Fun is rolling down grassy hills with your siblings! One of the joys of being a missionary is seeing kids smile. Whether it's in a mountain village or near the seashore, it never gets old seeing smiles and hope.
Christ brings smiles and joy into the lives of so many! Here is a picture of students who came by our house to sing at Christmas time!
These precious children are enjoying a sweet read aloud about Jesus and His love by Gina on a balmy Sunday afternoon. It's such a privilege to bring the love and hope of Jesus into the lives of youth and families!
It's a privilege to spend time building friendships and enjoying game time together! That's something to smile about! Thank you for being with us on this journey of bringing the hope and joy of Jesus to Mindoro!
2000 years ago, the Kingdom of God burst onto the planet! Planet Earth had travailed in darkness and moral chaos for 4 millennia, since Adam and Eve planted their flag of rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Millions had come and gone, living out their lives in futility and uncertainty. A few had believed in the Provision of Creator-God and had lived under His protection and in His purpose!
When Jesus Christ entered time to be the Savior of the World, He ushered in God's plan to bring good back, and turn millions of rebels into righteous citizens of the Kingdom of Light. Life leading to the cross was spent bringing healing to many, many people who were oppressed by Satan. As Jesus was modeling how to be a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, He perfectly obeyed every aspect of God's expectations for humanity. On the cross, Jesus Christ took away the penalty of rebellion and absorbed the justice of God for every act of rebellion committed by every citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, past, present and future. In doing so, Jesus Christ removed all power from Satan, the king of darkness. Jesus Christ bought the right take citizens from the kingdom of Satan and change their citizenship. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He rose with the power to give life and freedom to anyone whom He pleases! And, He pleases to give it to anyone who comes to Him in faith and trust.
The Kingdom of Christ invades the dark neighborhoods, ruled by territorial spirits and rebellious citizens of the kingdom of darkness. Ambassadors of the King of the Kingdom of Heaven are strategically placed by the Holy Spirit across the planet. Each is commissioned to bring the good news of a new life and allegiance! Each soldier for Christ has been given special gifts and talents, which perfect equip him/her to reach future citizens of the Kingdom of Righteousness. Each is placed in a specific team of Heavenly citizens who are fitted together to bring peace, love, justice, and righteousness into the hearts and lives of new believers through the work of the Holy Spirit. All are motivated and reminded by a memo from the King of kings announcing the termination of the war. The reset button will be pushed by the Creator, and this planet and the universe will burn and all who own a Heavenly passport will be transported to a huge, victory celebration, attended by a number of righteous veterans that can't be counted. Eternity will be spent on a fresh, sinless planet where the King of Light is the only Light needed! There will be no darkness there, only worship and what is good and right.
The Enlisted Mentality
Do you view your time here on Earth as a tour duty in the service of the King of Righteousness? Do you know that a battle rages against you, seeking to steal your commission and leave you wounded and worthless on the battlefield? Our battle is not against governments or people. No, we fight against an organized force of evil spirits that are bent on retaining their citizens.
Physical poverty is a living example of spiritual poverty. The care and compassion that the above picture of the little girl creates in your heart for her is just a small measure compared to the care and compassion that Jesus feels for His spiritually impoverished children!
God's Powerful Grace
There are two kinds of graces that the believer brings to children in darkness. Both empowered by the Holy Spirit, and carried out in perfect submission to the sovereign will of the Father. Special grace was purchased by Christ on the cross and achieved by His resurrection. The entire Trinity is involved: One God in Three Persons.
God is constantly restraining evil and doing good for rebellious sinners. He uses social restraints, education, and His power to restrain evil and give temporal blessings. Without the restraining undeserved-goodness of God, the world would spiral into wide-scale rape, murder, gossip, witchcraft, infanticide. Along with His sovereign, restraining power, God uses Christians to bring common grace, as they obey God's laws in government, education, neighborhoods, and friendships.
Along with restraining evil and providing for his creatures, God uses believers to bring His common goodness through ministry. Many, many people are physically healed, set free from addictions, or freed from evil spirits by the Holy Spirit through the ministry of soldiers of Christ.
Billions of people are saved through discipleship and/or the preaching of the gospel. (In fact, the amount of people from start to finish in this war against darkness will be innumerable.) They are instantly justified (forgiven and acquitted). Over their life-time as expatriates on the battlefields, the Holy Spirit does a process called sanctification, whereby He cuts out evil and replaces it with Christ-like attributes. Part of this process is healing of broken places from the past and realizing freedom from the oppression of evil spirits and internal sin. Throughout this process, the Holy Spirit heals physically and also uses physical and spiritual pain to train the believer. The Holy Spirit uses the Body of Christ to facilitate much of this healing and bondage-breaking.
We fight because we're all part of Christ's body. It's our birthright and privilege! Also, it's our responsibility. If the arm refuses to fight, the entire soldier suffers injury. If the stomach refuses to digest, the body loses health. You and I are uniquely gifted to fight for the King of Glory and bring the light of His glorious gospel into the light-less crevices of the dark kingdom. Every citizen has a fight to engage daily, the location depending on his/her orders from the Top.
So, how do we carry out this mission?
1. With Faith!
2. With Joy!
3. With Tenacity!
4. With Boldness!
5. With Awareness!
6. Until Death Ushers us Home!
O Lord, from the depths of despair I cry for your help: “Hear me! Answer! Help me!” Psalm 130:1-2. When we pray those kinds of prayers, the spiritual war around us is visible and real. The problem that most of us face is that unless we're under serious trial, it is easy to disbelieve that the battle is raging around us.
If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, you are right in the middle of a world-wide war between two kings. One king has already gotten the memo that he's lost, and he fights as dirty as possible. One of the major strategies of Satan is to neutralize saints without them even realizing that they have been rendered ineffective.
A Few Methods of Neutralization
1. Separate spiritual life from daily life. Biblically, our jobs, interests, and secular pursuits are ALL part of our spiritual life. Everything a Christian does is in obedience to Jesus and to bring His light and kingdom into all areas of daily life.
2. Busy, busy, busy! Too busy to read the Bible. Too busy to pray. "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain." Psalm 127:1a. Jesus was here to do the works of His Father, which is our pattern. We need to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible to discover how we can follow in Jesus' footsteps. We are here to do the works of our Father (Ephesians 2:10).
3. Distractions in your head. Do you have a hard time reading the Bible for more than about 5 minutes? This is a common problem. Tell the spirit that is distracting you from reading the Bible to leave in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Then, deliberately spend time reading the Word. You'll probably see an immediate difference.
4. Brokenness... There is a good brokenness and a bad brokenness. Good brokenness has you trusting in Jesus and reading His word often. Bad brokenness is a misunderstanding of your identity in Christ, sometimes compounded by a failure to deal with past experiences. Bad brokenness has you feeling depressed, discouraged, angry, or empty. Do you have unexplained feelings of anger, neglect, discouragement, sadness? Are you overcome by exhaustion for no reason? Do you have fear and anxiety? Do you have multiple narratives running in your mind? The answer for brokenness is a little more complicated. It takes a combination of spiritual warfare tactics. Contact me if you want to find healing from brokenness.
5. Division. My way or the highway. If you don't play well with the other Christians, you won't be effective in the battle. This one is simple: Repent of your pride and practice being humble.
6. Deliberate ignorance. This one is tough to overcome because it is fueled by a rebellious heart. For this one, pray through the Psalms!
7. Misunderstanding of who God is as your adoptive Father. Can you say "Abba Father" and do you know that you're accepted, and welcomed at the family table? It's also possible to fall into the opposite trap of irreverence. Our experiences growing up can deeply impact this understanding.
8. Picking up hitchhikers. Sometimes, when you are in rebellion against God, it's like you slow down the car and pick up a hitchhiker. For some, it's controversial about whether these hitchhikers are in the cab with you or in the back of the pickup. It's best to get rid of these hitchhikers as soon as possible. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify them and then send them away in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Fill up on the truth of the Word that is the opposite of the hitchhikers that the Holy Spirit just sent packing! If you continue to be bothered, you'll need to get help. Contact me or another pastor who can assist you.
Every Christian has been commissioned to extend the Kingdom of Christ, mirror the attributes of God in daily life, and enjoy a healthy, familial relationship with God. To do this, you must do spiritual battle daily. This is a daily process of deflecting attacks, while full-scale assaulting the enemies strongholds.
This conquest is real and a believer cannot be neutral. The Kingdom of Christ is bringing life, hope, and healing to the darkest corners of the kingdom of Satan. It's time for battle because the war is in full-swing.
Read the word... 30-60 minutes a day. Pray for specific prayer requests. Pray for healing and repentance from specific sins. Pray through portions of the scripture. Spend less time thinking about politics and more time thinking about missions. Carefully examine yourself. What are the thoughts that live in your head? What are the attitudes that color your thinking towards yourself, God, and others? Ask God, "Where do these things come from? Show me why I think like this."
Engage the battle! This is real.
Picture Credit: https://activechristianity.org/whole-armor-of-god
“The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves... heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you'... I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you... rejoice because your names are written in heaven." Jesus Christ in Luke 10
The Kingdom of Jesus has come and with it came freedom. Believers have freedom through justification, and freedom through sanctification. One major objective in sanctification is to become more like Christ, doing the works of the Father in our daily lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. Applying the books of Romans and Galatians to our daily lives by walking in the Spirit, obeying the will of our Father.
We've been given some very powerful weapons and tools, as well as have been given a one-on-one Coach who leads us into all truth. Using these tools, we can take the next step in our own sanctification, realizing more freedom from sin, self, and Satan. Simultaneously, we attack the empires of Satan and bring freedom to others.
The Harvest is Great
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10
Many of these people have been harvested! Someone told each one of them the good news of Jesus Christ. The mission for us is to find the rest of this multitude without number and bring them to Christ. To do this, we must sail through bloody seas and battle leviathans to rescue the captives from the devilish tentacles. Through the Spirit, we must speak the gospel and wake the dead. Humbly and valiantly, we storm the fortresses of the kingdom of darkness and set the captives free! This is called the great shared-mission... or great co-mission! We get cuts, infections, and lose limbs in some of the battles, yet we triumphantly march through the streets with the parade of joyous Christians who've just changed their citizenship from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light!
The Laborers are Few
No one knows why, but there are always few who receive the joy of harvesting. We all have our own reasons for going or not going out to work in the fields. One mistake we make is to separate spiritual and secular ministry, which makes the labor force seem smaller. In fact, the kingdom of God is as present in a cubical as it is in a counseling room. The evangelist has the same commission as the electrician. However, each Christian makes a choice as to how involved s/he is in the harvesting. There are also some harvest fields that have thousands of harvesters wandering around, while other fields are ripe for harvest with only one or two harvesters methodically moving down the rows, sacks bulging with ripe fruit, musing to themselves, "I wish others would join us!"
Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.
You are going out among wolves that hate you and want to kill you, ruin your marriage, and maim your children. It sounds fatal until you look up and see the Shepherd. The Shepherd is with you at all times. He has given you a Personal Trainer who trains you to defend yourself from wolfish fangs and to bravely inflict vicious wounds into wolf-flesh. The problems happen when we run away from the Shepherd or decide to nap during a battle. Sometimes, we just forget that we're highly-trained professional soldiers and submit to the abuse of the enemy. Then, our Captain rescues us and puts us up on his horse for a while.
Heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you'...
Healing happens wherever Christ's ambassadors are stationed. In the last 24 years of being an ambassador for Christ, I've prayed for a large amount of people to receive healing. Think about how many prayer chains, prayer meetings, prayer times have been spent on healing! And you know what? Many have been healed by the Holy Spirit. One thing that I've noticed is that God enjoys healing people. I think it is because it is a visual aid of the fact that "the kingdom of God has come near to" them. Physical healing is a calling card for the spiritual healing that is to be found in Christ, as well as it brings God glory and shuts down the oppression of Satan. (Acts 10:38) The goodness of God leads people to repentance and soon many find that the kingdom of God is not near anymore. It is in them and they are in it! New passport! New identity! New KING! New mission!
I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy,
Authority. Without it, we are powerless and vulnerable. Christ gives all believers His authority to trample on demonic spirits. In our own authority, the demons mock. In the authority of Christ, they are crushed beneath our feet. A practical way of looking at this is to think about an off-duty soldier and an on-duty soldier. The off-duty soldier is wearing civilian clothes and receives a different response in battle. However, a soldier in full fatigues, body armor, and carrying a variety of weapons is taken very seriously in battle. We've been given authority "over all the power of the enemy." We need to armor up and act in Jesus' authority. What I mean is that we can have the authority and seldom use it. It is also possible to act in our own authority. That is why James says to "submit to God" first. Jesus probably used this figurative wording on purpose, since He was about ready to crush the head of Satan. We step on the heads of demonic spirits in the authority purchased by Christ on the cross.
Let me say this also: We trample on the skulls of spirits when we bring people to Christ! And, when we disciple those people to find freedom from spiritual and sinful bondage. There's nothing more demoralizing than having someone take your property while you're guarding it. It's like walking up to a trafficker who is beating his slave and taking the little boy away from him permanently.
And nothing shall by any means hurt you...
I don't think that Jesus is talking about flesh wounds here. Our Heavenly Father uses the battle to refine our fighting skills and condition us. We know from the book of Job and from 1 Peter 5 that spiritual battles have specific parameters. And, my experience is that, as we engage the battle using the authority and weaponry of Christ, we can exit a battle with significantly less flesh wounds.
Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
The context here is that the 70 people returned and were excited because even the evil spirits obeyed them and were cast out. Jesus knows that this is exciting! When a person receives freedom from a harassing or controlling spirit, there is hope, relief, healing for him/her. Even as this is a time for thankfulness and joy, Jesus reminds us to keep our eyes on Him. Ministry has its highs and lows! Anchor your daily joy in the Person and Work of Christ! Rejoice because your name is written in Heaven! You're His forever! You're a child of God forever. Eternal life is to know God and be in a relationship with Him forever... which is why we are harvesting! Some day, an innumerable multitude of people from every family group will live together eternally in relationship with the Triune God!
Thy kingdom come, on Earth and it is in Heaven!
Helpful Verses About Spiritual Warfare and Discipleship
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. Jesus in John 14:12
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:8-10
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.