Payh Blog
Social Distance Concept. Too Many People With Infected Man Symbo
Jul 29, 2020

Contagious

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” -2 Corinthians 5:20


The whole world is experiencing upheaval in the pandemic created by COVID-19. This is no regional sickness, it is not relegated to a few nations, for this virus absolutely knows no borders. A contagion over the whole world, it has encompassed the entire globe.

Can this contagious nature of a deadly virus be compared to the similar effect of a saving gospel on the entire world? Has not the gospel really moved like a wildfire through the world population for two millennia? This coronavirus makes many ill, and for too many it is lethal. Those who catch it often have no idea how they contracted it; the source of the germs is often hidden from their knowledge.

The gospel too moves in mysterious ways. It penetrates certain peoples’ hearts while leaving others quite unaffected. It is like the wind described in John 3: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The virus is like this, just as the gospel which greatly impacts the lives of many; still, the virus impacts only this life, while the gospel bears fruit for eternity.

The message of the gospel spreads throughout society just as the wind blows across the earth’s landscape. This message is carried on the wind by the intentional Spirit of God, by the printed word, by spoken word, by film, by every media imaginable, and by those myriads of folk who have believed its message and been transformed. God’s Word goes out into all the world, and it never returns void from wherever it goes. It accomplishes the task for which it was sent, and it can never be stifled by any person, power, or spiritual entity like Satan or his minions.

So, both like and unlike the virus, microbes which exist for a time in the air and find their way into a fertile place in human bodies to grow and do their devastation, the gospel is a penetrating message bearing the seeds of truth and life, all stemming from the life and words and actions of the Word made flesh, Jesus the Christ. It infects human hearts and minds, bringing life rather than sickness and death.

You can be a carrier of both the virus and the gospel, but it is the gospel you must carry quite intentionally by your own will wherever God leads you in His providence. Your body may possibly carry a dangerous virus unknown to you, but the seeds of the gospel are purposefully present in your heart, your soul, your words, your thoughts, your deeds.

You need to constantly remember that, as a genuine believer, you belong to the Lord and are therefore His personal ambassador by your presence wherever you go, wherever you are. So then, the intents of your heart, the words of your mouth, the purpose of your actions are spreading the gospel message in a dying world.

This is exactly how the true church exploded from a small band of fearful disciples in the first century to the largest body of faith in the world today, men and women and children of every tribe, language, and race. The church is everywhere because of the contagion of faith through the carriers of the germs of salvation. You are a contagious element of this faith. So, intentionally infect people with the gospel message. Ensure you come into contact with as many as you are able. You can be the contagious carrier which saves many lives!


“From utmost east to utmost west, wherever feet have trod, by the mouth of many messengers goes forth the voice of God: ‘Give ear to Me, you continents, you isles. Give ear to Me that the earth may be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.’”

(Second verse of Walter Campbell Ainger’s hymn, “God Is Working His Purpose Out,” 1894)


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Victory And Success. Champion Winner. Future Opportunity. Leader
Jul 21, 2020

Your Strength

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13


This is Paul Anderson’s life verse, and it supports his well-known profession of faith, “If I, the strongest man in the world, cannot get through one day without Jesus Christ, how can you?” Just what are these “all things” you can do through Christ to which the Apostle Paul refers? The context of Philippians 4, just as the context of all of Scripture, makes it clear that this is no panacea promise to do whatever your feelings, appetites, and personal ideas conjure up. There are many things you may wish to do which you have no business doing, things which contribute to your downfall and further your brokenness.

This verse clearly refers to doing those things which will increase your godliness and assist you in aiding your neighbors’ physical and spiritual well-being. Never, never say to yourself, “Do I really need His strength? What’s wrong with my own?” For there is nothing more important for your health today and into eternity that Jesus cannot provide you in His strength. Your own ability and power will never come close to being sufficient.

Currently, our young men at PAYH are engaged in biking hundreds of miles in enervating heat, extreme temperatures, and high humidity. They are being pushed to their limits and beyond. Is this truly something they can ask Christ to help them continue to endure and overcome for the Lord’s glory? Certainly!

I am sure, if their minds and hearts acknowledge Christ’s presence and they accept His desire that they succeed in doing what is pleasing to Him, they can call on Him to help them get over this torturous hump. He can and will come to their aid if this actually by faith will increase their spiritual health, just as He will aid you.

Your strength is insufficient to do those things which you most need. You cannot obey the commandments of the Lord in your own strength, for example, which you well know. You cannot be what you ought to be for yourself or for others. You cannot rise above the fallen nature of this world. Sin drags you down; it ensures that you always come up short. You need the Lord Jesus Christ to get through even one day. Oh, you can muddle through on your own, but in yourself you will never be victorious in life. You will remain unsatisfied, and you will never see salvation.

Paul Anderson’s personal example was that he had to rely on Jesus’ strength to win the Olympic gold medal in Melbourne, Australia in 1956. His first two tries at the winning weight failed. He then asked the Lord for the strength to get this winning weight overhead.

In that critical moment, he promised to put the Lord first in his life, and while serving Him with his wife Glenda, they soon founded the Paul Anderson Youth Home for troubled young men. Paul and Glenda glorified Jesus Christ by introducing these teenage boys to Him. By their own example and instruction, they intentionally led them to rely on the strength of Christ in all things.

Philippians 4:13 is true for you in every way. You can rely on Him to be your own source of strength in everything. Christ is the strength you absolutely must have to succeed in all that truly matters. After all, nothing else does!


“No guilt in life, no fear in death

This is the power of Christ in me

From life’s first cry to final breath

Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever pluck me from His hand

‘Til He returns or calls me home

Here in the power of Christ I stand”

(Fourth verse of Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty’s hymn, “In Christ Alone,” 2001)


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Relaxed Man Breathing Fresh Air Near The Mountains With A Blue S
Jul 15, 2020

Elusive Satisfaction

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’” -Matthew 11:16-17


If you believe the dictionary definition of “satisfaction,” it is something you will never acquire! It says satisfaction is “the fulfillment of your wishes, your expectations, or your needs and the pleasure derived from this.” If this were only true, but it is not, and your own experience proves it.

Who has ever been satisfied with the alleged fulfillment of all their wishes or expectations? Even the fulfillment of their personally determined needs leaves them wanting more and more, or at least something different, and then something different from the different!

In Matthew 11, Jesus speaks of that first century generation’s criticisms of John the Baptist’s message and life and then of His own message and example. Neither satisfied them apparently. One was spartan and self-sacrificing with a clarion call to repent. The other, Jesus, was seen by them as the opposite of John. They said of Jesus, “He came eating and drinking; He was a glutton and a drunkard with unsavory friends.”

This unmitigated lack of satisfaction is the primary characterization of today’s generation. The nation is wrought by virus, riots, destruction, murders, racism, divided political persuasions, hatred of laws, love for laws, defund, fund, tear down, build up. No one is satisfied! Our society is wracked by grievances, by offended parties, by rage or faux-rage, by vastly differing opinions.

Does Scripture offer any respite for the culture and society of this present age? Not really! Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Again, He prophesied about the generation of His return: “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37).

Respite? Hardly! A day of little faith? What does this look like? Proliferation of cults, false religions, rampant atheism, hatred vitriolically voiced towards believers, the spirit of anti-Christ sweeping through the culture?

What about a day “like the days of Noah?” God’s Word describes it in Genesis 6: “The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” and “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence,” so much so, that God utterly destroyed it with a universal, ravaging, lethal flood which destroyed the entire population, minus eight people.

It goes without saying that few, if any, are really satisfied. There is no satisfaction in the hearts of mankind. Are you satisfied? Are you content with who you are, with what you have? Where does satisfaction truly lie? Where do you find it? Or is it just a figment of your imagination?

At the end of Matthew 11, Jesus addresses rampant dissatisfaction with its only possible fulfillment. He says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

Dissatisfaction is an interminable restlessness; lack of contentment is endless uneasiness, wearying tension, worrying pressure. On the other hand, genuine satisfaction is rest; true contentment is void of tension and pressure. There is a constant internal urging which continually agitates the unsatisfied soul, even when he or she thinks they are satisfied; this is the Man of Sin at work. He is ever-pushing as he did with Eve in the Garden. “There is so much more! You are missing out; you shall not rest until you have it.” Just as Satan pestered Eve, “Did God really say…?” so he agitates you continually, too.

You will only find rest for your spirit, rest for your soul in Christ. He alone offers what will really bring a contentment to your heart. He is your satisfaction! To have Jesus and know you are in Him and He in you is the very core of satisfaction. Augustine famously said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”

To know and firmly believe that no one, no thing, no force can ever pluck you out of His hand and that Jesus is your all-in-all is to rest your soul from every agitation. Your soul finds in Him a “home.” Rest, weary one, and be at peace! This is His gracious offer to you.


“Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

(First verse of Civilla D. Martin’s hymn, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” 1905)


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Two Young Women Talk And Drink Coffee In Cafe
Jul 08, 2020

Silent Faith

[The Lord declares] “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from My mouth, you shall give them warning from Me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” -Ezekiel 3:17-19


The culture of this world has never been a friend to faith. You may think today’s culture is absolutely the most hostile to faith of any time in history, but you would be wrong. Just think again of Noah’s day to clarify this point. Be that as it may, today is no cakewalk for the faith.

This is a more than worse environment in which to make your Lord known to others. There are so often many of your spiritual thoughts and your Christian worldview which you purposefully stifle for fear of offense to others or to avoid castigation from a hostile world. Testifying about your faith is perhaps the last thing you want to do in the public marketplace.

Too many Christian brothers and sisters have expressed a caution to me against speaking boldly to many of their non-Christian friends about their faith. Their vocation and career choices have put them in the center of a quite secular, unbelieving world, and it is very important to them to retain such friendships in this world. Christians really should seek such friends.

Yet, these brothers and sisters will often say they are building bridges bit by careful bit in which they hope one day to broach the full subject of their faith to particular unbelieving friends. However, they say it takes time, it takes nuance, and it takes the perfect moment and circumstance. But what if those precision points never materialize? What if you remain silent beyond it being too late?

In Athens, the Apostle Paul wisely and congenially found a commonality with his unbelieving audience in a monument he discovered that was dedicated to “an unknown god.” He captivated his audience as he referred to this monument; he very definitely got their attention. Yet he still ended up alienating many of them when he spoke of the pillar doctrines of the gospel, those things that set Christianity apart from the religions of the world. On the other hand, a good number of his hearers received the truth gladly and became genuine believers. His clear, convicting presentation of the gospel produced eternal fruit.

You probably have much more time to nuance your friends over the course of your life than Paul did in his short Athenian visit, yet your period of time may become such a long stretch that any end point is eventually forgotten and the gospel simply never gets shared. Your methods, once considered to be a valid approach, just peter out. Is this what God’s Word encourages of you?

Ezekiel 3, out of many such texts in Scripture, suggests otherwise. It claims you are surely placing “blood on your hands.” You desire to build bridges to the perfect opportunity, but instead your bridges become bridges to nowhere, and the accountability subsequently accrues to your hands. Does this Ezekiel call of Scripture penetrate your consciousness?

You have the Word of God! It is filled with warning. Those who do not accept this Word as true, those who do not come to God through Jesus really will die! You must remember, however, that you are never alone as a solitary watchman, as a sole witness to the saving gospel message.

The Spirit of God always accompanies you in your endeavor to witness to the truth. He provides the words, He awakens your memory, He gives you boldness, and He opens or closes the hearts of your hearers. Such is never up to you!

Your own will, though, must purpose to speak the faith which dwells in you. Silence is never an option for the faithful follower of Jesus. The Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” In other words, your feet take you to a place to plant yourself in front of those who must hear. Your feet take you wherever your voice can speak and your voice may be heard.

In a real sense, you are to become the incessant feet of the “Hound of Heaven” described in Francis Thompson’s great poem about Jesus seeking His own, inexorably, indefatigably, unwearyingly following after the specific lost one, relentlessly, if need be, to his or her midnight hour. But take note, the joy of turning just one to the Savior, like Luke 15:6-7 so aptly describes, cannot be measured.


“He made me a watchman upon the city wall, and if I am a Christian, I am the least of all. Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.”

(Second verse of John Wesley Work Jr.’s Christmas hymn, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” 1865)


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Freedom-and-Responsibility
Jul 06, 2020

This Month at PAYH: Monthly Newsletter, July 2020

Freedom and Responsibility

This weekend we celebrated the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In all, 56 men from the 13 original colonies affixed their signatures to a document that, if the war were lost, would likely have served as “exhibit A” in their inevitable trials for treason. They knew that by placing their names on that page, they were offering up their very lives for the prospect of freedom from the British Crown.

When I was a child, my dad would read to my brothers and me. In addition to reading from the Bible, he often drew from the many stories, poems, and essays found in William Bennet’s The Book of Virtues. The pieces are arranged into groups that share a common theme, and one of his favorite themes to discuss was that of responsibility.

Nestled in between excerpts from C.S. Lewis, MLK, Plato, and more, one can find the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence. This might seem strange to some, but to quote Bennet, “If we truly hold these liberties to be gifts from God, we realize the moral duty to respect, preserve, and defend those rights for others.” This is exactly what the founders were doing; they were taking personal responsibility for their actions and were willing to pay the price for the freedom they sought to achieve. Many of them would lose their lives, fortunes, or both in its pursuit, but in the end their sacrifice was not in vain.

Today, we still reap the fruit they sowed 224 years ago, but I’m afraid we haven’t continued to sow as we should. My dad would often tell us “You can’t have freedom without responsibility. It will never work.” I believe that current events have proven him right in an all too sobering way. Freedom is only as good as the person using it. While we rightly partake of the blessings of freedom, we often fail to consider the effect we have on others. As Christians, we have both freedom in Christ as well as the responsibility to set a selfless example. As Paul said in his letter to the Philippians:

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 3:3-4

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Stephen Nichols

Director of Communications


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