A Key to Spiritual Greatness

March 31, 2017

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:30)

Who was the greatest prophet who ever lived? According to Jesus the answer is John the Baptist (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11). After studying the Scriptures for six decades, I find that answer intriguing because there’s very little space in the Bible recording John the Baptist’s life and ministry.

As I meditate on the Scriptures that describe him, I have come to a conclusion that at least one key to John the Baptist’s greatness was that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his ability.

“…Jesus must increase, and I must decrease…”

As we attempt to discover who we are and what God wants to do through our lives, it is a good rule of thumb to accept the limits of our limitations and the responsibility for our abilities. When a degenerative disease of the spinal cord took away my physical abilities, it was critical for me to accept my increasing limitations and yet continue to be responsible for my abilities.

After two years of illness when acceptance came, it was so profound I decided it was a form of inner healing. Using speech recognition software on my computer I received God’s grace to write about ten thousand pages of the Mini Bible College. These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into 28 languages* and are used in sixty countries.

It fills me with grateful worship to realize that the formula for greatness I learned from John the Baptist has guided me to the most important work I have done for the Kingdom.

Are you willing to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your abilities?

Dick Woodward, 16 October 2012

*Editor’s Note: At last check with International Cooperating Ministries, the Mini Bible College has now been translated in 41 languages… with nine more (& counting) in translation process!


Zechariah & The Unbelief Conundrum

December 2, 2016

“But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born.” (Luke 1:20)

A teenager once asked me this thoughtful question about Christmas: “Since there was so much hype about the birth of Jesus Christ, why is it that thirty years later nobody seemed to believe in Him?  You would think everyone would have just been waiting for Him to begin His ministry!”

Actually, there were only a handful of people who knew about that first Christmas. The first one was a priest named Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth were a godly couple, very advanced in years. They had no children, but the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that they were going to have a child who would be the last of the prophets to tell us about the coming of the Messiah. Their son, whom they were to call John, would point at Jesus Christ and introduce Him to this world.

Zechariah did not believe the angel. He was therefore told that everything he had heard was going to happen, but he would be mute and unable to tell anyone until his child was born. This priest had the greatest sermon to preach: God was going to intersect human history!  But, he could not preach it because of his unbelief.

Before you are too hard on Zechariah, let me ask you a question. The New Testament tells us more than three hundred times that God is going to intersect human history a second time when Jesus Christ comes back again. Have you ever told anyone about the Christmas to be?

 Or does your unbelief shut your mouth?

Dick Woodward, 02 December 2011


Two people in a pew, which one are you?

November 29, 2016

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

The book of Numbers records the death of an entire generation. Twelve spies were sent to do reconnaissance in the land of Canaan. Ten of the spies gave a report focusing on the giants. Only two spoke of the greatness of the land and exhorted the Israelites to invade Canaan. While Joshua and Caleb were men of great faith, the other ten were experts in Giantology.

The entire generation who listened to the ten perished in the wilderness; only two people survived the most tragic judgment of God recorded in the Bible. An old spiritual put it this way: “Others saw the giants. Caleb (and Joshua) saw the Lord!” We read that they followed the Lord because they believed God well able to conquer those giants.

I have spent 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 expert giantologists.

We all have “giants” in our lives. As a bed-fast 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 talking about 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 with conquering-the-giants faith, or are you getting your Ph.D. in Giantology?

Dick Woodward, 27 November 2013


As Eagles: Preening In The Morning

May 20, 2016

“Let me hear of Your steadfast love in the morning, for in You I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.”  (Psalm 143:8)

Early every morning the eagle preens its feathers for more than an hour. Sitting on the side of its nest, the eagle passes each feather through its mouth, something like steam cleaning while depositing a liquid that makes its feathers water repellent.

This is important because eagles fish by diving under the water. The fluid deposited on their feathers also locks them together to improve their aerodynamics.  Whether an eagle is planning to fish or not, every morning for an hour they sit on the side of their nest and preen. They are not primping, they are preening – a very prudent preparation.

Like you and me, eagles never know what challenges they may face on any given day. Therefore, they preen in preparation for every possible challenge each day may hold.

Do you wake up holy in the morning? Before you’ve had your coffee? It’s possible for spiritual people to wake up holy, but if we’re honest we will concede that most of the time we don’t wake up that way.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “With your first waking moment learn to fling the door wide back and invite God in.  Then pray in private to your Father, Who is in the secret place, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.”

It is very important to make a good beginning each day. When we consider the eagle’s daily practice of early morning preening preparation, we are challenged to begin every day of our lives with spiritual preparation.

Have you preened your spirit with God’s help this morning?

Dick Woodward, (from As Eagles: How to be an Eagle Disciple)



Garden Spots: the genesis of this blog

June 2, 2014

As some of you faithful readers know, Dick Woodward needed a bit of help posting this blog. He couldn’t move anything (not even to wipe his nose) so he did all of his writing through a voice-activated computer, often painstakingly spelling out each word.  He wrote thousands of pages this way: books, Bible-study guides, pamphlets & many treasured emails to friends, family & fellow Kingdom laborers around the globe including the Editor, (a.k.a. the “Blog Posting Elf.”)

Let’s take a time-out to meet this Editor/Elf:  Virginia Woodward, Dick’s daughter, who worked many years overseas before coming home to help him. During a serious health crisis right after my return we thought Papa only had 6 months to live, but that was eight years ago – thanks be to God for the gift of life!

As an ardent reader of daily devotional books I encouraged Papa to compile his own daily book of what he called “Garden Spots” – places in the Scripture to take spiritual pause, meditating in the garden of God’s eternal truths.  Five, almost six years ago we started this blog with help from M.K. Sizemore & others toward that goal: compiling 365 blog entries that could eventually be used in a daily “Garden Spots” devotional book.  Before Papa died in March, we had posted over 400 of his blogs.

It’s taken awhile for the Blog Posting Elf to flex grieving editing muscles again.  Every week I encouraged Papa to meet his blog deadlines – usually Tuesdays & Fridays.  He would write-speak his first draft in Microsoft Word, then send it to my email for review & editing.  We then sat together in front of his big computer screen to wordsmith the final version (often with spirited editing discussions) before the Elf cut & pasted it into a blog post. Those were precious times amidst his busy schedule of appointments and all that clamored for his attention.

Now, although my father is gone, his faith-filled example and words are still with us. Many words, painstakingly spoken-typed, in many places – printed in books and pamphlets through the ministry of ICM & the Mini-Bible College, on this blog, in emails – and his spoken words that remain in our hearts & memories (& also through ICM’s audio compilations.)  By continuing this blog, I pray that Papa’s “Garden Spots” will continue to get you, dear readers, into the Word of God and more of the Word of God into you.  He always said, “the whole Word for the whole world.” That begins with each one of us as we apply the Word of God in our daily lives.

“When the sun finally drops below the horizon in the early evening, evidence of its work remains for some time. The skies continue to glow for a full hour after its departure.  In the same way, when a good or a great person’s life comes to its final sunset, the skies of this world are illuminated until long after he is out of view. Such a person does not die from this world, for when he departs he leaves much of himself behind–and being dead, he still speaks.”      Henry Ward Beecher  (Streams in the Desert.)
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Let’s keep listening to my father, Dick Woodward, as we encounter his Garden Spots together each week on this blog.
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grace, peace & spiritual Garden Spots
Virginia Woodward
(The Editor & Blog Posting Elf)

A Prescription for Climbing

October 3, 2012

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is…” (Colossians 3:1)

To follow up on the application of the second point of the jet pilot’s compass to our own compass of life we must ask: what does it mean to “climb?” Since we are all different it means different things for different folks.  For me personally it means to get deeply into the Word of God.  A holy man named Thomas a’ Kempis wrote in words of his century that he found spiritual retreat and peace in ‘a little corner with a little book.’

For you climbing could mean meeting with a mentor if you are blessed to have one.  Ideally every believer should have one but realistically very few actually have a mentor or a disciple maker.  If you are a spiritual person a short or long private retreat could be a good way to climb.  While solitude works for some, a small group could work for others.  Simply being with spiritual people is moving in the right direction.

If you love worship music, getting immersed in meaningful worship music is a good way to climb.  This of course could happen in corporate as well as a closet worship experience.

Many people climb by reading the great old souls who have left us with their great expressions and “how to’s” of worship by example and precept.  Getting deep into devotional classics is a good way to climb.  I must repeat, however, that for me nothing replaces the Word of God for climbing.

The first letter of John tells us to track with the attributes of God.  According to John if we look where the love is, where the life is, and where the light is we will find ourselves climbing big time.