Day Two of Travel

During my trip to Armenia I will be ministering in a number of cities returning to the city of Ararat, at the foot of Mount Ararat (pictured). I spent a great day there last April on my trip to this nation. The pastor of the local church plant (year four begins) has a church of 100+ and has planted a substantial number of house churches in surrounding towns and villages. I will be ministering to the wider group that relate to him this trip. Last year I simply ministered to his people in the home church. Samvel is someone I have been mentoring for a year, he worked a summer youth camp in Russia last summer for me, and has just spent two weeks with me in Moscow and Tula ministering as he learned what it means to be an apostle.

He will be spending the majority of my week in Armenia with me – learning and also driving me around to the various places. During the visit I will participating in an ordination service for him as well as continuing to mentor him in his apostolic calling. He is a great brother and a powerful minister of the Gospel – sacrificing much to do the work God has called him to.

This is my second full day travelling – please pray for strength, wisdom and insight. I will be using a portion of the travel and airport wait time to continue to prepare the material I will be teaching as well as simply to seek the Lord’s heart so that, if He so desires, I will be as ready as possible to break with the plans they have given me and simply flow with Him and do what He has planned. Please pray for breakthroughs in each church I will be working with – that the power, presence, and peace of God may be experienced by each and every person in attendance.

Your prayers and partnership with me in this ministry are greatly appreciated and never taken for granted.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Twenty-two

2 Corinthians 13:10 states, “For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.”

Paul is stating that apostles are given godly authority and anointing to build up the Church and to edify the saints so that they reach full maturity and fulfill the plan and purpose for the local church that they are part of as well as the specific call upon their own individual lives.

The authority given to apostles as “sent ones” is for the purpose of edifying (building up) the Body. This authority should not be used to hurt or destroy God’s people. Apostles are not called to be dictators over God’s people thus using their office to control and manipulate and fulfill their own agenda.

However, they are to rebuke and correct in love, not in control or pride. They often have to tear down and uproot before they can plant and build – but this is always accomplished from a heart filled with the love of the Father for His children and the Church.

This authority is not meant to destroy, but build up. If apostles minister in the flesh, destroying God’s heritage, they will be judged by the Lord and often corrected by others holding the same office.

The apostle Paul knew the purpose of his apostolic authority. He knew his authority was given to build up the Church. He confronted false apostles who took advantage of God’s people. False apostles and “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 12:11-13) are recognized by their abusive authority which is really false authority.

Fleshly authority is manipulative, controlling, dominating and destructive. True apostolic authority is edifying and uplifting. It is often difficult to determine if someone is a false apostle – however, this is where relational ministry is so important for only in decent relationships do you see the character of the man and the fruit of the ministry.

Armenia and Russia

Today is the start of a 17 day trip into Armenia and then eastern Russia (Ural Mountains). I will be a week in each nation. I will be ministering in a number of cities in Armenia – Yerevan, the capital and Mount Ararat being the main two. Last year about this time I spent a week in these two cities ministering. This trip the mother church in Yerevan will be sending me out to at least three other daughter churches they have planted where I will be ministering to the leaders and the people for a day each. Armenia is a great nation with an interesting past and I am looking forward to being there. I also work with Armenians in the city of Moscow, Russia – including during my last trip into Moscow in February of this year.

My trip takes me from Regina to Toronto (three hour wait) and then to Vienna, Austria (14 hour wait) and then into Yerevan. Armenia. I will arrive there at 3:20a Wednesday morning and begin working at 9:00a that day. There is an eight hour time difference between central Canada and Armenia. Armenia is just above Turkey (see the map) and connected closely with events that are currently happening in the Middle East. Armenians are spread through the Middle East, Europe and Eastern Europe as jobs are scarce in the nation and so many leave to find work elsewhere – sending money home when possible.

Please be praying for safe travel, all fights to connect, good weather, favour with customs and security, and good health. Pray for my two main hosts in Armenia – Samvel (apostle-in-training and pastoring) and Rafi (apostle and pastoring). And, that I may have opportunity to share Jesus with fellow travellers as well as when in these two nations over the next two weeks.

As always – your participation and partnership in this apostolic trip are greatly appreciated.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Twenty-one

Jesus said to his apostles… “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19

Apostles are called to bind and loose Although I believe all believers have authority to bind and loose, I believe the fullness of binding and loosing will be seen through apostolic ministry. In this passage the apostle Peter was given the keys of the Kingdom based upon his revelation from heaven. Apostolic revelation is the basis of binding and loosing. To bind means to make secure by tying, to confine, restrain, or restrict as if with bonds, to arrest, apprehend, take charge of, to chain, to fetter, to put a stop to. All based on fresh apostolic revelation that the Lord is showing the Church through the ministry of the apostles (worldwide Church) or a particular apostle when he is ministering in a specific church. The works of darkness and the works of man, both inside and outside the Church, need to be bound through apostolic ministry.

To loose means to untie, to free from restraint, to detach. People need to be loosed from the powers of darkness and the control of men who manipulate others for their own benefit and this freedom comes through apostolic ministry working in the Church.

Again, this is tied directly to fresh revelation from the Father and from Jesus who is Head of the Church. This has nothing to do with man’s desires, dreams, or wishes and cannot, in any way, be connected to many of the modern day teachings and practices based on misinterpreting these verses and taking them out of context using them for selfish purposes.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Twenty

Another function of those called to be apostles is to “set in order” within the local church. Paul states in Titus 1:5, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained in order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you…” We have already looked at the role of the apostle in recognizing callings and gifting – the grace of God on the lives of individuals. Here Paul mentions yet another aspect of the ministry of apostles – to set in order.

The apostle Paul sent Titus to Crete to set things in order. God has a standard for all believers and an even higher one for leaders (see Titus 1:5-9). Leaders were to set the standard and then model it. Leaders are not qualified on the basis of natural ability, intelligence, or education but on the basis of calling, moral and spiritual character and the ability to teach with skill as the Holy Spirit sovereignty has equipped them.

Titus was to correct wrong doctrine and practices in the Cretan churches, a task that apparently Paul had been unable to complete during his time there. This ministry of “setting in order” is mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament.

When a local church is out of order (doctrine, morals, character, leadership), the apostle will discern it and then set to work so as to bring things into correct biblical order. Apostolic ministry is necessary to set order in the Church and maintain that order. The Kingdom of God operates through divine order and authority. Apostles have God’s authority to set things in order. This is often an unpleasant function but a necessary one. Setting in order can mean correcting, rebuking, and removing people from certain positions.

It includes making adjustments in leadership, doctrine, vision or spiritual priorities. It also includes dealing with sin, rebellion, disobedience and confusion which often gains a foothold in the church. Apostles also deal with strife, division and carnality that manifests in the saints. When things are out of order in our lives and churches, apostolic preaching and teaching will confront it and correct it. The apostles have the grace, boldness and authority to confront and correct. This grace and authority comes from God and not man although it functions within established and trusted relationships.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Nineteen

One of the key functions of those who are apostles is to see the grace upon the lives of the people in a local church and prophetically speak forth their callings and then impart and activate the gifts of the Holy Spirit needed to fulfill that calling. This is the first of many steps over a number of years for those called into ministry. They must now be discipled, trained, equipped and mentored. Their call must be recognized by the leaders of the local church and then, in time, they will be commissioned and released into ministry through the local church who have witnessed the call in action and the person’s character development so that they can minister as mature and developed leaders. This is to say that apostles ordain elders and other leaders – especially other five-fold ministers.

“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Acts 14:23. Apostles ordain and set elders in place to govern local congregations. Apostles have the wisdom and discernment to recognize and appoint elders who are called and qualified. Apostolic ministry is necessary to set up and release proper leadership in the local church. Not only do they ordain, but they impart into leadership as well. Apostles impart wisdom, gifting and teaching into leaders chosen by the Lord equipping and training them for leadership positions. They also train and instruct potential leaders (leaders-in-training) and release them at the proper time. Their main focus, of course, is those called to the five-fold ministry as apostles are foundational to the training and equipping of all five ministries.

Remember, everything rises and falls on leadership. As the leadership goes, the church follows. I believe apostles have the anointing to raise up strong leadership for local churches. Elders who are exposed to apostolic anointing will receive the strength and giftings they need to become strong leaders in the house of God, and if called, strong five-fold ministry leaders trans-locally.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Eighteen

Apostles are bishops (overseers) of local churches and thus are often seen functioning as leader or heading up a network or union of churches. However, just because someone is overseeing local churches or a complete network or union does not necessarily mean that they are functioning as apostles. This is a calling of the Lord Jesus upon a person and thus the call upon the overseer’s life to be an apostle must be recognized and acknowledged so that those to whom he is ministering can receive the apostolic anointing under which he ministers. Some fulfill the function without the call doing so because of their abilities and skills and often because there has not been an apostle available or willing to do the work.

The word bishop that appears a number of times in the New Testament simply means overseer. To oversee means to survey, watch, inspect, examine, supervise (Webster). When Judas lost his apostleship, he lost his BISHOPRICK (Acts 1:20 KJV) The “bishoprick” is an office, work, charge, or position of being an overseer. The word bishoprick is the Greek word episkope meaning inspection. To inspect means to examine officially.

Apostles have the official right to inspect the churches they plant and oversee. This responsibility and work is done relationally as all ministry should arise out of relationships that have been tried and tested over many seasons of ministry. Their “official right” to oversee is not based on their title or position as this is the lowest level of leadership. It should be based on their character and long-term productivity in the ministry. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, their faithfulness and their fruitfulness.

This inspection includes correction based on correctly perceiving or sensing the spiritual health of the local congregation and the aspects of the on-going life of the local church that need to be addressed. They are not called to dominate and control the saints. When spirits of domination and control manifest through an apostle, deliverance is needed to avoid judgment from the Lord. The Lord is the Bishop of our souls. Apostles, along with other ministry gifts, are responsible to bishop (oversee) the saints with love, wisdom, and a great deal of patience.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Seventeen

Apostles Care for Local Churches

Apostles care for local churches. As mentioned in the last several posts of this series of blogs – apostles not only plant local churches but they also work with churches that others have planted and that are needing apostolic input and work within foundational issues. In addition to these prime focuses of apostolic ministry apostles also care for local churches. Paul states, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” The Phillips translation says, “I have the daily burden of responsibility for all the churches.”

Apostles carry local churches in their hearts and prayers. They speak correction into the life of the church and are responsible for order in the churches that receive them relationally as apostles. Apostolic
ministry is graced by God to care for and oversee local churches – the health of the church, the direction and vision of the church, as well as the release and flow of the supernatural power and gifts of the Holy Spirit which they are called to impart (Romans 1:11) As well, they speak into the life and ministry of the pastors and leaders of these churches.

Apostles know the importance of the local church. They know that local churches must remain strong in order to reach people with the gospel and disciple new believers. They understand the spiritual warfare involved in trying to plant and maintain healthy and growing churches. Apostles view the churches they plant and oversee the same way a Father views his children. They nourish and cherish these churches and have a responsibility from heaven to oversee them. The apostle’s greatest joy comes in seeing churches birthed, growing and fully developing into a strong fellowship in the area in which it was planted functioning with its own leadership team and following the vision, plan and purpose God has spoken for them as they also focus on and fulfill the Great Commission and thus begin to reproduce both disciples and new churches as they reach out into all their world.

Defence of Marriage

Guest blogger – Bill Lewis (Ralph’s mentor)

Defence of Marriage
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

It seems surreal to be writing an article of this nature, this topic. To live in a world so turned upside down causes pain.

To have to defend marriage as one man and one woman is so bizarre that it defies logic. The preternatural bonds introduced and expected by the homosexual movement are militant. There is a rage and a special interest that is driven by lust and greed. All the rage and lust is dressed up in tolerance and equality. But since we have no moral compass anymore, it all sounds good and can be debated on the grounds of pluralism and personal rights.

However, we have a moral compass and it is the express, written word of God. The Bible states that a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh. He also stated the purpose of this union was for them to be fruitful and multiply besides the joy of companionship and oneness. The propagation of humanity was planned through the loving relationship of a mother and father, husband and wife. Just because there are bad marriages and bad parents does not nullify God’s plan. There is no way that same sex marriages will ever be fruitful and multiply unless we leave the world of choice and love and move into a “Brave New World” as described by Huxley. Sure, we are at the place of genetic engineering and there can be and will be the petrie dish babies that are programmed for various slots in the Utopian hell that will be created. We will also end up with the “Soilant Green” disposal of the aged with its utilitarian euthanasia.

The world is on extremely dangerous thin ice. The ethical and moral standards are being obliterated as society marches toward anarchy and judgment. If I recall correctly, this very problem brought about a fiery rain from heaven and destroyed two city states. If I recall correctly, it was the last days of the Roman Empire that were filled with this kind of issue.

I am so disappointed in our elected officials. For political expediency from the president to congressmen, they have caved into the pressure and the money behind the movement and just because your son or daughter has chosen a path of homosexuality, does not mean that you change your stance. The word remains true. You should love your child, but truth is still truth. If your child becomes a murderer, do you now condone and support murder? The logic in all this is missing.

There is a huge push for this as well on an economic basis. The implications for state support, inheritances, taxes, and health care are all in this mix. The more Socialism creeps into our nation, the harder the press for the distribution of benefits will be. As one writer put it, who will be next to push their agenda? Will the Mormons lineup and begin to push for polygamy on the basis of my rights? If you let homosexuals redefine marriage, who will be next? When will it stop? There is no stopping point anymore because we have no standard to measure ourselves by. The Bureau of Standards is closed. This so does remind me of the reason for the flood, “Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes.”

The gods of today

Guest blogger – Bill Lewis (Ralph’s mentor)

Sacrificing our Children on the Altar of Pluralism and Tolerance

It is time to pay attention, actually, way past time to pay attention. Our children, our society, we, the people are being bombarded with the homosexual agenda. We are watching TV where every show now, at some time, will feature a homosexual is an appealing role. The media flaunts the issues and readily brands anyone opposed as a bigot. Christians, who stand on the moral ground of Biblical truth, are portrayed horribly and blamed for the ills of society. Christians are painted as out of touch with reality.

The gay movement speaks strongly of “rights.” They seek to compare themselves to the modern civil rights movement. However, Christians, by and large, were the supporters and advocates for racial equality because of a Biblical stance as to the dignity of man and God’s creation. Now Christians who are Biblically motivated stand against homosexuality for the same reason. God has not condoned it in his word. It is contrary to the natural order of creation. He created them male and female.

While we hold to loving the person, we cannot and should not condone all actions. Today, we do not burn our babies in worship of Moloch and Baal, but we sacrifice them on the altars of Pluralism and Tolerance. When we sacrifice them, they end up with no back bone or moral compass. They are rudderless waifs swallowing hard the message of tolerance while hating those who oppose them. They drink of pluralism, but will prosecute the ones who will not imbibe of their sin and persuasion.

Defense of marriage is more than marriage. It is the defense of family, family trees, inheritance, civil society. All are at stake. While a minority wants to justify actions and lifestyles that are contrary to God’s word, we are watching the internal destruction of a nation.

The root cause: Romans chapter one lets us know that when a people forsake God, they are given over to such actions and issues that we see today. I question whether the Supreme Court has enough moral and judicial fortitude to stem the tide. The executive branch has certainly capitulated and numerous ones in congress are falling to the whims of wealthy supporters of immorality.