Letting Go … to Let God

January 23, 2015

“… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ” (Philippians 3:13-14)

As we move forward into this new year and consider our priorities many of us could say, “These forty/eleven things I dabble in.”  But spiritual heavyweights like Paul write: “One thing I do.” They can write that they have their priorities sifted down to one thing because they forget those things that are behind.

We all have things we need to let go of so we can press toward the goal of what God wants us to do now and in the future.

There’s a story of a man who fell over a cliff but managed to grab hold of a little bush that was growing out of a cliff about forty feet from the top.  He frantically shouted, “Help!” several times but his voice simply echoed back to him.  Desperately he yelled, “Anybody up there?  A subterranean voice answered, “Yes!” He then yelled again “Help!” Then the voice said. “Let go!” After a brief pause the man shouted, “Anybody else up there?”

Sometimes it takes a lot of faith to let go.  It may be that we need to let go of things that we cannot do and only God can do.  It may be we need to let go of things we cannot control.  And, sometimes we need to let go of hurts that people have inflicted on us and we cannot forgive them and just let it go.

Do you need to let go and let God so you can unload baggage and move forward with God?

Dick Woodward, 11 January 2013


Becoming Champions (for Christ!)

January 20, 2015

All our steps are ordered by the Lord; how then can we understand our own ways?”  Proverbs 20:24

God doesn’t think or act as we do so Solomon has the wise question in Proverbs 20:24: “If we are going the way God wants us to go, how can we expect to always understand the way we are going?”  That’s the revised Woodward translation.  I believe it is obvious that God is making an original and He always does that in an original way.  There ain’t nobody like you and there ain’t supposed to be.

Today my thoughts turned to six of the most powerful verses in the Bible:  the last four verses of Romans 11 and the first two verses of chapter 12.  They tie in with Isaiah 55 and the reality that we do not know what God is doing but the profound truth focused is that He is the source of, the power behind, and His glory is the purpose of everything He is doing.  The application in Chapter 12 is that we should express intelligent worship by surrendering our bodies as a living sacrifice (not a dead one), be sure we are not getting our signals from the secular culture, ask God to transform our mind so we can think as He does, and then, having met these prerequisites, prove one day at a time that His will for us is good, meets all His demands, and moves toward spiritual maturity.  (This passage is especially good in the Phillips.*)

You are such a magnificent person and God is shaping you to be a champion for Christ in dimensions that are far beyond anything we could imagine or even think to imagine! Whatever help it takes you must master this problem or it will master you.  Every time God wants to do a great work like what He is doing in your life, the evil one is there trying to defeat the work of God.  Don’t let him have the victory.  Put on the whole armor of God to defeat what the evil one is trying to do.

Dick Woodward, (email, 20 January 2007)

(*J.B. Phillips translation of The New Testament in Modern English)


Facing Calamities

January 16, 2015

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

These familiar words of consolation and exhortation are found in the context of a great calamity described by the psalmist. Many believe this calamity is prophetic and relates to the great and terrible Day of the Lord. By application these words, and other words of consolation in this psalm, can be related to any calamity we experience as the people of God.

As the hymn writer declares this calamity to be a total devastation, in the midst of this devastation he exclaims, “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in times of trouble.” Since Hebrew is not as precise as Greek, the New American Standard Bible offers helpful alternate readings in the margins throughout this psalm. The alternate reading offered here consoles us with the thought that God can be a very present help to us in our “tight places.”

The helpful alternate reading presented alongside verse 10 is “Relax, let go and prove that God is – and what His will is. He is God and He wills to be exalted among the nations and in the earth.”

When you find yourself experiencing calamity be still long enough to experience these great realities: that God is God, that He is there for you, and that He can help you in the tight places of your calamity. So relax, let go, and prove Him. Then ask yourself how your response to your calamity just might align with what He wills; that He might be exalted among the nations and in the earth through the way you live your life here on earth for His Glory.

Dick Woodward, 10 March 2009


Sanctified Unselfishness

January 13, 2015

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up.  Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own…”  I Corinthians 13:4-7

I have heard people say, “I don’t get mad, I get even!”  When God’s love is being expressed through us, we don’t get mad or even.  The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so.

As we examine “love is kind,” we realize this love refuses to play the game of getting even.  The Greek word for kindness means, ‘love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.’  Then we read: “Loves does not envy.”  The Greek words Paul used here prescribe, ‘an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.”  In other words, sanctified unselfishness.

The one who is applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness.  Their love commitment is not, ‘I love me and I need you,” or, “You love me and so do I.”  They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness and my love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.”  Think of how critically this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident or an illness that seriously limits them…

The key to the love that behaves properly and is not touchy is that the one loving is not demanding his or her way.  The one who is a conduit of this love is others-centered, not self-centered.

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness.  Therefore, the greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness. This love virtue of unselfishness is repeated for emphasis, and listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore this in our hearts:  “Love does not seek its own (way.)”  It may be the most basic and important of all these expressions of love is that the one who is a conduit of the love of Christ is not seeking his or her own way.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


STEP BY STEP…

January 9, 2015

“… I being in the way the Lord led me…”   (Genesis 24:27)

When we discover the context of these words of Scripture we realize they are teaching us a principle of how God often works in the lives of His people. It is easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary. God can sometimes steer us more easily when we are moving. That’s why we will find that one step frequently leads to the next step when we have faith to be led by the Holy Spirit.

The words above were spoken by Abraham’s servant who was commissioned by Abraham to travel to the land of his people to find a wife for Isaac. As he journals the events of his search he writes that while he was in the way the Lord led him he encountered the family of Rebekah. When he met her he knew that his search had ended.

We who are committed followers of Christ were commissioned two thousand years ago to go to all nations and make disciples for Jesus Christ. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Like the servant of Abraham, as we embark on the adventure of obeying our great commission, we should expect that each step will lead to the next step.

We don’t always have to know where the road leads as long as we know it is the right road. While we are in the way our Lord has commissioned us to go we must have the faith to take that first step and then, one step at a time, expect our Lord to show us His will about the next step.

Dick Woodward, 28 July 2009


Hurting Hearts

January 7, 2015

“… who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  (2 Corinthians 1:4)

The Apostle Paul has just experienced life threatening persecution when he was stoned in Lystra.  As he describes that experience for the Church in Corinth he gives them (and us) a perspective on suffering.  He writes that there is a kind of suffering that drives us to God and there is a quality of comfort that can only be found in God when the level of our suffering drives us to Him.

According to Paul, an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”  A hurting heart that has discovered the comfort that can only be found in God is “one hurting heart telling another hurting heart where the Comfort is.”

As a pastor when I met grief stricken parents who had lost a child, since I had never suffered that loss I sent a couple to comfort them who had lost a child and found the comfort of God to help them.  Any time your heart is hurting because God has permitted you to suffer, realize that you are being given a credential by God.  As you find the comfort that is to be found in God you are now qualified to point any person with that same problem to the comfort you discovered when you had that hurt in your heart.

Although you will not answer all of the “why” questions until you know as you are known, are you willing to let this perspective bring some meaning and purpose to your suffering?

Or would you rather choose to waste your sorrows?

Dick Woodward, 10 March 2012


A New Perspective

January 2, 2015

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 1:6)

This is second day of a new year.  A friend informed me that he no longer makes New Year’s resolutions.  When I asked why he said, “My willpower is nearly always out of power.”

The Apostle Paul’s favorite Church was the Church he planted at Philippi.  Having brought scores and scores of people to faith in Christ in that city, he finds himself in prison and unable to have any physical contact with them.  As their pastor he cannot use his powers of reason and persuasion or his spiritual gifts of wisdom, preaching and teaching.  Yet he has an unwavering confidence that they will continue in their faith until Jesus Christ returns.

This confidence is not based on them or on himself.  He believes his positive and upbeat perspective about them because he knows that the One Who began a miraculous work in them will complete what He has started.

The word “perspective” means “to look through to the end.” At the starting gate of a New Year it’s so very important to have healthy perspective.  I’m not thinking about willpower driven resolutions but spiritual goals that only the risen, living Christ can make doable.  I’m talking about what you would like to see Christ do in your life this year.

I have recently learned a new formula for setting goals.  In the context I have established, let the letters BHAG stand for Big, Hilarious, Audacious, Goals.  As you set goals for the New Year make them big enough to let Christ in.  Watch Him work because you have set goals that only He can accomplish!

Dick Woodward, 04 January 2011


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