Category Archives: Books

5 Tips on Strengthening Your Marriage

Recently (not long after my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary), I was interviewed by Perspectives magazine (the official publication of Indiana Bible College) on the topic of strengthening marriage. There were five key areas in the interview:

IBC: Current research shows that divorce is at an all time high—about the same for Christians as non-Christians.  What does your church do proactively to strengthen marriages and families?

Joseph: Trying to keep proper focus on everything that needs attention is a bit like trying to keep 50 plates spinning atop 50 poles. Every church must needs have “a lot of irons in the fire.” At Christian Apostolic Church, we have a Marriage Ministry Dept, with an elected couple leading it. We schedule marriage retreats from time to time (Dr. David Norris and Sister Nancy Norris are tremendous at this; highly recommended) and other marriage events. We teach on marriage-related topics in Sunday School—both in the adult class for those already married, and preparatory lessons in the college & career class and high school-age class. Marriage topics often enter into preaching and teaching in other services besides Sunday School. To help families with their financial wisdom, we host a campus of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (highly recommended). We celebrate National Marriage Week annually, and basically do all we can to move forward in this vital area of understanding.

IBC: Do you recommend or require premarital counseling?  Do you do this yourself?

Joseph: Yes, I do premarital counseling, teaching from a curriculum I culled from various sources and corroborated with Scriptures. It takes quite a few hours to teach and usually requires three to four sessions to accomplish it. For first-time young couples planning to get married, I insist on it before agreeing to officiate their wedding. We have occasionally abbreviated or waived this for older folks who were entering into a biblically-allowable subsequent marriage.

IBC: In your opinion, what are the three or four most important elements for building a strong marriage?

Joseph: I would summarize these three as 1. Prayer, 2. Preparation, and 3. Priorities:

  1. Prayer: The most important element is to pray from your youth up for God’s help in preventing you from marrying the wrong person, and for His help in choosing the right mate. Then, don’t settle for anything less than God’s best choice for you. This means saying no when other people falter and say yes. Don’t even date someone who does not seem worthy as a potential marriage partner! One must prayerfully, carefully choose a mate for life only after securing a certain word from God that they are right for you. Caution must be used because while one is infatuated with a “love interest” it’s all too easy for our heart to deceptively fool us into thinking we’ve heard from God, when He has not spoken.
  2. Prepare yourself for marriage emotionally and financially. Avoid the “Hollywood” lies, myths, and stereotypes, and realize you won’t be able to change your partner’s annoying habits and hangups. Many old-timers assure us all that it’s a terrible mistake to think (before you marry) that you can change someone after the wedding. Work hard (by budgeting, and being frugal and careful) to make sure you go into your marriage debt-free, hating debt, and already having either a nest egg toward a downpayment for a home, or a plan already worked out for a home. Dave Ramsey recommends waiting for at least a year after marriage before buying your first home, just to give time to get settled into marriage and good money-management habits, and, as he puts it, to learn just how close to your in-laws you can afford to live! (Smile.)
  3. Prioritize by building your marriage on a solid, biblical foundation of commitment to God first, your partner second (as a higher priority than one’s children—that’s important), family third, and then church, work, and all else coming afterward. Keeping God number one is a foundation both partners should share in common. Making a marriage work without that is very tough.

IBC: What is the greatest enemy of marriage and families today?

Joseph: The Bible addresses each gender’s area of weakness. For example, while both genders are taught by the Scriptures to love, respect, and submit to each other, men, in particular, are told to “love your wives, even as Christ loved the church” (see Ephesians 5:22-33). This points to a weakness; often we men don’t love our spouses as we should. After we “get the prize” (having gotten her married to us), we often stop treating her with affection and tender love as we did while courting. Women crave emotional intimacy more than men. They really need that from us. Men, on the whole, ought to give more attention to doing better in this area.

Likewise women, in particular, are told to “respect and obey” their husbands  (again, see Ephesians 5:22-33). This points to an area of weakness. Many women don’t realize how powerful their words and treatment are in either building up their man, or tearing him down and destroying his sense of self-worth. And while women usually crave emotional intimacy more than physical intimacy, for guys it’s the other way around. We usually crave bedroom action and have need of it more often, while, regarding emotional intimacy, we’re like camels are with water. We can seemingly drink a little emotional intimacy and then go for years in the “desert” without any more. That’s no trouble for us men. In either case, where the man is not actively “loving” his wife, or the woman is not carefully “respecting and submitting” to her husband, there will be serious problems, often resulting in the destruction of the marriage. The final blow is often dealt by infidelity (either emotional or physical), but the underlying issue was there long before the infidelity began.

IBC: What book(s) (other than the Bible) do you recommend a couple read if they are struggling in their marriage?

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com

Joseph: Without a doubt, the book on this topic I’ve recommended more than any other, next to the Bible, is Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible by Jay E. Adams. It’s only a 100 pages long, but it’s so powerful because it points readers back to the Scriptures, giving them an in-depth, guided look into how very much the Bible has to say about these important areas. (In fact, I blogged about this very book recently.) The Word of God is powerful, and not only is it not silent about these topics, but it says much more than many people realize—even more than most preachers realize. This is a must read book. Get it. You won’t be sorry. Every preacher should have to read it, especially pastors.

Book Reviews > Perelandra > by C.S. Lewis

Lewis-CS-Perelandra-CoverBrilliant, as always, C.S. Lewis did a tremendous job in this novel, although Bible-believing Christians will notice frequently that Lewis went further out of his way than usual (seemingly) to force into this work both some of his “orthodox” (if unbiblical) “Christian” doctrines, and some of his “unorthodox” (and unbiblical) ideas such as a systematic theology that ponders (allows?) a fairly complete merger of pagan mythology (and extra-biblical writings in general) with various aspects of “the Christian tradition” in a combined sphere of thought. There is much wisdom and wit in the story that makes it worth tolerating some areas where the concepts are “off” biblically speaking.

Note: the following points are perhaps not major elements of the story, but at the least they are certainly themes found in the underlying backstory, and they are worth considering.

I’m a fan of Lewis, and thus I tend to try to tolerate those areas where his “Christian” ideas stretch far beyond what the Bible says or even allows, such as his view that certain personal beings created by the One True God are to be called “gods” (lower case ‘g’), some of whom God may have used as agents in getting aspects of the Creation, well, created. In this installment in his Space Trilogy, Lewis bluntly puts forth that an immortal, angelic being that is the “guardian” over Perelandra (the planet we call Venus) was actually the “personal being” who created the planet called Venus—a task that was accomplished under God’s instruction and at God’s bidding. Thus we’re to accept that if God created the cosmos “via” multiple lower beings, it is still God who should be credited as the Creator, even if someone else did the creating. This is a serious contradiction with what the Holy Scriptures teach about the One True God—He plainly stated He did all the creating “alone” and “by Himself.” (See Isaiah 44:24: “I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself….”)

Lewis’ overall scheme here, when taken to its logical conclusion, is that each of the planets in our star system was created by a different angelic being, with each of these angelic planet-creator-beings corresponding to one of the “gods” of Roman mythology. To wit: Malacandra (the planet we call Mars, which was the focus of book #1 in the trilogy) was thus presumably originally created by its own Oyarsa (a title of status that is a version of an ancient word essentially meaning “arch angel” or “boss angel”). In book #2, Lewis openly proposes the notion that the Oyarsa of Mars (ruler and guardian of that planet) is essentially the Roman “god of war” (called Mars in ancient Roman religion and myth), and likewise that the Oyarsa of Perelandra (ruler and guardian of the planet we know as Venus) is an angelic being who is the Roman “god of love” (called Venus in ancient Roman religion and myth). The correlations would continue with a creator-guardian-being that rules over Jupiter as being the personal creature whom the Romans worshipped as Jupiter. In such a fashion, Lewis simultaneously “slaps” the ancient Romans in the face for worshipping under-shepherds instead of the Great Shepherd, while also “validating” their religion as possibly having some basis in reality instead of being merely ideas invented “out of whole cloth.”

Furthermore, Lewis’ concept here is that the head devil of our world, also known as Satan, began as the Oyarsa over planet Earth (also known as Tellus), and later chose to rebel against God and became the “Bent Oyarsa.” (Satan is now pure evil, and his followers likewise are pure evil, but they were not always so.) Satan was once free to roam the “Deep Heavens” (interplanetary space), but after his sin he and his angelic followers have for a very long time been imprisoned on Earth, in order to keep the other planets safe from him. Parts of this seem biblically sound, but the Bible does not say (at any place, as far as we are aware) that Satan was once the ruler/guardian of Earth. In the Scriptures, the only angel who is called an archangel (“head angel” or “boss angel”) is Michael, who was summoned to make war with Lucifer after his sin and rebellion. Satan is described as having been cast down from heaven to Earth.

We then see (by putting two and two together to get four) the twist here is the notion (or hint?) by Lewis that our own world was actually created by Satan, while he was still a good Oyarsa, in obedience to God. Of course, the above-mentioned verse in Isaiah, taken on its face, nullifies all such notions. I don’t recall Lewis specifically stating the concept that Satan was supposedly the Oyarsa whom God used to create the planet Earth (Tellus), but all his hints point in that direction as his intended thought. Throughout the first and second titles in the series, Lewis paints a very strong tie between Satan (the “Bent Oyarsa”) and Tellus (Earth, the Silent Planet).

On the one hand, I don’t wish to put stronger Christians “off” from reading this book/series, as the wit and wisdom within are wonderful and there is much to be learned if someone is capable of “eating the meat while spitting out the bones.” On the other hand, whenever Lewis waxes into some of the underlying ideas he proposes here, it is safe to say that disclaimers are warranted. Any recommendation of such titles without a note of warning could be mistaken as support for all the notions contained within. This series is excellent overall, and this title is no exception. This installment’s dialogue of satanic deception, waged as spiritual warfare against the innocent, human First Mother on the island-world of Perelandra, and Dr. Ransom’s valiant battle to aid the woman against the demonic seduction, are “delicious” portions that are wonderful to provoke deep thought about all that really matters. Nevertheless, the above-mentioned concerns make it difficult for me to give a recommendation without some reservations regarding any “faint of heart” Christian who is easily confused about what he or she believes (essentially anyone who is not well grounded in what the Holy Scriptures teach).

Book Reviews > Out of the Silent Planet > by C.S. Lewis

Lewis-CS-Out-of-the-Silent-Planet-CoverWhile some may over-simplify the concept of “writing the zeitgeist,” there are more possibilities than merely portraying or capturing the spirit of one’s age (simple digestion and regurgitation). Reflecting upon or illustrating the prevailing attitudes (or spirit) of one’s day may well mean contradicting some or all of it, as in, finding fault with it.

C.S. Lewis certainly revealed what he perceived as the flaws of problematic attitudes of his day (although perhaps not “prevailing” as of yet), as he took to task the “bent” mindsets arising then and compelled his contemporary readership into needful contemplation while he corrected what he saw as crucial errors. In so doing, he preserved for modern readers (of many decades later) a glimpse into just what sorts of attitudes and issues were around way back then; the thought processes of that day, the questions, issues, debates, etc., are in various ways answered or addressed or at least mourned as they are somewhat memorialized in this well-written sci-fi. The degree to which Lewis accurately described “the sin problem” (which is persistent in any age of sin-cursed humans) is the degree to which the problems he described (and errors he challenged) transcend his day. In this regard, he nailed it. Thus the book has long outlasted his day’s zeitgeist.

The “science” of this fiction is in some ways so antiquated it seems absurd to modern readers, yet the skillful writing, wonderful wisdom, and timeless wit serve to make some now-inane sci-fi premises (e.g. of Mars, in book #1, and Venus, in book #2, being habitable places with atmospheres hospitable for humans) into mere trifles worth overlooking and easily overlooked. Outdated? In certain aspects, yes. Still worth reading? Absolutely.

Are you mistaken on the meaning of important biblical words?

Of all the words in the Bible, perhaps one of the most misunderstood in modern times is “adultery”—and if we had to list other misunderstood Bible words, “fornication” would probably rank right up there.

People in our modern society have a different meaning in mind for “adultery” than what the word meant to the Bible’s writers and to its original readers. Also, the meaning of “fornication” is pretty much just as “muddy” in modern minds as well.

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com

In an excellent book titled Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible author and scholar Jay E. Adams shows the original meanings of these words, and sheds light on Scripture verses that are often misunderstood because our modern meanings of the words don’t match the original ones.

The book is only 100 pages long, and well worth its weight in gold. Every Christian should read the book, and especially every minister and/or pastor should read it.

In biblical use and meaning, “fornication” refers to any and all sexual sins (not just “unmarried people having sex” – which is the modern misunderstanding of the term). “Fornication” refers to and includes all types of sexual sin: incest, rape, homosexual acts, lesbian acts, bestiality, any sex act by a person who is not married, and, of course, any sex act by a married person to/with someone other than their spouse.

Also, in biblical use and meaning, “adultery” refers to a sin against a marriage vow (that which violates it, or damages, undermines, or weakens it). Such sins can be “lighter” or “heavier” in the nature of the transgression. Jesus taught that a man simply looking with lust upon a woman who is not his wife, is committing a sin against the marriage vow – Jesus said that lust is adultery. He did not say it was “like” adultery. He said it is adultery. (See Matthew 5:27-28.) For a married person to even flirt suggestively with someone other than their spouse is an act of adultery. Even simply becoming emotionally entangled with someone of the opposite sex other than your spouse is a violation that undermines your vow.

There are many, many ways to sin against a marriage vow. Just to name a few: lying, abuse, abandonment, mind games, inciting jealousy, etc. You get the idea. There are lighter attacks and heavier attacks. However, of all the ways a person can sin against their wedding vow, the worst would be to include the sin of fornication (sexual sin) in the “cheating,” which is actually two sins: adultery by fornication. This is the worst kind of adultery. And it is the only kind that Jesus said could qualify as proper grounds for one believer to divorce another. To wit:

In Matthew 5:32, Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of _____________, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

If you recite this verse and ask someone to fill in the blank, most people will say “adultery.” But that is not what Jesus said! He said “fornication”!

“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

By our Lord requiring fornication as grounds, that means not just any act of adultery (such as lusting in the heart, or flirting with someone else, or inciting jealousy, or instances of dishonesty) warrants two believers severing their marriage vow. It has to be that worst kind. However, just because the lighter kinds of adultery are not grounds for divorce does not mean they are not wrong and harmful. Over time, repeated instances of the lighter violations of the marriage vow can slowly destroy a marriage relationship.

While we are at it, another misconception in modern society is that an unmarried person cannot commit adultery (since they are not married). That is simply not true. If an unmarried person has sexual relations with a married person, the unmarried person is sinning against the marriage vow of the other two people who are lawfully married to each other. Both the cheating spouse and the sexually involved unmarried person are committing two sins: adultery and fornication.

As you can imagine, the book contains much more than just these words explained. It is a wonderful resource about marriage and the complicated topics of divorce and remarriage, which are covered in Scripture in much greater detail than many people realize.

Again, I heartily recommend that you get and read this book!

PS: Below is a description of the book from Amazon.com:

“If the church is going to use the Bible to decide whether divorce is legitimate in certain cases and whether divorced couples have the right to remarry with the approval and blessing of God’s people, then the Bible must be studied without prejudice toward a particular answer. The author examines the relevant passages in both the Old and New Testaments so that his readers can consider the many issues and interpretations that arise in trying to establish a consistently biblical position. As a result, readers can see more clearly and accept more firmly the truth of Scripture. The book succeeds at being exactly what the author wanted it to be: ‘a comprehensive, lucid, accurate study presented in a readable and practical style. . . .’ It is a valuable resource for the pastor, counselor, church leader, and others who are struggling to understand and apply scriptural principles to the problems of divorce and remarriage.”

In Lieu of Flowers, God Gave Us a Miracle: The True-Life Story of Zach Sandy

Front cover of the book "In Lieu of Flowers, God Gave Us a Miracle"
Front Cover

We are pleased to announce that the new book about Zach Sandy from Whitestone Publishing, “In Lieu of Flowers, God Gave Us a Miracle: The True-Life Story of Zach Sandy” is now available for pre-ordering at a discount! Order from either Amazon.com or AuthorStock.com — Save money and be assured to have your copy in hand for the HUGE LAUNCH PARTY scheduled for July 11, 2013, the 1-year anniversary of Zach’s miracle!

With high school behind us, this was supposed to be a last chance for summer fun with family and friends before heading into the real world of college and work. Tragedy never strikes us, always the Jones family down the street, right?

Brandon and I had just finished a basketball tournament, which we lost in an inglorious fashion, and we were sitting in the gym. His youth pastor ran up to him and said he had a call from his dad.

Brandon took the call and then looked at me and said, “Zach was struck by lightning.”

According to the light-hearted mood, I answered, “Well, good for him.”

The blood drained from his face as he replied, “No, Zach was actually struck by lightning.” I ran outside and found my sister. We immediately began praying with a group of friends, and after that I made a few phone calls, asking friends to pray. I turned around and saw Brandon walking out into a field. With emotions running high, and my world falling apart, I followed him. We spent about 15 minutes with our faces in the grass travailing and pleading before God that he would perform a miracle….

—Samuel Vaughn (cousin to Zach and Brandon)

There’s still time to get it by Christmas

The Last Bye, front cover, 500x762
The Last Bye, front cover

There is to be a book signing in the foyer of Christian Apostolic Church (Clarksburg, WV) on Sunday, December 18, 2011 (before and after the services). Available copies will be on hand.

Order your paperback copies online at either Amazon or AuthorStock. (Note: To have your shipped copy signed by the author, order from AuthorStock and mention so in a note during payment or via email.)

For those who desire an ebook, the Kindle version is available as well. In addition to Kindle devices, the ebook can be read on Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Blackberry — via a free Kindle application.

If you loved “The Chronicles of Narnia” series by C.S. Lewis, then you are sure to enjoy Doug Joseph’s “The Last Bye.” Instead of “The Horse and His Boy,” this novel is more like “The Flying Dinosaur and His Boy.” This fun, exciting, and heart-warming tale is a stand-alone read. Yet it is also the much-anticipated conclusion to the amazing, uplifting story arc that began with Tess and Daniel in “New Immortal” and “Tesseract” (Books I & II). In this thrilling episode, everything hinges on their alienated-yet-adventurous son, P’erry. While growing up on a distant moon-world, called Sset, P’erry suffers heartache, makes friends, discovers the Tirra (great flying creatures), has breath-taking adventures, and achieves phenomenal, crucial accomplishments for the people of his world. “The Last Bye” is the final book in the “Millennial Teleport Trilogy.”

Purchase the book now in Paperback or Kindle.

Visit my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/dougjoseph

Check out my writing: Books I, II, & III of the Millennial Teleport Trilogy

Books-123-of-the-millennial-te

Book One: New Immortal — Prophecy. Sci-fi. Adventure.
Book Two: Tesseract — Sci-fi. Adventure. Romance. From a Christian perspective.
Book Three: The Last Bye — If you loved ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ you’ll love this!

Read free samples of the Millennial Teleport Trilogy on Amazon.com

The Last Bye – new novel by Doug Joseph

If you loved “The Chronicles of Narnia” series by C.S. Lewis, then you are sure to enjoy D. Joseph’s “The Last Bye.” Instead of “The Horse and His Boy,” this novel is more like “The Flying Dinosaur and His Boy.” This fun, exciting, and heart-warming tale is a stand-alone read. Yet it is also the much-anticipated conclusion to the amazing, uplifting story arc that began with Tess and Daniel in “New Immortal” and “Tesseract” (Books I & II). In this thrilling episode, everything hinges on their alienated-yet-adventurous son, P’erry. While growing up on a distant moon-world, called Sset, P’erry suffers heartache, makes friends, discovers the Tirra (great flying creatures), has breath-taking adventures, and achieves phenomenal, crucial accomplishments for the people of his world. “The Last Bye” is the final book in the “Millennial Teleport Trilogy.”

Purchase the book now in Paperback or Kindle.

Check out all of my novels: Books I, II, & III of the Millennial Teleport Trilogy

Books-123-of-the-millennial-te

Book One: New Immortal — Prophecy. Sci-fi. Adventure.
Book Two: Tesseract — Sci-fi. Adventure. Romance. From a Christian perspective.
Book Three: The Last Bye — If you loved ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ you’ll love this!
Read free samples of the Millennial Teleport Trilogy on Amazon.com or on AuthorStock.com

ForeWord Reviews: ‘Tesseract’ Novel by WV UPCI Pastor

Tesseract_cover_front_g_197x30

Tesseract by Doug Joseph was recently reviewed by ForeWord Reviews, a service trusted by librarians and booksellers. Their positive review follows:

FICTION/CHRISTIAN

Tesseract: Book Two of the Millennial Teleport Trilogy
Doug Joseph
AuthorStock
Softcover $15.95 (175pp)
9781456437442

Doug Joseph’s sequel to New Immortal is an inventive representation of Pentecostal theology that will delight young adult readers. Combining other-worldly time travel with divine revelation, Tesseract shows that great rewards await those who serve God. This book caters to both faith and the imagination, taking salvation into the future and into the stars.

Author Doug Joseph believes that “pride can use intelligence as a ploy,” luring the gifted to sin. When Tess, who begins college at fourteen, loses her parents in a car accident, her beloved childhood friend, Daniel, guides her to faith. Rightly recognizing “her fallen nature” and “the sin curse within her,” she makes the “right choice” to serve God. After marrying Daniel, she earns her Masters of Science degree, but leaves school upon realizing that “neo-darwinism” is “a godless theory of abiogenesis” that undermines the doctrine of Intelligent Design.

The Corlan, who live on a planet called Sset, are a race rewarded with immortality for never committing original sin. Parents pass genetically encoded memories to their newborns through touch. Straf, the smartest Corlan of all time, succumbs to willful pride and is driven mad by his arrogance. Unlike Tess, who uses her gifts to serve God, Straf rejects God’s will and becomes the Ettosedondi of ancient prophecy who is fated to introduce sin and death on Sset.

When Straf’s son is born, he decides to withhold the memories from his newborn child and abducts him. Deprived of both his mother’s milk and the parental touch he needs to gain his memories, the child becomes the first Corlan ever to die. His father, horrified at what he has done, compounds his sin by committing suicide.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Tess struggle to solve the mystery of sin within their religious community, as God “sifts” the congregation to retain only the truly faithful. When the New Millennium arrives, Daniel and Tess become immortal. Near the end of the Millennial Kingdom Age, God reveals to Tess that she and Daniel will take part in saving the Corlan species from extinction during their downward spiral into depravity and cannibalism.

This novel integrates prophecy, miracles, and “meaningful coincidences” to demonstrate God’s enduring presence in the hearts of the faithful. Tess and Straf represent two routes that are available to all conscious beings: to use their abilities to serve God or to deny Him.

Doug Joseph has also written The Life and Ministry of Billy and Shirley Cole and The Book of Salvation.

Elizabeth Breau

ForeWord Reviews
http://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/tesseract/