Book Plunge: Torahism

What do I think of R.L. Solberg’s book published by Williamson College Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are many things that bring the Christmas season home to me and make the holiday so special. Getting to put up decorations, going out and looking for lights, getting together with friends and family and exchanging gifts, hearing Christians tell me that Christmas is pagan, good times. No holiday season ever seems complete without that last group showing up.

So it is that when R.L. Solberg had a friend say the same thing on Facebook, he engaged with the post and found himself caught up in something greater. As a result, he wrote Torahism asking if Christians are to keep the law of Moses? Torahism can often go beyond that as some people like this deny the Trinity and the deity of Christ and are definitely very anti-Catholic.

So looking at Solberg’s book, I’ll start with the things I liked about it and then suggest areas I’d like to see improved.

First, I’m glad that the book has been written. There are too many people who are Christians and not Torahists who also have questions about the Law of Moses. There are too many atheists that present the Law as if it was to be a perfect guide for all time and be the perfect moral system. Both need answers to their questions.

Second, the book is easy to understand. You don’t need to have a Seminary background to understand what is being said here. Solberg writes in simple language and does not use complex terminology.

Third, each chapter is stand alone so you can look at each section that is relevant to what you’re talking about and getting it from there. Of course, you could read straight through like I did, but it’s not necessary. The information is really easy to find.

So what we have is good, but there are some changes I would like to see Solberg make for future editions.

First, more engagement with the scholarship in the field, especially Old Testament scholars like John Walton, Tremper Longman, Michale Heiser, Walter Kaiser, and others. It would have been good to see what scholars in the field say about the Law. I am especially thinking about Walton’s book The Lost World of the Torah.

Second, in the section on the deity of Christ, I would have liked more answers on such questions like “How could Jesus die on the cross if God can’t die?” I would have liked to have seen more on the Trinity. With this, a work like How God Became Jesus would be great.

Third, one point I was surprised to not see mentioned was that of slavery. Would Torahists like to have some kind of system like this? Along those same lines, would Torahists be open to allowing a man to have more than one wife?

It is always good to see people filling a niche in the apologetics world. A group like the one called Torahism is one that needs some responding to. I am thankful Solberg took the time to answer them and I hope that there will be further expansion on this work.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Merry Christmas

How shall we spend this day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have many Christmas memories. When I was born, I grew up in a mobile home and since that was one story, my sister and I had to wait outside the living room until my parents said it was time to go into the room and each side of the couch had gifts for us. It was there one Christmas I got the original Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers 2, the latter of which my parents worked extensively to find a copy of asking all their friends to be on the lookout.

Eventually, we had our own house built which had two major stories and a garage. Now, my sister and I would wait upstairs until we could come downstairs. That was until 1994 when my sister got married. Most notable there was being given the gift of a car one year, which served me well and I used all through high school.

My first Christmas with Allie was actually where I had proposed to her on Christmas Eve. It was where I picked her up at the airport. If you know me on Facebook, you can read the story there. Now, I have spent a number of Christmases away from my own family.

The first one was an odd one. We spent it with Allie’s family and I just wasn’t in to it. Mike came to me and I hadn’t said anything, but he told me the first Christmas he spent with his in-laws, he was miserable. It was a switch being away, but I got used to it.

Before that, for Christmas Eve regularly in my family, we had two houses we would go to. The first was some friends and this was the first place in person I publicly ever announced my engagement to Allie. The second was my aunt Ruth’s. We would normally spend most of the night up until around midnight going around and opening gifts.

On Christmas Day, we would go over to my grandmother’s for some gifts there as well. Those two traditions have changed. My grandmother died in 2010 and my aunt died just this year. Traditions come and traditions go.

This Christmas? We’re going to the Orthodox Church first and then coming home. Allie is fixing some pumpkin spice bread to take over to her parents. Her hope this year is for a Nintendo Switch Lite from both of our parents. A couple years ago, someone gifted us with a regular Switch and we hope with the new one to be able to play the new Pokemon games together someone else gifted us with.

What has also changed for me is the focus of the holiday. I suppose I was like many other kids growing up. The real joy of the holiday was getting to get the gifts and I was thinking of my Christmas list. Nowadays, I have a hard time thinking of things I want for Christmas. Sometimes, just regular Amazon cards can work. Gifts are still nice, but it’s time with my family, especially my wife, that make the holiday.

I also much more understand the religious significance of the day. I understand more what makes Christianity special and why we celebrate today and what a difference Christ makes in one’s life. Naturally, my favorite memory now from this year is not a gift I got per se, but one that I gave, when I proposed to Allie.

Every year I know I write something on Christmas, but let’s face it. I’m not going to come up with some brand new insight on Christmas no one has ever had for all these centuries of Christianity. The best I can do is tell you a bit about my life with Christianity and what it means and hope it makes you think about what it means to you.

Merry Christmas!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Christmas Eve Thoughts

What does Christmas Eve mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The day before can be a day that really gets you anxious. I took an Ambien the night before my wedding and I think I still got only one hour of sleep. You can see a wedding picture of Allie drinking a five-hour energy in our wedding photos. We can also think about the day before a graduation service or even something like the day before a new movie comes out we want to see or a major sporting event or a book coming out or a game being released or anything like that.

What was it like the night before D-Day? How many soldiers went to sleep quite sure that it was the last time they would ever go to sleep? Many of them were right. The first several that came off of our vehicles were just fodder to shield the ones that came behind. How many were sure they would never see their wives and children again?

And what then was it like the day before Jesus was born? To be sure, we didn’t really know what was happening here, aside from Mary and Joseph. Still, the forces of darkness and the forces of light knew exactly what was happening. On this blog a few times, I have said my favorite account of the Christmas story is actually found in Revelation 12.

We come together and celebrate this time as a happy and joyous time, and we should, but the original wasn’t so. Mary and Joseph were away from home and giving birth in a place where animals ate. Much later, the wise men come and then Herod comes after that wanting to kill all the young boys so he can make sure he has thwarted prophecy and killed the Messiah. (Real good thinking Herod. A God who can see the future would obviously not foresee what you were doing.)

Christmas was really a declaration of war and if that’s the case, then this day is battle preparation. It is getting set for the war. As Christians, we are to believe that there are dark powers out there that want to harm us. We can have different views on how active they are now, but they were certainly very active in the time of Jesus.

Today, the war has been ultimately won, but there are still skirmishes going on and still holdouts to the cause. I often compare it to the Matrix. Often, the ones we are fighting against are also the ones that we are fighting for.

We should celebrate Christmas this year, but let’s not forget everything that happened in the first Christmas. It was a battle. Let’s be prepared for ours today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Christmas Is Not For The Deserving

Who is Christmas for? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, we spent Christmas with my in-laws. We did it then because my brother-in-law is a firefighter who has to work on Christmas Day. While over there, Allie and I started talking about what we got our cat Shiro for Christmas. I joked that he shouldn’t be getting anything because he hasn’t been good enough. Allie said, “Good thing Christmas isn’t for those who deserve it.”

That’s a very simple comment, and I am sure it was said offhand, but it was full of great insight. It’s true. Christmas is not for people that deserve it. Christmas is for those who are very undeserving.

We sometimes miss this. You see, when we give gifts, we usually give gifts to people that we know. We rarely buy gifts for strangers. I think we should consider that more often. Buy a stranger lunch or dinner at a restaurant. Pay someone’s electric bill. Get a jacket for someone who is cold.

When it comes to the first Christmas, the only one who deserved the gifts that were given was the one who was born. Only Jesus deserved the gold, frankincense, and Myrrh. No one else deserved a gift. The shepherds didn’t deserve to hear the message. The wise men didn’t deserve it. Not even Mary and Joseph deserved it.

God gave us all a gift that we didn’t deserve. He gave us the gift of Himself. We should not think that God came because we were worthy. God didn’t look for the best people that He could find. There were none to be found. He didn’t come to the Jews because the Jews were just so awesome and the Romans were just bullies. We know Jesus didn’t care too much for the leaders of the Jews after all.

If Jesus had only come to a people that deserved Him, He would have never come at all. Scripture tells us in Romans that while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us. The point is that if God does good things for us while we are opposed to Him, will He not be that much more willing when we submit to Him?

Why should we give gifts? Because God gave us a gift. We give to show our love just like God gives to show His love.  This is also why we should consider giving gifts to those who don’t deserve it. If you give gifts to those who love you, what benefit is that to you? Even skeptics and pagans are kind to those who are kind to them.

This Christmas, try to love like God, which is what you’re called to do anyway. Show love to those less fortunate than you and even those you do not know. It doesn’t mean be reckless with your money and resources, but it does mean to give generously.

I’ll also be celebrating the gifts that I have been given. We’ve had some people who have been extremely generous with us. Someone gave us a Nintendo Switch, someone else gave us some extra games,  and my in-laws gave me a memory card to download those extra games and a new controller so Allie and I can play together. I will be enjoying these gifts. May I remember those who gave them to me.

And when I celebrate the coming of the Christ, may I remember who gave that gift to me as well.

Merry Christmas.

Even though we don’t deserve it.

Christmas Eve

What’s important about today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christmas Eve has always been a special day for me. Growing up, it was the day the extended family all got together. We would often stay up till midnight at my aunt’s house opening gifts with all of the extended family. That no longer goes on and some of the family have died, such as my grandmother and uncle.

Of course, none of this compares to nine years ago. It was on that day on Christmas Eve that I made one of the best decisions of my life. I got down on bended knee to the girl I had been dating and asked her to marry me. As you know, she said yes. The day was spent showing her ring to everyone we met. For some of them, this was the first time they got to meet Allie.

Nowadays, we spend Christmas Eve at different places. One year, we will go to see my family for Christmas. The next year, we will spend it with hers. We alternate Thanksgiving the same way.

Christmas seems like such a happy time. Right? We all get together and celebrate and give out gifts. We celebrate that there is hope in this world.

But Christmas Eve should remind us that Jesus came into this world not because it was full of hope, but because it had no hope. Jesus did not come because the world was such a wonderful place, but because it was such a terrible place. Jesus did not come because men were so wonderful, but because men were so awful.

On Christmas Eve, we should remember that Israel was in a place where there was no light. They were in their land, but under the most powerful empire of all. Rome could have beat Assyria and Babylon multiple times over when both of them were at their prime. How could a tiny nation in the Middle East hope to have any impact?

And yet the hope Israel thought it needed was not the hope it got. This is a mistake that we can often make too. We think that if God wants to come through for us, well, we know the way that He should come through. We know what our true need is. We know what is best. Reality check. We don’t.

Israel thought what was best was a political dynasty set up again. Put a king on the throne here on Earth and have him help defeat the Roman Empire and return Israel to the days of David. That was not what God had in mind. God had something greater in mind and yet, now we see that the Roman Empire is no longer here. It was conquered, but not by the sword, but by the love of Christ. Today, we name our children Peter and Paul and name our dogs Nero and Caesar.

Many of us today are truly in Christmas Eve. We are in a world where there seems to be no hope. We also think that we know what we need and that God will come through or we hope He will come through the way we expect.

Christmas Eve should show us God can blow apart our ideology and theology. No theologian of the time was expecting God to be incarnate as a little baby. He was.

He ended up giving us something better for Christmas than what we were asking. God’s greatest gift was not a dynasty being set up. It was Himself. On Christmas Day, God begins the process of giving Himself to the world.

Maybe it’s time we drop our expectations of what God should do. Just let Him do what He will do. He knows best anyway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Gift of Generosity

Can you do a lot of good with wealth? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have lately been blessed by generous people. Some of you know that just earlier this month, we were given a Nintendo Switch by a friend who heard that I wished I could give Allie one for Christmas and couldn’t. He also gave us some games with it.

Last night, I was talking to a friend about how I had asked my in-laws for some games for it through Christmas. After all, I get books through publishers now and I get plenty of them so there’s not much need to ask for the latest. This friend decided to just gift me the games and gift me the bonus packs with them. My in-laws were concerned about what they could get me after hearing that, but I told them something else that was recommended. I think it’s all good.

I don’t like not being able to provide at all, but it is teaching me a lot about what it means to be generous. Generous people have always been people I have admired, and even more so now. Allie and I have agreed that if we ever get to a point where we can be financially stable, we want to be doing the same thing.

In the early years of Smallville, for example, I always admired Lex Luthor. Before he became a villain in the series, he was the best friend of Clark Kent and would give anything he could to help someone out. Sure that even then he had his dark side he was trying to fight against, but I could not help but just like him.

Whatever you may think of him politically, I have heard Sean Hannity say on the air that whenever he’s in a restaurant and police officers come in, he always picks up the tab for them. Again, this is something that I would love to be able to get to do. It is also one of those joys of doing something anonymously and not letting anyone else know.

And when you don’t have much, even a gift that could seem like a little thing to you seems like a big deal to those who get it. They’re a sign of hope. They’re a sign that someone cares. A true gift shows that you are not alone.

We are at Christmastime and this is a great time to give. There are so many children out there that won’t be able to have Christmas unless someone is generous with them. There are many families in your area that could bear a little something for Christmas. Even if it’s inviting a poor family over for dinner, do your part.

Also, for us, end of the year giving is upon us. Please really consider it. As I said, it’s a message of hope for us. Anytime I see a donation come in for us, it gives me some hope in the way the world is. The same happens with reviews of my podcast on iTunes. It’s great to know you people like us and believe in this work and support what we can do.

Please consider being generous this Christmas with all those in need. It means more than you can imagine.

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/8/2018: Richard Shenk

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

A little over 2,000 years ago, a young Jewish woman was approached by the angel Gabriel and told that she would give birth to a son who would be named Jesus. She was told some of the great wonders about who this child would be. The woman was named Mary. What made the event so interesting was that Mary was a virgin and she conceived while she was a virgin.

So goes the story of the virgin birth, which I do affirm. This is the story that begins the account of Christmas. The story is meant to be good news for the world, but is it really? What makes the virgin birth such a big deal? Is it even an accurate account? Is the virgin birth just God pulling a neat trick to show what He can do? Was it a way to protect Jesus from unnecessary defilement?

To answer these questions, I’m bringing on someone else who also affirms the virgin birth, which I do affirm. He affirms it so much he wrote the book The Virgin Birth of Christ. He will be my guest to discuss how it is that we believe in this doctrine and then more importantly, what a difference it makes. His name is Richard Shenk.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Wheaton College (BS – Physics-Bible; 1979)
    Engineering-Physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Lab (1979-1986)
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (MDiv;1984)
    Pastor with Baptist General Conference; Ogallala, NE, 1986-1991); Mundelein, IL, 1992-2007)
    Pastor with Evangelical Free Church; Maple Plain, MN (2007-2018)
University of Wales, Lampeter (PhD; 2008)
    Adjunct Professor, Theology; Bethlehem College & Seminary (2009-2017)
    Assistant Professor, Theology; Bethlehem College & Seminary (2017-present)
Dr. Shenk and I will be starting with a discussion, since this is an apologetics podcast, about the case for the virgin birth, which I do affirm. Isn’t it a mark of incredulity to believe in such a thing? Is this doctrine really a doctrine that divides the lines of battle as it were? Why is it seen as such a shibboleth in the world today?
Then we’ll be discussing reasons given for what a difference it makes that are not really plausible. Was this done to avoid sexual lust conceiving Jesus? Was it done because sin passes down through the paternal line and therefore Jesus needed to not have a human male father to avoid having a sinful nature? What is wrong with these ideas?
We’ll also discuss ideas such as the prophecy of Jeconiah and how he would be childless and what a difference that makes. We’ll discuss why adoption should matter to Christians. We’ll also be talking about how the virgin birth shows that God is active in the world and we’ll discuss how God is going to bring about a new birth for us. The doctrine is far more multi-faceted than is realized.
I hope you’ll be looking for this next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review. You all know by now that I love to see them!
And of course, I affirm the virgin birth.
In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Virgin Birth of Christ

What do I think of Richard Shenk’s book on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) published by Paternoster books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Readers of my work and friends of mine know that one of my favorite subjects to refer to is the virgin birth and about my constant statement about affirming the virgin birth, which I do affirm. I figured it was about time I did a podcast on the topic and that I called in someone who would do that. A quick search on Amazon led me to this book by Richard Shenk.

The virgin birth, as Shenk points out, is often a shibboleth of sorts. It’s a test. It’s where the battle lines are drawn. For Christians, the virgin birth is a sort of test of orthodoxy. Once that one falls, so many other pillars will just start falling. For atheists and non-Christian skeptics, it’s a test of incredulity. The virgin birth is obviously something stupid to believe.

That last part is, of course, ridiculous. I often like to ask skeptics about this who claim we know so much better in the age of science, at what point in history did men and women realize there was a connection between sex and babies? Believe it or not, we knew it pretty early on in our history. Joseph was not a biologist and we know a whole lot more about pregnancy than they did back then, but he knew enough to know what it took to make a baby and he knew he hadn’t done that.

Shenk says that this is one of the first great gifts of the virgin birth. It blows right through naturalism if true. It shows that God has acted in the world in a unique miracle.

Yet there’s more. We want to know why a virgin birth took place. For many of the church fathers, there were two reasons. One is to avoid Jesus being born of concupiscence. Many of you might not be familiar with that word. Fortunately, he tells us what it is. On p. 33, he refers to an evil concupiscence as the fulfilling of evil desires. For some in the early church, sex was purely for procreation. To use sex for other reasons was to give heed to evil desires.

We can’t have Jesus come that way, but such a view does not find a home in the Scriptures. How can you have such a view when Paul says in 1 Cor. 7 that married couples ought not to abstain from sex for a time except for prayer and by mutual consent and even then for a short time only. Nothing at all says, “Come together and have sex only when you want children.” Sex is presented as a great good throughout the Bible to be enjoyed by husband and wife.

Well, maybe it’s to avoid original sin. Still, there’s nothing in the Scriptures that really demonstrates that sin passes down through a paternal line. It’s an interesting theory, but Shenk doesn’t think it holds up.

Yet there’s also another problem with Jesus’s birth. What about the sin of Jeconiah? He was said that he would be childless and his descendants would not rule? I personally think this applied to only his immediate descendants and that we see a reversal in Haggai 2 when Zerubbabel is given the signet ring to show ruling again, but Shenk works with this to argue a virgin birth helps bypass that. It’s a long theory and best explained by reading the book. There’s also a theory that God chose this route to hide from the devil who the seed would be in Genesis 3:15. I’m not convinced, but it is interesting.

Shenk says one real purpose of the virgin birth is to show that Jesus is fully God and fully man. If Mary had not known a man and gave birth, then this is showing that this is no ordinary child. This child can truly be said to be conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Shenk also compares old creation and new creation at this point. In Genesis 1, the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters preparing for God to act in the world. In the birth of Jesus, the Holy Spirit overshadows Mary preparing for the new birth of the Messiah in her.

Many church fathers and Catholics see the relation between Eve and Mary as well. This is a reversal in that Mary succeeds where Eve fails. The information on 2 Timothy 2:11-15 is quite fascinating at this point and worth considering for those who read it. Basically, Shenk thinks that Paul is seeing Mary as redeeming the mistake of Eve and thus restoring honor to the women.

There’s also the honor of adoption. Joseph is an adopted father of Jesus in the text and this is the method used by God to get Jesus into the royal lineage. Adoption is something that we should be concerned about in an age of abortion.

And finally, there is also our virgin birth. Oh not that we will be physically conceived without the help of a man and a woman together, but that we will be conceived spiritually not that way, but by a new birth in Christ. Christ gives us a new birth without the aid of our parents at all, though of course parents can help, but they are not essential to a child becoming a Christian. The virgin birth reminds us that a birth from above is given to all of us in Christ.

This book will give you a newfound appreciation of the virgin birth. It is also a relatively short book. There is a slight section on perpetual virginity, but aside from that even most Catholics and Orthodox I think could appreciate it.

And of course, I affirm the virgin birth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Gift Of Generosity

Does it matter if you’re generous? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you know that my wife and I are poor. I was recently sharing at a men’s group at my church about this. I had said my wife wanted to get a Nintendo Switch, but it costs too much and even too much as a Christmas gift. It couldn’t be done. This was said because we were talking about coveting and wanting things you can’t have.

We’ve had a surprise from that recently. Someone in the group really was alert when I said that and told my wife they were going to buy us one and asked what games we wanted. It’s in our living room right now. We got it yesterday. This same person also has a wife who teaches dance and is willing to get Allie into the class so she can learn it as she wants to lose weight that way.

We have another friend who upon hearing that we were going to be getting the Switch offered to give us a game of our choice. It has been one we have been spending time enjoying. I have been marveling over this lately. Gifts aren’t my love language, but they do mean something to me.

For the Switch, I saw this person in church yesterday with their wife and kids and I talked to him and his wife about what it meant after the service. Here they have Christmas coming up and kids that will be needing to go to college and so many other things, and they went out and did something like this for our Christmas hardly knowing us at all.

We were told that he grew up in a place (I won’t say where, as I want to keep him anonymous) where there was great poverty and his mother had to walk half a mile from the house and half a mile back regularly just to get water to bathe the children. It told me he had seen that poverty and understood what it meant when someone was in that.

Around here, we have someone on the local radio station who has a drive to help out foster kids at Christmas to make sure that they all get gifts for Christmas. It’s a wonderful cause, but here’s the thing. I understand he’s Jewish. While he could be Messianic, if he’s not even a Christian but providing so kids can have a good Christmas, shouldn’t we who are followers of Jesus do that?

Christians are to be generous people. Scripture tells us that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. Don’t you want to be someone the Lord loves? My wife and I don’t have much, but we try to give what we can because we know there are definitely people worse off than we are.

Now this is concerning money, but there are other gifts you can give. You can give the gift of your time. You can give the gift of service. You can give the gift of listening.

You can also give to those who are close to you. Don’t take for granted they know how much you mean to them. They might not. Sometimes someone might be helped if you just pick up the phone and call them and ask how they’re doing. Take them out to lunch or something of that sort. It doesn’t even have to be a fancy place. Some people would be fine just being taken out to fast food just so they could talk to someone.

Gifts like this can give hope. As I thought about this gift this friend had given us, it really made me think there could be more hope than I realized. The church has already been generous to us and maybe there was something more we could do then. Just yesterday I got to teach a class on apologetics and it was such a thrill. Someone said afterward they would like to see a small group started.

Christians are to be giving people because we have been given so much. Hugh Ross has been on my show a number of times and he has said at one point that it has been said that Christians have enough resources to fulfill the Great Commission in five years. I can believe it. Why isn’t it fulfilled? It’s not a priority to us.

Christmas time is here and it is the season of giving. When you’re giving, please also consider with end of the year giving a donation to Deeper Waters. Make your donation through Risen Jesus and let me or my wife know or my in-laws so that we can make sure we will get the donation. It is tax-deductible that way.

Please pause today to consider how you could give to someone. To you, it might be a small thing. To them, it might be everything.

And oh yes, to the two I’ve mentioned about who have been so generous to us….

Thanks. We are blessed to have friends like you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Ordinary

What can be said? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Every blogger wants to have a successful blog. Every blogger wants to be able to say something that will stick in the minds of his readers. As I drove back this Christmas, I was trying to think of something I could say. Driving for awhile can be quite stressful, and I didn’t really have anything.

You see, I’d like to say that in my life I come across amazing new Biblical insights every day. I don’t. I’d like to say that constant wonders and joys are happening. They’re not. Things can be pretty ordinary, and perhaps that is my misreading things. Chesterton did say that an inconvenience is an adventure wrongly understood.

We were running behind on getting home tonight so we went ahead to the Celebrate Recovery meeting. There, I was with a group of guys sharing their stories. It occurred to me that they’re the same way, especially since we were talking about comparisons tonight. These are ordinary guys living their lives.

And as I thought about it, this is also what happened at Christmas. God did not come to the extraordinary. Look at Luke’s Gospel. He starts off his second chapter talking about government officials and naming them as having a census. Then what is the action all about? This little ordinary guy named Joseph who has a pregnant girl he’s going to marry. Now of course, there is the miracle that this is the case of a virgin birth (Which I do affirm), but looking at them, they weren’t stand-outs. There’s no reason God should have picked them.

Then consider chapter 3. Numerous political figures are described and yet at that time, what stands out? The Word of the Lord came to John the Baptist in the wilderness. God bypassed all of them. Look at his parents in chapter 1. They lived with shame all their lives and then in the end, God reversed that. They were the parents of John the Baptist. We don’t know who their mockers were today, but we know who they were.

Skeptics often ask where God is with this strange idea that if God acts, it must always be a miracle. Why? Does God really care about showing off? Consider Elijah on the run from Jezebel. A lot of people look at the story as if it’s supposed to tell us how to hear God’s voice today. It’s not. That’s a horrid misreading of the text. The point is all these amazing things happen, and God appears in something calm and simple.

And you know, maybe, just maybe, the modus operandi hasn’t changed. Yesterday, I wrote about revolution. No doubt, there will be people who stand up and get recognized in this revolution, but maybe a lot of people will take part in it by being good husbands and wives, or being good parents, or good employees, or something like that, and sharing Christ with the people that they meet. In our day and age, it can be counter-cultural just to live a moral life. Maybe those people will make the difference the most.

Maybe I’m mistaken, but until then, that’s what we’re all told to do. Love our neighbors as ourselves and love God. Those two commandments are enough to keep us busy for the rest of our lives.

Maybe Christmas also is a good time to do that. Maybe Christmas is a time to make sure we let those around us know we love them. We never know if they’ll be there for the next Christmas after all. Love them today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters