Why I Read Marriage Books

With so much in apologetics to study, why study marriage? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I love having a Kindle. It’s a wonderful gift. It’s especially helpful when Allie wants to go to bed at an early time and wants me nearby, but I still want to read. I just get in and use a light dimmer and read my Kindle. Since mine is a Fire, it also works as a portable office.

I also am quite frugal so I subscribe to email lists about discount and free books related to Christian interests of mine. One of those is books on marriage. Sometimes, I will get one and read through it. I take my time normally and read only a chapter a day. Other books I go through quickly, but on these I try to go much more steadily.

But why? There is so much to keep up with in the world of apologetics. There are so many debates to prepare for. How is it that I am bettering the world by reading a book on marriage?

It’s because despite what people will tell you, marriage is work. Anything worthwhile is. I work at my marriage because it’s one of the greatest gifts I have. I want to know how to be the best at this relationship. The better my relationship with my wife is, the better everything else is in this world.

I think also this is important for our marriage debates today. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t work on showing that marriage is a man and a woman for life, but I think the reason the world denounces marriage is in many ways, we did it first. Sure, the divorce rate is not as high among committed Christians as the world would have you believe, but it is still there.

What we need to do is treat marriage like a treasure. Some of the best evangelism that you can do starts in your own home. If you cannot show love to your immediate family, it’s going to be hard to show the rest of the world that you have love for them. Love begins at home.

I also tell people in ministry that if you are a great debater, a great apologist, you can answer every question, and you write excellent bestsellers, but you fail to be a spouse to your spouse and a parent to your children, then I count you as a failure in ministry. Your family should have no justifiable doubt on where they stand with you.

We all know one of the benefits of marriage is sex, and this is another way that the church can do better. If you watch media, you will think the world has the better deal. Couples fall in love and have sex constantly and there’s never anything afterwards that goes wrong directly related to sex. Those of us who are married know better.

Sex itself takes work, but it’s worth it. In fact, we as Christians should be living out the best sex lives. It should be that if people want the idea of what a truly awesome sex life looks like, they should look to their Christian friends. It’s our God who made this gift. Why should we not be the ones celebrating it?

My working on marriage is because of how much my own wife means to me. My wife is a sacred gift and she entrusts me also with a very sacred gift, herself. If I have such a great gift as that, why should I not want to work on it and improve it? My marriage should never suffer because I have an apologetics ministry.

And your relationships shouldn’t suffer for ministry either.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Christianity Is Not About You

What is the focus of Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In America, we have entered into a very me-centered time and this has entered into our Christianity. Yesterday, I shared a video with a lady talking about the solar eclipse and all her dreams and everything with it. While she is one who is quite exceptional with thinking these dreams are all from God, she’s the one speaking out the most about so many people who do XYZ because they think God is telling them to do something or God is leading them to do something without any Biblical mandate on seeing if this is how God communicates.

That is a very dangerous place to be because if you think God is telling you something, then you cannot be wrong. How can you listen to possible rebuke and concern? I would hope readers of my blog would recognize I have studied and take what I say seriously by all means, but please do not ever treat me like I cannot be wrong. I most assuredly can be and have been.

Yesterday, my wife also had someone message her about how they thought God had given them some verses for their ministry. The sad reality was that these verses were all about Jesus, except, well, they got a new referent. It’s pretty amazing to see that we can go through the Bible and look for verses that are about us, not in the sense of being a part of the people of God, but that God wrote something for us individually.

This could also be contributing to our marriage problems in our culture today. There are sad times when I think a couple should really divorce, such as when a husband is being abusive and won’t stop, but even then, divorce should be seen as a sad tragedy. It’s a tragedy to think that someone broke a lifelong covenant made before God and man so badly that one person had to leave for their own safety. It’s sad to think someone promised sexual fidelity to one person but gave themselves up to another. That’s all sad.

The saddest part is many times, divorce is not often for those reasons. It’s more being done because the other person isn’t making me happy and doing enough for me. This is a relationship where we are supposed to learn how much we can give for another, and yet we use it just as much to seek our own well-being. Ideally, in marriage, both persons are making sure their spouse’s true needs and desires are being met in a proper way. If that is so, then both people will get what they want.

Suppose one person isn’t doing their part? It’s always amazing that we tend to think that means we don’t have to do ours. God will not hold you accountable for what someone else did or didn’t do. You are held accountable for what you do.

The problem with making ourselves so often the focus is that it’s really hard to get away from that and everything is interpreted about reality through us. That will also downplay the love of God in us. How could God not love us? I mean, we’re just that awesome. Right?

Scripture tells us the opposite. We were the enemies of God. God doesn’t love us just because we’re just so awesome, but because He’s so awesome. Anyone can love someone who’s completely lovable. It’s loving someone who is unlovable that is true love, and we are all many times unlovable.

We all have our own sins and failures. Last night, my wife and I were talking with someone about marriage. One thing I brought up was that my wife and I each have things about each other that we wish the other would work on. I said that if we got these worked out completely and they never came up again, does that mean we’d have a perfect marriage? No. There will always be a new issue. We are all fallen human beings and we will not achieve perfection in this life.

If anything, this should humble us. That means we will always need grace. There will never be a time that we don’t need God. There will never be a time when we earn love and grace. It will always be a gift.

One of the most humbling things I’ve come to realize is that. Aside from what He promised He would do for me in the covenant, God doesn’t owe me anything. If He doesn’t owe me anything, then everything else He gives me is a gift. My spouse is a gift. My income is a gift. My talents and abilities are a gift. The land I live in is a gift. My friends are a gift. My very life and breath is a gift.

Wouldn’t the great tragedy be if I wasn’t thankful for these things? Romans 1 tells us this actually. One of the great sins of mankind is that they did not give thanks to God. They acted like it was something they were, dare I say it, entitled to.

If you are doing a ministry, and much more of it is about you than it is about Jesus, you’re not doing it right. Those of us who are in ministry need to realize that we are not essential. God can get His word out without us and if something happens to us, God’s ministry will still get along just fine. We are not the focal point of the universe.

Live your life then dying to yourself and giving of yourself to those around you. We are all tempted to look out for ourselves, but in the way of the cross that cannot be done. Had Jesus taken that route, you and I would have no hope. We are to continue the ministry of Jesus who gave Himself for the world so that they could come to know God. We must give ourselves to those around us as well.

It’s about Him. It’s not about you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Your First Ministry

Where does your Christian service begin? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this post, I’m mainly writing to my fellow apologists, but I think what I say applies to every field of ministry. Also, I will be using male pronouns throughout and such, but if you’re a woman, just find the counterpart. It will apply to you just as much.

In apologetics, it’s understandable that you have to be specially equipped. You have to spend that time in study and there are those debates that you have to attend to. That happens. I have the same situation. I read my books as much as I can. I want to be able to answer as much as I can.

We also know that what we do, well, we do for God. There should be no question about that. We are not in the ministry for ourselves. We are in it for the cause of a  greater good. God is not a means to the success of our kingdoms. We are a means to the success of His.

Despite all of this, many of could still be failures in ministry. I have something specific in mind for a failure in ministry. This is someone who no matter how good they do in the apologetics field, even if they’re someone like the next William Lane Craig, they have failed their first ministry.

That ministry is their family.

Now I know some of you might say “Well Jesus said if we do not hate our families, we cannot be His disciples.” We all know that means that the Kingdom has to come before our families, yes. If we rank our priorities, the Kingdom is our first priority. Still, that doesn’t mean we abandon our family responsibilities for the Kingdom. This is said in passages such as Jesus talking to the Pharisees about eating with unwashed hands or in Paul’s talking in 1 Tim. 3 about the requirements of a deacon and one being that they lead their own families.

You see, if you’re in apologetics, there are plenty of other people that can take the work for you if you need a break. I don’t debate on Sundays for instance. It’s just a day to recharge. On those days, I don’t worry. There are plenty of other people who can do apologetics meanwhile. I don’t have to jump into every debate I see. There are other people who can handle debates.

Despite all that I do, there is only one person who can be a husband to Allie, and that is me. So it is for all of you out there. Only one person can be a husband to your wife and only one person can be a father to your children. You don’t want to risk that role going to another man because you shirked your responsibilities.

I encourage men for instance when they get married, go on your honeymoon and take no book with you except your Bible for daily reading with your spouse, not for academic reading for yourself. Do not do Facebook or email while there. The world can wait. This time should be devoted to your spouse and the rest of the world can wait.

Now, of course, there will be valid exceptions. If you’re on your honeymoon and you meet someone who just wants to know how to be a Christian or you encounter someone who is suicidal, by all means, do your Christian duty, but don’t be seeking it out. These kinds of exceptions apply across the board, but don’t be looking for them.

Please never ever forget this. Your marriage should be your first priority and dare I say it, it is more important even than your children. One of the best gifts you can give your children is a good marriage. In fact, don’t hesitate to gross the kiddies out. Let them see you two kissing together.

Some of you who follow me on Facebook know that every day, except Sunday, I’m posting something about how much Allie means to me. Why do I do this? Because it’s my belief that a husband and wife should have Facebook pages that others can be clear about their love for their spouse. If you come to my page, I want you to know how much Jesus means to me and I want you to know how much Allie means to me.

So my friends, please do the work and study hard and learn all you can, but remember, if you have a family, do not neglect them. You have a work with them that no one else can do. Your family is your first ministry.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

AWA 2016

What were some observations I made at AWA 2016? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last weekend, I was with my wife Allie at Anime Weekend Atlanta. Anime for those who don’t know is a style of Japanese cartoon, usually based on their form of comic books called Manga. At these conventions, you’ll find many people of all ages. Many of them are dressed in costumes as their favorite characters called Cosplay.

A lot of the Christian world looks down on this form of entertainment. To be sure, not all of it is good. There are pornographic animes and ones with heavy occult themes. That’s the same with our cartoons over here. I am not going to say everything in the anime world is good, but I am not going to say it’s all evil either.

What I will say is that there are plenty of people in this world who don’t care about the occult or anything like that, but just like to enjoy a good story of good vs evil and other such material. Since my wife likes it so much, we will often sit on the couch and pull up YouTube on the TV and watch an episode together. I prefer usually one episode at a time of a series. I really don’t care for binge watching.

I’m also thankful that there are Christians in the field. You can find an excellent interview with voice actor Vic Mignogna on this. (Incidentally, Allie and I enjoyed meeting him this week and I also enjoyed meeting Johnny Yong Bosch, the second black power ranger in the series and yes, he did say for me “It’s morphin time!”) Vic points out what it’s been like interacting with people at these conventions and he’ll even have worship services there. He also has defended them before street preachers, which you can see here.

There are of course non-Christians. One actor at an event told about getting started in the acting field by doing a job where they played as a gypsy giving fake readings at a business meeting for fun. Later on, she talks about getting into Tarot Cards and giving readings and about thanking the universe and how your thoughts attract things to you. I was trying to be respectful, but it sure was difficult sitting there hearing this and Allie and I just looked at each other and we knew what each other was thinking. If I could have asked something it would have been “What were the Jews thinking about that led to the holocaust?” Of course, I didn’t. I still admire their work, but not their worldview.

Something else revealing was a panel that we went to called Ask An Anime Character. There’s a screen upfront and listed on it are fifteen anime characters. Their voice actors are off to the side and you get to ask them questions and then they’ll be a lot of interaction after that. It’s quite humorous, but there was something that happened that showed me what was going on.

A lot of people, notably women, would ask a question like “Would you go to prom with me?” or “Would you tell me I’m beautiful?” or “Could you call me your Princess today?” I told Allie that I thought it was awfully sad, but at the same time I wonder if these girls are asking for this because they have been rejected by so many. They just want someone to publicly tell them they’re beautiful.

That’s something you see at these conventions. A lot of people are there who to others are rejected and not accepted. At an anime convention, they’re more free to be themselves. My own wife even was happier at the convention. I wonder why these people don’t feel as free and safe in a church? Now of course, the church should be a place where people who are living sinful lives won’t be coddled, but look at Jesus. How many times were sinners afraid to come to Him? He never coddled them either. He never said sin was no big deal. He spoke the strongest words against it of all, but He had the greatest love for the sinners. If Jesus visited AWA (And people knew it was Him and not a cosplay) would they be scared of Him or would they actually want to be around Him?

It’s my sincere hope the church will find ways to interact with people everywhere. If Paul can go to Mars Hill, can’t we reach people here? We should also celebrate Christians in the field and hope that they can reach many more people. People at these conventions are people who also need Jesus after all. Who will bring Him to them?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Audience Participation Needed

Are you really playing your part? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re a sports fan, chances are you’ve gone to a stadium or similar venue and seen a game before. At the end of the game, you go home. You might buy some memorabilia or if possible get some autographs but other than that, your part is done. You can easily imagine doing the same if you attend a concert of your favorite band sometime. Another place you can picture your part being done is when you attend the Sunday service at your local church.

Wait. That last one doesn’t fit.

Unfortunately, too many Christians do think that they’re doing their full duty by attending a church service. Some think they’ve upped their duty by attending Bible Study as well. Believe it or not, while many of us hold to the spiritual gifts, there is not a spiritual gift of “Keeping a seat warm in a church.”

Many of you are looking at the world around you and wondering where things went wrong. If you are wondering that, then look in your mirror. That is where you will find the problem. What has gone wrong in our world is not that the world has been the world. That’s what we would expect. What has gone wrong is that the church has not been the church. A large part of it is this idea that we don’t want to offend anyone because if we offend people, well we’re not really showing them the love of Jesus.

You know, the Jesus who called out his opponents in public, shamed them greatly, called them broods of vipers and white-washed tombs, and was such a challenge to that culture that they ended up crucifying Him.

That Jesus.

Too many of us treat Christianity like a spectator sport and our duty is to go to church and then be a good person. (Because you know, so many people in this world avoid the goal of being a good person.) If you think you’re really contributing to the cause of Christ if you do those two things, quite frankly, you’re not. Many people also have an idea that they just need to worry about themselves and their children and forget the rest of the world. You also are part of the problem.

If you were a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc. you would be one constantly. You would seek to live in a way that conformed to your political beliefs and many of you would want to be informed on your beliefs. You would not be one of those just one day a week. If you were a vegan or a vegetarian, you would not lose sight of that if you went to a restaurant. You would remember what you eat and don’t eat and act accordingly. If you’re a husband or a wife, you are not those one day of the week. You are them every day. (And I fear many treat their marriages as a case of giving the bare minimum.) If you’re a parent, you are not a parent just one day of the week. You are constantly a parent.

And yet, Christianity is supposed to be the most important commitment in your life and so many people give it less attention than all of the above.

So what can you do?

Here are some steps.

First off, support. Give your support to the people who need and deserve it. Let’s start with your pastor. Believe it or not, being a pastor really is a hard job, that is, if you’re doing it right. You have administrative duties of the church, budgets to work on, counseling to have to give, preparation all week for a sermon, your own personal study, taking care of your family, and your own spiritual life has to be fed. You know how rare it is to get appreciation as a pastor? That’s why I’ve made it a note to let my pastor know that I appreciate him from time to time. Do it every week and it will likely become something expected. Just out of the blue though, send an encouraging email to your pastor and let him know you appreciate him. It could be the boost that he needs in the day.

This also applies to the people you respect in other fields. There are many of us who look at certain people that we interact with as valuable ones in what we do, and we so rarely take the time to thank them for what they have done in our lives. Don’t assume that it is known. It might not be known. Even if it is known, that little note that shows up from time to time is quite a boost. (I in fact have followed the advice of my own pastor and made a folder called “encouragement” where I put encouraging notes and emails and such that I get so that when I get in a slump later on, I can review them.)

Second, give. There are many ways that you can give. Don’t stop with the bare minimum. First off, give to your local church. They’re trying to serve Christ in your community. Next, give to those outside of the church. Don’t waste those finances on these prosperity preachers you see on TBN and elsewhere. Give to ministries that you see are producing real fruit. You would be surprised how much your favorite ministries could do with some small support. Don’t think what you give is too small. It’s not. Creflo Dollar made a scandal in the church by asking 200,000 people to donate $300 so he could get a jet.

With our expenses here, we would be set if we had just 5 people donating $300 a month. We could probably do less, but just consider that an approximation. When you support ministries like this, you are saying you want the person to be able to devote a large portion of their time and energy to their ministry. (I say a large portion since to be clear, a person has to take care of their own family and their own spiritual life as well) To speak in small amounts, the above numbers could be altered to speak of 300 people donating $5 a month. Many other ministries could likewise do well with just a large contingent of small donations.

Many can’t give financially, but you can give in other ways. You can share the work of the person that you admire and be their biggest fan. You can offer your services in other ways, such as we have a team here of people who volunteer to keep this web site running. You can talk to your pastor about seeing if they can come and speak at your church or seeing if your pastor would consider them as a ministry worthy of your support.

What else do you do after this? Study. Learn something about Christianity. If you think this should be the most important facet of your life, learn about it. Many know more about their favorite sports team, TV show, band, or political party than they do about their Christianity. This is a great shame. You are not doing your Christian duty just by going and enjoying your worship service. Make it a point to really learn something about your Christianity. I imagine the Gospel would be better shared here in America if we all at least had a basic apologetic beyond our personal testimony.

Teach your children about this as well. Many of our young people are growing up and looking at issues like redefining marriage and don’t have a single clue why this should be a great area of concern for them. If they grow up with a light faith that consists of being an individualistic all about me walk, well don’t be surprised if they jump ship as soon as something comes along that offers better benefits to them. Of course, that won’t happen in college at all. Not a chance. Your children will only experience a culture of people drinking and having a lot of fun doing it and getting to have rampant sex with anyone who comes along and as we know, young people are not at all tempted by alcohol and sex.

Honor your family as well. Following those principles in Ephesians and Colossians on running a family will work great for all involved. If we want to find out why the world isn’t honoring marriage today, it’s because the church failed to honor it first. Live your life in such a way in accordance with Biblical values in marriage and parenting. If you’re single, then follow a similar principle. No sex. If you plan to marry, date someone of the opposite sex because you want to find out if they’re someone to marry. Never treat someone of the opposite sex as if they’re someone to just fulfill your desires.

After all of this, really walk the walk. If it’s not being uncomfortable for you, you’re doing it wrong. Treat your Christianity like a lifestyle. Treat it as you are living in service of the King, because you are. Learn about this and see how it applies in every single area of your life.

Christianity is not a spectator sport. You’re either helping the Great Commission or you’re hindering it. There is no middle ground.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Tribute To Gretchen Passantino Coburn

Will you run your race so that you finish well? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I believe it was just a couple of days ago that my wife asked me to pray for Gretchen Passantino Coburn, someone highly instrumental with the apologetics ministry of Answers in Action. I was told she was going under for an operation. Of course we prayed, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking “Gretchen is really tough. She’ll be out of this in no time and bouncing right back.”

As an apologist, I make it a point to try to not be wrong.

And this time, I really really hate that I was wrong.

When we got home yesterday, we found out the news. Gretchen had passed away from a massive heart attack. It left a dark cloud hanging over our household for the rest of the evening and that kept going. I don’t think either one of us slept the best last night.

Now I’m not going to be one who says I knew Gretchen very well. I didn’t. Now I wish I had known her well, but alas, I did not. Still, when we did talk, it was always a good and friendly conversation. When I posted something on the Deeper Waters Facebook page, she would sometimes comment, and I always delighted in her comments.

I also liked about Gretchen that she was someone who was real. One memory I have of her that could seem awkward is when her husband came home from a long trip. He told her that he was back from his trip to which she said “See you in the bedroom!” Some of you could think I’m sharing something private. I’m not. This was posted right on Facebook. Everyone could get to see it, but that was something that made it special too. This was a couple with a great love for one another and they weren’t afraid to show it.

It also brought out what I just said. Gretchen was real. She was an apologist who was not afraid to show her fun-loving and joking side. In a private conversation, she even made a joke to me once that my Aspie self had a hard time responding to. She apologized when she found out, but I told her there was no need to. I appreciated her humor. I really liked that about her.

I found Gretchen’s articles that she wrote to be quite helpful at times and fair, even if I didn’t always agree. Gretchen never acted like she was better than anyone else because of her established position in the apologetics world and treated people well who were just starting their journey. That includes people like myself. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I have a habit every night of reading a portion of the Psalms and thinking about it as I try to go to sleep. I normally don’t place much stock in special events like this such as just opening the Bible and finding just the right message for you. Yet as I don’t think that commonly happens, I’m wondering if last night was an exception. I go through the Psalms in order and last night, I was reading Psalm 84 and the next section was verses 5-7.

5: Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.

I couldn’t help but think this was a fitting tribute to Gretchen. There is no doubt that Gretchen found her strength in Jesus. Anyone who looked at her knew her heart was on the path to the place of God. What about the valley of Baca? That refers to a place of pain and sorrow. Now I’m not one who thinks this whole world is awful, but it’s not as it should be. It is a place of pain for many of us.

What did Gretchen do? She made that valley less painful for the rest of us. She was the one who made it a place of springs, mainly by sharing her knowledge of Christ and letting the rest of us know that we could rightly place our trust in Jesus. She helped answer the despair of many hearts who wanted to know if Jesus was real or if the whole thing was just a fiction.

And how does it end? Gretchen is not in her resurrected body of course, but I do say she has appeared before her God. One day she will be reunited with a glorified body and we will see Gretchen as she really is, and I do not doubt that it will be far more beautiful than anything we ever saw here on Earth, which should leave us all in wonder. It will be because she will be the best reflection of God that she can possibly be.

Gretchen ran the race well. As I thought about her last night, my honest prayer was to give me the desire and enable me to do the same. It has been said that when each of us was born, we cried while the world rejoiced. We should all live our lives so that when we die, the world will cry and we will rejoice.

Right now, there is reason to rejoice for Gretchen, but we will have the tears on this side. We are not sorry for her. She is not at a loss right now. We are sorry for ourselves who are suffering the loss. A great warrior for Christ has passed on. Gretchen can never be truly replaced of course, but she would be honored to know many are rising up to fill in the spot that she left behind.

Earlier this year also, I had the joy of getting to interview Gretchen on my podcast. That interview can be heard here. Gretchen chose to talk about the beauty of life which meant dealing with the question of abortion, dealing with suffering in the intermediate stage of life. Finally, we talked about end of life issues with questions such as euthanasia. Now Gretchen has seen all the beauty of life and is now in the presence of true beauty, a beauty she could never have imagined.

God bless you Gretchen as He already has. Thank you for your friendship and I look forward to seeing you again someday.

Gretchen

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/13/2014

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’m afraid some of you are going to be disappointed. My guest Trevor Ray Slone had to cancel his appearance earlier this week due to some reasons of his own, and so I decided to book….

No one.

Because as it happens, I have my own situation going on and my wife really needs me for something at the moment and I figured it would be good for us to just spend as much of Saturday together as we could. Now I do plan on having the show again on the next Saturday, but for this Saturday, I ask the fans of the podcast to understand that sometimes, things like this happen and please pass it on to anyone you know who is curious about where a new episode is.

You see, while I think my show is an excellent show, I know it’s not the only one of its kind. There are plenty of great sources out there to get apologetics and there are several other excellent podcasters out there who are doing their part to bring apologetics information. I hope I fill a unique niche with my lengthy interviews with scholars on various fields, but I also know that there are others that you can listen to and in fact, I would encourage you to listen to not just me.

So yes, there are plenty of people who can supply you with apologetics information. If something ever happened to me, apologetics would still go on strong. I’m not essential. There are plenty of other people out there who can debate unbelievers and answer questions. I’m glad I get to do what I do and I love it, but I know there are others who can do it. Also, no. I am in no way quitting. I’m just focusing on the family this weekend and next week, everything should be normal again.

Despite that, if you’re in ministry, I really want you to hear this message. I don’t just mean if you’re in apologetics ministry. I mean if you’re in any ministry capacity and if you’re a woman, just switch the language around as need be.

Many people can do what you do, but only one person can be a husband to your wife. If you have children, many people can do what you do, but only one person can be a father to your children.

I have also said that if you become an apologist who can answer every question and can leave every atheist scared to face you in the debate arena, but you have not been a husband to your wife or a father to your children, then as far as I’m concerned, you’re a failure in ministry.

If you are a husband, your task is to love your wife as Christ loved the church and present her faultless before the throne. That’s a big responsibility. Sometimes, if we’re in ministry we can be thinking “What I’m doing is for God so I get an exception.” No. There are no exceptions to this rule. You have a divine responsibility and before the throne of God saying “I was serving you” won’t make a valid excuse. Obedience in one area does not equal disobedience in another, and too many people in ministry have found themselves married to their ministry instead of their spouses.

So this Saturday, I’m taking that necessary break. In fact, if you haven’t seen me on Facebook often, there’s a reason for that. I haven’t been answering questions or anything like that. That will have to wait until next week. I really hope everyone understands, but if you don’t, well that’s just too bad.

I do hope you’ll be here next Saturday for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and please go to ITunes as well and write a favorable review. I love to see them!

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Do We Care For Our Own Any More?

How can the church be the salt and light to the world if its abandoning some of its chief responsibilities? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

This is about a friend.

This is about a friend who is in need.

This is about a friend who is in need and the church is silent.

I wish I could say that this kind of thing is an anomaly, but it’s not.

When you go to church, part of worship is giving some of your tithes and offerings to the church. Now why do you do that? Is it because the church is full of money-grubbing people and that’s all that they want? No doubt, this is true of some churches, such as in the case of a lot of people you will see on a station like TBN, but I have hopes that most churches are not really like this. Most churches have ministers that are trying to do the right thing. Of course, I think too many of them are unequipped and have no business being in ministry, but that does not mean they’re in it for the money.

What all does a minister have to do? Off the top of my head, here are some duties.

Preaching a sermon.

Preparing for a sermon.

Personal study to learn about what to preach.

Church administrative duties.

Counseling.

Visiting people who are in the hospital.

Attending church events.

Could possibly be teaching some classes.

Remaining on-call for anyone in the congregation in need.

And from there, the list goes on. Keep in mind a good minister also has to have his own personal time for prayer, Bible study for himself, and if he’s married, he has to have time for his family. Furthermore, no minister can remain working 24/7. He’ll burn himself out. He needs to have some time to relax and enjoy himself in leisurely activity.

When you pay your pastor’s salary, what you are essentially saying is that the work he does is so important that you don’t want him to have to work elsewhere so that he’s not capable of doing all of that. You are pretty much paying him so that he can be there full-time in order to help meet the needs of the body.

Ideally also, a good pastor will be training others under him to be leaders and thus giving him less that he absolutely has to do, consider the example of Moses in the wilderness who trained others under him to answer questions and left all the really difficult matters to Moses. Had Moses not done this, he would have burnt himself out and been unable to lead the people.

Now what else is your money going towards?

It could go towards other staff members as well, but also, your money is going towards the maintenance and care of the building or the place that is rented and to getting materials such as Bibles that can be used for purposes of evangelism. A church has to make sure that it is taken care of after all.

Beyond that, what?

Good question.

These can go into a savings for when the church has an emergency, which is just fine, and they can also go to ministry projects, which are feasible and can be carried out, but another need of these funds is to care for those who are in need.

And in this last one, we have failed big time.

I am one who has been unable to find work in this economy for a long time. That’s the way it is. What do I do in the meanwhile? I do work for my in-laws and they help provide for us in return and we do have some government aid.

Hello. Did you hear that?

Yes. Government aid. Ideally, Christians would be giving this kind of support, but they too often don’t. Instead, it becomes the job of the government. The government should not be in the charity business and the fact that the government is the organization taking care of the poor, especially the Christian poor, is proof that the church has failed in an important aspect of its mission.

I said this was about a friend at the start. Let me use that as an example.

Meet Marc.

Marc is a friend I know through the Christian Apologetics Alliance where we are raising up funds for him. I would love to donate, but seeing as I have no real income, I’m incapable of doing that. Yet as I thought about this last night, it just got me angry. 

Now I’m not one of those people who condemns the rich. If you are wealthy, you have a gift from God if you use it right. It is no sin to have money. It is a sin for money to have you. If you have the money and can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with buying a Mercedes or going on a nice vacation or living in an expensive house or enjoying many of the finer things in life.

Of course, if you’re doing all of that and you’re stingy with your money towards the poor, that is a problem.

There are too many Christians who are like that.

Note also in this that I am not making a message of socialism. I am a capitalist. I don’t think the role is that government should force you to give your money to the poor. Rather, God loves a cheerful giver. It should be that you will want to give to the poor because they are people in need of your support.

So let’s go to my friend Marc. What’s his story?

“Not long ago my car needed to be repaired for a leaky transmission. Since I’ve been out of work I couldn’t afford the work. Some people offered to pay for the work, and so my car was towed (because it was not running) to a local dealer. The mechanic there drove the car and blew the engine, then the dealeship said they don’t do replacement engines and that was that. The dealership took the $1600 for the work they claimed they did. I was desperate and took some bad advice that I could get enough money through a student loan. That didn’t happen. So now I owe a different mechanic $3414 for a new engine plus labor plus lot fees, and he’s filed a mechanics lien. So I will lose my car that I had already paid for. Since becoming unemployed I’ve ran through all my savings, and just recently (after the whole car mess) became homeless. I won’t even have my car to sleep in. If you can help, please do. The money goes to Dave’s Automotive in Carbondale, Illinois

Plus, having a car again GREATLY expands where I can apply for jobs.”

This Christian has been going through a hard time including doubt and anger. It’s been a real struggle, and I think one of the biggest struggles is that Christians are not helping out.

And sadly, this is common.

You see, I happen to have a great interest in math. Let’s suppose you have a church of 200 people. That’s a fairly decent number of people to be in a church. Let’s suppose this church wanted to help Marc out. One Sunday, everyone in the church gave $20. Now it’s quite likely that no one will be breaking the bank, but you know what they will do?

They’ll break Marc’s debt.

Can’t do it that way? Okay. Picture a month with four Sundays. Each Sunday, every person gives $5.

The same result happens.

You see, most of our money in the church is really wasted. My ministry partner wrote an excellent article on this here. Churches get started in huge elaborate building projects and never finish them. That’s money that could have been used for the Kingdom of God gone to waste. Following the principle of Luke 14 and counting the cost before you start something, that’s also an embarrassment. 

We also spend money on projects that aren’t worth the investment. Again, another example of that is here. I have seen so many churches with these Family Life Centers and I can’t help but wonder how many of them are really being effective in ministry. Looking at the way the church is going in the world and how many people are falling away, I’d say they’re extremely ineffective. 

Let’s compare that to a ministry like this one here, the ministry of Deeper Waters, an apologetics ministry.

Now I’m not one who really cares about having a lot of money. I care about having enough. In fact, if I generally have extra money, aside from buying books, the main thing I’m thinking of is how can I do something nice for my wife. Can I take her out to dinner or buy her something that would put a smile on her face? We also would like to be able to give on our own to ministries like Voice of the Martyrs.

So here is pretty much what I’m doing most of the day. I wake up and I check my emails and Facebook and see what needs to be done. Then, I go about writing the blog. The rest of the day is spent in many cases reading and studying and often times, answering questions that come in from various people. Throughout the week, I’m also preparing for the weekly podcast where I hope to bring the best information to people. Also, I am regularly sent books by groups like IVP to review and in addition to that, many people will come to me asking about a book and if I can find it at the local library or if they’re willing to send me a copy, I will read it for them and tell them what I think. They can send me web sites or YouTube videos or things of that sort that they need addressed. Lately, there has been more public speaking going on for me too.

None of these I am paid for generally. Some people do donate, but not money.

Just like ministry in the church, when you donate to an apologetics ministry, what you are telling the person is “I value the work that you give so much that I want you to continue doing it.” Often times, I think apologists are seen as villains in the church because we do that wicked “debating” and “arguing” and we are so caught up in the life of the mind that we are missing out on the true essence of worship which is all about our passions.

Supposedly….

Just ignore that little part about loving God with all our minds.

Sometimes, I think it’s like being the police force. The apologist shows up and the church members are like “Oh great. Here comes that guy who wants to make sure we’re all walking in line and that all of our beliefs add up correctly.” In some sense, we are. We want to make sure the church is not straying into heresy. This doesn’t mean eliminating every wrong belief. It means eliminating those that are so serious they put someone’s salvation in jeopardy.

At the same time, we’re also like a military force. You know why many of you can sit safely in church and worship? It’s because people like the apologists among you are out there in the front lines and are busy taking bullets on your behalf. We’re the ones that are engaging the atheists and cultists and such in the hopes that they will leave you alone. (Of course, we also hope they will come to Christ, but many are just not open yet.)

Unfortunately, the church has had a habit of neglecting the apologists in its community and the work they do and supporting those that are parasites on the community. Think of how many people pay to go see Joel Osteen for instance. I have said before that when Michael Licona, N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga are names every Christian knows and Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and others of that ilk are out there trying to get support, we will have a much more equipped church ready to handle the challenges.

The question is, do you really value the apologetics work that is done or not? When you see people who are serving, do you want to help them with preparing the ground for harvest, or do you just want the fruit of the garden? Now some people are unable to donate, and I understand that. If you’re in that camp, offer prayers and support. This includes your own pastor too. If your pastor does a good job with what he does, let him know. Pastors often go extremely unappreciated. For us, we pray for our pastor every night. We want our church to be prepared to fulfill the Great Commission.

This also doesn’t just apply to Deeper Waters. I do hope you will donate to us. (If you do, just click the donate button and then email me or Mike and Debbie Licona and let us know that you want the donation to go to us.) There are several several other ministries that could use your support. Of course, there are major ministries like Risen Jesus, Reasonable Faith, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, and others that need your support. There are also several starting up that need your support. J. Warner Wallace has gathered a list of tent makers and they could use your support. That list can be found here.

Also, I am certainly not saying to support only apologetics ministries. Support ministries that give to the poor of your community. Support ministries that are doing overseas evangelism. Just don’t lose sight of the ministries that are right outside your front door. These ministries involve people who are giving their lives to the kingdom in service.

With people like Marc being among us and in desperate need of help, it is a scandal for the church that we are unable to care for them. It is certainly true that we will always have the poor among us, but if we abscond our responsibilities to the government, what message are we sending? We’re giving the government the go-ahead and saying “The church of Jesus Christ is incapable of meeting the needs of the people around it and ask that you in the kingdom of this world help us out.” 

If we are to show the love of Jesus to the rest of the world, we have to be able to show it to those who live among us. While the passage is written to Israel, I do think it applies to us. In Malachi 3, God asks the people of Israel to test Him. Can’t He rain down blessings so they will not contain it? If God loves a cheerful giver, is it not likely He will enable that person to keep giving? No. This is not prosperity Gospel. This is not give to get. This is give so you can keep giving. 

Remember also, start with your local church. That is the immediate body that deserves your help. If your local church is not worth giving to, then you need to find a new local church. In our day and age, it can be hard to find a good church that really seeks to uphold the truth of Scripture and encourages discipleship. Keep looking. They’re out there.

From there on, move to other ministries that you think are worth supporting. Think Deeper Waters is worth supporting? Then support us. If not, then don’t. Remember, this is not just me. There are several others. I linked to Wallace’s article with some. There are also ministries like that of my ministry partner, tektonics.org, and ministries like Adam’s Road, a ministry to Mormons that gives all of their music away for free. 

Also, please help out someone like Marc. If anyone among us is fallen and in need of help, we are obligated to help him. Remember, if any one of our body suffers, we are all suffering. It would be awesome to have Marc get this taken care of as soon as possible and know that the body of Christ was behind it all. 

Another point that needs to be made is I am in no way telling you to give what you don’t have. I’m not interested in grandma cashing in her Social Security and sending it all in. You must take care of yourself and if you don’t have the resources, you can always pray and encourage. That is more of a blessing than you know.

I wrote this because Marc is a friend in need, and Marc is an example of the way the church is failing to do its job. By all means, we must continue our ministries of reaching people who have not heard Christ and tending to the sick and feeding the hungry, but we must also help those in our own household who have fallen and can’t seem to get up. We must also support those out there who are doing the work that not everyone is capable of doing or has the time and resources to do so the rest of us can rest easy at night knowing the Christian faith is secure.

If you have the resources, please consider being generous with them and helping out those who are seeking to do what they can to help the Kingdom.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Be Your Own Media

What’s the best way to go about getting hits in social media for your ministry? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My friend Mike “Moondog” Burnette asked me if I’d be open to hosting a guest post on my blog. Now I haven’t done that before, but I had a need to put in something else and I figured why not, especially since so many other people are kind enough to link to my work.

Details about Burnette can be found at the end of this post. I also will not hesitate to say I need to practice much more of what he says in this post. That’s one reason I plan in staying in communication with him.

True Truth: Be Your Own Media

I’ve done media consulting with a couple Christian ministries lately who are not cutting through all the communication noise very well — in some ways they’re hiding from the noise with their fingers in their ears. The noise I speak of is LOUD and coming from our over-communicated, hyper-speed social media culture — so much so that if you’re not hustling, planning, fully present, extremely valuable, and engaged — you’re done. Many of these well intentioned people were great at media marketing in 2004 — the problem is it’s now 2014 and they haven’t adjusted. I believe their messages are important, but since they have no media plans, strategies, or budget — they’re destined for failure; barring divine intervention. Some groups have wonderful Christian men and women on their boards, but they have no practical knowledge of media programming or understanding of how powerful current media platforms are to success. They think Vimeo, SnapChat, Twitter, SoundCloud, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, etc– are all very quaint entertainment fads — they may not even realize the car has replaced the buggy.

In their marketing ignorance they pay to advertise on “little used country roads” instead of along “major highways” — paying for things no one see, uses or pays attention to. I’m not a part of that type of thinking. My personal and professional corps values stem from questioning meaning and purpose and include a code of serving others by doing the right things, for the right reasons, and taking care of people in the same ways that I want to be treated. I could lead them astray and take their money, but that’s definitely not what God called me to do. I started MoonDog Radio to consult and produce commercials for Christian ministries. I want to honor God with the best results possible — highly successful ministries and first rate media. So, I’m passionate about using my consulting and creative DNA to help strengthen believers, evangelize, and shape culture — it’s not about making money for me.

The biggest piece of advice I could give you is to BE YOUR OWN MEDIA and program your content like a DJ — by programming your content, using your personality to give it context, and cross-promote your organizations benefits and features. Why pay for billboards, YouTube ads, Pandora, and radio when EVERYONE is listening on their time (on demand) — on their smartphone or iPad. Few people still look to billboards or watch ads on TV for information — if it’s not in their RSS feed it probably doesn’t exist. Maybe I’m the only one–but, I record all my TV programs and run through the commercials. I also call up multiple pages on YouTube and let the commercials play so I don’t have to watch them.

Remember to target your media to those people, places, and platforms that use what you provide. You are serving them — they are just borrowing you.
Blessings In Christ,
Mike “MoonDog” Burnette
Founder, MoonDog Radio
https://www.moondogradio.com/

Liberty University alum 79-83
American Forces Radio & Television Veteran
Chief, Army Broadcasting, DOD
Cell:907-280-9646

Thanks to Mike “Moondog” Burnette for writing this!

In Christ,
Nick Peters