Busted Can of Biscuits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A point to ponder this week.

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

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

~Emily

A Shadowy Cross

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

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

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

God’s love is like that.  Always there. 

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

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

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

~Emily

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

Get Down, Dog!

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

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

I went to bed with him right beside me.

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

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

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

~Erin

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

Counterfeit Repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Emily

Repentance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, California!

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll miss you, California!

~Erin

If you are good

Airport COVID Masks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Emily

mask airport

 

 

 

 

First Day of School Jitters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Emily

1st day

The Jalapeño Plant

I transplanted a jalapeño plant tonight.  It’s not something I’ve done before.  I had a vertical garden that I had planted a starter in and decided it needed to be in a container of its own.  So I put it into the new container.

I gently began working around the soil, loosening the dirt and getting rid of the dead plants in the vertical garden that were surrounding it.  I didn’t want to damage the roots, so taking as much time as I needed, this master gardener (that term is used VERY loosely for myself) did not rush the process, instead little by little loosening the plant for its extraction and into the fresh new home that was awaiting her.

When I’m doing things like this, I talk to my plants.  I know I’m not alone in this.  I tell her how brave she’s being letting me disrupt her work so that I can give her a new location, a better chance of survival.  And when I think of these things, I often think of how we, as humans, can be like those plants.

Sometimes, we’re uprooted and we take on new locations, new jobs, or new adventures.  It can be quite unnerving starting over with something different.  We can be scared and unsure of what it will look like even though we often know that what’s waiting on the other side of the newness is good and fresh.

I know a Master Gardener who has talked to us this very same way.  Joshua 1:9 says to us, “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

God gently works in our lives, extracting the distractions, moving people or objects or places out of the way.  He lifts us in HIS time into more perfect surroundings—surroundings where we can praise Him better or trust Him more.  He tells us He loves us and He’s right there with us even though our new or upcoming circumstances can be changing drastically.  He does this because He knows that His plan is better.  We just have to trust.

I pray, dear friends, that you find the Master Gardener tending to you during a time of transition that you may be having at this very moment.  Or perhaps He’s already replanted you into a refreshing new spot that has allowed for growth and trust.  Come to the porch and share your story.

~Erin

IMG_2152

Pink Starbursts Type of Favorite

Do you have a favorite candy?  For the most part, I have seasonal favorites.  I love the Cadbury mini eggs at Easter, the peanut butter taffies at Halloween, and the peppermint taffies or jelly bellies at Christmas.  Year-round, I love the pink starbursts.  So much so that I will by-pass the other colors to just eat the pink ones…I especially despise yellow ones.  Seriously, who likes the yellow ones that taste like I imagine pledge would taste?!?!?

**I should take a moment to publicly issue a very heartfelt thank you to whichever executive made the decision to sell totally pink starburst bags!!! Huge win for me.  Huge.

If people were like candy, then I just admitted that there are favorites all year round, that there are seasonal favorites…and there are pledge smelling ones that are the least favorite.  You are probably able to name people in your life who fall into each of those categories.  I think we all can come up with some names for each of the lists.

Interestingly enough, God only has pink starburst favorites as His children.  He doesn’t even acknowledge the categories of seasonal or least favorite.  He loves us all equally and with abandon.  While He may hate our sinful decisions, He loves us completely, as though we were His year-round favorite candy.

In 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NASB) Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

If we are striving to be like Christ, then we should be practicing loving and accepting like Christ.  And if Christ has no favorites or least favorites, then we should be practicing not having favorites.

Which brings me to the yellow starburst people in my life.  I throw yellow starbursts in the garbage.  If I’m being honest, the yellow starburst people in my life get less than my 100% attention, love, or prayers. While I don’t throw them in the trash, I don’t treat them the same as my favorite people.  In the model of Jesus, what I’m doing with those interpersonal interactions is not fair…and it’s not right.

Clearly, I have some work to do, if I want to be more Christ-like in my interactions with others!

In the next week, I’m going to challenge myself to treat everyone around me as though they are my year-round favorite.  I want to see them as Christ sees them.  Perhaps, you can join me with this challenge and tell us on the Iron Porch how it’s going for you!

~Emily

pink

The Free Gift

A few days ago, I put two boxes of books out on the corner of our lawn with a sign that says “Free books!  Help yourself!”  These were some books that we’d already read and decided not to keep in our collection.  We thought to ourselves that maybe someone walking by would see the books and grab one or four so that they could enjoy one of the titles we had left.

The pile started with about 40 books and slowly, we’ve whittled the pile to about half that.  I’m kind of surprised that they’re not gone.  I’ve seen people walk past, stop and peek in as if to see if there’s really something in there.  I’ve also seen people start to take them and then change their mind, looking around as if to see if there’s some kind of trap I’ve set up!  Like I’m going to spring out of the bushes screaming, “IT SAYS FREE, BUT YOU CAN’T HAVE ALL OF THEM!”

Sometimes, people can be that way when we present the truth of Jesus.  God encourages us to spread the gospel to every creature.  Telling everyone about the gift of salvation is so simple and the steps to accept Christ as your personal Savior seems so easy, yet does it really have the “FREE…take it!” sign in front of it?!  It’s ours to just take?!

The answer is yes!  Choosing to have a relationship with God is a gift that He gives us freely and openly.  We only need to repent of our sins, ask forgiveness, turn ourselves over to Him, and ask Him to live in us forever.  There’s nothing fancy about the request.  There’s no special handshake or secret code you have to know.  We can take that free gift, knowing that it completely changes our lives.  I’m so thankful that I accepted that free gift so long ago!

How about you, dear friends?  Is there someone you know that needs to hear about that gift of salvation?  We can be praying for them.  Or perhaps you want to accept that gift yourself?  Message us at the Iron Porch, and we’d love to show you how.

~Erin

The Free Gift