The OCeeker ain't quite sure if a 4.1-magnitude earthquake in the house o'God qualifies as a sign or a wonder, but when that bad boy hit after a Pentecostal preacher said America is fucked 'cuz we've left God, well, that'll get a backslidin' man's attention.
And so it went on a recent Wednesday evening when your sanctified scribe visited Spirit and Truth Worship Center in Orange.
Located on the eastside of the city, Spirit and Truth is a Pentecostal Apostolic
church made up mostly of Pentecostalocos who believe full salvation comes through repentance, baptism in water by immersion in the name of Christ
, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost
, with the sign of speaking in strange tongues as confirmation. In other words, if you can't spit praise a la Das EFX
, you're screwed.
June 15, 7:30 p.m.
A couple things right off the bat. First, the OCeeker missed the entire worship set (if they had one) because he intended to visit another church, but apparently they don't meet where they said they meet, and the handsome one wound up walking in on a ladies' prayer meeting.
Second, if ye heathen want to visit Spirit and Truth, just know that it's in a Mexi-hood, and them people don't like to use crosswalks. The OCeeker dang-near took out a couple of culos on his way to worship.
Spirit and Truth meets in a well-lit and comfy sanctuary with cushioned, wine-colored seats that spread in a semi-circle between tan and white walls. Behind the pulpit stands a couple of White House-looking columns, and large screens display the message, for the lazy-like who can't be bothered to bring a Bible.
Already in the middle of his homily, Pastor Tom Copple preached on 2 Corinthians 12:10, which reads: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
Copple, a handsome fella of middle age, with black hair and some sorta drawl, girded himself in a grey suit and yellowish shirt as he talked about the "theology of weakness," basically saying that God's grace is revealed, not in the do-it-yourself saint, but in the spirit of a broken and contrite believer.
He immediately went old-skool, as the congregation shouted their affirmations, taking them back to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve drew a curse down on the family of man, after disobeying God's orders not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (By the way, ye heathen, there's no mention of apples in the Genesis account.) For that move, God promised that the earth would yield thorns and thistles, and that man would have to work by the sweat of his brow to provide for himself. Thanks a lot, assholes.
"It's clear we're a long way from Eden," Copple said.
Amen. Or, as the congregation of Spirit and Truth would say, "Oh me."
Copple said because of the fall of man, God always weaves thorns and thistles into the fabric of life. Indeed, Copple said, the curse can be seen in our relationships, our careers and even our health. Shit wasn't supposed to be like this, ye heathen. But why the curse, God?
"In order to drive us to our knees to seek him and recognize our need for a savior," Copple said.
The preacher said that too many times during difficult days, we seek to anesthetize the pain instead of seeking God.
"Whenever you go through a trial, you need to ask God the question, 'what are you trying to teach me?'" he said.
Yeah you, shook me all night long
Copple said many are angry at God over unanswered prayers or not ruling the world in a way they think is wise. And in a twist that seemed to summon heaven, he said some wonder why America is out of whack.
"America is in trouble for one reason," Copple said. "We've taken the 10 Commandments out of our schools. We can pray at a City Council meeting and I do it, (but) it's against the law to mention the name of Jesus. America's in trouble because we've walked away from God. And the only answer for America is for us to be broken in our prayer and to pray in a great awakening in this last hour, and brothers and sisters that's what I'm giving my life to."
And I shit ye not my disciples, the OCeeker heard a calamity in the rafters, and felt a rumbling under his ass. Most of the roughly 75 Mexi-costals (the majority appearing under 40 years old, none with gunz!) turned to each other to confirm that the Lord had just given his blessing. Indeed he did, in the form of a bowel-shaking earthquake of doubt and remorse. They applauded.
Copple chuckled and asked if everybody was ready for heaven.
He then segued seamlessly into his own failures and shortcomings, saying that when one gets close to him, one will see him, warts and all. But people can identify with those who keep it real, Copple said. Prideful people repel others from the grace of God, he said.
According to Copple, brokenness is not a bad thing, and God uses it to bless others.
"What might be the gift of handicap that God has given you?" he asked.
Uh, fathomless charm and good looks that beset a fella with women?
Copple wrapped up his message by showing Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son, which relates the story of a loving father embracing his repentant child, while his other son looks on in disgust.
The painting, as did Christ's parable, illustrates, for those wayward saints, the character of a God who embraces the contrite, and the blindness of a man filled with spiritual pride.
The OCeeker gave the sermon three out of five altars. An able teacher with a heart for his people, Copple delivered the refreshing grace of God to those wandering in the spiritual desert.
Spirit and Truth Worship Center meets every Sunday at 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m., and every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at 4700 E. Walnut Ave., Orange, (714) 771-7490; www.spiritandtruth.net