Overcoming Prejudice: God’s Agape Love At Work

February 23, 2017

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. What does the fact that Jonah wrote this story, which makes him look foolish, tell us about his values and motivations for telling it on himself? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this:

‘When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord.’ But God said to me, ’I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go and I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’  The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  When I went to Nineveh and while I was in the city of Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me.’

Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

…To be “prejudiced” means to “pre-judge.”  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. Is the work of God in this world through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth or social status? Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment?

When you experience God’s call are you joining Jonah by saying, “I will not?”

When are you going to let the love and power of the Spirit of Christ cut through all your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?” It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

          Dick Woodward,

Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet

 

Editor’s Note: There will be a brief hiatus the next few weeks here @ The Four Spiritual Secrets while the Blog Posting Elf travels (minus her computer.) Blessings to all!


MINE, MINE, MINE vs. GOD’S

November 8, 2016

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful… And what do you have that you did not receive? (1Corinthians 4: 2, 7)

The biblical word “steward” is not fully understood or appreciated.  It is actually one of the most important words in the New Testament.  A synonym for this word is “manager.” Many people believe this word primarily relates to a person’s money, but that application falls far short of the essential meaning of this word.

Paul asks the probing question: “And what do you have that you did not receive?”  He is telling us that our stewardship applies to everything we have received from God. This means our time, energy, gifts and talents, our health and all the things that make up the essence of our very life, including all of our money and possessions.

At the age of 65 my best friend, a very successful businessman, had what he refers to as a “halftime” experience when he came to fully appreciate this word steward. His regular custom was to draw a line down the middle of the top page of a legal pad. On the left side of that line he wrote, “My Business,” while on the right side of the line he wrote, “God’s Business.” When he fully appreciated this word, steward, he erased that line because he realized it was all God’s business.

Remember, the important thing about stewardship is that we be found faithful.  Do you realize there is nothing in your life you did not receive from God?  Do you know that you are to faithfully manage everything you have received from God?  Are you willing to have a halftime experience and erase the line between what is yours and what is God’s?

Dick Woodward, 10 June 2010


Asking ‘Why?’ vs. Saying ‘Oh!’

March 18, 2016

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

A word we use often in this life is, “Why?” And the word I think we will use most in the next is, “Oh!”  The Providence of God is like a Hebrew word: we have to read it backwards.  By the Providence of God I mean that God is in charge and the events of our lives have meaning.  Sometimes it is as if we are on the inside of a woven basket.  All the threads that come up on the inside of the basket represent the way we see the things that happen to us, which seem to have no meaning and pattern at all.  If we could just get out of that basket, on the outside we would see beautifully woven patterns.

Job is the biblical example of a man who tried to sort out, by looking inside the basket, what appeared to be the tragic meaninglessness of his life.  It was not until he looked up and saw all his tragic circumstances from God’s perspective that he was moved from asking, “Why?” to exclaiming, “Oh!” (Job 35: 1-7; 40-42)

In Psalm 11:3 the Psalmist asked a question: “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” The NIV version of the Bible has a footnote that suggests this alternate reading: “When the foundations of your life are breaking up, what is the Righteous One doing?”

My wife and I have made that question a knee jerk reaction to the events of our lives as they happen.  As a result, although we’re not on the other side yet we are already saying, “Oh!”

Will you confront the challenges you encounter daily with that same question?

Dick Woodward, 25 August 2012


Dick Woodward (October 25,1930 – March 8, 2014)

March 8, 2016

Since today marks the two year anniversary of Dick Woodward’s passing, the Editor would like to share something a little different from ICM’s website.  Instead of words from Dick Woodward, here are words about Dick Woodward from one of ICM’s African ministry partners:

17 March 2014

We have just learnt about the departure of our Leader, Teacher and trainer Rev Dick Woodward, that we have come to know and love for some years now and whose teaching has been and still will be the foundation and the guidance to our churches, correcting our marriages shaping our doctrines and illuminating our understanding with the Mini Bible College, he is and will be always a blessing to our churches and pastors and mostly to myself and family.

What will be my excuse before God? What will be your excuse before God? If Woodward could do what he did in the ability of his God, what will be your excuse with the same God?

If Woodward could despise his pain and serve his God to the last day of his life and impact so many lives up to my little village – what will be my excuse?

Let us continue to perpetuate the purposes he lived for.

Our Pastor is not gone he is still with us through his work although he sleeps in death.

Amen – (from the Editor!)

Mama and Papa bedDick & Ginny Woodward in their “African Outfits” the Editor had made for them in Tanzania (worn on Sundays to dress up!) Now they’re worshiping together with Jesus in the Presence of Everlasting Love…


A Christmas Prescription

December 4, 2015

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  (Luke 2:19)

The holidays are the most family-oriented weeks of the year.  Yet for many – those who have no family, singles, widows and widowers, the divorced among us, and those with painful and negative family experiences – the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year.  As a pastor, every year I had parishioners who asked me in early November to pray for them to make it through the holidays.  The hard reality is that lonely, depressed, and anxious people are lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious during the “season to be jolly” than at any other time of the year.

At the same time, the last four weeks of the year are filled with joy and happiness for millions of people and their families.  Whether the holiday season is your favorite time or your most difficult time of the year, I want to share a Christmas prescription that can bring the true meaning of Christmas to your holidays and to every day of your new year.

Try to block out the advertising blitz of the commercial Christmas we have today. Carefully read the Christmas scriptures in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and then read the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John.

God told a devout peasant girl what He was going to do.  Mary believed God, but she asked Him questions and pondered these things in her heart.

Dick Woodward, A Christmas Prescription

Editor’s Note: During December, the blog posting elf would like to share one of Papa’s booklets, A Christmas Prescription, bit by bit with you. Be blessed this month as we ‘ponder’ the Christmas that was, the Christmas that shall be, and the Christmas that is


God’s Great Faithfulness & Love

June 2, 2015

“He has filled me with bitterness…my soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3: 15, 16, 22-23)

When Jeremiah gets to his darkest hour, he receives a revelation of hope and salvation. Just like Job, when suffering brought him to the bottom of despair’s pit, he received his Messianic revelation:  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon the earth.  And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God!”  (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given to Job.  After World War II, Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her:  “There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”  This is the same truth God revealed to Jeremiah.  It’s intriguing to realize Job received his Messianic revelation when he ‘bottomed out” through weeping and suffering. God made Jeremiah know the marvelous truth about His unconditional love that is taught from Genesis to Revelation: God’s love is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance.

Reading the Lamentations, I am deeply touched and inspired meditating upon God’s miraculous revelation to Jeremiah, that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved the people of Judah… Another awesome possible miracle, however, is that as Jeremiah received his revelation weeping in his grotto on the hill of Golgotha, he could have been sitting on the very spot God was going to pour out His love on the whole world.

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College Old Testament Handbook, (pp. 500-501)


Pushing & Prayer

March 27, 2015

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”  (I Corinthians 4:2)

Paul declared that one of the greatest virtues of a servant of the Lord is faithfulness.

There’s a story about a man told by God to push against a huge rock as the primary work for his lifetime.  For many years the man did that. Exhausted, burned out and discouraged he told the Lord that the rock had not moved a centimeter.  The Lord responded that He had not told the man to move the rock, but to push against it.  He made the observation that pushing against the rock had given him a strong healthy and muscular body. God knew all along that only He could move that rock.

This leads to an acrostic based on the word push:

P- Pray

U– Until

S– Something

H– Happens

I am now living in my 82nd year.  One of the observations I’ve made in my long life is that God is our Mentor.  He is always teaching us and is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually and in every other way.  He deliberately assigns us tasks that are not only difficult, but impossible, knowing that those tasks will grow and mature us into faithful servants He can use to do through us what only He can do in this world.

Another observation without which I could not function as a human being, especially as a pastor, is what I call Four Spiritual Secrets.  Concisely put: I’m not, I can’t, I don’t even want to — but He is, He can, He wants to, and He does.

Trusting God push and pray, so God can do His work in and through you.

Dick Woodward, 20 June 2012