Thursday, January 28, 2010



Back in the early '70's I was sitting in a study in Dallas and the leader of the study group asked me to read the 29th chapter of Acts. I faithfully complied with the request and when I saw Acts only had 28 chapters, thinking I had misunderstood, I asked, "What chapter did you say?" He broke into laughter and I quickly realized the joke was on me. But it was more than a joke!

The reason we use the term "Acts 29" is to encourage the continuation of the book of Acts. This is why I like to walk with people through the Acts as often as I can. At one point a group of us read it through each month for six months. I see Acts, not as the Book of Acts or the Acts of the Apostles, but the Acts of Jesus. These 28 chapters describe what life with Jesus ought to look like since Jesus ascended into heaven and sent His Spirit to empower His followers. It's an important discipline to insert your self into the Acts of Jesus today-to be able to walk with Jesus as you walk with others who are walking with Him.

I see the 29th chapter of Acts as the continuation of the message, the momentum and the power to advance the Jesus movement, making disciples of Jesus in all cultures.

Three questions: FIRST-What is the message of the Jesus movement demonstrated in the Acts of Jesus? It's really very simple. In the first chapter Jesus, Himself, is the best example of what He sees as the most important message of the movement. Just before ascending into heaven Jesus spends 40 days with the disciples to present Himself and a personal relationship with Him as vital. And while hanging out with these disciples Jesus makes it a point to teach them one theme-the Kingdom. So, there it is right at the beginning. The message of the Jesus movement is simply Jesus and the Kingdom.

Then in the 8th chapter Philip spent some strategic time with the Samaritans. Their response was terrific. The subject of what Philip taught? It was Jesus and the Kingdom.

Then again in the 28th chapter we find Paul in the position of being in "house arrest" in Rome. He had the freedom to meet and teach with all who came to visit. And, they did! Here is what Paul taught: He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. And, then in closing the book, it says about Paul: For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ-with all boldness and without hindrance!

SECOND-What is the MO (the method of operation) of spreading the message of Jesus and the Kingdom? The method of operation is all about a spontaneous spreading of the Jesus movement. Followers of Jesus introduce Jesus and the Kingdom into all cultures. Once they sense that this Good News message of Jesus and His Kingdom has been well-received by those who have believed, the messengers leave that culture to respond uniquely to Jesus for themselves. They don't stay to build buildings and build large organizations, because they recognize this is a dynamic and viral movement that revolves around simply Jesus.

THIRD-What is the power needed to advance the Jesus movement? The power to enable all followers of Jesus to faithfully follow and imitate Him is invisible. It's the Spirit of Jesus, left to empower followers of Jesus to be witnesses of Him throughout the globe-to actually be Jesus to the world.

Acts 29 is being written by the lives of followers of Jesus around the world each and every day. There seem to be three essentials that are held most highly that unite the Jesus movement into the oneness Jesus sought. They are: (1) The preeminence of Jesus. He has no competitor. He is most attractive and irresistible. You will find it difficult to discover anyone on the planet who rejects Jesus, when He is lifted up. Those who have rejected Him haven't really rejected Jesus, but a poor caricature of Him. Make the preeminence of Jesus what ignites you and unites you with all who follow after Him!

(2) The presence of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is where the King is. The way we live our lives is upon the principles and teachings of King Jesus. This is living life within the Kingdom lifestyle-walking, loving, thinking and talking like Jesus. Make it your goal to embrace the lifestyle of Jesus as your own! Make it your focus to be known as a follower of Jesus-nothing more and nothing less.

(3) The power of the few. It doesn't take many to become a vital "tipping point" in spreading the message of Jesus and the Kingdom. Don't worry about "how many", but focus on who they are and walk with them.

The challenge for those who want to follow Jesus is not just to be inspired to do so, but to actually do so. I just heard a new word this morning from a friend: "inspir-action"-inspired enough to act! Be an Acts 29er! It isn't easy, but as I've often said, "Following Jesus is the most difficult thing you'll ever do in your life." And, it's the best thing you can do for yourself and for the world around you. Acts 29. Let's walk it together!