Posts Tagged ‘Love’

Thoughts for Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2015

What makes this holiday so special? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Admittedly, I wasn’t always a fan of Valentine’s Day. This was especially so back when I would have joined in with others and said “Singles Awareness Day.” As one can imagine, that has changed. At the same time, I understand the longings of those who are single and are not happy being single and want to be married. There are times in the church we look down on people who are single as if there was something wrong with them. (Was there something wrong with Paul and Jesus?) Some people just don’t want to marry. God bless them. Some do, and for those who do, we should not look down on them but help them be the best future husband or wife they can be and perhaps help introduce them to someone who would be a great spouse for them. After all, my wife and I were introduced to one another by a mutual friend.

And I want to stress to singles wanting to marry that a real relationship is what you want. A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an event called cuddlecon, which will involve numerous people getting together and cuddling. As I pointed out to him, nothing beats the reality. There is something very special about snuggling up with your loved one perhaps to watch a movie at home or just lying in bed at night. It is possible to cuddle together without sex for instance and still have it be completely intimate. (Although the man sure won’t complain if it leads to sex.)

In fact, just this morning, when I woke up I got my Bible after a prayer and had started reading when I felt Allie’s arm go around me some. I was surprised by this and said the first thing that came to my mind honestly. “Have a bad dream?” “No, Just wanted to.” It’s been hours later and I still remember that event so ladies, keep in mind your husband doesn’t always need the full deal for support and encouragement. Just a little bit can keep him going. (And in fact, it could be to your advantage to tease him a little bit, though remember if you tease, you must eventually deliver.)

Love like this has been one of the most life-changing events for me and I am sure many people have noticed changes that I have not. My work in ministry I think has improved as I have someone who affirms me constantly. I can safely say that the more I am affirmed, the better I am able to do what I do. I had no idea when I got married that the things that mean so much to me now would in fact mean that much to me.

On the other hand, there’s also the notion of sacrifice. I find myself giving and giving and giving and if I give so much that I bring a bit of joy into Allie’s life and see her truly happy, then I celebrate with that. It’s also found in doing things that are just good manners. It means opening the car door for her. It means pulling out the chair for her and not sitting down until she sits down. It means (GASP!) helping out with housework at times.

Why do it? Why do you give everything to your spouse? The reality is they give everything to you. Through covenant, they have committed their lives to you. Through physicality in the sexual union, they give their whole bodies to you. They make a vow to not see any other person in a romantic light and not be loving in that way with anyone else. They are to run from even the thought of that.

And that running can be hard at times. This I think is especially so for guys who are visually oriented. Of course, women see bodies on men they can desire, but men are more notorious for this. We are more like microwaves. Turn us on and we are ready to go and it doesn’t take much to turn us on. That is a great desire in us and it must be controlled and directed to the only one in our lives who truly deserves it, our wife.

Women give also. Women make themselves entirely vulnerable to men, who are usually more powerful than they are, at least physically. If you’re also the husband of a wife who you’ve had a child with, consider what she has gone through for you. Oh of course women can long to be mothers and want that, but that does not mean they enjoy the process. There is a period of up to nine months of vomiting, strange food cravings, pain, emotional mood swings, etc. Then of course, there’s the actual childbirth itself. I have told Allie before that I am sure if we ever get to that point, it will be incredibly difficult for me. I mean there will be all the crying, moaning, groaning, screaming, yelling, and on top of that, I’m sure she’ll be making a lot of noises too.

Women are the ones who often leave their own families and come to form a new relationship. In the case of Allie and I, many of you know that Allie was practically fresh our of high school when I found her and I had been already living on my own and living with a roommate both for some time and then Allie and I fell for each other. Her parents had no objections whatsoever to the relationship and when I asked them for her hand in marriage (Men. If possible, always do this) they happily consented. Yet I had to take her away from her family. She had to get used to a new identity and a new way of living that was totally foreign to her.

One way she got used to a new identity was when we got her a new cell phone after we married. She was leaving a recording for her voice mail message and said “Hi. You’ve reached Allie Licona.” I caught her on it instantly and then she realized what she said. Her name is Peters now after all. It’s not that the Licona family doesn’t matter. Of course it does. It’s that she is part of a new family unit.

A new family unit. Isn’t that something magical about the whole thing? You see, true love is creative, and one thing it creates is new family units. Even if a family for whatever reason does not have children, there is still a new family unit involved. These are two people that share no blood relation to each other, but have a relation that could be tighter than any blood relation.

That love transforms and yes, love is transforming. It makes you into something else and something for the better. The Apostle was right. Love builds up. That’s what is to happen when marriage is done best. Both parties are to work to sacrifice for the other. It’s fine to know what makes you happy, but don’t seek your happiness first. Seek the happiness of your spouse first. Odd thing. If both of you are doing that, and both of you knows what makes the other happy, well guess what. You’ll both be happy.

And remember, like all other loves on this Earth, marital love in all the ways its expressed is meant to be a shadow of what is to come. Don’t make your spouse an idol. Only God deserves the highest place. For you men, especially those of you who are planning a very romantic Valentine’s Evening, remember that what you experience even in the bedroom together is meant to be just a tiny clue of what is coming. You can picture God saying “If you think this is so awesome, wait until you’re in my presence.”

So this year, yes, I do celebrate Valentine’s Day. I hope you will be as well and even if you are not married, celebrate where you are in life and give thanks. God can use you where you are just as much as He can use married people were they are.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

This Is A Man’s World

November 18, 2014

What goes on in the life of men? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’m a member of a number of groups on Facebook. One is the Christian Apologetics Alliance whose main web page can be found here. The other group is a group I will not link to, but it is one for Christian men who are married, engaged, dating, or just really hoping to be married someday so we can learn how to love our wives as Christ loved the church.

I think my writing here is important for both groups. For the apologetics aspect, part of good argumentation is not just believing right, but living right, though that living starts with right beliefs, and it certainly can be difficult in our day and age to live right in this world, particularly in a period of great sexual license.

As blog readers know, I am writing this from a perspective of a Christian man, though it could just as well apply to anyone who happens to think ideas included in the Christian ethic, such as sexual fidelity within marriage and reserving sex for marriage, are good ideas worthy to be upheld. My method of handling this could be different from yours, but we agree on the idea.

What I will be describing is what it’s like for a man in this world. Some female readers could say “That’s the male side, but you have no idea what a female side is like and how temptation is for us!” That’s true. That’s why I’m not covering that side, although I would say I think I have a good idea on how the world views women and unfortunately, women can often allow themselves to be treated that way.

At the start, it’s no secret that men think about sex and think about it a lot. Does that mean we’re always actively focused on it? No. But it is always on the backburner. It is always looming there in the shadows and most anything can bring it out again immediately. Many women don’t really have a problem with doing something to attract a man or turn a man on. It’s usually pretty simple.

And that puts men in a tough situation.

In our world, there are women all around us who are wanting to do just that. Not only that, there are women who are not wanting to do that, but inevitably do so, and that’s not even just women who dress in a way that’s necessarily drawing. It could be that they just possess enough natural beauty on their own.

One illustration I’ve told men about what it is like in our world is a time that I was walking in a mall by myself. Heading towards me on my left was a female. I don’t mean she was heading towards me as in directly aiming at me, but was going my way. In order to avoid any temptation, I decided I’d to the look away that most men know about. I’ll just look to my right instead.

Which happened to be where Victoria’s Secret was….

And that’s the kind of situation a man can find himself in.

In a man’s world, when a man sees a woman, it’s quite difficult to not notice immediately that she’s a woman. We do have to work on making sure our thoughts do not wander where they shouldn’t. It is the natural male tendency I think sadly to objectify women in some way and treat them as just bodies. That’s part of the nature of the flesh and something we have to work on, and that’s something also that marriage helps you work on when done right.

It can be even more difficult especially in the way women are used in advertising. Sex sells. Many women know it and advertisers know it.

To go back to being at the mall, I was there again last Sunday. I’m looking at various tables that have been set up in an open area and there is one I pass for a spa. Perhaps I can look into something that my Mrs. might really appreciate. I think my wife is a beautiful woman, but hey, we guys all know that a lady loves to get something like a makeover.

Instead, I find a picture of a girl lying in an alluring pose and wearing a top that was leaving very very little to imagination.

You know what? We men who wish to be faithful to our wives? We hate to see something like that. We really do. We want our minds to be in only one place, but in our culture, we are constantly presented with challenges. Again, I am not denying women can face similar challenges, but this is a perspective from men.

Marriage really helps a man out in this area who is someone who burns. Still, there can also be other temptations. I tell men who are single that once you get married and you go on your honeymoon with your wife, everything changes. You never look at anything else the same way again. The way you think and align your priorities will change drastically. If you’re a man reading this and you’re single and waiting for marriage, don’t say you understand. You don’t.

Oh there are several nice things you can do before you marry. which I see as steps 1-8 on the twelve steps of intimacy. My wife and I did kiss on our first date. In fact, since I was visiting her at her parents house, we have a funny story that we were in the living room on the couch watching Beauty and the Beast. This room was adjacent to the kitchen. Her parents and her brother’s bedroom was upstairs.

We have been told that her brother was wanting to come down and go into the kitchen and get a snack. Her parents told her “Nick and Allie are downstairs on the couch and they’re cuddling. You might not want to go down there.” Of course, we weren’t doing anything immoral. Had we been, her parents would have been taking care of the problem. We can say we never saw her brother come down the whole night.

When we drove together, I would drive with one hand and hold her hand with the other. We would walk arm in arm wherever we went. If we pulled up to a red light, it was a good chance to kiss each other some more before the light turned green. In fact, I can safely say it was a time in my life when I was very thankful for red lights and bad traffic.

I encourage young men to enjoy that when they can before marriage instead of having the idea of the first kiss at the altar. We are physical creatures and we should not deny the physical entirely. Besides, I think that can be a difficult switch especially for the women to make. Just save steps 9 through 12 for the wedding.

You see, as good as all those physical pleasures are, and they certainly are, nothing beats what comes on the wedding night and that changes everything. Some women can think that a man could have a hard time adjusting and going from this not being allowed to this suddenly being allowed.

I really don’t think that’s a problem for men.

But also, this opens us up for temptation. Again, it’s not the fault of our wives! It’s the fault of our sinful nature! Once you have this great experience, a man can be tempted to wonder what else he’s missing elsewhere. Women can be the great unknown for us and the sexual union with the woman is in many ways, the ultimate validation of our masculinity for us. Women. There is no louder way for you to tell your man that he is your man than this.

And this sadly is why pornography is such a draw for men.

Again, I know there are women who struggle with pornography, but I’m talking about the men. For the man, pornography can give the feeling of being a man without the work of being a man. You don’t have to work to approach a real woman and learn how to romance and love her and sacrifice for her. Nope. You have a woman who is willing to give you everything and demand no effort on your part other than just showing up.

And yes, many a man will do that just for the sensation of masculinity that he gets. How deep does the desire for sex run with a man? For a humorous look, consider this clip from Steve Harvey’s edition of the Family Feud. Something to consider. Every woman who is asked gets it wrong! Every time a man is asked without coaching from the women, he gets it right.

When the women are asked, they say what they would like to see the man do such as cook and clean. When the men are asked, they say to the extent of what this means to them. Now do I mean to say a loving husband will go out and kill a man just to get sex? No. What I mean is that a man will use such strong language because the desire is that strong.

And women, please realize this. Your man most often desperately wants to be the man for you. He wants to get to adore you and he wants to be yours exclusively. It is hard in a man’s world where many a woman can be locked into the visual memory banks forever.

But to get back to the men, I suspect one reason many struggle with pornography who are married can also be a lack of being grateful. I have been thinking about this more and more lately. (Not because I struggle with internet porn. I don’t.) I think it’s a privilege I have that I get to kiss my wife. I get to drive everywhere I go with her. I get to sleep in the same bed with her every night. Throughout the day, I can pull her close and just hold her. I can run my fingers through her hair. I can do so much. Note I haven’t even included sex yet! All of these things are things I am immensely grateful for!

And these are things to give thanks for in themselves. Yet when it comes to sexuality, that is something incredible to give thanks for. If your wife is faithful, she is sharing something that she shares only with you. She is doing something for you that she doesn’t do for anyone else. You also get the privilege of getting to love her in a way no one else does. She loves you in a way that no one else does.

Give thanks. Follow Proverbs 5. Draw water from your own well. Why be enchanted by another? God gave you a good gift. Enjoy it and celebrate it.

For the women, please understand how important this is. Now some of you might think “Well I can show a bit more affection to him when he starts helping me around the house.”

You know, he should do his part to help you. That’s absolutely right.

But to make a statement like that is really selfish. Marriage is about giving 100% of yourself to the other and there’s no clause in Scripture that says “You are exempted from this if your spouse does not give 100%.” In fact, I would challenge you in this. If you are willing to give to your husband and let him know he’s your man, then when you say “Sweetie. Could you please vacuum for me today?”, he’ll be running to get the vacuum.

Also, sometimes, some women, and even some men, can struggle in this area due to past situations. (Yes. There are men who struggle) Please do get counseling. Your husband will thank you for it if you do.

So have I been too hard on the women with that statement about being selfish?

Then let’s turn it on the men.

Some of you might say “I’d help out around the house if she’d show me a bit more affection!”

You’re being just as selfish.

In fact, your position could be even worse. You’re meant to lead your household biblically. Start being a leader. Part of that is being loving and giving. After all, your role model is Christ. Do you think Christ stops showing love to His church even when His church isn’t loving Him back? He doesn’t. Then you have no excuse. You are to go and do what you can to help your wife out and by the way, when you start doing this, you might find she’s also more willing to open up. Even if she isn’t, you are required to give 100% and you have no exemption clause.

But women, if this role is met in a man’s life, you can be guaranteed you will have a happy happy hubby.

But men, regardless of what happens, it is up to you to manage your thought life. There is no justification for pornography. None. Some of you can think it might spice up your marriage. It won’t. The best way to increase your love for your wife is to do just that. Love her. No other woman belongs in your bedroom, not even a virtual one. Make it your aim that all your dreams and fantasies and such are about your wife.

If you stray men, you can say others contributed perhaps to what you went through, but the ultimate blame comes with you. Sure. That other woman shouldn’t have tempted you to have an affair, but it is your fault if you are the one who does it. You do not accidentally have an affair. It is a decision on your part to break the vows that you made to your wife. If you are watching pornography, you are having a virtual affair. You need to repent and make it right. If that includes getting a filter on your computer such as one from XXXChurch, then do it. If that means counseling, do it. After your relationship with God, your marriage is the most important relationship you have.

Life in a man’s world is not easy. Again, I am not commenting on it in a woman’s world. I can’t speak to that. I am just saying what it is like for the men, at least from my perspective.

But life like this is livable and faithfulness is possible. It will start with faithfulness to Christ. Be faithful to Him, and you will be faithful to your wife as well. That I think applies to women as well. If you are being faithful to Christ, you will be faithful to your husband. Also, if any of you are unfaithful to the other, you are not being faithful to Christ.

Please take that seriously and remember, I am one often convicting myself trying to remind myself how serious I need to take matters too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Listening To Bids

November 14, 2014

Are we missing hearing something that our spouses are trying to tell us? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My pastor preached an excellent sermon on marriage Sunday. You know it’s incredible when you do a sermon on Ephesians 5 and the passage that starts with wives submitting to husbands and yet, the pastor manages to leave the church in one piece. After the sermon ended, Allie and I went out to get some lunch together and discussed the sermon, mainly what submission looks like and what sacrifice looks like.

As I’ve thought about it this week, it has occurred to me that someone once told me about how in marriage, we often make bids. What they meant by this is that the person who is making the bid is asking for one thing, but in reality, they’re really asking for something greater than the simple request that they’re asking.

Allie and I can have many different interests. For instance, we can experience this when it comes time for the Super Bowl and it’s insisted that we have to watch it around here.

Why she wants to I still do not understand….

Meanwhile, on my end, a big event would be getting to go to an apologetics conference. I’m sure she understands this more than I do as to why I like it so much, but still, it just doesn’t have the same draw for her.

Each time we get this request, we need to realize there is something much deeper being asked. Of course, there are times we can’t fulfill the request. There are many times I would like to be able to buy Allie something, and I just can’t do it. Of course, there are times I want her to do something and she can’t. Husbands and wives need to understand this in each other.

So to get to the request, let’s use music as an example. Allie and I have incredibly different tastes in music and for me, most of her stuff I just cannot get into at all. Yet lately, I realized I am way too hard on it. If I listen and find I don’t like it, Allie is fine with that. I am under no obligation to like what she likes. On the other hand, if I dismiss it even before hearing it, then I am rejecting her in a sense. She is showing me something she likes because she is seeking to connect with me.

How does this work in reverse? For those of us who are husbands, one of our main drives is physical affection, especially in the area of sex. This is an area that is defining to us and women can often think that this is all men think about. As I said when teaching on marriage at a church class lately, this is nonsense because we men think about many other things like…

ummm….

uhhh….

errr….

Give me a few on this one. Alright?

When a husband makes a request of his wife be it verbal or non-verbal for affection, he’s wanting something more than physical pleasure. He’s wanting that connection. The reality is in their own way, husbands and wives want the same thing. They want to be connected. Now let’s take this idea and see where else we go wrong with it.

Let’s pick on the husbands first.

The husbands could say “Well she needs to know how much this means to me and if she really cares about me, she’ll be physically affectionate with me more often.”

Now of course, you can explain how much this means to you and why it matters so much, but don’t you see that at this point you’re pointing to her as the problem? One piece of advice in marriage I have tried to follow is that when problems arise, try to look in the mirror first. See if there is something that you are doing wrong. If you have to, ask a friend for advice.

Okay. Your wife isn’t being responsive to you. Could it be you’re doing something wrong? Consider the man who comes home from work and sits down on his chair, the first thing he asks his wife is to bring him dinner, and he eats it while watching TV and not paying attention to his wife. Then when they go to bed in the evening, he wants her to want to make love to him.

Because, you know, being treated like just a servant when she gets home has just turned her on so much.

You see, your wife all day has been cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, doing laundry, and any number of things for you while you’ve been away. Why has she been doing this? She’s been doing it so you won’t have to do it. When you come in, she would appreciate knowing how much what she does is appreciated and you connecting with her before you connect with the television.

Now I’m sure the wives are happy to hear this, but let’s turn the tables around.

Yeah. Your husband might be being insensitive here, but he’s been out working all day. For all you know, his boss got after him today without any real reason. He’s bored silly in a job he can’t stand where he finds himself tremendously underpaid and when he gets home, he wants to forget about everything and the last thing he wants to hear is “How was your day?”

The mistake here is to think however that one spouse is in the right. In reality, both need to seek to change as much as they can.

Both also need to realize that when each one withdraws from the other, and both of them are guilty of it, it only pushes the other spouse to withdraw even further. Part of marriage you find is it really is about learning to give to the other. Husbands. You want that sexual connection with your wife? Then you need to learn to connect to her emotionally. Find the way that lets her know that she is your treasure. Remember, your actions will speak louder than words. You can speak easily about all the things you’d do for her. It means a lot more when you actually do them. Believe it or not, this might mean you actually do some things around the house even when you get home. Sacrifice first to meet her needs.

So wives, you want that emotional connection with your husbands? Then consider submitting more to his advances on you. You can say and do everything else in the world, but if you don’t meet the primary longing in your husband, it won’t really matter. (And if there is a difficulty with this due to past events, I highly encourage counseling and a good husband will be supportive and understanding in this.) You can say you don’t feel like it, but chances are your husband doesn’t feel like talking about his day or doing housework when he gets home.

In fact, my pastor when giving this sermon gave this claim that is quite amazing. Try living like this for two days and see what happens. See if there’s a change. Let the husband be sacrificial to his wife for two days and see if she has a major change. Let the wife live submissively to her husband for two days and see if he has a major change.

In the end, husbands and wives who love each other both want the same end. They both want to connect with their spouse. They just see that differently. The tragedy is we’re often so busy blaming the other that we forget to look at our own selves, and there are always ways we can be improving.

And once again, I am not a master at this by any means, but like many of you spouses out there, I’m working on it. One benefit of writing something like this out is you hope to not only help others, but realize you say something that you can hold your own self accountable to if need be.

Treasure the spouse that God gave you and do all that you can to show them in the way that speaks loudest to them your great love for them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Ephesians 5:22 A Whip?

November 10, 2014

Are too many husbands misusing this verse? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, our pastor gave a wonderful sermon on the house rules in Ephesians 5 starting with verse 22. If you don’t have your Bibles right there, it’s the verse that tells wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. Too many husbands have used this passage as if it was a whip in order to get their wives to do what they want. “You are to submit! The Bible says a wife is to submit to her husband!”

Now to be sure, I am one who thinks it is a husband’s role to lead and yes, I do think that wives should submit to their husbands, but I also don’t think husbands should be tyrants. If a husband believes that he is the king of his castle, then he owes it to his wife that he end up treating her like a queen.

As our pastor pointed out, often when house rules where written in the ancient world, wives were told what to do with their husbands. Children were told what to do with their fathers. Slaves were told what to do with their masters. Very rarely if ever were husbands told what they were supposed to do.

Yet guess which person Paul speaks at the most in this passage….

You see, wives have one command here. They are to submit to their husbands.

What are husbands told?

Love your wives as Christ loved the church so you can make her holy and cleansed and to present her as radiant before God.

Love her as your own body, which includes feeding and caring for her.

Leave your father and move and cling to her.

More is said to the husbands and there are more reasons why these things are said.

Naturally, the passage ends with pointing out that a husband is to love his wife and a wife is to respect her husband. After all, love matters most to a woman and respect to a man.

Our pastor brought out that husbands who use Ephesians 5:22 as a whip are really forgetting something. instead of focusing so much on what it means to have a wife submit to you if you’re a husband, try focusing more on what it means for you to sacrifice to your wife and love her as Christ loved the church.

Wives meanwhile can say “Well maybe when he gives me some loving, he’ll find he gets some respect.” Of course, husbands can have a similar attitude, but it is just as wrong. If you focus constantly on what the other person needs to do for you, you’re only going to have it end in pain. Focus on what you can do for the other.

Also, at this point, before anyone says anything, if you want to charge me with hypocrisy on this point, I say guilty as charged. I do not claim to be a perfect husband and this is something I still work on. It’s so much easier when things go wrong to focus on the other person instead of taking a long and hard look at yourself. Yet if I only waited until I was doing things perfectly in marriage to speak, I would never say anything.

I also think it’s important to look at why it is your spouse does something for you or with you. What is their intent? Do you really want to say anything negative about their intent. For instance, it can be hard for me when Allie wants to play some of her music for me. We have completely different tastes in music. I need to do what I can to realize she’s trying to share with me something she enjoys. Of course, there’s no obligation that I enjoy it. Chances are, I won’t, but I need to appreciate her attempts to share something that interests me. (And yes, as I write this I’m really kicking myself for not recognizing this earlier.)

Some people have a view that marriage is supposed to be 50/50. It’s not. It’s supposed to be 100/100. Each person is to give all that they can to the relationship. If you find something really matters to your spouse, make that a goal to do that. Allie for instance has realized if she mentions something she really likes, that I am prone to be plugging it into my memory and looking on Amazon as soon as I can. (And besides, her love language is gifts)

In fact, for us, yesterday’s sermon ended with Allie and I going out for lunch and just discussing what love and respect and sacrifice and submission looked like. They’re requests that I hope we can put into practice.

And again, for Christian men who are married or dating or engaged or anything like that, if you want to be a good husband now or in the future and you’re on Facebook, find me and let me know. I do have a group just for Christian men to learn how to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

Marriage is something that takes work, and it’s easy to put all the work on the other person instead of on yourself. Yet for each of us, that is where we must begin. You can influence the other person, but the only one you directly change is yourself. Get started today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: In Search of Moral Knowledge

June 25, 2014

What do I think of R. Scott Smith’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I wish to thank IVP for providing a copy of this book for a review first off. I find the moral argument to be a highly interesting argument. Now my own variation of it is that I prefer to use the fourth way of Aquinas and have it be the argument from goodness of which morality is a subsection of that. Yet insofar as it goes, the moral argument works fine and Smith has given an impressive tour de force on this.

Smith starts off with the history of how we got to this point in understanding morality today. He starts with the Bible and what is found in both testaments. He then goes on to look at the work of Plato and Aristotle and takes us through the medieval period and then through many of the great philosophers of the Enlightenment period and beyond and even goes up to interacting with postmodern looks at morality. At this point, there can be no doubt that Smith has done his research and done it well.

Smith also seeks to be as fair as he can with those whom he is dialoguing with. He admits that he has made errors in understanding past opponents at times and tries to read their works in light of all that they are saying. Smith indeed shows impressive scholarship in the field. At this point, I do think it’s important to let the reader know that I think he will need more than a layman’s understanding of the field to get the most out of this book.

Smith in the end concludes that naturalistic theories not only do not account for moral knowledge, but that they do not account for any knowledge whatsoever. This is true in whatever case he looks at as each position begs certain questions. There is also the problem that many of them deny essences and for Smith, a physicalist explanation of the nature of man is just incapable of being able to provide knowledge. We have to have essences of some sort.

Smith then roots the knowledge that we have in God. The book ends in the last chapter with a more apologetic approach looking at various issues such as the case for the resurrection of Jesus and the problem of evil. No doubt, each of these is brief and I would have liked to have seen even more in some areas at least in terms of other works that were cited since these would be out of the field that Smith is normally writing in which is fine. There were a few points on each section that I would disagree with, but they do not detract overall as Smith does provide excellent sources still in each case, though as I said I would have liked still more.

One main problem I would have liked to have addressed that rarely is is that I do not often see a definition of good given. It is as if we assume when we get together and debate what is good and what is evil that we all know what these terms really mean. In fact, this is the first question I usually raise when I debate moral issues with someone. I agree with Smith of course that love and justice are good and that murder, rape, and torturing babies for fun is wrong. Yet when I say “X is good” what do I mean?

Still, in the end, I think Smith’s work is an excellent one that will certainly leave much food for thought. For anyone who is wanting to deal with the moral argument, mark this down as essential reading.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Greatest Of These Is Love

July 27, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to finish up our series of looking at 1 Corinthians 13. I hope that it has been helpful to you.

Paul tells us in the last verse that three remain. Those are faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. Why is love the greatest?

Faith, contrary to what some think, is not blind faith. It is trust given to that which has been shown to be reliable, and being shown to be reliable means that it is based on evidence of some sort. Not all evidence is the same and some evidence is better than other evidence, but it is still evidence. Christians are not called to believe in Jesus blindly. It is fortunately landing in the right place, but it is not a virtue to be paraded about as some Christians do.

However, even with that faith, there is still trust. It can be easy to sign a doctrinal statement at a church, but it is a whole lot harder to live it. We all believe that God is the supreme judge when we sign those statements, but when it comes to making that a reality in our lives, our struggle with sin shows that it has not fully become a reality to us.

That is where we need more trust in what has been said and the ability to act on it. James is of course right when he says that faith without works is dead. What good is it to say that you trust that God is the supreme judge, but then you don’t live accordingly? Even the demons know that He is, and they tremble. Should not we?

Of course, when we stand before God, we will not need that faith anymore. We will know as we are known.

What about hope? There are two things specifically that Christians hope for and these are connected. The first is the vision of God which I also believe is part of the return of Christ for when Christ returns, we shall see God. The second is the resurrection. Even if we are alive when Christ returns, we will get new bodies.

None of these are hopes in the sense that we wish they would happen, like one might hope to meet their future spouse or one might hope to win the lottery. These hopes are treated as realities coming that we eagerly anticipate. Of course, once they happen at the end, there will be no hope as there will be no faith, for we will have what we have hoped for.

What about love? Well love is that which will remain throughout all eternity as love is of the nature of God. God invites us to enter into that love for all eternity. However, as we close this series, I ask that you keep in mind that Paul introduced this chapter talking about the most excellent way. Love is not just an object of thought, but a way of life. So the question is, are we treating it not just as a lofty idea, but a way of life? Are we living love?

Only you can answer for yourself.

Through The Looking Glass

July 26, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 where we will be further looking at the view of love from the apostle Paul. We’re almost through this chapter and already I have two more series in mind at least at this point.

Paul talks about looking through a mirror at this point and this is something the Corinthians would have known about as their city was famous for their mirrors. Paul tells us that we look through a mirror dimly at this point. We are not really seeing what is there to the best of our ability. While the mirrors were good back then after all, they were not as good as they could be and it would be rare to find a Christian who could afford one of a good quality.

The idea is that we will always have partial knowledge here and so it is with love. We will not know what love is fully in this lifetime. As beautifully as Paul has described it, he has only scratched the surface. We rightfully find it incredibly awesome when we read what he said, but we must remember that even the biblically inspired author in holy writ cannot fully do justice to his topic.

Well if we will not know it here, when and where will we know it? Paul tells us that we shall know as we are known and that is when we are face to face. Paul does not have to spell out what he means by this. The wonder of prophets like Moses were that they supposedly spoke to God face to face. For Paul, all Christians will have what Moses had and in fact will have even better. This means that when we read about what happened to Moses and others with fantastic experiences, we should realize that we will have the most fantastic experience one day of seeing God.

And this is in fact the highest good of man. Man was designed to know God. The highest knowledge one can think about is the knowledge of God. This is not just knowing about what God does and has done and will do. This is about knowing Him as He is. Unfortunately, for many of us today we only look at God in the capacity of what He does or more importantly to us, how He makes us feel. Too many of our worship services are about how we feel about God rather than about God himself. In this way, worship can be more self-directed at times than God-directed. Now there is a time to talk about our response to God, but this is after we have talked about who He is.

But as was said in an earlier blog, if this is the way that we will end, with the knowledge of God, we might as well start preparing for that now. Too many churches are filled with too many people, including the pastor, who have never taken the God question seriously. I frankly wish more Christians would be tempted with atheism because at least I can see that they’re taking the question seriously and trying to determine what difference it would mean to their worldview if God was removed.

We’re nearly through. What remains in the end? Well next time Paul will tell us and I will then wrap up our look at 1 Corinthians 13.

Childish Ways

July 25, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. For those who are interested, the Mrs. and I had a very nice anniversary. We stayed at the Hampton Inn we stayed at on our wedding night and we had excellent treatment from them we greatly appreciate. Now that I’m back here, I’ll be continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 with talking about childish thinking.

It has been said that men never really grow up. Their toys just changed. If you look at professional sports, that’s certainly an example. A little boy who develops a talent with hitting a ball with a stick can eventually become a sports icon playing major league baseball. Is that what Paul is speaking against?

If you walk into arcades, though few are around, you will often find grown men in there playing games still. Indeed, many owners of video game consoles are adults. We happen to own quite a few around here. Why? We like to play games. Is this what Paul is speaking about?

When we are younger, we often have highly active imaginations. We feel out many situations and like to dream big and think about doing something great for the world. We are often told later on that we will grow up and get out of that phase and come to realize that we just need to accept our place in life. Is this what Paul is talking about?

No. Paul is talking about a mode of thinking more than anything else. He is not talking about something that is emotional. He is talking about something that is entirely rational. He is not telling us to abandon childlikeness as we should all be like little children in our wonder and trust of God. He is telling us instead to abandon childishness, and we all recognize the attitudes of childishness, and especially can usually recognize them in ourselves. We often still have this idea that reality ought always to go our way.

Paul gives a similar warning in 1 Corinthians 14:20. The Corinthians were acting like children in many ways with their attitudes and their constant one-upmanship and chasing after something grand for them rather than seeking that which is for the good of the body, a lesson we all need to learn. The question is not what good can the church do for you, although the church should support its own, but what good you can do for the church.

We should all have the wonder of children, but we should all seek to constantly be improving our thinking. When we think about God for instance, are we thinking just about what He does for us, or are we thinking about what we can do for Him and who He is? Much of our worship today seems to be about us rather than about God. We can often define a good worship service as one where we leave feeling good, when in reality, it could be some of the best worship services are the ones where we leave feeling miserable because we’ve been convicted of our sin and know we need to do better.

Christians should be about good thinking. It’s a shame that in our world today, the church has often been seen as abandoning rationality and indeed, many churches pride themselves on that. The more you can live by blind faith rather than actually believing something for a reason, the better you are.

I actually am of the opinion that if it seems many people today even outside the church have crazy ideas and are abandoning reason, it’s because the church did it first. Much like we led the way with many universities, we are also leading the way with many ignorances because we allowed childish thinking to come in.

Let’s follow Paul’s words and be adult in our thinking. It’s the loving thing to do for future generations.

Love Never Fails

July 21, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re currently going through 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing what the apostle Paul has to say about love. Tonight, we are going to discuss the topic of “Love Never Fails.”

Love is permanent. Whatever else is going on in the world, love will always be there. Why? Love is of the nature of God and the nature of God will never change or pass away. The apostle points to this side of love in distinction to other things that will pass away, things that the Corinthians were priding themselves on.

Prophecies. Prophecy was one thing Paul was proud of as well. Paul told the Corinthians to seek prophecy and that it was the greatest of gifts, but yet, prophecy will pass away. When humanity stands before God and sees Him as He is, there will be no more need of prophets to act as conduits between God and man. Man will have direct experience of God. In that day, prophecy will cease.

Tongues? The same principle applies. If tongues are a prayer language meant to allow the person to pray to God in an unknown tongue, there will be no need of that as the person will communicate with God on a whole new level. If tongues are a known language meant for the spreading of the gospel, there will also be no need of that as there will be no spreading of the gospel message in Heaven. All will know about the goodness and grace of God immediately.

What about knowledge? Well obviously in a way, knowledge will not cease since God is omniscient and we will know God, but knowledge of things that are temporary and changing will have a problem. We will know things not by knowing the objects, but rather by knowing God. Imagine how it will be when the day comes and you see your neighbor through God. No wonder there will be such immense love between people in Heaven.

In contrast to all of these, love itself will not fade. It will last forever. The community of Heaven will be one of love. People there will have a great love for one another. It has been said that the six activities that are done in Heaven are knowing and loving God, knowing and loving ourselves, and knowing and loving our neighbor. If these sound boring to you, then the problem is with you as not realizing how vastly interesting God is, you are, or your neighbor is.

The challenge to the Corinthian church would apply to us today. If this is how we are to be in the end as a community of love, then why are we not living it out now? Do our churches really come across as places of love or places of condemnation? The Corinthians had the error of being too condoning, such as allowing people to be drunk at the Communion services, suing one another, and a man marrying his father’s wife. Our problem would be that we are too strict at times. The people of the world often don’t want to come to church because they’re a bunch of judgmental hypocrites and frankly, we’ve deserved that a number of times.

Our command is to love one another, the way Jesus’s disciples were to be recognized even. Are we doing that? Do we need to practice what Paul says?

Love Always Perseveres

July 20, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, we’ve been going through the chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing what we can learn about the subject of love. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at the topic of perseverance.

As I sat down to write this, I thought about the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Now I’m not an expert on Calvinism I admit, but from what I gather, it is the idea that those who are saints will indeed persevere in their faith. Despite what circumstances come their way, if they are saved, they will endure to the end.

Whether that is true or not is irrelevant at this point. When we think about the doctrine, we think about it in the sense of salvation, but do we think about it in the sense of practical living. We know if we persevere to the end, then that shows that we are of the elect. However, perhaps we should take persevering to the end to also mean that we will be loving to the end.

Ever been angry at God? I mean really upset with Him? Now I fear we might have some types who see themselves as super holy and will say “Nope! Not me! I’ve always loved God intensely!” Well if that’s you, good for you. The rest of this then is written for myself and the rest of us mere ordinary Christians who have had anger with God.

What do you do? If you’re in ministry like myself, do you say “Forget you! I’m done with this!” and go off on your own way? Note I did not ask if you’re not tempted to do that. The temptation to walk away in ministry can be very tempting at times. The question is what do you do?

If you’re like me, chances are you find somehow, there is something within you that makes you want to serve Him anyway. It’s not because you really feel like it at the time, but because you know that you have a devotion to do so anyway and you’re going to whether you feel like it or not.

Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in a talk of his tells about being in a classroom once in a Christian school, probably a Seminary, and hearing the professor say “Marriage is hard work.” He told his classmate sitting next to him that he didn’t like that and the classmate said “Yeah. I know what you mean. Why don’t you say something?”

So Ravi raised his hand and stood up and the professor said “Yes Zacharias?”

“I heard you say that marriage is hard work. I don’t appreciate that.”

“Are you married Zacharias?”

“No.”

“Shut up. Sit down. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

When Ravi got married, he realized his professor was right. Marriage is hard work.

Marriage is hard because it’s two people and let’s face it, we each tend to look out for #1, and your #1 gets in the way of my #1. The two people don’t always see eye to eye and yet have a commitment. Sometimes, they won’t feel like it. Sometimes, it’ll be hard. Sometimes, the other person will be someone you don’t want to be with at that moment, but you are to love anyway. I hear of guys who say their wives are driving them crazy.

For me personally, I try to look at myself first every time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I am at fault every time, but why not start there? What can I do to better love my wife. It also means however that now or in the future, no matter what I am feeling, I am to love my wife. That is not a feeling. That is an action. It may or may not result in feelings, but it is to be done nonetheless.

And that love will persevere. If you are not persevering, perhaps you need to ask yourself if you are really loving. This does not mean that the love in marriage and the love of God will not get difficult. Do you persevere through something you enjoy? I do not sit down and say “I’ll have to persevere through watching all of these Smallville episodes.” You don’t endure through good books. You endure through bad ones. If we’re off to do something we enjoy we jokingly say “Well I guess I have to put myself through this suffering.” No. Perseverance comes through hard things.

Love goes through hard things. That’s love. The question is, “Do the benefits outweigh the costs?”

And in the case of ministry and marriage, I will say “Yes. Absolutely.”