Trust Can Be Hard

What do you do when it’s hard? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to be a faithful follower of Christ. Yesterday for me was one of those days. In the middle of playing a favorite online MMORPG, I had a number or rude comments made about my gaming ability that I can still remember. Normally, I would write those off fairly easily, but with other events going on in my life, it was partially Queen Jezebel’s sniper bullet to Elijah.

Fortunately, to help with that, a couple of good friends of mine assured me jerks exist everywhere even in the gaming community and they had encountered them as well. Most players are nicer than that, but sometimes a few bad apples spoil a bunch. I’m not talking about when friends get together and as friends play a game against each other and give friendly insults. I’m talking about real ones that take place.

Then as I go to bed last night, it was one of the hardest times I had getting to sleep in a long time. I’m still not sure how I did it. I found myself wrestling with various fears about my future, uncertainties, and temptations in the present. I look and wonder what my future really holds with so many what ifs. Already, I hear Gary Habermas now in my head telling me as he has before “What if it’s not?”

But trust can be hard sometimes. I use trust because I prefer that word to faith since I think trust is a better translation of faith. It’s really hard because I know through my own studies the goodness and love of God, and yet in my own life at the time, He doesn’t seem good and loving. My head knows he is, but when the anxiety is gripping you, that can be extremely hard to realize.

As I ponder it this morning, I wonder if sometimes our expectations can be too high. After all, a favorite prophecy of Jesus is Isaiah 53 where He is said to be a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Even if you don’t believe in Jesus, you can see in the Gospels the sadness of Jesus. Jesus is sorrowful over Jerusalem not repenting and weeps at the grave of Lazarus.

A passage I find most revealing is in the Garden before the crucifixion where Jesus is said to be overwhelmed with sorrow, even unto the point of death. That’s some intense sorrow. It’s not just Jesus. Paul himself had the sorrow as well. Consider Philippians 2:

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.

This is a letter about joy, but I wonder how many times we just read through this section. Paul is talking about anxiety and having sorrow upon sorrow. How many times was Paul lying in a jail cell and wondering about the church that he loved? He was in a position of sorrow and yet had more sorrow possibly to come.

And he was in a jail cell. Talk about being in a place of uncertainty. Paul certainly knew what this was like. The same thing happens in 2 Corinthians 1. This is a passage that mentions comfort so many times. However, right in the middle, what do you see?

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

And this morning for my morning reading I read Joshua. Many of us know the common saying in Joshua 1. “Be strong and courageous.”

You don’t need to say that to someone who is feeling strong and courageous.

I can’t help but think too often in Christianity we often think we can’t be candid so much with our struggles. Now I am not sharing everything here because I do save many struggles for people I do know personally, but the struggles are real, which is even harder when you’re involved in apologetics and try to be a man of reason as much as possible.

As someone told me last night, it’s not that time heals the wounds you have. It doesn’t. You just get more used to the terrain so you can better navigate through it. Nothing will erase the past after all. All I can do is hope fore the future.

There will also always be suffering and something I can turn to for depression. In turn, if I can turn to it, there will always be something good. I was trying last night to be thankful for things, but it was honestly difficult. It was one of the first nights I had had like that in a long time. They happen every now and then.

Why say this? Because I also think it’s important for you to know that in many ways, I’m just like you. Too often leaders like to act like they have it all together and they really don’t. I can’t help but wonder if this could have contributed to the fall of Ravi Zacharias or anyone else.

This is also something the church needs to improve on. We can be so busy in wanting to hold up a persona that really, the church is one of the last places people who are hurting really want to go to. Consider this. Sinners and people suffering were not afraid to approach Jesus. If they are afraid to approach us, we are not being like Jesus.

So right now, things are hard and there are a lot of struggles, but I am determined to make it through matters. I am dealing with fears and temptations, but so is everyone. We can look at Jesus and how He faced it and said “But He’s the Son of God.” Sure, but Son of the same God that we serve. He is just as much working in us and for us.

In the meantime, I do appreciate any prayers and encouragement. Many of you have no idea how far it goes. Thank you for all you do for me and Deeper Waters.

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

Angels and Death

What happens when someone dies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Final Fantasy X, when a person dies and doesn’t want to go to the realm of the dead, they interact with beings called pyreflies and become fiends. This is a common motif in many Japanese stories involving those who don’t want to go on and become a whole new creature. Many Christians might look at that and think that that is a creative story, but too many will believe something similar.

I say this because recently, my mother’s brother passed away. Today, there is to be a graveside service and many times, I can anticipate really bad thinking going on among people at Christian services about what happens when people die. One of the common beliefs is that people become angels.

This is not to say that the dead don’t remain in service to God in some way. There are many people who have NDEs who claim that they have encountered loved ones on the other side who have kept them from passing a boundary that would put them in eternity forever and saying it is not their time. I have no problem with such a thing happening.

However, when people die, they still remain being people. Humans are a species of a type that are meant to be embodied, although I think Scripture and NDEs both show that there is reality outside of the body. We are creatures that are naturally at home within the body.

Angels are beings that were created most likely at the start of creation and they are not meant to be embodied beings. They can assume a body if need be, though there is no evidence of demons doing so, but that is not how they naturally exist. Angels are by nature immaterial.

When a person dies, they do not become anything else. They remain fully human. It’s worth noting this is what happens with Jesus as well. Jesus to this day remains fully human as well as fully God.

Whenever we are in eternity, there will always be a distinction between humans and angels. Meanwhile with unbelievers, unbelievers do not become demons when they die. There will always be a distinction between unbelievers and demons.

Also, let’s dispense with ideas that are damaging to those left behind. Sometimes people say God needed another angel, which is especially damaging to children who lose a parent. After all, “Why did God have to take my Mommy like that?”

In the same way, people do not die because God needs them in His service in eternity. Why people die is part of the problem of evil and another question altogether that won’t be addressed here, but for now, I am focused on something else. While the question needs a good answer, let’s make sure at least we don’t give it a bad answer.

People have enough to grieve with when a loved one dies. We might want to say something comforting to those left behind, but let’s not say something that’s false and in the long run, won’t comfort, especially as I said, when children are concerned. Also, for those in apologetics, this is also not a time to discuss the problem of evil. Save it for when someone is not in the midst of the pain.

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

When Your Enemy Dies

How do you respond when your enemy dies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I remember several years ago I was on the program PALtalk and the news had just broke that Saddam Hussein’s sons had just been found and killed. Someone messaged me saying “Isn’t this such great news?!” I told them it was great that they would no longer be inflicting evil on the Earth, but as a Christian, it was also sad because they passed into eternity without Christ forever.

Even earlier when I first started doing apologetics, I remember being in a chat room on AOL with several young-earth creationists (And in saying this I realize not all YECs are like this, thank God) when the news came that Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary biologist had died. Immediately, there were people chatting about what it must be like for him in Hell right now. I remember also the same happening with some Reformed people (and again, thank God not all are like that), when a Pope had died and how he had “busted Hell wide open.”

I understand that for some people directly involved, it is good for them to know justice has been served, but many of us are not in that position. In the cases I described above, I found myself appalled at what I was saying. If you really think someone is in Hell, why should you celebrate? It’s not like you avoid it because you’re just so awesome.

So yesterday I finished listening to a book on my Amazon Tap and was playing a game where I couldn’t pause so I just switched to talk radio. Then I hear about the legacy of Rush Limbaugh. Legacy? That’s what you say when someone has died. I ask Alexa if that had happened and yes, that’s the news I get immediately.

Now as a conservative, I found the news saddening, but what didn’t surprise me was the images that I saw going on on Twitter after that. I have been just as appalled. You might want to make a statement about the character of your opponent, but those who celebrate in that matter are really revealing more about themselves.

What really amazes me is also that these are the people who often talk about being the people of love and compassion and tolerance and unity and being so opposed to any kind of hate. I would think that for all the time preaching this gospel, it might be practiced. It looks like it’s not really the case.

In a time like this also, we should also remember that eventually, death is going to come for all of us unless the return of Christ occurs first. Will we be ready? What are we doing with our lives right now?

If we’re Christians, we should definitely not be celebrating in this way. We should remember that this is a sign that our world is fallen. Also, keep in mind as much as you might not like it as a Christian, Rush Limbaugh and many others did say that they were Christians and if they were right, well, you get to spend eternity with them.

If you are hearing that and saying “I hope not! I don’t want to spend eternity with them!” then it is definitely you that has the problem. Eternity is to be where forgiveness and love definitely reign supreme. On a blog post I wrote years ago asking if your murderer will be in Heaven, someone in the comments said that right now in eternity, Stephen and Paul are together.

That’s really something to think about.

And yes, in eternity if forgiveness has taken place, people will be with those who murdered either them or their loved ones. Skeptics will be tempted to see that and think that that must be an awful place then. No. It’s a wonderful place because even something as horrendous as murder will be forgiven. We could also say if the criminal has repented, someone will be with their rapist, and there will be love and forgiveness.

All my secularist friends who believe in the goodness of man should be willing to see this as a good thing as well as man will be able to love someone who has hurt them so greatly. If you’re a Christian, realize that however you might not care about that person, you are called to love your enemy. You are called to want what is good for them.

During the Trump administration, if you had asked me who I wanted to meet if I got the chance to meet one famous person, I would have said Donald Trump. Some might say I’m a conservative so of course I would say that. Not so fast. I was asked that just recently and said still “The president” and when it was Obama in office, it was still “The president.” Why no matter who it was? Because I would want to go and talk to them about Jesus and let the message of Jesus impact them whoever it is, even if I thought that person was already a Christian.

To those celebrating, you’re revealing more about yourself and the people that you would hope to persuade are being given more reason to not listen to you. If this is the kind of person your side produces, then I want nothing of it. The side that produces those who love even their enemies is the one I wish to be on and I hope when my personal enemies die, that I will more respond the appropriate way as well.

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

Is God’s Goodness Always Good?

What happens when good doesn’t seem good? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christians hold that God is good. We also hold that there is real evil in the world. It’s not an illusion. It actually happens. There are things in this world that are unjustifiably evil.

Let’s understand if skeptics see a problem here. I understand logically things work out, but emotionally, evil is a real problem. I’m wanting today to write about when the idea of the goodness of God is hard.

It’s easy to say God is good when things are going fine in our lives. That’s not a problem. However, as soon as we start having problems that are serious, many of us start to wonder about the goodness of God. Besides, isn’t it so obvious what should be done in this situation? Surely God who is all good and all loving and knows all would agree with what needs to be done and do what we ask. Right?

Not necessarily.

That’s when the goodness of God gets really difficult. If anything, it becomes more painful to believe in the goodness of God. You have to accept that what is happening is not necessarily good, as evil is never good, but that God is not doing anything wrong in allowing this evil to occur, whatever it is.

Do you still believe in the goodness of God?

If you don’t, you don’t really believe in the goodness of God. You believe in it only if God is doing what you think is good for you. God is subject to what you think. If you do believe in His goodness, then you believe in it regardless. That is the real test of belief in God’s goodness.

This is what happens in the book of Job. The book of Job is not about the problem of evil. You can look high and low and you will not find the answer to why good people suffer. It is also not God making a bet on a whim. It is asking why does Job serve God?

Does Job serve God because life is going good for Him and He gets all the goodies? Well, congratulations. Anyone can serve under those conditions. If you were a Christian and one of the wealthiest people if not the wealthiest in the world at the time and had a good family on top of that, it would be really easy to talk about the goodness of God.

Can you talk about it when things are rough?

What if Job lost everything? Would he still serve God? If he doesn’t, then he only serves God for the goodies. If he does, then he serves God because of who God is and it’s the right thing to do.

This is not to say Job can’t question and complain. He does. So do we. We can do that also. The Psalms are full of such cases. You are allowed to talk to God. He’s a big God. He can take it. You’re still supposed to trust Him in it.

C.S. Lewis said years ago this is the kind of Christian that puts the cause of evil in a panic. If a soldier looks up for a God who he feels abandoned by, asks why, and still obeys, then that soldier will serve through anything. That is a position we are all to take.

God’s goodness can be hard, but it is the best hope that we have. When things are rough, God is still good. He is still in charge and it is His story, not yours. Trust the author to work it out.

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

Colonoscopy Thoughts

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

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

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

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

So what did I learn from this event?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Plunge: God and the Pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving When You’re Not Thankful

How do you celebrate a holiday when things are rough? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A few weeks ago, I did a podcast with the Mentionables and we talked about depression. It was largely about mental illness, but depression came up. I brought up that when the holiday season comes around, for a lot of people, it’s a happy time, but for some people, it can be rough.

For me, Thanksgiving has never really been my favorite holiday. Just picture being socially awkward due to Aspergers and then also because of that, having a dislike for all of the food served there. I know on my end, it’s really hard when people tell me to eat a lot of turkey. Yeah. Sorry. I don’t play that game.

Honestly, looking back, only two Thanksgivings stand out to me with fond memories. The first was in 1998. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time had just come out. I also had the flu. It wasn’t faked at all. I never faked sickness. I had the flu. I couldn’t be around people at all, so I stayed in my room at home the whole night trying to get through the Forest Temple.

That was an awesome Thanksgiving. It might have been horrible if it had been the Water Temple, but it was the Forest one. That one is not the nightmare the Water one is.

The second one was the first Thanksgiving I had with Allie. We were dating and not even engaged yet and she invited me to be with her family. I’m sure that wasn’t the favorite Thanksgiving of my family since I was away spending it with a girl I was dating, but I remember it fondly.

If the holiday season is here though and you’re not into it because of your own suffering, it’s really understandable. Sometimes, holidays remind us of what is different. It can be really painful seeing other people happy. It can be painful hearing so many people say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas or Happy Thanksgiving.

We know they mean well. They don’t know what’s going on in your life if they say that. If you’re in that position this year, try to remember that these people really do mean well.

The thing is that you are still supposed to be thankful. A couple of years ago or so, someone told me to be thankful for something when you get to the end of the day. If it has been a horrible day, at least be thankful that the day is over.

Also, remember if this is your first time going through a hard holiday season, you’re not alone. Other people have walked this path before. It could be your first time going through it, but it’s been traveled before. There are plenty of people who have walked down it who could be willing to help you as you walk it.

It’s often said that misery loves company. There’s a reason for that. That misery of other people can remind you that you’re not alone. This is a great benefit of groups like Celebrate Recovery. You can go there and know that you are not alone.

That’s something else to be thankful for then. You’re not truly alone.

If you also know someone going through a rough holiday season or think they could be, reach out to them. Give that waiter at the restaurant an extra tip just in case. Give a great tip to the guy who helps you carry your groceries out to your car. Give your Uber driver or deliverer a little extra.

If these people don’t serve you that way, give them a gift card to a favorite restaurant of theirs. If they have children, get some gifts for the children. Even just putting some money in the mail and having it sent that way could help and if you want to do so anonymously, that’s fine too.

If you’ve got a lot more money, do more. I remember the year someone gave us a Nintendo Switch. I still enjoy it and it gave me a lot of hope. Go and secretly pay someone’s electric bill perhaps or take care of their rent or go by them groceries.

By the way, if you’re a Christian, you’re supposed to show this kind of kindness anyway. If they are fellow believers, they are your brothers and sisters. Would you want your physical family going without over the holidays? Then don’t let it be with your spiritual family either.

Not only that, you will really give them something to be thankful for this year.

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

Pets and Suffering

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

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

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

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

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

And for what?

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

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

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

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

“Honey. Wake up. The baby needs you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet we still love.

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

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

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

Maybe it’s best to just accept it.

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

You Know Not When

When will your time come? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are warnings in the New Testament that you know not at what time your Lord will come. That is true. On the other hand, so is the reverse. You know not at what time you will come to the Lord.

Yesterday after driving home from the grocery store after church, I get the news that Alex Trebek has died. I am a gameshow junkie and I grew up watching Jeopardy. I was quite saddened to hear the news. I had last heard his fight against cancer was going well, but I guess not that well. It was a surprise, but it was not totally unexpected. When you have cancer at that level, you can prepare for it.

Then last night I’m browsing through Facebook to see what people are talking about and I see someone talk about the death of Ben Arbour. Ben was a friend of mine on Facebook, but sadly, I never got to know him well. Now I won’t get to this side of eternity.

So what did he die from? Did he have cancer? Did he have COVID? What was it?

None of those. He and his wife were hit by a drag racer. Their car burst into flames and the Arbours and other driver were killed.

The last post Ben Arbour had made on his Facebook page was something about how he was proud of his dad. For him, he probably anticipated life would go on as normal. It wouldn’t. They left behind four children who are aged from 10 to 16.

In this story, everyone thought they would be going about their lives. The drag racer though the same thing. At one moment, he’s in an illegal race just trying to go faster than another driver. In the next moment, his ultimate race is over and now there’s no going back. We can hope he was prepared for eternity.

Ben Arbour was also in ministry. That’s no exception to the rule. If you’re doing ministry, you don’t get a free pass for God to protect you from suffering in your life or even an untimely death. Also, whoever you are, you are not needed by God. You are wanted and desired, but God can bring about His plans without you. God is not up in Heaven wondering how things are going to turn out now that the Arbours are gone. That is not to insult them at all. The same could be said if the same event happened to me. It is to humble us. To get to be used by God is a privilege.

We can imagine looking back and wishing we had done things differently. Did we need to spend all that time on Facebook? Did we really have to watch that game on TV? Did we really have to get to that level in that video game? I’m not saying these activities are wrong, but they need to be put in their proper perspective. We should enjoy our lives, but the purpose of our life is not just amusement.

But here are some things likely that won’t be regretted.

The wife won’t say, “I really regret spending that time making love to my husband. I wish I had spent that time better.”

The parent won’t say, “I really regret going to my child’s baseball game. I could have spent that time better.”

The adult child won’t say, “I really regret making those phone calls to my Mom just to talk with her. I could have spent that time better.”

We won’t regret time spent in prayer or money given to a good charity. We won’t regret doing pure acts of love just for doing them. We won’t regret being thankful for what is happening in our day. We will wish we had forgiven more, listened more, and loved more.

None of us is entitled. None of us is owed anything. The only exception is if God explicitly promised you something, much like He promised Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Christ. Since that is true, all that God gives you is a gift. Be thankful. Love what you have and celebrate that.

You know not what hour your Lord will come. Neither do you know at what hour you will come to the Lord. Be ready anyway.

Prayers to the family of Alex Trebek, the Arbours, and yes, the drag racer who died as well.

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

Do You Want To Get Well?

Do you really want healing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we read John 5, we read the story about a man at the pool of Bethesda wanting to be healed by being put in the water. Jesus asks him if he wants to get well. The man says he wants to, but every time the water starts up, someone gets in before him. Jesus heals him at that point.

Now I know skeptical readers of my blog will think that event never happened, but that doesn’t matter right now. I want to focus on something else. That question Jesus asks can seem surprising. Do you want to get well? Of course, he wants to get well! Right?

Maybe not.

Sometimes, we talk about the problem of evil and personal suffering with sickness of some kind, be it mental or physical. Now most of us would say we want to get better if we have something, but do we really want to get better? The reality is that sometimes we do not want to get better. Some people base an identity around their sickness.

“Whoa, Nick. Hold on a second. I have an email from you and in your email you say you’re an Aspie. Aren’t you identifying with your condition?”

Yes. I am. I also would not take a cure if I were offered one because I think the condition has a lot of strengths to it that I don’t want to risk losing. However, I don’t speak about Aspergers saying “Woe is me!” Instead, I speak about it saying, “Yes. I have this condition, but I choose to overcome the deficiencies and live a successful life.”

Not all people do that.

Sometimes it has been said that happiness is a choice, but do we really want to be happy? If we do, we need to realize that means letting our guard down many times and not having control of our lives given to others who don’t deserve that control. Some people don’t really want that.

In some ways, when we do that, we are holding the universe hostage, or at least trying to. “I won’t be happy unless XYZ is going on in my life.” Make it whatever you want. It could be a great marriage, a great career, great kids, your sex life, the health of yourself or others, or any combination thereof.

Perhaps we should really ask what does it take to make us happy? If we are Christians, do we truly need anything besides Jesus Christ for our joy? Now when I say that, this isn’t to say that other aspects of life shouldn’t bring us joy or can’t. Many of the items mentioned above are great for bringing joy. However, picture any of them and ask “If you lost that and you still had Jesus, could you have joy?”

This isn’t to say you wouldn’t mourn what you lost. There is a place for sadness and mourning. We are told to weep and mourn with those who weep and mourn. We’re not told to just say “Cheer up and get over it.” There are real realities to mourn. Jesus Himself wept at the graveside of Lazarus, even knowing what He was going to do.

But if we say that we refuse happiness unless we have anything else in our lives, then we are putting ourselves in our own prison. If Jesus asked us “Do you want to be well?” our answer could very well be, “No.” It might seem like a simple question, but sometimes those are the best ones to start with. If you are not having joy in your life right now, well why not?

Whatever it is that you’re lacking in your mind, do you have to have it? I am not saying it wouldn’t be nice if you did, but is it essential for your joy? If it isn’t, then what is? If it is, then you are making your joy dependent on that and do you really want to do that?

This doesn’t mean also you try this path alone. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out a good therapist and good friends. Recovery from some matters is not easy. If it is physical health, you can still have joy. My friend, Ed Komoszewski, has a virus that has been rampaging his body for years and causes great pain, but talking to him you’d never know it. He’s got a lot of joy. It’s not easy, but he has it.

If we complain about evil, let’s make sure it’s not of our own making. Suffering has very little to do with what actually happens to you. How you respond to it personally makes up most of the suffering that you go through. What happens to you is usually not in your control. What you do in response usually is.

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