Sunday, July 23, 2017

Acts 29: "Purple-and-pink paisley hasn't been tried!"

The Word for today:
Acts 26:1-18
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!
In previous days, we have seen that our testimonies--the stories our lives are now "telling"--will not be about us.
They won't say, "I changed from that to this." What they will say is, "Jesus changed me from that to this." We will not be the Actor, but the Acted Upon. We will not initiate, but receive.
Q. If my story isn't about me, then what role do I play?
A. Your most important role is Teller.
You are the storyteller. Acts, as a whole, demonstrates this. The voice you hear behind all the incidents about Paul isn't Paul, but Luke. Your page of Acts 29, when published, will be told about Jesus, but told by you.
That means that you get to choose, from the thousands of scenes which make a life, the few to be included on the page you're allotted. You get to choose the scenes, the words, the tone of voice.
My subject will be Jesus and your subject will be Jesus, but your telling will differentiate your story from mine. Your individual telling will give your story its distinctive flavor and feel.
Your telling lends your story its poetry, its heart and soul. Your telling is what you bring to the grand story of Jesus. It's your opportunity to express your Savior and his saving work in a way that no one can ever replicate, because no one else can bring the same combination to the telling.
Let's say Jesus is a constant--call him X. Let's say you are the variable y. The shorthand description of your unique relationship with Jesus is Xy. Xy is your Acts 29 story!
Which is a different story than mine, which has X (of course) as constant but me (m) as its variable. The story I will tell is Xm. It is in some ways the same as yours, but in other ways it is vastly different.
What an opportunity! These unique stories practically write themselves. And there's no need to consult outside sources (or cite them with footnotes) because you’re the only 'expert'--and the only eyewitness to Xy in the whole world!
But, this golden opportunity is also a solemn responsibility. Because no one else can testify to the Xy you've witnessed, you have to tell the story or it is forever lost. A word unheard, a story untold, is sad somehow, like a gift unopened or a land undiscovered.
You bring the poetry--the heart and soul, the color and rhyme--to the telling of your tale. You can tell it in a song (I told you yesterday to bring your violin, or your trumpet or drums) or you can write it with a purple crayon. You can smile as you speak it, or you can cry.  I do both as I tell my own.
No one can argue with the subjective realm--with your choice of a purple crayon or a pink one; with your choice of trumpet instead of piano accompaniment. So don't be afraid to tell your tale in textures and colors never selected before.  (Purple-and-pink paisley hasn't been tried!)
The tale isn't about you, but the telling is yours. You must include "reason"--the facts, which make your story true. (We'll look at that tomorrow.) But the" rhyme," which makes your story unique, is up to you.
Every "Acts 29" story will be a love story. But no two love stories should sound alike. So have fun. Play it loud or low, play it sweet or tart--but play it from the heart.

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