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

 

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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

Why Take A Risk, When You Can Have A Rib? Gen. 2:18, 21-23

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Why Take A Risk, When You Can Have A Rib? Gen. 2:18, 21-23

Strange title, right? Let me explain….

Scripture reports to us Adam’s beginning “moments” on earth. (I say “moments” because technically time had not started in that the curse of death had not yet fallen. Anyway…) Notice, Adam was given responsibility – God put him to work; SISTERS, HE HAD A JOB FIRST. AND A HOME TOO, FOR THAT MATTER. Ok, I digress…

But as Adam is doing what he is supposed to do, God recognizes a need; He sees that Adam is alone. So, God prepares a helper, companion, and complimentary counterpart for him named Eve. How did God do this? He put Adam to SLEEP (there are times in choosing a mate, where you have to get out of the way and let God work…), doing surgery on him (while God is working for you, He is also working on and in you…) and took from him A RIB. God finished the surgery, closing the “hole” in Adam. Then He, God, brought to Adam, the one who represented a “whole” relationship, Eve. She was fashioned from A RIB, THEE RIB that God took from Adam. Dating and choosing a mate is often very ‘risky’ because of the multiplicity of unknowns involved. You really don’t know everything there is to know about the person whom, in the least you’re dating, and at most, whom you’re considering marrying. Even if you do ‘your’ due diligence, it is still very ‘risky’ business. But why take a risk, when you can have a rib? See, Eve wasn’t just any old kind of a mate. SHE WAS THEE ONE THAT GOD MADE FOR ADAM, FROM ADAM. She was ADAM’S RIB. She was fashioned out of a part from Adam – his rib. And God made her into the whole of what Adam needed. There were no options; there were no choices; this aspect of Adam’s (and Eve’s) life was not a multiple choice test. It was a finished essay, written by the God of Heaven. Adam and Eve did not have to wonder whether or not they were ‘doing the right thing’. They did not have to wonder whether or not ‘this is the right one.’ God removed all of the risk by providing THEE RIB.

When Adam saw Eve, he knew she was the one, because he was looking at HIS RIB. When Eve saw Adam, she knew he was the one, because she saw where she was THEE RIB he was missing. Brothers, why take a ‘risk’, when God has your rib? Sisters, why be a risk, when God has appointed you to be THEE RIB for YOUR Adam? If you keep God at the forefront of your dating and mating endeavors, you can eliminate the risk and have a rib.

Incidentally, the absolutely stunning and dazzling individual in the picture with me is MY RIB – Patricia K Butler

The Ministry of “Block” and “Delete”Beyond Social Media

The Ministry of Block & Delete Beyond Social Media – Isa. 43:18; Philips. 3:13; 4:6-7

To those of us who are active on Social Media, block and delete is familiar to us to say the least. And for some of us who are very active within Social Media, block and delete is an essential element of our activity on it. We block individuals for what we deem to be inappropriate behavior. And if the behavior is consistently objectionable, we delete them altogether.

But have you considered how “block and delete” works in your life beyond Social Media? This morning the Spirit of the Lord began to minister to me about blocking and deleting within the scope and context of LIFE. Specifically, He said to me, “Darren, you need to learn how to block some things in your life and delete some things in your life.” He brought the Scripture passages above to my consciousness. As I began to ponder them, I started to ‘see’ what He was saying and understand what He meant. When you study Philippians 4:6-7, especially verse 7, the assurance that Paul gives to the peace of God ‘guarding’ is akin to what we have in athletics in the way the officials manage a game. They manage, direct, control and adjudicate what is and is not allowed in the game. In other words, what is acceptable in the game, they allow – bless. That which is not acceptable in the game, they disallow – block. Through the peace of God, we bless and block, allow and disallow. Through the peace of God in our hearts, we decide what comes and goes, what leaves and stays. Specifically, this happens first and foremost in our minds and hearts, the control room within that determines everything we do, Provs. 4:23. In verses 6 and 8 of this passage, and other passages, such as Isa. 26:3-4, we are given the formula for how God’s peace comes – by keeping our minds focused on Him. So when you have God’s peace unconditionally and comprehensively at work in your life, you are able to block the things (and even some people) that want entrance into the space of your life that are not authorized to be in that space.

Then I saw the revelation behind delete. Some things (and perhaps people) need to be removed completely altogether. Isa. 43:18 and Philippians 3:13 opens this up to us. Some things happened in the past. But they are still imprinted in the recesses of your mind and spirit – harassing, troubling, tormenting, vexing, frustrating and hindering you – as you attempt to make progress and advance in life. God says DELETE THEM. Some things (and people) happened in your life. They were appropriate for the time. But their time to be in your life has expired. Now it is dead weight; old manna; old wine; meaningless rituals; sentimental allegiances; historical bondages; relationships that are based on retired obligations, but you’re holding on to them because of fear and low self-esteem. God says it’s time to DELETE THEM. Something things are not in and of themselves ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. As a matter of fact they were good. They served a purpose. They may have even been a blessing. God may have even been in it! However, God has put His finger on them and for reasons within the realm of His sovereignty and providence, He has said they must go, their time is up. But you’re whining, lamenting, bemoaning, rationalizing and justifying holding on because, in this instance the truth is, it’s more about God’s Hand and not His Face. God says it’s time to HIT THE DELETE BUTTON.

God wants to do something NEW in, with, through and for you THIS YEAR and beyond. But you are not going to see it, experience it and get it, unless you are fully prepared and committed to His will to “BLOCK AND DELETE” as He leads. Don’t make the mistake of “Blocking and Deleting” the Move of God in your life because you would not “block and delete” that which is no longer conducive to the life and life more abundantly that He wants to give you.
SO, who and/or what do you have to “BLOCK AND DELETE”????

Are You Humble Enough To Be Blessed?

“And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed.” – Hebs. 7:7, NLT

Last Friday evening, Nov. 4, 2016, I was graced with a surprise Pastoral Anniversary Celebration by the Covenant Disciples of The International Good News Fellowship, Inc – the church I have been granted the honor of planting and subsequently shepherding along with my wife, Pastor Patricia K Butler. This was the first time in the 16 year history of our church that this kind of celebration took place. Let me cut to the chase. The reason it took so long was because primarily I was standing in the way. There had been times before when the saints attempted to be a blessing to me in this fashion, but I would always shut it down. I would shut it down because 1) I have convictions about the attention being on the Person of Jesus and NOT the personality of the pastor(s), 2) I did not want to jeopardize our commitment to do the best that we can to practice good stewardship and 3) growing up in church I have been exposed to these events and seen how all too often they can present some interesting challenges. Hence, I did not want anyone subjected to that because they were trying to be a blessing to me. And quite frankly, had I known what the people of God were up to, again, I would have shut it down. However, God had something else in mind. Therefore, He empowered the saints to pull off this surprise without a hitch. I WAS GENUINELY SHOCKED WHEN I WALKED IN THAT ROOM LAST FRIDAY! It was an incredibly blessed event, and I will always be ever so grateful to The International Good News Fellowship, my wife and children and our family and friends that came to celebrate with me.

As the week following the event began to progress, God began to deal with me. He showed me the event had to take place for two reasons. First, the people of God needed to be given the chance to minister to me in a way that would bless them. Often times as leaders in the Kingdom, we have convictions about abusing the people. These convictions are good and noble and appropriate when they do not interfere with Kingdom dynamics of reciprocity. Sometimes, the people you give to must be afforded the opportunity to give back to you, especially when you are their ministry leader. This brings us to the second reason. God used this event to confront, challenge and correct a deep-seated spirit of pride I had, which was religious, self-righteousness that prevented me from humbling myself enough to receive from others. He spoke this to my heart this past Monday. The next day I came across the verse above in my daily reading and that clinched it. I was blocking people from blessing me and subsequently being blessed because I WAS TOO PROUD to make myself vulnerable enough to receive from them.

I learned (and I’m learning) a few things from this. First, pride is a spirit with multiple personalities. We have to be ever vigilant in prayer, reading God’s Word, and obedient to the spiritual disciplines that are Biblically-based and directed so that we will not be influenced and controlled by it. IT IS A DANGEROUS SPIRIT. If you don’t believe it, ask Lucifer! You could be influenced by it with your wonderful, spiritual self and not even know it!! Second, there are certain levels of blessing we hinder God from bringing us to because we are TOO PROUD to receive. Deep down, subconsciously, we don’t want to let the giver have the power by receiving from them. This is so anti-God. If you think about it, you can’t even have a relationship with God without initially covering this base. You have to be humble enough to accept God’s GIFT of Jesus Christ GIVEN to us as THEE ONLY WAY OF SALVATION AND SUBSEQUENTLY RELATING TO GOD. And that principle of humbly receiving continues throughout the rest of our walk with Him.

So, examine yourself. And let me ask you, are you HUMBLE enough to make yourself vulnerable to whomever and whatever God wants to use to bless you? If not, you could be hindering one of the greatest blessings you’ve ever seen in your life.

Humbly Submitted With Love,
Pastor Darren E Butler, Sr