***DISCLAIMER: This entry is intended to be a humorous look at the endless differences in religions that claim to adhere to the same set of singular beliefs. It is not intended to offend, just to be funny. It's written with a heavy hand of hyperbole, please read it that way.***
Confess all sins without ceasing, but only to a priest. Never confess to anyone other than God, but go through Jesus except if the committed sin is one of the Ten Commandments. In this case, bypass the middle man and go straight to God. Lesser sins need only to be confessed yearly under a generic umbrella term (jealousy, gossip, flatulance, etc.). All sin is equal in the eyes of God, but there are levels of sin. Repentance is achieved by sincerely and humbly requesting forgiveness. Forgiveness is NEVER granted without first paying penance, it is only given when the sinner confesses in their heart, except in cases where verbal penance is required. Confession must coincide with actions to prove you're making an effort to not become ensnared in a spiritual game of Double Jeopardy. Verbal and spiritual confession is more than enough, actions will naturally follow suite. Sin is like devouring a salty, crisp potato chip in that once you start, you can't stop. Divine intervention is the singular method for overcoming sin unless you are able to achieve inner peace and enlightenment on your own. This insight is often demonstrated by a sudden urge to spout such trite truisms as, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll be among the stars."
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an inward sign of personally accepting Christ's salvation. Being slain in the spirit is an outward sign of Christ's work in your heart; it's mandatory for salvation as it demonstrates a true rebirth. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is evidenced by a strong emotional and spiritual guardianship and guidance; there are no outward signs. While spiritual baptism is a nice thing to experience and serves to deepen one's relationship with the Holy Trinity, it is not required for eternal salvation. However, an eternal lake of fire awaits those who cannot speak in other tongues and physically participate in the alter call, where the Holy Ghost is most prevalent. Spiritual indwelling can occur during communal prayer, but typically the dove of the Holy Spirit comes to us in our moments of solitude and peace. The Holy Ghost is most readily available for demonstrative incarnations when two or more believers are gathered together in the name of the Holy Trinity. If you do not experience a burning in your bosom and an out of body experience, you have been misled in the ways of the spirit. You must demand to be physically slain in the Pentecost movement; God enjoys the seeking aspect of proverbially knocking on the door of Heaven and petitioning for a bodily experience. Only meekness will be rewarded, never demand anything of the Holy Trinity. Rather, humbly beg to be made good enough to deserve a taste of the Holy Ghost. Just know that you'll never be good enough.
Water baptism is a must, unless you're a 3rd world country resident as Christ doesn't expect his followers to immerse themselves in dysentery. Alaskans are also exempt. After accepting Christ's salvation as your personal gift and way of life, you must immediately be baptized. Baptism is not on a timetable, as long as you believe in the sanctity of the act, you have time to schedule baptism. If you die before you're baptized but after you've professed Christianity, other living Christians can baptize in your memory. Without baptism before death, you will go straight to hell, unless you go to purgatory and earn your way into heaven. You can never earn your way into heaven, you are not worthy. The only entrance into heaven is through personal salvation. Baptism is required in conjunction with salvation. In order to best avoid eternal damnation, baptize all infants as soon as they enter the world, but do so by sprinkling blessed holy water over their heads. Never baptize an infant since they have no idea what is being done or why. Baptism will be rendered null and void if the baptisee is not of the age of reckoning (12 unless you're Roman Catholic or Mormon or were born during leap year on leap day) and is not fully submerged in a baptismal fount. Any watering hole will due: a neighbor's bathtub, a creek, or the decorative fountain in the central mezzanine of the local mall, but only if the attached statutes have their lady bits appropriately covered.
The pastor/priest/elders of the congregation are the direct mouthpiece for God. As the spiritually appointed Shepherd of the Church, their job is to interpret the Holy Bible and make it accessible to laymen. No one speaks for God, he has spoken through the Holy Bible; his word is clear and concise. Men are fallible, and as such, any attempt at interpretation is inherently flawed. Christ has authorized these holy men to speak, pray, heal, and forgive on his behalf by breathing the literal spirit of heaven into them. This spiritual marriage is the epitome of theological education, no formal training is required. Man is a damaged, imperfect creature unable to fully comprehend the full splendor of God. Intense biblical curriculum is necessary to train the human mind in understanding spiritual laws. It is best if marriage is avoided by these leaders so there are no earthly distraction from their heavenly calling. Marriage and family serve to strengthen a man and provide daily insight into the typical life of the masses making him accessible to the general public. Women are the helpmates of men, they should never lead a congregation. Women are typically tenderhearted and in tune with their emotional epicenter. As such, they are perfect for teaching God's word. A woman's compassion ministers to the very core of her congregation, except to the men who are too busy lusting after her
lovely lady lumps and envisioning her in the way David envisioned Bathsheba, if you catch my drift.
Monday, June 3, 2013
I live in Oklahoma. I grew up in Moore, I work in Oklahoma City. Tornado season is something I’m very familiar with; growing up, we learned to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Over the years as multiple tornadoes blew through the landscape of my home, I watched as my hometown was destroyed time and again. And afterwards, every time, we rebuilt. As a child, I never understood why so many out-of-staters angrily asked us why we continued to live in Tornado Alley. As an adult, I asked the same question, eventually leaving for a few years. Last October, my husband and I returned to Oklahoma. In the ensuing 8 months, we’ve experienced 6 earthquakes and 3 major F4/F5 tornadoes, 1 of which has been dubbed the worst in recorded history. As we watched our state ripped to shreds, we asked ourselves again, “Why are we here?”
I’m here because it’s my home. I’ve lived most of my life in the Texas Oklahoma/Oklahoma Texas region, claiming allegiance to both states at various times. But the truth is, there’s not much difference between the two states; both are mid-Southern, down home, and simple. They are full of good people who love whole-heartedly. I’ve lived outside of the South, and there are certainly wonderful people everywhere, but here in the Heartland there’s a sense of grassroots, salt-of-the-earth camaraderie.
Certainly this feeling of home, of belonging, is magnified during times of tragedy. Our fortitude was tested, our collective spirit fractured during the horror of the Murrah bombing and again during the devastation of the 1999 and 2013 tornadoes. And each time, the people of Oklahoma cried, asked why, dug our heels in and refused to be defeated. Unfortunately, these sad experiences aren’t limited to rare occurrences in Oklahoma. But, there’s something special in this red dirt. There’s something straight-forward, a genuine redemptive quality, that tells us and the entire world that better times are coming.
It’s the steely calm in the eyes of the families determined to not be uprooted. It’s the volunteers and donations pouring in so quickly, and in such huge quantities, that Red Cross is forced to call in additional workers to handle the avalanche of help. It’s the 2nd grader who busts open his piggy bank to donate 5 dollars worth of pennies to the Samaritan’s Purse. It’s the unrelenting faith in the basic goodness of people. It’s the neighbors who spend hours cutting down debris and sorting through what remains of a child’s bedroom so the parents don’t have to face that sadness alone. It’s the local businesses that stay open 24 hrs to deliver hot, free meals to everyone affected by the tornadoes. It’s the sense that when you’re in Oklahoma, you’re family.
It’s the way the typical Oklahoman looks forward to the coming dawn because we know the best is yet to be.