Category Archives: Church

IRS Form 990 is NOT for churches!

Sometimes an accountant — or even an IRS employee — will misinform a church employee or church member, falsely claiming that the church supposedly must file a troublesome document called IRS Form 990.

Such accountants are simply mistaken. Put simply, they are wrong. (We once even had an IRS employee tell us wrongly about this matter.)

How can we say so with such authority? Because official IRS statements back us up on the matter.

According to IRS documentation (here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i990.pdf) churches don’t ever need to file Form 990.

The question of whether to file can seem confusing, because at first the document sounds like the answer is based solely on how much revenue a non-profit entity gets in a year, and its overall holdings in a year, but those criteria don’t even apply whenever the entity is listed among those that are completely exempted from filing Form 990.

To verify what we’re saying here — to confirm that your church does not need to file Form 990, just click the above link to access the IRS documentation in PDF format. Then scroll to page 3, and look at Section B, which is quite unambiguously titled “B. Organizations Not Required To File Form 990 or 990-EZ.” There you will see that a church or church-related or religious type group does not have to file form 990.

Being that is the case, why is there all the earlier wording, explaining that a non-profit organization is exempted from filing only if certain conditions are met? It’s simple: that other wording applies to non-profit entities other than the exempted ones, such as a Food Pantry that has its own EIN (tax number).

Why would a Food Pantry operated under a church need or want its own EIN? Because of external donors potentially having their own privately-established rule that they won’t donate to an entity or ministry unless it has its own EIN, separate from a host church’s EIN—which is the case for our Food Pantry ministry. Each year, a private individual makes a sizable donation to our Food Pantry ministry, and their employer matches their charitable giving. However, that employer has its own policy in place requiring the ministry receiving the matching funds to have its own EIN and be listed in a federally maintained list of non-profits.

Our Food Pantry ministry (which has its own EIN) does not have to file Form 990 because it has less than $200,000 received in a year, and is not ever worth more than $500,000 at the end of the tax year. Instead of filing the tedious Form 990, our Food Pantry files a very short, very easy “e-postcard” version, which allows the ministry entity to keep its own EIN, even though it does not file the full Form 990.

Recently, one of our churches that operated a TNT fireworks tent as a fundraiser last year, was misinformed by their accountant, who said that because their overall revenue (note: not proceeds after paying for fireworks product, but all incoming revenue) put them over an arbitrary line, they supposedly had to file Form 990. The accountant is wrong. Because the entity in focus is a church, it does not matter how much revenue is received in a year’s time, the church still is not required by the IRS to file a Form 990.

Note: This article is not intended to serve as a replacement for tax advice by a professional, nor as legal advice. It is written by a pastor and presbyter, citing a clearly stated policy of the IRS. The weight of the statements here is simply the strength and clarity of the IRS statements in the service’s own documentation, linked above.

Obituary: In Memory of Jeannette Corbitt Joseph

Jeannette Corbitt Joseph
March 18, 1936 – March 31, 2017

SHREVEPORT, LA — Jeannette Corbitt Joseph, 81, of Shreveport, Louisiana, was promoted to Glory on March 31, 2017, while surrounded by family, after a final, third appearance of lymphoma. The homegoing celebration will take place Monday, April 3, 2017, with a visitation at 12:00 Noon, followed by the funeral at 2:00 pm. Both the viewing and funeral are to be held at The Pentecostals of Bossier, 2833 Viking Dr, Bossier City, Louisiana 71111.

Jeannette was born in Gillett, Arkansas on March 18, 1936 to John Allen Corbitt and Ethel (Bitely) Corbitt. She was one of nine children. Her family experienced a sweeping baptism of God’s Spirit as they searched for a church that practiced the fullness of biblical truth, which they found in the Apostolic doctrine and Pentecostal experience of the Holy Ghost with fire and water baptism in Jesus name.

Sam A Joseph
Oct 27, 1932 – Apr 19, 1986

Jeannette graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1955. She began working in the Post Office. At this job, she met the man she would marry. She married Sam A. Joseph in November of 1965. Their union bore five children, twelve grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Jeannette worked as a legal secretary at several law firms, as well as the Caddo Parrish District Attorney’s Office, from which she retired after 29 years. She was a precious saint of God, whose faithfulness in service included years of attendance at King’s Temple United Pentecostal Church, followed by years of attendance at The Shreveport Pentecostals, followed by years of attendance at The Pentecostals of Bossier, where she was a member at the time of her passing.

Sam A Joseph
Oct 27, 1932 – Apr 19, 1986

She was preceded in death by both her parents, loving husband Sam A. Joseph, sisters Ina Hampton, Laverne Williams and husband Bob, Mildred Corbitt, brothers Roger Corbitt and Orville Corbitt, and nephew Timothy Corbitt. She is survived by her sons Jason Joseph and wife Shari, Douglas Joseph and wife LaDonna, Warren Joseph, daughters Janet Joseph Woods, and Laura Joseph Newman and husband Drew, her sister Velma Brown (widow of her late husband Buddy), her brothers, Reggie and wife Mary, Jeff and wife Renée. Furthermore, she is survived by her grandchildren, Dixie Marie Woods, Reno Alexander Woods, Samuel Alexander Joseph, Brent Avery Woods, Amber Nechelle (Joseph) Jennings, Hannah Jeannette Joseph, Joshua Aaron Joseph, Elliana Megan Joseph, Kieran Judah Joseph, Benjamin Corbitt Joseph, Adena Faith Joseph, and Gavin Isaac Joseph, as well as her great-grandchildren, Miguel Lewis Romero Joseph, Brantley Cade Jennings, Elias Cruz Romero Joseph, Cristián Alexander Joseph, and Ariel Grace Jennings, and a multitude of nieces and nephews and a host of church family and friends.

The family extends special thanks to Christus Highland Hospital, Christus Grace Home, and Sister Verita Rone, for their assistance in care, and to The Pentecostals of Bossier and many other friends for their kindness in hospitality, and to all the donors to the Jeannette Joseph Memorial Fund. Online donations are facilitated at http://cac.wvupci.com/give/memorial/

She loved gardening, was very active, and enjoyed travel worldwide.

Please visit www.hillcrestmemorialfh.com to leave online condolences for the family.


Click below to view the multimedia presentation shown at her viewing / visitation.

Jeannette Corbitt Joseph – Homegoing Slideshow

Mama’s Pastor prayed for peace in her journey, and instantly….

Dear friends:

She was hanging on by a thread, but knew she wanted to get that Last Will and Testament finalized, so she rallied yesterday, and God gave her the strength to last long enough to scrawl a weakly signature a bunch of times before an attorney and witnesses, and to love on her family and kiss her kids, grands and greats.

Yesterday evening the nurse asked if she wanted any medicine to “calm” her slightly elevated breathing, which was labored.

She said, “No, I’d like to try to avoid that if I can.”

“Ok.”

(Throughout the whole process, whenever she was asked if she had pain, she always said, “No, I’m OK.” Regarding pain medicine, she was this way the whole while as a massive lymphoma onset escorted her from this life to the next.)

During the night she weakened. This morning when she was called upon, she opened her eyes, yet was too weak to respond. As the day wore on, she could not manage to open her eyes.

A social worker came in this morning and announced that her status has officially been changed from “respite care” to “hospice care.”

Today at about 2:30 pm (central time), her dear under-shepherd, Pastor Jerry Dean, walked into the room. He was given a brief update, stepped to her side, and prayed, “Lord, give her peace in her journey.” Instantly her mortal frame stopped breathing, and our dear Mama started dancing on streets of gold. God is good — all the time.

Her estate is quite modest. The family is asking for memorial gifts in lieu of flowers. Any surplus beyond funeral costs will go to missions through her local church…

Jeannette C. Joseph Memorial Fund

With mixed tears of sorrow and joy,
Pastor Doug Joseph

Never again!

My oldest daughter, Elliana, and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Israel (February, 2017). While there we learned some amazingly beneficial bits of context for the Holy Scriptures, and we experienced many meaningful moments.

In one of those meaningful moments, we were atop Masada, where, in ancient times, Jewish families in a besieged mountain fortress chose to end their lives rather than suffer rape/abuse/slavery/murder at the hands of Roman soldiers. Josephus, a Jewish historian, described the incident (see chapter 8, here).

I was moved to tears all over again (I had heard him say so before) as I listened to our Jewish guide, Ralph Lewinsohn, explain how the Masada incident has become part of the Jewish national ethos, and how that, in light of the determined efforts of the Nazis in WWII to wipe out every Jew in existence, now the Jewish people are determined that, “Never again will we allow ourselves to be put in a position where our only choice is death or slavery. Never again.”

“Never again” is not just a heart-cry of Jewish people everywhere. It’s actually a prophecy about them, made by God Himself:

{14}  and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.

“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. {15} I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,”

says the Lord your God.

Amos 9:14-15 (NIV)

Some Christian believers have succumbed to a false doctrine known as Replacement Theology, which claims that collectively, adherents to Christianity have supposedly completely replaced natural Israel in the mind of God. Those who hold to that notion may think that earlier ancient Jewish returns from exile would qualify as concluded fulfillment of various prophecies that God would bring the Jewish people back to the Land He promised them. However, take note:

  • God foretold a return of the Jews to their land that would be completely permanent (see Amos 9:14-15, shown above). Regarding the Jewish ethnicity of those prophesied to be returned, see also Ezekiel 34:13 (note “their own land”).
     
    God Himself indicated that the same nationality of people that was exiled would be brought back by God’s own hand to the same Land from which they were exiled, and that from thence forward, they would never again be uprooted!
     
  • God foretold a return of the Jews to their land that would be come from every direction, north, south, east, and west, i.e. “from the ends of the earth” (see Isaiah 43:5-6).
     
    Earlier ancient returns from exile that were localized (such as from Babylon) cannot qualify as fulfillment of such a prophecy. By contrast, the astounding, ongoing return of Jews from all around the world to the State of Israel reestablished in 1948, certainly could qualify.
     
  • God foretold a return of the Jews to their land that would be accomplished by God’s own hand (see Ezekiel 20:34, and other verses already cited).
     
    For anyone to resist such a “return migration,” and/or the accompanying necessary right of Jewish people to dwell securely in their own ancestral homeland is to resist God Himself.

As Christian I support and defend the Jewish national declaration that never again will any situation be permitted in which Jewish people are denied their right to exist securely within their ancestral homeland. As a Bible believer, it is the only logical choice.

Is regulation of abortion “evil,” as some pro-life people claim?

Let’s start with a fair portrayal of an alluring, albeit radical, position taken by some within the pro-life movement. The following real conversation actually happened recently on social media:

A friend posted a reasonable comment about the fact that the US Supreme Court panel in 1973, which handed down the Roe v. Wade opinion (in a 7-2 decision) had several justices who had been appointed by Republican presidents. Underneath his post, came this:

Now, a quick word about why I’m continuing my response here, instead of there, and who I’m trying to convince with this post (hint: it’s not the radical guy arguing with me on my friend’s wall).

First, any comment you make (on social media or anywhere else) that someone else has the power to delete, is one you may well see disappear, because it means you’re playing on someone else’s turf, not your own. The above conversation was under my friend’s SCOTUS post (which means he could delete my replies, though I doubt he would), and it was also under the radical person’s comment, and he’s more likely to delete my comments if either he thinks I’ve trounced his argument or he gets tired of me replying (i.e. continual one-ups in a battle over who has the last word).

Second, in any controversial issue, there will be a bell curve, in which one extreme consists of the few on the right side that agree with you and could never be convinced otherwise, and the other extreme consists of the few on the wrong side that disagree with you and could never be convinced otherwise, and the cherry, so to speak, is the huge group in the middle of the bell curve, who are open to reason/persuasion, and could potentially be convinced either way. The radical guy (arguing in the screenshot above) is clearly beyond the reach of my reasoning. Why do I say this? He’s already found what he thinks is a solid argument, and long before he ever encountered me, he had already made his argument so often that he’s what we might call “doubled down” on it, such that he’s personally vested in its validity. For him to ever hear reason and turn back now, would be, according to his words (not mine), “silly,” and committing a “sin” of adopting a position with those who “do not care” about aborted babies. His mind is already made up, don’t bother him with facts. Can someone turn back? Yes, but it’s rare. A Saul who becomes a Paul is powerful, but very scarce.

Why the radicals are wrong

If you were able to read all the way through his replies, you saw the comparison to the Holocaust against the Jews, and you hopefully felt the weight of the radical argument. You sense the allure of it, yet something does not quite sit right. I hope to help you put your finger on exactly why the argument does not sit right.

Since he already pointed to the Holocaust against the Jews in a comparison to the Abortion Holocaust of pre-born humans, please allow me to argue from that comparison, despite both Holocausts being a nightmare of grim historical reality.

The radical approach above is a straw-man argument because it presupposes that the Allies’ war against the Axis powers—the fight from without, if you will—was the only kind of war that could be waged, and furthermore, in his argument, the radical guy actually claims that was the only kind of fight that was waged! When I read the lunacy of statements such as “Abortion is legal because we do not care, just like the Germans did not care if the Jews were being murdered,” it makes me want to say, “Did you never hear of Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Have you never read of the heroes, some Christian, some Islamic, some German, who risked their lives trying to save what few Jewish lives they could, from within the Nazi system?” It would do the radical guy some good to read/watch Schindler’s List, about Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German businessman, who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. Far be it from me to point out the history, since it’s only a click away from anyone on social media.

So, imagine with me, if you will, that war can be waged on two fronts simultaneously, one working under the best strategy possible for how to abolish abortion (in WW2 parlance, defeat the Axis powers), i.e. a full frontal assault, but not one devoid of strategy, and another to undermine from within the reality of the existing system, using whatever means, regulation laws, acts to defund, prayer walks, sidewalk vigils, life chains, counseling centers, ad campaigns and social media memes, etc. (in WW2 parlance, subvert and resist the Axis powers). The radical approach claims the latter of those two is evil, because it somehow legitimizes the system, since it’s not the full frontal assault happening from without and because a lot of people are still dying. That’s just wrongheaded.

Just as the radical guy was wrong to pretend that no one in Germany cared, that none under the boot of the Nazis was working to subvert the forces of evil, and wrong to ignore the precious lives their work saved, by focusing his argument solely on the ongoing death around them as proof of their failure, so also the radical argument is simply fallacious to claim that no lives have been saved during the past 43 years of the pro-life movement fighting against the scourge of abortion. How can he ignore the evidence of some 11,000 lives saved because of the ban on partial birth abortions? Who is he getting his information from, the pro-aborts?

There is an old saying that “you only have one chance to make a good first impression.” Well, all those on the pro-life side in the current culture war should be aware that any given legal argument only has one chance for the Supreme Court’s “first glimpse” at the argument. That first glimpse, if the case gets taken up by the court and an opinion handed down, will result in a precedent being set. Contrary to what some people think, the worldview of a Supreme Court justice matters! Put simply, we need to have a pro-life Supreme Court empaneled before we have a case to abolish abortion come before them, or the case will just see the effort overturned.

Contrary to the radical’s argument, we are winning.

When I told the radical we are winning the culture war, that we’re succeeding in changing the hearts and minds of society, he expressed a state of denial and responded saying that is “so so not true.” Again, the facts contradict his argument. Just Google “millennials are more likely to be prolife” and you will get this:

Millennials increasingly oppose abortion, even if they don’t identify as …

www.washingtontimes.com/news/…/millennials-increasingly-oppose-abortion-even-if-…
Jun 30, 2016 – The survey found 53 percent of millennials believe abortion should be … to 48 percent who said they were more likely to identify as “prochoice.

Millennials’ abortion views trend pro-life despite self-identity, research …

www.washingtontimes.com/news/…/millennialsabortion-views-trend-prolife-despite-…
Jun 30, 2016 – Majority of millennials support tougher abortion restrictions, but … with 48 percent who said they were more likely to identify as prochoice.

Why Are Millennials More Pro-Life Than Parents? – The Daily Signal

dailysignal.com/2016/03/04/why-millennials-lean-prolife/
Mar 4, 2016 – Millennials lean more prolife than the generation preceding them because of advances in medical technology and science, leaders in …

Surveys Show Young People More Pro-Life Than Ever Before as …

www.lifenews.com/…/surveys-show-young-people-moreprolife-than-ever-before-as…
Jul 11, 2016 – … People More ProLife Than Ever Before as Millennials Oppose Abortion. … are less likely than their older counterparts to identify as “prolife.

Millennials Across the United States are More Likely to Identify as Pro …

www.frcblog.com/…/millennials-across-united-states-are-morelikely-identify-prolife
Feb 8, 2016 – The study shows the decline is nearly equal in both the most prolife and prochoice states. The decline in the least prolife states: Vermont …

Millennials across the United States are more likely to identify as pro …

standamerica.us/millennials-across-the-united-states-are-morelikely-to-identify-as-pro
Jan 12, 2016 – Millennials across the United States are more likely to identify as … The only most prolife state on the list to see a rise in abortions is Louisiana.

Millennials: The generation most likely to oppose abortion – Red Alert …

redalertpolitics.com/2016/01/14/millennials-generation-likely-oppose-abortion/
Jan 14, 2016 – Although Americans are split down the middle on whether they identify as prolife or prochoice, abortion is viewed as less acceptable than it …

Survey: Millennials oppose abortion, yet reject pro-life title – Red Alert …

redalertpolitics.com/2016/…/survey-millennials-oppose-abortion-yet-reject-prolife-tit…

Jul 1, 2016 – Survey: Millennials oppose abortion, yet reject prolife title … 48 percent of millennials said they were more likely to identify as “prochoice.”

So, while I declined to try to battle for the last word in a futile argument with a radical, let me conclude with the last comment I made before breaking off with him:

It will take a lot of time and hard work to win over the culture by changing hearts and minds. We have the truth and all the science on our side. We’re winning. We’re on the same side. If we can avoid maligning each other, we will see victory.

Join me as part of the Pro-Life Generation that will see abortion ended within our lifetime. We’re in this for the long haul. We’re in this to save as many lives as we can along the way. If regulation spares even one life, it will have been wise and right. It has spared many lives. The thousands of babies who have been spared from death, even during the sad reign of “Planned Parenthood” funding and “Roe v Wade” opinions, declare that we are on the side of righteousness.

Tithing: 5 Key Answers | Interview with IBC Perspectives Magazine

Read more helpful content at IBC Perspectives Magazine.

IBC: Why is it so important for Apostolic Christians to tithe?

DJ: The Bible is clear that believers are to dedicate every aspect of their lives to the Lord. Dedicating all except the financial aspect is not all; it’s excluding something. While Christians disagree on what submission in this aspect may look like, the most common error by those who are against tithing is to mistake New Testament passages about “Emergency Relief Effort” type giving as supposedly being how all giving should be done by Christians, yet that type of giving is but one layer in a biblically modeled approach. One cannot ignore tithing and have a truly complete biblically modeled approach.

IBC: What happens if a Christian fails to tithe? Are they lost?

DJ: To presume to declare all such people as either saved or lost is to place oneself in the Lord’s place as judge. We can envision situations in which a believer knows better and willfully disobeys, and in which they don’t know better and are not willfully disobeying. The default position of fallen humanity is lost and cursed. If a believer is himself redeemed, yet he allows an existing curse to abide on his personal finances, might God allow that level of granularity? Save their soul even while their financial life is still cursed? He may well allow it in some and disallow it in others. He’s the Lord who knows the heart and judges rightly.

IBC: Should we tithe on our gross income or net income? Why?

DJ: The biblical answer, which is that tithing is to give 1/10 of all my “increase,” leads to a lot of sticky questions that various believers approach differently. In addition to gross v. net, what about inheritances, insurance settlements, birthday and anniversary gifts, or a litany of other windfalls? Consider Luke 6:38. Generally, the more I include as realized increase, the more room I grant in the “bucket” that God uses when causing future increase to come. Based on Romans 14, I grant fellow believers liberty in how they decide such matters, but I personally tithe on my gross. God has blessed us for it. In our assembly, saints tithe on their home garden’s produce. Our family enjoys every bite. Bottom line: tithing is to be based on all “increase.”

IBC: Offerings are given in addition to the tithe. What should a faithful Christian consider giving for offerings?

DJ: Since the needs vary, the amount or percentage could also vary. The New Testament indicates saints were called upon for longterm sacrificial giving due to needs as a result of emergencies, such as fellow believers starving in another region due to famine. Yet how much is too much? Each believer is free to make up their own mind on their gift (2 Corinthians 9:7). Both willingness and abundance are prerequisites for acceptance of offerings (2 Corinthians 8:12). One should avoid going into debt to give to other believers’ needs. A believer should not reduce himself to being in need while trying to meet another believer’s need.

IBC: How has tithing blessed you?

DJ: From my youth up I have always been as faithful as possible regarding tithing. God has honored His promise and has blessed me and my family abundantly. I am a genuine “testimonial” advertisement for the success that comes when adhering to a biblical model from God’s word for submitting the financial aspect of my life to Him.

A Pastor’s Statement Regarding Kim Davis

Kim Davis has done an admirable job of executing the portion of her job she could do, and respectfully declining on the part she cannot do, due to the legal chaos of the moment. The flawed and lawless decision of the SCOTUS in June has caused chaos. Between that lawless ruling, and the lawless command of the Kentucky governor to the state’s county clerks, and the lawless command of federal judge Bunning directly to Kim, she is between a rock and a hard place, yet she has taken a principled stand that is to be commended.

The Kentucky laws she is sworn to uphold have not been changed, and she is still upholding them. It would require a legislative response to the SCOTUS ruling to revise any Kentucky laws.

Furthermore, of the Kentucky laws that apply to clerks regarding marriage licenses, none of them pronounce any penalty for refusing to give out a license, but they do provide a misdemeanor penalty for giving a license to a couple who may not, per Kentucky law, constitute a marriage, and that includes a misdemeanor penalty for giving a license to partners of the same sex. Since the Kentucky legislature has not revised those codes, and no revisions or new laws by the Kentucky General Assembly have been signed into law by the Kentucky governor, it is simply too early in the process for same-sex couples to be demanding any licenses there, and it is wrong (see below) for either the governor or the judge to command such, given the current situation.

The state governor is sworn to uphold Kentucky law, which directs him (not just in some ruling, but in written, duly legislated and signed law — see the KY state Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or KY RFRA) to seek out a method of enacting the government’s goals in a way that is “least restrictive” of Kim Davis’ religious freedom. Ordering her to violate existing Kentucky laws and at the same time ordering her to violate her conscience, is not the least restrictive means to enact what he is presenting as a governmental goal.

Similarly, the federal judge is bound to abide by federal law, which requires him (not just in some ruling, but in written, duly legislated and signed law — see the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or federal RFRA) to seek out a method of enacting the government’s goals in a way that is “least restrictive” of Kim Davis’ religious freedom. Ordering her to violate existing Kentucky laws and at the same time ordering her to violate her conscience, is not the least restrictive means to enact what he is presenting as a governmental goal. Jailing her is certainly not the least restrictive way.

Given the comparative ease of simply revising the marriage licenses by removing all clerks’ names from them, the accommodation she requested is quite reasonable, and both the governor and the judge violated existing laws in their actions and inactions. Since both were willing to abide by her being wrongfully incarcerated rather than accommodating her, I advocate for them to be impeached. I certainly urge protest over their violations against Kim Davis. In spite of calling for their impeachment, I have been fervently praying for them, and will continue. If you are not praying for them, you should be.

Ultimately, a pastor’s advice is of most value to fellow believers. Regarding believers, as per Romans 14, we are not to judge or condemn another believer regarding matters of conscience, even if, or rather especially when, his or her conviction of conscience differs from your own. The whole point of religious freedom is that not everyone’s religious convictions will match with yours, and we need to allow other believers, who may have stricter views than ours, to hold those views. That said, I don’t disagree with Sister Kim Davis on this. Even if I disagreed, I would still support her 100%.  Even if you don’t agree with her views and position, I implore you to study Romans 14, and grant her the liberty to have a conviction you don’t share. Don’t bash her on social media. Support and pray for her, as well as praying for her state, her governor, her legislature, the judge, and the SCOTUS whose ruling caused the chaos we’re all enduring.

Rebuttal to “How To Silence Idiotic Kim Davis Supporters”

I support Kim Davis 100%. Below is a video that proposes to teach how to “silence” me (and the title calls me an idiot, to boot, which is an ad hominem argument). First, watch the clip, then read my reply.

Warning: Some crude language.

Well, I’m a Kim Davis supporter, and it does not silence me. The clip is woefully wrong on so many levels. Let’s name just a few:

  1. One need not agree with, endorse, or even understand someone else’s religious belief in order to afford them accommodation for conscience sake.
  2. The clip’s implied notion of “it is wrong to live by part of the Bible if we don’t keep all of it” is a clever deception. There are multiple covenants in the Bible. The previous ones are often lumped together in a singular phrase: “Old Covenant.” Christians are enjoined to the “New Covenant.” If someone has not agreed to a certain covenant, then we don’t hold them accountable to its precepts. The fictional characters here act as though all the world are signatories to the Mt. Sinai Covenant (also known as the Mosaic Covenant). Christians don’t demand of unbelievers an obedience to our own covenant, let alone obedience to one we don’t even belong to. If you don’t want to take part in a certain covenant, then, yes, you can ignore its precepts, but you also won’t get its rewards, either. Remember that last part when the Day of Judgment arrives.
  3. It is nearly-universal Christian teaching that the Mosaic Covenant’s ceremonial codes and judicial penalties are not binding on non-Jews, i.e. those who are not part of that covenant (although the Old Testament has some broadly-applicable, explicit commands and some clear, timeless moral judgments of God, and all its content, however minor, harbors principles worthy of study). While we are on this, if we cannot believe in the Bible unless we live by all its covenants, then liberals cannot invoke the Supreme Court in Obergefell unless they also abide by all SCOTUS rulings, such as that black people are not persons, etc, and liberals cannot invoke “rule of law” over Kim Davis, while they ignore all the laws on the books protecting natural marriage (as done, for instance, by President Obama and many states’ attorneys general).
  4. The Bible’s overall message regarding sexuality has moral aspects that are clear in both the Old and New Testaments. One need not be a Jewish “Old Covenant” believer to know homosexuality is sexual sin; the “New Covenant” believer gets this knowledge from the New Testament as well. Furthermore, the Old Testament’s descriptions of what behaviors constitute the sexual sins, which all fall under a blanket term (fornication) are binding upon non-Jewish believers, as this matter falls within a limited set of Old Testament requirements declared binding on Gentile believers (see Acts 15).
  5. The TV script writer foolishly presumes that all transgressions are equal in nature, i.e. “all sins are equally severe; there is no big sin and no little sin,” which is blatantly false. Our Western judicial system is based in a significant way on the Mosaic Law’s “Lex Talionis” — the principle or law of retaliation, that “the punishment should fit the crime” (i.e. a penalty inflicted should correspond in degree and kind to the offense of the wrongdoer). This is based on a bedrock truth that not all sins are equal. The TV script writer betrays both their faulty view of “equality of all sins” and their glaring ignorance of the Bible by inserting into the script two falsehoods—that mixing crops/seeds and mixing thread types in clothes were both to be worthy of death under the Mosaic Law (the Bible nowhere called for such a penalty)—and implying that all minor infractions against the Mosaic Law are equal to, and as severe as, homosexuality, which is a concept that is indisputably not biblical.
  6. Bible passages that regulate/restrict bad behavior, including  slavery, rape, polygamy, and wrongful divorce, etc, are not endorsements of said behavior, and the overall message of the Bible has always led true believers away from such behavior.
  7. Finally, the TV clip “creates” the very bigotry it seeks to rebuke, in two ways: by fictitiously and intentionally portraying a callous, arrogant Christian it creates a false preconception of Christians, and in modeling a horrendous, flawed “how to silence the Christians” approach, it teaches anti-Christian bigotry to biblically illiterate unbelievers who “buy the lie” hook, line, and sinker. That fosters hatred toward believers and ensconces ignorance and bigotry as noble attributes.

Everything We Think We Know About Marriage and Divorce Is Wrong | Shaunti Feldhahn

It’s common knowledge that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, right? Only problem: That stat is wrong. 

Have you ever quoted the facts about the 50 percent divorce rate? Yeah? So have I. Have you ever lamented the fact that the divorce rate was the same in the church? Or that most marriages are just hanging in there, not vibrant and happy? … I had no idea that every one of the statistics I was quoting—statistics that fit both with conventional wisdom and what I saw reported in the media—were nowhere close to true…. [read more].

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.