A Tribute To Steve

What difference can a life make? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you might have wondered where Deeper Waters has been. I did not do the podcasts these past two weeks due to emergencies that came up and took a break from the blog. On Monday, we received word that our friend Steve who we knew had terminal cancer was on his last legs. We had planned to go back to Knoxville on Thursday, but we went Monday instead. We got back just last Saturday, the longest we’d been away from our home like that.

Let me tell you a bit about Steve first. I met him and his wife Mickey at our church in Knoxville, The Point. We were part of a couples group and in came this couple I’d never seen. This small blond woman and this big guy who looked like a barroom bouncer covered in tattoos.

Okay. This is new.

Now I grew up in a culture where this didn’t fit with me, but I have learned to unthink some things and so I decided to have an open mind. We slowly got to know this couple. At one point, they said they like politics, but they don’t talk about it because it becomes such a heated subject then. I figured “Well we’re in the South and most of us are conservative, so these must be some liberals.”

And as time went on, I found out I was wrong. These two were just as conservative as I am. They are great Reagan conservatives. We formed a good friendship with them. They even came to our house. Steve told us about his story growing up and when Mickey and Allie did some cooking together, we put our time to more beneficial matters.

That’s right. We watched Smallville together!

Some time later, we learned that Steve had stage 4 esophagus cancer. Now I have to tell you Steve is quite likely the toughest guy I know. I was sure if anyone could beat cancer, it would be Steve. We would see him go to the hospital going in and out of chemo. They would try to bring cats for him as well because this big tough guy had a kitten fetish. Even if it was a stuffed kitten, he loved it.

Steve was also a selfless guy. Allie had been going through a hard time before we knew how bad Steve was this month and she called to talk to Mickey and Steve even with his cancer was just asking “Is Allie okay?” She was amazed that he was still focused on helping her with her by comparison small problems. That’s Steve for you.

When we went back a couple of weeks ago, the big tough guy I knew was unrecognizable. I don’t know if he heard anything that I said to him. It was like there was just a shell there at this point and we spent our time with Mickey offering her our comfort and support. At times I would go out to the car alone such as when I had to deliver some clothes to the church for her and just cry a bit on my own before I drove on.

In fact, Mickey wanted to see if Steve’s shoes he’d got would fit me. They didn’t, but honestly, I was kind of relieved they didn’t. I did not think that I was at all worthy to wear Steve’s shoes. I still do not.

In Knoxville, we waited. We knew the time would be soon, and it put us in an odd situation. You see, you always hope that a miracle will take place, while still knowing that the person is in great pain and maybe the best thing to do is to just let it all come to a close.

On August 12th, it did.

We were some of the first to receive the call early in the morning. I was saddened, but at the same time relieved that the battle was over. Still, there was a sense about it that it was unreal. There was a part of me that was always wanting to say “Surely the story is not supposed to be like this.”

C.S. Lewis has written that in the face of evil, it’s not the case that the great fear is that God does not exist. It is the great fear that God exists and you are about to see what He is really like. Why Steve of all people? Why? As I told my pastor that week, there are times I hate being in ministry. Especially since I have to go out and still defend the goodness of God. Don’t take me wrong. I definitely believe that God is good, but sometimes the emotions can seem to overtake the reason.

At the funeral, I was one who came up to speak in the sharing section sharing briefly some things that I’ve shared here. I sat down and from time to time I’d lose it a bit when I saw a picture and had to pull myself together. I remember at one point during a meal time that I went into the room where the body had been and saw nothing there.

It was then that I practically could imagine in my mind a sort of battle taking place. As if I wanted to take on death itself saying that it had come for the wrong person. Is it ridiculous to think one could fight death like that? Yes, but I think we can all understand where I’m coming from with that.

I was also an honorary pallbearer and so I was at the graveside service. Even there, I had to hold things in. I was thankful for the bishop who spoke there in mentioning the resurrection. That is the fact that changes everything. It is a fact also all too often not mentioned at funerals. We talk about Heaven, but we don’t talk about the resurrection. Guess which one Paul talked about the most.

There is an emptiness here always. We still keep in touch with Mickey and plan to do so always. Mickey is still a great encouragement to my wife, but I think the greatest honor we could give Steve would be to live our lives accordingly in honor of the Christ He loves. I’m also often trying to speak of Steve not in past tense but in present tense, because it’s not as if Steve no longer exists. He exists in a different way now. He and Mickey may be separated now, but it is a temporal separation.

If you would like to see Steve and sign his guestbook, for the time being you can go here. On the show, I had meant to do a call for donations if that came up. Since I was not able to do the show, I would ask per request of Mickey that if anyone wanted to send something to help, they would prefer to have something done in Steve’s name for the Disabled Veterans of America.

Steve. We miss you greatly. Even as I write this, there is a great sadness. I hope my life is lived in such a way to honor the Christ you always seek to honor.

(For all interested, my wife Allie’s blog on Steve can be found here.)

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Was Jesus Scared?

Did our Lord have fear? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my wife wrote an excellent blog about fear. In it, she raised the question about Jesus in the garden. Did Jesus have fear as he knelt and asked that the cup pass through Him? I think she handled it well from a practical perspective in that she did make sure to emphasize that Jesus was fully human. One of the great dangers of our modern age is that we have so emphasized the deity of Christ that we have often forgotten His humanity.

Still, what was going on in the Garden? Did Jesus have fear? If we look at the account in Matthew, we can see that Jesus had sorrow. Sorrow itself is not a sin to have. There are some things that should make us sad. We can know how sorrowful Jesus was since He was sorrowful to the point of death. This is the lowest despair you can be in.

And what was it that Jesus was not wanting to experience at this time? Now some might say the crucifixion, and of course we can certainly all agree that “Being crucified” is not on our bucket lists. Still, was Jesus wanting to avoid strong physical pain, even intense physical pain like a crucifixion, and that sorrow of undergoing that was what was ripping His soul apart?

I don’t think so.

I think what Jesus was not wanting to undergo at the time was in some sense a separation from the Father. Jesus did not want to have to experience bearing the sins of the world on Him. It’s a lesson to us that Jesus considered His relationship with the Father so serious that He did not want to in any way bear anything that would be contrary to that relationship. Now what exactly happened when that took place? That is for another blog and something I still think about, but today we are talking about the garden.

The difference in Jesus’s action was that He said not what He willed, but what the Father willed. Jesus wanted to avoid the cross and that was certainly not a wrong desire, but if it had to be that way, He was willing to go through with it. That is what makes the difference. It’s okay to not want to go through some things, but ultimately, what shows Jesus’s character in the face of all of this was that He chose the will of God over His own will.

Keep in mind also that Jesus is to be our example in the New Testament and we are to walk as He walked. That means that we are to choose the desires of the Father over our desires. Now that might be something we consider if we have to face something like being willing to die for Christ, but could it be the greatest challenge in the world is not dying for Christ but living for Him? If you are willing to say that you will not recant and be killed, your struggle ends pretty quickly. What about the struggle of today?

What about the struggle to be a good spouse to the person you’re married to? What about the struggle to raise your children in the fear of the Lord? What about the struggle to live within your financial means? What about the struggle to trust God in all things? What about the struggle to remove evil from your own heart?

Jesus in all of His life gave to the will of the Father every time and lived accordingly. Now to be sure, He did not face everything that we faced, but He is no stranger to temptation either and He knew what it meant. He also knew what it meant to succeed and calls us to do the same.

Jesus was willing to die for the will of God. The question for us today is if we’re willing to live for the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Look At Death

What happens when someone crosses over? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my wife received word that an older friend of hers had died of cancer after a long battle. This was a friend I had never got to meet and a friend who also valued Allie and if there was something of Allie this friend wanted, it would have been to have a husband. This friend will not get to have that dream realized as she passed away at 2 P.M. yesterday.

Now frankly, I’m not the best comforter in those times of need. For someone like myself, it can be difficult to have that emotional connection. Were things the other way around, this is the area my wife would excel at. She is quite good at connecting with people emotionally. I am not. I much more excel at connecting with people intellectually and rationally.

So let’s look at the topic of death. Too often, I think we forget what death really means. Death means that this side of eternity, there will be no interaction. You will not get to hear their voice again (Save recordings and such). You will not get to talk to them. You will not see their face. (Save pictures.) You will not share a laugh or a joke. Nothing ever again.

It’s a pretty bleak picture.

A lot of times, we say things that are meant to console. They don’t. In fact, if we were being honest, nothing we say could console. Perhaps we do it also to relieve our own stress at not being able to help a loved one. No doubt, we mean well, but everything we say is empty, and frankly, it should be. It shouldn’t be that we hear something and think “Why oh yes! Thank you! I’m no longer grieving over this loved one!”

In some ways, you will spend the rest of your life grieving. It depends on how much the person meant to you. There are many people that I’m not consciously thinking about every day. Still, when I see something about them, I remember and I have some sadness. I think right now of my friend Gretchen Coburn and Jonathan Dileo. (Jonathan’s charity can be found here.)

The closer the person was to you, the more you will grieve. Lose a friend? You’re going to grieve. Lose a best friend? You’re going to grieve even more. Lose a spouse? That will be intense grieving. I will not dare to speak yet of how intense it is to bury a child, though I have known people who have done that. It is said that burying a parent is losing the past, a spouse the present, and a child the future.

Death is something we’d all like to do without.

And this is what makes Christianity so important.

Often when Christians talk about death, we often make the mistake. The whole idea is “I wanna go to Heaven when I die.” For that kind of thinking, it’s like the Earth is an afterthought. It’s not really needed here. The whole idea of “This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.”

No. God made this world to be your home.

Now does that mean something doesn’t happen when a person dies? Not at all. If I am hearing about a Christian, all I will say is that they are in the presence of Jesus. They are not there in their bodies, which means there is something missing still, but they are in the presence of Jesus. The body though is not the accident. God made us bodied creatures.

Gnosticism was one of the first great heresies of the early church and it was a highly dominant view and one benefit it had was it dispensed with the body. Matter was wicked and evil. No need of it. Christianity said no. Why? Because Jesus really lived in a body. He wasn’t acting. Jesus really rose from the dead in a body. It’s the real deal.

This was the harder route, but it was the route they took because they had to be true to the facts. This changes our view of everything. If the body is good and matter is good, it should work with how we handle issues relating to the environment, issues related to sex, issues related to life, and issues related to death.

For the Christian then, we can mourn when someone dies. In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Thess. 4 that we do mourn. Indeed. We do. We do not mourn like those who have no hope. If our mourning is exactly like those who are non-Christians, then we have not treated our Christianity seriously.

The resurrection changes everything. The resurrection shows that death is not the final outcome of us all. It shows that even death can be defeated and reversed and in fact, so can all of the evil in our lives. If history was a symphony, the resurrection of Jesus would be the moment where everything starts to come alive with a grand crescendo waiting the final moment of the return of Christ when all is made right again.

This is also why you need to know the reality of the resurrection. The resurrection does change everything. It was the belief that changed the world and overtook the Roman Empire.

I wonder if it could do that today if we gave it the same attention and made it as central as the early church did?

In Christ,

Nick Peters

The Death To Self In Marriage

Why is it that a marriage relationship requires hard work? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I lived the bachelor life for quite some time. I didn’t marry until two months before I turned 30. I had lived on my own for a time and then I lived with a roommate, who turned out to be my best man at my wedding. It was a couple of years after moving in that we realized that like the roommate agreement, we hadn’t put in anything about what if one of us gets a girlfriend. (That seemed a little too far-fetched) As it turns out, I was the one who got one and even after the first date, talk was buzzing around our circle of friends. “Well we all know where this is going.” Indeed, we did. My roommate moved into another place and I found another apartment for my future wife and I to live in together.

So then comes the wedding and then comes the honeymoon. When we get back, it’s time to get used to living our lives together as husband and wife with sharing a grocery bill, sleeping in the same bed, and of course sex is involved.

News flash to all of you out there who are unmarried.

This is radically different from anything else.

Now I could write a separate post sometime on why I think living together beforehand is really a disastrous idea, but not now. In fact, it could be when I’m done here you might get some clues as to why I think it’s so foolish. You see, after I made those vows and came home, I had to do my part of the work. I had to get used to sharing my life with someone else. When it was just me or just me and my roommate, for the most part, I could do my own thing. Oh sure, roommates have to make sacrifices for each other, and we did, but it’s not like a binding contract. If one of us had wanted to get out, well we could have I’m sure. Friendship does not require the level of sacrifice that marriage does.

Marriage shows that the pathway to true life is death. Not in a suicidal sense, but dying to the life of self. When you cling to yourself in a marriage, you will lose and in fact, your spouse will lose. What you do to yourself, you do to your spouse. What you do to your spouse, you do to you. There really is something to the whole idea of being one flesh. When you marry, you give up the right to be your own person as it were. You belong to your spouse and your spouse belongs to you.

This is why the marriage relationship can be so difficult at times. We all want to do our own thing and be able to get away with it. We all want there to be no consequences to our actions, but there are in fact consequences. There are prices to pay. There are no actions that have no ramifications. Every little thing you do has an impact. This is also because everything you do builds up a character. You are becoming a kind of person over and over and that is the kind of person that your spouse is going to have to live with. Remember this, in marriage, the greatest gift you give to your spouse ultimately is you.

This is one reason that when a husband wants sex, and in most marriages the husbands are the go-getters (Although I do like how Mark Gungor in his Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage says that he knows some of you men out there are married to women who love sex and want it constantly and can’t get enough and I think I speak on behalf of all men when I say “We hate you.”) and when you ask them what they want, it’s more than just pleasure and a good time. They want their wives. They want them as persons and nothing leaves them feeling closer to their wives than that sexual intimacy.

For a woman, a woman will often want that security from her man. She wants to feel safe and protected and nothing seems to make her feel as safe as the presence of the man in her life. My wife can be someone who can get scared of many things and I, as anyone who sees me knows, am not a big muscular man by any stretch of the imagination. I am actually very much underweight, and yet if I have her in my arms, my wife will feel much safer. What is it that makes her feel safer? It sure isn’t knowing that I’m a powerhouse who can take down anyone who comes after her. It’s just me. I’m what makes her feel safe.

Men and women want something different from each other in marriage. There is something that they do not have in themselves and they seek that in the other, but here’s the deal.

Both parties have to die.

A man will have to sacrifice much of himself for the love of his life. A man will give his time and his money and pass up many other things he would like to do. He’s no longer free to spend every minute of his day at the golf course or be spending all that time with his friends. Now of course, he can do that from time to time and that’s fine. When we lived in Charlotte, my wife knew that on Sunday evenings, I’d go out for a bit with my friends, but if she needed me, she could call and I’d be right there. She just knew that for me, time with my friends was important, just like I want Allie to have time with her female friends apart from me.

But a man has to sacrifice much of that and he does that when he marries, but let’s be sure on one thing. Men would not marry if it were not for sex. I’m not saying a man marries only for sex, but it sure is a high ranking reason. A man sees the beauty of the woman and wants to embrace and take it on and be received by all that beauty. He wants to be as close to the beauty as he possibly can.

And so, this is the death of the woman. A woman wants that kind of security quite often, but what does she have to do. She has to risk herself. She has to put herself in a position of vulnerability, but in order to do that, she must be convinced the person she’s with will not hurt her in any way. She must be willing to make herself totally vulnerable to that person in the most intimate way possible.

The beauty of this all is that the more the persons die to themselves, the more they actually find life. In fact, in the case of sexuality, they find true life in that that kind of love is capable of bringing about a life on its own.

And this is the difficulty of marriage. Our natural tendency is to look out for #1. In marriage, we have to not do that. That means that for the husbands, your wife needs that security from you and she needs you to sacrifice for her. Meanwhile, you wives, your husbands need that intimacy with you. You will have to sacrifice.

And in fact, the more each party sacrifices, the more it will not become a burden. It will become a joy. There will be no harm in giving something to your spouse that is entirely good for them. Their joy will be your joy.

Death is the way to life in marriage, but that life is something beautiful.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Confessing Christians, Practicing Atheists

Are we really showing the difference the Christian life makes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today during some time I had alone, I started thinking about the way we live our lives. Look at how many of us wrestle with issues that we have today. How many of us in the church struggle with addictions and sorrows? Now of course, some of this is the day to day of ordinary living. Someone who has recently lost a loved one is not supposed to feel happy. There is something wrong if they do. Even barring extreme examples like that, there are regular day to day events that don’t bring us the greatest of joy, and that’s understandable, but overall, our lives are to be examples of joy.

The sad part is some readers who are down will be wanting to ask what we have to be joyful about.

Let’s start off. God is in his Heaven and Jesus is Lord and we are invited to join into His rule as the king of this world.

If you’re sitting there still wondering what the big deal is, you have a problem.

And insomuch as I do the same thing, I have a problem.

First off, I want to state some thoughts on how we got to this point exactly. Our ancestors lived in a world where the deities or deity always mattered. Christianity did not change that. Throughout the medieval period, the highest study you could attain to was the knowledge of God. You had to have learned every other subject well before you could move on to that one. Then something happened. I start it at the Reformation. Now I think even the most ardent Catholic would admit the Catholic Church was not the picture of purity and innocence at that time. Yes. Wrongs were being done by the church and yes, changes needed to take place. Of course, this is really true of every church and will be because every church is composed of these problematic creatures called humans.

The sad thing is that even though I think the Reformation was needed, a good thing can go to far. The questioning of the highest authority on Earth led to the questioning of the highest authority in Heaven. Questioning is good of course, but a lot of people were throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It would be interesting to know if this would have happened had the Reformation never happened, but we do not have access to know such a thing. I reckon it often when we do this thing to be like teenagers given the keys to their parents’ car and then suddenly thinking they’re in charge of the world and don’t need anyone, neglecting the fact that Mom and Dad hold the credit card that pays for the gas.

So we go on and note that I have said the questioning is not the problem. In fact, I wish more historical Jesus questioning had been going on and that we had been learning more. The good part for a Christian is that we can be open to any avenue of questioning and should do so without fear. What do we have to be concerned about? If Christianity is true, then honest and real investigation will lead to that. If it is not, then we should be thankful that we have been shown that that which we put our greatest trust in is false. Naturally, I do not see this happening on any level, but I still do read the opposing sides just in case I am missing anything.

As we moved on, we got to Deism. There is a God, but He’s more of an absentee God. He created things, but He cares nothing about you. He is indifferent to all the evil that is going on in this world. This deity is more of a stopgap to explain the word philosophically. However, people who grow up with absentee fathers can often say that there is little difference between an absentee father and no father at all. They certainly can and they certainly do say that. The next step in the worldview would act on it and that would lead us to atheism.

If atheism is true, then really, we are in a bind. We have to seek out something. Man by nature does want to be happy. He wants at least the satisfaction of his desires. If his highest desires, such as his rationality, lead to nothingness, then why not move on to his other desires? This is where we end up centering our lives on things like sex, money, food, fame, drugs, etc. Many of these can be good things in themselves. In fact, the first one on the list, sex, is quite likely our nation’s #1 choice of deity right now. Many a Christian can easily understand this, and if we don’t, that says more about our sex lives than it does about sex itself. Sex was made to be a beautiful and wonderful and transcendent experience. As a lady was telling my wife and I yesterday, it is a great power women have over men especially and men will do most anything for this good. I can easily say it is amazing how many life changes I made for the better in my life after getting married and how much more confident I was in many areas. That is not an accident.

But there is a danger here. One dare not think about sex too much on this level. What is it for? Does it have any greater purpose? Is there anything beyond the physical act? Such thinking could lead one to questions that might wind up with God, the explanation that is desired to be avoided. One pastoral author has said actually that if anyone asks you to prove that God exists, just answer with one word. “Sex.” If they don’t understand your argument, they’ve quite likely said more about their sex life than they ever intended. Many of my friends are single and could be thinking I’m making too big a deal here. If you’re one of those, just wait until you get married and then get back to me.

This is also why our nation is so odd when it comes to sex. Although we have mountains of evidence of the dangers of constant illicit sex, although our experience shows it, although there is much science backing the pro-life position, this is all ignored. The only reason this is ignored is because it is sex. As soon as we start saying there is a proper time and a proper place for sex and a proper purpose for it, well then we enter into the area of design. We are the children once again who are satisfied with having the toy that we pay no attention to who gave us the toy and why they gave it to us.

So we have a world that lives like there is no God, and many are sure there isn’t, and that our highest good is the satisfaction of our own desires.

We expect that of those outside the fold.

But it’s also showing up within the fold.

Yet what if we could return to that one central truth? There is a God and Father who is in charge of the world and while He doesn’t always interact as we would like, He does interact. It is an incredible interaction every day that He holds all creation together. Yet even still, to say that there is a God is not enough. That can get you deism, but deism really doesn’t answer our existential cravings so much. This is a great danger especially in apologetics. We can spend so much time defending a goal that we forget what difference the goal makes. Lewis said we can defend God so much that we would give the impression that God has nothing better to do than simply to exist.

Theism is indeed an awesome and incredible claim, but we Christians make a more incredible one. This God that we worship exists in Trinity and the second person of this Trinity entered into human history. He walked as one of us, lived a life like one of us, and then He died. He died and then He rose again in a new and glorified body and in fact promised that if we follow Him, that the same thing would happen to us.

Let’s keep one thing in mind. When the skeptic says that this is a unique claim, they are right. They in fact could realize more the greatness of what it is that we are claiming. We do need a lot of evidence to back this and I have given it elsewhere here and there are many scholarly works that do demonstrate that great evidence. Yet here is where the rubber meets the road ultimately. Take Lewis’s statement and apply it here. Could we sometimes be so caught up in defending the resurrection, which we absolutely must do, that we would practically give the impression that the most important point is to show that Jesus arose, though who on Earth knows why He did?

Recently, a cousin of mine who’s a pastor put up a status about following Jesus on Facebook and how important it is. I certainly agree that it is, but I wanted to press the issue some. I did state that I was a Christian, but I was interested in people asking the question about why we follow Jesus. What purpose could we have to it? The sad tragedy is that I don’t think anyone ever responded to that. Now if we are unable to tell ourselves why it is that we follow Jesus, how on Earth could it be that we could tell someone else why they should follow Jesus? Do we do it just for our personal feelings? “Try Jesus! You’ll like Him!” We can in our evangelism and giving our “personal testimony” treat Jesus as if He was some 12-step program that if we follow Him will make us all feel better about ourselves.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s more to following Jesus.

We are right to defend the resurrection as a historical reality. As it is, I want to be adamant on that. Christianity hangs or dies on this being a real event or not. If Jesus is not risen, let us please go on our way and do something else. If He did rise, let us do nothing else than live the way He commanded us to as servants of the Kingdom. The danger is that we take the resurrection of Jesus and make it a past event only and ignore that it is a reality that reaches far beyond itself to touch everything that happens around it. If the resurrection of Jesus is true, then everything else in this world is different. If it is not, then as Paul said “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

If the resurrection is not true, I frankly cannot blame the world for living the way that it lives.

If the resurrection is true, I can greatly blame Christians, including myself, for living the way we live.

Let’s return to that starting place. God exists, well and good. But who is He? What is He like? We could use our Aristotelian proofs, and do not misunderstand me. I think the Aristotelian-Thomistic arguments are powerful and conclusive to show that God exists, but this deity is not necessarily the God revealed in Jesus Christ. He could be, but He is not necessarily. That does not mean the arguments are useless. They are a stepping stone. We must go to the greatest revelation of God and too often, we’ve treated the historical Jesus as the resurrected Messiah, but not in any way revealing to us who God is.

If our theology is not informed by Jesus, our theology is not an informed theology.

I’d therefore like to challenge myself and everyone else to know what it is you believe and why it is that you believe it. I have in fact used this approach in person before. When my grandmother passed away, I was one of three pastors given ten minutes to speak. I had lain out what I wanted to speak on and my own wife and mother at the time were skeptical, but I asked them to trust me on it. Later on, they had to admit my practice was a right one. In the first five minutes, I gave a brief apologetic to show that the resurrection of Jesus was a historical reality. I spent the last five showing what a difference it made, including what it meant and would mean for my grandmother. Both of the other preachers I found out later were impressed and the audience I think overall left in a good mood celebrating the life of my grandmother, which was also helped as after I was done, I was the Master of Ceremonies as it were gathering stories for us to share publicly about my grandmother.

Now was there still sorrow? Absolutely. My grandmother had died. Even as I write this, there is a tinge of sorrow, especially as I realize my wife and I currently live in her old house. This house that I used to go see my grandmother in regularly is the one we live in today and if I thought of it long enough, I could see many memories forming in my mind here. Yet that sorrow is not overwhelming. Paul told the Thessalonians that we mourn, but not like those who have no hope. Yes. We should mourn. Mourning is good and healthy. It is part of grief, but it is not proper to mourn as if we have a lost cause. When we mourn, we mourn not for the loved one in Christ who died. We mourn for ourselves as our lives are forever more lowered without these people in them.

But as we mourn, there is a hint of rejoicing. We know the story is not over yet. There is a God who has acted in Christ.

As I end this, I hope there is a note of joy showing up in you. If there isn’t and you’re a Christian, you might want to ask what it would take. If the fact that God exists and has revealed Himself in Christ and has invited you to join in His Kingdom does not excite you, good grief but whatever could?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Tragedy of Suicide

Why is it always tragic when someone takes their own life? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many people today are talking about Brittany Maynard and how she did decide to end her own life due to having a terminal disease. I’ll be upfront about my stance on this. To take one’s own life in an active manner like this is immoral. Had she let nature run its course and not resist knowing the case was terminal, that would not necessarily be immoral.

Unfortunately, when many people see something like this, they will themselves start to consider the question of suicide. Suicide is often made to be a noble act in our culture. We can think of Robin Williams who had the meme going around with being told “Genie. You’re free.” I did write about that shortly afterwards and also posted a piece my wife Allie wrote on suicide.

Suicide is a tragedy because life itself is something wonderful and when you choose to end your life actively, you are making a statement not just about your life, but also a statement about everything else that is out there. Chesterton said years ago that a martyr dies because he believes there is something worth dying for. A suicide dies because he believes there is nothing worth living for.

If you have something, anything, then you can fight on and live. To say that you want to end your life is to tell every single facet of creation that none of it is worthwhile. It is to say that your pain trumps all of that. Please note also that in all of this, nothing is being said about the state of one’s salvation. I do not say suicide is the unforgivable sin, but I certainly do see the Scriptural position of it as sinful.

Unfortunately, events like the death of Maynard do not help us see suicide as a tragedy, but rather as something somehow dignified. What is dignified however about it? What is dignified is choosing to face your life and not let pain define you. It is choosing to enjoy every moment that you are given instead of saying none of those future moments will be worth it.

If we are people who see this today, then we need to see it today. Are we really looking at our world and seeing all the good that is in it, or are we choosing to let our pain define us? Many of us can often even identify ourselves by our struggles. We identify ourselves as alcoholics or porn addicts or drug addicts. These can be facets of who we are, and we should certainly work on them if they’re problems for us, but we do not need to let them identify us.

What happened to Maynard is a tragedy, and we should be mourning. Oh we can celebrate the life that was here, but it is always tragic when someone chooses to end their own life. We can say it’s noble if someone takes a bullet for someone else in self-defense, but it is not when someone pulls the trigger themselves. The former says the other person is worth dying for. The latter says no person is worth living for.

Celebrate life today and while we honor the person who died, let us make sure we never honor suicide. It always will leave pain to those left behind. There’s enough pain with the death itself. Let’s not add to it.

A Tribute To Gretchen Passantino Coburn

Will you run your race so that you finish well? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I believe it was just a couple of days ago that my wife asked me to pray for Gretchen Passantino Coburn, someone highly instrumental with the apologetics ministry of Answers in Action. I was told she was going under for an operation. Of course we prayed, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking “Gretchen is really tough. She’ll be out of this in no time and bouncing right back.”

As an apologist, I make it a point to try to not be wrong.

And this time, I really really hate that I was wrong.

When we got home yesterday, we found out the news. Gretchen had passed away from a massive heart attack. It left a dark cloud hanging over our household for the rest of the evening and that kept going. I don’t think either one of us slept the best last night.

Now I’m not going to be one who says I knew Gretchen very well. I didn’t. Now I wish I had known her well, but alas, I did not. Still, when we did talk, it was always a good and friendly conversation. When I posted something on the Deeper Waters Facebook page, she would sometimes comment, and I always delighted in her comments.

I also liked about Gretchen that she was someone who was real. One memory I have of her that could seem awkward is when her husband came home from a long trip. He told her that he was back from his trip to which she said “See you in the bedroom!” Some of you could think I’m sharing something private. I’m not. This was posted right on Facebook. Everyone could get to see it, but that was something that made it special too. This was a couple with a great love for one another and they weren’t afraid to show it.

It also brought out what I just said. Gretchen was real. She was an apologist who was not afraid to show her fun-loving and joking side. In a private conversation, she even made a joke to me once that my Aspie self had a hard time responding to. She apologized when she found out, but I told her there was no need to. I appreciated her humor. I really liked that about her.

I found Gretchen’s articles that she wrote to be quite helpful at times and fair, even if I didn’t always agree. Gretchen never acted like she was better than anyone else because of her established position in the apologetics world and treated people well who were just starting their journey. That includes people like myself. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I have a habit every night of reading a portion of the Psalms and thinking about it as I try to go to sleep. I normally don’t place much stock in special events like this such as just opening the Bible and finding just the right message for you. Yet as I don’t think that commonly happens, I’m wondering if last night was an exception. I go through the Psalms in order and last night, I was reading Psalm 84 and the next section was verses 5-7.

5: Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.

I couldn’t help but think this was a fitting tribute to Gretchen. There is no doubt that Gretchen found her strength in Jesus. Anyone who looked at her knew her heart was on the path to the place of God. What about the valley of Baca? That refers to a place of pain and sorrow. Now I’m not one who thinks this whole world is awful, but it’s not as it should be. It is a place of pain for many of us.

What did Gretchen do? She made that valley less painful for the rest of us. She was the one who made it a place of springs, mainly by sharing her knowledge of Christ and letting the rest of us know that we could rightly place our trust in Jesus. She helped answer the despair of many hearts who wanted to know if Jesus was real or if the whole thing was just a fiction.

And how does it end? Gretchen is not in her resurrected body of course, but I do say she has appeared before her God. One day she will be reunited with a glorified body and we will see Gretchen as she really is, and I do not doubt that it will be far more beautiful than anything we ever saw here on Earth, which should leave us all in wonder. It will be because she will be the best reflection of God that she can possibly be.

Gretchen ran the race well. As I thought about her last night, my honest prayer was to give me the desire and enable me to do the same. It has been said that when each of us was born, we cried while the world rejoiced. We should all live our lives so that when we die, the world will cry and we will rejoice.

Right now, there is reason to rejoice for Gretchen, but we will have the tears on this side. We are not sorry for her. She is not at a loss right now. We are sorry for ourselves who are suffering the loss. A great warrior for Christ has passed on. Gretchen can never be truly replaced of course, but she would be honored to know many are rising up to fill in the spot that she left behind.

Earlier this year also, I had the joy of getting to interview Gretchen on my podcast. That interview can be heard here. Gretchen chose to talk about the beauty of life which meant dealing with the question of abortion, dealing with suffering in the intermediate stage of life. Finally, we talked about end of life issues with questions such as euthanasia. Now Gretchen has seen all the beauty of life and is now in the presence of true beauty, a beauty she could never have imagined.

God bless you Gretchen as He already has. Thank you for your friendship and I look forward to seeing you again someday.

Gretchen

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Brush With Death

What’s it like to come close to death and can you find hope afterwards? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

 

Many of you liked what I said about the death of Robin Williams. Today, I’m letting my wife Allie share some of her thoughts from a personal perspective.

 

I’m not sure if this is appropriate timing, but I feel like it might be a good time to share this.  This is my story of my brush with death.

 

Five years ago, I was dealing with some heavy depression.  I’ve always delt with heavy depression, but it reached a peak after a failed relationship with a guy I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore.  I felt like the greatest thing I could do for the world…was for me to not be in it anymore.  Besides…who would care?  Who would miss me?  I mean sure, my family would be upset, but surely they’d move on eventually right?  Everyone dies after all…just not by their own hands.  Of course, this is just how I thought.  I thought if I left no one would care or miss me except for my family and they’d only be sad for a little while, but would eventually get over it.  But the thing with suicide that is different from any other kind of death is that the family and friends will wonder, “How could I have missed the signs?  Could I have prevented them from doing this?  Could I have even been the cause of them doing this?”

So I grabbed whatever medicine I could.  I couldn’t grab them all because some of them were with my parents in their bathroom in the bedroom.  I remember chugging all those pills.  It was midnight.  After I took all the medicine, I called the guy and told him what I had done…he hung up on me.  I started writing out a note.  As I was writing it, my vision started become a little blurred and I became dizzy.  Suddenly my dad opens my bedroom door.  He asks me “What are you doing still up?”  It must’ve been between 1:30-2:30am at this point.  I told him I was just up writing something then I’d go to sleep.  I gave him one last look and told him I loved him and gave him a hug…thinking, “This is the last time I’m ever going to see my dad…he doesn’t even suspect a thing.”  He said he loved me too and left my room.  Even as I type this I’m getting teary-eyed.  When I looked in the mirror, I saw that I had four arms.  I knew this was going to be a long night.  At around 3am, it started getting really bad.  I couldn’t write anymore.  The room was moving.  The floor was moving, the walls were moving.  There were different colors.  I started getting a headache and there was a ringing in my ears.  I had to crawl to my bed.  Finally, I reached my bed.  As I layed flat on my bed, as still as I could, my feet felt like they were being lifted up, yet I could see they were still on my bed.  I turned off the light next to my bed.  My heart was racing faster than it’s ever raced before.  It literally felt like it was going to come right out of my chest!  I started having mild seizures.  My body would suddenly start seizing on its own every now and then, but then it would stop.  I was in a constant sweat, yet I had the chills.  I was cold…yet hot.  I was scared…I had heard that people who end their lives by their own hands go to hell because they didn’t trust God.  I don’t believe this theory today, but at the time, it was a scary thought.  I was praying and asking God to forgive me and asking God to please let me be with Him instead of being in hell.  I also asked God to be with my family and let them know they weren’t to blame for my death.  I had talked to a friend for a few hours until she absolutely had to go.  That’s when I started praying and prayed all night.  Then 8am comes.  I never fell asleep and I had still been praying.  My mom opens the door.  She says, “Allie, where is your brother’s medication?”  My vision wasn’t blurry anymore but I had a hard time focusing on her when I looked at her.  The first thought that came to mind was, “Why am I not dead yet?”  Then the next thought was, “I’ve been caught.”  I told her, “Look in my bathroom.”  She goes in my bathroom and I hear her yell my dad’s name, “Allie tried to kill herself!”  As I type this I feel nauseated, I can still taste the poison I put in my body.  I couldn’t really get out of bed.  My dad had to help me walk.  I couldn’t walk on my own.  The seizing had stopped.  My dad drove me to the hospital.  My mom told me she fainted in the bathroom.  We get to the hospital, and I feel terrible for the poor lady working at the front desk.  As we were talking with her, I just started vomitting.  I vomitted all over her and her nice suit.  My dad just barely missed my vomit.  I’ve been told my eyes were darting all over the place.  I was admitted into the hospital in-patient.  I was poked with needles seemed like every 10-15 minutes day and night for three days straight.  My heart was still racing rapidly.  Every now and then parts of my body would start shaking on their own, like my arm or my hand, or even a single finger, but then it would stop.  My parents would visit often.  They’d bring me Wendy’s since I hated hospital food.  I couldn’t sleep, partially because of the IV that was in my wrist.  Every time I started to doze off the darn thing would start beeping!  I had to drink this weird cranberry juice that had some medicine in it that would make me go to the bathroom and man did it make me go!  Even while I was in the hospital though, I had some crazy hallucinations.  The screen that monitored my heart I thought had games on it.  I thought the bed was moving and I even thought there were camera’s on the bed!  I thought I heard drs whispering about me behind my back.  I thought I had memories of the hospital, even though I had never been there before.  I thought I heard a flute being played.  Then the craziest one was I thought the room I was in was infested with red ants!  Red ants crawling everywhere!  The walls, ceiling, furniture, everywhere!  They’d bunch up in certain places and if I looked up at the ceiling, they’d fall on me!  But if they fell in my mouth, they tasted like paper.  I got so scared, it all seemed so real!  I had to talk to a neurologist and they had to reasure me what I was seeing, hearing, feeling, and even tasting weren’t real.  I heard my dad even cancelled a debate or speaking engagement he had because he wanted to stay with me during that time.  I had to have help going to the bathroom since I was hooked up to an IV and so many other stuff.  I was absolutely miserable.  I was really mad at God too.  I mean, I had no intention on surviving.  I had no intention on ending up in a hospital.  I also knew after doing a stunt like this, I’d end up going to another hospital I feared even more than going to hell – a mental hospital.  I had to go to one years prior for self-mutilation and it was one of the worst experiences I ever had.  Sure enough, a lady came in and spoke with my mom and me and said, “We have a nice hospital your daughter can be transferred at from here.”  I ended up going there afterwards.  As they were getting me off the hospital bed, I still had to have help because I was so weak.  They loaded me into the ambulance and transferred me to what I thought was going to be my worst nightmare – the mental hospital.  I was so exhausted…after having not slept for four days/nights straight.  When I got to the mental hospital, I barely stayed awake until finally I asked, “Can I go to bed?”  They thought it was odd of me asking, but when I told them, they were okay with it.  I finally got my first night of sleep that night.  They came in first thing in the morning and took some blood only one time the whole time I was there.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  It wasn’t like the first mental hospital I had been to prior.  The staff was nice and it was kind of comfortable there.  I was in-patient there for four days.  I was then treated out-patient for a couple of weeks.  While I was there, I was still angry with God for allowing me to live, but I tried to make the best of it.  I was so hung over the guy I tried to end my life over, I thought, “If I get better, maybe he’ll take me back!”  I didn’t realize at the time I had only been a guinea pig to him the whole time – he had never given a care about me.  While I was being treated out-patient, I got an e-mail from someone saying, “I heard about you from (family friend) and heard you needed a friend.  I’m Nick Peters.  If you want to talk I’m here.”  I was intrigued to say the least.  So we corresponded back and forth.  I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t the nicest to him.  There were times I was pretty mean to him.  But there were times where he could’ve been really mean back at me, but he wasn’t.  There were times he showed he actually cared about me as a friend.  At one point while we were talking online, I was really quiet about something and got upset (I don’t remember what it was about).  All of a sudden I get this phone call from an unknown number.  I answer it and they’re like, “Are you okay?”  I ask, “Who is this?”

“Nick.”

“How did you get my number?”

“Facebook.”

He was actually worried about me because I got quiet.  I started seeing other things in Nick other than him just being nice to me.  I saw a joy in him about God I wanted to have.  I had drifted a bit away from God and I missed having a close relationship with him.  Instead of being angry with God, I tried to be thankful to him for rescuing me from death and tried to get closer to him again.  I also started developing feelings for Nick.  Eventually those feelings grew into something more and now we’ve been married for 4 years!  

 

God didn’t just save my life from death that day though.  My story is truly a miraculous one.  What I have failed to mention and will mention now is that the doctors thought I was going to need a new liver.  My liver and my vital organs should’ve failed.  All those drugs I took (and I haven’t said which ones I took on purpose – but they were some pretty hefty meds) were in my system for eight hours before anyone found me that morning.  I should’ve had organ failure.  My liver should’ve died…I should’ve died.  God not only saved my life, he protected my liver and my vital organs.  The only damage that was done to me was emotional and I have some brain damage that has a 50% chance of healing.  My story is one of hope, and I hope it gives you hope.  That day God showed me a portion of his power.  God said, “Live!” and I lived!  Today I am thankful to be alive!  God continues to show me his love and grace.  He had compassion on me through this difficult time in my life.  He has blessed me so much.  He is a God filled with compassion.  He is passionate for you!  Give him your burdens, for his burden is light.  He will give you rest.

On the Death of Robin Williams

What are my thoughts on the death of Robin Williams? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

When I heard the news of Robin Williams’s death, it was in an email and I thought “That can’t be right. Surely it must be another actor with that name. Robin Williams committing suicide?” I went to IMDB and saw the age given matched perfectly. It was quite a shock to hear and it was indeed tragic.

Let’s go ahead and say it right at the start. Suicide is always tragic. 

None of us really like death, but in some cases, we can accept it to an extent. If our loved one is old and it’s “their time” we’re sorry to see them go, but we understand. If a soldier or a police officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty, we are sad to see that happen and we don’t really think it was their time, but we understand it. 

Suicide though?

That leaves us with question after question.

I put something about this on my Facebook yesterday and someone told me about someone whose Dad had committed suicide when they were five years old and how they kept asking “Did my Dad not want to see me grow up?”

This person was in their 60’s and still asking.

Suicide will leave a mark on every family when it takes place. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas will be different. Wedding anniversaries and birthdays won’t be the same. Whenever the date of the suicide comes around, the people involved will remember it. Every time they think they will ask themselves “Was there anything I could have done differently? Could I have stopped this?”

And they will never find a satisfying answer to those questions.

For our family, Robin Williams was a treasure. When my wife and I were dating, we lived in different states about 250 miles apart so I’d often bring over movies when I came to see her. At that time, she struggled with depression and one movie I bought was Patch Adams, which is about a doctor who used humor to treat his patients. 

If you’ve never seen the movie, Robin Williams’s character, Patch Adams, has set up his clinic and a girl, Carin, he has an interest in is one of his doctors that helps treat the patients. One time, she is alone and a man with mental illness of a severe nature comes to see her.

The next thing we hear is that he has murdered her.

Patch blames himself and in the following scene, we see him having a dialogue with God wondering if he can even go on.

As you see in the video, what stops him is a butterfly on his medical bag that flies on to his shirt and then he has on his finger. Why? Because Carin had said earlier how she wishes she could be a caterpillar so she could transform and fly away. Patch has his spirits renewed by this and continues his work.

Since marriage, we’ve watched a number of other films of his such as Jumanji and Mrs. Doubtfire and we did watch the only season of the Crazy Ones together. Allie also was happy to share with me about how his daughter was named Zelda, after the Legend of Zelda, a series Allie knows I thoroughly enjoy.

Since hearing the story of Williams’s death, I have also been given some hope in hearing that he had attended Redeemer Church where Tim Keller serves as pastor and that he has attended at least one other church in San Francisco on a regular basis and had been asking questions. Did he find the right answers? We can hope.

I do want to say a few other thoughts that come to me about this.

First, if you are a Christian who is making comments about someone being in Hell right now and doing so gleefully, shame on you. I have unfriended one person on Facebook who did this. It is not our call to make if someone is in Hell or not. Yet even if we were absolutely certain that they were, we should not be rejoicing in that fact.

Years ago when Saddam Hussein was still alive, someone messaged me on a forum I was in when the news came that Saddam’s sons had been found and killed and said “Isn’t this good news?” Now I was absolutely certain they were Muslims and outside the fold and I replied that it was good that the evil they would do on Earth had been stopped and they would never harm someone again, but it’s tragic that someone enters eternity without the grace of God. 

Yes. Even our enemies.

I do believe in Hell, and if you agree with me, you should defend it similar to the way that you would defend the reality of the holocaust (Since there are holocaust deniers). Both should be seen as realities and both should be seen as things that you would prefer could be otherwise. 

Christian. You may think someone didn’t do the best with their life, but the reality is, well, neither do you. We all screw up and make mistakes. On this point, I don’t care if you’re a Calvinist or an Arminian. We all know the only way we get to Heaven is by the grace of God. We do not deserve to be in the loving presence of God and walking with Jesus at all. We all need grace.

If you think Robin Williams didn’t make it, then just remember that if it wasn’t for the grace of God, neither would you. I, meanwhile, hold out hope. This is also so since I found that one of the books he read often to his children and one of his favorites was the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I hope he came to know who Aslan is in this world. 

The next point is that suicide is a tragedy. This has been said, but some people have been sharing the meme of saying “Genie. You’re free.”

What does that mean really?

Do you really want to affirm the view of the suicide and the person contemplating suicide that this world is just awful and that we should all be seeking to escape it? Let us consider what G.K. Chesterton said about those who are suicides in contrast to those who are martyrs.

“A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside of him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside of him, that he wants to see the last of everything. One wants something to begin: the other wants everything to end.”

If you are a Christian, you should know that this is your Father’s world. This world is not all that it was meant to be. That’s true, but it is not Hell. There are plenty of good things here and one just needs to take the time to see them. Many times when I have been depressed, it has been the simple things that have brought me out, such as seeing my cat play with a toy. It can also be the love of other people, such as the touch of my wife. 

You see, it’s okay to not always be in a happy mood. You’re not meant to always be happy. It’s okay to have a down day. You can’t force yourself to feel happy. If you could make yourself feel something, we’d all make ourselves feel joy. You’re not always responsible for your feelings, but you are responsible for what you do with them.

You might think Robin Williams is free today, but you know who isn’t?

If you’re reading this blog with sadness thinking about it, you’re one of the people who isn’t.

Neither are the immediate friends and family. The rest of the world is at a loss right now because of this tragedy. Suicide takes the pain that one person goes through and thrusts it instead on everyone else. It is a wound that will never be healed this side of eternity. It will be a constant reminder on the lives of everyone involved from then on.

I say this as someone familiar with it. Some of you know that when I was introduced to my now wife, it was when she was recovering from a suicide attempt.

How different things would be if she had succeeded.

And keep in mind for her, at one point, she thought it was all over. In fact, what she was doing was because of a bad relationship with a boy. 

Would she have even dreamed that within about a year’s time, she’d be walking down the aisle to marry a totally different man who saw her at her worst and still loved her? 

In fact, I wrote earlier this year about how she even won a beauty pageant earlier this year put on by Joni and Friends called the Miss Shining Star pageant for girls with disabilities. 

MissShiningStar2014

I still remember it well. All the girls I had seen won had won the talent competition also. Allie had lost it in her division. There it was at the end and I was thinking “She’s not going to win it.” It just looked like she would lose this title.

And then they announced her name as Miss Shining Star.

She’ll also tell you I cried more than she did that day. It was just such a delight to see how far she had gone and how she had been so hesitant to enter this pageant and yet, she won it. Next year, she will pass her crown on to someone else so they can enjoy that privilege, but now, she is an inspiration that there is always hope.

And all of those might not have been.

In fact, each one of us is a “might not have been.”

None of us was required to exist. The world could have gone on just fine without our being here. None of us are essential to the story. Each of us has been given life and each of us is to decide what to do with it. I pray you’ll treat it as a gift.

Please remember this. Suicide is never the answer. Your pain might end at that point, but the pain you leave for others will never end.

Third point is one that seems odd coming from me, but it is true. My wife and I are Aspies and introverts. We don’t thrive on relationships like other people do, but we also know that relationships are important. I am incredibly thankful for the friendships that I have earned over the years. There is nothing like it. I am thankful for a family that raised me up in a Christian home and showed me love always, and I am thankful for the family that has become mine as well in my in-laws. They are honored to have me as a son-in-law and I am grateful.

I am also thankful for our church family. Just last Sunday, we celebrated Allie’s 24th birthday and some friends took us out to eat. Allie talked about how her family couldn’t do that since they were far away and my family can’t really afford it. This couple that took us out is in their 70’s and lead a group called Marriage Moments at our church. They know something about marriage. They’ve been married for 50+ years. Since our church is “The Point” they said to just think of them as their Point Parents.

That is something that I am sure will never leave me.

That evening, Allie and I watched Into The Storm with a gift card we’d been given by my parents. Allie really liked Twister and likes this one even more now. Still, as I saw it I was left in a somber state. I can assure you the movie is an awesome one that will have you on the edge of the seat, but I also think about the times that people were near-death and focusing on the relationships that they had formed over the years and wanting to tell people how much they loved them.

Allie would be the first to tell you how quiet and somber I was that evening.

Why? I’m a go-getter type of guy who wants to make the most of what I have and was thinking “Are we making the most of our time here now?”

Those relationships are important and of course, none of them will be perfect. You will not be a perfect spouse. You will not have a perfect spouse. You will not be a perfect parent. You will not have perfect children. You will not have perfect friends or be a perfect friend or have perfect siblings or be a perfect sibling. 

And that’s okay.

Things won’t be perfect, but they can be great. 

For we Christians, we should know this first and foremost. Our own God is eternally relational Himself in the Trinity.

Too often, we take these relationships for granted. We act like that person will always be here, and then a car accident takes place and they’re gone, or they get the news that they have cancer and their time is limited. We can often ask ourselves what we will do with the future, which is fine, but we need to ask ourselves what we’re going to do with this moment.

Of course, I am not saying be reckless with other people. As an introvert, I will not relate to everyone and there will be times that people like myself need to be away from the crowd and recharging, but even then, introverts need people too. Let us remember what C.S. Lewis said in The Weight of Glory.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

These are the people. These are the ones you will take with you into eternity. I am an avid lover of books and reading and the quest of knowledge. I hope my wife would agree however that I am a greater lover of her and I would hope ultimately also that I am a greater lover of God. The knowledge of God is subservient to God Himself after all.

Today, the world just doesn’t seem as funny because of a tragic event that has happened and made us all stop and think about what our lives really mean and what they’re all about. What we all would give right now to have had a butterfly come and land on Robin Williams at this time.

And if you are in this boat right now of considering taking your own life, please please please do not do it. Reach out and talk to someone. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. (1-800-273-8255) Please also find a good local church and talk to a good minister or counselor there. Just reach out and get some help. The Christian message is that every human life is valuable and precious by nature of what it is. 

My own wife wrote about what she was dealing with in her journal last night and shared it on Facebook. (So yes, I am not sharing something private here and she knows I’m sharing this and is fine with it.)

As I was journaling tonight, I journaled a bit about the death of Robin Williams and it got me thinking about my own suicide attempt five years ago.  Stories of suicide is very heart-breaking, and for me, they resonate very deeply because I was almost one of them.  Here’s what I wrote, you may like it, you may not like it, but it’s the truth and is what’s on my heart:

Why…why did God rescue me from my suicide attempt…but he allows others to die?  Why did he rescue me from my death but not other people?  It almost makes me angry to have survived.  I’m no more special than anyone else, I still haven’t figured out what I’m really good at, yet God decided to rescue me?  Why?  I was still a follower of Christ, if I had died, I would’ve gone to heaven and been with the Lord.  But there are some who don’t follow him who kill themselves, and their despair is even worse in the afterlife instead of having peace.  Why God…why did you rescue me from death…but you don’t rescue others from the grips of suicide?  Their lives are just as precious as mine!  Robin Williams was doing good in the world – he made people smile when they thought they couldn’t.  But I don’t do any good in the world.  I don’t make any contribution to the world.  So why did you rescue me?  My soul aches…people are hurting so much…and there is so much death around me…people killing each other…people killing themselves…this is not what you created us for!  All this death and violence…this isn’t what you wanted for us!  What are we to do in world that is killing itself and breaking down?  Will we all eventually kill each other to the brink of extinction?  No, that won’t happen.  You promised you’ll come back for us.  You promised you’d come back and reign over us on earth, just as you do in heaven.  We still have hope!  You won’t abandon us, you always keep your promises.  I know you’ll come for us, and you’ll be our King.  The world will finally know you are there!  The world will finally bow down to you as LORD.  You will rescue your servants.  You will come for your children.  You won’t leave us like this.  We are waiting for you…come soon my LORD!

As you can see, she still has problems and attitudes she’s working with, but I like at the end what she’s doing. She’s seeking to find hope in God and frankly, where else will you find it? If Christ is not risen, then death will indeed have the last laugh. It will have it on the suicide or the murder victim or the martyr or anyone else. No one will escape it.

If Christ is risen, those of us in Him have the last laugh on death.

And speaking of laughs, let’s look back on the life of Robin Williams and remember he left us with several. We will miss him, but let’s not lose sight of them.

Please be in prayer for those who have been left behind from this tragedy.

R.I.P. Robin Williams.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

 

Edited to add: A kind reader suggested a guide to help those struggling with depression and other conditions that can be found here.

Apostles’ Creed: He Descended Into Hell

Why does the creed say that Christ descended into Hell? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

If there’s one part of the Apostles’ Creed that’s really problematic and the subject of debate, it’s this one. Some versions of the creed are said to not even include this part of it. Yet since it is in the one that I am using, I will be making some comments on it.

First, if I take Hell in the traditional sense, no. I do not think that Christ went there. Of course, many readers know that I have a different view on the nature of Heaven and Hell than most people do. It would not make sense for me to say Christ descended into Hell.

Yet I do hold to an intermediate state. I think there are several passages of Scripture that show this to be true. Paul talked about desiring to die and be with Christ and about being naked apart from the body. The thief on the cross was told about how that very day, He would be with Jesus in Paradise. (Yet another reason to think Christ did not literally go to Hell unless somehow Hell has become Paradise.)

Also, I think events like near-death experiences have shown that there is something more to man than just his body. These experiences cannot give us the furniture of Heaven or Hell, but I think they do pose a problem for a more naturalistic worldview.

Now there are many views on what happened to Christ. Some theologians have said that He did indeed descend into Hell and this way to release those who were there or else to proclaim his victory to those who were there, which could be two sides of the same coin.

Most of this comes from the passage found in 1 Peter 3:18-22 which is an extremely difficult passage to interpret and some commentaries even have an appendix in the back just meant to deal with this passage. Let’s make sure to keep in mind that while we hold that the Scripture is infallible in what it says, the creeds, as important as they are, are not necessarily. Yet even if we lost this phrase in the creed, it would be up to us to explain this passage of Scripture.

Some meanwhile think that the idea of descending into Hell is just a way of saying that he suffered death. This would be a parallel to the idea of death even if it is mentioned before burial. I really do not find this one persuasive however.

So what is my view? It’s important to keep in mind that we don’t want to do something like read Dante’s Inferno into the Creed. There’s no need to think about Jesus going into Hell to battle the devil one-on-one for instance.

What I would think of it as saying is simply that Jesus went to the realm of the dead, which was often described by the term “Sheol” in the Old Testament. I would be just fine with Him going to where the OT saints were and announcing the victory to lead them then into Paradise where He would be with the thief on the cross.

I am also not firmly settled on any of this as this is a difficult passage of the creed to interpret and there are many facets about this in-between time of Christ’s death and resurrection that we do not know about. Like other blogs, this is one I definitely welcome discussion on if you have your own theory.

In Christ,
Nick Peters