Pastor Randy Butler works through the unexpected death of his son in his first book. (Submitted photo)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer pastor finished his first book last year, and is hard at work on his second.

The book Reclaiming Heaven’s Covenant by Pastor Randy Butler offers his view of heaven. A longtime senior pastor at Salem Evangelical Church, the work from Deep River Books highlights how he emerged from tragedy to forge a newly-strengthened bond with God.

When he’s not tending to his congregation or his family, he works with Crisis Chaplaincy Service, providing support to emergency workers and those enduring sudden, and often tragic, shock.

His second title, “Forecasting Temptation,” is due out later this year.

Looking back, Butler realizes he was living a slice of heaven on earth.

He had been the pastor at Salem Evangelical Church for some 16 years. The Keizer resident was living his lifelong dream of ministry alongside wife Joanie, daughter Kristi and son Kevin.

Longtime residents may remember Kevin’s sudden and unexpected death from a massive brain seizure. He details the days and months after losing his son in the book’s first chapter.

“The ivory palace quickly turns into a shabby shack,” Butler wrote. “Everybody has a hurt. Mine just happened to be public. Very public.”

The raw emotions evolved into three questions he had for God:

“What were you thinking?”

“Is this the best you can do for me?”

“Do you really expect me to show up every Sunday and tell everyone how great you are?”

Butler got his response, he said, when he was quiet long enough to hear what God had to say.

The answers make up the core of Reclaiming Heaven’s Covenant.

Butler said Christian teaching often focuses on what he describes in the book as a “penal relationship with God” and the rewards beyond the earthly realm. He said a covenant with God can lead the believer to experience a bit of heaven on earth.

But the book also offers grounded advice those with or without faith can learn from, Butler said.

“It’s a book about how to cultivate daily relationships in business, career, school and marriage,” he said. “I write about all the pieces of life, and show how this covenant with heaven is the underlying piece.”

He’s available for speaking engagements, and said the feedback from others who have endured similar tragedy has been “humbling and an honor.

“They didn’t think anyone understood,” Butler said.

Forecasting Temptation, his upcoming title, focuses on what its title suggests.

“Let’s pretend temptation’s on the other side of the door,” Butler said. “That means don’t open the door and don’t take a peek.”

He said the book is a unique take on temptation, a theme as old as the Holy Bible itself.

“They write about what happens after you’ve blown it, but now how to see what’s coming before it’s in our face,” Butler said.