It’s All about Me

Only one student out of sixty this morning knew which teams were playing in the seventh and final game of the World Series.  You can be sure if the Red Sox were playing not only would they have known, they would have been ramped up.   If it doesn’t involve us we don’t care.  I’m sure you have noticed when the news reports an airplane crash somewhere in the world they will tell us how many Americans were on board.  Forget about the Guineans or anyone else. Thousands of people are dying of Ebola in West Africa but we get an almost daily account of the fever of the one and only American being treated in New York City.

We are very self-centered beings.  So often we hear someone say after a disaster, “Wow that could have been me.”   As difficult as it might seem to understand, everything isn’t about US.   About now some of you who read these devotionals might say, “Well, most of these devotionals are about something that happened to YOU.”   You’re right.  I am just as self-centered as you.

Over and over I hear people say, “Jesus died just for you.”   A good thing to do when preaching is to personalize it.  However, Jesus died for everyone.  I know if only you or I would have accepted Him, He would have still done it.  But that isn’t my point right now. I’m talking about the fact that each of us is the center of the universe.  Or so we think.

Every once in awhile I try to do something for someone without their knowing who did it.  It’s a great thing to do because I don’t get the glory for it.   But then again I do glow in the knowledge that I did it.  I am so wonderful!

Written by Roger Bothwel on October 30, 2014

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


So Much I Don’t Understand

Are you ever struck with an overwhelming sense that you don’t know much about life?  I received a paper from one of my psych students who wrote about being on a patrol in Afghanistan and coming under fire.  One of the four men he was with was killed.  He said he did not cry until he got back to base but then he wept uncontrollably.  He described it as a strange mixture of sorrow for the man lost, relief and thanksgiving that he was safe and unharmed, and guilt for still being alive.  We are complex beings.  Rarely is something simple.

I don’t understand Revelation 21:3 & 4 which describes heaven.  It reads, “I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, ‘Now God makes his home with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain. Things are no longer the way they used to be.’”

We cry for many reasons. Could it be this passage is speaking only about crying in the context of pain?  Will we not cry for happiness?  Will we not be emotionally overwhelmed by God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice?  When I am happy it overflows out of my eyes. What of crying for our loved ones who are not saved?  Will we no longer care because, “Well, we made it”?  If anything I think our love will be deepened as we become more like our Savior. I do not want to lose the deepest part of my humanity.  There is so much I don’t understand.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 28, 2014

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




I was in the hallway talking to one of my students this morning when I heard, “Get out the way, Sonny.”  Thinking someone was joking I turned to see an old guy, a really old guy, giving me the evil eye as he shuffled on by.  This guy was so old he wouldn’t have needed the American History textbook he was carrying.  He could just go in the classroom and talk about the time he ate dinner with President Lincoln.  I don’t think I have been called, “Sonny” for the last six decades. Life is all about one’s perspective.

I wonder what it is about some old people who feel their advanced years give them the right to be rude.  I hope when I get old I will remember to be kind.  Someone told me he thought the old guy was being kind to call me “Sonny.”  I do have to say it did give me a psychological lift for the day.  But I could tell by the look in his eye he wasn’t interested in boosting my moral.

Age really is relative.  When we were in fourth grade kids in sixth grade were really big and important.  But, the promises of Jesus concerning eternal life make age irrelevant.  Really, what is the difference between someone 40,000 years old as opposed to someone 50,000 years old?   We could be best friends considering how close we are in age.  It just won’t matter.

So go ahead and call me “Sonny.”  I don’t mind.  Just do it with a twinkle in your eye and smile.  You can make my day.  Actually you will probably make my week.  I know I’ll be thinking about that old curmudgeon all this week.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 28, 2014

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



Making God Proud

When my mother was 85 she asked her doctor to do a cholesterol test.  I love what he told her.   He said, “Mrs. Felty, you’re 85 years old.  You won!  Go home and eat anything you want.”  I wonder what is the magic number.  At what age can I wake up and head for the supermarket to get anything I want to eat?

I salivate when I walk down the cake mix aisle.  Not because I want to eat cake.  I want to eat one of those cans of icing.  There are so many enticing flavors.  I fantasize what it would be like to take a can of chocolate frosting, pick up a spoon, sit down for a Patriot’s football game and empty that can.  In reality I know I would end up throwing up, but it might be worth it.  I fear if I wait too long I might lose the desire.  See Ecclesiastics 12:5.

Life is an interesting journey.  We are born with incredible potential.  If one is to maximize their potential one has to take good care of oneself.  That encompasses the total realm of what we are.  We are physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual beings.  We cannot neglect or abuse any one of these areas and reach our potential.  It is so important for us to educate our children to understand that everything that is good for us should be done in moderation.  The things God declares to be sin are those things that would keep us from being all we can be.  Therefore the only things that are sinful are things that harm us and others.  God is a wonderful Father who wants the best for us.  He is so proud when we do well.

Writtem by Roger Bothwell on October 28, 2015

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


The Law of Jesus’ Kingdom

Surely it did not come as a surprise to Jesus when James and John’s mother approached Him with the request for her sons to have privileged positions in Jesus’ kingdom.  Also He could not have been surprised at the anger of the other disciples when they heard about the request.  He knew human nature.  He understood the challenge of teaching people that the main principle of His new kingdom was service.  If one obtains position and power it is given that one might be of greater service.

Having been a pastor enables me to understand how difficult it is to remember the principles of humility and service when one is fawned over by one’s congregation. One is greatly tempted to believe the nice things people say to one’s face and to be thankful not to hear what they say behind one’s back.  The greatest sin of pastors is jealousy.  It is human to want to be the best, thus it is difficult to hear how wonderful another pastor is. Everyday a pastor needs to remind himself/herself why God gave him/her a congregation.

I am puzzled about heaven and eternal life.  If service is the law of God’s kingdom, what kind of service will be needed in a universe that has no sin and no rebellion?  If every being has everything they need what is there to give that would be meaningful?   Also I am puzzled while here we speak of our need to be unselfish and yet most of the time when we speak of heaven we speak of all the things WE are going to get, such as mansions, health, etc.  Surely there are amazing challenges and tasks awaiting us.  But what could they be?

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 27, 2015

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


Getting Our Wings

Angels don’t necessarily have to be ethereal beings with halos and large white wings.  They can come in all manner of shapes and sizes.  I saw two today.  They came in a large pickup truck.  They were wearing work clothes and ball caps and might have needed a shave.  I didn’t notice for sure but being that it was the weekend I figure they might have given their chins and cheeks a rest.  They even had a golden retriever with them who was such a good dog he could have belonged to an angel.  They backed up to my garage and unloaded a freshly cut and split load of dried maple ready for the woodstove.  After a few minutes of neatly stacking in my garage they were gone. I will remember these guy/angels on cold New England evenings when the wind is howling and my woodstove is toasting me.  Needless to say I really love angels like this.   Thanks guys.

Each of us can be an angel.  All we need to do to earn our wings is to do something very unselfish and very useful for someone.  In Hebrews 1 angels are called ministering spirits.  If we minister to others we qualify.  We can speak for God in our actions and behaviors.  We want to make sure our speech and behaviors come from the same page.  Sometimes I have heard people say very nice things but not act very nicely.  That’s not very angelic.  Consistency really counts.

We can be angels in our workplaces by easing the load of others.  We can be angels in our neighborhoods by helping to create a safe environment for the children on our streets.  Advancement to angelhood can be really rewarding.  I highly recommend it.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 27, 2014

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


On Deelevating

In March of 1942 the HMS Trinidad launched a torpedo at a German destroyer.  With horror the men aboard the Trinidad watched their torpedo make a big circle and come back.  Thirty-two men died.  Eventually the British were forced to scuttle the Trinidad by having the HMS Matchless fire a torpedo into her.   She sank to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean.

This is so much like barbed comments we sometimes make about others. Unlike torpedoes that almost never came back, our demeaning comments about others usually come back.  Our attempts to hurt others might be successful but they also hurt us.  We are days away from mid-term elections and our televisions are filled with demeaning comments about candidates for office. Sometimes what is said is an outright lie but mostly it is half-truths.  I find myself disgusted with the one promoting the ad and not the one attacked.  So why do they do it?  We are told it helps win elections.  If so, shame on us.  And so they win.  But they are still diminished.

Sometimes we falsely believe we can elevate ourselves by deelevating others.  My word checker is telling me that deelevating is not a word.  But I’m sure you get the idea.  Rarely does deelevation accomplish its intention without deelevating the deelevator.

Have you ever wished you could back up the clock or suck back the words?  In chapter 3 Jesus’ brother James said, “The tongue also is a fire. The tongue is the most evil part of the body. It pollutes the whole person. It sets a person’s whole way of life on fire.”

With a sigh I wish I could say, “In all my life I have only said nice things about others.”  I wish.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 24, 2014

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


“You’ll Like the Way You Look”

Nine years and six months ago we had a new Harvey storm door put on our house.  About a year ago something strange happened to it.  It looked like an internal cancer ate its way out from the inside like some horrible growth.  One of my friends contacted Harvey Doors and Windows for us and would you believe they had a record on file for the door and it had six more months of warranty left. We are getting a new free door. I am amazed. Blessings come from strange places.

I love guarantees.  That must be why I am so extremely fond of Jesus.  He is the ultimate guarantee.  What is terrific about Him is there are no expiration dates.  If my friend had called the Harvey people seven months from now there would be no new door.  Jesus offers lifetime guarantees.  As long as we can breathe, as long as we can think, the replacement warranty is valid.  According to Paul we get new bodies with new minds.  “When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”  I Corinthians 15.   Now that’s a guarantee we can count on.  He has our names and the date of our acceptance on file.  It’s ours.  I especially like the immortality part.  When Jesus raised Lazarus in John 11 Lazarus only lived a few more years and died again.  He is one of very few who will be able to speak of being raised more than once.

The man who sells suits on television for Men’s Warehouse always says, “You’ll like the way you look.  I guarantee it.”  Jesus promises the very same thing.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 23, 2014

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

My Gluttonous Red Squirrel

Our squirrel population seems to be down to one small red denizen.  A month or so ago we had a large group of grays but I am suspicious they became meals for the various predators who are also residents of Old Farm Road.  Yesterday I put out a five inch by five inch cake of suet for the incoming chickadees and tufted titmice that will be residing here for the winter.  Several times during the day I saw the little red squirrel tanking up on the suet.  Much to my amazement he ate all of it in one day. It was bigger than he.  I can only imagine his physical discomfort as his small body attempts to process all that fat and grease.  I wonder if he sat in a tree thinking, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.  Why oh why did I do that?”

Most likely all of us know the feeling of having eaten too much.  There is just one slice of pizza left.  I better eat it.  Then the regret comes.  I am amazed at how resilient our bodies are.  They can handle an amazing amount of abuse.  However, little by little the cost mounts up and one day when we are far too heavy and find ourselves panting after climbing one flight of stairs we wake up.

We get sick and wonder why God isn’t taking better care of us.   God must shake His head at our ignorance and self-imposed ills.   My little red squirrel doesn’t know anything about I Corinthians 6:19 where Paul clearly states that our bodies our not our own.  We are temples of the living God with obligations to care for it.  My squirrel can be excused but do we really think we can be excused.  Forgiven? Yes.  Excused? No.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 22, 2014

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


The Lawn of My Character

While blowing the leaves out of my yard this afternoon I could not help but notice the leaves were falling from the trees behind me.  I was making progress but should I pause for a moment or so they would catch up to me making it look like I hadn’t done anything.  I wanted to impress my wife that I was still worth keeping but the fruit of my labor was most unimpressive.

Our sins are somewhat like my leaf blowing.  I ask for forgiveness and readily receive what Jesus is anxious to give, but the lawn of my character doesn’t stay clean but for a moment.  Often we err in thinking sins are merely acts of wrong but there is also a more important element that we are sinful beings.  It is centered in selfishness which might not show on the outside but I know it’s there.  Rarely do I hear of someone being shamed for breaking the 10th commandment.  “Thou shalt not covet.”  If we were to rank sins (and we don’t) I would say this was perhaps #1 on the list.  It is internal.  It is at the core of our being.  It is the seed that manifests itself in the other commandments. I wouldn’t steal something if I had not first coveted it.  I wouldn’t kill someone unless I first coveted something that motivated the murder.

Tomorrow is another day and I will once again have my sins forgiven just as I will blow the leaves again.  Someday I might be leafless.  But considering the reality of trees I somehow doubt that there will not but be a leaf or so tucked in a quiet corner.  Such is life.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 21, 2014

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