Payh Blog
Man Sitting In The Field Under Sunset
Mar 27, 2019

He is Always Right There

“‘Am I a God at hand,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away?’ –Jeremiah 23:23


The closeness or distance of God is a matter which concerns everyone, whether or not they admit it. Some think anything about God is of little consequence to them. Others who think God is far away live their lives as though He does not or cannot see them and, consequently, care not. Then, others definitely sense the nearness of God, as they feel His presence, know His eyes are on them, and recognize, “He sees me!
Which is right? If He does not appear, is relatively silent, and does not announce His presence in the eyes of some, how near is He really? Though the nearness or distance of God lies in the eyes and ears of the beholder, the actual fact of His presence is a given in the revealed truth of God.
Whether He is believed or not, He declares He is in an intimate relationship with His creation on a constant basis. When He says that His face is far from you, it only pertains to His attitude toward you at the present moment, not His actual presence. God fills all of His universe with Himself, even though your physical eyes may see nothing.
Psalm 139 is a clear, forthright statement of the presence of God in reality. Read it again. Proverbs 15:3: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good. 2 Chronicles 16:9: “The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is His. Psalm 95:4-5: “In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land. Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.
These verses explicitly speak to the truth of the constant and close hand of God on His creation, including you and me. He knows, He acts, He moves, He directs; He is even aware of the number of hairs on your head which change constantly and every bird falling from a tree to its death. These statements point purposefully to the very minutest of facts in declaring the close, all-encompassing heart of God, who exercises an active hand of intimate involvement. I know, you cannot comprehend it. I can’t either! But then you and I are creatures and not God.
For those who believe He is not or He is far off, when the necessary time comes, He is in reality near at hand. He is a loud cry away, or He can hear a whisper if such is the authentic call of a sinner in need of a Savior. He will hear.
The distance of God is a myth – a myth to be discarded if you do not want to fall in the future and certain judgment. Draw near to God now, for procrastination is lethal. The Bible says that if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. There are so many truths in life which cannot be ascertained by faithless eyes. Unbelief blinds the most brilliant of minds. Without faith, true vision is impossible; you cannot see God though He is right next to you. This is the greatest pity.
You can be assured God is close. Do not try to brush Him off, even though you really can’t. He is the persistent “hound of heaven where you are concerned. This is irresistible grace at work. He is truly near you, and He will become even closer as you seek to walk with Him as others do.
Enoch walked with God, and then suddenly he was not, for God took him. This will not necessarily be your experience, but still your main purpose in life is to walk with God. As we read in Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Walking with God means you are near Him and He you!


“Lord, Thou hast searched me and dost know wher-e’er I rest, wher-e’er I go; Thou knowest all that I have planned, and all my ways are in Thy hand.
(First verse of the Psalter, “Lord, Thou Hast Searched Me, 1912, Psalm 139)
 

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Happy Hopeful Woman Looking at the Sunset by the Sea
Mar 20, 2019

Invigorating Hope

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. -Romans 8:24-25


The most depressed and lonely among us have hopes. Hope is a universal trait, even for those whose hopes are not the hopes they need the most. Ills of depression dampen hopes, and sometimes those hopes are not quite powerful enough to overcome the all-consuming and enervating pain. Loss of the final hope in such situations too often leads to suicide. This is the tragic result of losing all hope.
Hope is a necessity of life, and your own hopes are worth thoughtful consideration. Examine them, prioritize them, realistically appraise them, and do something with them! Discard truly unworthy hopes while keeping those that have value for producing good in your life. The determination to keep good hopes over lesser ones lies within your own heart and mind.
Would you always evaluate your hopes by yourself? Such is too often the case, and it doesn’t always ensure the best outcome. You have a sure and true companion to assist you if you will avail yourself of His help: God, even the one who made you. Seek His input, consult His Word, and ask His Spirit to give you insight. The Lord has promised you, “I will never leave you or forsake you. Believe Him.
Next, quality friends who share your faith in God should not be overlooked. If you have a spouse, in most cases, he or she should be your best friend. But I imagine most of us have one or two very close and trusted friends. However, you often feel your hopes are too personal to share with another. Try to get over that.
For the believer, the ultimate hope superseding all others is hope in God. All hopes ultimately rest with Him anyway because everything in your life depends on His care. You are in God’s hands, and His sovereignty is paramount in the direction and playing out of your life.
What exactly do you do with the hopes in your life? How do you move them toward more than hope – that is, hope realized? How do you invigorate them? With your hope in God, the answer is really simple. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. This is His promise to any who will hear Him.
Invigorating hope in God is consciously and purposefully drawing closer to Him through the means He has given you to do just that: His Word, prayer, worship, true fellowship, communication, obedience, and your time. It is a spiritual matter of your own heart and will.
Take another hope, let’s say your health, especially if you are sick or have a disease. Your hope is most likely finding a cure; your hope is really to be healed. To invigorate such hope, you prayerfully pursue the right doctor’s care and steps of taking medicine, diet, or some other natural means which affects healing. Earnest prayer is always a proper path, but you do not simply hope for healing without pursuing tangible steps in seeking renewed health. In any case, your best answer is God’s revealed will, whether or not that is to bring you home to the place where there is no more pain.
Hopes need to be invigorated. You are the one who must pursue and bring vigor to those hopes which are wisely evaluated. When you have a hope which is worth pursuit, persevere in it until God clearly removes the reason to go after it. This requires patience in waiting on God for direction, fulfillment or a “no.
One such hope may well be the spiritual regeneration of a non-believer, friend or not. I have had such hopes last most of a lifetime. These are hopes you can never grow weary in seeking fulfillment, which is that person’s salvation. Considering eternity is in view is all you need to say.
Hopes realized in this life are a treasure gained. If they are worthy, those hopes pursued but not yet realized actually draw you closer to God as you ask Him continually for an answer. Heaven will one day see the right reward placed in your hand. Both your invigorated hopes and your patience will be rewarded.


“Christ, of all my hopes the ground, Christ, the spring of all my joy, still in You may I be found, still for You my powers employ, still for You my powers employ.
(First verse of Ralph Wardlaw’s hymn, “Christ, of All My Hopes the Ground, 1817)
 

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Young black family busy together in their kitchen
Mar 13, 2019

Millstones and Parenting

“Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. -Matthew 18:5-6


This is a fallen world. What an understatement! The world exudes evil. Just think of the daily news reporting about wars and rumors of wars, murders, rapes, and mayhem; pernicious drug and alcohol fueled too-often-fatal addictions; human cruelty upon fellow humans beyond the pale; slums, famine, and poverty leading to death; violent execution of society’s most vulnerable – tiny babes in and out of the womb.
I have personally witnessed such travesties in my travels, experiences, visual media, and through extensive reading, as I am sure you have. I have seen a world which is incredibly beautiful, with numerous oases of great joy and laughter, teeming with vibrant life, but you cannot deny the manifest evil in it also, perpetrated by man torturing man, as well as indiscriminate damage wrought by man on the beauty of this earth we call home.
The evil in this world radiates from the heart of the prime focus of God’s creation: man, a fallen sinner. Most revealing of all, however, is man as parent! You must understand that every killer, every rapist, every robber, every creator of mayhem had a father and a mother – a father and mother tasked by God to nurture and discipline their child into becoming a productive member of society at least and a follower of God at best.
If every father and mother had done their job as parent “successfully, what would this world be like? Jesus’ warning is dire to say the very least. It must cause shivers of fear to course through the veins of those whose consciences are not yet seared.
I know this warning does not address parents alone. Jesus speaks of anyone who causes “these little ones to stumble, to fall into sin. Obviously though, the ones who are most in an accountable position to precipitate this stumble are the parents of little children. Augustine once said, “Give me a child until he/she is seven, and they are mine for life, pointing out the critical impact of those first seven years.
It would be better for those who cause this stumble, Jesus says, for a millstone to be tied around their neck and to be tossed into the depth of the sea. This warning does not mince words. It places a heavy burden upon every parent and anyone in a position to be an example to children. Very possibly in heaven God will reveal those who looked up to your example, even some of whom you had no clue were watching you.
Jesus leaves parents with much more than a devastating warning. His promises to covenant parents in the nurture and discipline of their children are sure and numerous. You cannot fulfill your calling and task apart from them, for these promises are powerful and effective. If taken to heart, the realistic burden of this warning must drive parents to Jesus and His promises.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Is this true? God declares it is. But so is the millstone warning! Jesus spoke clearly and truly. Parents and all of us must take this to heart. If you are a parent, parenting is the most important thing you do!


“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.
Let Thy holy Word instruct them. Fill their minds with heavenly light. Let Thy love and grace constrain them to approve whate’er is right, take Thine easy yoke and wear it, and to prove Thy burden light.
(Verses 1-3 of Jane Leeson’s hymn, “Gracious Savior, Gentle Shepherd, 1842)
 

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Race Photo w: Boys & Winshape
Mar 06, 2019

This Month at PAYH: Monthly Newsletter, March 2019

Running the Race Set Before Us

Hebrews 12:1 refers to the Christian walk as a race, and for those of us at PAYH, it has certainly felt like that at times. It’s been a busy month, as you’ll see as you read the stories below, but it’s also been a very successful month. We’ve seen wonderful testimonies in the lives of our young men, and tremendous financial success as the Lord has blessed us with not only a very strong end to 2018, but with positive finishes to both January and February.

4th Annual Chick-fil-A Vidalia Road Race

Coming-up-to-the-finish-lineOur 4th Annual Chick-fil-A Vidalia Road Race was a smashing success. The weather was just right – neither hot nor cold, cloudy but not raining. Furthermore, we had our largest turnout yet with 584 runners. We’re looking forward to breaking 600 next year at our 5th annual race. For full results, visit runvidalia.com or visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/runvidalia to see hundreds of pictures of the race. We hope to see you there next year!

Stories from the Home

Georgia Baptist Healthcare Grant

GBC-2019-Grant-Picture-WebWe are thrilled to announce that the Georgia Baptist Healthcare Ministry Foundation has selected PAYH to receive a $50,000 grant. Our Director of Advancement, Bill Shepherd, received the check at the GBHCMF Grant Luncheon on February 7th. In their own words, “GBHCMF believes the Paul Anderson Youth Home ministry has demonstrated an active service that aligns with the GBHCMF’s core mission to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ through the provision of direct health care services. For more than 100 years, the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry has offered a ministry of healing to those in need.

Zion Concert

Zion-ConcertOur young men enjoyed a unique experience when Christian musician Zion came and gave an on-campus concert. He had the young men’s attention from beginning to end and unapologetically shared God’s message of salvation. Through his lyrics and music, the Word of God was clearly communicated, and we believe many seeds were planted in their hearts that evening.

Teen Maze

Travis-Shares-His-Testimony3 of our young men (Stearne, Travis, and Lane) shared their testimonies at this month’s Teen Maze at FBC Vidalia. While all of their stories were powerful, Travis’ story especially resonated with the listeners as he told of a time when his friends wanted him to sneak out with them to party one night. Travis was unable to get free, and it ultimately saved his life as the friends he would have been traveling with were both killed in an accident that evening.

Southern Choices Day Center

Southern-Choices-Day-Center-Visits-PAYHWe were blessed to have the residents of Southern Choices Day Center on campus this month for a tour and to visit with our young men. They seemed to truly enjoy themselves, and many had never been on our campus before. To learn more about Southern Choices Day Center and what they do, visit their Facebook page or their website at southernchoices.org

SOAPS “Spayghetti” Dinner

PAYH-Boys-at-SOAPSThe Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society (SOAPS) hosted a “spayghetti” dinner last week to raise money to provide for spaying and neutering dogs and cats in need. For over 30 years SOAPS has been helping dogs and cats in Toombs and surrounding counties find adoptive homes as well as various other services for animals in need. Learn more at sweetonionaps.org.

Upcoming Event

PAGC-2019-Save-the-Date-Web

This year we are hosting the 26th annual Paul Anderson Golf Classic at the River Club in North Augusta, SC. Over the past 26 years this tournament has provided several million dollars in revenue and has been a major part of our operating budget. To learn more, or to register a team, visit payh.org/golf.


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Explosion Of White Dust On Black Background
Mar 06, 2019

Decorating Dust

God said, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. -Genesis 3:19


Dust. How often have you used the word to describe yourself? You probably think of the word as a verb more often than not. It is what you do to clean your home. God, however, describes you in Genesis 3 as “dust. He says quite directly and more accurately than you realize, “For you are dust. He should know. It is the same material He used to form your body. The difference He makes by blowing into the dust the “breath of life is the difference between a body lying in a casket and a body just a moment earlier, housing personality, spirit, and soul, animating your “dust.
Dust is certainly not very flattering in describing you, you think? When you put on makeup, buy new clothes, or brush your hair, are you merely decorating dust? Do you ever think this as you stand in front of a mirror? Paul the Apostle adds to God’s description of you as dust, referring to the activities you pursue to decorate your dust as “filthy rags and “rubbish, something he considers “loss in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ and being found in Him. Just before, Paul had offered a whole list of such “decorating that he had done.
You may not have known it, but yesterday was Ash Wednesday in the Church Year – the beginning of Lent leading to Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday, Easter. Observers of this day have a mark of ash placed on their forehead to signify they are but dust and ashes. Possibly such can be considered a bit ritualistic, but if such truth really finds your heart, influencing your behavior toward greater righteousness, it is a step of faith signifying obedience to your Lord’s commands. An attitude of repentance acknowledges you are a helpless sinner always in need of the righteousness of Jesus.
This can be an everyday activity even without placing ashes on your forehead. According to your Bible, this was a practice of many Old Testament saints, repenting “in dust and ashes. At a minimum, repentance begins with an absolutely true look at yourself, informed by how Scripture describes you before a holy God.
Jesus promised, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Poverty of spirit within is a mark accompanying an authentic self-assessment. King David rightly confessed, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. This is what genuine repentance looks like.
Psalm 51 speaks truly; it is the Scriptural basis of Lent. However, it need not, it must not be seasonal only as Lent is. We need reminders. A habit of Scripture reading and thoughtful meditation stirs your memory through the whole year, but following the Church Year can be a help.
The traditional funeral service has in it these words: “…ashes to ashes, dust to dust in sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life. You came from dust and you return to dust. You came from matter and you return to matter. Materialists think this is all you are yet fail to define personality, spirit, and soul consistent with materialism. They cannot do so. In between your coming from dust and returning to it, you are a living soul integrated with a physical body marked with unique features, unique DNA, unique from any other human being who has ever lived. This is beyond amazing! The question for many, however, are the words, “sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life.
The path to assurance of what lies beyond a return to dust is the acknowledgement of who you really are, as captured in the theme of Ash Wednesday and Lent. You are a sinner in need of redemption, of becoming like Jesus and being found in Him. Repeat Psalm 51 as your personal confession: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Then confess what your constant prayer is: “Create in me a pure heart, O God!
If you wish to decorate your dust, put the clothes of Jesus’ character on your soul. As the Scriptures say, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ! Become like Him and truly decorate your dust!


“I am evil, born in sin; Thou desirest truth within. Thou alone my Savior art. Teach Thy wisdom to my heart. Make me pure, Thy grace bestow. Make me whiter than the snow.
(Third verse of The Psalter, Psalm 51, “God, Be Merciful to Me, 1912)
 

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