Go Figure…

As we were going through a very long security line to board the flight got to talking with the young fellow in line in front of me. Great chat as over a half hour spent crawling forward in line a few inches at a time.

Finally we got up to the front of the security line. He takes his laptop out of the bag as per directions on the sign. Throws his water bottle into the garbage can as directed by the signs. He then takes some electronic stuff out of the backpack and places them in the tray provided. Then they ask him to remove his jewelry especially his watch and neck chain; then his shoes; then his belt holding up his pants. Then his sweater – I am not joking. It was one thing after another. And he turned to me with a look on his face like he was asking for help. Not sure what I could have done. But, obviously, he was concerned bordering on naked.

I’m thinking “if this keeps up he won’t be wearing much of anything very shortly here”. Second thought “wonder if they think he is a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his waist and so a threat to security.” Third thought and even closer to home “what if they ask me to take my belt off.” Could be trouble as I have lost some weight and the old pants might not stay up like they use to. Didn’t happen. Guess I look innocent and trustworthy. Probably just look too old to bother considering me a threat.

Well, both the young man and I were relieved when they stopped having him remove items and let him go through the metal detector. He still set the system off. Go figure!

A Surprize

I’m in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for three days. A city of 215,000 people situated on a georgeous river that winds through the city. Dated and married my wife here some 34 years ago. Travel here often as I work with a number of churches in this great city. A three day trip to sort out issues and growing pains for a Network of churches I founded and now act as an apostolic overseer for.

After a good day of learning and growing together – I went for supper with a great couple – an apostolic-prophetic couple. Terrific 3.5 hour meal. Wonderful sharing, good discussions. Then one of them dropped me back off at my hotel. Time 9:30 p.m.

Walking in with my Diet Coke looking forward to a quiet time, some blogging, and then bed. A lady I pass greets me by name. I am clueless (which is not unusual). So, I don’t try to fake it – I simply tell her she has me at a disadvantage and she introduces herself. Well, of course. Why would I not remember her – it has only been 31 years since she was a teenager and one of my travelling organists as I did three to five services a Sunday in a multi-point parish.

What a great time we had. Her husband was out walking their dog and when he came back in to the lobby he joined us. First time I had met him. First-things first … Jesus! When she was my organist she was not a believer. Never mind, I was the ordained priest and I too was not a believer. Since then – by God’s grace – we both met Jesus Christ and have walked closely with him since. Excitement can be felt throughout the lobby and others are listening to our conversation. It was a terrific celebration.

Things have changed since I last talked with her. She is now a vice-principal in a grade school in a town where I use to preach. She is here in the city for a training conference related to her work. But, more importantl;y, they are planting a church in the town where they now live (Kerrobert, Saskatchewan). It’s a house church so far but even in the next three weeks they have a wedding to perform of a couple who got saved, repented of their live-in situation and want to be married. Also two people who have recently accepted the Lord and want to be baptized as the Bible commands.

Folks, this is EXCITING. God is so neat.

Well, so much for the blogging and reading last night. I got to my hotel room just slightly after 11 p.m. But, a great interruption in a loosely planned schedule.

Africa and…

There are a number of invitations for this ministry to go to Africa to minister. Two of the most recent being from Uganda and, this morning, Kenya.

I appreciate the need that exists in these nations – and elsewhere – for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached and people healed and saved. However, it appears that many of these ministries who have invited us are wanting us to come totally at our own cost. Our team pays the air fare, the resources needed while there (material for leaders’ schools, etc.), as well as our living costs while there ministering.

Now, I’m sure that they think we are rich. And, yes, in many ways we are wealthy here in North America. We live in sheer luxury compared to many other people in other nations – our life-style is in the top 3 to 5% of the world’s population. But that does not make all of us wealthy nor does it mean we have huge amounts of disposable cash floating around just waiting for a place to invest it.

Some ministries may be able to afford to take teams to these nations at their own expense – but some of us simply cannot. It makes us feel badly and we wish we could be of more help but…

I believe that for a ministry to be received and valued it should cost the host pastor or Church (and thus nation) something. They may not be able to pay the whole shot but they should be investing in the Kingdom and their own nation – not leaving all the costs to be covered by others from wealthier nations. Then they are sowing into the Kingdom and they are investing in their own nation. And, God will honour that!

The first trip I took to Ukraine over a decade ago – the youth in attendance at a camp where I spoke took up an offering and gave to me 76 Griven (3 Griven were worth $1.00 at that time). This was a very powerful time in the service. They had sacrificed and given from their own need to bless the speaker who had come to bless them. The Church in Ukraine is doing great things for the Lord and impacting their nation for the Kingdom. I believe this is the direct result of hearts that were and are ready to sacrifice and donate so that souls in their nations may come to know Jesus Christ. I believe this should be the norm for believers worldwide.

That offering was a highlight of the trip for me. It was an indication that the young church in Ukraine was alive and well and would do well because they knew how to give. They have since gone on to a place where they now support my ministry with a monthly sum – substantial sum in their situation. This is a Church that the Lord can bless – and He is.

I am not saying that every offer to come and minister from Africa and third-world nations are expecting us to come at no cost to them. But some are.

I am not suggesting that we are not able to pay our way to minister in these nations when invited – although limited in the amount of funds available for this type of mission.

I am not suggesting that they are not investing in their own nations within the scope of finances that they have and that the Lord has blessed them with.

Biut it is time, I believe, that ministries in other nations stop assuming that every ministry here in North America is wealthy and thus able to respond and supply all costs for any particular ministry trip. It’s just not the case.

And, please remember, that some wealthier nations – like my nation of Canada – are also in need of being reached and thus we are investing funds here locally and nationally to reach the lost. Some third-world countries percentage-wise have more Christians than the one in which I live.

Ukraine Trip

Our planned two week ministry trip to Ukraine is coming together slowly. It appears we will now be there in October of this year. We will be working with two different churches teaching leaders and believers about God’s supernatural gifts and how they function today in the life of believers. As well, we hope to be doing some evangelistic work as many, in every nation, have not heard of the salvation offered through Jesus Christ.

This will be my fourth trip to Ukraine to minister. Each time I am there I am amazed at the speed in which they are recovering from Communism and how quickly the Church is growing and coming into its own. The message of Jesus Christ is spreading quickly and effectively in Ukraine. Buildings are being built or bought and renovated and new congregations being planted. One church I work with is even raching out with several teams going on mission trips into Africa. They are being obedient to the Word and are reaching out to their own nation and other nations with the good news that Jesus saves.

It is an honour to be a part of what this dynamic young church is doing and we are looking forward to being there with them in October, 2008. Check back often for further details of this upcomng ministry trip.

Today I went on a short-term mission trip

Today I travelled and went on a short-term mission trip. I had a great time ministering to those I met. Several stand out in my mind. A man in his early thirties – tough guy, or at least he thinks so. He was emptying his truck which he had just used to haul some wood. Heavy load each time he went past me on his way to his workshop. Too busy to stop fully. So, I talked as he walked. 6 gage ear rings, large tattoos on his arms and shoulders, a man’s-man. Good opportunity.

Almost immediately I found myself with another opportunity to share. An older man this time. He was busy building a shed. He stopped to talk and came to the edge of his yard. We started talking about the weather – big topic in the area. It’s to rain and maybe snow tomorrow. Another opportunity that went further into sharing the gospel than the first one did. I promised to return tomorrow morning early for a chat.

Further down a path I came across a man out walking. He didn’t want to stop and talk. He was pleasant but definite about his lack of desire to talk to me. But, within 10 minutes as I continued to walk a man about the same age was more than willing to stop and carry on a great conversation. Very open and very receptive.

No openings from there onwards. I did embarrass myself, however. I was mumbling to myself about how I failed to engage that third fellow properly – complaining to the Lord about myself. Analysing out loud what I had done right and what I might have done wrong. As I did so – another man very quietly walked up behind me and said hello. I totally flubbed that one – as I tried to recover from the surprise as I had not heard him coming and from what he might have thought of me talking to myself in the middle of nowhere.

Well, not really nowhere. It was a bike path in the city I live in and I was walking my dog. Yet, it truly was a short-term mission trip as I intentionally go out to engage people about the claims of Jesus Christ as I walk my dog. Often ask them what they think happens to a person after they die. Or, do they have a Christian background. Both those questions often open the door in the conversation to share Jesus’ claims to be the Saviour of the world and the Resurrected Lord. If all else fails – I hand them a tract with the gospel message clearly stated. I do all of this intentionally. Because, I have found, if I am not intentional about witnessing in my daily life it simply never happens.

Tomorrow morning I head out again on another short-term mission trip. They are exciting journeys into the unknown. And, I enjoy ever trip out and back.

Don’t Shoot

An earlier entry in response to one of my blogs mentioned a specific denominational name. I removed it – edited it right out – which is my perrogative as it is my blog. I wrote the man who had responded to my blog and explained why. he was fine with it and thanked me for correcting him.

The night before I had been talking with a Christian from a Network or group of churches that is not favourable theologically to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. More to the point – it is just not in their paradim as believers. From their historical perspective they cannot see what it is that I am involved in. I don’t think they are negative towards us. In fact, in the past couple of years I have had a number of great and open conversations with several leaders from this group of churches.

Now – up front let me tell you – I am born again, Baptized in the Holy Spirit, a tongue talker who flows in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and holds a role or ministry function within the five-fold ministry of the Church as outlined in Ephesians 4:11.

But, we need to work with our fellow believers seeking common ground. Then we can then work together to see the Church fulfill its mandate and the world saved. Our common ground is our recognition that Jesus is the Saviour and came to pay the penalty for our sins (death) and as a result we can now receive forgiveness and cleansing from our sin and rebellion against God. This is the message of the Bible. The basics of our faith. You don’t need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to go to Heaven; just in relationship with Jesus, born again. Let’s major on the majors and not on the minors.

If our fellow believers are open to hearing what we believe about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the power to witness, and the gifts and callings – fine! Great, in fact. My new friends are open to hearing. We shared, laughed together, ate a wonderful meal, talked about Jesus the whole time, discussed scriptures about the baptism with me encouraging them to be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) and check out what I was telling them to the Bible. The Bible, afterall, is our only authority.

It’s God’s Church and His Word. Don’t be pushy. Let people sort through their thoughts and check things out for themselves. God will lead them – He promised to do that for all His children and not just for the Spirit-filled ones. Relax and let God do what He does best. We are not dealing with issues of Heaven and Hell here. We have settled that already by repenting with godly sorrow and being saved.

I would say that many of the things that divide us and cause us, as the posting to my blog did, to be critical of a specific group are really the things that are temporal and not eternal. Before you get mad – hear me out. We trip over tongues as a manifestation of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Well, it is one but only one. Acts 19:1-7 tells us that another equally important and prominent one should be prophecy. But again, they are only temporal. When Jesus returns or we die and go to Heaven it says that then tongues will cease as will prophecy. So, it is an important feature of the Spirit-filled life but not one worth slandering another group of believers about. They are temporary gifts not directly affecting our salvation.

I love some of the teachings of Dr. John MacArthur and yet he does not believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts as I do. And, he is good friends with Dr. Jack Hayford of the Four Square Churches who is a tongue-talking, Spirit-filled, Charismatic believer. Ah, this is the Kingdom as it should be.

Let’s stop being critical of other believers and groups of believers and invest that time and energy in getting to know one another, celebrating our common heritage and faith as born again believers. Let’s invest the same amount of emotion, time, and energy in letting the billions upon the planet we call Earth know about the Saviour they have yet to hear about and certainly do not know.

We need all the workers in the harvest field cooperating and working together in harmony and unity.

So, slow on the criticism and finger-pointing. For the world will know we are His disciples because we love one another.

The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling

As I travel and minister in various places I notice that once vibrant Christians have lost their zeal and their passion for the Lord and often for the Church. I have been in my present city and the Network I belong to for 30+ years and so I have know some of these people a very long time and so I can compare what they use to be like to what they are like right now.

Oh, some of it may simply be that they matured. So, they don’t come across as radical and disturbing. Some of it may be they have mellowed with age and are not as expressive or excessive as they use to be once upon a time.

However, my observation would be that although these two things may account for some of the cooling – the reason for the loss of passion must be found by looking elsewhere.

It is going on 1:00 a.m. and I have just returned from a road trip. Had a lengthy conversation with a once dynamic and vibrant believer. No longer would you find him is such a state of spiritual health. What happened, I wondered, as I was driving for several hours to arrive home and spend some time in my study?

I don’t think it is anything sudden for most believers. It is not a “the sky is falling” event. It is a subtle neglect of the basics that form a healthy spiritual life and a slow erosion of the passion and life that once was. If your relationship with the Lord is like a channel or a river flowing from Him to you – this river or canal simply slowly fills with silt until all life-flow is stopped. It is clogged with things, events, activities, thoughts, opinions, philosophies, friends, family, entertainment, the media … and these things, not always bad in themselves, begin to slowly fill in the channel or the river. These things, thoughts, and events take believers away from the basics of Bible reading, Bibloe study, meditation, prayer and fasting, and witnessing. These important features of a healthy spiritual life get neglected. And slowly the other more worldly things subtlety fill in the time and take over the passion once reserved for the Lord. It’s called neglect – very subtle with no one yelling to warn you it is happening.

Reminds me of a piece of history I read just the other day, and I quote:

Downfall of the Great

Ancient Ephesus survived many cataclysmic events in ancient times, including regime change and local uprisings. It was rebuilt after devastating earthquakes. But one thing it could not survive was neglect.

You see, the one thing that finally did Ephesus in was not the Romans or any other superior power. What finally spelled its doom was the fact that its harbour – and important seaport – was allowed to fill with silt because the citizens simply couldn’t be bothered to keep it dredged. The once proud and important city with its incredible baths, beautiful library and phenomenal temple is now a deserted archaeological site nearly 10 kilomentres from the sea. The beautiful marble glistens in the sun as numerous tourists come to climb on its ruins.

As I left Ephesus I was struck with a profound sense of sadness as I realized that even if you are a beautiful, wealthy and important city like Ephesus (with a thriving church besides), all that’s required for you to meet a similar fate is for you to do nothing.

[Stanley E. Porter – President of McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. From an article in Christian Week – April 11, 2008 edition, page 5 – www.christianweek.org

Neglect – simply neglect – can cause a once dynamic believer to loss his or her passion and simply find themselves going through the motions without any signifigant meaning.

Christian beware – it takes intentional effort and focus to remain alive and vibrant as a Christian and as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This lesson was really driven home just a few hours ago as I chatted with a believer after a great night of teaching on evangelism.

Oprah and Dr. Phil…

The visible Church in North America is in serious and deep trouble. I was in two different churches in my area yesterday – teaching and ministering – and it is sad to say but those occupying the pews apparently have a very limited and deficient understanding of the Christian faith. They have said a Sinner’s Prayer sometime in the past and then never grew much past this feeling of being safe from Hell.

I mean, I preached very basic Christian doctrine in an interesting and engaging way with Powerpoint presentations and personal stories. But both teachings (different for each church) were really basic doctrines of the Christian faith. And, the reactions were amazing. From disbelief to astonishment. For some who are hungry for truth there was a personal “Aha experience”. Generally the reaction was one of total unbelief bordering on horror.

In the morning I preached on how Jesus is building the Church and the pattern or blueprint that He is working from. Basic material from the writings of the Master Builder Paul and from the book of Acts. They had never heard that there was a specific way that Jesus was building His Church – so that the task or mandate of the Church could be fulfilled. Personal needs being met seem to take presidence over the task of evangelizing the world

In the evening at a different Church I preached on what Jesus meant when saying to a potential discipleship candidate “he who puts his hand to the plough and then looks back is unfit for service in the Kingdom”. Here I explained some of the Lord’s expectations of those who confess His Name and claim to be His disciples and thus are following Him. You would have thought that I had just declared myself the anti-Christ.

Jude, the half-brother of the Lord, was right when he wrote the early believers and stated that it was time to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.”

It is time that the Church in North America rediscovered the basic doctrines of the faith. That means it is time for the pastors and teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles to, once again, declare with a clear voice the truth and to speak up loudly against the heresies and self-improvement ‘gospels’ being preached today from so-called born again (and often Spirit-filled) pulpits in both nations -Canada and the United States of America. And to counteract the powerful proclaiming of a non-gospel by such well-known television personalities as Oprah and Dr. Phil – whom even Christians listen to thinking what they are saying is Christian and thus okay.

Willie Nelson and Me…

My theme song may as well be “On the Road Again” as I seem to spend more time on the road these days than I do at home. That’s okay because after 32 years as a full-time pastor. these past three years as a trans-local apostle have been an adventure. It was time. I had heard prophetic words for over 25 years about my call to be an apostle. My 6 children are all grown up and living in the same city but away from home. My wife is very involved in pastoring our local church and many others areas of interest that she has. So, time to try my wings and see if I can fly yet. It has been different, I must admit. I have learned a lot and matured a great deal.

Tomorrow I will be preaching and prophesying at a local church in the City of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in the morning. Breakthrough Family Church (part of Breakthrough Ministries) is a soul-winning, Spirit-filled church plant pastored by Bob and Ellen Paun. Great couple who love Jesus and are on fire – equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.

In the afternoon I meet with some young people in the town on Oxbow, Saskatchewan (2.5 hours from Regina) to chat with them about their prophetic words received recently. This is to help them see what they are to do to cooperate with the words to see them come to pass. Then I preach and minister at Shekinah Christian Fellowship, Oxbow. A regional Church with a call on it to bring revival to the Souris River valley, especially with the youth. I supply apostolic oversight to this local church as well as teaching there regularly every month. Then 250 KM drive back home. Full day.

Prayers appreciated.

Ministry Trips

This blog will contains details of experiences I am having in real time on specific ministry trips. Some trips are one day outings others will be into foreign nations and be up to two weeks long. This log will allow you to read about what the Lord is doing as well as any current prayer requests my team or I may have. Upcoming ministry trips will be posted a few days ahead and then, once the trip starts, daily entries will be made. Your comments are always welcome – but, be aware that all comments need to be approved before they are so that we can assure that this blog glorifies the Lord whom we serve.