He Knows Our Hearts

I paused to watch some construction.  It reminded me of a childhood summer when several new homes were being built in my neighborhood.  I haunted the masons, carpenters, plumbers and electricians.  They didn’t seem to mind for often they included me in the soft drinks purchased for the mid-morning break.  As a result of such time spent I learned several new vocabulary words for which my mother was shocked and punished me for using.  While I have never again used them I still know them and I am fearful when I become old I might lose my sense of propriety and once again use them.

At the close of Ephesians 2 Paul speaks of God building a “holy temple”.  Christ is the cornerstone and the apostles are the foundation.  He closes with “In Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”   It would not be becoming to lose my propriety and thus bring disrepute on the Spirit that dwells in me.  If I did, would God move out and would I cease to be a “holy temple”?   I am comforted by the Old Testament story of Samuel selecting a replacement for Saul.   I Samuel 16:7 says, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Jesus knows our flesh is weak.  He knows what we want to be. He knows that our humanity often does and says things we would not do if we were in control of our cognitive functions. Just in case someday you hear me saying something awful and you later you see me in heaven, just remember that Jesus was more interested in my heart than my mouth.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 31, 2013

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



“As Always”

Brian Williams, the news anchor for NBC each evening at 6:30, often invites guests to speak to a particular story.  When they are finished Mr. Williams concludes by saying, “As always.”  Since my awareness level has been raised I am hearing it quite often in many arenas.  But what does “As always” mean?   I looked it up and all I could find was “forever” or “no change.”   So if you are my friend and I say to you, “As always” that must mean you will be my forever friend.   However, if I don’t like you and say to you, “As always” that must mean I will never like you.  Ouch. “As always” is a major commitment.  When we get married we only vow until death do us part.

God can make and does make that commitment to us.  John 3:16 is the ultimate “As always” promise.  God so loved – always.   Shall not perish – always.  Have everlasting (always) life.   Hebrews 13:8 puts it this way, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Jesus told His disciples that if we see Him we also see the Father.  In the Old Testament God often comes across as being harsh.  In the New Testament He is like Jesus – very forgiving.  He didn’t change.  As the centuries rolled by people got to know Him better.  The Old Testament is the story of Jehovah contending with the plethora of gods that surrounded Israel.  Sometimes some of the attributes of those pagan gods were transferred to Jehovah.  But finally Jesus came.  That was revolutionary.  Jesus was like dark glasses being taken from human eyes and there was Jehovah and Jesus – the same.  It was awesome.  He is “As always.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 30, 2013

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



Being On-Guard

In 2013 the game four of the World Series ended abruptly when the Red Sox pitcher picked off the Cardinal’s runner on first base.   It was the last out in the bottom of the ninth inning.  One pitch to first and it was over.  The runner was caught napping.  I am tempted to use this as an analogy to us.  Satan is watching to catch us in a weak moment; therefore, we must ever be vigilant.  However idealistic that may sound it is just not practical.  We can lose the joy of salvation by constantly watching out.   Jesus even said to His disciples that last night in the garden, “Watch and pray so you will not fall into temptation.”  But in that context He also noted that as willing as is the spirit, the flesh is weak.  It is a miserable life to be constantly looking over our shoulders without a moment to relax.  There has to be time to relish our salvation and to be happy.

As in all things this is a call for balance.  Yes, we need to be on guard.  No, we should not make ourselves paranoid.  This is where divine help comes to our aid.  The Holy Spirit is our soul-guard.  Upon our request He watches out for us.  When the Spirit sees trouble He warns us by bringing it to our attention.  God knows our need to think about life, our children, our grandchildren, our jobs, our spouse, our communities.  We can live a heads-up life without fear that we will be picked off at first.  The first base coach failed to warn the Cardinal runner.  The Holy Spirit will never fail to warn us.  So relax and enjoy your Christian walk.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 29, 2013

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


When Ink and Paper Become Scripture

When I was in high school I asked my Bible teacher how we knew Scripture was inspired.  His answer was less than inspired.  He said, “Because it says so.”  Then he showed me 2 Timothy 3:16.  “All Scripture is God breathed (inspired) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, . . .”   His answer left me wanting to argue with him but I knew better.  He was a narrow man.   Self-testimony doesn’t prove anything.  I could tell you I was Batman but that wouldn’t make me Batman.  Paul, who wrote 2 Timothy, was not talking about his letters. He did not think he was writing Scripture anymore than David thought that when writing the Psalms.  Paul would especially argue with us about Philemon being Scripture.

Scripture becomes Scripture through the years because of its value and internal worth.  It is useful for teaching, rebuking and correcting.  It draws us closer to God and prepares us to be better people. Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”  An interesting question arises.  What about people who use the Bible for vindictive, selfish purposes?  For them it ceases to be the Word of God.  They have perverted it into something evil.

Reading is a unique process.  When we read we bring all our life experiences to the page.  We filter the words through our wants, needs and education. Each of us reads something different even though we use the same pages.  This is why we very much need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s assistance when we read.  Without the Spirit’s guidance we read what we want to read.  With the Spirit’s tutelage we read what God wants us to know.  Without the Spirit it is ink on paper.  With the Spirit it becomes Scripture.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 28, 2013

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 9457



A Huge Fatal Mistake

On January 8th 1956 Jim Eliot along with four other young men were killed in Ecuador by the very people they were seeking to evangelize.  A memorable statement was found in his journal.  “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  It is a variation of a line written in 1699 by Philip Henry, Matthew Henry’s father.  “He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose.”

Through the years this thought pops into my head at the least provocation.  Today I got this month’s copy of Popular Mechanics and once again I thought of it as I read the cover article, “Survival Secrets – 20 Fatal Mistakes.”  It tells us how to cope with dangerous situations. But it neglected to tell us how to cope with the reality that we all will die somewhere, somehow.  So I will.  You and I are going to die.  Now comes the very big and huge HOWEVER.  However, when we accept Jesus we instantly crossover from death to life. John 5.  Jesus, the one who never lies, said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”  John 11

I do understand why Popular Mechanics did not mention this. But I would be remiss if I did not. Jesus – The Resurrection is the headliner of our lives.  As Jim Eliot said this is something we cannot lose. No one can snatch it from us. It is the gift that keeps on giving forever and ever and ever and ever.  Please don’t make the really fatal mistake of not accepting the gift.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 11, 2013

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


Self? Defense

It’s interesting to see what becomes of churches that are sold.  Some remain churches but others become almost anything.  A church we built in Calhoun, GA. became a bank. This afternoon I passed a church that now serves as a martial arts center. If we think of martial arts as being the skill to defeat others in physical combat, there is an irony involved.  If we think of martial arts as learning the ability to defend oneself there is an interesting correlation with the church’s original intent.  Peter tells us in his first epistle, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Let’s be honest. We are no match for Satan.  He has been around for the entire history of earth. He knows people and how to defeat us.  We need self-defense.

Actually self-defense really is a poor term to use because we can never learn enough to be a match for him. However, Psalm 91 is very reassuring. There is a defense for us.  “If you say, ‘The LORD is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”

We can never forget Daniel’s response to the king after Daniel spent the night with some very hungry lions.  “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me.”  Awesome.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 13, 2013

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



Today I heard someone use the word “fetching” as in “She is very fetching.”  I think it has been years, perhaps decades, since I have heard that word.  Words are like clothes and haircuts.  They go out of fashion.  When I sit down to write I have different piles of words on my desk.  There is a pile of nouns and a pile of verbs.  Then there are piles of adverbs and piles of adjectives.  There is no end to the various ways they can be assembled into sentences. “Fetching” is in the adjective pile.   However, if we remove the “ing” the result is “fetch.”  Then it moves over to the verb pile.  “My dog is a retriever but does not know it.  She will not “fetch.”

Perhaps “fetching” has grown old because of the women’s movement. It sounds pejorative.  I am reminded of Samson saying to his father.  “The woman pleases me.  Get (fetch) her for me.”  It sounds so much better to say she is lovely, pretty or beautiful.

One thing for sure is God does not fetch us.  He could.  He is all powerful.  Instead He comes to us. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”  Talk about respect.  He will never force us to come nor will He force His way on us.  He is inviting.  He woos.  He loves us and longs for our company but He knows what love is.  Love cannot be forced or fetched.  Love draws.  Love creates desire.  If you have not read I Corinthians 13 recently, do so.  Delight yourself by reading it in a few different translations for different nuances.  God is not self-seeking.  All that He does He does for us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 25, 2013

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




I am sitting here staring at a blank piece of paper.   It is wonderful.  It is potential.  It is something grand waiting to happen.  It is a poem or perhaps an essay.  It is a Pulitzer prize waiting to happen.  There is a wonderful children’s song that goes something like this.  “I am a P.  I am a PO.  I am a POT.  I think you know where it is headed.  While a child is not a blank they can indeed be molded, inspired and transformed into something marvelous by recognizing and utilizing their talents.

I bristle when I hear people trying to motivate children by telling them they can be anything they desire.  All they have to do is want it bad enough to work hard.  That is just not true. There are limits for everyone. I never could have been a gold medalist marathon winner at the Olympic Games.  I didn’t choose the right parents.  My legs are too short to compete with long legged runners.  I have IQ limits that keep me from being another Einstein.  I have creativity limits that keep me from being a Shakespeare.

But what we all can be is far more wonderful than any of the above.  We all can be citizens of God’s Kingdom.  We can all live forever.  We can grow forever and surely then there will be no limits because time will no longer be a limitation.  We can all have our sins forgiven.  We can all learn to be the kindest, most caring person in our environment.   Those wonders have no connection to our short legs or average IQ.   What we are is a “POTENTIALITY.”   We have no idea how wonderful we will be.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 24, 2013

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



My Snow Globe

One of my favorite boyhood possessions was a snow globe my dad bought for me at Niagara Falls.  I would sit by my bedroom window and turn it over and over making it snow inside that little glass world.  It didn’t matter what the weather was outside my window.  I could make it snow any time I wanted as long as I had my snow globe.  It was a little world inside my big world; which is like our personal world inside the world at large.  The world at large is filled with hustle and rushing and wars and endless strife.  We have the power to create our own personal world.  We can fill it with Jesus and create a pre-heaven.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”   Once we let Him in things change.  Our personal world is filled with peace and we are sheltered from the strife of the outside world.  We can watch the news and see what is happening in the outside world but we don’t have to let it change our personal world with Jesus.

When we accept Jesus we are adopted into God’s family.  We become citizens of God’s Kingdom and can begin to reap the benefits of citizenship.  Our personal world can be such that when we move to heaven it will be but a change of address more than a change of atmosphere.  It is amazing what power God shares with us. We don’t have to let the world tell us how to live.  Real living can be grand inside our personal world.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 23, 2013

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



Special Places

There is a location on our evening walk where the wind blows the leaves into a pile.   Each night while my dog walks around the pile I shuffle my feet through it  making as much of a mess as possible.  Some nights I even turn around and do it again.  My wife nailed it when she said, “Are you being a little boy again?” I think somewhere in heaven there is a secret location with a workbench, saws, hammers, planes, sawdust, finished and unfinished products.  Guess who frequents it.  I doubt if we will be invited in.  This is special.

Going back to special places can be risky.  We have memories of how something was and we risk it not being that way when we return.   Real estate developers, highway construction, growth or decay of trees and painters can transform a place so that it is little like we recall.  Then it is spoiled for us.   As I race down an interstate highway I often wonder what farms, barns, houses, special places are no more because of Eminent Domain and our rush to go somewhere.  When people lose their homes because of fire or flood I feel so sorry if they lost their pictures.  Couches and chairs can be replaced but not pictures filled with memories of bringing home those babies and watching them take their first steps.

John 14 is intriguing.  Could it be that those homes uniquely prepared for us are filled with photo albums, special pets, an old train set, a pair of worn-out sneakers?  Don’t quickly count it out.  I Corinthians 2:9 does say, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 22, 2013

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