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In defense of tithing

Ryan French, a fellow Apostolic minister, recently posted a wonderfully helpful article, “How to Hurt Your Pastor,” in which (among other things) he mentioned tithing. As you might imagine, someone started taking pot shots at tithing (in the comments), in obvious opposition. Both he and I responded in the comments, in defense of tithing. As Ryan explained his thoughts (in a reply to a comment) he defended tithing as a practice of faith for believers:

First, Abraham chose to tithe because he recognized that everything was God’s in the first place (Genesis 14:19). This is a common thread throughout the Bible… that God has entrusted us as stewards of his goods (…the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof).

Secondly, When Abraham and Jacob began tithing it was … before the Law of Moses had been instituted. This places tithing firmly in the category of timeless moral law. For example, THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY is Old Testament law but it is timeless and moral and carries over into the New Testament (consider Genesis 28:20-22).

Thirdly, Leviticus 27:30-31 shows that the Israelites could either give 10% in produce or 12% IN CASH. When it came to livestock, a shepherd had to set aside every tenth for God. In other words, if they were going to give actual money God required 2% more than if they were going to give in produce or livestock. Beyond all of that, produce and livestock were considered currency in the same way that cash is considered currency today. People bartered with produce and livestock because it was often all they had.

Fourth, Numbers 18:21 establishes God’s precedent that tithing would be for the work of the ministry. God has always considered spiritual things to be worthy of full-time attention.

Fifth, over half of Jesus’ parables talk about money and yet Jesus never once mentioned the earth-shattering fact that tithing is obsolete. In fact, he did the opposite in Matthew 23:23… he rebukes the Pharisees for neglecting weightier things than tithing but then carefully tells them that they should in fact tithe. Another time, Jesus uses a poor widow giving her last penny to the temple as an object lesson for his disciples. Why didn’t he run to her and say you don’t have to do that anymore? Because the principles of tithes and offerings are timeless and moral in the kingdom of God.

Finally, the early apostolic Church, as far back as history records, understood that tithing is the means by which the Church provides for the work of the ministry. I suppose if we wanted to really be like the early New Testament saints we would need to sell everything and give it to the Church. Such was the custom in their zealousness.

Regarding Ryan’s fourth point (“Numbers 18:21 establishes God’s precedent that tithing would be for the work of the ministry. God has always considered spiritual things to be worthy of full-time attention”) I added:

The Apostle Paul specifically linked New Covenant support for gospel preachers to the “same manner” (the “same way”) the Old Testament priests were provided for, which of course referred to tithing and offerings. This is clear in 1 Corinthians 9, especially take note of vv. 13-14.

KJV: {13} Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? {14} Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

NIV: {13} Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? {14} In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Notice the KJV wording “Even so…” (we ought to ask “how so?”) and/or the NIV wording “in the same way” (we should ask “the same way as what?”). The answer is clear: tithes and offerings.

The same way that provision was made for priests in the Old Testament is how it is to be done for full-time gospel ministers in the New Testament. Can a minister forego this right and not accept? Certainly, as Paul himself chose to do at some points. However, that does not permanently waive the right for that minister, nor remove or bar the practice for others.

1 Corinthians 9:14 directly links with Numbers 18:21, i.e. the New Testament gospel minister is connected to tithes the same way Old Testament priests were connected to tithes.

More thoughts of mine followed:

The most common errors of those who claim tithing was “Mosaic Law” and “done away with,” involve:

  • mistaking New Testament verses about emergency relief effort giving as a supposed substitute for tithing (a notion which cannot be supported, biblically),
  • and (the above then often leads to such) wrongfully thinking they know what is /supposed/ to happen “instead of tithing” under the New Covenant,
  • and finally, missing/overlooking the significance of New Testament links to Old Testament mentions of tithing, forming a functional biblical model for people of faith.

Here are a few questions for anti-tithe people:

Since you are professed to not be against giving, but rather against basing one’s giving on a set percentage of increase (which is a biblically based model and enables important functions of the believer’s family life, such as budgeting / financial planning), then what biblical model for giving do you appeal to as a substitute for the biblical model of tithing?

Whatever biblical model you claim as a substitute for the biblical model of tithing, are you sure you have not simply mistaken emergency relief effort giving as something else that it was never intended to be?

Is your biblically-based model absent any set percentage, making forecasting and budgeting extremely difficult if not nearly impossible? Or are all percentages acceptable except such that are prominent in Scripture?

Do you accept that any believer is free to choose a percentage-based plan, and then free to choose any percentage of increase they wish as their basis for regular giving? Or are you just “put off” by the 10% figure and/or an old word for “tenth” (tithe, aka 1/10th)?

If you accept that a believer is free to choose a percentage-based plan for their giving, do you accept that the same believer can in faith derive from the Bible a long-standing example of 10% as support for their choice to use that percentage?

Given that preachers / pastors who view tithing as an act of faith then teach it as such (not a bondage or entrapment or burden) why vilify or criticize them for doing do?

A certain anti-tither responded with the following:

You would have tithe more than 10% according to the law. I believe it is 23%. You are debtor to do the whole law you if you are going to tithe that includes the Old Covenant sacrifices.

What follows was my reply:

  1. Many aspects of a faith-based life predate the Mosaic Law. This includes tithing.
  2. The word “tithe” literally means “tenth” as in 10%. One cannot have “one-tenth” magically become 23%. One could possibly owe a “convenience fee” on top of the tithe, or give an additional offering beyond the tithe, but a tithe (a tenth) cannot be anything other than one tenth. This is common sense.
  3. Because biblically-based tithing in based on increase, the frequency does not affect the percent. Tithing once a week versus once a month does not increase the percentage from 10% to 40%, because if the the increase stays the same, so the percentage stays the same. This also is common sense.

Finally, I asked:

What policy do you practice regarding giving? Does your policy have a biblical basis? If so, what is that basis?

Jeannette Corbitt Joseph – Homegoing Slideshow

Compiled and created by Pastor Doug Joseph, using photos supplied by family and friends. Shown at the viewing/visitation for Jeannette Corbitt Joseph’s Homegoing Celebration, Monday, April 3, 2017. She passed away Friday, March 31, at 81 years of age. View her obituary here.

Five [somethings] that cause [something]!

  1. Enough already with the “listy” titles: “Five behaviors that lead to early dementia,” or “Three foods that cause cancer,” or “Ten habits of highly effective leaders,” or “Seven policies that increase church giving,” or…
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    Back when I first read that popular blog post on “Eight ways to increase blog traffic” (or whatever it was actually titled), and it explained how people go for short, definitive lists that make everything sound simple, and how titles that hint at that kind of list really get the click traffic, I halfheartedly tried to get on board.
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    Over time, I even made some meager efforts to title some posts that way, but a quick scroll through my blog shows I was not consistent at it—yet I was never “against” it.
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    Still, come on! The “listy” titles have become so prolific and so annoying that I am now crying “uncle.” Enough. Please, bloggers and click-bait sites, get back to being creative with real titles.
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  2. And don’t even get me started on those other click bait titles such as “She was [something] until THIS happened!” Argh, ugh, and yuck. I have come to despise such things.
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  3. While I am at it, Christians and/or conservatives: can we please, for the love of all that is good and holy and decent, stop posting links to supposedly conservative articles that display, in the advertisements, “gratuitous cleavage” / wanton near nakedness and generally raunchy, nasty stuff?
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  4. And, Christians and/or conservatives: can we please stop linking (without any warning) to videos that contain seriously bad language? Yeah, that would be great.
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  5. Oh, boy. I seem to have compiled a definitive list of four items, yea five items if we count this last bit that doesn’t fit, but yet we could pretend it does. No, wait, the click-bait people do that too, whenever the 13th item in their list of 13 items is not a 13th item, but just a screen that says “you’ve reached the last item, so now click here.” Yeah, I guess I am now guilty, too.  (See what I did there?)    😉

So—whatever shall I title this post?

Hey, CNN, why the double standard regarding ISRAEL?

The folks at Honest Reporting nail it on this one. Or should I say, they nail CNN to the wall.

“An American led coalition is fighting Islamic State (ISIS) in its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul. This is very similar to Israel’s battles against the terror group Hamas. So why does CNN report on Israel so differently? Why the double standard?”

Shim Craimer’s musical serenity blessed me this morning

This morning in prayer, I broke down and wept, while considering all the threats against our kids these days, all the menacing possibilities we face, and how far short we fall in our efforts to protect and prepare our young ones. A comfort came in a calm assurance that the Holy Hand at work in our lives is more that able. Soon afterward, I stumbled upon this masterpiece by Jewish musician Shim Craimer.  It’s called “Forever More” — and I pray it blesses you as it did me.

Lyrics

The sun arrives so early yet
My eyes are wide awake
I’m thinking how the world
Is such a crazy place
But then a calm serenity
Takes over from the pain
I realize that nothing is in vain

Save me
Oh you heal me
Will you comfort me
Forever more

Lookin back through all the years
I’ve tried to understand
How everything life throws at you
Comes with a plan
You need to take a breath and find
How human one can be
Just look around at what you’ve got
And see

Save me
Oh you heal me
Will you comfort me
Forever more

The Day a Murderer Sneaked Into Heaven

One day a murderer sneaked into heaven.

How? By the mercy and grace of God, of course.

But why would a forgiven soul ever need to sneak in? Because a forgiven soul knows the forgiveness, knows their trespass which required it, and knows the price that was paid to grant it. The very last thing a forgiven soul would ever do is stroll into heaven like one who “owns the place”—like one who did not need mercy and grace to get there.

As I was saying, one day a murderer sneaked into heaven.

Oh, the meetings with saints of ancient ages!  Samuel, the prophet, was so wise and so careful with his words! Mordecai was so inspiring with his faith and stories of determination! Peter and John and all the disciples of the Lord Jesus practically glowed. Maturity and wisdom emanated from them with such love. Yet the chance to meet King David was particularly welcomed. What a balm it was to meet a fellow murderer, one who had likewise inflicted wrongful death, yet was granted mercy and grace, and through forgiveness managed to hobble along fairly successfully through the remainder of his earthly life, writing songs (psalms) and seeking to regain the place with God he once had and lost.

Then the murderer encountered an unexpected class of people: Joyful souls of aborted babies. Millions upon millions of them played and laughed on a velvet verge of grassy meadows beneath solemn mountains and serene skies. There, playing among them, was the precious girl this murderer had killed, in a signally selfish yet “safe and legal” procedure.

The forgiven soul (the formerly selfish soul) longed to hold the girl, longed be with her. Just as that longing foot was lifted in the girl’s direction, a voice spoke up nearby.

“You can’t,” said the voice, with both authority and anguish melted together in love. “Not until you realize that she cannot know.”

“But…” the forgiven soul stammered.

“These little ones have been spared the agony of being unwanted. They don’t know. She has never known that her life on earth was extinguished.  She has never known that the precious gift of life—her intended life on earth—was once counted as less than convenience and culture and campaigning and coy sloganeering.  You may only approach her once you are committed to not infecting her with the agony of her having been unloved.”

“So, I cannot tell her who I am? This is hell then, not heaven! I’ve not yet been forgiven,” said the forlorn yet forgiven soul. “I somehow feared it couldn’t be true.”

“No,” said the voice. “If this were hell, you would be freely permitted to inflict all manner of suffering in her heart, and then suffer in your own heart over having made her suffer. She would eventually retaliate. It is because this is heaven and not hell that such a thing will not be permitted. Because this is heaven, you may go and be with her, but only as a stranger, at first, with no past. For her there is no past to be forgotten. The past you would seek to bring her is buried beneath The Blood, and unworthy of the bringing. Leave it behind, and then you may be with her.”

After a long pause (while considering all the ramifications with a clarity that was seldom possible back on earth) the forgiven soul finally asked, “Will there ever be a time, a thousand years from now, or a million—will there ever be a point when she might finally know and yet not suffer? Will there ever be a time when a billion years of me loving her would finally empower her to hear that painful past spoken without suffering over it?”

“If such a day were to ever come…” said the voice. “Yet on such a day, you would most likely have left that past buried for so long and be so far removed from it, that you will have lost all the want to drag it up from the depths of forgetting. You will most likely no longer wish to tell it.”

“I understand.”

“Then you may go to her.”


“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21 KJV).


A personal note from the author, Pastor Doug Joseph:

Today, January 17, 2016, is this year’s Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. During this annual event (on the third Sunday, the one nearest on the calendar to the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision by the US Supreme Court), we set aside time to mourn the millions and millions of human babies lost via abortions, to pray for an end to abortion, and to reflect on and teach about the sanctity of human life, which, as a godly principle, goes deeper even than just the issue of abortion, affecting how we stand on everything from opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide, to advocating for compassionate love for children facing handicaps and for people facing various challenges and limitations. Being Pro-Life is about much more than opposing wrongful deaths. It is about loving life, and upholding the dignity of human life as a sacred gift from God. I hope you will join with me today in a generous donation to West Virginians For Life or your state’s affiliate of the National Right To Life Committee.

Photoshop Tips & Tricks (Download/Stream 80-min. Seminar)

How To Retouch Family Photos—80-minute Adobe Photoshop Seminar with Expert Doug Joseph

Full-HD-Photoshop-Seminar-Video-Screen-1024x819

Special Sale (limited time): Enter discount code “SAVE50PS” to take 50% off, knocking the price down from $10 to $5!

Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes. Recorded Live on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 in Clarksburg, WV

Learn how to correct: lens distortion (LD), camera flash partial washout (PW), flash hotspot reflections on eyeglasses (HR), plus color correction (saturation, brightening, adjusting lows, mids, highs), and consider standoff & resolution for framing, canvas prints, etc., using actual photos (taken with an iPhone 5). Bonus: How to add yourself to a group photo whenever you took the original shot!

You will receive both a streaming link (private YouTube link in full HD, 1080p) and a download link (MP4 video in full HD, 1080p).

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.

How To Tell the Difference Between a Blessing and Dumb Luck

I received this excellent question from a friend:

“How can I tell the difference between a blessing and dumb luck? A series of events [that occurred] over the past three months has me questioning my understanding of how things work. These were events for which I have no rational explanation.”

My answer:

There are various theories, ranging wildly from those that claim there is no such thing as a “blessing” all the way to those that hold there is no such thing as “luck” or a “happy coincidence.” The truth seems to be somewhere in between those extremes.

We tend to lack the proper context to even evaluate whether something is a blessing or not, because we lack certain knowledge of the future and we view things from a limited, human, carnal perspective. However, one verse we can trust (if we can understand it) is James 1:17

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

So, if we mistake our luck for being a “perfect gift,” yet it later turns out to our detriment, we can finally assess that it was not from God. Conversely, if we mistake our perfect gift as something bad, when it later turns out to have been perfect, we can assume it was from God.

Mistaking a gift from God as “luck” would seem to simply illustrate a lack of faith. I don’t think there is any lasting harm in trying to give God credit and praise for whatever seems at the time to be a genuine blessing. If we later find out we misjudged things, I don’t think God holds that against us. I try to “err” on the side of giving Him praise as opposed to withholding it.

You canned what?! (That last item really got me!)

This amazing article on canning was really intriguing. You won’t even believe what some people have canned, and for how long it can remain editable, and even improve in flavor instead of degrading. The last thing on the list will blow your mind! Read the full article.