Payh Blog
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Jun 27, 2017

Living Dangerously in a Dangerous World

“Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” Isaiah 59:14-15


You would agree we live in a dangerous world; and, if you listen to our text from Isaiah, you live dangerously when you live righteously. You become actual prey for those who are evil by living righteously before those who have a proclivity, wittingly or unwittingly, to practice evil. Such is not a small crowd. In fact, they often appear to us to be a considerable majority; though no one knows the detailed salvation nature of the world’s population. The Lord alone knows those who are His and those who will eventually come to Him, (though like Paul, they are enemies until genuine conversion), and He knows those men and women who are certifiable enlistees of Satan’s army.
As Isaiah says elsewhere, these are they who call evil good, and good evil. They turn the world exasperatingly upside down. They cause you to almost lose your mind as they do not discern what is truly good, and they cling to what is truly evil with their strained explanation of how “good” evil is, like slaughtering infants in the womb and harvesting their brains and other body parts. Cheating, lying, and stealing are the normal behavior of men and women who do not love righteousness, even as it means throwing you or others under the bus or stabbing you in the back. It celebrates wrongdoing like cheering the shooting of congressmen because they are conservative, or laughing vigorously at the “joke” of assassinating an elected President.
The horrific human carnage of ISIS and militant jihadists is fully justified in their own mind to achieve an Islamic Caliphate to kill as many “infidels” as possible; to savage as many people as one can out of angry revenge for some perceived offending action; to steal what is not theirs and do harm to others out of pure “entertainment” of the moment; to take other lives in one’s hands by texting, drugging, or drinking while driving a heavy metal, lethal weapon at high speed. “Rules are made to be broken is their driven theme.
Such destruction and loss of life can strike anywhere at any time. It can and has reached many others and may well reach you. How do you as a Christian, trusting in God, live in such an environment? By doing exactly that – trusting in God moment by moment and leaving your life in His hands. He will always act, protect, and allow what is best for His child. You cannot live in any other way, seeking on your own to perfectly protect yourself and your family from evil in this world when this fallen world is exactly that – filled with snares and traps to do you harm.
You live dangerously by living righteously. Will you actually turn from righteous living so as not to be the prey of evil doers? Such is never an option for the true Christian. Rather, hunger for righteousness. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who persecute you. It may make you prey, but He who is in you is stronger than he who is in the world. No one can thwart God’s will. If His will is for you to exit this life for heaven, nothing can stay the hand of anyone, illness, or malady which seeks your life. Conversely, no one can snatch your life away if He protects you. Live in this regard, not fearing or scared, not looking over your shoulder wondering if the shoe is going to drop, but trusting God to keep you in His arms in a dangerous world.


“And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him.”
(3rd verse of Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” 1528)
 

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The Disaster of Instability
Jun 21, 2017

The Disaster of Instability

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8


The world can easily be labeled an unstable environment – politically, emotionally, psychologically…you name it. The only certain thing about tomorrow’s news is instability! Something will happen to upset the apple cart somewhere in the world – in fact, in a lot of somewheres. There are very few things stable about our world when you take into account the human element.
Fortunately, God ensures many stable things in the world, especially the physical world in which we live, like “the sun will come out tomorrow.” But, on the other hand, a tornado, earthquake, or flood may strike unexpectedly. But what “so-and-so” will do to someone else is the most unpredictable thing in the world. Evil lurks in the soul of man and the results cannot always be seen in advance; therefore, instability is the most common result.
Double-minded men and women are unstable in all their ways, according to James, and the world is filled with double-minded people. Such is the one who is unwilling, or unable, to ask God for wisdom, producing double-mindedness in behavior and life. We at the Youth Home see daily the results and behavior of young men who are double-minded. They may swear they are going to do the right thing and the very next moment are doing the exact opposite. Such happens over and over.
Life at the Youth Home revolves around instability, despite the fact that we maintain a strict schedule and are always trying to instill good habits and behavior in hopes that it will lead to more stability. The fallen human element quickens the opposite. Every day brings some form of erratic behavior. Our life here is a microcosm of the world outside our property; except “out there” there is no responsible one in each place to restrict a continuing bad behavior, or at least not a consistent or a particularly loving person, pointing to a more rewarding way to go forward. This is why we are here to do what we do.
So, we major in trying to bring stability where there is little. Stability allows for real growth and maturity. It allows wisdom to grow exponentially. It is fertilizer for growing wise young men, and this is our singular goal. The more stability we can bring to a young man’s life, the greater promise there is for his success –especially the success of genuine salvation and growth in wisdom.
Double-mindedness is a lack of clear direction in life. It is in one who is like a wave of the sea driven by winds randomly this way and that. He spins his wheels gaining no traction in any forward direction. With no change, he will end his life with nothing but pain to show for it. Unfortunately, that may well be the same for his spouse and children, or even a number of his spouses with various children, fighting to overcome severe discouragement amidst the deep marks of divorce. Sin breeds more sin unless genuine repentance intervenes.
A double-minded man and a singular-minded man are worlds apart. There is no comparison. One flourishes in life and character while the other flounders in one predicament of life after another. Such is our goal with each young man with whom God gives us opportunity: true single-mindedness. We always experience pain with the news of a previous young man doing poorly after he leaves PAYH, succumbing to the world and temptations swirling around him. The arch-enemy of these young men is powerful in returning them to addictions, in keeping them from spiritual pursuits, in joining them again to friends who are actually enemies, in leading them to make double-minded decisions which are poor choices, diminishing their lives.
The stability of a life which truly seeks the wisdom of God will not lead them into the misery of poor choices. Seeking God’s wisdom before making a snap or poor choice will keep them from decisions which continually bring painful conclusions. His wisdom, which He promises throughout the Bible, when it is genuinely sought, brings spiritual prosperity, leading to a certain reward and a never-ending conclusion. Such will have the great benefit of no regrets. Single-mindedness, produced only out of being “in Christ,” results in a joy which cannot be squelched.
All of us face the problems arising from instability. All of us struggle with finding the peace which passes understanding in our lives. Pursuing God’s wisdom in making each life decision is essential to the stability which is required to live quiet and godly lives. In fact, Jesus says it should be your preeminent goal to live a quiet and godly life, not only most acceptable to God, but consistently encouraged by Him. The young men at PAYH as well as each one of us should hunger for the stability He brings so that we might live quiet and godly lives to His glory.


“Thou hidden source of calm repose, thou all sufficient love divine, my help and refuge from my foes, secure I am if thou art mine. And lo! from sin and grief and shame I hide me, Jesus, in thy name.”
(1st verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose,” 1749)
 

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Over the Hump
Jun 14, 2017

Over the Hump

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17


Young men come to the PAYH from diverse backgrounds and home life. There seems to be with each one of them a necessary adjustment time to get to what we call “over the hump” of a drastic life change living at the Youth Home. Schedules, respect for authority, work ethic, life without addictive substances, spiritual input, and memorizing Scripture all represent an almost 180 degree turn from what they were previously used to.
Does a positive response to these changes come easily? Not at all. It takes time. Often, it is initially one step forward then two back, and sometimes it is no steps forward! You just do not go from using addictive substances to not using at all, or from giving in to anger to consciously restraining anger, without some problems in body, mind, and emotions. Attitudes definitely have to be calmed and adjusted. From being required to do hardly any work from whence they came to actually working daily, paying attention in classes, and responding with respect to authority, these are all part of a “hump” to get over. It never happens overnight.
Through all the years in the long history of the Youth Home, we have extensive experience to know that genuine salvation in Christ of a young man makes all the difference in the world. There is all too often a profession that one has “accepted” Christ, but, nevertheless, the authenticity of salvation is evident in the actual changes that take place in his life thereafter. One who has truly come to “know” Christ as his Savior cannot help but talk of what he is experiencing and testifying to the presence and impact of Christ. He is one who pursues the righteousness of Christ and desires to please Him in his behavior and life.
How much of a transforming effect does genuine salvation make in any of our lives? Are we radically and immediately transformed? Or do a lot of our former characteristics remain? Those who are “in Christ” are aware of this promised process of sanctification in re-creating our lives, in making us into a “new creation.” It is a life-long process that does not conclude until we experience glorification beyond the grave. And yet the Scriptures tell us if anyone is in Christ he/she is a new creation at that point. There is mystery in this whole process, primarily because all of us are still sinners, though redeemed sinners; for, as the definition of sanctification declares, we are, in being and becoming sanctified, dying more and more unto sin and living more and more unto righteousness. This indicates a growing, progressing movement in us.
Therefore, recognizing the vital importance of knowing Christ and becoming a new creation in Him in their future success, we seek to evangelize and disciple the many young men who providentially come to the Home. All our efforts are not successful, but we work in that direction with energy, prayer, and purpose. The mission is wearying and difficult. It requires perseverance by the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. But this is our calling and our mission.


“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. Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
(Verse 4 of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain,” 1738)

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Wrestling with Whom You Have to Do
Jun 07, 2017

Wrestling with Whom You Have to Do

“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.” Genesis 32:24


“With whom you have to do” describes the One whom you absolutely cannot do without. He is the one who not only brought you into being, but determines your future. It is with Him you must wrestle. We wrestle with many people, things, and ideas in life, but apart from Him, it is pretty much fruitless wrestling which will ultimately bring about no positive eternal result. But who wrestles with God? Is this even possible?
In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with God. Most likely as in other Old Testament appearances of “The Lord,” this is Jesus in His pre-incarnate state. Job wrestles with God verbally and very straightforwardly throughout the Book that bears his name, and God rewards him for it, while criticizing his counselors. Moses wrestles with God, not wanting to be the one who confronts Pharaoh as God’s spokesman, and at one point to become the one whom he asks God to remove from the Book of Life in substitute for his rebellious kinsmen, so that they might be saved in his stead. Abraham wrestles with God over how many righteous people are necessary to save Sodom from destruction. These men of God wrestle directly with God because they know to a certainty that He is the determiner of all that happens.
So how do these examples speak to your own dealings with God? Are you to wrestle with God as well? And just how do you do that?
One, do not blame your misfortunes on other people or events, but take them first to God. Ask why. Ask Him to remove them or at least make you stronger to bear them. Tell God truly what you are thinking. Even if your thoughts are negative towards Him, do not hold back; tell Him so. Deal with Him in honesty. Wrestle with Him in prayer. Tell Him as Jacob did that you will not let Him go until He blesses you or answers you.
Before anyone else, take your complaints to God. Take your praises to God immediately, too. Think of Him as the one whom you want to tell first, whether good or bad, complaining or thanking. But normally, wrestling with Him is about trouble in your life you wish changed or wishing you were in a whole different place or situation. God determines where you are now and whether there is going to be a change. If you don’t like it, wrestle with Him.
God is such a companion. He is the closest, most knowing of any friend or partner. Since we can get pretty adamant in our thoughts and conclusions about a matter, it requires a wrestling with God as to the best course to take or not take. That wrestling may well require a good amount of time on your knees before Him. It is always time well spent. May it be a habit.


“We come, O Christ, to You, true Son of God and man by whom all things consist, in whom all life began; in You alone we live and move and have our being in Your love.”
(1st verse of Margaret Clarkson’s hymn, “We Come, O Christ, to You,” 1957)

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