Payh Blog
Brown welcome coir doormat isolated on white
Sep 25, 2013

No Inverted Funnels For Christians

“For we are the temple of the Living God.” As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” II Corinthians 6:16


In a recent interview with Christianity Today, new Pope Francis had a lot to say about the vital importance of community in his life and the life of all people, especially God’s people. As Pope he has chosen to live in an apartment in one of the Vatican guest residences and not in the Apostolic Palace where the Pope normally resides in luxury, but also more exclusion. He said to live there is like living in an “inverted funnel.” “People can come only in dribs and drabs, and I cannot live without people. I need to live my life with others.” Belonging to a people has strong theological value. “In the history of salvation, God has saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in human community. God enters in to this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships….”
Indeed, throughout the Scriptures God reveals His calling out, His saving a people, not as individuals alone, but as a people who are His people. They are called the ecclesia, the Church, the mystical body of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not so much saved, separated, and isolated persons, but a redeemed PEOPLE, in relationship to one another and to Him. This is a prophetic word for Christians who want Jesus apart from institutionalized religion. Hebrews says quite clearly, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together!” (Hebrews 10:25) God’s declared design is for His people to be in relationship to one another; to worship and serve together as a people set apart by their unity in Him; hence, community! Living out your faith in individualistic isolation is a concept foreign to the teaching of Christ and the revelation of His Word.
While we cannot come to salvation in Christ on the coattails of others alone, we are certainly in most cases ushered to the foot of the cross by a community of the faithful. We are redeemed as individuals who are personally known, loved and atoned for by the Savior. But we are saved into community; to live, worship, and serve in community. Community is a necessity of Biblical Christianity; we need the body of Christ to come to full maturity in Him. Whenever we stumble and fall, whenever we are in need, the worst thing we can do is flee into reclusiveness. At these times we need the body of Christ for restoration and healing, and the Scriptures could not be clearer in pointing us in that direction. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as we see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) Remind yourself again of the “lettuce patch” of Scripture in Hebrews 10:19-25. It is always “Let us…..”
Change begins with an individual, who is first in a family,  and then in community. But change never occurs if it remains within the individual and never moves further. In fact, this cannot be.  Genuine change always impacts those around the individual in whom change occurs, and naturally triggers an impact on others in his or her path. We are never an island unto ourselves. Whatever we do for good or for ill we impact others! We are creatures of community because God designed us this way. Adam could not live alone and be satisfied. Just like Pope Francis, we need the people of God or we shrivel and die in our aloneness.
Seek the community of God, and bring the hurting and needy into its healing orb. You cannot meet all the needs of others by yourself; but the body of Christ together has all the necessary gifts.


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Christmass
Sep 19, 2013

Home, Sweet Home

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young–a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your home.” Psalm 84:1-4


After over a year away, I returned home when I never expected I would; home to the land of my birth. What an overwhelming sense of joy, hardly explainable, to touch down on American soil. I had traversed a year of combat in Vietnam and returned home! Glenda and I have just returned home after a month away. Glenda’s anticipation of coming home is palpable! We visited the Isle of Patmos, as you read last week. The beloved disciple, John, also had the joy of returning to his loved congregations and sons and daughters in the faith after years in exile on this island. I am certain his homecoming was met with tears and hallelujahs of great joy, as well as the tears of joy of St. John himself.  You know the special feeling of returning home after a time away; hugging loved ones, sleeping in your own bed, and loving the very sense of “being home.”
Our homes, in almost every case, wherever it is, warms our heart, and, especially when we are separated from it, our  hearts yearn for home! It is a delight to return home in one fashion or another, even for those who do not or know not how to express their sense of warmth and joy in “coming home.” Every human being yearns for home or a home that is theirs! This Psalm captures the longing of the soul for home, and acknowledges the place of the soul’s bottom-line yearning: the home where God dwells. This yearning is what drives the essentially spiritual soul of every human being; even the atheist who denies the existence of any gods,  yearns for what drives his very being,  though he does not, and refuses to, understand it.
All of us are always on our way home, even though the intermediate experience of coming home is a real but temporary joy. In the believer whose vision of the future is framed by faith, the intermediate joys of coming home are intended to whet their appetite for the courts of the living God, and the Savior’s presence, who died for them. Eternal life should not be feared as an ethereal place of “who knows what,” but rather a “coming home” to what you have always yearned, even ached, to see and be. This is why God gives us homes, and the feelings that accompany “coming home” today, that we may with the Psalmist yearn for our home in the dwelling place of God. Do not let another experience of “coming home” and the feelings that accompany it go by without exercising your faith to acknowledge your real home, anticipating it with increasing, desiring joy. (See Titus 2:11-14, I Corinthians 1:7).
Such an exercise of your faith will enlighten and create a picture acquainted with reality, which the Bible reveals to its faithful reader and devourer, that God’s dwelling place, His home, is your home, the place that exceeds every joy and sense of well-being and safety that you have ever felt in “coming home” to your temporary home on this present earth. And to those who struggle to find such a place here and now, a place which warms your heart and satisfies every longing, you may have by active and living faith in Jesus a real home to anticipate, one which exceeds every imagination you have or could ever have.
Do not waste the joys of “coming home” to the here and now! Use them by faith for the anticipation of what awaits you in the future certainty of your true home, sweet home.


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Hunter
Sep 12, 2013

RTT Parents vs Culture – Bradlee


Would you like to know what advise teens would give to parents? Hear some advise from Brad about what he thinks parents can do to help ensure that their child stays safe in this dangerous world.
 


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Millennium Cross on a top of the Vodno mountain hill above Skopje, Macedonia
Sep 12, 2013

Patmos

We are too often concerned about the behavior of others and not of first priority ourselves. In this instance, Jesus rebuked Peter for the benefit of us all. We too need to be admonished by the Lord, “I have a plan for that other person or persons, however, YOU must follow me. But what is fascinating about this passage in John is the rumor that began over the Lord’s words; namely that John would not die, but remain alive until His return. What Jesus said could be understood with varying meaning. One, “What happens with John is not your first priority, in your case, Peter, you must follow me. But, two, John in a very real sense did remain alive to the return of the Lord, in that John saw very vividly the events of the last days AND the Lord’s return in a grand vision on the rocky isle of Patmos just off the coast of modern day Turkey where he was exiled by the Roman emperor around 95 AD. I think both meanings are true as the Lord prophesied John’s vision and taught each of us to focus on a committed following of the Lord Jesus; doing what a true disciple of Jesus ought to do.
I have just been to the isle of Patmos for the first time in my life. It was an exhilarating experience, even if it is a small, yet beautiful, Greek island and even though John has been long gone from Patmos and in heaven since the early years of the Second Century. However, for many, the holy atmosphere of the rocky isle has remained right up to the present day. Tradition for thousands of years has marked the cave where the elderly Apostle John, or likely his scribe wrote down the vision of the Apocalypse as John described what he was given by God to see. Tradition also tells us that John was accompanied into exile on Patmos by Prochoros, one of the seven deacons appointed by the Apostles (Acts 6:5), becoming John’s companion, helper, and scribe in his exile.
The events John saw in his God-inspired vision are primarily still in the  future, possibly your personal future, if they indeed take place in your lifetime which is certainly possible, some say even probable. Time will tell. Other than the Christ-given letters to the seven churches, which are for the church of all the ages from the first to the twenty first century, the Apocalypse is yet before us as both promise and warning. The scenes almost defy description in words; the very reason why the Book of Revelation has been so controversial with so many different interpretations by myriad commentators down through the millenniums. What a combination of horrific, cataclysmic, and glorious scenes are set before our eyes by the beloved disciple and elderly presbyter. He describes for your own eyes and imagination the New Jerusalem and your home for eternity, but also the apocalyptic and terrible events which precede the conclusion of human history as we have known it.
The Book of Revelation ought to be for every believer the Spirit infused and inspired anchor for the soul through all the terrible events yet to descend upon the world, and a stern warning to awaken the hearts and minds of unbelievers to the horror that is coming upon those who continue to hate the words and person of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
This is why Patmos for a believer has an air of reverence, of holy ground, because our brother in the Lord, John, received this vision here on this small isle, and wrote it down for the church of all ages, that you might be prepared for what lies ahead having this promise of future glory to sustain you through horrific times. All the more reason for you to again hear Jesus’ words to Peter on the shore of Galilee and embed them in your own heart and actions, “You must follow me!


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adult hands key to child
Sep 10, 2013

Making A Difference


I believe that every person can make a difference.  I believe that we can see change take place.  One person at time, we can make a difference!  And when we see change in one, we see change in others.
Isn’t that what each one of us as people long for?
The hope of something different?
We believe that life is precious.  We believe joy comes in loving our neighbor as ourselves.  And this is the place where hope lives.  Change will take place not only in others but in ourselves when we invest our lives in something bigger than just ourselves.
We believe a difference can be made.  We believe change is taking place!


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Priceless
Sep 05, 2013

The Essential Joy of Marriage

This week I have been with four couples in Skopje, Macedonia, three whom I married and the other whom I pastored along with them. I asked them what they had discovered in 25-30 years plus of being married to one another about marriage that was so important to their well-being as individuals. Obviously, Adam’s being alone was not a good thing. Of course, God could have made a replicate Adam, say a Steve, to erase the loneliness. But we know what God did, He made an Eve. She was quite different than Adam, and yet the same. Adam said, “At last this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. I imagine there were apes and gorillas in the Garden or about on the earth, and Adam never said this of them. Animals have been close “friends of man throughout history. There is a love between certain animals and man. But this did not satisfy Adam’s aloneness.
Marriage we have observed has been God’s design to populate the earth; “Be fruitful and multiply. Thus marriage is intended for procreation and providing a secure “incubator environment for the nurturing of infant human beings into maturity with all that is required to bring such to fruition. Marriage is for mutual aid of one another in the vicissitudes of life; “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…But pity the man that falls and has no one to help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) God created Eve to be a “suitable helper. Ephesians 5 makes it quite clear that marriage is designed by God to be a reflection of His Son’s marriage to His church, all of those in the faith, male and female. Marriage is intended to teach us about the intimacy of our relationship to Christ. We know from personal experience or observation of other marriages that this teaching point is eschewed to our detriment.
But going back to God’s first words about marriage, He said it was to satisfy Adam’s aloneness that He made Eve. The joy of marriage is essentially “companionship; a companionship not known in any other relationship outside of marriage between a man and a woman, an Adam and an Eve. There are many benefits that come with such a companionship, one being a family with children. And another being the opportunity to declare the gospel, Christ becoming the bridegroom and husband of the church.
However, marriage is essentially a wonderfully blessed companionship, where aloneness is vanquished. Being together as the closest of friends and mutual helpers of each other far exceeds the companionship of other friends of same or opposite sex, or even with your children. For God uniquely describes this companionship, this marriage, as a mysterious “one flesh union. No other human relationship can top that! This relationship is where your home on earth is. You are not “home until you are together again, and home is not as much a single geographical location as it is wherever husband and wife are together, with all the heart felt emotions and sense of well-being this togetherness brings. Those who have known the three braided cord of Ecclesiastes 2 know of what I am talking. There is ultimate joy in such a companionship that little else can compare on earth.
If your marriage is not this, you have promises from God that it can be so. Call out for the fulfillment of His promise, and work righteously to this end! The fervent prayer of a righteous man or woman is powerful and effective. (James 5:10).


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Change
Sep 04, 2013

Seeing Change In Your Community


Is change possible? What does it take to see change in your community? It starts with where you invest. Whether it is your time, talent, or treasure, your investment of any of these will bring about a return.
Lives, families, and communities are forever changed when we give of ourselves. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment, the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus points us directionally, focusing our attention and our natural inclination towards God and others.
When we love our neighbors as ourselves, what you see take place is change. Change not only in those whom we intentionally invest our time in, but in ourselves as well. The influence you have can never be overstated. Change always takes place one person at a time.
Who do you know to invest in? Where you invest, that is where you will see a return. Change starts with one!


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