June 2017 trip Southern Manitoba, Canada


Every month Ralph ministers in Southern Manitoba. His trips there have become more frequent and his stay during each trip is longer because of the increasing work that he is involved in there.

Ralph spends a good portion of his daytime hours mentoring leaders and potential leaders. Due to a major move of the Holy Spirit there are many new churches being planted and solid leadership is in short supply. Part of the calling on Ralph Howe Ministries is to “mentor leaders” and so Ralph spends a good deal of his time while there on this important task. And, there are a good number of very mature young leaders that the Lord has called who live in the area.

Evenings sees Ralph working with new house churches as well as ministering in more traditional and established churches in the area. During these services and meetings he is always aware that his task is to be “equipping people” and so he teaches to train and equip those in attendance to flow in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In the last 18 months Ralph has been taking others with him on his overseas apostolic ministry trips and a number of the young men from Southern Manitoba have shown an interest in going with him. So, he meets with them regularly as well, one-on-one as all ministry is relational and thus Ralph wants to know those he will be travelling with before the trip.

God is truly moving in Southern Manitoba in a fresh and refreshing manner. And, Ralph Howe Ministries is pleased to be playing a small part in what the Lord is intending to do.

The next trip is scheduled for May 31st to June 7th, 2017

Strasbourg, Saskatchewan May, 2017

Ralph and a team member had the privilege and tremendous honour to minister to a group of young people (Millennials) in the town of Strasbourg, Saskatchewan on May 8th, 2017. These young people meet weekly to fellowship and study the Bible. And, the deeply desire to hear from God and to know more about Him and His plans for their individual lives.

Following a time of fellowship we experienced a powerful time of worship leading to a rededication of our lives and a total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. Then Ralph was asked to share a little about his ministry including his work overseas. He shared briefly and then showed a video of the life-changing supernatural power of God as He touches the lives of drug addicts and brings them into healing, wholeness, and freedom.

Ralph then shared his personal testimony of healing, salvation, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This was followed by some very insightful questions being asked that revealed the deep hunger of these young people. Sharing from God’s Word then led to those present practicing the gift of prophecy by seeking a word from God for the person they were to minister to.

Then we spent some time ministering prophetically to a person who had just begun to attend. And, everyone got involved.

Afterwards, everyone shared some wonderful home cooking, coffee, and fellowship. Powerful night.

A Radical Life-Change

Paul the apostle when ministering in the City of Athens (Acts 17) had an amazing message. The centre point of his message was “the unknown is now known, and He is calling for a radical life-change” (Acts 17:30 The Message Version).

Paul is saying a number of things here. First, the things that were hidden for many centuries have now been revealed through the life and ministry of Jesus. As a result God now expects people to respond to the message of salvation and, when they do, to have a radical change in the way they see and live life.

The Christian faith is not simply a set of believes and a list of doctrines. it is an encounter with the living God and this experience will bring with it a new way to see life, a new perspective, and a new set of values and priorities. Life cannot and will not be the same when we encounter the love and forgiveness of the Living God as found only through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

When we encounter the love of God, His total and absolute forgiveness and His acceptance we literally become “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are transformed and changed from the inside out. First we experience a change in our heart, our attitude, our thoughts … and then this change begins to adjust and alter the way we see and live life. You simply cannot have a valid encounter with God and remain the same.

Not only is being born again and becoming a disciple of Jesus a life-changing experience. It is meant to be “radical.” The changes we undergo are not minor nor are they simply cosmetic. They begin deep in our soul and result in a change in the way we see ourselves. Our self-image, our self-worth, the way we value who we are all change and this is seriously radical. To discover who God created us to be and begin the live as this “new” person is simply radical.

This radical life-change means removing, with God’s help, all the religious trapping that have been imposed upon us. It means finding healing for the wounds and hurts of the past. It involves digging out from under the expectations and demands of life that are a result of family, friends, and the way we grew up.

Digging out from under everything that has buried the real you is hard work but rewarding. Discovering the real you is explosive. Expressing who you are becoming, this “new creature in Christ,” is an adventure and seriously radical. This is why Paul said, “the unknown is now known, and He is calling for a radical life-change” (Acts 17:30 The Message Version).

The Way

Jesus hates religion

He came to destroy religion in all of its aspects
He came to deliver us from the death grip of religion
He came to make THE WAY into Heaven
He came to make A WAY for us to be saved
He came to make A WAY for us to have a personal relationship with God now / forever
He came to show us that He is THE WAY…. Read more

Starting a Real Church

I am in the process of thinking through another church plant. In the past I have planted a number of churches – some worked and the occasional one did not survive. The methods we used might have worked then but I no longer believe they will work today. In fact, most “programs” and “evangelistic outreaches” no longer work because the culture has changed. Heck, the world has changed and the current culture in most nations requires a whole new approach – maybe a biblical approach.

As I read and research I am, of course, reading the four gospels to discover what Jesus did because He obviously completed His task and did everything the Father sent Him to do. And, if we are planting a church we need to do it His way because He clearly stated that “He will build His Church…” (Matthew 16:18-19).

There are three basic things Jesus did to establish His Church while ministering in Galilee…

1> Jesus hung with outsiders – all the time. I recently sat with a disgruntled Christian leader whose experience with “church” has not ever been a good one. But, he was telling me about a birthday party that he threw for himself – and charged people to come to. It was filled with friends, fun, family, and food. It was amazing when he told me some of the things that were available if you wanted them – like having a free tattoo compliments of the host whose birthday it was and who paid for a professional tattoo artist to come and be available for the whole day.

As he shared he came alive. It was obvious to me that this event was very meaningful to him. And, I was thinking, as he shared, that this is what Jesus would have done. He would have thrown a party and invited non-believers to come and have a good time. I think this man’s party more resembled Church as Jesus envisioned it than what goes on in most congregations on any given weekend.

Well, I can do that – join with some others in the town whose house would be the centre of activities as we begin the church plant – and throw a ton of parties and make space for anyone to belong with us. Don’t overthink it or worry about things. Just do it – all the time. Weekly gatherings of old friends and new friends, great food, celebrations, fun, meaningful conversations, and inquisitive questions about their lives. And just listen.

2> Secondly, Jesus blessed people. So, as we party, listen for needs, concerns, or situations where we could be of practical help – and then try and meet those specific needs within 48 hours. And, involve as many people in meeting the needs as possible so that everyone experiences how the Kingdom is suppose to work.

3> Jesus apparently created space for people to just be with God. Begin to add to the party time a bi-weekly meeting in the evening to simply meet, read Scripture, pray, and discuss. This, of course, is good for believers; but, it is also an easy invite to friends who are processing spiritual issues and are seeking for something – even if they don’t know the something is God.

These are fairly simple steps and are available for anyone to implement and work with. Any person in any context can implement these steps. There is little need to invest a lot of money. Little structure is required other than knowing and having some level of relationships with your neighbours (which most of us have).

A year and a half ago I listened to a man who was planting a church in a major city in the United States. He was a speaker at a school that my ministry was co-hosting in the United States. He stated that he had been given a grant of $60,000 to begin to plant the church he was now a part of. And, that afterwards, further financial help was needed. And, as I watched my friends and co-workers who were there from Russia and Tajikistan the look on their faces was amazing. They begin churches with absolutely no financial backing and little personal money to invest. They simply do what Jesus did … no bells and whistles. Just love and an open heart and home.

It is time to go back to simple … and understand that Jesus knows what He is doing and He is building His Church His way… and it would be good to follow His example.

 

Demonstrating God

When we are Baptized in the Holy Spirit (see yesterday’s blog) we are gifted with the power of God to demonstrate that Jesus is alive. In fact, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead has come upon us and empowers us to be witnesses for the Resurrected Christ. These gifts allow us to prove that Jesus is alive. You will find these gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

Paul states that he preached the Gospel not just in words but also with signs and wonders to back up the words and prove the message he was sharing is true. He writes in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5;

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

The word “demonstration” is a unique Greek word not found anywhere else in the Bible. It literally means to ‘put God on public display;’ ‘to exhibit God.’ So, we preach or share the Gospel of the Kingdom and then back it up with proof that it is true – we move in gifts of healings, working of miracles, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits to name some of the nine gifts that are ours when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. We literally show God’s power to those we are sharing with. This is what Jesus promised us. He said, “And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8). The power received when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit allows us to flow in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit and demonstrate that Jesus is alive.

Without this power we never fully proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom. All we have is words and people today want more than “hot air.” They want proof that your message is true and that preached by the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Muslims (and on the list could go) are not true and will not connect people with God, our Heavenly Father. Paul commented on this…

Romans 15:18-19 “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ…”

So, we need to know the Gospel of the Kingdom and share it in ways that people today can understand it. Then we need to move supernaturally and prove that our message is true, Jesus is alive, and that He is the only Door into Heaven.

To do what Jesus calls us to do (see John 14:12; Matthew 28:19-20) we need the fullness of the Spirit and must be walking in the power of the living God.

A Renewed Interest

There appears to be a renewed interest in the experience Jesus talks about called The Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). Recently I have taught on this powerful and important experience in a number of provinces in my own nation as well as in several other nations overseas. Over and over again in meetings with young people they are asking about this experience and encounter with God the Holy Spirit. And, once recently, a local church in another region of Canada filled with senior citizens also asked that I teach on this subject. There is a definite renewed interest.

This second encounter with God is available to all and is the fulfillment of the promise of the Father as heard first in the Prophet Joel’s writing, chapter 2 where we are told that there will be a time when the Holy Spirit will fall on all flesh.

Jesus says to His disciples who are yet to be born again because He has yet to die and shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins … Jesus says “…even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17)

This tells us that when a person is not born again – thus not a Christian nor a disciple of Jesus – the Holy Spirit is with them. Joel stated that the Holy Spirit would be for all flesh … so he is with those who do not know Jesus. His task “with them” is to convict them of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-10) so that they will come to the foot of the Cross and be saved.

Once saved the Holy Spirit, as Jesus promised, now comes to live inside of the born again believer and disciple. This happened for the original 11 disciples in John 20: 21-22. But, Jesus tells these same born again disciples to remain in the city until they have received the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49). And so they do as commanded. Because there is a need for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. With, in, upon….

Then, just before Jesus ascends into Heaven, He tells them again to wait for the Holy Spirit baptism. “…for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). The purpose of this baptism? To empower born again believers to be a witness for the resurrected Jesus as we go into all our world and share the love of God found in Jesus (Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19). This is when the Holy Spirit comes “upon” and we are clothed with power and empowered for ministry. “And, you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be My witnesses…”

All of this was, of course, prophesied by John the Baptist even before Jesus began His public ministry. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).

So, many settle for just being born again. However, without the baptism in the Holy Spirit and thus the power they cannot obey Jesus and do what He has called every true disciple and believer to do for Him and in His Name. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me … the things that I do will you do also, and greater things than these shall you do because I go to the Father (and will send the Holy Spirit upon you…)” John 14:12.

In my mind, without the baptism in the Holy Spirit you cannot complete the task Jesus calls every true disciple to accomplish … :Go into all the world and make disciples…” And, without the power we are unable to prove that Jesus is alive today and active in His Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

The Great Divide

So, let me be bold and ask you: “How many non-believers do you know and have a decent, non-surface relationship with?” You know, more than a passing “Hi, how are you?” when you really don’t give a rip how they are feeling or doing.

So, let me meddle and ask: “Do these people, the non-believers, know that you are a committed born again Christian and disciple of the Lord Jesus?”

Ah! Another question following on the second one above: “If not, why not?”

There seems to be this great divide between Christian and non-believers. We, the believers, fellowship with the believers; we holiday with believers; we spend free time with other believers; we eat out with believers sharing a meal and good conversation. This is an overflow of the time we spend together on weekends worshipping God and learning from His Word together as a Christian family.I understand all this.

But, it seems there is a great divide between sacred and secular. So, when we enter into our secular world of work, grocery shopping, community events … we barely relate to the non-believers. In fact, we look around for those we know are believers so we can have a “safe” conversation with them. Sacred – secular. Maybe we talk about God and our faith with others who share the same beliefs but we don’t talk to the non-believers about our faith. The great divide – sacred and secular. We have our morning devotions and spend time with God but what happens there seldom effects what takes place during the rest of the day. Sacred and secular.

We have done something Jesus never did. He did not view every day life as divided into sacred and secular. For Jesus, all of life was sacred. Because life is a amazing gift from God it is always a God-thing and cannot be separated into two parts – sacred and secular. It is all God-ordained and God-saturated. Thus, God is an integral part of every aspect of every day life.

Romans 12:1-2 in The Message Version expresses this the best.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Spend some time thinking about it …..

Of Course, Not On Purpose

In many ways we tend to shun non-believers – even those who are seeking for the Lord and whose hearts are open to knowing more about Him and the Gospel of the Kingdom. We certainly don’t do it on purpose but it is a reality either way – we, as believers, tend to shun people – no longer relating on a personal level with those who are non-believers.

The word “shun” means: to keep away from (a place, person, object, etc.),from motives of dislike, caution, etc.; take pains to avoid.

I speak with new believers and many of them are no longer relating to their friends because they are now born again … and they are focusing on growing, maturing, learning, and building fellowship and relationships with other believers. All of which is good to do. But, their former friends feel like they are being shunned.

I speak to those who are seeking spiritual truth – looking for who they are and what their purpose is in this life. But, because they smoke, drink, swear, or are sleeping with someone they are not married to believers are critical and even condemning. Maybe expecting them to live as Christians before they become Christians. And, this critical, judgmental attitude makes them feel unaccepted and, dare we say it, shunned. Not good enough for you to hang with them.

I speak to young guys hanging out at McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s after school and they feel shunned by the church … and some even attend somewhat regularly because they live at home and their parents require they go to church with the family. But, they do not feel welcomed or accepted because people comment negatively about their tattoos, piercings, skinny jeans, their t-shirts with the slogan, their hairstyle, the hat they refuse to take off, the way they speak… and on the list could go. They feel shunned by the believers.

I listen to Christians speaking to each other in their ‘special language’ and those who are not part of the faith often have little idea what the Christians are speaking about. To be honest, Christians use words that they literally have no idea of their meaning … they simply use pat religious and even Christian phrases and words that have lost all meaning if they ever really had any to start with. And, those listening in feel shunned – even other believers.

Of course, none of us are shunning others on purpose. But nonetheless we are still doing so by our actions, words, and behaviour. And, if we ever hope to fulfil The Great Commission of making disciples we will need to make some foundational changes so non-believers feel loved, accepted, welcomed, and no longer judged, criticized, and rejected.

Have a good look at the way you live and relate to others … maybe you too are shunning others who need to know Jesus … and, if you are, why not ask God to help you to change your lifestyle, your attitude, your actions and your words. Really, what we need to do is simply ask God to change our heart – the rest will follow.

Jesus Was Not A Very Good Christian

A very famous British Christian preacher and author who ministered with her husband for years in America – her name is Jill Briscoe – tells of a visit to a funeral home with a grieving widow, standing by the open casket.

Out of the corner of her eye, Jill sees a member of her church coming towards them and thinks, “Here comes trouble.”

The woman approaching the casket believes Christians should never be sad or weep; they should always be upbeat and happy. Predictably, the dear lady comes up and starts to comfort the grieving widow with words about thinking positively and lifting the chin. You know, be plastic no matter how you are really feeling inside.

The widow looks at her and says, “Well, if we are not suppose to grieve and cry, how come Jesus wept at the grave of His friend Lazarus?”

At that tense moment of two Christian women confronting each other, Jill, with her wonderful British wit, says, “Well obviously, honey, Jesus isn’t a very good Christian.” Read more