Online Christianity (Or Not)

Share JesusHave you ever opened your email or logged on to your Facebook feed, only to be confronted with one of these messages:

Jesus said, “If  you deny Me, I will deny you before My Father in Heaven.” If you love Jesus, forward this. 97% won’t do this.

My goodness! So my standing with God hinges on whether or not I play the Internet game of “pass it on?” That’s kinda cool, I guess. Manipulative, perhaps, until I realize the liberating idea that I can ignore the Lord’s claims on my personal behavior, forget about daily time in prayer and Scripture, and stop believing that I’m a  representative of Him to all the people (Christian and non-Christian) who watch my life. What could be easier?
Lots of people could forward that quick paragraph without letting the Holy Spirit confront them with sin in their lives or call them to daily, life-long obedience. Actually, I’ve received this same message, years ago, from someone who left the father of her children (whom she’d never married), and was living with a boyfriend (whom she didn’t intend to marry), and who adamantly insisted that there was no standard of right and wrong (except for the wrong that had been done to her, of course). But hey, she forwarded the  email, so she wasn’t denying Christ…right?
Except Jesus wasn’t addressing His words to people who sat at their computers, poising their mouse pointers over a forward button or a Facebook “share” button. He was speaking to people whom He expected to live according to His standards, even when doing so meant ridicule, persecution or death. He was speaking to men who became martyrs who chose to die rather than publicly deny their faith in Jesus. In the First Century, declaring that Jesus was Lord constituted treason against Caesar, and very often resulted in cruel and barbaric executions.
In 21st Century America (so far) the stakes aren’t that high, but we can still deny Him in serious ways. Do we laugh at off-color jokes, or do we stand against them? Do we go to chat rooms and fail to mention that we’re married? Do we have “under the table” jobs to avoid paying taxes? And do we talk openly about the Lord when others are mocking Him and denigrating His standards?
As I’ve said repeatedly in this blog, real persecution isn’t that distant anymore. Our small compromises today, if we don’t repent of them, could indicate that we’ll make big compromises tomorrow. When LGBTQ laws demand that  you teach your children to affirm same sex marriage as a moral right, will you faithfully show them that Scripture condemns homosexuality? When ISIS tells you that they’ll behead you unless you convert to Islam, will you declare allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ? Will you face suffering or death rather than deny Christ?
Don’t misunderstand. I’m all for using email and social media to proclaim my faith in the Lord. Perhaps I do it less than I should, afraid of social pressure. But when I do get around to making a stand online, I want to be more authentic than cutting-and-pasting a recycled email paragraph into my status update. Rather, I want to challenge others towards repentance and faith in Him. I want to show His transforming impact on how I live my life, so that He is glorified. And that takes more than transmitting pithy little sayings across the World Wide Web. It involves giving Him control of my life so that my conduct (online and offline) reflects Him.
Passing on an email is easy and painless. Standing for Jesus, however, is costly.

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Saturday Sampler: June 12 Through June 18

Three Little AngelsClint Archer, writing for Cripplegate, looks at seeker-sensitive preaching through two grids: Twitter and the book of Jonah. Intrigued? Then you might want to read  Tweet your testimony: a 5 word sermon.

What can a kayaking misadventure teach us about navigating through the increasing chaos in the world? At Growing4Life, Leslie writers Misplaced Confidence as a timely encouragement to Christians.

Writing in Pirate Christian Radio’s Messed Up Church blog, Matthew Garnett tackles the question: A “Personal Relationship With Christ — Burden or Biblical? Garnett gives a perspective that I’ve never considered before. His ideas definitely merit careful thought.

Michelle Lesley lists  12 Dos and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study for us. Her tips help us guard against mishandling and misapplying God’s Word. After all, why study the Bible in ways that don’t affect how we know and live for the Lord Jesus Christ?

Writing for Ligonier Ministries, Jeremy Pierre explains why God holds people accountable for Involuntary Sins.

Can you be a healthy Christian by isolating yourself from other believers and church history? Persis, one of the bloggers at Out of the Ordinary, argues against that attitude with her thought-provoking essay, Sola versus Solo Scriptura.

Pastor Jon Hawkins writes a powerful piece in Generation: Grace that all professing Christians really need to read. A Pastoral Response To The Orlando Massacre forced me to ask myself some hard questions. And that’s always a good thing!

Glenn Chatfield frequently quotes Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his blog, The Watchmen’s Bagpipes. The quotation concerning Emotion vs Emotionalism applies to the evangelical church even more today than it did when Lloyd-Jones wrote it.

In closing, the following video features Todd Friel giving Six signs you are not hearing Christian sermons at your church. Some of those signs reminded me of churches I’ve attended in the past.

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Orlando And Beyond

ConstitutionI had planned to write another installment to my Autobiography With Purpose series today. Last night I even chatted with a friend to fact-check my timeline. After settling down in bed (I get in bed two hours before lights out because I can’t tolerate the wheelchair longer than eleven hours at a time), I turned on Fox News with every expectation of watching Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies series. Instead, I got a special episode of The O’Reilly Factor, covering the horrendous mass-shooting in Orlando.

Early this morning I wrestled with the question of whether I should go ahead and write the autobiographical piece or comment on Orlando. As much as I watch Fox News  Channel, I’ve been forced to conclude that I’m really not a good political analyst. I feel absolutely inadequate to offer an opinion on this tragedy. More precisely, I’m still trying to process the whole thing from a Biblical standpoint, and I don’t want to spout of a lot of dogmatic reactions without having first evaluated it in light of Scripture.

At the same time, the incident reminds me that I started this particular blog because I firmly believe American Christians won’t have liberty to publicly proclaim the Gospel much longer.   For a few years now, I’ve thought that Christians would be silenced either by the LBGT community or by Islamic fundamentalists. The fact that an Islamic terrorist deliberately targeted a gay nightclub makes me think that both groups (in very different ways) will advance their agendas as a result of yesterday morning’s massacre.

That said, allow me to use this blog post to think aloud about probable ramifications of the situation. I don’t consider myself a prophetess, but I do believe I can suggest two possible ways that Americans might respond to ISIS-inspired aggression against a gay nightclub.

It seems very likely that the LBGT community will double down on their efforts to demand that society uncritically embrace their lifestyle. Ironically, I foresee them directing the bulk of their rage at Christians rather than at fundamentalist Muslims who believe homosexuality requires execution. The local Boston news reported this morning that people are calling for special protection for gays.

I certainly stand against violence toward gay people, just as I stand against violence toward any segment of the population. What happened in that nightclub is just as reprehensible as it would have been if an ISIS sympathizer had opened fire on my church! Please understand this crucial point.

But also understand my concerns that the gay community and its supporters might use this mass-shooting as reason to suppress any voice that dares to challenge homosexuality (or other forms of sexual immorality). Because Americans hesitate to charge Muslims with any wrongdoing, however, the wrath of the LGBT community will most likely be redirected toward Bible-believing Christians.  Consequently, I believe Christians will suffer for this atrocity.

Predictably, President Obama and Secretary Clinton pretty much ignored the issue of Islamic jihad in favor of demanding tighter gun control laws. I believe their political position only plays into the hands of  Islamic terrorists. They already consider America to be weak. Shall we further disarm American citizens when we’ve seen these attacks increase under an administration that, practically speaking, opened the door for ISIS  to develop in the first place?

Back in 1984, I read that Islam’s primary goal is world domination. Back then, I considered that idea to be far-fetched. September 11, 2001 changed my mind.

Obviously not all professing Muslims support jihad.Not all professing evangelicals take the Bible seriously, so it stands to reason that many Muslims soften their understanding of the Koran’s teaching regarding the conversion or execution of infidels. Many may not even realize that Islam considers homosexuality as a capital offense. But the Islamic terrorists are not the lunatic fringe of their religion–they’re the Muslims that take their  doctrine seriously.

As Christians, we need not fear either the gay  community or ISIS, even though both groups threaten to bring us under severe persecution. Regardless of what happens to America, we look toward eternity, when the Lord Jesus Christ will establish His Kingdom!

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