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We Have No King but Caesar
Mar 30, 2017

We Have No King but Caesar

“They cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.'” – John 19:15

So said the chief priests and religious leaders of the Jews at Jesus’ trial. Pretty remarkable statement for men who claimed to obey and worship the God of the universe. Of course, they acknowledged no God among the sons of men, even though the Scriptures are replete with prophecies of a coming Messiah, the promise of One who would be the mediator between God and man, One who according to Job would one day stand on the earth and be looked upon with our own eyes from our own flesh, and this after he had already been born, lived, and died on the earth followed by resurrection and ascension. These were men who studied the Scriptures as a way of life. How could they miss it so blatantly? It is as though none of these promises and prophecies were ever spoken or written, though all of Scripture was written with them as the intended focus.
In just a few weeks you will celebrate Holy Week once again, the week in which Jesus’ trial had taken place, followed by the carrying out of his death sentence; a trial in which the chief priests and rulers answered Pilate emphatically, “We have no king but Caesar!” Do you as a matter of course give the same answer, not with words so much, but with the example of your life? With the way you live out life’s demands day after day?
It is pretty evident what earthly authority is paramount in your everyday life, who your Caesar is. You pay income taxes next month, every time you buy something sales taxes are applied, you approximately obey speed limits, you obey the laws government legislates, you respond affirmatively to the decisions rendered by the courts, your health care is under the “king.” You are physically protected by government run police and military. Your entire life is under a system of commands established and maintained by the government of the land in which you are a citizen. You apparently have a king whom we refer to as “Caesar.”
Is there a King in your life who by words, thoughts, and deeds supersedes Caesar?  How is His sovereignty and authority in your life manifested in the midst of your paying unto Caesar what is Caesar’s? How evident is His rule in your life? Do others notice?
Caesar is so overly-integrated into your life that overtly acknowledging a superior King who stands out to a watching world is something that, if true, must be done with holy intention; with a life of holy habit which cannot but help catch the eye of your neighbors. Not that it is done for the purpose of show, but as a distinction of serious devotion, done solely for His praise.
Are your possessions His? Show it by your tithes and gifts, in money and service. Is your family His? Show it by your love, honor, instruction, and protection for them? Is His house your house? Show it by your consistent worship and fellowship there and with His family. Is your time His? Show it by your significant time of private and corporate prayer and as a serious student of His Word. Is your conversation His? Show it by His acknowledged presence in every conversation, by the proclamation of the gospel introduced naturally as the love of your life. Is your life His? Show it by your obedience to His commands in thought, word and deed.
If you belong to Jesus, never allow your answer to the world to be, “I have no king but Caesar.” Caesar is a necessary function of a fallen world. King Jesus is your all in all!

“King of my life I crown thee now, thine shall the glory be; lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow, lead me to Calvary. Lest I forget Gethsemane; lest I forget thine agony; lest I forget thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.”
(1st verse of Jennie Hussey’s hymn, “King of My Life, I Crown Thee Now,” 1921)

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From Time to Timelessness
Mar 23, 2017

From Time to Timelessness

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:43

Every day we hear about many of our fellow human beings who have just experienced the mysterious transition from time to timelessness. Mysterious, that is, for any who have not yet crossed that river. Today, as every day, we learn of those of every age who exit this life for another. Unlike my elderly neighbor’s belief, to whom I witnessed about what happens when we die, it is not a departure from life to nothingness, from being to extinction. Rather this is a transition from time to timelessness, from temporal life to eternity. What exactly happens when you die? Not sometime in the future, but what happens immediately, in the twinkling of an eye? According to Scripture you begin a timeless existence.
Jesus made a promise to a repentant thief as both were being crucified, telling him that today, the same day he would die alongside Jesus, you will be with me in Paradise. Take note that Jesus’ body, as the thief’s, still hung on the cross as they took their last breath. Jesus’ body was buried as we expect the thief’s was. So how can you know they immediately, spiritually, were transitioned into heaven, the home of believers, or, like the unrepentant thief, into hades, the place of the dead?
St. Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:2 gives a Spirit-breathed glimpse into heaven. The “third heaven” of which Paul speaks here in terms of first century cosmology, apparently refers to the place where God’s courts are, rather than this earthly world, the first “heaven,” or interplanetary space, the second. This was an experience in which Paul says it did not matter as far as his own senses were concerned whether he was in the body or not, the experience was the same for him as if he were in the body. This has to be a glimpse into what we will experience when we are separated from this earthly body and are not yet united to an eternal body. We converse, fellowship, relate to others much like we would as we have always experienced, except sinless.
The disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration saw Moses and Elijah in their bodies conversing with Jesus, yet Jesus was transfigured, whatever transfigured means. It was something perhaps, “out of this world,” yet familiar, for Jesus immediately afterwards conformed to his previous state with his disciples. Later the Apostle John witnessed heaven; yes, in a vision, recounted in Revelation, but with recognizable human and angelic figures which he describes in familiar terms.
We must be very careful about relying on various human visions of heaven written about today in books or depicted in movies as being authoritative, but Paul can be accorded the sure authority of God-given revelation. When my first wife was dying, in the final moments before taking her last breath, she spoke clearly with an incredible look in her eyes and upon her face just prior to her own entrance into glory, of seeing familiar people in heaven whom she had known before they entered heaven and a few others who she knew by faith from Scripture; maybe a non-authoritative glimpse for us of entrance into heaven, which we await.
But as Paul clearly tells us of the believer, “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” The parable Jesus tells of the rich man and Lazarus gives a not so happy experience and place for those like the rich man who die in unbelief. A believing Lazarus-situation is far different (Luke 16:19-31). But there is nowhere in Scripture where it is even indicated that man transitions from this life into a state of extinction upon his demise. One may believe nothingness is the case if he so desires, but with what evidence? There is none; only uninformed and unbelieving speculation.
The Bible testifies to an immediate fellowship with Jesus and with those believers who have gone before upon taking your final breath. But the Bible says that those who have died already, accompany Jesus in his return to join those believers who are still living at His second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15). In Romans 8 we read that nothing can separate the believer in Jesus from the love of God which is found in Jesus, “not life nor death, angels nor demons, present nor future, nor any powers.” The believer can securely rest in the fact that God’s love for him is always present and operative to protect his person from any harm or evil. If Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” you can surely rest in this truth spoken from the Savior’s mouth.
There is a fear of actually dying, natural to most every one of us. It is fear of something we have never experienced, but it is accompanied with a confidence in the promises of God and the companionship of Jesus each step of the way. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me!” The fear of extinction has to be morbidly paralyzing. Not knowing or finding out the mysteries of this life. Not seeing justice restored. Not knowing what happens beyond your consciousness. How does history truly turn out? What happens to your children? Are you consigned to extinction never to find out? This is not the plan of a just and holy God. It is not the order of a God who loves so perfectly. There is no rationality to such an existence, and if anything God is a God of reason. This is not the end of a being created in God’s image; a rational, sentient, hoping person with a soul.
The unbeliever needs to think long and hard about his future, approaching death and timelessness spiritually unprepared. The believer looks with eager expectation to an eternal relationship with his Savior and all fellow believers.

“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 moonlight, but dayspring is at hand, and glory, glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land.”
(1st verse of Samuel Rutherford and Anne Cousin hymn, “The Sands of Time Are Sinking,” 1857)

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Incomprehensible Immensity and Glory
Mar 16, 2017

Incomprehensible Immensity and Glory

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament shows His handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1

In 80+ centuries (however long it has been) man has examined the universe which is his home, but in this last century alone man’s knowledge has explosively expanded into an immensity of incomprehensible proportion. Whether using stupendous advances in microscopes, or in the opposite direction, in telescopes, into searching out, on hand, the infinite intricacy of the cellular makeup and DNA of our world, or, on the other, the equally infinite stretches of an unending universe, we cannot reach its end. The unfathomable intricacies of the internal makeup of all living or inanimate things, and the equally boundless, unending stretches of outer space, galaxies, planets, stars, are far beyond human eye or imagination. You cannot contemplate the vastness of what is, and consequently its Creator.
You can do several things with such knowledge: one, ignore it; two, not attribute it to its Maker, but unaccountably to the machinations of infinite time and sheer impossibility of chance; or three, acknowledge this Creator God, whose glory so astounds that you fall before Him in adoration, thanksgiving, and absolute obedience. The glory of this Great God is simply beyond all measure, mind, or emotion.
Yet the nature of our own fallenness obscures His glory from your eyes; this obscurity makes your own importance and concerns exaggerated far beyond the truth of what is. When you fail to see and contemplate the glory of God your world shrinks to primarily the proportion of one, and possibly a few more closely related to you, children, family, a few close friends, but primarily, in your perspective, you are the sun of your own galaxy, and all others and things of your life orbit around you. When, if you truly saw and understood the glory of God, you and the things of your life would orbit around God. He would, as John the Baptist said of Jesus, increase, while you and your own importance would decrease.
It is a hard thing for you to not see your own importance as paramount, and rather to allow the glory of God to become the energy of your being; your motivator, your every goal, your delight. If His glory was paramount, your life would be literally transformed. All nature, every sight, every thought, would cause you to think continually “I serve and worship a God of immense glory and, what is more, He loves ME.” His word, His direction, His greatness ought to be the chief influence of who I am, what I think, what I see, what I love, what I do. God’s glory consumes me.
The contemplation of God and His glory should be the chief focus of your mind and activity. This can actually be done as you go about all the legitimate responsibilities of your life, in fulfilling any role in which He has called you to serve. It is a way of thinking, perceiving, choosing, doing. He, not you, is the sun of your life. He determines the course which you take. It is a constant life discipline to insure His increase and your decrease, for human nature normally works in the opposite direction.
All we see in our world every day, from the right perspective, reveals the glory of God, but from the false perspective, the glory of you. The glory of you is a dead-end street. The glory of God is a never-ending journey of immense possibility for your eternity. It begins here and now. It is not restricted, nor can it be, to your life beyond the grave. Do not put it off until then. Let the glory of the Eternal God sweep you off your feet…today.

“Mighty God, while angels bless thee, may a mortal sing your name? Lord of men as well as angels, thou art every creature’s theme. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.”
(1st verse of Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee,” 1774)

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Saint Patrick
Mar 09, 2017

Saint Patrick

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” – Colossians 1:27

Not much is known about his life and ministry, but the fruits of St. Patrick’s ministry have withstood the tests of time. Living approximately from 385 AD to March 17, 461, St. Patrick left us some of his writings which tell just a bit of his life, but it is the powerful reputation of his ministry which establishes a holy legacy down to the present day.
There are many lives within history that were worthy sacrifices to the establishment and flourishing of God’s kingdom, of whom little or even nothing is known. There has been nothing written or preserved to record in any perpetual way what so many different lives achieved for the glory of God. When you hear their names in heaven you will say at first, “Who is that? I never heard anything about them.” Even the Bible resorts to saying at the end of Hebrews 11, “The world was not worthy of them,” and, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” We only know a few of these names. We DO know that their names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life; and to a man, woman, or child, this is truly enough for them. God knows their every exploit, their sacrifices, the power of their testimonies, their love, their faith, and He insures their reward. He will never forget, which is all that really counts.
We know St. Patrick had a profound effect on Ireland. He led great numbers to Christ, and baptized many converts. He, under the power of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, turned Ireland from a pagan land to a Christian faith. One life was very transformative. But I have no doubt that he had notable disciples beside him, assisting, for these things are seldom the work of one completely alone. Those disciple’s names are unknown to us, just as so many, maybe you, will do much for God and His Son, and not acquire great fame. After all, it is not why we do what we do.

St. Patrick wrote a powerful hymn titled St. Patrick’s Breastplate. I imagine it as a description of his life’s testimony, the versification of how he viewed his life.
Quoting only the final verses of his hymn:

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself today,
the strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Finish the Race
Mar 08, 2017

Finish the Race

Last week, 413 of you came out to support the Paul Anderson Youth Home at our Second Annual Chick-fil-A Road Race, and I have to say, I was so impressed! First of all, it started at 8:00 on a Saturday morning (the one day of the week you can sleep in). Secondly, it was 37 degrees out there. So not only were you all disciplined enough to drag yourselves out of bed on the weekend, but you did so knowing that you were going to freeze! That is dedication! Some of you were done as soon as you started it seemed, some of you took your time and walked the course leisurely (my personal preferred method), and many of you in both categories set personal records. Regardless of your varying paces, all 413 of you finished.
I personally don’t enjoy running. At different times in my life I would have called myself a runner, but I never for a second liked it. In Georgia, it’s pretty much always too hot to run, and down here in South Georgia, the gnats make it unbearable! Add in the cramps, sweating, and soreness, and I’d rather stub my big toe on a rock than go for a jog. Okay, maybe I’m just out of shape, but you get what I’m saying. Nevertheless, running is an excellent metaphor for the Christian life that is used numerous times throughout the Bible. In 2nd Timothy 4:7, Paul declares, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Paul wrote this from the confines of his prison cell as he awaited his imminent execution. He knew his time was up, and looked back on his earthly life with confidence that he had stayed faithful in his calling until the very end. This doesn’t mean it was easy for Paul or that he never faltered; he was human, so we know he messed up. The key is that he was repentant and serious about finishing his race.
You may be thinking, “That is easier said than done, and you are correct! We are prone to stray because of our sin nature, and Satan will do everything in his power to entice us to stop running the race. When we are tired, it doesn’t take much to convince us to quit running; the same is true for our spiritual lives. We are especially susceptible to dropping out of the race when we are spiritually exhausted from fighting temptation, persevering through trials, waiting for an answered prayer, etc. But fighting the good fight to completion is of utmost importance and worth the blood, sweat, and tears! So how do we do it? Pastor Jerry Bridges recommends these four essentials to finishing well:
1. Daily time of focused personal communion with God
We won’t wake up one day and suddenly decide we want to drop out of the race. Rather, we make a series of decisions over time that either improve our physical shape (i.e. bring us closer to God) or lead us to ultimately stop running (i.e. turn from Him). It can be difficult to see ourselves drifting because it often happens very subtly and gradually. This is why it is so important to spend time with God every day. To stay on track, we need to make a daily practice of meeting with Him, asking Him to speak to us, and speaking to Him as we read His Word and interact with His Word in prayer. This involves more than simply reading a chapter of the Bible; the object is to meet with God, to have God speak to us, and to respond to Him.
2. Daily remembrance of the Gospel
It is only through Christ that we have access to God, so it is important to remind ourselves of this daily. Begin by praying something along the lines of, “Lord, I know that I am an object of Your mercy and Your grace. I come to You still a practicing sinner, but I look to Jesus Christ and His shed blood, His perfect obedience, and His righteous life that has been credited to me. And I see myself standing before You clothed in His righteousness. We cannot come directly to God; we must always go through the blood of Jesus. However, God not only allows us to do so, He invites us to! If we don’t remind ourselves of the story of the Gospel, we are likely to drift towards a performance-based relationship with God.
3. Daily commitment to God as a living sacrifice
As we reflect on the Gospel and what God has done for us in Christ, this should lead us to present ourselves as daily, living sacrifices. Giving ourselves as living sacrifices to God will look different for each of us. For some, it may mean career changes; for others, it could entail remaining in a career that is not enjoyable. Maybe it will involve forming new friendships with people you would not normally gravitate towards or possibly forfeiting relationships with individuals who are not spiritually uplifting. It may be as drastic as moving across the ocean for full-time ministry or as simple as giving up a favorite ungodly television show. Remembering the Gospel daily and basking in God’s love leads us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. However, this must be renewed daily; we can’t live today on yesterday’s commitment.
4. Firm belief in the sovereignty and love of God
Life is hard, but God is sovereign. Lamentations 3:37-38 says, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? If we want to stand firm in the face of life’s difficulties and endure to the end of the race, then we must have a firm belief in the sovereignty and the love of God. We must believe that God is in control of every event in His universe, including every event in our own lives, and that He exercises that control from His infinite love for us. Otherwise, we will be tempted to become bitter when bad things happen. Bitterness causes us to turn from God and can result in ultimately giving up the race. One of the ways we can keep from becoming bitter is to remind ourselves that God is in sovereign control.
The key to these four steps is the word “daily. We are so fickle and wayward. We often have great aspirations of complete devotion to God and His Kingdom work, but our enthusiasm wains quickly, and we find ourselves wallowing in the same complacency and self-centeredness where we started. Make daily communion with God a priority, remind your spirit of its wretchedness and the mercy of the Gospel daily, offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God daily, and recall God’s sovereignty and love daily. These frequent, intentional practices will help you fix your eyes on Jesus and run the race with perseverance until you reach the finish line (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Emma Payne
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Advancement Associate
Paul Anderson Youth Home

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Isn't There a Better Way?
Mar 07, 2017

Isn’t There a Better Way?

At PAYH, we strive to be the BEST AT WHAT WE DO.  Maintaining a quality program that adapts to meet the needs of each new generation requires plenty of time, effort, and research.  One of the most important things we can do for a young man before he leaves is instill the proper work ethic, drive, and skills needed to succeed in a competitive job market.  Otherwise, he becomes much more likely to fall back into old habits as he struggles to find employment. 
Worker with Tools(1).pngThe pendulum in the U.S. job market is swinging back toward skilled labor.  In previous years, it seems we have invested in more college degrees than the market can support, and this trend is demonstrated by the statistics above.  Because of this, we are adopting a more wholistic approach designed to develop our boys into well-rounded, capable men with diverse employment options.  This summer, we will open our new VOCATIONAL SCHOOL, through which our boys will be introduced to various skilled occupations, allowing them to discover their talents and aptitudes through hands-on experience.  They will learn the basics of trades such as agriculture, auto mechanics, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and many more, and will leave us ready to enter those fields at the apprentice level or pursue more advanced training programs. 

Our founder, Paul Anderson, understood that hard work leaves little time and energy for mischief and fortifies the mind, body, and spirit. By graduating our program with clear purpose and direction, our young men will have the best possible chance at success.  They will become assets to society rather than liabilities, and will lead a new generation of workers to ECONOMIC AND SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY.

Will you be a part of this initiative and help to provide new opportunities for our young men?  In doing so, you are not only INVESTING IN THE FUTURE of these individual young men, but also in both the United States economy and the Kingdom of God.
Change starts with ONE!
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Brian Clift

Advancement Officer

Paul Anderson Youth Home

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With Whom You Have To Do
Mar 02, 2017

With Whom You Have To Do

“Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me. There an upright man could argue with him.” – Job 23:3-7


Argue with God? Is this something to even contemplate? Or would you just not bother? The actuality is that more than anyone else in your entire world, this is the One with whom you have to do most and ultimately. In fact, He is the One with whom you must have to do. There isn’t truly any other.


There is a moment in the movie western, Open Range, with Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner, where Duvall swears at God after his young colleague is killed by their enemies. While Duvall is standing over his friend’s freshly dug grave, he doesn’t swear at those who killed him; instead, he swears at God. In all truthfulness this was perhaps the truest thing to do, because it is God, not our enemies, with whom we have most to do. God is still sovereign; our enemies most certainly are not. This is only a starting point, not the end of the argument. Duvall opens an argument concerning his friend’s violent death, but the argument is certainly not concluded. The movie gives neither the time or the place, unfortunately, to arrive at the right conclusion; the holiness, care, and glory of God in everything, even the death of a friend. 


Job argues with God in the Book of Job, not always rightly, but not always wrongly either. In fact, God while straightening out Job’s imperfect understanding, finds him to be more in tune with who He is than his counselors. God reprimanded them first, and then placed them at the mercy of Job’s prayer for them.


Do you argue with God? Do you bring your case before Him as the great judge of the affairs of men? The word (“my case”) used in our text, a court case or suit, is the same reasoned argument that any organized lawyer would bring before a judge who makes the final determination. When tragedy befalls you, or the rightness or wrongness of a situation throws you into a quandary, when you are mystified or confused over what has happened to you when you thought you were in the just and good hands of God, do you bring your arguments before Him? This is the lesson of the Book and circumstances of Job. He argues with God because he understands it is God with whom he has to do.


Such is exactly true of you; it is God who is at the heart of all things concerning you. It is God to whom you must cry out; it is with God you must argue and present your case as you see it. Possibly in the best reasoning of your argument you may find your answer or figure out the real truth of the circumstance. Or, if you cannot come to a final conclusion or answer, you find you can leave it with God and be satisfied until you no longer see through a “glass darkly,” but “face to face.” In any case, God has your life in his hands and your care is, He says, the apple of His eye. He is a God who can handle your arguments; He wants to hear and is listening. Give it your very best reasoning. Realize that in these matters it is just you and Him. You have come to your Father in the boldness of the blood of Christ, His Son. He will neither turn you away, nor close His ears. 


Argue even out of anger, or out of fear, or out of frustration, but argue, knowing He ultimately has the right answer; and He will mark your perseverance of faith in finding the truth. 

“God never moves without purpose or plan when trying His servant and molding a man. Give thanks to the Lord, though the testing seems long; in darkness He gives us a song. O rejoice in the Lord. He makes no mistake. He knows the end of each path that I take. For when I am tried and purified, I shall come forth as gold.”


(1st verse of Ron Hamilton’s hymn, “O Rejoice in the Lord,” 1978)

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