When God called Moses to demand release of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity, Moses felt inadequate and unqualified. He asked, “Who am I to do such a thing?” 

Now, when I ask this question of God, I usually ask in false humility. What I really want is God to reassure me of my qualifications and giftedness. What I really want is God to pump up my self-esteem. “Please remind me how awesome I am so that I’ll be confident enough to do this,” I ask God. And I fully expect God to respond, “Ralph, you’re good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.” 

This not what God said to Moses. In fact, he really didn’t even answer the question “Who is Moses?” He answered the question “Who is God?” 

The answer, of course, He is God. 

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:11-12)

God says to Moses, ”Who am I?” 

In other words, “Never mind who you are. You’re right; you’re a nobody. But you are called. I will be with you. And the sign of your success will not be a gold watch and a plaque and a place in Super-duper Church Magazine’s 100 Most Awesomest Churches and Pastors with Mad Leadership Skills, but worship of me.” 

Moses’ “Oh” consisted of more questions. 

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” 

The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:10-12). 

You’ve likely heard the dictum “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” This is why God uses shepherds, fig farmers, youngest sons, prostitutes, widows, etc. 

This is why he uses sinners. Not so that they will realize their potential. Not so that they will finally see how inherently awesome they are. 

But so that God gets the glory and so that He gets the glory in the vivid, repeating imagery of turning ashes to beauty. 

God made man out of dirt. We — you and I — are dirt. 

We only need to read a little bit of Paul to see how little he, as an amazing apostle and church planter, cares about human credentials and qualifications. And Paul actually had them. 

The gospel is not the power to save because of our knowledge, our techniques, our systems, our innovations, our preaching style, our music style, our creativity, our conferences, our degrees, our viral marketing, our evaluations and efficiency, or our selves. None of those things is bad, but we make all of them idols so easily. They take so much effort, and yet we make them idols so effortlessly. 

“Who are we? We’re awesome!” But it is the gospel that is the power to save because of Jesus’ work. Because God is with the gospel and with us as we share it with those who have yet to encounter the real Jesus. 

So, in 2022 I have decided: “… to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”  (1 Corinthians 2:2).


“And you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Don’t you just love that? Does that not give you some food for thought as we begin 2022?  

”Show that you are a letter of Christ.” Like walking, breathing epistles — emissaries under Christ’s Lordship, ambassadors for Christ’s Kingdom — we testify with our very lives to the Good News of Jesus. This isn’t just a relaying of information; it is a subsisting on revelation. It’s carrying the Spirit-illumined Word of God in our blood, in our marrow. 

“They are not just idle words for you — they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 32:47). 

I am in constant need of repenting of using God’s Word and returning to being used by it. I know that this is true for you as well. Right? We simply try too often to live by bread alone. We need to learn to live by His Word and fresh manna (revelation) daily. 

In my heart of hearts I want to stop using Jesus, appropriating Scripture, and doing church.

Deep in my spirit, as we start 2022, I want to begin trusting Jesus, living Scripture, and being the Church. 

I want to be a letter of Christ. 


In the new year this is something to ponder …

It is usually something we tend to overlook or, if we even consider, fail to invest in: that is that Jesus, being God in the flesh, was the smartest man who ever lived. Does Jesus ever show up on anybody’s list of the greatest thinkers of history? Gurus, perhaps. Sages, maybe. The world may think him “wise” in some Confucian sense. We think of him as an idealist, as an enlightened man, as a revolutionary. But generally speaking, we also tend to regard him as naïve or simple. 

The world does not regard Jesus as savvy or practical, and if we within the Church will be honest with ourselves, we must admit that our frequent failures to obey his commands stem essentially from our practical disbelief that he could really be right about the way to think and act. But if we really believe Jesus was who he said he was, we know we have recorded in Scripture and at our reading convenience, the greatest human mind of all time. 

How vast is the wisdom of Christ? As vast as the resources of Almighty God. Revisit that exciting post-resurrection scene from the road to Emmaus in Luke’s Gospel and remind yourself how all-encompassing Jesus’ knowledge is (and how all-illuminating our knowledge of Jesus can be). 

Jesus comes on these guys unawares and basically reveals the Bible to them. He illuminates Scripture to them. He answers their questions in such a fulfilling way that they say their hearts burned while he explained it to them. 

Christians, Jesus’ knowledge imparted to us is not just head knowledge, but a godly wisdom of the sort that should be our constant resource and inspiration and guide through all of life. When Jesus gives us the Sermon on the Mount, he’s not just giving us a list of things to do, but an invitation to real life as Holy Spirit-enlightened persons. His commands are not just calls to right behaviour, but calls to embrace a quality of the heart that leads to a pattern of life that burns with real knowledge from God. We call this real knowledge “truth.” And in 2022 we will need all the “truth” we can get.

Jesus was absolutely brilliant, and yet we don’t refer to or access that brilliance with much regularity, do we? We tend to make our own decisions, utilize our own reason, and then ask God to okay it, confirm it, bless it. 

We are great at compartmentalizing our lives, which is merely an extension of our implicit belief that Jesus’ knowledge is for our “spiritual life” but that our “everyday life” requires a more modern knowledge, a more “realistic” knowledge. Street smarts, perhaps. After all, it is 2022.

Dallas Willard writes: 

The world has succeeded in opposing intelligence to goodness . . . And today any attempt to combine spirituality or moral purity with great intelligence causes widespread pangs of “cognitive dissonance.” Mother Theresa, no more than Jesus, is thought of as smart — nice, of course, but not really smart. “Smart” means good at managing how life “really” is. 

Most of us have to get into the habit of thinking of Jesus as competent in all areas of our life, but we can’t settle at Jesus’ mere competence. We must embrace Jesus’ all-surpassing brilliance. That is where Jesus’ intelligence really shines through for us – he’s not just a storehouse of facts or data; he is the wellspring of all truth. Jesus the Man didn’t just teach and live the truth, he was, as he said himself, the Truth itself. 

We have to get past an anxiety-prone existence in this day of Covid and in which we acknowledge Jesus’ moral perfection and good teaching and miraculous power, but perversely, not to the extent that we think Him “in touch” with what we are really going through. 

In one of the great ironies of our modern evangelical subculture, we are very big on “making” the Christian faith practical and “relevant,” yet by and large we go on living our lives as if Jesus had nothing relevant to bear upon what we do and say, who we date or marry, what sort of jobs we take, what sort of families we raise, where we spend our time and who we spend it with. 

We’re cool with Jesus being good and nice, but we’re hesitant to live as if he is omniscient as well. 

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.