Hate Crimes Begin with Hate Speech

Somewhere in the world tonight someone is planning to kill as many human beings as possible.  In doing so, they will most assuredly die with their victims.  They are not afraid because someone has convinced them that God will be pleased and they are guaranteed a ticket to heaven.  Thus it is that religious people can be very frightening.  A common criminal can possibly be talked out of pulling the trigger, but if someone is doing it for God only a miracle will deter them.

Recent years have seen an uptick in religiously inspired violence.  We have always seen patriotically inspired violence but with the addition of religion we face a new human crisis.  Into the mix goes hate speech and the flames are fanned.  People who hold different views than we become not just traitors but heretics who must be silenced at all costs.   Somewhere along the way the ideals of faith that inspire us to be better people vanish without our being aware.  Unwittingly, we become zealots who so often are but puppets for unsavory types who use our passion for their gains and to the destruction of the good we used to possess.

Our email boxes become repositories of hate materials disguised as religious or patriotic materials and we are duped into forwarding them on to our friends and relatives not even asking ourselves the question, “Would Jesus forward this?”  “Does this represent the best that I want to be?”  Hate crimes begin with hate speech, and hate speech is hate speech even if it is just a “funny” cartoon or an editorial that encouraged an inflamed soul to kill for Jesus.  If we are part of the chain we share the guilt.

God has given the 21st century citizen marvelous electronic tools with which to spread the gospel.  Let us use them to proliferate the joy of salvation.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 31, 2010

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



“I Wasted It.”

A little girl standing in line behind us at Staples this evening went over to a display and picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer.  Looking at her mom she said, “I need a new one of these because I wasted the last one.”  I wondered how she had wasted it.  Had she sanitized the dog or the cat?  I loved her honesty.  I immediately thought of us being honest enough with God to say, “I need a new life.  I wasted the old one.”  The little girl’s mom said, “Yes, you can have it.”   And how happy I am to report that God says the very same thing to us, “Yes, you can have it.”   What is even better about God’s replacement is it lasts forever.  The bottle of sanitizer will someday be gone.

God is a great parent.  It is perfect that Jesus told us to call Him “Father.”  Nothing could be better.   Today one of my students told about her mother totally shocking her.  According to my student her mother had always been a model of decorum and gentleness, until the day my student saw another child bullying my student’s little brother.  Her mom went ballistic.  Parents are that way.  I can only imagine the fate of those who have harmed God’s children.  There is an old expression about “hell to pay.”   I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.

Going back to the wasted lives, I love Hebrews 7:25, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.”   The word “uttermost” means just that.   A totally wasted life is totally replaced.  Now I am hoping that each of us didn’t totally waste our lives.  I am sure each of us had some good days, weeks or years.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 30, 2011

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



The Quest

When I was in college I had to take P.E. as a part of my theology curriculum.  If it really had been Physical Education I would not have minded.  I wanted to know more about myself and how to get stronger. However, the curriculum was far from education.  It was hell.  At the first class the teacher gave us a list of things we had to do to get a certain grade.  The A list was obviously longer and more difficult than the B list and the B list was harder than the C list.  Wanting a good grade, I tackled the A list.  It was such things as run a mile in a designated time, do 100 push-ups, etc. I had English composition class right after this farce disguised as education.  It was difficult to concentrate in English because of the extreme nausea I experienced following each P.E. class.  I did not get my A.  I was too busy cleaning myself up after each class. Neither did I get an A in English.

I remembered this unfortunate educational experience when reading that world class athletics that run the 400 meter race often vomit during training.  I had a preacher friend who told me he used to vomit each Sabbath morning before going into the pulpit.  The stress to be excellent was that horrendous.

In Hebrews 1 we read that we are in a race.  We are racing toward character building.  We are racing toward Christ-likeness.  We are racing to improve our morality and our understanding of true goodness.  What we are not racing for is salvation.  The reason being is salvation is a gift.   Romans 6:23.

The quest is to excel in righteousness.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 29,2010

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



Our Side

Could switching to God’s side really save your soul?   Do dogs chase cats?  Did the little piggy cry, “wee wee wee” all the way home?   Was Abe Lincoln honest? Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

I guess it really boils down to whom you want to believe.  Do you want to believe some television preacher who is clearly lining his pocket?   Do you want to believe some scientist who clearly does not have all the data?  Do you want to believe that something as complex as you exists because there were over a twenty trillion favorable mutations all in a row?  Do you want to believe some preacher who uses God’s Word to promote hate?

I have a really good scientist friend who was let go from a major university because his colleagues discovered he was a creationist.   Really now, if they are so sure of their position why did they feel threatened to keep him around?  He would have made a great intellectual sparring partner.  They could have scored points off him with their students if they were so sure.

It becomes fairly obvious that there are many reasons to become disenchanted with both sides.  So how about starting a new side?  Our side – one based upon our own common sense of logic, decency and honesty.  Why not turn off the strident voices on either side and instead sit down quietly with God’s Word, read carefully and listen to what He has to say?  Why not look at nature and see the incredible complexity of life?   Why not believe because we believe and not because someone told us to believe?

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 28, 2011

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


Light the Candles

It was May 19, 1780 America was brand new and state houses of legislature were busy forming the government.  But this day things were different.  This day became known as the Great Dark Day.  At noon the perfect combination of smoke from Canadian forest fires, heavy cloud cover and fog brought on night at noon.  In the state house in Stamford, Connecticut some of the Puritan members cried out, “It is the Day of Judgment.”  Andrew Davenport’s voice rang out in the darkness, “This well may be the Day of Judgment which the world awaits; but be it so or not, I only know my present duty, and my Lord’s command to occupy till He come. So at the post where He hast set me in His providence, I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face, No faithless servant frightened from my task, but ready when the Lord of the harvest calls; and therefore, with all reverence, I would say, Let God do His work, we will see to ours. Bring in the candles.”

The current issue of Newsweek magazine has the cover message, “Apocalypse Now – Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Nuclear Meltdowns. Revolutions, Economies on the Brink.”  There is no doubt, it’s rough out there and it is not a time for the faint of heart.  I do think the Puritan members might watch thirty minutes of the evening news and once again cry out.  But it is Andrew Davenport’s message that needs to be repeated.  Let’s be focused on the task the Lord has given us.  God will do His work; we must see to ours.  “Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the Gospel.”  The Gospel is the Good News not all the bad news.  Therefore, bring in the candles and let our light shine.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 24, 2011

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


Well Done

In Paradise Lost John Milton wrote, “Servant of God, well done; well hast thou fought the better fight, who single hast maintained against revolted multitudes the cause of truth, in word mightier than they in arms, and for the testimony of truth hast born universal reproach, far worse to bear than violence; for this was all thy care to stand approved in sight of God, though worlds judged thee perverse.”

Of a few such men we know, Martin Luther, Thomas More, Wycliffe and others. I am tempted to say the world has only seen these few but Hebrews 12:1 tells us God has a cloud of greats.

When I drive up my hill into fog, a low cloud, I see tens of millions droplets of water.  What joy will come to those who chose integrity over position, power or reputation.  To tell the truth, to cheat no one, to harm no one but perhaps self by taking such a stand has to be in the face of threats, loss of loves, loss of honor, loss of life itself has to be monumental in the course of one’s life.  What more could compensate than the words written above by Milton.

Milton’s words reflect Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 when the master commended his servant for faithful service.  Wouldn’t it be grand to hear “Well done”?

Paul expected it for each of us.  In Romans 8:37 Paul assures us we are more than conquerors in Christ.  With Jesus’ help we can and shall join the cloud in Hebrews 12.  What could be more meaningful in life than to stand approved before God?  The judgment of worlds means nothing when we have thatprivilege.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 26, 2010

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



Last Year’s Buds – This Year’s Blossoms

Last summer the rhododendron plants set this year’s blossoms. The buds were formed and all winter they have slept and waited for this coming June.  We have hundreds of blossoms waiting to overwhelm us with beauty.  This afternoon I stood holding one in my hand and I understood much more about Jesus’ kingdom.

In Mark 1 we read, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.’”  If we were expecting an immediate change in government it didn’t happen and Jesus would have been a false prophet.  But Jesus never sought to overtly overthrow any political establishment. Instead He was far more subtle and far more effective.  Had He demanded the fruit of Christianity to immediately be established, anarchy would have ensued.  But ever so slowly the internal principles, the fruit of the Spirit, matured in the minds of people.  Civil rights, equality of women, religious liberty, the value of a single human life and the emancipation of slavery are a few of the revolutionary and radical changes that have blossomed in nations populated by large Christian populations. Our world is not the same world in which He said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

Most of us are impatient for moral change.  We want to reform the world in our time.  We want to see the fruit of our teaching manifest itself in our children.  For Jesus it was setting the blossoms and knowing in due season the hearts of men would be aroused to do the morally right thing.  We have a tendency to want to believe the world is getting worse and worse but a careful examination of history reveals that so much good has come to us and we can trace it back to the teachings of a Galilean carpenter.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 25, 2011

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


Don’t Quit or Do Quit

It had been a long dusty trip over some of the world’s worst roads after we left the only paved road in central Uganda.  Four of us were packed into a small English Ford as we tried to breathe through the clouds of dust generated by the buses in front of us.  We only had another hour to go until we arrived at Bukoba, where we were going to hold a series of evangelistic meetings.  Only one more hour and one more ferry trip across a river and we would arrive.

Alas, life does not always work the way we plan.  Arriving at the ferry we discovered it was broken and would not be repaired for days.  The closest ferry was 95 miles north.  We were so close and now we added 190 miles of bumps and ruts.  (No potholes.  No pavement.)  We had eight more hours of dirt to go, if we were lucky.  It’s amazing what we can do when we are young.  Today I would have turned around and gone home.  Even then we most likely would have, had we known what was ahead; a broken transmission, a night in a refugee camp, a tow by a bus into a town to awaken a drunken Chinaman to repair the car.   Oh, did I mention the cobra?

Life is an adventure filled with wonders.  How grand it is to re-experience all this only in memory.  But how often in life do we almost complete a goal only to find more challenges ahead.  The important thing is not to quit. “Quit” is another English word that can sometimes mean the opposite.  “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”  “Quit” meaning to be resolved.  I Corinthians 16:13.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 24, 2010

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


Birds of a Feather

I passed a very specific group of people this weekend and found myself grateful that I did not have to associate with them.  My sons would accuse me of being an elitist but I would argue that was not the case.  It was not that I felt that I was better than those in that group.  Not at all.  It is just that talking with them would be uncomfortable because we have so little in common.  Conversation would be strained and artificial.  I cared little about what seemed important to them.  I could have asked them lots of questions.  I don’t mind appearing ignorant; I am in many areas.  And while I could have informed myself, I really didn’t care to.  It’s true that birds of a feather flock together and for very good reason.  It is comfortable.

Jesus tells us we must love each other.  He does not expect us to like each other.  I doubt if Jesus liked Herod the night Herod had Jesus beaten. Sometimes we err in confusing liking and loving.  Loving is wanting the best for you and wanting the best for your family.  Liking is wanting to spend time with you.

I have never understood Will Rogers’s famous line that he never met a man he didn’t like.  He was so much more eclectic than I.  I wish I were like him.   (That’s a different use of the word “like.”  No wonder English is difficult.)

Jesus’ comfort level with everyone has always intrigued me.  He was comfortable with the lowest of the low and seemed equally comfortable with the wealthy.  He was a common man.  He was a man who labored with His hands. He was royalty. I really wish I were like Him.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 23, 2010

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



The Secret Is No Secret

I love musty old bookstores.   There is something mystical about browsing about shelves of books that have not seen the light of day for who knows how long.  There used to be, maybe it is still there, one near Columbia University where room led onto room.  Each room seemed a bit darker than the former and the smell deepened.  There I imagined I would find some ancient tome filled with the secrets of the ages.   That is so strange because I know better.  I know the book filled with the secrets of life is not lost in some New York City bookstore.  I have owned one since I was five-years-old.

I am, of course, talking about our Bible.  It is the story of redemption. It is the story of God reaching out to man.  It is the story of God becoming a man so we would know the truth.  God is not a capricious, temperamental being who acts on whims.   He is consistently steady in His resolve to redeem us.  Never a day goes by when He is disinterested in our progress toward infinity.   We are the apple of His eye.  We are His children.  We are princes and princesses of the universe.

Ever since Eden, Lucifer has tried his worst to discredit God.   Lucifer inspired people to do horrible things and convinced them it was God who was the source of their inspiration.  Ignorant people then claimed they did it because God wanted them to do it.   Finally God came here to set the record straight.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.   The Word said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”   The secret is no secret.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 22, 2010

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