What does God require of us?

March 23, 2018

“…And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The great prophet Micah asked an important question. In effect, his question is what are the divine requirements of God?  What does God expect, require, demand, and command from me? Micah gives us three answers.

His first answer is that we should do justly. In other words, we should be a conduit of justice. We should stand up against injustice anytime and anywhere we see injustice. Since we live in a world that is filled with injustice this can be dangerous. Jesus Christ did this perfectly and it got Him crucified.

Micah’s second answer is that we should love mercy.  Mercy is unconditional love.  This is the chief characteristic of the love of God. David believed that the mercy and unconditional love of God will follow and pursue us all the days of our lives.

Micah’s final answer is that we are to walk humbly with our God. Humility has consistently been a characteristic of the great old souls we have known in this life. C.S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins, and we read in Proverbs that God hates pride. If Lewis is right we can see why God hates pride because God hates sin.

Are you willing to be the person Micah profiled? There is a sense in which we cannot become that just, merciful and humble person through our own efforts. But these three answers give us a profile of the person God wants us to be.

Are you willing to let God give you the grace to be that person?

Dick Woodward, 20 March 2011

Loving Others

March 20, 2018

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

I challenge you to meditate on these fifteen applications of love every day for a month.  Summarize each one in one or two words on a card you can place on your mirror, in your purse, wallet, or on the sun-visor of your car. Fervently ask God to empower you to be a conduit of His love with this cluster of virtues by Christ, in Christ and for Christ.

Think of one specific person and ask God to love that person in these ways through you. If you are married, begin loving your spouse in these ways. If you have children, apply this love to them. If you are not married, pray for the power to apply this love to your parents, siblings, and those with whom you live and work.

By the grace of God, I have seen this love of Christ change lives. Ask God to give you power to apply this love to the most difficult relationships you have, like your enemies. They will be your best opportunity to prove this love is not coming from you, but from Christ.

Pray that Christ will pass His love through you to address the pain and quiet desperation of the hurting people in your life. As He does, you will affirm where the risen Christ is today, and where you want to be for the rest of your life.

Dick Woodward, (from A Prescription For Love)

A Prescription for a Panic Attack

March 16, 2018

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’”  (Psalm 3:1-2)

As David writes this third Psalm he is facing the greatest crisis of his life. His son, Absalom, has turned the entire nation against him and has driven him out of Jerusalem into the wilderness where David hid from King Saul when he was a young fugitive. His situation is so desperate many people said even God can not help him. But in this psalm David explains how he knows God is there for him; he is not having a panic attack, so he gives us this prescription to prevent us from having one.

Observe the way David uses three tenses as he lays out his prescription that kept him from panicking. He recalls that in the past there were many times when he cried out to God and the Lord heard him. When he lay down to sleep not knowing if the enemy would slit his throat while he slept, he awoke alive because the Lord sustained him. He then declared in the future tense that he will not be afraid of the thousands of people who want to see him dead. He then declares in the present tense that God is with him and His present blessing is upon him.

When you are in a crisis think back to times in the past when God met you and brought you through a crisis. Then let those past answered prayers inspire you to trust God for the present and the future crises in your life.

Look back. With faith, look forward. Then look around at your present circumstances, not with panic but with faith and peace.

Dick Woodward, 18 March 2012

A ‘pole sana!’ Pity Party

March 13, 2018

“But the LORD said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1Kings 19:9)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. First Kings 18 reports one of the greatest days a prophet could possibly have when Elijah led the chosen people of God into a great and mighty revival.  In response to his sermon, they shouted that they were going to put God first. As evidence of their fervent dedication to God they helped him get rid of 850 false prophets of wicked King Ahab and his depraved Queen Jezebel.

The very next day when Elijah received a message from Queen Jezebel that she was going to kill him, this great prophet ran into the wilderness then slumped down in exhausted despair under a broom bush tree where he asked God to kill him. God did not kill Elijah but He did answer his prayer. God fed him with supernatural bread then put him in a deep sleep. This gave Elijah the strength to travel to a cave where God asked him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

If this can happen to a great man of God, this can and does happen to all of us sooner or later. Elijah was having a pity party. With my severe physical limitations if I get anywhere near a pity party I immediately sink like a cannonball in a swimming pool! In East Africa there’s an oft repeated Swahili saying: “pole sana!” It means “poor pitiful you – poor one – so sorry for you!”

Writing as one who cannot survive a ‘pole sane’ pity party I warn you to flee this temptation like a plague. It’s a blueprint for a burnout. If this finds you having a pity party let God ask you: “What are you doing here?

Dick Woodward, 28 March 2011

Dick Woodward (25 October 1930 – 08 March 2014)

March 9, 2018

Yesterday marked the 4 year memorial of Dick Woodward’s passing. Today the Editor (a.k.a. the Blog Posting Elf) would like to again share a previous post of a letter from ICM’s website.  Instead of words from Dick Woodward, here are words about Dick Woodward from one of ICM’s African ministry partners.

17 March 2014

We have just learnt about the departure of our Leader, Teacher and trainer Reverend Dick Woodward, that we have come to know and love for some years now and whose teaching has been and still will be the foundation and the guidance to our churches, correcting our marriages shaping our doctrines and illuminating our understanding with the Mini Bible College, he is and will be always a blessing to our churches and pastors and mostly to myself and family.

What will be my excuse before God? What will be your excuse before God? If Woodward could do what he did in the ability of his God, what will be your excuse with the same God?

If Woodward could despise his pain and serve his God to the last day of his life and impact so many lives up to my little village – what will be my excuse?

Let us continue to perpetuate the purposes he lived for.

Our Pastor is not gone he is still with us through his work although he sleeps in death.

Amen – (from the Editor!)

Dick & Ginny Woodward in their “African Outfits” the Editor had made for them in Tanzania (worn on Sundays to dress up!) Now they’re worshiping together forever with Jesus in the Presence of Everlasting Love.

When We Fail

March 6, 2018

“He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness…”  (Psalm 23:3)

Failure is one of the most feared and dreaded experiences in life. The fear of failure drives millions of people every day, all day long. There are many ways to fail. We can fail in our work, in our marriage, and as parents. We can fail personally by feeling we’re not living up to our expectations and our potential. We can fail morally.

When we fail what do we do about it?

The third verse of Psalm 23 gives us a prescription for failure. David knew what it was to fail. When he needed restoration he tells us how his Shepherd restored him when he wrote: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.”  David had already written that his Shepherd leads him to still waters. The Hebrew word for ‘lead’ he uses the second time means his Shepherd ‘drives’ him into the paths of righteousness.

David is telling us here that when we need restoration we should not seek a cheap or easy one. Rehabilitation means “to invest again with dignity.” He was implying that his restoration was a matter of being driven into the paths of righteousness for some time – perhaps even for years. His Shepherd used those paths of righteousness to restore David’s soul and give him an opportunity to invest again with dignity.

By application, when you fail and need restoration don’t seek a cheap or an easy one. Let the great Shepherd lead you into the paths of righteousness that will truly restore your soul.

Dick Woodward, 28 March 2009

Poor in Spirit: I Can’t but Jesus Can

March 2, 2018

“Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn…” (Matthew 5:3-4)

Jesus gave this teaching to His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. They were with Him on the slopes around the Sea of Galilee while He was ministering to a vast multitude of people. Mark 3:13 & 14 tell us that by personal invitation Jesus invited these disciples to join Him at a higher level, so He might teach them how to be part of His solution and answer to the problems at the bottom of the mountain.

Jesus taught the disciples His first two attitudes: to be poor in spirit and to mourn. Poor in spirit means broken in spirit and mourning can be applied to what we experience while we are learning that we are poor in spirit. I paraphrase these first two attitudes with the words “I can’t but He can.” One of the best ways Jesus teaches us that we can’t is failure. We hate to fail. We loathe failure. We are driven in many ways by the fear of failure. That’s why mourning can be involved in learning these first two attitudes.

Another application could be that Jesus is teaching His disciples to look down the hill at the hurting multitude. He is asking, “What makes you think you can be an answer and solution of Mine to their problems if you never know what it is to mourn and experience a broken spirit that confesses “I can’t but He can?”

Have you learned this yet? Are you letting the experiences of your life be vehicles through which Jesus teaches you these first two blessed attitudes?

Dick Woodward, 23 March 2010