I love drive-thrus.  We can do so many things without getting out of our cars.  We have drive-thrus where we can get fast food, do our banking, get our prescriptions filled, and get postal service.  In Las Vegas we can get married and divorced at a drive-thru.  Funeral homes make it possible to view our deceased family and friends in drive-thrus.  If my dog is with me when I go through the drive-thru at our bank she gets a treat.

It is amazing how much we can accomplish at drive-thrus.  However, there is one thing we can’t do at a drive-thru. Last week I received the following comment in an email from one of my friends regarding our spiritual lives.  He wrote, “I would suggest that the time we need to spend contemplating, being thankful and absorbing this cannot be done quickly.  I don’t think there’s any such thing as a drive-thru devotional life.”*

We live in a fast paced world.  Computers can do so much for us but they have not slowed down our lives.  They just enable us to get more accomplished.  Our work expectations have increased with the speeds of our CPUs.   However, when it comes to our spiritual growth and our comprehension of inner things we need to give that time.  Just as it took us sixteen years before we could drive a car, so it takes years for us to comprehend the deep things of God.  In Ephesians Paul speaks of the mysteries of God.  Some mysteries are solved quickly.  But the mysteries of God take decades.  I really should say will take eternity because we will never completely grasp the wonder of God’s love for us.  This is not a drive-thru experience.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 31, 2015

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


Reciprocal Determinism or Work with Me

Psychologists call it reciprocal determinism.   It is the elegant idea that our environment is affected by our desires, fears and self-concept.  We are either self empowered for good or self-defeating and heading for failure. It depends upon what we believe we can or cannot do.  Consciously and sub-consciously we alter conditions and people around us to enhance or to destroy our opportunities.  The results are called self-fulfilling prophecies or learned helplessness.  Thus trained educators understand the importance of motivation and role modeling.

Some people use this concept to put forth the idea that we answer our own prayers. While we would not go that far we can safely be assured that we can help God answer our prayers.  We can make choices that will place us in situations where God can do what we have requested.

We cannot expect God to help us pass an exam if we do not study.  We cannot ask God for good health if we do not take good care of ourselves.  God says, “Work with me.  Don’t ask me to provide you with a long life in the midst of your jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.”

When I pray for God to help me be like Jesus I need to purpose that I will seek opportunities to help others.  I will endeavor to be available when needs arrive.  I can’t conscientiously ask God to help me be a light to the world and then sit home alone in front of the television day after day never going out except to get the mail.

Jesus said in Matthew 11.  “Take my yoke.”   That means working with Him.  This is not talking about salvation.  That’s a gift.  This is talking about being useful in His Kingdom.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 30, 2015

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




He was very good.  Actually he was better than good.  He was the best.  Eleven times he totally and completely licked all the peanut butter off the trap.  He did not get caught until the twelfth time.  Why that time?  Who knows?  Maybe the trap was finally set lightly enough.  Or maybe he got careless and greedy.  Whatever happened the result was the same.  The trap sprung and in a split second it was over.

Too bad he could not have continued to cohabit with the humans of the house.  He had beautiful big eyes and a creamy white tummy.  He was good.  But the bread drawer was definitely not to be shared with a mouse.

Just how many times do we get away with something and then suddenly we are caught?  How many times do we violate our standards for what to watch on TV or what to read or what movie to see before it does its number on us and changes our characters?

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 8, 2001

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

The Gift of Choice

One of the rewards of aging is the ever-increasing inventory of memories.  Housed inside our heads is a marvelous archive of people and places.  The real joy of having memories is our ability to recall them in vivid color with surround sound.  No matter where our body is our mind can instantly transport us to any place we have ever been.  And the memories can be filled with incredible ambiance.

The power of the human mind is awesome.  It has infinite capacity unlike any computer.  Have you ever heard adolescents complain that they are bored?  Despite a house full of media devices and a library of videotapes they can’t find anything to do.  The problem is they have not lived long enough.  They often don’t have enough memories and their choices of thought are limited.

Choice is God’ gift to each of us.  At any moment we can choose our thoughts.  We can turn off the radio and television and think our own thoughts.  We can be creative.  We can blend memories of one place with another weaving the tapestry of a good life.  If you want your past to be good or if you want it to be horrible, it is your choice.  The creation of life is the product of our choice.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 23, 2001

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

The Hope Center

The sign on the front says, “Hope Center.”   That is pretty much all that’s left other than a pile of burned rafters mixed in with the ashes of chairs, a piano, hymnbooks and a pulpit.  The sign seems so ironic.  But then again it could be prophetic.  It all depends on the Hope Center worshippers.  Out of tragedy and heartache come wonderful things if the broken-hearted so choose.

Before the cross there were God’s chosen people in Israel.  From the horror and heartache of Calvary came a worldwide redeemed family from every nation, tongue, gender and race.  There could be no forgiveness of sin had there not been the sacred sacrifice.  There could not have been a resurrection Sunday without crucifixion Friday.  And as Paul says in I Corinthians 15 if Christ is not risen then there is no hope for any of us and we are to be pitied.  I am tempted here to say we have a wonderful hope.  Instead I am going to replace the word hope with the word certainty.  This is assured because we have a God who built a man out of the dust and will rebuild us out of His personal pain.

In our personal lives we experience failures and losses and can, if we choose, allow them to destroy any meaningful future happiness.  But with God’s help we can rebuild out of the ashes something grand.  It is all about the wonder and implementation of hope.  That does not mean the past isn’t important.  It means we take what we learned from those failures and losses and use those lessons to make ourselves stronger.

I’m hoping the people from Hope Center will rebuild something far more wonderful than what they lost.  We shall see.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 27, 2015

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


A Bit of Bragging

This evening one of my wife’s students came to class wearing a U C Berkeley sweat shirt.  She told my wife she wore it especially for her because that is where my wife earned her doctorate.  But, my wife asked, how did you know that?   It seems the student is also in one of my classes and I told.  My wife refrains from telling people because she thinks it smacks of pretentiousness. But I maintain it isn’t pretentious if I tell.

It is like walking around bragging that you are a Christian.  It does seem unseemly.  But it isn’t unseemly if someone else recognizes and comments on it.  According to Jesus people will catch on because of our being a loving caring person.  He said, “Hereby shall men know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”   John 13:35.  He also said, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”  Matthew 10:32.   So being a real Christian isn’t so much what we proclaim ourselves to be as much as it is how we act and how we treat each other.

Just before Christmas when most people are rushing about to get things done a young man wearing a “Jesus is my Lord” sweat shirt rudely jumped into a checkout line at Kmart.  I almost said something but I decided to let it go.  He already seemed a bit agitated and I didn’t want to exacerbate it.

So I will continue to go on bragging about my wife’s accomplishments. And may I add that I graduated from Middletown Pennsylvania Middle School and have a framed diploma clearly stating that I successfully finished 8th grade.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 26, 2015

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


Here to Give

One of my life’s great regrets is having leukemia and no longer being eligible to be an organ donor.  As long as I can remember my driver’s license has indicated I want to be harvested of anything that would help another person.  Even yet my Massachusetts license has a tiny red heart in the lower right hand corner.  However, it is a leftover from pre-leukemia days.  There are presently over 120,000 people on various organ waiting lists.  One person has the optimal opportunity to help over 50 people by giving everything from kidneys to eyes.  Now I can help no one.  I am saddened.  One of my very good friends gives platelets once a month.  He has been doing that for years.  I wonder how many lives he has saved.  I can no longer do even that.

One of life’s great tests is not how much we have acquired but how much we have given.  When my son worked in downtown Manhattan and rode the subways each day there were many homeless people he regularly helped.  We are not here to aggrandize ourselves but to work hard that we might have more to give.

In Matthew 25 Jesus said to the redeemed, “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”   Those are good words.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 25, 2015

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



I’m sure you have noticed that there are no questions anymore.  Whenever we ask something it is always with a quickquestion.  This is ironic because it takes longer to say quickquestion than just question.  I guess it is symptomatic of our busy lives.  Maybe these devotionals are successful because they are only 300 words and thus a quickread.

In the spirit of being quick I would like to proclaim that salvation is quick.  It is not a long drawn out lifetime of working to please God.  Eternal life is not determined by a scale where we hope our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds.  Salvation is mentally saying yes to God’s constant wooing.  He is a lover who never gives up.  Sometimes we can’t hear Him because we drown out His still small voice with a continual barrage of personal media.  But that doesn’t mean He isn’t there.  He is.

Now that I have taken the position that salvation is quick, I need to add that the plan of salvation that provides salvation for us has taken longer than we can know.  Before the foundation of the Earth God knew us and planned for our redemption from the sin He knew would happen.  (Ephesians 1:4)  He did not predestine sin but once He gave us freewill He knew we would need rescuing.  He is in a raging war with the enemy of our souls and His battle for us continues on even when we sleep.  Someday the battle will be over.  Jesus will come again and redeem His own.

We should never assume it was easy or quick.  For God, our Heavenly Father, it has been a long painful journey.  He does it because He loves us.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 24, 2015

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


She likes to use a dust cloth and a can of Pledge.  He likes to use an unused paintbrush.  He says it is wonderful for getting all the dust out of the nooks and crannies.  She thinks he is obsessive.  He likes to think of it as being thorough.

The latter part of Psalm 19 is a magnificent section of praise proclaiming God’s law to be perfect, His testimony to be sure, His statues to be right, His commandments to be pure and His judgments to be true and righteous.  In verse 12 the psalmist then asks for his secret faults to be cleansed while asking the question, “Can anyone really understand his own faults?”

It is true that we are so complex we do not even know ourselves.  There are times we do things and say things that surprise even us.  We say, “I can’t believe I said (or did) that!”  The human heart can be most deceitful, even to itself.  It is no wonder we need a God who knows all.  He knows what we need and if we ask He will dust out all the nooks and crannies of our minds.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 23, 2003

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

On Being Nosey

I grew up thinking being nosey was somehow negative.  I do understand it could mean someone is prying into our business but the dictionary also defines it as being inquisitive or curious.  Yesterday my wife and I watched two of our granddaughters play their musical instruments in a church in Paris, France.  It was live and not delayed or on tape.  It wasn’t so long ago that would have been unheard of. The technology revolution that has majorly altered our lives would not have been had not people been nosey.  Our nosiness continues to solve scientific mysteries and create new ways to enhance our well being.

Maybe being nosey wouldn’t be so bad if we changed the spelling to knowsy.  Then our nose would not be involved.  Knowsiness is a wonderful thing.  Paul encouraged Timothy to be knowsy.  He wrote, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”   I’m sure you remember Bert Bacharach’s song, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”   It still does.  But it also has a continual need for knowsy people.

It is really sad when we see people who seem to have lost their desire to learn.  They weren’t born that way.  I am knowsy to understand what happened to them.  Who or what killed the knowsiness?  I have heard heaven described as being an eternal school.  That might turn some people off.   Perhaps we should call it Heaven’s University where you get to study, read and learn any and everything that tweaks one’s curiosity.   Just imagine a school where everyone gets to design their own curriculum.  How grand is that?

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 23, 2015

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