Thoughts for the Week

What are mirrors for?

God’s word has been compared to many things, and mirrors are one of them. In James 1, the author makes this parallel, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at this face in a mirror and, after looking at himself,goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (v. 23-24, NIV).

Mirrors are used to show individuals what he or she looks like, what blemishes there may be, and ultimately who the person is. According to James, perhaps the Bible serves a similar purpose.

One of the goals of the word is to remind people that they are God’s people. So perhaps, once they are in the world, chances to do good, practice patience, and generally be more Christlike, will be something they recall after seeing the reflection of who God says they are.

See yourself as God sees you through his word, and don’t forget what you look like and who you are.

Copyright 2017 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.
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A Servant of Jesus

 

Do you refer to Jesus as a friend?

There’s nothing wrong in doing so. In fact Jesus refers to us as his friends in the New Testament (John 15:13-15).

However, while reading through the book of James with my bible study recently, someone pointed out something interesting in the first sentence. James, the brother of Jesus wrote this book and starts his letter with the phrase, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1, NIV).

This is significant because the Bible makes it clear that during Jesus’s ministry, his family thought he wasn’t who he said he was, “for even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5).

It’s incredible that James went from disbelieving Jesus to acknowledging him as Lord. But what I find even more incredible is that James is referring to himself as Jesus’ servant.

If you’ve ever grown up with siblings, especially with older ones, not getting along becomes inevitable.Probably the last thing a young sibling wants to do is think of him or herself as a servant.

But James did. Even through growing up in disbelief, and going through what probably was shock and bitterness through Jesus’ execution, James finally believed in his brother and allowed himself to become available to serve God.

James and Jesus were probably (and hopefully) friends growing up, but if the brother of Jesus can refer to himself as a servant, do not forget that you are called to be a servant of Jesus too, and not just a friend.

Copyright 2017 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

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.

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