Learning To Say No!

It’s Monday .. and that means a day when I catch up on all that has happened on the weekend that now needs my attention. I stop reading and answering emails and various texts from different apps on Friday night when I close the office for the weekend. So, they pile up and then on Monday I work to “catch up” and answer as many as I can or should.

You may ask what happens on the weekend that requires that I shut down the office and all that goes on in a ministry office on the weekends? The answer is simple. I work in my study on Saturday (a separate room from my office) to be ready to minister in the evening at a house church that I lead. And Sunday is my Sabbath when I do not work but have a day of rest away from all the normal weekday activities. So, there is always a lot to do on Monday.

As I reviewed the messages this morning I, once again, practiced something that it took me a long time to learn. I had to say “no” to a number of those who wrote or communicated by voice message. Examples:

    • Someone passing through my city sometime in June wanting to drop in and have coffee at my home
    • Someone needing to speak to me right away as it is (was) urgent
    • Someone writing and needing a prophetic word because they are having major problems in life
    • Someone who wanted to come and stay with me for three or four days so we could visit and they could share in (help me with, learn from) my ministry
    • Someone who simply wanted to have a coffee to ‘fellowship’
    • And the list could go on but you get the idea

I simply responded with a polite “no” to each of these and other requests that came in over the weekend. I have a number of criterion when determining how I will answer the different requests. The main one is: Did God call me to do this?” If the answer is “no” than my answer is also “no”.

Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message Version of the Bible and now with the Lord in Heaven, wrote: “A busy pastor is a lazy pastor.” Much of our business is a fruit of our laziness to discern the right things and say no to everything else. So, the key is FOCUS. We need to focus on what the Lord has called us to do at this time in the Kingdom and at this time in our journey of life. 

The problem is: Unsure of our direction and focus, we double our speed. And thus many end up living with stress, anxiety, and eventually burn-out. Living life but not enjoying life. Busy but not productive. Active but not getting anywhere. 

A number of years ago I learned this truth and thus learned to say “no” more often than I say “yes.” I learned that busy is not better. I discovered that it takes stillness and solitude to stay in touch with the heart of God. It became evident that I needed to make time for inner and outer silence so that I could hear the voice of the Spirit. And that this meant learning to say “no”. 

It meant no longer finding my sense of value and worth in what I did but in who I am in relationship to Jesus. That my identity was not to be found in my activities or my profession but  in who I am “in Christ.” 

Learning to say “no” was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do – and one of the best. You might want to try it. Find your God-given focus and then say no to everything that is not within that focus. 

10 Journaling Tips For Beginners

This article has been borrowed from https://mellowed.com/benefits-of-journaling/


Getting started with journaling can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know what to write. But with so many benefits, it’s easy to understand why so many people want to make it a habit.

Writing down your personal thoughts and feelings isn’t something most people do on a regular basis. So sitting and staring down at a blank piece of paper trying to figure out how to start journaling can be somewhat intimidating. After about five minutes of looking at your journal, it’s tempting to just give up altogether and just chalk it up as something that’s not for you.

However, writer’s block does not have to plague you. With these approaches to journaling, it’ll no longer be overwhelming or laborious.

Here are 10 journaling tips for beginners: Read more

58 Journaling Ideas: What to Write About in a Daily Journal

This article has been borrowed from https://www.developgoodhabits.com/benefits-journaling/


Have you ever struggled to come up with ideas for what to write in your journal? As a writer, aside from enjoying the many benefits of journaling for my mental well-being, I find that keeping a daily journal is a great way to organize my thoughts, think of great ideas, and learn to live in the present moment Unfortunately, it’s not easy to think of great topics that you can write about. That’s why we have created this list of 59 journaling ideas. In theory, each of these prompts will help spark your creativity and will give you hours of content that you can add to your daily journal.

1. Inspirational Quotes Read more

Journal prompts for self-discovery and self-reflection

This article has been borrowed from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-resilience#1


We’ve organized these prompts into categories that focus on relationships, emotions, how you feel about work, and more.

Love and relationships Having strong, supportive relationships can help improve overall well-being, protect against mental health concerns like depression, and boost resilience, which refers to your ability to weather life’s many challenges.

Writing about relationships with loved ones provides the opportunity to:

  • explore the ways these bonds strengthen you
  • express your gratitude for loved ones
  • recognize when relationships are no longer beneficial or healthy
  • explore what you want out of future relationships

Consider giving these prompts a try: Read more

Six Journaling Ideas

This article has been borrowed from https://www.deanbokhari.com/smarter-faster-better-goals/


If I had to choose between throwing my iPhone into a burning fire vs. throwing my journal into the fire, the journal would win every single time. I would toss the iPhone.

The journal—it’s one of those things that can be as useless as a piece of trash, or one of the most valuable things you’ve ever owned… It all depends on what you fill that journal’s pages with.

Today, I’m going to share some of my personal favourite journaling ideas. You can use them all, combine the ones you like, or pick the single journaling idea that most resonates with where you’re at in life right now. Either way, journaling—when done regularly—almost always leads to fresh, new insights and ideas that can absolutely transform your life.

I’ve used all of these journaling ideas below at some point in my life. Either to get through tough times, to achieve my goals, maintain my sanity, or to foster my creative efforts (like fleshing out topic ideas for on-line articles, blogs, or teachings.)

Whichever one of these journaling ideas you decide to use, just promise me this: you’ll actually use them. Because they’ll only work if you work them. Read more

Now — Next —Never

Now Next Never

As a new year begins it is a good time to have a look at life 

Your life – the life of Christ that you are experiencing – the life of the Church and the Kingdom of God here on earth

To look at how things are right now – an honest look at yourself as a disciple of Jesus

To think about what is next in your life and how you should prepare for the steps the Spirit is guiding you to take

To even look back and see the things that you have done in the past year which should never be repeated in the new year

Now — Next —Never

As I have been reading God’s Word there have been a number of verses that have stood out to me – spoken to me Read more

Now – Next – Never

It is always exciting for me to enter a new year and to anticipate the new opportunities that will open up to expand the Kingdom into areas where the Gospel has never been heard. The start of a new year is always an exciting time for me. I begin new projects, think through topics for the year that I believe God wants taught (preached), and plan my own learning (reading) experience for the year. Don’t want to waste even one day of a perfectly good year to glorify God and continue to grow and mature.

One of the things that I currently do as the new year dawns is to look at “Now – Next – Never.”

I look at what I am involved in “now.” How am I doing physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually? What am I investing my time in? Are there things that I am involved in that are simply a waste of time? Obviously if there are then I should plan to disengage. Are there relationships that I need to end and move on from? Are there things in my daily routine that I need to change, do differently, remove completely? How am I doing in my relationship to my personal mentor?

Then I look at “next.” What is next on the agenda as I start 2022? What new things does the Lord want me involved in? What do I sense the Holy Spirit is speaking to me about? What is coming up on the horizon that I need to be preparing for? This “next” includes any major shifts I am sensing in the Kingdom as God continues to expand His reign in the world through His people, the real Church. (See my blog for January 5th, 2022). I simply take the time to sense what is on the horizon – what is “next” in the Kingdom, the Church, and thus in my life and ministry. In this way I can begin to make plans for the year and get a head start on the changes that I will need to be making. 

Thirdly, I look at “never.” As I look back on 2021 what is it that I “never” want to do again? What is it that I “never” want to experience again in my lifetime? What should I “never” do again? Say again? Teach again? What is it that the Lord is speaking to me about that He wants to “never” again see in my life and ministry? This helps me to examine the lessons I have learned from the experiences I have had in the past year. This enables me to not repeat the disasters of yesteryear. And helps me to build upon the lessons learned as I move into a new year and new opportunities.

A simply way of looking at life – present, past, and future. Simple but profound. However, it is only beneficial if we are honest with ourselves and take an adequate amount of time to do a thorough job of looking at things as they really are and then dreaming a bit about what is to come – and then think through and pray about practical ways that the “dreams” can be implemented in your daily life in the new year. 

Now – Next – Never … think about it!

(A fuller audio of this blog will be posted on Podbean under Ralph Howe Ministries this coming weekend – January 8, 2022

The “New Year” of the Lord

Over 40 years ago my mentor taught me that: “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” Poor English but definitely true and good advice to ponder. 

As we have just entered a new year – the year of the Lord 2022 – it is a good time to take an honest look at our life, our routines, our actions, our involvements, our relationships and determine what needs to change a lot or adjust a little. The truth is: if we simply continue to do what we have always done then we cannot expect different or even better results. If we continue to travel down the same road we will certainly not arrive at a different place or destination. So, what needs to change?

I ask myself this question and go through this process of taking a personal inventory of life each year at this time. I examine the past year and note what I have learned. Often painfully. I take time to look at my key relationship – my personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus. I examine the relationships I have with various members of my large family. I review where my friendships are at and the journey that I have walked with my friends over the past 12 months. And, I look inside my heart to see what needs to be adjusted or altered.

I also take time to review what I have read and studied. It is time to remove the 100 or so books from the “read pile” and file them on the shelves downstairs (reminder to self: buy more shelving). And look forward to what I am planning to read this year – books I have been buying and accumulating for the 2022 “to read” pile. A little harder to do visually as some of the books I desire to read in the new year are only found in e-book editions and so are nicely located on my Kobo and Kindle readers. As a result, they are out of sight and I have to work hard to remember they are there and need to be included in the “to read” pile. 

I take a look at my goals for the new year. Financial goals. Relational goals. Family goals. Spiritual goals. Personal developmental goals. Physical (exercise) goals. Weight loss goals (I have reached the age where I have a few pounds to shed). And, of course, reading and educational goals. Then I outline them in detail and in writing as I want to be able to measure my progress as the year moves on. Again, as my mentor taught me: “If you aim at nothing you will certainly hit it.” So, I take adequate time to think through and plan my goals for the year. 

So, entering 2022 in a positive and progressive way takes some time and effort as 2021 comes to an end. But it is always time well invested. I believe that with all my heart. As Plato once started: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” So, I believe in taking a hard and realistic look at where things are at right now and where I would like them to be by this time next year. Only then am I am able to move forward into the plans and purposes that the Lord has for me to fulfill in the coming “new year of the Lord”. 

And then I can feel good about myself and my life as I purposely move forward, grow, develop, and mature throughout the new year. 

Coming Shifts and Changes That Will Be Needed

As I write this – the day before its publication – we are into our second day of strong winds and snow, a blizzard. All roads and highways into and out of the city are closed. Visibility has improved but is still not good. Drifting snow and terrible road conditions. On the bight side – lots of exercise shovelling the snow from the last 36 hours. So, no need to fight the conditions to get to the gym. I do have to be out and about later in the day however. Hopefully by then conditions will improve. Welcome to winter in my part of the country.

As the weather seasons change I believe the natural is speaking to us about the spiritual or supernatural. There seems to be a change or a shift happening in the Church and thus in the Kingdom. In fact, a number of shifts 

1> We are seeing the church move from being an organization to being more organic. Organic means being built on relationships and not programming. It also means more people involved in the life of the church buying into the fellowship, connecting, committing. With each member becoming actively involved in the life of the Body (1 Corinthians 12:14-31). Body ministry as expressed in 1 Corinthians 12 must become a reality. 

2> We are seeing a shift from big to small. As a result of Covid we have been meeting in smaller, house-centered groups. Many of the larger churches have not been meeting but the life of the Body of Christ has continued and, in fact, improved because of the increase in house fellowships and personal face-to-face contact. This will continue even post-Covid as it is a move and a change directed by the Spirit.

3> We are shifting from cognition to emotion. We are needing to alter the way we teach. For decades we have been teaching to impart information. We have been aiming our teachings at the head, knowledge. The result is informed believers. The new shift will take us to transformation as we teach to touch the heart and thus bring immediate change into the lives of believers as the Word does its work (Hebrews 4:12). Transformation, not information. Heart not just head.

4> We will be shifting from asking “What?” To asking “What If?” In other words, we will become much more imaginative and will be stepping out in faith and making many changes to way we do life together. We will no longer just ask “What is happening?” We will be thinking and feeling through the question “What if we…?” And we will begin to, once again, step out in faith and see what the Spirit can accomplish through us.

5> For many years our emphasis has been on building a decent sized church. So, assembling a crowd as numbers have determined success or failure. We are seeing a healthy shift to building disciples and not just focusing on numbers. So, focusing on making strong and mature disciples for the Kingdom and not just more members for the Church

6> We are having to face a new reality and so there is a shift going on from the old to the new reality. This shift includes a much stronger on-line presence and using the technology that now exists to reach people for Jesus. On-line church services, small groups, and personal counselling will become a necessity in the new society and culture now being formed due in part to the Covid pandemic. 

7> We need to shift gears from go to stop. This means we need to be somewhat less active and a bit more contemplative. As leaders and as believers we need to be in touch with our heart or spirit. We need to take the time to know how we are doing and what might need some realignment. We need to develop solid, in-depth relationships that allow us to be seriously accountable. We need good friends. We need to have a daily time with God and regain the discipline of journaling. We need to slow down enough to have a time to exercise daily. And, we need to develop and maintain a growing hunger for more of God in every aspect of our lives. This means we will need to say no more often so that we have the time needed to regain and maintain our health. We need to shift gears from constant go, go, go to taking the time to stop ministering as much and as often and invest in our our own health – physical, spiritual, mental, and relational. 

8> We need to shift from direct to indirect influence. As leaders we often lead directly touching and changing hearts. However, there is a shift to a more biblical form of leadership where we invest the majority of our time discipling and mentoring future leaders who will influence the next generation. Thus, we continue to directly influence those who are our peers but through others that we disciple and mentor into leadership we indirectly influence many more that, on our own, we would never reach.

9> A shift from town to region (local community to complete cities and beyond). The Bible states that Jesus went throughout all of the towns and villages” in Galilee (Matthew 9:35). The northern region of Israel where Jesus ministered was, at that time, estimated to have a population of three million. Jesus ministered to therein and not just one town or village.

Paul followed this regional influence method by planting churches in major population centers and then working from there outwards to the whole region (trading district). Acts 19 sees Paul planting a church in the city of Ephesus which then shared “the word of the Lord” with every household in the entire district of Asia Minor (Acts 19:10) within two years.

10> A shift from addition to multiplication. So, instead of planting one church and watching it grow and continue to develop we shift our thinking and thus our spiritual DNA and “plant to plant”. Think of your church plant or current mature church as the first of many that will be planted. And immediately upon planting begin training and raising up teams to plant other new churches out of the current plant. A modest goal of one new church a year would be a good start. 

This new church would then also plan to plant a sister church and thus in year two there would be two churches planting two new church… and so on year after year. Thus we shift our thinking and planning from an addition mentality to a multiplication mentality.

11> A shift from discouragement to encouragement. The church must become a place where everyone can find encouragement. A place where believers and non-believers can be built up and encouraged in the Lord. The early churches were oases of encouragement. 

      • Barnabas was called the son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36)
      • Barnabas encouraged believers in Antioch (Acts 11:23)
      • Two prophets in the early church, Judas and Silas “said so much to encourage and strengthen the brothers” (Acts 15:32)
      • After being released from prison in Philippi, Paul and Silas went to the home of Lydia, “where they met with the brothers and encouraged them” (Acts 16:40)
      • When Paul was about to enter into Macedonia, Luke writes: “Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-bye and set out for Macedonia. He travelled through the area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people (Acts 20:1-2)
      • On the way to Rome, Paul the prisoner met with believers, where we read, “At the sight of these men, Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15)

So, there needs to be a major focus shift where we stop dwelling on how hard something is or how difficult people can be and start seeing difficulties and problems as challenges that with God’s help we can meet. We need to focus on what will encourage people in good times and bad.

12> Shift from mundane to joyful. Life with Jesus should never be boring or mundane (ordinary, unexcited, uninteresting, dull, monotonous, tiresome). Neither should ministry. So, we need to see that we are joining with Jesus in His work and actually completing what He started.

In the Gospels Jesus began His work and ministry. In the book of Acts Jesus continues to do what He began now working through His servants (leaders and believers). Acts 1:1 states, “In my first book Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach…” Luke recorded in the Gospel of Luke what Jesus began to do. In Acts he continues to record what Jesus continued to do but this time through His Church. And, we join with Him in this continuing ministry.

The Book of Acts is the only New Testament book that never draws to a close and didn’t end… So, we are writing Acts, chapter 29 and this should always excite us and bring great joy. Working for and with the Lord should never be mundane. Planting churches and winning the lost should always be exciting and bring great joy – just as the angels in heaven rejoice each time even one lost sinner meets Jesus. 

Some of the many changes needed as we enter a new season in the Church and the Kingdom. 

A Season Of Change

September always seems to bring a fresh wind of the Spirit to the activities of the Church. After the slower summer months people once again enter into a regular flow of life which often includes a regular time in God’s Word, the Bible, and in prayer. As a result, when we meet together there is a renewed sense of God’s presence and a sensing of the Holy Spirit moving in a fresh way. It is like we take a bit of a summer break from the routine and when we come back at things rested and refreshed we are able, even anxious, to discover what God is currently up to and how we can become involved and active in the things of the Kingdom.

We are definitely living in a season when people have lost what little hope they were clinging on to. As we enter the end of year two of Covid and the continual reminder of how fragile life can be, people’s hope for a return to “normal” has faded and, in many cases, is totally absent from every day life. In spite of this – or maybe because of this – I am excited and challenged by all that is going on in the world and the opportunities that are there for us to “give the reason for the hope that we have” as Peter reminds us we must do. I sense hope rising in the heart of God’s people allowing us to face this new season with a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm. God is definitely up to something.

In my own personal life I am finding “new life” and a fresh understanding of the Scriptures as I read and meditate on God’s Word. Hardly a day goes by that I do not have a fresh revelation of truth as I read and journal in the early morning hours. My reading of other books and authors has also uncovered new life and the Holy Spirit is definitely directing me to the right book on my shelves at the right time. I buy books on a weekly basis and often have a large stack of books that are waiting to be read. God is definitely guiding me to the right book at the right time and I am excited about what God is showing me and teaching me through my daily time reading and studying.

As I have entered what prophetically has been declared to be the third and last stage of my life and ministry I am definitely seeing major changes in my values and thus my priorities. Things that once seemed to be important are no longer so. And, I am now valuing things that once seemed to have little value in my daily schedule and monthly goals. Things are changing on the inside – on the heart level – and thus values and priorities are certainly not what they use to be.

I am also protecting my time better so as to invest it whenever possible. It seems in hindsight that I have, in the past, often simply spent or worst still wasted my time. No longer. And I seem to have less patience for those who are simply “playing church” and are not wanting to grow, mature, and enter into the fullness of God’s plan for their life and contribute to the life of the local church. The number of relationships I am investing in has shrunk considerably and the number of young men I am discipling and mentoring has also decreased in size as we enter this new season.

A number of years ago I received several words over a 36 month period about writing a book and then writing books. I have never forgotten those words received through the ministry of several well known and respected prophets. And, I have accumulated research on a number of topics that I know the Lord wants me to write on – What it means to be really born again; The Grace of God; The Live-Giving Church; and biblical ways of hearing the voice of God – just to name a few. And, even in this area I now sense excitement and a fresh wind blowing as I feel a need to write and publish many of the things the Lord has shown to me over the last several seasons of ministry and my walk with Him over the past 40+ years. So, I would say there is a fresh wind blowing even in this area and I am making major changes to my daily routine and ministry to allow for more time invested in researching and writing.

It is a great time to be alive as a believer and disciple or follower of Jesus. And I am welcoming the fresh wind of the Spirit in my own life and the season of deep changes in my perspective and daily life as I continue to fulfill God’s current plan and purpose for my life.

I would love to hear what the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about you in this new season and the changes you are sensing are happening or are about to happen in your personal life and ministry. ralph@ralphhoweministries.com