Faith vs. Giantology

February 8, 2019

“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)

In the Old Testament book of Numbers we read that twelve Hebrew spies were sent into Canaan to determine the strength of the enemies they would face invading that land. Ten of the spies reported that, “The people in that land are such big and fierce looking giants they made us feel like grasshoppers. And the cities are mightily fortified with walls so thick they build houses on them!”

However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, reported that they had never seen such fruitful soil in their lives. They described how two men had to carry one cluster of grapes on a thick pole in Canaan.  Furthermore, they proclaimed that since they had the Lord with them they were well able to conquer the land of Canaan.

We might say the ten spies with the negative report were experts in “giantology” because they only saw the giants, while Caleb and Joshua saw the Lord. They had vision that the Lord was well able to give them the exceedingly fruitful land of Canaan.

When we “committee our way unto the Lord” and are challenged to take on a project that has great potential for being fruitful, but there are many obstacles and risks involved, we often have a split committee on a ten to two basis. Ten are experts on obstacles and risks involved in that project and two are like Caleb and Joshua.

When you are faced with challenges that involve risks but great potential for God, are you an expert in “giantology” or do you see the Lord?”

Dick Woodward, 11 February 2011


The Lord IS MY Shepherd

February 6, 2019

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”   (Psalm 23:1)

God created you and me to be men and women who make choices. God very much wants to be our Shepherd, but we must choose to make God our Shepherd.  We must deliberately choose to say, “baa!” and become one of the sheep of God’s pasture.

Can you declare the first five words of this great Shepherd Psalm as a personal confession of faith? Can you confess, “The Lord is my Shepherd?”

People touch me as they describe the way the Lord came into their lives, made them lie down and say, “baa!”  I am frequently concerned, however, when I fail to hear how that relationship is working in their lives today.

One of David’s most remarkable declarations in this psalm is that the blessings provided by his Shepherd-God are in place ‘all the days of my life.’

Be sure to make the observation that David’s great profession of faith is not, “The Lord was my Shepherd,” but that “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

When the Lord makes you lie down and confess, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” you are also confessing you are a sheep.

Sheep are completely helpless and hopeless without their shepherd.

Years ago I was out of bed at an early hour. When my wife asked why I was getting up at 4:30a.m., I told her what I read during my devotions: “When you wake up, get up, and when you get up, do something for God’s lambs.”  She responded, “baa!” (She was reminding that she and our five children are also God’s lambs.)

Psalm 23 is filled with sheep talk that shows us that God wants to hear every one of us say, “baa!”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


The Beauty of Diversity

February 1, 2019

“If the whole body were an eye where would the sense of hearing be?”  (1Corinthians 12:17)

The story is told of a doctor who came out of the delivery room and told an expectant father, “I have some grave news for you. Your wife has given birth to a 7-pound eyeball.  And that’s not all. It’s blind!”

If you came home one night in the dark and found a 185 pound eyeball in the corner of your front porch, would that give you a rush of anxiety?

In the verse above the Apostle Paul uses an illustration like the illustrations I just shared. He does this in his inspired letter to the Corinthians because he wants to make a point: the beauty of diversity.

One of the fingerprints of the Church of Jesus Christ is that we celebrate diversity. Diversity in the body of Christ is to be celebrated rather than resolved. If two of us are exactly alike one of us is unnecessary. Some members of the First Church of Corinth were telling others they were not authentically spiritual unless they had the same spiritual gifts that they had.

Paul’s remedy for that kind of thinking was the metaphor of a body being just one member and not a body with the beauty of many diverse parts. Other members of the body of Christ have what you do not have and you have what they do not have – that means you need them and they need you.

The body of Christ is a team sport.  Are you willing to be a team player?  If so, step up and play your part.

Dick Woodward, 05 February 2013


Peter’s Prayer: Lord, Save Me!

January 25, 2019

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)

In the Bible the Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who walked on water. Yet millions only remember that he took his eyes off the Lord and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read Peter’s magnificent faith was flawed. He saw the wind. Since we cannot see wind this means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and became afraid.

The remarkable thing here is that when he kept his eyes on Jesus, Peter walked on water!

It was not until he was beginning to sink that Peter cried out this prayer. Two thousand years later, this remains a go-to prayer for us through the storms of life. Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long. We should never think we will generate grace with God by our many words. (If Peter had made a longer prayer, the words beyond the third would have been glub, glub glub!)

When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname, “Little Faith.” (I believe our Lord was smiling when He did.) He literally asked Peter: “Why did you think twice?”

While very ill the past two weeks many people have been recruited to pray for me. Yesterday it occurred to me that I had not prayed for myself. I then fervently pleaded this prayer: Lord, save me!

In your spiritual walk, don’t think twice and don’t be of little faith. Instead, learn to plead this prayer, and soon you will find your way through the stormy waves of life walking on water.

Dick Woodward, 28 January 2014


Making A Difference

January 22, 2019

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you… for your fellowship in the gospel…” (Philippians 1:3-5)

As Paul begins his letter to the Philippians he uses a beautiful word when he writes: “your fellowship in the gospel.”  The basic meaning of fellowship is partnership, but Sam Shoemaker once paraphrased it as: “two fellows in the same ship.”

Years ago I met with a man on the threshold of coming to faith. He had many, many problems. I said to him, “There is a word you’re going to learn soon: ‘fellowship.’ It means ‘two fellows in the same ship.’

I want you to know that I am in the ship with you, Charlie!”

Taking a long drag on his cigarette, with tears in his eyes Charlie blew smoke in my face and said, “Well row, *bleep* it!”

Charlie was saying to me that he did not fully understand this new word but he wanted to know what difference it was going to make. Was I just going to take up room and rock the boat, or was I going to grab an oar and row with him?

I often said to others what I said to Charlie, but Charlie added to my understanding of this word. After Charlie, when I said these words I found myself asking, “What would it look like if I got in this person’s ship with them and rowed?”

When Jesus got in Peter’s little ship He surely made a difference. He filled Peter’s ship and his partner’s ship with fish. (Luke 5:1-11)

What difference does it make to others when you get in their ship with them? Think of the difference it could make because you are bringing Christ with you into their ship.

Dick Woodward, 22 January 2013


Letting Go (& Letting God)

January 15, 2019

 “… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

As we move further into a new year many of us can say, “These forty-eleven things I dabble in” as we consider our priorities, whereas spiritual heavyweights like Paul write: “One thing I do.” Deeply spiritual people can write they have their priorities sifted down to one thing because they forget those things that are behind.

We all have things we need to let go of so we can press toward the goal of what God wants us to do now and in the future.

The story is told of a man who fell over a cliff but managed to grab hold of a little bush about forty feet from the top. He frantically shouted “Help!” several times but his voice simply echoed back to him. Desperately he yelled, “Anybody up there? A subterranean voice answered, “Yes!” He again yelled, “Help!” Then the voice said, “Let go!”

After a brief pause the man shouted, “Anybody else up there?”

Sometimes it takes a lot of faith to let go. It may be that we need to let go of things that we cannot do and only God can do. It may be we need to let go of things we cannot control.  And, sometimes we need to let go of hurts that people have inflicted on us and we cannot forgive them and just let it go.

Do you need to let go and let God so you can unload baggage and move forward with God this year?

Dick Woodward, 11 January 2013


Living (& Praying) One Day at a Time

January 11, 2019

Give us this day our daily bread…”  (Matthew 6:11)

Jesus is using the symbol of bread here to represent all our needs. We are a veritable ‘Internet’ of needs: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. This first personal petition should not be limited to our need for food, but all our needs.

Observe the concept ‘one day at a time’ is repeated twice in this petition of just seven words. Alcoholics and drug addicts with years of sobriety tell me that when they took their first step, they could not entertain the thought of being sober for more than one day.

This prayer of Jesus prescribes that we pray ‘this day’ and ‘daily’ when we present our needs to our Heavenly Father. This principle of one day at a time is a proven therapy that has made the difference between life and death for some of my closest friends who are celebrating many years of sobriety.

Observe how Jesus concludes His teaching about values with the same emphasis later in Matthew 6: “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matthew 6:34)

We read in the book of Numbers that when God miraculously provided bread from Heaven in the wilderness, the Israelites were only permitted to collect enough manna for one day. That story, recorded in Numbers 11, is also applicable to the one-day-at-a-time principle Jesus prescribes in the prayer He taught us to pray.

When we apply the story of that manna miracle to our daily devotions, we should make the application that we cannot hoard our experience of a word from God or the blessings of a time in the presence of God.

We must have our souls and spirits nourished with heavenly manna every day, one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer