#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)


The Anatomy of a Sin (Pizza, Pizza!)

June 25, 2019

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15)

In this verse James gives us what we might call the anatomy of a sin.

One day more than twenty years ago, my wife had to be gone for six or seven hours. As I watched sports television in the evening, every thirty minutes or so there was an advertisement promoting pizza.

I truly love pizza but I’m not supposed to have it because I am a diabetic. Each time the commercial was shown I developed a stronger desire for a pizza.

I had a telephone next to me and some money, so eventually I called and ordered a pizza. I told them I was in a wheelchair so please walk in. When the delivery man arrived, I told him to place the pizza on the blanket in my lap and take the box with him (to leave no evidence.)

When my wife returned, however, as she picked up the blanket to fold it a small pizza crust dropped to the floor. The consequences were disastrous!

According to James sin involves a lure, a look, a strong desire, and eventually temptation – then sin and death, which means “the pits.” It is as if the lure is a piece of metal and our strong desire is a powerful magnet. If we don’t do something to break up the magnetic field between our desire and that lure, we will sin.

I didn’t do that, so the pizza landed in my lap.

James shared this with us so we would understand the importance of breaking up that magnetic sequence of sin.

Are you willing to do that?

Dick Woodward, 24 June 2011


Pastor Dick Woodward: Standing Tall

March 8, 2019

Since today marks the 5-year memorial of Dick Woodward’s passing on March 8th in 2014, the blog posting elf would like to share a poem her sister wrote for one of Papa’s birthdays and later shared at his Memorial Celebration. Although it’s been 5 years, the Mini Bible College continues strong through ICM’s global ministry (now translated into 40+ languages with an additional 10 in process.)

As Papa would say, “I didn’t but God did …” & is still doing!

DAD

How do we tell the story of your extraordinary life?
Your background conditions would have predicted only strife.
 
Growing up in the Depression with barely enough to eat,
Your father working day and night just to make ends meet.
Overshadowed by your siblings—the seventh child of eleven,
But at the age of nineteen sought out by the God of heaven.
 
Such a change in direction,
Indescribable new affection!
ANYWHERE, ANYPLACE, ANYTIME,
Was your commitment to your Savior divine.
 
A gift for speaking and engaging wayward souls,
Making the Word simple in order to make men whole.
Many years spent preaching to empty pews,
When suddenly the wind of the Spirit blew.
 
Then came along the Mildred Alexander show,
And a TV audience with a hunger to know.
Many folks tuned in to discover
The Mini-Bible College from cover to cover.
 
So much spiritual success,
But one day really put to the test,
A crippling illness took away your mobility,
Yet grace was greater than your disability.
 
Immeasurable fruit on seven continents,
Broadcasts, booklets, “God-pods” and Internet.
“Unexplained happiness” for all to see,
“I can’t, but He can”—your secret remedy.
 
So how do we tell your story, Dad?
By telling of the Savior you’ve had.
Jesus Christ is your all in all,
And by His grace you’re STANDING TALL!

Cindy Woodward Kranich (25 October 2007)


Tending Our Spiritual Gardens

February 15, 2019

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. What counts is a new creation.” (Galatians 6:7,15)

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Galatians. The first part of this passage is often preached to unbelievers, but Paul was addressing professing believers. As believers this is a spiritual law of our lives in Christ.

Every day we can sow spiritual seeds in the gardens of our lives, or we can sow seeds of our flesh. William Barclay, a professor of Bible at Edinburgh University for forty years, wrote that when the Bible refers to our flesh it means “human nature unaided by God.” According to Paul, human nature unaided by God is a seed that produces corruption.

We have the option to sow spiritual seeds in our lives every day – spiritual seeds that produce a continuous creation.

David prayed “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.” (Psalm 51:10) In the New Testament, the apostles refer to being born again as a miracle of creation.

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

This means we have two options before us every day: creation or corruption. We can sow spiritual seeds in the gardens of our lives that continue the act of creation God is miraculously performing in us, or we can sow seeds that produce corruption.

What seeds are you sowing in the garden of your life today?

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2011


Setting Big & Audacious Goals

January 4, 2019

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 1:6)

In this first week of the New Year a friend informed me that he no longer makes New Year’s resolutions. When I asked him why he said, “My willpower is nearly always out of power.”

The Apostle Paul’s favorite Church was the one he planted at Philippi. Having brought scores of people to faith in Christ in that city, he finds himself in prison and unable to have physical contact with them. As their pastor he cannot use his powers of reason and persuasion or his spiritual gifts of wisdom, preaching and teaching. Yet he has unwavering confidence that they will continue in their faith in Jesus Christ.

This confidence is not based on them or on himself. He has his upbeat perspective about them because he knows that the One Who began a miraculous work in them will complete what He started.

The word ‘perspective’ means “to look through to the end.” At the starting gate of a New Year it’s important to have healthy perspective. I’m not thinking about willpower driven resolutions but spiritual goals that only the risen, living Christ can make doable.

I’m talking about what you would like to see Jesus Christ do in your life this year.

This year I have a new challenge for setting goals – to make them big and audacious.  As we set goals for this New Year, be sure to make them big enough to let Christ in. Then watch Christ work because we have set big and audacious goals that only He can accomplish!

Dick Woodward, 04 January 2011


Christmas: Great Joy for ALL People

December 21, 2018

“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people!” (Luke 2:10)

A man named Tim Hansel lived every day with excruciating pain. He wrote in his book, You Gotta Keep Dancing, that “pain and suffering are inevitable but misery is optional.” That is true for a Spirit controlled disciple of Jesus. Tim also wrote “I can choose to be joyful.”

Joy is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5: 22-23) As evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, joy could be paraphrased “happiness that does not make sense.”

The derivation of the word “happiness” has to do with what happens to us. But this joy, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit living in us, is not controlled by what happens to us. That is why it does not make sense, especially to non-spiritual people.

In the very short letter the Apostle Paul wrote from prison to his favorite church, the Philippians, he used the word joy 17 times!

Appearing to the shepherds the angels explained why their declaration would bring great joy to all people: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Great joy came because the One born is the Savior. He is Christ, which is the Greek way of saying the Messiah. And He is to be our Lord.

Joy came because Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who follow Him. This joy is intended for all people, including you and me.

Are you choosing to be joyful?

Dick Woodward, 20 December 2013


Having (& sharing) Hope @ the Holidays

December 7, 2018

“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)

Do you know, or can you remember what it’s like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope? In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us three lasting eternal values in life are faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest of these values because God is love. Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God.  Hope is also one of the three great values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God.

In the heart of every human being, God plants hope, the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good will intersect our lives. That is what the author of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1)

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have Good News that can give hope to the hopeless. We must not let unbelief silence us. If we never share the Good News of the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be, we should ask ourselves, “do we really believe the Gospel of Christmas?”

Because if we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share that Good News with the people Jesus told us He came to seek and to save. (Luke 19:10) We show that we believe in the Christmas that shall be when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men, we should ask the question, “Where is He?” Seek Him until we find Him, then worship Him and give the gift of our lives to Him. Then, like those shepherds, we should tell everybody the Good News that Christmas has come – and Christmas is coming again to our world.

Dick Woodward, from A Christmas Prescription