Distress-driven Balm from the Psalms

August 28, 2015

“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”  (Psalm 4:1 KJV)

One of my favorite Scripture verses is the first verse of Psalm 4 in the old King James translation. David is in a wringer and he is talking to God about it. Almost parenthetically he drops this thought, “You have enlarged me when I was in distress.”  As I reflect upon my wringer years of disability, and I think of the growth I have experienced while in the wringer, that little phrase says it for me. Truly God has grown me in my time of distress.  In His providence, I believe God always has that agenda when He is growing His children…

As I mentioned on the phone, Psalm 46 is a great psalm that applies to servants of the Lord when they are living on the edge and the whole world seems to be coming unraveled like a cheap sweater. An NASB footnote says the opening verse could be interpreted this way, “God is my refuge and strength.  He is abundantly available for help in tight places.” This psalm inspired Martin Luther’s great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It can be applied devotionally to believers who live in contexts like where you are.  The Living Bible paraphrases the Psalm, “Even if the earth blows up and the mountains are thrown into the sea, the believer can say, “the Lord of hosts is with me, the God of Jacob is my fortress.”  The punchline comes when the Psalmist instructs the believer in the midst of chaos to, “Be still and know that I am… and that I will be.”

I hope you have a chance to check out Psalm 143.  As I meditate on this one, having memorized it, the Lord brings you to mind.  David cries to God, “Answer me speedily because my spirit fails. Cause me to hear Your loving kindness in the morning.  Cause me to know the way in which I should walk.” I like the last part when he prays, “Revive me.”  The old King James reads “quicken me.”  That word, quicken, means something like, “touch me to life – give me a touch from You that will spring to life the work of the Spirit in my heart and life.”

… Well, as your ‘ole daddy and pastor I just wanted to unload some of these Scriptures that mean so much to me.  You may be down in the well, but we are holding the ropes. Recently I heard somebody say, “When saying goodbye to a fellow soldier of Christ, we should never say, ‘take it easy.’ We should say, ‘Hang tough, and fight the good fight.'”

Gobs and gobs of agape….

Dick Woodward, 01 April 1997 (fax to his overseas daughter)

Editor’s Note: Found this fax while sorting dusty boxes this week. Although much longer (many more Psalms, all typed out!) thought it might bless someone out there like it did Papa’s kid, again, after 18 years.  Kinda long, but since The Editor has averaged only 1 post per week the last 2 months, this can make up for two.   Bi-weekly posting grooves will hopefully be back on track soon.


Maintaining the Peace of God

August 21, 2015

“…never forget the nearness of your Lord.”  (Philippians 4:5)

When the Apostle Paul experienced his last horrible Roman imprisonment, visiting him was very dangerous. If you came to see him, the Romans might chain you next to him. And nobody did. He writes: “They all forsook me. May God not lay it to their charge.” But he also wrote: “Nevertheless the Lord stood by me and ministered to me.” (2 Timothy 4:16, 17)  That is what he means when he prescribes: “Never forget the nearness of your Lord.”

This is why I am continuously emphasizing the ground rule that a personal relationship with the Lord is an absolute if you are serious about applying Paul’s prescription for maintaining the peace of God. If you would like to have a relationship with Christ, follow His directions. Our Lord prescribed:

“Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For every one who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9, 10 Amplified Bible)

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking. If you cannot understand the concept of “the nearness of your Lord,” give yourself to the pursuit of God as described by Jesus in the passage above to find and maintain the peace of God.

Dick Woodward, 19 June 2009


Thimble vs. Truckload Faith

August 14, 2015

“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress..” (Psalm 4:1)

While I was learning that God is there, real and personal I met with one of my mentors after experiencing the divine presence of God in a mighty way.  I told Paris Reidhead, “My cup is just running over, Paris!” His response was: “How big is your cup, Dick?  It doesn’t take much to run over a thimble.  Why don’t you ask God to turn your thimble into a cup, your cup into a bucket, and your bucket into a truckload?”

I did pray that prayer, fervently.  At that time I did not know that according to verse above God’s vehicle for that kind of growth is distress.  If you want to know what distress is, just drop the first two letters:  God uses stress to grow us spiritually, just as putting stress on our muscles grows us physically.

Over the next few years I found myself going through deep waters and fiery trials.  When we had three toddlers and two in diapers my wife was hospitalized four times in one year in a hospital 100 miles away from our home.  During that crisis, as I juggled pastoring a church and mothering our five children the Lord enlarged me, big time!

Years later I lost my health and became a bed fast quadriplegic. That is when I really learned the “Four Spiritual Secrets” which have enabled me to minister beyond anything I could have imagined.

When you want to grow spiritually I dare you to ask God to turn your thimble into a cup, your cup into a bucket, and your bucket into a truckload.

Dick Woodward, 08 March 2013

Editors Note: A reminder, the Four Spiritual Secrets are:

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.


A Prescription for Knowing God

August 7, 2015

“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…”      ..(Hebrews 11:6)

Do you know God?  I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God?  Do you want to know God?  In the verse above we find a prescription that can help you know God.

The prescription is that we must believe that He is, and we must believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  My passion to know God led me to confess:  “I believe that He is.”  But what is He and where is He?

A very helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of the Apostle John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16).  After studying the quality of love God is, the prescription above led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is He likely to be doing His love thing?”

At that time I was a social worker.  Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this:  “God, I have an idea that You are loving where people are hurting.  That’s where I’m going, so when I get there pass the love You are through me and address their pain.”

As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and He touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between His love and the pain of hurting people.

Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011


Nourishing the Spirit

July 21, 2015

“If any man wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the teaching whether it is from God…” (John 7:17)

Jesus gave us a principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. The principle is this: If any man wills to do, he will know.  For millennia those who approach the proposition of faith intellectually have said, “When I know, then I will do.”  Their premise has been and remains: “the knowing leads to the doing.”  Pointing to their temples they say, “Reach me here.” Then, pointing to their heart, they say, “Then I will follow through here.”  They are essentially saying, “Reach me intellectually and then I will commit volitionally.”

Jesus cut through that when He proclaimed this principle:  the knowing does not lead to the doing.  The doing leads to the knowing.  When you commit your will to doing what Jesus teaches then the intellectual affirmation will follow.  It is only then that you will know the teaching of Jesus is the Word of God and not just the ideas of another Rabbi coming down the pike.

When people followed Jesus on His terms He called them ‘disciples.’  A synonym for that word is “apprentice.”  An apprentice and a disciple are learning what they’re doing and doing what they’re learning.

As Jesus apprenticed His disciples they discovered that the doing leads to the knowing.  Are we applying this principle to our faith as followers of Jesus Christ?

Dick Woodward, Lackey Free Clinic Health Beat, Summer 2009


Living In Christ

July 14, 2015

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I’m indebted to E. Stanley Jones, a missionary who served in India for 50 years, and his superb daily devotional, In Christ, for showing me the importance of this phrase in the New Testament.  I highly recommend his book which highlights the use of this phrase by all the New Testament authors.

According to Dr. Jones, when we think about being “in Christ,” we should realize that Paul was not talking about being in religion.  Few people have been more into religion than Paul before he met Jesus.  Paul was so religious he fervently persecuted followers of Jesus, sure that he was pleasing God by trying to snuff them out.

It is possible to be in religion, but not be in Christ.  It is possible to be in church, and not be in Christ.  We can be in doctrine, or theology, and not be in Christ.  We can be in the ministry and not be in Christ.  We can be committed to Christ, and believe a lot of things about Christ, and still not be in Christ.

To be in Christ locates us in a Person, right now.

Unless we are ‘in Christ’ it’s like we have a powerful engine in our automobile but we cannot find our ignition key that turns the engine on.  Being ‘in Christ’ is the ignition key, opening us up to experience “all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3)  Paul essentially writes: I live because Christ lives in me and I live in Christ.

Just as you sometimes cannot find the keys to your automobile, have you misplaced this critical spiritual key – are you living in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2013


Ginny Woodward: Wrapped in a Bundle of life with God

June 24, 2015

“Wrapped in a bundle of life with God…” (I Samuel 25:29)

These words of Scripture are often found inscribed on gravestones of children who died at a very early age, especially in Jewish cemeteries where Jewish mothers expressed the almost inexpressible feelings of their hearts as they laid their children to rest.

As Christians we could also inscribe these words on the gravestones of our children and adult loved ones because they should bring great comfort and consolation to us as we think of those we have lost through sickness and death…  (Dick Woodward, 23 September 2010)

On Monday morning, 22 June 2015, Dick Woodward’s precious wife, Ginny, went to rest in the Everlasting Arms of God with her five children gathered around her bedside.  As the family sang “Amazing Grace,” she took her last breath.   We, her family, are so grateful to God for the gift of her life and the amazing grace of Jesus that fills the legacy of love and faith she leaves with us.

As partner with Papa in ministry for 58 years of their marriage, during the last 25 years when he said, “we” would do something, he meant it.  Mama literally served as his hands and feet (and much more besides) when he became a wheel-chair bound quadriplegic and then 10 years later a bedfast quad.

Steadfast faithfulness describes our precious Mama.  We thank God for His faithfulness to her, and her faithfulness to God, to us, and to our Papa for so many years – a witness not only to our family and the Tidewater/ Williamsburg community, but all around the world where the Mini-Bible College continues to yield Kingdom fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We pray that the seeds of faith she planted in our lives, watered with her deep, deep love of Jesus, will continue to bloom and grow for many years to come.

“… the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end…”

Ginny Johnson WoodwardThere will be a Memorial Celebration for Ginny Woodward at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, 26 June 2015, at the Williamsburg Community Chapel.

We, her family, thank you for your prayers at this time.


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