Wheat or Weeds?

January 23, 2018

“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ ‘An enemy has done this while men slept!’ the farmer exclaimed. ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest.”  (Matthew 13:27-30)

The question “Where did evil come from?” has baffled spiritual and ethical leaders since people began to think and ask questions. People who read the Bible also ask this question – in this parable Jesus implies two answers.

During almost six decades as a pastor people often told me there are hypocrites in the church. They told me this as if they thought it never would have occurred to me, but it was no surprise to me and it would be no surprise to Jesus. In this parable He told us His church would be a mixed bag.

Jesus also instructed us that we are not to weed the garden because we cannot tell the difference between the two. We are to let both grow together until the harvest when He will separate the wheat from the weeds.

His two answers to that old question about where evil came from are: “an enemy has done this” and “while men slept.” Edmund Burke told us that all we have to do for evil to triumph is to do nothing. Jesus told us all we have to do is sleep.

The truly important questions raised by this parable are: “Are we wheat, or are we weeds?” What are we contributing to the harvest?  Are we producing more wheat or more weeds? Are we asleep?  Are we doing nothing?”

Dick Woodward, 24 January 2012


Fellowship: Making A Difference

January 19, 2018

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you… for your fellowship in the gospel…” (Philippians 1:3-5)

As Paul begins his letter to the Philippians, he uses a beautiful word when he writes: “your fellowship in the gospel.” The basic meaning of fellowship is partnership, but Sam Shoemaker paraphrased it as: “two fellows in the same ship.”

I once met with a man on the threshold of coming to faith. He had many, many problems. So, I said to him, “There is a word you’re going learn soon: fellowship. It means ‘two fellows in the same ship.’ I want you to know, Charlie, I am in the ship with you!” As he took a long drag on his cigarette, with tears in his eyes he said, “Well row, *bleep* it!”

Charlie was saying that he did not fully understand this new word, but he wanted to know what difference it was going to make. Was I just going to take up room and rock the boat, or was I going to grab an oar and row?

I have often said to others what I said to Charlie, but he added to my paraphrase of this word. After Charlie, when I said these words about fellowship I found myself asking, “What will it look like if I get in this person’s ship with them and row?”

When Jesus got in Peter’s little ship He made a difference. He filled Peter’s ship and his partner’s ship with fish. (Luke 5:1-11)

What difference does it make to others when you get in their ship with them?  Think of the difference it could make because you bring Christ with you into their ship.

Dick Woodward, 22 January 2013


Sanctified Unselfish Love

January 16, 2018

“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.

Examining “love is kind,” 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.’ “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 applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate, unconditional commitment to their happiness. They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being 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.

The key to the love that is not touchy is that the one loving is not demanding his or her way. The one who is a conduit of Christ’s love is others-centered, not self-centered.

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness.  The greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness. This love virtue of unselfishness is listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore in our hearts: “Love does not seek its own (way.)”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Lord, Save Me!

January 12, 2018

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)

The Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who ever walked on water. Yet millions only remember that he took his eyes off the Lord and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read that Peter’s magnificent faith was flawed. He saw the wind. Since we cannot see wind this means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and became afraid. The remarkable thing here is that when Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on water!

It was not until he was beginning to sink that Peter cried out this prayer. Two thousand years later, this remains a go-to prayer for us all through the many storms of life. Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and that we don’t generate grace with God by our many words. If Peter had prayed a longer prayer, the words beyond the third would have been glub, glub glub! When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname, “Little Faith.” (I believe our Lord was smiling when He did.) He literally asked Peter: “Why did you think twice?”

While very ill the past two weeks many people have been recruited to pray for me. Yesterday it occurred to me that I had not prayed for myself. I then fervently pleaded this prayer that the Lord always answers:  Lord, save me!

In your spiritual walk, don’t think twice and don’t be a “Little Faith.”  Instead, learn to plead this prayer. Soon you will find your way through life’s stormy waves walking on water.

Dick Woodward, 28 January 2014


The Prayer That Never Fails

January 9, 2018

“Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36)

Many people refer to the Disciple’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as “The Lord’s Prayer.” However, the verse quoted above should be called “The Lord’s Prayer.” The Disciple’s Prayer was given with this instruction: “When you pray, you pray after this manner.” Jesus never prayed that prayer. For example, He would not have asked God to forgive His debts or trespasses.

But Jesus did pray the prayer in Mark 14:26 that should be a model prayer for every believer. God will often call us to do things that are difficult, or even impossible. God will call us to do things we do not want to do. When that happens, we should pray this model prayer our Lord Jesus has given us.

This prayer of Jesus forms the basis for one of the Four Spiritual Secrets through which I view my faith journey: “I don’t want to, but He wants to.”  Implementing the answer to this prayer is possible because: “I’m in Him and He is in me.”

If you are facing a crisis today that involves doing God’s will, and not your own, I strongly encourage you to pray this “Prayer that Never Fails.” Realizing and believing that God can do anything God wills to do, you have the right and a responsibility to ask God to take this cup from you, but then you must finish the prayer by surrendering to the prayer that never fails.

Pray that the important thing is not what you want, but what God wants.

Dick Woodward, 28 January 2011


Letting Go & Letting God

January 5, 2018

“… 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 into a new year many of us review “these forty-eleven things I dabble in” as we consider our priorities. 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 to press toward the goal of what God wants us to do now and in the future.

The story is told of a man who fell over a cliff but managed to grab hold of a little bush 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. We may need to let go of things we cannot control. And, sometimes we need to let go of hurts that people have inflicted on us that we cannot forgive 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


In Christ: A Race Plan for 2018

January 2, 2018

“… But one thing I do… I press toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Are you entering this New Year with resolution? Can you reduce your priorities to just one thing? In the excerpts above from the writings of the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest missionaries of the church wrote that he had just one priority: “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

The great apostle often used athletic terminology in his writings. Here Paul likens life to a race and the goal at the end of this race is what God is calling him to be and do, in Christ, until he is called home to be with the Lord forever.

When athletes are pacing a race, their objective is to give everything they have to winning the race at the instant they break the tape at the end of the race. If they spend all their energy before they break that tape they will collapse before the race is over. If they have not given it all when they break the tape at the end of the race, they have not done their best to win the race. That is the race plan and life plan Paul is describing here.

As you begin your race in this New Year do you have a race plan for your life span? Are you pacing your race in such a way that when you break the tape at the end of the year you will have given it all for what God is calling you to be and do in Christ this year?

Dick Woodward, 14 January 2010