Thursday, May 22, 2008

Family Connections

I learned this week that I am a direct descendant of Patrick Henry. My half brother and his wife were visiting from Rhode Island this week, and they shared with us some of their genealogy discoveries. They knew that Patrick Henry’s name had shown up in my father’s lineage, but weren’t sure how he fit in. With their laptop handy, they dug into their vast family files to determine the exact relationship. It turns out that through my father’s mother, the maternal lineage goes to Martha Henry Fontaine, the daughter of Patrick Henry. He’s my seventh-great grandfather.

I have always been inspired by PH, with his “Give me liberty or give me death,” speech. He seems like a maverick, boldly doing what he believed to be right, not swayed by public opinion. He was not satisfied with the status quo. He was a great advocate for freedom. He also seems like a man of significant spiritual conviction.

Now I feel the need to study this figure in American history and learn from his legacy. I’m sure that there are flaws in his life as well as moments of greatness. It will be a learning experience for me, because I can let his life give insights into my own soul. When I read about any historical figures, I always try to learn about myself – my flaws, opportunities and potential. But with PH, it now seems much more personal.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Must See

Over the weekend I went with my wife and some friends to see the movie “Expelled.” In this documentary, Ben Stein explores stories of some science professors who have been fired from universities around the country. These professors have suggested, through lectures or publications, that there may be some validity to the notion of Intelligent Design.

(By the way, Ben Stein is the guy who played the boring teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” with Matthew Broderick.)

The concept of Intelligent Design is that scientific evidence in the material world points to design, not a happy convergence of random occurrences. A reasonable person, they say, could not observe the order of the universe and declare it to be a mere accident.

This is a direct challenge to the scientific community's prevailing acceptance of Darwinian evolution. According to Darwin, everything is an accident, governed by the laws of chance and natural selection. This universe evolved without any guidance from any being or intelligence.

Stein asserts that the professors who have given credence to ID have been intentionally excluded from the scientific community. They are fired, denied tenure and labeled as rogues. They can’t find work in their fields because other scientists refuse to work with them. Scientists don’t want to associate with those who question the party line of Darwinism.

In the movie, Stein drills down to find the real reason that scientists cling to Darwinian evolution. He interviews many scientists, both evolutionists and those who question the theory. He explores the implications of the Darwinian philosophy, and how it has played into world politics.

Best of all, this is a FUN movie. Stein doesn’t take himself too seriously. The movie includes numerous clips from old movies and newsreels. It actually has a great soundtrack, and I hope it comes out on CD.

Prepare yourself to laugh and to think, and go see “Expelled.” It will open your eyes!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

One More Thing

After I preach on Sundays, sometimes I think of another point I should have made. As our small group met on Wednesday, discussing last Sunday’s message from Acts 14, I had another bit of insight. In Acts 14 we find the story of Paul preaching in Lystra, when he notices a lame man who has faith to be healed. Paul commands him to stand up, which he does.

The man could experience healing because Paul was living in the power of the Holy Spirit, listening to his promptings. But Paul also noticed this man particularly in the crowd. Paul was paying attention to people.

We too can live this way. We can pay attention to the people around us. We can notice their needs and hurts. But we also need to be listening constantly to the prompting of the Spirit. He will show us how he wants to work in the lives of those around us.

It is a powerful combination: listening to God while noticing people. That sounds a whole lot like the Great Commandment: Love God, Love People. These are the greatest commandments, Jesus said. This is how we should be living.

When we live like this, Jesus reveals his power and the world is blessed by him. And this gives his servants joy in the process.