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Apr 21, 2009

The Shut Up Chip

My wife and I were flipping through the channels on the television one afternoon when we came upon a well known talk show. Ordinarily we avoid such shows because they usually do only one thing, talk. This episode, however caught our attention. Unlike the usual disturbing chaos that we have learned to associate with talk shows, this one had an unusual spirit to it. Everyone in the studio audience was crying. We decided to watch for a while and see what was up.

Sitting on center stage was a small boy who looked to be about nine or ten years old. He was the only one on stage. Behind him was a picture of an elderly gentleman wearing a not actual boybaseball cap. The picture was blown up so that everyone could see from where they were sitting. On the side of the stage there were seated about thirty men. Their ages ranged from sixteen to around forty years old. The men were standing up one at a time, approaching a microphone in the aisle and thanking the little boy as tears ran down their faces. I wondered what this boy had done to deserve such praise.

Minute after minute the story began to unravel. This small boy was on a little league baseball team. The picture of the man behind him was a photograph of his coach. Evidently this coach had molested this small boy. Now we all have seen this story played out a million times over, but something was different about this particular show. As we continued to watch, we were stunned and amazed to find out that the group of men sitting on the side had all been molested by this same coach. Remember, these men ranged from ages facelesssixteen to forty. Every man there had been on this little league baseball team when they were young boys. This coach had been molesting the boys on his team for years and years. Some, who had been violated twenty five years ago, were now grown men with wives and children of their own. Each of them had kept this secret to themselves because they thought they were the only one.

So what about the boy on the stage?

This was perhaps the most moving point of the story. You see, he was the one who told. Twenty five years of child molesting came to a screeching halt because of this one small boy. He was being lifted up as a hero among men. And he was! As each man took the microphone with tears rolling down his cheek he would thank this boy for delivering him from something that had kept him bound for years. Many of these men had kept this to themselves for over twenty years. It was heart breaking to see how many men had been molested as boys, by this one little league coach.

As I continued watching and wiping the tears from my eyes, the Lord spoke something into my spirit. "This boy is My Moses." I no longer saw a frail little child sitting in an oversized chair. I saw a giant that God had used to deliver countless people from a prison of solitary confinement.

Because of his willingness to break out of the cage, he became the tool that God used to deliver all the others. This is precisely what happened in Egypt. Moses was the first to leave. When he did, God raised him up to deliver all his brothers and sisters in bondage.

The Spirit of shut up

My wife and I invited some friends from our old church over for dinner several months ago. It was nice to catch up on their lives and the lives of so many people we knew "back then." Midway through our conversation, it was apparent that the man had something troubling him that he wanted to talk about. In fact, the meeting was set up for that exact purpose. They both were finding themselves more and more uncomfortable in the church setting and they were beginning to ask questions.

I could see by their eyes that they had been deeply hurt and were frustrated to death with the way the system wasn't dealing with their questions. As he began to explain their situation, something kept stopping him mid-sentence. From where I was sitting, it actually looked like there was a "shut up device" implanted in his brain that would light up the moment he started to talk about his feelings. He'd say, "It's just that....." or "Sometimes we just want to.....,." "We just feel like......," "We don't want to sound......" Every time he started a sentence, he would stop before he could finish. I literally had to piece broken sentences together in order to come up with a roundabout idea of what he was attempting to say.

When his wife cut in and tried to explain what her husband couldn't; the same "shut up device" tripped her words up as well. I felt like I was on the $100,000 pyramid, trying to guess a subject based on one- or two-word clues. Halfway through the evening, I wanted to scream out, "Things that piss you off!!!" It was truly frustrating. They reminded me of someone who was about to testify against the mafia and had been threatened the night before to keep their mouths shut. Both of them were filled with a mixture of confusion, frustration and fear.

It was heartbreaking for us to see how deeply their ability to communicate feelings had been affected. They simply couldn't get it out. The stress release valve that all normal human beings have, had been taken away completely and they become emotional quadriplegics. I could feel the bondage the moment they entered my home that evening and by the time they left, my wife and I were so grieved we just sat together in silence.

I've seen this more times than I care to remember. Usually the people who become infected with this paralyzing mentality are the most sincere people in the world. In fact,their true sincerity is the very thing that made them vulnerable to this mindset in the first place. They volunteered to get the "chip," because they didn't want to trust themselves and accidentally blurt out something that could cause harm. It's a mentality that says ‘don't ever dance or drink or go to movies because eventually you might be tempted with something bad.' Why even take the chance? Just throw it all away and never deal with any of it.

The "shut-up chip" is developed the same way as other mind-controlling mentalities. It starts out good and ends up bad. The opening principle is one that we all agree upon: Don't gossip! Then we begin to add to it to ensure we don't even get close to gossiping. It's a gradual process and after about 50 years or so, it turns into "don't talk."

The subject of gossip in the Christian world is very much like the subject of idolatry. We read in the Bible that we shouldn't make an idol and bow down to it. That's pretty cut-and-dried, isn't it? Today, however, idolatry has become anything and everything. We're told that our spouse, our children, our home and everything in it, our job, our friends, our hobbies and even our dreams can now fall under the headline of gossip.

Like the subject of idolatry; teachings on gossip have grown to include any and every form of human speech and communication. Little by little, this teaching makes its way across every facet of our lives until we can't even tell our spouse how our day at work was without fearing that we somehow crossed the line and sinned against God. The result is that we now have thousands of well-meaning Christians living a third-world existence because their freedom of speech was stripped from them.

I have watched it take at least five years to recover from the psychological damage. They have to learn how to speak all over again. Their minds must relearn how to flow at a steady pace without getting tripped up by fear and uncertainty. The most terrible thing of all is the fear that people attach themselves to when they mistakenly talk aloud about someone or merely offer a few simple facts about a friend or relative. Never speaking again actually becomes an option, after prolonged years of suffering through the modern-day teachings.

I am convinced that almost 21 years ago, there was an all-out campaign launched with the specific purpose of shutting people up for good. Gossip teachings aren't the only missile launched against human expression. Evangelicals and Pentecostals in this generation are terrified of "speaking" anything for fear that they may be claiming some awful curse or disaster. Rather than just speak what's on our minds and allow normalcy to govern our flow of thought, we force ourselves to skip over things, give long disclaimers and fearfully rephrase sentences so nothing bad will befall us, due to our words. Christians today actually fear words. That's not a good place to be, especially when we now have the Word living inside of us.

Some people have gone so far as to say the exact opposite of what's currently happening in their life because they think it will rise to heaven as an act of faith, thereby forcing what they spoke into existence. I had a friend who believed like this. He was looking for apainting job several years ago. I owned a painting company and we were ready to hire someone. I called him and asked him if he was still out of work. He responded by saying "Nope, I've found an excellent job I'm happy Jesus' Name." "In Jesus' Name" threw me off a bit. I found out later that this was his way of claiming that he found a job, before he did. The sad thing is that I went on to hire someone else because I really thought he had found a job. He and his wife had to move back home a month later because he still couldn't find work.

I think what happened with our religion is that we just had too much time on our hands. We've developed an obsessive-compulsive theology. We can't leave "well enough" alone. Rather than accept a simple truth and go with it, our theology obsesses over it and begins to build a mountain of things in and around it, in an effort to make absolutely certain that we never cross the line. Before long, our religion looks like a padded cell with bizarre markings all over the walls that mean absolutely nothing to anyone who is normal. We end up developing an entirely new language that is based on words we aren't allowed to use and expressions we've memorized.

My advice is this:

Talk about things. Don't worry that you'll be calling down curses or gossiping. Talk about speak upwho hurt you, what they said or did. Express yourself. Don't worry about it. Be real. Give yourself credit for your intentions. Intentions are everything. The heart behind the words is key. It's not okay to omit words in an effort to keep from sinning. Express yourself. Could you imagine trying to catch a rapist when the person he raped refuses to speak of it? I've found that when I speak out my feelings and don't worry about crossing some spiritual line, I actually set people free. Others who are in bondage to something they are afraid to speak about, finally find liberty because someone else had the guts stand up and to talk.

We are free believers because we are the ones who spoke.

Darin Hufford

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  1. Gravatar

    Excellent post brother Darin! Can you imagine our Lord not speaking up and being real...?

  2. Gravatar

    RIGHT ON Darin!
    You reminded me of the first time one of my sons said they were f*ing upset about something...I was SO pleased that he shared his deepest hurt with me...and did so using a well chosen, attention grabbing word (and this after going to a christian school all his life). Only then did I realize how hurt he really was.
    Thanks again Darin.

  3. Gravatar


    I tried to talk to someone yesterday about everything that bothered me about this prayer ministry I'm involved in and ended up saying nothing at all. I know this because she agreed with everything I said and she's the leader of the ministry. GOD! Remove my shut up chip!!!!!
    By the way, I think you are secretly spying on me cause each blog you post lately is following EXACTLY where I am. And not like a week ago. It's play by play.

  4. Gravatar

    I couldn't agree more! I find that I still do that, and have to push through it. The "shut up" chip! ha! that is such a great way to term it.
    I get more the, "Well let's speak truth and be positive, sister." When all I needed to do was just talk... there is such a thing as gossip and then there is such a thing as being real, transparent, and asking for prayer.

    Great great article! Thanks for sharing your heart on this matter!

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    The "shut up chip" kept me in a job from Hell for 6+ years because Jesus didn't say anything when he was persecuted on the way to the cross, so we're not supposed to say anything when we're abused, right? I left the church & rediscovered my inner advocate who SPEAKS UP now for those who can't -- and for myself as well.

    Fast forward to this week. My part-time job resembles the job from Hell more and more each day. Today included one of the most humiliating business meetings I've ever had. But I've learned from the past. I'm going to quit Thursday. I'm much more afraid of being spiritually broken like I was in the job from Hell, than maybe being financially broke. Thanks, Darrin, for helping me find the courage to speak up and defend myself again. The timing of this post is perfect!

  6. Gravatar
    Ralph Harris

    Brilliant. Timely. Spot-on.

  7. Gravatar

    I re@@ly @@joyed t@e ar@@cle D@r@n. B@t my sh@t@p c@ip is pla@y@ng up a@d I'm n@t s@re i@ th@s m@ke@ mu@ch se@nse.

  8. Gravatar

    Darin, this is a very important article. The authority structures in church today have robbed people of their ability to voice concern. I ran into this when I left the IC 12 years ago. Many leaders have their kingdoms they are protecting so any voice of concern is typically met with the scriptures in Matthew 18 and others about not being a gossip or being divisive. There is a huge difference between slandering someone maliciously behind their back and having a legitimate concern that needs to be discussed with other brothers and sister. I feel that in the IC behind this "false teaching" on Gossip the prohpetic voice of Christ is often silenced by leadership.

  9. Gravatar

    Paul corrected the Corinthian brother in sin because of the "gossip" of Chloes household. On top of that, that still small "gut feeling" voice that something is not right is often the Holy Spirit doing his Job by guiding people into all truth and away from error, often God is actually trying to bring correction to the group and leadership could actually be silencing Christ! My advice is that if someone has a concern with authoritarian abuse in the church talk to others in the church about your concern to see if others feel the same. I will put $100 on it that they do. You are being your brothers keeper by doing so. IF IN FACT ABUSE IS PRESENT THAN SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS !

  10. Gravatar
    Sharon Ramsey

    Thank you so much for speaking out what I have felt for a long time about fear and how it is holding the church back. We have long let fear of doing the "wrong thing" keep us from doing God's work. In the beginning of the Gospel of John Jesus is referred to as The Word, so how can words be bad. We just need to pray more often and if we do not have malice in our hearts then more often than not we are going to be ok. Thank you brother for putting this into words.

  11. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Thanks Sharon.

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    Chris Pack

    Thanks for writing this, Darin. So true. When we have a conversation with our neighbors it's like they are feeling one thing and saying another. The wife is thinking, "My life sucks. I hate it here. We are broke. I need adult conversation." But, she's saying, "I am so blessed. God wants us here right now. We have to give out of our lack to be blessed by God. I love being at home with my kids all day." All the while it looks strained and fake. How sad that she can't just break down and say what she feels.

  13. Gravatar

    I get pissed off just remembering some situations and how silent I was. My cousin always said "it's better to get pissed-off than pissed-on". I believe he was on- to something.

  14. Gravatar
    Joshua Guild

    This article hit at the right time because this week my family got kicked out of the small group we have been attending. I guess they don't like Free Believers. Well... so much for having one foot in the institution and one foot out.

  15. Gravatar

    WOW Joshua ! So much for claiming that small groups are the same thing as organic fellowship.

  16. Gravatar
    Chris Eason Ashby

    Years ago when the "name it and claim it" bondage was going around, a friend of mine with 3 lively boys rearranged their room, putting the bunk bed by the window. I pointed out that if they started wrestling around as boys do, one of them could easily put a foot through the window. She rolled her eyes at me...and a few days later, that's exactly what happened, one boy kicked his foot through the window and had to get a couple stitches. She 100% blamed me for "confessing it" into being, she was really angry with me. Why didn't she just "confess" the cut as healed?

    When I spoke up against error of the proof-texted "bless and curse" fad, I was told I was in rebellion which was the sin of witchcraft and that God wouldn't allow a witch to live. I didn't stick around to find out what came next

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    Joshua Guild

    Chris.... THAT WAS FUNNY!

  18. Gravatar

    the most frustrating thing is that in the beginning i enhanced the shut up chip, i was glad to have it! ... until i met somebody who didn't have the chip, and was more real than anyone ever before, she messed up my chip and now i need to learn to live without it while my chip still has some connections that need to be severed ... so HARD!

  19. Gravatar

    I have seen this occur in many different and sad situations when I worked in the IC. Saying anything that would "correct" or admonish the leadership was prohibited, but the leadership themselves would say horrible things about others in the office, and it made my skin crawl. I am new to this NewBelievers way of life, and I know I have a long way to go, but I know that stipping people of their right to speak out and be heard is wrong, on any level. I am so glad that boy spoke up and set the others free. this must be what is means to know the truth and the truth will set you free.

  20. Gravatar

    Are church members really the selfish, malicious, contentious tools of satan that I was told we were? This is why I remained silent, for to question authority or express any idea other than the imposed agenda proved the accusation true. I left in silence, mourning for those beloved people who literally signed up for the shut-up chip. I wonder of this boy who spoke out and of those to whom he spoke. I assume his words were to someone who truly loves him, values and respects him, to one who held is interests at heart. If I am unwilling to hear the truth of another's experience in Christ or life in general, how can I ever hope to know him? If I do not know him, how can I claim to love him?

  21. Gravatar

    I used to submit to a teaching that said "Do not defend yourself...let God be your defender." That left me open to all kinds of hurts from church people. Sometimes tears would just fall from my eyes because you can't say anything back or explain a situation.

    Good blog, Darin.

  22. Gravatar

    Every now and then I have switched off the "shut-up chip" and been left feeling foolish or thinking I did more harm than good. And always I felt I had to show grace and forgiveness to those who took advantage of me. Actually I am just getting a bit mad that I have let some stuff go that I should never have let go, but really I was pretty powerless in the situations (and I guess they knew it which makes it all the more awful).

  23. Gravatar

    the one who stands up is always the target of stones, (yea Stephen). Stand anyway.

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