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Archive for November, 2011

You Can Call me Ray…

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Why Couldn’t it Have Been “Melvin”?

Today I’m reading up on Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri. He was a student of the top rabbi in Baghdad, and he moved to Israel as a young man. He died in 2005, at the age of a hundred and something.

Rabbi Kaduri did something that caused a lot of controversy. In the months before he died he talked about the Messiah a lot, and he had visions. He said the Messiah had come to him in a vision, and that the Messiah had identified himself. The Rabbi provided the Messiah’s name in a note, and he gave orders that it was not to be read until a year after his death.

After a year, the note was opened, and it contained a Hebrew message indicating that the name was “Yehoshuah,” which is the same name as “Joshua,” “Yeshua,” or…”Jesus.”

He also predicted that the Messiah would appear to Israel after Ariel Sharon died. Sharon has been in a coma since 2006. He is now 83 years old.

You can imagine the mess this has caused. It’s like serving pork at a bris. Observant Jews are highly disturbed that a respected rabbi has said that the Messiah has the same name as the Christian God. Some have asked if the note proved the Rabbi was a Christian, and others have expressed distress at the prospect of Christians celebrating the news. The rabbi’s son has insisted that the note is a forgery. He says the handwriting is not right, and that the rabbi was not capable of writing when the note was produced.

Here’s some more stuff Rabbi Kaduri wrote, presumably translated into English. I’ve looked at Word documents from his website, and so far, they’ve all been in Hebrew:

It is hard for many good people in society to understand the person of the Messiah. The leadership and order of a Messiah of flesh and blood is hard to accept for many in the nation.

As leader, the Messiah will not hold any office, but will be among the people and use the media to communicate. His reign will be pure and without personal or political desire. During his dominion, only righteousness and truth will reign.

Will all believe in the Messiah right away? No, in the beginning some of us will believe in him and some not. It will be easier for non-religious people to follow the Messiah than for Orthodox people.

The revelation of the Messiah will be fulfilled in two stages: First, he will actively confirm his position as Messiah without knowing himself that he is the Messiah.

Then he will reveal himself to some Jews, not necessarily to wise Torah scholars. It can be even simple people. Only then he will reveal himself to the whole nation. The people will wonder and say: What, that s the Messiah? Many have known his name but have not believed that he is the Messiah.

The funny part of this is the way it conforms to Christian expectations. The learned will reject the Messiah. “Many have known his name but have not believed.”

Do I buy it? Not really. I can’t dismiss it, but this guy has been wrong before. He said Sharon would be the last Prime Minister of Israel, and that didn’t pan out. He also said the soul of the Messiah had already become attached to a person in Israel. Jesus said he would return in the clouds, and that the whole world would see it. That doesn’t sound like a new incarnation to me. Aside from that, we are told that we only die once, so Christians don’t believe in reincarnation. We believe there is a spiritual anointing that can move from one person to another, as we see in the story of Elijah and Elisha, but that’s not reincarnation.

Maybe he’s right about some things and wrong about others.

I don’t know what Jews say about the rabbi’s credibility. They’re pretty gung-ho on the Talmud’s street cred, and they seem to have a lot of faith in men like Kaduri and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

One thing is for sure: this will have Jewish scholars chasing their tails until the Messiah comes, and probably longer than that.

Round Two?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

One, Two…FIVE!

Here’s something weird.

My church had a men’s conference. They called it “Fight Club.” I thought that was odd, but hey…men’s conference. We were getting what many of us had prayed for. What they called it wasn’t that important.

We had five amateur boxing matches the first night. A young friend of mine fought, and he lost. His name is Jeff. He’s hoping to become a professional boxer. I’ve told him it’s not going to do his brain any good, but he seems determined.

After the fight, I told him he needed to keep his left arm and shoulder up, because he was getting tagged at will. I told him about my experiences in the Eighties, when I trained at Virrick Gym in Coconut Grove. I was writing an article for the Sunday magazine of The Miami Herald; I wasn’t really trying to become a boxer. I was going to fight in the Golden Gloves and then retire immediately, but I got injured and had to quit.

I told Jeff I had trained under the same man who trained Jose Ribalta. For people who don’t remember, Ribalta is a Cuban heavyweight from Miami. He fought Tyson. After ten rounds, he lost by a TKO. I told my friend he needed a real trainer.

Jose used to kid me all the time. He told me I would know I had trained enough when I couldn’t count to three. He said that when I became champion, I’d be the PEOPLE’S champion.

Yesterday, I got these texts (combined here) from my friend: “So I’m running and this former Boxer, now trainer, stops traffic in order to Give me his Card and invite me to Train with him. I dare you to say God aint Good! Does the name Jose Ribalta ring a Bell?”

I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t even known whether Jose was alive.

What does it mean? It’s like one of those testimonies you hear on TBN, except I know it’s true.

Maybe we can get Jose to come to church. That would be good.

It’s wild, how God takes all the seemingly loose ends in your life and ties them together.

Also, I got an interesting comment from Baldilocks. I wrote about the way Satan parodies God’s ways. I told about my visit to the National Holocaust Memorial. I said the model of Auschwitz showed me that the death camps were parodies of the temple. Instead of animals, people–most importantly, Jews–were processed, slaughtered, and burned. Very much like the burnt offerings in ancient Jerusalem. It was my opinion that the Holy Spirit had shown me this.

Here’s her comment.

One more thing: I was watching Sid Roth’s show earlier this year and he had a lady on who saw visions. She said she had a vision of the Holocaust and of the bodies burning. She said she could smell it and that she heard Satan say to God, “*there’s* your sweet savor.”

How about that?

You have to pray in tongues, and you have to keep your mind stayed on God. The more you do, the more amazing “coincidences” you will see in your life.

Turken, Churkey, Turchicken…Whatever

Friday, November 25th, 2011

The Ultimate Lunchmeat

I’m so glad I made a boneless turkey stuffed with a boneless chicken this year. I just made a sandwich from it, and the work is still paying off. The turkey slices like a loaf of bologna, super easy. The meat is tender and juicy; much better than a roasted turkey, which gets dry when you put it in the fridge. The stuffing is still in there, and it comes out with every slice. It fills the sandwich with flavor.

I don’t know why it’s so tender and juicy. I suppose gravity draws the juice down out of the breast of a leftover turkey that still has bones in it, but this thing was superior even when it was hot.

MAN, this was a good idea. Everyone should do it this way.

I highly recommend the Forschner bird’s beak paring knife I used. I paid five bucks. It’s much better than an expensive Japanese job, it takes a new edge in five seconds, and nobody cares if you break it. I also used a cut-resistant glove on my left hand. Wonderful.

Miami Man Eyed in “Little People” Disappearances

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Loaf of Joy

I feel like I swallowed a cannonball.

the turducken came out great. It turns out the “correct” term for a turducken with no duck is “turken.” Whatever.

I delegated some of the shopping this year, so I ended up with two birds that were roughly 13 and 7 pounds, if memory serves. Anyway, the chicken was on the large side for this application. For this reason, I was not able to cram all the andouille stuffing into the turkey, and I had to roast half of it separately. Made no difference, but it shows you have to put thought into it.

I used lump crabmeat in the chicken stuffing. I figured it was about the same as lump meat, in smaller pieces. I don’t know a whole lot about crab meat. The only crabs I pay any attention to are stone crabs, and they all look and taste the same. Now that I think about it, I suspect that lump crabmeat is whiter and tastier. If so, it would be a better choice.

Sewing this thing together was a challenge. They always tear up the lower opening when they slaughter turkeys, so you have to piece it back together. Then I had problems because the skin barely went around the chicken and stuff. It worked out okay, however. I think the key is to sew a bird up halfway and then stuff it.

I made sure I stuffed the legs and wings this time. That’s one of the great things about boned turkeys. More places for stuffing.

I cut the wing ends off, and I boned the whole bird. I know that’s against the rules, but it makes for a better feed.

I ended up with an object resembling a dwarf. It’s not photogenic. It looked better than the photo.

It was extremely tender. I was amazed. And the juice poured out of it. Too much, maybe.

I roasted it, covered, at 275. After about five hours, I realized I was going to be dining at midnight, so I cranked it up to 350. I took the foil off in the last hour. It browned up nicely. I pulled it when the internal temperature hit 165.

These things take a thousand years to cook. I put mine in the oven at 10:15, and I ate at 5 p.m. I was too lazy to smoke it. That can take half a day.

Here’s what I take away from this. Don’t cook turducken. Seriously. Instead, make deboned turkeys stuffed with really good dressing. The chicken doesn’t hurt anything, but it’s not as big an asset as you would think, and it runs up the cooking time. Ducks are greasy and gamey, so they don’t improve things.

For Christmas, I’m thinking I’ll do a boneless turkey with andouille sausage. I’ll bet a goose would be better. I’ve never had goose. I just have a hunch. There has to be a reason why buying a goose is more expensive than adopting a child.

If you insist on using more than one bird, make the second one very small. No more than one-third the weight of the outer bird. I should have looked for one under 5 pounds.

I’m pretty sure I ate some dental floss. I didn’t detect any, but I used about twenty feet sewing up the bird, and I didn’t see any left over when I ate.

“We’re Going to Need an Ambulance With Dual Axles…”

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Pleasure’s Slave

I must have been nuts when I decided to make a turducken.

I’m cooking for two people. TWO. My father and me. That’s it. I should have thrown a turkey loaf in the microwave and been done with it. But I’m making two pies, a turducken, beans, cranberry relish, cranberry sauce, oyster dressing. cornbread dressing with andouille, bread dressing with crabmeat, mashed potatoes, and yams. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, try doing it yourself.

I had to make three pones of cornbread, which made it necessary to nuke a whole lot of bacon. That made Marv happy. He and Maynard helped dispose of the excess meat.

I deboned two birds for my abridged turducken. That was fun. Each one took at least half an hour. I still haven’t put them together. I have to get up, turn the bread and cornbread into stuffing, and then sew the whole mess up. I hope I have it roasted by ten p.m.

My dad has to have the stuff his mother made, so I am stuck with the extra dish of oyster dressing. That stuff reeks like you would not believe. He swears it’s wonderful. I wouldn’t touch it with my shoe.

He also insists on cranberry sauce, which is totally inferior to relish. I don’t have a relish recipe. I grind up cranberries, an orange, and pecans. I add Grand Marnier, sugar, and raspberry or cherry gelatin. BAM. I’m done. It’s always excellent. It’s hard to screw up fruit and Jell-O.

I haven’t even looked at the tubers yet. I plan to cheat and use the microwave. I don’t think it really matters.

A few years back, I ran out of dry ginger, so I used sushi ginger in a pumpkin pie. I thought it was great, so I do it every year now. But this year I grabbed the wrong Carnation can in the store, so I found I had to come up with a substitute for evaporated milk. Either that or fight a “2012”-style frenzy at the store. I mixed condensed milk, cream, and half and half. Pretty close. Who cares? Pumpkin pie is never going to be exciting.

I stuck Jack Daniel’s in the pecan pie again. I can’t figure out how such a disgusting beverage turned out to be such a magnificent cooking ingredient, but that’s how it is.

I’m wondering if the Karo pies I’ve always eaten are a substitute for something better. Corn syrup is the worst form of sugar imaginable, so you would think it came into use as a replacement for something more expensive. How about sorghum? I’ll bet that would be fantastic. I’ll have to try it some day.

Have a great Thanksgiving. This might be the last one before the Obama Depression, so live it up. If you’re not in line with God’s blessings, this would be a great time to get your game face on and start living in power.

Where is Les Nessman?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Back up the Truck

I’ll tell you what. If you walk by faith, and you pay attention to what happens around you, you will see God’s confirmation all the time.

I wrote about the food drive at my church. It wasn’t going well. The congregation got lectured for it, and we were urged to fix the problem. I did what I always do. I asked the Holy Spirit if I should give. The answer was “no,” so I drove my happy behind home and didn’t stop at a grocery store.

Here’s what a church member posted on Facebook today:

It really breaks my heart when people who got it, takes from the poor! Yesterday I saw an individual at church getting a turkey. Come to find out him and his wife have at least 7 turkeys at his house already. My God you don’t need it why be greedy and take from the ones who really needs a turkey? Stop acting like you ain’t got it, where infact you have more than 90% of the world that is homeless or have nothing! Where is that persons heart and compassion?

The church gave away a giant pile of turkeys. Hundreds. I didn’t know about it until yesterday. I’m sure they mentioned it in the announcements, but I’m usually working when those things air, and I have no attention span anyway. Apparently, there was no accountability. You want a turkey? You got it. So some turkeys went to the poor, and some went to God knows who. Turkey collectors, I guess.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein makes a good living running a huge charity, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. They pass out hundreds of millions of dollars per year. They don’t whine. They don’t air video of poor Jews and ask you how you can live with yourself if you don’t give. They just point out the needs and remind us that our gifts please God and make us part of prophecy. They put out an annual report. I know where the money goes. I know what the Rabbi earns. SOLD. That’s how you do it.

Over the River and Through the Mangroves

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Food Orgy Preparation Begins

Thanksgiving is almost here.

I’m trying to rein myself in. I tend to make too much food. It will be me and my dad again. Maybe my sister.

The logical thing to do is to fix a small turkey. Unfortunately, I have the turducken bug. I was making a list today, and I started out with one bird on it, and then a second one sort of jumped onto the list without warning.

If I can’t make myself take it off, I’m going to end up with a two-bird entree. We can’t eat three, and I’m not crazy enough to bone three birds, so I’m thinking a 10-12 pound turkey and a fryer inside it. I’ll put cornbread dressing in the turkey, and I’ll put white bread dressing with crabmeat (sauteed in Marsala) in the chicken.

One great thing about turducken is that it has no bones, apart from ornamental ones you may leave in the outermost bird.I should probably remove those, too, though. I like a nice bird loaf you can slice. The good thing about a boneless bird is that you don’t end up with a dried-out bird skeleton in the fridge, with little bits of stubborn meat stuck on it.

I tell Marv his real name is Birdloaf.

Mike is telling me to use the Popeil Showtime Oven. It’s tempting. On the other hand, a turducken is not very rigid, and I’m not sure how well it would stand up to being turned on a rotisserie.

Someone was trying to sell me on turkey frying today. I’ve only had one fried turkey, and it was hard and rubbery. My roasted turkeys are moist and tender. I bake them at 175 degrees so they don’t turn into cement.

I’m thinking one pecan pie, one pumpkin pie, pole beans with some type of pork, yams, mashed potatoes, and conceivably some sourdough. Also cranberry sauce and cranberry relish. I’m not a fan of cranberry sauce, but my dad has to have the same exact thing he ate when he was a kid. We’ll also have to have a horrifying dish of oyster dressing. I don’t even like to be in the room with that stuff. I don’t know how to make it, so I cram oysters into regular dressing and bake it. No complaints yet.

This is going to be really good. It’s nice to have a gift for cooking, even if I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it.

Rain Comes in Two Flavors

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Ask Noah

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

This weekend, my church held its long-anticipated Fight Club men’s conference.

To understand what a big deal that is, you have to consider a few facts. First, most people who attend our church are female. Second, the women have a gigantic annual “Girlfriends” conference which lasts several days and draws maybe a thousand people. Third, the church is located in an area where men tend to do very badly compared to women. There are a lot of single mothers, and there are a lot of underachieving men.

Our last men’s conference was in 2009, during the summer. It has been very hard to get the church leadership interested in doing another one. They know there isn’t much money in it, and they have other irons in the fire. It may also be that they find small conferences embarrassing. I can’t say.

One of my friends, a former Muslim named Suliman, was affected very strongly by the last conference. He talked to the church leadership, and he started walking around with a sheet of paper, collecting names of men who were interested. In my prayer group, we talked about this a lot, and in our small 5 a.m. men’s meetings, we prayed for God to help us get another conference.

My friends and I are very conscious of the need to get men into relationships with God. My church is on the border of the ghetto, where the problems with irresponsible men are very obvious, but coming from a more affluent background, I can tell you the problem is universal. It’s just harder to spot in the suburbs. Wealthy men ignore their sons. They don’t go to church. They chase skirts. A lot of them are alcoholics.

The sons tend to pay the price for their fathers’ selfishness and ambition. They are often less successful. Many end up gay. They take drugs. They commit suicide. But as long as a man provides money, he is considered a model dad.

Women need male leadership. It’s unfashionable to say it, but it’s true. When women lead, they take us down the wrong roads. We end up with leftists in power. We exalt the environment above the people who live in it. We become more tolerant of perversion. We get into sick cults. We attack the positive aspects of masculinity, forgetting that men built the world, and that much of human progress would never have taken place, had women had control.

If you want to see what happens in a feminized society, look at a video of the Occupiers having a pow wow. It’s disgusting. Spindly, effeminate, manipulative men appeal to the crowds for approval, with scary lesbians at their sides. As a result many of our parks are now full of sewage, discarded needles, empty beer bottles, and kids with brand-new incurable venereal diseases, not to mention pregnancies.

The world got this way because men thought leadership was a reward for their amazing awesomeness, not a burden and a responsibility to be carried with honor and humility. It got this way because many women like to rebel and take charge. Aggressive women filled the leadership vacuum, and the enemy whispered ridiculous ideas into their ears. See Genesis 1 for more information.

Apart from a desire for a men’s conference, we wanted more of the Holy Spirit. My little group has been having a tongues revolution. We are getting increased faith, power, cleansing, and revelation. You would have to see it to believe it. But our church is very worldly, so the services don’t have the same fire or authenticity. There are probably people in our church who would strip naked, paint themselves blue, and run in circles in the parking lot if they thought it would increase attendance and tithing and get us on TBN. We hear a lot about self-help and positive thinking. We hear about the wonderful government money we get from time to time, as though it came from God. We hear crude language from the pulpit, and we see crude videos and hear secular music from depraved artists. It’s frustrating, because a few of us are really getting to know God, and it should be happening to everyone in the church.

I was excited when I heard there was a decision to have a conference. My friends and I got behind it. We pushed it on Facebook and in our daily routine. We talked about it. We prayed about it. We had very high hopes.

God did not let us down. I’ll just put it that way. We were getting very tired and discouraged, but when he came through, he came through in a big way.

We could not afford big names, with something like $6000 in ticket sales. We got a young evangelist named Tim Ross, and we got a Florida pastor named Jim Raley. Tim Ross has worked with T.D. Jakes. That doesn’t mean much to me, but it got him in the door. I’ve seen Jim Raley preach before, and it didn’t do a whole lot for me.

On the first night, we were told our pastor had a word, so Tim Ross would not get to teach. I am not going to say I was happy. Instead, he gave a testimony. He told about his life. He was the product of an ectopic pregnancy, and he was a breech birth, but somehow he made it. He said God told his mother about him before he was born, and that he told her to name him Timothy. He said he had fallen into promiscuity, pornography addiction, and pride. But one day, at the age of 19, he came forward in church, testified, gave his life to God, and started crying like a baby.

I’m not doing it justice. You had to be there. It was clear that the Holy Spirit was speaking through him. He gave men hope. He reminded us that God is real, and that he redeems. He can turn us around and change our circumstances. He made us believe it. The crowd was very moved. They were ready for more. This is the kind of thing they had been thirsting for.

Unfortunately, it was too short.

Our pastor delivered his sermon, which was very long. I believe it was about listening to the Holy Spirit when he tells you to do things at inconvenient moments. He told us about going to a hotel lobby early in the morning to work on a sermon. He ran into two toughs who were not believers, and he started talking to them. One of them wandered off, and the other rejected everything my pastor said. I have to say that I was not inspired.

There were problems with the lights on the stage. He was clearly angry about it, and he scolded the lighting people twice, which was not pleasant to hear. Toward the end, he was supposed to read a blog post his cousin had put up on the morning of his death, and it disappeared from his Ipad. A long, uncomfortable time passed while he tried to find it. People were fidgeting.

It was as though the Holy Spirit had given him a public reprimand. Tim Ross revived us and gave us hope and motivation, and then we got the long, strange sermon with the awkward interruption.

The end came as a relief. After the sermon, we had some boxing matches, but as usual, the church played dance music so loud no one could talk. The kids like it, you know. I went up to the guy running the sound panel, and I reminded him that the church was not a gay bar. Three hundred men did not need dance music. I got nowhere with that. People told me how frustrated they were with the noise. So we gave up and enjoyed the fights.

The next day, we started off with Tim Ross. He told us about Joseph. He reminded us that Joseph’s problem wasn’t that he was favored by God, or that he didn’t conceal it. His problem was that he was proud of it. He rubbed people’s noses in it. He had no compassion. He didn’t see that he was created to fill needs, not to receive admiration and praise.

Again, I don’t do it justice, but he preached the doors off the place. It was very obvious that he wasn’t speaking by his own power or intelligence. God was with him, and that won the men over. He gave them what they were really thirsty for.

When lunch came, I knew the men needed to talk to each other. This was our chance to help each other. We could discuss what we had heard and benefit from it. The church had tables set up outside, and there were hot dogs, and there was pizza. Then I saw the dreaded PA system being set up. I knew we were about to be subjected to obnoxious dance music at subway-wreck levels. I asked if there was any possibility they could keep it low enough so we could talk, and the request was dismissed instantly. I said it was too bad, because we wanted to talk about God. A young pastor said, “It’s a big church.” No respect whatsoever. So if we wanted to talk about God, we were supposed to forgo lunch, hide in a corner somewhere, and whisper to each other.

Later in the day, Jim Raley took the stage. His subject? The Holy Spirit. I could not believe it. We don’t get Holy Spirit manifestations on the stage at my church. We are discouraged from freaking people out. We talk about things that make people feel good, and we urge them to give money. So when he got up there and started telling us about the importance of the power of the Holy Spirit, I sat up and listened.

I have a friend named Alonzo. A year or two ago, he started noticing the things that were happening to me, and he listened when I said it was all the result of prayer in tongues. He decided to try it, and before long, he was teaching people and delivering powerful testimony of the things God was doing in his life. For months, we’ve been talking about the need to put the Holy Spirit first and get people praying in tongues. We’re minor figures at the church. Very few people pay any attention to us. If they put us on stage, no one would listen. But Pastor Raley was what we (sadly) call a “VIP.” Unlike us, he was not without honor, so people paid attention. And he said exactly the same things we wanted to say. We were sitting in the back row, cheering and clapping. We were amazed. God was coming through on those long months of prayer. He had remembered.

Pastor Raley got the men extremely wound up. They could sense the presence of God. They knew he was right. When he invited people to approach the stage, and he told people to lay hands on them and help them receive the baptism, the place went nuts. Every man in the church was up there. People were crying. One young man who trusted me and Alonzo, and who had been wanting the gift, got transformed beside the altar. A highly disturbed kid who had roamed through the church cursing earlier in the day–a kid we had to take aside and talk to after he called me a honky–ended up praying in tongues with both hands in the air. A problem kid we have been after for months was by his side.

You have to appreciate the contrast. One red-hot testimony. One disturbing and awkward sermon. A teaching that got people on their feet. And then a visit from God, which had people screaming and getting on their knees.

The church served chili outside at the tables. I prayed we would get relief from the screaming and loud drums. I saw a young man working on the sound system. The young pastor was nowhere around. I talked to the sound guy, and he agreed to turn the racket down. He understood completely.

About eight of us took a table by a speaker. We had an amazing conversation. I guess the oldest one of us was 70, and the youngest was 18. We shared our testimony. We talked about what worked for us. We encouraged each other. I can’t describe it. If only we had had the chance to do the same thing at lunch. But our church likes noise. During the time between services, it’s like a strip club at 4 a.m. Sometimes you have to go to the parking lot to talk.

The following morning, the regular crowd was in church. Tim Ross taught again. He taught about the difference between religion and a relationship.

I don’t think he had any idea that he was handling live wires. Had he been familiar with my church’s teaching, he would never have said what he did. Or maybe he would have. I don’t know him.

He talked about the men who tore tiles off a roof to lower a paralyzed man to Jesus to get healed. He talked about the need to get to God, in person.

He said religious people have to have things their own way. They have to have a certain type of music. They think that people who want to get delivered have to come forward in front of everyone and then fill out “decision cards.” He said Jesus could deliver them right where they were sitting.

The upsetting thing about this is that my church started using decision cards last year or the year before. And we have altar call after altar call. We tell people they have to come up and acknowledge God publicly. In other words, it was as if God had given Tim Ross a list of the things we were doing wrong–the obstacles we were putting in front of people–and had him read them out in front of the people who were making us do them.

I felt sorry for my pastor. He wants to do the right thing. He has busted his hump for God all his life. He could be getting rich selling cars somewhere instead of dealing with this. But it seemed like God was addressing him directly, before the church, in order to get him to change his methods.

Unfortunately, the pastor followed Tim Ross and raised Cain with the church for failing to fill the Thanksgiving food drive bin. He was clearly angry at us, and it brought us down to hear it. I felt like he was blaming us for a blessing that may have been blocked by his own mistakes. If a ministry does right, God blesses it with success. I had completely forgotten about the food drive, and I’m sure other people had forgotten, too. After hearing the scolding, I asked God what I should do, and the answer I got was, “nothing.” So I didn’t drive to the store to get food.

Then the next service came. And Pastor Raley got up.

The last service usually ends at 2:30 (2:35 when then speaker is in love with his own voice and forgets that people in the crowd have lives). Pastor Raley quit at 3:07. I was standing the whole time. I got stuck working a position where I was not allowed to sit. I could not have cared less. It was worth it. Nobody wanted to leave. It was “Holy Spirit this” and “Holy Spirit that.” The crowd was on fire. We just don’t get this stuff very often.

Then he prophesied over the pastor, which suggested to me that God is going to get him on track and do great things through him, which would be tremendous. And we got hollered at a little more about the food drive. You take the bad with the good.

I can write this stuff because no one I know down here reads my blog or has any interest in what I think. And if I got in trouble at my church, the penalty would be to go to a church closer to me, where they would ask very little of me.

I felt like we got rain this weekend, but it came in two flavors. When Tim Ross and Jim Raley spoke, I felt like we were withered plants getting a long-awaited drink. I literally felt like my thirst was being satisfied. But at other points, I felt like a plant being beaten down by a cloudburst. When rain is too harsh, it can break a plant down when it’s trying to grow. Some of the things I heard were discouraging, and they hurt. They seemed to reveal a lack of empathy, humility, and gratitude. When the Spirit is blocked, things don’t work, and people get frustrated. And frustration leads to misdirected anger and blame.

I am growing less concerned about finding a good church. I used to think more in terms of what the church could do for me, but more and more, I feel like what I do for others makes the disappointments worth tolerating. I used to see myself as someone who went to church to be taught and to get his needs met, but I have given up on those goals. I watch Perry Stone. I pray. I read the Bible. I talk to Spirit-filled friends. I barely notice the sermons in the sanctuary, unless it’s a guest or one of those times when God gets through the defensive line. I almost feel like a missionary. I guess that’s good enough.

While Alonzo and I were in the back row on Saturday, yelling and clapping, I told him, “This makes all the crap I’ve gone through here worth it.” And it was true. Satan fights Christians wherever they go, and that includes church. Maybe it’s a life-giving spa for some of us, but for others, I guess it will always be more like a courthouse. A place where you go to put your foot on your enemy’s neck.

We made huge progress this weekend. We didn’t have a huge crowd or a big profit, but lives were changed permanently, and the men who were changed and empowered will change and empower others. God proved he had heard us. He had given us this dream. He had moved us to pray about it. He wasn’t going to have us tread out the corn and then muzzle us.

We’re getting rewards. One of us got a revelation that he was called to be a pastor. While he and his wife were in church, she got a vision. She saw the angels, and Jesus, beckoning. She’s probably the one who would have shut him down if he had tried to become a pastor, so this was a great gift.

I feel different now when I pray in the Spirit. I feel like I’m drinking. That’s appropriate.

This stuff really works. If you let it. If you don’t choke the kingdom of God with your own worldly manure, it will grow. Bad doctrine and bad policies can hinder things, but the Holy Spirit’s flow is called water for a reason: it finds its way around and through obstacles. It will fill any container, regardless of the shape.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Fake Blessings From a Fake God

Last night I watched an interesting TV show. It was called “Engineering Evil.” It was about the nuts and bolts of the Final Solution. In order to exterminate millions of human beings, the Germans and Austrians had to plan, and they had to be efficient. The show gave details.

I watched because the Holocaust is part of the inevitable unfolding of prophecy, and because I know we can learn things about Satan by studying what the Nazis did.

Satan is an abortionist. He wants to get rid of us as early as possible. He likes it when we waste our seed. He likes contraception. He loves surgical abortion, miscarriages, and RU486. He likes killing children. He likes killing grown people before they accept Jesus.

The universe is like a garden, and to Satan, the godly are weeds. He wants to get rid of us as early as possible.

You can see this over and over in the Bible.

In Genesis, Cain murdered Abel and prevented a godly nation from arising from him.

In Exodus, Pharaoh killed the Hebrew firstborn, because Satan knew the Messiah would come from them.

In New Testament times, Herod murdered babies in Bethlehem, because he believed one of them would become a king.

When the church came into being, Satan arranged the crucifixion, hoping to cut off the message of the Kingdom of God. Then the religious establishment sent people like Paul out to arrest believers and have them killed.

When Christianity reached Rome, the Romans tortured Christians to death in order to prevent the church from growing.

The Holocaust was an effort to get rid of the Jews and prevent them from taking their place in prophesied events.

In the future, unbelievers will rise up to slaughter Christians and Jews again. You can see the sentiment sprouting already in the hate spewed in the Occupy Wall Street protests. We might as well look at the past to gain some insight.

Last year, I went to the National Day of Prayer, and I visited the National Holocaust Memorial. I wrote about it last May. I will try to connect that experience with the things I saw last night.

I felt the Holy Spirit moving powerfully when I visited DC. For example, when I entered the Memorial, I felt his grief washing over me. I know it wasn’t my grief, because I’m not that sensitive. I also learned things from him as I looked at the exhibits.

Three exhibits come to mind. One was a scale model of the death camp at Auschwitz. Another was a pile of desecrated Torah scrolls piled on the floor. The third was a Torah ark which had been vandalized with an axe.

The model and the scrolls showed me that Satan does not have original thoughts. Maybe creativity is reserved for God and human beings. I don’t know. But Satan apes God faithfully, twisting his methods into spiteful, vengeful reflections. If you want to learn about God, look at Satan’s tools and try to figure out what their holy counterparts are.

The model showed me that the death camps were Satan’s parodies of the Temple.

At the Temple, animals (purely flesh) were killed humanely, and their parts were put to use. They were burned, to symbolize the punitive burning the sin offerings deflected from human beings.

When I looked at the model, I saw something very similar. Human beings–more than flesh–entered at one end. Their belongings and even their gold teeth were harvested, like the meat of animals. They were stripped naked in front of each other, because Satan knows God disapproves of public nudity (God even required the priests to wear underclothes on Yom Kippur to hide their genitals from the stones of the Temple). Then they were killed, and after that, they were burned, like souls condemned to hell. Like sin offerings.

Jewish law requires burial. Why? I believe it’s because burial symbolizes the planting of a seed. Trash is burned and disappears. A good person is planted; he will eventually grow again.

How were they killed? Satan used their own breath. The Nazis surrounded them with gas, and they breathed it in. This is also a parody. We know that life entered man through breath. Life is spirit. The word “spirit” means “breath.” God breathed life into us, and in the camps, Satan breathed death into Jews.

The desecrated Torah scrolls taught me a lot. The Torah was written on the skins of kosher animals, like cattle and sheep. These animals symbolized God’s people. They symbolized flesh. The Torah was written on their skins, which are the outsides of the animals. The Torah was given on Pentecost (Shavuot), in the time of Moses. After the crucifixion, again on Pentecost, Christians received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which put God’s laws inside us. For 1700 years, we have failed to put this gift to use, and we have done stupid and disgraceful things, but it’s still true.

The Nazis removed skin from some of their victims and profaned it by inscribing tattoos on it. They also removed tattooed skin from Jews and used it to make novelty items. Why? What possible reason did they have? I believe the reason came from Satan, the compulsive satirist. God had men write his law on the skins of animals, so Satan had men create his own Torah, in the form of human skin. It was just another way of belittling God’s more favored creation.

Perhaps the Jewish law against tattooing has its roots in God’s objection to mocking the scrolls.

They also made lampshades and soap from Jews. That makes sense. The lamp of the Holy of Holies symbolizes the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and soap represents cleansing.

What about the ark? I believe its destruction symbolized the hatred the ungodly have for the godly. An ark is a box in which the Torah is stored. It symbolizes the human body. If you’re a godly person, God’s law is inside you. And what does the Hebrew inscription on the ark say? “Know before whom you stand.”

The ignorant Pole who desecrated the ark thought he was destroying a box, just as a persecutor attacking a believer might think he was harming a mere human being. But when you attack someone precious to God, whom do you really stand before? We are God’s flesh. When you touch us, you touch God himself, and he will not let it pass.

Last night I saw the great effort the Nazis made to catalog and organize their victims. They used files. They used books. They used vast numbers of aluminum plates with the vital information of slaves pressed into them.

That reminded me of something. Satan is weak. He can’t see the future. He can’t read minds. He can’t be everywhere at once. He doesn’t know everything. He is God’s plaything. God fools him all the time, as the second Psalm shows. In order to work against human beings on a large scale, Satan needs things like files and numbers. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent. He ties us together with the Holy Spirit, so we can act as one. Satan can’t pull those things off, so he has to use cheap parodies of the Holy Spirit.

Satan had to put tattoos on people’s arms in order to keep track of them. He had to have lists.

This limitation is still on him. Satan is working to raise a coordinated army of unbelievers, to persecute and kill us, and to prevent God’s people from introducing the lost to the Holy Spirit. Satan can’t do it with his own inferior abilities. What’s the answer? It’s the same as it was in Germany and Austria. It’s technology.

The other day I saw a photo of a new type of cell phone interface. It wasn’t a surprise. I had expected something like it. It was an interface projected onto a hand. Instead of holding a phone and tapping the screen, you use your own palm. This kind of thing is inevitable. Computer interfaces are bottlenecks. They are barriers to sales. Men will keep working to make them simpler, so it’s only a matter of time until they become part of our bodies.

Last night, I thought about the arm tattoos, and I thought about the new phone technology, and it confirmed something I’ve suspected. Portable electronics, like phones and tablets, may be the means used to apply the Mark of the Beast.

Think of the arguments in favor of implanted technology. It will end identity theft, or so they’ll tell us. It will do away with the need for money. It will improve security by making universal surveillance possible. It will allow us to exchange information at a rate we have never experienced. It will improve education. It will tie us together and allow us to act as one.

Every year, it gets harder to get through a week without using electronics to do business or communicate. Eventually, it will become impossible. We will be told that it’s selfish to stay off the grid. Worldly people will listen. They’ll love their new toys, just as we love Iphones and tablets today. They’ll think people who resist are crazy or evil.

That’s what I expect.

This will be Satan’s sad counterpart to the Holy Spirit. Believers will have unity, universe-spawning power, perfect knowledge, and supernatural virtue available instantaneously, all the time. Everyone else will have something handed down from Steve Jobs. It will be flashy, and it won’t require humility, faith, or patience to get it to work. But it will be inferior, sort of like the dark side of the force.

Maybe Apple itself will be involved. That would be fitting. A fruit to make us wise.

In Florida, the state is already persecuting people who resist technology. We have automatic toll collection now; overhead machines scan our cars as we go by. At first, the electronic lanes were optional, and tolls were increased for people who paid cash. Lately they’ve been phasing out toll booths, so you can either buy a device or stay off the highways. Now the state knows where you drive, and when. Either that, or you drive forty miles an hour and put up with traffic lights.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like this is the way we’re headed. Liberty will decrease as efficiency and convenience increase. Slavery will begin with helpful gadgets. At first, they’ll serve us. Then we’ll serve them.

My advice is to avoid becoming addicted to technology. Use it, but be ready to abandon it if you need to.

Sooner or later, though, there will come a time when the price for resistance will be life itself. If seductive technology is what Satan will use to hold us captive, we will eventually be forced to choose between the grid and the Kingdom of God. If you don’t know the Holy Spirit, you won’t have much motivation to resist. Gadgetry and convenience will look pretty good, if all the church has to offer is hard work and unanswered prayers. This is why I’m so disappointed in people like Rick Warren, who preach about effort and character instead of faith and love. There is only one way out of this mess, and Warren doesn’t know the route.

What’s That Glow Coming From the Guest Bedroom?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Make Way for a Surprise Guest

I continue to learn more about the Holy Spirit.

Last night I watched a video by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. They send these things out to people who are affiliated with the charity, and you can get them on the IFCJ website. Probably.

He used the word “shekhina.” Christians sometimes refer to this, pronouncing it “shuh KYE nuh.” They talk about “the shekinah glory of God.” Sorry for the mixed spellings. I’ve also seen “shechinah.”

I have always thought this was an impersonal thing. A sort of glow that has appeared to people in God’s presence. But it looks like I was wrong. I felt something telling me to get up and turn on the PC last night and Google it, and I learned a few things.

Shekhina refers to the presence of God, when he is perceptible to the mind and senses. So it’s not just a shiny light or something similar. It means God has shown up in a way that makes his presence undeniable. It used to hit the prophets and cause them to prophesy, and Moses’s encounter with the burning bush is believed to be an example.

Here is what I believe. I believe Jesus himself came to me on two occasions. Once I was in a car, and the other time, I was in bed trying to sleep. In the car, he sat next to me and reassured me. I felt love and peace and confidence about the future, radiating from his location like heat from a lamp. On the other occasion, he appeared as an invisible warm beam that played across my bed like a spotlight, and wherever it touched me, I felt the same sensation I felt in the car.

He didn’t speak or tell me he was Jesus, but I was sure it was him. I did not think it was the Holy Spirit.

As for the Holy Spirit, I perceive his presence every day. It’s not the same. It’s less intense, and I don’t always feel the emotional components of the his nature, the way I felt them when Jesus appeared. It’s somewhat more businesslike. I do feel peace and comfort, but it’s less aggressive.

Having read up on the shekhina, I believe the term applies to what I’ve been experiencing. It’s generally applied to the presence of the Holy Spirit, but I would guess that it applies to any manifestation of God’s presence.

That’s pretty exciting. I had always thought the shekhina was something that turned up on rare occasions, for major events. Parting the Red Sea, or maybe the Transfiguration. Evidently I was mistaken. It is something that can happen to you several times a week.

I know the Holy Spirit lives inside charismatics, but I have been taught that you shouldn’t expect to feel his presence all the time. It’s a strange idea. God is so powerful he can speak galaxies into existence, so it’s strange that he can be inside you and not keep you in a constant state of amazement and awe. It’s surprising that we can entertain it and not be consumed.

We are taught not to wait to feel his presence. We should have faith regardless of how we feel. I think that’s right, but on the other hand, it can give you the impression that you should not expect to feel anything, ever. That appears to be wrong. From my own experience, I would say that you should strive to feel God’s presence as much as you can. Surely he will help you when you can’t feel him near, but it also seems likely that the more strongly you can perceive him, the more his power will flow through you.

I’ve seen bumper stickers saying something like “Practice God’s Presence.” I have a feeling the people who wrote that don’t really know what God’s presence is. I would be willing to bet that they think concentrating hard on God will do the trick. That would be a carnal approach. Much better than nothing, but not the best way. I have found that copious prayer in tongues, on a daily basis, is the key. Over time, it gets everything aligned so the presence will appear, and the result is that God becomes perceptible more and more often.

Lately I’ve been feeling that love is a big part of the equation. God’s two big priorities are faith and love. Without faith, you are not going to get anything from God. Once faith is in place, you should use it to get God to fill you with the Holy Spirit’s love, for God and for other people. Once love is at work, your motivations will line up better with God’s, and that means you will get more power.

Love is a good thing to have.

We build walls around ourselves because outside of God’s path, love is dangerous. It will allow people to use you up and destroy you, and you can count on them to do it. That’s their nature. But God intended for us to love without fear. It helps us to do the things we should do. It takes stress and combativeness out of us. It helps us to quit squabbling over idiotic conflicts. It allows us to do good. Just about everyone has a deep-seated thirst to do good, and with love, there is some hope of satisfying that thirst. I believe that when the Holy Spirit transforms you, he makes it safe to love.

These are the things I believe God is telling me, and if they are true, then love has great power. That, in and of itself, makes it worth pursuing.

It’s a tremendous honor to be able to perceive God. It’s great to read about him and to pray to him, but how can anything compare to having him show up on the scene? If a President or a celebrity knocked on your door, you’d tell people about it for the rest of your life. God makes those people, from dirt. How much greater, then, is the honor when he comes to your house?

The Psalms tell us God will honor us if we set our love upon him. I think now I know what that means. There is no greater honor than having God come to see you.

The ancients understood this. When God or his angels showed up, they tried to prepare feasts for them, to show how honored they were.

Last night I read that many Jews think of the shekhinah as the feminine side of God. I would not say that. I have never felt any hint of femininity in God’s presence. I would say that when he shows up, you feel things that are commonly associated with femininity. You feel nurtured and comforted and safe. But it’s not the same as being held by a mother. So maybe femininity is one thing on earth and another thing in the supernatural realm, or maybe “feminine” is a term that applies to God in some ways but not in others.

I can only speak from experience. I haven’t read the Talmud, and even if I had, I would not trust it. I haven’t studied the old Christian scholars. I believe the Bible, and I believe what I have witnessed. I also believe what I have heard from other credible witnesses.

Human beings have a bad habit of turning unqualified people into authorities. You can see it in the wrong beliefs that have worked their way into Christianity. People pray to saints. They pray for the dead, who are beyond our reach. We have ended up with a lot of counterproductive traditions because we listened to people who did not have firsthand knowledge. So I think there are great advantages to my way of approaching God. Whatever I witness personally has to be true. I’m not going to make things up in order to deceive myself.

Abraham didn’t have teachers and books to tell him about God. When God wanted him to know things, he showed up and taught him. Like Moses, Abraham knew him personally, so it would not have worried him had his doctrine disagreed with something coming out of the Vatican or the Temple. I always say it’s better to know God than to know about God.

Abraham was called “the friend of God.” What do friends do? They visit each other.

The Bible uses the words “testimony” and “witness” a lot. That’s significant. In a court of law, a witness is not allowed to speak of things he did not witness personally. That’s the general rule. There are exceptions for certain types of hearsay, and for expert witnesses, but an ordinary witness can’t take the stand and say his next door neighbor saw Lee Harvey Oswald shoot John Kennedy. Ideally, knowledge of God should come from firsthand witnesses.

Our wrongheaded traditions are so strong, if Jesus showed up in the flesh, we would apply them to him and reject him. Christians would be trampling each other to be first to drive a nail into him.

I have good confidence in what I am writing. What I’m doing is working. I believe it comes from God, not from me. I would encourage other people to give it a shot. So far, the people who have listened to me have gotten big dividends from it. Pray in tongues. Ask for faith and love. Go from there. You will probably make progress a lot faster than I have.

Hold the Dung

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

I’m Trying to Cut Down

I’ll tell you what. I am tired of hearing about Rick Warren.

I belong to an Assemblies of God church. That means I’m supposed to believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, which increases as we pray in tongues. I’m not supposed to believe in self-help or life coaching. That stuff is nonsense. It’s the kind of thing Paul referred to as “dung.” It’s fine to work hard and try to get things done, but the central message of Christianity is that we have to humble ourselves, admit we can’t achieve on our own, and seek God’s help.

Last year someone in my church asked a group of us to read The Purpose-Driven Life, which is Warren’s big bestseller. I read a few chapters and then threw it out. In good conscience, I couldn’t give it away. I didn’t want anyone else to be harmed by it.

It was full of stuff about effort and character. The message was that we had to keep ourselves motivated, through carnal thoughts, in order to endure the extraordinarily difficult challenges of Christianity. That’s just wrong. It’s not helpful at all. It actually pushes us away from God’s truth.

When I say “carnal,” I don’t mean he was telling us to be full lust and greed and drunkenness. I mean he was telling us to rely on our little monkey brains, which are made of plain old meat. The word “carnal” refers to meat. Think of chili con carne. Without God, we, including our brains, are just meat machines. Anything we do without the help of the Spirit is meat-based, or “carnal.” So opening an orphanage can be carnal. Giving your last penny to a bum can be carnal. The fact that you do things out of a desire to please God does not mean those things are not carnal. Far from it.

Saul got shot down because of something he did to please God. He performed a sacrifice. The Spirit had made it clear that only the priests were allowed to do that. God was not interested in the good intentions residing in the meat between Saul’s ears. He removed him and his seed from the throne of Israel forever.

In 2 Samuel, God killed a man named Uzzah for doing something he thought was right. The Ark of the Covenant was on a cart, and it shifted, and Uzzah reached out to steady it. God killed him. BANG. Game over. No apologies. Why? Because the Ark was not supposed to be on a cart. The Spirit had given clear directions on the right way to move the Ark. Uzzah was trying to help, but he was doing it his own way, not God’s way. So God killed him.

God killed two priests for bringing strange fire to the altar. Fire was needed to perform the appointed rites, so these “helpful” priests got some fire and brought it. God killed them. They didn’t listen to the Spirit.

The stuff Rick Warren preaches is very carnal. He doesn’t know where the door to the kingdom of God is, and he is preventing other people from finding it. If self-help and effort were the answers, heaven would be reserved for people like classical musicians and Olympic athletes; only people with extraordinary self-discipline would make it. That’s just not the way it works. Paul himself asked the right question. If you have begun in the Spirit, will you finish in the flesh? Of course not. You’re not pleasing God by relying on yourself. It’s sin. It’s pride.

Rick Warren puts non-Christians in front of his church as teachers. That’s just wacky. Imagine Jesus doing that! But it’s the natural thing to do, when you think the flesh has all the answers.

Christians are not the strongest or most informed people, in the flesh. Think of Navy SEALS. Think of Orthodox rabbis. Scholars. Martial artists. Buddhist monks. Motivational experts. Behavioral psychologists. In the flesh, people like that are stronger than Christians. So what? In the flesh, the Assyrians were strong, but the Angel of the Lord killed 185,000 of them in a moment, and the relatively weak Hebrews, who obeyed God, got the victory. In the flesh, Gideon’s men were few and therefore weak, but God told Gideon to send most of them home, because he didn’t need man’s help to get the job done. In the flesh, 1.2 billion Muslims are stronger than the Jews, but they will always lose.

Zechariah 4:6 says it all. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.” If you don’t think the Holy Spirit will come through and give you real victory, here in the real world, when you need it and how you need it, you are not a good Christian. You are a man of little faith, and we know that God calls faith righteousness. Faith is what pleases him. If you have to look outside of God for help, relying on Oprah and life coaches and so on, it proves, conclusively and with no possibility of dispute, that you do not have faith in God.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you to take from man those things you should only take from God.

I’m not saying you should never learn anything from anyone other than God. That’s crazy. You can’t withdraw your kids from school because they teach the Pythagorean Theorem instead of Noah’s Law of Angles. You shouldn’t refuse to take worldly advice, when it isn’t related to morality or your relationship with God. But if you make it an idol, it will destroy you. If it gives you success, that success will be hollow and meaningless. It will eventually be taken from you. At judgment, it will not be counted toward your achievements. It may count against you.

My own church has been polluted by Rick Warren’s backward teaching. That distresses me, because it shows we are not experiencing God’s power. If we had the treasures God wants us to have, we would not be foraging in Rick Warren’s dumpster. And if we become convinced that Warren’s way is right, we will waste time in a blind rathole. Some of us will die while we’re still in there, looking for nonexistent success. And the real horror of it is that God’s way is easy as well as profitable. It’s easier to pray and listen and have faith than it is to get up every day and force yourself to be perfect. You could waste 20 years fooling with the Warren Gospel and get nowhere, but a few minutes of listening to the truth could put you on the right path forever.

Christians point to Rick Warren’s success. Swell, but does that mean he’s right, when his advice conflicts with scripture? Pharaoh was successful until he ran into Moses. Jim Bakker was successful. Jimmy Swaggart was successful. Real success means listening to the Holy Spirit and doing what he tells you to do, his way. If you give one person a doughnut at the request of the Holy Spirit, it means more than building a cathedral in the flesh.

We won’t know who is really successful until judgment. At that time, we’re going to see a lot of big-name preachers with very sad faces. They will learn that they actually hindered God with their jets and charity hospitals and crusades. In Jesus’s time, the Sadducees were the most successful people in Israel. They were the TBN personalities of their day. They disappeared after 70 A.D., because God disapproved of them. If you want to know what pleases God, you have to ask him. You can’t judge by looking at a bank statement.

God tells us how to get things like love, wisdom, guidance, and success. If you look to anyone other than God to get these things, you are making a mistake. This is why life coaches, motivational speakers, seminar leaders and other purveyors of worldly “wisdom” are so dangerous. When you come to rely on them, you fail to know and rely on God.

God is not a reptile. When a lizard hatches from an egg, it looks around and sees nobody. It’s on its own. It has to lift itself up by its own bootstraps and take care of itself. That’s what the Rick Warrens of the world are telling us to do. God made us mammals, and mammals care for their young. Jacob and Esau lived with their father until he died, absorbing his wisdom and love. God wants to feed us and watch over us. He does not want us to be self-reliant. It’s not possible. It’s an illusion. There is no such thing as a self-made man.

God has told us that love is his biggest priority. This is probably the reason why he wants us to reproduce. No one understands love as well as a parent. Real love will push self-interest out of your mind. This is probably why the Bible tells us perfect love casts out fear. When Jesus agreed to be crucified, where did he get the courage? Surely it came from love. His love for us was so strong, it pushed fear out of his mind. If God loves us, then surely he wants to give, and he wants us to take. If you insist on doing things on your own, you are thwarting God’s desire to give. You are making his love of no effect.

I tell people around me about faith and love. These are the keys to the kingdom. I hope God will do the church a big favor and raise people up to spread the message and kill the weeds of self-help and greed. For 1700 years, Christians have been trying to push the car, when we should have turned the key and driven off. I’m sorry to criticize a popular guy, but Rick Warren does not know what he’s talking about. I don’t care if he becomes a billionaire and builds pyramids for himself. He’s not it.

I Can’t Understand Why my Ho Left Me

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Ancient Lessons for Modern Morons

I got invited to a new kind of event this week. A Christian bachelor party.

I didn’t expect it. A friend has a friend who is getting married. He would like to develop some kind of connection between God and his marriage. My buddy had a hard time finding people to go, so he called me.

I thought it was a great idea.

I know how much damage a traditional bachelor’s party can do. A few years back, a female friend of mine got married, and the groom insisted on a bachelor party. The bride-to-be was pregnant, so she was not too stable, and she was understandably offended by the idea of her fiance prancing around drunk with naked women. He had to have his way, however.

She tried to spite him by having a bachelorette party with a male stripper, but I doubt she enjoyed it, and I don’t think the groom cared.

I was at the bachelor party. Two prostitutes who called themselves strippers showed up and removed every stitch they had on, and there were full-contact lapdances and so on. Somebody tried to buy me a dance, and I ended up having an argument with a very stubborn woman who was totally naked. She actually picked me up and tried to carry me to a chair. Later in the night, at a club, my resolution failed me, but that’s another story.

Naturally, every man who went to this thing let a few details slip, and before we knew it, the bride’s female friends had reported every word. They told her about the disgusting things we all did at the party, and she threw a fit that lasted for days.

The groom had to have his selfish party. The bride had to pick at the scab instead of moving on. Neither accepted any blame for what happened, although they were solely responsible. They blamed some of us and put us all on trial, as though we were somehow accountable for the success of their marriage. We all suffered because of the groom’s immaturity and the bride’s stubborn insistence on spying.

I suspect that I was eventually blamed for some leaks by other men, but in the long run, it shouldn’t have mattered, because we didn’t make the mess, and we were not the ones who would eventually pay the price. What was it to the rest of us if information got out? It wasn’t our problem. We went on with our lives. We weren’t sentenced to relive the night a thousand times with angry spouses. When you do things this stupid, you should man up and take the blame. You shouldn’t run away like a toddler who knocked over a vase. You shouldn’t try to put the burden of your future happiness on well-meaning friends who merely helped you with your own suicidal plan.

Hard feelings and even a silly and immature threat of violence ensued. Brilliant bits of wisdom such as “bros before hoes” were uttered in total seriousness, as though they came from the mouth of God. Friendships deteriorated. I have no idea how the marriage worked out, but it certainly started out in the hole.

I don’t know where Americans got the idea that an evening of fornication was a good way to start a holy relationship, but somehow it has become part of our culture. It’s like we’re betting Satan he can’t make us divorce.

Anyway, when I heard about tonight’s plan, I thought about the pathetic party I just described, and I realized it was a chance at redemption. If I can be part of a gang of fools who help screw up a marriage, why can’t I help a marriage start correctly?

Tonight I’ll be sitting in a restaurant with stable people who are making mature choices. I won’t be grappling with naked hookers. I won’t be paying topless strangers to grope me in the back room of a tawdry club. I won’t be so drunk I can barely see. We’ll be trying to help a man and woman build a stronghold that will last until they die and produce wonderful fruit. In the morning, when I wake up, I’ll know where I am. And in the days that follow, no one will be spying on me or threatening anyone with a baseball bat. No one will be wondering if he or she has herpes or if a prostitute is pregnant. No older men will be living in terror, wondering if their wives are about to find out what they’ve done. No man will be waiting by his mailbox, trying to intercept incriminating credit card bills or bank statements.

Instead of all that, we will be talking about the things God requires of married people. We will be discussing the power of prayer. We’ll talk about the obligations the couple will have toward their children. We’ll give advice to help them defeat the attacks that are sure to come. We’ll tell this young man things that will help him grow closer to his wife, and I guarantee you, no one will say, “Bros before hoes.”

Call me crazy. It seems to be the better way.

Love Train

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Maybe the O’Jays Were Prophets

Sometimes it’s hard to find the answers to questions, even when God has already provided them explicitly.

It’s important to know God’s top priorities. We’re supposed to do everything in his name, which means we’re supposed to do the things he would do if he were in our shoes, so we need to know what’s important to him.

We screw this up all the time. We talk about being good and so forth. We talk about fasting and prayer and giving. But God has given us a very straightforward statement of his fundamental concerns. Here it is, from the 22nd chapter of Matthew:

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

It all boils down to love, first between man and God, and then among men.

I think about this a lot, because I am aware that I don’t love God or man enough.

Many years ago, I felt God’s love firsthand. Every Christian who is in contact with the Holy Spirit will sometimes sense God’s love; that’s not what I mean. I mean God came to me, where I was, and while he was with me, I felt his love and peace and reassurance, radiating toward me like heat from a lamp. I physically felt it.

I have a certain amount of love for God and for people, in my own right. But when I walk by you in a store, you’re not going to turn around and say, “What WAS that?” That’s what you would do if God himself walked by. You would probably follow him so the feeling wouldn’t leave you.

I believe we are supposed to have that kind of love in us. Jesus’s commandment makes it clear, and there are many references to it in the Bible. But how do you get it? You can’t just decide to love. It’s certainly a good idea to try, but without God’s help, we are just monkeys with good intentions.

We are supposed to develop God’s virtue inside ourselves, but we can only do it through supernatural means. The Bible tells us that prayer in tongues builds God’s character in us, just as a father’s traits develop in a baby in the womb. Prayer in tongues brings us the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit make up God’s virtuous nature, or his “righteousness.” They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control.

The gifts of the Spirit make up God’s power, or what the KJV calls “his kingdom.” They are wisdom, supernaturally imparted knowledge, faith, the ability to heal, the ability to work miracles, prophecy, the ability to perceive spirits as we do natural objects, the ability to speak in unknown languages, and the ability to interpret unknown languages.

Faith appears in both lists, which shows how important it is to God.

If you look at the fruit of the Spirit, you can see that much of the list is related to love. Things like patience, kindness, and goodness are necessary, if you want to love others. And of course, love itself is mentioned expressly.

This suggests that real love is only possible through supernatural impartation. That makes sense to me. Have you ever tried to love God, as you love another human being? You can’t see him. You can’t hear him. You don’t know what he looks like. Can you really say you feel a deep, warm, emotional attachment to him, or that you have a heartfelt desire to do good things for him? It’s easy to feel obligated to him. But can you really love him, the way you might love your father or mother? Be honest, now. It’s not natural. You can be grateful to God. You can respect him. But to love him from the heart? I think it’s beyond most of us.

I thought about this, and I decided to admit I didn’t love God the way Jesus told us to. We’re supposed to be truthful with God and confess our iniquities to him. He knows them anyway. I did what he said to do, and I made a practice of asking him to help me love him as well as other human beings. I felt it was better than pretending everything was fine.

I did this partly because I already knew he could do it. I recall an occasion when I drove to church, and while I was in the truck on I-95, I felt God’s love welling up inside me. The whole night, I felt a heightened emotional warmth for other people, and I know it didn’t come from me. It was certainly better than trying. You can only hold a weight up for so long, and then you have to drop it. It’s much better when God removes it entirely.

Lately, the prayers have been paying off, and the results have been unanticipated.

Last weekend, I felt discouragement. I felt that I was not getting anywhere in life. I wondered if I was committing some fundamental error that was leading me down a blind rathole. What if I was wasting my time? What if I was headed for disaster? I don’t give a lot of thought to planning and calculating, because Jesus told us not to think about our future needs. I wondered if I had taken him too literally.

One night this week, I was lying in bed, and I started thinking about trains. Have you ever slept on a train? Provided it’s a nice train on a smooth track, it’s very peaceful. The sound of the wheels on the track is soothing, like a mother’s heartbeat. You don’t worry about what’s happening around you. You know you’re going to end up where you should. I thought about this, and I realized that walking by faith is like riding a train.

Many times, I have said that praying in tongues “puts your life on rails.” The Bible refers over and over to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which is enhanced when you pray in tongues. The 37th Psalm says God will order our steps. The 35th chapter of Isaiah says God will provide a highway in the desert, and that a man who walks on it, though he be a fool, will not err.

The Greek word for “faith” is “pistis.” It doesn’t seem to mean “belief,” the way we think of belief. It appears to have more to do with assurance or trust. To me, that sounds like the kind of trust you have when you’re sleeping in a railway car. It is the sense that you are on track, headed to the right destination, free of worry.

Now when I lie in bed, I feel that I am on course, with someone who cares about me steering me to my destination. So love and faith are connected, and so is freedom from fear.

The Bible tells us perfect (completed) love casts out fear. We toss this scripture around, not knowing what it really means. I believe it means two things: first, if you believe God loves you and can be trusted to take care of you, you will not fear for your future. Second, if God’s powerful, complete, supernaturally imparted love for others is in you, you will not be afraid to love others, no matter what has happened to you in the past.

I am starting to feel closer to God, and I sense that this will make it possible for me to love others better. This must have been what Jesus was talking about when he said that a person who doesn’t love others doesn’t love God. The Spirit makes it work both ways.

It’s an encouraging revelation. Anxiety and anger are heavy weights. Everyone wants to be relaxed and confident. Everyone wants to love instead of disapproving. If the Holy Spirit will enable us to reach these goals, think how different life will be. Think how different Christianity will be. We’ll still have a duty to point out and correct sin, and we won’t always be able to agree with others or give them what they want, but we’ll be able to feel love for them even as we reject their ways. Love will be in the forefront of our minds, not the background. That would be a good way to go through life.

It also means that prayer will be less selfish. The more your heart is filled with concern for others, the purer your prayers will be, and the more likely they will be to receive favorable answers.

All the things I suspected about tongues are turning out to be right. It’s paying off, over time. I’m growing like a plant. I can’t become perfect overnight, but I never stop improving. I think this proves my ideas came from God, not man.

It would be nice to be less connected to human squabbles. This is why I resist writing about politics. We get so exasperated by the barbaric behavior and attitudes of our adversaries that we lose sight of the obligation to love them. Conservative morals are superior to liberal morals. No doubt about it. But at their root, good morals come from the Holy Spirit, and they aren’t compatible with a loss of love.

I believe the message of supernatural love is extremely powerful. I think it’s one of the keys we’ve been missing. Spirit-filled Christians have been squawking for years about money, money, money, MONEY. We have forgotten the prime directives Jesus gave us. No wonder our leaders bring so much humiliation on us. They dedicate their lives to using God’s power to serve the flesh. No wonder they fall into scandal and crime.

I look forward to seeing where this leads. We need to get back into the flow of true, lasting power, and this is probably the fastest way.

Why Put it in Your Mouth if You Wouldn’t Touch it Without Gloves?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Sausage is Terrifying

I’m learning more about sausage.

Yesterday, I did something really stupid. I researched chorizos, to find out what was in them. Oh, man. If only I could turn back time.

Hog spit. That’s what’s in chorizos. Hog salivary glands and lymph nodes. It may be a while before I can eat chorizos again.

It’s a shame, because they’re really tasty. You can use them to spice up all sorts of dishes.

I realize animal parts DO things while they’re in the animal, so they may come into contact with gross stuff. I’m cool with sausage casings, for example, even though they’re part of the poo system. The poo doesn’t turn into real poo until it gets to the large intestine, so I figure casings made from the small intestine are okay. And I’ll eat the skin off a lechon, even though it’s not that clean when the pig arrives at the slaughterhouse. But hog spit…that’s hard to take. It’s like kidneys: I will not eat meat flavored by urine, no matter how good it tastes. You have to draw the line somewhere.

I won’t eat private parts if I can help it. It’s creepy and somehow intimate in a really inappropriate way. And the thought of eating brains is pretty awful.

As I read up on chorizos, I learned that the least revolting ones are Spanish. Maybe I’ll start looking for them. Palacios is a brand that came up a lot while I was Googling. I’m sure they sell them here. This is Miami, after all.

I might have to start making my own, but I would need a good source of fat. I cheat with lard, but I think chunks would be better.

Andouille is another idea. I like Aidell’s, but it would be nice to make my own and get some control over the flavor. The only other brand I’ve found here is grey and tastes like it has sand in it.

I don’t really understand why such disgusting meat goes into commercial sausage. I realize it’s the traditional way to get rid of things like penises, sinus meat, and pig breasts, but these days better cuts are not that expensive. You can sell the truly horrifying parts for pet food and still charge a reasonable price for sausage. Good pork runs two dollars a pound or less. I can spring for that, if it means eating fewer uteruses and bladders.

Chorizos have to be smoked. That will be a pain, I guess. But food is important.

Get yourself a grinder and a vacuum sealer. You won’t regret it.

Homemade Bratwurst!

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Easy & Full of Life-Giving Grease

I took on a new challenge today. Bratwurst.

This is a wonderful sausage; I figured it was worth it to make my own. Today on the way home from church I picked up some cheap veal and pork, plus sage and a six-pack of amazing Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre beer. I hate to say it, but that beer is as good as my own brew.

Turned out I did not need sage. I found a bunch of recipes on the web, and here is what I ended up doing:

INGREDIENTS

5 pounds veal and pork, mixed
20 g salt
42 g sugar
1/2 a nutmeg or nut or meg or whatever it’s called
3 g celery salt
4 g black pepper
6 g ground coriander
3 g dry marjoram (this is like half a small bottle)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 cup lard
1/4 cup butter

Sorry for the weird units. I’m in a hurry.

I ground it all up and fried test pieces in the microwave until I was satisfied. I left the coriander out, so I mixed it into one of my one-pound loaves, tested it, and found it really mattered, so I broke up all the loaves and mixed it in.

The garlic should be fresh, but this is kind of an offhand effort, so I grabbed powdered garlic on impulse. I think you should use maybe 9 pressed cloves.

I had to grind the nutmeg in a coffee grinder. It would have taken two years with a grater.

It was too lean at first, hence the delightful El Cochinito lard and the butter. ALWAYS sneak butter into a recipe if you can get away with it. ALWAYS.

This is a good starting point for your own efforts. You can add all sorts of stuff to bratwurst. Real German recipes include stuff like ginger and mace. There are different varieties. Naturally, I’m thinking about powdered homegrown cayennes, and how about addiing some Champagne to the mix?

I am not a great fan of sausage casings. I don’t see the point, really. They don’t hurt anything, but they certainly don’t help, so I don’t go out of my way to get them.

I’m going to fry a big wad of this, and I’m going to serve it with sauteed onions on a toasted buttered baguetty sort of roll, with Mister Mustard, my all-time favorite. It will be amazing.

This beer is very nice. I highly recommend it. Pretty strong, however. I am using the backspace key quite a bit right now.

You can also mix bread and eggs into bratwurst.

Maybe Randy from Cold Fury will give this a shot and tell us what happens.

There are three reasons I’m keen on making sausage. 1) It’s cheap. 2) You can do anything you want to the recipe. 3) Sausage is best when you, yourself, can choose nice, fresh meat. I usually like meat that’s nearly rotten, but for sausage, super-fresh seems to be the way to go, and if you make it yourself, you can also avoid boar taint, which is the kiss of sausage death.

Enjoy.

More

This was really good, but now that I’ve eaten it, I think a softer bread might be a smart idea. A huge sandwich with a hard crust can scrape your mouth up pretty good.

I threw a 10″-long mass of sausage into a cast iron skillet and fried it in butter, with piles of onions in there with it. Toward the end, I hit the onions with salt, paprika, and pepper. I think the right way to do this involves a bigger skillet, because you really need to be able to dedicate 2/3 of the pan to onions. Minimum.

The sausage was tasty and full of excellent fat. Very nice. I didn’t miss the casings at all.