Category Archives: Marriage

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.

Mike Huckabee’s scorching response in support of Kim Davis

Mike Huckabee, former governor and current candidate for US president, when asked why he supports Kim Davis (full video below):

“Because this is the criminalization of Christianity. What she [Kim Davis] did was follow the Kentucky Constitution, voted on by 75% of the people. She has now been criminalized— She’s being held without bail. I want you to think about this. Jeffrey Dahmer [serial killer] got bail. Albert DeSalvo, the ‘Boston Strangler,’ got bail. John Wayne Gacy [serial killer and rapist] got bail. Kim Davis, because she followed her convictions, is put in jail, and is not given bail. This is an unbelievable moment in American history, and I think it may wake people up— because who’s next? Are pastors next? Florists? Caterers? Who else goes to jail before this is over? And the Supreme Court reached out into thin air and created a redefinition of marriage. There is no authorization from the Congress. The president has never signed a bill that enabled this idea of same sex marriage. And I think it’s interesting— in Tennessee, yesterday, there was a judge that dismissed a divorce case. He said, ‘If the court doesn’t think the people of Tennessee are smart enough to know when a marriage starts and what it looks like, then I guess the court doesn’t give us enough sense to know how to end one.’ So, he dismissed the divorce case. The implications of this are extraordinarily far reaching, and that’s why we’re going to be in Kentucky on Tuesday, three o’clock, to rally for Kim Davis, and to rally for religious liberty, and, most importantly, to rally for there to be consistency in the law.”

He was asked more questions and the articulate answers continued:

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.

For My Sweetheart, on Valentine’s Day 2015

Valentines-Day-2015-from-Doug-to-LaDonna

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.