Payh Blog
Mount Fansipan In Sapa, Vietnam
Mar 28, 2018

Creation Renewing

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. -Hosea 6:3


Mosquitos, humidity, heat, rain – all are a part of tropical Vietnam, but the moisture always renews a verdant, beautiful land. One season, dry, though briefer, is refreshed by the next, wet and longer. I was surprised when first flying in to Vietnam to a war that I saw so little signs of on the land. There was green everywhere, carpets of rice patties, tree-covered mountains, triple canopy jungle, and luxurious, sandy beaches unsullied then by man-made structures.
The dry season maintained the scars of war in the landscape; the wet season abundantly healed them. The long, thin country gave copious opportunity for a beautiful coastline dotted with spectacular beaches stretching almost endless miles while providing a border for the South China Sea.
What a beautiful, verdant land. Under God’s design, it self-recovers from ugly scars of war in a mere season. The dry season shows all the marks of weapons upon the land, whether metal track prints from tanks and armored personnel carriers, bomb and mortar craters, bullet splintered tree trunks, or the burn scars of battle fires.
Vietnam is unmistakably beautiful, and war cannot overcome God’s design to refresh and renew. Such also is the impact of His grace; His mercies are new every morning, not just on the earth, but in the sons of men who call out to Him for renewing grace. Just as the earth is restored, so are the souls of the weary when they turn by that grace to God.
We live in a fallen world of men and women weighed down by sin, a world at war whether or not a battle of nations is raging. There are real, spiritual principalities and powers of darkness waging war on the earth around the clock, never letting up for any respite which God Himself does not induce.
God’s design of how His creation works presents a powerful example of what He does for His image-bearers in the world, weary souls in their battle with sin and Satan, aching for spiritual refreshment and rest for tired bodies. He does this on earth in the form of sporadic oases, and beyond the grave, for those who are His, in an eternal condition of pain-free, tearless life.
As elsewhere in the world, the land of Vietnam is always renewing itself under the hand of Providence. In a similar manner, springs of grace and mercy rain down upon the souls of men; but with man, only as they call to Him through His appointed One, His divine Son. The creation sustains itself through God’s appointed natural laws; His salvation of man comes also through an appointed means, making use by faith of the sacrifice of His Son to atone for your sin. Men and women on both sides of the war of nations are transformed into true brothers and sisters. The creation blossoms in radiant colors, while they become new and clean through His blood.
The observation of this remarkable creation highlights the amazing transformation of men’s souls. It is dramatic to witness the change in a person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ. Battle scars are thoroughly healed, attitudes are transformed, and people are made new.


“God, all nature sings Thy glory, and Thy works proclaim Thy might; ordered vastness in the heavens, ordered course of day and night; beauty in the changing seasons, beauty in the storming sea; all the changing moods of nature praise the changeless Trinity.
But our sins have spoiled Thine image; nature, conscience only serve as unceasing, grim reminders of the wrath which we deserve. Yet Thy grace and saving mercy in Thy Word of truth revealed claim the praise of all who know Thee, in the blood of Jesus sealed.
(1st and 3rd verses of David Clowney’s hymn, “God, All Nature Sings Thy Glory, 1960)
 

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Dry grass at the field outside Siem Reap
Mar 21, 2018

The Killing Fields

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick, who can understand it? -Jeremiah 17:9


What an enormous blight on civilization! There are too many such stains to count, but among the greatest are the Killing Fields of Cambodia. Unfortunately, there are so many in this ahistorical modern society who are completely unaware that such even took place. They are oblivious, and all the more dumb for their lack of true knowledge.
Little did the US Congress know when they voted to turn tail and run by ceasing all presence of our forces in South Vietnam and all resource support to our close friends and allies, the South Vietnamese, that they would thereby unleash monsters, communist extremists, on the vulnerable Kingdom of Cambodia right next door. Millions of Cambodian peoples were savagely slaughtered resulting in what are now labeled “The Killing Fields.
Any defense powerful enough and willing enough to stop this senseless, horrific mass murder, nearly comparable with the Holocaust leveled by Nazi Germany or the slaughter of many more millions by Stalin, was removed from this area when the US Congress capitulated. Many of those in Congress, unfortunately, never acknowledged their perfidy in not more honorably concluding the war in Vietnam, which had spilled over into Cambodia. The Killing Fields numbered 1.7 million slaughtered, and that is a very conservative number. Some really estimate 3 million.
The powerless UN only brought a handful of those responsible, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, up for charges. Pol Pot himself allegedly died in his sleep at the age of 72, being allowed by the world community to escape justice in this life, but never before the Judge of All!
We are accurately appalled when a mass murder in America reaches into the teens or even fifties of victims murdered, but what about these horrendous genocides of millions of men, women, and children? The evil is unspeakable! And yet these depravities happen, proving man’s own total depravity, and his inability or lack of any great commitment to bring truly evil men to justice.
There are many folks who come to Cambodia today to see the place where these men, if they can be called such, gruesomely tortured and slaughtered fellow human beings of all ages. What do these observers think and what do they ponder as they stand there observing, knowing what transpired there?
You can visit the torture compounds and gas chambers of the Holocaust, the places where millions are buried in mass graves in Eastern Europe, the result of Stalin’s orders, or the trench dug mass graves of thousands murdered by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong in Hue and elsewhere. Such graves are found all over the world and most recently in Syria and Iraq at the hands of the murderous thugs called ISIS.
There is no let up. Man shows no evidence of getting any better. The only answer is to find the sole means of escape from man’s all-encompassing problem: a sinful heart and soul! As these horrendous examples of man’s evil depict, the sin-disease is as deep and wide and thorough as the imagination can flow. Only the cross can cut through this utter darkness to provide a genuine answer to the massive weight crushing the world.
When we survey the evil, all we can say is, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus! And set us free!


“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. One little word shall fell him.
(3rd verse of Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, 1529)
 

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An old illuminated underground tunnel stretching into the darkness
Mar 14, 2018

An Elusive Enemy

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. -2 Corinthians 11:14


At any given time in the Vietnam War, especially daytime, an entire army was out of sight, hidden underground in myriads of tunnels throughout South Vietnam. The enemy, Vietcong or North Vietnamese soldiers, were expert tunnelers. They could perfectly hide the entrance to tunnels which housed deep-underground personnel barracks, hospitals, ammo caches, food kitchens, and/or supply warehouses. Their penchant for the use of tunnels made them an elusive army which could strike lethally anywhere in the country, in small or larger units.
Satan is just like that. He perpetuates an elusiveness that can penetrate the defenses of his victims with alarming effectiveness. As C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters shows with comedic and shrewd efficiency, Satan has studied his target with cunning thinking and knows how to destroy his male or female targets with seeming ease. Were it not for God on the side of those who trust in Him, Satan would overwhelm you with his arrows of evil.
I remember well the tunnels “Charlie, the Vietcong, used effectively and elusively in Vietnam. We are visiting one of the largest tunnel complexes in the country between Saigon and the Mekong Delta, Cu Chi. But of the many we discovered in my part of the war, there were so many more we never located. The enemy was out in force many nights, but at the first sign of dawn they melted away into the myriad tunnel networks throughout the land where they could not be seen.
Similarly, we rarely see or even sense Satan and his minions as they worm their way into our lives and lusts and proclivities for sin. Jesus warns us of the devil’s warring methods against us; the Word of God minces no words in stating the necessity of our defenses and weapons needed to defeat him. He does not show himself to us as he did Jesus in the wilderness, but under the cover of darkness and disguise, he charades himself as an angel of light, while lunging for the jugular.
Before we are even aware, he too often has us on the ground for the count. If he elicits guilt, you are embarrassed, seemingly destroyed, utterly weakened. If you are already the prisoner of evil, he may leave you alone to enable you to destroy yourself. But if you are a believer, he becomes a stalker of your very soul. 1 Peter 5:8 urges us, “Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary, the devil, prowls around as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
You do have at your disposal a promised effective defense against a fierce and persistent enemy. Your defense requires your faith alone. The Bible says there is no temptation overtaken you that is not common to all men and none that is beyond your ability to handle. Such is always true, God says.
The tunnels which camouflage Satan are discoverable. He can be defeated. Jesus clearly promises that if you confront the devil, he will flee from you. But you must soberly keep your vigilance; no time for sleepy defenses. Consistent time in His Word and continual, specific, relevant prayer are your daily marching orders – and your salvation!


“Stand then in His great might with all your strength endued, but take to arm you for the fight the panoply of God. Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul; take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole.
(2nd verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Soldiers of Christ, Arise, 1749)
 

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Community support and helping children
Mar 06, 2018

Helping Those Who Are Unable to Do for Themselves

“Which commandment is the most important of all? Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:28-31


During the last two months of my one year in Vietnam, I became my battalion’s Civil Affairs Officer; this again was of God. I was able to assist in the helping of those who were unable to help themselves.
One such group was an evangelical church in Phan Thiet, Vietnam, nearby our rear base. The pastor was a persevering, courageous, fearless person who relied entirely on God. In addition to his main church in Phan Thiet, which also had a Christian school attached, he ministered to many more rural churches as well.
To reach those churches he had to travel by a Vespa motorbike over heavily mined roads. He could not rely on mine-clearing equipment; he had none. So, he prayed to God who could protect and then just automatically traversed those roads trusting God for his safety and enabling him to miraculously miss the mines.
I plan to try and relocate his Phan Thiet church, though after 48 years I do not know if I will find anyone familiar; children, parishioners, teachers, someone related to the pastor. I am taking many photos recreated from the slides which I took when they honored us with a special meal, and an awards ceremony for their students and teachers, and from the many visits we made.
Their school had no windows, rough-hewn school desks, primitive pews (benches) in the sparse sanctuary, very little money for teachers, yet loads of poor students. We were able to provide money from my father-pastored church in the U.S. to help.
They were thrilled with our interest in support of their sacrificial ministry as was an orphanage run by Catholic nuns in Phan Thiet. Of course, orphans were too often produced by the relationships of American soldiers with Vietnamese women. Unfortunately, many were not voluntarily adopted by the Vietnamese population, and thus they would have to grow to an independent age at the orphanage.
The nuns would select some of the older teen girls to become helpers in the running of the orphanage and had special uniforms for them. These nuns constantly adapted to the current problems in the society around them which produced orphans, such as the war. Parents of small children were killed in the violence of war, and there was no other family to care for them. The orphanage had more than enough orphans for which to care; any help they could receive was enthusiastically accepted.
In every society there are those in this category with an inability to help themselves. These are they God calls upon you to help, and these are they we should be willing and quick to help. As Jesus says, “The poor you always have with you. There is never not a need to be met, nor subjects for your care. It is a fact of life; those who truly require help must receive it from you. Sometimes you can be used to teach them how to help themselves, other times you must provide what is necessary to sustain them.
In any case, it is required of you to exercise the mind of Christ. With His mind, you can determine what is genuinely needed. To do for someone what they really can do for themselves is not a good thing and does not bode well for their future success, while doing for them what they are truly unable to is what God actually requires of you.
If, as God says, there are always those who need helping, it is incumbent of every Christian to do his part, else God will not bless you. By his very nature, a Christian is to be about helping the truly needy. It must become a way of life for him; there is never a time when he will not find someone to help. So be up and looking, be up and doing because for this you were called.
You do not need to be in Vietnam, Africa, or South America; even at home there are needs to be met. Not always feeding, many times teaching; not always healing, sometimes consoling. Needs are abundant; solutions are much rarer. Loving your neighbor as yourself is a way Jesus says you can obey all the commandments. So often loving your neighbor is simply helping them cope with life. This is every Christian’s vocation no matter their job or status in life.


“Let your heart be broken for a world in need. Feed the mouths that hunger, soothe the wounds that bleed, give the cup of water and the loaf of bread. Be the hands of Jesus, serving in His stead.
(1st verse of Bryan Leech’s hymn, “Let Your Heart Be Broken, 1975)
 

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teen boy leaning on tree
Mar 05, 2018

Talking to Your Son About Drugs

Teen substance abuse has been a national issue for decades because of its impact on children, their physical and mental health, education, and the entire family. Whether they are considering using or not, talking to your son about drugs isn’t easy. It takes fearlessness to bring up his substance abuse risks. If you haven’t already had a conversation with him about drugs, now is the time. Talking now could decrease the chances of having to seek help for a problem down the road.
First, let’s start with some alarming numbers:

So, here’s some advice to help make a conversation about drug use with your son a little less uncomfortable.
Set aside time to talk.
The last thing you want to do is catch your son off-guard when he is distracted and less likely to want to have this important conversation. If you and your son set the time and place for the discussion, there’s a good chance he’ll be more actively engaged. Don’t worry that asking about drug use may cause him to experiment with an illicit substance. A University of Washington Social Development Research Group study found no evidence that children will use a substance just because you asked about it.
Make it clear that you are anti-drug.
While there is no magical way to prevent kids from trying drugs, CASA discovered that teens who say their parents “would not be extremely upset if they found out their child smoked, drank used marijuana are 8.5 times more likely to say it’s okay for teens their age to use marijuana – as compared to teens who say their parents would be “extremely upset (34% vs. 4%). In other words, saying that you are against drugs and would be distressed about your kids taking them can prevent them from taking drugs. So being clear about how you feel about drug use makes a difference.
Talk about drug use early and often.
Kids are never too young to begin having this conversation. When it comes to talking to tweens, KidsHealth recommends discussing drug use in an open, non-judgmental way by asking them what they think about drugs. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids suggests using celebrity addiction stories and headlines as teachable moments to show the consequences of alcohol and drug use.
Honesty is the best policy.
Parents’ opinions do sway their teens, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. Talk honestly with your children about the negatives of drug use and the positives of not experimenting. Remember to be a role model – even if that means being honest about your past drug or alcohol use and what you learned from those experiences.
Ask for help when you need it.
If you find that you truly do not feel comfortable having this conversation with your kids, it’s best to call a professional. A family counselor can sit with you both to help have a heartfelt and meaningful discussion, rather than just sitting in awkward silences or getting into a fight that could cause more harm than good.
The Paul Anderson Youth Home is a Christian transformative organization that recreates healthy homes through enduring relationships, routines, and tough love. Since 1961, we have been shaping men of character. We want to offer a fresh start for troubled teenagers who need to change their lives and have reached a “dead end. For parents in crisis, the PAYH is a sanctuary. Contact us at 1-800-559-PAYH (7294) or visit our website at payh.org to see how we can help.


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