Are We Missing the Burden?

Why is it that so few people witness to others about their faith and tell others about Jesus? Why is it that people are not winning souls and evangelizing as they go about their regular daily activities? I am coming to believe it is because they do not have a burden for the lost. The key word being “burden.”

People without a burden are generally people who are focused on themselves and looking for the easy, convenient, and comfortable route. Regrettable, this is the state of many people in the church today. They do not have a burden for the lost – those who are going to Hell because they do not know Jesus.

In Nehemiah’s day Jerusalem is in a mess because no one has a burden to fix it. People without a burden are content to do nothing. The people of Jerusalem were so content apparently they did not even see the problem. Though dishonoring to God and an embarrassment before the world, the status quo was fine for them.

Brad Powell in his wonderful book “Change Your Church for Good – The Art of Sacred Cow Tipping” so wonderfully points out that the people were saying by their inaction, “It may not be perfect, but it’s comfortable enough for us.” He goes on to say …”People without a burden are generally people who are focused on themseves and looking for the easy, convenient, and confortable route. Regrettably, this is the state of many of our churches.”

Brad Powell goes on to say, “Nehemiah showed up with a burden, and he passionately shared it with the people in Jerusalem. Everything changed. The people went from content and doing nothing to working sacrifically on the walls. It happened because Nehemiah shared a burden.

People in churches are generally good, sincere people. They’ve just lost the burden. Their focus has turned inward, and the result in predictable. This can all change as did the people in Nehemiah’s day. They just need someone to remind them what the church is suppose to be. They need someone to share the burden. Though most people settle for apathy, no one dreams of living a life of insignificance. Rather, they dream of making a difference, of being part of something bigger than themselves. When a leader with a burden shares that burden, it can wake people up to their dream.”

So, according to Brad Powell, it is a leadership problem. And, I agree. So, if we are going to turn the sheep around so that they begin to go in the direction the Chief Shepherd planned for them to go – to be salt and light, a force that will turn the world upside down, a mobile, apostolic people fulfilling the Great Commission – we need leaders who are committed to evangelism and have winning the lost to Jesus as a real burden in their lives.

As well, these leaders need to be good communicators (or learn to become good communicators) as they will need to share their burden for the lost in such a way that others can buy into it.

If you are a leader in a local church – or even the leader of a network, denomination or union – the people you lead need you to have and share a burden for the lost. If you don’t they will be content to simply feed on the pasture that you supply and think everything is fine in the Kingdom – because for them their needs are being met and everything appears fine … except that they are not fulfilling the task Jesus gave to the Church (to seek and save the lost) and are not using their gifts and callings to their full potential to help expand and establish the Kingdom further and further afield. They are literally in rebellion to the Lord who is the Head of the Church. So, leaders – time to get a personal burden for the lost and then learn to communicate it over and over again to your people.

This is what every church needs and needs desperately – someone to share the burden effectively.

Grow Up!

Often we tell our children they need to grow up. Sometimes I feel like telling Christians they need to grow up as many of them have still not become responsible believers. They are still not walking as mature believers with the Lord and living by His Word. They are not serving and ministering within the local church nor are they reaching out to their lost neighbors and friends. So, time to grow up.

BUT, often, all of us really need to “grow down” and become like little children to receive answers to our prayers. Sometimes we make this whole realm of the Christian faith – the realm of prayer – much too “adult” and complicated. Simple and child-like is often best when it comes to prayer. Not childish but child-like. Not selfish and me oriented which most children can be early in their lives – but excited, sincere, trusting, believing, and open.

Dare I ask… How is your prayer life these days? Well, what I am really asking is “How is your relationship with Jesus these days?” Prayer is simply part – a major part – of your daily, every deepening, dynamic, unique love relationship with God. This is the communication part of that relationship. Prayer is simply one component of your personal relationship with the Lord that is on-going 24/7 which is why Paul could say that he and we are to “pray without ceasing.” He is really saying that your relationship with the Lord, empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit, is not just a 20 minute devotional time in the morning and then you live the rest of the day having accomplished your Christian duty or obligation. Jesus wants more than to be a just one of many pieces of the pie – he wants to be the center of your life and involved in every aspect of your life 24/7.

Think of your life as a freshly baked apple pie. You have company coming so you slice it into 8 pieces and have the ice cream (or strong cheddar cheese if you grew up where I did) ready to top it off with. Each slice is separate from the others although the bigger slice you have picked out for yourself does touch two other segments. Let’s think of Jesus as that bigger segment. He touches the two pieces of the pie (your life) that are closest to the spot He occupies – say your thought life and your marriage. He influences them somewhat just because He is close to them. But the other aspects … finances, what you do for fun (entertainment), your friendships, your work situation, your ethics – well, He is far, far away and has little to no influence upon those areas or aspects of your life.

That is how most people live – and so they pray daily talking to Him about what we have allowed Him to touch (our thought life and marriage…the other two slices of the pie) and we try, in that limited time frame, to maintain or even built upon our relationship with the Lord. Time up, door closed and we get on with real life.

Jesus does not want to be a slice of the pie (your life). He wants to invade all aspects of your life – be involved in every minute of your day. So, think of a fresh apple pie once again. This time, before you slice it up, lets take and cut a circle out of the pie in the very center of it. Oh, something the size of a silver dollar (American) or a Loonie (Canadian). Cut it right out of the center of the pie (your life). This represents Jesus. He is at the center of your life and as the center He now touches all other pieces of the pie and not just the two slices on either side of Him. He can influence your family life, your marriage, your financial life, your Bible reading and study time, your work, your friendships, your thought life, your recreation and entertainment choices… He is connected to – in fact, the center of – every aspect of your very existence. Now, He can influence and touch, guide and direct each and every step that you take. Now, you can “pray without ceasing” and “do all things as unto the Lord” as the Holy Spirit states through Paul the apostle’s writings.

This means, however, that we need to “grow down“. We need, like John the Baptist, “to decrease so that He may increase.” We need to become child-like and trust Him with all and every aspect of our lives. We need to “lean not on our own understanding” but to simply trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey…like little children do when they deeply love and respect their parent.

Your Heavenly Father waits for you to “grow down” and move closer to Him. If you will simply take time during these somewhat slower summer months to “draw near unto Him, He will draw near unto you.” Trust me – if you move an inch (meter) He will come a mile (kilometer). He always does. He is waiting with arms wide open to welcome you!

A Lawless Generation Awakening to the Truth

Jesus said a sign of the last days would be the love of God growing cold in the hearts of Christians. ” And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12). We know that this is referring to Christians because the word used for “love” in the verse is “agape” and only believers can have this kind of love – as it refers to God’s love in our hearts. Non-believers cannot and do not have God’s agape love in their hearts.

This agape love in the hearts of believers will grow cold because of lawlessness or disobedience running rampant even among believers. It is like we are back in the day of Judges where “every man did what was right in their own eyes” and, of course, not always right in God’s eyes.

God has set his standards out for us – the Ten Commandments. Many today do not believe that these standards apply to Christians because we live under grace and the Ten Commandments are part of the Law. Wrong! But, they do not listen to the explanation that would bring them into a balanced understanding of biblical truth because the flesh – even of believers – wants to do whatever it wants to do. You see – the flesh has a will of its own.

John 1:13 states that there are three “wills” fighting for dominance in our daily lives… The will of the flesh, the will of man (located as your decision box in your soul area) and the will of God. Lawlessness and the resulting growing cold of love towards God happens when we allow the will of the flesh to lead and guide us – it is the old “if it feels good, do it” except we are clothing it in nice sounding Christian phrases and twisting scriptures to back up our desire to live without boundaries and external restraints. It seems somewhat irrelevant that these restraints or boundaries were put there for our own good. We want to o what feels right.

Turn on any newscast … uprising in nation after nation. Monday morning (when I am writing this blog) the news included the fact that separtists have now won a majority in Denmark, Uzbeks are fleeing from Kyrgyzs in Kyrgyzstan, mother is accused of attempting to murder her daughter, man charged with the murder of his father and sister, boy 8 used a BBQ fork to kill dog (dog was not attacking), and insurgants attack Iraq’s central bank. Just the headlines on one Canadian internet news site… “Every person doing what appears right in their own eyes” without any boundaries … lawlessness. And Christians are not exempt from this trend – although hopefully not as involved in the violent side of things.

Believers are believing whatever they want to believe – making up their own version of the faith – to suit the lifestyle they have chosen. They chose a lifestyle and then create the belief structure to support the lifestyle. Not going to church to worship with other believers, going to a coffee shop for a coffee with friends and calling it church, speaking against other believers (gift of criticism), not tithing because it is under the Law (it was really pre-law and a standard biblical financial principle), living with someone they are not married to (why not – everyone is doing it) and then getting married in a church sometime later for whatever twisted reason of logic (and without me officiating as I refuse to do so unless I see a recognition that they have been and are living in sin and see serious godly sorrow with repentance – otherwise it is simply a farse to be holding a “Christian” wedding and being married in God’s sight). Should I go on? Point made!

We are creating a lifestyle of our own choosing without regard to biblical standards and then building a set of personal beliefs around the lifestyle to justify and feel comfortable with the way we have chosen to live. This is lawlessness or, as it was once called, a heresy going by the name “Antinomianism.”

Ah! We are searching for teachers who will tickle our ears and finding them. Well, I am not one of them which is why, I am sure, I don’t sell a lot of CDs and DVDs nor do I have a growing media ministry while becoming internationally known. However, I believe there are still many good men and women out there (even a few with well-known ministries) who are “earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Often little known but faithfully preaching and teaching, discipling, training equipping and mentoring. And, I believe that many young people today are finding that the lawless lifestyle is not working and is definitely unfullfulling and morally wrong and are looking for biblical boundaries – and Bible teachers who are faithfully teaching the truths of scriptures.

I am priviledged to know a large number of them in many nations – the future of the Church is bright!

Teaching By Revelation

What the Church needs today is for their leaders to stand up and teach from the heart of God the Father to the hearts of the people. Often the leader – pastor, teacher, small group leader – study out a message from the Bible and then relate their mental understanding of these Scriptures. They speak of what God said and did instead of what He is saying and doing! Only when we speak by the Spirit of God will we speak with authority. Only when we speak fresh revelation (always in line with the accepted main doctrines of the Church) will we release life and bring transformation into people’s lives. Only by teaching “fresh manna” that we are experiencing personally can we expect the people to be fed spiritually and not just mentally.

Today many teachers are studying out the Scriptures and with the help of commentaries and study Bibles and other people’s research. They come up with their point or points to form their Sunday or mid-week teaching. The material is biblical, well researched and lifeless. They are teaching Bible knowledge from their head to the heads of others. This helps one’s mind to be transformed (Romans 12:1-2) and allows us to have, at times, a good working knowledge of the Bible. However, it does not give to us or help us to know the mind of Christ nor the heart of the Father. It does not release life and bring transformation – it simply imparts information. At times it might inspire the listeners.

So today we have well informed and inspired believers who live almost identical to the way their unsaved neighbors live. Same entertainment, same recreation, same attitude, same values, same way of raising children… and thus they are having almost no influence on their unsaved neighbors with respect to witnessing for the Gospel. Saved – Yes! Effective believers – No! Good witnesses for the Lord – No! Lives transformed and changed because of salvation – No! So one wonders. I wonder.

It is time for pastors, teachers, and leaders to seek the Lord on a daily basis – to improve their relationship with the Lord – to learn how to hear the voice of God regularly – to improve on the “intimacy factor” in their relationship with the Lord. It is time for leaders to “fellowship with the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:14 / in Russian Bible 2 Corinthians 13:13). The word “fellowship” means to participate with, to partner with and to have social interaction with the Holy Spirit. As we do this He will “lead us into all truth” and, as the true Teacher of the Church, He will reveal things to our spirit which we can then live out in our own life and then teach others from the pulpit. As we do – the Holy Spirit who revealed these truths and helped us to personally apply them – will then bring revelation and release life as this Word – “sharper than any two-edged sword” – goes straight to the heart (spirit) and releases life in the hearer (and doer) of the Word.

Apostles and prophets – true apostles and prophets – rise up and receive fresh manna daily so that when you stand to teach you will be releasing revelation and life – the very life and nature of God into the hearts of His people.

Olga Tsoy

Hello Ralph!

I’m sorry that I cannot write you in English.  But I try to do it in a shorter time. I really want to share the testimony about what God has done through You and Your team in our church, in my life and in the lives of our leaders.

My name is Olga Tsoy. I am a pastor of a church in a town Burunday near Almaty. You ministried in our church for two days and in the Baptist college for a week. You have named our church – Korean church. I hope you have recollected us. We were so blessed with your team ministry. Read more

Nadya Korneychuk

The teachings that I have heard from Ralph Howe were edifying and very actual for me. The prophetic word that I have received strengthened me and gave me faith in my walk with Jesus. God showed me His great love towards me and changed many things in my spirit and in my character formation. This word will not just change my life but I see that it began to work even now. I received the answers to my spiritual experiences, received vision for my future. In the past I did not understand that God was using me but now I became firmly convinced that it is from Him.

Ivan Korneychuck

I would compare the messages that I have heard at Ralph’s conference with a compass. They give direction and help to see and to accomplish God’s vision. It is difficult to describe how much I got while Ralph’s was ministering to us, especially considering personal relationship with God. The word that I received encouraged me a lot. It supplements what I had received before from other ministers, it goes in the same direction.

I believe that this word will change my life as “the word of God does not come back futile”. Of course if to look seriously I also understand that its fulfillment depends on my relationship with God and my obedience.

I want to add that the prophecy given to me from Ralph and his team is really great. It was the third confirmation of what God was telling into my life during past three years. Each time it was growing and releasing more of His presence and power. I know that this word will continue to fill my life.

In the end of my testimony I want to say the next: When your wishes coincide with God’s will and you receive confirmation to it (for example on such services like Ralph’s, in the mighty presence of God) than everything that you would want to do – is to accomplish the will of God!

I will be glad if my testimony will help others to get encouragement.

Alexander Tymoschuck

I have done 5 terms in prison, was a drug addict. I was slovenly individual and a drunkard. Then the Lord saved me. And now my wife and I ministry to Him and thank Him for wonderful transformation of our life.

 Thanks God that He through Ralph has explained to me everything about the gift of prophecy. The prophetic word that I received was very accurate. One thing in my prophecy was that I do not need to worry about finances any more, that it will not be a big issue in my ministry. The next day in the morning this word began to fulfill. The very next morning I received a big sum of money – 7000000 of roubles – through different accounts in three banks. Purposely God promised to take away our financial problem – we had 5500 roubles debt. And communists owed us the money that we received through banks. Do you know how difficult it is to get money out of communists – of “the old leaven”? My wife and I were very thankful to God for this miracle. God has given the promised power. Like a magnet it will do God’s work.

I believe that this prophetic word will change my further life.

Let God bless Ralph Howe ministry and open many doors for ministry and spreading of God’s Kingdom.

God’s Silence

Have you ever had a time when you didn’t hear God speak to you – I mean it was like Heaven had turned to brass and you were no longer in touch with the Lord? I have. Not frequently – but every once in a while His voice seems to go silent and I need to steady myself and come to grip with this reality quickly.

On a regular basis I hear the voice of God. It is a daily affair for me. When I was born again I came in to a relationship with Him (Romans 6:23b and John17:3) and began immeditely, upon my salvation experience, to see, hear and touch Him. That is what 1 John 1:1-4 states can happen and it did in my life. And, it has continued daily ever since – except for rare times when everything apparently grows silent.

The fact that I hear Him regularly is a good thing because I minister prophetically almost every day of every week and so it is necessary to hear God’s voice for others whenever I need to speak supernaturally into their lives to draw them closer to Him. And, it is important that I am able to hear His voice for myself as well as I need to know what He is speaking to me on a daily basis – both for my personal life as well as for this continuing expansion of ministry we are experiencing here.

I can hear His voice through my prayer time, in my Bible reading and study times, when I hear others teach and preach, as well as in my spirit as I go about my normal daily life and my daily ministry opportunities – within the Churches where I minister as well as on the streets and in the parks witnessing.

When thinking about hearing God’s voice for myself and in my own walk with Him – there seems to be two major times when God’s voice is not heard or is hard to hear. The first one is when I am being disobedient or even rebellious and I am not doing what He has already spoken to me about. Either I am simply too busy, I am ignoring what He has said, I didn’t like what I heard, I am rejecting what I think I heard because it does not fit within my comfort zone … whenever I have chosen to not do what the Lord is asking me to do He grows silent.

Have you received a prophetic word when a prophet or apostle visited your church? Doing nothing with it – not cooperating and fulfilling the implied and stated conditions? Then the voice of God is likely to grow silent and stay silent until you act upon what He has already spoken. It is as if He is saying, “Why should I speak and say something new when you have ignored and are not acting upon what I have already spoken. I am not use to being ignored.” Many live within this situation and are wondering why God’s voice is so seldom heard in their personal lives.

The second reason God’s voice apparently goes silent is because He has chosen not to speak. I have discovered that when God does not seem to be speaking, He really is! He is saying, “Keep doing exactly what I told you to do. Nothing has changed!” This is a “good silence” if there is such a thing.

It is important to check our hearts on a regular basis and make sure that we doing all that the Lord has spoken and are actively engaged in the things that the Scriptures speak of for believers … the basic foundational things upon which a healthy spiritual life are built – prayer, Bible reading and study, witnessing to others (sharing the Gospel), worshipping with other believers (“forsake not the assemblying of ourselves together”), tithing and making offerings…. It is upon these stated foundational life-style issues that the rest of our walk with the Lord is built. We need to be focusing on the foundation – if we do the Lord will build the rest and we will simply need to respond to what He is saying and doing.

Now I know there are at least 6 or more biblical reasons why our prayers are not answered. However, I am not blogging about that this morning (it is 5:00a and the sun is up and the baby birds on the upper deck outside my office and study are talking away and a busy day has begun) … I am just thinking through why the voice of God grows silent when it is so absolutely necessary for a dynamic spiritual walk and to minister prophetically to others.

Your thoughts on this important subject?

Getting Older and Wiser

Go Figure…
41% Millennials (born in 1981 or later) who pray daily
42% Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) who prayed daily in the late 1990’s
54% Gen Xers who pray daily now
47% Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) who prayed daily in the early 1980’s
62% Boomers who pray daily now
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

Interesting statistics – and it seems that the older you get in life the more you turn to prayer. Is this wisdom of the aged and a result of life experiences, a result of recognizing the need to ask God to play a larger role in your life – or simply a deep understanding of the part that prayer must play in a life that is to be lived with signifigance, purpose and meaning? Don’t know – but I do know that the older you become the more you come to realize that prayer is both powerful and contains great potential.

In my own life (as someone in their mid-60’s) I am finding a greater need to spend time “being still and knowing that He is God.” Life is fast-paced and full of great and wonderful things to do but the quality of that life is determined by the quality of one’s heart and soul and this can only be maintained and improved by “being still” in God’s presence and hearing His heart. I think it was Plato (an old philosopher) who stated that “an unexamined life is not worth living” and a time of sincere prayer gives the Holy Spirit time to help you to see your heart (and resulting active life) the way God sees it. He then enables and empowers you to make life changes that start within the heart. Heart change is necessary for long-lasting life change. Prayer is basic to this.

Maybe it is because I am an introvert living in an extrovert’s world but prayer allows me to maintain a sense of peace – God’s peace – in the inner core of my life and thus not to be anxious in my outside world which, I admit, is filled with activities, challenges, obstacles, opposition and difficulties. Prayer allows me to maintain a larger perspective than what I would see without taking the time to hear God’s heart and receive the mind of Christ on matters that are important to Him and to my world. Prayer (real Bible prayer) allows me to maintain my relationship with Him…

When you are born again God gives to you a gift. Romans 6:23b states that “…the gift of Gos is eternal life.” The meaning of this gift – the definition – is not to live forever as all life conceived lives forever … the options being smoking or non-smoking, Heaven or Hell. The gift is defined biblically in John 17:3 – “This is eternal life -that you may know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.” So, the gift is an intimate relationship with God. Intimate because the word “know” means intimacy.

So, prayer then should be a daily activity enabling this intimate relationship to grow, mature, stay dynamically alive and powerful. Failing that it is not biblical prayer and is neither effective nor powerful.

My point: In my mid-60’s I am convinced that one of the most important activities for believers is to develop a dynamic relationship with God through prayer no matter your age. I have always believed this since being born again but have not always acted upon what I believed … now, according to the statistics (and my actual life) it seems I am more deeply aware of this truth and actually putting it into practice.