Moderation and Instructions

Upon the birth of his fifth child one of my students in Uganda assured me that was their last child because the doctor gave his wife pills.   About six months later he came to class quite glum.  He told me his wife was pregnant.  He told me he didn’t know why because she took all the pills.  He watched her take them.  All of them – at once!  Talk about a hormone overload – poor lady.

Now I have a choice.  I can talk to you about moderation and not taking too much at once.   Or I can talk to you about following directions.  My father-in-law was a great one for following directions.  Whenever he got something that needed assembling he always read the directions first before doing anything.  He was an accountant.  What would I expect?  He was always a bit frustrated with me because I never got out the instructions until I got stumped, which was most of the time.  Then I had to back up and take things apart and start over.

There are tornadoes, earthquakes and floods that bring great loss to us and are out of our control.  But, most of the bad things that happen to us are the result of bad decisions.  People are killed in cars because someone was drinking or texting.  People go to jail because they made some truly bad decisions regarding that bank down the street.  Most of the bad things that happen to people could have been avoided if they were to follow the instructions for life that God has given to us.

Paul wrote to us about the Scriptures being profitable for instruction.  They really are.  So often we can’t back up and reassemble.  But we can be forgiven.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 30, 2014

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


Thanks, Dennis

One evening, many years ago on a Wednesday night after prayer meeting, I was leaving to drive all night from Des Moines to central Wisconsin.  As I was locking up the church one of my friends said, “Let’s pray for your safety.”   And so he did. (Thanks, Dennis)

About four in the morning I was moving through southern Minnesota on a beautiful straight stretch of highway.  I had not seen another car for miles.  As I looked ahead all I saw was a straight highway with the typical overpasses.  So I thought, “Why don’t I straddle the dotted line between lanes and take a nap.  When I get to that overpass ahead I can recenter on the lines if the car has drifted.”  So I reached down to put my seat back for a bit more comfort.  When suddenly the fasten seat belt light came on with a persistent blinking.  Reaching up I banged on the dashboard and said to the light, “You are keeping me awake.”   It was then that my brain woke up enough to listen to me speaking truth.  I pulled over and went for a walk.  (Thanks, Dennis)

The seat belt light never again malfunctioned. Prayer is a powerful thing.  It is connecting to the source of all power, wisdom and presence.  Prayer is talking to our Father about what we need, not because He does not know, but because it clarifies it for us.  Ever since I read Jesus’ words about our heavenly Father knowing how to give good gifts to His children, I have never since asked God for something more than once.  When my sons ask me for something they only need ask once.  Begging would be insulting.  At least that is how I understand the process.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 29, 2015

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

The Data Collectors

They are called Loyalty Cards.  Supermarkets and pharmacies entice us to use them so we can get discounts.   What they don’t tell us is often our purchase records are sold to life insurance and health insurance companies that analyze our purchases.  It is amazing what computers can do with a list of our consumables.  The information might actually end up costing us higher insurance premiums if we are deemed to have an unhealthy life style thus negating any discount we got from our initial purchases.

God also gathers information about us.  The difference is He never uses the information against us.  Someone might say His records are used to justify our being lost.  Not so.  We are all worthy of being lost.  He doesn’t need any data to support our demise.  What He is doing is gathering data to support our being saved.  Just in case someone somewhere might object to our receiving eternal life all He has to do is produce the record of our accepting His gift.  It’s His gift, thus He has the right to give to whomever He chooses.  He chooses to give it to everyone but we must accept it and that is where the records come into their importance.

Good parents don’t garner in and keep records of their children’s failures and send them out in the Christmas newsletter.  No, they list all the good things their children have done.  God is a good parent.  So what’s the difference between God and Walgreen?  Walgreen loves our money. God loves us.  The difference is huge.

Never forget “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   He loves collecting good data.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 29, 2014

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


Communication Can Be Tricky

Yesterday I made a motel reservation.  It was not easy.  It was difficult for me to understand the person who answered the phone and I think he had a difficult time understanding me.  When he read back what he had confirmed for us, it was for five nights and several hundred dollars at Williamsburg, VA.    What I had asked for was one night at Williamsport, PA. After much spelling of words we finally got it right.  Communication can be most difficult.  I wonder how many wars have started merely because two sides were not able to clearly talk to each other.

My communication attempts were out of this country.  So how amazing is it that we can clearly communicate with no translation problems when we send a message out of this world?  Or are our prayers out of this world?   If Paul is correct when he speaks about our being temples for God, and I am sure he is correct, then our prayers need not leave us to be heard, understood and accepted.  This makes Romans 8:26 make sense.  “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

We are known so intimately by God, He knows exactly what we need even better than we know.  Some days we need not be specific for what we ask.  Just say, “Lord, you know exactly what I need today.  I don’t.  So I will trust you to do it for me.”   While that sounds easy, it is also scary.  What if in His wisdom He takes the opportunity to do a bit of pruning.   I know it is good for the long run, but it might hurt some in the short run.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 28, 2014

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

Maturation Is a Life-Long Process

I watched a friend slice open a beautiful mango.  It was just the right firmness with a striking blend of red, orange, yellow and green.  It was a beauty.  It was the inside that was impressive – impressively bad.  Black.  What a disappointment.  Where was the lush yellow meat that makes it worth spending so much?   Now I could launch into a discussion of the old “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but that is too easy.  We have all met handsome and beautiful people that weren’t nice to be around.  That is mixing too many metaphors, something my English teacher hated.

What it did remind me of was the mango trees on our campus in Uganda.  We never could get a good mango because our students ate them green.  There was no opportunity to pick one that was ripe.  These were already gone lest someone else get them.  Our students claimed they liked them green.  I don’t know about that.

Now I do have something to talk about.  When someone is born again often there is an expectation for them to be a mature Christian and we pounce on them or criticize them behind their backs when they stumble.  They are still green but somehow we erroneously expect them to be better than we, who have been Christians for decades.  Not only is that not fair, it is unrealistic.  Good things take time to be.  Just as grace and forgiveness were given prior to their Christian walk so grace and forgiveness must become daily fare. Someone might ask, “What about perfection?”  Jesus isn’t our righteousness only when we are born again.  He continues to be our righteousness.  Maturation is a life-long process.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 27, 2014

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


He’s Listening

Several years ago I taxied a small plane to the end of the runway in Santa Rosa, California.  I did my run up, went through my checklist and called the tower for takeoff clearance.  All I heard was silence.  Normally they respond immediately with “cleared for takeoff” or “wait for incoming traffic.”   But this time I got nothing.  I continued to try to contact the tower for about 15 minutes when another plane pulled in beside me and did his run up and departed while I sat and watched.  Another 10 minutes passed with numerous attempts on my part to communicate when I finally noticed my radio was one frequency number different than that of the tower.  Changing to the correct number I tried again and received immediate clearance.  So much for being bone headed.

This is just like people that pray to pagan gods.  They are on the wrong channel.  There isn’t anyone or thing listening other than themselves.  No wonder they twirl prayer wheels, they couldn’t possibly continue to make endless verbal requests.  When there is no one listening you can say anything any number of times, but it is quite useless.  This is why God gave us the first Commandment of the Ten.   Other gods, if there be any, are quite useless, powerless and deaf.

While in Athens Paul referred to Him as the unknown God.  That was for the Greeks because He was well known to Paul.  Paul’s personal encounters with Him began on the Road to Damascus and continued throughout the rest of Paul’s years.  Fortunately God does not demand that we address Him by a specific name.  In the Bible He has many names.  If we need to talk with Him, “Hey God” works.  He is that anxious to hear us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 26, 2014

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


His Touch Is Free

Today I learned in 2009 one could buy a ticket for $1,868 for the opportunity to meet and shake hands with Beyonce.  While not trying to be disrespectful I would not bother paying $1.86.  It is a matter of priorities.  Do you remember the woman who so desperately wanted to touch Jesus she struggled through a throng of pushing shoving people only to be knocked to the ground?  When Jesus came by she mustered up her remaining strength to thrust her arm between the legs of those that would trample her and for a microsecond touched Jesus robe.  That was all she needed and it was free. It was life transforming.

A leper wandered from village to village trying to catch up to Jesus as he moved about.  Finally the opportunity arose.  Forgetting to call out “unclean” he stumbled through a retreating crowd and came face to face with Jesus.  I love what happened next.   The Gospels tell us before Jesus healed him, Jesus touched him.  It was free.  It was life transforming.

Just like Jesus our task is to reach out and touch those in need.  We do it in a variety of supportive ways. Our gifts, our counsel, our care, our presence, our contacts, our love can be exactly what someone was needing.  What is so grand about this is we are the giving ones and thus the receivers.  Each time we help someone our lives grow richer.

When the leper was made whole Jesus was happy.  When the woman was made whole Jesus was rewarded. Jesus is still in the business of touching and being touched.  It is still free.  The results are still life transforming.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 25, 2015

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


Better Than Burger King

A small ice cream cone at our local Dairy Queen costs $2.79.   The same size cone at Burger King and McDonalds cost $1.00.   And not only does it taste as good maybe it’s just a bit better or is that psychological because it is such a bargain?  Being happy about something definitely makes it sweeter and more beautiful.  A respectful kind child is always better looking than a rude selfish child even if the rude one has better cheek bones.

The Psalmist felt that way about God’s law.  In Psalm 119 he wrote, “Oh, how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.  I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.  I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.  I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.  I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.  How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”

God’s commandments are a guide for successful living.  Our obedience makes God happy not because we are doing what He said, but because He knows they will prevent all manner of heartache and pain.  Good parents are that way.  If one wants to be smart, then trust the One who has seen it all and shares with us the formula for happiness. Therefore, according to the Psalmist they taste better than honey.  The question is do they taste better than a cone from Burger King?  Of course they do.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 21, 2015

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


The Bogeydog

In the darkness of night one can see a faint reflection of themselves in the window of our breakfast room.  It is vague and without details.  But, it is enough to drive our dog crazy.  Mirrors do not concern her. They are detailed.  But this darkish form of a dog leads her to believe there is an animal outside.  Instead of it being a bogyman it is a bogeydog.

She is not unlike many people I know who think a bogeyman lurks in most all organizations that range from churches, civil organizations to state and federal government. Fanciful stories are created and then believed making out that sinister people lurk in the shadows trying to harm us.  Rarely is there any real evidence.  It is mostly innuendo built upon unfounded rumors. They see conspiracies of evil everywhere. Bogeymen abound just like the monsters under their childhood beds.  Any negative tidbit is pounced upon as truth while ignoring any positive news. I am sorry for them because it must be a fearful way to live.

It is true that Paul tells us we wrestle not against flesh and blood.  And Peter proclaims the devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour.  But a life in Christ is to be a life of restfulness and joy.   With God on our side no one can be successful against us.  With the arms God supplies to us we can slay any bogeyman that comes our way.   The Bible tells us to think on positive things and truthful things.  Unfortunately once we have made up our minds about someone we think it’s the truth when what we are seeing is a vague darkish reflection in a window – a bogeydog.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 5, 2014

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


Bible Reading for What We Need

If you have ever eaten at a Cheesecake Factory I’m sure you have noticed the menu is huge.  The selection is almost overwhelming.  How it is possible for them to have such variety in stock and fresh.  Obviously there is no expectation that one eat everything that is listed. So why is it that we sometimes think we have to read the entire Bible from cover to cover?  Paul wrote to his friend Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”   The Bible, God’s Word, is given to us to meet our daily needs.  Just as we do not eat everything on a menu neither do we on a daily basis need everything that is in our Bibles.

The joy of feeding on God’s Word is absorbing what we need now.  “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Some days we need poetry.  Other days we need the intellectual stimulation of Romans.  Some days we need the power of Isaiah.

Please do not misunderstand what I am about to say because I have really good friends who enjoy reading the Bible from cover to cover.  It works for them. But it doesn’t work for all of us.  I know people who tell me they have read the entire Bible so I ask them to explain Daniel 12 or Leviticus 19 and they are stumped. I would rather read one chapter a year and understand its depths than read all 66 books and not know what I read.

If you are a cover to cover reader, bless you. I am thrilled for you.  But for most of us finding what we need whether in I Kings or Ephesians is wonderful.


Written by Roger Bothwell on May 22, 2014

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