web analytics

Archive for the ‘Fat’ Category

Fast Food, Transformed

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Let Ronald do the Work

I have decided there is such a thing as food being too good. You don’t actually need to levitate every time you have dinner. Food that’s too good will tempt you constantly. It will be hard to leave alone. You’ll eat more than you should.

That being said, I have a great tip for people who love McDonald’s breakfast food.

I saved some gravy from Thanksgiving. Today before I made my weekly trip to Mickey D’s, I heated the gravy up. When I came home, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I dipped Mickey D’s biscuits in gravy while I ate.

This is probably the worst thing you can eat, short of pure nuclear waste. But it was phenomenal. I give credit where credit is due; Mickey D’s makes excellent biscuits. Add gravy, and you have something truly wonderful.

I don’t plan to do this again, because it’s way fattening, but it was a great experience.

If you don’t know how to make gravy, I can help you out.


1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp. grease
1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. sage
dash of dry white wine
salt to taste

You will want a couple of tablespoons of grease from a Thanksgiving turkey or breakfast sausage or bacon. Something like that. If you use sausage, forget the sage. The white wine is optional.

Get your grease hot (about 4 out of 10 on a digital stove). Fry one level tablespoon of flour in it. You don’t need to burn it. Just get the raw taste out of it. Stir it and smoosh it with a spatula while you fry it.

Add the milk and seasonings. Keep stirring until the gravy bubbles. It will thicken. Add a small amount of wine and cook the gravy until the consistency looks good. Remove it from the pan immediately.

That’s all you need to know. If you like it thinner, use less flour.

This should be more than enough gravy for two people who aren’t trying to kill themselves.


Like a Bat Out of the Oven

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

I Would do Anything for Food, But I Won’t do That

I made my first meatloaf the other day, and I felt so bad about the results, I just made another one. I feel that I can now declare victory.

The first loaf was pretty close to the “prizewinning” Quaker Oats recipe, which is basically hamburger, oatmeal, salt, pepper, eggs, and onions. The “sauce” was ketchup doctored very heavily with brown sugar, Worcestershire, and vinegar.

I figured, “Hey, it won a prize.” But I didn’t think about two facts: the loaf contained a lot of oatmeal, and the company that awarded the prize sells…oatmeal.

It was dry, as if there were something in it that absorbed water…gosh, if only I could figure out what that was.

I got some new info in my comments, and I tried again.

This time, I decided to add onion soup mix, which is one of the most incredible cooking ingredients there is. Usually I’m against prefab seasoning, but this stuff works. I also used around 25% pork, and I replaced half of the oatmeal with panko bread crumbs. I doubled the eggs, and I added plain old water, because I knew the oats would dry the meat. I mixed ketchup and Heinz 57 into the loaf. Finally, I did something really bad. I added half a stick of butter and mixed it in.

Butter makes everything better. Everything.

I got some of the ideas from the Lipton soup box, which had recipes on it. I also jacked up the salt and pepper, and I added fresh garlic.

I baked the loaf at 350 until it hit 160 on the inside, and then I smeared some ketchup and 57 on the outside and let it bake on.

It’s really good. It’s juicy; fat pooled on top of it as it baked. I had to drain a lot of it. The seasonings are just right.

It’s hard to know what to do with a meatloaf, because they’re full of fat. If you cook it in a deep pan or dish, the fat will surely rise up and cover it. I decided to bake it on a broiling pan, with a sheet of foil under the meat. The fat was able to run off that way, and the sheet kept it from sticking to the pan. When it was done, I let it cool for an hour or so and slid it off the foil into a Corningware dish.

I was not happy with the mashed potatoes I made last week, either. I had never made bad mashed potatoes before. I figured the potatoes my local store was selling were too dry and mealy. This time I fixed it by replacing one of the russets with a big red potato. They’re starchier. And I really socked the butter to it. Very nice.

Now I should have meat and potatoes for the next five or six days, and I’ll also supply my dad with it, so he doesn’t eat junk. Not too much junk, anyway. Okay, not JUST junk. There is a limit to what I can do.

The pork firmed the loaf up and added a lot of flavor. That was a good move. I kept the oats in because I need to get rid of the giant can I bought, and because it has fiber.

I try not to hit the carbs too hard, but if you cut back too much, it can make your brain fog up, so the potatoes were necessary. To me, carbs are like insulin. You don’t consume huge unlimited amounts of them; you just have a dose when you need it to make you feel better.

I’m not a huge meatloaf fan, but I like cooking a big meat dish once a week to help me avoid cooking for several days, and meatloaf will fit right into the plan. I think it has lots of potential for improvement. It’s probably possible to make a meatloaf that’s truly outstanding, if you think about it and work on it. I don’t know if I want to do that. I want it to be good enough to eat, but not good enough to tempt me.

I can picture a really excellent version with brown gravy, perfect for serving like a hot roast beef sandwich. No. No. I will be strong.

Thanks for the helpful comments.

I Don’t Accept Cookies

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Buckets of Pure Cocaine Would be Safer

The weight-maintenance-cookie plan was a disaster of Hindenburgian completeness. I have firmly concluded that it is not possible to adjust my calorie intake using cookies made from my own recipe.

I was doing just fine using Oreos. I ate three or four a day, just to take the edge off and restore my mental functions. I figured there was no reason better cookies wouldn’t do the same thing, cheaper and more enjoyably.

The batch of cookies I made from scratch is completely gone. It vanished in two days. I could not stay away from them. They taunted me They jeered at me. And now they are no more.

Lesson learned. Night before last I picked up a new bag of Oreos, and yesterday I put them to use. I went through a grand total of three. Oreos just don’t have the temptation punch my own cookies have.

The oatmeal cookies I made were stupendous, but now I can’t have them. One more recipe I can’t use. Dang it.

I wonder if I could come up with a recipe for mediocre cookies. Probably not. It seems like anything that comes out of a home oven beats anything that comes from a plastic bag.

Oreos have gone nuts. Things got weird thirty or forty years ago when they came out with “Double Stuf” Oreos. Someone at Nabisco realized fat people were only buying the cookies for the filling. Now they have “Mega Stuf.” Next they’ll have “Pure Stuf” or “Gallon Can o’ Stuf.”

They have birthday-cake-flavored Oreos now. Wonder what that’s like. Do they come pre-sprayed with spit, to simulate the blowing out of candles?

American consumers are not hard to please. The buying habits of chubby ladies prove this.

When I was a kid, Nestle started selling raw cookie dough so incredibly lazy people could use it to make cookies. At some point we all accepted reality: fat girls were buying it to eat out of the tube. Now you can buy ice cream and protein bars made to taste like raw cookie dough.

Prefab cookie dough is very popular, but the thing is, it’s not good. I don’t know what Nestle puts in their dough to serve as shortening, but I’m confident it’s not butter. The dough tastes sort of like toothpaste with sugar in it. People love it anyway.

My cookie experience shows how things really are: the supermarket junk we think is good is actually pretty lame. We like it because we’re lazy. The British have a saying: “Hunger is the best sauce.” I would say laziness is second best. When you get off your rear end and make real cookies, or even cookie dough, you understand the depth of the compromises you’ve made in the past.

God has given me more strength to turn food down, but there are some things I still have to stay away from. I can’t keep bags of fun size Snickers in the freezer. I can’t keep miniature Reese’s cups on the coffee table. And I can’t keep homemade cookies anywhere near me.

I feel like he’s helping me get off caffeine again. A long time ago he showed me that caffeine destroys peace. I quit drinking it. But when I had to take over my dad’s business affairs, I jumped off the wagon. The boredom of using Quickbooks and straightening up chaotic files was more than my mortal frame could stand. Now things are more orderly, and I have to give up the crutch. I do not want to spend the rest of my life feeling peppy and cheerful until noon and then crabby and crotchety for the rest of the day. I don’t want to have to take Benadryl to get to sleep.

God changes peoples habits, and it seems like he really hits hard in the beverage department. You find yourself cutting way back on alcohol. Sugary sodas turn into occasional treats. Fruit juices are just sugary soda without the gas, so they’re not the answer. That leaves coffee and tea, right? Wrong. Caffeine.

Today I’m going to get a bag of decaffeinated coffee beans. I can’t drink room temperature bottled water at breakfast every day. I am not ready for that.

I’m still fooling with the CNC mini-lathe. I got it to function with Mach3, the most popular home CNC machine-running program. I haven’t been able to get it to work with KMotionCNC, the nerdier, learning-curve-heavy free program that came with my controller board.

I think the people who made the board don’t care about lathes. They’re not going to come out and say that, but it seems to be true. Their program comes with a little viewing window that shows you an animated movie of your cutting tool at work. It’s set up perfectly for a big milling machine, but if you try to scale it for a lathe, it looks ridiculous. The software doesn’t give you a way to fix that.

The documentation that came with the boards says you need to know the computer language C in order to really understand what the software does. For that reason, I looked around for C courses yesterday. I tried Udemy and Edx. I wasn’t too impressed. C is an old language, and if I understand things correctly, it has morphed into newer languages like C++ and C# (C sharp). The online course offerings for plain old C aren’t that great. I decided to settle for a Youtube course.

The instructor said I had to get a compiler called Dev-C++, which is free. Right away I had problems. He uses version 4-something in the videos, and the current version is 5-something. It looks and works a little differently. So far I’ve been able to figure it out.

A compiler is a program that takes the code you write and turns it into program files. For example, you might write 30 lines of C or Pascal or whatever code, describing a program that lets you enter two numbers and then adds them and prints the result. You feed this into the compiler, and an “exe” file comes out the other end. When you want to experience the thrill of adding two integers, you double-click on “add.exe” or whatever you named it, and the program appears in a little DOS window (assuming it runs in DOS).

The first (only) language I learned was Pascal. I had to learn it in college. I used a compiler made by Borland. It was called Turbo Pascal. Dev-C++ is surely capable of much bigger things than Turbo Pascal, but to the user it looks pretty similar.

I learned a few things that were almost, but not quite, interesting. For example, the nerd term “ported” is a corruption that comes from “portable.” When you move a program from one OS to another, it’s portable, so you are–nails on a blackboard sound–“porting.” I can’t actually remember the other things, so I guess they truly were not interesting.

Here is how much interest I have in programming: zero, or even a large negative number. But if it will help me not have to go to surly, condescending nerds for help with technical stuff, I am all for it.

I’m still trying to figure out what kind of screws I need to make the lathe work well. At first I thought any ball screw would work. Then I found out some ball screws are very crude, so buying such a screw would fail to help or even make things worse. Then I found out there are levels of accuracy, designated “C” this or that, and I learned that most affordable screws were C7, which didn’t seem good enough.

After that, I read that the rigidity of the machine and the skill of the user make more difference than the quality of the screws. Is this true? I don’t know. The truth is a jittery target that skitters away every time I try to draw a bead on it.

A guy who supposedly knows a whole lot claims a plain old Acme screw will do fantastic work if you set it up right, and he says rigidity is more important than worrying about the number that comes after “C.” So maybe I need to buy a C7 screw in a big diameter; 3/4″ or better. I can do that for around a hundred bucks, if I go Taiwanese.

I’ve wondered why Acme screws were not considered useful. If I machine manually, I can get accuracy within a thousandth of an inch, relying on Acme screws and hand dials. Somehow that is not possible with a machine tool. You would think the computer would get better accuracy out of a screw than I can, but it looks like it doesn’t.

The topic is insanely complicated. Good screws aren’t the end of the discussion. For really accurate machining, some people use “screw mapping.” As I understand it, this means examining the screw with precision instruments and recording all its imperfections, so the computer will know to apply the correct compensation at every point on the screw.

Obviously, I am not going to do that. If I can get parts to measure within 0.002″ of spec, I will be the happiest man on earth. I’m not making crucial parts that prevent hydrogen bombs from going off. I don’t have to have perfection.

Now that the machine functions, I have to figure out how to design parts. I have a workable CAD program. I have to decide how to turn the CAD files into Gcode Mach3 can digest. I’m using Fusion360, from Autodesk, for CAD. It’s free. Not sure if it goes past CAD. I should design a part and see where I have to go with it.

Some day when I have room, I’ll get a mill. It will be a real CNC mill. I won’t spend my life on Ebay looking for bearings and screws. I’ll just place an order and wait for the machine. That will be nice. It doesn’t have to be big. Just sort of mid-sized, and it has to be something I can operate without pulling my hair out.

The CNC lathe will be very useful, but if you want CNC, what you really want is a mill. In fact, if you want to machine, period, you want a mill. I do not understand people who claim lathes are better. Most of the time, when you need a part, it will be something a mill can make easily, yet which a lathe can only make with weird, denial-reinforcing attachments.

If you want to make pens all day, sure, get a lathe. You’ll wish you had a mill, though.

Whatever you do with CNC, buy lots of plastic. You do NOT want to practice on metal parts. You will crash, and the crashes will damage your machine and cutting tools. Plastic will give, and it will provide a nice buffer between your mistakes and your checking account. Also, remember you can run programs in an animation window with the motors turned off. If the program looks funny in the animation, you do not want to run it with the motors on.

You can practice with wood instead of plastic, but it makes a mess.

Is this information useful to you? My hopes are not high, but I don’t care, because writing it was a very effective means of procrastination. I got what I wanted.

Leave a Message at the Tone

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

I am Too Busy Doing Nothing to Deal With You

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday. I’m middle-aged, and it’s still my favorite day of the week. On Saturdays, I REFUSE to do anything productive. The rest of the week, I merely FAIL.

It’s not the same.

Yesterday I blogged so I could put off working on bills and taxes. Today I’m blogging so I can put off reading Aeschylus. You have to be a sick, sad individual to procrastinate with regard to recreation. You can’t stoop much lower than that.

I have been trying to get my dad’s finances up to date. I have come to accept the fact that it’s not going to happen overnight. I could work at it for twelve hours a day and lose my mind. Instead I put in three or four hours and remain partially sane. If he has to pay a couple of late fees, he will live.

When your affairs get screwed up, you can’t turn them around instantly. It’s like turning an oil tanker. After you turn the wheel, you keep going in the same direction for a while. Some things will actually get worse while you’re improving the big picture. It’s better to accept it than to ruin your sleep and digestion.

The process of untangling the mess is improving me, personally.

Because I merely occurred instead of being raised responsibly, I have bad habits a well-reared six-year-old would not have, and I lack good habits. For one thing, I never know when to start things or when I’m done. I come from a family of disorganized people. They just do things when they have to. Very little planning. And the dumbest one probably has an IQ of 120. There is no excuse.

It came as a big shock to me that it was possible to break tasks into chunks and quit before I was finished. This is the kind of thing Jewish and Asian parents teach their kids in the womb, so they go on to blow the curves on tests and own really nice houses. My ancestors–at least the immediate ones–didn’t pass this information on, probably because they didn’t know it.

I wonder if one of the purposes of the Sabbath was to teach the Jews time management. Imagine what it was like to live before the Sabbath, in a world where every day was exactly like the one before. There were no weekends. There were no days off, unless you died. It must have been hard to organize time.

Once Saturday is cordoned off for God, you must inevitably start thinking in terms of a weekly cycle. You have to prepare for the Sabbath, which takes time. Some parts of the preparation will surely take more than one day. Tasks will have to be broken up. Meanwhile, your Dagon-worshiping neighbors will be wandering aimlessly in an unstructured existence, on a time line that stretches out before them like the unreachable horizon.

First thing you know, you have a desk calendar and a to-do list, and you own all the real estate for a mile in every direction. And your neighbors are sharecropping and waiting for a chance to behead you.

My guess, anyway.

Good habits are like slaves that work 24 hours a day, without being prompted. A good habit is like a passive investment. It works even when you’re resting.

I really need some of those.

I was diagnosed with ADD a long time ago, and they put me on powerful drugs that made me considerably crazier than I had been when I was untreated. ADD is real; no question about it. But I always felt that a good upbringing would have canceled most of the ill effects.

Oh, well. You have to think about what you have left and what you can still gather, not what you have wasted.

A lot of what the Holy Spirit does for people falls into the realm of habit. Spirits drive habits. Any Christian who has been a heroin addict could tell you that. God will take bad habits out, and he will put good habits in. Only if you give yourself to him. Otherwise, you limit his help.

I have finally figured out that you need to prioritize tasks. Then you need to create a list. After that, you need to go down the list and deal with tasks in order. And you need to break each task up into bits, so you don’t work on one thing for ten days straight while letting everything else slide.

You have to have finish lines. You can’t have a goal like, “Get condo fee mess straightened out.” You have to come up with something that has a definite end, like, “Call condo association and leave a message, threatening to sue.” When you do this, you know what you’re supposed to do, and you know when you’re finished for the day.

When I was a kid (and when I was in college the first time around), I did my long-term projects the nights before they were due. My parents knew I was in the living room at 5 a.m., time and time again, cobbling things together and getting B’s or worse, but somehow they didn’t see it as a huge problem they should fix. They were able to criticize, but they did not provide solutions, and neither did I.

Even as late as law school, I didn’t know how to structure time. I told my girlfriend, “You can work all semester and get a B+, or you can work hard for three days and get a B.” That was actually true, but it wasn’t a brilliant strategy. I graduated cum laude, and the people with good habits got summa. They’re generally unhappy people, but they handled responsibility well.

When I became a lawyer, all that changed, at least with respect to work. When you work on a case, the court sets deadlines, and your first big job is to pore over the rules and write a schedule for yourself. Once that’s done, you’re on rails. I almost never had a problem. I was the person who kept other people on track. Somehow this didn’t bleed over into my personal life. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because my personal life didn’t include a bar association and a judge, waiting to take my license and put me in jail.

The more I help my dad organize, the more organized I become. I like it.

My dad had a partner who could not organize anything. He was very, very smart. He was a wonderful resource when you needed help on a case. But he didn’t record his hours. He didn’t answer the phone or return calls. He was hard to locate. When the partners complained, he said his value as a resource justified his pay. Then they reminded him that if he didn’t record his hours, the clients could not be billed.

He was always a nervous wreck. He had high blood pressure. He always had some kind of unnecessary crisis going on. Once, he left his car in the airport’s short-term lot, and the cost of redeeming it got so high, he decided to abandon it. And they wouldn’t take it.

The managing partner, who was ambitious in a not-nice way, got rid of him eventually. No one could mount a convincing defense.

When you’re a kid, they don’t tell you this: peace comes from order. If your life is disorderly, you will never have peace. When I was a kid, they taught us that peace came from being a rebel, doing drugs, and following your heart, which is about as smart as following a goose. That stuff is the road to ulcers and strokes, not to mention poverty.

When you start to get organized, things clear up as though by magic. You find yourself noticing that old, familiar problems aren’t there any more. Maybe excess fat disappears. Maybe your digestion improves. Suddenly, you can walk across your living room without tripping. You’re not afraid when the phone rings, because you know your bills are paid. You decide to drive to the store, and you actually know where the keys are.

I am definitely procrastinating right now, but because my life is more organized than it used to be, I don’t have to work as much, so procrastination is less damaging. Strange, how that works.

I guess now I need to work on organizing my free time. That sounds perverse, but it’s not. Even elective activities require a steady, consistent approach. You can’t even get good at playing Frisbee if you don’t practice. Here’s something weird: the time you determine to spend NOT doing anything is almost as sacred as the time you spend doing. It has to be nearly as important.

I wish I could go back in time to when I was a kid and track myself down and kick myself in the butt every day. “Hi. It’s me. Did you brush your teeth this morning? No?” KICK. “Have you prayed in tongues? No?” KICK. “Do you have a list of things to do? No?” KICK. The British say the boy is the father of the man. I kind of wish the man could be the father of the boy.

I can’t fix the years that are behind me, but some people who read this blog are younger than I am, so I know someone out there will, or at least can, benefit from my experience. The rest get to repeat it, as Santayana more or less said. Come over and join me on the Group W bench.

I better get Aeschylus out and put in 30 minutes. After Aeschylus, Thucydides will be like a day at the spa.

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

On Second Thought, You Can Keep It

Something I wrote this morning:

Last night I dreamed of some very strange events, and this morning, I asked God if it meant anything. I think he has given me the answer, and I will try to present it here in a brief form that doesn’t take up a lot of room.

I was in the home of my late aunt, who died from lung cancer. She used to smoke unfiltered Pall Malls, and she refused to quit. She told my father it was the only thing in life that gave her pleasure.

For some reason, I went to her house to do laundry. I approached the machine with my clothes in a bag, thinking I was ready to go, but there was a mixed-race lady by the machine, and she took the bag and started sorting. I wasn’t ready at all. I had a wool jacket in the bag, and the whites and colors were mixed. She set the jacket aside, saving me the huge expense of replacing it after ruining it in a washing machine, and she put the other stuff in separate piles.

I looked in the washer, and I saw a puppy inside it. At least, I thought it was a puppy. It had black skin. It wasn’t like the brown skin of people we call “black.” It had no color at all. It was like a piece of seasoned cast iron. It was dusted with ash. It had holes where its eyes should have been, and it had a crooked, gaping mouth. Blue-white light came out of its mouth and eyes. I don’t know where it got that light. Maybe it had been stolen from God.

I thought it was cute, which is bizarre. There was nothing cute about it. While the woman was helping me with my laundry, I tried to take a photo of it and post it to Facebook, but the photos didn’t come out well, and it didn’t look cute at all.

After I woke up, I asked God if the dream meant anything, and here is what I came up with.

I believe the washing machine symbolizes my efforts to get clean; to get free of iniquities, which are the inclinations which cause me to sin. The “puppy” is a demon which is behind one of my iniquities. I thought it was cute, so it has to be an iniquity I hold onto deliberately, thinking it’s harmless or even beneficial. This iniquity doesn’t cause me a great deal of suffering, so I don’t think it matters, and I don’t fight it. As a result, this creature stays with me, and it can hold the door open for other demons, which are worse.

Jesus told us we have demons. He said that when a demon leaves a man, it walks in dry places and then returns, and when it returns, it brings seven demons worse than itself. On the other hand, if we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, then God himself inhabits us. And the Bible says the Holy Spirit has seven parts.

I think the thing I saw may represent gluttony. I have a very negative attitude toward gluttony, but it may be that the jokes I make concerning it have made it feel welcome. Gluttony, by itself, is not going to ruin my life. But what if it holds the door open so I can’t get rid of bigger problems? What if I am inadvertently giving these things power?

There are many inquities Christians think are cute or harmless. Gluttony, gossip, laziness, denying our spouses sex, bearing false witness, verbal cruelty, and so on. Maybe they’re not so cute after all. Maybe we need to voice our opposition to them openly, because the spirits that drive these things can’t hear us when we say things in our minds.

A nail enters a board in a very small way. The tip of the nail is sharp, and it doesn’t do much damage at all. But it enables the rest of the nail to enter easily.

If we want to hear the voice of God, we have to quiet the other voices.

Gluttony killed my aunt. She was a glutton for tobacco smoke.

Defying Centuries of Tradition, I Provide Defined Supernatural Strategies in List Form

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

“Organized Religion,” at Last

Perry Stone just aired a couple of shows about supernatural warfare. I’ve gotten some useful information from him in the past. Sometimes he gets off on conspiracy stuff or similar legends that pretty much amount to folklore, but if you look at the things he says when he sticks to God’s revelation, he’s wonderful.

Tonight he repeated a story I once heard from his dad. His dad told it differently. His dad said he had a vision, in which he saw two demons. I believe he called them demons, but my guess is that they were actually angelic beings. Anyway, one was tall, and one was short. When his dad told the story, he said the big one was screaming at the little one because Perry Stone had released some information. Apparently, God revealed something, and Stone taught it, and the big spirit was irate, because the little spirit was supposed to put a stop to it. He told the little spirit that if Stone went much further, he would kill him personally.

In tonight’s version, Stone did not say he was the subject of the discussion. He said the big spirit said that if the little one couldn’t prevent information from getting out, he would do it himself. He said the big spirit reached into the belly of the little one, and the little one screamed, begging him not to take his authority.

It’s peculiar that authority could result from something being in a spirit’s belly. It may be that eating increases authority in the supernatural realm, just as it decreases authority here on earth. Some believe evil spirits grow in size and strength from feeding on sin, so maybe it makes sense that a spirit with a full belly would be stronger.

I don’t know if these stories come from two different visions or what, but in any case, I was praying as I watched, and I felt that God clarified a few things for me.

Over the course of the show, Stone was talking about the differences in authority between various spirits. Some can be driven off easily. With others, you have to fast and pray. He said that if you drive off a weak spirit, a big one may come to do its job. He said fasting increases one’s authority.

This got me thinking about Jesus and Satan, in the story of the temptation. Who is Satan? The most powerful evil spirit. He has the most authority of anyone on his team. When did he show up? After Jesus had fasted forty days…at the END of the fast. What did he offer Jesus? Everything he had, or at least the biggest gifts he had: the world, and authority over it. He fired his big guns. His desperation weapons. He offered the things he most wanted to hold onto.

I also thought about my experience with overeating. I beat it with two days of fasting. The compulsion went away. Then it started to return. I beat it again by fasting, increasing my authority, and using my authority to command my flesh.

Let’s synthesize all these things. I believe the Holy Spirit gave me this summation: life is structured like a tournament. When you beat the weak players on the other side, you advance to take on stronger players. If you don’t stop, you end up facing the very best opponent there is. This is what your life is going to be like, from now until the day you die, if you continue growing as a Christian. You will never reach a point where you can say you don’t have to fight any more. Every time you win, someone stronger is going to challenge you, and if you keep pushing, you could end up facing Satan himself. If you get complacent and settle after reaching a certain level, you will never reach your potential in the kingdom of heaven.

If you think about it, this is something common sense should have told us. We know we have to fight evil spirits. We know some are stronger than others. An intelligent person would realize that an enemy who suffers a defeat will always send better resources into battle, if he has them. And the more you win, the more important you will be as a target, so the enemy will never lose motivation to send more forces against you.

It bummed me out a little when I realized these things. George Patton supposedly said he hated paying for the same real estate twice. I feel the same way! I’m the real estate. The body is like the Promised Land. Our iniquities and the spirits that drive them are like the Canaanites. We’re supposed to run them out by faith. I don’t want to think Satan is going to keep sending me an unending succession of ever-larger gluttony spirits. But I suppose he might. Or, more likely, he’ll attack from another angle. I don’t think he wants to be completely predictable.

By the end of his fast, Jesus had probably crushed his flesh past the point where it would even consider rebelling. He had probably discouraged every spirit sent against him. His authority would have been nearly unlimited. This is why Satan showed up. There was no one bigger to send against him. And it looks like he returned from time to time. Jesus called Peter “Satan” when Peter tempted him to avoid crucifixion; maybe he spoke literally. Maybe Satan himself influenced Peter to speak.

You can take some very practical advice away from this.

1. If you’re not praying in the Spirit and fasting regularly, you’re probably not going to have much authority. You will continue to serve the flesh, you won’t be able to command your flesh or take authority over spirits, and many of your prayers will fall to the earth. You will be a private, basically, like the little spirit that couldn’t hurt Perry Stone. You will be a creampuff no one respects.

2. If you do pray and fast regularly, you will develop power and authority. You will be able to command spirits and your flesh (Jesus even commanded inanimate matter). You will be able to overcome iniquity. You will be able to serve God and hear his voice, instead of wasting all your prayers on requests for God to become a servant to your eyes and belly.

3. If you develop authority, you will get attention from Satan and God. Satan will focus more energy on destroying you, and presumably, God will devote resources to empowering, guiding, and protecting you.

4. When you succeed in overcoming an adversary or a problem, you should not be surprised if it returns. In fact, you should be surprised if it doesn’t. Prepare for it. Anticipate it. Keep working to grow in authority, self-control, faith, and revelation. Keep praying–specifically–for God to lead you to victory.

5. When you don’t know if you have authority, don’t go around rebuking and insulting powerful spirits. Ask God to rebuke them. Don’t make a fool of yourself quoting verses about the power and authority God has given you, when you’re not prepared and authorized (anointed). Satan’s power is real, and it has to be respected. Besides, he has rights, and God himself will back them up. Don’t let denial of your spiritual flabbiness put you and your loved ones in the path of a destructive force you can’t defend against.

6. Never take on a spirit unless you are confident that God told you to do it. When we were fighting the Nazis, soldiers didn’t stroll into Berlin by themselves and try to shoot Hitler. They would have had no backup and no guidance. They advanced as a group, as they were ordered. Don’t think you can jog behind enemy lines and do whatever you want, with God somehow obligated to follow you. Look what happened to the sons of Sceva. They were on God’s side, fighting wicked spirits God hated, and God allowed the spirits to strip them naked and beat them. You could be next.

I’ve taken things I learned from Perry Stone, as well as things God showed me directly, and I’ve tried to use them to create a simple list anyone can remember and apply.

This stuff seems obvious now that I’ve written it, but it wasn’t obvious to me before God revealed it. Over generations, we have thrown away knowledge of the supernatural, and I have been asking him to restore it. It’s pretty clear that he is granting that request. He’s not obligated to do it. Our predecessors were responsible for teaching us, and they blew it. Man is supposed to manage the earth, and there are supposed to be prices paid when we fail. God is returning things to us because he’s merciful. The former rain didn’t get us anywhere, so he’s bringing the latter rain. We’ve been trying to screw it up, too, but I don’t think he’ll permit it, with time so short.

I don’t look forward to fighting for the rest of my life, but my wishes don’t change the way things are, and I know God will make it easy for me, because he promised to do so in the gospels.

Hope this is helpful.

Heavy Theology

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Put Those Twinkies Behind You

I always worry that I don’t do enough to give God his glory. It’s very dangerous to fail to credit God (before others) when you get an obvious blessing.

Here’s something I want people to know. Mike went on an Armorbearer Freedom Fast with me a few months back. He weighed 335 pounds, and it was all due to overeating. Mike loves food even more than I do.

As of the weekend, he was down to 288. Like me, he is not dieting, nor is he losing weight through exercise. It’s grace. A miracle. He hasn’t been this thin in years.

So far, maybe six or seven people have done the AB fast with me, and only one got the miracle. One of my armorbearer buddies wants to do it in a week or two. I hope he gets it too.

I suspect that attitude has a lot to do with it. If you don’t admit gluttony is a sin, like looking at pornography or shooting heroin, and you don’t admit you eat too much, you probably won’t get anywhere. That’s my best guess, based on my understanding of God and the scriptures. And of course, faith is a necessity.

This is a very big deal; obesity and gluttony are terrible curses, and it’s wonderful to see a person get true, lasting freedom. Mike and I are “free, indeed,” as the Bible puts it. I hope others get free, too. God is both powerful and generous.

One of the big frustrations of Christianity is seeing God’s power in your own life yet being unable to help other people get the same good things. I think the biggest obstacle is refusal to listen. When I hear about someone who got a blessing I need, I try to do what they did, so I can get the same thing. I am trying to soften the block of cement which is my skull, so I can learn good things from successful Christians. I’ve gotten a few really good things. I want to pass them on. I also want good things others have gotten.

Too bad Christian development isn’t a force-feeding process. We’d all be free.

Give fasting a shot if you have an addiction.

Shark Repellent for Your Soul

Saturday, November 6th, 2010


Sourdough is changing my life.

I started out by making sourdough garlic rolls. Then I branched out and made a loaf of bread. Then while I was pouring some excess starter down the sink, it hit me: “This looks a lot like fried chicken batter.”

Oh, yes.

I plan to try it, as soon as I can get a milk-based batter to ferment. I have another idea for improving it, but it will have to wait until next time. I should be able to fry some drumsticks tomorrow.

Again, I credit God with these ideas. The other day I sat down to write recipes, and a team of yard guys was making a huge racket near me, and I came up with nearly nothing. The next day a pile of ideas landed on me the way Plymouth Rock didn’t really land on Malcolm X.

Nothing like reaching too far for a metaphor.

Last year I fasted and then found I had improved self-control, especially in the area of eating. I lost lots of weight without much effort. This week I repeated the fast. I was starting to feel like gluttony was creeping back toward me. Now I feel great again. This morning I had oatmeal with water and salt, period. Can you imagine anything more disgusting? But I had no problem with it.

Mike has dropped something like 40 pounds since he accompanied me on my second fast, a few months back.

In a related matter, today I learned something interesting while Googling the origins of the swastika. As you may know, people claim the Nazi swastika was a reversed form of an old Buddhist symbol used in Tibet and India. That’s not true. It turns out the Tibetans use both forms of the symbol. Perry Stone claims that when Hitler was elected, the Tibetan monks said that a thousand of their “gods” left Tibet for Germany. Maybe they were right. There is a big occult link between Tibetan Buddhism and Nazism. Fun stuff to look up.

That’s not the thing I plan to write about, though. While I was reading, I came across the concept of “hungry ghosts.” The Tibetans believe there are dead people out there, roaming around trying to satisfy their earthly desires through us. I think I have that right; you can check. These beings have withered arms, tiny mouths, extremely slender necks, and huge bellies. If they try to eat, they feel intense pain.

This idea is also found in Christianity, but we call them demons. The Book of Enoch suggests they are the dead spirits of the giants spawned by rebellious angels who had sex with women. I believe the Book of Enoch is correct, and I have seen plenty of evidence to back it up. If you start with the premise that God is working to exterminate the seed of the fallen angels, many things in the Bible that are hard to understand suddenly make sense.

It’s interesting to me that false religions like Buddhism acknowledge what we know. They have the wrong explanations, but they see many of the same phenomena.

It’s also funny that proud Americans turn to Buddhism because they think it isn’t a religion. They think belief in supernatural beings is primitive. Buddhism is full of supernatural beings and concepts. Buddha as a Hindu, after all. When you go from Christianity to Buddhism, you’re not moving from superstition to enlightened philosophy. You’re abandoning one set of supernatural beliefs for another. Might as well be voodoo.

I think I drove one or more of these things off when I fasted, and that’s why I don’t have a problem with gluttony any more. I think fasting makes them miserable, and it teaches them they’re not welcome, and that more suffering is coming if they remain. It’s sort of like a deportation procedure for illegal aliens. In fact, I think aliens symbolize demons in the Old Testament. One of the big curses is to have aliens come into your land and have power over you. In the Old Testament, the Holy Land symbolized a human body, and the enemies of the Hebrews symbolized hostile spirits, so it only makes sense that demons would be represented by hostile aliens.

I know some Christians will jump up and claim you just have to tell them to leave in the name of Jesus. Unfortunately, Jesus himself said otherwise. Some will go easily, but others require prayer and fasting before they will pay attention.

On Thursday (second day of my fast), I found myself feeling compelled to watch food shows. Seems like a crazy thing to do, but I enjoyed it. Looking back, I think it may have been the Holy Spirit’s way of making my personal spirits suffer and leave. Call me crazy if you want. My size 30 shorts don’t lie. What do you have to put up against them? I know the answer already: nothing. It’s impossible to successfully contradict the things another person has witnessed.

I saw Jentezen Franklin on the tube last night. Ordinarily I have serious doubts about him, but he said some useful things. He expressed impatience with people who say they believe in Jesus, yet who don’t believe in Satan or demons. His question: how can you believe in someone who believes things you don’t? Jesus dealt with evil spirits all the time. If you’re a Christian, you have to believe they exist.

Fasting is incredibly powerful, and that’s why Jesus fasted after receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit and before doing miracles and embarking on a ministry. If he had not fasted, the demons assigned to him would have remained and clouded his judgment, and he might have ended up using his great power to serve them, inadvertently. God does not like giving power to evil spirits. That’s why he doesn’t give us all the money and power and success we want, right away. Satan stuffs people with “blessings” they can’t handle, and it destroys them. God waits until it’s safe to bless us. That’s why he told us we had to put his kingdom and his righteousness first, and that our blessings would arrive later.

You wouldn’t let your kids eat dessert before the meat and vegetables. There is a proper order to things.

I’m glad I’m not fasting today. I have rolls and a loaf of bread rising, and I have to be able to sample them. Lunch will be a crummy chicken sandwich, though.

I’m pretty sure what I believe is true. It lines up with the word, and it makes sense. Try it yourself and see if you get the same results I did.

New Food Peak

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Progress Never Stops

Last night I had the best Italian (maybe “Italian-style”) meal of my entire life.

Since I stopped working in my church’s cafe, I’ve been getting lots of food ideas. I got some wonderful ideas for improving my garlic rolls.

One big change involves the structure of the rolls. As you may know, many people make garlic rolls by tying strips of dough in knots, which improves the texture immensely. I like to cut the strips lengthwise before tying them. This way you get two strips, which are better than one. This week I decided to divide them one more time, into four strips, and I took steps to prevent the strips from re-joining during the rising process. I also twist the strip assemblies like candy canes before tying the knots.

I’m also using sourdough now. I made my own starter using bacteria from a very unlikely source, and I made a big batch of dough without yeast. The idea is to keep portions of this stuff frozen. When you need one, you put it in the fridge. It can sit there all week (maybe longer), and whenever you want to make rolls, you mix it with fresh dough, and in a fairly short time, you have excellent sourdough with a beautiful texture.

If it gets old, throw it out and thaw a new portion. They probably cost fifteen cents to make.

Yesterday I decided to make three rolls. One with all the improvements, and two the way I was making them last week. I bought the cheapest grating cheese (mystery-brand romano) I could find, since I was only doing a test. I also made spaghetti rigati (spaghetti with longitudinal ridges) with sauce based on tomato paste and Cento cherry tomatoes. I had a can lying around (bought it so I could try it in pizza sauce), and I figured it was time to use it.

The cheap cheese turned out to be the best grated cheese I had ever eaten. It didn’t have a lot of weird, funky flavors, the way many expensive cheeses do, but the taste and texture were perfect by my standards. The sauce was a thing of beauty; I think I know of better tomato products to use, but the cherry tomatoes were very good, and I left the skins in for fiber.

I made the spaghetti, buttered it, dumped half of it in a bowl, piled a lot of thawed-out mozzarella (still cleaning out the deep freeze) on it, added the rest of the spaghetti, tossed it slightly, added sauce, and grated cheese over the result.

The roll…I can’t describe it. I would almost describe my response to it as reverence. I covered the rolls with garlic sauce and grated cheese, and I ate them one at a time, and while all of them were excellent, the one I did the new way was on its own plane of existence. It fell apart beautifully. The mix of textures was a joy to behold. The sourdough flavor and aroma transported me. And that cheap cheese complemented it perfectly.

I think I have a way to improve the dough even more, but I would lose a little bit of the convenience. I can’t wait to use it in pizza.

There is no doubt about it. God guides my cooking. The ideas fall like rain. They land on my head when I least expect it. What is the purpose? I can’t even guess. I thought I was supposed to be making this stuff in church, but I was not able to do that.

I would love to open a pizzeria and sell nothing but pizza, rolls, and cheesecake. I honestly think people would faint in the parking lot. But people keep telling me quality doesn’t count in the pizza business. It certainly hasn’t counted for much in other business ventures I’ve been involved in, except for law. Oddly, law practice seems to be a purer than average meritocracy. Gladhanding and office politics count for something, but if you’re good, work will come to you, because the people who aren’t good are afraid to stand on their own feet; they will want you to do their work for them and hold their hands.

It would be great to do things for my church, but it’s extremely difficult to bless Christians. It seems like they mess up every good idea you give them. Buy your church a new chapel, and they’ll use it to store fertilizer. Buy them chef’s knives, and they’ll use them as screwdrivers and chisels. I suppose this is what God has to deal with every day. “Here’s a pillar of fire and a cloud to guide you through the wilderness and defeat all your enemies, and WAIT! Get away from that golden calf! What are you DOING? Get back here! Stop burning your babies for Molech this INSTANT! Are you listening to me?”

I assume God will not help a church make good use of things, unless the people in the church are on the right spiritual wavelength. If there isn’t enough prayer and enough determination to walk by faith instead of jumping into projects that seem right to our limited minds, God takes his hand off what we do, and the enemy wrecks it. Maybe. There has to be some explanation. Maybe I am pushing my church to accept things God wants me to keep, or maybe God is teaching me to have realistic expectations when I deal with churches (my pick for likeliest explanation). Anyway, it looks like my only hope of accomplishing anything with the good things God gives me is to hold onto them, do my best with them, and support God’s work from whatever profits I receive.

I am really enjoying the ideas I get, even if they don’t bless anyone except me and my family and friends.

This week I’m repeating the fast that delivered me from overeating. I do that once in a while. I felt it was time. It seemed like gluttony was trying to creep back into my life, which is to be expected periodically.

I couldn’t get anyone to join me on this fast. Oh, well. I’ll get my blessings, and I tried to help other people get theirs. What more can I do? When you’re a Christian, you have to accept the fact that very often, you are going to have to step out on your own, because other people will not want to go forward with you.

The armorbearer team at my church fasts every Monday, but it’s not much of a fast. It’s surprisingly hard to get people to go a day without calories. We fast on Mondays until 6 p.m., which amounts to less than 24 hours when you count sleep time, and we are allowed to have any liquids we want. You could have ten milkshakes on this fast. I think it’s better than nothing, but I don’t think it achieves nearly as much as a zero-calorie fast, and I was starting to accept it as my standard fast. So I needed to upgrade. I’m back to zero calories, and I’m doing this two-day deal, which is called the Armorbearer Freedom Fast.

Mike has lost over 35 pounds since he went on the last Freedom Fast. That’s a good result and a great testimony to God’s power and kindness.

He Shall Bring it to Pass

Monday, August 23rd, 2010


Last week was fantastic.

For the last few years, I’ve been dealing with a nagging problem. My primary approach to solving it has been supernatural. I have chosen to hold off on using some earthly weapons I have at my disposal. God has been completely faithful; last week he gave me a big victory, in pretty much the way I asked for it. Maybe I’ll write about it eventually.

I’m having lots of fun with the guitar. My arm pain went away when I started using dumbbells to exercise my forearms. Last week, I noticed I was bending the .73mm Dunlop pick I was using, along an axis from the tip to the back, and I realized I was getting too strong for it, so I upgraded to a .88mm pick. Now I’m playing louder and clearer, because the pick is stiffer. I’m not completely ready for the heavier pick, but I can’t go back to the thin one, and I know I will get stronger during the coming month.

My left hand is also getting better. Notes I could not fret well in the past are sounding clearer. I suppose it will be another couple of months before I really feel strong.

I suspect that the dumbbells are improving my hand strength, not just my forearm strength. Maybe forearm workouts are a good idea for guitarists, generally.

The Burny Les Paul I bought is turning out to be a wonderful investment. I got a little help with the electronics (guitarist from my church advised me), and now I am able to use a Fat Sandwich pedal to get a B.B. King tone you would not believe. I actually wrote down all the settings so I could repeat it. You can convert your amp, guitar, and electronic settings to numbers in order to record them in a compact notation. Figured that out on my own.

The neck on my Chinese Epiphone is actually slightly better than the one on the Burny, but that’s probably a truss rod thing.

I think I’m going to stick with nines and tens (strings) for the foreseeable future. The Burny has DR Pure Blues nines on it, and the tone is pure bliss, and it’s easy to play. I have some problems feeling the strings with the pick sometimes because they’re so thin, but I think I can overcome that. I am able to get three distinct notes out of a single bend, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that with heavier strings. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t think it’s a strength issue. I think it’s just the nature of heavy strings. They don’t seem to increase in pitch as much for the same degree of bending.

I really wanted to get a Japanese Les Paul and put single-coil pickups on it, but I can’t stand to take the humbuckers off my Burny. They’re amazing. So what do I do? I guess I’ll have to get a second Burny eventually. What if I like the pickups on that one? Hope that doesn’t happen. Every so often, one turns up with P90s already installed. Maybe that’s the best bet.

I am ready to take the next step in my Fretboard Logic studies. I have the “CAGED” thing pretty well under control, although I can’t make an A-type chord above the seventh fret. It’s impossible for me to line up three fingers between two frets that high up. I assume the answer is to do a sloppy second bar with the ring finger. I can’t believe a human hand exists which can get three fingers into that space.

I have to start writing original variations and tunes. I have been determined to learn to impersonate recordings accurately, because this is a sure way to build good technique, but I have to do my own thing, too. I already have the tab paper. I should get a tab-editing program.

It’s difficult to write tab, because you have to put down the guitar pick and pick up a pen, and it breaks the concentration. I may start writing it with my left hand. It doesn’t have to be pretty the first time around. I can fix it later.

I still think about my upcoming major guitar purchase. It’s slated for January. Right now, I’m strongly considering a Heritage H555 with single coils. But I may have to put the decision off until I really know what I want.

I may try out high-end guitars and discover that vintage Japanese guitars are as good or better. If that happens, there is no way I’m going to drop a pile on an American-made money sink. When you own a tool that costs too much, you tend to treat it like a sick baby, and you don’t get proper use from it. I am not afraid to risk the destruction of an $800 Japanese guitar, but I would be very nervous about putting a new Heritage on an airplane.

It should not be a surprise that the Japanese make great electric solidbody guitars. Japan is considered to be the home of the finest carpentry in the world. The strange thing is that their acoustics (and most of their pianos) are so bad. I guess it makes sense. A Les Paul is just a neck and a board, so if you make them fit together right, you should get a great sound. Copying the sound of a complicated hollow box would surely require more familiarity with American culture and the American sound.

Even semi-hollow electrics do not require perfect resonating chambers, so presumably, Japanese ES copies are also good.

Les Paul himself used to play a guitar that was actually a board. To be precise, it was a four-by-four with a neck. He called it “the Log.” It upset people, so he glued parts from an archtop to it, to make it look like a guitar. It’s in a museum now.

It may sound insane, but solidbody guitars would probably be good woodworking projects for me. The bodies would be a joke. Just cut, rout, and sand. The only hard part would be making a neck and headstock and setting the neck correctly. You can actually buy necks already made, if you get in trouble.

God gives us the desires of our hearts, according to Psalm 37. I am here to tell you it’s true. I am killing the electric guitar, and I am cooking better than I ever did, and I have wonderful friends. I have great tools, I’m thin, and I even have a pickup truck! I guess God has to be careful about rewarding us when we are not serving him. Once we’re back on track, his blessings will not corrupt us, so he can be more liberal.

If you want God to bless you, crucify your flesh so your evil desires don’t rule you. That makes you a fit candidate for blessing.

Things are going great, and I’m even meeting amazing Christian women. I keep pointing this out: non-Christian women, as a group, are a never-ending torrent of disappointment and conflict. They are neurotic and chronically unhappy. They expect men to solve all their problems. They blame us for everything that goes wrong. They think bickering and put-downs are the proper way to demonstrate their worthiness of respect. They are draining. They expect sex no later than the third date, and if they’re in their baby-crazy years, there is a good chance they’ll defeat contraception in order to trap you. It’s extremely difficult to find a non-Christian woman who interests me enough to make me risk the pain.

Christian women are completely different. The problem with Christian women is that I want to take ALL of them home. How do you choose? They’re pleasant to be around. They’re encouraging. They’re polite. They listen. They understand that a mate is not a competitor. They’re not princesses who have been raised to believe their overpriced weddings are the focal events of all creation. It’s hard to believe they’re for real. It’s such a beautiful thing, dealing with women who don’t put you on trial and make you walk on eggs. I can’t get used to it. I know it’s real. It’s like moving from Miami to Texas, where the people were so nice to me. It seems surreal, but it’s genuine, and I can trust it.

God will change your life so you can trust happiness.

Tonight I’m making Champagne chicken for 15 people at church. Boy, are they in for a shock. This stuff is incredible. I will not pretend to be modest. They think my pizza and cheesecake are good. They don’t know what they’re in for.

More Breakthroughs

Monday, July 19th, 2010

God’s Own Cake and the Devil’s Music

I took the Tower of Babel cake to church to get rid of it. It was a great success. Now they want more. I have piles of bananas scattered on the kitchen counter, fresh from the trees in my yard. I guess I’ll freeze what I can’t cook immediately and put the rest in cakes.

My nam wa banana tree finally produced. The bananas are very nice. They’re finger-sized bananas, but they’re not like the lemony guineos we always have in the markets in Miami. They’re very sweet, and they have a smooth texture. It’s a little like banana ice cream.

God keeps working in my life. Last week I led some of the armorbearers on the first Armorbearer Freedom Fast, and Mike joined in. Some of us were fasting to beat gluttony. I was fasting in support of the others. Mike called and said he went to a restaurant after the fast and ordered a kid’s portion. He couldn’t face a regular-size meal. In the past, it has always been hard for Mike to face regular-sized meals, but that was because they were too small. His new attitude is incredible.

I worked at church on Sunday, and when I left at nearly 4 p.m., I hadn’t eaten anything except a piece of cake. I didn’t want more food, but I made myself stop at Five Guys. I got a bacon cheeseburger, Cajun fries, and a large Coke. I ate two thirds of the burger and a third of the fries. I drank half of the Coke. I threw everything else out. I didn’t want it. Today I went to breakfast with my dad, and I left a fourth of my nova bagel on the plate. Not bad. My Armorbearer friend who was fasting because of his weight said he tried to eat something he usually enjoys, and it made him sick, so he couldn’t do it.

Fasting works. My pants and belts do not lie. We are getting supernatural results. And my dad is witnessing all of it, which is also great. One day, we’ll get him.

Church continues to amaze me. I keep meeting extraordinary people there. One of the new Armorbearers is a drummer. His name is Travis. I started talking to him yesterday. I asked him if the drums were his only instruments. He said he played TWELVE, and he listed them. And he said he played them WELL, so apparently it’s not like Prince, who claims he can play forty but probably includes instruments that made noises because he accidentally sat on them in the studio.

I know everyone thinks Prince is a genius. When I see him do something that indicates talent, I will agree. So far, all I’ve seen are weak pop tunes. And he holds a purple guitar sometimes. Wait. I think it’s white. Anyway, I haven’t heard any solos yet.

Travis got a full scholarship to college, based on his ability. That’s what he does now. He said it was largely based on his sight-reading skills. He actually knows who my trombone-virtuoso cousin is, which is astonishing.

So now we have two professional musicians in the group, and they’re not three-chord wonders or rappers. They are real musicians.

The other musician, Zachary, is trying to find a hundred-watt tube amp he can afford. He said he would consider building one, if he had the skills. I used to build temperature and current controls for diode lasers in college, and I have a ton of tools. He sent me links to some sites that have amp plans. Interesting.

One of the guys bought a Bushmaster AR-15. He brought it in for us to look at. We were handing it around and admiring it in a back room. I said, “You know, church has CHANGED since I was a kid.” That cracked Travis up.

My music is going really well. The bluegrass is coming up to speed. My left hand has only had five weeks to get strong, and that’s not enough. When I use a capo (makes fretting easier), I get a taste of what my playing will be like in another month or two. I plan to continue playing bluegrass, simply because it’s great for my technique and it’s wasteful to throw away a whole genre you’ve already learned.

I was suffering with online blues lessons, but I couldn’t take it any more. I got a ZZ Top book, and I started working on “Tube Snake Boogie.” I realize this is not good music for a Christian to work on, but hear me out. The guitar stuff is all blues-based, and it’s HOT. It will get me into electric blues via the side door, and it will help me get familiar with my instruments and amps. I don’t plan to sing this filth in the sanctuary.

I struggled for a week, but today I got it working. I put new strings on my flamenco guitar (like a classical guitar, with a cutaway and a different sound), and I started using it for practice. This is much easier on me than my dreadnought and heavy hollowbody. It allows me to practice pretty painlessly. I actually got through the first page and a half.

I may get hollered at for saying it, but so far, as I expected, this stuff is a complete joke compared to bluegrass. True, you have to go up the neck more, but so what? I’m using elevens, and the guitar’s action is very light. I’m playing at half the speed of bluegrass (or less), the strings are kinder to my hands, and the licks are child’s play. The only real problems are getting used to playing over pickups and coping with the light strings. When you’re used to blasting thirteens at maybe eight notes a second, you can barely feel elevens.

When I used to try to play Stevie Ray Vaughan material, it was difficult, but then he played very fast, and he didn’t cheat by using his left hand to play the notes. He did it just like a bluegrass guitarist.

I’ve noticed that some rock guitarists play runs that seem very fast, but their right hands aren’t keeping up with the notes. Evidently, you can effectively double your speed by hammering on and pulling off and bending the strings with your left hand, between right-hand notes. I wonder how many of these guys could cope with bluegrass. I know some of them have been there; Steve Morse does both styles.

I had a feeling this would turn out to be easy, simply because I know the kind of people who play rock. They are not known for being industrious. Rock guitar isn’t about artistry and sacrifice. It’s about looking cool and attracting shallow women so you can fornicate. That’s what got Pete Townshend started. I know there must be many rock guitarists who woodshed all the time and aren’t afraid of difficult material, but a lot of this stuff appears to be based on using two fingers, the way you might when you’re stoned in the back of a tour bus. And everyone loves nines, and I don’t think that’s totally based on professionalism. It just might have something to do with lack of character, in some cases.

When you play an electric guitar, the gadgetry does a whole lot of the work. It’s pretty cushy compared to killing yourself to get music out of an acoustic.

I look forward to getting a grip on this form of music, and then I want to do a reverse Ray Charles. I want to use bluesy sounds to make music for God. I know you’re supposed to go the other way, ripping off gospel and using it to play secular music. I don’t see why I can’t turn the tables.

I’m glad I held onto that flamenco guitar.

Tisha B’Av is about to start, so if you’re fasting in sympathy with Israel and the Jews, it’s time to get on it.

Life is wonderful.

Pop Tarts Bring You Closer to God

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Fast Over

This morning, my church’s Armorbearers ended a two-day fast. I wrote about it earlier.

Man, do I feel better. Some people say they feel closer to God during a fast. I feel farther away. I get a headache. I feel depressed. It’s pretty bad. I always look forward to the renewed sensation of his presence that comes when I finally eat.

Last night, I felt a powerful sensation of faith as I ended the day in prayer, but that’s not the same as feeling God’s presence. Imagine you’re in prison. This is the difference between a visit and receiving a care package. The care package is great, but you still want the visit.

I hope this fast accomplished things. The person who got it going is a fellow AB with a bad weight problem. I would really like to see him get free. I would like to see the others get free, too, and I would like a renewal of my own weight-loss miracle, as well as better discipline to handle things like lust and covetousness.

The fast was not fun. On the first day, I noticed it was hard to practice the guitar because my hands were weak. On the second day, I decided to skip practice. My arm was sore anyway, so it needed the rest. I had a nutritious Pop Tart breakfast today, but I am still not 100%.

Through an interesting set of circumstances, I learned about a great Christian singer yesterday. Her name is Grace Williams. I won’t bother you with the details, but I came across her on TV, and it turned out I had an unopened Grace Williams CD in my house, so I played it.

It’s wonderful stuff. As music per se, I would not call it great art, but as music intended to help you get in touch with God, it’s first-rate. It’s what Enya might have done, had she been a Christian.

Grace Williams says she startled her family by praying and singing in tongues at a very early age, and she says this is the “new song” the Bible mentions prophetically. I was startled. I have had the same idea run through my mind. Ever since our church’s Rendezvous conference a while back, I have had the ability to sing in the Spirit. It’s very strange. When I’m at church, I just open my mouth, and I automatically get harmony. Very helpful, since I can never learn all the words to the songs they play. It brings a powerful sense of peace and God’s presence.

Here is what Psalm 40 says:

1 I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

We tend to dash right by language like that, assuming it’s just intended to be flowery and poetic, but it has to have a real meaning. God does not flap his lips just to hear his head roar. His word does not return to him void. Every word means something. If the Psalms say there is a new song that will convert people and make them believers, it has to be true, and I very much doubt that David was referring to the Psalms themselves. Nobody every listened to Psalm 40 and “feared” because of it and “trusted in the Lord.” It’s a fine psalm, but it’s not that fine. If God led David to say this about Psalm 40, God exaggerated, and he does not do that.

I’m assuming David wrote this psalm, because he wrote so many. I don’t know that he wrote this one. Whoever it was, God spoke through him.

The rabbi of a nearby Messianic synagogue wants to go shooting with us and get our help in forming an armorbearer squad. Pretty cool. Hope that happens in a week or two.

Life is good. I can’t wait for lunch.

Two Days of Fun

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Pass the Perrier

My big mouth has gotten me in real trouble.

Last year, after a two-day fast, I found I had been delivered from overeating. I lost between 25 and 30 pounds, with virtually no effort. I kept telling everyone at my church, hoping I could get them to try to get the same kind of miracle.

This week, a friend called me up and said he was sick of his weight problem. I told him what I knew, and I suggested he pick a couple of days to fast and pray. And a horrible realization came over me. I was going to have to fast with him.


I notified my pastor, purely for selfish reasons. I knew people would hear about the fast, and if it worked, they would want the same thing. Then I’d have to fast with THEM. I figured if I notified the pastor, he would spread the word, and we would get people on board now instead of later, saving me fasts. Instead, his text response went like this: “I’m in!”


I let the Armorbearers know, figuring some of them might have bad habits they wanted to drop. Now I have a total of five people (me included) doing the fast. We quit eating last night, and we won’t eat again (except for communion) until Friday morning. We are allowed ZERO calories. Our pastor has to quit at 6 p.m. on Thursday due to social obligations.

Each of us has to pray in the Spirit for at least three consecutive minutes both days. We have to spend at least half an hour alone with God on each day, confessing that overeating (or whatever we’re trying to beat) is a sin, and that we can’t defeat it on our own, and that we repent and want his help.

I hope this works. Although that would pretty much guarantee more fasts in the future.

I went to our private forum and posted this:

Romans 6:5-14 (New King James Version)

5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

I think God is more willing to bless people who have self-control. Giving good stuff to people who can’t control themselves is like giving loaded pistols to three-year-olds. I got free of gluttony, and suddenly, I found myself cooking in a big commercial kitchen and getting lots of recognition for it. My guess is that God is more likely to give good spouses to people who have conquered lust, and that he is more likely to give prosperity to people who have beaten covetousness and greed. If these ideas are right, fasting is pretty important.

Wish us luck, and get on the bandwagon if you want.

I Will Fear no Pants

Friday, June 25th, 2010

King of the Closet

Yesterday I had a major guitar breakthrough. I think I connected with an amp and electric guitar.

I already had two amps. One is a Fender Blues Jr. (tubes) and the other is a cheapo solid-state Crate. The Crate is just unforgivable; I only got it because it gave me some hope of getting distortion at low volumes. The Blues Jr. sounds fine but doesn’t do much until you turn it up (or maybe I don’t know how to use it).

I picked up a Vox AC4TV (tubes), and I cranked the power down to 1/4 watt, which is 1/60 of what the Blues Jr. consumes. It didn’t sound all that great. I had the tone control up pretty high, because I thought this would fuzz up the tone, and I had the volume control very low, because…silly me…I thought this would reduce the volume.

I decided to try it the other way around. The amp only has two sound controls, so it’s not like I had a big choice. I turned the volume way up and turned the tone way down. What did I get? Neat fuzzy distortion, like Otis Rush. Actually, it’s more like his voice than his guitar. It sounded wonderful. I couldn’t put the guitar down.

A long time ago, when I was shopping for an electric guitar, I found an ES355 (or was it an ES330?) which had a similar sound. This is the sound I like.

Don’t try to help me understand why “volume” means “tone” and “tone” means “volume.” I don’t care. It works.

“COINCIDENTALLY,” I’ll be cooking for my church’s Saturday-night Rhythms Lounge event tomorrow, and guess who the guest is? Zachary Freeman. He’s a jazz and blues guitarist. His mom is a pastor at the church. Pretty cool. I haven’t heard him, but people at church rave about him.


Whatever. You believe what you want. I’m going to stay connected to the power supply.

My miracle weight loss is continuing. I put on a few pounds while I worked on desserts for my church, and I also discovered Five Guys, so I have been concerned. Today I weighed myself, and it appears that the weight loss is progressing again. Fantastic. Only God could do this. I don’t diet; I’m not gifted with perfect willpower. I’m just not a fat person any more. It’s as if I had been born to be thin. I hope I knock off ten more pounds, so none of my pants will be able to intimidate me. I wore my super-thin black jeans to church on Wednesday. I still need to lose an inch to make them comfortable. I bought them for riding motorcycles; grease and dirt don’t show up much on black jeans.

I got to the range yesterday and chronographed some 10mm ammunition. I don’t have the results before me, but it looks like 12 grains of No. 7 powder will give me good results, and 12.5 might be ideal. At 12 grains, I get 1200 fps, and I want 1250. One disappointment: my Wolf primers seem hard. Two out of twenty failed to go off on the first try. This is fine for target practice, but for self-defense, I’m going to need something like Federal. I am told Federal primers are the softest.

The primers and cases looked okay after firing.

The gun shoots great. My accuracy was affected by the way I had to contort myself to fire through the chronograph, but I shot more than well enough to splatter an assailant’s brains. The recoil tires my hand a little, though, so I think the gun would tend to lose accuracy after a dozen or two dozen rounds. Not enough to matter in a self-defense situation, but it would be annoying in practice sessions.

The consistency of the handloads (especially the low-powered target rounds) was very good. I plan to load defensive rounds one at a time, for total confidence, but for routine target shooting, I think I can rely on my powder measure.

I also tried my Bill Springfield AR trigger. It’s better than the stock trigger, which is not exactly a surprise. I’m not sure I love it, though. Still seems a little balky.

I had to buy cheesy PMC .308 ammo, because I left my Radway Green at home. I don’t know how good PMC rifle ammuntion is, but their pistol ammunition is the worst I’ve tried.

Yesterday, I was shooting into an area the size of a baseball at 100 yards. Acceptable under the circumstances, but I would like to do better. A range officer who shoots .308 says reloading is the only answer. If I start reloading, I think it will be time to consider a .260 Remington upper, which was my real goal anyway. Maybe the .308 upper was a mistake. It looks like I can’t do precision shooting with cheap ammo, so the money I save may be a hollow blessing. Still, if times get really hard, cheap ammo in large quantities may be a real asset, and I can’t get that in .260.

The Leupold scope is a dream come true. I don’t even understand all the knobs yet. The field of view is gorgeous, and everything is sharp.

Speaking of hard times, a man named Hank Kunneman appeared on Sid Roth’s show yesterday, claiming to be a prophet. He said God had showed up a couple of things. First, the next couple of years will be pretty rough, and it will seem like Obama is doing very poorly. Second, God intends to reverse some of the bad legislation Obama has signed, and he intends to change the Supreme Court.

He reminded us to pray for our leaders, and he was right about that. I think Obama is an embarrassment and an obstacle to God’s work, but I have resolved to pray, daily, that God will change his heart and the hearts of our other leaders. The Bible tells us we have a duty to pray for our leaders, so I’m going to stay on it. I also pray that God will take down leaders who refuse to change, replacing them with godly men. So I’m covered either way!

I hate to say it, but I feel bad for Obama. I believe he is in for a long stretch of humiliation, and if he doesn’t get right with God and the Jews, there probably won’t be any end to it. Remember Nebuchadnezzar, wandering around on all fours, eating grass.

I don’t know if Hank Kunneman is the real thing or not, so caveat emptor.

I’m out.

More Favor

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

A Lean Year Can be a Blessing

I had a funny moment this morning.

On Tuesdays, my dad and I have breakfast together at a local restaurant. We have been doing this for years. Today when we walked in and chose a table, a lad–total stranger–stopped me and said she had to tell me something.

This is Miami. You can imagine my thoughts. “Process server.” “Hare Krishna.” “Angry liberal who doesn’t like my NRA T-shirts.”

She said, “You look so HANDSOME since you’ve lost weight!”

I didn’t know what to say! She said she had noticed the change over the last few months. I had no memory of seeing her before today.

I thanked her, and we sat down to eat. My dad was happy about it. Anything good that happens to me reflects on him, as far as he’s concerned.

Why is this a big deal? Because it’s an answer to prayer. I want my father to accept Jesus and be baptized with the Holy Spirit, but he hates Christianity, so I pray for God to show him that I am more blessed than he is, so he’ll want what I have, and so he’ll get it through faith and obedience.

My dad has a real problem with food. When we go to this restaurant, sometimes he moves us from one booth to another because he needs extra room. Since August, he has seen me lose weight without effort, and today, he got a very loud reminder, in a place where he has to face the temptation that causes his problem.

That was pretty cool.

It was one of those things that are so weird, they have to originate in the supernatural.

As for her taste in men and her eyesight, well, we have to make allowances.

The weight loss itself was supernatural. God did it all. I am really sick of people trying to tell me I did it. It actually makes me angry sometimes. Sometimes people have an offensive insistence on “debunking” miracles. If God works miracles for people they know, it poses a threat, because it means God is real, and they need to change their lives and draw closer to him. It’s easier to put the credit where it does not belong. “An earthquake parted the Red Sea.” “Evolution proves God exists.” You know the mindset.

When you try to give me the credit for this, you are encouraging me to steal from God. That is not helpful to me, no matter how grateful you think I should be for the praise. I could not have done this, and I do not want to fall into the trap of thinking I blessed myself. I know you mean well, but so did Peter, when he objected to the crucifixion. And you know what Jesus said in reply.

Speaking of the supernatural, I saw something interesting on Sid Roth’s show yesterday. The show is called It’s Supernatural, and it always features Christians who have experienced supernatural manifestations. Sometimes I’m very suspicious of these people, but I liked the folks he interviewed yesterday. Their names are Ken and Jeanne Harrington.

They talked about the supernatural things God had done in their lives, and if I understood them correctly, they tied all of it to obeying certain Biblical principles, such as humility and honesty.

They made a good impression on me, and I can tell you why. They’re not sharp, oily, polished people. They seem very nice, but they are extremely ordinary. They’re not highly educated. They don’t have a bunch of cribbed preacher jokes to sling at the camera. They dress normally. No chin beards or hair gel or funny suits in colors heterosexual Caucasian men ordinarily shun. And they don’t push an overpriced seminar or a set of pricey tapes, as far as I know. They host “workshops,” and they have a book called Shift!, and I think that’s about it.

I enjoyed listening to them, because they reminded me that while transformation through the Holy Spirit is the most powerful thing in a Christian’s life, the earthly approach matters, too. You can’t just sit around praying in tongues all day. You have to read the Bible, and you have to try to change. The Holy Spirit guides you and gives you the power to succeed at this, but you have to act. Sometimes I underemphasize the importance of earthly tools.

They talked about the importance of avoiding attempts to justify yourself, even when you’re wronged. When you have a conflict, you are very likely to be wrong to some extent, even if the other person is almost completely at fault. Instead of insisting that person take all the blame, you should take responsibility for your part in the mess and apologize.

That makes sense, because Christianity is about growth. If you insist you’re right, and you believe it, you will not try to improve yourself. You will cut off the flow of growth. You can’t grow without admitting the need to grow. This is a lesson I am trying to implement in my own life, and I am not doing a great job.

So much of evil has to do with holding onto unprofitable things. Covetousness is an example. To covet is to set your heart on something. When you set your heart on something, you exalt yourself. You’re saying you know what the future should hold. You can’t walk by faith, if that’s your attitude. If you read the Bible, you’ll see story after story of people receiving the unexpected from God. They hoped for certain things, and God gave them different things, and it turned out God was right. This is the essence of Christian living. You can’t live this way if you covet. When you covet, Satan tells your flesh you need a certain thing, and your flesh tells your mind, and in the end, Satan rules your mind through the flesh. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. God is supposed to rule your mind, and your mind is supposed to rule your flesh.

When you covet, you refuse to grow. You’re like a kid who never learns to eat solid food, because he insists on continuing to breast-feed.

I think addiction is the most powerful expression of this principle. An addict refuses to move forward. He is so in love with the pleasures of the past, he will not try to free himself from them in order to make room for the greater pleasures God has planned for the future. If you know an addict, you know what I mean. They’re obsessed with the past. Blame. Offenses. Other people’s sins. Anything that excuses the refusal to grow. We’re supposed to move forward constantly, without letting anything get a grip on us and hold us back. Addicts never grow past the ages at which their addictions start. They remain immature, like teenagers, all of their lives.

We are told not to love this life. The reason is that the next life is better, and we have to let go of this one to get it. By worrying too much about success and pleasure in this life, we treat it the way an addict treats drugs. We become addicted to it. We covet it.

I might buy that book. I suspect that some of Sid Roth’s guests are con artists, but I don’t see how the Harringtons can do me any harm.

They mentioned something interesting. We have had many revivals which have failed. We have seen miraculous manifestations of God’s power in revivals that failed. God will let us perform miracles sometimes, even when we are not walking in his will. They said the emphasis on character was missing.

As Paul taught, the spiritual gifts, without the fruit (righteousness derived supernaturally from the Holy Spirit) can actually be liabilities. It’s a good thing to keep in mind, especially if God has started allowing you to use his power. The charismatic churches have had a lot of problems caused by allowing the flesh to use the spiritual gifts. I don’t have to name famous pentecostal preachers who have disgraced their offices; we all know who they are.