Friday, October 30, 2009

Grammy Winning Singer Readies ‘Soulful Christmas’ DVD and Holiday TV Special

Closing out a remarkable year in music, Ann Nesby , the two-time Grammy award winning former lead vocalist to the Sounds of Blackness readies the release of her latest musical offering ‘Ann Nesby's a Soulful Christmas' for the 2009 holiday season.

Soulful Christmas' released on Ann Nesby's It's Time Child Records in association with Tyscot Records follows her acclaimed The Lula Lee Project album which debuted at #13 on Billboard's Top Gospel album chart and #57 respectively on the R&B chart this year.

Spending the summer promoting The Lula Lee Project , she taped ‘Soulful Christmas' with a live band at the Gospel Music Channel studios in Atlanta in front of a live studio audience.

“I wanted to be used by God to help them usher in the masses into the holiday season,” says Ann Nesby who excitingly marks this as her first ever Christmas show collection.

Soulful Christmas' highlights a few of the most noted holiday anthems sung only as Ann Nesby could deliver - “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child” leads the musical montage setting the tone for cheerful yuletide, the classically melodic “Silent Night ” finds an appropriate spot on this Christmas set, to her holiday staple from the Sounds of Blackness, “Soul Holiday,” featuring Grammy award winning songwriter/singer Big Jim Wright, musical director of the new hit BET late night talk show the Mo'Nique Show.

Read the rest here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Soulful alum set on captivating listeners

Some students on the doorsteps of graduation may struggle with their future plans, but Temple alum and R&B singer Rafiya has not been one of those people.

Rafiya has managed to do several things in her young life, traveling the world at an early age, graduating from Temple with honors, teaching at a New Jersey High School and recording her upcoming EP, on which she sings in several different languages.

As the daughter of a Congolese diplomat, her father’s occupation allowed the now 26-year-old, who was born in Los Angeles, to travel to such places as Benin, Senegal and Cape Verde, to name a few, spending approximately three years in each country.

The experience of living in several different places has also affected her musically in terms of the instrumentation and arrangements on her EP.

The four songs on the EP, which is set to be released Nov. 17, were recorded in Philadelphia, New York and Paris. The EP features the recently released single “Amazing.”

Rafiya described her music as diverse and said it shows who she is as a person.

You can read the rest of story by clicking here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

News: African American Group Attempts to promote marriage

Group holds a conference to promote Black Marriage.  Click here to watch the video trailer!  You can learn more by visiting their website at

Sunday, July 26, 2009

PK Takes on Secular Music in Gospel

PJ Morton
PJ Morton won't be the first preacher's kid to sing secular music, and he isn't likely to be the last!

Unlike those before him who were ostracized and condemned by traditional churchgoers and religious radicals for singing non-sacred sounds, Morton has decided to educate churchgoers rather than rebelling against them.

The 28-year-old singer, who is the son of renowned pastors Bishop Paul S. Morton (Changing a Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church in Atlanta) and Dr. Debra B. Morton (Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans), has written a new book called 'Why Can't I Sing About Love?' that dispels the myth that all Christian singers must record and perform gospel music.

"I hope that the book causes people to see how big God is and that His affects reach far beyond the church and church music," he explained. "Also, I want people to realize that if we believe that the Bible is truly God's word, we can't overlook certain parts, specifically the book of love songs in the Bible. He created those as well."

Click to read.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How To Stop Sinning

Most Christians realize that they shouldn’t sin. So they try their best to live a good and moral life and not to live a life of sin. But as we will see from the bible, that way of living life is exhausting and ineffective and never brings true freedom from sin and its grip on our lives.

In a familiar scripture describing the problem we have with living a life free of sin, Paul said this, “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out. For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.” (Rom. 7:18-19 Amplified Bible)

Man! What a problem. We have the power to want to do good but we do not have the power within ourselves (that is our own flesh and our own trying) to do so. So because of this problem, God made a spiritual way of life for us so that we can obtain his power to do good. And that way of life is called "living by faith." But like anything else, we have to know what it means and how it works for it to ever help us. Knowing what it means to "live by faith" and then doing it is what will make the difference between a life of struggling with sin or a life of freedom from it.

Now most Christians know that we can never live a good enough life to gain eternal life. They know that in order to attain eternal life we must accept Jesus as our savior. But what they don’t always know is how to live a life of righteousness after they have accepted the Lord. So they simply try and try to do so in their own strength, but like Paul said, that is impossible. The things we want to do we have no power to do. It is the things that we don't want to do that we will end up doing. What then is solution?

Paul later described the solution when he said, “This I say then, walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…” (Gal. 3:16)

"Walking in the spirit" is the solution and is simply another way of saying "living by faith." When we learn what that means and live that way, it will enable us to live a life free of sin. Like Paul said, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh!

Let's explain this a little. The Christian “walk” is no different than how we became Christians. It is by FAITH and not by WORKS of our own. In salvation, there was nothing we could do ourselves to gain eternal life and in exactly the same way there is nothing we can do ourselves to live a righteous life even after we accept the Lord. The key to living a righteous life after we have accepted the Lord is to believe, not to do, just like we needed to believe to become “saved.” If we do that, it will then be what we choose to believe that will empower us to do.

The bible says that a man becomes what he thinks in his heart “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Pr. 23:7) It is what we believe and think in our hearts that we will become and what we will do. It will not be by trying harder that we can accomplish anything. Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” (Mt. 15:19) That is where all sin originates and that is where all righteous living originates. It is in the heart.

Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom 12:1-2) What Paul is commanding here is for us to live free of sin and then he tells us how to do so. And it is NOT by trying harder that we are told to live a holy life. We are told that it is by renewing our mind. It is how we think and what we believe that will transform us and enable us to do those things that we are suppose to do. This is a fight of faith, not of works. It is an inner fight. It is about what we choose to think and to believe, not how hard we try to live right.

But what is it that we are supposed to believe? And how is it that believing will enable us to live a righteous life?

It's quite easy so let’s take one example from the bible to see how this works. The bible says that we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom. 8:37) Now in order to be and live like we are more than conquerors we must believe that we are more than conquerors, not try to be more than a conqueror. Trying to be more than a conqueror just won’t work. It is believing what the bible says about us that will transform us into the very thing that it says about us... "For as a man thinks in is heart, so is he." (Pr. 23:7) And in this case, it is believing that we are more than conquerors. This faith in God's word will then transform us into that which we believe... being more than a conqueror.

The key to this kind of faith is to believe what the bible says about us despite what we see in ourselves or think about ourselves. You see, when the bible says that we are more than conquerors, it is talking about the new inner spiritual man that was created within us when we accepted Christ as our savior. When we accepted Christ as our savior a real change took place. But that change was on the inside of us. Our spiritual man on the inside of us was changed into the very likeness of Jesus himself. (And Jesus is definitely more than a conqueror). It is in believing what the bible tells us about our new inner man that will bring that new man into our outer behavioral lives. It’s not a matter of trying harder. It is a matter of what we believe and how we think about ourselves. It is a fight of FAITH, not a fight of WORKS.

Our faith in God’s word will transform us and bring what is inside to the outside. Then and only then will we be able to easily live the life of Christ.

In the case of living free of sin, we must believe that we are already free of sin to be free of it. Ha! Think about it. The bible says that we are the “righteousness of God in him.” (2Cor. 5:21) If this is so, (and it is) we know that the righteousness of God never sins. So if we believe that we are the righteousness of God, the word of God will begin to transform us into that very thing making it easier and easier to live righteously and free of sin. Get it? It’s easy to understand, but it is an effort to begin thinking that way. In fact it will be a fight. It will be the "good fight of faith" that Paul commanded us to live. (1Tim. 6:12) And it is the only way to live free of any weaknesses or sin. Trying harder will only be a constant struggle with something we cannot do nor change and will NEVER transform us.

Probably we have all heard about the benefits of thinking positively and indeed it is very powerful, but when we think according to the Word of God it becomes supernatural power with the ability to literally transform our lives.

This does not mean that we should not "try" to live a good life. That would be ridiculous. We should always do what we can do. What it does mean however is that the real battle and the real victory (or loss) will take place within us, by how we think and what we believe. And it is this battle that we should always focus on. Thus we should always be developing our faith and transforming our lives by believing what the Word of God says about us rather than just trying and trying in our own strength to live up to its standards. Then, in time, living a good life will become more and more natural and more and more automatic. It will then be that the Word of God will be transforming us and empowering us to naturally do good works rather than trying in our own strength.

It always pays to remember the words of Jesus when he said, “It is the spirit that quickens (gives life); the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (Jn. 6:63 parentheshis mine) It is the word of God that has the power; it is not ourselves. And it is our faith in what the word of God says about us that will enable us to live a consistent life of righteousness... for it is "not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts." (Zech. 4:6)

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Getting to Know Dr Jeremiah Wright

Rather than letting Fox News sound bites define Jeremiah Wright for you, take a look at his bio.

Life, Love and Legacy

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. is a man of faith, a homiletic genius, a theological scholar and a pastor’s pastor. He is a family man who enjoys spending quality time with his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends.

Steeped in Family Tradition and Educational Achievements

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Wright is a son of the parsonage and hails from a family steeped in educational achievements. A third generation family member to matriculate at Virginia Union University, Dr. Wright followed in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, Dr. Hamilton Martin Henderson who graduated from Virginia Union with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the late 1800s and finished seminary at Virginia Union in 1902. His father, Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr., also graduated from Virginia Union with two undergraduate degrees and from the seminary with a Master of Divinity degree in 1938. The senior Wright also received a Master of Sacred Theology degree (S.T.M.) from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

Dr. Wright’s mother, Dr. Mary Henderson Wright, also graduated from Virginia Union and earned her first master’s degree before age 19 from the University of Chicago. She also earned a second master’s degree and her doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Foundational Strengths

With four earned degrees, a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Howard University, a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from the United Theological Seminary, Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. grew up in a home where reading books was a daily way of life. Wright read a wide range of sources from the Greek philosophers and Shakespeare to African American authors such as Carter G. Woodson (the Father of African American History) to Sterling Brown (one of the Harlem Renaissance artists), as well as one of Dr. Wright’s college professors.

Click to read more about Jeremiah Wright

Monday, June 8, 2009

New Book: Obama Marriage was Not Always Christ-Like

Barack and Michelle Obama's marriage was on the brink of collapse say's book

President Barack Obama whispers into First Lady Michelle Obama's ear during the White House Cinco de Mayo celebration this year Photo: PETE SOUZA/THE WHITE HOUSE

Their regular Friday "date nights" make the television news, and there was a stir recently when they caught Air Force One for a night at the theatre in Manhattan.

This weekend, in the aftermath of the D-Day celebrations, they are in Paris with their young daughters - having turned down an invitation for dinner with President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla in favour of a more intimate family event.


Click to read.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Should Black Pastors Get out into the community?

As a college professor, I have regularly challenged black scholars to step outside the walls of the ivory tower to engage the black community. Sometimes, the purity of our chosen profession can lead us to feel that sharing our skill set with the world dilutes the quality of our work. I do not agree. Intelligence means nothing if it is not accompanied by courage, creativity and compassion for other human beings.

The same can be said about spirituality. Jesus was not a man who stayed inside the walls of his church, selfishly enjoying the spirit of God. He did not get so obsessed with the bureaucracy and goals of the church that he forgot about the infinite power that God provides when achieving a greater good. While many pastors yell and scream from the pulpit, some have forgotten that old expression, "What would Jesus do?"

Pastor Adepoju Oyemade brings such a spirit to the people of Nigeria and they love him for doing so.

I met "Pastor Poju" during a recent trip to Nigeria. I was immediately impressed with the manner by which the pastor has utilized recent freedoms in the country to take God to the people. But he has not only taken God to the people, he has used the power of free enterprise to introduce them to a whole new world. His semi-annual event, called "The Platform," is one of the most celebrated events in the entire country. The pastor brings together 20,000 citizens of Lagos, Nigeria and teaches them the value of entrepreneurship and tools for running a successful business. His work in the community earns him respect, and it is the kind of work that should be used as an economic development model for black pastors and business owners throughout the world.

Q: Tell us about "The Platform." Where did the idea come from and what gave you the passion to pursue it?

Continue reading Dr Boyce: Should Black Pastors Stay inside the Church?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"New Testament" Obedience

Many people believe that in order to please God and to be in good standing with him that they need to be obedient to his law of commandments. But the bible teaches that this is impossible and trying to do so brings a curse on our lives. Do you mean that if we try to keep God’s laws in order to please him that we will be cursed? Yes, as irrational as that sounds listen to this…

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Gal. 3:10)

This is saying that if we try to please God by keeping his commandments that we must keep every single commandment completely and we must do it at all times. In other words, we must be perfect in our behavior. This of course is impossible to do. So if we base our right standing with God on keeping his law we will fail and bring a curse upon our lives.

Paul also said this about our ability to keep God’s law…

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwells no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Rom. 7:17-18)

Paul found that even though he wanted to keep God’s law and tried to do so, he couldn’t do it because of the weakness of his flesh. In fact, when he tried to do good, he would always do just the opposite. Have you ever experienced that problem? Consider if you tell yourself that you are NOT going to eat that last piece of cake. Whew! What a fight THAT can be. That piece of cake will even seem to “talk” to you every time you walk by it! Well, the bible says this... “the strength of sin is the law.” (1Cor. 15:56) It’s not that eating that piece of cake is sin but once you make a law against it, you’ve just strengthened its grip on you to eat it. And that is the way it is with all law. Law actually strengthens the grip that sin has on you. It cannot help you. It will only make matters worse.

But you see; this is why Jesus came. He came to keep the law for us and to please God for us so that in him we could be as pleasing and as acceptable to God as he is. However, in order to enjoy this blessing that Jesus came to bring us, we must exercise our faith. First we must accept Jesus as our savior and after we have done that, as Christians we must believe that what Jesus did was enough to please God for us! That means that if we have accepted Christ as our savior, we must believe that we are always pleasing to God and in right standing with him despite our shortcomings and our sins. We can never base pleasing God on our own lives. This is the only way to have peace and rest in God because in ourselves and in our own trying we can never keep all of the law.

Most Christians understand that in order to gain right standing with God they must do it by faith and so they accept Jesus as their savior. But after that, they live their Christian lives in fear of not being good enough and they try to please God and maintain a good standing with him by keeping his laws. But because it was not our own goodness that earned a right standing with God in the first place, it will not be our own goodness that will be able to maintain it. It just can't be done. It is only our faith in Christ that can do that.

Keeping the law is “Old Testament” obedience and is impossible to do. Believing that we are already good enough through our faith in Christ is “New Testament” obedience and the only way to please God. (Heb. 11:6)

The Old Testament was given to show man what he was required to DO to be right with God. The New Testament was given to show man what he was required to BELIEVE to be right with God. It is the difference between a life of “works” and a life of “faith.” It is a difference between a life of exhausting “trying” and a life of “resting” in the Lord.

And our lives are not to be lives of endlessly and impossibly trying to be good enough to please God. Our lives are to be lives of rest and peace believing that we are already pleasing to God because of Jesus. It took me a long time to learn that. But I finally learned it. I used to get up each morning determined to be the best Christian that I could be. But that was instant failure and was followed by a day filled with anxious trying and a constant struggle with guilt for not always doing “good enough.” But now I get up each morning believing that I’m already the best Christian I need to be. (Jesus made me that way). And I go through my day believing that all the time (despite my shortcomings) and I am at peace and rest with God all the time. That’s a whole lot better way of life believe me. And it works! I have learned that it is my faith that pleases God and not my good works.

If you think about it for a moment, we can conclude that the fastest way to DISPLEASE God is to "try" to please him. That just doesn’t seem right but it is. It is accepting Jesus as our substitute in all things that pleases God! We are called to live by faith, not by works or by trying harder. And thank God for that!

Now this does not mean that it is ok to live any way we want. Sin is always destructive. It can hurt us and it can hurt those around us. Sin brings a sense of guilt and condemnation and sometimes a whole lot of trouble. And that certainly is not God’s will. But we are not called to live righteously in order to be righteous. We are called to live righteously because we are already righteous. It is worth remembering that good works do not produce righteousness. It is righteousness that produces good works. (Rom. 12:1-2, 2Cor. 5:21)

So… if you are a Christian and are trying to please God; JUST STOP IT!

Ha…! I know that doesn’t sound right. But it is. You cannot please God in the flesh. Instead you should be trusting that because of Jesus you are already as pleasing to God as you will ever be! And that means NOW and it means at ALL times. What Jesus did was good enough for now and for all time. Wow! What a great way to live… by faith. It’s a whole lot easier and the only way to be truly at peace with God.

The bible says (in no fewer that FOUR places) that, “The just shall live by faith.” (Hab. 2:4, Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:38) Do you think that God is trying to tell us something?

So if you want life and peace and the blessing of God, living by faith is the ONLY way to do it! It is the “New Testament” way of obedience, not the “Old Testament" way. Old Testament obedience was to DO. New Testament obedience is to BELIEVE (and to rest).

"There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into (God's) rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his." (Heb. 4:9-10 parenthesis mine)

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Rom. 8:28)

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Black Gospel News: Black Woman Becomes a Rabbi

When Alysa Stanton officially becomes a rabbi next month, she'll be walking into history.

Alysa Stanton, 45, will become the first African-American woman to be ordained as a rabbi next month.

Alysa Stanton, 45, will become the first African-American woman to be ordained as a rabbi next month.

She'll become the first African-American woman ever to be ordained as a rabbi and the first African-American rabbi to lead a majority white congregation, according to the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Stanton, 45, will be ordained June 6 in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she received her master's degree from the HUC-JIR, which is the rabbinical school of the Reform movement. Then in August, she will begin her new job at Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville, North Carolina -- long a Conservative synagogue and now affiliated with both the Reform and Conservative movements.

She describes her new position with great enthusiasm, saying the congregation -- while small -- has a lot of children, a sign of a bright future. And she says the congregation is vibrant and the region, where East Carolina University and a major medical center are located, is dynamic as well.

"My goals as a rabbi are to break down barriers, build bridges and provide hope," Stanton told CNN. "I look forward to being the spiritual leader of an inclusive sacred community that welcomes and engages all."

The HUC says the milestone reflects the diversity that permeates Jewish life.

Click to read.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where's My Blessing Lord?

Most Christians have a tendency of feeling guilty and condemned whenever they sin or make mistakes or think they fall short of God's standards. In fact, there can often be a looming sense that things will go badly for us when we sin; and that the more we fall short the worse we expect it to be. It is an expectation of punishment.

But in Christianity, it is not like that. If we have accepted Jesus as our savior, we can expect blessings not cursing, even when we sin, and even when we sin again.

Of course it is not sinning that brings the blessing; it is the fact that Jesus has already paid the price for our sin that we can expect blessings. And we can expect them no matter what our sin is or how often we commit it. That is called grace. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote, “…where sin increased, grace increased all the more…” (Rom. 5:20 NIV) That’s right, the bible says that the more sin there is, the more grace there is to forgive it and to still bless us. I know that just doesn’t sound right. We would naturally expect more and more punishment the more we sin, but we are not dealing with a natural God. With God, the more we sin, the more grace there is to bless us. Wow! That is an amazing truth.

This may sound then that because of these facts that it’s ok to go on sinning. After all, the more we sin, the more grace there is to forgive us. But that's certainly not the case. God’s grace is simply there when we need it. It was Paul again who said this, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid." (Rom. 6:1-2) God forbids sin, no matter what, but he does not forbid it because he is offended or angry or because it creates a rift in our relationship. The reason that God does not want us to sin is because of the guilt and condemnation that we can suffer and that I spoke of at the beginning of this article. When we feel guilty and condemned because of our sin, we expect punishment from God, not blessing. It makes it extremely difficult to realize that God loves us, has forgiven us through Christ, and wants to bless us despite our sin. However, that is the truth and that is what I want to convey in this message.

We are never judged by God according to what we do. If we were judged by what we do (or don’t do) we would always be guilty and we would always be worthy of punishment. That is because we can never live up to God’s standard of perfection. There was only one human being that ever lived up to God’s standard and that was Jesus. That is why that it is only through our faith in him that we can have a right standing with God and be worthy of his blessing. And that truth will prevail despite all of our sin.

The thing that I would like to get across here is that the more we sin, the more we should look for and expect blessings from God, not punishment. If we do that, we will open our hearts and lives for God's grace and mercy and consequently his blessings. If we don’t do that, we will shut ourselves off from the blessings of God. And though it may be inadvertant, that would be a lack of faith in what Jesus did for us and would sink our blessing ship so to speak. So, despite the "natural" tendency to feel guilty and condemned when we sin, instead we should look for the blessings of God to overtake us.

Consider saying this to God when you sin; “Lord I messed up again, so where’s is my blessing?”

I said that in a funny way on purpose, but it is meaningful and true none the less. I made it sound as if we are looking for a blessing because of our sin, but it is really looking for a blessing despite our sin. It is having faith in what Christ did for us rather than having fear because of what we may have done. And that kind of faith is the only way to please God. You will never do it by trying to be good enough. The book of Hebrews says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him..." (Heb. 11:6) And if we take that step of faith, (expecting to be blessed despite our sin) we indeed will be blessed… It will be done unto us according to our FAITH. The alternative of doing this is to entertain guilt and fear. And if we are afraid of punishment because of our shortcomings and believe that God will not bless us because we did not live up to his standard; well, the bible says that we will be under a curse. We will NOT be blessed. Instead, we will be cursed. The book of Galatians says this, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (Gal. 3:10-11)

We must always remember that God’s only standard of living is his Son and it is only through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus that we can live up to that standard. And we must also realize that if we have accepted Jesus as our savior, we have done all we need to do, (indeed all that we can do) to please God and to be worthy of ALL of God’s richest blessings despite any amount of “short-comings” or sin.

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Your Black News: New York Pastor Gets $600K Pay Package

Reverend Brad Braxton.

Dr Boyce Watkins

I read today about the financial compensation package of pastor Brad Braxton of the New Riverside Church in Manhattan.  Here is the breakdown of Braxton’s compensation:

  • $250,000 in salary.
  • $11,500 monthly housing allowance.
  • Private school tuition for his child.
  • A full-time maid.
  • Entertainment, travel and "professional development" allowances.
  • Pension and life insurance benefits.
  • An equity allowance for Braxton to save up to buy a home.
  • On top of that, Braxton immediately hired a new second in command at more than $300,000 a year.

    The total value of the package is estimated to be $600,000 per year. 

    All I can say is “wow”.  No disrespect to this man or his congregation, but he would NOT be preaching at my church.  What was most problematic about the church’s decision to give Braxton such a ridiculous compensation package was that they didn’t seem to clear it with the membership, many of whom are filing suit over Braxton’s pay. As a Finance Professor, I must admit that I personally become uncomfortable hearing men and women of God talking about money more than I do.  I must disagree with Rev. TD Jakes, who said that “Jesus is a product”.  Sorry brother, Nikes are a product.  Cheeseburgers are a product.  Jesus is a spirit that should lead us to pursue a good that is greater than our bank accounts.  I am not sure how many pastors agree with that assessment. 

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Black Celebrity News: BET’s Gospel Show to Get Cancelled

    Jorel Quinn & Angel Taylor

    BET’s 106 and Gospel has been officially canceled.  But please tell me this:  Why in the “hayell” would you air a gospel show at 12 noon on Sundays?  Aren’t people in church at that time?

    I swear…..some people can’t get a damn clue without the intervention of the Lord.

    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    The Power To Do Good

    The bible says that “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” (Jas. 3:2 NIV)

    That is something; being able to keep our whole body in check simply by saying the right things! The hidden idea here is that if we have a problem with our behavior or have bad habits, it is because of what we have been saying. I know that might not sound possible but as we will see, the bible teaches that our “doing” is inextricably connected with what we say and that if we can tame our tongue, we can tame our whole body.

    The amplified bible makes it even clearer than that. It says this… “And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and curb his entire nature." (Jas. 3:2 Amplified Bible) That’s amazing… curb our entire nature!

    The book of James explains that our tongue is like a rudder of a ship. It says that even though ships are so big they are turned and directed by a very small helm; even in great storms. (Jas. 3:4) And that is exactly how our tongues are. What we say is what we will do. I guess that is clear enough, but what does it mean and how does it work? We will get to that shortly, but first let’s consider a problem that James brings up in his book. After telling us that if we tame our tongue we can tame our whole body; he then tells us that no man can tame the tongue. (Jas. 3:8) How fair is that? Well, it is true what he is saying but the man he is talking about that cannot tame the tongue is a natural man, one who tries in his own "natural" strength and in his own "trying" to tame his or her tongue. That just won’t work. We must learn how to tap into God’s supernatural power to tame our tongues. The reason for this is that the bible says there is no good thing in our flesh; that is our natural man; leaving us with no power to do the things we want. Have you ever tried keeping a New Year’s Resolution? That should give you an indication of the power we have to do the things we want… like about none! Paul said this about himself, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Rom. 7:18-19) He was making it clear to us from personal experience that even though we might know the right thing to do and want to do them, there is no power in ourselves to accomplish them. Even the very best of people with the best of motives do not have the power within themselves to do good. That is why the world is like it is. We just don’t have the power within ourselves to do good no matter how hard we try! We need God and his power and that includes for the taming of our tongues.

    I know that there is a more to this than meets the eye. As I mentioned, no natural man can tame the tongue; we must become spiritual men and women. So first there is the issue of accepting Jesus as personal savior and having the spirit of God dwelling in us; thus I will consider this problem of our tongue as Christians; those of us who have accepted Jesus as our savior.

    What then is the solution to taming our tongues so we can tame our behavior? Well, it is really quite simple. Jesus said that it is “out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” It is those things that we believe and think and have in abundance in our heart that we will say and it is those things that we say that will steer our life. Jesus went on to say, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things. And an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” (Mt. 12:34-35) It is what is in our heart in abundance that we will say and it is what we say that we will do. Listen further to the Lord when he said this, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” (Mt. 15:18-19)

    This then makes it clear how to live the Christian life and it is really simple. It has nothing to do with being determined or trying harder; it has everything to do with what we believe and have in abundance in our heart. If we believe in our heart what God says and fill our heart with an abundance of his WORD it will transform and empower and direct our lives. That is where the power is. In short, if we think like God, (believing and being filled with his word) we will talk and act like God. And that is a good thing. (Rom. 12:1-2)

    So, how do we fill our hearts with God’s word? Well, it will not entirely be through our own bible reading and study. In fact, if that is all we do, it will not work for us. That is because that is not the way God made the body of Christ to grow and to develop. In the book of Ephesians we read that Jesus gave gifts unto men (and women). These gifts are gifts of ministry. It reads like this… “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:” (Eph. 4:11-13)

    Without submitting to the “five-fold” ministry gifts, we will never develop as we should. But we must be very discerning about the ministries that we submit ourselves to. Many ministries; in fact, I think most ministries (though they may be well meaning) teach the religion of men, and men don’t always think like God thinks. You can be as well meaning as you can but if you misunderstand the bible and rather teach what you think it says, you will not have the results the bible promises. The problem is that the religion of men often sounds biblical. That is why so many teach and listen to it and try to live it. Like I just said however, a good indicator that a ministry teaches the Word of God is that the word taught will bring results, being confirmed by God with consistent miracles, signs and wonders. God always confirms his word with signs following. (Mk. 16:20) The key is to find a ministry that consistently has the kind of results in prayer that Jesus had and to learn the word from them. Listening to them on a regular basis will help you get supernatural results in your life and will also help you to recognize the difference between God’s word and the religion of men. That will be the key to supernatural power working in your life instead of your own natural power which religion is always based on. Remember, we have no power within ourselves to please God. We must learn how to tap into God’s power to do those good things that God wants us to do and to have all the blessing that God wants us to have. Hosea said that, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” (Hos. 4:6) That should make it clear why sometimes our Christian lives are a struggle and do not have biblical results... We may think we understand God's word, but if we do not have the results the bible promises, there is a problem.

    I’ll leave you with a short list of ministers that I have found helpful in the goal of filling our hearts with God’s word AND that will help clarify the difference between the word of God and the religion of men… Andrew Wommack, Bill Winston, Joseph Prince, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Joel Osteen, Fred Price, Charles Capps, and Leroy Thompson. I am sure there are others, but I am most confident these. Listening to the teachings of these ministries in abundance (along with our own bible study) will go a long way in the process of filling our hearts with God’s word and keeping that word flowing out of our mouths. And this is the only way to tame our tongues and thus keep our whole body in check. Trying hard to live right will just not work. We need the power of God’s word to do that! (Rom. 7:14-25, Jas. 3:1-4)

    Submitted by John B. Agati
    Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

    More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at:

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Is Celibacy the Right Answer for Priests?

    With relative certainty it can be said that 90 to 93% of Roman Catholic priests in the United States do not get sexually involved with minors. The discrepancy between those numbers and the report of the Bishops' Commission (4% priest abusers) can be reconciled and justified if one accounts for the under reporting of victims and perpetrators plus the reports from well monitored areas like Boston and New Hampshire where the figures of abusers runs over 7 and 8%. Many religious communities sustain a population of abusers at 10%. Where the safety of children is concerned it is necessary to give a wide berth rather than restrictive estimate to the dangers they face.

    Of course sexual activity of any adult with a minor is criminal. In addition it is clearly a violation of celibacy that is expected of Catholic priests. To pretend that sex with minors is the only or even the most frequent violation of celibacy by Catholic priests and bishops is a fiction of the fifth magnitude.

    I have never disputed the power of the ideal of celibacy—the complete and unflinching sacrifice of one's sexual life for the undivided service of others.

    Nor have I ever advanced or advocated the argument that simply discarding the rule of mandatory celibacy will make priests more sexually responsible or mature.

    The crisis of celibacy is far more complex than any change in law alone can remedy. But celibacy is undeniably a problem for priests.

    To understand the problem of clerical celibacy and to debate cogently it is only right to seek what is known about how celibacy is practiced by those who profess it. And a great deal is already known.

    A study of Swiss priests published on May 12, 2003, revealed that 50% of that clergy had mistresses. Father Victor Kotze, a South African sociologist conducted a survey of the priests in his country (1991) and found that 45% had been sexually active during the previous two year period.

    Pepe Rodriguez published his book length study of the sexual life of clergy in Spain (La Vida sexual del Clero 1995). He concluded that among practicing priests 95% masturbate; 7% are sexually involved with minors and 26% have "attachments to minors;" 60% have sexual relations, 20% have homosexual relations.


    Click to read.

    Back News: lGospel Singer Bebe Winans Assault Charge

    BeBe Winans attends a post show reception for "The Color Purple" at the Broadway Theatre, in New York.

    Grammy-winning gospel singer Benjamin (BeBe) Winans has been charged with misdemeanor domestic assault after a dispute with his ex-wife in Nashville.

    An arrest warrant filed Wednesday said 46-r-old Winans got into an argument with his ex-wife, Debra, aboutyea their children at her home.

    "He pushed me to the ground in front of my children," Debra Winans told CNN.


    Click to read.


    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Black News: Fewer Americans Calling Themselves Christian

    America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found.

    Survey finds percentage of of Americans identifying themselves as Christian has fallen over two decades.

    Survey finds percentage of of Americans identifying themselves as Christian has fallen over two decades.

    Seventy-five percent of Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1990, the figure was 86 percent.

    William Donohue, president of the Catholic League said he thinks a radical shift towards individualism over the last quarter-century has a lot to do it.

    "The three most dreaded words are thou shalt not," he told Lou Dobbs. "Notice they are not atheists -- they are saying I don't want to be told what to do with my life."

    At the same time there has been an increase in the number of people expressing no religious affiliation.

    The survey also found that "born-again" or "evangelical" Christianity is on the rise, while the percentage who belong to "mainline" congregations such as the Episcopal or Lutheran churches has fallen.

    Click to read.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009

    What is the Black Church?


    By Rev. Nicholas A. Pearce

    Though often portrayed as a singular, monolithic entity, many scholars debate whether “the Black Church” truly exists. While the distinctive differences that have so long divided predominantly African-American Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, and non-denominational churches are apparent, a potentially pernicious predicament currently demands our attention. While many people focus on the differences that exist among denominations and local churches, our attention must turn to one critical challenge we face within many of our churches. Young people are always labeled “The Church of Tomorrow,” which suggests two things: (1) that their spiritual gifts, leadership, and contributions are less meaningful, insignificant, and/or invalid at present and (2) the presupposition that tomorrow is promised. As countless young people leave the Church and still others sit restlessly in the pews waiting for a tomorrow deferred to finally arrive, the question we must confront is clear – when is “tomorrow” today?

    The situation looks much like a track relay race. Our parents in the ministry were passed the baton of the Word of God by their parents and find themselves running the race of leadership as the next generation prepares in anticipation of receiving the baton in the exchange zone. Our forerunners in the ministry generally fall into one of three typological categories as they approach the exchange zone. (1) Some of our parents finish strong and cleanly pass on the baton to the next generation to run the next leg of the race. (2) Others of our parents, hearing the acclamation of the cheering crowd, decide to run an extra lap and skip the waiting generation in the exchange zone. Other racers with fresh legs soon pass by as these overzealous individuals run out of energy and solemnly realize that the baton was meant to be passed to the next generation. The overlooked and disenfranchised next generation ponders their befallen state and searches for other constructive outlets for their energy and talent that was intended to be expended in the race. (3) Still others of our parents approach the exchange zone with timidity, fearing that they will slowly fade out of the picture as they relinquish possession of the baton to a seemingly untested new generation. The combination of the outgoing generation’s insecure ambivalence to let go and the waiting generation’s consequent loss of self-assurance, the baton exchange is botched. No matter how well the previous lap had been run, no matter how talented the next runner may have been, the baton was dropped; the race was lost.

    Does the Church have the luxury of leaving its young people and their gifts in a perpetual holding pattern, never to land? Can the Church afford to continue to mistakenly equate seniority with maturity as young people are prepared yet overlooked in the exchange zone? Will the Apostle Paul’s 1 Corinthians 12 treatise on unity in the body of Christ and the importance of each member thereof extend to a generation waiting to lead? Even a cursory glance at the state of the “Black Church” reveals an institution wrestling with its identity, struggling with being attractive while remaining authentic and grappling with the challenges and realities of a new day. Will an intensifying focus on devising better methods instead of making better men and women for the Kingdom of God cause the 21st century Black Church to institutionally marginalize itself? God forbid – but let us earnestly wait for the day when tomorrow becomes today and the next generation carries forward the baton of leadership.

    Rev. Nicholas A. Pearce serves as Associate Minister of the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL and is a doctoral candidate at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. Contact:

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    Madea Wins in Hollywood

    If anybody had a reason to doubt whether Tyler Perry has become one of the most bankable brands in all of movies, be skeptical no longer.

    'Madea Goes to Jail' wins big at the box office

    The domestic dramedy maestro's latest release, Tyler Perry's "Madea Goes to Jail," ran away with a big victory on the typically slow Academy Awards weekend, grossing a hefty $41.1 million, according to early estimates from Media by Numbers.

    That opening sum is the biggest of all time for a Tyler Perry film, besting the $30 million debut of 2006's "Madea's Family Reunion." Too, it's the top bow in the history of indie studio Lionsgate, improving upon all the Tyler Perry and "Saw" flicks that came before it. The movie's per-theater average of $20,236 ranks in the top 40 for all wide openers ever.

    And, no surprise, "Madea Goes to Jail" achieved all this success with a solid A CinemaScore grade from a crowd that included mostly older women. Video Watch Tyler Perry talk about his success »

    Second place went to "Taken," which added another $11.4 million to its four-week tally, bringing said total to $95.2 million. Fellow strong holdover "Coraline" (No. 3) was next with $11 million.

    "He's Just Not That Into You" (No. 4) declined a sharp 56 percent to bank $8.5 million on its third weekend. And Best Picture favorite "Slumdog Millionaire" rounded out the top five with $8.1 million -- a sum that brings its domestic total to $98 million.

    Click to read.

    Saturday, February 21, 2009

    Christian Nutshells

    Christian Nutshells are short sayings that sum up specific bible truths and concepts. They are bible truths in a “nutshell.” They are accompanied with scripture references for confirmation and further study and are food for thought and seeds to be planted in our lives. Here are a few. Hope you enjoy them…


    The message of Christianity is about what God has done for man, not what man must do for God. (Jn. 3:16, 1Jn. 4:10)

    Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. (Mt. 8:16-17, 1Pet. 2:24)

    We conform to God’s will by accepting Jesus as savior… it is not by any good works of our own. (Rom. 3:28, Eph. 2: 8-9)

    It is impossible to please God except through faith. (Heb. 11:6)

    The New Testament calls us to believe not to do. (It will be our believing that will empower us to do). (Rom. 12:2-3)

    Trying harder will get you no-where with God; accepting Jesus as savior will. (Rom. 7:18-19, 8:8-10, Heb. 4:9-11)

    God is not pleased with us because we live such a good life. He is pleased with us because we have accepted his Son. (Gal. 2:16)

    God’s law was never meant to make us right with God. It was meant to prove to us that we couldn’t keep it and to lead us to Christ who could. (Gal. 3:24)

    This is the work of God; that you believe on him whom he has sent. (Jn. 6:29)

    Submitted by John B. Agati
    Author of : “Suffering, (God’s Will?)”

    More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009


    Here’s “one” for you. I mean here’s one for you to think about…

    Before Jesus went to the cross, he prayed this prayer,

    “Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching,
    That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us…” (Jn. 17:20-21)

    Jesus prayed that those who believe in him would be one with him and with each other. And this prayer is continually being answered whenever anyone accepts Jesus as their savior. Whenever anyone accepts Jesus as their savior they become “one” with the Lord.

    What I would like to do in this article is to help us understand the meaning of this “oneness” with the Lord and to help us grasp its really huge significance it has in our lives.

    The best way I know how to describe the meaning of being “one” with the Lord is to use an illustration. The illustration I will use is of our own physical body. Our physical body is made up of many thousands of different parts, each being an individual part with its own name and its own function. Yet each and every part is “one” with our body. That is the way it is with those who believe in the Lord. There are many thousands of us, each being an individual with our own name and function, but each of us is “one” with Jesus and a very real part of his “body.” That is why we are called the “body of Christ.” Each one of us has our own individuality and purpose, yet we are as “one” with the Lord as my finger is “one” with me. Wow!

    Granted, this is a spiritual relationship, but our relationship with God is one of faith (and is just as real as a natural relationship)! It is believing what God says about us, (even if we don’t fully understand it) that will influence every area of our lives.

    Remember, spiritual concepts are not understood with the head, but with the heart, and if we choose to believe (or at least to be open-minded) about what God’s word says, his word “will” become a reality to us and it “will” be effective in our lives. That is how faith works. It brings things that are spiritual into the natural. So think about it; being one with Jesus as he is one with the Father? Whew! And consider the things that Jesus could do because was one with the Father. Now consider ourselves doing the same because of our relationship with God. This is the only way that we can do the “works” of Christ; being one with both the Father and the Son!

    Yes, being one with Jesus is the only way that we can be “Christ-like.” And it is the only way we can do the works of Christ. There is nothing in ourselves that will enable us to do either. It is only being in him and being a part of him that we can truly be Christ-like and do his works. And we are so much a part of Christ that Paul could say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, But Christ lives in me…” (Gal. 2:20)

    Looking at this in a more dynamic way Paul is saying here is that when we accept Jesus as our savior, we are so much a part of him that when he was punished and died, we were punished and died also, and when he rose again from the dead as a new man, we rose again as a new man also, and even when he ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the father, we ascended with him. This may seem hard to imagine but it is well documented and explained throughout the writings of Paul. But whether or not we understand how this can be, if we can be open minded, (and spiritually minded) about this, the results it will bring in our lives will be astounding. (Rom. 6:3-5)

    Listen to this; in the book of Ephesians, Paul said that God has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” “Far above all principality, and power and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come.” (Eph. 2:6; 1:21) Wow! I told you that the bible says that we rose and ascended with Jesus. This is our spiritual heritage AND our spiritual position. This is where we get our authority and our power to live and act and be like Christ! And it is all because we are “one” with him.

    We are as much a part of Jesus as Jesus is with himself! It is called being "one" with the Lord. Wow!

    I told you this was one to think about.

    But let’s put this on a simpler level. If we are one with Jesus, is Jesus ever sick? Does he ever lack anything? Is Jesus loved and cherished by the Father and will the Father do those things that Jesus asks him to do? Is Jesus righteous and holy and wise and powerful and protected? I'm sure we all know the answers to these questions. Well, if we are one with the Lord, all of these benefits and all of the benefits that you can think of from being "one" with the Lord are ours too. It is endlessly extensive and it is very powerful!

    We are not only “in” Christ, but we are part of him and he is part of us. We and God are ONE. Whew again! No longer do we just carry our own name, but we carry his name too. And he carries ours! (And don’t worry about being good enough for him to carry our name because having accepted Jesus; God has made us good enough). (2Cor. 5:21)

    When Jesus died and rose again he made all of this possible for us. It is in the “new birth,” (when we accepted Christ as savior) that we were made “one” with him. We became part of him, being spiritually changed into his likeness and taking on the characteristics and the power that he has. There is no need to “try” to be one with God or to “try” to get any closer to him. We are one with him already and as close to him as we’ll ever be. Where we go, he goes and where we are he is.

    The thing is, that in order for anything in the bible to become effective for us, we must first believe it! God has left that up to us. So our part in all of this is to believe what God has said about our "oneness" with him. And after considering all of this, hopefully you can begin to realize all of the possible benefits that this can produce in our lives if we do! (1Jn. 4:17)

    Submitted by John B. Agati
    Author of : “Suffering, (God’s Will?)”

    More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    What Would Jesus Say about Black Men Living on the Downlow?

    By Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

    Recently, New York Knick’s basketball player, Eddy Curry, a married father of several kids, received notice of a sexual-harassment lawsuit by his former limo driver, Kuchinsky. Kuchinsky is alleging that Curry tried to solicit gay sexual activity from him while working as a 24/7 chauffer for the NBA hoop star and his family.[1] With the national press coverage of this story, I am reminded of the movie,Cover, which explored the current situation that appears to be facing many black families. Cover is a film about a devoted, churchgoing wife, and mother whose faith is shattered when she discovers that her husband is living a secret double life.[2] Also, there is a 30-minute internet movie, Results, which tackles the same type of betrayal and shows how the couple tackles it in the span of one night.[3] So, as it relates to married men who happen to cheat on their spouse on thedown low, I ask, what’s love got to do with it? I understand the question is paying tribute to the hit single by Tina Turner. However, I think people should explore the reasons why married men choose to cheat on the down low and should a wife, who takes a vow of fidelity with her husband, continue in the relationship after discovering the betrayal.

    People might ask why a lawyer would write an article on a social topic such as married men who cheat on the down low. Well, a lawyer is considered an attorney and counselor at law. When a wife chooses to get a divorce due to infidelity from their husbands cheating on the down low, it is important for lawyers to understand the origin of the relationship and what caused the heartache to their client so that they can effectively provide legal advice and counseling for their client. In a majority of states, infidelity is just one factor in how marital property is divided between former married couples. Even though a wife might want her husband, who cheated on the down low, to get nothing and pay dearly for the betrayal, the courts in a majority of states will not find fault (e.g. infidelity) a determining factor in the division of marital property. Therefore, it behooves the lawyer to try other methods of counseling to explain the law to jilted married clients.

    This article will analyze the meaning of love, the reasons why people get married, and what actions people should take to minimize the potential of being married to men who cheat on the down low.

    Meaning of Love

    Love has many meanings. Webster dictionary defines Love as a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (e.g. maternal love for a child).[4] Also, love is an attraction based on sexual desires (e.g. affection and tenderness felt by lovers).[5] Love is also an affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests (e.g. love for old schoolmates).[6] Also, love is a warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion (e.g. love of the sea).[7] Love can also be used as a term of endearment.[8] Love is also the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.[9] Love is a sexual embrace.[10] In all, love embraces a form that is erotic, romantic, familial, platonic, and religious.

    Similar to Webster dictionary, Christianity embraces four forms of love: Agapē, Philia, Eros, and Storge.[11] Agapē means charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional.[12] It is parental love seen as creating goodness in the world.[13] It is the way God is seen to love humanity and it is seen as the kind of love that Christians aspire to have for others.[14] Philia is defined as the human response to something that is found to be delightful.[15] Also, it is known as "brotherly love".[16] Eros is defined as sexual love.[17] Storge is defined as the needy child-to-parent love.[18]

    One thing that is fascinating is the explanation of what Eros is. Eros is a very passionate love, with sensual desire and longing.[19] In the classical world, the phenomenon of love was generally understood as a kind of madness or, as the Greeks put it, theia mania ("madness from the gods").[20] This love passion is best illustrated by a scheme involving “love arrows” or “love darts.”[21] The source of the arrows is said to be the image of the beautiful love object itself.[22] If the arrows arrive at the lover’s eyes, they would then travel to and ‘pierce’ and ‘wound’ his or her heart and overwhelm him/her with desire and longing.[23] This creates an image of an “arrow’s wound” where an oxymoron of pleasure and pain is created.[24]

    As illustrated above, love has different meanings. Saying “I love you” to a person can mean a variety of things. The issue for married couples who are dealing with husbands who cheat on the down low isnot whether they love their wives. The issue is what type of love does husbands who cheat on the down low have for their wives. In my opinion, this is the heart of the conflict that exists between married couples who have husbands who cheat on the down low. Next, it is important to understand why people marry.

    Why People Marry

    Marriage is a social, religious, spiritual or legal union of individuals.[25] People marry for many reasons, but usually they marry for one or more of the following reasons:[26]
    · legal, social, and economic stability;
    · the formation of a family unit;
    · procreation and the education and nurturing of children;
    · legitimizing sexual relations;
    · public declaration of love; or
    · to obtain citizenship

    In almost all Protestant forms of Christianity, they hold marriage to be ordained by God for the union between a man and a woman.[27]They see the primary purpose of this union to be to glorify God by demonstrating his love to the world.[28] Other secondary purposes of marriage include intimate companionship, rearing children and mutual support for both husband and wife to fulfill their life callings.[29]

    Like love, people marry for a variety of reasons. What is extremely interesting is that when protestant Christians marry their primary purpose is for the union to glorify God. One example of the betrayal for protestant Christians is when married men cheat on the down low. This action is not one that glorifies God especially when the bible states that men (or women) who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God.[30] So, the conflict exists and men and women need to be aware of who their partners are before entering into marriage.

    The Reality of the Conflict of Down Low Activity with Marriage

    Some married men who cheat on the down low believe that down low activity is similar when men cheat with other women. I beg to differ. As these movies illustrate, a woman cannot compete with a man sexually. Women and men are not equal in physical form. Men and women have different sexual features and different purposes of use for these features. I equate the differences between men and women similar to placing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. Do like parts unite or do opposite pieces fit together?

    If a married man cheats on the down low, they have a sexual attraction for another man. Sorry ladies. Physically, there is nothing you can do, except do a sex change, to sexually fulfill a man who wants to sleep with other men. A married man might love his wife, but the sexual love a wife is craving from her husband does not exist the way she wants or believes it should exist especially if this type of infidelity occurs after the coupled exchanged wedding vows to be married. There are always signs of men who have a sexual attraction for another man. However, you have to open your eyes and find out who your spouse truly is before you enter into marriage.

    Attributes of Counseling Before Marriage

    One way to discover whether your significant partner is ready to be married is to participate in marriage counseling. In essence, you are treating your marriage as a long term investment and gathering as much information about your spouse before you enter into marriage. As illustrated above, love has many meanings and people marry for different reasons. Just because someone says “I love you” is not all you need to know to venture into marriage. What a man and woman need to find out from each other is what type of love exists and is it reciprocally felt. If your potential spouse only feels an admiration for you and you feel romantic love for that person, then you need to find this out before you venture into marriage and not get married to the person. Also, what are the reasons why the man and woman are getting married and is it reciprocal. If your potential spouse wants to get married to obtain citizenship and you want to get married public declaration of love, then you need to find this out before you venture into marriage and not get married to this person.

    Ideally, married couples expect their spouses to solely want them only. They believe their spouse will be the complement human being to help fulfill their needs mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. No one is perfect, but the union of a man and woman is expected to be one that works to perfection as seen in God’s light. When married men cheat on the down low, there is an erotic and sexual attraction for people of the same sex that their wife can’t fulfill. A potential spouse needs to know this before hand and not marry the individual especially if they seek their spouse to solely want them only.

    Effective marriage counseling will be able to discover the compatibility of the couple. Marriage counseling should emphasize substance over form. The counseling should explore the type of love that exists and if it is reciprocally felt. Also, marriage counseling should explore the reasons why each person wants to marry and whether it is reciprocal. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with doing an extensive background check on people before getting married. When you choose to marry someone, you are making a societal and private contract that this individual is someone you will honor and cherish, to have and to hold, until death do you part. With any type of long term investment, you need to know what you are getting into. This is not to say that marriages will not have problems, but if you choose someone to be married to you, you are making a long term investment in that individual expecting that the good will outweigh the bad. Know what you are getting into so you canminimize suffering betrayals like having married men cheat on the down low.

    Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about the law designed to keep readers informed of pertinent legal matters affecting the African-American community. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer in your specific location if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

    [5] Id.
    [6] Id.
    [7] Id.
    [8] Id.
    [9] Id.
    [10] Id.
    [12] Id.
    [13] Id.
    [14] Id.
    [15] Id.
    [16] Id.
    [17] Id.
    [18] Id.
    [20] Id.
    [21] Id.
    [22] Id.
    [23] Id.
    [24] Id.
    [26] Id.
    [28] Id.
    [29] Id.
    [30] 1 Corinthians 6:9

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    To Tithe Or Not To Tithe II

    In an article dated December 28, 2008 I wrote the first part of "To Tithe Or Not To Tithe?" In it I shared that tithing (donating 10% of our income to God’s work) is often taught as a biblical requirement. This teaching is based primarily on a portion of scripture from the book of Malachi, chapter 3, verses 8-12. Through Malachi, God challenges his people to “prove me now herewith, (by tithes and offerings) saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it…” (Mal. 3:10 parenthesis mine)

    The full measure of this portion of scripture says that if we don’t tithe, we are “robbing God,” and that there is a curse on us, and of course, God will not open the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing that there is not enough room to receive it.

    As I had said in that first article, the problem with this teaching is that this is an attempt by man to “earn” the blessing of God through his own self effort. Like all law, this law was given to men to prove to us that we cannot keep it to God’s standard of perfection and can never attain his blessings by trying to keep it. It is intended to lead us to Christ who kept the whole law for us; and it is through faith in him that we can obtain ALL the blessings that God has for us including this one promised through tithing. All of God’s blessings are free through Jesus.

    Attempting to “earn” God’s blessing through tithing is the same as trying to “earn” our salvation by doing enough good works. Neither is possible. The only way to receive either is through our faith in Christ.

    It was in Christ that was given to us ALL that God is and ALL that God has. The truth of the matter is that God already opened the windows of heaven and poured us out a blessing that we have not enough room to receive it when he gave us Jesus. This blessing of God, along with any other is already purchased for us and is ours when we accept Jesus as our savior.

    In order for you to get a larger picture of this whole idea, along with a New Testament understanding of the role of “giving” (as opposed to tithing), and its importance in our lives, I will refer you back to the 12/28/08 article.

    The reason that I am writing this follow up article is for those of you who decide to stop tithing. If you decide to do this as I have, it will take trusting that God has already given you the blessing that Malachi promised, and it will take believing that the blessing is ALREADY yours in Christ instead of trusting in tithing. And that may not be an easy thing, especially if you have thought for years that tithing was a requirement and that you may be bringing a curse upon yourself if you don’t. It posed a problem for me and may also for you. The problem I faced was one of feeling guilty and struggling with fear of breaking a law of God and of not being blessed. But if you think about it, it is that sense of guilt you may experience that should be a red flag indicating that you are indeed living under the law. Under grace, there is no guilt.

    Guilt and fear is the way the law keeps people bound to it. And yet, the law can never help us. We can never keep it well enough for it to do so. In fact I don’t know anyone who has received a blessing so large that they could not receive it, despite years of diligent tithing. On the contrary, most of those I know are still just getting by. And that is because this blessing cannot be earned by our own efforts anymore than salvation can be earned by our own efforts!

    So what do you do if you want to break free from the law? What you are going to have to do is to resist guilt and receive grace and freedom AND like I said, you will have to receive the blessing of God by FAITH. That means you must rely on Jesus and what he did for you, rather than on what you can do yourself. And if you think about it, that is a good thing. And that is why Paul calls this fight you're going to have to fight, the "good fight of faith." In this fight, you will need to trust God, not your tithing. Think about what scripture says; that it is through Christ that we are joint heirs, already inheriting with Jesus all that he inherited, and the bible says that he inherited all things. It also says that we are complete in him and that through him have been given all things that pertain unto life and godliness. We do not have to tithe to obtain these immense blessings. They are already ours and obtainable through faith. (Rom. 8:17, Col. 2:10, 2Pet. 1:3)

    Now, if you fight this fight, faith will begin to grow in your heart, you will find a new rest in the Lord and the blessing of total provision will begin to manifest itself in your life. After all, that is what Jesus purchased for us. And I can vouch for this because ever since I stopped tithing, (nearly seven years now) my finances have steadily grown and so has my peace with God. I give now according as I purpose in my heart, and as God impresses me to give, and in all cases, my giving (not my tithing) has become sweet and joyous and fulfilling. It is no longer under compulsion or law or of necessity that I give. It is true freedom. Guilt and fear still try to get into my life, but I don’t let them in. Instead, I let the “blessing” in and ALL else that Jesus has purchased for me. I know now that I do not have to fulfill ANY law to be blessed by God except the law of faith because all of the blessings of God are a free gift. I know now that I am not under the law. I am under grace. And as long as I live by faith, the blessing will continue to grow in my life even to the point of not being able to have room enough to receive it. And as my faith grows and my provision grows; so does my desire to give. That is how it works and it is FREEDOM! It is the goodness of God that leads us to any kind of repentance, not the law of God. (Rom. 2:4, 3:27, 6:14)

    What I could never accomplish by tithing or any other works of my own, Jesus accomplished for me. And it is through my faith in him that I attain ANY blessing from God and ANY ability to do good for him.

    It is now a much better life. In fact, it great. It is one of faith, not of works, it is one of rest and trust in God, not one of futile, tiring trying of my own, a life that was filled with guilt and fear when I didn’t “do enough,” (which was all of the time). And this way of life works. And it will work for anyone who lives it because it is the word of God and the word of God always works. It is our trying harder to please God and to fulfill his requirements that don’t work. (Gal. 3:10-14)

    It was a Psalmist who aptly wrote, “O taste and see that the Lord is good. BLESSED is the man who trusteth in him.” (Ps. 34:8)

    Submitted by John B. Agati
    Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

    More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.