About Me

Burning Bush     ( Sunrise over Fife )

About me? I am a dead woman, who yet walks (and talks and laughs and sings) and  no, I am not a zombie! — though my children do wonder, when I’ve had too many sleepless nights, if they are dealing with the walking dead! I will tell you the story of my death, because it was the day I truly came alive.

It started with some burning bushes. Sometimes when God is  showing someone their shortcomings — the Christianese language calls these ‘sins’ — and  when His Holiness  is revealed to a heart  His kindness is  bringing to a  change of mind about these things — which ‘ Christianese’ terms “repentance” — well, to me it feels  like a burning bush inside my body. In ‘Christianese’ this would be called “being under conviction.” The only question, when faced with continually burning bushes, is how quickly we will take off our shoes —  because baring our soles is a way of saying “Yes, Lord you are holy, and I am not”; it is a sign of submission to a greater Authority.  Moses performed this act of humility when he saw his famous burning bush, and, Dear Reader, it is a really, really wise thing to do, when you begin to see and understand you are a sinner — to agree to God’s understanding of these issues of holiness. And oh, how our pride hates that. It is why so many refuse to take off their shoes, and submit before a holy God.

There were burning bushes frequently before me — like when I first heard the Book of Isaiah, a really magnificent poetic book of the Bible, read aloud in my presence — and I was filled with awe. But I would quickly   rationalize these moments all away: “Must be a lightning storm”; or, “Maybe, I  dropped my cigarette, and started this shrub aflame!” I did that a lot,  until my heart was completely humbled, and my shoes  came off.

And though I was not humiliated like that proud king Nebuchadnezzar, whose history is told in the Bible:  How his mind –and even his shoes! — were completely lost for seven years. The Emperor of Everything lost all of his kingdom.

And Nebby became your basic ‘crazy’ homeless person. Those who are overfond of psychiatric categories for ‘mental illness’,  would have slapped a ‘schizoaffective disorder’ label on poor Nebby and sent him out to wander the streets  fifteen minutes later with a $600 dollar bottle of  an atypical anti-psychotic in his grubby paw. But we in the Critical Psychiatry movement would argue that our brother Nebuchadnezzar is having a Spiritual Crisis:

” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:33)

Nebuchadnezzar’s delusions were directly given by a  Sovereign Lord, who drove him from a sound mind and out of the community for his eternal benefit, and so quite irrationally he began to eat grass. Because the hand of the God of the Universe  — that “Strong Hand of Love” hidden in the shadows” was heavy upon pathetic Nebby!  Sometimes delusions are  a terrible mercy —  but at the end of them, a tender mercy, so cherished in remembrance! Individuals suffering these spiritual crises must be offered a safe place to interpret such dreams and visions, and work out their issues. They must not have these experiences medicated away just because they make those observing them uncomfortable, or disrupt society’s  status quo, or overthrow your own theological understanding of The Way Things Work. God forbid poor Nebby would come into our churches seeking help from God. We all know what would occur when the ushers observe his sad and slovenly state, his dirty overgrown fingernails and his dreadlocks, and when they hear his slobbery animal  talk –all because the sovereign Lord deemed it time to fill his proud mouth with grass.

I can say these hard things because I too was humbled  like Nebudchadnezzar in my pride and self delusion, and  I too lost my mind, when I smoked  grass.  I was alone, and unused to the hashish-laced marijuana my addicted room-mate smoked, and so my mind unraveled. ( a side note to those whose guide for interpreting  signs and wonders is the DSM-5:   Psychosis is a very common side effect for some people who smoke grass, or even use other psychotropic drugs. A Canadian study,and an earlier study in the Netherlands demonstrate that youth with a family member identified as having a mental illness are 4x more likely to develop psychosis if they use marijuana — and, Dear Reader, my mother was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder)

So I  had these terrifying delusions.

It is a horrible thing to hear voices that mock, like those voices did. I believe they were demonic. In any case, the voices were terrifyingly real and evil sounding.  And they taunted me because I was afraid to turn and look at them. In the midst of my terror, while cowering on my bed, a different voice spoke, a voice completely different from the others.  It was a voice sounding  as if all the love in the world was compressed into one sound,  and this Love spoke and said, “She will turn for me, won’t you, Karen?”  I answered joyously, “only for You.” In my crazed state I still  knew who it was, that it was the Lord Jesus — and they ugly voices were banished from my presence, but his Voice was gone too, and I ran outside to find Him again.  But  I saw only  a vision of  my best friend, who had become a Christian, and she said,  “you need the Book, you are not safe out here.”  Or perhaps I saw an angel on that motorcycle, smiling at me through the helmet.  All I know is that I was protected from harm. God kept be from being medicated for my ‘mental illness’.

Hours later, my mind was completely restored — and I never again smoked pot, either! But I did not forget that Voice. I found the safety of that Book the angel directed me to, on the year anniversary of my bad trip, on March 13, 1983. I kept a journal at the time, so I know. Visiting my sisters’ church, I heard  for the first time  1 Corinthians 13, the chapter  in the Bible describing  unconditional love, and I knew then that I was not the good person I thought I was.  I did not have the least bit of love in me.  The Bible on my lap was opened by the finger of God to Psalm 139.  I read,

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

I had made my bed in Sheol– a Bible word for Hell — with my bad choice to use drugs– but He had been there, even there, calling my name, leading me out. On that beautiful morning  my shoes came off.  My ideas of God as an impersonal force who started up the universe but  then left it, and me in it,  all alone, were destroyed with the magnificence of the revelation of the omniscient One who was knocking and bidding me open the door.  I did open the door of my heart, and I was captivated by the beauty of the One who shone there in all His glory.  I was convicted He was the Truth, and that I was a wretched wrongdoer who needed His Life, and must follow His Way, and not my own. I was forgiven for my rebellion against Him, and felt the burden of my sins lift away.  I was filled at that moment with His Spirit, so pure and clean, that when I tried to smoke a cigarette later I could not, because it felt like it clouded the purity I could palpably sense.  I was truly a new creature.  I had looked upon Him and I was radiant.

I do not know what could have kept me from opening that door. There was a kind of death of my will.  My pride was already broken.  Even C.S. Lewis describes himself as the most reluctant convert, and uses this word, that he was “compelled” to come in.  But he said, “The kindness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”   Our liberation begins as we open the door, and see  His beauty, and by that beauty we are sanctified and by our fixed gaze  we are kept.  And where else can we go?  Who but the Beautiful One has the words of eternal life?

This is how I died on March 13, 1983 –how it is that it is no longer I who live — but Christ! who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God– Jesus! — who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galations 2:20).

Thank you Lord, Loving Father who answers prayer–the prayers of all my concerned friends and family, you heard their anguished cries, and you snatched me from a dangerous fire. So thank you that I did not choose you, but you have chosen me– before time began, you wrote my name in your Book of  Life!  Thank you that it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. Thank you that you are a good God and no one will ever accuse you of evil; you are the potter, we are the clay, and out of the same lump of clay some pottery is made for noble use and some for ignoble. You have done this to make the riches of your glory known to the objects of your mercy, whom you have prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom You also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles. We shudder at the great patience you have shown to the objects of your wrath, and clap our hands over our mouth, resisting the temptation to talk back to you, “Why does God still blame them?” Because You, in Augustine’s words, “Give what You command, and then command what You will.” Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace we have been saved. For you will be proved just when you judge. Gratefulness for your mercy constrains us to live holy and blameless lives, as befits the beloved children of so gracious a Father. Oh to you be the glory forever, for from you and through you and to you are all things!Amen

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17 Comments on “About Me”

  1. Karen Butler Says:

    Mark Finger, oh dear! I inadvertently deleted your kind comments when I moved this into a page, instead of a post. Sorry! Thank you for your kind words, and really, the prayer is lifted nearly straight from Romans 11. The discussion on ianvincents blog, and the comments you made in particular showing the continuum toward self deception:
    …. a ‘fixation’ upon what is wrong
    …. leads to condemnation
    …. which leads to legalism
    …. which leads to self-righteousness and deceit

    Now, how your observatons helped my walK? They confirmed even more my determination to focus on what is RIGHT, and what has made me righteous: the cross of Christ! Such safety there, under its shadow.

  2. Mark Finger Says:

    You wrote: “… the prayer is lifted nearly straight from Romans 11.”

    And I say, “Wise choice!”

    I have been reflecting further on this topic, myself (focus upon what is right): and how the scriptures instruct us to do so. Will be posting my thoughts on Ian’s blog in the next few days (as the discussion began there, I believe).

    Also, I am putting your blog in my ‘Links to Brothers and Sisters’ section under the heading ‘Evangelistic Grace’ … unless you object, of course.

    By ‘evangelistic grace,’ I mean that you have been called to herald the message of the gospel, Christ Himself, and His Way.

    Peace

  3. Karen Butler Says:

    Mark, sorry about the delay responding to your gracious comments. I have been distracted with grief.

    I am so blessed to be included as a link, especially in the area of “Evangelistic Grace”…what an honor to be seen as such a vessel. I have always viewed my ministry gifts as exhortation and encouragement, so it is thrilling to think of the Lord using this blog in that way. Thank you! I hope to visit your own blog soon. Apricots are in season, and are the new distraction…Blenheim jam is as near to heaven as we get in this world. We’re putting up lovely jars of it. Wish I could share some with you all!

  4. redeemedhippiesplace Says:

    Karen, what a beautiful testimony. Our God is such a good and great God!

  5. norcal Says:

    Karen:

    Not sure where in the blogosphere you mentioned Piper’s books being helpful to you on your way “out” and into Truth.

    My son’s been getting into Piper lately, and I’ve started reading his “The Passion of Jesus Christ”. Which of his books did you find helpful? Any others?

    Blessings,

    Norcal

    I use the pseudonym because I still feel called to my hyper-charismatic Latter Rain church until God calls me out. I feel I can be more effective for Him now if I stay by teaching and helping others that are questioning/getting their eyes opened. My full name’s in the e-mail I provided you.

  6. Karen Butler Says:

    Norcal,

    Thanks for stopping by! I understand the psuedonymn, and staying in the church–hoping we could help others to see the falseness of the teachings was a lot of the reason we stayed in, too. We knew we needed to protect our children when TB came on the scene; when the falseness of his life and “ministry” were exposed, and yet the youth leaders said something like this–doctrine isn’t important, forgiving and loving people is.

    I am going to answer your question about John Piper, later this afternoon, after we try to score some Grand Slams!

  7. Karen Butler Says:

    The grand slams were delicious and worth the ten minute wait; such a treat for my kids–we seldom eat out, because of our financial straits. So thanks, Denny’s!

    Norcal, I owe you a debt of gratitude as well, because you reminded me of that treasure on my bookshelf, “When I Don’t Desire God–How to Fight for Joy.” Just the title was liberating for me six years ago when I first got hold of it. I thought joy was some manifestation of the Spirit I was denied. I felt like a failure and the offscouring of the world because I struggled so much with depression and anxiety–no victorious testimony, ever. Always a struggle.

    With Piper I discovered the simplicity of the gospel. The sufficiency of it. I finally had hope because the book only pointed to Jesus, and the Scriptures, not to some necessary experience that was always denied me. The theme of the book is summed up here, “That is the mystery: We must obey the command to rejoice in the Lord, and we cannot, because of our willful and culpable corruption. Therefore obedience, when it happens, is a gift…” And he quotes Augustine, as I do here on this page, “Give me the grace to do as you command, and command me to do what you will! O holy God…when your commands are obeyed, it is form you that we receive the power to obey them.” Piper says the fight for joy is the fight to see. We use the Word, and prayer, and even the good world God created in that battle. We hate sin, and every lie that clouds that view.

    I am particularly glad to reacquaint myself with this book in order to recommend it to a dear one who feels a lot of the hopelessness and despair I used to feel, and share the comfort I was comforted with.

    Piper teaches a HOLY Christian hedonism; his ministry theme is “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” It has been torn from its Biblical moorings in the blasphemies of John Crowder, who has the chutzpah to cite Piper as a source of his peculiar philosophy.

    So thanks again for reminding me of this wonderful book!

    Now, I’m back to scrubbing the mold off my walls. Th.e rain has finally ceased, and I can open the windows. I saw your comments on M’Kayla’s blog and I’ll answer you once the chores are done!

    • norcal Says:

      Karen:

      Noted, with thanks.

      The battle against depression and seeking to eradicate through “experience” is one that my wife and I can relate to…a bit too much. Thank you for being so transparent and honest.

      I’m going to check the book out…to learn to walk more in these truths.

      Thanks again!

  8. Laurie Says:

    Thank you for this.

    • Karen Butler Says:

      You are so welcome! Thanks for visiting, Laurie! God has been good to me in the land of my affliction. I try to be open and honest about my struggles in order to encourage others, and give all the glory to God for the peace, rest, and even yes, joy! that He has given me.

  9. beky Says:

    i luv ya so much moms. forreal tho i thank god he blessed me – um an the whole world – by puttin ya on this earth. he was smilin when made you i kno this. thanks for showin an provin. XO


  10. Hi, Karen! Are you the same Karen who commented on The Gospel Coalition about a “Trunk or Treat” celebration? If so, your idea sounded like something I might be interested in copying. Thank you! 🙂 Do you have any pictures and/or resources that you could share with me? I would be starting from scratch!

    • Karen Butler Says:

      I am so pleased, Sophia! I posted the pictures on this blogpost, here, https://thenface2face.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/halloweens-darkness-can-be-scary-but/

      Take it and run with it! There is nothing more satisfying to me than teaching little children to run to Jesus when they are afraid, and that he is the only safe and comforting presence in an increasingly terrifying world. And that the church is a sanctuary, a hiding place for his people too, when they need help with their fears. That is why I am the 9 am Sunday School Teacher for the two year olds every time we worship, I want them to see my friendly smiling face, that will always be there for them when mommy and daddy drop them off, to teach them church is a good place to be. And to build relationships with their parents, as they see me with their children — it is a scandal to me that label slapped on two year olds –terrible! We simply cannot interpret their strange language of fear and anger. If any older wise woman wants to build a Titus 2 ministry, the pre-school Sunday school is a fruitful place to begin!

      But I digress somewhat. I love children, and will battle for their agency and safety. Please post a link for me over on that blogpage! I’d love to get inspired from what you do! My engineering husband has taught me to love “Continuous Improvement.”


  11. […] anyone medicalizing my mental illnesses. The voice I heard was Jesus’ and he saved my life. https://thenface2face.wordpress.com/about// — but some of you cessationists will probably agree with the psychiatrists that I was […]


  12. […] It is good to really just listen to those in crisis, and not to be overfond of your own rhetoric and presuppositions. What is important is that those feeling that particular terror that he prefers to call ‘mental illness’ and that I would term a *spiritual* crisis feel safe, and particularly in our churches. And that is my passion — that these kinds of sufferers feel safe and really listened to. Sometime in their distress, a body can speak in its own idiosyncratic language that disturbs the social order, and instead of being respectfully listened to, sufferers are treated with means that if they had any agency over their own bodies, they would vehemently protest. We must especially make a supernatural effort in these areas that sometimes can be holy ground. I think that if Dr. Murray would read my testimony, he would know what I mean by this: http://thenface2face.wordpress.. […]


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