Our Awful (Aweful) Father God

I had an awful father.  He had an incredible work ethic.  For decades he worked two full-time jobs making sure his family was well cared for.  While we were not rich, far from it on a school teacher’s salary, we had nice things.  Remembering him fills me with awe, making me awful.

English is an awful language filled with words that mean just the opposite.  I stopped at a yard sale and saw piles of priceless things.  Who could put any price on the junk they were trying to sell?  Here in New England things that are really fascinating and intriguingly good are wicked good.  Once I had to resign a letter resigning from a job.  I lost the first copy.

In 1719 Isaac Watts wrote, “Before Jehovah’s awful throne, ye nations bow with sacred joy; know that the Lord is God alone; He can create and He destroy.  Wide as the world is His command, vast as eternity His love; firm as a rock His truth shall stand, when rolling years shall cease to move.”

Most things in the universe change.   Even our sun will change.  It will burn out.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s a few billion years before that happens.  But we will be around to see it happen because another thing that doesn’t change is God’s promises that we will live forever.  Forever is a really long time.  How reassuring it is to know there is only one thing about God that will change.  It is His love for us.  Love grows and if He loved us so much two thousand years ago to give us His only Son just imagine how much He will love us when our sun burns out.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 31, 2015

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



The Urge of Grace

This afternoon I mailed a $5.50 book back to Amazon.  It cost me $3.50 cents in postage.  I probably used a gallon of gasoline to go to and back from the post office.  Gas is currently $2.50 cents a gallon so I am out of pocket $.50.   I should have just given the book to a friend.  One would think that as old as I am I would count the cost prior to doing something.

In Luke 14 Jesus speaks of this very thing.  He said, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,…”

So just what does it cost to follow Jesus?  Salvation is a gift, which, when thoroughly appreciated engenders love.  Love engenders a desire to give.  Sometimes we speak of an obligation of grace.  I’m not sure I like the word “obligation.”  I do not feel obligated to give my wife, my sons or my grandchildren anything.  But I certainly want to give them things.  Is the word “urge” better than “obligation?”  Obligation means have to.  Urge means want to.  I want to obey Jesus. I want to do anything for Him because He is so magnificently wonderful to me.  My cross, which Jesus speaks of, is not onus.  It is a joy.  Obedience is a joy.  Giving is a joy. Love is like that.  Love and obedience are not obligations.   They are fruit.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 27, 2015

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


The DNA of Prayer

Jesus’ disciples came to Him and asked Him to teach them how to pray.   To be able to communicate with the Lord of the Universe is a way to open our minds to an understanding of our origins, being and future.  We are curious creatures.  We want to know.  Real prayer is not a Santa Claus list of needs and wants.  Real prayer is the melding of our finite minds with the infinite mind of God Himself.

Each of us brings to any relationship a history of us.  For me to truly know you I must know your parents, your siblings, your culture, and your sins.  It is all these and more that make us us.  Your prayer life and mine are very different.  It would be erroneous for me to describe to you my prayer life and say, “This is the way to do it.”  All I can tell you is this is how prayer works or doesn’t work for me.  Prayer is as unique as DNA is unique to each of us.  As a forensic scientist can identify us by our particular code so God can identify us by our yearnings and cries.  He does not need us to begin each prayer with, “Dear God, this is ….. calling.”  He knows who is calling Him because He knows the very distinctness of our content.

Paul wrote, “When I was a child I thought as a child.”  He could have said, “When I was a child I prayed as a child. But now that I am a man I pray like a man.”  Jesus said, “We have not because we ask not.”  Ask.  Don’t beg.  The one who knows you better than you know you, hears and will open to you what you really need.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 28, 2015

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




The first time you have to negotiate a roundabout it is intimidating and scary.  But once you get the hang of it they are a wonderful way to keep intersecting traffic flowing.  As long as everyone follows the rules they work quite well.  One of the features I like is if you miss your exit all you have to do is go around the circle and your exit will be there again. I have been known to go around three times because I missed my exit twice.  If I had missed again it would still be there for yet another try. Roundabouts are much like life.  If we mess-up and miss something we can usually try it again.  The old adage about opportunity only knocking once must have been thought up prior to the invention of roundabouts.

I qualified the going around again with the word “usually.”  Sometimes we crash and there isn’t another attempt available.  And sometimes in life a few things do only come once.  However, most people are resilient.  The effects of a defeat slowly ebb and we get on with life.  To be a teacher in Massachusetts students have to take state exams.  They are not easy.  I had a student who tried twelve times before she finally passed.  She should get a reward for tenacity.

The sooner one accepts Jesus into their life, better is the life that follows.  The wisest thing is to let Him in as soon as possible.  But, should we fail to take the opportunity we can know tomorrow will give us yet another try.  God is that way.  He loves us too much to limit our opportunities.  Some might think, “Well, then I can wait.”  That’s foolish.  Why gamble with eternity and why live in a “shanty” when one can live in a “mansion”?

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 28, 2014

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




Not One of the Crowd

Imagine yourself driving in bumper to bumper traffic going 80 miles an hour.  Slowing down creates major hazards as people behind you try to merge into lanes on either side to get by.  It is safer to drive with the pack.  Suddenly as you round a corner there is a black and white car with blue lights sitting by the side of the road.  Your heart skips a beat, your knees weaken, and your hands break out in an instant sweat.  You know he’s got you.  Of course he has everyone else and he can only stop one or two or three if he is an over-achiever.  As you pass him you keep watching in the rear view mirror wondering if you are going to be the one he selects.  There is safety in numbers.  That’s why (we think) fish swim in schools.

If we are the unlucky one pulled over we will most likely say, “But, officer, everyone was doing it.”  That is an interesting defense used by teens when caught doing something they shouldn’t.  “But, mom, everyone does it.”   I wonder if someone yelled up to Noah, “But, Noah, we were all doing it.”

The Marine Corp has an interesting recruiting slogan.  “We are looking for a few good men.”  That’s what God is doing.  While God is full of grace and will save as many of us as He can, He is also looking for some Enochs and Jobs.  He wants to be able to single out some individuals and say, “Have you considered my servant ….?   Put your name in that blank.   One might think that would be the cause for pride but quite to the contrary.  Such a woman or man would also be amazingly humble – not one of the crowd.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 27, 2014

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




At first I thought I was on Candid Camera but alas I wasn’t.  I should have been.  It was a warm day and a small frappe from McDonalds sounded perfect.  As the teenage girl passed it out the drive-by window I failed to notice all the caramel sauce wasn’t inside the plastic container. There I sat with one hand smeared with sauce.  In a fraction of a moment I had it on my steering wheel, on my shirt, on the gear shift (I don’t know how I did that.) and on my face.  I definitely got a whole lot more than I paid for.  I was a mess.  I was like Eve.  She got so much more than she thought she was going to get.  It was true that she gained knowledge.  The serpent did not lie about that.  She gained knowledge about pain, heartbreak and death.  What a mess ensued.

Satan is always very liberal with his giving.  He tempts us with something.  We get it and a mess we hadn’t counted on comes with it.  Satan is happy to give us something that would normally be good if the consequences in that particular context are hellish.  He knows God has a plan for each of us and he is devoted to ruining God’s dream for us.  Time and again God has to abandon Plan A and go to Plan B and then to Plan C.  Each change diminishes God’s dream.  But the good news is God never gives up.  He has Plan Triple Z ready just in case we keep making bad choices.  The good news is Plan Triple Z still includes eternal life with lots of time to grow.  Thank you Jesus.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 26, 2014

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



Ice Bucket Challenge

By now, if you have not had a bucket of ice water dumped on your head, you have at least seen videos of others reveling in the chilling joy of a miniature Arctic Ocean cascading over their domes.  The ALS challenge has spread across the world faster than a speeding bullet.  Sorry Superman something is faster than you.  It is called the Internet.  I have a friend who teaches school in what has to be one of the remotest towns in America yet he has Internet service and can read this devotional as soon as my neighbor across the street.  My friend Rob lives in Gambell, Alaska, a tiny town on the western edge of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. He really knows about ice water.  He doesn’t need a bucket.

Communication has come a long way since Jesus preached to and passed out bread and fish to 5,000 men plus women and children.  It is with confidence that we can say that the Gospel has gone to the entire world.  For anyone anywhere it is a mouse click away.  But just because someone is able to hear the Good News or has heard about the Good News doesn’t mean they understand the Good News.  I know people who have gone to church all their lives who don’t understand the Good News.  They can tell you Bible stories and recite memory verses but they still worry about not being good enough to be saved.  That is tragic.  The Good News is not one of us will ever be worthy (good enough).

In Revelation 5 there is a search for one worthy to open the book sealed with seven seals.  There was only one.  That was Jesus.  It is an inspiring chapter.  Please read it sometime today.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 25, 2014

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



The Sparrow in the Woodstove

There she sat, calmly looking at us through the glass door of our woodstove.  She did not seem upset and obviously had no idea of her precarious situation.  She was a sparrow that had come down the stovepipe into our family room.  The odds on her finding her way back up the pipe and out to freedom seemed very minimal.  My wife rescued her and set her free.  The last we saw her was on a branch of a Japanese maple.

We live in a world rife with weapons designed to kill millions.  There are groups who think they will be doing God a great service if they can use them.  How they can think this is beyond my comprehension. Obviously their Allah is not the same God as our loving heavenly Father.  The reason is while they think Jesus was a prophet they do not see Him as a duplicate character of our Father.   Jesus did say, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”

While I do not want to spread fear and upset the tranquility of our lives, it would be Pollyannaish to ignore reality.  No, we should not be having our children jump under their school desks like some of us did in the 60’s.  But neither should we be thinking something horrible is impossible.  We don’t want to be like a sparrow calmly sitting in a stove.  Eternity is a topic worthy of our consideration and Jesus is the one and only hope for a world almost out of control.

We must also remember that Jesus offers us peace.  He did say, “Peace I leave with you. . . . Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 17, 2015

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



On Selfishness

This afternoon I watched a small flock of sparrows trying, without success, to get food out of our birdfeeder. It is one of those feeders with a door that closes if too much weight is on the perch.  Sometimes it keeps the squirrels out but not usually.  They are smart enough to eventually thwart it.  The birds were flocking onto the perch thus making too much weight and thus closing the door.  No one could eat because too many were trying to eat.  This would be a good illustration regarding too many people eating off the government.  But that would be getting into politics so I will not go there.  Instead we can use the sparrows to talk about the disastrous effects of selfishness.

At first I wanted to excuse the sparrows because they were ignorant and did not know any better but people do.  However, on second thought most people don’t understand. When we live in a “me first, me first” culture, some end up with too much and some end up with too little.  Oops, that is also getting into politics.

Let’s try this.  The key to happiness is service.  The more we do for others the happier our lives.  This is a major construct of Christianity.  Jesus did not call us to be rulers of others but to care for others.  This results in the abundant life that He promised us in John 10:10.  If someone is sitting home alone feeling neglected the solution is getting involved with others.  This can happen in a family, in a church, in a civic club or in a hospital doing volunteer work.  The idea is to get the focus off of self and unto others.

If only I could have gotten the sparrows to understand.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 20, 2015

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



A Perfect Evening

Some evenings are just about perfect.  Try to imagine a small New England town park.  Add to it being with your best friend, 78 degrees, a clear sky with a half moon, katydids in the trees, an ice cream truck, small children laughing and playing on the newly mown grass. Add to this idyllic scene one of best country bands ever, playing from the town gazebo.  Watch a couple of old babes trying to revive their youth by dancing on the lawn to the classics about Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and, of course, sweet Georgia.  If one closed their eyes they could have been serenaded by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Blake Shelton and be on the road again with Willie Nelson.  Sorry, there was no Dolly Parton, it was an all male band.  The mosquitoes were few and the summer breeze was an evening zephyr.

We were sorry it had to come to an end.  Heaven isn’t going to be all classical music or hymns.  God is very eclectic, if He weren’t, He wouldn’t have passed out such a wide variety of gifts.  But I don’t imagine the songs there will be about heartaches and tears on pillows and drinking beer sitting on the end of the dock and Folsom Prison.  Actually, the evening was quite grand knowing there would be no more prisons or tears.

Sometimes we get a taste of the abundant life.  No, that is a wrong thing to say.  Jesus would have us feast on the abundant life.   He promised, “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”  That is not just for the future.  That is also for now.  Don’t miss out.  Make Jesus the Lord of your life right now.

Written by Roger Bothwell on August 21, 2015

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