Tag Archives: Christian

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!

 

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A Godly Approach to the Sins of Our Fathers

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Thanks to OneChristianVoice for posting the following blog. Check out their site for news that affects Christians locally and around the world.


In the wake of the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, virtually every city in the nation is trying to determine if their statues and monuments are politically correct (including my city of Tallahassee). For many, the memorials of our founding fathers are now epicenters of violence and hatred. It seems everyone now falls into one of two groups: those who want the statues to remain and those who want them removed.

The real question, though, isn’t about monuments at all. The real question is, “How do we approach the sins of our fathers?”

As Christians, we should seek our answers and direction from the Bible. This alone—and not our personal bias or agenda—should be our standard.

 

Noah’s Mistake

The story of Noah in Genesis chapter 9 seems particularly relevant to us today.

Noah had just saved his family and a remnant of animals from the flood. He then planted a garden and a vineyard to begin cultivating a new food supply. However, the first batch of wine must have been stronger than he realized, because he “drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent” (Genesis 9:21).

This appears to have been an accident on Noah’s part but, regardless of how it happened, Noah found himself in a compromising position. That’s when Noah’s son Ham “saw the nakedness of his father” (Genesis 9:22). Perhaps Ham had an ax to grind against his dad. Or maybe he thought that it was time for Noah to step aside so he could take the lead. Whatever his reasons, he decided not to cover his father discreetly. Instead, he left him naked and “told his two brothers outside” (Genesis 9:22). The Hebrew word for “told” is nagad, which means “to be conspicuous.” Ham didn’t whisper a concern for his father; he declared his father’s mistake out loud so he and his brothers could revel in their father’s shame.

Ham’s brothers, Shem and Japheth, didn’t take the bait. They didn’t broadcast the situation to their wives and children. They didn’t make jokes about “dear ol’ dad” or post incriminating pictures on Facebook. No, they simply took a garment, like a cloak or wrap, and laid it over their father. In fact, they didn’t even look at him, but walked backwards into the tent so they could cover his nakedness while maintaining his dignity. (See Genesis 9:23.)

 

A Child’s Response

What is the right response, then, when we don’t approve of the actions of our forefathers? When we wish there had been more equality, more grace, more sympathy from past leaders? When we’re appalled, ashamed, and embarrassed of their sinful acts?

Usually, our response is to be like Ham. We yell to others to “Come and see!” We point fingers and sling accusations and curses. We want others to bear witness: “See how bad he was? Don’t be like him!” We think this is our duty, and we call our hatred righteous indignation.

The truth, though, is that we are all like Noah. We think that our sins and shame are hidden in our own tents, that no one will know our mistakes or see the darkness of our hearts. But we are exposed before God, and our own children will judge us.

We all hope that future generations will treat us like Shem and Japheth, that they will look upon us with respect and dignity, regardless of our mistakes. That they will try to see our situation as it is now, and not in the clearer vision of hindsight. Should we not care for our own forefathers in the same manner?

  

None Can Boast

Remember, Noah was the only person on the face of the planet who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord,” which is why God chose him and his family to repopulate the earth after the flood. We know that Noah was “a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9). This was a man unequal in his day, and yet he made a mistake.

Noah’s son Ham treated him with callousness, while his sons Shem and Japheth were respectful. Nevertheless, Noah’s mistake was not covered up when his sons covered his nakedness. No, his mistake is now captured in every printed Bible for all the world to see!

That’s how history works. A man can have a noble heart and do a thousand good deeds, but we may seize upon his faults, skewing our perception of him. Or perhaps the history books correctly characterize the sinful acts of a person, but they cannot tell us the motives of his heart.

When we talk about history, we forget that it was forged by men and women…people just like us. And the Bible says that none of us is without sin. (See Romans 3:10.) None of us can boast that we have lived a life of perfect righteousness…not even Noah, from whom the whole world was saved. Instead, we must boast in Jesus, the Righteous One who saved us from our sins. (See Acts 3:14.)

 

A Godly Response

Our past is more than statues and history books. We are constantly affected by the actions of our parents and our ancestors, and we must decide how to react: whether to protest, support, vote, volunteer, expose, or blow the whistle.

It is my prayer that we will approach our history—and the sins of our fathers—like Shem and Japheth approached Noah. To do so, we must set aside our arrogance and seek the truth in humility, for that is the beginning of wisdom. And as we reveal the truth, we must avoid reveling in its sins, for that will only bring dishonor upon ourselves. (See Proverbs 11:2.)

We must also cover the sins of the past, not with a cloak of darkness or with lies, but with mercy and forgiveness. Mercy couldn’t hide Noah’s mistake, and it won’t make the sins of the past go away. It will, however, remove the sting of sin and enable us to forgive our forefathers.

And isn’t that what we all want: a future that is marked with love, truth, mercy, and forgiveness? A future that we can be proud of? If so, then it is up to us to show our children the way.

 

“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2, Jesus speaking).


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Please leave a comment below. Thank you!

Classes, Manuscripts, and Radio Interviews, Oh My!

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Navigating_Meme

 

This month, I’ll begin teaching a 5-week course called Navigating Your Spiritual Journey at my alma mater, the Tallahassee Christian College and Training Center. I developed this class based on 13 years of research on the topic of the spiritual journey, which is the topic of my non-fiction manuscript, Girls with Gusto. In the class, students will learn the eight major steps of the spiritual journey and will be able to identify where they are on the map and what they need to do to advance forward.

Every semester, our local Christian radio station, Wave94.1, interviews a faculty member about his or her class. This semester, they picked me! So, for more information on this class, my manuscript, and the college, check out my radio interview. (I added photos and memes I’ve shared on this site or posted on social media to make it more fun.)

 

I hope to see you later this month at TCCTC. If you’re not in the area, or you can’t commit to the 5-week class, don’t worry—I’ll continue to share encouraging posts with you right here at BigSisterKnows. As always, your prayers (as well as your Likes and Shares) are sincerely appreciated!