“Dog Down”

I was 19 years old the first and only time that I hit a dog with my car.  I was traveling on a lonely stretch of I-40 from Albuquerque, NM to Altus, OK at about 10pm.  It was dark and I was one of several cars pacing slightly above the speed limit when out of nowhere a dog bolted across four lanes of traffic.   I slowed down as much as possible, but was unable to swerve, as there was a car in the lane next to me.  The front, left bumper clipped the dog in the back left hip.  This caused the dog to spin into a summersault landing in the medium.

During this time, I had been chatting on a CB radio with my then-husband who was in the truck in front of me.  As soon as I hit the dog, I yelled over the radio “DOG DOWN!”

I was so upset to think I may have killed the dog.  I pulled over to check the dog.  Several others pulled over too.

The gentleman who had been in the car one lane from me said, “Thank you for not swerving….you would have hit me for sure and then we’d both likely have gotten hurt.”  By then I was crying.  A local man offered kind words by saying, “Don’t worry…that dog lives right over there and runs into the interstate a couple times a week.  This isn’t the first time he’s been hit.”

How many times in life have you been the dog…running into traffic…running straight into the hurt you’ve already experienced…running straight into sinful behavior?

Continued sinful behavior hurts in many ways:

  1. It hurts us personally.

When we sin, we typically end up hurting ourselves in some capacity.  Lot’s wife hurt herself with sinful behavior.  She disobeyed her husband’s instructions, given by a loving God.  She then faced very serious consequences by giving into the temptation of sin.   “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back and she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26)

  1. It hurts others.

Catastrophic events can occur for others when we continue to sin.  For instance, when King Herod was angry about the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:3), he ordered the death of all male children in the Bethlehem region who were under two years old (Matthew 2:16).  In Herod’s rage, his sin caused tremendous hurt to the children and families in that area.

  1. It creates more sin…more hurt.

Often sinful behavior creates more sinful behavior. In Genesis, we see Eve sin by eating from the one tree that was forbidden. That sin creates a scenario where she tempts Adam to commit sinful behavior.  In turn, hiding in shame and covered with lies also becomes sinful behavior.

Sin can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss but know this…we are all sinners.  Every single one of us! And we all have the opportunity to accept this amazing gift of forgiveness and salvation.  After accepting that gift, continuing to deliberately sin is a cycle that creates hurt to yourself, towards others and it potentially cycles into more sin.

You become the dog that runs into traffic repeatedly, even at the cost of hurt.

This week I want to encourage you to turn from sinful behavior…it’s only causing some type of hurt.

~Emily

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

~1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

Dog Down

 

He Is My Refuge

You have your life planned out.  You know what college you’re going to, who you’re going to marry, how many kids you’ll have, where you want to create a home.  You have this idea of what your life is supposed to be like.  It’s like this perfect movie playing slow motion in your head.

But life doesn’t always work out that way.  You don’t get accepted to the college of your choice.  You marriage ends in a mess of a divorce.  The house you intended to make memories in is just a memory itself.  Nothing is the way you ever envisioned, and you cry out wanting to know why this shamble of a life you feel is not the dream you ever envisioned.

You cry out, “God, where are You?  Where WERE You?  I thought I heard You and where You wanted me.  And yet, here I am. Lost and feeling like I’m fighting this battle all on my own.”  It’s so easy to feel the loss of a dream by yourself, not recognizing His presence there with you.

Are we really alone, though, in the middle of our pain?  The truth is, I’ve felt that way more than once.  I’ve never questioned God as to where He was.  But I’ve certainly prayed that I wanted to feel Him closer to help take away some of the ache of change and loss.  Even when we’ve helped create that change, it can still be difficult to manage that hurt on our own.

God tells us often that we’re not alone…that He sees us even if it feels like we don’t see Him.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”  For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark.  –Psalm 91:1-4

I’ve had to play that verse over and over in my head.  One too many times, I felt the shift of my life in a direction that I never imagined.  I’ve gotten to the point where I decided I had to work through transition on my own.  But I didn’t.  Our Father saw me then and He sees me now.  He covered me with protection and comfort then, and He does the same even now.  He is my shield from the uncertainty and struggle.  He doesn’t remove the hurt, but He protects me as I go through it.

What about you today, dear friends?  Have you reached a moment in your life where you’ve had to remind yourself that God sees you and that you’re not going through life alone?  Share in the comments below how we can pray for you.

~Erin

His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark.

When Liars Become A Distraction

The enemy engages with us when we are least expecting it.  Often the enemy uses those around us to “get into” our head.  Occasionally, the circumstances seem genuine. Sometimes red flags are raised.  That’s how spiritual warfare works…sometimes subtly and other times overtly.

A “friend,” who I hadn’t heard from in years, contacted me via social media. This is a woman who I have had a challenging past with.  It’s also someone who thinks she has a vested interest in knowing about my life. Furthermore, it’s a gal who is very much into pagan paths of spiritualism.

Despite that past and her religious thinking, I wanted to believe the best of her intentions.   I chatted via emails over the course of a couple days.  Then she wrote something about one of her recent accomplishments, but it just didn’t make any sense to me.  I asked several questions, to which she had some interesting answers that also didn’t sound right.

God bless my Spidey-senses. God bless the Google-machine.  God bless a best friend who listened to my thoughts, helped investigate, and agreed with my assessment.  I reached the conclusion that her story was false. It was a farce. An untruth.

This seems like a fairly small and possibly benign daily encounter.  Except it interrupted my day. It took up space in my mind.  It made me question her motives.  And it frankly took time away from my family and my own endeavors.

Satan wants our minds to be cluttered with nonsense so that we lose focus on what is most important to us. I could have been reading with my son, exercising, cooking, or studying.  Instead, I was surfing the internet to investigate this woman’s claims.

A subtle form of spiritual warfare.

Exodus 23:1 (NIV) states, “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.”

What can you do if there is a liar in your midst that is causing a distraction?

  1. Pray. There’s nothing better than prayer to calm a troubled heart or mind. Bring the situation to the Lord and allow Him to work on your behalf.  When we bring our angst to the Lord, He opens our eyes and our ears to truth.
  2. Create Distance. This may require a few days away from the individual. It may require a social media break. It may require a complete severing of the relationship. Distance allows us to evaluate a situation and it allows us time to spend with the Lord.
  3. Evaluate Yourself. Ensure that you reflect on your role in the situation or scenario. Have you encouraged or discouraged behavior?  Perhaps there is nothing you have done…perhaps there was.  God will help you with that self-reflection and the conclusions you come to.

I don’t need a false friend, nor do I want to condone untruths.  Yet, I didn’t want to assist the negativity by confronting her or escalating the situation.  I didn’t want to become a malicious witness.  I simply deleted the conversation.  I blocked the individual on social media.

This scenario is one small example of how we can discern if the interaction is glorifying to God.  Or if it’s one that the enemy is using to distract us.  I choose to be focused and undistracted.

I pray that God continues to allow the gift of discernment to work in my life. I pray it works in your life as well.

~Emily

Liars

 

 

Servant vs. Slave

Several years ago, I served at a large church as the event coordinator for the monthly women’s events.  Because of the size of the events, there was a need for immense organization and planning months in advance.  There was a lack of commitment to pre-planning and subsequently, I ended up with a lot of last-minute changes dictated by the church leadership.   Initially, I was excited and joyful about the experience, but as time went on I became bitter about my role.  I had volunteered for this role, yet I began thinking of how I could resign gracefully.  I no longer wanted to serve in that capacity.

When you hear the word servant what do you think of? Within the context of the church if someone asks you to serve on a committee or in a ministry does it strike up an image in your head?  In your mind, does servant and slave have a different definition?

Servanthood is typically a voluntary position.  It involves willingly acting on behalf of another. It could be offering to get someone a cup of coffee. It could be sitting with nursing home residents playing bingo. It could even be assisting someone with changing a tire.

How does that differ from slavery? The definition of slavery is a distinctly negative one, which expresses that someone does not have a choice in their title or in the expectations for their performance.  It historically has involved hard labor with less than ideal living conditions.  We’ve seen slavery in our nation from before the Declaration of Independence.  We know that the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians in the Bible.  Even today, we are seeing an increase in slavery around the globe.

Think about this…what if within the walls of our churches, people are identifying unconsciously as a servant or as a slave?

What if I’m on a committee or involved with a ministry out of a sense of obligation? What if I’m tired, but I was guilted into staying in the nursery during service?  What if I’m in a position that is a mismatch with my spiritual gifts or natural talents?  Am I doing things out of fear of judgment?  Isn’t that a form of self-imposed slavery?

This is in contrast to the joy that is received with willingly volunteering in servanthood.  The person who is functioning in the perfect position for them. The member who is using the skills God gave them.

There’s a distinct difference in the attitude of the joyful servant and the obligated slave.  When this difference occurs in a church, there is a risk for tension to arise. People want to have a particular ministry program, but no one steps up to lead. Probably more common is that the faithful volunteers supporting the ministry programs of a church become over-extended and subsequently quitting.

When we serve, we need to be responsible for where we serve.  We need to have the discernment that we are serving where we are called by God to serve. For instance, if my spiritual gift is teaching, then I know I should not be on the evangelism team.

When we serve responsibility, we are witnessing to the goodness of Christ.  We begin to give visible, real, and tangible displays of God’s love.

 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracle of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and dominion forever and ever.

~1 Peter 4:10-11

Ultimately, we serve not for our own glory, but to honor our Lord.

I urge you to volunteer and become involved in your church through a servant’s heart. Do not volunteer out of obligation or through guilt…or you risk slipping into a mindset of slavery.

~Emily

@servantsheart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut To The Quick

I would like to think I’m a strong woman.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life.  I was, at one time, entrenched in sexual sin.  It’s not something I’m proud of.  However, through the Holy Spirit, I was reminded I was a beautiful child of the King who didn’t need her value and worth determined by a man.

I spent literally years praying to God and asking Him to forgive me for my actions and behaviors before I finally took heed to God’s Word.  It says in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”  Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgression from us.”  When I finally took those verses and truly hid them in my heart, I realized I was free of that sin.  When I repented and asked for His forgiveness, God gave it to me without hesitation.

But that doesn’t mean insecurity doesn’t creep in.  Last week while chatting with a group of friends, someone made an incredibly embarrassing comment about my past.  The remark was hurtful and degrading.  While I don’t think it was meant maliciously, it cut me to the quick.  It reminded me that while I have moved on, the devil still fights to keep my testimony mired down in humiliation and regret.

For quite a while, all I could think about was how I would never live down my past and how I would ever really be able to serve women.  Could I ever be able to fully commit to a ministry when my past is the fodder for jokes?

The answer the Holy Spirit gave me was clear.  YES.  My past and my sin may be humor for some, but it is no laughing matter to Jesus, because He let it go when I repented.

“’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.’” –Isaiah 1:18

My sins were covered and cleansed by Christ Himself.  My past, while not ideal, gives me the testimony to speak to women today.  It shows them that Jesus Christ can and does have the victory in our lives.  It doesn’t allow for judgment or shame, because our God took that shame and cast it away with the cry of redemption.  Thank you, Jesus for that grace.

For any who are ensnared by the lies of satan that your value is measured by your past, please take one of the verses written above and memorize it.  Hide it in your heart and speak it out boldly when the enemy tries to tear you down.  Allow God to have the victory in your past, present, and your future.

~Erin

Though your sins be as scarlet

Loneliness Blues

Have you ever experienced a moment of unexpected loneliness?  A moment that leaves you feeling all by yourself?  One that takes you by surprise?

Yesterday I took my husband and son to the airport so they could visit an ailing family member over spring break.  I wasn’t able to travel with them since I just started a new job three weeks ago.  If I’m being 100% honest, I had been looking forward to the week of quiet homework-free evenings with zero expectations of dinner preparations or housekeeping chores. I was dreaming about bubble baths, kitty snuggles with a good book, and early bedtimes for this tired mama.

When I arrived home from the airport, I wandered around the house.  I was aimless and restless. I had planned to clean the house and work in the garden so that I’d have the whole week of evenings free.  That didn’t happen. I couldn’t focus on the to-do list.  I wasn’t interested in the book I was reading. I couldn’t find anything interesting on tv.

I was lonely.  I was missing my boys, even though I had just seen them a few hours earlier.  Frankly, it took me by surprise because I had been looking forward to the alone time.

Rather than wallow in my loneliness blues, I decided to do something about it.  I got up and cleaned the bathrooms top to bottom.  I transplanted blueberry plants. I changed all the sheets.  A whole bunch of busy work which still left me unsatisfied and still feeling alone.

That’s when I changed my tactic. I opened my Bible.

While reading chapter 5 of 1 Peter, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief in reading verse 7.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” ~1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

My loneliness blues were cast on Him at that moment.  I felt immediate relief. You see, the feeling of loneliness was one that I could have given to God at the very moment I identified my unrest.  But I didn’t.  Why? Because I am human…and I tried to fix it myself.  Me “fixing” things hasn’t worked for me in the past…why would I think it would this time?!?!??!

In all seriousness, I should have known.  I should have remembered. I should have trusted…that God would take the loneliness from me.  That He alone would settle my unrest.

How do you deal with your loneliness blues? Are there specific scriptures that bring you comfort?  Come to the Porch to share….

~Emily

cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5_7 copy

 

 

 

Unbiblical Teachings

bible“It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.” Job 34:12 (NIV)

Dealing with untruths, when spoken as though they are the words of God, is one of the most difficult scenarios that a Christian can face.  Churches split, relationships are damaged, and hearts break over this very issue.

A few years ago, my husband and I each had a nudge from God to attended an established church that we fell in love with.  There was a large church following without multiple services. This was a church without debt. They added on to the building when they had funds.

The Pastor spoke words from the altar that defied political correctness. He was passionate. He provided offensive sermons and was unapologetic for those messages.  More than once I questioned his Biblical basis for his claims in sermons.  Yet my husband enjoyed the church and the services.

When the Pastor came to our house, he railed my husband about not being a “true” Christian head of the household.  Again, offensive and unapologetic.  Still, my husband was drawn to him and his teaching.

When this Pastor had a sermon on being fruitful and multiplying, the stage was set for my feelings to be hurt, based on my past experiences with infertility and miscarriages.

He preached that those who did not have multiple babies were being “unwilling” or “unfaithful” to spreading the Word of God.  He stated that if you weren’t pregnant, trying to get pregnant or having babies then you weren’t a strong enough Christian.  If you weren’t able to get pregnant, you weren’t praying hard enough. He stated that God gives His faithful and prayerful people what they ask for.  Therefore, if you are not receiving what you are praying for, then you are either unfaithful or don’t have a healthy prayer life.

Imagine my shock. The dagger to my heart when I realized that he was saying that my 20+ years of praying for a baby was not enough. That I wasn’t a strong enough Christian.

It was the first time I had been in doubt about my Christian walk based on the words of a Pastor. And it was the first time I defied my husband’s lead regarding the church.

You see, my husband liked this church and he liked the Pastor.  However, that was the last day I went to that church. My husband wanted to go back, but I refused. I did not believe it was Biblical teaching coming from the pulpit. I did not believe he was speaking to the hearts of Christians about God’s message.

It was not the first time that my husband saw the spiritual gift of discernment being used in our house, but it was certainly the first time that it caused chaos and contention.

After prayerful consideration, we found another church.  That decision was not easy.  It’s not always easy to follow your heart when you hear the true voice of God speak to you.

Come to the porch and share an experience where following the voice of God was not an easy road…

~Emily

unbiblical truth