Deeper Waters Podcast 5/2/2015: Cynthia Hampton

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For those who are concerned, I have started working on the podcasts for putting up. It has just been a few stressful weeks here, but I take full responsibility. Please understand that I am looking to get them out as soon as I can.

But this week, we’re going to have a show I’ve tried to have twice in the past and both times something has happened to stop it from happening. Let’s hope that doesn’t hold this time. We are going to be talking about Jehovah’s Witnesses. My guest is going to be Cynthia Hampton. She is in a unique position to talk about Jehovah’s Witnesses because she herself used to be one and has now escaped and is a strong orthodox Christian. She has also come to be a strong friend of our family and we are thankful that she has been there many times when we have needed someone to talk to or offer advice.

So who is Cynthia?


And according to her own autobiography.

I attended Pima Community College in Arizona received an A.A. in Accounting. Also attended University of Arizona, but did not graduate (Long story). I actually graduated (finally!) from University of Phoenix with my B.S. in Accounting in 2011. I currently serve as Treasurer at my church. I never studied theology or apologetics formally. All my knowledge is self taught because of trying to find the truth about Christianity after leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses. My first exposure to apologetics was listening to Walter Martin every day on the radio and sending for materials written at the CRI.

While she is self-taught, that self-teaching has gone a long ways. I really hope you’ll learn a lot more about Jehovah’s Witnesses and especially from one who has been in the mindset. In order to interact with this group you need to know more than what they think about Jesus and God and the Bible. You need to know how they think. I had my eyes opened to this years ago when my roommate at the time and I actually went to a Kingdom Hall to see what goes on in a Jehovah’s Witness service. We were thoroughly stunned and to this day I say that it is one of the creepiest events that I have ever been to. Indeed, it is the closest to brainwashing that I have ever personally seen.

Cynthia from her perspective will tell us how it is that a Jehovah’s Witness thinks and will hopefully open your eyes to this world. These people could one day come knocking on your door after all and you need to be ready to say what needs to be said. Jehovah’s Witnesses do also know their Bibles very well and if you are not prepared, as former CRI president Walter Martin would say, you will be turned into a doctrinal pretzel in 90 seconds or less. Don’t become a doctrinal pretzel. Listen to someone who has been there and learn how to answer the witness that comes to your door.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Awareness of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had to smile.


Yes he did.

And that changes everything.

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Emotional Intelligence

What do I think of Daniel Goleman’s book published by Bantam Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I love the life of the mind. That’s no big secret. Yet due to recent situations, a friend of mine, who also loves the life of the mind, recommended that I read this book. I really am thankful that I did because it did open me up to a newer way of looking at the world. As a Christian, it’s easy to really focus on the intellectual, especially in the apologetics field, but we are creatures who are meant to have emotions as well. In fact, if we do not have emotions, then there is something wrong with us. The reality is that many of us, especially men, tend to downplay this side of us and act like it’s foreign.

Goleman’s research shows that understanding our emotions could be even more important than IQ. Do I think he overstates his case sometimes? Yes. Do I think that there can be a tendency when we get here to do absolutely nothing to not offend anyone? Yes. Does that mean that there is not a case to be made? Not at all. Anyone would be greatly helped by reading the stories about how our emotions work and seeing what the latest evidence is on their study. There is something here that can apply to everyone in every walk of their life, including how they live in their day to day relationships.

Do we have reason to be concerned about marriage? Then you could heed the advice given. Do you have difficulty on the job? Then pay attention. Do you have children that are being bullied or even worse, being bullies themselves? Take note of what is said. A lot of difficulty could be due to unruly emotions and unfortunately as many of us know, it’s quite easy for the emotions to hijack our reason and make us suddenly do things that we would not do. It is at those times that we will look back later on and say “What came over me then that I did what I did?” What happened was an emotional hijacking.

From a pastoral perspective, much of this could be useful in counseling as well. Goleman’s research will show more on how the brain reacts to such situations as fear and worry. He offers advice on how to deal with each of these. Some situations he gives are pretty extreme and yet the principles worked. Consider Elementary school students who made a game called Purdy after the last name of someone who fired shots at their school. In the game sometimes, the kids could defeat Purdy before he got off a shot. This actually turned out to be a coping mechanism that gave the children control.

Overall, while not everything will be agreed with here, there is a clarion call to pay attention to the role emotions have. Having all the IQ in the world won’t be as effective for you if your emotions are constantly holding your reason hostage. Learning to take control of your emotions and how to properly focus and use them can be helpful in every are of your life.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Confessing Christians, Practicing Atheists

Are we really showing the difference the Christian life makes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today during some time I had alone, I started thinking about the way we live our lives. Look at how many of us wrestle with issues that we have today. How many of us in the church struggle with addictions and sorrows? Now of course, some of this is the day to day of ordinary living. Someone who has recently lost a loved one is not supposed to feel happy. There is something wrong if they do. Even barring extreme examples like that, there are regular day to day events that don’t bring us the greatest of joy, and that’s understandable, but overall, our lives are to be examples of joy.

The sad part is some readers who are down will be wanting to ask what we have to be joyful about.

Let’s start off. God is in his Heaven and Jesus is Lord and we are invited to join into His rule as the king of this world.

If you’re sitting there still wondering what the big deal is, you have a problem.

And insomuch as I do the same thing, I have a problem.

First off, I want to state some thoughts on how we got to this point exactly. Our ancestors lived in a world where the deities or deity always mattered. Christianity did not change that. Throughout the medieval period, the highest study you could attain to was the knowledge of God. You had to have learned every other subject well before you could move on to that one. Then something happened. I start it at the Reformation. Now I think even the most ardent Catholic would admit the Catholic Church was not the picture of purity and innocence at that time. Yes. Wrongs were being done by the church and yes, changes needed to take place. Of course, this is really true of every church and will be because every church is composed of these problematic creatures called humans.

The sad thing is that even though I think the Reformation was needed, a good thing can go to far. The questioning of the highest authority on Earth led to the questioning of the highest authority in Heaven. Questioning is good of course, but a lot of people were throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It would be interesting to know if this would have happened had the Reformation never happened, but we do not have access to know such a thing. I reckon it often when we do this thing to be like teenagers given the keys to their parents’ car and then suddenly thinking they’re in charge of the world and don’t need anyone, neglecting the fact that Mom and Dad hold the credit card that pays for the gas.

So we go on and note that I have said the questioning is not the problem. In fact, I wish more historical Jesus questioning had been going on and that we had been learning more. The good part for a Christian is that we can be open to any avenue of questioning and should do so without fear. What do we have to be concerned about? If Christianity is true, then honest and real investigation will lead to that. If it is not, then we should be thankful that we have been shown that that which we put our greatest trust in is false. Naturally, I do not see this happening on any level, but I still do read the opposing sides just in case I am missing anything.

As we moved on, we got to Deism. There is a God, but He’s more of an absentee God. He created things, but He cares nothing about you. He is indifferent to all the evil that is going on in this world. This deity is more of a stopgap to explain the word philosophically. However, people who grow up with absentee fathers can often say that there is little difference between an absentee father and no father at all. They certainly can and they certainly do say that. The next step in the worldview would act on it and that would lead us to atheism.

If atheism is true, then really, we are in a bind. We have to seek out something. Man by nature does want to be happy. He wants at least the satisfaction of his desires. If his highest desires, such as his rationality, lead to nothingness, then why not move on to his other desires? This is where we end up centering our lives on things like sex, money, food, fame, drugs, etc. Many of these can be good things in themselves. In fact, the first one on the list, sex, is quite likely our nation’s #1 choice of deity right now. Many a Christian can easily understand this, and if we don’t, that says more about our sex lives than it does about sex itself. Sex was made to be a beautiful and wonderful and transcendent experience. As a lady was telling my wife and I yesterday, it is a great power women have over men especially and men will do most anything for this good. I can easily say it is amazing how many life changes I made for the better in my life after getting married and how much more confident I was in many areas. That is not an accident.

But there is a danger here. One dare not think about sex too much on this level. What is it for? Does it have any greater purpose? Is there anything beyond the physical act? Such thinking could lead one to questions that might wind up with God, the explanation that is desired to be avoided. One pastoral author has said actually that if anyone asks you to prove that God exists, just answer with one word. “Sex.” If they don’t understand your argument, they’ve quite likely said more about their sex life than they ever intended. Many of my friends are single and could be thinking I’m making too big a deal here. If you’re one of those, just wait until you get married and then get back to me.

This is also why our nation is so odd when it comes to sex. Although we have mountains of evidence of the dangers of constant illicit sex, although our experience shows it, although there is much science backing the pro-life position, this is all ignored. The only reason this is ignored is because it is sex. As soon as we start saying there is a proper time and a proper place for sex and a proper purpose for it, well then we enter into the area of design. We are the children once again who are satisfied with having the toy that we pay no attention to who gave us the toy and why they gave it to us.

So we have a world that lives like there is no God, and many are sure there isn’t, and that our highest good is the satisfaction of our own desires.

We expect that of those outside the fold.

But it’s also showing up within the fold.

Yet what if we could return to that one central truth? There is a God and Father who is in charge of the world and while He doesn’t always interact as we would like, He does interact. It is an incredible interaction every day that He holds all creation together. Yet even still, to say that there is a God is not enough. That can get you deism, but deism really doesn’t answer our existential cravings so much. This is a great danger especially in apologetics. We can spend so much time defending a goal that we forget what difference the goal makes. Lewis said we can defend God so much that we would give the impression that God has nothing better to do than simply to exist.

Theism is indeed an awesome and incredible claim, but we Christians make a more incredible one. This God that we worship exists in Trinity and the second person of this Trinity entered into human history. He walked as one of us, lived a life like one of us, and then He died. He died and then He rose again in a new and glorified body and in fact promised that if we follow Him, that the same thing would happen to us.

Let’s keep one thing in mind. When the skeptic says that this is a unique claim, they are right. They in fact could realize more the greatness of what it is that we are claiming. We do need a lot of evidence to back this and I have given it elsewhere here and there are many scholarly works that do demonstrate that great evidence. Yet here is where the rubber meets the road ultimately. Take Lewis’s statement and apply it here. Could we sometimes be so caught up in defending the resurrection, which we absolutely must do, that we would practically give the impression that the most important point is to show that Jesus arose, though who on Earth knows why He did?

Recently, a cousin of mine who’s a pastor put up a status about following Jesus on Facebook and how important it is. I certainly agree that it is, but I wanted to press the issue some. I did state that I was a Christian, but I was interested in people asking the question about why we follow Jesus. What purpose could we have to it? The sad tragedy is that I don’t think anyone ever responded to that. Now if we are unable to tell ourselves why it is that we follow Jesus, how on Earth could it be that we could tell someone else why they should follow Jesus? Do we do it just for our personal feelings? “Try Jesus! You’ll like Him!” We can in our evangelism and giving our “personal testimony” treat Jesus as if He was some 12-step program that if we follow Him will make us all feel better about ourselves.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s more to following Jesus.

We are right to defend the resurrection as a historical reality. As it is, I want to be adamant on that. Christianity hangs or dies on this being a real event or not. If Jesus is not risen, let us please go on our way and do something else. If He did rise, let us do nothing else than live the way He commanded us to as servants of the Kingdom. The danger is that we take the resurrection of Jesus and make it a past event only and ignore that it is a reality that reaches far beyond itself to touch everything that happens around it. If the resurrection of Jesus is true, then everything else in this world is different. If it is not, then as Paul said “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

If the resurrection is not true, I frankly cannot blame the world for living the way that it lives.

If the resurrection is true, I can greatly blame Christians, including myself, for living the way we live.

Let’s return to that starting place. God exists, well and good. But who is He? What is He like? We could use our Aristotelian proofs, and do not misunderstand me. I think the Aristotelian-Thomistic arguments are powerful and conclusive to show that God exists, but this deity is not necessarily the God revealed in Jesus Christ. He could be, but He is not necessarily. That does not mean the arguments are useless. They are a stepping stone. We must go to the greatest revelation of God and too often, we’ve treated the historical Jesus as the resurrected Messiah, but not in any way revealing to us who God is.

If our theology is not informed by Jesus, our theology is not an informed theology.

I’d therefore like to challenge myself and everyone else to know what it is you believe and why it is that you believe it. I have in fact used this approach in person before. When my grandmother passed away, I was one of three pastors given ten minutes to speak. I had lain out what I wanted to speak on and my own wife and mother at the time were skeptical, but I asked them to trust me on it. Later on, they had to admit my practice was a right one. In the first five minutes, I gave a brief apologetic to show that the resurrection of Jesus was a historical reality. I spent the last five showing what a difference it made, including what it meant and would mean for my grandmother. Both of the other preachers I found out later were impressed and the audience I think overall left in a good mood celebrating the life of my grandmother, which was also helped as after I was done, I was the Master of Ceremonies as it were gathering stories for us to share publicly about my grandmother.

Now was there still sorrow? Absolutely. My grandmother had died. Even as I write this, there is a tinge of sorrow, especially as I realize my wife and I currently live in her old house. This house that I used to go see my grandmother in regularly is the one we live in today and if I thought of it long enough, I could see many memories forming in my mind here. Yet that sorrow is not overwhelming. Paul told the Thessalonians that we mourn, but not like those who have no hope. Yes. We should mourn. Mourning is good and healthy. It is part of grief, but it is not proper to mourn as if we have a lost cause. When we mourn, we mourn not for the loved one in Christ who died. We mourn for ourselves as our lives are forever more lowered without these people in them.

But as we mourn, there is a hint of rejoicing. We know the story is not over yet. There is a God who has acted in Christ.

As I end this, I hope there is a note of joy showing up in you. If there isn’t and you’re a Christian, you might want to ask what it would take. If the fact that God exists and has revealed Himself in Christ and has invited you to join in His Kingdom does not excite you, good grief but whatever could?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Isn’t God Interacting With Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/25/2015: Paul Compton

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

Friendship is something special and some friends last a very long time. One such friendship I have is with Paul Compton who I met when I was in Bible College. Later when I went to Seminary, Paul Compton was right there. He helped me and my roommate move in and get situated. Paul afterwards got a job at a church in New Hampshire and took the position up there, but we did stay in touch. In fact, Paul was one of the people that came to Charlotte for my wedding. Knowing about my having Aspergers, when he found out his son Timothy was diagnosed with Aspergers, he made sure to give me a call to see what I had to say. Since he’s such a good friend and has a great interest in both apologetics and in autism, then I figured he’d be great to have come on the show to discuss fatherhood and apologetics.

So who is Paul?


And according to his own bio.

Paul A. Compton is a pastor and apologist at Riverside Christian Church in Merrimack, NH. He received his B.A. in Bible from Johnson University (2002) and Master of Arts in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC (2008). He is an active member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the International Society of Christian Apologetics. Paul is also a founding and active board member of iHope International Ministries. In 2012, he was elected to the Town Ethics Committee where he served as Chairman. Paul is blessed with a lovely wife, Elizabeth, and two children (Timothy and Andrew) who encourage and support his service in ministry.

Paul has also been doing some work, though I understand it has been slowed down, on starting his own organization to raise awareness about autism called “Autism Shouts.” Paul is an enjoyable guy to be around who knows his Scripture and philosophy well and he has a sense of humor that you’ll thoroughly enjoy, especially if you love puns.

So what is it like being the father of someone on the spectrum? How does it change the marriage dynamic? If you’re someone skilled in philosophy, how does that change your outlook on life? Do you see Aspergers as a hindrance or a blessing or is it some of both? How does Timothy interact with his friends? How does he interact with family? What’s it like taking a child with Aspergers to church? What do you think the church could do differently for people who are on the autism spectrum? What advice would you give to parents who just found out that there child is on the Autism spectrum or suspect that their child is on the Autism spectrum?

I am looking forward to this show. Paul is a good friend who has a good heart for Christ and has been a great friend to Deeper Waters throughout the years. I hope you’ll enjoy his company just as much as I do and benefit from what he has to say.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Should You Be Still And Know That He Is God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay. So what is going on here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Challenge of Jesus

What do I think of N.T. Wright’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most readers know that I thoroughly adore the works of N.T. Wright. Give me a Wright book and it normally moves right to the top of my reading list. How can you not enjoy the works of N.T. Wright? Wright has a great gift in that he takes the serious study of the academy and then he brings it to the church in a way that a layman can understand. In all of this, he does not sacrifice an inch on orthodoxy, while maintaining a devotion that will encourage readers to look at Jesus in a whole new light and consider seriously what he says, which is of course, the Challenge of Jesus.

This is a book that was written earlier and then redone for us today. It is indeed one that needs to be redone as the world has changed since the last writing of the book and we need to be reminded anew of the challenge of Jesus. Wright begins with explaining why studying the historical Jesus matters and there are two groups that would say it is pointless. The first would include hyper-skeptics who view history negatively and think that we cannot really know anything about the historical Jesus. On the extreme in this case would be people who say we don’t even know that He existed. Surprisingly on the other end are Christians. These would be the attitude of “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Why do we need to study Jesus this way? We have the Word of God here. It tells us everything we need to know.” I would agree with Wright that this is not a wise position. We have learned more about Judaism, and especially Second Temple Judaism, in the past few years and we should seek to put that to use.

I definitely agree with Wright that studying the historical Jesus should be a part of Christian discipleship. We should be wrestling with the question of what the historical Jesus thought and what He was trying to say to His contemporaries. Might we have to sacrifice some beliefs that we think are just obviously what Jesus was saying along the way? Of course. We might. But if we are interested in living as Jesus would have us to live, would that not entail that we should have as many accurate beliefs about Jesus as we possibly could? We should not be afraid of having any belief challenged in our study of the historical Jesus if our goal is truth.

Next is the challenge of the Kingdom and this is also one that is neglected. Jesus spoke so much about the Kingdom of God and today, we say hardly anything about it. People treat the Earth as if it’s a sort of temporary holding spot until God just does away with everything and makes things new. The Gospel is about God becoming King of this world through the work of Jesus. As I write this, I think about a cousin of mine who is a minister who put on his Facebook about the importance of following Jesus. I was pleased to see this and commented that we need to ask why do we follow Jesus? Could anyone give a reason?

No one answered.

How is it that we are go to the unbeliever and tell them that Jesus is the King of this world and that we should follow Him, if we cannot even say why we follow Him ourselves? Do we follow Him because He rose from the dead? Then should we have become followers of Lazarus as well? Do we follow Him because He claimed to be God? Then should we not follow numerous cultists who claim the same? How about following Him because He claimed to be who He said He was and then God raised Him from the dead to vindicate those claims. Of course, to do that, we might actually need to do something shocking, like study Jesus.

Once we learn about Him more, we can see that He is indeed the King of this world and then we can answer the question of why we follow Him. We do not follow Him because we like His teachings, though we might, or because He rose from the dead, though He did, but we follow Him because He claimed to be God’s agent to bring about His kingdom on this Earth and He demonstrated that by being raised from the dead by God. We follow Him because He has shown that He is Lord and Caesar is not and the same applies to all who would like to take on the title of Caesar today. Jesus is the true King of this world.

But what about crucifixion? Yes. Why did that happen? Wright argues that Jesus was taking on the punishment of Israel on behalf of Israel. He was taking on the enemy not with the sword but with surrender. He was the one who did not resist the chastisement of God, but He took on Himself that which He did not deserve. The crucifixion would have normally spelled the death knell of the movement, but it did not. This indeed gets us to the resurrection. Wright does think this can be defended historically, which I agree, and that anyone arguing against it needs a better explanation of why the movement went the way that it did. Because of both of these together, we see that God has acted in Jesus to bring about His kingdom.

Finally, the rest is about how we can be salt and light in our own world. What does what happened 2,000 years ago have to do with today? The answer is the Challenge of Jesus is still just as relevant as we are to be Jesus to our new postmodern world.

Reading Wright is always a blessing. He not only gives me more knowledge, but he encourages me to live a better life and in fact, brings me to the Scriptures anew with looking and thinking about the historical Jesus and what He did and said in His own time. May the works of Wright continue to have their great audience and when the church takes him and those like him as seriously as they take people like John Hagee and Joel Osteen, it will be a much better day for the church.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Should I Feel My Faith?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We act.

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Walls That Divide

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

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

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

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

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

My recommendation?

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters