March 31, 2017
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Who was the greatest prophet who ever lived? According to Jesus the answer is John the Baptist (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11). After studying the Scriptures for six decades, I find that answer intriguing because there’s very little space in the Bible recording John the Baptist’s life and ministry.
As I meditate on the Scriptures that describe him, I have come to a conclusion that at least one key to John the Baptist’s greatness was that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his ability.
“…Jesus must increase, and I must decrease…”
As we attempt to discover who we are and what God wants to do through our lives, it is a good rule of thumb to accept the limits of our limitations and the responsibility for our abilities. When a degenerative disease of the spinal cord took away my physical abilities, it was critical for me to accept my increasing limitations and yet continue to be responsible for my abilities.
After two years of illness when acceptance came, it was so profound I decided it was a form of inner healing. Using speech recognition software on my computer I received God’s grace to write about ten thousand pages of the Mini Bible College. These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into 28 languages* and are used in sixty countries.
It fills me with grateful worship to realize that the formula for greatness I learned from John the Baptist has guided me to the most important work I have done for the Kingdom.
Are you willing to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your abilities?
Dick Woodward, 16 October 2012
*Editor’s Note: At last check with International Cooperating Ministries, the Mini Bible College has now been translated in 41 languages… with nine more (& counting) in translation process!
March 28, 2017
“Only let us live up to the truth we now have.” (Philippians 3:16 LB)
The Apostle Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. He often shared the details of that experience as we find in the third chapter of his letter to the Church at Philippi. It was as if his accounting books were turned upside down: what had been in his gain column was now in his loss column and vice versa.
After his accounting books had been turned upside down (or we might say right side up), his ambitions totally changed in the gain column. He wanted to tackle the purposes for which the risen Christ had tackled him. Now he only wanted to know Christ and the high calling of God to which Christ was leading him.
Paul claims he has not attained all these things in his new gain column, but he has learned a principle about knowing the will of God: if we want to know the will of God we must live up to the light and truth God has given us at any given time on our faith journey.
We can take away from this a prescription for guidance. If we want to see further ahead into the will of God for our lives, we should move ahead into the will of God just as far as we can see. Like driving at night across country we can move ahead into the 100 yards of light our headlights give us, that leads us from coast to coast one mile at a time.
When we live up to the light we have, God gives us more light.
Dick Woodward, 08 January 2011
December 20, 2016
“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low; the crooked places straight, and the rough places smooth… I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.” (Isaiah 40:4; 42:16)
The following is from a tribute given by one of Dick Woodward’s granddaughters, Jessey, at his Memorial Celebration…
“I’d like to share an email I got from my grandfather when I was 20:
‘I can’t begin to tell you how much I love you. I’m supposed to be something of a wordsmith, but words fail me as I try to find words that adequately express the love your grandmother and I have for you. How I would love to sit down with you and hear what our Father God is making you know about your future.’
And then his famous closing line: ‘Great Gobs of Agape, Your Granddaddy.’
My whole life he’s been loving me just like that – over the top kind of love that’s for me exactly as I am at that moment. He loved me and it had nothing to do with what I’d done or who I was becoming. He just loved me like crazy.
And with that he had this huge excitement for my future which shined like a light in the dark. That light helped me to climb mountains and do hard things that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
As I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve realized – isn’t that just like Jesus? He loves us with great gobs of agape just as we are right now, and He shines in our lives, and with His light we climb God-sized mountains.”
Jessey Woodward Davenport, 15 March 2014
November 29, 2016
“There we saw the giants… and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight.” (Numbers 13:33)
The book of Numbers records the death of an entire generation. Twelve spies were sent to do reconnaissance in the land of Canaan. Ten of the spies gave a report focusing on the giants. Only two spoke of the greatness of the land and exhorted the Israelites to invade Canaan. While Joshua and Caleb were men of great faith, the other ten were experts in Giantology.
The entire generation who listened to the ten perished in the wilderness; only two people survived the most tragic judgment of God recorded in the Bible. An old spiritual put it this way: “Others saw the giants. Caleb (and Joshua) saw the Lord!” We read that they followed the Lord because they believed God well able to conquer those giants.
I have spent most of my adult life as a pastor. I cannot help but allow the thought that the twelve spies resemble a board of Elders, a Session, a Vestry, or a board of Stewards. Sometimes when a church is facing a huge challenge two will have the faith of Caleb and Joshua and ten will be expert giantologists.
We all have “giants” in our lives. As a bed-fast quadriplegic with a wife in a wheelchair, I certainly have mine. I’m sure you have yours. We also have choices. We can choose to see the giants and spend much time talking about how big they are. Or we can choose to see the Lord conquering our giants. We might call this: “Two people in a pew — which one are you?”
Are you a Caleb with conquering-the-giants faith, or are you getting your Ph.D. in Giantology?
Dick Woodward, 27 November 2013
September 27, 2016
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father…” (Luke 16:17-18)
The dictionary defines self as “the uniqueness, the individuality of any given person, which makes them distinct from every other living person.” In all its forms “self” emphasizes the sacred individuality God intended for every human being.
Robert Lewis Stephenson wrote: “Soon or late, every person must sit down to a banquet of consequences.” In the parable of the prodigal son, the banquet of consequences the lost son sat down to was the slop he was feeding hogs in a hog pen owned by a Gentile. That was just about as low as a Jewish boy could sink in this life. (Luke 15:11-24)
In the hog pen the prodigal son made the decisions many people make while they are living in the hog pens of this world. He decided that he was not a hog. He may be in a hog pen. He may look, and even smell, like the hogs. He may wish he could eat the slop he was feeding the hogs. But he was not a hog. He was a son and he did not belong in a hog pen. He belonged in his father’s house. He therefore made the deliberate decision to leave the hog pen and return to his father’s house and his father’s love.
Jesus described the decision of the prodigal son this way: “when he came to himself…” He came back to his self when he decided to return to his father’s house and love where he could be in the process of perceiving, believing and becoming the person his father wanted him to be. He came to his self when he decided to reclaim the unique person his father wanted him to be that would make him distinct from every other living person.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Your Self