The Importance Of Gratitude

Does it make a difference if you’re appreciative? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my pastor preached a sermon on faithfulness and thankfulness from Colossians. The pastor isn’t one of those guys who gives these lightweight sermons that’s all pure application. Nope. It all comes out of a deep theology and I greatly respect that.

My wife also struggles with depression due to Borderline Personality Disorder and when we meet with people to talk about this topic, one of the things that most often comes up is the importance of gratitude. Try to go to bed with gratitude at the end of every day. If anything, just give thanks that the day is finally over.

Thankfulness is extremely important. In Romans 1, we are even told that one of the reasons that the wrath of God comes on man is that they did not acknowledge God nor give thanks to Him. The danger with thankfulness not being present is it makes us take things for granted. That includes even the greatest blessings of our lives.

Last night as I was going to sleep, I started thinking about this whole idea again. I have plenty of friends I know who are single and it is not because they want to be. I understand the pain very well. Until Allie came into my life, I had the same situation. You go to bed every night and you want someone to be next to you. As a guy, part of that is naturally wanting to be able to have sex, but also just being able to share your life with a woman you love and who loves you.

If I cease to give thanks for her and the life we share together, am I not on the path of taking her for granted? I treat her as if she’s just obviously there, but she isn’t. God doesn’t owe me another minute with her. Should I not celebrate what I do have?

Of course, every marriage will have problems and struggles in it. That’s just going to happen when you have two sinful people living together and sharing their lives intimately, but all of those are worth it to get to spend the time with the love of my life. If I take her for granted, I will also be prone to mistreat her and let the relationship deteriorate.

Also, next month, my wife and I will be celebrating nine years together. This is something incredible to me. Allie has been in my life for about a quarter of it. For her, I have been in her life for about a third of it. (I am nearly ten years older than she is.) How can I not give thanks?

Sometimes skeptics raise the question about why God takes lives in the Old Testament. I always start this by asking the same question. What does God owe us? If we could say He owes us anything, it’s justice. Here we receive mercy, which is something we don’t deserve, and we complain about it instead.

Many of you know that my wife and I don’t have a lot of money now. Donations don’t come easy when you’re not officially a 501c3 on your own and even then, it’s still hard. It doesn’t mean I don’t give thanks. Everyday is an adventure in its own way. We have had super generous friends who have donated so much to us and we are extremely thankful.

Two cases come to mind. At men’s group at our church last year, we talked about coveting and I expressed how Allie had really wanted a Nintendo Switch but her folks said it was too expensive. I said it was hard when I knew my wife really wanted something and couldn’t provide it.

A couple of weeks later someone from the group spoke to my wife about that conversation. He ended up buying us a Switch.

My wife and I also like the Pokemon games. I made a post about a month ago about how I would be saving up Amazon credit so I could get them both of us. A friend told us not to worry. When they came out, he would buy them for us.

These are two blessings that come to mind. People don’t have to be generous, but they are, and I have told Allie that if we ever get to the point of prosperity on our own, I plan to be generous. One of the greatest kindnesses you can do is go to your neighbor and help give them something they need or want. I can easily say I have not forgotten these blessings and they give me hope whenever I think about them that our situation can change.

And you know what? When I find myself giving thanks like this, I find my mood does improve. I really do appreciate things and see so much more what blessings I have in my life. It leaves me in greater appreciation to the God who gives so much to me.

Strange thing, isn’t it? Paul is right. Giving thanks to God is extremely important. Perhaps we could all be improved by giving thanks.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: For Thou Art With Me

What do I think of Bruce Baker’s book published by Grace Acres? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Death is never an easy topic to talk about. For many of us, it can seem far away. If you’re someone with a terminal illness, you have a better awareness than many that you are living on borrowed time.

That’s the situation of Pastor Bruce Baker. He has ALS and he knows that he only has so long to live. Yet being a pastor, one has to wonder how he approaches a sensitive topic like this. What are you thinking? Do you want to die and be with Christ? At the same time, is it possible to feel cheated, as if you’ve lived your life for God all these years and then he strikes you with a death sentence through a horrible disease?

Baker’s book is largely a pastoral book. It’s written for those who have a terminal illness and those who love them. It’s not written from an apologetics perspective, though I understand he could write one like that as he told me in correspondence he used to teach such a class. If you’re wanting a justification for God in the face of suffering, you need to look somewhere else. If you’re wanting to know how to walk with God in the suffering, you’ve come to the right place.

At the same time, some issues relating to an apologetic approach are discussed, such as what about assisted suicide. Baker has sympathies with the position insofar as he can understand why someone with a terminal illness would choose that route, but in the end, he makes the case against it. Overall, I find it a persuasive case against any kind of suicide ultimately.

Naturally, being a pastor talking about death, he has a section on the gospel as a whole and what it means. If you aren’t right with God, Baker wants to make sure that you are. He also wants you to see what it means to your Christian faith when you think about not just dying but how you will die.

He has a section on what the Bible says happens when you die. If there was one area of disagreement I had, it would have been here, and yet it’s a minor point. Baker sees the story of the rich man and Lazarus as a historical account since a name is given to the poor man. I think it’s more Jesus saying the rich man is unnamed because he’s not worth talking about and the poor man is worth talking about and he is given a name indicating that the Lord helps him. The story isn’t meant to tell us about what the afterdeath is like, but rather it’s meant to tell us about how God doesn’t view the rich with favor or the poor with shame.

The book is also short, which I’m sure is helpful for those who do have a short time. You could go and read chapter by chapter if you want or just jump to a chapter you think is relevant. There are also sections at the end of the chapters with questions for you to think about.

Ultimately, this is a good book to have if you’re thinking about that time and reading as someone outside of that perspective, I am sure if I had a terminal illness this would be something I’d think about a lot more. I sincerely hope that it does help those in need. We need some more writing in this kind of area for those undergoing suffering.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/22/2019

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

Death.

Now there’s a great way to begin a blog post that I’m sure leaves you feeling great.

But in reality, we all know that death is coming. We may not like to think about it, but that doesn’t change that it is coming. We often try to distract ourselves from it by filling our lives with amusements to keep us going onward. We want to act like things will go on forever and won’t ever change.

We act that way, but then something happens suddenly. Sometimes it can come out of nowhere. Last year, I got in a major car accident when a car T-boned us on my wife’s side. We both walked away from that accident, but it definitely left an impression on me on how I could have lost her.

I could have. A car accident could happen today for all I know. A shooting could take place at a public place. I have no idea what is going to happen today. Isn’t it a bit presumptuous for me to live like life will go on normally? That doesn’t mean I live in fear, but it does mean I don’t take my life around me for granted.

It especially means that if you have a terminal illness. If that is the case, then you know definitely that you are living on borrowed time. So what do you do? How do you handle it? Also, where is God in this time?

My guest this Saturday wrote a book on this topic for those who are terminally ill and their loved ones. He has ALS and is a pastor who knows what Scripture says about this topic. His book is called For Thou Art With Me and his name is Bruce Baker.

So who is he?

Bruce Baker is the former pastor of Washington County Bible Church in Brenham TX. Due to the health problems he faces, he resigned from that position Easter Sunday, 2019.

Bruce served in the Navy for over 11 years as an Electronics Technician (rising to the level of Chief Petty Officer) before leaving the service to work as a TV engineer at a Christian television station. It was during this time he felt the call of God to enter the ministry full-time. He enrolled at Calvary Bible College graduating with a BS in Christian Ministries; he then continued on to Calvary Theological Seminary, where he graduated with a Master’s of Divinity degree (Pastoral Studies) with highest honors. He earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Baptist Bible Seminary, Clark’s Summit, PA. 

Before Bruce came to Texas, he was the Senior Pastor of Jenison Bible Church, Hudsonville, MI. Prior to that he was Senior Pastor of Open Door Bible Church in Belton, MO, and Adjunct Professor of Bible and Theology at Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary. It was during his tenure in Missouri that his passion for teaching Bible and Theology to pastors who had no access to any formal education was kindled. To date he has taught in eight different countries on four separate continents. 

He is a contributing author to the book “Progressive Dispensationalism” as well as the author of numerous journal and magazine articles. “Spiritual Maturity” is his first full-length book. “For Thou Art With Me” is his second book, written primarily to share with others the peace he has experienced after his own terminal illness diagnosis. He was diagnosed with ALS in November, 2017. He is currently working on a third book concerning the attributes of God.

Dr. Baker and his wife, Bonnie, have been married over 37 years and have three grown children and ten grandchildren.

Pastor Baker and I will be talking about what it’s like living with a terminal illness and how Christianity offers help in this time. We will also be talking about those left behind. I hope you’ll be listening this Saturday to this important topic and please go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Council of Nicea and the New Testament

What are the myths about the Council of Nicea? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A few weeks ago in a Facebook debate, a Catholic actually brought forward this canard that keeps going around the internet. I think it might have started with Thomas Paine and like many myths, it just refuses to die. This is the idea that the books that were to make up the New Testament were voted on at the Council of Nicea.

Years ago an atheist in a debate told me that when they found out this vote took place, that is what nailed the coffin on Christianity for them. To inform me about what happened, they sent me a link to an article. The article was by Roger Pearse who I know to do upstanding history. Keep in mind, this article was supposed to back their case. I didn’t have to go far. Please note how the article BEGINS!

” There seem to be a number of legends about the First Council of Nicaea (325AD) in circulation on the internet, presented as fact.  Some people seem to think that the council, which was the first council of all the Bishops of the Christian Church, either invented the New Testament, or edited it to remove references to reincarnation (or whatever) or burned large numbers of heretical works, or whatever.  This is not the case.  This page documents the problem, and provides links to all the ancient source material in order to allow everyone to check the truth for themselves.”

Atheists regularly do like to spread this myth. None of them bother to do any study of the history of canonization. After all, for most the way of checking a claim is to see if it argues against Christianity. If it does, then it has to be absolutely true. It it makes Christianity look good or neutral at best, then it must be absolutely false.

The Council of Nicea was mainly held to deal with the Arian heresy. Other topics were discussed there and other pledges made, but the New Testament being voted on was not one of them. One of the reasons I think it is so easy to make this kind of claim is because of Constantine. If Hitler is our modern evil villain in the present age, then the worst person you can be compared to apparently in the Christian era is Constantine.

So if you want to talk about the origins of the New Testament, what else do you do but go back in time and blame Constantine, the source of all evils from the ancient world. Fortunately, if someone makes this claim to you, remember that it is they who are making the claim. What that means is that it is up to them to back the claim. If they cannot back it, then you have no reason to believe it. Make sure also they give you a real source for the claim, someone who has done their homework or a scholar and not just Joe Blow on the internet who you have no reason to believe.

We live in a day and age where if something is said about Jesus on the internet and it gets popular, you have good grounds to question it. It’s on the internet that debates over Jesus mythicism take place and not in the halls of scholarship. It’s here that we discuss whether Jesus is based on pagan myths that were around at the time or not. Again, not in the halls of scholarship. The internet is the place where so many bad ideas that died long ago rise again and find new life. No new information has come forward to back them. Instead, it is just that people who once didn’t have a way of getting their message out can now do so.

Keep in mind also that nothing I have said in here requires being a Christian. You can be an atheist and know that the Council of Nicea did not vote on the books of the New Testament. There is nothing about this claim that involves the miraculous at all. It’s just a question of who is doing history and who is believing myths.

Hint: It’s not the Christian (normally) in this case who’s believing myths.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament

What do I think about John Walton’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For some time, John Walton has been one of my favorite Old Testament scholars if not my favorite. When I see a book from him coming out, I make a request for it immediately. Going through his book that he wrote now on thought from the ANE and the Old Testament, I was not disappointed.

To be fair, portions of this book seem to cover material that exists in his other books, which isn’t too surprising. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you’ve read the series of books for his Lost World ideas, then you will see a lot of material repeated.

You will also see material that you haven’t seen before. For example, I have not seen a work from Walton dealing very much with the concept of death and the afterdeath, as I prefer to call it, in his other books. You will find that here. Overall, the aim of the work is to give you a look at how the world was for Israel and its neighbors.

Some ways of thinking were similar. Some were different. Israel was much more focused on the idea of a covenant. Other societies couldn’t do that as much coming from a polytheistic background. One individual god might make a covenant, but no other people had one god that made them an everlasting covenant and refused any other gods.

Walton goes through to show what the similarities and differences are. This comes through in five different sections that include comparative studies, literature, religion, cosmos, and people. The third one might be misleading to some as it is the section that focuses on religion as religion, but all the other sections definitely had something to do with religion as the deities were involved with everything.

The book is also written in a layout whereby you don’t have to go straight through. If you want to study just one section, you can do that and not be missing out because you didn’t read earlier chapters. There are several sidebars that give interesting information that you can read if you want to, but I would not think they are required. The book is also easy to understand for the layman so you don’t need specialized knowledge to get at what Walton is getting at.

Christians who are wanting to understand the Old Testament better in light of the surrounding culture and how Israel saw its place in the cultural stream will want to read this book. I would also encourage skeptics to read this so they can have better informed disagreements instead of trotting out the usual concordist approach to the Old Testament. Frankly, just anyone wanting to understand the Old Testament should read this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why The Church Should Deal With Prophecy Experts

What difference does it make if Christians claim to be prophecy experts? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Friday I wrote about how to be a prophecy expert, which was rather tongue in cheek in its approach. Now why do such a thing? Granted, I don’t care for dispensationalist thinking a bit, but is there something more to it? Is there some actual danger that is at work with this?

Yes there is. For one thing, when a preacher like John Hagee makes these claims, people take it seriously. Some of these claims have been so serious that people have sold their homes and such, particularly with people like Harold Camping. People then broadcast all of this everywhere and guess what the media sees as representative of Christianity?

Let me state this right upfront also. There are plenty of good dispensationalists who love Jesus and don’t at all buy into this kind of behavior and condemn it. They don’t go out making active predictions about when the rapture will take place and don’t try to find fulfillments of the Bible in the news everyday. I even had a dispensationalist come on my show to critique The Harbinger.

Now let’s get back to the media. This idea is something then that really damages our witness to the world. If we can be shown to be wrong on something that people can verify easily, such as a simple realization that the end of the world didn’t come on such and such a date, why should they take us seriously on what they can’t verify so quickly, such as the resurrection of Jesus?

If a pastor does this, the pastor needs to be held to account. John Hagee should not have the public ministry he does after his blood moons error. When we have a pastor who has an affair or something of that sort, we call him to account, and rightfully so. Shouldn’t we do the same with a pastor who shares false teaching at this level?

Note also that these people never seem to recant of their errors. Hagee has never said anything in repentance about the blood moons that I know of. I know a lady who blocked me from her channel on YouTube because she made predictions based on the solar eclipse a couple of years ago in August and I kept asking if she would repent. Nope. Never happened.

Second, prophecy experts can tend to distract us from our real mission. There are Christians with all the charts and graphs that can tell when the rapture is to take place and who the antichrist is, but they don’t have a clue on the doctrine of the atonement, or the Trinity, or the resurrection of Jesus.

This is not to say that one could never study the former, but if you know more about that than you do about the essentials, you have a problem. We have a tendency to go for this knowledge that seems more esoteric. After all, you are in the know if you know that stuff.

This gets to another concern. Many people study this so much that they try to figure out everything about who the antichrist is. They spend less time thinking about who Jesus is. Shouldn’t He be our main focus?

Finally, these ideas also have very large political ramifications. How do we treat the nation of Israel and peace treaties and such? Many people are hesitant to see any peace treaty signed because they are convinced that’s the antichrist. (As if if that was the case, we could somehow stop a prophecy from being fulfilled.) How much energy has been spent trying to make a red heifer (You know, God needs the help). What we think about prophecy could affect people all over the world we don’t know about.

I encourage Christians to really study end times ideas on their own. I say that as someone who grew up with the dispensationlist movement. Now I have found my eschatological home in orthodox Preterism. This viewpoint makes the most sense of all of the Scriptures, but if I abandoned it tomorrow, I would still have the same problem with prophecy experts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How To Be A Prophecy Expert

How does one come to be an authority on prophecy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I often get amazed when I go on YouTube or into a Christian bookstore and see the craziness that is prophecy interpretation. These are normally some of the most popular books in the bookstores. It doesn’t matter that these people keep getting things wrong and keep changing their views and using the exact same hermeneutic. They are still experts. How does this happen? Let’s have some fun and look at the making of a prophecy expert.

Step One — Declare yourself to be a prophecy expert.

This might sound like a small step, but it’s a necessary one. You see, the world will need to know that you’re a prophecy expert. “But I haven’t gone to Bible college and I have no degrees or credentials!” That can help, but it’s not necessary. You can set up a channel on YouTube and get instant notoriety that way. Of course, if you have any credentials, that could land you a bigger audience, but we all have to start somewhere.

Step Two — Watch the news first.

It would be really difficult to write a book in 2003 about how Trump will be elected president in 2016 and claim to find that in prophecy. A far better route is to start with what is already happening and then go back and see how that was truly prophesied in Scripture. Then, go and extrapolate from that what you think will happen. This is when you go to the Bible. You go there and look and see if you can find anything in there that will back up your claim. That brings us to our next point.

Step Three — Avoid context of Scripture.

One cannot be picky about what the author intended or what a historical or social situation was at the time of writing. Caring about the real message the author wanted to get will cause us to miss the meaning we want to find. Feel free by all means to play a kind of hopscotch where you just jump around from place to place and find whatever you mean and make it a vague reference. What’s that? Your audience might actually look up the passages and see what you’re talking about? Ridiculous. Won’t happen. Don’t worry about such nonsense.

Step Four — Like Prego, it’s in there.

Rest assured also that every event you want to talk about is in the Scriptures. Every president has been prophesied and every Pope has been prophesied and every war and new law has been prophesied. It’s in there. You just have to look hard enough. For my fellow Americans, rest assured God loves us and we are obviously His favorite country so naturally, we’re all over the Bible.

Step Five — Ignore it when you are wrong.

We all make mistakes. The important thing is to act like they never happened. That’s right. Got your blood moon prediction wrong? Don’t admit it. Did the Harbinger not come through? Don’t admit it? Obama really wasn’t the antichrist? Say nothing about that! The Pope really wasn’t the man of sin? Be silent!

You see, if you don’t acknowledge your mistakes, odds are your audience won’t either. What? You think people really will care about your mistakes? You can be sure that this isn’t the case because so many prophecy experts have gone before you and this has never held them back. They keep going on and on.

Step Six — Repeat the cycle.

Okay. So the time has come. You made your mistake. It’s out there for all to see. What do you do now? Go back to step one. Repeat the whole process once more. Past failures don’t matter. Amazingly, as someone who has been proven wrong over and over and thus have no right to be called an expert, you will still be called an expert. Now go out there and start writing your next book and making your next video or blog post for the world again.

Or, you could avoid all of this and just study the Scripture faithfully and not make predictions about what will happen trusting that God is in control and work on other things that well, they might not seem as important, but they could be. You could work on understanding and living out your faith. You could work on taking care of the needy in your area. You could work on building up your marriage and home life. Of course, most of these won’t lead to the status you’ll get as a prophecy expert, but that’s the price you pay.

If you’re also someone who really doesn’t care about being this prophecy expert, be on the watch for those who do and don’t give them credibility once they’re shown to be wrong over and over again. The Scriptures are too sacred an item to treat so lightly. I look forward to the day when these fad prophecy books are not out on display immediately in Christian bookstores.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/15/2019

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

Christianity has had a rich tradition for 2,000 years. That tradition has included several great thinkers as well. Contrary to what many people think, it’s not the case that church history began with your pastor.

It’s also not the case that church history began with the Reformation. It did not happen that the apostles died and then the gospel was lost and then the Reformers restored it. This is not to say the Reformers didn’t do a great work that I think was important and needed, but it is to say that Christianity did not cease to exist.

Another great tragedy is that if you tell people there have been great Christian thinkers throughout history, they will likely think that such is antithetical to Christianity. You can see that and think “Well, yes Nick, there are plenty of atheists out there who think Christianity and sound thinking don’t go together at all.” Unfortunately, I’m talking about Christians as well. There are too many Christians who are anti-intellectual in their approach.

We ignore this great intellectual heritage we have to our own downfall. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. We should be seeking to learn from these people who went before us. Many of the battles that they fought are being fought today and we can learn from how they won those battles so we can be better prepared today.

Not only that, many of their spiritual struggles can be ours today. Could you find something you can relate to in Augustine’s Confessions? Would you be like Martin Luther and struggle with the idea that God is always ready to punish you? Can you be a person with a fervent imagination like C.S. Lewis?

To discuss these great thinkers and others, I am bringing on someone who recently wrote the book Classic Christian Thinkers. This is someone who is a thinker himself being a philosopher. He is also a Christian who will be guiding us on how we are to look at this issue? His name is Ken Samples from Reasons To Believe.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity’s truth claims. He is the senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe and the author of several books, including Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, and God Among Sages

Dr. Samples and I will be discussing nine great Christian thinkers in history. These are people generally recognized across the board. We will be seeing what we can learn from them and why we should really care about these old dead guys so some would see them today. What difference do they still make in our culture today?

Please be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Also, please consider becoming a partner with us in this work by making a donation to Deeper Waters and also leaving a positive review of our podcast on iTunes. It means so much to us!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Forgotten Blessings

Do we take the time to remember blessings we take for granted? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last month, we moved into a new apartment complex. We’re still in the same area, but we’re just in a new place. Yesterday, we made a video of our cat Shiro looking outside the window because he saw another cat out there.

Allie and I have debated over how Shiro was reacting to the cat. I thought it looked like Shiro wanted to get to go outside and play with a new friend. She thought it looked like he was angry. I figure if he was angry he would have hissed, but perhaps I’m wrong.

Still, Shiro never goes outside except for in his kitty carrier when we have to go to the vet or something like that. He’s strictly an outdoor cat. We don’t want to risk anything happening to him.

The day was fine then with the weather, but last evening, it started to rain. Then, the rain got worse and worse. Around 10:30 last night, we got messages saying that flash flooding was going on. As I was getting ready for bed, I saw Shiro walking around here and I thought of how good he has it. Where is that other cat that’s apparently one of the strays around here?

This morning, we heard a cat meowing outside very loudly. For me, it sounded like it was hurt. Allie wanted to get up too and see what was going on, so we went outside together. Eventually, we saw the cat from yesterday in a face-off against another cat and a third cat in our rosebushes here watching. Allie tells me they were just claiming their territory.

Shiro is a cat, so naturally, he doesn’t think about these kinds of things.

I am not, so I have no excuse. If you know the story of Shiro, he was a stray when we found him and had been abandoned. Allie fell in love with him immediately and we took him in. He has been with us for about eight years now. When we found him, he was in a really pitiful state.

This is the first picture of him. He was really thin and underweight. He was having to live on scraps from the people and had we not taken him, they would have called the pound the next day. It’s quite likely that no one would have adopted him and he wouldn’t be here now.

But now, he looks much better. As you can see from this picture, he has a mane. He also if anything could bear to lose a little bit of weight.

I do not know if Shiro remembers that time when he was abandoned or not. I know that he might not be capable. I know I have no such excuse. I can look back and forget all the times God has provided for me and figure this time it will be different and he won’t.

For instance, one obvious one to me was that I prayed for years to get married. Talk to anyone who knew me then and they would tell you the one thing I prayed for regularly was a wife. I wanted someone special to share my life with. Do I sometimes take that blessing for granted now? Do I forget God answered my prayers in a marvelous way with a wonderful woman?

Is life perfect now? Of course not. Neither is yours. I really do wish my home situation was better with regard to our finances. It’s not. But do I have a roof over my head? Yes. Do I have a bed to sleep in (And not alone!)? Yes. Do I have food in the fridge? Yes. Have I ever gone hungry? No. Do I have the internet to do the ministry I need to do? Yes. Do I have a car to get around? Yes. Do I even have entertainment? Yes. We had someone be very kind to us and give us a Nintendo Switch and we won enough in a contest to get a PS4 at a mall. We are provided for.

Do we have good friends here? Yes. Do we have a support group? Yes. Do we have family here? Yes. Do we have a church home? Yes. Two of them. Do we have the freedom to worship as we see fit? Yes. Do we have to fear for our lives due to a tyrannical government? Not yet.

Yet how many times do I get depressed because I have forgotten about those blessings? I seem to think God has neglected me when in reality, I am the one neglecting the blessings He has already given me and His faithfulness. Why is it I assume God is wrong first before I think I am?

My wife talks about hearing a “worship” song that really got her upset. It was about how God has been faithful and He hasn’t failed me yet. She wondered why they said yet. God will never fail us. Why think He would?

Yet when we get in trouble, we assume God has failed us. God has abandoned us. God wants nothing to do with us anymore. It’s amazing we’re willing to go after God before going after ourselves. That seems a bit backward. Hopeless thinking is more than just being down about something, and there’s nothing wrong with that at times because we are also emotional beings. What matters is if we treat it like it’s true. When that happens, we’re essentially atheists.

That cat was fine last night during the flooding, but as far as I know, he has no home here and neither do other strays around here. Inside, we have a cat who has a home for life, and yet could through no fault of his own lose sight of those blessings. Every morning and evening he will still whine for us to feed him before it’s time (He has an automatic feeder) as if we have neglected him though every time we have made sure he’s provided for. He will whine when we take him to the vet as if we’re evil people not realizing the good we have for him.

He has an excuse. He’s a cat.

I don’t.

Am I thankful today?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What’s Going On With The Syro-Phoenician Woman?

Is Jesus being rude? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we read Mark, it’s a bit of a shock for audiences when they get to the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman. The Jesus we normally think we’ve seen in the Gospels seems very different at this point. Here comes a lady who is suffering and Jesus is not being willing to help her. What is going on?

Let’s start with who she is. First off, there’s no man mentioned in her life. Is she a widow? Has she come and left her husband at home? Is her husband in the Roman military somehow and away from home? My way of thinking is that this woman probably doesn’t have a man in her life to help support her. This isn’t to degrade women. This is to say what the attitude was of most people back then.

Second, in the lines of women in the world, this is a daughter that is being asked help for. If this was a son, the request might be more understandable. A son could provide for this woman and make sure she is taken care of. A daughter is just not as capable. This would be another strike.

The woman also initiates the conversation with Jesus. Jesus is pretty much minding His own business with His disciples when the woman comes up to Him. This means that she is approaching a group of men, which is very unfitting for a woman to do.

And finally, she is a foreigner. We are told where she is born and that she is Greek. In both cases, she would be outside of the covenant of Israel. This woman has nothing really that she can appeal to to get Jesus to help her.

But she’s going to try!

Jesus’s response at first seems hard on her. She is not a child? She is a dog? This does seem hard, but when we only have the text, we don’t know how things were said. There was something in the way that Jesus said it that indicated that the woman needed to keep trying. She wasn’t shut off entirely. She was not asked to be dismissed.

She also doesn’t deny the charges. Is she outside of the covenant people of Israel? Yep. Would she be considered a dog to them? Yep. None of this is being disputed. The woman is not interested in how she is perceived by Israel. She is just interested in getting help for her daughter.

Note about her response. By that response, she is the rare exception of a person who gets one up on Jesus in debate. She gets Him to change His position and she gets the help that she needs.

Jesus is not being mean or cruel to this woman. He’s really seeing how deep her faith is and this passage should give hope to many of us. When we come to Jesus originally for forgiveness and we are outside of the Kingdom, we have nothing in us that Jesus should honor our request to be included in the blessings of the covenant, but He does include us. The woman got what she wanted because she trusted Jesus and was willing to accept whatever He could give as a gift.

Perhaps we should do the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters