4 Appetites that Change Your Life

Doesn't that make you hungry?I have been thinking about appetites lately. It started back when I listened to the Reformer’s Unanimous message on Principle # 4 again: “You cannot satisfy a fleshly appetite by indulging in it,” a couple weeks or so ago.

It is really a very good principle. There is a lot of truth packed into it.

Let me unwrap a little bit of it for you. It is what I have been pondering on, and putting into practice for the last couple weeks, and I am really excited about it.

There are a few different kinds of appetites, and you can classify them in a few different ways.

If you classify them by the object of desire, for example, you have basically two kinds: good and bad. An example of a good appetite would be reading God’s Word, or righteousness. God clearly commands us to desire and hunger after these things over and over in the Bible. And example of a bad appetite would be sinful sexual lust, drugs, and stuff like that.

Those are obvious examples, but it gets harder to categorize things when you start trying to classify things like healthy food. Is that a fleshly appetite? Is that a godly appetite? Is that an appetite that could grow to be a consuming appetite? It is actually all of those, which makes it tough to see whether it is good or bad. I mean, think about it. If it is kept under control, and it doesn’t become an idol (that is, your appetite for it becomes overwhelming), it is good and right, and should be encouraged. So it seems almost like….

A gradient! Oh no!

You have black (bad appetites) and white (good appetites) and gray (appetites that are… um middly). Gray areas are not good, are they? They just smell of compromise and wishy-washy-ness and relative morality and… bleagch.

So that is why I was thinking about this, and I discovered another way to categorize appetites: by the nature of the appetite.

Let’s illustrate with food, because it is near to our hearts and easy to apply.

Did you know that if you consistently eat food that satisfies your nutritional needs (yes, that is what food is for), you won’t fill your stomach up? It actually isn’t good for you to eat until your stomach is full: you are supposed to eat until your nutritional requirements are met for that meal. If you do it right, your appetite actually turns off and you can’t eat another bite.

Of course if you aren’t eating food that satisfies those needs, you won’t have that effect, and the only way you can feel sort of ‘satisfied’ is to eat until your stomach is full of food. The problem with that is that your stomach isn’t really made to handle that, and it will expand and stretch to hold it all. And your appetite will grow with it. So you will gradually eat more and more at each meal.

What happens then is that you start to eat to satisfy your mouth. You eat because it tastes good going through your mouth, and you keep on sending food through until either your mouth says it is enough, or your stomach begins to complain that it is overloaded, and you stop because you don’t want to face the consequences of overeating.

Unfortunately if you keep going in that direction you will get to the point where it doesn’t matter any more. You begin to despise your food, and your body is screaming in misery at you because it is being abused, but you can’t stop eating. You are eating to satisfy, not your needs, not your stomach, not your mouth, but your appetite itself. You are a slave to your … addiction.

So we have four kinds of appetites there, and the progression between them. Notice that you don’t start down this slippery slope unless you change your intake to something that doesn’t have safeguards to protect you from abusing it.

Here is where it gets exciting.

Our spiritual life has this same division of appetites!

When you are doing something for God, something that God wants you to do, by definition it won’t take control of your life. That is how it is designed to work. You can’t spend too much time reading God’s Word, if you are doing it for the right reasons, because it will drive you to get out and take action on what it is talking about. The same thing goes for prayer or any other spiritual discipline. This also applies to things that God calls you to do, like spending time with your family, having a successful job, resting, or recreation. Each of these things, when done with the right motivation, will fall into place in God’s big picture of your life and will never take over more room than they need.

But if you start focusing on anything for its own sake, it starts to grow, and you begin to toe the line of it beginning to encroach on your other tasks and duties in life. The problem with toeing the line, though, is that it moves. It moves farther and farther out (in your eyes, not in God’s), until you are far away from where God wants you to be, and that thing has become a stronghold in your life.

When that happens you start doing it just for the pleasure of doing it. Pleasure is not a bad thing: God designed many of things purely for our pleasure with no ‘practical’ benefits other than just that. But when the pleasure becomes centered on our flesh, rather than on God, bad things begin to happen. You do it as much as possible, and only stop when you fear the consequences. You sleep until you fear losing your job. You work until you fear losing your sleep or your family. You read your Bible (as a self-righteous hypocrite) until you fear losing other things that might be important to you.

But living like that is like playing Russian Roulette. Every day you take a shot at your head, and the cylinder moves the bullet one place closer to you. You don’t know when the day of reckoning will come, but be assured that it will if you don’t change your course. The closer you get the less and less you care about consequences, and you begin to recklessly throw yourself into it. You begin to hate your life; you hate your passion; you hate your appetite; and you hate everything that tries to drag you from it.

You become like Gollum in Lord of the Rings.

And at the end of that road is death. No hope or way of escape is in that direction.

You have to turn around and run for God, casting out all things that feed the wrong appetites: the ones that are not for His glory. You need to seek out those things that satisfy your righteous appetites: the ones that bring God glory. You need to starve those appetites which are displeasing to God.

And if you don’t.

Hell awaits you.

Yippeee!! Oh, Sorry. (Mature Look)

I'm Twenty!Our family loves parties. We really do. We have tons of traditions that make each holiday and event special. Our Christmas is spread out from St. Nicholas Day on December 6th to Epiphany on January 6th, with many fun events in between (not the least being our traditional daily hunt for Joseph and Mary on their way to the Nativity scene).

Birthdays are no exception. We have traditions for how and what we eat for each meal (including breakfasts and desserts). We have traditions for our decorations, from the banner on the cake, to the scene on the table (generally with moss, ivy, ribbons, and origami characters).

We love to give gifts too. 80+ were given just to each other one Christmas, but we toned down after that. 😛

We love to go all out, but… it gets expensive, and it is tiring to have massive parties at every birthday. Seriously.

So we picked two birthdays that were our BIG birthdays. Those are the big party ones. The ones where we can have a bit of a bigger budget.

But which birthdays had valuable meaning that would justify it?

Traditionally, in a large number of nations, and historically, the 13th birthday had great significance, and rightfully so. That was when the child (supposedly) begins to put away childish things and become a man. That is when his body begins to kick in and mature, and his mind and spiritual development begin to develop more as well. So that was an easy choice for one.

But the other?

16 is when you get to drive (in the US at least). 18 you get to vote, sign contracts, (have legal adultery :P), join the military, etc. 21 you get to drink (in the old days you got to homestead too, but those golden ages are gone… * sniff *).

Bleah. Pretty poor reasons to have a big birthday if you ask me (even if you don’t ask me).

Does the Bible have anything to say on this point though?

Actually, it does. It names a specific age that is special to God in some way (it is rather obscure as to why it is special and exactly how it is special, but it is special).

Twenty.

The Bible has several different ways that it points twenty out as special.

Exodus 30:11-16 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when [thou] numberest them.
13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel [is] twenty gerahs:) an half shekel [shall be] the offering of the LORD.
14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.
15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when [they] give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

(Notice that this is not a tax of any sort: it is a ceremonial offering, just to be clear on that hehe.)

Numbers 1:45 So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel;

Over and over again twenty is the age from which men were expected to go forth to war (with exceptions for fear, betrothal, marriage, etc.).

Numbers 32:10-12 And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,
11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:
12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.

This is perhaps the most important mention of the age of twenty. This time it was a matter of life and death. God was perfectly able to divide it based on plenty of other things, but He chose to divide the nation evenly by this age.

So twenty is an age of maturity, of manhood, of responsibility, and of achievement.

Thirteen is when we are to begin to put away childish things, and begin to become a man.

Twenty is when we are to finish putting them away, and become a man.

So we have seven whole years to learn, to grow, to cast off, and to build up. We don’t wait until we turn twenty to become a man: we finish a seven year process. And a very arduous and grueling process it can be.

But it is not only worthwhile. It is essential, it is crucial, it is vital.

So does becoming twenty make you more mature? No. It is merely a date to measure your maturity by.

And a handy birthday to have a really BIG party on. 😀

CFS: Part 7



Greetings,

At last! The last one!

7. ‘How’ Stage

    1. How does your character display his various moods?

      What are the distinctive mannerisms that show the various moods of your character? What does he do/say when he is pensive, angry, afraid, excited, in love, etc.? Be simple (“whenever he is afraid he stands on his head and yodels” is not quite right), realistic (but imaginative), and natural (would he really do that?).

    2. How does your character live normal life? habits/hobbies/normal life

      What habits guide your character during his day to day life? What are his hobbies and curious interests? What is normal about him? Now is when you get to say that he likes blueberries but not blackberries, and that he likes to look at the stars, or that he hates running. Also, does he brush his teeth? Is he neat and tidy? Or is he like me: toss-it-there-so-you-can-find-it-later?

    3. What is your character’s frame?

      What shape is your character? Is he tall, short, wide, lean, muscular, wimpy? What shape is his face? Does he have a strong jaw, a high forehead, maybe a wide cranium? How well built is he?

    4. How does your character fight?

      What system of martial arts does your character use predominantly? Does he prefer to keep at a distance and cast projectiles, or use a sword and spear at closer range? Does he prefer striking to ground fighting? Does he fight at all? What sort of tactics does he use?

    5. What are your character’s features?

      Everyone has certain distinctive characteristics that are unique about his or her face and body. These make up what we immediately recognize as that person, even before we hear their voice. Most people realize this, and spend time filling out endless character charts of the hair and eye color and etc. of their characters. There is a lot more. George MacDonald said no description of a character was complete until you had described, among other things, their nose. Therefore, we have compiled a short, and by no means exhaustive, list of features to consider in your description of your character: hair, eyebrows, facial hair, eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, cheekbones, ears, chin, hands, fingers, and complexion.

    6. How does your character speak?

      Does your character have a deep, high, whiny, cruel, or cold voice? Is there any particular turn of speech that is distinctive to him? Does he ask questions in a particular way, or does he neglect a certain grammatical rule? Does he have an accent? Is he proper, witty, or laconic? You get the point.

    7. What does your character wear or carry with him?

      What is you character’s choice of clothing? Of course, he will end up in situations that will dictate his garb, but what about when he is able to choose? Does he dress very austerely, or very casually? Does he like foreign clothes, or maybe he likes to make his own (odd, but you never know)? What weapons does he carry about with him? What heirlooms are important to him?

  1. How does your character look? What are the distinctive characteristics of his appearance? This is the last stage, and you can at last have fun with what your character looks like. Yes, it is important (just not as important as the rest), so go be creative and artistic!

There you go, our fractalling system for characters. We are very proud of it. Though, to be honest, we have not yet succeeded in sending one of our characters all the way through it. I tried once, and ended up with a very deep character, and a novel to boot, before I got to the sixth step on the first stage. Oh well. I hope you will benefit from reading this very long system, even if you don’t use all of it.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

CFS: Part 6

Greetings,

This is the next to last one.

6. ‘Where’ Stage

    1. Where does your character’s national culture come from?

      Figure out the nation that most influenced his lifestyle by its culture. Tell what got impressed into him. Study how his nation became assimilated into his blood.

    2. Where is your character located in his nation’s creeds or castes?

      Each nation has its own system of hierarchies. Some nations focus on a division by your religion, others by your occupation, others by your level of success, others by other random, various things (maybe bearded people are ostracized…). How does this affect your character? And where does he fit into it all?

    3. Where does your character have his allegiance to?

      Some people are from one nation’s culture, but his allegiance is to some place completely different. If his nation and another went to war, which side would he be on? What would he do? Does he despise patriotism entirely?

    4. What is your character’s education and expertise?

      What does he know? What has he learned? Does he value learning? Does he like to learn? Is he an expert on ancient hair follicles? Or maybe extinct pigs teeth? Or just possibly something rather ordinary, like rat health.

    5. What race or tribe does your character come from?

      Hmmm, rather self evident there. But think about it. Elves are rather different from Dwarves by most accounts, and French people are very different from Chinese people I am told. Centaurs are definitely different from Griffins.

    6. What language does your character speak?

      Ah, language. I love languages (or maybe I just love talking). But language really affects your character and how he thinks. Study his language, and see what it might tell you about him. The definitions of terms define the debate. The definitions that a man uses define his thoughts.

    7. What occupation does your character have?

      Is your character an artisan, a priest, a carpenter, an architect, a scholar, an assassin? How does he view his job? How does he work? Is he skilled and professional? Or is he slovenly and lazy? How does he view other jobs? Is he content?

  1. A person’s location, mentally and physically, affects him greatly. You need to study out how a person’s environment affects him and his life.

See you next time…

CFS: Part 5

Greetings,

Yet another, we are almost done!

5. ‘When’ Stage

    1. When someone first meets your character, what does he know about him?

      First impressions are very important: what do people notice first about your character? A lot of times it is not representative of his real self, but it is very important to understand this aspect of his character.

    2. When someone works with your character for a while, what does he know about him?

      Working with someone really shows some interesting things. You learn different things about him than you would in other ways. It is almost like he is a different person, but not really. How does this apply to your character?

    3. When someone goes through a tragedy with your character, what does he know about him?

      Tragedies mold lives in ways nothing else can. It knits together, tears apart, and builds very strange relationships. How does your character handle tragedies with other people?

    4. When someone is an enemy of your character, how does he perceive him?

      Imagine that you only ever saw your character through a gauze of anger, distrust, and deceit. What would stand out to you? What weaknesses would you notice and try to exploit? What sort of an effect would your character’s personality have on you and your devious schemes to destroy him?

    5. When someone has been a friend of your character for years, what does he know about him?

      When a character finally opens up more than before, what do you see? What can you tell about him by adding up several years of experience with him? What rare occasions have enlightened you to some otherwise obscure passage in his life? How does he treat you?

    6. When someone has known your character all his life, or is married to him, what does he/she know about him?

      What are the deepest things that can be known about your character? What never comes to light, except to those extremely close to him? Even if no one is that close to him, say ‘What if’ and explore.

    7. What is there about your character that no one knows, and never will know?

      There are things about your character’s history and personality that only God and himself know. Sometimes not even he knows them. There will be very few things like this that you will be able to ferret out, and they will probably not go into the story, of course (it is possible to do it, but it needs to be done well). But they will lend depth to the rest of him. I would say this is hardest part.

  1. It takes time to get to know people. And different people let others into their lives at different speeds and in different ways. This is a very important part of you character that you need to develop. It is dependent on many of the other things that we have already figured out, but it still has a lot of creativity left in it. Finding out the timing of your character is very important, so let’s go.

Keep going if you are trying this!

CFS: Part 4

Greetings,

Next…

4. ‘If’ Stage

    1. What if your character’s religion was different? If your character believed something very different than what he does, how would he act with the other religion? If he was a catholic, what kind of catholic would he be? If he was an atheist, what kind of atheist would he be? If he was a Christian, what kind of a Christian would he be? Would he hold to this or that denomination? Would he tithe, go to church, or just act the same as before?
    2. What if your character lived in a different world?If your character grew up in our world (if this is a fantasy story), what jobs, skills, habits would he have? What if he grew up in Narnia or some other fantasy world that someone has created? What would be different about him, and what would be the same?
    3. What if your character had a different history (family, friends, etc.)? If your character grew up in a broken home, what would he be like if he grew up, instead, in a close-knit home? If his family had been from a different religion, or immigrants, or richer, or poorer, what would be different? If that girl hadn’t turned him down, if that friend had betrayed him, what would he have done?
    4. What if your character was a different gender? If your character is a boy, what would he have been like if he was a girl? If your character is a girl, what would she be like if she was a boy? This is a really hard one, but it provides some very interesting insights into your character, and into the opposite gender from you as well. 🙂
    5. What if your character had a different occupation or abilities? What if your character was an archer instead of a swordmaster? What if he was a policeman instead of a doctor? What if he was a king instead of a businessman? What if he was skilled at wrestling? What if he liked art?
    6. What if your character was from a different race or nation? What if he was a centaur? What if he was an Elf? What if he was from a different nation? If you are not doing fantasy (and of course there is only one race on earth), you can still look at the very different cultural people groups of our world and change that.
    7. What if your character looked different? Let us say you know that your character hates being short: what if he was tall? Change his appearance. If your character is a girl, this has more of an effect, I think, but not much more.
  1. This stage will force you to violently separate your character from your perception of his circumstances and attributes: from everything that he has no choice about and some that he does. You will need to imagine what your character would be like if he was in a different place or if he was in a different situation or if he looked different, etc. You might not know what your character really is in many of these questions, but that just makes it easier. Simply try various combinations of these variables and see how your character changes, and what stays the same.

Have any of you got anything yet?

CFS: Part 3

Greetings,

Next part…

3. ‘Why’ Stage

    1. What axioms and definitions influence your character’s decisions? Everyone has certain unique definitions and fundamental assumptions that act as the foundation for his beliefs. For example: materialists define science in a way that excludes God, and this affects their use of science dramatically: they will not allow a divine foot in the door. What are the assumptions, dogmas, and biases that your character has as an integral part of his nature?
    2. What does your character believe about origins and how does that influence his decisions? What does your character believe about where we all came from? What does he believe about creation? How does he view his beliefs? How does it affect the way he acts and makes decisions? Does he believe that a god created everything, or does he believe that everything made itself? Was it long ages ago, or only recently? Does he believe that we cannot know?
    3. What does your character believe about afterlife and how does that influence his decisions? What does your character believe about what happens when we die? Do we just vanish into oblivion? Do we have another chance? Do we reincarnate? Are we faced with a judgment day? How does he see this as affecting his life? Does he care?
    4. What does your character believe about law and how does that influence his decisions? What is your character’s source of morals? Who does he hold to be the authority? Whose commands does he respect? Does he value authority at all? Does he consider the Bible (or whatever is in your world if this is fantasy) to be the revealed Word of God? Does he let any of this impact his life or decisions?
    5. How does your character’s family influence his decisions? What was the situation with your character’s family? How did his parents bring him up? Did he know his parents? Was he the oldest, the youngest, an only child? Maybe he was abandoned, and didn’t know his parents? These all affect a person a lot, and will provide experience from which he draws to help him decide how to react to the world. How does he allow these circumstances to influence him?
    6. How do your character’s friends influence his decisions? Does your character have friends? What kind of friends are they? Where are they leading him? What do they want him to be like and act? Are they close, or distant? Do they like him, and how does he perceive them?
    7. What religion does your character subscribe to externally? Not everyone actually believes in the religion that they claim to practice. We have already settled what your character believes, but what does he subscribe to, or practice? He might be an atheist, but maybe he acts like a catholic because he likes the traditions. Why does he act religious? Does he act religiously at all?
  1. Everyone has a worldview: a set of beliefs that defines how they make their decisions. Everyone also has a history of circumstances that works with those beliefs to influence how and why they act the way they do. These two facets of your character make up the Why of their actions and decisions. You need to understand this part of your character intimately or else he will be very shallow indeed. Remember that not everyone is consistent or predictable (actually, no one is), so do not be too picky about making sure that he makes complete sense. The important part is that he makes sense to himself.

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