Noah and the EMP

The power went out unexpectedly at the radio station that I listen to while I was driving home.  With clear skies, I wondered what could possibly have knocked out the power.  Ironically, when the host came back on he said something to the effect of every time the power goes out he thinks maybe an enemy country has launched an EMP attack (electromagnetic pulse attack) on America.  

An EMP would literally change almost every aspect of our lives.  No more electricity, non-working ATMs, no more internet, cell phone inoperable, no vehicles working…chaos.

There is global technology that could make it happen.  Our enemies could use this as a weapon.  We may or may not be ready for the impacts of an EMP event.  While some think it’s a conspiracy theory, the reality is that based upon our technological advancements, an EMP attack is a possibility. 

The knowledge that there are those in the world with this technology at the exact same time that there are others who disbelieve this is a possibility, makes me think about those nay-sayers during Noah’s time. 

Starting in Genesis chapter 5 though chapter 10, we see Noah following the guidance from God to build a ginormous ark. The story unfolds with Noah and his family getting animals onto the ark, as well as the time on the ark during the unrelenting rain and subsequent global flooding.  

Here’s a beautiful story of the faithfulness of Noah.  Yet while Noah was committed to the directions from God, there were countless doubters, troublemakers and nay-sayers.  They showed up day after day, in disbelief of the prophecy, causing issues for Noah and his family. 

By no means am I comparing the anger of God to flood the earth with a potential enemy EMP attack.  Nor am I comparing the faithfulness of Noah with those who might believe in an EMPs possibility.  However, I am interested in how there are people in both scenarios who are in doubt and create chaos for others.  

In both scenarios, the doubters have an opportunity to prepare for the coming chaos.  One could say that preparation could come in the form of your own boat building…or having a collection of extra canned goods. 

The reality is that the preparations in both instances should be focused on knowing God.  When we know Christ as our Savior, when we are prayerful, when we study the Word, and when we assist others in their walk with Christ…that is when the preparations are meaningful and impactful.

It doesn’t have to be a global flood or an EMP that upends a life.  It could be a loss in revenue, a new bill, a divorce, a death, or countless other things. The preparation for every single event of chaos includes a stronger relationship with Christ.   

When the power went out, the local radio host was joking about an EMP, but it’s a reminder of just how quickly everything could change for society. How prepared are we when it comes to our faithfulness to God’s direction? 

~Emily

“Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.” Psalms 119:90

Don’t Hit the Deer!

Emily and I just got back from a trip where we drove cross-country.  Our relationship is one where I’m always the driver (insert my control factor here) and she’s the navigator (she really does a fantastic job).  I’ve always loved road trips and have never backed down from one.  I travelled all over Germany as a child, so it’s practically in my DNA to make a batch of lemon stickies, throw our pillows and blankets in the car with the suitcases and drive rather than fly anywhere.

As I’ve gotten older, however, I find I’ve begun to prefer less driving at night.  Five years ago, my girls and I would drive 15+ hours in the car on the first leg of the trip, driving late into the night so that we would have a short day the next day in the car.  It didn’t bother me in the least.  As I’ve aged, I’m actually now afraid that my eyes aren’t going to efficiently catch my surroundings.  Do you know what I’m afraid of?  I’m afraid of hitting a deer.  (Emily, we will NOT discuss the raccoon from a week ago until I’ve sufficiently recovered.)

They dart out in the darkness of night and think nothing of the people driving along the highway other than “your road is in my way.”  I’ve seen them multiple times just grazing right on the edge of the road, and I keep thinking to myself as I get closer Please stay there!  I have to be on my guard to make sure that I see what’s on either side and am prepared for what may bolt out into my path.

I should be just as aware when it comes to the wiles of the devil.  The Bible says in I Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirt, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The devil prowls around.  He’s lurking along the edges of our walk with God looking for ways to interfere.  It’s typically not blatant or obvious.  It’s subtle and crafty.  He’s standing just close enough to see when he might pounce.  He’s taking his time looking to see what’s available to mess with.  Then before we’ve realized it, he’s bounded into our path and worked overtime to hurt our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

We must be constantly vigilant about satan trying to wreak havoc.  Just like I have to be on guard for the deer jumping out in the road, we must make sure we are prepared for satan’s temptations.

How do we do that?  We start by having a relationship with Jesus and asking Him to be our Lord and Savior.  We have a faithful prayer life, bringing our petitions to God.  We pray that we will consistently put on the whole armor of God.  We read His Word.  The Bible is God-breathed.  We need only look on those pages to see what God would have us do and how to be ready for battle.  We commune with fellow believers!  Surrounding yourself with other Christ-followers allow us to join together as we battle the tempter.

Sweet friend, I challenge you to be aware of your surroundings.  Be prepared and vigilant for the fight against satan!  And remember, God always gets the victory!

~Erin

The Stages Of Cancer

While some physicians still use stages and grading in cancer explanations, did you know that the medical profession is moving away from letting you know what “stage” of cancer you or your loved one may have?

Why?  Mostly because cancer, while not entirely curable, is treatable.  Even the most horrible of diagnoses usually have some type of treatment plan.  

According to WebMD, there are still distinct stages, regardless of if your doctor tells you a stage.

Stage 0 means there’s no cancer, only abnormal cells with the potential to become cancer. 

– Stage I means the cancer is small and only in one area. This is also called early-stage cancer.

Stage II and III mean the cancer is larger and has grown into nearby tissues or lymph nodes (Stage III also can indicate that the cancer has crossed a diagonal sphere in the body…for instance left breast and right kidney). 

Stage IV means the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. It’s also called advanced or metastatic cancer.

How do I know all this?  Most of this knowledge is from 2013, when my younger brother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma.  A deadly diagnosis that had me praying like I’d never prayed before.  

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22 (ESV)

Eight years later, my brother is thriving.

Eight years later, our family is facing a slightly different scenario with just as scary diagnosis for my Dad.  The dreaded words cancer…with a physician who doesn’t use staging or grades.

But our family has been through this before, so we know the lingo and understand all the scans.  We know…even if they aren’t saying it…that this is Stage 4.

And so we start praying against cancer again…without ceasing. You see, our family has seen the Stage 4 cancer miracle before, so we know that our mighty and all-powerful God can deliver again.  

No matter what the outcome, my Dad will be healed.  On Earth or in Heaven…there will be healing.  

If you have room on your plate of prayer requests, can you please add comfort and painlessness for my Dad (Steve) and calm nerves with a full night of sleep for my mom (Wendy).  All prayers are appreciated!  

~Emily

The Growing Up Children

Peyton has one year left of school, and it’s moving at lightning speed!  Tomorrow we’ll order her cap and gown and before long, we’ll be addressing graduation announcements to let everyone know she’s finally finished with high school.  The thought of her going to college (whether she still lives with us or not) or even just moving out on her own has me scared to death!

For 17 years, I’ve taken care of her.  I’ve been responsible for making sure she has food, clothing, an education, kisses to bed, hugs to leave for school, and bandaids for the boo-boos.  I’ve been there to talk about boys, or cry about boys, or eat gallons of ice cream over boys.  I’ve been in charge of taking her to church, leading her growth in Christ, and nurturing a Godly household.  And before I know it, my job will be over in that way, and she’ll be taking care of herself.

I worry.  What parent (or grandparent, aunt, uncle, or family friend) doesn’t?  We watch our children grow and make mistakes, most often the same mistakes we made as a kid.  And then we worry about how they will handle it when we’re not around to hold their hand and guide them to a smart decision.

During this time, I find strength in this verse.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” –Isaiah 26:3

I don’t have to worry.  When I keep my mind focused on the love of the Father, He gives me the peace I need.  It’s a peace that allows me to remember that He will watch over Peyton as she finishes high school, as she makes decisions about college, and decides when it’s time to move out.

Peyton may make decisions that I won’t like.  She may choose a path that I won’t agree with.  But I can take comfort in God’s perfect plan for her life.  I need only to trust in Him.

How about you, friends?  Do any of you worry about your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors!?  Come to the porch and share!  We’d love to pray over your children.

~Erin

What is the One Thing You Would Change?

During a visit with my dear friend Amber, she asked me a thought-provoking question.  

It’s one that I’ve thought about frequently for 2 years. 

If there was one thing in my life I could change, what would it be?

Does that mean right now?  As in, I want a different car? A different career? A different shirt?

Or does that mean something significant that would have changed the course of my life or my impact on others? 

Would it be accepting the assignment to England earlier in my Air Force career?

Getting baptized earlier? Starting a ministry in the midst of doubt?

Would it be starting my Doctorate immediately after my Masters or wait?

Adoption sooner?  More kiddos in my house?

A different retirement location?  

One thing I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would change is from the night of my Senior prom.  You see, my mom had to work that night and I’d told her that my date and I would swing by her workplace so she could see us all dressed up.  But we were running behind…and rather than be late to dinner, we skipped going by to see my mom.  I distinctly remember her face the next day saying that she was sad that she didn’t get to see me.  


I can only imagine her anticipation at work slowing turning into the realization that I wasn’t coming.  To this day, I regret disappointing my mom so completely.  

Other than disappointing my mom on prom night, my answer is pretty simple…I don’t know that there is much I would change.  Even the awful decisions and consequences of my life had purpose.  I would not be who I am today without many of these “learning opportunities.”  

I wonder if Paul (formerly Saul) would change anything from his life.  At the time of his conversion to Christianity, he was a well-known, educated Jew, who actively participated in the persecution of Christ-followers.  He was aggressive in finding Christians.  He was meticulous in punishing them. He wanted to eradicate Christians.  And he was mean in that desire.

An example of his actions is seen in Acts Chapter 7 when he gladly holds the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen, the 1stmartyr for Christianity.  In Acts 8:1 (CSB) it states, “Saul agreed with putting him to death.”  Other versions state that Saul was “delighted” by Stephen’s death.  

Delighted?   

To me, that screams of maliciousness.  It seems extremely mean-spirited.  

Yet just a one chapter later, we find ourselves reading about Saul on the road to Damascus, where he encounters the voice of Jesus and is struck blind.  Talk about the Lord getting his attention in a major way!!! The good news is that at that point Saul believes in Christ and the conversion through salvation.  He is forgiven of his sins, his sight is restored, he is renamed Paul, and he becomes a staunch supporter of the Gospel.  The epitome of forgiveness, grace and salvation.  

I imagine there was then moments of great doubt, remorse, and regret about the life he had previously led.  Hypothetically if I were Paul, I would have a few things that I’d like to change about my past.  In 1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV) we see that Paul said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

Paul believed he was the Chief Sinner.  The worst of the worst.  

While we understand that God doesn’t rack-and-stack sinful behavior, counting one more egregious than another, what we do see from 1 Timothy is that Paul did have remorse and acknowledgment of his awful behavior in the past.  

Would he have wanted to change the past?  Probably, yes.  But I would argue that it was his aggressive persecution of Christians in his past that made him so much more relatable and a solid witness for Christ later in life.  Perhaps in the midst of regretting the past, Paul was wise enough to know that his past, while terrible, would serve a future purpose.  

You see, every bad decision and tragic event of our past makes us who we are today.  And God will use every experience in our past for His glory now.  

There’s not much in my life that I would change. Every single decision and event has shaped me into the person that I am today. 

Is there something you would change in your life? Come to the porch and share your thoughts. 

~Emily

The Trolls of Life

According to internet slang, a social media troll is someone who creates conflict on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit (although it can be any site) by posting messages that are particularly controversial or inflammatory with the sole intent of provoking a typically negative emotional response from other users.

We’ve all seen them in action. 

On the Iron Porch, we’ve been blessed to have had minimal interactions with social media trolls.  However, the social media accounts that I am an admin for at work…those have plenty of social media trolls.  People who love to create conflict and drama. At work, we’ve found they use their real names, but they occasionally use fake accounts in an attempt to hide their cyberbullying.    

Some ways to spot a social media troll is that they occasionally use derogatory language, have an inability to listen to reason, and their internet fights seem to indicate lots of free time to start arguments.  They are soooooo persistent.  

Do you have the aggravating and provocative trolls in your personal life?  The people who create chaos and thrive in drama?  

In the world of social media trolls, the advice includes not taking it personally and not engaging with the troll.  

That’s hard to do with real-life people.  

As Christians, we’re often reminded to turn the other cheek, but that’s just as difficult in some scenarios. We’re are also reminded that our tongue becomes a weapon, so not speaking back to a troll is also a hard part of Christian living.  Of course, it’s also hard to not take it personally when we’re attacked in degrading ways.  

A verse that has been helping me keep the social media trolls at bay is Proverbs 20:3. “A fool’s anger is known at once, but a prudent person conceals dishonor” (NASB).  I particularly like the New International Version of the same verse that states, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” 

I keep the verse written out in the folder that holds all my documents concerning my work-related social media accounts.  It helps remind me that I don’t have to engage with the trolls, nor do I have to take it personally. 

I know it’s not easy to have a troll in your life…in person or on social media.  I’d love to hear what scriptures you have been using for yourself while dealing with the trolls of life.

~Emily

Do We Really Think We Can Hide?

Many years ago when McKenna was 14, she called me to ask if she could go do something with a friend.  As I was going through the list of common parenting questions and rules, I stopped and said, “Don’t you roll your eyes at me, McKenna,” to which she instantly replied, “HOW DID YOU KNOW?!”  She quickly told her friend what I had said.  We got such a kick out of it, and I used that moment to remind her that parents know everything—there was nothing she could do that was wrong and get away with it!  We still laugh about it to this day.

I thought about that story when I was reading my Bible this morning.  I’m working through the book of Joshua with Table 8 (my California Bible study group).  In chapter 7 we see that Achan has taken spoils of the battle in Jericho and has hidden them in his tent from Joshua, the other Israelites, and God.  As a result, the initial advancement into the next city of Ai results in the defeat of the Israelites.

Joshua falls to his knees and asks God why He turned His back on his people and let them be defeated.  God reveals that Israel sinned against Him by taking spoils of war when He explicitly told them to take nothing.  He led Joshua through the process of determining who it was that sinned.   Joshua 7:21 shows us that Achan admitted that he had coveted, taken, and concealed some things from the city.

The rest of the story is rich with great material to study, but let’s pause right there.  The spoils of war were taken at the battle of Jericho, and Achan decided he could hide them.  From God.  I’m guessing his coveting of the objects was so great, that he forgot that God, the Creator of the world, knows everything.  There isn’t anything that’s hidden from Him.

At first I thought, What a bonehead!  But of course, conviction set in because you know who else does that?  I do!  There are areas in my life where I covet the things around me, where my speech isn’t seasoned with love and grace, or where my thoughts are not kind and generous.  I blow those sins off as minor or simply try to forget them because “I’m human.  Mistakes happen.”  I might as well be trying to hide those sins from God.

But there are consequences for our sin.  When we try to hide our sin, it creates a wedge between us and God.  His heart is hurt for the disobedience of His child.   It can start a slippery slope of leading us further from God and the path He has called us to.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –1 John 1:9

We are called to repent of those sins so that He may forgive us and cleanse us.

Dear friends, I urge you to stop trying to hide your sins from God.  I’m taking this week to really reflect on areas where I have tried to hide sin as Achan did and then repent of it to our Heavenly Father.  He is eager to forgive.  Will you join me?

~Erin

At Each Other’s Throats

There are days lately where my heart hurts to be on Facebook anymore.  So many people at each other’s throats about what they think or what they believe.  I see people on one side of the fence calling the other side ‘sheep’ who approve of socialism and government over-reach.  I see people on the other side saying if you don’t decide to vaccinate or wear a mask, you are a moron incapable of being able to do intelligent research.  I watch someone call the other a “stupid right-wing nut job” for thinking President Biden isn’t handling Afghanistan well.  The other side says you’re too blind to see that President Biden couldn’t handle tying his own shoes.  These are actual things I’ve seen on social media.

It’s enough to make me scream.  What happened to being loving and gracious?  When did we become a people that believe we are the only ones capable of rational thought?  When did we become a society that put politics over prayer?

As Christians, we have a responsibility to love one another whether we agree or don’t.  As people who were made in God’s image, we are called to honor what He commands us to do like praying for one another, being kind, and tender-hearted.  We’re not to prove who’s wrong or right.  We’re not meant to make sure people feel stupid for making a decision you would never make.  And loving them and praying for them doesn’t mean you approve of their decisions.  It means simply that…you’re loving them and praying for them. 

What I’m saying is that no matter what side of the vaccine, masks, or presidency we’re on, we should be coming together to love, to witness, and to pray.  Pray for our nation.  Pray for our leaders.  Pray for our friends and family.  Pray for other countries.  Pray for our neighbors.  Pray for the doctors, nurses and hospitals.  Pray for our enemies. 

Satan would love nothing more than to divide Christians and keep us from focusing solely on God.  He relishes the thought of people going after each other rather than coming together to pray to our Jehovah-Rapha, the God who Heals.

I implore you, dear friends.  Take the time to love and pray for each other, no matter what side of the fence you’re on.  At the end of the day, there’s only one side… God’s.

~Erin

Automatic Doors of Life

A little boy stepped on the automated rubber mat…jumping on it over and over again as the glass doors slid open and shut. He was not deterred by the gentle tug of his mother’s hand.  The jumping continued even with his arm stretched out further and further by his mom.  All he saw in that moment was that he controlled the opening/closing of the sliding glass doors.  He was enthralled with his new-found superpower.  

If only I could control my life like that!

Have you ever wished that you had the ability to jump on a rubber mat in order to open and close doors?  I’ve desired the control over simple and more complex things of my life. 

You know which opening and closing glass door I can control?  My own mouth.

While there are dozens of examples in the Bible of how we should control our mouths.  Here are just three of those examples:

Proverbs 13:3 (ESV) “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

1 Peter 3:10 (NASB) “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” 

James 1:19 (NASB) “You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger…”

Scripture gives us clear direction that our mouths are controllable, but we often let them go wild without constraint.  We lose control over our mouths in such detrimental ways.  It may be through gossip, or a false statement. We lose control when we use a swear word, or a harsh criticism.  It’s even when we repeat an inappropriate joke or sing along to the popular song that is not so wholesome.  

Instead of randomly jumping up and down on a rubber mat; allowing our mouth to open and close at any ol’ time, perhaps now is the time to slow down and become more deliberate in controlling our tongue.  

By no means do I have control over my own tongue (and as evident by prior blog entries, I have struggled with profanity).  However, I’ve written down some goals that I’m going to implement so that I have better control over what I am saying.

1. Slow down on the cursing (stopping all together is the ultimate goal)

2. Replacing sketchy lyrics from the radio with Gospel Music/Contemporary Christian Music

3. Offering a compliment…even when I want to offer the criticism

4. Issuing silent prayers/pleas for help to the Lord when I’m in contentious conversations

I may not be able to control everything in my life, but I can wrangle in some control over my tongue. I’m going to stop jumping on the rubber mat, watching the door open and close on its own.  Instead, I’m going to start being deliberate about closing my mouth when it should stay shut, and opening it only when necessary and when its kind words flowing from it.

How are you working on the automatic doors of your own life?  Come to the porch and share your goals with us!

~Emily

My Friend, Jennifer

Last Tuesday, I lost a friend to Covid-19.  I know it can happen to anyone.  I just didn’t think it would hit me this close to home.  I met Jennifer more than 7 years ago.  One of my favorite memories with her is when her sweet oldest son took my daughter to a dance.  We got such a kick out of “grilling” Jakob on how he was going to treat McKenna that night.  He was a class act because he had a classy mom.

In the last week, there has been post after post on Facebook, people shocked at the fact she’s gone.  Story after story leaped off the page. 

“She listened to me.” 

“She gave me wise advice.” 

“She was funny.” 

“She loved Jesus.” 

“She brought me back to church.” 

“She was an amazing mom and wife.” 

“She was generous to everyone.”

Literally hundreds of people have written about how she touched their lives in some way or another.  And it got me to thinking, what impact will I leave when my time on earth is done?  You see, Jennifer was a Christian, and she lived that faith out every day of her life.  She honored her husband and you could see their love. Her children were her heritage from the Lord and she was so proud of them. She took seriously the commands to love one another, take care of the less fortunate, and spread the good news of Jesus.  She wasn’t ashamed of who she was and took pride in knowing she was a child of the King. 

Are we the same way?  There are so many verses in the bible that tell us how to live our life.

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” –Proverbs 19:17

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” –Romans 15:13

“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” –Mark 16:15

I want to have the kind of impact that Jennifer had on people.  She didn’t just give lip service.  She didn’t do ‘just enough’ to earn Jesus-brownie-points.  With her interactions among strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family, our Creator was the center of it all. She lived every day like she was in the presence of God because she knew she was.  She was filled with the Holy Spirit as a believer.

I pray that the light of Jesus can shine through me as much as it did in her.  My prayer for my life is that people see how God impacted me to impact them.

We’ll miss you, Jennifer.  We were blessed to know you.  You are assuredly a beautiful example of a Godly woman.

~Erin

Jennifer Levengood 1974-2021