iPad and iPhone Worship Teams

It was really neat to see. I was in a small city north of Moscow working with a local bishop and some of his leaders from a number of churches and saw this young man banging on his iPhone throughout the worship time. It turns out his iPhone was plugged into the sound system and he was playing drums along with the worship team consisting of a number of guitars and a key board. I was amazed.

Fast forward a year and now I have an iPad and, in 6 weeks when I renew my cell phone contract, I will be trading up to an iPhone 4 as well. And, now I am learning to play music on my iPad. Wow! Technology is really neat. Now, there is really no excuse for not developing a decent worship team and without a great deal of cost because most have an iPhone or an iPad already in their arsenal of electronic devices. And, it is much easier to carry around and set up than the old fashion physical instruments.

Just the other day I read a brief article in a magazine I subscribe to (a paper version none-the-less) and so went looking on the internet for this group that the article was writing about. An iBand. Found it. And, just for fun, I downloaded a segment where they are playing Christmas music for everyone to worship to. Click on the link and enjoy …. and think, as well, of the potential for your involvement in worship and your church’s ability to have a full worship team and involve the young people at the same time.

Enjoy… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9XNfWNooz4

The Thirteen Signs of a Healthy Church

Instead, we must define ourself by the Gospel of the Kingdom and who Jesus says that we are. And, we must look for, find and become part of a church that is built upon the criteria God’s Word gives – again, not on our preferences, what feels comfortable, or what is familiar to us.

So, when looking for a church we can have two lists: A “must-have” list based on the Bible and a “that-would-be-nice” list of qualities that we would like to see but are not essential nor often biblical. Here is my “must-have” list…

1> God’s Word is faithfully taught Read more

Jesus Saves

I remember many years ago as a non-believer but a church-goer seeing a sign on the main street of the city I was living in at the time. The sign flashed on and off and simply said, “Jesus Saves.” I was in my first year of a three year seminary degree (Master’s degree) and had no idea what that meant. In fact, I considered it a rather odd sign. I mean, where did Jesus save? At which bank? What did Jesus save? It really made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. By the end of my third year in seminary – even upon graduation day – I was still clueless and had no idea what it was all about.

Of course, a number of years after being ordained a priest I was born again and came to understand what it meant that “Jesus Saves.” However, it really does make one wonder if the message is getting through. I mean, fast forward 40 years and ask yourself if the message “Jesus Saves” is getting through today, where you live, in your life and ministry? In a culture of noise and competing ideologies and religions is the Christian message getting through to the people we are trying to communicate with? If it was difficult 40 years ago to understand – it is much more difficult today in our post-Christian culture.

Think about it, we live at a point in human history where the act of communicating has never been easier. We can talk to friends in Kabul, Afghanistan, via Skype, as easily as a colleague in the next office to us. Twitter uncovers breaking news faster than nearly every news agency. Text messaging is transforming the way an entire generation communicates with one another and those around them. And yet, it is still not easy to explain the Gospel and many of the ways we attempt to this this make no more sense that a sign flashing in red letters “jesus Saves” did 40+ years ago.

In several churches that I work with here in North America we have begun to wrestle with this problem. We have begun to have everyone’s cell phone number (yes, even the teens) so we can text daily the prayer requests and the events of the day at the local church. Youth leaders are touching base with those they minister to through texting. We are beginning to have people text us their questions as they are actually listening to a teaching or Sunday sermon. Then, at the end of the teaching, we will put the top three questions on the overhead and answer them in discussion format right in the service.

Even here at Ralph Howe Ministries we are highly technological – I am typing this on an iPad in a restaurant waiting for someone to arrive. We use texts worldwide to communicate the Gospel and to train and equip those we are discipling and mentoring. We have two identical web sites – mirror images of each other – one in English the other in Russian. We do daily blogs in English and three a week in Russian increasing to one a day shortly. We have added video clips to our teachings, use MP3s, DVDs and other media to communicate with people around the world. Facebook and Twitter round our our current stable of communication tools. But, not for long as we are growing and adapting, adopting and adding new ways to communicate almost weekly.

Yes, we believe it is possible to explain the Gospel in a way that today’s world will understand that Jesus Saves. However, there is much that needs to change if we are to do it effectively, efficiently and now! What can you adopt and learn about technology you have available to use that would help you to better explain the Gospel and impact lives for Jesus.

Risking Everything

The headlines on the page jumped off and slapped you in the face. I am sure it was designed to do this because they want you to notice the advertising even in Christian magazines. The whole banner read, “Reach everyone by risking everything.” But, I knew that if I wrote that as a banner for this blog 75% of my readers would simply skip today’s blog. They would write it off as Ralph’s back on his pet topic and is pushing us to evangelize again.

First of all, it is not my pet topic. My real interest is simply Jesus and He is my focus because the Bible states that we are to keep our eyes on Him because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. But, I admit, my second most favorite or popular topic to write about is evangelism, winning the lost, soul winning, preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus.

But, again, it is a “sub-point” under being a disciple of Jesus because He was the One who said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” So, He wins out every time. Jesus is the winner!

So, back to the point of the blog – are you willing to believe that you can reach everyone by risking everything? Two sections to this, isn’t there?

1> Are you willing to believe that you can and should be reaching everyone?

2> If the answer to #1 is “yes” then the second part comes into play… Are you willing to risk everything you are and have to do so?

See, I’m writing about what it takes to be dangerous – and more importantly, what it takes for your church to be dangerous. A “dangerous church” is a church that is alive, full of the lost and the broken, a generous church that takes risks to reach even more lost and broken. It is a church that is willing to be exposed to misunderstanding and persecution for the sake of the gospel. Boy, not sure about that. Does not sound too comfortable or secure!

You are right and that is why we try so hard not to do anything that is politically incorrect so that we will not be persecuted and so we will not be misunderstood. We honestly prefer to be secure and comfortable. You know, so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good (I know the original saying is the other way around – but it’s my blog)…

I believe God is challenging His Church (Oh darn, right! It is His Church) to recover or even discover for the first time its passion for the lost.

But, maybe I am naive but I thought that was what it was all about from the beginning – you know, fall in love with Jesus and thus fall in love with His plan and His purpose, sharing His passion. And, in case you have not noticed recently – He is always passionate for the lost. If we truly love Him we will obey Him and risk everything to reach everyone because He did say, “go into all the world…”

I am looking for a dangerous church. If I can’t find one, then I will plant the seed of the gospel in the hearts of a few unsaved, lead them to Jesus, disciple them and help Jesus grow a dangerous church … then I can actually belong to the Church Jesus is building.

Better to Give Than Receive

Do you really believe what Jesus said when He said it is more blessed to give than to receive? If you do believe it – then act like it!

One of the best ways to overcome your own feelings of doubt, lack of self-worth, or your inability to love yourself as you are is to stop dwelling on you and the pain within and reach out to ease someone else’s pain. Put your focus on someone else – which will mean consciously taking your attention off of yourself. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive…

Last night on the news I heard of a grandfather in his late fifties who broke the record for traveling across Canada by bicycle and raised almost a million dollars for orphans in Africa. He was doing well just biking across the nation with an estimate of so much money being raised and then someone offered to almost double it if he broke the speed record for biking across the nation. In spite of his own pain and tiredness – and fear of not actually doing it – he took his focus off of himself and succeeded.

My advice to complaining believers and disciples who wine a lot – rise up and reach out. When you do that, you will discover that your own issues will begin to resolve themselves. In other words, if you can’t turn on the light of love within yourself – if you can’t resolve your own issues, be the solution for someone else. After all, it is better to give than to receive, right? If you don’t love yourself, then give yourself away. If you do that, you will be amazed at how valuable you feel and how insignificant the personal concerns you were struggling with become.

The key to a successful life is to keep striving, keep growing, keep giving all you have to give so that, in the end, you can look back and say, “I gave it my best shot.”

You already have all that it takes to be loving and valuable to others. If you will take your focus off of yourself and give – because it is more blessed to give than to receive – you will find that you will, in return, be loved and valued. Funny how it just works out that way!


It is no laughing matter – as believers we can be a silly bunch of people. We spend half our time trying to fit in with the world and the people we relate to in the world and the other half trying to relate to and fit in with the Christian code of thought and conduct. And, in that 50% where we are relating to the world – we spend half our time trying to fit in with the crowd and the other half trying to stand out from it. Why is this? It seems so universal to human nature and it is an issue, in my opinion, in every nation where I work.

Question: Why can’t we be comfortable with ourselves, knowing that each one of us is unique and that we are all God’s creations, made to reflect His glory and thus His diversity. Why can’t we be comfortable with who we are – and who we are becoming with His help? The world is looking at you – if it knows you are a born again believer – and is smirking behind its paw, whops – hand!

Long ago I adopted an attitude that might work for you as well. I decided that my “beauty” lies in my differences, in the fact that I am not like anyone else. I am uniquely me. Nobody will ever call me “average” or “just like him” or “just another guy.” I may not be the best looking or the smartest in the group, but I am me – and that is who God created me to be – me! Try it … Oh! Don’t be me – be you! And be the best you that you can be!

Know anyone who lives life as a victim? You know, Christian or not – they have a victim mentality. Know anyone who is always feeling sorry for themselves – their issues and their problems are worse than anyone else’s? Of course you do. Most likely a Christian you were talking to today (sorry, couldn’t help myself). They think they are always a victim because they can’t accept who they are and where they are in life. They are having a problem with self-pity because they have never really found themselves in the midst of all that pity they are feeling. Loving and accepting yourself is the only surefire cure for self-pity and victim-hood.

So, right now – go look in a mirror and say, “This is who I am, and I accept the challenge of becoming the best ‘me’ I can be.”

You are beautiful because God created you for His purpose. Your challenge is to find that purpose, fuel it with hope, drive it on with faith, and put your you-niqueness to the highest possible use – glorifying Jesus with your every day life.

A Powerful Pair

Jesus said that we are to love our neighbors as we love our self. Problem here is that we don’t love our self and so seldom reach out to love our neighbor. Thus people go to hell not knowing about the love of God in spite of knowing Christians who are suppose to flow in and minister the love of God to all those they know and meet.

Loving yourself is not about being selfish, self-satisfied, or self-centered; it is about accepting your life – who you are, where you are, what you have been through, how you look – as a gift from God to be nurtured and shared as a blessing to others.

Here is a suggestion: instead of dwelling on your imperfections, your failings, or your mistakes, focus on your blessings and the contribution you can make, whether it’s a talent, knowledge, wisdom, creativity, hard work or a nurturing soul.

Here is a truth: You don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations. You can define your own version of who you are as you discover who God made you to be. Your gift to God is to become the best you that you can be … so find out who you are and don’t worry about or respond to who others expect you to be or what they expect you to do. Be you! Love you!

When you know who you are – who God created you to be – then you can believe in yourself, your own beauty and value as someone who can made a difference, someone who matters. It will be as if you shine from within and others will notice and be attracted to you, even like being with you. Then you can love them as you love yourself… and see them come to the Lord and become born again.

If you don’t shine from within because you don’t know or love yourself – it may be because you rely on others to validate you, to give you confidence, and to make you feel appreciated. But that is a sure road to disappointment because you must accept yourself first. The only important measure of your beauty and value as a person should be the one that comes from within – that you discover as you become whom God created you to be.

Self-acceptance and self-love are important but often misunderstood concepts these days. You should love yourself as a reflection of God’s love and as someone He put on this earth to make a unique difference and contribution.

So today – unleash a pair of powerful forces that so many are lacking in their lives: unconditional love and self-acceptance.

Faith Not Funds

I have a serious burden to see the true Church of Jesus Christ rise up and become the powerful force upon the earth He always meant it to be. This burden – this passion – is fueled by faith in Jesus who said He would build His Church and the gates of Hell would not overtake or prevail against it. I believe that even religion and all the spirits behind this man-made attempt to please God and control man cannot stop what God wants to do.

I am passionate about what I do. I will drive or fly anywhere within my metron (sphere of authority) believing that the door opened for this ministry was opened by God and He meant for us to enter through the door. I will do this regardless of the size of the church or the group inviting me – and regardless of their ability to pay my expenses or contribute to my living expenses. My passion and my ministry are not fueled by funds but by faith. I walk by faith and not by sight. I live by faith simply believing God for funds to travel, give away, pay salaries for two full-time staff and a computer man who is paid by the hour, as well as pay all operating expenses for three offices – two in Canada and one in Eastern Europe.

I believe this ministry was birthed by God as I had no desire to travel to other nations and had never dreamed of impacting people, churches, and nations by teaching God’s Word, training people to walk in the supernatural and flow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and equip leaders – mentoring and releasing them into full-time ministry. I believe God is bringing the constant expansion we have experienced and that we continue to see as we certainly don’t advertise or ever request a place to minister… we simply respond to offers that we receive. Again, we respond by faith and not by funds.

Does it get hairy some days? Yes! Many days the needs are great and immediate and the funds are not there. But each time God had a plan that we could not see. And, each time God works His miracle and we do what we were called to do and honor Him. That is why it is so important to have faith in the future and to keep working towards our goals even when the odds seem stacked against us – and they often are.

We serve a wonderful God and as we respond to the moving of His Spirit and walk in faith – believing and trusting – then Jesus said, “It will be done according to your faith.”

Thank you for standing in faith with us over the last three years and we are thankful for your continued prayer support as we enter our fourth year of full-time apostolic ministry and expand to still another three new nations. Blessings to you for your encouraging words and your prayers. We serve a wonderful God who is doing great and wonderful things today in His Church and through His Church in the world. We are honored to be playing a small part in all that He is doing.

Limitations or Possibilities

You should never live according to what you lack. Instead, live as though you can do anything you dream of doing. Even when you suffer a setback or a tragedy, there is often an unexpected, totally improbable, and absolutely impossible benefit to be realized. It may not happen right away. You may at times wonder what good could possibly come of it. But, as a disciple of the Lord, trust that it all happens for good – even tragedies can turn into triumphs. The Bible states, “All things work together for good …” ALL things – the good, the bad and the ugly.

As disciples of the Lord we are never to look at our limitations – financial, social, relational, mental, physical… Again, the Bible states, “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” We need to believe that. Accept that and make it personal. Act on that. And, as a result move forward into God’s perfect will for your life. The Bible states, “All things are possible…” and we need to live with and in that hope and trust God for the rest.

I love what “Life Without Limits” author Nick Vujicic states (he was born without limbs – arms or legs)… “Most of the time I rest assured that God is looking out for me and my life. I’ll give you a clue about the strength of my trust (in God): I have a pair of shoes in my closet! I truly believe it is possible that someday I will be able to wear them and walk in them. It may happen, It may not. But I believe the possibility is there.” I like that kind of approach to life and the future.

In my own life – I am doing things and going places I would have never dreamed possible – all because I have looked to the possibilities and not the limitations. I have limited strength as I am a senior citizen, limited finances as I worked as a pastor all of my working life on little to no salary, limited contacts as I have never built a mailing list for my ministry, limited opportunities to minister as few have ever heard of me… And, yet the possibilities are without limits.

I have been working for two days on the trips that need planning and scheduling for the fall and winter months. I could be overseas 90+% of my time if I could handle it relationally, physically, and financially. There are three new countries that have opened up to our ministry and which have invited us to come. Russia has enough invites established for this ministry to take five visits to accomplish. And there are numerous opportunities in the other nations I am honored to work in – Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus…

And, of course, I could look at financial and physical limitations and say no to many of them because few trips yet even pay for the expenses incurred. But, I chose to look at the possibilities and not the limitations and simply believe God for whatever I am lacking or the ministry is missing at that point in time. Because, with God all things are possible. And, I believe that!

The Bible says,be it done unto you according to your faith.” What are you believing for? And the answer to that is determined by whether you are looking at your limitations or your possibilities.

Passion Needed

Christian who lack conviction have little to communicate to others. And, when they try to communicate it, they do so without enthusiasm and passion of any kind. So, people see no reason to get excited about Jesus if Christians aren’t. But when we are enthusiastic about our faith, this tells seekers and skeptics that we are totally captivated by Christ. As German philosopher Georg Hegel said, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”

Think about it: If the Christian story is true – in all of its splendor, glory, and wonder – then should not Christians be fired up about it? Shouldn’t they be anxious to tell others about Christ? Shouldn’t they at least smile? Instead, the look on the faces of many believers when talking about Jesus with others could convince me they were merely fulfilling some sort of an antiquated and obligatory religious requirement. Not too convincing when speaking with believers – and even less so when talking to non-believers. Admit it: if your faith seems so dead and uninteresting, then maybe it is because you think and believe that Jesus really is dead and uninteresting.

If we are not excited by the single most important event that has ever happened and by the single most important message ever delivered to humankind, then what will energize us? Our faith won’t be very contagious until we ourselves are thoroughly imbued with the passion of following Jesus.

“Seekers have little respect for weak Christians,” said Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg in Becoming a Contagious Christian. “Deep down they’re looking for somebody – anybody – to step up and proclaim the truth and then to live it boldly. And I just have to ask: why can’t that be you and me?”

The Bible states: “[Christ] sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom, in order to make sure that Christ’s death on the cross is not robbed of its power.” (1 Corinthians 1:17 GNT).

Well, believer in Jesus, how is your passion? And, can people tell you are enthusiastic and excited about what you believe?