Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 10 Graduation

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 24th Year

My Dear Mudpot,

I’m going to regret saying this. I know I will. You are making real progress Mudpot.

Don’t make me regret that.

So lets get to your review.

Successes

I have to say I never expected the success you are having with causing depression in your patient. It seems that he is prone to depression and you have a gift for causing it. In a way, this is a real failure of yours because you waited so long to exploit it. Hopefully you didn’t wait too long.

It is so delightful that you were able to drive him back to pornography in his depression. It is so delightful to see the vermin medicate their pain with sexual images. The short term relief he feels when looking at the images will only drive him deeper into despair. I want to caution you on beating on his conscience too hard. It has the potential to drive him deeper into his depression but it also could drive him to repentance.

It is far better to find a way to burn his conscience out. Try to work our old staple conscience killers like “Nobody’s getting hurt” and “God would want me to be happy.” He is in a culture that sees no problem with pornographic images but scandalizes sexual affairs (I still can’t figure out how the Western Culture Department pulled that off). If we can destroy his conscience, we have almost won.

As he heads to his seminary graduation, it is important that he be driven deeper into a double life. Seminaries are well designed for encouraging a double life and the seminary he attends is even better suited than most. He is intellectually sharp and the faculty is much more interested in a strong theological argument and being culturally savvy than they are in being morally right.

It makes me chuckle as I write this. Mudpot, this is when our job gets fun.

These months leading up to graduation are crucial. If you can get him back into the slow spiral downward now, I suspect you will be able to continue it into whatever church work he has afterward. There is a real opportunity to neuter him.

But the risks are great. Should he be recovered by the Enemy’s Spirit, he will be much more dangerous. He will sympathize with sinners and yet struggle to resist his own sin. A vermin with his potential could be…I don’t want to think about it.

Pull out all the stops to get him to become sexually involved with another female vermin. Your work driving a wedge between him and his wife has been most fruitful. With them having sex less often, there will be more opportunity for temptation. Be ready.

Your work using his depression to drive him into video games, very good. I am more old school than that. Video gaming has never been my favorite temptation. Maybe I need to modernize a bit. Obviously it has been very effective with your patient. He is failing to carry out his responsibilities and then complains when his wife notices and brings it up. You are masterful in guiding him to use words like “controlling” and “nitpicking” and yet he avoids working on the fact that he is lazy. It is lovely to see.

Failures

I am pleased to say that these are fewer than in previous years. They are still serious and need addressing.

Remember that even thought you are having success with overwhelming him, he is still in a seminary and there is still a great deal of the Enemy’s Book around. He is often reading the book and the Enemy’s Spirit can, at any time, use those word to crush you. As much as you can, keep your patient away from the Enemy’s Book.

Additionally, you seem cavalier about the Enemy’s Spirit. He is smarter and much stronger than you are. He is patient and cunning. He is merciless and cruel. He will surprise you and overwhelm you. Be prepared for him. If there is one thing I have learned in my millennia of  work it is that he is never to be underestimated. Be very cautious and vigilant. Watch for his subtle movements and be ready to battle them.

Finally, be very aware that your patient is still claimed by the Enemy. There is nothing you can do to change that. It is not in our power to win him back. There are always plan to find a way to reclaim a vermin that the Enemy has taken, but for now, we cannot do it. The Enemy may have plans for this High Risk that we can’t anticipate.

Overall, your work is good. Don’t screw it up.

-Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

Same-Sex Attraction, the Uncool Sin

191141339_1380817739In the church, we can at times have cool sins and uncool sins. We often give a pass to the sins we like and heartily condemn the sins we don’t. This is even more apparent in the world of sexual sins. We will more often give a pass to a sexually active adult unless they are sexually active and gay. We act as though heterosexual sin is somehow less sinful that homosexual sin.

This difference reaches its tentacles into the world of pornography. The church will often look thoughtfully at a man who struggles with pornography but will be repulsed should he admit it is gay porn. Far from loving that man, we back away. He is a leper and we want to keep our distance.

We need to be very careful to keep the broader cultural debate about homosexuality from being a barrier to loving people. There is nothing mysterious about their sin. They, like all of us, are twisted by sin into desiring things that will harm them. Like us, they need a savior who will take away their sin. More than being like us, they ARE us.

There are many men and women walking in our churches today with a secret. They struggle with same-sex attraction. They feel that there is no home for them in the church. This is tragic. That is the hospital turning away the sick. That is the food shelf turning away the hungry.

There is an excellent article by a courageous man named Nick Roen called An Alternative Script to Same Sex Attraction. He argues that the men and women who have same-sex attraction need the community of the church (and certainly not to be treated as lepers). His willingness to step out and discuss this is exceptional. Most of us are not so brave.

There are not cool sins or cool sinners. There are only very broken fools who shake their fists at God and demand their own way. There are only two types of people in the world: bad people and Jesus. Let’s not get caught up in whose sin is the most vile and love people where they are. Let’s confront heterosexual AND homosexual sin with grace and truth. We are not the healthy reaching the sick. We are the sick pointing to the doctor. Let’s make sure our hospital invites all sick people to come and meet the doctor.

-Chip

Please Remember to Sin Responsibly

sin_responsibly_gstringSin has a marketing problem. You see, defying the God of the Universe has negative consequences in our lives. Be it sickness, hurt relationships, and that sense that we are not meant to be this way, we all feel the ongoing consequences of sin.

Yet there is in our heart a desire to do what we want AND not feel the consequences. It would be great if some marketing person could help us feel like we could do both. Clearly God would not want us to simply stop sinning. He wants us to be “happy” and “free” to sin.

Enter, the beer industry. You see, it is bad publicity to have their customers hitting station wagons with kids in them. There is nothing unbiblical about a beer, but the Bible clearly speaks against drunkeness. Unfortunately, the drunks are their best customers. What is a beer company to do?

Never fear, there is a solution. Miller tells us “With Great Beer come Great Responsibility.” The answer isn’t to avoid drunkeness. It is “Don’t Drink and Drive.” It is to avoid the consequences of sin without addressing the sin itself.

Now, I should be clear, you shouldn’t drink and drive. I don’t want to get hit by the theologically sound drunk who knows that he shouldn’t be drunk in the first place. All sins are evil, but some have much more profound consequences.

Sex outside of marriage also has a public relations problem. Sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies have all caused so many problems. So we make sure to have “Safe Sex.” But, should “Safe Sex” fail, can still do the “Responsible” thing. We can murder that baby because it is inconvenient.

There is real joy in obedience. The most responsible thing we can ever do is avoid sin and cling to Jesus. While the world is wresting with the most effective ways to sin without consequences, we have a true hope. Jesus offers a hope beyond responsibility, he offers right standing with God.

-Chip

Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 2 The Slow Spiral

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The Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 16th Year

My Dearest Mudpot,

What a year this has been? Your success with the patient has been so thorough that even I am getting the attention of the High Lords. The Great Lord himself asked me about your progress and looked pleased at my report. If you were here, I’m sure they would speak with you as well, but I am willing to carry this burden for you in your absence. Someone has to go to parties around here.

No reason to beat around the vermin, let’s dig into your review.

The Better than Average

You have a real knack for arranging sexual deviance. How you have him looking at pornography daily and still his parents don’t suspect. it is simply a work of art. Vermin are so stupid. They are no smarter than the dirt they were made from. I must say I am envious of you being there to see him longing for those images every moment he doesn’t have them and then racing to every opportunity to look at them. You are doing a masterful job of slowly allowing sexual pleasure to prevent enjoyment of all other pleasures.

It is wise of you to avoid real sexual encounters for this patient yet. He can live under the illusion of “purity” because he has not exchanged human slime with a female. If you play your cards right, he could even have a sense of self-righteousness about his sexual restraint! In addition, this allows you to continue define sex by what he is looking at in those pictures. The more he separates sexuality from any real living vermin, the better.

One of the purposes of the sexuality of the vermin is to bond them to their “spouse.” We have a big advantage if we can use that process to bond them to images, then to fantasies, and finally get them hopelessly bonded to things that don’t exist. Let your imagination run wild for a moment, Mudpot. One day, if you do this right, your patient will long day and night for some sexual fantasy that can never be fulfilled. That is the sort of times a demon can really enjoy.

You have done quite well with his church attendance. As I did more research on his church I became concerned that the preaching might lead him to the Enemy’s Son. You can imagine my pleasure at reading how tuned out he is during the sermons. It really is amazing how those filthy creatures are able to hear words that would rescue them from us and they entirely ignore them. Despite your success, be vigilant. This is a area of concern.

I’m glad you were able to direct the patient to his father’s pornography supply in the home. This is an invaluable asset. Now, should his father discover what the patient is doing, he will have no credibility to correct it. It is also so helpful that the father hides it from the mother. That way we can be sure that he will be very uncomfortable talking about it with her as well. This is real teamwork between you and their demons.

Finally, the way you have fostered a sense of superiority in him is simply stunning. Our goal is always to bury them in shame and guilt or to make the feel superior to others, above the rules. Our preference is always to have them above the rules as this discourages them from ever seeking forgiveness (which the Enemy claims to offer).

Some Areas for Improvement

You are too cavalier about his association with that neighbor vermin. We have been working on the neighbor for years and have made only minimal inroads. That man is not to be underestimated. Keep you patient away from him. We have begun efforts to have that man hit by a car, but with no results. Be careful!

Your report indicates that you wish to be more eclectic in your temptations. I know it can be boring to keep hammering away at his sexuality at the expense of other delightful ways to play with him. Remember, the goal is always to keep the vermin away from the Enemy’s son! As much as it might feel like you are on offense, we must always work with the weaknesses the human presents to us. Consider it this way, after years of diminishing enjoyment of sexual pleasure, your patient can be brought to desperation. Then a whole buffet of delight is open to you. Think of the depression, anxiety, decimated relationships, and poverty. These, my dear Mudpot, can be yours. But only if you continue to capitalize on the weaknesses your patient actually has.

I know the temptation to wish you had a patient with certain weaknesses. I too miss a good flogging and a burning at the stake. The brutality of past days is sorely missing from these Western humans. Really, the only reliable place to find it in high concentrations today is in their abortion clinics. I promise you that if you press this weakness to it’s fullest potential, it will be worth your waiting. So for your patient, keep working with his weaknesses toward self-righteousness and sexual sins.

I am growing tired of your whining about the vigilance of the patient’s mother. If she is the worst difficulty you have, then you have been blessed by the Great Lord. Stop thinking in terms of how closely she watches and work this to your advantage. Work on your patient’s ego so that he does not see this as loving, but controlling. Try to have him make up some evil motive for this behavior. You are complaining to me and missing this opportunity.

One thing you need to start preparing for is this vermin’s college plans. I have compiled a list of the most favorable colleges. For your patient we will need to be careful that the college is respectable to pacify his parents but to also make sure that there is teaching that will make believing in the Enemy to look simplistic and stupid. Finally, there needs to be enough of a “party scene” to pull your patient in, but not so much that his parents might hear that reputation. If possible, try to get your vermin into one of the top four listed, they are the best for our purposes. The top listed college is ideal because it has Christian in the name and will serve our purposes and will leave your patient buried in debt by the time he finishes. A win in every respect!

Overall, this was a better than satisfactory year. Your patient is beginning a slow spiral that could end very well for us.

Your Affectionate Supervisor,

Count Vicegrim

Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 12, The Beginning of Hope

Hope is pretty illusive. Many times looking at my heart with its dark dry cracks, I saw no reason to believe there was life under there. The creeping guilt constantly gnawed at me to give up and enjoy the filth I loved. A quiet inner voice saying, Just look at the porn. Why fight it? I knew I would never be free of it. Wouldn’t it be better to at least enjoy the beautiful naked women without all of this nagging guilt?

Alas, my heart was hard and cracked, but God had placed life there that simply must break through. The green leaves of it pushed through again and again despite my ongoing temptation and failure. It was God who would not let me go. He had given me that life and he would see it through.

That is the nature of hope. I do not hope that Chip Gruver is such a good chap that he would never walk away from God. I hope in a God who loves me and won’t let me go. In that vein, I want to share with you reasons for you to hope. Don’t trust in yourself, that is hopeless. Trust in Jesus who loves you, there is hope beyond imagining in Him.

Have Hope Knowing God is Patient with You

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” Matthew 12:20-21

We gentiles need a special promise to have access to a God who specifically chose the Jews for himself. God was very kind to us to send Jesus and give us hope. Are you bruised and and bending under the weight of your sin? Good, Jesus will not break you. In fact, in the name of a Jew (Jesus) we will have hope.

Have Hope Because All Sins Will be Forgiven

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30

Usually these verses are a source of fear. We ask, “have I committed the unpardonable sin.” That is a topic for another day, but look at that small phrase at the beginning. “All sins will be forgiven the children of man.” Your sin is gross. That vile feeling in your gut is justified. But Jesus knew that there would be a sinner like you and he didn’t flinch to say that those sins can be forgiven. And not just some of them, all of them! 

Have Hope When Your Heart is Heavy

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Many times we feel these unbearable burdens because they are, in fact, unbearable. Sometimes we struggle to carry things that only God can carry. I often try to carry my own sin. It crushes me because I was never strong enough to hold it up. Jesus, on the other hand, is very strong. He is gentle and kind. He will walk with you. There is real rest with him.

Have Hope Because a Weak Person Like You is God’s Kind of Guy

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

God is not impressed by those who have it all together. He is here to get glory from losers like you and me. He is going to show the world that weak and foolish men like us can be used to show how magnificent he is. Are you weak, foolish, low, and despised? Great! God is looking for you.

Hope in Jesus Alone

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13

There are two options, Jesus and hopelessness. If you are trying to get better without Jesus, you will die in despair. So what if you beat porn and rot in hell? No, hope only in the grace of Jesus. If you are trying to win God over with good behavior sexually, I promise he isn’t impressed. Don’t try to win him over, stand next to Jesus who has already won him over. Right next to Jesus is the most hope filled place in the universe.

-Chip

Porn and the Christian Guy: Part and Commandment 10, Thou Shalt Not Covet

My Neighbor’s Ox (Which I am not Coveting)

When I start to read the Ten Commandments, I usually get bogged down with guilt before I get to number ten. No murders or anything, Just the first two are big ones. So when I read, Thou Shalt No Covet, my first thought is, “Great, I’m good there. Ummmm…what is covet?”

Because it made the big ten, I suppose I should know what it means. Dictionary.com is says that covet means:

1.to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others

2. to wish for, especially eagerly

3. to have an inordinate or wrongful desire.

Well, it is possible, maybe just once or twice, that I could have had an inordinate desire for something some time. Fortunately, I don’t need a website to clarify this. The commandment has specific things I am not supposed to covet.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;

Well, I’m good there. No problems coveting houses.

 you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,

That one could be a problem. More on that later.

or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey,

I have committed a lot of sins in my life, but coveting my neighbor’s ox is not one of them.

or anything that is your neighbor’s. Exodus 20:17

Crap. That make this command much more difficult. I can’t ‘inordinately desire’ anything that belongs to my neighbor. In that case, I have coveted a lot.

The key focus for this blog would, of course, be the part of coveting your neighbor’s wife. At a minimum, this would cover a large number of women who are stripping themselves online. Many of them are married and God specifically said you should not desire to have them. For that matter, it would cover those ladies that you think would have been a better pick than your wife. Do not covet them.

The thrust of the commandment is the flip side of Paul’s instruction:

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-7

We are not called to simply not covet, we are called to be content with what we have.

So back to wives. This means that if your wife is short, you are into short women. Is she skinny? Then you like skinny. Maybe she’s more plump. Then plump is really what works for you. Is she 20? Then you are into 20. Is she 90? Nothing better than 90! Whatever your wife is, that is your preference. You are responsible to love her as she is and to not pursue anyone else. YOU ARE TO BE CONTENT WITH HER!

I can hear the objections now. “But Chip, you don’t know my wife. She’s a witch on wheels and looks like a toad.” If a toad is how she looks then you need to pray the grace of God that you start to like toads. It wasn’t my idea to tell you to be content. You could argue it out with Paul, but he’s dead. So maybe you should explain to God why you are exempt from being content with the wife you have. There is not an exception for you, but there is grace for you to live out this command.

I know this isn’t easy. All of us struggle with contentment. But consider the joy of being content. Imagine how it would feel to be happy with your wife’s looks and the things you have.

I mean it, imagine for a moment.

Doesn’t that sound great? You can be free of the gnawing desire for more and better! That’s why Paul calls contentment and godliness GREAT GAIN! You would be the wealthiest man alive if you were both godly and content.

So the battle for contentment is a key part of the battle for joy. This command is not a burden. It is God commanding that we be happy! What an ogre up in Heaven? Telling us to be happy. The nerve of him. Why if he really loved me he would give me what I want, not make me happy with what I have.

Such bickering is common in us men and it needs to end. Take a moment and be happy for the grace of God to you that is you wife. She is God’s gift to you. Be content with her and with what you have.

-Chip

Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 6, The Rest of the Story

In the weeks since i wrote My Story more than one person who knows me well have had two responses. The first is to be very relieved when they find out that I am not in the throes of a terrible addiction. The other group has repeatedly said, “Chip, you need to let your readers know that you are overcoming this.”

This is my answer to both groups.

I supposed I should start where I left off in My Story. I joined that support group at Ebenezer Counseling in Knoxville, TN. That group of men were a real source of grace for me and taught me a key lesson I am still learning to this day: give grace and truth.

There is a movement out there that seems to believe that grace and truth are somehow opposites that need to be balanced. In my own recovery, I have found that they are complimentary, but only in the cross. Don’t choose between grace and truth. embrace both wholeheartedly. Tell the sinner they are sinning with no qualms but be sure to love them well when you say it.

But I digress. I attended that group for over a year. Most of my journey away from The Seven Lies I Believed happened in that time. Eventually Sam and i moved to Minnesota and started a family. I spent many months in MN having good success in resisting the call of pornography in my life. I still had Covenant Eyes on my computer and my accountability partners were still keeping up with me. But I was not part of a group and i really should have been.

So I crashed. You could describe me as a binge porn user. I tend to hold out for a while and then binge. Shortly after my crash my ever more sensitive conscience started to beat me. I decided to pursue a group in MN and made a few calls. I found a group and started attending.

It sucked.

I don’t mean to impugn the character of the men in that group. They were sincere and sincerely looking for hope. Hindsight helps me see it is not that the group was that bad, it was that I was spoiled. That group in Knoxville was exceptional. So I did the exact wrong thing. I quit. What i should have done was pursue another group. The Twin Cities are a large metropolitan area and I’m sure there was a good group available. I simply lacked the maturity to look farther.

Following this was a few months of no group support. i had limited success on my own but I was clearly not ready to survive in a tempting world. In God’s good grace, he didn’t make me find a group. He brought a group to me.

I attend Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (North Campus for all you Bethlehemites out there). Sam and i decided that we would join one of the Bethlehem Small Groups. That group was very different from my Knoxville group. These men weren’t nearly as confrontational but also carried a taste of Heaven with them. I have come to truly care for and be cared for by those men.

There were certainly failures during the years with that small group, but they were few and short. I really feel like I grew up a great deal with those men. When I had my most recent failure that I mentioned in My Story. I wrote an e-mail to those men and Sam.

If I were to summarize my journey since that group in Knoxville, I would say that I have grown up a great deal. I was recently asked how I would rate my hope on a scale of 1-10. I said that i was at an 8. God is healing me and I feel certain that he will keep healing me. My journey has been one of looking at pornography every few hours to now looking every few months or years.

Recently, Pastor Jason Meyer has been preaching through 2 Corinthians and two verses have been very close to my heart recently.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 1 Cor 1:3-4

The comfort God has given me is this: He has shown me ridiculous mercy in my struggle with pornography. On pondering those verses for some time, I felt like I should start a blog where I chronicle my struggles and use it to comfort you with the comfort I have received.

And that is how God placed you in that chair reading these words right now.

-Chip

Up Next: Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 8, The Shame We Feel