A Question of Trust

A Question of Trust

Those who work with sheep have shared with me some of the problems of shepherding, such as disease, quality of fleece, and feed problems. But the strangest problem is what happens with lambs during their first week after birth. It’s a question of trust.

If something awakens a newborn lamb, it has an instinctive drive to follow whatever moves near it – usually its mother. That allows lambs in the wild to stay with the herd. The problem is that if something other than the mother is moving nearby, they will follow it. There are cases where a lamb followed an ATV, a predator, or even a bird.

If you have seen pictures of Jesus carrying a lamb, you are seeing what ancient shepherds did. Isaiah 40:10-11 describes this in beautiful terms. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament frequently used an illustration of sheep. (See Mark 6:34; John 10:1-9; and 1 Peter 2:25). The sheep’s trust in the shepherd is amazing. They know his voice and will follow and trust the shepherd 100%.

It’s a question of trust for you and me also. We all know you can’t trust the government, the company you work for, neighbors, or perhaps even family members. Examining the life of Peter, you can see him growing from a man with no faith following Jesus, knowing that he could return to his fishing nets whenever he stopped trusting Jesus. By Mathew 16:16, you see Peter calling Jesus the Son of God. In Luke 5:4-5, he responds to Jesus by saying, “Nevertheless if you say so, I will let down the nets.” We tend to criticize Peter for what happened in Matthew 26:69-75, but given the same circumstance, I don’t know that my trust would be great enough to stand up and be martyred.

Satan attacks our trust when bad things erode our faith in God. Sickness, the death of a loved one, money issues, politics – the list of things that erode our trust in God is enormous. But Christians can do things to build trust. We need to count our blessings and remember when God provided an answer for a tough time in our lives. Spend some time looking at the alternative. Where would being an unbeliever take you? If you reject God, what purpose will you have in life?

Learn to avoid the naysayers and reflect on the evidence that God is real and His word is a proven guide to living with trust and joy. Our free video series on the web at doesgodexist.tv will give you evidence to trust God. Our free correspondence courses can give you evidence to build your faith. Don’t let a lack the pressures of the skeptical world destroy your faith in Jesus Christ. It’s a question of trust.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

A Mindful Ultimate Cause for Our Existence

A Mindful Ultimate Cause for Our Existence

Yesterday, we said that all major polls from Gallup and Pew agree that faith in God is declining in America. We pointed out that the majority of atheists and agnostics agree with the statement: “The findings of science make the existence of God less probable.” That is true even though recent scientific discoveries point to the existence of a mindful ultimate Cause for our existence.

In the past, a significant factor that caused people to reject faith in God was the problem of pain and suffering. Why would a loving and all-powerful God would allow pain and suffering? That question has led many people to reject God in the past, but another factor for rejecting God has exceeded that one.

According to the Discovery Institute, research shows that 50% of people who reject God do so because of suffering, disease, and death. However, 65% of those who reject belief in God today do so because of: “Scientific theories about the unguided evolution of life.” That means science has become a more significant factor in rejecting God than the pain and suffering problem.

What are the implications for humans if we evolved by unguided evolution? Suppose humans have evolved from the lower animals by a mindless, undirected process. In that case, it means that humans have no intrinsic value, no ultimate purpose, no objective morality, and death is the end of our existence as our bodies decay. When people believe that, what can keep them from being filled with despair and choosing suicide and murder? If we fail to find happiness in life, why not bring it to an end?

Before society is destroyed by complete despair, we have a message of hope. We want to tell you that there is a mindful ultimate Cause for our existence. Even scientific evidence points to the existence of God. The Bible and Jesus Christ show us that God loves us and has a plan for our lives. There is purpose and hope and a reason to live. As we enter a new year, the Does God Exist? ministry will continue to share that good news with everyone willing to open their hearts and minds to listen.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Reference: Stephen C. Meyer on “Has Humanity Forgotten God” on YouTube

The Journey to Safety

The Journey to Safety of a Sea Turtle
Hatchling Sea Turtle Journey to Safety of the Ocean

We have often talked about the design of animals. Various animals act on what we often call “instinct.” Programmed into sea turtles is a journey to safety. When baby sea turtles hatch on the beach, they instinctively and quickly head to the ocean to escape the predators on land. Their mothers didn’t teach them to do that. It is programmed into them. When a kangaroo is born, it will instinctively journey to safety by climbing into its mother’s pouch. She does nothing to assist the tiny creature. Programming a specific action is very efficient, so we program computers to do specific tasks.

In contrast to programmed actions, there is free will. When we tell our children what to do, they may do something entirely different. The child can understand our instructions but still refuse to follow them. The reason is that the child finds other things he wants to do are more appealing.

The bottom line is that commanding actions is less efficient than programming those actions. A baby sea turtle, kangaroo, or robot will act in the way it is programmed. If you are a parent, you have realized that your child will not always do what you command. The question, then, is why didn’t God program humans to do what He wanted? Why did He give us free will? Programming us to act as He desired would have been much more efficient.

God commands us rather than programming us to do His will because He wants to have a relationship with us. Robots can be very efficient because they have specific functions programmed into them and will do what their designer intended. That is not true of humans. However, you can never have a real relationship with a robot. God wants to have a relationship with us. He knew what would happen when He created the first humans, but He did it anyway. We have rebelled and made a mess of our lives and our world. Hatred, war, and mayhem have been the results.

Why, then, did God choose to create us? To Him, having a relationship with us was worth the price. Jesus Christ came to Earth to restore the broken relationship. He was the perfect man, but at the same time, He was God in the flesh. He showed us how to have a loving relationship with God and each other. Then, He bore the punishment for our disobedience to restore the broken relationships.

We are not robots. We are God’s creation, in His image, with free will. We can choose the journey to safety or ignore God and choose our own path. God has made the journey to safety and peace available to us. Why choose the path to destruction?

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Tragedies Do Not Disprove God

Tragedies Do Not Disprove God - Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe

On Saturday, November 11, U. S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe had a career-ending injury. Only six minutes into the National Women’s Soccer League Championship, Rapinoe tore her Achilles tendon, putting her out of the game. She used the occasion to express her lack of belief in God. The truth is that tragedies do not disprove God.

In the post-match press conference, Rapinoe said, “I’m not a religious person or anything, and if there was a god, like, this is proof that there isn’t.” She then went on to express her feelings in profanity. Rapinoe admitted that she was not a believer before the accident. But I would ask, what does this accident have to do with God’s existence? Tragedies do not disprove God.

When we read the book of Job, we see the tendency of people to think that when something terrible happens, it means that person has done something bad and God is punishing them. The opposite of that is believing that if something good happens to us, we must have done something good to deserve it. Both concepts are false, contrary to Biblical teaching, and illogical.

Jesus clearly said that His followers would suffer for doing good. Paul suffered for presenting the gospel message of love and hope to a world that needed to hear it. James said, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).

When things go wrong, people often blame God. Some turn away from God, and others turn to God. Turning away from God is turning away from hope. Seeking God in times of trouble brings hope and, as James tells us, develops patience. Tragedies do not disprove God. They have nothing to do with God’s existence, and rejecting God because of disasters provides no hope. Placing our faith in God in difficult times gives us a source of hope and comfort.

Rapinoe expressed her confused perspective when she went on to say, “Thank God I have a (expletive deleted) deep well of a sense of humor.” I believe it takes more than a sense of humor to survive the trials of life. It also takes hope. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).”

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Reference: Fox News

The Prodigal Son and Carob Pods

The Prodigal Son and Carob Pods
Carob Tree Ceratonia siliqua

When reading ancient literature, there is always a danger for us to “Americanize” the meaning. An example is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-24. Verse 16 in the King James Version says, “…he would have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat…” Some critics of the Bible have said that eating husks would not have allowed anyone to survive, not even the pigs.

This criticism is a case of assuming that the “husks” were the husks of what we call “corn” in America and which is known as “maize” in other parts of the world. First, they did not have that type of corn in Jesus’ day. When the King James Bible uses the term “corn,” it is wheat or barley. What we know as corn in America was domesticated from a wild plant in southern Mexico. However, the term “corn” is not even used in this parable.

The Greek word used in Luke 15 iskeration,” which refers to something horn-shaped. Newer translations use the term “pods.” The carob tree, native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean, develops edible seed pods shaped like horns. People use carob pods as energy-rich fodder for livestock, including pigs. Humans also eat them in dried and powdered form, sometimes as a substitute for chocolate in recipes because of their color and taste. You may find this ingredient listed as “locust bean gum” in some prepared foods. The poor also use carob pods as a food source.

The prodigal son was reduced to surviving on a poor man’s diet. The people listening to Jesus would have understood these words to demonstrate the level to which the prodigal son had fallen. His life was at rock bottom. The Father’s forgiveness and his statement “…my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” should resonate with thinking people. The Father represents God, and His forgiveness is amazing.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: Ferrells’ Travel Blog and Wikipedia.

What Jesus Was and Is

What Jesus Was and Is

A former top official of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore, told NPR that members of that denomination object to following the instructions of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. The complaint is that saying “love your enemies” is a “liberal talking point that doesn’t work anymore.” This attitude demonstrates more than misunderstanding who Jesus was and is, it reduces Jesus to the status of a prophet or politician, as Islam and Baha’ullah suggest.

If Jesus Christ had not been WHAT He claimed to be, He could not fulfill the purpose for which He came to Earth. He accomplished that purpose because He was God in the flesh. The Bible shows Jesus to be God in passages such as John 1:1-14. Colossians 1:16-17 leaves no doubt when it says, “For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and on earth … and in Him all things consist.” Hebrews begins by telling us that God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Even Genesis 1:1 hints at Christ’s involvement in the creation process by using “Elohim,” the plural word for God.

In Matthew 5:43-44, when Jesus told His listeners to love their enemies, the Greek word is “agape.” That word means to consider the person to be of incredible worth and value. Jesus tells His followers to consider every human life precious because of its very nature. This flies in the face of atheists who promote “survival of the fittest” and of the Koran, which advocates war and killing as a means to convert people to the Islamic religion.

As long as people fail to understand what Jesus was and is, viewing Him as no more than a prophet or human teacher, we will continue to have war and killing – some of it in the name of religion. Only Jesus Christ offers an end to war and conflict as well as redemption because He is God.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: NPR.org

What Jesus Looked Like

What Jesus Looked Like

What did Jesus Christ look like? In my travels, I have seen pictures of Jesus with Asian features, caucasian features, Hispanic features, and features of people of color. We don’t know what Jesus looked like, and we really shouldn’t care. The fact that He could slip through a crowd unnoticed (Luke 4:28-30) and Judas had to use a kiss to identify him (Matthew 26:48-49) indicates that He must have looked pretty much like a typical Jewish man of His time.

The important thing about Jesus is not His appearance but His message. If you read Matthew 5, 6, and 7, you won’t see a picture of Jesus, but you will get a good look at the uniqueness and practical value of His teachings. Time magazine recently (August 24, 2023) reviewed the various cover images of Jesus they published over the years. They would have done better to publish what Jesus taught in those chapters of Matthew’s gospel. That is what our society needs today.

Read Acts 2:37-42 and notice how the people who listened to Peter’s message about Jesus responded to God’s invitation. They weren’t concerned about what Jesus looked like. They were changed by what Jesus taught and what He did. They were baptized, not as an emotional response to a speaker but to receive the gift God offered to them through Jesus.

Read Romans 6 and notice what baptism is about. It isn’t like joining a club and isn’t dependent on hearing a preacher. Baptism is a personal response to God and a change in one’s life. It is also the way to bring God’s Spirit into our feeble human existence so we can live a new life. Reading and acting on God’s Word can make an incredible difference in our lives and future.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

A Lesson About Judging

 A Lesson About Judging

The following poem was in the Niles, Michigan, bulletin. The author was not identified, but it has a lesson about judging for us all to think about. Read, enjoy, laugh, and think.

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights of its décor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp –
The thieves, the liars, the sinners
The druggies and other trash.
There stood the kid from 7th grade,
Who swiped my lunch money! Twice!
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal?”
Would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.”
And why’s everyone so quiet,
So somber – give me a clue.”
“Hush, child,” He said, “they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.”

Where we will end up does not depend on our good works, but on Christ’s saving grace. This poem may not be theologically correct, but it has a lesson about judging for us to think about.

— John N. Clayton

After School Satan Clubs

After School Satan Clubs - Satanic Temple

One of the consequences of the rejection of God and Christianity in the United States has been the success of the Satanic Temple. This group, active worldwide, is headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, and growing in influence in the United States. They have launched a nationwide campaign to bring After School Satan Clubs to elementary schools.

The Satanic Temple claims 700,000 members and has had several successes in opposing Christianity. Recently they gave the invocation at the San Marcos City Council, conducted a Los Angeles Satanic Mass, and administered “un-baptisms” in Boston. In addition, local Satanic Temples have engaged in Bible burning, drinking a blood-like fluid from a cup, and celebrating the sacrifice of goats.

The After School Satan Clubs offer a coloring book published by the Satanic Temple, which engages children in satanic rituals and constructing a pentagram, the official symbol of the Church of Satan. Clubs. The Washington Post commented, “The Satanic Temple is determined to give young students a choice: Jesus or Satan.”

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that elementary schools could not stop the evangelical “Good News Club” from hosting after school club meetings. The Satanic Temple is using that decision to justify having clubs that promote Satanic beliefs. After School Satan Clubs have reportedly been started in Utah, California, Ohio, Washington, Illinois, and Oregon elementary schools.

The message of the Satanic Temple ridicules Christianity, belief in God, and the Bible’s moral teachings. It seems this group would qualify as a “hate group” which could be legally challenged, but that will probably never happen. Nevertheless, Christians must be aware of this threat. Parents and local church leaders need to educate themselves on what is being taught in the schools and be ready to oppose satanic teaching if it comes to their communities.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: The Christian Action Network and The Hill

Nuclear Fusion to Power the Future

Nuclear Fusion to Power the Future

People today are concerned about “green energy.” The government is attempting to move the economy away from fossil fuels to protect the environment and reduce climate change. However, all of the alternative power sources have limitations. What we need is nuclear fusion to power the future.

Presently, the favored alternatives to fossil fuels are wind and solar, both of which have drawbacks. They include the expense of installing and maintaining them, plus the fact that sunshine and wind are only sometimes available. In addition, there are few locations where water power is feasible, and building dams on rivers can cause other issues. Nuclear fission is probably the most efficient method of generating electric power without putting carbon in the atmosphere. However, past catastrophes cause people to fear that option. Plus, nuclear fission creates waste that will be radioactive for years, and we have no place to store it.

On the other hand, nuclear fusion can release massive amounts of power. After all, that’s what powers the Sun and other stars. With nuclear fusion, there is no radioactive waste and no carbon to create greenhouse gases. The byproduct produced is helium, a useful resource in short supply.

Nuclear fusion to power the future sounds like the answer to all of our problems, so why aren’t we switching to it now? The problem is that science hasn’t found a practical way to do it. However, in December 2022, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California produced nuclear fusion in a lab. The tiny reaction was nowhere near what the Sun does, and it lasted only trillionths of a second. But it was a start. Thirty private fusion companies worldwide are using the Livermore breakthrough as a pattern to promise clean energy that would outpace wind or solar, or anything else we now have. The Fusion Industry Association suggests they could generate fusion electricity sometime in the 2030s.

Is nuclear fusion to power the future just a pipe dream, or could it really happen? God has given us everything we need for an advanced civilization. Intelligent planning of Earth’s history provided the fossil fuels needed to bring us into the modern age. Einstein’s equation e=mc2 revealed the enormous power contained within each atom. By releasing some of that power, we have generated electricity by nuclear fission. By applying the intelligence God gave us, we can go a step further and release even more power through nuclear fusion. That could get us away from depending on energy sources that are unreliable or pollute the atmosphere.

The truth is that tiny atoms are held together by incredible power, and releasing that power can solve our energy needs. The power that holds every atom together had to have a source—the One who created everything and holds everything together. “[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV).

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Reference: “Homemade Suns” by Virginia Heffernan in Wired magazine, March 1, 2023