And Then There Is One

As you read this – we will be well into our routine of ministering three times a day in Ukraine. The day begins early with preparation – looking over the teachings of the day – because once we are in the flow of the day’s activities there is no time to prepare or review. It is straight ministry through to the time you fall back into bed at the end of the day.

Whenever God wants to do something upon the face of the Earth He raises up an individual to lead the way. The Bible is full of examples – Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Caleb, Gideon, Esther, Jesus… just to name a few.

Often preachers talk about how God wants to “raise up an army” but in many parts of the Bible we see God was first and foremost interested in raising up an individual. And often that individual did not have the kind of qualifications that we would be looking for to head up a movement that would change the world.

In the history of the Christian Church we have seen the same story … God selecting one person and then using them – after a period of preparation – to start a movement that would change the course of world history. My favourite example of that is John Wesley who, historians tell us, helped to keep England from going the same route in history as France during the period of social upheaval known as the Revolution.

God got ahold of him – a priest of the Church of England – and after his encounter with God on Aldersgate Street he went on to form what is now the Methodist Church. God grabbed hold of the MAN – the MAN had a MESSAGE – the MESSAGE brought many who became followers and so there was a need for a METHOD to disciple them. This allowed for mature and solid believers or disciples and spauned a MOVEMENT because others saw life in what was happening and joined in with John and his brother Charles and the others.

The issue then is that as the leader or leaders begin to die off you need to have raised up a new point man – otherwise, once the leader (founder) dies things often (but not always) slip into a MEMORY and then in time we are errecting MONUMENTS to these past great men and women of God. At the same time the MOVEMENT they were part of grinds to a halt and fossilizes in time and becomes a MAUSOLEUM. All life is gone and we have an organization but it is no longer a living and breathing organism as the Church should be.

Other current examples of this today would include Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship, Women’s Aglow, and Promise Keepers just to name three. I am sure we could add a great number of local churches into this list as well. All started as the heart vision of one person. And now, having lost life and having fulfilled their purpose they try to reinvent themselves often getting into areas of ministry that were not in their original calling or purpose and which are really the territory of the local church (Bible studies, hospital visiting, marriage seminars, prayer meetings…). Instead, they should simply close up shop and say – “job done and task accomplished, we are no longer needed.”

Look around – there are new movements beginning that you can join and again make a difference in the world. These movements are being led by young men and women and are already beginning to be noticed by others. Their momentum is growing (gee, another “M”). If you have been part of another move – you are welcome to join as they could use your wisdom and experience. If you just got saved you are welcome to join. Young or old you are welcome to be a part of what the Lord is doing upon the face of the Earth today. Look for the leader -the one God has selected to lead in your area of the world.

He is currently looking for others to join with Him. Age does not matter … Caleb was one man who had a warrior spirit in him. … The spirit of a warrior is not dimmed by age or time.

Joshua 14:10-11 “Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.”

Oh, my original comment re. raising up an army – I believe God is. And, He already has appointed His point man – His Name is Jesus. Jesus is tough, manly, noble and the personification of courage. He is a warrior of the highest rank, the Commander in Chief of the Lord’s armies (and the Church as an army), the one with fire in His eyes and a double-edged sword in His hand. He has begun to raise up the army and He is it’s Leader. There are many others who will follow and obey and become leaders in their own right – but, when all is said and done – “then there is One” and He is Jesus our Commander-in-Chief.

Revival Finney Style

As you read this – we will be well into our routine of ministering three times a day in Ukraine. The day begins early with preparation – looking over the teachings of the day – because once we are in the flow of the day’s activities there is no time to prepare or review. It is straight ministry through to the time you fall back into bed at the end of the day.

“A revival is no more a miracle than a crop of wheat… Revival occurs when you go to bed exhausted and wake up exhausted.” Charles G. Finney

I like Charles Finney and his down-to-earth approach to the Christian faith and the whole realm of revival. There is so much out there on the internet and in print that is simply not true when it comes to a renewal, a revival, an awakening or other times when the Holy Spirit moves mightily and begins to touch people’s lives in dramatic ways – especially salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Revival – any move of God for that matter – is birthed in prayer even though it is a sovereign move of God. Prayer is hard work when it’s approached biblically and not merely a “blag and grab” session claiming verses at random that suit your own selfish and fleshly desires.

Paul comments on the prayer life and prayer ministry of Epaphras (Colossians 4:12-13a) “Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. I can assure you that he has agonized for you …”

God’s Word version puts it this way … “Epaphras…always prays intensely for you … he works hard for you…”

Once the move of God is birthed – if it is a true move of God and not more hype – then people will be convicted of their sins and cry out to God. They will need others to come along side them to pray with them. Those that truly repent with godly sorrow and are converted and born again will then need to be discipled, brought to maturity, equipped, mentored, and released into both their ministry and the work of the Church – to evangelize the lost or “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). This too can make one tired – contented that the will of God is being done but tired none-the-less.

Of course, most moves of the Holy Spirit are opposed both by the world, the flesh and the devil – not to mention other believers. In fact, often it is those who were involved in the previous revival or renewal who will persecute and oppose the current move because the “flow of the Spirit” is so different from what they have experienced and thus they believe it is not a valid move. This too can be very tiring – especially for those in leadership.

Then when the move of the Spirit wanes and eventually stops – more work! There will be a season of dealing with the disappointment of those who have been involved as well as much time spent explaining why things have come to an end and what they are to do now that they have. Again, you will go to bed tired and wake up tired. If not physically – then emotionally and maybe even spiritually.

There is a serious price to pay to see a fresh move of God come upon the Church and your church. The price is paid upfront and on your knees. The price is paid as the Spirit begins to move. The price is paid after the move has ceased for whatever reason. I believe that one of the main reasons we don’t see a move of God very often and, when we do, it fades quickly is that we are not willing to put the hard work in that is required to welcome, birth, sustain and maintain it. Maybe we are simply too comfortable and too wrapped up in what will be, one day, fairly insignifigant and inconsequential concerns when seen in the light of eternity and lost souls in Hell. Maybe we are just too comfortable with the status quo (Latin for “the mess we are in”).

As I get older (and hopefully wiser) I am being purposely neglegent about a lot of things – just not getting involved, totally ignoring them, or delegating them to others. I want to focus more on seeking more of God and praying for the revival we hear so much about in the many prophetic words spoken over North America.

Strength in the Lord

As you read this – we will be well into our routine of ministering three times a day in Ukraine. The day begins early with preparation – looking over the teachings of the day – because once we are in the flow of the day’s activities there is no time to prepare or review. It is straight ministry through to the time you fall back into bed at the end of the day.

Before I was born again – and I admit that was a long time ago and my memory may be fading a bit – it seems to me that when I got together with those I hung around with we had a good time. We talked about neat things that were happening and experiences we had recently had. We caught up on each other’s news and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a positive and uplifting time together.

I was thinking about this the other day. And then I began to wonder why it is that when born again Christians get together – a lot of the time we talk about our personal problems, family issues (nice word for more problems), the trouble with the nation and the way it is moving towards fewer Christian values, and assorted other issues and concerns. And, maybe I’m wrong or hang out with the wrong people but it always seems somewhat negative and pessimistic as if there is really nothing that we, as believers, can really do about it. Maybe it is because I’m a pastor and so people feel free to share their personal problems as soon as we sit down. Maybe they are overwhelmed by the problems that they face. Maybe they think that is all pastors ever talk about – I mean, what else would a pastor be interested in talking about?

So, I asked myself, “Self, what ever happened to just sharing and enjoying each other’s company and being optimistic and excited about life? Why did all that disappear and go south all of a sudden? What happened?”

Then I ran head first into this verse from God’s Word, the Bible. (1 Samuel 30:6) “Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”

Did you notice? King David apparently has mega problems and issues that are going to need his immediate attention. But, David was not talking to his men about the isues and problems and the fact that, as their leader, he was being blamed for what had just happened to the women and children of the settlement. David didn’t sit around arguing and discussing the problem with his men, nor did he try to convince them to change their minds.

Instead, the Bible records, “David found strength in the Lord his God.” Here’s the secret to following God – and pushing through the obstacles that Satan throws in your way. Talk to God about the problems and issues of your life. Afterall, He is the most capable (and willing, I may add) Person around to help you. He is the One with the most wisdom. He is the only One with whom nothing is impossible and everything is Himpossible.

Yet, we spend a lot of time and wasted energy talking (and complaining) to others who are either in a similar or worse mess hoping they have a solution. No! We share with others hoping they can sympathize and at least understand our point of view and agree with us that life (and the situation we are complaining about) really does suck and we are certainly not deserving of all that is happenin to us – in fact, we are being victimized! Ah! That makes us feel a bit better for a short time. But, it never fixes the problem and never deals with the issue.

But, talking with God just might give us a different perspective on our issues and inviting Him into the situation might even bring some resolution to the issues that we face. If nothing else, like David in the midst of his serious situation, we would find encouragement and understand that God is with us and that He never has and never will forsake us regardless of the things that we are facing.

Next time you go out for coffee with a believer – why not spend some time ahead of the arranged appointment and talk with God – encourage and strengthen yourself in the Lord as David did … “David found strength in the Lord his God.”

Then, when you do meet with your friend for coffee you will actually have fellowship – which is a coffee centered around what the Lord is doing in your life. And, He will have just recently (a few hours before) encouraged and strengthened you. Now you will have a neat testimony and fresh manna to share with them. Ah! True Christian fellowship and a positive and uplifting time together with another believer. Precious.

Ukraine Mission Trip – Second Sunday Report

Our second Sunday in Ukraine. We are now in the city of Krasnoarmeysk in the south-east of the nation (12 hours by car from where we were ministering last week). We arrived on Thursday and went straight to bed.

Then Friday and Saturday we had the exciting experience of ministering to youth from 5 or 6 nations who packed out the sanctuary of the church we are ministering in until late next Thursday night. Loud, alive, powerful, dynamic, supernatural, life-changing, an overwhelming experience for me personally. I preached and prayed for 18 hours a day and thought I had gone to Heaven. What a powerful experience.

Then this morning (3 a.m. your time) I preached and ministered at their regular noon-time Sunday service. Again, God was faithful and touched a number of people supernaturally as only He can do.

We leave here this coming Friday (Thursday your time) and drive for several hours to the city of Dnipropetrovsk where we will minister Friday evening, 3 services on Saturday and then their regular Sunday noon-time service. That will bring our public ministry time to an end after 18 days of steady work. However, there will be many who will want prayer and prophecy before we manage to climb aboard the plane in Kiev on Tuesday morning.

A Quick Stop At Shoppers

As you read this – we will be well into our routine of ministering three times a day in Ukraine. The day begins early with preparation – looking over the teachings of the day – because once we are in the flow of the day’s activities there is no time to prepare or review. It is straight ministry through to the time you fall back into bed at the end of the day.

(Note: “Shoppers” is a national drug store chain here in my nation – often open 24 hours a day and usually containing a post office outlet.)

Church service and fellowship time was over – I was heading home for a quick bowl of soup before heading out to drive 260 Km to another church for an evening service. On the way home I passed Shoppers and stopped in to pick up the mail from the church’s mail box – and hopefully talk to the young person who often is behind the counter in the evenings and on weekends. Last time we talked he had just received notice of fewer hours due to the downturn of the economy and thus fewer shoppers making purchases. He was working on joining several other department teams so he could continue to work full hours and not lose any income.

Well, Shane was behind the counter and it was not busy at all in the store (it was lunch hour). So, I was able to get the mail out of the box and lean across the counter and ask how he was doing. He was surprised that I had remembered the conversation and that I was stopping to ask about his work hours and if he had been successful in finding working hours in other departments to make up for what he had lost in the regular areas where he worked. He was genuinely “touched” by the fact that I remembered and that I cared enough to ask how he was doing.

Conversation over – on to the pharmacy to pick up an aditional supply of perscription drugs so I have enough when overseas for three weeks later this month. Got them – and I’m heading out looking forward to the bowl of soup. God says to go back to the post office and talk to Shane again. I know -sounds strange – but I have learned to follow these little promptings and I’m always amazed at what happens.

He was, of course, surprised to see me a second time. I actually ended up buying some Diet Pepsi stacked near the post office outlet he was tending so he would not back off wondering what I was up to. The Diet Pepsi was on sale and I drink it so it was a small price to pay to manage to ease in to another conversation without appearing like I was targeting him.

How do you start a second conversation with omeone you hardly know? Well, people like to talk about themselves so I asked him about the two new piercings that were on his face just below his bottom lip. He was so excited someone had noticed as they were brand new the day before. So, I asked several obvious questions – Did it hurt to get them inserted? Any particular reason for getting them? Why did he choose to get them there and not over an eyebrow or around the bottom lip? (he already has his ears pierced and stretched and wears plugs with a happy face on them – so ears were not an option). He answered all of my questions excitedly and apparently pleased that someone noticed AND asked him about his latest investment. He showed me how they attach on the inside, talked about his parent’s reactions to his newest piercings (totally against), adding that he also had a nipple pierced and was looking forward to his first tattoo after he figues out what he wants to have tattooed on to his body … on and on.

Folks, I hardly know the young man. I have been friendly and spoken to him a number of times in the past few months. He does not know what I do for a living. I was just another guy talking to him about his life and the way he was currently expressing it. And, I accepted him for who he is and how he is expressing his life – where both his parents do not accept what he has just done and have spoken somewhat directly and harshly to him about it. So, he was finding acceptance and understanding from someone (almost a total stranger) even older than his parents and he was taking it all in.

I had to leave – I needed to eat and leave town as I had a deadline in the town I was heading to. So, I picked up my Diet Pepsi and headed to the opposite end of the store to leave … and he walked along with me leaving the post office unattended while he did so. We talked the whole way to the door – stopping several times so we would not be overheard as he shared about his life – his hopes and dreams.

Neat encounter – and seeing the sale on Diet Pepsi ends today I am heading back over this afternoon and hope to continue to conversation. I do believe an invite over to the coffee shop on the same parking lot is in order if our schedules can mesh and I’m available when his shift ends.

Pray for this young man as I believe he would be open to hearing the Gospel.

Many Called – Few Chosen

As you read this – we will be well into our routine of ministering three times a day in Ukraine. The day begins early with preparation – looking over the teachings of the day – because once we are in the flow of the day’s activities there is no time to prepare or review. It is straight ministry through to the time you fall back into bed at the end of the day.

The Bible states: “…many are called but few are chosen…” Matthew 22:14. Well, God calls every person to Himself. He wants a personal relationship with every person born into the world. His love is all encompassing and all inclusive.

But not every person wants to walk with God and all that this might involve. Others start by saying the sinner’s prayer – but it was simple emotion of the moment and goes no where. Some are born again and then fizz out because they don’t take the time to grow. For others the world entices them back and they walk away from the Lord (backsliders). More than a few renounce their faith and deny Christ.

Many are called but… Maybe the verse is better stated: Many are called – but few choose to follow. And, if you choose to follow – what does this involve? Well, you chose to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. You chose (hopefully) to take seriously the building of a relationship with Him. You chose to turn your back on sin (the world, the flesh, and the devil). You chose to count the cost and pay the price. You chose to be baptized – making a public declaration of your faith, become a member of the church and to die to the old and rising to the new (a new creature in Christ, a new way to live).

Many are called because “God wills all men to be saved”. 1 Timothy 2:4 But, only a few respond. Only a few respond to His call and then go on to build that relationship because we have free will. So, you are “the ones chosen by God” and, of your own free will, you have chosen to say ‘yes’ to God

But, called to what?

Called to be a disciple or follower. Jesus said: “Follow Me (disciple) and I will make you…” Matthew 4:19.

Called to connect to others who believe in Jesus… “Christianity is more than believing, it is belonging.” You were called to be a part of the Body of Christ. You cannot be a Christian by yourself. We could call this membership.

Called to grow and develop. You cannot just say a sinner’s prayer and think it’s done and everything is fine. In the Christian faith we have things called “disciplines” that help us to grow in our walk with God.
 Daily prayer
 Daily Bible reading
 Bible study
 Praise and worship
 Fasting
 Serving
 Giving
 Tithing
 Assembling together

We need to be growing and maturing, changing and adjusting. We need to grow into maturity.

Called to serve others. 1 Peter 2:9 (The Message Version) “You are the ones chosen by God … God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you.”

We are “…God’s instruments to do His work…” and every member is a minister. We are called to ministry.

Called to reach others. To “…speak out for him, to tell others…” Matthew 28:18-20 (The Message) “God authorized and commanded Me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

This is our mission – our life mission.

Called to do all this – and everything in life – in such a way that we constantly glorify and magnify the Name of Jesus … pointing others to Him. Magnify!

Member – Maturity – Ministry – Mission – Magnify. That is what we have chosen to become involved in as a born again believer. Many have chosen not to follow the Lord but when we do say “yes” to Him then we are given a specific path we are to follow and definite things we are called to do! And, none of it is optional!

You Have Got to Be Kidding

Luke 6:46 states “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” The apostle John confirms Jesus’ words: (1 John 2:3-6) “And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. If someone says, ‘I belong to God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. But those who obey God’s word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.”

Very clear in what is being expressed. Very pointed as to the connection between living according to God’s Word and being a believer or a Christian. In other words, a Christian or believer is someone who lives according to God’s Word and obeys what the Lord has spoken.

In some research recently in the U.S.A. by Barna Group we find detailed the findings of a study in which he analyzed more than 10,000 personal interviews from around the nation -and discovered that most people who claim to be Christian don’t have the mind of God on imporant issues. Here’s what Barna reported:

84% said their religious faith is very important in their own life
70% claimed that their own religious faith is consistently growing deeper
84% claimed to be Christians
60% said they believe the Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches
75% said they are absolutely or somewhat committed to Christianity

But the same people also deemed the following behaviors and lifestyles “morally acceptable”:
Cohabitation – 60%
Abortion – 45%
Adultery – 42%
Sexual relations between homosexuals – 30%
Gambling – 61%
Poronography – 38%
Use of profanity – 36%

The conclusion: The respondents either don’t know God’s Word or choose not to abide by it. Clearly, a decision to follow Christ does not supernaturally impart the wisdom found in God’s Word. But rather than studying it, far too many evangelicals are living from church service to church service or religious experience to religious experience – a habit that will not help them develop the foundation they need to navigate life successfully according to God’s will.

(Charisma – January, 2009)

This means that many who believe that they are true converts or real Christians are going to find out one day that they are not. To be a believer (disciple) a person needs to know God’s Word, “abide in that Word” (according to Jesus – John 15) and live out His Word in their daily lives. One cannot depend only on a once-a-week feeding on a Sunday through a sermon as good as the teaching may be. One must feed on God’s Word daily – reading and heeding that Word. Being a hearer only is not good enough, the Bible states. One must read and heed – applying the truths one discovers to one’s life immediately.

And we have far too many who are basing their Christian walk and beliefs on experiences – subjective experiences – instead of on God’s objective Word. So, they go from one experience to another believing they are hearing God and doing what God would have them do – when nothing could be further from the truth. They are simply deceived – self-deceived but deceived none-the-less.

It is time to strongly recommend to God’s people that to be a believer means to believe – believe God’s Word as it is stated in the Bible. And, more than that, it means to apply that Word to every day life, circumstances and situations. One cannot, as a true believer, live by their personal experiences or their personal opinions. We must read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest God’s Word and build our house (life) upon the rock and no longer build a house-of-cards upon the sand that will topple at the first sign of trouble … causing people to lose a faith they never really embraced in the first place.

It is time to take God and His Word seriously – and to place our opinions and experiences on the back burner – and then turn the heat off under the latter and turn the heat up under the former. Let’s become passionate for God’s Word and show the world what can happen when God’s people actually believe and apply God’s Word!

Ralph is currently overseas ministering in Ukraine. He returns on March 3rd. These daily blogs were written before he left due to his inability to access the internet while away. They are being posted by his personal assistant each day – and he will personally answer all of your responses and entries upon his return to Canada. Enjoy – and if led to please remember to pray for Ralph and his team as they minister three times a day while overseas.

Ukraine Mision trip – First Sunday Report

As you read this I will be ministering in the City of Boyorka, Ukraine. My team and I arrived in mid-afternoon on Wednesday local time after 29 hours of flights and airports. A nice meal and then to our rooms so that we could unpack, relax a bit and finally get some sleep.

On Thursday we began to minister. This morning as you read this we will have finished our work for Sunday as it is 7:00 p.m. here in Ukraine. Since we began to minister we have been in 10 services (3 a day and 1 on Sunday).

There are only two of us on the team this time – myself and Bob MacDonald from Saskatoon whom I have trained and released as an apostle in Life Builders Network and now overseas to the nation of Ukraine. Each day one of us gets to have the morning off (a new feature this trip) while the other ministers. This allows us a few hours every other day to spend an extended time in the presence of God so that we can be refreshed personally and spiritually (Acts 3:19) and even get a little extra sleep.

God is moving mightily and He is blessing many through the three teachings a day as well as through personal prophetic ministry. We are excited to be here and look forward to sharing more when we are back in Canada and have had opportunity to reflect a bit.

Accuracy Begins With Intimacy

As you read this – we will be well into our routine of ministering three times a day in Ukraine. The day begins early with preparation – looking over the teachings of the day – because once we are in the flow of the day’s activities there is no time to prepare or review. It is straight ministry through to the time you fall back into bed at the end of the day.

One of the key issues when ministering in Ukraine or anywhere for that matter is finding time to remain in touch with the Lord with whom and for whom you are ministering. Jesus said that He did only what He saw the Father do and spoke only what He heard the Father say. That means He spent quality time with the Father daily so that He could see and hear.

When I’m home working from my office – I go to the study first and have my time with the Lord – Bible reading, prayer, study, journaling. Then I go into the office and make the phone calls, handle the emails, do the paperwork … then in the afternoon I head out to be with people – helping, listening, praying with them, witnessing to them. After a quick supper – most nights I head out to teach somewhere. But, I work hard at carving out that time with the Lord in my study before the activities of the day begin. If I don’t get it early in the day – the day seems to take over and I simply don’t get it.

When you are not at home base – but are “on the road” ministering somewhere – the routines that help maintain your connection with the Lord simply are not there. I do seminars and conferences – which mean you teach and minister all day and often into the evening. It leaves little time or energy to have that connecting time with the Lord.

The problem arises when you minister prophetically which I tend to do. Accuracy in the prophetic begins with intimacy with the Holy Spirit and Jesus. So, if you are finding little time or energy at either end of the day to connect with the Lord and thus remain intimate with Him – then the ministry you are doing in His Name can tend to suffer. Your prophetic words will not be quite as pure or as sharp as they could be and really should be.

It is a real problem that all who minister “on the road” need to keep uppermost in their minds. When planning and organizing schedules for ministry (which I am doing the day I write this in mid-January) one must always remember that there needs to be time to simply minister to the Lord and spend time with Him so that He can also minister to you. There truly are “times of refreshing in the presence of our God” and we need to find – actually consciously make – time to be with Him daily in spite of or because of the schedule of ministry for the day.

And, it is no different for anyone who has a job to go to every day because that is your ministry. Paul states that we are “to do all things as unto the Lord” and so your current job is where you are called to minister. So, the truth I am writing about is applicable to you as well – accuracy (in ministering to others) begins with intimacy (between you and God).

Carefully guard your daily time with the Lord. It is precious and absolutely necessary.

A Pleasant Afternoon Concert

Ralph is currently overseas ministering in Ukraine. He returns on March 3rd. These daily blogs were written before he left due to his inability to access the internet while away. They are being posted by his personal assistant each day – and he will personally answer all of your responses and entries upon his return to Canada. Enjoy – and if led to please remember to pray for Ralph and his team as they minister three times a day while overseas.

I was on my way to our Sunday morning worship service. On my way (a five minute drive from where I live) I pass two church buildings. Both have signs on their property. On one was the typical bits of information – times of services, name of pastor, and church phone number. On the other there was an announcement that read: “Join us today for a pleasant afternoon concert” – this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.).

My reaction surprised me. I immediately thought – why are we holding “pleasant afternoon concerts” when people are not hearing the Gospel and don’t know what it is that Jesus did for them and what it is that He now offers them as a result of His death on the Cross of Calvary. I mean I didn’t know the Church was in the business of offering “pleasant afternoon concerts” for the community.

I then reconsidered and thought that I should repent. My thoughts went like this: Well maybe, just maybe, they are offering “a pleasant afternoon concert” to attract people to the building who would not normally come to a Sunday morning worship service. Then they can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. But would that not be a little deceptive? Bring them in for one thing and then spring another agenda on them?

Then I began to wonder what the community in general thinks about ‘the Church’ … if it actually does think about the Church, I mean. In my work on the streets and in the coffee shops talking to people about Jesus – when I ask people what they think the Church is all about I get a variety of answers and have never had someone say, “well, the Church is to be about the Father’s business like Jesus, the Founder of the Church, was. And, that business is to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10)”. People honestly are confused about what the purpose of the Church is today in their community. Well, holding “a pleasant afternoon concert” is not going to help clear the matter up for those who walk or drive past this church building every day.

I’m not talking marketing strategies here. I’m just concerned that many people in our society today are clueless as to why the Church exists and what it is the Church is called to do or is doing in their community. As a result they simply never think of the Church and its work or – if they do have a passing thought about this organization – they simply write it off as somewhat irrelevant to their lives.

I’m still driving up to the school gym where my local church holds its Sunday worship assembly. Here’s where my thinking went. So, there are two questions that we – the Church of Jesus Christ – need to wrestle with …
1> What business are we in?
2> How’s business?

Now, don’t get hung up on the word “business” thinking that I’m talking about marketing strategies or advertising gimmics … I’m just talking about the “purpose” of the Church and the “mandate” or marching orders that the Founder of the Church stated was the reason for the Church’s existence. In other words, what was the reason Jesus had in mind for establishing the Church? We need to wrestle with that question.

Biblically – what is the purpose of the Church – the business that we are in?
What is it that Jesus would have the local church do on His behalf since He is the Head (or CEO) of the Church?
What is it that He is expecting us to accomplish in His Name?
What does it mean to be an “ambassador for Christ” in today’s world?
What is the message that we should be declaring to the world on His behalf?
What does He mean when He states: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”?
Is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) still foundational to the work of the Church today?
What are we going to be accountable for when we face Him on our personal judgment day?

Just something to mull over on your coffee break at work today. Or, if you work with a believer – something to chat about with them as you share some down time from the everyday pressures of the job you are involved in. Maybe take a few minutes by yourself later today or tonight and think about some of these thoughts. Afterall, you are the church – so we are really talking about you here!