Building Strong Faith for Difficult Times: Divine Hope in the Face of Stark Realities
Our world is spinning out of control. We are moving through change like our generation has never experienced. If a crescendo of credible authors today is right, deep-seated hardship awaits us. But calamity is not the end of the story. God has a purpose for troubling times. As we face the days ahead, we will not only survive but also thrive if we will build our lives on the foundations of faith shown to us in God’s Word. In this book Dwight Smith mixes a bit of stark reality with divine hope. Yes, we may suffer, but as we exercise our faith, then no matter what we face in our personal lives, families, churches, and culture, we will find that we can trust God. We will discover how He has the long view in mind, and He will strengthen us with hope as we live in anticipation of His ultimate redemption.
Grandparents on a Mission: Inviting Our Grandchildren to Walk with God
In today’s swirling world of confusion, it is difficult to raise children to say no to self and yes to Christ. While parents bear the primary responsibility for teaching their children to remember the works of the Lord, Christian grandparents have a significant role as well. Grandparents can invest in their grandchildren’s lives in order to counteract our culture, even if it means laying aside personal plans in their later years. The consistent model of godly grandparents may be the only thing that this generation of children has to hang on to. This book is not a comprehensive discussion on the topic of grandparenting. It simply shares the story of how God has worked in one family as John and Leeba Curlin intentionally have sought to parent and grandparent in a godly way. They have not followed any particular method or done things perfectly; rather, they have deliberately trusted God as they have sought to influence their family for Jesus Christ. What God has done through them He can do through any grandparent who will simply trust Him.
Alone at the Top
God has designed the church to be “infinitely reproducible”—so virile and courageous that, swept along by the sovereign ministry of the Holy Spirit, it will reproduce itself infinitely. To build such a church, God has designed leadership to work interdependently to grow Christ’s people in spiritual vitality and empower them for ministry effectiveness. When leaders have cooperated with God’s design, the church has multiplied its numbers and had great impact on the world around it. When it hasn’t, the church has suffered and failed to reproduce. Jesus gave the pattern for church leadership in Matthew 20:20–28: “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you.” God is looking for leaders who will lay aside top-down structures and instead empower His people to be fully His and do the work He has designed them to do. The result will be the incarnated holiness of Jesus pulsating through Christ’s people and poured out in the world around them to convince and convict the more than 7.5 billion people on this planet of the resurrection message of Jesus.
In recent years the church has forgotten the conviction of thousands of Christ followers, across two thousand years, who gave themselves to completing the last sending command of Jesus: “In your going, make disciples of all the peoples of the world” (Matt. 28:19). Instead, in an effort to draw people to Christ, much of the Western church today has sought to become relevant through golden-tongued leaders, star-quality worship bands, large-scale buildings, and myriad social programs. God is on a mission to redeem lost men and women to Himself and restore them to relationship with and representation of Him, and we, the already redeemed ones, are servants in this mission. The primary need of the church in our day is not relevancy; rather, it is to provide people accessibility to the gospel through our day-to-day lives. God’s ultimate design for the church is simply for every member of Christ’s church to live the gospel in whatever places God calls us, thus saturating every home, workplace, community, city, and nation with the gospel message through the people of God.
God is on mission to take the gospel to every man, woman, and child across the globe, and He calls every believer in Christ to partner with Him in this. But too often pastors, leaders, and missionaries carry out the work of God, while the ordinary believer is occupied or even entertained with an abundance of contemporary church programs
God’s design for each person is revealed in the Genesis creation story, where God created man to serve Him in righteousness in the mission He is carrying out across human history. Despite Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God restored righteousness in the people He created through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus proclaimed that righteousness in the Sermon on the Mount, calling every believer to live God’s righteous values before and in the world. As believers in Jesus Christ created and re-created in the image of God, let us look to God and live vibrant incarnational lives in the various places where He calls each one of us..
Church as God Designed It
The church today is in disarray. What happened to the vitality of an organic body of people on journey with God the Spirit? We had it, but a flood of ideas and slick campaigns on how to organize and grow church life—creating bigger and better programs, controlling service lengths, adding smoke and dark lights—has led to churches that are often loose in biblical convictions, lazy in morals, and ineffective in the redemptive task Jesus left us to carry out until He returns. What went wrong, and how do we fix it?The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in a day similar to ours, giving him a prescription for the Ephesian church. The instructions apply to us as well. Paul’s book of 1 Timothy helps us call believers to the direction implied by the new birth and the residency of the Holy Spirit within us. Church as God Designed It plumbs the issues Paul addressed in 1 Timothy to see what they mean for local Western churches today. What would happen if Western church leaders focused less on “improvements” that make us more like the world and wholeheartedly embraced the call of God to lead the church well and in the fullness of God’s plan and purpose? Dwight Smith unfolds Paul’s message and shows us how to apply it today so that we will become the church made not by man but by God.
Winning the War Against the Flesh
A rising tide of Christian leaders is confessing to significant immoral sexual thoughts and actions. Multitudes of believers are broken and fractured, missing out on the wholeness God intends for His people. Why?Many Christians today reject the truth that evil decisions and actions are a result of fleshly desires. We believe instead, “I am wounded”; “It’s not my fault”; “My parents made mistakes in raising me”; “The culture defrauded me.” We are not willing to admit, “I made the decision that resulted in this negative consequence.” Instead we look to experts for health and happiness.But experts do not heal us; they simply teach us to manage our pain and engage in safer, healthier alternatives. God is the only One who can make broken people whole again. As we reject wrong sources for our healing and instead die to self and embrace the life of God for which each of us was created, the Holy Spirit through God’s Word will bring about in us joy, spiritual maturity, and victory over the flesh.
Freedom from Bondage to the Flesh
Hundreds of church leaders today are ignorant of the power of the flesh in their lives. In our day the false teaching that people are not sinners by nature has returned to the church in force. This has had a profound impact on believers, blinding them to the flesh still resident within them and weakening them in their battle against the ongoing sin nature. Thus many fall short of the victory God intends His people to have. God intends us to have victory over the flesh—but we must first recognize the enemy lurking within us. May God give leaders of His church the wisdom and tenacity to confront what may be the greatest danger to biblical faith in our day: the flesh within us that is at war against us.