June 30, 2013

Human Cloning and the Human Spirit

Earlier this year (2013), researchers reported they have cloned human embryos to produce stem cells. The accomplishment is a huge step toward the possibility of treating human diseases; however, the news also raises the obvious question: will it ever be possible to clone a person?

Scientists have already cloned frogs, mice, cats, sheep, pigs and cows; however, in each case researchers had to overcome many problems. For example, Dr. Robert Lanza, scientist, theoretician and author of Biocentrism, cloned a species of cattle called banteng, and it was twice the size of a normal banteng when it was born.  

“The extremely high rate of death, and the risk of developmental abnormalities from cloning makes cloning people unethical,” Lanza said.

Despite the risks, humans will likely be cloned someday, but Catholic Priest Father Saunders refers to the end result of that process as “soulless replicas of human beings.”  

Human cloning disregards the prevailing conviction that we are more than the sum of our biological functions. It overlooks that part of us we know as the human spirit or soul, and fails to account for what humans can accomplish through ambition, love, determination, faith and willpower.

One of the best films of the nineties was Gattaca, the story of a future society where someone’s station in life is determined by manipulating the genes in a fetus. The tagline for the movie is an astute comment on human cloning: 
“There is no gene for the human spirit.”  

June 23, 2013

Learning to Forgive

During our recent Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration, our granddaughter, Jamie and I discussed the need to forgive those who offend us. When she returned to her home in Williamsburg, Virginia, Jamie forwarded this quote by Norman Vincent Peale apropos of our conversation:
Resentment or grudges do no harm to the person against whom you hold   these feelings but every day and every night of your life, they are eating at you. 
In the Gospel of Matthew, Peter asks Jesus how many times we should forgive someone who offended us, “As many as seven?” And Jesus answers, “I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven.”

These are the words of the Great Physician, a Mighty Counselor, who understood that forgiving someone’s offense against us relieves the emotional pain we experience when we are bitter and resentful.

But what if that bitterness and resentment is directed to God? For example, in times of tragedy, adversity and injustice, we sometimes blame God for our pain and disappointments.   

In her new book Conflict-Free Living, Joyce Meyer, charismatic Christian author and speaker, suggests that blaming God is a trap that Satan sets for us:
“God is not the trouble maker __the devil is. It is the world, the flesh and the devil that give us trouble __ not God.”
God doesn’t need forgiveness but If you are bitter toward Him, a condition Meyer refers to as a “spiritual roadblock,” release yourself from your resentment and forgive Him.

Relieve yourself of unnecessary pain and bitterness. Release unwanted hurts and ill will. Learn to forgive.  

June 17, 2013

Family Love

I recently learned on Facebook that Kelsey Rainey, a distant relative, received high marks and praise for her school science fair project. I sent a note to Kelsey’s Dad saying, “Please tell Kelsey that her first cousin twice removed [that’s me] says that’s “awesome.” It was an opportunity to remind Kelsey she is part of an extended family. 

On Saturday, June 15, 2013, Nancy and I celebrated our Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary with all of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren plus their spouses, in-laws, boyfriends and significant others. The festivities reminded everyone present that he or she is part of our extended family.

On joyful occasions, family members gather to show their love for each other, and in times of grief and sorrow, family members lean on the promises of God, but also find great strength in each other. Family is where people learn that they are part of a circle of life which gives them stability and a sense of permanence.

Dr. Frank Harrington, former pastor of the Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, said this about family:
“Family is the place where children learn honesty, truth, responsibility, right and wrong, about God and our relationship with God, how we relate in love to the members of the family, to our siblings and to our parents and grandparents.”
We may not all be privileged to know our first cousin twice removed, but let us give thanks to God for caring families whose love and faithfulness help sustain us and give us a sense of who we are.

June 6, 2013

Happily Married for Sixty Years

Most family members and many friends know that Nancy and I had a first date in 1947 when we were juniors at Gettysburg High School. Nancy invited me to go with her to a party, and according to her diary, I said, "Sure."  

Nancy's 1948 diary suggests limited interaction between us until February 27 at the Teen Canteen in Gettysburg. We danced together three times that evening, until Nancy prepared to leave with friends. Before she disappeared, I asked her to dance again, and on that Enchanted Evening, I fell in love with the woman I would marry five years later.  

Here are just a few reasons our sixty year marriage has succeeded. We are:
  • Polite - Courteous, never sarcastic, never rude; 
  • Sincere -  Candid and truthful, no silent treatment ever; 
  • Considerate - Respectful of each other’s needs; 
  • Patient - Accepting each other’s habits and idiosyncrasies;
  • Compatible - Well suited, love the same activities; 
  • Forgiving - Always prepared to forgive and forget; 
  • Spiritual - Devoted to our church and our God;
  • Committed - Forever faithful to each other.
When Nancy and I exchanged our high school graduation pictures in 1949, she wrote on hers, "I'm always happiest when I am with you." That simple emotion is so meaningful, because it expresses what we both still feel about being together.

A line from a song called After All These Years, may best describe our love today. You can listen to the entire song on the link below the phrase:

      "You’re still the only one, I'll ever hold near,
        And I still love you after all these years."

June 3, 2013

What Motivates You?

A seminary professor asked her students to write a sermon, and when the assignment was completed, one of the class members received a D for his effort. A note on the document indicated the message was creative, but the title lacked appeal.

The student was given twenty-four hours to come up with a better title. The professor said, “imagine a bus load of people have stopped in front of your church, and when they see the sermon title on the bulletin board, what will motivate them to get off the bus and run into your church?”

The student’s grade was changed when he offered his new title which read, “There’s a bomb on your bus.”

Fear, ambition, money, pride, revenge and the thrill of competition may motivate some people at one time or another, but, friends, I suggest the greatest motivator of all is love.

Author Joe Vitle says, “People will scale mountains with luggage on their backs, swim upstream in a hurricane and battle armies and all odds to fulfill that hard-wired emotion in us to love and be loved. Love rules.”

It is certain that love rules in Christian living, and those who love the Lord reach out to minister, support and sustain others in need, all in a spirit of service and a desire to make a difference.

What is it that motivates you?