My Challenge to Older Men

old-man-talking-to-two-young-boysNever have generations been so different.

The older generation grew up in the depression and in the 1950s. They are hard working and frugal. They grew up in churches and were mystified by the sexual revolution. They were stunned when the cultural changes of their children came.

Most of them relied on the stable institutions of culture to reign in the exuberant change among their children and grandchildren. But, unlike in generations past, the change didn’t slow, it accelerated. With growing knowledge and technology we became both smarter and more foolish. My generation rejected the wisdom of the past. We didn’t need it, we didn’t want it.

Many institutions that tied older and younger men together were crumbling. With increased travel, grandchildren were further separated from their grandparents. The dinner table because less important. In churches, Sunday School separated into grades which further isolated generations from each other. With the advent of the internet, my generation became one of the most isolated in history.

In our foolishness, we not only became isolated, we celebrated it. We pretended that our Guild Leader in World of Warcraft was our friend. We lied to ourselves by saying we have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook. By only becoming close with people of our own generation. We pooled our ignorance and have become idiots in everyone’s eyes except our own.

Older men, that’s why we need you.

We don’t know how foolish we are but we do know how lost we feel. We need you to bridge that gap.

I know I am asking something extraordinary of you. The differences between the generations is so significant that it is more like crossing cultures than crossing the street. Despite the barriers, it is so important to serve the young men who aren’t in your churches. They are the leaders of tomorrow and they are the least likely humans to be in a church.

The current and coming crisis of your men is heartbreaking. My generation of men are a mess. They are terrible fathers, husband, friends, and lovers of God. While I am part of them and suffer from many of the same weaknesses they do, I am often exhausted to see the rampant foolishness they have.

We as a church need to ask the older men to sacrifice their preferences to serve the lost generation of young men. We desperately need those stately old men to engage with younger men and challenge them to better things. One of the great sins of the older generation is that they have not worked to bridge the gap to us younger men.

We need you.

One day there won’t be any of you older men left. You will have died and my generation will be the ones left to guide the ones after us.

God help us all.

We are not prepared for this. I’m begging you older men to reach down to us younger men and guide us. We are a generation of runaways who don’t like to be pushed or challenged. It will require extraordinary patience on your part to chase, encourage, correct, and love us. We are not so different than you.

Think about it, when you were young, you were foolish and stupid, just like us. What if no men had helped and supported you in that time. Where would you be now? We have grown up without fathers to show us the way. We need you older men to invest in us.

So, to the older men. Please love us enough to get past our smart phones and video games. We are crying out for someone to show us the way. We are lost and need guides. The choice is yours. You can abandon us or you can love us enough to break down the barriers we have put up.

Please choose to love us.

-Chip

Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 11 Vermin Pastor

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 25th Year

Mudpot,

Yes, this is concerning. It is a credit to you that the head pastor is such a concern to you. It is NOT a credit to you that you allowed your patient to come under the leadership of such a dangerous vermin pastor.  Of all the churches he could have gone to, he is at one of the most dangerous and he is on staff.

Very concerning.

On to your review.

The Good

His increasing depression is wonderful. I have reports from his wife’s tempter also indicating how moody, sullen, and angry he is at home. Good work. The rift you are driving between them is going to start being fruitful soon. you must be very careful now. This is the sort of time that the Enemy’s Spirit could destroy ll you have worked for. You patient will be very difficult to subdue if his wife is supporting him. You must prevent this.

The double life you are working in him is working. He is now regularly looking at pornography and telling lies to protect it. You didn’t mention whether the wife suspects and neither did her tempter. It is not the right time to expose him as he may be able to repent and turn from it. We need to sink him deeper into the double life. Take every opportunity to drive him toward sexual pleasure except with his wife. If there is an opportunity to get him to adulterate with another female, take it. It can only serve us now.

That ministry assistant he has is a stroke of genius on your part. How you got a female that he is attracted to in that position. it is lovely Mudpot. bring them together but do it slowly. There is a new term among the vermin called the “Work Spouse”. Make sure this ministry assistant becomes one. If she can become his friend, the his work spouse, then his lover, and then a knife we use to rip out his heart.

We need to be prepared for the long game. Because your patient is in the church, we have a real opportunity to use any stature he holds there as a weapon against the Enemy. Imagine if we can get your patient publicly discredited. We can then go into the community and use this as another example of the hypocrisy of Christians. Drink that in Mudpot. Think of the delight of it.

The Bad

Now that you’ve seen the possibility of discrediting him, you must be very careful. This church is one of the most dangerous ones in this community. You really should have guided your patient somewhere else. The Lead Pastor and his wife are among the most difficult vermin in the region. They have suffered and been dedicated to the Enemy through it. We have been able to make very little inroads with them and have been wholly prevented from killing them by the Enemy.

This man is dangerous Mudpot. He may see through your patient’s lies and challenge him to repentance. He is often listening to the Enemy’s Spirit and does what he says. He is often in the Enemy’s Book. He believes in the Enemy’s Son. He is a nightmare t work with and you have now placed your patient near him.

So we need to be prepared. I have arranged for a foolish woman to become friends with your patient’s wife. it is important that she does not speak to the church leaders of the brewing trouble in their marriage. It is important that she is confiding in a fool who will not offer real assistance. Additionally, you need to use your patient to pressure her to silence about their struggles.

Finally, we need to be sure to silence the preaching that he will receive there. We have tried to silence the pastor, but this has been fruitless. We must silence it in your patient’s ears. Make sure that he only hears the preaching in the context of how he should support others. Make sure he is focused on who in the service needs to hear what is said other than himself. Do your best to silence his conscience by reminding him frequently of how sinful the congregants of the church are. This will help him to focus on their sin and not his own.

Things are more hopeful than they were a few years ago, but we are still in dangerous territory. By the Great Lord I want this vermin dead. I will breathe a sigh of relief he does die.

-Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

How to Judge God

Dorothy_0011b God-Satan Desk SignsHomosexuality, prayer, Hell, human suffering, gender roles, and premarital sex.

These issues have been on my mind for many years now. At one time or another (and some to this day) I have struggled with the Bible’s clear teaching on these topics. Why would God make such restrictive rules? Why would he send people he created to Hell?

I am not afforded the escape that many Americans take today which is to pretend the Bible doesn’t have clear teaching on these topics. It’s not that the Bible is vague, it’s that we don’t like what it teaches. The easy way out is to ignore scripture: to make up a god in our own image. Often this god is not just in my image. He is me, just more powerful.

Another option, the faithful one, is to accept that God loves me and trust him.

I prefer the third option, which is to judge God. I take comfort that I am not alone. We as a people love to judge God. When God says for Israel to wipe out the Canaanites, we gleefully blame God for genocide. When God repeatedly calls homosexuality a sin, we come up with phrases like, “God wouldn’t tell me who I can love.” When God condemns anyone to hell, we see a cosmic killjoy who puts men in an eternal Hell because he is such a power drunk madman. Obviously sin isn’t worth a Hell that lasts forever.

But is this option reasonable. Let’s make a few assumptions.

  1. God exists
  2. He created all morality
  3. He created me
  4. The Bible is his inspired writings to us

If all of this is true, then I can never rightfully judge God.

Imagine that argument. I would be telling the creator of right and wrong that he was wrong. All he has to say is that he is right and I have no ground to stand on. I would then be saying that I am wiser then God and that I could have created a better universe if I were God.

That’s the sort of thing that got Satan kicked out of heaven. He wanted to be God.

The fact is, I want to be God too. I want my will to be supreme. I want my magnificence to be known in all the Heavens and the Earth. I want people to sing my praises. And because of that, I want to judge God.

It is foolishness even to consider it. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that I were RIGHT to judge God: that God really had wronged me and that I was justified in condemning him. So what! I still lose. He’s God and I’m not. Even in this ridiculous case, I should bend to his will.

So don’t fall into this trap of accusing God of wrong. You can say that Bible is inaccurate or that God does not exist, but don’t be so foolish as to be a Bible-believing Christian who judges God. Remember that he will judge you.

-Chip

Coping with Groundhog Day Stress

GroundhogWe’ve all been there.

It’s the day before Groundhog Day. You know that family is coming to your house in the morning. You have all the food ready to go. You’ve prepared yourself for the joy and rigors of another holiday season. You’ve battled crowds of Groundhog Day shoppers and waited in long lines at the grocery store. Your time has come.

And yet you still feel stressed.

We’ve watched all the Groundhog Day movies and read all the well wishes on Facebook and Twitter. Surely Groundhog Day has more to offer than this. With the delights of family, football, and weather prognostication coming, why do you look with the upcoming holiday with a sense of dread?

We’ve all been there.

Today you will learn the final preparations you need to deal with Groundhog Day stress. You will be prepared with the tips and tricks you need to deal with tense Groundhog Day discussions and the difficulties of learning that Spring is going to late this year. You, my friend, have come to the right place.

What do I do when Uncle Larry insists that my groundhog is not the REAL groundhog?

It is a common argument in well-intentioned families. Most Americans follow Punxsutawney Phil. While he is the most prominent rodent weatherman, he certainly isn’t the only one. We cannot forget about General Beauregard Lee, Buckeye Chuck, Staten Island Chuck, or the so-called Wiarton Willie (Balzac Billy doesn’t count, he’s not even a real groundhog).

I can remember many a Groundhog Morning when we are watching the celebrations and await Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction with bated breath. In the tension of the moment, Uncle Larry would always be sure to start a fight by aggressively arguing that the REAL groundhog for all predictions is General Beauregard Lee.

We foolishly would try to persuade him that Punxsutawney Phil seems to be the most reliable furry prophet but to no avail. Soon, when the predictions of Spring had come out, we risked an all out fist-fight if Punxsutawney Phil and General Beauregard Lee made opposite predictions.

Obviously, this is childish. We never really considered that it’s entirely possible for Georgia (General Beauregard Lee’s prediction zone) and Pennsylvania (Punxsutawney Phil’s territory) could have entirely different Springs. Once this was established, a great deal of family peace was found.

Is Punxsutawney Phil immortal or not?

Another common fight in my family has been whether Punxsutawney Phil is really immortal. The Inner Circle in Punxsutawney make such a claim and I find no reason to doubt them. That said, there is no reason to be dogmatic about this. It could be that Punxsutawney Phil is a title and a mantle that passes from groundhog to groundhog. Either way, no one doubts the esteemed reliability of the predictions.

Should I risk bringing up the Wiarton Willie incident?

I don’t want to talk about it.

Should I put my winter clothes away if the groundhog predicts an early Spring?

This is a common question among the Groundhog Day faithful. There are many who do take the prediction at face value and immediately show their dedication by preparing for the early Spring. This is well and good except when they use this as an opportunity to mock those who “lack the faith.”

Personally, I wait to see the early Spring. It’s not that I doubt Punxsutawney Phil (or whichever groundhog you follow), it’s that I doubt the Club President’s interpretation of his Groundhogese. Punxsutawney Phil is, of course, always right. The men who speak for him are not as reliable.

Either way, don’t let this be a divisive issue in your Groundhog Day. Let each do what they wish.

How should I arrange the schedule for my Groundhog Day celebration?

Generally, I think this schedule is the most helpful for a delightful time with family on Groundhog Day. We need to take into account this year that there will be a Groundhog Day football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. This is a special treat and will effect your usual celebration schedule.

6 AM Everyone should be awakened and should shower.

6:30 AM Eat breakfast. This is a good time to consider how much your groundhog does for you each year.

7 AM Everyone goes to the television to prepare for Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction (be sure to check when he is scheduled to come out, you may need to rise earlier).

8 AM Family will sit and discuss how the prediction will effect their plans.

12 Noon This is the big meal of the day. Some families eat a vegetarian meal to honor the groundhog.

1:30 PM Take a nap to prepare for Groundhog Day football

2:30 PM Watch Groundhog Day (a family tradition for us)

5 PM Order pizza and enjoy a good football game

10 PM Everyone goes home

The Big Idea

We all bring a lot of stress and expectations to our Groundhog Day celebrations, but let’s not forget to enjoy this delightful and wonderful holiday with family and friends. That’s what Punxsutawney Phil would want.

-Chip

Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 10 Graduation

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 24th Year

My Dear Mudpot,

I’m going to regret saying this. I know I will. You are making real progress Mudpot.

Don’t make me regret that.

So lets get to your review.

Successes

I have to say I never expected the success you are having with causing depression in your patient. It seems that he is prone to depression and you have a gift for causing it. In a way, this is a real failure of yours because you waited so long to exploit it. Hopefully you didn’t wait too long.

It is so delightful that you were able to drive him back to pornography in his depression. It is so delightful to see the vermin medicate their pain with sexual images. The short term relief he feels when looking at the images will only drive him deeper into despair. I want to caution you on beating on his conscience too hard. It has the potential to drive him deeper into his depression but it also could drive him to repentance.

It is far better to find a way to burn his conscience out. Try to work our old staple conscience killers like “Nobody’s getting hurt” and “God would want me to be happy.” He is in a culture that sees no problem with pornographic images but scandalizes sexual affairs (I still can’t figure out how the Western Culture Department pulled that off). If we can destroy his conscience, we have almost won.

As he heads to his seminary graduation, it is important that he be driven deeper into a double life. Seminaries are well designed for encouraging a double life and the seminary he attends is even better suited than most. He is intellectually sharp and the faculty is much more interested in a strong theological argument and being culturally savvy than they are in being morally right.

It makes me chuckle as I write this. Mudpot, this is when our job gets fun.

These months leading up to graduation are crucial. If you can get him back into the slow spiral downward now, I suspect you will be able to continue it into whatever church work he has afterward. There is a real opportunity to neuter him.

But the risks are great. Should he be recovered by the Enemy’s Spirit, he will be much more dangerous. He will sympathize with sinners and yet struggle to resist his own sin. A vermin with his potential could be…I don’t want to think about it.

Pull out all the stops to get him to become sexually involved with another female vermin. Your work driving a wedge between him and his wife has been most fruitful. With them having sex less often, there will be more opportunity for temptation. Be ready.

Your work using his depression to drive him into video games, very good. I am more old school than that. Video gaming has never been my favorite temptation. Maybe I need to modernize a bit. Obviously it has been very effective with your patient. He is failing to carry out his responsibilities and then complains when his wife notices and brings it up. You are masterful in guiding him to use words like “controlling” and “nitpicking” and yet he avoids working on the fact that he is lazy. It is lovely to see.

Failures

I am pleased to say that these are fewer than in previous years. They are still serious and need addressing.

Remember that even thought you are having success with overwhelming him, he is still in a seminary and there is still a great deal of the Enemy’s Book around. He is often reading the book and the Enemy’s Spirit can, at any time, use those word to crush you. As much as you can, keep your patient away from the Enemy’s Book.

Additionally, you seem cavalier about the Enemy’s Spirit. He is smarter and much stronger than you are. He is patient and cunning. He is merciless and cruel. He will surprise you and overwhelm you. Be prepared for him. If there is one thing I have learned in my millennia of  work it is that he is never to be underestimated. Be very cautious and vigilant. Watch for his subtle movements and be ready to battle them.

Finally, be very aware that your patient is still claimed by the Enemy. There is nothing you can do to change that. It is not in our power to win him back. There are always plan to find a way to reclaim a vermin that the Enemy has taken, but for now, we cannot do it. The Enemy may have plans for this High Risk that we can’t anticipate.

Overall, your work is good. Don’t screw it up.

-Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

Food and the Christian Guy: Part 2, Loving People with Food

supernachosbeef_other2I was recently struck by a situation involving food.

Sam was working downstairs and I was feeding the our four kids some oh so delicious nachos. When God created the Garden of Eden, there was likely a tree that would provide nacho sauce in its sap. It is one of the most delightful and tasty foods out there.

You can read into this that I love nachos.

So I’m feeding the kids and enjoying nachos in (I think) appropriate moderation. Sam was late coming up the stairs so I made a plate of nachos for her and put it to the side before i served any more to the kids or myself. As I looked at that plate when dinner was done, I realized that idolizing the nachos would make me unable to love Sam well. If I pined after having an over-full belly with nachos, I would not be able to serve her and save as much for her as I thought she could want.

I’ve never really thought of idolizing food in terms of love before.

We’ve all seen the teenage boys that raid a meal and don’t think of others and eat all the food. Then, when someone comes later (often the cook of the food), there is none left for them. This is idolatry. It is loving the taste of the food at the expense of caring for the much more precious people around the food.

It is the difference between food being a wonderful servant or a terrible master.

It makes me wonder, if I saw someone who was hungry, would I rather give them my lunch to love them or keep it for myself. To be honest, this never would have occurred to me before this. Idols have that way of becoming rights. We are not grateful for rights, we just expect them.

And I guess my heart just expects food and I am willing to sacrifice the joy of others to get it. It seems so harmless until this became clearer to me.

I am actually much encouraged to see this. It feels like something I would never have noticed on my own and so it has the flavor of the Holy Spirit showing me. It feels good to get this written down in a place where you all can encourage me to kill this idol. It is good.

The lie I believed is that killing this idol would be a grueling experience. Maybe I have not plumbed the vile depths of it, but so far, it has been good. It feels much freer to have food as a servant and not a master. I can imagine it will be much more freeing once God has helped me put it into real submission to him.

I hadn’t mentioned it, but I am also on Weight Watchers. I will put my weight into this article once I get it on Monday afternoons for you to follow. It will look like this.

Current Weight: (to be placed here on Monday afternoon)
Last weeks weight: 287.7 lbs
Total weight loss since 1/13: 0 lbs

I would appreciate your accountability and support as well as comments.

-Chip

2500 Tons of Awesome….or Awful

pacificrim_trailer_hd_screencaps_21One of the best movies to come out last years was Pacific Rim. Sure it had some plot holes, but that was more than made up for by interesting characters and delightful action.

The most endearing character to me is a scientist named Dr. Newton Geizler (or Newt). He is fascinating because as he fights the monsters (Kaiju), he is fascinated by them. This is highlighted in an exchange that happens with Newt.

Newt: (The Monster) was two thousand five hundred tons of awesome. [uncomfortable pause] Or awful, you know, whatever you wanna call it.

Hermann: Please, excuse him. He’s a Kaiju groupie, he loves them.

Newt: Shut up, Hermann. I don’t love them, okay? I study them. And unlike most people, I wanna see one live and up close one day.

Raleigh: Trust me, you don’t want to.

To be honest, I’m with Newt.

There are no Kaiju in the real world, but there are awesome and awful things. Why does a storm chaser look for a dangerous tornado? Why does the Seattle volcano evacuation literature remind people not to go toward an erupting volcano? Why do we watch videos of fire and hurricanes with fascination?

Let’s be clear, these events are human tragedies. Hurricane Katrina cost over a thousand lives. In 1985, the eruption of the Colombian volcano Nevado del Ruiz sparked a lahar that killed 23,000 people. The 2004 tsunami killed at least 184,000 people and displaced millions.

When Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Phillipines in 2013, I was watching it closely. Part of me was excited to see suck a magnificent and powerful force of nature. The typhoon was exceptionally beautiful to see and awesome in the power it was releasing.

I also was worried. There were millions of people in front of one of the most powerful storms ever. I prayed for them. They weren’t prepared (no one could be) for the kind of power that storm was releasing. The weeks that followed highlighted the immense human tragedy that the typhoon caused.

article-2501471-19594E8400000578-211_964x676One of the most poignant images for me is this one. It shows a father carrying his daughter who died in the flooding. My heart breaks for this man. I can’t imagine carrying my Rosie. The weight of that loss is too much for me.

Think of it. You see the fear in you child’s eyes but can’t stop the water from coming. Selfishly, I would rather die than live with that memory.

So which is it? Are these forces of nature awesome or terrible?

There is an ironic reality to this. They are both. I think they are necessarily both.

Think about it, when we see a tornado swirling in the distance with its massive power and strange grace, we are awestruck. This thing is magnificent because it is like God. It spins with power and yet it is controlled, staying within a fairly cleanly defined area. It is awesome power just beyond what we can understand.

God is like that. We look at him and he is both awesome and terrible in his power. Not terrible in the sense of evil (for that matter, the tornado isn’t evil either), but terrible in the sense that should we defy him, terrible things will happen to us. Think of what Jesus said.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 ESV

It is not cool to mention that we should fear God these days. We have a hard time reconciling this with the god we have made up in our heads who only loves us and gives us whatever we want. But the God of the Bible, he is one to be feared. In Job, he chose to come in a storm (possibly a tornado). In Exodus, he come to his people as a fire on a mountain.

The fact is, God is awesome and terrible too.

So what are the typhoons and earthquakes and volcanos? They are little images of a much more powerful God. Just like cool breezes and sunny days are there to remind us of the gentle and loving father we have in Heaven, the asteroids and solar flares and tsunamis are there to remind us that we serve a powerful God. One that we can’t control. One that we should get out of the path of his wrath.

Just as people prepare for disasters that we know to be coming (see your grocery store when a blizzard is coming). We have been warned to get out of the way of the ultimate disaster which is the just anger of God at foolish sinners. Paul warns us of the wrath of God:

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. Colossians 3:5-6

The wrath of God is coming and you and I are guilty of most, if not all, of the items on the list above. So what should we do?

(I)f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10 ESV

What is the shelter from the greatest disaster of all? Jesus, he is the one who protects us.

But back to the original question, how should I feel about these great forces of nature. I should be awestruck by them and stand in amazement of them as little images of the much greater and powerful force that is God himself. I should be amazed by them as I am amazed by Him.

I should also mourn. These are terrible disasters and the human suffering also breaks the heart of God as well. But in that mourning, I should not think that a typhoon or tsunami is the great danger. Those things can only kill me. No, what I should fear most of all is God himself.

And then I should do whatever it takes to get out of that disaster’s way.

-Chip

Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 9 Sabotage

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 23nd Year

Mudpot,

Stop telling me about the wedding. I know they are grotesque. I get it. The filthy vermin celebrating as two of them begin bonding. That insufferable bond. The Enemy really does unfairly handicap us by creating such an environment for exposing sin and learning to love. If he had any sense of fair play, he would not have created marriage.

What matters much more to me is what things you did at the wedding to start disintegrating relationships. The pressure is so intense on all parties that this is an opportunity to drive life-long wedges into relationships. Normally, it is more difficult with the couple getting married, but you can often build tensions into the relationship with each vermin’s in-laws.

Of course, because you didn’t write about this, I’m sure you didn’t take this opportunity. How typical of you!

On to your review.

Successes

Sometimes, even you trip over a good idea. You have begun to define what “in love” mean to your patient in a most helpful way.

You really have two options. You can define love in terms of only feelings. One is “in love” as being emotionally pleased with the other vermin. One is only “in love” when the feelings and desires are there. Once the feelings are gone, even for a moment, then one is “out of love.” The advantages of this are numerous. It is much easier to justify divorce with this definition of love. One of the great delights of being a tempter is to hear your patient say things like, “God would want me to be happy” as if divorce is the way to one’s happiness.

The other path is to describe love as a choice that is devoid of any feeling. “Love is an action” is often used to describe this. It speaks of love only in terms of commitment and honor. It is much harder to get these couples to divorce but the serious unhappiness they live in is nearly as good. It takes a special kind of denial to say that love does not need any feelings. Of course, the vermin are specially good at being in denial. The fact is, love is both commitment and feelings. It is both definitions at different times. That is why you need to convince your patient that it is either of them (we don’t particularly care which one) so that he will exclude the other one. Sometimes the miserably married Christian does almost as much good for us as the divorced one.

Your choice of having him define “in love” as exclusively a feeling is good. His personality lends itself to this error. Now your work must be to make sure he falls “out of love” as soon as possible. I noted that you mentioned he has a tendency toward depression in your last update. Why haven’t you mentioned this before!? No one is more out of love than a depressed man. More on this later.

One key to making him fall “out of love” is to exploit any native differences of personality between your patient and the female. Work so that both  feel that the differences are all because of bad intentions. With your patient’s existing selfish bent, make sure he is walking in the door and expecting her to care for him. If you can start with that, soon there will be a buffet of delights waiting for you. Moping, complaining, sexless marriage, depression, etc. The list is endless if you can make him wholly entitled to her time and attention.

I was pleased to hear how you have kept his mother as a closer confidante’ than his wife. This is great. Make sure that his wife knows of it and that she embittered by it. If you play this right, he can then be upset with his wife that he “has a good relationship with mom.” Never let him see that this is a sign that he does not trust his wife.

Failures

You have been writing me for this many years and have never once mentioned that your patient is prone to depression. Mudpot, I don’t need to ask for everything. You need to give me valuable information like this. We could have been exploiting this for many years now. I have instructed an associate of mine, Count Peacefail, to offer you some private tutoring on how to appropriate cause and manifest depression. He is one of the subtlest tempters I know with causing despair in the vermin.

I shall briefly review some of the material that Count Peacefail will teach.

The keys to despair are two-fold. First, you must convince your patient that a melancholy feeling is actually a sin in and of itself. As if sadness were wrong. This is obviously foolish because even the Enemy feels sadness and pain, but claims never to sin. This can add to the existing sadness when he is repenting of being sad at all. What is important about that is that he keeps staring inward into his soul and not looking outward at the Enemy. Additionally, he will be busy repenting for how he feels and not about the real cause of his despair (should that cause be sin).

The second key is to search for a cause for his sadness outside of himself. The key to maintaining despair is that he continue feeling that he is the victim of the sadness and has little to do with the cause. This is bolstered significantly if he has believed that sadness itself is a sin. As long as he is looking for who to blame for his despair, he will not look at his own soul to see if he is lacking trust in the Enemy.

What we must avoid, Mudpot, is that he will feel accepted by the Enemy in his despair? That is the path to the Enemy. If he feels accepted he will trust the Enemy and might pray and read the Enemy’s Book. He may find passages where other men and women were deeply distressed and the Enemy rescued them. He might seek real assistance from the church. He might avail himself of the graces that the Enemy provides.

So he must constantly feel that the Enemy is outraged at him. That way, he will always shy away from addressing the Enemy and seeking real help. I will let Peacefail address more specific strategies for your patient.

Overall, I am pleased with your progress this year. Together, we may be able to bring this dangerous patient down.

-Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

Food and the Christian Guy: Part 1, My Idol

Raw-Meat-cat-food-natural-diet-1lI really like food. And I should be very precise by what I mean when I say food. Lest you believe that I am merely pursuing anything that is edible near me. By no means am I panting after all foods nearby.

By food, I mean meat.

You see, if a something at one point walked, swam, dug, or flew, it is probably delicious. God has created a world full of creatures that I am told to eat and will deeply delight in doing so.

But there’s a catch. More precisely, there’s an idol. To see more of how I came to this, read this post on my recent hermitage.

It is not that I love food too much. More likely, I don’t delight in it enough. The nature of an idol is not to say that I like something too much but that I love God too little. Food needs to be pulled into a correct place in my life. That is to say, my food choices should be God honoring ones and food should be delighted in as a gift from a loving Father.

There are a couple of reasons I feel food has become an idol. Some of them are a bit embarrassing for me to bring up, but like all idols, they whither a great deal when exposed to the light. So please pray for me and examine your own heart to see if you may be as foolish as I am.

One of the reasons I think food has an unhealthy hold on my life is that I am quite overweight. I weigh about 290 lbs. This doesn’t bug me too much except that I know I could look better for my wife (that really does sadden me) and that I am not setting a healthy example for my kids. I would not want them to gain weight like I have.

To be clear, we are obsessed with weight in our society. There are high metabolism gluttons and gym membership gluttons out there that are not fat. They go to the gym and work out so that can eat what they want but the sacrifice they make in time is paid for by their families. We worship at the altar of the fit body and not at the feet of a gracious God. Would I like a fit body? Absolutely! But why should I want a fit body.

  1. In our culture, being fit commands some respect and that can be used to spread the gospel.
  2. In the same way, a fat body can be a barrier to telling others about Jesus.
  3. I want my wife to be as delighted by my body as possible.
  4. A fit body has more energy to do good with (like wrestling on the floor with my kids).
  5. A fit body will likely come with a sharper mind that I need for my work and for better understanding God, my family, and my world.

Do I want a fit body for all of the reasons above? Probably not. But it would be tragic to successfully lose weight and feel better and have simply traded an idol of food for an idol of looking good. There is an epidemic of people who are fit because they idolize the praise of others. I don’t want to be that guy.

Back to the reasons I think I have a food idol. There are times that I am heading to bed and I am planning my meals for the next day. If you know me, I don’t plan much of anything. So if I am planning something, it is because I really like it. In my case, I think I am obsessed with it.

Often, I feel a sense of guilt while I eat and after I eat. This is not what God intended. Why is my conscience itching when I am eating? Probably because it knows that food is not holding its proper place in my life.

Finally, a strange thing I do. My wife doesn’t like to get gas in the cars. It’s one of her strange nuances (I think its actually cute). When I would go to the gas station, I would get gas and pay inside. When I paid, I would add two hot dogs and a soft drink. This way, I was getting the chili dogs and secretly using the gas budget to buy the chili dogs.

Now there is nothing wrong with buying hot dogs or even doing it as a treat when I get gas. So why would I secretly do this? Why would I hide that I was doing it? It’s not like I couldn’t use my spending money to buy a hot dog. It’s not a big deal.

But it is a big deal. It points to an evil living in my heart that wants to use the gas money to get more food so I can use my mad money on even more food. As I type this, I feel ashamed. How stupid does this sound?

Pretty stupid. But that’s because idols are stupid.

I have a problem. I want to address it. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Pray for me.

-Chip

Affirmation Junkie Seeking Treatment

7392For those of you that know me, I have a secret.

No, I don’t do drugs.

Nope, no secret life of crime.

I’m an affirmation junkie.

But I take comfort that you are one too. You see, we are all affirmation junkies (except maybe some sociopaths). I love to have people’s approval. It’s one of my biggest fears in blogging that I am really just trying to sooth my affirmation habit.

In a real way, I should be an affirmation junkie. I should want desperately to be approved by God. Jesus treats that phrase, “Well done, good and faithful servant” to be a serious and honorable reward to seek. Think about it, how incredible would it be to be patted on the back by the creator of all things.

Unfortunately, I often prefer a much poorer substitute: you.

There is nothing wrong with your praise for me. The best of us are the one’s who praise God and others the most. I am reading a wonderful book by Sam Crabtree called Practicing Affirmation which is about how to wisely affirm others. Please read this book, particularly if you are a crank who never praises anything. To praise others can be wrong, to never praise others may mean you aren’t like God at all. He praises people. We should too.

By affirmation, I don’t mean flattery. If I say something positive about you for the purpose of getting you to do something for me. That is garbage. There are many flatterers out there and the scriptures clearly condemn the practice (Pro 29:5, Job 32:21-22).

I also don’t mean praising the insignificant. “Nice shirt” is praise, but of the smallest variety. These praises are the bulk of the affirming words that we as Americans give to each other. They feel shallow and meaningless because they are. No, there are better praises than that.

As Sam Crabtree argues, real affirmations are descriptions of how a person is displaying an attribute of God. If someone works hard, say that. God also works hard and they are being like God. If someone is kind or gentle or generous or humble, tell them so and remind them that they are being like God when they do these things. How substantive is that!

“It was so good to see you help that lady with her groceries. That looked like something Jesus would do.”

“The way you spoke to that angry customer was very gentle. That took patience.”

The nature of a good affirmation is actually delighting in the way they have imitated God. When people act like their creator, it is a wonderful thing.

But back to the original question, how can I like affirmation yet not idolize it. Jesus had some serious warning about seeking the praise of people. He also had serious promises about the praise God can give as a reward. So what do I do when someone praises me.

  1. Recognize that all the praiseworthy things in me are gifts from God.
  2. Not only are these attributes from God, but they are perfected in him. If I do something well, how much more magnificently does God do it.
  3. The real joy is in delighting in God getting praise. Not in keeping the praise for myself.
  4. Praise from people is to be joyfully accepted. What a sweet thing that someone can delight in my work. But it is not to be kept, as if the good quality were from me.

I recently read an analogy from Corrie Ten Boom recounted from here:

Someone once asked her (Corrie) how she could possibly handle all the compliments and praise that were constantly heaped upon her, without becoming proud. She said she looked at each compliment as a beautiful long-stemmed flower given to her. She smelled it for a moment and then put it into a vase with the others. Each night, just before retiring, she took the beautiful bouquet and handed it over to God saying, “Thank you, Lord, for letting me smell the flowers; they all belong to you.”

I think Tante Corrie is right on. Praise can be delighted in, but only for a short time. The real joy is getting the praise to the one who really deserves it. What is amazing to me is that he is the one who really deserves all praise, yet he takes the time to praise my good works that he caused.

What an amazing God we serve.

-Chip