Friday, July 21, 2017

Acts 29, part 5--"make it a movie, not a portrait"

The Word for today:
Acts 24:22-25:12
The book of Acts stops at chapter 28, verse 31. But the reader is left hanging in mid-air, with the definite impression that Acts may have stopped there, but it doesn't end there:
"The book of Acts is still being written. Like the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts is yet another record of the things Jesus ‘began both to do and to teach.’ Jesus isn’t finished yet. He began His ministry in His human body, as recorded in the Gospels. He continued in His body, the church, through the book of Acts. He continues His ministry today through you and me and every other believer on the planet. The book of Acts will be completed someday. And when it is completed, you and I will have a chance to read it in glory, in eternity, when the plan of God has been fulfilled. When we read it, what will my part be in that great story? And what will yours be?"   –- Ray Stedman, Adventuring Through the Bible
Stand in the Rain is taking a long look at various aspects of believers' testimonies--the stories, in-the-making right now, that will someday appear in "Acts 29."
As we speak of these stories in general, we encourage you to think, in particular, about the tale your own life is telling--and to "edit" (where necessary) before publication!
***
Jesus is an action figure. He's animated, ever on the move. When I was a kid, I saw a movie, "Lilies of the Field," which featured the song "Amen." It was sung by Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) who was an itinerant carpenter who built a church. (You're making the connection, right?)
Here are the lyrics:
See the baby
Wrapped in the manger
On Christmas morning
See him in the temple
Talking with the elders
Who marvel at his wisdom
Down at the Jordan
Where John was baptizing
And saving all sinners
See him at the seaside
Talking with the fishermen
And making them disciples
Marching in Jerusalem
Over palm branches
In pomp and splendor
See him in the garden
Praying to his Father
In deepest sorrow
Led before Pilot
Then they crucified him
But he rose on Easter
Hallelujah
He’s there to save us
And he lives for ever
 ***
The lyrics convey the goin', flowin', non-stop motion that marked the life of Jesus. He was ever on the way, and just by being with him the disciples were ever in transit and transition. Whether geographically or spiritually, they were going, growing, becoming.
As his current disciples, the stories that our lives are telling--to be published, someday, in Acts 29--should be kinetic, conveying a sense of going places, of getting somewhere. We're not a religion, we're a movement.
Salvation never stops. In the Old Testament, our salvation is depicted geographically, from Egypt to The Promised Land. It is also depicted architecturally, sweeping through the tabernacle from the door to the core (the Holy of Holies).
In the New Testament, even faith is on the move in this pivotal verse:
The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.   (Romans 1:17)
As our faith moves us, we approach closer and closer to Christ-likeness:
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,  just as by the Spirit of the Lord.   (2 Corinthians 3:18)
***
So make sure your story is a motion picture -- a movie, not a portrait. In that way it will truly reflect Jesus, who never stopped until he was nailed to the cross.
Come to think of it, even that didn't stop him.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Acts 29, part 4: "tell the Jesus you know"

The Word for today:
Acts 24:1-21
Stand in the Rain doesn't delve much into "application." That's because the problem with mankind (that would be "me") is not really the ethic (what to do) but the dynamic (how to do it). Most of us knew right from wrong in kindergarten. Then we went out and did just the opposite for, oh, the next thirty-five years! So you won't be getting a list of "Five Things Which Will Improve Your Life This Week" from this source.
What you will find here is Jesus--whose life is our ethic, whose Spirit is our dynamic. The Law and the to-do list leave us lost, but there's wonder-working power in His Person.
Not as application then, but as a public service, the Stand in the Rain bloggers are volunteering our hard-earned writing experience to believers everywhere who are in the process of "writing" their portion of "Acts 29"--
"The book of Acts is still being written. Like the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts is yet another record of the things Jesus ‘began both to do and to teach.’ Jesus isn’t finished yet. He began His ministry in His human body, as recorded in the Gospels. He continued in His body, the church, through the book of Acts. He continues His ministry today through you and me and every other believer on the planet. The book of Acts will be completed someday. And when it is completed, you and I will have a chance to read it in glory, in eternity, when the plan of God has been fulfilled. When we read it, what will my part be in that great story? And what will yours be? "– Ray Stedman, Adventuring Through the Bible
By applying a writer's eye to believers' stories in general, we hope to prompt you to think, in particular, about the tale your own life is telling -- and to "edit" (where necessary) before publication!
(Yesterday's article was devoted to character, which is the most important element of any story. The article pronounced Acts 29 Axiom #1: You are not the Star of your story.) 
***
The Christian life has never been easy for me--and I lay the blame at the feet of just one person: Jesus. He's a complex character, who has become my life. So, de facto, life is complex.
I often do not know what Jesus would do in a given circumstance. So I close my eyes and ride His Spirit (some say it's my own hot air) to destinations unforeseen. I don't plan. I don't contemplate. I just ride a current I do not command. I trust Jesus Christ more than I understand him.
I tell people about this Jesus and they look at me as if I just arrived from the nether regions of Pluto. I've gotten more trouble and misunderstanding for doing what I think he would do, than for what I would have done. But he's the only Jesus I know, so he's the only Jesus I've got. You see my plight, right?
I'm as stuck with him as he is with me. What, then, am I to do--but to cherish him and follow him to only God knows where.
***
I was heartened this summer by the writings of the late, great teacher/evangelist Leighton Ford. It so happens that I found myself sitting in a sensational class using "Meeting Jesus," a booklet written by Ford, to generate some sizzling discussion. Here are just a few of the chapter titles:
"The Real Jesus"
"The Surprising Jesus"
"Jesus the Challenging Savior"
"Jesus the Puzzling King"
Sitting there, it struck me: That's him! That's the Jesus I know! Leighton Ford--thank God--is as crazy as I am!
***
Yesterday we learned the Acts 29 Axiom #1: You are not the Star of your story.
Today's Acts 29 Axiom # 2 is a corollary: Tell the Jesus you know.
You might not recognize the Jesus I know, or the Jesus Leighton Ford knows, or the Jesus Happy Howard Bruning knows. And they might not recognize yours. That's because he's personal, individual, and unique to every one. He's infinite, so he can mean limitless things to limitless people; he's a shade different to Matthew than to Mark than to Luke than to John...
For example, I don't need guts, but I do need the heavy hand of guidance. So I know a Jesus with a heavy hand.
You may not need discipline, but you might need encouragement. So as I'm telling you about a Jesus who makes me toe the line, you're telling me about a Jesus who lifts you up and over lines of limitation which aren't really there.
It takes the whole church to express Jesus, because it takes the whole church to know Jesus. If, in your portion of "Acts 29," you don't tell the Jesus you know, then we're all left with "The Incomplete Jesus" --which was not a chapter in Leighton Ford's marvelous book!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Acts 29, part 3: "understudy to the Star"

The Word for today:
Acts 23:11-35
The book of Acts stops at chapter 28, verse 31. But the reader is left hanging in mid-air, with the definite impression that Acts may have stopped there, but it doesn't end there:
"The book of Acts is still being written. Like the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts is yet another record of the things Jesus ‘began both to do and to teach.’ Jesus isn’t finished yet. He began His ministry in His human body, as recorded in the Gospels. He continued in His body, the church, through the book of Acts. He continues His ministry today through you and me and every other believer on the planet. The book of Acts will be completed someday. And when it is completed, you and I will have a chance to read it in glory, in eternity, when the plan of God has been fulfilled. When we read it, what will my part be in that great story? And what will yours be?"
– Ray Stedman, Adventuring Through the Bible
Stand in the Rain is going to take a long look at various aspects of believer's testimonies -- the stories, in-the-making right now, that will someday appear in "Acts 29."
As we speak of these stories in general, we encourage you to think, in particular, about the tale your own life is telling--and to "edit" (where necessary) before publication!
***
Acts records Paul's conversion story three times. Luke, the author of Acts, gives us his account of Paul's dramatic conversion in chapter 9. Paul then tells the story (in self-defense!) to a mob in chapter 22. Finally, Paul includes his story in formal testimony before Herod Agrippa in chapter 26.
Each time, we are given new details to add to our understanding of what really happened to Paul that day on the road to Damascus. One central truth, however, remains the same with each retelling: It was Jesus himself who intervened in Paul's life.
Whenever Paul found an opportunity to explain the change he had undergone, his sole focus was on the one who planned and executed that conversion--Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of his faith. (1)
We learn from scripture that life isn't about us.  And we learn from Paul that even "our" stories aren't about us!  If we appear in the script at all, it is only as understudies to the Star. (2)
The Bible may be filled with names like Abel and Isaac and David and Paul, but it's not about them at all.  Acts chapter 29, when published, will be filled with names like Shelley and Franklyn and Charlie and (your name here) -- but only as stand-ins for the one who stood, at the cross, for us all.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) Hebrews 12:2; (2) see Numbers 24:17; Revelation 22:16

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

living in "Acts 29" -- part 2 of 12

The Word for today:
Acts 22:30-23:10
Does the Bible have a happy ending? That depends on the reader. The Bible is the original "choose your own adventure" story. Each reader is responsible for what he or she does with the story of the Bible. Each reader will be held accountable for his or her own response.
Each of us must choose to be identified with the protagonist or with his enemies. There is no neutral ground. If we decide for the protagonist, Jesus Christ, we come to him in faith, and he saves us from sin.
From then on, we find that we are not only readers. We are characters! If we place our faith in Christ, we share in his story and in the glory of its final stability.
If we do not decide to be identified with Christ, we will be numbered among his enemies. Then there is no climax, resolution, or stability--just eternal conflict. The Bible is then a tragedy.
If you have not yet decided for Jesus Christ, the choice remains before you.
***
The book of Acts has 28 chapters. It tells the story of the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the first several decades after he ascended into heaven. We meet Saul of Tarsus and watch as God saves him, transforming him into the Apostle Paul. He becomes the main character, and we follow along with Paul until the book ends.
The strange thing is, the book of Acts doesn’t really seem to have an ending. The action never draws to a close. Paul is under house arrest in Rome:
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Acts 28:30-31)
That's it! The book of Acts stops there, seemingly suspended in mid-air, as if it were to be continued...
The book of Acts is still being written. Like the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts is yet another record of the things Jesus ‘began both to do and to teach.’ Jesus isn’t finished yet. He began His ministry in His human body, as recorded in the Gospels. He continued in His body, the church, through the book of Acts. He continues His ministry today through you and me and every other believer on the planet. The book of Acts will be completed someday. And when it is completed, you and I will have a chance to read it in glory, in eternity, when the plan of God has been fulfilled. When we read it, what will my part be in that great story? And what will yours be?
–-Ray Stedman, "Adventuring Through the Bible"
***
We'll venture further into Acts 29 tomorrow. See you then.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, July 17, 2017

living in Acts 29 -- part 1 of 12

The Word for today:
Acts 22:17-29
Stand in the Rain, when it mentions "us" at all, does so only tangentially. We enter the picture only when we happen to cross the path of Jesus, who is scripture's Alpha, Omega, and the all in all in between.
But two books of the Bible are specifically devoted to us in relationship to Him. Those books are Psalms, in the Old Testament, and Acts in the New Testament.
Psalms is about the heart. It shows us in close proximity to God, learning to trust him more and more. The Psalms are like the three years the apostles were in Jesus' company, day in and day out. They listened to him, talked with him, walked with him, prayed with him; they were encouraged by him, and they felt the lash of his tongue in rebuke. They grew up, spiritually, by means of their sheer proximity to Him.
The Psalms show a relationship with God in all its various stages--immaturity, doubt, elation, growing trust, intermittent despair, reassurance, backsliding, recommitment…you name it. Think of Psalms as the journal of the heart as it undergoes renovation, as it is being conformed to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29)
And then think of Acts as the body, in action, doing that which the heart was inspired and strengthened to do.
God's plan for us works from the inside out. He first changes the heart, then those changes work their way to head, tongue, arms, hands, and fingertips. What starts in the heart is translated into action. Acts shows the word, first sown in the heart, as it becomes flesh in the lives of believers.
Over the next dozen days, we're going to depart from the details of the book of Acts. We trust that you can read about all of Paul's various legal difficulties, which dominate Acts from chapter 22 through chapter 28.
We're going to fly right over those chapters in order to spend a dozen days in Acts 29. You won't find "Acts 29" printed in your Bible, but that's where we're going. So we hope you're here tomorrow, when we'll enter this implicit realm.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Jesus, would you get that for me?"

The Word for today:
Acts 21:37-22:16
Yesterday, we found out that we are born into citizenship in the kingdom of darkness. The only way to renounce that citizenship is to enter into a new relationship with Jesus Christ.
But when we divorce the devil, does he retain any "visitation rights?" The answer is a resounding "No!" Today we'll examine the scriptural basis for our complete emancipation from our former kingdom and king.
***
Satan would like us to think he has more power than he does. But Jesus' death and resurrection secured his utter defeat:
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. (1 John 3:8)
Satan is powerless because God has taken away his weapons:
Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:15)
Although Satan's ultimate defeat has been sealed, his final destiny still awaits him. For now, Satan is active in the world. We are engaged in a struggle with him every day:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
One of Satan's ploys is to accuse Christians. The Bible calls him the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10). But his accusations have been rendered meaningless, because through Jesus' death, our sins have been forgiven. He also divides believers, and he tries to thwart the advancement of the gospel. (1)
Another of Satan's methods is temptation to sin. He tempted Jesus (2), but Jesus resisted, and so can we:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God has given us weapons with which to resist Satan:
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:13-17)
In addition, our very awareness of the devil's devices equips us to deal with his attacks:
We are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11)
God's power far outweighs Satan's power. Satan can do nothing outside of what God allows him to do. This is vividly depicted in Job 1:12 and 2:6, where God permits Satan to test Job's faithfulness. (The thought that God allowed Satan to cause Job hardship might be disconcerting to some, but the scene reminds us that God was in control all along, and Satan had to abide by the limits God set.)
Always remember:
Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
So when the devil knocks on your door, just lift your voice and call out, "Jesus, would you get that for me?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) 1 Thessalonians 2:18; (2) Luke 4:1-13

Saturday, July 15, 2017

how to divorce the devil

The Word for today:
Acts 21:17-36
We are strangers in a strange land (Exodus 2:22).
Over the next couple days, Stand in the Rain will look at the condition of the believer, estranged from former king and kingdom.
Does the estranged believer have any remaining connection to the kingdom of darkness? We'll answer that question and a few more, so don't be unnerved as we review the terms of our divorce.
***
Q. Do we have any relationship to Satan?
A. Strange as it may sound, he's our father by default. (Please don't shoot the messenger; it was Jesus who said so)--
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:42-44)
Unless and until we are born again by faith in Christ, we remain in relationship and subjection to the devil.
But that relationship is forever severed when we turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. (Acts 26:18a)
Turning to Christ, we receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith. (Acts 26:18b)
When we divorce the devil to enter into a new relationship with Jesus Christ, we receive a new place (at the table of Our Father in the kingdom of heaven) and a new Power (God the Holy Spirit).
Q. Multitudes have turned to Christ, but multitudes have not. Is Jesus the king? Is Satan still king? Are there co-kings?
A. Satan is now is in the position King Saul held after he was divested of his kingdom. Saul, the people's choice, was the king of Israel until his disobedience caused God to reject him and anoint David as king.
But for a long while, "King" Saul continued to wear the crown while David--the rightful king--and his followers were on the run, forced to take cover in the wilderness and the caves.
Though Saul appeared to be the King, title and authority had been given to David. In the same way, all authority has now been transferred to Christ:
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…" (Matthew 26:18)
So, though it might not look like it, we own the place! We seem to be, like David's men, waging guerrilla warfare against superior firepower, but we are now and forever in the service of the rightful, the prevailing, King:
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13)
***
Alright, you've divorced the devil to enter into a new relationship with Jesus Christ. But does the devil retain any visitation rights? Tomorrow, we'll find out…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, July 14, 2017

they'd have to kick Jesus out, too

The Word for today:
Acts 20:1-16
What is the essential concept in scripture?
Without a doubt, the key concept--the one that allows us to enter into authentic biblical understanding--is the concept of grace.
Paul prominently mentions grace throughout his letters. In today's chapter, he sums up his entire ministry as the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24)
Then, as he departs from Ephesus in 20:32, he entrusts the people to God and to the message of his grace.
Is grace just a New Testament concept? No way! The great teacher/preacher Kent Hughes sums up his 700-page book on Genesis with this definitive declaration: "The theme of Genesis is grace."
So what is grace? Before I encountered the Bible, I thought grace was a little prayer before a meal. People would "say grace" before supper.
When I first entered into Bible teaching, I tried to explain grace with big words and sweeping statements. I was failing my students.
Then one day, as I was explaining away, a student asked, "Is there a difference between mercy and grace, or are they the same thing?" I backtracked and sidestepped and stumbled through a long-winded reply. When I finally took a breath, I heard my wife's voice pipe up:
"Grace is when we get good things we don't deserve. Mercy is when we don't get bad things we do deserve."
Out of sheer respect, I bowed from the waist and tipped the hat I wasn't wearing. She'd nailed it!
Grace is when we get good things we don't deserve. Grace is the difference between every other religion and the Christian faith.
Religion works its way to God: if you're a better cub scout and gain more merit badges, then you can go to heaven and leave the rest of us losers behind.
But our unique Christian faith teaches that we are all dead in sins (Ephesians 2:1). Dead people, of course, can't work! So God has to do all the saving--every single iota of salvation is accomplished by God!
The Christian faith isn't based on what we do, because we can never do enough. It is based on what God has done for us, when he paid the penalty for all our sins (past, present, and future) and could thereby declare us as righteous as Himself:
God made Christ--who knew no sin--to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Religion reaches up to grasp for God. But no one has an "arm" long enough! Grace is when God reaches down and lifts us up to Himself.
The transaction at the cross--when Christ took our death and sin, as we received his life and righteousness--is so complete, so thorough, so real, so radical that if they wanted to kick (your name here) out of heaven, they'd have to kick Jesus out, too.
That's true. That's amazing. That's grace.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, July 13, 2017

the pirates on the rock

The Word for today:
Acts 20:17-38
(Note:  This article was first published on this date in 2011.)
mark this: Acts 20:37-38
And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear, he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.
                        --Robert Louis Stevenson
I think 'Goodbye' is the hardest thing to say.
Saying 'No' is hard for some people, but it's never been hard for me. Lately, I've been practicing 'Sorry,' and I'm getting pretty good at it. But 'Goodbye' has never been easy.
We just returned from a week's vacation. Like many families, our vacations have become traditions; we always go to the same place, at the same time every year.
Every first week in July we pack our tents and bikes and running shoes and Frisbees and fishing poles. We squeeze Frankie, Eddy, and our dog Chip into whatever space is left. Then with light hearts and high hopes we head off to Wellesley Island State Park in the 1000 Islands region. It's 8 dollars per day for the campsite and another 8 dollars per day if we rent a boat slip. We love that place so much that I'm pretty sure we'd pay 1000 dollars a day, if that's what they were asking.
We started going there when Frankie and Eddy were little, when Chip was a brand-new puppy; when time stretched out ahead of us in limitless supply.
But boys and puppies grow up; and as they did, the horizon drew nearer. This year, we bumped right up against it.
Frankie will graduate from high school next June. When he does, it's likely that he'll need a summer job to defray college expenses. As his future encroaches, Wellesley Island will recede farther and farther into our past.
Shelley warned me, a couple years ago, that the summer after Frankie's junior year might be the end for Wellesley Island as we knew it: with all of us together for a week at a time during the most sun-drenched days of the year. But I can bury realities like that into the deepest depths of forgetfulness. So I did.
However, it wasn't buried deep enough. When a big group of rowdy twenty-somethings pulled into the site next to ours, we knew it meant trouble. Not because they were high-spirited, but because they began to unload what must have been a full cord of firewood.
Eddy is super-sensitive to allergens and smoke and any other air-borne particulates you can think of. So Shelley watched with concern as they unloaded the wood. Then she looked to me with alarm as they lit a big campfire in the middle of the afternoon. The prevailing wind was carrying billows of smoke our way.
She didn't have to speak. Though it was a day before we were scheduled to leave, we both knew it was time to go. That much smoke would be a kind of hell for Eddy to endure over an entire day.
That's when the reality I'd buried resurfaced: this is that summer -- the summer after Frankie's junior year -- and now it was time to go.  The last page of my favorite chapter in the whole story had already turned itself.
***
And so we do what we can to hold on to our yesterdays as they slip away into the realm of memory. As Shelley and the boys gathered and packed our gear, I stole away on Frankie's bike for a tour of the past. I rode to our first-ever campsite, E-5. In the woods just behind stands a huge rock, about 15 feet long and 10 feet high, which two little boys once transformed into the deck of a pirate ship.
Then I went down to the marina, where we'd fished from the docks and wished for the boat we now have.
Then I went to E-59, the best campsite we ever had. A narrow road winds its way from there to the docks. Every morning we'd be on that road by 5:30, fishing poles in hand. The boys, ever eager to get started, always got way ahead of me as we walked.
And they were still there -- still just 9 or 10 years old, still wearing their Little League baseball caps. Then they reached a bend, and were out of sight.
So I pushed down hard on the pedals. But when I rounded that curve, the road lay empty ahead. I pushed down harder still and flew down to the marina. But there were no boys on the dock.
So I tore back over to E-5. There were no pirates on the rock.
***
I write, every day, about what Jesus says and does, and about what all of that means. But the best thing about Jesus is that we don't have to say 'Goodbye.'  We might have to say 'Farewell' for a while, but only for the while.
So fare thee well, my ramblin' boys.
May all your ramblin' bring you joy.
So soon -- sooner than you think -- time will turn you back this way. I'll see you then, by the Rock.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

as seamless as his cloak

The Word for today:
Acts 20:1-16
mark this: Acts 20:28
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
***
Did God die?
Acts 20:28 tells us that God obtained his church with his own blood.
It's a remarkable statement. First of all, it irrefutably points to the deity of Jesus--for it was his blood that was shed upon the cross for the sins of the world.
But did God die, or was it just the "Jesus part" of the God-Man who died out there on Golgotha Hill?
The answer is that there is no "Jesus part" of the eternal Son. At no point in his ministry or death can we say, 'This is now the human side of him at work.'
Neither can we ever say, 'Now it is his divine nature that is on display.'
Peter correctly preached that it was "Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified" (Acts 4:10), while Paul rightly wrote of those who had "crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Corinthians 2:8)
Be very careful to understand that we are not to rend asunder what God has joined together. Jesus was, and is, as seamless as his garment. (See Matthew 19:6 and John 19:23)
He had to be. If he weren't one of us, he could not take your place. If he weren't God, his sacrifice would have fallen short of the purchase price.
We are now, admittedly, in theological waters which are over our heads. The theologians call it "hypostatic union" (yikes!) while the Nicene Creed explains that Jesus is very man of very man and very God of very God.
Within this mystery we catch a glimpse of why Trinity has to be:
only God could raise God from the dead.
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