A Prescription for Depression

June 1, 2018

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart…” (1John 3:20)

In the Bible heart often refers to our emotions. The Apostle John is using heart in that sense in I John 3:20. What he is essentially writing is that if the way we feel condemns us, God is greater than the way we feel.

Before John writes these words, he challenged his readers to love in actions and not merely in words. He follows his insight that God is greater than the way we feel with the prescription that we should keep the two great commandments of Jesus: to love God and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22: 35-40)  Jesus claimed these two commandments would fulfill all the commandments in the Bible.

We are to love when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in. Jesus teaches that we are to love God completely, love others unconditionally, and love ourselves correctly.  Loving ourselves does not mean when we pass a mirror we should stop and have our devotions.  Jesus taught we should say the same thing about ourselves that God says about us – that God loves us.

The prescription for depression the Apostle of Love gives devout disciples is that when our heart condemns us, we should realize that our faith is not to be based on something as fickle as our feelings.

Our faith is based on the reality that we believe and apply the commandment to love.

The last thing we should do when our heart condemns us is isolate ourselves into a pity party. We need to get with people and love them.

Dick Woodward, 13 June 2011


God’s Relentless Mercy

April 24, 2018

…and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...”  (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This word is found 366 times in the Bible. Perhaps God wants us to know we need mercy and unconditional love every day of the year – and leap year! Many people think we don’t hear about God’s mercy until the Sermon on the Mount; however, we find 280 mercy references in the Old Testament.

King David concludes Psalm 100 with the observation that God’s mercy is everlasting. My favorite Old Testament reference to God’s mercy is found at the end of Psalm 23. David’s greatest Psalm ends with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him always.

The Hebrew word he uses for ‘follow’ can also be translated as ‘pursue.’ David brings his profound description of the relationship between God and man to a conclusion by declaring the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life. By application this is true for all who confess “the Lord is my Shepherd.”

There are many ways to fail. When we understand the meaning of God’s mercy we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail God’s mercy. No matter what our failures have been, God has sent us a message wrapped in this five letter word mercy.

The amazing message is that we did not win God’s love by a positive performance and we do not lose God’s love by a negative performance. God’s love and acceptance of each one of us is unconditional. According to David, the mercy of God is there like a rock for us as God relentlessly pursues us with unconditional love and forgiveness.

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


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


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