Payh Blog
Gravestones decorated with U.S. flags to commemorate Memorial Da
May 26, 2020

Ultimate Sacrifice

[Jesus told His disciples] “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13

The praise of the Lord is effusive for those who purposefully give up their life to save another! Memorial Day is a celebration of poignant gravity to remember and express gratitude for those who gave the last full measure of devotion, that the day might be treated appropriately.

The memory of those who died for your freedom adorn this celebration. There are numerous significant battles in these great wars where those who sacrificed their own lives died in massive numbers. Additionally, there are those occurrences where one died quite alone and separate from his fellows. They equally paid the price.

If the particular war had not been fought, the result would have been a triumph of evil and continued oppression of people who yearn to live freely. Countries like Germany and Japan perpetrated a terrible enslavement of others who prayed for freedom, the true gift of God. They willfully and arrogantly inflicted this terrible blight of life on their fellow creatures.

D-Day is one great, historical battle, among many, initiating the beginning of the end of a vicious enemy of freedom-loving peoples. Lust for power and racial hatred raised its ugly head before God raised up an instrument of justice to crush such purveyors of misery – and what utter misery it was! Thousands upon thousands sacrificed their lives on the beaches and in the hedgerows of Normandy, dislodging the enemy from what were once thought to be invincible defenses.

Even in the midst of such calamity of their destroyed cities and homes, with many family members killed or wounded, this liberated people shouted with boisterous acclaim to the foreign victors who utterly vanquished these oppressors. Nazi flags were ripped down, enemy prisoners marched into prison camps, weapons confiscated and destroyed. Concentration camps were overrun, though the horror they discovered was bone-chilling.

The once arrogant and powerful were defanged and humiliated. Eventually their leaders who had not already taken their own lives were executed. They came to the ignominious end they well deserved, though eternal judgment yet awaits them.

It was a war which involved an entire world; no one was left untouched. Many lives were manifestly devastated. This was a pandemic of violence and total upheaval.

These Memorial Days were once buttressed by fresh memories. Now those memories have faded, especially with the deaths of her veterans. A new generation of youth has shockingly asked not to be disturbed or made uncomfortable by any instruction about such wars. Its history fades according to the ignorance and neglect.

What is lost, however, is honoring the sacrifice the Lord expressed as “no greater love” directed toward you. Is this your thought on Memorial Days?

My wife and I have walked between the rows of thousands of crosses in the American Cemetery overlooking Utah Beach in Normandy. My mind and heart quietly thought of the thousands whose lives were snuffed out hardly before they started, all for the great cause of freedom – your freedom and mine.

Amidst the picnics and fireworks and joy of family, think on our Lord’s words spoken about this great sacrifice. This joy of celebration is due to the lifeblood of one and many seeping into the sands of Utah Beach, the lanes of Bastogne, and the hills of Okinawa. It is similarly found in the loving care of a nurse tending to the dying agonies of one gasping for breath due to the virus. Greater love has no one than this…

“I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend! He bled, He died to save me, and not alone the gift of life, but His own self He gave me! Naught that I have mine own I’ll call, I’ll hold it for the Giver. My heart, my strength, my life, my all are His and His forever.”

(Second verse of James Small’s hymn, “I’ve Found a Friend, O Such a Friend,” 1866)

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May 24, 2020

Memorial Day 2020

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Door In Sky
May 21, 2020

The Door of Heaven

“And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.” -Acts 1:9

Today is Ascension Day. This ascension of Jesus, to say the least, confounds the critics of Christianity and Scripture. It disturbs their understanding of cosmology and science. Rockets leaving Earth’s surface normally go into orbit, or they traverse space to reach other planets in the solar system; in essence, they remain within the visible universe. In contrast, the Bible presents a number of historic events in which a door is passed through into another realm of existence – an existence every bit as real.

These events include the disappearance of the patriarch Enoch from this life to another without his traversing death. It includes Jacob actually wrestling with God with physical ramifications to himself; he also views a ladder into heaven with angels ascending and descending and the Lord gazing down upon the scene from the top of the ladder from another realm. They include Moses’ interactions with God, his face retaining for a time a physically-witnessed glow from those encounters, and also bringing back from the mountain stone tablets inscribed by the “finger” of God.

Elijah leaves his existence on earth in a chariot drawn by angelic horsemen. Centuries later, he appears with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration, conversing with Jesus in the presence of three of His disciples. These two leave this realm again when they are enveloped in a cloud. At the exact time of Jesus’ death on the cross, saints in glory returned to their just-resurrected bodies, leaving their tombs and appearing to many others in Jerusalem.

Where was Jesus during the forty days after His resurrection when He was not appearing to His followers and the apostles? Then, we come to the few brief accounts of Jesus leaving the surface of terra firma and ascending into a cloud as He disappeared from the sight of His saints.

What are we to make of all these events of “passing through a door” between two realms of existence? What are we to think of Jesus’ words of the Kingdom of Heaven being in our very midst? Just where are these courts of heaven located? Why did Jesus ascend into the sky and disappear into a cloud as He was taking leave of earth? When He returns just as He left, why does He again appear on the clouds? These are all fair questions to think about.

The Bible says that Jesus ascended into the sky before His disciples’ eyes. They lost sight of Him when He entered a cloud. This is what their eyes saw. They were eyewitnesses. Were they all deceived by an illusion they each described without any variance? Or did it happen exactly as their eyes all witnessed? You were not there; you believe by faith in what the Scriptures relate. But there is ample evidence to believe the Scriptures as written and know billions join you in that faith.

The promise of future events rests on the history of what took place and was verbally linked by angels to what we anticipate in the future. They told them, “This same Jesus will return in the exact manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1).

Ascension Day reminds you to look forward with certainty to Jesus’ like return. It informs your mind and heart that there truly is a door between the world of your present experience and the courts of heaven. It suggests this other realm might actually be in our midst, removed from your sight and your hearing by the mere shift of molecules. The scientific knowledge of this may be beyond you, but the evidence suggests it.

These events of moving from one realm to the other are historical. There is a door between earth’s realm and the realm of heaven. The Ascension happened. Likewise, Christ’s return is certain. You will traverse that door yourself, and one day there will be no need of any such door.

“To whom the angels drawing nigh, ‘Why stand and gaze upon the sky?’ Alleluia! Alleluia! ‘This is the Savior,’ thus they say. ‘This is His noble triumph day.’ Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”

(Third verse of Venerable Bede’s hymn, “A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing,” 673-735)

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Rays Of The Sun Through The Clouds. Clouds And A Blue Sky With A
May 13, 2020

The Surprising Encounter

“Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” -Luke 24:32

They had been clobbered by the events of the last few days; they were really in a total stupor. They shared over and over with one another all that had just happened while they tried to make sense of it. They were in the process of escaping the scene of the crime. At least, they themselves were convinced this was a crime and one of great injustice. Now they were getting out of town, and they were quite fearful of being arrested or even worse because these two were known disciples of the Executed One.

The “Stranger” who joined them as they walked began to question them to spark their memories. Then He took them to school. Within hours, they had a course of study no seminary student ever enjoyed. They learned what they might have learned over the previous three years from the Master-Teacher if they had only taken the content of their discipling by Him to heart and meditated on it earnestly, with the scrolls of Law and prophets right in front of their eyes.

He opened their eyes to the mysteries of the Old Testament, which had one theme in all of its thirty-seven books: Jesus the Christ! All of those books pointed forward to the focus of all of history: the coming of the Messiah. The words of these books explicitly and accurately prophesied His coming, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His coming again. You can find every bit of it in its pages. The Old Testament points ahead to the New, while the New, written very soon by these revived disciples, elucidates the Old.

The dramatic appearances of Jesus in these forty days between Resurrection and Ascension sent the disciples into earnest study of His Word with renewed insight. Their memories were reinvigorated with the validation of a living Lord. Their brain cells locked on all the words this One had spoken to them. When the Holy Spirit came with supernatural power at Pentecost soon after His ascension, He brought the Word of the Lord home to their minds and hearts; it literally burned in them.

Jesus amazed these two men walking to Emmaus with transforming, penetrating instruction and then did the very same thing with all the disciples gathered together in hiding that same evening. These forty days were necessary to sparking the fire of the New Testament church, a fire which has now not been quenched throughout two millennia.

Today you are one week short of the critical forty days Jesus remained on earth from His empty tomb. How many days are you now short of His return, which will come like a lightning bolt? Just as suddenly as Jesus joined these two on this road to Emmaus, He will appear on the clouds “with every eye seeing Him.” Jesus’ teaching in the days just prior to His death emphasized one thing: a sudden return! Can you rest on your laurels?

The starkness of the trumpet, the flash of a lightning bolt, a piercing shout that the Bridegroom is here. Just as the music stops in the final Jeopardy round, nothing more is written, and your hand freezes. Not another word of faith or curse is spoken; everything regarding salvation is done. Jesus repeatedly warns: Be ready! The clock strikes twelve in a split-second.

“Every eye shall now behold Him, robed in dreadful majesty. Those who set at naught and sold Him, pierced and nailed Him to the tree, deeply wailing, deeply wailing, shall the true Messiah see.”

(Second verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending,” 1758)

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May 12, 2020

This Month at PAYH: Monthly Newsletter, May 2020

The New Normal

I cannot believe how much our daily lives have changed in the last few months.  I don’t think any of us could have imagined the impact the coronavirus would have when we first heard about it.  Here at the PAYH, we have been on a shelter-in-place order since the end of March with only essential staff allowed on campus.  We have established protocols that we follow to screen staff as they come in, no visitors, washing our hands, practicing social distancing, sanitizing, etc.  I have heard many people say that when this ban is lifted there will be “a new normal,” that life will never go back to the way it was.

The Lord recently reminded me that this is exactly what the Paul Anderson Youth Home is all about.  For over fifty-nine years, young men have come to our campus where they remain while learning how to make better decisions.  Essentially, they follow a shelter-in-place order.  They are here not only for protection, but also to learn “a new normal.”  A life where they apply what they are learning and begin to make wiser choices.  Addictions and bad behavior have been addressed and they begin to have HOPE for a productive future instead of the hopelessness they felt when they arrived.

Our boys also learn about our God’s eternal love.  It is our prayer that each young man who becomes a member of our PAYH family makes the decision to invite Jesus into his heart.  We know that God calls us to “plant the seed.” Sometimes we have the awesome privilege of seeing young men come to know Him while they are with us, and other times, they make this life altering decision after they leave.  We are grateful for our many partners who regularly pray for our boys and staff.  Would you join us in praying for their salvation as well as their “new normal?”

Betty Burris

Betty Burris

VP – Outreach & Compliance

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Happy mother's day! Mom and her daughters children girls are pla
May 05, 2020

The Mother of All Living

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” -Proverbs 31:28-29,31

We celebrate another Mother’s Day on Sunday, a day for remembering just how important mothers are to us. It is a day for expressing gratitude to one who has provided the most critical and early essentials in your life. Your mother is one in a long line of mothers preceding us. You know your grandmother, and you very possibly might even have known a great-grandmother, but of all, it is still your own mother who is most precious to you.

We all have the same exponentially great-grandmother. Her name is Eve. She is the very beginning of a long line of those we call “mother.” She holds a unique place which no other will ever hold: She is the first! Her genes, her bloodline, the color of her eyes and hair were all received directly from her Creator, but yet a little bit of her is in you. God formed her, interestingly, from her husband’s rib.

Her face resembled none before her, for there wasn’t anyone who preceded her or her husband Adam. God designed her as the first woman. She very likely had no belly button, for she had no need of an umbilical cord. She never experienced the womb or a birth canal. She never knew infancy or childhood, puberty, or perhaps even being a teenager. We just do not know what child-bearing age Eve began her immediate life.

Eve was the premier woman and became the first mother to experience giving birth. She had no mother to instruct her other than God, who is as good a mother as He is a father (Isaiah 66:13). If she had not become pregnant and given birth, the human race would never have surpassed two. She birthed Cain, Abel, Seth, and others, both daughters and sons; we have no idea how many.

We have heard of some of the great mothers of history, but most, great and not so great, are completely unknown to you. However, you do know Eve through the little account which Scripture relates. There were mothers after mothers in every place humanity spread around the earth – mothers of every language, every race, every shape of eyes, every hue of skin. All were mothers who had the same experiences, whether in poverty or plenty, which every mother understands. What Eve did and lived was unique, but all after her know the joys and sorrows of those same experiences which constitute motherhood.

Because Adam and Eve sinned, begetting a fallen world, there are no perfect mothers. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There are both good and bad mothers, but I like to think, different than perhaps fathers, there are many more good mothers because of their giving birth to vulnerable tiny ones who must rely on them for absolutely everything necessary to their life and survival.

Giving birth is no easy matter. It is not an overnight proposition; this takes, more or less, nine months of dramatic changes to body and life. The miracle of birth itself is not without pain and, well, labor. However, that work has only begun; the rearing of children is a 24/7 proposition. Some have accomplished this work quite well and others not so well. Proverbs 31 expresses that industrious mothers are deserving of praise, and this they are for so many more reasons than those nine month periods and those first five years of life. A mother is a mother for her entire life!

So, while Mother’s Day may be a modern invention, it is not trivial. Proverbs 31 was written approximately 3,000 years ago, but I am sure its words were thought long before being written. You do not need an early Sunday in May to show gratitude and well-spoken praise to your mother. Your life should be a continuous expression of gratefulness by both word and deed, first to God, and very possibly second to your mother.

“When Jesus [on the cross] saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” -John 19:26-27

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