The New Rebellion

I found a provocative book called The New Rebellion Handbook: A Holy Uprising Making Real the Extraordinary in Everyday Life. Here are but a few thought provoking items from it. I would encourage all who seek to join this army to purchase the book and support the authors.

Rebellion occurs when oppression reaches a level that we can no longer tolerate in good conscience. It occurs when our vision for extraordinary living is more compelling than our urge for comfort. Materialism numbs us while distraction and apathy work on us from the inside.

The new rebellion is calling today’s generation, people who are disillusioned with the MTV culture and half-hearted Christianity. This rebellion equips us with powerful tools for partnering with God to change His world. This rebellion is for those who are intensely passionate about Jesus and are determined to live a purposeful life. We have a nothing-is-impossible mindset. Jesus is not meek and mild, but mighty and wild!

The book has 24 real-world, cutting-edge themes of life. This book is a wealth of resources; fresh ideas, Web sites, book, music, stories from ancient and contemporary figures (rebels themselves) who offer a compelling invitation into kingdom purpose. I’ll share the information here over the next few weeks.

The Top 10 Reasons to Join the New Rebellion:

  1. You are intensely passionate for Jesus and His kingdom.
  2. You really want to live a life of eternal significance.
  3. You resent the apathy that derails many of Jesus’ followers.
  4. You’re willing to swim against today’s social currents.
  5. You know God is already stirring your heart for action.
  6. You’re looking for tools to empower your purpose.
  7. You want to live out God’s ancient wisdom in a relevant way.
  8. You desire to experience God and invite others into that experience.
  9. You’re absolutely dedicated to Christ’s lordship in your life.
  10. You’re ready to move in the power and authority of God.

The information listed in this category is from the book.

Leadership and Wisdom

After the Word of God was growing and prevailing Ephesus (Acts 19:20) Paul decided that he needed to go to Jerusalem and then to Rome (Acts 19:21). While in Ephesus, the Emperor Claudius was poisoned and the Empire fell into the hands of a 16-year-old boy named Nero (in AD 54). It’s almost like Paul needed to witness to the new Emperor; maybe he thought it would be a great opportunity to change the Empire.

Paul was used by God in a mighty way and the enemy would not give up without a fight, so Paul encountered more trouble before he left Ephesus (Acts 19:21, 23). We are also told that Paul was again alone, having sent Erastus and Timothy into Macedonia (Acts 19:22).

It was normally the Jews causing Paul grief, but we read of two Gentile groups rising up against him: in Philippi (Acts 16:16-19) and here in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41). It seems the gospel was a threat to the local idol making industry (Acts 19:24-25). Paul was hurting their trade and needed to be stopped; reasoning that he was robbing Artemis of her majesty (Acts 19:27). She was believed to be the daughter of Zeus and her temple was in Ephesus (one of the seven ancient wonders of the world). The silversmiths had made little statues in her likeness so I believe that these businessmen cared little about her majesty and more about their profits. The gospel and Paul were bad for business.

There was a town hall gathering in the theater in Ephesus and a couple believers are dragged to the meeting (Acts 19:29). Paul wanted to go there and speak to the crowd but his friends persuaded him not to go (Acts 19:30). Sometimes Paul had more passion and courage than sense. What I like here is that the disciples were not afraid to disagree with the apostle; Paul did not surround himself with yes-men and they had the freedom to speak their minds. Paul let the wisdom of others take priority over his own desires. He was not only a preacher and teacher but Paul was a good discussion leader (Acts 19:9). It is my observation that leaders who are afraid of others disagreeing with them leave little room for discussion. I am encouraged by leaders who do not think they always have to be right.

Not only did the friends of Paul not want him to go tho the theater, the city officials begged him not to go (Acts 19:31). Then the Jews got a man named Alexander to stir up the crowd chanting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” for about two hours (Acts 19:34), which is an odd thing for the Jews to do… to encourage the practice of idolatry (Exodus 20:3-4).

A little history: the people believed that Artemis had fallen to earth in the form of a meteor, like a multibreasted woman, who was proclaimed as the patron deity of childbirth. After a little research, I discovered she was the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; often depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. I am still amazed at what people will believe; sort of like believing that we all evolved from primordial muck by chance over time. It takes more faith to believe this universe just happened by accident than to believe in a divine creation. The universe is way to complex for there not to be an Intelligent Designer behind it all. Paul brought the message that the Messiah came down from the Father who offers everlasting life to those who believe; a much more believable story than a goddess falling as a rock from space.

Application: How many men today have another man beside them to guide them along life’s journey? Men who will speak truth to them, to help them avoid danger and temptation? How many of us are as passionate as Paul, compelled with a mission that must be accomplished? How many of us who are in leadership are humble enough to listen to others? Are we ever strong enough to admit, and even confess, that we were wrong? To our employees, our wives, our children? Do you surround yourself with yes-men or those who will challenge you and speak the truth to you in love?

Paul and His Vow

I love that game Trivial Pursuit; you know the one that has players bursting forth with tidbits of random and otherwise useless information. The writer of Acts, Dr. Luke, throws in one item of what seems to be useless trivia, that when Paul left Corinth, he had his hair cut off because of a vow (Acts 18:18). I wonder why Luke thought that bit of information needed to be included in the narrative? Know for sure that the point is not that Paul needed a haircut, but the reason for the haircut.

Paul was deeply rooted in Jewish tradition and coming to Christ did not make him forget that heritage. Luke was referring to the Nazirite Vow (Numbers 6:1-8). Note the purpose as revealed best in the NIV: “If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the LORD as a Nazirite” (Numbers 6:2).

  1. Using the word wants: it was voluntary
  2. Using the word special: not only was it voluntary but it was for men and women.
  3. Using the word separation: it was a vow of consecration to the Lord, to be distinguished from all others.

If you know the writings to the Corinthians, this church was in the midst of terrible depravity in a sexually explicit society. The most extreme pagan practice involved the cult of Aphrodite, full of lust and sexual immorality as a part of their worship.

The haircut is not the beginning of the vow but the end of it (Number 6:5). Practically speaking, Paul entered this wicked city with the intention of setting himself apart, to remain pure in the midst of impurity, committing himself to the only One who could ensure victory (2 Corinthians 2:14).

The vow involved abstinence (Number 6:3) from wine and strong drink. I abstain from alcohol not for biblical reasons but for social reasons. I see what alcohol does to our society and choose not to support that industry (drunk driving, road deaths, broken families, ruined marriages, abused children). I know alcohol is not forbidden in the Bible, but for me it is a distraction. It is a voluntary decision I have made. I do not believe that I personally can consume alcohol and be a truly devoted follower of Christ. I’m sure that Satan would use it as a trap for me, so I have made a vow of separation.

A visible sign of someone taking this vow of separation was uncut hair (Acts 18:18). If someone forgot about the vow they made, they could easily look into a mirror and be reminded of their commitment. Once Paul no longer needed this sign of extreme devotion to God, he cut his hair leaving Corinth. I am impressed with Paul’s example.

Paul had insecurities, weaknesses and temptations like all of us, but he dealt with them with wisdom. Jesus told us to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Had Paul not taken precautions, he could have gotten into serious trouble.

He took another precaution, he purposely did not take any money from the Corinthians; he got a job. A Macedonian church sent him money so he could preach freely without being a burden to the Corinthians (Acts 18:5, 2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 3-4). He also found a couple new friends, Aquila and Priscilla, who were also tent makers (Acts 18:3).

Application: Men, it is time to consider taking the vow… it’s not about letting your hair grow, but separating yourself from the world and consecrating yourself to the Lord. How do you keep yourself pure in a society that elevates sensuality, drunkenness, impurity and promiscuity? Do you go out into the world unprotected or worse, with a belief that you would never fall to any of these more grievous vices? Hear the words of 1 Corinthians 10:12, “let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” In short, that is what we call accountability. We can stand better together.