Deeper Waters Podcast 4/1/2017: Steve Bedard

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

Pastoring is a hard job. I don’t speak from experience on this, but it must be if you are one who seeks to give it your all. You have to attend all these board meetings with a church, be available for counseling, be available for 3 A.M. phone calls if someone has a medical emergency, do your academic study for a sermon, be writing it out and preparing it and finding material to use for it, read Scripture for your own spiritual formation, and spend quality time with your family. This is a tough task you don’t want to take on lightly.

Now imagine another hurdle to all of that. You have to out there and be with the people and be interacting with them regularly. On top of that, you’re autistic.

How do you handle that? April is coming upon us and so we have our customary show for Autism Awareness Month. He has been on before to talk about his book How To Make Your Church Autism Friendly and now he’s back because since then, he has realized that he is on the spectrum. He is Steve Bedard, and he will be my guest.

So who is he?

Stephen Bedard is the pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church and is a sessional lecturer at Tyndale University College. He has MDiv, MTh and MA degrees from McMaster Divinity College and is a DMin candidate at Acadia Divinity College.

Steve Bedard has an active role in apologetics as well so this kind of work is no stranger to him, but he is no doubt having to learn about himself quite a bit and then how does the church respond? What do they think about having an autistic pastor? Is Steve able to connect with his congregation or not?

We can also now ask him what it’s like from a first-hand perspective instead of just through his kids to be on the spectrum. Has this changed his relationship with his children any? Does being an autistic pastor provide any benefits to the job? Are there any extra hurdles to it? Does he ever meet with other pastors who are surprised to learn that there is an autistic pastor?

Of course, those of us on the spectrum know that there are degrees on it and people are all different. There are some things many of us have in common, but there are many ways that we are all different. People like Steve I hope are an inspiration to others that are out there on the spectrum. (Just recently, I read an article by a professional answering that he thinks Aspies are capable of intimacy. I commented and said myself and my Aspie wife of nearly seven years would agree.)

I hope you’ll be listening to this show as we talk with Steve Bedard and find out what his ministry is like for him. We will also be asking about how his relationships have changed since then. Please consider going on ITunes also and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I love to read them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Life We Never Expected

What do I think of Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s book published by Crossway? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson are just living their lives. It’s the way that most people would expect. You grow up, go to school, graduate, get married, and then the next step is having children. You bring those children home and watch them grow up and then get married and have their own children and their own careers and such.

Well, that is the way the story is normally supposed to go.

Yet often times, life doesn’t follow the script we’ve written out.

The Wilsons had two kids and both of them were born with autism. On my reading of the book, the autism seemed severe, but then they said there are changes so I do not know for sure where they are now, but at the time of writing, it was a time of stress. Andrew and Rachel often found themselves at their wit’s end.

For me, this is something that’s near and personal to my heart. It’s not because I’m a parent, but because I have Aspergers and not only do I have it, but my wife has it as well. Stories about autism are always important to me and I am all about raising awareness for those on the spectrum.

The book itself has five sections that are also divided into five sections. The subdivisions of each section are weeping, worshiping, waiting, witnessing, and breathe. The Wilsons go through each on their journey. The chapter heading will also tell you which one it is that is writing the chapter, with one chapter being a friend interviewing them.

The book will not tell you much on how to raise autistic children. My guess is the Wilsons are learning on the journey and don’t want to give that advice as if they have it all together. Instead, it’s about the internal struggles that take place and especially when Andrew is on board, about dealing with the theological ramifications of what is going on.

Still, the Wilsons are indeed thankful for their children. They have a unique joy and appreciation for them even though there are many times the children are exceptionally stressful to them. This isn’t the life that they expected, but perhaps it is the life that they needed and were meant for. We cannot say that for sure this side of eternity, but who knows?

I would have liked to have seen something more about autism for people who do not know much about it. It’s also important to point out that there are levels on the spectrum. My wife and I are both quite high functioning for instance and I know many other people on the spectrum who are, such as Hugh Ross and Stephen Bedard. The spectrum is wide and contains them all, but all of them are also contained by another spectrum. That is the spectrum of people who are made in the image of God and that He loves.

The Wilsons’s book is a good and short read and I think would be quite helpful to parents going through this. In fact, if your child has any major disability, this could be a good read. The Wilsons are thoroughly Christian in their treatment and both humorous and sensitive.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: A Parent’s Guide To Autism

What do I think of Ron Sandison’s book published by Siloam? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was very pleased when Ron Sandison sent me a copy of his book on Autism. He and I are both on the spectrum as is my wife. It’s always interesting to read about the perspectives of others. While the book is a guide for parents, non-parents, like myself, will receive great benefit from it. The book is also written from a Biblical worldview.

I found myself being struck by how different our stories were. Ron grew up with a great interest in sports, such as running track. I did not. I could watch baseball, but other than that, I just didn’t care. I was more into video games than that kind of stuff.

Ron was also I found more outgoing than I would normally be. He talked about going on about 300 dates. I came nowhere near that. I frankly don’t remember much social interaction from my growing up. I tended to be a loner with a few isolated friends.

Our theological stories are also quite different. I do not particularly care for many of the people Ron would see as heroes on his journey, but that also caused me to consider looking a bit differently. After all, on the spectrum, it can be hard to really step outside yourself. Seeing a more personal side to some of these people did change matters for me.

Also surprising at times was the way I could see Ron behave, particularly when he talked about four guys at one point in the book he’d given nicknames for. I read that and thought “Wow. Ron was a jerk there.” In fact, he’d probably agree and it took his wife pointing it out to him.

I would also differ from Ron in many ways in that it looked like much of what he did theologically was oriented by experience. I am still thankful that it all worked out. A lot of the struggles he spoke about with employment and such I could relate to.

Still, despite our differences, this is certainly a valuable book to own! Ron has done meticulous research in the area and has the stories of many people who are on the spectrum or have interacted with them. These success stories should give anyone with concern an idea of hope. The main message I think you’d get is to never get up. Autism does not have to be a death sentence.

Ron will talk about the therapies and approaches that are used and give advice to parents. He will have people on the spectrum describe what life is like in their own words and he will have the parents of people on the spectrum sharing the same. This is a book of hope.

And yet still, I would like to see more, and maybe Ron can work on that. We tend to get some of Ron’s story up to marriage, but I would like to see what happens then as this is an area not touched on often, and I say that as one in an Aspie marriage myself. (Ron’s wife is not on the spectrum so that would be one difference.)

So what happens then? People on the spectrum can be closed up. How does a spouse reach inside? Many people on the spectrum can tend to not like touch. How does this work with sex? Ron has just become a father recently. How does that work for him? Does he have concerns about his daughter having the same condition? Does he see any ways he really needs to grow to be a good parent?

Ron’s book overall is still an excellent one. I found myself looking up some of the people that he mentioned and wanting to contact them. I happen to love my life every day and enjoy life on the spectrum and I hope people who read Ron’s book will learn a little bit more about the fascinating world we live in.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/9/2016: Ron Sandison

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

April is Autism Awareness Month and I prefer to do a shout out to those on the spectrum, like my wife and I, when that time comes. This year is no exception. My thanks goes to Stephen Bedard for the inspiration this year as I saw that he had interviewed a professor at a Seminary who is on the spectrum. I immediately went about contacting this professor and arranging an interview for the show so this Saturday, I will be talking with Ron Sandison. Who is he?

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Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.

Ron has published articles in Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autism File Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, Not Alone, the Mighty, the Detroit News, the Oakland Press, and many more. He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website http://www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at sandison456@hotmail.com

 

All of this gives us a lot that we can talk about. Something I always want to ask my fellow Aspies on the spectrum who are also married is how that happened. After all, most of us are just terrified of talking to people. I understand that it’s hard enough to talk to someone of the opposite sex without Aspergers so it is even harder with Aspergers. I know in my case, having a mutual friend helped and we began our relationship with internet communication.

Ron has more than that. He’s also got a daughter so what is it like being a parent on the spectrum? It is often thought that Aspies don’t make the best parents. True, he has limited experience at this point, but what does he think about this? What challenges does he face?

Then of course, we can talk about being a professor at a Seminary. Does he have any benefits from his Aspergers that help him with the job? Does he have any negatives that can make the job more difficult? Is having Aspergers an important part of his interaction with students?

Finally, we can talk about his spiritual life as well. Sometimes it is hard for us to relate to ordinary people. How much harder is it to relate to divine persons? How do you worship God to the best of your ability as an Aspie? Can it be difficult to do Christian disciplines like prayer? What advice would be given to fellow Aspies? What overall would be said to parents or other people related to Aspies?

I hope you’ll be joining me this Saturday for this!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Mental Illness

Is there an elephant in the room? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What kinds of questions would an apologist most want to answer? Wouldn’t it be the questions that people are asking the most? Who wants to bother answering a question no one is answering? That makes sense, so why are we not answering the questions people are asking the most? What questions are those? Is it the question of creation vs. evolution? No. Is it the question of if the Bible is reliable? No. It is the question of did Jesus rise from the dead? No. Is it the question of just evil in general and why a good God allows that? No. If Jeremiah Johnston’s ministry is any gauge of questions, the #1 area of questioning that comes into his ministry of the Christian Thinkers Society is the question about mental illness and all that it entails. He has some fascinating information this in his book Unanswered.

And do you remember the last time you heard a sermon from the pulpit about reaching and helping those with mental illnesses and understanding them?

I can’t either.

It’s really quite sad how we treat these kinds of conditions. If we learn that brother Jim has come down with cancer, we’ll have the church put him on our prayer chain and we’ll bring some food over to his house so his wife doesn’t have to do all the cooking and we’ll visit him in the hospital and we’ll remind him that God is with him no matter what. If brother Jim instead had depression, we’d be more prone to tell him that he should just be reading his Bible more and to have a bit more faith and oh yeah, he also doesn’t need to worry about taking any of those strange medications for depression. He just needs to rely on Jesus. (I know that not all Christians would take this approach, but too many would)

There’s a reason that mental illness isn’t talked about much in the church and that’s one of them.

I am also in a unique position to write about this. Johnston in his book writes that most people you meet with mental illness will look and seem to act just like you. I know this well because I am one of them. Mental illness does not mean you’re stupid. Many of us can be very bright. It does not mean you don’t love Jesus. Many of us have a great love of Jesus. It does not mean you lack faith. Many of us strive to walk a life of faith just like the rest of you do. It just means we have something different in our brains that affects how we act much like someone with a physical disorder has something different in their body. You would not tell someone in a wheelchair that they have a lack of faith. (Okay. Again some would, but I hope most of you wouldn’t.) They just have something in some part of their body that prevents them from moving like normal. Why say the same to someone with a mental illness?

For those who haven’t been around my blog enough, the mental condition I have as well as my wife is Aspergers, which is a form of autism. It’s my understanding that the term Aspergers is being cycled out now, but I still prefer to use it. Force of habit maybe. What does it mean to be an “Aspie” as we call ourselves and not a “neurotypical” as we call you? Well we’re all quite different, but there are a number on the spectrum who are non-verbal and incapable of speaking much if any. That’s not my wife and I. It does mean we don’t understand social situations well and can have difficulty with eye contact and we can have fixations and get obsessed with matters easily. We do not have a mild interest in anything. We usually have an all-out interest in it. When you speak to us, chances are, we will not look you in the eye. I have found for me that if my schoolwork does not have some order or structure to it, I find it difficult to do it. We are also quite prone to taking terms literally when we shouldn’t. (Amusing since I am an orthodox Preterist who does not take many passages of the Bible in the “wooden literal” sense.)

What are the statistics on this? According to the CDC:

About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. [Read summary] [Read article]
ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. [Read summary] [Read article]
ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). [Read article]
Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of about 1%. A study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. [Data table] [Read article]
About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism. [Read summary]

Chances are someone in your church is on the spectrum and in fact, while I would consider myself a Christian speaker who is on the spectrum and someone with some degree of authority in the field, I am not the only one. My friend Stephen Bedard announced that he was recently diagnosed with autism here. He has a number of books available on Amazon including one he wrote with Stanley Porter. He and I discussed how to make a church more autism friendly on my show here.

Another prominent figure who is on the spectrum is in fact Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe. Dr. Ross has an incredibly encyclopedic memory of the things that he has read, which is something a number of people on the spectrum have and has been an advocate for awareness of autism. He also came on my show during Autism Awareness Month to talk about his life with autism and that can be found in the second hour of my interview with him here.

Of course, autism isn’t the only disorder, but before I move on to another one, I want to say something. Many times when I read someone saying something about me, they will say that I suffer with Autism or Aspergers. This is inaccurate. I live with a condition. I have some extra burdens from the condition from time to time. I do not suffer because suffering is a choice. I in fact choose to thrive with my condition and I like some of the advantages I think my different brain wiring gives me. Frankly, if there came out a cure for autism disorders tomorrow and I could be given it for free, I doubt that I would take it. This does not mean that some people do not suffer, but it does mean that suffering is not a term that should be put on someone immediately.

How about depression? We can often think that this is surely a spiritual malady. After all, aren’t we to have joy in all things? Indeed, we are, and to be fair, there are a number of things someone with depression can do to improve their mood, but at the same time, there are medications that can help as well. We could tell someone recovering from a surgery that they need to do some exercises in order to get their body back into good condition again, but that does not mean we won’t give them pain medication. I have been in the hospital before for scoliosis surgery, which means I have a degree of curvature to my spine. It was corrected by strapping a steel rod onto my spine. (I tell Allie she’s married to the man of steel.) When I got out of the hospital, I was increasingly given limited exercises to do to learn how to simply walk again, but I was also given medication because I was in a heck of a lot of pain. Why should my back condition be seen as something it’s okay to take medication for and yet depression isn’t?

So let’s get some facts clear of some things to NOT say to a depressed person.

Do NOT say anything to increase their guilt, such as saying “If you loved Jesus more, you’d feel better.” “If you prayed more, God would deliver you.” “If you read your Bible more, you’d get over this.” Now I do think all of those are good but the reality is we can ALL improve on them. I think if we love Jesus more we will do better in life. If we pray more and read our Bibles more, we will be stronger in life, but that does not mean that we will have deliverance from depression. Am I saying God cannot heal? No. Am I saying miracles cannot happen? No. I am saying that we are not guaranteed these things and it could be sometimes God does not do a miracle because He wants to show the world what He can do through flawed creatures, like we all are.

Also, do not please say such nonsense as casting a demon out of someone who has depression. It’s very easy to blame a lot of problems on demons. If all of our sin was due to demonic activity, that would mean we are not responsible for any of it. We often talk in the church about how the devil is tempting us to do XYZ. Frankly friends, the devil doesn’t have to do anything to have me be tempted to sin. It’s pretty easy to find temptation all on my own. This is indeed an area where we all, depressed or not, have to learn to practice the spiritual disciplines. That is also a battle that ultimately never ends because we are all always continuing in sanctification.

And also, do not try to help the person seriously if you are not trained in doing so. The reality is those who try to “fix” someone with a mental condition can be more prone to doing a whole lot more harm than good, despite what their intentions may be. Of course, you should seek to help someone who is struggling with this and one of the best ways that you can do this is in fact by listening to such a person. You don’t necessarily have to offer advice. If the person is okay with it, you can give them a hug or something and you can offer to pray with them. Many of these people would just like someone to listen to them and they can know they’re not alone. They don’t have to carry the burden alone.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Each year about 6.7% of U.S adults experience major depressive disorder. Women are 70 % more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime. Non-Hispanic blacks are 40% less likely than non-Hispanic whites to experience depression during their lifetime. The average age of onset is 32 years old. Additionally, 3.3% of 13 to 18 year olds have experienced a seriously debilitating depressive disorder.

Depression is much more common than you realize and with it we could include other conditions like bipolar disorder. Having depression or a condition like it does not mean you are a bad Christian. It does not mean God is angry with you. It does not mean that God is punishing you. We would not say this is the case immediately if someone had cancer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with evaluating your life when pain strikes and seeing if there is anything you need to work on, but that does not mean we should jump to the idea that all suffering you have is because God does not care about you or is actively angry with you.

If you want to help someone like this, be in it for the long haul. There are no quick fixes save a miracle of God and you cannot bring that about on your own. Be prepared to walk and talk with the person who is suffering from depression and mainly be a friend and just listen to them. Of course, you can give advice from time to time, but make sure the person is really open to the advice. Fortunately, more churches are starting to open up to this kind of thing. This is especially the case since so many churches have groups now such as Celebrate Recovery to help people overcome any problems that they have.

Also, people might not necessarily get over something like this. It can be a lifelong battle. One time I took my wife to a Weight Watchers meeting to help her in her dieting. I know about the organization that everyone who is a teacher in the program or a leader in some capacity has been through the program. Many of them you would never guess by looking at them and I asked a lady at the counter “So you all struggled with weight loss?” She immediately corrected me “struggle with weight loss.” This is why you don’t go to an AA meeting and hear someone say “I used to be an alcoholic.” Instead, they say “I have been sober for X years.”

With this, we must go down a darker path still and realize that many times, someone with depression will be prone to committing suicide. Let’s not hold back at one area here. Suicide is a sin. It is wrong and it is condemned by Scripture since Scripture prohibits murder. Still, there is no Scripture that says suicide is the unpardonable sin. There is no Scripture that says that if you commit suicide, you are bound for Hell. That does not at all mean that we should take suicide lightly. We should realize that like any other sin, we should seek to prevent it from taking place and the reality is, we can do that.

For those struggling with this, this is never the answer. In fact, someone who sees a loved one commit suicide never fully recovers. Most of us remember the news about Robin Williams committing suicide. When my wife and I were dating, I brought over the movie Patch Adams for us to watch and laugh over together. Now we suspect we will never be able to watch it again. Closer to the Christian community was the fact that a couple of years ago Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide. Some of you may disagree with Rick Warren on some theological issues but this is not the place to discuss those. Rick and Kay Warren wrote about their struggles here and there is a fund to help fight mental illness here.

The effects of suicide never go away. I heard of a man in his 60’s whose Dad died by suicide when he was 8 and to that day, the man still asked everyday why his Dad did that. He didn’t understand. Why did his Dad not want to be a part of his life? You can learn to go on living after a loved one commits suicide, but you never really get over it. In fact, if a person commits suicide, they will increase the chances that a loved one of theirs will commit suicide. Please. If you are struggling with this, contact a health care professional immediately or call the National Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Please go and like their page. They somehow use Facebook to pinpoint locations to better help people. Their page can be found here.

Also included in this could be cutters. These are people who struggle with depression and relieve it by giving themselves bodily injury with things like knives, scissors, etc. This is also something that we should not accept in the church. Still, while we do not approve of the action, we should have compassion on those who struggle. Some of you might be hearing about cutting and think that that doesn’t make much sense. It doesn’t have to make sense to you. It is just the way that it is.

When American Sniper came out, PTSD became a major topic. It’s a shame that so many people who go and fight for our country come home and do not get the treatment they need when they start having flashbacks of a war they fought in. They can have night terrors where they wake up screaming and could even in a moment of panic hurt someone around them. This isn’t just veterans. Anyone who goes through a major trauma of some sorts could come down with PTSD. There can also be a localized PTSD. As a small child I went to the beach with my parents and while out in the ocean, suddenly found myself underwater thanks to the undertow. To this day, I am terrified of water, much to my wife’s chagrin, and as logical as I try to be elsewhere, I start screaming and panicking in a swimming pool. One time she asked me to walk from one end of the pool to the other with her and even near the edge. The greatest depth I’d get to was about 5 feet. I’m about 5 foot 7. Three times on the walk down there I asked her if she’d taken out a life insurance policy on me recently. Is it embarrassing? Yep. Do I look forward to a day when I can enjoy the water with my wife? Yep. It’s a localized PTSD I have though where I panic about drowning. It was only a few years ago I was able to wash my face in the shower. That’s how severe it is.

I can only imagine it’s worse for far more traumatic events, such as being a child and witnessing a school shooting, or being a soldier and watching your buddies die in a horrible event. This kind of situation can be treated. Of course, barring a miracle, it will take time and it does not mean a person will ever be completely over it.

The great tragedy in all of this is that the church is not seen as a place where people with mental illness feel safe. In fact, the church can shun people who have a mental illness and when we do that, we cut away from the body some of the people who can best show us the power of Christ. Many of us think it can be hard to face reality when we have bills to pay, unemployment, health problems, etc. Imagine facing reality where your own brain many times can be your enemy and you live with that constant enemy. People who are able to keep fighting on in the midst of this should be our heroes and receive our support.

This is especially worse since we are supposed to be Jesus to everyone and in no way can I picture Jesus shunning someone because they have a mental illness. How can we truly show the love of Christ if we are shunning someone for something they cannot help? Now of course, we can certainly agree they can do something about their problems, such as learning a good coping skill, but that does not mean we blame them for their problems or tell them they have a lack of faith. Maybe, just maybe, if the church can start being the church we can end the stigma against mental illness and give the people of the world a safe place that they can go to.

Please consider helping those with mental illness today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/25/2015: Paul Compton

What’s coming up Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast. Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Friendship is something special and some friends last a very long time. One such friendship I have is with Paul Compton who I met when I was in Bible College. Later when I went to Seminary, Paul Compton was right there. He helped me and my roommate move in and get situated. Paul afterwards got a job at a church in New Hampshire and took the position up there, but we did stay in touch. In fact, Paul was one of the people that came to Charlotte for my wedding. Knowing about my having Aspergers, when he found out his son Timothy was diagnosed with Aspergers, he made sure to give me a call to see what I had to say. Since he’s such a good friend and has a great interest in both apologetics and in autism, then I figured he’d be great to have come on the show to discuss fatherhood and apologetics.

So who is Paul?

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And according to his own bio.

Paul A. Compton is a pastor and apologist at Riverside Christian Church in Merrimack, NH. He received his B.A. in Bible from Johnson University (2002) and Master of Arts in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC (2008). He is an active member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the International Society of Christian Apologetics. Paul is also a founding and active board member of iHope International Ministries. In 2012, he was elected to the Town Ethics Committee where he served as Chairman. Paul is blessed with a lovely wife, Elizabeth, and two children (Timothy and Andrew) who encourage and support his service in ministry.

Paul has also been doing some work, though I understand it has been slowed down, on starting his own organization to raise awareness about autism called “Autism Shouts.” Paul is an enjoyable guy to be around who knows his Scripture and philosophy well and he has a sense of humor that you’ll thoroughly enjoy, especially if you love puns.

So what is it like being the father of someone on the spectrum? How does it change the marriage dynamic? If you’re someone skilled in philosophy, how does that change your outlook on life? Do you see Aspergers as a hindrance or a blessing or is it some of both? How does Timothy interact with his friends? How does he interact with family? What’s it like taking a child with Aspergers to church? What do you think the church could do differently for people who are on the autism spectrum? What advice would you give to parents who just found out that there child is on the Autism spectrum or suspect that their child is on the Autism spectrum?

I am looking forward to this show. Paul is a good friend who has a good heart for Christ and has been a great friend to Deeper Waters throughout the years. I hope you’ll enjoy his company just as much as I do and benefit from what he has to say.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/18/2015: Stephen Bedard

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

First off, apologies on the show not getting up as it should be. I have been awfully busy around here, but I am trying to get that taken care of. If you do not know, April is Autism Awareness Month and we have been looking at the subject of autism. This week, we’re going to have my friend Stephen Bedard come on to talk about his book How To Make Your Church Autism Friendly.

So who is Stephen Bedard?

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According to his bio:

Stephen Bedard has a BBA from Brock University, Mdiv, MTh, MA degrees from McMaster Divinity College and is a current DMin student at Acadia Divinity College. He is a chaplain in the Canadian army reserves and an adjunct instructor at Emmanuel Bible College.

This is a personal field for Bedard as well as he has two children with autism. This book that he has written is a labor of love. Also, if you’re someone who doesn’t have much time for reading of this sort, then you will be in luck again. The book is incredibly short. I read it on a flight from New Orleans to Knoxville and even then still had plenty of time left over. Yet this book is packed with great information and short stories that will open your eyes to the reality that is autism. Bedard was fortunate to find a church that was autism friendly and did indeed treat his children well.

Bedard and I will be talking about these matters. Are there some things that the church is doing that is really turning off people who have autism? Naturally, churches cannot do everything as random people in the church might not be as familiar, Still, there are things that churches can do to play their part. More and more families are being affected by the realities of the autism spectrum and these are situations that need to be addressed. As more and more people are diagnosed with autism, churches will indeed have to adapt to this so they can meet the needs of this rising demographic, including their spiritual needs.

Do children’s groups need to get equipped to be autism-friendly? Children who are on the spectrum will behave different than children who are not. Will other parents need to be aware of this? What about events in the church? What happens if a child with autism is in a church service and suddenly starts to act up. How should a good pastor handle this situation? Will some times be more frightening for people on the spectrum?

These are important topics indeed and we will be talking about more of them, including Bedard’s own personal experience with this reality. It is my hope that in hearing this, you will realize how important it is that your church be autism-friendly and that you will also really consider getting Stephen Bedard’s book and letting your pastor have a copy of the book as well.

I look forward to this interview and I hope you’ll be watching your podcast feed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do I Suffer With Aspergers?

Does having a condition mean that you suffer with it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my wife shared on her Facebook the tragic story of a young girl who committed suicide because of being diagnosed with Aspergers. Now I have not hidden on here that my wife and I both have Aspergers. Does that sometimes lead to suffering? Of course. There are difficulties. I can have a hard time recognizing sarcasm and tend to take things very literally. I can easily obsess on matters that I shouldn’t and I am prone to anxiety.

Yet as I looked at the comments on this story, I think of the first one I read and it had a phrase that I have seen several times, even when people speak about me. That is the term that they know someone who suffers with Aspergers.

I don’t like that term.

I don’t like it because it makes it sound like if you have a condition, then you are automatically meant to suffer. Now of course we can argue that it could increase your likelihood of negatives in your life. We can argue that it could give you extra hurdles. I would also add that it gives me several bonuses too. I like the way that my mind works with this. I think it enables me to be a better husband as I am able to be so focused on my spouse in a special way and it gives me a great memory to use in the field of apologetics. I think my mind is also much better able to multi-task.

The point is that suffering is a choice. I have very little control over what happens to me. I cannot control if you care about me or hate me. I would prefer that you care, but I cannot control that. I would prefer many things, but I cannot control them. Life is not based on what I want and prefer. It is just what it is. I am playing a game and I cannot control the cards that I have been dealt. I can control what I do with those cards and I can control that I will play them to the best of my ability. I cannot guarantee that I will win a game, but I can guarantee that I will be fighting the whole time.

I can control my attitude towards what happens. That takes work, and I realize that, but that is my responsibility to learn how to do that. I cannot hold other people responsible for my feelings. I have made it a choice to not be a victim to what others say. It is okay for me to feel sad at times and to feel hurt at times. It also does not mean that I act recklessly. It means that I live my life the best that I can and if you do something wrong to me, well that’s on your head. I’m not responsible for it. I could have even provoked you in some way that led to your doing a wrong action, even doing something wrong myself, but you are responsible for your own wrong actions just as I am for mine.

None of this is to deny that suffering is real. I went through back surgery when I was fifteen and about to turn sixteen. I had a steel rod placed on my spine. Let me tell you, that suffering pain I felt was VERY VERY real! Never have I felt such intense physical pain before. The stomach aches afterwards (They had to take my stomach out to do the surgery for a bit and I am told they unintentionally stretched it when they did) were very real. Twice in the past year I have had the flu, the worst time being in December. The pain was very real. With emotional pain, I have had depression and I have had panic attacks. Yes. Those pains were very very real. In fact, I would rather go through the back surgery again than the depression and panic attacks.

Suffering is real.

And what about other people in the world? Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are persecuted for our faith. I have been told about some who had boiling water applied to their bodies, even to their genitals, to make them feel pain. Many times, these are even little children who undergo this. This suffering is very real. They have no choice as to if they will undergo this suffering and no doubt with the physical suffering, they feel the effects of that for a lifetime. What about that?

You cannot choose if you will feel physical suffering or not. That much is real.

You can choose how you respond to it.

For little children, this can be harder because children are really impressionable in so many ways and don’t know better. They don’t know the coping skills. This is why good parenting is so essential. You have to watch the messages you are giving your children early on. They have the capability to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, some children are raised by terrible parents who are abusive and tell them lies and physically abuse them. When does the pain reach its worst? It is when the child starts to believe everything that is said and done to him. It is when the child internalizes it. Then the child unknowingly becomes his own abuser too.

A friend asked me about Jesus in response to this. Jesus underwent suffering. What about that? Yes. Yes He did. He chose a life of suffering. He was described as a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. At the same time, He was also a man of great joy. How do I know this?

People wanted to be around Jesus.

Do you really want to be around people that are negative? Not at all. Jesus was invited to parties and gatherings. When people were loved by Jesus, they took that as God loving them. Jesus had done miracles and spoke in the style of a prophet to show who He was. People came to Him for forgiveness instead of the temple. People came to Him for healing instead of the temple. In fact, Hebrews tells us that Jesus went to the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Jesus was not looking at the suffering itself. He was looking beyond the suffering to the fruit that it would be used for.

We in the midst of our suffering have to do the same, and might I say we tend to fare worse than our counterparts? There are people that live without a steady food supply, no internet, not having a plumbing system to use the bathroom, subject to all manner of weather, under persecution by wicked governments, and without clean water, and many of them have more faith and joy than we have. We should be ashamed to see the suffering that other people face with joy and compare that to the kind of suffering that we too often complain about over here.

And who is responsible for that?

They are the ones choosing to rejoice in the face of suffering. We are the ones choosing to focus on the suffering that we have. We cannot control the suffering that others inflict on us, but we can control the suffering that we choose to reflect on. This can take time and work depending our psychology, but we have that choice.

Do not define me as suffering with Aspergers. My life is an adventure. I thrive. I am happy to be alive. I choose to live every day seeking to learn more about my God and to serve Him. I love doing Christian apologetics. I love the wife that I’ve been given. All of this is a gift to me from God. I serve Him and I look forward to serving Him in His Kingdom.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/11/2015: Sarah Ankenman

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

We’re going to be continuing this month looking at Autism and Aspergers and life on the spectrum. Last week, I spoke to my friend Dan Ventress and we discussed our lives together. This Saturday, I’m going to be speaking to my friend Sarah Ankenman. Sarah and I met at the New Orleans Defend The Faith conference and she is also one of the group of women in apologetics. She also happens to have a son who is autistic. We will be talking to her about her life as an apologist and we will be focusing on her life with her son and how that has affected her life, what she knows about autism now from her experience, and what impact that has on her ministry. So who is Sarah?

SarahAnkenman

Sarah Ankenman currently works at Online for Life as the Director of Pregnancy Resource Center Relations and is the Founder of The International Society of Women in Apologetics. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education and graduated with a Masters in Christian Leadership from Grand Canyon University. She received her Bachelors in Biblical Studies at Calvary Chapel Bible College and has a second in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University. She is currently teaching an Intro to Apologetics class at Maranatha Chapel’s School of Ministry in San Diego. In the past, she has taught Women in Faith, Drama and Film, and Apologetics to Islam at Calvary Chapel Bible College and Apologetics and Worldviews, Church History, and Comparative Religions at Maranatha High School in Rancho Bernardo, CA. She also currently speaks across the country on topics like Equipping Your Kids, The Case for the Anti-Abortion Position, Apologetics to Islam, Seeking Something More: The Argument from Desire, Why Apologetics?, The Definition of Truth, God’s Existence, Miracles, the Reliability of the Bible, and Rethroning Jesus: The Case for His Existence, Death, Deity, and Resurrection. She has also written a curriculum to equip the average, busy Christian woman in apologetics. She blogs as The Valley Girl Apologist and is currently working on a book entitled Seeking Something More, on the argument from desire.

Sarah has a wide range of interests as you can see and this time we will be having the focus on autism. This can be tied in with many of the issues that she does speak about. What about women who might want to get an abortion if they were to somehow find out that their child is or could be autistic? Why does God allow people to have disabilities like this, especially if they are so severe that your life can be interfered with to some extent? What do you learn about being a good parent? What advice would you give to other parents who have children on the spectrum?

I hope this will be an interesting talk for you and I hope that this month will open you up more to the world that is life on the autistic spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/4/2015: Aspergers and Apologetics

What’s coming up on this week’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, some of you might be wondering why you haven’t received any updates since the Jerry Walls episode. The answer is that there haven’t been new episodes. We had to cancel the David Marshall interview because I came down with the flu and then Mike Edens had to cancel on us, but hopefully we will this Saturday return to our regular podcasting.

As I hope you know, April is Autism Awareness Month which includes those of us who are Aspies. This month all of our shows will be revolving around this topic. We are going to have an apologist who is a mother later on this month talking about her life with a son with Aspergers. We are going to be having a father come on later who is also an apologist talking about life with his son with Aspergers. Also, we will have Stephen Bedard on who has two children with Autism and he has written a book on how to make your church more autism friendly. So if that’s all coming up later, what’s going to be going on this Saturday?

This Saturday, you’re going to hear from myself and a few others in a round table discussion. What we all have in common is that we’re all apologists and we all have Aspergers. I will be leading this discussion as the host as to how life is for us on the spectrum. Do we have any bonuses in our eyes because of our condition? Are there any negatives that we have to work on? How does it affect our Christian life overall? After all, you can read many books on the subject, and I encourage you to do so, but there is nothing like hearing from someone who is on the spectrum yourself.

At this point, I do not know for sure who all the guests are going to be. My friends Will Herb and Dan Ventress have already said that they will come on. We are hoping that Jonathan McLatchie will also come on. I plan on us not just discussing apologetics but also discussing our day to day lives. How do we do in social situations? Do we have any idiosyncracies that it can be hard for other people to understand? Also, what about social situations? How do we go about making friends and how do we act with them? What about with our family? What about with the opposite sex?

I also hope we will discuss what we think the church can do differently for people who are on the spectrum. Are there any things the church does right now that are problematic for reaching people who are on the spectrum? Could it be that maybe those on the spectrum will more often respond more to intellectual ideas rather than to social ideas? More and more people are being diagnosed as being on the spectrum so this is a group we need to be more aware of.

I hope you’ll be watching your podcast feed! I hope this will be a very informative episode for you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters