Prayer Changes Things!!

September 20, 2016

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

In these verses the Apostle Paul is challenging us with two options: when we are facing challenging problems we can worry about them, or we can turn our challenging problems into prayer requests.  Paul writes that we are not to worry because worry is counterproductive.  He prescribes that if we are overwhelmed with problems, we should let our mountain of problems turn us into prayer warriors.

So, here we have two options: we can be worriers, or we can be warriors. Prayer changes things!  Worry, on the other hand does not change anything except for the severe negative consequences it can have on our body, soul and spirit.  When we consider the devastating effects of worry and the miraculous results of answered prayer, we should resolve our two options into one.

When we realize we are anxious and uptight, and we know it is because we are choosing to be worriers, we should ask God to convert us into prayer warriors.  We should hold our problems up before the Lord and trade our futile worries for powerful prayers.  God may deliver us from those problems or give us the grace to cope with them.  But, in either case, God will give us peace.

Paul writes that God will stand guard over our hearts and minds and give us supernatural peace as we rest in what Christ will do.

Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011


Creation: The Three Missing Links

September 17, 2016

“In the beginning God created…”  (Genesis 1:1)

Most people have heard about the missing link that turns up when comparing the theory of evolution with the Genesis creation account, but there are actually three missing links.  The first missing link is the issue: How did it all begin?  The Bible’s answer is recorded in just two words: “God created.”  It all began with a first act of creation that accounted for the universe, the earth, and all plant life.

The author uses an interesting Hebrew word for created, “barah,” which means “to create something out of nothing.” Since there are no samples that are half plant and half animal there is a second missing link.  The Genesis account again uses “barah” as animal life is created in the water.

There is also no sample that is half animal and half human.  So, for a third time the author of Genesis uses “barah” when God creates mankind.  What is usually considered the missing link is actually this third missing link.  In all three places where the secular scholar struggles for answers, the author of Genesis writes barah: God created.

God began the Bible with the creation account because God knew that one day we would realize that we need an act of creation in our hearts.  We would then also know where to take that need by joining David in the prayer: “Create (barah) in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NLT)

We can also go to Jesus, Who taught the new birth, and the apostles, who, agreeing with David, referred to the new birth as a new creation. (John 3:3-5; 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Dick Woodward, 19 November 2013


Asking, Seeking, Knocking

September 13, 2016

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Jesus taught that we are to be God passionate people (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10.) We are to ask, seek and knock.  Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking.  Jesus attached a tremendous promise to this teaching.  He promised that everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and everyone who knocks will find himself or herself standing before an open door.

Jesus was referring to our individual pursuit of God in prayer.  When people take this seriously and pursue God in the context of a sincere prayer life, they often describe their pursuit of God by gesturing upward.  My own personal pursuit of God was greatly helped by a short poem:

“I sought my soul but my soul I could not see.
I sought my God but my God eluded me.
I met my neighbor and I found all three.”

In one of His great discourses Jesus provided a basis for this when He taught that when we describe our pursuit of a deeper relationship with Him, we should not only gesture upward but stretch out our arms horizontally.  We should do this because we find Jesus when we give a cup of cold water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, provide clothing to the naked, take in a lonely stranger and visit the sick and those in prison.

When these words of Jesus take on human flesh they look like Mother Teresa.  What would these words look like if they took on your mortal flesh?

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2011


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