Feeling Is Not Thinking

Does our little use of wordage make a difference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Years ago, I heard N.T. Wright on Unbelievable and I don’t remember the show or the context, but I remember very much what he said. I am sure Justin Brierley, the host, had asked him how he feels about a certain topic. Wright responded that it needs to be asked how he thinks because the confusing of thinking and feeling is one of the great problems of Western culture.

I think he’s quite right and if you watch, you will be amazed how often this happens. One time it really struck me as I began to start noticing it was back in college. In the lobby area once where the students hung out, someone had on the TV some sports talk show. One person at the newsdesk said to another about a recent event in sports, “How do you feel about that?”

I used to have this happen with Jehovah’s Witnesses when we lived in Knoxville. They would come and visit us and then do something like read a passage of Scripture and say to me “How do you feel about that?” I would usually say something like, “Happy.” “Okay.” “Good.” Then I would say, “I think what you really want to know is what I think about it.”

What is most concerning about this is that we take our feelings then to be revealers of thoughts just as much as our thinking is. Our feelings can only tell us about our emotional response to such things. It might be an appropriate or inappropriate response and we should think about what our emotions are telling us, but they’re meant to tell us about ourselves. Your emotions cannot tell you about another human being or about God.

We spend so much time emphasizing our feelings that we don’t really think. It’s understandable that sometimes we act on emotional responses immediately, though it should be a goal to try to avoid this. If we just listen to our emotions over and over though, we become purely reactional beings and will always be reactional beings.

If we take it too far, we will start to often think our emotions are telling us the truth about God. That can lead to us thinking God is angry with us or doesn’t love us or anything like that. Now I think God cannot not love us and He cannot be angry with us in the way we take anger to be. When we put our emotions at that level, we put them at the center of the universe and more than that, we put ourselves there as well.

I recommend today you watch the people around you and watch the people on the news or anywhere you see people talking. Watch and see how often thinking and feeling are confused. Once you start seeing it, it’s hard to unsee it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/7/2019

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

What are we to do with the disabled? Sometimes, churches don’t know how to handle people who are really different and have a disability. Some churches might not be accessible to people in a wheelchair. Some might not understand that greeting time could be horrible to someone who has a disability. While special education can be good for some, does it really help disabled kids to be set apart from all the other kids as if to say that they don’t belong?

And what about healing? What if churches treat disabled Christians as lesser Christians who need to have faith that they will be healed and don’t do anything else for them? What message does it send a disabled person if they are told the condition they have is a sign of their lack of trust in God or the judgment of God or something similar to that?

What about Jesus? Jesus regularly healed the disabled, but is that all? We can’t always do that, so what do we do to love like Jesus did? Did Jesus treat the disabled like second-class humans?

This Saturday, we will be discussing these kinds of questions. How do we follow the way of Jesus when dealing with people who have a disability? My guest is someone who does ministry with the disabled and has a keen interest in this question. She is the author of Disability and the Way of Jesus and her name is Bethany McKinney Fox.

So who is she?

According to her bio:

Bethany McKinney Fox is founding pastor of Beloved Everybody Church in Los Angeles and adjunct professor of Christian ethics at Fuller. She earned her PhD in Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological seminary, her MDiv at Columbia Theological Seminary, and her BA in Philosophy with a minor in Russian Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Her new book Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church (IVP Academic) examines how Jesus’ healing in the Gospels, too often used in ways that wound people with disabilities, might point a way toward real healing and mutual thriving. Dr. Fox is founding pastor of Beloved Everybody Church, a church startup where people with and without intellectual disabilities lead and participate together. She writes and speaks particularly on topics of disability, healing, and church practices to undergrad and graduate students, church leaders, and other people of faith around the country.

As readers of this blog know, disability is something near and dear to my heart. I hope you’ll be looking for this new episode too. We are working hard on getting all of them up for you as soon as we can.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Was Jesus Like?

Does it matter what Jesus would look like? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw a post made on Facebook meant to be an objection about how Christians here in the West at least have a white Jesus that they follow. Surely, Jesus was not like this. I happen to agree. I find it implausible to think of Jesus as a white man like myself and many people I know here in America.

But if you go to Africa, you will find a black Jesus. If you go to Asia, you will find an Asian Jesus. Jesus is often made in light of the people who worship Him in that area. We think Jesus is just like us.

Some of you might be thinking, “Great, but this doesn’t really have that much to do with apologetics.”

If we stay with race, maybe not, though in some contexts like the Nation of Islam it might matter, but what if we moved beyond race? What if we suggested that Jesus is not like our culture? Jesus is more like His culture than ours and perhaps our culture is in the wrong in some areas.

We have an idea of gentle Jesus meek and mild. With this, we often brush over that account of Jesus in the temple making a whip and throwing out the moneychangers. We have a Jesus who is more like Mr. Rogers and preaches kindness to anyone.

I have the same objection to this. Years ago I read Five Views on the Historical Jesus. I read Crossan talking about how Jesus saw John the Baptist get arrested and executed and toned His message down then. He chose to emphasize on goodness and brotherhood. Good message, but here was my problem with Crossan’s Jesus. He would never be crucified. He is not a threat to anyone.

The same with this gentle Jesus meek and mild. This Jesus is not a threat. No one would be rushing to shut Him down. Jesus got crucified because of what He said and did. You have to do or say something awfully drastic to be considered worthy of the cross by your enemies.

Jesus was someone the authorities in religion refused to ignore, and apparently they couldn’t. There was something about Him. His attitude had to be much more confrontational. Indeed, we see this in Matthew 24, which is another passage that many Christians seem to brush over.

Jesus also regularly used sarcasm. We don’t really like that. After all, how could Jesus really insult anyone, despite Him speaking negatively of His own disciples at times, using the term satan to refer to His main disciple. Jesus told it like it is many times.

Did Jesus practice love and kindness in the sense we understand them? Yes. He was that way towards those who were repentant. I would argue that Jesus was showing love towards the Pharisees He condemned, but it is a kind of tough love we don’t usually see as love today.

We have times in the Gospels where Jesus gets angry. This surprises us since surely the Son of God wouldn’t be angry. He was at times, and rightfully so. Some of us today have a problem with universally condemning hate. I don’t. There are some things you ought to hate. I hate sex trafficking. I hate child abuse. I hate rape. If I don’t hate these things, there’s something wrong with me.

A great danger with this is we have really domesticated Jesus. We have made Him into a tame lion that we can easily be with. He is now Buddy Jesus. Jesus is a friend? Okay. Don’t treat Him just like any other friend though. He’s radically different.

So maybe we should all step back. What is Jesus really like? What am I bringing into my culture and assuming is like Jesus? What are some things about my culture I have thought normative everywhere, but maybe aren’t? (Individualism anyone?)

If we think about Jesus and are not challenged and not shocked and not scandalized at times, perhaps we are not really thinking about Jesus. We are just thinking about an ideal of how we think Jesus should be. His race is interesting, but what He did and who He was even more so.

Try to think about Him today. I know I need to more as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Art of Falling in Love

What do I think of Joe Beam’s book published by Howard Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Joe Beam has an interesting story. He was married and then divorced his wife and got remarried. However, when he remarried, he remarried the woman he had divorced prior. In doing so, he has also spent years studying love and what it is and how one comes about falling in love.

Many of us have this idea from our culture that falling in love is just something that happens to you and you have no say in the matter. Many of us know the experience of falling in love. The problem is we don’t realize that we can do things to help us fall in love with another person. This is known as the Love Path.

The path starts with attraction. This is basic enough for us to understand. For many of us, this is how our relationship began. I remember in my men’s group a question being asked what first drew us to our wives. Now I didn’t see Allie in person first but talked to her and spoke about that, but many guys came out and pretty much talked about their wife’s body. That’s not a bad thing. That’s not a guy being a perv or objectifying a woman. That’s him being a man and knowing that a woman has a beautiful body and wanting to get to know her better. If after some time in a relationship the body was all that mattered to him still, there would be a problem, but it’s fine to start there.

This can also mean that in marriage still, we need to work on this. I have had to change my appearance in some ways since marrying for Allie’s sake. Many men and women sadly let themselves go after they marry. It’s the message of “I have them, so now I no longer have to try.” Sure, but that’s taking them for granted. Taking care of yourself to be attractive is showing love to your spouse as well.

The next step is acceptance. Attraction is never enough. Many of us guys have known being attracted to a woman and never doing anything with it and the relationship only exists in our own heads. When you act and speak to them, eventually both of you get to the place of acceptance where you decide to give one another a chance. Thus, the second place on the path is Acceptance.

After that comes Attachment. This is where you get more serious about your relationship. It could start with something like going steady. After that, you can get engaged and of course, get married. In this, you build a position where the other person becomes a more central part of your world.

Finally comes Aspiration. In this step, which is often neglected, both look at the dreams of one another and see what can best be done to meet those dreams. If the two contradict, as they often can, there is some compromise reached whereby both parties are happy.

There’s also something said on what love truly is. We often confuse it with what is called limerence. This is a super strong infatuation with another person you are not married to. When acted on, 99% of the time the limerence eventually fades and the person wakes up and says “What have I done?” Beam says marriages can recover from this and it is extremely common.

Falling in love is not just an emotional response. It’s a choice. It is a position of the will and a deliberate action that is done. I can say on my part my love for Allie has only grown over the years.

If you are in a marriage wanting to improve or needing to be saved, this is a very good book to get. I highly recommend it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Draw of Beauty

What role does beauty serve? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last week I didn’t blog due to the Thanksgiving holiday. We had someone who was super generous to us who paid for Allie and I go to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. We stayed there from Tuesday night to Thursday morning. We went on a boat ride in the hotel there and also went to the ICE program which had the movie A Christmas Story done in ice sculptures followed by a beautiful nativity scene done in ice.

The boat ride involved going through the hotel where there were several waterfalls and exotic plants. Our guide told us about so many of them and we were able to easily ride down the river that is inside the hotel. All of this leaves me thinking about the role of beauty.

We could say that all of this beauty is a draw to the customers and that would be something because there is no functional role to all of this other than that. Having a river in the hotel with exotic plants and waterfalls doesn’t improve the function of the hotel. It could possibly be said it creates more expense and leaves some other needs for the hotel that have to be maintained.

Yet this expense is probably worth it because it draws so many people in. We have this idea that it’s a waste to focus on making things beautiful. Think of the responses often given to the building of a magnificent cathedral, the one Bill Maher gives in Religulous. Couldn’t this have been given to the poor? What’s the point of all the grandeur and beauty?

The purpose is to draw us into the beauty of God. It is to leave us with awe. This is something I think we have missed in many of our churches today. I get that not everyone is going to come to a church that’s designed like a cathedral. I do think though that if we are presenting God, we need to make Him as beautiful as possible with what we have.

Consider also how this works with the opposite sex. Aside from men who are gay, we normally don’t say, “That is one good-looking guy. I want to get to know him better.” It is what we say with women. How many guys have wanted to get to know a girl and it has been started solely by her appearance? This is something that women know, but I don’t think they fully utilize to their advantages.

If you’re a single woman wanting to marry, let your beauty be a draw, because it will be, but don’t share all of that beauty until a wedding night. If a man is not willing to pursue you to that point, then he does not really want you for you. He wants your body mainly and he’s not willing to go the distance to prove he loves you.

For married women, you have a great power to enthrall and motivate your husbands. Even after decades of being married, many men are still enthralled by the beauty of their wives. I have been married nine years and the beauty of my own wife is still brand new. As someone with Aspergers, for years, people tried to get me to change my diet and I refused to budge. Allie did it and she didn’t even have to try. Why? Beauty. She is a motivation.

Let’s face it. If guys weren’t attracted to women, we really wouldn’t bother. We have to change so much of who we are and spend so much money and give so much of ourselves over and over. The relationship a man has with his wife is radically different from any relationship he has with a male friend. Why do we do it? Beauty. We want that beauty.

Our society knows this well. This is why we have a make-up industry. Beauty sells to people. Now I’m personally not a big fan of make-up, although there was a time recently Allie’s eyes were quite stunning with some, but some guys are. I also remember one time Allie wanted to get a dress that was on sale at Wal-Mart. I waited outside of the dressing room while she tried it on. When she came out, my jaw just dropped immediately. This was my wife? Seriously? She looked like she walked right out of a fashion magazine and it was incredible.

Maybe all this beauty doesn’t help the woman in any other way, but it does help her draw a man who will love her for her. Doubtless, it doesn’t really start that way, but it does change over time. Most of our loves start with selfish reasons. We want the other person for ourselves for some reason. In time, the habits we do to get that person end up changing us. Through the use of these habits, I now say easily I love Allie more than I did on our wedding day. Love has been a practice. It has been a choice.

Some people deny objective beauty. This is a ridiculous position. It means a stick figure drawn by a small child is more beautiful than the Mona Lisa. It means a pile of dung is beautiful just like a bouquet of flowers is. It means that nothing in this universe is truly beautiful. It is just an idea we have created and imposed on the universe. If such is the way we think, then be consistent and say nothing is truly beautiful, but I suspect many of us don’t want to do that.

I regularly give thanks for beauty. Being a married man, I particularly give thanks for the beauty of my wife and think that when God made women, He knew what He was doing and did it good. Beauty serves to draw us in and may it draw us into the beauty of God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters