Diane & Dan Smedra
(Note: We do not solicit any funds.)
Thank you for your interest. The heart of our modest ministry is personal email correspondence* with Christians around the world who are hungry to grow in their spiritual life and service. I was led into early retirement in 2007 due to various health issues, while Diane, after nearly four decades of employment joined me in 2013. Together, we joyfully serve in this ministry designed to provide spiritual growth resources to born-again members of Christ's Body. The website's name "withChrist.org" is drawn from the biblical (Pauline) truths of the believer's positional: crucifixion (death), burial, resurrection, ascension, and being seated "with" Christ. See Romans 6:4,6 and Ephesians 2:6.
Having walked with the Lord for nearly 45 years, my heart's desire is to see believers, both young and older, established in sound foundational basics and able to navigate today's doctrinal 'minefields'. WithChrist.org seeks to prepare believers for subsequent spiritual growth with the goal of ever-deepening fellowship with God the Father and God the Son (1 John 1:3b). Our online corresponding goal is to stay quietly in touch with the Lord, being prepared by Him to share with those who reach out in need. This type of relational ministry is not for everyone.
Our goal is for a life-giving ministry (2 Cor. 4:12). We neither claim nor assert any earthly "authority." Those who visit and read material published on our website are humanly free to disregard its content--a choice consistent with America's unique founding principle(1) of "religious liberty". Our desire is to supplement, not supplant, the role of the doctrinally safe-and-sound local church, assembly, or meeting.
We view ourselves as directly accountable to the Risen Lord Jesus Christ by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Our ministry largely draws from the context of 19th-to-21st century expressions of evangelical Christianity while recognizing the dangers of over-reliance on either a traditional and reforming emphasis.
Our Anchor is the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Living Word (John 1:1,2) and Truth Incarnate (John 14:6), and Who with other Persons of the Godhead, superintended the inerrant and propositional Written Word. We adhere to a historical-grammatical hermeneutical approach to interpreting the Bible. The veracity of both Jesus Christ and the Bible is authenticated in our experience by the sovereign illuminating power of the God the Holy Spirit. "Emerging post-evangelicals," who value "post-Bible study piety," "post-systematic theology," and "post 'in/out' in perception" will find little to satisfy their tastes here.
Therefore, in an effort to be good stewards of our time and resources, we respond to those who demonstrate spiritual hunger and a receptive spirit. We are not interested in debates or arguments. Further, attempts to intimidate, censure or silence us, or email that is rude, insulting, ranting, belligerent, or repeatedly disingenuous in tone will be ignored or potentially blocked pursuant to the Scriptural admonishment of Titus 3:10,11.
* Given the limitations of our financial resources and schedules, we prefer email rather than engaging in long-distance phone conversations. Exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis.
(1) See: NEVER BEFORE IN HISTORY, America's Inspired Birth, Amos & Gardiner, Haughton, 1998.
Further Important Notices:
· We do not provide legal assistance or financial support for those seeking religious, political, or economic asylum/relief, domestic or foreign. Our advice to you is to contact a foreign embassy located in the country of your residence, a civic organization, or local church.
· We do not provide professional psychological counseling, therapy, or conflict mediation. We attempt to share wisdom -- Proverbs chapters 1 & 2.
· We are not a source of material goods, financial aid, nor are we interested in any "partnering" or "affiliation" arrangement with other ministries, domestic or foreign. Other ministries are designed to addresses these needs. Your request for funds will simply be added to the dozens we receive on a monthly basis. Persistent appeals for money (spam) will warrant a block of your email address.
· Other than the cache of resources on our websites, we do not provide free literature, books, etc. This ministry operates on less than a 'shoestring' budget.
· Lastly, we only accept small 'grassroots' donations via PayPal (see button below). All donations specifically go to the costs of website hosting, spam filtering, software and hardware upgrades, etc. Historically, donations have never exceeded these costs.
· Emails which ignore the above will be reciprocally ignored and deleted. Subsequent email from the same or similar source will warrant being permanently blocked.
PURPOSE: Our ministry seeks to guide believers into study suited to their unique circumstances and further strives to see them become "established in grace" and on their own with the Lord as soon as possible (2 Peter 3:18). Our expectation is for correspondents to eagerly study the Word of God (sixty-six canonical books of the Bible) as well as recommended Christian literature--understanding that the goal for believers is to be anchored in truth, sanctified through mental renewal (Romans 12:2) and advancing in a more intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each must learn to depend upon Him (Head of the New Creation), not us.
APPROACH: Our approach to Scripture is to ideally focus on those sections of the Word specifically written to New-Creation Christians--Paul's Epistles. This is not meant to diminish other portions of the Word, but to establish an initial priority. When adequately established in basic Christian tenets, the believer can then safely study and understand other portions of both the NT and OT. As shown is the graphic below, the believer's focus should be upon Paul's Epistle (the blue dot in the center), then, move outward to incorporate the remainder of the NT (the inner green ring). Finally, the believer can safely incorporation and understand the portions of the OT (shown by the outer tan ring). Using this approach helps ensure that new believers aren't overwhelmed by the seemingly mundane details found in the OT.
Other key marks of our ministry include:
· emphasis upon the supernatural "new birth" as the exclusive portal to genuine Christian experience,
· reliance on the Bible, God's written revelation as the ultimate authority,
· salvation by grace through faith--never the other way around,
· concern for the born-again believer's 'spiritual growth' including conformity to the "mind of Christ",
· focus on Christ's redeeming work in His Cross, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension, and secondarily,
· the reasoned and consistent application of these truths to the broader spheres of cultural life.
SCOPE: While not repelled by scholarship or footnotes, our material is presented from the perspective of the non-academic or layman who nonetheless enjoys passionate thinking. We have little appreciation for Christians who consider the realm of the mind--"soulish" and thus spiritually inferior. Our ministry does include occasional observations: philosophical, sociological and psychological, but its primary focus is theological and doctrinal. Here you will find candid discussion, frank evaluations and unvarnished reviews, in contrast to the 'seeker-sensitive' messages so in vogue today. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." 2 Tim. 4:3,4.
CHRIST: We believe that Jesus Christ is eternally God the Son and Son of God, the Last Adam and Source of New Life for a New Creation, Savior of sinners, Head and Bridegroom of the Church--His Body, as well as Israel's prophesied Messiah and Coming King.
REVELATION OF THE SINFUL NATURE OF THE FIRST ADAM: Humankind (ha'adam), male and female, being animated by God with "the breathe of life" (neshama), were uniquely created (Gen. 1:27; 2:7) in God's image and individually constituted "living" beings or souls (nephesh-whole persons)(1Cor.15:45). In the Fall, humankind's relationship to God change (Rom.3:23,24) and their animating life became sinful (Romans 5:12-7:25). Both Adam and Eve's standing and sinful life were passed to their offspring (Gen. 5:3; 1Cor.15:49). The OT and Synoptic Gospels are the records of God's "testing" for the purpose of demonstrating humankind's utter lost and incorrigible estate. God's judgment upon Adamic humankind, "man in the flesh," culminated at the Cross of Calvary! In this current time, God is not testing humankind to see who will or will not believe the Gospel, for all are bound over to unbelief and make excuse (Luke 14:15-20). God's calling and salvation are by sovereign grace (Luke 14:21-24).
THE CHURCH AND ISRAEL: In contrast to theological traditions and widespread belief that the Church replaced Israel in God's plans, we believe God the Father has one grand purpose—to glorify Himself in Christ. This involves glory in two (2) spheres—the earthly and the heavenly (a now-unseen spiritual dimension). In keeping with this purpose, God has created the Church distinct from Israel, yet both are "joint heirs" (Eph. 3:6) of the blood of the eternal covenant (Heb. 13:20). OT covenant promises to Israel, including those of the New Covenant, have not been transferred to the Church (Romans 11:1, 25, 29). While some similarities exist, Israel's ratified New Covenant awaits the coming Millennium for its implementation and fulfillment.
HEAVENLY AND EARTHLY PEOPLE: Throughout history, the salvation of all saints is ever and only by grace through faith in view of the redemptive work of Christ. At no time has God offered salvation "by works of law." In regard to spiritual blessings, the Church and Israel sometimes complement or mirror the other, both reflecting the glory of God, but each in its own respective sphere. The Church, the Body of Christ, of which Israel is not a part, is uniquely composed of saints seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6), while Israel is an earthly people with unique earthy blessings, who will be reestablished in their land by sovereign power and in fulfillment of OT covenant promises.
MYSTERY: The Church, born at Pentecost (Acts 2), is spoken of in the NT as a "mystery," the truths of which were neither prophesied nor revealed in OT Scriptures, a hidden mystery until revealed and unfolded doctrinally by the Apostle Paul in his Epistles. While Paul penned Romans to Philemon, these Epistles are in fact the inerrant revelation from the Risen Lord Jesus (Gal.1:12), who is currently seated in the Glory. The other Jewish Apostle indirectly learned the truth of the mystery from Paul (2 Peter 3:16). Regardless of the unique role of Paul, each and every one of the 66 books of the Bible were "God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man (and woman) of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16).
We believe, that over time, the content of a person's beliefs affect all realms of life--or put simply, "ideas have consequences." "For as he thinks in his heart [mind], so is he" Proverbs 23:7.
Many thanks to those who provide prayer and encouragement.
WithChrist.org (originally TrueBranch Ministry) was established in late 1995 and has been supported primarily through our personal sacrifice, labor, and funds. Since the start, hundreds of hours have been spent each year creating and maintaining these websites, together with time spent in correspondence with those who write from all over the world. In addition, both Diane and I were employed in demanding, full-time jobs for four decades before retirement. With regard to employment and ministry, the Apostle Paul was our model (2 Cor. 6:3-10).
Believers who benefit from this ministry regularly ask how they can participate and help support the websites (Timothy 5:18). Donations can be made using the PayPal link below. Using a PayPal account or a credit card is similar to other e-commerce transactions. Euro, Pound Sterling, Yen, Canadian or Australian dollars are accepted. You don't have to establish a PayPal account to transfer funds. It is easy, safe and secure. Since the beginning, your donation directly goes to cover the costs and maintenance of hardware, software, and hosting service subscriptions. WithChrist.org's financial stewardship is modeled after 1 Kings 17:3-6. We deeply appreciate the "ravens" who continue to answer God's call and sustain this ministry.
At times, our burden is to speak spiritual truth to both religious and secular power. This includes publishing opinions on "Christian" leaders and movements; social, political, and spiritual issues; including the possible endorsement of political candidates. WithChrist.org is not organized under U.S. Code 501(c)(3) as a "qualified charitable organization." According to the IRS, your donation to our ministry is not officially tax-deductible...but of course still deeply appreciated. We know you'll understand.
We also are interested in locating someone with artistic and computer animation skills to help in building a key, online instructional module. Please write us.
Dan also served as the WebCurator for and by request of the late Miles J. Stanford. In early 1996 and before Miles homegoing, Dan began to develop the initial MJS website. Ever so cautious, Miles wanted to start small and opted to access the Internet via WebTV rather than become involved with any of those "fangdangled computers". Within weeks, email was arriving--and Miles was praising the advent of electronic correspondence! Brief descriptions of those early days can be found at the bottom of our 1996 What's New page.
In February 2013, we received a request from the current copyright owner of Miles Stanford’s publications to discontinue presentation of his materials on this website. In honor of Miles legacy and “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” we agreed to that request.
“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
After nearly 50 years of ascension ministry and at the age of 85, Christian growth author Miles J. Stanford stepped into the Lord's glory on September 21, 1999. In addition to his prolific writings, he maintained correspondence with scores of hungry-hearted believers around the world, typically signing his doctrinally rich letters with "Resting in Him."