This post is dedicated to my Mother-in- law Mother Ella Mae Rutherford (Collins) (1925-2008) This 83 year old Saint took me in when I was homeless and fed me when I had nothing to eat. Best part of all she let me marry her daughter and prayed until God gave us two of her grandchildren. May the Lord forever bless the memory of Mother Ella Mae.
In the recent and highly anticipated CNN documentary "Black In America" the condition of the black community was discussed from various perspectives through community and family representatives. The bottom line seems to be roughly about 50%.
This means that about 50% of all homicides, new AIDS cases, and crime are committed by persons who identify themselves as black. This is especially alarming since black individuals only represent roughly 35% or less of America’s total population and in certain segments such as black men only (13%) and black women only (19%) of population figures the problems are disproportionately high.
The truths that "Black In America" exposes are nothing new to those of us who have examined the condition of our community and continue to pray and address issues that are damaging our communities and seemingly exploding in our faces. Here is an excerpt from my soon to be released book "Ministering Effectively" regarding the same issue:
"According to statistics compiled in 1999, 69% of all African-American children are born out of wedlock. This is in comparison to a rate of approximately 33% for all American families in the same year. This quite naturally sheds light on the fact that the majority of African-American children are being raised either by single-women, grandparents or in foster care. Other information released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in early 2008 shows that Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) were most rampant in the African American community especially among youth’s ages 16-25. African-American women accounted for more than half of the new HIV infections annually. The four most infectious diseases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and HIV, were all led in numbers by the African-American community, and African-American women were the target and highest group of new infections when broken down by numbers. Even syphilis, which was once thought to be stamped out is currently in resurgence and the leading group is once again the African-American individual.
According to the 2008 Guttmacher Institute report, African-American women make up about 19 percent of all US women, however the figures demonstrate that African-American women account for approximately 35 percent of all annual abortions." ~ Pastor Harvey Burnett "Ministering Effectively" (Dunamis Publishing 2008) Introduction pg. ii
Now, one thing I am interested in hearing addressed is the relationship of AIDS, and fatherlessness to homosexuality. If Black women have such a high rate of STD's (this is partially because women are more likely to seek immediate medical attention for unknown changes to their bodies) then there must be a pool of individuals from which these diseases and especially AIDS are being contracted. AIDS and HIV are acquired, which means that there are some interactions with already infected individuals that cause the spread and proliferation of the disease. There seems to be an effort to make AIDS a heterosexual disease when the fact remains that the homosexual community yet remains the place from which this disease has had it's exposure to the heterosexual community. Will the church community during this special acknowledge homosexuality as a SIN or merely a societal ill? This remains to be seen.
"There is an attack of epidemic proportions on young black men. Both personal and moral failures and a complete social breakdown has filled the prison system with an overwhelming amount of black men. According to the Justice Policy Institute, a Washington-based research and advocacy group that supports alternatives to incarceration, as of 1997 Black men under any type of correctional supervision
were 2,149,900 representing 9% of the total African American population as compared to white men totaling 3,429,000 or 2% of white population in the US.. The study found that in 2000 there were 791,600 black men in jail or prison and 603,032 enrolled in colleges or universities. By contrast, the study said that in 1980 there were 143,000 black men in jail or prison but 463,700 enrolled in colleges or universities. The study did not directly address why the number of black men in jail and prison climbed so quickly. Some experts suggested as one explanation a rise in the number of black men serving time for drug offenses. But Justice Department figures show that from 1990 to 2000, 50 percent of the growth in inmate populations at state prisons was for violent crimes, and that only 20 percent was for drug crimes. African American men are roughly 13% of American total population but almost 50% of the nations total prison population In New Mexico, for example, 30 percent of young black men, aged 20-35, are in prison (or, less commonly, in a secure mental institution). That is an extreme case, but there are 32 states with more than one in ten young black men in prison, and ten states where one in six young black men are behind bars" ~ Pastor Harvey Burnett "Ministering Effectively" (Dunamis Publishing 2008) Introduction pg. iii
When we have preachers going to jail at rates comparative to the world and rank sinner, that is not a good sign. I have taught and continue to teach that in many cases our communities are a mere reflection of the church condition. One comment by earring wearing, Bishop T.D. Jakes aired Wed. July 23rd was that our realities are many times dissimilar to our ideals. That the church preaches ideals of what should be, but must deal with the reality of what is. On first brush I say, OK, that sounds like an accurate account of our condition. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary & Thesaurus 2006 ideals are a standard of excellence or those things regarded as a model worthy of imitation or a goal.
When I reviewed Jake’s comment analytically, the assessment of the WORD of God as a mere "ideal" just didn’t feel comfortable. Why? Because it makes no allowance for the power of God or the supernatural change that can and must occur within individuals and our communities.
I Cor. 1:23-24 ~ "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
Rom. 1:16-18 ~ "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;"
The WORD of God was and is the power to bring change. This change was to be efficacious. The church and ministry is not merely about "ideals" "values" and "goals" it is about the transformation of lives through the Power Of God. That power is not devoid of ideals or idealistic paradigms but is not centered on those things. I believe that this is why the fulcrum of American problems lay at the door of the black church and in the bosom of the black community. We have preached and taught "ideals" and have not cause the people to enter into the true power of God through repentance and turning from sin.
I believe that the following scripture typifies Bishop Jake’s and far too many ministers regarding the issue,
2 Tim. 3:1-5 ~" This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
Although the CNN special was not a religious show, it was unavoidable to discuss this topic without consulting religious leaders. As I watched, I began to wonder do our "Christian leaders" believe that God can change the condition of our communities?
In my article on Antisupernaturalism and Miracles, I discuss the effort of the metaphysical naturalist to remove the supernatural from life and living, therefore removing God from all rational conversation and discovery. Naturalism does not account for the supernatural and therefore cannot be evidential or scientific as it claims because it refuses to consider all available evidences. The deception is that religious leaders have also fallen from this line and make no or very little allowance for the "Power Of God" in their lives, communities or ministries.
Many of my atheist friends, who read this blog from time to time, have made a correct observation by questioning why they should follow a God that cannot provide evidence of HIS presence through the changed lives, behaviors and actions of the people who claim to be his. In other words, if God is real, then why aren’t we changed?
This is an indictment of the modern and powerless church. We can argue concepts of "free-will" and discover that man truly is a "free-will" agent and has certain controls over his own destiny quite convincingly, but the true question is what are we as the church actually doing to help our community through the lives that we live, and how are the community and people changed as a result of the Power Of God through us? What is at question is our consistency of living not the abundance of things we do or services we offer.
We have more ministries today than ever before and seemingly everybody is called to preach. For example, we have male and female Apostles, Bishops, and Pastors, not to mention Evangelists, but yet our communities are weaker than water. We’ve got larger buildings, but a weaker message. A louder and more diverse message and low morality. We have a message of inclusion that engages the homosexual, child molester, drug dealer and murder without ever leading them to the altar of repentance and purging. We present the "ideal" of salvation and a better life in Christ as an escape from current conditions, but where is the "power" that effects change?
Look At The Scripture
In Mk.11: 11-15 We find an inclusio of the barren fig tree which was representative of Israel, God’s people. Here we observe Jesus entering Jerusalem 2 times. The first time was to observe (v.11) and the second time was to scourge (v.15) In between this inclusio, there appeared a barren fig tree, as if it should have something to offer both Jesus and the disciples that were with him, but there was "nothing but leaves" Jesus then curses the fig tree commanding that it will never yield fruit again. (v.14)
The temple was active. The individuals were buying and selling sacrifices and other items to be used for the remission of sins. When Jesus got there he found the equivalent of "nothing but leaves" and consequently condemned the actions of the people and beat the "money changers" out. In what appears to be another and prior incident in which Jesus did the same thing at a prior Passover celebration, in John 2:12-21 Jesus asked the people to contrast the temple to his body, both of which were to be destroyed, but only one raised. This challenge was fulfilled in AD 70, and until this day, only one temple was raised and that was the temple of the Body of Jesus.
Huge buildings and dynamic ministry programs, TV and radio outreach does not the Power Of God make. These things by themselves do not facilitate God’s power. If that were the case we would have no problem within our community in evangelizing the lost and turning these atrocious conditions around. Yet an abundance of social and moral problems exist and to speak against such seems to be out of vogue as too many ministers merely want to be perceived good by the public and stand with politicians for popularity and gain.
The Call To The Church
I believe that the greatest call to the church today is to REPENT and serve the Lord with purity of heart.
2 Chron. 7:14-15~ "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place"
I believe when we truly repent as a whole for making a muck of truth, morality and absolutes our communities would be ripe for and experience the change necessary to turn these situations around. The time is now for turning back to God. Barack Obama (Now President) claims that he wants to "tear down walls" and calls himself a "fellow citizen of the world" so that the world can be unified and bring a new and more clear vision to humanity. Unfortunately many of the walls he wants to tear down include walls of righteousness and the church of God.
Lord please let the reader help spread this message of repentance before it is too late.
In the words of Mother Ella Mae, "Now them people know they just need to get right and get saved, cause they crazy."
Amen Momma Ella and again I say amen.