Payh Blog
Prisoner handcuffed to death by lethal injection, vial with sodium thiopental and syringe on top of a table, conceptual image
May 29, 2013

Flesh and Blood

“My own flesh and blood!” This is how many speak of their own family; those who live together and produce children and grandchildren and share many intimate experiences because of their familial relationships. There is a dynamic, powerful, natural link that binds these human beings together like nothing else. Of course, there is breakdown in a sinful world where even the Bible speaks of children turning on parents and parents doing violence to their own children. We see all too much evidence of this horrendous evil in our society, and all the more as the return of Christ draws near. Nevertheless, by God’s design, in most situations we are proud of our family, and proud to speak of our family name. We come to each others’ defense and aid. The bond of our own “flesh and blood” is strong indeed!
“Flesh and blood” also speaks of humanity in general. Jesus, God with us, took on flesh and blood in becoming man. We are creatures who are “flesh and blood,” as opposed to a just as real spiritual world, which the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 6 for example. Flesh and blood is perishable as we see very graphically in bloody accidents and on battlefields. When the life-blood flows out, it leaves lifeless flesh, which in turn decomposes in the grave. Flesh and blood together are necessary to sustain physical life!
Blood is the same color in all human beings; however, the flesh takes on many hues throughout the human race. Just as we are proud of our own families, we take pride in our race, reflected in the hues of our skin, and also distinguished by the cultural characteristics that mark races; not only because of skin color, but also languages, tribes and nations. God has created a veritable rainbow of races and cultures throughout His world. The Bible tells us very clearly that in this regard God is not a respecter of persons. This is emphasized in Jesus’ words above; “The flesh counts for nothing!” This truth should impact the formation of your world view; how you see the world, how you see yourself, and how you see God. It should have a powerful impact on what you teach your children; not only in how they see themselves, but also how they see all of humanity under the sun.
What counts in God’s eyes, what profits you for eternity, not only in this life, but the next, is not the family you come from, not the greatness of your family name, not the color of your skin, but from God’s own mouth, what counts and what matters is where God’s Spirit dwells! “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing!” If you can say with godly pride, my parents led me to Christ, the Spirit entered my life through their nurture, the Spirit ruled in our home, then and only then is the family worthy of receiving true praise; along with a humility of spirit recognizing that but for the grace of God you too would go the way of the lost world.
Neither family, nor race should receive your praise, nor your willingness to follow and support, OVER God’s commandments and words simply because of being your family or race. God is your first love always, and no other gods come before your devotion and obedience to Him. The presence of God’s Spirit observed in the upholding of the commandments and righteousness of God as revealed in His Word, determines who and when the true Christian supports and follows. The genuine success of any parent, the success of any flesh and blood family, rests in whether or not the Spirit of God is present in the lives of parents and children. “Where the Spirit of God is, there is life! The flesh counts for nothing!” Work to be a family, a person, where the Spirit of God lives. This is what counts!

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May 23, 2013

Making an Impact in Your Family

When we see the damage caused by the Oklahoma Tornado, or any natural disaster, the impact made is obvious. It leaves us devastated for the lives lost and dreams forever changed. While we may be incredulous to the power of nature, what is truly difficult to comprehend and understand is how people recover when a single event can bring about such wide sweeping change to lives, families, and communities. The entire landscape is literally and figuratively altered.
The news is littered with stories of devastation. We move from crisis in our economy, to political scandal, acts of terrorism, natural disasters and any other number of conflicts that take place between people in countries throughout the world. In our movement from issue to issue, crisis to crisis, the reality is that these are actual people who are impacted. Lives are forever changed. What enables some people to begin again, to get back up with a renewed determination while other people simply give up?
Becoming immune to the news of the day may seem a way to step off the roller coaster of endless crises. However, our “acts of self-preservation can cause us to ignore all that is truly going on around us. Somehow, we never seem to really “know the neighbor next door. As we isolate from the news around us, it is increasingly easier to lose our sense of community.
As a son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father, each of us is a part of a family that lives in a home. Homes collectively make up communities, which in turn form towns, cities, states, and countries. Together, 7 billion individuals live on this planet which we call “home.
So what will we make of this world, of our home? What are we handing to the next generation? As individuals, we cannot change everything, but will we do something?
Determination to do something
Deaf and blind from the age of nineteen months on, Helen Keller died at the age of 87, having become a college graduate, an author, and a renowned speaker. Her inspiring life spoke to an inner strength, determination, and resilience born from a difficult and challenging life. She is quoted as saying; “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
For us at the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH), our determination is to start with not only our own lives, but to reach out and impact the lives of the next generation, their families, and in doing so, change the world around us.
You are familiar with the statistic, 36,000 juveniles are arrested every week. With the average size family being made of up 4 people that means an enormous number of people are suffering each week. These are your neighbors, people within your community, who are losing hope.
Our role as an organization is to provide hope. We are not alone in this. Entire sections of any bookstore are dedicated to personal growth, self-help, or life coaching books. All these books contain a common message: you have the power to change. This is a fundamental idea in our world. Without this hope, we’d be paralyzed by despair.
Making an Impact
We know that just reading or hearing something will not change us. If information changed us, we would be the most changed generation in history. Real significant, lasting change requires something more. It requires breaking down the barriers that hold us back. Whether those barriers are a fear of failure, exhaustion, pride, not knowing how or where to start, or just being completely lost, if we expose and understand the obstacles, we can begin to overcome them.
What are the obstacles in your own home? What is holding you back from making an impact in the community around you? Are you determined to make an impact? Are you passionate for the next generation?
It has been said that “whoever wants this next generation the most, will get them. You may not be able to do everything, but you can do something. Join with us. Let’s win this next generation together!

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Three smiling women dancing in circle during picnic
May 23, 2013

How Children Always Learn: For Good Or For Ill

On a cold January morning in 2007 in a Washington DC Metro Station a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. Within the same time approximately 2,000 people passed through the station. After about 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. Slowing his pace he stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried on. 4 minutes later a woman threw a dollar in the hat on the floor before him and continued to walk without stopping. At six minutes a young man leaned against a wall to listen, but looking at his watch started to walk again. At 10 minutes a three year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him hurriedly along. The boy stopped again looking back, but the mother persistently pushed hard as the child had no choice but to walk and look back until out of sight. The same thing happened with a number of children, but every parent without exception forced their child to move quickly on. For 45 minutes the musician played. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money amounting to $32, while continuing their hurried walk. Then the musician stopped playing, packed up his violin, and left as the silence took over. No one applauded or noticed. There was no recognition at all.
Unbeknown to the passers by the musician was one of the greatest musicians in the world: Joshua Bell. He played one of the most intricate and complex pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days earlier Joshua Bell had sold-out a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100 to sit and listen to him perform the same music. This true story account was arranged by the Washington Post as a social experiment about perception, taste, and people’s priorities. It attempted to answer the question whether people in a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, perceive, recognize, and appreciate beauty. The Post mused in their telling of their experiment; “If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made….How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?
As I read this my own thoughts went immediately to the children who wanted to stop and to the parent who rushed them on their way to meet something in the parent’s schedule that was more important than beauty, children’s curiosity, or a valuable opportunity to teach a child something he or she may never forget; even when he or she is a parent with their own children. Most likely they will hurry their children along just as their parents did them, because that is exactly how children learn. They learn from parents as they walk with them along the road, as they sit, as they lie down, or get up; that is, parents teach as they live life! And each of us repeats what we learn from the daily walk of our parents; unless grace, repentance, and love for God penetrate the shield around our mind and heart, breaking the persistent generational cycle.
It is true that some true priorities restrict us from stopping for every such occasion to teach, to reflect, to listen, to see, to appreciate God’s creation and truth. The problem is that it is more often true that there is NEVER time. And before we know it the time for teaching and appreciating and reflecting and praising God with and in the presence of our children is passed and gone.
God knows how children learn. It is unfortunate that parents do not listen to Him when the time is truly ripe.

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May 16, 2013

Give Her the Reward She has Earned: Mother's Day Tribute

“Her children arise and call her blessed… Proverbs 31:28

I have been blessed beyond measure by a woman whose address is now Paradise, as in Jesus’ words, “Today you will be with me in paradise. There is no greater blessing from earthly relationships than to be granted the honor of godly parents; my mother was one half of the partnership, but my father might well say 75%.  Psalm 8 says of us all that we were “made a little lower than the heavenly beings (angels); I believe my mother ranked up there among the angels, as I and others observed and as many others have given testimony.  Sounds like the partisan bias of a son, but in no uncertain terms she was and is a remarkable woman, and a superb mother. How more blessed can anyone be? With Augustine I can speak of her as he did his own mother, Monica. Though their talents were distributed differently, I know a few other close friends who were equally so blessed, and I am sure last Sunday they were giving thanksgiving to God for the noble woman who gave them birth and enriched their lives, not only in this life but for eternity.
As I peruse Proverbs 31:10-31, though the tasks and the materials may differ somewhat I am reminded of the discipline, love, labor, and results of her hands and heart in so many resemblances to this woman of noble character. Just as the wife and mother here, she was quite multi-tasked, able to keep many balls in the air, without dropping or shirking any one of the areas to which God called her; and they weren’t few.
She was known all over the world as an indefatigable correspondent, who eschewed the computer age, and could fit more words in legible long hand on a 3×5 card, or any handy scrap of paper, than any of the loved recipients thought possible; sort of like the question “how many angels can be fit on the head of a pin? She wrote standing in lines, waiting for doctor appointments, watching her children’s performances, at any and all times and tirelessly. She prayed every bit as much, even more, than she wrote to encourage, support, inform, seek salvation and protection for others, and unwearyingly point her readers to the One upon whom her eyes were fixed (Hebrews 12:2). She actually wrote so much that the ligaments to her thumb on her writing hand wore out and had to be surgically repaired.
She was wife, mother, daughter, sister, pastor’s wife, Bible School designer/director, teacher, encourager, visitor, evangelist, singer, music director, hostess, and mentor to thousands. Sounds like super-woman without the red S under her clothes; I often thought she really was faster than a speeding bullet, and could leap tall buildings in a single bound;  and actually those adjectives are apt analogies of what she accomplished in her schedule and work, as her quick mind and discipling heart never quit until God took her home at 86.
She was a sinner, like us all; she was well aware of her standing by grace alone before her Father in heaven. The reality of this truth drove her to her knees in prayer, to open her mouth in witness to the good news, even to those who did not want to hear, and to seek often in tears the salvation of her children, and all who entered her orbit. Her children indeed arise and call her blessed; a woman who fears the Lord, deserving of praise.
Mother’s Day is just past, but dates should never keep children, young or old, particularly you, from expressing thanksgiving where it is due. “Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, that it might go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. (Ephesians 6:2) If her address reads Paradise, give thanks again for her to God. Speak specifically from your heart what would be pleasing to God in keeping His command. He takes note, and gladdens the hearts that never tire in giving thanks.

“His love is like a [mother’s] to her children, tender and kind to all who fear His name; for well He knows our weakness and our frailty, He knows that we are dust, He knows our frame. Bless Him forever, wondrous in might, bless Him His servants that in His will delight. (see Isaiah 66:13)
(3rd verse of Psalm 103 from The Psalter, 1912 )

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Women holding and playing their sacred drums outdoors in the wintertime
May 09, 2013

Time Like An Ever Rolling Stream

You have seen the movies or TV shows where the clock on the bomb is ticking down to zero and will not stop or take a pause as each second clicks away toward explosion. In most cases the deadly bomb is defused at the last possible split second. But this is exactly how time is always moving inexorably no matter what we do. Every second we get older; before we can blink an eye it seems our children are leaving home; the vacation is coming to an end; the hour long test is down to its 59th minute; we may grow weary with time marching on, but the cosmic clock never does. Nothing stops it, except the promised coming of Jesus. We are creatures of time, bound to its laws. Everything has an end . . . in its time.
We live in constant tension with time. Sometimes it moves too fast, and in another it appears laboriously slow. Young ones want to grow faster; we older wish time would take a break. Yet in every case it moves at its normal pace, never wavers. Time is a necessary element to building relationships, to finishing projects, to healing the body or soul, to achieving goals, to living. And the Bible and its author are very aware of this dilemma: how to use what time you have? God’s Word tells us the days are evil, and in another breath, they are short; so use what you have wisely. It is a gift.
With regard to families, husband and wife, parents and children, time is essential for accomplishing what God pronounces success; an eternal measurement which will be in use at the great judgment. Some say it is the quality of time, not the quantity in the success of family. But any way you cut it, it is still time which is absolutely necessary. Paul writes in this passage in Ephesians that time requires priorities to redeem it, and not waste it. And Paul’s priorities of value for us, though he himself was not married, are found in the rest of this chapter 5 of Ephesians and into the next; the relationship of spouses, parents and children, read employers and employees, and the real spiritual battle common to all until the return of Christ brings everything to a sudden halt.
Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything; indeed the list seems to incorporate every conceivable activity under the sun; and that is exactly our difficulty. We have a vast potpourri to choose from every day of how to spend time. Of course, some is a requirement of responsibilities, but even within such there are choices. So we are faced with a need for specific guidance for our appetites, desires, and choices. The wisdom of Solomon summarizes for you at the end of Ecclesiastes: “Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
From the whole of Scripture it simply cannot be denied that family and the time required for her success stands very close to the top of God’s priorities. Invest your time wisely; just be sure your spouse and your children come immediately after your relationship with God.

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Millennium Cross on a top of the Vodno mountain hill above Skopje, Macedonia
May 02, 2013

God's Seedbed of Faith

“The history of the world did not begin atomistically, with a group of isolated individuals, but organically, with a marriage and a family. (Herman Bavinck) Your marriage and the home created by it, is the seedbed of faith for the children God gives you. “The family is no fabrication of human hands, Bavinck writes in The Christian Family; “it is a gift of God, bestowed according to his good pleasure. There are many individuals, fortunately, who have been “plucked as a burning brand out of families who essentially hate God and then by God’s grace set on the path of faith; but God’s designed and planned norm for his chosen people is that the children of believing parent(s) will grow in the soil in which they are planted, a soil tilled and nourished by the parent(s) who husband the home God has gifted, as a vinedresser lovingly cares for his or her vineyard.
The parable which Jesus tells of the sower in Matthew 13 depicts various types of soil into which seed may fall as it is sown, one of which is the tilled, nourished soil which produces the fruit of faith. Which of the soils in Matthew 13 describes your home? The family is the incubator in which faith takes root in the souls of your children and this begins at conception and continues on through the very malleable first five years of life; then they are watered, nurtured, and pruned through the adolescent and teenage years, honed and sharpened to withstand the deadly, poisoned, shrewd arrows of the Prince of Darkness. It may sound like a fairy tale given the descriptions which come from God’s Word, but it is all terrifyingly real! And it would be completely and depressingly overwhelming if it were not for the truth, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world! The battlefield is wretched, but the Christian’s armor (Ephesians 6) is sure . . . when it is put on.
One of the difficult truths for parents, which calls for faith and trust in what God says, is that the disproportionate learning and growth of those early years, in which a child learns more actually than in proportion to later years, happens unnoticed, automatically so to speak, gradually, uninterruptedly. It is scary in its “every-moment-character in which thousands of incidents, thousands of trivia, thousands of trifles all exert their influence, and yet so it is. Be reminded of God’s teaching philosophy, one which is true to our nature, “. . . you shall talk of them (his commandments) when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7-8) There is none of this “now we are going to talk about God, the Bible, or religious things, as though it is somehow segmented from all other life. All of life, all things trivial or profound, fun or serious, reflects the character in your soul and your intent to “walk in the light as [Jesus] is in the light.
This constancy of God’s school of truth can sound wearying from a certain perspective, but it is because who you are in all times is a perpetual teacher of what is authentically you to those eyes and ears which are drinking in everything about you, whether you are conscious of it or not. Denying it or trying to escape from it is like saying I don’t believe in gravity.
A person’s becoming human occurs in the family; here the foundation is laid for the forming of the future man and woman, of the future father and mother, of the future member of society, of the future citizen, of the future subject in the kingdom of God. Your family is the seedbed of faith in God or the seedbed of the evil one; it is the crucible of victory or the inflamant of failure.

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