#FAITH: Christmas Negligence

December 10, 2019

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

After the Angel Gabriel visited the priest Zechariah he went to the village of Nazareth to a peasant girl named Mary. When Angel Gabriel told Mary she was going to be the mother of God she responded in several ways. The Scripture states very clearly that she believed and praised God. (Luke 1:45-55)

As we might well imagine, we read that she was so filled with awe the first person to question the virgin birth was the Virgin. Mary showed us that honest inquiry is not the sign of a weak faith. The verse above tells us that she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

When the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles tell us about the Christmas that shall be when Jesus Christ comes back again, they tell us that His coming is the hope of the world and the blessed hope of the church.

Hope is the conviction that something good exists in this world and we are going to experience it. Close to 30,000 people in America take their life every year because they no longer believe in something good. In other words, they end their lives when they lose hope.

Some believers are so awed by the miracle of the Second Coming they ask questions and experience a “paralysis of analysis” which is followed by much pondering in their hearts.

When we realize that we have a message of hope to tell people without hope about the Christmas that shall be, we simply must share that good news. It is Christmas negligence to have this hope and not share it with people who have no hope.

Dick Woodward, 06 December 2011


A Christmas Question: Where is He?

December 6, 2019

“… Behold, wise men …came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is He? …” (Matthew 2:2)

In the Old Testament God begins a dialogue with us by asking the question “Where are you?” The New Testament begins with wise men asking the question “Where is He?”

As we read the Old Testament, God will show us where we truly are. By the time we reach the New Testament we are ready for the question of the wise men because by then we know that we need a Savior – and we want to know where our Savior is.

Wise men and women still ask the question, “Where is He?”

The Gospel of Matthew reports that those wise men were directed to a house where they found and worshiped the young Christ Child about two years of age. By application, when we ask that question today, what are the answers we should expect to receive?

In the profound letter of the Apostle John that is found at the end of the New Testament we find these words: “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) These three words “as He is” raise the question: in what forms and in what ways can we expect to find Jesus today?

If you ask the question “Where is He?” today, I suggest that you look where a unique quality of Christ’s Love can be found. Look for where a unique quality of Christ’s Light and Truth can be found. Look where an abundant and rich quality of Life is being experienced.

If you want to know where Jesus is, look where the Light is.

Then become a conduit of that Light.

Dick Woodward, 07 December 2010


Christmas: Great Joy for ALL People

December 21, 2018

“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people!” (Luke 2:10)

A man named Tim Hansel lived every day with excruciating pain. He wrote in his book, You Gotta Keep Dancing, that “pain and suffering are inevitable but misery is optional.” That is true for a Spirit controlled disciple of Jesus. Tim also wrote “I can choose to be joyful.”

Joy is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5: 22-23) As evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, joy could be paraphrased “happiness that does not make sense.”

The derivation of the word “happiness” has to do with what happens to us. But this joy, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit living in us, is not controlled by what happens to us. That is why it does not make sense, especially to non-spiritual people.

In the very short letter the Apostle Paul wrote from prison to his favorite church, the Philippians, he used the word joy 17 times!

Appearing to the shepherds the angels explained why their declaration would bring great joy to all people: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Great joy came because the One born is the Savior. He is Christ, which is the Greek way of saying the Messiah. And He is to be our Lord.

Joy came because Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who follow Him. This joy is intended for all people, including you and me.

Are you choosing to be joyful?

Dick Woodward, 20 December 2013


Jesus: God With Us

December 18, 2018

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

The holidays are the most family-oriented weeks of the year. Yet for many – those who have no family, singles, widows and widowers, the divorced among us, and those with painful and negative family experiences – the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. As a pastor every year I had parishioners who asked me in early November to pray for them to make it through the holidays.

The hard reality is that lonely, depressed, and anxious people are lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious during the “season to be jolly” than at any other time of the year.

At the same time, the last four weeks of the year are filled with joy and happiness for millions of people and their families. Whether the holiday season is your favorite time or your most difficult time of the year, consider bringing the true meaning of Christmas to your holidays and to every day of your new year.

Try to block out the advertising blitz of the commercial Christmas. Carefully read the Christmas scriptures in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, and then read the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John.

You will see that the essence of Christmas can be described by the word incarnation. The biblical word ‘carne’ is the Greek word for ‘flesh.’ When we consider Christmas, we find ourselves face to face with the incarnation – the miracle that God decided to make human flesh God’s address when Christ was born in Bethlehem.

When asked about Jesus a little boy replied: “Jesus is God with skin on.”

Emmanuel, God with us.

Dick Woodward,  A Christmas Prescription


Seeking Jesus: Where is He?

December 11, 2018

“… Wise men came saying, “Where is he?” (Matthew 2:1-2)

Many Christmas cards tell us that wise men still seek Him. Wise men (& women) still find Him. Wise men (& women) still worship Him and give gifts to Him. We can add this observation: wise men (& women) still ask the question, “Where is He?”

If we want to know where Jesus is today we should look where Love is. Paul writes that Jesus is a specific quality of love. (1Corinthians 13:4-7) If we tap into that quality of love we will find ourselves connecting with God and discover that God is connecting with us. (1 John 4:16)

The great Christmas word is “incarnation,” meaning literally “in flesh.” (John 1:14) The Bible tells us that incarnation also means relocation. God wants to express the quality of love God is where people are hurting.  If we intentionally place ourselves where people are hurting, as we become conduits of Christ’s love that addresses their pain we will discover where Jesus is.

We must also look where the Light is. We can place ourselves where there’s spiritual darkness and ask God to pass Christ’s light through us to address the darkness.

And we should look where the Life is. The Apostle John writes that God has given us a quality of life John labels “eternal life.” (1John 5: 11-12)  We can experience this quality of life ourselves, and we can become conduits of that Life for others.

As conduits of Jesus when we go (and are) where the hurting are, there is darkness, and the quality of life is lacking – we discover by experience where He is.

Dick Woodward, 13 December 2011


Having (& sharing) Hope @ the Holidays

December 7, 2018

“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)

Do you know, or can you remember what it’s like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope? In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us three lasting eternal values in life are faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest of these values because God is love. Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God.  Hope is also one of the three great values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God.

In the heart of every human being, God plants hope, the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good will intersect our lives. That is what the author of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1)

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have Good News that can give hope to the hopeless. We must not let unbelief silence us. If we never share the Good News of the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be, we should ask ourselves, “do we really believe the Gospel of Christmas?”

Because if we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share that Good News with the people Jesus told us He came to seek and to save. (Luke 19:10) We show that we believe in the Christmas that shall be when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men, we should ask the question, “Where is He?” Seek Him until we find Him, then worship Him and give the gift of our lives to Him. Then, like those shepherds, we should tell everybody the Good News that Christmas has come – and Christmas is coming again to our world.

Dick Woodward, from A Christmas Prescription


Christmas Greetings

December 22, 2017

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)

 When the angels appeared to the shepherds, they announced they were bringing good tidings of great joy to all people – a wonderful Christmas greeting! Good tidings not just for good people, but to bring great joy to ALL people. That means all kinds of people, and all kinds of people everywhere.

Before He ascended, the last words of Jesus were: “… be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)

Some Christians live their faith as if the last words of Jesus were: “Now don’t let it get around.” They live as if the Gospel is a secret to be kept.

Never forget these two beautiful Christmas words: “All people!”

The spiritual community of those who believe and follow Jesus is not to be a secret organization. It should be a community of people who exist for the benefit of non-members.

Jesus Christ came to bring good news and great joy to people who are not good.  The Bible tells us that all of us have gone astray and turned every one of us to his or her own way. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God laid the penalty for all of our sins on His Son, Jesus. (Isaiah 53:6)

Two more great Christmas words are “mercy” and “grace.” The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve, and God’s grace lavishes on us all kinds of marvelous things we do not deserve. God’s mercy and grace give us more blessings than we can count if we have the faith to receive them.

Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011