Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Southside Newsletter - Pastor Kelly

I really just wanted to share Pastor Kelly's most recent entry from the monthly newsletter....good stuff! Enjoy

A Fresh Word From The Pastor's Heart~
Rev. A. Kelly Stanley, Jr.

Max Lucado, in his book The Gift, tells the true story about family therapist Paul Faulkner, who set out to adopt a troubled teenage girl. She was destructive, disobedient, and dishonest. Right now I know what most of you are thinking, “Has he lost his mind? What in the world is he thinking? Teenager? Does he need his head examined? Teenager? Troubled? Disobedient? Dishonest? Let him have mine for a couple of days and he will think twice!” Some of you who have raised teenagers probably would agree with Mark Twain, who said when a child hits 13, put them in a whisky barrel and seal it and don’t let them out until they’re 21.

Lucado says that one day when the girl came home from school, she ransacked the house looking for money. By the time Faulkner had arrived, she was gone and the house, well, to say the least, looked like a tornado had gone through it. When Faulkner shared what had happened to a friend, the friend suggested to Faulkner to not finalize the adoption. The friend said, “You haven’t completed the paperwork. You haven’t signed any documents. Let her go!”

Faulkner’s response is surprising: “But I’ve already promised her that she would be my daughter.” God has made a promise, a covenant to adopt us into His family. His promise is not conditional. It is not nullified by our rebellion. It is always easy to love someone when they are obedient, loving, and respectful. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 5:46-47, ”If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. 47If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that” (TLB).

The Bible tells us, “The proof of God's amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, PHL). I love how The Message Translation words it: “But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.” When we ransack His house and steal what is God’s, His love never fails. He passes the test.

Faulkner did not look at his ransacked house and say, “Come back when you’ve learned respect.” No, in spite of our sin, in the abrupt face of our rebellion, God chose to adopt us. The Bible says in Ephesians 1:4-6, “Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. 5Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure He took in planning this!” (MSG).

Just like Faulkner took pleasure in adopting that teenage girl, God took pleasure in the planning, the implementation and in the adoption of us. God did not put us in a whiskey barrel and seal it until we were “good.” Instead, He has chosen to put us “in Christ” and let the love of Christ change us from the inside out. God took great pleasure in this. The only question is: do we take great pleasure in being “in Christ”?

Take a moment to think on that question. Are you still like that teenage girl or are you being transformed by the love of Christ? The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence” (GWT).What is dominant in your life: the old you or the new creation?

Pastor Kelly

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