Speaking the Truth in Love

September 15, 2017

“but, speaking the truth in love …”  (Ephesians 4:15)

It is possible to devastate people with the truth. One difference between Jesus and the Pharisees: before Jesus applied the law of God to the people of God He passed the law of God through the prism of the love of God. The Pharisees just threw the book at people. Paul called that “the letter of the law” when he wrote that the letter of the law kills but the spirit of the law gives life.

When I first discovered this in my study of the Gospels I had a counseling appointment that same day with a woman who respected me as a pastor. After she shared her complicated life problems I passed the law of God through the prism of the love of God before I applied the law of God to her life. Just before she left she told me, “Pastor, if you had thrown the book at me today I was going to go home and kill myself.”

I have been told by those who mentor pastors that we should counsel with our head and not with our heart. As a veteran pastor I emphatically disagree! Taking Jesus as our supreme Example and Mentor I believe we should preach, teach and counsel in the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law.

The bottom line is that we should follow the example of Jesus and not the Pharisees. All the law of God was born in the heart of God’s love. God gave us His law because He loved us so very much He did not want us to suffer the consequences of lawless living.

Never forget what Jesus always remembered.

Dick Woodward, 14 September 2013


Patterns for Good: God’s Good!!

September 12, 2017

“Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to His plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.” (Romans 8:28, JB Phillips)

This is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied verses in the Bible. Paul is not teaching that all the events of our lives are good. He is teaching that if we meet two prerequisites, God will fit into a pattern for good everything that happens to us – the good and bad.

The first prerequisite is that we love God. The Apostle John asked the question, “If a man does not love his brother whom he can see, how can he love God Whom he cannot see?” (I John 4:20) John is teaching that it’s not easy to love God because it’s not easy to love what we cannot see. How then do we love God? Jesus answered that question when He taught the apostles: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

The second prerequisite: if we show our love by being passionately called according to God’s plan, God will fit all the events of our lives into a pattern for good – God’s good, which will be the only good that interests us if we truly love God.

There is nothing good about being a bedfast quadriplegic. But as I look back from the finish line over the events of my life, I realize I never would have done my most fruitful work for God as an able-bodied human being with strength of my own.

When the foundations of your life are breaking up, don’t let those events drive you inward into a pity party. Look up and ask God to fit everything into a pattern for God’s good, God’s plan and God’s Glory.

Dick Woodward, from Happiness That Doesn’t Make Good Sense


God’s (more than adequate) Abounding Grace

September 8, 2017

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2Corinthians 9:8)

Owners of expensive Rolls Royce automobiles may not realize how secretive the manufacturer of those extraordinary automobiles has been. One man sent a telegram to the manufacturer asking, “What is the horse power of my Silver Cloud Rolls Royce?” The return telegram in typical British fashion was just one word: “Adequate.”

When the Apostle Paul wrote about God’s grace in 2 Corinthians 9:8, it’s almost as if someone asked the question: “What is the measure of our grace as authentic disciples of Jesus Christ?” The response of the great apostle was much more than the word adequate.

This is the most superlative verse in the New Testament on the subject of grace available to us as we follow Jesus Christ. Mercy is God withholding from us what we deserve, while grace is God lavishing on us all kinds of wonderful blessings we do not deserve. We’re saved by grace but we are also given grace that makes it possible for us to live a life that glorifies God, exalts the risen, living Christ, and holds forth the Word of God to people who desperately need it.

As you contemplate this verse, realize that Paul is talking about all grace, in all things, at all times, all that you need, abounding in every good work – and twice in these few short words, he writes that it is for you.

Has Paul oversold the product, or do we have flawed access into God’s grace?

Dick Woodward, 10 September 2010


Laboring For God

September 4, 2017

“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”  (Hebrews 6:10)

Many of us have at some time experienced not being appreciated. It’s challenging to labor long and hard helping people without a word or gesture of appreciation. The author of Hebrews gives us a beautiful word to share with unappreciated servants of the Lord. That word is simply that we can know we are always appreciated.

Our Lord instructed us that we are to work our righteous acts in secret. We are to give in such a way that one hand does not know what the other hand is giving. We are to pray and fast in a private closet knowing that our Father in Heaven sees and knows everything we pray and do. (Matthew 6)

In the same spirit through Moses, God said, “Walk before Me!” (Genesis 17:1) It can bring spiritual perspective into our daily walk if we hold on to the premise that everything we do is done before and as unto God. The author of Hebrews is reminding us we are always appreciated when we look up and walk before God.

In my early twenties at the beginning my ministry, I met an elderly missionary couple who had spent 48 years serving God in China. Visiting them in charity housing, as far as I could tell they had been shown no appreciation whatsoever for their faithful work in China. When I asked how they could bear that their answer was: “You have to know Who you’re doing it for.”

Walk before God as you do your work – and when you need some appreciation.

Dick Woodward, 29 February 2012


When Are You Going To Get Some Faith?

August 29, 2017

When evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” … And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-40)

I have not posted a blog for quite some time because I had a medical crisis that put me in the hospital, followed by a limited ability to work on my computer for eight weeks. This experience has reminded me of this Gospel account of a fierce storm that was turned into a great calm by a profound question asked by Jesus.

The disciples clearly believed they were all going to drown, including Jesus. The question Jesus asked was essentially: “When are you going to get some faith?” In other words, “Do you think that all I have told you about My kingdom and your part in it is going to drown at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee?”

Jesus promises to take us to the other side. When fierce storms break into our lives they will not invalidate what Jesus is doing in and through us if we will let this profound question turn our storms into a great calm.

Dick Woodward, 07 June 2012

Editor’s Note: Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Texas, especially Houston, as horrendous flooding continues.

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door. And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore. Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you, If Heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do…”  (Albert Edward Brumley)


GOD’S MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY!

August 25, 2017

“Surely Your goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This beautiful word is found three hundred and sixty-six times in the Bible. Perhaps God wants us to know we need unconditional love, every day of the year (even Leap Year!) Many people think we don’t hear about the mercy of God in the Bible until we get to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. However, two hundred and eighty references to God’s mercy are found in the Old Testament.

My favorite Old Testament mercy reference is found in the last verse of the Twenty-third Psalm. David ends his greatest Psalm with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. The Hebrew word he uses here for “follow” is a word that can also be translated “pursue.”  David brings the most profound and eloquent description of the relationship between God and man to a conclusion by making the declaration that the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life. By application, this is true for any of us who confess our sins.

There are so many ways to fail. When we understand the meaning of the mercy of God, however, we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail God’s mercy. As I place my failures on a scale, I like to place all those times mercy is used in the Bible on the scale opposite my failures. I invite you to do the same thing, no matter how horrible you think your sins are.

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2012


Spiritual Fitness: Godly Exercise(s)

August 22, 2017

“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 most likely would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable; but, Paul 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 question: what is godly exercise? The word “godly” means “like God.”  What is God- like?  We are told in the Word 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 (1Corinthians 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 what the 15 virtues are and what they will look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

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

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013