HOW DO YOU SEE THINGS?

April 30, 2021

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”  (Matthew 6:22-23)

Jesus showed us the importance of our perspective when He told us our lives can be filled with joy or with sadness. Those two awesome opposites are determined by what Jesus calls “our eye.” By our eye Jesus means how we see things.

One of the most important questions we will answer is: “How do you see things?”

According to Jesus, if the way you see things is healthy and whole, your life will be filled with joy and light. If your mindset and perspective are not healthy, your life will be filled with darkness, unhappiness, sadness and depression.

God liked to ask the prophets: What do you see, Elijah? What do you see, Ezekiel? What do you see, Jeremiah? The Old Testament is filled with stories of godly people who distinguished themselves in the halls of faith.

When God asked them that question, they saw what God wanted them to see.

Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) A discerning spiritual leader added these words: “Where there is no plan, the vision perishes.” As the eagle has binocular and monocular vision, we must have a vision which continuously holds in perspective the long view of what God wants to do through us. 

We must also have a plan that keeps our vision from perishing as we move forward.

Dick Woodward, from As Eagles: How to Be an Eagle Disciple


MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

December 25, 2020

“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)

This verse begins and ends with one of the most beautiful Christmas words in the Bible: the word “all.” The first time the word is used in this verse it gives us the bad news. It tells us all of us have gone astray and turned – every one of us – to our own way. The prophet Isaiah repeats himself for emphasis when he tells us that every one of us has turned to his or her own way.

Do you believe you are included in the first “all” of this verse?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a verse of Scripture to convince me that I’m included in the first “all.” Only Santa Claus brings good things to good people on Christmas Day. According to Isaiah, Christmas is when good things happen to people who have strayed from God.

The good news of this Christmas word is the way Isaiah concludes his verse. We are not ready for the good news until we are convinced of the bad news. He tells us the good news that God has laid on His Son the iniquity and sins of us all! Do you believe you are included in the last “all” of this verse?

If you will meet yourself in the two “alls” of Isaiah you receive, by faith, your greatest Christmas gift. Paul described it this way:

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

Merry Christmas to ALL!!

Dick Woodward, 25 December 2011


#FAITH – A CHRISTMAS PRESCRIPTION

December 8, 2020

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

The holidays are the most family-oriented weeks of the year.  Yet for many – those who have no family, singles, widows and widowers, the divorced among us, and those with painful and negative family experiences – the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. 

As a pastor, every year I had parishioners who asked me in early November to pray for them to make it through the holidays. The hard reality is that lonely, depressed, and anxious people are lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious during the “jolliest season” than at any other time of the year.

At the same time, the last four weeks of the year are filled with joy and happiness for millions of people and their families. Whether the holiday season is your favorite time or your most difficult time of the year, I want to share a Christmas prescription that can bring the true meaning of Christmas to your holidays and to every day of your new year.

To begin, try to block out the advertising blitz of commercial Christmas we have today. Carefully read the Christmas scriptures in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and then read the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John.

God told a devout peasant girl what He was going to do. Mary believed God, but she asked God questions and pondered these things in her heart.

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription

Editor’s Note: During the rest of December, the blog posting elf will share excerpts from one of Papa’s booklets, “A Christmas Prescription.” Be blessed as we ponder the Christmas that was, the Christmas that shall be, and the Christmas that is.


A PSALM OF THANKSGIVING

November 26, 2020

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)

In this profound thanksgiving psalm David tells us that coming into the presence of God is like having an audience with a great King. That audience begins with the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.

In a corporate worship service or in your worship closet, always try to begin your approach to God at the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.

I personally know of no other worship aids that mean more to me than to begin my approach to our Heavenly Father with thanksgiving. When I begin thanking Him and praising Him I soon find myself coming before His presence with singing.

In His presence I know that He is God. I know that He is my Shepherd and I am His sheep. I know that He is good and His mercy is everlasting. I know He wants me to share the truth of His Word in all the lands of this world because He wants people in all the lands of this world and in every generation to know what it is to make a joyful shout of worship in His presence.

Today let this worship psalm of David show you how to…

Have a joyful Thanksgiving Day!

Dick Woodward, 23 November 2011


FINDING MY #JOY IN JESUS

October 20, 2020

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

Because God loves us God tells us things like, “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 a dungeon. No matter what the circumstances were, he could say, “I’m ready for anything. I have learned how to live when everything’s good and I have learned how to live when everything’s bad.” 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 : PERSPECTIVE AND VISION

September 15, 2020

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)

When you break down the word perspective, it literally means “to look through.” (Per = through, specto = look.) The expression tunnel vision is a good paraphrase for perspective. People with tunnel vision see their objective clearly, oblivious to obstacles and distractions that could hinder accomplishing goals and objectives.

Jesus showed us the importance of our perspective when He told us our lives can be filled with joy or darkness. Those two opposites are determined by our “eye” – how we see things.

One of the most important questions is: “How do you see things?”

According to Jesus, if the way you see things is healthy and whole, your life will be filled with joy and light. If your perspective is not healthy, your life will be filled with darkness and depression.

God liked to ask Old Testament prophets: What do you see, Elijah? What do you see, Ezekiel? What do you see, Jeremiah? 

The Old Testament is filled with stories of godly people who distinguished themselves because when God asked them that question they saw what God wanted them to see.

Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) A discerning spiritual leader added these words: “Where there is no plan, the vision perishes.” As the eagle has binocular and monocular vision, we must have a vision which continuously holds in perspective the long view of what God wants to do through us.

We must also have a plan that gives us a monocular vision perspective to keep our vision from perishing as we move forward.

Dick Woodward, from As Eagles: How to Be an Eagle Disciple


Misery vs. Peace & Joy

June 12, 2020

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in him at all times.” (Philippians 4:4)

“While pain and suffering are inevitable, misery is optional.” These are the words of a man who lives every day with excruciating pain.

How can misery be optional for someone in agonizing pain? How do we explain Paul mentioning joy seventeen times in the short letter he wrote from prison to the Philippians?

Paul explains that for those who experience a relationship with the risen, living Christ there is peace and joy that are not controlled by our circumstances. The peace and joy Paul experienced could be called, “Peace that doesn’t make good sense” and “Happiness that doesn’t make good sense.”

According to Paul, the foundation of our peace and joy should be Jesus Himself. He therefore prescribed that we are to delight ourselves in Jesus and find our peace and joy in Him at all times.

What is your foundation for serenity and joy? If your foundation is the relationship with a loved one, do you realize there is no relationship with people here in this life that cannot be removed?

If your foundation is your health, youth, or athleticism, many thousands of people who had those foundations before age, illness, or injury destroyed them, will join me in warning you that they are fragile foundations for the peace and joy Paul is describing.

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Dick Woodward, 23 June 2009


A CHRISTMAS THAT IS…

December 24, 2019

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

The risen living Christ sends a letter to a Church in Laodicea, as recorded in Chapter Three of the Revelation. The church has been reading that letter for 2000 years. The risen Christ wishes they were hot, but if they are not going to get hot He would rather they be cold. Because they are neither cold, nor hot, but lukewarm – they make Him want to throw up!

The risen Christ then tells them how to have a Christmas that is and can be all day long, every day of the year. It is as if their life is a house and their heart is the door to that house. He is knocking on that door. He is patiently waiting for them to open that door and invite Him into all the meaningful areas of their life.

Verse 19 makes it clear that His knocking is chastisement which He wants to grow into repentance. His inspired metaphor illustrates repentance. It would seem there is no latch on the outside of the door.

The door must be opened from the inside.

Martin Luther wrote a Christmas carol that uses a similar metaphor: “Holy Jesus, precious Child make Thee a bed soft, undefiled, within my heart that it may be a quiet chamber kept for Thee.”

In our church on Christmas Eve children sing: “Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart.  Somewhere deep inside you that’s where Christmas really starts. So give your heart to Jesus. You’ll discover when you do, that it’s Christmas, really Christmas for you!”

 Dick Woodward, 24 December 2010


A Christmas Greeting: “ALL PEOPLE!!”

December 13, 2019

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”(Luke 2:10)

When the angels appeared to those frightened shepherds, they gave a wonderful Christmas greeting. They announced that they were bringing good tidings of great joy to all people.

These good tidings were not just for Jewish people or for good people.They are to bring great joy to ALL people! That means all kinds of people, and all kinds of people everywhere!

Before He ascended, the last words of Jesus were: “… be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere… to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Some people enjoy their faith as if the last words of Jesus were “Now don’t let it get around!” They live out their faith as if the Gospel is a secret to be kept.

Never forget those two beautiful Christmas words, “All people!”

The spiritual community of those who believe and follow Jesus is not to be a secret organization. It is a community of people who exist for the benefit of their non-members.

Jesus Christ came to bring good news and great joy to people who are not good. The Bible tells us that all of us have gone astray and turned every one of us to his or her own way. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God laid the penalty for all of our sins on His Son. (Isaiah 53:6)

Two more great Christmas words are “mercy” and “grace.” The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and God’s grace lavishes on us all kinds of marvelous things we do not deserve. God’s mercy and grace give us more blessings than we can count if we have the faith to receive them.

Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011


#FAITH: Christmas Negligence

December 10, 2019

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

After the Angel Gabriel visited the priest Zechariah he went to the village of Nazareth to a peasant girl named Mary. When Angel Gabriel told Mary she was going to be the mother of God she responded in several ways. The Scripture states very clearly that she believed and praised God. (Luke 1:45-55)

As we might well imagine, we read that she was so filled with awe the first person to question the virgin birth was the Virgin. Mary showed us that honest inquiry is not the sign of a weak faith. The verse above tells us that she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

When the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles tell us about the Christmas that shall be when Jesus Christ comes back again, they tell us that His coming is the hope of the world and the blessed hope of the church.

Hope is the conviction that something good exists in this world and we are going to experience it. Close to 30,000 people in America take their life every year because they no longer believe in something good. In other words, they end their lives when they lose hope.

Some believers are so awed by the miracle of the Second Coming they ask questions and experience a “paralysis of analysis” which is followed by much pondering in their hearts.

When we realize that we have a message of hope to tell people without hope about the Christmas that shall be, we simply must share that good news. It is Christmas negligence to have this hope and not share it with people who have no hope.

Dick Woodward, 06 December 2011