Your Goals for 2012

Tomorrow is the start of the New Year and hopefully by now you have set some goals for yourself for the year of the Lord 2012. These are not New Year’s resolutions as the majority of them never get out of the starting gate. I am talking about goals – things you really want to change in yourself and achieve in the new year. And, hopefully by now, you have actually thought through a plan as to how you will achieve these goals and changes.

There is the old proverb that states, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it.” It would be such a waste, as a believer, to aim at nothing. In 2012 there are people to impact with the Gospel, churches that need planting, believers who need to be discipled, neighborhoods that need the Kingdom’s presence, and people who need to be loved. As disciples of the Lord each and every one of us has a call on our lives to “go into all the world” and be change agents in the nations of the world.

There is the old proverb that states, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” I quote it frequently. I just can’t believe how many people continue to do what they have always done and expect the outcome to be different this time. Isn’t that the definition of stupidity? So, in 2012 what is it that you are going the change and do differently? What goals have you set that will help you to make the needed changes in your character, your daily timetable, your relationship with the Lord, your impact on your world, and your love for yourself? What are you going to do differently?

My prayer for you is that you will take the time to examine your life and your world and that you will then set some decent and measureable goals for yourself that will help bring about life-change in 2012. First changes in your life and then, through you, changes in your world as you impact those you know.

May 2012 be a year when you take time to examine your life on a regular basis because as an ancient philosopher once stated, “An unexamined life is not worth living” (Plato).

To You and Your Family

It is the day before Christmas and all through the office there is little happening … as Ralph Howe Ministries is allowing its staff a few days off at this special time of the year. I will be working quietly behind the scenes during the Christmas break preparing for an upcoming trips and planning other trips in 2012, reading, researching and writing – but the public side of the ministry will simply stop for a few days resuming on December 31, 2011.

For the first time since these blogs began to be written and posted (April 11, 2008) I will be taking a break from my early morning (5:30a) routine of writing a daily blog for this site (and another site I have been writing a different blog for daily since early summer) and simply enjoy some extra time reading and enjoying a good book or two or maybe three this Christmas.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your encouraging comments regarding these daily chats that we have together. People all over the world mention how helpful and even, at times, enjoyable these daily postings are. And, just the other day I had coffee with someone who uses some of the posts (such as “The 7 Evangelistic Principles” recently posted while ministering in Russia) as material for his adult Sunday School class. I am thankful for your feedback, comments, and even an occasional criticism.

I always want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family all the best and a Merry Christmas. May your family time and your time with the Prince of Peace be very satisfying and encouraging. It has been a great year in His Kingdom and we look forward to even greater things in 2012. Blessing upon you and your family at this special time of the year.

A Review of Our Purpose

As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Lord it is good to pause and remember the purpose of His coming to earth on that first Christmas morning in the city of Bethlehem. He came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). And, as we remember His birth let’s also bring back to mind a second birth He was involved in – the birth of His Church as found in Acts, Chapter two. Again, this birth was about “seeking and saving the lost” for this was the purpose of the Church and the call on individual believers (Matthew 28:18-20) and the reason for the power (Acts 1:8).

As I pause to reflect on this – and then examine my own lifestyle to see if I am living in such a way as to be a witness for Jesus as He calls all of us to be – I see some things I can adjust and change to enable me to better represent Him in my world – immediately here in my neighborhood, in the churches I work with, and in the ministry the Lord has opened for us overseas. I am, of course, willing to make these adjustments as painful as several of them may be to incorporate into an already busy life. But, we are talking about being true “ambassadors for Christ and His Kingdom” and so nothing should be too much trouble.

Our slogan here at Ralph Howe Ministries (the sponsor of these daily blogs) is “Loving God, Equipping People, Mentoring Leaders, Reaching Nations.” This is our daily focus and we take this calling from the Lord very seriously. Over the last several years we have impacted four nations in the former Soviet Union. We have seriously limited resources and even physically the travel and the workload is often a real challenge for me personally but with God’s grace we have seen many lives changed.

In 2012 we will again reach even more nations as believers in five new nations (for our ministry) have invited us to join them as they reach their nation and often other nations with the Gospel. We have accepted all of these invites and continue to work with those we have been privileged to come to know and love over the last three years.

We are an Apostolic Ministry with a prophetic expression; evangelistic in nature and structured for discipleship; training five-fold ministers as well as equipping the saints; all the while impacting the nations.

As we approach the end of another year of ministry in Eastern Europe and Central Asia we want to thank you for being such a vital part of what we are doing with the Lord. Many lives have been seriously impacted and permanently changed; eternal destinies have been altered; and many new ministries have been called forth and are being discipled, trained, equipped, and mentored through our ministry.

2012 will be an exciting and busy year and we hope you will renew your commitment to reaching the nations and continue to pray for this ministry. Your prayers are very foundational and seriously important to our continued outreach to those who do not believe and walk in darkness.

I’m Not a Christian but I’m Coming to Your Church This Sunday

I’m not a Christian, but I’ve finally made the decision to come to your church this Sunday. Here’s what you need to know about me.

Okay, I’m not a Christian, but I’ve finally made the decision to come to your church this Sunday. Read more

The Search for Identity

We were talking yesterday about stepping off the well-traveled paved route and choosing to walk by faith down the less traveled path of faith in the new year of 2012. God wants each of us to step off the paved road in search of what it means to love and be loved. After all, it is the season when we celebrate the fact that “God so loved that He gave His Son…”

This journey will mean looking deep into your own heart which we seldom take the time to do. This journey inward – to a road less traveled – is not an easy journey but it is an important one. You see, all journeys that really matter start deep inside us and take time. So, do something different this Christmas – different than past years and different than most other people you relate to and share life with – take extra time to take a look inside and travel off the pavement and see what you find.

For much of my life -and if you will admit it – for much of your life – we have been on a search for identity, a quest for belonging, a treasure hunt for meaning. In one word, we have been looking for a place our hearts could call “home.” A place filled with love; a place where we can be ourselves and find acceptance; a place where we can find meaning and purpose and thus begin to experience deep satisfaction and fulfillment. And, this place has nothing to do with a physical address or a series of successes in the job market or in other endeavors we have undertaken.

This Christmas – take that journey off the paved road to the one less traveled that will take you to the center of your heart. All journeys that really matter start deep inside us. And there you will find Jesus. There you will find His deep love for you. You will come to know that he loves every part of you – the good parts, the not-so-good parts, the pretty parts, the broken parts – He loves them all! There, in the center of your being, you will find acceptance, meaning, purpose, hope, and joy. Fear will disappear and peace will, once again, become a reality. And, you will come to know who you really are – your identity. It can only be known in Him.

Christmas is a good time to travel this road less traveled and get off the pavement for a few days and have a good look at your heart – your inner life. There are no road maps or signs to follow … just let the Holy Spirit guide you and direct you. You will discover His love for you and for His love for others; you will discover passion – His passion and compassion towards you; you will encounter personal road blocks that He wants to help you remove so that you can more fully come to know and understand yourself. You will be given fresh direction and renewed purpose and, in the process, discover again your divine destiny and your identity in Him. You find yourself suddenly “at home.”

It is a good time to stop the mad rush of the Christmas season and go in the opposite direction – into the quiet stillness of His heart and allow Him to still and calm your heart so that you can focus, in the special season, on what really matters. Just “Be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Step Off the Paved Road

As we approach a new year with all the new opportunities that will come with it – opportunities for you to impact the world for Jesus – I suggest to you that it is time to step off the paved road. As I look back at the last few years of my life and the rapid expansion of my ministry in the former Soviet Union I believe it would have never happened had I not left my comfort zone and stepped off the well-worn and known paved road.

2012 is about the happen and if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always gotten. Poor English but true nonetheless. It is time to step off the paved road. It is time to embrace a new journey unless, of course, you like what you are seeing and experiencing in your personal life. God has set before you a wonderful new year of life and is inviting you to embrace the journey He has planned for your life. And, if you do just that, you will certainly impact others and the world for Him and His Kingdom. And, you will need to step off the paved road.

What does it mean to step off the paved road and embrace a new journey? It means leaving the well-paved road where the majority of people you know travel and heading down a less traveled road. It means leaving the herd (crowd) and maybe traveling alone or with a small band of like-minded people. It means getting dirty because once off the pavement you are now traveling down dirt roads and endless trails. It may mean going where no one has gone before or, at the least, going where there are no signposts telling you what is up ahead.

What does it mean to step off the paved road? It means doing things differently and entering into an adventure. It means walking with others whom you would not have naturally chosen to walk with. It means doing things you have never done before or maybe doing things you would normally do and doing them differently. It means walking by faith and most certainly leaving any comfort zone of the usual and the predictable that you have been use to. It means trusting God and giving up what many of the things that you take as your right to have and enjoy. It means embracing people who are different than you and learning to love each one of them. It means radical change in your values and your priorities. It literally means stepping out and risking failure but knowing you will learn and grow in the process.

In 2012 true disciples of the Lord will be called by the Holy Spirit to step off the paved road and to enter into a new journey walking where they have not walked before. In preparation for the call it would be good to tell the Lord that the answer is “yes” even though you have yet to hear the question. Trust Him!

It’s Simple Really

God so loved that He gave His Son – this is Christmas. He then, through His Son, tells us to love Him and we can do that because He first loved us. And, because we love Him we love the things that He loved – ourselves and other people. Jesus said it was this simple – and this was a complete summary of all of the laws and the prophets of the Old Testament. Love God – Love yourself – Love your neighbor. Let’s not complicate it.

We are called to love God powerfully, deeply, intensely. Second, we are called to love our neighbors in the same way. The plan never changes. The strategy remains the same. This kind of fruitfulness can flow only from a place of radical intimacy with God. He has made the way – Jesus is the Way. The crib of Bethlehem is directly connected to the Cross of Calvary which is connected to the Crown on the head of Jesus. We thus enter the throne room of God through the blood of Jesus and can do so with confidence and, in fact, great boldness to pursue this intense and radical relationship with God.

God is raising up a radical army of laid-down lovers. A whole generation of those who are so full of passion and intimacy that they run into the darkness without feart to bring in the lost, the sick and the dying. He is raising up a new breed of lovers, those who live only to pursue a pasionate love affair with Jesus and who will love what He loves – the lost and dying. They will be be so full of the Presence of God that no matter what they are asked to do or what it may cost them, they say yes. There is no “no” left in them.

To be a part of this radical army of passionate lovers who say yes before they even hear what is being asked of them and from them – a band of lovers who have no no left in them – we need to be stripped of the complications and concerns that cause us not to see clearly, so that we will no longer be able to pass by without stopping for that one person in front of us. We need to yield to His immeasurable, ceaseless, bottomless love, and when we do we will soar on the wings of passion and compassion. We will reach out and embrace the lost – winning them for the King and the Kingdom.

It really is that simple – don’t complicate it.

Truth Is Truth

Jesus came full of grace and truth and stated early in His ministry that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. His words were truth and He lived a life based on total truth. There was no lie in Him. In fact, the Bible states that God cannot lie because He is truth and Jesus is God and thus truth. His words are still truth today.

Many today do not believe that Jesus’ words are truth or that He is the only source of truth. Many people believe He is one source of truth and that there are many others who were also the source of truth – like Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, Stalin, and Lenin. The sad thing is that many who call themselves disciples of the Lord or born again Christians no longer believe that the Living Word (Jesus) and the Written Word (Bible) are true and thus even a direct source of truth. So, today we also see people who are rejecting a basic truth of the Christian faith. Read more

He Will Lead You

Jesus came and the Bible states that “He was full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). We have looked at what it means to understand and live in grace and show grace to others. We are currently looking at knowing the truth and living by that truth in our world today.

Jesus taught His disciples the truth about sin, judgment, the Kingdom, prayer, purpose, relationships, healing, deliverance… and the list goes on and on. However, He did say that there were many other things – more truth – that they needed to know and that it was the task of the Holy Spirit to reveal that truth to them and lead them into the practical application of these further truths in their daily lives (John 16:13). Read more

The Written Word

When I was first saved back in 1976 I had an instant and insatiable hunger for God’s Word. I received a King James Bible from a parishioner’s husband who was a Pentecostal and I purchased a current version of the Bible which, back then, was the Living Bible. I read both and read them a lot. In fact, in the first three months of my walk with Jesus I read the whole Bible cover-to-cover. To this day I continue to read large chunks or portions of the Bible every day and pursue a somewhat vigorous study plan as I dig deep into the treasures and the beauty of His Word. Read more