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Aerial. People Crowd Background. Mass Gathering Of Many People.
Feb 26, 2020

One Among Many

“In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” -Job 12:10


You are a member of the human race. That numbers you as one mere person among a vast cloud of innumerable people constituting an entire population which includes every era from Adam and Eve to the present and on to the last birth in history. Can you imagine this multi-everything human family? Not only all who ever took a breath of air, cradle to grave, but also those nearly numberless conceived beings aborted, miscarried, or dying in the womb? This is an inconceivable number!

So many, in fact, it is impossible not to consider there will be many of these who, if it were possible, would easily fall through the cracks of significance; the obscure, the unnoticed, those so inconsequential they will be remembered by none.

Think, for example, of those people who died in battle among thousands of others on a fatal invasion beach, drowned in the sea before reaching land, were vaporized in some explosion, were simply left to die in a marsh or jungle, or died alone and were never found. There are millions of all ages who die of malnutrition or disease. Some children run away to never be searched for by a loved one. The situations number in the multimillions of those who ceased breathing devoid of anyone’s knowledge. Did these obscure deaths really matter?

Yet, being so finite, not only can you not fully imagine the size and perspective of this innumerable crowd of folk, but is contemplating this even important to you? How does meditation on this idea really impact you or your wellbeing? Why would you bother to even think deeply about it?

Well, while this may be unimportant to you, it is seriously important to the One who made each one! His acquaintance with each peculiar person also gives you your own significance. You are not garbage! You are not unknown. You are not trivial. But your value, your personality, your life only has value because you matter to Him. Your identity is rooted in the God who is and who knows and who created.

The eternal significance of each and every person, from the littlest to the greatest, rests in the infinite mind and heart of God. No one dies at any age unnoticed by Him, from the miscarried to the centenarian, from those who die all alone to those who die surrounded by a crowd of loved ones. Of the myriads of individuals who have lived in every place, on every continent, in poverty and wealth, in sickness and health, none are invisible to the personal Almighty God. This truth is truly beyond me! I am really too finite to bring this into meaningful focus.

In our finite nature, we do not fully comprehend it. It escapes special notice. It is not a point of imagination; it is simply unappreciated. Yet the Bible tells us it is true. In certainty, each and every soul who ever lived and died will one day stand before God at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and all will be separated into “sheep or goats” (Matthew 25).

The actual salvation status of every person lies entirely in the hands of God, who reads all men’s hearts and situations. He knows whether or not you are “in Christ,” and God is thoroughly just in every case.

I believe this is still worthy of your meditation and specific thought, and it is also worthy of your praise of the One who rules over each one whom He has uniquely formed. Each owes their being to the One who created them in His image, with no individual choice involved in their creation. They are simply because He chose to create them for His own glory. Each finds their being, significance, value, and identity alone in the One who called them to be.

This is the point. You are not refuse! You are individually significant and will not be forgotten. It is hard to imagine when there is such a vast number, but so it is. Will you come to know individually in eternity each one who has been created and enters eternal life? I rather think so because time is no factor. Eternal life is beyond anything we can think or imagine.

The truth to cling to is God knows you, and He will never leave you or forsake you. You are significant even though you are one among an innumerably vast family. This invokes you to search Him out in earnest, to come to know Him as He directs, through His Son, for knowing Him is life eternal (John 17:3).


“There’s not a plant or flower below but makes Your glories known, and clouds arise and tempests blow by order from Your throne; while all that borrows life from You is ever in Your care, and everywhere that man can be, You, God, are present there.”

(Third verse of Isaac Watt’s hymn, “I Sing the Almighty Power of God,” 1715)


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Close Up. Happy Business Partners Shaking Hands
Feb 19, 2020

No Offense Taken

“And He said to her, ‘For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.’ And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.” -Mark 7:29-30


Too many are offended so trivially these days. This is an era of offense. “You offend me!” rolls off peoples’ tongues so easily. Their being offended on a mere whim takes priority over the importance, correctness, or even incorrectness of the point intended in the first place. Easily becoming offended is the great barrier to effective communication; the offended shut their ears to hearing, understanding, and wisdom.

If the Gentile Syrophoenician woman had taken offense at the “rude” words Jesus had to say to her, her daughter would have remained in her condition. There would have been no healing for her young child.

As it was, the fact that this woman did not take personal umbrage at Jesus’ words displayed her faith and her perseverance to get from Jesus what she most needed and greatly desired. She knew Jesus was the answer, her only hope for her daughter. Her faith was such that she would let nothing dissuade her; such necessity doesn’t bow to anything else less important. Taking offense to the Savior’s words was the last thing she was going to do.

In response to her request to heal her daughter from a demon who possessed her, Jesus said, “Let the children [of Israel] be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” In essence, Jesus called the woman and her child “dogs.” Yet rather than take extreme offense at His characterization of her and her daughter, she said immediately, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7:27-28).

Jesus recognized her response to Him as persistent and amazing faith. She would not take “no” as an appropriate answer. She would have His healing of her daughter as the answer she truly sought and prized. She would not be offended. Her predisposition was not offense; it was receiving Jesus’ power to heal!

And Jesus recognizing her abundant faith did just that. He immediately healed her young daughter. She went home knowing Jesus’ words to her were true, for she found her daughter home in bed, healed.

Many others, especially in our day, would have taken great offense at Jesus’ characterization of this Gentile woman and her daughter as “dogs.” They would have resorted to hurling swear words back at Jesus. Their rage would have been out of control. How dare Jesus call them “dogs!”

But this mother accepted Jesus’ naming of them and came back immediately with a humble response, “Even the dogs scarf up the crumbs which fall under the table.” She essentially said, “We are more than willing to pick up any crumbs from the bread You have to offer!”

The moral lesson to you is the far better response of humility rather than offense, calmness rather than rage, and truth rather than false pretenses. None of us deserve more than crumbs. Crumbs are a supreme blessing rather than nothing. Nothing is what we all deserve. Such an attitude becomes each one of us.

Those who take offense are pompous, proud people. They are angry people set off by the minutest reason to take immediate offense at anything. They believe the world owes them something. They are “Greta Thunbergs” waiting to thunder on you for your stupidity, even though they truly are behaving like immature, spoiled children.

Do not take offense, but rather treat others as better than yourself as becomes a follower and imitator of Jesus (Philippians 2). Display humility, which is the opposite of taking offense. Fight to always put and keep yourself in the right light – as a dog scarfing up the crumbs from the Master’s bread.


“Let Your love my heart inflame. Keep Your fear before my sight. Be Your praise my highest aim. Be Your smile my chief delight, be Your smile my chief delight.”

(Second verse of Ralph Wardlaw’s hymn, “Christ, of All My Hopes the Ground,” 1817)


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Senior Couple Hold Hands As They Walk Along Shoreline On Winter
Feb 11, 2020

Love

“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” -1 John 4:16


Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love and romance and, of course, sell lots of cards, flowers, and candy. My wife and I were engaged on the day before Valentine’s sixteen years ago. So, yes, it holds a special memory for us. The key word associated with this day is “love,” expressed to the “loved one” in myriads of ways such as cards, flowers, candy, dinner, kisses, hugs, and the words, “Will you be my valentine?” or “I love you!” All fall short of their goal if love is not genuinely exercised.

What exactly is love? I think dictionary definitions fall short in really capturing love’s true essence. Read a few; most of them use a lot of words about certain feelings toward another one or thing. What then really is love? Everyone seems to know or at least claim to know what it is but cannot define it simply in one or two words. Try it yourself; I’ll bet you can’t.

The Bible can, though. In fact, it uses one word to define love. 1 John 4 says, “God is love.” What does it mean? Essentially, it means you cannot know or understand love apart from knowing and understanding God.

So, are we saying non-believers cannot love? Apparently, the Bible says this. If the true definition of love is God, you cannot genuinely define love – at least genuine, authentic love – separate from Him. He is the essence of love. The experience and understanding of love is inextricably connected to God: who He is, what He does, and what He has done.

If what you think is love remains in your heart and mind unconnected to God, it is really not love. It is pseudo-love, false love, and far less than the true meaning of love. You may think it love, you may define it as love, but you will never be satisfied by it. In its true expression, love always satisfies. If disconnected from God and from the full appreciation that He showed love in sending His Son to die for you, what you call love will always fail to live up to true love.

We are told that “love never fails,” and this is true. However, if unconnected to God, what you call love always fails. God is love! Such love simply does not fail. It always satisfies; it is eternal.

You may say, “I know what love is, and I know how to love! So, get off my case!” But if what you call love is devoid of God, it will fail, it will never satisfy, it will not persevere, and it will not remain. If it doesn’t do these things, it fails to be love; it is nothing but a poor, miserable substitute.

The Bible speaks truth: God is love. Apart from Him, you will neither know love nor express it. Read about the nature of love in 1 Corinthians 13. You will not know such love nor exercise it without knowing and clinging to God.

So, when you say the words, “I love you,” and think you really mean it, ask yourself if God, through your knowledge and love of Him, is in those words, providing their essence and meaning, and backing what you say. If He isn’t, then your words are a lie. You don’t really love; you only think you do, and that is not much good.

If you want love to satisfy you and your hearer, if you want the words, because they are true, to accomplish their purpose, then speak them in the knowledge and assurance that God, your Lord and Savior, has enabled you to say them. “I love you!”


“My song is love unknown, my Savior’s love to me, love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be. O who am I that for my sake my Lord should take frail flesh and die?”

(First verse of Samuel Crossman’s hymn, “My Song Is Love Unknown,” 1624-1683)


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SFTD-2.6.20-Feature
Feb 04, 2020

Has Modern Technology Made Your Life Better?

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.” -Mark 1:35


The other day my wife said to me, “I wish we could return to the pre-technology life. Things were really easier then, though the labor was harder.” Is this true?

Milking cows, doing chores, putting three meals together each day without time-saving gadgets? Cleaning without a vacuum or an electric washing machine? Really? It took so much time. In contrast, we save so much time with modern technology!

However, we must also consider life with smartphones and iPads, which tie up hours with phone calls, emails, news, and games. We must also recognize that the amazing ability to carry an entire library or entertainment platform in our pockets on a gadget often results in excessive time engrossed in what it provides.

I am currently culling all of my library and my large collection of many, many books. I asked my son if he wanted a quite nice series of a dozen hardback, colorfully illustrated do-it-yourself books for building or fixing anything and everything in your house. “Oh no, Dad, I just google anything I need to know!” Duh!

Has technology truly made our lives easier and less time-consuming? Or does the massive time-saving cause us to fill our lives with many, many other things? Are we, as one wise writer put it, “amusing ourselves to death?” Are we just saving time to fill our lives with many extraneous, non-essential things provided by modern technology?

I personally remain stupefied by the saints of past ages before technology – people like Luther or Calvin, who wrote hundreds of amazing books in hand-script without computers or Internet. They wrote not with ball point pens, typewriters, or computers with Word, but with quill and inkwells. They composed books not of whimsical, trivial, time-antiquated matter, but books of deep, intelligent, and timeless subjects, transforming soul and spirit; books elucidating Scripture, teaching God’s nature and attributes, and shepherding and feeding sanctification within their readers.

Technology large and small allows you to travel farther and faster, while keeping you well-fed, entertained, and occupied; doing burdensome tasks in moments instead of hours; keeping you in touch with many people and multi-tasking in many arenas.

But are we truly more invested in eternal things? Are we better enabled to become more and more sanctified, dying more and more unto sin and living more and more unto righteousness? Are we growing in grace and drawing ever closer to the Savior?

The manner of true sanctification and closer fellowship with the Lord seems to eschew technology. Such seems to not be a technology thing; it is rather a spiritual thing. It is heart, soul, and mind engaged with God. It is a matter of seeking time and meditative quiet so that, even in alternate moments of noise and clamor, fellowship is neither inundated nor excluded. Prayer is not enhanced by technology. It is wholly separate from technology or non-technology. Technology is a distractor, neither an aid nor a multiplier of holiness.

Rather, it is a matter of following the example set by the Lord in His earthly life: drawing away from the hubbub of life to be alone with the Father, entering into the intimacy of your spirit relating to God and being genuinely filled with His Spirit. Technology knows not and does not naturally encourage this.

Use of technology means you are interacting with someone(s) or something(s) other rather than your spirit drawing near to the Spirit and your soul conversing with and loving the God who is without distraction. Such was maybe more possible in pre-technology days, for it now necessitates more rigorous discipline and highly habitual isolation from technology’s grip on you.

The quiet thrall of yearning to be filled and being consequently satiated with Him cannot be equaled by all the finest and newest technology in the world. It simply fails to satisfy the hungry heart. He says to you, “My kingdom is not of this world!” And so it is.

Technology can be a blessing; it can also be a curse. It can introduce a cacophony of evil into your life. It cannot necessarily be escaped as a part of this modern life, but it can be avoided as the distractor to becoming more Christ-like. It must save you time for drawing near to God, not for being immersed in the world. It is a difficult task because the temptation to be drawn away from fellowship with God and His Son is only a touch away.

The discipline to find time for God is more difficult in a technology age. You must keep that truth in the very front of your mind and constantly order your life to Him, or your regrets will destroy you. Fall in love with God, not technology!


“Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart. Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee as Thy beauty fills my soul, for by Thy transforming power Thou hast made me whole. Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.”

(First verse of Jean Sophia Pigott’s hymn, “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting,” 1876)


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This-is-My-Commandment
Feb 04, 2020

This Month at PAYH: Monthly Newsletter, February 2020

This is My Commandment

It’s February – the month in which we all seek to prove our devotion to and affection for our spouses. Many consider this demonstration to be of extreme importance, and (as a married man) my wife has informed me that I agree. We back this up with our wallet; this Valentine’s Day, Americans will give each other approximately 144 million cards, 58 million pounds of chocolate, and 8 billion of those chalky conversation hearts (yes, people still buy these). In all we will spend around $20 billion.

That’s a great deal to spend to prove our love, but it pales in comparison to what God has done for us. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” For most of us, Valentine’s Day is about mutual affection, but the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made when He took our sins upon Himself was entirely one-sided. We did nothing to deserve it and had nothing of value to give Him in return, yet He chose to do it anyway for one simple reason – He loves us!

If Christ was willing to do this for us, what excuse do we have to do anything short of loving one another? The answer is plain – we don’t. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done, or who they are, or if they are our enemy. The example Christ set is clear, and His directive in John 15:12 is explicit: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

We will never meet someone that God doesn’t love.

Stephen-Nichols-Signature

Stephen Nichols

Director of Communications

Stories from the Home

Conclave 2020

Conclave-

Three PAYH staff members (Tim Ritchie, Victoria Shuman, and Stephen Nichols) recently spent a weekend in Chattanooga at the Conclave 2020 conference. While there, they spoke with pastors, youth pastors, and volunteers from 11 states about the services that PAYH offers and how young men have found new life in Christ while in the PAYH program. They also were able to tell them about Paul’s history as a legendary strong man and how he gave up fame and fortune to answer God’s call on his life.

SEPC Work Day

SEPC

On January 17th, volunteers from the Southeast Produce Council came to PAYH to help renovate the Goodness Garden.  Working alongside our young men, they dug up the old timbers that formed the raised beds and replaced them with new oak beams.  The beds are like new again and are now ready for the many crops that will be gown and harvested in the years to come.  Afterwards, they enjoyed fellowship at lunch and sat down with Col. Ken Vaughn as he shared his vision and plans for PAYH.  We want to extend a special thank you to all who gave of their time and resources to make this day a blessing to the PAYH and the young men we serve.

Leadership-Toombs

Leadership Toombs-Montgomery

21 members of Leadership Toombs-Montgomery visited the PAYH campus on January 30th to learn more about our ministry. PAYH Director of Advancement Tim Ritchie spoke about the history of the home while two of the young men gave them a tour. Afterward, they joined us for a meal and fellowship. According to their website, their program is designed to “enhance a participant’s awareness of our community and its needs by examining how leadership in the historical, geographical, educational, economic, governmental, and cultural segments work together to perpetuate and advance the Toombs-Montgomery area.” You can learn more about this initiative at toombsmontgomerychamber.com/leadership-development/.

UPCOMING EVENT: CHICK-FIL-A VIDALIA ROAD RACE

Chick-Fil-A-Race-2020-Promo

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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