My Internal Chip

What I am about to say will set off alarm bells in the brains of Bible students who know about the Mark of the Beast as described in the book of Revelation.  The \ Mark of the Beast traditionally has something to do with a mark on one’s forehead or hand that will enable people to buy and sell.   So here goes.  I can hardly wait for the technology to advance to placing a microchip under the skin on the back of my hand.  Never again will I have to worry about losing my wallet which now contains my driver’s license, my credit cards, my library card, my AARP card, my BJ’s card and my health insurance cards.  Without my wallet I am a nobody who cannot legally drive, pay for gas for my car, check out a book, get my old people’s discount at Denny’s and get emergency health care should I need it.

I’m sure all of us have had that panic moment when we reach for our wallet and it isn’t where it is supposed to be.  Our mouth goes instantly dry, our stomach lurches, our knees go weak when it is not instantly, comfortingly in our pocket.  How grand it will be when I merely need to wave my hand in front of the gas pump or at the grocery store to pay for things.  I can stop being fearful of pickpockets when in a packed elevator.

When something is inside it is truly yours.  I carry Jesus around in my heart.  He knocked.  I said, “Come on in” and the joy and eternal security is amazing.  People can’t steal Him from me.  The only way He would leave is for me to toss Him out and I would never be that stupid.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 30, 2014

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


Summer Has Been Vandalized

Summer has been vandalized.  In the quiet of the night graffiti artists silently plied their skills and somehow whisked across the tops of our trees spraying red and gold.  If only I could catch these rascals, but they seem to know when I am not looking.  Ah, but then again, summer is gone.  It is time for these renegade painters to display this year’s exhibit.  Have they been practicing some place unaware?  Were they anxious to do their thing?  Tonight I shall stay up waiting to apprehend them least they blaze my entire neighborhood with their Monetish talent without my catching a glimpse.  I must say they are very neat.  They do not leave empty spray cans scattered about.

Alas, summer has passed.  Hopefully none of us has to say as did Jeremiah, “”The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.”  What an awful thing to have to say.  If you do have to say such I do so hope you enjoy these few autumns that you have left.  But a much better idea is to take Jesus up on His offer and live with us forever.  That is so much better.  Please do.  If you don’t we will miss you and our autumns will be diminished because of your absence.

If I were rich I would have a home both in Massachusetts and Australia thus having two autumns each year.  Someone told me in heaven the leaves will not turn but stay eternally green.  How dull.  How boring.  If that is the case I will find myself a tilted planet somewhere in God’s vast universe where I can, each of its years, try to catch those vandals with the cans of gold, red and yellow paint.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 29, 2014

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




Paul Was a Designest

Recently I listened to an art critic rave about the creative intelligent design of a modern painting. What fascinated me was the critic went on to talk about the genius of it and something so grand could not have happened by accident; even though it looked like an accident.

And so I looked out the window and I saw a playground of children milling about on brightly colored swings and slides.  This I am told by others happened by accident.  Chemicals plus time plus random chance produced these marvelous creatures that we are without any intelligent design.  Really?  Also recently I heard someone mocking those of us who believe in intelligent design.  He even went so far as to say at one point something came from nothing and that started it all.  And this same fellow mocks us?

I don’t get it.  There must be something wrong with my I.Q. but I don’t know what is mockable about believing that something as wonderful as us is the product of design.  If an art critic thinks paint smeared on canvas is a product of genius how much more genius is the product that is a living, breathing, loving, intelligent, finely tuned, chemically balanced human.

I think the mockers are attempting psychological intimidation to win their non-winnable arguments.   If they can make us feel intellectually inferior because we don’t have Ph.D.s in science, perhaps they can shut us up.  But I will not shut up.  We are carefully and wonderfully made.  In Romans 1 Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, . . .”

And there was nothing wrong with Paul’s brain.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 26, 2014

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

Move that Donkey Out of the Way

This afternoon on our way into our BJ’s (Costco lookalike) a car came up on my bumper blinking her lights.  I waved.  When we passed the main door I paused to wait for a family with a cartful and children in tow to cross in front of us.  The lady in the car behind started blowing her horn at me.  I made sure I parked close to her so I could get a good look at this very rude impatient person.  It was somebody’s grandma.  I certainly hope she has not lived her whole life like she was this afternoon.  When I greeted her she huffed off with her cart and her nose in the air.  I was tempted to follow her up and down the aisles but I resisted.  Who knows maybe she was packing a gun!

Have you ever had someone cut you off only for them to be stopped at a red light a block down the street?  You pull up beside them and smile as they must realize they endangered themselves and others for nothing.

Our actions behind the wheel of our cars speak volumes about our characters.  It spills over into the regular routines and interactions with family and colleagues.  We sometimes wonder why we are so uptight and at odds with others.  Is it really the others?  Do we really have to allow others to control how we respond?  We pride ourselves on being free and autonomous and yet sacrifice our free will by acting so selfishly in response to others’ selfishness.

Perhaps our driving habits are a dipstick into the well of our Christianity.  Maybe when we drive we really should drive like Jesus would.  I have a difficult time picturing Him honking for people to get out of His way.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 23, 2015

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


Do You Have a Favorite Hymn?

Last week someone asked me if I had a favorite hymn.  That is tough to answer.  It is like asking if you like vanilla ice cream better than chocolate ice cream.   It depends on the situation and one’s mood.  There are great praise hymns and there are soft meditative hymns.  It is difficult to imagine when the Wesley brothers began writing hymns the saints were scandalized.  Before then they sang scripture passages.  How could they abandon God’s word to sing these insipid syrupy poems?  Now it is difficult to imagine worship services without them.

Most likely my favorite is a quiet hymn that speaks of friendship with God and talking with Him like you would with a walking companion.  “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses.”   It is the chorus that appeals to me.  “He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own.  And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known.”  I treasure the experience so much I almost get jealous thinking you might have the same experience.  I want it all for myself.  Sorry about that.

What is your favorite hymn and why?  Is it one of the majestic themes that carry you out of yourself into another realm?  Is it something you learned as a child?  Does it have words that carried you through a rough patch in life?  Do you ever turn off the car radio and just sing it when there is no one around to hear you go off key?  Music is one of God’s gifts to us.  It feeds a part of us neither prose nor poetry can do.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 25, 2015

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



Father Forgive Them

While dying Jesus said, “Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”  The following is an example of the fruit of ignorance.

“The attack came less than a week after the bodies of eight people, including health workers disseminating information about Ebola, were found dead in a village latrine in a remote part of southeastern Guinea. The eight, including three journalists, had been ‘killed in cold blood by the villagers’ on Sept. 16, . . .”

Eight people were slain for trying to bring good things to a village.  Jesus was slain for trying to bring eternal life to us.  Those villagers did it in ignorance.  They didn’t understand.  They thought those eight people were bringing the disease.   The religious leadership that killed Jesus should have known.  They had the Scriptures with all the prophecies.  The people in the village should have known.  But ignorance is a terrible thing. Ignorance causes endless horror.

“Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”   They were killing the very Creator of all things.  Paul finally got it and wrote to us in the beginning of Hebrews that Jesus is the very Creator.

I’m sorry to share such a disturbing piece of news about the Ebola workers.  But it was just so appropriate.  I agree that it is a disgusting piece of news.  However, Jesus’ death was a disgusting act.  We sometimes make it pretty with lovely pictures.  There wasn’t anything pretty about the brutality and the stench of human waste flowing from the crucified.  Once in a while we need to remind ourselves just how bad it was.  And that it was for us!

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 25, 2014

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

The Truth Will Set Us Free

One of the most insightful things Jesus said is found in John 8:31.  He said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  How ironic that so many of our youth leave the church because they find it confining which is exactly the opposite of Jesus’ Freedom Message.  Of what truth was Jesus speaking?  So often we speak of the truth of a health message which boils down to don’t eat this or that.  Often we speak of the truth of a heap of have-tos.   It doesn’t seem like freedom to our youth or, if we are honest, also to most of us older folk.

There are two basic truths included in Jesus’ truth.  Number one is everyone is a slave to their appetites.  Internally we know our appetites must be controlled but we often can’t deny ourselves.  In John 14 Jesus promised to send us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who will give us the control we need.  Number two is understanding the only things God doesn’t want us to do are things that will harm us.  Unless we are mentally ill we do not want to harm ourselves. God’s law is a manifest declaring if we don’t do certain things we will not suffer sin’s horrific consequences.  Pile up those consequences and the result is the death of our bodies, our intellects, our relationships and our souls.  Sinful behavior is suicide.

Freedom in Christ is understanding the truth that once we comprehend sin’s results and once we utilize the power that is available, we can do anything and everything we want to do, because normal people don’t want to harm themselves.  That is real freedom.  That is freedom from the slavery to our appetites and freedom from sin’s consequences.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 24, 2014

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


Highlighters and Lowlighters

The New England Patriots won their football game on Sunday but you would never know it by watching the local news.  You see, it wasn’t a pretty win. Local sports broadcasters have been running the lowlights of the game instead of the highlights.    Not only do New Englanders want their team to win, they want it to be a pretty game of well executed passing, blocking and running with no dropped passes or fumbles.

Alas, this is just like people I have known along life’s way.  Even though they have been blessed with health they find something to complain about.  In 1995 they had a hangnail and they will never forget it.  Their children were on the honor roll but didn’t get all A’s.  They have incredible memories and can recite in detail imagined slights and raises they should have gotten but didn’t. It is one lowlight after another.  I have seen marriages break up because one partner was a lowlighter. I actually saw one marriage survive because they were both lowlighters and thus were perfectly matched.

One day someone after church told me he could hardly wait to get to heaven because he wanted to see the video tape of the crucifixion of Jesus.  Really?  Talk about a lowlight.  That was the lowlight of all time.  I would much rather see the highlight that took place on Sunday morning.  I want to see the highlights of Jesus healing lepers and restoring sight to the blind.  I want to see the highlights of parents receiving resurrected babies into their arms and resurrected marriage partners looking even better than they did on their wedding days.  See I Corinthians 15.

Highlighters are so much more pleasant to be around than lowlighters.

Written by Roger Bothwell on Sept. 23, 2014

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

An Endless Series of Serendipities

In Plato’s ideal world the only area of study until the age of twenty was to be music and gymnastics. Twenty to thirty would be filled with math, logic and grammar.  Thirty to fifty would be a time to work in the community.  Fifty to sixty would be a time to study philosophy and finally at sixty one could be ready to serve in government.  If we had such a system in place several presidential candidates would have to withdraw and wait.  The emphasis is obviously on maturity with the assumption that young people think they know but don’t know because they don’t know what they don’t know.

This certainly brings I Corinthians 2:9 to mind.  “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ — the things God has prepared for those who love him–.”

I am often amused at people who speak with such authority about God and eternity.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  Paul also wrote, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, . . .”  Ephesians 3:20.

Being a citizen of God’s kingdom brings an unbelievable series of stipendiaries.  Surprise after surprise awaits us.  I am not talking about Disneyland kind of surprises but surprises of the mind.  Doors opening to areas of thought expanding our horizons in a never ending road to maturity.   We will never be mature because there will always be something more to thrill our intellectual senses.  Each new area will be seasoned with God’s love.  This just cannot be missed.  Come and join us.  Please.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 22, 2015

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


The Apple of His Eye

It’s apple picking time.  Branches are heavy with the makings of pies, cobbler, cider and sauce.  Roadside stands are decorated with baskets of Granny Smiths, Cortlands and Golden Delicious apples mixed with mums.  Big yellow school buses are unloading city children to roam orchards and perhaps to give them an opportunity to pick their very first apple.  Last week someone gave me an apple because I am a teacher.  It is sitting on my desk.  I probably should eat it but I like the idea of it being.

Twice in the Old Testament God’s people are referred to as being the “apple of His eye.”  (Deuteronomy 32:10 and Zechariah 2:8)  The Hebrew word translated “apple” really is the word for “pupil.”   Literally the Old Testament says we are the “pupil of His eye.”  The pupil lets light inside.  Maybe that’s why students are called pupils.  I like the idea that we are basically the light of God’s life.  Don’t you just love the expression on people’s faces when they are snuggling their child?  The light that goes in comes right back out as parents glow.  God must glow when He sees us do well just as parents almost burst when their child does well.

If you love God, and I’m sure you do, today try to do something that will make Him especially proud of you.  Give something to someone in need.  Help someone with a difficult project.  Make life easier for someone with heavy burdens to bear. Visit an old person.  No, don’t come to see me.  I’m not old yet.  I’ll let you know when I am ready for an old person visit.

In the meantime it really is grand to be the “apple” of God’s eye.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 21, 2015

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