The Awareness of God

Is God really there? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve written some lately on the silence of God. Now when we talk about this, we must keep God in the argument as He is. As soon as we change the nature of God, well we could be talking about something problematic, but it’s no longer a problem for Christianity because Christianity does hold to a deity with the omni-attributes. Yet if we believe in a deity with the omni-attributes, I think it behooves us to stop and really think about what we believe. You see, I think we can often have awareness of an idea, but it really hasn’t sunk in that that idea is true. If it could sink in, it would change us. I have long said that if we could just get a momentary glimpse for a second of how much God really loves us, our lives would never be the same.

When we think about the silence of God, we often focus on how we feel. If we feel like God is silent, well that means He’s silent. If we feel like God has abandoned us, well that means that God has abandoned us. It’s a sad state of affairs because we know that feelings can often prove to be very deceptive. Many of us were sure we had found “the one” at one point in our lives before reality set in. I was sure I had found “the one” many times before my Allie came along. To be fair, logic can be misused by us at times, but the difference is the facts that logic deals with are accessible to everyone. Feelings are not. Feelings tell more about you than they do about the situation you’re dealing with.

In reality, our feelings do play on our thoughts and change them. This is patently obvious. Just go with the sensation of falling in love and it’s really incredible how much your thinking process changes. When some people tell me about how they can relate to something I’m going through with Allie because they have girlfriends, I often tell them it’s close, but marriage really changes things. If people tell me then they think they know what it’s like, I tell them that they really don’t. You just can’t picture it. I thought I could and I was frankly quite wrong. This is one of those areas you learn best by experience.

The reverse is also true. Our thoughts can change our feelings. Imagine if you found out today that you had won ten million dollars in the lottery. Think your feelings would change? Better believe it. What would happen if you were a husband and was having a horrible day at work and opened up your lunchbox to find a note from your wife that said something like “Hey honey. I just want you to know that I am going to be thinking about you all day long. I’ve made it a point so much that I even sent the kids over to stay with your parents for the night. Oh. Did I mention I got a new outfit recently? I want you to see me in it soon, and see me out of it as well.”

I guarantee you, such a man’s mood would immediately be lifted.

What changed? In both cases, it wasn’t the situation per se. Many things could still be absolutely horrible. What changed was that you got new information about something better and grander. What could really be more grand than God? (Yeah guys. Bear with me. God is indeed grander than my second example on the list.) That’s part of the problem. We have a passe attitude towards God. We often have an intellectual awareness of Him, but we haven’t allowed that reality to sink in. This is one reason we struggle with sin so much. We honestly look and say that it is no big deal. Somewhere we have to think that when we realize that ultimately sin is a great wrong against God. We still do it anyway. In fact, we all know that we all do stupid things every day. There is some truth to the saying that you always hurt the one you love.

You see, if we realize that Christianity is true, we should realize there is unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy for us. We should realize that even if we don’t “feel” God, we can realize that He is there. He has promised us that He is. We cannot escape from His Holy Spirit. His Spirit fills all of creation and fills each part with the entirety of His being in fact. As I type this out in my office, the Spirit of God is all around me and as you read this, He is all around you as well. Now if you want to ask why you do not have the joy that you should, it could just be you have not really realized that.

This is why your theological knowledge is so important and can carry you through so many times when those feelings are lacking or are in fact antagonistic. This is something dreadfully lacking in our churches. We no longer teach good theology. We want our people to enjoy the presence of God, but we tell them nothing about who God is. It’s quite odd that we tell people that they need to get to know the person they marry as that is the person they’ll spend the rest of their lives with and be sleeping with regularly, but when it comes to knowing who God is, we don’t do that. In fact, we prefer rush evangelism. We have children often make a decision when they are extremely young and give them no basis for that decision.

I would in fact prefer that in our churches, we set up a discipleship course and have it be that before someone comes to Christ fully, that they go through the course and learn what it is they are saying they are ready to believe and why they believe it. Am I saying they must all be sophisticated theologians and apologists? Not at all. What I am saying is that some theology and some apologetics is unavoidable. You are going to do theology whether you like it or not. You are either just going to have a good theology or a rotten one. You are going to do apologetics somehow. You will just give a good reason or a bad reason. If we did this simple step, we could avoid a lot of heartache later on with apostasy.

If we don’t really know who God is, it could be we’re coming more to Him for the experience. In fact, we’re not really interested in experiencing Him. We’re interested in experiencing a feeling that He gives us supposedly. If your experience of God does not result in a changed life and worship, you should ask if you are really experiencing God or just experiencing an emotional high. Ladies. This should really hit home for you. If you’re married, there is no doubt your husband enjoys the feeling of sex, but how many of you are going to be really romantic if you think that he’s coming to you for just the feeling of sex you give him, but he’s not really interested in you? If you don’t really like that idea, then why on Earth would it be realistic to think that God can be treated the same way?

God is a Trinity. Okay. Got it. So what? Is this just a nice little doctrine you believe in and then you release it when you need to beat up Jehovah’s Witnesses? Oh yes. You will argue tooth and nail for the doctrine, but do you really know why? What difference does it make if God is triune or not? Really stop and think about that one for awhile. If you think for awhile and come away with the answer of “I really don’t know what difference it makes” then it’s time to really study the Trinity. We could go down the line. What does it mean to say God is love? How about holy? Omnipotent? Omnipresent? Omniscient? Merciful? Gracious?

If you don’t know, are these worth knowing about?

If God isn’t worth knowing more about, what is?

And what about the historical Jesus? Do you really think about Him? How do you know He lived? How do you know the NT is a reliable record of what He did? How do you know He’s deity? What difference does it make? The same for the claim that He rose again and the claim that He is the Messiah. One great danger with Jesus we make is that we are so adamant to defend His deity, and we absolutely must, that we lose sight of Jesus the man. It is indeed a heresy to deny that Jesus was fully deity. It is also a heresy to deny that He was fully human and let’s make sure we don’t go that way.

The more we know about God, the better our lives will be. They won’t be perfect as long as we live in a fallen world of course, but they will be far better. In a marriage, the more you and your spouse come to know each other, the better off you’ll be. In parenting, the more you come to know your child, the better of a parent you can be. How could it not be good to know your God better? How could that not improve your worship? How could it not make you a better evangelist for your faith?

And the more you learn about that, the more the silence of God really will not be a problem, because your feelings won’t be guiding your life with God. You will still have times where you don’t understand and your feelings can lead you astray, but those are the exceptions and not the norm. In fact, in our interpersonal relationships, we have to do this. There are times the people around you hurt you or do things you don’t understand. Sometimes, people are jerks and you have to accept that. If you know otherwise of the person, you have to really think about what you know. “Yes. I know this person did that, but here’s what I really know about this person.” It could be this person was a jerk this time and just slipped up, but that is not who they are consistently. (And if it is, you really should reconsider your relationship with that person.)

When I came across apologetics, I was in a dark spot in my own life, and that was changed by seeing it’s all true. I think back to what a really good friend emailed me once in a time of doubt he was going through. I remember seeing an email from him one day with the subject of “Jesus of Nazareth.” I was really nervous to open it up knowing the doubt he was wrestling with. Instead, I read the line of “He really did walk out of that grave didn’t he?”

I had to smile.

Yes.

Yes he did.

And that changes everything.

The knowledge of God can really make a difference. Learn about God and it will change everything. Can it help to learn about you and your personal psychology? Absolutely. It helps most to learn about God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Isn’t God Interacting With Me?

Is our presentation of God really honoring Him as He is, or lowering Him down to our level? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently in interacting with a non-Christian who doesn’t think there is a god out there, I got told that one problem he had with the claims of God is that there is no interaction taking place. That was part of something much larger, but the word interaction is one that I noticed immediately. As regular readers of my blog know, I have before spoken on my problems with the description of Christianity as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Now of course, I do not dispute that God is a person and the same for the rest of the Trinity, but I do dispute that the presentation we give today to an unbelieving world is what the Bible has in mind at all and if we give a false view and promise things that God never promised, then we do a dishonor to God.

Now of course, God can lower Himself as it were. This happened in the Incarnation when the second person of the Trinity took on a human nature. Yet even in that, we have in John that Jesus says it is better that He goes away or else the Holy Spirit will not come. This should strike us immediately. While there was a time we had Jesus walking on Earth as deity incarnate, He said it was better to have the Holy Spirit come. Is it the Holy Spirit who is to dwell us and to bring us to God and work on our sanctification if we are obedient to the process. Yet despite all this, could we be lowering God in another way?

You see, unbelievers are surely right when they do not see God interacting with people on that personal level. Of course, I think He can. I think God does do miracles today. I think He can speak to believers today. The difference is that I think these are the exceptions and not the rule. Too many people think that God speaking to them is a common occurrence. Interestingly, they don’t consider all the ramifications of God speaking to them, such as that if they get anything wrong that they claim would come from God, they should automatically be seen as false prophets, which in the OT would lead to stoning.

A lot of Christians will also say Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship. The language is foreign to the NT and for all intents and purposes, Christianity is a religion. We believe in a deity. We have rules of practice. We have a holy book. While religion can be a difficult term to define, I see no reason to not include Christianity in the circle. Someone could say “Well we don’t include religions like Islam or Judaism because they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” If that is your case, then all you have done is just simply beg the question.

The great danger is that when we do make claims about God as if He is someone who is expected to interact with us every day, we do not view Him as a king then but more as a friend. Of course, the King can be a friend, but He is still the King and we dare not remove Him from that position in our viewpoint. Our king does not owe us anything. We owe Him everything. This is how this ties in with the silence of God. Too often we go through these situations and can be angry with God when He seems silent because surely He owes us a response. I have found consistently after going through that no, it was good for God to not speak the way I wanted Him to. In fact, if He did, I think a number of things would happen. They would more likely for me and they could for you.

The first is that I would grow dependent on the experiences. Once that happens, you keep needing another fix over and over. You need something more and more. Now in some relationships, this is good and normal. A husband and wife do not just have sex on their honeymoon and say “Well now that we have that done, let’s get on with our marriage.” No. This becomes a unifying activity in the marriage that magically bonds the husband and wife. I really do hesitate to use the word magic there, but I say it because the more I think about this union, the more I see a mystery and beauty to it that it practically does seem like magic. This is a need especially for the men in the relationship who need to be united to their wives.

But what would happen if the man was more interested in the sex than in His wife? Ah. Now we have a problem. It is not so much that his wife is the means to knowing sex as sex is the means to knowing his wife. If he relies on the experience minus truly knowing her, then he has a problem. The man should be seeking to grow in the knowledge of his wife regularly. When I was engaged to my wife, I was studying philosophy at the time and when we were out with her parents at a lunch, I said I planned to get two Ph.D.’s. My father-in-law thought that was rather ambitious so I told him what they were. I wanted to get one in philosophy and I wanted to get one in Allie. I am to seek to be a student of knowing my wife more and more every day and learning how she works.

So it is with God that too often we come to God wanting the experience, but very rarely do we really build up in our knowledge of God. Knowledge isn’t everything, but it sure is something. Most of us know a good deal about the person already that we come to on our wedding night. If we do not, such as in a system of an arranged marriage, we make it a point that we are to know that person more and more and the best way of knowing is one that will not depend on the exceptions. It is easy to know God and to trust in Him when all is well in your life. Can you walk with Him when it is difficult and He seems distant? If you can learn to do this, you can walk with Him anywhere, and I am quite sure that those being persecuted for Christ all over the world with their lives on the line are not sitting back demanding an experience.

Another great danger that would come is pride. I am sure if God really started speaking to me, I could well develop pride. After all, what a special person I must be if God is the one who is speaking to me. Could it be that many times, God doesn’t do this because He doesn’t want to feed our egos? We should all take this into consideration because the moment you say you do not have an ego, you could have well displayed one.

So how do we know God? Well there a few ways. The first is through creation. However, most of us will not know enough philosophy and/or science to do this well and even if we do, we will come with many errors. Without the aid of any revelation, Aristotle came the closest and who among us will say we have an intellect to compare to Aristotle. (I understand Carrier has said that. Fortunately, many of us are not that egotistical.) We can read great minds like Aquinas, but we must remember that this knowledge of God while good, is not the main way we know God. I am also including moral philosophy in this as I think the study of morality tells us about God.

The next way we understand God is by the Bible. The Bible reveals who God is and what He is like and how He has brought about His plan throughout history. I do not think we should speak of the Bible as a love letter from God, but we should see it as a message of love from Him. The message is not written to us but for us. That is a distinction we must make. We too often think that everything in the Bible should be personalized. Not at all! We must see what it meant to the ancient audience first and then we are to go and apply it to our own lives. Too many passages have been ripped from their context in an attempt to personalize the Bible.

Finally, we know God through Jesus and to my fellow apologists, I cannot stress this enough. It is tempting to look at the Summa Theologica or a work like that as your baseline for who God is, but the best way is to know God through Jesus. Jesus reveals the Father to us like no one else and we know what He did through the Bible, but the Bible is in this case the means to knowing the even greater means of Jesus. When we look at Jesus, we are to see God in Him and how He interacts is how God would in the same way. Of course, Jesus did this on a human level, but this is a promise of what is coming in the future when God rules on Earth as He does in Heaven. This is still future for us.

Let us not come with this idea that God is supposed to be the way we want Him to be. Let us see Him as He is. When we present the idea of a personal relationship and God speaking to us as a commonplace regular event then we are saying God is doing something normally that He never promised to be normally. God is under no obligation to speak to us and He has not given any indication in Scripture that the kind of activity many believers present is to be seen as commonplace. While we often think God is silent, it could be that it is just who are listening for the wrong message instead of hearing what has already been said.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Should You Be Still And Know That He Is God?

What does it mean to “Be still and know that I am God”? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re looking at the question of the silence of God. I’d like to look at this point at a passage that is often used to speak to people who are experiencing that silence. That is the one that tells them to be still and know that He is God. It is found in Psalm 46:10.

Yet before we get to that verse, I’d like to do something unusual. Let’s look at the verses before and the one after. (Yeah. I know. Checking the context. What a thought.)

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

This is not listed as a Psalm of David. The language believe it or not is not the language of natural disasters. It’s the language of war. Often times in the Bible, political events were described using language of cosmic phenomena. Now you might think that doesn’t really make much sense. If you do, then please explain to me why it is we can talk about storms in politics, events that are earth-shattering, and other such terminology. We do use similar terminology today, though unfortunately we are not as poetic as the ancients were. Peter Kreeft has said that prose is fallen poetry and poetry is fallen music. Music is for him the original language. If we remember the Psalms were sung, there could be some valuable truth there. The language should be rich and pull us in with a word picture.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The Psalmist here points to Jerusalem, seen as the holy city of God. Jerusalem is the place that is supposed to be where Heaven and Earth meet, and this especially in the temple. Jerusalem is the city of God and as long as it has that status, it will not fall. All the armies of the world can come against Her, but if they are in a covenant with God, God will protect them. They can have walls of course like any other ancient city would have, but their true fortress is God Himself. They do not rely solely on weapons of warfare, but they resolve on their covenant with YHWH.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

The Psalmist reminds the audience that God has indeed acted in the past. He has destroyed the enemies of Israel. If He can bring a cessation to the wars in the rest of the world, why can He not protect His holy city? It is a reminder to the people that they need to be faithful to YHWH. YHWH has acted in the past and He can and will act again if we maintain our trust in Him and rely on what He said. Now we get to the key verse.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

Okay. So what is going on here?

This verse has nothing to do with meditation and thinking to yourself “God is God.” That does not mean that that’s wrong to do. It just means that this verse is not about that.

This verse is not about God not speaking to you when you are in the midst of a trial. That is dealt with in other passages, but this verse has nothing whatsoever to say about it.

This verse is not about your own personal assurance for any trial that you are facing, though you could have personal assurance still and it could start by realizing who God is.

This is a verse telling the people to cease from their labor and activity in the situation and rely wholeheartedly on God. It is reminding them, as the rest of it shows, that God is in covenant with Jerusalem and because of that, He will protect His city so that His name will be exalted.

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The final verse concludes it. This is why you are to be still. God is your fortress and God is with you. Now could you find some personal application today? Sure. But we must before we apply the passage to ourselves today find out what it meant to the people back then. If it did not mean that then, we should be cautious about misapplying it today. One great danger is that we often individualize passages that were meant for a community.

On a personal level, is it good to know about the nature of God? Absolutely. Do you need to remember that nature in a time of crisis? Sure. Could personal meditation on the nature of God be helpful? Definitely. Note you can have some great truths and the wrong passage to illustrate those truths.

This one is not about what many people think it is. Just because you like the message you get does not mean that you are hearing the message properly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Should I Feel My Faith?

If we do not feel the presence of God, does that mean that He really isn’t there? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Often times when it comes to the silence of God, one thing that we ask is why don’t we feel our faith? Why does it seem that the love of God is just absent from us? These are questions worth answering, but one of the most important lessons we can learn is to question our questions. Perhaps we are starting off on the wrong foot? Do we not with the question imply that if there is no feeling of our faith, then there is something wrong with our faith? What if instead this is a way of thinking that really isn’t what the Bible is talking about?

Now as I say this there is of course a caveat. I tend to be a very logically oriented person. Feeling what I believe is not common. In fact, I’d say it’s the exception. I happen to be married to a quite emotion centered person who does go strongly by feelings. In this case, we help to balance each other out as my being logic-oriented rubs off on her and her being emotion-oriented does rub off of me. We’ve both experience blessings from this kind of relationship, although it can also be difficult at times seeing as we have to learn how to think in whole new ways and how to respond.

What we have to learn is that things aren’t always what we feel they are just as much as they aren’t always what we think they are. Our culture has become very feeling-oriented. We have done this so much that we treat the words “think” and “feel” like they are synonyms. They are not. This is something I always stress. If someone presents to me a piece of information and says “What do you feel about that?” I could say “Happy” or “sad” or “confused.” Then I generally follow it up with “I think you mean to ask what I ‘think’ about that.” (There was a time some Jehovah’s Witnesses were visiting me and after awhile they started to catch themselves because I always caught them when they said this.)

This can often be the case with the wife who says to her husband “You don’t love me any more!” Why? Because she’s not feeling love. Now it could of course be that the husband has ceased to love his wife, but it is not a necessity at this point. Her feelings alone cannot tell her this. This does not mean her feelings don’t matter. They can tell her something about herself and they should be something that she discusses with her husband, but they are not the determiners of truth.

In fact, we can know a truth when our feelings are the exact opposite. For instance, just last month, I had come down with the flu again. My wife decided to place me in a temporary quarantine in the bedroom while she slept on the couch to prevent the spread. Unfortunately, this led to my having to ask her for practically everything and I do not handle the pain of being sick well at all. Allie has indeed said that she felt like introducing me to a pillow many many times, yet still she was someone waiting on me and making sure I was cared for because even though her main feelings were feelings of annoyance, the reality was she still loved her husband. (And still loves him today!)

In our modern culture, we have raised feelings up to a level of being a truth detector. I am thinking right now of visiting friends yesterday and the wife told me about an atheist co-worker who came to her and said something like “You know about Angelina Jolie? Imagine a man who says he’s married to her. He says he has a wonderful relationship with her. He says that she brings him such joy and happiness whenever he thinks about her. Unfortunately, Angelina Jolie has no idea who this man is. She’s instead married to Brad Pitt, despite how wonderful this man feels thinking he’s married to her. What do you think we can learn from this story?”

I was thinking we can learn that atheists are very good at making up straw man arguments that show they don’t understand what real Christian thinkers are saying a bit.

Sadly, this would have a powerful effect on many Christians who think the only reason they can know Jesus is alive is that they feel Him in their hearts. One can also think about our tendency to rely on our personal testimonies. When we do this, we’re more often doing an evangelism technique that might have worked in the world 50 years ago, but it just is not as effective now and we can’t turn back the clock just by wanting to turn it back. While Christianity does not change, the world has indeed changed. We don’t have to accept the new belief system of the world, and we shouldn’t, but we should accept the way the world is as frankly the reality and try to change it.

In this case, the person who is feeling-oriented needs to learn from the one who is logic-oriented. (Yes. There are times this is reversed, but we’re talking about this one time now.) What matters first is “What is the truth of the matter?” If you want to know if your husband loves you, for instance, you don’t look to your feelings. You talk to him and see what his friends and family say and you look at his actions. Then you make the best judgment that you can based on the available data. So what do you do if you want to know if God is there and if God loves you?

As a Christian, or at least someone who wants to be a Christian if you’re in doubt, you look to the knowledge of God. For one thing, you can look simply at metaphysical and philosophical arguments that show that God has all the omni-attributes that we apply to Him. Now there is a sense that unless you’re someone who loves this kind of argumentation, it will leave you a bit cold. If you do look at it and enjoy it, you can realize many truths. One that comes to mind is that you know that God is omnipresent and therefore, you realize He is always there. As I type this I know the presence of God is all around me. That does not leave me with intense joy and that could be something I need to work on in myself.

You can also learn that God is all-good. When you realize this, you know that everything He does is right. This can be a source of comfort, but it could also be a source of distress. After all, that implies that God allowing this event to happen to you is something that is good in some sense. It is not saying the event itself is good, but God sees a good that can come from it. C.S. Lewis would compare it to being in the chair of a dentist. Most of us do not consider that a pleasant experience, but we know that it is a necessary evil.

Many of us will instead go to the Bible, and if we do go there, and we should, we will find many passages relating to this and we’ll look at some in future posts. We will find that the Psalms especially are a gold mine of information as we can find most any emotion that we want in there and any situation. The Psalmist himself often felt abandoned by God. Psalm 88 is quite likely the saddest Psalm in the whole book. Psalms 42 and 43 together are an excellent resource to go when we long for God and it feels like God is distant.

Also from the Bible, we learn about Jesus and this is something many of us who are very metaphysically inclined have to learn. The best revelation we have of God does not come from reading Aristotle, but rather it comes from learning about Jesus. Jesus is the one who best reveals God to us. We can ask ourselves about the historical Jesus. Do we truly think that if we were seeking God, that the historical Jesus would abandon us? Would He leave us alone? Is He the kind of person that we can trust? This is one reason that I agree with Michael Bird and N.T. Wright that study of the historical Jesus should be essential for discipleship.

And what do we do when we have done all of this and we still feel empty or maybe even the contrary feeling?

We act.

Again, going back to my flu story, I know I would have been in a lot of trouble if Allie acted on our feelings. Most of us would be terrible spouses, friends, and parents, if we acted on our feelings consistently. Let’s not even consider how we would be when we’re driving if we acted consistently on our feelings. If for one day everyone just acted in accordance with their feelings without paying attention to what they were thinking, this world would have a nightmare day. A good fiction writer could probably write a fascinating horror story about such an event happening.

When we act, it could be that our feelings will follow. This can often happen, but it is no necessity. If they follow, great. If not, then we have done the right thing any way. Remember, there is never a justification to not do the right thing and it will not work in any court to say “I didn’t feel like it.”

We’ll continue along these lines in a future post.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Walls That Divide

Is your protection seriously killing you? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we are going through the silence of God, we need to ask if it’s really God being silent or us just not really allowing any message of His love to come through. One way we can all do this by building up walls. This is especially so after people who we trust hurt us. For some people, the natural tendency is to hide away. Since we have been hurt, then we have to protect ourselves and that is the time that protective walls come up. It makes sense to us at the time, but on the other end, it can also keep us from being receptive to any love whatsoever, because that love seems like a threat.

Imagine a walled city. In the time of the Bible, this would be common. Today, a walled city wouldn’t make much sense due to airplanes being able to fly over and techniques of that sort. No city would want to put up with having to have walls for defense that speedy motorists would have to go in and out of on a regular basis. Yet in the past, this made sense. There would be gates in the walls as well because walls don’t mean everyone in wants to always stay in and that everyone out wants to always stay out. The walls are lowered when the time of trade comes upon you.

Unfortunately, we often think in extremes and when we put those walls up, we seriously put them up because no one is going to get into this city. NO ONE! It is when we do that that we suddenly wonder why we don’t feel any of the love in our lives that we should feel. The reason is that we do not really want to. We are being restrictive and insisting that the rest of the world, including God, show up on our terms.

Please understand that when I say this, I am not saying that all walls are a problem. Some people you should not be exposed to. You do not go and wear your heart on your sleeve to everyone. What you do is learn discernment. This is something that takes time, and even with people you trust, you do not tell everything. Sometimes you might not tell not because of lack of trust, but because such a person has no reason to know. Someone might be your best friend for instance who you could trust irrevocably, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to hear all the details of what goes on in your bedroom with your spouse for instance. (And I’m quite certain in many cases, they just don’t want to know.)

My recommendation?

Find those people who have a proven track record of loving you. If you have a hard time with God right now, start with your spouse if you have one. They should be the first one you turn to. Next, go to family, and the closer the family member is such as mother or father or brother or sister, the better. Then go with really close friends who have stood by you and seen you at your best and worst and never given any indication of doing wrong to you. You could also at this point seek out a skilled and able therapist who can help you with your issues. If the case is severe in fact, a counselor could be imperative.

If you need to also, check with a psychiatrist and a physician. I know a lot of Christians are hesitant to use medication to help with moods like depression and other conditions, but these are real chemical imbalances and I see no difference between taking a drug for a mental imbalance and taking a drug for a physical imbalance in the system. Of course, such medication should only be taken with the help of a trained professional and only on his prescription.

And if you’re hesitant to God, try to always be open and when you’re ready for that first step, take it little by little. God is always there and He is always waiting. From then on, learn the proper discernment. Not just who you are to lower the walls to, but when you are to lower them as well. This takes time and this takes work, but this is something we all have to learn.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Heaven Silent?

Is it really true that the Heavens are silent? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote on how God is good and sometimes that’s terrible. Part of that is at the times when the Heavens seem silent. I’d like to start really looking at that topic in-depth as it affects a lot of people greatly. One aspect I wish to stress is that too much of our church has bought into a sort of concept of Christianese. I think one of the worst things we do is put on our spiritual hats and act like we have all the answers and that everything is always good in Jesus.

Let’s be blunt people. Sometimes life is a nightmare.

For some strange reason, we act like this is a surprise.

Too many Christians have given this impression that everything in their life is just wonderful. They act like prayer is just always so simple to do and they’re always so pious when they talk about how they do it. Let’s not forget Bible study. This is certainly a major one. After all, when these people open up the Word of God, they get something new out of it every day. I’ll go ahead and state it. There are many times I read the Bible and get absolutely nothing out. There are many times that prayer is a drudgery and a duty more than it is a joy. There are many times it is a pain to be a Christian.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I do not think I am alone in this thinking.

And you know one of the worst parts? It’s that you cry out to God and you beg and plead for that help. Is He not to draw near to the broken-hearted? Is He not to care for His sheep? Is He not the loving Father who is looking for His own? This is what we expect.

And nothing seems to be said back.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

What is going on?

I mean, doesn’t God know the situation?

Doesn’t He care about the situation?

Doesn’t He know that this is the time He’s supposed to show up and do something?

Nothing is coming.

What is wrong?

In any situation we have with another person, my first recommendation is that we always check ourselves. We check ourselves thoroughly. We ask if we have done anything that has cut us off from support. You see, if God is love, we must realize that sometimes we push ourselves away from love. If we are blocking ourselves, we will not be able to receive the love that is already coming from God. All of us must constantly watch to make sure we are open to receiving love. If we are not, then it could be that we have built ourselves a wall so strong God will not get through it. That’s quite a wall, but it happens.

What are other possibilities?

Another one is that too often, we expect God to speak in a grand way. Many of us are familiar with the still small voice of Elijah. I am not talking about God speaking to our hearts. The passage is not about that. I am talking about the way God does work in our lives. Many times, it is through ordinary means. The signs of the covenant were quite often very ordinary. A rainbow was the sign of the covenant with Noah. When it comes to the new covenant, Jesus used ordinary bread and wine. Many times, God uses just ordinary people. I do not mean that they are prophets in the sense that God directly sends or gives a direct message. I mean that the love of Jesus is shown in the love of His people.

Fear can keep us away from God too. If we are fearful of other people, we can be fearful of God as well. Many times we can say we want God to love us, but it can also be scared to have that love. It is scary because that love changes us and it often requires we do things that are very painful. It could be required that we love and forgive our enemies, which is something that is extremely difficult to do.

Of course, there is also sin. We must really examine ourselves and ask if we have done anything seriously wrong for our sins can often cut us off. Have we truly made God our #1? Have we made Him our focus? Have we unknowingly sought after other gods? This is part of self-examination. Are we living the lives that we ought? Are we truly giving thanks and praising? A broken and contrite heart does not mean that we regret what has happened and want to be with God again. It means that we regret the sin greatly. We view the sin as our greatest enemy and we seek to do everything we can to eliminate it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Then finally, there is the point that this can be normal. It could just be that God is allowing something to happen to us because He is shaping us to be the people we need to be for the future that awaits us. We are quite presumptuous when we think that we always know better. We do not. Part of faithfulness is realizing that you do not know better. You are often speaking from ignorance. Nay. You are always speaking from ignorance. You do not know the future.

As we continue, I’d like to look at more concerns about the silence of God and how to deal with it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters