Trusting God in Difficult Times

Trusting God in Difficult Times

For the past two days, we have looked at one of the struggles everyone faces– trusting God in difficult times. Of course, the atheist will claim that a loving, caring, just God would not allow innocent people to suffer terrible disasters in their lives. However, most of us have had a “why me?” experience where a problem afflicts us that we feel is unfair and which we beg God to remove – and frequently, He doesn’t.

Life often presents situations that require trusting God in difficult times. I am not suggesting that I know all the answers, but I see three reasons why we sometimes fail to trust God. First, we looked at how faulty thinking and reasoning can erode our trust in God. Secondly, we saw that not having a reason to live and thus seeing no value in the problems we face contributes to our lack of trust in God. We want to look at a third reason today:

REASON # 3 – We fail to trust God because we think that everything must have an answer that we can understand. Someone said, “If I can understand the thinking of God, then God isn’t God.” My experience in dealing with people who are immersed in a problem indicates that they don’t want a theological or philosophical answer to their problem. What they want is to be free of the problem. After many years of dealing with this issue, I have learned that the best thing I can say is, “I don’t know the reason, but I care.”

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God..” In the book of Job, God never reveals to Job the answer to why his problems exist. It is evident that there is a war going on between good and evil in this world. I don’t understand all that is involved, but just looking around, we can see the struggle. I can give theological answers to questions about this war, but you don’t care about theology or philosophy if you are hurting. You want to have a solution to your pain.

After God speaks, Job concludes, “I have heard of you by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye sees you” (Job 42:5). Job came to realize that he is not smart enough or powerful enough to understand it all. Neither are we.

Trusting God in difficult times is our choice to make or not. However, learning to trust God fills our lives with purpose and direction. The promise of Acts 2:38 and John 14:26-27 is enough to make my life worth living, even with its pain and frustrations.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Trusting God When Things Go Wrong

Trusting God When Things Go Wrong

Yesterday we looked at a struggle that everyone faces— trusting God when things go wrong. We said that faulty thinking and reasoning can erode our trust in God. For example, atheists claim that a loving, caring, just God would not allow innocent people to suffer disasters in their lives. We looked at why that may be faulty reasoning.

Life tends to present situations that cause us not to trust God. The book of Job raises the question of why a “perfect and upright man who feared God and eschewed evil” should suffer massive loss and pain. I admitted that I had faced a problem in trusting God, and I am not suggesting that I have the question solved. In my early days of cynicism and ignorance, I actually said that I had given up on praying because what I prayed for didn’t happen the way I had asked.

So here is another reason for trusting God when things go wrong:

REASON # 2. We tend to think that there is no value in problems. To the atheist, a significant problem can lead to suicide. If things go badly for me and I see no hope that they will ever get better, why should I continue to struggle? If you have no purpose in life other than self-gratification, why go on with pain and problems constantly taking away any reason to live?

For the Christian, the answer to problems is radically different. The Bible is full of statements about problems and suffering leading to good things and joy in life. Examples are Proverbs 3:11-12; Psalms 119:71; James 1:2-3; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. In my own life, having a child born who was blind, mentally challenged, afflicted with muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and schizophrenia has filled my life with purpose and direction. As my son dealt with those issues, including COVID-19, he radiated joy and purpose to the end of his life.

For the Christian, problems and pain can give purpose and direction in life. But, more than that, they bless those who believe with direct help from God promised in Romans 8:28, John 14:1-3, and 26. In addition, there is the hope and promise that ultimately things will be better, with no pain or tears or death (Revelation 21:4).

A purposeless life is a miserable existence. Trusting God when things go wrong can give us a purpose and a reason to live. Because those problems have strengthened my faith, I can provide help and support to others whose faith is faltering as they face similar issues. Tomorrow we will look at a third point that should help us trust God.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

We all struggle with the question of why bad things happen to good people. Atheists claim that a loving, caring, just God would not allow innocent people to suffer huge disasters in their lives.

Most of us have had a “why me?” experience where a problem afflicts us that we feel is unfair. We beg God to remove the problem, and He frequently doesn’t. The Bible is not ignorant of this issue. The whole book of Job is dedicated to why a “perfect and upright man who feared God and eschewed evil” should suffer massive loss and pain.

As one who has faced a problem in trusting God, I am not suggesting that I have it completely solved. In my early days of cynicism and ignorance, I actually said that I had quit praying for God to solve a major issue. It seemed that every time I prayed that something bad wouldn’t happen, it happened. I think there are three fundamental reasons why we don’t trust God or lose faith in God when confronted with the reality of life’s problems.

REASON # 1 – The first reason is faulty reasoning and thinking. We don’t reason very far when we think that everything should be fair. Psalms 73:2-3 talks about believing that prosperity would equate to fairness. Several years ago, singer Peggy Lee sang a song titled “Is That All There Is?” In the song, she spoke about wanting something badly, and then when she got it thinking, “Is that all there is?” We have all bought something we really wanted and then when we got it, we found that we were not enamored with it.

Is it fair that Bill Gates has a lot of money and I don’t? What would I demand in exchange for my wonderful marriage, which apparently Bill Gates didn’t have? Is it fair that I have a disease that you don’t have? Human greed, selfishness, ignorance, and carelessness cause most of our illnesses. Would it be fair for me to ruthlessly contaminate the environment with the result that someone in the future would not have the resources I enjoy?

If all a person would have to do was go to Church to become free of their problems, what would be the result? We would have churches full of people with a temporary, short-term faith that wouldn’t benefit anyone. When we question why bad things happen to good people, ask yourself, “Was it fair for Jesus to die on the cross?” In the heat of a crisis, it is easy to lash out at God. However, if we could look at life unemotionally, unselfishly, and logically, we would see that our anger at God is misplaced.

Faulty reasoning and thinking is the first reason for not trusting God. Tomorrow we will look at reason # 2.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Tim Clayton Has Gained His Sight

Tim Clayton Has Gained His Sight

On July 27, 2021, at 12:25 p.m., John Clayton’s son Tim Clayton, who had been blind all of his life, became able to see. He also got to be with his mother, Phyllis Clayton, who died in 2008. Tim passed away from complications of COVID-19. Tim Clayton has gained his sight.

Tim had 57 years of life when the medical profession predicted he would pass away before age 12. Tim’s life was full of challenges, including blindness, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, and being mentally challenged. Despite that, he never complained and his faith was a witness to many people. He was always intrigued by other countries and the teachings of various religions and denominations.

Tim was a Christian, and his life demonstrated that no matter what your handicaps and troubles might be, every Christian life has a purpose. He shared his faith with every doctor, nurse, caregiver, teacher, and health worker he met. We wrote a book titled “Timothy – My Son and My Teacher” to share his life story. The book tells how his life impacted and taught lessons to people around him. That book became Tim’s tool to share his faith with others. He gave copies of the book to everyone he could. It has blessed other parents of children with congenital disabilities and severe health problems.

We share Tim’s death with those of you who know the Claytons or are aware of Tim’s story. There will be no funeral, and no special condolences are needed. Instead, this is a time of joy and praise to God for Tim’s family and friends, that his journey through life is finally over. Tim Clayton has gained his sight.

© John N. Clayton © 2021

Copies of Tim’s book are available from the Does God Exist? ministry or from the PowerVine Store.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt Video Series

Beyond Reasonable Doubt Video Series

Our recent Does God Exist? Journal featured our new Beyond Reasonable Doubt video series. You can read the journal online HERE.

The Beyond Reasonable Doubt video series deals with the archaeological support for the biblical record and the validity of the Christian message. The nine-lesson series is available to watch for free on YouTube and our DoesGodExist.tv site. Here are the links:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPrSDKT6AwSXX4TBs9JPaRg

On our website: http://doesgodexist.tv/beyond-reasonable-doubt-video-series/

You can also get the DVD set on loan, or you can purchase the set directly from us for our cost, which is $15.00. We have a teacher’s guide for class use which is another $5.00. You can also purchase the Beyond Reasonable Doubt video series DVD set online for $20.00, including a teacher’s guide and free shipping from the PowerVine Store at THIS LINK

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Giver Or Taker – Which Are You?

Giver Or Taker – Which Are You?

One of the major arguments against naturalistic evolution is the philosophical question of where does your belief system takes you in life? What we really believe affects every facet of how we live. “Survival of the fittest” is a statement of naturalistic evolution. While it has applications in the biological world, for humans, it is a philosophical belief system in which we base every life decision on what will make me more “fit.” That is a TAKER mentality.

A person with a TAKER mentality might do something good for someone else only if they can visualize how the act might ultimately benefit them. Narcissism is a natural product of this kind of thinking. Hoarding, abuse, control, and deception are all a product of a TAKER mentality. People even use religion to promote TAKER value systems. In the Bible, we read of numerous cases where the goal of an individual was self-promotion. For example, in Acts 8:18-24, we see a man named Simon who attempted to use his religion for his personal gain.

The Christian system as taught by Jesus Christ offers a diametrically opposite view of life. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). He lived that belief system even to the point of dying for it. In today’s world, we see the fruit of rejecting the teachings of Christ and living a “survival of the fittest” belief system. The misery index and suicide rate of our culture are at an all-time high. Sexual satisfaction is at an all-time low, with abuse of all kinds at astronomical levels. Racism and hatred are destroying the fabric of our society.

So how do I become a GIVER instead of a TAKER? May I suggest three things you can do that will change your whole outlook on life? As a result, you can become more blessed, happier, and more satisfied with life. These are biblical teachings, and they work:

BUILD FAITH IN GOD by studying the evidence that God is an abundant giver. Spend some time looking at the creation. Go to apod.nasa.gov and see the wonderful pictures each day showing the cosmos that God created. On a clear night, look up at the sky and reflect on what God has created for us to exist. The Psalms and Proverbs are full of admonitions to do this. For example, read Psalms 8:3-9, 19:1-3, and Proverbs chapter 8. Then read Psalms 139:1-14. and consider John 3:16

FOCUS ON HOW YOUR LIFE CAN BLESS OTHERS rather than on what your activity brings to you. Matthew 6:1-4 states this well. The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 demonstrates the wrong motives some people have when they seek glory for themselves rather than being faithful GIVERS. Realize that TAKERS view sex as something that brings pleasure to them, rather than giving pleasure and satisfaction to someone else. As a result, TAKERS are left with an empty feeling of frustration.

LET GOD’S SPIRIT WORK IN YOUR LIFE. The Holy Spirit working in us can help us to become joyful GIVERS. In 2 Corinthians 8:3-7, we see that the ability to give is a “grace” that God wants to give to us. Luke 6:38 tells us that givers will receive back in proportion to their giving.

As long as we live, we have 168 hours every week to use either as a GIVER or a TAKER. Give a tithe of your time – 10% of 168. Include time spent in worship, in class, in prayer, and in meditation. Be sure also to spend part of that 16.8 hours in action. Matthew 25:31-40 gives various areas to choose from where we can give as Jesus calls us to. When we see God work through us, it will motivate us to do more, and God will open doors we never thought possible. We will come to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The Tradition of Dispensationalism and the Earth’s Age

The Tradition of Dispensationalism and the Age of the Earth
Grand Canyon Limestone

Yesterday we looked at the denominational tradition of dispensationalism and its promotion of the idea that Earth’s age is only 6000 years or so. The promotors of this denominational teaching have spent millions of dollars producing the Creation Museum in the Dallas area, the Creation Theme Park and Ark Encounter with Ken Ham in Kentucky. They have also produced massive numbers of books, videos, and public presentations promoting their doctrine. It is a high-dollar operation and has influenced many Christians.

The tradition of dispensationalism presented in these museums and programs has so many scientific and logical problems, it would take a book to deal with them all. Here are a few:

Their understanding of the origins of rocks is very weak. For example, the Grand Canyon has massive amounts of limestone. Their contention that the flood of Noah produced the limestone is dead wrong. A flood never produces a chemically precipitated rock like limestone. Sandstone, conglomerate, and shale are flood deposits, and they exist in small amounts in the canyon.

Their understanding of radioactive dating is very bad. Nuclear dating methods correlate well with other dating methods. Carbon 14 is not used for very old things because its half-life is too short, so scientists use many other radioactive materials for older datings. The average high school physics student knows these methods and understands this point.

Their understanding of geologic processes is very weak. For example, how long did it take for continental glaciers to carve massive numbers of lakes and huge moraines that make up much of Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, and the Great Lakes? How long does it take to produce anthracite coal – not the lignite that can form rapidly?

They create problems by trying to squeeze events into a 6000-year Earth history to fit the tradition of dispensationalism. For example, Methuselah lived 969 years (Genesis 5:27) and is the grandfather of Noah. If Noah lived 950 years (Genesis 9:29) and was 600 years old when he went into the Ark (Genesis 7:11), was Methuselah killed by the flood? Over and over, the Bible tells us that God is outside of time. (See 2 Peter 3:8, Psalms 90:4. Psalms 102:27, Acts 1:7.) Despite that, dispensationalists want to lock God into a human time frame. They say that God made the universe and Earth look old even though they are not. Now you have God deliberately misleading humans, which James 1:13 says God would never do.

Our plea is to take what the Bible says without allowing human doctrines or denominational teachings to tell us what to believe. God could have done the creation instantly, but He chose to use vast amounts of time. By doing that, He enabled humans to find the resources we need by understanding how they were formed.

Don’t follow denominational traditions of dispensationalism! Just read and believe what the Bible says, realizing that it does not tell how old planet Earth is. If you are interested in learning more about dispensationalism, drop us a request, and we will mail you a copy of an article we published in the November/December 2008 issue of our journal titled “Destructive Dispensationalism.” Or you can read it online at THIS LINK. You can also read our previous posts on this subject HERE, HERE, and HERE.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Why Do Churches Have Buildings?

Why Do Churches Have Buildings?

We frequently get letters or calls from atheists and skeptics complaining about the amount of money churches spend on buildings. Those conversations never last very long because I agree with the atheist challenges on this issue. The critical question is, “Why do churches have buildings?”

In the Old Testament, there was great emphasis on a building as a place for God to dwell. However, knowledgeable people even then realized that God could not be confined to the “Temple.” In 1 Kings 8:27, Solomon said this about the Temple he built, “The whole sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you. Certainly this Temple that I built cannot contain you either.” In Jeremiah 7:1-11, the prophet deals with what people were doing and what God wants. His reference to the Temple at the end of his discussion is, “the Temple is nothing more to you than a hideout for robbers.”

John 4 describes a discussion between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. She was concerned about where people ought to worship. In verse 20, she points out that the Samaritans were worshiping on Mt. Gerizim, and the Jews were worshiping Mt. Moriah. She wanted to know which was the right place. Jesus responds that neither place is the answer for true worship because “a time is coming and has come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Biblical worship is not just something that happens in a building on Sunday morning. Throughout the New Testament, we see worship described in other terms. (See 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Colossians3:17; Acts 9:31.)

So why do churches have buildings where they meet and worship God? Buildings are vehicles to help Christians address the needs of others and to stimulate and motivate each other to be about their lives and work as Christians. In 1 Corinthians 16:2, the worship service was used to collect resources to meet the needs of others. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-30, Paul writes about communion. It is not just between the believer and God but between the members of the family of God as well. Paul says that without the mutual acts of communion, “many of you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

Meeting together for worship allows us to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19-20). Colossians 3:16 also tells us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” Finally, Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Paul then goes on to emphasize the importance of meeting together by saying, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some of you are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”

God does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands as if He needed anything … for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-28). Worship is 24/7, not just on Sunday mornings. Why do churches have buildings? Buildings help Christians meet in worship and encourage each other to go out and spread God’s love to the world. Using massive amounts of money to provide a building where Christians can be entertained is painfully ignorant of the true nature of God and what God wants His children to do.

— John N Clayton © 2021

Black Holes Prove the Universe Had a Beginning

Black Holes Prove the Universe Had a Beginning
First Black Hole Photograph from 2019

The cosmological evidence for the creation of the cosmos is vast. The first step in discussing this is whether there was a beginning to the cosmos or whether space, time, and matter/energy are eternal. Black holes prove the universe had a beginning.

For many years, atheists maintained that if believers can say that God has always existed, it is just as reasonable to say that matter/energy has always existed. Unbelieving scientists proposed many theories, such as the oscillating universe, to avoid the message of Genesis 1:1. However, the laws of thermodynamics made it difficult to believe that the cosmos has always existed.

New observations by astronomers have offered another proof that there was a beginning. Black holes are no longer just a theoretical tool of Einstein and other physicists. Astronomers have seen evidence of black holes. They have photographed them, and now but they have seen them in action. Scientists observed two black holes colliding, and they have detected a black hole swallowing a neutron star.

Neutron stars are the incredibly dense remains of a stellar collapse. One teaspoon of matter in a neutron star would have a mass of a billion tons. As astronomers watched, a black hole caught a neutron star in its gravitational field. The neutron star made 500 orbits of the black hole in less than a minute, generating as much energy as all the visible light in the observable universe. Scientists on Earth detected the bursts of energy from the collision in January of 2020, but they just released the data on June 29, 2021, in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

This observation shows that black holes are slowly vacuuming all of the matter in the cosmos into a single massive black hole. If the cosmos were eternal, they would have already completed that process. The fact that we see an early stage of a black hole eating the densest star in the cosmos shows that it will eventually happen if things continue as they are now. By this action, black holes prove the universe had a beginning.

There was a beginning to time, space, and matter/energy. All of the evidence supports that fact. The design features that we see everywhere in creation show us that we are not some cosmic coincidence but the product of an intelligence that had a purpose in creating us.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ac082e

New Testament Concept of Priesthood

New Testament Concept of Priesthood

In this day of racial issues, it is essential to understand that there should never be a conflict over race in authentic Christianity. That is because the New Testament concept of priesthood is very different from what many people understand.

In the Mosaic period, priests came from the tribe of Levi. They served as teachers, judges, medical experts, and mediators. To be a priest, you had to be a member of the Levitical tribe and of the family of Aaron ( Numbers 17-18, Deuteronomy 10:8 and 18:1-8, Leviticus 8 and 9.) This was a flawed system because not all Levites were good people.

Jesus Christ abolished that system. Hebrews 7:18-19 says, “For the law that went before is annulled because it was weak and ineffective, for the law perfected nothing, but there has come in its place a better hope enabling us to come close to God.” In Matthew 27:51, we read that at Christ’s crucifixion, the curtain separating common people from the “Holy of Holies” was torn open, making access to God available to all humans.

Galatians 3:26-28 clearly states, “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Thus, the Bible calls Christians a “royal priesthood” or a “kingdom of priests.” (See 1 Peter 2:4-9, Revelation 1:5-6, and 5:9-10.) That is the New Testament concept of priesthood.

People have tried to continue the Mosaic concept of priests into the Christian era, but that is not what the New Testament teaches. In biblical Christianity, there is no room for placing any person above anyone else. That means there is no room for prejudice. All are equal, and all lives matter. People who justify racial discrimination do so based on human traditions and dogma, not on biblical teaching.

— John N. Clayton © 2021