Not Accidental, But Incidental…

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Judges 14:4
His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.

My wife and I were having a conversation with a dear friend of ours when he expressed his relief at our availability to assist him with a ministry project at the last minute. There was a turn of events that threw a ‘monkey wrench’ into his plans for this project. Subsequently, the resources he thought would be available to him were not and this development was last minute, seemingly not giving him enough time to recover. However, HE PRAYED (that is a revelation all by itself) and God led Him to us. It turns out, we were the ones that God wanted in the first place. When he expressed the relief I mentioned earlier, we realized that this is what God had in mind all along. Then the Holy Spirit birthed in me the revelation captured in the graphic at the beginning of this blog. The things that we consider to be ACCIDENTAL to what we want are actually INCIDENTAL to what HE WILLS! Wow!!

I thought about the verse above (there are many other Scriptural examples of this). Samson desired this young woman as a wife who was a national of the people group responsible for severely oppressiong his people at that time. Not only was the nationality an issue but the faith orientation of this group of people was completely diammetrically opposed to Samson’s faith as well. So his parents had grave misgivings and resistance to this. God had given Samson to them and he had a specifically-divine call on his life to deliver his people. Samson’s parents were given explicit instructions on how to guide Samson into this call. Because of that, they had certain expectations and wishes for Samson, especially whom he would marry. This event was ACCIDENTAL to what they wanted – it was not a part of the script, so they thought.  However, it was INCIDENTAL to what GOD WANTED – it was in HIS SCRIPT-what HE WILLED!

The lesson for us as believers to learn here is that nothing is accidental in our lives. God has it all planned out. And the things that we consider to be ACCIDENTS are merely INCIDENTS in His grand design for us. We just need to rest in the promising assurance of Romans 8:28 and be sure that we are keenly attuned to the leading of His Spirit through His Word, prayer, and obedience. This is how we will see the unveiling of His work in our lives as NOT ACCIDENTAL, BUT INCIDENTAL!

The Kind of Leaders We Need

“…For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” – Matt. 12:34b.

A leader understands their personal convictions are integrally and inextricably linked to their leadership philosophy and inevitably manifested in their leadership expression(s) and action(s).

The thoughts you sow reap actions; the actions you sow reap habits; the habits you sow reap character; and the character you sow reaps a destiny (adapted from a quote by Charles Reade). Now I go on to add, ‘the destiny you sow reaps an eternity’.

We need our leaders from all the sectors of society and culture to understand the critical times we live in and the critical consequences ineluctably linked to our thoughts, words and actions. We also need them to understand that our words, thoughts and actions cannot be conveniently compartmentalized for the sake of popular expediency of any kind under the delusion that there will not be any repercussions for the pursuit of that kind of logic.

Now, more than ever before, we need leaders to think, say, do, be and own their convictions, good, bad or indifferent and to courageously accept the consequences whatever they may be.

As a leader, I say my conviction is that “Righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people, Provs. 14:34”, and I will do my best to steward the leadership assignment that God has given me in that direction. May I invite each of us to pray for all of our leaders and that we seek the face of God that He would have mercy on us and restore us back to a place of allegiance, loyalty and love TO HIM first and everything that He says and requires of us….

Holy Week Is Over; Now What?

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I am by no means vilifying the observance and celebration of sacred landmarks within the calendar of the Christian Culture. However, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of us allow these moments to serve their true purpose? That purpose is for you and I to come aside from the normal routine of life and mark the beauties of our faith so that we can be transformed, maturing in our relationship with God and progressing from one level of growth to the next as we continue to walk with Him and become more like God as we are conformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. So will Holy Week be the only time you pay any significant attention to God? Or did Holy Week have such an impact on you, that your walk with Him has been elevated to a new dimension of daily intimacy with Him?

“They Took Faith Into the Fire….”

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The fiery furnace did a few powerful things;
1. It annihilated the unauthorized associates – the guards that were attached to the Hebrew boys did not have the favor and blessing of God to be near the fire let alone in it. Subsequently the heat outside of the fire killed them as they put the Hebrew boys INTO IT. Some people have attached themselves to you not to boost you to your destination but to bind you to destruction. God turns up the heat in and on your life to burn them away.

2. It activated the awesomeness of their access – the Hebrew boys had access to the awesomeness of God’s presence and power. When THEY TOOK FAITH INTO THE FIRE, the access they had to the awesomeness of God’s presence and power was activated, with THE SON OF GOD GRANTING A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE EPIC WE WOULD LATER COME TO KNOW AS IMMANUEL – GOD WITH US! They (and everybody else) discovered the friendship and favor they had with Almighty God!

3. It annulled the authority of their adversary – the king’s authority, which was adversarial to them, was annulled and subjected to the Authority of the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. He no longer had any power over them because he was introduced to the ONE Who has ALL POWER! The fiery furnace is designed to give your enemies a reality check about who you are, who they ARE NOT – AND ULTIMATELY WHO GOD IS! Additionally, those some adversaries will undergo an attitude adjustment, changing their minds about God and changing their minds about YOU!

4. It caused the arrival of the application of their advancement – the same king who wanted to annihilate them now advanced them, causing them to prosper, Dan. 3:30, NASB. Don’t despise the fiery furnace; it is about to be the avenue to some of the greatest blessings in your life!

These are just a few things done by the fiery furnace….

Humbly,
Pastor Darren E Butler, Sr

A Tribute To My Godfather-Uncle, the Late Bishop E. L. Woodside, Sr. Dec. 12, 1938 – March 10, 2017

 

A Tribute to My Godfather-Uncle, the Late Bishop E. L. Woodside, Sr. Dec. 12, 1938 – March 10, 2017

Some Commentators and Observers of the Early Church’s History have surmised and speculated that the role of Godparents in the beginnings of that Christian community was birthed out of the intense persecution they were subjected to at that time. It was a very perilous time to be a Chrisitan, literally life-threatening. Facing the reality of the day they lived in, it is thought by some that those parents did what most parents would do – look out for the well-being of their children, even if it meant making arrangements for that in their absence. They began to ask each other to commit to assuming the role of becoming their child’s surrogate PARENT, raising their child just like they would in GODLINESS, in the fear and admonition of the Lord according to Christian convictions. Hence, the term, role, function and purpose of a GODPARENT evolved. It was a highly-trusted and honored position. When a parent asked another adult to become their child’s GODPARENT, in essence they were saying, “I have such trust and confidence in you, that if something happens to me and I’m no longer here, I believe you will raise my child according to the faith we uncompromisingly hold, in the same way I would.”

Fast-forward to where we are now in time, and for a moment let’s accept this speculation as true. Unfortunately in our culture, we choose Godparents for a whole host of reasons that have little-to-nothing to do with the original intent. HOWEVER, THAT IS NOT THE CASE WITH THE PEOPLE THAT ARE MY GODPARENTS. Bishop E.L. & Mother Eva Woodside more than admirably fulfilled the role in my life my parents entrusted them to. They served as examples of great Christian character, conduct and convictions, and made extremely, critically-essential contributions to my development as a follower-of-Christ – GODPARENTS! There are many instances that I can sight as examples where this is the case. I don’t have the time to do so right now and this space is not adequate to do it justice. But there is one contribution I MUST HIGHLIGHT…

My GODFATHER planted a church, FIRST CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST. I was a teenager when he began pioneering this ministry. They started out in Northern Nassau County, New York, in the Port Washington – Great Neck area. Eventually, my GODFATHER followed the leading of the Lord and moved the church to Hempstead, New York. One evening, a petite, simply beautiful, young woman came in the church while service was going on. Circumstances, along with the recommendation of a friend moved her to come, seeking God. When the opportunity to receive Christ was presented, that young woman responded, accepting Jesus into her heart. She continued with that ministry, until the Lord moved her elsewhere to continue her walk with the Lord. My GODFATHER had no idea that his obedience to the Lord to begin that ministry was going to result in his GODSON having a saved wife! That young woman was/is none other than the Mrs. Patricia K Butler, my incredible wife. This woman is, after Jesus, the best thing that ever happened to me. And a large part of that is because she began to walk with the Lord at the invitation of my GODFATHER.

How awesome is that?! I’m quite sure my GODFATHER never dreamed that one of the converts to Christ through his ministry efforts would become THE GODLY WOMAN THAT GOD WANTED HIS GODSON-NEPHEW TO HAVE. My wife is an indescribable blessing to me in so many ways BUT ESPECIALLY AS A FOLLOWER-OF-CHRIST. And that happened through my GODFATHER and GODMOTHER’S (our spouses are critical to our ministries) yieldedness to God. For the last 27 plus years, I have awakened each day to the joy, honor and privilege of marriage to this woman. For the last 27 plus years, I have benefitted from/been blessed by her ministering to me AS A CHRISTIAN. And on, and on, and on, I could go. The earthly catalyst in this is MY GODFATHER. And every day I am reminded of what a real GODPARENT is because I get to live with and enjoy the fruit of their labor. To me, besides communicating the Gospel, there is no greater contribution a GODPARENT could make to their GODCHILD’S life than this.

Uncle, with tears in my eyes, I express my eternal gratitude to you for the Godfather you are and to my wonderful Godmother. I am thankful to my cousins, your children for the contributions they made to me as my Godsiblings. We are now separated by the great gulf that exists between time and eternity. But I am thankful for the rich Godly heritage you left me as a godson, especially the beautiful reminder I have of it every day in the person of your Goddaughter/Niece. I’m really gonna miss you. I’m gonna miss your wisdom. I’m gonna miss your unconditional support. I’m gonna miss your strength. I’m gonna miss your sobriety. I’m gonna miss your unconditional love. I am especially grateful for what you did the last time we were in Bennettsville, South Carolina. But I promise, that I will go on to finish my course as you did yours so that we can see each other again, when all of God’s people are together forever in the Presence of the Father and the Son, surrounding the Throne in worship and praise.
I am brokenhearted. But I am also celebrating because…”THE CHARIOT FINALLY SLOWED DOWN SO YOU COULD RIDE!!!”

With Sorrow But Much Love,
Your Godson-Nephew, Darren E Butler, Sr

 

He’s Where You Last Left Him…Roms. 10:21

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He’s Where You Last Left Him…Roms. 10:21

Many of us have experienced, through observation and/or participation the time when a parent and a child are on a walk, journey, outing together or adventure together. The child is stimulated and intrigued by the many sights and sounds in the environment. Inevitably, the child wants to explore these things and subsequently wanders off from the parent. Eventually, the lure of the things that stimulated and distracted the child wears off and the child realizes they miss the parent. But the child is disoriented and not sure where the parent is. Additionally, the child may not have grown to the place developmentally where they are able to find their way back to the parent on their own. However, the parent (if the parent is a good one) has been watching this entire episode unfold. The parent’s gaze is fixed on the child and the child is never really in danger because unbeknownst to the child, they are within the parent’s reach. The parent, up to now, has not interfered because they wisely discerned that this instance is an essential experience in the child learning some lessons and subsequently growing, developing and maturing. The child now begins to progress through the stages of emotional, physical and mental anguish because they can’t get back to the parent. When the anguish reaches the point of being unbearable, the child cries out for the parent. Then the voice of the parent pierces the distress and despair now causing the child to refocus in the direction where they last left the parent. Looking in the direction of the voice allows the child to see where the parent is, the last place they left them. Then the child makes their way back to the parent, the place where they last left them. Their reuniting is wonderful, creating a memorable experience for both of them that will have a lasting impact on them individually and on their relationship collectively.

As it is in this instance of a natural parent-child relationship, so it is with us and our Father in Heaven spiritually. We start out with Him on a walk, a journey, an outing or an adventure. But something catches our eye and we become distracted and allured by the sights and sounds of the world. We wander off pursuing the exploration of that which seems for the moment to be of greater interest than our walk with the Father. The appeal of the allurement wears off and we realize that it really isn’t greater than what we had with the Father. Inevitably, WE MISS HIM. But we’ve wandered so far off, that we don’t know how to get back. Now the things that fascinated us to the point of straying are irritating us. We want to get back to where we were but we don’t know how. The anguish in our souls percolates to a point of torment and we cry out to the Father. Just then His voice pierces the distress, the despair and the darkness. We turn to the voice and realize the Father is at the exact place we last left Him; He’s at the last Scripture verse you read; He’s at the last gathering you attended; He’s at the last place of prayer where you humbled your heart to commune with Him; He’s at the last place of obedience that you turned from. HE’S WHERE YOU LAST LEFT HIM. And His voice is calling out to you through your desperate cry. Tune your ear and turn your heart to His voice. And that tuning and turning will show you where you last left Him. And His love, grace and mercy will empower you to begin your journey back to that place, into His waiting arms and pick right up where you last left off with Him. HE’S WHERE YOU LAST LEFT HIM. Go Back Now, HE’S CALLING AND WAITING…

Pray More, Say Less

KSA (Kingdom Service Announcement) To All Followers-of-Christ:

It is a good thing for us to engage in civic duties with political activism. However, the greater thing is for us to endeavor in Christian responsibility with Kingdom activation. May I remind us (MYSELF INCLUDED) that God has called us to embrace allegiance to Kingdom THEOTICS (my word and it means, “that which makes God tick; what He likes”) and not earthly partisan politics. Whether we like it or not, it is clear according to Psalms 115:3; Dan. 4:17, 25, 31-32; and Roms. 13:1-2, that the current Administration of these United States of America was Divinely-sanctioned to occupy office. (That goes for the nations of this world too!) Furthermore, we have clear marching orders TO PRAY for governing authorities, 1 Tim. 2:1-5.


Therefore, it is up to us to decide whether or not we will EXPEND MORE VALUABLE ENERGY in the FUTILE MOTION of COMPLAINING in line with our civic duties and rights, or, whether or not we will EXTEND MORE VALIANT ENDEAVORS in the FORCEFUL MANEUVER of CONTENDING ON GOD’S LINE with our Kingdom directives and responsibility which is TO PRAY. Prayer is the way we IGNITE Kingdom Activation. When we’ve prayed and heard from God, He shows us what to do in accordance with His Will to bring about what He wants to accomplish in the earth realm. Perhaps we would see God move in an incredible way upon and within the political landscape of our nation and our world, if we PRAY MORE and SAY LESS, Luke 18:1