Why Me?

Posted on Mar 21, 2018

For the German philosopher Immanuel Kant the heart of ethical human behavior is as follows, “Act as if the maxim from which you act were to become through your will a universal law.” I must not seek any privilege for myself that I am not willing to provide to everyone. I must not pass a law for others that I am not willing to obey.

It seems so natural to think of ourselves as better than others and thereby deserving of better treatment. My state trooper should allow me to drive faster than people with out of state license plates. I should get a discount at a store owned by someone who goes to my church. Because I am a Christian I think God should treat me better than those who are not. Jesus seems to disagree with me. He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45

The essence of true morality is A = B. The next time something bad happens to us we must not say, “Why me?” The real question should be “Why not me?” We want to be special. We want everyone to be special. However if everyone is special then no one is special, except maybe in the eyes of our loving heavenly Father. In His eyes everyone can be special. Everyone certainly is unique and for sure each of us is loved.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 10, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

God’s Warranty

Posted on Mar 20, 2018

This afternoon I sat in the showroom of a car dealer while waiting for my truck to be repaired. It was a slow day. Four salesmen sat without speaking a word to each other as they peered out the window like hunters in the woods at deer season waiting for prey. Oh if only someone could be spotted walking through the lot. I wondered about the pecking order. Which one had the right to pounce? If all four descended upon a victim, he or she would surely flee. A television was on in the corner broadcasting the continued slide of the stock market. The bad news seemed to heighten the intensity of the hunt.

I pulled myself back into the textbook on my lap but then thought about my truck. It is almost out of warranty. That’s why I was there. The repair was not urgent but I wanted to make sure Ford Motor Company paid for it instead of me. It was then that I wondered if the warranty ever runs out on people. Would there ever be a time when our manufacturer refused to fix us at His cost?

In Revelation 22:17 John wrote, “Come. Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” I like that “whosoever.” There does not seem to be a 36,000 mile or 36 month limit here. Young or old, it does not matter, the warranty never expires.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 19, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453.

What’s on Your Business Card?

Posted on Mar 19, 2018

Business cards are wonderful things. Properly created they provide an easy way to introduce yourself to someone and supply them access to you with phone numbers
and addresses. Through the years I have had a host of business cards made. My problem is I never remember to carry them with me. On those great occasions when I could use one I never have one with me. I tried carrying a few in my wallet but soon they become shop worn from my sitting and rising and they look so bad I would be ashamed to hand them out. So I have a closet full of boxes filled with cards dating back decades.

I wonder what Jesus would have put on a business card. Who would He have given one to? Pilate? It could have read, “Messiah.” There was no mailing address. There was no cell phone or fax number. No e-mail address. I guess He could have put “Galilee” down as a locator but He wasn’t always there. If He gave one to the religious leadership it could have had “carpenter” under “Messiah.” Somehow I don’t think that would have been very impressive to the High Priest.

Perhaps the only business card He needed was His character and the fruits of His life. Hey, maybe that is the most effective business card any of us can have. If that is it then definitely we should not leave home without it.

“ In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 18, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Absolute Faith

Posted on Mar 18, 2018

We watched in awe as the stunt plane streaming white smoke climbed vertically into the sky spiraling upward with the mighty engine straining against the relentless pull of gravity. Slower and slower it climbed until gravity won. The plane sat on its tail shuddering and then it fell over backward tumbling end over end toward the mesmerized crowd below. As it fell back to earth it was then I noticed there was a man standing on the top wing. Cabled in place he waved to us mortals below. All I could think was this man has a death wish. But probably not. This was a case of absolute faith. Obviously he trusted the man at the controls. His faith was rewarded. As the plane tumbled to earth it regained sufficient speed to fly again and the pilot rolled it out into a perfect arch above the crowd.

One of my all time favorite verses of Scripture is all about trust. Jesus said in John 14, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Life can tumble us about but if we will trust Jesus we will be rewarded with an eternity of endless growth. He wants us to be with Him. How grand!

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 17, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453


Posted on Mar 17, 2018

While I was sitting at my computer a housefly soared past my head and smashed into the computer screen. He either killed himself or at least knocked himself unconscious for he was immediately lying belly up by my keyboard. What surprised me next was a really tiny spider rushed out from under my keyboard and attacked the fly. It was a case of David against Goliath.

It reminded me of an incident one afternoon just outside Nairobi. A semi struck and killed an elephant. People from all over came with their machetes to cut up and carry away the giant. They looked so small beside the fallen behemoth.

Sometimes most of us feel like our lower nature is a giant. Paul calls it his “old man.” Freud called it our “id.” In Romans 7 Paul speaks about doing battle with this aspect of our humanity and often losing the battle. It is as if this elephant in our lives sits anywhere it pleases. If it were not for God’s promises to help us it would be most discouraging indeed. However the real joy is knowing we do not have to do battle alone. Help is always available.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” I Corinthians 10:13

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 16, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453.

One Simple Statement

Posted on Mar 16, 2018

The discussion was about best practices in teaching reading. My graduate students, most of them elementary teachers, were talking about the use of literature circles, journaling and other techniques used to enhance children’s reading skills. Then it happened one of them said, “You have to teach phonics until the children know how to read then you no longer need it.”

Ahh! There it was in one simple statement. In principle my student had summed up the book of Galatians. We need the Ten Commandments until by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we become assimilated into the likeness of Jesus. It is then one no longer needs an external law. The underlying principles become the standard of life. We do not need to be told not to steal. We don’t want to steal. We do not have to be told not to tell bad stories about our neighbor. We don’t want to hurt his reputation.

Paul says it like this. “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” Galatians 3:24-5

Sometimes this verse confuses people because they think Christians are then free to live lawless lives. Quite to the contrary, the principles become as natural as breathing. We don’t have to have a command telling us to breath.

Wsritten by Roger Bothwell on September 13, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453.

Looking for Treasure

Posted on Mar 15, 2018

Yesterday there was a loaf of Wonder Bread sitting by the roadside on my way to work. It was still there today. It looks quite intact. The brightly colored plastic cover shines in the sunlight protecting its nice soft chewy contents.

I like Wonder Bread. I know it is not very sophisticated to say so. People I associate with tell me it is low class to admit liking Wonder Bread. I am supposed to like multigrain and whole grain bread. You know – the kind of bread that fractures the tile on the kitchen floor if you drop it. I like Wonder Bread. You can wad it up into a nice white ball and bounce it off the floor.

I wonder if it will still be by the road tomorrow. I really don’t expect some hungry family to stop and pick it up but I was thinking some crows would get it. Crows are very busy on my street on trash day. They go down the street from one container to the next looking for treasures. The crows are not much different from us. We all spend our lives looking for treasure. Isn’t it strange that most of us look in the wrong place when it is so readily available?

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 5, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453.

An Elegant Lady

Posted on Mar 15, 2018

Today I was reminded of the commonality of all people. We have on our campus a particular professor who enjoys being called “Doctor.” While most of us refer to each other by first names, she is not amused when we call her by her first name. She wants to be “Doctor.” Rarely will I do her the honor. Only in formal settings will I humor her.

I must admit that she is an elegant lady. She always dresses professionally and carries herself with a noble bearing. She could give the Queen of England competition when it comes to manners and being proper. However today, I caught her. Please excuse me for sounding crude but this is just too good to let pass. Today I caught her picking her nose. She had her finger up there like a fourth grader with a runny nose. What was great about this was she saw me catch her!

Ah, sometimes life is good. I wonder if she is afraid I will tell someone? Of course I wouldn’t tell just anyone. I will only tell the 1.5 million people who read this devotional.

Take away the uniforms and the fancy names. Take away positions and wealth. Take away the artificial trappings of life and each of us stands before God on level ground. Each of us is a sinner. Each of us needs the same thing. Each of us needs to be forgiven to be saved. How thankful I am that we do have a Savior. His name is Jesus.

Written by Roger Bothwell on September 3, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453.

Our Practical Jesus

Posted on Mar 14, 2018

My wife had just baked five of the most luscious hot steamy cinnamon rolls. Leaving them on the kitchen counter she went upstairs for a moment and returned with her mouth all ready to experience a gastronomic delight. However, they were gone. The only trace of their existence was the scent and tracings of icing on the counter. In the next room an incredibly contented Labrador Retriever lay sleeping with a smile on her face. Telltale white icing was on her chin and cinnamon was on her breath. She was nailed.

The question remained, “What to do with her?” It would have been so easy to get angry. But how could that profit? It would add insult to injury for every time we get angry we release all kinds of chemicals and stress detrimental to our physical health. Each time we grow angry we harm ourselves more than the person or dog with which we are displeased.

Sometimes we say, “He makes me so angry.” But no one can make us angry. People or dogs can certainly irritate us but our response is up to us. We can become furious. We can retaliate. We can turn the other cheek.

When Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek in the Sermon on the Mount He is giving us practical counsel. Not only does turning the other cheek not instigate more trouble but it also reduces our internal stress level thus enabling us to live a longer healthier life. Everything Jesus asks us to do is for our benefit. He is so very practical.

Written by Roger Bothwell on February 4, 2007
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

The Patient Parent

Posted on Mar 12, 2018

I waited in a grocery store checkout line this evening behind a mom with her three-year-old little girl. Mom was getting frustrated as her little one kept trying to put the food on the conveyor belt. For some unknown reason Mom was trying to stop her from helping and the more she tried to stop her the more the little girl insisted on helping. I could see frustration mounting and when the mother looked at me as if to apologize for the headstrong child I said, “Mom, she only wants to help.” At which point the mother stepped back and allowed the little girl to do the job.

“Ah,” I thought, “how many times do we frustrate God with our insistent efforts to help in important events?”

There are a host of things each day God could do better than we do but He is a patient parent. He steps back and allows us bungle our way along. It really is the only way we can grow. Real learning comes by doing. We can watch someone do something but we never really learn until we put our hand to the task. Of course God knows that. He made us that way. He designed and built us to learn by experience. He even allows us to fail hoping we will keep on trying until we are successful. He sends the Holy Spirit not to do the work but to aid us.

“I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” Philippians 1:19

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 7, 2006
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453