Payh Blog
He Lifts me
Aug 28, 2019

He Lifts Me Up

“For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.” -Psalm 75:6-7


It was 1955. The setting was famous Gorky Park. The park sits on the shores of the Moskva River in the middle of Moscow, Russia. Here a historical event took place in an outdoor amphitheater before 15,000 avid Russian weightlifting fans. Standing room only! An alternate-selected lifter, no less, to the US State Department Team was about to lift enough weight to beat the best lifters the Russian team had to offer.
Paul Anderson, a rookie and unknown US weightlifter from tiny Toccoa, Georgia, stood before a bar fitted with enough weights to out-lift his Russian competitors. He had not even warmed up. The crowd was amused and quite skeptical. Relatively short and over 350 pounds, he did not fit their perception of a typical weightlifter. Chuckles and the smattering of laughter rolled through the crowd. How could this unknown in the sport beat the best the Russian team had? This was a country where weightlifting was considered the national sport. These Russians boasted the best weightlifters in the world.
It was the midst of the Cold War. The USSR was America’s enemy, and the tensions were palpable. This had been arranged as an attempt at good will as the US team went behind the Iron Curtain for the first time to compete against the Russians. The eyes of the world were on this competition.
Paul stepped up and reached down, grasping the bar. He snatched it to his chest. With a prodigious effort, he raised it overhead, stretching his arms until they were straight, then throwing the winning weight to the stage floor. Complete silence reigned throughout the amphitheater; you could hear a pin drop. The crowd was absolutely stunned.
Then, after what seemed like a lifetime, the crowd erupted. The applause increased to enthusiastic shouts. The sound was deafening as the crowd began to chant in Russian, “Chudo prirody,” meaning “a wonder of nature.” To this day, Paul Anderson is remembered and revered in Russia among their many weightlifting fans and others who heard of this amazing weightlifter from America.
About 50 years after this event, a group of Russian tourists came to Vidalia, Georgia, of all places, to visit Brewton Parker College nearby. Surprising their local tour guide, they insisted she take them to see the Paul Anderson Youth Home, established by Paul and his wife, Glenda, in 1961. The local guide had no idea Paul was so famous in Russia, even after so many years.
This past week, Paul’s widow, Glenda, and his daughter, Paula, visited Gorky Park for the first time to see where their late husband and father had beaten the Russians 64 years before. It was an unforgettable experience. The refurbished amphitheater still stands in Gorky Park; Paula and her mother stood on the same stage.
This amazing performance in 1955 put Paul on the world map. Later that same year, he won the World Championship in Munich, Germany and a year later the Olympic Gold Medal in Melbourne, Australia. His notoriety throughout the world began with this competition in Moscow and a week later in St. Petersburg, then known as Leningrad. Glenda and Paula saw this weightlifting sight as well.
In the “Big House” on the PAYH campus, a drawing hangs on the wall of the second floor in a gallery of pictures and framed letters of Paul’s legacy. The drawing depicts Paul lifting a great weight with Jesus standing behind and over him with His own hands on the bar beside Paul’s. This drawing captures Paul’s self-description of his Gold Medal lift in the 1956 Olympics, found in the book A Greater Strength, Paul’s biography. It depicts the truth of Psalm 75:6-7, which Paul believed was the very reason he won the Gold Medal, even though weakened by a high fever which caused him to rapidly lose over 30 pounds in the short 13 days prior to his winning lift.
The Lord Jesus Christ assisted Paul in getting the winning weight overhead, answering Paul’s just prior vowed life-service-prayer to the King of Kings. It was an amazing lift, for Paul had failed in his first two attempts of the three allotted him. That same Jesus lifts you up also in the numerous vicissitudes of this life. Your lifting up by God is not necessarily as world-renowned as the case of Paul’s dramatic lift, but, nevertheless, it is just as critical to you in your own personal rescues by the Lord of Glory.
He lifts you up above the assaults of Satan on your being. He lifts you from the miry pit when in your own strength you cannot get out of the sucking-mud. Jesus wants to be asked to lift you beyond the powerful constraints of your sin. His sacrifice on the Mt. Calvary cross just beyond the gates of Jerusalem was for this very purpose – to lift you up to eternity when nothing but perishing was in your future.
He Himself had to accomplish what your own efforts were incapable of doing. His blood, His willing and voluntary sacrifice covers those who believe with His own performed righteousness. In other words, He provides you with the spiritual wedding clothes that preclude you from being thrown out of the wedding supper of the Lamb. You belong there because of what He did and you believed. Your presence is desired and is completely celebrated. Jesus did this!
He did the Gorky Park lift and Paul Anderson’s Olympic lift, but more critically, He lifts you up to eternity!


“Shackled by a heavy burden, ‘neath a load of guilt and shame. Then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same. He touched me, oh He touched me, and oh the joy that floods my soul! Something happened and now I know He touched me and made me whole.”
(First verse of William Gaither’s song, “He Touched Me,” 2001)
 


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Business, career and placement concept
Aug 21, 2019

Choosing Your Vocation

As young adults, most of us spent a lot of time contemplating what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives and which career path would help facilitate those plans. Some of us went straight into the work force in a career that we had always planned to pursue since we were young children. Others of us started college, picked an appropriate major, possibly changed it a few times due to indecision, and earned the necessary degree to start our chosen careers. Do you remember how critical it felt picking your vocational path? As an eighteen-year-old, the realization that your decision is going to impact the trajectory of your life can weigh heavily on you. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I don’t like this vocation as much as I think I will? What if I don’t succeed in this career path?
Perhaps some of us are currently switching vocational paths as circumstances have changed, opportunities have presented themselves, or our passions have evolved, and we’ve found ourselves asking those same pestering questions again. How do we make the right decision? Use these guidelines as you evaluate your own vocational choices and as your children ask questions about choosing their vocational paths:
Ask for Wisdom
First and foremost, simply ask God for wisdom and guidance. The Bible is very clear on this topic. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Similarly, Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…” and Proverbs 3:6 echoes, “…in all your ways submit to [God], and He will make your paths straight.” These verses demonstrate to us that God will direct us if we simply ask Him to do so.
Consider Your Talents and Passions
Secondly, consider the talents, giftings, and passions the Lord has given you. Are you particularly good at math? Maybe you have a passion for helping hurting people. Perhaps you love to be outside in God’s creation. Maybe you are an exceptionally talented teacher, listener, builder, mechanic, doctor, plumber, or restaurant manager. Whatever you are good at and/or passionate about, find vocations that allow you to use those things! God gave you your specific talents and passions for a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” He has equipped us to do His work. Use your talents and passions for His glory in whatever vocation you choose, and you will be satisfied in Him. Of course, you will have to make a living in order to survive, but you can do that and honor God in your vocation simultaneously. Ask Him to show you how and to help you do so.
Be Flexible and Obedient
Thirdly, be flexible and willing to do whatever you feel the Lord calling you to do and go wherever you feel the Lord is calling you to go. The vocational path you are currently on may not be the one He wants you on ten years from now. He may want to use you in different places for different tasks at different times. Be willing and obedient. Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” The Lord may change the course of our lives and throw off our plans, but we are foolish not to follow Him, even if it is uncomfortable and difficult at times.
Set Realistic Expectations 
Lastly, set realistic expectations. Don’t expect smooth-sailing all the time. You don’t just pick your dream job and then never have to worry about anything ever again; that’s not how it works. It will take hard work, and there will be bumps along the way. God may call you to a different path at times, and you may feel frustrated to leave behind the hard work you have diligently put in at any given career to follow His leading. Choose to trust Him in the enjoyable seasons and the challenging seasons alike. Follow Him in obedience and continue to use your God-given talents and passions to glorify Him and point others to Him in whatever vocational path He leads you to.


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Father And Son Playing On The Beach At The Day Time.
Aug 21, 2019

Glory in the Ordinary

“He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” -Isaiah 53:2-3


“They have a Hollywood-look” is a phrase often used to describe a strikingly beautiful or handsome person. Jesus would never be so described, not at least biblically, even though modern artists have variously portrayed him as quite handsome. Sallman’s famous head of Christ hangs in many homes throughout the world. He is not ugly in this much-copied painting, but we have no reason to believe this even comes close to Jesus’ real features. Those are truly unknown.
Apparently, He was a quite ordinary looking man. We have no references to His looks in Scripture, except Isaiah 53 tells us, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” Terribly ugly people, on the other hand, draw attention almost as much as beautiful people do. You can actually be so ugly it causes people to stare, like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Jesus drew no attention to His visage alone. He was obviously nondescript. For most of His life, He was satisfied with obscurity. His young adulthood drew no unusual attention. This is hard to believe since He was uniquely sinless. What does such look like? You have to wonder. Nazareth was a back-water town in a tiny country. Still, it contained the most unique man in all of history. How Jesus appeared to His family and neighbors is hidden from us, but it intrigues us, nonetheless.
At the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, His mother Mary came to Him with a strange request at the wedding of one of their relatives. She obviously knew Him well enough from growing up in her home to expect from Him a solution to the problem. The wine had run out. What did His mother know? What had Jesus’ life revealed to her that she would know He could fix this problem?
As He was growing up into young adulthood, why didn’t Jesus spark attention for His goodness, kindness, and tireless concern for others? How did the only sinless person in history not stand out in His community? He most likely did, but still His neighbors did not clamor to make Him a king. God, His Father, had a timetable in place for something quite other. Still, how did Jesus keep Himself relatively hidden in Nazareth for nearly thirty years?
Can a perfect-in-character one live among us and not be noticed or stand out prominently? Or do we not esteem such in our fellows? Yet, God was at work bringing His plan to fruition, and not even Satan could thwart it. So He lived until He began to draw attention to Himself by His teaching, knowledge, wisdom, holiness, and miracle working. Once He entered public ministry, His authority of speech and His very presence caused people to be mesmerized and enthralled. They hungered for His teaching.
The gospels describe Him frequently as drawing more and more notice from people, and His crowds grew exponentially. His was a personality to be reckoned with; He was a man with a mission. His words and miraculous acts drew hundreds to Him. His obscurity was over! However, then His enemies also came to the fore.
Isaiah described Him as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” We know this to be certainly true of His trial and crucifixion, but was this also true of His life as a teenager and a young man in His twenties? What caused the sorrows in His life? Did He lose His father to an accident or sickness?
What other sorrows accompanied His earlier life, other than running for His very life from evil King Herod as a toddler with His parents and then being exiled in Egypt? We are not told specifically what sorrows and grief He endured prior to His torturous trial and death.
Very possibly He was overcome with sorrow from the very nature of a sinful world filled with fallen people surrounding Him, this sinless Lamb of God. Perhaps He was grieved by the vast ignorance toward His Father among the populace, including His own siblings. He perhaps was as sad then as He was when He approached Jerusalem and wept over her because of the callousness to her desperate condition.
He made a living as a carpenter. He worked with His father in this business. He had to be one who was excellent at what He did because He pursued excellence in everything. Why was He not exclusively making furniture for kings, for the wealthy? What did He Himself think of the things He made?
We are left to the mysteries of imagining what His life entailed, except for what we learn of His very early life in the infancy accounts, one incident at the age of twelve, and finally what was told us of nearly three years of public ministry. This is exactly what and how much the Holy Spirit chose to reveal to us.
What do you learn from this? Perhaps you learn that your own life should be focused on eternity, rather than earth. You learn what it means to walk humbly with God in this world, while you yearn for what is beyond. You learn you are not here to accumulate things so much, but to develop and nurture God-like character in your life and personality. You learn to put on the same clothing as your Savior’s own nature. You learn that God creates glory out of the ordinary. Beauty of visage is not the most important thing, but beauty of your soul is.
Glory is not in how you look, it lies in who you are. Neither does glory arise from what you do as much as what He does in and through you. We are ordinary people, as we are weak people, but the ordinary is crowned with His glory, and our weakness becomes strong through His strength. Jesus’ very life turns your world upside down as it instructs you in the way everlasting. As the hymn writer says, “Jesus lives, and so shall I.”


“Jesus lives, and by His grace, victory o’er my passions giving, I will cleanse my heart and ways, ever to His glory living. Me He raises from the dust: Jesus is my hope and trust.”
(Third verse of Christian Gellert’s hymn, “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I,” 1757)
 


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Tourist Watching Sunrise Above Misty Hilly Valley
Aug 14, 2019

A Kiss

“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way…” -Psalm 2:12
“Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” -Luke 22:48


No two kisses could be so different! One reflects so much good, life-saving, and genuine delight of the heart, while the other reflects great betrayal with a depravity and poverty of heart. These are the only two mentions of kissing the Son in the Bible. They establish a good comparison of two drastically different kisses.
In some versions of Psalm 2, the translation “kiss the Son” can mean “give Him homage” or “kiss His feet,” but such are poorer translations by far. This translation gets to the crux of the meaning of the Psalmist. It means essentially to draw intimately near to the Son and love Him with all your heart.
Kissing may take on many forms, but the truest is that it is a strong expression of love and intimacy. “Hug the Son” is not quite so intimate nor as endearing. There is no sexual innuendo in this statement. This truly speaks about intimately drawing near to Christ with an everlasting love in your heart. It is the fruition of Romans 8:38-39, which says that nothing in all creation can separate me from Christ’s love for me or my love for Him. This is the type of bond found in the words “Kiss the Son.”
On the other hand, a “Judas kiss” betrays the worst in any soul. It exposes the true nature of a heart given over to sin. As Jeremiah speaks through the Holy Spirit, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can know it?” This reflects the great contrast of two vastly differing kisses.
Which one will you give the Son? Careful study will bring you to the correct conclusion that there is no in-between kiss. Lukewarm is still a depraved kiss. Your kiss is either all-in or something less which describes all of those lesser type kisses, from the warmest but still not all-in kiss to the coldest “Judas kiss.” Because of who He is – and to truly kiss the Son means you know very well who He is – your kiss must declare you are all-in with your whole heart, soul, and strength. It cannot mean anything less.
Think of Jesus’ letter to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3. He writes, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Any not all-in kisses are some temperature of lukewarm, which may just as well be cold as ice because in the Lord’s eyes lukewarm is the absolute worst.
I know we are often on the fence as we seek more knowledge, experience, confidence, whatever, but Jesus is not looking for equivocation. He is looking for decisive determination; sincere faith demands it.
In this day and age, many millennials as well as others choose to move in with a potential spouse, live together, test the waters before getting married. Some never take even that step, and most never last “till death do us part.”
This is what Jesus is talking about when He declares “Kiss the Son!” It is either all-in or nothing at all. Either He is who He says He is, or He is not. Either He is God, the only Savior of your soul, your only path to the Father, to an eternal home, to forgiveness of sin, to your salvation, or He is not. Once you really kiss the Son, you marry your soul to His enveloping arms, you find forever refuge in Him, and there is no divorce. No one can pluck you out of His hand.
This is what it is all about. Either kiss the Son, or do not. Do not try to play both ends against the middle. Jesus is either your all-in-all, or He is not. He will not play second fiddle to anyone or anything. “You will not take any other gods before me.” Your answer is only one; kiss the Son with all your heart, soul, and strength. Consequently, you will not perish in the way.


“That soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes; that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
(Sixth verse of anonymous hymn in Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, “How Firm a Salvation,” 1787)
 


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Lonely student being bullied by her peers at the university
Aug 08, 2019

Today Is a Day of Scoffers

“…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’…But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them!” -2 Peter 3:3-4, Jude 1:10-11


Scoffers are as old as Noah’s day; they have always existed from not many generations after Adam and Eve’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden. Just prior to the earth-wide flood, these had grown into a massive or even universal majority. Scoffers are very prevalent throughout both Old and New Testament history. They frequently appear in historical accounts covering the ages which incorporate the entire history of the Bible from creation to the completion of the first century of the modern era. They characterize the fallen nature of humanity and the utter depravity of sin.
The Scriptures also tell us that scoffers continue, of course, into the age of the church and up to today. They are a prominent feature in what the Bible describes as the “Last Days.” In fact, scoffers and their open and blatant scoffing is a featured recognizable mark of the time immediately preceding the Lord’s Return – the time in which we are now most likely living.
The meaning of scoffing and scoffers is found in the common vocabulary; scoffing in general about any and all things. However, when you draw from its use in the Scriptures, it always denotes those who jeer, disrespect, and deny the truth of God, that is, who He has revealed Himself to be, who we truly are, how God relates to His creatures, and how He saves or punishes them.
Psalm 1 divides all mankind into two and only two kinds of people: the righteous and the wicked. There are no neutral categories. The same holds true throughout Scripture, and the Great White Throne Judgment of Matthew 25 brings the final division of everyone into either sheep or goats; the sheep enter eternal life, and the goats are sent away to eternal destruction.
We live in a day unlike any other in history with access to instant and constant information of what is transpiring in most of the world. Consequently, scoffing is on full display. Since there is little news today in the mainstream media about God’s kingdom and the activities of His church, much of the secular news and entertainment now features scoffers of God and His followers. There are followers and worshippers of God throughout the world, but they are seldom on display and their teaching is never fully disclosed in the media or the news. Such is regularly censored by the networks and press.
Just in most recent days in America, the open scoffing of God’s truth in regard to His commandments and the willful violation of them is seen in policies openly promulgated by politicians and their supporters for things like unrestricted abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, acceptable extra-marital sexual activity, even adults with children, et cetera – flaunting, celebrating, and approving of actions which deny the One true God.
Scoffing has become a mainstream preferred activity by those who are most visible in a television and Internet age: entertainers, politicians, teachers and professors, prominent figures of all walks of secular life. You can observe that such are drawn to engage in the activity of scoffing so instinctively and so incessantly that they reveal unwittingly the true energy and motivation of their scoffing: the arch-enemy of Jesus, Satan. He, of course, hides himself like a cunning chameleon behind many diverse or sophisticated masks, so he is almost never acknowledged by most scoffers of the truth as it is in Jesus. Yet, the wise followers of the Lamb see his presence looming in the language, vitriol, and protests of the scoffers themselves.
To a certain extent, the manifest scoffing saturating our culture and the society of the world has a muting effect on the witness and testimony of the believer. He or she becomes reticent to dramatically show forth Christ by word and life character to minimize or shield any scoffing toward themselves. There is sometimes a desire, when under the scrutiny of the unbelieving world, to “fit in” with such a lifestyle and not be a “sore thumb,” so to speak, drawing more attention to yourself or creating guilt for the unbeliever by your own godly walk. Examining yourself, your language, and your behavior regularly to ascertain whether such fears are negatively affecting your clear witness of being an authentic Christ-follower is incumbent on you in sustaining your Christian footprint in your world.
It has become ever more difficult to give a clear message of salvation to skeptics in a scoffing world. Some desire to present a “nuanced” witness to the gospel message so as not to drive away unbelieving friends and cohorts with a too-direct approach. In Acts 15, Paul takes a “nuanced” approach to gain a hearing from unbelievers by speaking of the “unknown” God, but he eventually broaches the fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead which drives away some of those skeptics, while reaching others.
In assessing how many have actually drawn closer to actual redemption over many years of nuancing, you have to take stock of when you must choose to cut to the chase of clearly presenting Christ and His truth in line with the rapport you have established with them. You can only nuance for so long without losing them to the world, the flesh, and the devil. At some point, one must wonder whether your own testimony of a godly life, minus a clear verbal witness, has produced a desire in them to become a believer as yourself.
Psalm 1 is a succinct encouragement to the believer to take stock of your life in a world which is replete with scoffers at every turn. The promise of their dramatic increase today is being fulfilled before your eyes. It is a marker of the last days. Read 2 Peter, Jude, and Revelation, among others, to confirm this in your mind. Your happiness, your being truly blessed in the midst of such a world depends on your hearing the Psalmist in Psalm 1 and adhering by the Holy Spirit to his instruction. Delight and meditate day and night in God’s Word, and be recognized by your producing spiritual fruit!


“I ask Thee for the daily strength, to none that ask denied, a mind to blend with outward life, while keeping at Thy side, content to fill a little space, if Thou be glorified.”
(Third verse of Anna Waring’s hymn, “Father, I Know That All My Life,” 1850)


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Such-a-Time-as-This
Aug 06, 2019

This Month at PAYH: Monthly Newsletter, August 2019

For Such a Time As This...

Last month, at Tim’s Ford Lake near Winchester Tennessee, an eight year old boy was riding an inner tube being pulled behind a boat. When the tube crossed the wake of another boat, it flipped, and the child landed face-down and was rendered unconscious. Fortunately, a man named Brandon in a nearby boat witnessed this and went to assist. He pulled the boy from the water and began CPR. Brandon turned out to be the only one nearby who knew CPR, and ended up doing so for 30 minutes before the child expelled about a quart of water and regained consciousness. Shortly thereafter, he was placed in the care of emergency personnel and reunited with his family.
Had Brandon not been there to assist, it’s unlikely that the young man would have survived. However, God knew that this situation would occur before the foundation of the world, and placed Brandon there as a means of rescue. Years prior this incident, Brandon himself had also needed rescue, and through his time at Paul Anderson Youth Home, God provided Brandon with the help he needed.
None of us know the details of God’s plan for our lives, but we do know that as Christians He has called us to be agents of rescue to those who do not know Him, and to share His love and message of salvation with everyone we meet. Like Esther, we are called to make what difference we can; whatever the specifics of the situation, we can rest assured that God has placed us in it “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

Stories from the Home

Bike Ride Recap
Bike Ride RecapOver the course of 6 days, the PAYH young men and several guest riders made their way from Flagler Beach, Florida to Augusta, GA before heading back home. The heat was intense, and the wind was usually against them, but they persevered, riding 507 miles to complete the trip. The ride was both a media and fundraising success, garnering multiple TV and newspaper appearances and raising more than $140,000 to help further the PAYH mission.
Wings of Hope
Wings of HopeAt PAYH, we strive to teach our young men is the importance of giving back to their local communities. One of the ways this is accomplished is by giving them chance to put what they learn into practice. Each week, PAYH young men volunteer at the Wings of Hope Mission, operated by Lyons First United Methodist Church. There, they help those in need at the in-house food pantry, loading and carrying groceries for them. To learn more about this ministry, visit their Facebook page here.
Caleb’s Graduation
Caleb's GraduationTwo days after completing the PAYH Bike Ride, Caleb completed the PAYH program, graduating on July 22nd. At the ceremony, he spoke of his love for his family and his commitment to be the man he needs to be. Hear his story in his own words at payh.org/caleb.

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