The City of Ivanovo – Russia #17

The picture is of the church building in the City of Ivanovo where we are staying as we work in the cities of Ivanovo and Vladimir. It is a former kindergarden school and so is divided into many different rooms. Some of these rooms have been redesigned for places to live and so there are a number of people living in the building at this time. Often churches have recovery programs for drug addicts and alcoholics and they live on campus as they walk through the recovery process. In many areas this is the only help offered to those needing this type of help. Almost always someone lives in the building on a regular basis so that they can be the guard when the building is not in use. In this case, a university student lives in the building and guards it at night.

This building has a little land around it but not much and so there is no room to expand. The whole facility is surrounded by an iron fence with huge gates that stay locked except when the building is being used. Inside there are good kitchen facilites, a fellowship hall, four rooms for people to stay (2 single rooms with bathrooms attached; several dorm-style rooms with multiple beds). There are Sunday School classrooms and some walls have been removed to create a sanctuary for worhip. Although narrow it will sit 80 comfortably. Everything in the building is basic and lacks any decorative touch. But, the building is certainly very usable.

The pastor’s wife leads worship here and she can truly play the keyboard. There are six in the worship team and the worship is sweet, sincere, God-honoring and powerfully anointed. As always a substantial portion of time is given to worship in each gathering of the saints. No one rushes through worship and everyone joins in and enjoys it being touched by the presence and power of God. We are teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we did last time as well. Already we can see a marked improvement in the people flowing in the gifts as the worship moves forward and we minister unto the Lord and to each other.

Today’s prayer requests: For wisdom as we meet with area pastors for fellowship and ministry time; for the church in this city of Ivanovo which is severely limited in what the authorities allow it to do publicly; for increased boldness on the believers here; and for continuing strength for the team members. We can “feel” the prayers of the saints as we minister here. Thank you for praying.

Gods Of Our Imagination

Everywhere I travel it is quickly discovered that people have created a god of their own imagination. Their concept and idea of God is simply not biblical. Their understanding of who Jesus is – even less biblical. And, I am not simply talking about non-believers, people who are not born again. Even those who call themselves disciples of the Lord have some fairly non-biblical understanding of who Jesus is – and thus who God is as Jesus is God in the flesh and came to reveal Father God’s real nature and love to us. In some cases they could be worshipping Zeus as many did in the days before and after Jesus walked the earth.

Paul references the fact that in his day people had “another Jesus…another Gospel…another spirit.” (2 Corinthians 11:4). The same is true today. People are breaking the first and second commandments (Exodus 20:3-4) which state that we should not have any other gods but God only (as revealed in the pages of Scripture) and that we should not make an image of God or worse still a god in our own image. But apparently this is what many are doing.

We can understand those who are not believers doing this – and thus justifying their life-styles and preferences. But born again disciples of the Lord should know better. However, we live in a day and age when even believers do not know their Bibles and thus don’t know their God either. Jesus said to people of His day, “…You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29b) I would go a little further and state that they don’t know God either.

Christians today apparently read their Bibles so that they can know them better, master the stories found in the Scriptures, and understand and apply life principles that will help them in their walk in the natural world. It is information to know and life principles to apply. In reality the Bible was written so that we could come to know the Author – God Himself. It cannot and should not be read as we read other books – for mastering the content – but must be read as a revelation of God and the way to come to know the plans and purpose of the Author and His heart towards His people.

But the problem is deeper than that. Believers have bought into the same process that non-believers have. A non-believer will form their “god” through an accumulation of information and opinions… what they think and feel, what others they respect believe, the Bible, other religious books, experience, preferences and social and media influences. They wrap pieces of these things together and come up with a god made in their own image and thus justify their behavior and lifestyle. A believer does the same thing – but major on what they feel is right, their experiences with God (or that they think were God), and the parts of the Bible they like. And that’s the kicker – they pick and choose what they believe in the Bible.

Ask a believer if they believe the Bible and, most times, you will receive a “yes” answer. But the key is to ask them what they mean by believe? Usually it means have some slight knowledge of. If we determined whether or not they believed it by how much they live it – apply it to their daily lives – we would find that it is simply one of many opinions or options they work with … just like the non-believer. They really don’t believe most of it because they don’t apply it to their lives and don’t act upon what it states. They pick and choose….

Matthew 28:18 tells believers – all Christians – that they are to go into all the world and declare Jesus is Lord. Ask a room full of believers if they believe those words – everyone will say yes. Ask how many of them have a current and valid passport – very few. Yet, you cannot go into all the world without a passport. So, those who do not have a passport simply don’t believe the words recorded in Matthew;

Later in verse 20 Jesus states that after making disciples we are to teach them everything He has commanded … So, ask believers how many commandments are still valid today for believers. Most will answer two or, at the most, three. According to my count it is 1050…. Again, we don’t know or believe our own book. Tithing, the power of prayer, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, apostles and prophets, life after death, baptism of believers by immersion….the list could go on and on. I’ll stop there as it gets depressing.

Many today are not following or worshipping the one and only true God. They are serving a god of their own creation. Many give simple lip service to the Bible they say that they believe yet seldom read and even less frequently apply to their lives. They, like followers of Jesus when He walked the dusty roads of Galilee might on day hear these words… “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

“I never knew you…” I never had a personal relationship with you. Ah! The key to not creating a god in our own image and of our own imagination.

There is much to ponder and think about in the day in which we live.


Hallo there Ralph

Firstly I want to say thank you very much for the wonderful time in Moscow, Know I am praying for you and certainly look forward travelling with you, assisting you where possible, it will be a great  honour for me.

Ralph can you send me your itinerary while here in Russia and former  Soviet Union and I will see how I can accompany you during some part of you visit to these nations, and please send me that prophetic syllabus of yours in English and Russia that will be great. Read more

The City of Vladimir – Russia #16

We are at The Light of the World Church in the City of Vladimir today. A very historical city and we are going to have a few hours to tour the city and become acquainted with the history a bit. The picture above is the pastor and his wife. We ministerd to them in the fall of 2010 at another church in the nearby City of Ivanovo and prophetically changed their lives forever. They have invited us to two days in their church and an opportunity to impact their people. Our topic: “How to Hear the Voice of God”.

This couple have a tremendous ministry to youth and this is seen immediately when you enter their church, It quickly becomes very apparent. Young people are everywhere and it is a very vibrant and dynamic congregation. The pastor spends a great deal of time with an outreach that he designed that would be similar to “Sea Cadets” in my country. Here believers and non-believers come together to learn camping, boating, and water safety skills while being influenced by a very godly and dynamic leader. His influence is wide spread in the community and many who do not come to his church know him and are known by him.

Evangelism is a strong emphesis in this local congregation as it is in many churches we work with. They are reaching out to many in a variety of ways. This is always good to see but especially here as the born again church is not supported or encouraged by other groups in the community and certainly not by the Orthodox religion. So, they reach out in spite of the lack of support and in the face of stiff opposition and even some persecution.

We are entering in to the final days of this apostolic ministry trip to Russia and at this time in most trips our hearts turn towards home and we begin to count down the days before we get to travel again towards our respective countries. We are not homesick – just growing a little weary and looking forward to the end of 18 hour days and constant ministry and needing to be at your best and on your toes every waking moment. However, we still pour our best into each and every event, activity, and one-on-one situation. And God continues to honor our work as we do and bless those being ministered to.

Our prayer request for today: For strength so that we can give our best in each situation; for guidance as we attempt to teach a large topic in a small amount of time; for the prophetic anointing to increase and powerfully touch lives here today. Thank you for standing with us in prayer! You are important to this ministry and making a difference for the Kingdom and the King.

Grieving and Quenching

Jesus is more concerned with who we become than what we do for Him. Being is first – doing is second. He called His disciples to be with Him – “be” – and that He might send them out to preach – “do.”

Mark 3:14 “And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach...”

All ministry arises out of relationship – first with Him and then with those to whom you are called to minister. And the foundation to all valid, God-given ministry is character. Character is who you really are – the being part of your life. To determine character we look, not at a person’s ministry, but at their relationships and how they run their personal life. Issues of family, friends, finances, fruit, faithfulness, what they do for fun (entertainment). And, because we spend time with Him “being” then our character should be more and more like the one exhibited by Jesus in his relationships and in His ministry. “Being” before “doing” and character before ministry and gifting.

Let’s take this concept, lost to most in the Church worldwide, one step further. We are called to be in fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

Fellowship here means:
1> Social interaction (being – personal)
2> Participation with (being and doing)
3> Partnering with (doing – ministry)

In other words – fellowship means having a decently in-depth and daily personal and working with Him because all ministry arises out of your relationship and is built upon your character.

There are two sins listed in the Bible that involve the Holy Spirit. Grieving the Spirit and quenching the Spirit. Both need to be understood in the context of “being” and “doing.”

Grieving the Holy Spirit refers to actions of ours that hinder the Spirit from being Himself – from being who and what He could be in us. This is relational and deals with the “being” aspect of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. We grieve Him when we do not relate to Him on a daily basis, fellowshipping and enjoying His presence and coming to know His heart, plans, purposes, and His agenda for the day. He is in us to help us become – and when we limit our personal growth and character development by lack of self-examination and making little time to reflect – then we are grieving the Holy Spirit and limiting who we become.

On the other hand, quenching the Spirit refers to actions of ours that hinder the Spirit from doing what He could do through us. This is outward ministry to others. This is refusing to move with Him when He is wanting to minister salvation and deliverance to someone. We quench the Spirit when we do not flow in His gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) and minister a Word of the Lord (prophecy) to someone He indicated to us. We quench the Spirit when we do not encourage someone He places in our path during the day – when we are so self-focused and so consumed with self that we miss opportunities to touch other people’s lives with the love of God as found only in Jesus.

Being and the character issues – Grieving the Spirit. Doing for the Lord often called ministry – quenching the Spirit. We need, in this season we are in, to be extra careful in both areas, being and doing, as they relate to the Holy Spirit. Without Him we accomplish absolutely nothing. With Him – nothing is impossible.

Travel Day – Russia #15

Today we leave the city we have been ministering in, drive through Moscow and then head to the City of Ivanovo. It is almost 5 hours between Moscow and Ivanovo and will take almost as long to drive through and around Moscow itself (population unofficially set at 20 million). Just as you exit the city to head up to Ivanovo there is a MacDonald’s so we can have a bite to eat and a Diet Coke.

Often as we travel from one place to another – and even in a scheduled afternoon during our stay in a city – we get to do a little sight seeing as people are always wanting to show us the historical sights or places that make their city or town special in the area. Pictured above is a bell from the 600’s (if memory serves me correctly) that came all the way from bell makers in England to what is now Moscow for one of the many cathedrals being built. Tomorrow we will be touring a bit in the cities of Ivanovo and Vladimir.

I was in Ivanovo last fall (2010) and it was a great time with much accomplished for the King and the Kingdom. We will be building upon that foundation and teaching more on the prophetic and the supernatural as well as meeting with pastors to whom we ministered last time. As you read this we will have been on the road for about 4 hours and will, most likely, still be within Moscow city limits. That means we will reach Ivanovo around 4:00p today and then have a meeting tonight after settling in to where we will be staying.

Often Miroslav and I stay in the same room together when traveling due to trying to keep expenses to a minimum. This is good at the start of a trip as we have not seen each other since the previous trip and it is good to touch base and catch up on what is happening. The emails that go back and forth daily between our offices are always work related and so little personal is shared until we see each other on these apostolic trips.

However, by the middle and towards the end of the trip the lack of personal space and privacy as well as quiet often begins to wear on us and we work hard at finding time to be alone and have some much needed solitude and even more prayer than the average day. Here in Ivanovo we stay in separate rooms in the church building (once a kindergarden) and each room has its own bathroom and bath … very, very basic but a luxury when compared to what we have been experiencing. So, that push for privacy and space will not be a struggle for us this trip.

In Ivanovo we have an established team of young apostles and prophets in training who will be able to help us with the prophetic ministry and prayer lines. As well, we have a very active young man who is a five-fold evangelist who I hope to have some extra one-on-one time with while here in the city. I am expecting great things from God as we minister here on “Hearing the Voice of God” and the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Today’s prayer request: For the City of Ivanovo and the City of Vladimir (close to each other) where we will be working until our trip ends. For the churches involved in our ministry (6 of them) and especially for the leaders of these great churches.

And the Scriptures Don’t Say…

The Bible is silent about a number of issues that we face today in every day life. It does not directly address life situations that we find ourselves face-to-face with as we relate to others, raise our families, and earn a living. And yet many try and make the Bible speak where it is silent – I know, I listen to their podcasts and read their books….

There is an old yet very wise saying when it comes to reading and study the Bible – preaching and teaching from the Bible. It goes like this: “Where the Scriptures speak, speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” Makes good sense to me. And yet many are making things up as they go along and using Scripture verses to back up their personal beliefs and doctrines calling them revelations. These verses are taken out of context, stretched beyond recognition, and abused for all intent and purpose. Yet, people who don’t know their Bible well and so lack discernment are taken in by these false teachers, prophets, and apostles. Happens on a daily basis in every nation of the world today where the Bible is found.

This was so apparent during the recent Christmas season. I heard a teaching that said we should not give gifts or celebrate this season because Santa is really Satan in disguise … the letters in both words are identical. Of course, using this logic means we would not worship God either because the word “God” contains the exact same letters as the word “dog.” Yet, people believed this teaching and avoided all gift gifting so as not to be buying in to Satan / Santa’s trap.

This same Bible states, (2 Timothy 4:3-4) “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” This is what is happening. Not sure which came first – the false teachings and then the ears to hear it or the itchy ears and thus the market met the need and we had false revelation and the misuse of the Scriptures. Same result regardless – a Church not rooted and rounded in love and not knowing the Scriptures thus welcoming another Gospel, another Jesus and another Spirit (2 Corinthains 11:4).

Paul said to Timothy, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…” Not happening in most cases and places because we enjoy hearing the fables and thinking everything is alright between us and God when it is anything but alright. In fact, we are in dangerous territory and on our way down the toilet in many cases.

True apostles know that they have a massive job to do to correct these false doctrines to enable believers to once again have a correct foundation and stability in their walk with the Lord. Ephesians 4:14 states (as part of their job description)… “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming...” As a result of correct teaching of doctrine and proper use of the Scriptures believers will no longer follow after man’s made-up revelations which bring death but will instead build their house upon a rock avoiding a foundation of shifting sand.

However, it is also time for the individual believers to learn how to rightly handle the Word of truth and to no longer make the Scriptures say what they want it to say. To be comfortable with silence when the Bible is silent and not expect it to speak to every situation. Afterall, that is the task of the Holy Spirit. But, that means we need to be able to hear and understand what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us and that’s another blog altogether.

Several good books in this regard:
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart
Listening to the Spirit in the Text – Gordon Fee

Prophetic Evangelism – Russia #14

Today is my last day in the City of Mytischy where we have been ministering for three days now. Gathered are the leaders and people of a number of churches in this network which is headed by Bishop Pavel (Paul). Today’s topic is: “Prophetic Evangelism

Of course worship is a big part of each day. Russia Christians love to worship. Often because the church is full long before service is to start the worship team begins to worship early and everyone joins in. Often we will worship for an hour or more and people simply become lost in the presence of God as they express their love for Him in words, music, dance, raising hands, and with banners waving. It is simply an electric time in the Lord.

To teach effectively today we have had several informal sessions with some of the leaders listening to what it is they are currently doing to evangelize and win the lost. These are some of the “behind-the-scenes” meetings that go on each and every day. We did this so that as we teach on prophetic evangelism we can link the teaching to what is already being done in this area of ministry. They specifically asked us before we came to make sure we did this linking into what was already ongoing so that they could see, in a practical way, how to immediately implement what was being taught.

It is interesting the amount of personal evangelism that actually does get accomplished here as part of the every day life of believers. Interesting because the born again church is not looked on favorably here in many areas of Russia and is often persecuted by the Orthodox religion and the government. However, in spite of this, people share their faith and churches are growing.

Prayer request for today: strength and refreshing for our team of workers and leaders. We are training a number of young apostles and prophets in each place that we minister and they work hard, learn lots, and spend many hours in after-service meetings as we teach them and equip them further. So, they need renewed strength and refreshing. And, for Miroslav and myself as we are well in to our second week of long days ministering to the Russian Christians and, at times, can feel the weariness creeping in – rest and refreshing in the presence of the Lord. Greatly appreciated. Thanks for caring.

Understanding Spiritual Authority

We know very little about the childhood years of Jesus. We have a good record of His birth and presentation in the temple (the Gospel according to Luke). The Bible makes mention of when Jesus was twelve and He stayed behind in Jerusalem to spend time speaking with and asking questions of the teachers of the Law who were resident there in the temple (Luke 2:41-51)

There is a facinating tid-bit of information hidden in these verses missed by most casual readers of the story … “And after three days they found Him in the temple,, sitting among the teachers…” (verse 46). I have read the story for years and missed the signifigance of that little phrase, “Sitting among the teachers.”

In ancient times, sitting was the posture of authority. Normally, a child would be expected to stand in the presence of elders and leaders of the religion. Those who sat were the teachers of the Law, those who had authority to teach and to interpret the Law as it was handed down to Moses. The people, especially children, stood when in the presnece of the leaders and in the presence of the Word of the Lord. Doctor Luke says Jesus was sitting – like a learned rabbi speaking to and listening to the teachers of the Law. A rabbi always sat to teach. It was a sign of authority.

In Luke 4 when preaching His first sermonJesus finished, rolled up the scroll and then sat down (Luke 4:20-21) After sitting down – He made an announcment as one having authority saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Again, unusual. And the signifigance of this fact is often lost to readers of the Bible today. He was sitting when He made this announcement.

Sitting down with the teachers and sitting down to make an announcement at the end of His first public ministry is signifigant. And readers who don’t understand the culture, tradition, and religion of that day often miss the full meaning of what is happening in the story.

In both these stories and throughout His ministry He sat when teaching … This was a definite rabbinical posture and a sign of serious spiritual authority. And within this traditional posture for a teacher of the Law there was even an additional sense of spiritual authority for the people noticed that “He taught as one with authority and not as the teachers of the Law.” (Matthew 7:29). He did not quote the old rabbis from the past as others did – but simply taught by revelation shining new light on old truths… “you have heard it said … but I say unto you...” (Matthew 5:21)

We need teachers today that shed new light on old truths – and thus teach with a serious anointing that releases life. God’s Word is already anointed with power (Isaiah 55:11). We need teachers who, like Jesus, release that life-changing power. We need teachers who teach by revelation – who understand the heart of the Father and bring revelation of that heart to His people. That means teaching a “now Word” direct from the Father’s heart eachand every time they stand to preach or teach.

We need teachers today who will teach by revelation and thus release the very life and nature of God in the hearts and lives of believers. This will then bring life-change to the people who hear and they will become doers of the Word and not hearers only (Book of James). They will no longer simply hold to the outward form of our religion but do so denying the life-changing power within the Gospel message (Paul’s comment to Timothy).

For too long we have preached and taught to impart information and it has done little if anything to change hearts and lives. It is time to teach as Jesus did – to bring transformation. It is time to understand, as Jesus clearly understood, that the target of teaching and preaching is a change heart and not the head.

It is time for God’s leaders to sit down and teach with authority – God’s authority. And, it is time for God’s people to stand up and move out into all the world and do so with the same authority because Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me, you go therefore...” (Matthew 28:18-20). So, we need a complete reversal of what now happens. Today the leader stands and the people sit. True spiritual authority is seen when the preacher sits and the people stand – ready to apply the truth and move out into the world and declare the truth to others.