Suicide Bombers

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 we look at our world today we see radical “religious” people dying for their cause. We see people strapping bombs on their bodies and moving among their enemies and blowing themselves up resulting in the death of many. We also see the Christians in safer nations living in peace and being critical of those who are doing such terrible things because of their religious convictions. Christians being politically correct so as not to draw attention to themselves and not to upset others.

Jesus did not want His followers just to live in peace with everyone. In fact, the opposite is true for the gospel is an abrasive message that confronts sin and evil head-on. Jesus said:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:34-36)

The true Gospel, when it is preached with power, always results in either revival or riot. That was Paul’s experience. Archbishop William Temple once said: “Everywhere the apostle Paul went there was either a revival or a riot. Everywhere I go they pour tea.”

Did we ever consider that Jesus sent His own followers on suicide missions? He knew His disciples would be killed as they attempted to take the Gospel throughout the world. This realization did not prevent Jesus from commanding His followers to go forth and die for His Kingdom! He told them:

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. (John 15:19-21)

These days there are too many Christians with conditions attached to their faith. They tell God where and when He can speak to them, what kind of things He can say, and which commands they are willing to obey and which they will ignore.

Such “faith” is no faith at all, and God will judge such self-centered people if they refuse to change. The good news is that you can change. The Bible states clearly what we must do:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

I like what Brother Yun says:

“If we belong to God, we must learn to put our own scedules away. We must bundle up all of our hopes, dreams and future plans and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Even our very bodies, the Scriptures say, should be offered as living sacrifices. Such faith is holy and acceptable in God’s sight.”

This radical commitment and abandonment to God’s will, even by a few, will change the world forever. It always has. It will once again … if we make the quality decision to truly follow Jesus regardless of what it might cost us.

Getting To The Heart of the Matter

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.

The word used in the New Testament for HEART is most often kardiva, a Greek word that literally means ‘the real you’. Scripture uses the word HEART to mean your internal motivation, your love, and your passions.

That adds immediate insight to such verses as “Love the Lord your God with all your HEART…” (Matthew 22:37). You are to love Him with the real you. Well, first we will need to discover the real you, won’t we. Someone once said that the real you is who you are when no one is looking -like when you are staying by yourself in a hotel room is another city.

The real you takes time to discover. More than time – it takes courage to dig deep and discover what makes you tick. We can glibly rhyme of what our interests are (hobbies, books we like to read, things we like to do) but these things are not always who we are – they tend to be literally just the things we do. If they are an expression of the real you – great. But often they are simply activities. At their worst they are a way to keep ourselves occupied so that we don’t have the silence and the space needed to dig deep and introduce ourselves to the real person deep inside.

We need to know our internal motivations (why we do what we do and why we are involved in what we are active in). We need to take an honest look at the reasons why we do what we do. Selfish, self-serving or other-centered? Done out of spite or out of concern? Simply serving or hoping others will think well of you? Involved because it is a loving thing to do or because you are co-dependant and need to be needed?

We need to know what our passions are – what it is you love! Well, look at your calendar and your check book. Usually you spend or invest your time and money on the things you love. Hobbies, travel, lattes at Starbucks, tithing to the work of the Lord, mission work, family, entertainment, pornography, piercings and tattoos, whatever. Your time and money always gravitate towards what you are passionate about.

So, do you love the Lord your God with all your HEART?

Jeremiah states that when we seek God with all our HEART we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Have you found Him recently?

The problem is not at God’s end. He came to seek and save the lost. He gave His Son to die for us while we were yet sinners. He is faithful even when we are not. He promised never to leave us or forsake us. Should I go on or are 4 verses I just quoted enough for you to recognize the issue is at your end and it is a HEART issue!

So be brave. Be bold! Find a place of silence and solitude. In this place – with an adequate block of time – ask the Spirit of God to help you and seek to understand your HEART. Only God knows the HEART of man and He is more than willing to reveal the issues in your heart that need to be dealt with. He will do it gently and over time.

So, you will need a good length of time when you begin to have a close look at what makes you tick. It takes time to see things, be honest with yourself and listen to God regarding what you must do about it. You will need weekly times like this for the first few months until you deal with everything you have been running from for years. Then, once a month is usually frequently enough to keep in touch with the inner you and deal with any new passions and loves that may arise which are taking a place of prominence in your life and removing God from being enthroned at the center of your HEART.

This will allow God to be first in your life – the place He must always occupy… and is worthy to occupy. Then, you will find things in your life turning around because you will now be obeying the scripture that states “love the Lord your God with all your HEART…”

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work I go

Packed and ready for my two week trip to Ukraine – at least as ready as I will ever be. Hope I didn’t forget anything as it is not as easy to go out aqnd get what you need when overseas in this great nation I am heading to. Last time I was there there were no Walmarts. Thus, everything must go with m and fit into one rather over-stuffed suitcase. Not sure of laundry facilities nor nthe availability of time to do the washing and drying – so you count out the clothes for each day – socks, underwear, t-shirts, shirts, sweaters, hankerchiefs … then add two or three extra in case flights are delayed, missed, or cancelled. Happens at times. Hope it doesn’t this time. And pray – past hoping – hat your baggage arrives in the same place and the same time that you do!

And, just as important is the packing of the briefcase (mine is maximum carry-on size with wheels and a pull handle. Been there and done that. Done what? Carried two Bibles, three books to read, a lap top and the plug-in, mouse, paper and pens, coloured pencils and markers, highlighters and… for 9 hours in an airport as I waited for the next flight, found a restaurant, found the gate, stood in line. Then the next airport, the next gate, the next run to make the flight… Now it is on wheels and my two arms are almost the same length once again after a substantial period of healing.

With almost 7 full days of trains and planes ( I like that song from the 70’s) I also have to have a half dozen good books to read and study and those can add substantial weight to one’s arm or shoulder. So, pull it on wheels… getting smarter in my old age.

I think I’m ready. Have a lot of teachings and resources printed out to work from – you don’t go with it all figured out. They tell you the ball park you are working in – the gifts of the Spirit and prophecy this time – and you take a wide variety of teachings and resources that link to that general area. Then, in each place you go you sort through where people are at in the specific areas you are going to be teaching in and select the right resources – basic, intermediate, advanced – to suit the audience. Then you consult, in this case, with the other two on the team and what they sense and feel and what they have selected. Then you decide who is teaching what and in what order. You move on to another place to minister – the whole process starts over again. But, you do meet people where they are at and minister powerfully speaking right into their lives and ministry.

The most important thing to prepare is your own heart and to keep fresh in your relationship with the Lord. That, by the way, is not always easy when on the road. In the past two weeks and in the next three weeks – five weeks total – I will have been home in the comfort of my study and with a regular uninterupted time with the Lord for a total of four days. So, you have to learn to take quality time with the Lord every day even when in hotel rooms and in airports. Lose intimacy with the Father and your best teachings won’ fly. Lose intimacy and the prophetic – which is becoming stronger and stronger in my ministry I am told – will still flow but you work harder for it and are exhausted afterwards. So, you quickly learn that being spiritually refreshed and ready is more important than having packed everything you need…

By the way – how is your relationship with the Lord these days?

Walmart – The Last Frontier

Found my way to Walmart yesterday while in Saskatoon. Came without a jacket (never pack for a three day trip on Monday morning at 6 a.m. when you are a pastor with an 18 hour Sunday) and a few other things that are necessary for survival. So, go to your friendly neighbourhood Walmat at 8:00 a.m. and go shopping. One thing – no trouble finding a cart and lots of room to shop as there was absolutely no one there. Need to find a sales clerk – not a problem – they are like vultures trying to find you as you are the only customer in the store. And this is as late as 8:00 a.m. They open at 7:00 a.m. Wonder who’s there at that hour of the day?

Noticed something as soon as I walked in – the insipid Christmas music was playing. Elevator Christmas music. Revolting Christmas music that has nothing to do with winter, Christmas, Christ or anything that is of any value on the face of the earth. Rock Around the Christmas Tree, Roudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, and a number of country and western tunes I did not recognize – and don’t want to know about. However, Halloween is over and so the next money grabber is Christmas. Wonder if people will go into debt for this annual event with the way things are going in the economy these days? Think they are that stupid? Want my opinion – let’s not go there.

I want to start a revolution. Let’s go back to the old fashion Christmas where people made gifts for one another and put a lot of love and thought into them – as well as time – but not necessarily a lot of money. My wife and I have been doing this now for several years – running Christmas on a very limited budget on purpose. It is not a lack of funds that is causing us to do this – we simply made a choice.

One year we did Christmas for a family of 22+ (now even bigger with 2 grandchildren born in the past two weeks) with points earned at Shoppers Drugs, Mastercard, and Zellers. This last year my wife knit and sewed things for almost everyone (a little more expensive – but heavy on the love). This year I’m thinking we will use some of the 3/4 of a million Aeroplan miles I have accumulated now that the older ones will soon be stale dated. For three years – if not four – we have ended the Christmas season with no debt arising out of the festivities and have seriously enjoyed Christmas more this way as we know there will be absolutely no sweat when the Visa statement comes in. It all starts with a choice.

Let’s admit it – is there anything you really need for Christmas? When I was a kid it was PJ’s, socks, underwear and hankerchiefs (remember them). Maybe a toy or a book. Now everyone has all the basics of life and if they don’t they don’t wait for Christmas to buy them – they use their credit card and buy what they need right away. So, maybe it is time for Christmas to go back to well thought out gifts that are made or selected with some deep thought and creativity. Gifts of love and not gifts of convenience or necessity.

So, I’m asked – “What do you want for Christmas?” Nothing, thanks – don’t need more clothes as I buy everything I wear (and I am well dressed) at Walmart and Mark’s Work Wearhouse a nd Giant Tiger when they are on sale. I don’t need another book as I have a hundred I have already bought and have not had time to read – 95 of which will still be unread at Christmas – the other 5 will be read as I fly to various preaching venues in the coming 6 weeks before Christmas. I don’t need anything, thank you. And, really, I don’t want anything either. Can’t think of one thing I might like or would use. Makes me hard to buy for. Right! Now you are getting the picturte. Don’t buy me anything. Hugs are free. A phone call is free. A cup of coffee and a chat is inexpensive (I don’t like Starbucks).

I know what I want for Christmas – a whole day with the Lord uninterrupted by emergencies, teachings to prepare, and ministry to do! And that, folks, will be my gift to myself. Along with not entering Walmart again until that insipid music comes to an end.

Sitting in a Hotel

I am sitting in a hotel in Saskatoon – waiting for a lunch appointment that is in half an hour. I’m here as my dog and faithful companion is having cataract surgery on both eyes. He is only 1.5 years old and so we decided that, as a family member with lots of life left in him, we were going to make this substantial investment of money and time. I also have ten grandchildren and they would never forgive me if they knew I could have helped him and didn’t.

Came into town yesterday for preliminaries – had a great three hour lunch with a super-terrific pastor here in the city while Cuddles (he is appropriately named) was having the tests done. Today is the all day operation and recovery… in at 8 a.m. and ready for pick-up at 5 p.m. Then tomorrow morning we check in again at 9:00 a.m. and then head home. Good thing too as I teach tomorrow night and fly to Ukraine the morning after. His first stay in a hotel – and he has been super (of course as we are staying at the Super Eight Hotel) – although he is not sure why he can hear people walking around in his “house” without his permission. Nor is he sure who they all are and why they are all here. He thinks he owns the whole hotel. At the price of the room – I think we should!

Today – my office (briefcase on lap – laptop on briefcase – Blackberry on the side table (no desk in this hotel room …it’s okay as they are all too high -or the chairs are too low – anyways). Have had a quiet and creative three hours writing material that is needed to be published while I am away in Ukraine. Same thing I did for five hours last night while dog-sitting.

Of course, I spent lots of time on breaks to love the dog up as these are fairly tramatic days for him – and every two hours I had to put drops in his eyes – five different kinds, five minutes apart – three times during the evening. He needed lots of loving up. I needed lots of loving up. I am crazy about dogs – especially this one. But then, who would have ever noticed, right?

Just back from a three hour lunch with a pastor here in this city whose heart is on fire for Jesus and who is very aware of what the Lord is doing today as He calls His people into relationship with Him – even at the cost of killing religion – even the born again kind of religion. Great three hour lunch. It’s neat to be able to talk openly about Jesus and His love for us and our love for Him and for His Church. Powerful time of sharing – and yes, we talked a little business but only that which was necessary so that we could call it (and charge it) as a business lunch.

Just picked my dog up at the University Vet faculty. Operation went well – thanks for asking. He is still groggy and so is asleep at my feet as I type. Up to six kinds (from five) of medicine and so they go in twice tonight at 5 minute intervals and in a specific order and I think I am in need of having a degree from the University to get all their written (thank goodness) instructions and timing straight. As of tomorrow afternoon – it all becomes my wife’s concern as I will be packing for Ukraine and flying (actuallu the plane does the flying – I do what I’m good at which is sitting) to Ukraine. She’s much smarter than I am so she will have it all figured out and organized in a jiffy.

Talk with you tomorrow – probably about something a little more substantial than my dog’s medical issues – you know, like the election in the USA… But you can’t cuddle up with an election.

In Anticipation of Great Things!

This Thursday I will step on a plane here in Regina – fly to Minneapolis where I will meet up with my other team members (flying in from Saskatoon). Then after customs clearance and supper we board a flight to Amsterdam, Holland. Ten hours later we board another flight for Kiev, Ukraine. We arrive at 4:25 Friday afternoon in Kiev and drive out to our first week of meetings being held in Boyorka. This is my fourth trip to this great nation.

Saturday morning we start teaching and ministering prophetically – three times a day straight through to Wednesday evening. We will teach twice on that day and then at 7:00 p.m. board an electrica (electric train) to travel south for 11 hours arriving at 6:00 a.m. in the morning at our second location – the city of Krasnoarmeysk. We arrive at 6:00 a.m. Thursday and start ministering at 2:00 p.m.

We continue there right through to the next Thursday teaching 3 times a day and then get put on the electrica at 9:00 p.m. on the Thursday (20th) arriving just in time to drive to the airport to fly out. The flight home flies into the sunrise all night (9 hours time difference between there and here) and so we arrive back in Regina (via Amsterdam and Minneapolis) at 11:35 p.m. the same day we fly out of Kiev – after 11 hours on an electrica and 20 hours of airports and airplanes. It’s a big world and we are half way around on the other side.

Jet lag could be a definite possibility here. Tired – definitely. I hope to have computer connections in every location. If I do, I will be posting daily blogs on what is happening as we minister in the various locations. The Sunday (the 23rd) I will be preaching in both Regina and Oxbow and so will be expecting to share wuith you know what the Lord did during this ministry trip to this great nation. I’m expecting great things!

Of course, your prayers would be greatly appreciated. Pray for wisdom and insight. Pray for power as we need miracles, signs and wonders to be very evident as we evangelize, train, equip, teach, and minister prophetically. We will need His strength as the schedule is fairly demanding. Pray as well for the team as we learn how to work together and minister in a way that uses our different strengths and as we adjust to speaking through interpreters. And, that it is all done in such a way as to bring great glory and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ.