Payh Blog
Beautiful Evening Skyscape
Jan 29, 2018

Outdoing the Super Bowl

“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


The record number of viewers for a Super Bowl is around 115 million-ish. A brief thirty second Super Bowl ad during this event last year actually cost $5 million, a huge expenditure for every second of air time. As an American, you might think this is the biggest TV spectator event in the world, but you would be wrong. The final game of the last World Cup in soccer was viewed by over a billion people world-wide. But probably topping that was a recent India-Pakistan cricket game, and it was not even the final game of that world championship tournament. It drew even more viewers than the World Cup, over a billion, with nearly 300 million watching in India alone. From what we as humans know and observe, this is quite phenomenal.
Could any other world event top these? What about an event which every eye of the world population will view? Is there such a thing? Is it even possible? In homes or shacks with no television? The Scriptures predict such. If this is the case, you can count on it, whether or not you are still alive when it takes place. Come to think of it, all those who have been long dead or have ever lived in human history, along with all those who are currently living, will view it together. Such is, at least, the assured prediction of God’s inerrant Word! Is this merely a two millennia old prophecy by a disciple of an itinerant First Century teacher and alleged miracle worker? How certain can you be of the accuracy of this prophecy by the apostle named John?
The last living apostle of Jesus Christ wrote this in the last decade of the First Century. He received the information by means of a vision he had on a currently-Greek island of tiny proportion named Patmos, very close to the coast of present-day Turkey. I have been there and viewed the cave where he allegedly lived and wrote the book with the name “Revelation or “The Apocalypse, the final book of the Bible. I believe that not only did the Apostle John write this, but I also believe it is fully trustworthy and accurate in its prediction. Billions of others, fellow saints, down through the ages share this same belief.
If this is true, as I believe it is, there is no other comparable event of world history. In fact, it is the culmination of history. All history comes to a close with the return of Jesus Christ, viewed by all peoples of every tribe, language, and nation. No one who is or ever was will be exempt. There is nothing so phenomenal! You will see it! And you will be one of two, and only two, types of spectators. You will either wail and mourn because of Him, or you will receive Him with overwhelming gladness and eager expectation! What no one will do is ignore Him. Such will be impossible! For Scripture says, “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
What does this prophecy do for you when you read it? What do you see in your mind? Can your imagination even conjure up what John saw when this was presented to his eyes? Can the eyes of faith capture this moment that is yet coming? It is surely worth your concerted meditation. It ought to transform your view of the future for certain. But shouldn’t it also transform your life in the present? Especially when the final words of Revelation proclaim, “Surely, I am coming soon! I know this was first said 2,000 years ago. But for you now, not more than a generation, nor more than 10, 20, 30, or 40 years away from fulfillment or your entering His presence through death, will be soon enough. The parables of those who watch and wait, like those in Matthew 24-25, are quite instructive for your present life in getting ready for that earth-shaking, earth-ending event.
The prophetic certainty of what is ahead should be the greatest incentive to prepare for what is just around the corner, sooner than you or I can imagine. When it does take place, in the twinkling of an eye, all preparations are done! This warning is paramount. “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“Great God, what do I see and hear? The end of things created! The Judge of mankind doth appear on clouds of glory seated! The trumpet sounds; the graves restore the dead which they contained before. Prepare, my soul, to meet Him.
(1st verse of “Great God, What Do I See and Hear, 1802)
 

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Human hands open palm up worship
Jan 24, 2018

With Fear and Trembling

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… Philippians 2:12


“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. What? Are you not to “cast out fear in your life? Does God really give to you and want you to have a spirit of fear? No, according to Scripture. Are there then contradictory elements to the instruction given you in Scripture? How is it you are to eschew fear in your life and yet work out your own salvation with fear and trembling? Are we missing something here?
When it comes to fear, I believe we are confusing the fear we are not to have with the fear we ought to embrace. It all has to do with whom you fear: God or man? Proverbs emphasizes that the beginning of wisdom in you is based in your fear of God. Unfortunately, the fear of man is what besets your path with snares and pitfalls and drives you to unholy distractions. To “fear God and obey His commandments is the whole duty of man, according to wise King Solomon.
“Fear has to do with whom you are concerned about with a supreme priority. Who has the most, all-powerful influence in your life? Who really controls your destiny? Who has the say with genuine authority and capability as to whether you live or die, succeed or fail, prosper or stumble? Our natural instinct is that specific men or women in your life impact you the most. Faith recognizes that only one really has such power and authority: your God, the One who made you, not as in an assembly line production, but with personal, intimate knowledge and purpose.
But faith wanes and waxes in you. The immediate squeaky wheel gets the grease. We tend to put more focus upon flesh and blood – those whom you can see, touch, handle, etc. Unless your faith is strong and being refreshed continually, you will fear man before you ever fear God. A boss can fire, a spouse can irritate; there are people in your life who will consume your attention. God your Father, the Lord Jesus, and the Spirit of God are not preeminent in your thought, conversation, or attention.
Fear most has to do with who has your undivided attention. It is not that he, she, or they have every bit of your attention, but it is who is primary. Who do you always return to on a continual basis? None of us are omnipresent, nor omniscient; we are limited in our ability to relate and converse to multiple persons at the same time.
But you can have a relationship with One which can flourish even when we are relating to multiple others over a specific time period. You can really have such a living relationship with your Master and Lord, one which is continual and vibrant. Such means that you, in a beneficial and quality manner, fear the One you truly love.
You have a fear for your spouse when you do not wish to disappoint them, when you respect them, when you fear for their safety and well-being, when you earnestly desire their very best. So it is with God when you fear Him. He gets the attention of which He is fully worthy. Fear God and consequently do what He desires of you. As His child, this is your whole duty and purpose.
Tremble with the thought you could ever lose Him. Such is not possible. Yet your fear of God and your overwhelming love for Him can create a trembling in you at the very thought of not being eternally secure in the arms of your Savior, which is to say, it is the most important thing in your whole being. This is what it is to work out your salvation with fear and trembling: “I must have Him, or I die!


“Bowed down beneath a load of sin, by Satan sorely pressed, by wars without and fears within, I come to thee for rest.
(3rd verse of John Newton’s hymn, “Approach, My Soul, the Mercy Seat, 1779)
 

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Young pregnant woman looking at ultrasound scan of baby
Jan 19, 2018

Sanctity of Human Life

It feels bizarre that we have a day to remember the unborn babies lost to abortion. What I mean is that it is so counterintuitive because mothers shouldn’t kill their children. That is a basic rule of nature. God created us to grow, birth, and nurture our children; it’s the way the world was supposed to function. But then Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree and sin entered the world, spreading like wildfire. Fast forward to January 22, 1973 when the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. We have reached a point in our society that people literally murder their children and fight to keep this evil practice legally and socially acceptable. Because of this disturbing reality, we remember the millions of innocent lives lost to abortion on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
The Bible is full of verses advocating for the “pre-born. Psalm 139 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb…My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Jeremiah 1:5 states, “Before I formed you in your mother’s body I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart to serve me. Isaiah 49:1,5 says, “The Lord called me from the womb…formed me from the womb to be his servant.” Psalm 127:3 assures us, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
It is clear in these verses that the Lord values individuals even in the womb, and He calls us to do the same. Proverbs 31:8 challenges us, “Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Speak up for the rights of all those who are poor.” Proverbs 24:11 says, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death… Isaiah 58:6 says, “Set free those who are held by chains without any reason. Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves. Set free those who are crushed. Break every evil chain.
We cannot be silent. We cannot turn our eyes when we know these God-breathed lives are being taken so violently and unjustly. These are image-bearers of God, and they cannot defend themselves. We must protect them.
So today we celebrate God’s gift of life, and we recognize Him as the Giver of Life who blesses us with not only life here on Earth, but also with eternal life in Heaven with Him. We take today to commemorate the innocent lives lost to abortion; we will not forget these children of God. We commit ourselves to the Lord’s command to protect human life at every stage; we resolve to fight for the helpless. And finally, we pray that one day we won’t need a Sanctity of Human Life Sunday anymore as the sacredness of life in the womb is respected by all.


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Thick Morning Fog In The Summer Forest
Jan 15, 2018

2017? Now Just A Vapor!

“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2


2017 is history. The year has gone and is but a memory. Things about this year are still remembered – not all, but some. Still, nothing can be changed about 2017. Words cannot be withdrawn or re-spoken. They can be repented of, but what is said, is said. Actions cannot be redone; they are past. Deeds are just as they were performed, unalterable. No wonder the wise king says, “All is vanity.
What does “vanity really mean? Variously it connotes brevity and a lack of permanence; the moment comes and the moment passes. Vanity is a breath, a vapor, like the warm breath from your lungs on a bitterly cold day condensing before you in a small visible cloud, and then, poof, it is gone.
The enactment of any moment may seem like a lifetime when in the midst of it, but in the larger context of continually-moving-forward-life, the moments passed are just a vapor. Even considering the course of one’s entire life effort to produce something concrete and permanent, one generational life span of work is still but a tiny, quickly fading blip on the radar screen of human history.
Who remembers another’s life effort as the centuries pass? History records a little bit of it momentarily, but even history is changed in its interpretation. The meaning, the emphases, the character is revised into something it was not.
Who remembers then? God does! Who records accurately? God does! Who holds the words spoken, the deeds done, good or bad, with the thorough judgment of each? God does! No one else is able, no one else is capable, no one else is just, no one else is merciful. God takes what is vanity, what is vapor, and writes truth or lies, justice or injustice, forgiveness or judgment upon it.
King Solomon, after rendering everything as vanity, asks what is the end, the conclusion, of all this. The answer: Live fearing God and keeping His commandments, for this is the entire duty assigned to you. For God will judge everything – every deed, every word, every intention, every secret thing. His mercy is your salvation, and His justice is done to perfection; justice alone will slay you, mercy redeems. It is the only permanence rising above vanity.
God provides sanity to life. He is the One who gives purpose and meaning to living. All is vanity apart from the God who creates, who judges, who redeems. He gives the reason for being; He Himself is the reason to be!
2017 a vapor? In the end that is a mercy. But what should be preserved of your 2017 will be in accord with fearing God and keeping His commandments. I do not think you really want anything else retained.


“A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone, short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.
The busy tribes of flesh and blood, with all their lives and cares, are carried downwards by the flood and lost in foll’wing years.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be thou are guard while troubles last and our eternal home.
(verses 5, 6, and 9 of Isaac Watts’ hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past, 1719)
 

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New Year 2018
Jan 09, 2018

Enews: Jan. 2018

Looking Forward to a New Year

Caleb-ThumbnailIt was an active and eventful holiday season for the young men and staff at PAYH. While Thanksgiving and Christmas are always enjoyable times to be with our PAYH family, for me a highlight of the year is watching our young men in the PAYH Christmas Play. It’s always entertaining to see them on stage, interact with them backstage before and after the play, see their excitement and nervousness prior to being in front of a large crowd, and their pride and relief following their performance. It’s a joyful way to begin the Christmas season.
We are looking forward to the experiences and challenges a new year brings. We are continuing to improve and expand parts of our program, as we strive to provide more individualized care for our young men and their families. We are planning on adding courses to our vocational training this spring, beginning with an introductory wood shop class. Currently, several of our young men are in their second semester studying welding and are working toward their second certification. Training has begun for the Chick-fil-A Road Race in March, where about half our young men will compete in the 10k race and the other half in the 5k. It’s encouraging to see them push themselves physically as they strive toward their goal of finishing among the top runners.
As we move into 2018, I hope you’ll continue to partner with us in prayer as we undertake the calling God has placed on our lives – to plant His Word in the hearts of young men and make an eternal difference.
A changed life is priceless!
Caleb Leonard, Administrator

Stories from the Home

Big-House-Frozen-Fountain-Small
The fountain in front of the big house was frozen solid as the snow began to fall.

The young men enjoyed a number of interesting activities during their time off from school. They made wreaths and gingerbread houses, played laser tag, raced go karts, and even participated in a “survivor competition that included building primitive huts with no tools.
The following week, temperatures plunged and, on January 3rd, the PAYH campus was blanketed in a light covering of snow. The water fountain out front was frozen solid, and our young men (some of whom had never seen snow) had a blast playing in the snow.

Upcoming Event

Race-logo-10k-5k-1-mileWhether you’re a competitive runner or enjoy a casual stroll, there’s a place for you at the 3rd Annual Chick-fil-A Vidalia Road Race. Benefiting both PAYH and Winshape Camps in Vidalia, the race is already on track to raise more than $25,000 for these two ministries this year. Sign up at RunVidalia.com and visit the race’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/RunVidalia.
For sponsorship information, contact Victoria Shuman at 912-537-7237 or vshuman@payh.org.


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Countdown to midnight
Jan 09, 2018

We Are Like Grass

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord lasts forever. Isaiah 40:8


New Year? What does a new year say to you? Is this transition like any other day? 2018 will deliver to your life something. What will it be?
Time, you know, moves continuously without any interruption. If we were marooned on an uninhabited island with no capability of communication and no means to track it, time would still move forward, even if we did not know what day, month, or year it was. The calendar is but a device of man to organize what we label “time. This has served us well for millenniums despite different and various calendars of time past.
So we move into a new year with no hitch or stutter in time, no stoppage to linger at 11:59 pm just to remain in 2017. We continue right on into 2018 whether or not we want to.
Time has moved forward for man since Adam took his first breath and will not stop or change until the Lord returns and begins a new time era, with different parameters, called eternity. The only time time stuttered is when the Lord caused the sun to reverse a little. In this life, time is shown by the fact that we age, we experience growing older and our health deteriorating. But in eternity, we apparently will know nothing of this.
Furthermore, we experience no immediate or drastic change by moving from 2017 into 2018; only by the calendar we are one year older, and as time marches forward, so does your arthritis or whatever malady age brings. I had lunch with a 104-year-old Christian man very recently. He responded younger and healthier than many in their late seventies. Time is in itself variable to each of us, though none now live beyond, say, 130 years.
In the midst of the inexorable march of time, like an ever-rolling stream, is there anything unchangeable, unmovable, as an anchor, a real reference point, something which gives meaning to life in the vicissitudes of time as all changes?
The speed of change is seen in the seasons: the blooming and dying of a flower, the lushness and withering of grass, the budding and dropping of leaves. And the Lord tells us we are as the grass or flowers! We bloom, then we wither and die! Not in a season, but rather seasons. However, there is a “but to all this.
“But the Word of the Lord never changes; it endures forever. Its truth is firm and unmovable. Whatever it predicts happens. Whatever it says is never diminished. It is always true and accurate altogether. It never grows old. It never dies. Rather, it flourishes!
You may say, “But eventually I die, and the Word of the Lord doesn’t speak to me anymore. Oh, yes it does! It speaks to your eternal being in hell or in heaven. This is the reason, the motivation, the encouragement to make the study of God’s Word the most important endeavor of your life. All else is secondary. You can never truly say the study and meditation of God’s Word is a waste of time.
You need to make this new year one to concentrate on the study of and reading of God’s Word more than your last year. You need to become disciplined in the use of your time or it will slip away; it stops for nothing. Time marches on whether it is well used or wasted. You cannot get it back. You can only use it better in the future.
Give your time to that which is the best use of it. Give it to something which is eternal, never changes, is always true, and always promises a rich reward. Read it, listen to it, study it, meditate on it. Make Psalm 1 your reality!


“Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
(6th verse of Isaac Watt’s hymn, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past, 1719)
 

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Three Wise Men Camel Travel Desert Bethlehem Concept
Jan 03, 2018

Distinguished Foreign Visitors

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him. Matthew 2:1-2


Shepherds came from a nearby hillside to worship the newborn baby whom angels announced. Quite a birth announcement! Months later a number of scholars, astronomers, and advisors to kings, called “magoi, came on a long, arduous, and dangerous journey to pay homage to this same “King of Kings in a poor, obscure village named Bethlehem; this was not a birth place in which you would expect to discover someone like Jesus, now a toddler. It was a very long trip by these men, most likely upon camels, for a brief encounter. We do not know exactly what length of time they actually stayed, but it was probably a short visit, maybe, so as not to attract undue attention.
God sent these two groups of visitors to witness the birth, the incarnation of His Son, though the complete understanding of men concerning this was yet in its infancy, so to speak. One group from the Jews, one from the Gentiles. One representing Israel, the race of the Messiah, and one representing the remainder of the world. They were brought by two very different, yet most supernatural means to see and celebrate the One who was sent to be the Savior of men. Most likely the guiding “star of these Magi was akin to the pillar of fire which led the Children of Israel in the wilderness in their escape from Egypt.
These distinguished men, for they were accomplished and very close to royalty, had to undertake a journey of months for this baby was already possibly over a year old, at least somewhere under two years old according to Herod’s evil calculation and design to protect his fraudulent claim to be the sole “King of the Jews. To protect his place on the throne he ordered that all baby boys two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem be slaughtered by his soldiers.
These men brought Jesus and His parents at least three mentionable gifts of particular symbolism, having researched who He was and would be, for He would be a prophet, priest, and king; so, frankincense, myrrh, and gold. These men were very probably greater than three, maybe as much as five or six, or even seven or eight. The conjectured traditional number of Magi stems only from the three gifts spoken of in Scripture.
Almost certainly these were chief members of a group of scholars/researchers/scientists-in-residence once led by Daniel, who was living in exile from Israel, and had been appointed by the Babylonian king the chief of these “magoi. Daniel’s influence on this group was great and his spiritual example and instruction lasted for generations, for God had previously promised, “up to a thousand generations of those who love me and obey my commandments. All of this to prepare for centuries after Daniel to come to worship the promised One, and hence be willing to commence a very long journey to actually see Him who was born King of the Jews. It had to be the most important thing to their minds and hearts to make this trip. This was a preparation engineered by God over centuries, coinciding with His promise from the beginning of time that He would one day “in the fullness of time send a Redeemer.
Eventually we will have the joy of meeting and fellowshipping with these wise men and personally hear their story, as we will hear the shepherds’ story. The concise accounts of Scripture will be fleshed out by them to cover every fascinating detail of the most stupendous event of history: the Son of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
These distinguished foreigners and these humble shepherds are universally known in the Christmas story celebrated all over the world by those from every tribe, race, and language. Countless pictures, re-creations, and movies depict the nativity scene with shepherds and even, though wrong chronology, wise men or “kings throughout the world and in every generation. There is no story which enjoys the same notoriety as the Christmas story with its accompanying carols and memorable music. No one can create a story like God did in sending His Son in the unique way He did. No story has become so remarkable as the manner in which the Savior of the world entered it.
Can any who refuse to believe the Gospel declare complete ignorance as their excuse? In any case, Romans 1 tells us unequivocally that no one is without excuse. How that is possible rests with the integrity and justice of God. The truth of Advent is Jesus came to us as promised, and salvation for us lies in receiving Him as the Savior, the only way to God the Father. We have now at this end of 2017 once more celebrated a season of Advent, a special reminder to thank and praise our God for the gift of His Son.


“Sages, leave your contemplations; brighter visions beam afar. Seek the great desire of nations; we have seen His natal star. Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn King.
(3rd verse of James Montgomery’s hymn, “Angels, From the Realms of Glory, 1816)
 

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