Payh Blog
Dangerous Bridge
Mar 27, 2014

What Me Worry

“As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and washed them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:38-39


Believe it or not, MAD MAGAZINE has been around now for more than 60 years; mostly known for its portrayal of up-to-date pop culture and its infamous cover displaying the missing-tooth, goofy-grin of fictional character Alfred E. Neuman, whose life motto is, “What me worry!  Any thoughtful analysis of this philosophy of life integrated with perceptive observation of most of the human race reveals people actually DO worry; just not about the right thing. Take for example the devastating mud slide in Oso, Washington where a whole hillside recently collapsed. Homes were destroyed in seconds, 24 (and rapidly climbing) are dead, and as many as 176 are still missing; presumed dead. The people who lived here had been warned in previous studies in 1999 and as recently as 2010 that they were at risk of death from a catastrophic slide by staying put. We can be sure these people worried about many things; whether about money, relationships, jobs, or who would win the next “American Idol; just not about a deadly collapse of the hillside where they lived and slept.  You have to wonder about the people who rebuild homes directly on the San Andreas Fault; or choose to live on islands like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean whose average height above sea level is 4 feet, and highest elevation 7 feet; surrounded by an ocean known for tsunamis and typhoons.
But is this any different than those who risk the dangers of overdosing or destroying theirs and others’ lives as they “dabble with potentially lethal substance addictions despite numerous warnings and multiplied evidence that their proclivities are for all practical purposes suicidal? Much of civilized society lives in a pop culture bubble; and despite universal claims of being intellectually aware and sufficiently educated living in the “tech age, still display abundant evidence of intellectual incuriosity; that is, no interest and no study of the very issues which matter most to their eternal future and to a purposeful, meaningful, and satisfying life. There is little if any curiosity of spiritual truths. The psyche in the young men who come to the PAYH reflects a spiritual malaise and lack of curiosity in the very elements which can most change their life positively and permanently. In this they mirror the society from which they come.
What causes this? What is it that is missing in this world’s thinking which leads the culture down the path of “anomie; that is, a condition in which society provides little if any moral guidance to individuals? The Scriptures continually point to one critical missing ingredient which permeates human society from beginning to present: real awareness of sin!  Not only awareness of sin in general (many may agree with this in one form or another depending on what sin is to them), but awareness of the great gravity of sin (too few see sin as a devastatingly serious matter). And not only awareness of the great gravity of sin generally, but the awareness of the great gravity of sin personally! There isn’t anyone who is exempt. (“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and “All we like sheep have gone astray, is how the Bible describes us) If you do not see sin as God sees sin, as sin actually is, you do not see the cross of Christ in true perspective; consequently, you will not value the message of the cross in the way which will radically transform your life, witnessed in personal behavior; a behavior which mirrors this description by Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me, will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)
If in your estimation and experience sin is not overwhelmingly crushing, then the grace and mercy of God in Christ in sending him to the cross for your sin is not costly; and if it is not costly to you, it is not personally valued above all else; at least not so that it will unalterably transform your life. Even among many professing Christians there is insufficient knowledge of the message of the cross and what Jesus as the God-man accomplished there. Consequently, the number of true disciples today is not what it could be in making a radical difference in our world, rivaling first century disciples of Jesus. No wonder Jesus prophesied of this age, “When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?
“Taking up your cross daily as a mark of a true disciple means wrestling with sin daily, putting a stake in the heart of your sin daily, denying yourself daily. It is not a “once and done event; it is the life style of the disciple of Jesus. Not unlike the game “Whac-a-Mole, sin is always popping up its ugly head everywhere, yet the disciple of Jesus is fully capable in His strength to persevere in self-denial. This strength comes from what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you personally. If you would be His disciple you will know what He did for you and put it to use!


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Autumn Rainbow
Mar 20, 2014

Beyond the Ark, the Flood, and the Rainbow

“Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. Genesis 9:15-16
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18


The newest Hollywood take on the message of the Bible is about to be released. You can’t miss the zillion commercials telling us so. The newest Noah film may help you visualize the enormous task of building a huge floating “boat to accomplish God’s purpose of saving life on the earth, and dramatize the horror of those who are drowned by tsunami like waves, because of the most modern film technology, but it will not give you the purposeful story as told by the Holy Spirit through Moses. It will give you an agnostic’s take on a grand story which he hopes will sell millions, to include Christians whom he has tried hard to entice into the theatre, just beyond the ticket booth. He is not in the least interested in proclaiming God’s message of judgment on what God describes as a society which succumbed to the great wickedness of their hearts, whose EVERY inclination, every thought, was evil ALL the time. (Genesis 6: 5) It must have been horrific to live in that period of time. Yet it was not unlike today, or what “today is fast becoming, which will only get worse as the time of Jesus’ return draws near.
The sinful society was so absolutely saturated with stench that the flood was not unlike a world-sized bath intended to wash the putridness from the surface of a world created before in nearly infinite beauty; that is, except for the human creature who sought to ruin its very beauty soon after enjoying it. The director’s concept in this film, that of environmental destructiveness which needed a just executioner, i.e. a world-wide flood, to rid the earth of its poisonous destroyers, must cause environmentalists to stand up and cheer their demise wishing somehow that Noah and his family, after saving the animals of course, had perished as well. That would have brought one of the species of the created world into total extinction. However, the true story, the facts of the Genesis account, exposes the element of creation which truly needs saving; for the seeds of ruin and destruction rest not in the animals, nor in the beauty of the earth (though the whole earth groans because of man’s sin), but in the humans who live here, with the commensurate command to be stewards of their “home, in the image of the One who made it.
Unfortunately, for some environmentalists’ and their world-view (I believe we all are commanded to be true environmentalists concerned about the entire creation including the environment of the human creature’s heart) God created the world for the ones he made to steward it, humankind. His salvific intent is focused on those who were created in His image. Without man there is no need for a world filled with animals, flowers, mountains, lakes and trees. If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?  Based on scientific principles, yes; but does it really matter? God hears it, sees it, but has expressed in no uncertain terms, He wants to share it with those He placed here.
Which brings us to what is beyond the ark, the flood, and the rainbow: the cross! Just as the rainbow is the sign God gave as a covenant between Himself and the earth, never to destroy it again with a flood, the cross and its message is the sign of God’s covenant in which He has provided a way of salvation for humankind, for those to whom the message of the cross is NOT foolishness. But, for those who hate or ignore (“hate is synonymous with “ignore) the cross and its message, these will perish just like those whom the flood swept away in the days of Noah. (Matthew 24:38f) The story of Noah, the ark, and the flood is a harbinger of what is coming when Jesus returns. He says it quite clearly in Matthew 24 and 25 and throughout the Bible.
The rainbow reminds you of God’s promise and has for millenniums. It reminds you that He is still in charge of His earth and that He always keeps His promises. You saw a rainbow not too long ago, didn’t you? The cross, whether on a church steeple, hanging around your neck, on the wall of your home, everywhere you look in most of the cultures on earth, reminds you of a message which is your salvation. The cross reminds you of your sin. It reminds you of the only way your sin may be blotted out. It reminds you of God’s way for your forgiveness and THE way for your salvation. The season of Lent culminates with the image of the cross with a Savior hanging on it on a hill called Golgotha on what is now known as Good Friday; and the cross points to the bursting of the bonds of death and an empty tomb on Easter Sunday.
During Lent and always whenever you see the cross remember this: your sin, God’s grace, and Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life! Do not just let the image of the cross fly by; think of what it means!


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Profile Of A Father And Son
Mar 19, 2014

Bridging Understanding Between The Generations

Is your child a member of “Generation Z, and if so what difference does it make to me as a parent desiring to communicate to him or her?
Understanding what is “normal for the current “Generation Z” can be difficult for many parents who still view their children’s lives through the lens of their own generation. This temporal gap in perspective can further complicate interpreting what behaviors are and aren’t appropriate for today’s teens. So how can parents know when to establish moral boundaries and where to release their children to embrace the behavioral strengths of their generation? A good start is to observe the unique behavioral strengths and weaknesses present in the current generations of both parents and teens.
Most parents of today’s teens were born in the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, which makes them members of “Generation X.” This generation values acknowledging others, showing respect, and being friendly and warm through face to face interactions. They also value history and knowledge with a desire for others to gain from what they know. These normal behaviors held by Generation X are extremely valuable and need to be imparted to today’s youth. As parents, we have a responsibility to impart the good we have learned to our children by creating a normal culture within our own homes.
Along with the good, Generation X also carries some negative normal traits, which should not be passed on. William J. Schroer refers to current parents of teens “as the ‘lost’ generation,” due to an over “exposure of daycare and divorce.” These factors have caused “X’ers” to be classified as being skeptical of change. Some parents view change as instability. So understandably, many parents have a difficult time raising children who live in a generation that thrives off of change. Teen’s today value change, which presents parents with the complicated task of deciding which behavioral changes are beneficial and which changes need to be corrected and redirected.
Many people have accused the current population of teens as being self-reliant, mistrusting, cynical and lazy, on top of having a skewed vision of sex. But what if instead of simply labeling the negative behavior norms of our teens, we began to understand the driving forces behind these characteristics in order to more effectively guide and instruct our children?
The youth of Generation Z do not like to be micromanaged. Their tendency to be self-reliant stems from a desire to think independently and creatively while exploring life. Instead of tightening the leash on our children when they begin testing their limits, we can run alongside of them to be there for encouragement and direction. Instead of growing frustrated with raising a “lazy” generation, we can find out what inspires and motivates our children to uncover the things for which they will work hard for. Instead of being disappointed with this generation’s unhealthy appetite for sexual entertainment, we can more intently monitor and guard our children from a society that overtly exposes them to sexual advertisements from a very early age.
Building a healthy idea of what is normal can become a team effort between parents and their children. Sharing the knowledge we have learned from past experiences with our children is very important, but it is also important to remember we are raising our children in an environment that differs greatly from that in which we grew up in. As our children are immersed in a culture that changes rapidly, we too have to shift and alter our parenting styles to effectively teach and communicate to our children in the new environment of their generation.
While attempting to communicate across generational gaps by establishing a new “normal” in your own household, it is important to remember at least fifty percent of good communication comes from being a good listener. Listening takes more time which we are not often willing to give, but being a good parent will always take more time than we think we have. If you are a parent you can find the time if you see the importance. It pays real dividends down the road. Today’s generation has been raised under the heavy influence of social media. One of the prevailing reasons for the massive success of social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is the ability of teens to have their thoughts and opinions openly heard.  While this idea may intimidate parents who grew up in a generation without cell phones or the internet, the widespread use of social media communication seen in today’s generation has made them more open to communicating even at the risk of confrontation.
When sharing opinions and thoughts with your children, some conversations might not always be calm and easy going, and that is not always a bad thing. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The important thing to remember is that as parents, if our first reaction of what we say or feel towards our children doesn’t come from a place of love, then we should re-evaluate what we are trying to communicate with them. Communicating love even in the most intense moments of building the new normal in our own homes will be the strongest key to bridging the generational gap between us and our children.


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Father,Son and Grandfather Fishing
Mar 18, 2014

Guide To The Generations

 

Generation X (X’ers): the generation born after that of the baby boomers (roughly from the early 1960’s to mid-1970’s); generally tend to be individualistic, technologically adept, flexible, and value balancing work with life.
Generation Y: the generation born in the 1980’s and early 1990’s; generally tend to be tech-savvy, family-centric, achievement-oriented, team oriented and attention-craving.
Generation Z: the generation born in the late 1990’s to the present day; generally tend not to be team players, self-directed, receptive to information and change, intelligent and ambitious.

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Holding The Earth
Mar 13, 2014

The One Who Sees Me and a Missing Jetliner

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ Genesis 16:13


Missing! How do you lose a huge jetliner carrying 239 men, women, and small children in this day and age? With today’s modern technology you can pinpoint any person with a smart phone within two meters. Satellite eyes with high resolution cover the earth capturing nearly constant information. Jetliners are built with a system (ACARS) which automatically sends data on their location and performance in the air, even sending it to the manufacturers of the plane’s engines. Radar tracks large things that fly in the air. Transponders send data from planes as they fly from one point to another. In this case, they were either turned off manually by someone on the plane, or they were destroyed in some cataclysm. At the last agreed upon location of the plane when contact was lost over the Gulf of Thailand the water is so shallow that this plane standing on its tail would stick up far above the surface of the sea. In contrast the Air France Jetliner flying from Brazil to France several years ago crashed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean sinking to the bottom in an undersea mountain range 3900 meters beneath the surface, rather than the average 45 meters in the Gulf of Thailand. Still the Air France crash site was located within two days. We are now at six days in the mysterious disappearance of MH370. No one appears to know yet the location of the plane or its passengers and crew despite 12 countries, 42 ships and 39 aircraft looking constantly for anything related to it.
Someone, however, already knows what happened to Flight MH370. The Bible says God knows everything going on upon the earth. He sees everything, the Scripture declares; even the thoughts and intents of every person’s heart. Absolutely nothing can be hidden from His sight. The entire earth is fully exposed to His observation. Many millenniums ago a woman named Hagar called Him, “the God who sees me. She named the well in the dessert which sustained her life when she fled from Sarah and from Abraham’s household, “Beer Lahai Roi: “well of the Living One who sees me. Nothing, in all the millenniums since, does one iota to change this truth about the One True God; He sees you.
There can be no better theme for your heart and mind in this forty day Season of Lent than to immerse your thought upon grasping and accepting an understanding of God as “the One who sees me; and more fully appreciating what this truth means in your life and relationship with Him. If God sees me, always sees me, and if God knows my heart and the intents of my heart, how ought I to live? How should I consider my sin in light of God’s seeing it? What does earnestly seeking an effective solution for my sin entail? Sin is ruinous to everyone without exception; the guilt of sin can exact such a toll that nothing apart from God’s revealed medicine will assuage the massive weight and pain it brings.
Many, far too many, are apparently dull to the knowledge of personal sin, living and acting with numb consciences; but dullness or numbness does not remove the reality of it. It is still there. The overwhelming shock and cannot-bear-it state comes when the blinders are removed and your undeniable condition is no longer masked by any addicting substance or contrived illusion. (Read Psalm 73) All pain relief eventually wears off and then nothing works, even death.
As you can assume, the truth that God sees me can either be ignored, feared, irritating, or taken to heart as an enormous comfort and an all-encompassing protection. If knowing and living the truth of His eye always upon you sends you fleeing to Christ for sin’s medicine, it’s a good thing. If it keeps you from more sin, it’s a good thing. If it focuses your priorities in life, it’s a good thing. If it shapes your view of the world, it’s a good thing. But if you do not believe God sees you, or your knowledge of who God really is is defective, if you do not see as you look back at Him the mercy and love He has for all those who love His Son, it is no comfort at all.  This Lenten Season come to love this name of God: “the One who sees me. Loving this will bring you to bask in its comfort.


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Young Athlete Standing on Top of a Mountain with Bicycle
Mar 06, 2014

What Good Is Lent?

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit…You my brothers were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love. Galatians 5:24-25, 13


There have been many life lessons learned from athletic endeavors. One does not have to have great athletic skills to discover this truth. You only have to be human. “Athletic endeavors need only be walking; but walking with regularity and discipline over a period of time. One of my seminary professors had a serious heart attack in his 60’s. He lived about five miles from the seminary campus. He began to walk faithfully to and from his office and classroom every day, sunshine or rain, snow or cold, month in and month out. People driving along the road who did not even know him at first would stop to try to give him a ride, especially in foul weather, which he always kindly refused. He lived into his 90’s, taught many more seminary students, and set an example for myriad other fellow Christians. Knowing him, I perceived his time walking was not wasted thinking about nothing.  Valuable time with the Lord was experienced as he walked, in prayer, thought, and meditation, which very probably would not have been accomplished riding or driving in a car, such distance taking mere motorized minutes. Training and running competitive races, persevering in driving your body to compete as an individual or in a team sport, win or lose; so much is learned about yourself and life experiencing winning and losing, persevering and enduring, falling and getting up.
Our young men at the home participate in a 500-600 mile bike ride annually, something they have never done before coming to the PAYH. The achievement makes its mark in their character. A few years ago the ride was 1500 miles to commemorate Paul Anderson doing it on an ordinary one speed bike in 1961 to publicly announce the birth of the PAYH. When he was bed-ridden many years later because of kidney disease and severe genetic arthritis, he would still attempt to do as many crunches in bed as he could do into the multiple hundreds per day. His whole life was reflective of disciplined and intense physical and spiritual exercise.
Lent is a physical and spiritual exercise reflecting the physical and spiritual nature of our being. It is an exercise which can be practiced throughout the year or with more intensive focus in this season before Easter. Lent is a period of time in the church year which some acknowledge and practice variously and some ignore. It has been practiced for centuries in the church and begins for those who desire on Ash Wednesday continuing for forty-six days until Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. The six Sundays in those six weeks are not counted as days of Lent, leaving forty days. Why forty? They are reflective of the forty days our Lord spent in the desert after his baptism tempted by the devil, and winning that contest (a battle of infinite proportion). All for you! The rain bringing about the great Noahic Flood continued unabated for forty days. Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. Moses spent 40 days on the mount with God when he received the Ten Commandments. If you study God’s use of the number forty in the Bible you will see it is not an insignificant number in God’s economy, even if we do not know why. But this is exactly why the church, centuries ago, chose forty days within each year, a year in which the Christian is reminded of the key events in the Lord’s life and work for our salvation. The forty days of Lent is intended as a time of reflection on your sin and meaningful moments of repentance encompassing the time of the Lord’s death on Good Friday and culminating in his victory over death itself on the first Easter Sunday.
Of course it is not necessary for the believer to acknowledge and practice Lent, any more than it is necessary to acknowledge Pentecost Sunday or Advent/Christmas season (which every Christian actually does in one way or another). It is not necessary, but is it beneficial in your walk with the Lord? Is a consistent time of reflection on your sin and experiencing a penitent heart an essential ingredient of a believer’s genuine walk in the Spirit? A cursory reading of the Bible would answer this question with “Absolutely! How can you escape the Lord’s own words in this regard? The spiritual exercise which characterizes Lent can be a weekly practice if one so chooses for a day or two culminating with the joy of worship every resurrection Sunday, which every Sunday is. After all, coming to Jesus for confession and forgiveness of sin is continuously breathing the Christian life (1 John 1:9).
Christian, whatever you seek to do in consistently putting to death the sins of your sinful nature and clothing yourself with the righteousness of Christ, your Savior, do not trivialize the practice of Lent which even some of those who acknowledge it do. Whatever, your tradition has or has not been, you must be engaged in the sanctifying practice of crucifying your sinful nature, purposefully and truly, or you do not belong to Jesus. Not I, but the Lord, commands it.  Are you engaged in the spiritual and physical exercise of Lent even if you do so in June or August or January? If you belong to Christ you must be about it sometime. Your pursuit of this with discipline and perseverance is not unlike your athletic endeavors, only it is infinitely more important and infinitely more rewarding. What you gain is not necessarily a healthy body, which will grow old and die, but you gain a healthy soul; you gain Jesus himself!


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