Joining the ‘Me First Club’?

September 18, 2018

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1Timothy 4:16)

Although it seems contradictory to the ethical teachings of the Old and New Testaments, the Apostle Paul is coaching Timothy to join what we may call the “Me First Club.”  While we are trying to understand humility as taught in the Bible and learning to love our neighbors as ourselves, the very sound of a “Me First Club” seems to generate loud screeching discord.

If we think about it, however, there are places where we are instructed by our Lord Jesus to put ourselves first. For example, in the opening verses of Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus teaches us that when it comes to judging we should join the “Me First Club.” Showing a great sense of humor Jesus taught that we should not be looking for tiny specks of sawdust in the eyes of others when we have plank-sized logs in our own eyes. His priority was that we are to first get the logs out of our own eyes, and then we will see clearly to help others with the tiny specks in their eyes.

Paul instructs Timothy that before he challenges others to apply the Word of God to their lives that they might experience salvation, he is to first apply the Word of God to his own life and experience salvation himself.

In areas like salvation and judging are you willing to say “Me First?”

Dick Woodward, 15 September 2010


A Word for Leaders: HUMILITY

March 3, 2016

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”   (1 Peter 5:6)

Humility is a standard Peter sets for leaders.  He writes that leaders should lead as examples and not as lords over the flock they shepherd.  Humility is a challenging concept.  If we think we are humble we are probably not humble.  You probably heard of the church that gave their pastor a medal for humility, but had to take it back because he wore it every Sunday.

In Scotland a young seminary graduate was about to give a sermon as candidate for a church that had an elderly pastor about to retire.  The pulpit was one of those old elevated ones where you had to climb many steps in order to preach.  With a pride that bordered on arrogance the young man climbed up to preach.  He had a disaster of a sermon.  When he came down in tears the old retiring pastor said to him, “Lad if you had gone up the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went up!”

I Peter 5:6 describes a covenant with God’s part and our part.  Our part is to humble ourselves.  It is God’s part to exalt us.  C. S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins.  “To live above with the saints we have loved Oh that will be glory.  But to live below with those we know that’s another story.”  As a veteran pastor I can tell you that when there is a sharp dispute among two disciples a pastor will often find somebody’s pride at the bottom of the dispute.

Humble yourself.  That’s your business.  Exalting you is God’s business.

Dick Woodward, 16 August 2013


A Recipe To Rest

June 9, 2015

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11: 28-30)

Jesus loves to give invitations.  He addresses this one to people who are loaded with problems and working themselves to exhaustion trying to solve them.  Jesus promises that if we come to Him He will give us rest.  If you look closely at this invitation, He is inviting us to come to Him and learn about His heart, His burden and His yoke.  What we learn there will lead us to this rest.

Jesus wants burdened people to learn that His burden is light, His heart is humble and His yoke is easy.  There is a sense in which Jesus had the weight of the world on His shoulders and yet He claimed that His burden was light.  His burden was light because He let the Father carry the load.

The most important part of His recipe for rest is what Jesus wants us to learn about His yoke.  A yoke is not a burden — it’s an instrument that makes it possible to bear a burden.  When a cart is piled high with cargo the yoke makes it possible for an ox to pull a great load with ease.  It is the yoke of Jesus that shows us how to pull our heavy burdens of life.

The yoke of Jesus was that He let His Father carry the burdens.  We take His yoke upon us when we let the Holy Spirit carry the load.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2013


Improve Your Serve!!

September 16, 2014

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…”  Matthew 20: 25-26

The incident recorded in Matthew 20 (verses 20-28), precipitated by Mrs. Zebedee and her two sons, James and John, sets the stage for one the great teachings of Jesus Christ.  We can assume these two ‘sons of thunder’ (the nickname the Lord game them), who were partners with Simon Peter in the ‘Zebedee Seafood Corporation,’ were obviously the instigators of their mother’s request that they be seated on the right and the left of their Lord when He was crowned King.  When the other apostles griped about this, Jesus called them together.  In so many words, He told them the world plays the game of “Over-Under!” This is a world of credentials and status symbols that often say, “I am better than you,” or “I am over and above you.”

Acknowledging that the secular world is like that, Jesus tells them not to play the world’s little games.  To paraphrase, Jesus says, “this is not to happen among you. If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, you should join the ‘Order of the Towel’ – get a towel and basin, assume the position of a slave, and start washing feet.”   He uses Himself as an example when He says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28)  Think of how He spent His last hours before He went to the cross, literally washing the feet of His disciples. There is no place in the church and body of Christ for the “Over-Under” philosophy of this world.

If you want to be great in the fellowship of Christ, you must improve your serve!

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook, p.86


Divine Requirements: Justice, Mercy & Humility

August 2, 2014

“And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The great prophet Micah asked a very important question, in effect:  what are the divine requirements of God? What does God expect, require, demand, and command from me?  Micah gives us three answers to that question.

His first answer is that we should do justly.  In other words, we should be a conduit of justice. We should stand up against injustice anytime and anywhere we see injustice.  Since we live in a world that is filled with injustice this could be very dangerous.  Jesus Christ did this perfectly and it got Him crucified.

Micah’s second answer is that we should love mercy.  Mercy is unconditional love.  This is the chief characteristic of the love of God.  David believed that the mercy and the unconditional love of God would follow or pursue him all the days of his life.

Micah’s final answer to his profound question is that we are to walk humbly with our God. Humility has consistently been a characteristic of the great old souls we have known in this life.  C.S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins and we read in the Proverbs that God hates pride.  We can see why God would hate pride because He hates sin.

Are you willing to be the person Micah profiled?  There is a sense in which we cannot become that just, merciful and humble person through our own efforts.  But these three answers give us a profile of the person God wants us to be.

Are you willing to let God give you the grace to cultivate the divine requirements of justice, mercy and humility to be that person?

Dick Woodward, 20 March 2011


Keys to Oneness

November 1, 2013

“… fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love… being of one accord of one mind.  In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out… for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 2-4)

As Paul writes to his favorite church he is burdened that they experience oneness.  He wants them to be “like minded…of one accord” and “of one mind.”  To that end he gives them two keys to oneness.

One key is humility, what Paul calls “lowliness of mind.”  He instructs and challenges the Philippians to esteem others better than themselves.  C. S. Lewis told us that pride is the mother of all sins.  As a pastor I learned that when there is a dispute among two disciples you will often find somebody’s pride at the bottom of it.  Humility is an antidote that resolves disputes and restores oneness.

The other critical key is love.  When Paul writes of “the same love,” I believe he means the love of Christ in us. At least one application of that love is when we “look out for the interests of others.”  We might call this love “other centeredness.” We must realize and remember that this love is the fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit living in us.  It is not natural.  It is supernatural.  We can’t do it.  Only He can.

So, Paul’s keys for being like minded are humility and love.  By application you will find his keys bringing oneness to your marriage, family, church, ministry and any relationship.

Our greatest challenges are relationships.  I challenge you to insert these keys into your most challenging relationships and watch God bring oneness.


A Word for Leaders

August 16, 2013

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”   (1 Peter 5:6)

Humility is a standard Peter sets for leaders.  He writes that leaders should lead as examples and not as lords over the flock they shepherd.  Humility is a challenging concept.  If we think we are humble we are probably not humble.  You probably heard of the church that gave its pastor a medal for humility but had to take it back because he wore it every Sunday.

In Scotland a young seminary graduate was to give the sermon as a candidate for a church that had an elderly pastor about to retire.  The pulpit was one of those old elevated ones that you had to climb many steps in order to preach.  With a pride that bordered on arrogance the young man climbed up to preach.  He had a disaster of a sermon.  When he came down in tears the old retiring pastor said to him, “Lad if you had gone up the way you came down you would have come down the way you went up!”

The verse quoted describes a covenant with God’s part and our part.  Our part is to humble ourselves.  It is God’s part to exalt us.  C. S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins.  “To live above with the saints we have loved Oh that will be glory.  But to live below with those we know that’s another story.”  As a veteran pastor I can tell you that when there is a sharp dispute among two disciples a pastor will often find somebody’s pride at the bottom of the dispute.

Humble yourself.  That’s your business.  Exalting you is God’s business.