Category Archives: Practical info

Fear God, Not the Storm

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Robby took this photo in WalMart today.

 

Like everyone else in Florida, my family and I are waiting on Hurricane Irma to make landfall.

Every major news channel is reporting on enormous hurricane—her trajectory, the devastation she’s already wrecked, and the lives she’s claimed. This morning, CBS called her a “monster” and a “killer storm.” The poor folks in Barbuda would probably agree.

Although we’re in Tallahassee, most of our gas stations ran out of gas days ago. Stores like Wal-Mart and Publix have been out of water and low on staples like bread and toilet paper. Several stores have had new shipments, but the generators and water have sold out within minutes.

If I had to use one word to describe the tension in the air, it would be “Fear.”

We know the Bible tells us repeatedly not to fear, and yet we can’t help but be scared when life’s storms are headed our way. So, how do we respond in a godly way? What are we supposed to do?

 

DAVID’S MONSTER

This situation reminds me David, staring up at Goliath. At about nine feet tall, Goliath must have looked like a man-eating monster. If he had focused on Goliath’s past, his ability, his hatred, and his desire for blood, David would have returned home and let someone else worry about the giant. David was the youngest in his family, a mere shepherd boy. No one expected him to be a hero. He could have left without incurring any shame.

But David wasn’t looking for an out. In fact, he wasn’t looking at Goliath, either. His eyes were on God. He knew beyond a doubt what God could do in the present situation because he knew what God had done for him in the past:

“And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine'” (1 Samuel 17:37 NAS).

Armed with nothing but a sling and a few stones, David brought his monster to its knees. (See 1 Samuel 17:32-51.)

This is the kind of life-changing experience a person doesn’t forget. I imagine David was thinking back on it when he later wrote, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” (Psalm 27:1 NAS). By God’s power, David had fought a lion, a bear, and a giant. With each success, his faith was strengthened even more.

 

FEAR THIS

Interestingly, there is one thing the Bible tells us to fear: God Himself.

“You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13 NAS).

“You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4 NAS).

There are numerous Scriptures that reinforce this idea that we should fear God…and only God. That’s because when we fear God, we cling to Him with loving obedience. This is the opposite of being afraid of something and running away from it.

To “fear God” means that we:

  • Believe in God—accept that He exists and His Word is true (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Obey God—follow His commands daily (See Deuteronomy 13:4)

This type of fear is really a form of holy reverence.

 

FEAR NOT

When we fear the storms of this life, our anxiousness can make them appear bigger than they are. We focus on the storm and forget the One who created all things, who manages all things, and who loves us immeasurably. Our problem looms so large that we cannot see God beyond it, and our faith falters. That’s when our storm becomes an idol.

We are told to fear only God because He is the only one worthy of our fear, our love, our reverence, and our obedience. To every storm on the horizon, every coming battle, every season of hardship, we are told to “fear not”—not because it isn’t scary, not because it won’t be hard, and not because God doesn’t care. We’re told to “fear not” because there is nothing bigger than God and nothing worthy of our adoration but Him.

 

ENCOURAGEMENT

If, like us, you’re in the path of Irma, please listen to the advisories. If you’re in an evacuation zone, get out. If you’re hunkering down, be smart about it. Use common sense and stay safe.

However, as you watch the news, and the wind begins to pick up speed, take a breath. Don’t let the storm loom larger than God. Keep it in perspective as you focus on Him—all the things He’s done for you and all the times He’s delivered you. Then put it in God’s hands. God is with us, and He’ll get us through this.

 

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NAS).

 


I’ll be posting updates throughout this storm. To see more about our experience, or for helpful hints and links, check out my Facebook page @ashleyljones.author. God bless you and keep you safe!

 

When to Say Thanks

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Yup, that’s me and Robby at our wedding. Photo by Lindsay Osborne.

The following post appeared this week on Lift Up Your Day. Check out their site for more encouraging blogs from other writers.


 

My friend Rachael is getting married this year. She was my wedding planner extraordinaire, and I am attempting to return the favor this year as I plan hers.

Although Robby and I were married just six years ago, I had already forgotten how many details go into a wedding.

 

No Thanks!

One of those details that many brides forget about is the thank-you cards.

I never knew this was an issue until after our wedding. As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I started writing thank you notes to all our friends and family members who supported us in one way or another, whether they threw us a party, donated to the honeymoon fund, or gave us a traditional gift. We took great care to let everyone know how much we appreciated them.

Then, we started to hear it.

I can’t believe you actually sent me a thank-you card! I haven’t received one of these in years! 

I just can’t thank you enough for my thank-you card! I thought proper etiquette was dead.

I was flabbergasted! I had no idea that people were actually foregoing this most basic of common courtesies.

 

The Faux Pas

Reputable wedding sites (such as Brides.com) still dictate that thank-you cards be handwritten and mailed within three months of the wedding (or within two weeks for engagement and bridal shower gifts). Yet an online search will prove that there is a pervasive trend of thanklessness. It’s so bad that jilted guests are threatening to stop bestowing gifts because no one seems to appreciate them.

Some speculate this might be an issue today because young couples feel a lavish reception is thanks enough for those who attended the wedding or gave them gifts. Well, it’s not. We want our thank-you cards!

 

The Responsibility

Now, the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the CEO of Hospitality. It’s ultimately our responsibility to keep up with social etiquette, from ensuring the thank-you cards get mailed to stocking toilet paper in the guest bathroom. Guys just don’t think of this stuff.

It’s true that social norms change with the times. However, if you want to keep your friends and earn the respect of your new family (especially your mother-in-law), you’re going to have to write those thank-you cards.

 

The Heart Behind It

As Christians, everything we do is important because we’re representatives of God’s kingdom. Paul even wrote that we should perform all our work “heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:22-24 NAS).

Thankfulness, in particular, is something we should be ready to share because it’s rooted in love. Not only does love come from God, but Jesus commanded that we love one another as He loved us. Why? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NAS).

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’m so proud of my friend Rachael. She’s already purchased her thank-you cards, and she’s included the cost of stamps in her budget. Rachael is prepared to show her appreciation.

If you’re planning to get married soon, I encourage you to approach the thank-you list with an attitude of gratitude. Thank the Lord for your family and friends; thank Him for blessing you with a beautiful wedding, a great husband, and a new life together; thank Him for all the goodies that now fill your home. Then let that spirit of thankfulness overflow as you write to those who cared enough to support you. Your guests will thank you.

“I thank my God always concerning you…” (1 Corinthians 1:4a NAS).

Six Rules to a Rock-Solid Relationship

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Robby and me on our wedding day six years ago.

This year, Robby and I celebrated our Sixth Wedding Anniversary! (Hand-clap, please.) Before we were married, our friends and family shared some sage advice with us. We added that to what we had picked up along the way and, before we knew it, we had several great rules to live by.

In honor of our sixth anniversary, I’d like to share with you our top six rules for a rock-solid marriage. Some of these can also be applied to relationships with friends and family, so keep reading, even if you’re not married.

 

1. Pick ‘em Right

Robby and I had great peace when we got married because we knew God wanted us to be together. We started our marriage on rock-solid ground because we promised to keep God at the center of our relationship.

Before you say I Do, make sure he’s right for you! How? Pray earnestly and with an open heart. If He tells you to walk away, then do it, knowing that His plans for you are good. (See Jeremiah 29:11.)

A rock-solid relationship has to be built on God, the one true Rock. (See Deuteronomy 32:2.) God has to be the focus of each of your lives in order for your marriage to succeed.

Marry the one you find the least annoying to be around. – Jeremy E.

2. Treat ’em Right

It’s so hard to find time to just be together, but Robby and I have learned to make it work. We don’t always answer the phone when it rings or get the dishes washed after dinner. Sometimes, we have to go out to eat to ensure we’re not distracted by the demands at home. But we do whatever it takes to carve out quality time for one another.

Your spouse is the one person on earth who has vowed to love and cherish you above all others. Don’t take that for granted.

If you’re having real marital problems, sort them out before they get too big to heal. If you’re just starting out, then treat each other with love and respect, and you’ll avoid a lot of heartache.

Just be decent to each other. – Jeremy E.

3. Watch Your Mouth

Robby is the quiet one in our relationship, and I’m more of a hothead. I’ve had to learn to guard my mouth—especially when I’m emotional or tired—so I don’t say something callous or hurtful.

The Bible says the tongue has the power of life and death, for good and evil. (See Proverbs 18:21.) Make sure the words you speak into your marriage are a blessing and not a curse. Tell the truth, but say it in love. Avoid yelling or saying ugly or demeaning things. You can’t just say, “I didn’t really mean that,” and make it go away.

Also—and this is extremely important—never, ever, ever, say “divorce.” Once you say the D word, it becomes an option. Once it’s an option, it’s much more likely to occur.

Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth. – Unknown

4. Give Him Space

Robby and I are both analytical, and we need time to process our thoughts. After hanging out with friends or family, or spending time in town, we like to go to separate corners of the house to “piddle” (that’s “work on house stuff” for those of you not from the South). Sometimes, we’ll just veg in front of the TV. That allows us to be close to one another physically without draining each other mentally.

Give your spouse the space he needs. When you have room to breathe, you’ll enjoy your time together even more.

It’s a good thing that you have different hobbies, so you’re not always on top of one another. – Jeff M.

5. Mystery Alive!

Robby and I agreed early in our relationship to keep the “mystery alive.” That means we don’t do anything really gross in front of the other person, including belching, passing gas, going to the bathroom, spitting, or picking our teeth. (I still can’t understand why some people do this stuff in front of their spouse. How do they go from gross to intimate? I don’t get it.)

If you want a strong relationship, keep the gross stuff to yourself as much as possible. This isn’t about being fake but about being courteous. You’ll respect each other more, and it’ll be easier to be romantic on a daily basis.

Mystery alive! – Me

6. When in Doubt

I can honestly say I’ve never doubted Robby’s faithfulness. I know he loves me and would never do anything to hurt our relationship. In the few instances when I couldn’t reach him by phone, or he came home later than usual, it never crossed my mind that he was doing something inappropriate.

A strong marriage is built on trust. That means you should always give each other the benefit of the doubt. When he’s late and he hasn’t called yet, or when he doesn’t text you back right away, don’t assume that he’s out doing something wrong. If you really trust him, then you trust his actions when he’s not around you.

Happy couples give each other the benefit of the doubt. – Topic of several studies, books, and articles.

 

What are some rules you live by in your marriage? Please share them here to encourage others. Thanks!