Fall 2022: RickThomas.Net Becomes LifeOverCoffee.Com
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Biff is an angry man. But what’s instructive about his anger is that nobody from his church would believe it because everybody knows how much he loves God. Just ask them. Well, don’t ask Mable. She married Biff. She knows the man behind the mask. Don’t question his children either.
Biff is outgoing, the life of the party, and fun to be around. Those who think they know Biff do not know him the way he needs them to know him. On the other hand, Mable has felt the brunt of his former manner of life, particularly his anger on more than one occasion. She and the kids know the transparent Biff, a pleasure seeker who carefully manages his reputation.
Biff is a self-focused person. Life revolves around him. Having fun and being the center of attention comes naturally to him; it is his strength. Most of his Christian friends have not discerned this narcissistic pattern in him. They think he’s a fun guy because God saved him from sin, and Biff loves life.
Since becoming a Christian, Biff did stop smoking weed, though Christianity offered him a “cleaner kind of hedonism.” It’s his passion for pleasure that has never changed. Though he loves God, he does not know how to live anything but a double life. The narcissism that has always been his identity had the rougher edges rounded by the sanitization of his new Christian life.
Biff’s friends do not know these hidden secrets because they only get the “life of the party Biff.” Mable lives in both of Biff’s worlds. She “goes to church” with him, where they serve in ministry together, and she has to live with him at home while doing damage control for Biffy and Biffina, their two children.
Biff is what you would call a living, breathing dichotomy: he is loved in the public arena while feared in the home. He is an unbelieving believer (Mark 9:24) who is unwilling to trust God with all of his life. Though God has genuinely saved him, he does not work out his salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13), which raises the all-important question: what is Biff’s core problem?
Biff wants his life on his terms. When things go according to his wishes, he is an okay guy—in public and private; there are peace and harmony in Biff’s two worlds. The bad news for Biff is that nobody can manipulate and package their lives according to all their preferences. Life rarely cooperates the way we want it, and it’s in these “un-cooperating moments” of his life that he struggles the most.
The un-cooperativeness of life is antagonistic to the dream world where Biff is the self-appointed king, everyone is complying, and he is “living large” right smack in the middle of it all. If only he could keep things contained, packaged, managed, controlled, and squished inside his preferred “easy come, easy go world.” Of course, he would have to be God with all the accompanying “omni-attributes” to manage the complete expanse of his life.
The bad news for Biff is that he is not God, and he cannot control his life according to his desires, dictates, and demands. We know this because when things begin to tilt outside of his control, he unleashes his anger—the trusty manipulative weapon of the insecure person who feels out of control. Each time he unleashes his anger, his world props back upon its axis and everyone falls in line.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8).
As you might imagine, this cyclic pattern of “in control, out of control, and using anger to get back in control” can wear on anyone, and Biff feels the adverse effects of attempting to rule his world self-sufficiently. God never intended for any of us to assume that kind of dominion over our lives and relationships. We are to die to ourselves and live for others, not amplify ourselves to the point of dictatorial rulership.
Biff must come to terms with his anti-God worldview, including he must surrender his desires to God. He has lived in a self-gratifying, self-focused, all-about-me world all of his life. After God regenerated him, Biff kept the parts of his past that he loved while tacking Christianity onto it, leaving him with a “suppressed hedonism.”
But it got worse for Biff. He married Mable and then had children, which brought more complications. He wanted it all, e.g., selfishness, Christianity, wife, and children. Biff lives with a slow burn, but you would never know it because he only gets angry when he cannot get his way—a private sin that keeps his public reputation in tack, but if you disrupt his pleasure-seeking, you will see the darker side of Biff.
The weight of being “god of his world” is too much for Biff, which ques the temptation to find escapes from the endless self-reliant loop of his own making. After he becomes weary from running his world, he takes a break by escaping to the temporary pleasure of his secret porn addiction.
Porn is the “perfect medication” for a self-centered, self-gratifying, self-focused, pleasure seeker like Biff, who cannot maintain tight-fisted control of his world. He can alleviate his frustration and general weariness from running his world with a momentary escape into the “perfect drug” of self-gratification. Porn not only gives him an escape but permits him to stay in power.
As you do the excavation work to get underneath these surface issues, you’re going to hit the most vital question of them all: what’s wrong with God? Biff has a significant problem with the Lord because he consistently and relentlessly chooses himself as god over his life rather than God. When there are only two choices before us, and we consistently choose one over the other, we’re making a clear commentary about how we think about the one we selected and the other we rejected.
(Moses chose) to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:25-26).
There is something about the Lord that is not satisfying to Biff, or perhaps there is something that he does not understand about God. Ultimately, Biff is not fully trusting God with his life, choosing to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He is refusing to trust God, and that issue needs sufficient exploration so he can repent.
Part of Biff’s problem is that he’s angry with God. His anger is one of the more subtle forms like “disappointment with God.” You cannot be angry, frustrated, or disappointed with the Lord and trust Him in all the ways that you must to have peace with Him. There are “pockets of ignorance” in Biff’s understanding and practice of who God is. Ignorance is a faith killer (Romans 10:17).
Someone must confront him and carefully disciple him into a fuller understanding of who God is so he can experience authentic joy. Biff has chosen the “lesser sublunary pleasures” of this world to satisfy him, which do not satisfy at all. Solomon was clear about chasing mirages in the desert, hoping to find pleasure outside of the Lord.
All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing (Ecclesiastes 1:8).
While Biff understands the gospel enough to become a Christian, he has not lived in the good of the gospel after God regenerated him. He got his ticket to heaven punched, but Biff never learned how to live in the good of the gospel, post-salvation. It’s like he came through the salvation door and sat down.
By showing up at his local church meetings and participating in Bible studies, he has learned a lot of Bible information, but he is bereft when applying the Bible to his life. If Biff is serious about change, there is a long road of hard work ahead of him.
If Biff follows the call to action for this chapter, he will experience actual change. This process will also test his sincerity regarding transformation. Genuine repentance is not something he can manipulate—a nasty little habit Biff has to get what he wants. If he is serious about change, this process will not only bring it, but measure his sincerity.
1 – Live the Gospel: Biff needs to understand the depth of what Christ did for him on the cross. This exercise is not a one-and-done tip for Biff to add to his knowledge base. Biff needs to surround himself with gospel companions. He needs gospel-centered books, music, and courageous friends in his life. The glory, amazement, and beautiful truths of Calvary need to be his constant companions.
2 – Memorize the Word: Biff needs to begin a systematic memorization plan that will allow the Word of God to wash over his soul. Christ cleanses us by His Word (John 17:17). Biff needs a severe cranial cleansing (Ephesians 5:26).
3 – Practice Repenting: Biff needs to come to terms with what it means to repent. Repentance is the only means for removing sin in a person’s life. Biff has been living in sin for so long that his conscience is dull.
You have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:11-14).
4 – Become a Servant: Biff’s life has been mostly about himself. He has not successfully modeled the gospel, which he can do by serving others. When Biff honestly comes to terms with what Christ did for him on the cross, he will experience brokenness by that cross. Once the gospel breaks him, his heart desire will be less about what he can get and more about what he can give (Mark 10:45).
Biff must know that he should never move on from these four things. While there are other things to do, he should never move on from these four.
If Biff will humbly submit to God, seek help from the community of faith, and do the hard things as outlined here, he will be able to break the chains that are currently gripping his heart.
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