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 Does It Mean To Love?

When we say we love something or someone, what do we mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Like God, love is one of the most meaningless words in the universe.

Wait. Does that sound problematic to some of you? Do I sound like a nihilist? Well, on both counts, I believe both of them.

Is it because neither are real? Absolutely not. Love is real and God is real. The problem with these words is usually they’re said devoid of content. Ask someone if they believe in God. Whatever the answer, you always have to ask what they mean by that. Someone in a pantheistic religion means something far different by that than a devout Christian in the West does.

And what about love? I can tell you numerous things and people that I love. God. My wife. My family. Friends. Gaming. My cat. Reading. Good debate. All of these are things or persons that I love. The problem is I can’t give love the same meaning across the board entirely.

I love my God, but that has to be a far greater love than anything else on the list. I also love my wife, but when I say I love the rest of my family, there are certainly ways that I love my wife that I will never love my family. This is so strong that if anyone in my family or even extended family with marriage tried to love my wife the same way, we would be moving away from them entirely and possibly having a lot of counseling.

Generally, when it comes to persons, I think the idea of love also means that we seek what is genuinely good for the other for the sake of the other. We won’t do that perfectly in the sense that we can have a false idea of what is good for the other, though to be fair, our intentions are good.

But what role do our feelings play in this? Some people have this idea that if you love someone, you should always feel a certain way towards them. You won’t. Sometimes, you might feel the opposite. There are mornings I have got up and I have been upset about how my life is going and I have not felt love for God in me. What of it? That means that day I have no responsibility to walk a Christian life? Not at all. God is my king, and when you have a king, it doesn’t matter if you feel like serving Him or not.

I have a wife also, and there are many times that I can be upset with her about something. In every marriage, there is some conflict. I do not believe Jesus was married, but if He was, He would not have had a perfect marriage because He would have been married to an imperfect woman. If He could not have had a perfect marriage, I don’t expect I will.

So what happens if I get up in the morning and Allie and I are fighting and I don’t really feel a lot of love in me? I love anyway. We have this strange view in our culture that if you love someone when you don’t feel like it, it’s not genuine. On the contrary, I think that’s when love is the most genuine. It’s when one rises above their moods and does the right thing regardless.

Lindsay Harold on her blog wrote a piece arguing that wives as an example should have sex with their husbands even when they don’t feel like it. It’s another example. What virtue is it to do what you feel like doing? Wow. You did good because you felt like doing it. You obviously deserve a reward!

Can love produce feelings? It sure can. Does that mean it is a feeling? Of course not. We have turned the idea of falling into love as something sacred and there can be no wrong. It’s why we have this idea that our hearts are so infallible and that we just need to follow our heart constantly. We all know from Scripture that that is not really the case.

How did we get to this point in our culture? It’s because like many other things, we stopped thinking about it. We don’t think about God. We don’t think about love. We don’t think about sex. We don’t really think much about anything. We spend a lot of time doing things. We don’t spend time thinking about what we’re doing. We do what we feel like and that’s that.

None of this is to say feelings and emotions are evil. They are not. God gave them to us for a reason. It is to say that they are not to control us. When we know the right thing to do, we are to do it anyway. If you feel like it, fine. If not, it doesn’t matter. Do it anyway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Sex. It’s Worth Waiting For

What do I think of Greg Speck’s book published by Moody Publishers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If I’m not reading on apologetics, I’m often reading on sex and marriage. One topic that’s interesting in this is encouraging young people to wait for marriage, like my wife and I both did. The importance in this topic is to find the balance.

One clear memory I have is being at a church I attended when they had a Silver Ring Thing, which is like True Love Waits. The pastor speaking was saying if you have sex for marriage, it will be for selfish reasons. Okay. I can agree with that. Then he encouraged thinking about the consequences. What if you get pregnant? Get an STD? What will you have to tell your future spouse one day? What about shame? What about guilt?

And I’m thinking, “Those sound like selfish reasons to me also.”

This guy went on and on. He gave about a sentence about the joy of sex in marriage and kept going on about not having it beforehand. I started zoning out. Pastors. If you are teaching about sex in church and a college-age guy is in the audience and getting bored, you are doing it wrong.

Greg Speck’s book is written to teenagers so it is a bit odd for someone in his late-thirties to be reading it, but I want to see what is said. I liked a lot of what I said. Speck’s style is easy to follow. He writes in a way that teenagers will understand. (Okay. To be fair, I didn’t read the whole section on STDs. That was a bit gross.) He also writes with a pastoral heart.

There are many chapters. Speck wants the readers to first off know, sex is more than just intercourse. It can start off small, and then go on from there. Many times, we want to know how close we can get to the line without crossing. It’s a quite foolish stance, though understandable. It’s like we want to put ourselves in unnecessary risk. I personally recommend couples go no further past step eight in their relationship in The Twelve Steps of Intimacy until they marry.

Speck goes into Biblical reasons also for waiting until marriage, but then he also has testimonials from teenagers who didn’t. I think the last part is particularly worthwhile. Sadly for many young people, a few Bible verses will not be enough. If you’re sitting with your girlfriend on a couch, a random verse from Paul won’t likely stop anything. Now if you have a thoroughly thought out position of sex and know how it fits into a Christian worldview, that’s a different matter, but many young people do not. (And honestly, many adults don’t either.)

From there, Speck goes on to various other situations involving sexuality. These are ones that often aren’t talked about with teenagers, but they need to be. These include incest, rape, and the fear that you could be homosexual. There is also a section on pornography and masturbation and with the former, Speck does admit he had to struggle with that.

This is followed with sections for guys only and girls only. I found these a bit interesting, but I was curious. An unmarried guy wrote for the girls and an unmarried woman for the boys. I suppose that you could always look at different ways this could be done. Perhaps in a future edition there could be testimonials from married couples who waited.

While there is a section on God’s design for marriage, I would have liked to have seen something more at the end. I think too often we can give the negatives, but we definitely need to emphasize those positives. Yes. This is something great worth waiting for. This would be the benefit of testimonials of people who waited until marriage. There’s a saying that the devil will do anything he can to get you to have sex before you’re married, and afterward he will do anything he can to keep you from having sex.

Which brings me to one small criticism. As an Orthodox Preterist, I already think the devil is bound. This does not mean there are not demons running around still, but I think we give the devil far too much power. Speck does point to the devil being a cause of temptation many times. I am of the persuasion that often we don’t need the devil to be tempted, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. As the saying goes, “Lead me not into temptation. I will find it myself.”

Still, I think this would be a very helpful book for youth groups to go through together. Naturally, I think guys and girls would need to go through it separately. Having guys and girls together and talking about an issue like this in close quarters could have the opposite effect desired after all!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts On Erotica

Is Mommy porn a problem? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of mine messaged me this weekend telling me that I’d written about porn, which is a great struggle for men (And also more and more so for women), but couldn’t a lot of erotica be in the same boat? Could this be for many women what porn is for men? Isn’t that worthy of a post?

Request granted.

Granted also that I don’t read erotica. I have no desire to do so either. I consider it the same as saying that I don’t need to go and watch porn in order to do research on porn.

Let’s also be clear what I mean by erotica. I don’t mean just any romance novel. There are some Christian romance novels out there. I do not know how good they are, but they are out there. I definitely mean material that is much more explicit, such as, say, Fifty Shades of Grey.

I also don’t necessarily mean chick flicks either. I think I, like all guys who date, had to watch The Notebook, for example. (It’s a hidden rule I think all women have that guys they’re with have to watch it.) Yet at the same time, we all know which sex was going the most to see Magic Mike.

I also don’t mean the traditional love stories, although let’s be clear that there are some myths in them, and I don’t mean Cinderella having a pumpkin turn into a coach. I mean the idea that you will meet a man and because he’s a prince, he will sweep you off your feet and naturally, those words that are never really accurate, “Happily Ever After.” Cinderella may have married Prince Charming, but she would wake up one day and realized he had bad morning breath and that he left his dirty socks outside the laundry basket.

But that could get us to something that is the problem. Unrealistic expectations many times. If we talk about pornography, we can talk about girls that have their features altered so that they have vastly unrealistic proportions. Today, women often think they have to compete with that hot actress on the TV show. You know, the one that has undergone hours of make-up and such before she ever gets on the set.

Most of us men say you don’t. You’re gorgeous to us as you are.

The problem with erotica is that women are usually more turned on through words and touch than they are through sight. That doesn’t mean sight is irrelevant, but it doesn’t woo a woman the same way. For me, just give me the sight of my bride and that is more than enough. I just don’t understand why it is sometimes that doesn’t work the same way in reverse. (And hey, it can’t be me because obviously Allie married a total stud. Right? Why are you laughing?)

Women have dreams of romance, and there’s nothing wrong with that. When my sister was four, she was already planning her wedding out. When something like Sleeping Beauty is on, men relate to the knight fighting and slaying the dragon. Women relate most to being rescued by the knight. (But hey, we men aren’t going to complain about waking her up with a kiss either.)

And men, let’s sadly face it that too many of us stop this after we marry her. Now many men I know say their wives could not keep their hands off of them when they were dating and wanted to kiss so much, but when they married, that all changed. We change too. Many a man no longer works to impress their wives. It’s a common trope to hear about men forgetting anniversaries and birthdays.

Part of that is we men are conquerors and when we’ve already succeeded at one task, winning the bride, we move on to the next. How about we make the task be “Impressing the bride?” This doesn’t mean you go all out every day, but it does mean that you make an effort everyday to please.

But for women, well it’s too easy to be resistant to your husband and then go and read an erotica novel and then come back and expect your husband to behave exactly like the man does. It’s as unrealistic as a man expecting the woman he’s with to act like that porn star does. Your man is not scripted. He is not written out. He will not do things perfect.

Yes. Your man will do many many stupid things in romance with you. He might take you to a restaurant you don’t like or he might belch in the middle of an intimate moment. Prince Charming can have morning breath. He’s not going to be perfect.

But if you have too many false ideas built up just like he can with pornography, it’s going to be harder and harder for him to measure up and could get you looking elsewhere. The grass might be greener on the other side of the fence. A big problem when many people leave relationships is that they go to the next one thinking it will be better because that other person was such a problem. Many times this is done without them looking at themselves and improving themselves and the history just repeats.

Ladies. Here’s a little tip for you to interact with your man. If you want something, just say it. We men are totally oblivious with hints. My wife has told me there have been three times she’s been in a romantic mood and tried to tell me and I totally missed her hints. Three times! (Excuse me. I have to pause writing this to go and mourn.)

In all honesty, if you tell your man something that you really want, he will want to do it for you. If my wife is out somewhere and I’m with her and I see her mention something she’d like, I remember it. She and I both play Pokemon and once when she was out, she saw a Sylveon at a Wal-Mart that she really wanted. We didn’t have the money in the wallet so I said I couldn’t. I went home where I had Amazon credit and ordered all nine forms of Eevee including Sylveon on Amazon for her. They were much smaller in size, but she got all of them.

I really don’t think I’m alone.

Ladies. Your man is always wanting to know that he’s your man. He’s always wanting to measure up. Make him think he has to compete with erotica and it can be just like you think you have to compete with porn, and you shouldn’t. If your man is no longer trying really and doesn’t seem to care, that’s something else to work on and perhaps counseling would help, but please try to give your man the benefit of the doubt. He wants to please you.

Even if he doesn’t do perfect, remember him when he tries. Men take criticism from their wives very seriously. Every time it makes us think we’re failing and if we get the message enough, we just stop trying. I don’t even care for it if I’m taking a break and playing a video game and my wife likes to point out every time I make a mistake. That might seem minor to you, but that’s the way we men are. We want to be great at everything we do no matter how small.

Ladies. Be careful about the books that you’re picking up just like he should about the websites he’s visiting. Perhaps it might be better instead of reading a book about how you want to be romanced, for you to read a book about how to romance your husband. You can be sure he will greatly appreciate it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters