Memorials of Gratitude

May 25, 2018

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” (Philippians 1:3)

It is fitting in the United States of America that we set aside a day each year to memorialize our fallen warriors.  In the Old Testament God regularly commanded His chosen ones to erect memorials so they would never forget certain events on their journey of faith.  When we study those memorials we realize that God wanted them to remember miracles He performed for them. He never wanted them to forget significant spiritual datelines.  He often repeated for emphasis things He wanted them to remember.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we therefore continuously hear the exhortation to remember!

Memorials are closely linked with the attitude of gratitude and the awful sin of ingratitude. On Memorial Day are you thankful for “The Greatest Generation” of the 1940s who saved us from an unthinkable future without freedom? Does your memorial of gratitude continue through those who fell in Korea, Vietnam and now in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Do you have spiritual memorial datelines for which you are grateful as you remember them before God?  Do you have a dateline of when you came to faith in what Christ did for you on the cross? Do you have spiritual datelines beyond that point of beginning your faith journey, when the risen Christ proved Himself to you in miraculous ways?  Do you have a dateline when He made you know what He wants you to do for Him? In the fulfillment of that vision has He brought significant people into your life to help you bring that vision into reality?

Then have a spiritual Memorial Day and be filled with grateful worship!

Dick Woodward, 31 May 2010


The Powerful Priority of Love

May 22, 2018

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.”  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

After a devastating battle during the First World War, Canadian army surgeon John McCrae composed one of the greatest war poems. In it he gave voice to thousands of soldiers who lay dead, summing up their lives on earth with one line:

“Loved and were loved, but now we lie in Flanders Fields.”

When we come to the end of our lives, we’ll find one of our most important priorities will be those we love, and those who love us. But we should not wait to focus our priorities. The Apostle Paul declared the agape love of God to be the number one priority of spiritual people: “…and the greatest of these is love.”

A PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence and even in tongues, but without love, we’re just a lot of noise. If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as prophets, and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all these things, we are nothing. If we give all our money to feed the poor, and our bodies to be burned at the stake as martyrs, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.

Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have, and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Pursuing Perfect Peace

May 18, 2018

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

The prophet Isaiah wrote of a state of perfect peace in which God can keep us, continuously. He also wrote that this state of perfect peace is based on two important conditions: we must keep our minds centered on God, and we must trust God. This peace is supernatural because it’s a peace we can have even when circumstances of our lives are chaotic.

Jesus promised that He gives His followers peace the world will never understand because it comes from Him and is ours even in the middle of the storms of life. The early followers of Jesus Christ were persecuted (as many continue to be today.) While suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died peacefully because they had this peace of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul believed in this peace. In one chapter of one of his letters (Philippians 4) he listed twelve conditions on which this peace is based. In another letter Paul described this peace as the fruit of the reality that the Holy Spirit lives in authentic disciples of Jesus. (Galatians 5:22-23)

“Christ in you” is the foundation on which all conditions of this peace are built. (Colossians 1:27)  Looking at Paul’s twelve conditions for the peace of Christ, there is obviously something to believe and Someone to receive when you become a follower of Jesus Christ.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

Dick Woodward, (15 May 2009)


Can You Pray with Me?

May 15, 2018

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone…”  (1 Timothy 2:1)

In the second chapter of Paul’s first pastoral letter to Timothy when he sorts out priorities of the many activities of the church, the Apostle Paul declares prayer to be an absolute, number-one priority.

Paul’s rationale for making prayer the first priority of the church is that prayers should be made for everyone because God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  I find this to be a challenge. In many years as a pastor, I found it all but impossible to get people to come and pray with me for an hour. As I pleaded with parishioners to attend prayer meetings, I often quoted the question of our Lord Jesus, “Can you not keep watch (& pray) with Me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)

Over many years I have concluded that God’s people do not pray because the evil one does not want them to pray.

“When it’s hardest to pray, always pray the hardest!”

An old soul shared that prayer insight with my wife and she shared it with me.  We should apply that insight by praying the hardest when we do not feel like praying. We should pray the hardest when we are facing challenges that are not just hard, but impossible apart from God. We should certainly apply that insight when personal problems and disappointments weigh us down with sorrow.

If we pray when it’s hardest, we will discover that prayer can turn a great storm into a great calm.

Can you keep watch and pray with Jesus?

Dick Woodward  (April, 2000 Prayer Letter)


Mothering: A Noble Calling

May 11, 2018

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.” (Psalm 128:1-3)

When you meditate on this Scripture that describes the role and function of a wife and mother, you can paraphrase observations this way: a mother is a man-maker. She is like a fruitful vine in the heart of her husband’s home. To borrow a metaphor from the beginning of the Bible, she is a completer whose passion is to see that her husband becomes all our Creator designed him to be (just as her husband is a completer to ensure she is all our Creator designed her to be.)

She is a people-maker because she gives him children who are like fruitful plants around his table.  Many people would like to put a period after the fourth word of this psalm and say that everyone is blessed or happy, but that is not the way the psalm reads. The blessing on this man is because he meets certain conditions: he walks in the ways of God.

The other verses of the psalm tell us this is how God blesses and impacts the world. God finds a blessed man, joins him to a blessed woman and gives them blessed children. They impact Zion – the spiritual community – and this family unit fruitfully impacts the city and the country.

A mother is at the heart of this great strategy of God. What a great and noble calling!

Rise up and call your mother blessed this Sunday!

Dick Woodward, 07 May 2011


Miracles & Mission Impossible(s)

May 8, 2018

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.”  (Matthew 14:19)

Just before our Lord fed five thousand hungry families, He challenged the apostles with an impossible mission. When the apostles urged the Lord to send that hungry multitude away, Jesus said to the apostles, “You feed them!  How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

The apostles must have been overwhelmed by that challenge. How were they going to find enough food in that deserted place to feed that big crowd of people?

The only food the apostles could find was a basket of five biscuits and two little sardines.  They placed that food in the hands of the Lord saying, “All we have is this food a small boy brought with him, but what is this among so many hungry people?”  The Lord blessed what the apostles gave Him and then passed that little boy’s lunch through the hands of the apostles to the mouths of more than five thousand people.

That day the apostles learned that whatever we have is adequate when we place our inadequacy in the Lord’s hands.

Through the miracles we are experiencing in ministry, we are learning that our Lord likes to assign us a mission impossible. Then, when the impossibility of our mission makes us turn to Him and say, “This is all we have,” He takes it in His hands, blesses it, and then feeds millions with the Living Bread from heaven.

Dick Woodward (ICM Networking, Fall 2000)


Accepting Afflictions

May 4, 2018

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word…  It is good for me that I have been afflicted… I know, O Lord, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119: 67, 71, 75)

Many believers like me resonate with these words from Psalm 119. Although this is not always the explanation when God’s people are afflicted, it often is. I have lived with a chronic illness since 1978 and have been paralyzed since 1984. Although I began ministry as a pastor in 1955, my afflictions moved me to do the life’s work God called me to do.

God tells us that He chastens those He loves. (Revelation 3:19)  Although the goodness of God can lead to repentance, for most of us it is the chastening of our Lord knocking on the doors of our lives that moves us to open up and invite Him in. Like Jonah, sometimes it’s only through divine intervention that “I will not” is converted to “I will.”

As a “Type A” workaholic pastor I left before I got there and people could not keep up with my fast walk. For someone like me to be slammed down in one place, unable to move anything from the neck down, it was an overwhelming intervention.

It took two years to even begin moving toward accepting my limits. When the acceptance came it was a supernatural miracle of inner healing. After twenty years I eventually reached the point where I could tell the Lord I loved Him for cutting me back and improving the quality and quantity of what He wanted me to do for Him.

Can you resonate with the perspective of this ancient hymn writer?

Dick Woodward, 04 May 2013

Editor’s Note: After physical limitations slowed my father down, he compiled the Mini Bible College, a topical study of the Old and New Testaments that has been translated in over 41 languages (& counting!)