Out of the Closet!!!

April 24, 2015

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”  (James 5:16 NLT)

When Alcoholics Anonymous started it was called “The Saint James Fellowship” because it was founded on this verse. The founders later changed the name to include people of all faiths and those with no faith.  While millions of secular people in AA apply the truths of this Scripture and experience healing, it is a shame that many believers never make these healing applications.

When you meet with another believer do you keep your sins in the closet?  Do you give the impression that you don’t have a problem in the world?  Do they do the same?  That does not burden you to pray for each other.  But if you can trust them and share some of your sins with them they would be burdened to pray for you.  They would also more than likely have what I call “reality contact” with you by sharing their sins and that would burden you to pray for them. The result of these mutual prayers would be mutual healing.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote extensively about spiritual community, put it this way: “Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous.  So they remain alone with their sins, living in lies and hypocrisy… He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone.”

A paraphrase of James 5:16 is that honest prayers explode with power!  It is a strategy of the evil one to isolate us into self imposed solitary confinement. Never let him isolate you into being a closet sinner; instead, find healing in confessing your sins and praying for one another.

Dick Woodward, 14 April 2013


Providential Benedictions

April 21, 2015

…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:13)

[In the “Our Father” Disciples Prayer]  Our Lord teaches us to begin our prayers with a God first mindset and conclude our prayers with that same focus.  We begin our prayers looking through the grid: “Your name be reverenced, Your Kingdom come,” and “Your will be done (in earth and) on earth, just as it is willed and done in heaven.”  We are to conclude our prayers the same way.

Jesus wants us to conclude our prayers by making this commitment to our Heavenly Father: “Yours is the Kingdom.”  By this confession, He means for us to pledge to God that the results of our Heavenly Father’s continuously answering our prayers will always belong to Him.

As we face challenges of life every day, we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God: “Yours is the power.”  When I have entered into a challenging day, I have confessed this thousands of times in my journey of faith and ministry by saying, “I can’t, but He can.”

Finally, we are to conclude our prayers by confessing: “Yours is the glory.”  When we apply this third providential benediction, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but He did, all the glory goes to Him.” Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers every time we pray by making this solemn commitment to God:  The glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayer(s), will always go to You.”

The essence of this benediction is:  “Because the power always comes from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

“Amen” simply means, “So be it.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


Unity and Diversity

April 17, 2015

“For in fact the body is not one member but many.”   (1Corinthians 12:14)

Chapter 12 of First Corinthians is the greatest Scripture in the New Testament about the way a church is to function.  After the Apostle Paul uses the words diversity and oneness several times, he brings these two opposite concepts together in his inspired metaphor that the Church is to function as a body.

He writes that it is not either/or but both/and: diversity should be celebrated rather than resolved.  As diverse members of the body of Christ come together to have a ministry there are different types of people: let it happen people, make it happen people, don’t know what’s happening people, and don’t know anything is supposed to be happening people.

Let it happen people desperately need make it happen people.  And the other two kinds of people obviously need these first two kinds of people.  The truth is they all need each other to function as a team, a body, and a Church. There are Mary and Martha kinds of people who both need each other.  Often, Marthas do not appreciate Marys because they think they are unorganized. But Marys need Marthas and Marthas need to realize that if it were not for Marys there would not be anything to organize.

Are you fitting in with those kinds of people who have what you do not have and sharing with them what you have that they do not have?

When we experience unity while celebrating diversity we do not have uniformity but a supernatural community that is in reality the body of our risen and living Lord Jesus Christ.

Dick Woodward, 25 June 2013


Celebrating Diversity

April 14, 2015

“If the whole body were an eye where would the sense of hearing be?”  (1Corinthians 12:17)

There’s a story about a doctor who came out of the delivery room to tell an expectant father: “I have some grave news for you.  Your wife has given birth to a 7-pound eyeball.”  After pausing a moment he added: “And that’s not all. It’s blind!”

If you came home one night in the dark to find a 185 pound eyeball in the corner of your front porch, would that give you a rush of anxiety?

In this verse from First Corinthians the Apostle Paul uses an illustration just as grotesque as the illustrations I just used.  He does this in his inspired letter to the Corinthians because he wants to make a point: the beauty of diversity.

One of the fingerprints of the Church of Jesus Christ is that in the Church we celebrate diversity.  Diversity in the body of Christ is to be celebrated rather than resolved.  If two of us are exactly alike one of us is unnecessary.  Some of the members of the First Church of Corinth were telling others they were not authentically spiritual unless they had the exact same spiritual gifts.

Paul remedied that kind of thinking with the hideous metaphor of a body being just one member and not a body with the beauty of many diverse parts.  Other members of the body of Christ have what you do not have and you have what they do not have.  That means you need them and they need you.

The body of Christ is a team sport.  Are you willing to be a team player?

Step up and play your part.

Dick Woodward, 05 February 2013


Two-Way Streets of Communication

April 10, 2015

“For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2Corinthians 2:2)

Every relationship we have is a two-way street. According to the Apostle Paul whatever we send down that street comes back up that street with a dynamic impact on that relationship.  Jesus states this same truth with a positive spin when He teaches hypercritical people, “With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

This was a relevant marketplace metaphor at the time of Christ.  If you were selling oats and a fellow merchant in the marketplace was selling wheat, when you bought from each other you could request to use their bushel standard of measurement.  Paraphrased, this is saying that whatever standard you use when you give to the other person in a relationship, they will use that same standard when they give to you. All of this means that we cannot control the weather or rainy days, but we can control the emotional climate that surrounds us in a relationship.

Communication is not only what is said but what is heard.  It is not only what is said but what is felt.  How does the communication you are contributing in a relationship make the other person in that relationship feel?  If you’re sending negative waves into that other person’s life, is that likely to inspire them to send positive waves in your direction?

Paul gave us another great teaching on this subject when he wrote, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for the building up of others, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

I challenge you to apply these teachings of Jesus and Paul in your relationships.

Dick Woodward, 05 February 2011


Gifts, Gifts, Gifts….

April 7, 2015

“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (I Corinthians 4:7 NLT)

We would all do well to take a few minutes to think about and answer this intriguing question presented by the Apostle Paul.  Can you think of anything you have that you did not receive from God?  Can you think of all the wonderful things you have received from God?  According to the Bible our salvation is a gift from God.  The faith it takes to receive salvation is also a gift from God.  As Paul has implied, as we do a gift inventory we will find that God has given us many kinds of gifts.

Our DNA proves that God has given us a physical identity that is unique and different from every other person living on the planet.  Physically, there is not now, there never has been, and there never will be any one exactly like you.  God has also given us intellectual gifts that equip us to live smarter, not harder.

When we receive the gift of faith that saves us, God also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  When we receive the Holy Spirit God adds a cluster of spiritual gifts that enable us to minister in many ways.  For example, He gives gifts of mercy which enable us to love those who are hurting with great compassion.  He gives the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and teaching that make it possible for us to teach the Word of God.  He gives many gifts that equip us to lead others to Christ.

Today, make a gift inventory and thank God for all the gifts He has given you!

Dick Woodward, 07 February 2012


What’s the “Good” in Good Friday?

April 3, 2015

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

If you want to know what is good about Good Friday this verse in Isaiah 53 will tell you.  This verse describes with great clarity the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross when it begins and ends with the same word: “all.”  The verse begins with what we might call “the bad news.”  Isaiah tells us that all of us are like little sheep and have gone astray.  We have turned, every single one of us, to our own way.  If you want to know the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, agree that you yourself are included in that first all.

The all with which this verse concludes is what we might call “the good news.” Isaiah ends this verse by telling us that the penalty for all the things we have done after turning to our own way has been laid on Him (meaning Jesus).  I don’t know about you, but for me that is very, very good news!  If you and I will confess that we are included in the first and the last all in this great Gospel verse then we know what we need to know and we have done all we need to do to turn our bad news into good news.  And we know what is good about Good Friday.

If you want to make this Friday of Holy Week a Good Friday, believe what Isaiah has written.

Dick Woodward, 02 April 2010


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