More on the Sadness of Jesus

Why do we not talk about the sadness of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Within the past month, I have written about the sadness of Christ. I was pleased to see that article linked to on a popular apologetics website. However, after seeing that, I started to ponder. I have written many blogs including on the historical Jesus. Why this one?

Could it be that this one resonated? This one did hit something and it at first doesn’t even seem to be something related to apologetics, but I think it is. Could it be that maybe we talk so much about the joy of Christ that we don’t know about His sorrow as well? Could it be that we ourselves don’t really know much about sorrow either?

Now that last one might be a surprising statement. After all, look at how many people in our country struggle with depression. Look at how many self-help books we have out there. Our people have experience with sorrow so surely they know a lot about it.

It’s not hard to figure out the error in this statement. Our people also debate politics and economics regularly, but most of us think that our fellow Americans are clueless about both of them. This is especially so since you can find quite sincere people and quite intelligent people on both sides of any debate. We have had the sexual revolution going on, but I contend that our culture is one that knows very little about sex.

One of our problems with sorrow and depression is we really don’t know how to handle it. We often act like we’re not supposed to have any depression or sadness at all. Sadly, the church is one of the worst at this. We often pay lip service to the idea of mourning with those who mourn and Jesus weeping in the garden,

For us, if you have depression or anxiety, then there is something wrong with you. Christians are supposed to be people of joy and so if you have depression or anxiety, there is something wrong with you. This can lead to being depressed about being depressed or anxious about being anxious.

Being a fully functional human being means experiencing the full gamut of human emotions and sometimes you will have anxiety or sadness. That is okay. If you start saying you shouldn’t, then what are we to mourn for?

This also leads to a false pollyanna world that skeptics don’t believe in. They don’t want us to act like life is always great. They want to see how we will handle it when life is hard. Will we be realistic or will we be living a life of total denial?

I also don’t believe in that world.

We also then treat suffering like it is something foreign to us. The suffering that we cannot bear often times would be nothing to our ancestors of the past. These were people who were willing to go to the death for their faith. They also didn’t only exist back then. They exist in the world today where real persecution is going on.

Why do we not talk about it with Jesus? Maybe because it doesn’t seem to give us something to aspire to. It’s easy to want to live like Jesus when He is being gracious to His enemies or outwitting them in debate or showing outstanding love. However, to aspire to be like Jesus in His sorrow will mean experiecing that sorrow as well, and we don’t want that.

But that is part of pollyanna thinking. The sorrow will come. We treat pain and suffering like they are something foreign to us. In reality, they have been promised to us.

The question is not then will suffering come, but how will we handle it? We are not to act like it is all good and wonderful. Sure, we are to count all things joy, but that does not mean that you always put on a happy face since Jesus didn’t do that. We can need help on the journey, and that’s okay. That’s why there are friends and therapists and yes, even medications.

Sorrow in Jesus I think resonates with us because deep down, many of us know that it is a reality and we want something in our lives. Yet still, the only book I found on a general search on Amazon on this topic was about 500 years old. Who is writing about this today? If any New Testament scholar is reading this, consider this a challenge to write a book on the sadness of Christ. To any pastor, consider preaching a sermon on Jesus being sad. It would be refreshing in some way. If anything, that could help many in your audience who do struggle with depression and anxiety. They could actually really resonate with Jesus.

I continue to think on this and learn about the topic. If we want to know Jesus as He is, we have to know all sides of Him. We have to have a Jesus who is not just fully God, but also fully human. That includes not just being hungry, thirsty, and tired, but also, sad.

Nothing short of a real Jesus will do.

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

The Sadness of Christ

Why was Christ sad? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There have been some snafus with the blog lately. I hope that’s worked out. I do have a new laptop now and I tried to make YouTube videos of the blog for that, which apparently also had some problems. I was going to work on that some today, but really, things are extremely rough right now.

I don’t want to go into everything going on, but let’s just say that yesterday, I had the perfect storm of depression and anxiety come based on so many situations. Much of it I still want to keep private, but I can assure you it’s real. It has been so real I called to have an emergency session with my therapist and I am trying to reach out to other friends who I know can do some counseling.

So yesterday, I started wondering about the sadness of Christ. Go on Amazon and you can find plenty of books of Christ offering hope to those suffering. Wonderful. You can hear about Christ speaking to your sadness. Excellent. You can hear a lot about the promises of Christ and what He went through for your joy. Great.

And right now, I don’t really care about it.

Right now, I want to know about Christ Himself. What about His sadness? For some of us, it seems shocking to talk about such things, yet at the same time so many refer to Isaiah 53 as a prophecy of Christ that describes Him as a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.

Yes. That’s what it says.

Jesus is not referred to as a man of joy. He is referred to as a man of sorrows. He is not described in ways that glorify Him. He is someone despised and rejected. There was no reason to desire Him. Nothing. Let us not color it over so much saying it was Jesus that we miss something.

This is in many ways a very depressing chapter.

Consider the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” How many of us have sung that at church? What a wonderful encouragement! What a blessing it is to us! How good it is to know God is faithful! That passage is in the Bible? It must surely be in a book of joy. It’s a Psalm of praise. Right?

Think again. It’s Lamentations. The entire book of the Bible that is just that, a lament.

So if you hold that Isaiah 53 is Jesus, this is really Jesus. When I talk about wanting Christ, I want to know just what He will do for me when I have sadness. I want to know what He did for Himself. I want to know why He was sad. I want to know His experience.

The number one place is in Matthew 26 when Jesus is in the garden praying and fortunately, I found one book on the topic by Thomas More that is over 500 years old called the Sadness of Christ and it is looking at the Passion. Jesus tells His friends that He is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Jesus turns to His friends.

Let’s get rid of some bad theology with this.

Some people will tell you that if you have God and you know His love, you should always have joy and happiness. If you are depressed then, there is something wrong with you. You need to repent.

I defy you if you are a Christian to find one human being you think has better theology than Jesus.

Was there something wrong with Jesus that He was sad? Did Jesus have a deficient theology? Did Jesus just need to repent and find joy in the Lord?

If your theology contradicts Jesus, your theology is wrong.

Jesus was sad. We could say it was because of the sins of the world and the pain of the people around Him, but could we consider something else? Maybe, Jesus just didn’t want to go to the cross. Hebrews tells us that He went despising the shame of the cross for the joy set before Him. He knew this was the path to the greatest joy so He went for it.

He went to the cross because He wanted to save the world and bring glory to God. He didn’t want the cross for the sake of the cross. He would have preferred another way.

Yet Jesus was sad.

If that’s the case, then we can dispense with this idea that if you have God in your life, you should always have joy and living abundantly. Dare I say it, sometimes you should be sad. If you have a loved one who dies on you and you are not sad, you are not exhibiting great strength. You are being actually deficient as a human being.

1 Thessalonians is a passage I am discussing in eschatology right now, but while we disagree with many Christians on the eschatology, let’s speak about one thing we should agree on. The text says we mourn. Paul never says “Cheer up guys! No need to mourn! These people will rise again! Celebrate!” No. He says mourn. In Romans, he even tells us to mourn with those who mourn.

Paul says he had no rest at one point until he found his brother Titus. He talks about how thankful he was to have someone come to him so he could have less anxiety in Philippians, the very book where he tells us to be anxious for nothing. It could be Paul was also preaching to himself there. How many of us know what it is like to give advice some one and yet struggle to follow that same advice ourselves?

But to get back to Jesus, Jesus definitely did have sadness. When we talk about the incarnation, we understand He was hungry and He slept and was thirsty and could experience pain and even die, yet talking about sadness seems taboo. Jesus as a human being had emotions and surely those emotions always had to be joy.

No. Not a bit. He experienced the full gamut of emotions. When my soul is also overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, in some ways, I am in good company. Jesus’s was too.

What did Jesus do? He needed what we need then. He needed His friends. He didn’t just turn to God. He turned to others. I am thankful I have God to turn to, to be sure, but there are ways that another human being can connect with you that God can’t always. This evening I am planning on visiting a friend to have a gaming night. Sorry, but God isn’t going to sit on a couch with me playing Smash Brothers or something.

Sometimes, you need a touch too. Now Jesus could appear and do that, but it’s not likely. I am not a touchy person, but sometimes, it is nice to have.

In all of this, I am not saying prayer and good music and Bible study and similar things have no place in this. They are good. I also say good music because sometimes it’s not just Christian music you need. When I heard Nabeel Qureshi had died, I was one of the first. Mike Licona was there when it happened and his wife called and told me and said not to tell anyone. I was in a Wal-Mart shopping at the time and having to put on a brave face even though inside, I was falling apart. What did I listen to driving then?

World of Ruin from Final Fantasy VI.

Sometimes in my own pain nowadays, I find myeslf listening to A Place To Call Home from Final Fantasy IX. Different music will resonate with different people. Some will find themselves listening to the classical composers. Some might want rock and roll or even heavy metal. If it is not sinful and it helps you get through it, go for it.

But I don’t want to overwhelm you. For now, I just want us to think about the sadness of Jesus. We have a Lord who was sad and had to deal with it. We do nor honor Jesus when we turn Him into a superhuman who never had sorrow and sadness in His life. That should be a comfort too. If our Lord had it, we should not count ourselves exempt from it.

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

Book Plunge: Finding Quiet

What do I think of J.P. Moreland’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you have had one, you can often remember the first time. Things can seem normal, and then out of the blue, boom, it hits you. For me, I remember I was at home alone in my high school years and watching Touched By An Angel, a show I really don’t care for today now being better informed, and then I felt something coming over me.

It was something I had never felt before, but it wasn’t anything good. It felt like the whole world was coming to an end. It was a sensation of overwhelming doom and judgment. It was such a defining moment in my life that I spent the next few years living in response to that moment.

It’s what you call a panic attack.

It would be a mistake to castigate someone in some way for this. It doesn’t mean that you’re someone who is stupid and uninformed. Smart people can get panic attacks. It doesn’t mean you lack faith. People who are devout Christians and well-informed in their faith can get panic attacks.

J.P. Moreland did. His was likely brought on just because he was working too hard and getting overwhelmed. When you are in the midst of that fear and that panic, nothing makes sense any more. Moreland wound up going to a therapist and taking medications.

The latter part is quite sad. It’s not because he was taking medication, but because he dared say that when giving a sermon at a church and after that, the pastor said he received a large number of texts from people who were complaining about someone in the pulpit approving psychiatric medications and Moreland was never asked to come back. Sadly, too many in the church have that attitude.

Like many though, Moreland will rightly say that you have to work to change your thinking. You also have to learn to work with your own body. Some of your mental issues at times could be physiologically affected. For instance, if you don’t sleep well, you don’t think well. I understand many Navy Seals go through Hell Week involving deep training. These guys have to go days without sleep and at that point, they often start hallucinating.

In David Seamands’s book Healing For Damaged Emotions, he says that he has been told by doctors and nurses that when a patient comes to a hospital struggling with suicidal thinking, they will often give them protein. There can be a lack of real substance in them. With that, something else needs to be said.

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. J.P. Moreland’s book is mainly about anxiety, but similar techniques can work for depression. Moreland does say he was never suicide, but he did sometimes ask God to finish him off in some way. He felt like his life was a waste and he just wanted the pain to go away.

Many Christians could be surprised to hear Moreland think his life was a waste. Let’s also add in that no matter who they are, people need to be told that they do make a difference and matter. Moreland doesn’t mention that part, but it needs to be said.

Moreland gives various techniques in the book and I will not share them because if you are one who like me can struggle with anxiety, you need to read the book for yourself and get them. Even someone who is of a secular mindset could get some good out of this, although I am sure they won’t care for the idea of prayer being used. Definitely, as indicated earlier, the church needs to be kinder to those struggling. People who have mental struggles in the church often think lowly enough of themselves already. They don’t need to be shot at further for seeking treatment.

Moreland’s book is also not going to go over your head. This isn’t your standard apologetics work, although there is some of that in there. This is more on helping you to live better in the midst of anxiety and depression, which can come to all of us.

I know for when the times comes that I struggle, I appreciate knowing I am not alone. After all, since that time in my past, I have learned a lot which has helped me get past anxiety and depression more, but there can be times that one encounters difficult events that bring it all back again. I plan to always be learning how to overcome the monster.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.

Trust Can Be Hard

What do you do when it’s hard? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to be a faithful follower of Christ. Yesterday for me was one of those days. In the middle of playing a favorite online MMORPG, I had a number or rude comments made about my gaming ability that I can still remember. Normally, I would write those off fairly easily, but with other events going on in my life, it was partially Queen Jezebel’s sniper bullet to Elijah.

Fortunately, to help with that, a couple of good friends of mine assured me jerks exist everywhere even in the gaming community and they had encountered them as well. Most players are nicer than that, but sometimes a few bad apples spoil a bunch. I’m not talking about when friends get together and as friends play a game against each other and give friendly insults. I’m talking about real ones that take place.

Then as I go to bed last night, it was one of the hardest times I had getting to sleep in a long time. I’m still not sure how I did it. I found myself wrestling with various fears about my future, uncertainties, and temptations in the present. I look and wonder what my future really holds with so many what ifs. Already, I hear Gary Habermas now in my head telling me as he has before “What if it’s not?”

But trust can be hard sometimes. I use trust because I prefer that word to faith since I think trust is a better translation of faith. It’s really hard because I know through my own studies the goodness and love of God, and yet in my own life at the time, He doesn’t seem good and loving. My head knows he is, but when the anxiety is gripping you, that can be extremely hard to realize.

As I ponder it this morning, I wonder if sometimes our expectations can be too high. After all, a favorite prophecy of Jesus is Isaiah 53 where He is said to be a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Even if you don’t believe in Jesus, you can see in the Gospels the sadness of Jesus. Jesus is sorrowful over Jerusalem not repenting and weeps at the grave of Lazarus.

A passage I find most revealing is in the Garden before the crucifixion where Jesus is said to be overwhelmed with sorrow, even unto the point of death. That’s some intense sorrow. It’s not just Jesus. Paul himself had the sorrow as well. Consider Philippians 2:

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.

This is a letter about joy, but I wonder how many times we just read through this section. Paul is talking about anxiety and having sorrow upon sorrow. How many times was Paul lying in a jail cell and wondering about the church that he loved? He was in a position of sorrow and yet had more sorrow possibly to come.

And he was in a jail cell. Talk about being in a place of uncertainty. Paul certainly knew what this was like. The same thing happens in 2 Corinthians 1. This is a passage that mentions comfort so many times. However, right in the middle, what do you see?

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

And this morning for my morning reading I read Joshua. Many of us know the common saying in Joshua 1. “Be strong and courageous.”

You don’t need to say that to someone who is feeling strong and courageous.

I can’t help but think too often in Christianity we often think we can’t be candid so much with our struggles. Now I am not sharing everything here because I do save many struggles for people I do know personally, but the struggles are real, which is even harder when you’re involved in apologetics and try to be a man of reason as much as possible.

As someone told me last night, it’s not that time heals the wounds you have. It doesn’t. You just get more used to the terrain so you can better navigate through it. Nothing will erase the past after all. All I can do is hope fore the future.

There will also always be suffering and something I can turn to for depression. In turn, if I can turn to it, there will always be something good. I was trying last night to be thankful for things, but it was honestly difficult. It was one of the first nights I had had like that in a long time. They happen every now and then.

Why say this? Because I also think it’s important for you to know that in many ways, I’m just like you. Too often leaders like to act like they have it all together and they really don’t. I can’t help but wonder if this could have contributed to the fall of Ravi Zacharias or anyone else.

This is also something the church needs to improve on. We can be so busy in wanting to hold up a persona that really, the church is one of the last places people who are hurting really want to go to. Consider this. Sinners and people suffering were not afraid to approach Jesus. If they are afraid to approach us, we are not being like Jesus.

So right now, things are hard and there are a lot of struggles, but I am determined to make it through matters. I am dealing with fears and temptations, but so is everyone. We can look at Jesus and how He faced it and said “But He’s the Son of God.” Sure, but Son of the same God that we serve. He is just as much working in us and for us.

In the meantime, I do appreciate any prayers and encouragement. Many of you have no idea how far it goes. Thank you for all you do for me and Deeper Waters.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.

Colonoscopy Thoughts

How did this weekend go and what thoughts did I have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday there wasn’t a blog because I was having a procedure done, which from the title you can tell is a colonoscopy, and I was told to take it easy the rest of the day. My parents had come to be with me and handle driving and taking care of the apartment. The doctors telling me to take it easy said things that I normally do should be done like reading, watching TV, and playing video games.

You know, doctor’s advice can be so hard to follow! How did I put up with such cruel treatment?

That’s what I was doing yesterday. Right after, I wanted to get something to eat so we went to Subway together. Then we came home and it was a day of watching various TV shows together and sometimes I’d play games on my Switch there with me or my phone. My Dad and I found for a Christmas classic, MST3K with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

So what did I learn from this event?

First off, if you don’t know my age, I am 40 years old. Normally, this happens at 50. Back in May, my wife and I had got a pizza at the grocery store. After we shared it, I remember taking out the trash and not feeling well. I figured I just overdid it and it would pass and I would deal with it by just going to the bathroom.

Allie heard me screaming though in there and when I came out, my hair was so wet from sweating I suppose that if I had told her I had stuck my head in a running shower, she would not have been surprised. She told me I needed to go to the ER. I had no objections to that at all.

They did a Cat-scan (At least I think that’s what it was) of my stomach and I later met with a GI doctor. He informed me I had a polyp. It was about a centimeter long. I needed to get it out in six months or it could become cancerous. That would involve a colonoscopy.

This is one of those procedures I had long prayed to never ever have to go through. It’s just something disgusting for me to think about. Honestly, the prep for the procedure was more frightening to think about than the procedure itself.

So Thursday, the first day of prep came. I had nothing solid to eat that day and surprisingly, I handled it fine. However, in all fairness, I have sometimes forgotten to eat. I have had times where I have been out driving and stopped to get something because I realized that I forgot to get breakfast. If I get engrossed in something else, I lose sight of food easily.

I’m definitely an exception to the idea that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

But then came the time with taking the medication to clear me out. I had told Allie’s priest that I was praying the Jesus prayer over it. No. Not, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Instead it was, “If there be any other way, let this cup pass through me.” He laughed at that one. My former roommate told me as a hospital call screener that yes, it would certainly pass through.

I wasn’t wrong, the experience was awful and if I have to do it again, I’ve said I want a different procedure, I ended up having some vomiting both times over it, though fortunately not enough to stop the stuff from doing its work. Friday morning, I had to start at 4:45 again, so I got up at 4:15 to make sure I could do things like read the Bible and pray first.

So my Dad when the time came took me to the hospital. I remember them giving me this little gift bag that had in it some portable hand sanitizer, but it also had a little book of Sudokus and Crossword Puzzles and a pen. Okay. That’s enough to occupy me.

They wheeled me and talked to me about anesthesia. They gave me a medication that my father-in-law had told me was great stuff. I was told I would be out for an hour. I remember they had me lying on my left side and when they injected the stuff into the IV, I was immediately feeling woozy.

It’s really interesting to think how such medications work. Someone can do something like that to you and then do all manner of things to you and you can’t feel it. Having had scoliosis surgery before, it’s really incredible to think of what the body can go through.

Back in Knoxville, there was a time I had a dental procedure where they gave me the medication and the next thing I know, I was waking up in my bed. I posted on Facebook about if I saw anyone, please understand I wasn’t exactly myself. A girl I went to high school with said that that explained a lot because she saw me at Subway with my Mom (How did I order exactly?) and she said hi as I was heading out and I asked my Mom, “Do you know her?”

It’s kind of creepy to think you’re walking around appearing coherent when you’re not really there.

So anyway, I wake up maybe about an hour later and the doctor comes in to see me. I asked if they got the polyp and he says it turns out, there wasn’t one. I must have just had an infection that day.

It’s not pleasing to hear you went through something you didn’t want to go through with and had a fear about cancer and have it be wrong.

Still, I learned a lot about anxiety as well. Sometimes getting ready to take the medication here at home, I was so tempted to just pass it up. Maybe it would be easier to just get cancer and treat that. Anxiety can cause to do or not do many things.

Yet one thing I told myself was that in 24 hours, it would all be over. It was. The rest of the day was just fine with me doing my own thing and my Dad and I mainly spending the time together. All the anxiety and it hadn’t helped me prepare for the procedure at all. Maybe it even had something to do with the vomiting and it made it worse.

So anyway, for the time being, it looks like my health is fine. I have been told I should not have to have something like this done for ten more years. It’s my sincere hopes that technology will somehow improve in ten years so I won’t have to do this kind of operation again, but that’s not my area of focus.

Today, it’s still life goes on. I probably will still be taking it easy today and relaxing, especially since my folks are here. If you are a reader and were concerned about there not being a blog yesterday, that’s why. Next week I hope to return to a regular schedule.

For all who did know, thanks for the praying for me.

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

Book Plunge: Stop Calling Me Beautiful

What do I think of Phylicia Masonheimer’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book was not what I expected. I honestly thought with the title it would be more about helping women to realize they’re beautiful. It’s really the opposite, and that’s a good thing. Masonheimer wrote this book about being tired of women’s conferences that seem to be entirely all about self-help.

She argues that women need something deeper than being told they’re beautiful. Ultimately, they need Jesus Himself. They need to find their comfort in God. Women bounce around from thing to thing, or in a sadder case from man to man, hoping to find something that will fulfill them when Christ is waiting there for them the whole time.

Masonheimer goes after this whole fake culture. One chapter is even about the Instagram Bible. How many women (And men) try to make their Bible study times look really good on Instagram or Facebook (The cup of coffee supposedly making it extra holy), but then they really neglect Bible study? When they do Bible study, they do it for the hopes that they will learn something about themselves and not really to learn about God.

The next part of the book is about different false beliefs for women in the church. Legalism is the first one where much is made for women about things like skirt length. Even if the rules are good, the rules can often seem to be equated with Christianity.

Next come chapters on grief and anxiety and how to handle them. This can be a challenging one for women who are usually emotional creatures, more so than men, and yet are told to not be emotional. Women need to know how to handle serious loss and how to handle anxiety.

Thankfully, there’s a chapter on sexual stigma which is needed. Pornography is no longer just a man’s problem. Many women are watching porn as well. Many women are also told if they have sex before marriage that at that point they are damaged goods since most guys want a virgin. Masonheimer deals with all of these.

She then goes on to talk about community. Women need a place where they can be women. They need a place where they can be accepted and be safe. I also want to stress in my opinion that online friendships are great, but women and men both need face to face relationships where they can get comfort as well.

After that, she talks about the fear of man. This isn’t man in the sense of the male of the species, but in the sense of worrying about what everyone thinks about us. We do that so much, that we don’t focus on what God thinks and getting to live a life that He approves of.

There are other chapters on shame and how to live now, but I think I’ve said enough to let people know this is important. Women don’t just need pablum. They don’t just need self-help. They actually need something deeper.

So if I would actually change anything in this book, I would say go deeper still. I would like to see some information on the doctrine of God, Christ, how to do Bible study, and other such things. That could be for another book. In essence, a sort of apologetics for women would be good.

Still, I agree. Women, and men as well, don’t need pablum. We need something real. We need Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Importance of Thanks

Does it matter if we’re thankful or not? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my wife had a sleep test done. It was to take place in the middle of the day with periodic naps. We had to be there at 6:30 in the morning. That meant that for all the time to get ready, we got up at 5 in the morning. I don’t like that. You see, if I know I have to get up early, it can make it harder to go to sleep because I start thinking “What if I don’t get enough sleep?” Then all these disaster situations play, especially since Allie can’t drive and if she can’t drive she can’t get there, etc. etc. etc.

So I went to bed that night trying to think about what to do about it and remembered what Paul said. “Be anxious about nothing.” Yeah. Good idea Paul. Too bad you didn’t tell us how to do that exactly.

Or did he…..

In fact, I think he did. I remembered immediately it was said afterward, but in everything give thanks. So what did I do? I just started thinking about all the things I was thankful for. My mood began to change as I started to ponder on all the good things I have in my life.

I woke up a few times during the night, but I always got back to sleep. I slept enough to get Allie to her appointment in time, and there was a lesson learned. Give thanks. It sounds simple, but it’s something that needs to be done.

How serious a matter is this? It’s serious enough to earn the wrath of God. Think I’m making it up? Look at Romans 1.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Because people did not give thanks to God for what He had done, the wrath of God was coming on them. A lack of thankfulness is something that leads us to think that we owe nothing to God. We owe no honor to Him whatsoever. We can do everything on our own. We can’t.

Not only do we need to thank God, we need to thank one another. We need to thank those that are closest to us. Today, I was shown that one of my Facebook friends who has greatly helped Allie is depressed about how people don’t seem to interact with her. It happens. I know from my perspective that people often come for questions, but they don’t come for much else.

This can also happen between husbands and wives and ironically, it works in opposite ways. Many a wife wants to be appreciated for the things she does around the house and taking care of the kids and usually thinks she just gets appreciated for sex. The man meanwhile wants to be appreciated for being the breadwinner often, but he would love to be appreciated for sex.

Go out in public and when someone does something good for you even if it’s just their job. Many people throughout the day could have their whole attitude changed if someone just thanked them for what they do instead of having it be a thankless job. As one who worked in retail for several years, I know I was used to it.

And why would this help with anxiety? Because it’s hard to be anxious when your mind is focused on all the good things, which is also what Paul tells us to do in Philippians 4:8. Those are the things to think about. Giving thanks gives honor to God, builds up those who we are close to, helps our fellow man, and relieves us of our anxiety.

Give thanks.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Radical Pursuit of Rest

What do I think of John Koessler’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a day and age where technology should have made it easier for us to do anything. We were expecting a Jetsons world where we just go and push a button and everything gets done for us. The irony is that with most every invention of technology meant to save time for us, we in fact often have less time left.  We want to produce constantly. Do we ever take the time to just rest?

Koessler argues that rest is essential and we get caught in a trap of productivity. Of course we should produce, but we are not machines. We cannot work 24/7. We in fact often live to work instead of realizing the purpose of work is often so that we won’t have to work. It is to free us for leisure and rest.

How many people go on vacation and still do work? Thus far, I have avoided this. The last vacation I managed to get to go on was my honeymoon with my wife a little over six years ago at Ocean Isle Beach. I made a commitment before I left and spoke about it with my parents and in-laws. No contact for us. Don’t call us. Just let us be. The only book I brought with me was my Bible. I had my IPhone with me, but I used it for GPS mainly. I did not check email. I did not check Facebook. There would be plenty of times later to put up pictures of the wedding and such. There were plenty of other people who could do ministry while I was gone. This week was to focus on me and my new bride.

I have no regrets from that decision.

Unfortunately, many do not make such a decision ever. They come home from the office and bring the office with them. This is even what happens in the case of ministry. A man can neglect his family because this is the work of God. He forgets his first work of God is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and to teach his children the fear of God.

Koessler’s book is a reminder for us to take a break. The anxiety we feel about the future is in fact a failure to trust in God. We don’t rest because we think we have to keep producing. We have to in order for God to also care for us. There is no rest and if we do stop and rest, we beat ourselves up with guilt.

In fact, Koessler tells us that sloth can be related to noonday madness. It can be seen as constant busyness. We keep busy for the sake of keeping busy. It’s like the employees in the office who hear the boss is coming and all of a sudden solitaire and emails go down, Pokemon Go gets turned off, and everyone starts acting like they’ve been working hard.

Koessler also writes about ambition. Now ambition I think is fine if you want to be excellent at what you do. We should all want that. The problem can often be when you don’t delight in others and their successes and only keep thinking about yourself. That ambition is often connected with our pride.

Koessler talks about worship as rest as well. Worship at churches often turns into a performance where we have to work the audience up and by the way, that isn’t enough because if you’re truly devoted to the church you’ll sign up for all these programs. Helping out the church with other programs is fine, but let’s remember that worship is a fine goal in itself.

Of course, something has to be said about the digital age. I know of the trap for as I sit here writing, I have my email and Facebook opened and I hear the news program my wife is watching. Multi-tasking is a way of life for me. There are times you just want to see what happened on Facebook and realize you’ve spent about an hour or so browsing on it and to what end?

For my final positive, I appreciate Koessler’s honesty. He does write about having a hard time sleeping at night. He does write about struggles with ambition. He does write about worship services and sermons that he frankly finds boring at times. These show me that Koessler is with me on the journey.

Despite that there are many positives to this book and it’s a good wake-up call, I do have some recommendations for change. For instance, what exactly is rest? Koessler differentiates it from sleep, but it’s still not clear what it really is. What also would be its relation to play? If I take a break from reading and studying and go play a game, am I resting? If I go out on a date with the wife, is that rest? Would snuggling together on the couch to watch a movie be considered rest? I don’t remember any real clarification on what rest is and I definitely would like to see how play fits into this.

Still, Koessler’s book leaves you with plenty of food for thought. I have been thinking quite often about his concept of worship. I’m pleased to know Koessler is on the same journey as well.

Book Plunge: The Mind of the Spirit

What do I think of Craig Keener’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

You can find many books on the thought of Paul, but how many books can you find on the thinking of Paul? We can say that we know what it is that he thought, but what about what he said about how to think? That is a topic that has been neglected largely, but thanks to the work of Craig Keener, we now have a dense scholarly work on the subject.

Keener looks at passages mainly in the undisputed Pauline epistles, though there is a brief look at Colossians 3:1-2. In these passages, Keener examines the way the ancients saw thinking and how Paul would fit in with them. The goal is to walk away with a renewed interest in proper thinking and especially in this case, proper Christian thinking.

There are also numerous excursuses throughout the book so you can see what is thought about a certain topic in the ancient world. There’s also a look at what the ancients thought about the soul. In addition, you will find a section stating advice for counselors and others on how to use the material.

Keener doesn’t leave any stone unturned. He is incredibly thorough seeking to cover every minutiae of a subject that he writes about. You will find a long section on Romans 7 for instance and whether it describes Paul’s own thoughts about a struggle against sin or something else.

The advice given to counselors is also good. Keener wants this book to be able to help people with psychological problems. It could be used also to help all of us as we all need to have some renewed thinking. None of us thinks entirely the way we should.

Keener also points out that it’s too easy for people on one side to lower people on the other. In some circles in Christian thinking, it is thought that not having an education is in fact a virtue. That means you’re more prone to just believe what the Bible says without man’s ideas getting in the way. On the other end, it’s easy for those on the more intellectual side to look at the behavior of more emotional people and reduce it to emotionalism. The more emotional thinking can be in danger of a religion based on impulses without content. The more logical thinker can be in danger of a religion with content, but no passion.

The truth is, we need both. That’s one reason I’m happy to be married to a woman who is more emotional than I am. We can better balance each other out that way and frankly, sometimes, her way of looking at something is much simpler and can see a small detail I’ve overlooked.

In recommending changes I would have liked to have seen, Keener does end with a section on advice to counselors and pastors and such, but I think it would have been good to end each section with a little statement on application. Many times, I was getting a lot of content, but no application. Something on each section I think could have further helped the process along.

While the excursuses were also interesting, they could be seen as distracting too. Does it matter to a counselor to know about dying and rising gods? For me as an apologist, it definitely matters, but I wonder if that could have made a counselor more hesitant.

Still, I did enjoy the reading and I think Keener would definitely agree with me on one aspect of all the work he’s done. Easier said than done. We can know a lot more about how to think better, but the school of hard knocks can make it hard to pass the exam. Hopefully we’ll all learn to improve more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Was Jesus Scared?

Did our Lord have fear? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my wife wrote an excellent blog about fear. In it, she raised the question about Jesus in the garden. Did Jesus have fear as he knelt and asked that the cup pass through Him? I think she handled it well from a practical perspective in that she did make sure to emphasize that Jesus was fully human. One of the great dangers of our modern age is that we have so emphasized the deity of Christ that we have often forgotten His humanity.

Still, what was going on in the Garden? Did Jesus have fear? If we look at the account in Matthew, we can see that Jesus had sorrow. Sorrow itself is not a sin to have. There are some things that should make us sad. We can know how sorrowful Jesus was since He was sorrowful to the point of death. This is the lowest despair you can be in.

And what was it that Jesus was not wanting to experience at this time? Now some might say the crucifixion, and of course we can certainly all agree that “Being crucified” is not on our bucket lists. Still, was Jesus wanting to avoid strong physical pain, even intense physical pain like a crucifixion, and that sorrow of undergoing that was what was ripping His soul apart?

I don’t think so.

I think what Jesus was not wanting to undergo at the time was in some sense a separation from the Father. Jesus did not want to have to experience bearing the sins of the world on Him. It’s a lesson to us that Jesus considered His relationship with the Father so serious that He did not want to in any way bear anything that would be contrary to that relationship. Now what exactly happened when that took place? That is for another blog and something I still think about, but today we are talking about the garden.

The difference in Jesus’s action was that He said not what He willed, but what the Father willed. Jesus wanted to avoid the cross and that was certainly not a wrong desire, but if it had to be that way, He was willing to go through with it. That is what makes the difference. It’s okay to not want to go through some things, but ultimately, what shows Jesus’s character in the face of all of this was that He chose the will of God over His own will.

Keep in mind also that Jesus is to be our example in the New Testament and we are to walk as He walked. That means that we are to choose the desires of the Father over our desires. Now that might be something we consider if we have to face something like being willing to die for Christ, but could it be the greatest challenge in the world is not dying for Christ but living for Him? If you are willing to say that you will not recant and be killed, your struggle ends pretty quickly. What about the struggle of today?

What about the struggle to be a good spouse to the person you’re married to? What about the struggle to raise your children in the fear of the Lord? What about the struggle to live within your financial means? What about the struggle to trust God in all things? What about the struggle to remove evil from your own heart?

Jesus in all of His life gave to the will of the Father every time and lived accordingly. Now to be sure, He did not face everything that we faced, but He is no stranger to temptation either and He knew what it meant. He also knew what it meant to succeed and calls us to do the same.

Jesus was willing to die for the will of God. The question for us today is if we’re willing to live for the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters