Resolutions or Wishes

It’s the last day of the year.   It’s time to make resolutions.  It’s time to set ourselves up for failure and loss of self-esteem.  At least that is what happens to me when I make a list of resolutions.   I never make it to February before they are all thorns in my ego.    So instead of a list of resolutions I want to make a list of wishes.

#1  I wish I could eat a normal amount of food without gaining weight.

#2  I wish I could watch television without commercials.

#3  I wish I could get the benefits of a five-mile walk by sitting in my favorite chair.

#4  I wish I could be thirty again but still know what I know now.

#5  I wish all my family (sons, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren) will be smart enough to accept Jesus’ extremely generous offer.

#6  I wish conservatives and liberals would respect each other’s ideas.

#7  I wish people with guns would only shoot bad guys.

#8  I wish a cure for all kinds of cancer would be discovered in 2014.

#9  I wish people would stop blowing up themselves and others.

#10I wish this was the year John 14:1-4 would happen.

And finally – I wish television preachers would stop begging for money.

Wishes are much better than resolutions.  When next December comes and my wishes haven’t happened my self-esteem will still be intact.  And it goes without saying, “Jesus still loves us.”  I have a suspicion that Jesus has a wish list.  I think some of the things on my list are on His.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 31, 2013

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

Friend – Family – Fan

I opened an envelope to discover a request for a recommendation for one of my past students.  The problem was I did not like him.  He was arrogant and treated others with disdain.  However, he was bright and did good work.  And so I wrote about his talents and never mentioned his miserable personality.  Hopefully the firm would notice not only what I said but what I did not say.

Often the best and most objective evaluations we have about people are not written by the three “F’s” – friends, family and fans.  Which brings me to Pilate’s comments about Jesus in John 19, “I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.” Pilate was not one of Jesus’ three “F’s” And we cannot fail to mention the centurion at the cross. Luke 23:47, “The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”  Neither was he one the three “F”.  We would expect wonderful things to be said about Jesus by Matthew and John.  But these comments by Pilate and the centurion carry a lot of weight.  They are about as objective as one can get.

How can non-believers write about what a good man Jesus was.  How can you say someone is a good person if you don’t believe the things he said – especially about themselves?  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  “I am the water of life.”  “I am the resurrection and the life.”  “My Father and I are one.”

You can discount what I say about Jesus because I am super biased.  He is my friend.  I am family.  I am a fan.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 12, 2013

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


Treasures & Whats & Whys

For Christmas when I was eight my dad gave me Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson. I loved it. I also received Robinson Caruso by Daniel Defoe.  I didn’t love it. I didn’t even like it. The idea of treasure hunting infatuates us.  Is there any of us who has not dreamed of finding a treasure cave filled with unimaginable riches? In the 1800’s over 100,000 people rushed to California for gold.  The ones like Levi Strauss, who sold supplies and clothes to the prospectors, were the smart ones.  That treasure is still producing gold.

Romans 11:33 is our map to riches untold.  These riches are not limited to planet earth.  They are found in the universe. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”  And Jesus said in Luke 12:33, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”  And of course Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Obviously we are not talking about BMW’s and Cadillacs.  We are talking about eternal treasures – the very best kind.  One of my favorite authors, when writing about prayer says, “Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence.” When I was a boy I wanted to know the whats.  Now I want to know the whys.  Jesus promises if we “seek we will find.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 16, 2013

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



The Mylar balloon was caught in a tree a full half mile away yet was visible and bright as it reflected the slanted rays of the evening sun.  As we passed it I found myself wondering how far away Jesus was from Zacchaeus when He, Jesus, first spotted him.  Zacchaeus was a pathetic situation.  He was simultaneously rich and poor.  He collected taxes for the hated Roman Empire and was despised by his community.

The news spread that Jesus was coming through Jericho and Zacchaeus, along with the entire town, flocked to the roadside.  He never had a chance of seeing Jesus.  He was a small man and perhaps that had been a factor in his grab for power and wealth.  There he was most likely the richest man in town deliberately being jostled to the back.  Surely there were many that took extra delight in elbowing him into an impossible situation.

His small size did not get in the way of his cleverness.  Spotting a tree with branches overhanging the road, he cared not for his Hart Schaffner and Marx robe; he climbed that tree.  Surely he had to push some children out of the way.  Then it happened.  Jesus was there and He stopped and He looked up and He called Zacchaeus by name.  Rapture must have swept over him when Jesus asked to come to his house.  I doubt if Zacchaeus ever remembered climbing down.  Jesus was coming to his house!  No one came to his house except other tax collectors.  He was a social pariah.  When Jesus saw him He knew Zacchaeus’ need.  He knew above all things Zacchaeus needed someone to love him.  Jesus loved him.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 27, 2013

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


We have a most unreasonable habit in our home.  If when we return from the grocery store there is still bread left in the pantry.  we put the new fresh bread aside until we have consumed the old bread.  The result being that a few days will pass before we get to the fresh bread, which is no longer fresh.  This seems to occur each week and so we are always eating semi-fresh or using another expression semi-stale bread, while fresh bread is on the shelf.

This seems most illogical and is often like my consumption of God’s Word.  My Bible is right at hand and yet I most likely spend more time reading commentaries and other works that are other people’s interpretations of what various texts mean.  While they are often quite good they can be compared to my semi-stale bread.   Commentaries are good and useful but not nearly as profitable as the power and freshness of the Word itself.   The Holy Spirit attends us as we dig into the depths of His messages to us.  As we seek, He speaks.  Soon we discover real one to one communication with the Creator Himself.

There is a wonderful old hymn that goes something like this.  “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses and He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own.”  There isn’t anything stale and about that even though it is old.  The freshness comes from the uniqueness of your special relationship with Him.  Paul wrote, “The Word of God is profitable for ……..”   Finish the text by going to II Timothy 3:16.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 30, 2013

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



He Coughed

This afternoon at the deli section of our supermarket we ordered some sliced cheese.  Carefully the man put on his gloves to protect us from germs.  The problem was as he was carrying the cheese to the scale he coughed on the new slices.  When I pointed it out to him he acted genuinely surprised.  The question is was he surprised that I pointed it out or surprised that he had unconsciously coughed.  Obviously we did not buy it.

As we walked away I wondered how often we unconsciously sin. I think we would be horrified if we knew.  It is in our nature.  It comes as easily to us as breathing.  Lest at this point you become fearful, thinking if this is true then you are lost. Allow me to reassure you that while God wants us to be perfect, He is very aware that we are not.  Therefore, we are covered with grace.  Ah ha someone will say.  You are using grace to excuse sin.  No, not at all.  Continued deliberate sinning with no effort to do better is abusing God’s love.  Thus we negate our salvation.  But should we want from the depths of our hearts to do better and just not do so does not negate His gift to us.  What we are talking about here is a relationship of love and understanding.  While every parent wants their child to walk without falling that parent does not throw the toddler out of the family because they stumbled.

Jesus said, “If we as humans know how to give good gifts to our children how much more does our heavenly Father.”   We are not better parents than God.  He’s the best.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 27, 2013

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


Love Is The Best Motivator

Today the Christmas music on the radio sounds wonderful.  Forty-eight hours from now it will not be nearly as pretty or satisfying.  The human mind fascinates me because the music will be the same.  It is our minds that are in a different place.  On Christmas Eve, a humble looking man stood outside the door of our grocery store.  He held no sign.  He held no can.  But people consistently gave him money as they departed.  If he stands there two days from now people will most likely call the police.  So what will have changed?  The sun will be the same.  The air we breathe will be the same.  But something will be different. It is our minds that will have changed.

Psychologists, politicians and preachers would love to understand the workings of the mind.  Unfortunately con men seem to be best at this art. Perhaps there isn’t much difference between any of the four I just listed. Politicians promise us a host of good things that rarely materialize. Preachers often manipulate emotions with scare tactics and soft organ music. The problem with that is the effect is short lived.  The next morning people are back to normal wondering what happened to them the day before.  Surely the best way to influence someone is to inspire them instead of frightening them.  While it is true God will accept people whatever the motive (He’s that anxious to save people.) it seems the best way is to instill in them God’s love and care for them.  After all, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world.”   Love is what God is.   You don’t have to be afraid of someone who loves you.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 25, 2008

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



Identity Theft

Identity theft isn’t new.  According to Romans 8:16 we are God’s children and co-heirs with Christ to the treasures of God’s Kingdom.   Since Eden Satan has been extraordinarily active in pursuit of God’s children.  He hates the fact that we are going to inherit something he used to have and stupidly threw away.   He wants us to be as miserable as he.  He is more than a Grinch.   He makes the Grinch look angelic.  This person is evil through and through.  Stealing your identity as a child of God is one of the few joys he has.

I love being a child of God.  It comes with a host of benefits.  We are reborn with a silver spoon in our mouths.  The wisdom of the universe becomes available without a library card.  Health care, including psychiatric care, is available with no co-pay.  Fear for the future dissipates as we grow to realize our Father is in control.  Guilt over our mistakes and overt misbehavior is lavishly washed away.  The stars are no longer decorations of the night but future travel locations.  We will hobnob with Biblical greats, galactic ambassadors, intellectual giants, and creatures beautiful and witty.  I realize at this point I sound like a promoter for Star Trek but far from it.  There are no Klingons on the other side of a neutral zone.  There is no neutral zone.  All will be ours as children of the King.

Our identity as part of heaven’s royalty is our most prized possession.  Don’t leave home without it.

Written by Roger Bothwell on December 24, 2013

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


I really like Nestles Butterfinger candy bars.  However, I cannot seem to get the hang of eating one without making a mess.  Little pieces of the chocolate shell and also the nougat inside end up either on the outside of me or on the floor.  The cleanup process almost counters the enjoyment of the eating.  As I hold one in my hand I weigh the pleasure verses the cost.

It is pretty much the same consideration one must make before committing a sin.  Sinning makes a mess.  It ruins or at least complicates relationships or our health.  Before committing a sin one surely would want to decide if the momentary pleasure is worth the lifelong complications.  God knows these things.  That’s why He has told us that certain things are sin.  He wants us to be happy and He knows the complications that follow certain behaviors.  It’s not that God wants to deprive us of pleasure.  The issue is quite to the contrary.  He wants to prolong our pleasure for many years to come instead of watching us spoil those years with a few minutes of destructive behavior.

The wages of sin mentioned in Romans 6:23 are just that.  The consequences of sin are not God punishing us for certain things.  The wages are the natural fruit of certain behaviors.  It is a sin to put leaded gas in a modern car not because the manufacturer will find us and fine us.  It is a sin because it will ruin modern computer refined engines and catalytic converters.  It is just that simple.  God will not add up the number of times we smoked and subtract a month for each pack.  The cigarettes themselves will do that without God’s interference.

This is not rocket science.  It is just plain common sense.  Listen to Him.  He knows.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 17, 2013

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



Each morning last week I was given mega doses of steroids.  The hoped for results have been stunning and we are pleased.   However, there has been one side-effect.  I can’t taste anything.  I even went to Taco Bell this afternoon to get something super spicy just so I could taste something.  Cold doesn’t register and I also need to be careful of hot things.  As I sat there eating my cardboard tasting bean burrito I realized how we can lose our taste for things.   Our diets, physical and mental, very much shape our desires.  I grew up putting salt on watermelons and cantaloupes.  To this day I need to put salt on them to find them really good.  Some of my friends who grew up without salt on their melons think salt on melons tastes horrible.  It is like liking or not liking olives.

There is a television station that only plays reruns of sitcoms from thirty or so years ago.  I do so enjoy them.  They are pleasant without the violence and smut.  As for most of the (excuse my expressions here) really stupid and usual vulgar reality shows, I just have no appetite for them.  But obviously someone does or they wouldn’t be produced.

Once again I fear insulting your intelligence by mentioning this applies to our reading materials, our music, our styles of worship and our devotional habits.  If one wants to get to really know Jesus one must read what He said,  about what He did, what He promises to do for us and what He does for us right now.  Time spent will whet one’s appetite for more.   Appetites can be changed.  It just takes a bit of effort.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 22, 2013

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