Things To Not Say To A Divorced Person #2: Work On Your Relationship with God

Why is it improper to tell someone what they should truly be doing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In continuing this series, I want to remind everyone that this is not saying anything about the intentions of people who say these things. When they are said, I fully think they are normally said with good intentions. However, they are usually not a salve to the pain of a person going through divorce, but if anything, they can actually make it worse.

So what is intended by this?

Someone can say that now that the person is single again, they can focus on that relationship with God. Didn’t Paul say he wished that everyone was as he is with the ability to be single? Isn’t this a great time to get one-on-one with God then and work on that walk with Him? What more could you desire?

Why it’s wrong:

First off, this doesn’t apply really to divorced people. Everyone needs to work on their relationship with God. Married people, single people who have never married, widowed people, and divorced people all need to work on their relationship with God. For some reason, the divorced person is being singled out this time.

Part of the problem is that it can often come with the idea that if the divorced person desires anything else, such as a new relationship, then they have the improper focus. They need to turn to God. How could they want anything else?

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work like that. Go look at the Garden of Eden. If anyone had the chance for a one-on-one relationship with God, it was Adam. No sin in the world. Adam was free.

And yet it was not good. He was alone.

Wait. Wasn’t God there with him? How could he be alone?

You know, it might be a bit dangerous here, but I think if God says it’s not good, I’m just going to agree with Him. God decided man needed something else. Man needed an earthly companion.

And some of us who are divorced long for that companion again too. Of course, you could point to pure sexual desire, and that’s certainly a part of it, but there’s something else too. I miss driving and having her by my side and especially if it was rough weather, she was an extra set of eyes for me. I hate going to bed at night and realizing I’m sleeping alone. I hate not having someone there who is watching me play games or who I can turn on YouTube videos and laugh with. I hate how many jokes I used to have with her that made me laugh now only bring me pain.

It would be a lie to say I don’t miss the physical aspects of our relationship, but it would be just as much a lie to say that’s all that I miss. It’s okay to say that you miss the physical aspects of interaction with another human body. We’re Christians after all, not Gnostics. We don’t see the body as a bad thing.

We can often look at the Psalms and see how the Psalmist says he desires nothing but God. Should that really be literal language? The Psalmist doesn’t desire to sleep when he goes to bed at night? He doesn’t have a longing for food? He doesn’t have a desire to go to the bathroom? Of course, the Psalmist is speaking in hyperbolic terms.

A divorced person should readily agree there. The desire for God should be greater than all other desires, but it’s foolish to say that those other desires don’t exist. For a divorced person, they have had many of these good benefits of a unique relationship ripped from them without their consent and are floundering wondering what their future holds.

When we hear we need to work on our relationship with God, we often think that all our other desires are being treated like they don’t matter. They do. It is not saying they have to be fulfilled, though that is desirable for many, but they can be there. Now there are some divorced people who have no desire for a new relationship, and that’s fine, but many do.

Sometimes, there can also be a hidden accusation here and this depends on the situation. It can be implied, “If God had been your main relationship, this wouldn’t have been taken away from you.” At those times, it can also look like God is the one who took away the person’s beloved.

This definitely does not help a divorced person. I said in my first post on this to imagine saying something like this to a Christian couple trying to conceive a child. What would be gained by telling them that instead of focusing on a child, they need to work on their relationship with God? Would you want to imply the reason they are not having success in achieving pregnancy is because they are not focused enough on God?

This adds to the problem by saying the divorced person is the one directly responsible for their own suffering. They neglected God and God let them have it by taking away the person they loved. I doubt many people would come out and directly say it this way, but that is the way it can come across.

So now let’s talk about what to say instead.

Last time, I said to be the love of God to the person instead of telling them about it and I think the same applies here. Be that person who walks with the one who is suffering. Want them to work on their relationship with God? Often to do a book study with them on a book of the Bible or maybe a good Christian book on recovering from divorce.

This is also why groups like DivorceCare are so helpful. People who are going through divorce can meet with others who are doing the same. We can all share our sufferings and questions together and yes, have a lot of laughs as well as we form friendships together.

If a person wants a new relationship, that’s also not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a natural desire for many of us to not want to be alone. There’s no need to just automatically pour cold water on the idea. Now you can talk with them and ask them how ready they are and give them your assessment, but be fair and listen to them. If they express desires, don’t get after them for it. Just listen to them about it.

Everyone needs to work on their relationship with God. Saying it to someone going through divorce can often leave them with guilt and can be very uncaring. Lead by example. Show how you are working on your relationship and guide the person in their walk with God.

Be Jesus to them instead of just talking about Him with them.

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

Be Of Good Cheer

How do you help your brother in need? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I appreciate the concern for yesterday’s post. I am in a better place today. It had been a time of a lot heading at me the day before that it had just been overbearing and now things are doing much better after making some necessary changes.

Still, I am usually a moody and quiet individual. Last night while out in public, I encountered two ladies and one of them said that she hopes I’m in better mood tomorrow and to smile. After all, God loves you.

Now that stuck with me. It’s not because I was overcome with sudden joy. It’s not because I question the claim. It’s because as I heard it, that claim was extremely shallow. Let’s do this by putting in some other situations.

Imagine if this lady had met someone whose son had just died in a car accident or whose husband had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. How would that have come over? It would be true, naturally, but it wouldn’t really address what the person is going through.

As I thought about it, it got me thinking of James 2.

“15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

Charles Schulz once did this comic that shows what James has in mind.

So how is Snoopy better off after this? Not a bit. If anything, he has less care for those who came over to comfort him. He’s cold in the snow and has just been given a feel-good saying.

By contrast, I remember encountering someone who I could tell was going through a hard time yesterday and did something radical. I asked what was wrong. I then listened and gave a comment of support back. This is someone who knows me so I told them I would pray for their situation as I had to go and it was appreciated.

Notice that first part. What is wrong? That was actually asked. It wasn’t just “Cheer up, buttercup.” Scripture tells us to do this. Mourn with those who mourn. If James is concerned about physical needs, could he also be concerned about emotional, spiritual, mental, situational, etc. needs?

Sometimes, that could require a time investment. If you don’t have it, it could be best to not offer anything. Keep in mind also some of us with personalities are very different anyway. Normally, I do not smile a lot and I do not talk to people I don’t know a lot. That can be even if I am in a good mood.

Let’s also keep in mind that I am sure that Jesus in the Garden knew that God loved Him and knew that on the cross, but Jesus is not happy at those points. Jesus is a sad Jesus. He says His soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Knowing God loves you does not mean you will always be happy.

I cannot explain why that is, but we all know that it’s true. Now consider that I am a Christian hearing this saying. What happens if you are not a Christian? How do you see Christians then? Could you not be more like Gideon who is told “The Lord is with you?” and be wanting to say, “If that’s true, then why XYZ?”

Some non-Christians could be hardened against God.

So what do you do with the sufferers? You actually enter into their suffering. You try to understand where they’re coming from. That does require work and effort and you have to determine if you can do that at the time. If not, maybe don’t say anything and just pray on your own for the well-being of the person and help for what they are going through.

God loves you, but sometimes, you do need to just be heard and listened to. Sometimes it can help a person even if you don’t even say anything back. If they just know you’re listening, that can be enough. Platitudes though are looked down on for a reason, whether they’re true or not. The intent may be good, but it doesn’t come across well.

Try entering into the suffering instead. It’s definitely worth it.

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

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)

Book Plunge: The Giver

What do I think of Lois Lowry’s book published by Laurel Leaf, Paperback? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I had an old neighbor post on Facebook about how she was concerned that her son is being told in school to read a book called The Giver. I talked with her a little bit, but I didn’t do anything beyond at that point. Then I saw one of her neighbors post something about the book asking if anyone remembered being asked to read it.

So at that point I decided I would see what I could find out. I went to Libby and managed to borrow the book for free on Kindle. I had been told that there was a lot of dark stuff in the book and I do know that there is a lot of garbage being shared and taught in schools. When a book is mandated, I don’t know what to expect so I started reading this one and I will try to avoid spoilers.

The story deals with a sort of dystopian society in the near future. The oddity is that this dystopian society on the surface looks like a place that you would want to live. People seem to get along well and everyone has their job. People are not rude to each other and do not live with great pain. Suffering is dealt with very easily.

The story centers around a boy named Jonas. He lives in a society where he and his friends have their names, but I noticed that adults are never named. Their parents are referred to as Father and Mother. That’s it. I cannot remember a single adult that was named in the book.

In the society, it is unclear how the children come to be. After all, as Jonas is coming of age, he starts to have what are known as the “stirrings” In this, he has a dream where he wants another girl in the community to take off all her clothes and get in a tub. The mother starts telling him to take a pill every day.

In this society, rudeness is rebuked at every chance and everyone has to be precise with their language. Children grow up with a discipline wand and get smacked if they do something out of line until they learn the rules. People apologize at the slightest possibility that they might have offended someone and every evening, they share their feelings time where they talk about their feelings.

Children are also divided by their ages. At the start, Jonas is an eleven and his sister Lily is a Seven. It is unclear to me if all these kids are said to be born at the same time so that they come of age at the same time. Children are not really born in the family but more assigned in the family. It’s unclear how this works, but it is a book for youth.

At each age, the way the children behave change. Lily at seven is still allowed to have a comfort object which is a stuffed animal and she looks forward to being a nine when she gets her own bike. The big age is twelve when each person gets their assignment and role in the community.

As you go through the book, you also learn that animals don’t really exist in this society, aside from apparently fish. Jonas starts noticing some items in his society changing and he can’t really explain it and the reader is unsure what is happening. As the story progresses, you learn what the society is missing.

Jonas is assigned a role to be the keeper of the memories of the community and works with the person called the Giver. I really don’t want to say much beyond that except Jonas starts seeing that what his life is is largely a facade. The people are living in a society where their major life choices like spouse and work are made for them by the leaders all because if the leaders don’t, the person could make the wrong choice and that could hurt.

That doesn’t mirror anything in our society at all does it?

We don’t live in a society where we try to do anything we can to avoid someone suffering. We don’t live in a society where everyone’s feelings are put in the place of utmost importance do we? Nope. Not us.

But the problem is, this society has to eliminate a lot of good to protect everyone from pain. Medication is there to make sure no one really experiences deep pain. Love is not a word that is used because that could lead to rejection. I suspect this is also why “the stirrings” are eliminated because sexual attraction and relationships can lead to a lot of pain. Again, how the kids come about is not entirely explained.

And there are even darker things underneath the surface of this society. That gets into a lot of spoilers so I don’t want to go into it. Still, learn that this society is one that has a lot of evil going on and it is treated as if it is normal.

So now, is this for kids, such as pre-teens or young teens?

I think it’s obviously not for kids in the single digits. These kids need to be old enough to understand the birds and the bees. Now it is true that this book has a lot of darkness in it, but the good reality is that this is presented as evil.

It’s another lesson that we really can’t create a perfect utopia society. This might be a society without pain and suffering, but it is not a society you should want to live in, especially when you see all that is missing in this world as everyone tries to achieve “sameness.” Any time people try to create a perfect society, it only ends in tears.

Suffering is a part of reality this side of eternity and doing everything to avoid it will in the end only lead to more suffering. A good society will not try to eliminate suffering ruthlessly, but will realize that you can learn through the suffering on the path of being good. A good society will also celebrate childhood. It will accept children playing and coming into adulthood on their own.

In the end, I did enjoy the book. I am considering if I want to read the rest of the series. It’s just that I have so many books that I am reading right now and I spent a lot of time recently because I had to go through all six books of the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy. (No. That is not a typo or ignorance. Fans of the series understand six books in a trilogy.)

So while children I think should read this, it would be good for their parents to be there to discuss evil and suffering. Frankly, most of us grow up not knowing how to explain evil and too often we just take an often easy answer. “There’s no God.” Okay. That doesn’t really deal with the problem. As I have said earlier, if you take this route, then you still have the problem and you eliminate the solution.

In the end, this is an interesting book and a good one to introduce children to the idea of a dystopian society. I also hope our society will learn from it. Trying to protect everyone from any suffering will not end well. Teaching people how to deal with it is a lot better.

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

Removing God From Evil

Why does it not make sense to me to see people make the argument from evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Suppose you know the basic Christian claims, but you don’t know the reasons behind them. You don’t know the case for why Jesus rose from the dead and you don’t know the case for the existence of God. Suppose also that you don’t really know the arguments for atheism. You don’t see a strong case for something like evolution so you’re skeptical. Essentially, you’re a more neutral person in this debate. I realize this is highly unlikely, but this is a thought analogy.

Now you are presented with the problem of evil. Again, you don’t know a strong case against God or for God one way or the other. All you know is that if you go with this problem, then you have a case for not thinking God exists. It’s not a certain one, but it’s a probabilistic one. However, you also know something else about the problem of evil.

You know the problem of evil entails real suffering. You know a woman being raped involves real suffering. You know children starving in Africa involves real suffering. You know that there have been such evils in the past as 9/11 and the holocaust.

You also know that on atheism, at least what you are presented, those are still being seen as evil. You also know that on theism, especially Christian theism, there is a good God who is involved in some way you are told and will one day redeem the suffering people go through and bring about justice. You don’t know how this will happen or when, but you know on Christianity, it is claimed to be happening someday.

Then you start to think. “If I go with this argument, then I remove God from the picture and if I do, there is no basis for redemption of suffering or future justice.” That means that the rapist can still get away with it. That means the children dying just pass out of existence. That means that some people who were involved in the holocaust will never face ultimate justice.

You remove God from the picture, and yet the evil still exists. The person who has been raped has still been raped. The child who is dying in Africa is still dying. 9/11 and the holocaust still happened regardless.

What have you gained from this? You still have the problem and not a solution. It would seem that on a practical ground at least, you would want theism of some kind to be true. Note that I am not speaking on the argumentative level here. I am not saying at this point the arguments for Christian theism or atheism are better. I’m speaking about which one would you at least want to be true?

From my standpoint, at least on theism, you can have some level of hope regardless. If the rapist is never found, you can at least believe that there is a God who will judge him one day. If you go through suffering, you can at least believe that that suffering will be redeemed not just for good, but also for your good. You can believe that the innocents who die can be brought into the loving manifest presence of God and enjoy Him forever.

To be fair, I could also understand an atheist who would see this and say “It would be wonderful if that was true, and I honestly wish it was, but I don’t believe that it is.” That’s a fair position. I don’t understand anyone who would say, “I really don’t want that to be true. I don’t want justice to be brought to the evildoer and I don’t want suffering to be redeemed for good.” That doesn’t really make sense. You could go on and say it’s a fairy tale if you want to, but still say, “It would be nice though if that fairy tale was true.”

For me then, when I then look at the arguments for and against Christian theism, the arguments for have a lot more power to them. Evil is a very good argument to appeal to one’s emotions, but from a rational and a practical standpoint, I find it greatly lacking. This is not to say one cannot argue against God on other grounds, but evil is not the best one. It also is not to say that one should say Christian theism is true because they want it to be true. Not at all. None of this is an argument for Christian theism. It is just a way of looking at the problem as it is presented.

This is definitely nothing against making arguments for theism and definitely not saying we don’t need to answer the problem of evil. We do. This is just my saying from a practical standpoint, the argument doesn’t make sense. It might seem to gain an intellectual victory perhaps, but it doesn’t really change the suffering and removes the hope in the face of that suffering.

Also, none of this resolves us whatever our viewpoint of our responsibility. While those of us who are Christians do believe in prayer, if we just pray while there is something more we can do, then we have not done enough. If you have a loved one in a car accident and they are in the doctor’s care, then prayer is about all you can do, but you could possibly also visit the rest of the family and be support. You might not be able to go overseas and feed starving children in Africa, but you can support a missionary or special program to help provide food and water for them.

By the way, one such organization to go to is Jonathan’s Impact. They are friends of Deeper Waters. Jonathan was a young boy who I never got to meet, but looked up to me from a distance and I invested a lot of time in this fine young man. His death is certainly a tragedy, but his parents are fulfilling a deep desire that Jonathan had. If you want to help out the people in Africa, please consider this organization.

So in the end, I find from just a practical standpoint the argument from evil removes hope. From a philosophical standpoint on other grounds, I find it just fails. However, if I didn’t have the philosophy, I would at least want something like Christian theism to be true.

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

Isaiah 45:7

Did God create evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

You’re reading in Isaiah and you come across this passage in 45:7.

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

If you’re a Christian, this doesn’t seem right. If you’re an atheist, you jump up and down like you just found buried treasure and go straight on Facebook to share your profound knowledge that even the Bible teaches that God created evil. Take that Christians! Your God is the source of evil Himself!

But if you’re thoughtful on either side, you pause and ask what is going on in the passage. That’s really a much more rational approach to take. After all, if something seems to go against the whole thrust of the story, then you need to see if you might be misunderstanding something. To my atheist readers, you should also want to be sure of this. You know how you think some Christians can embarrass themselves, and they do, when they don’t know anything about evolution and argue against it? Don’t be the same with the Bible.

So what is going on? This passage is talking about Cyrus going out before the Lord to bring about judgment. Like Babylon, Cyrus will be an instrument of God. Yes. I know atheists are already having an issue about a man’s name being given 200 years in advance, but the dating of Isaiah is a separate point to this one so let’s bookshelf that one for now. We’re taking the passage as is.

God is then talking about what He brings about in the world. Light and darkness are the first examples. Many of us don’t like the dark, but darkness does not necessarily equal evil. The night time is not an evil time. In Scripture, God is the God of the night time just as much as He is of the day. The night is a blessed time where we can all sleep and recharge for the next day.

However, we can see light and darkness as opposites. These are parallels. Sometimes in Hebrew, this is known as a merism. You mention two opposite things to include everything between them. When the Bible says God created the Heavens and the Earth, it is talking about two contrasting objects that really means in essence, everything. God made it all.

When we see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, this is also a merism. It doesn’t mean that the couple had no idea of good or evil beforehand or any epistemology. It is speaking in language of wisdom more than anything else. It is saying that Adam and Eve by taking the fruit would make themselves to be the source of wisdom and order for their lives and not God. We should all know in Scripture wisdom is kind of a big deal.

So it is with this, we see light and darkness to form a contrast. Then we look at the next topic. That’s peace and evil. Attentive readers should realize this doesn’t exactly work the same way as light and darkness. We know those two are opposites. Peace and evil are not necessarily opposites. We can say peace is good, but is it always. Suppose no one ever went to war to stop Hitler and his concentration camps. Jews were rounded up around Europe and destroyed. Would Europe have peace? Sure. Would that be good. No. War was a good thing here because it brought an end to suffering. I realize one could say the Jews didn’t have peace, and that is true, but the good benefit of World War II was we brought peace to them and to Europe by stopping an evil man.

Even more, we can look at the Hebrew words here. The word for peace is Shalom, which is to be expected, and the word for evil is ra. Ra can mean evil, but it can mean a variety of things, even bad figs. Hebrew is in some ways a limited language where one word can have multiple meanings.

The word is used in Genesis to describe the bad vines and cows in the dreams of Pharaoh. Jacob uses the word to describe sorrow if he lost Benjamin. It describes mischief in Exodus 32. It describes beasts in Leviticus 26, which I don’t think can be considered evil. The thing is, I could easily keep going and list more examples. If you want to see more, they’re all available online. I have no need to keep demonstrating the point.

Not only that, the best opposite word for evil would be Tov. That would mean goodness, as it does in Genesis 1. That is not what is used. So what is being said?

It’s talking about calamity. God can bring that about on a people that He says are doing evil. God is a God of judgment. If people do evil, God will judge them eventually which can be in the form of calamity. Why should He allow peace for a nation that is evil and disregards Him? If we want justice at all in this world, we have to realize some people will experience calamity.

So to Christian readers, no need to panic. God did not create evil. To atheist readers, no need to jump up and down as if you found the Fountain of Youth. The argument you want is not here.

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

Colorado Shooting And Mental Illness

What is the main culprit? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Another shooting has taken place and I know the media went one way immediately and jumped to race. Well, that didn’t age well. While conservatives like myself disagree with them on that, too many times, conservatives will also say the other culprit that exists in these cases in their minds along with the media and that is mental illness.

I realize that the family is saying that the shooter (Let’s not mention his name) was mentally ill. They could be right, but that is not an assessment to be made lightly. Many of us have a problem, and rightly so, when someone claims to be an internet doctor where they diagnose themselves going on Web M.D. After all, you look up symptoms for a common cold and walk away thinking you have terminal cancer.

The same applies to mental illness. Diagnosing yourself is not recommended. One is supposed to go see a therapist or trained psychiatrist, someone professional, to get a diagnosis. It’s also not wise to diagnose someone from a distance. These are not light claims.

Yet whenever a shooting like this takes place, mental illness is brought up immediately. Why? Well, surely someone who would do a great evil like this is mentally ill. No one in their right mind would do this.

Why not?

People who have no mental illness do things that are wrong everyday. Sure, not to the level of a mass shooting, but they do evil and some do so with a clear conscience. I consider abortion a great evil and people go and get one in their right minds because they buy into the idea that they are not killing a human person.

Not only that, but we speak of mental illness as if it were a clear term all throughout. It’s not. Mental illness is a wide umbrella that contains many conditions under it. Consider if I said hospitals are for people who are sick. Okay. That doesn’t mean you need to go to the ER for the common cold despite that being a sickness. It’s more for people who have serious conditions like cancer or who need to do some serious operation.

The same with mental illness. Many people with mental illnesses would not do a great evil like this just like many regular people wouldn’t. Technically, I can be said to have a mental illness. Sure. I can struggle with anger many times and have my own evil I struggle with, but I am not a mass murderer.

So why do we do this? Because I don’t think we want to face the fact that people really can do great evil and do it in their right minds. That’s hard on all of us. You want to know in reality who does have the potential to be the next mass shooter?

Every single one of us.

None of us is immune to evil. Sure, some are more likely than others, but if we look at who committed the greatest evils in the past, it’s been perfectly ordinary people. Consider the Milgram experiments. Perfectly ordinary people were willing to give someone what they thought was 450 volts.

Perfectly. Ordinary. People.

Think about that. You could say that wouldn’t be you, but isn’t that what most people who did this in the experiments would have said? Now you could say all of those were the ones with mental illness, but that would be begging the question.

I really suspect none of us want to face the evil that is within us. How many people have had to go to therapy suddenly because just one day, they uncovered something in their past and it gave them extremely strong emotions at the time that were difficult to handle? All of us who are ordinary people have been greatly hurt at some time in the past and have to deal with it.

Let’s suppose I meet two men in my work in ministry in the church. Both of them want to avoid getting into sexual sin. One says that he is really strong against pornography and won’t fall into it. The other one is worried sick that he will. I am more concerned about the former one. My thinking is that the moment you think you cannot give in to a sin, you are far closer to giving in to it than you think.

The media will continue to make race an issue, but as one on the spectrum, I want to deal with mental illness here instead. People who are mentally ill are not automatically evil. They, or rather we, need some help at times just like everyone else does. We have our struggles. We are your neighbors. We go to church with you, shop with you, play games with you, marry you, and go out to eat with you.

We’re not all mass shooters just like not all normal people aren’t mass shooters. However, we all of us alike have the capacity of great evil in us. Let’s all confront that together instead of just mentioning one group specifically.

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.

Don’t Stop With A Question

Do some skeptics really want answers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Have you ever seen a meme like this?

Now I fully agree that reality is interesting and we should not be content with ignorance. Unfortunately, the idea is that religions treat questions as something hideous to encounter and science loves the questions. Also, if you are someone who is scientific, you will want to go and find out the answers.

Now never mind that something like this never defines science or religion, but I can’t expect a meme to do something like that. I do have something to say on the idea I see that leads me to think that many skeptics do not truly have a scientific mindset. Anyone can raise a question, but how many questions are raised that one goes out and seeks the answers?

For instance, let’s consider a question in science. Many readers of my blog know I take no stance on evolution. I do not argue for it and I do not argue against it. My interpretation of Scripture doesn’t change depending on the question or does any doctrine of Christianity I hold to.

Yet if I had one question, it would be this. In reproduction, the whole of the male and female systems are essential and have to work together in order to produce a new life. I really don’t know how it is that these could develop independently. I can understand how some body systems could perhaps be formed by gradual steps. This one I don’t see.

At the same time, I know I am not studied in the sciences and so I don’t use that as a reason to disavow evolution entirely and say it’s nonsense. Some I have interacted with who do hold to evolution have presented real research done on this question which I appreciate. I honestly haven’t had the chance to do any of that yet since not too much hangs on this question to me. Before I said yes or no entirely to evolution, I would need to spend a lot of time in study and really, I have other things I want to study more.

Yet it would be a problem if I raised the question and said, “I see no answer to this question and I am not bothering to do the research and I will decide without doing that.” However, I think too many people do this with religion, and not just Christianity, but any religion. Of course, my main emphasis is on Christianity, but if you are fair to any worldview, the same applies.

Every worldview is complex. You are talking about how all of reality works. There will be hard questions and no, not every answer can fit into the Twitter character limit. Some questions require longer and more in-depth answers.

This is not just the way it is for religious worldviews. Theists have a lot of hard questions for atheists and atheists being honest will admit that these are real questions that need real answers if their worldviews are going to hold. The same applies for Christianity and any theistic worldview.

Anyone can raise a question, but if someone raises a question and says that question is keeping them from that position and is not seeking an answer to that question, I have to wonder if it is really an honest question. One such example against Christianity is the problem of evil. I really consider this a more simplistic way to try to eliminate Christianity. However, it does appeal to emotions which can easily override reason.

For one thing, everyone has to answer this question. This is our world together and we all have to deal with it. A skeptic could say that’s just the byproduct of a world of chaos, but at that point, someone like G.K. Chesterton would ask how the problem of pleasure is dealt with. Why is there so much that is good in this world? For some reason, this is not usually considered a problem, but it is.

Not only do we have to deal with evil, somehow we have to ask if there is any hope. Now a skeptic could freely agree and say “I agree that Christianity can provide hope for those suffering in an afterdeath, but there’s no way to prove that.” Sure. There isn’t, but this is about consistency. Is the Christian answer coherent and can it provide hope? Yes. That doesn’t mean it’s true, but it does mean it is consistent. (And no, just because an answer involves God does not mean that it is incoherent)

Anyone can raise the objection, but go and read the best defenses of the problem of evil, people like Alvin Plantinga and Clay Jones. See what they have to say. Maybe you won’t be convinced, but you can at least know what they think.

In the same way, whatever your question is, try to read the best that you can of what you’re questioning. Contrary to what you may think, Christians at least have been asking questions of themselves. If you go and read some of the early church fathers or later thinkers like Aquinas and Augustine, you would be tempted to think they were answering questions we are asking today. You could even say we were sometimes answering questions that weren’t even being asked. I seriously doubt in Aquinas’s day some people were questioning if God even existed, but lo and behold, his five ways are still used today.

Again, anyone can ask a question. Going and getting an answer is something different. It may require work and time, but if you care about a truth like that enough to a central question, it should be worth it.

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.