Temple Maintenance

January 25, 2017

“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal…”  I Kings 19:18

The great prophet Elijah reached the zenith of his career when he challenged the people of God to stop being spiritual schizophrenics. He asked them to decide if the Lord was God or if the false Baal was God. When that happened on Mount Carmel, they experienced a great revival and committed themselves to serving the true and living God. (I Kings 18)

The very next day we read these words about Elijah: “But he went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die.” (I Kings 19:12)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. The drastic changes we see in him between chapters 18 and 19 are due to many things, but one factor is that Elijah neglected what I call Temple Maintenance. When I was out jogging, I told my children if anyone called to tell them their father was doing temple maintenance. As a pastor that sounded like something official around the church. The Apostle Paul tells us that our bodies are the temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17) Therefore, anything we do to maintain our bodies could be described as temple maintenance. If we neglect our temple maintenance, it can have serious consequences for our health and ministry.

Observe in that dramatic victory Elijah won on Mount Carmel all the physical stress and effort he put out that day. He dug a deep ditch around that altar and filled it with water. Have you ever dug a deep ditch? …At the end of that long day, he ran in front of a chariot for 17 miles. Our hero must have been completely exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The physical dimension of our lives directly affects our mental, emotional and even spiritual perspectives. The word neurotic has been defined as ‘thoughts and feelings for which there is no basis in fact.’ Elijah obviously allowed his physical stresses to affect him mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We know all his blubbering about being the only true servant of the Lord was neurotic when God made him know there were 7,000 faithful servants like him, who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.147-151)

Editor’s Note: My father had bright blue and yellow jogging suits emblazoned with “Temple Maintenance” he wore in the 1970s running up and down the boardwalk in Va. Beach, VA. (My younger brother & I counted his ‘laps’ for him.)  After 30 subsequent years of quadriplegia, we can imagine him now running (or gliding?) around the streets of Heaven with new spiritual legs, engaging in a little celestial Temple Maintenance.


A Blueprint against Burn Out

January 10, 2017

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He Who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27)

There are times when God’s people are so weak we don’t know how to pray. In effect, Paul teaches that when we are burned out and we don’t know what to ask God, we should pray anyway. The Spirit of God knows the mind and will of God. When we are so weak we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit will make intercession for us according to the will of God. Then, even if we ask for the wrong things, our loving Heavenly Father will give us the right things.

Imagine the stress Moses endured all those years in wilderness wanderings. With more than 600,000 fighting men, plus women and children, meant that Moses led somewhere between two and three million people around in circles in the desert. He was the only legal judge to settle all their squabbles. His frustration reached the level of exasperation. He was so burned out, he actually asked God to kill him. (Numbers 11:11-15)

When Moses asked God to kill him, he was so weak and tired of he did not know what to pray. He prayed anyway. Even though he asked for the wrong things, God knew his heart and gave him the right things. God made Moses know that His work requires a team effort. Serving God is a team sport.

The marketplace can burn you out big time if you have not learned that running a business is a team sport. Other players on your team have gifts and skill sets that you do not have and you have what they do not have. Therefore, it is a good blueprint against burnout to accept the reality of beauty in diversity. Diversity should be celebrated rather than resolved.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 144-146)


A Prescription for Burnout

January 30, 2015

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory.  And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

Jesus goes to a wedding and when they run out of wine, He creates more wine. In addition to the record of a miracle, this story is a formula for regeneration and a prescription for renewal.  There is tired and there is tired of.  Disciples of Jesus not only get tired – they get tired of.  We call this “burnout.”

I’m convinced this first miracle presents a prescription for burnout.  If you are experiencing the need of renewal consider this prescription.  Mary tells Jesus they have no wine.  Since wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible let this represent your confession that you need renewal because you are tired of, dry, and burned out.

Then block out some time to fill your human vessel with the Word of God as symbolized by the vessels being filled with water.  While you are filling up on the Word of God do whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do.  Then realize that your renewal is not just to give you an experience, it is for the benefit of those God wants to touch and bless using you as His channel.

Let these four principles we learn from this miracle that first brought glory to Jesus and faith to His disciples bring renewal to you as you serve Jesus.  Our Lord often invited His apostles to come apart and rest awhile.  If you don’t come apart to rest at times and take this prescription of Jesus for your burnout – you will come apart.

Let Jesus turn your water into wine. 

Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011


A Bush Aglow

November 15, 2013

“Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it didn’t burn up.  Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up?” (Exodus 3: 2, 3 NLT)  

These verses are taken from a familiar passage that describes the call of Moses.  I love this story because it is the greatest illustration in the Bible of what I call 4 Spiritual Secrets:

I’m not but He is.
I can’t but He can.
I don’t want to but He wants to.
I didn’t but He did.

Applying the Secrets to Moses, he was not the deliverer of God’s people from their awful slavery and suffering in Egypt.  God was their Deliverer.  Moses could not deliver them but God could.  Based on his objections we know Moses did not want to deliver those people.  God wanted to deliver them.  When the Red Sea parted and the people of God marched through on dry ground nobody had to tell Moses: “You didn’t do that.” He knew, “God did that!”

The primary detail in this story is often overlooked.  God got the attention of Moses when a bush burst into flame and was not consumed!  In the extreme heat of the desert this often happens, but a burning bush is always consumed in about five seconds.  The miraculous reality that the bush was not burning up moved Moses to turn aside and see how to be a vehicle of deliverance.

Epidemic addiction issues exist today that have millions looking for deliverance. There is also epidemic burnout among those who serve the Lord.  As servants of God we need to turn aside with Moses and see how to be a “Bush Aglow” on fire for the Lord, without burning up or burning out, as conduits of God’s deliverance.


A Prescription for Renewal

November 16, 2011

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory.  And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2: 11)

Jesus goes to a wedding and when they run out of wine, He creates more wine. In addition to the record of a miracle, this story is a formula for regeneration and a prescription for renewal.  There is tired and there is tired of.  Disciples of Jesus not only get tired – they get tired of.  We call this “burnout.”

I’m convinced this first miracle presents a prescription for burnout.  If you are experiencing the need of renewal consider this prescription.  When Mary tells Jesus they have no wine, since wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible let this represent your confession that you need renewal because you are tired of, dry, and burned out.

Then block out some time to fill your human vessel with the Word of God as symbolized by the vessels being filled with water.  While you are filling up on the Word of God do whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do.  Then realize that your renewal is not just to give you an experience, it is for the benefit of those God wants to touch and bless using you as His channel.

Let these four principles you can learn from this miracle that first brought glory to Jesus and faith to His disciples bring renewal to you as you serve Jesus.  Our Lord often invited His apostles to come apart and rest awhile.  If you don’t come apart at times and take this prescription of Jesus for your burnout – you will come apart.  Let Jesus turn your water into wine.  That will bring glory to Jesus and make a restored believer out of you!