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


Psalm 23: “baa! baa! baa!”

November 13, 2018

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”  (Psalm 23:1)

Can you declare the first five words of this great Shepherd Psalm as a personal confession of faith? Can you personally confess with authentic faith, “the Lord is my Shepherd?”

People often touch me as they describe the way the Lord came into their lives, made them lie down and say, “baa!” I am frequently concerned, however, when I don’t hear how that relationship is working in their lives today.

One of David’s most remarkable declarations in this psalm is that the blessings provided by his Shepherd-God are in place ‘all the days of my life.’ Be sure to make the observation that David’s great profession of faith is not, “The Lord was my Shepherd,” but “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

When we confess, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” we are also confessing that we are God’s sheep. It’s not flattering when God tells us we are like sheep. Sheep are so ignorant they are completely helpless and hopeless without their shepherd. Yet, the Word of God clearly tells us God wants us to agree with this appraisal and confess, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Many years ago I was out of bed at an early hour. When my wife Ginny woke up, she asked why I was getting up at 4:30a.m. I told her what I had read during my devotions: “When you wake up, get up, and when you get up, do something for God and for His lambs!”

She responded, “baa! baa! baa!” She was reminding me of something busy pastors often forget – that she and our five children are also God’s lambs.

Psalm 23 is filled with sheep talk that God wants to hear every one of us say, “baa!”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


25 October: Dick Woodward Standing Tall

October 25, 2018

October 25th is Dick Woodward’s birthday (he would have turned 88 today.)The fact that he was 83 when he died as a bedfast quadriplegic in 2014 is miraculous. But everyone who knew Dick Woodward can probably still hear his voice saying, “I can’t, but God can… I didn’t but God did.” (In other words, even when Papa couldn’t do anything but nod his head, God did miraculous things in and through him.) Today in honor of his birthday, here is a poem my sister, Cindy, wrote for him on his 77th birthday. It’s comforting to know that after 28 years as a quadriplegic, today in Heaven he is standing tall in the eternal love of Jesus.

STANDING TALL

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 10/25/2007


Temporal vs. Eternal Values

July 17, 2018

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  (John 17:3)

To appreciate eternal values we must define these two words: eternal and temporal.  Eternal literally means “that which was, that which is, and that which always shall be.” Temporal relates to “that which is temporary.”

Jesus made it clear that we have eternal life because we are related to the true God and believe in the One Whom God sent. Jesus and God are eternal and we have eternal life because we believe and are related to them. We must also make the observation that eternal life is referring to a quality of life as well as a quantity of life.

The word value also needs to be defined. The dictionary tells us “a value is that quality of any certain thing by which it is determined by us to be more or less important, useful, profitable and therefore desirable.”

When we bring these concepts together (eternal, temporal and value) we should realize we are discussing what is more and less important, useful, profitable and therefore desirable in this life and in the life to come.

An eternal value is that the eternal is a greater value than the temporal.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “Truly, if our hope in Christ were limited to this life only we should, of all mankind be the most to be pitied!” (1Corinthians 15:19 J.B.Phillips)

Paul so highly valued the eternal he sacrificed his life here for what he was sure awaited him in eternity.

Do you value the eternal more than the temporal?

Dick Woodward, 16 July 2013


Mothering: A Noble Calling

May 11, 2018

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.” (Psalm 128:1-3)

When you meditate on this Scripture that describes the role and function of a wife and mother, you can paraphrase observations this way: a mother is a man-maker. She is like a fruitful vine in the heart of her husband’s home. To borrow a metaphor from the beginning of the Bible, she is a completer whose passion is to see that her husband becomes all our Creator designed him to be (just as her husband is a completer to ensure she is all our Creator designed her to be.)

She is a people-maker because she gives him children who are like fruitful plants around his table.  Many people would like to put a period after the fourth word of this psalm and say that everyone is blessed or happy, but that is not the way the psalm reads. The blessing on this man is because he meets certain conditions: he walks in the ways of God.

The other verses of the psalm tell us this is how God blesses and impacts the world. God finds a blessed man, joins him to a blessed woman and gives them blessed children. They impact Zion – the spiritual community – and this family unit fruitfully impacts the city and the country.

A mother is at the heart of this great strategy of God. What a great and noble calling!

Rise up and call your mother blessed this Sunday!

Dick Woodward, 07 May 2011


Having Lunch with Jesus

May 1, 2018

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name, “Zacchaeus!” He said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”  (Luke 19:5)

When Jesus came face to face with the greatest sinner in Jericho, He knew him and called him by name. Jesus then invited himself to spend the entire day in the house of His sinner friend. The chapter tells us elsewhere that Jesus was only passing through Jericho. Extremely popular at this time, His walk through Jericho was like a parade with streets crowded with people who wanted to get a glimpse of the famous Rabbi from Galilee.

We might well imagine that the religious leaders would like to have entertained Jesus for lunch.  To everyone’s amazement Jesus declares that He will spend His one day in Jericho with the greatness sinner there. Publicans were hated in that day because they collected taxes for the Romans from their fellow Jews. This chief of the publicans, Zacchaeus, had become very wealthy in that position.

We are told nothing of what Jesus and the publican discussed that day, but at the end of the day as they come out of the house the sinner announces he will give half his money to the poor. And with the other half he will restore 400% of everything he has unjustly taken from people.

One scholar put an interesting spin on this story when he suggested that Zacchaeus was the publican in the previous chapter of Luke who prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!

Do you know any sinners by name?  Are you a friend of sinners?

Dick Woodward, 01 May 2011


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