#FAITH : Conduits of Love & Light

September 24, 2019

“…wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2: 1-2)

When we begin reading the Old Testament we find ourselves facing the question: “Where are you?” When we begin the New Testament we read that wise men asked the question: “Where is He?” The New Testament makes sense because we are looking for the same Savior those wise men were seeking.

Where is He?  If we want to find Jesus we should look where love is, because if we live in the love that He is we will live in Him, and He will live in us. As we seek for clues to His reality we are given another answer by the Apostle John:

“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another…” (1 John 1:5-7)

The aged apostle tells us that God is light and if we want to fellowship with Him He will not come live with us in our darkness. No, we must join Him where He lives in the light. Then we have fellowship with Him and all those who are in fellowship with Him.

The light of which John writes is truth – the truth this world saw and heard when the Light became flesh and lived with us full of truth and the grace to live that truth. So, if you want to know where Jesus is, look where the light is.

Then become a conduit of that light.

Dick Woodward, 29 September 2011


#FAITH: Knowing God, Being Love

September 20, 2019

“… for anyone who comes 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 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 the Apostle John: “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, the prescription above 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. 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 and 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


#FAITH: Finding Joy (in JESUS!!)

September 10, 2019

“…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, the epistle to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul exhorts us, “Delight in Jesus. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Him.” Paul uses the word ‘joy’ again and again. What he’s really saying to us 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, well, you’re on thin ice. What would you do if you lost your health? If you delight in money, what would you do if you lost everything? If you delight in your loved ones, and many, many people do, what are you going to do when you lose them?

It’s because God loves us that God tells us things like this, “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 the dungeon, even when he was in prison, no matter what the circumstances were, the reason he could say, “I’m ready for anything. I have learned how to live when everything is good, and I have learned how to live when everything is bad.”  Here is one of the big keys: 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)


#FAITH : IN THE MORNING

September 6, 2019

“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”  (Psalm 5:3)

In one sentence in this beautiful psalm David twice emphasizes the reality that he will pray to God in the morning. There are three directions of life we must master.  We must learn to look up. We must learn to look in until God shows us things we need to know about ourselves. Only then are we prepared to look around in all our relationships.

Anytime we are having difficulty in our relationships with spouses, children, parents or others outside the home we should always ask ourselves if we have looked up and looked in sincerely. Knowing ourselves as God wants us to know ourselves is crucial preparation for relating to others.

Smart people are often right and so they sometimes think they are always right. It is very difficult to live with those who think they are always right.  In the same way it is difficult to relate to those who think they never sin. When God helps us look in and see ourselves as God sees us it gives us a humility that is a tool we need to face our relationships.

What would you think of a concert violinist who plays a beautiful concerto solo and then instead of an encore comes out and tunes her violin?  In the same way we should not play the concert of our day and then tune the instrument of our lives.

We should begin ‘in the morning’ tuning our lives through our prayers to God as the Psalmist directs us, so that we can look up, look in and then look around.

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2013


#FAITH: A Great Storm

September 3, 2019

“And a great windstorm arose… but He said to them, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’…and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:35-40)

If you read the story recorded in the verses referenced above you will see that Jesus directed the apostles to get into their boat and cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. On this sea crossing a great storm fell upon them.

The disciples woke Jesus with the question, “Don’t you even care that we (including Him) are all going to drown?” After turning the great storm into a great calm Jesus asked them the great question, “How is it that you have no faith?”

Jesus had been teaching them that He was the King of the Kingdom of God and they were subjects in that Kingdom. Did they really think all of this was going to come to an end at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee? One translation renders His question “Do you not even yet believe in me?” Another puts it “When are you going to get some faith?”

Before we are too hard on the apostles, let’s apply the essential truth of this story personally. Jesus has promised us that He will take us to the other side of this life to the next dimension called heaven. While we are on that journey if a great storm falls upon us, do we believe that storm declares all His promises to be null and void?

Or do we have a quality of faith that can turn a great storm into a great calm?

This story teaches us that storms in our life are a classroom in which God wants to strengthen, grow and authenticate our faith.

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2011


#FAITH: God’s Grace vs. Our Challenges

August 30, 2019

“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 before they obeyed Him. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:4-5) After that happened to them on the Day of 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 Christ.  I use the word in that sense when I tell people that the grace of Christ outweighs my challenges (especially as a bedfast quadriplegic.)

Paul was declaring 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 Paul uses in this verse: All grace – abounding grace – he repeats all of you – all sufficiency – in all things – abound unto every good work – always!  According to Paul we should all be able to make the claim that God’s grace outweighs our challenges.

Do you believe the grace of God can outweigh your challenges today?

Dick Woodward, 31 August 2012


#FAITH: Three Dimensions of Forgiveness

August 27, 2019

 “…if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins…” (Matthew 6:14-15)

We need forgiveness in three dimensions: when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in.

Believing the Good News of the Gospel, the first dimension is a given. The great biblical word for that is “justified.” It literally means to ‘un-sin’ our sin. You can break up the word this way: just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. In Luke 18, Jesus pronounced that anyone who prays, “God be merciful to me – a sinner,” is justified.

The second dimension is more complicated. You need a special measure of grace to forgive those who have harmed you. And you can’t control whether or not those you have hurt will forgive you. But Jesus mandated that we have forgiveness in this second dimension. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He literally told them to say, “Forgive us our sins as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.”

At the end of His teaching His disciples how to pray Jesus added a solemn commentary: “If you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, then My Father in heaven will not forgive you your sins.” In other words, if you don’t have forgiveness in this second dimension you lose your forgiveness in the first dimension.

Those who have sinned grievously will tell you that the third dimension of forgiveness is the toughest one. Falling into sin, it is often difficult to forgive ourselves.

Ask God for forgiveness in these three dimensions, because the greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, 17 January 2009