#FAITH – PERSEVERING STICKABILITY

October 30, 2020

 “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 these verses in the original language, you will discover Paul is essentially saying 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 patches military personnel wear that show they have been tested and proven in a specific area. Paul told us suffering produces endurance, and receiving from God the grace to endure our suffering produces proven character.

When you have been tested and proven, 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. I learned that one of the most important abilities missionaries need 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 even when people dislike you?

Most missionary work is living Christ until people “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, 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


FACING SUFFERING WITH #FAITH

October 27, 2020

 “…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.” (James 1:2-6)

Encountering trials in our lives will often bring us to the place where we don’t know what to do. We realize we need more wisdom than we have. When we lack wisdom we must look to God for it. In the Old Testament when the people of God fought against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was: “Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith. I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the ways of God, doesn’t it logically follow that I may not expect to always understand the way I am going?

If God gave answers to our why questions, the very essence of faith would be eliminated. God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “If you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


#FAITH: Spiritual Fitness

October 23, 2020

 “Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for…the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (1Timothy 4:7, 8)

As a young man Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he would join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable, but he declared that godly fitness was more profitable. 

Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our lives here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal lives.

I am intrigued with this practical question: what is godly exercise? The word “godly” means “like God.” What is God- like? We are told in the Bible that God is a Spirit. (John 4:24) To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.

We also read in the Scripture that God is love. To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to the love that is God. At the heart of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), Paul passes the love of God through the prism of his Holy Spirit inspired intellect and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Pursue intentionally those 15 virtues and what they look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light. Exercise yourself in this dimension by filling your mind and heart and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that light will help you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2018


FINDING MY #JOY IN JESUS

October 20, 2020

“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

In this epistle of joy to the Philippians, Paul exhorts us, “Delight in Jesus. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Him.” He uses the word “joy” again and again. What he’s saying to us by using the word joy in the conditions in which he’s living is simply this:

 “Learn to derive your joy from your relationship to Jesus Christ. Learn to delight in Him.”

What is the source of your happiness? In what do you delight? If you delight in your health, you’re on thin ice. What would you do if you lost your health? If you delight in money, what would you do if a big crash caused you to lose everything? If you delight in your loved ones, and many, many people do, what are you going to do when you lose them?

Because God loves us God tells us things like, “Delight in Me. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Me.” That’s the source of joy. And so that should be our delight.

That’s the reason Paul could have peace even in a dungeon. No matter what the circumstances were, he could say, “I’m ready for anything. I have learned how to live when everything’s good and I have learned how to live when everything’s bad.” Paul’s delight was the Lord, and the Lord was the Source of his happiness.

Not what he had or didn’t have.

Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen Retreat, 1979)


Adversity vs. Atrophy

October 16, 2020

“… Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…”  (Psalm 4:1)

Just about every emotional challenge we experience today was faced by the psalmist many years ago. If we observe what he did when he struggled, and receive from God the grace to respond as the hymn writer responded, we can often overcome our emotional challenges.

In Psalm 4 the psalmist faces the emotional challenge of distress. If you drop the first two letters, the word becomes stress. We all have stress. If we do not have stress we atrophy. I have not put stress on my legs for 30 years. Consequently, my legs are the size of your arms. “If you don’t use it you lose it” is the way physical therapists describe atrophy.

Our loving Father God knows that what is true for our bodies is also true in our spiritual lives. God is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually. If we have no spiritual stress we will experience spiritual atrophy. God therefore will not only permit, but direct into our lives stress that will grow us as God gives us the grace to cope with that stress.

Many of us trust God for the good things that comfort and sustain us. But do we have the faith and the knowledge of God to seek God in the challenges that make the difference for us between spiritual growth and atrophy?

The Greek compound word hupomone, translated as “perseverance” in our English Bibles, literally means “to abide under.”  To apply hupomone, we should ask God for the grace to abide under stress, grow spiritually, and not atrophy.

Dick Woodward, 15 October 2013


#FAITH: WHERE IS YOUR HEART?

October 13, 2020

“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 said we should not lay up treasures on earth where they depreciate and thieves 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 challenged us, “If you really want to know where your heart is, show me your treasures.”

If you really want to know where your heart is, a practical application is to look over your old 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 all their treasures on Wall Street.  If our hearts are in our treasures on this earth, and laying up more treasures on earth, we need to listen and understand Jesus as He tells us where our hearts should be.

Where is your heart?

Dick Woodward, 15 October 2008*

*The Blog Posting Elf – This was Dick Woodward’s second blog post twelve years ago!


What does it mean to be IN CHRIST?

October 9, 2020

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I’m indebted to E. Stanley Jones, a missionary who served in India for 50 years, and his superb daily devotional, In Christ, for showing me the importance of this phrase. I highly recommend his book which highlights the use of the phrase “in Christ” throughout the New Testament.

According to Dr. Jones, when we think about being “in Christ” we should realize that Paul was not talking about being in religion. Few people have been more into religion than Paul before he met Jesus. Paul was so religious he fervently persecuted followers of Jesus, sure that he was pleasing God by trying to snuff them out.

It is possible to be in religion, but not be in Christ. It is possible to be in church, and not be in Christ. We can be in doctrine, or theology, and not be in Christ. We can be in ministry and not be in Christ. We can be committed to Christ, and believe a lot of things about Christ, and still not be in Christ.

To be in Christ locates us in a Person, right now.

Unless we are “in Christ” it’s like we have a powerful engine in our automobile but we cannot find our ignition key that turns the engine on.  Being ‘in Christ’ is the ignition key, opening us up to experience “all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3)

Paul essentially writes: I live because Christ lives in me and I live in Christ.

Just as you sometimes cannot find the keys to your automobile, have you misplaced this critical spiritual key – are you living in Christ?

 Dick Woodward, 09 October 2013


#FAITH: WHERE IS YOUR CONFIDENCE?

October 6, 2020

“… Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ…for it is God at work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” (Philippians 1:6; 2:13)

When he wrote these words the Apostle Paul was in prison chained between two Roman soldiers. He was not able to shepherd the believers he loved. Is he stressed out because he fears that they will fall away from their faith? No, he has confidence that they will continue in their faith until the day of Christ.

The source of Paul’s confidence is found in two realities: he knows that the risen Christ has begun the miracle of regeneration in them, and he is completely convinced that Jesus Christ will continue the miracle work of salvation He begins. Paul’s confidence is not in the fact that he has led these people to Christ. His confidence is in Christ!

Paul adds that his confidence is in God Who is at work in them giving them the will and the power to do that which pleases God.

Where is your confidence that you will continue what Christ has begun in your life? Where is your confidence that those you love will continue what Christ has begun in their lives? Is your hope in them? Is your hope in your ability to shepherd and mentor them?

Or is your hope in Christ Who began that miracle and in God Who gives us the will and the power to do what pleases Him?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2009


#FAITH – What does It Mean to Confess?

October 2, 2020

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9)

In the original Greek language, what we translate as confess is a compound Greek word: to say and the word for sameness.  It literally means to say the same thing God says, or to agree with God.

If you know the Word of God and are in the Spirit enough to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, you can know what Jesus says and how He feels about what you have done. Your confession is to agree with Him. Our responsibility is to agree with Him. He does all the rest.

Jesus knows when we are lost. Because He loves us He very much wants us to agree with Him that He might recover us and lead us to green pastures, still waters, His table of provision and a full cup that never empties.

That’s why He wants us to confess our sins and start climbing in the right direction spiritually.

He is not a divine policeman with a huge club just waiting to crack us over the head when we step out of line. The ministry of Jesus is summed up in the Gospel of Luke this way: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

That Gospel shows us in beautiful ways the blessings that come into the lives of lost people because Jesus finds them and leads them to the blessings of His Love and salvation.

Dick Woodward, 12 October 2012


Alignment: Our Will and God’s Will

September 29, 2020

My Word… will achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

In this chapter (Isaiah 55) the great prophet Isaiah tells us why he preaches the Word of God. Earlier in this chapter he proclaimed that there is as much difference between the way we think and how God thinks as the heavens are high above the earth.

Isaiah tells us he preaches the Word of God because God’s Word can bring about an alignment between the way God thinks and acts and the way we think and act.

There is a strong emphasis in the Scripture on the importance of our will being in alignment with the will of God. Jesus made His greatest prayer when He sweat drops of blood and prayed, “Not My will but Your will be done.” He taught His disciples and us to pray, “Your will be done in earth (and in our earthen vessels) as it is in heaven.”

The Bible frequently describes the struggle between God and men like Moses, Job, Jonah, and others who finally submit their will to the will of God – and the will of God is done in and through them on earth as it is in heaven. When God declares through Isaiah that His Word will not return to Him without accomplishing the purpose for which He sent it, I am convinced that this is the purpose God had in mind.

When you read and hear the Word of God proclaimed, will you let God accomplish His purpose for you?  Will you let the Word of God bring about an alignment between your will and God’s will?

Dick Woodward, 28 September 2010