VISION, FAITH & SACRIFICE

October 3, 2017

“… But for this reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.”  (John 12:27-28)

When we have a vision, we must also have a plan. It has been said that without vision the people perish, but without a plan the vision perishes. Nehemiah not only had a vision to repair and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, he had a plan to do so. As an enslaved exile his plan was to present his vision to the emperor for whom he was a cup bearer.

This was extremely dangerous. At that time there was a death penalty for being sad in the presence of the emperor, or for bringing anything negative to the attention of the emperor while serving him. Nehemiah had the faith to pray silently and then present his vision to the emperor. The emperor showed empathy and compassion for Nehemiah by approving his plan and supplying everything needed to see that the plan was followed to the letter.

Has God put a vision in your heart of what He wants you to do? If you have a vision, do you have a plan? In that context consider this formula for your vision:

vision + faith + sacrifice = miracle.

If you have a vision and a plan to carry out that vision, are you willing to sacrifice for that vision? Are you willing to die for that vision?

Our Lord Jesus Christ had a vision and a plan. He was willing to sacrifice and die for His vision and plan. He mandated that we should follow His example.

Regarding your vision and plan, are you willing to pray essentially:

“Father glorify Yourself and send me the bill.

Anything Father, just glorify Yourself?”

Dick Woodward, 30 January 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


The Greatest Teaching Method in the World

December 8, 2012

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

The Apostle Paul invested himself in a one on one relationship with a young man named Timothy.  In the verse above he challenged Timothy to have that same kind of relationship with other men, who would then have that kind of relationship with other faithful men.

I had about seven years of classroom education for the ministry.  I also had a handful of older men who mentored me personally in a relationship like Paul had with Timothy.  A great pastor named Ray Stedman invested four hours every Thursday afternoon for a year with me in the Word of God.  He challenged me to do the same with others.

As I have considered the impact of Doctor Stedman’s investment in me and my investment in others, I have come to the conclusion that this is the greatest teaching method in the world.

This method actually started for me when I was a small boy.  I watched my father spend hours sitting in a rocking chair preparing his Sunday school lesson.  Every now and then he would exclaim, “Oh this is wonderful!”

I realized there is wonderful truth in the Bible.  When I was a late teenager I adopted that declared value of my father and have passed that value on to my son who is a pastor.  I am greatly blessed to have had a father and a mother who taught me the Scriptures in a one on one relationship like Paul had with Timothy.

If you are a Timothy, do you have a Paul? If you are a Paul, do you have a Timothy?


A Prescription for Leadership

August 21, 2012

“It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” (Lamentations 3:27)

There is a lot of interest today in leadership.  You can get your Ph. D. in leadership in many universities.  I regret that we do not present more opportunities to young people for the rigorous and difficult training that produces leaders.  I thank God for the military academies, and the Marines, along with the various kinds of Special Forces like the Seals where young people can be trained to be leaders of our military.

I can now reflect back on many decades since I became a follower of Jesus in 1949.  I have come to the conclusion that God is the great Mentor of leaders and He does His most effective mentoring when things are difficult and adversarial.  Scripture records God’s method for developing men into the great leaders of the people of God.

His process is described in the poem below by Dale Martin Stone:

 “When God wants to drill a man
 And thrill a man and skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
 
When He yearns with all his heart
To create so bold a man
That the whole world will be amazed,
Watch his methods.  Watch his ways!
 
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay,
Which only God can understand.
 
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands.
How God bends, but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
 
How He uses whom He chooses
And with every purpose fuses him,
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out—
God knows what He’s about.”

 Is God calling you to be a leader?