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Archive for June, 2012

The Chicago Way

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

They Bring a Knife; You Bring a Cuisinart

I’m working on Chicago-style pizza today.

I already made a pie with my usual Sicilian crust. That crust is so good, I figured it couldn’t miss.I made it the usual way, but when I stuck it in the pan, I formed a wall around the edge, maybe 1.25″ high. Chicago pizza is a bowl of cheese and sauce, so you have to have sides on the bowl.

The pizza was very nice, but I learned one important thing. There is a reason they put sauce over the cheese in Chicago. They bake their pies nearly forever, so the cheese burns if you leave it exposed. I ended up with brown cheese. It tasted good, but obviously, it was far from optimal.

The crust itself was nice, but truthfully, conventional Sicilian is better. A big layer of yeasty bread under the sauce is better than thin crust swimming in tomatoes. When you make a high border around the pie, you automatically reduce the thickness of the bottom of the crust, and that’s not good.

Somebody pointed me to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Chicago-style pizza. It’s the same recipe I linked to the other day, on another site. The crust is the same, at least. You replace around 1/8 of the flour with corn meal, and you blend butter into the dough. Then you let it rise, roll it out, butter it, roll it up, flatten it somewhat, and stick it in the fridge. That hardens the butter, so when you form it into a pizza, you get layers separated by butter.

I think that’s the idea, anyhow.

Right now I’m making a pie with this method. Obviously, I changed a couple of things, because that’s how I am. I used the Cuisinart to “knead” the dough, and I halved the recipe. It was a recipe for two pies. What do you do if you only want one? The solution seemed simple.

I expected the corn meal to make the dough gritty, but oddly, it’s extremely silky. I mean, to the point where it’s weird.

I just threw it in the oven. I rolled it out, put it in the pan over olive oil, and added cheese, sauce, more cheese, pepperoni, spinach, and ricotta. I think I have the cheese covered well enough to keep it from burning.

We’ll see how it comes out. Maybe I’ll put up photos.

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The first pizza was pretty good, apart from being burnt. Part of the problem was my failure to cover the cheese. The other part was an oversight with the oven. I set the temperature too high, and then I corrected it before putting the pie in. I believe it was still too hot when the pie started baking. Anyway, here it is.

The second pizza looked fantastic but tasted sort of like a burned souffle crossed with a waffle. About one eighth of the flour was replaced with corn meal. That screwed up the flavor. I think it also contributed to the burnt taste. Corn meal burns easily.

I ate most of one piece, just to analyze it, but the rest is going in the trash.

I’m wondering if this is how it’s supposed to taste. I have heard the taste of Chicago pizza described as “buttery,” but my guess is that a lot of people can’t tell the taste of butter from the taste of corn.

It seems to me that corn just doesn’t work with tomato sauce and mozzarella. The flavors are incompatible. It’s like cornbread instead of biscuits with fried chicken. Maybe you have to be raised eating it to think it’s good.

I’m thinking I might do it again, using lard instead of butter and getting rid of the corn meal. Anyway, it was bad.

Fail Your Way to God’s Glass Ceiling

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

The Incompetent Can Only Rise so Far, Even in the Church

I keep thinking about something someone said this weekend. Someone who has heard a lot of sermons at my old church was listening to my current pastor preach, and he was impressed. He said the message wasn’t about careers, because unlike my old church, the new one was not a business.

That interests me, because the leaders at the old church talk constantly about leadership principles and success strategies and so on. I suppose this is because the head pastor is a motivational speaker, not a prophet or prayer expert or healer. I didn’t know he was a motivational speaker until recently, or at least, I didn’t know he listed “motivational speaker” in his promotional verbiage.

I wonder how many people will agree with me when I say this: some of the worst leaders and managers on earth talk constantly about the secrets to success. They talk about leadership and management as if they know everything. And they are still incompetent.

If you were to check the Facebook and Twitter accounts of people at the old church, you would see them repeating garbage from Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, and lots of other success “experts.” They recommend books with titles like The Energy Bus. They repeat crap they hear at conferences, with little comments like “so good!”. But the church is run like Boss Hogg’s bar on The Dukes of Hazzard. It’s full of nepotism, cronyism, laziness, and denial. And it’s a huge failure.

Maybe I shouldn’t knock motivational experts and success gurus. Their stuff does work, to a certain degree. I don’t think it’s evil. I’m sure Tony Robbins has helped millions of people make more money. For that matter, I think Scientology, a vile cult, makes people more successful. Positive thinking and corporate training will help you out in life, if you are the kind of person who acts instead of merely hearing.

The thing that bugs me is that these things are taught as substitutes for the power of the Holy Spirit, which is the only thing that will put you on exactly the right track and bring you exactly what you need in order to be fulfilled.

I’ll put it this way: I’m glad there are oncologists out there, and it’s good to have a cancerous leg amputated, but it’s better to have the Holy Ghost show up and destroy your tumors. I think that sums it up.

It’s funny; human beings use training and knowledge as tools to avoid using training and knowledge. We do this with scripture, and we do it with secular wisdom. The people who talk the biggest game often do the least.

I still remember my experiences at the church cafe. They preached responsibility, punctuality, cleanliness, professionalism…you name it. They said that as an Armorbearer, I was supposed to go in there and show them how Armorbearers rolled. We were considerably more responsible than most other volunteers, so we were supposed to teach them our ways.

I rounded up several really great kids to teach. I started making reasonable, intelligent rules about my workspace and the way the food was to be displayed and sold. And in the end, the drive-by pastor who ran the place gave me a very rude lecture in front of half of the staff, telling me I was possessive and overly demanding.

Here are the things I wanted: people were not to pile hundreds of pounds of boxes on my workspace before I came in. They were not to throw out items I brought to church and put in the freezers and fridges. I was to have at least two steam table pans to display the pizza and rolls I made, because I was required to sell two kinds of pizza plus rolls, and the other trays were full of gross deep-fried Sysco chicken offerings which were nearly identical. I expected every day’s work to start with prayer. I expected people to be clean.

Obviously, I was channeling Hitler. At Burger King, this list would have been considered unsatisfactory because it was so SHORT, but at my church–the church of success and positive thinking–it was way over the top.

The pastor violated every management rule you can think of. He refused to communicate with me so I could adapt to his vision (or even be aware of it). He was rarely present on the job. He “corrected” me in front of others before giving me any private input. He gave someone less senior authority over me and my workspace without informing me. He tried to get me to continue there, doing things way below my skill level (frying wings and so forth). He essentially eliminated profitable items in order to focus on embarrassing crap that lost money. He never listened; he knew nothing whatsoever about business, but he did know that everyone else was wrong.

Name a principle of good management; he violated it. There was no possible way for him to succeed in his ignorance and stubbornness, and the advice I gave him was ancient, accepted wisdom guaranteed to work. Of course, the cafe failed miserably, and it was taken away from him, which is what he wanted all along.

They turned the cafe over to a guy who is so ineffective, he stands out even at the church. People marvel at his ineffectiveness, but he’s very close to the head pastor’s family, so he can never be removed from the chain of command. Whenever a problem arises and his name comes up, because it appears necessary to go through him, people are likely to give up or look for a way to go around him. He is extremely effective at one thing: preventing progress.

Before he was put in charge, he was already taking care of the physical plant. When I needed a key to the kitchen, he said he had it in a drawer with a bunch of other keys, but it was too much trouble to dig it out. That went on for months. I never got the key from him.

When he got control, I was told he was going to go in and clean house. Oh, boy. I talked to him a little bit about problems with the junk that was piled up in the back room, and he made fun of the previous regime for failing to conduct an inventory. Like he was going to go in there and do everything the right way! After all, he had been to a bunch of Brian Klemmer EST-derived seminars. He was all about having the intention and finding the mechanism, like Klemmer used to say.

And the cafe failed again.

Like Aaron says, fish rots from the head. The head pastor was no different. He knew how to line up speaking gigs and get paid for telling people to be effective, but he seemed to work at avoiding managing the church. I believe he did that deliberately, to stay free to promote himself. And the people under him seem to do the same thing, which is not surprising, since that’s the example they’ve seen.

We had a vermin problem in the kitchen. I guarantee you, without even looking, it’s still there. I would be amazed if anything had changed. There was a low cabinet about twenty feet long, alone one wall of the back room. It had drawers in it. The drawers were packed with urine, feces, and the odd dead mouse. This stuff can kill you. Look it up. When a place is that full of mouse filth, you’re not supposed to clean it without special gear and sanitary protocols.

I went to the head pastor and other bigwigs and told them the filth needed to be removed. This would be about a four-hour job, given a crew of ten people. It was nothing we could not handle. I informed them that it was a severe health hazard, and I even showed them corroborating information on the Internet. The head pastor responded as though he was concerned. He’s good at that. And he did absolutely nothing.

When I talked to the pastor who ran the cafe, he acted like I was suggesting we build a full-scale replica of the Panama Canal. I guess he was comfortable with mouse urine and feces near the stored food and the equipment, and I know he didn’t want to spend any additional time in the cafe. We’re talking about a guy who usually said, “Walk with me,” whenever I tried to talk to him; I think that tells you what you need to know.

He bought a couple of mouse traps and put them on a shelf, still in the box. I never saw one deployed. There was no cleaning. No one lifted a finger, as far as I know. Out of exasperation, I got a couple of kids to help me clean out and bleach a couple of drawers, but I think it’s safe to say no one else has done anything like that, and those drawers are surely full of excrement again.

When I quit, there was flour and sugar stored in that room. I left it sitting there, figuring they would do something about disposing of it or sealing it up. Weeks later, it was still there. A big bag was open to any animal that wanted to go in and feed. How can you bless a manager who lets things like that happen?

There was a complete leadership vacuum. It was as though the people in charge were only there to loot the place. Now that I think about it, it was a lot like the scene in Goodfellas, where the restaurant owner became a partner with a mafioso. Once the gangster was in charge, the place became a vehicle for pillage. Food and liquor came in the front and went out the back so crooks could sell it and pocket the cash. When the restaurant went broke, they torched it for the insurance and moved on, and the owner was left with no business. That’s what the church reminds me of. You go in and use it as a way to meet influential Christians and business leaders, you get yourself on TV, you get your sons on the payroll, and you teach people to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE. Then the church fails, and you move on to your next demolition job.

One of the fundamental rules of success is that you put the interests of the enterprise above your own. At this church, they did the opposite. Or at least it seemed that way to me.

What I’m saying is that they failed at the nearest thing they have to a mission. They don’t teach much about the Holy Spirit or repentance or deliverance. They teach a great deal about motivation and success. And they end up demotivating and suppressing.

If they weren’t Christians, they’d be in public housing. They could never make it in the real world. Luckily, they have an easy job, which is to convince people to give them money. As long as they do okay at that, they will fail upward. They don’t have to make a product or sell a service. They don’t have to be good at anything, the way real entrepreneurs do. They just have to persuade people to write checks every week. They’re not doing very well at that, which is probably why the head pastor is leaving, but they’ve done well enough to stay in power and hold onto the building for a number of years.

It’s funny; a CEO who does badly has to say things like, “We had a bad year, but please let us stay and fix things.” A preacher who runs a church into the ground can say, “We are facing a special financial challenge, and God is telling me that if you will just GIVE, he will provide a return: thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold! A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over!” Instead of seeing him as a bum and an incompetent, the congregation will want to help him defeat this “attack of the enemy”!

What does this all boil down to? I guess it reminds me of what I already know: never judge a person by his words. Always look at the actions. A nincompoop who spouts Sun Tzu and Dale Carnegie quotes is still a nincompoop. People who actually have what it takes don’t read that junk, because success is already part of them.

I think the church is going to disappear, unless God spares it by sending new leaders. The head pastor is leaving, and there is no way he would do that if it was even close to succeeding. The mortgage is eight figures, and the congregation is not paying it off. They get some government grants, but I don’t think the Obama teat is generous enough to keep the place on its feet, especially if people are going to get nice salaries and jobs for their kids.

Supposedly, the pastor’s son is going to be in charge. He draws big crowds, but they’re young, and they don’t give much. Many of them go to church to hook up for sex. It’s a lot like a nightclub, and the kids don’t have money for clubs, so it makes a good substitute. Some people I know think he’s going to take his Tuesday youth service methods and move them to Sunday. It will be Disco Soul Train Church. That will mean older people (with jobs) moving out. So he’ll have 6,000 people a week and 15 tithers.

They get something like $50,000 per month in rent from business tenants, but the power bill is around $35,000, and the staff has to be paid.

I probably irked them more than I suspected when I publicly debunked the Steve Munsey fundraising tactics they were using. Every chance I got, I went on Facebook and told about 150 people there was no such thing as “Seven Blessings of Passover” or “Seven Blessings of the Atonement.” I even went after “Seven Blessings of Pentecost,” although it turned out they were actually teaching “Five Victories of Pentecost,” which is equally crazy and wrong. They were getting big offerings on these Jewish holidays, promising health, money, and other stuff in return. I don’t know if I had an impact, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I made them nervous. I know some people listened to me. I didn’t want to see my friends cheated, so I spoke up, and I’m glad some were spared.

The dynasty in charge of the church could turn it all around. They could start teaching about the Holy Spirit. They could attend to people’s needs instead of using offering money to fly around promoting themselves. If your church is floundering for lack of leadership, what business do you have flying to other states to spread your failed message? Shouldn’t you stay home and get things under control? They say a captain is supposed to be the last person who leaves a sinking ship, and now that I think about it, the rats leave first.

If people knew they would meet the Holy Spirit there, they would show up and tithe. There are rich churches that succeed that way. But I don’t think the leaders of the church have much faith in God. I’m not sure they believe in him at all, given that they are willing to teach made-up doctrine, but even if they do believe, I don’t think they expect God to come through and establish their church. If they did, they’d be doing things his way already.

They might succeed, if they sell their souls completely and teach nothing but prosperity. They could compete with Rod Parsley. But I don’t think they’re as smart or as talented as the people who make it in that game. Their work is generally third-tier. No, I think it has to be God’s way or selling cars. I don’t think they have any other options.

More Food Network FAIL

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Jesters of the Food Court

I decided to try the Food Network’s recipe for Chicago-style pizza. This was brave of me, or just stupid, given my bad experiences with FN recipes. I tried Emeril’s Bearnaise sauce recipe, and it was utterly heinous. The first time I made prime rib, I tried Bobby Flay’s recipe, which suggested an insane temperature of 325°, and I ended up with several pounds of something resembling rubber.

Here’s something you really have to get through your head. I haven’t been able to do it, but maybe you’ll succeed where I failed: CREDENTIALS DON’T MEAN SQUAT IN THE KITCHEN. I don’t care where Emeril cooked. I don’t care where a given chef went to school. You can develop great credentials while cooking really bad food. Look at Mario Batali.

I can’t help being impressed when I meet someone who has a cooking resume, but that only proves I’m dense, because their food generally fails to live up to the curriculum vitae. I should know better than to trust the Food Network. Just the other day, I watched Alton Brown choose and ruin a badly cut rib eye, after telling the audience the wrong way to season a pan. And he’s supposed to be the king of culinary hype-destroyers.

Truthfully, I’m being too hard on myself (for once). I knew the pizza recipe was probably going to be disappointing. I didn’t try it because I thought it would work. I tried it because editing is easier than starting from scratch. I knew that once I had made a pie, I would be able to come up with improvements and end up with a great product.

The recipe comes from a place called Malnati’s. I have never been there. I have never had Chicago-style pizza, unless Uno counts. I’ve been to Uno once, and I can’t understand how they stay in business.

I want to be fair. I changed the recipe somewhat. I made it smaller, and I altered the proportions of sauce, dough, cheese, and toppings. But I know I didn’t cause any new problems. I think that will be clear as I describe what I did.

The recipe calls for “sauce.” That’s all the info you get. I decided to use my usual recipe, but since Chicago-style contains chunks of tomato, I opted for Cento Italian tomatoes instead of commercial sauce (paste) made by Stanislaus. The Cento tomatoes make wonderful sauce, but it’s a little more orange than Stanislaus, and it’s not as fruity. Also, the tomatoes are watery. So I boiled the sauce down a little.

I have read that you shouldn’t cook Chicago-style sauce once it’s mixed, but I didn’t know that when I made the pizza. The result was really delicious, but next time, I’ll boil the tomatoes first and add the other stuff later. You can’t use the tomatoes without removing some water, because you’ll get a tomato soup in a big bowl made from watery bread.

The recipe says to use a very basic dough recipe. Flour, oil, water, salt, yeast, sugar…I think. Something like that. I forget. I did some Googling and decided to change that a little. I made my usual oil-free sauce, and I substituted 1/4 cup of semolina for some of the flour. I had read various claims about corn meal and semolina figuring heavily in the crust, so I decided to see what semolina would do. Generally, in pizza, corn meal is a cheap, crappy substitute for semolina, and I had semolina on hand, so I used the best ingredient I had.

Here’s what you do. You dust the bottom of a deep pan with semolina or corn meal, to prevent sticking. I could live without the added grit, but I complied, using semolina. You stretch the dough out and line the pan. You pile in a layer of mozzarella, and you add a fair amount of Romano and Parmesan, which is a little silly, since you’re never going to be able to tell the difference between the two cheeses in this recipe. Next time I’ll use a single hard cheese. Once the cheese is in, you dump in your sauce and toppings. I chose to put the sauce in and then add the grated cheese and the toppings, in that order.

Once that’s done, you bake the whole mess for 30 to 40 minutes at 425°. That’s what I did.

Here are photos.

This was really delicious, but I still think the recipe is a loser. I’ve been consulting and Googling, and it’s my understanding that the crust is supposed to be flaky and buttery. It gets that way because they butter the dough and fold it, sort of like croissant dough. Naturally, the Food Network didn’t mention this. And the only reason the sauce was good was that I already knew how to make it.

I’m not really that interested in making perfect Chicago-style pizza. I can’t really hope to do it until I’ve tried the real thing, and I don’t think that’s possible without a plane ride. But I would like to make something really good, BASED ON THE CONCEPT. That’s a reasonable goal.

I found a link to a site which supposedly has the real, gold-standard method for making the crust. Here is the link: LINK. It seems to confirm that the Food Network has failed again, with no plausible excuse.

If you look at the above link, and then you Google Malnati’s recipe over at the Food Network, I think you’ll see that the changes I made aren’t the reason the crust isn’t the canonical Chicago crust. The Malnati recipe isn’t anything like the one I linked to above, so if I had followed the Malnati recipe faithfully, I would still have a homogeneous crust instead of layers.

I’m going to try something similar to the method I linked to. I plan to make some dough, roll it out, cool it, butter it, and fold it a few times. Then I’ll roll it out and stick it in the pan. It ought to work pretty well. I should get layers, plus some butter flavor.

This pizza seems to call for a lot more sauce and cheese than plain old Sicilian, so I think I’ll jack up the quantities. And I am tempted to shove some ricotta in there.

I would be truly amazed if I ended up with Chicago-style pizza, but I think I can produce something incredibly good. I don’t think I’ll make it often. Who wants to do all that work? I make the best Sicilian pizza I’ve ever seen, and it takes about ten minutes of work, plus eight minutes in the oven. I don’t see myself fooling with this new stuff very often, but I think it’s well worth trying.

I am tempted to use plain old croissant dough, but I might as well try my idea first.

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Here is the latest. I made my usual dough, adding butter to the recipe. Then I rolled it out very thin, buttered it, folded it, buttered it, and so on, until I had several layers. Then I stretched it out and put it in a Teflon pan, over semolina.

The bottom layer is around four ounces of provolone. Then another five ounces of Costco mozzarella. Then ten ounces of sauce. Then half a cup of Parmesan. Then seasoned ricotta, spinach, and pepperoni.

I know it will taste good. But will it be anything like the real thing?

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The pizza came out very well, but it convinced me to quit putting semolina in the crust. It makes the crust smell like Graham crackers, and it makes it too much like a Stella d’Oro breakfast treat. I think my own Sicilian crust would work a lot better. And I need to add fat to the outside of the dough.

The inside of the pizza was fine, but too deep. It should have been hotter inside, and the depth kept it from getting where it needed to be.

I think I’ll layer the crust again next time, but no semolina, and I’ll put oil in the pan, the way I usually do. Maybe I’ll add some butter with the oil.

Stand on the Water

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Get Off the Sand

I am beginning to think the people who run my old church are pure fakes. I have come to believe that the church’s primary function is to promote one family.

It’s very sad. The more I know about them, the less I respect them. In fact, I have no respect for them whatsoever. In my mind, a selfish preacher is worse than a sincere prostitute.

When you live by faith, it’s not easy to accept the notion that a Christian leader is depraved. We are taught to believe in God unconditionally, and that’s correct, because God is perfect. He never lets us down. He always makes the right decision, so we can trust him without reservation. The faith we have in God tends to mingle with our opinions of our leaders, so when they do stupid things, we do what we do when God seems disappointing. We tell ourselves they must have their reasons. In God’s case, this makes sense. But with people, it’s not always appropriate.

Because Christians are conditioned to believe and be patient, we are often too patient with scoundrels. We explain away the things our common sense tells us. And we don’t want to be guilty of self-righteousness, so we are slow to condemn. The result is that we end up putting up with charlatans way too long.

What’s the answer? How do you avoid this problem? Truthfully, I don’t think you can escape it entirely. A skilled weasel will pop up from time to time, and no matter what, they will occasionally fool you temporarily. But the Holy Spirit will wake you up and unmask them, if you stay in touch with him. The Bible says he provides wisdom and knowledge, so while your little tiny brain may lead you into the bushes for a time, the Holy Spirit will eventually lead you back out.

These people told me what they were. Sometimes they were arrogant, in spite of their limited educations and their fairly ordinary abilities. Sometimes they were rude. They were often ungrateful. One of them admitted he would not say certain things in front of the church, because it was “suicide.” They seemed greedy. They sucked up to prominent and powerful people, even seating Luther Campbell in a place of honor. They let utter fools preach in their church. They did things that seemed to demonstrate a startling ignorance of the principles laid out in scripture.

They told me what they were, but I didn’t listen at first. I think this is because I was too much like them. I wanted God to fix my problems. I thought about that more than I thought about love or sacrifice. I was not strong in the Spirit. I had not been praying in tongues as much as I should have, and I had neglected the Bible and good teaching. In short, I was carnal, even though I had good intentions. Carnal people are blind. Only Spirit-led people know the truth. The more I built myself up in the Spirit, the more I saw the problems, and the more I felt I had to be honest about them.

If there is one difference between them and me, which I am willing to state without feeling self-righteous, it is that I am not a hopeless egotist. I will listen. Eventually. I don’t think I know everything. I don’t dismiss other church members when they offer their ideas. I don’t think I’m more important than other people. I believe that’s why I’m doing so well, while they appear to be stuck in the mud, in declining ministries.

They probably don’t see their ministries as declining, but that’s how it is when you surround yourself with yes-men. You don’t know there’s a problem until the earth opens under your feet, because everyone is telling you God just can’t get enough of you. Attendance is good; things must be going well! But people who serve at the church are very unhappy, and at any moment, vital individuals could take off, leaving the central family with the difficult job of reestablishing relations with a huge congregation mostly comprised of poor blacks (who are staying poor in spite of the prosperity gospel).

They will never be on TBN regularly. They will never have a giant church like Keith Craft’s. They don’t have the natural talent, they alienate people who do, and they don’t have God’s help. That’s what I think. They are going to be lifelong also-rans from a third-tier megachurch that can’t pay its debts.

This is starting to sound depressing. I intended to write a message of hope, so let me turn it around. The point I wanted to make is that we are all in danger of being conned, unless we have guidance from the Holy Spirit. That guidance will come, if you pray in tongues for a good long time twice or more each day. You have to do other things, but those things will follow on their own, if you pray in tongues and maintain a submissive, teachable attitude.

Paul referred to tongues as “living water,” and one function of water is to cleanse. This is what the Bible refers to as “sanctification.” Carnal preachers will try to stuff you with filth and garbage. The living water will wash it out, over time. This is what is happening with me, and I know God didn’t create me to be the only one who got the benefit. If you reject the Spirit, expect to be fooled for the rest of your life. You have supernatural enemies who are smarter than you are, and they don’t play fairly. You will lose.

This works for me. It works for people I know. It will work for you. But it’s not going to happen if you’re praying in tongues once a month for twenty seconds. Get up to an hour a day and see what happens.

I hope someone will read this and give it a try. I would really like to see other people get what I’m getting, instead of chasing their tails and saying they don’t understand why God won’t help them.

If you’ve been asking for God to show you the way out, maybe he just did.

I Received no Consulting Fees for Writing This Blog Entry

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Plus a Pork Tour de Force

I should be working on my amp cabinet, but I just can’t. I’m high on pork.

I made an impulse buy at Costco the other day. How shocking. They had two pounds of smoked pulled pork for eight bucks. How could I turn that down? Besides, I think I would buy a leaky bag of anthrax spores if it said “Kirkland” on it.

Today I decided to prepare it.

I was considering putting it in a calzone. It would work as lechon asado, so I could make pan con lechon with Swiss cheese. That’s an unbelievable sandwich. Or I could experiment: BBQ pulled pork calzone.

In the end, I went with Texas toast.

I made a loaf of homemade bread, which takes about four minutes of work. I threw some cole slaw together, and I bought a baking potato, which I nuked (cheating) and then stuck in the oven to finish. I made my own BBQ sauce, and I sliced an onion.

I fried the onion in some old beef fat/peanut oil I used for fries. I used cast iron. I tossed the pork in, flambeed it in Jack Daniel’s, and tossed it with sauce. I fried two slices of bread in butter, which is just plain wrong. Then I sat down and ate.

Oh, man. I can’t describe it. As sold by Costco, the pork is not quite as good as pork you smoke on your own. But it’s more than adequate. It’s tender, and it has a nice hickory flavor. The stuff I put in it just melted into the meat. The bread was crunchy and drippy and buttery and yeasty. I think I may faint.

The cole slaw was also a cheat. I bought shredded cabbage and carrots in a bag and added my own stuff. I don’t think it makes much difference. I can’t shred cabbage any better than a factory can.

The potato was not quite right, but the wonderful thing about potatoes is that screwing them up can make them better. This one ended up with parts that were a little too chewy, and it may sound stupid, but they were wonderful. If I were cooking seriously, I wouldn’t go near the microwave, but this was just lunch, and the potato was great.

This sandwich was so good, it was sobering. Sometimes food makes you giddy. When it’s really good, it’s almost scary. It will make you serious. It will make you wonder how good food can get. That’s the situation I am dealing with today.

I can’t believe God lets me cook like this. What is the purpose? I can’t eat it all. I threw out a lot of my lunch because you can’t eat like that and expect to live.

I have an idea. My new church is thinking about feeding the poor. I’m all for this, and I’ll help, PROVIDED they do it right. There is no reason the poor can’t have the best food in Miami. The cost of food has no relationship to the quality. It’s all in the preparation. I’m thinking pulled pork sandwiches might be a good way to go. At most, the pork will cost $1.50 per pound. Homemade bread is almost free. Sauce ingredients aren’t expensive. Neither is slaw. For three bucks a head, we should be able to pretty well stun the poor, as well as the volunteers and anyone else who comes around.

We would need a couple of chafing dishes plus a big propane skillet. That’s about it.

Speaking of the poor, I learned something about a local nonprofit today. My old church has a charity wing. I know someone who went to them for help. He claimed they sat him in front of a computer and showed him links to places that could help him out. Did they give him money or groceries? He said no, although he had given money to the church in the past.

In the recent Pentecost fundraising drive (“Five Victories of Pentecost”), the leadership said they were going to give the special Pentecost offerings to the poor, via their charity wing. I ran that by my dad, the non-Christian attorney. He said, “So he’s paying HIMSELF.” The conflict of interest was not subtle. If you run a church, and you ask the congregation to give money to a charity, and you run the charity, and the charity pays you, what are you really doing? Maybe you’re not taking any money out, but what if you are? Shouldn’t donors be told how much and for what?

Out of curiosity, I Googled, and I came up with a PDF of some Canadian government documents. They say the church’s charity wing lost its nonprofit status in Canada in 2010, because they failed to respond to requests that they open their books and show that they were doing what charities do.

Okay, let’s be fair. This could be irresponsibility. This would not be a big surprise, given what I have observed personally. So far, what I’ve said doesn’t prove dishonesty. But here’s something one of the letters said: “The Organization’s only expenses for the period under audit were for non-charitable ‘Professional and consulting fees.’ The Organization did not report any expenses in support of the ‘ongoing programs’ as described in question C2 of its T3010s.”

You run an outfit which is supposed to be a charity; it’s supposed to give stuff to the poor. But as far as the Canadian government can tell, ALL–not some–of your expenses are for “Professional and consulting fees.”

You can see why it disturbed me. “Consulting” is a good excuse for organizations to funnel money to people who don’t really do anything of value. Michelle Obama made huge money “consulting.” And I think it’s fair to assume that none of the fees mentioned by the Canadians were paid to the poor (who are rarely hired as consultants). If a charity pays consultants, yet it gives nothing to the poor, what, exactly, is the point of the consulting? What are the consultants helping them do? Consultants are supposed to give advice. I think the obvious suggestion would be, “Stop giving all of the money to consultants and professionals and give something to the needy.”

Other websites say the charity received six figures a year. How can all of that money go to consulting and “professional” services?

Maybe there’s a legitimate explanation, but it doesn’t look good, does it?

A full-blown grifter–a charlatan with no intention of doing anything but getting rich–might leave a trail just like this. Money in, no services provided, and lots of expenditures for vague “fees.” So while the PDF doesn’t prove anything crooked is going on, if something crooked WERE going on, it would not look much different. I have decided to show the PDF to some friends and see what they think.

In any case, it shows I was right to quit giving them money. A long time ago, I realized they asked for money and then told donors nearly nothing about how it was spent. By “nearly nothing,” I mean I did not receive accountings showing how much money was taken in and how it was spent. I cut them off, apart from church offerings. I found transparent, trustworthy ministries and charities to give to.

They didn’t tell me where the money went. That’s bad. Reputable charities send out reports accounting for their donations. But failing to cooperate with the government of Canada…that’s another level of bad. It shows they don’t deserve money from anyone. If they’re that irresponsible or incompetent, how can you expect them to spend their money effectively?

What if they’re really helping the poor? Shouldn’t they keep books that prove it? What’s the down side? Jesus told us we were to keep quiet about giving, but he was referring to individuals, not ministries. Besides, before Pentecost, the pastor got up and told the congregation he and his wife were giving a thousand dollars in the Pentecost drive. Obviously, he is not concerned about hiding his good deeds.

This isn’t the only nonprofit that keeps things quiet. Kenneth Copeland refused to open his books when Congress came calling. On Youtube, there’s a video in which Copeland explains that Congress is full of evil people who do Satan’s bidding, and that he, as God’s representative on earth, is not accountable to them. That’s not really what he said, but it’s not that far off. If he’s not open with Congress, he’s not open with his donors, either, because if the donors had the information, it would have been impossible to keep it away from Congress, so he would have complied.

How can anyone give money to a man like that? What possible reason could he have for refusing to tell retirees and people on disability what he does with their money? He is incredibly wealthy. It didn’t all come from penny stocks and brilliant commodity trades made on a pastor’s salary; I guarantee that. Why won’t he tell us how he got where he is?

It’s sad, but Christians are so brainwashed about submission to authority, they can’t see it when the devil himself walks up the aisle and picks up the collection plate. Jesus said we should be as harmless as doves, but he also said we should be as wise as serpents. A man who won’t explain himself to his flock has no business handling other people’s money.

I pray for God to help the leaders at my old church get it together, but I also pray he throws them out and brings better pastors in. I hope they improve, but I don’t think the congregation should suffer while they learn. They’ve had a long time to get it right, and it’s not right for thousands of people to have poor leadership just so a few folks can hold onto their jobs.

My faith tells me God is replacing them, and as I have noted before, the scuttlebutt is that the head pastor is on his way out. I didn’t hear about that until after I prayed for the leaders to be replaced.

In other news, my latest amp now almost has a home. Here’s a photo.

I am not a great upholsterer, but it looks wonderful. I don’t know how to handle the inside corners in the ivory panel. I am considering experimenting with a heat gun. The vinyl will have to be stretched, if the job is to look professional. As it is, I may have to mask it with some sort of metal or plastic things I screw into the corners, over the vinyl.

The amp sounds magnificent. I can’t stop playing it. It sings. I still have some 120 Hz hum to get rid of, but it’s not bad enough to be a major concern. Once I get it fixed, I’m moving on to my 4-EL84 version.

Stay away from that Costco pork. I am just now starting to come down.

More

I’m really not sure what’s going on. I have been re-reading the Canadian government’s documents, which you can find here:

Link to Canadian gov’t documents.

The organization that had its nonprofit credentials revoked is headquartered in Miami, and it belongs (or belonged) to the head pastor of the church. But it doesn’t have the name the church’s charity wing uses. The Canadians were puzzled by this, too. In trying to get information, they looked at the current charity’s website.

Now I have to wonder: is it even the same outfit? Is it possible they let this organization lapse (irresponsible, but not inherently crooked) while setting up the new one? That would explain why they ignored inquiries from Canada.

If we were talking about a responsible organization like The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, there would be no questions. They publish and mail an annual report to their donors, and it accounts for all of the money they receive. I know Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s salary, because of that report. With my old church and its affiliates, who knows? Maybe they generally let people look at their books, but for some reason, they decided to shut Canada out. Maybe everything they do is legal and ethical. I have no idea. I don’t recall receiving any annual reports.

The organization the Canadians disqualified used this language in describing its purpose:

[T]o evangelize and educate young people and their families regarding drugs, suicide, and moral values

That doesn’t sound like what the current charity is purportedly doing. As far as I know, they occasionally round stuff up and send it to Haiti, and as I’ve said, they refer poor people to organizations that give them assistance. So maybe it’s a different body entirely.

Here is how the charity’s website describes its activities:

When a person in need enters our office we will immediately hear the person’s need and respond with appropriate resources. Often the response will be a referral to another resource. [Italics mine.]

Anyway, I don’t want to be unfair. The church’s charity has one name, and the organization in the Canadian documents has another, so they may be different entities, and it is completely possible that the church’s charity is doing more for the poor than I suspect.

Death of the Salesmen

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Time to Flush

Life just gets more and more interesting.

Maybe instead of a relatively cohesive narrative, I should go over some highlights.

I had tendinitis in my left hand. It was caused by guitar practice. There is no cure for tendinitis. It is one of the most annoying ailments there is. You have to stop whatever it is that caused it, and then you wait. If it goes away, great. If not, there is nothing you can do.

I quit playing for a few weeks. The tendinitis didn’t go away. Of course, I prayed, and my faith said it would be healed. In my prayers and in my mind, I always said I was healed. I never went back on that.

Last week I started talking to the musicians at my new church. They may want me to play guitar. I don’t talk about this a lot, but if I could choose any career, music would be it. And you know God. He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). I have some material to study, and we’ll see how it goes.

At around the same time I connected with the musicians, I resumed serious practice. I figured there was no point in waiting. Resting didn’t make the tendinitis better, and practicing didn’t make it worse.

Late last week, the tendinitis started going away, even though I was practicing again. Now I can barely feel it. God really does hand out miraculous healings, and I’ve gotten a bunch of them. My sister had extensive small cell lung cancer, and I fasted and prayed, and she’s still alive, with no detectable disease. Don’t ever think God doesn’t heal, or that it’s unusual when he does. You just have to know what you’re doing.

In other news, I started thinking about a mission my old church is pursuing. In 2010, the pastor got on stage and told us he had a “2020 Vision.” As I recall, he said God had told him to get 100,000 people saved by 2020. You can read about it on the web if you look.

I’ve seen so much cynical preaching at that church; they copy other people’s material and present it as though the Holy Spirit had just jerked them out of bed and dictated it to them. I thought about that yesterday, and I had to ask myself how likely it was that the 2020 thing was legitimate. So I entered “2020 vision” and “church” in the Google box. I had to exclude “vimeo” and “schools,” and after that, I got so many links to churches with “2020 visions,” it amazed me. And of course, my old church wasn’t the first one to get the idea. I found one outfit that has been preaching about it since 2001.

So discouraging. It makes you wonder if they ever believed ANYTHING they said. If they were willing to steal other people’s ideas and claim they came from God, were they totally incapable of getting a real message from the Father? Maybe so. There are plenty of preachers who hear from God in real time, but I guess the rest just steal from them.

Are they even Christians? If you are willing to make up doctrine, and you don’t mind stealing other people’s stupid gimmicks, can you honestly claim you believe in God? Could a real believer preach that garbage in front of Jesus, if he showed up in person and sat in the front row? Sometimes I tell myself the problem is that they’re not grown up in the Spirit, and they have a hard time discerning the things that really come from God, but that would not explain cribbing and fabrication. A person who lacks discernment may be fooled easily, but lacking discernment won’t cause you to lie.

I shouldn’t say they’re pursuing the mission. When I left the church in April, we weren’t hearing much about it. They have a way of getting very excited about things and then forgetting about them. That happened after the Haiti earthquake. We were TBN’s earthquake nerve center. Everything went through us. The pastor was on TV. We helped send a freighter to Port au Prince. We kept hearing that our church would be committed for the long haul, not just during the initial excitement. Then the cameras went away, and after a while, we didn’t hear much about Haiti. Even though the congregation is mostly Haitian.

The pastor may be moving on soon, to resume work as a traveling evangelist, so I don’t think the 2020 thing is going anywhere.

What else is going on? I’m angrier than ever at preachers who teach the get-rich gospel. It’s pure crap. I believe God gives people financial prosperity. I believe he rewards people with shalom, especially for giving to the poor and for helping the Jews and Israel. But I know he doesn’t make people rich just because they throw money at morons. Every Christian knows someone who has given money to ministries and ended up poor. It’s time to man up and admit it.

A couple of things occurred to me this week.

First of all, it makes no sense to go to God and tell him you gave stupidly and ask him to honor the offering anyway. You can’t ask God to honor your good intentions when you give money to an idiot.

Hosea tells us God’s people perish for lack of knowledge. The people who came before us lost a lot of knowledge, so now we walk in ignorance, and we do unproductive things. Then God lets the consequences fall on us, even if it means doing nothing while people die.

Why doesn’t God come in and teach us what our predecessors lost? Because that’s not his job. We are responsible for running the earth. We are responsible for teaching future generations. The system is set up so our failures can hurt our descendants. That’s just how it is. God isn’t going to round us up once a generation and tie us to chairs and teach us. We suffer because we don’t know what to do, even when our ignorance is not our fault. If you give to a fool, God isn’t going to come in and pretend the offering was a good idea, because to do that would be to permit the fool to manipulate God.

God is not all that interested in your intentions. Saul was trying to do a good thing when he took the place of the priests and offered a sacrifice, but God cursed him for it. Eve was trying to do a good thing when she tried to get wisdom from eating the forbidden fruit, and look how that worked out. Your good intentions don’t matter when you don’t do things God’s way.

This sounds pretty bad. But here is the other thing that occurred to me: God is a redeemer. He restores things that have been taken from us. He even restores things we’ve thrown away in stupidity. So there is no reason you can’t go to God and ask him to restore what you gave to greedy parasites. Tell him you were fooled and robbed. The way you characterize your prayer matters. God is a judge, and judges require people to ask correctly.

Here is something else: God DOES return to us once in a while to teach us the things our predecessors discarded, even though it’s not his responsibility. If you look at the story of Josiah, you will see it. The ancient Hebrews became extremely ignorant. They even forgot what Passover was. But God gave them new teachers. Lately God has been doing the same thing through the baptism with the Holy Spirit and tongues. John, a man who knew what it was to be in the Spirit (Revelation 1:10) said, “You need that no man teach you.” If you get into the Spirit every day, consistently, over time, God will teach you the right things to do. Like Jesus said, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled, and as James said, if you ask God for wisdom, he will give liberally.

While this stuff was on my mind, I started to understand a strange scripture from the book of Mark:

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where ‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

This stuff has been the justification for a lot of horrors. Men used to castrate themselves based on this passage. I believe it actually refers to the body of Christ: the church.

Jesus has parts, according to scripture. Some of those parts become corrupt and cause others to become offended and fall away.

Greedy, lying preachers tell people God will make them rich for giving them money, and when people comply, the money doesn’t come. What happens then? People get offended. They decide that if they were lied to about one thing, Christianity itself must be a lie. Crooked preachers drive people away from God.

I believe that when Jesus talked about cutting off body parts, he was referring to preachers he would cast down. This is something I pray for every day. I really don’t care if a corrupt preacher loses his job and his reputation. That’s tough. If you’re stealing from the poor, you need to be stopped. You’re harming thousands or millions of people. What do I care about one selfish man? Let him eat from a dumpster and learn something. If it will save one family from giving themselves into the street, then praying for the crooks to fall seems like a good thing. Sure, I pray for them to be corrected and restored. But I don’t pray for God to keep them in their pulpits while he straightens them out. They are doing too much damage, too fast.

So that’s where that sits, at the moment.

I applied to be a member of New Dawn Ministries. These people are flat-out nuts for the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to expect too much of them. I don’t know them that well, so I don’t know who is really hooked up and who just goes to church to dance and yell. Experience tells me not to assume everyone there is a modern-day apostle. But it’s an amazing church, and I’ve already met more Spirit-connected people there, out of maybe 200 people, than I met in several years at my old church.

I want to do things for the church, but I’m going to take it easy. My prayer life is going crazy. A bad day contains only two hours of prayer. A good day goes over three. That, in and of itself, is a ministry. I can’t spend twenty hours a week at church. So I will pray, pick, and choose.

I believe we are headed into a new age when Holy-Spirit-empowered people are going to have more prominence. I think we’re going to see a lot of pampered preachers with hair plugs and pompadours leave their ministries. I believe God will drive them out, as Spirit-filled people rise up and ask for his help. Cliques and guilds will dissolve. Surely God will not let his people chase mirages forever, at the mercy of men and women who are so stuffed with the wealth of the poor, they’re like stiff, swollen Thanksgiving turkeys. When that happens, we’ll see people get restoration and healing, and they won’t have to go to ridiculous crusades to get them. These things will happen in people’s homes, as they happen in mine. That’s my impression.

I guess that’s all I have time to write. I hope this is helpful.

Will, but no Grace

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Emmanuel Goldstein, at Your Service

Today someone accused me of being homophobic. And he (or she) was very nasty and rude about it. I made a joke about “trying not to feel gay” in a fabric store, and this person ordered me to keep my “homophobic” comments to myself!

In a way, it’s funny. Obviously, the remark was not hostile toward gays. If it is, La Cage aux Folles (“The Bird Cage”) and Will & Grace are hateful, as is The Ambiguously Gay Duo.

In another way, it’s not funny. The accusation itself was hateful, and it reflects the increasing boldness with which the enemies of Christianity are spewing their rage.

Satan managed to kick the Holy Spirit out of the church around 1700 years ago, and for centuries, the church was no real threat to him. The power was gone. The courage was gone. Look at the lists of the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. All those things were gone from the church, except in piddling quantities. We were disarmed.

A little over a century ago, the Holy Spirit returned, in spite of our foolishness, and since then, Christians have been getting more powerful. Not all Christians. Only the charismatics. We should have realized God was preparing us for battle. The world is becoming a sea of filth. Humanity is turning against real Christians. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the imbalance in power would put a quick end to us, and to God’s assault on Satan’s kingdom.

Now we have homosexual “pastors.” Not just the closeted kind we’re used to seeing. They are out in the open. We have “scholars” who twist scripture in order to justify perversion. The Old Testament and the New Testament condemn homosexual activity, and contrary to what the revisionists say, the criticism isn’t just directed to acts performed in rituals. It is a blanket condemnation.

It’s surprising, but it’s starting to look like this is going to be one of the biggest weapons that will be used against us when martyrdom returns. When unbelievers gas us and shoot us and loot our homes, this will be one of their excuses. Many of them will call themselves “Christians,” and they’ll say they’re doing God’s work. I guarantee it.

Do I hate gays? Of course not. Could anyone hate Nathan Lane or that kid who played Doogie Howser? I know some people feel visceral anger because other people are having gay sex. I don’t feel that way. When I was young, I thought homosexuality was perfectly fine. I have never felt rage toward gays. I admit, homosexuality can be funny, and the picture of two men entwined in passion will always be amusing to me, but that’s not hate.

Gays themselves realize how funny they can be, as The Bird Cage and Will & Grace prove. They joke about themselves constantly. Joking about feeling gay in a fabric store is not evidence of hate.

That doesn’t matter. People who point these things out will be told that the issue of whether a joke is hate depends on who made it. By that standard, all Christians (real Christians who do not endorse homosexuality) will be considered guilty, and persecution will be excused and encouraged. The presumption of guilt will not be rebuttable.

Here’s a funny thing about causes. People use them to justify cruelty and viciousness. Think of the PETA nuts who throw blood on women. Lots of people are against harming animals, but only a few use that conviction as an excuse to cause suffering. Homosexual rights constitute a cause, and that cause is already being used to ground hateful words and actions. It will get worse.

Today someone pointed out a scripture to me. Revelation 21:6. In it, God tells us the cowardly will “have their part” in hell, which is a lake of burning brimstone. Who are the cowards these days? Seeker-sensitive Christians. The people who let homosexuality (and positive thinking and cult methods and greed and…) into the church.

That’s sobering.

Hell is a hard thing to understand. The Bible doesn’t speak clearly about it. We know it exists. We know certain supernatural beings will be tormented in it forever. We know ordinary people will be placed there. What isn’t clear to me is whether it’s permanent for everyone. The Jews believe hell is a place where people go to be cleansed, and that we will not be punished forever. I’m inclined to believe that, and it makes me think there will probably be many self-proclaimed Christians there.

We know God punishes Christians. The Rapture will only take some of us, and the rest will be here during the Tribulation, when God’s ameliorating presence will be gone from the earth. If God would permit that, I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say some of us will suffer after we die.

If that’s right, it would make sense of Revelation 21:6.

In any case, you don’t want to be cowardly. Displeasing God and helping his enemies are bad things to do, with serious consequences for you and your house. The world is rapidly polarizing, and you don’t want to end up on the wrong side. God is the worst enemy you can imagine. There is absolutely nothing you can do to escape his anger, if he is determined to make you suffer.

How are we going to stand, when society changes and we are seen as parasites and troublemakers? When our Kristallnacht comes, how will we get the courage to affirm our Christianity before the mobs?

The answer is the Holy Spirit. He puts God’s character in us, little by little, as we pray in tongues, fast, read the word, and strive to listen and obey. Peter denied Jesus three times, after seeing him work miracles. That was before he received the fulness of the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, he became a different man. He watched the Romans crucify his wife, and then he followed her, and all he had to do to survive was to renounce Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit could account for the change in him.

You can’t stand without the weapons and armor of God, and if you check the book of Ephesians, where these things are described, you will see that it refers to prayer in the Spirit. If you were born brave, that’s wonderful, but most people aren’t like that. God’s help is available, and we are expected–required–to accept it.

These things may sound crazy. So be it. I’m going to die, and it’s not going to be that long, because I’m already middle-aged. I can’t concern myself unduly with what people think of me here on earth. I have my future to think about. You are dying, too. You need to ask yourself how much you are willing to pay for temporary peace and approval from misguided human beings.

Corruption is already in the Spirit-filled churches. We teach greed and pride as though they were virtues. Other garbage will creep in through the cracks we have already made. One of these days, we’re going to see someone like Joel Osteen stand up and say he was wrong about gays or abortion or some similar issue. People who want to fill stadiums (and their pockets) will make up whatever lies they have to. They never cared about the flock. The desperation that drives them will eventually take control, unless they get into the Spirit.

Joshua was given to us as a symbol of Spirit-filled believers. He went forward to possess his inheritance–his place in the Promised Land–and before he did, he said this: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” You are going to make a choice, even if you do so by refusing to choose. You will be rewarded, with good or evil, depending on that choice. I say go forward with the Spirit. You can’t make it on your own, no matter how many positive thinking preachers you listen to.

Let the dogs bark. What’s right is right, and foolishness will not stand forever. Better to be slandered and insulted now, by simpletons, than to be blamed justly by God himself.

Homosexuality is wrong. If that looks like hate to you, it’s in your mind, not my heart. I don’t hate gays, gamblers, drunks, prostitutes, the greedy, the gluttonous, potheads, or anyone else who harms himself through iniquity. Believe it or don’t. God shares his power and his help with me every day, and he helps others through me. I am not giving that up so I can be your pal.