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.

Ravi and Atheism

What does it mean for theism when we have the fall of Ravi? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was part of the Mentionables Podcast where we talked about the whole Ravi situation. I wrote yesterday about the victims of Ravi Zacharias. Today, I would like to turn my attention to the arguments atheists are now putting forward about Ravi.

Let’s state this clearly. Ravi has no bearing on if Christianity is true or not. That rests solely on Jesus Christ and if He rose from the dead or not. All we can gather from Ravi is that those who call themselves Christians, and whether they are or not is not my judgment call to make, can be just as fallen as those they are preaching to.

Yet as soon as this happened, many atheists were sharing this as if this was a grand victory. I understand the desire, but keep in mind one way this is not a victory for anyone. There were real victims of what happened. Real people were hurt by Ravi. Let us never lose sight of them.

Many atheists have acted as if all of Christianity is responsible for this. Most of this sadly falls on what happened at RZIM. Even here, we don’t really know about who knew what and what they could have done otherwise. Without knowing the ins and outs of the organization, it’s hard to know what was going on and thus make a judgment call.

Most of us then had no power to do anything whatsoever in this situation. Not to mention there are plenty of Christians in other countries that could have even less to do with the situation. They are not responsible at all.

Now do atheists demonstrate that some Christians are hypocrites. Yes, to which, they don’t go far enough. All Christians are hypocrites. Nay. That’s not going far enough still. All human beings are hypocrites. The only exception would be the human being who has no moral standards whatsoever, and let’s face it, we don’t want to be around him anyway.

Ironically, many atheists when pulling this demonstrate that we all know that Christianity should produce a higher character. It has been said that hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue. When Christians fall short, that is supposed to demonstrate something about Christianity.

It doesn’t. It demonstrates something about Christians. It’s odd to imagine a philosophy where you judge the philosophy by how people don’t manage to live up to it. Consider it like abstinence. When people don’t live up to it, it’s considered a failed philosophy. What failed though is the unwillingness of the person to follow it and I know many people who practice abstinence and I definitely did up until marriage.

Now what about other positions? Are Christians and others inconsistent when we make statements about the violence in Islam or the destruction caused by atheists in atheistic societies? The difference here is what is being pointed out is the logical outworking of the position. In Islam, Muhammad himself engaged in the violent behavior and his followers immediately did that and there are passages in the Qur’an that lead to that interpretation.

As for atheism, it can be argued that if there is no God, all is permissible, as Dostoyevsky argued. Some atheists have acknowledged this as well. If this is the case, then why not go ahead and murder millions of your own people? Why not the Gulag? Why not the Killing Fields?

Keep in mind none of this is saying all atheists or Muslims are like this. It is not saying all of them are responsible for the evils in their belief system. Once 9/11 took place, that doesn’t mean every Muslim in America was responsible. One would need to show a certain Muslim knew about what was going on and then they would be responsible.

What Ravi did was horrible and honestly, if our critics are saying something about moral character, we all need to pay attention. However, this doesn’t demonstrate Christianity is false. Also in all of this, whatever our position, let us come together on the fact that the victims still need our support and we should seek to help them however we can.

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

To Ravi’s Victims

What do you say to those who have been abused? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s really hard to think about the idea of Ravi’s victims. Ravi was a man so many of us admired who seemed to have excellent character. Now we know it wasn’t so. There are some people who say Ravi has died twice. He died once on May 19, 2020, and he died again when we saw his reputation and who he was.

Last night, I took part in a discussion with the Mentionables on the Ravi situation. One message I made sure to give was one for the victims. I don’t recall exactly what I said, but I want to give a similar sentiment and maybe go further here. I don’t know if anyone reading this is a victim of Ravi, but if were, this is for you.

First, I want to stress that I said you were a victim of Ravi. However, this is your life. It is up to you, but you can choose to live your life from this point on and even enjoy it. In the past, you let a wicked man have power over you. Any time you move past that, you are breaking the hold of power over you.

Second, this is not your fault. Even if you felt coerced and even if you didn’t really want to do whatever you did, there are many factors that go into that choice and you regret that choice today. The person who does the crime is always the one who is responsible. It is not you.

However, you need to know from now on this is your life. You never need to do something you don’t really want to do like that. An abuser is not entitled to your body. No one should use threats to get you to perform for them in any way whatsoever.

Please understand I am not saying that this is easy. It is not simply that you get up and say “I’m going to choose joy in my life” and it’s easy from then on. This will likely be a long and difficult journey, but you are worth it. You will need a very good therapist to work with you on this and it will be a long process as I said, but it is worth it. It is worth it because this is your life and that life is worth it.

Third, what happened to you had nothing to do with Jesus. Ravi will stand before Jesus Christ now to give an answer for what he did and there will be no partiality given. At the same time, I fully understand your hesitancy to consider Jesus Christ in light of what happened to you.

However, if Christianity is true, Jesus Christ does have a great love for you and a great promise of deliverance. Isn’t that worth considering? If it is true, isn’t that offering what you want? It’s okay to be skeptical and I invite your questions about this matter.

Please consider that there are several good Christians who are willing to come alongside you and help you. The huge majority of us don’t work at RZIM and even of those who do, how many were in a position to know what was going on or do something about it? We have no power there, but all of us have power as the church to do what we can to help someone who is suffering, including the victims of Ravi. Yes. RZIM needs to do all they can to help the victims since Ravi was the perpetrator, but we as the church need to do all we can to help them since we are the church and those who are victims are human beings Jesus loves and died for.

What happened to you is over, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your story. It doesn’t have to define you. You can rise above this. You do not have to be a victim. Victimhood does not have to define your life. Victory can.

May we all continuously pray for you.

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

Colonoscopy Thoughts

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

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

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

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

So what did I learn from this event?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Plunge: God and the Pandemic

What do I think of N.T. Wright’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I really like reading N.T. Wright and I try to read anything by him that I can get my hands on. I was a bit hesitant about this one, however. After all, as much as I think Wright is wonderful on theology and history, I sometimes question his political approaches. Would I see more of that in here? Would I see approaches to blame the right or even the left or would I see a drastic push that we must have universal health care now?

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a bit on universal health care at the end, but not much. If anything, Wright said something I have been saying for some time. Too often, the church has done work in an area, but we have been happy to let the government take it off of our hands. When plague spread through Rome before, it was the Christians who cared for the sick the most. Even the apostate emperor Julian said that Christians were better at caring for the poor and sick than the Roman Empire.

Wright also has a problem with people who try to see the hand in God in all of this. “Ah. A pandemic has come. Now people are ready to hear the message of Christianity.” Yes, some might be. Some might be more resistant actually and be willing to blame God for allowing it to happen or think that He directly caused it to happen.

In all of this, Wright has the right emphasis. He points us back to Jesus every time. If we are saying that now is the right time, then we are saying that the words of Jesus before were insufficient. Jesus told us what we must do. We are to go out there and do it.

In Acts 11, the church hears about a plague coming and immediately, the cry goes up that this is the perfect time to tell people about Jesus. Wait. You didn’t read that in the Bible? That’s right. They instead said “Who is going to be the most affected and what can we do to help them?” It might sound like just something practical, but that is what they did and that is the example left for us in Scripture.

Wright’s words are meant to give hope to those who are suffering wondering when it will end, but are also calling everyone else to go out there and be Jesus to the populace. With regard to churches opening up, there are both sides, although he does deal with a silly idea one parishioner has that the devil doesn’t know how to get in a church. He just tells her that as a bishop, he can assure her that the devil certainly does know how.

This is really classic Wright throughout the book, but the good thing is hopefully with it being about a pandemic, more people will read it and take it seriously. The church would be far better if more people were familiar with N.T. Wright. I may not agree with him on the political and practical questions surrounding Corona, but I certainly agree with him on the topic of Jesus.

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

Pets and Suffering

What can pets teach us about evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re awfully odd. Many of us take in creatures that are predators. They hunt and kill other smaller animals and eat them. It’s not anything pretty to think about. These creatures also eat their own poop and sometimes we have to clean up their poop for them. We know them as cats and dogs.

And why? Do we want other animals hunted? For some, this could be the case. My family’s first cat came because we had a mouse problem, but before too long, the reason for the treatment of the cat was not mice, but just a love for the cat. From then on, we were getting cats just because we loved cats.

Some people get dogs for the purpose of hunting. My in-laws, however, have a dog and they now have their second one after the sad passing of Nessie last year. While some value dogs for hunting, my mother-in-law was not pleased when Nessie brought a dead squirrel to her.

Nessie would eat her own poop. That sure isn’t an appealing thought to have. For our cat Shiro, I have to regular scoop into a litter box and clean out his. That’s also not a pleasant thought. With Shiro, we end up spending a good deal of our money making sure that he is taken care of.

And for what?

For Shiro, it’s just companionship and comfort. There’s something nice about having the little guy come sit on the arm of the chair when I play a game or watch something on TV. Sometimes, he seems to want me to hold him for a little bit and then he’s done and wants to go his own way. I love the little guy, but it would be hard to really put a finger on why. I just do. Taking him in though was realizing we would have to make sacrifices.

When we first got him, we had been apartment hunting and someone had abandoned him and he wandered the complex looking for food. We went back one more time and we were told the pound was going to get him the next day. We decided to take him in. Very few people supported that choice, but we did it. I don’t blame them for being skeptical about it. It costs a lot of money to take care of a pet and they had our best interests at heart, but now most of them also know taking him in was a great decision.

Yet that first day, he didn’t think so. I remember going into the apartment office and there Shiro was and the staff had a maintenance man trying to catch him so we could put him in a kitty carrier we had got. His first time with us was spent taking him to the vet to check on shots and matters like that. That’s hardly a good introduction.

Slowly though, he came to trust us. Our first night with him, he had ran under the bed, so Allie and I just went to sleep. Around 2:30 in the morning, I heard the cat crying. Now I had told Allie she wanted the cat the most so he would be her responsibility, but being the good and loving husband that I am, I did what any good and loving husband would do when the cat whines at that time of night.

“Honey. Wake up. The baby needs you.”

As it turns out, we both got up and stayed with him for about an hour and he actually ate for the first time. As it turns out, for awhile, he would only eat when Allie was watching him. As I wrote this, I just now heard his food machine go off indicating breakfast is ready, and it saddens me now because like the first time, he had to go to the vet today.

Nothing serious. No need to worry. It’s just a regular check-up. Still, that sound is a reminder of his absence. On the way, Shiro whined some and I am sure he doesn’t care much for me right now. After all, I put him in a kitty carrier and he hasn’t got to eat.

Now the difference between a cat or a dog or any other animal is a finite distance. The degree of difference between a human and God is infinite. We can never fully understand God. The interesting point about the passage of “My ways are not your ways” is really not about that, but about how God is so willing to forgive the wicked when we are so not. The wicked fear turning to God for judgment. God tells them He is not like us. He forgives. They just have to repent before they can receive it.

So it is that right now, assuming Shiro is still cautious as they have to get him anesthesia to work on him, he probably does not understand why he is there at all. What did he do to deserve this treatment? Now I am not saying that Shiro is thinking like we do, but I am sure it is confusing. This is just a way of saying that if a cat could think like we do, could he understand this?

Not only that, but when Shiro communicates to me, I don’t always understand. I rarely do really. I don’t speak kitty. I don’t know exactly what a purr means or what a meow. I’m pretty sure I understand what it means when he hisses at me, but that’s about it.

There is also a difference in that I can feel compassion for Shiro. Possibly, his whining could motivate me to not put him in a cage and take him to the vet, but that would not be love. That would be just me acting for my own interest in not wanting my cat to think ill of me temporarily. It’s not really a loving thing to do.

If this distance is hard to understand, then imagine the much wider gulf between man and God. Part of the whole problem of evil is when we assume that God must give a justification for His actions. No doubt, we want to understand a lot of them, but isn’t that a high presumption right at the start to assume that if God exists, His actions must be in the wrong?

As one who holds to impassibility, I also don’t believe God has feelings for us in any way. This does not mean God does not love us or care for us, but it does mean we can’t change God in any way, which would include emotionally. This is really a good thing. Do we want it that we could blackmail God in some way by pulling at heartstrings and have Him do things for us just because He wants us to think well of Him?

God will do things to us at times knowing we will not understand them and that we will even resent Him for them. We will accuse Him of being in the wrong. God does them anyway. He does them because He knows what it is that He seeks to accomplish for the good.

Does this mean we cannot love God if He does things to us that hurt us that we don’t understand? Not a bit. Understanding why someone does something, even if it seems cruel to you, does not mean you cannot love that person. There’s one person many of us do love that does things all the time that we don’t understand and are hurtful and we love them anyway. That person is ourselves.

How many of us love ourselves, but we do things we don’t understand to ourselves. We want to lose weight, but we open another box of Oreos. We want to stop drinking, but we wind up going to the bar. We want to love our wives more, but we’re watching pornography instead. We want to save money, but we go on a shopping spree. We can say we get some pleasure from these actions, but how many times are we doing something and asking ourselves, “Why am I doing this?’

Yet we still love.

We love because we seek our own good. To love is to seek the good of that which is loved. Even the person attempting suicide in some way loves themselves. After all, they want to put themselves out of their pain and misery. In a twisted way, they want something better for themselves. It is a wrong way and it is too much an emphasis on self, but it is still seeking the good.

If we cannot understand our very selves and we cannot fathom how we could explain things to our pets, why do we think we could understand God or that He could even explain things to us in a way that would make sense to us? The problem is likely so multi-faceted that it’s beyond us. What we have to ask is overall, do we trust God even when there are aspects that we do not understand. That is not a requirement to love after all, as we do the same with ourselves.

Hopefully, before too long I will pick up Shiro with a good report. He will be angry for awhile, but in the evening if I get in some gaming or watching something, I hope he will be right there next to me. Perhaps I don’t know why I care about Him, but then I don’t give God anything He needs and He could do just fine without me and yet He has a great love for me.

Maybe it’s best to just accept it.

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

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)