Pizza! Pizza! – The Anatomy of a Sin

June 23, 2020

“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. Watching sports television that evening, every thirty minutes or so an advertisement promoting pizza came on. I truly love pizza but I’m not supposed to have it because I am a diabetic.

Each time I saw the commercial I developed a stronger desire for pizza.

I had a telephone and some money in my pocket, 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 asked 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. Needless to say, I got in trouble, big time!

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

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

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

Are you willing to do that?

Dick Woodward, 24 June 2011


Ministers of Comfort (for the Brokenhearted)

June 16, 2020

“…who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

They say an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.” Paul is telling us in this passage of Scripture that a minister of comfort is “one hurting heart telling another hurting heart where the Comfort is.”

According to Paul, every time you enter into a deeper level of suffering God gives you a diploma to hang on your wall of spiritual credentials.

Jeremiah Denton was in solitary confinement in Hanoi for seven years. While he was alone in that cell he made a discovery: God was there and God comforted him. Have you entered into a level of suffering that was deep enough for you to make that same discovery? If you have, then as a qualified minister of comfort you can tell other hurting hearts where the Comfort is.

As a pastor for just under six decades I have made a discovery. The best one to comfort a parent who has lost a child is a parent who has lost a child, and best one to comfort the person who has lost a spouse is someone who has lost a spouse – when those who have suffered these losses have been comforted by God. The same is true for women who have had mastectomies, those who are going through divorce, battling cancer, and every other type of suffering.

When God has comforted you in your deepest levels of suffering are you willing to reach outside yourself and become a qualified minister of comfort?

Dick Woodward, 17 June 2010


#FAITH & #PATIENCE

May 22, 2020

“They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

We must learn the difference between what we can do and what only God can do. We must have faith to wait on the Lord until He empowers and enables us to do what He desires.

I have summarized waiting on the Lord in Four Spiritual Secrets: I’m not, but He is; I can’t, but He can; I don’t want to, but He want to; and I didn’t, but He did.’ 

These spiritual secrets affirm that it is not a matter of who we are, but Who God is; it’s not a matter of what we can do, but what God can do; it’s not a matter of what we want, but what God wants. If these first three secrets are in place, we will know the joy of one day looking back and affirming it was not a matter of what we did, but what God did through us.

When I first began learning these spiritual secrets, I’d say, “I can’t, but He can.” Then, as a mover and shaker, I’d look at my watch, “I’ll give God five minutes, and if He doesn’t, I will!”

It took 40 years and a bush to teach Moses how to wait on the Lord, and it has taken 40 years for me to learn how to wait on the Lord the way an eagle waits on the wind.

Waiting on the Lord was not my style until my (quadriplegia) illness forced me to learn why an eagle sits on the side of its nest and waits until the wind currents are strong enough to soar over the winds of a storm.

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


#PRAYER: Highways for God

May 15, 2020

“Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3)

In ancient times if a king wanted to travel to a faraway province in his kingdom a highway would be built for him. As people worked on that project they called it “The Kings Highway.” Isaiah is using this metaphor to say that God will travel into this world on a highway, and that Highway is the life of the Messiah.

Building a highway you need to do four things: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and smooth out rough places.

Through the life of God’s Son, the Messiah, mountains of pride will be leveled, empty valleys will be filled with the Holy Spirit, crooked ways of sin will be straightened, and He will respond to rough places in a way that brings glory to His Father and salvation to the world.

After spending three years 24/7 with a dozen disciples, Jesus challenged them that as His Father sent Him into the world, He was sending them out in the same way. (John 20:21)

One of many practical applications of that challenge for them, and for us, is that our lives must be highways for God.

I challenge you, in fact I dare you to pray this prayer: God, make my life a highway for You!”

If you do this, don’t be surprised when God’s spiritual bulldozers show up in your life leveling mountains of pride, filling your emptiness with the Holy Spirit, making straight your crooked places, and smoothing out your rough places.

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2011


The Good Shepherd: #Faith and #Restoration

May 12, 2020

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23:3)

In one of the most popular psalms written by King David, he shares the key to living and dying well in the opening statement. When we say (and believe) that the Lord is our shepherd, we can say we have green pastures, still waters, and the knowledge that the paths in which we are moving are the right paths for us.

This all happens when the Good Shepherd makes us lie down. But when we get up, the green pastures often turn brown and still waters are disturbed again.

That’s when David gives us a prescription for restoration: my Shepherd-God leads me in the paths of righteousness. The second time David writes ‘He leads me,’ he uses a different Hebrew word that means He drives me into the paths of righteousness, perhaps for some time, even years.

God then uses the discipline of those paths of righteousness to restore my soul.

The word rehabilitation in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” It, too, is a prescription for restoration.

When we need restoration and rehabilitation we should not look for what’s cheap. God’s prescription for restoration in Psalm 23 is not cheap.

It takes time and it’s costly, but it works. It has worked for me and scores of others I know personally.

It can also work for you.

When you suffer great loss you can focus on what you have lost and be depressed, or you can focus on what you still have and be restored.

Are you willing to invest again with dignity?

Dick Woodward, 11 May 2010

#hope #peace #love #Psalm23 #faithfulness


#FAITH – PUT GOD FIRST!!

May 8, 2020

“…but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.” (Matthew 6:33)

The message of the entire Bible can be summed up in two words: “God First.” Over and over the bottom-line truth in a Psalm, life of a Bible character, parable, metaphor, and teaching of Jesus comes down to this simple concept: “GOD FIRST.”

That is not easy. In fact, it is impossible without the Holy Spirit. (1Corinthians 12:3)

I was blessed to have a godly mother who often said to me: “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, then Jesus Christ must be everything to you. Because, until Jesus Christ is everything to you, Dick, He isn’t really anything to you.”

As I studied the values of Jesus Christ, I realized my mother had His support when she brought my profession of faith to a verdict in this way.

Matthew 6:33 is the conclusion of a study given by Jesus regarding values. He taught that our hearts are where our treasures are. He also challenged us with the questions: “Where is your heart? What are your treasures? What is your life? What is your body?” and “Who is your master?”

The conclusion to this treatise on values is the declaration to seek God first. Think of a target with a bulls-eye surrounded by ten circles. According to Jesus, the bulls-eye of our priority target should be God. If we do that we have Christ’s promise that God will bless us with what we need.

When we think about our values these two words should immediately surface in our hearts and minds: “GOD FIRST.”

Dick Woodward, 09 November 2010

p.s. A blessed Mother’s Day to all on Sunday!

#love #hope #prayer #God #peace #Jesus


#FAITH PREP IN THE MORNING

May 5, 2020

“Let me hear of Your steadfast love in the morning, for in You I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.”  (Psalm 143:8)

Early every morning the eagle preens its feathers for more than an hour. Sitting on the side of its nest, the eagle passes each feather through its mouth, something like steam cleaning while depositing a liquid that makes its feathers water repellent.

This is important because eagles fish by diving under the water. The fluid deposited on their feathers also locks them together to improve their aerodynamics.  Whether an eagle is planning to fish or not, every morning for an hour they sit on the side of their nest and preen. They are not primping, they are preening – a very prudent preparation.

Like you and me, eagles never know what challenges they may face on any given day. Therefore, they preen in preparation for every possible challenge each day may hold.

Do you wake up holy in the morning? Before you’ve had your coffee? It’s possible for spiritual people to wake up holy, but if we’re honest we will concede that most of the time we don’t wake up that way.

It is very important to make a good beginning each day. When we consider the eagle’s daily practice of early morning preening, we are challenged to begin every day of our lives with spiritual preparation.

Have you preened your spirit with God’s help this morning?

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

#prayer #hope #devotions #love #eagles #God


Unquenchable #FAITH, Unfailing #LOVE

May 1, 2020

Surely goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)  

What is the basis of David’s unquenchable faith? What gives him the assurance that all the blessings he has described in Psalm 23 will be experienced “all the days of his life” and “forever?”

The word Selah, found frequently in the Psalms of David, can be interpreted: “Pause and calmly think about that.” If we pause and calmly think about it, we realize that all through Psalm 23 David presents the Good Shepherd as the great Initiator of their relationship.

It is the Shepherd Who gets David’s attention then makes him lie down and say, “baa,” confessing that he is a sheep and the Lord is his Shepherd. It is the Shepherd Who makes David lie down by green pastures and leads him beside still waters. It is the Shepherd Who uses His staff when David strays from Him, and drives him into paths of righteousness that restore his soul.

As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own extraordinary ability as a warrior. His confidence is clearly in the Good Shepherd. As David walks through this scary valley, he looks to God for protection and provision. He knows God will personally anoint him with oil and keep that cup running over within him.

The source of David’s confident faith is also expressed in this hymn, “I Sought the Lord,” by George McDonald.

“I find, I walk, I love, but Oh the whole of love

            Is but my answer, Lord to Thee.

            For You were long beforehand with my soul.

            Always, you have loved me.”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk

#prayer #hope #inspiration #belief #comfort


THE ME FIRST #FAITH CLUB

April 28, 2020

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”  (1Timothy 4:16)

Although it sounds contrary to what we have been taught, the Apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, that there are times when we should join the Me First Faith Club. When you find something great in the Scriptures, how many times is your first thought the person who simply must hear this truth?

In this prescription for spiritual growth Paul writes that Timothy should place the Scripture on his life, and then hold his life up to Scripture. Paul promises Timothy that if he will continuously do this as a spiritual discipline, he will experience salvation and then lead others to salvation.

There are at least three times when committed disciples should put ourselves in first place: when we are judging, when there is sin to confess, and when it comes to our spiritual needs. Many disciples have become casualties because they neglected these priorities.

There is a sense in which if we do not save ourselves we cannot save anybody else. When oxygen masks appear on a commercial air flight, mothers are instructed to place their masks on first and then put their babies’ masks on.

If you are a spiritual leader don’t apply Scripture to others that you have not first applied to yourself. Think of the priorities being taught here as concentric circles. You are the innermost circle. The other circles represent those with whom you share God’s Word after you have joined the Me First Faith Club.

Save yourself and then watch God save others.

Dick Woodward, 27 April 2013

#prayer #hope #peace #theBible #belief


Two People in a Pew, which One are You?

April 21, 2020

“Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are those who are persecuted …” (Matthew 5:9-10)

As Jesus profiles the character of a disciple that makes them salt, light and a solution to the problems and problem people of this world, He declares that they will be peacemakers who get persecuted.

A synonym for “peacemakers” is “reconcilers.”  Paul writes (in 2 Corinthians 5:13-6:2) that every believer who has been reconciled to God through Christ has committed to them the message and ministry of reconciliation.

Today many people are alienated from God, from themselves, and from other people. There is an acute need for reconciliation. To quote an old theologian, “It is the will of the Reconciler that the reconciled are to be the vehicles of reconciliation in the lives of the un-reconciled.”

Since reconcilers go where conflict is happening they are often in great danger. Such is the case with disciples who are living the fourth pair of Jesus Christ’s Beatitudes.

You would think that if a person had eight blessed attitudes in their life people would gather around them and sing “For he (and she) is a jolly good fellow!” But the opposite is true. Often such a person is attacked and persecuted.

The reason for this is that when people meet such a person they have two choices. They can realize that this is what I should be like, or they can attack that person and try to prove that they are really not what they appear to be.

Those who are the salt of the earth irritate and burn the ethical sores of those who are lost.

Two people in a pew, which one are you?

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2010