#FAITH – A Prescription for Burnout

November 13, 2020

 “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. 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 – we get tired of. We call this “burnout.”

I’m convinced this first miracle of Jesus presents a prescription for burnout. If you are experiencing the need for 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 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 God’s channel.

Let these four principles we can learn from this first miracle of Jesus bring renewal as you serve Jesus. Our Lord often invited His disciples 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 brings glory to Jesus and will make a restored believer out of you!

Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011


#FAITH – TROPHIES OF GRACE

November 10, 2020

 “… through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2)

In this verse the Apostle Paul identifies additional levels of grace. Having written that we are justified by faith, Paul declares that we also have access by faith to grace that makes it possible for us to stand in a hostile world and live a life that glorifies God.

This access to grace makes it possible for us to enter into living grace and keeping grace.

There was a long poem that described a debate in heaven between two men who died in their nineties. They debated which man was the greatest trophy of grace. One lived a terribly sinful life. On his deathbed he was led to salvation. He, therefore, considered himself a greater trophy of grace than the other man.

The second man had been the son of a pastor. He came to faith as a child and never wavered. He studied to become a pastor. In that role he led many to Christ and was a faithful shepherd for nearly 60 years.

The debate lasted for many years, but when the angels were asked to vote on the matter they decided the pastor’s son was the greater trophy of grace. The first man experienced saving grace but the second man experienced keeping grace and living grace.

We sometimes give young people the impression that it is better to live a sinful life and then experience a dramatic conversion. However, there is nothing good about a life of sin. We are a greater trophy of grace when we do not fall into sin.

Dick Woodward, 10 November 2009


#FAITH – A Bush On Fire!

November 6, 2020

“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)

These verses are taken from a passage that describes the call of Moses. I love this story because it is a great 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 4 Spiritual Secrets to Moses, he was not the deliverer of God’s people from their 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 them, God wanted to deliver them. 

When the Red Sea parted and the Israelites 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 extreme desert heat this often happens, but a burning bush is usually consumed in about five seconds. The miraculous reality that the bush was not burning up moved Moses to become 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 love and deliverance.

Dick Woodward, 15 November 2013


#FAITH – PERSEVERING STICKABILITY

October 30, 2020

 “Let us rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

If you study these verses in the original language, you will discover Paul is essentially saying this: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces the quality of character that will not run when things get difficult.”

The Greek word Paul used for character conveys a meaning similar to patches military personnel wear that show they have been tested and proven in a specific area. Paul told us suffering produces endurance, and receiving from God the grace to endure our suffering produces proven character.

When you have been tested and proven, the caliber of character that testing produces is often grown in the soil of suffering.

Paul also writes that proven character leads to confidence and hope. When you have developed character that perseveres, you will not be put to flight. I learned that one of the most important abilities missionaries need is stickability. Can you go to a foreign culture, and stay for fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years? Can you live out your life there as a fragrance of Christ, an irrefutable statement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ even when people dislike you?

Most missionary work is living Christ until people “see Christ in your mortal flesh,” to borrow the words of one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. (2Corinthians 4:11)

…Perseverance is stickability: the ability to hang in there, and keep hanging in there. That is how an orange gets to be an orange; it just keeps hanging in there until it becomes an orange.

Dick Woodward, 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


#FAITH – What does It Mean to Confess?

October 2, 2020

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9)

In the original Greek language, what we translate as confess is a compound Greek word: to say and the word for sameness.  It literally means to say the same thing God says, or to agree with God.

If you know the Word of God and are in the Spirit enough to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, you can know what Jesus says and how He feels about what you have done. Your confession is to agree with Him. Our responsibility is to agree with Him. He does all the rest.

Jesus knows when we are lost. Because He loves us He very much wants us to agree with Him that He might recover us and lead us to green pastures, still waters, His table of provision and a full cup that never empties.

That’s why He wants us to confess our sins and start climbing in the right direction spiritually.

He is not a divine policeman with a huge club just waiting to crack us over the head when we step out of line. The ministry of Jesus is summed up in the Gospel of Luke this way: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

That Gospel shows us in beautiful ways the blessings that come into the lives of lost people because Jesus finds them and leads them to the blessings of His Love and salvation.

Dick Woodward, 12 October 2012


Alignment: Our Will and God’s Will

September 29, 2020

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

In this chapter (Isaiah 55) the great prophet Isaiah tells us why he preaches the Word of God. Earlier in this chapter he proclaimed that there is as much difference between the way we think and how God thinks as the heavens are high above the earth.

Isaiah tells us he preaches 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 His greatest prayer when He sweat drops of blood and prayed, “Not My will but Your will be done.” He taught His disciples and us to pray, “Your will be done in earth (and in our earthen vessels) as it is in heaven.”

The Bible frequently describes the struggle between God and men like Moses, Job, Jonah, and others who finally submit their will 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 the purpose God had in mind.

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

Dick Woodward, 28 September 2010


Living IN CHRIST

September 25, 2020

“Wrapped in a bundle of life with God…” (I Samuel 25:29)

These words of Scripture are often found inscribed on the gravestones of children who died at an early age. This is especially true in a Jewish cemetery, because many Jewish mothers believe these words express the inexpressible feelings in their hearts as they lay their children to rest.

As Christians we can also inscribe these words on the gravestones of our children and adult loved ones. “Wrapped in a bundle of life with God” should bring comfort and consolation as we think of those we have lost through sickness and death.

However, if we will think about it, these words can also be applied to our loved ones while they are living. The most exciting truth in the New Testament is presented in just two words: “In Christ” (or “In Him.”)

Jesus told the apostles that after His death and resurrection He would give them the divine presence of the Holy Spirit. They would then be “in Him” the way a branch is in a vine.

That means all of us can be wrapped in a bundle of life with Christ as we live our lives in this world. What an exciting concept! Jesus told the apostles, and you and me, all about this in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.

He even told us how to abide in Him and experience the miracle of Him abiding in us. Jesus told us we can abide in Him and He will abide in us if we abide in His Word.

I challenge you that if you abide in His Word today, you will find yourself wrapped in a bundle of life with God!

Dick Woodward, 23 September 2010


#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


#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