Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Speaking the Truth in Love"....A Tribute to Dr. LaVerne Butler

I like for things to go smoothly. I'm not much for bumpy rides --whether it's in a vehicle or in a relationship. Yesterday things got a little bumpy. While having a discussion with a friend, things took a turn that I had not anticipated and it got pretty bumpy for a while there. I'm sure things are gonna be all right but it just sort of took me by surprise. It got my blood pressure up and my spirits down. Even today I still feel a little down in the dumps. I'm not sure why but a favorite preacher of mine from years ago crossed my mind this morning and I looked him up on Google. The last time I heard from him he was in bad health so I wasn't too surprised to hear that he had gone to meet the Lord not long before Christmas last year.

His name was Dr. LaVerne Butler. (You can read the obit about his interesting life here) In the obit, one of Dr. Butler's sons says this about his Dad: "The theme for his life, and I think this captures him more than anything else, is out of Ephesians 4:15: Speaking the truth in love,"

I believe we may have first heard him preach down at Camp Zion in Myrtle, MS, in the 1980's. I was awed by his knowledge and the ability to present his message in such a way that you could not take your eyes from him. It was a joy to listen to him preach. And then soon after that, our pastor asked him to preach a "summer revival" at our little church. Back then when we had summer revival we had morning services in addition to the regular night services. I usually played the piano for the morning services because our regular piano player, Mrs. Lila Mae, worked at a factory and couldn't be there. Almost always the revival would fall during the time when our field corn was "coming in" and I would have to come home from revival and cut corn off the cob all afternoon to put into the freezer. It was a hot and tiring week but God always blessed.

The ladies at church took turns fixing a meal for the visiting preacher during revival and I always took my turn. I remember the day that Bro. Butler came to our house. You have to know that we lived about half an hour from the church to start with. Add that the last six miles were dusty dirt roads. Plus the heat of the summer at mid-day. I'm not even sure we had air conditioning at that time. Our pastor and his family and Bro. Butler were all to be our guests that day after morning services. We'd been having some kind of problems with our car quitting on us and it picked that day to do it's thing! Somehow Benny sent me, Mrs. Peggy (my pastor's wife), Bro. Butler, and the smallest of the kids on to the house in Peggy's car while they worked on ours in the heat. I remember at the time being embarrassed. Here was this great man of God ,who I was sure used to things being a lot more fancy than they were at my house ,riding over dusty bumpy roads to eat dinner in our tiny little house in the middle of the woods.

While I went into the kitchen to get the finishing touches on the big dinner I had prepared earlier that morning, I told Bro. Butler to make himself at home. I was totally prepared for him to give our home...which many would have called shabby...a disgusting once-over with his eyes. I was not prepared for what he actually did! He walked over to the bookshelf and picked out "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" by Phillip Keller, looked over at me and smiled, and said this is a really good book...then he sat down and began to look through it like he was happy as he could be.

The whole time he was in my home he never complained or looked down on us...he only complimented me and my family. I've said many times since then that he made me feel like a queen. Our family loved Bro. Butler as we have loved few other preachers. And he loved us back! What a jewel he was. I'm so glad we had the opportunity to not only hear him preach....because there's a lot of men who can preach...but that we also were able to visit with him on many different occasions through the years and see that he was the real deal ! I agree with his son. He did have a talent of "Speaking the Truth in Love"

Bro. LaVerne....we will never forget you!


(Picture) Copyright © 1999-2005, Southern Baptist Convention.


Leah @ Point Ministries said...

I bet you made him feel right at home. What a wonderful story to tell. He blessed you and you blessed him.

Karin said...

So wonderful how the Lord sends folks into our lives to teach, mentor, encourage and love us on our journey of faith!

Lisa said...

I was not aware of Bro. Butler's passing. He was, indeed, a great preacher. I believe it was also in the early '80s when we first heard him at Camp Zion. We did not have the privilege of the personal encounters as you did. I know you are glad now that you had him in your home. I know he must have enjoyed the same hospitality that this preacher's family has in your home. I remember your lovely home, warm and inviting, full of love. That is probably what Bro. Butler saw too. Thanks for this post, and thanks for your hospitality. Love you.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful experience and I pray things are going better for you today. God bless you.

Love you,


Martha said...

What a sweet tribute, Marilyn. We worry so much about how our home "looks" and what is important is how a person feels when they visit. Welcomed, loved and a delicious meal prepared by someone who cared enough to cook the best of what they had. These are things that he probably never forgot about you.
Love you,

Emilie said...

love what you said about Bro. Butler. You don't find many men like him. I had the chance to have an evangelist in my home several times whom I thought was as godly a man as any I had ever met. Bro. Wilbur Hurt. Bill and I speak of him often. I think our churches have become so modernized that the people don't get to know the revival pastors. We had many of them stay with us over the years. I'm sure Bro. Butlers family appreciate your memorial to him. Love ya girl.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing,

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I love those trail blazers in our lives who make a lasting impression upon our hearts and better "fit us for heaven" because of their witness.

You are gracious and loving and God will heal the "ruffling" of your heart. I had one today as well. Been chewing on it all night. With morning's light will come fresh perspective. I pray your burden lifted as well.