It’s May! Glory!

It’s May! Glory!

Today is the first day of May and the first month I am taking part in the monthly worship event I’ve created. I was looking for creative ways to be reminded of the awesomeness of God and thought the book of Numbers would be a fun place to start.

I went to Numbers 28 and looked at how often God called the Israelites to either have an assembly, sacrifice, feast, party; what have you… and found that within the Israelite worship calendar it was near impossible to forget God. There are things to do every day week, month, season, and year.

Since we’re not in the Old Covenant of sacrificing animals and bringing the grains and the fruits to the Lord (thank God), I thought about how I could incorporate the routine of worship into a New Covenant calendar. I set up a list of events to give me opportunities to connect with God and thank Him.

Every month, the Israelites would give a burnt offering to the Lord. It was a big event with lots of animals sacrificed (🙁), fine flour, oil, and drink offerings galore! I took this practice and thought of what I could do as a monthly offering to the Lord. Paul said to the Roman church in the first century that they were to present themselves as a living sacrifice to God. They were to devote themselves to Him and seek His good. That was their spiritual worship.

In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, and those who would come to believe in Him due to their testimony, Jesus said that eternal life for believers was to know God. Jesus’ death and resurrection now allows us to do just that. We can connect with God every day at any time!

So, for every first day of the month, this is what I’m going to do: have a fantastic dinner to honor God and enjoy the gift of a good meal, reflect on how God has provided the past month, anticipate obstacles that could arise this present month, think about who needs prayer, and make note of what I’m excited about that is coming up!

My goal in all of this is to connect with God on a deeper level, grow in gratitude and joy for who He is and what He has done, and share His goodness and truth with others. God is so worthy of praise and I am absolutely excited to get started on this. If you would like to join in on my worship calendar, click on this link and it will subscribe you to a read-only version of it. If you decide to participate, please let me know how it goes! I would love to be inspired by how you worship God on these days.

Before I sign out, I’m going to share one thing I’m grateful for this past month: God’s joy.

I’m at a stage in codependency recovery where I am having more joyful days and fewer days of anxiety and misery. God has increasingly been showing me why I can live a life of freedom and joy. I love Him and feel so blessed to live every day with Him. Today, my expression of happiness in Christ is through thankfulness and unashamedly terrible dancing to this fantastic song. Watch the video and try to stay seated. 😜

God loves you! Celebrate that!

 

A Tree Planted Next to a Stream

A Tree Planted Next to a Stream

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

A series on being deeply rooted must start with a scripture about plants. How could it not? These verses in Jeremiah are pretty well known and I can see why. It’s a beautiful illustration of a life fueled by God. Who doesn’t love trees, water, and fruitful prosperity?

In Jeremiah 17, God was calling the people of Judah out for their sin. They had an idol problem. This problem was so great that parents were sacrificing their children on altars like the pagan nations who worshiped false gods.

God said to them in verses 5 and 6, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”

God was warning them that idol worship is not where security and prosperity originate. Good things come from God the Creator. When man turns from God, he turns from his light source. It’s just how it goes. Man on his own in the dark is a bad thing. Has anyone seen Law and Order? People living outside of God just get progressively chaotic and dark. It happens today and it happened back then. Every person needs God so that they can step into the light. We won’t do it naturally.

After God’s reminder to Judah about the emptiness of a man that worships himself, He gives the picture of a man that trusts God:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

It is through trust in God that man receives security and prosperity. In the Old Testament, it looked like this:

Obedience = land, large families, food in abundance, lots of oxen, sheep, goats (wealth)
Disobedience = war, pestilence (more than just bug problems), and famine (poverty)

The Israelites were under a conditional agreement with God. If they obeyed Him, they would receive blessings and if they disobeyed Him, they would receive curses. This was not because God was some kind of egotistical deity on a power trip. God truly knew what was best for Israel.

The conditional agreement is not how it goes anymore. We are under a new deal because of Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of that covenant. Our agreement with God is unconditional love and guaranteed salvation because of Jesus’ obedience. It has nothing to do with our works. In this new deal, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our downpayment of the life in God’s presence that is to come.

I think that the words spoken to Jeremiah back then are still true today but through the lens of our New Covenant with God. A difference between the shrub and the tree in the Jeremiah 17 illustration is placement. The shrub is in the desert and the tree is by a stream. They both experience harsh weather conditions, but the tree continues to be fruitful because of where it is planted.

In codependency terms, I’d like to call this a perspective change. Where is your mind planted? Feelings and actions begin with the intellect. Placing trust in God dissolves fear and anxiety because your thoughts are positively set on the provision and care of God. The tree was planted next to a stream and received all it needed for the heat and drought. Placing your trust in God doesn’t mean your life circumstances necessarily change, it just means you possess what many search for outside of God but can’t find: Peace. Prosperity. Security.

If you are a Christian, you have everything you need through God’s provision. He knows what you need and He will take care of you. It may not be in the way you think, but personally, I find that it’s always better and much more fascinating than what I would have done.

It’s easy to say “trust in the Lord” and much harder to do when you’re not so sure if He is who He claims to be. My suggestion is if you feel you don’t know God or don’t trust what you do know… seek Him further. Ask questions. Figure out what your perception of God is and ask why. Is it true? How do you know? Ask God to show you He is trustworthy. You’ll see it more and more as you’re looking for it.

God has given us creation, His word, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. He wants to be known by you. Plant yourself in Him and enjoy the adventure! A life with God brings joy and peace. It’s so much fun and there’s nothing I would recommend more highly.

 

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