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Archive for May, 2011

Stung by Bee Removal “Experts”

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Never Hire These Characters

Let me give you some time-honored advice which is accepted by professional pest control technicians all over the US: when you have a honeybee infestation, always hire an expert to get rid of it.

Now let me give you INTELLIGENT advice: when you have a honeybee infestation, NEVER hire ANYONE to get rid of it. Do it yourself.

The people who advise you to hire “experts” are almost always people who get paid to remove bees. They never put forth a good reason. Bees–even demonic Africanized bees–can’t hurt you, as long as you wear the right stuff. It’s not like you’re jumping into a tank of hungry sharks, people. They’re like big ants with wings. Do not let them intimidate you. If it lives, I can kill it. Trust me on that.

I had bees in a soffit. Some bee guys came out. They pass out promotional items that say “guaranteed” on them. They tore out the soffit and got rid of the bees. I asked about “bee proofing.” They rejected the idea.

They charged $900 and left a giant hole someone else had to be paid to fix.

Think what a great racket this is. You go to someone’s house, tear it to pieces, and leave. Then you charge almost a grand. This is brilliant. I wish I had thought of it. Seriously, if you want to make money quickly and easily, doing something any monkey with an axe could do, consider bee removal.

Anyway, I fell for it. Now the bees are back. I called the bee people. They deny they said bee-proofing wasn’t necessary. They said two years without bees was “pretty good.” So evidently, you’re supposed to pay around $500 per year to be free of bees.

The “guarantee” on the promotional stuff? Oh…that means they guarantee they’ll get rid of the bees. They don’t guarantee they won’t come back. Kind of a stupid guarantee, since they wouldn’t have gotten paid if they hadn’t gotten rid of the bees. That’s MY guarantee. I guarantee myself I won’t pay you for failing. So far, I have been really good about honoring this guarantee.

I hung up on them. I guess I’m still not a perfect Christian.

Here’s what I’m going to do. First I’ll put Sevin dust and boric acid solution out for the bees. This will get rid of them over time. Then I’m going to get a bee veil, for about $20. I’m going to rent an inspection camera on a long shaft, suit up, drill a few holes, and find the hive. Then I’ll cut a small hole and scrape the hive out. Then I’ll repair the hole and pump the whole thing full of foam. Total cost? Probably under $75.

I wish I had a hive to put them in. They are obviously extremely tough, and I know they produce, because I saw the honey that came out last time.

Anyway, never pay a bee removal guy. It’s like paying a monkey to destroy your house.

And whatever you do, avoid sites that say things like “BEE REMOVAL HOW TO REMOVE BEES BEE NESTS BEEHIVES BEE EXTERMINATION BEE CONTROL BEE EXPERTS BEE REMOVAL SPECIALIST.”

Loose Ends

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Zechariah 4:6

First off, Heather’s mom still needs prayer. Her kidney function is improving, but she will need dialysis anyway. Apparently she has edema, and they believe dialysis will get rid of it:

Mom’s doctor and I have discussed dialysis since her kidney function numbers aren’t getting any better(they are a lot better but still not where they need to be). This is mom’s primary physician so he knows the score as to all of her health issues. He really feels like giving her dialysis will be the best chance to help her body get rid of this edema and recover. So at three pm today they will be surgically implanting a dialysis catheter.
Please pray that this is successful and she’s able to recover.
God Bless,
Heather Page

That being said, here is some Holy Ghost weirdness.

Years ago, although I had failed algebra in high school, I decided to get a physics degree. I was over 30, and I had gone back to college so I could find something productive to do with my life. Through a series of strange twists, I found myself studying physics. I learned algebra and calculus at the same time, I got my degree, and I went to grad school at one of the nation’s finest departments. Then I got burned out, quit, and went to law school. I was glad I had learned about math and physics, but I felt that I had failed.

A couple of years back, I started going to church. A guitarist introduced himself to me, and we started talking. I took up the guitar again. I made cheesecakes for the church’s cafe. Another guitarist ate the cheesecake and became one of my fans. We got to know each other, and he started helping me with the guitar. He started asking me if I could build tube guitar amps.

It sounded pretty crazy. But I took two semesters of electronics courses while I was studying physics. And in my garage, I had–this sounds like something I’m making up–a powered breadboard, a Weller soldering station, woodworking tools for cabinets, tons of components, a lab power supply, and a beautiful old Hitachi oscilloscope I bought on Ebay. Plus machine tools, a drill press, a welder, and a plasma cutter. Whatever has to be done, I can do. I felt like I was going nuts when I bought this stuff, and suddenly it was turning out to be just what I needed.

Of course, I started building amps. I built an amp with less than two watts of output. I thought it was too loud. I built an amp with a much lower output. Both amps worked well. All this time, the guy who liked the cheesecake was bugging me about building a Fender Super Reverb clone for him to gig with. I decided to look at bigger circuits, as preparation.

I decided a Deluxe Reverb was the way to go. Then I listened to a Hot Rod Deluxe, and I decided it was even better. I asked questions on an Internet forum, and someone told me that what I really wanted was a Fender Bassman 5f6a. I looked it up. Sure enough, they sound fantastic. Exactly the sound I like. I decided to build one.

Over the last few days I’ve been choosing parts. Yesterday I ordered them. The amp should be complete in about ten days.

This morning I went to breakfast with my dad. At the cash register, I felt something in my pocket. I took it out. It was an audio tube. I had forgotten it was in there. For some reason, it made me think of a friend of mine; an audiophile I’ve been trying to get to go to church. I realized I now had the ability to build tube amps for stereos. I thought it would be funny to send him a photo of the tube and let him know what I was up to. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me. But I texted him when I got home. Now he’s all excited. He wants to see the Bassman clone when I finish it.

When I got done texting him, a friend of mine called me. His name is Leo. This is one of my armorbearer friends from church. He works with the VA. You won’t believe what he told me, but here goes.

They help people learn new skills, both as hobbies and for vocational purposes. He knows a guy who just received…a tube amp kit. This guy is not highly skilled, and he’s freaking out at the complexity. I told Leo I’d be happy to help. I’d need a schematic, et cetera et cetera. Leo said the amp was a clone of a Marshall JTM 45, and he sent me a link to the assembly manual.

How many amp models has Fender produced? Two hundred, maybe? What about Marshall? Same story. Why does that matter? Here’s why: the JTM 45 is a Fender Bassman 5f6a with a Marshall label. It’s a direct copy. So I’m building a Bassman for myself, and then a week or two later, I’ll be building the same circuit for someone else. And the online manual Leo provided will be a big help to me, not just with the JTM 45, but also with the Bassman.

So this is a testimony.

Where does this all come from? What is the source of all these “coincidences”? They come from praying in tongues. I recently learned that one of the benefits of praying in tongues for long periods is that you prophesy over your own life. You speak blessings into existence. You declare how God will tie up the loose ends and put you on rails headed for success. A guy named Glenn Arekion teaches about this; you can find audio at Sid Roth’s site.

The vast majority of Christians have lives that only work a little better than ungodly lives. They pray for things they don’t get. They divorce. They can’t quit smoking. They can’t lose weight. Their enemies beat them. They don’t have peace or joy, to any great extent. Why is this? It’s because they’re not plugged in. They’re like appliances with the cords cut off. Prayer in tongues makes the difference. It’s the power supply.

You need to quit saying it can’t be that easy. If you’re a Christian, you already accept easy success. At some point in the past, someone told you that you could get eternal life in a mansion in heaven, just by saying and believing one sentence. If you can believe that, why can’t you believe praying in tongues will give you the power and the character you need to live a victorious life here on earth? Do you understand how ridiculous that is? Effort required to receive eternity in paradise: speaking one sentence. Effort required to be blessed for the few years you have here on earth: copious daily prayer in tongues. Which is easier? Isn’t it obvious? If you can believe you received eternal salvation in ten seconds, surely you can believe God will give you a few decades of help in exchange for hours of prayer.

This works. I have zero interest in your scholarly arguments and your time-honored doctrine. I have seen this working, over and over. It works, it works, it works. You can argue with someone who reads about God, or who studied God in a university. You can’t argue with a witness.

God is sending people to me, to receive this message. It’s happening in my weekly prayer group. People notice that there is something different about me, and about the things I say, and they are trying to get ahold of it. Some of them took my advice and didn’t even tell me. I have five people now, using timers to make sure they spend time praying in tongues every day. They are changing. I see it. They don’t need me any more. They’re going to go on whether or not I continue.

This is why the gospel was called “good news.” It’s not just about salvation. The Jews had salvation before Christianity existed. What they didn’t have was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God’s spirit rested ON some of them, but he did not become part of them, the way he does now. This is why Jesus said he who was least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than John the Baptist, who was greatest among men “born of women.” Today, you can be born of the Spirit. It’s not the same thing. It’s what “born again” really means.

Watch this space. Things are breaking loose.

Now the Nut With the Milling Machine has Friends

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

1 = Loony; 3 = Cult

The weekly prayer meetings at my church are impressing me a lot more than the sermons these days. The sermons are generally good, but they are aimed at a fairly weak group of Christians, many of whom will pack up and go home if they don’t hear what they want to hear. The prayer meetings tend to attract people who really want to advance in their relationships with God.

Even the prayer meetings suffer from a Gideon effect. If someone who is highly placed in the church shows up, attendance is higher than it is the rest of the time. On the weekends when a less-prominent person leads the meeting, attendance falls steeply. Someone let me know that this happens because people show up to score political points. I didn’t realize it because I don’t think in terms of butt-kissing. By the time I realize there is a butt-kissing opportunity, the butt has usually left the building with its entourage.

I call it the Gideon effect because it pares the group down to a small but effective group of people, the way God pared Gideon’s army down. I don’t know if the purpose is the same; God sent most of Gideon’s soldiers home because he wanted everyone to know that Gideon and his men were not numerous enough to win without divine help. I don’t think that’s what God is doing with my group. Still, it works out the same. Nine people one week, three the next.

This week we ended up with the only three people in the whole church (that I know of) who pay any attention to me when I say prayer in tongues is extremely powerful and that it is the most important activity in a Christian’s life. I’m one of those people, so you can see how my ministry is growing. Next year there might be five of us! Pardon my foolish pride. I dream big.

One of these guys is an unemployed construction worker who boxes professionally. He’s a wonderful guy, but he does not get a lot of respect at church. He’s eccentric, and he gets excited easily, even by charismatic standards. Quite frankly, some people think he’s nuts. They are not completely without justification, but I think his extraordinary zeal, which is an asset, makes weaker Christians think he’s a little off. It’s funny, we tell each other to BELIEVE, BELIEVE, BELIEVE, but when we run into a guy who takes us seriously, we tell each other, “Keep an eye on that nut.”

I’ve talked to him a lot, and my take is that he is one hundred percent sold out to God. I think he’s the real thing. And it’s wrong to sell him short. He’s not a highly educated person, but sometimes he’ll show up at just the right time and tell you exactly what you need to hear. That quality comes from God. People do not appreciate him. I get a lot more good out of him than I do from a lot of people I know who are successful and stable.

In our prayer meetings, he has caused a certain amount of disruption. Sometimes he would come in and talk more than he should. He has a lot of problems, and earlier this year, he was very discouraged. He would come in and tell us how hard Christianity is, and how you have to struggle and fight. I kept trying to get him to try tongues, to build himself up and change his outlook and his character, and to get God’s power moving in his life.

A few weeks back, he came to the meeting in a bad state, and we tried to help him, and at the end, I told him not to bother me any more unless he had been praying in tongues. At the next meeting, I gave him a kitchen timer I didn’t like. I bought it a long time ago, for things like prayer, music practice, and cooking, and it was aggravating to use. One day it occurred to me that it would work very well for my friend, and I would be rid of it, so I turned it over to him and told him to do what I did: set it to three minutes and pray in tongues. Every day. I told him his life would change.

After that, when I saw him at church, he would tell me it was working. He felt peace. Things were getting better. He was increasing the prayer time.

Yesterday, he got up and spoke at the meeting, and it was one of the weirdest things I had ever seen. We used to teach him. Yesterday, he taught us. We used to try to get him to shut up. Now I wanted to listen. He had been getting revelation from the Holy Spirit. He spoke so wisely, it was almost creepy. And he looked different! You would have to know him to understand. There is a strange radiance and look of well-being you get from praying in tongues a lot. They say my great grandmother’s face used to shine from it. I’ve seen it in the mirror. It makes you look younger.

I know it sounds crazy, but it was as if God had made my friend smarter. And I suppose that’s possible. I’ve always felt that in the Bible, the word “wisdom” usually does not refer to intelligence. But sometimes it does. And the word of wisdom is one of the gifts you get from prayer in tongues. James said God would give us wisdom if we asked for it. Maybe God makes people brighter, not just better informed.

It gets even stranger. I didn’t realize how much impact I had had on the third member of the party, my friend Alonzo. He said he had been hitting the tongues hard, too. This explains all the wise things he has been coming up with. He has been freaking me out for quite some time now.

The three of us started talking about carnality in our church. There are things holding the church back. It amazed me to see how we agreed. In the past, I would sit at prayer meetings and do my best to get a few words in on behalf of the Holy Spirit, while other people talked about hard work and self-improvement, which are relatively worthless things compared to the power of the Holy Spirit. Yesterday, I didn’t really need to talk at all! Both of my friends were saying things I already knew. And we kept confirming each other. We were in “one accord”! Sound familiar?

The Holy Spirit is the nervous system of the body of Christ. I say that all the time. Jesus is the brain. When we are not in harmony with each other, it’s because we’re not praying in tongues and increasing the Holy Spirit’s power in us. Yesterday I got a taste of what it was like to be part of a body in which the nervous system worked properly.

The Holy Spirit is what makes life work. Haven’t you noticed that human effort doesn’t work? Diets don’t work. Exercise plans don’t work. New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Self-help books don’t work. Therapy doesn’t work. Marriage counseling doesn’t work. Christian teaching that doesn’t involve using the power of the Holy Spirit doesn’t work. MOST Christian teaching doesn’t work (because it’s stuff we made up). God designed us to be plugged into his power outlet. Without it, your efforts have about as much impact as an air ratchet that isn’t hooked up to a compressor.

I know people will retort that the things I criticized DO work. Sure, they work. SOMETIMES. With LIMITATIONS. With COSTS. TEMPORARILY. The general rule is that the things we do to change our lingering problems don’t get us very far in the long run. The Holy Spirit works, works, WORKS. No hidden costs. No strings attached. No unforeseen consequences, except for good ones.

I get so tired of soulish “teachers” telling me and my friends how to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Have you ever thought about that expression? It’s intended to be witty; it’s not supposed to be taken seriously. The whole point of the expression is to show us that we can’t lift ourselves up without help. Try pulling your bootstraps and see what happens. It’s a joke, yet people say “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” in complete seriousness. God never intended us to pull ourselves up. He intended us to allow him to pull us up.

If one more preacher tries to sell me a stupid book, DVD, or seminar full of brilliant self-help tips that don’t involve God’s power, I think I may do something that will give me a great chance to start a prison ministry. From inside.

What if Jesus had stood around handing out pamphlets entitled “How to Think Your Way Out of Paralysis and Blindness”? He would have died rich (from running seminars), nobody anywhere would have been healed, and we’d all be going to hell. Yet we pay good money to preachers who tell us that positive thinking and hard work will get us where we want to be. Blind guides. They never got there themselves, but they make money selling other people maps!

I’m not saying that everyone who prays in tongues will have a perfect life. You can always overcome the Holy Spirit’s guidance if you want to. You can remain unimproved. Perry Stone knew a Klansman who prayed in tongues. But it seems pretty clear that if you DON’T pray in tongues, you are not going to develop the way you should.

We’re talking about forming our own prayer group now, so we can focus more on the Holy Spirit.

I have the feeling that I should buy 5 timers and put out a challenge to the people I know: take a timer and pray in the Spirit every day for three minutes, and get back to me after one week. Give me and the rest of us your testimony. I think I’m going to get some timers this week.

Obviously, you don’t need a timer, but it’s a helpful tool.

I think there are certain people who can be reached, and I should be content with them. If that is correct, I would be in the same boat as people like Jesus and Moses, who never succeeded in getting the whole flock to go through the gate.

Fascinating stuff. It amazes me more and more all the time.

Geez, I wanted to write about the guitar. I guess I can cram it in at the end.

Today I took my homemade amp to church and let my young musician friends check it out. What a blast. We have some extraordinary talents in my church, and I am trying to help them in any way I can. I don’t want to see them end up working in grocery stores. My interests in music and electronics are really helping.

My young friend Zach is an incredible blues guitarist and singer. He fired my amp up on the church stage and tried it out, and it sounded wonderful. We’re going to build a Super Reverb clone. The church’s rhythm guitarist is named Joe; he’s also a very talented singer. I tried to get him to try it out, but it can be hard to get a rhythm guitarist to play after a soloist! He says he wants to build an amp, too. Another guy is rebuilding a Strat, so we may end up collaborating.

Yesterday I finished my second amp, a “Powerman.” It doesn’t work yet. I put it together in a blur of flying tools and wires and components. I really amazed myself. And of course, I did something wrong, and now I have to find it.

The guitar is going extremely well. I’m learning to slow the music down in my head and really get my heart behind my fingers. That brings smoothness and speed.

I’ve been trying to play the intro to “I Know a Little” as well as Steve Gaines played it. Actually, that’s wrong. I’ve been trying to play it better than he did. I didn’t realize it until today. I listened to him playing, and I realized that the sound I have in my head–the sound I’m aiming for–is better than what he achieved in the studio. There are some parts he doesn’t play perfectly. That’s amazing, given that I’m so close to conquering them. He had endless takes in a studio, and presumably, he used the best one, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to beat it.

I’ve got a modified pick design that gives me unbelievable speed, control, and tone. I’m getting my amps to do what I want. The Chinese Epiphone has an action that beats any other guitar I’ve tried, and the new pickups and heavy strings make it sound fantastic. I’m going to win. It’s not that far off.

I don’t know where I’m going, but someone else does, and he speaks it through me every day. All of this stuff is going to turn out to be worthwhile and rewarding. You can’t get that from Anthony Robbins in sheep’s clothing. You can’t get that from Tom Cruise.

That’s all I got for now. I hope it will be useful to someone.

Box of Joy

Friday, May 13th, 2011

I am an Electronics Expert & Tool Ninja

Today I installed the new Shark Guard on my table saw, fired it up, cut a chunk out of some grade XX phenolic sheet, drilled a few holes in a Hammond aluminum chassis, grabbed some hex standoffs and screws, and made…THIS:

That’s going to be a 6021-powered guitar amp. A 6021 is a subminiature tube about an inch and a quarter long.

The Shark Guard is wonderful. It even has a dust port on it, so I can attach a shop vac.

I cut that panel out, taped it to the chassis, and drilled the mounting holes through both items. The holes are perfectly round; I guess the board held the bit nice and steady. So far, it’s beautiful.

I love my tools so much. This was a breeze!

Ps. 37:4; Zech 4:10

Variations

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

I Need to Get Up and Do Something

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. I felt pretty bad for him until we both met a guy who was just a head. Then all three of us met a guy who was just an eyeball. We decided to go to the mall and buy him a nice monocle.

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. It worked out okay, though, because chicks dig guys who cry.

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. He called me a pansy and tried to punch me for crying. But I outran him pretty easily.

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. I’m glad I wasn’t crying about not having a hat.

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. Suddenly I felt new gratitude for my vast collection of expensive boots.

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. I stopped crying and asked if I could have his shoes. Hey, he wasn’t using them.

Two Needs

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Help Appreciated

My family on my mother’s side grew tons and tons of cigarette tobacco. My mother’s sister died from lung cancer in 1994. My grandfather died a month later, and his cardiologist suspected the stress of his daughter’s death was one of the causes. My uncle (who smoked and chewed) died of stomach cancer in 1995. My mother died from lung cancer in 1997. My sister was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer last year, but it appears God has healed her.

Yesterday one of my two remaining aunts told my father there were two spots on her x-rays. She smoked for forty years or so. She quit a few years back, but a lot of damage was already done. Please pray that she will be healed, and that God will help her draw closer to him, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and serve him better. Pray that he will glorify himself in healing her. Thanks.

Now this, from Heather:

Please keep praying for my mom, Penny. Since she hasn’t been able to speak, her nephrologist thinks she may have had a mild stroke. However the cat scan did not show this. She was alert tonight and knew me, but ignored the doctor when he was talking to her. Her kidney numbers are getting better, so I know that your prayers are working. Please ask the Lord to restore her ability to speak. Thank you & God Bless!

Completing the Circuit

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Finally Grounded

I had another remarkable day.

I’m trying to build a “Powerman” amp. Some tinkerer on the web came up with this. He took the case from an old PC power supply, and he crammed a bunch of amp parts into it, hence the name. I listened to some sound samples online, and I thought they were tremendous. Clear, hot, and sort of shimmery. Just what I want.

Today while I waited for the parts to arrive, I tried to get going on a PCB, or printed circuit board. If you don’t know what this is, it’s a slab of plastic coated with copper. Instead of using wires to connect things like resistors and tubes, you cut away the copper on the board until you have separate electrical paths separated by plastic, and they become the “wiring.” You solder your components to the board in the appropriate places, and you have a circuit that works.

The “printed” part comes from the fact that you can literally print these things. You create some sort of template and print it onto the board, and then you apply a solution that eats copper. The printed stuff protects the copper you want to keep. What’s left is the pattern that becomes your circuit. I don’t know if they do it much differently in factories, but this is the basic idea. I am too lazy to look up industrial PCB manufacturing.

When you do this at home, you have to create a black and white pattern and print it on photo paper. Then you use an iron to melt the toner (I guess) onto the copper plate. You remove the paper, and you’re ready to add the solution (“etchant”). You can also use a battery and a salt solution and remove the copper through electrolysis.

Feel free to correct the details, because there is no way I’m going to do it.

Here’s the hard part: making the diagram. I guess if you really wanted to, you could draw it on a piece of paper, scan it, and print that. But that’s no fun, plus it would be ugly, and it would be tedious. So what do you do? You use circuit design software, and then you use special software that turns your circuits into PCB images.

I spent like 4 hours today trying to understand a free program called PCB Artist. I never did get anywhere with it. I can understand calculus. I can understand physics. Sometimes I almost think I can understand my car insurance policy. But software written for engineers? It tends to be pretty hideous. Engineers have their own culture, so when they come up with new stuff, they kind of assume you already have all the old stuff memorized, because all you do is sit in your room smoking dope and doing nerd stuff. And sometimes they get angry when they have to accommodate normal people who know what the sun looks like. There are probably still engineers who think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs will burn in hell for giving up on command-prompt computing.

PCB Artist has a help file. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, man. Engineers…WRITING. Never a good thing. It has flow charts where it ought to have paragraphs. Even Dilbert would vomit.

So I gave up. But then I made an amazing discovery. I already had free versions of two expensive programs: Multisim and Ultiboard. Don’t ask me how I got free versions. I downloaded them a long time ago. I don’t think they support them now. But they work fine. On top of that, everything is pretty intuitive.

I managed to create my own schematic symbol for the 6021 twin triode vacuum tube. I felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest on roller skates. I haven’t figured out how to get it totally integrated into the software, but I don’t really have to do that. The tubes are going to fit into op amp sockets, so as long as I can come up with a circuit with two sockets in it, I’m fine. The software already knows about sockets.

Very cool.

A bunch of the parts arrived. I have a Hammond aluminum chassis, lots of resistors, numerous capacitors, et cetera. I felt like dumping them in a pile and letting them pour through my fingers. I love this stuff.

Over the weekend, I located an amazing book on vacuum tubes. It was written in 1952, for the military. The great thing about that is that the military EXPECTS you to be stupid. It’s not like university math and science texts, which always have incomprehensible, agony-inducing passages preceded by the word “obviously.” Now I know how vacuum tubes work! Fantastic! I should be done with the book next week. I looked at an awful book on tube guitar amps, and it was as useless as a Honey-Baked Ham store in Pakistan. Totally worthless. But the military book was a breeze. Why aren’t there more books like that?

I’m actually going to be able to do this. Not just this circuit, but circuits in general. Simple ones. And it’s coming together just as the guitar is starting to work. It is now easy for me to do things that were impossible a month ago. My hands are doing things which, I’m pretty sure, aren’t even physically possible. I’ll be brave and say I expect to be able to play “I Know a Little” very well, at 90% speed, without fear of screwing up, in a month.

The nuttiest things are happening. When you pick a guitar, you have to be accurate to within a couple of millimeters on every stroke. The natural impulse is to crab up your hand and move the pick with cramped movements of your fingers. I’m swinging my hand from the elbow, not looking where I’m going, and I’m whacking the strings I need to hit, reliably and smoothly. It’s like sinking a basketball over and over from 50 feet. When you play this way, you can play much faster and more rhythmically than you can by moving the pick with your fingers. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. A person with no fingers at all should be able to flatpick as well as anyone, as long as he can find a way to hang onto the pick.

As I get more accurate, I spend less energy on mechanics, and I have more brain capacity to apply to making the music sound good. I can listen to it and enjoy it. And my left hand feels like it’s swimming in the fretboard. Sometimes I feel like I’m singing with my hands.

I don’t know what’s going on, but a month or two back, I got the definite impression that my life was going to start working much better toward the end of April. I saw it as a pivotal week. I think from now on I’m going to succeed in areas where I used to fail.

This morning, I started feeling that God was blessing me. I felt that he was putting things in motion for me; bringing me wonderful things. It’s hard to explain, but I couldn’t help bending my knees at one point, as if someone were showering me with heavy gifts. I thought I’d blog it. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll be just another crazy, and no one will care. If it does, I will have given God his glory, and unlike most people, I will have done it in advance.

God works. And the ideas I’ve had about him are all panning out. Especially tongues. I’ve only managed to get two people at church on board with it. One of them is using a timer to pray in tongues every day, as I suggested.

I’m going to go on ahead. I’m going to be like Joshua and Caleb. I don’t know how to bring people along with me; I wish I did. Jesus himself had limited success at that. But I have learned that when you get ahold of something good, and you decide to embark on a course of action that will dramatically improve your life, nearly everyone you know will find an excuse to stay behind and rot. The slavery they know looks better than the milk and honey they’ve been promised.

Maybe this is why a good marriage is such a treasure. Maybe the best thing that can happen to a man is to find a woman he doesn’t have to outgrow and leave behind.

I know there are disappointments in this way of life, but they are always disappointments in human beings, not God. I don’t care about those things. Human beings were created to be disappointing. We are told most of them go to hell. If they manage to achieve salvation, it’s a big deal. Asking for any improvement beyond that is wildly optimistic. Most Christians remain babies until they die, just like unsaved people.

I pray sincerely for people to change, and I go on with my progress. There is hope for anyone who will submit. I don’t know who will change and who will not. I hope some of the folks who disappoint me will come around.

If I manage to make a PCB amp, I’ll put up photos. This will be so cool, I may not be able to stand it.

Class Will Tell

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Give me Your Tithes, You Fat Moron

I had an interesting experience last night.

A guy came to our church and preached. He has his own church in another state. He sang some bluesy tunes and got a great response, which makes me wonder why we never have music like that. But the really interesting thing was the sermon.

He spent the majority of the time badmouthing the people at his church, even making fun of them for having big behinds (though he probably weighs 300 pounds). Our congregation went nuts. I don’t think they were thinking clearly. He was funny, and we didn’t show up to worry about his church’s problems, so it’s understandable that people responded to him favorably. But think about it: this man traveled over a thousand miles to go to another church and insult the people who pay his bills! That’s incredible.

He wasn’t reaming out his entire flock. He singled out people who criticized or left the church. Still, they feed his kids, and look at the gratitude he shows them.

He said a lady came up to him and said, “You know what’s wrong with this church?” And he supposedly replied, “You’re IN it.” Am I crazy for thinking that’s not a great story for a pastor to tell? Jesus was generally critical of people in authority but kind to his followers. Did he have it all wrong?

The preacher talked about the Good Samaritan, and he completely misunderstood the story. Here’s how it works. A traveler is robbed and beaten on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. A priest and a Levite pass by, on the way to Jerusalem. A Samaritan stops and helps him. You know about this. The significance of this is that people often do evil by neglecting human need while pretending to serve God.

The Levite and the priest could not touch dead bodies without becoming ritually unclean. They were on their way to Jerusalem, which was the location of the Temple. They wanted to please God, and they knew that if they became impure, it would interfere with their work at the Temple. Therefore they chose to avoid touching a man who, for all they knew, was dead. That’s what Perry Stone says, anyhow.

The Samaritan did not worship at Jerusalem; that’s one of the things the Jews hated about Samaritans. He was free to help. And by showing his love for his fellow man, he pleased God more than the others.

That’s not what I heard yesterday. I’m not totally sure what the lesson about the Samaritan’s good deed was, but we were told that the dying man got beaten up because he left Jerusalem. And we were told that our “Jerusalem” was our church. And if we left it for another church, we would be open to attack.

The obvious question is: what if I decide to quit my church and go to yours? I guess it’s an evil place, right?

Another question: assuming my church and your church are both good, are you saying all other churches are evil? Sure sounded like it.

Finally, how can you promote the idea that there is only one good place to worship, when the hero of the parable belonged to a group who refused to worship at the Temple? Is that irony or what?

I just read the parable of the Good Samaritan. Guess what? Nowhere does it condemn the victim for having the nerve to travel. In fact, as any Jew or Christian should know, one of the worst crimes in the ancient Middle East was maltreatment of travelers. Traveling, itself, was not wrong. How else could people do business? Paul traveled. Jesus traveled. Come on.

Sometimes it amazes me how we miss the obvious. This guy came to us and proved he was immature and disloyal, and we didn’t even notice.

This reminds me of the old saw: a dog that will bring a bone will carry one. A person who badmouths other people to you will badmouth you to other people. I wonder what this guy is going to say about my church when he goes to other churches. I don’t think my pastor travels across the country and tells other congregations we’re a bunch of idiots. I can’t see him turning on us like that.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to align yourself with someone who mistreats others. You may think you’re special, and that you’ll get the benefit of that person’s bad behavior, with none of the curses. Wait till the tide shifts! Some day you’ll be on the dirty end of the stick. Ask a woman who dates bad boys, or a man who has dated nasty women who make a living on their backs.

I know a woman who likes to verbally abuse waiters and cashiers and so on. People who can’t fight back. Meanwhile, her favorite way to say goodbye to people is, “Have a blessed day.” This is a vicious individual, but if you listened to her talk about how much she loves God, you might take her for a saint. You can’t listen to the things people say about themselves; people are their own press agents. If you want to know them, you have to consider what they do, especially when they think they’re safe from punishment. Like when they’re a thousand miles away from the people they’re insulting.

Christianity has always been screwed up, just like every other religion. These days it seems like one of our worst faults is our tendency to assume that anyone who has a big church is favored by God. I wonder how the megachurch proponents would explain the success of Scientology or the Mormons. God isn’t the only one who helps people succeed, and what we think is success is often a curse in disguise.

He also lambasted people who start small churches “in hotels.” That borders on despicable. What an offensive thing to say about anointed ministers who are giving up their secular lives and stepping out in faith, starting their careers as well as they can. Not everyone has a church handed to him on a platter, as he did. He said he was given a facility. It was a former funeral parlor. He was complaining about it, but I’m sure there are a dozen ministers in Miami who would cry tears of gratitude if someone gave them a funeral parlor or even a warehouse.

I think this guy means well, but if you’re so loud and self-assured you can’t hear the Holy Spirit, you are bound to say foolish things. I’ve certainly done it.

I get tired of having blind guides paraded in front of me. There are a lot of wonderful people at my church, and they want to do the right thing, but what chance do they have when we give a platform to folks who are just plain wrong? Some of them go home and try to put this craziness into practice! How awful is that? They’re worse off than if they had stayed home smoking weed.

No one from my church reads my blog, and I don’t mention names. I guess some day someone will find out that I’m not totally on board with everything that happens there, and then maybe I’ll get a lecture, or I’ll be told to quit working as a volunteer. What can I do? Right is right. When the enemy misleads people and puts them to work with time-wasting nonsense, someone with a little bit of the Holy Spirit’s clarity needs to say something about it. The story of the Good Samaritan shows that you have to be good to men in order to please God, but it does not say you have to PLEASE men.

I try not to be proud. I try not to be self-righteous. I should think about love at least as much as I think about pleasing God. Maybe I go off the reservation sometimes. It’s hard to say.

I believe modern pentecostal churches are developing a phobia of healthy criticism. We keep bringing in people who slander and deride helpful critics. Critics are the tools of Satan! They’re going to be left behind while we go on to victory! Thing is, I’m going on to victory, and most people in the church are not. God does great things for me all the time, and my biggest frustration is that I am leaving people behind, when I want them to go forward with me. What we’re hearing is the opposite of the truth.

A hatred of criticism is one of the tools Satan uses to build impregnable fortresses of evil. Think of the Communists and the Nazis. What happened under those regimes, if you opened your mouth? You were imprisoned, or you got a bullet in the head. So criticism was very rarely heard, and sick, Satanic regimes flourished. Islam is the same way. The church can go the same route.

Look what happened to the prophets and Jesus. Did Al Qaeda get them? Did Charles Manson get them? No, of course not. Their greatest enemies were people who were totally devoted to serving God. Jesus and the prophets didn’t stand around hugging the high priests and calling them “great man of God.” They were extremely critical. Think about this: they were killed for criticizing! It’s the God’s honest truth.

Think about the things they said. Repent, or God will strip you naked and expose your genitals, and you’ll eat your own babies. Your sons will be castrated and forced to serve other kings. Whitewashed tombs. Prisoners of hell. Generation of vipers. One of the reasons the gospels are hard to read is that they are jam-packed with criticism and correction. Positive thinking? Get real. It’s not in the Bible. Faith is in the Bible, but that’s not the same thing. Faith means believing God. Positive thinking means believing in man.

Obviously, you can’t have an effective church when every malcontent feels like he can stand up during services and offer pointless whining and excessive fault-finding. But that’s not the only thing the positive thinkers want to prevent. They want to cut off helpful, vital criticism, and they try to portray it as grumbling and whining, because if you silence a critic, you can go on doing what you want.

In my own church, I’ve seen many, many problems that could be fixed very easily, but I’ve found that I sometimes get scolded for pointing them out and offering simple, workable solutions. That’s not unity. That’s a crippling disability.

Why does this happen? Bureaucracy. That’s a big word that means “looking out for Number One.” When you point out problems, you’re threatening jobs and reputations and wildly distorted self-images. Each person cares about holding onto his territory and his prestige, even if he isn’t a paid staffer, and if you point out failures, you put those territories at risk.

Yesterday I realized that churches are God’s civil service. What happens in the civil service? People get hired, and then they work out a system that protects them, no matter what they do wrong. Churches are the same way. If you want to see how churches run, go look at the Post Office or the DMV. Merit means nothing. Connections and seniority mean everything. So if you’ve been going to a church for five years, and you wonder why the doors don’t work or the hedges are dead or the worst singers always get to solo, there’s your answer. Man’s craving for power and security outweighs God’s desire for us to improve and excel.

Like government employees, people at churches have no one to answer to. As long as they can get people to donate money, they don’t have to do a good job. They don’t have to sell a good product. They don’t have to offer good services. They can show up late, leave early, overpay themselves, deliver bad (or plagiarized) sermons, and ignore the Holy Spirit, as long as they know how to raise cash. This is how people like Robert Tilton survive. In the real world, they’d last ten minutes. Many of them would be in jail. Now that I think about it, some of them have gone to jail.

I know a guy who is utterly, abysmally incompetent. He holds a high position with a church. When people talk about obstacles to progress at that church, his name comes up over and over. He probably thinks he’s doing great, and that anyone who criticizes him is from the enemy. If he ever gets a real job, he’s in for a rude awakening. He’ll be fired in two days. He’ll be flipping burgers, at best. Jesus told us we could think very highly of ourselves though we were actually blind and naked and poor. This guy is a prime example. Because he is shielded from correction, he is never going to grow up or develop into a capable man.

I live for the times when I’m with other Christians and the Holy Spirit shows up and guides us. Those are the events that really bring me to church. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. Generally, this happens at prayer meetings more than services. I wish that atmosphere and that power would take over the sanctuary. I feel God’s presence much more often when I’m alone than I do in services.

Here’s a strange thing I’ve noticed. Although criticism is strongly discouraged in my church, there is no shortage of people who are willing to criticize me. They’ve done it many times. Am I complaining? No way. I’m very grateful. It’s a blessing. I’ve grown because of it. Sometimes people criticize me out of ignorance or arrogance, or because I inadvertently make them look bad. Who cares? Dogs will bark. But often people who point out my mistakes are right, and their criticism helps me. This stuff is gold. Check Psalm 141. The sad thing is that our bad attitude toward criticism is robbing many other people of the benefits I’ve received. Again, I find myself being blessed, and I find myself moving forward, but I can’t seem to drag many people along with me.

Oddly, sometimes the people who criticize me are the same people who preach the anti-criticism gospel.

I was born an idiot, and it took me a disgracefully long time to get on God’s path. He had to beat me pretty hard to get me there. I would never have found it on my own. I think he needs to give churches a good beating, too. He needs to do us an undeserved favor, reaching in and pulling out the folks who are blocking his will. They’re like placques in the brain of an Alzheimer’s victim, preventing the signals from getting through. Man is supposed to fix the world, and that means that when we screw up, we end up with churches that don’t work. It’s our obligation to correct and strengthen churches, and to pass on godly ways. We haven’t done that, so things are a mess. The only solution is for God to step in like the Salvation Army or a social worker and change our diapers for us. Again. If he does, there will probably be a wave of firings, deaths, and prosecutions. Maybe we should be praying for the problem children to wake up and change, before God does the changing for them.

I wish atheists understood that man is responsible for making the world work. Maybe they’d quit moaning about how suffering and evil prove God doesn’t exist.

From here on out, I will take special notice when a preacher insults the people who feed him. That’s a good lesson.

Out of the Mire

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Fat Strings Make for Fast Picking

Well this is weird.

I’ve been working on the intro to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “I Know a Little” for weeks, and I was having a miserable time with some of the flatpicking. There’s a place where you play the first string at the twelfth fret, then the second string at the tenth fret, then the third string at the eighth fret, and then you move everything down a fret and play it again. You do this at 150% of the song’s normal 220 beat per second speed. It is not easy. I’ve been screwing it up over and over.

The other day I took my Strat out of the case. I hadn’t played it in a while. It has elevens on it. My other guitars generally have tens on them (or tens with heavy bottom strings). When I played the Strat, the flatpicking was easier. This was what I had hoped for when I took it out. It’s not surprising, since it’s generally easier to flatpick heavy strings. I decided to consider putting elevens on my other guitars.

The Strat is great, but I can’t cope with the volume knob that sits where my picking hand should be. It forces me to play near the neck, where the strings are wobbly and hard to find. I figured I should try elevens on another guitar and get used to picking fast near the bridge, where it’s easiest. Eventually, I would be able to go back to the Strat and play fast, regardless of the position. I’d get used to picking fast, so the knob would no longer matter. This was the plan.

Today I got a set of D’Addario jazz/blues strings (couldn’t find the normal ones at Best Buy) and put them on my amazing Chinese Epiphone. Suddenly I was able to play that difficult lick! The clouds had parted! You can’t imagine how hard I’ve worked on this, and how little progress I made until I tried the new strings. Suddenly I was able to feel the strings properly with my left hand, and they didn’t run away from my right hand any more. The thinner strings didn’t give my left hand much feedback, and they were hard to find with the pick.

Since then I’ve played “I Know a Little” until I’m wiped out. It’s so satisfying, hearing it work. Now I just have to fix one piece of fretting, and I’m in business. I’ll be able to play the song well at 90% speed and adequately at 100%. That’s a big deal. I’ve never seen anyone else do it. If I can do this, I know I’ll be able to play blues guitar well.

Most people like to use little strings to play fast. It doesn’t work well for me. They bend much easier, and that’s nice, but when you’re really flying, they seem to let you slide around the guitar neck too much, making your fretting inaccurate. When you fret guitar strings, sometimes you actually use one string for support while you reach for another, and that doesn’t work well with nines or tens. And because they’re hard to feel, you don’t always know what’s going on.

Maybe it’s because I learned on thirteens, playing bluegrass. Those things are fantastic for fast picking. You can forget about bending them to any useful degree, and stretches and playing up the neck are really rough, but your right hand will cook, and your left hand will always know exactly what’s happening.

I wonder if this is why Stevie Ray Vaughan liked thick strings. Perhaps when your hands get strong, playing on thin strings gets harder. He played very, very fast, so I can see how thin strings would confuse his picking hand. I’m sure someone will point out that he tuned down half a step, making the strings easier to bend. I think that would make the need for stiffer strings even greater.

This is fantastic. I’m so relieved. When you’re a musician, every time you hit a technical problem you can’t solve, you wonder if you’ve hit the limit of your talent. Now I know I can flatpick the electric guitar as fast as anyone needs to. I may not be the fastest, but almost no material will be off limits to me because of speed issues. That’s good enough for me. It’s the best result I could have hoped for.

It’s also comforting to know my age is not limiting me. I remember watching Roy Clark complain about losing speed, and he was probably five or more years younger than I am. I think he had arthritis. Anyway, when you’re old and you try to develop a skill, you always have to worry that it’s something your body or mind can’t do.

Finally, I’m going to have music in my life, and I’m going to do it well. The problems I had with the piano were extremely disappointing, so I feel like I have a new lease on life. I also have friends who are interested in amps, guitars, music, and serving God, so I won’t be alone in this.

I can’t wait until next week. With this new development, I should be playing this song correctly by then.

On top of that, I found a new tube amp design that I like, so I’m getting ready to order the parts and get to work. I now have two guys at church who want me to build amps for them.

Psalm 37:4!

If Only God Would Retire

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

We Could Get a Few Things DONE

Today I’m thinking about signs that show that a church is successful.

It’s an interesting subject. Sometimes God does things that are impressive from an earthly perspective, and it demonstrates that he’s on the scene, so if your church is big and rich, it could mean God is with you. On the other hand, what if a pastor sees a big, healthy church and decides to make his church big, too, even if he has to cut spiritual corners to get there? It’s like an anorexia victim puffing up her cheeks with air to look fat.

I’m concerned about the trend toward building megachurches. I don’t see the point. How does that please God? What does he care how big your church is? When we say “the church,” we’re not referring to one building. We’re referring to over a billion people, wherever they may be. It doesn’t matter if A church is big, as long as THE church is big.

I can understand wanting to reach as many people as possible, if you have a good message, but what if you’re corrupting the message to reach more people? That’s stupid. You’re defeating your fundamental purpose. You’re like a woman who uses sex as a lure to get a loving, supportive, faithful husband. You’re using catfish bait, but you expect to catch a marlin. That’s nutty.

Here’s the bottom line: the size of a church proves nothing. If you run a big church, you need to realize you may be a much worse pastor than the guy down the street, so think twice before you tell someone else how to make it. You may be leading him straight to hell. TV cameras don’t make you a great man of God. You may be a total zero, headed for a major fall.

How many megachurch TV pastors have we seen, who turned out to be utter failures as Christians? That proves my case. Unfortunately, we can’t see the great pastors who have unknown churches. But they’re out there.

When the Christian church really got started, there were 120 people involved. This was after Jesus had worked for at least three years. That was the net, for the greatest pastor of all time.

It wasn’t a megasynagogue or a megashul. You could put the whole core of the church in two buses. But the Bible says they were all “in one accord.” That doesn’t mean they were muzzled, or that they mindlessly agreed with every mistake their leaders made; it means they were serious. The Holy Spirit rewarded them by blowing into the room and filling them with supernatural tongues. They went out and conquered the world for Christ. Meanwhile, the big religious organization of the day, which was Judaism, went on to stagnate for two thousand years.

Jesus only had 120 people to work with. Would anyone say God didn’t approve of his ministry? Would anyone say that it would have been bigger, if he had been doing things right? Actually, some of the guys on TBN might.

Last year, I was in DC for the National Day of Prayer. Mike and I visited a great Assemblies of God Church. There was no light show when the band played. The music wasn’t deafening. There was no rap. There were no TV cameras. The service was organized, but they were flexible enough to let the Holy Spirit interrupt. While the pastor’s wife was talking, she changed course and started talking about a different topic the Holy Spirit had put on her mind, and it was extraordinary, because what she said was tailored to Mike’s specific need.

The church wasn’t huge. I would guess it held a thousand people when packed. But it was clean and nicely decorated, and the people looked good. It seemed like a very healthy church. The Holy Spirit definitely moved while we were there.

I wish I knew of a church like that near me. I’ll be honest. I love the people at my church, but we are working so hard to attract people, and at putting on a slick show, the place seems to be getting somewhat sterile. We have lasers and smoke machines, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a spontaneous Holy Spirit move on the stage. I don’t think there’s room for it in the schedule. And sometimes we use music by people like Eminem, who wrote about raping his mother. That can’t be good for the kids. I can’t see Jesus coming back and snapping his fingers to an Eminem number while they introduce him.

I don’t recognize crappy rap music when I hear it, but many people in the church do, and they have come to me and commented negatively on it. It has offended people. I was oblivious, because fortunately, I have great taste in music. If they played Lionel Hampton, I’d notice.

Churches imitate the secular world in order to attact members. But that which you imitate, you become. These days, mainstream churches deny the virgin birth, the second coming, the existence of sin and hell, and even the deity of Jesus. They got that way by trying to attract members! Spirit-filled churches are headed the same way. Whether they admit it or not, it proves they don’t trust God to attract crowds. We think we’re better than the mainstream churches, but we are no different. We just found a different way to fail.

What would happen if the church closest to you started experiencing miracles? What would happen if a prophet arose there, and that prophet started saying things only God could know? What would happen if the people who attended the church started changing dramatically, due to the power of the Holy Spirit? What if people started feeling God’s addictive presence powerfully? Wouldn’t crowds show up? Am I crazy? Isn’t this what the world is thirsting for?

You can’t get those things by using the world’s tricks. God isn’t going to show up because you print snazzy flyers and do phone marketing, or because you talk about love all the time and never mention sin, or because you promise people God will give them money. Linus said the Great Pumpkin looked for the sincerest pumpkin patch when choosing the place for his manifestations. Surely God is as smart as the Great Pumpkin.

The prosperity gospel is a problem, because it’s exaggerated way beyond anything God ever promised, and it does not work. Churches promise people more money than they know what to do with, and they give to the church, and the money doesn’t show up. So instead of real miracles, which would raise attendance, some churches deliver promises of financial miracles that never occur. Then what happens when you try to get people to go to church? “My aunt gave away half of her retirement money, and we had to pay for her funeral. Why would I associate with those thieves?” “But God will change your life and fix your problems and heal your family!” “Right, like he fixed my aunt’s problems?”

My church has little prayer cells called GAP groups (“God Answers Prayer”). I belong to one. Every so often, I have to lead it. On those occasions, I refuse to prepare. I used to try to put things together, but then I remembered what Jesus told us about appearing in public. He said that if we were called before the authorities, the Holy Spirit would tell us what to say. He commanded us not to prepare. Was he a liar? Was he stupid? I don’t think so. Therefore I choose to take him seriously; that’s what walking by faith is all about. If he will help us talk to the cops, he will also help us talk to each other. So far, it has been working like you would not believe. I show up with nothing, and we end up with so much to talk about, we can’t finish it.

We also pray in the Spirit, as a group, using a timer to make sure we don’t skimp. And we put on gentle Christian music, because God inhabits the praises of his people, and because the Bible says the Holy Spirit is grieved by clamor. This stuff is working. It changes the atmosphere in the room, and it makes things happen.

We don’t see this kind of thing much in the main area of the church, except during prayer meetings. Maybe the services aren’t always as powerful as they should be. The GAP group makes up for it, to a great extent.

On the one hand, you don’t want to be so supernaturally kooky and obsessed with correction that you drive people away. On the other, you have to acknowledge that what people really want is God, not you or your big giant church. Paul said he hooked people with God’s power, not man’s fancy words.

Maybe we need smaller churches where people are in one accord. A good seed is better than a rotten plant that bears no fruit. The problem with seeker-friendliness is that you end up attracting people who aren’t seekers, and in order to keep them, you have to put their whiny demands above God’s plan. Suddenly you don’t say much about sin or hell. You talk all the time about love, as if God were Oprah. You decide “Thou shalt not judge” is a commandment, even when people are dying for lack of correction. Sin brings curses on people; a pastor has to tell his flock about it. Otherwise, he can’t say he loves them.

It seems to me that if you have to resort to secular methods in order to succeed, your ministry didn’t come from God. It proves he doesn’t want you to make it, so you should quit and try to find out what he really wants you to do. Maybe you were supposed to be a dentist. Who knows? To find out God’s plan, you should start relying on his power. Hey, maybe he can do a better job than you.

Walking by faith works like this: God tells you to do certain things, and you trust him, and you do those things, counting on God to make them work. You don’t cheat. Moses didn’t go down to the shore of the Red Sea and try to push the water back with his foot while no one was looking, and when Elijah burned people alive with God’s fire, he didn’t bring lighter fluid, just in case. In fact, God punishes people who try to “help” him in ways that deny faith. He destroyed Saul’s kingdom because Saul tried to fill in for some priests who were late. He judged Moses for whacking a rock twice to make water pour out of it, instead of hitting it once, as ordered by God.

Either this stuff works, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, God is a liar or a fantasy, and we should all quit and go to a nice strip club and get drunk. If it does, let’s quit adding our worthless, hypocritical nonsense to God’s perfect way.

I’m getting wonderful results. If God ever starts letting me down, I’ll see you at the strip club. Don’t bet the rent on that.

More

Aaron popped up and corrected me. The big mistake Moses made at Meribah was not hitting the rock twice, but hitting it, period. That was what I originally intended to write, but I didn’t trust my memory, and when I Googled it, I got it wrong somehow. Moses was supposed to speak to the rock, not hit it.

The interesting thing is that this makes the citation even more appropriate. Look what Moses was called on to do. He had to walk by faith. Sure, he had to use his natural strength to walk up to a rock and talk to it, but he did not have to use natural means directly related to the goal. In other words, the things he was asked to do were easy things in the natural; he was not called on to work, in any meaningful sense. God didn’t say, “Start digging a well, and I’ll make sure it pays off.” The most important thing was to do precisely what he was told, even though it was not something that ordinarily solves irrigation problems. The intended result was a purely supernatural event: a rock opening up and giving water. It wasn’t an ordinary spring which God simply chose to make productive.

Now, what would have happened, had God given the same order to one of our modern, carnal prosperity preachers? First, he would have begged a local businessman to lend him a bulldozer. Then he would have made his drama team find him a big hardhat. He would have had his band prepare some dramatic music. He would have sent out twenty thousand flyers, inviting people to see him BRING FORTH WATER FROM THE BARREN ROCK! And he would have called the local TV stations. He would have jumped on the bulldozer, made a speech about how your financial problems were “like this ROCK,” and shoved the rock out of the way while the band played behind him.

If water had come out, people would have said, “That idiot broke a spring open, and he’s trying to tell us God did it so we’ll give him money. He probably wiped out a water main.”

This is why you don’t do things for God. At least, you don’t force his promises to come true. God can’t get his glory if you bust your rear end and stay up nights working to make things happen. Any idiot can get things through hard work. Only a man of God can get things by walking by faith.

Think about Jesus. Is there even one example of him giving people medicine? No, but he healed a whole lot of people. Think about Elisha, who purified a well by throwing salt in it. Think about Naaman, who got healed of leprosy by going swimming. How about Joshua, who destroyed the walls of Jericho by walking around them in a circle?

Either it’s about God’s power, or it’s not. If your walk with God is about hard work and your wonderful talents and gifts and social connections, you might as well be a Buddhist.

Blogs Deader Than Bin Laden

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Introducing a Fantastic New Blogger: Mr. N.Y. Times

Here’s an interesting fact. Real blogs have been driven out of Google News results.

I just Googled the bin Laden story, bringing up 100 “blog” results. My blog used to appear in these searches, as did the blogs of other people I knew. Guess what? Things have changed. In the current results, the closest things to blogs are Newsbusters and The American Thinker. I don’t even see Instapundit in there!

It’s so funny, being this right. Years ago, I complained that big businesses were going to take over blogging and drive the little guys out. Now look! ABC and NPR and The New York Times appear in “blog” searches, but we don’t! We are HISTORY! KAPUT! OVER!

I didn’t realize it had gotten this bad. There is really nothing left now.

It’s the craziest thing. For about seven years, a loophole opened up, and ordinary people were able to get their feet into it and hold it open and talk to the world. Then it snapped shut! What’s left? Is Youtube still doable? I don’t even know.

I underestimated the ruthlessness and selfishness of the big time press, which is saying a lot, given how much I talked about these things. I knew they resented us, and that they would try to kill us, but I didn’t know they would proactively push us out. They have to be using search engine experts and so on in order to do this, unless Google is doing it for them. This kind of thing doesn’t just happen. It has to be deliberate and premeditated.

I don’t know what to say, except for, “Thanks for all the fish!”

It doesn’t matter what I say. No one will read it!

Mahdi Waters

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

He Sleeps With the Fishes

Osama (I keep typing “Obama” by mistake) is dead. Hooray, hooray. It’s good news. No doubt about it. But here’s my question: what has he done to us lately?

As I understand it, under President Bush, America and her allies neutered Obama…I mean “Osama”…years ago. Al Qaeda has been on the run for quite some time, and they don’t get a lot done. So I’m not all that excited about Osama’s death. He wasn’t running the show.

There are some good things about it. It shows that there is a price to pay for killing US civilians. We didn’t quit. It shows that even a dainty, pampered, self-adoring amateur like Obama will support this kind of action. I’m also glad they dumped Osama’s body in the ocean, because now there is no hope of building a mosque over it. It will probably lead to Osama Elvis sightings, but that’s better than having them put him in a nitrogen-filled glass case at the Ground Zero Mosque.

Still, Osama was not our biggest problem. Right now, the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to assemble a coalition of Islamist nations, and they’re probably going to succeed. And we’re helping them. Our tireless terrorist-busting President is pulling yet another Carter tribute. Carter gave Iran to the thugs, and Obama is handing them a big chunk of the rest of the Muslim world. It’s funny how our two least Jew-friendly Presidents of the last twenty-five years have both ended up handing giant tracts of real estate to Israel’s sworn enemies.

Bush made the mistake of supporting land for peace, and so did Clinton, but they were nothing like Carter or Obama. There is no longer much room to doubt that Carter is an anti-Semite, and Obama has been extremely bold in changing our policy toward Israel. He has made it clear that he thinks we have been too good to Israel, and he has established a pattern of humiliating the Israeli Prime Minister. Say what you want about Bush and Clinton. Neither of them would have criticized the US for favoring Israel to the point where more “even-handedness” was needed. Obama did that.

The Muslim Brotherhood concerns me. It seems that their aims are the same as Al Qaeda’s, but they are much more effective, and they are using common sense. It’s much smarter to take over a Muslim nation and use it than to slaughter American civilians and invite a crushing response.

In the past, the US and Israel have generally benefited when Muslims didn’t get along. When they fought among themselves, they didn’t have much energy to fight us. Now we may be looking at a multi-nation alliance that is cohesive enough to deal us severe blows, possibly of a biological or nuclear nature.

Perry Stone thinks the Antichrist will be a Muslim. He believes the Antichrist will be the Twelfth Imam, AKA the Mahdi. Many Muslims hoped Osama would turn out to be the Mahdi. The Bible also tells us the Antichrist will rule ten nations, or at least that’s how people interpret it. Right now, the Muslim brotherhood is putting nations together. Are they building the Antichrist’s confederacy?

God and Satan have a way of rotating their employees. Elijah arose, and then his anointing–his supernatural “commission”–fell on Elisha. I suspect that Satan got everything he wanted out of Osama, so he gave him up to die and go on to get what he deserves. Now someone else is on the rise, and we don’t know who it is. Osama was Madonna; the new person will be Lady Gaga. Maybe.

God is going to severely squash the nations that divide Israel, and the United States is currently one of those nations. We need to get Obama out of the White House and replace him with someone who will support God’s nation. We need to quit voting for legislators who don’t believe in prophecy. America needs to repent. People need to turn back to God, start walking by faith, quit killing their unborn children, stop glorifying themselves, and get into the flow of God’s blessings.

I think people who walk by faith will come through the upcoming economic and political upheavals unscathed. In the Revelation, Jesus told the destroyers not to touch the oil or the wine. Oil represents the anointing and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Believers who are full of the Spirit are like vessels filled with new wine (this is what the miracle at the wedding of Cana means). Maybe Jesus was telling the destroyers to shake the world but pass by his faithful, as the destroyer passed over the homes of the Hebrews in Egypt. I think we’ll be fine, and people will hate us for it. But the rest of the US, well, that depends on how we treat the Jews, the poor, the unborn, and so on. And socialism is not charity, so voting for liberals is not the way to be good to the poor.

Wow, read Psalm 105 and see how it lines up with our current situation. It’s all about God’s people, being enriched and delivered during hard times, and it’s about the plagues that hit Egypt but missed the Jews. I found it accidentally by Googling the bit about the oil and the wine, and it says something very similar: “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

It turns out Revelation 6:6 is the relevant verse. I’m not enough of a prophecy scholar to tell you whether it has to do with the Tribulation or the current shaking, but I think the principle is eternal. God’s people are often delivered from the mess around them. “A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand and thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” Noah, Joseph, Jesus at the cliff in Nazareth, Lot and his family…even Peter, standing on the Sea of Galilee.

I know I sound like a kook, but there is so much I’m not telling people, they really can’t judge. Last night one of the young people from my church called me about bin Laden, and we started talking about evidence that God is real and that Jesus is the Messiah, and even I was amazed at the words that came out of me. God has show me a ton of stuff. He’s up there, believe me. More importantly, he’s down here.

There are worse things than sounding like a kook. I probably have forty years left, if I get to live my entire span. That time is going to pass in a flash. I still remember watching new episodes of Batman and Mission Impossible. I don’t perceive the passed time as very great, but I know these things happened over 40 years ago. In what will seem like a minute, in the same way, I’ll be looking back at today. I’m going to die. It’s as good as done. Why should I sweat about what people think of me here? They’re as good as dead, too. None of this is permanent. And when it’s over, we’ll all know who was right.

Amped

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Actual Noise, as Contrasted With Aspirations and Theory

I got the Firefly amp and speaker cabinet working. I thought the amp was too dark, so I dug up a 200pF capacitor and stuck it in the magic “bright” holes in the PCB. I think it made a big difference. Now the amp sounds a lot better.

Here I am, continuing to work on “I Know a Little,” with the mighty Chinese Epiphone Riviera P93 with Lollar pickups. I’m using a Way Huge Pork Loin pedal. I’m at 80% of the album speed. I can play it faster, and the mistakes don’t get much worse, but I like it better at this speed.

05 01 11 i know a little intro epiphone riviera firefly amp pork loin

It craps out when the boost is too high. Probably something loose in there.

I recorded this on a Tascam GT-R1, which is a very small recorder with a cheap built-in mike. Take it for what it is.