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Jan 28, 2016

Fertile Soil in the Heart

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for awhile, and when persecution or tribulation arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it becomes unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23


It is so very obvious that the message of the gospel finds a varied hearing among all the men and women and young people of the world. Some do not acknowledge it at all, even though they hear the good news, but turn a deaf ear to it; maybe even mock. Others receive it with enthusiasm and joy, but it doesn’t take root and dwindles away through lack of persistence. Then others give ear, find it worthwhile, but the concerns of their life take precedence over what is infinitely more important, and they shrug it off. One group hears it, and takes it genuinely to heart. They recognize it as truth to be treasured above the other cares of this world. It takes root in fertile heart soil. It transforms them. They are no longer their own. They submit to the Lord of their life and realize they are truly free men and women as they give their life to Him. Varied responses, which bear the scrutiny of observation and experience, but only one that results in saving faith, bringing with it the reward of lasting and eternal salvation.
It is a certainty that all men and women, and young people, who live, hear the gospel message in one form or another, at one time or at many times; it is either spoken or read to them, or by the impression of the moral law of God on their conscience, written naturally on their heart. They have the opportunity to respond to it in pretty much four diverse ways which Jesus describes in telling the Parable of the Sower. The young men who God sends to the Paul Anderson Youth Home hear the gospel many times during their stay here. Not unlike the parable Jesus tells, they fall into one of four categories of audiences. It is always our hope and desire that what they hear takes root in them in a fertile heart which bears fruit to a hundred fold or more. That is not always the case. The other three categories are also at work within them, much to our sadness. But we are not discouraged to the point of moving on from them. As long as they are among us, we persevere to convince their hearts of the transformative wonder of seeing the word take root and producing the fruit of a changed life in the soil of their heart.
Looking at this parable from the receiving side – the side that is hearing the gospel, rolling it around in their mind, trying to decide if this is for them or not, or procrastinating to some later time, if later ever comes – is it really possible to do anything about transferring fertile soil into your heart, and eradicating it of rocky, thin, thorny soil which gives no room for roots to grow? Is the soil in your heart a given, predetermined sort that will never allow the seed of the gospel to take root in you? The response then is, “This isn’t for me. Why even bother?” Or can you, in your own mind and strength, determine, “Hey, I want to give this a fair chance; I want to see if this seed of the gospel can take root in me. What do I need to do to insure there is some fertile ground in my mind and heart to give this seed a fair chance to really grow and not wither away? What can I do, if anything?”
One, do not worry about what your peers, your friends, or your family will think. Get alone with your own thinking. After all, this is YOUR eternal life you are most concerned with, not someone else’s. Take time alone to think about what you have heard or been hearing. Give it a fair chance of serious consideration. Think about praying alone to God about giving you personal guidance. Be willing to privately ask questions you may have of a genuine Christian you know. Spend some time alone in your thoughts taking stock of the seriousness of the gospel message on all of your life and eternity. Read the Bible. Ask a Christian where to start. Think on what you read. Ask yourself, “How do I decide if this is true? And, is it true for me?” If you consistently blow off the gospel message as not for you, or not for you now, you are insuring rocky, hard, thorny soil remains in your mind and heart. Of course, nothing will ever take root, and you will be ever wondering, what did I pass up? That is, until you become a hardened skeptic and mocker of the God who is, and the Savior who saves. Then it becomes almost impossible to believe.
The very best time to consider the claims of God on your life is when you are young. If you do by chance procrastinate to an older age, one of two things will happen. You believe the gospel message from God, but regret the years you threw away. Two, you become too hardened to believe and squander any opportunity of eternal life. Consider what the Bible says about hearing the gospel, especially when you are young: “Today is the day of salvation!” Not tomorrow, or in ten or twenty years, but today. That is because you do not know what tomorrow may bring. You are not insured tomorrow will bring an opportunity to hear and receive what will determine your whole eternity.
Four responses, and three of them are bad, spoken from the mouth of the King of all creation. Transplant some fertile soil to your mind and heart. Take matters into your own hands. Do not allow the seed of the word to fall on a hard, indifferent heart. You can now do something about it. Tomorrow it may well be out of your hands. This parable of Jesus is not spoken frivolously or in error. It is spoken in truth and has ramifications for the entire world. Will you hear it, and do something about it while you can?


“Let not the world’s deceitful cares the rising plant destroy, but let it yield a hundredfold the fruits of peace and joy.”
(3rd verse of John Cawood’s hymn, “Almighty God, Thy Word is Cast,” 1819)


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Jan 21, 2016

Unity Demands Discernment

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Romans 16:17-20


Oneness in the body of Christ is difficult to attain, but it is the command from the Lord for every one of us. In John 17, the number one prayer request of Jesus to his Father is that his disciples and all his followers may be ONE, that they be united in mind and spirit, with him and with one another. The unity of believers was a primary purpose of Jesus, that they may be one in the same manner he is one with his Father and the Holy Spirit. Yet oneness seems very far removed from us. Why?
Dissension is one of the most un-Christ-like attributes in the body of Christ. When Paul writes in Philippians 2 that we are to imitate the mind of Christ, he means we are to acquire his humility. Do nothing, he says, from rivalry or conceit, but consider others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of the other person. I dare say, if we were more obedient to the Lord the dissensions and irritations among us would fall dramatically; we might even achieve real unity in the Spirit.
Paul goes on to write, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.” Too often believers joined together in ministries are not pulling together in one heart and purpose; they are not joyful in their work, and the cares and vicissitudes of this life burden them down, resulting in disintegration of the common purpose for which they are supposed to be laboring. Labor for the Lord will indeed be labor, but it is to be joyful labor.
Colossians adds to the description of believers and compatriots in ministry this instruction: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful!” These are not just a string of adjectives strung together in mindless repetition, and certainly not “expected to be attained in reality, are they? Yes, they are. They truly are a quality of personality and character desired by the Lord to be descriptive of you, his disciple, in the midst of this pilgrimage of life with others, some of whom you erroneously see not up to your speed or intellect. Your estimate of yourself and your estimate of others is far off the mark of Christ. There is a great need of repentance and radical change of perspective to move forward with the unity Christ envisions, yea, commands.
The fact that unity demands discernment is clear from our text, that is, to be wise as to what is good, and innocent as to what is evil. A follower of Christ will discern in advance what is most likely to spark division, to offend a fellow, to create sadness in the labor and not joy. Is it that we refrain from rebuke if rebuke is needed? No, but the rebuke is handled with compassion and kindness, not anger and demonstration, as though the one you are kindly rebuking is a loved brother or sister in Christ and not an enemy. A disciple of the Lord will discern both the best course of action to sustain peace, and the wisest course to avoid evil. Remaining innocent as to what is evil is to understand evil, by adhering to the Word of Life, and avoiding evil entirely. One who keeps close to the Spirit of God will have a wise concept of evil and never choose it as a course of behavior in dealing with brothers and sisters. There is always a better, righteous path to resolve differences than to use evil behavior to get to the solution, even if it is the right or best solution. Using holy discernment will always find the right path to a solution because it chooses the wise path to get there, one that does not trample on your brother.
If we are to enjoy the pleasures of unity we must use discernment constantly and consistently. We must put on the clothes of Christ’s personality and character, chiefly humility and love, wisely choosing to pursue his course. Discern what words and behavior are most imitative of how Jesus would pursue engagement with others. Unity, oneness, with fellow believers is paramount in the eyes of God, and there is always a right path to discern how to get there and sustain it. You ought to choose to follow such a path of relationship, even if others around are not. Who knows, your example may influence the whole!


“How beautiful the sight of brethren who agree in friendship to unite, and bonds of charity; ’tis like the precious ointment, shed o’er all his robes, from Aaron’s head.”
(From Psalm 133, James Montgomery, 1771-1854)


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Jan 20, 2016

The Balancing Act

“We are just so busy.  “We don’t have time.  “I just can’t balance it all.
Have you ever said anything that sounds like that?  Chances are we all have because we’re all trying to “do it all.  If you’re not there now, you probably have been or will be.  Our lives are busy.  It’s the culture we live in.  Whether you have kids or not, there is always something else to do and somewhere to be.  Let’s be honest: We are consumed with the idea that bigger is better, more is better, and faster is better.
As that lifestyle surrounds us, we adopt it and project it onto others.  This mindset is destroying us.  We are exhausted, spread too thin, yet the hamster wheel is still spinning, and we are gasping for breath.
There are many resources available that give us tips to find the balance.
(Get the visual here–you, in the middle of a see-saw, trying to keep it level, never allowing either side to dip lower than the other.  See it?)
The visual alone makes my heart rate increase, so of course, like many of you, I am willing to read every blog, book, or website that helps me keep up my balancing act.
All of this to say, you will not find that here.  Here we offer you transparency and honesty.
So here you go…

  1. The hamster wheel just keeps going unless you stop running and get off.
  2. There is no such thing as perfect balance in this life because we are not perfect.

Be still.  Stop trying to do everything you can to achieve perfection.  In Psalm 46, God tells us to be still.  He instructs us to rest in the fact that He is in control.  It is a simple instruction, clearly stated, yet every time I read it, I recall the anger I felt when Nike came out with the slogan “Just do it.  As humans, we have a difficult time imagining ourselves capable of being still, much less finding the time to do it.
Really, if it were so easy to “just do it wouldn’t everyone “do it?  But that’s the point—maybe a bad comparison, but same point.  One reason this slogan was so successful for Nike is because it was a simple, direct instruction yet required extreme self-discipline. Being still is against our natural grain.  It does not just happen, in fact, it is impossible if we are living in the flesh.
My encouragement for you and me is to get off the hamster wheel and stop trying to balance it all.  Let God lead and find peace in that.  Be still.  Just do it.


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Jan 15, 2016

Paul Anderson Youth Home Announces Resignation of COO, Drew Read

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Paul Anderson Youth Home Announces Resignation of Chief Operating Officer, Drew Read
VIDALIA, Ga.—(January 15, 2016) Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) Board of Directors is regretful to announce that Drew Read has resigned as Chief Operating Officer, effective March 1, 2016. Nick Greene, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Glenda Anderson, Co-founder and President, were surprised but respectfully accepted his resignation.
“We are beyond thankful for Drew’s hard work, leadership, and integrity as he has tirelessly led the PAYH as Administrator and COO for over 19 years.  We trust and respect his decision, knowing he is seeking God in obedience.  We have faith that God will continue to bless Drew and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.  We will miss him tremendously,” says PAYH President, Glenda Anderson.
“During his 21 plus year tenure, Read held almost every position at PAYH.  He has served the position of COO well, as he leaves the organization prepared for growth and success.  The board regretted to receive his resignation, but we have a well-designed succession plan in place.  The PAYH is blessed to have Co-founder and President, Glenda Anderson, who will continue leading just as she has for over 54 years.  Christ has honored this organization, and we will continue to build on our firm foundation, says Board of Directors Chairman, Nick Greene.
About the Ministry
Founded in 1961, we are a Christian non-profit located in Vidalia, Georgia. Our purpose is to instill hope, structure, and support in families through various transformative programs, all rooted in the powerful legacy of our founders, Paul and Glenda Anderson. At the core of our organization is the heart of what we do — the Youth Home. Based on this foundation of strength, love, and endurance, we heal hearts and homes across the country through counseling, parenting resources, events, and conferences.  Charity Navigator awarded the Paul Anderson Youth Home a 4-star rating for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency, the home’s third 4-star rating in four years.
 
For More Information, Contact:
Paul Anderson Youth Home
Director of Communications
Melissa Hightower
912.537.7237
mhightower@payh.org


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Jan 14, 2016

Penetrating Tough Skin Souls

“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” Matthew 11:12


“Grab it and growl” is one of the late Paul Anderson’s frequent quotes. In a sense, it captures the meaning of this text. The Gospel, the Kingdom of Heaven, must of necessity move forcefully to make headway in a fallen, hostile world, and if there are those who want to climb on board that moving Gospel train, they need to “grab it and growl,” take hold of the Gospel message with all their might and hang on as Satan tries his hardest to get them to relinquish their grip. Believing and acting on the Gospel is a life transformative, all-encompassing act of faith. A new creature is created, and consequently all things “become new.” The Gospel is never something that can be dabbled in with any success. It is not, “I’ll try a bit of it and see if it works.” It is all or nothing.
It is no easy task to present the Gospel to an increasingly secular society. At the PAYH, we have in essence a “captive” audience; bodies maybe, but hearts and minds are not necessarily captive to hearing and understanding the saving message of the Gospel. That is, until the Holy Spirit generates a spark of new life. It is most discouraging to present Gospel truths when your hearers do not really want to hear anything about God; or, it may be that they honestly believe it will not make a significant difference to their life and predicament, so why try? Sometimes a boy will choose to “go along to get along” and say the right things when asked, but upon leaving the Home or graduating, his true heart appears and a spiritually fruitful life is non-existent; the Gospel has not penetrated and transformed, making it his primary reason for living and the true mark of his character. This is the end for which we strive and hope in both speaking and living the Gospel message into and in front of these lives. It is our reason for being here; that unbelieving and troubled youth might come to know the Savior as theirs, committing to Him as the Lord of their life.
Saul was not only a hardened soul to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; he was an aggressive and violent enemy of its message and followers. He lived to persecute Christians. The disciples not only did not seek to witness to him, they steered clear of him entirely for their own safety. Though Saul heard the truth from Stephen’s mouth before they put him to death by stoning him, he fully approved of his execution even though he did not himself throw a stone. It appears Saul would not be softened to hear the truth by any ordinary means; he had to be arrested by the direct hand of God. Jesus confronted him within a blinding light as he traveled to Damascus to persecute and imprison more followers of the Way. The penetration of his heart and mind was not by persuasion of the tongue, or the convincing witness of a life, but more like a 2 x 4 miracle upside his head. God has many diverse and mysterious ways to get the attention of hardened unbelievers whom He has pegged to be His own. The Lord not only got his attention, he crushed his pride, and turned his heart from rock to malleable flesh. Saul/Paul became the greatest first century evangelist in God’s kingdom.
We often wish that each young man who comes to the PAYH, as well as our family or neighbors, those we have sought after in proclaiming Christ, would all have a Damascus Road experience, but it is normally not to be. The result of salvation turns out the same eventually, but the means of getting there are most often through the grind and perseverance of faithful witness, prayer, and persuasion; engaging a friendship with eternal goals. God has a vital purpose in calling us to follow the witness, prayer, persuasion route, even though He Himself holds the option of working alone; yet even in the instance of Paul’s conversion, God still used Ananias once He had Paul’s attention. Romans 10 describes and praises the one who perseveres to bring others the Gospel of Peace, but it explains realistically the nature of obstinate hearts who refuse to believe. This is the condition of being a bearer of the Gospel of Peace: Your feet will be blessed in going, but your message will not always be received. Still, go!
Can our persuasive presentation of the Gospel be improved? Yes, always. But the improvement should never keep you from telling others now of Jesus. There is improvement accomplished in telling the Gospel message over and over. Training on the job, never training to do the job. We are always concerned with the human mechanics of presenting the Gospel more persuasively, persevering in prayer, seeking for the Holy Spirit to act, but we must never grow weary in what is the highest part of our calling as followers of Jesus: telling others about Him no matter the cost. And as you tell, live it out. Living the Gospel is the constant backdrop of telling it; living it makes the telling authentic, giving the telling untold persuasive power.
It is always comforting to know that the Holy Spirit must regenerate tough skin souls. Continuing in unbelief is not the failure of your lack of persuasion. Your perseverance until the opportunity is completely closed is ever your calling, like the importunate widow before the unjust judge, but it is never the final reason the Gospel does not penetrate that thick skinned soul. That is God’s business alone. Leave it always in His hands when you have truly done all you can.
Would to God our young men would grab it and growl, commit to Christ no matter what. It would make all the difference in their lives. But until then, in the time you are given, short or long, persevere in telling and living the Gospel. A new day is another opportunity. But the day is coming when opportunity ceases. May it cease with no regret that you did not give it your all.


“In the midst of opposition let them trust, O Lord, in thee; when success attends their mission, let thy servants humbler be. Never leave them till thy face in heav’n they see.”
(5th verse of Thomas Kelly’s hymn, “Speed Thy Servants, Savior, Speed Them”, 1820)


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Jan 12, 2016

Making an Impact


What’s Next?
New ground…Increased capacity at the Paul Anderson Youth Home…More families will be touched at the Paul Anderson Family Strong Center.


We will continue to do what we have done for 55 years.  We will follow the Mighty God we serve.
We pray that you partner with us to change lives and build generations of strong families.
Just imagine what we can do together!


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Jan 07, 2016

The Amazing Diversity and Complexity of the Human Mind

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” Genesis 1:26


“One may understand the cosmos but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star” (G.K. Chesterton). There is nothing more complex in all creation than the creature created in God’s image. Add the fallen nature of man in his sin to such complexity, and you understand the claim, “The self is more distant than any star.” The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can know it?”
Genesis records the generations that proceed from Cain, Adam and Eve’s surviving son. One of Cain’s sons produces children who live in tents and raise livestock. Another was the patriarch of those who play the lyre and pipe. Yet another, the father of those who forge instruments of bronze and iron. Very soon, the diversity of talents, skills, and interests spread throughout the infant human race. But then, Lamech, another son of Cain, boasts of killing a man for wounding him and a young man for striking him, saying if Cain’s punishment for killing Abel is sevenfold, then his is seventy-seven fold. The results of sin are manifest in the utter complexity of minds – minds that can be twisted by evil.
Many minds, despite their fallen state, are relatively rational but complicated by their penchant for sin with a deceptive flight from righteousness. The fact that man is fallen brings another sad result of his sin: mental illness, which extends to disability and a failure to function in life. The present ineffectiveness and mystery of treating mental illness properly has produced an entire homeless population. Others are left vulnerable to committing heinous crimes, sometimes with the belief that “God told me to do it.” The Scriptural truth of these “directives” is that Satan is real and masquerading as an “angel of light.”
The human mind is diverse, difficult to understand by man, remarkably complex, with depths which cannot be fully plumbed. The brain can store millions of bits of information, including memories which cannot always be recollected until or if prompted by some trigger of recall; this is one reason Chesterton points out that “the self is more distant than any star.” The wisdom of Solomon explained, “This only have I found: God created man upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.”
The complexity of billions of minds, every one unique, paired with the truth that man is fallen creates a ruinous state for the highest element of God’s creation. Though the brilliance of the created human mind has developed amazing inventions of human transportation, communication, medicines, weapons, living spaces, food production, and so much more, the end result is sadly its destruction. Man dies, returns to dust, and takes none of his wealth, inventions, or power to the grave. What is the purpose of it all? Or what is man that God is mindful of him, as the Psalmist asks in Psalm 8?
Is God, the Creator, Sustainer, and Future of all truly mindful of man? Will He redeem what has gone so horribly wrong? Can He make the crooked places straight? Can He heal the illness and destruction of the creature made in His image? This is the whole story of human history set forth in Holy Scripture, of how God has done this in the person of His Son. Will the complexity of man be made simple and beautiful in the refocus of his heart, his grasping of the true purpose of life, knowing why he was created and given such remarkable gifts to the glory of his Creator?
God alone has the ability to search the heart and mind of man, to cover the distance of understanding man’s self, as much as He is well aware of every facet of the entire cosmos. Man is never so complex that he is beyond finding out. God knows all He has made and the true end of those who sit at the height of His Creation. Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Vast complexity is made simple and clear in the eyes of God who knows all hearts and minds. To bind your heart and mind to the One who is not blinded by its complexity is the beauty of your salvation. Is it not a grand truth that you can be known, and loved, and can in Him come to know your true self and be fully content with the result because you have been thoroughly redeemed?


“Search me, O God, my heart discern, try me my inmost thought to learn; and lead me, if in sin I stray, to choose the everlasting way.”
(5th verse of Psalm 139, The Psalter, 1912)


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