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: