If Solomon Had Known Jesus

When King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes he was obviously tired, discouraged and disheartened. It is the thoughts of a man worn out and satiated. He had used his enormous wealth to glut his whole being with the things of the world. Nothing brought him pleasure anymore. He had grown useless to himself and his people.

Listen as I read just a few verses from Eccl. 1:8, “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.”

Solomon needed to sit down with the apostle Paul who would have argued with him. Paul says, 1 Cor. 2:9, “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.'”

Solomon was not the wisest man who ever lived. Paul was head and shoulders wiser than Solomon. Maybe they both had the same IQ but Paul knew something Solomon did not. Paul knew Jesus Christ. It made all the difference. Solomon had seen everything the world had to offer. Paul knew Jesus offers us so much more than this world. Solomon fed off the world. Paul fed from the deep things of God because of His walk with Jesus.

If we want to be really rich, if we want an endless experience of growth into the deep things of God and His universe, Jesus is the abundant never-ending source of truth and happiness.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 31, 2012

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



He Delivers

Close your eyes and visualize this scene.  We are the only customers in Papa Gino’s.  We are patiently waiting for our pizza when a loud voice echoes past all the other empty tables.  #78!!  While picking up our order from the counter I noticed the sales ticket had printed at the bottom, “We deliver.” So I called to the manager, “What is your minimum delivery distance?” “Minimum?” he said, “There is no minimum.  We would deliver across the street.” So I asked, “Then why didn’t you bring my pizza to my table which is fifteen feet away?” Much to his credit, I have to say, he apologized. I expected guff.

On my way home I thought of Psalm 50:15 where God says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver . . .”   Now, I am sure while Papa Gino’s has no minimum delivery distance they have to have a maximum distance unless they use Fedex.  How grand it is that God has no minimum or maximum delivery distances and best of all there is no waiting two or three business days.  As a matter of fact He does even better.   “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!”  Isaiah 65:24.  Can you imagine going to Papa Gino’s and as you walk in the door they are standing there with your order before you had even placed your order?

This is a great family to belong to.  Our Heavenly Father is the best.  He knows our needs.  He anticipates our prayers.  He will supply us with all our needs.  Philippians 4:19.   He delivers.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 30, 2012

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


Eons Ago

Eons ago I belonged to a paramilitary organization called the Medical Cadet Corps. In the summers we met at Grand Rapids, Michigan to play soldier for a few weeks.  Don’t ask why.  Having the esteemed rank of captain made me responsible for several platoons and needless to say I was jealous for their excellent performance and decorum.  One hot July afternoon we scheduled a full dress five mile march through the downtown streets of Grand Rapids.  Everyone looked magnificent until we were about a mile into the march and then it happened.  Several young men had filled their canteens with A&W root beer instead of water.  It does not take much imagination to know what their uniforms looked like while marching with a shaking canteen.  Someone the night before had made an unauthorized visit out of camp.

Sometimes it is difficult to ferret out disobedience and sometimes it stares you in the face. Actually it is never difficult for God because He does see everything.  But for humans it can be much more challenging and usually is none of our business.  On occasion we find ourselves in the midst of a witch-hunt; the results of which rarely ever have a positive result. If the sin is blatant and brings harm and disgrace to a community occasionally it must be dealt with.  However, most of the time when we think we must act we end up causing yet another layer of harm, often worse than the original offense.

Sin has its own rewards.  Actually that is why it is sin.  If it doesn’t then God is not displeased and neither should we be.  So often what upsets us isn’t sin at all but merely a violation of some exacerbated social norm.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 26, 2011

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



My Character Flaw

Throughout the years I have been most unsuccessful in dealing with a major character flaw.   I do not react nicely when someone tells me I have to do something.  I bristle and my immediate response is, “No, I will not do it.”   This occurs when I get emails that tell me if I am a good Christian I will pass this on to twenty people or I am not patriotic and don’t care about our troops if the email stops with me.  This overt pressure that judges me based on another’s standard makes me not do it.

One of God’s characteristics that I admire is His willingness to work with us.  “Come now let us reason together, says the Lord.”  When He told Abraham about the coming destruction of Sodom He actually negotiated about saving the city.  When He made us He gave us the power of choice.  Yes, there are negative results if we disobey.  However, the negative results are the fruit of the action and not His kicking us if we don’t heed Him.  When Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” He is telling us that we will break His heart when He has to watch us reap the fruit of our foolishness.  When a child follows a path of destruction they are not only hurting themselves but a host of others who love them, especially mom and dad.

Some parents foolishly say, “My way or the highway.”  Our heavenly Father says, “My way is the smart way.  But if you insist by bristling just remember I will always be here to help you pick up the pieces.”  We just missed out on some good things had we obeyed.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 28, 2012

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




A Snarling Rat

Many years ago late in the evening in western Uganda, we came upon a mother lion with three cubs.  Unfortunately she was on the other side of the road from her cubs.  As we slowly moved ahead we were between her and her little ones.  With a roar and huge teeth she attacked the front tire.  I was sure she was going to puncture it and leave us in a precarious situation.  Fortunately that did not happen and we were able to move on.

This afternoon here in New England, we had a new but similar adventure.  A large rat was positioned in the center of a two lane street.  As we slowly moved past, it bared its ugly teeth and leaped at the car.  Amazing! I have never before seen anything like that.  However, I am thinking of revising I Peter 5:8.  “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  I think it should read “the devil prowls around like a snarling rat.”   The lioness was far too beautiful to be compared to the devil and she was doing her motherly duty.  The rat was being just plain mean and nasty as can be.

Whatever, the truth of the text is important to remember.  How often do we play with sinful behavior thinking we are very smart and know how to navigate lest there be any negative results.  That is so egotistical and ignorant.  We have lived a few decades.  The devil has lived thousands of years.  Do we really think we are a match for his treachery?   However, the good news is though we might have to suffer the natural consequences of our foolishness, Jesus will still and always forgive us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 27, 2012

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





Is it just me or do you also develop a slight fear when exiting a store that you will set off the alarm and people will rush upon you to see what you have taken, even when you know you haven’t taken anything?   Just the mere idea that I could be mistakenly accused by a malfunctioning machine makes my blood pressure go up as I slip between the magnetic devices.  It even happens to me at our college library, a place where I should feel secure.

For thousands of years preachers have used the fear of judgment to keep their flocks in line. There are some harsh pictures of judgment in Scripture waiting for the guilty.  The power of such judgment is there will be no need for any false accusations.  God knows all.  All that needs to be done is for the truth about us to be revealed.  There is ample evidence to justify our banishment and death.  Paul says it so well, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

However, (I do love that word “however”) love drives out fear.  We are loved by the One who knows all things and He gives us an amazing option.  John 5:24 says, “Very truly I tell you, 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.”  Please do not miss the words “will not be judged.”  This is so much better than a “get out of jail free” card.  Not only do we not have to show up for judgment we have crossed over from death to eternal life.  Amazing.  Absolutely amazing.  The Gospel is the sweetest message ever spoken.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 2, 2011

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





If you watch television you most likely have seen the heartburn medicine commercials that feature a female physician trying to play a violin in a string quartet or a male physician trying to use a jackhammer on a construction project. The physicians are not doing well.  The voiceover says, “If you don’t want your doctor doing your job why should you be doing his?”  It struck me that many of us are trying to do God’s job.  We are trying to save ourselves. And we are lousy at it.  Selfishness is embedded so deeply within our being that we make a dozen or so selfish decisions every day without even being aware.  Paul was a law-keeper’s law-keeper and he finally cries out, “Who will rescue me from me?”

Romans 7, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  If Paul couldn’t do it, neither can we.

Many of Jesus’ parables were stories about things people saw every day.  The genius behind this was each time they saw those things they were reminded of His teaching.  Since most of us see many commercials it would not be surprising if Jesus was physically among us that He would tell parables based on television commercials.  I am hoping the next time you see a Nexium advertisement you will remember that Jesus is our savior and we don’t have to do it ourselves.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 8, 2012

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



Doing A Few Things Well

Last April two workmen came to my house to measure for a new 96.4 inch by 64.3 inch window by our dining room table.  This morning they arrived to install the new window specially made in Maine.  I have seen windows replaced prior to this and usually there are shims to compensate for deviations.  I think my mouth dropped open in amazement when they slipped it into place.  It was a perfect fit. No shims needed. No light seeping through the edges. I’m not sure there is room for caulking.  Needless to say the workmen were quite pleased.

I should be so good in all the aspects of my life.  When Paul wrote to a young pastor he said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15.  Realistically speaking we can’t be excellent in all things.  We only have enough time to do one or two or if we are brilliant three things well.  So many of us don’t even try things because we know we can’t be perfect at them.  However, life is about growth.  It is not about singing like Caruso or playing ball like Jeter or painting like Homer.  It is about trying and retrying and slowly learning.  Life is about getting better and better each time we try.  And when we fall down we get back up and walk a bit farther.

It is the same with “rightly dividing the word of truth.”  Understanding the Bible is very simple and yet amazingly challenging.  Paul is not for children.  Moving from living by rules to living by principles is scary but ever so rewarding when the light bulb comes on.  Doing something really well takes time.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 24, 2012

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



Living on Autopilot

Have you ever followed a vehicle on an interstate highway for miles and suddenly realized it is gone.  It has been replaced by another and you have no idea when and where the first vehicle went. You look for the first but it is nowhere to be seen. How could this happen?  You were watching the entire time. It is then that you realize you have been on autopilot.  You were listening to the radio or rehearsing what you were going to say when you arrived at your destination.

Unfortunately some of us live on autopilot.  We just go through the motions with little or no thought.  We do things because this is the way it has always been.  If there is any original thought it is because we heard someone else say it.   Some of us are Christians merely because we were raised in a Christian culture.  We belong to a particular denomination merely because our parents did.  We consider others who are different than we to be misguided, wrong or just plain stupid.  And yet we have no real rationale for who and what we are.

I Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you.”  Conscious thought and serious questioning of what we have been taught is part of the abundant life.  It is why God made us in His image.  To think is to be like God.  If he did not desire this of us He would have made us with built in unalterable software.  But what or where would be the joy in that?

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 23, 2012

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



The Painted Face

When I entered the room I noticed a very attractive elderly (older than me) lady sitting with an old geezer.  As I neared her it became very obvious that her face had been painted on.  She had done a good job but on closer examination reality was still there.  The passing of decades had carved out their damage.

I fear scrutiny.  Scrutiny enables others to see flaws, exterior and interior, that we wish were not.  We try to paint over them and are fairly successful as long as someone doesn’t cross the room and begin to scrutinize. God is a scrutinizer.  He sees underneath our pitiful efforts to look good.  In Matthew 23 Jesus really went after a painting crew.  He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

What is frightening about this passage is I am sure most of them believed they were good men.  Most of them were not maliciously treacherous.  They were furious with Jesus not so much because He outted them to the masses but to themselves.  They were scrupulous tithers.  Jesus even told them so.  But it didn’t compensate for the fact that they were human.  Jesus and Darwin were in total agreement regarding the basic nature of humanity.  We are climbers over the weaker.

Mercy.  Grace.  Forgiveness. These are the key ideas to real Christianity.  Without them we are just sophisticated monkeys.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 22, 2012

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