And the Beat Goes On

Ralph is currently in Ukraine – ministering prophetically and laying apostolic foundations. This daily blog was written by him before he left and is being posted by his personal assistant. As computer hook-ups allow he will add in “Ukraine Blogs” telling us what the Lord is doing during his mission trip. Also, as time and computer hook-ups allow, he will be personally reponding to any entries you make as he always does when in his study and not travelling trans-locally. He returns on he 22nd of November, 2008.

Week two in Ukraine. We have finished in Boyorka and have travelled 11 hours south to be with Dima (Dymitri) whom my local church in Rgina, Saskatchewan has financially supported for a number of years. His calling into apostolic ministry is more evident now than ever before. A powerful man of God who is only beginning to impact the world apostolically and prophetically.

It has been a busy visit with a great deal of teaching (3 sessions a day) and ministering prophetically each time as well as late into the night after the last service has been dismissed. We have three more days here teaching and ministering – the third and last day being just for senior leaders of local churches so much more focused and hopefully relaxed – questions and answers and, guess what, more prophetic ministry.

Then an 11 hour train trip back north, flight from Kiev, Ukraine to Amsterdam, Holland then another flight to Minneapolis, MN., and after a 5 hour wait a flight to Regina and home to my own bed. Great opportunity to read and write and think through and journal the experiences I have been having.

I am looking forward to being back home and being with you (and the people in Oxbow) on Sunday worshipping together in English only and teaching God’s Word to hungry people with prepared hearts. Until then, please remember me in your prayers as now is the time when I will be needing an extra shot of physical energy and supernatural strength as I (and my team members) will be seriously tired mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Please also pray for a three day trip that I will be taking at the start of December to Calgary where I will also be teaching on the prophetic and ministering prophetically. At least all the material is already prepared, tested, and tired – and found to be in working order. God is good!

Formula One Racing

Ralph is currently in Ukraine – ministering prophetically and laying apostolic foundations. This daily blog was written by him before he left and is being posted by his personal assistant. As computer hook-ups allow he will add in “Ukraine Blogs” telling us what the Lord is doing during his mission trip. Also, as time and computer hook-ups allow, he will be personally reponding to any entries you make as he always does when in his study and not travelling trans-locally. He returns on he 22nd of November, 2008.

When you were born again you received a gift from the Lord – this gift is called Eternal Life (Romans 6:23). This gift is defined in the Bible as “…that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Chjrist whom you have sent” (John 17:3). The Christian faith is all about unwrapping this gift – developing this relationship.

Relationships don’t develop quickly. Relationships take time and effort. Having a quality, in depth relationship with God is not something that happens overnight – it takes time and effort to develop. It is something you need to invest deeply in – on a daily bsis.

It seems that today many who declare the Name of Jesus are really not interested in investing the time and effort that is needed to have a meaningful relationship with the Lord. They want quick fixes. They want instant answers. They want a “formular Faith” where they have certain things they say in this one situation, something to confess and declare in another situation and a verse to stand on in yet another situation. They are not interested in developing an in-depth relationship – they simply want God to consistently perform when they rub the bottle and awaken the genie.

As a result, their Christianity is really not a relationship at all – but a formula. These Christians (are they really saved?) are always racing around and around making a lot of noise and never getting anywhere. Kind of like Formular One racing.

Just outside my family home in Montreal they have three days of Formula One racing each year. During these three days you hear a lot of engine noise and smell a lot of burning rubber as the drivers go at breakneck speed around and around and around the track built on the island created in the middle oof the St. Lawrence River years ago. Always annoying to those living near by and obviously very entertaining to those who pay high prices for seats to watch the races … or do they come in hope of seeing a crash?

People today want and often have a “Formula Religion” or “Formula Faith” where they are always fast tracking and not taking the time to seek God and come to know His heart – thus building a solid relationship that is not based on what He can do for us or on some set of ‘quick fixes’ based on claiming promises and quoting scriptures. They make a lot of noise, move quickly around and around in circles apparently never getting anywhere and often crash much to the delight of onlookers and curious by-standers. For some it is somewhat entertaining. For those who are involved in the Formula Religion it can be very frsutrating and often very deadly to real faith and coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Christian faith is not about what God can do for you. It is about having a relationship with God. A healthy, two-way personal relationship. It is not about “getting somewhere” or “accomplishing something” or “competing with others” – it is about sharing your time, your thoughts, your heart with God who loves you more deeply than you could even totally comprehend. It is about taking time to be together without a crowd watching. It is about moving slowly through the steps of developing a solid love-relationhip with Him – not racing around and around and thus only having a surface “relationship” with Him. It is about in-depth, quality time doing things together. It is about getting to know each other so well that you would know what He is thinking and what He would say in each and every situation. It is about dealing with each and every thing that gets in the way of having a healthy relationship with God.

This is the only “race” we are in. A ‘race’ to get to know Him intimately. There are no others in the race – just you and God. Paul states it well when he wrote:

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Born in the Fire – Living in the Ashes

Ralph is currently in Ukraine – ministering prophetically and laying apostolic foundations. This daily blog was written by him before he left and is being posted by his personal assistant. As computer hook-ups allow he will add in “Ukraine Blogs” telling us what the Lord is doing during his mission trip. Also, as time and computer hook-ups allow, he will be personally reponding to any entries you make as he always does when in his study and not travelling trans-locally. He returns on he 22nd of November, 2008.

I think it was Vance Havner (Baptist Evangelist and Preacher) who said that it is a terrible thing to be born (again) in the fires of revival and then live in the ashes.

Think back to when you were first saved and fell deeply in love with Jesus. I am assuming your salvation experience was more than saying a sinner’s prayer and that you came to Jesus in godly sorrow and repentance after you became aware of the fact that you had sin, were a sinner and that your sin was separating you (now and for eternity) from God.

If you came because, like David, you recognized that you had sinned against God and needed to accept God’s solution to your problem – Jesus’ death on the Cross paying the penalty for your sin – then you experienced a true conversion and a fresh start. You walked away from that experience on fire for God, excited about what had just happened, willing and eager to tell anyone who would listen to you about your new found relationship with God. It was an exciting and seriously dynamic time in your life. You truly because that “new creature iin Christ” that Paul the apostle wrote about. You were born again with passion in the fires of revival (so to speak).

But, regretfully you have cooled off. Born in the fire – living in the ashes. What happned? Why did it happen? Can you retrieve or gain back that passion, zeal, love, commitment, excitement and enthusiasm?

When I was first saved or born again I heard a neat saying that really expresses truth. Here it is: “You are as close to God as you choose to be!” I believe that. We could expand and adjust it a bit and also say, therefore: You are as in love with God as you choose to be! You are as in touch with God as you choose to be! You are as passionate about God as you choose to be!

There was another cute saying that also spoke volumes in a few words. It went like this: “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?” Answer: You did! You moved from the red hot passion and fire of salvation (revival, renewal) and have chosen to live in the ashes. You see, there is no “park” or “neutral” in your relationship with the living God – you are either moving forward with passion or you are moving backwards with less and less passion and fire evident in your walk with the Lord. Your choice.

This is not a new problem. Israel (Old Testament) faced this problem in their relationship with God. It would be red hot and passionate one moment and cooled right off the next. God would express His concerns about this … For example, in Isaiah 65:2 God states: “I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts”

And yet, God never gave up on them or on the relationhip that He wanted to have with them. In Hosea 11:8-9 God declares: “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror.”

Hear God’s heart in these words. He has not lost His first love! He has not come up short on the passion scale! He has not backed away to leave us alone until we might miss Him and cry out! He is as passionate as ever to pursue us and build a quality relationship based on love and passion – fire in His soul for His people – those He loves deeply.

As I study revivals – it seems that one of the key reasons they come upon the Church is to rekindle the fire. Afterall, by one definition revival is: the manifestation of God to His people, convicting by His awesome presence and by His infinite holiness. Convicting the believers of the lost of their first love and their lack of zeal for the House of the Lord and His mandate to the Church to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

It is the nature of the Church to experience continual revival through the Holy Spirit – going from one level of passion to another and then another. Maybe reaching the place Enoch did and simply finding ourselves walking to the Lord’s house and no longer returning home.

The Church was birthed in revival and should live in revival. Anything less than continual and constantly increasing revival is sub-normal or even abnormal for the Church. We are to live in the fire of God’s love and love Him with great passion because that is how He first loved us.

Answer to our problem: Like Israel of old we need to love the Lord our God with everything we are and everything we have – lock, stock, and barrell – hook, line and sinker.

In the midst of needed change in the life of Israel they decided to take action. Scripture states: And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around. 2 Chronicles 15:15

The believer today needs rest “all around” for there is much striving after things that do not satisfy and which are temporary in nature. It is as if we are trying to purchase enough things, go enough places, know enough people, accomplish enough feats to make it look like we are on fire – for something, anything. When all we really need to do is seek Him with our whole heart – Love Him with all of our Heart, soul, mind and strength. And, we are even commanded to do just that.

Revival is (my favourite definition) is a “people saturated with God”. Pour the gasoline on the fire Lord -saturate me – and then light the fire once again! I want to burn with passion – deep passion – ever increasing passion for you.

I’m tired of the ashes!

A Flow Of Forgiveness

Ralph is currently in Ukraine – ministering prophetically and laying apostolic foundations. This daily blog was written by him before he left and is being posted by his personal assistant. As computer hook-ups allow he will add in “Ukraine Blogs” telling us what the Lord is doing during his mission trip. Also, as time and computer hook-ups allow, he will be personally reponding to any entries you make as he always does when in his study and not travelling trans-locally. He returns on he 22nd of November, 2008.

As I work with believers around the world I have become very aware that unforgiveness and bitterness is a major problem in their lives. It seems that they do not want to forgive those who have hurt them and so hold on to the offenses and literally destroy themselves.

When I meet people who have left the church that I pastor – leaving it angry and causing numerous problems during their exiting – they ask if I have forgiven them. I tell them that I forgave them the same day they caused the trouble. It is as if it the situation has been eating away at them since they caused the trouble. I have to admit that, at times, I cannot even remember their name until later that day when my mind brings it back upfrom the distant past. For me anything more than a week old is the distant past.

I keep really short lists as I don’t plan to allow anyone who lives on the face of this earth to interrupt or upset my daily walk and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I forgive as fast as I have been offended. I seek healing as soon as I see the relational bleeding or emotional wounds. I will not go to bed without resolving issues that have occured during that day. I refuse to harbor anger, unforgiveness or even bad thoughts about people. I mean, why risk hurting my relationship with God who is Light by knowingly allowing even the smallest amount of darkness to enter into my life? Makes no sense.

So, I find it hard to understand believers who say that they walk with Him who forgave them so much and yet can’t seem to forgive and forget those who have sinned against them.

Psalm 130:1-4 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.

And if we are to be like Him then “with US there must be forgiveness”. We must realize, as the disciple’s prayer states, that we are forgiven in direct relationship to how much we forgive. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. If we don’t forgive … well, you know where I am going with that.

Brother Yun states: “Forgiveness is a great gift that God has given us so we can survive in an evil world where people hurt us, betray us and do terrible things to us. When we have learned to live in a flow of forgiveness, we will be living in freedom.” (Page 38-39 of his book “Living Water”). This from a man who suffered terrible abuse under the hands of a godless communist nation – China.

As I work with alcoholics and drug addicts (being a recovered alcoholic of 30 years) this is THE major issue that I see in the lives of these men and women that prevents recovery. They hold on to hurts and offenses from the past – sometimes the ancient past. You can sit with them for a coffee (after you get to know them fairly well) and bring up the name of a person they related to 20 years ago and have not seen since – and have to stand back due to the emotional explosion that begins when they hear that person’s name spoken. Sad! But if I’m talking with a believer – past “sad” and into “seriously sick”.

Not sure who said it – maybe read it in an R.T. Kendall book – “Unforgiveness is the poison we drink hoping that the other person will die.”

Christians – it is time to get serious about this part of our Christian faith. Forgiveness is unique to our faith as we are the only ones whose Founder shed His blood, was buried and then rose from the dead so that He could offer us forgiveness. And if we have been forgiven much because He loves us – how much more should we then forgive others?

Time to get with the program!

Friendly Fire

Ralph is currently in Ukraine – ministering prophetically and laying apostolic foundations. This daily blog was written by him before he left and is being posted by his personal assistant. As computer hook-ups allow he will add in “Ukraine Blogs” telling us what the Lord is doing during his mission trip. Also, as time and computer hook-ups allow, he will be personally reponding to any entries you make as he always does when in his study and not travelling trans-locally. He returns on he 22nd of November, 2008.

“Friendly fire – It is a terrible feeling to be shot at by fellow soldiers whom you thought were on your side! Unfortunately and tragically, ‘friendly fire’ is alive and well among God’s people today. To come under fire from fellow Christians, who are meant to be fighting on your side, is a miserable experience to have to cope with.” (Living Water by Brother Yun – page 272)

means1.jpg

The Means Has Become the End – Repent!

The Lord is speaking to His Church today – apostles are prophetically crying out and declaring the Word of the Lord. Few, as of yet, are heeding the Word but it has been and is being released and will accomplish all that the Lord sends it forth to do – not returning to Him void of results (Isaiah 55:11).

The Church (believers) pray for the glory of God to fall upon our assemblies and our worship. Good! But that is simply a means to an end – the end being that as darkness becomes gross darkness (Isaiah 60:1-3) the nations will see the “light” upon the Church and come to know and to worship our God. Too often today believers want the “glory” but simply for themselves so that they can feel that God approves of them and sense the approval of God on their assembly. We have turned the “glory” into an idol as we have also done with revival and the anointing.

Read more

paradigm1.jpg

Apostolic Paradigm Changes

As 21st Century apostolic churches emerge (and they will do so quickly), there will be at least four specific paradigm changes taking place within the local church. A paradigm is a model or pattern in which we function and through which we view the Church.

The first apostolic paradigm shift is perhaps the most profound and powerful. It will be a breaking free from the one-man-only paradigm. This paradigm requires all of the church’s marketing efforts and resources to be used in drawing people to a building to be taught by one ascension (doma) gift. In this paradigm there is no sending (apostolic) dimension. Read more

Christian Superstars

Ralph is currently in Ukraine – ministering prophetically and laying apostolic foundations. This daily blog was written by him before he left and is being posted by his personal assistant. As computer hook-ups allow he will add in “Ukraine Blogs” telling us what the Lord is doing during his mission trip. Also, as time and computer hook-ups allow, he will be personally reponding to any entries you make as he always does when in his study and not travelling trans-locally. He returns on he 22nd of November, 2008.

Around the world believers flock to see “big names”. They spend multiple hundreds of dollars that could have gone to support mission work on hotels and meals, airfare and car rentals to attend conferences where “big names” are speaking and ministering.

These “big names” are people who have written popular books, have television and radio ministries, whose church or ministry is growing (numbers and size = success0 or are doing something somewhat out of the ordinary where they minister (novelty = God). Men and women often become big names because apparently God is moving mightily through their ministry and so people flock to ‘receive a touch from God’.

They have become known to the general public because of the ability of the Christian media (at times they are worse than the secular media) to promote events and personalities and bring speakers and ministers to the attention of the Christian public. These “moves”, “teachings / revelations”, “revivals” don’t become known because people have heard “of the wonderful works that the Lord has done” but because the Christian media (who function with little to absolutely no discernment) have decided this event or personality would be good for ratings – or, these ministers and minstries are willing to pay for air time.

Why is it that Christians – and we are not talking about just a few here – feel this urge to spend considerable amounts of money and invest substantial amounts of time to feed this “conference / big name” urge that they feel. Better question: why do they feel this urge in the first place?

In my local church we have a number of people who minister from the pulpit. This is good as I believe in team ministry. It is also necessary because I am frequently out of town preaching and ministering in other churches both within the Network I help to oversee and in other churches that are seeking my input and help with situations they are facing. We no longer advertize who is going to be preaching. This way people come to the Sunday assembly to hear the Word of the Lord for that day and not to hear their favourite teacher. Before we started this we apparently had our own “big name” problem similar to the paul and Apolos issue found in Corinth.

In thinking about this I have one observation that I think it is valid to put out there. Bother Yun said it best:

“When the Holy Spirit is absent, people become so important. Believers look to preachers with big names and flock to meetings where someone has a new kind of message. But when the Holy Spirit is present, nobody cares about who is preaching, or anybody’s name, because all are concerned only about glorifying Jesus and making His name great!” (The book: “Living Waters” – pages 294 and 295).

Question: If the Holy Spirit is not moving locally so they feel the need to travel to a place and a “big name” where supposedly the Holy Spirit is moving – how do they know if what is happening there is really the Holy Spirit and not another spirit or simply media hype?

Question: Why don’t they remain at their home church and seek God’s face until what is happening elsewhere (or even something more powerful than that) happens where they are? If God can move in one place He can surely move in another without us having to “go fetch” the anointing and bring it back. True or not?

Question: Have they checked into the character of the “main star performer” and have they asked the relevant questions to determine if he or she is functioning in a godly way with their spouse, children, ministry staff, volunteers and all others. Or, are they subject to mood swings, angry outbursts, and other behaviour that does not show forth the “peace of God that passes all understanding” nor shows forth the character and very nature of God?

Question: Have they tested what is being taught by the “mega-media personality” to what is taught in the Bible and what the Christian Church has been declaring for over 2,000 years? Are they “earnestly contending for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3)? Are they testing all things to see what spirit is behind them? Are they proving all things and holding on to that which is good? Or, are they simply believing everything they hear because it is on television and being declared to be God by others?

It is time to be much more discerning. It is time to stop following superstars (both physically and theology-wise). It is time to test everything to God’s Word and reject quickly anything that does not line up exactly with the truth as declared in the Bible. It is time to be seriously planted in the local church as this is where the real feeding of the sheep is done. It is time to stop making idols of big ministries and ‘revivals’ or supposed ‘moves of the Holy Spirit’. It is time to seek God’s face with all of our hearts and watch what He can and will do locally – even if it is different than what is happening somewhere else. Hopefully it is different. It is time to grow up and stop acting as children – as immature believers who by this time should know better. It is time!

Then there would be no Toronto Airport Father’s Blessings, no Pensacola Revival, no Lakeland “whatever-it-was”. There would simply be local churches alive with the power and presence of God who are pouring their time and effort into winning the lost and their finances into mission work around the world. Novel idea!

Head – Hand – Heart

Ralph is currently in Ukraine – ministering prophetically and laying apostolic foundations. This daily blog was written by him before he left and is being posted by his personal assistant. As computer hook-ups allow he will add in “Ukraine Blogs” telling us what the Lord is doing during his mission trip. Also, as time and computer hook-ups allow, he will be personally reponding to any entries you make as he always does when in his study and not travelling trans-locally. He returns on he 22nd of November, 2008.

Today we need to return to the Bible basics and realize that we have been chasing after things that simply don’t need to be our focus. Jesus said: Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added unto us…” (Matthew 6:33)

The Lord stated a tremendous truth a number of years ago through the prophet Jeremiah that we would find Him onlky when we sought after Him with our whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Today we see many Christians seeking after God with their heads. They believe that the more they know the Bible the more mature they will be as believers. They believe that knowing the Word of God is first. Rather, we need to realize that the Bible’s primary purpose is to help us to come to intimately know the Author better. Yes, it is filled with tremendous wisdom. Yes it has many great life principles by which to live. Yes, we need to know God’s Word so we can rightly discern truth from error. But the Christian faith is not a head thing it is a heart thing.

We have believers flying all over the world to receive a touch from God’s hand. This too is the wrong focus and does not bring a believer to maturity. It does not equip a believer to be better able to follow the Lord in their daily walk. God did not tell us to run around looking for a touch from His hand. God called us to seek intimacy with Him and that is definitely a heart issue.

When we were born again God placed a gift in our heart (spirit) and this gift is called Eternal Life (Romans 6:23b). This gift is defined in John 17:3 … “That they may know they only true God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent”. The word “know” is the same word the Bible uses for intercourse (Joseph did not ‘know’ Mary until Jesus was born) or intimacy. This involves a heart relationship with the Lord.

Yes, knowing more about Jesus and the work and Word of God (Head) is wonderful. Seeing God touch people’s lives, including our own, is great (Hand)! But, coming to have a daily, ever-deepening, personal, dynamic, unique love relationship with God the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit (Heart) is far more important.

If we have this relationship growing and maturing – deepening and being strengthened – so that we love Him more today – from the heart – than yesterday then we will see His hand in our lives and we will come to know Him better in our heads.

It is time for the Church to take account of what it is we have been focusing on and chasing after so that we can return to our first love and fulfill the Greatest Commandment to “love the Lord our God with all of our heart…”

Let’s refocus so that we can truly know more about the God whom we worship and serve (Head) and see more of God’s miracles, signs, and wonders (Hand) and discern those things that look good and can be exciting but are not from the Lord. This discernment is a result of knowing deeply the very character and nature of our God (Heart) and what is currently on His heart with respect to His Church and our task of sharing the Gospel with every human being on the planet.

If it is a choice I have to make I chose to come to Know His heart.

32 Years Today and Counting

Ralph is currently in Ukraine – ministering prophetically and laying apostolic foundations. This daily blog was written by him before he left and is being posted by his personal assistant. As computer hook-ups allow he will add in “Ukraine Blogs” telling us what the Lord is doing during his mission trip. Also, as time and computer hook-ups allow, he will be personally reponding to any entries you make as he always does when in his study and not travelling trans-locally. He returns on he 22nd of November, 2008.

I am in Ukraine –day three and it is Sunday. Last night – the 8th of November was the 32nd anniversary of the Lord touching and healing my body. 32 years ago today I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and was born again – converted – and became a new creature in Christ. I began my walk with the Lord that night and it still continues today.

And, what an adventure it has been. Who could have guessed all that was planned for my life as I took seriously the Bible and began to apply it? Who would have guessed that God would be using me to impact churches and leaders in many nations around the world. Me – little old me? The Lord has done over and above anything I could have ever hoped for, imagined, or prayed for. He has outdone Himself. I am overwhelmed and amazed. Seriously amazed. Humbled, honored and excited!

What have I done to cooperate with Him over the past 32 years? I think I have done three simple things. I have consistently read the Word of God and obeyed whatever I read to he best of my abilities. I have obeyed the Lord whenever I heard Him speak to me – bringing my life in line with His will for me. And, I have taken one step (often a baby step) and then another and then another – one foot in front of the other always moving forward in simple trust. Still do today!

When I think about it I have prayed, read my Bible, obeyed, and walked … nothing spectacular but, in hindsight, supernatural. I have simply, at times, plodded along – not always sure of what is coming and seldom, if truth be known, “feeling” anything like anointing or power. Just doing it!

Just being faithful to the God I worship, the Jesus I walk with, and the Holy Spirit with whom I fellowship. One day at a time … and it is amazing what the Lord has done. Truly overwhelming.