free counters


Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the Glory)

Greetings All

This weeks 'thought' comes to you from a book entitled "Professors Who Believe." It is edited by Paul M. Anderson, published by InterVarsity Press, and contains a collection of 22 essays from various believing college professors (ranging from editor Paul M. Anderson who is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Minnesota; to Patricia Reiff, Professor of Space Physics and Astronomy at Rice University; to John Suppe, Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University).

Despite the level of intellectual acumen among the contributors, there is a underlying sense of humility that runs throughout all the essays, as is evidenced by the quote from Henry Drummond which Anderson uses to begin the very first essay: "Will-power does not change men. Time does not change men. Christ does."

Today's thought comes to you from James N. BeMiller (PhD), Professor of Carbohydrate Research at the Whistler Center at Purdue University, and is entitled: "To God Alone Be the Glory." Enjoy.

"Beautiful are the things we see,
More beautiful those we understand,
Most beautiful those we do not comprehend."
Niels Steensen

"Writing this essay forced me to examine the totality of my faith -- its meaning for all aspects of my life. Everything I think and do, wherever I am, in whatever role, should be governed by my faith. But is it? No. I am human. If my faith were perfect, I would put my entire life in God's hands in whatever I was called to do, wherever that calling led me. But I am not perfect. Sin is a part of who I am. Considering who and what I am in this way brings me to the realization that my identity should be a reflection of Christ in me...

I am a carbohydrate chemist. I have a PhD. degree in biochemistry. Most of my professional life has been devoted to the organic chemistry of carbohydrates... What do I understand, or think I understand, about the origin of my faith? How I came by my faith is a testimonial to daily growth and strengthening. My faith has been an inherent part of me throughout my conscious life. I truly believe that it was implanted in me at baptism. Then my Spirit-given and Spirit-filled life was nurtured by the same parents who brought me for baptism and were true to the promises they made. Whenever I have tended to stray from my faith, the Holy Spirit has pulled me back and has healed and strengthened me.

What impact does my profession have on my faith? All of us have an innate desire for proof. Even Jesus' disciples asked for proof of his identity and his power. My professional life is centered around learning, discovery, critical thinking and teaching. Do I take the same intellectual approach to my faith? No. My faith is not something I do. It is a gift from God. Being receptive to God and God's Word is neither something that I 'do' nor something I can control. As stated by Martin Luther in the Small Catechism, 'I believe that I cannot, by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in true faith.' This is not easy to accept for persons who rely on their intellect. Professionally, I do not accept a statement about anything that cannot be measured and substantiated with unequivocal data. But in regard to my faith, I know that it is the Holy Spirit within me that shapes and strengthens my belief. It is important for me to remember that my ideas about God are not the ultimate truth. It is God who comes to me, not I who come to God...

As a research scientist I try to discover as much as I can about the small facet of the universe that I am most interested in and know the most about, which naturally leads me to investigate things that I do not understand and cannot describe in that area. I marvel and the beautifully ordered complexity and diversity of the universe... When I contemplate the many, many marvels of nature (for example, how one of the enzymes involved in starch biosynthesis in both leaves and nonphotosynthetic storage tissue has the same catalytic unit in both tissues but different regulatory units because of different functions of the starch), I must conclude that God -- the all-powerful, our Creator -- is the greatest scientist of all. I must be open to God's mystery as well as my curiosity. And I must remember that this marvelous universe is insignificant compared to God's love for us. What we will learn from scientific investigation will not bring us any closer to God's grace and God's love, freely given and unrelated to anything we do...

I learned recently that J. S. Bach ended his musical works with S.D.G. (Soli Deo Gloria) -- 'to God alone be the glory.' Because I can neither comprehend the majesty, mystery nor power of God nor God's past and present involvement with and in his creation, including with and in me, nothing says it better, from my perspective. Thus I also close with S.D.G."

With prayers for God's continued blessings on your life,

Pastor Jeff