Friday, June 24, 2011

Senior: Sammy Ramsey

The first time I saw Sammy Ramsey, he was wearing a flashy Christian hoodie sweatshirt, his hat was stylishly cocked to the side and he was wearing sunglasses indoors.  I’m pretty sure he had some kind of chain with a  Christian emblem on it, but most memorable for sure was his huge and shining “JESUS” belt buckle.  He was up front at our Real Life meeting singing with the praise band and looking like one fly Jesus loving dude!   

Sam is actually an amazing singer –he’s sung at the Apollo theater, and even tried out to be a guest actor on the t.v. show Glee.  In a few weeks he'll be trying out for American Idol!  With his help, we’ve been able to incorporate black gospel music into our Real Life praise sets.   

Over the years Sammy has served faithfully as a leader in our ministry.  Sam lead musically, but he’s also a gifted communicator, with a great mind as well.  Sam loves God first and foremost, but he also has an incredible passion for science.  He studied entomology and his excitement for  bugs is literally out of this world.  (That's a millipede on his face!!!) 

God has been at work so faithfully throughout all of his life and it was always fun and edifying to hang out and talk with him –his life has truly been an adventure full of great stories and amazing occurrences!  Before Sammy was born, doctors told his mother that she wouldn’t be able to have kids.  I can’t remember all the details, but I do remember that despite the diagnosis, she decided to trust God and pray for children.  In time she had three, Sam has an older brother and an older sister.   Sam went to school in one of the worst high schools in America near Washington D.C.  and yet his love of science motivated him to excel academically.  One year he got to go to England to present  some research (on bugs) at London University, as well as Cambridge and Oxford.    

But science wasn’t always kind to Sam Ramsey.  In high school the foundations of his worldview were rocked by the teachings of Charles Darwin.  Sam loved science –and Charles Darwin’s ideas form much of the bedrock of current scientific theory.   To love science these days usually means you assent fully to all the major tenets of ‘Darwinism’.  But that presented a very personal –as well as spiritual- conflict.    

Did you know that the full title of Darwin’s most famous book is not simply “The Origin of the Species?”  The first thru fifth editions of his books were titled more fully On the origin of the species by the means of natural selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”   In it he says, “one of the strongest evidences for my theory is the existence of living 'primitive races'”. Throughout Darwin’s writing it is implicitly suggested as well as overtly stated that blacks (as well as other indigenous people) are inferior to white people.  One famous part in Darwin’s The Descent of Man says
“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world.  At the same time the anthropomorphous (human-like) apes….will no doubt be exterminated.  The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jack Critiques Alan Jackson

On our way out to Wildwood, NJ the other day (for our summer project) we were listening to the radio; Country music as usual.  The Alan Jackson song "Where I come From" came on and Stephanie and I were talking.  I like the song and I've heard it often, but I wasn't listening intently to it when my son Jack yelled from the back seat -"Is this song based on lies?"  

I wasn't too sure in the moment what he was talking about.   Thinking about verse two I said "Well, I think he's just talking about some good food bud."  
But then the Chorus came on again, I turned it up and I knew exactly what he was referring to.  Here's how it goes:

I said where I come from
It's cornbread and chicken
Where I come from a lotta front porch sittin'
Where I come from tryin' to make a livin'
And workin' hard to get to heaven
Where I come from

I asked leadingly "What was the lie that you heard in there bud?"  And Jack proceeded to expound the theological truth that we don't work hard to get to heaven.  Salvation is free -a gift from God because he loves us.  "God doesn't love you because you work hard" he said.  And then I asked my boys "So why does God love us?"  And Joe shouted with passion and authority "For no apparent reason."  

Amen my sons.  Sorry Alan Jackson -bad theology! 
We've been talking about Grace a lot in our home and how God saves us not because we are "good" or because we "earn it" or because we are "better than anybody else" or because we are religious, or because of anything that we do, but simply because of his loving kindness -which we totally don't deserve. 

Ephesians 2:8,9 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Titus 3:3-7 3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.