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On the Fourth Day of Christmas

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:52 AM

I've often wondered something: many of our “Christmas decorations” these days are snowmen and snowflakes, so why do we take those down now — just days after the start of winter — and leave the nights so dark? For that matter, this is only the fourth day of Christmas. If you've been already contemplating taking down your decorations in general, why not pause for a few days and actually enjoy them as we bask in the glow of what we have just been celebrating?

A few years ago, I wrote a post questioning why people take down their Christmas decorations so quickly and as I already see the holiday festivities winding down, I again find myself wondering why more people don't observe the Twelve Days of Christmas. I'm not sure about you, but usually the lead up to Christmas is so hectic I find its hard to really stop, reflect and enjoy. Instead of going and grabbing the boxes to put decorations away this weekend, why not sit by the tree, with the lights glowing beautifully, and spend some time in awe at the Light that came into the world the first Christmas morning?

Apple Pay Use Predicted to Rise

By Tim Butler | Posted at 9:04 AM

MacRumors reports:

Juniper Research argued that customer dissatisfaction at the slower speeds of chip-and-PIN card transactions will further increase the adoption of smartphone-based payments, an area currently dominated by Apple Pay.

Apple Pay is simply a better experience than chip-and-PIN or chip-and-sign transactions from beginning to end. It is much faster to wave your phone over the reader than to pull out your credit card, insert it into a slot and wait for 10 seconds or so. You also have to do some additional step far less frequently. On top of that, at places like Walgreens, where you can put your loyalty card in Apple Pay, too, it not only is faster to pay, it also saves you from having to carry the ever increasing mountain of loyalty cards.

Recalibrated

By Tim Butler | Posted at 10:00 AM

In this message, we turn to Luke 17:11–17:19 to see how God recalibrates our focus in order that we can see what is truly important.

The Unfair God

By Tim Butler | Posted at 9:00 AM

I had the blessing of delivering this message reflecting on God's very different way of “doing business” from our own on February 12, 2017. The text of the sermon is from Matthew 20:1-16.

Have the Mind of Christmas

By Tim Butler | Posted at 8:00 AM

As we begin 2017, we shouldn't lose sight of the real point of the Christmas season we are just departing from. What is the “Mind of Christmas”? Paul speaks about it in Philippians 2:1–2:11.

The Purloined Prophecy

By Tim Butler | Posted at 9:00 AM

On October 16, 2016, I shared a message from John 12:27–12:36 at Grace PCA. We reflected on how our Savior rescues us from our blindness and brings us into the truth.

Road Work Ahead

Called to Work by the Power of the One Who Saves Us

By Tim Butler | Posted at 10:00 AM

I preached on Philippians 2:12–2:16 at Grace PCA over Memorial Day weekend. We often look at the first part of Philippians 2, where we find Paul's beautiful description of Jesus's incarnation and sacrifice for us, but what does it mean when Paul follows those familiar words with a call to work out our salvation in fear and trembling? It means there is road work ahead in our lives as Christ transforms us to be more like him.

Limiting the All Writs Act

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:31 PM

A very encouraging ruling today in New York concerning the All Writs Act and the government's desire to force Apple to sabotage its security model:

“Apple is not doing anything to keep law enforcement agents from conducting their investigation. Apple has not conspired with [the defendant] to make the data on his device inaccessible,’’ the judge wrote. “The government’s complaint is precisely that Apple is doing nothing at all.”

The judge also offered an opinion, which I believe is correct, on why the government would try to accomplish this through the courts rather than through new legislation:

“It is also clear that the government has made the considered decision that it is better off securing such crypto-legislative authority from the courts…rather than taking the chance that open legislative debate might produce a result less to its liking,” he wrote.

I fear legislation could easily pass in our current political climate that values security more than liberty, but it would at least be more challenging than trying to move this through the courts further away from the spotlight.

Why Anyone Who Loves Freedom Needs to Support Apple

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:52 PM

I tweeted this article about the severe implications of the government's request for a backdoor in Apple's products and included the comment “Imagine the 1st missionary killed in a hostile land, found via an FBI mandated backdoor. This is why Apple is right.” A friend of mine asked me on Facebook why it is so crucial Apple not be forced to create a system that would allow the unlocking of the San Bernardino terror suspect's phone. I want to answer my friend's question by exploring two different parts of the problem.

To understand where this all starts, it starts with Apple creating an encryption system that they did not have the key to unlock. After the revelations about the NSA that Edward Snowden released, Apple created such a system for a very simple reason: it became clear that the government intended to vastly exceed its constitutional surveillance powers and the only way a company like Apple could avoid becoming a collaborator was to remove itself from the key equation so that it genuinely could not access customer data. If a company has the key, the government can demand the key not only to see what a terrorist has on his or her phone, but also for other, less desirable searches like the warrantless, broad data collection the NSA has been doing over the last decade. Worse, when the government utilizes these unconstitutional powers, it imposes gag orders on the companies it interacts with so they cannot even say anything about what is happening.

It bears repeating: while there is broad support for breaking into a terrorist's phone, the only way Apple can legally avoid being made a tool for the government against all of us, not just terrorists, is to create a product that does not have a backdoor. So, Apple did the logical thing: it created a product without any backdoors. Apple is now being asked not just to “unlock” its phone, but to create a new version of its software that has an intentionally broken security system. If it exists, even if it were installed on only this one phone, we will be only a few secret FISA orders away from it being installed on thousands or millions of phones. If an iOS variant that creates a vulnerability exists, the NSA can just contact Apple six months from now and order that same backdoor be included in every iOS device the next time a software update goes out. And, it could gag Apple so that the company could not warn anyone.

Bound for True Comfort

A Restored People are Comforted and Become the Comforters

By Tim Butler | Posted at 5:00 PM

I continued the homily series “Bound” with a message from Isaiah 40:1-9. As we contemplate the Servant, we find the comfort of God's salvation for his people and a call to provide news of that comfort to others.

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