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Jun 30, 2020

Is the “City on a Hill” Nearing Its End?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” -Matthew 5:14


God’s providence which mightily blessed the American Republic will not be forgotten when the history of mankind is revealed at the final Judgment. Those marks have been etched in the fabric of the hearts of believers around the world over its two-and-a-half-century existence.

This history will be seen from the perspective of the Man of Truth. After all, He raised America up and blessed her as both a gospel light and an encourager to the nations of the world. Though sorely oppressed by many wars, in her fallen state she still provided a place of safety for the church’s missionary enterprise to reach into all the world, into places of danger and martyrdom.

On Saturday, we celebrate the 244th birthday of a country, which is not that old compared to say China’s 3,000-year history. Yet the United States has the longest time period of any country under a single governing authority: the U.S. Constitution. This Constitution protected the free exercise of religion when so much of the world was persecuted by religious oppression and tyranny.

America, while enjoying the blessings of freedom for nearly two-and-a-half centuries, is today fraying at the edges. Her heart is being infected with the vestiges of encroaching bondage. Freedom is no longer a blessing in the hearts of those clamoring for socialism to replace democracy or the principles of Marxism and Sharia to be substituted for the Bill of Rights.

Modern “education” has led many to supplant the love of costly freedom for the yearning of “free stuff” offered under the mesmerizing propaganda of deceptive socialism. The history of socialism is utterly ignored in its consistent production of tyranny, economic failure, and especially the fierce constraint of the gospel of the followers of Jesus Christ.

How much longer will we celebrate the independence of our country from the bondage of tyranny? Flying on a crystal-clear night from St. Louis to Colorado on a July 4th years ago, I observed one firework display after another across the plains in many cities and towns, expressing this joy for independence by her citizens. It was a thrilling sight. There are now numerous voices which trumpet an end to such freedom in their call for humanism and socialism, which includes the stifling of God’s Word.

The “City on a Hill” is now being kicked to the curb. The exceptionalism of costly sacrifice to relieve world oppression and spread the gospel to far horizons is belittled by many scorners and skeptics. Is God ready to set her aside as an instrument in the world of His mercy and grace? Short of a great revival through the renewed triumph of the gospel, America is perhaps nearing the end of her usefulness as a providential tool of the Master.

There are still a remnant of those who treasure freedom, bought and sustained at terrific cost, who will remember what God wrought in her on her birthday this Saturday. They will be thankful to God that He blessed her for a time as a “city on a hill,” despite the machinations of the Man of Sin, the prince of the power of the air. However, permanent victory over him was secured by the Savior at the cross 2,000 years ago, and though America will inevitably fail, we members of His body will reign with Him as citizens of heaven.


“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free; let us all be grateful for a land so fair, as we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above. From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home.”

(Song by Irving Berlin, 1918 and 1938)


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Jun 23, 2020

Fearing to Die?

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” -Hebrews 2:14-15


Fear is a real thing. Your fears keep you from doing those things which might or really would take your life. Other fears bring you worry and anxiety, impacting your health and shortening your life. I think we can safely say fear is a universal human trait. Fears do protect you; they also produce adrenaline, propelling you beyond yourself to greater accomplishments. Fear brings consternation, but it also guides your path through life.

Fear for their own lives drove Jesus’ disciples into hiding after the crucifixion. They had been recognized as associates of Jesus when He was arrested and tried, so the same could certainly happen to them. They were petrified of being discovered by Pilate’s soldiers, who I imagine were actually searching for them, especially after Pilate’s tomb-guarding soldiers lied about what happened. Pilate and the Jewish leaders wanted terribly to find the missing body of Jesus.

One of the greatest proofs of Jesus’ resurrection, then, was this sudden and dramatic flight of fear from these disciples, transformed immediately into bold and fearless witnesses to a living Lord. They were now more than willing to suffer martyrdom for His sake.

They were transformed from petrified characters in hiding into bold communicators of Jesus and His gospel. All except John became martyrs for His kingdom, though John was equally willing. Young John instead lived to see the return of his Lord, as Jesus prophesied in John 21, in his majestic vision on the Isle of Patmos after all the other disciples were already in glory.

Consider this transformation from abysmal fear to bold expanders of the church, which was exploding exponentially in the world, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Fear was erased and boldness was magnified; this was a sure proof that the resurrection really happened. These followers of Jesus lost all fear of death, which is, after all, the greatest fear of most.

Death suggests to your fearful imagination an utter isolation. This is due to what you experience when a loved one takes their final breath. When my late wife breathed her last, all communication between us ended; then we knew she would not smile upon us the next moment or the next day. We experienced an awful isolation from her companionship, her love, her intimate self with us.

In a moment, she became to us a lifeless, inanimate body. We personally see and feel such isolation immensely. We grieve this separation from our loved one. We are not party to her immediate experience of Paradise.

This feeling of isolation then is translated to your own memory when you reach this portal yourself. For this very reason, you should not avoid thinking of your own death in light of Scripture. Instead of its promises, many pursue vapid entertainment in its place so as not to think about the ugliness and sorrow of death itself.

Banish the fear of death by your faith. For the Christian, it is but a momentary separation not beset by the dreariness of slow-moving time. It is timeless waiting, which I imagine is no wait at all. This “death” is rather an exciting entrance to a life in eternity with those you love and who love you, not the least of which is your Savior.

Overcoming fear of death is one of the believer’s obtainable goals of their growth in grace. Meditate on the promises surrounding this river crossing of death to life. You will not drown! Your feet will reach dry ground, and a great welcoming crowd will cheer your arrival.


“I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless; ills have no weight and tears no bitterness. Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still if Thou abide with me.”

(Fourth verse of Henry Lyte’s hymn, “Abide with Me,” 1847)


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EddiePaul
Jun 18, 2020

My Name is on the Sign

My grandfather was the only father figure I had when I was a kid, and after he passed away, I had no one to look up to. When I came to the youth home in 1963 at the age of 13, Paul Anderson stepped in to fill the gap. From the time I arrived, I noticed that, although Paul was a busy man, he always made time for each of us. He traveled a great deal raising money for the home, but when he was home, he always made us a priority. Whether we were sitting down to dinner as a family, playing football on the weekends, playing football while he cheered us on from the stands, or having one of many one-on-one talks behind his house on the round patio, you never doubted that Paul cared for us as his own sons.

I remember one game during the 1967-68 season where one of our guys (Danny) took a hard hit and had to be taken to the emergency room. It turned out that he had a blood clot in his brain, and that he needed emergency surgery. Although he had been traveling extensively that week and was exhausted, Paul stayed with him throughout the entire ordeal. He refused to leave his side, even when staff members begged him to go home and get some rest. He turned them down, saying “My name is on the sign. I’m responsible for him.”

He always made sure we had what we needed (but not always what we WANTED), he was a tough disciplinarian who didn’t raise us to be “soft,” and above all made sure we had every possible opportunity to get to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. In the 50 years I’ve been on staff at PAYH, I’ve tried to apply the lessons he taught me – how to be a man of your word, how to make time for the people who are important to you, and how to shape young boys into strong men of Christ through tough love.

Happy Father’s Day in Heaven, Paul!

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Eddie Burris

Director of Plant Operations


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Jun 17, 2020

Witness of Majesty

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” -2 Peter 1:16


Myth or fairytale? The common definition of “myth” is a story which gives evidence of not being true, unlike a daily sunrise or sunset. Some scholars use “myth” as a story of ancient origins, usually involving the supernatural, and in a poetic sense, true. Be that as it may, “myth” says to most common folk today that it is akin to “fairytale.” A myth may well be an interesting story, but its veracity in the concrete, visible world is not.

Numerous people today would say that many of the stories attributed to and descriptive of Jesus Christ are mythological and that His life has been embellished. The stories of things like virgin birth, miracles, walking on water, and resurrection simply defy history and science, rather than being strictly accurate. In other words, they believe that these things did not happen as told, even if Jesus is a historic person of the first century.

They must admit this much because the ancient and modern calendar by which we have lived the last 2,000 years was based on AD (“Anno Domini”), Latin for “in the year of our Lord,” and BC for “before Christ.” The birth and life of Jesus actually divides history. So, it is impossible to say someone named Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ or Jesus the Messiah, never lived. History gives evidence of the fact.

Do the Scriptures tell us of a Jesus who is who He says He is, or do they errantly present a myth, even if the man Jesus is historical? Still, a scholar such as C. S. Lewis says of Him, “He is either a deluded lunatic, or He is exactly who He claimed to be: God in the flesh.” It is either/or, but He is not simply a good, ordinary man, as some portray Him. They cannot acknowledge anything supernatural.

Peter, an eyewitness, says in his second epistle that “we did not follow cleverly devised myths” in presenting Jesus, but “we witnessed His majesty.” We saw the supernatural power. There was nothing which we embellished. Our eyes beheld the glory of Christ.

Peter had no concept of how many would one day read or believe his words, but the Inspiration behind the written words knew. The Spirit of God and the Alpha and Omega knew exactly who would hear and/or read the words of 2 Peter and the words of the Old and the New Testament. God Himself ensured they would be written down for each person who would one day believe what they heard or what they read. They received them, not as cleverly devised myths but as true because of the powerful witness of Christ Jesus.

Where are you? Did Jesus make the blind see, the lame walk, the leprous clean? Did He feed well over 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread? Was Mary a virgin impregnated by the Spirit of God? Did angels fill the sky singing about His birth? Did Jesus walk out of His tomb after being put to death on the cross? Does He live today and reign over His creation? Does He desire a close, intimate fellowship with you?

Think now: Do you, a modern, science-attesting man or woman, believe all this about Him? Can you believe this when you didn’t observe or believe such could happen? If you cannot, then how can you believe that Jesus has the power to forgive your sins, or that He can actually affect your eternal salvation, or that in the twinkling of your eye you will move from your last breath to Paradise? Is this truly your personal unexcused testimony?

Peter would not have argued that he was not following cleverly devised myths if there were not many who claimed such. There are a lot of people in one of two categories today: one, they simply state they do not believe, or, two, they basically ignore it. The ignorers cannot be bothered whether any of it is true or false; it makes no difference to them. This is intellectual, purposeful lethargy about the true fate of their souls.

Oh, they are intent about life, but it is a life where the most important one in it is them. They are in reality their own god. They may not say as much, but this is their practice and their worldview; it is blindness. As a believer, I do not understand blindness. I cannot imagine how it so fully stupefies, but it does. Sin blinds. Scales stretch over eyes and over minds. Truth does not get through.

You and I yearn to do something about this. We pray our lives will move them to at least inquire. We hope our prayers for them will be answered. We wish our words could penetrate minds and hearts.

However, apart from the power of the Spirit, we are powerless. Unfortunately, it is like trying to tell them a bridge is wiped out down a dark road when they do not want to believe you, and they race toward the fatal chasm as though you are not telling them the truth.

You cannot ever give up, despite many attempts. You are to persevere to the end, all the while committing them to the hands of God. “Whosoever will may come” always holds true. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep, and He laid down His life for them. You who believe are blessed that no one has the power to pluck you out of His hand.


“I know not how this saving faith He did to me impart, nor how believing in His Word wrought peace within my heart, but I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

(Second verse of Daniel Whittle’s hymn, “I Know Whom I Have Believed,” 1883)


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Jun 10, 2020

Made, Not Is

“Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.” -Isaiah 2:8


Traveling through Vietnam and Cambodia, we could not escape the prevalence of Buddhist temples dotting the landscape and every single city, town, and village, as well as the myriad statues of the well-known image of Buddha in the temples, in homes, and everywhere. These idols seem to be as numerous as the sands of the seashore. Stores are plentiful in which Buddhas of every size imaginable saturate the shelves and practically every inch of floor space in usually very high-ceilinged buildings.

As you walk, even among the huts and impoverished abodes of the poor, your eyes are drawn to the lavishly adorned Buddhist temples sprinkled everywhere. However, what seems not to disturb the minds of the millions of these followers of Buddha is that each and every statue of him is man-made. Men and women bow down to something their own fingers have crafted; they pay obeisance to a god whose very existence is owed to them. The reality is that they dominate this god with their own brains, nimble bodies, eyes which see, ears which hear, and mouths which speak.

How does a god of gold, silver, metal, or wood, unmoving, non-thinking, silent, and dumb as a post create you or the world in which you live? The Bible frequently asks this very question. The true God of all creation wonders out loud how His creatures can substitute an image of their own making, an image to which they give slavish devotion while ignoring the God who is, the God who tells them by word and deed that He has indeed made all things. The best definition, then, of every idol and every false god is “made, not is!”

What is the problem of those who follow idols rather than a living, all-powerful God? It is that they are willfully ignorant of seeing or hearing Him! The Apostle Paul tells us that man knows in his heart there is a God (Romans 1:19-21), yet man also says with the very same heart, “There is NO God!” (Psalm 14:1). The quandary of belief!

In Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, the Israelites are at long last no longer drawn to idol worship. They seemed to have learned their lesson over centuries. However, their hearts are still not focused on the true and living God. The Scripture describes them this way: “These people worship Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me!”

They have put away idols but instead substitute themselves as their god. They create in their practice their own rules of worship. So, they bring animals as directed for sacrifice, but they bring lame, blind, and blemished lambs to the altar, all the while believing they are still honoring God but thinking He does not see. They grumble and whine to themselves and others that God doesn’t really love them. They treat their wives terribly but still think God hears their prayers. They fail to tithe. They question, “Where is the God of Israel? Is He hiding?” There is no fear or love of God in their hearts, even as their lips say there is.

In a real sense, they are still idol worshippers, for they worship themselves as they should God. What they imagine, what they conspire with their minds, what they really feel like doing, they do. Thus, God’s truth “stumbles in the streets.” Their hearts are not engaged with God but with themselves.

Our own country is by and large not filled with literal idol worshippers, though they are here. False gods and idols still penetrate every society. However, the majority of people in our country and in the West worship themselves. Their idol is their own heart, their own brain.

Even the one who takes his own life has forsaken the true God and done what pleases their feelings, which really dominate them when they are in overwhelming emotional pain. Pleasure or pain, they choose their path. “I am the captain of my ship, the master of my fate” is the mantra which controls their thoughts.

Seeing this for what it is is the beginning of your salvation, for true self-recognition may well lead to repentance, and repentance is the beginning of fearing and seeking God. You will not come to Him with your whole heart until you realize you have nowhere else to go. Once you realize this, you should pay attention to what God is saying, which is, “No one comes to the Father except through me!” Jesus Himself says this, and Jesus is God in the flesh.

Put your manmade idols aside. Even distrust yourself, as you trust God. Come in your weariness and heavy burdens to the One who can and will give you rest!


“O soul, are you wearied and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior and life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

(First verse of Helen Howarth Lemmel’s hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” 1922)


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Jun 03, 2020

Virus!

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4


The virus of our day has changed the lives of those who are still living today. Loved ones may have died, while other family or friends have become ill, some quite seriously, but nevertheless recovered. The vast majority of the populace, however, has escaped the ravages of COVID-19. Some even caught it without knowing, got over it, and really never knew they had it. Strange.

According to the media, the large health organizations, and many fearful government leaders, you could really have thought the world was coming to an end. This virus was described in newsprint and television and radio newscasts as the second coming of the Bubonic Plague. Fear was a primary assailant, a stirrer-up of intrigue, and a sure-fire seller of every media offering.

No one will ever quite know if the lockdown and required social isolation made all the difference or not, though it was touted as absolutely necessary. Yet, there is no way to go back and try it over.

The few nations which attempted the practice known as “herd immunity,” just as we always treat the different flu strains seasonally, suffered no worse than the rest of the world who were forced by mandated regulations to a severe lockdown of the economy, isolated quarantines, and eventually the universal required use of face masks.

These measures may or may not have been necessary to save more lives predicted to die from the contagion, but this will not be known perfectly in this unique situation of history. However, if there is another contagious surge of this virus as some predict, it is unlikely that the economy will be completely shut down again. Such may invoke more deaths than the virus itself.

The fear which entered my mind as a person vulnerable to the virus due to age and underlying conditions was quickly assuaged for me by the words of Psalm 23. All believers – those who died or survived, those who caught the virus or the many who did not – were comforted and emboldened by the certain truth that they were accompanied by the Good Shepherd no matter what. The Lord was with them always! There was no need, consequently, for abject, paralyzing fear in the mind and heart of the genuine Christian who believes what the Lord says.

Is this really rational in the face of a very contagious virus for which there is no vaccine or any assured therapy or medicine? Does such faith make any difference in how one contains or overcomes real fears? Does this simple verse or short Psalm quell all anxious worry? Was King David even speaking specifically to you as you face the threat of Coronavirus?

I do not think you can describe a threatening, life-endangering situation better than David did when he used the phrase “the valley of the shadow of death.” This beloved king of Israel is speaking into every situation in every age which is potentially, or even surely, a fatal predicament. Death is the most likely outcome. This is the gravest of circumstances – virus, or cancer, or immediate threat of violence.

Even in the face of death, he says, “I will fear no evil!” Death or life, the Lord is right beside you. He is your sure comfort. He is your life in death. He is your protection from any evil. Goodness and mercy is the promised result for you as a believer. You will not be thrust into despair nor paralyzing fear. Your place of certainty, no matter the outcome, will be in the Lord’s house, where He is present, where He is home!

There is no more secure place for you to be, not just today, but always. The only way to feel and know that this has become your greatest desire is for you to draw increasingly nearer to Christ now. Such is truly within your capability. You can know Jesus like this; such is promised! You can also know that though many others are seeking just such a relationship, they will never get in your way or in any way lessen you having a cherished intimacy with Him.

Pursue Him as you would your child or even a beloved pet who was lost. You just never give up or become fatigued in such a pursuit. You will search the Word for the knowledge of Him as you would cherished love letters from your spouse or fiancé.

Remember, Jesus opened the Scriptures before His two disciples on the road to Emmaus to show them how He is manifest everywhere. You can never exhaust such hungering study of His Word as you earnestly pray for the sights of Him, for your “aha” moments.


“O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free, rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me. Underneath me, all around me is the current of Thy love leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above.”

(First verse of S. Trevor Francis’ hymn, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” 1875)


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Jun 02, 2020

This Month at PAYH: Monthly Newsletter, June 2020

Our Father is Always With Us

In May of 1945, just over 75 years ago, the forces of Imperial Japan were on the brink of defeat. Nazi Germany had surrendered at the beginning of the month, and Japan now stood alone, outnumbered, and surrounded. It was simply a matter of time before US forces would overcome their defenses.

The island of Okinawa was the final stepping stone before an invasion of the Japanese mainland could take place, and the fighting there was brutal and intense. As many as 20,000 US Marines were killed, as were around 100,000 Japanese. A few days before his death, PFC Michael Fenton had a chance encounter with his father, Colonel Francis Fenton, who also was serving on Okinawa. They spoke briefly, glad to see one another, before their duties forced them to part ways. These would be the last words they would ever say to one another.

When Colonel Fenton received word that his son had been slain in a Japanese counterattack, he hurried to the place where his son was killed in order to conduct the funeral. As he knelt and prayed over his son’s flag-draped body, he looked around at the others who had been killed with him and remarked “Those poor souls. They didn’t have their fathers here.”

As Christians we can take comfort in the constant presence of our Heavenly Father. Joshua 1:9 tells us to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Whatever trials we face, we know that He is there, and that He will never leave or forsake us.

Our Father is always with us.

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Stephen Nichols

Director of Communications

Stories from the Home

Eddie-with-Van

A New Ride for the Young Men

The old PAYH van has safely seen our young men through many journeys, and Eddie Burris has done a fantastic job maintaining it. However, time and mileage take their toll, and it became necessary to replace it. In an answer to prayer, an anonymous partner funded a grant and Woody Folsom helped us find the vehicle we need. Now, our young men have a safer, more reliable, more comfortable ride. May the Lord be praised!

Lucas-Bass

Y Camp 2020

The PAYH young men had an excellent stay at Athens Y Camps last month. In the mornings, they helped with maintenance and renovations on the grounds, and in the afternoons and evenings had many opportunities to relax. They enjoyed many outdoor activities, especially fishing. Lucas and Drake both caught their biggest bass so far. On the way home, they visited Paul Anderson Memorial Park in Toccoa, the birthplace of our founder.

Bryce & Tres

Tres-Ken-Bryce

Two of our senior young men finished the program on May 15th. Bryce and Tres are both stellar examples of what a PAYH young man should be, and we look forward to seeing what they achieve in the future. If you haven’t had a chance to watch them, you can see their testimonies at payh.org/bryce and payh.org/tres.


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