What Can We Trust?

What Can We Trust?
The October 2018 issue of Scientific American (page 39) contains an article by Brooke Borel titled “Clicks, Lies and Video Tape.” The article begins by stating, “Artificial Intelligence is making it possible for anyone to manipulate audio and video. The biggest threat is that we stop trusting anything at all.” Then what can we trust?

The article tells us that in April 2018 a new video of Barack Obama appeared on the internet in which he spoke looking exactly as he did when he was president of the United States. The image we could all see was Obama facing the camera, and with outstretched hands, he said, “President Trump is a total and complete XXXXX.”

In reality, it wasn’t Obama at all, but an actor named Jordan Peele who used BuzzFeed News to produce a fake video. The technology is now available to make realistic-looking fake videos. They can contain what appears to be known political characters spreading disinformation. In fact, this is already being done.

The first example of fakery was the serpent in Genesis 3, and Satan has continued to use this tool throughout time. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 Paul writes, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” The truth is that we cannot trust anything in the physical world. The evening news is full of falsehoods and agents of Satan.

As Christians, we would encourage others to understand that while humans can be bribed, bullied, and deceived. What can we trust? The word of Jesus Christ is true and testable. It can be trusted 100%. What a joy it is to know that we have a rock that is God’s word. If we trust God, all of the deceit and lying of men and of Satan himself cannot mislead us.

“All scripture is given by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness that the man or woman of God may be complete, totally furnished to guide us into all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
–John N. Clayton © 2018

California Assembly Bill 2943

California Assembly Bill 2943 and LGBT Lifestyle
It was inevitable that after a period of time LGBT proponents would have people who no longer wanted to be a part of their lifestyle. To prevent people from getting help to leave that lifestyle, legislators in California have introduced California Assembly Bill 2943.

What that bill would do is to make it illegal to counsel anyone who wants to leave the LGBT lifestyle. You can get counseling to leave any other lifestyle choice. There are programs that offer counseling to help people leave Christianity just as there are to help people leave Islam or any other lifestyle choice. But what California Assembly Bill 2943 would do is eliminate the right of a person who is part of the LGBT community to receive help to change their lifestyle. Once you have chosen to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or homosexual, you would not be allowed to get counseling to change that choice.

Elizabeth Woning who has been a vocal opponent of the bill says, “AB 2943 isn’t protecting LGBT people. It’s really a dramatic infringement of their rights.” Part of the reason this legislation was introduced is because of the track record of Exodus International. At one time, Exodus International advocated militant activity to get people out of gay behavior.

There are effective programs that are not extreme, but offer positive support for those who want help. Two websites that are available on this subject are californiafamily.org and oncegay.com. The bill has been stalled for now, but it has raised awareness of the militant opposition to anyone who opposes forcing the LGBT lifestyle upon the general public.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from Citizen magazine, October 2018, page 12-17

Child Predators and Pornography

Child Predators
The latest government figures reported by the Pregnancy Care Center tell us that every second 28,258 people in the United States are viewing pornography on the internet and that 40 million Americans regularity visit porn sites. This has resulted in 200,000 Americans who are addicted to pornography. The Pregnancy Care Center says “Pornography is extremely damaging to the individual, the family, and the community. It undermines the value of human life and leaves its victim with a sense of emptiness and hopelessness.” It also encourages child predators.

As people have left God and His teachings, they find themselves in a frustrating search for peace, satisfaction, and hope. As we all know, church leaders in all religions and denominations have had personal struggles with these issues, and very little is being done on a practical level to address this problem.

One of the areas where our ministry has tried to help churches and individuals in the area of sexual misconduct and all that it involves. We can best carry out the Church’s role in defending all people from the destructive effects of pornography by studying what the Bible says and learning from the experience of one who has “been there.”

We offer a DVD series from Jimmy Hinton titled Spiritual Warfare: Safeguarding Churches from Child Predators. Jimmy discovered that his father, who was a career preacher, was also among the hidden world of child predators. He has prepared this material to try to help stop this cancer which is undetected and unaddressed in virtually all congregations.

This material can be secured by requesting it on loan from us, or for purchase. If you have questions or wish to borrow the DVD and guide, contact us at 1555 Echo Valley Drive, Niles, MI 49120 or email jncdge@aol.com.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

STD Rates Increasing

STD Rates Increasing

In August 2018, the Center for Disease Control released 2017 data showing STD rates increasing. The report showed a radical increase in the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The CDC says that 2.29 million new cases of these three common sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed in 2017. Gonorrhea led the way with a 19% increase in cases in that year.

The CDC suggests that the reason for the STD rates increasing is a lack of government funding on sex education. There has been no increase in federal spending in that area since 2013. We would suggest that education about the mechanics of how to avoid STDs won’t change the trend. People won’t change their behavior until they truly understand the purpose of sex and how sexual behavior functions in committed relationships.

We have pointed out before that more and more Americans say “none” when asked about their religious affiliation. That is especially true for the younger generation. Without a religious basis, how can young people understand that sex is a creation of God that binds parents together in a loving, healthy home? The answer to STD rates increasing is not more funding, but more faith.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from USA TODAY, August 29, 2018, page B1.

Alcohol and Health Exhaustive Study

Alcohol and Health
The most exhaustive study of the long-term effects of alcohol has been released by King’s College, London, and the Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom. The study included 28 million people in 195 countries and included 694 separate studies. The research shows a strong connection between alcohol and health.

The report stated that “no amount of alcohol is safe to consume.” It went on to say: “The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous – alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption.”

The study shows that alcohol is the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease. Overall 2.2% of deaths in women and 6.8% of deaths in men come from alcohol-related cancers. The study also gives data for drinkers in different countries. Denmark had the highest usage with 95.3% of the women in Denmark and 97.1% of the men regularly using alcohol. Pakistan had the lowest with 0.8% of the men and 0.3%of the women in Bangladesh being regular drinkers. A standard drink was 10 grams of alcohol. Ukraine had the highest amount of alcohol consumed–8.2 drinks a day being consumed by the men in Ukraine and 4.2 drinks a day by the women. The report dealt with alcohol and health. Data on traffic accidents and alcohol is in addition to these health problems.

Like many other issues, Christians have to look at their responsibility to take care of their bodies. First Corinthians 3:16 tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that God condemns those things that destroy the temple. The cost of alcohol goes far beyond the purchase price. Medical expense, psychological damage, treatment expense, and accident expense make alcohol the most destructive drug in our world today.

The study shows that 32.5% of the world’s population drink alcohol which adds up to 2.4 billion people. What does it take for our world to realize the cost and speak against the use of alcohol? How can Christians take an ambiguous position on this issue? The wisest man who ever lived said it well, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
–John N. Clayton © 2018
You can read the report HERE.

Nones Can Be More Religious than Christians

Nones Can Be More Religious than Christians in Western Europe
We have reported on the Pew Research Center’s survey in the United States which indicated that those who list their religious affiliation as “none” are increasing. (See more about that HERE.) New research indicates that those nones can be more religious than Christians.

In May of 2018, the Pew Research Center released a study of religious beliefs and practices in western Europe. Some of the things they learned are very surprising. The survey involved 25,000 people in 15 countries of Western Europe. Since Pew had previously gathered similar data in the U.S., they were able to make comparisons. In comparing the results in the U.S. and Western Europe, the Pew researchers found that:

1-Americans are more religious than Western Europeans. That isn’t too surprising. The questions asked included “Do you believe in God with absolute certainty?” and “Do you pray daily?”

2-American “nones” are more religious than Western European “nones.” This is more surprising since you would think that those who have no religious affiliation would be equally lacking in faith. However, many Americans who have given up on organized religion still believe in God, and they even pray to Him.

3-American “nones” are as religious as or more religious than Christians in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. That is the most surprising finding of all that nones can be more religious than Christians. Only 23 percent of European Christians say they believe in God with absolute certainty. In the United States 27 percent of “nones” have that much faith. Only eighteen percent of Christians in Western Europe pray daily. Twenty-percent of the “nones” in the United States say that they have daily prayer. In Western Europe, fourteen percent of Christians say that religion is very important in their lives. Religion is almost as important to U.S. “nones” where thirteen percent say that religion is very important.

According to Pew Research, even though Western Europeans identify as Christians, for them it is a cultural or ethnic identity rather than a genuine religious faith. Eleven percent of Western Europeans say they are “spiritual but not religious.” That allows them to keep the traditions of Christianity without a commitment to the doctrines and things they don’t like.

Looking at these statistics, we can see that it is possible that some nones can be more religious than Christians. We see that even though faith in God has eroded in the United States, Western Europe is far ahead of us in secularization. All of these statistics give those of us who are committed Christians something to think about.
–Roland Earnst © 2018
You can read more about the recent Pew study HERE.

How Satan Works

How Satan Works
Yesterday we examined the question of whether Satan is real. We reviewed what the Bible has to say and concluded that Satan is real and at work in our world. Today we are going to examine how Satan works and how we can recognize what is from Satan and not from God.

1-SATAN WORKS BY BRUTE FORCE. In the Genesis account, God tells us how the battle between good and evil will progress. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. It will bruise your head and you will bruise His heel.” The blow to Satan will ultimately be fatal–evil will die. The damage to the heel will be bad in this life, but not eternally.

The Bible is full of descriptions of Satan’s brute force–the repeated captivity of Israel, the slaying of the babies by Herod, the crucifixion of Jesus, etc. Satan frequently enters his workers to make brute force happen. In John 13:27 Satan entered Judas. In Matthew 16:23 he attempted to enter Peter, but Jesus rebuked him. In our world today he enters people, especially when invited or not resisted. Every day we see examples of this on the front page of our newspaper.

2-SATAN WORKS BY SOWING BAD SEEDS. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus told a parable to explain a second way how Satan works. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between a tare seed and a wheat seed. Satan sows seeds that are not always obvious at the time. It is not always obvious who is sowing the bad seed as verse 25 says the sower of the bad seed comes at night.

3-SATAN WORKS BY IMITATING GOD’S GOOD THINGS. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 we read, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And don’t be surprised for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” In the parable, the tares were not removed until the harvest, because it would do too much damage to the wheat to rip them out. So also, evil will not be removed from our lives until the harvest when the fruit of our lives can be seen. God allows perverse forms of marriage and sex to continue to exist, but in the end, the results of these perverse things will be clear.

Once we understand how Satan works, we can know what comes from Satan and not from God. Mathew 7:15-20 tells us to “watch out for false prophets who will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them … every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit … thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” The next three verses have these evil workers claiming miracles in the name of Christ. People can claim anything, but Jesus says, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” We find Paul reaffirming that in 2 Corinthians 11:15.

Jeremiah 23 gives five tests we can all make of religious leaders to see if they are good leaders or false prophets.
1-Vs 9-14 Do they have high moral standards?
2-Vs 16-17 Do they offer false hope?
3-Vs 21-22 Do they have integrity and oppose evil?
4-Vs 29-32 Do they speak where God has not spoken?
5-Vs 33-36 Do they state their opinions as God’s Word?

There are plenty of cheap imitations of the Lord’s Church out there as you can see by turning on your TV. The religious teachers that fail the tests Jeremiah laid out are Satan’s workers, and they are all around us. That is how Satan works.

There will be a final answer to Satan. In the bad seed parable of Matthew 13, the master says, “Let them both grow together until the harvest time and at harvest time I will tell the reapers ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” It isn’t up to us to make the final judgment because the long-term result of Satan’s activity will make it clear. In Revelation 20 an angel binds Satan and casts him into the fire. The dead, both small and great, will be judged according to their works.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

American Marijuana Attitude

American Marijuana Attitude
A recent study showed that most Americans view marijuana favorably thinking that it has significant benefits and few risks. Science does not support the new American marijuana attitude.

The journal Annals of Internal Medicine published the new study on July 23. The researchers conducted an online survey of more than 9,000 people from all over the United States. They found that 81 percent of U.S. adults believe that marijuana has at least one benefit. The most common benefit mentioned was pain management. Other supposed benefits in people’s minds were the treatment of diseases and relief from anxiety, stress, and depression. At the same time, 91 percent of the respondents believe that marijuana has at least one risk. The most common risk mentioned was not medical problems, but legal. They also mentioned addiction and impaired memory. The bottom line is that the American public sees marijuana as having few health risks and significant health benefits.

The prevailing favorable American marijuana attitude is most likely due to the influence of the media. Some individuals and businesses stand to make a massive amount of money on marijuana, and governments see it as a source of tax revenue. In the meantime, the public is ignoring costs in healthcare, addiction treatment, traffic enforcement, and traffic deaths. In a previous post, we reported on a study of the effects of marijuana on the brain. The American Medical Association published information in the JAMA Internal Medicine on the increase in fatal car accidents in the United States on April 20 each year. That’s the cannabis celebration day on which thousands of marijuana enthusiasts light up at 4:20 PM in celebration of pot. The 4/20 celebration has grown as marijuana has become more widely available and legal. According to the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, there was a 12 percent increase in fatal crashes on April 20 and a 38 percent increase among drivers younger than 21.

Since Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, the percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who had traces of marijuana in their blood has doubled. One of the problems involves trying to set a legal limit for marijuana because its effect on the body is very different from alcohol. Blood alcohol level reliably predicts impairment. The level of THC (the chemical in pot) in the blood is not the critical factor until it enters the tissue of the brain where it has its effect. The THC blood level may be lower when the brain is most affected.

Getting high on marijuana makes changes in the human brain and smoking the weed has many of the same health dangers as smoking tobacco. It seems clear that the American marijuana attitude is changing, but it is also clear that we need to step back and think more clearly before our thinking becomes blurred by pot.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Should Christians Care About Global Warming?

Should Christians Care About Global Warming?
Global warming has been an issue from a scientific perspective for at least 60 years. I remember discussions about it in my college classes at Indiana University many decades ago. In the last decade it has become a political issue and in the last few years a religious issue. There is so much bad information in the media that it is no wonder many people are confused about what is true and what is not true. Should Christians care about global warming?

Let us first point out that global warming and local heat are two different things. The heat wave that you may have experienced in the summer of 2018 in the United States is NOT what global warming is about. It may be hot where you are and very cold somewhere else. Global warming is just that–global. Data shows that the average temperature of the entire planet is rising. This is not the first time it has happened. The history of the planet shows periods of global cold and global heat. The causes of these changes are many and complex. Earth is a large planet with multiple factors involved in how its climatic systems work. Variations in the sun, volcanic eruptions, asteroid and comet collisions, and human activity all can affect climate.

Does climate affect human life? Of course it does. It always has, and with our increased population the effect will be greater. Jesus told his disciples, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars: see and do not be alarmed for all these things will come to pass but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and there shall be famines and earthquakes in different parts of the world” (Matthew 24:6-7).

Is human life affecting climate and should Christians care about global warming? Genesis 2:15 tells us that God put humans in the garden of Eden “to dress it and keep it.” God expects us to take care of what He created, and we have not done a good job of it. When we mismanage God’s gift to us, there are always consequences. Man-made synthetics cause a large percentage of cancer. We are in an opioid crisis because of materials we take into our bodies that affect us in a variety of ways. Those of us who live in industrialized areas have seen the ecological disasters caused by human greed and selfishness. Several years ago, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio actually caught on fire. I have seen areas like Ducktown, Tennessee, and Sudbury, Ontario, decimated by pollution. Fortunately, people worked to clean up those places. Right now we have a crisis in our oceans because of the foolish disposal of plastics.

The global warming issue involves many factors, and human actions are certainly some of them. To what extent humans are responsible can be debated, but the question of rising temperatures globally cannot be debated. Christians can lead the world in helping relieve the consequences of “famines and earthquakes in different parts of the world.” If your belief system is “survival of the fittest,” you will not get involved, but that is not the worldview of Christians.

Jesus said, “Then shall the King say … Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungered and you gave me food to eat: I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink: I was a stranger and you took me in: naked and you clothed me: I was sick and you visited me…” (Matthew 25:34-38). Global warming may cause much suffering on our planet, whatever its cause. Should Christians care about global warming? Yes, and the followers of Jesus Christ will be there to relieve the pain.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Know the Meaning of Life

Know the Meaning of Life
It was a study using scientific methods to determine what category of people are the most content with life. The research involved compiling the results of five different psychological studies of more than 50,000 individuals completed between 1981 and 2017. The journal Social Psychological and Personality Science published a report of the final result in June 2018. The happiest group are those who know the meaning of life.

A team of psychologists from the University of Southern California conducted the study. They concentrated on the political views of the test subjects, looking to see whether they were liberal or conservative. The conservatives consistently were the happiest, and they more often claimed to know the meaning of life. The media reported this as a “happiness gap” between liberals and conservative.

This study concentrated on political viewpoints, but when the researchers adjusted their model to remove “religious attendance” from the equation, the conservatives were still happier and found more purpose in life than liberals did. However, they found that the people who were pro-life and did not support same-sex marriage (which would include most conservative Christians) were more likely to believe that life has meaning and purpose. (After all, why would someone who believes there is a purpose in life not be pro-life?)

The author of the new study, David Newman, said, “Finding meaning in life is related to the sense or feeling that things are the way they should be and that there is a sense of order. If life feels chaotic, then that would likely dampen your sense that life is meaningful.”

Christians believe that there is order because God created an orderly universe. We believe that chaos is the result of sin. We also believe that God created us for a purpose and no matter what happens in this life, God loves us and has something better waiting for us. Our hope is in Christ, and nothing in this life can take away the “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

The scientists attempted to remove the God factor by taking “religious attendance” out of the equation. Perhaps they didn’t realize that attendance at some kind of religious gathering is not what makes a person a true Christian. The accurate measure of a Christian life is allowing Jesus Christ to be Lord. When Christ is at the center of our being, and we live by faith, we will have contentment, and we will know the meaning of life.
–Roland Earnst © 2018