Payh Blog
White burning candle for the first advent
Nov 29, 2017

Advent

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5


We celebrate Advent beginning this Sunday, 2,017 years from close to the birth of the Savior. The Word “advent, you know, means “coming, referring to the first coming of Messiah and today His “coming again, as the Bible promises. The promise of His first coming was fulfilled precisely as the Scriptures said. Why then would His promised second coming not happen? Simeon and Anna, both mature in the faith and in old age, representing all the patient waiters in the centuries before them, yearned for Jesus’ birth for most of their lives. Observing Advent today through the example of saints in years past is an excellent way to encourage you to look for His coming. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
This “fullness of time covers millenniums of human history, from the creation of the world and from Adam and Eve to the birth of Jesus. Advent, the beginning season of the Church Year, depicts centuries of patient waiting for the fulfillment of a promise, Genesis 3:15; that is, the seed of the serpent is purposefully in great battle with the seed of the woman until the great serpent, the devil, is crushed by the promised seed of Eve, Jesus Christ, on a crucifixion-cross on Mount Calvary, just outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem.
This verse is the first promise of the Gospel found in the Scriptures, called the “protoevangelion, the first evangel. It is a sure promise which initiated Advent. From man’s perspective, it proved to be a nearly interminable time encompassing many, many years of battle and darkness in which faithful believers yearned anxiously for the coming of the light – the light of a star accompanying the appearance of Jesus, who would Himself be the “light of the world, even lending that light to the amazing star.
The truths of Advent can be gleaned from the myriad events, prophets, and signs which down through the years of the Old Testament era purposefully pointed to the remarkable events at Bethlehem when God sent His Son into the world. There are numerous texts for your meditation on Jesus’ promised coming and numerous more on the promise of His return. All encourage us in our response to Philippians 3:20: “…from which you eagerly await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to “eagerly wait?
Don’t you think eagerly waiting means reminding yourself what the Word of God says concerning both His coming and coming again, as well as what kind of behavior He desires in you as you wait? This is the focus of Advent, even more so than the fun accessories of Christmas festivities. Enjoy your traditions, but think on His coming! Make it your aim to acquaint your heart and mind with both comings of your Lord. And pray for His Advent.
There are four weeks of the Advent season to tune your heart to meditate on His birth and His return. Too much attention to family Christmas activities and not enough fellowship with just you and your Savior about His coming does not equal time well spent. Make some of those family gatherings centered on speaking to one another about Jesus’ birth and His return. Turn the conversation to that which is vital about what truly lies ahead in your and your family’s lives. Jesus is coming! You can be sure about that!


“Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free. From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art, dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
(1st verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, 1744)

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Fedd
Nov 27, 2017

Help Feed Me!

 
 

6,600 calories per day!

Our young men need plenty of food to make it through our physically intense program. In fact, our food bill runs in excess of $82,000 per year. This year, as part of our Giving Tuesday initiative, one of the faithful Redcoats of the FMEC has agreed to match your gifts up to $25,000, and our board has agreed to match an additional $10,000. Will you give a priceless gift this year and help feed these hungry young men? Your gift can change lives for eternity.
A changed life is priceless!


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Happy Thanksgiving Day
Nov 21, 2017

Satiety

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Isaiah 55:2


Is there such a thing as being too full? You bet there is! We have all felt the awful feeling of eating too much. But when the food is to die for, when it is prepared to perfection, when it is a special holiday like Thanksgiving, we are ripe for the excuse, “I can eat to my belly’s over-satisfaction today. I will go on a diet tomorrow! But we usually regret it later.
Our stomach has its limitations. Our body variably gives us warnings, unlike horses who get into too much grain, eat beyond full, and end up foundering. But when the food is what we yearn for and there is plenty of it, we have a hard time putting down the fork sooner than later and saying, “Enough!
Today is a day of feasting in many households with family and loved ones. Most all have their favorite dishes which they anticipate being a part of the Thanksgiving meal. Plates are piled high with food from more than enough different dishes for any one meal. How you leave room for any dessert is anyone’s guess! Somehow you can make room for pumpkin pie with whipped cream, pecan pie, bread pudding, carrot or red velvet cake, and any number of fruit pies or cobblers. Oh, the weight you will put on. But it is, after all, a special occasion meant for feasting. Can’t hardly escape it!
Physical over-eating is certainly very doable. We can do it more than we care to admit. But is it just as possible to over-eat spiritually? Can we ever feed on the Scriptures too much? Can we spend too much time in prayer? Can we get too much of Christ? Will our spirit ever get too full of what sanctifies the soul?
Good question, but I think we all know the answer to it. No, we can never get too much of truly spiritual food and sustenance. There is never any danger of over-eating what our soul’s stomach aches for. If anything, we are normally starving for spiritual refreshment.
In this life the sanctifying process always has in it a yearning to be glorified, to be brought to the place of perfection, wondering if we will ever see the final end of sin. Some of us really yearn not to suffer the malady of sinning again and again. We wonder how many times we will trip. We often wonder if we will ever attain perfect and faithful love for the Savior, if the last vestige of sin will ever be crushed; in other words, no more tears, no more grief, no more anguish and pain brought on by sin.
Over-eating spiritually is not really our problem; under-eating is. There is in a fallen world that which fights earnestly for our appetites, which squelches the appetite and feeding of the soul. Time is a fixed resource which finds itself always in the midst of a battlefield.
We, by design, have a concrete resource of time and, no matter how you divide it up, it is always the same: 60 minutes, 24 hours, seven days, 12 months. Spiritual feeding requires a time choice. Physical feeding involves body-necessity. We do not eat, the physical body starves and eventually dies, as in eating disorders. Ironically, as well, if the spiritual is not fed, evil proliferates, and the soul starves also. Time is fixed, but a choice must be made in using it for both the physical necessities of life and the spiritual.
How much time to dress and get ready for the day? How much to prepare and eat? How much to work? How much to care for babies or children? How much to sleep? How much to recreate? Then, the question is, how much to read the Word, pray, and meditate? How much to witness to our faith? How much to worship, study, and fellowship with church family? Choices in the use of a fixed resource!
One can be overdone, and one fights for time. The heart determines how the time will be proportioned. You have to organize time to survive, physically and spiritually. But remember, one gets over-fed, and one is under-fed. A true disciple disciplines himself to balance the two as needed. He will not allow his soul to starve for lack of food. He desires greatly the abundance of soul-food.
It is a decision of faith which says, “I will make time for my Savior. I will draw near to God. I will give food to my soul! It is very aware of the physical demands of life but knows that the physical can and must be interwoven with what is spiritual, for we are both physical beings and spiritual. And then there also is time to discipline food for the soul alone. Choices? But I will not neglect the abundance of Him with whom I have most and preeminently to do!


“Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature, Son of God and Son of Man! Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.
(1st verse of anonymous hymn from German Songbook, “Fairest Lord Jesus, 1677)
 

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The word
Nov 08, 2017

The Universal Lying Habit

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44


During my college years, a new student came to our school at the beginning of winter semester and joined our winter track team. As we worked out on the outdoor circular wooden track built above the snow drifts below, we had opportunity to discuss our track backgrounds. We were shocked when our new teammate told us some of his running times for various races. They surprisingly were Olympic level times. If true, why had he come to our college? He most certainly should have been at a Division 1 school with a very high reputation for track. It turned out that he was, in fact, lying, and about far more in his life than just track.
Observing the typical behavior of the young men who come to the PAYH presents good evidence that lying is really a habitual human condition. In fact, it seems it is more the default practice than telling the truth. Believable lying does require certain skills, to be sure, but they are skills which are honed from early in life. Children learn lying skills from observing their parents and older siblings, as well as from others outside their home. They notice that lying well and convincingly is rewarding. They quickly surmise that you can best get what you want by lying more than choosing to be truthful. Telling the truth is pleasing to God, but if you are not well acquainted with Him and ignore His all-knowing and all-seeing presence, it is no firm preventative from fudging the truth. Better to lie.
Once finding that believable lying gets you what you like, lying becomes a habit. It is the thing you end up doing. Of course, it is simply imitating your father, Satan, the father of lies. It is not something you are trying to do, that is, imitating Satan. You never think this is what you are actually doing; it is what happens naturally because, being fallen, you incline to sin, not righteousness. You imitate him, not knowing that is what you are actually doing. Your thinking is never, “Am I pleasing to or am I defying God when I lie, or am I truly following Satan, and pleasing him? It is, “This is what I choose to do because I am the captain of my own soul and no one else can get inside my mind but me or really know I am lying, as I pull the wool over my hearers’ eyes and ears.
We learn when to lie to accomplish an end, and when it would be so obvious we are lying, we tell the truth. But always in our own thoughts is, “I will lie when it is most advantageous to me. You can scheme knowing that if everyone knows you are lying it will not be something with which you can get what you want. There are many who can sincerely look you in the eye, lie, and convince you they are genuinely telling the truth. You accept it until something causes you to doubt, and that doubt may never come. The more skill you have at lying, the more you can achieve your purposes. Some become near geniuses in perfecting their lying.
The catch is that there is always One who knows exactly what you are doing – the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He sees right through you. He sees into your heart, mind, and conscience. His grace and mercy is such that He will forgive a repentant heart and even bury your sin and truths best undisclosed in the depths of the sea. But when He knows it is most helpful for your salvation, He will disclose it, not to destroy you, but to best save you. When you come to know God intimately and lovingly, you know He is all-seeing, and you take that into account in all you say, think, and do. Your first thought then is always to please Him in all things, “doing everything to the glory of God!
The only way one can break the habit of lying is to draw near to God. He alone can break the power of sin. He alone can make truth dwell in you. He alone can guard the heart, mind, and tongue to only allow truth to be spoken and to cause the love of Him to saturate you thoroughly. This is the only means to eradicate lying from your practice. Only the power of God can really break the habit.
This is a habit you want to completely destroy. Not because others may find out you are a liar, even an occasional one, but because your first and primary purpose in all you do is to please Him. Others may not know what you think or do, but He is well aware. The knowledge of others about you is always secondary for which to be concerned and much less important than the personal knowledge of Him with whom you have to do! You want to be known by Him as a lover and protector of the truth. “Speaking the truth (always) in love. Sometimes the truth needs to remain, at least for a time, undisclosed to express real love to another. And sometimes it needs to be disclosed. The Spirit of God must be the arbiter in your mind and heart about godly tact concerning others, with genuine love being your motivator.
But commitment to the truth, especially about yourself, in all humility, should be your worthy goal. It is what should define you as a godly person. It is what you would wish people praise in you, though you do not seek their praise. It is what you hope God sees in you and for which He knows you. Liar or redeemed saint?


“O, to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be, let that grace now like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.
(3rd verse of Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, 1757)
 

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Woman feeling free in a beautiful natural setting
Nov 07, 2017

The Importance of Being Earnest-ly Thankful

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18


My father lived to be 98. In the last years of his life he expressed an earnest gratefulness to anyone who did anything for him. He could not tell them “thank you enough! This reflected a humility in being faithfully served by others when he could not do things for himself. You do not need to approach the age of 98 to practice such extravagant gratefulness to others. It ought to be a practice performed earnestly, that is, with sincere and heart-felt passion throughout the entirety of your life.
Unfortunately, we take far too much for granted and expect things to be done for us by others as a matter of course. We are; therefore, we deserve to be treated like we want to be treated, we think. Any expression of gratefulness is not a requirement to getting what we want.
What is earnest and genuine thanksgiving after all? First of all, it is the firm recognition and acceptance that you do not deserve anything. In fact, nothing is due to you because you simply are. If anything, though, you truly deserve only death! If this is not your thinking, you will have difficulty being earnest about humble thanks. Thanksgiving will actually not be the first response that comes to your mind. You are rather all about your rights, your entitlements, and what the “law says is your due. And no one can take that from you!
Earnest thanksgiving will not arise in your heart until you come to grips with your actual status in this life before Almighty God. You are a fallen sinner who deserves the wages of sin, the just punishment of being conceived and born in sin. You tend to think you are born an innocent, due all the rights of being a human being and, in your case, an American citizen. There are, you believe, certain entitlements you have and deserve simply because you are. You have been born into an “entitled life.
We learn this certainly as we grow up in an entitled society. My parents are only there to care for me, feed me, clothe me, provide for me. When I leave home others around me are responsible to recognize that I am someone who should be accorded certain deference and certain treatment, simply because “I am. Earnest thanksgiving never arises from such thinking; these thoughts are simply wrong if this is your attitude. In essence, no one owes you anything.
Your very nature, prone to sin, fights against the spontaneity to give earnest thanks; maybe a reluctant but polite expression, maybe a calculated expression to gain you something, or an appearance of thankfulness to maintain your reputation. But the truest expression of thanksgiving is done when you are alone, alone before God and only in His hearing, when you pour out your heart to your Savior and ask for an earnestly thankful heart. If in private, it will move to public!
A thankful spirit is born out of a correct view of yourself, which, if genuine, comes from your understanding of who God is and what He has said concerning you. Your standing (your righteousness) is as filthy rags. You are a “wretch as in the words of “Amazing Grace. If you fail to recognize it, you will never be earnestly thankful! A spirit of thankfulness is born from the crucible of humility. It is a humble spirit which produces gratefulness, and it produces it earnestly.
A person, of which there are many, who knows not a thankful spirit is to be pitied. He is a sad man in the course of his life, searching for lasting satisfaction but never attaining it. We were made initially to be thankful people, but sin ruined our spirits. An unthankful spirit is a sight worthy of tears (“Jesus wept, John 11:35) for they have no inkling what misery they invite into their lives by their lack of it. A vital mark of the genuine believer is he or she is a person characterized by joy…and earnest thanksgiving!
A thankful spirit is a healthy spirit. It rises above the vicissitudes, the evils, the genetic determinations that impact your life. It accepts and, yes, rejoices in the sovereign providence of God! He alone knows the path that you take. So, in the midst of any valley or any mountaintop, everything and anything, give spontaneous testimony of earnest thanksgiving. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


“Ten thousand thousand precious gifts my daily thanks employ; nor is the least a cheerful heart that tastes those gifts with joy.
(4th verse of Joseph Addison’s hymn, “When All Your Mercies, O My God, 1712)
 

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