Zero to Two Hundred

It’s called a Hennessy Venom GT Spyder.  Believe it or not this is a production car that does 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds and 0 to 200 in 15.3 seconds. It takes me that long just to get out of my chair.  This incredible acceleration is possible because it has 1244 horse power and only weighs 2473 pounds.  On top of all that it is beautifully designed. It can be yours for only 1.1 million dollars.  They made 6 this year.  I’m not sure about the gas mileage but if you can pay that much for a car who cares about the price of gas.

What would one do with all that power?  “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases . . .” Luke 9:1  Probably there isn’t a pastor in the world who has not dreamed of having that power.  It’s part of our nature.  Little guys put on capes and pretend to be Superman.  We want to do spectacular things. We want to help people.  There is so much need.

Perhaps the issue is trust.  There is an old axiom about power corrupting and absolute power absolutely corrupting. We would most likely start off being controlled and generous but soon we would start doing little things for ourselves and then bigger and bigger things. Then there is the issue of the adoration and affirmation one would receive.  I have been fascinated by the verses that tell us that often after doing something incredible Jesus would slip away to be alone.  We need power but too much power is dangerous – dangerous to others and mostly to ourselves.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 31, 2013

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


We Love Being Loved

The award season is upon us.  There are the Grammy’s, the People’s Choice Awards, the Country Music Awards, the Golden Globes Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Academy Awards and on and on.  I wonder why we watch them.  I’m guessing we have a vicarious experience with all the glamour and affirmation.  I am a tad amused when the winner says to the audience, “I love you.”  Really?  What is really happening is we as humans love to be loved.  Receiving adoration from the masses is intoxicating.  Few can resist the euphoria of the moment.

In Acts 12 there is a scary story about Herod Agrippa I.  “On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”  He obviously didn’t receive a lifetime achievement award.  Or maybe he did.

The fact is God created us to be loved – primarily by Him and then by others.  The whole purpose of our being is for us to be part of His family.  Many years ago I received a phone call telling me one of my church members was on a twelfth story hotel ledge.  I spent most of an hour trying to get him to come in.  Finally in desperation I said, “You have to come in because I love you.”  It was magic.  All of his pain seemed to wash away as he reached out his hand and came in.  Surely there is no more important message for us to proclaim other than, “Jesus loves you.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 30, 2013

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


Standing on Shoulders

When one walks about in Westminster Abbey it is difficult not to be awed by those buried there.  We can start with Chaucer and work our way through the centuries.  Poet laureate Ben Jonson is buried upright. Henry Purcell, Isaac Newton, George Handel, Charles Dickens, David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, Robert Browning, Rudyard Kipling are just a sampling of the greats.  Many are below the floor and one finds oneself standing on a great person’s marker.  When I was a boy my Dad taught me that it was disrespectful to walk on people’s graves.  However, one cannot avoid doing so in Westminster.

While walking from marker to marker I realized that all of us stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before.  Those individuals would be shocked to see our modern technology but we are not smarter than they.  We just have more information. That information came by building on information we inherited from them. Our children will know more than we because we teach, they learn and they build upon it.

Recently I heard a foolish person talking about being self-made. It is a completely ridiculous thought.  It is impossible to be self-made.  We are the product of all the learning and wisdom of those gone before us.  Carl Sagan once wisely said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch you must first create the universe.”  And so it is with our salvation. We are not self-saved.  We have no righteousness to bring before God.  Eternity is built on the sacrifice of God Himself.  He made us.  He took responsibility for us and died for us.  We are the product of love and it doesn’t get any better than that.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 29, 2013

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

If I Were a Bell

When I was very little before we moved to the country I loved Sunday mornings. One of the local churches rang the bell in their steeple to call people to worship.  It was so beautiful as it echoed through the neighborhood.  I have loved church bells ever since.  Sometimes while waiting for a traffic light in town church bells begin.  I quickly open the car windows to get the full effect.  Bells can be pealed for joyous occasions such as a wedding.  Bells can be tolled for sad occasions.  One of the famous lines in literature is by John Dunne, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Or bells can be rung just to tell us it is noon.

If I were a bell I would peal instead of toll.  On occasion I hear sermons filled with gloom and doom. Instead I would peal the love of our Jesus and the transforming power of His grace to make us better people.  We have so much to peal.  Why burden people with bad news?  They get loads of that from CNN, NBC and FOX.  Sometimes we wonder why attendance at church is low.  Could it be that people come weary and leave even more so?  The Gospels are the GOOD NEWS.

Recently I read an interesting article about ten ways the world can come to an end.  It covered everything from volcanoes to nuclear war.  However, the best way wasn’t mentioned.  So let us peal it out loud and clear.  Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 23, 2012

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

Living in the Dark

When classes last three hours I sometimes end up sitting on the desk.  It is a vulnerable position because during winter mornings in Massachusetts it is dark when I get up.  Sometimes I end up with mismatched socks much to the amusement of my students.  But this morning I graduated to a new level of unawareness.  Halfway through the day I suddenly realized my shoes were not matched.  They didn’t even look alike.  One was dark brown and the other light brown.  I am so glad I did not have a class today.  I do cultivate the frumpy professor look but this is more in the absent minded professor category.

Getting dressed in the dark is one thing but some people live in the dark.  They don’t have a clue what they are missing if they don’t know Jesus.  Without Jesus they have to cope with their guilt.   Without Jesus they run out of life after a few decades.  Without Jesus life’s great questions, why am I here, where am I going, go unanswered.  Without Jesus there is no hope for anything more than one can manage to grab onto in a short life.

With Jesus “our citizenship is in heaven.”  Philippians 3:20  Heavenly citizenship comes with a privileged passport that merits unlimited visas.  With Jesus life has purpose far beyond the important human responsibility of family.  It is difficult to think of anything more important that raising a healthy family but beyond our imaginations there await us goals and tasks to challenge our ever-growing intellects and characters.  With Jesus we move into the light and out of the darkness.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 6, 2014

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

Paul in Philippi

Paul was not to be trifled with. Philippi was a Roman colony where Rome had sent 300 distinguished veterans of the Roman legions to provide leadership and a strong Roman presence. Enter Paul, himself a Roman citizen.  As he moves through the city he is followed by a servant girl who continually calls out, “These men are servants of the most high God and they are telling you how to be saved.”  One would think Paul would have appreciated this but she was a major distraction from his preaching so he cast the spirit out of her.  Her owner, realizing his loss of her special powers, dragged Paul and Silas before the city magistrates, not Romans, and had Paul and Silas beaten and jailed.

The beating was not the savage kind that Jesus received but never-the-less significant.  During the night an earthquake broke the prison doors and their chains.  It is then that the magistrates discover Paul is a Roman citizen and they had beaten him without a trial. Realizing their predicament they tried to get Paul to quietly leave town.  Ah, no.  Paul will not hear of it. He made the magistrates come to the prison, publicly apologize and personally escort him to freedom all the time knowing the Romans in town would definitely hear of this travesty.  Paul would not let them sweep it under the rug.

In Philippians 3 Paul acknowledged while he was pressing toward the goal of being like Jesus, he, Paul, had not yet attained.  On the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them.”  In Philippi, Paul made a public spectacle of his persecutors.  Oh, I’m sure he forgave them.   But not before he got his pound of flesh.  I love it that Paul was as humanly flawed as you and I.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 8, 2014

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

Jesus Wins

We are fortunate enough to have the DVDs for the third season of the wildly popular and excellent PBS drama of Downtown Abby.  We now have to be careful when we are talking to our friends who are watching it each Sunday evening on PBS.  We know how it ends and we don’t want to spoil it for them.  While walking my dog this evening in the almost zero degree night I was thinking how very opposite this is from knowing what Jesus says about the end of the world as we know it.  We should tell it to everyone.  Jesus tells us to tell.

Jesus said, “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”  Matthew 24

Paul adds his input in I Thessalonians 4. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

Sometimes in our eagerness and zeal we add a lot of details from our imaginations and give the impression we know more than we really do.  The centuries have not been very kind in bearing out our man-made details.  To be safe I have learned to stick to the basics.  Jesus wins.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 24, 2013

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


My Bad Haircut

I got a really bad haircut today.  For reasons unknown to me my regular barber wasn’t open today so I went just down the street to a new place. I should have known better.  The place opened just a month ago and didn’t look overly busy.  Going to a barber is like going to a diner.  Don’t go if you never see any cars parked outside.  Maybe going to a church is like that.  Go where the parking lot is full.  Something is happening inside.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus is found in Matthew 8.  A man with leprosy was looking for Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t too hard to find.  The leper just went where the crowd was.  Getting to Jesus would have been a problem for some but not for a leper.  As he came near the people were repulsed by his appearance and smell.  Everyone got out of his way lest they be touched by him.  “He knelt before Jesus and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.”

What I love about this story is that Jesus touched him prior to taking away the disease.  That is so much like Jesus.  No matter what our problems, our sins, our mistakes, our lousy past, Jesus is willing to first touch us and make us clean.

The crowds aren’t always right.  To the contrary history teaches us the crowds are often wrong. But the crowds that found Jesus were very right.  The man’s leprosy was gone never to grow back.  Fortunately for me, my hair will grow back.  It’s a great life.


Written by Roger Bothwell on January 23, 2013

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


Ever So Silently

I just came in from walking my dog.  We didn’t stay out very long. It’s a breezy 10 degree night and I wondered about her feet.  The moon is busy painting shadows on the snow cover.  It would be impossible to sneak up on someone because the snow is creaky and crunchy.  When I was a boy I read lots of stories about Indians walking silently through the forest.  I thought that was wonderful and used to try to do it.  Carefully I would avoid stepping on a stick that would snap and echo through the trees.

God is very good at moving silently through the forest.  He could even cross our creaky, crunchy snow without a sound.  He is excellent at sneaking up on us.  Frankly speaking, He is a stalker.  He cannot help Himself.  When one loves someone they want to see them, be with them, and share with them.  Psalm 139 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

I used to think the prodigal son’s father went out to the road each day watching for his son.  But now I think differently. With the resources he had I am sure he had people watching his son everyday and reporting back to him.  With great joy he heard that his son was on his way home and he ran to meet him.  There was never a day he did not know where he was.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 22, 2013

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


Collecting Memories

“The business of life is the collecting of memories.”* If we are to have memories to collect we have to make them. When we are young we are way too busy, we give little thought to memory making.  There is no time.  We have so much energy to use we cannot waste it sitting about reminiscing.  Birthdays are stepping stones to adult privileges.  Each candle is twelve months closer to one’s driver’s license.  Each diploma or degree is one step closer to the fulfillment of a career. Somewhere in the middle of it all we begin attending alumni weekends and begin sentences with “Do you remember.”  Photo albums become the treasures we would rescue from a burning building.

If one is to build a good life one must build good memories.  If we are to look back to a fraternity of friends we need to make friends along the way.  If when we look back we see enemies, most likely we had something to do with making them.  However, that is not always so.  Enemies happen.  We cannot control other’s feelings or reactions.  Occasionally we give offense and don’t even know it.  I wish I could say we were in complete control but alas that is not the case.

It is a wonderful thing that Jesus forgives our transgressions.  But how much better had we not transgressed. If life is about collecting memories, and it is, we can craft the major portion by making good decisions.  If we are ever in doubt regarding a decision the best bet would be to choose what God instructs.  He’s been around a while.  He knows.  Listening to the smartest being in the room is the smartest thing to do.  It makes for good memories.

*Herb Gardner – “I’m not Rappaport”

Written by Roger Botthwell on January 22, 2014

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