Finders Keepers – Not Always

As I pulled a shopping cart out of the BJ’s bin in the parking lot what to my wondering eyes did appear but a box of Hershey bars with almonds.  Someone must have been in a hurry to leave behind such a treasure.  This was “my” day.  It was Friday and it was like getting double manna.  This was meant to be.  I purchased my very first car in Hershey, Pa.  My stepfather worked at Hershey for 40 years. Obviously this was meant to be.  I triumphantly showed it to my wife and she said, “Oh, someone will surely come back for it.  We have to take it in to the desk.”  “What?” I thought. “The person at the desk will take it home tonight.  This is mine.  Finders keepers.  That was the rule I grew up with.”  But as I looked her in the eye I knew better.  There was no use in protesting. Now I could never eat one of those wonderful treasures without feeling guilty. We took it to the lady that checks baskets by the door.

I will never know how many times in the past fifty years this agent from heaven has kept me on the straight and narrow.  When we were in high school one of the teachers told her not to date me lest she spend her life picking me up out of the gutter.  Really!  You can tell I made a good impression on him.  Even my mother maintained my wife kept me out of jail.  I do believe God in His infinite wisdom does send to us the people we need and if we are smart we will not let them go.  I was smart.  At least about this.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 29, 2012

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


The Dangling Horsefly

Suddenly our garage door would not stay closed.  Once it got to the bottom it promptly reopened. Over and over I checked to see that the light beam was properly aligned.  It was.  There wasn’t any stick or stone to cause the safety feature to reopen it.  When it was open I did see a dead horsefly dangling overhead from a spider web filament, but thought nothing of it.  After an hour or more it finally dawned on me.  When the door reached the cement floor the dead horsefly was lowered just enough to dangle in the light beam and thus reopen the door.  Duh!  So why did it take me so long to catch on?  Sometimes I am so dull.  The door wasn’t broken.  It was functioning the way it was designed.

Sometimes we have little peccadilloes that annoy other people and even if we know they are there, we think nothing of them.  Maybe we wonder why we didn’t get a promotion we wanted and we never make the connection that we are annoying.  Sometimes we have a habit of eating something we really know we shouldn’t but, “Hey, it’s nothing big.”  Perhaps we make rolling stops at stop signs but, “Hey, I’m almost stopped.”  They are little things that we know are there but we rarely make the connection regarding their impediment to a better life.

The process of life-long development is often paying attention to little things; stepping outside ourselves and looking at ourselves from an exterior perspective. I often wonder how God sees us since He sees and knows everything.  I must confess that sometimes I wish He did not know what I was thinking.  But the alternative isn’t that great.  I’m glad He’s there.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 21, 2012

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

Over the Top Parents

My wife and I stopped at a 50’s Diner this afternoon.  It is great fun to listen to Chubby Checker, Little Richard and the Beach Boys, while looking at pictures of Mickey Mantle and Joe Dimaggio decorating the walls.   A few booths away there were two small children being children.  They were no problem.  The problem was the mother.  She was yelling at them and honestly making far more noise and a greater hubbub than the children combined. She was way over the top.

Over the top parenting is not new.  Many groups unwittingly make God an over the top parent.  They say a person can be lost for the smallest of sins and they have God, Our Father, burn them in hell forever and forever.  Talk about being over the top. If this were the case there should be some way of arresting God for child abuse since we are all children.

But are they not merely teaching Scripture?  The close of the Book of Revelation speaks about the never ending torment of the lost.  Once again it is unfortunate that we have to rely on translations such as the King James Version, etc.  The Greek expression means with everlasting results.   Once they are burned it is forever.  They will be no more.  Jude helps us in verse 7 regarding Sodom and Gomorrah.  “They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”  We know Sodom and Gomorrah were located at the north end of the Dead Sea.  They are not still burning.  If so, more people would visit than go to Disney Land.   No, they are not still burning, but the results (death) will last forever.

God is not an over the top parent.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 28, 2012

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


I Was Profiled

My dog and I were walking down our hill when I heard the lyrical sounds of the neighborhood ice cream truck.  Turkey in the Straw is one of the finest pieces of music ever composed. Much to my delight it was also coming down the hill.  I easily could have been one of the five unprepared young ladies in Jesus’ story but this evening I was fortunate.  I had my wallet with me.  Pulling it from my pocket I was ready for a goodie.  And then tragedy struck.  As I was raising my hand he swept past me, totally disregarding me as if I were just some balding old man who no longer cared for ice cream.  He never even looked in his rear view mirror.  I must have been taller than his usual customer.


I wonder how often we stereo-typically profile people, sometimes granting them more status than they merit or just the reverse.  Last week at a graduation in an affluent neighborhood I saw a tall elderly man standing as straight as an arrow.  He wore a very expensive looking suit with a white handkerchief protruding from the upper suit coat pocket.  His black French-toed shoes shone like glass.  His subdued red tie gave him an appearance of one who had wielded power.  Perhaps he still does.  Even though he appeared to be in his eighties he was still very much intimidating.  Wouldn’t I have been shocked to find out he was a retired college teacher?  College profs cultivate a frumpy look.

I wonder how many times I have written people off when it comes to sharing Jesus with them.  Underneath all the trappings of culture and class there often reside hungry souls just waiting for the Good News.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 27, 2012

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



Jesus Is Truth

Truth is not just a what but a who. Paul wrote, “I know in whom I have believed and He is able.”   In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth.”  Jesus did not say, “I know the truth.”  Nor did He say, “I speak about or of the truth.” It is a struggle to grasp the sheer enormity of this.  He also said, “I have meat to eat that you know not of.”  John 4:32.  In John 14:10 Jesus said, “The Father dwells in me.”   Truth in Jesus is not some abstract philosophical idea for super intellects.  It is personal.  Where did the galaxies come from?  Hebrews 1 says, “. . . by whom He made all things.”  How is it that we are so beautifully complex?   Genesis 2 says, “. . . let us make man in our image.”   This is personal.  This is about a being and not something out of nothing.

When Jesus was with Pilate that terrible night, Pilate asked, “What is truth?”  He was looking at Him.  The things I think are true are so often different from the things you think are true.  Note I used the word “things.”  Jesus isn’t a thing.  He is personal.  Peter says in his second letter, “We didn’t follow cunningly devised fables. We saw with our eyes.”  John wrote, “We touched Him with our hands. We touched Glory.”   It doesn’t get much more personal than that.

Some of the best New Testament scholars in the world treat the story as if it were a historic tale.  They talk about Jesus.  When you listen you soon realize they know about Jesus.  But, they don’t know Jesus.  For them it isn’t personal.  For them it is not a “how grand.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 25, 2012

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



The Seesaw

The children were having such a grand time.  They both weighed nearly the same so the seesaw was balanced just right.  As one went up and the other went down it dawned on me that this is the faulty formula many people practice hoping to succeed in life.  In order to rise they mistakenly think they must push others down. It is much like a presidential campaign.  Please don’t dare say anything good about your opponent lest you are perceived as being weak and endorsing them.

In reality when we disrespect another we disrespect ourselves.  We cannot fling mud and stay clean.  Rarely can we say something behind someone’s back that it does not eventually reach their ears.  Life and success does not have to be a seesaw.  As we lift others we also lift ourselves. The Golden Rule does work.  Jesus did know what He was talking about and He should.  He made us.  He is the master psychologist.  However, it is second nature for us to play the seesaw game.  This is where we need help.  When we catch ourselves indulging let’s lightly bite our tongues (we would be stupid to bite them hard) and back up and start our sentence again.

Paul tells us to be inventive in hospitality. (Romans 13:12 in The Message paraphrase.)  Let’s be inventive in saying nice things about others.  But we might object and say we shouldn’t lie.  But when we don’t say nice things we are lying because people aren’t as bad as we make them out to be.  Well, most people anyway.  There are a few sociopaths around, but not very many.  Most people are just like you and me.  They play the seesaw game.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 22, 2013

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


Balancing My Checkbook

I am the worst at balancing and reconciling my checkbook with the bank statement.  My addition mistakes, subtraction mistakes, transpositions of numbers and just forgetting to make entries have created an accounting nightmare.  My wife who is very meticulous gives me that sly smile and without her saying a word I know what she is thinking.  I am getting what I deserve.

Isn’t there a Bible text somewhere about blotting out?  If this were 1850 I could just spill my bottle of ink on my check registry and say, “Oops.”  Yes, there is such a text.  It is Psalms 51.   David has committed a horrible crime resulting in the death of one of his very own men.   After being confronted by Nathan, David prayed, “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

I love that prayer.  How many times have I prayed it with the assurance found in I John 1 that God says, “Absolutely, yes?”  The great part is God is delighted to do so.  There is no reluctance on His part.  There is no, “I will give him one more chance.”  Because of what Jesus did for us at Calvary God was able to enter the blotting business.  It’s a great business.  I would not be surprised to find out there is a sign above God’s throne that says, “Official Blotter – Just Ask.”

Recently someone said to me, “You do realize, don’t you, that basically you write the same thing each night.”  Yeah, I do.  The reason being I don’t know of anything better to write about.  Jesus loves, forgives us and saves us.  What else is there?

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 10, 2011

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


I Am a Mean Man

I am a mean man.  What I mean is I am quite average. There is nothing special about me.  I once knew a mean man.  He was downright nasty.  He was my next door neighbor when I was a child.  I mean he wasn’t nice at all.  I have a friend with limited means.  It is difficult for him to pay his bills.  What I mean is I am mean and my neighbor was mean but we are very different.  He wasn’t mean because he was more than one standard deviation below the mean because of his meanness.  My friend without enough means is actually quite nice.

English was not the mother tongue for almost a third of my students this past semester.  It is no wonder they often did not understand my instructions.  English is not the easiest language in the world.  We laughed a lot as we tried to be patient with each other for often I did not understand them.

Right this moment God is listening to a million prayers in thousands of languages and He understands perfectly what each of us needs.  Unlike the world’s air traffic controllers who all need to speak English so a Russian pilot can land in France, heaven doesn’t need us to learn a special language.  God is so delighted to hear us any language will do.  One really grand thing about God is He listens to our hearts.  We don’t actually have to put our needs into the words of any language.

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”  Romans 8:26

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 18, 2011

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


Singing in the Rain

It’s been raining here in New England for most of two weeks.  Needless to say we have a few puddles decorating our landscape.  Thankfully we are not like the folks along the Mississippi River or in tornado alley.  Our prayers are for them.   This has been a horrible spring they will never forget.

On a much lighter note I watched a robin this afternoon who has to be the Gene Kelly of the bird world.  He was bathing in a puddle and singing his heart out.  He was singing in the rain.  It looked like he was having a glorious feeling.  I found myself wanting to go and join him.  There is something infectious about joy.  When we hear a child laugh it is difficult to not at least smile. Happiness breeds happiness.  And of course the opposite is also true.  Maybe I enjoyed the robin so very much because I could not stop thinking about all the loss in the Midwest and the South.

So many prayers will ascend containing the word “Why.”  And the answer is because we live in a world where awful things happen to really good people.  As much as we want to believe it, the truth is being a Christian does not inoculate us from horror.  If it did we could win the world for Jesus in 24 hours, but it would be for  he wrong reason. It wouldn’t change hearts; only church membership.

So today I tried to divert my thoughts by watching a robin sing and dance in the rain.  If we try we can find some delightful things to brighten our days.  But since God is all-knowing I wonder if He ever has a good day.  Does the robin help even Him?

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 24, 2011

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

My Birch Tree

We have a wonderful birch tree in full leaf right beside our bedroom window.  Biologists tell me it will, from now until October, provide all the oxygen my wife and I will need this year.  I like that tree.  During summer storms its leaves brush against the glass as if asking to come in out of the rain. Sometimes it creaks and groans like an old man with arthritis.  Ice on a January night bend it over and it will rattle against the sash reminding me how blessed I am to be inside.  Through the years it has become my friend and I worry about it and I hope it can endure all the weather that comes its way.

I also have human friends who nourish me.  Their care provides for my inner weather. When I am sunny they smile with me.  When I am troubled by some storm they listen and rarely argue.  They just allow me to talk.  Good friends are like that.  They know that often the best cheering up is to say nothing. They just listen until my storm subsides.

Life would be unbearable without friends.  To sit home alone and think only of one’s self creates a horrible downward spiral.  Psychologists say solitary confinement in a windowless prison cell is one of the worst punishments.  We are above all things social creatures, not made to be alone.  We need contact.  Of course the One who created us knows that.  That is why He promises to be available 24/7.  Just call.  He’s a great listener.  He is the best of friends and like my birch tree; He provides constant company and lots of oxygen.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 15, 2011

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