School Counselors Available

School Counselors AvailableI was always amazed at the magnitude of the challenges that I was asked to deal with as a public high school science teacher. Kids would come to me with problems that were not only huge but sometimes life-threatening. Several times in my 41-year career, students told me that they were going to kill themselves. I was expected to handle every situation on my own. There were no professionally-trained school counselors available, no matter how bad the situation.

People wonder why we have school shootings all over this country. With the breakdown of the family and the lack of any moral code in the lives of today’s adolescents, school shootings are not surprising. The July 2019 issue of NEA Today published a report on this dilemma. According to recent surveys, the ratio of counselors to students in the United States is 444 to 1. There are 1.7 million students with no access to counselors and six million students who cannot see a school psychologist and ten million students who have no social workers available to them.

In my years of teaching, counselors helped students make our their class schedules. The school system had professional people in the administration building, but they rarely got to the schools, and when they did, it was for special needs situations. There were no school counselors available for personal contact with most of the kids.

As we continue to force religion out the lives of young men and women, we will continue to find them adrift in a world that is full of huge and growing challenges. Local Church congregations have an excellent opportunity to help save lives as well as souls by having people available to work in the vacuum that American education presents.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Vibrant Christian Households

Vibrant Christian HouseholdsWhat are vibrant Christian households? The Barna Group is a research and polling organization which specializes in research related to faith and Christianity. They recently surveyed “spiritual vibrancy” within Christian households. The results are interesting.

The factors Barna looked for in Christian households were spiritual practices, spiritual conversations, and hospitality. Spiritual practices included praying and reading the Bible together. Spiritual conversations involved talking about God and faith among the household members. Hospitality refers to hosting non-family guests on a regular basis. They wanted to see how thoughtful, transformative faith can grow in families and be passed down through generations. The Barna Group defined households that practice these three areas as spiritually vibrant. That required spiritual practices every day or two, spiritual conversations every week, and hospitality several times a month.

Barna surveyed more than 2,300 households of practicing Christians “who say their faith is very important in their lives and have attended a worship service within the past month.” Of the active Christian households studied, only 25% were classified as Vibrant. The 33% of the households that exhibited spiritual practices and conversations, but not hospitality, were classified as Devotional. The 14% of households that practiced hospitality only were classified as Hospitable. That leaves 28% of the Christian households classified as Dormant.

This causes us to ask the question, “Which category would my household fit into?” Maybe more important is, “Which category do I want my household to fit into?” That leads to, “What can I do to make my Christian home more Vibrant?” It’s something to think about, and pray about, and talk to your family about. According to the Barna report, “spiritual vibrancy is not determined by unchangeable characteristics, but by things any Christian can improve.”

You can read more details about this survey and get some ideas for developing Vibrant Christian households on Barna’s website. Click HERE for more information.
— Roland Earnst © 2019

Importance of Religion and Family Life

Importance of Religion and Family LifeThe Pew Research Center wanted to learn about global views on the importance of religion and family life, so they surveyed over 30,000 people in 27 countries. One set of questions presented was, “Does religion play a more or less important role today than it did 20 years ago, and is that good or bad?” A second query set was, “Are family ties stronger or weaker than they were 20 years ago, and is that good or bad?”

A large majority in most countries agreed on the two questions involving family ties. There is strong agreement that family ties are weakening and that it is a bad thing. Across the 27 countries, 58 percent said that family ties had weakened while 22% said there was no change and only 15% said they had strengthened.

There was less agreement concerning religion. A median 37% said that religion plays a less important role in their countries today, while 27% said it is more important. Interestingly, most of the people surveyed were NOT OPPOSED to religion playing a more important role in their countries. The most significant opposition to religion’s role seems to be in Europe with Sweden (51%), France (47%), and the Netherlands (45%). In the United States, only 18% are opposed to a more important role for religion in the nation. In Canada, the opposition is 29%.

The countries where the largest percentage of people said that family ties are strengthening are Indonesia and the Philippines. The countries where more people said that religion plays a more important role now than 20 years ago include the Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, and Indonesia. By far, the people of Indonesia said that religion plays a more important role now (83%). Indonesia is 87% Muslim, and Nigeria is evenly split between Christians and Muslims. Kenya is 83% Christian and the Philippines 90% Christian in the broadest sense.

Not surprisingly, in the United States, people who consider themselves to be somewhat or very conservative (to the right end of the political spectrum) are 42% more likely to favor more religious influence in the country than those who are liberal or left-leaning. That attitude is reflected in the positions taken in the current U.S. Political campaign.

For more details on this study of the importance of religion and family life, visit the Pew Research website HERE.
— Roland Earnst © 2019

Definition of Marriage

Definition of Marriage One of the issues that arouse emotional response from many people in our culture is the subject of marriage. The gay community has brought a challenge to western culture by tying human rights to the issue of marriage, and essentially demanding that marriage be redefined to eliminate the biblical concept. The logical outcome of that change is whether there can be an absolute definition of marriage.

Since we live in a culture that is attempting to do away with absolutes, you can expect that to applied to an absolute definition of marriage. If that is the case, then many other forms of marriage will be viewed as acceptable. Polygamy (one husband, many wives) as taught by Islam and many Mormons would have to be condoned. Group marriages, polyandrous marriages (one wife, many husbands), family marriages, and any number of other things the human mind can conceive will become acceptable. There are those in our society who are willing to say that any system a person wants to engage in should be accepted by society at large because that is a basic tenet of human rights.

What is happening in the Muslim world today is a good demonstration of why this kind of thinking will not work. Various cultures practice polygamy, but Islam is the only religion that specifically sanctions it. Mohammed had five wives, and the Koran suggests that is the proper number. Osama bin Laden’s father had 52 children by 16 wives. Not all Muslims embrace polygamy just as they do not all embrace jihad. However, the Koran is very clear in sanctioning polygamy, and Muslim fundamentalists embrace and enforce it among populations where they have control. Mansour al-Nogaidan, a Saudi Arabian dissident, described his own experience in clear terms: “You can’t have a girlfriend in this society, it is too expensive to marry. As a young man, all you are thinking about is sex, so the teachers tell us, ‘Don’t worry, no need now, when you kill yourself you’ll have plenty of girls in heaven.’ “What does this practice do?

William Tucker writing in The American Spectator (June 2004, pages 50-52) summarized it, this way:

“In a society where not all men will be able to reproduce, excess males have very little social value. Therefore it is not surprising to find among this bachelor cohort three major characteristics: (1) an excess of pent-up sexual frustration, (2) an internalized sense of personal worthlessness, and (3) an extremely nihilistic-shall we say suicidal-disposition toward self-immolation and violence. Suicide bombers are easily recruited in these ranks.”

Some people maintain that all religions are equal and that there should be no discussion of why one religion might be in error while another is correct. They should look logically at where the teachings of various religions lead. The gay marriage issue may not produce a gender imbalance, but it does lead to other consequences. The most fundamental problem is that if the definition of marriage changes according to everyone’s personal rights, then marriage becomes meaningless.

The Christian system clearly identifies the concept of marriage as one man one wife for life. That is the ideal and what God intended from the beginning. Polygamy was allowed in the Old Testament, but it was a human modification, not God’s original plan. Genesis 2:24 clearly states that a “man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [not wives], and they become one flesh.” In the New Testament there is a clear definition of marriage in these terms, and even commands that husband and wife should not separate for any significant time to avoid passion leading to adultery (see 1 Corinthians 7:4-9).

The logic of God’s definition of marriage is clear. A stable marriage between a man and a woman leads to the birth of children who are raised in intact families leading to a healthy society. Since babies are born in roughly equal sexual numbers, there should essentially be a mate for every human. Everyone has the potential right to sexual and emotional fulfillment in marriage according to God’s design. Changing the definition of marriage will ultimately bring misery and unhappiness to humans. All other options lead to disease, problems for children, abuse, and chaos for society. The Christian institution of marriage according to God’s plan is a great apologetic for the validity of the Christian system.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Misconceptions of Heaven

Misconceptions of Heaven In a series of studies, I became impressed with some serious misconceptions of heaven that are common among believers and non-believers alike.

One misconception is that heaven is a physical place with physical relationships. Jesus faced this same misconception among the people of His day. In Matthew 22:28-30, someone asked whose wife a woman would be in the afterlife because she/had been married more than once. His reply was, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” In our day, we find people talking and joking about doing physical activities in heaven such as golf, fishing, and the like. I do not have enough information to determine whether we will know one another in heaven. I do know that heaven will be such a beautiful existence that nothing we have ever experienced on Earth can begin to approach it. No negative physical emotions exist In heaven – neither sorrow, nor pain, nor tears, nor crying, nor death (Revelation 21:4).

One of the prominent misconceptions of heaven by many people is that it’s a literal city of gold floating in the sky. Second Peter 3:10-12 describes the end of time as when the “elements are dissolved with fervent heat.” Nothing physical will remain, and our existence will be one of a “spiritual body.” “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God… we shall all be changed … and put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:44-58). We must remember that Christ clearly stated: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). In Christ’s day, people refused to accept that He would not rule a literal, physical kingdom, and so today people expect a temporal rule of an earthly nature.

Time-dependent existence is another of the misconceptions of heaven. Not only will there be no physical form or physical problems in heaven, but time itself will not exist. A child asked me what would happen when heaven was over. Like a lot of us, this child had not considered what eternity really is. Time does not exist in eternity. This also means that all the things associated with time will not exist either. God is the Alpha and the Omega. Before time was, God was. We think too small when we try to lock God into our time capsule.

Another one of the common misconceptions of heaven is that it will be boring. A man once told me that he did not want to go to heaven because he did not want to spend eternity singing hymns and/or playing a harp. This was an intelligent and sincere man who said everything he read about heaven in the Bible sounded as “boring as church.”

There are indeed statements in the Bible about being with God and singing to God. Again the problem is attaching physical significance to heavenly acts. Heaven will not be an eternal church service. It will be a union with God which has some parallels with our worship on Earth, but it will be free of the negative feelings and irritations we sometimes experience here. Those of us who have had the privilege of participating in a worship service which raised our spirits, brought us great peace, and lifted us through song and prayers may have had a taste of the feeling we will have in heaven. It will be a timeless spiritual “high” with our God which is so beautiful that our limited minds can only faintly comprehend it.

There are undoubtedly other misconceptions of heaven, but their root is probably the same as what we have already considered. In our present materialistic realm, we cannot understand a non-physical existence, and thus we will have misconceptions of heaven and hell. Although we “see in a mirror darkly,” with study and thought we can “press on to the mark.” Praise God for all we have now and all we have to look forward to!
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Take the High Road

Take the High RoadSeveral years ago, I was giving a lecture on the existence of God in a university science auditorium in downtown Chicago. I had shown the strong evidence that the cosmos was not the product of chance. At the beginning of the question/answer session, an atheist jumped to his feet, ran to a window on the edge of the auditorium, drew open the curtain, and pointed to the ghetto that surrounded the university. “If there was a God,” the atheist shouted, “He would never let a mess like this exist!” He then went into details about the pain, disease, loneliness, and poverty that was so dominant in inner-city neighborhoods. A huge sign left over from an inner-city high school career day hung in the auditorium where we were meeting. The sign said, “Take the High Road out of the Neighborhood-Get an Education.”

I asked the atheist about the meaning of the sign. He responded that it meant that the university offered programs that would help young people develop their talents so they could get a job and work their way out of poverty. “Does it take any effort or involvement on the part of the young people themselves?” I asked. “Of course,” he said. I replied, “God has never done for us what we could do for ourselves. If you want to take the high road out poverty, drugs, abuse, prostitution, or any other destructive behavior, you have to take advantage of the opportunities given to you.”

The road to destruction is a road of inactivity. It’s a road where we expect God or other people to solve our problems with no activity on our part. If we follow the low road, it won’t solve the problems. It will lead to a lack of appreciation, lack of satisfaction, lack of identity, lack of commitment, and poor self-esteem. There are many applications of this to welfare, foreign aid, and other problems of our government.

When people look at the problems of society today and ask why God doesn’t solve them, two fundamental principles apply. The first is that God is not the source of our problems. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that there is a spiritual battle going on between good and evil. Galatians 6:7-8 also tells us that a large percentage of what happens to us is our own doing. The purpose of our existence requires us to have the choice between good and evil, but with that choice comes negative consequences when we choose evil.

The second principle is that God expects us to be involved in overcoming the destructive forces in our lives. I firmly believe that my journey out of atheism and my ability to cope with a severely damaged child did not happen because of my own strength. But God did not step in and force a solution on me in either of those situations. I had to make an effort and do what I could. Once I had done all I could and gone as far as I could go, God did the rest. You will not see a single case in the Bible where God forced a person to take the high road.

A large percentage of the good things that are happening in the ghettos and substance abuse clinics is because the people doing them have tapped into God and believe that He will make things happen when they do all that they can. Deciding to take the high road to the solutions to human problems involves work and allowing God to supply what you cannot do yourself. If you have not sincerely tried it, please do not knock it, because it works.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Mental Illness and Teen Euthanasia

Mental Illness and Teen Euthanasia
On June 2, 2019, a 17-year-old girl named Noa Pothoven starved herself to death. She had endured a long battle with mental illness resulting from multiple rapes at ages 11 and 14. It was her second attempt to end her life by starvation. Last year, medical personnel placed her in a medically induced coma and used a feeding tube to keep her alive. This time her parents respected her wishes and allowed her to die. This case brings up many issues about mental illness and teen euthanasia.

This incident took place in the Netherlands where assisted suicide is legal for troubled children as young as 12 “providing there is strong medical evidence that psychiatric conditions have made their lives ‘unbearable.’” It is wrong to assume that any human can get to a mental state that is 100% hopeless and that they cannot be helped by any treatment. Ms. Pothoven was very vocal about her pain and frustration. She wrote an autobiography titled Winning or Learning (Winnen of Leren in Dutch) to describe her anguish. She had 10,000 Instagram followers and shortly before her death she told them,“After years of fighting and fighting it is finished.”

There were numerous mistakes in the way people handled this young woman’s case. At age 11, she was raped at a school party where there should have been adult supervision. She was raped again by two men at a teen party at age 14. She was ashamed to tell her parents about the rapes, and she never reported them to the police. The trauma from those rapes resulted in periods of being housed in group homes and mental hospitals. She was turned away by a Dutch euthanasia clinic and she was on a waiting list for radical treatments such as shock therapy. Finally with the cooperation of her parents, she refused all food and drink and passed away at home.

By applying Christian love and principles of caring, people can be helped, even with conditions like this young woman. If Christian love and caring had been applied from the beginning, she would not have gotten into that condition. Human life is precious and sacred, and even severe conditions of physical or mental illness do not change that fact. Mental illness and teen euthanasia are serious matters and we hope that she does not set an example for her 10,000 Instagram followers.
— John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2019

Reference: There are numerous reports of this incident on the internet. Just search for Noa Pothoven.

Real Fathers and Father’s Day

Real Fathers and Father's DayMore than 110 countries around the world set aside various dates to honor fathers. Today is Father’s Day in the United States. While I make a lot of jokes about how Father’s Day compares to Mother’s Day, I am keenly aware of the significance of being a Father. The Bible puts great emphasis on fatherhood. I’m not talking about the conception of a child, but rather the role of real fathers.

As a teacher, I found the existence of real fathers to be a rarity. At PTA meetings, the parents would follow their child’s schedule, and we teachers had 15 minutes to explain what we taught and how we conducted the class. Most of the time, the group I talked to, especially in my basic classes, was 100% women. In my AP Physics class, there would be a large number of men — real fathers. I am convinced that the fathers were one of the main reasons why the students were in my Advanced Placement class. In this day of single-parent families and blurred images of what a father should be, it is important to ask if the Bible message on fathers is legitimate.

My spiritual father was a man named Ward Sullivan. He was an elder in the congregation that I attended in South Bend, Indiana. Ward was always interested in what I was doing, and I could talk to him about anything. When I began the Does God Exist ministry, Ward was the only member of the congregation who encouraged and supported me. My ministry was alien to the experience of most people who had grown up in the Church. They thought it was crazy to talk about how we know there is a God and that the Bible is His Word because everyone should already know that. Ward kept saying to me, “Your heavenly Father knows what He wants you to do with your life, so do it and don’t worry about what mere humans think about it.”

My 41 years in the classroom convinced me that kids with real fathers who took an interest in their child’s life were at a huge advantage over kids without a father in their lives. God created us, and His instructions on what we need to grow up successfully have been born out over the centuries. Hat’s off to those of you who grew up successfully with no father image in your life. You are special and few in number.

On this Father’s Day isn’t it a wonderful thing that we all have a heavenly Father who cares about us, supplies our needs, and provides us with guidance in life? As I read about how God cares for us from the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24-34, it reminds me that God sets an example for real fathers by providing for us and caring about all we do.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Bible in the Information Age

Bible in the Information AgeAn article questioning the relevance of the Bible in the information age appeared in the Rochester (Indiana) Sentinel on May 8, 2019. The article was titled “The Bible Versus Information Age,” and in it, Dave Gudeman wrote:

“As long as you have a church that doesn’t question the Bible…you will have a stagnant congregation with little spiritual life…When a pastor is willing to ask what his or her congregation believes about the Bible, about God, about their faith and their beliefs about who Jesus is and then be willing to build their congregations around those beliefs, you would have the fastest growing church in town.”

I don’t question the reality of that statement, but what you would have is a social club, and not the Church Jesus died to establish. Earlier in his column, Mr. Gudeman wrote that many young people questioning the validity of the Bible “…leads me to wonder if the Bible can stand up to the scrutiny and logic of today’s information age of the internet.”

If you are a thinking and questioning adult, you know that the Bible can do more than stand up to the “scrutiny and logic.” The Bible in the information age is the same as it always has been — a tool to help young and old learn what works, what is true, and what is not.

The number of scams and immoral promotions on the internet is massive. A large percentage of the pornography being absorbed by young people today is coming from the internet. We have cited case after case on this website of misinformed or deliberately misrepresented information on the web. Our own array of sites beginning with doesgodexist.org and including “evidence4god” on Facebook has made use of the information age to show the strong evidence for God and to give answers to faith questions people ask.

The difference is whether you want a big church or an informed group of believers who work together to teach and provide accurate information while practicing what Jesus taught. That includes feeding the hungry, clothing those who need clothes, ministering to people in prison, bringing medical care to children. It also includes exposing misinformation such as the idea that somehow, humanity has outgrown the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible in the information age.
—John N. Clayton © 2019

Laws Threaten Christian Ministries

Laws Threaten Christian MinistriesSometimes governments pass laws with good motives, but when the law is applied, it has terrible consequences. In recent times we have seen laws threaten Christian ministries. Those who are trying to help people in the name of Jesus Christ should not be punished for doing so.

A classic example is the Downtown Hope Center’s Women’s Shelter in Anchorage, Alaska. The Center serves both men and women in the daytime, but at night it only houses abused women. The women sleep in military type rooms with beds a few feet apart. Because virtually all of the women in the shelter have psychological issues from being, it is essential that no males be sleeping among them. The Center denied access to a man who claims to be a woman. The Anchorage city government told the shelter to get on board with the laws demanding equality or close its doors.

We are getting notice after notice of other Christian facilities who have similar threats. In some cases, they have been shut down by government officials. Washington State Senate Bill 6219 forces employers who offer employee insurance with maternity care to include abortion. The Cedar Park Church has filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington because the church is involved in a maternity care program that provides for foster care and adoption. By its very definition, it would seem that “maternity care” would not include abortion. Laws threaten Christian ministries by requiring them to fund abortion when that goes against their core beliefs.

The number of cases is growing at an alarming rate, much of it initiated by atheist groups. In most cases, churches are merely closing down ministries and shelters where this type of thing becomes an issue.

For more on this, go to ADFlegal.org.
— John N. Clayton © 2019