Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I'll Know His Voice

Wouldn't you think after 47 years of marriage David would know my voice? Yeah, me too. Recently my sister Sherry, David and I were returning from Vanderbilt after my brother-in-law had had surgery. She was in the backseat and together she and I were doing an excellent job of telling David the best way to get out of Nashville. (Of course as you know, there is no best way to get out of Nashville.) A driver in front of us kept switching lanes and she made a comment and David thought it was me who was talking and he made a comment back. (in that way that husbands and wives who have been married a long time will make and in "that tone") Then suddenly realizing it wasn't me he was talking to he said, "Oh Sherry I didn't know it was you! I thought I was talking to Penny. Y'all sound just alike." Well we've gotten a big laugh from that and shared it with other family members, but the fact remains that often it is difficult to distinguish someone's voice; even someone you have lived with for a long time.

Imagine Mary Magdalene at the tomb. In the cool semi-darkness of the early morning she sees the stone rolled away. She runs to tell Peter and the other disciples, they go to the grave, look inside, see He is gone and the napkin that covered His face is folded neatly. In John 20:8, John went into the tomb, saw that it was empty and he believed. Peter and John leave but Mary Magdalene remains. She cannot leave. This is the last place she had seen His body. She has to stay close by. The grave becomes an important place to loved ones: sometimes we cannot leave the one we love.

Eventually she walks to the opening of the tomb, kneels down and looks inside. Verse 12 says that she saw two angels, one sitting at the head of the bier, the other sitting at the foot. They asked her why she was crying and she said, "Because they have taken away my Lord and I don't know where He is." Then as she turns around she sees a man standing in front of her and presuming him to be the gardener, asks where they have taken the body of her Lord. In verse 16 Jesus says, "Mary." And as soon as He spoke her name she knew He was the Risen Lord. No one else could speak her name like Jesus. No one had done for her what He had done. No one meant to her what He meant to her. No one loved her more than He loved her and she loved no one more than she loved Him.

Even though I have never heard the audible voice of my Lord, I believe when He speaks my name I will know Him immediately. I am His sheep, I will know His voice. (John 10:4)

As David and I get older and his railroad ears find it harder to distinguish voices, there will be times he may think I sound like one of my sisters because I do. But when I hear Jesus speak my name, there will be no question; I will know His voice.

Enjoy time in the Word, reading John 20. Happy Easter.

He arose He arose
Hallelujah Christ arose.

Penny

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Are You Standing in the Need of Prayer?

"Standing in the Need of Prayer" is an African-American spiritual whose origin is unknown. It was published in 1925 in The Book of American-Negro Spirituals and the text is simple, yet profound:

"Not my brother, nor my sister
But it's me Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer."

The simple statement of this song expresses a deep need and a deep humility. It is a knowing in the heart that isolates the writer and his/her needs from those of all others. And that great need becomes an intimacy with God, a longing that excludes all else; even the needs of family.

Do you feel that's you today? Is there something in your life that has taken all your attention, all your time and resources and you feel there is nothing of you left over to give to someone else? Maybe like the writer of the song you feel it is YOU who has the greatest need of prayer today. Check out Psalm 70:5;

"I am poor and needy,
Make haste to me O God.
You are my Help and my Deliverer;
O Lord do not delay."

Ladies, He is faithful, He will not delay. And it is OK to tell Him right now:

"Hurry Lord."

Penny

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

When the Impossible Becomes Possible

Hi Everyone,

It has been a while since my last post and I thought today we'd do a little Bible Study. So get your Bible and turn to Luke 10 and look at verses 38-42; one of my favorites. Turn to John 11 and place a marker there.

Do you have a sister? I have four! Older sisters are bossy (I know because I'm an older sister) and younger sisters like to tattle. Martha and Mary are my two favorite sisters in the Bible and the reason I love them so much is that they are a mirror of our own relationships. Their little family in Bethany is much like our 21st century family dynamics and from them we learn many spiritual truths.

We are first introduced to this family in Luke 10. Since Martha is mentioned first, she is believed to be the oldest. They lived with their brother Lazarus in the small village of Bethany, about 2 miles southeast of the Temple's eastern gate. In the gospels of Luke and John, we're told that Jesus enjoyed spending time with them. He made it a priority to stay in their home when He was in Judea. Matthew 8:20 tells us that Jesus had no earthly home, and when He visited Bethany, He made Himself at home in the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

Martha and Mary are a fascinating pair simply because they are so different. Their personalities were on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but they had one thing in common, the most important thing to have in common and it was this: they loved Jesus. He was the focus of their earthly existence. Is He the focus of yours? And John 11:5 states Jesus' feelings for them very simply and to the point: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."

We aren't given the backstory on how this family became so intimate with Jesus, but through His earthly ministry these three had heard His message of forgiveness and salvation and they had given their heart to Christ and from there they had each built an intimate relationship with Him.

Look at v38: Jesus was so comfortable with them that He knew He didn't need an invitation, He went immediately to their home when He was in Bethany.

Martha is the perfect hostess, an excellent cook, and perfect housekeeper. She is always ready for company. She was warm and friendly and very welcoming when Jesus came to her door.

In v39, Jesus is sitting, talking with Lazarus, maybe some of the disciples are there and even other men who had seen Jesus go into their home. And where was Mary?

In v40, what was Martha doing?
Martha was righteously indignant and may have felt just a little superior to Mary because she was doing all the work and she looked at what Mary was doing as a means of getting out of helping her prepare the meal.
In our words, Martha saw herself as "the victim" and Mary as "lazy".
What did she ask Jesus to do?

And look at Jesus' answer in v41: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about a whole lot more than Mary's refusal to help you in the kitchen. Leave Mary alone. She has chosen to do the most important thing and what she is doing she will never loose."

Martha was the one who put on the apron, pulled her hair up into a bun, put her hands in the bread dough and went to work serving everyone in the house. But.....there was something just not right with her servant's heart. She was so focused on the work, she wasn't listening to the words of the Master.

Mary, on the other hand, was so consumed with thoughts of Jesus, that she was oblivious to the good smells coming from the kitchen, or the hints from Martha that she needed help. She was by no means lazy, she just understood better than anyone what an important occasion this was and that there would never be another time when Jesus would be with them like this. Mary had the ability to discern the heart of Christ.

In v40 Martha's "much serving" was a distraction from the "one thing." (v42)

Ladies, Jesus established worship as the highest priority for every believer. And we are in danger, spiritually, when we are more concerned with doing things "for" Jesus, than we are with hearing Him and being in His presence. Our service for Christ must be subordinate to our intimacy with Him. We have to choose "the good part."

Turn to John 11. At this point, I'm feeling just a little sorry for Martha. After all, she is working so hard to make everything nice for Jesus. There are probably a lot of men there, waiting to eat, and she could sure use Mary's help. And on top of all that, she is reprimanded by Jesus. But in John 11, her brother Lazarus has died and has been in the tomb for four days. Death is such a hopeless thing and even though Jesus has arrived in Bethany, for them, death is final. Read v22 of John 11; Martha said to Jesus, "But I know." Did you hear her faith? She isn't working now, trying to impress Jesus with her nice home and good meal. She is simply a grieving sister making a statement of faith: "Lord, my brother is dead and has been in the grave four days. If You had just been here, I know You would have healed him and he would still be alive. But even now, I have faith in You (please get this, Martha knew Who Jesus was and she knew He was God in the flesh) and if You will ask God, God will restore his life."

For me, that is one of the most extravagant expressions of faith I have ever read in the Bible. Martha knew that even death was not final if Jesus said it was not final. Look at John 11:43; Jesus went to the grave and called out Lazarus' name in a loud voice, and what happened?
Martha knew the truth of Luke 1:37; Nothing is impossible with God.

You may be facing what looks like a hopeless situation today; remember Martha's words to Jesus, "But I know." Jesus can do anything and He will do whatever it takes to bring about His will and purpose for your life. Trust Him with whatever seems impossible today and know that the impossible becomes possible when we say, "But I know."

Penny

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Life Verse for the New Year

Happy New Year! I love the beginning of a new year. I love mornings, Monday's, and the first day of each month. It is so exciting to have the privilege of....new beginnings.

2016 was a good year for our family. David and I celebrated our 46th anniversary last May and on December 29th  he celebrated 47 years of "railroading." I was blessed to visit several Christian Schools and preschools and share my children's book, When God Created the World, and share the beautiful story of creation with eager hearts and minds. (Mom, please teach your young children spiritual truths. It is so much easier to teach them the truth when they are young than to un-teach the lies of the enemy when they are older.) We enjoyed milestones with each of our grandchildren and witnessed God working in the lives of our sons and their families. I look forward to this year in our church and I dearly love teaching my Sunday School class and occasionally writing for Parent Life. And of course I love sharing on the blog and getting to "know" women from all over the world.

I am not one to make resolutions, but I do like to evaluate the previous year and look for ways to improve the new year. One thing I do at the beginning of the year is to choose a verse of scripture and designate it as "My Life Verse" for that particular year. And this is my verse for this year: Psalm 67:1;

"God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us."

I need God's mercy, I need Him to bless me. But what does it mean for "His face to shine upon me"?

We live in sin-darkened world. In John 1:9 Jesus is the True Light. Light exposes things that are hidden in the dark; light is warm and inviting. When I ask God to "shine His face" upon me and my family I am asking Him to look at me, to expose the dark places in my heart, and to feel the warmth of His love and embrace. With each new day I need new mercy, new blessings, and I need His face to shine upon me.

So ladies, for this new year I encourage you to choose your life verse and:

1. Pray it out loud each day.
2. Pray it with faith and confidence and watch as He blesses you more and more.
3. Look for a display of  His mercy in unexpected ways.
4. Take the time to sit quietly before Him and feel the warmth of His gaze upon your life.
5. Determine to know God better and love Him more in 2017.

Have a very blessed and Happy New Year. Tell someone about Jesus; that He loves them and what He did for them on the cross at Calvary.

I'd love to hear from You.

Penny

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Give Them a Strong Foundation of Faith

If we don't get creation right, we won't get anything right. Genesis 1 and 2 is the foundation that our faith is built upon and kids who hear the truth of creation at an early age will be less likely to fall prey to the theory of evolution and other entrapments of a humanistic theology. And it is our job as parents and grandparents to give them that strong foundation of faith.

So where do we start?

Right Here!

In my book for children, ages 4-8, kids will learn the truth of biblical creation and a day by day account of what God created on each day. Kids love numbers and they sure love rhyme and I have put them together to tell the story of creation in such a way that kids will want to hear it over and over again. And as they become familiar with what was created each day, they will build biblical knowledge that will produce an unshakeable faith in our Creator.

When God Created the World is available through amazon.com. Hope you'll check it out. It's great for your home library, church library or Christian school. Christmas is just around the corner and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

I also hope you'll check out my article in ParentLife magazine: Be a Leader Not a Follower: 3 tips for Raising Strong Leaders.

Thanks friends, let me know what you think. I love hearing from you.
Penny

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

He Heals the Brokenhearted.

I do not believe there are any coincidences or that things "just happen." I believe I serve the One Who controls all things and nothing is allowed into our lives that will not have a purpose, and all things He allows will produce fruit. Plain and simple, but it is a belief I hold dear and near to my heart.

My Bible reading this morning was Psalm 147; a psalm I love. (I say that about all the psalms.) As I read this psalm, I thought of what this day will hold for so many. Some will experience a broken heart, some will know great pain. And no matter our circumstances or the challenges we may face today, I am so thankful that I serve the One True God Who can heal each broken heart, bandage every wound, has all power over all things, has no limits to His knowledge, and loves to bless the humble. I knew that God had chosen this psalm to comfort my heart today and as I share it with others, I pray it will comfort you. Here are verses 1-6:

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God:
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem:
He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted:
And binds up their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars:
He calls them all by their name.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power:
His understanding is infinite.

The Lord lifts up the humble:
He casts the wicked to the ground.


Is your heart broken? God will heal it. Are you wounded from the battles of life? God will bandage your wounds. He knows exactly how many stars are in the heavens, He named each one. He is mighty in power and His knowledge knows no limits. He looks at each humble heart and lifts it up.

In Luke 4:18, when Jesus began His public ministry He said this: "The Spirit of the Lord has anointed Me to heal the brokenhearted." Life is tough; life hurts. If that is where you are today, allow Him to heal everything that is broken and fix every hurt place. He can. He will. He is the only One with the power and knowledge to do it all. Thank you, Jesus.

Penny


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Scaredy Cat, Fraidy Cat, and a Hedge of Thorns.

My sister has two cats and their names are Scaredy Cat and Fraidy Cat. Their names say it all, right? One day she looked out her window and saw two little kittens hovering around her porch, but the minute she opened the door, they ran down the hill as fast as their little legs would carry them. She began putting food out for them and they would timidly walk up to the porch to eat, but guess what happened each time she opened the door? They took off back down that hill and stayed there until they were hungry enough to venture up the hill and to the food they knew would be waiting. Hence, the names Scaredy and Fraidy came into being.

Now, it wasn't a big deal for Scaredy and Fraidy to be intimidated by people, but it is a big deal when believers are intimidated, scared, and even afraid of what unbelievers will say about them or do to them.

In Luke 13, Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to face His final days here on earth. As He makes His way through towns and villages He teaches the rich truths of the gospel and touches the lives of those He meets. In verse 31 a small group of Pharisees warn Him that Herod will kill Him, just as he had killed John the Baptist and Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that he (Herod) can not. Others had tried. But each time He was safely delivered from their evil plans.

I know what it feels like to be intimidated by women who do not respect my conservative Christian convictions. I know what it feels like to be fearful to walk into a certain group or be asked ridiculous questions about my faith, and though I have not had my life threatened because of who I am or because of my beliefs, the fear is just as real.

Herod, the Pharisees nor anyone else could do anything to Jesus before His time. Jesus would not die before His time because He was in the will of God and was hedged in by a wall of divine protection. Did you know that you cannot die until God says so? Oh, people may say terrible things to us and about us, they may exclude us and ignore us and even threaten us, but we are surrounded by a wall of divine protection. If we are living in His will to the best of our ability, if we are faithfully serving Him, we are protected until our life's mission here on earth is over and then He safely takes us home to be with Him for all of eternity.

After you are saved, you have a mission; God weaves together your talents and your spiritual gifts and then He gives you work to do. Work in your home and work outside your home and work to do in the church. People may not like what you're doing and how you are doing it, they may even try to stop you, they may do all sorts of things to discourage you, but they cannot because you have a hedge of protection around you.

The term "hedge of thorns" is an Old Testament term. When the Israelites were at war, they would take thorn bushes and make a hedge of them and then stand behind the hedge and fight their enemies. No enemy wants to charge a thorn bush! I don't even like the small ones on my rose bushes, much less the large thorn bushes that dotted the landscape of Israel. In New Testament times, it became a way of praying for God's protection from those who wanted to stop the Christian movement. Have you ever prayed and asked God "to place a hedge of thorns around you and your loved ones to protect them from their enemy?" Oh dear friend if you have not, I encourage you to begin to pray today for that hedge of protection. When God places that hedge of protection around you, your husband, your children, your home, your church, absolutely nothing and no one can penetrate the hedge. The enemy may get close to the hedge; he may shoot an arrow or two and he may cause an injury, but he cannot take your life. Only God decides the number of our days.
And that, ladies, is what gives us the freedom to safely move around our little worlds and serve Christ, our families, and our church, knowing that God is in complete control of what happens to me; He holds the hedge.

Now, I may make some foolish choices and go against God and because of those choices He may pull the hedge back just a little bit, but He still has all authority over my life and He controls the hedge. The Pharisees, the leaders of the Jews, nor anyone else could take Jesus' life and when the Pharisees told Him that Herod was going to kill Him, read what Jesus called Herod, and what He told them in Luke 13:32, 33.

Jesus could not be intimidated; He knew Who He was and He knew exactly what He was doing. Ladies, don't let the world intimidate you. You DO NOT have to use the restroom with men. You DO NOT have to condone the killing of innocent unborn babies and you DO NOT have to be intimidated by reports of jobs, the economy or anything else. If you are a Christian and you are standing with Christ, the world may throw some mean stuff at your hedge, even other believers may not like your stand on biblical truth, but as long as that hedge is around you, they can't get you. Jesus had an assignment from His Father and no one could stop Him and we, the church, have an assignment from our Father and no one can stop Him.

Ask God today to keep high that hedge of thorns around you; keep it high around your family, your church, our nation and the nation of Israel. Our God is faithful and He desires to give us blessings beyond measure and He'll fight for us; all we have to do is stand behind the hedge.

Now I would like to be able to tell you that Scaredy and Fraidy got over being a scaredy cat and a fraidy cat, but alas, they did not. In fact, they had kittens that learned the traits of their parents and they, too, were scaredy cats and fraidy cats. (another post for another time) But the moral of this silly little story is this: don't be a "fraidy cat or a scaredy cat", but be a spiritually strong woman of faith that refuses to be intimidated or moved by the evil forces of this world because: "I'm behind the hedge."

Love to hear from you.

Penny