Whatever Happened To The Resurrection?

Have we forgotten the central Christian doctrine? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last week, I was at a funeral for a small child and whenever I go to funerals, I often think about how much sadly Christianity is missing out on its central doctrine. You don’t hear talk about the resurrection at funerals. You hear plenty of talk about Heaven, but the resurrection is absent. When I got up to speak, I made resurrection absolutely central to what I said.

I gave two contrasts. I said that if Christianity is not true, then we can believe that the death of this child is just something we don’t like in a chaotic and accidental world, that she is dead and that is it. Game over. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. We can create a bunch of little joys for ourselves despite this, but they won’t matter because the universe will die itself anyway and all will be for naught.

However, if the resurrection is true, then this is not the end of the story. This girl will rise again. It means that death is in the process of being conquered once and for all and we can all participate in the Kingdom.

Unfortunately, I see the ignoring of the resurrection often at funerals. When my own grandmother died, I was one of three assigned to speak at her funeral. Her pastor went before me and said, “Right now, she is experiencing the power of the resurrection!” I wanted to say “I’m sorry Pastor, but I’m looking and I’m pretty sure I see a dead body right there.” No. She will experience the resurrection, but not right now. The resurrection is not just a spiritual reality, but a physical one.

Go forward a couple of years and I have an aunt who dies. I’m at her funeral and after the pastor speaks about how he came back from his vacation to do this funeral (Who cares Pastor?), he then goes on and on and never once mentions resurrection. After awhile, he then says we have that blessed hope that Paul spoke of in 1 Thess. 4.

I know this passage! I’m getting excited! Say it! Say it! Say it!

“That we will see our loved ones again in Heaven.”

I slumped in my seat defeated yet again. That’s not what 1 Thess. 4 is about. 1 Thess. 4 is about the resurrection. That was the great hope. Why don’t pastors get this?

I wish it was just funerals, but it isn’t. Scroll through Facebook. If you see something about asking if people are saved, it becomes “They won’t go to Heaven when they die!” Go to your average church service. What happens in the sinner’s prayer? “Forgive me of my sins so I can go to Heaven when I die.”

Whatever happened to the resurrection?

Some of you might think it hasn’t gone away. After all, I am in the business of defending the resurrection. My father-in-law is one of the best at it. His mentor is the best at it. Christian apologetics today emphasizes the resurrection. It’s not forgotten.

Yet even then, I wonder if we have let it sink in. You see, we often say that if Jesus rose from the dead, Christianity is true, which I agree with, but then we don’t ask “And what does that mean?” Was the resurrection just one really awesome trick God pulled off to show what He can do?

No. Jesus’s life was based around a series of claims, mainly to be the Messiah of the people of Israel. This is why understanding the Old Testament is so important. We can often give a Gospel presentation where we start with Adam and Eve, good, and then skip straight from the fall to Jesus, as if the flood, the calling of Abraham, Moses, and the formation of the Kingdom of Israel is this superfluous part in the middle that we can just dispense with.

So what does it mean when the Messiah has come? It means the Kingdom of God has come. God is going to rule His Kingdom. What does that mean? Do we think God is building up a Kingdom here made of those who bow the knee to Him only to just do away with everything in the end and zipline us to Heaven?

No. This place is not a mistake. I do hold that one day the Earth will be reborn as it were undergoing its own resurrection, but I don’t think we will ever truly abandon it. Look at Revelation 21. Do you see the New Jerusalem going up to Heaven? No. You see it coming to Earth. It’s the marriage of Heaven and Earth.

What are some implications? For one thing, your body matters. One of the great heresies that first came to Christianity was Gnosticism which held that matter was some wicked evil thing. Christianity disagreed with this profusely because Jesus, who was and is fully God, lived in a human body, and I would contend still does.

Sometimes skeptics will look at our rules about sex and say “God sure seems to have a strange interest in what I do with my body.” Yes, and so do you. It’s no big deal supposedly where one puts their genitalia, until someone gets raped. Then it is a big deal. We all know it. A complete stranger grabs a random girl and kisses her? Okay. Sexual harrassment. The girl could be shaken for a bit, but she will be fine ultimately. If he rapes her, it’s something entirely different.

Christianity had to deal with this too. Some people said that sex should be avoided because it imprisons innocent souls in evil matter. Others said, sex makes no big deal because the body isn’t a big deal period. Christianity said both were wrong. There was nothing evil in being in matter, and that what you do with the body does matter. Sex was not an evil, but it was a good to be controlled and used in the right time and place, namely between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.

This also has something to say to ecology. This world is meant to be our home and a place for future generations. We should take care of it. This is the world God created. It’s not readily disposable. It’s to be stewarded. Now that doesn’t mean I embrace the environmentalist movement. Not at all. If one wants to help the environment, I recommend working with the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

This also means that indeed Israel matters. When Paul writes in 1 Cor. 10, he tells the people that our ancestors went through the Red Sea. For the new Christians, Israel’s history was also their history. What happened to the Jews then mattered and we Christians should know about it. If all you understand is the New Testament, you essentially have the end of the story without seeing how it begins.

Of course, we can’t deny that this means that death is not the end, but it’s not that we float off to a disembodied existence and stay that way forevermore. Let’s also not say anything like that we become angels or something of that sort. We don’t. Angels are not your fallen relatives that have gone on. Humans and angels are different creatures.

What happens is we get raised to a newness of life. We overcome all forms of death, spiritual and physical. God does not grant the devil a victory. He does not give up on this creation. He made it to dwell with us in it forever and that is what He is going to do. If someone doesn’t want to participate in that, that is their choice.

Please people. I urge you to not lose sight of the resurrection. It is our central doctrine and it means a lot more than that Christianity is true. It means a lot more than even this short blog post can say. A whole book could be written on this kind of topic. The resurrection is not just joy for the future. It’s joy for right now.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Loving Things, Using People

Are we a society of users? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On Facebook yesterday, I saw an old story about a woman in a competition I believe in Poland who apparently had sex with 919 men in a day, and another sad part is she beat her competition by a small number. Ultimately, I see a woman who has cheapened herself and allowed herself to be used just to get a record like this. The story ended with saying that she had sex with her “lucky” boyfriend that evening. Yes. A lucky guy no doubt. He was lucky enough to be #920 in line. Can she truly say she’s saved something special for him?

Isn’t that term interesting? We speak of someone “Getting lucky.” Now I understand what it means. Most any married man especially will tell you that an evening that includes sex is a good evening and naturally, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting that, looking forward to it, and enjoying it. What is often wrong is that this is seen as the goal of relationships. Why does a guy date a girl? Ultimately often just to get into her pants we think. Now don’t understand. Any guy dating a girl should want to have sex with her. He really should. That desire must be controlled until marriage, but the desire is not the problem. Treating it as the greatest good is.

In a married relationship, one of the biggest goals of sexuality in it is to unify closer together. The main theory is that women need to feel intimate to have sex and men need to have sex to feel intimate. A woman should indeed give sex for the sake of intimacy, but a man should always be doing his part. Men. Please never stop dating your wife and being romantic. We often, both men and women, put forward our best foot while dating and strive to be our best, but then when we marry it’s easy to say “Well I’ve got them now” and coast. Don’t coast. Be keeping up the speed you’re going on and gaining more and more.

If there’s something I suspect leads to this usage of men and women, though especially women in our culture, it is that we don’t have a rite of passage in our society. In many parts of the world, there is a rite of passage where a young man or woman undergoes a ritual or completes a task or something of that sort where they are then seen as a fully functioning man or woman by society. We go so far against that that we have a stage called adolescence and call people teenagers. They are not seen as adults, but they are not seen as children, but they strive to be adults. (Why do even small children play games where they are adults?)

For many men, the rite of passage for them as being seen as a man is having sex. It is “conquering” as it were, a woman. After all, you don’t want to be a prude and be a virgin do you? What does that mean to say you cannot be successful in a relationship with a woman? Are you scared or what?

For many women, it can be similar, but the desire for them is to be loved and know that they are beautiful. Girls. Let me put this to you clearly. When a guy wants sex, he will do or say most anything to get it. (Yeah. In case you haven’t noticed, women have this strange power over men. Wives. You need to realize you have this power too to motivate your man to goodness.) They will tell you they love you and that you’re beautiful and everything. Unfortunately, they will often kick you to the curb afterward. They got what they want. Move on to the next one.

For women, I encourage you to realize something. You are the one in charge. You let every man know how much you’re worth. So how much are you worth? Dinner and a movie? Three dates? A month? Six months? Engagement? Women. You can’t put a higher price on yourself than marriage. You let every man know you’re worth a lifelong commitment and if he’s not willing to pay the price, he doesn’t get what he wants.

What I wish women realized is that you are beautiful and you don’t need to treat that beauty cheaply. If a man really wants you, he will do what it takes and if that means marriage, he’ll do it. If he’s not willing, he’s not worthy. Please don’t also accept this garbage about living together. You can’t have a good relationship if you’re treating each other like a test. It won’t work.

The end result overall in our society is that we have treated sex as a god and used one another as a way of getting this god. Now there is something that we actually have right here. Sex is a transcendent experience. I have a book here written by a pastor and his wife and in it, the authors say something along the lines of that if an atheist ever asks you to prove that there is a God, just say one word. Sex. Give him a day to think about it. If he’s not convinced, he’s told you a lot more about his sex life than he realizes.

There is a transcendent experience there. It is something that gets you out of yourself and entering into something totally unique. It was made to be that way. Sex was God’s idea first. He created it, the engine behind it, and the strong desire for it. One of the big mistakes we have made is to treat it as something dirty. It’s not.

One of my favorite blogs to read is “To Love, Honor, and Vacuum.” Sheila Wray Gregoire runs it and she said recently she is going to stop telling women they need to stay pure until marriage. I was a bit astounded and read to see what she was saying, then I agreed with her! What kind of message is it to say “Stay pure until you’re married and then when you have sex, you’re no longer pure.” You still are pure! Sex doesn’t make you dirty!

So what’s the danger? We confuse the gift with the giver. There is a saying that a finger is good for pointing at the moon, but woe to the man who mistakes a finger for the moon. Picture having a dog and pointing at his food dish for him to eat. Instead, the dog sniffs your finger. He misses the point. So do we. We see sex as an end in itself when really, it’s a great good to lead to even greater goods.

So what happens when we treat it as the end in itself? We use one another. Lewis once wrote about a man who was trapped with a great lustful desire. People would say he needs a woman. Lewis said that is the last thing he needs. If he came across a real woman, he wouldn’t know what to do with her. What he wants most is not a woman but sex and the female body happens to be the apparatus he wants to use to get that sex. The person doesn’t matter. It is the body that makes the difference.

For the Christian, it’s both. If we say that the body doesn’t matter and taking care of it doesn’t matter, then we are essentially gnostics. The body does matter, but it is not just a body. It is a person with a body. The body is how we perform the acts of love for one another. Do you kiss the person you love? Do you do works of art or fix them dinner or take care of the house or earn a living or anything else? All of these are done with the body.

If you think the body doesn’t matter, then picture this. You are a wife sitting at home and your husband comes in. Normally he comes to where you’re sitting, leans over and kisses you. Today, he leans over and smacks you across the face. Does that matter? You bet it does. The body is the means you use to express the desire of your soul. That is what takes places in marriage. The marriage act itself is the greatest expression of your soul through your body to show how much you love and want and trust and desire the other person.

What’s it going to take to change this? For one thing Christians, please stop thinking that a purity pledge, a single talk from Mom and Dad, and a few verses in Paul is enough to stop raging hormones. It isn’t. Just think back to when you were dating. Instead, your child needs a whole worldview of sex. They need to know what place it plays and why it’s reserved for marriage.

Second, let your boys and girls have ways to know they are men and women apart from sex. Fathers are the most essential at this. Fathers need to treat boys like men and make them into men. Ultimately, only another man can do that. If you’re a single mother, I urge you to find someone who can be a father figure for your sons. It could be a coach, an uncle, or a grandfather.

For those of you with daughters, please always let your daughter know she’s beautiful and loved. Make it so that if she marries a man, he’s going to be a man who treats her in a way easily comparable to how her Daddy treats her. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, order something for your daughter as well. Let her know what a special person she is in your life. Be willing to spend father-daughter time together. Even now that Allie and I are married, her Dad will still come to see her and take her out for some father-daughter time together. I have no problem with that. When we lived in Knoxville, her father-in-law once took her to a church event that was a father-daughter dance. I stayed at home. I had no problem with it.

And when it comes to the marrieds, like my own wife and I, can we still get “lucky.”? Yes. We can. In fact, we are. We are “lucky” because we have one person that gives us that ultimate trust and desire. Sex is the full expression of that love and desire with no fear of holding back. What makes us “lucky” is we have someone who shares that experience with us and only us. I share something unique with Allie and she shares it with me that is not shared with anyone else on the planet. How can I not be lucky? I’m the only person in this world treasured by Allie and who gets to fully treasure her.

Ladies especially, please realize your worth. Many men will want to use you and even good men will be tempted to give in. Be strong. You are worth it. Wait until marriage. You have the rest of your lives then to enjoy that gift together and it is a gift. Be picky. Be finicky. Be exclusive. You don’t need to settle for anything less than a lifetime commitment.

Follow these steps, and it is far less likely that you will use one another. You are not objects. The greatest good is not the sex. The greatest good is the love and joy that is shared mutually. Sex is the way that you get this in a married relationship, but it is not the end in itself.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Valentine’s Day Thoughts for 2017

What are we to do with Valentine’s Day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today is Valentine’s Day, which many also do call Singles’ Awareness Day. I do understand it. I used to dread the day, but now I’m married so that changes. As I thought about the day today, I thought about how much has changed since the coming of Christ with regard to romantic love.

One of the mistakes we often make when we read the Bible is we assume the people of the time were for the most part, just like us. They weren’t. Through studies today, we’re learning that the majority world is really radically different and we’re the odd ones out. They function more in terms of honor and shame and we in terms of guilt and innocence.

One way of change also is romantic love. Now let’s be clear. When we look at the ancients, there were indeed times that you would see a man with deep love and affection for his spouse. This was more often the exception. Many a man was seen as more of a man by how many women (Or young boys even) he could bed. The women meanwhile were to be chaste. As we see our culture abandoning Christianity, it’s not a shock that we move back to that idea even more.

Marriages were more often arranged. There wasn’t any going out and dating and finding the right man for you. You were also expected to be married at a much earlier age. Many of our fourteen-year-old girls today could be in a panic trying to decide what to wear to school the next day. Their ancestors would be busy being mothers to children. I really think one of the great disasters of our age is we’ve lost a rite of passage idea into manhood and womanhood and too many of our young people think the way you show yourself a man or a woman is by having sex instead of having the mindset of a man or a woman.

When we go to the letter to the Ephesians, we can get into a lot of arguments about a woman submitting to her husband. What we often forget is the shock that would come to the men when they heard the command to love their wives and give themselves for them. They would have thought that Paul was on the crack of his day.

Through Christ, we learned immensely about sacrificial love and men learned to be chaste and be only with their wives sexually. This became a reigning paradigm for some time, but sadly we’ve seen ourselves moving away from it. Just yesterday in fact, I read a statistic about how 30% of women doing online dating sleep with the guy on the first date. You have to wonder at that point if anything is sacred.

Valentine’s Day is a day for us as Christians to show the world a different and a better way. I always encourage Christians who are married to live out their marriage. If we look at the world as dishonoring marriage, my fear is that the world does it because the church did it first. If we want the battle for true marriage, we need to not only defend marriage as it is, but we need to live it as it is.

I don’t know what your plan is for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, but if you are a husband, love her as Christ loved the church. If you are a wife, love him as the church loves Christ. Seek to give of yourselves. There is no place in marriage for looking out for yourself. In fact, we are told to look out for the interests of others above ourselves. If you can’t do that in marriage, where can you do it?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Your First Ministry

Where does your Christian service begin? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this post, I’m mainly writing to my fellow apologists, but I think what I say applies to every field of ministry. Also, I will be using male pronouns throughout and such, but if you’re a woman, just find the counterpart. It will apply to you just as much.

In apologetics, it’s understandable that you have to be specially equipped. You have to spend that time in study and there are those debates that you have to attend to. That happens. I have the same situation. I read my books as much as I can. I want to be able to answer as much as I can.

We also know that what we do, well, we do for God. There should be no question about that. We are not in the ministry for ourselves. We are in it for the cause of a  greater good. God is not a means to the success of our kingdoms. We are a means to the success of His.

Despite all of this, many of could still be failures in ministry. I have something specific in mind for a failure in ministry. This is someone who no matter how good they do in the apologetics field, even if they’re someone like the next William Lane Craig, they have failed their first ministry.

That ministry is their family.

Now I know some of you might say “Well Jesus said if we do not hate our families, we cannot be His disciples.” We all know that means that the Kingdom has to come before our families, yes. If we rank our priorities, the Kingdom is our first priority. Still, that doesn’t mean we abandon our family responsibilities for the Kingdom. This is said in passages such as Jesus talking to the Pharisees about eating with unwashed hands or in Paul’s talking in 1 Tim. 3 about the requirements of a deacon and one being that they lead their own families.

You see, if you’re in apologetics, there are plenty of other people that can take the work for you if you need a break. I don’t debate on Sundays for instance. It’s just a day to recharge. On those days, I don’t worry. There are plenty of other people who can do apologetics meanwhile. I don’t have to jump into every debate I see. There are other people who can handle debates.

Despite all that I do, there is only one person who can be a husband to Allie, and that is me. So it is for all of you out there. Only one person can be a husband to your wife and only one person can be a father to your children. You don’t want to risk that role going to another man because you shirked your responsibilities.

I encourage men for instance when they get married, go on your honeymoon and take no book with you except your Bible for daily reading with your spouse, not for academic reading for yourself. Do not do Facebook or email while there. The world can wait. This time should be devoted to your spouse and the rest of the world can wait.

Now, of course, there will be valid exceptions. If you’re on your honeymoon and you meet someone who just wants to know how to be a Christian or you encounter someone who is suicidal, by all means, do your Christian duty, but don’t be seeking it out. These kinds of exceptions apply across the board, but don’t be looking for them.

Please never ever forget this. Your marriage should be your first priority and dare I say it, it is more important even than your children. One of the best gifts you can give your children is a good marriage. In fact, don’t hesitate to gross the kiddies out. Let them see you two kissing together.

Some of you who follow me on Facebook know that every day, except Sunday, I’m posting something about how much Allie means to me. Why do I do this? Because it’s my belief that a husband and wife should have Facebook pages that others can be clear about their love for their spouse. If you come to my page, I want you to know how much Jesus means to me and I want you to know how much Allie means to me.

So my friends, please do the work and study hard and learn all you can, but remember, if you have a family, do not neglect them. You have a work with them that no one else can do. Your family is your first ministry.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do We Think About Sex Too Much?

Do we need to change our minds? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I remember years ago seeing someone on Facebook put up a status saying that the problem with our society is we think too much about sex. One can see his point. You turn on the TV and before too long, you see sex. You listen to our political debates, you hear sex. More and more people are living together before marriage. Sex is seen as a rite of passage for many men to show that they are indeed men. Sex is practically our national obsession. So surely the answer to the question is obvious.

The answer to the question is, no. We don’t think too much about sex. I contend just the opposite. We think too little about sex.

“What? Are you crazy?! Look at what you just said! Look at what’s on our TV sets! Look at what you see in the movies! Look at how sexually active our young people are! Look at how much people are having sex! Surely we’re thinking too much about this!”

No. Not at all. We dream about it. We fantasize about it. We hope about it. We desire it. We just outright do it plenty. All of this is true, but we don’t spend a lot of time really thinking about it. We don’t really examine what the national obsession is and why we care about it so much.

To be sure, let me state I am never at all condemning strong sexual desire. I am a happily married man. You think I’m going to condemn sexual desire? No way. One of the great gifts of marriage is that you get to experience the fulfillment of this sexual desire. In fact, if you have strong, strong sexual desire, you should go and get married.

The question we need to ask is what is this great wonder that we are so amazed about? I find it amazing that we have spent so many years developing great tools for our entertainment. We have more channels on TV, more games we can play, more gadgets we can be amused with, etc. What is it that we still find ourselves so obsessed with? Sex. That is just what our great forerunners thousands of years ago were obsessed with. All the pleasures of the world and we still can’t top the one from the beginning. Why is that?

Before I was married, there was something I thought odd about sex. Many of my fellow friends and I who were all waiting for marriage had this great and intense desire for something we were sure was very good, and we had no idea why we just seemed to instinctively know that. How can you have an intense longing for something that you’ve never had before? This is part of the mystery.

And what is it that we really want? A lot of women have a really simplistic view of men for instance. This is the view that all a man cares about is physical release and not emotional connection at all. The Unveiled Wife site had a recent article about an interview with her husband and it says “His answers will surprise you.” You can read it here.

They might surprise you if you’re a woman. Most husbands I know were reading it and going through and saying “Yeah. That’s exactly what I would have said.” As I read the article, I knew that that was exactly what I would have said as well. It wasn’t breaking news. That a lot of women consider this a shock is something that I do find concerning.

Could it be we really want what could be called a transcendent experience? Could it be we truly want to be accepted by another totally? Could it be that sex is really built in so that each of us gets something we deeply desire? A man desires to be strong and respected and wanted. A woman desires to be loved and seen as beautiful. Sex gives us both.

We have spent so much time doing sex and treating it like just a hobby, instead of really thinking about it. This is especially so for us Christians. After all, sex is not our idea. It’s God’s. He made it. He set everything in motion. He built in the desire. He even gave us a book in Scripture all about the celebration of sex.

Earlier in the post, I indicated that we see sex everywhere and talk about it everywhere. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. There is one place we don’t do that. That is the church. In the church, sex is very often that forbidden topic. Sure, many of our men and some of our women are spending the week struggling with pornography. Sure. Many of our young people are thinking that any sexual expression is okay as long as it’s in love and you don’t hurt anyone and are living together and sexually active themselves. Sure, our church members are thinking about this topic and seeing it all around them and the public school system and the rest of the world has a message about sex, but that doesn’t mean we need to talk about it.

There’s a word for that. That word is “stupid.”

If anything, the church should be talking about sex more than anyone else. We worship the God who created it. It is His gift to us. We are to handle it properly. We ought to be taught about the sacredness of sex. It’s not something dirty, like many people believe. It’s also not something just for men that women are to suffer through. Sex is holy and we as God’s people ought to treat it as holy.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t really think about sex at all, which is sadly the way we go through our Christianity. We go and sing songs and listen to sermons and read our Bibles, but we don’t really think about what is going on. We go through the experience and we want the experience, but we don’t think about it.

Perhaps today we should begin thinking better about both. If we’re married, how can we better treat sex with our spouses? If we’re single, we still have to honor sex properly, such as by realizing that unless we marry, we have to abstain from all sexual activity. We also have to promote sexual holiness with our fellow man, as in helping to build up marriages and come along side couples when thy have problems.

You know, be the church. We are to be the church in every area of our lives.

Even sex.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

It Is Okay To Enjoy Your Life

Can enjoyment help spread the Kingdom? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I did my senior sermon in Bible College, I chose to talk about the theme of wonder. Why is it that we don’t seem to have wonder in anything? Christian philosopher once said the great tragedy for the ancients was that they worshiped the sun, moon, and stars. Our great tragedy is we’re not even tempted to.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not opposed to the scientific enterprise, but we’ve reached a point where if we think we can explain anything scientifically, it loses its fascination with us many times. Dan Barker relates an experience in Godless where he is riding with a relative who is trying to convince him of God and points to the beauty of the mountains. Barker responds by giving a scientific explanation of how mountains are formed. The relative takes this as a defeater. Why should it be? Cannot the mountains be the beautiful work of God that hold us in wonder and still be the result of a scientific process?

When I preached the above sermon, someone beforehand hearing about what I was speaking on had told me about a then recent cover of Moody magazine with the question “Is it right to enjoy my life?” Yes. Someone had to honestly ask that and someone had to honestly write an article saying it is no sin to enjoy your life.

Of course, this doesn’t equal traditional hedonism. Don’t go and do something just because it’s fun. At the same time, don’t think something is sinful just because it’s fun. Dare I say it, but one of the great slams you could give to the evil one would be to rightfully enjoy your life?

Why? Because we believe every good and perfect gift comes from God. That means that we ought to enjoy these things. 1 Tim. 6:17 even says this explicitly. God supplies us with all things richly for our enjoyment. This applies to the natural world that we see, but it also implies to the things that we create. We can enjoy a good movie, book, TV show, artwork, hobby, etc.

When we enjoy them, we are delighting in the gifts of God. There is so much around us every day and we are showing the proper gratitude for them. Boredom is not the idea of God. Boredom is more the idea of the evil one. It is the idea of saying that there is nothing here worth being excited about.

It’s odd because we think the devil is behind pleasure. He’s not. Pleasure is a tool for the enemy only if it will keep us from the greatest pleasure, knowing God. This is because we usually see God as a killjoy who is opposed to our fun. If there’s any area of life where this is shown clearest, it’s in sexuality.

Something about sex is that while it has many purposes, one such purpose is pleasure. Sex was meant to be enjoyable for a man and a woman. A woman even has a clitoris just for the purpose that she can enjoy sex. I remember hearing years ago the saying that the devil will do anything he can to make a couple have sex before they’re married, and after they’re married he’ll do anything he can to keep them from having sex. Loving sex in a committed marital union that binds the man and the woman together is something that builds up trust and intimacy and something the evil one would not want. One of the best gifts you could give the Kingdom of God if you’re married is a happy and thriving marriage.

Sadly, Christians have earned the reputation of being opposed to anything enjoyable. How many of us have heard this kind of testimony? “Well, I used to go out and party, get drunk, hang out with beautiful women and have a lot of sex, but now I am a Christian and I don’t do any of that stuff.” A lot of non-Christians in the audience would be saying “Sounds like you lost out.” They’re not right, but can we understand how when we phrase it that way, that they could have a point?

To this day, I can remember being in a Sunday School class with a friend of mine and hearing the teacher say with a finger pointing and in the most monotone way that I can imitate to this day “The Christian life should be the most exciting life of all.” He was right in what he said, but horribly wrong in how he said it. There was nothing exciting about it. The dry tone made us think that he couldn’t have been listening to himself.

I’m not at all advocating a materialistic hedonism or anything like that, but I am saying we Christians need to do some serious thinking about the role of pleasure in our lives. It is no sin to enjoy the world God created. It is no sin to delight in the things He has made. We could say if anything is sin, it is the opposite. It is sin to not appreciate and delight in what He has made.

So for me, I want to make it that part of my witness to the world is that I enjoy being a Christian and I delight in it. I love what I do, including being in the field of Christian apologetics, and I love that I’m married to the woman that I love. These give me enough reason to wake up and be thankful every day. My life has meaning because I am part of the grand story that God is creating and my life is not a punishment. It is a gift.

I think I’ll treat it like one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Openness Unhindered. Further Thoughts Of An Unlikely Convert On Sexual Identity And Union With Christ

What do I think of Rosaria Butterfield’s book published by Crown & Covenant Publications? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all know the story. A person lives their life struggling with sin and then, they come to Christ. They pour out their heart in repentance to Him and God forgives them and frees them from the shame of the past. No more are they hindered by the chains that kept them bound. They walk in newness of life free from the past temptations entirely.

Or…..maybe not.

In fact, a lot of people would wish that was the case. Sometimes some will be thinking that God betrayed them or lied to them. If we have become new creatures in Christ, why is it that the past is still an issue? Why do we not experience deliverance from all the struggles of the past? How can I be a new creature in Christ and still struggle mightily with a sin?

Rosaria Butterfield knows about this quite well. She had been a professor living in a lesbian relationship when a pastor gently responded to an article she wrote about the Promise Keepers. This pastor was a pushback to her, but also was not in her face. She, in fact, notes that the first time she visited him and his wife, they did not give her the Gospel or invite her to church. In fact, she appreciated that greatly.

She began studying the Bible on her own and in fact studying it as a postmodern. Romans 1 was quite a difficult passage for her, but one she could not escape. What if instead of gay pride, she was just really having pride? What if what she took pride in was in fact really a form of rebellion? The questions came at her fast and furious.

One day, she just reached her breaking point. She wound up admitting that God was God and becoming a Christian. From then on, she knew things had to change. Much of her book is about dealing with this. Indeed she did change. She is now the wife of a reformed pastor in North Carolina, but she has a heart for those who are struggling with many issues.

One of Butterfield’s key themes is identity. Our identity when we come to Christ and even before is not to be based on our sexual orientation, as the term is used. Our identity is greater than the people we are attracted to or share a bed with. One of her main points she wants to have raised is we should not use terms like “gay Christian” even when we speak of Christians who agree that homosexual activity is wrong and want to live a celibate life. Why take an adjective that describes a condition that the Bible refers to as sin and making it part of your identity just like Christian is in your identity? Taking it as an identity is in some way clinging to it and holding on to it, as if it’s something central to who you are.

She does realize that some Christians disagree with this and in fact, she has an example of that in the book. She talks about her friend Rebecca who still struggles with same-sex attraction. Butterfield makes an important point that for some people, sanctification does not necessarily mean being delivered from the sinful temptations. Heterosexuality is not the goal of sanctification, but holiness is and you can just as much be a sinner as a heterosexual as you can a homosexual. For some people, the sign of their sanctification could be living with these sinful desires and NOT giving in.

To the rest of us, she says part of the danger we have could be what she calls the gag reflex to homosexuality. We can describe homosexual acts as if to get the response of “ewww. Yucky.” What we end up doing can be saying “I’m so thankful I don’t do that!” or for those Christians who are struggling with same-sex attraction, putting thoughts in their heads. We can end up having a sort of superiority complex to the homosexuals who do this “shameful behavior.” Now I do believe the Bible describes it as shameful, but that is not because of something being gross. Our problems with a behavior should be with the moral status of the behavior and not the personal taste status of the behavior.

For an analogy, imagine a pastor at a church describing the evil of an affair. Rather than state that a sexual affair is an evil thing, he goes into great detail of a man meeting a woman at a hotel room and describing what goes on behind closed doors. Is he really helping anyone? No. We all know what goes on behind closed doors. If anything, most men in the audience are now suddenly having to deal with a temptation as they are having a fantasy play out in their minds.

Butterfield also stresses that for a Christian, life should be a life of repentance. We should be watching ourselves to see where we are falling short. Butterfield does write with the heart of a counselor. At times, sometimes the reformed aspect can shine through a bit brighter so if, like me, you don’t hold to a Calvinistic position, that can be difficult, but either way, those of us who don’t still do agree with repentance and we do still see God as sovereign even if we don’t understand how that works out.

She also stresses the importance of community. Community should be a way we come together and pray for one another and if anyone does struggle with unwanted attractions, they can find comfort in having people who will hear them. They might not be able to do anything beyond that, besides pray of course, but they can be listeners.

Butterfield’s book is a good one. If there was one area I would change, it’s that there is talk about dealing with unwanted sexual attractions and such, but at the same time, I always want to see that there is a positive message about sexuality. A true sexuality is something God gives us to enjoy and celebrate. It would have been good to have heard Butterfield’s thoughts on that.

Still, this is a book that will leave you thinking and hopefully get you more in tune with thinking about holiness. Repentance is a word much more on my mind since reading this. I also wouldn’t mind seeing more community as described by Butterfield and will definitely be watching to check for the gag reflex approach to homosexuality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Unveiled Wife

What do I think of Jennifer Smith’s book published by Tyndale? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is the story of one woman who got married expecting to find a paradise of roses, but ending up having more thorns. Why? Picture a Christian couple who have saved themselves for marriage who then marry. Later on, the guys all want to ask the groom, “So did you enjoy your first time?”

Jennifer Smith’s husband would not be able to answer that.

In fact, he would not be able to answer that for four years. His wife had intense pain every time they attempted so that they couldn’t seal the deal as it were. This led to increased friction between the two and them. Smith shares the story from her perspective.

Wow. What can I say about this book? I have to say this is one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. While we didn’t have the same problems, such as four years of a sexless marriage, I found some struggles that my own wife went through and thought “Wow. Other people went through this?” In fact, they went through it even more.

What makes the book so good is that Smith shares her own personal experience. She is truly unveiled as she lets the reader into the then dark places of her soul. She lets you know what she was thinking and feeling. The picture is not a pretty one. At the same time, the beauty is that it’s a real one.

In fact, one night after reading this on my Kindle, I went to the Facebook app and sent my own wife a message about how I wanted to be a better husband. I think I do good already, but there’s ALWAYS room for improvement. I wanted to let her know I’m here for any struggles that she has. The story in the book moves me that much.

Smith is a talented writer who gets you drawn into the story. Even though I knew going in what was the problem with the couple, it was nothing like getting to hear the story itself. When you get to the point where the trouble is resolved in the account, it is like reading a miracle account and you truly celebrate with them at that point.

Wives. This book will also show what a difference sex does play in a marriage. When a couple goes four years without, it places a huge strain on the relationship. A man feels inadequate because a deep need can’t be satisfied. A woman feels inadequate because the need of her husband isn’t being met.

The book is also written for discussion quite easily, though largely aimed at women. Each chapter is short and ends with questions that can easily foster discussion. That makes this an excellent book for women to read together.

I can easily say this is one of the most powerful accounts I have ever read. The story has left me with a greater desire to be a better husband to my wife. I have also learned to work on my own insecurities and get past some grievances with some people who have hurt my wife.

While much of this is geared towards women, I do think it would be great for husbands and wives to read together and discuss. A man reading this can get to hear what it’s like in the mind of a woman. He will walk away realizing the impact that his actions have on her.

Please do go and get this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/12/2016: J Parker

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

Many of you know that after becoming married, I have become pro-pro-marriage. Marriage is a wonderful and life-changing event, but like many good things, it takes work. You never coast through marriage. You actively strive to give it your best.

One area of marriage that we can often struggle with is sex. It is one of the three biggest areas of disagreement in a marriage. Men tend to have a very high drive and don’t understand why their wives don’t want to be with them all the time. Women can have a hard time getting used to the idea that sex is a good thing after being told otherwise all their life and can struggle with shame over body image and feel tired.

What can we do?

We could take to someone who has written in this area and knows what they’re talking about. That’s who my guest is going to be this Saturday. We will be interviewing J Parker of the blog Hot, Holy, and Humorous. She has also written a book of the same name. Who is she?

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J. Parker is a Christian marriage and sex author and speaker who blogs at Hot, Holy & Humorous [dot] com. She has written three books: a self-help book titled Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design; a devotional book titled Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage; and a book of short stories titled Behind Closed Doors: Five Marriage Stories. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Abilene Christian University and a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Houston. Married for twenty-three years, J. has fondly nicknamed her logical husband “Spock,” has two teenage sons, and lives in the great state of Texas. When not writing about sex in marriage, J. pens teen fiction, binge-watches Netflix shows, or hangs out with her fabulous family and friends.

What are some of the important things that people need to know about sex? How do we handle this awkward situation of men with high drives going crazy at the chance to have sex with their wives and women who are sometimes just not feeling it? What can men do to better handle this situation? What can women do to better handle this situation? (Of course, there are exceptions. There are marriages where women have the higher drive.)

If you’re someone who is married, you need to listen to this show. Ideally, husbands and wives can listen together and discuss afterward. If you’re about to get married, you need to pay attention. This is something that is coming up in your future and you need to be ready for it. If you’re just hoping to get married, you need to listen to this show. This can give you a hint of some of the things that you have to look forward to. (And yes, sex is definitely something to look forward to.)

We are uploading episodes now. I have someone who is really working well with me on the sound issues and such. Hopefully it won’t take long to be caught up. Please also consider leaving a positive review of the show on ITunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Family First

If you want to be an apologist, what is an important step to take? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, a friend messaged me wanting advice. They were getting set to start an apologetics ministry and they wanted to know how to get their work out there. Now if you didn’t have the title to give it away, some would think the first piece of advice would involve studying hard or speaking to scholars or speaking at local churches or something like that.

Nope. The first piece of advice I have is to put your family first. As a married man, I cannot stress this enough. If you are not a married man (or woman) yet then treat your work in such a way that it is not the driving obsessive force in your life. If someone comes along, you will not be married to your work. You will be prepared to be married to them.

You see, I love what I do in apologetics, but it is not meant to replace my marriage at all. If something happened to me, God forbid, then someone else if need be could take over Deeper Waters. Someone else could write a fill-in blog for me. Someone else could do the podcast. Now you could say that if I died, Allie would be free to remarry. That’s true. Yet while we’re alive, I could ask someone to guest host or guest blog on my show. I cannot ask someone to guest husband for Allie. Only one person can do that, and that’s me.

One statement I’ve made to men that I talk to about is this. I don’t care if you write the best books on apologetics out there. I don’t care if you’re the most capable debater and all opponents are scared of you. I don’t care if you have the most successful ministry answering questions the world over. If you do all of that and yet you are not a husband to your wife or a father to your children (Use the appropriate terminology for female apologists) then I count you as a failure in ministry.

When you make a covenant with your wife, it is to her. It is not to your job. Barring some emergency (Like someone contemplating suicide and I’m having to talk to them), if Allie really needs me and someone else does, someone else is going to have to wait. Allie comes first. There come times in the relationship where it’s important to put the book down and not worry about your work. Just be with your spouse.

By the way guys, I also give this tip for the honeymoon and I did it as well. Once you marry, take that honeymoon period off from everything. When we went on our honeymoon, I only brought one book with me, the Bible. You and your wife need to read that together on your honeymoon. Other than that, when I checked my phone, it was not to check email or Facebook. It was to check directions and things like that. I did not answer emails for a week. I did not interact on Facebook for a week. I was not doing any debating for a week. I even asked her parents and mine to not contact us unless it was an emergency. Let us be, and they honored that.

“But I want to put up wedding pictures!” There’s plenty of time for that. “But I want everyone to know how our honeymoon is!” There’s plenty of time for that later. For the time being, let that time be you and your spouse alone and no one else. There were several people who could handle the world of apologetics and ministry while we were away. Now naturally, if I came across someone who really really needed help on our honeymoon, I would do it. Allie would expect nothing less. The thing is you’re not seeking out the opportunities to do that. If God sends someone your way, you take care of it. If not, that’s fine. Loving your spouse is a service to God in itself. Only you can be a husband to your wife or a wife to your husband.

By all means in apologetics, study hard. Speak to the scholars. Get your work out there. Speak at those local churches and such. In human terms though, let your first commitment be to your family. Let no one else fill those shoes for you while you’re still breathing.

In Christ,
Nick Peters