Whatever It Takes!!

August 23, 2016

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

We have now finished the Summer Olympics in London and here in America our version of football began last week.  One of our American football teams has a slogan posted in conspicuous places around their training center.  It is simply these three words: “Whatever It Takes!”  The meaning: every member of the team pledges, “I will do whatever it takes to win!”

In the verses quoted above Paul is referring to the way Olympic athletes from his time trained and disciplined their bodies.  They sacrificed whatever it took in discipline and preparation with one goal in mind: to win.

While they did this to win a prize that does not last we should train and discipline ourselves that we might win a prize that is eternal.  As we run the race of our ministry we should have a strategy and a race plan.  When we fight the good fight of faith we should have a fight plan.  While we observe the way athletes train and do whatever it takes to win we should do whatever it takes to win the real race and fight the real fight.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to win the race and fight the fight of faith today?

Dick Woodward, 09 September 2012


Finding Joy and Peace

August 19, 2016

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”  Philippians 4:4

Misery is optional even though pain and suffering are inevitable.  Those words were written by a man who lives with excruciating pain every day.  How can misery be optional for someone in pain? How is it Paul can mention joy 17 times in a short letter he wrote from prison?

For those who experience and express the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who have a relationship with the risen, living Christ, there is a joy that is not controlled by circumstances.

The peace Paul experienced and prescribes for you and me can be called the peace that doesn’t make good sense.  It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) The joy of which Paul writes can be called the happiness that doesn’t make good sense.  This is true because this peace and joy are the fruit and evidence of the Spirit Who lives in us and they are not controlled by our circumstances.  What is the foundation of that joy? According to Paul, that foundation is the Lord.  We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find our joy in Him at all times.

What is the foundation of your serenity and joy? If it’s your spouse, children or special human being with whom you have a relationship, then the foundation of your serenity is very fragile. There is no relationship on earth you cannot lose.

If the foundation of your serenity and joy is your health and athleticism, I bear witness to the sad reality that you have an extremely fragile foundation for your peace and happiness. Thousands of people, who had a physical orientation around which their lives revolved before illness or injury destroyed that foundation, will join me in warning you that health, athleticism and youth are fragile foundations for joy and happiness.

Jesus commended Mary when her sister Martha was upset because she chose to sit at His feet and hear His Word rather than help with dinner preparations. With much love for Martha, Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the good part that will never be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

When Paul writes his words about joy, he agrees with what Jesus told Martha about Mary, and he directs us here to a foundation for serenity and joy that is not fragile:  “Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”

Like Mary, you should prioritize a regular structured time in the Word of God before you enter into the rush and whirlwind of another day in the marketplace.  Time in the Word is like sitting at the feet of Jesus.  The communion with Him you can experience will never be taken away from you.  It will set your sail for whatever adverse winds may blow against you that day.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 188-190)


Priorities Target Bull’s Eye

August 13, 2016

“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Picture your priorities as a target with a bull’s eye surrounded by a dozen circles.  As you think and pray about your priorities, what would you call the bull’s eye of your priority target?  Once you have determined that, how would you label the dozen circles that surround your bull’s eye?

Great men of God like Paul could reduce their priorities down to one thing.  Paul’s one thing was to forget what is behind and strain forward to win the prize at the end of the race.  That prize was what God was calling him to do.

Can we reduce the forty eleven things that are spreading us thin down to one thing?  If we were to do so what would that one thing be?  Sometimes there is great wisdom in forgetting the things that are behind.  Then there are times when there is even greater wisdom in determining our one thing type of goal for the future.  How do we do that?

One way is to consider what we might call “eternal values.”   None of the things we are going to leave behind when God calls us home are worth living for while we are here.  Jesus told us: “This is… life, that they may know You … and Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3).

Is knowing God and Christ an eternally focused bull’s eye for our priority target?  Think of how that priority focus will dramatically affect the dozen circles that surround it when our life becomes an expression of the life of God and the risen living Christ.

Dick Woodward, 13 January 2012


Unconditional Grace

August 9, 2016

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.”  (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This verse is not teaching the random chaos of life. This verse instead parallels a truth emphasized in the Bible and expressed by the word ‘grace.’  The truly significant events in the life of a believer are the result of grace and not the results of self effort.  The charisma of God upon the work of your hands will make the difference between your life having eternal significance and your life’s work amounting to wood, hay and stubble in the eternal state (1Corinthians 3:12-15; Psalm 90:17).

The writings of the Apostle Paul are filled with an emphasis upon the concept of grace.  The word grace means ‘unmerited favor.’

The blessing of God upon us is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. The grace of God and the love of God are unconditional. When you understand the meaning of the word grace which is found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it follows that the race is not to the swift or strong or wise or skilled…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created  in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:8-10

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook, p.428


Highways for God

August 6, 2016

“Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!”  (Isaiah 40:3)

In ancient times if a king wanted to travel to a faraway province of his kingdom a highway would be built for him.  Working on that project they called it, “The Kings Highway.”  Isaiah is using that metaphor to say that God is going to travel into this world on a Highway that is the life of the Messiah.

When you build a highway you do four things: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and smooth out rough places.  In the life of God’s Son, the Messiah, the mountains of pride will be completely leveled, the empty valleys will be perfectly filled with the Holy Spirit all the time, the crooked ways of sin will be perfectly straightened, and He will respond to the rough places in a way that will bring glory to His Father and salvation to the world.

After spending three years 24/7 with His disciples, Jesus challenged them that in precisely the way His Father had sent Him into the world, He was sending them into the world (John 20: 21).  One of many practical applications to that challenge for them, and for us, is that our life is also to be a highway for God.

I challenge you, in fact I dare you, to pray this prayer: God, make my life a highway for You!”  If you do this, don’t be surprised when God’s spiritual bulldozers show up in your life leveling your mountains of pride and filling your emptiness with the Holy Spirit, making straight your crooked places and smoothing out your rough places.

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2011


LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!!!!

August 2, 2016

“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1John 4:21)

In this love chapter of the Bible, John gives us 10 reasons we must love.  His last reason is that we have been given a commandment by Jesus that we are to love one another.  When Jesus was about to leave the apostles by way of His death on the cross, He gave the apostles this New Commandment.

Jesus explained in that same setting that this would only be possible because He was sending the Holy Spirit.  He used a word for the Holy Spirit that means: “One who comes alongside of you and attaches Himself to you for the purpose of assisting you.”

In our culture the concept of a commandment is lost for many people because we are so democratic in our values.  The closest we come to understanding the meaning of this word is in our military training.  When my youngest brother was in training for the Marines the order was given that the smoking lamp was out – which meant no smoking.  In defiance he lighted a cigarette.  His Marine drill instructor ordered him to bury that cigarette in a grave six feet deep.

When he reported to the drill instructor all covered with mud and sweat, the instructor asked if he had buried the cigarette pointing north and south or east and west?  When he wasn’t sure he was told that he had to do it again the next day and make sure it pointed north and south.  The next time the no smoking order was given do you think he lighted another cigarette?

Do you get the full weight of the commandment that we must love one another?

Dick Woodward, 06 August 2010


Burning into the Light of Christ

July 27, 2016

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

The applications of our Lord’s metaphors are almost endless.  One application to the metaphor above is that for our candle to give light it must be consumed.  Unlighted candles are not consumed, but the candles that shine are the candles that burn.  There is no shining without burning.

In another great metaphor Jesus told us there is no such thing as a fruitless disciple.  We are like branches and He is the Vine.  As branches, if we are properly intersected with Jesus, we can draw from Him the life force to be fruitful.  He promised if we are plugged into Him and are fruitful we will be cut back and pruned to be made more fruitful.  Cutbacks and pruning can really hurt.  They can come in the form of suffering, but they improve the quality and the quantity of our fruit.

In light of these very clear teachings we should not be surprised when we find ourselves burning through suffering that our brightest light for Christ yields the best fruit.

Like many others I thought my most fruitful years were when I was able bodied and active.  But I have been joyfully surprised to discover that my most fruitful service for Christ has been as a bed fast quadriplegic.  Using voice activated computer software from my bed, 782 Bible studies have been produced and are being heard in 31 languages in 60 countries.  Worldwide more than 45,000 small groups are listening to our Scripture studies on solar powered digital audio players I call “God pods.”

Have you discovered there is no shining without burning?

Dick Woodward, 09 August 2013


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