One of the big items on my summer reading list was Rick Stedman’s new book, “31 Surprising Reasons to Believe in God.” I first met Rick while planting a church from scratch back in Nor. Cal from 2004 to 2009 and found him to be a humble and brilliant man of faith who truly loves people. God worked through Rick to plant one of the greatest churches in the Sacramento area which has blessed countless people across the globe. In 31 Reasons, Dr. Stedman systematically moves through various issues such as beauty, yearning for a better world, science, physics, philosophy, and a hopeful eternity which when looked at in detail all give us glimpses into the Divine.
I remember reading about Johannes Kepler in High School and know he was a smarter man than me. But of course that’s not hard to imagine especially when it comes to math and science. But I came across his name again while studying for my sermon this week. Indeed, Kepler was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer. You may not know this, but he was also a serious minded man of faith and follower of Christ. While Kepler was credited in discovering new planetary movements and even today has departments of NASA named after him, he also gave serious effort to finding of the Star mentioned in Matthew 2:2. This was the Star that led the Biblical Wiseman to Bethlehem on their search for the birth of Jesus. Like Galileo, Newton, and other brilliant scientist of old, Kepler didn’t take the path of many modern scientist who choose to reason away the divine. He didn’t hold that science explains away God; but rather that science was just another tool to explore the magnitude of God and figure out this great creation of God we call the cosmos.
This may surprise you, but Neil Armstrong and I actually have a lot in common. Well ok; maybe not a lot. But we do have some similarities. I like to tell people that I was born the year that the US landed on the moon. In fact my birthday was March 17th 1969 just a few months before Armstrong’s historic first step. Obviously Armstrong liked to fly and he actually earned his flight certificate even before he had his driver’s license. I can’t claim that kind of accolade, but I still love to fly. Even though I’m in my early 40s I still try to stick my head into the cockpit to look around every time I board a plane. Neil became an Eagle Scout in 1947. I entered the ranks of the Eagle Scouts in 1985.
But I think the real connection that I have with Armstrong is that we are both men who believe in a God who created the universe. The news media has said very little about this and honestly it may just be because Armstrong worked very hard to stay away from the camera and the public eye. But Armstrong acknowledged the existence of God and what many people are not aware of is that both he and Aldrin took communion with each other before leaving the Apollo lem module and stepping out onto the lunar surface on that historic day.
We can and should learn much from this humble leader in American History. We should learn from his example of hard work and dedication. We should learn from his example of exploration and visionary spirit. But I also believe a huge lesson for us today is to remember that God and science are not opposed to one another.