Three Things I Wouldn’t Have Without God

Three Things I Wouldn't Have Without God - Something from Nothing

I lived for 20 years as a committed, evangelistic, aggressive atheist, and for many more years, I have lived a life based on belief in God. The difference is huge! Here are three things I wouldn’t have without God.

1. I wouldn’t have a meaningful explanation for why there is something instead of nothing. If there is no God, then the creation is meaningless. Even if a model is eventually constructed that explains how time, matter/energy and space came into existence, the purpose for the existence of time and space remains unanswered. The existence of God, who is love, goodness, peace, and the creator of all kinds of beauty, opens the door to an understanding of the things we all enjoy. The struggle between good and evil gives us a role to play as sentient beings who can choose and facilitate love, goodness, and beauty. Being created in the image of God embodies our very make up, so there is a reason for us to exist. That means there is a reason for something to exist instead of blind, silent, unthinking nothingness.

2. I wouldn’t have a pattern for life except “survival of the fittest.” If there is no God, then each of us is independent of any responsibility for anyone or anything else. Why would I do or give anything to anyone that would detract from my own existence? If the strong survive and the weak die, why would I not want to devote myself to being strong? The foundation of survival of the fittest is not only being strong but also being selfish and dominant. There is no room for altruism in a belief system that tells me to make sure I am the best and the strongest and the smartest. Looking after number one is my passion and guide to behavior.

3. I wouldn’t have a fixed standard of moral behavior. To be the strongest and most fit, I must have a moral standard that accommodates those attributes. That means that I must have a flexible moral standard so that I can adapt it to what fits me the best. My sexual morals must match my physical capabilities. My concept of ownership must revolve around my capabilities. There are times when lying will promote my station in life. Deception in the natural world is a key to survival in many situations, so why would it not be a part of my basis for making moral decisions? If there is no God, then trust ceases to exist. No contract of any kind has meaning if there are no absolute concepts of what is right and what is wrong.

Those are three things I wouldn’t have without God., but they are not all. There are two more I want to share with you tomorrow.

— John N. Clayton © 2019

How to Become More Spiritual

How to Become More SpiritualWe recently received a question that perhaps all of us need to consider. The questioner wanted to know how to become more spiritual. We don’t find the word “spiritual” in the Old Testament of the Bible or in the gospels. It doesn’t refer to someone walking around piously, or a person who is in constant verbal prayer to impress others. It is not a “goody two shoes” word, and in fact, it can refer to evil and Satan. Ephesians 6:12, for example, says: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against SPIRITUAL wickedness in high places.”

Vines Dictionary of Biblical Words says that the word “spiritual” refers to “Things that have their origin with God and which, therefore, are in harmony with His character.” Romans 7:14 tells us that the law is spiritual, but it could not make humans spiritual. James 2:10 points out that if you are guilty of breaking one part of the law, you are guilty of the whole law. If you get arrested for stealing, the fact that you didn’t murder anyone will not exonerate you. The only way we can become more spiritual is through the grace of God and the power of the blood of Christ. First John 1:6-10 how to become more spiritual by “walking in the light,” and having a unique relationship with God through Christ.

Much of the New Testament instruction is aimed at helping Christians become more spiritual. Galatians 6:1 talks about using whatever strength we have to help each other, and verse 2 talks about bearing each other’s burdens. We can grow in sympathy, understanding, compassion, and all that goes into being a more spiritual person. Music can help us grow spiritually. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:13-17 talk about “spiritual songs.” Songs like “If I Have Wounded Any Soul Today” and “Trust and Obey” sung in our car as we drive or in our homes as we do our daily chores can help us. Praying to grow in spirituality is another excellent tool.

Learning and increasing in our knowledge of God and His Word can help us become stronger spiritually. Second Peter 3:18 states this directly, and 1 Peter 2:2 speaks of having a desire to grow. Ephesians 4:11-15 says that knowledge is a part of spiritual maturity, and Colossians 1:9-12 speaks of learning to know God. All of these Bible passages tell us how to become more spiritual.

Skeptics and atheists who follow “survival of the fittest” as the core foundation of their lives have no interest and no capability to be spiritual in a positive sense. “Spiritual wickedness in dark places” is well defined as “Things having their origin in Satan and which, therefore, are in harmony with his character.”
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Your God Is Too Small

Your God Is Too SmallMany years ago J. B. Phillips wrote an excellent book titled Your God Is Too Small. The thesis of the book was that there are things we consider impossible because we think we are too small, or too weak, or too poor. The problem with that line of thinking is that we are not figuring God into the equation. That thinking is still alive. Because of our own limitations, we believe that God is incapable of doing great things in America today. Sometimes we have more confidence in Satan as the destroyer than we do in God as the creator.

Judges chapters 6-8 tell the story of Gideon. He was a man who had huge doubts about God. He wanted to believe, and he stepped out on faith a time or two. When Satan opposed him, he backed away, and his father had to save him. Then Gideon tested God. When one test that he devised worked, he refused to accept it, and he gave God a bigger challenge. Don’t you know that the people around Gideon thought the whole thing was nuts? “You’re looking at 135,000 soldiers, and you’re going after them with an army of 300? That’s insane!!” Read the story. Gideon didn’t win; God did.

So here we are surrounded by a sea of hate, violence, war, abuse, and poverty. At the same time in America, God has blessed us with enough to eat, comfortable places to live, and enough money to make a difference in the world. Do you say that you aren’t rich? Americans are rich by the standards of most countries in the world. Instead of pouring money into selfish toys and paying for expensive entertainment to support the lavish lifestyles of Hollywood icons and athletic heroes, we need to use what we have to solve the world’s problems. Those who believe in the “survival of the fittest” mentality will oppose this, but following the teachings of Jesus Christ can make it happen. We can, with God’s help, change the world.

You say, “That’s crazy.” My response is, “Your God Is Too Small.” We need more Gideons, fewer Nebuchadnezzars, and a greater faith that God can do anything.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Handicaps Do Not Warrant Death

Handicaps Do Not Warrant DeathThere is a growing belief in our world today that there are situations in which euthanasia should be used to eliminate people who have a severe handicap. We are not talking “pull the plug” cases, but handicaps due to injuries or birth defects. As the father of a child who was born blind, mentally challenged, with cerebral palsy, a form of muscular dystrophy and schizophrenia, I have a personal interest in this issue. Handicaps do not warrant death.

This issue was highlighted in the 2019 ESPY Jimmy V Perseverance Award. The winner was coach Rob Mendez. Mr. Mendez was born with no arms or legs because of a rare disease called tetra-amelia syndrome. In spite of his handicap, Mr. Mendez had a great interest in football and a desire to become a football coach. He is 31 years old and for 12 years has been an assistant coach at 12 different high schools in California. He is now the junior varsity football coach at Prospect High School.

Mendez coaches his team from a wheelchair, which he controls with his shoulders. He has learned how to write with his mouth and maps out plays on a smartphone attached to the wheelchair, drawing diagrams with a stylus or using a pen on a whiteboard. He is also a motivational speaker and has as his theme “Who says I can’t?” He is living proof that handicaps do not warrant death.

Our interest in this story is that it shows loud and clear that “survival of the fittest” is a poor choice of how to approach struggles in life for human beings. Those who would kill a person because of perceived physical limitations are using an atheist belief system. They are saying that humans are just animals and that the unfit should be eliminated. We have written previously about Peter Singer and other scholars at major universities who support such atheistic views. The biblical view is that humans are created in the image of God and have special value and purpose no matter what their physical situation. Handicaps do not warrant death. Having a son with multiple handicaps has altered my life in a positive way, so I know that sometimes the collateral benefits go far beyond the individual.

We have two books on this subject available on loan or at cost. One is Timothy, My Son and MyTeacher, which is my personal story. The other book by Chet McDoniel titled All He Needs for Heaven is the story of a young man born with no arms and no thighs. This book is a Christian family’s story of what they have learned and how this issue fits into the concept of a loving God who wants the best for His children. Contact us if you are interested in either or both of these books. The books are also available for purchase HERE and HERE.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Learn from the Animals

Learn from the Animals
We are frequently astounded by what animals can do. As science seeks solutions to problems such as having enough food, knowing how to avoid disasters, and solving medical problems, we frequently see the answers in the designed features of living things. There are many things we can learn from the animals.

How can we have enough food to feed everyone on this planet? One way is to take advantage of animals with high reproductive capacity. A female mackerel, for example, lays about 500,000 eggs at one time. We have relied on animals like cattle which have one offspring at a time, are environmentally unfriendly, and require massive energy to sustain. Many fish, arthropods and mollusks can reproduce massive numbers of offspring, need very little energy input, and give off little or no environmental hazards. Some of them even remove environmentally unfriendly materials.

Can we improve our vision and perhaps restore sight to people who are blind? Studies of the common dragonfly have shown that each eye has 30,000 lenses. Our one lens is limited as to what we can see. The way images are transmitted to the brain in animals allows multiple transmissions. We are learning from insects and chameleons how the brain can reconstruct a useful image from many separate images. A chameleon can move its eyes in different directions, and its brain can interpret the direction and identification of what each eye is seeing independently.

How can we make stronger materials? Beaver’s teeth are so sharp that Native Americans used them as knife blades. The structure of the tooth enamel in the beaver and how the teeth maintain their sharpness is an area where materials science researchers can learn from the animals.

Can we make better drones? Researchers are interested in how high-frequency wing beats can allow better control of flight. Tiny flies known as midges beat their wings over 1000 times a second – twice as fast as mosquitoes. We can even learn from the animals that are almost too small to see.

Examples like these challenge those who would attribute animal design to chance processes and survival of the fittest. The design engineering in the animal world suggests wisdom beyond that of humans. In Proverbs 8:5,22,35 wisdom speaks, “O you simple ones understand wisdom and you foolish ones, have an understanding heart. The Lord possessed me (wisdom) in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. For whoever finds me finds life and shall obtain the favor of the Lord.” Let us be wise as we copy the wise designs of the Creator.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
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