Entries Tagged 'Faith'

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How Can This Be? (December 20, 2021)

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 3:05 PM
Zechariah and Mary both asked the question we often ask of God: “How can this be?” As we think about the Spirit’s work, we understand better the answer for both them and for us.

Being in THE Kingdom is Greater than Our Present Kingdom

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:34 AM
This is disturbing:

How sad that just 13% of white Evangelicals say their religious belief is more important than being American. One will pass away, one will not. Hold to Christ first and, only then, with thankfulness to Him, be grateful for the freedoms we celebrate this weekend.

WandaVision's Power was in the Human, not the Superhuman

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:19 PM

What is grief, but love persevering? Disney+’s WandaVision is one of the best series I can recall gracing the small screen in decades and that question posed by the Vision (Paul Bettany) captures so much about what allows the show to be profound beyond the strictures of either of its roots: classic sitcoms and Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Spiritual Warfare

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:51 AM

I've never been very big into worrying about “Spiritual Warfare.” It is not that I don't believe in the devil, but I guess I just never thought about it all that much. Over the past year or two, that has started to change.

Lately, I've been thinking more about it, having finished Wild at Heart, which has a section dealing with spiritual warfare. Some of it really hit home — I thought, “yeah, that's exactly how I've been feeling.” I hadn't even thought about relating it to spiritual warfare, but it made sense. I've talked a bit about how I felt God leading me in a certain direction the last few weeks, and I have found this is specifically the place where “the battle” has been taking place. It might sound weird, but thoughts that really don't fit me have been in my head and I end up needing to “argue” against them. For example, I found that I keep thinking of accusations against myself or others that would seem to indicate why I should not follow the leading I've been feeling.

Oddly enough, right before I got to that section of the book was when I posted my last post on Wild at Heart wherein I questioned its usefulness. I felt a very strong urge to take a break from it, but pressed on, and that's when I was truly stunned by this section on the topic of spiritual warfare. Tonight I tried to put my thoughts down on this in a much more detailed manner than I am doing here. I gathered my ideas together, sat down to write them out — to put the puzzle together, so to speak — and all of a sudden felt unusually fatigued. It was a struggle to write down my thoughts and keep my mind straight.

Could this all be a coincidence? Sure, but I'm not so certain. Hopefully, all of you won't think I'm crazy, but I believe there is something to this. I'd be grateful for your prayers.

Wrestling with God

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:30 AM

I was reminded of Jacob's nighttime wrestling with God this week (Genesis 32.21-32). On Monday, I felt like I had one of the clearest experiences of God leading me that I've ever felt. I spent the rest of the week puzzling over the details of exactly what that meant. Why was God telling me these particulars? What should I do with them? Jacob struggled with God for a blessing; I was struggling for an understanding of how these details fit together. Being in the mostly uninterrupted quiet of the Ozarks was just where I needed to be for this.

A lot of what I would like to know remains a mystery to me. I started to doubt if I had really heard the Holy Spirit. Could it be I was just reading too much into things? No. I prayed that God would show me a sign if I was really hearing Him and not just myself. Unexpectedly, this morning's sermon was on taking the leadings of the Spirit; the topic had been picked a few weeks ago (although I had not noticed that), but our pastor had scrapped the original sermon and written a different one yesterday that hit even closer. It really seemed like a confirmation to me. As usher captain for the month of May, I was alone in the Narthex during the sermon, which was just as well, for I was overcome by what I was hearing.

Other things have stood out in the last few days. Having finished a few novels (the Da Vinci Code, Silenced, the Remnant and Armageddon) in the last few weeks, I decided to return to a non-fiction piece I had barely started last year and had never made it back to: Philip Yancey's Rumors of Another World. Yancey always has something good to say, but today I was taken aback by what I found on the pages directly following where I had stopped so many months ago. It all fit into the pattern of what I thought God was telling me. A few sentences were eerily almost word-for-word what I had planned to jot down as I organized all of my thoughts while in the Ozarks this week.

I still don't know what to do with this information, but I know I need to keep listening.

Why jtr is Not a Christian

And Maybe I'm Not Either

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:53 PM

My friend John-Thomas wants to enter the ministry. He also claims he is not a Christian. What's that all about? This post of his should be read by every American believer (my international friends may find it an interesting read too). He does a good job of swiping at some problems in the American church, particularly our failure as Evangelicals to avoid intertwining ourselves with the Republican party to the point, as he puts it, that we lately have been resolving to be “knowing nothing but George W. Bush and him re-elected.”

This isn't a question of whether President Bush is a good president or not. It is a question of the purpose of the church. Should the church worry about politicized issues such as abortion, euthanasia, poverty, and so on? By all means! But, we ought not let our social concerns, and especially our partisan concerns, override our calling to preach the Gospel. I am loyal to Christ first, my family second, my country third and my party last; it is only a means to an end and we should not let it be anything more than that. If we aren't careful, the American church will simply have the mainlines supporting liberal politics faced off against the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists supporting conservative or neo-conservative politics and no one actually changing lives and declaring the Good News effectively.

I'm not going to spoil his whole post, so go read it to find out about the stuff about not being a Christian.

Job Should Have Talked to Lewis

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:58 AM
“The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.”
—C.S. Lewis

That's the concise way to look at the problem of pain and evil. Things like this are all in the way we look at them. Usually, when addressing the problem of evil, we start from “why should bad things happen to good people,” which is somewhat problematic. We ought to ask why we should not begin with the inverse: “why should good things happen to bad people?” Now, I know a many people I consider really good, nice people, but at the same time, I know that none of us is good when placed in comparison to the ultimate touchstone: God.

Christians should neither spend all their time listening to readings of Jonathan Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, nor should we become convinced that we deserve good. Jesus says His way will be hard. He also tells us that His yoke is easy. Both are true. Life does not get any easier when one believes in Jesus in many ways, but at the same time, to know that there is a future hope makes all the difference. We are given a center to our life; our compass no longer simply spins around in no particular direction.

“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.”

It is all very much a paradox. Lewis reminds us not to start telling everyone how much consultation faith always is. It is not. Things still hurt. Loved ones still die and leave us feeling their absence. The existence of an all powerful God only makes it more painful, since we know that God could intervene. We have that hope that His plans will work out in the future, but we are still stuck with both feet in the present. On the other hand, sometimes we don't need to be made to feel better so much as just to know that God has been there on the same journey we are on — and He has.

“[Jesus] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
—Philippians 2.7-8 (NIV)

As I noted in my Good Friday meditation, this is only scratching the surface. Jesus not only walked the same Earth, felt the same feelings and then died a horrid death, but He also took upon our sins and was forsaken from the Father. When we feel pain, we only feel a tidbit of the pain of Jesus. This may not make everything easier, but it puts things into perspective.

So long as I am on this earth, not everything will make sense. That's where faith comes in. I have faith that God is a perfect God, and therefore know that I deserve nothing. More importantly, I have faith that God loves me anyway, even if I cannot always understand why everything happens the way it does. As Karl Barth said when asked to summarize his theology: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Pray Believing!

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:09 AM

This thread at SCF was exactly what I needed to read tonight, especially Kevin's post. He said his new motto is “Pray Believing!” and that reminded me how often I fail to do just that.

When praying, I often find myself saying “Lord, if this is possible…” But wait a second, if I have faith, why am I saying if this is possible? So I correct myself, it is possible, after all, all things are possible for God.

Yet the problem is not over just yet. Then I resort to what Kevin called a “timid 'well, I guess if you want to do it, God, it would be okay, but I understand if you don't' prayer.” I have tried in the past to remind myself of Matthew 17:20, but all too often I find that I don't keep this verse's lesson in mind.
“For most assuredly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Kevin quoted the similar verse Mark 11:22-23 and that too is worth marking in my brain. There are things I have been praying about that I am convinced are things God has led me to pursue. If I am convinced of this, why do I always prefix my requests with if's? If I am not even confident in asking, I certainly do not have the mustard seed faith to move a mountain; Jesus' example is one of confidently asking for that which one believes to be God's will. While I could certainly be wrong about where God is leading me, I should trust that God will show me that, if need be, and instead focus on praying with the confidence that He has led me to seek this path.

It is simple enough to say that. Now I must try to live it. I need to “Pray Believing!”


By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:39 AM

Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went early, while it was still dark, to the tomb, and saw the stone taken away from the tomb. Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid him!”

Therefore Peter and the other disciple went out, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran together. The other disciple outran Peter, and came to the tomb first. Stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths lying, yet he didn’t enter in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying, and the cloth that had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. So then the other disciple who came first to the tomb also entered in, and he saw and believed. For as yet they didn’t know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

But Mary was standing outside at the tomb weeping. So, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. They told her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him.”

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, and didn’t know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him, “Rhabbouni!” which is to say, “Teacher!” Jesus said to her, “Don’t touch me, for I haven’t yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers, and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
—John 20:1-17
He is risen indeed!

Were You There?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:39 AM

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

(Traditional African-American Spiritual)
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