A Challenge for Fathers: Priorities!

June 17, 2016

“…To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”  (Luke 1:17)

When the Old Testament prophet Malachi prophesied the birth of John the Baptist, he predicted he would prepare the way of the Messiah by exhorting fathers to prioritize their relationships with their children. The challenging truth by application is that the way of the Lord in the lives of children is prepared when fathers are faithful in their responsibility toward their children.

One example of this reality is when our Lord taught His disciples how to pray, He instructed us to address God as “Our Father.” What images come into our minds when we address God in this way?  Our relationships to our earthly fathers can strongly influence the way we perceive our heavenly Father.

As a pastor I’ve had parishioners say to me in private, “When I address God as my father I experience a spiritual short circuit.” When asked to tell about their earthly father I often heard a story about a very dysfunctional father/child relationship.

Professional Christian clinical psychologists and psychiatrists strongly reinforce the hard reality of the profound influence fathers have in the lives of their children.  The profound truth that was focused when the life and ministry of John the Baptist was profiled is confirmed in millions of lives every day.

As we in America call this Sunday “Father’s Day,” may the vision statement that was prophesied for John the Baptist raise awareness in all of us who are fathers of the solemn mission objective we have been assigned by God when He made us fathers.

Dick Woodward, 20 June 2010


A Vine Looking for Branches

April 29, 2016

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”   (John 15:5)

The apostles had been in awe of the profound words and miraculous works of Jesus.  In their last retreat with Him, Jesus essentially said that the key to His preaching, teaching, and supernatural ministry is that He and the Father are one.  The Word of the Father was spoken on earth and the work of the Father was accomplished on earth through Him because He is one with the Father.   Jesus then taught them that after His death and resurrection, if they would be at one with Him His Word would be spoken and His work would be done on earth through them.

While they were in a garden, He pulled down a vine, which had many branches loaded with fruit, and said: “I am the Vine and you are the branches.”  In this metaphor the fruit does not grow on the vine.  The fruit grows out on the branches because they are properly aligned with the Vine.  The branches can bear no fruit without the Vine and the Vine can bear no fruit without the branches. If the Vine, Jesus, wants to see fruit produced, He must pass His life-giving power through the branches, the apostles.

Jesus wants to see this fruit produced far more than the apostles want to be fruitful.  By this inspired metaphor, He was actually teaching two propositions: “Without Me, you can do nothing” and, “Without you, I will do nothing.”

It is the plan of God to use the power of God in the people of God to accomplish the purposes of God according to the plan of God.  Jesus is a Vine looking for branches.

Are you willing to be one of His branches?

Dick Woodward, 31 July 2012


A New Commandment: Love One Another!!

April 16, 2016

“Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.”   (John 13:1)

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles.  Luke writes that on the way to the upper room where they were to celebrate the Passover the apostles argued about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised.  What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!

Having washed their feet Jesus asked this question: “Do you know what I have done to you?”  The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus is love.  He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

He also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example.  If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each others’ feet. Then He made the connection between feet washing and love by giving them the New Commandment. They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them. This is the absolute credential that they were His disciples.

A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment.  Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus but now they were to make a commitment to each other.  This new commitment established a New Community.  We call it the church.  The secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!”  If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Oh Lord make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012


Look and Live

February 26, 2016

“… Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21:9)

When the children of Israel complained and griped about Moses, God showed how He felt about the gripers.  He sent snakes to bite them.  (Some pastors may wish they could do the same.) Then God in His mercy directed Moses to erect a pole at the center of the camp with a bronze serpent on top of it.  The good news was proclaimed: if any of the snake-bitten gripers would get to the center of the camp and look at the bronze serpent they would be healed of their snakebites.

Some of them said that defied all the laws of medical science and they died of their snakebites.  Others said it didn’t make sense but it was the only hope they had.  With help they somehow got to the center of the camp and looked at the bronze serpent on the pole.  When they looked, they were healed and lived!

This story takes on much greater meaning when Jesus makes His most dogmatic declaration: He is God’s only Son, God’s only Solution and God’s only Savior (John 3:1-21).  As He told a Rabbi named Nicodemus about Moses lifting that serpent in the wilderness, it is a picture of something in the future.  If we will look to Jesus on His cross with faith we will be healed of our sin problem.

Jesus made it simple.  Just look and live.  When you want to solve problems that demand a supernatural solution, look and live.  Have you ever done that?  Why not do it now?

Dick Woodward, 10 December 2013


Working the Works of God

September 4, 2015

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. The night is coming when no man can work.” (John 9:4)

The Gospel of John gives us another window into the way Jesus felt about the works God wanted Him to do. According to this vision statement of Jesus He knew the reality that He had less than three years to do those works.

In 1956 the famous missionary Jim Elliot was speared to death, along with his four colleagues, by the tribal people they were trying to reach with the Gospel. Jim was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. About four years before he died, he wrote in his journal, “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

We can’t understand how God decides the day of our death. We don’t know when our own finish line will come. But we should all live in such a way that when we come to the finish line of our lives there will be no unfinished business, no works our Father assigned to us that we’ve left undone.

Do you have the magnificent obsession of Jesus to work the works God has assigned to you while it is day not knowing when the night is coming and you cannot work anymore? Can you accept the challenge of being like Jesus in your attitude toward the works God wants you to do?

Dick Woodward, 18 August 2009


The Word of God & God’s Purpose

May 26, 2015

My Word… will achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

In a marvelous chapter taken from the prophesy of the one called “The prince of the prophets,” Isaiah tells us why he preached the Word of God.  Earlier in this chapter he 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 people think and act.

There is a strong emphasis in Scriptures on the importance of our will being in alignment with the will of God.  Jesus made his greatest prayer when He sweat drops of blood and prayed, “Not My will but Your will be done.” He taught His disciples and us to pray, “Your will be done in earth (or in their earthen vessels), as it is in heaven.”

The Word of God frequently describes the struggle between God and men like Moses, Job, Jonah, and many others who finally submit their will 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 the purpose God had in mind.

When you read, study 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


What are You?

May 5, 2015

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

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, “You’re not that smart Peter.  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.  When I had a chance to meet with Ravi Zacharias in my home, I asked him, “who is Ravi Zacharias?”  He responded, “I think what really matters is how our Lord would answer that question.”  In this interview with Peter, Jesus answered that question for him.

In the Gospels Peter’s life is recorded like an unstable 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 his Lord and 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 He making you know what you can become and do for Him since He has made you a new creation?  Is He 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 (p. 71-72)


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