Summer 2018 Tuition Goal Reached!!

Summer 2018 Tuition Goal Reached!!

I just wanted to give you all a quick update on my tuition fundraising. The Summer 2018 Tuition Goal has been reached!! Today I had the privilege of paying for my summer semester and getting excited all over again for the counseling program.

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a painting or donated through the Dallas Theological Seminary website! It has been really meaningful to receive support from so many people I care about. I can’t wait to keep you updated on the lessons God teaches me and the progress I make through the program.

I hope you all have a wonderful day and thank you again for your support. ❤️

 

The Reason for the Sheep

The Reason for the Sheep

As you may have noticed, the logo for my site is a sheep. I’m sure that anyone who has a background in Christianity could make a guess as to why the sheep is my logo, but I thought I’d share with you the exact reason for the sheep.

When I was five years old, my Sunday School teacher taught us that we were sheep in need of a shepherd. She told us that Jesus is a good shepherd and we should follow Him. I went home with that thought in mind and had my mom lead me through a prayer to accept Jesus into my life.

The scripture my teacher was referencing that day in class was John 10. In the simplicity of this figure of speech and in the power of its implications, Jesus, the door and the shepherd, allowed me passage into safe pasture. I was not a pretty sheep, but a gnarly sheep without good sense. Jesus brought me into the fold, anyhow, due to His goodness. In literal terms, Jesus took an inherently sinful person and stood in her place before God so that she could be accepted by Him. As a child, I couldn’t see my character defects yet. I couldn’t see my idols (my other masters I would want to follow over Christ), but in the faithfulness of God, He would not have me remain gnarly. As I grew up, my sin inevitably came to the surface and God got to the business of transformation.

I started off as a mean sister who bullied my younger sisters and encouraged my friends to bully their siblings. As I continued to grow, I fell into love addiction and looked to guys to provide me with the things only God can. I disrespected my parents and filled my mind with negativity.

But! In the middle of all the anger, guilt, confusion, and pain, Jesus’ voice never left. I don’t want to stretch the sheep analogy beyond its point, but let’s just say I was a sheep staggering around trying to follow several different directions, but clumsily still moving after my real master’s voice. And wouldn’t you have it that He got me? We sheep can be wanderers, but if we are part of the fold of Jesus Christ, He will not let us remain off course.

Want to know what happened to my abusive, bullying ways? Boom! Got hit sideways by the Master’s rod. Never the same again. I turned from my abusive ways and began to love through the power of God.

What happened to my love addiction? Wam! Smacked by the rod of the Shepherd. Hit me straight. God showed me that He was who I needed to look to for everything I needed.

Disrespect towards parents? More blows and more transformation. Have any of you had great tension with your parents in high school, but now have the pleasure of calling them friends? God is good.

Even though I have gotten corrected by the rod and staff of God, it has never felt abusive. I’ve never felt wronged by God because I see what happens after the hit: love.

The love I have for my siblings and my parents, the healthy love I now have for guys, and the love I have for God all comes from the power of God Himself. Through His power I feel so confident, clear, and full of joy. God exudes His love and is gentle. Praise God! He could be so harsh with us, but He is not! I find myself having a hard time accepting His goodness sometimes because it feels too good. How can there be such a God with answers for all occasions? And He’s my leader. My shepherd. He leads me to safety and provides for me.

Every day, Jesus continues to transform me to become like Him. He guides me and I can hear His voice more clearly now. I’m not as staggering as I used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I still wander — but not as much.

I am one of many lives that has been changed by Jesus Christ. Do I recommend Him? Of course. And I’d say for anyone who is skeptical or interested, get to know Him and see if you can resist Him. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and see if you finish them unchanged.

I accepted Jesus into my life at five and gladly say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sheep to a Good Shepherd.

The Discipline of Self Care

The Discipline of Self Care

Recently, I had a health issue flare up. I won’t give you all the gruesome details, but I will tell you that it was disgusting and life changing. The worst part is that it was preventable. I neglected the issue originally and let it grow into a big problem.

This particular health issue came to be about a year and a half into my codependency recovery. I was working at a particularly stressful job and could not find the time to get it checked out. When I left that job and started a new one, I had it looked at by a doctor and was prescribed a cream (you trying to guess what the issue is? 😛 ). After I got the cream, I went back to my life and, guess what, my new job wasn’t as emotionally stressful, but it was time consuming. And! It was very hard to find coverage for my position. So, needless to say, it was not easy to leave for a follow up doctor visit.

I worked that job for a little over a year and the health issue remained but it was very tame. Sometimes I would go for long periods without really noticing it. You get used to health issues sometimes… they become your new normal. In codependency, many miseries are normal: The fog of confusion as you try to make decisions about jobs, relationships, and boundaries. The chaotic state of your environment. The poor health of your body. The lack of true intimacy with those who care about you. Your view of God.

All these elements are part of living in survival mode with your codependency. If you are throwing all your chips into one category of life, the rest are going to get neglected. That’s just the way it is. There are five basic pieces that create a balanced life: relationships, work, spirituality, physical health, and mental health.

In my case, work was overtaking the other elements of my life. It was consuming so much of my time and energy that my physical health got neglected. An issue was allowed to remain and fester. When my health was compromised, all my energies went to regaining my physical health. Then! The other elements were being neglected because all my focus was on the physical! It can become an exhausting cycle of putting out fires.

This cycle can be portrayed in other ways, as well. Work life crazy can cause neglect in all areas (not just the physical). If you are consumed with work, that means time for relationships is put to the side, your living environment might become a little messy and chaotic, your physical appearance roughens up, your soul starts feeling like a desert, and your mental capacities are just about to run out. These signs may all seem very obvious, but in codependency, that’s not necessarily the case. These issues can become so normal in our survival mode mentality that we don’t even notice them. The screams for order become muted and we trudge on in our misery. What may be very obvious to others can be invisible to the codependent in crisis mode.

Another way life unbalance has affected me in the past was when I would be obsessively focused on a romantic relationship (or desire for a romantic relationship). The drive to have my Disney fantasies come true would steer me away from investing in other friendships and engaging in my life. How could I care about my career or hobbies when I had a relationship to bring to fruition?? Where could I find the time or desire to stop and respect God’s leading? What if He didn’t want what I wanted for myself?

Putting too much emphasis on relationships will lead to neglect of other important areas: like the spiritual. What could be more important than listening to God? But! When a codependent becomes entranced in a fantasy, it’s hard to see past the highs and lows of interactions with that significant other. Obsessive thinking can set in and, when that does happen, say bye-bye to the rational. Everything in life, besides that special person, becomes an afterthought.

Codependency is a dangerous cycle that brings chaos. God has great plans for you in all areas of life… not just a career, not just a relationship, not just school, not just you fill in the blank. If you evaluate your life and decide that one area is getting more attention than the others or if you feel that your life brings a chaotic presence, seek counsel. Go to God as best as you know Him and discuss everything with Him. See a counselor or talk to someone you trust. Living a life of balance feels good! When we become too focused on one area of life, it is easy to make that our god. Giving away the place of God undercuts His power in your life. It says you believe something else can provide you what you need. However, nothing can love and provide like God.

Refocus and go to Him with your life and your calendar. After my health issue, I did some serious reevaluation. So due to that change, I’m thankful I went through what I did. It brought me closer to God and taught me a valuable lesson. Would I want to do it again? Absolutely not and I pray I never have to. But I’ll take my lessons and walk with God to the next adventure. It’s a good life He has blessed all of us with and there’s a lot to be thankful for.

Two Things on Wives and Submission… Because You Asked

It may seem odd that I would venture into a discussion on submission within marriage, being that I am not married. However, I’ve been wrestling with this topic due to the place I’m at in recovery and the counseling degree I’m about to pursue. I’ve seen relationships done poorly… and that’s about it. My frame of reference for a healthy marriage is slim.

In the beginning stages of my codependency recovery, my view of relationships was completely dysfunctional. Instead of looking to God to be my everything, I was searching for that man. Slowly, my eyes have been opened to the value, gifts, and purpose I have in Christ. God has brought me to a place of active engagement in the present and I’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy life as a single woman in my thirties. I now know that a husband cannot fix me and that marriage is not the be-all-end-all of life. My contentment and joy come from Jesus.

However, a trend in recovery is that when you begin to see a flaw or pattern within yourself or when a truth about God is revealed, it’s easy to swing passionately to the other side of the emotional pendulum. Now that I know God is everything and that I don’t need a man to be my god, I find myself reacting in a feisty manner toward any concept that remotely makes women seem “lesser than” men.

Comments about men being the “leaders” of a marriage or “letting” their wives do this or that just makes my blood start to boil. I’m like, Shoooot. A woman can make more logical, intelligent decisions than a man. We women can do anything a man does and we can make improvements on it. Heck, we can even look better doing it. Why on earth would a man get to make the calls just because of his gender? That’s misogynistic. 

Bottom line: If submission is a thing, I don’t find men worthy of this role.

In addition to my place in recovery, I’m also about to enter into the biblical counseling program at Dallas Theological Seminary. It’s occurring to me that a counseling degree probably involves providing families an ideal scenario for a healthy family.  I felt that I needed to figure out what my stance is on a functional family unit. I know that in biblical pursuits, I cannot ignore the glaring scriptures on the topic of submission.

I started my research in Genesis, because that’s where you always start, and the only difference I found in the creation of Adam and Eve (minus their gender) was the order they were created in. Outside of when each of them were created, God did not give them different jobs. They were both to be fruitful and multiply. They were both to subdue the earth and rule over it. (Genesis 1:28)

From what I read, it did not sound like the typical sermons I hear of a marriage relationship, which often boils down to this: Adam had a really big, important job to do and he couldn’t accomplish it without his trusty administrative assistant, Eve. And just like he had a big job to do, men today have big boy jobs that they need help with. So, they let their wives do some stuff around the house and maybe in the workplace to lighten their load.

I looked further in Genesis, but besides that really mysterious verse within the Fall’s curse about Eve desiring Adam, it basically confirmed that after the Fall, people were sufficiently screwed up. So, I went to the New Testament to check out the controversial scriptures on marriage. Let me just say that Paul was right when he said he didn’t have eloquent speech. I think with sensitive topics like submission, verbage is everything, and Paul didn’t soften many blows. Just reading the portions of his letters about wives and their husbands got me feeling very defensive.

I was reading the scriptures “in emotion” and getting really confused, so I stepped back and listened to some sermons on those scriptures for outside insight.

I didn’t like what I heard. Basically, the argument for men being the leaders of the household was that they were created first. In Genesis, I couldn’t find anything written that proved that idea. I wasn’t about to place my beliefs on a symbolic implication.

I looked through scripture to see if the “created first” idea was anywhere else. And lo and behold, it was. Paul states in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Ouch. Now, the context surrounding this scripture had to do with a local church issue, but I believe verses 13-14 were written as a universal truth. Paul brought it into the local church scenario to back up his word of counsel to his readers.

For me, personally, that was the end of the road. Paul was an apostle chosen by God to grow the church and expose the truth of the gospel. He was given special insights by God and has unique authority. I submit myself to the Bible as the inerrant, authoritative word of God. Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t make it false.

There are sacrifices a man makes as he enters a marital relationship, but I want to keep this particular post very basic. My intent for initial research was to see if submission was legitimate and according to my findings, it is. So, on that most elementary of levels, these are the two thoughts I concluded with:

1. Choose wisely

Marriage is not a game and it’s not a place to go looking for all your problems to be fixed. In my past, I have played the dating game and succumbed easily to the emotional pulls of love addiction and love avoidance. That was not fair to myself or the person dating me. And despite the fears of intimacy and abandonment, I continued to pursue romantic relationships because I believed marriage would give me emotional rest. I thought marriage was the epic climax where life really got started. Everything else I participated in (school, work, friends…) were all hobbies God had given me until The One arrived.

This is a horrible mentality because it does not promote the kind of healthy patience and trust that is needed to choose wisely. Scanning the globe for that person who is going to fix you almost guarantees a poor choice in a marriage partner. It’s important to find someone who is satisfied in God. They are submitted to Jesus Christ and have a teachable heart. As a potential husband, this person should be more concerned about their responsibilities to Christ than your submission in marriage. If the person you’re dating is fixated on how you will submit in marriage, you need to pause and evaluate your relationship with that person.

You want a man that understands the weight of his place in a marriage relationship. You want a man that is connected with God and following God’s leadership. A married couple that is equally submitted to Christ and sacrificial to one another is a power house couple. That is a relationship that can have deep impact on their family and their community. It can be a life transforming relationship for both husband and wife.

Be very careful about who you marry. If you are a recovering love addict or love avoidant, make sure you bring the person you are discussing marriage with to see your counselor (If you don’t have a counselor, I highly recommend finding one. They offer valuable insight that is difficult to get anywhere else.). You want wise people to look at your relationship from an outside perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in fantasy and unknowingly step outside of reality.

2. Submit wisely

After you’re married (hopefully to someone who is surrendered to Jesus), there will be times you need to submit to the leadership of your husband. I can’t give you all the details because I don’t know where God will take you. I am also single (never married) so I can’t give you any personal insights on submission within marriage.

What I can tell you is that you can submit wisely. Being a wife who chooses to submit to her husband’s leadership, does not equal a woman without a brain or her own relationship with God. If, as a wife, you feel that your husband is asking you to do something that is against God’s character or will, you can say no. You are first and foremost under the authority of Jesus Christ. God has not called you to become a doormat to a man who thinks he can command you to participate in anything sexually immoral. God has not called you to put up with emotional, physical, spiritual, or mental abuse. These things are always outside of God and His will.

If your husband is asking you to submit to him, it should most often involve something to you and your family’s benefit. Your husband has just as great a sacrifice as your submission because he is to love you as Jesus loved the church. That is huge. Your husband is carrying a serious responsibility. He is not going to be perfect at it but it is his job.

In conclusion, as a single, choosing someone to marry is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. It should not be driven by love addiction or love avoidance. You want to make sure that you are not trying to fulfill a fantasy you have created. The highs from the addiction and the magic of your fantasies will eventually fall apart. Once that happens, you may find yourself in a position you don’t want to be in. Walk with God in your singlehood and trust His timing. Your marriage timeline may be different than God’s, but that’s okay as long as you are willing to surrender it to Him.

There’s more to life than a wedding ring and a relationship with a man. What other wonderful adventures does God want to take you on before you get married? Ask Him and start noticing your surroundings. What people are in your life? What opportunities are presenting themselves? What things of beauty and joy are around you? Life is wonderful as a single and it can be wonderful as a  married person. The key is choosing wisely and prayerfully and with many trustworthy witnesses! And even then… you’re going to have hardship. 🙂 However, both singlehood and marriage are gifts from God to be cherished and enjoyed. Surrender yourself to God and let Him guide you through life. He knows what’s best and He loves you. He will provide you with what you need.

Back to School!

Back to School!

Greetings!

For those of you who know me or who have been following me on my blog, you know that there are two things I am very passionate about: theology and counseling. Well, those two things are now merging into one, focused pursuit: biblical counseling.

I have recently been accepted into Dallas Theological Seminary’s biblical counseling program!! I will start either this summer or in the fall. It’s hard to express my excitement. I absolutely love learning and I’m also looking forward to becoming a licensed counselor. 

My ultimate goal with this degree is to open a counseling practice for primarily high school and college students, along with young adults. This was a time of extreme confusion and anxiety for me. The majority of it felt foggy and dramatic. I’d love to walk through that time with others and guide them to a healthier relationship with God, others, and themselves. If I can be used by God to provide others with the joy and clarity I have received through counseling, then I will be a happy woman.

There are a couple of elements that any student is required to give when venturing into school: time and money.

Since I have to work while I go to school, I am anticipating long days and long nights in which I will interchange roles of employee, student, and dog mom. It’s going to be tough, but worthwhile.

In addition to time, there is the money factor. DTS has scholarship money available and I am applying for outside scholarships, as well. However! Scholarships help with school tuition, but they do not cover all expenses. There is opportunity for you to participate in journey I am about to begin.

There are two ways you can contribute:

My Etsy Shop: As an extension of my website, I have created an Etsy shop called, WriteMegButlerStudio. In this shop, you can purchase prints of my original artwork. All purchases made in the shop will be direct contributions to my tuition.

Support a Seminary Student: Dallas Theological Seminary has made it possible to support a seminary student by contributing financially through their site! You can give online, by mail, or set up recurring monthly gifts. Click here to be redirected to DTS’ giving page.

If you give through the DTS website, the gift can be anonymous or you can put in your information. I would love to know you have contributed because I have a gift for you! When you contribute financially through DTS’ site, I will put you on a distribution list for an end-of-the-semester gift. Included in the gift will be a print of an original piece of art inspired by something I’ve learned in that particular semester. There will also be a letter to update you on how my semester went, PLUS, a report card!! You can post it on your fridge, share it with your coworkers, and hold me accountable to my studies!

I’m anxious to get started on my degree and see what God has in store! Thank you for support.

Sincerely,

Meg Butler

 

Revelation Spotlight: The Rapture

Revelation Spotlight: The Rapture

Out of all the views and beliefs from Revelation, the rapture is one of the more widely known. It’s apocalypse 101. People disappear leaving their crumpled (or folded) clothes behind and panic ensues.

So where did the idea of the rapture come from? Is it biblical?

While I don’t know the very first person who read scripture and was like, yes! rapture!, I can show you the scripture and the logic behind the idea of the rapture.

First, let’s go to Revelation itself. In a previous post, I spotlighted the seven churches. Revelation 2-3 gives a message to these churches and each one is promised a reward for endurance. Check out their rewards below:

Ephesus: “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7b)
Smyrna: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10b)
Pergamum: “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” (Rev. 2:17b)
Thyatira: “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” (Rev. 2:26-28)
Sardis: “The one who conquers will be clothed in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Rev. 3:5)
Philadelphia: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (Rev. 3:10-12)
Laodicea: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev. 3:21)

After Revelation 2-3, the throne room of heaven is introduced in chapter 4. This is where we find a great clue to back up what is called “the rapture.”

John has just received a word for the seven churches and looks to see a “door standing open in heaven.” A voice tells him, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” This is the break that takes us from the present to the future. We’ve seen a vision of Jesus standing in the midst of seven churches. There is a call to the churches to persevere, conquer, and look to a future reward. Now we are introduced to what takes place after the church age.

“After this.”

John finds himself taking in a throne room. The one sitting on the throne has the appearance of jasper and carnelian with a rainbow surrounding the throne. This one is God Almighty. Take a look at who is seated around this grand throne. Twenty-four elders.

Revelation 4:4 states, “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.”

The first two visuals that should pop out to you are the white garments and golden crowns. To the church in Sardis, John writes that the conquerors will be dressed in white garments. The churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia were told they would be wearing crowns. To top it off, those who conquered in Thyatira, Philadelphia, and Laodicea would all have places of authority and rule next to God the Father.

And what is the description of the elders in Revelation 4? They are “seated on thrones.” These people are ruling. They are “clothed in white garments.” They have “golden crowns on their heads.” These are the believers from the church age who persevered to the end. They remained faithful to God and are now seated with Him in the throne room in heaven!

In Revelation 5, a scroll is introduced that can only be opened by one who is worthy. No one can be found and John begins to cry. He reports that, “one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’

“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

This is a fantastic image that should be so comforting to any Christian. The one the elder described is none other than Jesus Christ. Look where He is standing: between the throne of God and the four living creatures and among the elders. Jesus, forever the church’s advocate, has successfully conquered and is worthy to open the scroll. Like He said to the church in Sardis, “I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” He is standing in the midst of the church just as He was doing during the church age (Revelation 1:12-13).

Important note: As we venture into Revelation 6, the seals to the scroll are opened. Guess who is not mentioned from chapter 6-18? The twenty-four elders! We see them again in chapter 19. They are still around the throne of God worshiping Him and getting ready for battle.

This brings me to the second point that goes outside of Revelation: God never subjects His people to His judgmental wrath. Throughout the Bible, we see that God draws His people away before His wrath is commenced (see Noah and the ark, the rescuing of Lot, the Israelites during the plagues on Egypt… how about God sending His Son to take on His wrath so that we don’t have to??). God is faithful and unchanging. Believers didn’t experience His wrath in the Old Testament or New Testament and we see that they won’t in the future either.

There are more arguments for the rapture than these two, but this is a good framework to start with. If you want to go in-depth on different views of the rapture, check out this book. You’ll have more detail than maybe you want on people’s rapture views. 🙂

Enjoy and be encouraged!