Angels and Death

What happens when someone dies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Final Fantasy X, when a person dies and doesn’t want to go to the realm of the dead, they interact with beings called pyreflies and become fiends. This is a common motif in many Japanese stories involving those who don’t want to go on and become a whole new creature. Many Christians might look at that and think that that is a creative story, but too many will believe something similar.

I say this because recently, my mother’s brother passed away. Today, there is to be a graveside service and many times, I can anticipate really bad thinking going on among people at Christian services about what happens when people die. One of the common beliefs is that people become angels.

This is not to say that the dead don’t remain in service to God in some way. There are many people who have NDEs who claim that they have encountered loved ones on the other side who have kept them from passing a boundary that would put them in eternity forever and saying it is not their time. I have no problem with such a thing happening.

However, when people die, they still remain being people. Humans are a species of a type that are meant to be embodied, although I think Scripture and NDEs both show that there is reality outside of the body. We are creatures that are naturally at home within the body.

Angels are beings that were created most likely at the start of creation and they are not meant to be embodied beings. They can assume a body if need be, though there is no evidence of demons doing so, but that is not how they naturally exist. Angels are by nature immaterial.

When a person dies, they do not become anything else. They remain fully human. It’s worth noting this is what happens with Jesus as well. Jesus to this day remains fully human as well as fully God.

Whenever we are in eternity, there will always be a distinction between humans and angels. Meanwhile with unbelievers, unbelievers do not become demons when they die. There will always be a distinction between unbelievers and demons.

Also, let’s dispense with ideas that are damaging to those left behind. Sometimes people say God needed another angel, which is especially damaging to children who lose a parent. After all, “Why did God have to take my Mommy like that?”

In the same way, people do not die because God needs them in His service in eternity. Why people die is part of the problem of evil and another question altogether that won’t be addressed here, but for now, I am focused on something else. While the question needs a good answer, let’s make sure at least we don’t give it a bad answer.

People have enough to grieve with when a loved one dies. We might want to say something comforting to those left behind, but let’s not say something that’s false and in the long run, won’t comfort, especially as I said, when children are concerned. Also, for those in apologetics, this is also not a time to discuss the problem of evil. Save it for when someone is not in the midst of the pain.

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

When Your Enemy Dies

How do you respond when your enemy dies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I remember several years ago I was on the program PALtalk and the news had just broke that Saddam Hussein’s sons had just been found and killed. Someone messaged me saying “Isn’t this such great news?!” I told them it was great that they would no longer be inflicting evil on the Earth, but as a Christian, it was also sad because they passed into eternity without Christ forever.

Even earlier when I first started doing apologetics, I remember being in a chat room on AOL with several young-earth creationists (And in saying this I realize not all YECs are like this, thank God) when the news came that Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary biologist had died. Immediately, there were people chatting about what it must be like for him in Hell right now. I remember also the same happening with some Reformed people (and again, thank God not all are like that), when a Pope had died and how he had “busted Hell wide open.”

I understand that for some people directly involved, it is good for them to know justice has been served, but many of us are not in that position. In the cases I described above, I found myself appalled at what I was saying. If you really think someone is in Hell, why should you celebrate? It’s not like you avoid it because you’re just so awesome.

So yesterday I finished listening to a book on my Amazon Tap and was playing a game where I couldn’t pause so I just switched to talk radio. Then I hear about the legacy of Rush Limbaugh. Legacy? That’s what you say when someone has died. I ask Alexa if that had happened and yes, that’s the news I get immediately.

Now as a conservative, I found the news saddening, but what didn’t surprise me was the images that I saw going on on Twitter after that. I have been just as appalled. You might want to make a statement about the character of your opponent, but those who celebrate in that matter are really revealing more about themselves.

What really amazes me is also that these are the people who often talk about being the people of love and compassion and tolerance and unity and being so opposed to any kind of hate. I would think that for all the time preaching this gospel, it might be practiced. It looks like it’s not really the case.

In a time like this also, we should also remember that eventually, death is going to come for all of us unless the return of Christ occurs first. Will we be ready? What are we doing with our lives right now?

If we’re Christians, we should definitely not be celebrating in this way. We should remember that this is a sign that our world is fallen. Also, keep in mind as much as you might not like it as a Christian, Rush Limbaugh and many others did say that they were Christians and if they were right, well, you get to spend eternity with them.

If you are hearing that and saying “I hope not! I don’t want to spend eternity with them!” then it is definitely you that has the problem. Eternity is to be where forgiveness and love definitely reign supreme. On a blog post I wrote years ago asking if your murderer will be in Heaven, someone in the comments said that right now in eternity, Stephen and Paul are together.

That’s really something to think about.

And yes, in eternity if forgiveness has taken place, people will be with those who murdered either them or their loved ones. Skeptics will be tempted to see that and think that that must be an awful place then. No. It’s a wonderful place because even something as horrendous as murder will be forgiven. We could also say if the criminal has repented, someone will be with their rapist, and there will be love and forgiveness.

All my secularist friends who believe in the goodness of man should be willing to see this as a good thing as well as man will be able to love someone who has hurt them so greatly. If you’re a Christian, realize that however you might not care about that person, you are called to love your enemy. You are called to want what is good for them.

During the Trump administration, if you had asked me who I wanted to meet if I got the chance to meet one famous person, I would have said Donald Trump. Some might say I’m a conservative so of course I would say that. Not so fast. I was asked that just recently and said still “The president” and when it was Obama in office, it was still “The president.” Why no matter who it was? Because I would want to go and talk to them about Jesus and let the message of Jesus impact them whoever it is, even if I thought that person was already a Christian.

To those celebrating, you’re revealing more about yourself and the people that you would hope to persuade are being given more reason to not listen to you. If this is the kind of person your side produces, then I want nothing of it. The side that produces those who love even their enemies is the one I wish to be on and I hope when my personal enemies die, that I will more respond the appropriate way as well.

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

You Know Not When

When will your time come? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are warnings in the New Testament that you know not at what time your Lord will come. That is true. On the other hand, so is the reverse. You know not at what time you will come to the Lord.

Yesterday after driving home from the grocery store after church, I get the news that Alex Trebek has died. I am a gameshow junkie and I grew up watching Jeopardy. I was quite saddened to hear the news. I had last heard his fight against cancer was going well, but I guess not that well. It was a surprise, but it was not totally unexpected. When you have cancer at that level, you can prepare for it.

Then last night I’m browsing through Facebook to see what people are talking about and I see someone talk about the death of Ben Arbour. Ben was a friend of mine on Facebook, but sadly, I never got to know him well. Now I won’t get to this side of eternity.

So what did he die from? Did he have cancer? Did he have COVID? What was it?

None of those. He and his wife were hit by a drag racer. Their car burst into flames and the Arbours and other driver were killed.

The last post Ben Arbour had made on his Facebook page was something about how he was proud of his dad. For him, he probably anticipated life would go on as normal. It wouldn’t. They left behind four children who are aged from 10 to 16.

In this story, everyone thought they would be going about their lives. The drag racer though the same thing. At one moment, he’s in an illegal race just trying to go faster than another driver. In the next moment, his ultimate race is over and now there’s no going back. We can hope he was prepared for eternity.

Ben Arbour was also in ministry. That’s no exception to the rule. If you’re doing ministry, you don’t get a free pass for God to protect you from suffering in your life or even an untimely death. Also, whoever you are, you are not needed by God. You are wanted and desired, but God can bring about His plans without you. God is not up in Heaven wondering how things are going to turn out now that the Arbours are gone. That is not to insult them at all. The same could be said if the same event happened to me. It is to humble us. To get to be used by God is a privilege.

We can imagine looking back and wishing we had done things differently. Did we need to spend all that time on Facebook? Did we really have to watch that game on TV? Did we really have to get to that level in that video game? I’m not saying these activities are wrong, but they need to be put in their proper perspective. We should enjoy our lives, but the purpose of our life is not just amusement.

But here are some things likely that won’t be regretted.

The wife won’t say, “I really regret spending that time making love to my husband. I wish I had spent that time better.”

The parent won’t say, “I really regret going to my child’s baseball game. I could have spent that time better.”

The adult child won’t say, “I really regret making those phone calls to my Mom just to talk with her. I could have spent that time better.”

We won’t regret time spent in prayer or money given to a good charity. We won’t regret doing pure acts of love just for doing them. We won’t regret being thankful for what is happening in our day. We will wish we had forgiven more, listened more, and loved more.

None of us is entitled. None of us is owed anything. The only exception is if God explicitly promised you something, much like He promised Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Christ. Since that is true, all that God gives you is a gift. Be thankful. Love what you have and celebrate that.

You know not what hour your Lord will come. Neither do you know at what hour you will come to the Lord. Be ready anyway.

Prayers to the family of Alex Trebek, the Arbours, and yes, the drag racer who died as well.

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

Book Plunge: Immortal

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

Most of us growing up have some idea that somehow we are going to live forever. I sometimes wonder if that could be what is behind our big obsession with our generation has to be the one Jesus will return in. It’s natural to long for that, but could it also be that if He returns, we get to avoid that death thing?

In this book, Clay Jones shows us how the fear of death drives everything. As I write this, our country is experiencing a pandemic that has kept people in the grip of fear in a way I have never seen in my lifetime. People seem to be constantly afraid they will either get the disease or give it to someone else.

So Jones takes us through a number of sections in this book. He writes about how people are in a desperate bind to learn how to live forever. It could be through virtual uploading to a computer or freezing your body through cryogenics. Either way, so many people want to do all they can to avoid death. It’s irony that so many that come up with health systems to avoid death wind up dying at what can be considered a younger age than expected despite this.

Well, if those don’t work, what about symbolic immortality? One of the biggest ways we often try to do this is to have kids. Surely that will make us live forever symbolically? Not really. Most of us don’t know much about our great-great-great-grandparents. For mine, I couldn’t even tell you their names.

We can also try to do a great work like a book or art or get a building built in our name. In some way, we want our legacy to live on. Sadly, another way many people try to do this is through evil. Commit a great evil and all of a sudden people know who you are. This is one reason I don’t favor giving the names of mass shooters out when they happen. It just gives them more of something they want.

If the fear of death is driving us though, how do we cope with it? We often turn to pleasure and amusement or even just sad acceptance in depression. We can get addicted to sex and to drugs and alcohol. We can even go the route of suicide. Wait. How is it that suicide deals with our fear of death? Because if death is coming and it’s inevitable, might as well go ahead and get it done with. Right? (Please do not go this route. Call the suicide hotline if you or someone you know is considering this. 1-800-273-8255. Your life is worth living.)

Jones then follows this up by first giving a brief case for the resurrection of Jesus. From there, he goes on to talk about our future life in Heaven which is something Christians do not think about enough. It has been said some Christians are so Heavenly minded that they’re no Earthly good. It is just the opposite. Too many Christians are so Earthly minded that they’re no Heavenly good. If we focus on eternity and what it will be like, then we are more prone to take things seriously here.

I remember when I was engaged to Allie and I had the realization come in of what was going to happen to me soon in marrying and the Scripture of “As Christ loved the church.” That was what I was called to do. I was called to love my wife that way. That was scary. Someday when I stand before God, the first questions will not be about Deeper Waters or my ministry. I suspect one of the first questions will be “How did you treat your wife?”

I have said before to guys, and women can alter it for themselves, that I don’t care if you have a worldwide ministry. I don’t care if atheists are scared to confront you. I don’t care if you win every debate. I don’t care if your books are all best-sellers. If you are not a husband to your wife and a father to your children, I count you a failure in ministry. I stand by that.

If there’s anything I would alter in Jones’s book, it would be how we are to live life now exactly. Jones wants us to be focused on Heavenly things, but rightly says he takes time for joys of this world too like going to superhero movies, prime rib apparently, and indicates he wouldn’t mind recreating his honeymoon. (And who can blame him guys. Am I right?) I would like to know how this is done. Do I need to feel guilty if I start to play a game in my private time? I would like to see more on this.

At any rate, this book is an important one to read. Death drives us more than we realize and this will make you think more seriously about your mortality and what you are doing with your life. This is only the second book I have seen from Clay Jones, and yet both of them I consider important reads.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/14/2020

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

One of the questions a parent often dreads hearing from their child is “Where did I come from?” or just the general “Where do babies come from?” It’s a good question, but the really hard question is how do you answer it on a more universal scale. Where does humanity come from? Many people turn to Genesis.

And then the debate begins.

How old is the Earth? Were Adam and Eve real people? Was there death before the Fall? What was the serpent in the garden? Where did Cain get his wife? How did the first humans live hundreds of years as said in Genesis 5? Who were the sons of God? What about the flood? What about the Tower of Babel?

And you thought the first questions kids ask were awkward.

Fortunately, there are those who have addressed these concepts that sadly divide Christians today. While we can be sure the debate will by no means be settled, we can learn what we can and be informed in our own opinions and in what others think. There is a pair that have written the book Origins to discuss this passage, and one of them is on my show Saturday. His name is Douglas Jacoby.

So who is he?

Douglas Jacoby is an international Bible teacher. After serving as a minister on church staff for 20 years, in London, Birmingham, Sydney, Stockholm, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Washington DC, Douglas has worked as a freelance teacher and consultant. He has engaged in a number of debates with well-known atheists, imams, and rabbis. Douglas is also an adjunct professor of theology at Lincoln Christian University. Since the late ’90s, Douglas has led annual tours to the biblical world.

With degrees from Drew, Harvard, and Duke, Douglas has written over 30 books, recorded nearly 800 podcasts, and spoken in over 100 universities, and in over 500 cities, in 126 nations around the world. The Jacobys have three adult children. Douglas and his wife, Vicki, reside in the Atlanta area.

We’re almost caught up on back episodes. I hope before too long we’ll have all of those up. I’m also actively working on getting the show to be able to be done live. I hope that will make it even better as people can submit their questions during an interview. Please be watching your podcast feed!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Memories Of Ruth

How do you honor someone when they’re gone? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I received word that my aunt Ruth had died. I think the time reported was 4:07. The news wasn’t a surprise. She had been in the stages of dementia and had been going downhill fast. My mother had told me earlier she probably only had hours left.

I posted it on Facebook and before too long many people showed up giving their condolences. My former roommate messaged me. He had actually met Ruth before and he was glad that he had. She was a special lady.

When I was growing up, I lived next door to my grandmother and her sister, my aunt Ruth. I would regularly spend time with them. It was there I learned about playing card games and word games like Scrabble. Even today, playing Words With Friends can make me think about those times.

Ruth also lived much of her life as a librarian. I could walk down to our local library and sometimes see her behind the desk. Being who I was growing up, I had a tendency to do all that I could to tease my loved ones as much as I could.

When my wife and I married, we shortly moved to Tennessee and lived in my grandmother’s old house. I remember well a time where Allie and I went over to see Ruth and Allie talked about how sarcastic everyone in our family was, except my Mom. Ruth told her that yes, that’s how we all are. We’re all sarcastic, but we don’t mean it. I immediately said, “We don’t?!” Heck. News to me.

There was a time Ruth gave me some eggs to carry over to our house. She was worried I would drop them on the way and I insisted that I wouldn’t. Well, shortly after I left, I came back over. “Um. Ruth. You know those eggs you said I would drop and I insisted that I wouldn’t?”

“Yes?”

“I just wanted to let you know that they got over just fine.”

There was also the constant fun I had with the front door and the back door of her house. From the way I entered, what she called the back door was from my perspective the front door, and naturally vice-versa. Everytime, I would intentionally get the name of the door wrong knowing that it would irritate her a little bit more.

Sometimes, Ruth would want me to go to the library and get her a book. She didn’t have a specific, but she figured the librarian would know something. I went once and told her that I had told the librarian she requested a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. I also added that her pastor was surprised when he heard me say that’s what she wanted.

As Ruth progressed downhill though, we could not joke like we used to. The last time I had seen her, she couldn’t remember at one point who I was. I know it wasn’t intentional, but it was hard to see. She was also convinced that her one cat was actually four different cats. I don’t know what will happen to Whitefoot, but I hope he will find a good home somehow.

Death is something difficult when it comes to all of us. For the time being, all of us are deprived. We lose the experience of what it is to be with that person, and the more that person has a place in our life, the bigger the pain that will be experienced.

Most people went through their day just fine yesterday for the most part. If you read my news, you could have been sad for me, but you went through the day for the most part fine. That’s okay. I honestly tend to be detached so I went on and did a Google hangout I had been scheduled to do last night to discuss issues relating to atheism and theism.

For some people, the world is never the same. All deaths in some way diminish the world. There is a certain absence. This is even more so if the death comes about through a violent means, be it the actions of another or especially suicide. All life is precious. All of us who are pro-life realize that. I do think sometimes killing can be a sad necessity, such as in self-defense, but it is sad that it ever happened to get to that point. A marriage can end in divorce because a spouse is abusive. I think it can be necessary then, but it is always a tragedy that it got to that point.

Yet at these times, the resurrection is good news. It means we will see our loved ones again someday. Not in some ethereal way, but in a real way. It is tempted to say just like we see those alive today, but that would be false. When we see our loved ones again, they will be more real than they ever were before. They will be more themselves than they ever were before. All of us in this mode of existing are in some way inhuman. When we see each other in the end, we will see everyone as they really are, as fully human. As Lewis says, there will be surprises.

One day, I will see my aunt again. I will see her as she is and she will see me as I am. I look forward to walking through the front door of her new home someday.

Or was that the back door?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Steven Anderson on Mount Athos

What do I think of Steven Anderson’s views on Orthodoxy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For those who don’t know yet, I am a thoroughly convinced Protestant. I have a wife who is interested in Eastern Orthodoxy and that did get me looking into issues of Catholicism and Orthodoxy. It really was something I never wanted to get into since I am one who tries to be ecumenical. Now I do have a greater understanding of both positions and still disagree, but I don’t want people speaking wrongly against my brothers and sisters on the way.

For those who don’t know, Steven Anderson is this crazy pastor who thinks that we should kill all the homosexuals or that they should kill themselves. This is not to say that I think homosexuality is fine. I think Scripture is clear on the wrongness of homosexual practice. It’s also clear to me that we’re not in an Israelite theocracy based on the Old Testament Law.

I also find it interesting that the video we’ll be looking at has a description that says the real way to get to Heaven. It’s a shame that Pastor Anderson thinks that the whole point of Christianity is to get to Heaven. That is part of it, but the goal of the gospel is to bring honor to God and has an impact for this life and not just the next one.

In this video, Pastor Anderson says that he is told that he needs to look into Mount Athos. Some of you might not know that for Orthodox people, Mount Athos is one of the most holy sites out there. I don’t claim to fully understand that, but I know when I’m at the Orthodox Church and hear Mount Athos mentioned, it’s a really big deal.

The first thing he talks about is the idea of vain repetition. I understand the concern with saying the Jesus Prayer over and over and I do agree that some people could get into this being a rote thing that they do without any real motivation behind it, but the constant repetition does not equal vain repetition. Jesus condemns a certain kind of repetition, but He does not condemn all of it.

The Jesus Prayer in my understanding is meant to change the person praying more than be a constant plea for mercy. It’s meant to make them think about who Jesus is. It’s up to the person to determine if they’re being vain in their repetition or not.

Next he mentions praying to Mary. Now I do disagree with this practice, but at the same time, I’m not ready to say everyone who has done such is being thrown into hell or is outside of the body. I would find it hard to condemn Christians across the centuries who have been doing this since whenever it started, and any Orthodox person who wants to convince me it started early had better bring some really good historical evidence to the table.

The same will be said with praying to the saints. While I disagree with this, I am not one who thinks that there were no true Christians after the apostles died until Martin Luther showed up again. I actually think most Catholics while disagreeing with Luther would agree that the Catholic Church needed some reformation and change in it and there were corrupt practices going on. Any material about practices like this then I will not say further on but just point back to these sections.

He also says something about the drinking of alcohol. He is right that the Bible condemns drunkenness, but it does not follow that it condemns alcohol, any more than the Bible condemning gluttony means that it condemns eating. The Bible condemns extramarital sex, but it thoroughly commends it between husband and wife in marital union. Jesus did not turn the water into grape juice at Cana.

I want to say at this point also that I do not say this as one who drinks alcohol. My wife has come to accept that I am willing to change my diet in many areas, but I just never want to drink alcohol. If you can control it, I have no problem with you drinking it, but I will abstain.

He then goes on to a monk carving a crucifix and says it is the making of idols even though we are told to not make any graven images. To begin with, if images are the problem, then what is going on behind Pastor Anderson in his own church video with watching a service live? Would we really say the problem with the image is that it is graven instead of that it is an image?

The first person to be explicitly said to be filled with the Holy Spirit in the Bible is a man named Bezalel. Who was he? An artist. He made images that he was ordered by God to make. Now it could be that the Bible contradicts itself in such an obvious way, or else the prohibition is not against images, but rather against the use of images to worship.

This is a point the Iconophiles brought up against the iconoclasts in the debates about the use of icons. At the same time, I want to be aware that yes, some people could treat icons and relics as if they were magic charms which is just as bad. The misuse of an object does not point to a lack of a proper use.

He also says that the Bible says it’s a shame for a man to have long hair and every priest and monk on Mount Athos has that. Samson also had it as that was part of the Nazarite vow. What is going on in 1 Corinthians is Paul is addressing practices of the day. How men and women wore their hair said something to their culture then. Were I to visit Anderson’s church, would he want me to greet his wife with a holy kiss? That’s what Scripture tells me I am to do.

Pastor Anderson said that Jesus said to beware of the ones who go around in long clothing. Jesus was speaking more of the tassels on the garments and those were used to show a special kind of holiness. In other words, Jesus was against wearing clothes for the purpose of showing off your holiness. It’s not as if Jesus would have no problem with the scribes and Pharisees if they suddenly switched to shorts and T-shirts.

He also has a statement about the prohibition of calling people Father. Now at this time, I also do not call priests in the church by the name of Father. At the same time, I recognize there are some ridiculous extremes that can be taken, such as the video my wife and I saw once about the man who called his parents by their names instead of Mom and Dad even to avoid breaking the commandment of Christ.

He also looks at collections of skulls and femurs and other bones they have and says that the Bible says to bury the dead out of sight and to not touch dead bodies. It’s really a shame a pastor has such a poor understanding of Israelite Law and its relation to Gentiles today in light of the new covenant. My understanding is that these are gathered to remind the people of the resurrection that is coming.

There’s a part here where in what is apparently an aside he says that the monks are dressed like warlocks. I am sure in movies and TV shows and video games warlocks dress in these robes, but I am also sure that in real life, they could dress just like everyone else for the most part. As I say this, it is still morning and I am wearing my Legend of Zelda robe. I suppose Pastor Anderson is convinced I’m a heathen then.

He also says that the Bible says that all those who hate me love death. He doesn’t say who says this, but it is Wisdom in the book of Proverbs. This is said about the skull collecting, but does that equal a love of death? Does someone who grows up wanting to be a mortician then hate Jesus? This is not done to worship the dead but to honor the dead.

He then goes and says there is no monastery or monk in the Bible. True. There’s also no such thing as a pulpit or a pew in the Bible as well. I wonder if Pastor Anderson’s church has a parking lot and heating and air system in it since those aren’t in the Bible. His services are recorded, even though the Bible says nothing about that. If he wants to go the argument from silence route, I expect him to be consistent.

Finally, in criticism, he says that Orthodoxy is closer to Eastern practices and he gives Buddhism as an example. The thing is, he’s right and also wrong. I don’t think it’s like Buddhism, but it is closer to Eastern practices. What else is closer to that is the culture of the Bible itself. Pastor Anderson probably knows nothing about the eastern dynamics of honor and shame and agonistic societies. The Bible is itself not a Western book. It is a Middle Eastern one.

He encourages people to come to the real Jesus and the real gospel. I encourage that, but I have many friends who are Orthodox and Catholic. We disagree on many things, but there is something we don’t disagree on. We agree on who Jesus is.

I am sure Pastor Anderson’s motivations for this are noble, but his criticisms are way off the mark. I encourage healthy dialogue between Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox on our differences, but let’s make sure they are informed criticisms. I also encourage that we try to recognize that others are Christians as well. Not all Catholics and Orthodox and Protestants are Christians, of course, but for the most part, the doctrines all agree on the centrality of Christ and His work in salvation.

Let’s try to focus first on what we agree on. Alright?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: For Thou Art With Me

What do I think of Bruce Baker’s book published by Grace Acres? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Death is never an easy topic to talk about. For many of us, it can seem far away. If you’re someone with a terminal illness, you have a better awareness than many that you are living on borrowed time.

That’s the situation of Pastor Bruce Baker. He has ALS and he knows that he only has so long to live. Yet being a pastor, one has to wonder how he approaches a sensitive topic like this. What are you thinking? Do you want to die and be with Christ? At the same time, is it possible to feel cheated, as if you’ve lived your life for God all these years and then he strikes you with a death sentence through a horrible disease?

Baker’s book is largely a pastoral book. It’s written for those who have a terminal illness and those who love them. It’s not written from an apologetics perspective, though I understand he could write one like that as he told me in correspondence he used to teach such a class. If you’re wanting a justification for God in the face of suffering, you need to look somewhere else. If you’re wanting to know how to walk with God in the suffering, you’ve come to the right place.

At the same time, some issues relating to an apologetic approach are discussed, such as what about assisted suicide. Baker has sympathies with the position insofar as he can understand why someone with a terminal illness would choose that route, but in the end, he makes the case against it. Overall, I find it a persuasive case against any kind of suicide ultimately.

Naturally, being a pastor talking about death, he has a section on the gospel as a whole and what it means. If you aren’t right with God, Baker wants to make sure that you are. He also wants you to see what it means to your Christian faith when you think about not just dying but how you will die.

He has a section on what the Bible says happens when you die. If there was one area of disagreement I had, it would have been here, and yet it’s a minor point. Baker sees the story of the rich man and Lazarus as a historical account since a name is given to the poor man. I think it’s more Jesus saying the rich man is unnamed because he’s not worth talking about and the poor man is worth talking about and he is given a name indicating that the Lord helps him. The story isn’t meant to tell us about what the afterdeath is like, but rather it’s meant to tell us about how God doesn’t view the rich with favor or the poor with shame.

The book is also short, which I’m sure is helpful for those who do have a short time. You could go and read chapter by chapter if you want or just jump to a chapter you think is relevant. There are also sections at the end of the chapters with questions for you to think about.

Ultimately, this is a good book to have if you’re thinking about that time and reading as someone outside of that perspective, I am sure if I had a terminal illness this would be something I’d think about a lot more. I sincerely hope that it does help those in need. We need some more writing in this kind of area for those undergoing suffering.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On The Death of Rachel Held Evans

What makes the death of someone a true tragedy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Much of the evangelical world was surprised this weekend when it was announced that young writer Rachel Held Evans had died. Now I have never been fan of hers. I think much of her work was very damaging to Christianity and in some cases mocking. My first awareness of her came when she was clinging on to her faith because of Chick-Fil-A Day.

Yet in all fairness, there was an easy way I could have empathy when I heard that she had died. Regardless of what I think of her, she had a husband and two kids. Let’s always keep that in mind. As a husband, I find it horrid to think that I would never share a meal with my wife again, get a smile from her again, spend an evening watching Netflix with her, go on a drive holding hands, pray and worship together, go to sleep together, and of course, have sex with my wife ever again. When I heard a story a year or so ago about two criminals who escaped and killed some police officers, I found myself grieving for the family immediately.

Again, it doesn’t matter what you think of her as a person or of her theology. We can all realize her husband is going through a hard time. My wife and I did pray for her family that night.

Not only her husband but her children. They have to grow up without their biological mother now. That will always be hurtful. Many of us remember as children the first time we were really introduced to death. For me, it was a favorite Sunday School teacher who died suddenly while I was in 7th grade. It would be horrible to think your first experience of death was at a young age and was your own mother.

So you can view someone as an intellectual opponent and still see their death as a tragedy. Death for anyone should be to some extent. Whatever their position was at death with God, they are in some sense locked into that one. There is no repentance beyond the grave.

Years ago when Saddam Hussein was in power, someone told me in a chat that his sons had been found and killed. Wasn’t this good news? It was good news that their evil would no longer plague innocent people on Earth. It was sad because it meant two people passed into eternity without Jesus. That should always make us sad.

So was Evans a Christian or a heretic? I understand the positions of those who say she denied Christianity. I haven’t read all of her writings so I can’t say, but I understand the concern. The good news for me is that I don’t have to make that judgment. That’s God’s judgment. The thing I have to worry about is what about me and my household. Am I serving God as I should? Am I encouraging my wife to serve God as she should be my example?

Something else noteworthy is that Warren Wiersbe passed away this weekend as well. He was nearly 90 years old and wrote several commentaries to help people be living the Christian life. While I wasn’t a massive fan of his, I find it interesting that hardly anyone is saying anything about him whatsoever.

Some are saying it’s too soon to be speaking about if Evans was a heretic or not. I understand both sides. Some people are grieving a loss. Some people are really concerned about the health of the church. I would say if you think she is outside of Christianity, speak it but speak it with sorrow and sadness. Try to emphasize the teaching and not make it about the death of the person.

When someone who is definitely an unbeliever dies, we should take no joy of them being apart from God. None whatsoever. It should be seen as a tragedy. It is also a tragedy when a believer dies, but not for them, but for those of us who are left behind. At the funeral, we don’t really grieve for them as much as we grieve for ourselves.

So in conclusion, my final advice overall is first to pray for the family and realize there is a real husband with real kids left behind. Second, be diligent about your own faithfulness to Christ. Finally, take time to celebrate the loved ones you have in your life today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Tribute To Smokey

Do we treasure the life that we have with those we love? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It happened Saturday and came out of the blue. None of us were expecting it. My wife got a call from my mother, probably because I hadn’t been feeling well and my Mom didn’t want to tax my voice. Anyway, I heard my wife asking about “her” over and over and knew something was wrong. At the start, I thought it was my aunt Ruth back home. It wasn’t, but it still wasn’t good news. I had an idea what was going on when it came to talk about “putting her down.” You don’t say that about your aunt.

You say that about pets.

Growing up, cats have always been a part of my life. The first one was a cat named Subway, so called because we lived in a mobile home and she ran under it first when we got her. I remember when we had to put her down, though I didn’t understand why. I did know we wouldn’t be waiting long to get another cat. The house was too empty. I was already looking in the classifieds in the newspaper.

That weekend, Stormy came into our lives.

When I left home, Stormy was still there. Then, one day later on, sometime after I had married, my Mom called to tell me she had lost Stormy. I had no idea he was in bad health. Stormy had been her favorite and losing him was a major hurt to her.

Along the way also, Allie and I rescued a cat. That was interesting since she’s always been a dog person, but a cat was our first pet. Apparently, cats are with me wherever I go.

Shortly after Stormy’s passing, my sister worked and got my mother a new cat that she wasn’t expecting. This one is named Reagan. Then my Dad was out doing his work and found a place with a cat that was super affectionate, but they had to get a new home for. I don’t remember the reason, but my parents talked it over and before too long, Smokey came to live with my parents.

Smokey had been playing all the week earlier last week, but then Friday things changed. She didn’t want to move and she actually screamed when my Dad tried to pick her up, which is unusual since I have been around her several times and never heard her make a sound. They knew something was wrong. They took her to the vet and found out it was kidney failure. Medicine could help some, but it would only be a couple of weeks of pain. They were all together when they decided to put her down.

After being with my in-laws when their dog Nessie was put down, I have asked a couple of vets. They have all told me the same thing. Putting an animal down never gets easy.

When things like this happen, we always say we’re going to learn to treasure more the time that we have with the ones we love. We don’t. It is our human condition I think. We so hunger for eternity that we think every moment is like it. When things are good, we take them for granted and say “It will always be like this.” When things are bad, we lose hope and say “Things will never change.” We always want to take the present moment to be eternal.

Eternity is not with us yet. We should not treat the moment like it is. When good times come, celebrate them and be thankful, but do not take them for granted. When hard times come, mourn them and seek to change them, but do not act like the story is done at this point.

Either way, cherish the people that you love. Celebrate them. My parents, I am sure, thought there were several years to be had with Smokey. They were wrong. I know when Nessie died, my wife was saying she wished she’d spent more time walking the dog instead of doing other things. That time can never be reclaimed. Don’t waste what you have.

For those wondering, I do think a strong case can be made for animals being in the afterdeath. I recommend listening to my podcast with Dan Story on his book Will Dogs Chase Cats In Heaven?  Please in your prayers be remembering my parents in the loss of Smokey.

In Christ,
Nick Peters