Book Plunge: Why Christianity Is Not True Chapter 2.

How do skeptics respond to miraculous healings? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I count Nabeel Qureshi as a friend. My wife and I prayed for him every day when we found out he had stomach cancer of the most advanced kind. There were several people praying for Nabeel all over the world.

Despite this, Nabeel died.

So yes, I am familiar with people talking about faith healing. I do believe that it can happen, but it’s not a necessity. God does things for His own reasons. It is my duty to trust when I don’t know those reasons.

In this chapter, David Pye looks at miraculous healings. I find this an odd place to go to so early on. I do believe there is good evidence that miracles have happened and do happen, but generally, it’s not the best starting point. If you’re a hardened skeptic, you will find a way to explain everything in that lens. If you are a Christian, you are far more prone to see the miraculous.

So let’s go through David Pye’s chapter.

At the start, he does list several conditions people are said to be healed from, but then we get to a problematic statement.

“But what about conditions like Alzheimer’s disease? Huntington’s chorea? Cerebral palsy? Why are people diagnosed with these conditions never healed?”

How does Pye know this?

To begin with, if you don’t believe miraculous healing is possible, then of course, miraculous healings of these have never taken place, but alas, we are arguing in a circle at that point. For Pye to know this, he would have to have exhaustive knowledge of all the Earth past and present. Even if the claim was true, that would not rule out that it could happen. There could hypothetically never have been a miracle in Earth’s history, and yet miraculous healing could still be possible.

In all this chapter, there is never any interaction with the best sources on this. Of course, such a work could have been written before their release, but it would be nice to see more miracle claims looked at. Only one is really examined. There is no interaction with a work like Craig Keener’s Miracles. Keener in this work traveled all over the world collecting accounts of miraculous healing, some with medical documentation.

Pye prefers to speak of surprising or astonishing healings. He does say that these happen in other religions and happen in hypnosis. I believe we are getting into the whole “Why do miracles happen in other religions?” I do not know why that would be a problem for me.

You see, if a miraculous healing takes place, then miracles are possible and the position of atheism is in serious trouble. As a Christian, I can think of any number of reasons. Perhaps it is a demonic interaction taking place. Perhaps God is extending some grace outside of Christianity to bring someone to Christianity. We don’t know. For the former, there is even a Biblical precedent. One could look to the beast being healed in Revelation 13 for an example. Of course, I read Revelation differently than most Christians, but the idea of a healing from a dark source is still there.

He goes on to say that

“If Christianity were true we might expect miraculous healings to occur only through Christian healers. Or we might expect Christian healings to be far more impressive than  healings in other contexts – for example, there being conditions which only Christian healers, but no-one else, are able to heal. I am not aware of any definitive investigation of comparative success at healing in different religions but my strong impression is that all have about the same success rate. Christianity doesn’t stand out as noticeably superior (nor does any other religion).”

I find this again quite odd. He is not aware of any definitive investigation, but he wishes to make a universal statement on a “strong impression.” How is this done? If I say I have a strong impression that many skeptics don’t come to Christianity because they want to continue living in sin, would anyone really accept this?

He also quotes from John Dominic Crossan on Wikipedia about healing shrines. Absent is any data directly from the shrines themselves. Someone like Keener actually did the hard work on that level.

He then tells a story about a man healed from a chronic skin disease. Then, he describes a similar story with someone healed under hypnosis. I do not see how this is meant to be a rebuttal. God could do through miraculous means what could be done through natural means. In understanding miracles, there are first-class and second-class miracle. First class are things that cannot happen by any means we know of. Jesus rising from the dead would be one. For a second, consider Israel crossing the Jordan to enter the Promised Land. The waters stop so they can pass. That in itself is not a miracle. The waters had stopped before and probably have since then. What is a miracle is that it happened when it happened. Keener lists several times in his book where something was healed because of a prayer in the name of Jesus specifically.

The next section is about exorcism. Pye does think something happens, but it is certainly not the expulsion of a demon. I invite Pye to really look at such accounts of demonic possession, such as the ones with super strength and such. Note also exorcism was common in the ancient world and it wasn’t just Christians doing it, but Jesus was the one deemed the most successful and it is widely agreed among New Testament scholars today that Jesus had a reputation as both a healer and an exorcist.

It’s worth pointing out that Pye regularly speaks of the natural and the supernatural. I will not speak of the supernatural save when he does. I do not really like the term supernatural as it is way too vague. My thoughts on that can be found here.

Pye does list many realities of life about suffering. The problem is while these may seem foreign to a Western audience, to the audience Jesus spoke to and Christianity rose up in, while the science would not be there, the reality would be well known. Suffering is real. Many of these people encountered death on a regular basis. Pye thinks Buddhism is more real in admitting these realities up front. Chrisitanity does too though. It has no reason to deny them. This was the world Jesus lived in. The problem for us is our modern Western world treats suffering like an exception. People in many countries today risk their lives if they walk to church. We consider it suffering if we don’t get a parking spot near the church on Sunday morning.

There is something on church politics and how that some people don’t talk about healing lest they be seen as immature and such. My wife and I are both part of Celebrate Recovery at our church. That leads me to think that this is not really valid. In a group like this, people are encouraged to come and let their guard down. In turn, through this, I have come to know this group of people much better than others. I think the church could learn a lot here.

Finally, Pye has something on the disabled. Readers of this blog know that my wife and I both have Aspergers. That awareness is near and dear to my heart. I rejoice at seeing Autism coming into the mainstream through such shows as The Good Doctor.

Pye says here

“So, here we have two viewpoints, two approaches, with regard to disabled people – and the results of both approaches can be evaluated.
On the one hand many Christians have said that disabled people can and should be healed of their disabilities. But, in practice, such healing doesn’t happen.

And on the other hand you have a primarily secular initiative which sees disabled people as full people who have full human rights and who deserve respect, acceptance and opportunities just as much as non-disabled people. And this sort of outlook has changed society for the better (and continues to do so) giving disabled people a better chance of fulfilling lives.

Which position is better? One that promises much but delivers little (and may even cause harm)? Or one that is more modest but has, nonetheless, delivered significant changes for the better?”

I find this to be a radical dichotomy. There is nothing wrong with praying for someone to be healed who has a seriously debilitating disability. (At the same time, I have no wish to be healed of Aspergers. Others would, but not I.) That does not mean that they are any less human. If someone thinks so, this thinking does not come from Jesus.

Yet I have to ask, where does the secularist position come from? Disabled are full people who deserve full human rights? I agree, but upon what are these rights grounded? What makes a human so valuable? Are we not all the result of a cosmic accident? Why should any of us “deserve” anything? It looks to me like a morality floating in air.

This does not mean that I am not thankful that Pye takes the position that he does with the disabled, but I wonder how he could ground it. I think too often skeptics have taken the morality that comes from Christianity, assumed that it is just something everyone really knows, takes it for granted, and then acts like it fits in right at home with their worldview.

When we return to this book, we’ll look at chapter 3 on evangelism and eternity.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/14/2018: Hugh And Kathy Ross

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

Marriage can be hard enough as it is sometimes. Just take a man and a woman and put them together and inevitably, some sparks will fly. Some will spark fires of passion, but some will spark fires of anger. Every relationship has difficulties, but some relationships could be more interesting than others.

Last week, one of the topics we covered was a marriage where both of the people involved have Aspergers, namely my wife and I. This week, we are going to cover a marriage where one person has it and the other doesn’t. To do this, we are bringing back one of our favorite guests and his wife.

My guest is the president of his own ministry. He is a highly successful astronomer who works on the intersection between Christianity and science. One of the great aids to what he is doing today is his wife who has never been on the show before but this time is joining us. He is Dr. Hugh Ross and his wife Kathy is joining us.

So who are they?

Astronomer and best-selling author Hugh Ross travels the globe speaking on the compatibility of advancing scientific discoveries with the timeless truths of Christianity. His organization, Reasons to Believe, is dedicated to demonstrating, via a variety of resources and events, that science and biblical faith are allies, not enemies.  

Working alongside Hugh is his wife, Kathy. She holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Southern California, worked in communications there, and later taught at Pasadena City College. In addition to editing Hugh’s books, Kathy serves as a vice president at RTB, overseeing multiple ministry departments.

What’s it like for a neurotypical person being married on the spectrum? Are there trials and challenges that neurotypical marriages do not have? How do couples work to overcome these challenges if they do exist?

How did the marriage even come about? Did Kathy and Hugh know about Hugh’s diagnosis before they got married? If not, what did it mean for them when the diagnosis came about? Do they view the condition as a good thing for Hugh or a bad thing?

The Rosses also have kids. Was that an issue? Were there concerns about the functionality of the children if they were born on the spectrum? How does parenting work on the spectrum? Does Dr. Ross have any advantages in the area or does he have any particular disadvantages?

Dr. Ross has often been one of my favorite guests to have on due to also being on the spectrum and someone I get along with very well. I’m thrilled to have him come on and talk about marriage, which is also one of my favorite topics, and to have him come on with his wife Kathy to discuss this important topic and give insights that could help other marriages that are mixed in this sense. I hope you’ll be watching for this episode and please go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/7/2018: The Fairest Of Them All

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

As the host of the Deeper Waters Podcast, I constantly get asked the question about who is my favorite guest I’ve had on. I’ve never been able to answer that question. I’ve had on so many great guests that I don’t think I could have easily pinpointed one and said, “Yes. This is my favorite guest.”

At least, that was the case, until now.

As you should know, this month is Autism Awareness Month. It’s a month that is near and dear to my heart. I always try to have guests on that know about Autism and have them speak on the subject. This Saturday I kick it off by having the best guest I can think of on to talk about Autism.

This is someone who knows about Autism from personal experience of having to live with it. Not only do they have to live with it, they have to live with someone who lives with it as they are married to someone with Aspergers. By the way, this guest that I am having on is someone who is incredibly awesome and is a real knockout to boot.

This Saturday, my wife has agreed to join me on the Deeper Waters Podcast. You all have heard me talk about Allie before many times. Now this time you’re going to get to hear from her yourselves.

My experience with Aspergers has been very different from Allie’s. We’re going to look into that. What was it like growing up? What was it that made her realize that she was different from everyone else? How is it that she came to be diagnosed with Aspergers? What did that mean for her? Was it good news or bad news?

As many of you know, Allie got a very different sort of traits than I did from Aspergers. She is actually incredibly high on the empathy scale. Her main language is also not logic but art. Believe it or not, while she does agree that apologetics is important and needed, she does not really enjoy talking about it. (Please remember that all my Facebook friends who think she shares a deep love for the field. She doesn’t.)

She doesn’t want to focus on this, but we will have to talk about married life some. What’s it like not only being on the spectrum yourself, but being married to someone on the spectrum? Are there any hurdles that you face that you think other couples don’t face?

What about church? Is there anything you wish churches knew about how to communicate with people with Aspergers? What are some steps that could be taken if there is room for improvement?

I am really looking forward to this interview. (Although Allie is a bit apprehensive about it) I can now say my favorite guest would be getting to have my wife on my show. Please be looking for this episode and please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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: 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

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