Microsoft XP

On April 8 Microsoft Windows will cease supporting its XP operating system. The reason they are giving is they can no longer keep it secure.  There are bad guys out there creating computer viruses that can use the XP operating system to access your computer and do major damage to your precious pictures, financial records and other work files.  The message they are broadcasting is “Do not continue using or you will be sorry.”

3,500 years ago God via Moses sent us some important security information.  He told us not to kill, not to steal, not to tell bad stories about our neighbors and other important warnings.  The message was if you do these things you will be sorry.  Unfortunately Satan jumped in telling us that if we did these things God will be furious with us and severely punish us.  That is just not so.  That is like telling us if we continue to use XP after April 8, Microsoft will send infectious software to wreck our computers.  Obviously that is not so.  What Microsoft is saying is there will be consequences to our continued use, but not caused by them.   God is saying to us there will be ruinous consequences to certain behaviors, not because He is punishing us, but because the ruinous consequences will be the natural results of doing these forbidden things.  They are forbidden because He doesn’t want us to be hurt.  He is a parent telling his children not to play baseball in the middle of an interstate highway.

Smart people will upgrade their computers, or replace them, with newer systems.  Smart people will not steal, not kill or not covet because they are smart.  Be smart listen to the experts.  God is the expert on human behavior.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 31, 2014

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


Beautiful Old Homes

Our little city is peppered with beautiful old homes.   Victorians and other styles reek with elegance.  Many of them are impeccably maintained with elaborate paint and manicured lawns while others show their years.   They are like people.  We are incredible mansions which God’s spirit wants to inhabit.  Paul calls us temples.  Just like old homes some are well cared for and others have been neglected.  Some are well groomed and exercised and others have spent way too many hours on a couch with a remote control in hand.

As spring comes and dirty snow piles slowly vanish winter’s broken branches and other refuse litter lawns.  Any day now we will have a seventy degree weekend day and snow shovels will be replaced with rakes, edgers and mowers.  Daffodils and crocuses will decorate walkways.  It is a grand time of the year.

As for us we can begin to undo the ravages of the blizzards that gave us a legitimate excuse for not going for that all important daily walk.  After all it really wasn’t safe with the snow narrowed streets and icy footing.  However, those excuses as good as they were have melted away.  God’s temple, you and I, need to vacuum the floor, wash the windows and dust out the cobwebs.  We need to move.

For those of you who live in warm comfortable climates, I know you can totally ignore this because I know you have not allowed yourself to go to pot and you have impeccably cared for yourselves.

The definition of sin is doing anything that is harmful to others or to self.  We definitely don’t want to sin against ourselves let alone the others we live with.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 29, 2013

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

I Can Hardly Believe It

I couldn’t believe it.  There was a freezer in the supermarket with half gallon containers of ice cream for 85 cents.  The sign read “Being Discontinued.”  Really?  This was good stuff.  It wasn’t a cheap brand or some weird flavor like “Tuna Fish.”  I could barely contain myself for my good fortune as I picked up Chocolate Chip for me and Butter Pecan for my wife.  I am going back tomorrow for more.  But I really doubt if there is any left over.

I couldn’t believe it.  We just switched over to FIOS and I was having serious issues getting my email to work on my laptop.  Just then the phone rang.  It was a technician from Verizon asking if everything was alright.  In less than five minutes he had me up and running.

I couldn’t believe it.  I found gasoline on sale for a dollar a gallon.  No, not really. I was just kidding. (Wishing)

However, I still have a difficult time believing that the Creator of the Universe became one of us and suffered as horribly as He did so we can live forever.  I do believe it but it pushes my faith envelope.  I just don’t understand our value to Him.  Then it is that I look at my wife, my sons and grandchildren.  Would I do the same for them?  Absolutely, yes.  But there is a disturbing text in Romans 5:10. “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.”  We aren’t talking about dear ones.  We are talking about enemies.  Hard to believe but none-the-less true.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 26, 2013

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


A Ticket Pocket

While looking at suits I noticed one with four exterior coat pockets.  There were the usual three.  One on each lower side and the handkerchief pocket on the upper left, but there was a fourth on the right side above the lower traditional pocket.  I had no idea what that was.  I assumed it was merely for style.  My education continued.  I learned it is called a ticket pocket.  It is for travelers who ride the train.  When the conductor comes by asking for your ticket, one does not have to go searching inside pockets.  It is outside on the right in the ticket pocket.

If I had such a suit I would write John 5:24 on an index card and put it in the ticket pocket.  “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.”  That’s my ticket out of here.  One-way.  I am not interested in a roundtrip.

The irony of this coveted ticket is ironic.  Initially it is a gift with no strings attached.  However, once we have it in our possession something strange occurs inside us.  We become overwhelmed by an obligation of love.  We feel urges to reach out to aid others.  We want to do good things.  The feelings seem to intensify from wants to have-tos.  Have you ever been in a store and you see something that you absolutely have to buy for someone?  It seems to have been made just for them.  It fits their personality and they just have to have it.  This is the way it is with Jesus.  Our urge to be like Him grows into a have-to-be-like-Him.  Love and gratitude do that to us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 28, 2014

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


The Only Sure Thing

The creators of the very popular computer game Candy Crush went public this morning on the New York Stock Exchange.   Someone told me to be sure to buy stock because this was a sure thing.   If I purchased shares I would be guaranteed to make money.  It opened this morning priced at $22.50 a share.   It closed at $19.00.   Down over 15%.   Phew.  I did not buy any.  We will see what happens as the week moves along.    One of life’s great lessons is there is only one thing that is a sure thing.  Jesus is life’s only surety.   The rest of this world is a fickle place.   Your best friend can become your worst enemy.   Your expensive car can leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Your dog can be run over.   Your cat just won’t care.  Your church can decide you are a heretic.   Your spouse can find another.  Your portfolio can crash.  There isn’t any other guarantee other than Jesus.  He said and He meant it.  “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Cain killed his brother Abel. David abandoned one of his mighty men to be killed at the front of a battle. Jesus’ disciples loved Him but they left Him alone in Gethsemane.  Judas kissed Him on that horrible night.  Perhaps the greatest of all life’s challenges is to be faithful no matter what. Jesus was. Our Lord collapsed face into the dirt with his fingernails dug into the soil with Satan pressing Him to surrender because we were not worth it.  Jesus thought we were.  If God so freely gave us His only Son how will He not freely give us anything else we need. Oh, there is one more thing I want to say just in case I did not make it clear.  Jesus is a SURE thing.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 27, 2014

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



An Old Friend Returned

In yesterday’s mail I received a book that I had given to one of my African students more than forty years ago.  Somehow that book found its way back to America and into the hands of an old friend in Illinois who posted it to me.  It feels good to hold it in my hands.  It is like being united with an old friend.  Inside the cover is my father-in-law’s name in his handwriting.  I found notes in the margins that I had written.  Unlike what we were taught when we were still illiterate, books are made to write in.  The margins are there for us to dialogue with the author.  What saddened me was no one else had added anything in forty years.  There were no underlinings nor comments that I had not made.  The book is entitled Christ’s Object Lessons.

It is a grand book about the parables of Jesus.  It must have wondered why no one was talking with it. Perhaps it thought everyone knew what it had to say and that it no longer had purpose.  I want to dispel that erroneous thought.  Tonight I shall read a few chapters and add fresh notes to the margins.  I will restore its sense of self-worth and value, for it contains an extremely valuable message.

Books are useless if all they do is decorate our homes. But if we open them and allow them to speak to us they become alive.  They integrate with our thoughts and give us fresh perspectives on life and life’s challenges. My book will be happy this evening as it realizes it is feeding me again and revitalizing my understanding of Jesus’ parables.  I wish it could tell me how it got back to America and into the hands of one of my old friends who cared enough to send it to me.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 26, 2014

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

Elder/Energy Services

This afternoon we passed a helping agency with a large sign reading, “Elder Services.”   That was the top line.  Below in equal sized letters, “Energy Services.”  Wow  That is my kind of place.  I need to stop and see how they supplement my energy level.  After a visit perhaps I can hike the Appalachian Trail or ride my bicycle across the country.   When I was young and full of energy I used to think Isaiah 40:31 was literal.  “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   Now I am more inclined to think of it as a metaphor.   One of my classes is on the fourth floor and while there is an elevator I choose to use the stairs.  I confess I feel a bit smug when I see younger men than I coming out of the elevator.  Sometimes it feels good to be smug.  Is that so wrong?  Can’t I have at least one vice?

We live in an energy conscious world and the Gospel of Jesus is loaded with energy.  The New Testament word for “power” has the same root as the word “dynamite.”  In Romans 1 Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

It takes a lot of power to change a life.  But nothing is too difficult for God.  He has the power to turn the focus of our hearts from self to others.  That alone is huge.  It took incredible amounts of power for Jesus to continue to choose to go through Gethsemane to the cross.  Perhaps I should reconsider regarding Isaiah 40.  Maybe it’s not a metaphor.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 25, 2014

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


A Great Investment Opportunity

Yesterday we received in the mail an amazing offer from Discover Card.  They offered us 0.85% if we would open a savings account with them.  The fabulous increase in our wealth would be 85 cents a year (or a candy bar or 1/4th a gallon of gas) for each 100 dollars we put in our account.  Considering they will then lend out our 100 dollars at 19.95% makes them $19.10 profit on each 100 dollars.  Not a bad business to be in.  In downtown Boston they call that loan sharking.

If you are looking for an excellent return on an investment find an aspiring young person who needs an education.  When we enable someone to grow and enhance their life we are making an investment in our community and our nation.  We are making life better not only for them but for all of us.  The return on an enhanced life eclipses any amount of monetary return.

God invests in us.  He gives us life.  He gives us talents.  He gives us opportunities.  God is an investor.  Nothing satisfies Him more than to see us prosper and I am not talking about checking accounts.  Prosperity comes in many forms and the best prosperity is that of a happy life with a solid philosophical and spiritual foundation.  Some television preachers preach the “Prosperity Gospel.”  What that usually means is send them money and then wait for God to put it back in your bank.

The “Prosperity Gospel” is real.  But it isn’t about cash.  It’s about great relationships with people around you.  It’s about knowing with certainty that you have already begun to live forever because you have accepted the promises of Jesus.  Forget Discover Card and invest your life with Jesus.  The returns are out of this world.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 24, 2014

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


Eating with Jesus

Each evening after the network news comes a half an hour of pure drivel about popular people, some whose only reason to be famous is that they are famous.  Some are actually talented and we reward them with our adoration and dollars.  The latest absurdity I have seen is Shaquille O’Neal’s willingness to follow us on Instagram for $500 or for the well-heeled, one can have breakfast with Mr. O’Neal at his home for $15,000.

Oh, but the mobs are fickle. In Mark 1 we read of the results of Jesus’ healing a leper, “Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.”  So where were the crowds on that Thursday night in Gethsemane when He was alone?   Actually the religious leadership wanted to get Him on the cross early in the day lest the crowds did riot in His favor.   They did their evil in the darkness of night.

I was wondering how much I would be willing to pay to have breakfast with one of Jesus’ disciples or Paul.  The reason I did not say Jesus is because we already have an invitation to sup with Him.  And we don’t have to go to His house.  He will come to us.  “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”   Jesus does not require a check.  “. . . will He (God) not also with Him freely give us all things? …”  Romans 8:32.  This Jesus of ours is amazing.  He really deserves our adoration.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 20, 2014

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

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

I was an adult before I realized what the story of the three bears was all about.  I mistakenly thought it was about a little blond girl that got lost in the woods.  It’s about compromise. It’s a good thing I didn’t understand this when I was a child because I went to church with people that thought “compromise” was a dirty word.  They taught me that once one takes a position one should dig in and recognize that any argument that refutes one’s position is a crafty ploy from Satan.  Logic should be spurned in lieu of faith, faith being a code word for stubbornness.

Then one day I read Luke 10.  “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “?‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”  This is followed by the story of the Good Samaritan.  And how do I love God?   Jesus said, “If you did it unto the least of them you did it unto me.”

It isn’t about my side and your side.  It’s about our side.  It’s about making life work because we are able to love enough to understand the other’s point of view.  I am not talking about surrendering principles, because there really is only one eternal principle.  Everything else is too hard or too soft, too cold or too hot.   Love finds the “just right” position.  When I was a pastor I loved my conservatives and my liberals because when they talked we got good things done.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 21, 2014

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