Who is the Greatest?

October 16, 2018

“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 Scripture for six decades I find that answer intriguing because very little space in the Bible records John the Baptist’s life and ministry.

Meditating on the Scriptures that describe him, I have come to the conclusion that at least one key to his greatness is that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his abilities.

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 (26 years ago), it was vital for me to accept my increasing limitations and continue to be responsible for my abilities.

After the first two years of crippling illness when acceptance came, it was so profound it felt like a form of inner healing. Using speech recognition software on my computer I received the grace to write about ten thousand pages of what we call The Mini Bible College. These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into 28 languages in 60 countries.*

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

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

Dick Woodward, 16 October 2012

*Editor’s Note: As of October 2018, the Mini Bible College has been translated into 48 languages (with 12 more in production) impacting 84 countries. Thanks be to God and the ongoing work of International Cooperating Ministries.


Jonah: God’s Love for ALL PEOPLE

October 9, 2018

“…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:2-4)

As a prophet, one of Jonah’s functions was to remove obstacles that were blocking the work of God in the world. Do you see the obstacle in Jonah’s story? Jonah’s prejudice. As we reflect upon the prejudice of Jonah, we should ask ourselves if prejudice in our hearts is blocking the love God wants to express through us to hurting people in our world.

The real message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people! The love of God is a bottom line truth we find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.

Can you see why I believe the real message of the Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people? Refuse to get sidetracked. When you come to the book of Jonah looking for truth, you will find at the heart of this book a loving God Who values people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.

The message of Jonah is that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants. The people of God, like you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation. When the people of God are prejudiced, the very people God designed to be the vessels, models and channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love and salvation work of God in this world.

If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express God’s love and salvation for all people if God’s people are hung up on their prejudices?

Dick Woodward, from Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet


Showcase: God’s Strength in Our Weakness

October 5, 2018

“…When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

The Apostle Paul opens a biographical window into his life when he tells us about what he calls his “thorn in the flesh.” He explains that he had many supernatural spiritual experiences, but to keep him humble God gave him this “thorn.” Paul asked God three times to take it away. Even though he had an extraordinary ministry that brought healing to many, three times God’s response was essentially: “No! But My grace will be with you, and that is all you need to cope with the challenge of your thorn.”

Although we’re not exactly certain what Paul’s “thorn” was, he wrote to the Galatians that when he first visited his eyes were so hideous it made them want to vomit and say that if they could, they would take the eyes out of their own heads and place them in his. The book of Acts reports that at that time Paul’s physician Luke joined him so he could treat him. This “thorn” was also accompanied with severe weakness. Paul mentions weakness so much in his writings we know that throughout his extraordinary ministry he had to cope with extreme chronic fatigue.

Paul explains that his physical weakness was a showcase in which God could exhibit God’s supernatural strength. In the Living Bible Paraphrase of this chapter God tells Paul, “My strength looks good on weak people.” And Paul confesses, “The less I have the more I depend on Him.” He summarizes all this: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Will you let your weakness showcase God’s strength and grace today?

Dick Woodward, 04 October 2011


God’s Agenda vs. Our Agenda

October 2, 2018

“…  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 heritages of human beings are determined: how high heads will be from the sidewalk, eye color, hair color, the capacity of intellectual gifts, athleticism and even mannerisms are 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 will live on this earth. The Living Bible Paraphrase reads that before we existed God has ‘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. Having lunch with our pastor son here later that day, I realized I was having a heart attack. While the 911 people were rushing me out the door to the ambulance I said to my wife, “Looks like we’re being preempted big time!”

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?

Dick Woodward, 01 October 2010


Knowing God: Being Love

September 21, 2018

“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…” (Hebrews 11:6)

Do you know God? I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God?  Do you want to know God? In the fragment of the verse quoted above we find a prescription that can help us know God.

The prescription is that we must believe that God is, and we must believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. My passion to know God led me to confess: “I believe that God is.”

But what is God and where is God?

A helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16) After studying the quality of love God is, this belief prescription led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is God likely to be doing His love thing?”

At that time I was a social worker (in Norfolk, VA.) Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this: “God, I have an idea that You are love where people are hurting. That’s where I’m going, so when I get there please pass this love You are through me to address their pain.”

As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and God touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between God’s love and the pain of hurting people.

Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011


A Prescription for Peace: Rest in Christ Jesus

September 14, 2018

“The peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:7)

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? It means we are so in union with Christ, as a branch is in union with a vine, that we draw from Him all the life-giving spiritual power we need for everything we do for Him, with Him and through Him, as we rest in Him.

It means resting in the power of Jesus to do the things He calls us to do, all day long.

As a bedfast quadriplegic & pastor, my way of expressing this is the Four Spiritual Secrets:

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I can’t, but He can.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I don’t want to, but He wants to.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

So much anxiety comes from thinking we must do the work of Christ in our own strength. If we are doing God’s will, we are often going to face things we cannot do on our own, but, as vehicles through which Christ does His work, can be done.

Overwhelming physical and emotional problems that are crushing the life out of us – terminal or chronic illness, difficult relationships and the challenges of everyday living – will only be manageable when we realize that facing them is not a matter of who and what we are, or what we can or cannot do. They are simply an opportunity to prove and demonstrate Who and what Jesus is and what He can do.

We must acknowledge that we can’t but Jesus can, as we rest our hearts and minds in Christ and in what only He can do.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Trusting God: Remembering & Forgetting

September 7, 2018

“… For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

According to the Bible there is a time to remember and a time to forget. In the Old Testament God frequently instructs the Israelites to erect a monument to remember a great miracle that God did for them. In the New Testament Paul wrote a letter to the Church at Ephesus. Since he taught them more thoroughly and longer than any church he founded, in his letter he frequently exhorts them to remember what he taught them. When he wrote to the Church in Philippi, he exhorts them to forget the things that are behind and reach forward to the things that shall be.

This principle of remembering and forgetting is nowhere more important than when we apply it to our sins. God clearly wants us to remember that we are sinners. When God forgives our sins, however, God forgets them and wants us to do the same. Regarding our sins, we therefore need to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

As a pastor for more than 50 years I have been amazed in my own life and in the lives of those who call me pastor at how prone we are as believers to forget that we are sinners. That’s at least one reason why we sin again and again. It has also amazed me to realize how often we confess our sins and believe God has forgiven us, but then carry our guilt baggage with us for the better part of a lifetime.

One way to win the battle against sin is to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2010