The War on Pouting

just-a-guy-pouting-250Pouting, moaning, whining, complaining.

Often considered the weakness of children, it is alive and well in men. Particularly this man.

This weakness would have gone on unaddressed but for an excellent Ask Pastor John called Make War on Pouting. In it, Pastor John challenges us to fight this pathetic childish sin.

What, pouting, a sin?

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent,children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Phil 2:14,15

Yes, gentlemen, a sin.

Think about what whining says about God. We look to the floor and pout because we think God should have given us a better wife or house or kids or car or job. Far from being content in all circumstances (Phil 4:11), we prefer to pout.

How pathetic is that? Grown men. Sons of the supremely majestic God of the Universe, looking at the floor because someone hurt their feelings or interrupted their video game.

You see, I am experienced pouter. I arrive home and my wife doesn’t greet me at the door. What, after all I’ve worked, no greeting! Not only that, but a child has just had diarrhea in his diaper (this may be a reason for the failed greeting) and another child is potentially going to kill the fish. I clearly deserve better than this. I work hard. God should have given me a more grateful wife, better behaved children, and more resilient fish.

Of course, I don’t think all of those thoughts that explicitly, but I believe them. What I really do is rescue the fish first, then do the minimum necessary to help after that. After all, I was treated poorly. No greeting at the door. Am I considering that my poor wife has been working with the diarrhea/fish assassinating children all day? Could the children’s behavior problems be more related to Dad’s behavior than their own?

Do I love my family like Jesus does? Do I sacrifice my comforts to care for them in this difficult time?

Well, I would, if they treated me better (pouting look).

To be clear, I am not talking about real grief. Jesus cried at times about real suffering including his own. No, this pouting is what we men do with the annoyances of life. It is not the flood, it is the drip.

The fact is, pouting is very unloving. It says that rather than being the one who sacrifices for my family, I am the one who takes what I need from my family and screw them if they don’t pay up with enough gratitude. This is not love.

To love them is to walk in the door and be so full of God’s approval, mercy, kindness, and joy, the I spill that joy into my home. It should drip off of me to redeem a room. I should not be a sucking hole of joy in my home, I should be a God saturated conduit of joy filling my home with it. The opposite of pouting is joy.

Pray for me that I can be that kind of husband and dad.

-Chip

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Immortal Horrors or Everlasting Splendors

CS-Lewis-2_2735921b

C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis was an amazing man. I was recently listening to an Ask Pastor John episode discussing C. S. Lewis and John Piper describes Lewis as a Romantic Rationalist. He is one of the few people to be wholly rational and yet wholly able to feel and experience the world. Lewis speaks frequently of joy in a very methodical and clear way.

While I was listening, Lewis again blew me away:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” -C. S. Lewis

Nations, art, and culture are mortal, but I am not.

This is profound. The creatures I pass at work are in their most humble condition today. They don’t even recognize the grandeur that being created in the image of God gives them. Far from people being boring or annoying, God has made them magnificent creatures: either “immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

And those amazing creatures will one day look toward Heaven and see a God so immeasurably beyond what we can imagine that they too will bow to him: either in fear or in joy.

I don’t view people this way. I often see them as nuisances or annoying.  Even my own children can become burdensome to me. I don’t see them as fellow heirs of an eternal kingdom with me, I often see them as barriers to a good night’s sleep.

Shame on me.

So don’t be as foolish as I am. Look at the people close to you and realize that they are delightful beings with a grandeur reflecting and eclipsed by the God who made them in his image.

He must be a great God indeed.

-Chip

A Lord Vicegrim Christmas

the-nativity-storyThe following is an excerpt from The Messiah Report by the demon Lord Vicegrim who was the Intelligence Director for The Messiah Project. 

We had been following the pregnancy for months and it was clear that the Enemy was in Heaven. The Enemy’s Spirit (which no one has ever reported seeing) was obviously moving, and the Enemy’s Son was inside this…vermin. It is impossible to describe the repugnance of a spirit, a pure spirit, becoming mere crude matter. Yet there he was, shining out from inside that female. There was no denying that this was a member of the Trinity.

As if we needed more evidence, when we looked toward Heaven, the Enemy’s Son was missing. He was just gone. Only the Enemy was visible. So he was missing from Heaven and he was there inside this female.

We had the Prophecy Division working night and day to determine what events would happen next and to see if there was any way to derail them. It was too late that we realized that the punishing census we had orchestrated using Augustus Caesar was going to direct the female toward Bethlehem with her mate. Every effort, of course, was made to prevent their trip, but that failed.

The Enemy was especially preventive of us causing weather disasters or earthquakes to delay their arrival. We had recommended to High Lord Massblood that we should arrange for all the housing in the Bethlehem region to be filled with the hope of somehow killing the infant when he was born.

The Archangel Gabriel was moving so quickly with messages and commands that we had a great deal of difficulty gaining intelligence on him. He had not been this active in centuries so there was great concern in the Lowerarchy that the Enemy was planning something devious. We had to account for all possibilities.

As the male and female approached Bethlehem, she began to go into labor. We were prevented by the Enemy from causing any problems with the delivery, but because they had not arrived yet, we hoped that luck was on our side. Maybe we could arrange for delivery in the open field. It was getting toward evening and the Gynecology Division felt that she was going to have a fast labor.

When the male arrived in Bethlehem and, as prepared, there was no space available for them.  We hoped against hope that the child would be born in the elements. After over an hour of checking, we were working with his demons to cause him to despair. When he finally arrived at one inn, the innkeeper said there was some room in a cramped stable in the back. This was unfortunate. There was some blankets available and the innkeeper and his wife were both servants of the Enemy. Again the Enemy had thwarted us.

While we were distracted by the ongoing labor, one of our scouts came rushing into our Bethlehem Headquarters. Three divisions of Angelic Warriors were marching toward Bethlehem. This was unforseen. Several questioned whether this was the end. That the baby was merely a distraction to keep us busy while the Angelic Armies prepared to annihilate us.

The Great Lord was present and he said that, in his judgement, this was not the plan. The Enemy was up to something else. As the divisions approached, they stopped just outside of Bethlehem. The Great Lord, which his keen eyesight, saw both Gabriel and Michael in the lead. Surely this was a trap.

We sent scouts to see what they were doing (better to say, we threatened scouts with death if they didn’t go). Then Gabriel came out of the Angelic Army and stood on a hilltop a few miles from the town. He was obviously speaking with someone, but we couldn’t see who.

Suddenly, the whole army began to SING! Waves of delighted and joyous singing crashed over the whole regions. How disgusting? The Enemy has an army which would be nearly sufficient to wipe us out and instead, he makes them into a Choir. How childish? I hate how he toys with us. They sang for about 15 minutes (it was later that we learn that the whole display was seen by about a dozen shepherds). How juvenile! The Enemy brought the glories of Heaven to some stupid sheep-herders.

The Angelic Army then turned and left, singing all the way back to Heaven. Needless to say, we were perplexed by their actions. We returned our attention to the infant. The female was in hard labor and then delivered a healthy male child.

The child opened its mouth and cried. The shockwave in the spiritual world was deafening. It was like the concussion from a physical explosion as the child, who was also the creator of the universe, cried.

We saw the immense power that the child possessed. The magnificent power that the Enemy wields was now in the hands of a human infant.

We all fled. Even the Great Lord. This child could crush us all with a thought. We did not want to become the play-things of a child-God. For the first time in all history, a whole village of vermin did not have a single tempter in it. It was several weeks before the bravest of us would return.

Thus began the life of the Enemy’s Son is putrid flesh. The Great Lord help us all.

-Lord Vicegrim

Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 23, The Great Smog

the great smogFrom February 5-9, 1952, London had a problem. A prolonged period of windless conditions caused the cities to be covered in a thick suffocating smog. The source was not mysterious, the many coal-burning factories in the area along with personal coal use to heat houses was the source. But for those several days, the wind didn’t take it away.

The problems it caused were numerous. Public transport ground to a halt as driving became quite dangerous except in the subway system. Ambulances stopped running. Film screenings and shows were canceled because even the indoor air quality was so poor that people couldn’t see the stage. In some places, visibility dropped to as low as three feet.

That would mean that I couldn’t see my toes.

The people of London were frustrated by this, but not alarmed. Smogs had happened before and they dealt with it. Smog masks were used by those who could afford them and small charges were placed on railway lines to warn everyone that a train was coming when it hit the charge and they would explode. This was the price of progress and London was willing to pay it.

What London had no prepared for was the days following the smog. The death rate in London skyrocketed. Modern estimates are that about 12,000 people were killed by the smog (4,000 is the low estimate, 25,000 is the high one). That got people’s attention. Much of today’s environmental movement get its spark from those few days in London.

We live in a similar situation today. Pornography is so endemic that it is considered normal. Possibly a little shameful, but it is a private matter. Many people have spoken against it, but the vast majority don’t feel it is a big enough problem to address.

That is until we see the growing consequences of the smog. Today more American children will be born outside of marriage than within it. Japan is facing a demographic crisis because porn is easier to acquire than sex, so there are many young people giving up sex and certainly giving up on the idea of children. American men are increasingly averse to taking responsibility for their family.

We are in the midst of a great smog today and the negative effects of this smog are about to take center stage. It will be our responsibility as Christian men to stand up and call it what it is. The world will not know that children are delightful unless we show them. Young men will not know it is good to serve our wives unless we show them. Young women will settle for marrying losers unless we show them that they should expect more from men. God will not be shown as deeply satisfying unless we stand as a breath of fresh air in a dying, congested world.

-Chip

Getting What I Deserve

you-deserve-it-abc-tv-showNext time you watch the Super Bowl, count the number of times that the commercials use the word ‘deserve’. No doubt, you will deserve a car, a soft drink, a burger, and a beer according to the advertisers. As easy as it would be to blame the advertisers for this, we must remember that they only say this because we believe it.

We feel that we are owed a car, a soft drink, a burger, and a beer. Why do we deserve it?

I am very cautious with the word deserve. It speaks of the just rewards we get for our actions. We assume that because we are good people that we are entitled to good rewards. God owes us. He should give us what we deserve.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-31

While I have not murdered anyone it is possible that from time to time that I have been insolent, boastful, disobedient to parents, and covetous. Paul seems to think that far from deserving a beer, I deserve to die. And not just to die.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. Romans 2:6-11

The last line there, “For God shows no partiality” is a way of saying God is fair. He is giving us what we deserve. Notice as well what happens “who are self-seeking”, they will get what they deserve: wrath and fury.

What we deserve is Hell! We deserve for the eternal and holy God to punish us.

I don’t want what I deserve.

Many of the sins we commit come from this sense of entitlement. How much complaining, coveting, and doubting God’s goodness do we do because we don’t really believe that we deserve Hell? Imagine the gratitude we would feel if we fully believe we deserved Hell and then found a God who gave us Jesus, pizza, snowflakes, galaxies, friends, air conditioning, and Frank Sinatra music. We would be overflowing with gratitude for a God who did not curse us in our sin but instead pulled out his full creativity to think of ways to bless us.

The fact is that Jesus got what I deserve (which was not a Lexus). He took what i deserved and he gave me what he deserved (which is better than a Lexus). The God of the Universe looked at me and said, “I let my son suffer for him.” Why would he do this? I’m not really sure.

But I don’t want what I deserve.

-Chip

Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 8 Marriage

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 22nd Year

Mudpot,

No, No, No! Why is it that every day you keep trying to crush your patient in a single stroke? That technique has gone through extensive testing and found to be risky at best. Crushing your victim with temptation only works if they don’t turn to the Enemy for help. As it is, your patient is primed to do just that. Calm down, slow down, and be ready for the long game.

An old mentor of mine once told me, “Vicegrim, outlast your vermin. If they win today, make them win a thousand tomorrows and you have a real chance of getting them.” This is excellent advice for you Mudpot and I am giving it to you despite how repulsed I am by you. Please do not interpret this as fatherly affection. It’s not.

Well, not that my system is cleared a bit, on to your review.

The Good

There is precious little that went well this year. The only positive development is that you have gotten him into one of our most promising seminaries. We have worked for centuries to infiltrate the seminaries as they are key battlegrounds for us. This was working well until several churches started opening their own. It is easier to corrupt an ongoing institution than it is to destroy these upstart seminaries.

One of the strange qualities of the vermin is their ability to compartmentalize. They can honestly go to a school for teaching their pastors and then not be that interested in the church. As if education about the Enemy has nothing to do with relationship with other vermin. The Enemy is crafty, but I think he may have gotten a little to artistic when he built the vermin that way.

Fortunately for us, your patient is willing go to one of our institutions. We have worked hard at this school to emphasize “helping people” to the point that they don’t care that much about the Enemy’s Book. Remember the five Anything Buts, we have really gotten them so obsessed with “loving people” (by that I mean, not making people angry) that they are afraid to challenge sin. It really is so delightful to watch the mental gymnastics the staff goes through to even pretend they are honoring the Enemy’s teaching.

That said Mudpot, be careful. The Enemy’s Spirit is very, very subtle. There are still classes on the Enemy’s Book and verses on the walls. This is treacherous territory. You never know when the Enemy’s Spirit will spring a new trap for you. Be vigilant.

The Bad

As I mentioned in my last annual review, almost every tempter in the world can pull off getting their vermin to fornicate. Seriously, much better the 90%. Yet here we are, just a few weeks before your patient’s wedding and he has still not fornicated. Mudpot, I may roast you for this.

It’s NOT HARD. You get the female to wear something revealing. You get the male to think he is strong enough to be alone with her. You put them in a private place and let hormones do their thing. Many tempters don’t even need to tempt. They just wait and watch. This works Mudpot! I have seen terrible tempters pull this minimal requirement off. What kind of lazy, fat, putrid, ineffective, vermin loving, moron are you!!!

I….I….I’m speechless. How am I ever going to become a Lord again if you…

I have taken a short break from writing. My secretary, Vice-Count Penwort, will be writing the rest as I dictate. It seems in my rage I have turned myself into a roach and I am in no mood to change back.

Let me summarize by saying that if (I mean when) this goes badly and I am blamed for your incompetence, I will personally rip your into little pieces and burn them in my fireplace. You are an idiot and you’re taking me down with you.

We need to prepare for his upcoming wedding. It is likely too late, but anything you can do to derail this wedding, do it. She is too solid in the Enemy’s camp (I checked with her tempter) and she will be an asset to your patient against us. How could you let this happen?

So we need to be prepared for him to be married. Because they have not fornicated, you will need to change your focus. As soon as they are married, we need to do whatever it takes to prevent sexual relations. The Enemy has built into the vermin a special and deep bond that develops between sexual pairs (pardon me while I vomit). This bond can be deepened between them should they enjoy sex with each other. So if you can prevent sexual encounters, do it.

But what can be more fruitful than preventing sex is to poison it. This is dangerous territory Mudpot, but we must go there. We must make his sexual relationship with his wife like the one he has with those pornographic images. Make it solely for his enjoyment. If both partners can be solely pursuing their own enjoyment, we can poison it and make sure that neither enjoy it.

Generally, the male is the key. They are more easily persuaded to be  self-centered. One good trick to try is to get him to try to get the female to do those ridiculous things that he learned in the pornographic images. Help him to feel entitled to sexual enjoyments that she does not enjoy. Make sex as burdensome for the female as possible. This can be a spike to drive between them.

It is key that he never suspects that the pornography is not normal. A cursory review of the sexual literature that the humans have would show him that the pornography was extreme in every way. Don’t ever let him suspect it or he may discover what a fool he is.

Finally, make sex a right. There is a verse in the Enemy’s book that says that married vermin should have regular sex. Make sure he interprets that to mean that they will have sex whenever he wants. Make sure he ignores the verses about serving and loving her. If you can do this, sex will become a chore for the female very quickly.

By the way, if I didn’t have enough reasons to despise you, how is it that your patient is not using pornography any more. Again, every other tempter on the planet seems to pull this off except for you. There are a growing number of tempters with female patients who are succeeding where you are failing. You really are my punishment from the Enemy. As if the Hell he threatens isn’t frightening enough, I have to deal with you in the mean time.

You have been fostering a fear of commitment and responsibility for many years. Make sure to  extend this to being a terror at the idea of having infant vermin. Separate sex and reproduction from each other as if they are wholly unrelated. I have seen males paralyzed with fear and sadness over the prospect of an infant they created. Their tempters were so effective at separating sex and infants that the males are honestly surprised and afraid. Make this happen with your patient.

The other main area to focus on is degrading trust between them. Of course, the best way to do this is to make him untrustworthy. But even if he is acting honorably in most situations, make sure they have miscommunications that are interpreted as lacking trust. Sometimes it is good enough to simply have the appearance of distrust. Drive a wedge between them and slowly expand. Hear me now, I mean do it very slowly.

Mudpot, be patient. Though it looks dark today, it is only through patience that this High Risk will be brought under control. I feel pretty hopeless right now but when I think long and hard about what you can do if you will just be patient….

Nevermind. It is hopeless.

-Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 22, A Tough God

wwjd-whipOne of the myths that we believe today is that God is a bit of a wimp. Since every picture we see of Jesus he has long flowing hair and has a gentle, peaceful expression in his eye, clearly he couldn’t handle himself in a fight. In fact, all he does all day is look thoughtfully into people’s eyes and tell them how much God loves them, right?

Well, not if you read Matthew 23. Jesus walks into church while the pastors are there and publicly says this:

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. Matthew 23:13-15

Let’s briefly review, he said they were hypocrites, they don’t let people into Heaven, and that they themselves were going to hell. One begins to understand why they were trying to kill him. He says much more in the chapter, but this is a good summary.

Far from being a wimp marching through Palestine telling everyone to be nice to each other, Jesus has a sharp edge to him. Certainly he advocated loving your enemy and turning the other cheek, but not like a wuss would. He did not love peace out of fear but out of courage. He trusted his Father so deeply and loved his enemies so much, he would publicly humiliate them to show them their hearts.

He also loved the crowd too much to let their hypocrisy reign unchecked. There were confused people in this crowd who were following these teachers. They needed to be warned.

One of the most influential works on my view of Jesus is The Visual Bible – The Gospel According to Matthew. Their interpretation of Jesus’ confrontation is here. Bruce Marchiano, who plays Jesus, did the whole scene in one take and when he was done, he walked away and told the director, “He Loved them. It broke his heart because he loved them.”

Far from the macho super independent man of the James Bond films, Jesus was tough because he loved.

Be Honest with God

There is a few important lessons for us in this. First, God is tough enough to take our honest prayers. I think we somehow protect God from our frustrations and anger with him because we think he has a sensitive ego. We don’t want to hurt his feelings so we aren’t honest with him. This is flatly not how Job, Moses, Elijah, David, Jonah, and Jeremiah talked with God. They clearly respected him, but as a Father they knew they could be honest with.

One of my favorite exchanges in all of scripture is Jonah’s complaint to God when he spared Nineveh.

And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:2-3

Jonah had a sinful heart and he trusted God enough to be brutally honest with God about how he felt. And notice that despite Jonah’s rank immaturity while he threw a tantrum to the God of the universe, God was patient with him. Even at Jonah’s request, God didn’t kill him.

We need to take a lesson from this. God is trustworthy not simply with our nice feeling, but our mean and selfish ones as well. It is hilarious that we try to hide our faults from an all-knowing God. We are a bit stupid sometimes.

Love Isn’t Always Nice

The second lesson we should take away is that loving people will involve aggressive conflict sometimes. Love is always kind, but it is not always nice. Many times the grace of God to me has been men and women pushing me in not very nice ways. Sometimes they were outright sinning against me. But that did not mean that God was not teaching me something in it.

We need to be much more interested in serving people than in having smooth relationships with them. I fear that I am part of a generation of wimps who are much more interested in being liked by people than loving them. As I watch men grow in their relationship with God, almost universally they become more bold. With that boldness comes conflict. With the conflict will always come the criticism that they have become arrogant.

You see, none of us like to have our sin called out. It is much easier to blame the messenger than to search our hearts. Shooting them down as arrogant or the church word, legalistic, is a lot easier. That is not to say that there aren’t arrogant and legalistic people in the church, but we should first search our hearts to see if they have a point.

Courage Comes from a Relationship with God

Jesus did not have his courage from a vacuum. He was doing “only what he sees the Father doing.” We have the courage and wisdom to know when to confront people by being like God. If we stay close to him, that shields us from arrogance because it is a but silly to stand arrogantly next to God. We also live knowing that he is behind us and if I have his approval, I can deal with your anger.

Correction is Done with Gentleness

It is not enough to simply correct each other. We must do so with gentleness.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 2 Tim 2:24-25a

We are being like our Father when we correct gently and patiently. There are many men out there correcting out of their anger and not out of love. The man who corrects out of love is looking to win his brother, not destroy his brother. The gentle, patient, and firm correction is a trademark of just such a man.

Gentlemen, we serve a tough and wonderful God. Let’s lean heavily on him to give us the courage to not only do the nice thing, but the right thing.

-Chip