“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” -Proverbs 14:29
“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” -Proverbs 16:32
The recent helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other men, women, and children was a terrible and tragic accident. We grieve for all the surviving families. Dense fog in the coastal areas of California is a common occurrence; it can create truly dangerous conditions of obscured sight, especially when you are in a moving conveyance.
The pilot of Bryant’s helicopter had apparently already circled the LA zoo six times waiting for the fog to clear, particularly in the Calabasas foothills north of LA. The pilot seemingly decided to try to navigate this area to get his passengers to their destination. His calculation proved disastrous.
We are all beset by the malady of impatience. Who among us has never been impatient? It is a human condition of all fallen creatures. Sin infects our human nature. None of us are God. We sin, and sin is an impediment to our sight. It renders us myopic; we do not see clearly, nor rightly.
Impatience is really a condition of presuming to be God when we really are not. God has no obstacles to His sight. He sees the beginning and the end. Nothing obscures His vision, ever! When our vision is obscured, we simply cannot see through obstacles. If we proceed impatiently, we gamble. Sometimes the gamble works; most times it does not. In this case, the pilot’s apparent gamble did not.
What does this tell you about your own impatience? Should you put yourself in the place of God, especially when things are not completely sure for you to proceed? If you cannot see clearly ahead and God has not given you any indication or authorization to go ahead, should you?
It comes down to letting God be God and, consequently, being assured that God is directing your paths. God has promised such guidance to His children. He tells us in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you,” and in Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” He also tells us to wait on Him; that is, He calls us to sometimes exercise godly patience. Psalm 27:14 instructs us, “Wait on the Lord…wait, I say, on the Lord.” When God indicates “wait,” I dare say you should listen to Him. When He says “Go,” you can move forward.
This instruction requires you to be close to God. You must draw near to Him and remain in that fellowship. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.” This implies intimate fellowship with Jesus which is there for the asking. Your faith recognizes He is there and asks for His counsel and guidance.
Often decisions need to be made in the spur of the moment. How do we wait in those situations for the Lord’s guidance? It is a matter of living continually in the Lord’s will. It is a matter where you build up a habit of waiting on the Lord, of being in His will, of developing a knowledge of how God desires you to live. If you must decide quickly, then proceed by faith, trusting the instincts of faith He works in you over time. You can trust Him to so guide your steps that you can make a precise and fast decision. This arises, however, from a habit of godly practice, the nurturing of a godly sense.
Remaining close to the Lord is the key. I believe we all know when the Lord is close to us or not. We go through certain times where we sense by faith a distance from the Lord. It is up to you to do something about it. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” is the promise in James 4:8. The key is staying close to God and drawing near to His heart, as a child crawling into your Father’s lap. Remember the words of the hymn: “Jesus, keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain…” Patience is always exercised in His strength alone. As the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“If thou but suffer God to guide thee and hope in Him through all thy ways, He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee and bear thee through the evil days. Who trusts in God’s unchanging love builds on the rock that naught can move.
Only be still and wait His leisure in cheerful hope with heart content to take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure and all deserving love hath sent, nor doubt our inmost wants are known to Him who chose us for His own.”
(First and third verses of Georg Neumark’s hymn, “If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee,” 1641)
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A Total MRI of You
“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” -Hebrews 4:12-13
Most of you by now have experience with MRIs. This is the most modern medical technology today, surpassing the X-Ray, that can give doctors a better look at what is going on inside you. As amazing as the MRI is, it cannot see all of you, for it will never capture your soul and spirit on film or computer. It utterly fails to produce any picture of your personality or the psyche quickening your body.
The soul and spirit is invisible to the eye. Strangers really have no idea who you truly are if they only see you laid out on a mortuary slab. But you still reside in the memories of those who knew and loved you. Those memories are within soul and spirit. Without them energizing your body, you are but matter which quickly decays. “You are dust, and to dust you will return,” says the Creator of your body.
Most have no idea how to “divide” soul and spirit or even if they really are two separate entities. What you do know is that you are a conscious, thinking, emotional person with your own identity. These intertwined realities are your private world of self-consciousness, and they provide the personal tools you use in relating to all others.
Most critically, these soul/spirit-properties connect you to God, whether or not you believe He is and especially when not seeing Him by faith. After all, you are made in His image even if you erroneously think your original human forebears sprang and evolved from primordial soup, rendering you merely the product of materialism. You, nevertheless, have an innate sense of God, even though you may ignore it. Created in His image, you cannot shake the natural inner sense that you are invariably connected to Him.
There are many things in this life which are invisible: wind, love, hate, anger, sense, thought, feeling. They are integral to soul and spirit, or whatever you choose to call your consciousness. You are aware there is a very real world which exists around you not consisting of matter. Whether or not you can see soul or spirit, they constitute what is most treasured in you.
Our text actually names the “MRI maker,” if you will, of your invisible self: God revealed in His Word. That Word which is self-described as “living and active” is far different than any other book or document. The One who spoke this Word to its authors says, “No creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” He describes this “soul and spirit MRI” of you as naked and exposed, bared to God alone. Even as you change, His “MRI” continues to capture the changes in you.
Do you truly want to understand the division between your soul and spirit? You must if you desire to know who you really are. It has been rightly said that all true knowledge consists of the knowledge of yourself and the knowledge of God; you cannot know yourself apart from a true knowledge of God. Fail to capture this, and you will remain in the dark in this life.
Learn who you are from God’s Word. It is a penetrating sword which will dissect your heart and mind, soul and spirit that you might know them thoroughly. You may not want to know, but remember, you cannot avoid such knowledge forever, especially when you stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
So, take up and read! Take time to meditate on what concerns you and God within your spirit. Come to know and see yourself in the light of God’s “MRI” of your bared soul, your natural breathing self, and your spirit’s yearning for God and eternal life.
You need not fear, for God is good to all who love Him. He puts “soul and spirit clothes” on you, and He sees you in the righteousness of His Son when He is yours and you are His. He will never cast you out of the wedding hall because you do not have the required dress. He provides the very clothes that those who cleave to Him will wear with ultimate joy.
“Search me, O God, my heart discern; try me, my inmost thought to learn; and lead me, if in sin I stray, to choose the everlasting way.”
(Fifth verse of Psalm 139, The Psalter, 1912)
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This Month at PAYH: Monthly Newsletter, January 2020
2020 Vision! It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about an individual, family, organization, or nation; everyone needs a plan and a purpose. The Bible itself makes this clear in Proverbs 28:18, in which Solomon tells us “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” A vision is meant to define what we hope to be and achieve in the long-term. It sets a goal and helps give meaning and inspiration to our work, giving us something to strive for.
So what is my vision for Paul Anderson Youth Home? I might shock you by telling you that I don’t have one, or at least that I don’t have a new one. What we have instead is simple – Paul Anderson’s original vision. In 1961 Paul and Glenda felt a call to help transform the lives of troubled young men, to plant God’s Word in their hearts, and to introduce them to Jesus Christ. As Paul once noted in his autobiography, “Our ethics will never change, but our methods must.”
We’re here today to do the same thing that Paul and Glenda first set out to do – to make disciples of these young men and bring them into God’s Kingdom. Some of the methods have indeed changed as Paul said they would. That’s why we now have things like a fully accredited high-school, a vocational program, substance abuse treatment, counseling, and a host of other services. Each of these initiatives supports our work, but they all must take second place to this overarching fact – Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be the foundation of this ministry!
So as we begin 2020, it is my hope that you’ll join with me in “praying without ceasing” (1st Thessalonians 5:17). I would encourage you to open your day with supplication to God, just as our young men and staff do each morning. Ask Him to continue to give us clarity of thought through the Mind of Christ (1st Corinthians 2:16), and thank Him for the many blessings He has poured out for you and for the Paul Anderson Youth Home. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has planned for the coming year.
Our vision for the future is 2020!
Col. Ken Vaughn
Chief Operating Officer
Stories from the Home
13th Annual Paul Anderson Christmas Dinner Theater
Nearly 700 guests joined us for dinner and the performance of “It’s Never Too Late,” written and produced by Vidalia’s own Suzanne Dixon. The story began in 1969 during the Vietnam War and told the stories of 3 veterans, one of whom was a PAYH alumnus. They shared their hopes and dreams with one another and promised to reconnect 50 years later. In the process, they learned that through Christ, it was never too late to make it right.
Boys’ Christmas Party
A week before Christmas our PAYH young men thoroughly enjoyed hors d’oeuvres with Glenda Anderson Leonard and Stephen Leonard at their on-campus home. Then they went to the Santa Claus, Georgia Community Center for a delicious dinner. Following delectable desserts provided by Col. Ken Vaughn and his wife, Holly, they played Trivia (which Cameron won) and exchanged white elephant gifts. After spending time with “Santa,” they were blessed by walking to a nearby chapel where they reflected on the true meaning of Christmas. In our PAYH Family tradition of ending meaningful times together by singing “Holy Ground”, that is how we closed the evening.
This past month, we celebrated Caden’s graduation. Although he wasn’t initially interested in a relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit remained persistent. Earlier this year, Caden made a personal commitment to Christ, which radically changed his outlook on life as well as his eternal future. In what became one of the highlights of his time at PAYH, Caden’s father was blessed to baptize him in our on-campus pool. Hear his testimony in his own words at payh.org/caden.
Right on the heels of Caden’s graduation, Lane also completed the PAYH program. Now, rather than a life lived apart from God and His saving Grace, he has new life in Christ, fulfilment through Him, and a new hope for the future. He has been accepted at a school where he will study automotive repair and plans to become a mechanic. Listen to him tell his story atpayh.org/lane.
Not only are each of our PAYH family members grateful for a new year and a new decade but we are also thankful that Jesus’ Blood covers our sins which allows us to keep short accounts with Him and each other. As we begin 2020, my fervent prayer is that we will meditate on Matthew 5:23-25 and ask God’s and each other’s forgiveness for our sins.
I have challenged myself and I also challenge you when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins of commission or omission that we QUICKLY ask God’s forgiveness and REPENT: make a 180 degree turn. If we have sinned against a brother or sister, my heart-cry is that we will IMMEDIATELY ask his or her forgiveness. In addition to saying: “I am sorry,” let us add: “would you please forgive me for…?”
THANK YOU for the HONOR of being laborers together with God and you in serving those He has entrusted to us!!Love in Christ,
UPCOMING EVENT: CHICK-FIL-A VIDALIA ROAD RACE
Whether you’re a competitive runner or enjoy a casual stroll, whether you like to compete with a team or do your own thing, or if you simply want a chance to spend your morning supporting a worthy cause, there’s a place for you on March 7th, 2020 at the 5th Annual Chick-fil-A Vidalia Road Race. Sponsored by Zorn Insurance, Spivey Orthopedic, Altamaha Bank and Trust, and Pineland Telco, proceeds from this year’s race will benefit both PAYH and Winshape Camps in Vidalia. We are expecting over 600 runners this March – don’t miss your chance to be one of them. Sign up at RunVidalia.com and visit our Facebook page atFacebook.com/RunVidalia.
We can’t wait to see you there!
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“In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye…” -1 Corinthians 15:52, Luke 16:19-31, and Luke 23:43
Take one final breath, and no more air fills your lungs. What then? What is the next thought, next sight, next feeling, if there is one, or is there just nothing? With no experience whatsoever from which to derive your answer, some folk, nevertheless, have what they feel is a pretty certain answer of what does or does not occur. Many others are not so sure. Some say they haven’t thought much about it, though I rather doubt it. Only those who never think, of which there must be few, are content to remain oblivious. However, this is not something to remain oblivious about.
Some quickly declare an answer. They seem to be certain the right answer really is “nothing!” I recently read a review of a book entitled A Meaning to Life by Michael Ruse, an atheist professor who has written or edited over 50 books. He says, “You are born. You live. Then you die. If you don’t think so, then you should! We come from an eternity of oblivion; we return to an eternity of oblivion.”
There are many who say such, like when I asked an elderly friend of mine, “What do you think will happen when you die?” He responded, “Nothing! Absolutely nothing!” Well, if you think that, you might as well sing the song, “Is that all there is?”
I have a very hard time understanding unobserving, non-musing, non-curious absence of thinking about this end-of-life moment as well as the meaning and purpose of all of life. The whole creation shouts the existence of meaningfulness, of purpose, of intelligent design, of a Creator who obviously delights in beauty, color, intricacies, diversity, magnificence. What do we have to do with this Creator of ours and of our home? Did all the extensiveness of creation, the wonder of it, the infinity of all which is really arise from pure chance plus a whole lot of time?
There is nothing in creation which actually shouts such randomness, chance, disorder, and unconnected spontaneity, or no plan and no planner. This really suggests a brainwashing of those who think this. Though there is no rationality to it, they are saying, “This is what I myself choose to believe; I believe it primarily because I deny the existence of God, the God who says He is, the only observable, very evident reason for all which exists.” His deniers look at the created universe and still shout, “No God” all in the face of His imprint on everything.
This suggests to me a real brainwashing and obviously, then, the existence of a brainwasher. And such a brainwasher there most certainly is; Jesus refers to him as “the father of lies” in Scripture. He is the great, intentional deceiver. He is the only explanation for the greatest deceit of all: that Earth, the Universe, all existence, everything sprang from nothing with no explanation or plausible reason for any initiating “spark” in something, by something, out of nothing, to give explanation to all you see.
And even though the Universe, scientists tell us, is moving inexorably outward from some unknown center, it truly is moving. Where? Matter with no meaning, mind, or intelligent designer creates by chance matter, acting upon itself, creating what we now observe. Is this the definition of inanity?
It is a great leap of faith, in my mind, to believe it. Such is just irrational thought! But it follows the plan of the great deceiver, telling you there is no God, there is no Creator, there is no infinite Mind. Psalm 14 consequently declares this truth to you: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
There is only this simple dichotomy before the eyes of mankind: God is, or He isn’t. If He is as He has declared Himself through His revelation – a revelation written over a span of 1500 years by a host of believing authors – there really is a next thought, next sight, and next feeling after your final breath. If He is not, against all evidence to the contrary, then your last breath means oblivion, annihilation, nothing, and this forever.
This, therefore, is your most serious question, and it invites the equally serious question: What do I have to do with God, and what does He have to do with me? What will be my first thought, sight, and feeling when breathing my last? Will it be nothing, will it be terror, or will it be joy?
You can know the answer to that before you take your last breath. In fact, you must know the answer to it before you enter eternity. The believer immediately says, with the certainty of his faith, “My eyes, in the time an eye twinkles, will feast on Jesus.” Nothing can produce greater joy!
“While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyelids close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see Thee on Thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”
(Fourth verse of Augustus Toplady’s hymn, “Rock of Ages,” 1776)
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Enemy Discernment in 2020
“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” -Hebrews 5:14
The American G.I. Rifleman Doug Hester tumbled out of the beach landing craft with his fellow Infantry soldiers into the same path of three other soldiers killed immediately in front of them by machine gun fire. It was early in the morning on June 6, 1944. He moved across the beach and over a wall to face three German pillboxes.
Rifleman Hester lobbed a grenade into one pillbox, immediately chasing out three enemy soldiers firing their weapons. The ensuing exchange killed all three. To his surprise, Hester then found an inscribed prayer book on one of the dead soldiers. He mused, “We were the ones who carried prayer books and Bibles. Why did he have one? Aren’t we the good guys and they the bad guys? Why was he carrying a prayer book?”
Six years later in 1950, five years after the war’s end, Hester sent the prayer book to the address he found inside. He was surprised to receive a letter in response from the mother in that home. She wrote, “We lost five children. Ernst was our last. The war took all that we possessed, including five children. In this letter, you will find a photo of my son. Take this as a souvenir of a German comrade whom you saw only dead but who was, in the depth of his heart, never your foe.”
Peter Caddick-Adams, an excellent British war historian, wrote this account in his D-Day history, Sand and Steel. He personally interviewed thousands of participants in producing the story of one of the greatest battles of all time. I am just finishing reading this over-one-thousand-page novel-like exciting history. This poignant vignette is one of many he includes in his book.
War produces great contradictions and the very sad results that a greatly fallen, sin-filled world creates. America’s Civil War caused a conflict in which brothers fought brothers, and though we otherwise fought foreign nations in our many wars, they too also resulted in Christians fighting spiritual brothers mixed in among the enemy of the other side, particularly in a world war. God has his remnant in every “tribe.”
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul expresses that we primarily wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the underworld of darkness, minions of Satan who also are liberally sprinkled in places of strength and influence among the nations of the world. Hitler and his fellow Nazis impressed German and other populations into its vast war machine to perpetrate catastrophic sin in the world. Many Christians were swept up into the entire evil effort.
In this new year of 2020, we are continuously faced with the challenge of spiritual discernment of good and evil, determining who is and who is not our true enemy. Is this thing of Satan or is it of Christ? The challenge is always before you. But God does not leave you without resources for discerning the one from the other.
The Spirit of God is available to every believer in Christ. The eyes of your heart are enabled by grace to fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. The sword of the Lord, the Word of God, is in your hand waiting to be transferred to your heart and mind, your mouth and your tongue.
But discriminate you must! Discern the enemy who cunningly seeks to lead you to the left or the right and not to the truth. Everywhere you look there is a stalking lion on the prowl, but there is also the Lord of Hosts. Fear the Lord, not the enemy. Ask for accurate discernment constantly, fill your mind with the Lord’s Word, trust and obey, and do not grow weary in well doing. By so doing, you add oil to your lamp’s well as you wait for the Bridegroom to return at midnight, according to your Lord’s loving invitation (Matthew 25). Be always ready!
“Rejoice, all you believers, and let your lights appear; the evening is advancing, and darker night is near. The Bridegroom is arising, and soon He draweth nigh. Up, pray, and watch, and wrestle. At midnight comes the cry.
See that your lamps are burning, replenish them with oil, and wait for your salvation, the end of earthly toil. The watchers on the mountain proclaim the Bridegroom near. Go meet Him as He cometh, with alleluias clear.”
(First and second verses of Laurentius Laurenti’s hymn, “Rejoice, All Ye Believers,” 1700)
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“And behold, the star they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” -Matthew 2:9-11
Are you related to Middle Eastern folk from the faraway past? Yes, of course you are! We know that all who are in Christ are members of the same family, adopted children of the Heavenly Father. This includes men and women from all tribes of the earth. The makeup of heaven reflects the great human diversity of the whole world, and we will one day speak the same language – the language of heaven.
The Magi of Matthew 2 are clearly believers in the long-prophesied King of the Jews, for they came on a distant journey bearing gifts to truly worship and adore Him. The rising of the star announced the birth, and they began their earnest journey soon after.
Although they were not a part of Israel, God’s chosen people, they were nevertheless knowledgeable about various scrolls of the prophets of Israel. Was the Persian exile of God’s people responsible for this knowledge? For Daniel, in exile, was appointed by the Persian king Nebuchadnezzar to be the head of all his wise men, called Magi (Daniel 2:48).
Even the Apostle Matthew called these obviously impressive visitors to Herod’s Court in Jerusalem “Magi.” They told King Herod they were searching for the King of the Jews because they had seen His star in the East announcing His birth – the same star that has mystified astronomers of every age since it first appeared.
These were believers who were descendants of the same Magi whom Daniel had taught and discipled in the truth of his convictions concerning the one true God. This exile, and particularly Daniel’s, provided a necessary piece of preparation for Messiah’s Advent. God ensured members of these Magi would come generations later bearing gifts – the same gifts which provided for the Holy Family in crisis. The great enemy Satan could not keep up with the meticulous and perfect providence of God. He sought to destroy; God meant to protect.
They are, you could say, “distant cousins” of yours, or rather brothers in the Lord. Readers and believers of the Word are aware of just how big and diverse their family of God really is, not only in present time, but in each age.
The Magi were Persians and part of a great empire. As in all ethnicities of the world, God has called out His remnant from each. There were definitely among these Magi those who were committed by faith to the one true God, the God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They searched the heavens with wisdom, and when this certain star appeared, they knew what it meant. Their excitement was palpable. Generations of their forebears had looked with anticipation for years, but they were the ones chosen to see it.
Epiphany, Monday the 6th, is just a day of the year to remind you to remember these not-so-distant relatives we will lay our eyes on in eternity. They kept watch along with each of their preceding generations, made the long journey, and found the object of their search: the babe, the son of Mary, Son of God, and Light from Light!
Can you see yourself bowing down to worship a baby or a small toddler you had never seen before? It sounds strange for grown adults. Yet the faith of these wise men was sure. They believed they were in the presence of God’s Son. At that time, He could not convince them by His great wisdom as to who He was, but they had studied enough, they had believed what they studied, the Spirit indwelt them, they had observed the sign of the star, they had followed the star to this particular house, and they were convinced by their certain faith. These were no dunces but rather men of great knowledge and maturity.
The wonders of this amazing, historic story bring continuous confirmation to your heart that you serve a great God and His Word never fails. The angels watch from heaven and are ecstatic with the unfolding fulfillment of God’s plan. They have to wonder why the children of men are not similarly overwhelmed with praise. May you not be like those who feel no great joy from their faith and seeing God’s plan unfold.
“As with joyful steps they sped to that lowly cradle bed, there to bend the knee before Him whom heav’n and earth adore; so may we with willing feet ever seek Thy mercy seat.”
(Second verse of William Chesterton Dix’s hymn-carol, “As with Gladness Men of Old,” 1860)
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