Letting Go & Letting God

January 5, 2018

“… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)

As we move into a new year many of us review “these forty-eleven things I dabble in” as we consider our priorities. Spiritual heavyweights like Paul write: “One thing I do.” They can write that they have their priorities sifted down to one thing, because they forget those things that are behind.

We all have things we need to let go of to press toward the goal of what God wants us to do now and in the future.

The story is told of a man who fell over a cliff but managed to grab hold of a little bush about forty feet from the top. He frantically shouted “Help!” several times but his voice simply echoed back to him. Desperately he yelled, “Anybody up there?”  A subterranean voice answered, “Yes!” He then yelled again “Help!” Then the voice said,“Let go!” After a brief pause the man shouted, “Anybody else up there?”

Sometimes it takes a lot of faith to let go. It may be that we need to let go of things that we cannot do and only God can do. We may need to let go of things we cannot control. And, sometimes we need to let go of hurts that people have inflicted on us that we cannot forgive and just let it go.

Do you need to let go and let God, so you can unload baggage and move forward with God?

Dick Woodward, 11 January 2013


In Christ: A Race Plan for 2018

January 2, 2018

“… But one thing I do… I press toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Are you entering this New Year with resolution? Can you reduce your priorities to just one thing? In the excerpts above from the writings of the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest missionaries of the church wrote that he had just one priority: “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

The great apostle often used athletic terminology in his writings. Here Paul likens life to a race and the goal at the end of this race is what God is calling him to be and do, in Christ, until he is called home to be with the Lord forever.

When athletes are pacing a race, their objective is to give everything they have to winning the race at the instant they break the tape at the end of the race. If they spend all their energy before they break that tape they will collapse before the race is over. If they have not given it all when they break the tape at the end of the race, they have not done their best to win the race. That is the race plan and life plan Paul is describing here.

As you begin your race in this New Year do you have a race plan for your life span? Are you pacing your race in such a way that when you break the tape at the end of the year you will have given it all for what God is calling you to be and do in Christ this year?

Dick Woodward, 14 January 2010


A Question for New Year’s Eve

December 29, 2017

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)

The last days of the year are a good time for reflection. Have you ever had such a bad year that you could not live with the idea of another year of the same?  Are you there now? If you are, you could be ready for this question that God likes to ask people from time to time.

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?”

This consummate question of direction implies that if we do not have a crisis that changes things, we are going where we have come from.

Sometimes we are what needs to change. Jeremiah actually mocks us for trying to change ourselves: “Why do you gad about so much to change your ways? …  Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots?  Then may you also do good, who are accustomed to doing evil.” (Jeremiah 2:36; 13:23)

There is a big difference between trying to change ourselves and being changed by God. Unless we are changed by God, or God changes what only God can change, we’re trapped in a cycle of going where we have come from.

David, with great spiritual discernment, asked God to create in him a new heart. God answered that prayer. (Psalm 51:10)  God can do that today. We’re not doomed to that cycle of going where we have come from. We can be changed. God can change the things that must change so we will not go where we have come from next year.

Confess that you can’t change yourself or your circumstances, but believe God can as you enter the New Year, then watch at God work.

Dick Woodward, 30 December 2011


A Christmas Question: Where is He?

December 5, 2017

“… Behold, wise men …came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is He?” (Matthew 2:2)

In the Old Testament, God begins dialogue with us by asking the question: “Where are you?” The New Testament begins with wise men asking the question: “Where is He?” If we are spiritually wise, as we read the Old Testament God will show us where we truly are. By the time we reach the New Testament we’re ready for the question of the wise men, because we know by then that we need a Savior – and we need to know where our Savior, Jesus, is.

Wise people still ask the question, “Where is He?” The Gospel of Matthew reports that those wise men were directed to a house where they found and worshiped a young Child about two years of age. By application, when we ask that question today, what are the answers we should expect to receive?

In John’s profound letter at the end of the New Testament we find these words: “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1John 3:2) These three words “as He is” raise the question in what form, and in what ways, can we expect to find Jesus today?

If you want to be spiritually wise, ask the question: “Where is He?” Then look where a unique quality of Love can be found today. Look for where a unique quality of Light and Truth can be found today. Since we do not find Him in a test tube or a fossil, look for Jesus in an abundant spiritual dimension of life.

Dick Woodward, 07 December 2010


When God Does a New Thing

October 17, 2017

“…but the Lord brought us out from there to bring us in…”  (Deuteronomy 6:23)

God often wants to do a new thing in our lives. This strategy is profiled in Deuteronomy where we read that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, to then bring them in the Promised Land of Canaan.

When God wants to do a new thing in our lives God has three challenges. First, God must get us out of the old to then lead us into the new thing God has for us. That’s not easy because we are often bound by security issues and don’t want to come out of the old. God, therefore, sometimes has to blast us out of the old to bring us into the new thing. That is why the will of God often involves a pull from the front and a boot from the rear.

God’s next challenge is to keep us going through the transition time between the old and the new. Transitions can often be difficult, so we need a lot of grace to get through them, especially when transitions take years of time.

God’s third challenge is to get us right so God can settle us into the new thing God has in store for us. This could happen because we are burned out in a dead-end job of an old place and God has something much better for us.

There are many reasons why God may want to do a new thing in your life. Have you cooperated, or are you cooperating, as God takes you through these three challenges?

Dick Woodward, 05 October 2010


Opening Our Agendas to God’s Agenda (daily!)

October 10, 2017

“… All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

I find it intriguing to know that in little genes that cannot be seen with the naked eye the genetic heritage of a human being is determined: how high heads will be from the sidewalk, eye color, hair color, the capacity for intellectual gifts, athleticism, and even mannerisms are all wrapped up in microscopic genes.

David – a great warrior, king, man after the heart of God and hymn writer –  tells us in Psalm 139 that before we existed as genes God determined the days we will live on this planet. The Living Bible Paraphrase reads that “before we existed God had an agenda for every day we are to live on this earth.”

A few years ago my wife and I woke up one morning and prayed together that if our agenda for the day did not agree with God’s agenda, we were willing to be preempted. Later that day while having lunch with our pastor son, I realized I was having a heart attack. As the paramedics rolled me on a stretcher out our back door to the ambulance, I said to my wife, “Looks like we’re being preempted big time!”

Thankfully, the doctors turned things around before it became a full-blown heart attack. However, that experience gave my wife and me a perspective we will never forget. There is God’s agenda and there is our agenda for every day we live. How should this truth impact the way we plan our agendas each day?

Are we willing to be preempted by God’s agenda every day?

Dick Woodward, 01 October 2010


Ability and Availability

September 19, 2017

“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9)

A myth often believed today goes something like this: “God uses super-duper people to do super-duper things because they are super-duper people.” The truth is the exact opposite. Throughout Scriptures God uses many ordinary people to do extraordinary things because they are available.

As a pastor I’ve often observed people who are long on ability are often short on availability, while people who are short on ability are often long on availability. The exhortation in Scripture comes down to this: whether we are long or short on ability, the important thing is that we become long on availability.

In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, we find the miracle of the “Feeding of the Five Thousand.” As Jesus fed this great multitude, He passed the fragments of bread and fish through the hands of His disciples to all the hungry people.

Where did Jesus get the bread and fish? Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew, discovered a little boy who was willing to give up his lunch, something like five little biscuits and two sardines. “What are they among so many?” In the hands of Jesus, enough.

When God is in something, little is much when placed in the hands of Jesus.

I challenge you with the vision of a little boy who placed what little he had in the hands of Jesus. Many of us say we would give to the cause of Christ and serve Him if we had much to give or great abilities to serve. We must see, however, that our stewardship is not based upon what we do not have, but upon what we have.

God is looking for people who can take whatever they have and place it in the hands of Jesus.

Dick Woodward, (MBC Report, Fall 1993)