The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

Denomination: United Methodist Church (UMC)
Organization: First United Methodist Church, Monroeville, AL

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts is minister emeritus of First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, AL, and has served United Methodist Churches in Florida and Alabama.

Dr. Butts was born and reared in Conecuh County, Alabama. He is a graduate of Pensacola Junior College and Troy University. He received his Graduate Degree in Theology at Emory University, has a Graduate Degree in Pastoral Psychology from Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical Institute in Evanston, IL, and a Doctor of Divinity from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL.

He served churches in Alabama and West Florida for 48 years, serving 4 years as a District Superintendent in the United Methodist Church. He retired from the active ministry in June 1998, and is presently Minister Emeritus of First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, Alabama. He has represented the Church at Jurisdictional, General, and World Methodist Conferences; has served on many Boards and Trustee for several church institutions. He has written for numerous periodicals, and has taught Religion, Psychology, and Ethics in several colleges. He once received the "School Bell Award" in Florida for outstanding service in the field of education.

Dr. Butts has been the featured preacher for the United Methodist series of the Protestant Radio Hour (currently known as Day 1) nearly 40 times since 1978. In November 1996, part of one of Dr. Butts' Protestant Hour sermons, "The Seasons of Life," was featured in the opening segment of the mini-series, "In Cold Blood," on CBS. Dr. Butts has appeared as a guest on 24 segments of the Day1 TV program, which was featured on The Hallmark Channel's Day1 segments on "America at Worship"  now available for viewing online at Day1.org. He has written one book, Tigers In the Dark, originally published by Abingdon Press in 1978, now in its 4th printing. He contributed a sermon to the Abingdon Press book, Oneness in Christ.

Dr. Butts has been an active leader in the Civil Rights movement since the mid-fifties. He says that one of the most inspirational events in his experience was a day spent with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shortly after Dr. King came to Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. Butts signed a petition to integrate the city buses in Mobile, Alabama in 1957. He was also a participant in the Selma March.

Dr. Butts has been a columnist for several newspapers, including The Montgomery Advertiser and The Mobile Press. He currently writes a weekly column for The Monroe Journal entitled "An Encouraging Word." His sermons are frequently featured in professional homiletical journals. He writes sermon briefs and pastoral prayers for the Abingdon Preaching Annual each year. He has contributed 25 sermons to Abingdon's sermonconnection.com. He was featured preacher for two months on Sermon Connection..

Dr. Butts is in frequent demand as a speaker on college and university campuses, and as an after-dinner speaker. Dr. Butts preaches in churches throughout the country. He has been the summer guest minister at Christ Church in New York each year since 1988. Dr. Butts was selected by Dr. M. Scott Peck to be in the first wave of leaders trained to facilitate Community Building Workshops for the Foundation for Community Encouragement.

Dr. Butts serves on the Board of Directors of Monroe County Heritage Museum and is currently Chairperson of that Board. He is an Honorary Board Member on the Alabama-West Florida Board of Pastoral Care and training. Dr. Butts is a member of the Board of Directors of Associates in Advocacy, and is currently the Chair of that Board. He is a Field Supervisor for Doctoral students for Beeson School of Theology at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama. In 2002 Dr. Butts received Citizen of the Year Award in Monroeville, Alabama. While attending the 50th Anniversary of his graduation from Garrett Biblical Institute and Northwestern University in May of 2007 he recieved the Eliza Garrett award in recognition of his service to others. He is the first Alumnus to recieve this award.

He is married to Hilda A. Tidwell, and they have two married children: Thomas Lane III, a financial planner and stock broker in Mobile, Alabama, and Rebecca Jane Coleman, who is a pharmaceutical representative in Tallahassee, Florida.

Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

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Chasing the Wind

Friday October 24, 2008
In this perplexing world where so much of life is a puzzle and many voices clamor for your attention, "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind." Listen.

Things That Change and Things That Don't

Friday October 24, 2008
Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts sermon discusses change on Day1.

On Winning the Biggest Battle of Life

Friday October 24, 2008

Good News!

Friday October 24, 2008

Forgetting and Remembering

Friday October 24, 2008

The Journey

Friday October 24, 2008

Christmas Has a Name and a Face

Friday October 24, 2008

Look Who Is Watching

Friday October 24, 2008

Dear God, Where Are You?

Friday October 24, 2008

The Superhuman Act

Friday October 24, 2008

Problems Beyond Our Power to Fix

Friday October 24, 2008

Seeing in the Dark

Friday October 24, 2008

Celebrate the Temporary

Friday October 24, 2008

The Seasons of Life

Friday October 24, 2008

Weeping With One Eye

Friday October 24, 2008
offers us the comforting knowledge that God understands when and how it hurts when our lives are shattered, and remidns us that God helps us pick up the pieces, and make something out of what is left.

The Light Never Turns Green

Friday October 24, 2008
Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts  explores diminishing impact of conventional religion and how it fails to nourish those who are hungry for love, and who crave a sense of community and calls us to create genuine communities of care.

The University of Adversity

Friday October 24, 2008
Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts reflects on the tremendous, God given, reservoir of human power and potential

Losses

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts is minister emeritus at First United Methodist Church, Monroeville, Ala. Rev. Butts explores the themes of loss found in the book of Joel.

The Failures and Successes of Love

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, minister emeritus at First United Methodist Church, Monroeville, Alabama, speaks about Luke 19:41-44 and the power of love.

A Permanent Glimpse of God

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts is minister emeritus of First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, AL.

You Are Not One of Us

Friday October 24, 2008
In his anniversary series sermon, Dr. Tom Butts says Jesus wanted lines drawn to include, not exclude. But Jesus himself, and many of his followers through history, have suffered because of their championing of this attitude. But it's worth it.

Articles by The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

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Thomas Lane Butts: What's Good about Good Friday?

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts provides insight on the meaning of Good Friday.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Divorce

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, a well-known United Methodist minister and counselor, offers practical suggestions for those who are considering divorce in these times of economic hardship.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Last Lick

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers some inspiring thoughts about one way to follow Christ's example.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: 10 Rules to Live By

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts revisits some classic "Rules to Live By" for parents.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: God Doesn't Come By Every Day

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers some wisdom regarding the promise of God's love for you.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Graduated Isn't Educated

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts has some insights for those facing facing the future after graduation day.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Even Comedians Cry

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts shines light on the reality of life behind the masks many people wear.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Mission Accomplished?

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts reflects on our individual missions in life, encouraging us to create our own mission statement.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Strangers to Ourselves

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers an encouragement word about taking responsibility in life while realizing our dependence on others.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: How Much Do You Know?

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts explores how life's demands and our expectations can affect our faith.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Freedom Is Never Cheap

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts provides a stirring reminder of real the meaning of freedom for the Independence Day holiday.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Another Aspect of Freedom

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts explores the difficulty of achieving personal freedom even in a politically free society.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word Makes a Difference

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers an inspiring post on the impact of encouragement in our lives.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Weeping with One Eye

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts explores what it means to "half care" about the pain of others -- to "weep with one eye."

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: What Would You Have Me Do Now?

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts helps us shake up our expectations regarding how to live our lives in response to God's call.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Grieving Our Losses

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts explores the common human experience of loss, and how to deal with it in community.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Adjusting to Change

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts explores the importance of developing the ability to respond creatively to inevitable changes in our lives and relationships.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Tyranny of Absolute Certainty

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts warns against the dangers of absolute certainty regarding any belief.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: When God Leaves Us Alone

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers an encouraging word to those who are dealing with feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Trying to Swallow Something That Won't Go Down

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts reflects on what to do when life gives you something too big to deal with.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Just Listen

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts tracks down the source of one of his favorite stories--about the importance of listening by Erma Bombeck.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Loneliness

Friday October 24, 2008
United Methodist pastor Dr. Thomas Lane Butts confronts two common human complaints: loneliness and depression.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Beware of Self-Pity

Friday October 24, 2008
United Methodist minister Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers a lesson in living from the life of the prophet Elijah.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Things You Can't Change, and Things You Can

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts helps us deal with the problems of life by learning to understand what we can change--and what we must accept.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Incivility

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts discusses the incivility that seems to have overtaken the cultural landscape in recent days.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: This Is It!

Friday October 24, 2008
In light of the transitory nature of life, Dr. Thomas Lane Butts encourages us to live in a meaningful, purposeful way.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: When to Ask for Help

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers some helpful counsel for those times when problems overwhelm us and we need to ask for help.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: What Is Left from the Past

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers some encouragement about how to life the rest of your life, no matter how long that might be.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: What Chippy Can Teach Us

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers some helpful guidance for those times when we get sucked into the storms of life--as Chippy the Parakeet literally did.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Never Shoot an Iguana

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers an inspiring blog about the perils of possessiveness, and the beauties of selflessness.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: If You Can Read This, Thank God

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts focuses on the gifts of reading and writing--and the continuing problem of illiteracy.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Remember God

Friday October 24, 2008
When you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, Dr. Thomas Lane Butts encourages you to remember to sincerely thank God for all the blessings in your life.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Looking for God?

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts encourages us to look for God's presence around us during the season of Advent.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Consequences of Miscommunication

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers some practical encouragement about how we communicate--and the importance of having clear and complete agreement.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Stranger at the Church Door

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts shares an experience he had with a woman who interrupted an important church meeting with a request for help.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Christmas Truce

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts recounts the amazing true story of a moment of peace in a time of war--The Christmas Truce.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Concerning Wise Men - and Women

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts reflects on the story of the Wise Ones from Matthew's Gospel, and shares a different version of the story.

Eating Apples in the Dark

Friday October 24, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts brings us a fine piece on denial and the world around us.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Prisons Without Walls

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts shares his experiences of ministering in prisons--with its unique challenges and rewards.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Personal Prisons Without Walls

Friday October 24, 2008
Following up his post last week on a unique prison program in Alabama, Dr. Thomas Lane Butts applies the principles to dealing with the personal prisons in which we find ourselves.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Help Me Make It Through the Night

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts offers some counsel for those times when anxiety keeps us sleepless--and spiritually exhausted.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Black History Month

Friday October 24, 2008
February is Black History Month, and Dr. Thomas Lane Butts explains why we need this special emphasis on knowing the story of African Americans.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Think Before You Hit

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts discusses the still common problem of family violence--often committed in the name of "godly discipline."

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Some Things Never Change

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts encourages us to break our bad communication habits and learn to express our love for others more readily and sincerely.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: WHY?

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts digs deep into the answers to one of the most potentially painful questions we humans can ask: "Why?"

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Lost and Found

Friday October 24, 2008
A lost book regained sets Dr. Thomas Lane Butts to pondering about learning and the mind, and how we can help young people grow into a meaningful life.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Looking for the Lost

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "We have all been lost at some time in our lives. We have all been down and unable to get up by ourselves, and someone reached down and picked us up. It is a humbling experience when we remember the times someone snatched off the manhole cover and came in looking for us."

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Human Hesitations

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts encourages us not to hold back. "We tend to overlook the possible value of failure. Unless it is constantly repeated, we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. "

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Longest Week

Friday October 24, 2008
As we approach Palm Sunday, Dr. Thomas Lane Butts reflects on the week that follows, Holy Week, and Christ's ultimate "tetelestai!"

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Easter for All Seasons

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "When our souls are empty and our hearts ache and we do not understand life, we walk on out to a graveyard, to a tomb that is open and empty."

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Kudzu

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts explores one of the deepest mysteries of the American South: What is kudzu good for?

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Reflections on April 15th

Friday October 24, 2008
April 15th is an important date: It's not only tax day, it's also Dr. Butts' 80th birthday! In today's post he reflects on this momentous day.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Cab Ride

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts shares a compelling story that teaches a good lesson: "We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one."

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Just a Story

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts loves to tell stories, especially those with a spiritual moral or life lesson. This time, it's just a good story.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Family Matters

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "Sometimes we discover that not all of the unhappy things that happened to us when we were young were as bad as they seemed at the time." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Family Matters, Part 2

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts shares an encouraging word about integrity--building a reputation in your family of trust and honesty.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Valedictory Address from the Past

Friday October 24, 2008
This is the season for graduates of high schools and colleges to hear what noted speakers and classmates have to say about the future. While going through some old files recently, I came upon the Valedictory address I gave at my graduation from Repton High School (a rural school in South Alabama) in 1948. If asked to address the same subject at age 80 that I addressed at age 18, I would not change anything in principle. My only observation is that tomorrow got here much, much more quickly than I could have dreamed 62 years ago.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Decision Making

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "The intensity of our struggle over decisions varies from unconscious decision making to literally agonizing over what to do.... There are some intentional steps we can take to order our lives in such a way as to save ourselves from agonizing over every decision." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Depression and Suicide

Friday October 24, 2008
"There is nothing I know that is more emotionally devastating than the death of a family member or friend by suicide. Death under any circumstance is an upsetting experience, but death by suicide leaves so many unanswered questions, even when some note of explanation is left." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Hope for a Better Past

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes: "One of the basic lessons of life, which some people never learn, is to let go of the hope for a better past.... While it is true that we are shaped by our past, we cannot change it. It is what it is. It is not going to improve. But we are more than our past." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The University of Adversity

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "Dr. Scott Peck begins his most helpful book, The Road Less Traveled, with the simple sentence: 'Life is difficult.' When I first read Dr. Peck's book, that opening sentence stopped me dead in my tracks. As much as I knew it to be true, I did not want to accept it." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: You Can Change

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "There is something in each of us which tends to make us think that whatever is happening to us right now will last forever, though rationally we may know this is not true." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Superhuman Act

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "There is no spiritual act more important or more pervasive in life than forgiveness. The Bible is filled with examples of brokeness caused by the absence of forgiveness." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Forgiving Oneself

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "When I ended last week’s column on forgiveness, I left you with one of the most difficult of all transactions of forgiveness - self-forgiveness.... Forgiving oneself is an essential ingredient of becoming a forgiven person. The failure to forgive oneself is a self-inflicted wound." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Grievance Collecting

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "Sometimes an important subject becomes like chewing gum on the sole of your shoe. It will not go away until you have given it proper time and effort. Two recent columns on ”˜Forgiveness’ have stirred several connected thoughts on the subject which beg to be expressed." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Why Should I Care?

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts suggests: "The next time you hear that someone is facing a problem, and think it does not concern you, remember that when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk."

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Whom Should We Help?

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "Whom should we help? Should we draw lines and make stipulations? If we make the decision based on 'What would Jesus do?', it does not appear that the question should turn on who they are or what they believe, but upon who we are and what we believe." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: People Who Don't Like The Way They Are

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "There are people who do not like the way they are. You may be one of them. Something happened, or did not happen, and you have constructed your life in such a way that you live with a high level of dissatisfaction." Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Heart Trouble

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Thomas Lane Butts writes, "Research suggests that personal trauma such as losing a loved one can literally break your heart, and that you can die from that broken heart. Doctors at Johns Hopkins University Hospital call the condition ”˜broken heart syndrome.’" Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: What Does a Teacher Make?

Friday October 24, 2008
Our children and young people are getting back to the classroom. Whether it is kindergarten or college, and whether they know it or not, these are the most profoundly important years of their lives. If the world ever becomes a better place in which to live, it will be primarily due to the influence of the home, the classroom and the church. Let us confine our attention to the classroom today. Class is in session.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Improvise and Survive

Friday October 24, 2008
People we count on die. Jobs we thought to be secure are lost. Life savings are lost on a deal we thought could not fail. A child brings home a load of trouble that changes his or her life, and ours. A crippling illness, a legal mistake, the betrayal of a friend - you name it - and it can happen. Yet all is not lost.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Tie a Knot and Hang On

Friday October 24, 2008
Recently, I came across the life and work of a 19th Century man whose name I had never heard before. But I tipped my hat when I met him. I want you to meet him. He was a brilliant, sensitive and tragic figure in the field of science, an Austrian chemist by the name of Ludwig Boltzmann.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Remembering the Anniversary of Tragic Events

Friday October 24, 2008
We are between the anniversaries of two tragic events in our nation: Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005) and the 9/11 terrorist attack (September 11, 2001). ... surely there must be a way to reach a helpful and healthy balance in remembering the terrible things that have happened to us nationally and personally.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Clapping with One Hand

Friday October 24, 2008
No two conditions are more universally acclaimed by society as the source of happiness than youth and wealth. If the mythology by which we live is correct, the simultaneous achievement of both should make a person ecstatically happy. Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Murphy's Law

Friday October 24, 2008
Almost everone has heard of Murphy's Law: "If any thing can go wrong, it will." One example of Murphy's miserable laws reads: "If you drop something heavy, it WILL land on your foot" ... These are not literally universal laws of human existence, but there are days in which our experience leads us to believe so.

Running from Trouble

Friday October 24, 2008
There was a man who made a fortune in the early part of the 20th century. He was called up for service during World War I, and when he came home after the war his business was in shambles. His fortune was gone.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: How to Dress to Look Your Best

Friday October 24, 2008
Did you fix your face before going out today? Perhaps you thought you did, but it doesn't really work. No amount of makeup can hide what is inside you.... Read on.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Distress or Creative Stress

Friday October 24, 2008
Stress becomes distress when it is constant and/or experienced to a degree of intensity inappropriate to the situation at hand, but most of us function better when we have some motivating tension.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Challenging My Childhood View of Reality

Friday October 24, 2008
Author Thomas Sowell is quoted as saying, "All that makes earlier times seem simple is our ignorance of their complexity." When I catch myself longing for ”˜the good old days’ when life was simple and uncomplicated, I read some history of those ”˜good old days’ and discover that times were not so simple as I remember them to be.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Balance

Friday October 24, 2008
In his book The Road Less Traveled, psychiatrist M. Scott Peck has a word that he weaves like a thread through all he has to say about how we can become emotionally healthy human beings. That word is ”˜balance’.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Remapping the Mind

Friday October 24, 2008
I seldom discover a book I think almost everyone would benefit from reading, since we differ so much in our tastes and needs. However, I did read a book this year that anyone seriously seeking to understand themselves could read with great benefit. This book is filled with serious insights presented with enough humor that it is helpful without being patronizing or threatening.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Who Owns the World?

Friday October 24, 2008
The basic human question, "Who Owns the World?" is too large for mere words, so in the tradition of Jesus' parables, let me tell you a story to help with the answer.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: This Little Light of Mine

Friday October 24, 2008
When I was an active pastor, I would frequently have the children sing "This Little Light of Mine" at the end of the children’s sermon. It is a simple song, but it teaches a profound principle. It teaches a child to recognize that no matter how small they may be, they have a little light.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Big Debts

Friday October 24, 2008
Today is Thanksgiving Day, which is a proper time to think of a kind of indebtedness not measured by the dollar sign. If you live long enough life will generate circumstances that will cause you to incur debts of a kind and magnitude that they can never be repaid.... These are the debts we owe people who helped us when there was nothing we could do for ourselves.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On the Way to Bethlehem

Friday October 24, 2008
This is a season for people to remember their responsibility in the economy of God’s world. Most of us are blessed beyond words with far more than we need. Sometimes we forget that we are stewards of the things we have and not permanent owners.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Helping

Friday October 24, 2008
There is no other time of the year in which we are more inclined to gratitude and charity than the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At no other time are we more frequently asked to help people. Mailboxes are filled with requests from every kind of charitable organization. How do we decide whom to help and how much? How should we think about and relate to the people we help?

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Christmas Depression

Friday October 24, 2008
Christmas is not a happy season for everyone.... People who hate Christmas nearly always feel guilty for feeling like that even though it is obvious their feelings do not arise from rejection of the real meaning of the season.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: God Has a Name and a Face

Friday October 24, 2008
In Christ, God has brought His face down to us. This is what Christmas means. Not only does God see us, but in this event and in this person we now see God.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Remembering the Past

Friday October 24, 2008
There is something about this time of the year that has a way of calling us back to our roots even though the past is not a place to which everyone may conveniently, comfortably or safely return.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Something That Doesn't Change

Friday October 24, 2008
Beginning a new year causes thoughtful people to reflect on the past and scan the horizon of the future in search of something stable -- even permanent. Believing we will find something more dependable in the future than we have known in the past represents the triumph of hope over experience.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Coat Hanger

Friday October 24, 2008
Dr. Butts shares an amazing story with an important message: Go on and pray for what you need. You never know how your prayer will be answered.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: When God Leaves Us Alone

Friday October 24, 2008
Have you ever felt completely alone? Have you ever felt as if no other human being in your world understood you or had any idea of the depth of your struggles? It happens! It happens to people who are religious and to those who are not religious.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Celebrating the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday October 24, 2008
Once a year, I experience in a brief and small way what it is like to be a white minority among a sea of black friends, as I did ten days ago as we celebrated the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Bethel Baptist Church in Monroeville, Alabama.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Strange Sources of Strength

Friday October 24, 2008
I cannot tell you how many times in more than sixty years of ministry that I have watched with amazement as some person lived triumphantly through a tragedy that I thought would crush them. The strength to endure an overwhelming event is almost always a mystery.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: I Ain't Moved

Friday October 24, 2008
St. Valentine's Day is coming up soon. Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on love and marriage. I did not keep count, but I must have done some 2,000 marriages in my 62 years in the ministry. It is not unusual to receive letters from people you have married.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Whale of a Tale

Friday October 24, 2008
Recently a female humpback whale became entangled in an unbelievable web of crab traps, fishing nets, and lines. She had some nets and hundreds of yards of line wrapped around her tail and torso. The whale was so weighted down and entangled that she could scarcely swim to the surface to breathe. Read on...

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Surviving Defeat

Friday October 24, 2008
Our greatest achievement may never be measured by the waving of flags on a day of decisive victory; however, greatness can emerge from the resolute courage of those who, like that Calvinist General from the House of Orange, know how to achieve victory by surviving defeat.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Logic and Emotion

Friday October 24, 2008
We generally assume that human beings are rational creatures who live in a world that is governed by rational behavior. Therefore, our personal and public problems are the result of ignorance, the solution to which is the discovery and dissemination of correct information. I DO wish that were true!! It would certainly simplify the effort to resolve individual and world problems.

An Encouraging Word: The Meaning of Life

Friday October 24, 2008
A well-lived life is characterized by a constant evaluation of the meaning of life.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Meaning of Life, Part 2

Friday October 24, 2008
Last week I set out to write an introduction to a story by Robert Fulghum. Suddenly I realized that the introduction had become a column before I got to the story. Let me try again.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: All Is Forgiven

Friday October 24, 2008
It is amazing how many people live with unsettled issues with parents and/or other family members. This does not usually surface until the death of a parent, the reading of the will, or some other critical point in the life of the family. Then like a volcano or earthquake, all the pent-up feeling explodes.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: When the Storms of Life Are Raging

Friday October 24, 2008
The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus has the power to deal with the storms in which we find ourselves whether they come from the past or whether they are happening right now, or whether they are made up of our fears about the unknown future.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Just Passing Through

Friday October 24, 2008
In a letter dated July 15, 1813 John Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson: "You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other". As I read that interesting and profound challenge, it occurred to me that it would not be possible to explain ourselves to someone else until we come to a basic understanding of ourselves.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Why Not You?

Friday October 24, 2008
Jesus seldom used generalities in addressing the ills of society and the sins of individuals. There is a frightening particularity that runs like a thread throughout the whole Bible.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Last Night of Jesus' Life

Friday October 24, 2008
The final week of Jesus' life had come down to the last night. The public proclamation and the debates were over. Jesus changed his focus from the clamoring crowd and the devious religious establishment to the small group he called his own "who are in the world".

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Unexpected Jesus

Friday October 24, 2008
There is no Eastertide story more fraught with meaning than Luke's enchanting narrative of the appearance of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). It is a star-burst of spiritual insight which offers hope and help for the hopeless and helpless.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Teach Us to Pray

Friday October 24, 2008
Today is National Day of Prayer. There is not an act more common to all religions than prayer. Praying is a natural response to crises of all sorts, and the natural response to the greatest joys of life.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Graduation and Education

Friday October 24, 2008
All of us, young and old, need to be reminded of the importance of continuing education in life, for life. For all the inadequacies of education alone to bring meaning and fulfillment to life, it does occupy a most important place.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Will You Ever Be in a Courtroom? Probably

Friday October 24, 2008
If your life is of normal length there is a very good chance that you, or some member of your immediate family, will be in a courtroom sometime in your life in a role other than that of a spectator or juror. Let me describe what you will see and hear.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Immoveable Realities

Friday October 24, 2008
There are some people who are not just drifting toward disaster, they are racing blindly "ninety to nothing", on a collision course with realities that will not move over and let a fool fly by. I see them every day, and I cringe as I wait for the sound of twisted steel and broken glass, and the smell of death.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Nature of Prayer

Friday October 24, 2008
There are many aspects of prayer. Let me call your attention to just one of them, the naturalness of prayer. It is so much a part of our nature to pray that no one really needs instructions on prayer. You just pray. Forget method and proper wording. Just pray.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Early Home Influences

Friday October 24, 2008
Some children survive dysfunctional homes, but more people than you imagine are haunted for a lifetime by what happened to them at home when they were children. Here are two examples of parental behaviors that have disaster written all over them.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Remembering the Past

Friday October 24, 2008
I am not sure that the good old days were as good as we remember them to have been. But being an octogenarian confers on one the tendency and the license to fantasize about the virtues of the past.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Getting Even

Friday October 24, 2008
There are few things more satisfying than the warm feeling of getting even, even when you know you are not going to be there when it happens. The satisfaction is in the anticipation. How much time have you spent day- dreaming about possible schemes of getting even with people who are on your enemy list? And don't tell me "none." I know better, and so do you.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Best Revenge

Friday October 24, 2008
Of all the battles we fight, the most important ones are not against others, but within ourselves. When we realize that our greatest enemy is not without but within, it becomes obvious that the proper weapons are not guns and knives, but prayer, love and self-discipline.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Reflections on Life and Death

Friday October 24, 2008
The two most important events in life are birth and death. We do not consciously remember the first, and we hesitate to contemplate the second. Much of life is spent wondering why we are here, until it slowly dawns on us that we are not permanent fixtures, and then we begin to wonder why we cannot stay.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Don't Forget the Message

Friday October 24, 2008
We live in a world with so many exhausting distractions that it is easy to forget who we are and why we are here. There is so much unhappiness and brokenness in the lives and relationships of people who lose sight of the main goal and purpose of life.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Healing Power of Listening

Friday October 24, 2008
Doctors and clergy both have patients and parishioner whose complaints are "loneliness related". There is a cure far more powerful than, "just pray about it" or a mood-altering medication, but it takes time and intentional effort.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Be Careful What You Covet

Friday October 24, 2008
Have you ever looked at something which belonged to someone else and thought or openly said, "I want that!"? It could be almost anything - new car, big house, spouse, job, beauty, fame, etc. If you have ever wished for, longed for, or been tempted to take what was not yours, I have a story for you.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Shadows from the Past

Friday October 24, 2008
It is interesting, and sometimes frightening, to see how the past keeps casting shadows over our lives. There are patterns and responses that we learned as an adaptation to circumstances that are no longer with us. The responses we learned as a means of coping with and relating to life in the past may become detrimental to us if not altered after the circumstances that gave rise to them no longer exist.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: A Near-Death Experience

Friday October 24, 2008
What is it like to die? What happens when a person is on that invisible thin line between life and death? Not many people find out and live to tell about it.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Life, Death and Beyond

Friday October 24, 2008
Last week I wrote a column on the near-death experience of a colleague. It was written to help those of us who wonder what it is like to die. We wonder what lies beyond that bend in the river of life, around which we cannot see, but which, on our best days of faith, we believe that life goes on.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Listen to the Children

Friday October 24, 2008
To my utter surprise, after I was told to do a mini-sermon with the children each Sunday morning in the church I served at the time, it soon became the favorite part of my Sunday morning ministry. Here's one reason why.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Enjoy the Children

Friday October 24, 2008
Children tend to speak the unvarnished truth as they see it -- most of the time. Obfuscation and lying are learned, and adults are the teachers. Children are comfortable with saying what they think and feel, but sometimes their honesty makes us uncomfortable.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Finding Happiness "Now"

Friday October 24, 2008
A few years ago I was invited to be one of the speakers at a retreat for medical doctors. My assigned topic was "Finding Happiness Now". Big order!

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Misjudging the Future

Friday October 24, 2008
It is amusing to see how badly people in the past, some of them very knowledgeable people, have misjudged the future. Here are a few examples which should make us careful about making unequivocal predictions.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Power of Attitude

Friday October 24, 2008
There are many things in life over which we have little (or no) control, but we do have the power to control our attitude toward what happens to us. Your attitude can make you miserable even in relatively fortunate circumstances, or it can bring you a sense of contentment in the most unfortunate circumstances.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Help Someone Today

Friday October 24, 2008
Before his retirement from First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica, Ca., my friend and colleague, the Rev Dr. Donald Shelby, told a story that has stuck in my mind like a cocklebur. Perhaps it will stick in your mind also. It represents a lifestyle to which I have been committed all my life.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Chasing the Wind (Part 1)

Friday October 24, 2008
The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes tells how he tried all the things which in his time were thought to be fun and fulfilling. Then, one by one, he dismisses each experience with a phrase that runs like a thread through the whole book, "and that was like chasing the wind".

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Chasing the Wind (Part 2)

Friday October 24, 2008
Self-justification is seldom a wise course of action. It prolongs the pain of being wrong. Blunt honesty is never easy, but it is an admirable characteristic.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts - Chasing the Wind (Part 3)

Friday October 24, 2008
We have all done some running. Perhaps we will do some more. Run if you must, for there are some aspects of truth and insight that are too hard for the average person to face without doing some back-peddling.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Be Clear When Agreeing

Friday October 24, 2008
Specificity is an essential ingredient of any agreement. After more than a half a century as a pastoral counselor, I have learned how important it is for parties to an agreement to spell out the details before signing on the dotted line. As the familiar saying goes, "The devil is in the details".

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: A House Divided

Friday October 24, 2008
It is not difficult to find occasions, both historical and contemporary, in which the church has not looked very redeemed. Bigotry and exclusivism have been paraded with embarrassing frequency in the name of Jesus.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The role of failiure in success

Friday October 24, 2008
Several years ago Henry Petroski wrote a book entitled, "To Engineer is Human". Petroski uses engineering failure to illustrate how how we can use downfalls in any area of life as lessons for a safer and more successful future.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Help and Hope

Friday October 24, 2008
As I look back on my struggle with ignorance and meager resources as I worked to get an education in preparation for Christian Ministry, I realize I would have given up had it not been for the gracious people who helped me make it, against all odds. I have a profound sense of gratitude for them all.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The lessons of history

Friday October 24, 2008
One of the most treasured books in my library is the "Lessons of History", written in 1968 by Will and Ariel Durant. It is a profound book which should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the great lessons of history by the century rather than by the year. History really makes more sense that way.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Bethlehem or Bedlam

Friday October 24, 2008
English Theologian Don Cupitt once said that "Christmas is the Disneyfication of Christianity". I winced when I read that characterization of Christmas. It hurt because it contains an embarrassing element of truth. Almost all of us participate in the commercialization of Christmas.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: He Came

Friday October 24, 2008
The essential part of my own Christian faith construct is not the historical details of when, where, and how Jesus came into the world, but simply that he came.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Where Is the Christ of Christmas?

Friday October 24, 2008
We almost never encounter God when, where, or how we thought we might. Divine encounters usually come as a surprise, fully recognized as an epiphany after the fact.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: 'Twas the Week after Christmas

Friday October 24, 2008
With you at Christmas I share the joy of anticipation of even greater joy: It is the joy that comes in the assurance of God’s love for us and God’s eternal presence with us.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Janus Is Here

Friday October 24, 2008
The first month of the year, January, is named for the Roman god, Janus. He is shown as having two faces, one in front, and the other at the back of his head. The symbolism is that the first month of the year is a time for reviewing the past and contemplating the future.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Violence and Vengeance

Friday October 24, 2008
There has always been mind-numbing violence, but it has never been so palpable. And violence appears to be attached more and more to vengeance. Every act of violence as revenge for some past act of violence becomes the excuse for the next act of violence.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday October 24, 2008
We share a common memory of this man whose life continues to cast a "lovely light" across the landscape and into the dark corners of our life together in America. I have a personal memory of Dr. King that has played an important role in defining my journey in the civil rights movement.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Prisons without walls

Friday October 24, 2008
Several years ago I accepted an invitation to speak in a minimum security prison. When I arrived, I was not sure I was at the right location. There were no walls, fences, bars on the windows, or guard towers. The chaplain said, "The walls and fences and bars of this prison are in the minds of the inmates".

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: What Time Is It?

Friday October 24, 2008
Someone asked Yogi Berra, "What time is it", and in typical "Yogi" fashion he asked, "You mean right now?". Sam Keen once said, "Wisdom is knowing what time it is in your life". It is important for us to know what time it is right now.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Remembering a Special Day

Friday October 24, 2008
Next Tuesday is St. Valentine's Day, a special day for thinking about love. Let me reflect on the meaning of that slippery, kaleidoscopic little word that permeates our lives.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Love and Limits of Liberty

Friday October 24, 2008
One of the most universal desires of the human heart is the wish to be free. Revolutions are fomented by that desire. Wars are fought to gain, retain and protect freedom.

When Someone Needs You, Just Stay

Friday October 24, 2008
Several years ago a friend sent me this story. I have since seen slightly different versions of it from time to time, always without attribution. Some stories stick in your mind like a cockle burr. This is one of them.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Beware of Exclusivism

Friday October 24, 2008
A recent week on the church calendar was designated as "Brotherhood and Sisterhood Week". The primary intent of this designation was to place emphasis on finding ways to include rather than exclude. It is embarrassingly clear in any study of church history that religion is and has been a source of divisiveness and exclusivism. That is ironic. Organized Christianity is no exception in this plague on peace.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Kill the Problem

Friday October 24, 2008
Life does not always work out the way we planned it. Funerals turn into celebrations, and celebrations turn into funerals. Life has a way of requiring rapid agenda changes, and our reaction to such staccato lurches is not always rational.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Original Requirements for Discipleship

Friday October 24, 2008
Lent is an appropriate time for Christians to review the original requirements for discipleship. The entire passage of Luke 14:25-35 states some rather startling requirements. Let me begin with just one, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Unity in the Church

Friday October 24, 2008
Lent is a good time for Christians to think about their responsibility for unity in the community of faith. Achieving unity in a church has never been easy. I speak with the authority of one who has been a hired hand for Christians for over a half-century.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Last and Longest Week

Friday October 24, 2008
This Sunday marks the beginning of the last, longest and most dramatic week in the life of Jesus, a week in which events in and around his life moved with increasing rapidity from the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday to the tragic end on Good Friday. The days of that last week are so much of one fabric that it is difficult to separate one day from the next or to insulate one event from that which preceded or followed it.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Last and Longest Day

Friday October 24, 2008
We come now to the last and longest day in the life of Jesus. What a day!! Who in the world gave it the name "Good Friday"? Even the most sketchy and benign account of that day is enough to make the strong shudder and the weak faint. No one there that day would ever have agreed to call it "Good Friday".

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: That Jesus!

Friday October 24, 2008
One of the most poignant resurrection experiences in the Bible is Luke's account of the mystical and unexpected appearance of Jesus to two dispirited followers on their sad trek from Jerusalem to their home in the little village of Emmaus.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: On Life, Death, and Taxes

Friday October 24, 2008
When I began to write this column, I could not help but notice that between its writing and publication, there is a date that has a double meaning for me, one of which is shared with all my fellow citizens. The date is April 15th, the standard deadline for filing income tax returns, and it is also my 82nd birthday. Along with most everyone else, I bemoan my tax obligations. There is also a sense, however, in which I am proud to be a tax-payer.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Wait Until...

Friday October 24, 2008
Many things happen to us that are unexpected, some of which are the consequence of our own action or inaction; some of which are for reasons beyond our understanding and some are completely beyond our control. ... The quality of our lives is dependent, not so much upon what happens to us, as upon how we respond to what happens.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: When Too Much Is Not Enough

Friday October 24, 2008
My two children, now in their late forties, have always rolled their eyes and mimicked me to one another when I tell them what life was like when their mother and I were children during the Great Depression. They never really believe my stories.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Happy Mother's Day

Friday October 24, 2008
In the next few days hundreds of thousands of cards, flower arrangements and gifts will be sent with this sentiment "Happy Mother's Day". Most of have been blessed by a mother for whom happiness is most profoundly influenced by the welfare of her children. Often a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.

An Encouraging Word: "I Don't Mean To Criticize, But..,"

Friday October 24, 2008
Within our constellation of relationshiips we tend to be part of the problem or a part of the solution.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Between the Beginning and the End

Friday October 24, 2008
Scientists say that the universe is about fourteen billion years old, give or take a few hundred million years one way or another. When you compare our life span to the age of the universe, the word "brief" hardly describes that blip of time from the beginning to the end of one human life.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Tyranny of Unrealistic Expectations

Friday October 24, 2008
When we tacitly accept the mythologies and assumptions of other people it it all too easy to become the victim of those unrealistic expectations. We do not want to disappoint people who think highly of us, even when they think more highly than is justified. Who knows, maybe they are right - maybe we can to all those things, if we just try harder! Wrong.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Life Is Not Fair

Friday October 24, 2008
The feeling that life is not fair starts early in life. You can hear the complaint among kindergarten children while they are at play. When did you last hear a child say, "But,why? That is not fair!"?

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Life Is Not Fair, Part 2

Friday October 24, 2008
Realism may creep up on us and slowly erode our mythologies, but there are times when reality delivers a devastating blow to our illusions.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Life Is Not Fair, Part III

Friday October 24, 2008
I dare say that all of us could make an impressive list of people we know who have not only survived unspeakable unfair experiences, but have prevailed and gained dominion over them. Let me list just two I know to get you started on your list.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Christianity and Citizenship

Friday October 24, 2008
Christianity has existed peaceably under almost every form of government where oppression did not forbid its practice. Early Christians put God above the government, and they did not consider God and the government to be one and the same.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Strange Understandings of Prayer

Friday October 24, 2008
There are some rather strange understandings of prayer. However, prayer can be such a highly personal matter that we should be careful about judging the prayers of other people.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Freedom Is More Than a Word

Friday October 24, 2008
One of the most meaningful efforts in which we can engage ourselves is becoming free and setting others free. So many people are bound by so much: ignorance, pain, fear, guilt, superstition, hate, greed, lust, and the list goes on.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Looking for Tony

Friday October 24, 2008
Several years ago there was a fictionalized television drama of the life of Marilyn Monroe. No sensitive person could fail to be touched by the haunting tragedy of how much of her life was a quest for self-identity.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Blessings

Friday October 24, 2008
Some of life's greatest blessings come unexpectedly, and sometimes from incidental and brief encounters with people we never see again. Sometimes a blessing is not recognized until much later, and sometimes we end up being blessed by an experience which at the time seemed to be anything but a blessing.

The Pain of Pretension - An Encouraging Word

Friday October 24, 2008
Pretension is a learned behavior. We are not born with it, but the learning process begins early. An infant learns that certain behaviors bring approval while others displease important people in the infant's constellation of relationships.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word - Let This Moment Linger

Friday October 24, 2008
One of the greatest myths about spirituality is the idea that if we just stay busy life will have meaning. If you "just stay busy" you will not find meaning, but you will not notice the emptiness as much.

AN ENCOURAGING WORD: "Until the Bell Rings"

Friday October 24, 2008
It always seems strange to me that public school starts in mid-August. In the '30s and '40s school did not start until mid-September, or later because we had to pick cotton and gather corn. If we could not finish gathering the crops by the time school started, we changed into work clothes as soon as we got home from school and worked until dark. However some modern vacation-worn parents tell me they are glad to have school start in August!

AN ENCOURAGING WORD: "A Story To Remember"

Friday October 24, 2008
There is an unforgettable incident in the book, Days of Our Years, by Pierre Van Paassen. I first read this story many years ago, but every now and then I hear, read, or experience something that brings it back to mind like a flashing red light.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Longing for Belonging

Friday October 24, 2008
We are born with the need to belong, and there is no age or stage of life in which we are free from that basic need. In its extremes we see it all the way from the infant who clings to his mother to the obnoxious and emotionally needy adult who tries to push his way into every social setting and every conversation. Because the need to belong is universal, one of the most serious and painful punishments in prison is "solitary confinement".

Rev. Dr. Tom Butts: The High Price of Cheap Acceptance

Friday October 24, 2008
Last week I reminded you how exhausting it is to pretend. Pretension is a great temptation for people who feel alienated and who desperately want to belong. We never intend for this dishonest representation of ourselves to become a lifetime habit, but the longer we practice pretension, the more permanent the habit becomes. To maintain this facade, we compartmentalize feelings we are afraid to express because they are contrary to our projected image. We always intend to get back to these stuffed feelings later, but the wall we build to shut out potential rejection and hurt soon becomes a cage.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Holy Boldness - An Encouraging Word

Friday October 24, 2008
When I was a child, people in my rural Methodist Church used to speak of "holy boldness". I never knew exactly what that meant, but I assumed it was a kind of confidence you could experience when your spiritual life was in order.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word - God Remembers

Friday October 24, 2008
This is a column of encouragement for people who have encountered difficult and disappointing experiences in life, and who wonder if anyone understands or cares. It is for people who have been hurt in ways they often do not want to talk about.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word - Signs That You Need Help

Friday October 24, 2008
Sometimes life gives us signals that we need outside help. When we get such signals, it is not safe to go on alone.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word on Unanswered Prayer

Friday October 24, 2008
There is no spiritual exercise more common to religious people than prayer. There is nothing in the observance of religious faith than causes more bewilderment than unanswered prayer. Does God not hear us? Does God not care?

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word on Unanswered Prayer, Part 2

Friday October 24, 2008
Children often have interesting answers to difficult questions. Here are some of the answers children gave when asked why God does not always answer prayers for specific things.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Watch Your Words - An Encouraging Word

Friday October 24, 2008
For many years the Reader’s Digest has featured a section designed to test and improve your vocabulary. The name of that popular article has changed from "It Pays to Enrich Your Word Power" to "Word Power" but the feature section has persisted through the years because people instinctively recognize that there is power in words.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word: Words Can Heal or Hurt

Friday October 24, 2008
Our words both reflect and create our attitudes. The world of medical science is discovering the power of words and attitudes to heal or hurt.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word on All Saints' Day: Look Who's Watching

Friday October 24, 2008
On the liturgical calendar of the Christian Church, All Saints Day is November 1st, which is the day on which many Christian Churches remember and honor the "Hallowed Saints" who have died. This celebration also keeps us mindful of the frailty and brevity of life.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Reflections on Psychiatrist Karl Menninger

Friday October 24, 2008
While going through a file on "Love and Hate" I came across references to the works of Dr. Karl Menninger, and I remembered how much Dr. Menninger has influenced the thinking of students of Pastoral Care, and the impact he has had on me.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Power of Anger

Friday October 24, 2008
Many people are frightened by feelings, both positive and negative, their own as well as those of others. This fear is unfortunate and unnecessary. If we respect our feelings, we will find a friend in what heretofore we have feared.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: A Good Word for Today

Friday October 24, 2008
Late one afternoon a sailor was walking across the pier on his way to town for shore-leave when he heard the cry of a child from the water. He plunged into the water and rescued a six-year-old boy who had fallen in. As soon as the child was placed on the pier, he scampered away, leaving the nameless sailor standing there dripping wet....

Thomas Lane Butts: It All Comes Back

Friday October 24, 2008
This is that beautiful time between Thanksgiving and Christmas when the best impulses of human nature tend to come to the surface. When we reflect on the nature of generosity, we become increasingly aware of the strange ways in which what we give tends to come back to us.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: The Last Lick

Friday October 24, 2008
The urge to hit back, "get even" with people who have hurt us is powerful. It has broken up friendships, disrupted families and even started wars. We want to have the "last word" in an argument and the "last lick" in a fight.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Who Started This Christmas Business?

Friday October 24, 2008
The Christmas season is a cheerful time for most people, but there are frustrations. Even people who tend to keep life manageable occasionally encounter some unsettling and frustrating experiences in the hustle and bustle of the season.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Christmas Blues

Friday October 24, 2008
It should come as no surprise that Christmas is not a happy season for everyone. I cannot remember a Christmas in more than 60 years in which someone did not say to me in a confidential whisper, "I hate Christmas, and I will be glad when it is over".

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: 'Twas the Week After Christmas

Friday October 24, 2008
Now that the "Big Day" is over and we are trying to get back to normal, whatever that may be, perhaps we should try to figure out how to keep some of Christmas in our lives. People tend to feel "let down" after such an intense celebration. It takes intentional effort to keep the spirit of Christmas alive when it is over.

Thomas Lane Butts: Glad to Be Alive

Friday October 24, 2008
Having people think you are dead is an interesting experience. Among other things, it is a timely reminder that some day you WILL die.

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: A Prayer for Writers

Friday October 24, 2008
We give thanks for all the people who use the written word to touch hearts and minds with information, inspiration and entertainment. May the Muse be with them.

Thomas Lane Butts: Celebrate the Temporary

Friday October 24, 2008
Having a deep longing for something that last, we naturally chafe under the pervading temporariness of life. What can we count on for stability in a world where nothing stays the same?

Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Christmas Blues

Friday October 24, 2008
It should come as no surprise that Christmas is not a happy season for everyone. I cannot remember a Christmas in more than 60 years in which someone did not say to me in a confidential whisper, "I hate Christmas, and I will be glad when it is over".

Video by The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

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The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts - (Part 2) Day1 Conversation with Peter Wallace

Friday October 24, 2008
In this segment the Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts discusses his recollection of the civil rights era including being part of the march on Selma, Alabama. Rev. Butts discusses how far the world has come since that time and how far we have left to go.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts (Part 1) - Day1 Conversation with Peter Wallace

Friday October 24, 2008
Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts sits down for his 38th sermon on Day1 and the Protestant hour. In this interview the Pastor Emeritus of First United Methodist church in Monroeville, Alabama discusses the job of the Pastor Emeritus, preaching throughout the ecumenical sphere, his education, various degrees and close ties to the academic world, the impact of youth and various intellectual pursuits.