On Saturday, I drove to Winter Haven as part of a church expedition. A friend of my pastor has established a new church up there. We went to help get it going. The church is called New Dawn Ministries of Winter Haven. For Google purposes, I will add more information. The pastor is Ricardo Cardona, and the address is 225 Avenue O Southwest, Winter Haven 33880. They’re not really on top of the business of publicizing themselves, so I figure this can’t hurt.
The event was planned a long time back. I wanted to go, because I’m dying to leave Miami. Central Florida is the area that draws me, although I’m not completely sure that’s where God wants me. When I learned about the trip, I started searching for homes in the area, just so I could look at them. The prices are ridiculous. For a hundred thousand dollars, you can get something really nice. For twice that much, I could get a home which would be almost exactly what I dream of.
When the time to leave drew near, Tropical Storm Isaac popped up. I kept watching it. I’ve been through so many hurricanes, I know exactly what you can and can’t get away with, so I knew I had to stay informed. As of the day before the trip, I thought everything was okay, so I got up on Saturday and hit the road at 6:30.
There is nothing like leaving Miami. It makes me feel like there’s a fist inside me, clutching my guts, and it opens its grip as I pass through Broward (the next county to the north). It’s a beautiful sensation. I was alone in the truck, but as I drove, I wasn’t bored for a second. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I had a choice. One route goes up the coast, via the Turnpike. The other goes by Lake Okeechobee and the sugar country. One route is longer but faster. The other is slower but more interesting. I took the fast route up and the slow route down.
Florida is a fairly ugly state, at least in the southern part. Most people don’t realize that. The southeastern part has been prettied up. Over the decades, the swamps were drained, the native plants were killed off, and nicer plants were brought in. Virtually none of the best-looking trees in southeast Florida are indigenous. People brought in palms, fruit trees, poincianas, banyans, seagrapes, and other things that looked better than the native scrub.
Once you get away from the big clump of cities, you will see nasty-looking cabbage palms and palmettos all over the place. The ground is full of sand spurs and ground spikes. The grass is brown. There are weeds everywhere. The ground itself tends to be rocky and sandy. The wildlife looks ratty and mangy; maybe the heat and humidity is hard on animals’ coats. We get a lot of bald dogs down here.
Even though the landscape deteriorated as I drove, I felt the pressure inside me releasing. The sight of the horizon was like a drink of cool water after a day in the desert.
During the second half of the drive up, I started seeing wonderful things. Bush stickers. Romney signs. Big billboards offering help to women considering abortion. Just writing about it, I feel hope rising inside me. It reminds me that not all of America is corrupt.
This is one of the things I love about the rest of the state. I guess it’s the main thing I love. Miami is full of nasty, aggressive people who–I don’t know how else to say it–remind me of hungry pigs. They root, root, root, and they accumulate everything they can, and then they die. That’s what life is all about in Miami. Generally, though, Florida isn’t like that.
Down here, even the Christians can be trying. My old church was full of Obama Democrats. Christianity is not a political movement, but liberalism is a political movement which is incompatible with Christianity, and you can’t say that about conservatism. It’s impossible to be a good Christian and support politicians who condone the slaughter of the unborn, the dismantling of Israel, increased taxation on churches and charities, sexual perversion, and the exclusion of Christianity from public life. It can’t be done. But there are plenty of Christians who do not understand that, and it’s fatiguing to be around them all the time.
Liberal Christians tend to use socialism to defend themselves, as though confiscation and redistribution were the same thing as giving from the heart. They don’t have the spirituality to realize that human beings do not get credit for the government’s giving, especially when the things that are given are taken from others, by force. God has always been against big government, as the story of the anointing of Saul shows. We were supposed to be ruled by godly men and the Holy Spirit, not a secular vote-buying machine.
It’s funny, but when I persuade people to start praying in tongues more, they start becoming more conservative. They start to see that Obama is an enemy of Israel, and that his support for perversion and unrestricted abortion is wrong. The Spirit opens people’s eyes. Christians who aren’t operating in the gifts of the Spirit don’t have the capacity to understand anything properly. They’re like puppies whose eyes never open.
As Winter Haven drew near, the landscape changed. Suddenly the grass looked better. There were lakes everywhere. There were hills! I hadn’t expected that. It was surprising. It looked much better than nearby areas like Frostproof. And while it was definitely a rural community, they had stores. There was a mall. It wasn’t like living in the middle of Montana. A person living near Winter Haven can find a Lowe’s when he needs one.
When I got to Winter Haven, I was not able to check into our hotel, because the pastors had not worked things out with the clerk yet. I went to the church to check it out. It was in a storefront. Guess what I saw a couple of doors down. The local GOP headquarters. On the other side, there was a pizzeria. Anyone who knows me will understand how funny this is.
As I walked across the parking lot, a stranger waved his hand at a car and started talking to me as though he had known me all his life. He pointed out that the car had an Obama banner inside it, and it was parked by the GOP headquarters. I smiled and told him it was offensive. It was so strange to be among friendly people, so soon after arriving. Miami is not like this.
I met the pastor. Like my current pastor, he’s a former Coral Gables employee. They both did something involved with codes or zoning. I forget what. That’s hilarious. These people have always been my sworn enemies. You can’t do anything in Coral Gables without ten permits. I call the place “Karl Goebbels.”
They sent us out to evangelize. I hate evangelizing. After a few minutes of listening to me talk about Christianity, most people become convinced that it’s the one religion they need to cross off their lists. And I always wonder if I’m going to get payback for refusing to open the door for peddlers and Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I will evangelize if my church asks. We broke into teams and drove to a seedy area and knocked on doors. Nobody punched us. One lady gave a highly response to one of our teams. She asked if we prayed in tongues, and a volunteer told her we did it “all day.” The lady said she had been praying for such a church for a long time. She was thrilled to hear about it.
Back at the church, we ate lunch, and I talked to my friend George. He’s a member of my church. He’s a minister, although he’s not a paid employee, and he’s not full-time. He’s full of the Holy Spirit. When I first showed up at the church (in Miami, not Winter Haven), he told me he had a word for me. He had received it before he knew me, probably after a friend had told him I might switch to New Dawn. He told me that, even though my life up to that point had seemed chaotic, I had been on a path God had chosen for me, and it was all preparation for the things I would have to do. He said I was headed for a financial breakthrough, and that I shouldn’t worry.
In Winter Haven, we talked some more, and he said things were going to blossom in my life. God was removing the obstacles and hindrances.
He’s right about that. I’m already seeing it in my prayer life and my music. Moving from my old church to New Dawn was, itself, an example of God’s restoration and liberation. I had begun to feel like a slave in my old church, building bricks for the Pharaoh’s self-aggrandizing monuments. At New Dawn, I receive all sorts of good things, and I make progress. I hear prophecy. I get new supernatural tools that break down walls. I change, sometimes during the course of one service.
I went back to the hotel and checked in, and I worked on my music for a while. I started checking the weather. It didn’t look good. They were calling for 30 mph winds in Miami, as of 6 a.m. Sunday morning. Gusts would be in the fifties. You can’t drive in that. I started to feel that I was not going to be able to stay, unless I wanted to be stuck up there until Tuesday. I conferred with other volunteers, and I called my dad. He was down here rigging his enormous boat up for the wind, without my help. If I could not get back in the morning, he would be down here alone, possibly without power. And he would have to feed my birds.
I let everyone know what was going on, and I checked out around three hours after checking in. The church was going to have an inaugural service in the afternoon, and I didn’t want to miss it. And I had a list of homes I wanted to drive by. But I prayed for guidance, and I believed the Holy Spirit was telling me to go. I expected the others to follow me after the service.
The drive home was astonishing. I went through the sugar country. It was a nicer drive than the coast route. But the thing that amazed me was the presence of God. I turned off the stereo and spent the whole trip in prayer. I kept feeling God’s power and presence rushing through me, scaring me at times. Sometimes I just talked to God. Sometimes I asked for things I believed would advance his goals. And his faith–not mine–kept telling me the things I mentioned were DONE. God had put his seal on them. It was overwhelming. I told God I felt that as of that day, my time as a citizen of earth had ended permanently. Eventually you reach a point where you are so far into the kingdom, you know (and feel in your heart) that you can’t turn back. And you are so disgusted by the way the world is, you wouldn’t want to turn back if you could.
As it turned out, the storm was not as bad as predicted. I drove home in clear weather. There was a strong wind south of Lake Okeechobee, but I didn’t see real rain or gusts until I hit South Miami. I felt bad about abandoning my church, but given the information that was available at the time, I had done the intelligent thing. And I had asked God, and I had obeyed what I perceived to be his answer.
The storm has been very strange. It didn’t come as close to Miami as the forecasters said it would, and it took longer for the winds to arrive. And the intensity has taken a long time to build. It was supposed to be calmer this morning than it was last night, but it’s worse. It’s really nasty right now. Torrential rain with gusts that push the rain sideways. It’s supposed to quit this afternoon, but I’m wondering.
They’re saying Isaac may wipe out New Orleans, and that its arrival will disrupt a perversion celebration known as Southern Decadence. Gay men put on their own version of Mardi Gras, and they expose themselves in the street and so on. Some preachers think the storm is a punishment from God. Of course, New Orleans citizens see the festival as a big economic boost. A plus, not a curse.
Perry Stone pointed out that “Katrina” comes from a root meaning “to cleanse.” The word “catharsis” comes from the same source. I know a young man from New Orleans. He says the post-Katrina atmosphere is different, as though God really did cleanse the place. Maybe there is something to it. “Isaac” means “laughter.” Not something I would want to think about, in the wake of cleansing, in a city that continues to welcome sin. If I were rebuilding a city, I would not want to find out that God was laughing at my efforts. Psalm 2 says God laughed at Satan and his principalities when they crucified Jesus. They thought they were breaking God’s bands off of themselves, but in reality, they were nailing themselves to the cross.
In 2005, Southern Decadence had to be cancelled because Katrina arrived two days before the festival’s opening date.
It’s funny that gays are so candid about what they’re doing. They’re not even trying to disguise it. They’re calling the festival what it is: “decadence.” How much more open can rebellion be? I guess soon we’ll be seeing things like, “The San Francisco Blasphemy and Hate Festival.” Once your conscience gets seared, you lose all perspective.
I can’t cover everything that has happened since my last blog post, but this will have to do for today.