THC Problem with Children

The THC Problem with Children

Discover magazine reported an incident that demonstrates the THC problem with children. A five-year-old Colorado girl ate some gummy bears that contained THC. Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and many other states, and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol ) is the psychoactive drug from cannabis. Edible THC products include candy and cookies, which are attractive to children. In this case, the parents and doctors could not awaken the girl, and she remained unconscious for 16 hours.

Hospital-reported cases of THC exposure in children under the age of six increased more than 1,000 percent between 2017 and 2021. About a third of the children were treated and released, but 15% required hospital admission, and 8% were sent to intensive care. The THC problem with children is that it is concentrated in candy, cookies, or brownies that appeal to kids. Children overdose on THC, which remains in their body fat for several days, and there is no antidote for THC poisoning and no reversal agent or special treatment. 

In the Colorado case, the family had no forms of marijuana or cannabis in their home, and they did not know she had eaten the THC-laced gummy candy. They had been on a camping trip where other campers had given the gummies to the girl. This is a new concern for parents and a problem that will grow. The marijuana industry has no supervision or control, and cities that have opted to allow unrestricted marijuana distribution are going to see increasing problems as kids find products that give them a drug high.

We live in an area of Michigan where marijuana retail shops are very active and numerous. As we drive around our community, we see many license plates from surrounding states where marijuana is still illegal, and often, children are in the cars. Even families with no forms of marijuana must be cautious about allowing their children to visit other homes where THC edibles might be present. 

Our society has rejected God’s plan for responsible living. Many of our neighbors and friends cannot give a reason or purpose for their existence. When you see no purpose in life, seeking an escape from problems and finding a way to feel good becomes a priority. The THC problem with children is just beginning to rear its ugly head, and we must make parents aware of the dangers. We must also help people realize that God has created them for a purpose and that life and health are gifts worth protecting.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Discover magazine for May/June 2024, pages 20-23.

Biblical Wisdom on Anger

Biblical Wisdom on Anger

“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” That’s the advice Paul gives in Ephesians 4:26, and it’s good advice. Recent research offers new meaning to that biblical wisdom on anger. Paul goes on to write, “…and give no opportunity to the devil.” Jesus said concerning the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Anger is one more method the devil uses to murder us.

A team of researchers set out to “examine the acute effects of provoked anger…on endothelial cell health.” Endothelial cells line the interior of the body’s blood vessels and play an essential role in blood flow and blood pressure. Previous research had shown that in the hour before a heart attack, people were more than twice as likely to have experienced anger or emotional upset compared to the same time the previous day.

In this new research, the team recruited 280 healthy adults and put them through an eight-minute anger recall test. They monitored blood samples, blood pressure, and the capacity of blood vessels to dilate. That dilation ability is essential for heart health. Research links lower dilation to a higher chance of heart attacks.

After eight minutes of thinking and speaking about a recent experience that made them angry, the test subjects had reduced blood vessel dilation capacity for forty minutes. If eight minutes of recalling and describing an anger experience can result in forty minutes of reduced blood-vessel capacity, what might be the effect of ruminating on anger to the end of the day, overnight, or even longer? This research gives new reasons for releasing your anger before sunset.

Biblical wisdom on anger gives more evidence for the accuracy of God’s Word.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

References: Microsoft News, and Journal of the American Heart Association

Mother’s Day and Motherhood

Mother’s Day and Motherhood

In 16th century England, a celebration called “Mothering Sunday” was the time for a special dinner in honor of the mother of the children in the family. The American celebration began in 1905 when Anna Jarvis started a campaign for a national day to honor all mothers. On May 10, 1908, a Mother’s Day service was held at a church in Grafton, West Virginia, where the mother of Ms. Jarvis had taught. Then, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day

The Bible holds mothers in high esteem. Exodus 21:15-17 prescribes the death penalty for hitting or cursing one’s mother. In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, stoning is the penalty for refusing to obey one’s mother. Jesus demonstrated the importance of caring for mothers by assigning His mother’s care to John, one of the last things He did while hanging on the cross (John 19:25-27).  

Mother’s Day is essential because American society has denigrated the importance of being a mother. In American culture, success for women is measured by achieving status in the business or educational community. Caring for children is assigned to daycare centers, and having children is a minor part of a woman’s overall role.

Those of us who teach in the public schools have seen the consequences of denigrating motherhood. I was called to the principal’s office for a parent conference concerning a discipline problem with a young man in my class. His mother came into the conference wearing a business suit and serving notice that she needed to attend an important conference at work, so our meeting must be brief. When the mother heard about the problems some teachers were having with her son, she stood up and yelled at him. Before storming out of the room, she told him that she hated him and wished he had never been born. 

I saw tears rolling down the young man’s cheeks. He looked at me and said, “Why doesn’t she love me?” All I could say was that I wanted him to know I loved and cared for him and wanted to help him. I had a special relationship with this student, but his story is repeated over and over in America. Gangs exist and grow because they fill in the hole left in the lives of many young people who lack parental love and support.

There is nothing a woman can do with her life that is more important or meaningful than being a mother. I am glad Mother’s Day gives us at least one day a year when we honor the great women who are the builders of the fabric that makes our lives good and our country great.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Historical data from Old Farmer’s Almanac/Almanac.com

If Religious Books Are Not Widely Circulated 

If Religious Books Are Not Widely Circulated wrote Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster in 1825 by Sarah Goodridge

Daniel Webster was an early American lawyer and statesman who represented New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress. He also served as the 14th and 19th U.S. Secretary of State under presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore. Here is a prescient quote from Webster.

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, then error will be. If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency. If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.” ― Daniel Webster

Webster’s prediction of what America would be like “if the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land” is indeed coming true. We need political leaders today who recognize that.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Quoted in GoodReads.com

Faith in God Brings Healing

Faith in God Brings Healing

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that nearly 50,000 people died by suicide in the U.S. in 2022. That is a 3% increase over 2021 and the highest recorded number. In a CNN Opinion article, Carrie Sheffield reported that, along with other data, “scientific evidence suggests faith in God brings healing.”

For example, the Harvard University School of Public Health released data showing that 68% of women and 33% of men attending weekly religious services are less likely to die “deaths of despair,” which would include suicide, drug overdose, or alcohol poisoning. Also, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that states with decreased religious participation had increased deaths of despair.

Furthermore, the “Psychiatric Times” reported that two-thirds of 93 observational studies showed lower rates of depressive disorder symptoms in religious people. Boston University researcher Brian Grim reported that 84% of scientific studies show faith is a positive factor in addiction prevention or recovery.

Those of us who have worked with young people from rough family situations have seen that those who survive are usually the ones who find a faith connection, offering a positive alternative to the drug and sex culture. You can’t discount the fact that faith in God brings healing in overcoming dysfunctional family experiences.

Carrie Sheffield wrote a book on her faith journey titled “Motorhome Prophecies: A Journey of Healing and Forgiveness.” Ms. Sheffield grew up in a highly dysfunctional home and became a “bitter agnostic.” She received a scholarship that allowed her to earn a master’s degree from Harvard. After many experiences in business, she became what she calls a “Protestant Christian” in 2017. In telling her story, Ms. Sheffield says that the biggest hurdle she had to overcome was “comprehending the difference between human religious abuse and healthy faith in God.”

We believe Ms. Sheffied is correct that scientific evidence suggests faith in God brings healing from life’s bad experiences. A biblical connection to God and understanding the teachings of Christ will help people cope with life and the collateral damage of their past.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “I survived a nightmare childhood. God and science gave me a better life” by Carrie Sheffield in CNN Opinion’s Newsletter for March 13, 2024.

Increase in Alcohol Deaths in the U.S.

Increase in Alcohol Deaths in the U.S.

Alcohol is the most destructive drug that has ever existed on planet Earth, and we see that in the increase in alcohol deaths. The Centers for Disease Control reported that from 2016 to 2021, deaths from alcohol use in the United States increased 29.3% from 137,927 to 178,307. Deaths among males increased 26.8%, and among females, the increase was 34.7%. The CDC makes a point that their data is only for deaths that are 100% attributable to alcohol use.

In ancient times, the term used for a substance (not grapes) used as a drug was “strong drink.” The Bible distinguishes between “wine” and “strong drink.” We find wine mentioned 141 times in the Old Testament and 32 times in the New Testament – always referring to the juice from grapes. The difference between “old wine” and “new wine” was the aging and fermentation of the juice. The juice was mixed with water because the water was not fit to drink without it, so the alcohol content was at a maximum between 10 and 15%. The term “strong drink” is mentioned 23 times in the Old Testament and one time in the New Testament (Luke 1:15). Scholars tell us that this refers to any drink derived from sources other than grapes, and the alcohol content could be as high as 20%.

The wine at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-11) was better than all other wines available, but it was not “strong drink.” Modern distillation did not happen until 1500 A.D., and that is when alcohol became a “recreational drug.” Death due to alcohol consumption was virtually unknown until several years later, but it is epidemic today.

Should we be concerned about the increase in alcohol deaths? Suppose death from some other product claimed 178,307 lives in a year. What would we do about it? Christians view our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:15) and stand against all things that would damage them. A collateral benefit of that belief is freedom from the damage that alcohol causes.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: CDC.gov

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Richard Hoyt for researching the meaning of new wine, old wine, and strong drink.

Social Isolation Affects the Heart

Social Isolation Affects the Heart

We have mentioned before the role the Church has in fighting loneliness, including anxiety, depression, dementia, and thoughts of suicide. Now, heart specialists and the United States Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, have expanded the negative role of loneliness. Murthy says that “feeling disconnected from friends and family has the same impact as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.” According to the Cleveland Clinic, the physical effects of loneliness include a 29% higher risk of heart disease, a 32% higher risk of stroke, a 50% increased risk of developing dementia, and a 60% increase in premature death. The bottom line is that social isolation affects the heart.

The importance of being actively involved with people, such as in a church congregation, cannot be over-emphasized. “Going to church” for an hour once a week does not help much in dealing with this issue. The Church described in Acts 2:41-47 was a group of believers who met together daily. Not only were they together sharing meals and times of worship, but they addressed each other’s needs. Church leaders today must understand that being active in a church cannot happen if the church is not active. I had a brother who was an atheist and retreated from family and all social contact. Alcoholics Anonymous was his only tool to fight social isolation, and his participation in that program was very sporadic. He died prematurely of heart failure.

Hebrews 10:24-25 gives a formula for avoiding social isolation. “Let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another with a view to arousing one another to brotherly love and right conduct; not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together as some do, but encouraging one another…” Church attendance is declining worldwide, and much of that is because people see no value in what the Church is doing. Saving souls is important, but contributing to each other’s well-being must not be neglected because social isolation affects the heart.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Loneliness and Social Isolation Are Hidden Threats to the Heart” in the Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor for February 2024 (Volume 24B).

Ministering to the Needy and Homeless

Ministering to the Needy and Homeless

Across the United States, church officials are threatened with prison time for helping homeless people. Churches in Bryan, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Tempe, Arizona; Houston, Texas; Santa Ana, California; Brookings, Oregon; and Pottstown, Pennsylvania, have been threatened with legal action by city authorities for ministering to the needy and homeless.

The problem in these cities is that zoning laws and codes prohibit churches from serving food or providing shelter for people who are in need. When churches violate those rules, the police are required to shut down the services. In the cases cited, the cities offer no alternatives for churches ministering to the needy and homeless.

Jesus made it clear that His followers should meet the needs of those without life’s essentials. He said in Matthew 25:31-40 that His followers should provide people in need with food, water, clothing, medical help, and shelter for the homeless. He expects His followers to provide counseling and support for those in prison.

Eric Tars, the legal director at the National Homelessness Law Center, said, “You’re very much damned if you do, damned if you don’t.… Officials would have thrown the innkeeper in jail for offering his manger to Joseph and Mary because it wasn’t zoned for residency and didn’t meet the fire code.”

This situation is only going to get worse as migrants are bused into cities and left to fend for themselves. The secular world is not going to help them, and, as is always the case, it will be up to churches to find a way to address their needs. There are creative ways to address the problem, but any help will involve cost. The bottom line is whether churches want to do what Jesus taught His followers by ministering to the needy and homeless.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Could helping the homeless get you criminal charges? More churches getting in trouble” by Claire Thronton on USA Today

Different From Any Other Life Form on Earth

Different From Any Other Life Form on Earth - The Good Samaritan
The Good Samaritan – Credit: Good News Productions Intl. and College Press

One of the conflicts between naturalists and Christians is whether humans have unique characteristics or are just animals conforming to the survival rules of nature. The biblical view of humans is that we are created in the image of God. That means we have a spiritual makeup that is different from any other life form on Earth.

Someone sent us an article about a student who asked the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead what she considered the first evidence of civilization in an ancient culture. Mead reportedly said the earliest evidence is a broken and healed femur. She pointed out that if animals break a leg, they die. They become easy prey for predators as they can’t get to a water source to drink or hunt for food. If you are a naturalist believing that chance environmental factors drive all life, that is the only option.

If you find a skeleton with a healed femur, you know that someone at that time cared for the person. Healing of a broken femur takes time. Someone carried the person to a safe place and protected them for a significant time, feeding them, providing water, and supplying medical help until the bone healed. Mead’s point is well taken and shows how humans are different from any other life form on Earth.

In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus tells a parable about a man usually referred to as the good Samaritan. A man has been robbed and is lying beside the road naked and half dead. What jumps out to us in the story is that two men who saw the injured person and refused to help were a priest and a Levite, religious leaders. The Jews hated Samaritans, but it was a Samaritan who took care of the injured man. The point is clear that followers of Christ should care for others who are less fortunate. Failure to do that shows an unwillingness to do what Jesus taught.

Humans are different from any other life form on Earth. We recognize the needs of other humans and are called to act on those needs. Doing that is evidence of God’s image in us. A predator might eat the injured man, obeying the natural animal instincts. Because of human uniqueness, we are called to love and serve others.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Celebrating Our Own Special Holidays

Celebrating Our Own Special Holidays

We recently received an article from a Christian woman working in a Christian assisted living facility telling about the value of special days to those in care facilities. She pointed out Romans 14:5, which says, “One person decides that one day is holier than another. Another person decides that all days are the same. Every person must make his own decision.” The word “holiday” in its original use meant “holy day,” and holy means “sacred, dedicated to God.” We need to find reasons for celebrating our own special holidays.

Our sister in Christ found that she could improve the lives of residents in the facility where she worked by making every day memorable by assigning notable food names to certain days. One day would be Fettuccine Alfredo Day, and another might be Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. Incorporating food holidays into meal planning gave residents something to look forward to. It told everyone that small celebrations remind us that every day is special and life is worth living.

In ancient Israel, there were a host of special days to remind the people of the blessings of God in ways they might otherwise overlook. They had frequent celebrations of a good harvest, of being free from domination by others, and of the good things that had happened in the past. Jesus used parables to talk about good things even though the circumstances of the common people were bleak at that time. Think of how special days Americans celebrate can bring joy into our lives.

We need to avoid gloom and doom mentalities and rejoice in the good things God has given us. Besides positive national celebrations, add ways of celebrating our own special holidays as we remember the good things God has done. And don’t forget to bring these special celebrations to those who are isolated and fighting the battles of health and old age.

— John N. Clayton © 2024