Be Fruitful and Multiply

God wants us to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). Jesus states in John, Chapter 15, that we are to bear fruit, much fruit, and eternal fruit. Faithful is good. Faithful and fruitful is better. After all, when you go fishing you plan on catching fish. Why would you go otherwise. So, as I travel from place to place I expect to see people saved, healed, delivered, and begin the journey of discipleship. On a return visit I expect this new believer and disciple to have gone into his world and reproduced – being fruitful.

Our God is a God of multiplication. Multiplication is a fact of nature. If you were to count the kernels on a healthy stalk of corn you would find there are about 1,200 kernels in this first generation. Do you know that by the next generation should you plant those kernels there will be one million, four hundred and forty thousand kernels of corn? In the same way, healthy cells in the human body multiply and result in the body growing. A living cell is in a state of constant activity.

The Church in the Book of Acts multiplied rapidly because they understood the value of believers meeting in homes in ‘spiritual family relationships.’ The Bible staters that “they met daily house-to-house” (Acts 2:46) They functioned in close relationship with each other. The healthy activity and interdependence resulted in healthy growth for the early Church. Those who were not saved noticed this different and more loving lifestyle of the believers and joined the Church. Those who were part of the life of the Church stayed and became actively involved because they saw how real the love was and how lives were being transformed.

Of course, for a grain of corn to produce 30 – 60 – 100 fold it must first die and be buried. No problem. We are dead to self and alive in Christ. Even our baptism in water by immersion symbolized this dying, burial, and resurrection to new life. Of course, if this death and resurrection is simply Bible theory and not a reality in the life of the believers – those who make up a local assembly – then there won’t be this massive multiplication and increase that the early Church experienced and we long for on a regular basis.

So, maybe it is time to present ourselves in the altar as a living sacrifice” and stop crawling off and away to do our won thing. Maybe. Just maybe. Time to die.

News of my current apostolic trip to Armenia can be found on Ralph Howe Ministries Facebook page

Changes in the “Wind”

Thinking about new wine and the need for new wineskins. Things are changing so quickly in our society today that the upcoming generations are looking for both new wine and new wineskins. Changes are not just more frequent – they are also more radical than they have ever been before. Those of us who want to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches in the midst of this rapid change need to keep our ears tuned constantly to what is going on. Business as usual is no longer working.

To capture the heart of the younger generation and those of my generation who want more of God than the current church is offering – will require new wine and thus new wineskins. New wineskins are continually needed to accommodate the believers who do not fit into the current church structures but are hungry to experience God and have a real and vital relationship with Him. House churches, I believe, will help to restore the simplicity of the New Testament church to the contemporary church and allow many to encounter God and become born again and then experience God on a regular, even daily, basis.

As I survey the Kingdom in the nations where I work and relate I see that new wineskins are emerging so rapidly that often both leaders and people are getting used to living with not just one new wineskin at a time, but with a variety of new wineskins. One of the most interesting movements that can be classified as a new wineskin, although not really all that new, is the house church movement. We are mostly familiar with community churches. Then over the past twenty years we have seen the rise of mega-churches. However, from the very first days of the church (Acts 2) house churches were the norm. For the first several hundred years of the Christian movement, all churches were house churches. And now, for a growing number of the new generation, house churches, not the traditional church, will most likely draw them to God.

I am not speaking negatively of community churches or mega-churches. I believe these two forms of church still play an important role today in the kIngdom. Why? Because one size doesn’t fit all. Just as people prefer different kinds of cars and different kinds of toothpaste and different kinds of homes, the same people will be won to Christ in different kinds of churches.

However, I do believe that house churches will be the most effective bases for evangelism in the years to come. And winning the lost is the only real mandate of the Christian church so we need to focus on what will accomplish the task most effectively and efficiently. I say this because, of all the different kinds of churches, house churches are the most flexible and will be most closely attached to the marketplace.

News of my current apostolic trip to Armenia can be found on Ralph Howe Ministries Facebook page

Do You Need Committed?

Guest Blogger: Bill Lewis – apostle and leader of The River of Life Community Church in Butler, Ohio.

As I continue to read articles and books by current Christian authors of several backgrounds, a common theme is found on the hearts of the writers. It is the lack of commitment and dedication to the kingdom of God.

In the western cultures, we think being a Christian is easy. We have dressed it in therapeutic phrases so it looks like Christianity is a self-help religion to make people feel better about themselves, or improve their self image, or get help with a failing marriage. We have promoted a faith style that is about living the good life. The greatest hardships we face are something like, “you got religion,” “you are a Jesus freak,” “you are weak and need religion?” Or we just get marginalized as being irrelevant.

In many countries being a Christian is a big deal. It might cost you your life. The meetings would be underground and fear of discovery might be there as you worship. You might only have pieces of the Bible and to be seen with one would bring danger. In some countries, you are not a real Christian until you have been baptized.

Meanwhile, western cultures pay little attention to the many martyrs that give their life for Christ. The number was near 200,000 last year. There is something about Jesus in their hearts that makes him first, his kingdom first.

We have made our walk with the Lord, optional and convenient to us. The Barna Group which does research into trends and influences, says that western Christians considered themselves to be committed if they attend church twice a month. You cannot build anything with that kind of commitment. Businesses would fail quickly with that kind of effort and program. The schools demand more commitment than the church. Our sports programs have become the new tabernacles of worship. We pay the priests of this religion millions of dollars to throw a ball. The retiree’s have Halls of Fame located around the country. We have little boys and girls who can quote sports facts and do not know one verse of scripture.

I am not talking about the world, I am talking about the western church of which the USA is a part of.
Well known, nationally influential pastors are all writing of this lack of commitment. There are and have been movements within the church that are expressing philosophies that make the Christian walk one of total, personal involvement. They vilify the gatherings of the church, talk about me and Jesus, and totally lose sight of the kingdom. While there is a personal element, working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling; there is also the corporate, kingdom side that says that Jesus came to build his church and kingdom. There is a strong governmental side to the faith as well. If there is a king, there is a kingdom. And if there is a kingdom, there will be rulership.

If I am only committed to myself, I have no concept of the corporeity of the kingdom of God. How could I be prepared to rule and reign with him if I never submit or connect with the kingdom principles. How are you going to exist in the kingdom of Jesus when he rules with a rod of iron?

The Lord wants us to see a bigger picture than ME. One of the scariest scriptures for me is the one where people say they prophesied and healed in the name of Jesus, and his response is to depart from me (Jesus), I never knew you. These were moving and shaking things. What will be said of those who were about ME and not the purposes of Jesus? We need to re-think commitment.

Jesus’ Words to Peter

Jesus, in one of His resurrection appearances to peter, spoke to Peter about his ministry. We all want Jesus to speak to us about what He is calling us to do and how it is He wants us to accomplish things for Him. However, at the same time in the same conversation Peter is told about his death (John 21:15-19).

Today, many want to hear about their future and what ministry God is calling them to accomplish in His Name. However, they don’t want to hear, obviously, about how they will die. However, to accomplish anything for Jesus we all need to die. Die to self. Die to our agenda. Die to our dreams. maybe even die to comfort, security, and safety. Robert Coleman, someone who has written about and been involved in evangelism now for decades and who teaches it at a seminary in the United States … was taking some of his doctorate students to a church in Singapore to see cross-cultural ministry firsthand. There they went to a local church pastored by Dr. Edmund Chan. He had started the church about 30 years ago with 17 people, and it has grown to almost 4.000 people. One student in the group asked, “Dr. Chan, what is the one thing you have to do to make disciples, just one word?” A typical student question.

Dr. Chan hesitated and paused for a moment and spoke one word, “Die.”

Unlike Peter we may never be told how we will die. But, to have any valid ministry for the Lord today we need, as Paul states, to “die to self.” Because, ministry is never about you, your ministry, your vision, your influence, your impact, your anything. It is all about Jesus. It is His ministry being accomplished through you. it is His will and His agenda that you are called to fulfill. It is His plan and His purpose for your life. He died on the cross and redeemed you. That means He “purchased” you and thus owns you. He is Lord (Master) and not just Savior. So, we are simply servants of the Lord doing what He tells us to do and He receives all the thanks and the glory. Because, it is all about Him and never about us.

One of my deep concerns today is the way believers demand so much from the Lord, from His Church, from His leaders – and yet give so little to the Lord and to His cause of seeking and saving the lost (Luke 10:19). If we want to be usable and available to the Lord we must learn to die to self and then remember that we are here to serve Him because it is all about Him. And, we must die daily (take up our cross daily – the cross being an instrument of death – Luke 9:23) because we are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) and tend to crawl off the altar and head back to our own ways and our own agenda.

God is looking for people today who are wanting to make a difference in their world and who are willing to give up everything, even life itself if necessary, to accomplish what He has called them to do. Are you one of those people?