Moving On Out

What big change is coming? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am not going to be posting next week. Why is that? Because of the city in that picture. That is New Orleans, Louisiana. That is where I am going.

I have not said much about this aside from recently on Facebook, but it has been in the works and a few friends have known. One thing I decided shortly after my divorce was in moving on, I needed to finish goals I never had. That meant getting my Master’s and eventually going on to get a Ph.D.

I’m a member of a Southern Baptist Church and in talking to my pastor, he said that if I went to a Southern Baptist Seminary, I could cut 40-50% off of my tuition. I asked him to send me a list of such seminaries. One named stood out to me immediately. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

I had been there once before for a Defend the Faith conference and I did enjoy the city. I had many friends there, including Bob Stewart who I contacted immediately. He told me that I could do the program online from my parents’ house, but I would honestly finish the degree faster if I moved to New Orleans and did it on campus.

My Divorcecare leader and his wife came up to talk to my parents about it since my mother especially is concerned, as many mothers are. Still, it was enough to get them to realize this is what I need to do. My own personal mentor says that this is definitely the right path for me to take.

Today will be my last day at the Wal-Mart. This is a big move I am making and I won’t deny, I am awfully scared many times. I am putting a lot on the line. I do have likely a position as an intern for a pastor which could cover my tuition as well and give me a little bit more money each week. I also could be working at the campus post office part-time, but it is minimum wage.

I just know I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and recovering from my divorce has been hard and it has been hard to be passionate for something, but many times, I think about the salvation of New Orleans. Something I told Dr. Stewart when I visited in January was that I had two thoughts at one time. There’s no reason God can’t save New Orleans and there’s no reason He can’t use me to do it.

My pastor told me the anxiety is normal and many people who told me about making big changes in their lives have said the same thing. I get that it is normal and in some ways healthy, but it sure isn’t pleasant. I will likely have to stay at the guest place across the street from the seminary for a few days until the apartment is ready and my main concern with that is Shiro, will he be fine in a new place like that until we move into a regular one and then he has to make the switch again? It has to be this week though because my Divorcecare leader and his wife are going down there with my Dad and I to get me situated and they have a station wagon that can carry several boxes as well. My Dad and I will likely split up the driving between the two of us.

If anything also gives me anxiety, it’s money. Now I have a sizable portion in the bank because I have been saving up money from my job. I really don’t spend a lot, though while with my parents I have been covering my own bills. Also, Shiro is a non-negotiable with me. I will only stay a place that allows him. He’s an older cat and I’m the only person he really trusts and I’m not going to abandon him again, especially after the fact that my ex did just that.

Friends. Please do what you can to help out. Here is a list of all the things I will have to provide for and I do need your support.

Rent.
Electricity.
Internet.
Cell phone service.
Gas.
Health insurance.
Auto insurance.
Groceries and day-to-day supplies.
Care for Shiro.
Books for research.
Medications and Doctor Visits.
Traveling expenses, especially to see family on Christmas as I plan on flying back for such events and for other conferences like Evangelical Theological Society.
My own personal tithes to my new church and any charitable giving of my own I choose to do.
Unless I get it all covered, tuition.

I can assure anyone I try to be as frugal as possible. I regularly go to apps on my phone to get the best deals at places like restaurants. When I am grocery shopping, I go and check out the clearance sections immediately. I don’t want to make a dishonest penny. I do programs that are free to try to earn free gift cards also for places like Amazon. My entertainment expenses are also slow and one such as Audible is also educational for me.

Please be praying for me and please be a regular donor. This site includes at the bottom of every post how to be a donor through Patreon. Please do consider it. Every donation gives me more hope and encouragement. I have been praying at night for God to provide as I take this step even if I don’t know where every dollar to provide for me will come from. Please consider becoming one of those suppliers to help me on the journey. I also hope that if enough comes in, that i can start the Deeper Waters Podcast once more which I have missed greatly.

Thank you and I hope to write to you the week after next with good news.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Remembering the Sacred

Is nothing sacred? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about recognizing marriage as a sacred calling. As I wrote out those words, I thought about that. What is the sacred in our society? Do we have a place for it anymore?

In his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Trueman writes about first, second, and third world cultures. First-world cultures put the ideas on how we should live on notions of fate or the gods. They’re not built on anything ultimate in a sense, but they are great and outside of us and we ought to follow them. The gods say it so whatever their reasons, you must obey.

Second-world cultures are those that do base the ideas in one transcendent God who can to some extent be known. Christianity presents such a culture. It’s not just “The God says so” which would be sufficient in itself, but also here is why the God says so and here are the reasons and God can enforce His rules.

Third-world cultures are like what America is in now. Everything is rooted in the secular. There is nothing outside of ourselves that morality is grounded in. It is all built on secularism.

What that also means is nothing outside enforces us. We have to enforce it. That also means there is no longer anything transcendent and lasting. Ultimately, it is moral relativism, but there is a who says going on in this culture. Who says? Whoever is in charge says. That’s who.

Consider our recent Supreme Court scenarios. Under this kind of ideology, the voice of the people is in some ways the voice of God. If the Court says abortion is allowable, then that is that. The case has spoken. The court is closed. Likewise if it says it’s going to stay out of it. Whatever side you take, I hope the problem is apparent. It’s the saying that a government that is big enough to give you rights is also big enough to take them away.

That’s why in America, our founding document is a second-world document. It roots our rights in a creator. The government doesn’t give us these rights. It recognizes these rights. It also cannot take away these rights.

However, if we remove that, then the only way to enforce the powers of the third-world and whoever is in charge is, well, power. Force will have to be used. The more secular a culture is, the more likely it will use this kind of force to control its citizens.

In looking at marriage also, we have lost the sacred. Marriage used to be a sacred calling where the two made a commitment. Now we have cheapened most everything about marriage. In the past, it would have been that if a man wanted to see a woman in all of her glory, he really needed to work a lot and prove he was a man and show the girl he was worth marrying and he would be treated on their wedding night, and hopefully, she would be as well.

Now? Nope. All you have to do is browse the internet for a few seconds and look at porn. If anything diminishes a human being, it is pornography, both the viewed and the viewer diminish one another in this. Internet pornography is one of the most destructive forces in our world today. It is a cheapening of the good gift of humanity and sexuality and turns women especially into objects to be consumed. If women truly wanted to fight the patriarchy, they would take a stand against internet pornography, abortion, and anything else that makes a man give them anything less than a lifetime commitment.

It’s honestly hard to think of anything our world holds as sacred. In a sense, we treat sexuality like the highest good, making it an aspect of your highest identity and if you haven’t had sex, there’s something wrong with you. How else is just a movie title like The Forty Year-old Virgin possible? At the same time, we treat it as simply a recreational activity and say casual sex is no big deal. It’s hard to think of how you can have it both ways. In a Christian worldview, you understand that sex is an aspect of something much bigger. It is indeed part of your identity, in that you are male or female and nothing can ever change that, and as an activity, it is an intimate one that is reserved for the most intimate of relationships.

One aspect of saving our culture is going to have to be the recovery of the sacred. Right now, we live in a culture of power plays and whoever is in charge has the power to enforce what they want and it will shift back and forth constantly as long as we have nothing outside of ourselves to ground it in. Hear this. You cannot be a true moral reformer if you hold to third-world principles of morality. It takes a second-worlder who says “No. This is something greater than us regardless of what the culture says.” You cannot stand up against slavery, Nazism, or any other evil and be a part of a third-world culture truly for you are just going with what you want for whatever reason and as soon as the other side gets more power, they can change that immediately and what standard can be pointed to beyond men to say “This is wrong.”?

Right now, our culture is on a suicide path. Those of us who are Christians and see the danger should be raising the warning alarms and crying out that something must change. We must be the Ezekiel watchman or else God will hold us accountable for not speaking up. When men forget God, what happens is chaos and some men become god for their culture. Nietzsche recognized this and lamented it knowing it would lead to chaos. He was indeed right. Nietzsche recognized the seriousness of the idea of the death of God and would think most atheists today are gutless embarrassments.

The rest of us. Stand strong. Everyday, build up the sacred in your own life and demonstrate it to the world. Remember Lewis also said that outside of the sacrament (And he said this as a Protestant) the most holy sight you see will be your neighbor. It all starts with how you treat him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Moments of Sadness

When does sadness hit in a divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I can only speak for myself in this as different people have different emotional experiences, but I can say with the divorce that when the news hit, I was devastated, as you can imagine. When I had to leave my apartment and go back to my parents’ house, it was hard to hold it together. I was thankful I had a friend come by as well who was able to be with me and had also been divorced.

For the most part nowadays, I do okay, but there are still times of sadness. It can hit me and momentarily I want to weep a little bit and maybe have some light sniffles, but then I move on. Sadness doesn’t dominate, but it is always hanging in the background waiting. Fortunately, when I’m at home, for the most part, I am okay. Sometimes I’m not. It’s usually when I’m doing day-to-day things like getting a shower or brushing my teeth or getting into bed.

And yes, sleeping at night is definitely different. I used to share it with someone else. As I live here, I even sleep in a bed that when we visited, we slept in together. Now it’s just me alone. I also wonder if I will always be rejected at that point. That’s for another post.

Being at work is one of the worst places for me to be. My mind is not challenged at all and a crowd can be one of the loneliest places in the world. When my mind has nothing to keep me occupied, then I am prone to do things like introspect and to dwell on the past and neither is a good thing to do. It doesn’t help that a lot of other people say and do things that remind me of my ex.

When I am filling out an online survey for whatever reason and I am asked my marital status, I always wish they could skip that question. I have to hit every time that I am divorced. I despise it. I have always wanted to succeed at whatever I do and it’s hard to not look at this divorce as a personal failure. Yes. She was the one who left, but could I have done anything different to change that?

Things do get better over time, but I know divorce really affects you for a lifetime. My own DivorceCare leader who was divorced many years ago and is now very happily remarried says that every now and then he still uncovers an old wound that needs to heal. I had often said that it would be easier to lose my entire library than to lose her. Now I see that that was true.

Now I realize some people do say I am better off and that could be right, but that doesn’t change the fact that it still does hurt. Still, I write because I sincerely hope that just one thing I say could help someone else, and there are people who do contact me and thank me for these writings and that’s always beneficial. Not only that, but it’s healing for me as I get to let it out. I sincerely don’t want to see anyone walk down this road if it can be avoided. I do realize sometimes divorce is necessary, such as in the case of abuse, but even then it is a tragedy that a promise got to that point.

Build up your marriage today. Our church talks about the danger and evil of redefining marriage. That really started with no-fault divorce and removing the idea of a promise easily. If we want to change the way marriage is treated, we need to change the way we treat it and live it out as a sacred calling.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Truth or Happiness

Do we want to live true lives or happy lives? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about reading James Rebel Jamias’s book, which I did enjoy, and one idea that stuck with me on there was something that I have recently concluded. Our culture consists of people who care about happiness more than they care about truth. Aristotle began his Metaphysics by saying all men by nature desire to know. Today, the modern equivalent would say that all men by nature desire to feel.

We can all relate to this on some level. There have been times all of us have had something that we want to avoid being true because of the pain that we will feel, a state we call denial. My first major encounter with death was a sunday school teacher who I had a close relationship with. To this day, I can still remember being at the church for his funeral service and thinking, “This still has to be a joke. He’s going to jump up and tell everyone the truth soon. He has to.”

Sometimes, this can even be lethal. How many people have avoided going to a doctor because they think they might have a condition and they don’t want to hear that they have it? In reality, they do and it goes untreated and it becomes something untreatable and fatal when if it had been caught early, it could have been treated.

This also has severe moral consequences. With marriage, which I have been writing on, how many people are entering into marriage and doing so because the goal is that marriage is meant to make them happy? It is all about them. Now don’t get me wrong on something. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy and there is nothing wrong with wanting a good for yourself in marriage, but it’s not just about you.

Hence, too often when the feeling fades, which it will, we think the marriage has faded and it’s time to move on. It’s not about a greater commitment to something beyond ourselves. Instead, it’s about what is expedient for us at the moment. When divorce is too easy an option, it is the option that will most often be chosen.

In many of the daily lives of people today, it’s not often asked “What is the good thing to do here?” Instead, we are asking what will bring us the most happiness at the moment. When was the last time you heard someone talking seriously about virtue?

Is our Christian community any different in the West? Hardly. If anything, most of our emphasis seems to be on how we feel in our relationship to God. If we feel good, yay! Christianity is true and God is real and we want to worship and praise! If we don’t, then Christianity could be false and God might not exist, but if He does exist, He hates us, and why bother with worship and praise?

In reality, a Christian life is supposed to have all of these. You are not meant to be happy in all of your Christian walk. Jesus wasn’t and it’s the height of arrogance to think we should have something that Jesus never did. Jesus was sad sometimes. Jesus was also happy, but if we look at Isaiah 53, Jesus was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.

This is not to say bad feelings and emotions don’t matter. It’s not to say that for chronic problems you shouldn’t consider therapy and possibly in addition medication. With my divorce, I have both going on. Definitely if you are experiencing strong suicidal feelings, get help right away.

One great hope for our culture is when we all strive to be people of truth. In our religious debates, it’s easy to claim the other side is going with emotions. There are emotional benefits to each side. If you’re a Christian, you can claim you will get to live forever and that you will see loved ones and never die and spend eternity in a place of joy and happiness. I think even a lot of atheists would like for something like that to be true.

On the other hand, a Christian can say an atheist has reasons for them to not want God to be real. One big reason could be a life of sexual liberty in that you get to pursue sexual happiness and do what you want in that area. Another could be one doesn’t want to live under the authority of God. One could also not want to believe in something the rest of their social group will consider foolish. There are many more on both sides we can think of.

Also, in both groups, there are sadly people who don’t really care about truth and don’t want it. These are people who only read what agrees with them and base their arguments for their position on how they feel about something. The first question we should ask about Christianity is not if it makes us feel good or if we like it or if it’s beneficial to society. The first question we should ask is “Is it true?” If it is, then we should believe it even if all the other questions are answered no. If it isn’t true, then we shouldn’t believe it even if all the other questions are answered yes.

It is my hope that we can begin working more on a truth quest instead. Our emotional quests are more often centered on looking within and finding something for ourselves. When we look for truth, we are looking for something outside of ourselves and what we can submit to and ultimately, what we can live our lives based on.

It’s up to you which you choose.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Thinking About Your Ex

How do you think about your ex in divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Had we lasted, yesterday would have been our 12th anniversary. As I have said, I think about this every day. Divorce leaves a big hole in your life and intense pain. Some have said divorce is worse than death, and it makes sense because divorce is a kind of murder in a sense. If the two become one flesh, then what happens if one of the two leaves? It is as if a person, the unified two, has died. Being widowed is a natural death. Being divorced wrongfully would be like murder in that sense.

So how do you handle it? What happens when you think about them, as you inevitably will?

I have a therapist that I talk to on a weekly basis and some time every week he will ask me if I have heard anything about her. We will talk some about how we think she’s doing and our hopes for her.

It is easy to be angry at what she did. I could even easily say that is justified. I was wronged and I was accused of something horrible that there is no basis for. However, I must remember that anger is towards the actions. It is not towards her.

You could say I could be angry at her, and no doubt, I sometimes am, but what good does it do me? I do in some sense know I want some justice. I want it to be shown sometime that I am innocent, but at the same time, I am careful about even that. It can be easy to think about standing before the throne and hearing that I was wronged, but at the same time, I hesitate to think about that because I wonder about judgment on her.

Habakkuk prayed that in wrath, remember mercy.

I honestly pray every night for my ex. I pray for her blessing in life and for her to find joy. I pray for God to become a great reality to her. I don’t want ill for her and any time I see that rising up in me, I give it to the Lord. I realize that temptation is there, but I am not God and I know I have my own sins to be accounted for.

Keep in mind I am not claiming I was a perfect husband, but I will deny that I was an abusive one. To this day, when people tell me that I loved her intensely, I always remind them that it’s not past tense. If anything, it’s a powerful reminder of the love of God.

How can you have love towards someone who has hurt you more than anyone else ever has and wronged you more than anyone else ever has? The same way that God does towards us. (No. I am not claiming we hurt God, but it is analogous.) If God loves me despite everything I have done, then how can I not show love towards her? I can’t do that in in-person actions of course, but I can in my own attitude towards her. I can watch how I speak about her to others.

One thing I have stressed repeatedly is the last thing I want someone to do is to go after her. If anyone does that, they are not doing me any favors. You don’t make things better for me by hurting her.

I also have at the same time refused to let her rejection of me control my life. It hurts and it hurts every single day, but I choose to get up and live and not stay defeated. Sure, I notice some changes, like I am more hesitant to trust people and rejection stings all the more now, but that is stuff that I have to work on myself.

I also realize some of you will struggle much more with this. Some of you have exes who did a much more serious wrong to you than mine did. Some of you have children who might have suffered at the hands of an ex and some of you might need restraining orders even against exes. I am not claiming it is easy. I am saying that holding on to hostility won’t make it better.

The focus I have now is realizing that God forgives me and loves me so I ought to have that mindset towards others. It does no good to hold on to pain and hurt towards another. That can require a lot of time and therapy to get there, but I think if we are working on that, God honors the process and knows our goal.

I have no reason to delight in the thought of her suffering. That would show nothing about her, but it would show a lot about me. She is someone Jesus Christ loves and died for and I should try to treat her in my own heart the same way.

It’s a struggle and I do seek your prayers in this as I work on it more and more and recover more and more from what has happened.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Marriage and Consumerism

How do we view the other person? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m downstairs with the family and I multitask. I usually do that as I can pay attention to two things at once. So we’re watching something and I have my Switch with me and I decide which game I want to play on it. Easy. Which one will bring me the most joy at the moment? If I get frustrated or bored with it, I can just switch to another one.

That’s fine.

Suppose we’re watching a show and just lose interest. What do we do? Easy. We switch over and find another one. Easy. It works fine.

Suppose you’re at a restaurant. What do you get? What you can afford, what you want, and possibly what you think is good for you. Don’t like it when it comes? You can just trash it.

Suppose you get married to someone and you love them at first, but then you just lose that spark. You think there are better waters somewhere else. What do you do? Easy. Just leave them and go out and find love somewhere else so you can have happiness.

Yet somehow, I hope you paused at that last one and considered it differently.

There is no commitment to the game, the TV show, or the food at the restaurant. I didn’t make a marital vow to, say, Pokemon Arceus, and therefore I can’t switch over to TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge. I didn’t vow exclusivity to Smallville, therefore I can’t watch the Flash. I didn’t say I will only order Subway sandwiches, therefore I can’t order french fries at another restaurant. None of those things will care either if I switch.

Unfortunately, we treat marriage the same way. Marriage is not about something bigger than ourselves often. It is just about ourselves. It is about what makes us happy and normally, about our feelings at the moment.

The Human League years ago did a song called Fascination where they said to keep feeling fascination, passion burning, love so strong. It’s a nice dream, but any married couple will tell you it’s false. You cannot promise good feelings to each other forever. Feelings come and go for whatever reason.

And too often, our lives are built on trying to get those feelings. Dare I say it, but I suspect our spiritual lives are often the same way. Could we often want joy in the Lord more than the Lord Himself? You could actually be worshiping the Lord properly and not be exuberant with feelings of joy. (How many of our worship songs are really about us and our emotional states instead of about Jesus?)

Marriage has really become a consumer good. Pick someone that makes you happy and brings you joy and when that fades, then go somewhere else. Marriage is about what the other person can do for me.

Now in some sense, you do have to know what the other person can do for you. As one seeking to remarry, I do have to think about what I like in a spouse. What qualities am I looking for? However, I also have to think about who I am good for. This other person could help me greatly, but is it a two-way street? Do I help them as well? If it’s all about what they can do for me, then when it looks like I’m not getting what I want anymore, I can move on after all.

If you are expecting someone to always give you good feelings, they will fail you. If I think I can always give someone good feelings, I will fail them. No one can do that. I cannot possibly go to an altar and promise another woman that I will feel love for her forever.

However, I can promise that I will love and that I will do loving actions. I won’t do them perfectly, but that will be my goal. I have to realize that marriage is bigger than I am. What we are entering into is a microcosm of a demonstration of Christ and the Church.

Suppose you are someone who reads the Song of Songs allegorically. Even if you do that, it has to be accepted that a physical love relationship is the means that the love of God for His people is demonstrated by. I do think the Song can be read as an allegory, but I also stress we should read it first as a love poem celebrating love and marital intimacy. See it as a love song about marriage and then say “And that’s a minor demonstration of how God loves us.”

So what do we do? Get past our consumer good mentality of marriage. We can use consumerism for things of this world often, but people are not just things. We don’t treat people like that. We don’t treat our relationships with them like that. People are greater than that and marriage is greater than that.

If we enter into a marriage expecting it to be all about us, it will end. If we enter a marriage asking what we can do for the greater good, we are far more likely to succeed. Marriage is not our story really. It’s God’s story and He lets us play a part in it.

Let’s play it well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Divorce And Reasons for Marriage

Why should someone get married? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Something I have noticed is a lot of you seem to like it when I write something on divorce. I don’t want to talk about it every day, because frankly it’s still painful for me to talk about, but give the people what they want. If all of this can help prevent someone from going down this path or help to revitalize a struggling marriage, then that will be enough for me.

A major problem is that we don’t take commitment seriously enough and marriage is not just a commitment, but it’s a covenant. Our culture already doesn’t place much on it. Want to have sex? That used to be a big incentive to get a man to be married and to invest in the relationship. No more. Men can easily get sex outside of making an actual commitment to a woman.

Does a woman want to be provided for? Again, not a big issue since the feminist movement. Women nowadays can often work hard and care for themselves financially and usually only need a man around when it’s time to make a baby. Oh wait. Thanks to artificial insemination, now they don’t even need that. Add in also that the government is more than willing to do what they can to provide for mothers who are single and not in a marital relationship and they have even more incentive.

When this happens, the question then becomes why should anyone get married? If we consider the first option with men, women who give in to men before marriage are not really giving any incentive for a man to get married. If he can get it and he doesn’t have to risk any kind of commitment, well why not? He can literally have his cake and eat it too. It happens so much that no one really even bats an eye anymore.

Yet something is wrong with it. The breakdown of the family has led to a lot of social unrest in our society. Gangs are often formed when men have no real male figure around that they can call Dad. There are many single women who for whatever reason, even one like being widowed tragically, are raising single sons alone and doing admirable jobs, but the sons are best raised if they have at least some figure in their lives they can consider a father figure, such as an uncle, a teacher, or a coach.

Women themselves? Many women still do want to get married and have a firm commitment they can count on. Too often they are giving sex thinking it will help them get that commitment, but it isn’t working. Men much more easily bounce from relationship to relationship because it’s easy for them to escape the consequences, which is one reason abortion is seen as so essential for so many people. It’s a way to get to enjoy a sexual relationship without consequences.

So with all of this, some could be asking why someone like me would still want to get married again?

It’s because I consider myself a Christian realist.

I think reality is that sex is meant for a covenant relationship in marriage. I actually think it’s a great evidence of Christianity when I consider its sexual ethic when it’s so counter-cultural in every way, even from Roman times, and yet it’s consistent too. I think a man and a woman go together physiologically and in every other way.

I also think every person is worth a lifetime commitment and to get sex from a woman without making that covenant before God and man with her is to demean her and lower her. She is worth nothing less than that lifetime commitment upfront and then she is the exclusive person to be with. The same applies to men in reverse.

I do think a man should want to provide for a woman, no matter how much the woman can provide for herself. A man will still on some level want to provide and care for someone. A woman meanwhile will often still want to be a mother and still give a good home and raise her children well and bring joy to her husband.

Ultimately, I look at the fruit of the sexual revolution and see that it doesn’t work. Right now, I have high hopes that with abortion being removed, we will hopefully get to a place where we will actually start taking sex seriously and thinking about what it means and what role marriage has in our society. Our culture is not in trouble because we have a high view of sex, but it is because we have a low view of it. We have taken one facet of it, the pleasure of the act, and made that everything.

For the church, if we are to change, it starts with us. Christian marriages have to be stronger than ever. I say this as one who has been badly burned in a marriage, but I still uphold marriage 100% as a good gift from God and to be celebrated.

Those of you who are married right now are the ones who can best demonstrate that this is true. Those of us who are looking for marriage again can meanwhile honor it by how we live. For me, it is still abstinence until I remarry, no matter how painful that is. I trust that assuming I remarry again, God will honor what I have done and make it worthwhile.

If we want to change the culture, it begins with us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: Why The Church Needs Apologetics

What do I think of James Rebel Jamias’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jamias is a friend of mine and when he found out I had ordered his book, I found out that he was awfully nervous about my review. Would I like it or would I hate it? Would I be hard or would I be soft?

That being said, it was tempted to start off this review telling you this book was totally awful and not worth reading at all and a sadness to all the trees that had to die. It was tempting to do that and then put out a “just kidding”, but I decided against that. Still, I had to mention the idea just for the comedic effect.

Okay. So let’s talk about the book. By and large, I agreed with much that was in it. Now as a seasoned apologist, I really didn’t find anything new in the book that stood out intensely. That’s okay. The book wasn’t written with someone like myself in mind but more with a person who wasn’t as familiar with apologetics, which could sadly include a lot of pastors.

So let’s go with the positives first.

To start, this book is very accessible. If you don’t have a clue what apologetics is, by the time you pick up and finish this book, you will not only know what it is, but you will also know why it is important. You won’t find apologetic arguments in here, but that’s okay. This book isn’t meant to provide those. This book is meant to show what a difference apologetics makes and why it matters to the church today.

Second, this book is short. Someone without a lot of time they want to invest can read this book. I could see a devoted reader easily reading it in a day. If you have even just fifteen minutes a day to read a book, it shouldn’t take you long.

Third, this book is in short chapters. Benefit of that? Great for small group discussion then. It’s easy to come together and read a chapter and just discuss what was read.

Fourth. Jamias also lists various resources that can be used, including my own podcast that I hope to start up again soon depending on if I get the necessary funding for that or not. Jamias lists them by level and so if you want to get started, this is a place to go. I was pleased to see The Case for Christ, for example, as it was the book that lit my fire.

So now let’s go on to the negatives.

I did talk with Jamias about this and he agreed, but there is a lot of reference to Ravi Zacharias. This book was published just shortly after he died and the news of his lifestyle had not come out. Jamias did personally confirm to me that if he wrote a second edition, references to Ravi would be severely edited. If you are reading this, please keep that in mind.

I do respect William Lane Craig as a great apologist, but I sometimes find there is a constant reference to Craig’s work. I would have liked to have seen more variety in this as there are plenty other great apologists one could go with. I wondered sometimes if I counted all the footnotes to Craig what percentage they would be.

On a smaller matter also, I disagree with Jamias on 1 Peter 3:15. While he thinks we would have the case if this was the only verse we had, I think it is not actually about apologetics. Thankfully, there are plenty of other excellent verses that I think are about apologetics.

Lastly, Jamias does speak about how we present the case and says sometimes we make winning the argument more important than winning the person. I might sound contrary, but yes, I think sometimes the focus is on the argument and should be. Why? Because there are some people who at the time of a public exchange are obviously not interested in Christian truth, but they are more interested in shaming and mocking Christianity. This can especially happen online.

What is the goal then? The goal for me is to shut down opposition and make their side look shameful and build up confidence in the Christians on my side and hopefully let any fence-sitters see what could be a strong and confident case for Christianity. Jamias is right that often the audience is the one to be won in these encounters, so I just take it to the conclusion and say sometimes you should be more interested in shutting down opposition. (Was Paul trying to win Bar-Jesus to the faith when he struck him blind or was he trying to win over the king who was watching?)

Those negatives, however, are miniscule in comparison to the positives of the book. Get this book for yourself and read it. Get this book for your pastor and have him read it. Get this book and share it with a small group leader and make it a group reader. Either way, get this book and read it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What Makes A Movie Bad?

Are our ideas way too simple? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I bought a book on Kindle by Roger Ebert called Your Movie Sucks. In it, he goes through a number of movies he thinks are really bad. I’m on the D section right now, as in alphabetical and not gradewise, and some of these movies I have seen and I disagree with. Some I haven’t seen, but I have heard enough to agree. (Battlefield Earth anyone?)

It’s really got me thinking about what makes a movie good or bad. Sometimes, we can be tempted to just look at the questionable content we could find in a movie. Consider that if you look at Ebert’s list of the best movies where he picks one for each year, one year has an R-rated film.

This film has listed as severe on IMDB, sex and nudity, as plenty of times you will see full frontal nudity. It stays on screen for a long time. There is no hiding. This movie is full of women who are naked.

The same applies for violence and gore. The movie is loaded with it. Again, this is not hidden. It is drawn out and you see it all.

And yes, the same applies to frightening and intense scenes. This movie is full of them. If you want to be comforted, you don’t see this movie.

And many Christians are saying “I would never watch something that had all of that.”

Actually, you would. Odds are you have seen it. Not only have you seen it, you think it’s an awesome movie and everyone should watch it.

This movie is Schindler’s List.

Schindler’s List contains all of this, but yet we know it’s a great movie because we understand the purpose of all of this. Why have nude women? Because that’s what happened in the holocaust when millions of Jews died. Why have violence and gore? Because the holocaust wasn’t pretty. The same applies to frightening and intense scenes. This movie should not leave you comforted or feeling good.

I have definitely seen this movie and I definitely think you should as well.

So if you go and look at just things like sex and nudity, violence and gore, frightening and intense scenes, and just go from that, you will miss out on this movie. There’s so much more to a movie than this. For one thing, let’s consider the lesson of a movie that it is trying to teach.

Christian apologist Greg Koukl has talked about Pleasantville before. This one is PG-13 so many might think it’s okay. However, he points out the lesson is that the society is improved when we break free of repression represented by 1950’s suburbia. There’s no right way to live and we need to live free lives, including full sexual expression.

There’s also worldview for Christians to consider. I have many friends who are big into science fiction and really like Star Wars and Star Trek. They are devout Christians who can discern fantasy from reality, and I am sure they would also say they do not embrace the worldview of these movies. Star Wars is greatly influenced by Eastern thought and Roddenberry of Star Trek was heavily into humanism.

For Christians, this means we need to be better at engaging the media. We need to evaluate movies not by how many times we have to use a bleep button or how many times we see a flash of skin. I am not saying these factors don’t matter and certainly if you struggle with lust or can’t take the sight of blood, there are some movies you shouldn’t see, but we need to see movies and all media as teaching tools as they all are.

When you create some piece of media, you are often trying to teach something as well. You are trying to share a piece of how you see the world. Do this right and you can have a great impact for generations. Lewis and Tolkien have had their books done into movies today even though the authors died decades ago.

Can you think of any Christian writers who are doing the same today?

Note when you watch the media presented by others, they don’t come right out and blast what their worldview is because the audience is too stupid to figure it out. You know who does that? Christians do that. When we make movies, they are usually awful. The only people who really go see Christian movies are for the most part, Christians. One great exception to this is actually The Case for Christ. Even on Rotten Tomatoes the film as of this writing has an audience score of 79% and the Tomatometer is at 61%.

It’s not enough for us to make movies that we like. We have to make movies that other people would like. How many of you would really like to take your non-Christian friends to see some Christian movies that you see? If all we’re doing is preaching to the choir, we’re not reaching anyone.

That means we have to make good material.

Considering television, recently I finished going through The Good Place on Netflix. I found this to be a highly intriguing show and no, I’m not going to tell you much about it aside from the show revolves entirely around moral philosophy. Yes. That can be in a show and it can be a good show. You can present a show that touches deep topics.

No. I’m not going to claim to know entirely what makes a movie bad or what makes a movie good, but reading Ebert’s book, I am thinking we need to make better movies. In the past, you had classics like Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments. We don’t have those today.

I also would like to see this move on to Christian music that secular people would like. Also, good Christian video games. Five Nights At Freddy’s, I understand, is made by a Christian. The Castlevania games got their name because of what a Christian said as the original name was something akin to Dracula Satanic Castle.

Also, these movies and games and anything else don’t have to be delusional and present the world as pretty and nice. We can show real evil in them because there is real evil in the world. We can show real loss because there is real loss in the world. (How many of us 25 years later can still deeply remember the death of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII?) We should be the ones showing real heroes, however. It has been said that whenever you have a hero and a villain, somewhere you have the gospel.

So I don’t close this post with any clear answers. I just know that if I see a Christian movie in this book, I’m not going to be surprised. What I would love to see is a secularist make a list of top movies to see and have Christian movies regularly be up there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Preaching on Divorce

How should pastors handle divorce from the pulpit? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my pastor did a sermon on divorce and it got me thinking that I have not written on this facet. If you’re a pastor, how should you preach such a sermon? Our text was mainly Deuteronomy 24 with some of Matthew 19. I want to state also that my pastor did a very good sermon, but since you all likely didn’t hear it for the most part, I have to repeat the things that were right and then offer other aspects I recommend.

First, marriage must absolutely be upheld as a good. This is non-negotiable. Marriage must be seen as a gift from God. That does not mean everyone has to use it, but it does mean all are to respect it. Hebrews says marriage must be honored by all. The author doesn’t limit it to those who are married.

Second, divorce is an evil. This needs some clarification. It doesn’t mean that everyone who divorces or was the recipient of divorce is guilty of an evil in this area. It means that in a non-fallen world, there will be relationships that are meant to last a lifetime that will not last that long. People will betray their vows in a number of ways.

This means that every time a divorce occurs, that means someone has along the way broken their vows. How would this apply to a woman who divorces her husband because he is absuive? Sometime along the way, he also broke a vow to love and to cherish. I can agree that a woman does the right thing in leaving an abusive husband, but it still is a tragedy that someone committed such a great evil that the union has to be dissolved.

Third, if you are the one who initiated a divorce and did so wrongfully, we must always emphasize that there is forgiveness. Divorce is not the unforgivable sin. As one who attends a Southern Baptist Church, sadly, the SBC is usually among the worst in dealing with this. It is easier to let a murderer up in the pulpit than it is to let a divorced person in it, even someone who was wrongfully divorced.

This applies to any sin really. If you preach on the evil of abortion, you must always stress that God loves people who have abortions and is ready to forgive them. If you preach on gluttony or pride or homosexuality or anything else, the same applies. Grace must always be shown from our pulpits.

Fourth, if someone wants to remarry after a divorce, I think it is good to encourage them. It is true that you don’t need marriage to be complete and happy, but there are many things you don’t need that you can want and there is no wrong in wanting them. A couple could pray to God earnestly for a child wanting one. They don’t need one to be happy, but Scripture emphasizes that children are a gift from the Lord.

If someone on the other hand does not want to seek a new marriage, then we should celebrate with them in that decision. We should not treat a single person as an incomplete person nor should we celebrate when a single person gets married if we are saying “Now you are a complete person.” We should celebrate marriage itself, but we should also celebrate singleness for those who don’t desire marriage.

So if you want to remarry, you are not doing anything wrong. Marriage is a good to be celebrated. If you don’t want to, the same applies. You can still serve God as a single person. Some could perhaps serve better. It depends on the person.

Fifth, we always need some teaching on worldviews and that includes a worldview on sex and marriage. If someone wants to not get married, for example, they have to be willing to accept that they will be living a celibate lifestyle. While sex is not the only reason for marriage, it is still a reason for marriage. This is something that separates marriage from other relationships.

For our young people especially, and this I have talked about in many other posts, we need more regular talks about why sex outside of a marital covenant is not only wrong, but will cause more harm. The sexual revolution has not been a friend to society. Honestly pastors, you need to preach on the issues of sex and marriage I would say at least monthly.

Finally, we need to stress how to treat people who are divorced. There can easily be a tendency to look down on people who are divorced. I am thankful that when I went public, people knew me enough that for the most part, they knew that I was someone who always showed great love to my ex-wfe. Even today, when people tell me I loved her dearly, I always make sure they know it’s not past tense. I still want the best for her and pray for her well-being and holiness every night.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still struggles. I can be tempted to think ill of her, but I need to remember to think ill of her actions more than of her and see her as a fallen human being who God loves just as much as He loves me. If anything, this has been a great lesson to me about the grace and forgiveness of God.

In the church, this needs to be the case. A divorced person needs to be able to go to church and find love without people looking down on them or treating them as second-class Christians. Those who have not been divorced do not know how painful this is, and it definitely is. Every day, in some way, I suffer because of the fact that I am divorced.

Just yesterday, when I was working, I had a customer say to me “These ones” about something. It always bothered me when my ex said that because it struck me as a redundancy. Now when I heard it, it was just painful to hear. That’s a tiny example, but a tiny example could best illustrate the point. If a little thing can bring back a painful memory, how much more can bigger things?

Whenever we preach about any sin, we must always assume, and we could be right or wrong, that someone in the audience is struggling with that sin. You could preach on homosexuality, but you must always remember there could be someone in the audience who is struggling with same-sex attraction and doesn’t know what to do. Preach sin as sin, but always preach grace as greater than sin.

And along those lines, don’t make promises that aren’t promised. I saw last night getting set for bed a tract I picked up somewhere asking if you want peace. Now if someone wants peace with God in the sense that God doesn’t hold their sins against them and they are forgiven, that is promised. If someone wants peace in the psychological sense, that is NOT promised. If someone struggles with sin, there is no promise that God will take away that struggle in this lifetime. He might, but He might not. We cannot promise to remove the pain of divorce, but we can promise to be there in it. We should make that promise and keep it.

Divorce is hard. It is hard to teach on. It is hard to preach on. It is hard to go through. I hope these words of wisdom will help those who struggle with this. My pastor did a really good job yesterday with it. If you’re a pastor, I hope you will take this to heart from a divorced person.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)