Moral Truth

As moral truth becomes relative, moral lines become adjustable. And so we are seeing the change in morality as we alter the truth and believe a lie. We are seeing this in almost every aspect of life – education, economy, government, family, and even the Church. The Church is often seen as the guardian of moral truth. But, today many in society are ignoring the Church and forming their own truth and thus their own morality. They are determining what is right or wrong. And, the Church is becoming more and more ignorant of biblical truth in spite of the number of churches and the wide sweep of biblical teachings available today on television, radio, and the internet… not to mention the many local churches that dot the landscape.

It is good to remember in this post-Christian culture we are witnessing today that the Church is always vulnerable to the culture shaping “truth” more than “God’s truth” shaping culture. And, I believe that this is exactly the place we are in today. The culture is influencing the Church and thus we see and hear less and less absolute truth coming from those who lead the churches as well as those who follow the leaders. Those who call themselves disciples of Jesus are often indistinguishable from those who do not follow Him.

I work with young people in many nations and I am excited about what I see. I see in the younger generations a group of young men and women who are hungry for real biblical truth. They want to wrestle with real questions about real life. This is true of young people who are believers as well as those who have yet to make a decision to follow Jesus.

These young people are looking for committed and sold-out older people who can disciple and mentor them. They are not finding them. Oh, they exist. But, they are so busy with other things that they are failing to influence and thus impact the younger generation. We need to take the example of Paul the apostle to heart. He was always discipling and mentoring the younger generation – Timothy, Titus, Silas to name just a few. We need to invest our time wisely instead of wasting it on so many projects, programs, and people who really don’t want to change or get better.

And, for those of use who are discipling and mentoring the younger generation we need to become technologically savvy.  Technology will continue to shape how we tell Jesus’ story and how we help people to follow Jesus. Likely, more people will tell their own story since everyone has a “broadcast studio” in their mobile device. Furthermore, the Church will be less and less defined by its four walls and more by its mobile app and how it connects digitally.

There is a need to face the reality of the world today and adjust our ways so as to continue to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to individuals who are looking for absolute moral truth. It is only found in the written Word and can only be successfully applied in life by having a dynamic and daily relationship with the Living Word – Jesus.

Born to Save

As we approach a very important time of the year …

The celebration of the birth of Jesus – whom we love, worship, and serve

I want to spend the short time we have together between now and then looking at various aspects of the birth of Jesus and the events surrounding that world-changing birth

Just to hopefully keep us focused a little on what is really important during this season

And, to remind us what Christmas is really all about and what was truly and permanently accomplished by the birth of a baby in Bethlehem Read more

God’s Power

The Church was birthed in power. Jesus spoke to His disciples and said: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be My witnesses…” (Acts 1:8). This power first came on the Day of Pentecost as seen in Acts, Chapter 2. This instantly allowed them to move out of the prayer room they had been in and witness about Jesus using the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This was the first day of the Church – it’s birthday. This power continued to be seen throughout the book of Acts and is also seen in each Church that was birthed during the ministry of the early Church, the ministry of the original apostles, and obviously it was seen in the ministry of Paul (example: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Today we often make excuses for the lack of power in our lives as disciples. However, God is bigger than our excuses, our inadequaced, and lack of ability or resources.

In the story of Gideon in the Old Testament God calls him and asks him to do something really outside his comfort zone as well as beyond his abilities. Gideon, from the start, has one reason after another for not doing what the Lord God was asking him to do. And, he didn’t hide the issues from God. He was bluntly and blatantly honest. “I am weak. In am the least. I am not cut out for this. I have no idea what I am doing.” And God was not bothered in the least.

God replied, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive” (Judges 6:16). Over the next couple of chapters, God seemed determined to prove how little Gideon’s weaknesses mattered. He even reduced the size of Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300 just to make the odds a little more interesting. Then God used those 300 warriors to rout an innumerable, impossible army.

Never once in the story does God appeared frustrated with Gideon’s lack of ability or manpower. We don’t see God demanding that Gideon work out the details by himself, with his own logic and resources. We actually see the opposite. In stages Gideon took on the courage and character of the God who called him. Gideon’s excuses didn’t change God’s mind. God’s empowerment eliminated Gideon’s excuses.

In this story Gideon’s claim to fame is not his leadership style, his motivational ability, or his military prowess, although each of these was eventually developed in Gideon’s life. It’s his faith, slow starting as it was. He was ultimately willing to believe and obey God. That is what God wants from us as well today. Not incredible strength. God already has that. Not our own natural power. His is greater and supernatural. He just wants us to have simply faith in Him. To be willing to obey Him because we believe Him.

In Mark 16, Jesus has given His last instructions to His disciples (apostles)… summarized – He tells them to go into their world and confront the darkness. He ascends into heaven. Then, amazingly, they actually do what He has asked them to do. They stand up and step out in faith (Mark 16:20) and, because they do, God shows up as promised and shows off .. .working with them to confirm their message.

So, today if we will stand up and step out in faith He will show up and show off demonstrating His power through us who are born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit. Those upon whom the Holy Spirit has come.

 

The Lost,The Least, The Last

The Church is called to seek and save the lost. This is why Jesus came from Heaven and became one of us. Luke 19:10, Jesus states, “I came to seek and save the lost.” And, as His Body, the Church, here and now we are called to continue His work and even bring it to completion. He said to the early Church, “Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Same thing. Same mandate. And, it is the duty of every true disciple of Jesus to be going into their world and fishing for the lost (Matthew 4:19). Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” So, if we are not fishing we are simply not following. We are, however, deceiving ourselves. Something to think about as we begin the Christmas season 2016.

The Wise Men came and asked the ruler of Judea, “Where is He that was born king…” Why did they ask Herod this? Because they expected that the king of Israel would have been born in a palace. But, He wasn’t. Jesus, the rightful heir to the throne of Israel, quietly entered the world in a stable on the outskirts of little Bethlehem, beneath notice of the wealthy, the educated, and the elite. His arrival was not completely ignored or unnoticed, however.

Luke2:8-12 “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Shepherds were the social outcasts of their day, a necessary yet ostracized caste without whom the temple could not function. While they tended the animals required for ritual sacrifice, the conscientious Jew – ever concerned with purity – spurned shepherds as too unclean to stand among other worshippers. Imagine the reception a dirty migrant worker would receive at the door of a sophisticated country club, and you will understand where the shepherds ranked in Hebrew society.

While the rich and powerful in Jerusalem formed factions, alternately resisting and sweet-talking the Romans, blissfully unaware of the momentous event taking place in the countryside, angels appeared to the people most likely to understand what was happening. Imagine how the outcast shepherds felt when they heard that the King’s palace was a stable and His cradle was a feeding trough. At last, they had a King who shared their low station, who would care about the things that mattered to them. Perhaps this King would value His subjects more than conquests and the acquisition of more and more wealth.

Right from the start Jesus, the King born in Bethlehem in a lowly stable, made the world aware of the fact that He came for the lost, the least, and the last. And that only the humble would find Him. But, more important for us today; He was making it very clear that our work for Him is to take the Good News of His birth, life and ministry, death, and resurrection to those today who are the lost, the least, and the last.

How you doing this special time of the year with the task that Jesus gave you to accomplish for Him and in His Name and power?

 

Performing, Pretending, and Pleasing

Believers need to know who they are “in Christ.” The Bible states that when we are born again we becomes “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But, when we have not taken the time to discover who we are “in Christ” then we live life insecure and lacking confidence in who we really are. We spent time proving ourselves (see yesterday’s blog) and justifying our behaviour. Worse, we live in insecurity and try to be who others want us to be living up to other’s expectations and demands. This results in us wasting our lives posing, pretending, posturing, performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving ourselves. Yet, in doing all of these things, we will never find our real self.

Recently Bob Dylan won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. This is a man who is well known and highly respected by many. But, this is not really who he was. He changed his named many years ago. He was born and raised as Robert Zimmerman and later, when people began to be drawn to his music and poetry , changed is name to Bob Dylan. However, changing his name didn’t change who he was. Inside he is still Robert Zimmerman or maybe not. Maybe inside he has internal titles and names that he calls himself… that define who he really is.

We all see ourselves as different than the person we present to the world regardless of our known name. Maybe we have not changed our name – maybe we have. But regardless of what we call ourselves and who we present ourselves to be to the world nothing changes inside. We have names we call ourselves inside – failure, stupid, idiot, inadequate, fool, jerk, victim, socially unacceptable, unloved, rejected, insecure… and on and on the names go. And, in spite of our inner self-image we rename ourselves on the outside and thus waste our lives posing, pretending, posturing, performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving ourselves to others.

To end this vicious and pointless cycle of pretending and putting on a mask we need to take the time to visit inside ourselves. As born again believers we need to invite the Holy Spirit to show us who we really are as a child of God. We need to discover who we are “in Christ.” We need to discover that Jesus calls us His friend; that in God’s sight we are ‘the beloved;’ that we are a child of God; the ‘apple of His eye;’ and that we are accepted and forgiven.

We need to discover what God thinks about us and then, with that foundation, dig and find out who we are “in Christ.” Once we know that we are loved unconditionally and that His love will never change we can then have the courage to dig into who we are and why we do what we do… with His help, of course. Then we will begin to discover the real “me” and even have the courage to boldly change how you live and how you express the real you to those you relate to. Only then will you not worry about being rejected by others because you will deeply know the acceptance of Jesus who created you.

So, it is time to stop wasting our lives posing, pretending, posturing, performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving ourselves. It is time to discover the real you and learn to express who you really are so that the world can discover the wonderful “you” that God created without all the masks we tend to wear to protect ourselves. It is hard work – but it is seriously worth the effort.

Russia – November 2016

6kqqafjswdyRalph had the honour of ministering in the city of Yaroslavl, Russia in early November, 2016. He worked with the leaders and people of “God’s Church” (godschurch.ru) and several of their sister churches in cities near Yaroslavl. He ministered on prophetic evangelism during the church’s 25th anniversary weekend celebrations. They are working to reach out even more and more to their city with the love of Jesus as they move into a new season of ministry.

On the Sunday he ministered in three different churches in three different cities.

On Monday he met with church leaders from a number of nations and then, in the evening, ministered to a large group of approximately 75 business people.

Tuesday through Thursday he was at a youth conference out in the country at a conference center where there was no heat and no hot water for the duration of the youth conference. It didn’t hamper anyone involved. It was an amazing conference with 350 young people in attendance. The theme was “Don’t Miss Your Miracle.”

Thursday night he ministered to an evening service back in the city of Yaroslavl where those in attendance are all recovering addicts.

Friday he met with some local business men to prophesy over their business ventures and answer questions and then ministered at a massive Friday evening service for youth … leaving afterwards for a five hour drive into Moscow and his flights back to North America.

Ralph will be returning to the city of Yaroslavl and God’s Church in February, 2017 where he will be teaching his “Walking In the Supernatural” seminar and ministering at a number of local churches.

Butler, Ohio – November 2016

Ralph continues to work with the elders and leaders of The River Community Church in Butler, Ohio. Ralph is one of two apostolic overseers for this vibrant local church in the town of Butler, Ohio. During the senior leader’s three month sabbatical Ralph has been preaching and ministering on a weekend each month and working with the elders and staff members during this season of change and transition.

Ralph has been connected to The River Church for over five years and has watched as this church rediscovered its roots and began to change to move forward into its future. God is truly present in this local assembly and lives have been and are being touched and changed on a regular basis.

During his time there each trip he also meets with a number of young men from other towns and cities that he is mentoring and building solid, long-term relationships with. And, recently he has been honoured to connect with a series of house churches in the area where he will be ministering in January, 2017 during his first trip to The River in the new year.

Ralph’s next trip is scheduled for mid-December 2016 when he will be involved in a number of important meetings with leaders and elders as plans continue to be formed for the new season and the new year at The River.

Yulia Nemishev

Dear Pastor Ralph,
You do not know me but I still decided to email you and just thank you for that precious God’s word you shared with the young people during the youth conference in YaroslavI, Russia, in the beginning of November. Read more

Who Are You Trying To Impress?

We do so many things simply to impress others. There is always, it seems, a temptation to prove yourself to others and impress them. To prove that we are better, stronger, smarter, better equipped, and wealthier. This tendency and need to impress and prove yourself starts early in life and is a result of not knowing who we are in Christ and thus not finding our sense of value and worth in Him. True freedom from having to impress others and prove yourself better or superior than others only comes when you realize that you actually have nothing to prove to anyone, because in Christ, God fully approves of you.

This, of course, assumes that you have more than a born again religion – and actually have a personal relationship with Christ that is the true foundation of any experience of personal salvation. Then we have security within this relation and confidence in who He has created and equipped us to be and become. This arises out of our assurance of His unconditional love … love with no strings attached. A love that never changes regardless of what we are doing or how we are feeling. This deep assurance leads to a confidence in Him and in who He created us to be. This confidence gives us a boldness to live life without having to impress others and having to prove we have whatever it takes.

What are you trying to prove? To whom? Why?

Trying to prove anything to anyone is a waste of time. That’s a bold statement, but it is true. If the people you are out to impress already love you, then it is a waste of time because you are already valued and accepted by them. And if they don’t love you, then it is a waste of time, because even if you win their approval, what have you gained? If their love is something that you have to earn, they don’t really love you. Their “love” lacks any sense of value or worth.

But, there is a pressure to live up to other people’s arbitrary and often unexpressed expectations and standards. Right? How do you get rid of this natural tendency to play to the expectations of others? Simply by knowing that God loves you for who you are right now and that you don’t need to impress anyone … Instead, you need to just be who God created you to be and be the best you that you can be for Him. Play to an audience of One.

Recently a pastor commented: “Recently God gave me a thought that was so liberating. As I was preparing to minister to a group of people, worrying about how I would come across and if I would live up to their ideals, it was as if the Lord said to me: “I didn’t bring you here to meet their expectations. I brought you here to be My expression.” That expressed what I was feeling…

Our only goal, no matter what we are doing, is to be a faithful reflection of His image in us. That is all we can do. And that’s enough.

So, don’t try to prove your superiority or show off your abilities. Stop trying to impress others. Simply be yourself and reflect Jesus who lives in you.

Values of a New Testament Church

On my Sundays with you we have been looking at the Church Jesus is building

Foundation is who you think Jesus is / “Who do you say that I am?”

The “you” is plural… so who we think Jesus is as a church determines the church that will be built here

We limit or release Jesus to build His Church here in this location Read more