Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Special Announcement: Oh the Humanity

Coming this October:  “Oh The Humanity”, a Bible study series inspired Kouta Hirano’s anime/manga series “Hellsing” that explores what it means to be human.

For those unfamiliar with “Hellsing”, the story revolves around the Hellsing Organization which is tasked by the English government with the tracking and elimination of vampires whilst keeping the general populace unaware.

Some of the main characters include:

Alucard:  A vampire who is currently working for Hellsing after being defeated many years ago by Abraham Van Helsing.   Alucard is an anti-hero as he has few, if any, moral scruples and is just as content to kill humans as vampires if they are in his way.

Integra Hellsing:  The current leader of Hellsing and descendant of Abraham Van Helsing.  She is the one who Alucard acknowledges as his master and gives him his orders.  Strict and duty-driven, she refuses to let a mission end in anything but success.

Fr. Alexander Anderson:  Anderson is a zealot who works for Hellsing’s Vatican counterpart, Iscariot.  Hellsing and Iscariot are often in conflict with one another as each claims exclusive authority to hunt down and destroy monsters.  Anderson is a self-described “living weapon” who has been modified so that he is able heal at a rate much faster than a normal human.  This ability, combined with his combat prowess, allows him to go toe-to-toe with any monster he is dispatched to kill.

The Major:  The Major is the leader of Millennium, the remnants of a Nazi effort to deploy the undead on the battlefields of WWII.  This project was crushed by Alucard before it was able to be put into effect.  The Major survived, however, and with his remaining subordinates, continued their work in secret.  He holds Alucard in high regard as an enemy but despises him as well.  The Major is infatuated with war.  He is also obsessed with destroying Britain and, perhaps more importantly, Alucard.

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Basic Tempting-On the Use of Words

We are greatly indebted to our rhetoric department for many of the souls we have captured.  They are the ones who have made it possible to capture souls through mere manipulation of the humans’ language.  Words are very powerful and one of the Enemy’s agents, designated James, even devotes a significant portion of his propaganda to the topic of language and the tongue.  “How can words be so powerful?” you may ask.  The answer, dear fool, is that words play a vital role in how humans perceive the world.  Consider the following example:

We are going to kill a puppy.

Vs.

We are going to save a puppy from a miserable existence.

As you can see, these two statements denote the same action.  However, each emphasizes different aspects while minimizing others.  The first states that we are going to kill a puppy whereas the second implies that we don’t want it to live in pain, making us angels of mercy.  The same principle applies to any action. Consider this:

I am going to go out to get drunk with my friends.

Vs.

I am going to go out drinking with my friends.

Do you see how these two differ?  The first casts the act in a negative light because it highlights the debauchery involved whereas the second statement sounds like you are merely going out to have some fun with your friends.

If you are ever going to be a tempter of any competence or use, it is imperative that you master the manipulation of words.  As you should be able to see at this point, the proper combination of words will allow you to bait the fleshling into doing things that are contrary to the Enemy’s will even if they know it to be such.  You see, humans have an aversion to the feeling of guilt and would much rather rationalize an act than admit wrongdoing.  This plays in our favor because so long as they don’t admit wrongdoing (or “sin” as it often called), there will be no real place in their lives for the Enemy’s forgiveness.  It follows that if there is no forgiveness, then (as discussed earlier) there is no chance for them to be snatched away by the Enemy and, therefore, they become ours.

The rationalization card is best played while the patient is struggling with some kind of choice.  Typically, a tempter will draw the patient into a moral dilemma by some means and, while the patient is weighing the merits of each course of action, the tempter will provide a way to rationalize the option contrary to the Enemy’s will.  Fortunately, you will be aided by the element of themselves which the humans refer to as “the flesh”.  This internal force will be pulling them in your direction as long as you are sure to promise pleasure as a reward.  The pull of the flesh will pressure the floodgates and rationalization is the means by which you will open them.  You see, the reason that rationalization is best used in the context of a moral dilemma is that its power increases exponentially when combined with the pressure of the flesh.  When you have convinced the human that they want something that they know is bad for them, they will feel guilty about wanting it.  As discussed above, guilt is an aversive state for the flesh creatures and they are all too eager to be rid of it.  In a situation where their guilt stems from wanting something, rationalization is especially alluring because it allows for two things:  first, it will remove their feelings of guilt; second, it will allow them to have the thing they want.  This is most definitely a combination that will win you the day on many occasions.

(c) Noah Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Taming the Tongue-5

Scripture:  Luke 6:43-45

We have discussed quite a bit about our tongue and the speech it can utter. It is a small, but dangerous thing that can lead us closer to or further away from God. Sometimes we talk out of both sides of our mouth by praising God and sinning with the same tongue. We’ve talked about ways that we can go about the overwhelming task of taming our tongue. We can experience our emotions without letting them control us.  We can be mindful of whether what we are about to say will honor God or not. Now we will address the problem of taming the tongue from one more angle.

When we set about minding our words, we often adopt a strategy of reaction.  We try to catch things before we say them, after they have entered our mind.  This is certainly a good starting place, but it fails to address the underlying problem.  In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus tells us that we know trees by the fruit they bear (orange tree, lemon tree, and so forth).  He goes on to say that a person cannot gather grapes from a bramble bush.  The point being that the things we say and do come from what is in our hearts.  “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

We can be proactive rather than reactive in taming the tongue by examining what we are filling our hearts with.  Do we spend time meditating on bitterness and jealousy?  Do we indulge and obsess over our vices?  Do we adopt the attitudes and wisdom of the World?  Or do we spend our time pondering the greatness and mercy of God our Father? Do we praise and pursue that which is good and noble?  These questions touch on just a few of the ways in which we fill our hearts.

When we allow God to dwell in our hearts and fill them with holy things, it will affect what we say.  Taming the tongue this way is less like trying to put a filter or a leash on it and more like changing the source from which it draws words. Going back to the analogy of a spring of water, it is like changing the source of the spring from salt to fresh water.

The tongue is not easily tamed and we often pay little heed to the Scripture’s urging to do so.  However, we can rest assured that God will assist us, should we decide to undertake this task.  As Christ is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2), He will guide and support us as we strive to draw closer to God.

Questions for Consideration:

1) Why do we typically think about dealing with sin in terms of forcing ourselves to act a certain way?

2) How does “knowing a tree by its fruits” affect how we decide what is or isn’t beneficial for us?  How does it affect our assessment of our own spiritual lives?

3) How does knowing that Christ will help you to push back sin and draw closer to God make you feel? What might you do with this feeling?


Taming the Tongue-4

Scripture:  James 3:7-12

Last time we concluded by saying that the tongue can either warm or scorch.  Therefore, it should be treated with the same care as an open flame. The passage from James that we are looking at today says that although humanity has been able to tame all animals, it has never been able to tame the tongue. It calls the tongue a “restless and unruly evil, full of deadly poison”:  another dramatic depiction of the tongue as the worst kind of thing.  This is all well and good, the things we say can steer us closer to or further away from God, the tongue is the worst kind of evil, but why get so intense about it as opposed to other sins that seem much worse?

The apparent harmlessness is exactly why we need to be more on our guard.  James outlines why it is so important to tend to this “little” thing in verses 9-12.  We use the same tongue to bless/worship/serve God which we also use to curse people (who are made in God’s image).  We use the same tongue to pray and to sin.  The rebuke goes “And you kiss your mother with that mouth?”, but in this case James is asking “And you pray to God with that mouth?”  Would you use a rusty knife to prepare food for someone you cared about?  Of course, we might say that we are capable of switching between praising and cursing without cross-contamination.  James, however, compares the tongue to a vine or a spring of water. Just as a vine cannot produce both grapes and figs and a spring cannot produce both fresh and salt water, so our tongue cannot produce both blessing and cursing.  Either we bless with our tongue or we curse with it.  Either we praise God with a sincere heart or we pay Him lip service.

This is certainly a “hard saying”, but if James was willing to be so blunt and draw a line in the sand, chances are that this is important.  Situations like this call for prayer, a conversation with God about what His Word says and what it means to us.  Part of what is so awesome about having a direct line to God is that, while God’s word has ultimate authority, we a are able to talk to Him about any part of it and He will, if we ask, help us to understand it, or give us the faith to believe in His goodness enough to obey Him even if we don’t entirely understand.

Questions for Consideration:

1) Why does the tongue’s apparent harmlessness make it so dangerous?

2) Think about the last time you consciously and sincerely said something to glorify God, how did you feel about God?  What about the last time you consciously sinned by saying something, how did you feel about God?

3) If we categorized everything we’ve ever said as either honoring God or sinning, do you think that we could predict, with some degree of accuracy, how close we are to God right now just by looking at how our words have been sorted?


Basic Tempting-Revealing Yourself

Now that the stage is set, we can turn to the technical aspects of being a tempter.  We will describe the proper way to handle your relationship with your patient including revealing yourself to it and manipulating it with language.  Additionally, we will introduce you to some of the most rudimentary theories of temptation.

I.                    Revealing Yourself

The question of whether a tempter should show himself to a human has long been a ticklish issue.  The answer often depends on the situation.  Remember that your ultimate goal is to prevent the soul from being captured by the Enemy or, failing miserably at that, to make it ineffective as an agent for the Enemy.  The first thing that you must figure out is what the patient most predisposed to.  For example, in earlier times, the humans were more aware of our presence in their lives and were more likely to detect us anyway.  Therefore, it was more useful to reveal ourselves to them and to frighten them into obedience by the sheer magnitude and ferocity of our beings.  It was also just as useful, after having revealed our presence, to seduce them with the promise of power by performing a few parlor tricks for them.

As far as unclaimed souls are concerned, we tend to rely on the tried and untrue methods of the past.  However, before proceeding any further, it is necessary to burn into your intellect the fact that you should be very particular about whom you reveal yourself to.  If the flesh creature is already a fervent materialist, then you don’t stand to gain any ground and may actually botch the whole situation by alerting them to the existence of spiritual beings and it would not be good for you in any sense…

(c) Noah Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Taming the Tongue-3

Scripture:  James 3:1-6

Even though we are warned repeatedly that we must be careful about what we say, we often find ourselves having said something that we ought not to have said.  However, we can take encouragement from James’ observation that if anyone hasn’t misspoken or sinned by what they said, then he/she must be perfect.  So we should not become discouraged if getting a handle on our tongue proves to be more than difficult.

The tongue holds a unique position in our spiritual lives.  James compares it to a horse’s bridle or a ship’s rudder, both of which are small but determine the course of something much larger.  Similarly, even though the tongue is small, it has the power to determine our course in life.  To further stress his point, James speaks of the tongue as a flame or spark that is ready to set anything and everything ablaze with the very fires of Hell.  This is certainly a dramatic picture, but is it really that bad?

Consider the implications that our words have for us.  Everything we say (and do) can be placed into one of two categories:  things that glorify God and things that do not glorify God.  When we spend our time doing things that glorify God we move closer to God.  (Note:  this doesn’t mean you have to spend all day, every day in church or charity work.  See Colossians 3:23.). When we spend our time doing things that don’t glorify God, we drift away from Him.  Do you see where this is going?  To borrow one of James’ analogies, our tongue has the ability to steer our ship closer to or further away from God.  In some cases it can even set our ship on fire.  The things we say affect our relationship with God, for better or for worse.

The tongue can be a flame that provides light, warmth, and comfort, or it can be a flame that burns homes and bridges.  That is why we must attend to it regularly so that it does not burn out of control.

Questions:
1) Do you think that a small flame is a good description of the tongue?  Why or why not?

2) In what ways have you noticed people (including yourself) being “steered” by their words?

3) How can we use our tongue to steer our ship closer to God?

4) How can our words move others closer to or further from God?


Following the Light

I was driving home the other night and noticed just how different things look after dark.  Although I had driven the route many times, it had been long enough since I was last on it at night that it was almost unfamiliar.  One thing that might have contributed to this was my inability to see the wider landscape on account of the lack of light.  (Country roads tend to not be well lit and can be like driving in a dark tunnel at times.)  Fortunately, my car’s headlights provided sufficient illumination to navigate the nighttime roads and arrive safely at my destination.

Sometimes our spiritual life can be like a road (not cliché comparison in the slightest, right?).  At some points the sun is shining and we can see the signs and landmarks that make the road familiar.  We know exactly where we are and where we’re going.  These are times of great clarity for us and we know what we need to do in life, what we’re called to do, if you will.

image by Fiona the Awesome

Other times, though, we are in the proverbial dark and have a hard time discerning God’s will in our lives.  These are often unsettling and frustrating times when God seems distant and we don’t know what to do.

image by Fiona the Awesome

Fortunately, even in these times, God provides us with enough light to find our way until the sun once again rises.  We can turn to the Scriptures to find our way through life (Psalm 119:104-105) and we have the Holy Spirit which helps us (John 14:26) and intercedes for us when we are at a loss for words (Romans 8:26), to name some examples.

The tricky part is to be content with the light that we have at any given time and not miss it because we are straining our eyes to see into the darkness ahead.  It is often an exercise of faith to look only as far ahead as the light permits.  Maybe this is because such circumstances call for humility and submission (admitting that we don’t know what the future holds and relinquishing control of the matter to God).  There are examples of this in God’s calling Abraham out of his native land to “a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1) and Jesus’ calling the first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22).  In these cases, the individuals in question were asked to do one thing:  follow.  Likewise, when we cannot see the beyond the little light we have, we are asked only to follow that light which God gives us.  If we learn, through God’s grace, to be content simply to follow the road as it is revealed to us, we stand to gain a peace greater than any we’ve ever known.