Deeper Waters Podcast 9/1/2018: Allie Peters

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

Life is a beautiful and sacred gift, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like that. We all have times where suffering enters into our lives. Christians aren’t immune. Unfortunately, even Christians can be tempted to make awful choices when that happens. Even Christians can be tempted to throw in the towel. Even Christians can actually attempt to give up, and sadly some will succeed.

Some will not. Some will live on to tell the tale. Life can still be a battle for them, but they will tell the tale about what happened. They can talk about the impact they saw on the people around them and how it affected them. They can talk about what they have learned.

September is suicide awareness month. It is a time of the year when we try to remember that this is a real problem and it’s still with us. Whenever a celebrity has successfully committed suicide, unfortunately, the suicide rates make a spike after that. Sin breeds sin after all.

My wife is one person who has been affected by this greatly seeing as she is herself a suicide survivor. This is after more than one attempt. Her parents have found her after an attempt and I have found her after an attempt. Both of us were left devastated by such events. Indeed, to this day, I cannot hear the siren of a first responder without thinking about it.

We’ll be talking about Allie’s life some as bullying definitely played an impact on her as she was growing up. We might look at this as “kids will be kids” but it is getting worse and social media isn’t helping. I personally place a lot of blame on the self-esteem movement as I am not convinced we can stop all bullying, but we can certainly equip kids to be better able to respond to bullying.

But how can a Christian ever feel this way or even do this? Doesn’t this contradict what we are told in Scripture? If we really think this, is it proper to talk to someone about their salvation status if they are really considering the choice of suicide?

What about other people out there listening? How should we respond if we think someone around us could be contemplating suicide? Are there any warning signs to look for? What do we do if we think that there is someone around us or even on social media who we think could be suicidal? How should we respond to such a claim?

I hope you’ll be listening. As is no doubt known, my wife is my favorite guest to have on the show and we will be here together to talk about this important topic. September is the month for suicide awareness and if you are considering this awful choice or know someone who is, I really hope you’ll listen and please don’t do this choice. All of life is sacred and that includes you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Suicide Never Ends Pain

Does the dark choice truly work? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Those who know me know that I am hardcore into Christian apologetics. Others also know that I am a hardcore gamer. I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. Growing up hasn’t changed that. My wife and I are both gamers and when we turn on YouTube on the TV here, we often like to watch a channel like Game Theory, where we look at video games from a very intellectual perspective examining theories.

Yet yesterday I came home from picking up some prescriptions for her to see her depressed. One of the theorists had killed himself. MatPat who is the main mind behind the channel has a very sad video up about what happened. There are also numerous references at the bottom for people wanting help.

It’s hard to think of people in history of whom people will say “Life is so much better since they killed themselves.” If you think of someone, it would have to be someone like Hitler or some other evil tyrant. Usually, the pain never really ends. It just goes on to everyone else. Years later, people still having gaping holes in their heart and try to think about what they could have done.

The thing is that when we do evil, evil seems to increase. Like a cancer, introduce some evil into a good system, and the evil just multiplies. The same is true of goodness. Share some goodness with those around you, and there will be more goodness spread.

This is a terribly evil choice. Those who do this are sadly caught in their own world and it can be hard to get out and no one’s denying that, but it’s at the same time saying that no one else is worth it or nothing else in all of creation is good enough. It is the ultimate insult to all that is and ultimately then, to God Himself.

Perhaps that’s why in Romans 1 not being thankful is one of the great wrongs listed. Could it be all that is really needed is to sit down and write out the things that someone is thankful for? To really sit and think about them? Each one of those is a great might not have been. None of those were required to exist. That belongs only to God.

Moving back to what Matt describes in the video, he talks about how this was around the birth of his first child. No doubt, that is to be a happy event, but will there always be a shadow hanging over it? Will there be a shadow every time a new video is made?

I don’t believe Matt ever told how his friend killed himself, which is another good thing. Saying how it is done often only leads to copycat crimes. Unfortunately, every case of someone doing it only makes it more likely for those listening to consider the same thing. As said, it multiplies.

What about those of us who aren’t like this? Watch yourself, especially around people who have that tendency. Little things you say could have serious repercussions. Pause to consider how that thought could affect the person. Try to show your love for them intensely. Sometimes all they need is to know that you love them. Never assume that they do know it. Always act as if they didn’t and seek to build that up.

Especially for those of us who are Christians, show Jesus to them. Let the love of Christ penetrate them. If they see people who they believe to be strong Christians living in a way that is not Christian, then what will they think of Christ? Seek to show Him best.

Please if you are considering this, reach out and get help.

If you are in need of help, please reach out: US: 1-800-784-2433, 1-800-273-8255, 1-866-4-U-TREVOR Canada: +1 416-408-4357, +1 514-723-4000 UK: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90, +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 International List: https://bit.ly/Ka8gdC

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Suicide And Self-Harm Questions Matter To Me

Why do I take seriously questions relating to self-harm and suicide? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night as I was getting ready to go to bed, I got a question sent to me for a ministry I help answer questions for. It was a question about suicide that also referenced self-harm. The person who passed the question on to me asked me if I was okay to handle it. It was hard, but yes. I was. I did.

Why is it so hard?

Let me tell you about the worst day of my life.

When I met Allie years ago, she had actually just recently before then had a suicide attempt over a guy who was a jerk to her. When I met her, she thought she could make it right with him. That changed quickly. Before too long, she didn’t care about making it right with him. She was interested in me.

So go back a few years ago. I know the date. I don’t want to tell you for my own reasons. I had just got done with a podcast. Allie and my Dad and I were going to go to the movies. I went to see her and was talking to her and she was being quiet. Something seemed strange. I told her I needed to go to the drugstore and she still seemed out of it. Then I heard her say three words that ripped my world apart.

“Nick. I overdosed.”

At that moment, everything comes crashing down. I called 911 instantly in a panic. Fortunately, there was a fire station about a mile away from where we lived. I was calling everyone. I called her parents. I called my parents. My parents lived next door and my mother ran down and jumped on the bed and begged Allie to keep her eyes open.

The firefighters and ambulance that arrived assured us she was going to be okay. They were taking her to the hospital. My Dad and I would follow in his car. Mine had recently been hit by someone and thus I didn’t have one. When my Dad said we would follow the ambulance, I had no idea how literal he meant that. We followed right behind them the whole time through intersections and red lights even.

Allie had multiple people waiting to see her in the waiting room as we had called so many people on the way. Sadly, most of them did not get to see her. I was restless the whole time wondering when I would get to see her. When the time came, I went back there. Of all the people who were allowed to be in the room, two at a time. I was the one who was there the whole time. Her mother also arrived from Atlanta and stayed with her.

I stayed that night with Allie all night long. I didn’t get any sleep. I had to sit in a chair and someone had to come in regularly and turn the lights on to do things like draw blood and other such things. I don’t remember exactly what was done, but I remember being there. The next day, my parents took me home so I could get some sleep for a little while.

I went back that evening and just stayed by her side. We knew sometime they were going to take her to the mental health wing of the hospital. It could have been that night. We didn’t know. When that happened, I couldn’t be with her. The time came that I needed to go. Allie wanted me to stay, but it wasn’t that easy. I had no car. If they took her to the mental health wing, then I would be there at the hospital all night alone with no food and no place to sleep. Not only that, Allie had done this because she felt like two friends of hers had abandoned her. If I go, will she feel abandoned?

It was a hard decision, but I went home. An hour or so later she called me. I was scared she was going to be angry with me. Instead, she said I was right. Within an hour they had taken her to the mental health wing. From there, for the most part, I couldn’t reach her. She could call me sometimes, but they were the rare times.

So I sat at home alone. Many of you know I love doing apologetics, but there was no interest. I would sit in the chair in the living room just watching TV. My mother took care of everything in the house. Also, this time, there was a lot of anger rising up inside of me.

I couldn’t imagine how Allie could do this to me. How could she be willing to leave me like this after all I had done for her? Did these friends matter more to her than me? Was she just telling me that I was no longer worth it? I’m not a good enough reason to go on living?

I remember well the next time I would see her. Allie was taking Dialectical Behavioral Therapy at the hospital. There was a long hall to get to where she was and at the end there was a set of doors with windows you could see through, a short tiny hallway, and another set of doors like that. Now keep in mind, I love Allie, but I was going to tell her how hurt I was and all manner of things. I had a lot of anger in me and I was preparing all I was going to say. It was ready.

Until I went through the first set of doors and saw her at the end of the long hallway after that. As soon as I saw her, immediately I had a mental wipe. I forgot everything I was going to say.

We walked back to the mental health wing. Allie had been allowed to go out for DBT, but soon she would have to go back. We sat on a little bench outside and did I don’t remember what. I’m sure it was talking, hugging, kissing, things of that sort. Once again, it was devastating to see her go back and know I couldn’t see her.

You have to understand that I have a deep devotion to my wife. If things are not the way I think they should be between us, it’s hard for me to function. It is a great disappointment in my life when I think that I do not please Allie. I am always striving to be her man.

A few days later, Allie was able to come home. When she was home, it was wonderful for the first month. Allie was wanting to take care of the house, she was wanting to lose the extra weight she has, she was sharing great notes on Facebook about the joys of knowing Jesus and wanting everyone to know Him, and she was open to my love and freely giving me hers. She walked with a confidence I hadn’t seen. It left me more and more inspired to make changes in my life and be a better man. Ladies. Learn this. If you have a man in your life, nothing will make that man come alive and face challenges like him knowing he brings you joy and you enjoy him.

Except one day, one of those friends she’d thought she’d lost. He had made up with her and then on Facebook he told her she was stupid and from that time on things came crashing down. It all vanished. I do not speak to that person to this day. Before we left Knoxville, I tried to make it right, but things failed miserably. I had to talk to several people to help me deal with the anger. No doubt, there’s still some of it there. Anytime I see someone hurt Allie like this, that anger comes back. I guard her with my life.

Allie also struggles with self-harm. The last time was not too long ago and it was after nearly nine months without. When I found out, I cried for two hours. When I called the crisis line, they were more convinced I was the one in crisis. I don’t care if you think I’m less of a man really for crying for my wife so much. It is an expression of how much she means to me. I had no idea how much any one person could mean to me until Allie came into my life. Today, aside from Jesus Christ, she is the #1 influence in my life.

It hurts me every time. I wonder what is going on that hurting herself brings more relief than letting herself be loved. It is incredibly painful. I am pleased to say Allie has avoided self-harm since then, but I know this is a struggle.

Because of all of this, these questions matter to me. Suicide is never anything to joke about. It’s never anything to be flippant about. It’s also never anything to be glorified and celebrated. We should not treat celebrities who commit suicide like they’re heroes. We can grieve for them and their families, and it doesn’t mean we speak of them like they’re devils, but let’s make sure we all know the action is wicked.

If Allie had succeeded, I know I had the thought going through my head that I was no longer worth it. I would have lived with that thought forever. Suicide leaves such a painful effect on those left behind. They do get to where they can function, but they are never the same.

If you are considering suicide or know someone who is, please reconsider. Get some help at the Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Call your local crisis line also. Whatever it is, it is a temporary problem.

Especially if you are a Christian, embrace the love of Christ at this time and realize that even if He seems silent, He is there. He has not abandoned you. You never truly walk alone.

Whoever you are, your life is worth living. You also never need to hurt yourself. Christ took on enough wounds for you. You don’t need to add any more to them. You matter as someone who is in the image of God.

Please don’t make this awful choice. You have more of an impact on those around you than you know and they will never be the same. Celebrate the people who love you today.

When I get a question now about this, I always take it seriously. It matters greatly. I’ve been there. I don’t want anyone else to have to be there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

No. Suicide is not a joke.

Is killing yourself something to laugh over? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently on a Facebook group I’m a part of, an atheist responded to a post a Christian made and at the end said, “Kill yourself. Now.” I’m not saying I agree with the point the Christian made. I could be diametrically opposed. Just because a Christian says something doesn’t mean that I agree. I definitely disagree with the behavior in response.

You see, just last night, a friend got in touch with me wanting us to pray for him and his wife. His stepdad had killed himself that morning. I am married to a woman who has tried three times. Do you know what suicide does to someone? Cyanide and Happiness can have some tasteless comics, but one they had was definitely right.

There are people who when they experience it spend the rest of their lives wondering about it. Could I have done something differently? How did I miss this? Why did they do it exactly? It leaves a wound that is never truly healed this side of eternity.

What makes it worse is this person who made this said that they knew about what suicide does because they once worked a suicide hotline. Well, congratulations! So did Ted Bundy. This actually makes it worse. This means taht you know the damage that suicide does and yet you make a remark about it like that. It’s almost like a police officer saying “Hey. Did you hear the one about the school shooting? It’s a real knee-slapper!”

Suicide hurts people, and too often now we are using this great evil and treating it lightly telling people we don’t even know to kill themselves. Something about internet chats is that you don’t know who is on the other end of the computer. Not only that, you don’t know who all else is watching. Who might go and take what you say seriously? Do they have a problem if they do that? Yes. Does it make it right for you to say it? No.

People die in tragedies and of natural causes and such, but suicide is different. No other kind of death really leaves behind a wound like suicide. If you are someone who makes this kind of joke, you are being morally reprehensible. You do not need to joke about this kind of thing. It is understandable that we joke about hard subjects and such, but telling someone to kill themselves is no laughing matter.

If you see someone doing this, please do not let it slide. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior. If you are wrestling with suicide, please understand that it is never the right option. It truly doesn’t end the pain. It just passes it on to everyone else. There is help available. Call a professional and get the help that you need. Also, be willing to reach out to the suicide hotline. You are loved by someone out there, especially God Himself.

Life is sacred. Never ever tell someone to end theirs.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Culture of Suicide

What impact do we have on the culture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife informed me yesterday that Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the band Linkin Park, committed suicide by hanging himself. It could be drugs and/or alcohol were involved. It is also true I understand that he was sexually abused as a boy growing up. He was also greatly affected by Chris Cornell of the band Soundgarden doing the same thing.

Brian Head Welch is a Christian and was at one time in the band Korn. I don’t know if he still is or not, but he was angry about it. He did consider Chester a friend, but he wanted to know what he thought he was doing to his wife and children, not to mention numerous fans all over the world. Let me say at this point that I do not write about this as a fan. If it hadn’t been for my wife, I wouldn’t have known about this at all.

Our culture spends a lot of time talking about suicide. My wife and I heard on the news just Monday that so far this year in our state of Georgia that there have been twenty suicides. Some of them are because of a stupid internet thing called the Blue Whale Game. There is also the hideous Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. This is the series that had numerous professionals warn the producers of what not to do but hey, the producers were sure they knew better anyway.

We also can all remember when Robin Williams died. Unfortunately, so many people shared the meme from Aladdin with “Genie. You’re free.” No doubt, they meant well, but it sent a horrible message. It presents suicide as a freedom. It’s a way to escape the pain. In a sense, it is, but at a great cost.

Cyanide and Happiness can sometimes have crude comics, but sometimes they’re incredibly accurate. There was one that definitely fit the bill. It is one that I often think of when it comes to suicide.

Chesterton said years ago that when a thief steals diamonds, he is no doubt doing something wrong, but he at least honors the diamonds in a sense by saying they are worth stealing. An adulterer is doing wrong with illicit sex, but at least he thinks the sex is worth having. The suicide is the one that says nothing is worth having. Nothing is worth living for. It’s essentially giving the finger to all that is in existence. It is saying there is nothing out there good enough to make up for the pain in one’s own life.

And could that be part of the problem? Suicide is getting trapped inside yourself majorly. It is a sort of idolization of self. It is putting your well-being in a supreme position. You are thinking about yourself. You will try to tell yourself that people will be better off, but they aren’t. How many of us can find cases where people did this and everyone was better off as a result? How many times have you heard someone say “My life has been so much better since my dad killed himself,” or something like that?

This is what we do with every sin in fact. “I know I shouldn’t cheat on my wife with this woman, but it’s not like she’s being responsive to me and I haven’t had sex in so long.” “I know I shouldn’t do this deal at work, but my family really needs the money and we’re struggling so bad.” It is always possible to find an excuse for a sin. In fact, we always think there is some good reason to do the wrong that we do, and no doubt there is, but that does not mean the wrong is the right thing to do. It never is.

Now someone like Chester has left a message for all his fans. Those who don’t know better will think that this is something acceptable to do. His wife will be wondering how she was inadequate in her love. His children will be wondering why Daddy wasn’t worth being around. Chester’s action was done and ended quickly. The results are going to last for a long long time into the future. It could be centuries. After all, how he did will affect his children which will affect their possible future parenting which will affect those children, etc.

I also don’t speak about this as someone detached. A little over two years ago my wife made the attempt. I normally keep the medicines locked up due to her tendencies, but I didn’t have my keys with me one day while doing the podcast and she used them to get into the safe. Don’t think I never second guess myself about everything with that day. I do. I easily call it the worst day of my life. There is no contest. Nothing else comes close.

We do indeed need to have sympathy, but we need to be firm that this is unacceptable behavior and certainly never glamorize suicide. Naturally, we need more and more people to be focusing on Jesus in their lives and really learning what a difference He makes. Too many of us Christians don’t really think about that. Jesus has become so familiar to us that He has become “a tame lion.” The therapeutic Jesus is not really therapeutic. He really can’t do much about our sin problem.

We especially need to do this for the youngest among us. These are sadly often the most impressionable. Believe it or not youth leaders, it will take more than pizza parties and laser tag to do this. You won’t get teenagers to embrace Christ just by fun things. I’m not opposed to fun, but the purpose of being a Christian is not to have a good time in itself. It’s to be like Jesus and spread the Kingdom of God.

Pray for the family of those left behind and reach out to those in your life. Some may be struggling with suicide and you don’t even know it. Take the time to appreciate them. Celebrate them. Send a message to someone and let them know you’re thinking of them. Tell someone that you’re grateful for the good they’ve done in your life. Love your spouse and your children. Do good to one another.

There’s no time like the present to be living.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

 

 

13 Reasons Why

How should we handle the issue of suicide? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A lot of people today are talking about the series 13 Reasons Why. If you haven’t heard of it, it involves a girl named Hannah who commits suicide and before she does, she makes thirteen tapes for the thirteen people she holds responsible and sends copies to them. You hear the story of one guy, the guy who loved her and really even she says he didn’t deserve a tape, and how he tries to piece together what happened. I watched it some with Allie and thought it was doing her good to see the impact suicide had, but I did not see the last episode where apparently you actually see Hannah kill herself.

That really had a major negative effect on my wife which made her remember and relive all her past experiences of it since she has tried it at least three times before. I understand a lot of psychiatrists and counselors told the producers not to show something like that, but they didn’t listen. I also understand that this scene is being played by some bullying types to torment those who are wrestling with this.

Thinking about this makes me relive the worst day of my life without a doubt. It was around two years ago and I had just got done doing a show. Allie and my Dad and I were going to go see a movie that evening. I remember talking to Allie who was lying facedown on the bed and telling her that I would go to the CVS and get some stuff we needed then come back and then before too long, I heard her say she overdosed.

Apparently, while I was doing my show, she had got the keys to the safe with her medication and took all of her sleeping medications. Why? She felt like she had lost two really good friends. One of them we made things right with very quickly. The other one had a consistent record of hurting her and I honestly struggled a lot dealing with this one. I tried to make things right before we left for Atlanta, but it wasn’t to be. I had to talk to a lot of wiser people than I to deal with my personal feelings on the matter.

On that day though, I called 911 immediately. The fire department wasn’t too far from where we lived and they came down quickly. My parents next door found out and my mother ran down and jumped on the bed begging Allie to stay awake. Note my mother was 65 at the time so that’s quite a feat. I called Allie’s parents and anyone else I could. When the ambulance was taking Allie away to the hospital, I was with my Dad. My car had recently been hit in an accident and was totaled so I had no vehicle. My Dad drove and when I say we followed the ambulance, I mean it. We ran through intersections and changed lines and everything else. I had never seen my Dad drive like that and Allie tells me the paramedics were just watching in amazement. I was calling everyone I could on the way.

At the hospital, Allie had the largest group of people waiting to see her. Most of them didn’t get to. When we were told we could go see her, I was one of the first ones to go. I never left. I stayed there the whole time. Her mother came down before too long and we were all together.

Allie spent that evening in the hospital. She had a nurse staying with her the whole night. I, too, stayed with her as well. As you can expect, I did not get much if any sleep. A hospital chair is not comfortable and it’s especially hard when another nurse has to come in regularly and turn on the lights to get blood.

The next day at one point, my parents took me home so I could get a little bit of sleep. When I had a few hours, it was right back to the hospital. We knew Allie was going to go to the mental health area and we were expecting it to be that evening. If she came and I had not left, I would be stuck there all night with no place to sleep and since I didn’t have a car, there was nothing I could do.

Allie had begged me to not leave her. I knew it was best to go home, but I didn’t want to and I was worried Allie, who has abandonment issues, would think I had abandoned her again. I did go home and later on that evening, she called. She apologized and said I made the right call. She was going to the mental health ward.

Home alone the next few days, I answered the phone whenever she called. Other than that, I don’t think I wanted to do much. I get so despondent at those times I don’t even want to do apologetics. Doing my blog seems like a necessary evil. You see, the first time even I had to take Allie to a crisis stabilization unit to deal with suicidal thinking, I dropped her off and on the way home I cried my eyes out. After about 13 or 14 miles of crying, I was finally able to pull myself together enough to call a friend for help. Whenever Allie was in that unit, visiting hours were from 6-8 PM and the place was about 25 miles or so away from my house, but I didn’t care. I was down there every day and before 6 and I never left until 8.

Seriously. Unless you understand the devotion I have to my wife, you will not understand the pain that all of this put me through.

To get back to the story, while at home, I honestly was this time feeling angry. I was the one feeling abandoned. How could Allie think about leaving me like this? How could she choose to die because of two other people like that? Was I not good enough? Was I not worth life itself?

There came a time where Allie would get to have some group therapy in the hospital and I could get to see her for a little bit. I remember walking to where I would see her. It was a long hallway that ended in wide double doors and that led to another long hallway. I had been thinking about how I was going to tell her how upset and hurt and angry I was and it was all building up.

And then I saw her in the hallway.

I forgot everything I wanted to say. It didn’t matter then. I saw her and I loved her and I do love her. I walked with her back to the mental health ward and we just sat outside together until it was time. There were plenty of hugs and kisses and such.

Allie was released and for awhile, she did have a zeal for life. I call it the Paradise month. She had a great love for God then and everything was going fine, until this other friend that I wrote about earlier called her an idiot one day on Facebook. It all went downhill then.

Allie has had her ups and downs since then, but watching 13 Reasons Why was another down. One reason I guard my wife so carefully is because I know how sensitive she is to what people say. I know some people can say something and not realize how she will take it, but I will. I strive to be as loving and caring as I can be for her. Yes. This show hits too close to home for me and since it had that effect on her, I cannot support it.

But this isn’t meant to just have me tell you my story. This is meant to open up a serious discussion about a serious matter. Suicide is always a serious matter. It should never be taken lightly. If someone tells you they are suicidal, don’t treat them as if they’re joking or wanting attention or anything. Treat it seriously.

The church is sadly very good at shooting its own wounded. Let’s start with depression. Depression no doubt has a chemical component to it. Even if you don’t have a diagnosis of depression, everyone at some time will struggle with some depression in their lives. When I meet Christians who are always talking about how every day is full of joy and they’re so happy, I don’t believe it. Our Lord was described in Isaiah 53 as a man of sorrows familiar with suffering. There is nothing wrong with admitting life can be awful sometimes. Go read the Psalms and see how much the Psalmist wanted things to change.

My wife has also struggled with self-harm in the form of cutting. When she has told some Christians about this before, they have told her she is a goat. A real Christian would not struggle with depression. A real Christian would not even think about suicide.

My reply is a real Christian would also show love to someone who was suffering and not throw another burden on them.

We always talk about loving the sinner and hating the sin. Let’s be clear as we can about suicide. It is wrong. It is never an option. Still, we all know that we struggle with things that we know are wrong. A man watches that porn video even though he knows it’s wrong. You go and you overeat on those cookies even though you know it’s wrong. You live haphazardly with your money even though you know it’s wrong. Everyone has some sin or sins that they struggle with. The struggle is real.

Can you imagine someone struggling with a sin coming to Jesus and asking for help and Him being hard on them? If you cannot, then remember that you as a Christian are to represent Christ on Earth. If you meet your fellow Christian hurting and in pain with such an issue as this, why would you give them something more to be depressed about?

“Well, if they think they could go to Hell if they commit suicide, why would they do it?” Yeah. You’d be surprised. You see, you’re not exactly thinking rationally then. At that point, your emotions have taken control of the wheel. Some could think even Hell would be better than this. All you can see at that point is the pain itself.

Picture a phobia if you have it. For me, it’s honestly water. It took me a long time to wash my face in the shower and I can easily panic in a swimming pool today. When I am there, all my rationality goes out the window. Get me away from the edge and I start screaming in panic. I’m not exaggerating on this. Is it rational? No. Is it real? Very much so.

None of us follow rationality no matter how much we say we honor it. Blaise Pascal said years ago that you can take the most astute man of reason and put him on a platform of sufficient width and length so that he has enough room to walk without fear and suspend that over a chasm with him on top of it. His emotion will very quickly overcome his reason.

What’s the church to do? How about showing love to the person? One thing Job’s friends did right when they saw him was to do nothing in a sense. They just sat with him and were beside him. It’s when they started giving “advice” that they were screwing it all up. I’m not saying don’t give advice, but make sure any advice is not condemnation.

Despite what you think, many people in the church struggle with depression. Do a web search and you will find many well-known pastors who have struggled with it. One interesting figure who has in the apologetics community is J.P. Moreland. By the way, don’t get on Christians for using medication to help deal with depression issues. I fully support therapy and think it has the best effects when followed, but there is nothing wrong with medication if one needs it.

Whatever the person is depressed about, treat it seriously. You might think it’s nothing, but you know what? Your nothing is something enough to them that it’s ruining their life. To go back to phobias, you might think stepping away from the edge of a pool in three feet of water is nothing. For me, it is terrifying and the stuff of nightmares. This isn’t about what it’s like for you. It’s about what it’s like for them.

I find it incredibly saddening that the church really does so little for mental health issues. In fact, many of us don’t. We can think of many charities that are out there for all number of diseases like cancer and heart disease, and we should have those! There is very little for mental health and it affects so many people. Mental health is an elephant in the room. Could it be we can talk about physical health much easier because many times you can’t help if you get a disease, but with mental health, we’re quick to blame the victim?

My wife also struggles with hallucinations many times. It’s been more than once that I’ve been woken up in the night because Allie is convinced she has seen something there, and there has been nothing there. Keep in mind that even though there was nothing real, the hallucination itself is very real. She really is having it. In those times, I remain calm. I don’t get after her. What good would it do? The last time I remember, it was probably about 2 in the morning. I never yelled or got frustrated. In fact, I held her and comforted her for about an hour or so. I did not consider it a burden. It was an honor. Why would a guy be upset about getting to show love to his wife in her hour of need?

The church can too often make people struggling with these things feel like outsiders. I honestly think it would be good for the church to sometimes have a depressing service. Our songs are always so happy. Our services are all about how to live a good life. We all come to church and put on our “church faces” and we talk in the most spiritual language that we can, all the while many people are masking the pain they feel and putting on a mask only makes them feel that pain all the more along with the pain of loneliness.

Maybe we need a service where we sing songs about crying out in pain wondering if God is really hearing us. Maybe we need a service where we talk about the realities of a painful life and talk about feeling as if God is a thousand miles away. Maybe we need a service where we can just come together and share not just our praises, but share our sorrows and talk about how horrible life seems to us at times.

In all of this, suicide is never the answer. The comic strip Cyanide and Happiness, can sometimes be crude. Sometimes, it hits home. One such time that I do not forget about is when I read this one:

This is indeed accurate. The pain is just brought to other people. It doesn’t go away. People years down the road will still be wondering what they could have done differently. Don’t think it will stop. It won’t.

We also need to remember why we should live. We often look to the exceptional moments. The exceptional moments aren’t what makes life the most worth living. It’s the day to day moments. My wife just came in here and picked up our cat to hold him. Those are the kinds of little blessings. What suicide is in essence saying is that none of those little blessings is worth it. The world is not good enough. Of course, the person in pain will think that they are not worth it and they are making the world a better place by leaving it.

They are not.

There is someone out there who cares about you immensely. My wife has me and her family and several good friends. For each of you, there is someone out there who cares about you. I also say without hesitation that God cares for you as well.

I would also encourage you to get into some good spiritual formation. For me when I struggled with depression, it was apologetics. It showed me how real what I believe is and I started taking it a lot more seriously. I used to say the depression I went through was the best thing that could have happened to me, because it led me to apologetics. I was wrong. It led me to apologetics, and apologetics led me to Allie, and Allie brings me a whole lot more joy than apologetics does.

If you are feeling suicidal, please get help. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Please find someone you can talk to. Contact your doctor or a mental health professional. Reach out to someone and find the help you need.

If someone reaches out to you, please be Jesus to them. Don’t condemn them or put another burden on them. Perhaps just listen and maybe give a hug at the end or something like that. If you’re a Christian, pray with them. Be willing to be there for anyone in need. Be willing to have your phone by you at all times if they need someone to talk to. You could be the one who saves a life.

And church, please be better. That so many in the church struggle with this, should be a testimony against us. We are not walking like Jesus walked. We do not have a place where Christians feel safe to be in pain. There should be no shame in admitting you’re struggling with something. Everyone should feel welcome and safe. If someone wants to share praises, we let them, but do the same if someone shares pain.

If you see something on Facebook that is a suicidal threat, please report it. Don’t take it lightly. Even on my days of AOL chats, I would report suicidal threats to administrators who I understand could track down the help needed and get the person to a hospital.

I cannot support the show, but I understand the mission. I want you all to understand it as well. Please start taking matters seriously around you for those in need. Let your person always be a safe place for those who are hurting.

And Allie, if you read this I want you to know I love you and I always will. I am so thankful you are in my life. Losing you would be the most devastating thing that I can think of that would happen to me. The worst day of my life was that day when I came the closest to losing you. I have always strived to not treat you like any other man and I intend to keep that pledge. I love you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Can A Christian Have Depression?

Is it possible to be among the blessed and be among the depressed? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This topic seems to come up time and time again. It came home for us again when my wife wrote a blog post about what it’s like to have depression. When this was shared on her Facebook page, one of her friends responded. It was well-meaning I’m sure, but came across entirely wrong. There was a bunch of stuff posted about Word of Faith thinking and how God doesn’t want us to be sick but wants us to be healed and never taking medicine even for a headache or anything like that.

Now I have enough problems with Word of Faith nonsense. There is no shame in taking medication any more than there is in having a balanced diet, exercising regularly, taking a shower daily, or wearing your seat belt when you drive. None of these activities show a lack of faith. God is not meant to be your servant. You are meant to be His. Word of Faith thinking often treats God as a means to an end. The point of Christianity in it is not to be holy and reflect God, but to be healthy. (Perhaps there could be a parallel to how too often we think the point of Christianity is to go to Heaven when you die and God is only there as a means to get you there and Heaven seems to have little to do with Him.)

A lot of you realize Word of Faith thinking is horrid, but you can still wonder about depression. Isn’t a Christian supposed to have a life of joy? Isn’t a Christian supposed to be happy all the time? The answer to the first question is definitely yes. The answer to the second question is definitely no.

Allie’s friend told her that her thinking will really change the way she is. Now if this was all a lot of popular televangelists were saying, there wouldn’t be as much of a problem. There is a lot of truth to the idea that your thinking can change your attitude. What they get wrong is thinking that your thinking can alter all of reality. There is no doubt that you need to look to your own thinking and see what you can do about it. Are you telling yourself things that are true or just feel true?

This is one case where you seek good and outside help. These are also going to be beyond people who are yes men. These are people who will tell you hard truths if you need to hear it. I don’t mean random strangers on the internet. I mean people you know and trust. If you ask them a question, they will give you an answer and it might not be the answer you want to hear. Even if you disagree with their answer, you should always consider that their might be a grain of truth to it.

To get back to depression, Christians are supposed to have joy, but that does not mean a feeling. You cannot command anyone to feel anything really. If I could, I’d just make myself feel happy all the time. It doesn’t work. I found it interesting that the person who wrote to my wife pointed to Isaiah 53 where it says that He healed us by his wounds. They seemed to ignore the part above where it says He is a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. Yes. Jesus had sorrow in this life.

In fact, there are times where you ought to have sorrow. You are to mourn with those who mourn and that means being sad with them. If you have a loved one who has died, it is not proper to be having a celebration then. You need time to grieve. If you are married and your spouse is suffering, you will be suffering. If your child is suffering, you will likewise be suffering.

There are going to be times in life that are hard and rough. This happens. The last thing that any one needs in that time time is to have someone coming alongside them causing them further pain by questioning their faith commitment. It would be like pouring salt on an open wound.

Of course, the person who is depressed should do something about this. I am not one who condemns medication for this, but I think it can only do so much. Anyone taking medication should go see a therapist who is a licensed professional one. If you are not a therapist, by all means offer counsel to your friend, but don’t pretend to be a professional. If you don’t know what to say, sometimes, listening can be a great service. Just holding a hand and giving a hug can help. (And guys, if this is your wife, as hard as it is, now is not the time to get romantic. It might help you if you’re depressed, but it probably won’t help her)

It’s also important that a person in this case be reading to and listening to good Christian material that will encourage and build them up. Note I said good material. It doesn’t mean feel-good, but material that will build them up in truth and help them think properly through what they are going through. Even if your natural bent is to be more pessimistic, it doesn’t mean you have to live depressed. It will take time, but it can be done.

So what kind of joy is a Christian to have? It’s not a feeling, but more striving towards an attitude. This is the attitude that remembers that God is in charge of this world and all things pass through His hand. God is not against us, but for us. Romans 8 is a great passage for this. In fact, I think there’s a real danger in saying that Paul describes the experience in Romans 7 as the normal Christian experience. Romans 8 is more meant to describe our experience and Romans 7 what we would have been delivered from.

What about happiness? We often think of the feeling of happiness and the goal of the Christian life is in part to feel happy and feel good about ourselves. Sometimes, we should feel bad about ourselves honestly. We should see that we struggle with sin and seek to get rid of it and let that be an agonizing struggle. We should see that we do not love our neighbor as ourselves. One of the first ways of getting to feeling better about ourselves can ironically be to feel miserable first off.

When I was a single man, pride was a real struggle. It still is, but Allie by her very nature helps keep me in check. When I struggled with it then, I used to do an activity where I would go in my room and climb on the bed and close the door and think to myself. I would think about all that I’d done, all the praise I’d received, all the people that I had met, all the books I had collected, etc. I would be building myself up.

Then I would conclude by thanking God for everything came from His hand and I deserved none of it. That last bit always gave me the extra humility that I needed. No matter how good I thought I was doing in life, it was all a gift from God. It was not because I was just so awesome or anything like that.

If you’re not happy then, it could be for a just reason sometimes. It could be because you do realize where you are falling short. However, it is important to follow it up with the opposition to that. If I just went in my room and listed all the positives about just me, I would walk out feeling more prideful. No. I had to give the other side. So if you are depressed, you need to give the other side.

The other side is you are forgiven by the grace of God of all that you have done. The other side is that God is at work in you in the Holy Spirit. The other side God is working all things for your good as Romans 8 says. The other side is the future can be different than today and today is just one more day.

I would be amiss if in any of this, I did not say anything about suicide. All threats of suicide must be treated seriously. Never assume that they are joking or that they won’t follow through. They might not, but they may, and it’s best to error on the side of caution. A person might have to be hospitalized for a time, but a short-term separation is better than a long-term one. If you see this on Facebook now, Facebook has a way where you can report such material. Please do report this material.

Meanwhile, we should not treat suicide as the unforgivable sin. It is certainly a sin, but Scripture does not say yea or nay as to if it is unforgivable. This can put an extra burden on those whose lives have been wracked by suicide, and yes they are indeed. Suicide doesn’t remove the pain really. It just passes it on to those who are still alive. Cyanide and Happiness actually had a comic strip on this that really hits home.

cyanideandhappinesssuicide

If you are depressed and it’s something that isn’t just a brief spell, please go to a doctor or professional counselor and get help. If you need to take medication for it, please do. There’s no shame in it. If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out right now and get help. There are ways to find that life is worth living again.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Please Don’t Say These At The Funeral

Are there some things you just shouldn’t say at a funeral? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve only done one funeral and that was my grandmother’s. I’ve attended a number of them and sadly, one of the worst parts is hearing the awful messages that preachers give because they just don’t have good theology to them. There are many preachers who haven’t studied the issues involved and say some messages they shouldn’t. Some of these aren’t really harmful to the audience. Others really can be. I’d like to look at a number of them and I’m going to save the worst one that I’ve ever heard for last.

At one funeral, I remember hearing the preacher talk about the deceased and saying “Right now, she is experiencing the power of the resurrection!”

Um. No.

You see, this might be a shock, but when you go to the funeral service, barring some catastrophe, usually the person’s body is right there. You get to see the body. Resurrection means something. It means that the person is again in their body after life after death and is walking around. For our purposes in Christianity, it means they are back in a body that will never die and they will live forever. Resurrection does not mean going to Heaven when you die. Of course, if you want to say when someone dies, they go to be in the presence of Jesus, I have no problem, but let us not say that they are experiencing the resurrection. They are not. The resurrection of Jesus is not about Him leaving a body in a tomb and being taken in spirit to be with the Father. It is about the body that went down coming back up in a new and glorified state. For Christians, that won’t happen until the end.

“God needed another angel.”

Frankly, this one is cruel. Really. It is. You want to go to a little child who has just lost their mother and say “We know you’re hurting, but God needed another angel in Heaven.” Not only is it the problem that angels are not dead humans, but what kind of God are you presenting? A God who has to kill the mothers of children so He can have angels for His purposes? Many children believe it or not do not have a sophisticated theology. You are already presenting them with a God who will take the mother that they long for and cherish just because He needs another angel in Heaven. If you have ever said this to someone, shame on you for saying it.

“He’s walking on streets of gold.”

This one I didn’t hear at a funeral per se, but it was said by a preacher in a sermon where he talked about a friend who died and how right now, he’s walking on streets of gold. It was one of those points where my wife Allie had to reach over and gently touch my leg as if to say “Please calm down.” She knows I get really agitated when I hear bad theology like this. Why is this bad? Because this is more of a gnostic view than anything else. We have this view that the body is a sort of prison to be escaped and then we die and we’re walking in Heaven. No. We’re not. We have no body to walk in and if you want to see those streets of gold, they’re talked about in the last two chapters of Revelation when Heaven is described. Where is Heaven? Take a look. It’s not the case of “I’ll Fly Away” from this world and leave it behind because “This World Is Not My Home. I’m Just Passing Through.” Heaven is coming down to Earth. The Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of God. God takes over finally. We have the marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Christians must be people who view the body as important. We do not dare say there is a sort of spiritual body that is walking on the streets of gold. We have to emphasize that we are incomplete without our physical bodies.

“Paul’s hope was we would see our loved ones again in Heaven.”

I remember being at a sermon and the pastor was really flubbing it in my thinking. Sadly, he spent more time talking about himself than he did about the deceased, but then he said we have the same hope that Paul described in 1 Thess. 4. Okay. I was starting to get hopeful here. I know what 1 Thess. 4 is about. It’s about the resurrection. So will the pastor get it right? Will he say we have the hope of the resurrection?

Nope. Instead, it was that we would see our loved ones in Heaven.

*Groan*

Just going to Heaven is incomplete. If anything, it means that death does have a victory. Death has a victory because our bodies are still subject to it. For Paul, the resurrection means everything. It means that death has been truly conquered and cannot hold us down just like it could not hold Jesus down. Either death has the last word over our bodies, or God has the last word over death. We will see our loved ones again one day, yes, and that is something we are meant to comfort one another with, but that reunion takes place after the resurrection. That was the great hope.

Unfortunately, even just yesterday I saw an internet atheist trying to argue that Paul’s great change he made to Christianity was he promised people Heaven. Paul’s message was the resurrection, and he was right in line with what the rest of the early church was saying. Even in our evangelism, we act like the goal is to get people to go to Heaven. The goal is to get people to become righteous in Christ and be disciples.

“Their Last Act Was An Act Of Love.”

I must place this one in the proper context. My parents told me about hearing this one at a funeral that they attended where it was said that the last act of the deceased was an act of love. What was it? A police officer taking a bullet for a fellow officer? A soldier throwing himself onto a grenade so his buddies would be safe? A firefighter rushing into a building to save a child? Nope.

The deceased had committed suicide.

Suicide is many things, but it is not loving and it should never be seen as loving. Instead, there were children and nieces and nephews and others there who were told that day that a person committing suicide was an act of love. I understand the preacher got a lot of flack for his statement. He should have. Funerals are meant to comfort those who are left behind and to honor the deceased. This kind of statement does neither.

Let’s remember when we have our services that we are Christians. We believe in a bodily resurrection. We believe that God is conquering evil. We believe that the world will bow the knee to Christ at one point in time. None of this should be downplayed. That we do not realize this and celebrate this enough is a fault of our churches not teaching good theology and not discipling.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Dealing With A Street Preacher

Could there be a better way to spread the Gospel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Saturday Allie and I were driving around and happened to pass by some street preachers on the side of the road waving their Bibles and holding the signs telling people to repent. These kinds of guys I think have really good intentions. I don’t doubt they want to serve the Kingdom. What I think is that in the long run, they turn more people away from Christianity than they turn people to Christianity. I told Allie sometimes I’m tempted to stop and put on an atheist hat and see what happens.

And she suggested that I should just do it. How well could a street preacher do at defending the faith?

So we stopped and ended up talking to one of them. We’ll call him Jim, though that wasn’t his real name. Jim seemed to be a nice enough guy. I just went up first and asked him “Why should anyone believe what you’re saying?”

It really is a reasonable enough question. If you’re going to say that you think something is true, it would make sense that you would have some reason for believing that that something is true. In fact, this is why I think everyone needs some basic apologetics. If you want to talk about the change that Jesus made in your life, which is usually the most common apologetic, that’s fine, but it’s far better if you can build that on an argument beyond the subjective.

Jim didn’t have much. He did talk about some tablets found that talked about an OT king that existed and we had no record of that until we found these tablets. I do not remember the name of the tablets, but unfortunately, he could not tell me the name of the king. I suspect it was king David.

He also said he had astronomical data to show the truth. I asked what that was. He replied that the moon follows the sun every day in its circuit. The moon is to be a symbol of the church and the church is always following the Son.

Oh dear readers. Please never ever ever use an argument like this.

To begin with, this kind of thinking relies on astrotheology and you’ll find someone like Acharya S. who will happily use that kind of argument to show Jesus never existed and the whole thing is based on astrological symbolism. This would also fit in since the guy pointed to a Gospel in the Stars approach where the constellations are meant to tell us about the truth of Christianity.

Second, it relies on the English language entirely. In the Greek, the words for sun and son are not that close. This would assume then that God wanted to make this revelation known yet only to people who spoke English. (Which fits well since the guy was, shock, a KJV-onlyist.)

He then tried to ask Allie and if we feel any lack in our lives or anything missing. We just said “No. We live pretty good and happy lives.” This is again another problem with this kind of methodology. If your opponent does not admit that they are feeling the thing that you want them to feel, at that point you are sunk.

As we went on, we started talking about the problem of the Biblical manuscripts. To his credit, he did get right that the Bible was an oral culture. From there, it went downhill. I used the Ehrman line about copies of copies of copies. Jim’s response was to point to the Textus Receptus and how this is the one manuscript that has been proven to be right and scholars have found that the other manuscripts are wrong. (And in fact, he blamed it all on satan.)

This was quite problematic for him. When I asked him when the Textus Receptus dated from, he didn’t know. When I asked him what scholars proved the TR was the most reliable manuscript, he didn’t know. When I asked what scholars had proven the other manuscripts wrong, he didn’t know. So I was to trust a document from an unknown time to be proven by unknown scholars and other unknown scholars had proven the other manuscripts wrong.

Does that sound convincing to you? It shouldn’t.

As we went on, we kept explaining that with each claim, Muslims and Mormons give similar. He pointed out that Christianity is a religion that relies on grace instead of works. That is true I think of course, but that does not mean Christianity is true. It just means it’s a system someone can like a lot more. We have no independent grounds I know of to say “The true religion will be one of grace.” It’d be nice, but we need to establish that somehow.

Eventually, we did tell him that we are Christians and that what we do is to prepare Christians for when real opposition shows up. Allie gave a bit of her personal testimony saying that she was a suicide survivor, twice. He asked if she was a Christian both times and she said yes and he said “Do you really think someone with the Holy Spirit would try to kill themselves?”

I really wish I’d had the presence of mind then to realize what had been said and let the guy have it for insulting my Allie like that right in front of me. I’ve taken my own personal vow to do better next time, but if you meet someone who has had suicidal inclinations before and acted on it, the last thing you want to tell them is that they should question if they are really Christians at all. This is not an act of love. People who are like this need to be treated gently. (I can proudly say that Allie has bounced back incredibly from this latest attempt, which was in fact this month. It is like having a whole new person around the house and our relationship has never been stronger)

He also viewed the claim that I’m a Christian with great suspicion because he said he didn’t see any fruit in me. Now he added that he couldn’t really judge, but the Spirit in him did not see the spirit in me. It’s a way of saying “I’m going to judge you, but I’m going to blame it on God instead of on me.” The judging is still going on and it’s amazing this guy could see something after so brief a conversation as we had.

I am sure there are out there some street preachers who can do a good job. There are some who know what they believe and why and they can show it in a Christlike manner, but I’m also convinced that the majority do not do this. They turn off more than they get to come to Christ. Zeal without knowledge is something dangerous to have. Would that we could have more of the zeal of street preachers and the knowledge and love to go with it to show the reality of Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Tragedy of Suicide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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