Thoughts for the Week

Posts tagged ‘jesus’

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.

The Miracle at Troas (Part 2)

E2

(Based on Acts 20:7-12)

I rushed down the stairs as fast as I could to my friend. His father reached him first. Eutychus lay unnaturally still on the hard ground as many crowded close by. I crept to Eutychus and saw fear in his father’s gray eyes. I reached out my hand. Remorse welled up inside of me.

“Is…is he…?”

I was interrupted by a tall man. “Hold on, I’m a physician.” He knelt and gently placed his hand over Eutychus’ face and felt his neck. Paul reached the center of the group and asked the physician, “Well, Luke? Is he all right?”
Everyone held their breath. Luke bit his lip and looked to Eutychus’ anxious father.

“I’m sorry, but he’s dead.” Instantly, Eutychus’ father wept over his dead son. I cried bitterly alongside my dead friend. If there was a mighty God that Paul talked about, why did He let this happen?

Paul reached toward the lifeless Eutychus and wrapped his arms around him. After a brief pause, Paul looked to Eutychus’ father. “Don’t be alarmed. He’s alive!” All eyes were on Eutychus. Paul placed his hand over Eutychus’ forehead, and I saw his chest move.

Then to everyone’s surprise, he moaned. “Oh, my head, what happened?”

I gasped. “He’s alive!”

The father held Eutychus in his strong arms and wept harder. Everyone rejoiced and praised God. Paul stayed the rest of the night; he told us more about God and His Son who had power over death. After seeing this miracle happen to my friend, I heard the words Paul preached and believed.

The end.

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Where is Peace? (Part 2 of 2)

jesus-birthCaroline sat on the couch near the lit tree. Its soft multi-colored light always made her feel young again. She lowered herself onto the couch, her cheek resting against the plush fabric. She tried to fight the tears that made the tree seem to melt away as the lights morphed into points of dizzy color. She didn’t even notice when she fell asleep.

* * *

She suddenly found herself in a dark place where she noticed a large object, which was a cutout of Santa Claus. Its height reached several stories. She could only gawk as she approached. As she lightly touched Santa’s hummer-sized boot, the giant, flat structure began to lean forward. Caroline shrieked and ran.

The cutout crashed, shooting a large puff of air that sent Caroline sprawling. She pushed herself up and realized there was something behind the cutout. It was a man. Even from a distance, Caroline could tell he was old. “Hey! Hey, you!”

The old man straightened, his eyes wide. In one hand, he held a small bag of gold coins. He sputtered, “Oh, I didn’t hear you sneak up on me. Please don’t let the secret out, I want it to be a surprise.”

“What surprise?” As she approached, Caroline had failed to notice the shoes that rested on a doorstep. He had been placing his coins into them. “Who are you?” She asked.

The man’s white hair glistened and his eyes twinkled, “I’m Bishop Nikolaos of Myra.”  He gestured to the little shoes. “These little ones just lost their mother and are in need of gifts.” He slipped a coin into another leather slipper. “I give gifts in secret. Seeing their surprise is a treat.” He pointed to another house down the way.

“Some years ago, there were three daughters in that house. They were too poor for a proper dowry and were afraid they would never get married. Well, over the course of three days, I hid a gift for each daughter in their shoes. By the second day, the father had caught on and waited at the door all night to see if a present for his third daughter would come.”

Nikolaos chuckled and his laugh lines were highlighted. “You’ll never guess what I did.” Caroline couldn’t guess. The man continued to chuckle. “I dropped the third daughter’s gift down the chimney. It fell into a stocking she had hung up to dry!”

Caroline gasped. “Wait! I know you. You’re Santa Claus!”

Just like that, the old man faded away along with the doorstep and the little shoes.

She looked around, and there were more towering cutouts: gigantic presents, skyscraper-sized Christmas trees, and candy canes as thick as tree trunks. She gently pushed the mammoth Christmas tree; the lights and tinsel fell with a crash. Behind it was a scraggly evergreen tree sitting inside a house. No lights, no ornaments.

“That’s it?” Caroline protested. “This tradition is why I pay eighty dollars every year for a tree?” Her cheeks started to grow hot and her temper rose. She turned and knocked over a towering candy cane. Behind it was a German man, making the candy canes for little kids. Caroline turned and continued to shove the other cutouts over.

Little Christmas elves toppled, as did large bunches of mistletoe. Sleigh bells loudly jangled as they tumbled to the ground. Apple cider splashed to the ground, creating a small tidal wave.

Caroline was fed up with Christmas and was looking for meaning behind it all.

She was huffing angrily when she reached the final cutout. It was a little shack with two people inside. When she got closer, she realized it was Joseph and Mary. Their cutouts knelt beside a small box. If she had stopped, Caroline would have seen a soft light pouring from the box.

But she charged, her anger boiling over. Religion had caused nothing but pain in her life. She slammed into Mary, sending the cutout tumbling. She shoved Joseph, and he toppled too.  She went for the manger. The little box itself flopped over like a thin piece of paper.

Then she saw the glow. It rippled and floated off the ground like a balloon. The little shack melted away and all that remained was this odd sphere of light. It irked her this thing hadn’t fallen too. She charged to push it over. But to her surprise, the thing pushed back. She put her shoulder into it and shoved. It shoved back just as hard.

She fell to her back, staring up at the light. To her surprise again, it grew rapidly. It grew until it filled the large expanse above. Suddenly from the depth of the light, a voice floated out.

“What are you doing here?”

Caroline sputtered, “I-I…who-who are you?”

The warm light flickered and she heard echoing laughter. “I’m the child they celebrate at Christmas time. I’m the one whom the angels sang about.”

“The baby?”

“I’m God as a human. I came to earth over two thousand years ago to show the world how to know God.” The light slowly started pulling together into a form, and began to look like a man. “You asked yourself ‘Where is peace?’ I’m here to let you know that I’m peace.” From the morphing light, a hand reached out to her….

* * *

Caroline awoke to the scent of hot chocolate. She sat up and saw her husband, Clark coming over, a steaming mug in each hand. “Morning sweetheart,” he smiled. “Feeling better today?”

After rubbing an eye, everything came into focus. “Yeah, I…just had a lot on my mind.” He handed her a warm mug and slipped in beside her. “I noticed you were reading my Bible last night.”

She took in the earthy chocolate smell. It had little flecks of cinnamon on top, just the way she liked it. Clark continued, “Yeah, I always love reading about Jesus’ birthday this time of year.” The hot chocolate almost spilled as Caroline jumped. Her dream suddenly came back to her.

“Wait, Jesus was the baby?”

Clark looked her in the eye. “Yes. Christmas is about celebrating his birth.”

In that moment, Caroline knew where the peace was, it had been born in a feedbox a long time ago.

The End.

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Out of the Darkness

(Mark 1:21-28)

I strolled down the dusty street toward the synagogue. I relished the fact that I could usually slip in undetected. The Pharisees there were so focused on their petty laws.

Hey, I gave my tenth regularly, and hadn’t needed to give a guilt offering for some time. They couldn’t touch me. I was one of the richest, most powerful men in all of Capernaum, maybe even in Galilee.

I smirked when I remembered the time I booted an older teacher out because he kept nagging me about my attitude. I got the town on my side, and sent him packing.  A week later, I was delighted when I discovered he had been attacked and killed by robbers.

The crowd was larger than usual. We had traveling rabbis, and there must have been a popular one visiting this week. But as I slipped in, I saw the teacher. I didn’t know the man, but something deep in my gut churned. Something wasn’t right. I instantly broke into a sweat.

I was confused. Going to the synagogue never made me nervous. But something about this common-looking man made me feel as if I was sitting on a bed of nails.

“So, who’s our rabbi this week? “I casually whispered to my neighbor.

“I heard he’s a carpenter from Nazareth.”

Ha, Nazareth? I’ve got nothing to fear then. Nothing good comes from Nazareth. 

“But you’ve missed a lot. He’s talking about  the law and with such authority! I’ve never heard anyone like Jesus.”

Jesus? That’s the scruffy carpenter’s name? At that moment, Jesus stopped speaking and looked directly at me. His flashing eyes pierced me deeply. My mirth evaporated into horror. My head pounded and my feet twitched. Everything in me wanted to run. What’s going on?

Before I knew what was happening, he was up and walking toward me. Something inside me screamed. I suddenly couldn’t breathe right. The scream reached my lips, and created angry, guttural words.

“It’s you! What are you doing here?”

I tried to stop, but I wasn’t speaking. Something else was inside. Fear gripped me, and my body trembled. Everyone in the synagogue pulled back in shock and everyone went quiet. The voice speaking through me continued.

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”

I fell to my knees, and my whole body was wracked with pain. It was if a violent storm raged inside of me, battering me from the inside out.

“I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”

Jesus stepped closer. “Be quiet!” He called. My throat suddenly clamped shut. He still held that piercing gaze. But I could tell he was not looking at me, but deep inside of me.

“Come out of him! Now!”

In that moment, I had never felt such searing pain in my life. It felt as if my heart and spine were being rent in two. I struggled to stay upright, my body quaking. That terrifying voice was screaming; it strained and it clung like claws digging into my chest.

With one final shriek, the thing inside of me let go. It fell away like a stone, a dead snake. My lungs filled with sweet air. The last thing I remembered is falling, and someone catching me.

***

“Jesus, are you sure you want to be that close?”

I was aware of someone’s hand on my forehead, the other on my shoulder. I awoke to find Jesus kneeling next to me in the dust. Looking at me with those eyes. The eyes that had been so terrifying, so piercing, were now so soft.

His rough hand on my head eased my tattered thoughts. The entire synagogue had formed a wide circle around me, except for this man.

A friend of Jesus approached him, “Jesus, I think you should move–“

“It’s okay Peter.”

He helped me sit up. “You’re going to be all right.”

Tears flowed freely. This darkness inside of me was gone. I hadn’t noticed it until it had vanished. My heart felt ten times lighter. I looked into Jesus’ soft eyes. “What happened?” I sniffed.

“You had let your heart serve a cruel master. You are free now. But you will fall back unless you let me be your master.”

I said yes. The darkness was gone forever, now replaced with clear, fresh, perfect light.

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

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