Payh Blog
Arlington National Cemetery with a flag next to each headstone during Memorial day
May 29, 2018

The Sorrow of War

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. -Ecclesiastes 7:2


Memorial Day is about sorrows, especially for those who have reason to visit the cemetery where their loved one’s remains lay. It surely has become a day for feasting, picnics and cookouts, family gatherings, and time away from work. But the real reason for this holiday is to remember and give thanks; remember those who gave “the last full measure of devotion, and be thankful to and for them for the genuine blessings secured with their ultimate sacrifice.
Not everyone has experienced war on the battlefield. It contains experiences you would not covet or want to remember. “War is hell! is an all too true adage. When you are so fortunate to escape death in battle, you have many complex feelings. You certainly feel relief, but you also have questions: Why not me? Why them, since they died right beside me? The Angel of Death, or the hand of Providence was seemingly arbitrary in choosing my buddies instead of me. But the Christian soldier knows better. It was a purposeful God who marked those called to death, just as He put His hand on those chosen to survive to live another day. I have lived 50 years longer now than my comrades whose blood was spilled in the soil of Vietnam, and I have lived 22 years longer now than my wife and co-parent who succumbed to cancer when her children had not yet been married or borne her grandchildren.
Life and death questions and selections lie in the hand of God for us all. The reasons remain hidden from us in His all-knowing and manifest wisdom. Faith must accept and rejoice that such a God is good. But He also intends for us to grieve over the ultimate cost and great sacrifices of the battlefields of freedom. They keep us, for a time, from those we love; they take from us a parent while we are still at a very young age; they separate us from the love of our life; they rob us of an adult child’s companionship into old age. The sorrows of war run deep.
These sorrows should produce a reverence for the day so determined for a thankful remembrance. Genuinely experienced, those sorrows should evoke a contemplation in all of us which is valuable for the soul. Those sorrows are required fuel for feeding a fire of gratitude inside of you. Gratefulness is a necessary ingredient of character. Without it, character either erodes or never grows. A man, woman, or child of character is one who is grateful to God, of first priority, and to others around them of second. It is a gratefulness which always finds expression in one form or another; visibly, verbally, thoughtfully, magnanimously to God and to those who have done much or little for you.
Memorial Day is but a reminder of what every day should be about: gratitude! Sorrows are most powerful, as Ecclesiastes 7:1-6 expresses so poignantly, in producing a heart of thanksgiving. Memorial Day should be a day when sorrows are experienced and felt by you as it causes you to be more thankful for what is yours, and it should never be taken for granted.


“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’
(1st verse of Horatio Spafford’s hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul, 1873)
 

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Graduation day
May 23, 2018

Graduation

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. -Proverbs 3:5-7


My oldest grandson just graduated from university. It was a big affair with the commencement speaker being former President Jimmy Carter and one of the other speakers, Dr. Ben Carson. This is the graduation season, most noticeably for high school or college/university. However, I also just attended one of my youngest grandson’s very-full-program-graduation from preschool, of all things. No kidding!
There are no verses in the Bible which specifically acknowledge “graduation as we know it so well today. Apparently, graduation, per say, has not been such a specific occasion in ages past, neither in the Old Testament nor New Testament eras. What graduation appears to signify most today is that it is a benchmark of the maturation of a young person; though at the university graduation I attended, there was actually one octogenarian who had missed that opportunity in younger years.
What you are hoping and wishing for in a graduation event is that your young person has reached a genuine benchmark, befitting their age, exhibiting maturity in wisdom and character. Such maturity depends so much on the nature of spiritual input into their lives in the days and years preceding this transition from youth to adulthood. Who is responsible for this?
Very obviously, their parents or guardians, those who reared and nurtured them from the cradle to this point in their life, have the greatest responsibility as stewards of God in the soul and life of this young man or woman. Spiritual input is primarily dependent on these parents; so much so that they must answer to God for their failure or accomplishment in this God-ordered task.
Secondary to parental stewards is the educational input of their high school and college years, as well as the formative influence of their chosen close friends and peers, with whom they spend most of their time after the earliest childhood years. These years are extremely formative on their current and future world- and life-views. They spend a lot of time with high school teachers and college professors, considerably more than with their parents during these years. If such input is spiritually suspect, it will greatly reflect on what their world- and life-views will be and who they will be as individuals.
Parents have failed majorly when they have given over their responsibility to rear and nurture their children to secular non-believers and errant instructors of the truth as it is in Jesus. High school teachers and especially university professors have been responsible for the shipwreck of the faith of many young people. Parents are largely accountable to God for this massive failure.
If graduation is a genuine benchmark of maturity into a wise and charactered person for life, then there absolutely must be quality and continuous spiritual input into their life before graduation is ever acknowledged. If you are the parents of children who are yet to pursue a graduation, commit now to their godly molding as individuals and to the spiritual input they absolutely require, ensuring such continues into the high school and college years. This is your preeminent responsibility, directing where they are taught and who their teachers are. Do not give their souls over to unbelieving instructors and worldly environments. Remember, it is you who must give account to God in this critical, eternal responsibility!


“More about Jesus let me learn, more of His holy will discern; Spirit of God, my teacher be, showing the things of Christ to me. More, more about Jesus, more, more about Jesus, more of His saving fullness see, more of His love who died for me.
(2nd verse of Eliza Hewitt’s hymn, “More About Jesus Would I Know, 1887)
 

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Group of four friends having fun a coffee together
May 16, 2018

Listening, Accepting, Becoming

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. -Psalm 1:1


There is a natural progression to becoming a scoffer of Jesus, a scorner of the Gospel. It will happen if you allow it. It begins with listening to those who scoff, proceeds to accepting what they say, and ends with becoming one yourself. This is what Psalm 1 teaches and is repeated many times over in Proverbs. These are good warnings against proceeding down such a path, but it appears many are choosing such a course today as scoffers of God proliferate.
This progression is promised, especially as a mark of the “last times, which are essentially the times closest to the return of Jesus. But the warnings concerning the “last times are written in books authored in the first century, such as Peter and Jude. There have been scoffers of Jesus ever since He appeared on the earth and made Himself known, and they have existed in every generation since. A scoffer such as Voltaire (1694-1778) declared the Bible would disappear in 100 years, and 100 years later the Geneva Bible Society was headquartered in his former Geneva home. (God’s humor! He told us He would laugh in Psalm 2.)
Yes, there are scoffers in every generation; however, their population seems to have reached their greatest number in the present day. A scoffer of God and His Son is one who not only denies His existence (“The fool says in his heart there is no God), but tries vociferously to convince others of this as well. He rips at the very description of Jesus’ righteous character as set forth in the Bible, denigrating it in the evilest way he can concoct. He doesn’t merely renounce His existence and then simply ignore Him; he deprecates Him over and over ad infinitum, even using His name as an incessant swear word. Such behavior is very peculiar if this Jesus is merely a nonentity.
The scoffer brings incredulity upon his claims by not ever removing his teeth from the bone. He can’t give it up! Jesus is a continual thorn in his being. His scorn defines a continuous behavior. This in itself is further proof that Jesus really is who He says He is. Even in his scoffing, the scoffer proves Jesus to be genuine and himself to be what he actually is: a fool!
The very truth that we are told in the Bible of the existence and increase of scorners and scoffers attests to the Bible’s veracity. Yet unbelievers ignore the overwhelming evidence of the Bible’s genuine character and truthfulness. The blinders brought on by the depravity of sin render the eyes of the heart and mind completely and utterly sightless! Yet the Bible still declares, “Whosoever will may come!
It is a conundrum to our eyes in seeing the total depravity of sin and the utter blindness it creates with the “whosoever will of Revelation 22:17. The will has to be made willing by the Spirit of God, yet to those who become eager to come to Jesus, “may come holds true. Even the most scornful scoffer can open his heart to see that Jesus is who He says He is: the only way to God, the only path of salvation. It is no stumbling block of exclusivity, it is simply that the fact is Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life; it is futile to look elsewhere when there is no other means to salvation in any other quarter.
The scoffer need not remain a scoffer.


“If I ask Him to receive me, will He say me nay? ‘Not till earth and not till heaven pass away.’
(6th verse of John Mason Neale’s hymn, “Are You Weary, Are You Languid, 1862)
 

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Payh Blog
May 10, 2018

PAGC 2018 Slideshow

25th Annual PAGC

It was a beautiful day at the River Club for our 25th Anniversary Paul Anderson Golf Classic. Please enjoy the slideshow above. To view and download a full catalog of pictures for the day, see the links below:
Download Pictures Here
Morning
Afternoon


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A close-up shot of the shortest verse in the bible
May 09, 2018

Jesus' Tears

“Jesus wept. -John 11:35


Is Jesus really that much like us? Did He feel pain? Did He experience sorrow, joy, exhilaration, exhaustion, temptation? He cried genuine tears of sorrow at the grave of His good friend, Lazarus. He cried with his sisters and friends while standing outside his tomb, when Lazarus actually lay cold and dead inside. His body had already begun early decomposition, and his sisters told Jesus the body had already begun to smell.
Why did Jesus cry when He knew He could and would raise Lazarus from the dead and that He planned to do such in a few moments? He cried because His dear friends did not really understand who He truly was: the Resurrection and the Life. He cried because of the anguished pain and oppressive tyranny of death due to sin. He cried because of the pain His friends’ grief caused to pour over His own heart. He was like us in every way except He was not a sinner. He never knew personal sin! He could not because He was the perfect lamb to take away our sin in His own sacrifice on the cross.
As He approached Jerusalem for the last time the week of His death, He stopped at the bend in the road where the sight of the city first greets a traveler’s eyes, and He wept. He cried tears of compassion for those who lived there because many did not recognize the time nor the reason of His coming as the only means of their peace. He cried because their Peace was being rejected. He was a man of great compassion, but sin was the great and ultimate blinder of eyes and hearts, as it still is.
He cried in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was taken prisoner by the soldiers working for the Jewish leaders who had come to arrest Him. As He prayed, He actually wept tears of blood because He was anguished He would not be able to drink the cup of wrath His Father desired He drink. He cried because of the great weight of redemption that was falling all on Him: the sins of the whole world and the ineffable separation from His eternal father, His eternal confidant, His eternal companion. It is a weight we shall never know. Its depths are too unbearable and far too deep for us mere creatures to comprehend.
These were precious tears, tears of your redemption, tears which were a vital part of your eternal salvation, tears which wash over you in a cleansing shower, removing the dust and grime of a lifetime of travel on the road of sin. The shed lifeblood from a perfect lamb and the tears of incomprehensible compassion, all intermingled to produce a cleansing from sin – your once inerasable, unabated, unforgivable sin, now washed clean by the one and only Savior of mankind.


“What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend, for this, thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end? O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.
(3rd verse of Bernard of Clairvaux’s hymn, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, 1091-1153)
 

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Portrait Of Puzzled Man Having Doubts. Doubtful Italian Business
May 02, 2018

Doubt Assails Us All

“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 double-minded, unstable in all his ways. -James 1:5-8


The universal malady of mankind? Doubt! Especially when it comes to believing God, doubt unfortunately raises its ugly head. Whether total rejection of Him, complete ignorance of Him, or just struggling obedience of Him, it all comes down to whether we believe God or not. From Satan’s initial claim, “Did God really say…?, a question repeated over and over in men’s minds, to the thought, “I simply don’t care what God says, it all is the result in one form or another of doubt!
James minces no words about what he thinks of doubt and doubters; he says it is the character flaw which defines a “double-minded [man, who is] unstable in all his ways. James knows! He himself doubted his own brother, who just happened to be the Lord; that is, he doubted Him until his brother stood before him, after He had been put to death. The resurrected Lord convinced his brother, James, that He was who He claimed to be. All He ever said was true, every word of it, but it took His resurrection to convince James.
Yet lies abound in the air of this world every bit as much as carbon dioxide. Practically, as often as man expels carbon dioxide with his breath, a lie escapes. This is the very reason we must ask God continuously for wisdom! Is what man says always to be believed over what God has said?
Doubt is the result of not believing the truth or turning a deaf ear to it. So, what is truth? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Truth is found in Jesus, and He has told us such; both the truth of creation, such as 2+2=4, as well as the truth of what happens to us after death. As Colossians says, Jesus is all in all. In a supernatural way, all truth finds its source in Him.
So, how can we eschew doubt? How do we resist doubting God? James says to ask God for wisdom, while at the same time continuing to believe all He has said. James then goes on to say that if you believe God, actions must follow. “Faith without works is dead, he writes. Not acting on faith in what God has said is just another way of doubting Him. You can say all day long, “I believe what God says is true, but if there is not an obedience, if there are no deeds which follow faith and hearing, do you really believe Him?
This is the question we all must ask ourselves. Do we doubt, or do we believe God and His Son whom He has sent? If you do, you must show it by your deeds, by the continuing transformation of your life into a God-fearing and believing man or woman who acts out their faith concretely in everyday life.


“How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
(1st verse of anonymous hymn, “How Firm A Foundation, 1787)
 

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