Become the Strong Link In A Relational Chain – An Intriguing Perspective About Queen Vashti As It Relates To Dating… (Part 1)

“But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger.” Est. 1:12, NLT

One of the most exciting books of the Bible is the book of Esther. It is intriguing, provocative, suspenseful, insightful, helpful and incredibly wonderful. It is a short read, with a long reach. It contains all of the elements you would want to find in a great story. But it is more than just a ‘story’. It is an historically-accurate account of an episode in the saga of God’s people that shows us the lengths God will go to in order to protect, preserve and provide for the well-being of His own, whom He has covenanted with. One of the riveting aspects of this account is the love story that emerges between the Persian king Xerxes and the young woman of Israeli descent, known as Esther (Hadassah is her proper Jewish name).  Through a series of sovereignly-peculiar and providential events, Esther finds herself going from being a young Jewish virgin who is unmarried and very obscure within the vast kingdom of Medo-Persia to becoming the Queen of this kingdom, arresting the attention and affections of this powerful monarch and causing his ensnarement with her natural purity, beauty, and grace. Some of the circumstances connected to her ascension to that position have elements to it that are brutal, savage, and perverse. It is a highly romantic epic for sure. But some of the behind-the-scenes eventualities are not very pretty at all. One of these eventualities involves Esther’s predecessor, Queen Vashti.

Vashti was the Queen prior to Esther. King Xerxes convened this very lavish festival that lasted for months. This festival included a 7-days long banquet at his palace, which involved among other things unlimited and unbridled access to liquor. The king and his advisors are partaking of this drinkfest. In one of the sittings, more-than-likely in a state of inebriation, Xerxes sends for Vashti to come and dance before him and his advisors while they are possibly in a drunken stupor, so that he may display her beauty. Vashti refuses. I would surmise that she decided her personal dignity as a woman is more valuable than her positional royalty as a queen and not worth subjecting herself to such circumstances of extreme debauchery. This infuriates the king. He engages the counsel of his advisors. They subsequently concoct a policy that banishes Vashti and sets into motion the events where Esther is able to eventually become the next queen.

There has been much speculation and conjecture about Vashti’s actions. On one ideological side of the coin she is vilified as being disrespectful to her husband, not being in subjection and submission to him. On another side of the ideological coin, she is applauded for putting her personal safety above the accepted cultural practices of the day. However, I would like to present something else. I would like to applaud her for her refusal to subject herself to that recklessness because of the bigger picture. You see when I read this story this time, (I’ve read it many times) I see how critical it was for Vashti to hold her ground, stand up for what was right in not capitulating to this reckless request and thereby set into motion a chain of events that would eventually lead to the salvation and preservation of God’s people. Because Vashti said NO in this relationship, it created the setting for another relationship to emerge that would eventually bless so many people. 

Now you may ask how does this relate to dating? There are times within the scope of the relational reality of dating where one must be acutely aware of and sensitive to the long-term realities of a particular relationship. You have to objectively remove yourself from the relationship and objectively evaluate its appropriateness within the scope of the bigger picture. And sometimes that means being strong enough to say NO to the relationship because you are not the one God has for them and they are not the one God has for you. You become the strong link in the relational chain. When Vashti said NO, she drew a line in the sand that may have been misconstrued as selfish but in the long run was extremely selfless. I’m not even sure she was aware of what she was doing. But God knew. And when you’re involved with someone, you want to be tuned in to what is God doing with them and what is He doing with you in the scope of the long-term with regards to fulfilling purpose and destiny in the relational realm. You want to be bigger than the immaturity and short-sightedness of the short-term pleasure of the relational moment. After all, how many people will be affected by your actions, good or bad, right or wrong? Again, Vashti’s decision was the catalyst for the salvation of an entire group of people.

So are you a strong link in the relational chain, or are you a weak link that is contributing to the breaking of that chain? In part 2, I will give you my personal experience of this reality in my own relational experience.  Stay tuned….

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The Scriptures Are Fluid Yet Fixed…

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The Scriptures Are Fluid Yet Fixed…

“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” – Rev. 22:18-19, NLT

You may say the opening caption of this post is intriguing on its face; that is done intentionally. I am well aware that the above verses are couched contextually according to the narrative of the Revelation. However, when one reads Rev. 19:10, we can see how the principle in the above verses applies to all of Scripture. This is important. Why? Because we live in a day where there is an on-going dangerous and insidious attempt to rewrite Scripture to suit our modern day challenges. Some would argue that there are portions of Scripture that are outdated and irrelevant according to how they were originally written, subsequently ineffective for the ills of our day and thereby they need to be adjusted accordingly. NO!!!! The Scriptures are fixed. God has closed the Canon. However, they are fluid. How so? God, in His unmatched, immeasurable, ingenuous wisdom built fluidity into the Scriptures. We need not (and must not) change, alter, adjust, and even tamper with them in order to discover that fluidity. Rather, we must prayerfully read, study and apply the Scriptures through obedience, which will only happen through the Agency of the Holy Spirit. When we resolve ourselves to unconditionally accept the Scriptures as THEE Word of God, and prayerfully search them through the lens of the Holy Spirit, then we will discover the fluidity that is already built therein. And when that happens, we will see how more-than-relevant the Scriptures are to what challenges us, regardless of the day and age we live in. The Word of God is eternal. Therefore it supersedes time – it always has and it always will.

May I leave you with this verse: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” – Roms. 15:4, NKJV

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