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Archive for March, 2011

Surf, Don’t Paddle

Friday, March 25th, 2011

You Can’t Make Your Own Waves

I’m amazed that anyone still comes here to read this blog. I rarely show up these days. I keep in touch with my church friends via Facebook, and I have had to take up texting and Twittering, but I don’t have a lot of time for blogging, and aside from that, blogging died in 2005.

If you want to understand how dead blogging and personal websites are, start a forum and try to get people to show up. I started one for the armorbearers at my church, and even when the leaders push, getting people to log in is like pulling teeth. And we really need it! It’s not for fooling around. We use it for scheduling and so on. So it’s not like they don’t have motivation.

Personal sites are dead. Texting has taken over. People used to sit around glued to the TV all day. Then they sat around glued to the Internet. Now they walk around staring at their phones, ignoring everyone around them. I have predicted that someone will eventually invent a device that plugs into the brain, and after that, we’ll just lie on our sides, drooling.

Last night I dreamed that a reader named Chang (I think) emailed me and begged me to keep blogging, because the religious stuff was helping him. I don’t know nobody named Chang. Some other reader wrote, too. That made me feel like writing today.

I got an email (real, not dream) from a reader saying that my writing on Christianity speaks to him, and that it makes Christianity seem logical. He asked for more input. That’s sobering. I hope I’m not writing anything stupid or dangerous.

I am not a Bible scholar. What I am is a witness. I feel I’m on solid ground with my accounts of what has happened to me, because testimony, unlike teaching, can’t be wrong. If you personally observe something, it happened. I know the things I say are happening really are happening. As to whether I’m right on the interpretation, all I can say is, God answers prayer, and you should ask him to tell you.

I don’t believe God can be analyzed with the unaided mind. Ninety or so generations of Jews have tried. Jews are the most scholarly people on earth. If they can’t do it, what chance do you have? Seems stupid to try, or at least to claim success. The Bible tells us its truths are discerned spiritually. That tells me that the Holy Spirit explains the Bible to us, and that the mind’s role is to understand and retain the explanation. The mind is the student, not the teacher.

This comports with my experience. When I read the Bible now (as a Spirit-filled person who prays in tongues a great deal), stuff jumps out at me, and I see how it connects to other parts of the Bible. I’m a smart guy; no doubt about it. But that’s not where this understanding comes from. It’s handed to me, free of charge. I can’t take any credit. If I were stupid, I would still receive this understanding (see Isaiah 35).

I believe God wants to prevent us from thinking we figured these things out for ourselves, and that’s why he gives it to us instead of letting us puzzle it out with our little monkey-like brains. God gives alms, not salaries. A salary is something to which your work entitles you. God gives us things on which we have no claim. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, he discounted these things tremendously, to the point where they are nearly free. To get them, you accept the covenant, and you focus primarily on spiritual matters. God handles the material concerns. You have to make an effort, but if you’re working really hard, something is wrong.

Capitalism is right for earth. Governments belong to man and Satan, and all systems other than capitalism give man and Satan too much power, and they limit the exercise of free will, which is essential to God’s plan. But the kingdom of heaven is socialist. I would go beyond that. I’d say “kingdom” is a well-chosen word, because in the kingdom of heaven, everything belongs to the king. It’s a welfare state run by a monarch. God owes you absolutely nothing, even though he created you, and you can’t earn anything. The fact that he created you does not make you his child. What you deserve is the absence of God’s blessings. But he rewards faith (not need or self-justifying works) and gives us things we could never earn.

Earthly socialism limits free will and therefore virtue. When you have to do a thing, there is no virtue in doing it. And under earthly socialism, the rulers are stupid and misguided, so when they direct our actions, they tell us to do things that are sinful or just wrong. In the kingdom of heaven, God allows free will, and he makes all the major decisions, so they’re always right. Usually, it’s hard to believe how right they are. So God’s system doesn’t have the problems the earthly imitations have.

I believe we are to be filled with the Spirit, and that we are to live by faith. We do things for God, and he rewards us, but when you do a thing because of faith, it’s not purely “works.” It’s faith expressed in action. The faith, not the action it produced, is what God really rewards. On the other hand, if you do something that seems good, but God isn’t behind it, you get nothing, or punishment. Sometimes killing a man pleases God, and sometimes feeding the poor makes him angry. You have to be hooked up to the Holy Spirit in order to know what to do at a given moment. You have to progress from the general to the specific.

This shows why mainstream churches are so awful. They took all the “be nice” material in the Bible and made it law, regardless of the circumstances, and they took out all the chastisement, punishment, and sin. They think Jesus was a really nice gay man, just like Buddha, who showed people they would get eternal life if they were warm, loving, pacificst blobs of Jell-O, who never criticized or even acknowledged the existence of sin or hell.

Jesus was not that nice. The Bible says he will personally show up on earth and make his garment red with the blood of his human enemies. Jesus told the ancient Hebrews to slaughter women and children. Jesus told the disciples to carry arms, and he let Peter cut a man’s ear off (a symbolic act which had purpose), even though he discouraged him from further violence. The Holy Spirit (whose will is in line with that of Jesus) killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying. Jesus told us about the horrors of the Tribulation, in which he would participate. Jesus told us hell existed, and that it was a place of suffering. If hell exists, he created it.

And Jesus was not gay. Perry Stone has pointed this out: had Jesus married and had kids, the children would have been worshiped. The wife too, probably. Letting Jesus marry would have been like letting Satan have the body of Moses. Satan wanted the body to become an idol. Besides, Jesus is married to the church. Scripture says it over and over. We are the Body of Christ. It’s even shown in the structure of the Temple, which resembles a female body.

Jesus lived the way he did for practical reasons. For example, he had no house. Because poverty is holy and pleasing to God, we are told. Does that make sense to you? The Bible promises people material blessings over and over.

I can give you two reasons why he had no house. First, it would have become an object of worship. Chunks of it would sell on Ebay for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Second, his house is our physical bodies. We are the Body of Christ, and Jesus made it clear that a body is a spirit’s house.

Mainstream churches don’t preach Jesus. They preach Richard Simmons with nail holes. Look at all the horrors God inflicted on people in the Bible and tell me that makes sense. Jesus was a carpenter (“tekton”), not an interior decorator. Carpenters build houses and tools, not wedding cakes.

We’re supposed to do what the Holy Spirit tells us to do, in the moment. Mainstream churches tell us to live by the very general guidelines of the New Testament, as bowdlerized by committees of emasculated and faithless jellyfish. So when the Holy Spirit says one thing and the traditions of the mainstream churches say another, the Holy Spirit loses, and so do you.

This all seems right to me. I don’t believe I came up with it myself, and it has the virtue of tying seemingly unrelated and apparently contradictory parts of scripture together, without rationalizing.

It’s working for me. I have enemies, and God keeps defeating them for me. God keeps providing for me. My prayer life gets better and better, and I get answers to very specific prayers. My overall happiness increases continually, and I am being allowed to do things I’ve long dreamt of doing (Psalm 37:4). My character gets better and better, too, which is a relief. I’m getting great results, and I hope people who come by this blog will try the Spirit-filled life and have similar success.

I Need my Own Court Reporter

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Wine is a Mocker, but There are Those Who Need to be Mocked

I really can’t keep up with my testimony. There is so much, I can’t write about it and still have time to live.

Today I got a very moving email from Aaron, my friend of 31 years. It included a link to this Youtube video.

That’s Ohr Somayach (“Happy Light”), the yeshiva in Jerusalem where I ambushed Aaron in 1984. I arrived in Israel on the eve of shabbat, on the weekend of Purim. I had to spend the night in Ein Harod, but the next day, I made it to Jerusalem and found Ohr Somayach. I knew I was in the right place when I saw Aaron’s horrifying plaid boxers hanging outside a dorm room, on a clothesline.

Aaron was in shul, davening. But he was not dressed like a yeshiva bucher. He was dressed like one of the thugs in A Clockwork Orange. I didn’t know Jews were supposed to wear costumes on Purim. I guess I figured his twig had finally snapped.

I ended up joining in the celebration you see above. What a privilege.

When I got the email from Aaron, I realized what the video meant.

In 1984, before I had any idea what my destiny was, God took me to Israel to celebrate the holiday on which Jews commemorate their victory over their Gentile enemies. Haman, who represents the spirit of anti-Semitism (same thing as antichrist, to me), was hanged on the gallows he built for his Jewish enemy, Mordecai. Haman’s sons were hanged along with him. Centuries later, Hitler’s top men were hanged on the same day.

God put me in Israel, to celebrate this holiday, because he knew that my destiny was to participate in the rebuilding of Israel. Today I am privileged to help, through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and other means. I am even helping a messianic synagogue develop an armorbearer team.

I didn’t know why I was in Israel, but God knew, and he didn’t tell me the reason until this morning.

Choose your side. You will be for God and Israel, or against, and God will reward you accordingly, in this life and the next. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

As for Aaron and me, we will eventually agree on the Messiah’s identity. Maybe one day we’ll toast him in Jerusalem. On Purim, you’re supposed to drink until you can’t tell the difference between blessing Mordecai and cursing Haman. If El Al permits, I’ll bring the homebrew.

Splint, the Miracle Parrot

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Sparrow, Parrot…Same Basic Idea

Here’s a wild story.

In 2009, Dave Rodenborn’s parrot Splint flew off. Dave let Splint’s feathers get a little bit too long, and Splint shot out the front door and got away. Parrots have no desire to obey, and you can’t rely on them to do the things you’ve trained them to do, so you can’t just call them back. If they feel like coming back, they come back. If not, tough. And once they’re a few dozen yards from your house, they have no idea how to get back. The general rule is that they stay lost, and they die. They don’t know how to cope in the wild, the North American climate can kill them, and hawks love them.

At the time, I was highly distressed. I know how it feels to lose a parrot due to my own mistake. And I thought about Splint, out there in the wilderness, lonely and starving.

I put in some prayer time for Splint, and when I did, I felt a powerful flow of faith, telling me he was coming back.

After months had passed, I figured my faith had been wrong. Non-spiritual teachers are always telling us not to trust what we feel, which is a little bit crazy, considering how obvious the Holy Spirit’s power and presence can be. The fact is, most teachers don’t get good results from prayer, and they assume anyone who claims to have a better experience is a kook or a liar. They don’t want to set people up for disappointment, so they actually tell people NOT to trust God! How crazy is that?

These days, when I pray, I can literally, physically, mentally feel faith pouring through me. I don’t have to feel it in order to believe, but experience has taught me that when I do feel it, it’s real. I believe it comes from praying in tongues. When you pray in tongues, you deposit power in your supernatural bank account, and it’s there when you need to make a withdrawal.

Last night, I got an unexpected response to a Youtube comment in a thread in which Dave was participating. In the thread, Dave said Splint had returned! Someone yanked him out of a tree near Dave’s house, and it took them a year to find Dave! How do you like THAT?

So here is the position I’m in: I had faith, and God rewarded it, even after I decided my faith was wrong. Is that possible? Apparently so. It has happened to me before. I think your best bet is to hold onto what faith tells you, no matter what, but God may come through regardless of your foolishness.

Faith is a crazy thing. Sometimes you will pray for a thing and be sure you’re going to get it, yet you’ll still be amazed when you see it come to pass.

Keep the Door of my Lips

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Connection?

Interesting news.

Japan just got hit by an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale. This is 100 times as strong as the Haiti earthquake. The Japanese earthquake took place at about a quarter to three on the afternoon of March 11, 2011.

That same day, presumably earlier, the Japanese government put out this announcement. You can find it on the website of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

1. The Government of Japan deplores the decisions of the Government of Israel to give permission for the construction of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem in addition to 112 units in West Bank just after the Israeli and Palestinian leadership’s acceptance of the start of indirect talks. The Government of Japan does not recognize any act that prejudges the final status of Jerusalem and the territories in the pre-1967 borders. Japan demands that the plans should not be implemented.

2. The Government of Japan continues to request strongly that both parties will act in a way that enhances mutual confidence. Japan sincerely hopes that the indirect talks in the peace process will swiftly develop into the resumption of direct talks between the two parties.

Perry Stone believes that when nations attack Israel, disasters tend to follow quickly. In this case, it appears to be true.

Charge Your SEED GIFT at 20% Interest!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

The Kingdom of Heaven, on the Monthly Minimum Payment

Today I feel like the Holy Spirit is just SITTING on me. Not every minute, but from time to time. It’s a very odd sensation. I think we’re supposed to live like this all the time. I hope that’s true; it’s extremely pleasant.

This happens to me a lot, and I always wonder why God doesn’t do something spectacular while it’s in progress. Why not let me hear an audible voice, or give me a vision, or–I don’t know–something involving special effects. I mean, he’s RIGHT HERE. Maybe he could instantly make me a better person. I know a lot of people who would appreciate that.

But that does not seem to be his style. Maybe God is careful about handing out overly abundant displays of power, because he prefers faith to knowledge. If God does enough wild things in your life, sooner or later, you have natural knowledge of his power, in addition to supernatural faith. He does not seem to like that. Not if his reaction to Thomas’s doubt is any clue.

I think I got a pretty decent revelation today, even if nobody parted the Red Sea.

As people who read my blog know, I’m a charismatic, but I have a very dim view of many prosperity preachers. They teach people that God has to give them money if they give him (via the prosperity preachers) money, and that he will multiply their offerings back to them. This is not true. At least, it’s not true the way they teach it.

For one thing, about one in a thousand of these guys talks about charity. It’s always, “send ME your ‘seed gift.'” I am reminded of what my great uncle said. He said he would love to give money to the Lord, but he could not find anyone he could trust to take it to him. Many of the prosperity guys blather endlessly about blessing their self-exalting, personality-cult ministries. That’s just wrong.

The other thing…they whine and manipulate. You’re supposed to have the Holy Spirit inside you, telling you what to do, and that includes giving. If all you have is the Bible, you obey that, but it’s very general. The Holy Spirit is specific. It will tell you who to give to, and how much. Nowhere does the Bible (or the Spirit) say to obey the voice of a whining, manipulative person. These guys go on the air with apocryphal, undocumented stories about people who gave them cash and then received money, and they tell us we’re going to “miss out on the blessing” (like God is a package of cheese with an expiration date), and they try to make us feel guilty for not putting fuel in their private planes. If you have to beg me for money, clearly, God is not blessing you. So go away.

Shouldn’t we realize something is wrong, when a man of God uses time-tested, notorious methods commonly used by car salesmen?

The Bible says we should support ministries, and it even gives specific promises for people who give to the poor. It says we lend to the Lord, and he will repay. It says we will be blessed on the earth. It says God will keep us alive and heal our diseases. It says God will not let our enemies defeat us.

Where does it say we should buy rich whiners more stuff?

Why should I support some character who does nothing but teach people they should give him money? How is that a ministry? I can move poor Jews to Israel. I can pay for air time for ministries that teach people how to connect with the Holy Spirit. I can buy vaccines for people in Sudan. I can pile my money up and burn it. Even that is probably less offensive to God than giving money to a lying weasel who begs in God’s name.

I feel the same way about bums. Come to think about it, they’re about the same as greedy preachers. They’re living in sin, and they want us to finance it. The bum’s iniquity is addiction. The preacher’s iniquity is greed. You don’t subsidize iniquity. This is why people throw their drug addict sons and daughters out in the street. Rewarding sin is not a good deed. It’s evil. And if you reward sin so you can look good to others…wow.

So I guess it’s obvious that I find many prosperity preachers irritating. I think they take God’s name in vain every time they ask for money, and I believe they will be judged for it publicly when they die. They waste the resources of God’s people, and they turn us bitter and drive us to shut off our generosity, which is essential to our own growth. They cause us to offend, and we all know what the reward for that is.

That being said, today I realized three ministries I support have brought me real, obvious benefits. God is definitely rewarding me for being associated with them. I’m not getting UNEXPECTED CHECKS FOR EXACTLY THE AMOUNT OF MONEY I NEEDED or INCREDIBLE JOB OFFERS THAT CAME IN THE NICK OF TIME or TUMORS THAT MAGICALLY FALL OFF AND RUIN THE CARPET, or any of that other nonsense we always hear about on TV, but I’m getting some wonderful teaching, I’m making fantastic connections with other believers, and I am helping advance God’s plan.

That’s my big revelation. I think God has told me who he wants me to help, and I believe I will be rewarded even more handsomely now that the Holy Spirit is aiming the bombs.

If you think I’m too hard on prosperity nuts, try this. Send ten thousand dollars to a hardcore prosperity preacher who rarely mentions the poor, and see what happens. Just try it, observe the result, and make up your own mind. TV preachers like to tell us that Malachi said to test God with your offerings. Okay, fine. Test the TV preachers.

To see the other side of the issue, pray about good religious charities to fund, try to determine God’s direction, and give. Then remember Psalm 41 in your prayers. Different story. I think I can say that with confidence.

Two of the ministries I like don’t ask for money. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. The third is a charity, and they do ask for money, but they do it politely and discreetly, without a lot of whining and guilt-trip laying.

I think Robert Morris would back me up on this. He wrote an interesting book on giving. He does not beg for offerings, and in his book, he said he gave nothing to whiners who tried to play him. He waits for the urging of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t consider the Bible’s admonitions to give to the poor and the church to be operative in an aimless, general way. He waits for specific requests from God.

You may be poor. I don’t care. Maybe God made you poor because you have an iniquity you refuse to confront. The Bible says he does that. When I decide whether to give, your suffering is not the main issue. What matters is my perception of what God wants me to do. It’s easy to give money to miserable-looking people, especially if someone is watching. What’s hard is giving the right thing to the right person. Sometimes the right thing is nothing.

I recently saw Charlie Sheen on TV. The news said he was preparing live shows where he intended to present his drug-warped tirades. They were selling out. Is that a blessing? I looked at him and realized where I would be, had God not hit me with punishments and failures. I would not know God, and I would be making a fool of myself as a way of life. I would think very, very highly of myself, even as I was destroying myself. Failure helped save me. Poverty is the best thing that could happen to Charlie Sheen.

For some people, everything that should be a blessing is a curse and an opportunity to hurt someone else. People like that can only be blessed by what appears to be harm. To such a person, a blessing is a curse.

I have learned that it is just about impossible to curse a good man, and it is equally difficult to bless a bad person. A bad person is like a bag with holes; the blessings run right out. A good person–a person who lives by faith–will invoke God’s power to turn any adversity into a blessing, or to reverse it entirely.

Interesting thing: Perry Stone’s gigantic ministry has ZERO DEBT. How many preachers can say that? It always disturbs me when I hear preachers talking about the projects they’ve started “on faith,” using borrowed money. Show me an example of that in the Bible. Did Noah borrow? Did Solomon? Job? The only example I know of is Obadiah, who mortgaged his house to feed a bunch of prophets. Other than that, as far as I know, the Bible condemns debt. It says the borrower is the servant of the lender. It says a wicked person borrows and does not repay, but a righteous person gives. One of the signs that you are blessed is that people owe you money, because you end up helping less-blessed people from your abundance. Oddly, if you’re paying someone else’s bills, it may mean that you have God’s favor. Owing, on the other hand, is a sign that you’re cursed.

I’ve told God that if he wants me to do stuff for him, it will have to be debt-free. I’m not going to make a mockery of his power by relying on man. I’m not going to make myself man’s slave in order to serve God.

Perry Stone’s ministry is one of the three I plan to put at the top of my list. He says he believes the reason he has no debt is that he blesses Israel and the Jews. It certainly isn’t because he begs. He briefly mentions the need for donations and book sales, but that’s it.

So to sum up, things are going extremely well, and God amazes me more and more, every week. I hope you can read this and pick up some of the same blessings I’ve received.

Fumigation

Monday, March 7th, 2011

One Spirit’s Incense is Another Spirit’s Brimstone

I can understand why the Bible says that all the stuff Jesus did would fill all the books in the world. I’m considerably less significant than he is, and even I have a testimony I don’t have time or space to relate. Stuff is happening so fast, I can only write about the highlights.

Here’s one from this morning.

One of my Armorbearer buddies had to move. He has three young daughters, and his wife is about to give birth to his son. He needed space. I have a truck, so naturally, I got recruited.

While I was helping, I realized he had a problem with which I am familiar. I am not an orderly housekeeper. I don’t live in filth, but I can’t seem to organize things, and I would like to reduce the clutter and dust and so on. I think things like this have supernatural causes. Some people just don’t care how they live, but others have enemies who frustrate their efforts to improve.

I have been taking Perry Stone’s advice and using worship music to clean up my home. He says that when he travels, he ends up in all sorts of ungodly places, such as hotel rooms, which are basically rental stalls where people go to fornicate. To improve the atmosphere and bring peace and order, he plays holy music, even when he’s not present. He’ll leave the CD player on and take off.

I got myself some stuff from Julie True, Grace Williams, and Laura Rhinehart, and I’ve been playing it during prayer and while I drive, and sometimes I leave it going on the living room stereo. I wanted to get more of this material, so I found a website and ordered some CDs. One was by Grace Williams, and the others were by Julie True.

My buddy’s kids mashed some of his furniture during the move, so I took some drawers home to glue up. This is amusing, because I’ve found that it can be embarrassing when you have to tell your friend his drawers are in your garage. Anyway, the other day I grabbed the Julie True CDs and started to open them so I could play them, and I could not finish the job. I got the plastic torn off one corner of each CD, and I had to quit. I felt like I had to give them to my friend as a housewarming gift, to help him get his new home set up spiritually.

This was annoying, because I wanted those CDs!

I dropped the CDs in one of the drawers, and I stuck everything in my truck, and yesterday he picked it all up, and I told him about the CDs. I explained about the torn plastic.

Today he left a phone message telling me how great the CDs were. They were just what he and his wife needed. They put them on and started going crazy with prayer, and he broke into tongues, and they had their own little revival. So now he has a new tool in his supernatural arsenal.

Incidentally, prayer goes much better when you have this kind of music going. Don’t ask me why. Try it and see.

I texted him back and reminded him that God had forced me to hand over the CDs, so he was the one to thank. Then I sent him another funny piece of information: the address of the website where I got the CDs. It’s at DadResources.com. How funny is that? I’m not a dad. Here my friend is with three on the ground and one in the oven, and I’m ordering his CDs from his website, and I don’t even know it.

I still want those danged CDs. I better place an order.

Hocks are so Good, it’s a Waste to Let Pigs Walk Around on Them

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Cheap, Easy Feast Guaranteed to Please

Oh, man. How good can food GET? I am starting to wonder.

I felt like I was insulting God’s gift by cooking halfheartedly, so I stepped it up. And I’m also rotating out my survival supplies, so that means I’m going through corn meal and dried beans. The result? A weekly soul food dinner. It’s whitey soul food, but it’s still soul food.

Yesterday I made white beans with ham hocks, plus cornbread and kale. I don’t know why my mother wasn’t big on kale when I was a kid. We ate a lot of collards and turnip greens. Kale is wonderful, provided you cook it right.

I used the cornbread recipe I posted yesterday. You really need to try it. You won’t be sorry. I just had two slices, and I’m borderline high.

I reheated the beans and cornbread today. Naturally, they’re better than they were yesterday. And I made fresh collards. There is a company called Glory, and they make wonderful greens, ranging from fresh to canned. I went with their bagged collards today because the price difference between bagged and bundled was so small.

Look, try it. Just trust me.

BEANS

1 big ol’ bag dried beans (I like navy, great northern, and pinto beans)
1 sliced white onion, softball-sized
1-5 cloves mashed garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2-4 ham hocks

Dump the beans in a big pot the day before you cook them. Rinse the filth out of them. Leave enough water to cover them, plus three inches or so. Cover them and let them soak overnight. I like to dissolve a Beano tablet in the water. Someone told me the gas in beans comes largely from the skins, so the Beano should be able to make a difference. I don’t know if it’s true, but I am getting wonderful results.

In the morning, drain and rinse the beans. This is also supposed to reduce gas. Bury the hocks in the beans. Chop the onion and toss it in with the garlic. Add lots of pepper. If your hocks are salty, you may want to omit the salt until later.

Simmer this stuff for several hours, and make sure you boil it down so the sauce is thick. If fat forms on the surface, scoop it out with a ladle and discard it. You won’t lose more than half a cup of bean sauce if you’re careful. Adjust the salt and pepper.

GREENS

1 pound chopped greens
2 thick slices bacon, nuked until browned, with grease
1-4 cloves mashed garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoons butter
12 ounces water

I saw that Paula Deen was using butter in her greens, and I had to follow suit. I try to sneak a little butter into everything. You just plop the whole list of ingredients in your pressure cooker, get it up to temperature, and cook at 16 psi for 15 minutes. Open it up and boil the water down until it’s green and soupy. This is enough greens for two hungry people. If you don’t use a pressure cooker, you may have to cook the greens for two or more hours. You want them wilted, not crunchy. They have to totally surrender and mingle with the pork.

I nuke the bacon in a Pyrex cup covered by a saucer.

If you can stand it, refrigerate everything and don’t eat until the next day. Slice a ripe tomato and a big onion and serve them on the side.

You can’t eat this in a civilized manner. You have to let it mix up a little, and you have to make sure everything gets on the cornbread. If you don’t sop, you’re blowing it.

When you reheat the cornbread, it’s okay to use the microwave as long as you finish off with 5-10 minutes in a 350° oven.

This is just fantastic. Food doesn’t get much better. Eat the fat on the ham hocks. You can always fast tomorrow.

I have to credit God with the improvements I’m making in this stuff. It’s amazing.

If You Can’t Learn From History, Learn From God’s Algebra

Friday, March 4th, 2011

God’s Rules Apply Forever

I’ve been thinking about the way life works. I have started to believe we need to re-learn the fundamental principles that were known and applied by ancient peoples in the Middle East. It seems that they understood the guiding forces of the universe much better than we do, and as a result, they knew how to get blessed and stay free of curses.

This morning I thought about the concept of promises. There are a lot of different ways to say “promise.” You can say “contract,” “agreement,” “covenant,”, or “debt.” It all works out the same. One or more parties obligate themselves, and from then on, they carry the weight they put on their own backs.

Jesus told us not to swear oaths (another way of saying “promises”). Why is that? It’s because the instant you make a promise, you put a hook in your own nose, and Satan will look for a way to tie a strong chain to it and lead you to unexpected places. Satan loves driving us to break promises, and he loves torturing us with the promises we keep.

Consider the example of Jephtha, the rebel leader in the Bible. God’s hand was on him for victory, but he ruined it with a promise. One day he promised God that he would sacrifice whatever he saw coming out of his front door. As he approached his house, his daughter came out to meet him. Tradition says hostile priests refused to allow him to cancel the promise, and they forced him to sacrifice his daughter to God. But for the rash promise, this would never have happened.

Today we make dumb promises all the time. I can think of two, right off the bat. Marriage vows and agreements to pay money.

It probably sounds anti-Christian to criticize marriage vows, but think about it: aren’t they a little excessive? I doubt the first marriages were this complicated. You probably made a public announcement of your intentions, got yourself blessed by a holy man, and went on your way. That was enough of a challenge, all by itself. But over time, we ended up piling promises on ourselves. The ancient Jews actually used contracts to spell out the obligations of the parties; some Jews still do this.

Satan is real, and he hates marriage. What do you think he does when he sees you promise a bunch of stuff to your new husband or wife? Unless he’s a fool, he makes a list, and he starts attacking the promises one by one. A married couple resembles God in its completeness, and Satan hates that. Also, a married couple is much stronger supernaturally than two single people. So Satan likes to pull us apart. And what can cause you more suffering than a bad relationship? It’s hard to think of anything.

Personally, I would not make promises at the altar, apart from the basics. Why invite trouble? The promises aren’t going to help you be a good mate. You’re not going to keep a list of them in your pocket, the way your enemy does, and refer to it to see you through. It’s just a set of goals for the devil.

I think wedding rings, which symbolize promises, are probably dangerous. Any man can tell you that the best way to attract women is to get into a relationship. When you have a wife or girlfriend, suddenly, women find you much more attractive. And you can actually increase your luck at singles bars by wearing a ring. Some men wear rings just to help them get women. And women are also attracted to men carrying babies! Why are these things true? I think it’s because the ring is an open challenge to Satan. He has plenty of trashy little servants out there looking for men, and he will send them after you.

As for agreements to pay money, the Bible says the borrower is the servant of the lender. How true that is. Think of America and China. We’re financing their military buildup so they can take over as the world’s leading power. When they decide to take Taiwan, we won’t make a peep. I guarantee it. From then on, we’ll be the laughingstock of the world.

The vast majority of Americans don’t own their cars or homes; they make monthly payments to banks. How crazy is that? Some people think a car loan or a mortgage note is a sign of God’s favor. You’ll never convince me of that. It’s a piece of paper that says another person can take what you have, and that you have to work for that person every day in order to pay him more than the true value of your property. How is that a blessing? There are bums on the street who are worth more than doctors, because the doctors have debts, and the bums don’t.

When you owe money, you have to do whatever it takes to earn it, or you end up in the street. Think of the opportunities for temptation. If your business is based on debt, are you going to be strong when things go badly and you have an opportunity to improve your cash flow by committing a sin? Will you be able to keep your hands out of the till? Will you be able to tell the tax man the truth? Many, many people are in prison because they were in debt and took a few chances in order to get out. Think of John DeLorean.

The other day I saw an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. He worked on an Italian restaurant up north. The place was in real trouble, and the owner was blowhard and a risk-taker. Ramsay fixed his menu and got him pointed in the right direction. I Googled his restaurant, out of curiosity. After Ramsay left, he was indicted for money-related crimes. His life is ruined now.

The weird thing about debt is that so much of it is unnecessary. I have a crummy cell phone and the worst plan I can get by with, but I know a lot of poor people who have Iphones and fancy plans. Last week I was in the ghetto, and I saw a BMW 745 parked in front of a house which is probably worth $60,000 on a good day. We don’t spend the money we have. We spend the money we hope to earn in the future, and we pay huge interest to do it. And we spend it on silly things we don’t need. We even spend it on things that harm us, like video games and giant TVs.

Somehow, Americans have gotten used to the idea that it’s normal to inflate their own money by going into overwhelming debt. Instead of spending $75 for a serviceable cell phone today, a typical American will spend over a thousand over the next two years, for a ridiculous phone that does things that are of virtually no value. We think mortgages are normal. They’re not. There is nothing intelligent about putting another person in charge of your home. The Bible says the blessed will own the gates of their enemies. If you have a mortgage, your enemy possesses YOUR gate. Literally. In the Bible, one of the worst things that can happen to people is foreclosure. It’s a curse which is mentioned often. Again, think of China.

You can pull out a spreadsheet and show me how debt will work out in your favor in the end, for this reason and that reason. That’s earthly wisdom. And it’s all based on assumptions regarding your future prosperity. If your eggs don’t hatch, where will you be? Are you going to eat that spreadsheet? Can you put it on the grill and serve it to your kids? The Bible says you shouldn’t talk about the money you’re going to make, unless you say “God willing.” You don’t even know if you’re going to wake up tomorrow.

In the book of Nehemiah, while the Jews rebuilt Jerusalem, a number of them went into debt. Other Jews lent them money to survive. When they couldn’t pay, the debtors had to sell their children. Promises turned into chains, as they so often do. But for Nehemiah’s intervention, the debtors would have had no recourse. Fortunately for them, he convinced the wealthy to relent.

I don’t make promises any more, unless I can’t avoid it. And I can tell I’m not like most people. If I’m in a group of people, and someone asks for help with something, very often, I’ll be among the last to commit. But the people who jump up and raise their hands at the outset…they don’t show up when it’s time to back up their mouths. I do. I may look selfish for not committing easily, and maybe I am, but it’s also because I know that when I open my mouth, I’m serious. It’s easy to obligate yourself when everyone knows you won’t follow through. When you take what you say seriously, it’s a lot harder to speak.

I’ve broken plenty of promises in my life. I don’t want to continue living that way. When God speaks, everything he says is true, and everything he says he will do, will be done. We should be the same way. God’s words are not vain, and we are supposed to be like God. Our words should not be vain, either. And the best way to avoid making your words vain is to avoid uttering them.

I am going to try to avoid putting new chains on my back. I think I carry enough already.

The Pone of Life

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Better Cornbread

I decided I was too hidebound in my approach to cornbread, so I made the changes I knew had to be made. The result is beyond wonderful, but still your basic Appalachian non-sweet, white-meal cornbread.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups self-rising white corn meal
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup bacon grease
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar

Heat a seasoned #6 cast iron skillet in your oven at 450. Pour the bacon grease in and give it five minutes or so. You want it hot enough to smoke. Mix all the other stuff (except the butter, which you should melt) in a heat-safe bowl.

Pour the hot grease into the batter. Pour the butter in. Stir thoroughly. Pour into the hot skillet and bake at 450 for around 22 minutes. Make sure it’s low enough in the oven to keep the bottom of the skillet hot. This will brown the bread.

Flip the pone out, right it, and eat!

This is less crumbly and more flavorful than the version with no butter and only 1 egg.

There is no reason why you can’t add even more of the good stuff (butter, grease, sugar, salt, eggs) or use different fats, but this will make you very, very happy.

Staying Out of the Meat Market

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Charge me up and Turn me Loose

My pastor has been doing a series on carnal Christians lately. It has been very interesting, because God has been working ON him, not just THROUGH him.

He told us he had been planning to do the typical spiel on carnality. Don’t look at porn. Don’t fornicate. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. But he said God changed the plan while he was working on his notes. The message he ended up teaching was about the need to spend time with God, in contrast to running around doing things you think (incorrectly) will please him.

This makes sense. The law came from God, but it was a poor substitute for God himself.

The law is like a sheet of instructions you leave for a babysitter. You write, “Don’t let Mikey stay up until twelve playing HALO.” Mikey tells the babysitter, “It doesn’t say anything about Worlds of Warcraft.” And the babysitter has to give in, and Mikey sleeps through the alarm the next morning. Everyone obeyed the law you wrote, but are you pleased? Of course not.

Jesus complained about Jews who used the law like Mikey did. For example, they were permitted to call their stuff “corban,” which means an offering to God. The great benefit of this was that they didn’t have to share these things with other people. You got to hold onto your money or stuff while you lived, and then it went to the Temple. Meanwhile, you might have two elderly parents starving in the gutter. So you used the law to kill, whereas the Spirit, which is God acting and speaking through you in real time, gives life.

Carnal people use their own tools instead of God’s. They may be serious Christians, and they may try to do what the Bible says, but they don’t get baptized with the Spirit, and they don’t get filled with God’s power and character, and they don’t get directions directly from God, so they end up doing things–in God’s name–which God does not like. In the book of Matthew, God called these people “workers of iniquity” and “lawless.” You’ll see it in the passage where Jesus talked about his judgment-seat statements to carnal Christians.

Here’s an example that will really irritate carnal people. A bum comes up to you and says he’s homeless and needs money for food. You say to yourself, “The Bible says we have to be good to the poor.” So you give him ten bucks. You think you’ve pleased God. But when you get to the judgment seat, you find out the bum bought crack with the money, got high, and was too happy to listen to the missionary God sent to take him to a Christian shelter. You felt all warm and fuzzy when you gave the money, but you ended up getting in God’s way and prolonging another person’s suffering.

A person who hears from God in real time may hear things that seem unscriptural. Remember what Paul said? He wanted to take the gospel to Asia, but the Holy Spirit held him back. Imagine how a carnal Christian would react. “SATAN is telling me I can’t preach the gospel in Asia! God would NEVER tell me not to go somewhere and preach the gospel!” And of course, Paul was correct, and he pleased God by choosing not to help the people in Asia. Why did God make this decision? Search me. He’s God. It’s not our place to judge him.

What God really wants is for all of us to be prophets, not just readers and interpreters of instructions. Moses prophesied about this. He said, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” Then of course there is the famous passage in Joel 2. God wants each of us to be with him, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and he wants us to hear from him minute to minute, instead of running to a book he wrote. The Bible is incredibly powerful, and it’s a wonderful gauge for determining whether things come from God, but it is not as good as having God with you. This is why God called Jesus “Emmanuel,” or “God with us.” He knew Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit, and that would connect us to God’s power and guidance, like computers hooked up to the Internet.

The Bible is general. The Holy Spirit is specific. Sure, you can open the Bible and have your finger fall on a verse that tells you what to do in your specific situation, but the Holy Spirit can do much more than that. He can say, “Go buy a pair of red shoes and then take a bus to Omaha, where you will meet a chiropractor named Earl.” The Bible has limits, and the Holy Spirit does not.

The need for God’s presence is the reason loud, obnoxious worship music sometimes annoys me. God tends to speak in a quiet voice, and when someone is shrieking about Jesus at 125 dB, it can be hard to hear that voice. If you can’t hear it, you are not fully in God’s presence. And it’s not a matter of taste. All human beings are wired up the same. We are created in God’s image, not Marilyn Manson’s. Everyone is programmed for sensations like peace, joy, excitement, frenzy, and so on. It may sound hip and clever to say some people can hear God in a Gwar song, and there may be a grain (a tiny one) of truth in it, but it’s a misguided and counterproductive argument.

God’s nature is peaceful, warm, and reassuring, and the wrong music can make it hard to perceive those qualities. If you want to use harsh music to get immature people into the pews, great, but if you don’t end with music that reflects God’s nature, you have allowed the immature to shape you, instead of allowing God to shape them. The big problem with seeker-sensitive churches that rely on tools like obnoxious music is that they mimic the world until they become part of it. Christians are supposed to be missionaries to the unsaved, but if you ape the unsaved in order to avoid offending them, eventually, they succeed in converting YOU.

It also occurs to me that the word “carnal” should not be used as an insult. Until you get close to God, which takes time, carnality is all you have. Everyone starts out with carnality. And every Spirit-guided believer resorts to carnality from time to time. And we’re stuck in these bodies while we’re here, so it’s not like we can ignore the physical world and abandon physical tools. I think that when you call someone carnal, it should not be intended or perceived as an insult. It should be like telling someone he forgot to plug in his table saw. It just means you’re not using the power God has provided.

You can see why God equates faith with righteousness. In order to know what God really wants you to do, you have to have faith working in you, and that comes only through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Once you are able to hear from God and use his power, you have to use faith to make it work, and you have to trust God over and over.

Think of the Jews at the edge of the Red Sea, following Moses by faith. Think of the Jews following Joshua around the city of Jericho over and over, doing absolutely nothing with their carnal tools. God’s power showed up and did astounding things for them, NOT BY THEIR OWN STRENGTH. This is what walking by faith is like, every day. God tells you he will do something, and you have to sit there and trust until it happens, and in doing so, you please him by allowing his plan to go forward minute by minute. No wonder God calls faith righteousness. Without it, you’re just doing what you think his book told you to do, and you will be wrong a big percentage of the time.

You can tell me your church’s doctrine says I’m stupid. Unfortunately, I am an eyewitness. I am applying this stuff every day, and it just keeps working. A Spirit-deprived (carnal) church is like the law: it’s a tutor that introduces people to God. Once you know the teacher and see him at work, how can you go back and listen to people who don’t know him? Does that make sense to you?

I don’t have all the answers, but what I believe works and works and works, and things get better and better and better. I would be afraid to go back to the powerless life. I am marked as the enemy’s enemy. I am a target. Don’t ask me to put down my machine gun and wait to get shot, just so I can conform to wrong doctrine and avoid offending people. I’d be like a snail without its shell. A tasty snack for the birds of the air.

Samson was given to us to show us the results of carnal doctrine. The seven locks of his hair represent the seven Spirits of God. Once they were gone, he was blind and weak, and his enemies owned him. This is the same guy who literally possessed the gates of his enemies when God was with him. He pulled the gates of Gaza out of the ground and took them home.

Christians who reject the Spirit and his power are like the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’s time. There is no real difference. Those Jews received salvation through sacrifice, so you can’t say Christians are better off because they get eternal life. We will see many, many pre-Christian Jews in paradise. Their problem was that they told people to earn God’s help, even after Jesus made it clear that a better way was coming. Carnal Christians do the same thing. They say God doesn’t work miracles. They say prayer in tongues is gibberish (or Satanic). They say Christianity is hard, making Jesus a liar (he said his burden was light). They tell us to transform ourselves by effort, ignoring the fact that Paul told us the Spirit would transform us. They even tell us to pray to people other than God.

I don’t want to be a whitewashed tomb. I want the living water to clean me from the inside out. Anyone can have this. Get on board and ride, or pick up your burden and walk.

Go Soak Your Head

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

And Pull Your Pants Up

One of my beefs with modern Christianity is over music. I get tired of music that makes my ears hurt and sounds like something you would hear in a disco. And Christian rap…how is that even possible? Are you praising the Lord or jacking my car? Honestly, I can’t tell. When I was a kid, they had another name for rap. They called it “yelling.”

I’ve sensed the presence of God many, many times, and nothing about him has ever reminded me of rap, disco, or hard rock. In fact, the Bible says “clamor” grieves the Holy Spirit. When God’s presence is around you, things tend to be quiet and tranquil.

We work too hard to make God cool. It’s as if we’re positive every teenager in the United States will go straight to hell unless we let them inflict their awful music on us. If you ask me, God is already cool. He can say a few words and create a galaxy. Isn’t that cooler than wearing your pants around your knees and calling everyone “bra”? I guess my standards are warped.

I can understand the desire to have a certain amount of lively music in church, but after a while, it’s irritating and counterproductive.

There is a new genre of Christian music that was created to fill this huge gaping hole in our worship. They call it “soaking” music. You crank it up and lie back and pray. Typically, the lyrics aren’t all that catchy. Just stuff about how wonderful God is. It’s not supposed to bowl you over with its cleverness. It’s supposed to help you sense the Holy Spirit. That loud junk they play for the kids seems designed to get between you and God, like a big pimply wall.

When you listen to this stuff, it reminds you that God is all around you, and that he’s in charge, assuring you of a purpose and a good future. It brings intimacy.

The first soaking CD I owned was by a woman named Grace Williams. I don’t know how it got here. I didn’t buy it. I suspect my sister left it here. I found it here after watching an episode of Sid Roth’s show which featured a Grace Williams CD. She told him she used to sing in the Spirit when she was a baby. Her material is very nice.

I also learned about Julie True through Sid Roth. I picked up a couple of her albums.

Last night, I found Laura Rhinehart. I DLed her off Itunes. Very peaceful stuff, and the songs are long, so it’s not like they poop out just when you start to feel it.

I highly recommend this stuff. It provides the experience that New Age music tries to counterfeit. The lyrics are based on scripture, so you have good things to think about. You don’t sit there emptying your mind and waiting for nutty Hindu spirits to show up. It puts you in a good frame of mind to talk to God and listen for his responses.

Loud music is like caffeine. It seems to give you energy, but in reality, it’s just sucking energy out of your reserves and making you spend it. Soaking music refills the reservoir.