The Scorpion Sting

Scorpions.  Who actually likes these horrifying creatures?  They are monstrous little pincher-bearing, tail –stinging beasts that make you want to burn your house down.  Never mind that the scorpions native to Alabama are generally about 1-2 inches long.  It’s 1-2 inches too long.

Enter my 16-year-old daughter, Peyton, into this discussion.  Today, as she sat completing school work in the safety and comfort of her bedroom, she noticed something fall from the ceiling to the floor, and for one brief second, she wondered what it could’ve been.  (She told me she actually thought it was a leaf in that brief second…..because we’re growing trees in our house???) 

Now, I wasn’t here to witness this event.  But as Peyton tells it, she leaned towards it.  And it started moving.  Recognizing it as a scorpion, she began screaming bloody murder, grabbed the closest tennis shoe and proceeded to beat it to death, yelling the words, “DIE! DIE, YOU STUPID SCORPION!”  Wouldn’t you know she actually left it for me to see as evidence rather than picking it up and disposing of it.  But whatever.

The sting of the scorpion could’ve produced much pain.  But she had the victory over it in standing firm against it and declaring it gone. 

Satan reminds me of that little scorpion.  He comes in, unseen, moving around without notice.  He drops in, unannounced, at the most random times and disguises himself as something that we might want to get a closer look at or notice.  And then, BAM.  He’s stung us, and we’re caught in some web of sin.  But thanks to God, we can have victory over that.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. –1 Corinthians 15:56-57

We can let go of the sin and temptation when we do it through Jesus Christ.  He stands against satan on our behalf when we give it Him and let the victory be THROUGH Him.  Forgive me for sounding irreverent, but He’s the giant tennis shoe that stomps out that nasty devil as he crawls towards us!  He is our Savior!

How about you, dear friends?  Has there been a time where you’ve seen victory through Jesus as he stomped out a sin or sinful desire that needed to be gone?  Share how you feel led on Iron Porch!

~Erin

Guests At The Table

When reflecting on my brother-in-law’s wedding to my sister-in-law, I remembered when I was seated in the second row with the groom’s family.  I turned around and saw my husband’s Uncle and Aunt seated several rows behind me.  I waved them forward to come sit by me since they were also part of the groom’s family. They moved forward.  

When I asked why they sat far back they responded, “Always sit towards the back and wait until you are invited to a more reverent position.”  

That sentiment has stuck with me for the last 2 years.

It also reminded me of when I was a Junior in High School and our Youth Group leader set up a dinner event for us at the church.  We could sit wherever we wanted at the table.  But it ended up being a lesson in choosing to sit at the head table verse sitting in “lesser” position.  Those of us that had sat at the head table were then asked to become the servers at the dinner party.

Both examples are reminiscent of the “Parable of the Great Banquet” or “Parable of Guests” from Luke 14:7-10.  

“And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.”

Luke 14:7-10 (NASB)

Pride dictates to us that we are worthy of sitting at the front table.  It’s pride that allows us to think we should sit in a place of honor.  

But it’s someone else’s authority that allows us to stay there. 

At a wedding, it’s the protocol of Emily Post.  At a dinner party, it’s the host or hostess’ decision.  

As a Christian, Jesus outlines that we are to wait until we are invited to move to that position of honor.   Jesus didn’t tell us this as a mean way of “keeping us in check.” Rather, He was teaching us how we can learn to control pride…before it controls us.  He was teaching us how to be humble…so that we can be an example to others.  

Through a deliberate lesson geared towards teenagers, my youth group leaders taught me the lesson early.  Years later, by demonstrating this behavior, my husband’s Aunt and Uncle illustrated a real-life lesson in that humility.  

This week, I pray that we are each humble in our decisions about where we choose to sit at the table.

~Emily

The Moving Truck

There wasn’t much that hadn’t been damaged.  The movers that I had hired to unpack the truck kept coming across broken glass and falling furniture.  It was like a giant game of Jenga, wondering which piece we could move next without creating more damage and could we avoid slicing our hands open on the sharp edges of what once were beautiful pieces of framed artwork.

To say I was upset is an understatement.  Watching each thing come off the truck looking worse than the last was horrifying.  We had spent money on these things—they were not cheap.  We inherited some of these things—their memories were special.  And there was a moment where I could do nothing but just cry.  The road trip to get here had not been great.  I was looking forward to unpacking our belongings and settling in to our home.  And now, I had a mountain of (what felt like) junk sitting in rooms in my house.

But God is good, and He reminded me of something in that moment.  It’s just stuff.  It’s replaceable.  And I still have the memories even if the pieces are perfect anymore.  The verse that came to mind was very appropriate.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” –Matthew 6:19-21

The fact is, God opened the doors for us to move to Alabama.  He provided a home that is right across the street from Emily.  He gave Chris a good job.  Peyton is still excelling in school.  I have a bed to sleep on.  And despite there being new holes in the back of my sofa AND love seat, I can still recline in them and relax after a long day of unpacking.

God is good.  He is my treasure.  I don’t want to have these temporal things here on earth distract me from the beautiful and best things that wait for me in heaven.

Today, sweet friends, I challenge you to think on the treasures you have for yourself in heaven and not the things we collect on this earth.  It’s a much richer treasure than you or I could ever imagine.

~Erin

Busted Can of Biscuits

I was sitting on the couch when I heard an explosion in the kitchen.  It sounded like a shelf had fallen and multiple glasses were rattling around in the cupboard.  I jumped up and ran to the kitchen, praying I hadn’t just lost a family heirloom.  I searched the kitchen and found nothing amiss. 

Until about 2 hours later when I went to refill my sweet tea.

Inside the refrigerator, a can of biscuits had literally exploded all over the top two shelves.  When I say everything was covered in unbaked biscuit dough, I mean EVERYTHING was covered on those top shelves.  

I heard the explosion and knew glass had been rattled.  I search for the cause and the effect, but couldn’t find what had made such a racket.  I went back to life.

There are times in our lives that God speaks to us with a loud voice.  An explosion, if you will, but we can’t find the root cause.  So, we choose to simply go on with our lives without properly assessing God’s message for us. 

What type of loud explosive noise will it take for us all to pay attention to God?

The Bible tells us that there will be a great trumpet sound. In most commentaries, the trumpet sound will be followed by an event we can’t even begin to wrap our minds around. Will that be the sound that gets our attention? 

 “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew 24:31 (NASB)

“…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:52 (NASB)

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet.” Revelation 1:10 (NASB)

I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’” Jeremiah 6:17 (ESV)

A point to ponder this week.

When the trumpet sounds, will you pay attention? Or will you be like those in the Jeremiah scripture who declare that they won’t pay attention?  Will you be searching for the sound and responding to God’s calling?

Or will you go back to living your life, like you heard the busted can of biscuits but didn’t find the cause?

~Emily

A Shadowy Cross

The doors to the sanctuary at my church have windows cut into crosses.  When the sun is shining across the lobby, through those cross windows, there is a reflection of light in the shape of the cross that hits the sanctuary wall right next to the projector screen.  I can only see it when the lights are out during the worship singing or after the sermon when there is an alter call.  

If people are walking in the lobby, their shadows will often darken that lit reflection of that cross in the sanctuary.  Most of the time it’s just a small portion of the cross blackened out, but often the whole cross disappears into the darkness of a shadow.  Only to reappear as soon as the person walks through the light.

When I first noticed the shadowy cross, it made me hold my breath when it darkened. I worried that its disappearance was permanent.  I was unaccountably pleased when it brightened.  The outline of the cross in the church doors is always there.  Always. 

God’s love is like that.  Always there. 

There are times when there are valleys in our lives and it seems the shadows overtake us.  Shadows are caused by a variety of things. Perhaps, the shadows are other’s eclipsing the light of God’s love in our life.  Maybe, we’ve looked away from the light and it just seems dark.  Occasionally, we don’t want to see the light return in the scenario. 

Yet, if we wait for just a moment, we are reminded that the light is there.  Just as God’s love is still there.  Always there.  Just like the cross in the doors of my church.  

I’m praying that you see past the shadows this week, so that you can see the light of God’s love in your life.

~Emily

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” Micah 7:8

Get Down, Dog!

Ruger is NOT allowed on the bed.  Absolutely no way!  His gigantic yellow lab butt is way too big for a queen size bed.  But he’s been under a lot of stress the last couple of weeks as I’ve started packing up the house.  He doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, just that something’s happening.  So I wasn’t surprised when he randomly jumped up there as I headed to bed.

I tried to call him off.  Then I yelled at him to get down.  Didn’t work.  I tried pulling by his collar to which he immediately pulled against.  I tried shoving him off by the rear, and he dug his heels in.  My final effort was to push him by his side off the edge.  That lug rolled over onto his back and stuck his feet in the air.

I went to bed with him right beside me.

We should be that stubborn and set on doing the things that God asks of us.  When the world asks us to jump in and do what ‘everyone else is doing,’ our response should be one of firm standing.  We shouldn’t be jumping off the edge because it feels good.  We should be rooted in the foundation that is Christ Jesus.

When satan attempts to shove us off the path, we should be ready and determined to not budge.  When we are planted firmly in our faith in Christ Jesus, the world will see.  Satan will know, and he’ll have no choice but to step back and resign himself to knowing we’re not going anywhere he has planned for us.

I encourage you to be stubborn and steadfast in your following of Christ.  The payoff is worth every minute in the soft refuge of His arms.

~Erin

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith -Colossians 2_6-7a

Counterfeit Repentance

I’ve been involved with several conversations this week about the concept of repentance.  I was anticipating it coming up in the Sunday School lesson from the book of Ruth, but imagine my surprise when it also came up during the sermon.  Don’t you love when God has a message for you and it’s reinforced repeatedly?!?!?!

According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of repentance is the act of turning away from a behavior; sincere regret or remorse.

Most Christians would agree that scripture details repentance as an integral part of salvation.  We acknowledge our sin, we repent of it, we ask forgiveness for it, and we accept that Jesus took our punishment and is our Savior.

God has offered us amazing grace.  However, I think there are many within the church who have fallen for the lies of the enemy that repentance is cloaked in grace.

In other words, true repentance is acknowledging sin and turning from that sinful thought or behavior. In the case of counterfeit repentance, church culture acknowledges the sin but does not turn from the sinfulness in the belief that grace will cover that sin.

Not only is that counterfeit repentance, but it is also counterfeit grace.  That is grace that allows us to remain in sin.  But it is not true grace.  God did not design grace in that manner.  In fact, the enemy delights in us falling for the counterfeit grace, as it does not lead us to the cross nor will it allow us to live life abundantly.

In order to combat “counterfeit-ness” in our lives, we need to get tough on our sins.  We need to complete an in-depth analysis of our thoughts, our words, and our actions.  Do they glorify God? Or are they steeped in sin?  Are we willing to turn from that sin, ask for forgiveness, and then do our best to not return to that sin?

I am praying that I will have a serious chat with myself about sin…I am praying that for you too.  I pray God reveals sin that we have previously excused. And I pray that we beg for forgiveness and turn from that sin.

At that point, we’ll have true repentance…and true grace can be experienced.

~Emily

Repentance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, California!

I was struck with the weirdest thought on Sunday.  I was putting my freshly laundered sheets onto my bed when I suddenly thought to myself, ‘This is the last time I’ll be washing my sheets here in California, and it made me a little sad!  This weekend, my belongings get packed up into a moving truck, and they’ll be bound for Alabama.  I bought a house directly across the street from my best friend, and I’m set to begin a new adventure.

It seemed like such an odd thought to have.  I have actually lived in California for four years.  I’ve said for the last four years that California wasn’t a place I really wanted to live and I couldn’t wait to move!  So to have a pang of sadness seemed like such an odd reaction.

The truth is, I AM a little sad.  While I’m so excited to be closer to Emily and positively thrilled over the fact that we can work on other Iron Porch projects, God brought me to California for a reason.  For almost a year, I couldn’t figure out why but the fact is that I’ve had tremendous growth in the Lord during this time.  I’ve had to rely on what God’s vision was for me instead of my own.  He allowed me to be a part of the most amazing community of women from different backgrounds that all came together to study and grow in God’s Word through Bible study.  He taught me how to truly lead a group of women.  He also gave me a valuable lesson in learning to not always lead them and to let them teach me.  He taught me that it’s never my time, but His.  God also taught me how to be courageous in my witness for Him.

I’ve prayed for four years that I would find a church that was strong in the Lord, fearless in their declaration of God’s glory, and bold in the Truth.  I found Doxa Church right before I’m leaving! It’s almost comical that by the time I was led there, it’s time to go.  But the eight short months I’ve been a part of that church, I’ve been fed the biggest, fattest spiritual steak you could ever imagine!  Pastor Scott has lived out Hebrews 5:12-14 and given me some serious spiritual food to gnaw on!  I now have an even bigger arsenal in my spiritual backpack with which to boldly proclaim the gospel.

While I’m sad to be leaving, I must lean into what the Word of God says in Isaiah 1:19.  The prophet proclaimed, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;”  I am willing.  I strive to be obedient.  And because I do, the Lord will allow me to know what the good things of the land were in California and what the good things are in Alabama.

I’ll miss you, California!

~Erin

If you are good

Airport COVID Masks

Two weeks ago, I made a quick trip via airplane.  And via a mask.

I made a few observations about masks while I was traveling between airports.

  • In the airport, everyone was wearing a mask without question. It made me wonder if you have money on the line (as in your purchased plane tickets), are you more compliant with mask wear?
  • Those who don’t want to wear the mask continuously drink and eat in public.  This made me wonder if we’ll survive COVID to find out that we are a more obese country as a result.
  • Masks seem to make it extremely hard to hear in the airplane.
  • The creativity of mask marketing is CRAZY!  I saw flags, businesses, NFL teams, BLM, Disney…you name it and there was a mask for it.
  • There is truth in the phrase that “you smile with your eyes”…and you can truly see that when a mask covers the actual smile.
  • Chewing peppermint gum with a mask causes minty breath to shoot straight up into one’s eyes…which in turn causes some eye-watering.

Despite my observations on mask-wear at the airport, I know that the topic of wearing a mask is contentious.  There are groups who are pro-mask wear and groups who are anti-mask wear.  There are various compelling arguments on both sides of this topic.

The division over masks got me thinking about if there were to be a Federal mandate for masks.  Would we still be so divided over it?  How would Christians react to a Federal law requiring masks in public?

Romans 13:1-2 (NASB) says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation themselves.”

When looking at this verse, I know I should adhere to the law, whether I agree with the law or not, in a way that would please our Lord.  We are so incredibly blessed to live in a nation that allows us the freedom to disagree and discuss. It’s a blessing to know that if we disagree with a law we are able to exercise the power of the pen and the power of the vote.

We have the responsibility to follow the law.  In addition to responsibility, we also have the right to assist with changing laws to align more closely with our Christian beliefs.  Let’s each keep that in mind as we vote in the coming weeks…and as we decide about where we stand on our mask-wearing compliance.

~Emily

mask airport

 

 

 

 

First Day of School Jitters

As we walked out the door for my son’s first day of 4th grade, he begged me to let him stay and homeschool this year.  When I asked why he didn’t want to go to school, he started to tear up. He said, “What if kids are mean to me?  What if they call me fat?”

This was the first alarming statement from my 9-year-old that he was concerned about his weight. We agreed to discuss options that evening, to include school and how we could assist with his weight perspectives.  But before the morning drop-off line, we prayed together.  My son put these worries at the feet of Jesus and trusted that God would provide a path for nice children.

That evening he reported that it was the “best 1st day of school so far!”  Furthermore, he said no one was mean to him.  No one called him fat. He was worried for nothing.

Isn’t this a similar situation to how we converse with God?

“Please God, let me do x-y-z” which typically is a plea for something that I think will be better than a current situation.  Just like my son begging to homeschool.   I have concerns and worries.  Just like my son, thinking kids would be mean. I express myself to God but it’s as though He says, “let’s discuss it later tonight.”  Just like my son hearing we chat about options after school.

Our God is so good to each of us and He has our best interest at heart.  Countless times I’ve heard that He will provide above our wildest dreams…and He usually does. God creates space where we end up having the “best 1st day of school” despite our worrying and concerns.

When we ask for God’s provision, we see His work in our lives more clearly. In Luke 12:31 (NASB) it says, “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

This verse offers guidance on seeking God and His Kingdom, so that blessings may be granted over your life.  When we pray to God in the midst of worry, “these things will be added to you.”

Kambell prayed for nice kids and a great school day.  He received the best 1st day of school.  His first day of school jitters turned into a praise report.

This week, I pray that those on the Iron Porch can turn their concerns into praise reports!  Let us know how we can help pray for you!

~Emily

1st day