Author Archives: peenerbutter

Road to Seminary | Retrospective

Everything was different when I returned to class in August of 2017. I began the history and doctrine sequence with Dr. Beckwith’s Patristics class. I started Greek with Dr. Todd and Pastoral Counseling with Dr. Bals. I wrote my spiritual biography for Dr. Gaston in Spiritual Formation as well. I continued to produce 4Memphis and commute to Tennessee each month. Janie taught preschool and piano. As is usually the case, we learned that we could live on less. The boys started public school in Trussville and settled into Christ the King thoroughly. Dr. McDermott, the Anglican chair at Beeson, had returned from sabbatical and made my commitment to Anglicanism official by enrolling in the certificate of Anglican studies program. I attended weekly morning prayer and Evensong services. I began the semester telling people that I had tried really hard not to become Anglican in response to the incessant denominational question that you hear daily at Beeson. By the end of the semester, I had acquiesced. I’m an Anglican. Janie and I officially joined the church and I attended the synod meeting in Atlanta for our diocese.

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Road to Seminary | Work

This post is the sixth of six posts about making our way to Birmingham, Alabama to attend Beeson Divinity School. 

A job is work but work is not always a job. That is true for anyone who does something that requires discipline. Artists work, even if they aren’t paid. For my kids, playing is work. When you think about it, you only get paid for a fraction of the work you do. If you don’t count mowing lawns, I took my first job making pizza at fifteen. I sold fried chicken at sixteen. I rented movies at seventeen and eighteen. I sold CDs at nineteen and books at twenty-two. I taught Photoshop after art school and entered the cartoon world a few months later. From that point on, I’ve been an independent contractor.

The Jimmy Neutron animation crew. I’m the goofball in the cowboy hat on the second row from the top, second from the left.

At first, this didn’t mean much to me. I made a great deal of money working on the Jimmy Neutron film in Dallas, Texas, so filing self-employment taxes with H&R Block was a walk in the park. When I entered the magazine publishing world at twenty-six, I was still single and had minimal expenses. It was when I got married and started a family that self-employment became a bad idea. Janie quit her job and I went from supplying half of a two-person budget to providing for all of a three-person household. I didn’t do this by getting a better job. I did it by starting my own business. That means you work but have no job.

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Road to Seminary | Church

This post is the fifth of six posts about making our way to Birmingham, Alabama to attend Beeson Divinity School

Here’s the story. In December of 2016, Janie and I made two trips to Birmingham to find a place to live. I could not go with her on the second trip, but she secured a freshly renovated 3 bedroom bungalow not far from Beeson’s campus. Things were moving right along until the landlord backed out. She wanted to sell the property before I would have finished school. We made a third trip and struck out again. We were getting desperate. In a panic, we connected with a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who was a real estate agent. She agreed to find some properties that might meet our needs and tour them over FaceTime with us. From what we could tell, the Cooper Avenue house would be fine. It seemed roomy enough and clean. It was at the top of our price range, but we knew that we weren’t going to do any better and get any closer to the city. We discussed, prayed, and discussed some more. I didn’t want to start 2017 without having a place secured and I couldn’t justify another trip to Birmingham. I signed the lease. It was done.

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Road to Seminary | Home

This post is the fourth of six posts about making our way to Birmingham, Alabama to attend Beeson Divinity School

“Daddy got applied to seminary,” Dillon chanted. I was still staring at my acceptance email from Beeson on the back deck when Janie and the boys got home. Our eight-year-old and his younger brothers had no idea what this would mean for them. Poor guys. Janie and I knew exactly what it meant. It was October 21st and the spring semester began on January 24. We had less than four months to sell the house, pack it up, and find somewhere to live in Birmingham. Less than four months to uproot our life and head into the unknown. God had brought us to this point, but surely this was too great a feat for even Him. That’s what I thought, anyway. 

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Road to Seminary | Beeson

This post is the third of six posts about making our way to Birmingham, Alabama to attend Beeson Divinity School

Before sharing the details about the email that changed my family’s trajectory, I need to share something about Beeson Divinity School. As I’ve already mentioned, I had received what preachers refer to as a “call.” That is, by faith I am convinced that the Lord has called me to the ministry of preaching. I have also already mentioned that with this call came a sense of responsibility to learn the Scriptures as best as I possibly could. The obvious first step here was to attend seminary. Because my Art Institute degree was an associates degree, I knew I’d need to complete my bachelors. The plan was to get as much experience in preaching and teaching I could until I was able to begin studies for a Masters of Divinity degree (M.Div.). This was going to be a long road but as I saw it then, I see it now: if God wanted it to happen sooner or quicker, he would have led me otherwise. That fall I enrolled in Union University’s adult learners program to earn a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Leadership (BSOL) degree. Classes began in January of 2011 and I worked hard to complete the 18-month program while being a husband, father, elder, worship leader, and self-employed graphic designer. It was a hard year and a half.

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Road to Seminary | Jackson

This post is the second of six posts about making our way to Birmingham, Alabama to attend Beeson Divinity School

The Bible is full of words people have received from the Lord. We read of Abraham for example. The Scriptures record a very brief account of this man’s life yet we often assume that we are familiar with its entirety. Ironically, we are introduced to Abraham in his old age. He was seventy-five years old when he received a word from the Lord in Genesis 12. It isn’t until some years later, well after he obeyed the first word, that he would be told that Sarah will give birth to his son (Gen. 18:9). We know very little of the anguish and doubt Abraham experienced in the interims between words.

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Road to Seminary | Faith

This post is the first of six posts about making our way to Birmingham, Alabama to attend Beeson Divinity School

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” – Genesis 12:1

Time has buried the thousand nuances of God’s word to Abraham. “Now the Lord had said…” Was someone other than Abraham there to hear this word or was it recorded from Abraham’s own testimony? Every saint longs to hear the “audible voice” of God. Are we to believe this man heard it with his own elderly years? Perhaps he was senile or schizophrenic. But it says it right there in the Bible, “Now the Lord had said…” It is as plain as day. If he were with us today, how would he recount the story? How did he tell his friends about it back then? How did he tell Sarah? Continue reading

A House Not Made With Hands

Janie and I have been attending Christ the King Anglican Church for over a year now. We were both confirmed into the Anglican Church on Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2018. As I continue to seek ordination while at Beeson Divinity School, I am learning a great deal about this tradition. As our rector (pastor) Michael Novotny is in Jerusalem attending the GAFCON conference, I had the opportunity to preach my first sermon as an Anglican. Continue reading