#FAITH : PERSPECTIVE AND VISION

September 15, 2020

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)

When you break down the word perspective, it literally means “to look through.” (Per = through, specto = look.) The expression tunnel vision is a good paraphrase for perspective. People with tunnel vision see their objective clearly, oblivious to obstacles and distractions that could hinder accomplishing goals and objectives.

Jesus showed us the importance of our perspective when He told us our lives can be filled with joy or darkness. Those two opposites are determined by our “eye” – how we see things.

One of the most important questions is: “How do you see things?”

According to Jesus, if the way you see things is healthy and whole, your life will be filled with joy and light. If your perspective is not healthy, your life will be filled with darkness and depression.

God liked to ask Old Testament prophets: What do you see, Elijah? What do you see, Ezekiel? What do you see, Jeremiah? 

The Old Testament is filled with stories of godly people who distinguished themselves because when God asked them that question they saw what God wanted them to see.

Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) A discerning spiritual leader added these words: “Where there is no plan, the vision perishes.” As the eagle has binocular and monocular vision, we must have a vision which continuously holds in perspective the long view of what God wants to do through us.

We must also have a plan that gives us a monocular vision perspective to keep our vision from perishing as we move forward.

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


#FAITH: THE DEEP LOVE OF GOD

September 11, 2020

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

After World War II a devout woman named Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her:

“There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”

When the suffering of Job brought him to the bottom of a pit of despair, he received this great Messianic revelation: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given Corrie ten Boom and Job. God made Jeremiah know this truth about the deep love of God when Jeremiah’s weeping bottomed out in his grotto:

“I have never stopped loving the people of Judah!”

The unconditional love of God is taught from Genesis to Revelation. It is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. Meditating on God’s revelation to Jeremiah, I am deeply inspired that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved His people.

Millions have affirmed this great truth while singing the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College OT Handbook (p.501)


#FAITH – A Stormy Weather Question

September 8, 2020

“And a great windstorm arose…but He said to them, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’…and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:35-40)

If you read the story referenced above (in Mark 4), you will see that Jesus directed His disciples to get in their boat and cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. On this sea crossing a great storm fell upon them.

The disciples woke Jesus with the question, “Don’t you even care that we (including Him) are all going to drown?” After turning the great storm into a great calm Jesus asked them a piercing question, “How is it that you have no faith?”

Jesus had taught them that He was the King of the Kingdom of God and they were subjects in that Kingdom. Did they really think all of this was going to come to an end at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee?

One translation renders His great question “Do you not even yet believe in me?” Another puts it: “When are you going to get some faith?”

Before we are too hard on the apostles, let’s apply the essential truth of this story to ourselves. Jesus has promised He will take us to the other side of this life to the next dimension called heaven. While we are on that journey if a great storm falls upon us, do we believe that storm declares His promises null and void?

Or do we have the quality of faith that can turn a great storm into a great calm?

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2011


#FAITH – The Therapy of Thanksgiving

September 4, 2020

“In everything … with thanksgiving tell God every detail of your needs … And the peace of God which transcends human understanding will stand guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

As I have tried to apply what Paul prescribes in the verses quoted above, I have found this prescription for peace to be one of the most helpful spiritual disciplines. According to Paul, an attitude of gratitude leads to the therapy of thanksgiving as we apply thanksgiving to our stressful circumstances.

Be sure to make the observation that Paul does not prescribe giving thanks for all things. He instructs us to give thanks in all things.

When we do this it automatically moves our mindset from the negative to the positive. The apostle promises that the peace of God will protect and stand guard (like the soldiers chained to Paul as he writes these words) over our hearts and minds as they rest and trust in Christ Jesus.

We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with thanksgiving. If we do, we will find this response to be God’s prescription that will bring peace to help us rise above our circumstances.

When a pastor asked one of his members how he was doing, his response was, “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.”

The pastor responded “Whatever are you doing there?”

The therapy of thanksgiving leads us out from under our circumstances and into the peace of God.

Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009


#FAITH : Temple Maintenance

September 1, 2020

“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 I Kings chapters 18 and 19 are due to many things, but one factor is that Elijah neglected what I call Temple Maintenance.

Before my quadriplegia when I went jogging, I told my children if anyone called to tell them their father was out doing temple maintenance. For 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 can 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. 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 also 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 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


Jonah: God’s Love & Compassion for ALL!

August 28, 2020

 “…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:2-4)

The message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people!

The Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people. If you come to the book of Jonah looking for truth, you will find at the heart of this book a loving God Who values people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.

Jonah demonstrates that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants. The people of God, you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation in this world.

When the people of God are prejudiced, they become obstacles that block God’s love and salvation in this world.

If God loves Ninevites, and Jonah hates Ninevites, how can God express love and salvation for them when Jonah is hung up on his prejudice?

Did you observe Jonah did not answer God’s last question?

To put the best possible spin on this, I would like to think Jonah’s silence this time was because, when Jonah finally saw the truth of God’s love and compassion even for wicked people, he was humbled.

When your mind and spirit experience a personal revelation of the love and grace of God, which are not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance, you will be humbled, too.

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

#hope #love #faith #inspiration #grace #mercy


#Grace: The Gift of God

August 25, 2020

“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 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

#faith #hope #love #grace #belief #inspiration


#FAITH: Yours is the Glory

August 21, 2020

“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…”  (Matthew 6:9-13)

As we face the challenges of life every day, we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God.

When I have entered a challenging day, I have confessed thousands of times in my journey of faith and ministry, “I can’t, but God can.” Jesus prescribes the mandate (in the Disciples’ Prayer) we are to confess to God that the results of our answered prayers are in place because the power of God has worked in answer to our prayers.

We are to conclude our prayers by essentially confessing, “Yours is the glory.”

When we apply this third providential benediction to our prayers, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but God did, all the glory goes to God.” 

Along with our confessions about the kingdom and power of God, Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers by making this solemn commitment to God: the glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayers will always go to You.

The essence of this benediction is: “Because the power will always come from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

“Amen” simply means, “So be it!”

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Prayer

#prayer #hope #love #Jesus #glory #grace


The Lord is My Shepherd (But?)

August 18, 2020

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” (Psalm 23)

These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible beloved by devout people everywhere. According to this Shepherd Psalm of David, the key to the real blessings of this life and the next is a relationship with God.

The green pastures, still waters, table of provision, God’s blessing of anointing oil and cup that runs over all the time are all conditioned on our relationship with God. That relationship is established in the second verse of Psalm 23 when David writes, “He makes me to lie down.”

However, the spirit in which we recall these words is often something like this: “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I have a health problem.” Or, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I have marriage problems!” Or, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I cannot control my children.”

When we say, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but” we are putting our “but” in the wrong place. We need to get our “but” in the right place and recall the precious promise of these words this way: “I have a health problem, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I have marriage problems, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I cannot control my children, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd!”

One way the Lord makes us lie down is to use all kinds of problems to teach us about the relationship with God which is key to all the blessings profiled in Psalm 23.

Will you let the Great Shepherd use whatever challenges you are facing to establish the deeper relationship with God David described so beautifully three thousand years ago?

Dick Woodward, 14 August 2008

#Faith #Hope #Love #Prayer #Psalm23 #Inspiration


#Faith & Sacred Individuality

August 14, 2020

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father…” (Luke 16:17-18)

The dictionary defines self as “the uniqueness, the individuality of any given person, which makes them distinct from every other living person.” In all its forms “self” emphasizes the sacred individuality God intended for every human being.

Robert Lewis Stephenson wrote: “Soon or late, every person must sit down to a banquet of consequences.” In the parable of the prodigal son, the banquet of consequences the son sat down to was the slop he was feeding hogs in a hog pen. That was just about as low as a Jewish boy could sink in this life. (Luke 15:11-24)

In the hog pen the prodigal son made the decision many people make while they are living in the hog pens of this world. He decided that he was not a hog. He might look, and even smell, like the hogs. He might wish he could eat the slop he was feeding the hogs. But he was not a hog.

He was a son and he did not belong there, he belonged in his father’s house. He therefore made the deliberate decision to leave the hog pen and return to his father’s house and his father’s love.

Jesus described the decision of the prodigal son this way: “when he came to himself…” He came back to his self when he decided to return to his father’s love where he could be in the process of perceiving, believing and becoming the unique person his father wanted him to be.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Your Self

#hope #love #grace #mercy #Jesus #inspiration