Become Forgettable

In the New Testament, there are five mentions of a man that you may be unfamiliar with.  I wasn’t familiar with him.  Honestly, I had read his name often but did not recognize his significance.  He’s mentioned in Acts 20:4, Ephesians 6:21, Colossians 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:12, and Titus 3:12. 

His name was Tychicus. 

And he’s quite forgettable within all the narrative of the New Testament. 

He appears near the end of Paul’s mission work in Ephesus.  He had been selected to deliver several letters for Paul.  He was with the former runaway slave, Onesimus, when he converted and went to Colossae.  Could he have witnessed the riots that started with Demetrious the silversmith whose business was impacted by Paul’s sermons on idol worship? Possible. Could he have been Paul’s scribe for some of the letters in the New Testament?  Possible.  Could he have been trusted to deliver more letters than we know? Also, possible. 

Throughout the second half of Paul’s ministry, Tychicus was likely present for nearly every significant event.  Yet, he was in the background.  He became forgettable.

We live in a society that demands we are remembered.  Social media imprints, how we dress, High School reunions, our speeches and volunteer work, board meetings, medals and decorations with a few promotions thrown in…all ways where we strive to be remembered.  We are seeing the creation of “mini-celebrities” in an effort for all of us to be remembered in some capacity.

Even within the church. 

Some leadership structures allow Pastors to have celebrity status.  Others create titles for ministry leaders that lead to elevation of status.  Social media platforms embellish ministry work or community impacts.  Slowly, we become enamored with our own voice and status and forget about the voice of the One we should be most reliant on. 

Yet, the church needs more servants like Tychicus.  Ones who want the Gospel known but don’t care if they ever are.  The ones who do seemingly tedious work in order to advance the Kingdom, but aren’t seeking their own recognition.

This week I’ll be praying that each of us can be more like Tychicus…that we become forgettable.

~Emily

Fearing Persecution

I live in Bible country.  You’ll find a large majority of people in my area who go to church regularly, memorized scripture as far back as they can remember, or who talk about Jesus without a second thought.  Around here, it’s pretty easy to speak about God or tell someone that you’re praying for them.

But what about in other areas?  What about in the places you aren’t familiar with?  What about the bigger cities or businesses you frequent?  What about your jobsite?  Would you have the same confidence that the people you are surrounded by are unfazed or irritated that you would bring up Jesus?

We see more and more these days, Christians having to defend what they say and how they believe.  Often, we’ll hold our tongues in certain situations because we aren’t familiar with the surrounding audience.

But friends, we’re told that persecution and trials will happen!  We know that some will mock us for our beliefs.  You may receive harassment for your feelings on sensitive topics.  Dare I say some of us could lose friends for standing on the Rock of our Salvation.   The Bible tells us those who willingly accept it are blessed for going through it! 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” –James 1:2-4

“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests on you.” –1 Peter 4:14

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:10

We should be proud of the fact that our home is in heaven!  I saw a wonderful testament to this just this week.

Most of you have seen the NFL football game on Monday that resulted in the Buffalo Bills’ player, Damar Hamlin, going into cardiac arrest.  As they worked on him at the 50-yard-line, people were stunned, crowds quiet, many of the players and crew taking a knee as they waited to see if he would be ok. 

The following morning during a broadcast, Dan Orlovsky, an ESPN commentator, was speaking about what happened to Damar. 

Now hear me when I say, I know nothing about this man.  I’ve only read he’s an “outspoken Christian.”  I don’t know what his faith-walk looks like and I don’t know what skeletons are in his closet.  What I do know is that he courageously said on national TV that even though he didn’t know if it was the right thing to do, he wanted to pray for him right then with eyes closed and head bowed.  And he did. 

That.  Takes.  Guts.

Would we do the same?

I’m encouraged, Iron Porch!  Those that know me, know that I would talk to a door if it would talk back.  However, I want to be so fearless that I would stand WHEREVER and proclaim that I will pray to our Jehovah-Rapha, The God who Heals.  I want to be unashamed to talk to anyone about Jesus without fear of persecution because I know that persecution brings glory to our Father.

I’m asking you, dear friends…let’s stand strong in our faith, proclaiming to all the goodness and mercy of God that everyone might know who He is!

~Erin

Roman gods and the Changing of the Calendar

Time for a history lesson.

Did you know that the month of January is named after the Roman god Janus.  Janus was a god with two faces.  One face is filled with sadness and seems to look backwards.  The other face is filled with hope as it looks forward.  It becomes the two faces of the New Year…one that looks back at the previous year and one that looks forward to the new year. 

At what point in the year does that hope-filled face realize that it’s the sad face of despair again?  For me a couple weeks into January, I realize any concept of resolutions aren’t important and/or aren’t going to come into fruition.  Perhaps the hope filled face starts to slip a bit by the end of the first month of the year.

As believers, we can be assured that our hope doesn’t have to tie to the flipping of the calendar page to indicate a New Year.  Our God is the same “yesterday, and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  God is over our past, our present and our future. He’s not just there on the 31st of December as we make promises to ourselves about how much better the next year will be.

And if that’s true, well then…it doesn’t matter what the date is on the calendar.  It truly doesn’t matter which way the face is turned…the reality is that there is hope in our face of happiness and sadness.  It’s the hope of a future with Jesus. 

One of the greatest promises we can read in the Bible is when God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us in Hebrews 13:5. This promise stands year-round, year after year.

Read that again…a promise that stands year-round.  Every year.

Our God is an awesome God who provides for us through trials and tribulations.  And He provides for us through triumph and victory.  It does not matter what we are going through, He will be with us. It does not matter if we are happy or sad, He will be with us.  It simply does not matter what season of life we are in, He will be with us.


There’s no need for us to subscribe to the Roman god’s concept of having two faces for our year…we have the one true God to rely on.  I pray you know this now and every day of 2023. 

Happy New Year!

~Emily

Word of God vs Word of the Year

In recent years it’s become trendy to assume a word that you will use to focus on during the coming year.  A modified New Year’s Resolution, if you will. 

Choose the word travel…and then plan more trips, read travel books, and travel more.

Adopt the word grace…and then practice extending grace to yourself and others.

Pick the word change…and then make the changes in your life you are striving towards.

It’s not a trend I’ve followed for myself, although I have seen it work well for some of my friends.  Those who know me best, know that I’m very goal oriented and find great joy in accomplishing new adventures.  So frankly…I struggle with selecting just one word for the New Year.  I want masses of words that I can form together for tangible accomplishments. 

Except now I find myself praying about making an exception.  In the next year, I want to focus on the word “Word.”  As in God’s Word.  I want to really concentrate on daily Bible Study, on memorization techniques, and on having His Word dwell in my heart.

Psalm 119:9-16 tells us that keeping God close to our hearts, spirit, and mind requires keeping our eyes on Jesus so that we can dwell in the presence of the Lord.  In order to keep those eyes focused on the goal, I need to be in the Word. 

What are the benefits of being in God’s Word?

Strengthened walk with Jesus

Forgiveness for sin & actively seeking to repent

Guarding against the enemy

Understanding of context and God’s intent

Sustainment against the stress of life

That’s a lot of words and it’s not even a dent in the reasons why we should want to be more fervently studying the Bible.  Even now, as I attempt to focus on one word…”Word”…I’m unable. I start finding all the words that support being more active in the Word.   

I’m back at square one.  Not picking a singular word for the year, but rather praying that I can focus on the Word. 

Whether you pick one word or draft a lengthy goal, my prayer for you, sweet reader, is that you will find the study of the Bible included in the next year.

Happy New Year!

~Emily

The Christmas $100 Bill

When my son was young, I deliberately started teaching him about using his time and his talents to help other people or causes. He loves to volunteer…his favorite was probably spending time at the animal shelter (usually petting kitties or reading to the shelter dogs).  Although, it does love combing through sales racks to find items for Isaiah 58, a ministry that provides a suitcase of items to women leaving prison.  He’s also spent hours coloring pictures for people he’s never met in nursing homes or military members in deployed locations. 

We also talked early about money: how to share it, how to save it, and how to sow it into causes that he most believed in.  Each month I budgeted $100 for him to spend in this manner.  He got to choose if he was donating it, tithing it, buying something for someone else…whatever he wanted. 

Never once has he chosen to spend the money on himself. 

Christmas becomes one of my favorite seasons to watch him choose how to spend the money that has been set aside for others.  In the past, he has used it to purchase angel tree gifts, foodbank items, presents for his friends, and blankets for the humane shelter.  This year the $100 bill went to a waitress who served us breakfast.  She literally started crying and hugging us both. 

Luke 3:11 (NASB) states, “And he would answer and say to them, The one who has two tunics is to share with the one who has none, and the one who has food is to do likewise.”

Scripture tells us that it’s our obligation to share what we have with others.  I understand that for some, $100 is too much for their personal budgets.  Likewise, I understand that $100 may be too little for other budgets.  The reason I’m sharing this on the iron porch is not to discuss the actual amount of money we budget, but rather so that we are aware of how much impact we have on others.  And how much influence we have over training our children to simply be kind. 

After sharing with the waitress, my son said, “I love doing this so much, mom…I wish we could do it every day!”  This presented an opportunity to have a conversation about how sharing the Gospel can be a daily activity…and that it is just as important as caring for others’ physical needs.  

A gentle reminder of this is seen in 1 John 3:16-18 (NASB).  “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters. But whoever has worldly goods and sees his brother or sister in need, and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God remain in him? Little children, let’s not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 

I’ve learned so much by watching the care of a toddler through a pre-teen in selecting how he will help others.  When I created a budget for my little guy, I had no idea how much of a lesson it would be for my own heart.  Do what you can financially…but know that you have the ultimate gift to share when you tell others about Jesus Christ.

~Emily

Go Tell it on the Mountain

“Go Tell it on the Mountain” is one of my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs.  I am happy to sing it year-round.  The history of the song goes back to the American Civil War and is a spiritual song reflecting on the suffering of African American slaves.  It’s a reflection of their experiences and offers hope and faith despite their position of being so low on the social ladder of America. 

Another group of individuals who were also at the bottom of the social ladder was the shepherds on the first Christmas. Shepherds had a reputation for stealing and lying, as they often took what they needed to continue surviving in fields with their sheep.  As a young child, I thought running sheep in fields was a wonderful concept. Learning that they were actually scoundrels, was a significant departure from the high status I personally thought that they had. Their scandalous lifestyles is partly why when angels first appear to the shepherds.  Angels coming to the lower echelon on the social ladder makes it such a remarkable part of the Christmas story. 

It surprised me when I learned about the historic reputation of the shepherds. 

Upon reflection, it did not surprise me that they were the chosen ones to deliver the message of the birth of the Messiah.  Jesus’ whole life was focused on coming to the people whom others did not see as worthy.  These ‘lowly’ shepherds were about to be witnesses to the greatest birthday in history. 

During the song, we hear the lyrics reflecting that the angels told the shepherds to go and see.  They went and saw.  The song does not say that they were told to go tell anything.  Yet, they were so moved by the experience they could not help but give their testimony.  They went and “told.”  The next amazing part of that is that the shepherds had no idea that the baby they were celebrating would die on the cross for all of mankind’s sins.

This song’s beauty continues when it references telling the news “on the mountain.”  Bethlehem is located in the mountains of Judea.  The news would have been initially told to other shepherds on the hillsides.  Also, a remarkable detail of the story of Jesus’ birth.

The wonderment of this song is that we don’t have to confine our telling of the good news to the mountaintop.  We can literally share it anywhere in the world at any time. 

A simple ‘non-traditional’ Christmas song, which tells the story of American slaves as well as one of a barn-yard birth of a Savior.  One that I love to sing year-round with a beautiful message of salvation to be shared at any time. 

This week, let’s make it a point to “Go tell it on a mountain!”

~Emily

The Anticipation

I finally got to see my friend again!

Three and a half years ago, I wrote a blog about my new friend, Mr. Parker.  For those who are new, let me link that blog here.  It was a chance meeting.  I was given an earlier seat on a connecting flight in February 2019, and a friendship blossomed in just 40 minutes from Birmingham to Atlanta!  Mr. Parker calls it divine intervention.  I agree!

We’ve been hoping the last several years to figure out a way to see each other in person again.  I was looking forward to meeting his wife and spending time together.  But between Covid and us living across the country from each other, it wasn’t possible.  I cherished every phone call we had talking about so many things, our families, the state of the country, the people we knew.  But we both wanted to be able to sit with each other again and see each other’s faces.  We both looked forward to the day that would happen. 

Two weeks ago, we got our wish, and I took Emily with me just a short drive down the road to have dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Parker! When I walked into the restaurant and saw them standing there and got to hug both of them, the joy I felt from anticipating this long-awaited meeting was overwhelming. 

I have the same anticipation for another meeting—the meeting of my Heavenly Father.  I think to Paul writing to the Philippians.  He was imprisoned at the time and looking to encourage the church in Philippi.  He wrote to them about the gospel being preached and how he was trusting God even during the time he was in prison.  And then he says this of his situation:

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.  But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;” –Philippians 1:21-23

He longed to be with Jesus.  He anticipated his time in heaven, worshipping the God of salvation.  While he loved his family and friends and he loved the ministry, he recognized that to be in heaven bowing at the feet of the Father far surpassed any wonderful thing he could experience on the earth.

I want to be the same way, and as we study the book of Revelation, I’m reminded even more about the joy that will come from seeing the face of Jesus.  I want to thank God for creating me.  I want show reverence to Him for His sovereignty.  I long to worship with the heavenly host singing praises about the glory of the King of Kings.

As much as I want to be here enjoying my time on this earth, I long even more to see the face of Jesus.

I pray that as we celebrate during this holiday season, we anticipate not only the celebration of His birth but the face-to-face meeting we will one day have!

~Erin

Christmas Returning

Christmas.  One of my most favorite times of the year.  At this time of year, we celebrate the arrival of our Savior.  We often call it Advent.

Definition of Advent:

According to Merriam-Webster, Advent is a noun that is defined as 1) the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting 2a) the coming of Christ at the Incarnation 2b) Second Coming.

This year, Advent started the last Sunday of November.  While we celebrate this initial arrival each year in December, as Christians we’ve been awaiting the second arrival.

At this second advent, every knee will bow to Him in honor and reverence. The believers will rejoice. We will celebrate this arrival with immeasurable joy.

Jesus said, “Occupy till I come” in Luke 19:13 (KJV).  In that He meant, we are to continue working for the Kingdom and making disciples while we await that return.  While it is easy to become burdened by our daily trials and tribulations, it is important that we continuously focus on the fact that our destination is Heaven…and Jesus will come to get us during this second advent. 

In this waiting, we also must exercise patience for that arrival.  I joke often that I can’t wait for Jesus’ second coming.  However, James 5:7 tells us to be patient until the Lord comes.  Several scriptures tell us to be alert and sober while waiting on His coming.  It’s so hard to be patient when we know the prize at the end of the hard work.

Are you still working hard for the kingdom?

Are you excited about the second advent? 

Or are you scared of it? 

No need to be fearful dear reader…as long as you have committed your life to Christ and accepted his gift of salvation.  If you are in doubt about what will happen for you or your family when Christ returns, please reach out to Erin or I…we would love to talk to you about accepting Christ as your Savior.

~Emily

My Spicy Eyes!

This week, my daughter called me with an urgent request.  “Take a look at this photo.  What are your thoughts?” The left eye of my grandson, Andros, had turned sharply and suddenly veered inward, it was wobbling, and he was seeing double.  She made an appointment to see the eye doctor and as he sat in front of the provider that same afternoon, he was told that he would need some eyedrops.  The optometrist explained that just like when you get something spicy on your tongue, his eye would feel that way for just a minute but it would be ok.  Now, Andros does NOT like spicy food.  If it has a drop of pepper on it, he can taste it.  And as the gentleman placed the drops into his tightly squeezed, terrified,  waiting eyes, that sweet boy started crying and yelling, “MY SPICY EYES!  MY SPICY EYES!”  It’s a story we’re laughing about now days later.

I began to think of Saul as he lost his sight on the road to Damascus and reached for his story in my bible.  He was a man who took great pleasure in persecuting Christians.  He didn’t do it because he was a sociopath.  He did it because he was a Jewish scholar who genuinely believed that what the Christians were saying was blasphemy to God.  He felt he was expelling a problem.  He was even present at the first martyr, Stephen’s, death.  Then we see in Acts 9 him on the road to Damascus because he had found out about people there who were teaching about Jesus as the Son of God.

“Now as he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told to you what you must do.”  The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.  Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.  And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” –Acts 9:3-9

He was literally blinded by the light of Jesus!  What a way to get his attention, right?!  I wonder what he must have been feeling. There is nothing mentioned in the verses following about anyone witnessing to him.  I’m not sure if there was.  My personal belief is that he sat in his own darkness and fasted, recognizing the weight of what had just happened. 

An encounter with Jesus is nothing small.  Here was a man who felt confident his persecution of the Christians was acceptable.  And in one brief moment, everything he believed was turned on its head as Jesus revealed EXACTLY who he was. 

And lest we think that’s the only ‘WOW’ moment in that interaction, how about what Jesus told him to do!  He told him to go to the city and it would be told to him what to do.  Jesus didn’t give him the 3-year plan.  He didn’t tell him he was going to become one of the greatest missionaries of all time.  He wasn’t privy to knowledge that He would eventually be given direct revelation by God!  He was told to go and he would be told to what to do.

How many of us are willing to just take that first directive and then sit and wait?  I’m afraid disobedience would kick in for me.  I’d be calling my friends, asking my mom to come to me.  I’d be asking Emily to do some research.  I’d be thinking of every scenario of what “will be told to do” implies.  That, friends, is where we trip ourselves up. 

Sometimes, the wait is part of the answer.  There are times where God wants us to have a period of waiting until He’s ready to give us the next step in our walk, and we screw it up by thinking we know the next step.  How easy it seems to just sit and wait for God, and how hard we make it by trying to navigate it ourselves.

The rest of the story for Paul is beautiful.  He waits.  God sends Ananias to him and tells him what to do.  And literal scales fall from his eyes.  Paul not only regains his earthly sight, but he’s given his spiritual sight!  He goes on to lead thousands to the Lord and dare I say millions with how his words h shown people even today how to fully surrender to our Savior.

Iron Porch, I pray that as we encounter Jesus through Bible study, reading the scripture, and learning of God’s love, that each encounter is one that shows us who He is.  I also pray that we learn to wait on the Lord, that we be patient in the space between, and that we trust God to fill in the blank. 

~Erin

Grandpa’s Tomatoes

I wanted to make some vegetable soup, so I scoured my pantry for some tomatoes.  I knew that I had some of my Grandpa’s canned tomatoes still in there somewhere.  Out of the last few jars of his I had left, there was just one of what I was looking for! 

The man loved to can. He had what he called a garden and what I called a small farm of every kind of fruit and vegetable you can imagine.  And he would harvest it all.  He would can it, give it away, even trade with it.  When we went to visit them in South Carolina, my Pop would always take me out to Grandpa’s canning shed to dig through hundreds of jars of vegetables and jellies to find what I wanted to take home.  And as I opened that jar on Monday, I started to cry.  Grandpa passed away in 2016 and it made me miss him so much.

While I’m sad that he’s gone, I know he was believer.  When he left this earth, he was given a new body in heaven and is worshipping Jesus all day and night!  I can praise God that when my day comes and I take my last breath, I’ll see him and his smile again!

This made me think about the people I know that may not have that same assurance of their place in heaven.  I can be confident as a born-again Christian that when I die, I will be in heaven.  But I know that there are friends of mine who have told me they believe they hope they’ve been ‘good enough to get a pass’ into heaven.    

Please allow me just a brief moment to explain why this can’t be further from the truth.  The Bible is clear that there is no one on this earth who is good enough to get into heaven.  Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no not one.”  We can’t be kind of good.  We can’t be really good.  The Ten Commandments given by God has ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ and ‘Honor thy father and thy mother’ all in the same list.  In humanity’s eyes, one of those sins is much worse than the other.  In God’s eyes, ALL sin is abhorrent.  We will never be righteous enough.

Because of that sin, what we deserve is death and eternal separation from God.  We are told in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Because of the wicked nature of sin, our penalty is death.  But the second half of that verse can give us hope!  It says God has given us hope for eternal life in the form of a spotless Lamb.

Romans 5:8 shows just how much He loves us.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  While God says the price that we must pay for sin is death, there is undeserved grace.  He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to the earth.  He lived a sinless life with the sole purpose of becoming a substitution.  He was sent to be the sacrificial Lamb, covering our sins with His blood.

And because of that sacrifice, if we believe in Him, if we surrender our lives to Him and follow Him, we can and will go to heaven!

John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Asking Jesus to come into your heart isn’t something that you do to put in your back pocket ‘just in case.’  When you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, there is change in you.  The Holy Spirit is residing in you!  We become a new creation in Jesus, and the earth becomes just a temporary home.

Romans 10:9 tells us how we can know for sure when we die that we will be in heaven.  “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus and you’ve haven’t surrendered your life to Him, I encourage and plead with you to call on the name of the Lord.  Tell God that you know you’re unworthy of His grace, but grateful that He’s given it.  Tell Him that you believe He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins and that you believe He rose again and lives in heaven.  Confess your sin and surrender your life to Him, asking Him to live in your heart.

If you realized that you needed Jesus and prayed, giving your life to Christ, make sure you tell someone!  Share it in the comments, tell a friend, you can even message me or Emily.  But it’s too wonderful of news not to share!

If you still have questions about what it means to surrender your life to Him, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  We would love to talk with you and help you know that you have a home in heaven!

~Erin