Revelation – Doctrines of Men

I have been blessed over the years to have been surrounded by a cloud of witnesses through social media, who in ordinary times uplift me with their sharing of faith, open my eyes to new understanding, correct me when I falter. They are people of all different denominational backgrounds, all different personal backgrounds, and even from around the world. In recent times, I have been further blessed to have the opportunity to listen to a multitude of sermons and Christian teaching each week. God‘s ways are indeed strange and wondrous.

Yet, I have still found myself struggling in multiple areas of my life these last several months. Most of it comes back to a yearning to see God more clearly in my life and the life of those around me. Some of it comes back to fighting my own sins. Not the same sins as I used to fight, but new sins, like sitting here repenting tonight because I have not fulfilled my promise to God regarding writing. Not only have I not fulfilled it, I have failed more than once, in a brief time. And yet, I have made it a point over the last few years to learn not to say anything when I don’t have anything worthwhile to say.

In truth, these last two weeks, that has been the biggest bar to keeping that promise. I have looked at the world of politics and felt increasing dismay. Those with far larger audiences and far greater eloquence have been speaking to the things that have dismayed me, and it seemed wearying to beat those same points into the ground when I couldn’t imagine anyone was actually going to listen, to them, or to me. I have looked at the world in general and felt increasing dismay. Violence is continuing to rise. The police who serve and protect have become targets more and more frequently. Foreign powers continue to threaten. I look at my own life, and again feel increasing dismay. Between plumbing issues, a sudden new leak in the roof, computers being finicky, and finances going a little sideways again as a result of being distracted and trying to fix all those things, I just want to lay down in my bed for the next year or two, and come out once the implosion of the world is done.

I gotta say, if you think that sounds like the beginning of depression, you’re probably right. I’m working on that. Depression is an extremely abnormal state of mind for me. And one I do not tolerate well. And yet, as I said, God is strange and wondrous in His ways, and even in my disobedience, even in this momentary faltering of faith that has allowed joy to slip and something else to creep into my mind, He provides.

As I contemplated what to write tonight, after watching the debate from last night and overloading on political commentary today. After listening to three outstanding sermons over the course of the last couple days. After going to four separate meetings, brief though one was, this week, after weeks of not doing those sorts of things. I wondered. What do I have to say? What, in this state of doom and gloom in my heart and in the world, what possible words could God want me to utter?

And it hit me. He’s been telling me for days, weeks, maybe even months. One pastor preached on joy this week, my favorite of all the fruit of the Spirit. And protecting our joy, by relying on God. Another preached on the power of God. Another preached on the power of prayer. Our prayer path, three years in the making, was finally completed at church Sunday afternoon this past week.

In all the people I have known and sermons I have watched there are some themes that come up often that I do not hear much of in the Methodist church. One of those themes is the power of strongholds. The theme of supernatural battles raging between power and principalities that ripple through the world. The theme that we are in the end times, and the day is drawing near.

That last one, I’m always a little twitchy about. Not because I don’t believe such a time will come. Or even because the particular denomination I am part of doesn’t usually look at the world that way. It is actually because of two things. First, I believe we’ve been in the last days since the time of Christ’s ascension. So, on the one hand I think they’re absolutely right, but on the other I don’t think the time is yet identifiable when that absolute last day is going to come. The other is because those same people have affirmed for me over the years that I have a prophetic gift. And that gift does not show me the return of the king happening just around the corner. It shows me a cloudy future, in a moment of choosing for the church in our nation and the nation itself. It shows me a time of decision, and until that decision comes, the outcome won’t come clear.

As you might imagine, having that certainty in my head makes watching the polling and commentary going on on both sides of the Presidential elections make me a little twitchy. I look and hear echoes of the passage one of those pastors was preaching tonight, Second Timothy where Paul is telling Timothy that in the last days, men will be lovers of themselves and their money. They will be boastful, arrogant, abusive, slanderous, blasphemous, without self-control. Having the appearance of Godliness but denying it’s power. There’s a much longer list, but you get the gist. It says that in those days, men will despise truth. They will refuse sound teaching and build up for themselves people who will tickle their itching ears with pleasant lies.

Does that sound familiar? Not just in politics, but in the world in general? Do you see my dilemma? I want to engage, to fight that malaise of sinfulness, but at the same time, it is so widespread. I am so small, poor, without power. It would be so very much easier to stay in my bed. Yet, I am drawn, I look at the polls, craving the next one to see if perhaps the world has suddenly come to its senses. That we as a nation have not really traveled so far down this road to damnation and misery.

And it hit me tonight. As another verse drifted up to my mind. Politics really is a lot like religion. This year moreso than many others, with as much wearing of faith on the sleeve has been going around. From Matthew 15 ”

8‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 9‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'”
It occurred to me tonight that this isn’t only applicable to church and religion, or those speaking of religion, when it comes to the doctrines and precepts of men. It applies to things like polls and punditry. It applies to things like common wisdom on political races. It applies to the words like inevitable and all the rest. They are precepts and doctrines of men. True only so long as they are not challenged. Propagated to discourage us from seeking the author of our faith.
Christ praying in Gethsemane, 1888
Christ praying in Gethsemane, 1888 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have decided tonight that I’m going to change my approach to this whole election thing, and hopefully the rest of what’s been weighing on me these days. I forgot who God was. I forgot how he told us to deal with the times of unsound teachings and throwing down strongholds and doctrines of men. I forgot too that prayer, when the evil is really strong, has to be more than just that simple running conversation I have with God, or the brief times of concentrated prayer. It needs to involve deep crying out. It needs to involve kneeling and prostration. It needs to involve a heart ready to be turned to Him to seek His face.

While I’ll still probably be glued to the election results on primary nights. And I will indeed still speak in favor of Ted Cruz, and in favor of people educating themselves and engaging in the process. I’m giving up watching the polls. I refuse to click on another headline that tells me what men think will happen in the coming days. I will instead make use of the provision God has made for such a time as this.
Monday morning, I will be out at Ball Ground United Methodist to walk that prayer path seven times. Singing His praises, imploring His intervention. Calling on the power of a mighty God to save us if He can find any righteous men among us. Crying out for His hand to move mightily and defeat all the plans of men who worship Him in vain. I will pray for His mercy, though we deserve His judgement. I’ll be out there again Tuesday, praying for the primary elections that will be going on inside and around this state and several others. I will be praying for God’s will and His mighty, mighty hand. If you happen to be in North Georgia, and you believe in the power of prayer, and you don’t mind if God leads me to get a little loud and rowdy with those prayers, then I invite you to join me. I’ll be there about lunch time. In the meantime…
Pray always and glorify the Lord.

 

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