"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Peter in Acts 2.
What is the promise? You will be forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit means a lifetime of learning, truth, power, and godliness.
"The promise is to you and to your children." These words give life to missions and parenting. God likes to work in families. He calls dad and mom to repentance and, through their Biblical parenting, He calls their children to life, too. The power behind the great commission is the Holy Spirit because He is the one who calls, convicts and converts!
How inspiring this is for believing parents! Our children don't need to repeat the drama, sin, and evil that we might have gone through. Our children don't need to spend years trying to work through bitterness, anger, manipulative tendencies, financial incompetence, alcoholism, or bondage to sexual addictions. Why? Because we can raise them in a godly house, where God's commands are followed on the computer, in our conversations, and in our relationships. Parents can curse their children and grandchildren by raising them in an ungodly house. Or, parents can bless their children and grandchildren by giving them a Christ-centered upbringing.
Biblical parenting is the channel that the Holy Spirit chooses to use to bring many of our children to faith and repentance. With proper oversight, we can help our children avoid the pitfalls of anger, lust, and addictions. We can disciple them to invest their time, thinking, and energy into God-glorifying activities. "Faith comes by hearing the word of God!"
Must Dos for Missionaries
1. Focus on worldview. Equip your parents and young people to see the world through God's eyes. Empower them mentally to apply the Bible's precepts to every area of life and culture. They must get to a point where they can evaluate each area of their life and culture, in order to live Biblically.
2. Teach how to read and interpret the Bible. The Bible isn't just for pastors and priests to interpret. Our job is to train parents and youth to read, interpret, and apply the Bible for themselves.
3. Expect a fight from Satan. His rule has been broken by Christ. Walk out your authority in Christ, using every weapon you have.
Tips for Parents
1. Be present in your child's day. Spend endless hours reading together, learning together, and living life together. Each day is filled with teachable moments! Find those moments and teach!
2. Know the Bible yourself. You can't teach what you don't understand. Take the time to read and study the Bible. God gave you the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth and to give you wisdom. Teach the Bible to your children. Read through the Bible with your children. Talk about the pitfalls and discuss God's ways.
3. Protect your children. You are your children's covering spiritually and physically. Your godly behavior, prayer, and spiritual authority will protect your children. During the first 15 years of your children's lives, teach them to apply God's truths in the context of your family's life and ministry. Discipline your children for their rebellion and grow Christ-like behavior in them. Soon enough, your children will launch out into the world like arrows for the kingdom of God. Make sure that they are strong, straight, and sharp.
4. You are the gate keeper: Don't allow ungodly emotions, behaviors, or philosophies to live in your family. Satan gets a foothold in your children, when you harbor sin. Protect them from sexual abuse, hateful speech, and bullying. Protect them from immorality and coarse speech.
5. Be intentional. Teach the Bible and model godliness. Teach them Micah 6:8 on a daily basis. "He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you. But to do justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?"
Give special attention to the next generation! King Jesus is here, and His kingdom is multi-generational and thriving!
Lying in a tunnel of darkness, with my brain twitching and jerking with throbbing fever and electrodes of pain randomly arcing through my aching body, it occurred to me that this is probably a minute taste of Hell.
It's not really popular to think about Hell anymore. However, with so many people going to Hell, it's a good idea to take a minute to discuss it. Jesus spoke about Hell more than any other person in the Bible. And, He was honest about how bad it is: A burning, hot, feverish place where your soul never dies or finds relief.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” Jesus Christ.
After almost a week of torture, I was in bad shape. The Dengue ate my platelets down to about 1/3 of normal levels, and I needed continual assistance from God to maintain a healthy mind in the midst of the fever. As I clawed my way back, I became aware of how much I like normal body temperatures. I can't imagine being locked into a feverish Hell for eternity.
A couple of thoughts are very clear to me now:
Hell is real.
Real people go to Hell.
We all deserve to go to Hell because we are born and bred rebels against our Creator.
There is only one way to avoid Hell: Be rescued by Jesus from your self, your sin and your deserved destiny.
This is the problem with our disease. Like a fever, it distorts our reality, causing us to exalt ourselves and deny our God's holiness and highness. Our infection has killed our ability to accept the truth about ourselves.
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The Bible.
This is why we have to throw ourselves at the mercy of God, begging Him to take control of our thinking, and wake us up to our deserved destination. It's called GRACE. None of us deserve it. The Holy Spirit wakes you up to your sin and condemnation and turns your feverish eyes to see the beauty of Jesus Christ as your God and Savior. The Holy Spirit gives you an alive spirit, faith in Christ, and a lifestyle of repentance. As you recover from your years of infection, you feel peace, purpose, and begin to bask in the light of the Son.
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." Jesus Christ
Obedience to Jesus Christ is the most difficult because it is the opposite of our sinful nature. And, obedience is difficult because we have to read the Bible to find out how Jesus wants us to live our daily lives. That takes work!
Here are a few tips:
1. Study the Bible. Use the Bible to expose your own culture's false beliefs. Of course, your culture has some true beliefs because we are all fractured images of the Truth, Himself. We have to look into the face of Truth and into His Truth in the Bible to see what true culture is like. God's culture is the only one that is 100% true.
How do you study the Bible? Here are a few simple rules: 1. Do a search and make a list of Bible references about your topic... and read through them. 2. Think about the principle that God is teaching. What does that look like in your life? 3. For difficult verses, make an accurate interpretation. What is the context of the verse you are reading? What does the whole Bible say about the subject? Much of the Bible is literal: it means just what it says. Some of the Bible is figurative. You can tell that from the context and from thinking about what the rest of the Bible says.
2. Be humble. Pray and read the Bible over each area of your life: family, job, church, relatives, forgiveness, neighbors, finances, entertainment, your dreams for the future. And, be open to letting mature believers into your thought process. Don't just believe what they say. But, listen to them, discuss, and search the Scriptures for yourself. The Holy Spirit will use the Bible to teach you, guide you and change your culture to be His culture... Kingdom culture.
3. Be intentional about applying the truth and changing your existing thinking and actions. This means: Take action. Make a plan and do it. For example, if you are a man in a job that you can't get out of because you have too much debt, but the job is taking you from your family, make a plan for paying off the debt. Make a plan to quit and find a different job that gives you time to lead and disciple your family.
4. Be brave and strong. Don't spend time trying to get people's approval because the only approval you need is God's.
5. Be kind to those who are not moving in the same direction as you are. You can be honest with them. But, if they won't follow your path, be kind and loving. It is not your job to change their thinking or behavior. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.
6. Read Proverbs. Wisdom is knowledge applied. The Holy Spirit will use His words to teach you and give you the clear mind to apply that truth.
Here's one last tip! Look at each area of your life: How can I love God and love others? Look at your daughter. How can I parent her by loving God and loving her? What does that look like? What do you have to cut? What do you have to add? Which of your dreams or beliefs do you have to change so that you can love God and love your daughter? This question applies to each area of your life.
The Bible is a supernatural book because it is sourced from the infinite mind of God. When the Holy Spirit of God infuses the Bible's words with power, those words produce spiritual life in the reader.
Peter says to 1st-century Christians, "you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." We're all born 100% spiritually dead and unable to connect with God on a spiritual level. Enter the Holy Spirit with the super-empowered Bible truths. Through a variety of broadcast means, ranging from radio to preaching to reading, the hearer receives spiritual life from the Holy Spirit empowered word of God. Paul writes to a group of believers that he knows God has "chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction." When these people heard the gospel, it came in Holy Spirit power! In the mouth of the believer, the Bible is a super-powered book, not to be underestimated or neglected!
The Bible is a fountain of faith! "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." True faith germinates from learning the truth, when that truth is taught by the Holy Spirit. How is this possible? The Holy Spirit lives inside of a believer and produces faith as the believer reads the Bible.
Weapon Against Satanic Forces
Jesus used the word of God as a weapon against Satan. In the mouth of a believer, the word of God is a powerful defense and offense against demons. Paul calls the Bible the sword of the Spirit and recommends we use it in spiritual warfare.
Correcting Our Thinking
Humans are born with humanistic, self-centered thought patterns. This way of viewing God, ourselves and the word around us is called our worldview. As we grow up, these false beliefs can be reinforced by our environment, education, parents, friends, and media. When we are made spiritually alive, these false thinking patterns remain. God tells us to use the Bible to dismantle these false philosophies. Your mind is a battleground because you automatically assume that all of your thinking is authentic and truthful! But, using the Bible as the measuring stick for truth, you will begin to see what you need to change.
Knowing God's Will for Your Life
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." David in Psalm 119. In the hands of the Holy Spirit, the Bible brings conviction of sin, correction of thinking, and the power to change behavior.
Sola Scriptura (Only Scripture)
The Bible is God's blueprint for life. The Holy Spirit is the architect and engineer. A Christ-follower does not build his life on experiences, traditions, or advice, although those may be Bible-based and useful. No, a Christian builds his life on the truths of the Bible. The Holy Spirit teaches the Christian how to make right decisions for each life-situation, when he prayerfully searches the Bible for wisdom. Advice, prophecies, thoughts, spiritual revelations, desires, emotions, cultural values, and prior experiences all have to be tested and vetted by the Christian using the Bible alone. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
"You can't tell people to trust God to provide economically for them if they live in extreme poverty!" was a recent sentiment 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.
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.