Deep Summer In New England

Posted on Jul 17, 2018

We are deep into summer in New England. The greens have lost their newness and have darkened into a lush verdancy. Roadsides are strewn with Queen Anne’s Lace and Daylilies. Purple Loosestrife has filled the wetlands along the edges of the rivers and marshlands. Evening shadows lengthen until 8:30 p.m. before falling away to the night. Eighty-degree days toast the air and herald the coming of sixty-degree evenings. Wood thrushes sing from the
woods the most beautiful sounds of nature.

If one leaves the rush of the highways and slows down on the winding rock fence walled roads that led to calendar picture villages, one is treated to well-mown yards and Edenic flower gardens. Unique houses fly flags as do the light poles in the towns. One can feel the pride of home and country when moving along the oak and maple lined streets. If you turn off the air-conditioning and roll down the windows almost every street fills one’s nostrils with the glory of some backyard chef trying out his charcoal grill. In the distance you can hear the calliope sounds of Pop Goes the Weasel as the local ice cream man slowly moves through the neighborhoods baiting both little and big people to come and buy Snow cones, Popsicles and Eskimo Pies.

Summertime in New England is as good as life gets. It fills one with thanksgiving and praise for the one who made it and closed out Genesis one with “that’s very good.” “He owns the day and the night. He put the stars and sun in place. He laid out the four corners of earth and shaped the seasons of summer and winter.” Psalm 74:16 – 17

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 14, 2008
Spring of Life Ministry, 151 Old Farm Rd., Leominster, MA 01453

Queen Anne’s Lace

Posted on Jul 16, 2018

In summer the roadsides of central Massachusetts are filled with flowers. The old stonewalls are decorated with day lilies and Queen Anne’s lace. The day lilies come in a vast array of colors while the Queen Anne’s lace is just white but not plain white. If you stop to look closely you will see in the middle of each cluster a tiny purple blossom proclaiming its individuality.

The very last thought of chapter 5 in Galatians is “Let us not…envy each other.” It is so easy to look about and see wonderful features and qualities in others. The next step is to envy. To want be the best looking person at the party. To be the smartest kid in the school. To be the fastest athlete with the best jump shot. To have a car and house like the neighbors. Whole lives can be spent wishing to be or to have something else while failing to appreciate our own gifts and beauty.

God loves each person. In His love He has given each one something unique and wonderful. When we discover what that is and to use it for the benefit of others, we discover yet another gift. For as we utilize what we have, God gives more. Each of us is an original. There is not another like you. We each have something special to offer. Envy no one. Enjoy your uniqueness. Be the purple little blossom in the middle of a Queen Anne’s lace.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 28, 2000
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd., Leominster, MA 01453

Make A Wish

Posted on Jul 15, 2018

In one of my classes today we were talking about the “Make a Wish” Foundation that grants children with life threatening medical conditions one fantastic wish. Many children want to go to Disneyland. Other children want to meet someone special. During the conversation I mentioned that Christianity is a “Make a Wish” faith because Paul says in Ephesians 3:20 that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

At this my students began to tell me all the things they could imagine they wanted. One of them told me she wanted God to pay off her student loans. I assured her God would indeed do that. On a daily basis He would give her the strength to go to class. He would give her the intelligence to learn and if she used what He has given she will someday graduate, begin a career and make all the money needed to pay off her student loans. She was a bright young lady and got the point. God is not interested in granting the wishes of lazy people who don’t bother to utilize the gifts He has already given.

Jesus told a great parable about a man who took a trip and left his servants money to invest. The ones who invested were well rewarded. The one who did nothing with his talent was chastised and impoverished after the master returned. Good things, wishes, come to those who hustle.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 2, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

A Ringside Seat in God’s Universe

Posted on Jul 14, 2018

Hot summer nights are for lying on a grassy hill watching the stars (suns) from far away places parade across the sky. The stars come in all manner of sizes. Some are so big were they positioned where our sun is we would be immersed in the hydrogen furnace. Some are so small they are called dwarfs and are about the size of our earth. This sounds like the story of the three bears, one is too big, one is too small and our sun is just right.

If our sun’s future is like other suns (and there is no reason think it would be different) its supply of hydrogen will ultimately become helium, which will fuse to ultimately form carbon 12. This will occur after it becomes a red giant expanding beyond the orbit of Venus. It will then shrink to become one of those dwarfs. During its red giant phase its heat output will incinerate everything on dear old planet Earth. But not to worry. This horrific event is a few billion years away, a few years beyond our expected life span. That is unless we take Jesus’ promise of eternal life seriously. Pondering that wonder means we will have a ringside seat somewhere in God’s universe to witness this marvel of nature.

No wonder Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” There is just too much to see and learn to be lax about accepting the promise. I want to see it all.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 6, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

What Irritates God?

Posted on Jul 13, 2018

Our dog loves to swim. Today it went into the high nineties and she sat looking at me with her head cocked as if she was trying to figure out why I was so slow about going to her favorite swimming hole. Finally we went. However, something strange happened. After a quick dip and a swim to retrieve a stick she wanted back in the truck. The mosquitoes and the black flies were so bad this evening she wanted refuge. I was not about to argue with her. They get in your hair and dig in for supper. Ouch! I wonder what the Native Americans did here in the summer before the pilgrims arrived? Surely they must have covered themselves with some kind of berry juice or they would all have been anemic or have scratched themselves to death by the end of July.

As I retreated to the shelter of the truck I wondered what irritates God. Most everything I could think of like mosquitoes and black flies He could easily fix. If there is something, it has to be something out His control. But, isn’t everything under His control? Actually no. Like a parent that gives their child the car keys He passes control to us. Yes, He could take back the keys but that would not foster the freedom and mature growth good parents desire for their children. God has given us the keys to our destiny. We can go where we want. And I am sure when we are going the wrong way He is way beyond irritation.

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 4, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

A Rescuer of Self-Esteem

Posted on Jul 12, 2018

When I was a little boy my teacher asked me what came after twelve and I said, “One.” The other children in the room laughed at me. A girl with long brown locks looked at me with disdain as if to say, “How can you be so stupid?” But my teacher was very wise. Pausing for a moment she pointed to the clock on the wall and said, “Very good, Roger.” I remember riding home on the bus feeling very good. The others had laughed but my teacher vindicated me.

I remembered this years later when preparing a sermon on the Beatitudes. Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” (Matthew 5:11) For a few seconds I felt reviled and my teacher rescued me. The truth was I was wrong. The answer was, of course, thirteen. But a wise, caring teacher knew such moments in a child’s life plot the future. She rescued my self-esteem.

There is a story told in Matthew 26 of a woman pouring very expensive perfume on Jesus. It was an act that could not be hidden because everyone’s nose pointed to her and the reaction was not good. Nasty things were said and she could hear. However, Jesus spoke up in her defense, most likely not really to defend the act as much as to defend her. People were always foremost in His care. Her chief accusers were correct from a fiscal viewpoint. From a human viewpoint they were dead wrong.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 14, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Seeing Through Other’s Eyes

Posted on Jul 11, 2018

We have all seen pictures of teams rushing onto the field to fight with each other. It always amazes me that grown men would behave like little leaguers. But then I remind myself that most little league brawls occur among the parents and not the children. So I guess the men are acting like grownups.

I often wonder if most of the players run unto the field because it is a team thing and once out there they pretend to fight while asking their supposed opponent about the wife and kids. Unfortunately violence is the tool of those who have run out of logic. When we are bested by someone’s superior wit and embarrassed because they have humiliated us with words we often resort to fists or worse if the other is physically bigger than we.

Unfortunately when nations run out of words the resulting violence can be horrific with historic consequences. Our history books are printed with the blood of young men because old men lacked the wisdom to understand each other’s needs. We need to pray that God would enable the leaders of our world to see the world through the other’s eyes that they might understand how to talk instead of striking. What the world needs is 100 qualified candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s pass the Prize out like the leaves of autumn because there are so many worthies.

It is way over time to beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall we learn war any more.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 13, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

That First Spoonful

Posted on Jul 9, 2018

A surefire way of not eating ice cream, especially at night, is not to have it in the house. So you can imagine my delight this evening while rummaging about in the freezer I found an unopened pint of Ben and Jerry’s. This was nothing short of amazing. I have no idea how long it had been hiding behind boxes of frozen lima beans. Well, surely a spoonful would not hurt. I broke the seal and jammed a spoon into the unbroken surface. A half pint later I came back to reality and realized what I was doing. “Oh, well,” I thought, “it was only half the container and the container says, “Calories – 380.” So that was only 190. But wait a minute. It said “per serving.” How many servings could there be in a pint? It said, “Four.”

“Four!!!” “Who in the world thinks a quarter of a pint is a serving?” I ate a total of 760 calories.

Well there it was. Psalm 1:1. That verse keeps coming back to me over and over. It says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”
It is the progression of sin. You walk by it, stop and look. Next you sit right down in it. Alcoholics know all about this. It is a lesson we all need to learn. If there is something we are trying not to do. Staying completely away is the only safe way.

If only I had not taken that first spoonful.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 9, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

A Note in His Pocket

Posted on Jul 8, 2018

During the day I often write myself a note so I will not forget what I want to share with you. The note jars my memory. Today I wrote down the word “squirrel.” However, as I sit here starring at my note the word “squirrel” means nothing to me. I haven’t the slightest clue why I wrote it down. Now I am going to have to start writing a note to remind myself what my notes mean.

Three times in Daniel 7 God is referred to as the “Ancient of Days.” I would worry about God’s ageing memory if it were not for other verses that proclaim God’s total knowledge of everything. In Daniel 2:20 we are informed and assured of God’s total comprehension. This is repeated again in 1 Samuel 2:3. Nothing misses His attention. Nothing slips past Him. He never sleeps. He never forgets. He knows all the secrets of our hearts. Psalm 44:21.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus goes so far as to inform us that our heavenly Father even knows how many hairs we have on our heads. Wouldn’t you like to know how many you had ten years ago or five years ago in relationship to how many you now have? He could tell you.

How very reassuring it is to know the One in charge of everything doesn’t need a note in His pocket. I think the only thing He really needs is you. Love is like that. Love needs someone to love and since God is love you are that someone.

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 7, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453

Quality In, Quality Out

Posted on Jul 6, 2018

I’m sure we have all seen the morning sun warming a roadside causing the dew of the night to rise as vapor. Mystically it ascends from the grass into the morning air waiting to become evening’s dew. Driving past such splendor this morning I thought of the warming effect of the Son of Righteousness shining on us. In Acts 2 the disciples heard a sound like the blowing of a wind and they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire resting on each other. The result was incredible.

Jesus once said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” He was speaking of lives changed by a relationship with Him. Just as the sun transformed the dew into morning vapor so association with Him matures our characters into His likeness. It is impossible for it not to occur. Just as filling one’s thoughts with mental trash will ultimately produce a trashy character so the opposite is true. We are what we eat. If we eat filth we grow filthy characters. If we feed on that which is uplifting, noble, positive and morally challenging we will ever so slowly elevate to what we are thinking about. We couldn’t stop it if we wanted. It is natural.

Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches and if you stay connected to the vine you will bear much fruit.” There is no such thing as a fruitless Christian. It is a truth we so badly need to understand. Computer experts have it down pat when they say, “Garbage in. Garbage out.” Let’s go for “Quality In. Quality Out.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on October 6, 2003
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453