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!

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