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Archive for the ‘Fat’ Category

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.

IT’S COINCIDENCE! DARWIN! DARWIN! SOCIALISM! VIVA CHE! OBAMA WILL SAVE US!

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.

Cinderella Boy

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Tears in his Eyes, I Guess

I keep waking up full of energy, ready to attack the day.

This is not normal.

I have always hated getting up in the morning. For that matter, I have never been a big fan of going to bed. When I was in college, my friends used to bang on my door with their fists at noon, trying to get me up so I could have lunch with them at Happy Burger, over on Broadway.

Great burgers, by the way.

To get back to mornings, for most of my life, I have regarded getting up as a great evil, to be avoided at all costs. I used to get up and literally stumble around, trying to get it together. I would do stupid things like putting the cereal in the refrigerator and the milk in the cupboard. It was pretty awful.

For a long time, I’ve used coffee to reset my morning clock. I would get up and have a quart of coffee to get the wheels turning. It worked pretty well, although it tended to make me a little crabby later on. Which I sort of enjoyed. Okay, not really.

A while back, I started getting the idea that God wanted me to give up coffee. It started keeping me awake at night, which was new. I would drink coffee to get up and take antihistamine to get to sleep. I began to feel as though it was time to let the caffeine go.

This was alarming. I have nearly given up artificial sweeteners, I can’t drink sugary soda all day, fruit juice is just as sugary as soda, and tea gives me kidneystones. Without coffee, I would be lost. What would I drink? A Christian can’t swill beer all day. Not unless he’s a monk. Then it’s okay. Ha ha. Religious humor.

I gave up real coffee, switching to decaf. If there is a difference in the taste, I can’t tell. I thought I would miss the caffeine rush, but that hasn’t happened. I get up every morning and have a quart of unleaded, I enjoy it, and I don’t get crabby. No crabbier than I was to start with.

I thought I would be unable to move until noon, but that hasn’t panned out. I wake up, I spend an hour or so in prayer, and I get out of bed anxious to get stuff done and experience the day. That is just plain weird. Like a mental illness. I don’t understand it. But it’s wonderful.

I had to have coffee to go with breakfast. My breakfast is pathetic. I eat a small amount of oatmeal with salt and sugar or maple syrup. I have to have something else with it, or I would go insane. Now I eat my oatmeal and enjoy my decaf, and I don’t miss country ham and hot biscuits and gravy. All that much.

I’ll tell you something funny. When you fast regularly, no matter what you eat for breakfast, your first meal of the day will seem like a banquet. You will wake up every morning and think, “Thank GOD I don’t have to drink water all day today.” I enjoy my crappy oatmeal and fake coffee a great deal.

We have spirits that hinder us and sap our energy and waste our time and discourage us. I think mine are getting pounded these days. I feel full of optimism, and I am receiving what Christians refer to as “favor,” which means things are going well even when I’m not paying attention.

I’ll give an example. I kept thinking about buying an AR10. But they cost a lot of money. Although I knew Gunbroker was hopeless, I looked at the ads. One day a gun I liked popped up for a hundred dollars below cost. If you order one from the factory, it takes months, because Obama is the savior of the gun industry and he has increased demand beyond manufacturers’ wildest hopes. Still, I got it for very little.

Let’s see. Here is another one. I designed a Cafepress T-shirt and ordered one for myself. When it came, it seemed to have some kind of goo on the front. I called and complained. They said they would send me a new one, but they said the old one might be okay after I washed it. So I washed it, and it came out fine, and I get to keep the first one. So I have two shirts.

I already wrote the story about my ticket to the National Day of Prayer.

Now my church’s cafe is going nuts. I have been frustrated because of the lack of a beverage fountain, and since I started making cheesecake, I have been thinking about the need for stuff that will allow us to sell cold food. I went to church yesterday, and there was a beautiful new Pepsi fountain at the cafe! It was there on Sunday, but I didn’t notice. And the pastor who runs the cafe started telling me about all the new stuff they were getting, so people would be able to buy cold things like desserts! I never told him we needed that. Never mentioned it, as far as I know.

Psalm 127 says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows, for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” That last bit can also be translated, “He blesses his beloved even when they sleep.” It appears to be true.

Christians consistently overrate hard work. We want to feel like we’re showing our gratitude by working hard, but in reality, it’s a form of pride. We’re supposed to be given things we do not deserve, and we are supposed to glorify God for it. Sure, we work, but it’s not supposed to be utter drudgery. After all, Jesus said his yoke was easy and his burden was light. Your main obligations are to have faith and obey, not to do the heavy lifting. After all, Moses didn’t have to part the Red Sea with a bucket.

It can be very comforting to let yourself suffer and sweat, because it makes you feel like a martyr, and deep in your heart, you may start thinking you deserve the things you get from God. But it’s pride. There is nothing righteous about it. Adam didn’t deserve the trees in the garden. The Hebrews didn’t deserve manna or the Promised Land. We don’t deserve the Holy Spirit or the many blessings we get from God. We are welfare cases. Best to accept it. The suffering that is necessary is sufficient. We don’t have to add to it. That’s what I think.

And much of the work we do for God doesn’t feel like work, so it’s wrong to glorify yourself for doing it.

By the way, the rifle arrived faster than I thought I would. I posted a Youtube of me getting it ready to use. Check it out.

Atmosphere is Half of Fine Dining

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Food Fumes Give me Visions

Mike has made a big difference in my life. He helped me learn how to make pizza and garlic rolls, and he also turned me on to the Popeil Showtime Rotisserie.

Right now I have a choice Winn-Dixie roast on the twin spits. I smeared it with butter, salt, and garlic, cut the ribs off, tied them back on, let it sit in the fridge for a day, and fired up the oven. The smell is indescribable.

The ideal side dish? A baked potato with sour cream. But being the thin person that I am, I’m going to have to have fairly small portions.

I’ve got the ingredients for cinnamon rolls made up, so I can smell those, too.

I could charge people to smell this house.

The Shekinah Diet

Friday, April 16th, 2010

New Shorts

I went to Old Navy. Got four pairs of size 30 cargo shorts. I am not happy with the new belt I got at the Gap, and it’s too messed up to return, so I looked at belts. Found the perfect item marked down to $8.99. Size? “S.”

I am wearing the belt and a pair of the shorts now. This is fantastic.

Now all I have to do is settle on a garlic roll recipe, so I won’t have tempting test batches lying around.

The Inner Man and the Outer Pants

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I’m in Here Somewhere

I have to run a fairly joyful errand today. It’s time to give away these huge, baggy, size 32 cargo shorts and get some in 30.

Pick your jaws up off your keyboards. I don’t know what the real size of these pants is, but it’s not 32. It’s probably 34. Manufacturers mislabel clothes because they know fat people like wearing small sizes. Still, this is pretty great.

This weekend I had to go to the Gap and get a 32″ (nominally) belt. That felt nice.

I was worried about my weight because Mike came to town. We did all-you-can-eat ribs at Sonny’s. We tried Five Guys. You can imagine the carnage. But I’m okay. I may have picked up a pound or two, but the crisis is past, and the trend is still downward, as far as I know.

I should have realized: only fat people have to worry about occasional excesses. I’m not a fat person. To a fat person, a visit from Mike would be a pivotal event leading to disaster. To me, it’s a speed bump and a pleasant break. The miracle God gave me is not going away. I will not be brought down by a few days of good eating.

Listen to me and try to get this for yourself. Don’t let me sit here and blather about it, to no constructive end. Put it to use. Fast and pray. In particular, pray in the Spirit every day, for a good long time. Cast your little visitors out. I’m free. You should be able to get free, too.

Don’t assume it’s limited to food. Do you have allergies? Depression? Chronic illness? Unforgiveness you can’t shake? Anger? I would think that any problem originating in the flesh or the spirit realm would be vulnerable to attack. God gives us the fruit of the Spirit (strength of character) to beat the flesh, and he gives us faith (a fruit of the Spirit and also among the gifts of the Spirit) to beat demons.

My nighttime allergies have disappeared. Can’t figure that out. I didn’t do anything. The other day I awoke and realized I had been sleeping on my back. That’s new. Allergies and a fat neck make sleeping on your back difficult.

Perry Stone said something interesting. Demons like to try to come back after certain amounts of time. He mentioned six months as one such period. I can’t recall the others. They were shorter. I think one interval was two weeks.

This makes sense. Satan is called the Lord of the Flies. What do flies do when you shoo them away? They buzz around and then return. And Jesus informed us that demons like to go back into their hosts.

Some believe “Lord of the Flies” is a corruption, and that the original term meant something like “Lord of Poop.” I am not an expert on the devil’s names, but I saw a spirit stuck to the wall of my house, and more than anything else, it resembled a winged insect. More like a beetle or roach than a fly, but it had wings, and it flew.

And like demons, flies are attracted to rot and death. Some types bite and sting and suck our blood. So I think “Lord of the Flies” is probably correct.

I think it makes sense that as you grow in the Spirit and drop chronic sins, certain negative things will start to fall off without explanation. The other day it occurred to me that increased righteousness will make you “slippery” to Satan. Sin is like a handle he can use to control you, so the less you sin, the harder it is for him to get a grip. And the spiritual power that grows inside you probably drives a certain percentage of your tormentors off, even if you don’t address them intentionally. To a demon, it must be like living next door to a poorly shielded nuclear reactor.

I really look forward to driving all of my giant pants to Goodwill.

We Covet What we See

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Oh, Wait. Was He a Great Big Fat Person?

I did a very bad thing today. I hit GFS on the way home from church.

I’ve been making pizza for our Tuesday night services, which are enormous, but they lock the cafe during the services, so instead of selling 20 pizzas, I’ve been selling 8. That seemed like a waste of time, and I need to free myself up so I can work as an armorbearer once in a while, and I recently learned they’re opening during the week for lunch. So I went in today and cooked.

I don’t think this was a great idea. I sold 5 pizzas. They scared me by talking about a lunch time rush, so I made 12 dough portions, but I ended up throwing 6 out.

At least I got on the road to go home early.

The kitchen was very low on olive oil, so I decided to visit Gordon Food Supply. I went to the one in Little Havana. For some reason, they have an exceptional selection of pizza products.

I bought Sinatra brand Italian tomatoes, on a gamble. I thought they might be like Cento Italian tomatoes. I don’t need them. In fact, they’re too expensive to use at church. But I got them anyway, because I JUST HAD TO.

I bought a can of Escalon 6-in-1 tomatoes. I tried them a long time ago and decided not to use them, but I couldn’t resist refreshing my memory.

I got a 25-pound bag of GFS Primo Gusto flour. It’s supposed to be sort of like All Trumps, which makes excellent Sicilian. I got bags so I can freeze the excess. I know this is crazy, but it beats paying a much higher per-pound rate for dubious grocery flour.

I picked up FOUR GALLONS of pomace oil for the church. Now I can relax for a while. And I bought my new secret sauce ingredient. Which is a secret.

I got a can of Saporito sauce. I use it at church, so I think it’s best to use it here when doing research. I also got some Primo Gusto 50/50 mozzarella/provolone. That was stupid, but it had been so long since the last time I tried it, I could not resist.

I had to make a pie with Sorrento cheese today, because we ran out of Costco cheese. I have to say, it’s very good. Nothing wrong with it. Just as good as Grande, as far as I can tell. But the flavor is as mild as Grande. If you like that, buy Sorrento. It’s the real thing. It’s just not Kirkland!

Now this stuff is sitting here, staring at me. I can’t make pies and stuff myself. All I can do is make test pies and eat tiny amounts, possibly even spitting the food out before I swallow it. My intellectual and artistic curiosity will be satisfied, but nothing else will be.

I can’t make thin pizza because I blew up my stone in an experiment worthy of Beavis and Butt-head. I need to get to Bed Bath and Beyond so I can buy a new one.

When I left GFS, I took a photo of the food I had bought, and I sent it to Mike. This is what male friends do. We make each other suffer. I had no choice.

I actually ate pizza for lunch. These days that rarely happens. I had a slice and a half. I feel like a glutton. The first slice was mainly for sustenance and partly to test the Sorrento cheese. The half-slice was just a test. My lovely beverage? The usual. Water.

Even though the pie had sat on top of the oven for a long time, it was sublime. I am sure God’s hand is in the recipe. Who else could make me love pepperoni?

I’m glad God has given me control over my diet. Thrilled and amazed, actually. But when I describe what I eat, it sounds pretty boring.

I’m thinking I’ll have wings for dinner. They’re fairly harmless from a caloric standpoint (if you go easy on the butter and dressing), and I could use something tasty and light with lots of meat in it.

Today at church, one of my friends ordered two slices and dipped them in a mixture of wing sauce and ranch dressing. I couldn’t believe it. It was a little gross. But brilliant.

Deep in your heart, I know you agree.

Here’s an unexpected reward that came from watching him eat: I saw how beautiful the underside of the pizza was. I don’t get to see much of that when I’m eating, since I hold the slice right-side-up. It was breathtaking.

Gore’s Revenge

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Pope Prius I Drops a Curse on Me

Mike has failed me. He was supposed to be in Miami this week. We were going to cook at church, possibly leading to our being held hostage by the crowd and forced to continue cooking until the gas ran out.

It’s a big week, too. First of all, next week is the Jesus of Nazareth play, so attendance will be good. Easter brings the contrite out of their holes. Second, I have new sample cheeses to try.

Our Sysco rep brought Sorrento whole-milk mozzarella and Arrezzio mozzarella. I heard a rumor that Arrezzio is the same as Kirkland, so I had to try it. I wanted to bake a bunch of test pies, with Mike’s help. And he’s not here…because his PRIUS is sick.

I asked him what he was doing for clean laundry. [rimshot]

He said lived across the street from Sears, so he just walked over there and bought new huskies.

I had forgotten huskies. The only thing worse than being a kid who wears fat pants is being a kid who wears fat pants with the word “HUSKY” attached to the waistband.

Anyway, if he can get his Prius working (I think the agitator is bent), he’ll be here this weekend. If he could be here on Saturday, it would be tremendous. We could occupy the church kitchen and have the armorbearers judge the cheese.

Speaking of fat pants, I won’t be wearing mine any time soon. By the end of the week, with God’s help, I’ll probably be down 28 pounds from August. At that point, if I still look bad, it will be because I’m ugly, not fat. There’s a difference.

The cast of the play will need food. Mike HAS to be here. We can try to kill them. Talk about epic. Pray for Mike’s Prius!

What should I make for the cast? Just pizza? I was thinking ziti, chili, macaroni and cheese, brownies, and maybe cheesecake. Not all of these things at once. But I was thinking I might make some of them.

I still have to try Cento cherry tomatoes on pizza. They’re sitting in my kitchen cabinet. I’m sure they’ll be no good, since other people have tried them, but there is no substitute for personal research.

These are the exciting things that occupy my mind today.

Cheap Knives and Borborygmi

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Plus More Food Network Fail

I had a fine day of pizza-making at Trinity Church.

Today I decided to go Hawaiian. I made pizzas with pineapple, onions, ricotta, and ham. They were very good, but for some reason, Hawaiian toppings seem to work best on thin pizza. And the people at my church are addicted to pepperoni. I had a hard time getting rid of the Hawaiians, except for the few highly cultured people who knew the score. They were thrilled.

I also made pies with kalamatas, onions, green peppers, and ham. I am told a lot of people at Trinity have problems with ham, because it’s “slave food.” Arrggh. Where did this myth come from? Slaves ate pork. No doubt about it. So did their rich masters. In the South, pork is not considered poverty food. Everybody loves it. So giving someone pork to eat is not a sign of disrespect.

The crazy thing about the “slave food” idea is that Muslims like to push it. And who treats black people worse than Muslims? They were big in the slave trade. Still are! And Mohammed was a red-headed white man.

Whatever. I’m not going to quit putting pork on pizza. I wonder if people realize pepperoni is pork.

There is nothing like pork. No other readily available meat can begin to do what it does. Pork is magical. Pork means ribs, bacon, country ham, prosciutto, serrano ham, chicharrones, biscuits, cream gravy, redeye gravy, salt pork, lechon asado, and ham hocks. We’re talking about some of the finest eating available. I love a good prime steak, but other than that, beef isn’t in the same league.

I wish I hadn’t brought this up. I’m planning to start a fast soon. Ordinarily, I don’t like to talk about fasts with much specificity, because Jesus cautioned people about passing themselves off as hyper-righteous while fasting. But since I admit I’m fasting for purely selfish reasons, and because I don’t pretend to feel spiritual while I’m doing it, I have no problem mentioning this fast. I plan to whine pretty much continuously. That’s just how I roll.

I’m fasting because I want more power and freedom in my life. And I want God to help my dad and my sister. To me, it’s like taking a flea dip. It’s all about me and my needs. I got some good stuff when I fasted before, and I want more. How’s that for asceticism?

We still have no slicer at church, so I took my $10 Chinese cleaver. Don’t be foolish and buy a Shun or another high-end Japanese vegetable cleaver until you’ve tried the Chinese carbon-steel jobs. This thing has nice hard steel, it sharpens fast, and it will take an edge so fine you can hold a paper towel in front of you and wave the cleaver through it like a light saber. Okay, not quite like a light saber. But it will cut all the way through in one easy pass.

A lady volunteer thought it was a spatula, and she pried a slice of pizza off a pan. Later, when I realized this, I told her to watch out, because it was actually a razor-sharp knife. Then she showed me the cut on her hand. She was lucky; it was tiny. You could easily cut your self to the bone with this thing before you realized you had a problem.

It’s frustrating, having sharp kitchen knives around women. They never expect knives to be sharp, and it seems like whenever a woman picks up a sharp kitchen knife, the blood starts to flow. You have to watch them and hide the knives. I tried to keep mine to myself today, but she found it anyway.

My mother used to get mad at me for sharpening knives. Can you imagine?

The Chinese cleaver has mysterious powers. For some reason, you can mince with it, much faster and better than you could with a regular knife with an edge of the same length. You can load food on it and move it. You can cut food–even big food–in slices so thin they’re transparent. It’s sturdy enough to cut meat. It’s thin enough to cut potatoes and yuca without being dangerous. It adds iron to your food. And when you use it, you look like Bruce Lee.

I’m getting one for the church. But where will we store it to keep women from killing themselves while using it to flip pancakes? I’m also getting a smaller cleaver for myself. Six bucks. I mean COME ON. How can I not? You can find them at Wok Shop.

I have a Shun and a Tojiro. The Shun is worthless. Alton Brown is a fine person, but the Shun is still worthless, as is my Shun santoku, which chipped badly from the terrible stress of sitting in a dishwasher. The Shun cleaver is the wrong shape and size for anything you will want to do with it. I’ll bet I haven’t used mine in three years.

The Tojiro is a nice cleaver for big jobs, but it was very expensive, and I’m afraid to use it, and you can get a Chan Chee Ki for like $25.

The down side of Chinese cleavers is that they rust, IF you can’t figure out how to use a paper towel. However you don’t have to worry about big pieces falling out of them because the dishwasher is just too stressful for their dainty constitutions. Alton Brown hand-washes his Shuns, handling them as though they were booby-trapped hemophiliac burn victims with painful fractures that needed to be set.

No wonder. If you let one drop into your sink, you would find chunks of it on the bottom later.

The crazy thing about Brown and his washing technique is that he demonstrates it in a video intended to sell Shun knives. “Look what a pain it is to take care of these! And a set only costs three thousand dollars! Buy a bunch of them! Wait, come back!”

My Shun bird’s beak paring knife is also worthless. My $5 Forschner holds a better edge and sharpens faster, and it’s a more useful size and shape. And it’s tougher. I’m not quite sure what it is about the Shun that’s supposed to make it desirable.

If you like cool knives, buy Shuns. If you like to cook, buy Chinese.

No, don’t buy Shuns no matter what. They are the beige minivans of Japanese knives. There are far cooler knives available on the web. If you’re going to buy cuteness instead of functionality, do it right. Go to Japanesechefknife.com and look around. Check out the Mr. Itou knives. You’ll wonder why anyone ever bought a Shun.

I wonder why I did.

God is really something. Imagine a being who could give me something so wonderful after a fast that I would come to look forward to fasting. I am determined to move forward and build on what I have.

I better have some pie.

More

Turns out my Japanese bird’s beak knife is actually a Tojiro, not a Shun. Whatever it is, it does not hold an edge, and the rest of my comments still apply.

Where to Buy Armor

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Low Discount Prices!

Earlier this week, I read a familiar Bible passage and got something new from it.

Every charismatic or evangelical Christian knows Ephesians 6, with its description of the armor of God:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints . . .

I think this passage was intended to encourage us to seek God’s righteousness. In other words, the righteousness you can only have after the Holy Spirit works in you.

It says, “be strong in the Lord.” The phrase “in the Lord” is one of those expressions Christians toss around without making any effort to understand what it means. But it must mean something, or it wouldn’t be in the Bible. And “be strong in the Lord” must mean something.

I think it means, “Use the Lord’s strength.” The New Testament often reminds us that we can’t be good on our own. Why would it do that, if there were no other hope of being good? I don’t think that would make sense.

In Galatians 5, we are told that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally provide us with the following positive characteristics, known as “the fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Oddly, faith is listed as a fruit of the Spirit and also as a gift of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12).

Notice that these are not known as “the fruit of hard work.”

Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” What does “walk in the Spirit” mean? I don’t believe it means “think of spiritual things” or “try to be spiritual.” That would be silly, because that’s what the Jews had to do before the New Covenant. They had to rely on their own efforts. We are supposed to have a different deal with God.

I believe it means “develop God’s character and power supernaturally, through the Holy Spirit, and walk in your new nature.”

It would not make sense for the Bible to tell us to do something we can’t do. But refraining from sin is, for all practical purposes, impossible. This is especially true for addicts and other people living in demonic bondage. What good does it do to tell such a person, “Walk in the Spirit, bro!” It’s not very helpful. If you have a bondage you hate, you’re already trying to get rid of it. Being reminded that you need to quit, and that you’re not being spiritual, is not a great blessing.

We are told God will give us ways to escape temptation. Does that mean every time you feel tempted, you’re going to find a practical, useful way to get out of it, in the moment of temptation? It does not seem to work that way in practice. It has not worked for me, and I have considerable faith in God. The promise must be true, however. So what does it mean? Maybe it means that over time, through fasting and prayer in the Spirit and casting out demons, you’ll be given the supernatural power to beat temptation. Maybe the failures are okay, because they serve to remind you that your own efforts were useless.

That’s how it worked for me. I stuffed myself all the time–a chronic sin–and I could only quit for finite periods, and then I went back to it. Then God delivered me from the problem. Now I’m still tempted, but I can say no, on a consistent and prolonged basis. I’m down about 26 pounds. I can move. I can wear some of my “real” clothes. I feel comfortable.

Drug and alcohol addicts who have cried out to God have had the same experience. At 3:07 p.m., you’re hopelessly addicted. At 3:08 p.m., you’re free for life. It happens. It’s not even rare.

God gives people supernatural character. He runs off the demons that tempt them. Put it together, and you get freedom.

One of the big problems with evangelicals and charismatics is that we tend to demand God’s blessings without building the right foundations. You can say, “no evil shall befall me, neither shall any plague come nigh my dwelling” all day, but if you’re in line for a dose of chastisement, you should not expect it to work all that well. If your behavior and faith are wrong, you will have problems. You can’t leave the screens off your windows and then complain about flies. Although salvation is free, power and protection and other blessings are partly contingent on good behavior and clean motives and thoughts. To receive them, we need to put on the armor of God. But it appears to be impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit.

I’ll tell you right now, there is no possibility that I’ll succeed at it in my own strength. It’s not even worth trying. I know myself. I can’t change my behavior permanently or thoroughly, and even if I could, I can’t change my attitudes and desires. I have iniquities, which are persistent evil inclinations. I procrastinate. I am contentious sometimes. I am often lazy. I tend to ridicule people and get angry for no good reason. I have problems with lust. These things don’t rule every second of my life, but they pop up and cause problems. I can’t get rid of them just by thinking happy thoughts. The human mind doesn’t work that way, and even if it did, some or all of these things have their roots in the presence and activity of hostile spirits. Stuart Smalley can’t help you with those. You’re not good enough, and you’re not smart enough.

What does Paul expect us to do, then? It looks like he gave us the answer at the end of the passage, which is not often quoted: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Pray always in the Spirit. Pray in tongues, in other words. That make sense, because we are told elsewhere that it will build us up.

For centuries, we have denied the validity of the baptism with the Spirit, we have refused to perform and accept it as an act separate from water baptism, and we have condemned prayer in tongues. And Christianity has been very disappointing during this time. We tried to convert people at the edge of swords. We tortured Jews. We turned the Papacy into Tammany Hall, at least in the past. We gave anti-Christians ammunition they still use against God today, as though the Inquisition had ended last week. And the flow of miracles was nearly cut off. Healings were considered so extraordinary, people traveled to places like Lourdes instead of expecting healing in their own churches. In January, I got healed in a church parking lot in Miami Gardens. Saved me the price of a ticket to France.

Without the Spirit, we acted like animals, and prayers did not get answered, and God’s power was not manifested much. No wonder the church isn’t bigger today. The wonder is that it survived at all.

Paul believed in prayer in tongues. In a letter, he said he did it “more than you all.” In Ephesians, he tells us to keep doing it. Nowhere in the Bible does it say this gift has stopped, or that it will stop before Jesus returns. There is a passage which says spiritual gifts will stop, but it does not mention a time, and it clearly refers to the future, either in the Messianic Age or after death. Eventually, there will be no need for the gifts. That time has not come.

Aside from all that, millions of Christians are praying in tongues, and it’s pretty clear we are not imagining things or under the influence of demons. And it would be extremely odd for God to allow a demon to enter into a person asking for the Holy Spirit to come in. If God does things like that, we have no chance. The Bible says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” How can anyone think God would go back on his word and let us be filled with demons, at the very moment when we are seeking his righteousness?

Here is what Paul said about our fleshly efforts at righteousness, in Galatians 3:

Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

That’s not about water baptism. It’s not about being baptized “in the name” of the Spirit. It’s not about thinking spiritual thoughts. It’s about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the miracles that follow. Converts thought they could observe the Jewish law and perfect themselves. Paul corrected them. Many Christians think they can perfect themselves by obeying Christian law. If the Jews were wrong, how can Christians who believe the same thing be right?

Obedience takes strength, and strength comes from the Holy Spirit. That’s what I believe.

I know of four main things that will get you free, supernaturally. First, prayer in tongues. Second, prayer with your understanding. Third, fasting. Fourth, casting out demons. Put those things together, and you get power. You get freedom to control your behavior. That improves your obedience. That closes doors the enemy can come through to get at you.

I’m planning some fasting. I have some issues to work on. Overall, I’m getting more and more free, but sometimes things I’ve beaten come back to try me again. I’m not going to sit around promising to be good and begging for relief, impliedly telling God (in pride) that I can fix myself. I’m going to invite God to do what I can’t do. It has worked in the past. I have no reason to think it won’t continue working.

I want the screens up and the doors closed, and I want to be free to devote my energy to helping other people instead of myself. To mature as a Christian, you have to love, and love is not just internal. It is manifested in actions. I am not doing a great job, and I’ll be better at it if I’m free of the distraction of my own failings.

Signs and Opportunities

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

The Spirit Moves Me

I had a good day at church, although looking at it superficially, it would not seem so.

Last night I forgot about the time change (or rather, I didn’t know the date in the first place, because I don’t watch TV). I went to bed at the usual hour, thinking everything was swell. Then a neighbor’s unbelievably loud party woke me up at what I thought was 11:00 p.m. I was not too happy about it, but I try not to make trouble for my neighbors if I can avoid it (Psalm 15), so I did not call the cops. Besides; this party had a loud emcee who was yelling in Spanish between salsa numbers, and from the sound of it, the party was quite a distance away. That usually means a fundraiser with a permit. Unbelievably, Coral Gables–the city which will prosecute you for painting your interior walls without permission–will allow you to keep your neighbors up until three a.m. if you get a permit.

While I was lying there awake, I remembered that the time change was in the news, and I checked to see if it was upon me. It was. That was fabulous. I had thought I was being kept awake until 1:00, on the night before rising at 6:00 to make pizza at church. In reality, I was being kept awake until 2:00.

Drove to church and got things moving. Things get more and more efficient; these days I try to make big batches of everything. I started by making about a gallon of yeast mixture, and as soon as I could, I began making dough with the woefully inadequate and messy Kitchenaid mixer.

I managed to get ten batches of dough done, and then I started making pizza, and things went great, except that very few people bought any. Apparently, I was not the only one who forgot the time change.

Things looked better after the second service, but then I realized the pizza wasn’t getting cooked. We had the same problem on Tuesday. The burner in the big convection oven refuses to turn on after a while, so it gets cooler and cooler, until you’re warming raw pizza instead of baking it.

We had a guy look at it this week, but evidently, he did not look at it hard enough. I managed to make a few pizzas in the smaller oven, but eventually, I gave up, and I had to throw out a gallon of sauce and four portions of dough. Orders were cancelled. Depressing.

He’s going to look at it again.

I wandered around looking for things to do, and down the hall, through a glass door, I saw what appeared to be part of an EMT truck, with a flashing light. I got to the end of the hall, and there were three EMTs working on a girl on a table. One of my fellow armorbearers was there. I helped with crowd control. Church was emptying, and half of the crowd had to leave through those doors.

The girl was about 15 and thin. I could see her bare feet at the end of the table, beside the paramedics. Her feet were shaking, as though she were jerking or seizing. Someone had found her unconscious in a bathroom. She was conscious when I saw her, but only barely. They were trying to get her to answer questions.

Prime opportunity to pray. I always pray when I see an ambulance. It’s a rule I have. If I tried to break it, I think I’d be unable to sleep later. Usually, I don’t know who I’m praying for. But here was this kid, on the table. Three feet away. Lucky for her the oven pooped out. Lucky, or something better than lucky.

While I was herding and praying, I saw a homeless guy I talk to on occasion. I say “homeless” because that was what I had suspected. I hadn’t really known. He’s a thin guy who often shows up wearing fatigues. He has a lady friend who sometimes appears with him.

The first time I met him, he was standing in the parking lot, trying to get people’s attention. I pulled over and rolled down the window, and we talked for a minute, and I gave him some assistance. You can’t turn someone down while you’re driving out of the parking lot after church. He appeared to be what is known as a street person. That gave me something to pray about on the way home.

I thought maybe he was someone who showed up at church on rare occasions to ask for favors, but he turned up again not long after that, in a TV audience at the TBN studio. My pastor was hosting Praise the Lord, so I decided to drive to Hollywood and check it out, and there the guy was. So he does go to church when he’s not after anything.

A few nights back, I saw him again, standing in front of the Wal-Mart across the street from the church. I was there to get olive oil and other pizza supplies. He did not look good. I wondered if he was on something. I did not speak to him on the way in, and he didn’t see me. I felt like I should have talked to him, so I decided to look for him on the way out.

He was still there. He looked almost ill. I don’t know what the problem was. I can’t judge. It could be a legitimate medical thing. I asked how he was, and he said something like, “not too good.” He said he was waiting for friends to give him a ride home. He asked which was I was going. I thought I should turn that around for my own sake, so I asked where he needed to go. He said he needed to go to Opa-Locka, which was out of my way. I said I was going south. I did not want to be in Opa-Locka after dark with a guy with this kind of troubles. I didn’t drive him, but I gave him a little help getting home.

Today I saw him leaving the church while we helped the EMTs, and I felt like I should say something, but he and his girlfriend drifted out with the crowd. I thought that was the end of it. I was glad to see him in church, after the way he had looked in front of Wal-Mart.

I went with a pastor and an armorbearer friend while they carried off the linens the girl had lain on; she had been vomiting. We all washed our hands, and I asked my friend if we were having any post-church meetings, and he inquired via radio while I waited. This all took a while. There was no meeting.

I left the building and turned toward my car, and walking toward me, five feet away, were the guy and his girlfriend. Like someone had dropped them there from a hidden chute. Okay, this time we were going to acknowledge each other. We shook hands. Danged if he didn’t need a ride again.

I had turned him town twice in the past, so I figured this was my day. The three of us got in my truck, and off we went to Opa-Locka.

They were thrilled that someone was giving them a lift. It was as if I had bought them the truck. What was I going to do? Drive off in comfort while these people roasted in the parking lot? His girlfriend was so grateful, she gave me a CD. She’s a Christian rapper. I did not see that coming. I thought it was very nice of her to give it to me, in view of their financial outlook, and I said I would listen to it.

We got to know each other a little. When they learned I was a writer, he said he was interested in doing a Christian book. I said it was a great idea, if he had a good testimony. He said he had one. He said he had been hit by a train and nearly blinded in one eye. He didn’t get around to the Christian part, but I admit, I’m always impressed when an able-bodied person tells me he has been hit by a train.

I asked how they found Trinity. His girlfriend said she had seen the church’s big white emblem over and over, on the side of the building, and that she had wanted to check the place out, so she decided they would go. He said they couldn’t always get a ride, and that on one occasion, they had walked.

That was sobering. I would guess they live six miles from the church.

I asked if they belonged to GAP (God Answers Prayer) groups. They did not. I told them it would make them feel more at home in church, and that it would help them get more out of it. He asked when my group met. I told him it met at 8 a.m. on Saturdays. He said that was right up his alley. So now I had that to think about.

She said she was good at teaching kids to sing. I said they probably needed people to do that at Trinity.

I told them about the bus ministry a friend of mine runs. He picks people up in a van and brings them to church. I said I didn’t know if it ran in his area, but that I could find out. I don’t think it does, but I haven’t worked with the bus ministry for a while. I could be wrong. They wrote their names and number on a scrap of paper, and I kept it. He said I should let him know if I knew of any little jobs he could do. Nothing strenuous, because of his condition. I nodded. I don’t really know a lot of people who need odd jobs done, but you never know.

I let them out in front of their house and went on my way.

The first time I met this guy, I was celebrating a victory in my life. That was one reason I had gone to the TBN taping. I wanted to get out of the house and go do something unusual and related to God, and the taping presented itself to me, so I went.

Does it mean anything that he’s suddenly back? Is it a reminder that another personal victory is in the making? It has to have significance. It’s just too weird, otherwise.

I don’t know what to do. I am not an outgoing person, and that is the main reason I don’t do much hands-on charity. When you deal with people who need help, bits of them tend to stick to you. It’s not a clean business. On the other hand, I think the lost are a huge concern to God, and very few people are willing to give them the time of day. Some people sink to the bottom of life, like leaves in a teacup, and they tend to stay there, and we were sent to pull them back up. Only Christians have the means to do it. I have been very conscious of this lately. I think it probably means a lot to people like this, just to be treated with common courtesy and respect.

I am not writing about this to portray myself as a saint. I’ve done almost nothing for these people, and I am not planning to give the man a kidney any time soon. I’m just writing this to document the strange events that took place today, and my impressions of them.

Things are going to get better. God has a good future planned for me.

Make Sure You Swallow the Right Camel

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Latest Development

Man, this is bad. I’m making pizza all the time, and now I’m getting so fat I’m going to have to go back to the clothes I was wearing last year.

NOT!

Had you going, I’ll bet.

Until recently, I had two pairs of jeans I found comfortable. I put my size 36 jeans in a bag for Goodwill a long time ago, and I’ve been wearing smaller ones. Last week I wore a pair while I made pizza for my church, and while I was there, I made the mistake of pulling on a belt loop because my jeans were sliding. I ripped the ancient denim below the loop. And jeans are cheap cotton. They don’t mend well.

That left me with one pair of jeans to get me through the winter, which has been surprisingly cold so far.

Today I got up, and it was about 50 degrees outside, so I started looking for my remaining pair of safe jeans. I couldn’t find them, but I remembered another pair. A while back, I tried on several pairs of jeans that had been moldering in my closet, and one pair almost fit. I set them aside in a drawer, so I’d know where they were when I got small enough to put them on.

Today I decided to take another crack at them. I showered and dried off, held my breath, and pulled them on. They FIT.

I’m not claiming they’re the ideal size. I’m an inch away from true compatibility with these jeans. But they work. I can walk. I can breathe. I can bend. I can tuck my shirt in without going critical and showering the neighborhood with slow neutrons and gamma rays.

Let’s hear it for God! Richard Simmons has nothing on my weight loss expert. A lot of diets can give you a temporary reduction, but who can fix it so you slowly slim down while perfecting pizza recipes? Only one guy, as far as I know.

One of the worst things about being fat is that you will have several wardrobes. You’ll have your fat wardrobe, your one-month-into-your-doomed-diet wardrobe, and your thin or “real” wardrobe, which you will only be able to wear about one month out of every three years. You’ll call it your real wardrobe because you want to think your lowest weight is your natural weight, and that your fat is a temporary aberration. But your real wardrobe is probably your fat wardrobe.

I want to have one wardrobe. Period. Two wardrobes are one too many. I could not do this on my own. I was able to keep fat off for a year or so, and I was able to avoid truly overwhelming obesity, but that was about it.

When I ate, I felt something pushing me. “One more bite.” “You can do it.” “Starve yourself later to make up for it.”

Now that voice is very weak. And something else–something new and unearned–rises up in me and says, “Push the plate away and enjoy tormenting your enemy.”

People keep using the word “diet” to describe what happened to me. I get sick of it. I’m not on a diet. I’m just not a fat person any more. “Diet” robs God of his glory. He did this for me. A diet is something you do for yourself. I’m middle-aged. If I were able to control my weight through strength of character, don’t you think I’d know it by now?

God willing, I’m going to drop another 13 pounds or so. Then people who meet me won’t even suspect I used to be fat. I’ll have to show them photos.

Yesterday I wrote about the stuff God is generously doing in my life, and someone left a nice comment suggesting I have a brain tumor. It left me wondering. Why do people have such a powerful desire to deny God’s work? We’ll do almost anything to find an alternate explanation for a miracle. We’ll make idiotic claims. We’ll say a cure for cancer was psychosomatic, for example.

Give that a try, if you have cancer. Seriously. Sit on your couch for an hour a day and say, “My body has cured my cancer.” You’re still going to die, believe me. I apologize if that makes you feel bad, but you know…you’re still going to DIE, if this is your approach.

And why is a near-magical psychosomatic cure somehow easier to swallow than a miracle? We know of no physical mechanism by which this can occur; there is no direct connection between a positive mindset and a cure. Science has shown that a good attitude is good for your health, but it won’t destroy a big tumor. Psychosomatic cures are a fantasy just as dubious as the fables the lunatic Charles Manson used to make up for his followers. Just as groundless as L. Ron Hubbard’s fairy tales about Xemu and the Thetans. If you can believe something like that, with no evidence at all, why can’t you believe in the power of God, which is supported by the testimonies of countless credible individuals?

A while back, I was instantly healed of a kidney stone, while praying about it in my church’s parking lot. I had no idea a brain tumor could do that! It’s amazing what a brain tumor can do!

FYI, regardless of what you may have seen in B-grade John Travolta movies, brain tumors do not make you brilliant or inspired or cause you to see miracles. They give you headaches. They blur your vision. They make you vomit. You become incontinent. You lose the power of speech. They cause dementia. Look it up. I know someone who is at a high risk of developing brain tumors, so I’ve checked into it. And I saw miracles over twenty years ago. If I have a brain tumor, it’s the slowest-growing tumor in history.

I can think of some reasons why people deny God’s power.

For one thing, people like to sin. Fornication is tremendous fun; let’s admit it. Drugs are a blast. Stealing and cheating bring you great things you otherwise could not get. Violence is cathartic and relaxing. Abusing and dominating other people make you feel strong and important. Selfishness takes a big load off your mind, because you don’t have to worry about other people’s problems.

Sin is enjoyable. And if God exists and has power to act in this world, sin has to be minimized and shunned. No more clubbing and taking a different honey home every night. No more cocaine. No more weed. No more drunkenness. No more materialism. You even have to give up revenge. It’s only natural that people will look for ways to avoid believing in God, with all that at risk.

People also deny God’s power because they don’t see him working in their lives, and they want to convince themselves that this is how it’s supposed to be. It’s not that they’re not doing what’s right in God’s eyes. Their stale denominations and their unproductive doctrines are just fine. The problem is that people like me lie about our supposed miracles. We’re holy rollers and kooks. Christians (or Jews) are supposed to suffer and be defeated in this life, and we’re supposed to be grateful for it and not question it. Nuts like me will be judged for our heresy! Oh, we’ll get ours! We’ll suffer, big time! Hopefully!

Our healings and blessings are either demonic or somehow stolen from God. The real servants of God are the ones who are strong enough to admit that miracles and prophecy ceased permanently a long time ago.

If you admit I’m telling the truth, you may have to admit that some of your doctrine is wrong. I can understand resisting that. I don’t like admitting my doctrine is wrong, either, but sometimes it is. And here I am, losing fat and getting my prayers answered and becoming better able to be a blessing to other people. Am I supposed to quit? Seriously, am I? Are you insane?

I recall the story of the blind man Jesus healed, in the ninth chapter of John. People with bad, man-made doctrine tried to make the blind man condemn Jesus as a magician and a sinner, and instead, he heaped ridicule on them, saying, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

The book of John also says, “Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”

Look, perhaps it’s possible for a charlatan to perform self-serving miracles that offend God, yet which are somehow derived from God’s power. Fine. But when that happens, there is an element of sin involved. There is an evil purpose. Someone makes money from it, or someone steals God’s glory, or man’s will is exalted above God’s. Where is the evil in what happened to me?

1. I made no money from it, nor did anyone else, nor did anyone receive any type of earthly advantage.

2. I credited God and admitted I couldn’t do it on my own.

3. It happened outside of my will; it wasn’t my idea, and I didn’t even ask for it. I’m not like the rabbis in the Talmud who created a calf golem because they were hungry. I didn’t do this. It came as a surprise.

4. I’m trying to help other people get the same thing, even though my only likely reward is contempt.

It’s dangerous to see every ostensibly good thing as a gift from God. You can harm people badly by doing things for them. Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light, and he works miracles. Satan blesses people in order to ruin them, and sometimes false doctrine gives impressive short-term results, like the dark side of the fictional force. I know all that. But sometimes you have to apply a little common sense and think for yourself. If Abraham hadn’t thought for himself, he would have taken over his dad’s idol-making business, and the Jews would not exist.

Call it a tumor. Call it schizophrenia. Say aliens did it to me. Sit up nights violating Occam’s razor, constructing elaborate explanations to make it go away. I can’t stop you. But don’t expect me to listen to your nonsense.

Various Anointings

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Grace and Grease

Yesterday I tried my jug of cheap blended olive oil. I slapped some rolls together without kneading the dough. My only fresh garlic had mold on it, so I used garlic powder. Good enough for an experiment, I figured. And no one would ever know.

Oops.

The rolls were surprisingly good. In fact, it’s surprising that they were good at all. I let them rise for a total of 45 minutes, which is ridiculous. But they worked.

The oil blend is not good. There’s nothing offensive about it, but the olive oil content is so low, you can barely taste it. It reminds me of corn oil. It would be okay for pizza, which doesn’t require as much flavor as rolls, but it would not be as good as extra-light olive oil.

I’m going to add olive oil to it, to create a 50/50 blend. If that works, I can save the church cash by buying olive oil and some other oil at Costco and mixing them. I’m pretty sure I can beat the price of the GFS 50/50 blend. Costco sells extra-virgin for about five bucks a liter. I don’t know what they charge for their other oils, but I can get corn oil for five bucks a gallon. I think corn oil would be a little heavy.

Someone is selling a nice commercial slicer on Craigslist for $200. I may snap that up and lend…ow…ow…ow…okay, GIVE it to the church so they can save money on food.

Sometimes when God pushes me to do something, I feel like Cliff Clavin getting zapped with his psychiatrist’s electric behavior modifier. But I’ve mentioned that before.

I had a remarkable experience this morning. At church this week, my pastor mentioned Psalm 127. I guess I might as well publish the whole thing, since it’s short.

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

He was talking about children, but the part that interested me was the first sentence. This is a belief I hold very firmly. The things you do in this life, no matter how worthy they may seem, are of no value unless God is behind them. You can build a big company, raise successful kids, help the poor, support the church, and still fail to please God or accumulate wealth in heaven, because the things you did were not part of his plan.

The things God builds stay built. Even if the things you do for him don’t last in this world, the reward will be eternal. And he is the only force that can permanently set you free from your problems. Jenny Craig and Betty Ford can set you free for a time, but only God can make you “free, indeed.” To accomplish anything of eternal value, you have to find out what God wants you do to.

That first sentence would be great on a T-shirt.

I decided to look that up today, in my King James Bible. The only King James I have belonged to my mother; my main Bible is the New King James, and I also like The Complete Jewish Bible. I opened her Bible to the 127th psalm, and in the margin next to Psalm 128, I saw my mother’s handwriting. It said “Steve, Dec. 12, 1987.” And she had bracketed the following verses:

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

In this life, I will never know why she put brackets around that language. She died in 1997.

Now that I think about it, this happened at about the same time I received a miraculous healing. Late in 1987, I decided to find a church, and I got sick immediately. I developed something resembling a severe cold, but it refused to leave me. It hung on for weeks. I prayed and exerted my faith, never relenting. One day I saw a dark shape fly away from me and out through a closed door, and I was instantly healed, and my mother witnessed it.

Strange things were happening to me back then. Maybe when I left the church, I put off receiving the blessings that caught my mother’s eye.

Olive plants would be children who are full of the Holy Spirit. That’s what olives symbolize in the Bible. A vine produces fruit; maybe that’s the significance of the reference to a wife, who bears children.

If you do what God intends for you to do, you will be blessed. That’s what Psalm 127 says, by telling us what happens when don’t seek his will. And one of the blessings is named in the second verse of Psalm 128. You will eat the labor of your hands. The things you do won’t be futile. You will profit from them, in a lasting way.

It was encouraging to read that. I’m old, but I still have enough potential in me to get a few things done before I die.

I’ve written about my trip to Israel. I traveled there in 1984 and lived on a kibbutz for four months. I have written a lot about the way God guided me on that trip. Things were put in my path. Doors were opened. I never had to worry about what would happen the next day, or where I would go. This, I thought, was “walking by faith” in a very pure form.

Now I find that my current experiences exceed my experiences in Israel. It’s getting downright strange.

My prayers are being answered, right and left. And I don’t just mean stuffy prayers about God increasing my holiness or whatever. I mean even mundane prayers. I pray for the neighbors’ dogs to shut up while I’m praying, and it happens, every time. If you don’t think a thing like that will freak you out the tenth consecutive time it works, wait until it happens to you.

I was instantly healed of a kidney stone in my church’s parking lot. I have been permanently delivered from overeating; I can work on pizza recipes all day and not gain weight. My church had to fire its cook, and suddenly, I make the best Sicilian pizza I’ve ever eaten. I went to church to make it, and people unexpectedly appeared and started moving equipment around, and in a few minutes, I had the perfect pizza prep station.

There’s more to it than that. I physically feel things taking place during prayer. And it doesn’t always happen during the most intense moments. Sometimes I’ll pause, and I’ll literally feel something happening inside my head. I’ll feel something touching me; lifting tension off of me and easing my mind. I think this may be the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” because I definitely don’t understand it. A couple of nights back, I prayed about my gallbladder, which seems to resent my weight loss, and I felt my gallbladder open up. Once you’ve had pain in your gallbladder, you know exactly where it is, and you can feel what happens to it. From time to time, with increasing frequency, I feel something dropping over me, and I believe it’s the Holy Spirit.

I think I can physically feel faith going up from me to God. Seriously. I think it’s a substance. I believe it rises up to him, and I believe this may explain why the Bible describes our prayers as incense and so on. The 141st psalm says, “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” That’s just one of many examples.

I just remembered: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Perhaps “substance” has a literal meaning.

I’m starting to wonder exactly how much power God will allow a human being to have. And whether I should have it.

If I’m right about these things, this is a wonderful way to live. Maybe I won’t have a yacht and a mansion and a fleet of limousines and a herd of eager-to-please consorts, but I’ll have the ultimate power on my side. I will be able to lose battles from time to time, but it will be impossible for me to lose a war. Can it be that this is what we’re intended to have?

I’ll tell you my secret. It’s not complicated. You don’t have to buy a DVD or get a ticket to a seminar. I pray in tongues a lot. At least an hour a day. As far as I know, this is the fundamental thing that changed my life. Everything else flowed from it. And it’s consistent with what Paul said. He told us this would build us up. Few of us, even among charismatics, pay any attention. But the Bible does not contain idle words, so it must be true. I think it’s like working out or watering a plant. And Perry Stone says it will bring you revelation. Robert Morris, I believe, compared it to going to the gym.

Believe me or don’t. I am not a scholar; I don’t study the ancient church fathers, I don’t speak Hebrew or Greek, and I don’t pretend I can decipher the entire Bible and provide perfect doctrine. I’m just telling you what worked for me. I’ve believed this since about 1990, and now other people are confirming it.

It’s not from hell. I’m not getting the base desires of my flesh satisfied. I’m becoming more disciplined and mature, without turning into an ascetic heretic. I’m not spreading hate or telling people God wants them to give me money so they can drive Bentleys. I think this is the real thing.

If you really want to give me money, however, don’t let me discourage you. Think of it as a seed gift, which I will plant in order to harvest a nice spray-on liner for my truck bed. Or some more expensive tools I will rarely use. Godly stuff, I assure you. God probably won’t give you a hundredfold return or anything, but my truck will look swell. “How beautiful is my truck with Vogues and a hood scoop.” That will be my slogan.

I’ll give myself a plug, here. If you give money to a TV minister, he’ll just blow it on stupid things like orange Rolls Royces or bad hair transplants. I’ll get cool stuff, like a two-deck pizza oven. Think it over. I don’t want to be a pest. But you’ll feel really good about it. I’m sure of it.

I promise not to send you a miracle prayer cloth or dirt from the Holy Land. I will refrain from praying over your offering, and I assure you, I will blow every last penny on myself. That’s integrity, right there.

I better put up a Paypal link.

I’ll Have the Penne Arrabiata

Friday, February 5th, 2010

You’ll Still Need a Tray

Thanks, any and all who assisted with prayer this morning. Things went very well.

I have nothing to do for the rest of the day. What now? If there is one thing I hate, it’s idleness.

Shut up.

Can I bore you again with my supernatural weight loss? I made pizza over and over again for a month, and depending on how accurate my scale is, I either gained no weight or a pound and a half. Because I ate tons of pizza and God made it magically nonfattening? No. I mean, I ate plenty, but I’m pretty sure my permanent increase in self-control kept it down to a harmless amount. I don’t think angels are hovering around my maw, destroying calories miraculously as food gets caught in the gravity well. Although I rule nothing out.

I love pizza more than just about anything on earth, but once I got Sicilian figured out, I no longer had an overpowering urge to make it. That is completely bizarre. I never got tired of pizza in the past. I ate it every day for long periods. I had no problem with eating it twice a day.

As long as I had sauce, cheese, and flour, I had to make pizza until the supplies ran out or my arches collapsed. But I’m sitting here right now with no idea what I’m going to have for lunch, and I have delicious Costco cheese and two kinds of sauce handy, and the only thing I’m sure of is that I’m going to have something boring and healthy. This is like a crackhead turning down rocks in favor of Sanka.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to help anyone else get what I got. Nobody cares. When I talk to people about it, they start telling me all their diet secrets. That’s a completely different subject. No relevance at all. I’m not on a diet. I have diet secrets, too, but they don’t work. This is a different thing. I just eat less. No one understands. God just dropped it on me. I don’t even know why. I hope he shoves a few more presents off the back of his sleigh. Or chariot or whatever.

I’m right down here! Look me up on Google Earth. I’ll paint a big X on the driveway. Or maybe a yud.

Imagine Moses talking to someone about parting the Red Sea. The other guy would say, “Yeah, you can build a caisson with lots of slave labor and spend about ten years pumping the water out,” and Moses would go, “Dude, I just waved a stick.”

After a few minutes, Moses would throw up his hands and say “whatever.” Or “oy.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m talking Chinese. “God fixed me so I don’t overeat!” “Yeah, I’m thinking of doing Slim-Fast.” “No, GOD FIXED ME SO I DON’T OVEREAT.” I feel like Lego Darth Vader trying to make people understand he’s not Jeff Vader or Mr. Stephens, the head of catering.

Obscure reference. See Youtube. Search under Eddie Izzard.

I have to watch that now.

Free-Range Christian

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Smell That Fresh Air!

This is an amazing day.

Steady readers will recall the post I put up at the end of August, announcing that after a fast, I found that I had been supernaturally delivered from compulsive overeating. It had been a problem for me all my life. It wasn’t one of the issues to which the fast was dedicated, but afterward, I found I didn’t feel the overpowering urge to stuff myself. I lost 20 pounds, pretty effortlessly.

That has stayed with me over time. The holidays worried me, and after that I got sick, and I spoiled myself. The illness dragged on interminably, and I was afraid that when it was over, I’d be huge. I still have little traces of symptoms. But today I got on the scale, and my gigantic weight gain amounts to 1.5 pounds. And now that the symptoms are virtually gone, I’m back on my routine, so I expect progress to continue.

I still can’t believe God would do something this nice for me. This is just as miraculous as being healed of cancer, even if it’s not as dramatic. I feel like I’ve been freed from a slavemaster. And in my opinion, I have. Either God increased my discipline throught the Holy Spirit, or he drove off something evil that was goading me.

No one cares. I know. No one wants to hear about a guy whose big miracle is a drop from a 36″ waist to 33″. But if you’re fat, and this happens to you, believe me, you’ll be as amazed and grateful as I am. You won’t think it’s a small thing. You ought to listen to me and see if you can get the same kind of deliverance. Maybe your problem isn’t food. Maybe it’s cocaine or booze or women. I don’t think it makes any difference; it’s not like one thing is a bigger challenge to God than another. And he wants everyone to be free.

When I got freed from gluttony, I also found I had better self-control in a couple of other areas. I was less crabby, which was a big blessing. Being annoyed requires energy, and it’s an unpleasant state in which to live. After I got my miracle, I felt peaceful. My mind was quieter.

Unfortunately, the food thing lasted, and the peace did not. I eventually found that some of the irritability had returned. Maybe that was because of some sin I committed. I don’t know. I can’t see the supernatural world. I can’t hear God’s voice or the voices of the angels. I can only guess.

Today during my morning prayers I felt anxious for no good reason, and I took it before God, and I kept praying about it, hard. I exerted my faith. I prayed in the Spirit. I stuck to my guns. I felt as if something foreign was pressing into me, in the region of my sinuses. I know that sounds nutty. But I’ve felt that many times. It’s an oppressive, annoying sensation. I think it’s something that has been with me for decades, and I suspect that it’s a supernatural being.

After I had been at it for forty-five minutes or an hour, I felt that this thing had been pushed back. The anxiety left me. I felt peaceful. There was no hostility or irritability in me. I felt as if something was holding it back, like a bodyguard fending off an autograph hound. The peace I found back in August returned. I felt like I had been released from a stuffy room. And to make it even stranger, my breathing had improved. I generally get some nasal congestion in the early morning, and last night was no exception, but suddenly, everything was wide open.

As I went about my morning routine, over and over, the magnitude of the change came home to me. As it hit me, I would grab things for support and hold on. It’s like I’ve been released from prison. It’s incredible.

I hope I don’t do anything to mess it up. I don’t know what I did wrong last time, but I’m going to watch it. This is a tremendous gift. When you’re under psychological oppression, and it leaves, you resume your normal state, and in comparison, it almost seems euphoric. The difference is wonderful.

It may be that giving in to hostility, out of habit, caused me to lose my freedom. I will try to keep that in mind.

Here’s what I think. Over time, prayer in the Spirit fills you with something that overpowers and displaces hostile beings that affect your life. It fills you with something that “binds the strong man” so his house–you–can be spoiled by God.

Every person on earth has demons assigned to him; it’s not just people who bend steel bars and live naked in graveyards. These creatures warp our judgment. They cause diseases. They prevent our blessings from getting to us. They compel us to do evil. They addict us. They give us depression and other mental illnesses. They even cause wars.

These ancient things are far more powerful than unaided human beings. We can’t get rid of them in our own strength. For that matter, our own flesh can be more powerful than we are. It can be impossible to control. The answer is God. He “grows” us, like mustard seeds, to be more powerful than our enemies. He increases our faith. He improves our character so we do more good and less evil, which leads to fewer chastisements and more blessings. He gives us the gifts of the Spirit to fight the enemy supernaturally. And in the Bible, he provides the Sword of the Spirit: his promises, which we can cite, whether in defense or offense. God gives us the tools to get free.

I think we’re going to see a lot more teaching in this vein over the coming years. This is what Satan is afraid of. It’s why he worked so hard to get the church to deny and even ban the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The best way to get rid of God’s servants is to get religious people to crucify them and excommunicate them and burn them alive, and that’s what Satan got the church to do. He even got the church to ban possession of the Bible, which was the Satanic equivalent of gun control (unless gun control is the Satanic equivalent of gun control). But he can’t repress God’s work forever. He’s the weak, limited one, after all.

I don’t know if anyone will believe me, but I got something great, so even if I’m alone here, I have cause to celebrate.