The Power of LOVE

May 27, 2022

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.”  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

After a devastating battle during the First World War, Canadian army surgeon John McCrae composed one of the greatest war poems. In it he gave voice to thousands of soldiers who lay dead, summing up their lives on earth with one line:

“Loved and were loved, but now we lie in Flanders Fields.”

When we come to the end of our lives, we’ll find one of our most important priorities will be those we love, and those who love us. But we should not wait to focus our priorities. The Apostle Paul declared the agape love of God to be the number one priority of spiritual people: “…and the greatest of these is love.”

A PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence and even in tongues, but without love, we’re just a lot of noise. If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as prophets, and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all these things, we are nothing. If we give all our money to feed the poor, and our bodies to be burned at the stake as martyrs, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.

Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have, and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Thinking about – The Peace of Christ!

May 24, 2022

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Someone once said: “Five percent of people think. Ten percent think they think, and eighty five percent would rather die than think. And the ten percent who think they’re thinking are just rearranging their prejudices.”

In his letter to the Philippians Paul challenges us to join the five percent and think. He also tells us specifically how to think. It’s as if our thoughts are sheep and we are the shepherd.

Paul challenges us to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good news. We naturally seem to think about things that are not true, dishonorable, unjust, impure, ugly, and bad news.

Paul’s prescription for peace agrees with the teaching of Jesus. Jesus taught us not to worry about the things we cannot control. He highly valued prayer in His own life and taught His disciples that we should always pray.

Jesus also taught that the difference between a life filled with light and a life filled with darkness is how we see things. His greatest discourse was eight attitudes that can make us one of His solutions in this world.

According to Paul, having and maintaining “the peace of God” is largely a matter of what we worry and think about all day.

What do you think about all day?

Dick Woodward, 26 May 2009


#FAITH: WHAT ARE YOU?

May 20, 2022

“… He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated ‘Peter.’)  (John 1:42)

When Jesus first met Peter, his name was Simon and his life was characterized by instability. Yet Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter,” which means “rock” andstability.”

In Matthew 16 we have an intriguing interview between Jesus and Peter. Jesus had done the “who are you?” question in reverse. He asked the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter came up with the right answer. The Lord then said in so many words, “That answer really didn’t come from you. It came from My Father.”

In this interview Jesus was telling Peter who and what Peter was, and what he was being called to be. In the Gospels Peter’s life is recorded like a spiritual roller coaster. But after Jesus called Peter a ‘rock’ for three years and after Peter experienced Pentecost, we read in Acts that this unstable man became the rock-like, stable leader of the New Testament Church.

When you read the Gospels and Acts, you realize Jesus was convincing Peter of what he could become because he had come to know Jesus as his Savior.

Do you hear the voice of the Christ Who lives in your heart trying to give you His answer to this question, “What are you?” Is Jesus making you know what you can become and do for Him since He has made you a new creation? Is Jesus making you know what He can equip you to become as He is calling you and revealing what He wants you to be and do for him?

Dick Woodward, A Spiritual Compass


Highways for God

May 17, 2022

“Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3)

 In ancient times if a king wanted to travel to a faraway province in his kingdom they would build a highway for him.  While they were working on that project they called it “The Kings Highway.” Isaiah is using that metaphor to say that God is going to travel into this world on a Highway that will be the life of the Messiah.

When you build a highway you do four things: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and you smooth out rough places. In the life of God’s Son the Messiah the mountains of pride will be completely leveled, the empty valleys will be filled with the Holy Spirit all the time, the crooked ways of sin will be straightened, and He will respond to the rough places in a way that will bring glory to His Father and salvation to the world.

After spending three years 24/7 with a dozen men, Jesus challenged them that in precisely the way His Father had sent Him into the world, He was sending them into the world in the same way. (John 20:21) One of many practical applications to that challenge for them, and for us, is that our life is also to be a highway for God.

I challenge you, in fact I dare you to pray this prayer: God, make my life a highway for You!” If you do this, don’t be surprised when God’s spiritual bulldozers show up in your life leveling your mountains of pride and filling your emptiness with the Holy Spirit, making straight your crooked places and smoothing out your rough places.

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2011


PERFECT PEACE: Christ in YOU!

May 13, 2022

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

The prophet Isaiah wrote of a state of perfect peace in which God can continuously keep us. He also wrote that this state of perfect peace is based on two important conditions: we must keep our minds centered on God, and we must trust God. This peace is supernatural because it’s a peace we can have even when circumstances of our lives are chaotic.

Jesus promised that He gives His followers peace the world will never understand because it comes from Him and is ours even in the middle of the storms of life. The early followers of Jesus Christ were persecuted (as many continue to be today.) Suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died peacefully because they had the peace of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul believed in this peace. In one chapter of one of his letters (Philippians 4) he listed twelve conditions on which this peace is based. In another letter Paul described this peace as the fruit of the reality that the Holy Spirit lives in authentic disciples of Jesus. (Galatians 5:22-23)

“Christ in you” is the foundation on which all conditions of this peace are built. (Colossians 1:27)  Looking at Paul’s twelve conditions for the peace of Christ, there is something to believe and Someone to receive when you become a follower of Jesus Christ.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

Dick Woodward, (15 May 2009)


The Good Shepherd & RESTORATION

May 10, 2022

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23:3)

In one of the most popular psalms written by King David, he shares the key to living and dying well in his opening statement. When we say (and believe) that the Lord is our shepherd, we can say we have green pastures, still waters, and the knowledge that the paths in which we are moving are the right paths for us.

This all happens when the Good Shepherd makes us lie down. But when we get up, the green pastures often turn brown and still waters are disturbed again.

That’s when David gives us a prescription for restoration: my Shepherd-God leads me in the paths of righteousness. The second time David writes ‘He leads me,’ he uses a different Hebrew word that means He drives me into the paths of righteousness, perhaps for some time, even years. God then uses the discipline of those paths of righteousness to restore my soul.

The word rehabilitation in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” It, too, is a prescription for restoration. When we need restoration and rehabilitation we should not look for what’s cheap. God’s prescription for restoration in Psalm 23 is not cheap. It takes time and it’s costly, but it works. It has worked for me and scores of others I know personally.

It can also work for you. When you suffer great loss you can focus on what you have lost and be depressed, or you can focus on what you still have and be restored.

Are you willing to invest again with dignity?

Dick Woodward, 11 May 2010


Waiting on the Lord

May 6, 2022

“They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

We must learn the difference between what we can do and what only God can do. We must have faith to wait on our Heavenly Father until He empowers and enables us to do what He desires.

I have summarized waiting on the Lord in Four Spiritual Secrets: I’m not, but He is; I can’t, but He can; I don’t want to, but He wants to; and I didn’t, but He did.’ 

These spiritual secrets affirm that it is not a matter of who we are, but Who God is; it’s not a matter of what we can do, but what God can do; it’s not a matter of what we want, but what God wants. If these first three secrets are in place, we will know the joy of one day looking back and affirming it was not a matter of what we did, but what God did through us.

When I first began learning these spiritual secrets, I’d say, “I can’t, but He can.” Then, as a mover and shaker, I’d look at my watch, “I’ll give God five minutes, and if He doesn’t, I will!”

It took 40 years and a bush to teach Moses how to wait on the Lord, and it has taken 40 years for me to learn how to wait on the Lord the way an eagle waits on the wind.

Waiting on the Lord was not my style until my (quadriplegia) illness forced me to learn why an eagle sits on the side of its nest and waits until the wind currents are strong enough to soar over the winds of a storm.

Dick Woodward, As Eagles: How to Be an Eagle Disciple


Morning Time with God!

May 3, 2022

“Let me hear of Your steadfast love in the morning, for in You I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.”  (Psalm 143:8)

Early every morning the eagle preens its feathers for more than an hour. Sitting on the side of its nest, the eagle passes each feather through its mouth, something like steam cleaning while depositing a liquid that makes its feathers water repellent.

This is important because eagles fish by diving under the water. The fluid deposited on their feathers also locks them together to improve their aerodynamics.  Whether an eagle is planning to fish or not, every morning for an hour they sit on the side of their nest and preen. They are not primping, they are preening – a very prudent preparation.

Like you and me, eagles never know what challenges they may face on any given day. Therefore, they preen in preparation for every possible challenge each day may hold.

Do you wake up holy in the morning? Before you’ve had your coffee? It’s possible for spiritual people to wake up holy, but if we’re honest we will concede that most of the time we don’t wake up that way.

It is very important to make a good beginning each day. When we consider the eagle’s daily practice of early morning preening, we are challenged to begin every day of our lives with spiritual preparation.

Have you preened your spirit with God’s help this morning?

Dick Woodward, (As Eagles: How to be an Eagle Disciple)


Sharing the Gospel

April 29, 2022

“I want to remind you of the gospel…which you received and on which you have taken your stand… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

Since most evangelism takes place today in the marketplace, it is imperative that we understand how to articulate the Gospel. A first step in that direction is realizing the Holy Spirit is the Evangelist and we are merely conduits through whom the Holy Spirit works.

When Jesus stayed up late with Nicodemus, the first words of Nicodemus were: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do the works that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Jesus earned his hearing with Nicodemus by what he had seen Him do. Likewise, we must also earn our hearing with people.

This begins with our understanding that what we do demonstrates what we believe. All the rest is just religious talk. People are not interested in our religious talk unless they are impressed by what they see us do and are favorably impacted by what we are. It’s as if Nicodemus was saying he was impressed with what he had seen Jesus do, so he had come to hear the religious talk of Jesus. We deceive ourselves if we think it’s not that way today.

What I’m calling religious talk is our theological explanation of what we believe and why we believe it. This can be a negative if we overwhelm people with our theology. Many secular people don’t understand our complicated theological terms. Whether positive or negative, people will not be interested if they are not impressed with who and what we are and the things we do.

When we earn our hearing by the grace of God, the Gospel is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died for our sins and He rose again from the dead, just as the Old Testament Scriptures said He would and the New Testament Scriptures tell us He did.

There is something to believe and Someone to receive.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


Still Waters: God at Work

April 26, 2022

“He leads me beside the still waters.”  (Psalm 23:2)

Most people associate the still waters of David’s Shepherd Psalm with peace. However, if you research sheep you will find when they drink from a stream of water that stream must be as still as a mirror or the water will go up their snouts. An authentic application of this still water metaphor means our great Shepherd leads us to places just suited for us.

In 1979 I resigned as pastor of a large church in a big city and accepted a call to a small church that had just begun in a small town. After being in the small church for a year I went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota due to the onset of debilitating symptoms. After nearly a month of studies, the doctor who directed my program misread my file. Thinking I was still in the large church, when he gave the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis he told me I needed to go to a small church in a small town. I told him that for a year I had already been in a small church in a small town. I was to learn to be fulfilled with doing less and doing it better.

As my symptoms persisted and confined me to a wheelchair, a group of friends helped build a house that accommodated my physical challenges. One made a beautiful stained glass window by the entrance with these two words: “Still Waters.” These words have not just been a label for my home the past 26 years but also my ministry – in this location by God’s grace I have accomplished my most fruitful work for the Kingdom, most as a bedfast quadriplegic.

“Still Waters” – can you write these two words across what God is doing in your life right now?

Dick Woodward, 20 April 2012