Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Heart

Anyone who knows even a little bit about me knows I grew up in Chile. Most of those people know, that the reason for that was that my parents were missionaries there for 13 wonderful years. People who know me even better know how much I loved my life and that I truly believe that my parents calling extended to our family as a whole. As a missionaries kid (M.K.) I saw many people come through on short term mission trips. This was great, but a disturbing trend became evident to me at a very early age. In the church, there can be a religious culture that does not truly reflect the source from which it came. At a very young age I became disillusioned and frankly discussed with people 'witnessing' to non believers in very impersonal and ineffective ways. As a result of this I have developed a deep desire to always be very authentic and purposeful when sharing my faith. I believe I must earn the right to tell someone my story. I mean, why should they care what happened to me if they don't know me, and why should my story affect their life if I don't really know them. 
Please do not misunderstand me. I LOVE to tell the story of what God has done in my life! But HIS story is meaningful, and I don't want to lose people's interest by speaking out of turn. 
That being said, I want to tell the story of God thus far in the journey of one Emily Panter. Read at your pleasure ;).
I feel unbelievably blessed to have been born into a home where both of my parents were genuinely sold out for their creator, God. My father was a pastor and Mom stayed home with me and my two older brothers. By the time I turned 4 my mom had had two more sons; one who would be born with and eventually die of cancer at the very young age of 13 months. When I was five we they answered a heart stirring To go into full time missions, and we set off for Costa Rica for one year of language school on our way to Chile. We arrived on Chilean soil on August 16th, 1985, my parents 16th wedding anniversary. Being so young, I very quickly adapted to and fell in live with my new home. I loved being an M.K. and everything that came with it. I fully believed everything my parents had taught me about the Bible and all that it said about who God was. At the young age of 6, I distinctly remember understanding the concept of a perfect God and sinful man. I knew, that although my parents were missionaries, although I believed God was who He said He was, even though I was young and only guilty of sins such as fighting and lying; I understood that my sin disqualified me from God's presence and therefore heaven. I was haunted by this realization! I remember asking my mother daily if I was going to die while I slept. She would of course tell me that I was not going to die, but she couldn't know what was eating at me so much. I knew if I died, I would forever be separated from my parents and God whom I loved so much. I needed a Savior! She finally asked me why I was so worried, and when I told her, she asked if I'd like to talk to my dad about it. I said "Yes! Right now!" The matter was so pressing to me I would not be put off. My dad was in the bath! A convicted heart cannot stand it! I do not ever remember worrying about dying in my sleep again.
As I grew in my faith I began to learn that what I had done, was surrender my will to God's will. He needed to be my boss. I had good days and bad days but I look back on constant growth in my walk with God.
My 7th grade year, we were living in Punta Arenas (we had been for 4 years.) My parents told me we would be moving to the capital, Santiago, when we returned from our stateside furlough. The last thing I got to do with my classmates was go on a camping trip. During this trip, my best friend surrendered her life to God. When she told me, I was delighted, but also stricken with a deep sense of regret. I realized that my friend had become a Christian despite me and not because of me or my influence in her life. I thought of all my other friends whom I would no longer see. I vowed to never waste my time or friendships any longer. 
My time in Santiago was a HUGE time of growth for me and my walk. I attended a small Christian school and was very involved in leadership. I was also very involved in church. I remember my senior year. I felt strongly that I wanted to go where God wanted me to go. My two older brothers were in west Texas. I felt I needed to see how my faith would fair on its own.  I was accepted to Oklahoma Baptist University, but I felt strongly, once again, that I needed to see what my faith was made off. I wanted to be a light in darkness. I wanted to shine! I chose to go to Texas A&M-Commerce. This was a wonderful time of growth and stretching for me. It is also where I met Luke. We met and married in 15 months. We both felt called to ministry and knew God's plan involved us together. 
God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to add to our family quickly. Our Hannah was born only 18 months into our married adventure began. When Noah joined our circus, only 13 months later, we decided  Luke should get a full time plumbing job and I should stay home. This was a dream of mine, to raise my children, but that doesn't mean I was a natural at it or that it was easy.  After Abigail was born and Luke had started going back to Criswell College in the evenings, God opened an unexpected door for Luke to take a huge pay cut and "full time" pastor position at a small church in Tx. We stepped out on faith and have never looked back! During the seven wonderful years we spent there, God allowed me to stay home, be very active in our church, help start a community bible study group in Greenville, Tx and add two more fun loving girls to our bunch-Lily and Sarah. 
Sarah was born on October 26th, 2008 and two days after she was born, my 29 year old body suffered a ruptured aneurysm of thr right iliac artery. I will not recount that whole story (it is all in this blog side that is why it was created in the first place.) I will only say, that for two months God showed off big time! While all I did was literally lie in a bed and do NOTHING! I have never felt more used by God than at that time! People saw me and gave God all the glory. THAT is what I want my whole life to be about. 
Since that time God sent us to OK for a time and has recently called us to plant a church in Arizona. I want to be completely used up by God for His glory and His kingdom. I want to see lives transformed from the inside out. I want to have no regrets.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

I choose to lift my eyes up.

A BEAUTIFUL chapter from the Psalms. It is full of beautiful verbs,  beautiful descriptors, beautiful truths, and beautiful promises. It provides hope AND perspective for my life, my family, our calling and even the political climate of our country currently. I pray everyone who takes the time to read and meditate on it will be as blessed as I am by it.

Psalm 33:1-22 Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song;Play skillfully with a shout of joy. For the word of the Lord is upright,And all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice;The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,And by the breath of His mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;He lays up the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord;Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done;He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever,The plans of His heart from generation to generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance. The Lord looks from heaven;He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks outOn all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all,He who understands all their works. The king is not saved by a mighty army;A warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory;Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from deathAnd to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord;He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him,Because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,According as we have hoped in You. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Genesis 2:9 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

As humans we make really bad choices. Often we think that choice will get us something we want that we don't have. What we seldom realize is that what we do have is often already better, and making that wrong choice can only hurt us and cause ripple effects that hurt others as well. Adam and Eve are an obvious example of this. There are so many others (only every human who has ever lived!) Just to mention a few: Abraham lied and said his wife was only his sister out of fear of death. He allowed her to be taken by a pagan man...twice! God intervened and went on to make Abraham the father of two large nations. Moses, murdered a man, argued with God at his mission, took matters into his own hands in the face of a whinny, obstinate people; yet God used him to deliver a nation from bondage, gave him the Law, allowed him to SEE God's back and live! David committed adultery and then murder, yet God called this king, a man after His heart! Solomon had around 1000 women in his life, yet God allowed him to build His temple. Peter denied Christ, yet God built his Church through this man. Paul very aggressively persecuted Christians, yet God revealed Himself to him and called him to missionary work and authored 13 books in the Bible through him.  
These are just big examples. The Bible, history, and the world are FULL of men and women who chose to dishonor God and sin. However, when God, in His infinite mercy and grace, revealed Himself to them and extended his UNDESERVED forgiveness, these men and women went on to be heroes of the faith and giants in history! 

Psalm 40:2-3 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;Many will see and fearAnd will trust in the Lord. 

Galatians 2:19-20 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

Ephesians 5:1-21 Ephesians 2:8-10 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says,“Awake, sleeper,And arise from the dead,And Christ will shine on you.” Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. 

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 

As a SINNER, amazingly saved by grave, CALLED to a higher purpose; I pray that I show grace, that I be light. 'God help me REMEMBER who I was without You! Help me see those around me who are still suffering lostness in the miry clay! Use me as an instrument of light to help pull them out into Your glorious light and life!'

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Next Chapter

God has begun a new chapter in the life of my family. The story is still the same. We exist to bring Him glory and to make His name known. But God has brought about a lot of change in the everyday make-up of the life of our family.
All my children are now in school, and the wonderful days of pouring myself wholly into my home and my children have drawn to a close. Those precious years have been priceless and well worth the struggles and challenges we faced. I now pray God would honor that time and yield  strong holds for the roots that grew in the lives of my children. I pray they their faith would be sure and steadfast, and that it would be truly THEIRS. I firmly believe God has a special calling on each of my children. I rejoice that four of them have already heard that call to be His. I also believe that, because they are His, He has a purpose for them in the here and now---in their youth. I pray that they would be walking beacons of light in an increasingly dark culture. ~Father, give them strength.~
Because of this first change in our lives, I have felt compelled to go back into the workforce. I LOVED being home and making it a safe haven for family and friends, but as my children go out I must find others to pour into during the day. Most women today work outside the home. I personally believe there is TREMENDOUS value in being at home, but I found myself struggling to connect with working women. My call to them to devote time with God felt pushy. I could see in their eyes the thought: 'sure you have don't work all day.' I pray that I will be a shinning beacon of light to an increasingly dark culture. ~Father, grant me favor. Please open doors of opportunity for me to boldly share You and Your life changing grace.~
In addition to those two rather significant changes in the life of our family, God has also done something else. He began first in the life of Luke to stir in him a desire to be more efficient in reaching the lost. He planted in him the desire to start a new work. We have been blessed in the last ten years of our marriage to pour of ourselves into the life of the already established church. We have been able to grow and work alongside other mature believers. First, Luke's, and eventually my desire has become to be more active in the first stages of the life of the believer. To see the lost come to Him. 
God has done many things over the last six month to bring about this change. Anyone who knows me, knows my love of the rain. The thought of living in the desert would have NEVER occurred to me on my own. Only God could convince me to do that! He has moved our family to Maricopa, Arizona. We are about 15 miles south of the Phoenix valley area. Maricopa has grown incredibly over the last five years and shows no signs of slowing down. For some perspective, there are roughly 2 million  people in the state of Oklahoma (where we just moved from,) and there are roughly 2,000 Baptist churches there. In Phoenix and the surrounding area there are aroung 6.5 million people and only 400,or so, Baptist churches. This means that you cold have up to 16,250 people per church! Of course that is not happening, but the need is great. 
We are so excited to see what God is going to do. 
Will you please pray for our family, and this new adventurous chapter God has begun in us? Please pray for courage, strength and wisdom. Please pray for favor in our encounters with the lost. Pray that we would all be beacons of light, that we would stand in stark contrast to the darkness of our culture and the sin that plagues us as a fallen people.~Father, please go before us.~