Giving Thanks for Godly Influences

— In loving memory of my parents, Harvey and Barbara Penley —

This may be an unusual post for a marriage blog. It certainly is different than the Easter teaching I had in mind when we sent out the last post. But because of what Easter is truly all about, I think you will see it is appropriate.

You see, my dad died last week. Much of what I learned about life and marriage came from him and my mom, who died many years ago. They taught me God’s Word almost from birth. They took me to church as soon as possible and almost every Sunday after until I went to college. I still have the Bible given to me by that church on my first day in the newborn Sunday School class.

Even more importantly, my parents taught me God’s Word at home. They also lived that Word out in front of me. That included how to have a Godly marriage. They certainly weren’t perfect, but they showed me the reality of God’s love and grace even in their imperfection. They taught me how to demonstrate that love and grace to others. And this has been crucial for my marriage.

My parents believed and sought to practice God’s Word in Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. The result of this was that the Lord led me to give my life to Jesus as my Savior when I was 11 years old.

All of this is possible only because of what Easter means. We read about it in what I think of as Paul’s Easter account in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

My dad taught me and showed me how to practice biblical teaching about marriage. He used passages like Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” He taught me and exemplified for me 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 

Dad also instructed me with Colossians 3:19: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” I never saw my dad raise his voice or hand to my mom. While he was not a perfect husband, he always treated her with love and respect in front of me.

This has all allowed me to seek to follow Jesus all my life. And I am forever thankful for that. I know my wife Sabra is also. The only reason I have been able to be a Godly husband to her—yet far from perfect–is because of Jesus and His Holy Spirit who lives in me.

I will miss my dad. I am certain, however, that I will see him again in heaven. And it will be for eternity then. One thing his life was all about was Jesus and bringing others to heaven with him.

I think the passage that best describes my dad’s life is Philippians 3:7-14:

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

One of the last things my dad said to me was to make sure the Gospel was presented at his funeral service. I will honor that in this post as well. If you want to know how you can join us in heaven for eternity as well as having the marriage God wants for you now, go here: Meet Jesus.

I thank God for parents who led me to Jesus. I thank them for being instrumental to my salvation. And I thank them for being instrumental to my marriage.

Who has been a godly influence on your marriage?

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♦   Read this week’s teaching post together. Discuss ways it may have spoken to you and your marriage. Perhaps it has made you be thankful for people God has placed in your life who have helped you in your marriage. Maybe it has led you to think of ways you want your marriage to help your children and others to know and live for Christ.

♦   Close your time together in prayer. Ask God to help you and your marriage to glorify Him, and to teach others about Him. Ask Him to use you to lead people to Jesus.

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Next week we’ll be back to a “regular” teaching on marriage.

Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,

All Scripture is from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Header photo by Danielle MacInnes via (CC0), cropped/text added.
Family photo of Harvey and Barbara Penley, 1948.


About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.