#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


God’s Agenda vs. Our Agenda

October 4, 2022

“…All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

I find it intriguing to know that in little genes that cannot be seen with the naked eye the genetic heritage of a human being is determined: how high our heads will be from the sidewalk, the color of our eyes, our hair, the capacity of our intellectual gifts, our athleticism and even mannerisms are all wrapped up in microscopic genes.

In this inspired Psalm, David – a great warrior, king, man after the heart of God and hymn writer – tells us that before we existed as genes God determined the days we would live on this earth. The Living Bible Paraphrase reads that before we existed God had an agenda for every day we are to live on this earth.

One day my wife and I woke up and prayed together that if our agenda for that day did not agree with God’s agenda we were willing to be preempted. Later that day while having lunch with our pastor son, I realized I was having a heart attack. As the 911 people rolled me out the door I said to my wife, “Looks like we’re being preempted big time!”

At the hospital they were able to turn things around before it became a full blown heart attack. However, that experience gave my wife and me a perspective we will never forget. There is God’s agenda and there is our agenda for every day we live.

How should that truth impact the way we plan our agendas each day?

Are we willing to be preempted by God’s agenda every day?

Dick Woodward, 01 October 2010


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


Perspective: Tunnel Vision + A PLAN

September 20, 2022

“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.

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


Caution: God at Work!

September 16, 2022

“In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the children of God coming into their own.” (Romans 8:18-19)

The view from the finish line has me fixating on the Providence of God, which like a Hebrew word can easily be read backwards. It is now easy for me to see what I considered random chaos in my life was really the loving hand of God leading me by making me offers I could not refuse.

When events roll out over which you have no control, you will see how the hand of God is showing you what to do.

A friend put this new needlepoint on his wall: “Never do what somebody else can do when you could be doing what only you can do.” All our lives God has been shaping us in miraculous ways to make a unique contribution to God’s work.

As you pray about next steps, reflect on this thought: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God before ordained that we should do for Him.” (Ephesians 2:10)

This means we are all works in progress.

Over our lives you can write: “Caution, God at work!” God wants to point to you and say, “She is my workmanship!” There is verse in Romans 8 which tells us that all nature is on tiptoe in awe of the children of God coming into their full potential.

The issue now is: what is God doing in your present circumstances to point you to what God wants to do next in your life?

Dick Woodward, (email, 2005)


#FAITH & Stormy Weather!

September 9, 2022

“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: Temple Maintenance

September 6, 2022

“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


Giving Thanks!

September 2, 2022

“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.

Our circumstances are not always determined by God but may be caused by evil people who are persecuting us. We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with thanksgiving, because if we do, we will find this response to be God’s prescription that will bring the peace that can contribute to victory over our circumstances.

When a pastor asked one of his church members how they were doing, their response was “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.” The pastor responded “Whatever are you doing there?”

The therapy of thanksgiving can lead us out from under our circumstances and into the peace of God. Have you tried it?

Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009


Yours is The Glory!

August 26, 2022

“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