Patience, Patience, Patience!!

August 14, 2018

“…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…” (Philippians 4:11-12)

Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights like Augustine, Thomas à Kempis and Francis of Assisi. Why is patience such an important virtue?

For starters, patience is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

In our relationship with God, we might call patience “faith-waiting.” In the Bible we are exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) It takes faith to wait when life situations challenge our walk with God. There are few spiritual disciplines that will focus our faith like those times when all we can do is wait on the Lord. When we are praying for something and receiving no answer, God may be teaching us that there are times when faith waits.

In our relationships with people, patience could be called “love-waiting.”  I had no idea how selfish I was until I got married. I had no idea how impatient I was until I became a father and found myself waiting for teenage children to grow up. The Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in my life: vertical patience by teaching me to have a faith that waits on Him, and horizontal patience by teaching me that in relationships, love waits.

We all eventually find ourselves facing circumstances that are beyond our control. Imagine Paul chained in that awful prison in Rome. Would he find and maintain the peace of God if his formula for peace was to rattle his chains?

Patience is the supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit that gives us the grace to accept the things we cannot control.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


The Lord is My Shepherd… BUT?

August 10, 2018

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” (Psalm 23:1)

These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible beloved by devout people everywhere. According to this psalm of David, the key to the real blessing of this life and the next is a relationship with God. The green pastures, still waters, table of provision, God’s blessing of anointing oil and cup that runs over all the time are all conditioned on our relationship with God as our Good Shepherd.

The spirit in which we recall these words, however, is often something like this: “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I have a health problem.” Or, “the Lord is my Shepherd — but I have marriage problems!” Or, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I cannot control my children.”

When we say “The Lord is my Shepherd — but,” we are putting our “but” in the wrong place. We need to get our “but” in the right place and recall the precious promise of these words this way: “I have a health problem, but THE LORD is my Shepherd! I have marriage problems, but THE LORD is my Shepherd! I cannot control my children, but THE LORD is my Shepherd!”

One way the Lord makes us lie down is to use health problems, marriage problems, problems with our children, finances, careers, and other kinds of challenges to teach us about the relationship with God which is key to all the blessings profiled in Psalm 23.

Will you let the Great Shepherd use whatever challenges you are facing to establish the deeper relationship with God David described so beautifully three thousand years ago?

Dick Woodward, 14 August 2008


Setbacks or Cutbacks?

August 7, 2018

“… every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  (John 15:2)

My mentor Ray Stedman loved to tell the story about the famous violinist Paganini. As a brilliant violinist and superb showman, he liked to attach a sharp razor to his wrist. At the right moment he would cut one of the strings on his violin. As the string popped the audience would gasp, but the most famous violinist in the world would keep playing. Paganini did this dramatically until he only had one string left on his violin. He would then play the entire concerto on that one string as a violin virtuoso.

Ray’s application was that God sometimes likes to cut back our strings and play the concertos of our lives on one string. This brings great glory to God because people can’t believe that as we experience cutbacks our concertos continue to play with even more beautiful sounds.

My precious wife has lost the use of her left arm and years ago I lost the use of all four limbs. But the concerto of our lives and ministry continues to be more fruitful than it has ever been which brings great glory to God who is the One orchestrating the concerto of our lives.

The explanation of Jesus is that He is a Vine and we are branches related to Him. When we are fruitful because of that alignment He cuts us back to make us more fruitful.

Is it possible events in your life that you consider setbacks are actually cutbacks of your loving Lord and Savior who wants your life to be fruitful in the heavenly dimension?

Dick Woodward, 14 August 2012


The Vine Looking For Branches

July 31, 2018

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”  (John 15:5)

The apostles had been in awe of the profound words and miraculous works of Jesus. In their last retreat, Jesus essentially said that the key to His preaching, teaching, and supernatural ministry is that He and the Father are one.  The Word and work of our Heavenly Father was spoken and accomplished on earth through Jesus because He is one with the Father.  Jesus taught the disciples that after His death and resurrection, if they would be at one with Him His Word would be spoken and His work would be done on earth through them.

While the disciples were in a garden, Jesus pulled down a vine which had many branches loaded with fruit and said: “I am the Vine and you are the branches.”  In this metaphor the fruit does not grow on the vine. The fruit grows out on the branches because they are properly aligned with the Vine.

The branches can bear no fruit without the Vine and the Vine can bear no fruit without the branches. If the Vine, Jesus, wants to see fruit produced, He must pass His life-giving power through the branches, the apostles and now us.

By this inspired metaphor, Jesus was actually teaching two propositions: “Without Me, you can do nothing” and “Without you, I will do nothing.”

It is the plan of God to use the power of God in the people of God to accomplish the purposes of God according to the plan of God.  Jesus is a Vine looking for branches.

Are you one of His branches?

Dick Woodward, 31 July 2012


Watching & Listening (by Faith)

July 24, 2018

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds’ feet, he makes me tread upon my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

The Old Testament and New Testament history of the people of God has identified an undeniable reality: good and evil exist side by side. The names and faces of good and evil keep changing, but good and evil have always had a presence in this world. Although forces of evil have tried for thousands of years to destroy the people of God, God’s people still have a presence in this world, by faith.

The devotional application of Habakkuk’s prophesy is that we should build spiritual watchtowers today. When facing overwhelming problems, especially Job-like tragedies that nobody understands, watch and listen in your spiritual watchtower. While watching and listening, Habakkuk wants you to know God welcomes your questions.

While everyone else was looking and listening for the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, Habakkuk watched and listened for God. If we watch and listen for God today the way Habakkuk did, we will discover God is still speaking through men and women of faith.

When Habakkuk looked at his problems and circumstances, he sighed and despaired. When Habakkuk turned to God with his doubts and asked God questions, watching and listening for God’s answers, Habakkuk sang.

When you are overwhelmed with Babylon and Job-type challenges, go up in your spiritual watchtower so that you might:

  • Watch until you see God working in your life.
  • Listen until you hear God working in your life.
  • See, hear, and worship God Who is working in your life.

Like Habakkuk, ask God your questions. In God’s time and God’s own way, God will answer your questions – if you are listening!

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook (p.630-632)


Knocked Down – But Never Out!

July 3, 2018

…This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak, in common earthenware – to show that the splendid power of it belongs to God and not to us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7 (J.B. Phillips)

Many years ago our famous American statesman, John Quincy Adams, was crossing a street.  Due to poor health it took him five minutes to reach the other side. A friend passing by asked, “How is John Quincy Adams this morning?”  He replied, “John Quincy Adams is doing just fine. The house he lives in is in sad disrepair. In fact, it is so dilapidated, John Quincy Adams may have to move soon, but John Quincy Adams is doing just fine, thank you!”

John Quincy Adams had good theology. To make a clear distinction between his inward man (the spiritual man who is eternal), and his outward man (the body which is temporal), and clearly value the inward man above the outward man is a vital dimension the Apostle Paul shares with us in II Corinthians chapters 4 and 5.

According to Paul, outwardly we do not always know why things happen the way they do. Therefore, our outward persona is often perplexed. Paul tells us, however, that inside there is a continuous persuasion because Christ lives in us.

Paul writes that outwardly we may be persecuted and suffer, but inside Jesus is continuously assuring us, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Speaking from his own experiences of suffering, illness and persecution, Paul acknowledges that sometimes our little clay pot gets knocked down, but never knocked out.

Because there is a Great Treasure living in our clay plot, we always get up and keep going.

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values


Wrapped in Bundles of Life with God

June 22, 2018

“Wrapped in a bundle of life with God…” (I Samuel 25:29)

“These words of Scripture are often found inscribed on gravestones of children who died at a very early age, especially in Jewish cemeteries where Jewish mothers expressed the almost inexpressible feelings of their hearts as they laid their children to rest. As Christians we could also inscribe these words on the gravestones of our children and loved ones because they bring great comfort and consolation as we think of those we have lost through sickness and death.” (Dick Woodward)

On Monday morning, 22 June 2015, Dick Woodward’s precious wife, Ginny, went to rest in the Everlasting Arms of God with all five of her children gathered around her bedside singing “Amazing Grace.” We are grateful to God for the gift of her life and the amazing grace of Jesus that fills the legacy of love and faith she leaves behind.

Partnering with Papa in ministry and life during their 58-year marriage, in the last 25 years when he said “we” would do something, he truly meant it. As he became a wheel-chair bound quadriplegic and subsequently a bedfast quadriplegic, Mama literally served as his hands and feet (and much more besides.)

Steadfast faithfulness describes our precious Mama. We thank God our Heavenly Father for His faithfulness to her, her faithfulness to God, to us, and to our Papa – a witness not only to our family and the Tidewater/ Williamsburg community, but around the world where the Mini-Bible College continues to yield Kingdom fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We pray that the seeds of faith and love she planted, watered with her deep, deep love of Jesus, will continue to bloom and grow for many years to come.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end…”

The Blog Posting Elf, (24 June 2015)

Dick & Ginny Woodward, “wrapped in bundles of life with God.”