Knowing God: Being Love

September 21, 2018

“… 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 fragment of the verse quoted above we find a prescription that can help us know God.

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

But what is God and where is God?

A helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of 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, this belief prescription led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is God likely to be doing His love thing?”

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

As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and God 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 God’s love and the pain of hurting people.

Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011


Joining the ‘Me First Club’?

September 18, 2018

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1Timothy 4:16)

Although it seems contradictory to the ethical teachings of the Old and New Testaments, the Apostle Paul is coaching Timothy to join what we may call the “Me First Club.”  While we are trying to understand humility as taught in the Bible and learning to love our neighbors as ourselves, the very sound of a “Me First Club” seems to generate loud screeching discord.

If we think about it, however, there are places where we are instructed by our Lord Jesus to put ourselves first. For example, in the opening verses of Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus teaches us that when it comes to judging we should join the “Me First Club.” Showing a great sense of humor Jesus taught that we should not be looking for tiny specks of sawdust in the eyes of others when we have plank-sized logs in our own eyes. His priority was that we are to first get the logs out of our own eyes, and then we will see clearly to help others with the tiny specks in their eyes.

Paul instructs Timothy that before he challenges others to apply the Word of God to their lives that they might experience salvation, he is to first apply the Word of God to his own life and experience salvation himself.

In areas like salvation and judging are you willing to say “Me First?”

Dick Woodward, 15 September 2010


A Prescription for Peace: Rest in Christ Jesus

September 14, 2018

“The peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:7)

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? It means we are so in union with Christ, as a branch is in union with a vine, that we draw from Him all the life-giving spiritual power we need for everything we do for Him, with Him and through Him, as we rest in Him.

It means resting in the power of Jesus to do the things He calls us to do, all day long.

As a bedfast quadriplegic & pastor, my way of expressing this is the Four Spiritual Secrets:

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.

So much anxiety comes from thinking we must do the work of Christ in our own strength. If we are doing God’s will, we are often going to face things we cannot do on our own, but, as vehicles through which Christ does His work, can be done.

Overwhelming physical and emotional problems that are crushing the life out of us – terminal or chronic illness, difficult relationships and the challenges of everyday living – will only be manageable when we realize that facing them is not a matter of who and what we are, or what we can or cannot do. They are simply an opportunity to prove and demonstrate Who and what Jesus is and what He can do.

We must acknowledge that we can’t but Jesus can, as we rest our hearts and minds in Christ and in what only He can do.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Pray About Everything

September 11, 2018

“…tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (Philippians 4:6)

It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? The Apostle Paul doesn’t leave us in a vacuum when he prescribed: “Pray about everything!”

God’s Word exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 has an alternate New Standard reading, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” God delivered Paul from many tight places. We should therefore always pray in a crisis: “When it’s hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

Paul knew from personal experience that God doesn’t always take our problems away. He had a physical condition he described as a “thorn in the flesh.” Three times he asked God to take it away. Paul saw many people miraculously healed as he ministered the healing power of the Holy Spirit to them. Yet, when he asked God to solve his own problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.”

But God also responded, “My grace is sufficient for you and that is all you need. My strength looks good on weak people.” (2 Corinthians 12) Paul’s weakness drove him to discover the strength of God. When he did, Paul not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so God’s power might be showcased in him.

As Paul accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul exhorts us from his personal experience that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or prayer may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.

Always pray about everything!

 Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Trusting God: Remembering & Forgetting

September 7, 2018

“… For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

According to the Bible there is a time to remember and a time to forget. In the Old Testament God frequently instructs the Israelites to erect a monument to remember a great miracle that God did for them. In the New Testament Paul wrote a letter to the Church at Ephesus. Since he taught them more thoroughly and longer than any church he founded, in his letter he frequently exhorts them to remember what he taught them. When he wrote to the Church in Philippi, he exhorts them to forget the things that are behind and reach forward to the things that shall be.

This principle of remembering and forgetting is nowhere more important than when we apply it to our sins. God clearly wants us to remember that we are sinners. When God forgives our sins, however, God forgets them and wants us to do the same. Regarding our sins, we therefore need to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

As a pastor for more than 50 years I have been amazed in my own life and in the lives of those who call me pastor at how prone we are as believers to forget that we are sinners. That’s at least one reason why we sin again and again. It has also amazed me to realize how often we confess our sins and believe God has forgiven us, but then carry our guilt baggage with us for the better part of a lifetime.

One way to win the battle against sin is to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2010


Words God Speaks Through Nature: Death & Resurrection

September 4, 2018

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”  (Psalm 19:1-2)

At the end of summer we approach the threshold of beautiful fall colors in the trees all around us.  As you enjoy the explosion of colors this year consider the words God speaks to us through nature every fall.

Since fall’s beautiful colors are produced by the death of leaves, the word God is speaking to us is that death can be beautiful.  In many ways the most beautiful reality you and I encounter in our three or four score years on earth is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ that makes it possible for us to experience salvation and enter heaven.

The Apostle Paul tells us the Gospel is that Christ died so we might live – and now it is our turn. We must die (to ourselves) so Christ may live through us. (Galatians 2:20) That means our deaths to ourselves can be beautiful.

Every spring God speaks another word to us. That word is seen through all the resurrection around us as we see black trunks and bare branches of trees we thought were dead sprout to life and bloom.

The Latin root meaning of the word rehabilitation is “to invest again with dignity.”

Do we have the faith to believe God can bring to life that which we thought was dead?  Can we apply that thought to our own lives, to the lives of our children, and to people we know and love?

Dick Woodward, 04 September 2012


Another Beautiful Word: GRACE

August 31, 2018

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)

The mercy of God withholds what we deserve and the grace of God lavishes on us countless blessings we do not deserve. As we appreciate what the mercy of God withholds and the grace God bestows when we believe the Gospel, we should be filled with grateful worship of our gracious and merciful God.

When Jesus gave His Great Commission He instructed the disciples to wait until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1: 4, 5) After that happened to the disciples on Pentecost, we read:  “Great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) This use of the word “grace” means there is such a thing as the anointing and energizing unction of the Holy Spirit upon us as we serve Jesus Christ. I am using the word in that sense when I tell people that the grace of Jesus outweighs my challenges (especially as a bedfast quadriplegic.)

Paul declared this dimension of grace when he wrote: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) This is the most emphatic verse in the New Testament regarding the anointing and energizing grace of God.

Check out the superlatives the Apostle Paul uses in this verse:  All grace – aboundingeach and every one of you – having all sufficiency – in all things – abounding unto every good work – always!  According to Paul we should all be able to make the claim that His grace outweighs our challenges.

Do you believe the grace of God outweighs your challenges today?

Dick Woodward, 31 August 2012