Category Archives: Ministry

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.

Zach Sandy: killed by lightning; now alive and well!

Press release: July 13, 2012
For immediate release.

Zach-miracle-52-family-prayer-with-zach

Parkersburg, WV – On Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 18-year-old Zachary Sandy was struck by lightning and was without pulse or breath for somewhere between 20 to 40 minutes.

The lightning strike happened on a baseball field in Parkersburg, WV that was being used by a church-sponsored youth camp. Several others who were on the ballfield were also knocked down by the lightning, but other than Sandy, none was seriously injured. The blast literally shook the ground. Pastor Tisdale, local to the area, was among those knocked down. His wife was also impacted by the blast. Their son, a young preacher named Caleb Tisdale, was taken to his knees by the strike. Along with others, the young Tisdale, who knows CPR, rushed to Zach, who was laid out and stiff as a board. Tisdale said that smoke was literally coming from Sandy’s mouth and body; an image he said he will never forget. Sandy’s shirt showed burn marks and smelled like it had come from a furnace. The lightning had blown holes in the young man’s tennis shoes as the electricity exited his body. The hair on the back of his head was singed and burned where the lightning entered his body. He had broad, red, track marks and second-degree burns caused by the lightning having traveled through his body. His cell phone was fried, its screen shattered, a cover blown off, and some buttons partially melted. Immediately both prayer and CPR were implemented.

Sandy was not breathing, and he had no pulse. Tisdale performed CPR on his friend until being relieved by paramedics, who arrived about 15 minutes later. It was not until sometime after Sandy was loaded into the ambulance and was on his way to Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital in Parkersburg that he finally displayed a faint pulse. By the time he arrived there, he had been intubated (put on a breathing machine). He had a stable heart rate. There was talk of airlifting him to either WVU Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV or the West Penn Hospital Burn Center in Pittsburgh, PA. However, a helicopter could not be procured at the time. So, he was taken by ground to Morgantown. There a crowd of family, church members, and other friends had gathered, and an impromptu prayer meeting was held. Sandy was flown from there to West Penn Hospital Burn Center.

Within hours, prayer support had been registered from over 30 states and two foreign countries. The very next day, the tube and breathing machine were removed, and Sandy spoke, drank, ate, and walked. The following day, doctors reported that all neurological tests had come back normal, and that as soon as Sandy’s muscle enzymes returned to normal, he could be discharged and sent home. Both family, church, and friends agree that there is no other explanation but a miracle. At the Christian Apostolic Church in Clarksburg, WV, Sandy’s pastor, Rev. Doug Joseph, stated, “Thus far, each and every prayer has been answered. At first we were cautioned that he might suffer brain damage from being under CPR for so long without a pulse. Everyone prayed and the Lord answered. Then we were cautioned that his kidneys might not work properly or that other internal organs could be damaged. Again the Lord heard prayers. We were warned that burns caused by lightning strikes almost always grow worse over time before they get better. His burns did the exact opposite. We’re all elated and thankful for the great touch of God bestowed on this precious young man.”

In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family encourages donations to the Zachary Sandy Medical Fund to help cover medical expenses. Donations can be submitted via mail, online, or in person. Details are available at: http://cac.wvupci.com/zach/

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For more info, contact:
Pastor Doug Joseph
Christian Apostolic Church (UPCI)
Clarksburg, WV
(304) 629-1196

Note: Photos, updates, links, etc at http://cac.wvupci.com/zach/

The King Who Sees (a reminder from the altar)

There is something so powerful about the way God’s presence puts everything in proper perspective when we approach Him openly and honestly. Bowed before His glory, no petty rationalization, biased justification, defensive argument, or attempted distraction can be offered. What’s the use of such antics when one is beholden to the King Who Sees your heart’s deepest crevices?

“Have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3b).

The way up is down. The death of the carnal is the end of the curse. When we lay our carnality on the altar, He helps us to mortify the sinful nature’s deeds (Romans 8:13).

Don’t try to hide that which cannot be hidden from Him. Don’t waste life’s days refusing to acknowledge or confront the innermost defects and problems resulting from unwise choices. We are all casualties of the curse. Yet when, through humble repentance before Him, we divest ourselves of carnal aspects that harbor the curse, we see Him work a change that overpowers the curse and delivers us from “the body of this death.”

If you have not offered yourself before Him in this way—or perhaps you have, yet not for a while—then don’t delay. Mere moments of true openness before Him does more than could ever be accomplished by going through “religious” motions. The stench of flesh is not that which ascends while the carnal nature is burning on the altar. A thousand times no. The true stench of flesh is that odor of sin, pride, and self-will, that foulness that oozes from our pores as we attempt life on our own, without trusting Him by building an altar and laying ourselves upon it. Cry out with Paul, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).