Seed Ministry, Part 2 of Upside Down Kingdom Building

I earlier blogged about upside down Kingdom building and the purpose wasn’t to say that God did ministry differently but that He did it so perfectly that it sometimes appeared upside down to us. Sacrificing His own Son for the sins of His rebellious people; teaching that the first will be last and the last first, to lead you must serve, to live you must first die are but a few examples of this. Bob and Bonnie Parker followed this example when they started Seed Ministry and the results speak for themselves.

Bob and Bonnie Parker were called by God to minister in Tamale Ghana during the two-week mission trip they took there in 2001. They returned home from the mission trip and sold most everything they could and with $2300 in their pockets and no formal theology and/or missions training left their 3 children, 8 grandchildren, church family and friends and flew off to Ghana. Little did they know the extent to which a faithful God would use and bless their faithfulness to Him.

Tamale Ghana is predominantly Muslim and traditional African religions with a small number of Christians. Bob and Bonnie had a history of ministering to children back in the states and used that expertise with children to set up Bible Clubs for the children of Ghana to memorize scripture and gain more Bible knowledge and participate in competitions throughout the year where they would recite scripture verses and answer Bible questions and compete for prizes given for most correct memorization of the 200+ questions.

This upside down kingdom approach ingeniously got God’s word into the hands and, more importantly, minds of these children who then took it home to their parents, siblings and other adults through the verses memorized by their children. And, the involved children would eventually become the Bible Club leaders and future pastors and leaders in their community churches.

The results from these Bible Clubs is phenomenal. Currently there are more than 300 weekly Bible Clubs throughout Ghana with over 12,000 participants to date.

38 churches have been built in their 17 years in Ghana with a corresponding urgent need for train pastors and church leaders. Bob and Bonnie therefore started Church Leaders Training Academies (CLTA) in three (3) cities, Tamale, Gushegu and Jirandogo, which is a two year program that to date has had 150 graduates and 100 more current students in training.

Both God’s Story and Paul’s writings have been translated into 6 languages and God provided them with a boat and soon this Soul Searcher’s vessel was traveling up and down the Volta river sharing the gospel.

In addition, literally thousands have been baptized and become part of the family of God, 3 ministry centers built, pastor and church leadership training programs provided, the Jesus Film shown throughout Ghana, Children’s Crusade’s launched, and Farming, Food, and Outreach Ministry programs developed to help with farm training and feeding those in need.

The fields are white for harvest and by following God’s harvesting model Ghana is being transformed into a Christ-centered oasis for West Africa. You can learn more about Seed Ministry at http://www.seedministry.com or by email at bob@seedministry.com and/or bonnie@seedministry.com. Please prayerfully consider coming along side and supporting Seed Ministry and be a part of what God is doing in Ghana 🇬🇭.

Mason Swinney

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The Moments of Grace

One day your babies crawling
the next they’re 17
you scratch your head and wonder
what happened in between?

Hurry’s a race that’s never ending
you’re rushing all the time
and missing those special moments
where life’s unbound, profound, sublime.

Life becomes one endless hurry,
you run from day to day
soon weeks and months are past you
and years have got away;

and all that you remember
are regrets, what might’ve been
each moment past you barren
if you could only do again.

But there’s more to life than aging
if you’ll stop and look you’ll see
it’s in the blessings of the moments
that you learn to thrive, to be;

for it’s there that life is hidden
embracing moments helps you see
its the simple things that change you
and transform and set you free.

Simple things like dust from angels
as it sparkles in the air
when the sun shine’s through the prism
of the glass that’s everywhere;

or the winking of the rosebud
as the petals flex their wings
bursting forth their magic fragrance
as the bees hum, dance, and sing.

So slow down, enjoy each moment
created just for you
and marvel at the wonder’s
of grace-sightings there to view.

And the more we enjoy the moments
the more thankful we become
and soon we’re moment-seekers
amazed and humbled with what God has done.

Mason Swinney

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Cup Maintenance

Jesus tells us in Romans 12, verse 2 that the trick to not looking and acting like the world is to renew our minds. But before we can start renewing our minds one important step is required. Like getting a cool drink of water from a cup filled with old dirty tepid water, we first must empty the cup of the dirty water before there’s room for the good water.

Emptying our minds is hard work because we’re intentionally and purposefully examining and developing a mind set on what’s important, why we’re here, and how and where do we fit in. As smart as we think we are, we really don’t have the full and complete answers to these questions.

And, the exceedingly challenging work is detaching ourselves from making our individual life experiences the sole criterion by which we interact with others and developing a heart after God through the emptying of ourselves and making room for the Holy Spirit to fill us.

The better and more completely we understand the sovereignty and love of the Cup Cleaner and allow our hearts to be emptied of the dirty water, the pride and universally toxic thinking that “I know what’s best for me”, then the filling of our cups with the good water can begin while Satan’s dirty water, his lies, can go down the drain.

Drano anyone!

Mason Swinney

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Is Death The Beginning Or The End

Is death a portal or a door
into heaven or to hell;
or the journey’s starting point
where value, purpose start to jell?

Adam and Eve desired their freedom,
though they had it all the while;
chose to interact with evil
got ’em banished and defiled.

God made them in His image,
but they wanted more than that,
they wanted to be like Him
and broke His only caveat.

Walking with Him was intended,
what we all were made to do;
but Satan lied, deceived them,
they believed his worldly view.

So community was broken
when they took that awful bite,
death entered God’s creation,
not forever, a respite.

Fatal was the nibble,
the punishment matched the sin,
walking by sight got them in trouble,
the apple seemed okay to them.

How does evil seem to fool us,
don’t we consider every word
or too busy in the moment,
our moral vision too easily blurred;

the Bite was transcendental,
corrupting behavior, how we think;
Eden’s garden now a graveyard,
filled with tombstones, near the brink.

For some dying’s nearly regal,
you close your eyes you’re at your end,
and you blink and you’re in glory
along with Jesus, angels, friends.

But not just a’portal to forever;
it’s a way to strive and be,
it’s the pathway to the present,
starting point for joy and peace.

Jesus, the way, the destination,
the road that’s narrow still,
but He’s walking ‘long beside us,
hasn’t left us, never will.

So the future hasn’t happened
and the past is but a blip,
it’s the now where we should focus,
live and love, enjoy the trip.

Mason Swinney

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Irrational Anger

What exactly is it,
anger you just can’t place;
for a four-year-old boy,
it’s anger without a face.

No memory triggers,
not a clue to explain its start,
though dad had quite a temper
that kept me on my guard.

The sins of the father
were passed on to this boy
though other family had it,
anger void of joy.

Does one cause the other
or the other way around;
does the absence of joy
allow anger to abound?

When spring-loaded to angry
little things can set you off,
with no joy to counterbalance
you’re a volcano set to bust.

Many things can cause it,
like the fear of being hurt,
depression is its soulmate,
a bruised ego, pride, self-worth.

But God invented the “senses”
and all the “feelings” to,
so anger’s not the problem,
my control-valve had come loose.

Because trying to be Jesus
though my own spec’s out of reach,
I’d set my sights on trouble,
my self-image surely breached.

It cost me more than friendships,
my aplomb soon flew the coup,
refused to try most new things
couldn’t take a chance and lose.

The key to beating anger,
stop reacting, start to think,
extend the grace I’m given
and love, forgive, rethink;

so to begin the healing process
I had to cut myself some slack,
since I know that I’m not perfect,
I can see that from my past;

instead of aiming for perfection
I’m walking with The One who is,
He’s taken this boy’s anger and,
given him a heart that beats for His.

Mason Swinney

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Holiness

Providentially, God placed a book in my hands that starts off examining holiness. It challenges the reader to define holiness. In trying to do that I’m drawn to Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 where the cherubim and seraphim in God’s presence cry out continually “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty”. What else could any created being, even the most powerful spiritual beings, do or say in the presence of Pure Holiness and once in His presence would ever want to leave or stop speaking it. They praise God continually because their eyes are constantly fixed on Holiness and consequently nothing else matters, not themselves, not others, not circumstances, only God. Holiness, by my definition, would not so much be what we do behaviorally as it would be where we fix the eyes of our minds and WHO we can’t stop talking about. Because the more our gaze and our lips are fixed on God and His holiness and off ourselves and others, the closer we will be to obeying the commandment found in Leviticus 20:26 and 1Peter 1:16 to be holy because “I, the Lord, am holy.” In fact, He’s all we’d want to think or talk about.

Mason Swinney

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The Upside Down Kingdom

Would you want to be a part of a kingdom where to live you first must die; to be first you begin by being last; to be a leader you must be a servant; to be a member you are both chosen and free to choose membership? Sounds like a rather strange kingdom but it gets stranger. This kingdom’s one God exists in 3 separate and distinct persons who are one in essence, substance, nature and who sent his only Son to save its members from their own sins. That Son was born in a barn. That Son was a poor carpenter who never married or even dated yet is an authority on all relationships and though died on the cross at age 33 has lived forever. Though most of the religious people of His time didn’t recognize him, the demons he encountered always did. He fulfilled 353 biblical prophecies about himself yet was rejected by most of his fellow Jews.

Though he only ministered three years, he started the largest religious community in the world with 2.3 billion members and even the second largest religion, Islam, with 1.8 billion members, speaks well of him and He is the most mentioned person in their holy book, The Quran, where He’s named in 93 verses and mentioned directly or indirectly 187 times.

Hindu’s, the third largest religious group with 1.1 billion members, speak well of Jesus and the Buddhist’s Dalai Lama does as well and sees him as “spiritually mature, good and warm hearted person” though he doesn’t actually represent the fourth largest religious community with 520 million Buddhists but is probably their best known and most popular adherent.

There are approximately 15 million Jews in the world and the religious of that group believe the same first 5 books of the Old Testament of the Bible as the Christians do. A small percentage of Jews believe that Jesus is their Messiah though most do not but still believe positive things about Him.

What if the 2.3 billion Christians adopted Jesus’ upside down approach to life? What if we stopped focusing on the many things that divide us and started dialoging with the rest of the religious communities about the one person we all seem to have something positive to say, Jesus? And, what if we used His communication styles by comforting the hurting; challenging the meek; and confronting the skeptics by being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slower still to get angry? What if we met each person at their point of need, and not according to our own agendas, with the life changing power of His Word by listening, telling stories and relating to them since dialogue done correctly is communication which translates into relationships which fosters communities which have the power to change each participant and the world? What could happen if 2.3 billion believers got out of the box and adopted His upside down approach to people? Too simple, isn’t that one of the same criticisms Jesus heard?

Stay tuned for more on upside down folks who are changing the world.

Mason Swinney

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