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


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 : A Covenant of Jesus

September 22, 2020

“…Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

At the starting gate of their relationship with Jesus, two sets of brothers who were professional fishermen entered into a covenant with Him. Like all covenants that covenant was in two parts.

Jesus challenged them:

“You follow Me – that’s your part.

I will make you – that’s My part.

You follow Me – that’s your business.

I will make you – that’s My business.”

When I was 18 years old my brother-in-law pastor shared the Gospel with me. When I told him I couldn’t do what an authentic disciple of Jesus was required to do, he told me I didn’t have to do it by myself.

He told me about this covenant Jesus established with Peter, Andrew, James and John. When I made the commitment to follow Jesus I entered into that same covenant. Next month I will be 80 years old and I have proven that if we follow Jesus, He will make us.

In other words, if we keep our part of that covenant we can trust Jesus to keep His part.

I strongly encourage you to consider entering into that same covenant with Jesus. You don’t have to do all the things involved in following Him. Fact is you can’t follow Jesus in your own strength and resources.

Your part is to make the commitment to follow Him and then trust Him to do His part. He won’t do your part and you can’t do His part. But if you follow Jesus, He will make you into who He is calling you to be.

And if someone could show you what you will be doing in 20++ years you won’t believe it!

Dick Woodward, 21 September 2010


God’s Mandate for #LOVE

July 14, 2020

 “…because as He is, so are we in this world…” (1 John 4:17)

As the Apostle of Love continues to give us reasons why we must love (in 1 John 4), having told us twice that God is love (verses 8 and 16), he writes that as God is, so are we in this world. He also told us in verse 16 that God lives in us. If God is love and God lives in us, then it follows that as God is (love), so are we (to be love) in this world.

This is yet another reason why we must love.

The perfect example of this is Jesus Christ when He was God in human flesh for 33 years. The greatest dynamic of His personality was love. If you met with Him for a day like Zacchaeus, the Chief of the Publicans (Luke 19), or for an hour like the Samaritan woman (John 4), or briefly like the young man we call the rich young ruler, you would know that you are loved as you have never been loved before.

We are told that Jesus, looking intently at the rich young ruler, loved him. (Mark 10:21)

The Apostle John, the author of the fourth Gospel, lived with Jesus 24/7 for three years. John refers to himself in his Gospel many times with these words: “I am the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Sixty years later, he dedicated the last book of the Bible to Jesus with the words “…unto the faithful Witness Who loved us…”

When people meet with us today do they feel that they have been loved as never before because we are God’s Love with skin on in this world?

Dick Woodward, 16 July 2010


Pizza! Pizza! – The Anatomy of a Sin

June 23, 2020

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15)

In this verse James gives us what we might call the “Anatomy of a Sin.”

One day more than twenty years ago, my wife had to be gone for six or seven hours. Watching sports television that evening, every thirty minutes or so an advertisement promoting pizza came on. I truly love pizza but I’m not supposed to have it because I am a diabetic.

Each time I saw the commercial I developed a stronger desire for pizza.

I had a telephone and some money in my pocket, so eventually I called and ordered a pizza. I told them I was in a wheelchair so please walk in. When the delivery man arrived, I asked him to place the pizza on the blanket in my lap and take the box with him (to leave no evidence.)

When my wife returned, however, as she picked up the blanket to fold it a small pizza crust dropped to the floor. Needless to say, I got in trouble, big time!

According to James sin involves a lure, a look, a strong desire, and eventually temptation – then sin and death, which means “the pits.” The lure is like a piece of metal and our strong desire is a powerful magnet. If we don’t do something to break up that magnetic field between our desire and that lure, we will sin.

I didn’t do that, so pizza landed in my lap.

James shared this with us so we would understand the importance of breaking up the magnetic sequence of sin.

Are you willing to do that?

Dick Woodward, 24 June 2011


#FAITH: A Principle of Deliverance

November 22, 2019

“And it came to pass… that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:51)

The words “salvation” and “deliverance” are synonyms. The deliverance of the children of Israel as described in the book of Exodus is therefore also an allegory of salvation that demonstrates what we might call “A Principle of Deliverance” when God delivers people from addictions and sin today. Modeled on the dialogue between Moses and Pharaoh, Moses represents Christ and Pharaoh is the evil one.

For example, observe what Pharaoh says after Moses demanded the release of God’s people when God sent the first plagues: “You can go but do not leave Egypt.” (Exodus 8:25)

After a few more plagues, Pharaoh again agrees to release the people but he says: “Well, you can go, but do not go very far.” (Exodus 8:28) More plagues and Pharaoh says: “All right, you can go, but… leave your children in Egypt.” (Exodus 10:8-10) More persuasive plagues and Pharaoh says, “You can go, but leave your flocks and herds in Egypt.” (Exodus 10:24)

When people come to faith today the evil one will tempt them to practice their faith “in Egypt” as a worldly believer practicing the values of the secular culture. Then he will tempt them with, “You have come to faith but don’t go very far with your faith.” Then the temptation is to not let your faith pass on to your children.

A final attempt at keeping a person addicted to the slavery of sin is to “Leave your flocks and herds in Egypt,” or don’t let your faith affect your pocketbook.

The principle of deliverance illustrated in the book of Exodus is: Never, never, never compromise with evil and remain enslaved and addicted in your “Egypt.

Dick Woodward, 23 November 2013


#FAITH: An Inspired Art Gallery

November 12, 2019

So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw His splendor (the splendor as of a father’s only son) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The Gospel of John is like an inspired art gallery. Every chapter is a room in that gallery with beautiful portraits of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls. The portrait in the first room is that of Jesus as the Word that became human to make His home among us.

If you want to communicate a great idea wrap it in a person. God does that all the way through the Bible. God communicates the concept of faith by wrapping it in the person of Abraham. God tells us what grace is by wrapping that beautiful concept in the person of Jacob.

What does it mean when we are told that Jesus is the Word? A word is the vehicle of a thought. When I want to communicate thoughts from my mind to your mind I use words as vehicles of my thoughts.

God had ‘Thought’ that God wanted to express to this world. Jesus is like a comprehensive Word that expressed the Thought of God to this world – and to you and me.

Our loving Heavenly Father decided that an inspired written Word was not enough. God wanted us to see His expressed thought in human flesh and blood. God therefore became human and made His home with us as Jesus so we could see and experience His expressed thought toward us.

The Word not only made His home among us – Jesus wants to make His home in us. If Jesus has done that for you, what great ideas does He want to communicate to others by wrapping them in your life?

Dick Woodward, 10 November 2011


#FAITH : A RECIPE FOR REST

November 5, 2019

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus loves to give invitations. He addresses this one to people who are loaded with problems and are working themselves to exhaustion trying to solve their problems. Jesus promises that if we come to Him, He will give us rest. If you look closely at this invitation He is inviting us to come to Him and learn about His heart, His burden, and His yoke. It is what we learn from Him that will lead us to rest.

Jesus wants burdened people to learn that His burden is light, His heart is humble, and His yoke is easy. There is a sense in which Jesus had the weight of the world on His shoulders and yet He claimed that His burden was light.

His burden was light because He let His Father carry the load.

The most important part of His recipe for rest is what Jesus wants us to learn about His yoke. A yoke is not a burden. It is an instrument that makes it possible to bear a burden. When a cart is piled high with cargo it is the yoke that makes it possible for an ox to pull a great load with ease.

It is the yoke of Jesus that shows us how to pull our heavy burdens of life.The yoke of Jesus is that He let His Father carry the burdens. We take His yoke upon us when we let the Holy Spirit carry the load.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2013


#FAITH : Praying to Glorify God

October 11, 2019

…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:13)

(In the Our Father prayer) Jesus teaches us to begin our prayer with a God first mindset and conclude our prayer with that same focus. We begin our prayer looking through the grid: “Your name be reverenced, Your Kingdom come,” and “Your will be done on earth, just as it is willed and done in heaven.”

We are to conclude our prayer the same way.

Jesus wants us to conclude our prayer by making this commitment to our Heavenly Father: “Yours is the Kingdom.” By this confession, He means for us to pledge to God that the results of our Heavenly Father’s continuously answering our prayers will always belong to Him.

As we face challenges of life every day, we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God: “Yours is the power.” When I enter into a challenging day, I have confessed this hundreds of times in my journey of faith and ministry by saying, “I can’t, but He can.”

Finally, we are to conclude our prayers by confessing: “Yours is the glory.” When we apply this third providential benediction, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but God did, all the glory goes to Him.”

Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers every time we pray by making this solemn commitment to God: The glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayer(s), will always go to You.”

The essence of this benediction is: “Because the power always comes from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

“Amen” simply means, “So be it.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


#FAITH : Living (& Being) IN CHRIST

October 8, 2019

“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 am indebted to E. Stanley Jones, a missionary who served in India for 50 years, for his superb daily devotional, In Christ, that showed me the importance of this phrase in the New Testament. I highly recommend his book which highlights the use of “in Christ” by New Testament writers.

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 the 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 the 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 by and in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2013