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
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.

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