The Death Of A Reputation

How will you be remembered? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This morning I woke up and saw on Facebook my memories and what do I see? I see right off the memory of the death of Ravi Zacharias. This was two years ago today.

In the past, I really admired Ravi. When I first got into apologetics, something about his approach and intellectual reasoning was compelling to me. I am sure when I first heard him, his voice was a big draw as he spoke in a way that to me sounded very informed.

I met him a number of times and he knew me well. Ravi was one of the most popular apologists of our time. There was even one time when I tried to get a job at RZIM. Looking back now, I am thankful that that did not happen.

As many of you know, after Ravi’s death, a firm that had been hired by RZIM investigated Ravi and found that he had a horrid secret life. In this life, he sexually violated many many women. I remember reading the report about it late at night and I almost had to stop reading because I felt like I was going to be sick.

Nowadays when I talk with people about him, it’s always a shame. We sometimes discuss if he really died as a Christian or not. I honestly don’t know. The fact that I even say that I find very saddening.

There was a time in one of his talks I heard somewhere on CD where a lady went to see him who was skeptical of Christianity. On the way back, this lady was asked by the person driving her, “What did you think?” To this, she answered, “I wonder what his private life is like.” Unfortunately, we now know.

Ravi did his indiscretions multiple times, but unfortunately for many of us, it only really takes one time. Someone in ministry can have one affair and that shuts down everything. All it can take is one moment of weakness and before too long, the end has come to one’s reputation.

Some of you can think I am extreme in my ways in which I react around women to make sure I don’t fall into that trap. There’s a reason for that. Now that I am a single man again, I realize the temptation all the more. Not only that, I regularly have to give an explanation for my divorce whenever I go anywhere. Many of us who have gone down this path often are upset that it gets treated like the unforgivable sin.

Ravi now sadly is a reminder of how a life can go downhill so easily. Not only that, many of us think about Ravi, myself included, and it’s easy to forget the true sorrow here, the numerous women that he violated. Odds are, we will never know their names, but many of them will have their impression of Christianity damaged by this man and could thus be cut off from the truest healing that they need.

Watch your reputation, especially when it comes to sex, the number one area it seems that we fall at. There are many a skeptic of Christianity who does at least admire the character of Jesus in the Gospels. Bart Ehrman even says that Jesus is still one of his heroes. We are to live a life like that such that even if our opponents disagree with us intellectually, they could hopefully admit that we do practice what we preach truly.

When your times comes, live such that you will be remembered with sadness that you’re gone and appreciation for how well you lived. It’s natural to wonder what happened when Ravi stood before God. It’s better to ask us what will happen when we do.

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

Being Asked About Divorce

Should divorced people be questioned about their divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As readers should know, I am applying for seminary and right now, answering questions about my divorce. When my work manager asked about my application and I told her I was answering questions about my divorce she told me that she thought that was none of their business. I understand that sentiment honestly, but the more I thought about that, the more I thought it’s entirely their business.

It’s strange that whenever I have gone for a job interview, no employer has ever asked me questions about morality and my worldview around it. Would I want to hire an accountant who was a master with numbers, but did not think stealing was wrong? Would you want to see a doctor who thought that it was okay to commit murder, or worse a surgeon who thought that?

Why does this matter for the ministry? Because ministry is an aspect where you are meant to live a holy life. If so, I should not mind being questioned about the life that I have led and since marriage is one of the most important questions, I should not mind being questioned on that.

I understand some people feel frustrated when years later after being remarried and showing themselves to be a faithful spouse, they are still questioned about the previous marriage, but we are talking about people who do not know us as well as people who have known us for years. If we have done nothing wrong, we could consider it a bother, but in the end, why not be grateful? These should not be seen as quests to out us on something, but quests to see if we are fit to hold a leadership position in the Christian ministry community.

I also think this should not apply to just divorced people. It should apply to marrieds and never marrieds. If a man is a pastor in a church, I think he should have accountability software on his computer and devices and should not be allowed to have devices that don’t have monitoring. These would not be used to spy, but simply to report behavior that could be pornographic in nature, for example. I also think if he is married that he and his wife should be required to have their marriage status questioned regularly to see how things are going and if they are both living holy in their marriage.

Many of the same would apply to someone who is single. If he starts dating someone, he should have someone also he can be held accountable to to ask the nature of the dates. This is not to get personal information, but to make sure that purity is being kept up. Is he following the steps and not playing loose with sexual temptation?

Now why do this? Because holiness matters and consider how much damage it does the Christian church when we hear about someone who has betrayed that trust? The most egregious example out there is without a doubt, Ravi Zacharias. There are many others who this has happened to and barring the return of Christ, there will be many more this happens to and how many of these could have been caught early if we had been practicing accountability?

Does that mean I like being questioned about the status of my divorce and how it happened? No, but I also don’t like going to the doctor and getting a shot if I am sick with something. I also don’t like having to go to work when I get tremendously bored there. There are many things I do that I don’t particularly like doing, but I know that they are good for me to do.

The same applies here. We are in the business of walking and talking like Jesus did and we need to be held accountable. It would be better for us to be held accountable before our fellow Christians and thus not stumble, than to not be held accountable by them, stumble, and then be held accountable before the world.

So to my fellow divorced people, when you are questioned, I understand it’s rough, but be thankful somewhere or try to be. These are people wanting to make sure you are living holy. They do not know you as well as the people who have known you for years and you are often coming in with them blind to who you are. Be understanding and appreciate being held accountable.

In the past, I would have loved to have been a man like Ravi. Now, I want to make sure I am not like him. If that requires accountability, I should gladly take it.

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

Feeling vs. Being

Where is our focus in society today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been pondering lately and this is still open-ended, as all our ponderings should be, about where the focus is in our society and many of the connections come across various lines of thought. For example, this past Saturday I had Mormons come and visit me. If you have ever dialogued with them, you know where they point to every time. It is an experience. It is the burning in the bosom.

I am also going through a book called Irreparable Damage written from a secular perspective on teenage girls coming out as transgender. Part of the work today is affirmation therapy where it looks like if a patient claims to be transgender, well, they are, and it’s best to affirm their attitude and if the parents don’t the child could kill themselves. It is not about why they feel this way or if they should. The inner attitude is given precedence.

While driving, I am also going through Peggy Orenstein’s book on CD, Girls and Sex. Last night, I heard her talk about how girls are having operations done on their genitals while they are teenagers merely for the sake of appearance. These operations do not improve sexual pleasure or function and can actually impede it. Still, these girls are doing this just to make sure they don’t gross a boy out in a possible sexual encounter. As an aside, if you are a parent of girls, either teenage or on their way, you really need to read this book and see what’s coming.

All of these have a common theme and it runs throughout our society. We live in a world where we talk so much about how we feel and talk very little about how we are. Not only that, we are responsible for how everyone else outside of us feels. This does not mean we cause unnecessary pain, but the only person we are in control of us is ourselves. If you feel offended and hurt by what I say or do, it could be I’m a jerk, but it could also be that you need to work on how you receive information and process it.

We don’t often ask what kind of character we are producing. Do we feel good about ourselves, as per the self-esteem movement? That is what is most important to people today. What should be of utmost importance is what kind of character we are producing. Are we becoming good and virtuous people?

After all, there are many times where we should not feel good. I think of my friend David Wood. When his mother died, he was able to go out to a diner and hang out with his friends like normal. Why? Not because he’s heartless, but because he is actually a sociopath and feels no sadness when someone dies.

Sometimes, we may think that is a good position to be in, but would we really want that always? If your loved one died, would you not want to be able to feel the sorrow and mourn it. Sometimes, we want to treat the sorrow as if it is the problem when sorrow can be healthy at times. If you are a normal person and you feel nothing when a loved one dies, that is a cause of concern.

Suppose you are an alcoholic. One of the most loving things someone can do is to not affirm you in your alcoholism. You might need someone to get in your face and tell you you have a problem and are destroying your life unless you get some help. If that’s what it takes to wake you up, that’s what it takes.

This is also true in evangelism. I know some people who didn’t become Christians until someone had the guts to get in their face and tell them they were a sinner. If you want to find gentle Jesus, meek and mild, do not go to the New Testament. He’s not there. This is the Jesus who referred to His own chief apostle as Satan at one point and who called the Pharisees sons of Hell. He was gentle on those who recognized their lack, but on others, He was highly confrontational.

Let’s also talk about the girls having operations done. Too often we are discussing how girls feel about their bodies. Boys can think this way too, but it is largely girls. Very ltitle time is discussed asking what they do with their bodies. Are they using their bodies in a way that is proper to the nature of the body?

For those of us who are Christians, we would contend that the modern sexual ethic is a war against reality. It is our prediction that the further we go down this road, the more chaos will break apart in society. One can only bump against reality for so long before reality will bump back and reality won’t care if it hurts us or not.

Instead of starting with how we feel per se, we should start with how we are. What are we being? What are we doing? A negative feeling could be a bad way of thinking we need to drop, or it could be an indication that we are doing something that is wrong.

If we hold to objective morality in any sense and to objective goodness, there is a right and a wrong to be done. There is a real good to be sought and real evil to be avoided. (Note that I singularized the good and generalized the evil. There’s a reason for that.) If none of those are true, then let’s eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. If they are true, then we could feel great about ourselves and be on the path to destruction.

Think about Brave New World. In this society, everyone was feeling good about themselves and it was a pleasure-oriented society, but it was a nightmare as well. The people didn’t know it and were slaves to their passions and their science both. This is not to say passions and science are bad things, but they are not meant to control us either.

There is no easy solution to this as our society is very far gone in this measure. For those of us who are Christians, it is a return to character and virtue that will most help us out here, working on ourselves and on our children especially. It will also be an open pursuit of virtue as well. We will need to seek to be holy, especially since our own book tells us in Hebrews 12 that without holiness no one will see the Lord. If we want to see Him, we have to be holy.

Again, this is open-ended and with all my posts, I hope this leads to discussion all the more. I look forward to your thoughts.

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

Why I Don’t Use Porn

How can we best honor the women of the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I say this, I do realize that porn is not just a man’s problem. It is something that more and more women are engaging in as well. Nothing is meant to discount their struggle, but I can only write from my own position as a man.

Many times, it’s often assumed that if you’re a man, you’re watching porn. It could be an understandable assumption, but it’s also a false one. Being a man does not necessitate that you engage in pornography. Perhaps it could mean sexual sin is more of a struggle for you, but it is something that can be overcome.

Before my marriage, my Dad had been working somewhere where his fellow co-workers were sadly quite raunchy. He spoke about my upcoming wedding and somehow in the midst of the conversation it came out that he was proud of his son and his daughter who were saving sex for marriage. He was immediately told his kids were lying to him. They were doing that on the side and just not telling him about it.

No hesitation there. His kids weren’t lying.

We weren’t.

My eyes are reserved for Allie alone and she is the only woman I share that sexual intimacy with. Now as a guy, I will definitely say that that intimacy is awesome and getting to see Allie’s body is getting to see the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. It’s amazing what a guy can be motivated to do just by a little flirtation from his wife.

So if that’s something I enjoy so much, wouldn’t it make sense to see porn? No. Not at all. Here are some reasons why.

I don’t use porn because Allie is more than enough woman for me. I don’t need any other woman to satisfy my desires. I don’t want any other woman to do so. Viewing porn would be wrong because it would be telling Allie that she is insufficient as a woman.

I don’t use porn because a woman is not just a body. She is a person as well and when I view her as just a body, I do not love her as a whole. It is not loving to the women of the world to treat them as just bodies and I certainly don’t do that with my own wife.

I don’t use porn because it’s really fake. Why would I change a woman who is really interested in me for the chance to see a woman who doesn’t know me and doesn’t care about me? My wife’s chasing after me is more than enough for me.

I don’t use porn because it cheapens sex. Sex is indeed the union of two bodies in a holy embrace, but those are the bodies of persons and the persons are affirming a powerful commitment of love with that act. I choose to not use my body to lie so with my body, I honor my Allie.

I don’t use porn because the fake can’t match the reality. There’s nothing like really touching one’s own wife and experiencing her touch. Nothing in media can compare with the real deal. The passion that can exist in the bedroom is a sacred passion.

I don’t use porn because I want my eyes filled with only Allie. Why would I want to delight in another man’s wife or in a woman I can never have? Is the one that God has given me just not enough for me? Of course, she is.

I don’t use porn because I don’t want to ever give Allie any hint that she’s insufficient for me. She is not in competition with other women. When I proposed to her, I told her she won the grand prize in my eyes and I wanted to be with only her forever and when I married her, I made that a public statement.

I don’t use porn because sex is something beautiful. When I treat it as something common and outside of the sacred bounds of marriage, I cheapen it. Sex is so holy that there’s a whole book of Scripture about it. I have no wish to diminish it.

I don’t use porn because it teaches me that women just exist for my sexual pleasure. I am to seek to give to my wife. While it is true she is to give to me and a priority of hers should be my desires, it is a two-way street.

I don’t use porn because it would dishonor my God. God made sex to be treasured and all these human beings are made in His image and to be treasured, whether they are married or not and whether they plan to marry or not. No person is to be treated as an object.

I don’t use porn because I want to be my intimacy in this life to come because Allie is affirming me as her man. I don’t want to go to other women I don’t know for just something that makes me feel like a man. I would rather go to my wife and be the man that she loves.

I don’t use porn because sex isn’t just a hobby. It’s not like a sport that two people can play together and it doesn’t really matter who the participants are. It’s an exclusive act I share with only one person who I love in an exclusive way and while what we do together is certainly a lot of fun, it’s also a building of that great love that we have together.

I don’t use porn because as far as I’m concerned, no one on Earth can compare with my wife’s beauty. Allie is the only beauty that drives me wild and pushes me to want to be a better man. She is the woman whose pictures I look at with longing romantic love and desire in my office (I have pictures of other family members in here), she is the picture on the desktop on my computer, and she is the picture that I see when I turn on my phone. My wife makes my world a much better place.

Ultimately, I don’t use porn because I love Allie and I love God. I seek to do nothing to dishonor either of them. The love of both in my life is a gift of grace and I choose to live holy in gratitude of that great gift.

And yes, I do love both. If you read this Princess, that means you specifically. Your husband loves you very much and you need no fear of competition.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How To Be Blessed By God

Is there a way to receive the blessing of God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re a theist, you do want to be blessed by God. How do you get that blessing? If you turn on the televangelists, you will often hear that you need to send in your faith donation. If you do, you will be blessed. (That blessing usually consisted of an end of poverty and being able to be rich and never sick.) If that is what you have in mind, you have the wrong idea.

This post came to me after hearing our pastor’s sermon the Sunday before last. We have been going through the book of James and it’s a really great series. James is straight-forward and I like that as someone who is an Aspie and likes people to just tell it to me like it is.

In the sermon, our pastor read from the book and I’ve read it several times. Despite that, we all know of times where it’s like we hear something for the first time. Look at what is found in James 1:22-25.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

“They will be blessed.”

I thought immediately what a contrast this is to the Word of Faith teachers. They say you will be blessed if you just “have faith” and give your money to them. (Interestingly, they never think about giving away their money to other ministries and getting a hundredfold return. Funny how that works.) James has a much simpler way to be blessed really, and yet at the same time a much more difficult way that we will not consider following as much.

We would like it if we could just send in some money and do a one-time deal. Not so for James. For James, it is about living a life of holiness. Interestingly, we see holiness as something that binds us. James sees it as the opposite. James sees it as what sets us free. In fact, James makes a stronger case for what this entails next.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

We can all support giving, but let’s look at the first and the last ones and see how we do.

#1. Keep a tight rein on your tongue.

#2. Avoid being polluted by the world.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not doing so hot many times. It’s easy to say we should keep a tight rein on the tongue, until I get into an argument with the Mrs. and let loose a zinger that makes me think “What the heck was I thinking?” It’s easy to say we’re not polluted by the world, until I find out how much I get obsessed with things of this world.

The idea James wants us to get is holiness is the way to blessing. That blessing may not be in material goods. Some people are blessed in that way. Being rich is not really evil, though James is not a fan of the rich, but what you do with riches can be. The greatest blessing is likely having the wisdom James spoke of in living life right. We could say holiness is its own reward.

Contrast this then to the name it-claim it people today. You don’t name holiness and claim it and thus have the blessing. You pursue it. Think seriously about what it is you pursue. For men, it immediately comes to mind to say sex with our wives. For women, it could be comfort or security or some material aspects like food or clothing or jewelry. Just look and try to be honest and ask “What do I pursue the most?”

Then stop and ask “And what if I pursued holiness instead?”

You know what? You will receive instead the blessing of God. What does it mean about you then if you look at that and say “Yeah, but I’d rather have all the other stuff.” There’s nothing wrong necessarily with the other stuff, but it’s not to take the place of God.

And maybe, just maybe, our churches would be different if that is what we were pursuing. It was a shame to me that after Orlando, many of us had to state that we don’t condone the violence, as if people thought mass murder was a common position in Christianity. It should be that we live such holy lives that people would automatically think “Well they sure weren’t a Christian” when they hear about a mass murderer.

So today, I have been like the televangelists in one way. I have spoken about something and said it is a sure route to the blessing of God. The differences is on what that route is and what the blessing is. The other difference is on your end, are you going to do it?

I leave that to you and to me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What is Praise?

What does it mean to praise? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I read a passage of Scripture together every night and lately we’ve been going through the Psalms. Last night, we read a Psalm where praise was highly emphasized and I try to think about what we read at night as I go to sleep and I wondered what praise was. It’s one of those questions that we would think is so easy to answer, but maybe it isn’t.

Praise is a matter of giving honor where honor is due. It is saying that God deserves all that we give Him. In the ancient society, everyone was clamoring for honor, and in fact, this was not condemned, but what was needed was to point out that God deserves honor. God is the one who has the most honor by virtue of His being, but we can give Him even more honor by giving Him more to show His reputation and worth in our eyes.

Could it be that sometimes one of our problems with worship services with music is that it has all become about entertainment and application. We leave a worship service wanting to feel better about ourselves often by hearing how the music has benefited us. We want to hear a sermon about how we can be good people in the world. How often are we allowed to enter into the grandeur of God by worship?

For us to have a worship service and we look at only the benefit we get is to picture a wife making love to her husband and at the end only saying “Well that felt good” and not giving her husband and thanks or praise for his great love for her. True worship could leave us feeling good, but it could be it could leave us feeling miserable. It could leave us feeling convicted. A true sermon will have application for our lives, but it will be more than just self-help. It will draw us into the grandeur and glory of God and knowing who He is.

Praise will also result in dying to ourselves. It will mean that we realize we are not the center of the universe and that God is greater than we are. This is something that believe it or not, we have to realize. Many times it can be hard for us to think about God, and this includes myself. It’s mind-blowing to think that everything in this world is usually more interesting to us than God.

When we come to realize who God is and what He has done for us and live lives of gratitude and honor to God, we will find ourselves more focused on His Name than on ours. We will be looking at what we can do for the glory of God instead of what God can do for the glory of us. True praise will result not necessarily in good emotions, though it can do that, and good behavior, though it can do that, but go beyond that and result in holiness and Christlikeness on our lives. If we are not growing in those areas, perhaps we should ask if we are truly praising God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

End Times Laziness

Does speaking about the end times spark laziness in Christians? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I put my post from yesterday in the comments section on a few posts on Facebook yesterday on the page of John Hagee Ministries. Interestingly, last I checked I have not been blocked. Of course, there has been no public statement of appearance and the fact that absolutely nothing happened doesn’t seem to be a concern to fans of Hagee. This is one time where I do think cognitive dissonance does indeed play a factor. The more I have thought about this, the more I have been concerned about why we have this obsession with end times. Too often in fact, it has sparked laziness.

This is something I have written on before on a post about the escapist mentality. This mentality was shown best by a lady I saw in a small group once who said “I’m saved and my children are saved so we just sit back and wait for Jesus to come.” I was just stunned that a Christian would say something like that. I was immediately thinking that first off, keep that up and your children could fall away from the faith before too long, especially when they get to college. Second, good that you’re all “saved” but what about your neighbors and their children. Do they not matter?

It’s such a strange belief that we have today. We have people who are Christians who say that the commands of Jesus are of utmost importance. When it comes to what marriage is, we sure say we want to defend that. (Although, we seem to only want to defend it when it comes to our right to eat chicken sandwiches or it infringes with a favorite television show.) When it comes to defending marriage by, you know, actually studying the purpose of marriage and why it is the way it is, or an even more bizarre way, and yes please forgive how bizarre this idea is, actually living out the way marriage was meant to be by God, we’re not as interested. While I agree with the research of Shaunti Feldhahn that divorce is not as prevalent among Christians as believed, it is still all too prevalent.

The commands of Jesus are of selective importance. They are important when they involve what we want, but if they involve any work or sacrifice on our part, well we must just be misunderstanding them. Yet Jesus calls us to die and there is no reason to think He is not serious in what He says.

So here then we have a group of people who say the commands of Jesus matter the most to them and who also especially want to have a focus on reminding everyone that Jesus is God in good Christian fashion. So now they are told repeatedly that they are the last generation and they believe it. They are convinced Jesus is coming back at any moment and what are they doing?

They’re reading books about how He’s coming back at any moment and watching TV shows about how He’s coming back at any moment and attending seminars about how He’s coming back at any moment.

Question. How many of these people are out supporting missionaries overseas? After all, if Jesus is coming back any moment, don’t we want to have as many people ready to go with Him? (While I do not hold to a pre-trib paradigm, I am speaking this group of people and they do hold to it and I’m asking for consistency. Of course, this does not mean that all pre-tribbers are like this. Many are just as incensed at Hagee as I am and many of them are just as concerned about the matters I’m writing about as I am.) How many of us are watching our behavior and how we’re living because who wants to have the King come back and be caught unawares? How many of us are honoring our spouses or raising our children properly and showing them extra love? After all, if you think Jesus is coming back, don’t you want to enjoy the time with your family now as well instead of spending it doing something that won’t benefit the Kingdom? (This is not to say of course there is no time for play, but there is more to life than play.)

This also raises the concern of if we suddenly decide to shape up, are we doing so not because it’s required but because we want to look good when Jesus returns? That should be our focus every day. We shouldn’t have to wait until the signs start coming. Frankly, the signs really shouldn’t change how we live. My friend Dr. Randy Richards has a post about doing the right thing wrong that I think is excellent. Richards argues that we should be looking for Christ’s return, which is right, but if we do so because of blood moons, we do so for the wrong reason. I think the same applies here.

Let’s consider an analogy in marriage. It is good for a husband to love his wife. No doubt. But now let’s suppose that we realize the sweet loving husband does something only because he wants his wife to give him a good time in the bedroom. There is nothing wrong of course with wanting that and a husband should want it, but if all you want from your wife is the reward at the end of the day (Or any other time of day for that matter), then you’re essentially using her. Now let’s reverse that. Let’s suppose a wife wants to please her husband and knows that sex is a great way to make him happy. However, she does this saying “I hope he’ll take me out to eat at that fancy restaurant soon.” She’s also using her husband. Now of course, it’s fine if a husband or wife want to show appreciation. Still, we should also always be watching our motives. For those who might be overly sensitive in this area like I am, I always tell people that when you think you might be tempted with wrong motives, you are still to do the right thing and ask God to work on your heart.

We end up then with end times madness doing the right thing wrong in one area, but in another, we don’t even do the right thing. Where is the great transformation of our world from people who are sure the King is coming? Could it be we don’t see it because we think the King is in fact coming? After all, the King will clear up this mess when He gets here. We don’t need to worry about that. Sorry, but I just don’t see that in the Bible. If you worked for a company and you were told the president of the company was coming to pay a visit, you would be working as hard as you could to get ready. When you’re dating and know your date is coming by, you work to make yourself the best you can be. Now we live in a culture where we think Jesus, our God, is supposed to be back any minute, and what are we doing?

It is a shame that all the time spent chasing after blood moons and any other end times event could have been spent far better. Our end times obsession has often ended up being something to stroke our own egos and make us think we are special, instead of doing something for the world around us so they will know how special we think they are, and how awesome we think Jesus is. What Jesus has said He will do, He will do and you trust Him on it. The question is are we going to do what He told us to do?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Christianity As Therapy

Have we lost the focus in our Christianity today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christianity. What’s it about? Well let’s look at the name. In it, we see the name “Christ”, so that could perhaps tell us that Christianity is about Christ, but there are too many times you can go to a church service or listen to Christian music and very little of it is about Jesus. Most of our sermons have turned immediately to application and much of our music is not really to enter us into the throne room of God, but rather to get us feeling good about ourselves. In fact, we could even say that some songs that are being sung on Christian stations today are explicitly being sung to the audience instead of to God.

Now of course, this is not to say that application in sermons is unimportant. Every good sermon should have application, but that application should come after telling us what the text means, what it tells us about God and what it tells us about Jesus, and what it meant to the people back then, and then we see how it applies to ourselves. It’s fine to have songs to remind us of who we are in Christ, but we should always have it that the song is mainly about Jesus and our reply can only be awe, but too often, our Christianity has turned into therapy. Instead of equipping us for war, we are being told to feel good about ourselves, as if that is the goal of the Christian life and if we don’t feel good about ourselves, then there’s something wrong.

Good Christian. If you are walking in the path well, there will be many times you feel miserable about yourself and that’s a good thing. You will feel miserable because you know you serve a holy God and you fall short. In fact, it is only by the feeling miserable part that you can come to appreciate the good part. We can often have two extremes. We can seek to have an emotional high with no connection to reality other than that we are supposed to feel this way as good Christians supposedly, or we can have a part where we tear ourselves to shreds regularly and feel miserable while forgetting that the word “Gospel” refers to good news. Christianity should be news that gives us hope. We thus either live in la la land unaware of the pains of the world and acting as if they should be foreign, or we live in the pains and just say “Well someday I will be in Heaven but I must trudge through Hell for now.” Neither of these are Biblical.

Of course, in all of this, I want to be clear that I am not disparaging therapy. Therapy is essential for many Christians, and there are reasons to have therapy. It could be because of a valid mental or psychological condition. It could be because of a trauma one has gone through. It could be because of an addiction one is struggling with. It could be for advice on dealing with someone else, such as a loved one, having such a problem. All of these are valid and thank God we have therapists who can help, but the goal of therapy should not be to help us to feel good about ourselves, though that does not mean it is bad if that happens, but the goal of therapy should be that we are to be holy.

And isn’t that what we’ve lost so much of? We’ve lost holiness. We have forgotten that Christ in our lives and the work of the Holy Spirit is to make us more like Jesus. It’s not just to make us mentally or psychologically fit. We are to be holy and that holiness means that we are to die to ourselves every day. I suspect much of the problem in our psychology is really that we don’t think about sin as much any more. We ask God to take away wrong desires, but we don’t ask God to make us holy. We don’t strive for holiness. We want God to allow us to stay in our comfort zone. If you want to be holy, you are going to have to be uncomfortable because holiness is not the natural state of fallen man and God will have to do some serious renovations on you to get you to be holy.

When we take this approach, we also lose the grandeur of God. We get so caught up in ourselves and our feelings and our world and what we’re going through that everything else seems distant. I’d like to say that I’m immune to this, but I know I am not. With my personality, empathy is very hard for me. My wife is the one who constantly has to remind me when we pray about the other people on our list and I have no doubt that her heart beats more for them than my does. My struggles seem larger than life, but everyone else’s just so often don’t really matter. So yes, what I say to you I also say to myself. I often wonder why it is that I don’t think about God as much as I do? Again, my wife puts me to shame in this area as if she thinks God seems absent to her, it absolutely kills her and she hates the loneliness. At the same time, we must always remember we are to seek God not to feel good about ourselves, but because we know that He is good in Himself and we owe everything to Him.

The worldview that we follow is Christianity. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about Him. Are we applying the proper focus today?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Good Theology Is Essential

Is theology only for nerdy intellectuals? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Theology is often seen as a difficult topic, and indeed it is. Not many people are really interested in trudging deep into the world of theology. After all, God is such a hard topic to understand and you can never really wrap your head entirely around Him and will it really help my Christian life to be able to know that God is simple or to be able to have a working definition of omnipotence? Don’t I just need to know Jesus? These can be common concerns, especially for the layman, but could it be that these concerns are really keeping people from a treasure trove of knowledge that could greatly benefit them?

Some of you might think theology is too difficult to do, but the reality is you are already doing theology. Theology is any study of God and if you have any idea of God whatsoever, then that is your theology. Even atheists have a theology. They have an idea of the deity that they don’t believe in. (And if your idea of God can be compared to a flying spaghetti monster, you are missing the point big time.) The question then is not if you are going to do theology. You are. The question is if you are going to do it well or not.

Of course, depending on your intellectual abilities, you might have some limitations to how well you can do theology, and that is understandable. God did not call you to become a Ph.D. in theology necessarily, but He does ask that you know Him. If you’re content with saying that you would prefer to just sit in a church service and feel good about the worship services, then you’re in a sense using God. It’s like a man saying that he doesn’t really want to know his wife better than he does, but he sure wants to have access to the sex. Well he could get the sex from a number of women. In the same way, you can get good feelings from a number of different sources besides worship. (Including sex itself of course) Would it not be better to have the emotions that come from worship be informed by what makes those truths you’re hearing so glorious?

It also depends on where you’re going to go to get your information about God. Many of you reading this will say “The Bible” and I certainly agree that the Bible is a great place to go to get information about God, but it is not the only place. I think if you want to use the Bible, you should also have at least a basic apologetic as to why you think Christianity is true and why you think the Bible is at least reliable. If you claim that that book is different from every other book, you need to have a reason why you think that book is different from any other book and it needs to be one that Muslims and Mormons could not give about their book or books.

A dangerous way to get your theology is going primarily on your feelings and experiences, and yet this is where we go the most today. How many times do you hear in a church service to do as you feel led, which automatically assumes that God is going to tell you what He wants you to do by your feelings. There are plenty of ministers who have affairs and scandalize the church and I can assure you one reason that they do so is that they have some really good feelings in them telling them to go forward. In no other area of life that I can think of would we tell people to live by their feelings, but here in what is supposed to be the most important area of life, we tell people to do just that.

Does that mean your feelings and experiences are useless? Not necessarily. I would try to point to feelings that have a more Biblical basis, such as joy. If you are feeling hate towards your neighbor in your heart, you need to ask why. You could also consider keeping a prayer journal. For my part, I have a Kindle Fire and use the Mobile Knee App. When you see prayer requests being answered, make a note of it. That way you can look back on past experiences you’ve had and see that God has brought you through hard times. You can also hear testimonies of other people who have walked through the valley of suffering and came out the other end just fine.

If you want to be a really heady individual, you can go to reason and see what you can get by metaphysical thinking alone. For that, you could go straight to Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, but you might be better off served by reading someone who summarizes the Summa such as Peter Kreeft. At any rate, I would definitely say you should be reading other people. Too many of us have so much pride that we think we alone are the ones who have studied the Bible and there’s no need to learn from those around us and those who have gone before us. If you really want to learn about God, you need to learn from people who have walked the road before you and are walking it around you.

Of course, I pointed to the Bible earlier but even here, there are difficulties. Are you going by what the passage means to you or really trying to figure out what it means? If you think you don’t need any help with studying the Bible, there’s no reason to even really go to church on Sunday. After all, who cares what a preacher is saying from the pulpit? He has no more skill than you do! Your preacher every Sunday is basically trying to give you a commentary on the text that is being talked about and largely focusing on the application of that text to your own life today.

Again, you have help here. There are plenty of resources available. We have a plethora of commentaries today that you can look at and you can find many great books at your local library. If you aren’t interested in an apologetics debate, try to get material from good evangelical publishers like Zondervan or IVP. If you were a woman and you received a love letter from a man you were interested in, most likely you would go over that letter with a fine-tooth comb and try to find the meaning in any little nuance that you could. Should you not treat what you call the Word of God so much more seriously?

Bart Ehrman, not a friend of Christianity, has talked about asking students who come into his class these questions.

“How many of you think the Bible is the Word of God?”

Several hands go up.

“How many of you have read the Harry Potter series?”

Several hands go up.

“How many of you have read the whole Bible?”

Few hands go up.

Ehrman’s point that he concludes from this is indeed valid. He can understand wanting to read the Harry Potter series and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that of course, but if you think a book that you have is a message from God Himself, shouldn’t you really want to read that book and understand it? If we don’t want to do that, perhaps we might want to take a look at ourselves and ask if we are taking God as seriously as we could.

The best place to go however is to look to Jesus. Jesus is said to be the one who shows us the Father. I like to describe Jesus as “God with skin on.” If you want to know what God is like, just look to Jesus. We should seek to know Jesus, but we know Jesus so we can know God. Jesus came to give not a revelation of Himself but rather to give one of the Father. It is because of Jesus that we can know God. This is something that needs to be kept in mind by those of us in apologetics who get a lot of our theology from good metaphysics but can rarely stop to ask how it is that Jesus informs our theology other than telling us about the Trinity.

I contend that if you do this, you will have a better rock when it comes to hard times. You will have something you can stand on. Your knowledge of God is only as reliable as the foundation that you build it on. If you build it on your feelings and experiences, then when those change, so will your knowledge of God. If you build it on a more reliable source, such as good metaphysics, Scripture, or Jesus, you will have much more you can go on. Also, this will inform your worship more. It will not detract from the joy you experience in worship to know more about the God you are worshiping. How could it? That would be like saying you don’t want to get married because why on Earth would you want to get to know someone and spend the rest of your life with them when you could just be having sex with them?

If you also take this route, one other idea you might be wanting to consider is getting a mentor. I suggest men get men for mentors and women get women. I myself in fact have a mentor. I have several men who are mentors to me, but one in particular who I email every night to help me on the path of spiritual development. Find someone you think would be capable of being your mentor and ask them if they are willing to guide you on that road. If they say yes, you can have a trusted friend who will share the journey with you.

Knowledge of God is not an add-on to the Christian life. It is an essential. If you don’t want to learn about the God you claim to be the greatest good in your life, maybe you should ask if He is really the greatest good in your life.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Justice

Will justice ever come? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Justice is something interesting. Many of us are great advocates of justice. We talk about social justice and the justice of equal rights and if a war is just or if a punishment fits the crime which is also a question of justice. For the Christian, we also want justice. Let’s face it. People often do wrong to us in this life and we want some justice. The Psalmist can relate to us, or rather we can relate to him, in saying that we can go and ask how long. How long will this go on?

I thought about this last night. Justice is odd in that it’s something that we greatly desire, except we desire it for everyone else. Of course, in some ways, that’s so with the other virtues. We want others to be patient with us, but we’re not so quick to ask to be patient with others. We want others to forgive us, but we don’t look to see if we’re forgiving others. We want others to love us, but we don’t often strive to love others. We want others to listen to and understand us, but we don’t often seek to listen to and understand others.

Imagine how it would be if you prayed to God for justice and you heard the voice from Heaven speaking to you and saying “Yes. Justice. Very well. I shall dispense it now. I will start with you.” Most of us would not be too crazy about that prayer. Justice is great as long as it starts with everyone else, and yet 1 Peter 4 emphasizes starting with the household of God. When we think about justice, we often do so without realizing the gravity of our own sins. Now of course we should think about justice and we should desire justice and we should seek to bring about justice in this world, but we should do so in humility knowing that we deserve justice too and in fact, we will get justice.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But let’s also have a basic argument for justice.

The greatest good of all in this world on Christian theism is God Himself. God seeks His glory the most as that is the greatest good. Any sin is an affront to the glory of God. It matters not how big or how small. Of course, there are degrees of crime, but all will be dealt with. If God ignores any of them, then He is ignoring an affront to His glory, and He would only do so because He considers something greater than His own glory, but there can be nothing greater than God. Therefore, God will make sure justice comes some day.

Now does that include even for forgiven sinners? Yes. Oh we’ll spend eternity with God, but we can determine the kind of eternity we’ll have by how we live in this life. We will all give an account for how we handled this life. (This is something I stress to husbands especially since you are to give an account for how your families turned out and what kind of husband and father you were. Serious charge!) If we do not take that seriously, it is because we are not taking God seriously. If we are not taking our own sin seriously, we are not taking God seriously. This is something that we see happen. We usually ask God to remove the source of temptation from outside of us, such as food, drugs, alcohol, a person of the opposite sex, etc. We do not ask Him to deal with the problem in us that causes us to be tempted to that degree in the first place. The problem is with us for the most part.

Justice delayed is also not justice denied. Anyone who works a cold case can tell you this. These cases don’t often come to trial for decades. Still, justice is given. Sometimes, crimes will escape an earthly tribunal. While this is a tragedy, no one gets away free. There is a heavenly tribunal and there is no partiality and favoritism there. There is no fooling the judge who knows all.

And I hope that just put the fear of God in you to an extent.

Pray for justice and long for it, but remember you will be judged just as much. Pray that you will stand and seek to live a holy life so you can all the while relying on the grace of God in Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters