Breathing, Being and Benedictions

Breathing, Being and Benedictions by Kevin Butler   After my Korner in June, some people were hoping to hear my plan for what I’ll be doing next. Here it is: Breathing. I want to pull back from a quarter-century of deadlines and just breathe for a bit. I want to concentrate on “being” more than doing. In April, I was immensely blessed to participate in a “Biblical Imagination” conference led by singer, author and scholar Michael Card. He has produced commentaries and musical albums based on the Gospels of Luke and Mark, and this latest conference reviewed his work in Matthew. The timing of this conference on the Gospel of Matthew was perfect. Michael Card sees “identity” as a huge focus for the apostle. Who are we in the eyes of God and others? Our last exercise for the two-day gathering was for each of us to re-write the Beatitudes from a personal perspective. As I was inspired and wrote “my” Beatitudes, I was struck at the progression that will soon hit me in real life—that of being an editor, a former editor, then just me.   Blessed is the “lone wolf,” only-paid-staff editor who has a lot of people to thank for a 25-year run, knowing that there’s NO WAY he could have done it “alone”—for his is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed is this editor who mourns for not always giving credit to others (or God)—for he shall be comforted. Blessed is the editor who gives thanks and gives it up and gives it over to others—for he shall inherit the earth. Blessed is the former editor who lays down the title and the position and recognition and deadlines to seek God—for he shall be filled. Blessed is the former editor who plans to give of himself to others instead of expecting or demanding of others—for he shall be shown mercy. Blessed am I when I have one focus and one purpose and one motive: to give God the glory—for I shall see God. Blessed am I when I teach others this way of life, guiding them to peace—for I shall be called a son of God. Blessed am I when my...

More Than Just An Editor

More Than Just An Editor

May 23, 2014

More Than Just An Editor by Kevin Butler   Before coming here to the SDB Center, I had the privilege of working in a number of different occupations. Each summer during high school and college I was employed at a local telephone company, working my way up from trimming branches off the lines to installing new phones. After college I got security clearance to work at a regional computer center for GE’s Aerospace and Defense Division. Deciding that the big company was a bit too impersonal, I went back to the little phone company and tried my hand at sales. (Didn’t do so well.) Next came Radio Shack, where I got into store management and won a sales contest to Acapulco. The “call” to ministry had been tugging at my heart for years, so we left everything and everybody we knew and went off to seminary. I continued to work at a Radio Shack near the school, then did campus maintenance, then got a dream job being in charge of the audio-visual equipment for the seminary library and classrooms. Following seminary I accepted the call to pastor our new church in Madison, Wis. In an attempt to promote our church, I recorded a series of short Bible commentaries for the local Christian radio station. Not long after, I wound up using my college radio experience and worked there as a part-time announcer, mostly Sunday mornings—allowing the other staff members to go to their churches.   My “Walter Mitty” experience of different careers got enhanced when it came to creating and performing the Tract Council presentation at Conference. Wanting to convey our information in an entertaining and memorable way, I got to play the role of a game show host (several times with different vintage games), TV newscaster, talk show host, lawyer and detective. “Hats off” to the TCC members who played along in those skits, plus a string of cameo guests including Jim Skaggs, Paul Manuel and the recurring role of “Barbie Dull” played by Cheri Appel. Thanks so much!   Another facet to this communication ministry involved many meetings and much travel. I was blessed to be on the ground floor of the...

Thankful, or Taken for granted?

Thankful, or Taken for granted? By Kevin Butler   As the calendar pages flip quickly toward the end of June, I’ve received a number of notes and e-mails thanking me for serving as editor. Many have said that they will miss reading this page. I’ve been humbled by how these words have made an impact. Some readers have used these “Korners” as devotionals at local gatherings and Bible studies, others have been collected and re-read, and one “clever” person even snuck some of my just-published words into a prayer at a family dinner—where I was a guest. Speaking of prayer, mine is one of thanksgiving to God for this ministry opportunity and platform. May the ongoing words shared in the Recorder continue to minister far beyond our denomination and years. Here’s a Korner from a dozen years ago. The title is not about me, but the Sabbath.     Receiving a thank-you note in the mail always gives me a boost. It’s a thoughtful gesture from a grateful person. During this spring’s Resurrection season, I had the opportunity to do a dramatic reading at the Milton church. One church member was so moved emotionally and spiritually that he sent me a thank-you card to express those feelings. I was encouraged to know that the Lord had provided a blessing through my efforts. I got two more cards this week. One was a belated thanks for a Christmas gift. (Hey, I just mailed a similar note of my own a couple of weeks ago.) The other expression came in the form of a “store-bought” card, all the way from Arizona. I had called an older gentleman who winters out there after hearing that his usual springtime return to Wisconsin had to be postponed due to a diabetes-related operation. Our phone conversation lasted less than 10 minutes, but when I opened that lovely American Greetings card, you would have thought that I had spent several days in person at his bedside. He and his wife were so grateful and thankful to hear from a friend.   God “wrote” into Creation a wondrous, weekly gift: the Sabbath. Do we express our thanks for His faithfulness? Or are...

Some Things I Will Miss

Some Things I Will Miss

Mar 21, 2014

Some Things I Will Miss by Kevin Butler The reminiscing continues as my June 30 end date looms.   While I probably won’t regret giving up the constant deadlines and myriad of Conference responsibilities, I will certainly miss the people. I’ve enjoyed some good relationships with Center employees, with fellow members of the Coordinating Leadership Team (other execs), the General Council, and so many members of our local SDB churches. My biggest assistance came from members of the American Sabbath Tract and Communication Council, the agency of the Conference that hired me. During my first few years, Neil Aiken chaired the TCC. The next 20 years we were under the steady and loyal leadership of Joel Osborn. Thanks, guys! The Tract Council consists of at-large members elected by the Conference, plus appointed committees to work on media, publications, Sabbath promotion and the Sabbath Recorder. We have been blessed with top-notch people. I am so grateful for the outstanding work of the Sabbath Recorder Committees. Myrna Cox chaired the group comprised of members from our Colorado churches in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. The committee then moved to the Pacific Northwest with Dave and Doreen Davis taking the reins. Members came from Seattle, Portland and Centralia. Jean Jorgensen then said ‘yes’ to chairing the committee of folks from Nortonville, Kan., and North Loup, Neb. And the most recent committee was from the southeast (Atlanta area and Paint Rock, Ala.) with another set of married co-chairs, Jeff and Debbie Hargett. Each of these committees reviewed and critiqued the past year’s issues, then would forge ahead to propose new themes and suggest SDB writers. In the latter years, committee members did much of the soliciting and dealt with the deadlines. Did we always follow the planned calendar? “Life” would creep in on the writers and I’d have to scramble to come up with different features. Sometimes, “life” (and death) would descend on the world at large and we would need to respond. The first and second Gulf Wars preempted our original schedule. We ran a whole tribute—and surprise—issue for Historian Don Sanford at his retirement, thankfully not waiting until after his passing. One more unplanned issue bears...

A confirmation in the early years

A confirmation in the early years

Feb 21, 2014

A confirmation in the early years by Kevin Butler Uh-oh. The reminiscing begins as we head toward my stepping down in June…           It’s kind of exciting—and embarrassing—to look back at my first SR issue, April of 1989. It took me three months to prepare that initial monthly installment, all the while learning the ropes of this multi-faceted position. (If “all” I had to do was the Recorder, wow…) My theme for that April issue was “Change.” And that was the first change: a move to monthly themes or topics. I changed some of the artwork, added some new departments (like “SR Almanac,” “Pastor Profile,” the short-lived “From the Heart,” and the infamous “Kevin’s Korner”). Probably the best thing I can say about that first issue is that I dedicated it to my Dad. The pages were busy and I had a lot to learn. Would I hang in there to make a go of this? Preceding this time in my life was a succession of 3-year cycles. Transferring in as a sophomore, I was at Houghton College for three years. Janet and I got married after graduation that summer, and I was in the business world for three years. A call to ministry sent us to seminary for another three. And I was privileged to pastor at the Madison, Wis., church for three years before coming to the SDB Center. So after a trio of years working here at the Conference office, I began to wonder if this was what I should continue to do. I asked my board if I could embark on an “Editor’s Retreat” to do some soul-searching. My first stop was Newport, Rhode Island, site of our first SDB Church in America. I fasted and prayed, visiting the old church and graveyard, and imagining what life was like for those early settlers in the 1600s. Then, driving through a heavy early-April snowstorm, I headed up the coast of Maine. Still seeking God’s will and direction, I had a powerful encounter with Him at the Pemaquid Point lighthouse—a time of true revelation of His Presence. He had shown me much over those several days, but I still...

Mind Your Markers

Mind Your Markers

Jan 22, 2014

Mind your markers by Kevin Butler   Elizabeth Akers Allen wrote this in 1860: “Backward, turn backward, O time in your flight, Make me a child again just for tonight. Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years! I am so weary of toil and of tears.”   It’s comforting to recall happier times of childhood. But living in the past can become troublesome when it’s simply an escape from your current work and being involved in the present. If only there were some “markers” to reflect on to give us strength for today… Moses charged the Israelites to remember such events as he was preparing to transfer his leadership, and the throngs were about to enter the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 8:1-3, Moses carefully guided the people toward exactly what they were to remember. In fact, that command to “remember” could be translated “mark.” (Think of a chart or a map where certain facts or events are marked and riveted into your memory.) “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years” verse 2 says. Going on, the remembering or marking is for specific purposes: • “to humble you” • “to test you in order to know what was in your heart” • “to teach you that man does not live on bread alone”   Pride We need to learn the same lessons today. David Rhodes once said that “Pride is the dandelion of the soul. Its root goes deep; only a little left behind sprouts again. Its seeds lodge in the tiniest encouraging cracks. And it flourishes in good soil. The danger of pride is that it feeds on goodness.” Are we humble?   What’s in our heart? In his book Fan the Flame, Joe Stowell writes, “The ‘Heart’ is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as ‘the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity,’ ‘the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will.’ And it’s ‘the center of a person. The place...