Friday in Ohio

Quiet first part of the morning working on some calendar work and planning up to the end of June, 2014. Then out to visit someone who lost a 13 year old just after Christmas. A family I am close to. A coffee at a local coffee shop owned by a Christian – as good as Starbucks in the small town of Bellville, Ohio. Then in to Mount Vernon to meet with a young guy who I have grown to appreciate. Pastor Bill and I visited with him as we brought him from the stone age into the Apple age – his first Apple iPhone and iPad. The start of a major learning curve.

Then a visit with a guy who dropped into the pastor’s home regarding a healing ministry. Then, I had opportunity to learn a few things regarding my own Apple products – things that will help immensely with my work and with my administrator working with me. Technology is wonderful. As we were driving to and from we planned some of the events that will take place during my next visit and other church family things were shared as we drove through the beautiful rolling hills of Ohio.

As this blog is published I will be in an elders and wife supper meeting. We do this meeting every visit and it is a great night. Food, fun, fellowship and an opportunity to share what I have seen and sense prophetically about the local church here. So, a good night but a work evening as well.

Starting tomorrow I will be working a little with The River but mainly with Overcomers Church in Mount Vernon as well as The Upper Room in Mount Vernon, New Life in Orrville, Ohio as well as Apex Church in Marion, Ohio. I will be meeting with the senior leader of the Marion Christian Centre during next week as well. We have not met although I have ministers to a member of his staff. This will, I am sure, open the door to ministering in their church on my next time in Ohio.

Please continue to pray. greatly appreciated.

Thursday in Ohio

Last night we had a great young leaders meeting – a supper and major discussion. There were about a dozen in attendance (full house) and after a great time of fellowship and a terrific meal we headed for the coffee pot and the front room. I came with a teaching but opened it up first to questions – especially questions about Sunday night and our presbytery. Say no more. For the next 90 minutes we had our bibles out and were discussing prophecy, presbytery, apostles and prophets, the Antioch Church model of Acts 13… A GREAT night with great people and terrific leaders.

Today – a bit slower. An appointment for lunch with a prophetic parishioner who has asked for time with me on each visit so far and was never scheduled in. Then mid-afternoon an appointment with a man who just last month lost his 13 year old son burying him just as the Christmas season was ending. Then an elders meeting in the evening – current elders and and elders-in-training at the same meeting. A full day but a slightly slower day.

Your continued prayer support is very much appreciated and really important. The schedule is really full but we are still managing to add an item or two – squeeze another person or another event in. It causes a bit of stress in the sense there is little time for anything else but it is important to serve God’s people and the leaders while here. Please pray specifically for:
The River of Life Community Church in Butler
Overcomers Christian Church in Mount Vernon
The Upper Room in Mount Vernon
New Hope in Orrville
Apex Church in Marion
Marion Christian Centre in Marion

Your part in this ministry is very important.

Christians Need to Choose

“Christians are like manure. If you put them in a heap for too long, they begin to stink. But if you spread them out, they fertilize and become fruitful.”

My how true that is – how very true. And God is in the process of shovelling ‘poop’ and spreading us out so that we no longer linger and stink but move out into all the world and influence people. We have always been meant to be fertilizer, salt, light, and life to those who live in darkness with death and disease. We were never meant to live our faith out in front of other believers. We have always been asked to live our faith walk out in public so others could see the night and day difference that Jesus has and is making in our lives. This is why Jesus sent His Church into all the world.

So, are you following The Lord and allowing Him to “spread you out” or are you simply staying huddled with other believers? If you are in a ‘holy huddle’ and not out on the field playing then you have missed the whole point of being left here on the planet after you were saved. If it is all about being safe and secure and enjoying fellowship with Jesus and others then He would have simply taken you home to Heaven when you were born again. There you could enjoy Him without the distraction of sin, temptation, sickness, disease, and the attack of demonic darkness.

But, we are left here not so we stay piled high with others raising a stink in the Church. The Christian faith was never meant to be safe, comfortable or secure huddling with others who believe what you believe. Following Jesus was meant to be dangerous, radical, uncomfortable, and world-changing. You are suppose to be a world changer. As you are sent out – spread out – you have impact and begin to fertilize your neighbourhood, community, city, region, country and the world for Jesus.

So, if things kind of stink at the moment in your walk with Jesus – it might be time to allow The Lord to spread you out in your neighbourhood so that you can love your neighbour and influence them for the Kingdom.

Wednesday in Ohio

It has been an amazing 5 days so far. Meetings, services, appointments, time with my mentor, time mentoring others whom I am relating to down here in Ohio. Today (Wednesday) I am on my way to Columbus to meet with a group of senior pastors. I was last with them in the fall of 2013 and they are meeting this morning and have invited me to attend. It is a “business meeting” as they plan some joint things together (youth camp, leaders retreat…) and then a fellowship lunch at a restaurant. It will be good to touch base with all of them again and to hear their hearts about what they believe the Holy Spirit is about to do.

Then over to an Apple store before coming back. For two guys (my mentor and I) this is like two kids in a candy store. Never mind – it’s fun. Then an evening with the young discipleship group here at The River in Butler, Ohio. This is a group I attend every opportunity I have. It is an amazing group of leaders being raised up and released to minister – some are already preaching, others teach various groups in the life of the church, others are still just beginning. Great group of couples and singles from The River Community Church.

Please continue to pray. The schedule is filling up fast and we will soon need to be saying “no” to those wanting one-on-one time. There is always many additions to the basic schedule I receive before arriving and that is stilll the case this time. Every day is full from get up to lay down. Thanks for being a part of what God is doing here in 6 churches in Ohio…

One Page At a Time

I have had several prophetic words about writing a book … and before I could get at working towards fulfilling that word I received several more prophetic words about writing books. Not that plural. It went from one book being mentioned several times to numerous books being mentioned over and over again.

At first I simply complained. I mean, I really like to cooperate with what the Lord speaks over my life but I was already going full tilt trying to do all He had spoken previous to receiving these many words about my budding writing career. How could I add more to an already very full plate? Was there something God wanted me to remove from that overflowing plate of ministry and family life? Was I doing some good things He had asked me to do – but doing them in the wrong way and thus wasting time? I just didn’t know. And so, I just didn’t get around to writing the books or even the book.

A few months ago I was flying to California to minister and the Lord quietly spoke to me and said, “You know, writing a book is as much ministry as prophesying over people or teaching my Word from the pulpit of a local church.” Now, maybe that was obvious to you but it was apparently not all that obvious to me at the time. In hindsight it seems I was thinking that these words spoken over me about writing book-books was sort of an add-on or extra if I had time during a busy ministry schedule. Now I was seeing that it was a ministry – not an add-on. And, as important as each and every other ministry I was involved in. And, if that was not enough, I realized that because I had heard the Word numerous times it should probably be high on my priority list of ministry activities.

Of course being the super-spiritual man of paste and flour that I am I didn’t go any further with the thinking. I simply got further involved in already existing ministry demands and opportunities. So, here I am in Ohio and up to my eyebrows in activities – services, meetings, meals, appointments, planning, discussions… and at the end of day four I am stretched out somewhat exhausted and I am flipping through a book that I have no interest in reading… simply a reflex action of an a avid reader – I pick up books and look at what they are about. Here is what I read about one of my really favourite authors:

The author writes, “I love the story of John Grisham. He was an attorney and a state legislator but always wanted to be an author. Obviously he was busy, full-time and more. But with a dream of writing a novel, he got up a little earlier each day and wrote one page. Within a few years, he had ‘A Time to Kill: A Novel.’ He has sold more than 100 million books since then, but it all started by not being too lazy to write just one page a day.”

I stand convicted. I plan to write starting today!

Ohio – Early Monday

Yesterday was a blast. Service in the morning at The River Church in Butler. I preached on The Journey which is their theme at the present time (see picture). Then the Holy Spirit had me call for all those who were sick and in need of a healing. The line stretched from one side of the sanctuary to the other. Powerful time of ministry. Then the Spirit had me call for all those who were struggling with relationships … marriage, friendship, children. Again, many came to the front.

In the afternoon I helped a young worship team member with a school project on the nation of Turkey as I had a little first hand experience with the nation having spent 8 days there last year. Then in the evening there was a prophetic presbytery. Everyone who attended signed up and were assigned a group. I lead one, the pastor a second one, the pastor’s oldest son (and regular preacher at the church), and Linda (a prophet from the Celina, Ohio area). Each team had about 30 people to prophesy over. I taught on the prophetic and then the ministry time began immediately.

I worked with Paul – a retired dentist and elder at The River and two teens who are both developing their prophetic giftings. Powerful 4 hours of ministry. I was tired when it was all done.

Today – morning meeting with the youth worker from The River. Lunch and the afternoon with Ryan who pastors Apex Church in Marion, Ohio. The evening is a supper meeting with the deacons and wives from The River. Another full day.

Your prayers for the people and churches I am working with are greatly appreciated. You would love what the Lord is doing here in so many lives.

Do People Understand You?

Have you listened to yourself recently? Christians have a language all our own. We understand each other but others who do not share our beliefs are having trouble grasping what we are saying and sharing. So, sharing the Gospel and telling others about Jesus becomes difficult because when we were saved we learned a new vocabulary, took on a new lifestyle, and somehow slowly forgot how to speak so we can be understood.

Add to that the changing culture that we live in where words are actually changing meanings – “Paul was stoned” did not mean that he was high on drugs. So, to communicate effectively we need to study and understand the “tribe” we are working to reach with the Gospel and especially understand their lifestyle and the ‘language’ they speak. This is not always as easy as it would first sound.

One author writes: “The insider language believers used made no sense to me. Is “fellowship” some sort of cruise? Why are guys I’ve never met suddenly calling me “brother” and giving me long hugs in public when no one has died? What in the world is a “quiet time”? Is it like when you get busted as a kid and have to sit in the corner? Who the heck are “Hallelujah” and “Amen,” and will somebody find them so everyone will stop yelling for them?”

A funny way to say that we need to be in serious contact with those we are trying to reach with the good news understanding the way they speak, think, and live. Then change the way we communicate so that we actually do communicate – expressing the unchanging message of salvation in new ways. Remember, the message does not change but our methods (and words) need to. Give it some thought.

On My Way – First Trip of 2014

I am on the road again. It has been good to be home for six weeks just ministering locally in Saskatchewan. Nice to be with your family and in your own home each night – even if arriving home really late some nights. Always good to be home.

However, part of the call of being an apostle means being trans-local and thus travelling to various places to minister. I am on my way to Ohio. This is one of three regular visits a year I do to this area of the world. This year there may be other trips added as the number of churches I am working with is growing as I build relationally with more and more pastors and leaders. God has graciously opened some wonderful doors for me to minister as an apostle in Ohio.

Today I am traveling the “milk run.” To save costs I fly the cheapest way possible so as not to waste the limited funds we work with here at Ralph Howe MInistries. I am flying Regina to Chicago, Chicago to Washington, then Washington to Columbus, Ohio. Exactly 12 hours in motion if everything connects and weather cooperates.

Please pray – for the 14 days I am away, the people I will be ministering to in five different churches, the leaders I will meet and minister to, as well as the wonderful people I stay with – Bill and Cathy Lewis of The River Church in Butler, Ohio.

Thanks for being a part of this ministry…

Living Out of Repentance, Rest, and Trust

In Isaiah 30:15 God is speaking to His people and He says to them, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”

Now this just goes against everything we, as human being, think and believe. It is counter-intuitive, part of the upside-down Kingdom that we belong to as born again believers. I ask myself: “What does it mean to have God as my strength?” And if God is strong, “How do I arrange my life so I’m living out of a place of repentance, rest, and trust?” As I look at the state of the Church – at least in the areas where I am privileged to minister – I simply want to jump in an work harder and fix things. You know, teach God’s Word, pour new foundations, adjust the church’s DNA so it includes winning the lost, introducing the five-fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. I am impatient, overly concerned, desperately wanting to see churches change and the power and presence of God evident at each event.

But all of that and so much more is dependent upon me living my life out of a place of repentance, rest and trust. And to lie out of this “place” I need to first slow down enough to enter into this place. Right? And, that’s not always easy in our busy personal worlds of home, work, and play. But, as difficult as it may be I believe that The Lord wants us to learn how to arrange life in such a way that we live it out of a place of repentance, rest, and trust.

You see, the true avenue to salvation and strength is learning how to truly trust in The Lord, rest in The Lord, and place our confidence in Him. And, I am afraid that, as believers, we are placing our trust and confidence in so many other things – programs, leaders, the church, our knowledge of the Scriptures, our personal skills and abilities to name just a few. Because of this we are building a house that the big bad wolf can easily blow down. A house built on the sand and not on the Rock. A house that the cares and worries of this life can quickly topple. A personal house – your personal life – and the church as a house of God. Neither can or will survive the onslaught of the forces of the world, the flesh and the devil.

So, in my own personal life I am learning in fresh, new ways (and at a greater depth) to trust in The Lord, rest in Him, and place my confidence only in Him and nothing else or no-one else. This is one of my first spiritual goats for this new year of 2014. It is not a simply decision not a once-only experience. I believe this is a journey I am on for the next few months if not most of this current new year. But, I need, once again, to come to that place of rest and trust and confidence to become all I am to be and to enjoy Him to the fullest as I go about fulfilling what He has asked me to accomplish with Him and in His Name.

Where are you at with The Lord right now? Honestly now! And are you working from a place of trust, rest, and confidence in Him?

Secure Your Own Mask

Riding on a commercial airliner – which I will be doing on Friday – always reminds me of the importance of taking care of my personal spiritual life regardless of what is happening around me – the emergencies, the stresses, the demands, the expectations.
As you strap yourself into the seat prior to takeoff, the cabin crew reviews the important safety procedures. In the event that the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will appear. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your own mask first, then assist the other person.

Christians should apply this important “emergency” information to their own spiritual lives. You will have the continual responsibility while traveling throughout life to help others who require some assistance. The needs and burdens of believers are real and we are all called to bear one another’s burdens and to offer a helping hand. The needs of non-believers and even new believers are also very real and these people also need a helping hand – assistance in an emergency. For them, and many, life if a constant emergency.

The needs and burdens are literally never-ending. However, if the needs become our focus and we fail to “secure our own oxygen mask first” we will be of little value to those around us who need our assistance. So, that leads to my question: “Are you securing your own mask so that you are then ready to help others?” Ministry is not just the task of the leaders or your pastor. Every believer is called to be a minister. Paul tells us that “we are ministers of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). And so every one of us must be ready spiritually, mentally, and emotionally to minister when called upon to do so. However, if we fail to “secure our own oxygen mask first” we will not be able to effectively minister to others – assisting them to place the oxygen mask over their face as directed.

This morning when you awoke and began preparations for your day – was time with The Lord in your morning routine along with a shower and brushing your teeth? Tonight when preparing for bed will a time of refreshing in the presence of The Lord be part of your bed time routine? We must be prepared and have our own spiritual oxygen mask in place and working if we ever hope to be of any help to others who are carrying great burdens.

Just a thought as we begin 2014…