Posted in discernment, social media, witness

The Pros and Cons of Social Media for the Christian

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m a lay person, a Christian woman, who happens to write. I’ve made my living from writing in the past and I’m thrilled to be able to use the talent God gave me for His glory now, writing as a Christian about biblical things.

I’m older and I distinctly remember life before internet. As a writer wanting to publish, bumping up against the monoliths of the Madison Avenue publishing companies, and the chokehold of the magazines and literary journals, (and the publishing rejection letters) having a free platform in which to share one’s thoughts and words with the world was a revelation. I took to it instantly and with glee, going online in 1996 and becoming an Amazon.com customer in 1997. Finally, an equalizing global conversation could be had.

I don’t think young people have a well-developed sense of just what a privilege it is to have global access to speaking one’s mind on any topic. I remember the frustration of rejection letter after rejection letter, of seeking the underground, mimeographed ‘zines as they were called then, of a regular person not having a voice. Or seeing the ones with voices squander them or limit them or censor them. Conglomerates purported to speak for the masses, and more often they didn’t, but their lobbyist money did speak to the corruption. Journalists were supposed to speak for the voiceless but more often they were kowtowing to Corporate. Benjamin Franklin felt the same frustration so he started his own papers and printed them on his own presses. The Second Amendment gave the promise of free speech, but never made any promises about how or where. No platforms were ever promised. That, one had to figure out for one’s self.

Of course all my words back then were unfettered into in the civic or personal/creative realms, but were wind and chaff to God because they were not for His glory.

I converted to Christianity late in life at around age 42. Until then I’d been occupied with writing for my weekly newspaper and curating its online version. When I sold the paper in 2006 and moved down south I needed to fill the void left by not writing intensively, so I started my personal blog The Quiet Life in August of that year. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a decade since I founded it. What a joy to play with the Layout format, press ‘publish’ and one’s thoughts and words could be seen by the world. Of course, back in 2004-2006 blogging exploded and there were a million blogs starting a day, it seemed. How to make one’s own blog rise to the top amid the sea of cacophonous voices also clamoring to be heard was something left to one’s creative problem solving. Now we had the platform, but how to make people listen…

Social Media pinwheel

As the Holy Spirit solidified my faith and grew me in sanctification, I founded this blog in January 2009, and once again it’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since then. Though I write intermittently on The Quiet Life I am committed to using the gift of writing and proclamation and exhortation for the Lord and I’ve been faithful to write daily on this blog since the beginning. Though I’ve been writing longer at The Quiet Life and there are 70 pages over there, there’s double the amount here, containing about 3,600 essays. And fortunately, I don’t have to stress over about whom to make listen. The Holy Spirit takes care of disseminating the message to whom He desires.

I joined Facebook in 2008, and joined Twitter then also. This year I added another Facebook page, The End Time. Online newspapers and journals enabled comment sections. People from the great to the small posted their email address, allowing direct conversation. Cell phones, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Flickr, Podcasts…Suddenly, there were platforms everywhere and it seemed like the cacophony grew but so did the possibilities for getting the Gospel out.

The question today is, just because social media exists, does that mean it is wise, profitable, or even safe to enter the fray?

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

That is a question for each Christian to answer and there are different considerations if one is a parent, a missionary, or is living under a restrictive regime or just to personally consider in the face of doing our utmost for His highest (to paraphrase O. Chambers).

Here are some thoughts in my experience, in my opinion, and remember I’m just one lay-woman with a small sphere of influence. There have been pros and cons with being so present on social media. Just as with anything, there are considerations and there are joys.

  • I am a single woman so there are safety issues with being too open.
  • Yet I feel compelled to be truthful and transparent, openly proclaiming the message to as many as possible.
  • If The Lord allowed the internet to be invented then I resolve to use it to the best of my ability to honor Him and spread His message.
  • Yet there are also a great many temptations to sin with my mind and with my mouth (typing fingers) and present a poor witness.
  • I have stumbled before in being so present online.
  • Yet when I sadly do, it presents more opportunities to repent, grow, obey and rely on Him- and to be mindful next time.
  • Seeing before me in living color so vividly the woes and successes of fellow believers; and being accountable to an online community of believers widens my perspective and reminds me of how large His body really is.
  • It presents a tendency to want to focus on just the virtual believers to the exclusion of those in real life.
  • When someone is encouraged by something I’ve written, it offers a high incomparable to any other.
  • When I receive letters from people who have come out from under a false teacher, or have strengthened their walk because of anything I’ve written, it makes it all worth it
  • People online can be mean, nasty, and hide behind cowardly anonymous comments. Combating their effects can steal your joy and re-direct your energy better used in other ways.

So, you see, the pros and cons are similar to laboring in any other medium or any other sphere. No better, no worse, just different considerations to consider.

Unlike other people who have expressed distrust or disdain over social media use to share a holy Christian witness, I don’t believe social media is the devil. It is merely a vehicle into which we can pour our energy and message depending on what the Lord has called us to do. Some pour their message into children through motherhood. Others who are not called to motherhood became missionaries and brought the message to orphans overseas. Some who were writers without the advantage of social media got the message out anyway using the vehicles of their own day- hymns.

So be mindful of the medium you choose to employ to spread God’s message, from your own tongue in real life to the cold virtual reality of a laptop keyboard, to… whatever else. As a matter of fact I’ve always held that the internet is one of the world’s great inventions. The Gospel message can be disseminated in podcast, tract, devotional, online bible, visually through art and animation, Youtube, the ancient writers’ work is spoken alive online to new generations or can be read anew for those who can’t afford the precious tomes but can afford the lower price of an online connection or even free at a library. Wow!

Through online blogs and sermons and devotionals I was strengthened by John MacArthur’s preaching and discovered the Puritans and Reformers. I connected with solid doctrine at The Master’s Seminary and learned of Paul Washer’s fire. I learned that I, too, had a platform that may strengthen even one woman seemed too good an opportunity to pass up- as long as I kept my priorities straight. But that’s like any ministry, it’s life, isn’t it? It is all a struggle and no matter the sphere or means the Lord provides, the devil will attempt to corrupt it.

So make your decisions about social media with your husband or pastor or family. Decide how “out there” you feel led to be, and which means to use. Elisabeth Eliot, Gladys Aylward, Eliza Spurgeon, Fanny Crosby, Katharina von Bora (Mrs Martin Luther) all used the means at their disposal and through obedience to the Lord to influence those in their spheres. How large or small or what that means the Lord will use through you within that sphere is a personal decision. But don’t let scary stories or condescension about social media taint your view of how useful it can be to getting the message out there. Just be safe, be wise, and the Lord will take care of the rest.

Posted in discernment, theology

Shannon Popkin: Discernment Question & How-to Process

By Elizabeth Prata

A dear sister asked me about a new author. Her discernment radar is always up, and she is cautious about who she absorbs. In reading my answer I hope any ladies will gain an understanding of not just about the person in question, but of how I go about checking an author or teacher. We read or listen to their actual content and compare it to the Bible first, of course, (Acts 17:11), but we also check a number of other items in the author or teacher’s life.

Hers was the first thing I read when I got up this morning, and it filled me with happiness! I love, love, love that she has such discernment and that she cares so deeply about making sure she’s absorbing God-glorifying material. It is a huge encouragement to me. Continue reading “Shannon Popkin: Discernment Question & How-to Process”

Posted in discernment, theology

They will not endure sound doctrine

By Elizabeth Prata

2ffbd-doctrine

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires… (2 Timothy 4:3)

Do you notice that word “endure”? The verse does not say “they will not like sound doctrine…” It does not say “they will not enjoy sound doctrine…” It doesn’t even say “they will not accept sound doctrine.” It uses the word endure. When you endure something, you writhe. You wish you were not there in the midst of it. If anyone has ever undergone physical therapy, you know that you have to endure it but if you could you would shoot out of the gym so fast you’d be like a speeding bullet. If anyone has ever had to get a root canal, you know that you endure it. You do not seek it, you do not like it, and if you could, you go away from it. Continue reading “They will not endure sound doctrine”

Posted in discernment, theology

Why John MacArthur’s people are strong

By Elizabeth Prata

An historic tussle is occurring in the United States right now between Church and State. The Framers of the Constitution were mindful of the potential for overreach in their civil leaders, monarchs, and other authorities. They had known of the persecution of the Protestants, Puritans, and Huguenots of the 1600s. So when they hammered out the rights of the citizens, protecting the freedom to worship (or not) was part of the foundation of this country.

grace church
Screen grab from live stream August 8 worship service at Grace Church

The highest law in our land is the U.S. Constitution, which has some amendments, known as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights guarantees that the government can never deprive people in the U.S. of certain fundamental rights including the right to freedom of religion and to free speech and the due process of law. (Source)

Here is the actual language: Continue reading “Why John MacArthur’s people are strong”

Posted in discernment, theology

Beth Moore’s Waterfront Mansion for sale

By Elizabeth Prata

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24).

On the Fourth of July holiday in 2016, Beth Moore tweeted about how wonderful it was to have all their friends and family with them on the holiday at “a bay house”.

moore tweet bay house

When Beth Moore tweets fun tweets like that, about being unglammed in “a bay house”, she isn’t telling you the whole story. It’s not “a” bay house, it’s Beth Moore’s bay house. A fact she cunningly chose to hide in her carefully crafted tweet. At the date of that tweet, they had bought the waterfront mansion just three weeks prior.

It is a gorgeous waterfront double lot home, 4 bedrooms, a private beach, and more. Continue reading “Beth Moore’s Waterfront Mansion for sale”

Posted in discernment, theology

Answering Reader Question: What are we to think of the “Let Us Worship” tour?

By Elizabeth Prata

A reader asked what I think about the recent activity of the “Let Us Worship” tour led by Bethel worship leader Sean Feucht (pronounced Foyt). Some are calling it “a revival.” Others are just excited to see ‘all those people worshiping’. What should we think about this?

Bethel is a large (false) church in Redding California, and also founded a “School of Supernatural Ministry.” The organization relies heavily on Charismatic activities such as manifestations of the Spirit, miracles, healing, and voices to draw congregants and to point to Christ, a different Christ than the Jesus of the Bible. Mainly, youths gravitate to Bethel Church. Continue reading “Answering Reader Question: What are we to think of the “Let Us Worship” tour?”

Posted in creation, discernment, God, paul, southern lights

What do Aurora Australis, Romans 1, and Apostle Paul have in common?

By Elizabeth Prata*

In Romans 1, the famous passage in which Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit describes the pagans’ reaction to experiencing the God of Creation, begins in verse 18.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

How does this play out, exactly? How are His invisible attributes seen and known? How is it that what can be known about God is made plain to people whose minds are darkened?

I was watching a very excellent documentary called “Antarctica: A Year On Ice”. It follows the people who live and work through a year’s cycle at the various scientific stations on the most remote and brutal continent on the planet. The continent is staffed with about 1100 people at various international stations up and down the Antarctic coast. The largest is the United States’ McMurdo Station. In most documentaries, they show the scientists working. Penguins, climate change, volcanic action, geology…but this documentary features the people who staff the stations in support of the scientists’ work. The regular folks.

The documentary further features the many hundreds of regular people who both work there during the summer, and who “winter over.” They man the store, staff the fire station, fix tractors, cook the meals, wash the dishes, take inventory of all the equipment, etc. When the last plane out at the end of summer leaves, they stay. Thus, the wintering over experience is unique to only a few individuals each year, as the full swell of 1100 during summer dwindles to only about 200 souls spread out among 30 scientific stations during winter in the Antarctic.

Living where there is no hope of departure for 6 months, in brutally cold and windy conditions, in darkness as the sun disappears below the horizon, with only a few dozen people around you…is something that only a few are allowed to experience.

Screen shot from “Antarctica: A Year On Ice”. Aurora Australis

Interestingly most of the people who “winter over” in the Antarctic love it. The landscape under the moon has a stark and glowing beauty. There is an astounding resplendence in the sky that only a few people are privileged ever to see. The stars, planets, Milky Way, moon, and of course the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) dance across the sky in majestic processions, all the time, for there is no sun to hide their glories.

Now here comes the Romans 1 passage lived out among a Gentile. One of the workers described her experience seeing all this for the first time. Here is what she said:

I was out on the sea ice, and all of a sudden comes rolling these waves and waves of green like fairy dust. Giant curtains of fairy dust, just kind of undulating over me. It filled the whole sky and moved in waves across the sky. And I thought this is either what it looks like when aliens are about to abduct you…lol, because this is the green stuff coming down and you feel like you can reach up and touch it. Or if you are a person who believes in heaven, maybe this is what you see in heaven. I’m not sure.

 

But it was really an emotional, life-changing experience for me. I found myself, not believing I’d done it, when I’d figured out where my body position was, I was actually on my knees crying. That’s how beautiful it was to me.

She sounds like every other person who had an encounter with the Living God. She didn’t directly meet the Living God like John, Paul, Isaiah, or Ezekiel did, but she experienced His power through His creation. When you do, you grope for words. You fall on your face. She had a mental reaction and a physical reaction.

First, you notice she described her experience in supernatural terms. It was either aliens, and in context it was clear she was joking, or it was God (“heaven”). Here she was more serious. The blinded mind does see and know of the Living God when they perceive His qualities through His creation, and her description was exhibit A in this process.

She lives and works with scientists in a place that only exists to perpetuate science and to discover scientific reasons for the way the planet is and how it works. All her conversations with people on McMurdo are founded from that basis. That is why they are there in the first place. Yet when she encountered the creation power of the Living God, her first thought was heaven. She did not say “Wow the Big Bang all those billions of years ago manifested itself in perfectly organized ions that traveled over millions of miles in a beautiful display!” She said “heaven” … and who lives in heaven? God.

Secondly, you notice her physical reaction. She was so overwhelmed with glory of His creative power she became insensate. She didn’t know if she was ‘in the body or out of her body’. She had to ‘come to’ and when she did, noticed she had fallen to her knees. Do we fall on our knees when we detect a scientific principle at work? Are we so awed by the process of pasteurization that we cry tears of joy on our knees? Maybe Louis Pasteur did, but anyone else? No.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.  (2 Corinthians 12:2)

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:28b)

screen shot from the documentary. McMurdo station under southern lights

In the Bible men and women fell down when they experienced the direct glory and power of the LORD. Peter fell to his knees when Jesus brought all the fish to the boat, for example. Isaiah fell down in his vision seeing the heavenly throne room. However, people also fell down when they encountered the near-glory of God, experiencing the things sent from heaven. John fell down at the angel’s feet. Cornelius fell down at Peter’s feet. Saul Saul, he fell down when the light from heaven shone around him. The difference as the Romans verse reminds us, is that we are not to worship the creation, not angels nor light nor other men, which are all created. We are not to worship southern lights or the sun or birds of the air nor creeping things.

But those who encounter a direct power from God through the creation react. This reaction is from a conscience which knows what they are seeing is from God and that He exists. This is what the Romans verses mean.

When Apostle Paul witnessed, he always began in the synagogue when giving the Gospel to Jews, reasoning from the scriptures. (Acts 17:2-3). With the Gentiles though, he always started with creation. He did this with the Lycaonians (Acts 14:6, 15) and the Greeks (Acts 17:22–31). Paul started with Creation and God’s attribute as Creator, and he exhorted Gentile listeners to see what can be seen in nature as the evidence for this.

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry. (Romans 11:13)

That is because they know the truth. They know God has created all, but they suppress it. Knowing but suppressing, understanding but denying, is an ongoing mental and emotional struggle inside each and every Gentile. It takes energy to suppress the truth that manifests itself in unwanted forms, such as falling to one’s knees, becoming insensate, or crying. The question is, what will they do with the information afterwards?

That’s where we as Christians can bring some more pressure to bear on their internal emotional and physical tension. We are witnesses to the God of creation. Before I was saved I lived unplugged close to the land and on the sea, experiencing the natural world in many ways. It became obvious to me that there IS a God. Nothing of what I was seeing in His creation could have come about through haphazard bangs and solar wind and evolution. So, I knew God is real because I was seeing His invisible attributes. But that is where I became stuck. What now? What does it mean? Who is this God and what does He want from me?

That is where we can be effective in sharing the next step for the questioning pagan. That next step is sharing knowledge of Jesus, sin, and judgment. Paul used but switched their concept of the God of creation to the God of intimate, loving involvement in their lives, a God who demands holiness but provided the way to achieve what we could not.

This essay first appeared on The End Time in 2015

 

Posted in discernment, theology

False Doctrine is like John Prine’s song Bruised Orange

By Elizabeth Prata*

A friend of mine recently asked me how my summer went. I said good and asked her about hers. She is a lady with whom I speak about Jesus quite often. She replied that she loves her summers so she can listen to sermons and study what the person said in it. I asked who she listened to and she said she loves Joyce Meyer, and Joseph Prince. “I love them!” she said.

Joseph Prince is a false teacher.
Joyce Meyer is a false teacher.

I went away mournful. I am also perplexed. I often speak of Jesus in my daily life, whether at work, or church, or at the store. I often speak of false doctrine and false teachers, specifically on my blog and in general at church. Sometimes if a specific situation comes up, I make an appointment and lay out specific concerns to my pastors or elders, and step back to prayerfully allow them to do their leading and pastoring regarding what I’ve shared. Continue reading “False Doctrine is like John Prine’s song Bruised Orange”

Posted in discernment, theology

Are there Modern Apostles?

By Elizabeth Prata

No. There aren’t modern apostles.

Below you will find a 14-minute collage of 3 clips. Speaking are Justin Peters, Paul Washer, and Gabe Hughes of WWUTT. In different ways, all three men explain from the Bible that modern Apostles don’t exist today. The Bible does talk about ‘apostle’, lower case ‘a’, which means “sent”. Anyone who is “sent” is technically an apostle, as in church planter, evangelist, missionary, etc. But the office of Apostle, capital ‘A’, as described in the Bible, is closed to newcomers. When Apostle John died in 90AD, the final Apostle died, closing that office with it. Continue reading “Are there Modern Apostles?”

Posted in discernment, theology

How do I know if I lack spiritual discernment?

By Elizabeth Prata

Whenever anyone in Christian ministry, (writer, author, preacher, etc) mentions so and so is a false teacher, rarely do we receive (or at least, I, receive) questions about why or how. Rarely do I receive a query asking me to lead them through my thinking and how I arrived at that conclusion, using scripture. I do sometimes, and those times are really encouraging.

Instead I usually receive comments like this: it was one comment but she had the whole package of the template of similar comments usually leveled at me in situations like this: Continue reading “How do I know if I lack spiritual discernment?”