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


#FAITH: Steps for Regeneration

November 15, 2019

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

An allegory is a story in which people, places and things have a deeper meaning. In addition to being the record of a supernatural miracle, the story of Jesus turning water into wine is a beautiful allegory that shows us how to be born again.

Carefully and prayerfully read the story. (John 2:1-11)

A first step is expressed in the words of Mary when she tells Jesus: “They have no wine.”  Wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible. This statement of Mary is like a confession. Our first step in being born again is to confess that we have no wine (joy) and we need to be born again.

A second step in this formula is when Jesus tells the servants to fill the huge thirty gallon jars with water. The Scripture is sometimes symbolized by water because of the way it cleanses. A devotional application here could therefore be that our second step toward regeneration would be to fill our human vessel with the Word of God.

A third step is pictured when Mary tells the servants to “do whatever Jesus tells you to do.” While we are filling our vessel with the Word we must do what Jesus tells us to do.

The fourth step is when Jesus tells the servants to draw out what they had just poured into the huge jars and serve it as wine. Precisely, when did the water become wine? I’m convinced it was when the servants had the faith to serve the water as wine. We are born again when we believe Jesus can turn our water into wine and show His glory through us.

Dick Woodward, 14 November 2011


#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