Tuesday Flights and a Good Book or Two

Just finished reading a great book. Half through it by the time I landed in Toronto. Now several hours into the flight to Frankfurt, Germany and the book is finished. Not to fear I have another one to start right away. And another, and another. Flights are a good time to read for me – I can’t sleep when in motion. This is helpful when driving home late at night from ministering hours away from my warm bed as then there is no fear of falling asleep while driving, And, great when flying because it is often the only time I have to do in-depth quality reading. Good thing I travel as often as I do – of course, I could just buy fewer books.

The iPad I am working on has about 50 books that I also need to read. However, still prefer a “real” book that I can write in, highlight, and interact with. I’m of the generation that does not take its cell phone out to see what time it is, we wear a watch. So, if I have a choice, a paper copy as apposed to an electronic copy. But, it is nice to have the ebooks as back up should I finish the five books I brought with me before I get home again late on the 15th of May.

The book – yup! That’s what I am writing about, I didn’t forget and I am not rambling mindlessly in my old age. The book is by a great German church planter who is well recognized in many nations worldwide. His name is Wolfgang Simson. Once a social worker and even a taxi driver, for the past several decades he has been studying, analyzing, and writing about the Church. You know, the one that Jesus is building as apposed to the very visible one that man has built over the centuries. He was writing about rediscovering the dynamic, organic, relational, viral community of real faith that Jesus started when He chose His first 12 disciples.

The author is not new to me. I read his “Starfish Manifesto” and “The Starfish Vision” many years ago. You know, back when they were paper copies. All right, I admit that I do have them as electronic copies as well. He is on the cutting edge of the apostolic – prophetic Church that Jesus is building in every nation of the world. The Starfish series is a prophetic roadmap for an apostolic journey. A powerful insight into the heart of God. I just located them again (paper and electronic copies) and plan to reread them now that I am about a decade wiser.

My work in Russia this trip – my third time into the area – will be to continue to build upon what The Lord has started during my previous visits. Some of the churches are being built along the traditional model and need further work to insure they are being built upon a solid foundation of the apostle and prophet. Several are looking at learning more about the warfare they have recently entered and want me to teach on spiritual warfare. Two of the churches (new on this visit) have just recently separated from their organizational / denominational structure and are beginning to plant a fresh new work. They are starting without any real understanding of what to do first and then second and then third… So, a wide variety of church types and a real diversity of work (topics and ministry) that I will be working with.

14 solid days of ministry with some lengthy driving to arrive at the cities where I am working this time around. Your prayers are appreciated. The updates may not be daily and may even be a day old but I am dependent upon people lending me a modem or the homes I am staying in having Wi-Fi. So, getting online is always very uncertain and definitely hit and miss.

Trip Into Russia

Tomorrow I leave for Russia. This is my first trip this year into the nation. I fly Regina-Toronto-Frankfurt-Moscow-Yekenterinburg. It is a full 30 hour trip with tight connections except in Moscow. I am praying for good weather, no delays, and a clear path to run between flights so as not to miss my ride. Join me in prayer, please.

Upon arrival at 9:15p on Wednesday I will be picked up and driven (about 3 hours) to the city of Tagin where I will be working for four days. Then I move to the city of Lysva for 4 more days of ministry. I will also be ministering in Yekenterinburg for 2 days … Then an 800 km trip to the city of Yugorsk where there are several smaller churches that have just left a very controlled legalistic system and moved out on their own. I am to help them get established with the right foundation as they discover the true freedom that only Christ can bring. Hopefully we can begin to establish a proper apostolic and prophetic foundation for these two new works.

I return on the 15th of May in time to plant gardens and grass seed and begin to do some landscaping. Then I leave on the 4th of June for a two week apostolic ministry trip into Armenia. More on that later.

Your prayers for this trip are greatly appreciated. It is an unsettled time in Russia (and Ukraine) and so there is more of the “unknown” than I usually face. But God is faithful and good and I have peace about the trip and feel that much will be accomplished and established for the Lord and His Kingdom.

The blogs may not be regular due to the travel and availability of Wi-Fi in each location. I will do my best to post an update daily. You can also watch Facebook for more frequent updates.

Content With the Ordinary – Part Four

As we saw, Elisha states as he prays for his helper, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them… open his eyes so he may see.”

Those are not just dead words from the distant past. Or words that were true at one time but not anymore. As Christians we believe that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the words of the prophet Elisha are full of life even today. God states that His word is life (John 6:63) and alive (Hebrews 4:12). These words come down through the centuries and speak to our situations today. The Word of God that never returns void is hurdling over the distractions and opposition coming at us. It’s an optimistic Word; a hopeful Word. It’s a Word that takes seriously the realitty of the situation and resistance but takes more seriously the reality of the power of the resurrection inside us. It’s a Word that is calling us to come up a little higher to see what God sees instead of looking through dirty glasses from our limited perspective.

“Those who are with us are moe than those who are with them.”

In other words, we are not alone. Never have been. Never will be.

The Enemy has conspired against you, but God has conspired against him. The Enemy that opposes you could rightly be called great, because he has significant influence and power. But the Word of God says, “The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). This is a Word of The Lord for us today….

Until now, maybe you’ve been looking at all the obstacles to your greater life. You’ve seen the army:

Of critical people, reminding you of all the ways you’ve blown it and of all the things you are and all
the things you are not
Of reasons why this victory and abundant life Jesus promises is not practical, not attainable
Of weaknesses inside you and inside the church
Of sin tempting you
Of past failures marching like foot soldiers over the hope God has stirred inside you

But are you seeing what God sees? Have you seen your life and your church from His perspective? Your Father sees something more than you see … and He wants you to see it too. Even when you don’t know so, you can rest in the reality that God says so.

Content With The Ordinary – Part Three

Besides negative people (see the last two blogs before this one), you will also face an army of distractions and competing ideas, values, interests, and events. Life’s daily demands exert a strong downward pull into the tyranny of the ordinary. Behind all this are a number of things – the devil (your adversary), your flesh, your love of comfort, your routines, your sheer laziness … just to mention a few.

There are a huge number of competing voices and forces in just the right combination to prevent the truth you have been receiving, the sense of God’s plan for you life, from settling in and becoming reality. many things will conspire to keep you in your routine, to keep you in front of the television, to keep you stuck in low-level pursuits and relationships.

The moment you step out of the ordinary and decide to do what God has designed you for and called you to do for Him – you are going to feel like a lone island of God-inspired greatness surrounded by a sea or normalcy and complacency. So, what do you do? When you feel that the world is against you, how will you keep moving forward into the great future God has planned for you?

The key is to see what God sees. Elisha is warning the rulers of Israel what the king of Aram is up to. He has declared war on the nation; Israel does not have any undercover spies in Aram’s camp. They have something greater – an aging prophet who through the power of God is able to tell the king of Israel every word the king of Aram whispers in his bedroom. Without a single wiretap. (2 Kings 6:10)

When the King of Aram learns that it is Elisha who keeps thwarting his schemes, he becomes enraged and sends soldiers to seize him. Good strategy. Take out Israel’s secret weapon, and they’re done. So under the cloak of night, an enemy force surrounds the city of Dothan, the city where Elisha is living.

Early the next morning one of Elisha’s attendants notices the Aramean chariots surrounding the city. Seized with fear, he runs to Elisha. “Oh, my lord,” the servant cries,”what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15)

When you step out to fulfill God’s call on your life guarding who has access to your spirit – you will find that there are times you will be surrounded by many things that are coming against God’s plans and your enthusiasm for His future for your life. Pursuing God’s purpose can be exhilarating. It can also be terrifying.

If you want to live surrounded by God’s miracles, you have to come to terms with the fact that you will always be surrounded by enemies. You’ll often be amazed at what God can do through you. Then again, you’ll experience plenty of moments that are more like 2 Kings 6:15. You will find yourself looking up to heaven, shaking your head in uncertainty, praying: “Oh, my Lord, what shall I do?”

The opposition can be overwhelming. But look at what Elisha tells his servant:(verse 16) “Don’t be afraid … Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Is the old man delusional? The last time we checked, the entire cast of good guys in this situation consists of one old man and an errand boy. They are encircled by an overpowering force bent on killing them. Just as you may be feeling right now, by all accounts the odds are stacked against them. But right at this point point, Elisha prays: “O Lord, open his eyes that he may see.” (2 Kings 6:17)

Elisha doesn’t pray that God will send down fire as Elijah did on Mount Carmel. And he doesn’t pray that God will send a larger army to their rescue. He just prays that the servant will see what God already has in place.

In that moment God opens the servant’s eyes. He sees “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (verse 17).

They are not alone. They never were. They never would be. Heaven’s army surrounds the enemy that surrounds them.

So, when you carefully guard your spirit and who has access to your heart; when you step out against all odds to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for your life; when you face obstacles and opposition – just remember, God knew all of this was going to happen and has prepared the solution to the problem before you even knew there would be a problem. Just look up and watch God’s hand do what only God can do.

Don’t let the fear of the future keep you in the ordinary. Let go and watch God. Pray for spiritual eyes that are open and can see what God is doing before He does it.

Content With The Ordinary – Part Two

The people who you surround yourself with – whom you let into your spirit and who, therefore, impact who you are – determine your future and whether you will fulfill God’s plan and purpose for your life.

How can you identify the people you need to put out of your life for a season or altogether? Ask yourself some pointed questions:

1> Who in my life leads me to attitudes or actions outside of what God prescribes for me in His Word?

2> Who leaves me drained rather than empowered after a typical conversation?

3> Who keeps me thinking smaller rather than helping me dream bigger?

4> Who constantly asserts that what I am attempting to do for God will not work?

If there are people in your life who fit these descriptions, it might be time to limit their access to you. If that’s not possible, brainstorm some creative ways to limit their impact. You won’t be unloving to do it. Actually, nothing you can do is more loving for those around you than positioning yourself to be all that God has called you to be. To truly love people means to love God first and foremost.

Of course, it’s not just avoiding negative people that positions you for God’s best. On the more positive side, you need mentors who are already living in faithful obedience and who are willing to impart their stories and wisdom into your life. People who will walk with you into your future and be there for you when you need them and even when you don’t.

Never be content with the ordinary … and be care of the ordinary. It has a way of creeping back into your life in the everyday routine of daily life. And, it hits hard when you are surrounded by people who live in the ordinary and are not focused on God’s bst for them or for you.

Content With The Ordinary – Part One

All around you there are people who are content with the ordinary. And, if you begin to search for God’s best – His presence, Hos purpose, and His power – they will begin to wonder what is wrong with you and why you are not satisfied with the ordinary, the normal, and what has always been. And, because you like these people and they are fairly nice and okay folks, you will be tempted to rejoin them and stop your quest of fulfilling God’s plan for your life. Encounters with these people can be very crippling when you are working at pursuing the life that God has called you to.

Maybe the reason some of us feel surrounded by opposition as we try to live for God is that we have surrounded ourselves with the wrong people. They are not hiding outside our windows waiting to ambush us. They are sitting at our tables by personal invitation. If you are going to do what God has called you to do, you have t intentionally bring the people into your life He wants you to have. And put out the ones who subtract from your potential.

Consider the Bible examples:

Solomon was condemned for surrounding himself with foreign wives who led him into idolatry (1 Kings 11:4)

Paul encourages us to “not be midled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Jesus put out the people in Jairus’s home who laughed at Him when He wanted to bring Jairus’s daughter back to life (see Mark 5:40)

The concept of putting people out of your life may not sound very loving. But I’m not talking about drawing a circle around people and refusing to care for the. I’m talking about drawing a circle around your spirit and allowing only certain people to affect it. There’s a big difference.

And it makes a big difference. if you told me the five people who have the most access to your life, I could predict with remarkable accuracy the course your life is going to take. Not because I am prophetic. It’s just simple logic. The people who have significant input into your life shape who you’ll become and what you’ll do.

Tough lesson to learn but one that must be grasped and applied if you want to fulfill God’s planned purpose for your life.

Christ Is Risen – And….

Easter has come and gone. We have celebrated the death and resurrection of The Lord whom we follow. Well, some of us did. Others were at home with visiting family members and friends who travelled long distances to come; still others travelled long distances on the long weekend to visit with others. So, the numbers may have been smaller but the celebration was real. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed!

And now it is Monday after the long weekend. And…

What difference did the remembrance and celebration of Easter and the resurrection make? Whether you remembered it at home while entertaining others or with believers in an assembly, worshipping and listening to a teaching from God’s Word – what difference did Easter make in your life. What is different today as you headed back to “normal” as a result of His death and resurrection? How has this annual reminder of the resurrection of Christ from death and hell impacted your life? Or, was it just another long weekend with some added responsibilities and events that have left you feeling more drained and exhausted than usual?

There has been a lot of television coverage of Easter – the celebrations from many parts of the world being broadcast. Rome has been in the news with Pope Francis celebrating his second Easter in the Vatican. He prayed for peace in Ukraine and other hot spots in the world. Then the news came that some of the militia went to Easter mass in the local church, came back, picked up their guns resulting in three dead and an investigation into what happened begins… People processed through the streets of Jerusalem and visited the supposed spot where Jesus rose from the dead (they built a church building over the top of the tomb, I believe) …. And yet there is no peace in Israel as the struggle with the Palestinians continues and people are dying…

The Christians have been busy this past “Holy Week” and the world has hardly noticed and little, if anything, has changed.

Jesus was raised by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul the apostle writes that this same power that raised Him from the dead resides in us if we are born again and true disciples of Jesus. The resurrection and the message of the gospel of the Kingdom turned the known Roman world upside down as it spread quickly into all four corners of the empire and beyond. This happened because the early followers experienced the resurrected Jesus Christ. This message impacted and altered their personal lives and changed them forever as they experienced both the power and the presence of God. And now…

We go through the motions most times without the power or the presence. Ceremonies, pageantry, special services, dead popes becoming ‘saints’ as they are beatified and sainted, parades through the streets, tremendous teachings, special meals… to remember that Christ is risen.

AND, what difference has it all made in the lives of those who do not know Jesus and are living in sin?
AND, has it impacted the lives of believers bringing them to a place of deeper love and obedience?
AND, did the non-Christian world see, grasp, and receive the love of God that sent Jesus to the cross?
AND, did the Kingdom of God expand into those places still in spiritual darkness and bondage?
AND, did this celebration alter YOUR life in some way or was it just ‘another Sunday’?

If Jesus is alive, and He is… what difference has His death and resurrection made in your life? And how has that difference been seen in your life and through your lifestyle?

Christ is risen – and… It’s the AND that I am concerned about. Otherwise, we are guilty of simply having another “religion.” A born again religion but religion nonetheless. And religion is part of the darkness Jesus rose from the dead to free us from.

A Conversation Yesterday / India to Canada

There are two young men in India ministering – now into their second week. Young men I admire and work with in The Upper Room in a small town (and I mean small) in Ohio, U.S.A. I have prophesied over them several times about their ministries and international doors to ministry and have been doing a little mentoring here and there as we keep in touch weekly by Facebook, texts, and emails. They connected yesterday as they had been praying for my Russian visa to come through…

Here is the conversation:

Ralph: “… I continue to pray for you and Jeremy”
Mark: “…thank you for your prayers.. we are praying for your visa! We are here because of your encouragement
Ralph: “Thanks for letting me know that. It all sounds so great as I have been following your progress and pictures on Facebook”
Mark: “Seriously we were listening to the prophetic words and talking about you on the way here. You really mean alot to us. You planted the seeds and pushed us to do what God wanted to do..”
Ralph: “Thanks for the encouragement – it means a lot… feedback does not happen often”
Mark: “You changed our lives dramatically for the good- you pushed us, and helped develop us.. and we still want you to push us…”
Jeremy (on Mark’s Facebook): “Hey Ralph, this is Jeremy, saw you were talking to Mark and wanted to say thanks for everything you’ve done. I totally would not have believed I could or would be doing anything like this if you hadn’t come along. I am serious when I say, there are very few men I have met that have so challenged me and provoked me like you have. Thank you for your faithfulness and consistency to the word of God and to what He has called you to”
Ralph: “Jeremy – good to hear from you. Thanks for the thanks. I appreciate you and your love for Jesus and His Great Commission. We have been praying for you and your ministry while there…. You young guys – Mark and yourself (and your brother) are a serious encouragement to me and are the reason I do what I do… Love you guys”

Just sharing so you are aware that neat things are taking place in nations around the world as young people act on the simple prophetic words they have received regardless of the difficulties and costs…

Please pray for Mark and Jeremy – and Jeremy’s twin, named Jacob, who is preaching and ministering “back home” doing more than regularly expected because of the absence of the other leaders… I am proud of these men and what they are doing. Obedience is the key…

A Quick Survey…

I am reading the Book of Acts – the history of the life of the early Church and the work of the Holy Spirit through some very normal people who were obedient disciples of the Lord. As I am reading I am noting the differences between what we see today in the average church and what the early Church was like. let me list a few I have noticed…


Moving from house to house daily and coming together to celebrate regularly
Meeting only in sanctuaries weekly

Apostles and prophets
Pastors and teachers


Sharing all they had – tithing as foundational (ownership)
Giving what is left – tithing redefined or ignored (management)

Community lifestyle and corporate expression of faith
Individual – personal faith

Natural discipling of neighbours – multiply self
Outreach, action, programs, specialists – little multiplication or even addition

Getting the Church out into the community (homes)
Getting people into the church building

Small, intimate groups where life is shared
Large, impersonal groups with little to no life is seen

Kinetic, discussion based teaching times
Static, sermon centered teaching times

“Go and make disciples!”
“Come and become a member!”

Equipping oriented (everyone involved)
Performance oriented (professionals only)

Church sending itself as a multiplying unit
Church sending specialized missionaries

There are certainly more differences. They can be seen in each chapter if one simply takes the time to examine the life of the early Church as described by Luke and the experience we are having weekly in our local churches – assuming you have not given up on the institutional church.

However, with determination and perseverance we can change ‘what is’ into ‘what should be’… It is not easy, it will cost you, it will take time – but it is worth it. However, you will need to be intentional as change does not happen in and of itself nor will it happen by accident. As you work hard and are patient with others who don’t see what you are seeing – the transformation will certainly happen. As the changes are implemented you will be seriously encouraged as more and more life is experienced and you begin to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

However, if the group you belong to is no longer experiencing life and is not willing to change it may be time to close it down and move on. Or, if they are comfortable and don’t see the need to change – it may simply be time to quietly exit and begin again. Believe me, there is always a remnant – people who are hungry for what God is doing so you won’t be alone. You can start again in a new way with a new format that allows the life of God to flow. It is this life that is the light for the world (john 1:4) and without it we are simply an institution that is busy with self-preservation.

The New Testament Church is the model or pattern we are to begin with. No cost is too great if it results in a body of believers – the Church – that Jesus is building and that sees the very life and nature of God flowing daily as people are being save and added to the local assembly.

More Than Just Interesting

Christianmingle.com in the United States (an online dating site for believers) surveyed users for its “state of dating in America” and found:

1> Nearly half of Christian respondents believe the ideal age to get married is 26 to 30 (49%)

2> More than half of Christian singles feel that between six months and two years is an appropriate range to date someone before moving in together (56%)

3> 38% of Christian singles believe the appropriate amount of time to date before getting engaged is more than a year but less than two

4> 61% of Christians say they would have sex before marriage without caveats.

A comment about #2 and #4…

It seems that being a disciple of Jesus and having declared Him to be Lord (Romans 10:9-10) means very little to singles today. Maybe even to most Christians. When 56% of those surveyed who declare their loyalty and have given their life to Jesus say that they would move in together before marriage – never mind the 6 months to 2 years – means that they do not see fornication or adultery as a sin; they do not consider sex before marriage a sin. Yet, they declare themselves to be disciples of Jesus. This statistic is even more disconcerting when you look at #4 on the survey results – 61% of Christians would have sex outside of marriage. Never mind living together – just go to a bar and hook up with someone?

Maybe I am old fashion and way out in left field here but are we not stretching the definition of “Christian” way out of shape? Are we somehow redefining the term “Christian?” Are we lowering our moral standards so as to include all those who attend a local church as “Christians?” Maybe the word “Christian” no longer has any real meaning; no longer points to having moral standards; no longer means living differently than those who do not profess to be Christians. Should we now refer to Christians and then indicate that there is a second group called disciples of the Lord – differentiating between the two? I mean, can someone call themselves a Christian and literally ignore living according to the moral standards as set out in both the Old and New Testaments?

I find it more than just interesting that these statistics are not causing alarm bells to go off in most Christian circles. I find it interesting that apparently, in general, we are not concerned that our moral standards are now fairly level with the culture in which we live. And, I find it more than just interesting that there are those in this generation who call themselves Christians and, I assume, believe that their lifestyle is acceptable to God.