Happy Valentine’s Day!

Should we enjoy the gift of love? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I used to hate Valentine’s Day. I really did. It was a reminder that I was single and alone in the world. I know you can all say you have friends and you have God, but even when it was man and God, God said it was not good for man to be alone. That was me. I was alone.

Last night, I was getting ready for bed and thinking that I am not alone. For the past 9 prior Valentine’s Days, I have not been alone. I go to bed next to my beautiful wife every Valentine’s Day now. We have spent the past few years building our lives together.

Love is a gift. It is a gift between two people who seek the good of one another. Interestingly in marriage, the good of one another is the other person. In friendships, we can say it’s the company the person provides or a function we serve together or a hobby we enjoy together. In marriage only is it directly that the other person themselves is the gift. It is in marriage that we have the most embodied love as marriage needs the two bodies to come together.

I often tell my wife that my favorite Valentine’s Day gift is her. I mean it. As a man, no gift compares to the love of my wife, but it is more than her physical being. Her physicalness comes with her emotions and her trust in me and her desire for me. All of this is quite powerful.

This is also the idea of God. God designed love and He designed marriage. This isn’t some dirty effect of the fall that we need to move past. The systems were designed for this purpose and God made man and woman to love one another in a unique way.

The romance between the man and the woman also is a picture of the love of God for the church. Everything that we see here is in essence God flirting with us. Picture any good that you have and this is just a clue. It is a hint of what God has coming for us.

When you read accounts of people who have near-death experiences an aspect of Heaven that keeps coming back is beauty. So it is that even here in romantic love, beauty is such a great draw. When I have to think of what is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, it’s no contest. My wife is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen and I admire the handiwork of the creator when I see her.

As it stands, I gave Allie a board game and a game for the Switch for Valentine’s Day today. We had an early lunch date earlier this week and today we’re going to go see Alita: Battle Angel thanks to the donation of some Fandango gift cards to us by a friend of our ministry. Whatever you do today, celebrate the one you love. For those still waiting and wanting, have hope please. I know it seems hard, but I was there once and it seemed hopeless too. Still, it happened, and there is some truth that it happens when you least expect it.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Impossible Love

What do I think of Craig and Medine Keener’s book published by Chosen books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re married, do you remember dating your current spouse? Like so many relationships, there were barriers to overcome. There are many events in life that can present so many challenges for a couple just to spend time together. We’ve all seen them.

Take my own relationship. My wife and I had it so that one of us had to travel about 250 miles to get to go on a date together. What a burden! Or take the Keeners! They had to overcome divorces from previous painful marriages, international war, and travel through a war-torn region where you had to eat bugs and scrounge for food and water to survive.

Okay. Now that I think about it, those two aren’t exactly comparable.

This is the love story of Craig Keener and his wife Medine. I have had Craig on my podcast before and he is a real individual. He has responded promptly many times when I have emailed him about something and reading this was a fascinating look into his life.

When I read this, I saw someone who strove to please God, but many times was broken and insecure. I suspect that that played a part probably in his diving into scholarship and producing excellent works, but it didn’t change that there was something he was lacking in his life, which I remember from my own experience, a woman to love.

Many of us who know Craig have not got to know his wife Medine, and yet her story is fascinating as well. You get introduced to Medine’s family and her parents in the book are such incredible people especially. Many people who complain about suffering and evil today can’t begin to imagine what Medine and her family went through and yet her parents had more faith and joy than many of us do today. We are truly a shameful people.

I cannot tell much about the story, but it involves Craig meeting Medine when she came to America as a student and never losing touch with her. Always there was a physical and romantic draw between the two of them, but both of them were hesitant. Also, many people around them were making prophetic statements about their lives and they inevitably led to the two of them coming together.

That being said, I do have this concern about that in that so many people might come away as we often do today thinking that this is how it should be for all of us. We should all receive messages of prophecy telling us who we are to marry and thus make the right choice. I doubt the Keeners would agree with such a sentiment. I think sometimes there are some individuals that need a specific spouse for a specific task and God does the work to bring them together, but I don’t think that’s the case for everyone.

One addition I thought would have helped would to have as much as possible a timeline of what happened. I was wondering when the events took place and one clue I did find was when 9/11 was referenced. Most of us don’t know about when a Civil War hit the area of the Congo. I am sure the Keeners did not take explicit notes of when everything happened, but some idea of chronology would be helpful.

This story is incredibly touching and will leave you thinking of the love that you have. It’s also helpful for those who often are perceived as living in the ivory towers to come out from time to time and speak to us on their own inner lives. It is good to know Craig the scholar, for instance, but it is better to know Craig the man, and now I have a deeper knowledge of his wife as well.

Congratulations to the Keeners on their impossible love and may all who read this be blessed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Everyday Glory

What do I think of Gerald McDermott’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What does the world tell us about God? Quite a lot actually. In this book, Gerald McDermott seeks to open our eyes up to the realities that are all around us. We have lived in a world long enough where we take the world around us for granted and don’t really consider the revelation of God that is there.

As much as I am Protestant, this is also our problem. We, and I think rightly, say that Scripture is the final authority, but too often we make it the only authority. Thus, why do we need to look at the rest of the world to learn something about God? Why study natural theology at all?

McDermott urges us to avoid this way of thinking. The world is not an accident. God made it the way that He did for a reason. If we want to truly learn about God, we can learn about Him from the things He has made and ask why He has made things the way that He has.

To be fair, He does have a chapter on the Bible itself, but He encourages us to look for Christ everywhere in the Bible. Reading a chapter like this can help you to approach the Bible with new eyes.

From there, McDermott takes us to many other areas of the world around us. What can we learn from science? In this chapter, you’ll probably find many of the things you find in books that talk about scientific apologetics. Still, those who like that will be helped.

Animals are another aspect that are covered in the book. In this chapter, McDermott focuses on two specific animals. Those would be birds and dogs. Both of these are talked about in Scripture, and it’s interesting that dogs are talked about in a negative light.

Sexuality is another aspect that is discussed. What is it about sex that has captured our wonder so much? As I said on a recent podcast I did, we live in a world where we have all manner of new technologies and such to keep us entertained. What still holds our fascination? What God made back in the very beginning. Nothing can still compete with sex.

Sports are also included. Sports are a non-necessary part of reality and they are creations by us, but yet they also come with a number of rules and teach us a number of values. I found myself wondering in this chapter if the same could apply to video games, which I think it could, or even movies and things like that.

There’s also a section on other religions. It would be a mistake to think they get everything wrong. What can we learn from other religions? How are they similar? How are they different?

This isn’t every chapter, but it is some of them. There’s also an appendix dealing with the views of Barth and Luther on natural theology. McDermott makes a fine defense for his position.

I think this is a very helpful book to read. Reading this can help you look at Scripture and the rest of the world differently. It’s a way of analyzing reality to see the fingerprints of the creator in everything.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Seven Signs That God Has Someone For You

What do I think of Wes Raley’s book published by V Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Ah. Marriage. I remember the days when I was single which looking back now after eight years of marriage seem like a distant memory. If you asked me what it’s like to be a bachelor now, I honestly couldn’t tell you. My life has been so radically changed by marriage that I can’t imagine going through life without my Allie by my side.

But I do remember that when I was single, it was the constant cry of my heart to have a woman to share my life with. If you had told me on July 24, 2009, that a year from then I would be standing at an altar pledging lifelong love to a woman, I would have laughed in your face most likely. Not going to happen. No prospects. Women just don’t want a nerd like me.

Now I try to encourage other men who are single and in the same boat in many ways. Some are older than I was when I married. It’s a hard path. So when I saw Wes Raley’s book being advertised in Kindle email deals and advertised for free, I had a lot of red flags. I’m very cautious about people talking about signs and the like, but I thought I would check it out. Free after all. Right?

Fortunately, it’s a short book. I had it read in an hour. I can say I am thankful Wes found someone and that he is writing to help others who have the same struggle we both had at one time. That being said, I don’t think his book treats Scripture properly and thus will not help and could do more harm than good.

My wife and I both know people who wanted to find that special love in their life and never did. We are speaking about people who are already dead. I try to encourage guys they can find someone, but I do not seek to speak for God.

I also don’t think there is anyway from Scripture to know the mind of God in if He has someone for you or not. I also think it’s false to talk about that special only one that you need to find. For most people, I think there are a multitude of people you could marry in the will of God. Here are some requirements to look for. They have to be someone who is a Christian and someone who is of the opposite sex and someone you can live the rest of your life loving and they can’t be a close relative.

If we go with the one that you have to find, that leads to chaos. Suppose you marry the wrong person. You’ve messed up then. No big deal. Right? Wrong. Not only have you married the wrong person, so have they, and what about the people you two were meant for? They can’t marry the right person so if they get married, they marry the wrong person and what about the people they were meant for? On and on it goes. Congratulations. You have screwed up God’s plan for humanity by your choice.

So let’s go through what Raley says.

He starts on a bad note by saying “Faith is often opposed by human reasoning.”

I’m not sure what other kind of reasoning we could use, but it’s not good to start with this kind of statement. It is true that Scripture says our faith does not rest on human reasoning, but saying it is not the foundation does not mean it plays no role in the structure at all or is often opposed to it. Many of you know that in my writings, I stress that faith is trust in that which has been shown to be reliable. If God has shown Himself to be reliable, it is quite reasonable to trust Him.

Raley then says that if our faith rests on anything other than God’s power, we risk living in a perpetual doubt to avoid being disappointed, but isn’t a life of doubt and unbelief already a disappointment? At this, I wonder what is meant by God’s power. I mean, I have faith that God could pick up my apartment complex right now and hurl us to the sun if He wanted to. He has that power. I don’t think that He will. I don’t think it so much that I’m not falling to my knees begging that it won’t happen.

I also think that our faith should not rest so much on what God could do, but on what He has done. He raised His son from the dead. It’s not about what God can do in my life. God can dispense with me at any time. It’s about what God did in Jesus and if God did what He did in Jesus, I can trust that as He said, He is working all things together for my good, even if they are not good themselves, as Romans 8 says.

Raley goes on to say that He believes God has written His promises to us on our hearts. Many people might think that that’s nuts, but it matters what God thinks and what He has promised. Indeed, what matters is what God thinks and has promised, but what Biblical mandate do I have to think that God has written His promises on our hearts? Scripture says His law is written on our hearts, but nothing about an individual mandate for our lives.

We move on through examples like Abraham. Yes. God did wonders in Abraham’s life, and while He can do such, we have no basis for thinking that we will be treated like Abraham. God spoke to Moses, but not to Joe Israelite wandering in the wilderness, and there were plenty more of them.

When we get to Scripture, it starts with James 1:5. If you lack wisdom, ask God who gives generously to all? God doesn’t want us guessing! What could go wrong? I mean, maybe, and let’s just take a purely hypothetical situation, you could say that this verse gives you a basis to go out in a field and kneel down and ask God what denomination you should join. What could go wrong?

What’s really going on in James? The wisdom being asked for is not something about personal knowledge. It’s about understanding suffering. The church was going through suffering and James is saying if you lack the wisdom to handle suffering, ask God for it. He’ll give generously. It’s not treating God as a personal answering service.

By the way, if we go with this and we are supposed to say that God tells us that we are to have someone in our lives, what do I need seven signs for? If you need seven signs after that, that is not faith. That is a lack of faith. Gideon didn’t even need seven signs.

It’s not a shock that Raley also uses Jeremiah 29:11 about the plans that God has for us. Never mind that this was said to the nation of Israel and the you is the plural nation and this was a nation that was going into exile in a foreign land and most of them would not see these plans fulfilled in their lifetime. No. Just take it and individualize that.

Now we could interpret this and say, “Just as God knew what He was doing when He let Israel go through suffering, so does He know what He is doing when He lets us go through suffering.” We could then take passages like Romans 8 and show God will work this for our good. It is improper hermeneutics though to take this passage out of its context and apply it to us in this way.

Raley then goes to Romans 12:2 and says if we transform our thoughts, we can know God’s good and perfect will. Isn’t this a great promise? By renewing our mind, we can find out God’s will.

Well, no. The text doesn’t say we will find it out. It says we will know. Second, we have to ask what is meant by will. Let’s suppose God has willed a day when the return of Christ will take place. Does this mean if I renew my mind, I can know that day? Doubtful. Does it mean I can even know the day God intends for me to die? Also doubtful.

What it means is the moral will. I can know how I ought to live rightly in relation to God and my fellow man. It is again bad hermeneutics to read individualism into the text.

Raley says believing God has the best in mind for you is the starting place of discernment. No. The starting place is to learn how to think properly in your mind and then apply your thoughts to Scripture rightly.

I do not want to list the seven signs really. Why? Because I still realize he wants to sell books and I don’t want to spoil a plot. It’s free for now, but maybe it won’t be in the future. I will speak to some bad Scriptural usages.

Raley uses Psalm 37:4 about trusting in the Lord with all your heart and He will give you the desires of your heart. Yet is this verse talking about that? In the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, John Walton says about this passage that in the Ancient Near East, this was about seeking God’s answer on a particular omen. It wasn’t about one’s own desires but about a specific desire.

Raley also uses 1 Kings 19:11-12 and Elijah and the still, small voice. It’s interesting that no one ever records anything this voice said. Maybe it wasn’t a voice but a gentle wind instead. Also, when this was done, Elijah went and spoke to God and God spoke to Him. This was not in a still, small voice. This was also one time in the Bible. If Elijah’s experience is to be mandatory for us all, perhaps it’s also mandatory for us all to expect a flaming chariot to take us to Heaven or to be able to expect fire to rain down from Heaven on our enemies at our command.

Raley also asks that if we ask God for this and we feel peace in our heart and confirmation, not to ignore this. Again, this brings us back to something like the Book of Mormon which uses the exact same test. Many times if we are making the right decision, we will NOT feel peace about it. The right decision can be scary.

 

At one point, Raley uses James 1:17 about every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above. Yet keep in mind Paul says there was given to him to keep him from being conceited a messenger of satan. Paul pleaded for this “gift” to be taken from him, but he was told it was for his good and Paul gave thanks in the end.

Raley is right that in Matthew 7, the Father wants to give us good gifts, but the gifts there given are staples of everyday living. I might as well say “A billion dollars would be a good gift. Surely God wants to give that to me.” There could be any number of reasons God doesn’t bless me financially. There could be any number of reasons God doesn’t give someone a spouse.

Finally, we are told to trust in God’s love for us. This isn’t a sign, but I definitely agree. If God blesses us with a spouse, rejoice. If He doesn’t, rejoice also. If God gives you one, it is for your good and theirs. If not, it is also for your good.

In the end, none of this is backable by Scripture ultimately I think and works better with our individualism in the church. I fear someone could get this and get false hope as well as start making Scripture more all about them. If you want a spouse, just go out there and seek one, but still live your life and serve God the best that you can where you are. Please don’t take Scriptural promises out of context and make them about you. We have too much of that today in the West already.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Pillow Talk

What do I think of J. Parker’s book published by HHH books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

J. Parker has been on my podcast before and I follow her blog and so when I found out she had a new book coming out, I asked for a copy. I thank her for agreeing to send me one. I was pleased to get this copy and thought it worth the read.

Here’s an advantage for many busy couples. This book is short. I managed to read it in a day and that’s a day with me playing a new game on our new Switch, having Mormon sisters over, and watching a movie with my wife in the evening. Couples who are trying to make time for each other will be able to make time for this book.

Beyond that, here’s another bonus for those couples. You don’t have to read it all at once. There is an introduction Parker wishes to have you read together. After that, feel free to jump around. Maybe you don’t need the chapter about dealing with menopause now or the chapter about children. That’s okay. You can look and decide which one is most relevant to you and go there.

Each chapter beings with a short little couple of paragraphs. None of these goes beyond even a page that I remember. They are short and easy to read. From there, there are a number of questions that Parker has for the couples to ask. These questions are to be asked to one another and they are to be interacted with.

Parker also has relevant Scripture for each one and a little devotional thought beyond that based on the Scripture. This is followed up by a prayer the couple is to pray together and then the part that most of the guys especially look forward to. The activities that you are to do together. Guys could be disappointed that none of the activities are “Just have sex” but the activities can be things that are a prelude for such activity and meant to make matters more comfortable for both parties.

There are also some appendices at the end. These go into the differences between male and female bodies and how they work as well as highly sensitive topics. Much more a problem for the men, though a problem for some women as well, is the issue of pornography. Rightly so, Parker is to the point on this issue. Get rid of any pornography whatsoever.

There’s also a section on a problem that is more common for the women today, though it happens to men as well. That’s abuse, especially prevalent to be talked about today in light of the #MeToo movement. Parker is once again right in encouraging therapy together to get past sexual abuse so it doesn’t hamper sex in your marriage.

So in the end, what’s not to love? You have a good and short book filled with valuable advice for couples that covers 40 different topics. The activities can also be very enjoyable for couples to do together to get to know one another better and if it works, well, let’s just say I think most every couple will agree that the benefits are well worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Importance Of Connection

What does it mean to really connect with someone? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some time ago, I wrote a blog post on how I realized I have not been the husband I need to be for my wife. My wife has told me that she hasn’t felt an emotional connection on a regular basis for a few years. This has been very hard on me as a husband who thought I was connecting with my wife, but I have learned a lot from it and I wanted to write some more on it.

You see, we all have something in us that we need and some things that we want. Man was not made to be in isolation. Even if a man or a woman never marries, isolation is not an option, especially for a Christian. There are no Lone Ranger Christians. In Christ is a community of people. It is supposed to be that when one of us hurts, all of us hurt.

When man is created in the garden in a pristine paradise place, he has all that he needs except companionship. Notice that this is in a state when one could say his only companion is God. Even then, God realizes that the man wants something different, and God is not giving in to a sinful desire. There was no sin at the time on man’s part.

Now we live in a fallen and sinful world, and sometimes, those desires that are good are still there, but they can get out of order. Now there is the great danger of using people. When a normal man sees a beautiful woman, there is the desire on his part to have sex. I am not saying that the desire is itself wrong. What you do with the desire, say lust, can be. Sex is a good thing and God made it to be desired.

The problem for us men is that we can very easily use a woman like that. Even if you’re married, if the only time you really show affection to your wife is before the bedroom when you’re expecting sex, in the bedroom during, or afterward, you’re likely to make her think that’s all she’s good for. Now I don’t think that’s what I was doing honestly, but if my Allie feels that way, I want to take it seriously.

So I have thought a lot lately about connection. There have been times now where I have come to Allie and just listened to her. The touching at these points is non-sexual. We’re just talking. I also try to use the SET UP principles for her with BPD. I try to sympathize, empathize, and then give the truth. I have enjoyed these times really. They also tell me that when the times of physical connection return, they will be deeper.

You see, I read something in a marriage book years ago that told husbands that before you touch your wife’s body, you must touch her heart. Now silly me, I thought I was doing an excellent job of that. Turns out, I wasn’t. We men usually want that physical connection first and then we feel the emotional connection. Generally, for women, it’s opposite.

Who can blame them? We men normally have the higher drive and guys, in essence, your wife is the one who is putting herself in a vulnerable position. She is the one having something enter into her body. Not you. Women also are often put in the position of being victimized for their beauty. It’s not a fair position, but it is the position that they’re in. The pornography industry hasn’t helped that.

And women, you need to realize this. To us men, you are gorgeous. There is no site more appealing than the human female form. Any time I get to see my wife’s body to me is all-new. I am amazed and it’s natural to thank God that He made women so beautiful.

But there’s more beauty to her to me than that. my wife is just that lovely. I can look at every inch of her and be delighted. It’s also more than just the body. I have seen her inner person and see her as beautiful there.

And you know what? That connection makes me want to be a better person. There’s something to that. Whatever you form a connection to, you will truly become more like.

In my experience as an apologist, it’s really easy to emphasize the intellectual. Some people I know who are like this have said they can’t imagine being married to someone who is not an intellectual. Now Allie is not an idiot of course, but the intellect is not her strong suit. She’s much more emotionally centered. It would be easy to look at her and think she doesn’t know all the theological stuff I do, and I think it could help her to get more of that, but I have to realize there are ways I don’t hold a candle to her.

For example, when Allie feels like God is absent in her life, it’s unbearable for her in many ways. She longs for that so much. I think the Psalm about the deer panting for the water describes her well. I look at her and think “Why don’t I have that?”

I also like it when I hear her pray. Allie praying is just like a child talking to her father. It’s sweet and it makes me think that’s how it should be. I took this so seriously in Allie that I started contacting someone and told them I wanted them to help me be better at prayer.

I still have a lot of work to do to get to that level.

Allie is also the most real person I know. She might not tell you the whole truth, but she won’t lie to you either. She tells it how it is.

She’s also someone who genuinely cares about others. Just last night we were walking in a comic book store before a group we were going to go to and I see some people playing the new Super Smash Brothers. I ask to play one of them. When we’re done, (By the way, it was close, but I sadly lost) Allie wishes them a Merry Christmas. I hadn’t even thought of doing that. Later on when I tell her that impresses me she says, “I’m just trying to give them a little bit of Christ in my own way.”

Yeah. Here I am the one in ministry and I think often she thinks about this more than I do.

When we used to see her psychiatrist together, she would always ask him “How’s your back?” He has some back pain. Honestly, it never occurred to me and if it did, I hate to say it, but I probably wouldn’t care enough to ask. Allie does.

And when I see this in her, I want to be more like that. I already have made some changes. Allie I hope would tell you that I am not being the way I have been in the past. Normally, I tend to be all over her. Why? Because as a man, I think about sex a lot and to me, that is a great expression of love for my wife and the biggest one I think I can make. She doesn’t think the same way.

This whole thing has also taught me about something. It’s easy in a marriage to blame the other person for what goes wrong. I was here thinking that Allie just wasn’t interested in me when she wasn’t eager to be with me. It wasn’t that. Allie just didn’t feel emotionally close and when she doesn’t feel that, it’s hard for her to want to give herself. She feels used.

Pro-tip then. In a relationship, no matter what kind but especially marriage, always look at yourself first and see what you can do to change. Also, try to do the loving thing anyway. Why do I establish an emotional connection with my wife? So I can go to the bedroom? No. Because that is what she needs and she wants to feel close to me. The physical connection is how I feel closest to her. On her end, she needs to do that. On mine, I need to do that. It’s always easy to look at what will work out best for us and what will help us and protect us and meet our needs. The way of love calls us to do otherwise, to seek to meet the needs of the other first. I am to establish an emotional connection with her regardless of what she does with me.

On friendships, we often connect on a deeper level. C.S. Lewis said many friendships begin with “You too? I thought I was the only one.” When I lived in Charlotte, I had a roommate with me I had met on TheologyWeb. How did our friendship begin? He saw me post a post there that impressed him and sent me a message with an avatar he made for me with a message like “I don’t know if you like Final Fantasy, but this is a character from a game in the series.” I am a huge Final Fantasy fan and we formed a fast friendship. Even this morning, we have been chatting on Messenger. What about? Final Fantasy.

We all want these connections. Of course, we have to be careful with how much we give someone. No matter how much I might value the friendship of a different woman, I will not improve that relationship by giving myself physically to her. That is only reserved for my wife.

And what about connection with God? I said if you seek to connect with someone, you will become more like that person. I think that applies to God also. Do you want to be a person of love? Seek to connect to Jesus. How about hope? How about truth? How about justice? Whatever virtuous quality you want, you can find it in Him.

If you connect with Him, you will be more like Him. After all, if you want to be hot, you go sit by the fire. If you want to be wet, you take a shower or go swimming. If you want to cool off, you step outside in the snow or turn on a fan. If you want to be holy, you go to one who is holy.

You also go and hang out with people who are what you want to be like. That’s one more reason friendship is so important. It’s also why my wife is so important to me. In many ways, I do want to be like her. I want to have more of a heart like her’s. Now is her heart perfect? Of course not. Could she bear to have more emotional strength to not be hurt by so many other things? Sure. But if she had too much, she could be cold. It’s a fine line.

And I think honestly in our marriage, we have a tendency because we are so different to build each other up where we are weak. I often say in our marriage if you want an answer to a question, come to me because I am the intellectual one. If you want sympathy in it, you need to talk to her. One of our friends has bluntly told me this. Allie is a better listener than I am.

I think Allie does need more of a foundation intellectually for how she lives, but I think I need more of her heart. The good news is I have her and that can help me get that heart that I need because as much as my ego doesn’t want to admit it, I think her heart is in many ways more like Jesus’ than mine is.

So to my married friends, realize the importance of connection. Guys. Make sure you’re not treating your wife like just a body. You want that physical connection and that’s good and right, but don’t give that to the exclusion of all others. For women, please realize how important that physical connection is to a man. Many times if you want the other stuff, it can help your man to meet the physical needs, because otherwise, that could be all that he’s thinking about.

And whatever you do, follow the path of love. Do the right thing. If your spouse doesn’t reciprocate at times, that’s their problem.

After all, Christ does the right thing by us always and we don’t always respond as we should.

Show that grace to others.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts On Beauty

What is beauty and what does it do? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been reading a book by N.T. Wright about worship. At the start, he asks us about many things we consider beautiful. He talks about a home-cooked meal with taste and smell, holding a child’s hand, sights of nature, and other things. He asks us to think about what is the most beautiful experience we have had in this past week. I thought the question had an easy answer.

My wife, Allie.

On this Earth, there is no more beautiful sight to me in the world than my wife. There are many sights I would love to see in this world. Jerusalem, Niagara Falls, the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and Sphinx, The Mona Lisa, you get the idea. None of those wonderful works though compare at all to my Princess. I would much rather see her any day of the week.

As a husband also, I get exclusive rights. That beauty of hers tells me that I am trusted in a way that no other man is. I am unique. To get back to Wright, he asks us to think about what effect this beauty has on us. The beauty is amazing. It makes me want to be a better man. I am left with awe and amazement.

It would be tempting to look at myself and get prideful about it, but strangely, that is not a temptation at all. I could hypothetically say “I must just be so awesome if Allie trusts me this much.” It’s not like that at all. I have no delusions that if Allie didn’t know me and she saw me out in public that she would immediately be saying “Oh wow! That’s him! That is the man that I want!”

Yet today, that is exactly what she says.

That doesn’t lead me to pride. It leads me instead to humility. It leads me to want to be a better man just to somehow think I am worthy of this great honor my wife has given. Her beauty often leaves me walking with an extra swing in my step and able to overcome many of the struggles I have with Aspergers.

Being on the spectrum, diet has always been something difficult for me. Not only was I not changing, I didn’t really want to change. Nope. I was happy where I was. Then Allie came along. Allie did get me to change, and she never really pushed at all for me to change. I wasn’t a project. Allie just loved me and her love and beauty won me over so that the change came from within and I wanted to change and wound up changing.

Many men could say similar things about how their wives lead them to change and I wish that so many wives would realize this. What you see in the mirror is not normally what your husband sees. It is so painful on a husband when a wife denies compliments of beauty. We never want you to have shame around us.

And while I think Allie’s body is beautiful, the beauty somehow goes beyond that. My idea of beauty has been shaped by Allie and I have found her to be more beautiful over the years. The same has happened in reverse. At the start, there was nothing in me physically that made her want me. Now there is. Whatever physical changes I go through, I will still be the man that she wants.

Now let’s talk about this with God. We don’t often think about God as beautiful and that’s a problem for us. We don’t really know what it means to think that way. Can I say God is beautiful in the same way that Allie is? Absolutely not.

What about Jesus? Jesus is God in the flesh. Again, no. Especially not as a man. This is also why I balk at many worship songs that seem to present Jesus in this kind of light. Guys don’t normally talk about Jesus as beautiful like that.

Yet I cannot deny the beauty of God. At the same time, I don’t think it has sunk in. After all, if we find something is beautiful, we desire it. We pursue that which we think is good, true, and beautiful. Something I have often told my wife is I know what she really wants by what she chases after. The same can be said of me and all of us. If God is the greatest in my life, are my pursuits showing that?

This could be why worship is so hard on us at times. We talk about attending a worship service at church instead of living life as worship. A friend of mine does music of this sort and has told me a great quote he heard where a worship leader of youth was asked if he could tell if the kids were really worshipping or not. He said it was easy to tell. If the way they lived when they left mirrored what they sang about in here, then they were worshipping.

And if we are really worshipping, we should experience change in our life. The beauty of my wife draws me to her. It makes me want to experience her and know her more and have more of her. Does the beauty of God have the same effect on me? Am I drawn to Him? Do I want more of Him?

Is God really appealing to me?

It’s also important to realize it’s hard to put a finger on why something is beautiful. We men can easily talk about what we love about our wives’ bodies, but why? What makes her so beautiful? God designed a woman’s body in such a way to drive her man absolutely wild, but why is it that way? I agree the human female form is the most beautiful creation, but why is that so?

And so it is with God. I do not know. I could try to speak of Him as beautiful in some way that appeals to the senses, but that won’t work since God is not material. At the same time, He’s not just an idea. Physicists and such can talk about beautiful equations. Do I think God is beautiful or is it just God as an idea is beautiful?

All of this has left me with a lot to think about, which is something I like about Wright’s books. They always leave me thinking. If you wanted clear and definitive answers, I cannot give them this time. That’s not always my purpose in blogging. It’s not to tell you what I think always, but to get you thinking about what I’m thinking about if you think it’s worthwhile. If one person gets thinking more about the pursuit of God in His beauty, it will be enough.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Humble Pie

What does it take to learn from mistakes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I have for a year or two gone to therapy together. It’s not because of marriage troubles per se, but because I spoke somewhere once and a lady in the audience really liked my story on disabilities and offered to work with us. It was a free offer and we took her up on it.

One of the things I’ve tried to do is be a good husband and I’ve prided myself as one who has reached that goal. Generally, my wife, Allie, would agree with this. She would tell you I am a kind and loving man. That does not mean I am not without my faults. Of course, that’s not a shock. No one can be a perfect husband or wife.

Yet yesterday in therapy, my own mistakes came out. That was that in some ways, I have been neglectful of her. Some might wonder how that can be. Don’t I post six days a week on Facebook about how much I love her? Don’t I regularly dote on her?

It’s possible to do those things and be neglectful.

What happened is one of my love languages with Allie is physical touch and I tend to want to be with her so much I can smother her and it turns her off. I wind up getting frustrated and we’re both disappointed. Sometimes Allie just wants to talk and I don’t do it so well and that’s because I’ve been focused on my own needs.

The sad message my wife has got from that is that I only care about her for her body and that’s it. Now that is not to say that my desires are wrong, but I have been looking for my own desires first and not focusing on her own desires. It has been an insistence on myself at the expense of hers.

What is important to realize for me now is that Allie does want to meet the desires that I have, but it has to be a two-way street. It’s the secret that if in a marriage either of you focus on your own needs, both parties will be hurt somehow. If you focus on the needs of your spouse, both of you will be happy.

Let’s just say the car ride home yesterday afternoon was very apologetic on my part. It was turning off the radio and apologizing to Allie for everything I could. It’s also realizing that sometimes Allie expresses something hurtful. The sad thing is it hurts me when she says it and hurt people hurt people. I can get defensive with anger and sarcasm. Anger might not always be wrong. The question is what I do with it. Allie has told me she would accept if I get really angry if I just say, “I need some time to myself” and then come back later when I’ve cooled down some more.

I also have some men in my life that I have talked to and while they know me in person, one of them sees us on a regular basis. I have urged them to check with me and hold me accountable. I plan on sharing such with my Celebrate Recovery men’s group as well. In turn, Allie is also realizing things she has to work on and is trying to do such. We both have to. It’s part of being the best for one another.

So why would I share this as a post that’s publicly humiliating for me? First off, it would be delusional to think that I cannot dare present a flaw in myself because my readers have to see me as perfect. The only perfect human being ever was crucified and is now reigning in Heaven.

Second, in sharing this, I am publicly stating what I want to be better. My own readers can then be watchful at times. Anyone could even go and ask Allie if I’m doing the things I need to be doing.

Third, because this is a good way to ask for prayer too. Allie and I are on a journey and we both want to have a great marriage. We both have some learning to do. I think I know a lot, but I don’t know all that I ought.

Fourth, I hope this is inspirational for others. I think some men could be out there and realizing their mistake and maybe even showing this to their wives who will say, “He’s right. You have the same problem.” Maybe this will help other marriages out there.

And of course, I love my wife greatly. I cannot picture a world without her as she is my beacon of sanity in a world of craziness. She is one who gives me joy every day and sadly, I have apparently not been doing the same for her and I hope to do better.

Thank you for reading.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

What Is Religious Passion?

What does a passionate Christian look like? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Passion is a difficult term to describe. Most of us when we hear of passion think immediately of romantic passion, and yet that is part of the problem of defining it. Watch a TV show or movie and you will think all passion takes place in the bedroom. Well, there’s supposed to be a lot of passion there, but ask most any married couple and there will be other places of passion. A wife can fix a great dinner for her husband with passion. A husband can passionately express his love through gifts or writing or music to his wife.

When it comes to religious passion, we often have some negative ideas about it. We might think of people barking like dogs and calling that the work of the Holy Spirit. Religious passion often seems to be equated with a show. It is a strongly expressed feeling or emotion.

Well, yeah. It can be. Maybe it isn’t just that. Maybe it’s something different and maybe it’s different from person to person.

My wife and I were talking about someone we admire very much who gave an excellent testimony at Celebrate Recovery and during the music in the last service talked about how she was dancing in the center aisle and she used to think there was something wrong with people like that. I asked Allie if she could ever see me doing that yesterday. Nope. Not at all.

Yet she still thinks I’m passionate about Christianity.

I think many of us know several Christians who we would say are passionate about that, but would not express that passion the same way. Get me together with some of my theological friends and there will be passionate discussion about matters of faith and practice. There won’t be dancing going on, but there’s a lot of excitement.

This doesn’t mean that we always have a strong feeling about what we are doing, and this is really a good thing. C.S. Lewis said something once similar about being in love. When you fall in love with someone, it is an emotional explosion at first, but if you stayed that way, you would not be able to function. The explosion dies down, but the will can stay there and that should be the strongest. It would be a mistake to coast from that point on after the explosion.

That passion can still show up momentarily. The great feeling shows up when you actually do the loving things you’re supposed to. So it is with religion. When my friends and I get together, I may not be feeling it at the moment, but get some discussion going and before too long, there is passion and excitement once more.

There is a mistake along those lines that we often make that we often think all genuine action must be backed by genuine feeling. Not at all. What virtue is it to you to act the way you feel? Anyone can do that. We could make a parallel to the words of Christ. You love those who love you? Wow! Aren’t you just awesome? If you love those who hate you, that is real love. You love when you feel like loving? Impressive! Your parents must be so proud! When you love when the feeling isn’t there and maybe even the opposite one is, that is real love.

As I told my wife yesterday about this, there have been mornings I have got up and thought the heavens seemed silent and I am angry with my God. What do I do? I go and serve Him anyway. Why? Because it’s just the right thing to do and nothing in Christianity says “Do the right thing provided you feel like it.”

“But I feel so fake doing that?” So what. That’s again putting the cart before the horse. Is it better to say, “I feel fake doing this so I won’t do what is the right thing to do.”? If your intention is you want to serve or you want to have a certain mindset, God knows and I believe honors your intention. Do you not feel like reading your Bible or praying but want it to be a priority? Then do it. Many times our feelings don’t change until we act. As long as we act the same way, our feelings will continue.

“But it’s just duty then!” And sometimes duty is where you have to begin. For one thing, duty does not mean that you don’t like it. For example, a husband in Scripture is required to give his wife her conjugal rights. I am sure so many husbands were saying “Well geez. If I gotta do it, I gotta do it.” That’s a duty, but it’s a wonderful duty to so many of us men.

We also have to be on guard that passion itself is not a goal. If we are coming to God because we want to feel really good, then we are just using God. Holiness is our real goal. If passion comes with that, great. If not, oh well. We have done the right thing.

But if you do want some excitement, I do have some recommendations. First, I think you really need to make sure you have some apologetic grounding. Not every Christian is meant to specialize in theology and/or apologetics, but all Christians are called to do those things. You have to do them. You might as well do them well.

At the same time, those of us more intellectually inclined need to remember that while Scripture says that there is zeal not according to knowledge which is dangerous, there is the reality that knowledge puffs up. We need to study. I think Lewis once spoke of seeing a lady in church and thinking she probably doesn’t have a clue about the Nicene Creed, but then realizing that when it comes to holy and devout prayer and living, she has him beat by spades.

Then just go and do what you are supposed to do. It doesn’t matter if you feel like it or not. Do it anyway. Let the actions and will lead the feelings instead of the other way around. Nothing says “Love your neighbor as yourself, provided you feel like it.” When our neighbor is being an agreeable person, we are to love them. When they are being a total jerk, we are also called to love them. Don’t like that? Keep in mind God’s love for you doesn’t change when you are a complete jerk, including to him.

To come back to Lewis again, when you start loving your jerk neighbor, you will notice a strange thing. You start to love him. If you wait until you feel like loving him, you will never do it. If you just do it because it is the right thing, you will eventually have the love for him.

Passion is good, but it is not to be our foundation. Enjoy emotions when they come, but do not make a steady diet out of them. Instead, shape your will to serve God more and do the right thing regardless of the feeling.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

The Agenda Project’s Ad

What does a baby deserve? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So Agenda Project has an ad that has been making rounds lately. It has a cute little baby smiling and giggling as babies do. All along words regularly pop up on the screen. I could tell you more, but hey, why not take less than a minute and watch the ad yourself?

At the start when watching, I was wondering what the point of this ad was. We are told the baby deserves to be wanted. The baby deserves to be loved. Yes. Who would dispute that? Then the third one, at least for me, gives a chill. She deserves to be a choice.

To deserve according to the dictionary means to be worthy of. With that, then we can say with the meme on the internet at the three things this baby deserves, one of them is not like the other. Something in the list just really doesn’t belong.

Is the ad saying that if the baby is not loved and not wanted supposedly, she should be a choice? But then that doesn’t fit. If she is not loved and not wanted, why change the last one then to “She is a choice.”? If she is loved and she is wanted, why should she be a choice?

Let’s also acknowledge something. Abortion activists have been telling us that this is not a baby for so long. What is in the womb is a fetus. This ad dispels the myth. Now some abortion advocates are, at last, acknowledging that these are babies. Good on them at least for that! It’s still wicked and evil, but hopefully, confession is the path to recovery.

Sadly, I’m skeptical of that. I think groups like Planned Parenthood know very well that these are babies. They just don’t care. The problem with these babies is that they may deserve to be loved and wanted, and they are, but they also get in the way of our sex lives and our careers and well, we can’t have that now can we?

This ad is also unclear. This is a baby that is not in the womb. Does this mean that infanticide is now okay? Is the baby always a choice? Can she be a choice when she is outside of the womb?

I have no intention of holding back. Abortion is just an evil practice. When we read our Old Testaments and read about the Canaanites that Israel drove out, we need to realize we are worse than they were. They sacrificed their children to be sure, but usually, they did it for something like the good of the harvest for the community. When we do it, we do it at the altar of convenience.

Years ago I was at an apologetics conference where Chuck Colson was speaking and he said that if you are a Christian who supports abortion, you really need to check on the status of your faith. He got a standing ovation and sadly that surprised him because usually, that statement was quite controversial. Perhaps it is, but I agree with it.

Perhaps in the future, more abortions activists might be even more straightforward. We can hope. My fear is that if they are, our society would have reached such a place of immorality that they still won’t care.

In Christ,
Nick Peters