Thoughts on Jeremiah 29:11

What is Jeremiah really saying? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m sure we all know the verse.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We’ve all seen it on graduation cards and such. It’s such a wonderful and heartfelt message. A graduate opens it up and hears that God has plans to give them hope and a future and to prosper them. As the Church Lady would say, “Well, isn’t that special?”

The intention is good, but is the intention right? I can mean well giving a toddler a lollipop, but if that toddler has diabetes, I could be hurting them greatly. When we see this verse, we need to ask what is really being said.

Simple questions to ask. Who is the you? Who is God speaking to in this passage? What is the situation going on? Sadly, most Christians don’t ask these questions. They just do what’s known as the Baptist reading method of opening up the Bible and thinking it’s all about them and reading whatever verse they come to as a personal message from God.

What’s going on in this passage is Jeremiah is talking about the people that will leave Jerusalem for Babylon to be captives when God judges the city and lets the temple be destroyed. For these people, having the temple destroyed was the ultimate game over. God is done with us. There’s no hope. The covenant is broken. This is also why Jeremiah has passages about a new covenant.

Jeremiah is telling the people who are going into Babylon to stand strong there. Be praying for the good of that city. Ask God to protect that city. God is not done with them. They’re going to get to have another go at this. God will watch over them and bring them back.

In the middle of this is when we get this verse. The thing is that the overwhelming majority of people would never leave Babylon since they would be there around 70 years. Jeremiah is not speaking to them on an individualistic basis. He’s speaking on a national basis.

But does that mean that when we read this passage we just gloss over it? There’s no relevance to us? Not at all. Paul tells us that everything written was for us. Note that it was not written to us, but it was written for us.

So if I was a preacher who was preaching on this passage, what kind of thing would I say?

Probably something like this:

“I want you all to know that this passage might look nice on a graduation card, but that’s not what’s going on. You don’t know what will happen in your graduate’s life. They could go through incredibly hard times. They could go through wonderful times. You don’t know. They could get that card and die in a car accident the next day. Who knows?

What you can know is that when Israel went into exile, they would wonder if God was done with them. Had He abandoned His promises? Jeremiah is assuring them that this is not so. Regardless of how things look, God had made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to David, and He would bring it about.

In the same way, God has made promises to us in Christ. Though we will go through hard times, and they are promised to us, we can be assured that Christ will help us through them. He will honor His covenant to us just like He did to Israel. In the future, He will prosper us in the New Heavens and the New Earth and we do have hope in the resurrection of Jesus and the promise that what happened to Him will happen to us.”

By saying this, I have treated the historical context fair, I have not individualized it, and I have brought it to Jesus. We can trust in God that He will do for us what He has said. That doesn’t mean we won’t go through hard times. Let’s also remember to really study our Bibles and treat them with respect. Treat every verse in its proper context.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/19/2019: John Ferrer

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Abortion is often seen as a way of protecting women. Women have to be equal, so let’s protect their rights! What if it isn’t? What if abortion is the exact opposite? What if abortion is really a war against women?

What if we went further and said that abortion is one of the worst evils being done in our world today? As a commenter on my Facebook page said about this topic, he can’t believe that he has to go out and defend life. Many of us today are shocked that we have to do this.

What if there’s also more to the debate than just personhood? We can focus so much on the question of if the unborn are persons or not. Could it be that our energies could be better focused elsewhere than on this topic?

Our guest tomorrow holds to these positions. He’s done a number of debates on the topic of abortion and has extensive research on it. We’re going to be talking with him about all of this. His name is John Ferrer.

So who is he?

* SES – MDiv Apologetics w/ emphasis in Languages
* SWBTS – ThM & PhD – Philosophy of Religion, w/ Ethics minor
* Dissertation – “Body Ethics” (a study of our ethical responsibilities in, to, and through our bodies).
* Publishings with Christian Research JournalSalvo Magazine, Christian Apologetics JournalJournal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, and others.
* Debates with Matt Dillahunty of “The Atheist Experience,” and with David Smalley of “Dogma Debate.”
* I have teaching experience with Texas Wesleyan University, Tarrant County College, Pantego Christian Academy.
* I host two teaching websites: IntelligentChristianFaith.com and AbortionHistoryMuseum.com.
* Currently I’m a teaching fellow with Equal Rights Institute, a pro-life training group in Concord, NC.
* I also volunteer with Pella ProLife and Central College Students for Life.

We’ll be talking with him about many of these experiences and about why he’s involved in the pro-life cause. Why should we care so much about the topic of abortion? What is his experience like getting to debate with Matt Dillahunty and David Smalley?

We’ll also be talking about the current work that he is doing in the area of abortion and apologetics and the abortion history museum. What is the history of abortion? Does it really kick off in 1the 1970’s or is there a whole lot more that we need to know about beforehand? We can also discuss about the question of bodily ethics and ask how abortion relates and what it is we are supposed to be doing with our bodies?

I hope you’ll be listening in. Very soon we will be updating the podcast feed to get some new December episodes up and then we can start looking at episodes in January about the topic of abortion. Please consider going on iTunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I really love to see what you guys think and to realize how much you enjoy listening to the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Atheists Who Don’t Care About Arguments

What does it take to convince an atheist? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of mine on Facebook started a thread asking for a quote by someone indicating they need an experience to believe God exists. This is not knocking experience. It happens many times that experiences that are a divine encounter change someone’s mind. My problem is with saying that has to be the requirement.

Also, not all atheists are like this. Some of them are people who have reasonable discussions and look at the evidence. However, if you are an atheist who says you will only change your mind if you have an experience, then you are not a reasonable person. You’re just not.

After all, if you engage in a debate with me with that kind of attitude about the existence of God, what you are telling me right at the start is that your mind is not open to being wrong. If evidence cannot convince you that you are wrong, it is not evidence that your position is based on.

You also should not deny any Christian who is a Christian based on their experience. If an experience is a valid argument for you, it is a valid one for them. You can question the experience happened or their interpretation, but you should be consistent and let it be a valid basis for them.

So what kind of statements do I have in mind?

How about a start with Jerry Coyne and keep in mind, he says this evidence is tentative. One wonders what conclusive evidence would look like.

“The following (and admittedly contorted) scenario would give me tentative evidence for Christianity. Suppose that a bright light appeared in the heavens, and, supported by winged angels, a being clad in a white robe and sandals descended onto my campus from the sky, accompanied by a pack of apostles bearing the names given in the Bible. Loud heavenly music, with the blaring of trumpets, is heard everywhere. The robed being, who identifies himself as Jesus, repairs to the nearby university hospital and instantly heals many severely afflicted people, including amputees. After a while Jesus and his minions, supported by angels ascend back into the sky with another chorus of music. The heavens swiftly darken, there are flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, and in an instant the sky is clear.

If this were all witnessed by others and documented by video, and if the healings were unexplainable but supported by testimony from multiple doctors, and if all the apparitions and events conformed to Christian theology—then I’d have to start thinking seriously about the truth of Christianity.” Faith vs. Fact p. 118-119

Or Peter Boghossian. In his Manual For Creating Atheists he says that if all the world went outside at night and saw all the stars in the sky spell out something like “I am YHWH. Believe in me,” that could be suggestive. He doesn’t rule out that we could all be experiencing a mass delusion.

Bill Maher is reported to have said that if he thought he heard God speak to him, he would check himself into a mental institution and so should you. If this is accurate, then we have someone who argues that God does not exist. When he has an experience that could be evidence, he denies it.

Richard Dawkins in this video starting around 12:30 is asked what would it take to convince him God exists. In the end, he says nothing. There is always some other explanation and he admits this goes against the grain because he has always paid lip service to the idea of following the evidence where it leads.

Note that it’s lip service.

Now Christians can be sadly just as resistant to evidence, but it’s often atheists that are priding themselves as being people of reason. The problem with this is that if reason does not change your mind, your mind is not based on reason. Again, this doesn’t apply to all atheists, but if this is you, you’re not a genuine debater or reasoner. You are debating with a Christian wanting them to change their mind based on your arguments, all the while saying you will not change your mind based on their arguments.

This is just a small sample of quotes. I have no doubt that if I wanted to do a more in-depth project of this, I could find many more quotes. If you have some, feel free to share them with me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

God Is Not A Trivia Question

Does God want you to know He exists? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A common refrain I often hear from skeptics online is that if God wants us to know He exists, then He could do a better job. Why not just show up and let us all know? The problem with this approach is it really treats God like a trivia question.

Imagine if every morning my wife got up and said to me, “Honey. I want you to know that I know you exist.” Well, geez. Isn’t that special? That doesn’t really touch me at all. I’m instead wanting to know, “Yes. But do you really know me? Do you want me? Do you love me?” The answer to those is yes, but that’s what a spouse wants. A spouse doesn’t just want their existence acknowledged. They want to be wanted.

I think this is what God wants. He doesn’t just want people to know that He is there. He wants people to want Him and He appears to those who really do want to see Him. (Keep in mind also that the last time God showed up among us, we crucified Him.) God wants to be wanted.

The book of Job has a section in the middle talking about mining and what a hard job it is. Why talk about this in the middle of a book about suffering? It’s because those who really want gold and silver will do the hard work and face the risks of mining in order to get those precious metals. Those who want God and really care about Him will do the work.

If we treat God like He’s just a trivia question and the question is if He exists or not and that’s it, then we’re not really going to find the answer. If we really do care, we will work and try to do the answer. This isn’t to say that anyone who is agnostic or atheist right now just doesn’t really care. They really could. I think biblically that there are only three types in the world.

Those who are not seeking God and will not find Him.

Those who are seeking God or will seek God and will find Him.

Those who have sought God and have found Him.

This must be a real and diligent search. It can’t be a half-hearted thing. A person must really be willing to throw themselves into it. Truth must be worth it even if it costs dearly.

There’s a story about a boy who came to Socrates one day wanting to know how to get wisdom. Socrates took him by the hand and walked him out into the ocean with him. When they were about waist deep, Socrates took his hands and pushed the boy under water. After about half a minute of the boy flailing and struggling, Socrates let him up and the two walked back to shore. The boy began swinging his fists angry at Socrates and Socrates calmly asked, “When I was holding you under, what did you want more than anything else?”

“I wanted to breathe!”

“When you want wisdom as much as when you want to breathe, you will get it.”

People who ask the God question this way will not find the answer because they don’t really want it. One good indicator of this is to ask them if they read any scholarly works on the topic that disagree with them. Those who are really searching will do that, search.

God won’t show up for your game of trivial pursuit. If you want Him, He is there waiting. If you don’t, He will let you go your own way. Your choice.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Impossible Love

What do I think of Craig and Medine Keener’s book published by Chosen books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re married, do you remember dating your current spouse? Like so many relationships, there were barriers to overcome. There are many events in life that can present so many challenges for a couple just to spend time together. We’ve all seen them.

Take my own relationship. My wife and I had it so that one of us had to travel about 250 miles to get to go on a date together. What a burden! Or take the Keeners! They had to overcome divorces from previous painful marriages, international war, and travel through a war-torn region where you had to eat bugs and scrounge for food and water to survive.

Okay. Now that I think about it, those two aren’t exactly comparable.

This is the love story of Craig Keener and his wife Medine. I have had Craig on my podcast before and he is a real individual. He has responded promptly many times when I have emailed him about something and reading this was a fascinating look into his life.

When I read this, I saw someone who strove to please God, but many times was broken and insecure. I suspect that that played a part probably in his diving into scholarship and producing excellent works, but it didn’t change that there was something he was lacking in his life, which I remember from my own experience, a woman to love.

Many of us who know Craig have not got to know his wife Medine, and yet her story is fascinating as well. You get introduced to Medine’s family and her parents in the book are such incredible people especially. Many people who complain about suffering and evil today can’t begin to imagine what Medine and her family went through and yet her parents had more faith and joy than many of us do today. We are truly a shameful people.

I cannot tell much about the story, but it involves Craig meeting Medine when she came to America as a student and never losing touch with her. Always there was a physical and romantic draw between the two of them, but both of them were hesitant. Also, many people around them were making prophetic statements about their lives and they inevitably led to the two of them coming together.

That being said, I do have this concern about that in that so many people might come away as we often do today thinking that this is how it should be for all of us. We should all receive messages of prophecy telling us who we are to marry and thus make the right choice. I doubt the Keeners would agree with such a sentiment. I think sometimes there are some individuals that need a specific spouse for a specific task and God does the work to bring them together, but I don’t think that’s the case for everyone.

One addition I thought would have helped would to have as much as possible a timeline of what happened. I was wondering when the events took place and one clue I did find was when 9/11 was referenced. Most of us don’t know about when a Civil War hit the area of the Congo. I am sure the Keeners did not take explicit notes of when everything happened, but some idea of chronology would be helpful.

This story is incredibly touching and will leave you thinking of the love that you have. It’s also helpful for those who often are perceived as living in the ivory towers to come out from time to time and speak to us on their own inner lives. It is good to know Craig the scholar, for instance, but it is better to know Craig the man, and now I have a deeper knowledge of his wife as well.

Congratulations to the Keeners on their impossible love and may all who read this be blessed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Everyday Glory

What do I think of Gerald McDermott’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What does the world tell us about God? Quite a lot actually. In this book, Gerald McDermott seeks to open our eyes up to the realities that are all around us. We have lived in a world long enough where we take the world around us for granted and don’t really consider the revelation of God that is there.

As much as I am Protestant, this is also our problem. We, and I think rightly, say that Scripture is the final authority, but too often we make it the only authority. Thus, why do we need to look at the rest of the world to learn something about God? Why study natural theology at all?

McDermott urges us to avoid this way of thinking. The world is not an accident. God made it the way that He did for a reason. If we want to truly learn about God, we can learn about Him from the things He has made and ask why He has made things the way that He has.

To be fair, He does have a chapter on the Bible itself, but He encourages us to look for Christ everywhere in the Bible. Reading a chapter like this can help you to approach the Bible with new eyes.

From there, McDermott takes us to many other areas of the world around us. What can we learn from science? In this chapter, you’ll probably find many of the things you find in books that talk about scientific apologetics. Still, those who like that will be helped.

Animals are another aspect that are covered in the book. In this chapter, McDermott focuses on two specific animals. Those would be birds and dogs. Both of these are talked about in Scripture, and it’s interesting that dogs are talked about in a negative light.

Sexuality is another aspect that is discussed. What is it about sex that has captured our wonder so much? As I said on a recent podcast I did, we live in a world where we have all manner of new technologies and such to keep us entertained. What still holds our fascination? What God made back in the very beginning. Nothing can still compete with sex.

Sports are also included. Sports are a non-necessary part of reality and they are creations by us, but yet they also come with a number of rules and teach us a number of values. I found myself wondering in this chapter if the same could apply to video games, which I think it could, or even movies and things like that.

There’s also a section on other religions. It would be a mistake to think they get everything wrong. What can we learn from other religions? How are they similar? How are they different?

This isn’t every chapter, but it is some of them. There’s also an appendix dealing with the views of Barth and Luther on natural theology. McDermott makes a fine defense for his position.

I think this is a very helpful book to read. Reading this can help you look at Scripture and the rest of the world differently. It’s a way of analyzing reality to see the fingerprints of the creator in everything.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On Young Death

What do we think when someone young passes away? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was going to do another book review, but last night I was looking over a Facebook page dedicated to my high school class’s 20th year reunion coming up. In a thread, I noticed comments about people we had lost. Three of them I was unaware of. Two had been lost to sickness. One died in a car accident. A final one went the awful way of suicide.

It was sobering.

I suspect when we get together for our reunion, we’re going to have fun and enjoy each other, but imagine getting out the yearbooks there and looking through and realizing “Oh wait. They’re not with us anymore.” There will be a fog of sadness hanging over the area then, and there should be. We live in a world where this just isn’t supposed to happen.

Sickness does come, but sickness is supposed to take us later in life. People in their 20’s aren’t supposed to die of diseases. Right? We all know it happens, but surely it won’t happen to us or to someone we know. Right? Well, if it happens to someone, there’s no guarantee it won’t.

What about a car accident? I have been in some of them. Last May, my wife and I were in a major accident and I still think I could have lost her. Think about how innocent it is. We all get in cars most days of the week and assume we will reach our destination safely, which is understandable. Most of the time, car accidents don’t happen.

This girl who died in this car accident I am sure got in the car with her life ahead of her with plans for the day and for the future. Those plans were tragically cut short. Life will never be the same. As I say this, my wife is out with her Celebrate Recovery sponsor. I saw her go off and I kissed her beforehand, but I realize I have no guarantee of ever seeing her again. It’s also another reason why whenever I leave the house I always tell Allie I love her and wait for her to say it back. If anything ever happened, may the last words we said to each other be “I love you.”

And then finally, suicide.

That dark path.

I say this married to someone who has had suicide attempts. I’ve even seen her after one. I easily count it the worst day of my life.

I read that this suicide from our high school class took place 12 years ago so either 2006 or 2007. If so, I remember what I was doing. I was preparing to move into an apartment so I could assure my parents I could handle living in Charlotte for Seminary. I moved to Charlotte on September 30, 2007.

While I was looking forward to a bright future, someone had decided they had no future. While I had a passion I thought worth living for, someone had decided there was nothing worth living for. While I was enjoying the gift of life, someone was considering it a curse and took theirs away.

Tragic indeed.

As a Christian, this hits home to me. For one thing, the resurrection tells me that all of the sufferings we see will be reversed. Someone might only live this time to their 20’s, but in eternity, they will live forever. The question then becomes how will they be living forever. Will it be eternal living or dying?

It also impresses on me the importance to tell people the good news of Christ. Now I’m not telling you to ram the gospel down someone’s throat so much that you’re annoying. I am telling you to try to be a bit more forward, and that goes for me as well.

And how will we spend this time? Do you think someone will look back and say “You know, I am so glad I didn’t waste so much time in my life telling my family I loved them.” I doubt they will say “If only I hadn’t gone to my son’s baseball game.” “If only I hadn’t had that romantic evening with my husband.” “If only I hadn’t taken my wife out for dinner that evening.”

The reality is, we take these things for granted too often. As a nerd, you might hear me talk about my wife a lot, and I think might doesn’t need to be in that sentence even. I never thought I would have anyone and I spend so much of my time celebrating that fact. I’m still amazed when I go to sleep at night and crawl into bed next to my wife. As I type this, I have pictures of her in here and I look at them spellbound thinking that I am the only man that gets to truly love my wife.

The people you have in your life, they’re not burdens. They’re not problems. They’re not annoyances. (Okay. Sometimes I can be annoying, but that’s different.) They’re people in the image of God. C.S. Lewis was right when he said next to the sacrament, your neighbor is the most holy sight you see.

Sometime this year, I anticipate seeing people, some of whom I haven’t seen in twenty years, again. Who knows how many people might be at a 25th reunion? Will we lose some? Perhaps. Should I treasure those that show up? Indeed.

Should I treasure those around me right now?

Should you?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/12/2019: George Brahm

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the rules of debate often is that whoever controls the meaning of the words has an advantage in the debate. It’s why in a number of debates I’m involved in, I try to be very careful with my words. I will say “redefining marriage” instead of “same-sex marriage” for instance to not even begin to concede an inch of what I think is inaccurate.

So it is in abortion debates. To be fair, both sides tend to do this as I think it’s really human nature. Yet we do need to be aware of what our opponents are doing. Are any word games being played that we should know about that can harm our endeavors to save the lives of the unborn?

We also need to learn metaphysics for this, which is another area of word games. Too often, our opponents define metaphysics as simply being nonsense. What is metaphysics really? Does everyone have a metaphysical viewpoint or is it just Christians? Is a lot of this stuff a bunch of nonsense that ancient philosophers might have believed, but it is no longer sustainable in a modern scientific worldview?

To discuss these matters, I have brought on someone new. I decided to bring someone who is climbing up the apologetics ladder and I want to give some more exposure to like others have been doing and are doing for me on my climb. I have seen some of his writings on the topic and they are quite good. Not only that, he also affirms the virgin birth, which I do affirm. His name is George Brahm.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

George Brahm is an undergraduate student of philosophy based in Canada. He focuses on metaphysics and the philosophy of language, with additional interests in bioethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of religion. His current research focuses on the relationship between time and personal identity. (And he affirms the virgin birth.) (Which I also affirm)

So we’ll be talking about the concept of abortion and how it relates to the debates above. What evidence do we really have that the unborn is a human person and should be allowed to live? How can we best phrase the issues to be most persuasive in the public square? When our intellectual opponents are speaking, what do we need to be on the watch for? Hopefully, we will all learn from this the behaviors we should be using in order to make a better case for the pro-life position in the marketplace of ideas.

I know that it’s being slow to get new episodes up, but that is being worked on. I hope you will be patient as there is a lot going on here at the time. Please do be watching for it as I am doing what I can to make sure they come up. Also, please go on iTunes and leave a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast since I really love to see them all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Seven Signs That God Has Someone For You

What do I think of Wes Raley’s book published by V Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Ah. Marriage. I remember the days when I was single which looking back now after eight years of marriage seem like a distant memory. If you asked me what it’s like to be a bachelor now, I honestly couldn’t tell you. My life has been so radically changed by marriage that I can’t imagine going through life without my Allie by my side.

But I do remember that when I was single, it was the constant cry of my heart to have a woman to share my life with. If you had told me on July 24, 2009, that a year from then I would be standing at an altar pledging lifelong love to a woman, I would have laughed in your face most likely. Not going to happen. No prospects. Women just don’t want a nerd like me.

Now I try to encourage other men who are single and in the same boat in many ways. Some are older than I was when I married. It’s a hard path. So when I saw Wes Raley’s book being advertised in Kindle email deals and advertised for free, I had a lot of red flags. I’m very cautious about people talking about signs and the like, but I thought I would check it out. Free after all. Right?

Fortunately, it’s a short book. I had it read in an hour. I can say I am thankful Wes found someone and that he is writing to help others who have the same struggle we both had at one time. That being said, I don’t think his book treats Scripture properly and thus will not help and could do more harm than good.

My wife and I both know people who wanted to find that special love in their life and never did. We are speaking about people who are already dead. I try to encourage guys they can find someone, but I do not seek to speak for God.

I also don’t think there is anyway from Scripture to know the mind of God in if He has someone for you or not. I also think it’s false to talk about that special only one that you need to find. For most people, I think there are a multitude of people you could marry in the will of God. Here are some requirements to look for. They have to be someone who is a Christian and someone who is of the opposite sex and someone you can live the rest of your life loving and they can’t be a close relative.

If we go with the one that you have to find, that leads to chaos. Suppose you marry the wrong person. You’ve messed up then. No big deal. Right? Wrong. Not only have you married the wrong person, so have they, and what about the people you two were meant for? They can’t marry the right person so if they get married, they marry the wrong person and what about the people they were meant for? On and on it goes. Congratulations. You have screwed up God’s plan for humanity by your choice.

So let’s go through what Raley says.

He starts on a bad note by saying “Faith is often opposed by human reasoning.”

I’m not sure what other kind of reasoning we could use, but it’s not good to start with this kind of statement. It is true that Scripture says our faith does not rest on human reasoning, but saying it is not the foundation does not mean it plays no role in the structure at all or is often opposed to it. Many of you know that in my writings, I stress that faith is trust in that which has been shown to be reliable. If God has shown Himself to be reliable, it is quite reasonable to trust Him.

Raley then says that if our faith rests on anything other than God’s power, we risk living in a perpetual doubt to avoid being disappointed, but isn’t a life of doubt and unbelief already a disappointment? At this, I wonder what is meant by God’s power. I mean, I have faith that God could pick up my apartment complex right now and hurl us to the sun if He wanted to. He has that power. I don’t think that He will. I don’t think it so much that I’m not falling to my knees begging that it won’t happen.

I also think that our faith should not rest so much on what God could do, but on what He has done. He raised His son from the dead. It’s not about what God can do in my life. God can dispense with me at any time. It’s about what God did in Jesus and if God did what He did in Jesus, I can trust that as He said, He is working all things together for my good, even if they are not good themselves, as Romans 8 says.

Raley goes on to say that He believes God has written His promises to us on our hearts. Many people might think that that’s nuts, but it matters what God thinks and what He has promised. Indeed, what matters is what God thinks and has promised, but what Biblical mandate do I have to think that God has written His promises on our hearts? Scripture says His law is written on our hearts, but nothing about an individual mandate for our lives.

We move on through examples like Abraham. Yes. God did wonders in Abraham’s life, and while He can do such, we have no basis for thinking that we will be treated like Abraham. God spoke to Moses, but not to Joe Israelite wandering in the wilderness, and there were plenty more of them.

When we get to Scripture, it starts with James 1:5. If you lack wisdom, ask God who gives generously to all? God doesn’t want us guessing! What could go wrong? I mean, maybe, and let’s just take a purely hypothetical situation, you could say that this verse gives you a basis to go out in a field and kneel down and ask God what denomination you should join. What could go wrong?

What’s really going on in James? The wisdom being asked for is not something about personal knowledge. It’s about understanding suffering. The church was going through suffering and James is saying if you lack the wisdom to handle suffering, ask God for it. He’ll give generously. It’s not treating God as a personal answering service.

By the way, if we go with this and we are supposed to say that God tells us that we are to have someone in our lives, what do I need seven signs for? If you need seven signs after that, that is not faith. That is a lack of faith. Gideon didn’t even need seven signs.

It’s not a shock that Raley also uses Jeremiah 29:11 about the plans that God has for us. Never mind that this was said to the nation of Israel and the you is the plural nation and this was a nation that was going into exile in a foreign land and most of them would not see these plans fulfilled in their lifetime. No. Just take it and individualize that.

Now we could interpret this and say, “Just as God knew what He was doing when He let Israel go through suffering, so does He know what He is doing when He lets us go through suffering.” We could then take passages like Romans 8 and show God will work this for our good. It is improper hermeneutics though to take this passage out of its context and apply it to us in this way.

Raley then goes to Romans 12:2 and says if we transform our thoughts, we can know God’s good and perfect will. Isn’t this a great promise? By renewing our mind, we can find out God’s will.

Well, no. The text doesn’t say we will find it out. It says we will know. Second, we have to ask what is meant by will. Let’s suppose God has willed a day when the return of Christ will take place. Does this mean if I renew my mind, I can know that day? Doubtful. Does it mean I can even know the day God intends for me to die? Also doubtful.

What it means is the moral will. I can know how I ought to live rightly in relation to God and my fellow man. It is again bad hermeneutics to read individualism into the text.

Raley says believing God has the best in mind for you is the starting place of discernment. No. The starting place is to learn how to think properly in your mind and then apply your thoughts to Scripture rightly.

I do not want to list the seven signs really. Why? Because I still realize he wants to sell books and I don’t want to spoil a plot. It’s free for now, but maybe it won’t be in the future. I will speak to some bad Scriptural usages.

Raley uses Psalm 37:4 about trusting in the Lord with all your heart and He will give you the desires of your heart. Yet is this verse talking about that? In the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, John Walton says about this passage that in the Ancient Near East, this was about seeking God’s answer on a particular omen. It wasn’t about one’s own desires but about a specific desire.

Raley also uses 1 Kings 19:11-12 and Elijah and the still, small voice. It’s interesting that no one ever records anything this voice said. Maybe it wasn’t a voice but a gentle wind instead. Also, when this was done, Elijah went and spoke to God and God spoke to Him. This was not in a still, small voice. This was also one time in the Bible. If Elijah’s experience is to be mandatory for us all, perhaps it’s also mandatory for us all to expect a flaming chariot to take us to Heaven or to be able to expect fire to rain down from Heaven on our enemies at our command.

Raley also asks that if we ask God for this and we feel peace in our heart and confirmation, not to ignore this. Again, this brings us back to something like the Book of Mormon which uses the exact same test. Many times if we are making the right decision, we will NOT feel peace about it. The right decision can be scary.

 

At one point, Raley uses James 1:17 about every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above. Yet keep in mind Paul says there was given to him to keep him from being conceited a messenger of satan. Paul pleaded for this “gift” to be taken from him, but he was told it was for his good and Paul gave thanks in the end.

Raley is right that in Matthew 7, the Father wants to give us good gifts, but the gifts there given are staples of everyday living. I might as well say “A billion dollars would be a good gift. Surely God wants to give that to me.” There could be any number of reasons God doesn’t bless me financially. There could be any number of reasons God doesn’t give someone a spouse.

Finally, we are told to trust in God’s love for us. This isn’t a sign, but I definitely agree. If God blesses us with a spouse, rejoice. If He doesn’t, rejoice also. If God gives you one, it is for your good and theirs. If not, it is also for your good.

In the end, none of this is backable by Scripture ultimately I think and works better with our individualism in the church. I fear someone could get this and get false hope as well as start making Scripture more all about them. If you want a spouse, just go out there and seek one, but still live your life and serve God the best that you can where you are. Please don’t take Scriptural promises out of context and make them about you. We have too much of that today in the West already.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Pillow Talk

What do I think of J. Parker’s book published by HHH books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

J. Parker has been on my podcast before and I follow her blog and so when I found out she had a new book coming out, I asked for a copy. I thank her for agreeing to send me one. I was pleased to get this copy and thought it worth the read.

Here’s an advantage for many busy couples. This book is short. I managed to read it in a day and that’s a day with me playing a new game on our new Switch, having Mormon sisters over, and watching a movie with my wife in the evening. Couples who are trying to make time for each other will be able to make time for this book.

Beyond that, here’s another bonus for those couples. You don’t have to read it all at once. There is an introduction Parker wishes to have you read together. After that, feel free to jump around. Maybe you don’t need the chapter about dealing with menopause now or the chapter about children. That’s okay. You can look and decide which one is most relevant to you and go there.

Each chapter beings with a short little couple of paragraphs. None of these goes beyond even a page that I remember. They are short and easy to read. From there, there are a number of questions that Parker has for the couples to ask. These questions are to be asked to one another and they are to be interacted with.

Parker also has relevant Scripture for each one and a little devotional thought beyond that based on the Scripture. This is followed up by a prayer the couple is to pray together and then the part that most of the guys especially look forward to. The activities that you are to do together. Guys could be disappointed that none of the activities are “Just have sex” but the activities can be things that are a prelude for such activity and meant to make matters more comfortable for both parties.

There are also some appendices at the end. These go into the differences between male and female bodies and how they work as well as highly sensitive topics. Much more a problem for the men, though a problem for some women as well, is the issue of pornography. Rightly so, Parker is to the point on this issue. Get rid of any pornography whatsoever.

There’s also a section on a problem that is more common for the women today, though it happens to men as well. That’s abuse, especially prevalent to be talked about today in light of the #MeToo movement. Parker is once again right in encouraging therapy together to get past sexual abuse so it doesn’t hamper sex in your marriage.

So in the end, what’s not to love? You have a good and short book filled with valuable advice for couples that covers 40 different topics. The activities can also be very enjoyable for couples to do together to get to know one another better and if it works, well, let’s just say I think most every couple will agree that the benefits are well worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters