Payh Blog
Sad, lonely, depressed and unhappy man
Jun 27, 2018

A Brand Plucked from the Fire

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30


The headlines blared, and all the news networks were frantic with the unbelievable report: “45,000 US citizens killed in biggest terrorist tragedy in human history! You say you missed this? How could you miss it? Did you black out for several days?
45,000 are as many people who live in a whole town; in fact, a small city. Well, those headlines might be almost accurate in reporting this news because nearly 45,000 US citizens took their own lives in 2016. Just in one calendar year – nearly 45,000 suicides in America in just 365 days! Suicide has become the SECOND leading cause of death among those aged 15-34. In fact, there are more than twice as many suicides as there are homicides. In just the last two decades the suicide rate in this country has risen 25%! That is an epidemic of gargantuan proportion!
The recent well-reported suicides of celebrity fashion designer Kate Spade and chef and successful author Anthony Bourdain have served to point out that suicide has infected and impacted all levels of society. And it is not only an American problem. As we were returning on a train from Phan Thiet, Vietnam to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) last March, a Vietnamese person purposefully stepped into the path of our fast-moving train, immediately ending their life. Suicide is a human condition of most every tribe, nation, race, language, and people, but it is a disease which especially affects the successful and prosperous among us who are by no means struggling to put food in their mouths or clothes on their backs.
As culture changes and the merely-surviving-tasks of providing food and lodging take less of our time and finding continuous entertainment more of it, social isolation, lack of connectivity, loneliness, psychiatric needs, epidemic use of prescription drugs, and far less attention to meeting spiritual needs have all skyrocketed in society. This has resulted in a milieu, an environment ripe for unmitigated pain, creating a much greater desire to die than to live. This is a mouthful, but its conclusion is more and more suicides as the answer for what are thought of as insurmountable problems and mind-numbing pain. Satan rejoices in seeing one suicide after another. How can this careening train be slowed down?
If Jesus asked the question in the first century, “When the Son of Man returns will He find faith on the earth? what are we to expect in our day which is ever closer to His return? Is the increasing incidence of suicide due to the ever-greater impact of a fallen world on the current society and the continuous attack of the evil one on the kingdom of God? A kingdom which Satan hates, just as much as he hates the world which his greatest enemy created? The pain which drives most to suicide has an offered antidote if the sick reach out for it in faith. What does faith cost them? Nothing. Faith is free!
Why not take advantage of a free antidote when nothing else has worked? What does finding faith require? It often requires a sympathetic messenger, someone who can transmit the message of peace – transformative peace to a depressed soul, a hurting spirit, an anxious psyche, a heart full of pain. “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light, Jesus promised.
You can be that sympathetic messenger. You who have been loved by Jesus can show the love of Jesus to a hurting soul. But you require the antennae of Jesus to find, to discover, to recognize hurting souls. They can be right beside you or they may need searching out. Your prayer needs to be “point them out to me, Jesus, and make me Your messenger of peace.
Jude encourages you, “Have mercy on those who doubt, save others by plucking them out of the fire! It is surely plucking a brand from the fire when you reach out with compassion to one who is ready to end their life. 45,000 seems like an impossible mountain to climb, but reaching just one is worth all the effort!


“The Shepherd sought his sheep, the Father sought his child; they followed me o’er vale and hill, o’er deserts waste and wild. They found me nigh to death, famished, faint, and lone; they bound me with the bands of love, they saved the wandering one.
(2nd verse of Horatius Bonar’s hymn, “I Was a Wandering Sheep, 1843)
 

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Colorful Sunset At The River
Jun 20, 2018

Last Breath

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ -Luke 23:43


A few years ago I asked a Navy-Vet and retired ship captain friend who was both older than me and quite ill at that point, “What do you think happens when you take your last breath? He answered quickly, “Nothing! He said, “That is it. It is all she wrote. I will pass into oblivion. Really? But what if you are wrong?
Three criminals hung on three Roman crosses intended for execution two millennia ago, soon to take their last breaths; two were guilty of unspecified crimes, one of alleged blasphemy against God. One criminal chided this alleged blasphemer, Jesus, to remove them from their crosses and save their lives. “If you are the Christ, then [miraculously] take us off these crosses!
The other genuine criminal told his fellow law-breaker to be silent and, turning to Jesus, spoke in faith, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom! Jesus’ answer was eight words spoken in certainty: “Today you will be with me in paradise!
What happens when you take your last breath? Plenty! All in the twinkling of an eye! Either an immediate transition to “Paradise and Jesus’ presence, or a crossing into Hades (the place of the dead), awaiting judgment. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) describes a graphic comparison of two destinations; one is most comforting, the other dreadful!
The fact is there is a “great gulf fixed between the two after-last-breath-locations. There is no bridging this great gulf when the time of the last breath comes. Jesus’ parable is crystal clear, and for some, terrifying! The pleading of the rich man to send Lazarus back to the land of the living to warn his remaining family and friends of what awaited them if they remained in their unbelief was met by Abraham’s answer, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them! The rich man said, “They will listen only if someone who has risen from the dead tells them! Abraham answered, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, they will not believe even one who has risen from the dead!
It is the ultimate question! What happens the moment I breathe my last breath? The young are not impressed with any thoughts of an imminent death. Even many middle agers do not contemplate their end. But Ecclesiastes 7:2 declares that “it is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting, for all men die, and the living should take this to heart. In other words, it is critically important to think of your last breath long before you take it. Are you prepared for it? Have you considered what happens to you at this penultimate moment?
No one knows exactly when this will occur for them. Maybe tomorrow? Maybe ten, twenty, thirty years or more? This is the very reason why preparation should begin immediately and continue until it comes, very possibly fully unexpected. The Epistle James warns, “The Judge is at the door! Everyone’s life is lived under the imminent warning that “the Judge is at the door – your door. Every life is one generation among hundreds of generations, but for each individual in their own generation the time is nearer than you imagine.
Think about your last breath and contemplate its consequences. Are you unsure? Or do you have a confident assurance that Jesus’ words to the criminal next to Him on a cross are truly spoken to you as well? This criminal was just one criminal among all of us criminals. In a sense, he is our representative criminal, for Scripture says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the sin of us all. So, Jesus says to every believer at the moment of his last breath, “Today, you will be with me in paradise!


“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away. Change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changest not, abide with me.
(2nd verse of Henry Lyte’s hymn, “Abide with Me, 1847)
 

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Father and child
Jun 15, 2018

For Where Your Treasure Is

When I think of my father, Paul Anderson, the Bible verse Luke 12:34 comes to mind. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  My heart has always belonged to my precious daddy, according to my equally precious mama.  She says that I did not even recognize that I had two parents until my father’s home going when I was 27 years old.  I appreciated then, maybe for the first time that I did, indeed, have another parent.  Of course, I am sharing this tongue in cheek mixed with a great deal of truth. 
As a young man, my father rose to the top of his chosen sport of weightlifting: National Champion, World Champion, and Olympic Gold medalist to name a few of his titles. Then he along with my mother started the Paul Anderson Youth Home to help guide teenage boys who had lost their way.  In order to support the home financially, daddy spoke over 500 times a year. He would give a strength demonstration and then share his testimony.  He would say, “If I, Paul Anderson, the strongest man in the world, can’t make it through one day without Jesus Christ, how can you?   I heard daddy say those words thousands of times, but one time in particular stands out in my mind.  
Daddy had taken me with him on a speaking engagement to a large church that was fairly close to home.  Daddy stood at a podium as he addressed the large audience.  I was innocently sitting in the audience with the pastor’s daughter. As I remember it, she demanded that I run up and down the bleachers with her while daddy was speaking.  As I finally landed on the perfect seat, my daddy was looking right at me: not his normal look but THE look when one eyebrow was higher than the other. As his arm was resting on top of the podium, he quickly pointed at me for a split second.  I immediately felt my blood drop to my feet.  I signaled to him with a little head nod that I got the message loud and clear.   But daddy did not stop there, he announced to the crowd, “Forgive me, but I had to tell my daughter to sit still.  Well, let me just say that was a very long car ride home.  
As a child, I couldn’t believe that daddy would draw attention to the fact that his child was misbehaving.  Wouldn’t it have been better if he had kept the indiscretion between him and me and not broadcast it to the whole crowd?  In my opinion, I had made him look bad and my behavior was an embarrassment to him.  I never could understand his choice until I got older, that is. He loved me more than he loved himself or valued his reputation.  He didn’t care if the crowd knew that his daughter was acting inappropriately. He only cared about the lesson he could teach me in that moment. “For the”¯Lord”¯corrects those he loves,”¯just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.  Proverbs 3:12  
My father traveled extensively when I was young, but I hardly remember his absences.  I do, however, remember the “very rare, extremely rare occasions that I would get in some type of trouble and my mama would tell daddy ALL about it over the phone.  They always shared multiple daily phone visits concerning the boys and business of the PAYH when he was on the road. I would walk around with a cloud of doom and dread over me until daddy arrived home.  Once he arrived, he would usually give me a good “talking to and that was all. He knew that I had already punished myself with my doomsday attitude of what punishment I may receive when “daddy gets home.  After our talk, I would think to myself, “Wow, what a relief, why did I spend all that time in the depths of worry and despair? 
Such is our relationship with our Heavenly Father because He does not have a plan to punish us, but to reassure us of His love. He is clear throughout His Word about the way that He wants us to live, and He is fair and just to us when we mess up.  As a father has compassion”¯on his children, so the”¯Lord”¯has compassion on those who fear Him  Psalm 103:13 
Today, I look back with thankfulness at the complete trust that I had in my father. I was fearless when I was with him.  I knew that I had no worries when I was under his care. He would sit me behind him on his Honda motorcycle and we would ride back roads during the warm summer months. I loved our motorcycle outings, but to be honest if I looked straight ahead all I could see was my daddy’s broad strong back. I never knew what was coming ahead. I had absolutely no control over where we ventured, but I was totally without fear. I trusted that daddy would get us home safely. The blessing of having a trustworthy and Godly father made it very easy for me to trust, without hesitation, my Heavenly Father.  
These memories help me to visualize hanging onto Jesus as life speeds along, knowing that I must keep my eyes on Him alone for my heart to be at perfect peace. “I keep my eyes always on the”¯Lord. With him at my right hand,”¯I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8  
My daddy had more on his “to do list than most, but he always made me feel welcome in any tasks in which he was engaged.  When he was writing thank you letters to contributors of the Paul Anderson Youth Home, I was his secretary.  I had my own little desk area beside his.  He would take me along as he walked from his office to his home gym to work out.  I would sit and watch, taking for granted the extremely heavy poundage that he easily pushed overhead.  I was his carpenter’s assistant as he cut down trees for a future log cabin playhouse in the woods. And, around my teen years before I was able to drive, he would ride me around town until I was able to catch a glimpse of a certain someone on which I had a secret crush. Daddy’s patience with me helped me to accept and trust the patience that my Heavenly Father has for me.  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,”¯as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient”¯with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 
Daddy was a giant in stature, but he was even more colossal in his faith for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   To this day, the blessings of a Godly father fill my life with wisdom, peace, and the certainty that I am loved.  The memories that I have of daddy point me to scripture, lead me closer to Jesus, and allow me to visualize the fruit of a life well lived.  An hour of my life does not pass that I don’t think of my glorious treasure, my beloved father.  I thank the Lord everyday for blessing me in such a tremendously marvelous way.  
-Paula Schaefer


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Parents Couple Holding New Born
Jun 13, 2018

God Makes Each One

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him. Therefore, I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord. -1 Samuel 1:27-28


Children are a gift from the Lord! From human perspective, becoming pregnant is normally as easy as falling off a log. But there are those who wish such was always the case; those who for one reason or another are experiencing barrenness, temporarily or permanently. Hannah was one woman who had been barren for a long time. She was one of two wives of a man named Elkanah in the Old Testament. The other wife was Peninnah, and she had borne to Elkanah many children, both sons and daughters.
Hannah herself was a devout believer who prayed earnestly and continuously to have a child, namely, a son. The Scripture tells us the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb. If He closed wombs, He likewise opened wombs. This passage in 1 Samuel teaches this truth very clearly. Peninnah had borne many children because her womb was opened by the Lord. Hannah had been unable to become pregnant; this also was the Lord’s doing.
Is this believable? I imagine there are many who say it is only a matter “of the birds and the bees. It is simply a biological matter which men and women and the working of their biological equipment accomplish on their own.
This passage and other biblical passages give another rationale. They say giving birth to a child or more is “of the Lord. You say, “How can God be involved in the billions of births throughout the earth over all history? Well, how does He number the hairs of your head? Every single head? How does He follow with His eyes every human creature on the face of the earth? How does He know when any one sparrow falls to the ground?
The concepts of “all-powerful and “all-knowing are incomprehensible to us. Such is beyond even our imaginations. Yet our God is declared to be such! The Bible reveals this to our finite, inquisitive minds. Faith either accepts this inspired revelation of God or it does not. And faith must draw us to the knowledge of God. The creation itself declares God is! Yet there are those who deny what the creation shouts. Their ears become deaf to both the thunderous as well as the still, small voice of the stupendous creation in which we dwell.
The historical story of Hannah and Peninnah teach us the truths of Psalm 139 and Psalm 51. God does not just create the inward fetal parts of David, but this is true of all. Psalm 139 and Psalm 51 are universal statements of mankind. We are created individually by God and universally fallen in sin; we are universally brought into being by God, and hence all, every one, accountable to God.
Children are a gift of the Lord and this whole manifestation ought to be a marvelous wonder to you who give birth. Parents should stand in the place of adoration of God that they are so blessed to bring forth an immortal being; not a being to be trifled with, nor ungrateful for, but a child who is unique and eternal, one who was given by God, especially to you, and one to be returned to Him as an adoring child of their Heavenly Father, just as their parents.
The whole continually-evolving event, filled with myriad “ups and downs, tears mixed with great joys, wonders and mysteries requiring great faith in the Lord, and enduring perseverance in a God who is a promise-keeper should cause you, like Hannah, to always give these children back to Him. Maybe not as Hannah, taking Samuel to Eli after weaning to raise in the temple, but continually putting them by prayer in the care of the Lord. Hannah’s once barren womb was opened multiple times more after she kept her pledge to bring her firstborn to the Lord, in the care of Eli.
Your children are indeed a gift of God! Never forget His place in your and your child’s lives, nor the reason He made you a steward in their young lives.


“Gracious Savior, gentle Shepherd, our little ones are dear to Thee; gathered with Thine arms and carried in Thy bosom, may they be sweetly, gently, safely tended, from all want and danger free.
Tender Shepherd, never leave them from Thy fold to go astray; by Thy look of love directed, may they walk the narrow way; thus direct them and protect them, lest they fall an easy prey.
(1st and 2nd verses of Jane Leeson’s hymn, “Gracious Savior, Gentle Shepherd, 1842)
 

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Asian woman traveler contemplating outdoor view
Jun 06, 2018

How Well Do I Know Me?

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom you have to do. -Hebrews 4:12-13


Most people are not very self-aware. You wouldn’t think so. “Who knows me better than I do? you think. “I know my inner thoughts. I know when I am angry, when I hurt, when I’m embarrassed, when I’m bored; most other people do not know this about me unless I tell them. So most really imagine they know themselves. But do they? Do they in truth know who they are?
Calvin says in the beginning of his classic Institutes of the Christian Religion, “It is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face and then descends from contemplating Him to scrutinize himself. Thus, without a knowledge of God one is thoroughly unable to know himself, cleansed of any and all facades. There are too many who neither know God nor care to pursue knowledge of their Creator. Consequently, these immortal beings have little idea who they in fact truly are.
What knowledge can you glean from God revealing true knowledge of yourself? Your fallen nature as a human being quickly comes to mind. Your desperate need of a Savior is preeminent. Your failure to know what you were created to be and who you could potentially become. Your ultimate purpose in life escapes you, you who have not contemplated nor searched the greatness of Almighty God.
Only by scrutinizing Him do you see the massive deficiency in your own self. You can see somewhat, but not fully, how far short you fall of the glory of God. There is something missing; something really essential to your being that makes you truly human. Otherwise you are just like “the beasts that perish.
If you never look on your Designer and Creator through the eyes of the One who has known Him throughout the eternity of His being, you cannot approach the knowledge of who He is, and hence who you are as His creature.
It is truly the greatest misery to live and not know why you live and who you were created to be. You experience an existence, but unless you come to the knowledge of Him with whom you have to do, it falls miserably short of the life possible for a genuine child of the God who is.
True self-awareness is necessary for full appreciation of who you are or could be and the full satisfaction in what it is to be a child of God. It will one day be sheer misery to be immortal and realize you have failed in even coming close to what you could have been through the knowledge and the loving of Him who made you.
On the other hand, it is the ultimate joy to know you are one who has been redeemed, grasped unreservedly by His nail scarred hands. You are fully aware both of who you were and who you are. There are no surprises to pop up unexpectedly. He and you know everything that is to be known or ever discovered about you, and, with all that, you are thoroughly accepted by Him. Your sins are buried in the depths of the sea, and they are as far from His sight as the east is from the west. They are simply no more. This can hardly be imagined, but He has said it, and His word is golden. You know you perfectly because you know Him, “whom to know is life eternal.


“O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thy ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.
(1st verse of George Matheson’s hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, 1882)
 

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