A Prayer for Our Valleys

October 27, 2017

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”  (Psalm 23:4-5)

In your dark valleys, learn to pray in this manner:

“As I enter this valley, Lord, I will not be paralyzed by fear, because I believe You are with me. Your ability to protect me and lead me through this valley is a comfort to me. I know that in the darkest and scariest part of this valley, in the middle of life threatening danger, You will spread a table of provision for me.

I am trusting You completely to anoint me with the oil of Your personalized, attentive care. I believe you will give me mercy for my failures and the grace I need to help in my time of need. You will also pursue me with Your goodness, unconditional love and acceptance, when I wander away from Your loving care.”

Finally, thank your Good Shepherd-God that you can trust Him to lead you through this life to unbroken fellowship with Him forever in Heaven: to the green pastures that never turn brown, the still waters that never become disturbed, and the cup that never empties.

Offer this prayer to “the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead that great Shepherd of sheep, Who through the blood of the everlasting covenant, can make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


Valuing Our Days (& Years!)

October 25, 2017

“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10-12)

When I was 25 years old I attended a conference for pastors. Our speaker was a famous pastor who had snowy white hair. I felt sorry for him because he was so very old. As he started to speak his first words to us were: “I’m old. I’m gloriously old, but I wouldn’t be as young and ignorant as you are for anything in the world!” I was feeling sorry for him because he was so very old, while he was feeling sorry for me because I was so young.

In many cultures age is considered a plus because wisdom comes with age. Psalm 90 makes the statement we reach 80 years of age “by reason of strength.” I have had a debilitating disease since 1978. By God’s grace, I have found the strength which comes from the Lord and is exhibited in the showcase of my own physical weakness.

I was born eighty years ago today (25 Oct), so these verses resonate with me in a personal way. Two of the ways Moses exhorts us to apply this psalm is to number and value our days to gain a heart of wisdom about how we should spend them.

He then concludes his psalm asking God to show us the work He wants us to do for Him, so that His glory might appear to our children. His last words invite God to anoint the work He reveals to us.

Dick Woodward, 25 October 2010

Editor’s Note: Today is Papa’s birthday! This year he would have turned 87. We thank God for the miraculous gift of Papa’s life, that even through 28 years of quadriplegia (the last 12 completely bedfast) Jesus showcased His strength through Papa’s weakness (“I can’t but He can”… and all that.) 🙂  It’s been 3 years since Papa’s passing – oh, how we miss him – but the legacy of God’s love in and through him continues in our hearts. (While he feasts on Heavenly morsels of Divine Truth, Joy and Love, we’re plotting pizza today in his honor!)


SUFFERING: PERSEVERANCE, CHARACTER & HOPE

October 20, 2017

Let us rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

If you study the original language in which these verses were written, you will discover that Paul is saying essentially this: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces the quality of character that will not run when things get difficult.”

The Greek word Paul used for character conveys a meaning similar to various patches military people wear that show they have been tested and proven. Paul told us suffering produces endurance, and receiving from the Lord the grace to endure our suffering produces proven character. When you have been tested and proved, the caliber of character that testing produces is often grown in the soil of suffering.

Paul also writes that proven character leads to confidence and hope. When you have developed character that perseveres, you will not be put to flight. While visiting missionaries on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, I learned that one of the most important abilities for missionaries is stickability. Can you go to a foreign culture, and stay for fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years?  Can you live out your life there as a fragrance of Christ, an irrefutable statement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who are hostile toward Jesus and His followers?

Most missionary work is living Christ until the people you desire to reach “see Christ in your mortal flesh,” to borrow the words of one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. (2Corinthians 4:11)

Perseverance is stickability: the ability to hang in there, and keep hanging in there. That is how an orange gets to be an orange; it just keeps hanging in there until it becomes an orange.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


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


Keeping Our Eyes On Jesus

October 13, 2017

 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

When the ultimate terminal illness comes to an eagle, it climbs to the highest possible elevation and looks into the sun for an entire day. When the sun goes down that evening, the eagle dies.

Have you ever seen an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ die? I first started believing the Gospel when I watched my mother die. She died looking right into the Son. Our godly pastor, who had seen scores of saintly ones go home, said he never had seen anything like what he witnessed with us that night.

At the age of 49, my mother left behind six daughters, five sons and a husband. She spent the last two hours of her life with us, but she was already in heaven. She was talking to Jesus. She often said she never had any peace. We had a little house of thirteen hundred square feet with 13 people living in it, so you can understand why she had precious little peace and quiet. In those last hours she kept saying, “Oh, this peace, this peace!” Several times she started to share something but said, “I can’t tell you about that.”

The Apostle Paul described something similar in 2 Corinthians 12, when he tells us he was caught up into the third heaven, saw many things, but said essentially, “I can’t tell you about that.”

I believed intellectually at my mother’s death when I was 14, but I did not become a disciple of Jesus Christ for several years. I delayed my decision because I knew believing involved commitment. I knew this because my mother had said to me:

“If Jesus Christ is anything to you, Dick, He is everything to you. Because, until Jesus is everything to you, He isn’t really anything to you.”

My life changed forever because she lived and died as an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ. Those closest to us may also become believers as they see us live and die with our eyes on Jesus Christ.

Dick Woodward, As Eagles: How to Be an Eagle Disciple


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


WHERE IS YOUR HEART?

October 6, 2017

 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.(Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus told us we should not lay up treasures on earth where they depreciate and where thieves can steal them from us. He told us we should lay up treasures in heaven, in the spiritual dimension, where they will not depreciate or be stolen. He added that our hearts will be where our treasures are. In other words, Jesus told us, “If you really want to know where your heart is, show me your treasures.”

A practical application of this, if you really want to know where your heart is, look over your check stubs and calendars for the past five years. Consider how you are spending your money and time. Then you will know where your treasures are, and where you heart is.

Millions of people are crushed and depressed these days because they have lost their treasures on Wall Street where greedy and corrupt men have stolen them. If their hearts were in their treasures on earth, and the way they were laying up treasures on earth, they need to listen to and understand Jesus as He tells us where our hearts should be.

Where is your heart?

Dick Woodward, 15 October 2008