Some Thoughts On Yesterday’s Shooting

What can we learn from discussion on this matter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, a tragedy occurred with a shooting in a Texas church. I am sure it was at least 20 who were killed as there are different reports out now and I know one of them was the pastor’s 14 year-old daughter. Either way, we have a tragedy right now, but what happens when we go to Facebook and the comments section to see what’s going on?

There’s immediately charges about who did it and why. Now in some sense, I can understand people not mourning. After all, there are several people who will die today and you and I will go through our lives for the most part and not even blink and in fact be happy about it. There’s nothing abnormal about this. When July 24th comes every year, for most of you out there, it’s likely another day of the year. For Allie and I, it’s a very happy time as that’s our anniversary. I don’t expect someone who doesn’t know us to be happy or to have zero sadness on that day. Every day is day of tragedy for someone and a day of joy for someone else.

I have no problem actually then with people discussing this problem and what to do about it. What I have a problem with is people who don’t know the facts acting like they do. In fact, many of them hope that the facts are on their side. That is, the fact that the killer was a member of a certain religion or political persuasion.

One report I have heard is that the gunman was an atheist who wanted to strike out at a church and I think it was his mother-in-law’s church. What would that show? It would not show that you need to be living in fear of the atheist that you meet. It would not show that all atheists are bloodthirsty killers. In fact, many atheists can lead moral lives that could put many Christians to shame.

What if it was a Christian? Again, you would not be able to extrapolate to all other Christians out there. In fact, you will find some crazies in every group out there. It saddens me greatly to know Christians do some terrible things.

For if it was a Muslim, which I haven’t heard this but I’m just tossing it out there. Sadly, I can understand this one some. Most of the acts of terrorism we’ve seen committed here in this country I think have had the battle cry of “Allahu Akbar!” Again, that doesn’t mean that I need to live in terror of the Muslim down the street.

We could go on with if this was a conservative or a liberal. One of the problems is what we do with conspiracy theories. Someone comes with a presupposition of what they think the conclusion was and then tries to find the evidence to support it. In fact, I remember P.Z. Myers did this with the shooting of the Congresswoman in Arizona where he was insistent it would be a right-wing tea party member. Even when evidence he shared was shown to be fake, he was still insistent he was right. (It does look like the posts have been taken down now.)

Now we could discuss the ideologies instead and where they lead to. These are better questions because we’re discussing worldviews and not persons. For instance, if atheism is true, this person does not have to represent all atheists, and he doesn’t if he is one, but we could ask how atheism explains this. If the person was an atheist, did that person live in contradiction to his worldview or not?

What if they were a Christian? Again, we ask the same questions. We also ask that if they were a Muslim. Every worldview has to explain evil and every worldview has to explain morality, even if as is the case with some atheists, they want to say that morality is an illusion of sorts and there is no objective right or wrong.

There’s another thing to not say here. It is foolish I think for us to try to divine the will of God from what happens. Sometimes things just happen because people are evil. I have a problem with people reading the will of God or trying to figure it out from dreams, experiences, events, circumstances, etc. which we don’t know to be directly from God and messages for us, and ignoring the place where we are sure we get the will of God, Scripture. Spend more time exegeting Scripture than you do your own life.

Also, I am on guard now for people saying statements about mental illness. Unfortunately, mental illness becomes a catch-all term that people use and automatically everyone with a mental illness is suspect. Technically, my wife and I both have at least one, namely Aspergers. Could someone with a particular mental condition be more prone to doing this? Sure, but let’s make sure that we don’t impugn all people with mental conditions with that.

When this happened in Las Vegas, I saw someone saying it was the case of mental illness. It always amazes me that people say that someone had to be mentally ill to do something like this. Not necessarily. Could some people just simply be evil and do this? We so often want to say that the person is just a poor thinker and did something stupid than to say the person is an evil soul who did something evil. Sometimes, things happen because people are sinners. Chesterton years ago said the most empirically verifiable doctrine of Christianity is original sin. We are now losing sight of that. It could be we want to say mental illness because those who are supposedly “sane” can then be free to not worry and we don’t have to bother examining ourselves and that pesky little sin problem.

For a while, you’re going to hear people make several claims about what happened. Always be ready to ask what the source is for the claim and how it has been verified. I’m also sure we will hear several crazy conspiracy theory claims. There will be no doubt people saying that this didn’t happen at all. Who knows what else they will come up with? Please especially ignore these.

Pray for the people involved and let’s try to not jump onto any bandwagons of suspicion. Wait until the facts are in, and these are facts that are agreed to by the majority, and then discuss. Until then, worldviews are always available to be discussed and it could never hurt us to have more discussions about the truth on ultimate reality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Another Post On Celebrating Halloween

Are Christians who celebrate Halloween disobeying Scripture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Whenever the holidays come around, you can always find people who will speak about them being pagan. Christmas and Easter are common candidates. Next is Halloween. So it is that when we get to this time of year, a lot of people come out condemning Halloween and all Christians who celebrate it.

Consider this that was posted on a Ratio Christi page at Marshall. I was not able to find the original post myself, but I was told about it from someone who works with them. They claim it was from an atheist/buddhist, but it doesn’t look like that to me. At any rate, the sentiment is common.

— FAKE CHRISTIANS celebrate hell-oween

If you rejoice in the abomination of Hell-Oween today and you claim to be a “Christian”. Your part of the problem of the world not coming to Christ. You don’t set yourself apart, which is what being sanctified means. You rejoice in murder, witchcraft, darkness, death, skeletons, evil spirits ALL in the name of “all saints day”, or its just for fun or “we are just having a good time”. How wicked the American church is. It stinks as a worldly sent in the nostrils of almighty God. If I could I would declare today national repentence day for so many Christians holding hands with sinners, and when we are told by the bible to not even take council from the ungodly (psalm 1), much less live like them in their sinful celebrations. What saints are you “worshipping” today? You should be rejoicing in Holiness, righteousness, purity .. “Think on these things” (Phil 4:8).

Today is a day to celebrate amnesty from the wicked Catholic Church (Reformation day) and all of its corruption, not dressing up like Devils and watching perversion of evil movies and filth. Today is a openly professed hallowed day in strains of witchcraft and satanic churches and yet you are celebrating today with the lost? Wake up!!!!

Or consider what a Christian said to me yesterday on a YouTube channel which shortly afterward the owner of said channel banned me from.

Nick Peters My source is scripture. Come out from among them and be separate and I will receive you unto myself.–Source….God
Touch not the unclean thing…
Do not do as the other nations do. Do not take up their ways, neither give your sons or daughters to them in marriage.
If you spend time reading scripture rather than giving more weight to a “scholar” perhaps you wouldn’t be verbally sparring with me. Is Jesus even your Lord or are you your own Lord??? Show me in Galations 5 what part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit are you writing to me. Is it love, joy peace, etc…do you even know what the fruit of the Spirit is. Where’s your scholarly source…you have none.

This was in reply to my asking for evidence from a scholarly source that Halloween is pagan. For too many Christians, God forbid you ask them a question. Do they have a point? Is this what we’re supposed to do?

Let’s start with the second one. Are we supposed to come out and be separate? Yes. However, what does it mean to live like the people around you? I was out driving with my wife today. I suspect many people sharing the road with me driving were non-Christians. Am I being separate from them if I drive as well? I suspect many non-Christians see doctors, go out to eat, do grocery shopping, cook meals at home, etc. What is being talked about?

In each case, it’s talking about moral living. Now this would work as an argument against Halloween only if you apply the missing claim. Note that the very question under consideration is if the Bible tell us to not celebrate Halloween. Here is the way the argument goes.

The Bible says to not live as the world lives.
Celebrating Halloween is living as the world lives.
Therefore, you should not celebrate Halloween.

Once again, the problem is that driving cars and going grocery shopping is also how the world lives. What else needs to be said? That moves us to touch not the unclean thing.

The Bible says to touch not the unclean thing.
Halloween is the unclean thing.
Therefore, you should not participate in Halloween.

Again, it works, but only if you grant the second premise. Yet the second premise is the very thing under questions. It’s just begging the question. Let’s suppose I wanted to say something like dancing was wrong. Put in dancing in the second premise and the conclusion and the argument is the same. Unfortunately, it would only work if you accepted that dancing was wrong. None of these address the issue.

The same comes with not doing as the world days or giving your sons and daughters to them in marriage. The last part shows we’re dealing with a society of arranged marriages. The Israelites for day to day practices would have to interact with the pagans around them some. It was fine to do that provided they did not violate the covenant of YHWH.

What about the first statement shared to Ratio Christi? Well, this works on the same principle. If you accept the premises, the conclusion makes sense, but the premises are exactly what is under question. If someone is seriously not coming to Jesus because of Halloween, you have to wonder how much the search for truth is being taken seriously.

Also, most people who are celebrating Halloween are not glorifying all the things spoken of. They’re dressing in costumes, pretending, and getting candy. There are people who use holidays as an excuse to do any number of evil activities. That will not stop me from celebrating a holiday. When I was growing up, the big thing was a ninja. I just enjoyed being in the costume and pretending for a night. I’m quite sure I never even got around to eating all of my Halloween candy ever. Food just isn’t a temptation for me.

I am not going to say anything about the Reformation aside from, why not both? Plenty of Christians will be doing just that. They will celebrate the Reformation and give out candy to trick or treaters or take their kids out themselves.

Note also that none of this is saying you have to celebrate Halloween. If you have some moral qualms, by all means don’t celebrate. Feel free to share your opinion, but don’t make it a point of Christian superiority. Let it be a Romans 14 matter.

Also, keep in mind that even if Halloween was pagan in origin, that doesn’t mean it is today. If a day was made to honor pagan gods and we spend that day dressing up in costumes and asking for candy instead, I think we’ve essentially shown the pagan god doesn’t have influence. Redemption is not just about people. It is about the world as a whole.

That includes Halloween.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thinking About 9/11 And Our Past

What can we learn from this day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I start to write this blog, it’s about 8:42 in the morning EST. I think it was around this time that Professor Wheeler came to us as we were sitting in the gym area of our Bible College where morning worship took place as this place could seat the whole student body. Before the sermon, he said to pray for the people of New York. A plane had just hit one of the World Trade Center towers.

There was no panic or anything. I doubt people were thinking we were under attack. I sure wasn’t. I don’t even remember a discussion about it going on around me so we went and had our worship service. After that, the announcement came that the second tower had been hit by a plane. Now it was no longer an accident of some kind. This was an attack.

9/11 is a day where we always look to the past. Lately, this has been quite a contentious topic in America. We have scores of people who want to take down statues of our past and change street names related to our past. I haven’t said much about it, but I do not support such an action.

You see, 9/11 taught us something. It did show us a way that we were vulnerable and now we have improved on that to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Having suffering come into your life for a reason can be a tragedy. Not learning from it so that you repeat the mistake is even worse. If you do not learn from your mistakes, why should you not expect to repeat them?

We can’t erase 9/11. We can’t rewind the tape and undo it. Many of us have things from our recent history that we would love to go back and get to do them over again. It’s useless to wish for. You don’t have that ability. The best you can do is look at the event and see what you can learn from it.

It’s also useless for us to stay in the past and beat ourselves up over it. It happened. It would have been nice if it hadn’t, but it did happen. If it was for some sin we did, we repent and move on and agree to do better. No further punishment is needed for Jesus took it on for us. If it is for something that happened to us, we learn how to better prepare ourselves for next time. The past can be a great teacher for us.

So now we get to the craze today of removing statues. It would be nice if we could go back in time and remove the failures of our past from us, but we can’t. Slavery happened and there’s no changing that. No one today though is responsible for what happened in the past. The more we try to punish people today for what happened, the more we make ourselves live in the past and hold people responsible for what they did not do.

Our past can be ugly, but it cannot be erased. We can live like it didn’t happen, but it did. If we act like it didn’t happen, we are more prone to make the same mistakes. To hold up the statues is not to celebrate the past, but to acknowledge it. none of us should want to celebrate what happened.

When we remember 9/11, we don’t celebrate what happened. We remember it. Where we are the ones guilty of a sin, we have grace for ourselves and repent and move on and celebrate the grace of God. Where we have been wronged and put in danger, we learn from the past and say we won’t repeat it again.

Today, we’ll be thinking about 9/11. Part of our yearly ritual on this day is to watch the World Trade Center movie. We also ask that you thank God for the people you know in your life who are first responders. If you’re reading this and you’re a first responder, thank you for your service.

And if you’re reading this and you lost someone in 9/11, my sympathies go out to you. Nothing can ever really change this day. We can only say what was said long ago, that we will rebuild and live on. Never forget the past, but don’t let it be a place of permanent residency. This goes for all of us. May we all have grace and live our lives today. We don’t dare act like it didn’t happen. It happened and it mattered and the lives of those who died will never be deaths in vain.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Harvey, Irma, And Prophetic Fulfillment

Are hurricanes a fulfillment of prophecy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s not really a shock that when anything major happens in the world, so many of my Christian brothers and sisters are there to immediately tell us that this is a fulfillment of prophecy. No matter what happens, prophecy is being fulfilled. Trump’s getting elected is a fulfillment of prophecy and had it been Hillary, no doubt that would be a fulfillment of prophecy too. This happened with the eclipse and with two hurricanes, it’s happening again.

Never mind that to get to Harvey, we had to have seven other hurricanes and you didn’t hear a peep really about those. Never mind also that much of the world experiences hurricanes, though they’re not called hurricanes there, and nothing is said about those. Like many people today in America, American Christians seem to assume that all prophetic fulfillment centers on what happens in America.

Take the blood moons for example. We look and say that if there are blood moons happening, that’s a sign about Israel. We don’t seem to ask “Can these things even be seen in Israel?” Nope. If we can experience it in America, that’s enough. (And it’s my understanding that not all of the blood moons could be seen in America.)

So what about hurricanes? I did go over to YouTube to look. Just type in “Irma” and “prophecy” and see what happens. The prophecy experts are already at it. I have always said that I would like to be a prophecy expert. You can write a book making ample predictions, have it be a best seller, get touted as an expert in the media, get everything entirely wrong, and still somehow the cycle repeats for you.

This time, there’s a verse I’ve been asked about in Luke 21.

“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.

Now the literalists among us are looking and saying the sun and moon are a sign with the solar eclipse and now we have the roaring of the sea. They seem to somehow be ignoring the stars part. (Note that they are always selectively literal) It can’t be that an eclipse just happens as part of the natural working of our planet. Nope. It has to be a sign.

This really isn’t a Christian notion. This is much more of a pagan one. There have been numerous eclipses in history. Sometimes an eclipse is just an eclipse. We don’t need to be looking for signs in everything that happens.

Sadly, we have a reputation of doing that. When Israel is established as a nation, well this is it! Forty more years! Forty years have long since passed and nothing. Maybe it was the Six-Day War! Forty years have passed. Nothing. Every time we see this, it becomes an embarrassment to us because the world looks and realizes they can’t take Christians seriously.

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know I’m an orthodox Preterist in my eschatology, so yes, I do think Luke 21 has already been fulfilled. Note especially the part before about Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. This did happen in the time of Vespasian.

Someone could say “Well there could be a future fulfillment”, but it’s up to them to establish that. Note that the text also says all these things must happen. Not some of them. All of them, and before the generation passes away. That included in this the destruction of the temple which has already happened.

If you want to be a futurist, I disagree with you, but be a futurist. Please though do not be doing prophecy watches. It has a bad track record and it is very unlikely that you are the exception. Instead, the church just gets embarrassed with a bad track record of how to interpret Scripture. If they can’t trust us with Scripture in what they can see, why should they in what they can’t?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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