"You can't tell people to trust God to provide economically for them if they live in extreme poverty!" is a recent sentiment I heard that really got me thinking. Does God's road-map for marriage, family, finances, and repentance only work in places where people already live in wealth? Can God really be trusted to provide?
There are four major ideas to consider here:
1. It is always right to apply God's commandments and life principles, no matter what the outcome. When a person builds his life on the rock Christ and His word, his life will last for eternity. Being a Christ-follower is like having wedding vows: "For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health..." No matter what the outcome, it is always best to live out God's will for your marriage, family, finances, and free time. God can and should be trusted and His word should be obeyed in every area of your life.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27
2. There are promises in the Bible. God promises to be there for you and you can trust Him. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28. In a spiritual sense and in view of eternity with Christ, every bad thing that God allows to happen to His children here on Earth will work out for good. Sometimes, it will be in a long, prosperous life of ministry, and, other times, it will be a difficult journey and an early entrance into Heaven. I've seen Christians living in poverty, with some dying early of preventable diseases. I've also seen Christians living in financial stability and with good healthcare. As Job said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21b.
What did Jesus say about trusting God for your food and housing? Jesus promised that you can trust God and went as far as to say for you to not even worry about it. Jesus modeled this during his three years of ministry. He depended entirely on the Father to provide for His food and housing, while doing His life God's way. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What does Jesus specifically say about daily provision? Will God provide for someone He calls from a rich family? Will God provide for Christ-follower who lives in poverty? Yes! Emphatically, yes! Will that provision occasionally be an exit to Heaven, I think so.
3. Along with promises, the Bible teaches principles for living. God's principles for living generally produce positive, physical results. Some truths in the Bible are principles and some are also promises. If you apply God's commands for living with and sacrificially loving your spouse, you will usually have a good marriage. Also, if you obey God's commands for being ethical and diligent in your job, you'll usually be successful in your career. Likewise, if you obey God's principles for living debt free, being a cheerful giver, and being a wise spender, you'll usually see financial blessing in your house. David said, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." Psalm 37:25
4. As humans, we view physical health and finances as the proof for God's blessings, which is a false idea. In God's economy, poverty is sometimes the daily experience of a Christ-follower. The Bible speaks of some heroes of the faith as people who were "were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground." Hebrews 11:37-38.
To sum up, YES, God can be trusted to provide for the Christ-follower who obeys the Bible. God promises to provide physically and spiritually. And, if a believer implements God's principles, he is likely to see physical success.
The Love of Jesus is the source of true love. In Him we see sacrificial love, loving by serving others, and ultimately loving in laying down His life for His friends. We see in Him ultimate power as our Creator and God, yet because of His great love for His people, He was willing to love us first, to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is the ultimate in love, to redeem those who could not redeem themselves.
In John 10, it speaks of Jesus as our Shepherd, calling us out by name, and His sheep following Him. It says He goes before us. Jesus didn’t stay in heaven while His sheep needed a Shepherd to lead them out to safety, to save them from their sin. He left the beauty of heaven, and came down to earth in obedience to His Father, and experienced this life as we do. He went before us. The picture of Him being our Shepherd is particularly poignant as a shepherd will stay with his sheep through the stormy weather, out in the pastures. That is exactly how Jesus loves us. In Hebrews 13:5, it says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
You may be experiencing a “stormy sea” as Jesus’ disciples were in John chapter 6, and yet this Saviour, Jesus, the Creator, has the power to calm the sea, because He spoke it into existence. His love is everlasting, complete, and whole. “Perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
By Gina Swanson
Kingdom culture is a taste of Heaven on Earth: God's truth put into daily practice. Kingdom culture is synonymous with wisdom, which is truth applied. But, kingdom culture takes wisdom to the next level because of the word "culture." Culture is beliefs so ingrained into daily life that the cultured person may not even be aware of why s/he feels and acts.
Jesus is hope against demonic bondage. Jesus defeated the power of Satan 2000 years ago. As Jesus enters communities and families, He brings individual people out from under the authority of Satan. He makes them citizens of His kingdom and members of His family. As soon as Jesus changes a person's allegiance, that person is free from the power of Satan. He/she will begin the process of living in freedom. This is an organic process called discipleship.
Satanic bondage manifests itself in broken families, addictions, uncontrolled emotions, abuse, domestic violence, and broken self-identities. Freedom in Christ is found by renouncing the evil we've been involved in and living out the identity that we have as citizens of Christ's kingdom.
Here in the Philippines, people openly consult witch doctors and essentially pay for demonic spirits to pour into them and their children. This creates a cycle of sickness, fear, and darkness. Our authority against this is Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can set individuals and families free from spiritual bondage. God uses our prayers, His gospel, and discipleship as an avenue for pouring out freedom for those in captivity.
As soldiers in Christ's light-force, we wage war against the demons and Satan. Our fight is not against people, but against Satan and evil angels. Jesus Christ hung on the peak of human evil 2000 years ago, and bought the right to take back humanity. About a month later, Jesus stood on a mountain and commanded His people to spread His kingdom across the entire planet.
If you look around you, you'll see the scattered remnants of humanity. Broken, twisted, hurt, sick, spiritually dead. As you walk among the dead, speak Life - speak Jesus. The job of the Holy Spirit is to raise dead people and rescue them into the Kingdom of Christ. He uses the words of Life that we speak. Jesus said, "The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
Pray for God to speak life through you, as you befriend the lost, lonely, lustful, and not-so-lovely. Start thinking of yourself as a soldier of Life! All Christians are commanded to be on mission! Armed with our weapons of love, justice, truth, prayer, church, and LIFE, we are formidable. Speaking in authority of Jesus Christ, we carry the power to bring freedom and break the chains of bondage. Look around you, will you take the risk? Will you spend your resources, time, and life to join in God's rescue mission?
If we are looking for a place to start, we can go where Jesus went... to the church people, to the prostitutes, to the outcasts, to the poor, to the corrupt officials, to the common people. What's holding us back?
Bring the words of salvation, bring radical healing, bring compassion. Don't limit the power of Christ to rescue people spiritually and physically from the bondage of Satan. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." The question that remains to be answered is: What greater things than Jesus did will you do?
"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Jesus Christ
Who are the least of the siblings in God's family? We meet them all of the time, but they are difficult to recognize. I believe that the least are those who are at a disadvantage to their fellow Christians due to an external or internal factor.
The least of these don't ask for much from you. But, to serve them, you have to be willing to do a few things:
1. Give up your schedule to spend time. A greatest-of-these sibling will carefully avoid imposing on your productivity. A least-of-these wouldn't think of intruding. Time is currency... especially in the economy of helping the least of these. Spend it cheerfully!
2. Step out of your comfort zone. The least of these may not want you to come into their personal lives because they are embarrassed or shy. When you extend the hand of friendship and stop in for a cup of coffee, you have to intentionally navigate the awkwardness.
3. Be misunderstood by others and be okay with that.
4. Equip yourself to walk with broken people into freedom and wholeness.
Look around you! You'll see several of your Christian siblings who qualify as "least of these." You'll find brokenness and trauma hiding beneath the surface. Or, you'll find child-like innocence. Make the personal and social sacrifices to bring kindness into the lives of God's children who need your attention, but will probably never ask you for it. When you serve and invest in the the least of these, you are doing it for your big brother, Jesus Christ.
Education is an important companion to evangelism and discipleship. Some may wonder why we invest so much into education.
It comes down to two Biblical beliefs:
1. The purpose of each student is to glorify God through his/her unique giftings and talents.
2. God has created each student with a specific career path in mind.
The Bible does not separate spiritual from the physical. A young person's spiritual purpose to glorify God and enjoy Him is lived out in the context of his physical activities. The purpose of ACTS is to equip and prepare each student for a life of glorifying God after high school graduation. For some, that will mean being equipped to glorify God in college and then as a successful engineer, doctor, teacher or other professional. For others, our responsibility is to prepare them for trades and jobs that may or may not require additional training.
We have the privilege of discipling students spiritually and training them mentally, physically and emotionally. With ACTS as a springboard, a generation of young people will grow up to be godly fathers, godly mothers, godly professionals, God-honoring tradesmen, Biblical business owners, and God-glorifying employees.
One of the critical pieces that Swanson Mission plays in this process is by bringing knowledge of what it takes to be successful in the global community. Combined with this knowledge is our ability to coach educators to equip students for work either at home or abroad.
About 80 students are enrolled at ACTS to engage in a high-quality education. Our purpose is to teach, train, disciple and prepare them to glorify God and enjoy Him within the context of the careers that He's created them for.
Thank you for being part of God's plan bring salvation and life-purpose to the village of Aninuan. Together, we are God's co-workers, privileged to launch a generation of young people into their purpose to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
About 6000 years ago, the kingdom of darkness descended onto planet Earth when humanity rebelled against our Creator in disobedience. Plunging humanity into a generational curse of being born under the cruel rule of Satan, which is felt and seeen daily. In the midst of this darkness, there was born a bright Light. That Light quenched the power of darkness and bought back His kingdom. About 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ stood on the pinnacle of this dark planet and gave the order to take it back. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. "
All things have been made by Jesus and for Jesus, the Bible says. Have you ever thought about how this applies to you personally? You were made by Jesus Christ, for Jesus Christ. Are you willing to submit all of your life to Jesus Christ because you were made for Him? When Jesus gives you spiritual life and forgives you all of your rebellious deeds and thoughts against Him, you become part of His kingdom of Light. You become a willing participant in giving all of your life to the authority of Jesus Christ. That's called sanctification. That's why reading the Bible and being discipled is so important for your training on how to be a citizen-soldier of the Kingdom of Light.
Jesus is taking back what is His. He's taking back individuals, entire families, government officials, police officers, teachers, mothers, attorneys, judges, lunch ladies, tryke drivers, long-haul drivers, and people from all walks of life, as well as from all languages and locations. He gained the victory over the king of darkness and is exercising His right to take anyone He wants to back from that kingdom. The Bible says that Jesus disarmed Satan and his forces and gained the victory over them by His death on the cross. Now, He is radically taking His kingdom back and His light is spreading from person to person.
That's what is so exciting about missions at home and across the dark planet. The Light is spreading like wildfire through businesses, churches, neighborhoods and cities, as the Holy Spirit transfers tens of millions into the kingdom of Light. Those people become filled with the power to live in victory over the darkness. They become filled with the Holy Spirit. "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world," the Bible says.
The Bible says that we aren't fighting against humans, but against the Satanic power structures that have taken families, neighborhoods, and entire countries captive. What are our weapons? Truth, prayer and worship. Fight bravely, live intentionally, use your weapons boldly toward the enemy and humbly in the service of your King.
I'll leave you with this. How much of your life have you given to Jesus Christ? From the tangled messes to your dreams and aspirations, give them all to Jesus. Don't hold back! And, while you're at it, be a Light bearer, join the Light Force and take back the planet for Jesus... one person, one family, one community at a time! It's messy and organic, but it's what you are made for.
We are each born with a God-shaped hole inside of us that we an only fill with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This ties very closely to our created purpose, which is to worship and reflect God in our daily lives, especially in our relationships.
It is easier to speak critically or not speak at all. Instead, speak life into those around you! Remember, speaking life is not fabricating false compliments. Speaking life is say heart-felt truths about the image of Christ that is growing inside.
In his book, The Power of a Parent's Blessing, Craig Hill gives detailed ways to speak life into your children. He also makes the point to say that a respected friend can stand in the place of a delinquent parent to speak life and blessing.
As your look at your daily conversation with your spouse, children, church-mates, do you hear yourself speaking death and negativity. Or, do you hear yourself speaking to the LIFE that Christ is growing inside of your closest friends and family?
Look for the germinating and growing fruits of godliness and maturity. Let the people around you know that you can see those and that you are proud of their growth. That you are thankful for the work that God is doing to change them into more accurate mirrors of Jesus Christ.
If you leave our house on a Sunday afternoon and hike for several hours with Pastor Arnold and his disciple, Ben, you'll find yourself high on Mt. Garo. You'll be sweaty and excited. You'll sit down in a shady spot, and Pastor Arnold will start singing with the families that gather with you. You'll realize the amazing connection between God's creation and God's word, as you study the Bible with your Mangyan brothers and sisters. After a while, you might get a little stiff sitting on the ground and you might have to use the restroom. There may be some little red, biting ants, but all of these are just a small inconvenience in comparison to the company that you're keeping! But, you might think to yourself, "Why doesn't someone put in a small bamboo hut and some toilets?"
That's such a great idea! You'll talk to Pastor Arnold. Pastor Arnold will talk with the community leaders and put together some sketches.
Before you know it, people will start digging the footings!
Pastor Arnolod is the man in the blue shirt, taking the picture.
This project will cost about $1000. To give to this project, you can mail a check or give online. Please specify that the contributions are for Tim Swanson and Mt. Garo.
We are God's coworkers. 1 Corinthians 3:9a
Being a missionary is a mindset, not a location. Each Christian has been given talents and gifts, which are designed by God to fit where He places that Christian. We are like puzzle pieces. It is not for us to decide the location, just to serve where we're placed by God.
Missions is a mindset. That way of thinking looks at all of life as an opportunity to be a living light, a walking mirror of Jesus. God has uniquely gifted and place each Christian in a specific life situation, in order to bring His people into their kingdom, the kingdom of Christ.
...Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Philippians 2:15
We look at each other and think, "I could never be that person." Or, "I would never be able to live there and do that!" We see other Christians as more qualified than ourselves or better suited for Christian service. We need to keep in mind that God doesn't use the qualified as much as He qualifies the ones He uses. The best thing that we can do is stop judging ourselves by the ministries and talents of others and focus on the ministry that God has given us. This usually starts by recognizing that we are here to be used by God to bring Christ to those who are living in the darkness that surrounds us. Are you willing to be used? Look around! Your mission is already initiated. You've been deployed... to your family, neighborhood and community!
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Jesus Christ, Creator of the Universe
The urgency remains the same 2000 years into the kingdom. This kingdom has circled the globe and transcends borders and boundaries. The command is still the same, "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field." There are no part-time Christians in Jesus' kingdom. Each is in his field. Each breathes the same needed prayer, "Lord, send more workers!"
The Conquering King! "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. " Colossians 2:15
The world is full of true testimonies of Christ's triumph of sin and darkness in individuals' lives. Christ sets each new citizen of the Kingdom of Light free from death, the Devil, and sin. Importantly, He brings freedom from serving ourselves. Mission-minded people bring Christ's freedom to those who live in spiritual darkness, regardless of the location. This is because, every Christian is a missionary, a good fit for the place where he/she is divinely placed. Mission is a mindset, not a location!
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.