So what is the story behind Deeper Waters? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
A couple of days ago I was listening to my friend Kurt Jaros’s podcast Veracity Hill. In this episode, he was talking about how he got to be doing what he’s doing. This is a question I often ask of my guests on my own show and it occurred to me that since people often refer to my work and tag me on Facebook for apologetics questions, maybe some of my readers would like me to do that for myself.
I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. To be more specific, it was in a little suburb of Knoxville called Corryton. From an early age, my parents could tell that I was different. I wasn’t really speaking normally like other kids would. I was engrossed in books instead. (Some things haven’t changed.) If there was any book that apparently held fascination for me, it was this big white King James Bible. (This Bible is currently in my office)
My parents thought I was just intrigued by the shapes of the letters and such. One day, they pointed out a word to me that I was curious about. That word was chapter. Again, they see me going over this book regularly and don’t know what to make of it, but I guess if it keeps me content and happy and out of trouble, why not?
One day, my Dad takes me to a department store and puts me in front of a computer. Since I was born in 1980, we’re not really talking about anything high-tech, at least for our time. There’s a blank screen in front of me to type and he’s expecting me to type some gibberish. Before too long, there’s a crowd in front of the computer looking at it. My Dad comes back to see what’s going on.
On the screen are all the books of the Bible in order, spelled correctly, and with how many chapters they had.
The crowd asks if I did this. My Dad doesn’t know for sure, but he knows how to find out. He clears the screen and tells me to do it again. I do it again.
Something is different.
My parents were hesitant to put me in kindergarten because I was still having a hard time with speech. Only my close relatives could translate what I said, and even then it was difficult. Still, I went, but when that year was done, I was put in Transition instead of going off to first grade, and that meant transferring to a different school.
My parents were worried about it, but as it is I fit in wonderfully at this school. I went all the way through Elementary school there. I do have great memories of that time. Second grade was wonderful and I did win my 5th grade school spelling bee. When I was in 4th grade I was in a class split between 4th and 5th grade and there was some competition we had in the class between two groups of 5th graders and us 4th graders. The teacher decided to settle it by having each group choose a representative to come up and answer a long division question on the board. I was chosen for the 4th graders.
The 4th graders also won the day.
A big change that came there was the video game culture. Nintendo was beginning their ascension and that’s all my friends were talking about. In second grade, my parents got me one for my birthday and I became the resident game master before too long. To this day, I’m still heavily in the gaming culture.
Also in 5th grade, my parents got some answers. I had been in an out of a disability center in elementary school. It was there that I was diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum. This was something that made sense to my parents. I didn’t understand it at the time, but later on in my life, it would become much more relevant.
So let’s skip ahead to high school. It was there that I remember having doubts about my relationship with God. It wasn’t Christianity that I doubted. It was myself. Part of it was that I was big into the role playing culture as well. My hobbies including Dungeons and Dragons and Magic; The Gathering. Today, I have no problem with such things really, but back then, I was naive and didn’t know how to answer charges brought against me. This led me into a fear of my salvation which resulted in panic attacks and depression.
Interestingly enough, I was often teaching youth group at the same time at my church.
I was also on the internet at this time and instead of talking about games, I found it odd that I was talking about Christianity with people, and I didn’t know why. I found a lot of people knew and thought differently than I did. I also found a lot of people were actually atheists.
On another note, I was a part of a group of guys at my school called TNT which stood for Thursday Night Talk. We had guys get together with no girls allowed. We had a leader who would talk to us about Jesus regularly and we would have three-hour meetings. Think about this. Guys meeting for three hours being respectful and listening and talking about Jesus. The guys you would think were the toughest would often break down in tears and be crying about mistakes they had made. We saw several people come to Christ. Good times.
I should also explain something about my study habits. I didn’t have them. I was the kid who did my work in class, doodled in a notebook when I was done, came home and played video games all day, and still easily passed all my classes. When I was in my senior year I got elected Most Studious Male Senior. I thought it was odd since, well, I didn’t study.
When I graduated, I had to go somewhere for college. Fortunately, due to my disability Voc Rehab was willing to pay for my college, but that came with an assessment first. The people there thought I was so academically inclined that I should go into some field like engineering. No offense to any readers and friends who are engineers, but that just didn’t interest me. I was interested in Christianity and wanted to go into ministry. They recommended I not take this path. Why?
I would not be able to handle public speaking.
I laugh when I think about it today.
So I went to Johnson Bible College, now Johnson University. While there, I remember speaking to a student once in the student center and asked him what he was studying. He said it was apologetics. I had never heard this term and asked about what it was. He told me and I filed that away.
Like I said earlier, I was doing internet evangelism and realized I needed to learn how to deal with these atheists. I had a friend recommend More Than A Carpenter and I went out and read that and just devoured it. Still, there was something more I was wanting. Then I remembered hearing about this story about a journalist who set out to disprove Christianity and later came to embrace it through his study. The guy was named Lee Strobel and the book was The Case for Christ.
I call that the book that lit my fire.
From that point on after reading that, I was constantly buying any book that I could and devouring it. Something strange happened then. My depression and such started to go away. I was able to be more open. If there’s any professor that saw this take place at the college, it was David Wheeler. He and I regularly talk to this day and he tells about how when I showed up, I didn’t interact with anyone and I was as shy as could be. After apologetics, I was showing up at his office sharing jokes and such. I was also becoming well-known on campus as the apologetics go-to guy.
In some classes, this became fun. One class was systematic theology. My professor and I did not see eye to eye because I thought a lot of stuff he was teaching was horrible. The biggest one was that he said God created man because He needed someone to love. I would raise my hand at this point. My circle of friends around me would watch to see how long I would be able to have my hand raised before I would be called on. Our longest time was 19 minutes.
In a different class, the topic came up of if Moses was based on Sargon. I had read something on this recently so I got up and started saying something. After class, a student came up to me and was very excited. He told me he had heard me quoting Ravi Zacharias and knew I had an apologetics interest. He told me about an apologetics conference at this place called Southern Evangelical Seminary where you could get a Master’s in apologetics.
My path was set.
And also, I decided to join these guys on their trip to the conference. You have to understand what a big step this was. As someone on the spectrum, I hadn’t left my parents house and I commuted to school. I didn’t really go on overnight trips like this. Now I was. My parents I am sure talked to this friend, named Paul, and made sure all was good.
I loved the conference and I think I spent $400 there on apologetics materials. The joke was after awhile that the students in the bookstore were happy to see me come because that meant their tuition would be paid that year. Anyway, my future path was decided at that point.
Also in my senior year at Bible College, I gave my senior sermon. This was to a crowd of the entire student body, about 1,000 people, and all professors that would be present. Remember Voc Rehab saying I couldn’t handle public speaking? Yeah. I wish they could have been there. Even a year later as I was trying to do a Master’s there, I had students coming up to me telling me how much they loved the message.
My Master’s there wasn’t successful, but I decided I’d just go to SES instead. That was in Charlotte, and I didn’t want my parents to worry about me being so far away. Thus, I decided I’d spend a year proving myself. How? I just came home one day and told my parents I had put money down on an apartment in the city. Yep. No discussion there. Just done. The next day, my mother came home with some supplies to help me out.
So I lived in an apartment about 15 miles or so away. I did this to demonstrate that I could handle things by myself. When the time for the conference came, I went by myself. All was going well. I applied to SES and lo and behold, I was accepted. There was some concern due to SES having a strong doctrinal statement and my being an orthodox Preterist. I was just told to not evangelize my views. No biggie. I didn’t come to teach Preterism but to learn apologetics more.
Yet there was one more barrier. Things were much more expensive. Could I really go it alone entirely? Wouldn’t it be nice if I found some friend that could join me? Yet none of my friends in the area cared about apologetics.
Fortunately, I had a friend from a web site named Theology Web who had been wanting to go to Bible College for some time. His name was David. He lived in Missouri at the time, but we talked very regularly and had met a few times. He decided he would join me, so he and his mother come over and meet us in Knoxville and the next day, we set out together to Charlotte where our apartment is waiting.
SES was a great time and before too long, David and I were climbing up the ranks. I had got to know the president very quickly and was being well-known in my classes. The church David and I went to met at the seminary and had a strong apologetics emphasis and before too long, we found there was a lot of talk about these two young guys who were gung-ho about spiritual things.
We also made several friends there. One such was our friend Chris. Today, Chris and I are still good friends. Had it not been for my having a flu bug, I would have been a groomsman at his wedding last December. Chris and I regularly got together to watch Smallville and we would all play a game like Smash Brothers together.
Now if there was anything that was still greatly lacking in my life, it was that I was someone who was always wondering if I would get married one day. Paul from Bible College had been at SES for awhile and he told the Christian Research Institute about me which led to my being hired as a researcher. One day I was heading home from work and remembered that Gary Habermas was coming to SES to teach a module. Gary and I had spoken before when he did a talk at the church at SES. He was helping me with doubt, not about Christianity, but about myself. I was always doubting my own ability in apologetics. I figured I’d go see him.
When I saw him, he told me when we were alone that he and Frank Turek and some others had been talking together. He asked me if I knew who Mike Licona was. Of course, I did. I had read their book together. He asked me if I knew if Mike had a daughter. I did not. Mike had spoken at a debate with Bart Ehrman at SES recently and I remembered he looked awfully young. I was shocked to find out he had a daughter who was 19. (I was a month away from 29)
Gary told me that he and Frank and someone else had been speaking about this daughter. She was going through a hard time and that she had Aspergers made it harder until Frank said, “Well, Nick Peters has Aspergers.” Gary asked me if I would be willing to email her and talk to her.
I did. I wasn’t even really looking for love at the time, but I did become a friend. Like I said, I wasn’t looking for love. Nosiree. Allie was all the way in Atlanta after all. Such a thing would not work out.
Except come Labor Day we decided we were going to be a dating couple.
In October, I went to see her. Her parents were pleased to thrill me and we had a great time together. Our first date was at the Georgia Aquarium. Some friends at SES knew we were going to marry then because Allie actually got me to touch some fish in the aquarium. I never touch anything like that. Never.
I understand when I came back home and was talking about the event, David and Chris were saying they needed to book a wedding chapel. I also had some friends who were identical twins. We would get together every Sunday night and play Smash Brothers and then go bowling with their Dad. I got to tell them all the story about our first date, including how Allie and I definitely kissed on our first date, and was full of excitement. Their Dad wasn’t home at the time and I remember we were playing Smash Brothers and I was unbeatable that evening. My mood was off the charts. Then I heard their Dad had just got home and I wanted to tell him the story. We were nearing the end of that round and my last opponent had one life left so I said it was time to finish this.
My friend was stunned. “What? We’re not even near”
Before he could blink I had indeed finished him off.
So this is how excited I was.
Come November, David knew what was going on when we went to the mall together. He wanted some jeans, and I was just going to jewelry stores. There’s really only one reason David knew I would be going to jewelry stores. Later that month he messaged me at work saying he was moving in with someone else. He told me he’d been reading the tea leaves as it were and knew that before too long, Allie and I would not want to have him around since we were obviously getting married. I told him the reality was he wouldn’t want to be around.
For the annual apologetics conference. Allie had come to see me. Her big highlight there was in a special meeting for speakers and their families. She had everywhere been introduced as “Mike Licona’s daughter” and she didn’t like it. This time, when she was introduced, people were told, “This is Nick Peters’s girlfriend.” She liked that title a lot more.
So while I was at work after that, I remember turning to go to my office again and hearing someone say “Mike Licona’s daughter.” I stopped. Then I heard another guy there speaking and saying things like “Wonderful couple.” “So perfect together.” “Probably going to get married.” I came around the corner and said that was more definitely. It was through that that I learned where to go to buy the ring at a good price. My aunt owed me a good deal of money and I had her send it to me so I could buy it.
Back in December, I saw the president of our college. I told him that I had been practicing proposing. When I told him my plan, he told me “I always knew you were a theologian. I had no idea you were such a romantic.” I also saw Frank Turek. I thanked him for being instrumental in my getting to know Allie. He asked how that was going. I told him I was looking for a ring.
So come December, most everyone else knew what was going on, but Allie was still in the dark. I had already privately called her parents and told them my intentions and got their blessing. I encourage every guy to do this if possible. You’re going to a family and asking for their baby girl after all.
Allie was to spend Christmas Eve with me and my family. (by the way, if anyone is worried about something, Allie and I never did anything remotely inappropriate before marriage.) I picked her up at the Charlotte airport. The place has a star-shaped fountain pool with a statue of Queen Charlotte in the center. I told her I wanted her to see this first. We’re out there and I have the jewelry box in my pocket. I am fumbling around making sure it opens the right way. I don’t want to open it and have a ring come falling on the ground. Finally, I have it all ready and go into the pitch I had been preparing.
“So Princess (The nickname I still have for her to this day). Have you ever thought about being a queen?”
“Only if you’re the king.”
(Isn’t that an awesome anwer?!)
“Well, I guess you’ve made this easy for me.”
Then Allie is just stunned, a look I still remember to this day, as I get down on one knee and open up the box to show the ring and ask “Allie Licona. Will you marry me?”
We were both stunned because my cell phone went off at that time. It’s odd to hear “Somebody Save Me” from Smallville playing as you’re proposing. I just considered it a way to start the adventure. I ignored it of course, but I knew who it had to be. Mom. She always calls at the worst times.
Of course, Allie said yes. I then checked after awhile to see who it was that called. Half-right. It was her mother. She wanted me to know Allie’s plane had arrived early. Her mother has been scared that it would be something I would always bring up over and over.
And if you know me at all, those fears are well-founded.
The interstate to Tennessee had been blocked by a landslide that year, so I had directions from AAA to get around it. It was a long drive through the snow in towns I was unfamiliar with. When we got to our first stop, you have to realize that these were people who had never seen Allie before. Some might have not even known about her at all. Therefore, I told Allie my plan for introducing her.
I went in with my hand tightly clutched around hers covering the ring. We were the last ones to get there due to the snow and all so I came in and said “Hi everyone. This is Allie. She and I have been dating for three months and as of a few hours ago, she’s become somewhat more important in my life.” At that point, I released her hand so everyone could see the ring and then I dove out of the way to avoid all the girls coming up wanting to see that ring.
Our next stop was my aunt’s and we did the same thing. Christmas was great that year. Allie still recounts it as the best Christmas gift she has ever been given.
Our wedding was to be in July. I had arranged it even before I proposed. I knew I wanted to go in the summer because of school. I also knew I wanted to go to Ocean Isle Beach. Chris had shown us that place and I knew it was where I would want to go on a honeymoon. I saw that July 24 was a Saturday and the next day, a Sunday, had a full moon.
Honeymoon with a full moon on the beach? Not passing that up.
I went back to SES the month after the proposal to start classes for that semester wondering if anyone really knew about what had happened with me. I open up our weekly newsletter in my mailbox and see in prayers and praises a note saying “God’s blessing on Nick Peters and Allie Licona’s engagement.”
I guess they know.
In my first class, the professor said he wanted us to all be paying attention. He didn’t want me for instance over there just sitting and saying to myself “I’m getting married” over and over, and then said, “Which is true by the way, congratulations.” Yes. Word was out.
David was my best man at the wedding. No one else could have taken that position. I also surrounded myself with men who could counsel me about marriage, sex, and everything else. Our wedding was a fairy tale wedding. Everything went perfectly without a hitch. It was a beautiful one. Gary Habermas who introduced us was the one who married us.
I used to say the depression was the worst thing I had ever gone through, but I was grateful because it led me to apologetics. I no longer say that. I now say it led me to apologetics, and that led me to Allie. With Allie by my side, confidence issues started to become less and less. I have a woman who actually believes in me and desires me. It’s incredible. When my friend Chris got married last December, he sought me out for advice. Why? Because he saw Allie and I together and he wanted that. It’s great to get a compliment on intellectual ability. It’s great, but anyone can do that with study. It’s something better to be told I’m a good husband to Allie. That’s virtue.
As many of you know, I had to leave SES eventually. When Norman Geisler went after Mike on inerrancy, I couldn’t stay silent. I feared I had made enough enemies that I would not be able to graduate. Today, I am in Atlanta. I assist Mike with his ministry. I’m trying to complete a Master’s in New Testament distance learning through Johnson again. I am busy learning Greek and trying to review books for my podcast, which I am quite pleased with, and doing work for Mike still.
This is also one reason I ask for donations on the show. Employment isn’t available because I have to make enough to cover my health-care and Allie’s. She is on Social Securit disability. It puts us in a tight spot, but I’m happy with her. I love my wife and this has been a growing time for me in learning how to be a good husband. I get plenty of books from authors wanting me to review them. I enjoy that I have got to know several scholars.
So are things in a rough path financially? Yeah, but we’re going to make it. I also like to encourage those growing up and starting apologetics. It took a long time to get to where I was. For a time, I would regularly get myself into situations I couldn’t handle, but it took a lot of study. Yes. I am doing that study now.
Apologetics has been a great gift to me. I get to serve Jesus doing the work that I love and I get to help others along the way. Of course, I also have Allie by my side as well. My friends who knew me before and after know that Allie has had a marked improvement on my life. One such way is food. As an Aspie, my diet had always been restricted. Counselor and friends and parents tried to get me to change it for decades. Not going to happen.
Allie didn’t even have to try.
Do I still have areas to work on? Yes. Allie is trying to work with me on those and I’m sometimes resistant, but if I was detective Monk, she’s my Natalie. She helps keep me sane in this crazy world. She’s someone who stabilizes me when I can’t handle things. People get amazed at the love I show for her in public and on Facebook. I didn’t even realize I had it in me, but I do apparently.
Well, that’s been my story. I haven’t told everything of course. No one could. Still, I want it to be a way that you can get to know the guy behind Deeper Waters. I hope in some ways, it’s an inspiration too, especially if you’re disabled and want ot know if you can ever do anything.
And of course, if I haven’t said it, I love my Princess.