For Richer or Poorer

Finances can be a hot topic in the best of marriages. Most marriage and relationship experts spend a great deal of time answering questions and helping others to navigate financial matters in their marriage.

Couples don’t often possess the same views on managing their finances or spending habits and this can be a chronic source of conflict in the marital relationship if not addressed.

Yours, mine and ours
Couples often choose to manage their finances separately. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours. The Bible (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6) clearly explains that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

This means that a married couple should approach all issues as a unit and that everything is to be shared. What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. A married couple that adds all of their money into a joint pool and decides together how their money should be spent would be a good example of this
Biblical principle. But what if they cannot agree on the how?

In two minds
We are all raised differently with diverse ideas and examples about saving and spending. Furthermore, we all collect different experiences as we step into the adult world that impact our ideas of finances and how it should be managed. Remember that at the end of the day, you are both on the same team. Nobody wants to be poor and everyone wants to enjoy a prosperous life.

Budget wars
If you are trying to understand your spouse’s spending habits, make sure that there is not an underlying reason for their behaviour. Are they possibly trying to fill an emotional void or trying to prove a certain status through their lifestyle? Or have past experiences perhaps created an overwhelming need for them to be excessively concerned?

Whatever the root cause of the problem may be, the best solution will be to communicate with your spouse. If you find that you and your spouse have hit a dead end and are constantly fighting over the same issues, it might be necessary to get outside help.

Ask a family member, friend, church leader or a counsellor to help in terms of mediating the issue. Do not however, blindside your spouse by springing help from the outside on them unexpectedly. This might cause a rupture in the trust in your relationship. Discuss it with them beforehand and make them aware of your intentions.  

Work together and prepare for the future
The key to avoiding financial strife and hardship lies in a well-planned realistic budget. It is important that you and your spouse agree on what you can afford and be able to keep each other accountable for honouring this agreement. Be honest with each other about your income and realistic about expenses. You should be able to survive on less money than you are earning. This way you will leave room in the budget for hidden costs and unexpected expenses.

You and your spouse should negotiate short-term and long-term goals and how they can be accommodated through the budget. You should also agree on the minimum amount that is acceptable to be spent without the other partner’s knowledge or consent. It is okay for one spouse to be elected as the “bookkeeper” that manages the budget, but both parties should have a say in how the money is spent regardless of the size of their contribution. It is also important that the party that does not manage the budget understands the details thereof, in the event that their spouse should fall ill or pass away and they need to take over the role of “bookkeeper”.

As put so aptly in The Alpha Marriage Preparation Course Manual, “developing a dynamic partnership requires honesty about the present, forgiveness of the past and agreement about the future”.  

JANINE MYBURGH is a Counselling Psychologist and a Lecturer at the ICP. For counselling or enquiries about studies in Christian Psychology see

Consecrated To God

“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow
the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5
Moses had died and Joshua takes over the leadership of the children of Israel. They had been wandering in the Wilderness for forty years and now the time had come to claim the promise and possess the land.
In Joshua 1 the Lord meets with Joshua and affirms and encourages him for the task ahead. It is time to move forward. He calls on Joshua to be strong and very courageous. (Josh 1:6-9).
In Chapter 2, Joshua sends out two spies and they return saying that the land is theirs for the taking. Plans were in place, the provisions secured and it was time to go. They muster the people at the Jordan and in no time, everyone is ready to move, but there is one more vital thing to do.
Anticipating a miracle  
In Chapter 3:5 Joshua addresses the people and tells them that they have a part to play in the miracle that God will perform. The Lord was about to do ‘amazing things’. But, they were not to rush ahead nor act presumptuously.
They had to take the time to make a fresh commitment. They were to make sure that they would not be a stumbling block or a barrier to what the Lord was intending. So Joshua calls on them to ‘consecrate themselves’.
You have a role to play
The Bible tells us over and over that God wants to bless His people and do ‘amazing things’ amongst us. We all long to see God, unmistakably at work, changing lives and bringing hope and healing to the nations. While some of that will only be fully realised when Jesus comes again, there is the promise in Scripture that we can “call on Him and He will do great things” in our day (Jeremiah 33:3). While that is ultimately the Work of God by His Spirit, this call by Joshua reminds us that we have a role to play. 
There is our part and there is God’s part.
1) Our part: we must commit
Our Heavenly Father never works in a vacuum. As we read the Scriptures and study the history of God at work, we discover that God always enlists people to work with Him. It was John Wesley who said “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” He always makes people a part of what He does.
The great Revivals can be traced back to a faithful few who prayed, sometime for years for God to bring revival. In every significant movement of God, faithful men and women have played a role in facilitating what God initiates and decides to do. In every church and ministry God uses people. We have a role to play in preparing the way for God to work. Our part usually starts with what the Bible calls ‘an act of consecration’.
“Consecrate yourself”
This is the starting place. The journey towards knowing a special work of God in us and amongst us always starts here. It starts with an act of commitment. With the Lord’s people getting to the place where they say “Here am I Lord, use me!”
Consecration means ‘setting ourselves aside for God’s use’. It is a common theme and a common requirement in Scripture. This is such an important issue that the words ‘consecrate’, ‘holy’, ‘set apart’ occurs 260 times. At times it refers to objects being set apart but most of the time it refers to people being separated for God’s use.
Presenting yourself to God
In the beginning of God’s dealing with sinful man we read: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.” Lev 20:7.
This is essentially what Paul is saying in Romans 12:1: “Present yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.”
This is not reserved for the super spiritual or some special elite group, but all God’s people are called to be ‘set apart for His use’.
What does this require?
We need not overcomplicate this or make this some strange ritual or spiritual practice that is reserved for certain people. It is very practical and not beyond any of us.
Commit to live for Jesus
The Lord Jesus must be first in our lives. Always remember that commitment wanes, meaning that last year or even last week’s commitment may have been life-changing at the time, but Jesus tells us “to take up our crosses daily to follow Him” Luke 9:23.
For all who are believers, there was a defining moment when we surrendered to Christ. Nothing can take that away, but there needs to be a regular commitment that keeps that fresh and relevant. So ‘consecration’ or ‘setting ourselves apart’ needs to be a part of our lives.  
Renewed dedication
This is not to say we are being saved again. But like in a marriage, where we tell each other that we love one another and that we are committed to each other, so our relationship with Christ needs to be something fresh.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only in My presence, but now much more in My absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose.” Phil 2:12-13.
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.” 2 Peter 1:10.
Deal with and keep a short account of sin
Nothing blocks the work of God like sin.  We all know that. We all also know that none of us are exempt. We are all subject to, and vulnerable to, areas of temptation. This also needs to be dealt with regularly.
Before Joshua sets out into the Land of Promise, he wants to ensure that the people, who have to take the land, have dealt with sin. Because if they don’t, it will entangle and complicate and restrict the Work of God. Many a Christian life, of great promise, has gone nowhere because of not dealing with sin.

“I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” Ps 38:18.
“Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Ps 32:5.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

Live a life filled with His Word and His Spirit
Consecration is not so much an event as it is a process. It is a process of learning to depend on God’s Spirit to equip and enable us. And the Spirit’s usual instrument is His Word. The Lord instructs Joshua to:

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the Law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Josh 1:7.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Josh 1:8
“So He said to me, “This is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Zech 4:6
2) God’s part:He will do amazing things
A hardworking farmer does all he can. He plants, waters, fertilises, weeds and then he waits and lets nature take its course. We do our part, a part that God has initiated, and then we look expectantly for God, by His Spirit, to do His great work.
God’s work is not always about the spectacular. The Lord is not into putting on a show. He is wonderfully at work, in His own way, and when we recognise His work, it is always amazing. A person coming to Christ is amazing. Where people find hope and freedom and are set free from sin, it is amazing.
When the Lord brings healing and when He moves amongst us by His Spirit, it is amazing. When God restores marriages and families, it is amazing. When purpose is given to empty lives and when He provides for our needs and bring ‘life abundant’ it is amazing.
This is all God’s amazing part!
Called to make a difference
Joshua’s call challenges us as we live in a broken world. We have been called to make a difference and to be instruments the Lord can use. He only uses instruments that are ‘consecrated’ or ‘set apart’ for His use. 

Kisses From Katie

18 year old Katie Davis had the “perfect” life. She was homecoming queen, class president, drove a sports car, had a cute boyfriend, and owned all the material possessions to suit her comfortable life.
But her love for Jesus and the compulsion she felt to do something meaningful, led her from the USA to Uganda for mission work. Katie was immediately captivated with the people and the culture. The following year, in 2007, Katie returned to Uganda to teach. Walking the dusty streets, Katie stepped into her destiny, establishing a non-profit organisation, Amazima Ministries, which seeks to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those in Uganda who need it most.
Now, at the age of 24, Katie is a mother to 13 adopted daughters. A best-selling author lauded for her work, Katie is unaffected: “I am not doing anything spectacular. I am just doing what God called me to do as a follower of Him. Feed His sheep, do unto the least of His people.”
This Mother’s Day, in recognition with the high calling that mothering requires, we celebrate Katie’s ministry and spoke to her about the journey thus far…
How did your upbringing prepare you for your unconventional life in Uganda?
My father taught me that people want to be heard and understood, and he encouraged me to be genuinely kind and respectful to everyone who crossed my path. My mother taught me to be grounded in what I believe and to cling to my faith no matter what. They were both incredible examples of our Heavenly Father’s self-sacrificial love, and I am truly blessed to call them my parents.
I spent a fair amount of time in high school volunteering at domestic violence shelters and halfway houses in Nashville. I cherished my time with the people there and carried many of the lessons God taught me during that time with me to Uganda.
You’re the founder of an international nonprofit, a single mother of thirteen, and a care provider to more than 600 needy children. When do you sleep?
Well I don’t sleep much! Truly, God has blessed me with so many people who help me carry out this calling. I do not do it alone. I have an incredible staff here in Uganda, a great board and staff in the States, and many volunteers. I have wonderfully supportive friends and family, both here in Uganda and in the States, and an absolutely unbelievable Saviour whose power is made perfect in my weakness.
As a rule though, I fill up on Jesus first, serve my children and run our household second, and then meet all the other needs that are thrown my way. My children are awesome ministry partners and love to serve alongside me.
In my life, there is no separation between job, ministry, or home life – everyone is family and everything is done for Jesus, all the time.
To what extent have your family embraced your life’s work?
I am so incredibly blessed by my family. They are hugely supportive and encouraging. Mom gets to spend the most time here, sometimes several months at a time, but my Dad and brother Brad visit as often as they can.
When they can’t be here, they call often and text nearly every day, just to let me know that I am loved, supported and prayed for. They adore the girls and it is mutual. One of their favourite things to do is Skype with Jja Ja and Papa (this is what they call my parents.)
You’re constantly giving of yourself. To whom do you look to for inspiration?
Jesus Christ the Risen Lord and Saviour. I try to live selflessly and to love others as God loves them, and I still fall short. I would absolutely not give myself to such torture as a cross for this crazy, broken world, and I am so thankful to serve a King who did.
He made Himself low, touching the sick and washing feet. I strive and I beg to be a little more like Him with each breath.
You believe poverty could be eliminated if faithful people gave more of their surplus to those in need…
God is faithful. That just as He has intended, so it has happened, and just as He has planned, so it will stand. (Isaiah 14:24). While I think Christians are called to be doing more about the world’s hurt than many of us are doing, I also fully believe that God sees all who are hurting and suffering and knows what is right, and He will use all of this mess for His good.
So in my book when I talk about people giving more, I am speaking to people who look at poverty and hurt in this world and ask, “Where is God?” God is right here living inside the hearts of all who believe. So maybe the questions is, “Where are we?”
You describe the adoption of your daughter Grace as a moment when you had to rely even more completely on God. Can you talk a bit more about this experience?
So much has happened since then that I hardly remember that time in my life as being difficult. In the last nine months, I have had a child I intended to adopt, return to her biological mother; I have fostered newborn babies whom I fell in love with and then gave to another mom; I have had at least 12 different homeless people or families live in my house and two of them die of terminal illness. I have held mothers’ children in my lap as they breathed their last, and I have had to walk thirteen precious souls through all this pain.
Life just gets more difficult, but there is a purpose in those challenging moments. That is how God’s grace works, I think. I believe that I am at my wits end, that this must be the hardest moment of my life and He carries me. Then I reach the harder moments, laugh at myself for once thinking I had lived the hardest moment of my life already, and remember how He carried me. He always carries us.
The broken places, the desert places, they mould us and teach us who we really are – broken and completely dependent on God’s grace to give us one more day.
How do you combat the inevitable spiritual droughts?
I believe that the Holy Spirit lives in me and with me, and I talk to Him throughout each and every day. I murmur my thanks and my frustrations and my joys and my sorrows to God, who is alive and with me always. There are always difficult moments and then moments that are harder still, but there are no droughts when we drink from a well that never runs dry. 

What would our JOY! readers be surprised to know about you?
Most days, I am kind of a mess. People who read my blog assume that because I am able to express my heart well, I have it together, This is not true. The laundry piles and I go to bed with dirty dishes still in the sink. My tongue hurls unkind words at my children before I have even thought about what I am saying. I can’t even find my keys some days.
We do not have it together around here, but my prayer is that as we invite people into our home and into our mess, they feel free to be real – to express their weakness and their filth and know that they belong because we too are broken and in need of a Saviour’s grace. I pray that in our brokenness we would shine and be an example of His redemptive love.
I also love to cook. The more people around my table, the better. Some days, it is just me and my thirteen daughters who circle our huge table, but more often than not there are at least five or six extra – a homeless person in need of a warm meal, a family who has taken refuge in our guest room, a lonely grandmother in need of a family, or maybe a friend of one or two of my girls.
This kind of hospitality was not always easy for me (nor was learning to cook for twenty or thirty people at a time!)This lifestyle of sharing and inviting others in – to sit at my table, to rest on my couch, to shower in our bathrooms, and to sleep in our beds – goes against everything our culture teaches about valuing personal space and privacy. I used to find it inconvenient, disruptive and even uncomfortable.
But God continued to stretch me more and more and to teach me that this interruptible, public lifestyle is the way he desires me to live and to love. So we welcome all to our table. And I smile while I chop vegetables, praying that as people are filled physically at my table they will be filled spiritually in our home.

You have written that we are called by God to “love with abandon.” How has that path changed you as a person?
There is truly no greater gift than to give yourself away. The more we give, the more He fills, this is fullness of joy. I give and I trust Him, and as I trust, I overflow with joy and peace.

Finally Katie, few people would change their lives as you have. What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I would like them to know that God uses us in our brokenness. We simply have to be willing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my life would look like this – I am a normal, flawed, selfish, ungraceful human being. Why would He use me?
Because He created me in His image and delights in me and can pour out His wholeness and perfectness and extravagant grace into any open hand or heart that is surrendered to Him. If He can use me, He can use anyone. 
Compiled by Jenna-lea Kelland

Christians and Politics

A threat to the state
At the time of Jesus, the Jews were living under the government of the Roman Empire. People could worship the gods of their choice, so long as they also worshiped the Roman Caesar, who was seen as their god.
Refusing to worship Caesar (the Emperor) was seen as an act of treason, punishable by death. That is why so many Early Christians were persecuted by the Roman state. Not because they were involved in various religions, mind you, but because the Roman authorities saw the Christian religion as a threat to the state.
As believers, we understand why: because believing in and living for Christ Jesus leads to true freedom – which no “leader” can take away.

Emperor worship
The official religion of the day was Emperor Worship. This meant that it was a political offence to not worship the Roman state. Christians were burned at the stake and eaten by wild animals because of accusations for the crime of treason.

God has supreme authority
Jesus Christ stated that He, and not Caesar, has all authority in Heaven and earth. His disciples understood that God’s Laws take precedence over Caesar’s laws. In other words, He challenged the political and spiritual authority of the most powerful government in the world at that time.
Jesus told us to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s. The Bible makes it very clear that when man’s law violates God’s Law, then we are to obey God rather than man. And we see the disciples doing this in Acts 5.

Challenging political leaders
We know that Jesus’ disciples were not involved in politics. But that was because Rome was not a democratic country. Political involvement, as we know it today, did not exist. We know that Jesus Christ proposed a higher Law and a new King, Himself, and the Christians of His day were prepared to Sacrifice their lives for Him.

Many people think that the Early Church used to “just preach the Gospel”, which they think is very good and not political.

Implementing God’s Word
But the question still remains if God expects us to become involved in politics today? First consider the word ‘political.’ In today’s life, we see this as the practice of governments in the civil arena; ‘politics’ usually refers to involvement and influencing those who govern.
If we are going to fulfil God’s purpose in ministering to people’s needs, then surely this means that we are going to have to deal with social challenges.
How can we implement God’s Word and demonstrate love for the poor if we do not get involved in politics? How do we take care of the poor, the widows and the orphans, without being involved in policy formation?

Exercising influence
At the very least, we play an indirect role in being involved in politics by voting in the national and local elections. It is very important to influence government officials because the poor are usually impacted first by changes in the economy, and these changes are generally brought about by new laws and policies as passed by government.

Godly Laws are needed
God has also commanded us to liberate the oppressed. We often find that the greatest agents of oppression in the world are secular humanist and authoritarian governments. Wouldn’t it be an effective way of liberating the oppressed by influencing those governments to pass laws that can help, rather than exploit, these people?
Government policies can play a role in protecting preborn babies from abortion. Through political laws a country can protect women and children from the exploitative industry of pornography and human trafficking. Sex and violence on television, women being viewed as sex objects and being abused and raped, can be corrected by the passing of godly laws.

The government sets the standard
Governments govern people. They will decide if we are going to live as free people or oppressed people. They, by their laws, will decide on how we are going to worship God – whether it be freely or under persecution. They set the standard of morality by the laws that are enforced. The question is – by what standard are they going to govern?

God’s expectations of government
The following four verses help us to understand what God expects from Government:

“A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a lion or bear attacking them.” Prov 28:15
“With good men in authority people rejoice, but with the wicked in power, they groan.” Prov 29:2
“When rulers are wicked their people are too, but good men will live to see the tyrant’s downfall.” Prov 29:16
“Where there is ignorance of God, the people run wild, but what a wonderful thing it is for a nation to know and keep His Laws.”
Prov 29:18.

Following God’s Law
While the institution of government is ordained of God, it is obvious that God does not approve of all governments. It should be obvious that God did not approve of Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Idi Amin or any other bloodthirsty dictator in history. Governments must live and rule according to God’s purpose; they need to protect the innocent, punish the guilty and preserve the peace, so that we can live peaceful and godly lives in our country.
When God’s Law comes into conflict with man’s law, then we as Christians need to obey God’s Law above man’s law. And, this might also mean that we need to physically resist the wicked when they oppose the Law given to us by God.

Pray for our leaders
In 1 Timothy 2:1-4 we are instructed to pray for God’s wisdom and for direction for our leaders so that we might “live peaceable and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Saviour who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”
We know that the function God has given government is the dispensing of justice and the restraining of evil (Rom 13:1-4). For God to demonstrate His justice in government, He uses godly men and women to do His Will.
“Evil men don’t understand the importance of justice, but those who follow the Lord are much more concerned about it.” Prov 28:5.
“A good man knows the poor man’s rights, the godless don’t care.” Prov 29:7.

Taking responsibility
We need godly men and women in positions of authority, so that we may have a peaceful, just and moral society for the people of our nation to live in. If the moral, righteous people of our country do not take their responsibility in government, then we leave the doors open for us to be governed by the wicked and immoral.
We need to defend those who can’t defend themselves (Prov 31:8). We are to give fair judgement to the poor, the afflicted and the orphans. How can this be done in a society, when Christians remain outside the areas of politics and justice?

Early Church Christians
Christians were told by the Apostles that they must not sue each other in secular courts, but that they needed to go to the Church Elders to settle their civil disputes.
The Roman governors of the day began to appoint the Early Church Bishops to positions as judges, because of their reputation for integrity and high moral ethics. Rome became very insecure because their court systems became corrupt and the only way to correct this was for the Roman authorities to appoint godly men as the administrators of justice.
Impacting society
In England, we saw statesmen, like William Wilberforce – who led the fight to abolish slavery. Christians such as Lord Shaftsbury were also involved with correcting child labour abuses. Christians brought about reform to insane asylums, they worked in prisons and had a great impact on every level of society.
Christians established thousands of missions around the world including orphanages, schools, hospitals and medical clinics. Christians have led the way in bringing literacy and modern sanitation to multiplied millions of people around the world. All these reforms were brought about by social action of godly men. Many leaders in Africa received their basic education from missionaries and church schools.
Become involved!
We, as Christians, need to be in government. Here are some simple ways of getting involved:

Pray every day for South Africa and its leaders.
Be informed regarding where the various parties stand on moral/Biblical issues
Select, elect and actively support godly men and women, who are prepared to stand for public office.
Vote on every Election Day – whether municipal or national.
Download your free Biblical Voter’s Guide from and share it with others   

CHARL VAN WYK is involved in Africa Christian Action as well as an author and radio presenter. For more information visit: