Where christians come to share, pray and study.
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By Michael Hawkinson

Many people have tried to explain CHAIN. It has always proven an elusive task to find a way to explain what chain is; how it works and how one can be a part of it or even why one should be a part of it.

What is it? One of the most difficult ideas to grasp or explain is that CHAIN is not a ministry, just as New York or Houston are not a ministry. It is a place. To make matters more challenging, it is a place where people are expected to submit to each other and at the same time realize that no one person has spiritual authority over another. People are the ministry. You are the ministry.

As a place, CHAIN has laws which are to be kept and those "laws" are expressed in the Chat Guidelines. It is OK to go to a public place and have a private conversation at a table but it is not OK to stand up in the restaurant, supermarket, classroom, etc. and make a speech to or exhort an individual. CHAIN is a place with a population of people who can be very diverse. The Chat Channel #chain and bulletin boards are public meeting places where guidelines are enforced. CHAIN does not impose on private conversations (Personal messaging between two people) or tell people how to act in their own home (Privately opened channels such as #chainlink or #chainchat).

"OK, so CHAIN is just a place. Why should I get involved?"

The answer to that is complicated for a believer. Jesus said we should love God with all our heart, mind and strength; and also to love our neighbor as our self. The internet is a huge community with a lot of need just like our own neighborhoods. The reason I say it is complicated is that we need to pay attention to all our neighbors, not just cyber neighbors and not just next door either.

2 Cor 5:20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Romans 10:13, 14 "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (3) This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time.

Matthew 28:19,20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in [1] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

We should be involved because God commands us to be involved. If you have time you are spending on the internet... Why not be a blessing and minister to others online? We are ambassadors; We are the light of the world; We are the voice of God to preach and his hands to carry burdens. How many times would a prayer, a word of encouragement or a smile have helped you through your day and lightened your burden and helped you to put your eyes back on Jesus? How much time do you spend watching TV? Reading the latest best sellers? Waiting for laundry to be done or the pizza to be delivered? Hey! Use that 20 minutes to drop by and send an encouraging email to someone asking for prayer or chat with someone who needs some help. In addition to these reasons, I can tell you that some people you may have the privilege of helping live in areas without churches or where christians are heavily persecuted. Sometimes they find their way to CHAIN and will open your eyes to truths you have never thought about. May we never fail to pray for and encourage those believers who suffer for their faith.

"OK, I admit I am supposed to do those things, but what can I do?"

Romans 12:1-19 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

"Whoa! Is this going to turn into a study of the whole Bible?! Let me get my bifocals."

Well, in a nutshell... "Yes, as much as I can get in." (heh heh) I do think we should all take whatever anyone tells us and see what God has to say and ask Him to help us understand. You asked what you can do? Paul was telling us that there are gifts that God gives to each of us. Teaching, encouraging, leading, mercy, giving, etc. These are all gifts which you can use even online. I can tell you that if you sincerely seek to know people online, you will be able to be devoted in brotherly (and sisterly) love. You can honor others and practice hospitality. Many of us travel and have stayed in the homes of those we have met. There are many opportunities to rejoice with each other and mourn with each other. One wonderful consequence of the cyber place is people do not pay as much attention to age, culture, education or physical appearance. So social position and worldly standards may be less of a distraction and we can be blessed to help those we might have been intimidated by or passed by on the street. Oh, there are challenges, conflicts and disagreements (OK OK. Arguments/fights) but there is great blessing in forgiving and learning how to agree to disagree.

So, How can you get involved? By being yourself. Using your talents and skills to help others. By letting others minister to you. You will find that just taking the time to privately talk to someone and listen to them can be a real blessing or finding someone who will sit and listen to you.

Without going over all the rules and problems, let me share one quick scripture with you.

Philippians 3: (10) I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (11) and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (12) Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (13) Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (15) All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (16) Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

It is very important that we understand "And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you." If you disagree with someone, it is OK to message them and talk to them, but it is important to realize that one may have to agree to disagree. Then the burden is on you to pray to God and ask Him to show wisdom to both you and the one you disagreed with. Who knows? Maybe God will let you know that you were wrong. In any case, it is important to do what you know is right and it is not OK to fight publicly. We should also avoid being insulting in private even if someone tells us we are not baptized, not filled with the holy spirit or sinners from the pit of Hades. God will judge us. If we are innocent of such accusations, we trust God to be our Judge.

In summary: What is CHAIN? Chain is a place where anyone can come to meet other people. They can speak publicly of what God has done, share prayer requests and get to know each other personally. One can also speak privately or go to a private room. Why should you be involved? If you have time, God has work. What can you do? Use your talents, abilities and gifts to encourage, exhort and admonish others. How should I do it? With compassion, without dissension and in love. Hope to chat with you soon!!


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