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In the House of my Friends

November 5th, 2017

With Christian Brothers Like These, who Needs Pagans?

It is Sunday morning, and I am not at church. Praise the Lord.

I suppose I sound cynical. In reality, I would like to attend church. I’ve been looking around online. I say, “Praise the Lord,” because I’ve been part of two cults in a row, and I’m glad I’m not currently being mistreated and milked by any preachers.

Marion County is filled with churches. It seems like everyone I meet is a Christian. That’s the reason the people here are so nice. I’m surrounded by churches, which is good, but I still have to be careful. I can’t just flop down in a chair in the first church I see, because I run the risk of being pumped full of greed-based Joel Osteen/T.D. Jakes/Benny Hinn/Paula White nonsense. Did I mention enough preachers by name? I want to offend as many people as I can.

I look at websites. I rule out all the websites that say, “We believe every individual is filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment he accepts Jesus.” That’s code for, “We can’t get the baptism with the Holy Spirit, so we pretend it doesn’t exist.” I rule out the “Jesus is cool” churches. If I wanted to go to church with confused non-black kids who dress and act like rappers, I’d go back to Miami. And tattoo preachers…no. If you got tattoos before you were saved, and now you can’t afford to remove them, fine, but if you seriously believe God wants you to look like the funny papers, you are way out of God’s will, and if I get around you, I will expect to be taught lies and possibly chastised for not “sanctioning your buffoonery” (to steal a line from Tommy Lee Jones).

I reject all churches that say members have to tithe. Tithing is for Jews, not Christians. Any church that gets excited about tithing is run by a pastor who is a) afraid God will let him go broke, or b) obsessed with money.

I saw a church with a site that advertised the importance of keeping the Sabbath. Not for me. The Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday, and Gentiles have never been required to observe it. It’s a Jewish thing. It’s great to set aside a day for God, but pretending it’s the Sabbath, or claiming we are required to do it, is legalism and possibly replacement theology.

My plan, as I have said before, is to sit in the back, give just enough money to pull my weight, and be quiet. No volunteering. No church office for me. I want to meet Christians, but I don’t want to get into any more squabbles with carnal preachers and their spoiled wives or kids. I never want to feel that I can’t go home at a moment’s notice, or that I have to refrain from speaking the truth in order to avoid offending a preacher who is driven by greed or pride.

I saw a place that doesn’t look too bad, but they had a video of a lady screaming and waving her arms because…Holy Spirit. That’s not how it works. God doesn’t take away your self-control. The devil does. Self-control is listed in the Bible as a fruit of the Spirit. If you’ve ever been “slain in the Spirit” and rolled on the floor at church, you need to know that God didn’t make you do it.

I just had a thought. Imagine visiting heaven. Suppose God takes you up and shows you what happens there. You look out over the host of angels and the saved human beings…and they’re all screaming like monkeys, waving their arms and legs, and rolling on the ground.

Really?

Is heaven a mental ward?

If you wave your arms and scream in church, it’s not God. You’re just that kind of person.

Prayer in tongues sounds silly, and it’s normal to react to God’s presence with some odd facial expressions and semi-involuntary sounds. That ought to suffice. You don’t need to do the gator.

In all likelihood, I will not find a church that doesn’t have significant problems. I do hope God leads me to one that isn’t completely nuts.

Things are going well between God and me here at home. God keeps showing me things. And he does some impressive deeds. Remember how I burned myself and then had the blister disappear? It appears to be happening again. I keep finding new ways to burn myself on chainsaws. Yesterday I learned that you can burn yourself on the chain. I started a saw and ran it a little bit to warm it up, and then I tried to sharpen it. I grabbed the chain to move it forward, and a searing, inexplicable pain shot up my thumb. I let go and looked. My thumb was burned. Dang it. How do you prevent injuries when you don’t know they can happen in the first place? I didn’t know saw chains could get hot.

I work very hard to protect myself. I study tool safety. I read up on poison ivy. I wear pretty decent protective clothing and gear. When I cut trees, I do my best to figure out which way they’ll go after they’re severed, and I prepare. Then I burn myself on a saw chain. Come on. Is that even fair?

Anyhow, I kept working, and I prayed and commanded my flesh to be healed and so on. I kept thanking God. Over the day, the pain decreased. By the time I went to bed, the burned area seemed flatter and less messed up. I checked it just now, and I had to look for it. I am hoping the healing continues.

I am not satisfied to leave it as it is. Should I grovel and drool and stop praying? Should I say I’m so grateful for what I have, I should be ashamed to ask for more? In short, no. If I did that, the primary reasons would be laziness and lack of faith. I don’t want to spend the day praying and thanking and so on, because I’m lazy, and I’m afraid God won’t finish the job, because I lack faith. The thing to do is to keep going forward and see that God gets as much glory as possible, even if I’m perfectly content with what has already happened.

Jesus didn’t do any half-healings.

Interesting thing…I told my friend Amanda about the other blister that healed, and not long after that, she burned herself. She fought it supernaturally, and it went away. No mark. No blister. How about that?

My character is still disappointing. That’s to be expected. I made self-corruption my special project for half a century, and I did a great job. God has definitely improved me, however, and I look forward to being substantially less contemptible.

My friend Mike is coming down tomorrow to spend a few days. I look forward to that because Mike knows a lot about construction, and I want him to fix my chicken house for nothing he’s a good friend, and I haven’t seen him in a while. He lived near Ocala for a long time. He and his dad raised racehorses. He loves this place and wants to move back. He’ll be beside himself the whole time he’s here. He’ll get to have Krystals and Sonny’s BBQ. He’ll get to go to Rural King. Maybe I’ll let him drive the tractor. No, I think I’ll just let him sit in the seat with the ignition off and go “VROOM VROOM.”

Along with Amanda, Mike has been very helpful with my turbulent Ocala transition. They disagree on one issue, however, and that is the goat question. I would like to have a couple of goats here to eat weeds. Mike thinks it’s a good idea. When I mention it to Amanda, her head spins 720 degrees and flames shoot out of her eye sockets.

I think she’s against it.

We will agree on a few things, however. Sonny’s. Krystal. Rural King. Sonic. Carhartt. Mike-Sell’s Puffcorn Delites. We agree that Miami is a swollen can of pus.

Next weekend, I am virtually certain to be in Miami. Disgusting. Has to be done, however. Miami, like a colonoscopy, is one of those things that has to be confronted head-on. So to speak. I hope I’m not there long enough to let the stink rub off on me.

I have to paint a rental condo. If things go really badly, this is a six-hour job. I know that from experience. The materials cost eighty bucks. Possibly a hundred, if I need primer. The slackjaws in Miami want $2000 for this service. Unacceptable. I’ve painted many condos, and I can’t stomach that price. I figure I’ll paint as much of it as I can, and then even if I have to pay someone to finish it, they’ll be ashamed to charge me a lot.

Well, let’s be serious. It’s hard to shame a slackjaw.

The tree removal work is going well here, but I can see that I’m not going to get the county to move much of the debris. It would take me months to get it to the highway, and I have only weeks.

Yesterday I cut a couple of big oaks that fell by my fence. I cut one section about seven feet long and two feet thick. I tried to roll it onto the timberjack so I could cut it in pieces that might be small enough for the tractor to carry, but I couldn’t do it. I’ll be more accurate here: I could not do it at a level of exertion I considered safe. I refuse to exert myself hard enough to injure myself. I push to something like 75% of my capacity, and after that, I figure it’s time for a helper or a new tool. I don’t want artificial hips or knees, and I don’t want a bad back.

I have a number of oaks just as heavy as the one I worked on yesterday, so progress will be slow. Maybe there’s a better machine for the job. I could rent something once I have all the wood cut up. I should look into that.

I think it’s time to consider the unthinkable: serious exercise. I may get some weights. I don’t want to be so flubbery and soft I get hurt easily. My current workout is paying off about a hundred times as well as expected. I operate one exercise bike with my hands and another with my feet, for a weekly total of about half an hour. Unlike the rest of humanity, I am treated to a full view of myself in the bathroom mirror as I get into and out of the shower, and I am not the same person I was three months ago. But weights would be much better for strength.

I have a Bowflex, which is a fine machine for lazy people who are happy with moderate improvement (me), but I don’t know if it’s possible to get real strength out of it. I have not tried lately. I need to move it out of the garage. I forgot to have the movers (slackjaws par excellence) do it.

In the past, I refused to think about resuming weight training because I was so lazy I knew I would not persist. Now, however, I am getting used to a higher level of mandatory activity, and lifting weights a few times a week would not be much of an increase.

I have to move logs. I have to lift full fuel containers and hold them while I fuel machinery. A little extra strength would be helpful.

When I was in law school, I was pretty sturdy. I maxed out all the machines at the University of Miami Wellness Center. Now I feel like it’s a victory when it only takes me three tries to get out of a chair.

One great thing about exercise equipment is that it’s cheap. Very few people buy it and the use it. Generally, it ends up being used to hold clothing on hangers. I should be able to do quite well on Craigslist for a couple of hundred bucks.

I better get with it. The day is slipping away, in spite of the death of Daylight Saving Time.

Hope your Sunday is going well.

7 Responses to “In the House of my Friends”

  1. Cliff Elam Says:

    I lift 2-3 times a week, for about 35-40 minutes, at the Y using free weights. I’m not Adonis (just ask my wife) but I have a good frame for muscles – not the bulgy kind, unfortunately.

    I can bench press >300lbs, etc. I’m not making much progress beyond that, but I am >50 and don’t expect to get stronger, just to stay strong enough.

    You don’t need $3K worth of weights – I could outfit a home gym with one bench, 1,000 lbs of weights, and a rack of dumb-bells that go from 10-75lbs, and two bars.

    Like you, I do my leg work on a bike – I think that is safest for older knees, though I also run some.

    FYI, your “max exertion” level is smart, smart, smart. It takes forever to recover even a simple muscle pull. Pop a bursa and enjoy a year of slow recovery.

    -XC

  2. Stephen Says:

    Return of the strikethrough. Puts me in mind of Acidman.

  3. Scott P Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I agree that tithing is not a requirement for salvation, and like you I reject anyone who attempts to link the two, However, I’ve never heard a Christian (that I respect anyway) say that Christians are not subject to what the Bible says about tithing in Malachi 3, for example. Can I ask what do you base your belief on? If you don’t want to talk about it publicly, that’s fine, I was just a bit surprised to hear you say that. Thanks!

  4. Ken Says:

    You got a tractor, a length of nylon strap. All you need is a ‘wedge or ramp’ made of wood. Get a 6 foot length of 4×4, Cut one side so you remove a tapered piece that is 3 inches thick at one end, and goes to nothing 3 feet away.

    Now you got a 4×4 that tapers from half an inch thickness at one end, to a full thickness at the 3 foot point. Understand?

    Chainsaw or your bandsaw would be ideal to cut it.

    Loop your strap around the end of the log, place the ramp about half way down the length of the trunk; you want it a little bit off center so the heavy/longer end is still on the ground.

    Pull the log up on the ramp with the Kubota. Probably helps to use some of the cut off portion as a stop so you don’t pull the log off the end of the ramp.Use some of the rest to make a wood stake you drive into the ground at the full size end of the ramp, so it doesn’t move while you’re tugging the log. Small piece like a door stop under the other side so it doesn’t roll back down the ramp.

    Now you got one end of the log about 6 inches off the ground. Go at it with the chainsaw. Always cut so you’re standing on the same side as the stop, if you get stupid and work from the other side, good chance the log will roll back down the ramp and crush you….

    Once you get it down to a 4 foot length or so, might be able to use the peavy/log roller on it. Or just move the ramp and pull the log up on it again.

    You can make the ramp out of anything you got, doesn’t have to be a 4×4. Use your imagination. Just make it strong enough that it doesn’t collapse while you got the saw in the kerf….

    Instead of the organized religion fairy tales, I’ve used the Golden Rule for the last 50+ years. And because I’m pretty much the only one around here that does that, I avoid contact with all the religious or non-religious sub-humans, because their only interest in me is for their benefit, not mine.

    When they find out I have one of the world’s largest collection of tools and know how to use them, they want me or my tools to help them. But when I ask for their help, they’re always too busy…jerks.

    You were actually a lot more of an interesting read during the Hog on Ice days. You had a real talent for coming up with a memorable phrase.

    Like during ‘Puffinton’s Toast’ when you were writing about politicians being puppets and you didn’t envision yourself putting your arm up their butt to work the mouth because ‘you didn’t know him that well’. Now that’s a great line!

    Had another Baptist church shooting in San Antonio Texass just now; more true believers not using the Golden Rule….

  5. Steve H. Says:

    Malachi was an Old Testament prophet who spoke to Jews who were under the Mosaic law. That law applied to Jews only. Never Gentiles. Aside from that, once the law was fulfilled on the cross, all believers were obligated to obey the Holy Spirit, not the Jewish law.

    I’ve known all sorts of people who believed preachers who said Malachi’s promise guaranteed that tithers would have no financial problems. On the other hand, I’ve known a lot of people who tithed and made offerings and got nowhere financially.

    If Malachi’s promises applied to us, tithers would not lose their jobs and houses, but they do.

    Malachi 3 does make one group of people rich: preachers.

  6. Scott P Says:

    I’ve been doing some reading about the end Mosaic law. Interesting stuff, and apparently I’m such a heathen I was unfamiliar with it. In your mind, what is an appropriate level of giving for Christians?

  7. Steve H. Says:

    I don’t want to replace a law with a new law.

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