LOVE!! – Indestructible & Inspirational – LOVE!!

March 15, 2019

“Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:8)

Human love is often based on performance. When we apply the love of Christ, our love is not based on the performance of those we love. That is what makes this love indestructible.

The love of Jesus Christ is a tough, indestructible love because it is unconditional.

In wedding ceremonies, many couples make the unconditional vow: “…for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death us do part.” The living Christ, empowering the love Paul prescribes in 1 Corinthians 13, is the dynamic that makes that possible.

We can also make the application that these ways of love are often irresistible, because they are inspirational. Peter, ultimately, could not resist the positive reinforcement of Jesus calling him a rock. I personally could not resist when my mentors prayed, imagined, dreamed, hoped and believed in my ultimate potential.

If you ask Christ to make your life a conduit of His love to your spouse, children, and those who are difficult to love – you will often make the joyful discovery that ultimately they will find the love of Christ to be irresistible and inspirational. They will begin to believe what you pray, imagine, dream, hope and believe about and for them.

For 28 years, I have experienced the gradual, but relentless onset of paralysis, which has reduced me to a helpless, bedfast quadriplegic. During that time I have learned much about the love of Christ from my wife, who is the most selfless, others-centered person I have ever known. In all these years she has never taken a day, weekend or vacation from her care of me. There are very few people in this world who know as well as I what it means to be the recipient of the unconditional and indestructible love of Christ.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Enduring Love: Sanctified Unselfishness

January 29, 2019

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own…”  (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so. The Greek word for kindness means love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.

Love does not envy.” The Greek words Paul used here prescribe “an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.”

In other words: sanctified unselfishness.

Those applying this love are not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness. Their love commitment is not, ‘I love me and I need you” or “You love me and so do I.” They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness; my love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.”

Think of how critically this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident, or illness.

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness. Therefore, the greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness.

This love virtue of unselfishness is repeated for emphasis and listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore in our hearts that as conduits of the love of Christ:

Love does not seek its own (way.)” 

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Open Hearts: Open Communication

October 13, 2018

“We have spoken freely to you Corinthians and opened wide our hearts to you… As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)

Life so often comes down to relationships, and relationships are all about communication. The Apostle Paul profiled that reality when he wrote to the church in Corinth.  He also prescribed a solution.  As a summary paraphrase of this passage, Paul is suggesting that each of us has a communication “flap” on our hearts.  As married couples we should be face to face and heart to heart with our communication flaps open. The hard reality is that we are often back to back with our communication flaps closed tight.

The solution Paul models here is that someone must take the initiative and say: “I am heart to heart with you and my flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

Communication in relationships is a challenge we face every day in our families, work lives, and interactions with people. It’s so important to realize that someone has to initiate a solution by saying, in spirit and in principle, to the person with whom they are having a communication conflict: “I am heart to heart with you and my communication flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

You may be amazed at how taking this stance can melt obstacles between you and a difficult person. Throughout any given day we face relational challenges that can be turned around through constructive and loving communication.

Are you mature enough to let God use you to initiate the solution Paul modeled for us by opening up your heart?

Dick Woodward, 14 October 2011


Forgiving Others

September 25, 2018

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12)

In all the communication that flows between a husband and wife (and in close relationships we have with others), there are ten critical words that often must be spoken. These ten words have saved marriages and the lack of them has dissolved marriages into divorce.

These ten words are: “I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?”

These words need this ten-word response: “You were wrong. I was hurt. But I forgive you.”

Some people will never say the words: “I was wrong.” They will never say: “I am sorry.” And they certainly would never ask for forgiveness. They would rather live alone for the rest of their lives than say these ten critical words. It may be their pride that prevents them, or perhaps they are driven by the myth of their own perfection. But these words can make the difference between marriage and living alone.

It is hard to imagine an unforgiving authentic disciple of Jesus Christ when He instructs us in the Disciple’s Prayer to forgive as we have been forgiven – or we invalidate our own forgiveness. (Matthew 6: 8-15)  According to the translation from which I have quoted, the prayer actually asks our Lord to forgive us as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.

“Forgive, as we have been forgiven…”

Dick Woodward, 25 September 2012


A Prescription for Peace: Rest in Christ Jesus

September 14, 2018

“The peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:7)

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? It means we are so in union with Christ, as a branch is in union with a vine, that we draw from Him all the life-giving spiritual power we need for everything we do for Him, with Him and through Him, as we rest in Him.

It means resting in the power of Jesus to do the things He calls us to do, all day long.

As a bedfast quadriplegic & pastor, my way of expressing this is the Four Spiritual Secrets:

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I can’t, but He can.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I don’t want to, but He wants to.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

So much anxiety comes from thinking we must do the work of Christ in our own strength. If we are doing God’s will, we are often going to face things we cannot do on our own, but, as vehicles through which Christ does His work, can be done.

Overwhelming physical and emotional problems that are crushing the life out of us – terminal or chronic illness, difficult relationships and the challenges of everyday living – will only be manageable when we realize that facing them is not a matter of who and what we are, or what we can or cannot do. They are simply an opportunity to prove and demonstrate Who and what Jesus is and what He can do.

We must acknowledge that we can’t but Jesus can, as we rest our hearts and minds in Christ and in what only He can do.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Giving vs. Getting

August 3, 2018

“… Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

This has been called the ninth beatitude of Jesus.  When Jesus began His greatest discourse with a check-up from the neck-up, He shared eight beautiful attitudes that will make us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This ninth beatitude can transform and revolutionize our relationships.

If you are in a relationship, like a marriage, for what you can get from that other person, Jesus has a challenge for you. For one week, instead of thinking of what you are going to get from the person, ask yourself continuously what you can give to that person. After giving this assignment to many married couples I have seen this challenge revolutionize their marriages.

You see, if you are in a marriage for what you can get from each other, neither of you is receiving anything because neither of you is giving anything. The relationship is a sterile empty vacuum. But this one attitude can completely transform your marriage (and any relationship) if one or both of the people in that relationship will dare to accept this challenge from Jesus.

There is no place in the Gospels where Jesus speaks these exact words. However, in addition to having this quotation in the book of Acts, the spirit of this beatitude characterizes the relationships of Jesus we read about all through the first four books of the New Testament.

I exhort you to accept this challenge of Jesus for one week! If you do, you will also prove in experience that there is in fact more happiness (which is what the word blessed means) in giving than in getting.

Dick Woodward, 03 August 2009


Relational Two-Way Streets

June 29, 2018

“For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:2)

You can’t control the weather and rainy days but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you. There is a relationship principle that tells us communication is a two-way street: whatever you send down that street comes back up that street in your relationship with another person.

That is what the Apostle Paul is essentially teaching: If I say things that get you down who is going to build me up or pull me up? The reality is that you are probably going to pull me down because misery loves company. This is a negative way of stating a positive truth. That truth is if I say things that build you up, I have equipped you to build me up.

In another place Paul wrote:Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

In every relationship we have, with our spouses, children, parents, those we work with, those we work for, and those who work for us – make the commitment to say and do things that build them up and minister the grace of God to them.

You will be surprised by joy to discover that what you send down a relational street will come back up that street in your relationship with that person.

Jesus gave an unstable man named Simon the nickname Peter, which means stable like a rock. After calling Peter a rock for three years Peter was stable like a rock.

Dick Woodward, 29 June 2010