Financial Management Lessons

There’s an elderly couple who each have new vehicles plus new recreational vehicles.  Awesome for them.  I hope I’m financially savvy enough & hip-to-the-jive in my 70s or 80s to want a new car.  

The problem is that they are financing all of the items.  After monthly minimums are paid, they have very little left over and often can’t pay to heat or cool the house.  Sometimes is challenging to even purchase food to fill their bellies.   The local church and neighbors help extensively with small chores and tasks, as well as filling gas tanks and getting groceries.  

This is a beautiful example of generosity and of the kindness of others to care for this elderly couple.  It’s “do unto others…” and “love your neighbor…” in practice.  

There is also a reminder in this scenario about financial management. Jesus spoke frequently about how we should manage our money.  Who knew that the New Testament is filled with financial management lessons!?!?!?!?

1. Finances Are a Test of Our Trustworthiness

Most of us hate the idea that we’re being tested daily based on our thoughts, words, and actions.  But our finances can be boiled down to yet another test.  In Luke 16:11, we see that if we can’t be trusted with our worldly wealth, then it’s difficult to believe we can be trusted with Christ’s true riches.

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? ~Luke 16:11 (NIV)

In visiting scripture concerning the Parable of the Talents, we are able to see the test of finances, as Jesus described them.  The parable tells of a supervisor who trusts finances with three different employees…essentially to see how they will react to the management of money.  Each employee was given a different amount of money: five talents, three talents, one talent.  The man with the most success ended up doubling his money, while the man with the least, buried his thinking saving was good enough.  The manager took the one talent back and gave it to the man who was able to make money with wise investments.  

The test was to see how they managed the money.  God will also test us in order to gauge what else we can be trusted with; perhaps once tested we’ll be trusted with ministry positions, adoptions, Gospel sharing or countless other things.

2. Financial Management Must Include Making a Budget

It may come a surprise that Jesus gave us instructions about creating a budget…and staying with it.  In Luke chapter 14, we see the example of budgeting with estimates of final costs when investing in a new building.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ ~Luke 14:28-30 (NIV).

God does not want his children to be in a scenario where we can’t finish what we’ve started due to poor planning.  We must be financially responsible to plan our purchases, our investments, and our long-term projects.  

You could argue that the design and execution of a budget is an extension of the test regarding our finances.  If we are able to budget, as well as manage money, we should be trustworthy enough to manage God’s true wealth.

You can purchase new vehicles, go on fabulous vacations, purchase wonderful gifts, and have nice items in your life.  However, those items need to be within your individual budget and managed appropriately.  

~Emily

Two Lanes at the Drive-Thru

True confession time.  If I pull into a drive thru and there are two lanes taking orders, I always (as in 100% of the time) contemplate leaving the establishment.  Seriously.  It does not matter if I’m thirsty, if I’m hungry, if I lack caffeine or even if I have screaming children in the back seat.  I despise the two-lane drive-thru concept.  

Inevitably, someone doesn’t understand the zipper concept and cuts into line ahead of the other lane.  At the window, chaos ensues due to the cars being out of order. It happened today when the lady in front of us ended it with our son’s chicken nuggets and our bag held her child’s cheese burgers without onion.  

I understand that the two-lane ordering assists with quicker service, but I still dislike the process.  I wish there was a green-yellow-red light for the merging part of ordering.

While I wish there was a green-yellow-red light at the drive thru, we often use the green-yellow-red thought process when it comes to sharing the Gospel.  We may use yellow as a caution (or red as an out-right stop) that the person isn’t ready to hear the Gospel.  We think they may not be ready, so we decline to fulfill our portion of the Great Commission.  Perhaps a better approach would be to assume that everyone is a green light and start sharing with everyone. 

Like the merging of two lanes requiring patience and a little intuition, the sharing of the Gospel also requires both.  The patience needed when sharing God’s love with the world is most often seen when presenting the Good News repeatedly to the same person or groups of people.  We may get frustrated that they don’t “merge into their lane at the right time” when in reality, God has their hearts ready at His time.  

In Matthew 28:19 (NASB), we read the following command, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

God said, “Go…”  He didn’t say, “convince them” or “argue with them” or “brow beat them.”  He simply said, “Go.”  We can rest assured that our God is going to take care of the rest.  

If we approach the unbelievers in our friend circles, in our workplaces, and even in the grocery store, as though they are a Green-Light, we will have accomplished the “Go.”  God will handle the rest. 

The merging of two lanes into one at a drive thru will likely always cause me grief.  But that merging of believers “going” with God’s “doing” will create an eternity filled with sinners who heard the Gospel and believed.  

This week let’s strive to be the green light and Go!

~Emily

Studying Revelation

Table 8 has talked for months, maybe even years, about studying the book of Revelation.  It’s been brought up casually, but I’ve never given it much thought.  Instead, after praying about what our next study would be, every time I would feel God leading us to a different book of the Bible. 

Emily has talked about studying Revelation.  She’s started and I’ve seen the copious amounts of notes she’s taken.  At one point, a church we went to was going through the book of Revelation while we were visiting.  It seems I can’t escape the book of Revelation…even though that’s an impossibility! (See what I did there?  Christian humor!)

In February, it got brought up again with Table 8 and I explained that I don’t know enough about the details of Revelation to go through the book as a leader.  Dianne replied, “You can learn along with the rest of us!  Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you have to have the answers up front!”  And, just like that, I felt the conviction to be leaning in.

You see, the reason I was never interested in digging deep into the book of Revelation was because the depth of the book actually scared me!  I know enough to know there’s a tribulation.  I’m confident I won’t be here when it takes place.  I know lots of PIECES due to excellent pastoral leadership throughout my life.  But to understand Bowl Judgments versus the Seals versus the Horsemen…it all just feels overwhelming!  Do any of you feel that way about studying this book of the Bible?!

However, Dianne was right.  While, as a leader, I’m responsible for knowing and understanding the material and guiding the women to better comprehend, it doesn’t mean I have to be the subject matter expert.  That’s what they create…mic drop…Bible study for!  There are dozens of great commentaries and study Bibles that can really teach you as you walk through Revelation.  I just have to be willing!

It’s so funny to me when I think about it.  I’ve been intrigued this last year or so with the idea of Christian Apologetics and learning from some great teachers, that I forgot that I can do the same as them!  I can read and study and grow in the knowledge of what the book has to say!  And lest you think the Bible doesn’t say something about that, 1 Peter 3:15 states “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

Peter is telling us that we should be ready to make an argument or defense FOR God at a moment’s notice.  Part of speaking to that hope that is in us involves not only who Jesus is and what He did for us, but what will be to come and what awaits us in heaven!  That is the full picture!

I was convinced.  Beginning in September, we’re going to be studying the book of Revelation.  I’m taking the time over the summer to learn more about it with Emily so that I can be at least a little prepared.  And Emily’s Tuesday’s Table is joining in to study Revelation alongside us!

I pray that if you’re on the fence about studying scripture, whether it be a verse or an entire book, do not be afraid like I was about what’s involved.  Studying brings maturity and with maturity comes a better understanding of what it says!  Let’s all get to cracking open the beautiful Word of God.

~Erin

The Monday After Easter

When I was a child, the Monday after Easter always included potato salad in order to use up some of the dyed hard-boiled eggs that had been hidden the morning before.  Watching my son, the Monday after Easter includes smuggling candy to school and breaking in new shoes that were in his baskets.  As a child the Monday after Easter did not include much reflection on the significance of the “day after” the resurrection.  

On this Monday after Easter, I wonder what you are doing and thinking?  Was Sunday a day of family gatherings, a day of matching clothes, of delicious food, of family photos, or even one of wonderful worship at a church you only attend a few times a year? Are you reflecting on family fights, messy kitchens, or money spent on Easter baskets and clothes?  

Are you thinking of Jesus and his sacrifice?  Are you wondering about the glory of this miracle of saving Grace?  Does this Monday mean the start of real Christian living and serving?  

Or is the Monday after Easter a letdown for you?  Another start to the work week, complete with baseball games and ACAP testing for the kiddos, and laundry or grocery shopping to be done?  

Both Luke and Matthew record doubt and bewilderment on Resurrection Sunday; what we now know as Easter.  After reading the Gospels, I wonder what the Monday after Easter was like for the disciples, the women at the tomb, Jesus’ mother, and the followers of Christ.  They were likely still filled with wonder and excitement over all of the events the day before.  Word was still spreading and it would have been filled with anticipation and rejoicing (and probably some skepticism which led them to be labeled as delusional).  At that point, the resurrection of Christ was so new and in some cases so terrifying, that many may have been filled with fear and trembling rather than pure excitement about the implications of Christ’s resurrection.

The Monday after Easter for them would have been one of wonder…but also one of dismay and uncertainty.  The Monday after Easter would have been when the work of spreading the word began in earnest.  

In 2022, we have a different perspective on the events of Jesus’ life; specifically, Easter.  We celebrate this as a major Christian holy day.  We rejoice in our relationship with the Savior.  We worship diligently and find our place in pews with other believers.

But most likely our Monday after Easter is just another Monday.  Or is it?  Could we capture the wonder and excitement of the past?  Can we be just as diligent in sharing the Good News?  Can we hold on to the knowledge we hold tight to our heart on Easter morning?  

Whether you are a child smuggling candy to school, a New Testament disciple being labeled delusional, or a current day Christian working to emulate the life of Christ, please know that the Monday after Easter is the day we have a chance to show the world the Grace of God.   We have great opportunity on the Monday after Easter to initiate the Great Commission. 

Make a difference in someone’s life this Monday after Easter.

~Emily

“When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.  And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, ‘Get up, and do not be afraid.’ And raising their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” ~Matthew 17:6-8 (NASB)

The Greatest Gift

As Good Friday comes upon us, I pray that we all can take time to remember the great sacrifice that was paid for our sins.  The Bible tells us in Romans that we are all sinners.  “There is none righteous, no not one,” Romans 3:10 tells us.  We didn’t deserve for Jesus to come to earth so that He could be a sacrifice for our sins. 

Yet, He loved us enough that He did exactly that. John 3:16 tells us just how loved we are by God.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  He became sin for us so that we might know eternal life with Him.

Jesus was beaten and tortured.  He had a crown of thorns pushed into His scalp.  He was scourged with a cat of nine tails which had metal and glass and nails attached to the leather straps.  His flesh was torn off.  And if that wasn’t enough, they nailed Him to a tree.  They mocked Him.  But they didn’t realize that they were completing what the prophecies had foretold.

The blood that poured from His body was meant to be the sacrifice.  Our very own spotless Lamb was willing to let His blood cover our sins.  It covered it all.  It washes us clean.  It makes us whole.  And when He rose on the third day, He showed His power, His glory and His might.  Our God is a living God who reigns today!

Maybe you’re wondering how you can be washed clean by the blood of a risen Savior?  I encourage you to examine your heart today, right now, as you’re reading this.  If you don’t know that He is your Lord and Savior, here is a prayer for you to speak to God:  I know that I’m a sinner.  I ask for Your forgiveness.  I believe You died for my sins and rose on the third day.  I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life.  I want to trust You as my Savior. 

If you prayed that prayer today, then congratulations!  You are a part of the family of God!  Don’t forget to share this decision with someone, and get connected with a Christian you know or a church that can help you learn and grow in God’s grace!  It’s the best decision you could ever make! 

May you have a blessed Easter!

~Erin

Tax Day: What Do You Owe Uncle Sam vs. What Do You Owe God?

Throughout the decades, April 15th has been one of the more dreaded days for Americans.  It’s tax day.  The day we owe the government our income tax forms and possibly money.  

In today’s society, there seems to be a less frantic filing frenzy due to the internet.  In the past, those who waited until the last minute would count on the post office staying open until midnight, just to ensure that the filing was postmarked by twelve o’clock.  

Seems pretty straightforward: We owe the Government our Tax Forms by April 15th.  Sometimes they owe us a refund…sometimes we owe even more money.  

Jesus told us “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

The question then becomes, what do we owe God?  

The easy answer is that we owe Him everything.  We have literally been purchased at the terrible price of Jesus’ torture and execution on the cross.  As a result of that very high payment, you would think we would have a laundry list of what we’d like to “owe” God.  

Because we belong to God, if we have accepted Christ as our Savior, God has a right to expect that we will render certain things unto Him.  Similarly, if we are citizens of the United States, the government has the right to expect we will pay income taxes. 

But the eternal impact of our salvation is a much greater rendering than simply paying taxes.  We have an obligation to present ourselves as a “living sacrifice, made holy and acceptable to God.”  We are commanded to present God with our tithes and offerings (this includes the offering of our time and talents through service to others).  God desires relationships with us and fellowship that is meaningful.  There is an expectation that we will speak to Him through prayer and that we will study His Word.  It is expected that we will share the Gospel, guide others to the gift of salvation, and continue to mentor others as we mature in our own walk.

– Present myself to God as holy and acceptable.

– Tithes and offerings.

– Relationship with God.

– Prayer and Study of the Bible.

– Share the Gospel.

– Make Disciples.


Sounds pretty reasonable, considering the price that was paid for my salvation.  

At a time when we are preoccupied with what we owe the American government, we would be better served to consider what we owe God…on tax day…and every day…and especially when Tax Day and Good Friday coincide.  

~Emily

The Wind That Blows

My office has a large window that looks out into the woods behind my house.  It’s windy today, and I’ve been watching the wind blow the trees back and forth as the weather gears up for what could be a big storm tonight.  The very tall and thin trees sway in the breeze, and it’s actually beautiful to watch…as long as you don’t think about the damage they could do if the wind caught it just right and knocked it over a little too close to my house!

God uses nature as lessons in the Bible a lot.  The wind is spoken of often, and since Table 8 (my Monday night Bible study) is studying James, chapter 1, verse 6 immediately came to mind; “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

The Bible speaks to our belief in our Creator.  We don’t want to be blown about as we seek God.  We want to be confident in who He is and what He does.  We should know that His promises to us are good and true and pure.  He has the best plan for us, the best future. 

The wind can cause great damage when we are not firmly rooted in the truth and knowledge that is God.  We should be sure of His character and not be tossed about by the winds of uncertainty and sin.  We need to firmly root ourselves in Him.  That involves a personal relationship with Him.  It involves reading God’s Word, ceaselessly praying, involving ourselves in a community of believers.  All of those actions allow us to plant deep.  When the wind comes and sways us back and forth, we can be confident that the roots are deep enough and our faith strong enough to withstand the potential storm.

I pray, Iron Porch, that we root ourselves deep in Jesus Christ so that the wind, though it staggers us back and forth, knows no power over our Heavenly Father.

~Erin

Tribute to a Student

This past Tuesday, Peyton and I attended the funeral of a young 16-year-old boy she went to school with.  Gardner was actually one of the first few people she met when she started at the high school, and he stood out as a larger-than-life presence.  The town and surrounding area is reeling from the loss of such a vibrant young man.  So many knew and loved him.  And at 16, he had already begun to create a legacy.

Between a vigil that we attended last Thursday following his accident and his funeral this week, many people had a chance to stand and speak about him.  Do you know what the one thing that every single person who spoke, from the high school students to the adults, said about him?

He loved Jesus.  “Jesus was his best friend.”  “He wanted people to know about Jesus.”  “He lived like Jesus.” “He was feeling called to be in ministry.”  “There wasn’t anyone that Gardner didn’t make feel at home.”  “Everyone felt like they were his best friend.” “His joy was infectious.”  “He wanted everyone to know how they could know God.”

What was said over and over again spoke to the fact that Gardner lived his salvation and belief in the Lord out loud for all to see.  It made me wonder if my salvation and belief in the Lord is as obvious to everyone as Gardner’s was.

I don’t presume to try to make it a contest between believers about who best represents God.  We all know Jesus had a hard enough time with the disciples wanting to figure out who was the best.  But what a living example of the Bible we had right before our eyes in this young man!

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” –1 Timothy 4:12

Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16

We are consistently reminded to be the salt and the light, that we are to take care of the least of these, that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.  And often we got caught up in our own day to day lives, forgetting about the people around us that need to see what God’s love looks like. 

I’m praying that as I move about the days and the weeks to come, that I’m reminded of Gardner Cameron and the legacy he left behind.  I’m encouraging everyone that’s reading to reach out to people, smile and talk to them, share about Jesus with someone. 

And if someone reading this doesn’t know Jesus, we encourage you to reach out to Iron Porch or to a local pastor or friend that knows what it means to be saved. We would love for you to know what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It would be the best decision of your life.

Thank you, Gardner, for the beautiful example you have left for us.  It’s a legacy we’ll never forget.

~Erin

Growing Pains of New Habits

On Friday I attended a fitness class at 5:15, also known as 0515, as in am (IN THE MORNING) that included what felt like 800 squats, some easier to swallow jumping jacks, some type of medieval torture maneuver called the v-sit, not to mention a crazy number of push-ups and more torture in the form of burpees.

Since then, my body has betrayed me.  A simple motion of turning to grab the seat belt? Forget it, my shoulders are screaming.  Take off a bra in a graceful maneuver, let alone a sports bra? No way, my biceps will not comply.  Sitting on the toilet?  Literally feels like free-falling because my legs are so shaky.  And two days after the class, my legs rebelled while on a hike sending all of my girth to a meeting with our sister “Gravity.” 

I’m trying to re-establish healthy habits in my life…not necessarily so that I’m the same size I was in my 20s, but rather so that I’m taking care of my body and hopefully prolonging my life.  While I’m struggling right now to have my body adjust to working out, the long run will be for the betterment of my health.

Isn’t it the same with the health of our spiritual life?  If we haven’t already established healthy habits for spending time with God, it seems like adjustments are insurmountable and painful. 

For instance, the believer who doesn’t spend much time reading the Bible, may struggle with implementing a ‘read the Bible in a year’ plan.  The Christian who has never shared the Gospel, may struggle with how to speak to an unbeliever about Christ.  The church member who hasn’t recovered from previous ‘church hurts,’ may have trouble joining small groups or trusting leaders.  In any given scenario where we are creating habits to spend more time with God, it is easy to come up with excuses to quit.  

These are trials of our faith. And we only become stronger in Christ when we face the trials head on and endure the pain associated with adjustments. 

We see this illustrated in James 1:2-4 (NASB), “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” 

Keep in mind that the James passage is talking about any trial we may face in life.  However, if we apply it to the health of our spiritual life, we begin to see that our endurance in our prayer life, in studying the Word, in reading the Bible, in sharing the Gospel…all of that is a result of strengthening our faith. Ultimately, it will strengths our reliance on God.  

It may be a struggle to adjust schedules for prayer, or learn how to share the Gospel, or study different languages and translations of the Bible…but those are important exercises in our Christian walks. Just like the pain of strapping on the seat belt or sitting on the toilet after a hard workout, in the long run we’re better for it.  

The pain reminds us of the trial.  It strengthens us.  It makes us healthier.

~Emily

What Do Our Works Say?

A few weeks ago, my girls and I decided to get tattoos.  It wasn’t really spur of the moment in the true sense of the phrase.  Peyton has been wanting mother/daughter tattoos for a while and since the three of us were together, we just went for it!

We each have a different dinosaur on our wrist. The theme is the same, but they don’t match.  We were wanting something that identified us as a unit.

This got me to thinking about how I’m identified as a Christian.  When people see me or talk to me, do they know I’m a believer?  Do they recognize I put my trust in Him? Do my actions scream ‘I love Jesus!’? 

In James 2:17-18 it says, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.  But someone may say, “you have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith BY (emphasis mine) my works.”

I LOVE that!  This doesn’t mean that works saves you.  What the scripture is telling us is that if you have faith (you are a believer), it compels us to do good work for the cause of Christ.  When we walk in Christ, we produce faith-filled works that represent who God is and what He commands us to do.  In Bible study, we say those actions are faith-based works and not a works-based faith!

The works we produce as believers bring about things like love, joy, peace, faithfulness, self-control….you might recognize these as some of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  I love looking at these two passages of scripture together! 

When we see ourselves with a steadfast faith, we WANT to do things that show God in His glory.  When we do those things, the people around us see who our Creator is.  They see the power of an awesome Father who cares for His children.  People see something ‘different’ in the Christian who is doing works because they love God and want to honor Him as opposed to the person who is doing works for the rewards or accolades.

I pray that this year we see mighty works completed and that our faith-based works bring glory to the one true God!

~Erin