Payh Blog
Green bean crop field on the farm
Oct 25, 2017

I Planted, Apollos Watered

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:6-11


In the global population, there are relatively few people who legitimately can be titled a founder of a business or a ministry; even fewer, a ministry which continues for a significantly long time, such as 57 years. Paul Anderson was its founder and the PAYH recently celebrated again Founder’s Day on the 15th of this month. Some begin a ministry and build it into a special work; many, many others water what is planted, and some variously take part in its harvest.
Founding requires a call, a vision, and the ability and commitment to see the vision through to fruition. Many others come alongside, buying into the God-inspired vision of the founder. It takes many other hands to water and nurture the objects of the founding vision. And then there are always those who are blessed to reap the fruits of the harvest, even years later. Most all are necessary to the success of the founder’s vision.
There is no little importance to being a waterer. If there are no waterers, the vision perishes. If there are no waterers, there is no harvest. God uses each one to fulfill His purpose: the saving of many souls. God requires more than a founder. There must be those to water, and there must be those to harvest. All must do the specific and necessary parts of what God has called them to. These can find complete and satisfying fulfillment in God’s calling for them. What they do is to God’s glory, and He is the rewarder of those who fulfill His calling.
There is a time for every season. Founding is normally one generation and one season; watering and harvesting encompass many generations and seasons. Often many of the waterers and harvesters are not even born when the founder begins his ministry. God has called them to participate in the vision according to His timing, sometimes a generation or generations removed. What a blessing to be involved in a multi-generational enterprise. It is taking part in something which God has blessed for a significant time, showing He is well pleased with the work of which you are a vital part. This is God’s evident imprimatur on what you are about as you water and harvest.
And what is more, the Apostle Paul tells us the founder, the waterers, and the harvesters are all one; all enmeshed in God’s work, equal colleagues in the planting, watering, and harvesting of what God Himself is doing. The results of this work for God cannot be destroyed, it cannot be burned up, and it will survive the Judgment coming upon the world. All else will fail to survive, but you and those you introduce into His Kingdom will pass through this furnace. The boys which you water, and particularly those who are harvested, will survive the Judgment and be invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb. They will dance in the courts of the Lord.
So do not grow weary in well doing. Take heart as you labor in the often tedious task, the often frustrating work of daily watering these young men, remembering that your work is not in vain. It will produce a harvest which the world will not reap. Remember, it will be worth it all when you see Jesus. Keep watering. Keep watering. Keep watering. God will bring the growth in which you or another will rejoice in the harvest.


“Not for weight of glory, not for crown and palm enter we the army, raise the warrior psalm, but for Love that claimeth lives for whom He died. He whom Jesus nameth must be on His side. By Thy love constraining, by Thy grace divine, we are on the Lord’s side; Savior, we are Thine.
(2nd verse of Frances Havergal’s hymn, Who Is on the Lord’s Side?, 1877)
 

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Blue sky background with white clouds and rain clouds
Oct 18, 2017

Coming with the Clouds

“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so, amen. Revelation 1:7


My grandson and I were traveling Space Available on a small 16 passenger military jet from Scott Air Force Base in southern Illinois to Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was the night of July 4th. We watched the many firework shows thousands of feet below us as we flew over Missouri and Kansas – splashes of multi-colored bouquets dotting the sky here and there, but in miniature form as seen from great altitude. But the far better fireworks were up in the skies beside us and above us.
This panorama with the magnificent towers of clouds off to our south were alive with lightning as the almost full moon lit up the otherwise dark night sky. The flashes were everywhere as bolt after bolt of electricity mimicked multiple firework bursts, but far more spectacular. The massive, turbulent cloud towers stretching from prairie to far above our 25,000 altitude were mesmerizing in their powerful beauty. We have never seen a firework show as grand as we saw that night!
Now, a clear sky with no clouds, myriads of stars, and a bright moon is a beautiful sight. But clouds are God’s wonderful decorations of the earth’s atmosphere which are necessary for unbelievable sunsets and for painting the horizon with every kind of shape – wispy, ferocious, calm, frenetic, roiling, twisting, streaming, towering, layering, capping. The clouds decorate the sky, always painting a different vista for its audience below.
God used some special clouds with a directing and protecting purpose: the pillar of cloud as a guide through Sinai for the children of Israel escaping Egypt’s army, the pillar of fire by night for the same, and to stand between His children and the army pursuing them.
The Scriptures tell us that when Jesus returns He will come “with the clouds. What does this mean? I imagine it means He will come with the majesty and great fanfare which the clouds present in the manner in which they decorate and display Earth’s atmosphere and nature’s power. They get our attention! They proclaim what the weather is going to be; they bring storms, producing rain, snow, and hail; they whirl into tornadoes, hurricanes, and wind gales; they display the tremendous power and dramatic changes of nature.
Jesus will come in a manner that will capture every eye, for “every eye will see Him, declares the Bible. The clouds will be such that they will “announce and accompany the Son of God with great majesty, honor, and glory! Whatever that is in cloud presentation, it will be magnificent! Our eyes will indeed literally see Him, and the sight will be one of great awe; joy for those eagerly awaiting Him and wailing and dread for those who are not.
This is no spiritualized coming of God’s Son! We will see Him in the same manner which we see the sun rise every morning. Those alive, those long dead, ALL will see with their own eyes Jesus coming with the clouds; just as the disciples of Jesus saw Him ascend into the clouds at His ascension. There is no greater sight! Nothing else will have our attention. Every eye will be on Jesus. No eye will turn or glance away. I do not know how that will happen with the global earth; only I believe what Scripture says. If God says it, it will be! There is no grander sight in all history as history comes to a climax. Jesus returns exactly as He promised…with the clouds! Will you be one among those who will wail, or are you one who eagerly awaits that day?


“Lo! He comes with clouds descending, once for favored sinners slain; thousand saints attending swell the triumph of His train. Alleluia! Alleluia! God appears on Earth to reign.
Every eye shall now behold Him, robed in dreadful majesty; those who set at naught and sold Him, pierced, and nailed Him to the tree, deeply wailing, deeply wailing, shall the true Messiah see.
Every island, sea, and mountain, heaven, and earth shall flee away. All who hate Him must, confounded, hear the trump proclaim the day: Come to judgement! Come to judgment! Come to judgment, come away!
Now redemption, long expected, see in solemn pomp appear! All His saints by man rejected now shall meet Him in the air. Alleluia! Alleluia! See the day of God appear!
(Verses 1-4 of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending, 1758)
 

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Oct 12, 2017

Surprised by Evil

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13


None of those who study and believe the Bible should be surprised by what happened in Las Vegas because we should not be surprised by evil or the prince of this world. In our daily battle against evil, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, a Stephen Paddock, or whatever vessel of Satan; “we wrestle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Did you think of this in your immediate response to Las Vegas? The law enforcement powers that are dealing with this human slaughter are looking for motive, for connections, for the “whys of this evil tragedy. Did he really convert to Islam and join ISIS, get buried in gambling debt, or suddenly turn psychopathic? What was it? These are truly irrelevant to the major impetus for this awful display of inhumanity: Satan at work in his present kingdom.
Media, law enforcement, bystanders, even Christian people do not put the burden of this on who it belongs. Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan, et al. is real! He is a factual entity which must be reckoned with, acknowledged, seen, felt as real as the air you breathe or the water you drink. But we too often feel we can deal easier with the physical world than we can with the spiritual. We can incarcerate or electrocute someone in the physical world and deal with it, but the evil deed will already be history; we do not prevent it. So how do we deal with Satan and his minions?
We can pass very strict gun laws to take guns off the street! How did that work for Chicago? If we could afford it, we could put police everywhere – every building, floor, and corner. Would we prevent mayhem from happening? How do you do anything to prevent Satan from doing what he does best: making sure evil prevails, evil destroys, evil kills, evil wins?
We must combat spiritual forces with spiritual defenses. We must use the spiritual tools God has directed to divert the arrows of the evil one. We must be encouraged by the promises of God to overcome his constant stalking rather than thinking nothing can be done. We must believe in Satan’s promised demise. Not everyone will be saved. But you can be. Your loved ones can be spared. Those you influence can be snatched from the path of the pestilence. Your example and voice can be truly life-saving. God promises the effectual impact of a righteous person and their tireless prayers, the heart penetration of steadily proclaiming Gospel truth, the abundant harvest of always planting spiritual seeds in other lives.
Faith sees the success God says will be a reality to believers. Faith does not waver or concede defeat. Its vision of the battlefield is the same as God’s. It does not give in to the defeatism Satan seeks to sow in every mind that has not yet capitulated to his control. It grasps hold of God’s Word, hides it in its heart, brings it always to mind, and never gives the devil one little foothold. Faith practices Ephesians 6 by putting on the armor of God upon waking every morning, before going out the door, before ever facing the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Faith sees the whole world of reality – the physical and the spiritual. It is not concerned with the first death; it is only concerned to avoid the second death. It recognizes that believers need not be fearful of dying or seeing their loved ones pass into eternity. You may grieve for their temporary loss, but not as the unbelieving world grieves. You understand their location and their reality in the presence of Jesus. This is so if Stephen Paddock’s and Satan’s bullets took the life of your believing loved one. Satan has no control over the firm security of believers. There will be more Stephen Paddocks, there will be more Las Vegas incidents, there will be more tragic occurrences engineered by Satan and his evil cosmic forces. The Bible promises them. But it also promises the eternal safety and security of the believer. Their God and Savior ensures their eternal home and continuous fellowship with all the saints. If you are in Jesus Christ by your faith and your election, the Las Vegas incidents will never separate you from His love nor from your place in His home. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!


“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control: that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.
(2nd verse of Horatio Spafford’s hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul, 1873)

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Eye Of The Hurricane
Oct 03, 2017

In the Eye of the Storm

Last month, Hurricane Irma came crashing in with some of the strongest winds ever seen in an Atlantic hurricane, and maintaining category 5 intensity longer than any storm previous. It generated more power than the 8 named storms of the Atlantic hurricane season (Arlene-Harvey) that came before (including Hurricane Harvey), prompting seven million people to evacuate. It left about 5.6 million Florida residents, two-thirds of the state’s homes, were without power. The storm is responsible for at least 68 deaths in the Caribbean and the Southeast. It has been three weeks since the catastrophic storm, but many areas are still in ruins, and some people are still missing.
Reading statistics like this can make God seem distant and harsh. How could He allow such devastation? What good could possibly come from a parent losing their child, a child losing their parent, homes being destroyed, lives being uprooted, worlds being turned upside down?
Reflecting on all of this reminds me of Steve Saint’s story. Many of you are familiar with it, or rather the story of Jim Elliot. Steve’s father, Nate, was one of the five missionaries, including Jim Elliot, who were killed trying to evangelize the Huaorani people through efforts known as “Operation Auca. You may have seen the movie, End of the Spear, which told their story. Steve was only five years old when his father was brutally murdered by the Huaorani tribe. Nate, Jim, and their three friends knew that the Huaorani people were killing the employees of an oil company that was moving in on their land, but they didn’t know that the tribe habitually killed their own members. In fact, anthropologists have never studied a tribe with a higher homicide rate than the Huaorani, and more than 60% of the tribe’s members were speared to death or killed with machetes by their own people. In short, this was an extremely violent and deadly group of people that Nate and the crew were trying to reach for Jesus. After what seemed to be a promising start to their mission, all five missionaries were brutally speared and murdered with machetes then thrown in to the river to be eaten. Five-year-old Steve was left with confusion, heartbreak, and doubt when his mother told him that his father wasn’t returning home.
But Steve’s story doesn’t stop there. Years later, after three sons, his wife gave birth to a little girl. When she went away to college, a group called Youth for Christ asked her to travel around the world with them for a year and share the Gospel. Steve did not want her to go; he wanted her home with him. Nonetheless, she left, and the painful year of separation for Steve came and went. The day they picked her up from the Orlando airport was a joyous one, and they headed home for her welcome home party. During the party, she retired to her bedroom with a headache. Steve and his wife left everyone else celebrating their daughter’s return and went to be with her in her room. As Steve was holding her in his arms and praying for her aloud, she had a massive cerebral hemorrhage. When they got to the hospital, the doctors told Steve and his wife that there was no hope for recovery for their only daughter, their baby girl.
Steve has had a hard life. I don’t think anyone would deny that after hearing his story. However, he has one of the most radically challenging views on suffering that I have ever encountered. He says,
“If we are going to emulate our Savior, we have to identify with the people to whom we take his good news. I don’t advocate that we look for suffering; life brings enough of it on its own. But what I do advocate is that suffering is an important prerequisite to ministering to hurting people. Christ took on our likeness and subjected himself to the suffering that plagues us. I am convinced that we should not make heroic efforts and expend vast resources like the rest of our society does to avoid suffering. Not only would a willingness to experience hurt give us credibility with suffering people, but it would also give God a special opportunity to prove his sufficiency to meet our needs. As [C.S. Lewis] said, ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’
I like the way Steve says it above, but he is simply reiterating James 1:2-4, which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Our human nature hates any kind of suffering because it is uncomfortable. Of course, we would rather our loved ones and ourselves be safe, happy, and thriving. The reality is, however, that many of us tuck God away when things are going well in our lives. We feel like we have things under control, so we don’t think we need Him as much…until things get bad, and then we run back to Him. James says that trails should make us joyous! They draw us close to God and make us more like Him. That is a good thing, not something we should avoid at all costs like we tend to do!
Steve poses a great question: “Why is it that we want every chapter to be good when God promises only that in the last chapter He will make all the other chapters make sense, and He doesn’t promise we’ll see that last chapter here? When the literal and metaphorical hurricanes come crashing into our lives, we must remind ourselves that we don’t have the whole picture, but God does. It may not make sense to us now, but we can trust that He is using our trials to sanctify us because He loves us. This doesn’t negate the pain of our sufferings and losses, but it does give purpose to them. Not only do we gain the privilege of growing closer to and more like God in a way that we wouldn’t be able to if we had not experienced our pain, but we also discover the ability to empathize with other hurting individuals and show them the love of Christ in a new way. We can understand their hurt, and we know Who to point them to. Hold on to His assured hope and embrace your ability to love others in a new way!


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Oct 02, 2017

Humor in Jesus

“Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God…” Hebrews 2:17


And Jesus threw back his head and roared with laughter! Can you see this as true from what you have read concerning Jesus and who the Scriptures tell us He was and is? Was Jesus a man who knew and practiced humor? Well, the Scriptures do not tell us much or possibly even nothing of any humor which Jesus displayed. You might possibly see it in some of His parables where the numbers are used to get a glint of humor, but you have to be very acquainted with the numbering terms of ancient Israel as Jesus’ hearers were to catch His humor, possibly in the use of certain exaggerated sums of money or debt expressed in these parables.
Yet the New Testament accounts of Jesus are reluctant to express explicit accounts of His humor. They did not seem to fit into the more serious accounts of Jesus’ most important encounters. And the lighter moments of His relationships with his disciples and friends are simply not recorded by Jesus’ eyewitnesses, possibly because they were not seen as crucial or of such great importance to the narrative.
Hebrews 2:17 says, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God…” Humor is a natural proclivity for human beings and for Jesus as long as the humor itself is pure. Laughter emanates from the human creature God made. So, if Jesus is like His brothers in every respect, He is, in His being a man, one who possesses sinless humor, even if not written about. When you understand the cultural background, His parables can speak of humor in the results. For example, the contrasts drawn from different amounts of debt owed and paid, the insiders’ snub of an invite to a huge special event and then an invite to outsiders in particular offered while the insiders’ invite is withdrawn, etc.
The greatest evidence is the statement that Jesus is made into a being who is the same as His fellow creatures yet without sin. Pure humor is sinless, so Jesus had humor like we who recognize humor and laugh; sometimes we are so bemused we laugh until we cry! I well imagine Jesus did, too, despite the knowledge of judgment to be yet reckoned upon the earth’s unforgiven population, explaining Jesus’ tears when He saw the city of Jerusalem in the Triumphal Entry prior to His crucifixion. Our likeness to Him and His likeness to us all points to a humor which dwelt in Jesus as well as us. Jesus laughed with great joy. He will laugh at the marriage feast of the Lamb and on into eternity with His brothers and sisters. Laughter is an expression of joy. It is one of the ways redemption is acknowledged. It is one of the expressions of a heavy load being lifted off your spirit.
Though nothing seems to be written that tells us clearly that Jesus laughed, you can be sure He did as His Spirit is acquainted with ours, and He is like us, yet without sin. God created us with humor. Have you ever played the game “Don’t Laugh? We always end up laughing even though we try our hardest not to. Humor is bred deep within our spirit. So it is with our Savior.
It will be a grand experience to laugh face-to-face with our Redeemer and know how much He loves and enjoys us. Jesus not only cried, but He laughed and will laugh with us in eternity where we will have no tears.


“Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness; no harshness hast thou and no bitterness. Make us to taste the sweet grace found in thee and ever stay in thy sweet unity.”
(4th verse of John Calvin’s hymn in the Strasbourg Psalter, “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art,” 1545)
 

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