Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 4 Fraternity Life

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 18th Year

Mudpot,

Considering your massive failure last year, I have to say you have bounced back well. Of course, nothing can truly make up for allowing your patient to become the Enemy’s, but you have done well under these difficult circumstances.

That said, let’s get on to your review!

Thing that Were Acceptable

It is quite good that you have gotten your patient into a fraternity. Chi Sigma Lambda serves our purposes beautifully. It is risky to have your patient in a fraternity that might get him in trouble legally as this would be difficult to hide from his parents and home church. This is wonderful, he can be constantly exposed to serious sins without risk of actual immediate harm to him.

When working with a patient in a fraternity, it is important to remember that the purpose of any group of vermin is to provide for the needs met by a church without having them in a church. Loneliness, meaninglessness, and the feeling that one must belong to something larger than oneself, all of these feelings can lead a patient into a church and then into the arms of our Enemy. A fraternity is an ideal counterfeit. It allows for community, purpose, and belonging all while ignoring any substantive parts of those feelings. It is always so delightful to have these men give a hamburger to a poor man, then feel righteous before the Enemy, then go and fornicate.

Be careful to keep your patient busy with video games, pornography, and parties. He needs to be so full of activity that he can ignore the empty feeling in his soul. The Enemy’s Spirit is still there and he is crafty. He can take advantage of the slightest misstep. Be careful.

Didn’t I tell you that the World Religions class was wonderful? Can you believe that those vermin think they are more “thoughtful” and “well-rounded” after hearing that? I have some vacation coming up and I might just have to attend one of those lectures. It would be good for my heart to see them launch themselves into our abyss. The only thing better than a vermin going into Hell is a vermin who smiles as they go!

Finally, I want to say that it was a work of art to see you hold back on sexual temptation for four months. I wondered if you waited too long. But then you hit him so hard that he fell so profoundly back into his love of those naked vermin. You did well. He did what we hoped he would. He was so disoriented by the sudden force of temptation, he doubts whether there is a God. Keep the temptation strong. It is no use to let up now. Keep it coming.

Things that Need Improvement

The Enemy may be a liar, but he was right to say “Pride goes before a fall.” You are way too cocky. You act as though you have won. Not only have you not won, but you have lost his soul. Yes, there are victories to be had, but the most important battle has been lost.

You underestimate how very sneaky the Enemy’s Spirit is. Many a demon has thought they have won only to have that vile Spirit flip everything on it’s head. Some of our most dedicated servants have been turned into some of his most dedicated warriors. Remember the Apostles Paul and John Newton. Their demons were too busy celebrating to see what the Enemy’s Spirit was doing right under their noses. Don’t let your guard down!

I want to equip you with one of the key words for covering up sin. Responsible! We want to promote drunkeness, so we tell them to “Drink Responsibly.” We want them to fornicate, we tell them to responsibly have “Safe Sex.” We want them to murder their babies, we tell them it is “the responsible thing to do.” Surely a baby would rather be murdered than to be poor as a child. Mudpot, make “Resposibility” your refrain. Every time the Enemy’s Spirit is resisting you, try to figure our how to make the sin, “Responsible.”

Overall, this year has been a better one. You have still failed miserably, but this year does some good in redeeming you in my eyes. Keep up your work. Don’t be overeager. The path of destruction is a slow one. Be patient as you walk him down it.

Doubting you always,

-Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

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Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 17, My Battle Plan

chessIn my recovery group, a recent topic was what our plan is for temptation: our battle plan.

When facing temptation to lust, there are so may opportunities to fail. The consensus was that if you don’t have a plan, you are much more likely to give into temptation when it comes.

Honestly, I sorta kinda might have a semblance of a modicum of a procedure that, when looked at a certain way, could be considered a plan. Now my sorta plan has worked OK, but that makes me think that if I had a real plan, it might work better.

Today, I will make a plan.

I have decided to divide my plan up into the three components of a person: Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual.

The Physical

Sexuality is a physical drive. Like sleep and thirst, it serve a necessary biological function and has a prominent physical dimension. So my plan includes:

  • Get enough sleep. I am much more prone to all temptations when I don’t get enough sleep.
  • Have frequent sex with my wife. God has given a proper and good place for sex to be enjoyed. I should drink deeply from it, then I won’t be as hungry for things I shouldn’t have.
  • Avoid going to places of previous temptation. I should not park in front of a strip club (even though I have never gone into a strip club, I have been tempted). I should also avoid adult stores.
  • It is important what I look at. My eyes should linger on my wife and should look away from other women. I have come to believe that I delight in what I look at. So I need to be careful to look at what is good for my soul.

The Emotional

Pornography does not simply fulfill physical drives, it also tries to satisfy emotional drives (though in the end, it leaves you unsatisfied). It feels empowering to have a woman looking longingly at you, even if it is just a video. So it is important to address the emotional needs.

  • Spend time with my wife. It is important to enjoy the right place for real community. It helps me see how counterfeit the buzz from porn really is.
  • Spend time with God. He is my Father and he loves me. If I believe he loves me, it is much easier to trust him with he says, “Watch Out! This is dangerous.”
  • Write my blog. Helping guys who struggle with porn is very helpful in my own struggles.
  • Have Covenant Eyes on every internet access. Knowing that my accountability partners will call with any questionable site visits is often enough to help me resist temptation in the moment.

The Spiritual

In the end, no sin is a physical act. It starts in my heart and comes out in my actions. So caring for my spiritual needs is essential.

  • I need to regularly pray. Talking with God has an uncanny power to reduce temptation. I think it is because I am enjoying a better pleasure in prayer.
  • I need to regularly read the Bible. God created a book that ” is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” I should pay attention.
  • It is very helpful to me to listen sermons online. there are great preachers out there and it is so good to have the technology that I can listen to them .
  • Regularly attending a recovery group. One of the best ways for me to keep focused on resisting the temptations of pornography is to help other men in their struggle. It is really good for my soul and constantly reminds me what I have left behind.

Now that plan is what I will do before I am tempted, but it really doesn’t address what I will do when I am tempted. Really, when temptation strikes, I will do all of the same things I did to prevent temptation. Leaving a tempting environment, praying, talking with my wife, listening to a sermon; all of these are effective in the moment as well.

So gentleman, I would encourage you to write out your plan. It can help you.

God Bless.

-Chip

Jesus, The Real Hero!

Do you ever watch a movie and wish that you knew that character? You admire someone fictional. You know, you want to be more like that. Countless action movies attract many young men looking for…something. A goal. A purpose. Something to admire.

It is my contention that we are looking for Jesus, the real hero.

Now, some of you just gagged. Seriously, the guy with the long white robe and the hippie smile? A hero!?!?

Yes, a hero. What we have been looking for a taste of the good and perfect hero? The real hero!

Jesus is the good and perfect Sam Gamgee who was tempted in every way, but never gave into the ring.

Jesus is the good and perfect Obi Wan Kenobi who, in death, became a thousand times more powerful and redeemed his enemy.

Jesus is the good and perfect Neo who died and came to life again to wake us from this illusion of life to life indeed.
The Lord of the Rings
Jesus is the good and perfect Gandalf who stands on the bridge and won’t let our enemies pass.  
Jesus is the good and perfect Wall-E who shows us that we are slaves to our desires and then sets us free.

Jesus is the good and perfect Captain Miller who trades his life for mine and commands me to live it well.

Jesus is the good and perfect Walt Kowalski who died with no weapon in his hand, but died defeating all out enemies.

Jesus is the good and perfect Aragorn who was the long lost King, returning to rule his people.

Jesus is the good and perfect Belle who loved us when we were unlovable and changed us with his love.

Jesus is the good and perfect Don Quixote who believed we are worth having and that belief made us worth having.

Jesus is the good and perfect Lily Potter whose loves protects us even from our greatest dangers.

Jesus is the good and perfect Marlin who fought the whole ocean to rescue his son.

Jesus is the good and perfect Katniss Everdeen who exchanged herself for someone who could never survive.

Recovery Resources: Every Man’s Battle

It is sometimes difficult to find practical guides for anything in Christian circles. With pornography this can be especially true. Often what you find is a solid theology of how wrong pornography is but not much to help you actually stop looking at it. Enter Every Man’s Battle. This book helped me during a difficult time in my ongoing recovery.

Both of the authors, Fred Stoeker and Steven Arterburn, struggled with pornography. They offer a real and compelling description of their own journeys. There is no punches pulled about the severity of the problem with pornography yet they do speak with a gracious understanding.

One point that the book emphasizes well is that simply failing to look at porn is not a recovery. If I don’t look at porn again but leave my family in shambles, that is not a win. Steven and Fred do a good job of explaining that we must love our wives well.

A good book especially for a guy who is new in recovery. It comes with my recommendation and, if you order in the next five minutes, you can expect to pay nearly the same price as you would in ten minutes.

-Chip

P.S. I don’t make any money from this book. This is just from my heart.

Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 3 Failure!

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 17th Year

You Idiot,

I am walking to my office this morning. I was looking forward to your Annual Report as all of your quarterly reports have been encouraging. Who should be waiting by my door but Lord Foulgrin. He shoves a copy of the Demonic Times right in my face and screams at me for the better part of an hour. There you are, right on the front page! You seem to have failed to mention that your patient has been turned to the Enemy!!!

How could you have let this happen? You imbecile! My voicemail is piling up with several Lords (and a High Lord) demanding an explanation from me as to how I let you let this happen. Of course I have explained that this is entirely your fault and that I would remedy the situation. I have checked with the Office of Skilled Tempters and they still have no openings to transfer anyone to your patient. Among all the terrible facts that have come to light today, the most frustrating is that I will have to continue to work with you!

With our working relationship clarified, on to your annual review.

What has Gone Well

Not a single, solitary, sliver of it.

What has Gone so Very, Very Wrong

Oh, where to begin? For starters, you did not keep your patient away from that neighbor. I told you he was dangerous. As I understand, he was the one who led your patient to the Enemy’s Son. I have already escalated the neighbor to a higher risk level and maybe his death can be arranged.

This is the sort of thing that happens when you try to tempt too much too fast. There is always that delicate balance of keeping the spiral of misery going, but not so fast that the patient feels the need to seek any help. And of course, where does he seek help. That’s right, from the person who can actually offer it. A more skilled tempter would have gotten him help from somewhere else, anywhere else. If he just had to confess his sins to someone, why not to someone who couldn’t help him? Mudpot, what a mess!

You know that place where you reach to touch your patient’s soul and you find the Enemy’s Spirit there. That disgusting vile Spirit resting there. Quietly, looking at you. Knowing you. Yes, Mudpot, one of my only comforts in all this is how miserable you will be for years to come having to be so close to that Spirit. It’s your fault and it pleases me that you will suffer. It gives me shivers to even think of being so close to…him.

But let’s not dwell on everything else that went wrong. I wish to take a pound of flesh off of you but the Demonic Lord’s want to hear what I am doing about this and I need to give them something concrete. Mudpot, follow this plan to the letter.

The Plan

First, we need to work on splitting the “gospel” into its parts. You see, your patient will have a good feel for it right now and we need to damage that. I think for your patient, the best path will be to separate his spiritual growth (good works) from his spiritual birth (salvation) .

You see, most vermin have a hard time keeping both in mind. There is a faction that acts as if the birth is all important and that there is no need for growth (I am using their terminology so that you will have it at the ready). There is another faction that thinks that the spiritual birth is just a way of getting to spiritual growth.

The power of the Enemy’s Plan is that it uses the removal of sins as the fuel for the ongoing spiritual growth. The vermin need to keep both in mind. That, Mudpot, is one of our Enemy’s chief weaknesses. The vermin are terrible at keeping both in mind.

So let’s say you choose to keep that spiritual birth as important and not the spiritual growth. Then, if you play him right, your patient will eventually feel like his behavior doesn’t matter. He can be led to believe that all that matters is that he gets to Heaven and nothing on Earth really matters. This can lead to a truly neutered child of the Enemy. He will be the Enemy’s while essentially acting like one of ours.

But suppose you choose the other path. Then you will emphasize spiritual growth to the point that your patient thinks that they need to keep being “good” to keep their ticket to Heaven. Now you and I know that once the Enemy’s Spirit is in someone they certainly don’t go to Hell but the vermin don’t know that. The goal then is to pile on rules and requirements. Bury your patient in guilt. Help them to keep questioning how the Enemy views them. Many a High Risk has been neutered with a guilty conscience.

Either path is fine but it is key that your patient does NOT hang onto both truths. That is deadly for us. So select which part to emphasize well.

Your report indicates that your patient has selected a local University. While this one was on the recommended list, it was near the bottom. Another failure Mudpot. That is not to say that this University isn’t workable for us. I am sending a list of recommended courses for this upcoming Semester. Get him in these classes. In particular, get him in the World Religions class with Dr. Frederick. He is one of our strongest allies in that school and he will make sure to carefully explain why the Enemy is simply another myth. I attended a lecture of his once and laughed so hard as he repeatedly mocked the truth. It really will brighten your day Mudpot, to attend his lectures. You WILL get your patient in that class.

As far as his sexual temptations. It is fruitless to push too hard right now on temptation as he will then turn to the Enemy Spirit inside him for help. Now is a time to push his self-righteousness. Give him a month or two of reduced temptation sexually. Convince him that it will never be a struggle again. Better yet, get him to make overly simplistic and judgmental statements about how real believers don’t struggle like that.

What you are trying to do is lay the groundwork for his later disillusionment. He has to believe that a true believer doesn’t have to fight hard. Once he believes that, then make him fight hard. He will then logically conclude that he must not be a true believer. At least he will doubt that he has the Enemy’s Spirit. The goal now is to blunt the work of the Enemy’s Spirit.

While this is a profound failure Mudpot and, if I had my way, you would be off this case. There is hope here. We cannot get his soul now but we can profoundly discredit the Enemy’s Son. The stakes are high Mudpot. If you let this High Risk grow and become a threat to the Great Lord, I promise you that I will personally drive a stake through your chest!

With Affection,

Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

Take a Breath Tuesdays: Some Changes to the Blog

blog-changeOver the last months I have enjoyed writing to you. It is a privilege to share my journey and, I hope, point you to Jesus as the real solution.

When I first started I had so much to write about that I quickly wrote material getting several weeks ahead in writing. Over time with work and family that pile has worked down. I would much rather write less material that is of higher quality and if I force it, the quality will go down.

So I will be reducing the days my blog will publish. On Mondays, there will be a Porn and the Christian Guy. On Wednesdays, another Count Vicegrim’s Letter. And on Friday, a more random “whatever was on my mind post. So I will only publish three days a week. there will be some articles that I slip in on other days, but only Monday Wednesday, and Friday will be planned.

Thank you all for reading and following. I hope to continue walking this road with you and keeping the blog interesting, helpful, and glorifying to Jesus.

-Chip

 

Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 16, The Fine Art of Groveling

im-sorryA man walks into his living room to see him wife on the couch, sobbing. He goes to comfort her, but she pulls away.

“I saw your search history on you computer!” she cries.

The man freezes. Caught again. How had he forgotten to cover that up. The shame wells in his soul. It’s humiliating every time. Why couldn’t he just stop looking? He considers apologizing, but knows that will mean little to her. She is so jaded from so many times of catching him. His promises mean nothing to her and he knows it. 

No, he won’t apologize to her again. What was she snooping in his computer for? Why won’t she just trust him? Seriously, isn’t that what marriage is about, trust. His shame turns to anger. He stands and marches out the front door, fuming. 

Left behind is a woman who feels so lost. So alone. Sure she was mad, but she also felt ugly and unwanted. She may not have believed an apology, but that is what she needed anyway. 

Genuine apologies are few and far between. Today apologies are mostly just a way to make our social lives run smoother. The grease of the social engine. Far from being a complete repentance for a wholly unjustified sin, apologies are just the way we make nice.

Jesus did not think so lightly of apologizing.

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
(Mat 5:23-24 ESV)

Reconciled relationships are so important that you should postpone service to God to reconcile relationships. Notice he didn’t say, “Go and say sorry to your brother.” He said, “be reconciled to your brother.” It’s more than simply apologizing, but not less. We need to reconcile: to make things right. A key part of making things right is a real apology. What is a real apology? I’m so glad you asked.

The following is taken from Peacemaker Ministries and specifically from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Listed below are the seven A’s of an apology.

Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)

This is definitely your wife, but may be your kids as well.

Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)

We have all heard an apology that somehow included both the word “sorry” and yet somehow blamed us for it. “I’m sorry this hurt you. But you know if you just took better care of yourself. Maybe I wouldn’t be as tempted to look at porn.” Your sin is your fault. One Hundred Percent your fault. Sure other people can put you in tempting situations, but you and I both know that your real enemy is you. Do not blame other people for your sin and DO NOT blame the victim during your apology.

Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)

A real apology will thoroughly explain the wrong done. It is not good enough to simply cover the information the other person knows, you need to apologize for the things they don’t know about. The actions and feelings they couldn’t know. They deserve to know how much you have hurt them.

Pro Tip: When you confess things they don’t know about, it hurts. But it builds trust when there is little trust available. It’s scary, but worth it. 

Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)

Be sincere. A fake apology is no apology at all.

Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)

Will she be angry? She ought to be. Accept that consequence. Will she cry? She ought to. Accept that consequence.

Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)

This is key. It is not good enough to apologize. Repentance involves a change of behavior.

Ask for forgiveness

Now, ask for forgiveness. If you have done all of the above, the natural next step is to ask for forgiveness.

Your pornography habit is harming you and your family. Those that you have hurt deserve to know and deserve an apology. This is not about whether they will accept it. It is about accepting responsibility before God and man.

The man had walk for about a mile. His anger had calmed and the guilt had reasserted itself. What was he doing? Why was he punishing her. He loved her. He walked back, more slowly, and prayed. 

“God, I don’t know why I keep doing this. This hurts you and it hurts her. Help me. Forgive me. Give me the grace to apologize.” 

He walks in the door. She is still on the couch, just where he had left her. The tears still stained her cheek. 

“I’ve been an ass.” he said. 

“I know.” she said. 

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

“Let me tell you what happened.” he said. 

“I would like that.” she said. 

-Chip