God Is a Dumpster Diver

The Book of Revelation speaks of a remnant people saved by Jesus out of a great last day conflict.  The word “remnant” is defined as scraps, fragments, leftovers.  When I was younger I never left anything on my plate.  My mother taught me to eat everything.  Now that she is not here to watch me and that my appetite is not like that of a growing boy, I often leave quite a bit on my plate.  Instead of pushups I do pushaways.  My leftovers become the remnant and are tossed in a dumpster.  And so it is interesting that God describes His people as remnant.  They aren’t much to look at.  They aren’t particularly desirable; that is to anyone but Him.  He wants them even if they have already been dumped.  The best way to describe this is God is a dumpster diver.  He digs around in the scrap heap of humanity and comes up with an interesting group He calls His children.

The Gospel is a wonderful story of rescue and redemption.  Because our scope is so limited we sometimes fall into error thinking we are really something special.  And I guess we are.  However, our specialness has nothing to do with our merit.  It has everything to do with a loving Heavenly Father, who according to Hebrews, “saves to the uttermost.”  The Gospel is an intriguing story not only of our being pulled from the dumpster and washed up, but of our becoming temples.  We become His dwelling place.  This is better than PBS’s Antique Road Show, where people drag stuff out of their attics and have it appraised for major money. We are dragged from the dumpster and become princes and princesses of the universe.  Rags to riches is what the Good News is all about.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 20, 2014

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



“You Have a Blessed Night”

He was a mountain of a man.  He had to be over 400 pounds and filled the door to my hospital room.  He came to draw blood and was gentle and kind.  When he spoke he was obviously not from New England.  He was from deep Mississippi and his speech did nothing to hide that.  Out of his huge man came the sweetest voice as he said to me, “Mr. Harvey,  I’ll try not to hurt you.”   He was a character out of a southern gothic novel by William Faulkner.   His large dark hands could have crushed one of mine but he was ever so careful with the needle. I never felt it slip in for its drink.  On his way out as he closed the door for the night he said softly, “You have a blessed night.”  I did.  He helped.

It is fascinating how some people seem larger than life.  With a few kind words and a caring demeanor they can change our entire day.  Jesus was that way.   John was certainly aware of that.  He wrote in I John 1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”  What is amazing is John’s experience is not reserved only for him.  We too will see with our eyes and we too shall touch the One who speaks worlds into existence.  “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”  Hebrews 1

This is awesome beyond words.

Written by Roger Bothell on June 29, 2015

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



The Language of the Heart

I sat down this afternoon to watch a program on Netflix.  It was a British production and I was having such a difficult time understanding what they were saying I finally turned on the subtitles.  That helped a lot.  I felt kind of stupid needing subtitles for something in my native tongue.  Or is British English my native tongue?  This afternoon I doubted it.

My students in Africa used to argue amongst themselves about what language we will speak in heaven.  Of course each tribe was a rabid supporter of their language.  I never got into the fray.  I didn’t have to.  I know it will be American English.  But wait will that be American English in Georgia or Boston or Des Moines?

I used to have some church members who were insistent that I should use the King James Version when I preached.  They were convinced that Jesus said “Thee” and “Thou” as I should if I was going to have any authority.   So what language does God speak?  He speaks the language of the heart.  He doesn’t need the mutterings of our mouths to understand our needs, our desires, our passions and our longings.

I love Romans 8:26 and 27.  “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  Perhaps in heaven we will retain our native tongue and use a universal translator button on our shirts. (robes!)  However it will work, it will be just fine.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 9, 2015

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


A Must Read

If your church has a school or is affiliated with another church that has a school please do not weary hearing offering appeals for Christian Education.  Over and over we hear calls for funds for evangelism and never bat an eye.  After all isn’t that what the church is all about?  Evangelism, proclaiming the good news about Jesus, is our calling.  One of the last things Jesus told us was to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  Matthew 28:19

But what good is it to bring new believers into the church if we are not keeping our children?  Surely there is no greater evangelistic campaign for any church other than teaching our children to love Jesus.  Just this spring one of our local church school teachers had her children write autobiographies to go into a class book.  One of the children wrote the following, “…I’ve been through a lot in the last 12 years.  I lost my grandpa, went to Oshkosh, made friends, learned to love Jesus, and came to a Christian school.  My life has been so much better with Christ in it.  I want to be an ER doctor, help people and save their lives like Jesus wants us to.  So my life is great and there are many more memories to come…”  (Oshkosh was national gathering of Christian children for a week.  It was like a Boy Scout Jamboree.)

If we ever wondered about the value of Christian Education this short testimony says it all.  This is real evangelism.  This is the salvation of our children.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 28, 2015

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


Sometimes We Need To Move

We have a lovely oak tree that has been living beside a straggly looking pine.  The pine was once very nice and almost 50 feet tall.  But it was damaged in our last hurricane and never recovered so today we had it removed.  My wife told me to watch the oak.   It now has more room and light and will prosper and spread out.  It is like people.  We are designed to grow and spread out.   I’m not talking about our waists but our talents, abilities and influence.  Regretfully, often we are in an environment that stifles us and sometimes it is family and friends. Often others who haven’t done much with their lives don’t want anyone else to be successful.   I’ve known husbands who didn’t want their wives to go to school.  Sometimes people mock those who want to change and better themselves.  If so, it is time to change one’s environment. Since we can’t cut others down we need to move on if we are going to fulfill our dreams and maximize our potential.

Jesus was very unique.  He could mingle with riffraff and not be polluted and degraded.  Being that Jesus didn’t do anything we cannot do, we have to know He was successful because of His reliance on His Father.  We usually don’t do so well.  It seems that a barrel of rotten apples doesn’t get better because there is a good one put into the mix nor does the good one stay good.  Perhaps I should at this point say we need to rely on our connection with our Heavenly Father and we should.  Often we hear that we should grow where we are planted.  That’s true.  However, I think the message really is to go where we can prosper and grow.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 26, 2014

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


Please Get Me the Cinnamon

My wife asked me to get the cinnamon out of the pantry.  Being the good guy that I am I opened the door and stared and stared.  For all that I wanted to help I could not see any cinnamon.  Finally I said, “There isn’t any here.”  Now came the bad part.  She nudged me aside, reached out and picked up the cinnamon. How could that be?  How could I stand there with it right in front of me and I could not see it?

I know lots of people who claim to have read the New Testament including John and still worry about being good enough to be saved.  They tell me they are afraid they might be lost over one small sin they don’t know about! They are as bad as me looking right at the cinnamon and not seeing it.  John tells us in chapter 5 that Jesus Himself said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”  How can it be any plainer?  Believe in Jesus and skip judgment.

Then there is Ephesians 2.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”   It isn’t our doing!  And let’s try Galatians 5, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  The yoke Paul is speaking of is the yoke of salvation by our behavior.

So dear cinnamon seekers, allow me to nudge you and point out to you the Good News that is right in front of you.  It isn’t about us.  It is all about Jesus.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 25, 2014

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



My Letter to the World

She sat across from me in a waiting room and I could not but stare at her tattoo.  She appeared to be about 55.  She was probably younger but her tattoo hinted at a hard life which puts years on people.  I see teenage girls smoking and I think the anti-wrinkle cream people must be thrilled when they see a teenage girl smoking. She will probably be a life-long customer. The waiting room lady’s tattoo was boldly displayed on her sternum.  It was a purple and reddish human skull with a snake crawling in one eye socket and coming out the other.  It seemed just perfect for attracting a man if he were a psychopathic serial killer. Wow, to each her own.

There seem to be tattoos everywhere and I wondered what I would get if I would.  Would it be my wife’s name?  Probably not since she has a man’s name.  Would I get “Mom” on my no longer impressive bicep?  Then I remembered an old Fanny Crosby song, “Tell me the story of Jesus. Write on my heart every word.”    II Corinthians 3:3 is a fabulous verse.  Paul wrote, “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”  That is so perfect.  We are letters from Christ hoping that when people read us they will discover the sweetness of salvation.

Emily Dickinson, our Massachusetts poet, wrote, “This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me, the simple news that Nature told, with tender majesty.” I want my letter to the world to be the simple news that Jesus told.  God loves us with tender majesty.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 24, 2014

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


Time to Reevaluate

Recently I watched one of my friends put on his laced shoes merely by forcing his foot past the laces and into the shoe.  It was fast and efficient.  True, he did have to raise his heel up and down a few times to get the now bent back into place.  But it was so much better than bending down to untie them, put them on and retie them. I do not do what he did.  That is until I watched him and now I do it for most of my shoes.  The backs of my dress shoes are just too hard to accomplish the deed.

The reason I had never done it goes back 65 years.  My mother forbade me.  She said it ruined my shoes.  And so I had been obeying her ever since.  But wait.  I am an adult – an old one and I buy my own shoes.  If I want to break down the backs isn’t that my prerogative?  Being that my mom passed away a few years ago she will never know that I am now doing it.

So how many other things am I doing merely because my mother taught me so?  And now that I am a big person can I not reevaluate the whys and the merits of certain behaviors and beliefs?  If there is not a moral principle involved and it will not harm anyone, may I change?

I am most grateful for what my mom and dad taught me.  Their ideas have served me well.  But this is not 1940 and I am paying my own bills and do have an obligation to understand why I do or do not do certain things.  As Paul wrote, “When I was a child I thought as a child, but now that I am a man …”   I Cor. 13.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 23, 2014

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


“Look How Far You Have Come”

I remember it as if it were yesterday.  My father, a school teacher, who always went to school in suit, white shirt, tie, and a white handkerchief in the left top pocket of his suit coat, came home and announced it was time for me to learn to ride a bicycle.  I was so excited as I climbed aboard my sister’s bike and off we went with him running behind.  It was elation beyond words as the wind blew through my hair.  These were the days before helmets and knee and elbow pads. This was blood sport and I did not disappoint.  I looked back over my shoulder, a big mistake.  He knelt down beside me and took the white handkerchief from his suit coat pocket and wiped off the gravel and blood.  And then he said to me, “Good job.  Look how far you came.”

I did not stop being his son because I fell down.  Neither do we stop being part of God’s family when we fail.  Quickly He comes to our side and with the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness He wipes us clean and says to us, “Good job. Look how far you have come.”

The Christian walk is not about being perfect.  It is about falling, being wiped clean and getting up for another try.  It is about going farther between falls.  And sometimes the falls are spectacular but that just makes getting up so much more courageous.  It is true Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery to go and sin no more.  We must never forget He also said, “Neither do I condemn you.”

Happy riding.  Go far.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 10, 2015

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



My Five Dollar Dilemma

This afternoon the checkout lady at the Dollar Store, who appeared to be very close to seventy, was being rudely ordered around by another employee who was all of seventeen.  With tears welling up in her eyes the elderly lady attempted to help me.  The extent of her mental state evidenced itself when her trembling hands gave me an extra five dollar bill in my change.  My dilemma was to further upset her by pointing out her error or take the easy way out and pocket the extra five and say thank you.  Or was I merely justifying an attempt to keep the five?  The human heart is a deceitful thing and works its very best havoc on its owner. The most difficult person to know is the one we see in the mirror.

For over seventy years I have been trying to know me.  But like Paul in Romans 7, I regularly do things that disappoint me.  “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

I don’t think it was about an extra five dollars.  I am not a rich man, but really five dollars?  What would a man give in exchange for his soul?  Five dollars?   That’s trading your soul for one large extra thick chocolate malt!  But what if it were for five million dollars?  Then I would rationalize how much good I could do for my church.  I could make quite an impressive list of good deeds after I took an around the world trip with my wife.

So what did I do?  If I tell you what and why I would most likely be trying to assuage my conscience.

Written by Roger Bothwell on June 11, 2015

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