“Take It to the Next Level”

At least ten times this week I have heard the expression “Take it to the next level.” It’s the current way to say, “Up your game.”  It’s a call to excellence.  It inspires us to not be satisfied with present attainments, no matter how good, and to get even better.

Paul said it in Romans 12:2.  He wrote, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Peter said it in I Peter 1:15.  “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”

Jesus said it in the Sermon on the Mount.  “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48.

They are telling us to “Take it to the next level.”  Life is about growth, learning new things, honing talents and “going where no man has gone before.”

Perhaps age is taking its toll and we cannot do as well some of the things we used to be able to do really well. That doesn’t mean we stop doing them.  We don’t have to think “Take it to the next level” means the next level down.   It is just the next level “different.”  A song sung from the heart is so much better than a song sung with pitch perfect tones without soul.  A twenty minute mile is so much better than a four minute mile if we smell the violets along the way.  Our passions and desires can burn just as intensely as when we were teens.  The next level is now we can control them and savoring them is all the better.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 30, 2015

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



Grammar Ain’t That Easy

I recently received an email from a reader complimenting me on the almost perfect grammar and punctuation in these devotionals day after day.  I was appreciative but could not take credit.  I have to acknowledge my wife’s careful proofing and two well used style manuals without which these devotionals would be embarrassing displays of ignorance on the part of someone using his native tongue.  And yet even with that backup sometimes an error slips in.

Grammar is a tricky thing because it is fluid.  As culture moves so moves language.  The proper use of something fades into obscurity and is eventually replaced by something newly made proper.  Take the “ly” on the word “newly” in the previous sentence.  It is becoming rarer for people to put the “ly” on their adverbs. “I want it so bad.” Then there is the use of “me” and “I”.  “Me and Tom are going to church.”  People claim it is difficult to know how to use this.  But if you mentally drop the other person out of the sentence it becomes easy.  You wouldn’t say, “Me am going to church.”  Then there is the period after the “I” in an above sentence.  Should it be inside the quotation marks or outside?   My wife isn’t home this evening so I have to rely on a style manual which says the quotation marks should go outside the period like “I.”  Somehow that doesn’t look right.

I am so glad salvation isn’t this difficult though I have heard sermons that make it seem so.  Jesus wants everyone to understand so He plainly made it plain.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  Now that’s easy.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 29, 2015

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



“Let Me”

The stage was set for a wonderful moment; an empty high school parking lot, a helmeted little boy, an anxious father and a tiny bicycle with no training wheels.  With just a few running steps dad let go and a life milestone was passed.  The little boy was on his way toward manhood.  He was not my little boy.  I did not know who they were.  Yet, I found myself happy to have seen this passage.  Surely heavenly beings are equally happy when they witness our passages.  There is something contagious about the joy and wonder of accomplishment.  I am happy when my students do well.

Jesus told us, “Lo, I am with you always.”  Does that mean, unlike the little boy’s father, He never lets go?  I like the idea that He is watching and yet I find myself wanting Him to “let me.”  Surely as we learn new skills and new proficiencies He steps back and allows us to flourish.  He is the scaffolding while building us.  But there is a time for the scaffolding to be removed.  As a father I scaffolded for my sons who then scaffolded for their children.

Our heavenly Father will never be able to step back and let go in terms of our eternal salvation.  That is something we can never do ourselves.  We have not the competence.  However, there are so many other arenas of life where He must glow with joy as He sees us do it ourselves.  Forever there will be new things to learn and forever there will be opportunities for us to say “let me.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 27, 2015

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




Who We Are

Knowing why we are here, not as a race but as a unique person, is without a doubt one of the most complex and disturbing questions we ponder. Each of us is so very unique. We are the complicated product of a baby born with our DNA and traits then mixed with relationships and experiences. I have heard people opine about being born when Jesus was here. Had that occurred for you, you would have been someone else. The times would have made you a different person.

When God said to Jeremiah, “Before you were born I knew you” He knew when, who and where the baby that became Jeremiah would grow up. Had we not married the people we did, had we not had the children we had, we would be someone else. Only the name would be the same. We are creatures in flux. The process never stops. I am not the same person who graduated from college nor will I be the same person when I am tottering and ancient.

When I speak of my father to my grandchildren I have a choice of which father to tell about. I can speak of the hard working caring young man or the aged, pain filled man who knew very little joy other than that of an old boxer dog.

When we see each other in heaven we will not be us anymore than we are what we were decades ago. The elements I have not yet added to the mix of our being are our choices. We are amazing creatures who can by the will given us forge the kind of person we want to become. Choose this day to be spectacular. We can be if we will to be and work to be.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 24, 2015
Spring of Life, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574


Our Super Hero

Most little (sometimes not so little) boys dream of being a super hero.  I cannot speak about what little girls dream.  Doing deeds of daring, bringing justice, \ righting wrongs, bringing super powers to earthly needs fill many minds with desire.  James, John, Matthew, Peter and the others were little different from people.  They did not have Superman and Batman but they did have Samson.

Then Jesus came into their lives.  Suddenly there was this super hero with them who did all of the above.  He did deeds of daring by driving the money changers from the temple.  He brought justice by telling the self-righteous to dare to throw the first stone at the fallen woman.  He righted wrongs by telling the criticizers to leave Mary alone when she was washing His feet with her tears.  He brought super powers to earthly needs when He commanded the winds and waves to stop, when He walked on water, when He put His fingers in a deaf man’s ears to restore hearing and speech.  There is no question in their minds.  Jesus was a super hero.  And unlike flawed Samson this Jesus was morally perfect.

Maybe this is why it is so difficult for so many to believe.  The pragmatist in us drives us to say it couldn’t be so.  But Peter and the others knew it was so.   Peter wrote, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables.”   John wrote, “We saw with our eyes and touched with our hands the Lord of Glory.”  They would never have given their lives for something unreal.  They died horrible deaths because they knew how real He was and is.  Jesus is the epitome of all super heroes because He is.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 22, 2015

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




Don’t Leave Home Without It

It is still April.  The buds on the trees have not yet burst.   There are just a few daffodils popped up here and there.  So you can imagine my unfettered delight to hear the sounds of “Turkey in the Straw” floating up the street.  Could it be?  It was.  There I was walking my dog when before my awestruck eyes was, you guessed it, the ICE CREAM MAN.  And to think I almost left my wallet on my desk.  That would have been a tragedy.   The moral of the story is never leave home without your wallet.  I did have my American Express card with me.

It was shades of Matthew 25.  “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.”   The moral of the story is never leave home without being ready to meet our bridegroom Jesus.

It is true.  We never know when.  According to Peter He will come as a thief in the night.  The best Bible scholars in the world do not know when He will come.  For almost two thousand years people have been making time charts and filling them with events that have to occur.  It is totally unnecessary.  If we have a great one on one loving relationship with Jesus we are ready.  His coming will be filled with all the joy of small children being surprised by their parents returning from military service.  While we wait enjoy the fruits of citizenship in His kingdom.   They are many.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 22, 2015

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

rogerbothwell. org

Love Those Zeros

We came out of a store today and I had to look for my car’s emblem to be sure I was getting in the right car.  That would never have occurred fifty years ago when a Ford was a Ford, a Chevy a Chevy and one could never mistake a Studebaker for a Desoto.  We had fins.  We had two tone paint and white wall tires.  The hood of a Fleetwood Cadillac looked like the flight deck on an aircraft carrier.

You know you are getting old when you pine for the “good old days” which most likely were not that good.  Today’s cars are safer, more efficient, and more durable.  I have over 200,000 miles on my car.  That would never have happened to one of those old beautiful cars.   We have cures for certain kinds of leukemia and HIV can be contained.  Our children are not hiding under their school desks fearing a nuclear attack.  It is true we have shootings in schools but many of those are copycat crimes inspired by the 24 hour news broadcasters who make demented people famous.

Lest I sound like a Pollyanna I know our world with terrorism is not Utopia.  But, if we exclude the madness of the Middle East from the picture, things are not so horrible.  Life expectancies continue to lengthen.  That brings me to the life expectancies of those who accept Jesus’ gift of grace.  We are talking about 90 years followed by an infinite number of zeros.  If you love life you have to love those zeros.  If you love Jesus it’s a done deal.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 21, 2015

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



Little Things Mean a Lot

NASA is planning an Asteroid Redirect Mission.  In 2020 we will send an unmanned craft to rendezvous with an asteroid.  The craft will harvest a boulder from the surface of the asteroid and then hover a short distance away.  The combined mass of the boulder and the craft will be enough mass to be a “gravity tractor” and over the course of 400 days will alter the path of the asteroid away from earth.

When I first learned to fly (way before the wonders of a GPS) I learned that every degree off course would result in being one mile away from your intended destination for every sixty miles traveled.   If I left Massachusetts heading for San Francisco with only a one degree error out of the available 360 degrees I would instead arrive at Santa Rosa.

In both of these incidents the prime mover or the degree of error was very small.  But over time or distance the final effect was extremely significant.  If a person gained just one pound a year for each year they are married, we are talking about a significant change in body image.  Little things mean a lot.  Therefore, if you are a very busy person that is in high gear from dawn to midnight, please squeeze into your life two to five minutes each day for your spiritual life.  We are holistic creatures that cannot afford to neglect any aspect of our personhood.

I think I am preaching to the choir because if you have read this far you are already using your two minutes.  So let me finish with a terrific spiritual message for your day today.  Jesus loves you very much.  You are very important in the courts of Heaven.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 20. 2015

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



“Are We There Yet?”

Sometimes I feel like a little kid sitting in the back seat of my father’s car saying, “Are we there yet?”  After watching the evening’s news and trying to understand each day’s horrors I want to pray to my heavenly Father, “Are we there yet?”   The senselessness of groups killing each other just never seems to stop.  There is some primitive stupidity in our human minds that leads us to think life will be better if only we can kill that other group of people.  Is it a fear that we better kill them before they kill us?  Could it be the idea that we could be richer if we stole their natural resources?  Could it be kings and presidents start wars because they want to be remembered?  I know the presidents I best remember are wartime presidents.  Who remembers Chester What’s His Name Arthur or Franklin Pierce?  But we do remember Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt.

To keep me from constantly asking, “Are we there yet?” my father would stop at a gas station and get a map (they were free then) and show me where we were and where we were going.  That helped.  Maybe that is why we seem so hungry for signs and omens in the news.  If we had some clear markings along God’s timeline perhaps we would not have to keep praying, “Are we there yet?”

What I do know is I am closer than most.  I am most likely within ten or fifteen years while most people in the world are under thirty and have a much longer journey ahead.  I wonder why we ask, “Are we there yet?” and yet rue the truth that we are getting old.  We should be welcoming age.  It means we are almost there.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 16, 2015

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



God Believes in Us

I think my accuser thought I would take umbrage at being called a humanist.  But my reaction was quite the opposite.  According to the dictionary a humanist is “a person having a strong interest in or concern for human welfare, values, and dignity.”  According to my accuser I am not religious enough.  I don’t use the usual religious argot.  I don’t use a lot of “amens,” “hallelujahs” or “thank you Jesuses.”  He’s right.  I don’t.

God is a humanist.  He made us in His image.  He definitely has human welfare as a major concern, so much so that He gave us His only begotten Son to die for us.  He wants us to live by His values and by calling us His sons and daughters (see Romans 8 and Galatians 4) He gives us tremendous dignity.  “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  Often we speak about our believing in Him and fail to emphasize that He believes in us.  He is willing to live in us. Paul speaks of our being His temple. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”  I Corinthians 6:19.

God is so much a humanist that He was born as one of us in Bethlehem.  In Hebrews Paul speaks of Jesus suffering all the temptations that we suffer.  That is amazing.  So I want to thank my accuser for recognizing that I am indeed a humanist.  I’m proud of it.  I want to be as much like Jesus as possible and being a humanist is a great step toward the fulfillment of that goal.  Join me.

Written by Roger Bothwell on April 15, 2015

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