by Erick Erickson, edited by Bobby Price
In Scripture, Acts 19 recounts a series of miracles that led to mass conversions of residents of Ephesus. The conversions created an economic problem.
Ephesus was, at the time, world-renowned for a temple to the Greek goddess Artemis, one of the wonders of the ancient world. As people began converting en masse to Christianity with St. Paul’s preaching, temple visits declined, as did the purchase of idols. According too Luke, the writer of Acts, a silversmith named Demetrius who made silver replicas of Artemis began rallying other men of similar trades to fend off the Christians.
“Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship,” Demetrius said. (Acts 19:25-27)
“When they heard this, they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'” (Acts 19:28). A riot broke out, and the Ephesians seized Paul’s companions. The rioters had to be calmed. For two hours, the crowd chanted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" before being calmed. In spreading the gospel, Paul had wiped out income and mythology, which brewed resentment. Today, the Temple of Artemis is a ruin.
Two thousand years later, as true religion recedes in America and secularism rises, the Ephesians are back now as the wokes. By any measure, the United States has continued to advance and heal the wounds of slavery and racial discord.
There are racists still because there is sin in the world, and racism is one. But as Americans move beyond the sins of the past, the cry of systemic racism gets louder. It is the new, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” This time, instead of silver idols, it is Ibram X. Kendi’s and Robin DiAngelo’s books. Buy them to repent. Pay a speaker’s fee. Have a critical race theory advocate perform seminars. Hire a “diversity, equity and inclusion” czar for your company or school. “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
As Christ commanded his followers to spread his gospel message and preach, teach and baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so the wokes spread their gospel of discord, which is both devoid of hope and deeply anchored in never-ending grievance. Heretics of Christianity added inconsistencies to a consistent Christian orthodoxy. Heretics of wokeism merely point out the consistent inconsistencies of critical race theory. How exactly can a race or gender that is socially constructed also be determinative? It is heretical to ask. Instead, buy a book, virtue-signal with a donation to a woke charity, and attend a class on equity. Whatever you do, do not let the wounds heal and love your neighbor. After all, the silversmiths have idols to sell. “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
By Dan Reiland, edited by Bobby Price
Church membership should not consist of rules to keep people out, but ramps to help people grow. Membership in a local church may seem outdated or unnecessary, but if led well, it adds great strength to your church. We need to be aware that there are definite reasons people don’t become church members.
Candidly, nearly all churches have some form of “membership.” Some formal, calling it church membership. Others informal, using words like belonging, discipleship, culture, team, or community, etc. Both are referring to the same idea, but with different words, in a different style, and with differing amounts of emphasis.
These are among the five most often asked questions from people who don’t become church members. 1) What if my spouse is not a believer? 2) What if I’m not sure about being baptized? 3) What if I don’t have time to serve in a ministry? 4) What if I can’t give a full tithe? 5) What if I’m not qualified to be a leader?
These questions are packed with doubt and uncertainty for people who don’t become church members. Those who have asked these questions wonder if they measure up to what they’ve been encouraged to embrace for spiritual growth. In each case I emphasize a grace-filled path for growth rather than an either-or, you are in or out, kind of membership loaded up with a list of do’s and dont's, rules and requirements. Church membership is most effective when you emphasize vision, values, teamwork, and life change. Church growth is essential, but focus on the growth of the person, not the growth of the church.
I’ve wondered at times why questions like the five I mentioned arise in a class taught with so much grace, encouragement, and opportunity. So, I’ve asked those who attend and people who don’t become church members.The most common response for people who don’t become church members includes two things: 1) Their church background. Their previous experience is not always positive. They have often only known a list of do’s and mostly don’ts.
2) Culture is changing – rapidly. Membership is no longer something desired unless there is perceived value. People want to be part of something they value. Membership in current culture does work, from frequent flyer miles on Delta to discounts at Costco. People do join where they perceive value. This might sound like an approach that builds consumer Christians, that’s not at all what I want to communicate.
In fact, it’s the opposite. Let’s not use the word membership for a minute. Maybe you communicate; become part of our church family, or find a place to belong within our community, or discover your place on the team. Use whatever language you would prefer and fits your culture. The concept of belonging to a body of believers, (whether you call it membership, team, community or family, etc., is about spiritual growth, a call to maturity, and giving yourself away to others. The foundational leadership principle that makes this work is: You as the leader(s) give first. Good leaders always give first and invest more. When you model this lifestyle, the people in your congregation discover that you really do want more for them than from them.
by Mark Altrogge
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
I was thinking about this today as I prepared for a parenting class. Here are some ways that you can provoke your children to anger. I’ve done many of these, and for this reason I’m grateful for the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit to change.
16 ways we can provoke our children to anger:
1. By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them. When they feel they can never please us enough.
2. By having double standards: Do as I say, not as I do. Expecting them to do things we
don’t do, e.g., ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
3. By anger and harshness.
4. By a lack of affection.
5. By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
6. By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
7. By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?).
8. By hypocrisy: acting like a Christian at church but not at home.
9. By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in
front of others).
10. By always lecturing them and never listening to them.
11. By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin.
12. By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them.
13. By pride: failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
14. By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?).
15. By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking? Why in the world would you do that?).
16. By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).
‘Give Unto Caesar’
Alberta Pastor Jailed Again After Police Helicopter Finds Secret
Church Gathering; Officer Quotes Jesus To Justify Arrest
By Jon Brown, edited by Bobby Price
A Baptist pastor in Calgary, Alberta, was arrested a second time Monday after a police helicopter discovered where his church had been secretly gathering since authorities locked their building. Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church also debated the legal and theological grounds of Alberta’s public health orders with the arresting officer, who quoted Jesus twice before driving the pastor to jail while his young children wept.
According to exclusive footage of the incident recorded by Rebel News, officers showed up at Stephens’ home to arrest him for allegedly violating a court order by leading an outdoor church service with hundreds of other Christians on June 6.
“A police helicopter was deployed to search for and detect this gathering, and to collect evidence against Pastor Stephens of non-compliance with public health restrictions,” according to a press release from the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is legally representing Stephens and other Canadian pastors being prosecuted by provincial governments. Stephens was imprisoned before in May until his legal counsel argued that the court order under which he had been arrested did not apply to him.
After first claiming in a press release that the illegal service had been held inside the locked church building, Calgary Police Service and Alberta Health Services issued a correction stating the gathering was outside but still failed to comply with current COVID-19 restrictions, according to Global News.
As he left his home while his children began to cry, Stephens referenced when Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and members of his cabinet were caught breaking their own COVID-19 rules this month during a dinner at the Sky Palace on top of the Federal Building in Edmonton. “It’s incredible, it’s incredible,” he said. “They can have their gathering in the Sky Palace, and yet a pastor who gathers for church outside is being arrested. Because the rules certainly don’t apply to everyone equally, and they’re not enforced to everyone equally. Like, why is it pastors that keep getting arrested from this?”
After tussling with Stephens regarding the legality of Alberta’s church lockdowns under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the officer then seemingly attempted to justify what he was doing by quoting the New Testament. When Stephens said Christ commanded his followers to gather together, the officer interrupted him, saying, “And he also told us wherever two or three are gathered, there he is in the midst of us, so we don’t need a huge gathering.” Stephens responded by implying the officer was taking the verse from Matthew 18 out of context. After blaming the pastor for creating the unpleasant situation, the officer later suggested that obeying Alberta’s lockdown order was like when Jesus said Jews should pay taxes to the Roman government. “Even God said, you know, ‘Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,’ right? So we’re not getting into this philosophical debate,” he argued.
“And the gathering of the church is not Caesar’s,” Stephens retorted. “So that’s why we’re gathering.”
At length, Stephens was hauled away in a barred police car and taken to Calgary Remand Centre, where he awaits his June 28 trial.
Rebel News reporter Adam Soos, who has been covering the arrests of several pastors in Alberta, said that all of them remain hopeful despite their ordeals. “As they’ve said repeatedly, they know Christ is victorious in the end and that this is a battle that they’re simply chipping in what they can do, but that they know that they’ve already won,” Soos said. “They know that they’re doing the right thing and while they weep, naturally, at the concept of … their father or husband being walked away to prison, inevitably the fact that they know they’re doing the right thing and honoring their God comes first and foremost.”
“So there’s joy amid tears, there’s prayers,” Soos continued. “But they’ve had so much support, such a sense of community. The congregation was growing. I don’t think that they could fit back in their building if the government allowed them back in. They’ve just grown and grown throughout all of this.”
Opposition to Stephens and other recalcitrant pastors nevertheless remains prevalent in Calgary. “It’s very satisfying to arrest the leaders of these congregations,” Calgary Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra told Global News regarding Stephens’ arrest. “But there will be other people who step up, I understand. All we can do as individuals is to do the right thing and to do right by our neighbors and to obey the restrictions.”
Pastor Henry Hildebrandt, who recently spoke about the punishment his own church has received from Ontario, responded to Stephens’ arrest with a video in which he rebuked the police as well as much of the Canadian public for their supine response to tyranny.
“I just listened to the heart-wrenching arrest of Pastor Tim Stephens – unbelievable, unbelievable,” Hildebrandt said in part. “It just is so hard to understand that we are in Canada and what is happening. But perhaps things have to get a little worse before we will be vindicated, before people will wake up and recognize how wrong it is. It’s very sad to see that a dear family like this, the little children have to suffer under this only because we have so many, so many that will not take a stand, so many that will not rise up.”
“What must it be like to be one of those officers?” Hildebrandt later said. “What must it be like to have totally lost heart, totally lost compassion, and do just like they did during the Nuremberg trials, where one after another one came and said, ‘I just did my job, I just did my job.’ It’s awful, it’s just awful. But may God use this to wake up more people. God help us.”
By Charles Pugh, edited by Bobby Price
When the late Russian writer Solzhenitsyn delivered his Templeton Prize speech in London, May 10, 1983, he referred to how societies were "losing more and more of their religious essence as they thoughtlessly yield up their younger generations to atheism." He affirmed that this abandoning of God among the young was sowing seeds of hatred, whatever its basis might be--race, class, or ideology. He added, "Such hatred is in fact corroding many hearts today. Atheist teachers… are bringing up a generation in a spirit of hatred of their own society." Solzhenitsyn's conclusion: “All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today's world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all.”
Just shy of forty years later, journalist Cal Thomas has now issued the same warning the Russian writer was addressing. In his book, America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Super Powers and the Future of the United States, Thomas says his message in the book is "that there is a dark and dangerous side to nations that forget their purpose and whom they serve." He references an earlier Solzhenitsyn speech from 1978, which was delivered at Harvard. In this speech the dark side of American society is described as an "abyss of human decadence" seen in the "misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror.”
Mr. Thomas asks: "Who can define evil in our day? We tolerate everything, even the abortion of sixty million babies (and counting), even the promotion of what used to be called aberrant sexual behavior. The latest is ‘gender fluidity,’ which tells people they can decide for themselves what gender they want to be, never mind biology. There are parents who are fine with this and a government who cares less about it" (182).
In a column published in early 2019, Cal Thomas wrote, "When the story of America is written in the past tense, its collapse will have been caused by our indifference to God, and to all the horrors that historically and inevitably follow it." The conclusion at the end of Thomas' book reads as follows: "We would have seen it coming had we studied history, or even better Scripture, which warns nations and individuals of the consequences of abandoning God" (184).
We need principles of righteousness-not platforms of rancor. We need regular prayers--not radical politics. We need a religious revival not a riotous revolution. We need more virtue-not more violence. We need to do what is right-not merely what is "religious." We need to enthrone God in our hearts and homes-not overthrow government in the halls of Congress. We need more of God in our life-not more government. We need more of Heaven's divine Scriptures--not Hollywood's devilish scripts.
The most crucial and urgent questions and problems of life will be answered and solved biblically, spiritually, and morally-not politically, scientifically, or economically. "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, ESV).
Bobby Price was born and raised by Christian parents in Perrin, Texas. Bobby decided early in life to become a preacher of God's word. He attended the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas where he graduated in 2015 with his Bachelors of Biblical Studies with a focus in Congregational Ministry. Afterwards, he interned for a year at the valley view Church of Christ in Jonesboro, AR. He is currently working on his Masters of Biblical Studies, through the Sunset International Bible Institute Graduate School.