Category Archives: Ministry

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.

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].

Should We Surrender the Cultural Wars? | Bob Russell

“In recent years, many churches have dropped all images of war in favor of a peace treaty with the world. We speak of Jesus as a healer and leader, but not Lord and King. We shout grace, whisper repentance and make inordinate attempts to ingratiate ourselves with those who oppose us. We retreat into silence in the face of horrendous evil and hope it will all go away….” [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.

Jim Kilgore: A Hero Goes Home + The Long Wait (by Mike Carlen)

“Here I sit in a hospital room listening to beeps, moans, the hissing of oxygen with a slight gurgle of moisture, and the sound of shallow breathing that you can’t help but be unnerved by. Moaning and yelling from a distant room filters into our consciousness occasionally, disturbing our focus on our loved one. The wait continues. Its 2:13am and another all-nighter awaits… unless that angel named death comes knocking.

“We have been here for 7 days now. Hanging out in waiting rooms, having friends you haven’t seen in quite sometime drop by who wish to express their wishes of love and support and leave snacks, food and gift cards. And the family…gathered together with those you love the most, knowing if nothing is said, its ok.

“Meeting those unknown faces in the ICU waiting room that are waiting and suffering in spirit just as we are, wishing for better days. Their loved ones flat on their back, completely helpless. Unmovable. No, we don’t know all of their names, but we have become comrades in spirit, encouraging each other and wishing for a clean bill of health so we could escape this unlikeliest of hangouts. It’s cold here. Chairs are miserably uncomfortable. It makes me wonder why they make the chairs so miserable. Do they think if they were plush, we wouldn’t want to leave? Like that favorite restaurant that is so pleasing to the palette of the eye, let alone the stomach, you just don’t want to leave this fine establishment because its so pleasant? No, in a heartbeat we would leave. If only we could take our loved one with us.

Read more of this powerful tribute to James Kilgore Sr, and soul-searching reflection on what really matters, via Mike Carlen’s Blog – The Long Wait.

FIRST UPDATE, Wednesday, February 5, 2014:

It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that we report the passing of our beloved Reverend James L. Kilgore. Brother Kilgore went home to be with the Lord early this morning (February 5). Please be in prayer for the Kilgore family during this difficult time.

James Kilgore, Sr 1926-2014

Brother Kilgore’s son, Pastor Jim Kilgore, wrote the following:

These are the hardest words to write… Our Dad passed away at. 2:25 this morning. We felt it was inevitable following his fall on Sunday, February 2, but hope sees beyond the inevitable and refuses to hear the words, irreversible. We are Kilgores, and miracles are part of our DNA. Over the past few days, our family poured out our love on him with words, songs , the Word, prayer, touch…and finally, we were able to release him! This morning Dad rests in the presence of Jehovah. You, our friends and his, have been magnificent! We love you!

—Jan, Jean, Jim and family.

SECOND UPDATE, Wednesday, February 5, 2014:

Regarding the passing of Reverend James L. Kilgore, beloved long-time pastor, former Texas District Superintendent and former Assistant General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International: Brother Kilgore went home to be with the Lord early this morning, February 5.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Family visitation – Friday, February 7 from 5-6:00 p.m.
Public visitation – Friday from 6-8 p.m.
Visitation – Saturday, February 8 from 9-10 a.m.
Funeral – Saturday at 10:00 a.m., with private burial service to follow

The visitation and funeral will be held at Life Church, 9900 Almeda Genoa Rd, Houston, TX 77075. The phone number there is 713-910-1911.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked donations be sent to Life Church and designated to Ima’s Home for Children.

Please be in prayer for the Kilgore family during this difficult time.

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.”

Are you guilty of this very common doctrinal error?

Are all sins truly “equal” in God’s eyes?

Heart issues (inward sins) lead to outward sins (wrongful acts, hurtful crimes, etc). The Bible shows that both inward and outward sins are wrong, but it does not anywhere teach they are equal in God’s eyes. Thinking they are equal is like saying, “I already hate him, so I might as well murder him. Same thing, right?” or “I already lust after her/him, so I might as well have sex with her/him. Same thing, right?” These are not the same! One is cause, the other is result; but dealing with the cause before committing the result is clearly much different than “going ahead and doing it!”

Many people think that all sins are equal in the eyes of God, yet that firmly-held notion does hold up well under biblical scrutiny. If you are like me—one of many that has thought that way—read the following with an open mind.

Yes, the Bible does teach that it only takes one transgression against the law to make someone guilty of all the law. But don’t read so much into it that you go into false doctrine. Look at the Bible’s teachings “on the whole” to see the bigger picture.

The easiest way to prove that not all sins are equal is to read the New Testament, in John’s first epistle, where he writes of “sin not unto death” and of “sin unto death” (1 John 5:16-17). So, at the very least, we can prove that not all sins are equal in God’s eyes because some warrant harsher judgment or penalty.

This concept is clearly seen when studying the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament, in which some sins were minor and carried very light consequences, such as waiting a certain number of days before being able to do some aspect of worship, while other sins required a repentance that involved the sacrifice of an animal (and for some it was a small, inexpensive animal, while for others it was a larger, more expensive animal), and ranged all the way up to (in some cases), death (no repentance was adequate and there was only a death sentence)!

Consider, also, an Old Testament legal restriction, said as “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” This doctrine is called the Law of Retaliation (lex talionis, in Latin). The Believers Study Bible commentary says this about the Lord Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:38,39:

(vv. 38,39) Jesus does not deny the law of retaliation (lex talionis, Lat.) as a valid principle of legal justice. While insisting upon adequate punishment, this law safeguarded justice by not permitting excessive punishment. Jesus advocates a desired response more characteristic of a regenerate citizen of the kingdom.

Lex Talionis shows clearly that in God’s eyes, in a just legal system, the punishment must fit the crime—with our point being that not all crimes are equal.

In a future installment we will address the common misunderstanding about what adultery is (in the biblical sense) and why inward adultery (lust of the heart) is not equal (in God’s eyes) to outward adultery by fornication (sexual infidelity by a married person), even though both are wrong. Again, one is cause, the other is result, and if the cause is not dealt with, the result that happens is much worse than dealing with the cause before the result occurs.

3 Huge Tips For Drawing Closer to God

These three huge tips about how to “pray through” will really help you draw closer to God:

  1. To “pray through” has nothing to do with praying until you force God to change His mind and help you. God’s mind does not need changed. To “pray through” means to pray until you get through your own insecurities, until you get past your own carnal desires, until you get past your own doubt, complacency, and fear. To “pray through” is to pray until you’ve allowed God to change not just your mind but your very nature; to pray until your carnal nature is mortified, put to death.
  2. God already wants to help you; He wants, more than you can comprehend, to help you. There is nothing about prayer that is twisting God’s arm and making Him say “Uncle.” It is one’s own carnal nature than needs to be compelled and controlled. There is a point as one prays where his or her own spirit is helped and strengthened by God to the point that, together with God’s Spirit, the inward man triumphs over the outward man. This is the moment of victory; the moment of breaking through; the moment of being able to lay aside the bitterness and grant forgiveness; the moment of seeing past earthly, sin-cursed values and weighing matters truly according to eternal values.
  3. “Praying through” is the moment of getting through all that must be gotten through if we are to become like our Lord. We cannot become (as He is) the very image of God, the very human manifestation of God, but we can hope to become (as He is) a glorified and perfected man. That is the goal, and we desire to pray for His help until we reach it. Let us endeavor to “pray through.”
Praying Through
Brian Murphy Jr, a young minister at Christian Apostolic Church, praying and worshiping during the 2013 Youth Week at CAC, Clarksburg, WV. Photo by Doug Joseph, copyright (c) 2013 by Doug Joseph / Christian Apostolic Church. All rights reserved.

10 Writing Tips from Mark Batterson

Mark-Batterson

Mark Batterson: “I felt called to write when I was 22, but it took 13 years to write my first book. I actually self-published it just to prove to myself that I could write a book. My first published book was In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Book #10, All In, will release September 24. I feel as called to write as I do to pastor. For me, writing is an act of obedience. It’s not about how many copies you sell. It’s about writing for an audience of one. I don’t type on my keyboard. I pray on it and worship on it. I also take my shoes off when I write because it’s holy ground. Here are ten lessons learned…” Read more.

 

Send Them Up the Escalator

BIlly Cole with Doug Joseph
Above: Billy Cole with Doug Joseph on July 27, 2007. Brother Cole is holding the very first proof copy of the book Life and Ministry of Billy and Shirley Cole. The year 2007 was a special one: In spite of his illness and age, Brother Cole was able to come to WV District UPCI Youth Camp and speak. While he was there, the district inducted him into the Esteemed Elders Society. Also, after over three years of work, Brother Joseph was able to present to Brother Cole the very first proof copy of the book The Life and Ministry of Billy and Shirley Cole.

Bishop Billy Cole was always mentoring. Even when an elder serving under him did not yet realize that pastoring was in the future, still the stories and lessons learned from the bishop were good preparation for pastoring. Whether the younger minister knew it yet or not, he was being prepared for his fullest potential.

Many lessons that I learned from Brother Cole have benefited me in pastoring later. His true story called “Send Them Up the Escalator” (below) has been very helpful.

In pastoring there are wonderful moments when I am very confident I’ve heard from God for what to preach. It’s great when the Lord gives you a nudge and you know which direction to go. However, painfully, being a pastor also means that on many occasions you must preach regardless of whether or not you have a nudge from above. Being able to be a blessing over the long haul depends on how you react to those in-between times—when you’re forced to “carry the mail” without having been given any mail! What will you say then?

When I’m in such a condition, sometimes I consciously think back to the times I heard Brother Cole recount a true story about him being in an airport with Rev. Charles Mahaney, a great man of God who was also an incessant cut-up. I’m going by memory, so it’s somewhat of a paraphrase.

Brother Cole and Brother Mahaney, two road-weary, battle-hardened warriors of the faith, were unsure of where to go inside a massive airport. They passed one unmanned helpdesk after another. Brother Cole’s normal way to react to such circumstances might have been a slowly increasing frustration and mounting tension. Whether Charlie Mahaney simply was wired differently, or whether he was trying to defuse the situation, he reacted with humor.

As the two confused travelers approached yet another empty helpdesk, Mahaney suddenly jumped behind the desk and pretended to be an employee of the airport. Immediately a line of people formed! Mahaney began giving advice!

(I have tried to imagine what faces the great Billy Cole must have made as he watched his humorous friend deal with one weary traveler after another. )

Suddenly, an actual airport employee appeared. Naturally, he was not overjoyed at the fact that an imposter was dealing out unofficial (and potentially detrimental) “help” advice. Under the employee’s stern gaze, Brother Mahaney vacated the helpdesk.

“Just what have you been telling people?” the employee asked.

Mahaney answered, “I told everybody to go up the escalator, and there would be help there.”

After a tense pause, the employee seemed to relax and said, “That’s OK, actually. There really is a staffed desk at the top of the escalator.”

After telling this story to his elders, Brother Cole always gave his huge, unguarded, heart-warming laugh. He would conclude by making a helpful application:

“Sometimes, you won’t know exactly what to preach,” he said. “That’s no time to break out some new, weird doctrine. That’s the time to stay safe. Preach something you know well, such as Acts 2:38 and Jesus-name baptism, or about the Oneness of God. When you don’t know where to send folks, be safe and just send them up the escalator!”

Thank you, Bishop. We miss you. I know you’re enjoying life above, at the top of the escalator. I’m doing my best to send people up. I plan on getting there myself too.