returning to our home in Massachusetts I could not but reflect how our heavenly Father must feel about us when we excel.  When we do good surely there is great joy in the courts of heaven. Alas, I also remember that Job was doing very well.  God was very proud of him when Satan came and ventured that Job only did well because he was so blessed.  I think we all know the rest of the story.  We do live in a world that does not seem to relish good fortune and as the old saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.”  It seems to be the nature of our existence.

But we should not forget the end of Job.  After Satan has been proven wrong and was duly chastised Job spent his later years once again blessed.  Even then he must have had moments when he missed his children.   My sons are alive and well and make me proud on a daily basis and yet I do miss those little boys that chased each other around the house and squealed with delight when I came home.  There is a sweet sadness even in good times.  What must it be like to live for a thousand years?

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 21, 2012

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



Have you ever gone to Olive Garden and totally stuffed yourself on the breadsticks so by the time your meal arrives you couldn’t eat another bite?  Other restaurants bring you chips and salsa or chips with spinach and artichoke dip.  They call them appetizers. Are they not more appropriately called deappetizers?   Now some of you might respond to me with a lecture on self-control and that I should pace myself by just nibbling on those tempting morsels and of course you would be right.  But I can’t just sit there and stare at them for the twenty minutes or so it takes for one’s meal to arrive.

And so it is with so many things on a mental menu.  While I want to feed on God’s Word and other materials that will contribute toward a healthy spiritual walk, I become distracted by spiritual deappetizers. Life is filled with an endless array of books, films, television programs and video games.  Just like the chips and salsa, they are good.  The problem for me is they sate my mind with so many interesting ideas and facts that I find I lose my appetite for Ephesians, Colossians and Luke.  When I pick up what should be the main course I am just not hungry.

Three thousand years ago Solomon wrote, “. . . of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”  What would he say if he could walk into a Barnes and Noble or pick up a Kindle?   Paul told Timothy to study to show himself approved unto God.  I doubt if that could have been done on a steady diet of Netflix.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 20, 2012

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



President’s Day

Hopefully a lot of people bought a new car on President’s Day.  The sale prices on new cars on President’s Day look pretty good.  Most of us grew up without a President’s Day.  That didn’t happen until the mid-eighties.  Most of us had a day off school on February 22, George Washington’s birthday.  Here in Massachusetts state law directs our governor to issue a proclamation on May 29 which is John F. Kennedy’s birthday.  It’s important for us to have special days.  It reminds us of our roots and gives us a national identity and pride.

Traditions help ground us.  They give us a social and cultural anchor.  God knew how important this was to us right from the beginning.  In the heart of the Ten Commandments we read, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  Exodus 20.   Not once a year but once a week God wants us to be reminded of where we came from.  It gives us an anchor.  We are not here by mere chance but by very careful design.

In Hebrews 1 Paul says, “In these last days He (God) has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”   Paul wanted us to know that it wasn’t just a god who came to die for us but it was The God – The Creator God.  He made us and He took responsibility for us.  To keep us spiritually grounded He told us in the heart of His commands to remember His day, the Lord’s Day, once a week.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 19, 2013

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




Come and See

An icy wind cut into us this evening as we entered Friendly’s for ice cream.   It was almost cold enough to make us go back to the car.  Almost – not quite.  Once inside we were rewarded by a precious four-year-old little girl with brown curls surrounding her pink cheeks.  She hurriedly bounced up to her family and exclaimed, “Come and see.  I found where they keep the ice cream.”  Grabbing her daddy’s hand she led him to a glass covered refrigerator and said, “See.  There’s even cake in there.”  She was wonderful.

There are two similar events in John I.   When Andrew saw Jesus he hurried to his brother Peter.  “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’”   The second event followed.  “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’  ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.”

“Come and See” is the best kind of evangelism.  Year after year we spend huge amounts of money paying for series of meetings and get limited results.   Often it seems like efforts in futility.  Why is it that we continue to repeat the same activity and continue to expect different results?  However, there is another more effective kind of evangelism.  Nothing works better than bringing a friend to share in the joy of what we have.  When we love Jesus and when we radiate excitement and exhibit a quality of life we can say, “Come and see.”   It certainly worked in John 1.  Simon Peter became a disciple along with Nathaniel.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 18, 2013

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



Oh To Be Brave

The last words of the American Declaration of Independence are, “we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”Eighteen of the 54 signers had their homes burned and looted either by loyalists to the throne or British troops.  Two of the signers lost sons in the ensuing battles.  Rarely does one put his or her name to such a dangerous document.

One of my favorites of Jesus’ disciples is Thomas.  He has gotten a bad rap in history with all that doubting business.  Seldom do we note John 11 where Jesus announced He was going to Bethany because Lazarus had died and Thomas said to the others, “Let us go and die with him.”   Apparently it was very dangerous for Jesus that close to Jerusalem.  Thomas, brave Thomas, was willing to give all for His Lord.

If one does not have something in one’s life valuable enough for which to die one has not yet lived.   We read stories of bravery and courage and we wonder how we would respond to danger.  The older I get the easier it is to be brave for with each passing day I have less life to give.  The richness and quality of one’s life is the commitment we make to something good and pure.  How sad for those who have never discovered this secret.

And what happened to Thomas?  He did survive crucifixion weekend in Jerusalem but according to tradition he did die for His precious Lord.  As for the doubting?  All the others had seen Jesus that Sunday.  He had not.  He loved Jesus so much he couldn’t understand why he had been left out.  He wasn’t.  Jesus told Him to come and touch.  He does the same for us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 14, 2012

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