To Preserve and Not Diminish

We have a new neighbor, who in an attempt to protect their new home, put up an unsightly red sign in the front yard stating they have installed Xfinity’s home security system.  The owners next door have an equally unsightly sign saying they are protected by ADT.  We have another neighbor who put up a sign advising dog walkers to curb their dog.  I find myself wondering why someone would spend decades of their life’s earnings for the lovely home of their dreams and then deliberately uglify it.  I do believe if I were an educated burglar the security signs would be for me a dare, a challenge, sport.  As for the dog sign, it was many, many times larger than what a dog would leave behind.

It seems that we humans often approach a problem with solutions that diminish what we are trying to preserve.  After 9/11 in an endeavor to preserve ourselves we voted away some basic freedoms.  We might have been safer but our precious values, earned by the blood of our forefathers, were diminished.

Fortunately for us God chose to preserve His values rather than diminishing them.  Freedom of choice, the hallmark of His government, could have been sacrificed.  He is all powerful.  He could have established a world that “would not” because they “could not” rebel.  What He would have been left with was a planet filled with beings without love, for love is only love when it is freely given and freely received.  Instead He preserved.  He gave us His Son that He might solve the sin problem by elevating Jesus on a cross.

The beauty of a home, the nature of a nation, the love of God’s children must be preserved without diminishment.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 29, 2016

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


Preparing for Winter

My woods are deeply asleep beneath winter’s heavy white cover.  There are no rabbit tracks, no sign of chipmunks or disruptions in the scape indicating an owl’s early morning breakfast.  Only a handful of oak leaves are left clinging to their summer perches. The bones of the oaks, maples and birches are beautiful etched across a gray winter sky.  It’s a short menu, if any, for the coyotes, bears and foxes.

I wonder about the chipmunks living in dark tunnels and rooms stored with seed from my bird feeders.  During the summer months I watched them figure out how to harvest from the squirrel proof feeders. (There is no such thing.)  They would stuff their cheeks and disappear into the cracks at the edge of the patio and quickly return for another load.  I have a lot invested in those underground pantries.

In Matthew 25 and other places Jesus speaks of preparing for the future.  If we live long enough winter will come for us.  No one is immune.  We will be required to call upon the resources we have stashed away in easier times.  In Psalm 119:12 we read, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  If there is any correlation between the ease of winter and the amount of seed carried away my chipmunks will have an easy winter.   We can ease the intensity of winter when it comes by storing up Scripture.  “Though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil….Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  These promises are real and sure. It is a matter of preparing for winter.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 30, 2015

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


God’s Thoughts

The following is a line in the musical Camelot, “I wonder what the king is doing tonight.”  Sometimes I have a variant thought.  “I wonder what God is thinking tonight.”  Did He notice the asteroid that swept by us this past Monday?  It came within 745,000 miles from us and had its own moon.  Is He horrified and disgusted that people are chopping heads off their enemies and doing it in His name?   Does He care about deflated footballs?  Is He watching parents’ hearts breaking at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital?  Does it matter to Him that the stock market is down almost a thousand points?  It will affect the amount of tithe He receives.  Or is money meaningless to the one who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills?

I have an inkling what He might be thinking about tonight.  I think He is thinking about you.  Really.  I’m not messing with you.   Jesus said in Luke 12, “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Sometimes we are tempted to think of God as being a huge creative force that governs the universe and we forget Jesus’ powerful message that He is a personal God who wants us to call Him Father.  Not only is He aware of all those things mentioned above (Well, maybe not the footballs.) but, the most minuscule detail of your life matters to Him.  For us, who struggle to manage the details of just one life, it seems preposterous to think He is involved with us.  But then again ask any parent with lots of children if any of them don’t matter.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 29, 2015

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

Doing God’s Work

It’s been a busy day doing the Lord’s work.  It started snowing last evening and we are at about the two foot level now.  That makes it very difficult for the chickadees, cardinals, blue jays and others birds to stay fed.  We have had to refill the seed feeder and the suet feeders because of the constant stream of about eighteen different kinds of birds staying nourished.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

God’s work manifests itself in a huge variety of ways.  Who’s to say which is more important than another?  The farmer plowing his field, the auto worker going to his assembly plant, the teacher going to her classroom, the grocery store shelf stocker stocking, the cook cooking at Denny’s, the highway patrolman patrolling, the nurse nursing in the emergency room are all doing God’s work.

Occasionally I talk with someone ruing the fact they never got a job working for the church.  They made the mistake of thinking that working for the church is the only way to do God’s work.  God’s work is caring for others’ needs.  If I had to rank jobs as to what is the number one task that is God’s work I would most likely list Hospice workers.  The fact is God needs all of us to make life work.   Our part can change from day to day.  Today our job was to feed His birds.  Tomorrow when the snow melts it will be something else.  Whatever it be let’s do it well.  Luke 9:62.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 28, 2015

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


The Price Was Right

I saw a really large lady win a Mini Cooper on the Price Is Right.  As she stood beside her prize I could not but think of being a little boy at the circus watching a cadre of clowns getting out of their little car.   She seemed thrilled.  Perhaps she was planning to give it to a smaller loved one.  I have deemed that I would not do well on the Price Is Right.  Things always cost more than I think they should and why would people even want a $2000 grill.  How could you show the enthusiasm the show’s producers want from you when you win something quite useless?  It’s hard to jump up and down with joy upon winning a trip to Boston when you already live in Boston.

Now if we are talking about winning the biggest prize of all time, eternal life, then we are talking about something I really want.  I extend my apologies to the conservative folks I go to church with but when before God’s throne I am going to dance.  I want to proclaim that the price was right.  For us any price would have been cheap enough but for us it is free.  God paid the price.  And oh what a price He paid!  The wages of sin is death.  We earned it.  He paid it.  In order to escape someone who never sinned had to pay the price for us.  If He had sinned His death would have been for Himself.   Hallelujah.  (Yes. I am about to dance.)  He did not sin and yes He did pay the price.  God knew exactly what to do when He got the price right.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 27, 2015

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


A Storm Is Coming

A storm is coming.  A big one.  Weather gurus are using the “blizzard” word telling us twenty to thirty inches of snow is coming for New York City and the same for central Massachusetts.  People are flocking to grocery stores and making sure their cell phones have a full charge. It is so unlike it was a hundred years ago when people prepared for winter by drying foods and filling Mason Jars.  By the end of November root cellars were filled with potatoes and beans.  No one knew what day the big one would come.  They just knew it would come.

Jesus tried to warn us that in life the big one would come.  No one gets out of here without something extremely harsh happening. It is called “Life.”  Even though we live in the richest time and place in history no one is exempt from hard times.  If you have four minutes Google the words “Hurt Johnny Cash.”   Listen to the YouTube as he sings the words written by Nine Inch Nails, “Everyone I know goes away in the end.”

The question we ask is are we ready.  Can we ever be ready?  I am not about to give you a list of things to do to prepare.  I’m not sure anything we can do really prepares us. Perhaps what we are is more important than what we do.  Are we safely tucked into the arms of the one who declared Himself to be “the resurrection and the life”?  Are we part of God’s family?  Are we sons and daughters of the Most High?  I guess there is something we can do.  We can accept His gift.  It comes with the assurance that the big storm shall pass and we shall be saved.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 24, 2015

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


Advantages of Telling the Truth

About a month ago someone told me they heard me say “…” about a year ago. I told them I had not said that.  This past week someone asked me what I preached about two weeks ago.  I could not remember.  If that is the case, and it is, then how would I know I had not said something a year ago?  The answer is what they said I said I do not believe and never have.  Therefore I know I didn’t say it.   This makes life amazingly simple. I’m sure you remember the adage, “If we practice to deceive, what a tangled web we weave.”  When you make up stuff you have to labor to remember what you said as to not contradict yourself and eventually get caught in the web of your own prevarications.  No such problem exists if you always say what you believe because while you will not remember what you said you will remember what you believe.

Now let me add this does not mean you should always say everything you believe.  Being kind and courteous means that you must in certain circumstances hold your tongue.  Only a fool says everything they believe.  Most often when we say someone “tells it like it is” means that person was rude, unkind.  When I read a letter of recommendation for someone I am careful to look for what was not said, which can be much more important than what was said.

It is fascinating that the ninth commandment says, “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”  It does not say, “Thou shall not bear false witness for thy neighbor.”  Hence the Christians heroes who did not always tell the truth that they might spare the lives of their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 24, 2016

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



I Was.  I Am.  I Will Be.

While listening to some old codgers sharing “Fish” stories, I was impressed by the number of times they used the word “was.”  I was a teacher.  I was a contractor.  I was a carpenter.  On and on they used the “was” word.  I didn’t hear many “will be”s.   Apparently their ambitions for things yet to come were quite limited.  I suddenly wanted to know about conversations in heaven.  Surely after we are a few thousand years old we will have a host of “was” stories.   We can lead off with “I was a sinner and Jesus saved me.”  That’s an amazing “was.”  We can follow up with a list of places we had visited. “I was on Planet Fantastic in the Gamma Group of galaxies.”   We will have lots of “I am”s.  I am an organist.  I am a chess champion.  Those can go on and on.  No need to use “was” since our brains will be excellent retainers of skills and information.  What is truly grand about this is all the “I will”s.  With an infinite amount of time always in front of us we can create a very ambitious list of “I will”s.

One of the first “I will”s I have on my list is to attend the wedding feast of the Lamb mentioned in Revelation 19.  I’ve been to many weddings and have been to a lot of receptions but nothing I have ever seen will come close to, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’”

That is a great “I will.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 21, 2026

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

My Yoke Is Easy

I hold in my hand a list of fifteen names.  They are my new students coming to class tonight for the first time.  It is less than two hours from now and I am sure a good share of them are apprehensive. They don’t know me.  They don’t know if I will be demanding and harsh.  They don’t know if their 4.0 average is in jeopardy.  They don’t know if I am going to demand so much written work that they will have little time left for their spouses (spice).  They don’t know it yet but they are in for a treat.  Not because I am so wonderful but because I happen to believe learning should be a pleasant experience filled with new insights to delight the mind.  Again, not because I am so full of such knowledge, but because my pupils are graduate students, each a repository of life experiences.  My job is to help them remember them and share them with the others.

In Matthew 11 Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Their yoke for the next four months will be light if they will engage.  If they will share the load and be open to new ideas.  Their yoke will be light if they will be willing to be non-judgmental and tolerant of those who they do not agree with.

Jesus is that way.  He is patient and tolerant.  He is anxious to share new thoughts with us (God’s thoughts).  He is the greatest teacher of all and spending time with Him is the greatest learning experience ever.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 23, 2015

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

On Deleting a Name

One of my best friends passed away last week.  Today I took his name out of my address book.  Now only his wife’s name appears before that last name.  When I pressed the delete key it seemed so wrong.  In an instant it was like he wasn’t.  But he was.  He still is.  At least in my mind he is.  We cannot just delete someone from our lives.  I am what I am because I knew him.  Each of us is a piece of our friends. This man was superman.  There didn’t seem to be anything he could not fix.  He was a helper.  One morning at 3 A.M. when I needed help I knew I could call him.  I did and he came and he helped.  We don’t just delete someone like that with a keystroke.

I recall the last time we were together we argued about, of all things, politics.  How stupid that was!  For one thing arguing never changes anyone’s thoughts about something.  For another thing politics are a stupid thing to argue about since none of us knows all the facts that are involved.  We argue in ignorance.  Now how ignorant is that?  How I wish the last time we were together we had prayed together.  We had not.

This phase of our lives, our pre-eternity phase, is so short.  It is too short to do anything other than to learn what is important.  What is important is to value friendships.  No one can have too many friends.  It is impossible. It is important to use the limited resources we have to help make our friends lives better.

I love that Jesus declared us to be His friends.  What is grand is He will use His unlimited resources to make our now and our eternity better.

Written by Roger Bothwell on January 22, 2015

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