Still Waters: God at Work

April 20, 2018

“He leads me beside the still waters.”  (Psalm 23:2)

Most people associate the still waters of David’s Shepherd Psalm with peace. However, if you research sheep you will find when they drink from a stream of water that stream must be as still as a mirror or the water will go up their snouts. An authentic application of this still water metaphor means our great Shepherd leads us to places just suited for us.

In 1979 I resigned as pastor of a large church in a big city and accepted a call to a small church that had just begun in a small town. After being in the small church for a year I went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota due to the onset of debilitating symptoms. After nearly a month of studies, the doctor who directed my program misread my file. Thinking I was still in the large church, when he gave the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis he told me I needed to go to a small church in a small town. I told him that for a year I had already been in a small church in a small town.

I was to learn to be fulfilled with doing less and doing it better.

As my symptoms persisted and confined me to a wheelchair, a group of friends helped build a house that accommodated my physical challenges. One made a beautiful stained glass window by the entrance with these two words: “Still Waters.” These words have not just been a label for my home the past 26 years but also my ministry – in this location by God’s grace I have accomplished my most fruitful work for the Kingdom, most as a bedfast quadriplegic.

“Still Waters” – can you write these two words across what God is doing in your life right now?

Dick Woodward, 20 April 2012


Eagle Disciples: Looking Into the Son

April 17, 2018

…they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

The exceptional longevity of an eagle means it is seldom ill. When it does get sick, however, it goes to the highest elevation it can find, lies on its back, and looks directly into the sun. This sun treatment proves to be therapeutic and often restores the health of the eagle. When the ultimate 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? The first time I intellectually believed the Gospel was when I watched my mother die. She died as an eagle follower of Jesus, looking right into the Son. The godly pastor with us had seen scores of saints go home, but said he had never seen anything like what he saw that night.

At the age of 49, she left behind six daughters, five sons and a husband. She spent the last two hours of her life with her family, but she was already in Heaven, talking to Jesus. She often said she never had any peace. We had a little house of about 1,300 square feet with 13 people living in it, so you can understand why she had precious little peace or quiet. In those last hours she kept saying, “Oh, this peace, this peace!”

I believed intellectually at her death, but I did not become a disciple of Jesus Christ for several years because I knew believing involved a commitment.

My mother had always challenged me, “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, Dick, He is everything to you; because, until Jesus Christ is everything to you, He isn’t really anything to you.”

My life was changed forever because she lived and died as an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ.

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


Being the Merciful Love of Jesus

April 13, 2018

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:7-8)

Jesus begins His greatest discourse of the Beattitudes with a “check up from the neck up.” He teaches eight attitudes that can make disciples salt, light and His solution to what is wrong in this crazy world. These eight attitudes come in four pairs, the third of which is to be merciful with a pure heart.

One scholar writes that these blessed attitudes are like climbing a mountain. The first pair takes us halfway up the mountain, the second pair takes us to the top of the mountain, while the third pair takes us half way down the other side.

With profound simplicity Jesus is basically asking: “When disciples are filled with righteousness that takes them to the top of the mountain, what kind of people are they?  Are they Bible experts who throw the book at others?”

No!  They are filled with mercy (which is unconditional love) and while they love in this way they are pure in heart.

To be pure in heart is only understood when we research the Greek word that is used here for pure – the word from which we get ‘to be catheterized.’  It means that as disciples are merciful we have a catharsis through which everything that is not the unconditional love of Christ is removed from our hearts.

If you want to be one of the solutions of Jesus in this world, hunger and thirst for what is right and you will find that love is right and right is love.

Be a conduit of that love – the love of Jesus – and become His salt and light.

Dick Woodward, 13 April 2010


Powerful Reality Contact Prayers

April 10, 2018

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”  (James 5:16)

When Alcoholics Anonymous first started it was called “The Saint James Fellowship” because it was founded on this verse. The founders later changed the name to include people of all faiths and those with no faith. While millions of secular people apply the truths of this Scripture and experience healing, it is a shame that many believers never make these healing applications.

When you meet with another believer, do you keep your sins in the closet?  Do you give the impression that you don’t have a problem in the world? Do they do the same?  That does not burden you to pray for each other.  But if you trust them and share some of your sins with them they will be burdened to pray for you. They would also more than likely have what I call “reality contact” with you by sharing their sins that will burden you to pray for them. The result of these mutual prayers will be mutual healing.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote extensively about spiritual community, put it this way: “Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous.  So they remain alone with their sins, living in lies and hypocrisy… He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone.”

A paraphrase of James 5:16 is that honest prayers explode with power!  It is a strategy of the evil one to isolate us into self imposed solitary confinement. Never let the evil one isolate you into being a closet sinner; instead, find healing in confessing your sins and praying for one another.

Dick Woodward, 14 April 2013


The Dragonfly: An Easter Reminder

April 3, 2018

 “And just as we have borne the image of the one made from dust, so also shall we bear the image of the One from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:49)

Have you ever watched a dragonfly move from one plant to another with its two sets of wings hovering like a helicopter? A dragonfly actually spends the first two years of its existence at the bottom of a body of water. When that phase of its existence comes to an end, it rises to the surface of the water, climbs up on the bank and lets it wings dry in the sun. Then it spreads its wings and begins the second dimension of its existence, becoming an aeronautical wonder.

Easter reminded us that like the dragonfly we are meant to live out our existence in two dimensions. If you did a cross-section of the under-water dragonfly you would see it has two respiratory systems: one for living under water and one for breathing air in the second dimension of its life.

If you could do a spiritual cross-section of a believer you would find that we are also equipped with two systems. We have an outward person and an inward being. Our outward person is just a little clay pot in which our eternal inward being lives.

We are told in the great Resurrection Chapter (1 Corinthians 15) that we are given a body for living this life and we will be issued another body for living in the eternal state. According to Paul, that new body will be a spiritual one for living through all eternity.  I don’t know about you, but as a bed fast quadriplegic I’m really looking forward to being issued that new spiritual body!

Dick Woodward, 12 April 2012


Good Friday: All & All Good?

March 30, 2018

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isaiah 53:6)

If we want to know what is good about Good Friday Isaiah 53 tells us. Specifically, Isaiah 53:6 describes with great clarity the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross when it begins and ends with the word: “all.”  The verse begins with what we might call “the bad news.”  Isaiah tells us that all of us are like little sheep and have gone astray. We have turned, every single one of us, to our own way.  If you want to know the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, agree that you yourself are included in that first all.

The all with which this verse concludes is what we can call “the good news.” Isaiah ends this verse by telling us that the penalty for all the things we have done after turning to our own way has been laid on Him (meaning Jesus).  I don’t know about you, but for me that is very, very good news!  If you and I confess that we are included in the first all and the last all in this great Gospel verse, then we have done what we need to do to turn our bad news into good news.

And we know what is good about Good Friday.

Dick Woodward, 02 April 2010


Holy Week: The Best Deal Ever Offered

March 27, 2018

“God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

So what is the biggest week in the Church year all about? What does it mean to you and me personally?

The Apostle Paul put it in a nutshell: it is the best deal ever offered.

Because of what happened on Good Friday God has offered to put all of our wrongs on Jesus, and in exchange put all that is right with Jesus on you and me. That’s the best offer we will ever have. All we have to do to close on the offer is believe it!

In 1949 while I was doing social work in Pittsburgh, late one night a man asked if he could speak with me. As we talked in the darkness outside a closed recreation center he told me he was wounded in the great Battle of the Bulge toward the end of World War II. While still under fire he saw a chaplain crawling from one wounded man to the next.  This chaplain apparently had something very important he said to those men.  He hoped the chaplain would make it to him, but after taking several hits the chaplain didn’t move anymore.

He said he had been wondering for several years what the chaplain had to say to those men. He said after watching me for a couple of months he told his wife he believed I could tell him what that chaplain was telling those wounded men. I told him about the greatest deal ever offered.

This Easter do you have a message for dying people? Do you have a message for people who are going to live?

Dick Woodward, 26 March 2013