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Sep 29, 2015

Atlanta Journal Constitution Features Drew Read, PAYH

Atlanta Journal Constitution
Atlanta Journal Constitution

How to limit time children spend on tech devices


As the weather gets cools, children and teens tend to spend more time indoors, and that often means for time glued to a computer, iPad and other tech devices.
A 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that youth ages 8 to 18 devote seven-and-a-half hours a day to entertainment media. Less than half of the kids surveyed said their parents have rules about the shows and games they can watch or play.
Drew Read, director of the Paul Anderson Youth Home, offers the following advice on how parents can help their children understand and respect a healthy appreciation of electronics:
1.      Turn off the computer at night for at least one hour as well as making sure all technology (including Ipads and iPhones are put away at least one hour every night)

2.      Recognize that people often use technology to fill a relational void. The virtual world is appealing due to its unlimited capacity for friendship, attention, and a feeling of personal significance. It is a parent’s job to provide children with enough love and support that they do not go seeking those things elsewhere. Parents should try to schedule time each day to interact with their children–over a family dinner, a family game night, an evening walk, or any activity that provides an opportunity for interaction and two-way communication.
3.      As new sites are created, anticipate that they will gravitate towards the risqué and lewd.
4.      Be aware that early-formed computer habits often become behaviors that challenge parents as children grow older. Parents need to be aware and notice if children begin developing new behaviors, like becoming irrationally upset when they are not allowed on the computer.  A good way to assess such behaviors is to limit computer and tablet usage to a central location where children feel a sense of supervision.  If your child has a problem with this rule, it might be a sign that he or she is engaging in online activities that you might not allow.
5.      Install web filtering/tracking services on each computer.
6.      Learn how to interact online and use technology as another way to communicate with your child.  A lot of parents do not realize that technology is actually one of the easiest ways to communicate with their children, and it will make them seem more relevant in the eyes of their kids. Fighting technology is a losing battle.  We will never again live in a technology-free world, so it is important to adapt and learn the technology that your children are using.  After all, how can you expect to monitor something you do not understand?
7.      Set boundaries and enforce those standards by monitoring what your children are doing.  Set time limits on technology use and stick to them.  You do not have to hover over your children’s shoulders every time they use technology, but make sure to instill a sense of supervision.
8.      Make sure you know all of your children’s passwords, and do not allow them to share these passwords with friends.
9.      Check up on their online history and communication.  If history and/or cookies are deleted, then discover why.  This is a great way to establish a transparent relationship with your children, which is more important now than ever due to the innumerable risks of today’s world.
10.   Inform your children about real examples of predators on the web.
Be wise about what your children may think constitutes “their privacy and your responsibility as a parent to protect, nurture, admonish, and guide them.  You are not protecting them by not checking up on them. Every parent believes that their child wouldn’t do these things, yet the vast percentage of teenagers is interacting socially and virtually in ways that their parents are unaware of.
Drew Read, COO of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga., frequently speaks and writes on the topics of identity, technology, culture and high-risk behaviors affecting today’s youth. Learn more about the services PAYH provides and its familySTRONG resources at http://payh.org

View original article here.


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Sep 29, 2015

Just Laugh and See What Happens

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.  Woody Allen


Laugh out loud for a moment.  It seems kind of silly to do, but try the simple exercise of making yourself laugh and note what changes.  Your whole face does, as well as your perspective.  Having a sense of humor about things always changes our outlook and level of stress. Mark Twain said that “the human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
Our outlook on life impacts our physical, mental, and behavioral health.  When we choose to laugh, it doesn’t change the circumstances going on around us; it simply changes how we look at them.  Laughter is being used as a form of therapy to help with depression and even PTSD.  How can that be?  Because when we laugh, it breaks things down.  It crosses any social hierarchy or cultural diversity.  It changes how we think, our conversations, and our interactions.
Scripture says that a cheerful heart is good medicine and “a happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:13). The words “cheerful and “joyful are used interchangeably at times, as they both refer to an individual being noticeably happy and causing great pleasure and delight.  We all know people who are filled with joy and cheer.  For me, their unbridled optimism can even at times seem too much.  However, I far prefer their presence over someone who is always downcast and critical.  Why?  Because criticism feeds a cycle of negativity, while laughter and optimism breaks that cycle.  Heartache crushes the spirit.
Heartache isn’t something that is always easy to heal from or overcome, especially when it begins within your home.  When so many of us are in pain, individuals, families, and communities are all affected by these rifts and unhealthy behaviors.  All of us deal with crisis, heartache, loss, sickness, and depression at points in our life.  50% of us will develop a behavioral health issue in our lifetime.  217 million days of work are missed annually because of our mental health, and this year alone, over $1.5 trillion will be spent on behavioral health issues.
None of us are immune to pain and heartache.  None of those moments are easy to go through alone.  When there is pain, unhealthy decisions and behaviors often follow.  Our outlook is influenced by those circumstances.
Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  This from a man who was interned during WWII in various concentration camps, lost his mother, brother, and wife, and somehow survived.  In surviving the worst of man’s actions, Frankl recognized that meaning can be found even in such circumstances.
As a ministry of helpers and servants, we see the need every day with those who call in and those we serve.  Our encouragement to them and you is that it can and does get better.  And sometimes, you just need to laugh.  Not because it changes the circumstances, but because it changes our perspective.


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Sep 24, 2015

Is Your Life Significant?

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15


My father passed away thirty minutes into last Monday. He was 98 by 11 days. Many, many people wrote me about the impact he made on their lives. We know he influenced many lives for good over nearly a century of life. However, he was still not known by most of the world. Many of you who read SFTD never knew him personally. Many more people that you and I do not know will die today around the world. Their death will not impact you or me because we did not know them. But someone does, and someone will probably grieve. Of course there are instances where people die, and their body is sent to a morgue to be buried in a “pauper’s grave” where no one claims them or searches for them. But I would say that those instances are relatively few.
Is every human life dear to someone? Yes and no. There are the lives mentioned above where no one claimed them in death or had any idea where to search. There are the hundreds of millions who never saw the light of day outside the womb. They were killed by their mothers with the help of others. So again I ask, is every human life dear to someone? Or should I ask, is every human life known by someone? Is there one who can tell you about every human life that existed on the earth since the dawn of time? Or is human life purely mechanistic, like every plant or insect or animal? Here today, gone tomorrow, who cares? Well, when it is YOUR life, you care! You do not consider your life to be that of a petunia’s or an ant’s life. You view your life as more important than a flower or an insect. You even consider your life to be more important than a child dying of malnutrition or starvation on the far side of the globe. You are concerned about your own self-preservation, and you hope there are others concerned about your life and its value as well; else what is your reason for being?
If human life were truly so mechanistic, we would not have the thoughts we have; there would not be the sentiment or emotions we personally experience. We would not be concerned about self-preservation. We might not care when someone we do not know dies. We are concerned with our own death and the deaths of those we love. We all would like to see those we love again. The Bible claims that the death of the saints is precious in God’s sight. Does that mean the death of a non-saint is not precious to God? Just who are the saints? If you are concerned about whether you are or are not a saint, a study of the Bible will give you the answer. Saints are those who have been “set apart” by God because they believe in His Son and follow Him. The Bible describes them as being covered by the righteousness of Jesus. There are Old Testament era saints who trust in the promised and coming “Christ,” which is the same as “Messiah.” Adrian Rogers used to say, “There are only two types of people in the world: the saints and the ain’ts.” That is true. God knows who is in each camp; it is His conclusive knowledge alone.
Precious in His sight is the death of His saints, and known by God is the life of every person who existed in history. You are significant because God created you in His image, and He knows all, for He created them. You don’t, but He does. Every life has significance; every life is in His sight. That is where the meaning of your life rests. It is God with whom you have to do, whether you acknowledge Him or not. You still have to deal with Him because it is to Him you are accountable. Do not concern yourself with the severely disabled (a question skeptics love to raise); they are in God’s hands. Concern yourself with yourself and your own accountability. Concern yourself with others, even those you do not know. You may not help them with your own hands, but you can pray for those you do not even know. What is the value of your prayers for others? It tells you and God that you care about more than yourself and you are aware that others besides you are suffering; your prayers tell God you love others and you are at His side in being a prayer warrior. Become one who is precious to God. Exercise your faith.
My dad is in the presence of Jesus and the saints who have preceded him. My wife, Glenda, asked him soon before he died what he saw himself doing when he got to heaven; he said, “I’m going to work.” He couldn’t do work in a nursing home. He believed he was going to do again what he always enjoyed doing in this life: work.


“The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks, the summer morn I’ve sighed for, the fair sweet morn awakes; dark, dark hath been the midnight, but day spring is at hand, and glory, glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land.”
(1st verse of Samuel Rutherford’s hymn, “The Sands of Time Are Sinking”, 1600-1661)


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Sep 17, 2015

Split-Second, Here to There

“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43


Have you witnessed many pass from this life to the next? As a war veteran and pastor, this has been a bigger part of my life than I would have thought as a child or teenager. Even when someone is lingering near death’s door for a time, the actual transition from life to death and beyond is but a split second. On the battlefield it is the instantaneous strike of a fatal bullet or the flash explosion of a mortar or grenade. In normal life it is the lightning quickness of two cars colliding at high speed, or a fast traveling car hitting a pedestrian or a bike rider, or a slip and fatal fall from a high place or cliff, or a massive heart attack striking when never expected, or vital organs shutting down from disease. The actual transition from breathing to not is but a twinkling of the eye. There is no time, then, to pause and say, “Let me think about this. The time to think about it is long before the split-second, when you can still change the destination beyond that lightning moment.
For so many people, the split-second transition from life to death is a complete unknown. Even those who are “pretty sure that it is a transition from life to annihilation, or those who assume it will all pan out anyway; they do not have an inkling of total confidence, down deep, beyond all the bluster of what really happens after that split-second passes, and they are really “in the beyond. It is truly strange that there is a lazy nonchalance about that split-second of the last breath by those who have no clue what takes place next. Many live their lives in such fantasy, unconcerned; this is called spiritual blindness. Others have momentary fears but don’t know what to do about them and really do not seek answers which provide genuine peace.
Death can be very sudden and totally unexpected. A number of recent graduates of the PAYH were killed unexpectedly and instantaneously. There was no time to reminisce about spiritual things; they were either prepared or not. Knowledge of such true occurrences ought to be sobering and lead to serious preparation for that second of death. Death can remove you from this life without any foreknowledge that this is your last second. That is what the Bible means when it exclaims, “Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Not tomorrow, not next year, or in five years. The strong implication here is to act now; there may not be a tomorrow. Assurance of your destination after the split-second is not something with which to be nonchalant. The reason you are even thinking about it now is a prompting by the Spirit of God to get serious and act. Too much shrugging off of the Spirit’s numerous promptings leads to a calloused, spiritually insensitive heart which will never act (Genesis 6:3).  The harder you get, the more you remove yourself from the opportunity of saving faith. Faith is a gift from God, but your insistent and continuous rebellion will sear your conscience to any future spiritual sensitivity.
We just had a conversation at a restaurant with an acquaintance who is in a deep valley of many horrible circumstances in her life. We asked her where she was with God. With tears in her eyes, she said she wasn’t. Horrible circumstances in your life are actually a loving providence of God to come to Him; Jesus said, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden [with the circumstances in your life] and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). It is not “Run from Me, as this woman was doing, but rather “Come to Me.
A split-second is all it takes to go from this life to the next, and it is truly something you can prepare for now. Live your life with a split-second mentality, that is, constantly keeping Jesus before your face (Hebrews 12); you can do that and continue in your responsibilities, conversations, whatever. Then, when the split-second comes, your transition will be smooth as glass and not a horror. You see Him by faith now, then, in a split-second, you see Him face-to-face. If you are not ready, do something about it – now.


“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
(4th verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain, 1738)


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Sep 10, 2015

Critiquing Your Faithfulness to God's Call

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” 1 Corinthians 7:17


The diversity of vocations and occupations in the community of believers is huge – almost as big as the global community’s. You or your family are involved in some vocation today from which you draw your living. You, of course, have a calling/vocation as a father or mother, a husband or wife, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a friend.  But you are also either an artist, musician, carpenter, builder, doctor, teacher, cook, or one or two of what have you. God called believers to salvation; walk worthy of it. He also placed you in a work environment of some type according to your gifts and His personal choosing; walk worthy of this as well. According to this text and other texts throughout the Bible, God is not random in His assignments. You are where you are by divine purpose. You may not think you are in the work which best utilizes your gifts; in some cases, you may even view it as nothing more than a paycheck. But every honorable profession by God’s estimate gives you an opportunity to glorify Him in your faithfulness to doing well where He has placed you. How do you critique your faithfulness to the calling which God has assigned to you?
Fifty-two years ago, a boy of thirteen walked onto the PAYH campus where God had called him, and he never left. At the time, he had no idea this was God’s calling for his whole life. My wife, Glenda, witnessed all fifty-two years to today of this calling on Eddie Burris’ life. Raised by his grandparents until he was thirteen, when their age and health made them unable to continue, Eddie in the true sense of the word came “home” when he arrived at the Youth Home that Paul and Glenda Anderson established in 1961. Never knowing his mother and having a father who was never in his life, Eddie found a family in the community, the staff, and the boys of the PAYH. Paul became his beloved mentor and father, Glenda his mother, the boys his brothers, and the few girls his sisters.
The Paul Anderson Youth Home released a video last week about Eddie Burris’ ministry to young men over the last fifty-two years. It is well worth your time to view it on our web site. What does commitment and faithfulness to God’s call in his life have to say about a man? It is not just that Eddie accepted God’s call on his life many decades ago and stuck with it, for many people have done that; it is the personal testimony from hundreds of young men who affirm Eddie’s impact for good on their lives, a mentorship that continued long beyond their time at the PAYH.
A critique can be made on your calling by the impact of your example and words on the lives of those around you. Glorifying God in the manner in which you perform your work, being thankful for where God has assigned you, impacting for eternity the lives of your neighbors where you work and where you live, and rearing children to follow in your footsteps of honoring God makes up your critique. Acknowledge His call, persevere in it as long as He keeps you in it, be thankful, watch for what God is doing in and through you, and praise Him. Eddie followed in Paul Anderson’s footsteps, trying to be for the hundreds of young men who God brought to the PAYH what Paul was to him. He watched, imitated, worked alongside Paul and Glenda, and eventually, as Paul’s health failed, helped Glenda with his care.
All this was not lost on the boys who lived here. This was not an 8:00-5:00 job. Eddie and his wife, Betty, lived on the campus, both employed by the Home; theirs was a 24/7 calling, doing everything that needed doing at all times, even rearing their children in their home on the grounds. As the Bible reflects the work ethic God calls us to, “Do not grow weary in well doing,” the work never abated as new boys came and others graduated and moved out into the world.
Even as you retire from your professional calling as aging restricts, the work in God’s kingdom continues in those areas where your heart and mind can still minister to others. Until you draw your last breath, you can still glorify God in the place He assigns you, wherever that may be. You still have a calling until He says, “Enough! Come home.” Eddie’s history and experience with all he has stored in his mind is of continual great value to this ministry to troubled young men and their families. He continues to do in the lives of these young men what he has done for half a century. Is your history and experience in your work in the kingdom of God useful for those who follow? In the recent movie War Room, the lead character continued into old age to look for younger warriors to pick up the baton in this “race of life,” teaching them the things she had learned in the trenches of spiritual warfare. She actively pursued those younger warriors.
Where did God have you assigned in what you considered the “prime” of your life? And what do you consider today to be in comparison to that time? Well, believe it or not, you are still in the prime of your life, even in your 80’s, even in a retirement home. Continue to walk worthy of your calling because today is still the prime of your life, whatever phase you are in. That is how God sees it, and it is how you ought to see it. Make the most of it as long as it is called “today,” for the night is coming when your work will cease.


“Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me; the changes that are sure to come, I do not fear to see. I ask thee for a present mind, intent on pleasing thee.
I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro, seeking for some great thing to do, or secret thing to know; I would be treated as a child, and guided where I go.
I ask thee for the daily strength, to none that asked denied, a mind to blend with outward life, while keeping at thy side; content to fill a little space, if thou be glorified.
In service which thy will appoints there are no bonds for me; my secret heart is taught the truth that makes thy children free; a life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty.”
(A hymn written by Anna Waring, 1850)


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Sep 08, 2015

The Impact of Eddie Burris


One way to measure the difference made in a life is to see how that difference translates into positive change in the lives of others. Our mission at the Paul Anderson Youth Home is to plant the seeds of God’s word into the lives of our young men and to disciple them in a growing relationship with Him. Our hope is they will share the good seeds planted in them with others, and the change they experienced with us will become a change that grows. Earlier this month, we shared with you part one of a two part video series telling the story of our very own Eddie Burris. The impact of the PAYH on Eddie’s life cannot be overstated. Now, we want to tell you the next chapter of Eddie’s story, how his life has become a catalyst for change in the lives of countless young men.
Eddie is one of the men that work with the boys in our program at Paul Anderson Youth Home.
Help us make change happen!
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and take the time to share his story…


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Sep 03, 2015

Amiable Agnostic?

“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Psalm 14:1


There is a dramatic and growing increase in the number of “nones” in the polls which seek to determine the religious demographics of America; that is, those who respond “none” to the question, “With what part of religion do you identify?” An increasing number of young men who come to the Paul Anderson Youth Home claim to identify with the “nones”; and even if they claim to be a part of something within the religious world, it becomes apparent they are really part of the “nones” when you see they really do not know what they believe about God. They are not normally ready to admit that he exists, nor can they, with any certainty, determine he doesn’t. Two words best describe the majority of young adults today with regard to God: agnostic and apathetic; words whose practical meanings are fairly interchangeable. An agnostic is normally apathetic about seriously finding out if God is. Being apathetic about finding the true meaning of life usually equates to being agnostic (just don’t know) when it comes to the existence and nature of God.
So what is an amiable agnostic? C.S. Lewis coined this phrase when he wrote, “Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about ‘man’s search for God.’ To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.” In an essay entitled “Man or Rabbit?” within his book God in the Dock, Lewis writes about the agnostics who would not earnestly search for God, fearing if they found him they wouldn’t like him, and their lives would have to change into something they didn’t want; no thought at all of the seriousness of this search placing their entire eternity in the balance.
The other aspect is that the amiable agnostic will cheerfully discuss his “search for God” because he is apathetic about this search, just one more thing among many which doesn’t rise to the level of being important. Most other things take precedence. No wonder God calls such “thinkers” fools in Psalm 14, for such contrived running from God is nothing other than purely foolish.
Being an amiable agnostic fits with this culture when the primary impetus is to have “fun” without any or too much “moral restriction.” But when fun in life turns to hurt and pain, agnosticism loses its satisfaction.  Suddenly, not being sure God exists stirs up some very incoherent thinking. There may be a crying out to this formerly, in their mind, nonexistent God, hoping now he exists to deliver them from this hurt and pain, or there may be an anger toward this once, to them, unknowable God who previously was apathetically ignored by them; self-righteous anger rises toward him for allowing hurt and pain in their life. Such anger, of course, fails to take into account their previous thoughts (or non-thoughts) and actions (or inactions) with regard to a maybe/maybe not God. Since we are quick to rely on our concept of fairness or justice, is it fair or just of God, in their view, for him to now be complacently apathetic about them and their situation considering their own previous apathy? Why should he now be required to jump to their aid? They now want God to lay aside fairness and justice, ignore the past agnosticism and apathy, and deliver them from whatever pit they seem unable to get out of on their own.
Amazingly, this God is just such a God: gracious. This God whom you previously avoided knowing will come to your help under the same conditions he always offered you: repenting of sin and believing that he exists and that he provides a way for you to come to him. He promises reward for all who earnestly seek him, even, especially, after ignoring him. You yourself know when your seeking is earnest; it depends on how much you really want him in your life, as well as recognizing your need.
How long will you remain an amiable agnostic? Or, in some cases, an angry atheist? Examine how coherent or consistent your thinking about God is in every circumstance of life. The truth of life and the universe is not incoherent. Science cannot be performed if the universe is incoherent. Its consistency and coherency allows scientific research and productive observation of it. It was logically planned. We learn what logic is by observing the universe. It does not display contradictory randomness. Neither should your search for and observation of the marks of its Maker. “For what can be known about God is plain to them [all people]. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
But the real obstacle in your search is not a lack of all knowledge of God so much as it is your apathy to him. Your apathy must be removed by your faith manifested in believing the conclusion that your personal nearness to God is preeminently important. The stakes of knowing him? Eternity.


“O, Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the works thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art.”
(1st verse of hymn based on a Swedish traditional melody and poem written by Carl Gustav Boberg, 1885)


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Sep 02, 2015

Eddie Burris: A Son’s Example of Service


The history of the Paul Anderson Youth Home is rich with amazing people who have given much. It is a wealth of success stories of boys who came to us broken and in need but went on to become assets to their communities, fathers and husbands, successful businessmen, and trusted leaders. At PAYH, we love to celebrate those successes.
As we consider the amazing list of alumni and staff who have helped shape who we are in significant ways, one name shines above most others: Eddie Burris.
Eddie came to the PAYH as a thirteen-year-old in 1964 and has been a major part of our family ever since. He became a staff member in 1971 and has always been a son to both Paul and Glenda. It is evident in every way he lives that the impact of the PAYH on his life is immeasurable.
Rarely in life do we get to see just how much what we do impacts others. With Eddie, however, the PAYH gets to see on a daily basis how the change formed in him as a boy in our program continues to reach beyond him and his family to impact countless others. We would love to share Eddie’s story with you. This video is the first part of a two part series that celebrates the incredible gift God gave us in the form of a thirteen-year-old, red haired boy back in the early 1960’s and the living legacy he has become.
Eddie is one of the men that work with the boys in our program at Paul Anderson Youth Home.
Help us make change happen!
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and take the time to share his story…


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