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Week off!

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:17 PM

Well, I took this week off and I'm already feeling much better. I got enough of the work of my current clients done that I haven't needed to take on any projects this week — something I'm very happy about. If it wasn't for the fact that I can't keep away from CNN, it would be a completely relaxing week.

I'm working on an interesting project at the moment that will cause some more changes to beyond the (formerly unannounced) ability to view messages by topic, but I'm not quite ready to mention what it is yet. It'll be pretty neat though, I think. More on that later…

So far, so good...

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:28 AM

Well, we've been in Iraq for a little over 48 hours now and it seems like all is going well. It was especially nice to see the peoples of southern Iraq welcoming the American troops. I hope they spread the word that we're nice guys so that this type of reception continues!

Now, if we can only figure out what to do with France. If you didn't catch it, it seems that Jacques Chirac has announced that France will not cooperate with the effort to rebuild Iraq if we and the Brits help lead that project. Apparently they fear that would legitimize our attacks on Iraq. Makes sense: they didn't want us to “hurt” Iraq… so now they are going to join in and hurt Iraq for us.

President Bush Speaks, War Begins

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:35 PM

Apparently, intelligence gave indication of where they thought Saddam Hussein was and tonight's attack was an “attack of opportunity” to try to “decapitate” the regime. It is not clear when the full attack will begin.

UPDATE: 12-24 cruise missiles were used in the initial attack.

Ironically as the initial follies are being exchanged, thunder crashes across the sky out my window. I guess over in Iraq a much more horrible sound now erupts across their skies. It seems to be a sobering reminder of what we have now embarked upon.

I sincerely hope and pray this war ends as suddenly as it begins. I worry it won't.


By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:01 AM
Everything will pretty much stay the same, save perhaps some more graphics changes, etc., and the old address will indefinately forward to this new site since is my company's domain. I think I can even get blogrolling to work properly without anyone having to modify their blog roll. However, if you are so inclinded, the new info for your blogroll is:
So what do you think of the new name? Catchy? Stupid? A waste of a good $15? Feel free to take the opportunity to be the first poster on :-)

Sin and the Church

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:59 AM

I think he is right that we shouldn't hate certain people or turn them away from the church. But I also think that does not mean that the church should simply accept people unrepentantly sinning. In that mind, I posted the following comment (read his post first so that it makes sense). You'll also find some closing thoughts after my comment.

I agree too, insofar as I would agree concerning any sin. I also agree with Steward and Le Renard. I think if someone is embezzling money, the church should confront him in the manor Jesus lays out (first by one person, then by the elders, then by the whole congregation [Matthew 18:15-17]). Would you agree? Likewise, I think a homosexual should be confronted.

It's not so much “homosexualness” that should be confronted, but whether they act on that desire. If they do, that's just as wrong as a hetrosexual acting on that desire out side of wedlock (and vise versa). For example, as a single person it would be just as wrong if I had a physical relationship with some girl as it is for a homosexual person to have such a relationship with their “partner.”

It isn't that they should be eternally condemned for their feelings — for better or worse, they have them, just like the hetrosexual does. BUT, they also need to try to control those feelings. It is easy to fall into lustful activities, but prayer and the Spirit help to avoid them. As Paul writes, we will not ever be tempted more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Certainly I sin. I sin lots. I sin everyday. But I also try to repent and realize these are things I don't want to do again. I don't say that to say I am good. Certainly, I'm terrible about this. I don't like stopping sinning and I'm bad about repentence too. But, I still think it is important even if I don't always want to.

The point is, as Paul says we should not sin so that “grace may increase” (Romans 6:1). Many of Paul's arguments were about people taking advantage of grace to sin.

Obviously, we are all in sin, but that doesn't mean that we should condone habitual sinning of a particular type. If someone is in a gay relationship and they are Christian, that means they are willingly admitting that they don't mind disobeying God's Holy Spirit by defiling the Temple of God (that is our body — 1 Corinthians 6:19).

I think many churches take the wrong tact at dealing with this, but as I said, Jesus did note that we should address those in sin. He was often around the tax collectors and prostitutes. He loved them, but He didn't say “just keep up the status quo.” He told them to “go and sin no more.” I can't think of the verse at the moment, but Paul also addresses this. We are suppose to love our neighbors, you are right, but we are also suppose to encourage people to follow God's will. In that respect, we should help people escape their lifestyle, so to speak, not just look the other way. Love doesn't mean appeasement, it means considering what is best for the person. It would not be love to blindly act as if there is nothing wrong with unrepentant sinning any more than it would be love not to scold a child for playing on the edge of a cliff. Maybe they won't appreciate being told “no, don't do that,” but it would be much more loving than simply watching as they go over the edge.

Likewise, considering the comment about that pastor who was asked to leave because of his gay lifestyle, I would have to agree with the decision, although perhaps the method wasn't good. If a pastor is robbing banks, we would ask him to step down. If a pastor was known to make vicious lies to the congregation, we would ask him to step down. If the pastor padded his his pockets as he took the offering plates from the ushers, we would ask him to step down. If the pastor often had his girlfriends stay over night, wouldn't we ask him to step down? A pastor should help lead the congregation away from sin. That's not to say they aren't human, but certainly a pastor who is unrepentant about sin that he is called on should be questioned whether his heart is really seeking God.

Now, if the pastor says “I have this problem, will people help me stop”… that is a different story. IIRC, in one of your previous posts you noted how in such a case, the congregation reacted in a most unforgiving way. But if the pastor says “everyone sins, so do I and this is my sin, live with it…” that doesn't seem like a Christian attitude. Galations 5:16-25 seems key here.

Anyway, I could say lots more, but I think you get the point. The church should never seek to hurt or hate anyone. But I do think that “love the sinner, hate the sin” can be justified.

It is my opinion that this is an area critical to the church today. For the most part there are two visible groups. We either have those that wish to adopt a laissez faire attitude toward morality, perhaps even going further and encouraging rebellion against Biblical morality and we have people that consider them above sinners and thus wish to push themselves away from those “sinners.”

I think however, many (most?) Christians take a middle ground, rejecting the sin, but not staying away from bringing the love of Jesus to these people. Really, without the Holy Spirit, why should we even expect to behave in the way that the Bible says? I think these are also the people that will make an effort to help the person on a wayward course to change their heading once they have received the Spirit. It would be a disservice to them and God to bring them the Gospel and then leave them in their sin without any help. This is the tough part, but it is part of showing Christian love.

Anyway, enough with my soap box. Does anyone else have thoughts?

Rage Against Raging Cow

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:24 AM

I Support The Raging Cow BoycottThis is just plain stupid and a case of “astroturfing” at its worst. As such, while I probably wouldn't be that interested in Raging Cow anyway, I am still happy to officially mark myself as a member of the bloggers against Raging Cow. Let's let Dr. Pepper know its wrong to attempt to create an artificial grassroots community, especially by buying off blogs, known to be, as Doc Searls noted, an escape from this kind of stuff.


By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:22 AM

SCO, who was Caldera, who bought SCO (confused?), has decided that it has received over $1 billion in damages from IBM and now wants Big Blue to show the money. It seems to me that this is just a wild last ditched effort by a has-been Linux distributor (at one point, Caldera was the second largest distributor) to make some money. You can read my entire thoughts on this at Open for Business.

Getting Highly Effective

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:26 AM

Covey is the author of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and one of Time's 25 most influential people. He was really impressive. Never during the lecture did you get the impression that Dr. Covey was speaking “down” to the audience — in some ways it seemed almost like a 1-on-1 conversation.

He emphasized integrating one's life and setting a personal missions statement. To set goals and stick to them. To not compromise when working with others but listen to each other until you can “synergize” instead. To “live, love, learn, and leave a legacy.” Lots of good stuff in there, to be sure.

The jist of his message breaks down to these four points which I thought were excellent:
  1. Body: Assume you've just had a heart attack and eat and live accordingly.
  2. Mind: Assume your career has a two year “half life” and act accordingly.
  3. Heart: Assume that everything you say about anyone is heard by them, and speak accordingly.
  4. Spirit: Assume you have a 1-on-1 quarterly discussion with your Creator, and live accordingly.

All of this sounds fairly simple, but a heathy dose of common sense is perhaps what this nation needs. It seems that one grade school back east that adopted Covey's program saw their standardized test results go from the 62 percentile (IIRC) to the 92 percentile in just 18 months.

Dr. Covey made some really good points. For example, on leadership, he noted that leadership isn't a position, it's a way of working with people. Management is a position. Leadership is “showing people their value so that they feel motivated to live up to it.” He noted that some of the greatest leaders of all time didn't even have an official title or position. How true.

I just happened to get a third row seat in the auditorium it was in, which gave me the opportunity to walk up and meet Dr. Covey afterwards. I even got a signed program! :-)

Anyway, it is getting late and I'm tired, but I wanted to write a little something about the event. While most of his lectures, I think, are somewhat focused on the business management world, I really don't see any reason why you shouldn't attend if you get the opportunity, even if you aren't in that sector.

World Prayer Team Request

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:04 PM

The World Prayer Center is calling all Christians worldwide to a Worldwide Day of Prayer on Monday, March 3, 2003.

Ted Haggard, President of The World Prayer Team, says his office has been flooded with messages from people all over the world saying that God is impressing upon them to prepare to pray on 03-03-03. “These believers do not know one another, nor are they connected to one another. They do not know that the others are saying the same thing. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is speaking to His church, and He is calling His people to pray,” says Haggard.

“As these reports began to come in, we sensed in our hearts that God wants us to promote a huge outpouring of prayer on this special date. Many believe there is significance to this date because of its numerical sequence (03-03-03) which reminds many Christians of the Trinity. Moreover, the Holy Spirit has highlighted Jeremiah 33:3 (again, three 3's) as our call to action, 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know,'” says Haggard.

The magnitude of this date is not lost on the non-Christian world as well. The Global Consciousness movement (New Age) has for years been planning a worldwide “Largest ever experiment into global consciousness” to take place on 03-03-03. Their effort is slated to begin at 3:33am (Fiji local time), on the 3rd day of the 3rd month of the 3rd millennium. It has gained widespread notoriety in New Age circles.

Should this not be enough to cause Christians to pray, the significance of 03-03-03 becomes even more pressing as America could launch a war with Iraq at about that very hour, against a leader, Saddam Hussein, who has only recently embraced Islam as a way of gaining support from the Islamic world. Such was not the case with the first Gulf War. According to the Islamic calendar, March 3, 2003 is the eve of the Islamic New Year (Islamic year 1424 begins March 4, 2003). It is also the last day of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, when pilgrims are encouraged to make a sacrifice (The Festival of Sacrifice or Eid al-Adha). The key verse in the Qu' Ran about this festival to take place this year on March 3, 2003 is, “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life or my death, are all of Allah?” This date therefore holds great significance to the Islamic world.

While all of this is beneath the radars of the secular news media, it is clear to many Christian leaders that the world is on the brink of a spiritual battle of monumental proportions. The epicenter of this struggle is the Middle East-a battle is going on for Jerusalem and Babylon (Iraq), biblical centers of spiritual light and darkness.

The World Prayer Team therefore calls on all Christian churches and individuals to set aside at least 3 minutes to pray at 3:33 PM in their time zone on 03/03/03.

PRAYER FOCUS: Pray that the armies of heaven will push back the powers of darkness in the Middle East. Pray that Saddam Hussein will leave the country before war is required to remove him from power. Pray that a spiritual shield will contain hostilities within the Iraqi borders (if war cannot be avoided), such that it doesn't spill over to the entire Islamic world. Pray that weapons of mass destruction, if they are deployed on any side of the battle, will be powerless. Pray that this date, rather than being a focal point of darkness, will be overwhelmed by the Light of God through the worldwide prayers of His people.


Churchianity: The Problems Within

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 9:41 PM

As a reasonably active member in my own church, I have encountered hypocrisy, those who condemn unfairly, legalism, and all the rest. Then again, for what it is worth, I see all of that stuff in secular environments too. Sadly, it seems the place that should be a safe haven dedicated to worshipping God has instead often times become a battleground.

At least in my experience, the church generally has many of the same problems as the rest of the world, because, as Paul notes, we are not perfect yet. The church is full of sinners, as those without sin do not need the church (of course, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, KJV)). I believe C.S. Lewis talked about this in Mere Christianity, although I'm not positive that is what I'm thinking about right now.

I think the thing that makes it hurt so much when things go wrong in the church is that these are suppose to be our brothers and sisters, not just the crabby bank teller or the nasty neighbor that always uses his leaf blower to put his leaves in our yard. Shouldn't those in the church be better behaved than those outside of it?

Yeah, they should. Unfortunately, it just isn't so. I've been on both ends of the problem. At times (okay, many times), my pride has caused me to push my agenda inside the church almost like a politician would in congress. It's silly — I shouldn't take so much ownership in something like that, I should simply aim to spread the Gospel. But I don't far to often, no matter how much I want to.

Likewise, I've been on the other side. Not all that long ago, a prominent person in my church (I won't name who, for the obvious reasons) attempted to use his power to push me off the committee I'm on, for one reason or another. While I didn't realize it until afterwards, it seems various small clashes had turned a friend of mine into someone with a goal to get me. As the saying goes, it isn't being paranoid if they really are out to get you.

Relatively speaking, my recently clash is barely anything compared to what many face inside the church. Still, it hurt. It hurt that I almost lost the ability to do what I feel God has lead me to do in the church. It hurt that a friend of mine, whom I had actually helped to get acquainted to the said committee when he joined, now was going after me. It hurt when a few close friends in the church didn't believe me when I asked for advice as to what to do.

But, it worked out. It doesn't always, obviously, but in my case it did. I am now working even more closely with the said person, and we've learned to get along again. To the extent that it is possible in the flesh, we have forgiven each other.

Then there is the legalism. Not only “Biblical” legalism (on stuff like taking a day of rest, tithing, etc.), but also legalism on all kinds of other things. People get mad that the carpet, which has been red since they were yay-tall, might be switched to green carpet. Oh, how terrible. Surely there is a law against changing carpet colors! Dogma forms easily. And there is the gossip. One day a family friend in the church talked to me for thirty minutes about all the terrible stuff the pastors were supposedly doing. Even if it was true, that only shows the pastors are human — certainly I've done many things I'm not particularly proud of.

This stuff isn't new either. If we consider the apostle Paul, most of his letters were written, at least in part, to put out major conflicts in the church. Even prior to that, Jesus Himself provided a plan to resolve conflict and sin in the church. Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV) says:
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. {16} But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' {17} If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

So what do we make of all of this? I think, as I said in the beginning of this piece, that it is simply the effect of taking lots of sinners, that is humans, and making them try to work and interact perfectly. It works for a while, and then the other shoe drops. We only fool ourselves to think the church is, or can be, a perfect place. Considering the importance people place on serving God, and the close proximity at which we work with each other in the Church, it is no wonder tempers often flare. We want what's best for spreading the Gospel (most of the time), and as such, if we think our way is right, we get upset when the other person won't follow along.

Still, it is my opinion that the church, the local church, is critically important, at least for me. All of its failings considered, I still feel strengthened in faith by frequent meetings with brothers and sisters in Christ. It's like a support group — it may be the “almost blind” leading the “almost blind” (to take liberties with Matthew 15:14), but hopefully through our foibles we can keep each other constantly trying to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12) towards the time when we will no longer be sinful. I may disagree with them, and we may even backstab each other occasionally, but that's just part of the condition known as “being human.” I can only imagine how much worse off I would be without them.

Really, isn't this just like a family? How many families argue, disagree, split, and so forth, often over relatively unimportant things? Every single one I can think of. I'm not saying that's ideal; it's not ideal so long as we burn people out of the Church, or worse, Christianity as a whole. It's not ideal so long as the divide between Christianity and dogma is often so wide that the term “Churchianity” has any relevance. But, the church does at least give us a glimpse at the future hope, the “blessed hope,” of Jesus' second advent.

The Church is imperfect, sinful, and way too human. But, if we admit that, it makes reaching the world much easier. It should, hopefully, make us more humble as we step off our righteous pedestal and become the light in the world and not try to be the light above it. We're not perfect, we just are made so in the eyes of God by the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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