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A Prayer For Syria

John Collins09/04/2013

Video available here:

As I began to untangle my mind from the cult of William Branham and enter Christianity, I quickly realized that my life was a living example for other Christians of what NOT to do.  Unknowingly, and molded together with like minds in common beliefs, we had become the very thing that Paul warned us not to be.

Pride is a sin that is seldom mentioned in the cult of William Branham, and it is a sin that is very damaging to the people around you.  And while living what the cult taught as a “humble life,” you’ll quickly realize once deprogramming that we were quite the opposite.  The Christian life is far more difficult that cult life.

My pastor gave a sermon on Sunday on the type of Love God wants for His Church as described in 1 Corinthians 13:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

And through the course of this sermon, he pointed out a striking observation that had previously gone unnoticed in my understanding of scripture.  All of these attributes Paul mentions about “Love” are not adjectives pointing back to the word “love.”  These are actions pointing to our hearts.  We have to put our love into action, or we do not truly have love in our hearts.

If we are living, breathing examples of Christ, we will be patient towards others, even when they disagree.  We will be kind to others, even when they are firmly against us.  We will not show envy to another, which turns into covetousness.  But then, this morning, it hit me:  “It does not boast, it is not proud.”

I was reading in 1 Timothy 2 about how Paul tells us to pray for all people, and my mind drifted off to the Senate hearing yesterday about call to action in Syria for the slaughter of innocence.  Paul does not tell us to stand up with picket signs of opposition, and plaster our Facebook pages with hundreds of cartoons making President Obama look like a fool during this time of decision.

I thought about how wonderful our new church was, filled with people concerned enough to pray for those poor people in a far off and distant land – even though they have no idea who they are or what they believe.

Paul says we are to be in prayer, offering prayers of intercession for “all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way”

My mind went back to my cult life, and my cult belief system that was based around the idea that our cult leader could peer into the future.  Once he got the people to believe that he had this crystal ball in his mind, then everything the man said that could be twisted into some new idea became prophecy – even things that he never intended to be. 

Many of the fear tactics, taking aim at political unrest of the current events during his ministry have turned into prophecy for today.  When Russia was the threat, Branham warned to watch Russia, and we now have programmed minds driven by fear during every future national conflict looking for ways that Russia can become an enemy to bring death and destruction.

Once Russia was no longer the threat, Branham preached against those ministers who were speaking out against Russia – literally preaching against himself!  And with that, we have ministers of today doing the same – but they only do it after they are trapped into that same fear that Russia will bring impending doom.  During the unrest, they are trapped in fear.

But where is God in all of this?  Where are the churches filled with people on their knees, praying that Obama will make the right decision?  Where are the churches who are filled with people mourning over the thousands of innocent children that have been slain? 

Then, I thought about myself during times like these when I, too, was just like them.  I never once offered prayer for the leader.  I never thought one second about what it would be like to watch your small child inhale an innocent breath that would rip his life from his body.  I never offered prayer that our government would make decisions that would be pleasing before God.

Instead, my mind would focus on the negative.  I would think about things like Senator John McCain playing poker on his iPhone during the senate hearing, and offer my thoughts of condemnation towards his lack of concern.  All while I, myself, was showing no concern!

Our minds were programmed to make little things seem much bigger than they were, and while doing so, the big things were moving over our heads unnoticed.  Our focus was on our “little Bride,” not God’s children.  We looked at our small cult as the “chosen few” rather than looking at the world as opportunity filled with potential converts to Christ.

What if the entire nation fell to its knees and begged God for His Hand of mercy?  What if God chose to bring the entire nation of Syria to faith in Jesus Christ by the actions of our nation? 

I stand in repentance for my past.  For a time, after leaving the cult, I looked at the superficial sins that plagued my mind during my cult life as very damaging – and it was.  But it was damaging to myself.  How much worse was my sin of pride, which is damaging to those around us?

The first half of Timothy tells us that our prayers of intercession are not intended for uplifting ourselves, they are a loving hand reaching out to others.  That Hand reaching through prayer is far more powerful than our own outstretched hand.

Paul says that God desires all people to be saved.  Remember, Christ did not come to save the saved; He came to save the lost.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

1 Timothy 2:1-7

But again, something that I never noticed before in Scripture.  This that we read from Paul is in a letter, a letter sent to Timothy.  It was intended to read from start to finish – not simply taking a paragraph here or a paragraph there. 

Paul is speaking about calling on the Name of the mediator between God and Man, the man Christ Jesus.  He is telling us to humble our pride and offer prayers on the behalf of others.

And in the rest of this chapter, he continues that example, showing how we are supposed to eliminate all traces of pride from our lives.

Devious minds have twisted these things.  Branham followed the example of others, and made some of these statements out to be statements of sexual nature – which seems to be the case with many of the twisted scriptures.

But listen to the words of Paul, telling us about humility.  Let’s break it down, sentence by sentence:

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”

Notice the word “then,” connecting this to the first section of the chapter.  It continues the thought about praying the prayer of intercession for others.

Remember his words in Corinthians, “Love is patient, love is kind?”  Paul is telling us to put our love into action.  Do not argue, do not show anger, show love with hands of praise and prayers of faith!

“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,”

Paul just spoke to the men about their pride, now he speaks to the women.  That word “Likewise” joins the two sentences together.  As I speak to the men, “likewise” I speak to the women.

And notice while the Pentecostal movement teaches “modesty” as covering skin, Paul teaches modesty as avoiding pride.  He tells the women not to dress in gaudy, costly attire.  He even tells them not to braid their hair, which was a status symbol during the time this letter was written. 

In other words, do not present yourselves as better than others according to the custom of the world around you; lift others up above yourself!

He continues that exact thought in the next sentence:

“but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

Paul just told the women the very same thing that he told the men:  Put your Love into action!

The rest of the chapter gives a summary of the thought before proceeding into the qualifications for pastors.  It maintains the same focus on humility. 

Many cult pastors can quote this passage by heart, but have paid very little attention to the words preceding.  They teach this exactly as Paul has intended, word-for-word, continuing the thought of humility as it applies towards women:

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”

But ask yourselves this:  If they read this passage correctly, and as was intended, why do they twist the passage before into a sexual argument rather than pride?  And why do they ignore the beginning of this chapter?

Cult members will tell you that they do not ignore.  They will tell you that they read this, agree with this, and heed the words of Paul.

But like the chapter in Corinthians about Love, they believe this only by pointing to the words – not by putting it into action.  Like myself during my captivity, these passages were taught to apply to ourselves – not an action of Love towards others.  We were focusing on what made us happy in our way of life, not what we could do to uplift others and humble ourselves.

I beg you to put all of this aside for the time being.  Forget what we’ve been taught, and think of the world around you.  Think of the mothers ripped from their homes as they make their exodus as refugees from a land where evil has started to reign.  Think of the fathers, not knowing how to provide from their family as they leave their way of life behind.

Let’s offer prayers on their behalf.  Let’s not look at ourselves as the “eye” of the Body while looking at other Christians as the “dirty foot.”  Without the feet, the eye cannot be carried and put into action.

And let’s remember that the “action” should be Love.