Thoughts for the Week

Cheer Them On

How is romance celebrated in the Church?

Christians have marriage retreats, seminars, and such, but excluding weddings, how often is just romance honored?

In reading Song of Solomon, it’s obvious the book is broken up into a few different speakers, the Beloved, the Lover, and the Friends. While the Beloved and Lover take up most of the dialogue, the Friends weigh in from time to time about the romance developing between the two.

It’s interesting to note that their input on their relationship is positive, saying how they will “rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine” (1:4b, NIV), and offering to help the Beloved find her Lover when he went missing asking “which way did your lover turn, that we may look for him with you?” (6:1b) and encouraging them to enjoy the tender and beautiful side of their love, saying “eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill, O lovers”(5:1b).

Reading over these passages  or watching real romance develop between friends can certainly feel awkward. But it seems the role of friends in regard to a loving couple is to be supportive to them, not just in the big things, but in the little, helpful ways they may need.

Perhaps the friends can offer to babysit for a night so the couple can get a date night, be available when the couple is in need of some friendly advice, or simply be positive and encouraging!

Romance is a beautiful and mysterious thing God has created. For the people around us who have found romance in a positive way, the Church needs to cheer them on!

Copyright 2017 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Not One Size Fits All

It’s easy to see the world through a black and white lens. This is always right, that is always wrong, people should never to this…you get the idea.

For the most part, there are certainly actions that, per the Bible, should always be avoided, or encouraged.

However, when we get into gray areas, that is when opinions divide and the Church is left wondering how to act. Unfortunately the Bible is surprisingly silent in regard to certain topics: gambling, birth control,  etc.

Just because the Bible is silent does not mean the Church gets a free pass and does not need to think about these topics. However, it can become an issue when people place their opinion of these silent matters on the same level as God’s Word.

Ecclesiastes talks much about wisdom and good decisions, “[t]he wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter” (8:5b-6a, NIV)

If it takes wisdom and understanding to know the best course of action for every matter, then it is probably not obvious what should or shouldn’t be done in the moment.

Therefore, it seems foolish to teach that there is an irrefutable answer on these gray topics. Because it takes personal wisdom for someone to make his or her own decisions based on his or her study of the Bible and the world. It’s not always one size fits all.

If you are a writer, do you sometimes interview your characters to understand their personalities better?

For an assignment in college, we were given a list of interview questions for our characters and I have used this method often – it helps me to give my characters more depth and meaning.

Recently, I decided to interview a character right after he suffered a major loss – and the answers that followed turned into an unexpected exercise of trusting God.

The character was asking questions, such as “How could you have let this happen? Why am I suffering?”

While I was trying to answer as honestly as possible, I found myself responding just like God does, “There’s a reason for it. You can’t possibility understand why, but it will all make sense. Please trust me.”

It reminded me of Romans 8:28a “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (NIV).

If my character were to demand “No, how dare you! Tell me why, right now!”, it would seem ridiculous. A character can’t demand anything from his or her author.

That’s when I received this sense of clarity, that in a way, I am a character in life, and God is The Author of it all. He writes every plot twist, he brings in the love interests, and he knows the world and us even more intimately than we can ever understand

Even more wildly, he knows the ending, and has even told us our own ending of the story, and it’s a very happy one! Most characters can’t even guess what kind of ending they will receive.

That being said, I found myself realizing that when bad things happen to me, there’s no question that God is in control, and trusting that he’s the Good Author of it all is really is the only option that makes sense. Because I am not the author of my story, and it’s oddly a comforting thought.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

 

Pleased

How do you know God is pleased with you?

Maybe it’s when you’re ministering to others, or when you’re serving, or just working toward the kingdom of heaven.

However, there’s one example that God was pleased with someone who had, as far as we know, not done any ministry at all up to that point.

In Matthew chapter 3, it talks about when Jesus was being baptized by his cousin, John. At this point, Jesus had not started his preaching ministry because just seventeen verses after this story does it say “From that time on, Jesus began to preach” (4:17, NIV).

But when Jesus was baptized, God spoke to everyone there and said “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased” (3:17, NIV).

It wasn’t because Jesus had started a very powerful ministry, or was healing people, or spreading the Word that made God pleased with his Son.

It was just because He was His Son.

This being said, don’t think you must earn God’s favor by working hard. You are His child, and He loves you.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

This week’s devotional is an encouraging moment God gave to me (in all places) in the middle of the deli aisle at Jewel Osco.

I decided to listen to the news recently, and it was downright depressing hearing about the dark and confusing tragedies happening all around us. With the stories of our broken world still spinning in my head, I attempted to get my weekly grocery shopping done.

As I walked through the deli aisle, I absentmindedly mused with God how completely and utterly hopeless life would have been if he had given up his rescue plan to save us from our sins through Jesus Christ and had left us all here to rot.

This is when God interrupted my train of thought. While I didn’t hear an audible voice, I got an impression that was very insistent that went something along the lines of:

“Now wait just a minute. Say you had a pet, child, best friend, or someone that meant the world to you, and they were in a position where they could get hurt or killed, wouldn’t you drop everything to go and get them back?”

I had to sheepishly admit, “Well, yeah, of course!”

And that’s when this deep, enveloping sense of affection washed over me and he said, “Well, that’s how I feel about you, one hundred times over. I never, ever could have left you all behind.”

The rest of my shopping trip was certainly more fun after that and I’ve pulled courage and peace from his assurance ever since.

“So I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5b, NIV)

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Is it “Christian”?

What qualifies something as being “Christian”?

I’m not talking about the salvation of a person, but rather the description of something in the media. In current American culture, there are several genres that are marketed as being “Christian.” There are Christian movies, bands, TV shows, books, and the list goes on.

However, what are the qualifications? Does the main character/singer/producer need to be a Christian? Does there need to be a mention of God or Jesus in a positive way? There’s no definitive answer.

But would you believe there’s a book of the Bible that does not mention God at all? That would be the book of Esther. It’s a powerful, moving story about a woman who becomes queen and defends her people against complete destruction. But not once is God brought up in this story.

I’ve always taken this to show how something can bring glory to God even when the thing is not evidently about him.

The story of Esther shows how being brave and doing the right thing in the face of certain death is honorable and should be held up as an example for all generations. (Esther 4:14b). God had said in his word to “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).

The book of Esther shows this commandment bring applied in a real story which brings glory to the God. Also, God is ultimately the one who allowed this story which does not mention him to be part of the Biblical collection of stories.

So instead of asking if something is “Christian,” a better question to ask is if something honors God, even if it doesn’t explicitly mention him. If so, I believe it can have a lot of value, even if not “Christian.”

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

I’m Sorry!

When was the last time someone asked for forgiveness?

Recently a friend of mine asked for forgiveness because he had failed a task I had given him. He said he was sorry, but I knew he had no remorse; he just wanted me to give him a pass and then move on.

I wasn’t looking to give him a pass, I wanted to know that he was truly sorry about what he had (or in this case, hadn’t) done and that he wished things could have gone differently. I don’t carry a grudge, but I can tell you that going forward, I don’t ask him for favors and certainly don’t trust him as much as I did.

God feels this way too. When we wrong him, he wants us to be sorry on the inside, not just the outside.

“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate” (Joel 2:13a, NIV).

Tearing apart one’s clothing was a public way of showing that one was in grief. God is making it clear that he does not want our remorse for the wrong that we’ve done to be only outwardly visible.

We are called to ensure that our hearts reflect the torn and grieving expression that rending one’s garments had in Biblical times. So this week, instead of just saying you’re sorry, ensure that you are truly sorry deep down.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

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