Faith vs. Giantology

November 25, 2022

There we saw the giants … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight.”  (Numbers 13: 33)

The Old Testament book of Numbers records the death of an entire generation. Twelve spies were sent to do reconnaissance in the land of Canaan. Ten spies gave the report quoted above. Only two shared how great the land was and exhorted an invasion. Joshua and Caleb were men of great faith, but the other ten men were experts in “Giantology.

The entire generation who listened to the ten perished in the wilderness. Only two people survived one of the most tragic judgments of God recorded in the Bible. An old spiritual puts it this way: “Others saw the giants. Caleb (and Joshua) saw the Lord!” We read that they followed the Lord because they believed that the Lord is more than able to conquer the giants.

Spending most of my adult life as a pastor, I cannot help but allow the thought that the twelve spies resemble a board of Elders, a Session, a Vestry, or a board of Stewards. Sometimes when a church is facing a huge challenge two will have the faith of Caleb and Joshua, and ten will be giantologists.

We all have “giants” in our lives. As a bedfast quadriplegic with a wife in a wheelchair I certainly have mine. I’m sure you have yours. We also have choices. We can choose to see the giants and spend much time dwelling on how big they are. Or we can choose to see the Lord conquering our giants. We might call this: “Two people in a pew — which one are you?”

Are you a Caleb and Joshua with a conquering-the-giants faith, or are you getting your Ph.D. in Giantology?

Dick Woodward, 27 November 2013


FAITH: Transforming Water into Wine!

November 15, 2022

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

An allegory is a story in which people, places and things have a deeper meaning. In addition to being the record of a supernatural miracle, the story of Jesus turning water into wine is a beautiful allegory that shows us how to be born again. Carefully and prayerfully read the story. (John 2:1-11)

A first step is expressed in Mary’s words when she tells Jesus: “They have no wine.”  Wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible. This statement of Mary is like a confession. Our first step in being born again is to confess that we have no wine (joy) and we need to be born again.

A second step in this formula is when Jesus tells the servants to fill the huge thirty gallon jars with water. The Scripture is sometimes symbolized by water because of the way it cleanses. A devotional application here could therefore be that our second step toward regeneration would be to fill our human vessel with the Word of God.

A third step is pictured when Mary tells the servants to “do whatever Jesus tells you to do.” While we are filling our vessel with the Word we must do what Jesus tells us to do.

The fourth step is when Jesus tells the servants to draw out what they had just poured into the huge jars and serve it as wine. Precisely, when did the water become wine? I’m convinced it was when the servants had the faith to serve the water as wine. We are born again when we believe Jesus can turn our water into wine and show His glory through us.

Dick Woodward, 14 November 2011


Faith, Hope and…Love!!!

November 8, 2022

“There are three things that last — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.”  (1 Corinthians 13:13)

What is the greatest thing in the world? The Apostle Paul sifts his answer down to three things: hope, faith and love. Hope is the conviction that there can be good in life. God plants hope in the hearts of human beings.

Hope gives birth to faith, and faith is one of the greatest things because faith brings us to God. However, when Paul compares these two great concepts with love, without hesitation he concludes that love is the greatest thing in the world.

This is true because love is not something that brings us to something that brings us to God. When we experience the special love Paul describes we are in the Presence of God.

There is a particular quality of love that is God and God is a particular quality of love.

To acquaint us with that specific quality of love, in the middle of this chapter Paul passes love through the “prism” of the Holy Spirit that comes out on the other side as a cluster of 15 virtues. All these virtues of love are others-centered, unselfish ways of expressing unconditional love. If you study these virtues you will find in them a cross section of the love that is God – and is the greatest thing in the world.

Paul presents faith, hope and love as the greatest things because they last. Love is the greatest of the three because one day we will no longer need hope and faith when throughout eternity we will be in the Presence of Love.

Therefore, the greatest thing in the world is Love.

Dick Woodward, 08 November 2013


FAITH: A Recipe for Rest

November 4, 2022

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus loves to give invitations. He addresses this one to people who are loaded with problems and are working themselves to exhaustion trying to solve their problems. Jesus promises that if we come to Him, He will give us rest. If you look closely at this invitation He is inviting us to come to Him and learn about His heart, His burden, and His yoke. It is what we learn from Him that will lead us to rest.

Jesus wants burdened people to learn that His burden is light, His heart is humble, and His yoke is easy. There is a sense in which Jesus had the weight of the world on His shoulders and yet He claimed that His burden was light.

His burden was light because He let His Father carry the load.

The most important part of His recipe for rest is what Jesus wants us to learn about His yoke. A yoke is not a burden. It is an instrument that makes it possible to bear a burden. When a cart is piled high with cargo it is the yoke that makes it possible for an ox to pull a great load with ease.

It is the yoke of Jesus that shows us how to pull our heavy burdens of life. The yoke of Jesus is that He let His Father carry the burdens. We take His yoke upon us when we let the Holy Spirit carry the load.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2013


Facing Suffering with Faith

October 28, 2022

“…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.” (James 1:2-6)

Encountering trials in our lives will often bring us to the place where we don’t know what to do. We realize we need more wisdom than we have. When we lack wisdom we must look to God for it. In the Old Testament when the people of God fought against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was: “Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith. I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the ways of God, doesn’t it logically follow that I may not expect to always understand the way I am going?

If God gave answers to our why questions, the very essence of faith would be eliminated. God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “If you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


Facing Suffering with FAITH

October 11, 2022

“…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.” (James 1:2-6)

Encountering trials in our lives will often bring us to the place where we don’t know what to do. We realize we need more wisdom than we have. When we lack wisdom we must look to God for it. In the Old Testament when the people of God fought against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was: “Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith. I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the ways of God, doesn’t it logically follow that I may not expect to always understand the way I am going?

If God gave answers to our why questions, the very essence of faith would be eliminated. God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “If you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


#FAITH: Living IN CHRIST!!

October 7, 2022

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am indebted to E. Stanley Jones, a missionary who served in India for 50 years, for his superb daily devotional, In Christ, that showed me the importance of this phrase in the New Testament. I highly recommend his book which highlights the use of “in Christ” by New Testament writers.

According to Dr. Jones, when we think about being “in Christ” we should realize that Paul was not talking about being in religion. Few people have been more into religion than Paul before he met Jesus. Paul was so religious he fervently persecuted followers of Jesus, sure that he was pleasing God by trying to snuff them out.

It is possible to be in religion, but not be in Christ. It is possible to be in church, and not be in Christ. We can be in doctrine, or theology, and not be in Christ. We can be in the ministry and not be in Christ. We can be committed to Christ, and believe a lot of things about Christ, and still not be in Christ.

To be in Christ locates us in a Person, right now.

Unless we are ‘in Christ’ it’s like we have a powerful engine in our automobile but we cannot find the ignition key that turns the engine on. Being ‘in Christ’ is the ignition key, opening us up to experience “all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3)

Paul essentially writes: I live because Christ lives in me and I live in Christ.

Just as you sometimes cannot find the keys to your automobile, have you misplaced this critical spiritual key – are you living by and in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2013


The Word of God & The Will of God

September 30, 2022

“My Word… will achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

In this marvelous chapter taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, he tells us why he preached the Word of God. Earlier in this chapter Isaiah proclaimed that there is as much difference between the way we think and act, and how God thinks and acts, as the heavens are high above the earth. He tells us he preached the Word of God because God’s Word can bring about an alignment between the way God thinks and acts and the way we think and act.

There is a strong emphasis in the Scripture on the importance of our will being in alignment with the will of God. Jesus made one of His greatest prayers when He sweat great drops of blood and prayed, “Not My will but Your will be done.” He taught His disciples to pray, “Your will be done on earth (and in their earthen vessels) as it is in Heaven.”

The Word of God describes the struggle between God and men like Moses, Job, Jonah, and many others who finally submit their wills to the will of God – and the will of God is done in and through them on earth as it is in heaven. When God declares through Isaiah that His Word will not return to Him without accomplishing the purpose for which He sent it, I am convinced that this is one of the purposes God had in mind.

When you read and hear the Word of God proclaimed, will you let God accomplish this purpose for the Word of God? Will you let the Word of God bring about an alignment between your will and the will of God?

Dick Woodward, 28 September 2010


Jesus: Follow ME!!

September 23, 2022

“…Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

At the starting gate of their relationship with Jesus, two sets of brothers who were professional fishermen entered into a covenant with Him that came in two parts. Jesus challenged them:

“You follow Me – that’s your part. I will make youthat’s My part.

You follow Me – that’s your business. I will make you– that’s My business.”

When I was 18 years old my brother-in-law, Pastor John Dunlap, shared the Gospel with me. When I told him I couldn’t do what an authentic disciple of Jesus was required to do, he told me I didn’t have to do it by myself. Pastor John told me about this covenant Jesus established with Peter, Andrew, James and John. When I made the commitment to follow Jesus I entered into that same covenant.

Next month I will be 80 years old and I have proven that if we follow Jesus, He will make us. In other words, if we keep our part of that covenant we can trust Jesus to keep His part.

I strongly encourage you to consider entering into that covenant with Jesus. You don’t have to do all the things involved in following Him. Fact is you can’t follow Jesus in your own strength and resources. Your part is to make the commitment to follow Him and then trust Jesus to do His part. He won’t do your part and you can’t do His part. But if you follow Jesus, He will make you into who He is calling you to be.

And if someone could show you what you will be doing in 20++ years you won’t believe it!

Dick Woodward, 21 September 2010


#Faith: Acceptance & Grace

September 13, 2022

“Delight yourselves in the Lord. Yes, find your joy in Him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don’t worry over anything whatever, but tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer. And the peace of God which transcends human understanding will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:4-7, J.B. Phillips)

When I was ill with an operation on my colon, my pastor and mentor, Dr. John Dunlap, came to visit me. I had an infection and was in the hospital 21 days. I said to him, “John, if you’re here to tell me I have a malignancy, I can’t handle that today.”

He laughed and said, “You’re not dying. And so you don’t need dying grace. If you needed dying grace, God would give you dying grace.”

A year later my dear pastor John had a malignancy. He said to me right away (I was there the day he found out), “Pray for me.” He was a big guy, but a big baby when it came to toothaches or anything like that. He had one of the worst malignancies the oncologist had ever seen, but all of us, we never saw such an example of dying grace as God gave our dear pastor.

God will give you dying grace when you need it. And dying grace, really, is a supernatural anointing of the Lord that makes it possible for us to accept it. That’s what it is, really. Acceptance. That’s what Paul means by gentleness.

It’s like saying in another way, “Be patient.”  Patience, when you think vertically, is faith waiting. There are many times in our walk with God where God gives us patience, which is faith waiting. God’s got to get you out before God can bring you in.  You’ve got to keep on going, so you can get through. You’ve got to get right, so you can settle down.

“Never forget the nearness of the Lord.”

Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen Retreat, 1979)