Thanksgiving Encourages Us to Count Our Blessings

Thanksgiving Encourages Us to Count Our Blessings

Of all the secular holidays that Americans celebrate, Thanksgiving is the one that has the greatest Christian syzygy. Syzygy is an astronomical term referring to an alignment of astronomical bodies, and Thanksgiving aligns uniquely with the teachings of Christ. Thanksgiving has no mysticism as Halloween does and does not involve special objects like Easter bunnies or eggs. It does not have the commercialism of Christmas. Instead, the family time of Thanksgiving encourages us to count our blessings.

In my 41 years of public school teaching, I saw kids whose parents did not appreciate them. Those kids were a problem for the school and society in general. In addition, I have observed marriages ending in divorce. In most cases, the collapse of the marriage was rooted in the partners not telling each other they were appreciated.

In the Old Testament, God commanded the nation of Israel to observe feasts and festivals of Thanksgiving. In the New Testament, communion is a time for Christians to pause every Sunday and be thankful for Christ’s sacrifice and the forgiveness it offers. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that Christians should “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” Romans 1:21 identifies those alienated from God as people who “knew about God but neither glorified Him nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

We give thanks not because God has an ego problem that He needs us to fill. We thank God because humans need to be thankful for the blessings we have. Focusing on what we don’t have or comparing ourselves to others is a short road to depression and unfortunate behavior.

Christians should be thankful 24/7/365, and Thanksgiving encourages us to count our blessings. For our own mental and spiritual health, we need to be grateful. Be thankful for the creation, family, friends, life and health, freedom, food and water, the Church, and salvation. May this Thanksgiving Day remind us of all our blessings. Focusing on what we don’t have and anguishing over our losses will not bring the joy and security God intends for us to have.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Living in Fear in Today’s World

Living in Fear in Today’s World

According to the Boston Globe, 80% of college students are living in fear. The article says that activists and administrators have created an “Us vs. Them” mentality. This applies to race, pronoun usage, and political views creating “intense, persistent and excessive worry and fear about everyday situations.” For example, the article says that even “picnic” is now deemed racist and can get a student branded a bigot or transphobe.

In the history of America, one of the rights we all have is the right to express an opinion. An adage says, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.” But, unfortunately, that is no longer applicable to life in America.

People could say that in the past because most Americans believed in the Christian concept of God and that all people are created in God’s image. The biblical concept of love was “agapao,” which governed how people thought of even those with whom they disagreed. That word means “to consider of great value,” and Christ introduced the concept in His “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew chapters 5-7). Christ and the apostles taught that every human is infinitely and equally valuable (Galatians 3:28).

People today are living in fear because they have adopted “survival of the fittest” as their guide for dealing with one another. That means I can denigrate those I deem less fit and treat them as less valuable. All abuse of others is rooted in this belief system. Carried to extremes, it even applies to political differences. Recently a female member of congress suggested killing a political opponent to advance her concept of democracy. No wonder people are living in fear.

The Christian belief system eliminates living in fear. John writing his excellent dissertation on love in 1 John 4:7-21 says it beautifully: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. If a man says I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen can not love God whom he has not seen” (verses 18-20).

Living in an atheistic world is challenging, and fear reflects that. Therefore, Christian faith and morality are more important than ever, not just on an eternal level but even in our day-to-day lives.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Article in the Boston Globe newspaper and repeated in The Week (10/7/22 page 12)

Jesus Christ Challenges People to Think

Jesus Christ Challenges People to Think

People today often refuse to use evidence to make decisions on everything from personal relationships to politics. One of the unique things we find in the Bible is that Jesus Christ challenges people to think.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus uses the phrase “What do you think” five times (17:25, 18:12, 21:28, 22:17, 22:42). Jesus never called his listeners to blind acceptance or thoughtless adherence to authority. In biblical Christianity, faith is not an emotionally-based response. Despite that fact, modern Christian denominations have relied on blind acceptance and emotion instead of thoughtful reasoning.

A good part of this failure is just plain intellectual laziness. People emotionally follow the charismatic leadership of individuals because it is easier than thoughtfully examining the evidence. The result is that we have cults and abusive religious systems. Unlike other world religions, the Bible and Jesus challenge us to examine the evidence and act on it.

Jesus used miracles to convince people of His divine nature. The prophecies about Christ predicted that He would not attract followers by his physical appearance. Consider Isaiah 53:1-6 which is undeniably a messianic prophecy. That passage says, “He had no form or comeliness … there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief … we esteemed Him not.”

Jesus Christ challenges people to think, but as long as people refuse to use their minds and examine the evidence, skepticism and chaos will result. Throughout the Bible, we find encouragement to look at the evidence and know that God is real and that His Word should guide our lives. Read Psalms 19:1, Psalms 53, Psalms 139:14, Proverbs 8, Matthew 6:26-30, Acts 17:22-31, and Romans 1:18-20. Waiting for God to “zap” you with faith is an exercise in futility. Instead, God rewards those who seek to understand and never calls us to blind acceptance.

The “Does God Exist?” program never relies on the opinion or credentials of any human. Instead, we call on all people to come to faith by using their intelligence and what they can see in the world around them. Examine the evidence!

Our materials are free or at cost and provide a way to organize the evidence so that each person who is willing can “know there is a God through the things He has made” (Romans 1:20). That means looking at the physical world and the spiritual world and dealing with the evidence that is all around us. Still, in today’s world, Jesus Christ challenges people to think.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Excuses for Not Eating

Excuses for Not Eating

If applied to other areas of life, the excuses we hear for people rejecting Christianity would not make sense to any thinking person. However, someone recently sent us an example of applying those excuses to food. Like faith in God, there is evidence that food is a significant source of success in life. So why not take the excuses people use for rejecting God and Christianity and apply them as excuses for not eating:

“I don’t eat anymore because …
I was forced to eat as a child.
I used to eat, but I got bored.
None of my friends will eat with me.
I’ll start eating when I get older.
I’m too busy working to eat.
I really don’t have time to eat.
Eating is just a crutch that I don’t need.
There are hypocrites who eat.
There are too many different kinds of food. I can’t decide what to eat.
Restaurants and grocery stores are only after your money. “


If you say that eating is different because we must eat to survive, I would suggest that having a relationship with God is also necessary to survive. Food provides physical survival, but being a Christian brings spiritual, mental, moral, and emotional survival. Therefore, excuses for rejecting God’s gifts make as much sense as excuses for not eating.

Look at the evidence and react to it in an open-minded way. We are not asking you to embrace human-created religions but biblical Christianity that allows us to live successfully through all of life’s trials and beyond. See 1 Peter 2:1-5.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Legalizing Assisted Suicide in the Netherlands

Legalizing Assisted Suicide in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has been a trailblazer in legalizing abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia. For many years, that country has had a euthanasia law that allows doctors to actively kill a patient with an injection of drugs. It is supposed to be done only under strict conditions, but some cases have resulted in criminal actions. Now a group has filed a suit to force the Dutch government into legalizing assisted suicide.

The group called Cooperative Last Will, which claims 30,000 members, brought the suit. They want to legalize assisted dying, in which patients are provided with a lethal substance they take themselves. Lawyers have presented their arguments both for and against assisted dying, and the Hague District Court will render a decision on December 14.

From a purely secular standpoint, there are obvious problems with this issue. There are times in life when you hit rock bottom, and dying can look pretty good. Taking your life might make sense if you believe you are an animal with no more value than any other animal. However, people thinking of taking their own life are not considering what their death does to those who love them, to material possessions, or their obligations to society.

The Christian view of life and the physical body is explained in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. It tells us that the body is the temple of the Spirit and expresses God’s displeasure with anyone destroying it. I have been with several Christians when they died. Their expressions of love, forgiveness, sharing, and caring have impacted the lives of their family and friends. In some cases, the actions or words of one who was dying have changed the lives of others.

Assisted dying is a selfish, cowardly, atheistic choice by someone who may be influenced by any number of destructive agents. We need to work toward ending our lives in a positive way that expresses our love and the care that we have for others. Doctors need to work on relieving pain, not finding ways to terminate a life. Legalizing assisted suicide to allow distressed individuals to end their lives is filled with problems.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Mike Corder in an Associated Press article for October 11, 2022. Featured in the South Bend Tribune for that date on page 6A.

Cannibalism in Animals and Human Cannibalism

Cannibalism in Animals and Human Cannibalism

Many things separate humans from all other animal life on Earth. One difference involves cannibalism. Scientific research has shown the extent of cannibalism in animals. In the wild, there are countless examples of animals eating their own offspring, the offspring of others, or even a mate. Cannibalism is an easy way to get food, and among predators, nearly all animals who are carnivores sometimes practice cannibalism.

Population density is a significant factor leading to cannibalism in animals. Also, a sick animal unable to get food in the usual way will frequently resort to cannibalism. Some animals will eat other animals’ young to avoid their offspring having to compete for food. Animals such as bears and lions will kill and eat their offspring to stimulate the females into early estrus. Many reproductive issues are involved in animal cannibalism.

Why do some tribal groups practice human cannibalism? The answer is almost never because of food shortages which often lead to cannibalism in animals. However, there is one biblical case where hunger led to cannibalism. Second Kings 6:24-29 tells about a war that caused famine in Samaria, leading two women to agree that they would boil their two sons and eat them. The first woman’s son was cooked and eaten, but the second woman hid her son. The response of the King when he hears of this shows that it was not an accepted practice.

There are cases where people in extreme duress have eaten human flesh. However, human cannibalism practiced in jungle civilizations involves religious reasons, not the desire for humans as food. Instead, they would eat an enemy’s brain to gain their knowledge or their body to gain their strength.

It isn’t just our culture that finds human cannibalism repulsive. Christianity teaches that the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Our Christian heritage has taught us that human life and the temple in which it resides are special and sacred.

Jesus told His followers to love their enemies. The Greek word “love” here is “agape,” which means “to consider of enormous value.” Our enemies are still unique with eternal souls, making them of incredible worth. This is far from the atheist philosophy of “survival of the fittest.” Killing a human is contrary to all that Jesus uniquely taught. As society drifts away from Christ and His teachings, spiritual cannibalism takes over, leading to war, suffering, and perhaps even physical cannibalism.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Scientific American November 2022, page 19

End-of-Year Holidays

End-of-Year Holidays - Halloween

One interesting part of this ministry is the wide assortment of emails and postal letters we receive. We average about 1000 per week, which come from every corner of the globe and express every viewpoint you can imagine. So, for example, we get many letters complaining about the end-of-year holidays and the decadent origin of many of them.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are the major end-of-year holidays, and someone will find things to dislike about their origins or practices. Halloween leads all the others with people citing complaints about everything from destructive spirits to human sacrifice. So, should we avoid trick or treat, carving faces on pumpkins, costumes, orange and black decorations, telling ghost stories, or games like Dungeons and Dragons?

The origin of Halloween goes back to ancient days in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales when the people celebrated the end of harvest. They had feasts, games, bobbing for apples, and thanking God for a successful harvest. The Roman Catholic Church added a time of remembering those who had died with special memorials for past family members. This was a positive thing that brought people together.

Years later, the Catholic Church tradition added the doctrine of purgatory. In many European countries, people held graveside services to atone for sins that family members committed before they died. This included leaving food, articles of clothing, or things that were special to the deceased by the graves. When some of these items disappeared, people assumed that somehow the dead had found a way to enjoy them. This led to fantastic stories about meeting these characters at night. Human imagination ran wild, and skeptics made fun of this practice and invented ways to profit from the stories created by people’s imaginations.

People today still invent wild stories, and the entertainment industry has taken advantage of that in films, plays, TV shows, and books. What began as a celebration of God’s blessings evolved into a memorial for those who had died and then became a tool for those who would exploit the uneducated for economic gain.

Taking advantage of people through trickery is nothing new. We read in the Bible about a man named Simon who used magic as a tool to exploit people ( Acts 8:9-11). In 1 Samuel 28:8–25, we find the story of Saul and the “Witch of Endor” seeking to bring up the spirit of Samuel. God commanded His people to avoid witchcraft of any kind. A miracle of God allows Samuel to actually show up, and the witch screams in terror, realizing that God has acted because she knows her scam is worthless. Bringing people back from the dead in today’s world is also a scam.

We have chosen just one of the end-of-year holidays as an example. Is carving a pumpkin or putting up Halloween decorations endorsing something evil? Of course not! Does evil exist? It absolutely does, but God is in control, and for Christians, evil cannot overtake us if we resist it. The Bible tells us to resist Satan, and he will flee from us (James 4:7). Halloween is a great time to learn and help dispel the claims of charlatans and con artists as they strive to fleece the ignorant and uneducated. So enjoy the end-of-year holidays and use them to teach others about what really matters in life–following the teachings of Christ as our guide to successful living.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

God’s Original Equipment Is Better Than What Humans Make

God’s Original Equipment Is Better Than What Humans Make

One of the things I have learned about my body is that God’s original equipment is better than what humans make. The dental equipment that various dentists have put into my mouth has usually lasted only about 20 years, but I still have some of my original teeth. My eyes are starting to show aging after working well for years, but I go through glasses at an alarming rate. Trifocals don’t work as well as the eyes I had as a teenager.

The desire to put off children until later in life to pursue a career has caused many couples to freeze embryos for later in vitro fertilization. In Scandanavia, 78,000 human embryos have been frozen, and 18,000 pregnancies have resulted from in vitro fertilization. Studies show that 74% of the mothers who used IVF suffered from high blood pressure, while only 4.3% of women had blood pressure problems with natural childbirth.

High blood pressure is dangerous in pregnancy because it can lead to preeclampsia which can cause complications for both the mother and child. This has implications for the abortion issue and family planning organizations. The bottom line is that women must decide what is most important in their lives. God has given them the ability to have a baby, and God’s original equipment is better than what humans make. Having a child is a choice a woman should make, but babies should not be an afterthought.

The financial stresses on families may force women to make hard decisions. Still, human interference with the original design of the reproductive process causes significant problems for families, women, and babies. Which is more important, having a high-level career or raising a child? Trying to do both and doing them successfully is a daunting challenge.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: CNN.com and The Week for 10/14/22, page 22

Little Aborted Souls in Heaven

Little Aborted Souls in Heaven

An article by S.M. Hutchens in Touchstone magazine raised the question of what the Redeemer will do with “those little aborted souls … in heaven.” A skeptic recently suggested to me, “If we believe the Bible, Christians should support abortion because those aborted babies automatically go to heaven.” Both of these views miss the point. There will be no such thing as “little aborted souls” in heaven.

When we die, we leave all of our physical existence behind. At the end of time, the physical world will be dissolved and turned back into the form from which it came. (See 2 Peter 3:10-18.) Einstein’s famous equation e = mc2 tells us that mass and energy are really the same thing, and quantum mechanics continues to support that concept. In 1 John 1:5 we read, “God is light.” Light is energy, and the idea is that God took some of His own nature and turned it into matter. That was the start of the creation process.

Revelation 21 tells us that in heaven, we will be free of every negative thing that afflicted us here on Earth. There will be no death, pain, or suffering. As verse 5 says, all things will be made new. Christ will bring all of us who are His into this new existence, including those babies who were killed before they could draw a breath.

The skeptic then says that we should rejoice that these “little aborted souls” are now with God and will never have to experience the trauma of life. That might sound like a reasonable argument, except for something that atheists can never deal with. It is the question of purpose. What is our purpose—why are we here? There is a joke about the skeptic who says to God at the judgment, “Why didn’t you put a stop to COVID?” God responds by saying, “I did, and you aborted it.” That really is more than a joke. It raises a key point in this discussion.

The Bible makes it clear that God had and continues to have a purpose in the creation and a purpose for each of us. We are not just accidents. Ephesians 6:12 and 3:10, as well as the Book of Job, show us that there is a war between good and evil, and we are on the battlefield. Atheists may try to deny this by saying evil doesn’t exist, but that is an irrational view.

Everyone was created with talents and abilities to do something in the battle with the spiritual forces described in Ephesians. Unfortunately, many refuse to participate and end up with lives full of frustration and no direction. Aborted babies never have a chance to do what God created them to do. Those of us who find our niche realize that God put us here for a reason. In that, we find contentment and value in life as we fulfill the purpose for which we were created.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “L’Chaim!” in the column “Mortal Remains” by S.M. Hutchens in the November/December 2022 issue of Touchstone magazine

Should We Treat an Aborted Fetus as a Deceased Person?

Should We Treat an Aborted Fetus as a Deceased Person?

In 2016, when Mike Pence was governor, the state of Indiana passed a law requiring “the burial or cremation of any fetus.” The question at hand is should we treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person? Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally, in 2019, the court ruled that Indiana law had a legitimate interest in disposing of fetal remains.

In 2020, a group of women who had abortions in Indiana, along with abortion providers and an abortion clinic, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. They said that the requirements caused abortion and miscarriage patients “shame, stigma, anguish, and anger” because they “send the unmistakable message that someone who has had an abortion or miscarriage is responsible for the death of a person.”

In September of 2022, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young ruled that the law violated the U.S. Constitution because it infringes upon the religious and free speech rights of people who don’t believe that aborted fetuses have any rights.

Whether we should treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person highlights the real issue in the abortion question. That is, whether or not a baby is a human before birth. Those who argue for abortion do not have scientific support for their position. The unborn child is not “an extension of the mother’s body.” Every medical attempt to define when a baby is a human fails because of the criteria used. Using brain waves, the ability to live outside the womb, the heartbeat, or when the fetus responds to outside stimuli are all arbitrary and change as technology advances.

In today’s world, having an abortion is safer than natural childbirth. The number of women who die in childbirth worldwide is vast, and even in the United States, there is a risk in giving birth. When you look at the arguments for abortion, consider how they can be applied to euthanasia for a person with age or mental issues. Some people want to use similar arguments to eliminate the cost and personal inconvenience of people at the other end of life’s journey. Ethics proponents like Dr. Peter Singer use them to justify euthanizing the mentally ill and the severely physically disabled.

Should we treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person? As our civilization embraces atheism, naturalism, and humanism, will it embrace a 100% materialistic view of human value? The recent ruling in Indiana seems to indicate that is the case.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Indianapolis Star and USA Today Network for September 30, 2022.