Sacred and Secular Work

Do you have to work in the ministry to serve God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I was talking to a friend who was concerned he had wasted his life. He’s a little younger than I am, but I think we can all understand the question. There’s also too much in the world of Christianity that lays heavy guilt on people. Think about how John Piper has said “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Obviously good advice, but can it be taken to an extreme?

I think about Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love where he talked about taking a relative of his to a play and afterward she said, “It was good, but I kept wondering what would happen if Jesus returned and here I was watching a play.” I am not doubting this lady’s Christianity, but I don’t want to serve a Jesus like that, a Jesus who is more of a taskmaster holding a whip over you such that you feel guilty if you take time to actually enjoy the world that has been made.

Sometimes this can show up in our vocational choices. People can think that if they are not in ministry, they are not doing work for God. I say this as one who is training in ministry, but I have held plenty of jobs that were not ministerial and in each of them, I tried to serve God with all that I had.

Now if you want to go into ministry and think you’re capable, go for it. I am not about to suggest that you need a “Call to preach.” God knows I have heard many preachers who were “called” and who I wish God had given them some ability to preach and teach the faith. There is a lot of passion, but a lack of ability and too often, many like this think they don’t need any education. They just need the Bible and God will tell them what to say.

However, you don’t have to do that. For instance, today I posted on my seminary Facebook group for life on campus, that I would like to get a haircut soon and what is the best place to go that is close by and inexpensive or even better, is there a student on campus that cuts hair? While I am in ministry, I do need a haircut at times and well, God has given some people the ability to cut hair. God needs barbers.

I would like to find someone to help me on my YouTube channel. God has equipped some people with technological gifting. The first person said to have the Holy Spirit in Scripture was an artist. This was in Exodus and not even Moses was the first person said to be full of the Holy Spirit! Art is a work for God.

Like you all, I have to get groceries and have a car and a working phone and any number of things and people who are doing those things are serving God just as much. It’s because people are doing “secular” work, that I can do “sacred” work. Paul was a tentmaker as well as a preacher and every rabbi was trained in a trade of that sort.

Yet one statement I made to my friend was one that I think does have a sacred calling to it. I told him he is a husband and a father both. Those are two positions I would love to have and I don’t. If he is wasting his life, then he is essentially telling me that what he has done in caring for his wife and raising his children is a waste. One of the biggest ministries you will ever have is within your own home. Even if you are in “ministry”, this is still true. Paul even tells us that if a man can’t lead his own household, he has no business leading in God’s. If you are in ministry and you are not being a husband to your wife and a father to your children, get out. Seriously. Either change your ways or give your position to someone more worthy.

If you are in “secular” work, you are still serving God. 1 Cor. 10:31 tells us that whatever we do, do it all to the glory of God. That was even not about doing ministry, but about partaking of food at a gathering where pagans were at. Eating and drinking was to the glory of God. Whatever work you do, offer it up as a gift to God. If you are also part of a family, definitely serve God well in that role. It’s one of the most important.

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

 

Remembering the Sacred

Is nothing sacred? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about recognizing marriage as a sacred calling. As I wrote out those words, I thought about that. What is the sacred in our society? Do we have a place for it anymore?

In his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Trueman writes about first, second, and third world cultures. First-world cultures put the ideas on how we should live on notions of fate or the gods. They’re not built on anything ultimate in a sense, but they are great and outside of us and we ought to follow them. The gods say it so whatever their reasons, you must obey.

Second-world cultures are those that do base the ideas in one transcendent God who can to some extent be known. Christianity presents such a culture. It’s not just “The God says so” which would be sufficient in itself, but also here is why the God says so and here are the reasons and God can enforce His rules.

Third-world cultures are like what America is in now. Everything is rooted in the secular. There is nothing outside of ourselves that morality is grounded in. It is all built on secularism.

What that also means is nothing outside enforces us. We have to enforce it. That also means there is no longer anything transcendent and lasting. Ultimately, it is moral relativism, but there is a who says going on in this culture. Who says? Whoever is in charge says. That’s who.

Consider our recent Supreme Court scenarios. Under this kind of ideology, the voice of the people is in some ways the voice of God. If the Court says abortion is allowable, then that is that. The case has spoken. The court is closed. Likewise if it says it’s going to stay out of it. Whatever side you take, I hope the problem is apparent. It’s the saying that a government that is big enough to give you rights is also big enough to take them away.

That’s why in America, our founding document is a second-world document. It roots our rights in a creator. The government doesn’t give us these rights. It recognizes these rights. It also cannot take away these rights.

However, if we remove that, then the only way to enforce the powers of the third-world and whoever is in charge is, well, power. Force will have to be used. The more secular a culture is, the more likely it will use this kind of force to control its citizens.

In looking at marriage also, we have lost the sacred. Marriage used to be a sacred calling where the two made a commitment. Now we have cheapened most everything about marriage. In the past, it would have been that if a man wanted to see a woman in all of her glory, he really needed to work a lot and prove he was a man and show the girl he was worth marrying and he would be treated on their wedding night, and hopefully, she would be as well.

Now? Nope. All you have to do is browse the internet for a few seconds and look at porn. If anything diminishes a human being, it is pornography, both the viewed and the viewer diminish one another in this. Internet pornography is one of the most destructive forces in our world today. It is a cheapening of the good gift of humanity and sexuality and turns women especially into objects to be consumed. If women truly wanted to fight the patriarchy, they would take a stand against internet pornography, abortion, and anything else that makes a man give them anything less than a lifetime commitment.

It’s honestly hard to think of anything our world holds as sacred. In a sense, we treat sexuality like the highest good, making it an aspect of your highest identity and if you haven’t had sex, there’s something wrong with you. How else is just a movie title like The Forty Year-old Virgin possible? At the same time, we treat it as simply a recreational activity and say casual sex is no big deal. It’s hard to think of how you can have it both ways. In a Christian worldview, you understand that sex is an aspect of something much bigger. It is indeed part of your identity, in that you are male or female and nothing can ever change that, and as an activity, it is an intimate one that is reserved for the most intimate of relationships.

One aspect of saving our culture is going to have to be the recovery of the sacred. Right now, we live in a culture of power plays and whoever is in charge has the power to enforce what they want and it will shift back and forth constantly as long as we have nothing outside of ourselves to ground it in. Hear this. You cannot be a true moral reformer if you hold to third-world principles of morality. It takes a second-worlder who says “No. This is something greater than us regardless of what the culture says.” You cannot stand up against slavery, Nazism, or any other evil and be a part of a third-world culture truly for you are just going with what you want for whatever reason and as soon as the other side gets more power, they can change that immediately and what standard can be pointed to beyond men to say “This is wrong.”?

Right now, our culture is on a suicide path. Those of us who are Christians and see the danger should be raising the warning alarms and crying out that something must change. We must be the Ezekiel watchman or else God will hold us accountable for not speaking up. When men forget God, what happens is chaos and some men become god for their culture. Nietzsche recognized this and lamented it knowing it would lead to chaos. He was indeed right. Nietzsche recognized the seriousness of the idea of the death of God and would think most atheists today are gutless embarrassments.

The rest of us. Stand strong. Everyday, build up the sacred in your own life and demonstrate it to the world. Remember Lewis also said that outside of the sacrament (And he said this as a Protestant) the most holy sight you see will be your neighbor. It all starts with how you treat him.

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

 

The Sacredness Of The Human Body

What is it about the body that is sacred? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I found myself on Facebook in a discussion about pornography. Why was I against it? Talking to atheists in this one, I decided to not just quote Scripture left and right, but to accept real evidence that I thought would be more convincing.

I spoke about how pornography ultimately treats women as objects. (I know there is porn the other way, so just alter the figures as needed) They are there to fulfill a sexual need and that is it. There is no more beyond that. Such a position is degrading to the female and if you degrade one woman, you have degraded all of them.

Later last night, I read about a resort called Temptation that is pretty much a millennial sex orgy. While there is supposed to be no public sex there and no is supposed to mean no, I’m quite sure that at least the first rule is violated several times. The sad thing is, this article was written by a married woman who said while she wasn’t going to be sleeping with other guys, she was happily letting it all go there.

I found it ultimately saddening, as if the human body is simply a display object. For myself, I like knowing that there is something of the body that is reserved for me only by my wife and vice-versa. This isn’t talking about you just going to the gym and if you’re with other men or other women, being undressed around them. After all, unless they’re gay, that’s not an issue for them. This is about things reserved for you and your spouse alone.

I really do think this is something that women especially have to face. After all, even most women would say the female body is objectively far more beautiful than the male is, and that’s even if they’re fully straight women. Women were just made to be beautiful and many women are constantly comparing themselves with other women to see if they have that beauty.

By the way women, just a little tip. What you are so obsessed with, we are not obsessed with. If you are married to a good man, he has no objections to you doing things to beautify yourself more, but he also loves you just the way you are. If anything, he wants you to live like you believe that.

Which gets me back to my objection to pornography. I object to the female body being put on display as an object just to arouse men. Now let me be straight forward and say the human female body does arouse men. I was listening to a news story about Notre Dame burning and how it was the building as it was before the fire was the most beautiful sight someone had ever seen. My thought was, “I am sure it is a beautiful sight, but it sure can’t compare to Allie.”

I definitely mean that. Why? Well, Notre Dame, as beautiful as it was, and hopefully will be again, was still built by man. It can’t compare with a design that was originally made by God. As I sit here typing, I see a picture of my wife here next to me and I look over with amazement. I never truly knew what beauty was until I saw her.

If I am sitting on the couch minding my own business and she tells me she’s going to go take a shower, my ears perk up immediately. If there’s anything that can get me to stop what I’m doing, it’s the affection of my wife. It has been a huge motivator for me to get me to stop doing things I shouldn’t be doing and start doing things that I should be doing.

So yes, I am not at all about to deny that the human female body has that function on us men.

The difference is that we who are happily married men should know that that is not just a human female body. That is a person. There’s an adage for married men that says sex begins at breakfast. No. It doesn’t mean you hoist her on to the breakfast table and get your game on. (Not that many of us would object if she was willing) It means that you start being romantic in the morning and that will increase the odds of her being romantic in the evening.

Pornography removes all of that. There is no romance truly in porn. The story of a movie might have some romance, but the man watching to get his stimulation needs to make no requirement. He does not have to romance a woman. He does not have to treat her with dignity. He’s just seeing a body. That’s all that matters.

Not only that, there are likely some in the porn industry who are there because of sex trafficking. Someone watching porn could unknowingly be supporting sex trafficking then. This is especially relevant for those in the atheistic crowd who want to decry slavery in the Bible so much.

There’s also the case that if you watch movies and TV, most of us know that any sex that takes place there is nothing like it is in real life. Porn will go way beyond that to even more unrealistic ideas. That’s why many women today can struggle with their lovers wanting more and more extreme behavior. I’m also convinced this is why many young men struggle with conditions like erectile dysfunction. They have got so used to fake women that a real woman can’t turn them on anymore.

Guys. If you are struggling with this habit, I really encourage you to go and get help immediately. You are not preparing yourself for a future sex life if you’re still a virgin. You’re doing great damage to your future sex life. If you are not planning to marry, you’re still lowering women everywhere. If you are married, find pleasure in your own wife. You don’t need to look elsewhere for sexual fulfillment.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Lessons From A Cut

What big lessons can be learned from little annoyances? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A couple of days ago, my wife wasn’t feeling the best and asked me to help prepare her a can of soup. Okay. I can do that. Yet shortly after that was done, I realized I had a cut on one of my fingers that had turned into quite a bit of a bleeding problem. Since it was on my right hand, I asked Allie come and help me bandage it properly. No big deal.

Until the next day it comes loose and we have to do it again as the bleeding starts once more.

Then that evening the bandage is coming loose one more time and so I look and it looks like the cut is healed up as I tend to be a fast healer. No big deal. I just take it off and figure I don’t have to worry about it any more. I can just go on with my dinner.

Until I see that blood on my finger again piling up.

So I go to the bathroom again to wash my hands and put on another bandage. I interrupt my reading of G.K. Chesterton to go and while in there, I notice that a drop of blood has fallen on my shirt. No big deal. I can just go into the bedroom and change. I can do that.

Why yes. Yes I can do that.

Light bulb.

There are times that a simple event happens that opens you up to a great reality you’ve been missing. I don’t doubt that it is largely because I was reading Chesterton that this happened. Chesterton encourages me to look at the world differently.

My insight came that I can go straight into the bedroom and change because Allie does accept me physically entirely. As readers of this blog might know, I am by all physical requirements I could think of, a weakling. I weigh about 120 pounds an I’m extremely skinny. (Although Allie does say I’m building up some muscle thanks to the gym.)

And yet I have no fear of acceptance around my wife. She accepts me as I am. Something I find incredible.

It struck me then what a marvel that we all live with. Bodies are some of the most common sights we see everyday. If you turn on the TV or go to the store or do most anything, you will encounter other humans in some way or another which will often entail seeing other bodies. (Even on social media like Facebook, the most common image you’ll probably see for someone is an image of themselves somehow.)

Those bodies are common, and yet they are sacred. Many people in this area see my wife on a regular basis. However, I am the only one who truly “sees” her in the full sense. Aside from medical professionals under specific circumstances, others do not really get that privilege. There is also the possibility of perhaps women changing with one another at a party at one of their houses or showering at a club like the Y. The general principle is that the whole body is not shared with just anyone and certainly not just anyone of the opposite sex. (Allie would only see a female gynecologist and dermatologist. For a similar treatment by me, I would only go see a guy.)

Our bodies are extremely common, but they’re also sacred and we guard them especially. If any guy tried to see my Princess in a way not allowable I can think that I’d be like the husband in Proverbs who would refuse to take a bribe no matter how great it was. That’s sacred territory meant only for she and I together and no one else has a right to that.

And isn’t that just something fascinating? One of the objects that is most common to us is also the most sacred. It is the human being. It is the image of God in this world. It is the very aspect of reality that was assumed in the incarnation. It was the greatest wonder that the Son of God Himself took on a body and indeed, still has that body. One of the great hopes of the Christian church is the resurrection of the body. We are not gnostics. We firmly hold to material reality and hold that it is good. We are not meant to become angels. We are meant to be humans.

I was also stunned by the fact that yes, I can change in here because I do in fact trust Allie. Why shouldn’t I? She loves me. This I find to be a simply astounding claim. There is actually a female in this world who loves me, desires me, and wants to be with me. She wants all of those so much that she agreed to be with me until death do us part.

I find that utterly amazing and I even told her that last night. She was curious why and I said “Because I know who I am!” What is there about me that Allie should desire me at all? I can think of Boaz who told Ruth that she did not run after the younger men. (As might be known, I am nearly 10 years older than my wife)

This is a claim that is hard to believe and it could be because those of us who are nerds rarely expect something like this to happen. (Women. Please learn this. If you want to get a husband that is totally devoted to you, you cannot go wrong with a nerd. Nerds will spend the rest of their lives in devotion to you generally.)

This claim is hard to believe and why is it? It is not because there is a lack of evidence. Oh one could surely point from time to time to mistakes that we all make and say “See? There is no love here,” yet that is going with the exceptions rather than the rule. If you look on the whole of matters, the evidence is overwhelming on the proposition that my Mrs. deeply loves her husband. (And might I add, respects as well. We are going through “Love and Respect” now after all.)

If the claim is not hard to believe because of lack of evidence, then what could make it hard to believe? The only other aspect left is the nature of the claim seems so out of touch with ordinary every day experience. It has been my common experience to not get this kind of devotion from women. It has been my common experience to think there is nothing special about me in that sense to warrant that kind of devotion. Nevertheless, that devotion is there!

It is just like the case for miracles. I do not think it really is a lack of evidence. There is plenty of evidence for miracles. Just see Keener’s book. If we treated the NT gospels and epistles the same way we treat other ancient works of history, we’d fully accept that Jesus rose from the dead, but these are rejected, and most often not even looked at. I know few people who have really bothered to go through Keener’s book for instance. In fact, some have even said “Well Keener might have some things, but you don’t see someone rising from the dead three days later in an imperishable body.”

So because it doesn’t have the miracle you want to see, no account of a miracle is trustworthy….

The evidence is out there, but the claim is so contrary to what most people experience, and indeed we can all understand that part. Miracles are not part of our every day experience. If they were, we would not call them miracles. They are extraordinary and rare events where God especially breaks into the sphere of our world. I can understand skepticism of such a thing since they are so rare, but skepticism can be unwarranted when it makes demands that are far too high. If I demanded perfection from my own spouse as proof of her love for me, I can rest assured I would never know for sure about it.

And it is an interesting parallel to tie it in with miracles as I can certainly say that the fact that someone such as myself found a spouse who complements me so well and likes all of my little quirks and such that most people find annoying is indeed a miracle. Two people on the spectrum with Asperger’s coming together like this? It reminds me of when I watched Mozart and the Whale at Allie’s house before we got married and while we were engaged. When her folks asked me about it I said I thought it was unrealistic. They were puzzled and asked why. I simply told them it’s a story about two people with Asperger’s getting married. When does something like that ever happen?

This got a laugh from them as it should as that great rarity was about to be lived out right before their eyes. If any event in my life can lead to that great marvel of a public demonstration of God’s grace, it is that of finding Allie.

In fact, as I was telling her last night about all these great insights and how things were coming together so incredibly, she said “Since it started with a drop of blood, you could even tie that into the blood of Christ.”

And indeed, she is right.

Blood itself is common as well, and yet it is sacred. We do not worry if we see sweat on our bodies. We normally expect that. We do wonder what has happened if we see blood and we seek to take care of the problem immediately. We want to wash our hands thoroughly as we don’t want to eat anything with our own blood in it. When it comes to transfusions now, they’re all checked thoroughly because blood could just as easily lead to death.

And yet this common object is the basis of our salvation. When we take Communion, we think about the body and blood of Jesus. (Common objects once again used to express divine truths) Do we really stop to think about what we are doing? We are recognizing the offering of blood for us. Someone poured out their life so that we could live.

Skeptics of the NT will often describe such an event as hideous and disgusting. They’re right! The death of Jesus is a hideous and disgusting event! It is because in fact the sin that led to Jesus being on the cross is hideous and disgusting. What could be more hideous and disgusting than realizing that it is because of human sin that the most righteous one of all chose to face a death that He did not deserve? (In fact, despite what they say about Jesus, I cannot at this moment think of one skeptic who has told me that Jesus deserved to be crucified. Most every religion tries to fit Jesus into itself and even atheists today often look at many of Jesus’s teachings as moral in nature.)

The death of Jesus is ugly because sin is ugly.

Now I am sure I could extend this line of thought further and who knows? Maybe I will someday, but I can say that last night became utterly amazing as one simple little action based on what was an annoyance at first led to a great realization of simple little truths I had overlooked and yet were around me every day.

I hope in turn what I have written has opened you up to such truths as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters