Friends and the Gospel

This past weekend while speaking with someone I had met many years ago she mentioned that no one where her son worked knew he was a believer. This is a young man I know and had actually taught at a Bible School many years ago. He had interned with the church I was pastoring and even went overseas with me on a mission trip to Ukraine. He has a very respectable job and is a great person I am sure – he was always a man of character and one who could be counted on. However, I was really struck by her comment and it has haunted me ever since Sunday morning. No one he works with knows that he is a Christian.

Folks, our friends and those we are working with need to know that we are believers. There is no reason to be ashamed of what we believe. It is not something that needs to be hidden from others. If we are ashamed to confess Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as Lord here and now in our daily life – the Bible states that He will not acknowledge us as one of His when He comes in His glory (Mark 8:38). Like Paul we must not be ashamed of the Gospel as it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Even when it is not acceptable to be a born again Christian (and in this nation it is not an acceptable thing today) we must let others know what we believe because, in reality, it is who we are. To not speak up and tell others is to deny who we are at our very core – a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

People who know us are looking at us to determine what they think of Jesus. One of the questions that postmoderns are implicitly asking as they consider the faith is, “Do I want to be like you?” May God grant us grace to live in such a way that they might say yes to that questions and ultimately say yes to Jesus. However, they won’t even know you are a Christian and a follower of Jesus unless your life and your words let them know. People will not know by osmosis – you will have to tell them that you are a God-believer and a follower (apprentice) or disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is something I take seriously because the Lord takes it seriously. He came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and then sent His Church (you and me) out into all the world (Matthew 28:18) to do exactly the same as we go about the normal activities in our daily lives. This is something I am constantly thinking about and something I anticipate every day as I leave my home to walk the dog, buy gas, get groceries, fetch the mail…. It is something I have learned I must be intentional about or else it will not happen in my life. It makes my life interesting, even exciting, and most certainly an adventure.

Every day I try to read a little bit on evangelism and soul winning to refresh my skills and to hear what othes are doing and how they are doing it. Yesterday, on line, I purchased several items from an evangelism ministry to read and watch so as to stay on the cutting edge of what is happening in evangelism. I invest time and money into this aspect of my walk with the Lord. I want to be like Him and He said “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19) and so I want to stay current on all there is to know and learn about fishing.

In May, 2011 (I know – it is a whole year away) I will be teaching supernatural evangelism in Belarus – a nation where it is not beneficial to be a Christian or to let others know that you are a believer. However, in spite of the opposition to the Gospel in their nation the young people there want to know how to share the Gospel in a real and relevant way with others. And, of course, we will teach them to do it supernaturally using the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). They will be risking a great deal to do this and God will honor them for their willingness.

What are you willing to do and risk for the Kingdom and the King so as to be obedient to the Scriptures and become a soul winner?

Please be praying for the young people of Belarus and for our ministry as we begin even now to prepare and gather the finances needed to hold and pay for this school of supernatural evangelism helping people to let their world know of the goodness of God as found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Youth of Belarus

It has now been three weeks since I returned from the nation of Belarus. I have had a busy three weeks with several weekend seminars, numerous trips out of the city, appointments and meals with some wonderful people, and little time for desk work. However, I am thankful for laptop computers and wireless cafes that allow me to stay connected to the world and the youth I work with via email.

I know many of the youth are on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter … and there are Russian-speaking equivalents of these as well … but I still prefer email and one-to-one connecting via the internet and Skype. And some of the youth I met and ministered with and ministered to in Belarus have been keeping in touch sending me updates about their lives and what is happening between the Lord and themselves… and it is always good to hear from them.

During one of our weeks in that nation we focused specifically on the youth and the issue of “character” kept coming up over-and-over again. Young men who were without a job – and were not going to school either…simply living at home and being supported by their parents while they did nothing. Some did not have a permanent church home where they were committed and involved but simply went from conference to conference, seminar to seminar, one special speaker after another… Others were in debt and were not managing their finances well. These and the many other issues all relate to character and are really major issues that needed to be spoken to and dealt with.

Character is basic to walking with the Lord, moving forward spiritually, accomplishing things for the Kingdom, ministering to others, the gifts and callings of God, the anointing… it is basic to everything both in Belarus and here – where it is also a major issue as far as I am concerned.

When I am looking for someone to disciple, train, equip and mentor I look first to the issues of character as these are foundational to everything a person will learn and everything they will need to become in the process of being discipled and mentored.

What is involved in character? I see character as a combination of a number of things:
1> Family … How are your family relationships and are you doing well with family members? Afterall, this is the basic building block of the Church as well as the root system for everything in later life.
2> Friends … Who are your friends and what are they like? Afteralll, birds of a feather flock together and so you can tell a lot about a person by seeing who they hang out with.
3> Fun … What does the person do for entertainment? What do they watch on television, what movies do they go to or rent, where do they hang out … is it healthy and wholesome?
4> Finances … Are their finances under control and are they working towards being out of debt? Do they understand the danger of being unequally yoked with the world’s system and drowning in debt?
5> Fruit … Are they growing in the love of God and the resulting peace, patience, joy, endurance? Do they have a right attitude – positive and faith-filled? Are they witnessing and thus bearing fruit in the form of new believers whom they are prepared to disciple?
6> Faithful … Are they firmly planted or embedded in a local church where they attend on a weekly basis? Are they personally available to help out when needed and teachable in their mind and heart?
7> Faith … Do they actually know and believe the doctrines and teachings of the Christian faith and are they earnestly contending for this faith once delivered for the saints (Jude 3)?

People today – especially youth – need to focus on these seven things so that they have a firm foundation upon which to build their relationship and walk with the Lord, their work for the Lord and their worship of the Lord. These basics are often missing because we are chasing after the spectacular, the spooky, and the super-spiritual. However, if you want to walk naturally in the supernatural as a Christian then you first need to focus on and settle these basic foundational issues of character.

Next Trip Overseas

The middle of May (May 18 to June 2) I will be returning to Eastern Europe – specifically to the nation of Ukraine. Bob MacDonald from the city of Saskatoon will be with me on this trip and we will be ministering in two places. Of course, some of my team of young apostles and prophets will join us for hands-on practice and training in each location.

In the first city we will be teaching the Walk In the Supernatural Seminar. By the time we are there it is hoped that the new manual (minus a few recent changes and additions) will be available in Russian as it is currently being translated in its entirety. Three of us will be teaching during these three days – Bob, Miroslav (my administrator for Eastern Europe and an apostle by calling) and myself.

Then we head to our second location by overnight train and during the second week we will be teaching the first ever (for us anyways) School of Apostles and Prophets. This is a new venture for Ralph Howe Ministries and much planning and preparation has gone into it by all involved. We hope to have 50 students from 5 nations and with five days of teachings (3 major sessions a day) it will allow these young men and women to move forward in major ways in their understanding of their gifts and callings as apostles and prophets in training. A second week is planned for early or mid-winter. This school will eventually have three levels with two weeks of concentrated and focused study for each level.

Of course, we will be ministering in several local churches on the two Sundays we are in Ukraine (4 services) as well as meeting with many pastors and leaders separate from the main teaching meetings that we will be doing. And, we will be meeting with leaders from other nations to plan future trips to their areas.

God has opened some major doors for us in Eastern Europe. There is, of course, some opposition to our message and the prophetic ministry that always accompanies apostles and prophets. However, what God has begun He will bring to completion and His will is always done on Earth as it is in Heaven. We simply trust Him to continue to open doors in spite of the plans of man.

If you care to donate to this trip and the School for Apostles and prophets you can do so on the main web site – on the left is a PayPal system of donating to “missions”. If you would like to become a regular financial giver to this ministry to help with on going costs click on “Partners” on the top menu bar and then “Financial” and there you will find a non-mission PayPal account for your donation.

‘Atheist Pastor’ Allowed to Keep Post

Christianity Today reports (April 2010) THE NETHERLANDS A special church assembly has decided that a Dutch pastor who wrote a book titled “Believing in a God That Does Not Exist” can keep his preaching post in the towns of Middleburg and Zierikzee. Klaas Hendrikse, a pastor in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, claims in the book that he believes in the idea of God but not in the existence of an actual God. The assembly said Hendrikse’s views are similar to those of other liberal pastors in the denomination, which will hold a meeting later this year on how to talk about God.

It would seem to me that they first need to talk to God before they discuss “how to talk about God” with others. From my vantage point they are seriously missing the point of the Church which is to make God known and to declare, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus is the only way to the Father and that He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins so that we could share His life now and forever and be sure of a place in Heaven after a person dies.

Franklin Graham Sunday night (May 2nd 2010) on The Huckabee Show on Fox Cable News Network made it plain and clear by stating that Jesus is the only Way and that He paid the penalty for our sins so that we can have a relationship now and forever with our Heavenly Father – God the creator. In 15 minutes on international televsion – regardless of the topic – he stated this basic message at least 5 times. I was shouting in my vehicle as I was driving the 400+ Km home after three days of ministry. This man is truly a minister of the Gospel and these others need to listen to his message – the message that Jesus Himself preached during His ministry and called to Church to continue after His death and resurrection.

The basic message of the Christian Church is simple and straighforward and for some reason this denominational group in Holland apparently has missed it. To even consider allowing someone who does not believe in the One true God as revealed to us in the life and ministry of Jesus (who is God born as a man – the fullness of God in human form) to remain within a denomination and even occupy a pulpit in that network of churches just makes my head spin and is totally incomprehensiable to me. Why is this man even in the ministry? Who called Him into the ministry? And dare we ask – what does he preach?

It reminds me of a book by a Gretta Vosper who is a United Church of Canada minister in Toronto (forward by John Shelby Spong who is an Anglican Bishop who does not believe in the Bible and what it states about who Jesus is and what He has accomplished on the Cross) – The book is entitled “With or Withour God” with a subtitle: “Why the way we live is more important than what we believe.” Maclean’s Magazine here in Canada (a weekly national news magagine) states “A passionately argued case for a post-Christian church.” It is simply amazing that this denomination can call it’s franchised outlets “churches” and that Maclean’s Magazine can actually state that the Church can be “post-Christian”… I think they are missing the basic truth of the Christian message and the Church.

A few years ago I sat down on a warm summer day and began working on a definition of the Christian Church … it eventually turned into almost a week’s work as I recorded my thoughts and carefully worded a definition – my definition – of the Church. I believe that the Christian Church is “a family and community of believers known as the Body of Christ with Jesus as its’ Head. As a healthy organism, with members walking in wholeness and power, we invite all others to share in Jesus Christ’s love.”

While I am at it – let me share my basic definition of the Christian faith: It is a daily, ever-deepening, dynamic, personal, unique, love relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent; empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit and lived out in long-term committed fellowhip ith other Christians in a local church.

So, based on what I believe the Christian faith is and the Church is all about I would humbly suggest to this Dutch pastor and to this Canadian pastor that they go find a job and make an honest living and stop using the Church as a platform to proclaim their own non-Christian beliefs. If you don’t believe and embrace, live and proclaim the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) then get out of the pulpit, renounce your confession of faith made publicly when you were confirmed as a teen and ordained as an adult – have some integrity and move on and create your own platform for your twisted and non-biblical beliefs.

Oh, and it might be good to seriously examine what the Bible states about who Jesus is and what Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished for us and what all this means in a person’s life today – and then get down on your knees, repent with Godly sorrow and get born again … for without repentance there is no salavation and then become a part of God’s true Church and be discipled and learn what it is to walk with the Living Jesus Christ on a daily basis.

Supernatural Christians

People are hungry – I have been in the city of Prince Albert since Friday afternoon and have recently finished a 10 hour teaching seminar on “How to Walk In the Supernatural” with 25+ in attendance. It has been an exciting weekend with many people permanently impacted by the basic Bible material being taught.

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12:1 that “Now concerning spiritual gifts I would not have you be ignorant” and yet everywhere I go it is very apparent that people are somewhat if not totally “ignorant” of the gifts – the three sets of gifts that the Bible talks about. These gifts determine who we are in Christ, what He has called each one of us to do, and what He has given to us to equip us to do what He has called us to do. In other words, who we are, what He has called us to do, where He has called us to do it and how He would like us to accomplish it. Very basic stuff – foundational to a healthy walk with the Lord and seriously basic to a vibrant and dynamic soul-winning supernatural church.

This subject is so important for what the Lord is calling the Church to accomplish that it is absolutely essential that believers everywhere come to know how to walk in the supernatural. We are called to be “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we were born again and became believers we entered the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13) as well as beginning a relationship with the Lord (Romans 6:23b and John 17:3). For this relationship to grow and for us to walk in the Kingdom we need to realize that God is supernatural (above the natural – exceeding the natural) and in calling us to walk with Him is asking us to walk in the supernatural. The supernatural realm should be the norm for the born again believer.

This is supernatural – not spooky, not spectacular, not super-spiritual. We have too many Christians who behave in ways that simply turn other people off and convince others that whatever it is they have – it is something to avoid. Some believers should be attending the granola convention along with the other fruits, flakes, and nuts and stop bothering those truly seeking the Lord and those who are actually wanting to walk with the Lord. Maybe they should get saved – become true converts!

Even in these weekend seminars I see the spooky and the spectacular and the super-spiritual. They are a direct and automatic turn-off and even I, as a believer, want to run in the other direction. They give the true Christian faith a lot of bad press. It is time for true believers to become supernatural and settle for nothing less than the real, full-meal deal! Supernatural – not spooky, spectacular or super-spiritual. Just naturally supernatural.

When out talking to others about Jesus – street corners, walking paths, skateboard parks, coffee shops, gas stations, grocery stores … a believer needs more than a good argument or a working knowledge of the Bible. We live in a post-Christian society where a vast majority of people have no “Christian consciousness”. So, to refer to the Bible does not work because it is no longer a reference point for anyone and most people do not believe it is the absolute standard for life and behaviour. So, we need to go past the standard ways of witnessing and realize that people want proof that our message is the right one and is true … that Jesus really is the only way to Heaven. And, it is time to realize that we have the ability to prove that He is the only way and that He is alive today – we have the supernatural power of God because we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

When talking to someone of another religion – Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Buddhist, Muslim or someone who has created their own personal belief structure… I have a holy book (Bible) but so do they; I pray – so do they; I have a standard to live by – so do they; I worship, they do too; I give – they give; I fast – they fast; I think my faith is the only true faith – they believe the same about their faith…. the thing I have that they do not have is power – supernatural power is mine because Jesus has been raised from the dead and I have a relationship with Him and our Heavenly Father.

So, I need to come to know how to walk in and use the supernatural power that is already mine as a born again (the anointing is within me guiding and directing – 1 John 2:27) and baptised in the Holy Spirit believer who has been empowered (Acts 1:8) and is now able to witness supernaturally with power.

Canadian in Belarus Impacting Sweden

I was in the city of Minsk and it was my first full day in the wonderful nation of Belarus. I am in a local church that is influencing and touching the lives of a number of the students at the local university so the congregation is young. The Church is young as well as it was founded 5 years previous to this by a young married man who has a string of churches that he has planted over the years of being a believer. Healthy, whole, vibrant churches. I am right at home as I really am called by God to influence the younger generation and help to move them forward into the fullness of their calling.

Near the end of my teaching that morning – I believe I gave my testimony – I see a young man (pictured above) sitting with another person (his mother I am assuming) and I receive a word for him. So, I ask if I may prophesy over him and he gives me permission. A wonderful Word of the Lord (they all are because they are from the Lord). The service ends and I head down to where he is sitting and we talk for a few minutes about prophesy, the potential that is contained in the Word of the Lord and what he should do now that he has heard directly from the heart of God for his life. We (my team) move on to a lunch with a pastor and another afternoon meeting to pray for healing of someone who has been totally housebound for 6 months.

Just this week I received an email from this young man (his name is Emanuel) and he is from Sweden. Here I am from Canada in a church in the city of Minsk, Belarus and I am blessed by God to be able to influence the eternal destiny of a young man from Sweden. A young man who is sold out to God and wants to serve God with his whole heart and life … but there is a problem (there often is, isn’t there?). He cannot hear God or, at least, is not sure which “voice” is the voice of God. A very widespread problem today in the Christian Church. Many, many believers do not believe that they hear God and some have literally never heard the voice of God. Yet the Bible states, “My sheep hear (and recognize) My voice.”

I teach a seminar called “Walking In the Supernatural” (I haven’t switched topics) and have come to realize over the years as it has matured and improved that I will need to address just this issue – hearing the voice of God. The Bible states and the seminar teaches that every believer can prophesy because the Bible teaches that in 1 Corinthians 14, among other places.
However, if you are not hearing God or are not sure that you are hearing God then it is fairly difficult to hear God for someone else. So, a real need here within the ranks of the believers.

I have been doing some research on the topic for a number of months and have three of eight teachings completed – and I am hoping by the end of June to have the series finished. It will be postd on line as both audio MP3 files and as written full scripts that can be downloaded. All this free of charge as it is imperative that believers begin to accurately hear God and know that they are hearing Him. Watch for the posting in about 6 to 8 weeks (kind of busy beginning to prepare for a soon-to-happen trip to Ukraine).

God is moving and preparing His people for something great. Please pray for Emanuel as he is a key player for the Lord in his native Sweden. And pray about the role of this ministry in that nation as we sense the Lord is about to increase our territory and open a few new nations for this ministry to work in.