Thankfulness And Silence

Are we to have a Happy Thanksgiving? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been writing this week in response to the news of Tyler Vela about divorce and silence. Today, being Thanksgiving, I don’t have to work and there are no classes. Naturally, I turn off the alarm and choose to sleep in as long as I can.

Yet early in the morning when I start to wake up, who is right there waiting for me but Shiro. So what do I do? Stay in bed for just a little bit to hold him and pet him and get some kitty kisses from him. Starting Thanksgiving with my little kitty is certainly a great way to begin the day with thankfulness.

Honestly, Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday of all. I’m not one for meal situations and I don’t like a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods. The only exception for me is pumpkin pie. I am fine with not going to Thanksgiving meals at all. (Although I’m sure Shiro would be thrilled if anyone wanted to bring by a bite of turkey for him.)

Today, I was intending to just write about Thanksgiving, but as I thought about it, I realized this has relevance to the silence of God. Years ago, I read something from Tim Keller about thankfulness. It was a portion of Scripture that I had read several times and yet, a few key words in that Scripture I had never taken the time to consider.

Let’s look at Romans 1.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

We can get caught up in so many debates about this passage. It can be classical apologetics vs. presuppositionalism. It can be about the nature of design arguments. It can be questions of if someone can truly be an atheist or not.

Fine questions and worth discussion, but did you notice that part at the end? This is about people who the text says know God and they didn’t glorify Him, but also, they didn’t give thanks. They were not appreciative of God. They didn’t show gratitude.

If you don’t appreciate something and you’re not thankful for it, it can lead to a resentment or it can lead to an entitlement attitude. Here in America, if you live here, you are generally a rich person. You might think you’re poor, but compared to the majority of the world, you are rich. What do we want? More. We mourn about how little we have so often.

I also think this does contribute to divorce. Where does this idea come from that the grass is greener on the other side? As a nerd, I was amazed most every day that I was actually married and I do long for that again. If you think something is owed to you, you will not be grateful for it. There’s a reason the entitlement mindset is causing so much damage in our country.

So what about the silence of God?

Too often, it’s likely that God has already spoken and we have not appreciated what has been said. Skepticism is one thing and if it’s purely intellectual, that can be worked on, but if emotion is driving it, the most powerful intellectual arguments won’t do a thing. Why do you think I get concerned with so many of our younger generation demanding more and more and more?

However, what if we are really saying to God, “What you have done is not good enough?” If we do not appreciate the ways God has spoken, should He really say anymore? If we do not appreciate whatever God has given us, why would He bother giving us more?

The Jews have a Passover song called Dayenu. The lyrics are much longer and interspersed with a chorus, but they go as follows talking about the Passover.

Had we been taken out of Egypt and not had judgment executed upon the Egyptians, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon the Egyptians and not upon their idols, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their idols, and not their firstborn, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their firstborn, and we had not received their wealth, it would’ve been enough. Had we received their wealth, and not had the sea split for us, it would’ve been enough. Had the sea been split the sea for us, and we had not been led through it to dry land, it would’ve been enough. Had we been led to dry land, and our enemies not drowned in the sea behind us, it would’ve been enough for us. Had our enemies drowned, and our needs not have been provided for in the desert for 40 years, it would’ve been enough. Had we been supported in the desert and not been given bread, it would have been enough. Had we been given bread and not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough. Had we been given the Sabbath and not been brought to Mount Sinai, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Mount Sinai and not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough. Had we been sent the Torah and not been brought to Israel, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Israel and not been built the Holy Temple, it would have been enough.

What this is saying is that every step would have been enough. God owed nothing more. God owes us nothing more. The only thing He has to give is what He promised. It’s often asked about the problem of evil, “Why did God kill so many?” It’s never considered how many He let live. He had no obligation. It’s as if we are saying “God owes us life.” No. He doesn’t.

If you are owed nothing, and you are given everything, what is that? It’s not payment for something. It’s not God is in debt to you. It is all a gift. All is grace.

I am thankful for many things today. My family and my friends are high up there. I am thankful to be in the city of New Orleans, a city I have come to love, and working on my education at a school I love with a job that I thoroughly enjoy and meeting new people. I am thankful I can rebuild my life and remarry someday. I am thankful that I have got to be a person of influence somehow through the internet. I am thankful I am making it through my divorce bit by bit. I am thankful for the people who have donated to me through Patreon or Risen Jesus to show their support for me. I am thankful for a cute little kitty currently sleeping on my bed. I am thankful I have so many books and games here to keep my mind active. All is grace.

And I’m definitely thankful for grace. It would have been enough, but the one who said it wasn’t enough was God Himself. He looked at all the ways He had loved us so far and said “It’s not enough.” Ephesians 2 even says it’s still not enough. He will spend all of eternity showing us how much He loves us.

I don’t deserve it. Neither do you. It’s all a gift. It’s all grace.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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

Silence In Divorce

Is anybody there? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I did a discussion with the Mentionables over the situation involving Tyler Vela. This involves an apologist having a deconversion of sorts. I really wanted to speak on this because something that Tyler and I also have in common is that we’ve both gone through divorce.

Something Tyler wrote on his Facebook about this was talking about the silence of God. Now in all of this, he was praying and memorizing Scripture and doing things like that all the more. Those are good things, but I don’t think that addresses really the so-called silence of God.

I saw so-called because a major error of our Christian culture today is the idea that God is always speaking to us on an individualistic basis. Usually, this is said to be done through our emotions. Don’t believe me? Just see how many times you hear in a church service talk about being felt led to do something. Now who is leading you in this idea? God. How? Through how you feel.

Does that sound like a recipe for chaos?

How do you know God is leading you somewhere? You feel Him leading you. We also take it further. How do you know the favor of God on your life? You feel it. How do you know God loves you? You have those feelings also.

If we applied this to any other area in our life, it would lead to chaos.

What is one reason we have a major increase in divorce? Because we base our marriages more on feeling in love than on love itself. If you had to divorce your spouse every time you didn’t feel love, you would divorce a lot. It’s not just there either. I’m sure a mother having to get up at 3 AM for a fussy baby to change a diaper and everything else and knowing she has to be up again in a few hours is not overflowing with love at the thought. Some of you might be, but I’m quite certain you’re the exception.

No relationship should be based on your emotions, not even your one with God.

This is not to deny there can be emotions in these relationships, but one should not make a diet out of them. One should enjoy the good ones and work through and understand the sad ones. Every life has its ups and downs. Not even our Lord could escape sadness on this Earth and we have intense pride if we think we are the exception still.

That still doesn’t address the problem about the silence. However, we have to start at the beginning and say it cannot be based on your emotions. Otherwise, if you feel the love of God, well God loves you. If you feel that God is distant and not there, well you have to deny that feeling. It becomes an exercise in question-begging. Bad emotions? Not good. Good emotions. Good.

Consider it like the test the Mormon missionaries give you. Do you feel the burning in the bosom? Good emotion. God. Do you not feel it? Then the problem is you.

If we seek that feeling more, then we can be in the case of not that we are seeking God, though we think we could be, and maybe to some degree we are, but we’re really seeking a feeling. The confirmation we have found God is that a feeling occurs or something similar. If God doesn’t give us that feeling, then He just doesn’t care about us.

Let’s be clear. Even though I don’t think God is obligated to speak to us or to give us feelings, that quiet is still painful. It is hard to feel like even God has rejected you.

In divorce, you are rejected in every way. The biggest analogy I can come up with to a guy feeling rejection in marriage is the way a wife can say “Not tonight, dear. I have a headache.” Divorce is a way of not just that rejection one time, but that and every other rejection for life permanently. In every way as a man, you are not the man. You are rejected.

You lose your best friend. You lose your love. You could lose your kids if you have those. You lose your relationships as they were. Sadly, too many times if your friends were other couples, it’s hard to have that now.

Loneliness is a major problem. When you go to bed at night, you sleep alone. When you go to a church service, it’s other couples that you see and people talk about their families and every instance of seeing that is a little stab to the heart reminding you that you’re alone.

The church can be one of the most painful places to go and the worst part is the church is often not very therapeutic. People want to cure your negative feelings instead of just listening to you about them and working through them with you. Everyone at church is expected to be happy and joyful. People often treat Christianity like a neverending adventure of joy.

We also put on our spiritual faces in church. You hear of people who pray for hours and get endless joy from reading their Bible as they learn something new every day. People talk about how God is speaking to them and answering all of their prayers so very specifically.

If you don’t have those experiences, well, you’re just not a very good Christian.

Also, add in that if you’re divorced, too often you are really looked down on. I am thankful I have not experienced this from churches for the most part, but I know I am an exception based on what I hear from others. Even if it was a sin of yours that ended your marriage, you are still in pain. There are many churches that will not let a divorced man in the pulpit. Never mind that a large portion of the New Testament was written by a guy who was a murderer.

Now you get the silence of God on top of that.

No wonder it hurts!

Still, turn back to Scripture. Is God speaking the norm? No. Abraham, the friend of God, had the heavens silent for well over a decade and he’s even an exceptional case in God speaking. Those times that God speaks are recorded not because they are normative, but because they are exceptional.

Look at the Israelites with Moses. They actually beg Moses to have God NOT speak to them, and when He spoke, it was not a feeling in their hearts, but a booming voice from the mountain. Moses was the one exception.

If people were really experiencing this regularly, they would not need the prophets. What about the New Testament? We could say the same. What did they need the epistles or apostles for if they had the Holy Spirit just telling them everything? We have taken something exceptional and made it normative because we’re just so special.

The idea of the silence of God is the result.

My idea of the love of God for me is not based on my feelings, but based on what He has said in Scripture. The cross and the resurrection tell me God loves me. How do I know I am one of His? Because I am trusting Him and seeking to live a holy life.

These truths are what kept me going in my divorce and still keep me going, even when temptation comes to give up. I’m still battling and I have been told that it could be the only real end of the battle this side of eternity could be remarriage. That’s why I’m in therapy over here as well to learn social skills and even the dreaded small talk. I really want to get remarried again and I know I have to work for that.

If you are struggling and experiencing so-called silence, it doesn’t mean God is not there. Now I do realize there are some Scripture passages that people use. Isn’t God near to the brokenhearted? Doesn’t God say if a boy asks for a fish he will get it? God willing, I plan to handle this next time.

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

 

Can God Be A Moral Monster

Is it possible for God to be morally wrong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

He told me that it the flood was wrong. I wanted to know why. The reply was that it brought about a lot of agony. I’m sure it did, but on what grounds does that mean it was wrong? There are plenty of events that bring about agony. Sometimes, it’s needed. I had a lot of agony after my back surgery. Still glad I went through it.

One of the big problems with this kind of objection is that it carries in it a built-in idea about God that many Christians hold to as well. The book Is God A Moral Monster? is a great book and I’m not saying Copan holds the view I am critiquing, but it could be asked if the claim is even possible. Can God be a moral monster?

When objections are raised about what God does, the claim often comes up that it is wrong for God to do X. Why? On what grounds? I am not going the presuppositionalist route here. This is not asking by what authority one can condemn God. It’s asking if questions of morality can even apply to God.

Consider how this works. If God is capable of being moral or immoral, then that means there is a moral law that is objective. Christians agree at this point, but does this mean that it applies to God? God is under the law and is to be held accountable to it? Who could hold God to account for it?

So if God takes a life, for example, on what grounds has He done something wrong? He is the Lord and source of all life. If He wants to take a life, He can. Is there anyone that He owes a life to? Is there anyone that God is in debt to?

Now one objection I can think of to this is that God has made promises. Doesn’t God keep His promises? Doesn’t He have an obligation to do that?

God does keep His promises, but it’s not because He’s moral, doing what He ought to do as there is no ought above Him. It is because He is good. All moral acts are good, but not all good acts are moral. Sometimes, we go above and beyond what we ought to do and that is a good act that is not required upon us.  I may have a moral requirement to help my neighbor in need. It’s going above and beyond if I can somehow pay all of his bills for a year.

If you ask me then if God is moral, I will say no. The question doesn’t apply. If you ask me if God is good, I will say absolutely. The question does apply. This is not because goodness is something outside of God He submits to. It is because goodness is His very nature. He is good because He cannot deny Himself or be untrue to Himself.

Thus, in a debate, I make it a point that my opponent has to demonstrate why God is supposedly in the wrong for anything. It’s not mine to assume God’s actions have to be defended. My opponent needs to show me why they need any defense at all.

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

To The Aspie Who Became A Deist

What do you say to someone who thinks God has dealt them a bad hand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was going to write more about going to seminary, but a friend messaged this to me this morning and I think it is more important. I tried to find the original, but I could not. Here is a screenshot of what was shared.

To the person who said this, I get where you’re coming from to an extent. I get that there are difficulties with being on the spectrum. I get it when people talk around me and I wonder how they notice the social cues that I am missing or if they are being sarcastic or mean what they say. I get wondering what it is that people really think about you.

You see, I do realize there are aspects that are difficult in my life too being on the spectrum. I have a refrigerator that doesn’t have a lot in it and it’s not mainly because of economic reasons, but because my diet is limited on the spectrum. I only eat foods I can eat with my hands and for me, the thought of a social get-together involving eating can be a nightmare many times.

I get the obsessiveness. I understand what it’s like to be so enthused about a topic and have people around you not really care. I also understand how hard it is when people put down your interests.

I also get what it’s like to not focus so well. I understand that in a classroom I have to have a laptop on or my mind drifts away and I don’t hear anything that is said. I understand having to have my phone with me during a talk or else the same thing happens and I zone out entirely.

I understand the fear of approaching people, especially for myself, the fairer sex. I understand sometimes that loneliness can be a real thing. You want deeply to be understood and accepted and you don’t know who around you is genuine and who isn’t.

I’m not saying these are all your experiences. I don’t know. We’re all different on the spectrum, but I hope somewhere you can relate to what I have said.

However, I want you to know so much that I value the gifts that I have been given, and a great start in my life is parents and a sister who love me and have always encouraged me to succeed. My family built in me a drive to succeed. As a gamer also, I developed a longing to take part in the battle of good versus evil. I developed a drive to win.

My folks were told early on that I would never graduate high school even. I would never go to college. I would never drive a car. I would never get married. So many things. This is what the experts in the field were saying.

My mother tells me when I went to middle school, there was concern because there were steps to go from one floor to the next and I really don’t like staircases. They took me to the school when it was empty so I could learn. My mother tells me I said, “Mom. I have to do this.” I did it.

I did graduate from the public school system. I have been told I was the first person in Knox County on the spectrum to do this. I did go on to college. Later on, I moved out to an apartment about 20 minutes away from my parents. I wanted to go to seminary in the next state over and they needed to know I could do it. By the way, I was indeed driving in all of this as I had a job regularly.

I moved away and into an apartment with my best friend and lived with him for awhile. While with him though, I met a girl and got married. Readers of my blog know that after ten years, that ended in divorce, but I have praise from many others on being a thoroughly devoted husband.

And now where am I at? Remember, I’m the autistic kid who would never do anything? I’m about 600 miles away from my parents. I live in New Orleans attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and I am working on my Master’s. I live in an apartment where it’s me and my cat.

Do I have struggles? Yep. There’s the financial struggles which is why I’m seeking better income and also why I am sharing my Patreon more in the hopes of getting more support. There’s the struggle with being a good housekeeper. I suck at cleaning. I just never find the time for that kind of thing. There’s also learning to relate to people.

Fortunately around here, I do meet many people who within a month’s time already know me by name and seem genuinely happy to see me. I have no reason to think it’s fake. I definitely still want a lady in my life, but overall, I’m doing good.

However, most important, I owe this all to Christ. Without my Christian faith, I would not have made it where I am today. You can say you think God has dealt you a bad hand, but it could just be God knows you’re a really good player and you could play that hand for good more than anyone else could.

In light of all the difficulties, I love the positives more. I love being able to think on levels most people don’t. I love being able to recall numerous quotes and facts about my field of apologetics. I love being able to do complex math in my head and get to amaze people with my trick where I tell them what day of the week they were born on when I hear their birthday. I love getting to play games with people and be really good at it.

I don’t understand being happier when God doesn’t care about you. I am thoroughly angry about the people who told you God would help you when it was time, as if you had a cancer treatment or something and was just sitting in Heaven saying, “No. I want to make you suffer more.” Of course, God does bring about suffering in our lives sometimes, but it’s never for the sake of suffering. It’s so we can be even stronger because of it.

I understand not wanting to sing his praises every Sunday. That kind of thing is a struggle for me as most praise songs I hear seem shallow. For me, praise is done in the study of my academics and in enjoying the life that God gave me. It is expressing gratitude for my friends and my family and yes, my little kitty.

My Aspergers is not a death sentence. If anything, I have reached the point where I hope in eternity when I stand before God, I will still in some way be an Aspie. I consider it overall a gift. I understand not everyone does and I’m not telling them to see it that way.

I am telling you though that if Christianity is true, every ounce of suffering that you go through in life can be redeemed. Nothing is wasted. I’m not going to say anything to you about God having a plan for your life. I don’t treat such claims seriously. The plan God has for your life is ultimately easy. God’s plan is to conform you to the likeness of Christ.

I urge you to reconsider what you have decided on. Instead, look at the evidence for something like the resurrection of Jesus. See if Christianity is true. Knowing my faith is true is a great blessing to me and I enjoy being a part of God’s story. I enjoy the adventure of living everyday in the world He created.

And not only that, but all the struggles that I have, there are other people that can help me. I found someone I can hire, for example, to come over regularly and give my apartment a deep clean. That helps. I have friends here who can help me in other areas, including my relationships with women, and I’m working on starting up gaming groups right here on campus. I am also already winning the favor of my professors and others. Overall, life is good.

Again, I don’t know you, but if you do read this and want to reach out, I’m open to talk. I always hope the church can do more for people on the spectrum. Your story is one that I hope will stay in my mind as I work to make the church more disability friendly as well.

Please do reconsider. You are loved by God regardless of how you feel or what hand you think you have been dealt. There is hope.

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

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 6

Is Hell an insurmountable problem? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s not really a shock when an emotional atheist complains about Hell. One expects it really. Normally, I enjoy going through atheist books, but I just found Bradley to be taxing. There was no challenge and it consistently felt like an emotional rant.

It’s not a shock that on a side note, he refers at the start of this chapter to the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages. Most historians know that this was not the case at all. Science was very much on the rise in the Middle Ages.

Also in the chapter, he has a reference to an authority on how many times Hell is mentioned in the New Testament. His source is Dial The Truth Ministries on the internet. It would have been awful for him to, you know, pick up a Lexicon and/or Concordance or actually look at what a real Biblical scholar says.

Also, Bradley still always treats Hell as if it’s a burning inferno and never interacts with what evangelical scholars say about it. I do realize I have friends who hold to conditional immortality and I do not hold to that, but I don’t want to make that an issue here. Someone of that position can choose to respond to Bradley in their own way.

Bradley describes burning someone forever as cruel, to which I can say I don’t hold to that so that is not a problem. He also says that one should not be punished forever for crimes done in a finite time, but the length of time it takes to do an evil says nothing about how evil it was. We just had a school shooting recently that could have been done in a couple of hours. Meanwhile, running a Ponzi scheme for years takes a lot longer. Which one do we think should have the biggest sentence? Both are crimes and evil, but one is a worse evil even if it didn’t take as long.

He also says God would not punish someone for lack of correct belief. This is true. I do not hold that He does. God punishes people for their sins. It’s not as if that if you didn’t believe in Jesus, you are sin-free. Even if one is a skeptic of Christianity, most of us know we have all done wrong things in our life and some things we are ashamed of.

He also says God would not be unforgiving forever, and that is true. However, there is no reason to believe those in Hell would ever truly repent. If someone wants to make that case, let them. I hold that they are constantly in a state of sin and rebellion.

Really, these are all basic objections and most any Christian writing a defense of the doctrine of Hell would address these. Even if Bradley thinks the defenses are weak, he should at least interact with them. I kept wondering if he ever really read anyone who disagreed with him. I am skeptical of that.

Bradley thinks one has lost their logical marbles, (Yes. His words) for thinking God could not create a world that lacked moral evil. However, he gives no justification for this claim. After all, if God is going to create free agents who can choose, then it seems like He has to accept some of them will freely choose evil. Bradley does think the only interpretation of Christianity apparently is also a hyper-Calvinistic one.

He does say “What about Heaven? Isn’t that a place of perfection?” Indeed, and it is also a place we go to after we choose that kind of life. It is the result of choosing God. Even the angels had to make that choice.

Bradley also says that all of this is part of fundamentalist beliefs and he should know. After all, he used to be one of them. I would question the used to be part. Bradley, as far as I am concerned, lived his life a fundamentalist and I pray he did not die one. He just took one for the other side. (And once again as I point out, these guys love to give their personal testimonies.)

I really wish there was more to go on, but there isn’t. Naturally, Bradley doesn’t address my interpretation of the doctrine. This isn’t because I’m so special, but because I think Lewis held to this and it’s my understanding that the Orthodox Church holds to a similar view. Bradley only knows one view and that one, he doesn’t know well.

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

 

The World Of Divorce

What’s it like going through it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This season of DivorceCare just ended. I suspect it will be my last time here. I am in the process of applying to be a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and I will then be moving to New Orleans when accepted. Even if I don’t start a semester immediately, I want to be able to get situated, get good employment, and start meeting people.

It really left me tonight thinking about the world of divorce. It’s still a struggle for all of us. I am helping someone out now who is on the journey just as I was helped, but all of us on the path are still hurting.

Other couples can be difficult to see. I am reading through an apocalyptic novel, a chapter a night right now, involving a simple country guy who somehow survives a plague that outright kills most of humanity and recently, he has come across a girl he went to school with who also survived. Tuesday night, they professed their love for each other and well, we know what comes next. No. The book didn’t describe the scene at all, but you did know what was happening. (Do you need to seek a minister to marry you if the world has come to an end like that? Questions theologians ask.)

Did I go to bed depressed some? Yep. I thought about this tonight as we described seeing other couples sometimes. When I was married, it was we were getting together with friends. Now, I am getting together with a friend. When you’re married, your friends seem to be other couples. When you’re single, not as much.

I really do miss that interaction. I wonder if I will ever experience the love of a woman again and getting to give her my love as well. Add in that I’m on the spectrum and that makes it even harder. I understand many guys have a hard time knowing if a woman is flirting with them. For me, it’s far harder.

Not only that, but how do you properly express yourself? How do I know I’m not being a stalker type? How do I show someone how much I adore them without appearing too obsessed over a person?

How do you even make the first move? I remember reading a book on flirting and it told to go through a week at a time. The first week was learning to make eye contact. Hard, but doable. I start looking everyone in the eye as I am told to not just look the opposite sex but the same sex so you can just get better used to eye contact. Okay. Good.

Then the next week was when wisdom shows it’s a good idea, give a gentle smile to someone you deem attractive. I started doing that and I was really surprised how many smiles I got back. I don’t know what that means exactly. I couldn’t help but wonder if they thought I was cute possibly.

So far so good. Let’s go to step three!

Small talk.

I don’t think I came back for months and still I struggle with this one as I despise small talk.

It’s a hope of mine to get to seminary and find guys who will be my wingmen and give me tips on if a girl is interested in me or not. I would totally miss it if they were. I do love the academic life and the intellectual arena, but I am not the best when it comes to the social arena.

Some people might think I focus on that too much. First off, as a guy, I think about physical interaction a lot and miss it everyday so yeah, this is something I focus on. Second, it’s easy for people who are still married to talk about learning to focus on God. Divorce really rips out something from you and it’s as if you’ve lost a limb or even a few of them.

Add in also now that when I am at work, I am essentially bored silly. My work doesn’t challenge me and I realize I did not go to college for this. When I am spoken to by my managers, it is essentially to tell me about things I have done wrong or they think are wrong. I see other people interacting fine and wonder what I’m missing. Really, one of the times I feel the loneliest of all in my life is when I’m at work. I am truly an outsider.

I look at the world around me and see so much chaos going on and I want to be out there doing something and making a difference, but here I am doing what any high schooler could do. I spend 40 hours a week doing it. At least on the way to and fro I can listen to an audible book and while I’m at work I can on breaks read my other books. I won’t deny that work at least pays the bills, but I want meaning in what I do.

When I fill out a survey online and I get asked my marital status, it is still always painful to select divorced. It was a word I never wanted to use to describe myself. I really think I tried to do most everything I could do to be a good and loving husband. In the end, it was rejection.

Rejection is painful. It’s one reason I hate going to work as I feel like an outsider there. I have been there for about ten months and thus far no one has even asked for my Facebook information or anything like that. The only exception is one person who got fired and came through my line and wanted my number and I gave it to him.

I am thankful my parents have provided me a place to live. I am also thankful that I get to spend my time with my cat here. I don’t want to say life is completely terrible. It’s not. I still enjoy my reading and doing my apologetics and I love my gaming time with my friends. I have more money for that now and I also am now playing Final Fantasy XIV online with friends of mine. (If you play, let me know. I am Phoenix Skywing.)

I also try to live by the maxim that the best revenge is a life well lived. I have no wish to harm my ex-wife. I don’t even know where she is right now or what she’s doing. I have a general idea, but I don’t look her up or anything like that. She’s made her decision. I still pray for her every night, but I don’t watch her or keep tabs or anything like that.

For going to New Orleans, I am looking for a church now that is autism friendly. I am also going to talk about getting a job with the New Orleans Baptist Association if I don’t get one at a local church. I have also given some thought to doing Christian comedy from an autistic Christian perspective. One benefit of my work now is I have so many interactions that really show the way people think that I can make plenty of jokes about how people act in a retail environment.

The biggest concern about this is sadly, the church can treat divorce like it’s the unpardonable sin. This is one area we definitely need to improve on. I am thankful I have a good church family. I can’t imagine going through this and having a church family that would kick me while I’m down as if I was an awful sinner because of what happened. Sadly, there are too many people who cannot say the same thing about having a good church.

Until then, I will be sharing my Patreon also so that if I do lose my job, which wouldn’t surprise me frankly, I can at least have some more income coming in in the meanwhile and hopefully, I can get to a point of working entirely from home doing apologetics. I also ask people who want to encourage to mainly listen if you have not gone through divorce. Help from people who have not been there is often remembered as being more painful than it is helpful.

If you have been through it, I welcome you walking beside me, especially if you’re a guy and can share in the struggles that guys have. I remember as an example talking to a guy friend here who has gone through it about the struggle I had at the start of it when I felt guilty finding myself attracted to other women. I remember also thinking about going through a store and saying to myself, “She would like this. Oh yeah. Right. She did that.” I was so used to buying her gifts and now so much I have to unthink. Having a guy who has walked the walk has been essential to me.

Divorce is painful. Even writing this blog has been painful. There are times I can be minding my own business and just get hit with sudden sorrow for a moment or so. One reason I think I game a lot now is so that I can have my mind off of the matter for a short time. I have a goal I can accomplish and I work on doing that.

Many of you have been there and I appreciate that. Also, not all of you are Christians even, but I appreciate your help as well. I am thankful that as much as I love debate, posts like this don’t become debate posts. I am also thankful some people I know have been inspired to speak out and share their stories on divorce. I would love to see the stigma against it broken. This is also why I have a Facebook group for Christian men and divorce. Feel free to find it and join in, but you have to answer all the questions to get in.

And if you have read this long, I appreciate your reading. I do really look forward to what’s coming up in my life, though I won’t deny it is somewhat frightening too. I have never lived as far away as in Louisiana, but I want to do something to make a difference down there as well.

Please be praying for me and consider becoming a contributor to my Patreon as well. All the support I can get will be great and I am a spender who tries to be conscientious with money. I am always looking for a bargain.

Again, thank you for reading.

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

Divorce About A Year Later

How is life today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you know I have been applying to NOBTS. If you don’t know that, then obviously you need to subscribe to my newsletter. Recently while filling out the application, I had to explain the circumstances of my divorce. That involved getting out the paperwork and looking at it again. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was this month.

So how is it a year later?

Well, everyday in some ways, it still hurts.  Little things can happen that remind me of something from her. Sometimes, it can even be good things. I can pet my cat and be thinking about missing getting to touch her as well. I can hear someone say something and remember that she used to say that as well. Any time I feel rejection in some way, rightly or wrongly, it brings it back and I think about how I have been rejected.

That’s something that makes divorce so much different than something like death. Divorce is an intentional rejection by someone that is treating you like a problem that has to be eliminated. It doesn’t happen by accident. Sometimes it is justified, but in my case, it wasn’t, and the irony is I had plenty of people, even priests and pastors and others telling me I could get a divorce at any time and it would be biblically based. One priest said a divorce was a godly option or I could remain a martyr in my marriage.

Loneliness is a big problem for me. That’s one more reason I want to move to the campus. I have friends, but very few of them are local, though it is nice for something like Final Fantasy XIV to have some people I can play it with. (If you play too, find me on there. My name is Phoenix Skywing.) It would be nice to have fellow men around who share my theological passions.

Of course, there’s also women to consider. A seminary could be a great place to find a devoted Christian woman who’s looking for her MRS degree. I had hoped that I would never be involved in this search again as it’s extremely difficult being on the spectrum and having to approach someone, but it looks like I am. Add in also that I am completely inept at knowing if someone is flirting with me or not.

It’s really odd to think I’m talking with my therapist about women I am interested in and getting advice. Normally, this seems to come up in most every weekly session. I still hate to this day going to bed at night and realizing that I am sleeping alone. I love having Shiro here with me, but it’s hard to think he’s stuck in one room at my parents’ house since they already have a cat and he only has me. He seems to tolerate my Mom some, and is slowly maybe starting to accept my Dad, but there’s no one he ultimately trusts but me.

There are some people who after a divorce seem to take a view that sex before marriage will be no big deal. I still hold the view that I don’t want it to happen, but having been married before and enjoyed that fruit, I also know what a great temptation it is for me. Fortunately, I have been able to avoid pornography still. That’s not about how awesome I am. There’s a great need to rely on the grace of God and His strength when I am weak.

However, as a guy, this is definitely a great want in my life. I find women to be absolutely beautiful and I don’t want to go through life alone. I also still wouldn’t mind being a Dad someday. Therefore, I do strive to be careful with women and have already set up some boundaries for when I am dating to help make temptation less likely to master me.

I have also become somewhat of an advocate for men going through divorce. One man was inspired to tell his story after I shared mine. I have also set up a Facebook group for Christian men going through divorce or who have gone through it or who are about to go through it.

It’s really sad divorce comes with such a stigma to it. We can think that if many churches today heard that Paul was coming back, they wouldn’t question him about coming behind the pulpit despite having been a murderer, but if news came out that Paul was a divorcee, then there would be serious questions as that had to be explained. I am not saying we should not take divorce seriously. We should. I am saying it is not the unpardonable sin.

Something that also stings in my case is knowing I was accused of being abusive by her. There are plenty of people who knew both of us who would tell you that this is not the case. As I said earlier, I have been told that I had grounds and I have tended to choose to not go into that due to my desire to not shame her. The news came out in September because we thought she had gone missing. A few people knew about it before I went public, but I had kept it secret for a reason.

I would be crazy to deny there was also some shame involved in that. I hate having to tell people I’m divorced. Divorce can be a scarlet letter that you wear.

At the same time, I try to not let it dominate my life. Many people can think about getting revenge on their exes. This is actually how Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series came about. She kept thinking of how she could kill her ex and then thought, “Why not turn it into a book series?” For me, I don’t really want that. There is a part of me that wants justice, but I want mercy also for her. I have decided personally that the best revenge is a life well-lived.

Even last night, I had a dream that we found out she had to go to the hospital again. This is just a dream, of course, so don’t take this as a fact, but I woke up from it and going back to sleep, I began praying for her again and her well-being. Can I say she has hurt me more than anyone else ever has? Yep. 100%. Still, I try to think of how I have treated my God and then I remember I too have rejected too many times one who loves me so much and I pray for mercy.

Going to work five days a week is a pain as well mainly because my job requires nothing that gives me any challenge intellectually, but is instead a lot of socializing. It’s one reason I am working on making Deeper Waters self-sustaining so that I can just do apologetics work full-time. Again, please consider becoming a donor to help make this so. The more free time I have, the more I can do the important things, like hopefully starting up the podcast again one day.

This is a season in my life. It’s a sad season, but it is still a season. It will pass. The thing is that when people say that, it doesn’t really help that much. You don’t want to have to wait for the season to end. You want it to end then.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of people have been in my corner. I haven’t really lost relationships. If anything, my pain has been something that has helped some other men, and for that, I am grateful. I have one really good friend who has gone down this road and has interacted with me regularly. He had someone do the same for him. I am helping someone else down this road now and hope to help others down it too.

Still, I can’t deny the pain is real. You have to choose to keep going. There were times early on when it was sometimes tempting to just quit. That was never the answer though, although everyone I understand thinks about it at some point. I have chosen to face my pain consistently, but never doubt that it is very much there.

Sometimes people will reach out and say things that I also know are meant to be supportive, but they have the exact opposite effect. Some of it can even be true, such as the importance of being thankful for what you have. I am and should be, but I also do acknowledge there is a real loss on my end and a real desire for other gifts, like a remarriage some day.

Honestly, if you haven’t been through a divorce, one of the best things you can do is just listen. I might just need to vent a bit at times and then I can come to my own conclusions. Naturally, pray as well.

Thanks to so many people who have been there for me. I hope many of you never have to go through the pain of divorce, justified or unjustified. For those wanting to know about seminary, just follow my Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter for updates.

Thank you again for everything.

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

 

 

God is in Control

Does God being in control help out? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw a friend on Facebook share the image below:

My friend was not happy with it. Now I’ll grant he could know the person behind the tweet better than I do. Maybe they do have a theology that denies that God is in control. Of course, we could also debate what it means for God to be in control. A Calvinist and an Arminian could both say that, but they would have different ideas on what control is.

Now my own approach to this at first was that I understood it. If someone is in the midst of a crisis, it is true that God is in control, but saying that God is in control might not be helpful. It’s true, but we are to speak the truth in love. If someone has a major crisis going on, God is in control, but that doesn’t always help the emotional pain they’re going in.

Of course, I think it is far better to have God in control than to have the alternative. However, it doesn’t always deal with the pain that someone is going through. It’s theology that is true and can be helpful in its own way, but it has to be delivered at the right time.

I have told men before that if you are ever the pastor of a church and a mother comes to you and has lost her teenage son in a car accident and is wondering why God let this happen, you had better not be a philosopher or an apologist at that moment. She may be asking that, but that is not what her heart is really wanting. She’s really wanting love and comfort at that time. There will be a time later to answer that question, but that time is not then.

Sometimes, it could even make it worse to hear that. The person could already have some anger at God, and I really believe all Christians have at times, and then to hear He is in control could lead them to see Him as responsible for whatever suffering they have. Some could think God directly caused it and will get angry or more depressed thinking they are being punished for something and they don’t know what.

Now is there a time to say this? Yes, but as in any case involving giving counsel and support, it needs to be earned. The friend who shared this has gone through suffering also and when we talked about divorce, he could relate to me and give comfort and if he ended a conversation with me on a good note and said “Remember, God is in control” at the end, I would have been responsive in a good way.

Right now, I can tell you I feel the pain of my divorce every day still. At this point, I know still that He is in control and that helps, but when I was at the start of it all, that’s not something that would have helped me to hear. What really was helpful was to have a friend instead. I don’t say this to down good theology. Good theology has been a blessing to me for decades now. However, in the midst of chaos, good theology has a harder time hitting home. That’s when you need a friend to be, as Gary Habermas tells me, “Your surrogate frontal lobe.”

Now as I said, some who know the person who tweeted the message better than I do might know things about them that would change my mind on their saying it, but I am speaking of the overall message. Speak the truth in love. Listen to the person first and where they are before giving them your theology.

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

Redemptive Suffering

What good can come from suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On Valentine’s Day, an old friend messaged me. He was going through a divorce. It was an odd way to start a Valentine’s Day, but I talked with him some that day and not just through messenger, but also through the phone service on the messenger app.

It really got me thinking again about how thankful I am that my divorce is being used for good. That does not mean I am thankful that it happened. That does not mean it was a good thing. I am not about to go and shout “Yay! Divorce!” It does though fulfill a wish I had had.

When I started going through the divorce, the main contact I had was my friend William who had gone through a divorce and was with me a lot in my marriage. He was able to relate to me in a lot of what I was going through. It would be phone calls, Facebook messages, texts, and since he lives in the city I do, meeting at restaurants or having me come over sometime.

How did he get through it? He had someone help him. Now I don’t want to deny that I got involved in DivorceCare which has been an immense help. The first thing I told my friend was to get into DivorceCare.

This is really important to me as it already tells me my divorce is being used for good. I remember one friend after I came out and told my story saying he finally had the courage to tell his story. I hope he’s busy helping someone else with this. Divorce is a great sting. It is a horrible D letter that you seem to carry over you.

This is one reason the problem of evil is never really convincing to me. I have seen evil be used for my benefit so many times. Many of us would say that the hardest times in our lives, looking back, were some of the best gifts that we had. In those times, we learned the most about life and how to live and how to love our fellow man.

Also, after these times, we look upon other present sufferings differently. We immediately realize that God is at work in our lives and shaping us for His glory and….

Nah. That’s not accurate at all. We gripe and complain as if we haven’t been through evil a thousand times before.

I won’t deny that the pain of my divorce is over. Last night, I got caught in an emotional tailwind and I am still recovering from it. It happens. It is a lot better than it was at the start and I am thankful that already, my suffering is being used to help my fellow men who are suffering. None of that is to deny women suffer, but I am better able to help men.

The biblical promise is also that any suffering I go through, it will be used for my good and hopefully, by extension, the good of others. That’s a great joy. When I talk to someone now who is going through divorce and just starting the journey, I can relate to them as I have walked that road and am still a fellow traveler on it.

I don’t know your suffering, but the same applies to you. No suffering will ever be wasted if you are in Christ. All will be redeemed. Try to take heart in that.

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

Merry Christmas. War is Starting

What really happened on Christmas? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve seen several people sharing lists of their least favorite Christmas songs and one common song on many lists is Merry Christmas: War is Over. I am not going to talk about that song, but I think it is mistaken. When we look at the original Christmas, it’s not war is over. We could say the message at the first Christmas was, “Merry Christmas: War is Starting.”

My favorite version of the Christmas story in Scripture is found in Revelation 12. We forget that this is really what happened. Jesus is born and then wise men come seeking him and King Herod wants him dead. No doubt, Herod was a twisted and evil man, but he know what the birth of the Messiah meant for him. This guy was to rule Israel. He was a threat.

We have our nativity scenes set up with gentle scenes and it’s all peaceful, but Jesus’s coming was a declaration of war. This was God making His way into the world in a new way in a way that He would be king. This was God coming in person.

The world was meant to never be the same. Herod was just the first challenger. The religious elite in Israel started to challenge Him as well. His followers, His body, would be persecuted by the Roman Empire. Later on Islam would come up and from them on, more and more forces have come up to persecute the church.

Jesus is a threat to people wherever He goes. A few months ago a friend shared that we often hear that Christianity needs to come to grips with the world. This person they shared then said it’s the exact opposite. The world needs to come to grips with Christianity.

When we celebrate Christianity, we don’t celebrate the end of a war. We celebrate the start of a war. We should also realize that we are to be continuing this war. We are to be spreading the message of the King and understand that that message comes with opposition.

It could be tempted to think that that means doom and gloom, but it doesn’t. We are meant to win this war. The gates of Hell will never stand against our side. Gates are defensive measures. The church has often put itself on the defense when we are really supposed to be on the offense.

On Christmas, we celebrate our king coming and leading the charge. He went and defeated the major enemy and left the rest of the battles for us to fight. Even then, we fight them by His power and not our own. We are meant to be conquerors.

This world is the world of King Jesus and He came into it on order to reclaim it We are meant to be ambassadors of good news and be rescuing those who are still believing that the enemy is in charge. The greatest battle has already been won. We are, at this point, dealing with left over battles and the last holdouts.

Christmas is a fun time, but remember it’s a time of victory and fighting the battle between good and evil. Jesus came to reclaim this world for God. Let’s make sure we are helping the cause.

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

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