The Kingdom Differences

In the Kingdom of God there are many things happening all at the same time. Some things are generic to all nations. Other events and happenings are specifically targeted for a region or individual nation. God knows what each area needs and fine tunes the Kingdom events and Spirit movements to suit each region and move them forward in His purposes and plan. It is amazing to watch and see. More amazing to be involved in many of the different nations and actually be aware of and have a part to play in the differences. 

For example, when I first went to the nation of Kazakhstan the main topics were the church that Jesus was building and the gifts of the Spirit. The main ministry other than teaching was prophesying. Now, when I go to Kazakhstan the topics are leadership, the Kingdom, and the Church – especially house churches. The three main groups I work with have moved forward, matured, grown, and are hungry for the next step as they move into the Kingdom realm and its expansion through soul winning and church planting.

In March of 2020 I will be in Vietnam. This will be my first visit to that nation and so I have begun to read up on some of its history and especially the role of the Church in the nation – both currently and historically. I am told by those planning the trip that I will be holding a school on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and especially the prophetic. And, that this is the first time ever that this will have been taught to the specific group that is inviting me. So, pioneer work of an apostle. And, in a different place and space than those I work with in Kazakhstan. The Kingdom is amazing that way.

Here is North America …we are seeing the slow death of the traditional Church as younger people no longer find these churches meaningful. But, we are seeing the growth of new churches that are being planted and that target the younger generations. And, we see many traditional born again believers forming or joining house churches where the format of the assembly is flexible and fellowship and prayer are the major focuses. And the mega churches that often have seen major growth through younger people and families transferring in have seen their growth slowing down as smaller church plants become attractive and more suited to the lifestyle of young people and their desire for family type fellowship and relationships.

It is no longer business as usual. Things are changing quickly in the Kingdom. Change is targeted and specific. Different in each place. But the one common feature of all the changes is the return to the primary focus of the Church – seeking and saving the lost. This is what Jesus came to do (Luke 19:10) and what He commanded His Church to do as we “go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). When this becomes the focus of all true believers then we will see the pace of change increase and the growth of the Church reach epic Bible proportions. 

I believe we are on the verge of something so amazing and awesome…

Grab Hold Of Your Life! – Part Four

We have mentioned “margin” in this short series of blogs. We can only truly give from margin. Financially,. Emotionally. Vocationally.

Purposely living below our means and not buying everything the world says we need – and maybe saying no to an extra cqar, or a bigger house – leaves margin in our finances. It leaves space. We are spending less than what we have, so we have margin. And when we have margin, we have freedom. Freedom to give, freedom to invest, and freedom from stress.

Same goes with our time.

Don’t spend all the time you have. So you can be free and use it to serve.

When we read through the Gospels, some of the craziest stories about Jesus happened because He lived with margin. Because He had margin He let Himself be interrupted. He wasn’t in a hurry. What He was on His way to do could wait. He was open to the Spirit’s leading.

Most of us today schedule the Holy Spirit right out of our calendar, so we don’t have space to be ready to serve in the ordinary, mundane, unnoticed ways.

So many love to be busy. Volunteering at a scheduled service project. Taking a mission trip (and never seeing the people again after we leave). Leading a small group (but never seeing any of them the rest of the week).

I believe passionately that my street and neighbourhood matters. That we are called to live in those places and in those stories. And furthermore, within those ordinary places, we are called to live in ordinary moments as we go through our days, and to specifically and purposely create space (margin) so we have time for them. And for the people we live with. And next to. And see over and over again.

I wonderful, as do other leaders I relate to, if our busyness with ‘big things’ or ‘big dreams’ or the Great Commission (Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20 to go into all the nations and “make disciples”) is actually our excuse to not have to know the people who live next door?

When we hear the words Great Commission, we immediately think of going out from the call of Jesus to do superhero-type work in a big, loud way. I mean, Jesus Himself said “go and make disciples of all nations,” right?  

But have we somehow forgotten that the person across the hall, and the mailman, and the neighbour, and the barista qualify as people and live in a nation? So why do we have to go do some crazy big thing for God, when the command He gave us can be fulfilled by just being faithful and loving well over and over again?

We probably buy into this lie because we don’t remind ourselves that the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, are a highlight reel. It’s the memorable stories of the early church, compiled to pass on the teachings of Jesus and tell the story of the first-century movement. But it covers just under a hundred years, and it’s a pretty tiny book!

Christianity did not become a movement that turned the world upside down because a guy named Paul was crazy, brave, adventurous, and bold and travelled the world to tell others about Jesus. That contributed, sure. But the world got turned upside down because there were thousands of people who loved Jesus – people we will never hear about or whose names we will never know – and they ate dinners with the people around them.

They said hi to their neighbours.

They lived as witnesses in their daily routines.

Ministry is not just heading out to preach and teach in a church somewhere. Ministry is not just being ordained and having a position and title. Ministry is not this huge, public, notice me event that we plan and execute with precision. Ministry is simply living daily life aware of God’s presence, walking in His peace, releasing His power as we are led in the details of that daily life by the Holy Spirit. We need to choose to have a relatively “boring” life full of incredible richness and meaning. Not one overloaded with activities and events lived on the edge of exhaustion and collapse.

But, to have real life and thus real ministry to the people we come into contact daily we must first have margin. 

Seneca (an ancient philosopher) wrote that one of the more complex and truly confusing things about our human experience is how we treat time. And how we weirdly treat it so much differently than other assets or things under our rule. He said,

“No person would give up even an inch of their estate, and the slightest dispute with a neighbour can mean hell to pay; yet we easily let others encroach on our lives – worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passers-by, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers. You can only hand so many hours of your day over to other people before there is nothing left.”

Even if there is something left, you may have lost the clarity, the energy, and the capacity to do anything with it. 

Drink – Don’t Drive

A quote from an unknown source: “The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.” One of the greatest lessons that I’m learning from God is that rest is not a sin. Taking a break doesn’t mean you are lazy or that you are not valuable. Catching your breath now and then does not mean you are not carrying your load, or that you are less committed to your church, your company, or your calling.

I have learned that scheduling rest in BEFORE my calendar fills up is really the way to go. rest is jot an afterthought; it has to be a primary responsibility. It brings a rhythm back to life and a cadence that makes like sustainable. If you are tired, your soul gets weary. And if your soul gets weary, you are depleted more than you can afford. If you were a long distance runner there is a rule that is followed; every fifteen minutes you drink six ounces of water. Even if you are not thirsty you are not allowed to violate your hydration limits. Here’s the point – If you wait until you are thirsty to take a drink, it’s too late. Your body is already into dehydration. The same is true spiritually for your soul and your spirit.

This is why God gave us the gift of rest (the Sabbath). And, today it seems that we have a hard time accepting His extravagant gift. We somehow imagine that the world (or our family, our marriage, our company) won’t be able to go on without our involvement. There is simply too much to do and no time to rest. Yet God says: “You shall do no work at all… it is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls.” (Leviticus 23:31-32) Did you hear what it said? In this version of the commandment it tells us the reason for a time of rest – a sabbath. It is to “humble your soul.”

What does that mean? God is saying that if we wait until the work is done before we rest, we will never rest. The work will never be done! So even in the midst of the work, we have to cease and rest. Wow! You mean, we are not indispensable? This may be a really rude awakening. but the fact is the world will go on even if we are not involved for a day. Don’t think about this one too long, but the world will also go on even after we depart this life. I know it is difficult to contemplate, but it is true. When we rest at predesignated intervals, we are reminding ourselves that ultimately God controls the outcomes, not me or all of my wonderful efforts. It is good for us to wean ourselves off the need to be needed. For many, this would be the beginning of health.

In fact, if we violate the Sabbath rest, something morphs in our soul. We start to get proud, edgy, anxious. The psalmist tells us, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” (Psalm 127:2) God says, “Let Me humble your soul with rest. It is not all about you. I can get the work done even without you.” When we rest, God continues His work. When we reenter, it is with a humbled soul, hungry again for what He has called us to do. We return once again as a servant knowing that our Master can and did manage with us but that He is again offering us an opportunity to become involve din His work.

The lesson – drink in on regular intervals and stop driving yourself – take time to rest. In short form: Drink … Don’t Drive!

The Evening and the Morning – The Second Day

I am always amazed at God’s Word, our Bible. Every time I read it I learn something new. Not “learn” as in more information in my head; “learn” as in a heart revelation and thus transformation because of the new insights. An example: I am flying to Bishkek, Krygyzstan recently and I am reading and The Lord asked me, “When does your day begin?” When do you start your day?” Now, when The Lord asks me a question I know He is not looking for information – afterall, He is God and knows everything. He is asking so that I will learn (in my heart) a new truth and thus be transformed. My answer was, “Whenever I wake up!” Of course, at the time of asking I was mixing mornings and evenings up due to flying through 12 time zones on to the other side of Planet Earth. So, in reality I was not sleep and the morning and evenings were all mixed up. But, I digress.

God then showed me that if I were to look at the creation story (book of Genesis) where He created the days, we find these words: “So the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:5 NKJV). This pattern is repeated as God continues to create each successive day. “So the evening and the morning were the second day.” (Genesis 1:8 NKJV). In other words, God started each day in the evening, not the morning. Your day does not begin when you get up. It starts when you go to sleep. Rest begins your new day, not coffee.

I have been doing it wrong. I thought my day began with the morning’s coffee and the start of activities; but instead, it actually began with the evening’s rest. I was now in need of reprogramming my mind to that biblical reality. You see, the success of any short race is determined at the start, and now that my days obviously start in the evening – I needed to start better. There are two ways to win a race. One is to be faster than everyone else , and the other is to start sooner! In a normal race, that’s called cheating. But in life, it’s called wisdom. For an Olympain, it is called illegal. For a Christian, it is called biblical.

If you ever need to sleep in, learn to sleep in on the front side of the clock, not the back side. Simply put, your deepest sleep is when your REM cycles happen, and that typically takes place between 11:00p and 3:00a. That is when you will get your deepest sleep. If you miss getting to bed before 1:00a, you will have missed half your chance at receiving your deepest rest. You may think you can sleep in until 9:00a to get your eight hours of sleep. But you are mistaken! You will have had the sleep time, but not the rest. Your sleep will be shallow compared to what it could have been, and when you awaken just before noon, you will still feel sluggish and lethargic.

So, you can sleep in on the back side dumb, or sleep in on the front side smart. Go to bed at 9:00p and get up at 5:00a. Then you will have had eight hours of sleep – real sleep! Then you will have had a good night’s sleep – evening and morning – because you are cooperating with God’s design for the body.Learn to sleep on the front side of the clock. Sleep right and double your rest…

While in Montreal I am attempting to implement what I learned while flying to Bishkek.

Your Purpose On Planet Earth

Once in a while it is good to review why we are here on planet Earth and to think through all of the “stuff” we are involved in and see what is really contributing to why God put us here on the earth. I am assuming, of course, that you are born again and thus have a personal relationship with the Lord and that you have, sometime in the past, sat down with the Lord and written out your personal mission statement.

Let me be bold and share my personal mission statement: “To intimately know and touch the fullness of God as found only in Jesus Christ and to invite others to personally experience His life and love.”

So, I have been thinking lately about all the things I do, the we I live, what I do for my living, how I relate to people, and the hopes and dreams I now have at my age and running them all through the filter of the mission I have in life. The mission statement is the given as I believe the Lord revealed it to me and called me to live with this purpose in mind. So, that means I am the flexible – my values, my priorities, my preferences, my hopes and dreams – are all flexible and must consistently be adjusted to come into line with what the Lord revealed as His purpose or mission for my life.

Well, there are some changes to be made. I have drifted somewhat from center… So, as I approach another year-end I will need to make some adjustments so that I enter 2013 in the center of God’s will for my life once again. Making them now in early December allows me time to reschedule things in early 2013 that are already set and bring all my planning back into line with the Lord’s purpose and plan for my life.

The philosopher Plato once stated that: “An unexamined life is not worth living” and I agree. But, your life needs to be examined in light of eternity, the Lordship of Jesus over your life, and the plan and purpose of God for your life. Why not take some time in the coming few weeks in the midst of the Christmas hussle and bussle to examine what you are doing and why. Remember, His gift to you is time – and there are only three things you can do with time – waste it, spend it, or invest it. The Lord would want you to invest it in His Kingdom purposes.

The Mission of Ralph Howe Ministries

Yesterday I mentioned your personal mission statement and what it is the Lord has called you to do and to accomplish with your time on the planet. Today. I would like to share the mission statement for Ralph Howe Ministries – the sponsor of these blogs…

“Introducing the ministry of apostles and prophets to the 21st Century Church;
Laying biblical foundations to bring healing and wholeness to that Church;
Equipping and releasing a generation of passionate leaders (who will be);
Ministering in supernatural power to win the lost and plant new expressions of the Church that Jesus is building.”

I look regularly at the call upon this ministry that the Lord has given to me and review what I am doing and planning to do in light of what it is He has asked us to do here at Ralph Howe Ministries. Often there is a need to make small adjustments to bring us into line with His design and purposes. But, generally we are close to the center of His will most of the time.

As we plan 2013 it is fast becoming rather full with numerous overseas apostolic trips as well as well an increase in ministry in North America. It is also very evident that there is a great need and demand for written material to be published and circulated to enable and equip churches to make the changes the Lord is asking of His people in all nations. The demand for materials continues to increase as do the range of topics I am asked to write on and supply material about.So, it has become abundantly obvious that more time will be spent in the study in 013 and less in the office and doing other things that ministry often requires.

So, as we go through the hectic December Christmas season there is some soul searching to do, timetables to adjust, priorities to evaluate and reposition, and much prayer needed so that we are ready to jump into 2013 and continue to fulfill the mission of Ralph Howe Ministries in the nations of the world and here at home.

The Clock Is My Dictator

Have you ever felt pressed for time? I have! Often… In fact, almost always. Yet, we are not meant to live with the pressure and the stress that lack of time brings into our lives… And the clock is not suppose to be the thing that drives us each day to accomplish what needs to be be done. I ran across the following while recently overseas (I read while flying) and thought it might give you food for thought. It is based on the 23rd Psalm…

The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest.
It makes me lie down only when exhausted.
It leads me into deep depression, it hounds my soul.
It leads me in circles of frenzy for activities’ sake.
Even though I run frantically from task to task,
I will never get it all done, for my ‘ideal’ is with me.
Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me.
They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule.
They anoint my head with migraines, my in-basket overflows.
Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever.

Taken from Christine and Tom Sine, Living On Purpose: Finding God’s Best For Your Life.

Now, this might be a good time to go back and read yesterday’s blog entitled “24/6”


We all live busy lives. The pace of life seems to be constantly increasing in spite of all the “time shaving” devices that have come along and all the wonderful electronic ways we now have of staying in touch with one another. As I look to the future I believe things will continue to move quickly and even speed up and most will find themselves living a “hectic” life if they don’t do so already.

In my own personal life I know that things have not slowed down in spite of reaching an age when many retire and slow down permanently – or, at least, switch gears and become busy with different things that when in the work world. I find myself pressed for time, always behind, and constantly facing one deadline after another. I suspect I am no different than many of you reading this blog.

Here is a decision that I have made. I have decided to no longer work 24/7… In fact, I have decided to no longer function full tilt 24/7. Like most people, if I get a day off (happens infrequently) it gets absorbed in ‘catching up’ with whatever is yelling the loudest. So, the day off is a day lost to the tyranny of the urgent and not a day of rest or a day in which I can think and assimilate everything that has been happening so that I have inner peace and a stable inner core. It is simply not a biblical “day of rest” or a Sabbath.

So, I have recognized that I live in sin because one of the Ten Commandments commands that we take a Sabbath. Even God worked 6 days straight at the time of creation and on the seventh day He rested. Who do I think I am that I can work harder and faster than my Creator. And, what makes me think that I can break a pattern that God has spoken about and said “It is good” and not suffer any consequences. So, I have repented, given a lot of thought to my life-style, and am making numerous changes – some of them major ones.

I have determined that I will no longer live 24/7 but that I am going back to God’s original plan and will work 24/6 and take the day of rest that He so wisely prescribed. No mobile phone, no text messages, no email, no Goggle, no appointments, no catching up on work that is piling up. Just a Sabbath where my body, soul and spirit can heal, re-connect with the Lord, and regain the strength and inner peace to once agin face the world and all of the challenges of life for the next six days.

Sometimes we move so quickly that we need a day set apart to rest and let our soul catch up with us. I have decided that the time has come to do just that.

A Team

The Church today is pastor-driven; the early church was team-driven and the leaders of the team were an apostle and prophet (see 1 Corinthains 12:28 and Ephesians 2:20). The early church was powerful and effective, winning the lost and becoming a change agent in its culture – turning its world upside down in just one generation. We have not and will not have that kind of impact unless we return to the biblical model. That will be a difficult thing to do but not impossible because “all things are possible with God.”

Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “It is better to have one person working with you than three people working for you.” That is the power of a team – together everyone accomplishes more (T.E.A.M.). But often in the church of today a real team leadership structure does not exist. Everyone is doing their ministry; everyone is following their vision; everyone is fulfilling (or trying to) their calling. Hopefully they are all going in the same direction and working for the overall good of the church. At its best it is often a group of individuals working together and not a real team. At its worse – it is a strong solo leader with team members doing their own thing.

To work as a team disciples must be open and transparent; honest and vulnerable. I don’t see that very often here in the church in my nation. Men here seem to fear that kind and depth of self-revelation. To have a good team functioning you need men willing to share intimacy with one another and work in spiritual partnership with others.There is no “I” in team. So, I believe we need to remove the independent spirit that often exists along with the solo leadership concept (senior pastor) and current teams where they exist and begin to build biblically.

Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping it together is progress. Working together is success.” I believe that to see biblical results as found in the life of the early church in the book of Acts we need to be building the way they did. This will, in many ways, mean a lot of changes and a need for leaders to be less insecure and more open to working with others. This starts at the heart level when we invite others to know us and we experience love, acceptance and forgiveness.

Recently overseas I was teaching on this and discussing this during the breaks and over meals. Each and every time I was assured that they were building this way – and yet, in each and every place the key leader was a “pastor” and there were no apostles and prophets. In each place there was literally a strong leader who was really the only leader although others were ministering and working for him – but really not with him.

And so, this “stronghold” will take time to dismantle but I believe it is God’s will that this man-made structure be torn down so Jesus can build His Church His way!

Parking Lot Seminary Lecture

I had the honor of teaching for a morning in an independant seminary in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan recently. It was a powerful morning speaking about the need for the Church of Jesus Christ to become supernatural and powerful once again. The students were receptive and open to hearing about what the Lord is doing in His Church today. They were hungry for God. A teachers delight.

I taught and answered questions for over three hours including right through the coffee break. Then, at the end of the morning the students literally followed me down the stairs and out onto the parking lot to continue the discussion and to ask more questions. The “lecture” actually continued for almost another hour just standing around the car that was to take me to my next appointment on the other side of the city. It was hard to leave as many questions remained unanaswered and they were asking for prophetic ministry and wanted to hear directly from God for their lives and future ministries. Such hunger and openness.

The professor whose class I was teaching is formerly from Iran where he was actually imprisoned for his faith. He is now a businessman and business consultant in Almaty, Kazakhstan and teaching on missions and the church in this seminary he helped to found a number of years ago. Sargon is a wonderful believer who is also hungry to learn and to grow. He attended our three day leaderrship school and spoke personally to me several times during those days. Then we had another time later in the week to sit together, drink tea, and talk – and he came with so many questions and comments. It was a great 90 minutes of sharing and growing together. He is so hungry and so open – so it was no surprise to find that his students were as well.

I am excited about the future of the Church in Kazakhstan. With young people such as the students in this seminary and others from the university and business world that I met with – the church in Kazakhstan is healthy and strong and moving forward in power and confidence. These young men and women will need continued training and equipping but their hunger to grow and their passion for Jesus ensures that they will seek out that training and equipping. They will move forward into the perfect will of God for their lives and ministries. They could certainly use our prayers.

The point: In looking around at the young people today that I meet and those that I work with in other nations I often see a lack of this heart hunger and passion for the Lord. So, we could also be praying for this generation in your nation – that the Lord would touch them with His mercy and grace and cause in them a hunger and thirst that can never be satisfied. And, while you are at it, pray for everyone in your local church that they too would regain their first love and their passion for the Lord.