Happy Fourth of July

What are we going to celebrate today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, many of us are going to go to celebrations and barbecues and watch fireworks go off. For us, we’ll be going to see my in-laws today. We could be watching a movie with them on Netflix or something like that as well. Normally, it’s a war movie. I don’t really care for those as much, so I usually have my DS with me.

Anyway, it’s easy to live and celebrate today and be unaware of how we got to this point. This is something I usually have a problem with many of my fellow Christians about. We go to church and talk about the suffering we face today often blissfully unaware of the suffering the early church went through and we think that it’s all about us.

Today, you have freedom in America, and that freedom does not come from the government as we so often think. Government does not give you rights. If you have anything that is yours by virtue of being a human being, then that is a right. No government can truly take it away, although they can surely try to get in its way.

Enjoying those rights is where freedom comes in. You came to be able to enjoy those rights because over 200 years ago, some people were willing to sacrifice themselves so that you could. They were willing to engage in an experiment never before tried in the history of the world. They took the ultimate risk standing against a powerful force of their day.

The sad reality for many of us today is that if it happened before our time, we don’t really see the point of it. There was a Facebook status I saw once, not on my feed but elsewhere, of a girl complaining about why we had to have the Civil War. It was just another thing to study. Absent to her apparently was that there was something worth fighting for in that war.

We have a great danger then that we will take freedom for granted today. Why shouldn’t we? We take so many other good things for granted. Right now in America, we have the freedom to worship together. How much longer? Look at the people in your life. Look at your spouse, your children, your family, and your friends. Take the time to appreciate them today. Many people risked and even gave their lives so you could get to do that today.

Of course, enjoy today. No one is saying to do otherwise. Others died so we could be free, but they wouldn’t want us to not enjoy that freedom. If you can shoot off fireworks and have a barbecue and be with loved ones, then that is a freedom that you have. Perhaps you might also want to even get out a copy of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and read through them some today. Take some time to remember what it is that makes this nation great.

Happy Fourth of July!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Of Games and God

What do I think of Kevin Schut’s book published by Brazos Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Dr. Schut’s book is an excellent one that I can easily say that when I got to the end, I was rather surprised. I hadn’t been keeping that much track. This is the kind of book I wish I had had when I was in high school and dealing with issues of doubt and such. I have seen enough damage done by people who are critical of the medium of video games but have not engaged with it.

For my part, I am going to turn 37 later this year and yet I still consider myself a gamer. My favorite kinds of games are RPGs. I am still bothered that I have not got to play Breath of the WildFinal Fantasy is another favorite series of mine and it’s my wife’s hope that somehow we can save up enough money or find someone generous so that we can get a Nintendo Switch so she can play the new Pokemon games.

Like me, Schut is also a gamer. He has seriously wrestled with the arguments on both sides. His favorite games seem to be ones like Red Dead Redemption and Civilization. He also does not deny at all that he is thoroughly committed to Jesus. So what does he say about the games?

Schut does say we need to listen to criticisms. Take time to pay attention to what is being said. At the same time, we should be hoping for critical evaluation and not self-righteous evaluation.

Also, we are living in an age where games are more and more common, including games on our IPhones and Kindles and such. Many people who would likely never play a video game have no problem playing something like Words With Friends for instance. There’s also games that are popular such as Candy Crush which has now become a gameshow, and Angry Birds, which has had its own movie.

He also speaks out against our attempts to Christianize everything. Something is not automatically Christian because it mentions Jesus. Many of us would say the Chronicles of Narnia are Christian, which indeed they are, but you will not find Jesus explicitly mentioned anywhere in them. Our Christian material is usually preachy and we’re very good at reaching ourselves, but not everyone else.

We also have to pay attention to what kind of medium a video game is. One noted difference is that it is interactive. No matter how many times you read The Lord of the Rings nothing new will happen. The story will be the same. No matter how many times you watch the movie, nothing new will happen. Every time you play the game, something different will happen. Of course, there can often be some overriding parameters set for you by the designers of the game, but you have great freedom and influence on the story. No two playings will be the same.

He also does get into the topic of a demonic scare. I was pleased to hear like me, he had a great interest in Dungeons and Dragons as well as Magic: The Gathering. For me, in high school, my friends and I didn’t care for the school lunch at all, so rather than have lunch, we’d go to the library and play Magic all afternoon together.

Unfortunately, too many people have brought into scare stories about such things. Consider the Pulling Report for instance. People who latch onto this do a disservice to those who play the games. Most people who are playing these games are for the most part the same as any other interest. It’s sadly the few that no doubt have other issues going on beforehand that are emphasized.

This naturally gets us into the question of violence in video games. Schut doesn’t shy away from this one, though he does say each person needs to evaluate this for themselves as well. It could be that part of our world is we live in a fallen world and sometimes violence could be what needs to be done. One aspect of this I was considering is that if I’m playing a game like Final Fantasy, one could consider reasoning with a human being, but if a hungry carnivorous creature is coming after me, reason will not work.

Another issue is game addiction. Games do have a tendency to draw us in, reward our achievements, and make us want to do more. There will be a little bit more on this later, but let’s discuss how it relates to addiction. Can some people get addicted? Yes. Still, there is no proven condition like this. Many people do learn to manage their time well. The question is not what do you do, but what do you not do? He also says a temporary obsession is okay. When Breath of the Wild came out, many of my friends were indeed engrossed in that for awhile. (And I hate them for it in a loving Christian way.)

What about sexuality in video games? It is only in the world of video games that a woman can go into battle wearing pretty much a bikini and count that as armor. Video games are usually a world dominated by men, but there are plenty of female gamers. (My wife is playing Pokemon as I write.) The representation on the other hand can be quite different. Women are usually eye candy. There are some exceptions, such as Samus Aran, but we only need think of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and the obsession with some people on finding a nude code for her.

Now to what I said there would be more on later when talking about addiction. What about education? Video games could be a great source of education. For instance, when I studied Greek in Bible College, we used a program called Parson’s Greek Tutor. I would like very much to get my hands on this again as the interactive format made it much easier for me to learn the material and at the time, I was moving ahead of the class even. Every round was a game and I wanted to get perfect and would settle for nothing less which made sure I learned the material very well. As one working on learning the language now, I look back and wish I still had that.

Video games can be used in such a way for us today. There is something real in the concept of edutainment. Ask a gamer about the information they need in a game and many times they will know it because they have to know it to play well. It is practical knowledge for them.

But what about concerns about the digital age killing our minds? To some extent, this is true. To another extent, the digital age is here to stay and we have to do the most with it that we can. Every new medium brings with it changes. The print medium brought changes as does the internet medium and the video game medium. It’s easy to strike at the medium instead of the human sinful tendency.

Schut also has a section on Christians in the video game industry. Many of these are dedicated people and want to do the best they can. They see their work as an act of service to God in trying to make the best game possible. There are few explicitly Christian video games, and this could be a good thing as sadly, many of those are just awful and only reach those of us who are already Christians. Abandoning the industry will only do for that what it does for Hollywood. We need Christians in every field being salt and light.

No discussion would be complete without the social aspects. I remember years ago getting together with my brother-in-law and some of his friends. No doubt, I was the youngest one there, but we spent all of one afternoon playing Goldeneye together. In Charlotte, I would get together with some friends every Sunday night. After some time playing Super Smash Brothers Brawl we would go bowling. When it came time for my bachelor party, all we did was bring the Wii over to a guy’s apartment complex who had a big screen and played Smash Brothers all night long together.

Games have had a way of bringing people together and uniting them. Gaming conventions are places where people can very often be themselves and form friendships easily. It could be that the gamer today is no longer the single guy sitting in his mother’s basement.

If you’re a gamer, you owe it to yourself to read Schut’s book. It is a gripping looking at a neglected medium and one that we need more of. I appreciate that he sent me a copy for review purposes and I look very much forward to interviewing him on my podcast about this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thanks To The Fallen

Are we taking the time to remember today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I could have done a book plunge today, but I will hold off for tomorrow. Today is Memorial Day after all, and I want to write something to honor those who are no longer here. It’s sad as I think about it that the people I want to honor the most with this post are the ones who cannot read it. Hopefully, those who can read it will live their lives in honor of the ones who can’t.

As I write this, I sit in my apartment without fear of death from opposing forces. I will drive to my in-laws with my wife today and I won’t be worried about driving through enemy territory and having to dodge bullets and such. I will have regular meals today and I will be able to get a hot shower this morning and sleep in a warm bed tonight. I will do all of this with my wife of nearly seven years by my side.

The fallen don’t have that.

They died in fact not sleeping in the beds that I do and woke up every day knowing they could be walking into enemy territory. They didn’t enjoy the meals that I am able to enjoy at home. Some of the men overseas might have had girlfriends that they were writing to back home. They will never get to marry those girlfriends. They will never be husbands or fathers or eventually grandfathers.

Those families will always have an empty chair at Thanksgiving. Christmas will always be a reminder of what was lost. Mother’s Day could be a day of sadness for some Moms as Father’s Day could be for some Dads. Children are supposed to weep at the graves of their parents. It’s not meant to be the other way around.

Why is this? Because there are some wicked people in this world. Because war sadly happens at times. No. I am not a pacifist. At the same time, war is not anything we should celebrate. It is a tragedy that it happens. It is a tragedy that the innocent die because of the sins of the wicked.

My wife has been working lately on being more thankful. On this day, should I not be thankful? Should I not realize that all that I have is a gift. Whenever I kiss my wife, I am doing something that some man will never get a chance to because of his early death. I get to enjoy a meal that they won’t and I get to sleep in a warm bed while they are in the sleep of death.

So if this is what is going on, then why are we celebrating? Why are we having barbecues today and not sitting around in mourning? Why? Because I think the fallen would want us to celebrate. They died so we could be free. They want us to celebrate and appreciate that freedom. Don’t think I say this for some benefit of my own. I don’t really care for food. I don’t eat burgers or hot dogs or any of that stuff. I’m just not a food person.

Still, the best way to honor a gift you have been given many times is to live enjoying it. Here we have been given the gift of freedom. That freedom has come at a price. Just visit a place like Arlington Cemetery and you can see the price of freedom. We should celebrate it, but not take it for granted. Every day we have is a gift. Every moment with our loved ones is a gift. Every blessing we have over here is a gift.

To the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and everyone else who has lost someone, my great sympathies for your loss, but also thank you. Thank you for helping produce someone of such a caliber in virtue that they were willing to die for people they would never even know. You have suffered a great loss. Nothing I say here could ever truly make up for your loss. Until eternity, there will always be a hole in your hearts missing that loved one, as it should be. They should never be forgotten.

And to those fighting right now and being in the service, today we honor the fallen, but let it never be that we forget your current sacrifice. I always try to thank a policeman or someone with military experience when I see them. I have the greatest respect for people who have lived their lives willing to take bullets, so the rest of us don’t have to live with that fear. When you in the military go out to fight our battles, remember the fallen and honor them with your service.

Happy Memorial Day everyone. God bless you and God bless our troops and may God honor the fallen.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Nintendo, Sega, and the Gospel

What do the console wars of the 80’s and 90’s have to tell us about Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend recently gave me a Kindle gift of the book Console Wars and I have started reading it. It’s all about the war between Nintendo and Sega in the 80’s and 90’s. Now I had always been a Nintendo guy. What made me get into Playstation also was just one thing. Final Fantasy. Reading through this book, I think back to my own growing up time and all the events going on behind the scenes that I had no idea of and the connections Nintendo and Sega had with other events that I was unaware of.

I also am thinking about the Gospel. Sega did take on a giant in Nintendo. Ultimately, we know that they eventually lost to the point that now they make games for Nintendo. Still, there is something we can learn here. If we’re in apologetics, how do we take on the giant of unbelief today? If your objection is that Sega lost the war still, then I remind you that there is no silver bullet in evangelism. Perhaps we can learn from where they succeeded and from where they failed both.

The usual reply I get to something like this is that using some sort of marketing technique will mean watering down the Gospel. Not at all. We do not need to change one thing about the Gospel. We need to say sin is sin and Jesus is Lord and everything else still. What we can do is change our presentation to better reach the people.

Part of this is finding out what drives the desires of the people. For instance, we can consider that we think a series that has a great actor or actress in it could sell well, but this doesn’t follow. The Crazy Ones had Robin Williams in it and yet it only lasted one season. The Big Bang Theory did not have an all-star cast at the start and yet it is just now finishing its tenth season. What did the latter have that the former didn’t?

We’re seeing a lot of superhero movies coming out nowadays. Why? What is it about superheroes that drives us so much? This also includes retro heroes. I went to see the Power Rangers movie as soon as it came out as an example. That is a series that has been going on for over twenty years despite the basic theme never changing. What is it about all of these that is the draw?

Music. This is one area I do lack a lot in. My taste in music is pretty much restricted to Weird Al Yankovic (the greatest musical genius of all time) and video game music. If I had to choose a decade, I would go back to the 50’s and 60’s. I consider too much of modern Christian music to just be light and fluffy. Still, why do people like the songs that they like?

As we come to understand people and what they like, we can come to learn how to approach them. If you go to an honor-shame culture and you give the Gospel in a Western way, you will not reach a lot of people with it. Describing God as a judge to them means He’s someone who can be bought off easily with a bribe. Talk about sin and they’re confused. Talk about broken relationship and dishonoring God and they will understand. In the same way, we have to work with our culture.

We often go on to the truth question immediately, but that might not be where they’re at. If it was truth that was the driving force, everyone would be going to the library regularly trying to study and learn. Perhaps we need to find out what drives the culture and how we can use that.

C.S. Lewis did this with the Chronicles of Narnia. Few little children would really go to a library and get a book about Jesus and study it, but in learning about Aslan, they found they learned about Jesus. Lewis managed to sneak past the watchful dragons of his day. If we present just an argument and have no reason for people to really care about the argument, then the fact is they will not care about the argument.

If you think I’m changing the Gospel, again, I am not. Christians have adapted themselves to the internet, social media, and any other new forum that has come along. My own ministry partner makes apologetics-themed cartoons on YouTube. The material he presents does come from scholarly sources. Again, few people will go out and read those scholarly sources, but having it in an entertaining format brings it to the people. The entertainment factor also makes a point of it. Several years ago Boss Tweed’s biggest problem was a cartoonist named Thomas Nast. Why? Because he knew people would not read articles against him, but they will read cartoons.

As we go into these other areas, we need to make sure we’re producing high quality material. If we make Christian movies and only Christians see them, we really haven’t done much. The Case For Christ movie recently has been a great exception to this. Even Richard Carrier said that it’s a good movie. There was no scene in it that you had the Gospel rammed down your throat. Too often in Christian films, we have thought we had to spell everything out because otherwise, the audience is just too stupid to catch on. It’s worth pointing out that Lee Strobel’s original book The Case for Christ caught on so well because he made it not just a book of facts, but a story with real discussions going on. We could argue that the Da Vinci Code did the same thing. Sure, the information was bogus, but the concept was the same. People started thinking about the claims of the book more and if we wanted academic discussions, that was a gateway to those discussions.

At this point, I’m still pondering how all of this will work out. The main point I have is to find the people where they’re at and start with what matters to them, why it does, and see how the Gospel meets that need. For instance, we can talk about the truth question all we want, but it’s not likely to faze a guy who is not becoming a Christian because he wants to keep having sex with his girlfriend. If you think that scenario doesn’t exist out there, you’re incredibly naive. What we can point out is that the Gospel has an extremely high view of sex (I find it amazing that so many non-Christians treat it as if just a biological function and physical activity alone and we’re the ones saying it’s so much more) and that if we go the path of Christianity and its rules on sex and marry with those, we can have a far better sex life than we would without. We are not opposed to his desire for sex as there’s nothing wrong with that, but we think that the Gospel has a much better way to appreciate it. Note that in all of this, I did not say that sex outside of marriage is okay. It isn’t. It’s just going to be convincing someone that they can hold off on something now so that they can appreciate it in a greater way later on if they marry.

Like I said, I’m still pondering. I’m only about a fourth of the way through the book and I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn. I’m taking Kindle notes regularly to try to see what steps were done that I think correct and what steps were incorrect. How did Nintendo successfully share their product? How did Sega not?

I appreciate any suggestions anyone else has on this. Consider this blog some thinking out loud as you will. This is not the final word on a conversation, but I hope it will not be the only one either. I prefer it to be the first of many here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Case For Christ Movie

What did I think of the film? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, Allie and I finally got around to seeing The Case For Christ. We had heard nothing but good things about it. In the past, I have been used to seeing Christian films that are cheesy and think that they have to shove the Gospel down your throat at one point in a super obvious way because, hey, otherwise you will miss it. Not so with this one.

I also know a number of the people involved in the story so that gave it an extra sense of joy. The story is indeed a fairly accurate one, though also at times I think holding back. Lee Strobel is a successful writer for a newspaper and he and his wife and daughter are enjoying their lives when through a series of events, his wife Leslie actually becomes a Christian. Lee, an atheist, finds his world torn apart.

One of the first thoughts he has, and this is extremely accurate for men, is that Leslie has gone and cheated on him with another man and that man is Jesus. He immediately thinks that somehow he was not good enough for her. Everything becomes a comparison between him and Jesus. Their marriage becomes all about the argument and gets darker and darker, though I do not think the movie could show the full level of darkness that was reached.

Meanwhile, Lee is also investigating a story about a cop that was shot. Alongside this one, the religious editor when hearing Lee complain about his wife says that if he wants to tackle Christianity and disprove it, the place to go is the resurrection. Might I say that it is wonderful hearing something like this? So many Christian movies hardly ever seem to make any significance of the resurrection. Many churches don’t in fact. Christianity is all about living a good life and the resurrection seems to be a nice add-on.

Lee asks him who the main expert to go to on the resurrection is and gets told to talk to Gary Habermas, which he does. At one point, there is some anachronism here. Habermas talks about his wife Debbie and how he wants to see her again, but that death took place much later than when the movie starts unless there was a lot of time skipped that I don’t know about which I doubt since it also has Lee’s son being born around this time.

It’s also excellent that many audiences are being introduced to this material for the first time. I find it fascinating that a movie can be made like this with a lot of scholarly input and actual information and yet still gripping. The story of Lee’s marriage, the investigation into the cop shooting, and the investigation of Christianity all started weaving together incredibly well.

I often thought the few other people in the theater could have thought that Allie and I were being rude. At some points, there was some mild laughter from me, but that was because I knew the answer that was coming and seeing Lee get caught flatfooted was a funny moment. I wonder what people might be thinking who were being introduced for this material for the first time.

What this shows us also is you can do apologetics and it can be accurate and it can be something enjoyable for the audience. You don’t have to shove it down their throats and it can be an enjoyable story. There’s also the real fact that just because Leslie accepted Jesus, it doesn’t mean her life is sunshine and rainbows then. It was a nightmare with she and Lee bickering back and forth. Our idea today is that Christianity will make your life better. It might do that, but sometimes, it can make it harder. You will have a much harder time in Iran if you become a Christian than if you do in the South in America. The question to ask about Christianity is not will it make your life better, but is it true?

If you want to know about the acting and such, I can’t really comment on that. It’s not the kind of thing I notice in a film or TV show. I’m sort of blind to that. I just look and ask if I enjoyed the film and what I thought about the content. In this case, this is a movie I am going to be wanting to get on DVD when it comes out. It’s a great one to watch and I hope more come out like it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Men. Avoid Porn.

How does a man best honor the women in his life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In my last post, I wrote something to the women. Now I’d like to say something to the men. First off, let’s start by clearing up the fear of many out there who think Christians are a bunch of prudes and don’t find any joy in sex whatsoever and it’s kind of a necessary evil. Not at all. Sex is a fabulous and awesome and wonderful gift from God, but it’s meant to be saved for marriage.

Now some of you might think “Well I will save actual sex for marriage, but I sure want to see the women beforehand.” That would be a mistake. A woman is a beautiful and glorious being. You really will be better off if your first time to see a woman is in fact on the wedding night or sometime shortly after (Since some couples don’t have sex on the first night due to exhaustion).

By the way, let me be clear on this. I know that there are many women who struggle with porn. I cannot really relate to your experience not being a woman. I don’t want to downplay what you’re going through so please don’t think I don’t care about your struggle. I just want to say something to the men today but hopefully, you can get something out of it.

Men. Porn is really a cheap way to go and it’s dehumanizing to every woman you meet out there. The desire for sex and to see the female body is not wrong. It’s something that’s built into us men. What you do with it can be wrong, but the desire itself is not the problem. It is a lack of control over the desire.

When you watch a woman in a porn video, you are watching someone created in the image of God. You are also watching someone’s daughter. This person doesn’t know you. They don’t care about you. You don’t matter. They’re not doing anything special for you.

The reality is you’re cheating every woman out there. You’re learning right there to treat women as objects and objects whose purpose in life is to meet your sexual desires. Again, there is a way this could be understood. One of the purposes of marriage in 1 Cor. 7 is to fulfill one another’s desire for sex. If you burn, it is better to marry. In marriage, this means essentially, make sure to have sex with your spouse regularly. That’s part of the covenant.

However, if you view porn, you learn to treat women as if they are simply bodies and nothing more. This isn’t to downplay their bodies, which were made to be beautiful, but remember that is the body of a person. That is a person to be loved and treasured for who they are. Sex is a way married couples express that love, but that love needs to be present. Actually, in a good marriage, it’s a wonderful spiral. Having sex builds up the love. Increase in love leads to having sex. Having sex then leads to more love. You get the picture.

Porn will also damage your idea of what healthy sex is like. This might sound like a shock, but sex is never really like what you see on the movies or on TV. Again, not downplaying it, but everything in media always works perfectly in sex. It’s not like that for most married couples. Things are wonderful, but they can be awkward and things can go wrong sometimes or anything else. If you have false expectations, it will damage the reality.

Also, it will take more and more to turn you on eventually. Pornography has you treat the unrealistic as it if was the norm. It’s not. There are sadly some men who have damaged their minds so much that they have to be looking at a porn magazine just to make love to their wives. Their wife is no longer enough to turn them on, and this is not a position you ever want to be in.

One of the problems is that for a man, if we are aroused, we feel like men indeed. If you want that, the best way to get the feeling of being the real man is to go out there and get a real woman. With pornography, you get the sensation of manhood, without any risk. You don’t have to put your manhood on the line by actually talking to a real woman. Sadly, this will also mean you won’t be able to as much fully enjoy the gift of real sex when the time comes.

When you get to that point in your life, you really only want to have your wife’s body in your head. Guys. We all have enough temptations. We know it. You see that girl in the grocery store or at the bank or that you work with at the office and your mind can quickly go to wondering what she looks like underneath those clothes. It’s a battle we all have to fight. Ladies. Even seeing pictures on Facebook can be hard for a man and not to mention women in the media. Even if you’re married, you still have to fight temptation. Marriage does not shut off temptation. (By the way wives, this is one more reason it’s also good to be sexual with your man a lot so that he can avoid temptation easier because he’s thinking so much about all the joy you bring him.)

If you want to beat this kind of thing, I recommend getting good accountability partners. Find a support group if you have to. A website like XXXChurch also has great tools you can use on your browser to block websites and that will send notifications to people on your list to let them know that you have been to those websites.

This applies even if you don’t ever plan to marry, but remember if you’re a Christian man, then you are also saying if you don’t plan to marry that you will be celibate your whole life. If you’re willing to live with that, more power to you. If you do plan to marry, why on Earth would you want to spoil your sex life by spending your time gawking at women that you will never get to be with at all?

(I would be amiss to point out that many women in the porn industry are also there against their will. Watching porn then can give more power to the whole human trafficking problem. Do you want to give an incentive for that as well?)

Sex is a pure and wonderful gift from God. Treat it the way it deserves to be treated as something sacred. When you get married, enjoy the gift as much as you can. It’s God’s gift to you. Until then, honor and respect the gift. Even if you plan on remaining single, you still honor sex by recognizing its proper place in marriage and not treating the women around you as objects.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Christians Should Care About A Snowflake Culture

Do snowflakes indicate that Christians in the West have some concerns? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Much of the news today concerns snowflakes. No. I don’t mean a story about global warming. I mean a story about especially people in high school who can’t seem to stand the thought of anything contrary to their opinion and have to have safe places where they will not be challenged in anything.

I don’t know what to call these people besides snowflakes. I know that chronologically, kids doesn’t fit, but what do you call people who for all intents and purposes are adults and yet need to be in a place where their opinions aren’t challenged and this in college where you SHOULD be having your opinions challenged? What do you say about children who need therapy dogs and coloring books not because of some serious major hardship, but because their candidate lost an election?

Unfortunately, the snowflakes didn’t just come out of nowhere. There came a time in our history when arguments mattered less and less and how one felt about the arguments mattered the most. In this day and age, someone can think they can refute the Old Testament by pointing to a commandment, saying “I don’t like it” and moving on from there. Never mind that you might actually want to attempt to understand the culture and see what was going on, but for many people, that’s not necessary. Being offended is enough to show that it’s wrong.

I have been engaging on Brent Landau’s post that I wrote about last week. It has been amusing to be accused of abuse when as far as I know, the worst crime I have done is telling people they’re spreading nonsense and don’t know what they’re talking about. What kind of nonsense? Oh, Raphael Lataster, David Fitzgerald, and Richard Carrier. Jesus mythicism is alive and well for internet atheists. What it tells me is these are people who care so little about the truth of historical Jesus scholarship, but when they’re called out on it, rather than defend the arguments, they try to take the moral high ground and play the victim. It’s a way to avoid “Okay. I don’t know how to answer this point,” and turn it into “You’re a mean person for arguing with me!” The subject becomes the objector then instead of the data itself.

Sadly, we Christians aren’t innocent in this. Why? Because we have bought into gentle Jesus meek and mild. Make no mistake about it that when it came to sinners seeking forgiveness and coming to Jesus in hope, he was meek and mild. Look at the Pharisees by contrast. Jesus was not meek and mild towards them. A meek and mild Jesus does not make a whip in the temple and clean it up. Jesus had a problem with these people and took them to task because their behavior and the claims they were making were hurting the people who were wanting to enter the Kingdom. Jesus was also sarcastic with them believe it or not. Consider when His disciples were picking grain on the sabbath. When confronted, Jesus said, “Have you not read about…..” We could get into the whole discussion of if Abiathar was the high priest at the time, but notice that Jesus went to the scholars of the Old Testament in His day and said, “Have you not read this?” It was a great insult. “Hey, guys. You’re supposed to know this stuff. Have you ever even read this passage?”

It’s been in more recent times that we’ve started to think contrarily. Now don’t get me wrong on this. There’s no need to unnecessarily offend someone. There are times where it will be necessary. In fact, if you give the Gospel, you will have to offend people. Seriously. You think people like being told they’re sinners living in rebellion against the King and that they will be judged if they don’t change? That’s a great insult to them, but it’s also true. My policy is if stepping on someone’s toes is the only way to get someone to move towards Christ, then watch out because I plan to stomp hard!

If people say they want to go the more peaceful route, I just like to ask them how that has worked for the homosexual crowd. We thought we could just have peace and give an inch. Now what has happened? The shoe is on the other foot and tolerance is no longer the big deal it was. When the homosexuals did not have the majority opinion behind them, they shouted out for tolerance. When they did have it, Memories Pizzeria was targeted and received death threats and had to have a GoFundMe in order to survive. Florists now lose their livelihood just because they’re trying to live by their Christian principles. How did that work out?

Now does that mean we should have been absolute jerks to the homosexual community? No. It does mean that sentiment is not always the best way. Love is sometimes tough and it is tough because it seeks the best for the other person. Love is not giving that alcoholic an extra drink even though he’s crying on the couch begging for one to end the pain. If you love someone, you will often see them go through hardships and hold back on giving them what they want.

With the snowflake culture now, it is harder and harder to get contrary thought into the minds of others. After all, who are you to dare to suggest that someone is wrong? If politically we can’t even get a conservative speaker to show up on campuses, how much harder will it be to get a minister of the Gospel to show up on these campuses?

I wish I knew a good solution to this, but many might be too far into it. The best I can think of is to teach our own children now not to be snowed by these arguments. Remember that the data is primary. Look at an argument. Ask what the claims are. What are the reasons for believing those claims? How good is the data for them? Does the conclusion follow? Teach them how to do good research.

Remember, walking like Jesus does mean being delicate to those who are sinners and are seeking a place of forgiveness and grace. It also means guarding them with a rod and protecting them from those who wish them harm. If you have only a hammer, everything does look like a nail, but if you have only a hug, everything looks like a kitten, even if it’s really a destructive tiger. A good shepherd knows how to use a rod to deal with wolves and a staff to lead the sheep both.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 2/4/2017: John Granger

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

Harry Potter has been called the boy who lived. His books came to America here in 1998 and the first movie came out in 2001. Since then, all of the books were best sellers and all of the movies were hits, the final book even having to be divided into two movies. He was either loved or hated, but Harry was the talk of the town.

That was, of course, several years ago. The craze then was Pottermania, and surely that was it. Harry Potter was fun for awhile, but then, like so many other fun things, the time comes to move on. His fame lasted for a time and it was no more and will be no more.

But the boy who lived still lived.

Last year, the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them came out as well as a book continuing the series twenty years in the future called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Based on sales, one would think that Pottermania had never died. The book was a bestseller and the movie was a box office hit. (I must confess, I have not seen the movie, but I did get the book for my birthday and read it in a couple of days.)

What’s the Christian apologetics community to do with this? Is this harmless fun? Is it actually a satanic plot that will get our children to fall into the clutches of satanism? Or could it actually be a story that is surprisingly Christian at the core? My guest, someone well read in the classics, goes with the last option. His name is John Granger. Who is he?

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Tagged “The Dean of Harry Potter Scholars” by TIME magazine’s Lev Grossman, John Granger has been the leading expert on the subject of the artistry and meaning of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels since the publication of his first book on the subject in 2002. The author or editor of eight books, ‘The Hogwarts Professor’ has been a Keynote and Featured Speaker at more than twenty academic and fan conferences, and spoken at twenty-five major universities and colleges. John has a Bachelor’s degree in Classics from the University of Chicago, a Master of Fine Arts ion Creative Writing, and is working on his PhD thesis at Swansea University (Wales). He blogs at HogwartsProfessor.com and podcasts at MuggleNet Academia.

What is it that has led Harry Potter to be such a phenomenon such that even years after the original series, the theaters and bookstores are filled with fans again wanting to see the latest on the boy wizard? What is it that actually makes Granger think that these are Christian classics? Are these not stories of witchcraft and wizardry which would be condemned by Scripture? Are there not many examples in the stories of Harry misbehaving in ways that we should not accept as Christians?

We’ll be discussing all of this and more so if you’re a fan of Harry, or you know someone who is, this will be a show for you. Please be looking for the latest episode. Also, please consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Can A Christian Have Depression?

Is it possible to be among the blessed and be among the depressed? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This topic seems to come up time and time again. It came home for us again when my wife wrote a blog post about what it’s like to have depression. When this was shared on her Facebook page, one of her friends responded. It was well-meaning I’m sure, but came across entirely wrong. There was a bunch of stuff posted about Word of Faith thinking and how God doesn’t want us to be sick but wants us to be healed and never taking medicine even for a headache or anything like that.

Now I have enough problems with Word of Faith nonsense. There is no shame in taking medication any more than there is in having a balanced diet, exercising regularly, taking a shower daily, or wearing your seat belt when you drive. None of these activities show a lack of faith. God is not meant to be your servant. You are meant to be His. Word of Faith thinking often treats God as a means to an end. The point of Christianity in it is not to be holy and reflect God, but to be healthy. (Perhaps there could be a parallel to how too often we think the point of Christianity is to go to Heaven when you die and God is only there as a means to get you there and Heaven seems to have little to do with Him.)

A lot of you realize Word of Faith thinking is horrid, but you can still wonder about depression. Isn’t a Christian supposed to have a life of joy? Isn’t a Christian supposed to be happy all the time? The answer to the first question is definitely yes. The answer to the second question is definitely no.

Allie’s friend told her that her thinking will really change the way she is. Now if this was all a lot of popular televangelists were saying, there wouldn’t be as much of a problem. There is a lot of truth to the idea that your thinking can change your attitude. What they get wrong is thinking that your thinking can alter all of reality. There is no doubt that you need to look to your own thinking and see what you can do about it. Are you telling yourself things that are true or just feel true?

This is one case where you seek good and outside help. These are also going to be beyond people who are yes men. These are people who will tell you hard truths if you need to hear it. I don’t mean random strangers on the internet. I mean people you know and trust. If you ask them a question, they will give you an answer and it might not be the answer you want to hear. Even if you disagree with their answer, you should always consider that their might be a grain of truth to it.

To get back to depression, Christians are supposed to have joy, but that does not mean a feeling. You cannot command anyone to feel anything really. If I could, I’d just make myself feel happy all the time. It doesn’t work. I found it interesting that the person who wrote to my wife pointed to Isaiah 53 where it says that He healed us by his wounds. They seemed to ignore the part above where it says He is a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. Yes. Jesus had sorrow in this life.

In fact, there are times where you ought to have sorrow. You are to mourn with those who mourn and that means being sad with them. If you have a loved one who has died, it is not proper to be having a celebration then. You need time to grieve. If you are married and your spouse is suffering, you will be suffering. If your child is suffering, you will likewise be suffering.

There are going to be times in life that are hard and rough. This happens. The last thing that any one needs in that time time is to have someone coming alongside them causing them further pain by questioning their faith commitment. It would be like pouring salt on an open wound.

Of course, the person who is depressed should do something about this. I am not one who condemns medication for this, but I think it can only do so much. Anyone taking medication should go see a therapist who is a licensed professional one. If you are not a therapist, by all means offer counsel to your friend, but don’t pretend to be a professional. If you don’t know what to say, sometimes, listening can be a great service. Just holding a hand and giving a hug can help. (And guys, if this is your wife, as hard as it is, now is not the time to get romantic. It might help you if you’re depressed, but it probably won’t help her)

It’s also important that a person in this case be reading to and listening to good Christian material that will encourage and build them up. Note I said good material. It doesn’t mean feel-good, but material that will build them up in truth and help them think properly through what they are going through. Even if your natural bent is to be more pessimistic, it doesn’t mean you have to live depressed. It will take time, but it can be done.

So what kind of joy is a Christian to have? It’s not a feeling, but more striving towards an attitude. This is the attitude that remembers that God is in charge of this world and all things pass through His hand. God is not against us, but for us. Romans 8 is a great passage for this. In fact, I think there’s a real danger in saying that Paul describes the experience in Romans 7 as the normal Christian experience. Romans 8 is more meant to describe our experience and Romans 7 what we would have been delivered from.

What about happiness? We often think of the feeling of happiness and the goal of the Christian life is in part to feel happy and feel good about ourselves. Sometimes, we should feel bad about ourselves honestly. We should see that we struggle with sin and seek to get rid of it and let that be an agonizing struggle. We should see that we do not love our neighbor as ourselves. One of the first ways of getting to feeling better about ourselves can ironically be to feel miserable first off.

When I was a single man, pride was a real struggle. It still is, but Allie by her very nature helps keep me in check. When I struggled with it then, I used to do an activity where I would go in my room and climb on the bed and close the door and think to myself. I would think about all that I’d done, all the praise I’d received, all the people that I had met, all the books I had collected, etc. I would be building myself up.

Then I would conclude by thanking God for everything came from His hand and I deserved none of it. That last bit always gave me the extra humility that I needed. No matter how good I thought I was doing in life, it was all a gift from God. It was not because I was just so awesome or anything like that.

If you’re not happy then, it could be for a just reason sometimes. It could be because you do realize where you are falling short. However, it is important to follow it up with the opposition to that. If I just went in my room and listed all the positives about just me, I would walk out feeling more prideful. No. I had to give the other side. So if you are depressed, you need to give the other side.

The other side is you are forgiven by the grace of God of all that you have done. The other side is that God is at work in you in the Holy Spirit. The other side God is working all things for your good as Romans 8 says. The other side is the future can be different than today and today is just one more day.

I would be amiss if in any of this, I did not say anything about suicide. All threats of suicide must be treated seriously. Never assume that they are joking or that they won’t follow through. They might not, but they may, and it’s best to error on the side of caution. A person might have to be hospitalized for a time, but a short-term separation is better than a long-term one. If you see this on Facebook now, Facebook has a way where you can report such material. Please do report this material.

Meanwhile, we should not treat suicide as the unforgivable sin. It is certainly a sin, but Scripture does not say yea or nay as to if it is unforgivable. This can put an extra burden on those whose lives have been wracked by suicide, and yes they are indeed. Suicide doesn’t remove the pain really. It just passes it on to those who are still alive. Cyanide and Happiness actually had a comic strip on this that really hits home.

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If you are depressed and it’s something that isn’t just a brief spell, please go to a doctor or professional counselor and get help. If you need to take medication for it, please do. There’s no shame in it. If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out right now and get help. There are ways to find that life is worth living again.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Pokemon Go and Evangelism

How will you handle kids coming to church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I happen to be an apologist as readers know, but I also enjoy playing Pokemon. My wife and I are eagerly looking forward to Sun and Moon coming out in November. Not only that, we’ve found some of our neighbors are also devout Christians and play the game. Unfortunately, they’re also moving away soon, but we’ve enjoyed their company for now.

Recently, a new version came out for smart phones called Pokemon Go. This would have been every child’s dream when Pokemon came out years ago. It’s going out into the world and catching Pokemon on an electronic device. What on Earth does this have to do with evangelism?

It has a number of things to do with it. First off, in order to get supplies and a few extra experience points, players have to stop at places called Pokestops. These are well-known locations like libraries and post offices and other landmarks in a town. Oh! Practically every church you come across will also be a Pokestop and you have to get right up next to it in order to get the bonus. Not only that, if you wait just a few minutes, you can get that bonus again.

Second, there are also gyms you can battle at. These are also located at landmarks including, yep, some of the churches. Not every church has a gym, but some do, and players from each of the three teams in the game seek to come and take control of the gyms and that will mean that they are indeed coming to the churches.

To see how this all works, my neighbor and I decided we would go out into town. My wife came along as his wife was working and we went all over town stopping at Pokestops and battling gyms. On the way, we had a number of good conversations and fun times together.

In fact, this Saturday before the podcast, my wife and I are thinking of going out to a park nearby for a Pokemon Go event. Yes. You’re going to have players coming from the Atlanta area all to a park where we will meet each other and interact playing a game. We will be out around noon in warm weather at a park as will many others.

You know parents how you’ve been wanting a reason for your children to get outside? It has come. In fact, your younger children who can’t drive will need you. Take this chance to spend time with your children!

Still, I mainly want to write about churches. What I recommend you do is have someone from your church download the game and look and see. Is your church a Pokestop? If it is, take advantage of this situation. I would like to emphasize some thought over at The Wardrobe Door and some I’ve thought of on my own.

First off, if you have someone at your church who knows Pokemon well, put them to use! Get them out there and have them meeting people that come by. If you want to, set up something outside your church during the week that will indicate your church is a Pokestop and welcome kids to your church.

This could include having bottles of water or small snacks that you can give out to the children. Let them know what kind of church your place is and that will make an impression on the parents. Let them come in and enjoy wi-fi and air conditioning and this can be a good chance to talk to the parents.

Second, allow people to have their events at your church. Host a Pokemon Go event at your church on the weekdays and have kids from all over come by. If you do this, don’t make it a trap by having a sermon preached. Instead, let them come and just enjoy themselves. Try to focus on the parents as well if they stay. If not, let the kids from your church be there who are playing and have them form the friendships that can get the children in the door.

Third, host other kinds of events. Have a tournament around the card games. Have a tournament around the regular games. Be the church that when Sun and Moon comes out, you will be ready.

Fourth, try having some giveaways. Some churches are doing this and you could let people fill out an entry form once a day when they come by for a Pokestop and let them have a chance to win a prize. It doesn’t have to be a big one, but feeling like they won something for going by the church can be an incentive.

In fact, if you want to know if people are coming to the church, just look at some of the material already put out.

 

Not all of these I shared due to language on some, but pay attention. You have people who even can’t stand religion going to a church to collect Pokeballs. If you have an apologist at your church, now is a time to use them when they show up. This will especially also help show your church that Christians don’t cut themselves off from everything. The Gospel is not opposed to fun after all.

I can already anticipate some objections. Some of you will be saying that we don’t need this to do evangelism. That’s true. We don’t, but you know what? We have it. Why not take advantage of it? Why not use it? If this is a way that we can get to spread the Gospel to people who are coming to our church, why not go ahead and do that?

I also hear it being said that the message should be enough to draw people to the church. Yeah. Keep that up. How’s that been working for you? It will be a draw if you’re dealing with people who are Christians who already love the message. You’re not. What you’re dealing with are people who are lost many times and now have a reason to go to church.

Consider raising children. Parents want to raise their children to eat well and study in school. It should be that being healthy and having a successful career is enough of a draw, but it isn’t. Usually, we’ll give incentives and punishments to help children do these tasks until they come to appreciate them on their own. Wait until your children value health or a successful career on their own and you’ll be waiting awhile. Give them incentive and they’ll start doing it.

Some have also complained about dangers of Pokemon Go, such as there are some people hijacking it to rob victims. Yes. Believe it or not, technology can be misused. By that standard, that Bible you have at your church is misused by the cults, so you’d better not use it. Some people are misusing Pokemon Go. You can be the church that uses it well.

Some people are concerned that you will draw them in and then use bait and switch with the Gospel. I have a problem when it comes to many Christian movies in that they think they have to shove the Gospel explicitly down your throats. They don’t. Those of you who care about friendship evangelism should like this idea. Get to know the people as people who come by and give them time. Do encourage them and if you see an opportunity, you can talk about it, but I wouldn’t be confrontational in this case. Just be there and if they have questions, answer them. Let your church be the church that everyone in town is talking about.

Speaking of talking about it, what makes me think this will happen. Look at the above tweets. When was the last time you had people tweeting so much about going to church who likely are not Christians? You want to pass up this opportunity?

Also along those lines, please don’t come up with cheesy catch phrase about Pokemon and turn it into Jesus and please don’t try to come up with a Christian version of the game that you can play. Just use the game as it is because when Christians try to copy things like this, they end up for the most part just looking ridiculous. That turns people away.

Some people think that Pokemon Go is being used as a lure in this case. The point is that Pokemon Go is already a lure. The people are already coming and they can’t just drive by at 45 MPH and get the bonuses. They have to make a deliberate stop. If they’re there, talk to them. Take advantage of it.

There are many people talking about so many events in the world that are important. We are talking about the Dallas shooting and we are talking about the Presidential election, but many of us are talking about Pokemon Go. That last one can greatly be used by evangelism. Take advantage of the opportunity. We finally have people we want to reach coming to church. I can only imagine what the Apostle Paul would do if he found a way to get people to come to church of their own accord. What would he do once they got there?

Also, your young people who don’t think they contribute to the church sometimes? They can have a sense of contribution just by playing a game and just by hanging out with others playing a game. Give them an idea that they are significant. Let them help out. You can have it that the kids talk to the kids while the parents talk to the parents. Use this opportunity to tell them about your church and then when in the church, tell them about Jesus.

As for me and my wife, we’re going to be enjoying our game, but I certainly hope churches use this opportunity. You have children coming to your door. Are you going to drive them away, or are you going to be there waiting for them in preparation for getting them there on Sunday morning to give them the Gospel?

In Christ,
Nick Peters