Strategic Salt & Light

July 1, 2022

…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

In Luke 19, verses 1–10, we encounter Jesus interacting with the tax collector, Zacchaeus. The beautiful part of the Zacchaeus story is that Jesus spends His only day in Jericho with this little crook, and all the people are griping about it. It would make a great painting if an artist would paint Jesus who was a tall man, according to Josephus, walking home with His arm around small and short Zacchaeus.

Here we see the strategy of Jesus.

Jesus is passing through Jericho. He obviously wants to reach the man who can impact and reach Jericho for Him after he has passed through and beyond the city limits.

It must have made a big impact upon the city when Zacchaeus started calling in the people he had ‘ripped off.’ Imagine their surprise, joy, and awe when they, thinking he was going to get into their purses even deeper, discovered that he wanted to pay them back 400% because he had met Jesus!

This is an illustration and an application of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that the solution, the answer, the salt, the light – is something we are, and that we simply must hear His word and do it.

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook


Redeemed: Step up & Say So!

June 28, 2022

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy…” (Psalm 107:1-2)

Redemption means to get something back that has been lost. It is similar in meaning to the word “rehabilitation” which essentially means “to invest again with dignity.” The first words of Psalm 107’s marvelous hymn of redemption are quoted above. At the end of each of the five stanzas in this psalm, we are told that those who have been redeemed by the Lord should step up and say so.

Levels and dimensions of redemption are profiled in this psalm. Each description ends with the charge that we thank God for God’s goodness in redeeming us in this way.

God redeems us from our chaos when God finds us. God then redeems us from our chains when God sets us free from our sins. This is followed by the way God redeems us from our foolish and sinful choices. The psalmist emphasizes our responsibility for bringing on the consequences of our sins. The psalmist then describes the way God redeems us from our complacency by meeting us in our crises from which God redeems us when we are at our wits end and don’t know what to do.

As you meditate on these levels of redemption, ask God to continuously redeem you in all these ways. As you reflect on each dimension of redemption, step up and join the redeemed of the Lord in grateful worship. And say so!

Dick Woodward, 27 June 2012


A Prayer for Peace (in times of Crisis)

June 24, 2022

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

When I was in a very difficult situation, the prayer of Saint Francis had great meaning for me. I memorized it and prayed it every night for several months. I know you are very familiar with it but in case you don’t have a copy there, here it is:

 “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Dick Woodward (email, 2005)


Walking with Jesus: Doing & Knowing!  

June 21, 2022

This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk even as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)

In the first sixteen verses of his short letter, the Apostle John gives us a prescription for fullness in seven parts: facts, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, follow-ship, fruitfulness, and fullness.

John’s facts are the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we have faith to believe the first fact we have forgiveness. When we believe the second the result is fellowship with the risen Christ. By changing one letter in the word “fellowship” to “follow-ship,” I have come up with the key to John’s prescription for fullness: you will know that you know when you walk as Jesus walked.

This word follow-ship is also a key to the fullness emphasized by Jesus. His covenant with the apostles was “Follow Me and I will make you.” (Matthew 4:19) The most important part of the Great Commission occurred when Jesus commissioned the disciples to make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) A synonym for discipleship is apprenticeship. Jesus apprenticed the apostles and He commissioned them to apprentice disciples.

The Gospel of John Chapter 7 records a great claim of Jesus when He declared that His teaching is the teaching of God. Jesus also proclaimed we prove that when we do what He teaches. (John 7:17) According to Jesus the doing leads to the knowing. Intellectuals have claimed for millenniums that the knowing will lead to the doing, but Jesus said “When you do you will know.”

Are you willing to do that you might know the Word of God?

Dick Woodward, 18 June 2011


Father’s Day Faith

June 17, 2022

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we do not know what to do. The Scripture from Chronicles is taken from a time when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and they simply did not know what to do.

James later wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back but will provide a truckload of wisdom for us.

Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital they discovered mononucleosis and seriously infected tonsils that needed to be removed.  She concluded her litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my intelligent young daughter believed if she could just share her litany of woes and tap into the vast resources of my wisdom I could tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.

According to James that is the way we make our Heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. A good way to begin some days is: “Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on YOU!”

Dick Woodward, blog 2013

Editors Note: Blessings to all the fathers out there as we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend! For those of us who have fathers in Heaven – like my Papa – it’s comforting that our Heavenly Father is always here when we don’t know what to do.


A Prayer for Comfort

June 14, 2022

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort. For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way that we make this great discovery: God is here and God can comfort us.

There is supernatural quality of comfort that can be found in simply knowing God. When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can experience in this lifetime.

Many of us have known people we love very much who are depressed and oppressed. They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want any of the caring people in their lives to be with them. Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in self-imposed solitary confinement.

If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this discovery: God is here, and God can comfort you.

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort. Comfort me in my pain.

When I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are here, You are real, and You can comfort me. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dick Woodward


God’s Business vs. Our Business

June 10, 2022

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful… And what do you have that you did not receive? (1 Corinthians 4:2,7)

The biblical word “steward” is not fully understood or appreciated. It is actually one of the most important words in the New Testament. A synonym for this word is “manager.” Many people believe this word primarily relates to a person’s money, but that application falls far short of the essential meaning of this word.

When Paul asks the probing question, “And what do you have that you did not receive?” he is telling us that our stewardship applies to everything we have received from God. This means our time, energy, gifts and talents, our health and all the things that make up the essence of our very lives, including all of our money and possessions.

At the age of 65 one of my best friends had what he refers to as a “halftime” experience when he came to fully appreciate this word “steward.” His regular custom was to draw a line down the middle of a legal pad page. On the left side of that line he wrote “My business” while on the right side of the line he wrote “God’s business.”

When he fully appreciated this word “steward” he erased that line because, as a wealthy businessman, he realized it was all God’s business.

Remember, the important thing about a steward is that we be found faithful. Do you realize there is nothing in your life you did not receive from God? Do you know that you are to faithfully manage everything you have received from God?

Are you willing to erase the line between what is yours and what is God’s?

Dick Woodward, 10 June 2010


Holy Spirit PATIENCE!

June 7, 2022

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)

Patience is part of Paul’s prescription for peace in Philippians. Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights.

Why is patience such an important virtue?

For starters, patience is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit we find listed in the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, one of the ways the Spirit manifests in us is through a supernatural quality of patience.

In the Bible we are continuously exhorted to “Wait on the Lord.” In our relationship with God we might call patience “faith waiting.” Nothing will test and grow our faith like waiting. When we think God is not responding to our prayers, it may be that what God is doing in us while we are waiting – like growing the virtue of patience in us – is more important than that for which we are waiting.

In our relationships with people, patience can be called “love waiting.” I have found that the Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in us. He wants to grow “vertical patience” in us by teaching us to have a faith that waits. And He is growing “horizontal patience” in us by teaching us that in relationships, love waits.

Love is the first and primary virtue through which the Holy Spirit wants to express the life of Jesus Christ in us.

While impatience is a “peace thief,” vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural, God-given virtues that maintain the peace of God in our lives.

Dick Woodward, 09 June 2009


The Power of Pentecost: An Eagle Perspective

June 3, 2022

“He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increases strength… But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

When the power of Pentecost came upon the apostles, there was a noise like a mighty rushing wind. As we read in the New Testament book of Acts how the apostles received the power of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and began implementing the Great Commission amidst severe persecution, we should think of the eagle leaping off its nest directly into adverse winds to rise and soar above the storm enveloping it.

As you see in your mind’s eye the eagle sitting on the side of its nest, waiting for the velocity of the wind to become strong, you have a metaphor that allegorizes an important expression found many times in the Old Testament: “Wait on the Lord.”

It means we are not to go charging ahead without clear direction from the Lord. We are to wait on the Lord. We are exhorted to follow the example of an eagle by waiting until the wind of the Spirit is here to direct, support and empower us.

Then we should follow the eagle’s example and take the leap of faith off our nests directly into the adversity that is challenging us. As the power of the Holy Spirit drives us into the strong winds of a storm, the energizing unction of the Holy Spirit will give us the spiritual aerodynamics we need to lift up and soar over it.

Dick Woodward, from As Eagles: How to be an Eagle Disciple


Jonah: Let’s Go To Ninevah!

May 31, 2022

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this: “When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord.’ But God said to me, ‘I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’

I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go. I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’ The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’

When I went to Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me.” Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

…To be “prejudiced” means to “pre-judge.” Is God’s work through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth and social status? Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment? Are you joining Jonah saying, “I will not?”

When are you going to let the love and power of Christ cut through your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?”

It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

Dick Woodward, Jonah Coming & Going:True Confessions of a Prophet