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


Miracles & Mission Impossible(s)

May 8, 2018

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.”  (Matthew 14:19)

Just before our Lord fed five thousand hungry families, He challenged the apostles with an impossible mission. When the apostles urged the Lord to send that hungry multitude away, Jesus said to the apostles, “You feed them!  How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

The apostles must have been overwhelmed by that challenge. How were they going to find enough food in that deserted place to feed that big crowd of people?

The only food the apostles could find was a basket of five biscuits and two little sardines.  They placed that food in the hands of the Lord saying, “All we have is this food a small boy brought with him, but what is this among so many hungry people?”  The Lord blessed what the apostles gave Him and then passed that little boy’s lunch through the hands of the apostles to the mouths of more than five thousand people.

That day the apostles learned that whatever we have is adequate when we place our inadequacy in the Lord’s hands.

Through the miracles we are experiencing in ministry, we are learning that our Lord likes to assign us a mission impossible. Then, when the impossibility of our mission makes us turn to Him and say, “This is all we have,” He takes it in His hands, blesses it, and then feeds millions with the Living Bread from heaven.

Dick Woodward (ICM Networking, Fall 2000)


Using God’s Love Lenses

January 31, 2017

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

How does love fit into the trio of lasting qualities Paul writes of? The Apostle John answered the question for us when he wrote: “God is love and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God dwells in him.” (I John 4;16) When we dwell in the love Paul prescribed (in I Corinthians 13), we dwell in God, and God dwells in us.

By application, this means when we go where the hurting people are, as God’s love is passing through us and addressing their pain, we are touching God and God is touching us.  Since the agape love passing through us is God, we are dwelling in God and God is dwelling in us while God’s love is passing through us.

Jesus gave us love perspective when He exhorted the apostles to look up before they look on the fields that are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35) The Lord was focusing on two perspectives we must master as His authentic disciples. Before we look around and relate to the people who intersect our lives every day, we are to look up, and then look at them. We should see them through the same love lenses God uses when God sees them.  If we do, we will never see anyone we cannot love.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Ministering Comfort

January 15, 2016

“…  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.” (2Corinthians 1:4)

They say an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”  Paul is telling us in this Scripture passage 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 you can frame and hang on your wall of credentials.

Captured during the Vietnam War, Jeremiah Denton spent 7 years of solitary confinement in Hanoi.  Alone in that cell he made an amazing discovery: God was there and God Himself 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 you are a qualified minister of comfort and 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 the 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 Himself.  The same is true for women who have had mastectomies, those who are going through divorce, battling cancer and every other shade and grade of suffering.

When God Himself 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


Garden Spots: the genesis of this blog

June 2, 2014

As some of you faithful readers know, Dick Woodward needed a bit of help posting this blog. He couldn’t move anything (not even to wipe his nose) so he did all of his writing through a voice-activated computer, often painstakingly spelling out each word.  He wrote thousands of pages this way: books, Bible-study guides, pamphlets & many treasured emails to friends, family & fellow Kingdom laborers around the globe including the Editor, (a.k.a. the “Blog Posting Elf.”)

Let’s take a time-out to meet this Editor/Elf:  Virginia Woodward, Dick’s daughter, who worked many years overseas before coming home to help him. During a serious health crisis right after my return we thought Papa only had 6 months to live, but that was eight years ago – thanks be to God for the gift of life!

As an ardent reader of daily devotional books I encouraged Papa to compile his own daily book of what he called “Garden Spots” – places in the Scripture to take spiritual pause, meditating in the garden of God’s eternal truths.  Five, almost six years ago we started this blog with help from M.K. Sizemore & others toward that goal: compiling 365 blog entries that could eventually be used in a daily “Garden Spots” devotional book.  Before Papa died in March, we had posted over 400 of his blogs.

It’s taken awhile for the Blog Posting Elf to flex grieving editing muscles again.  Every week I encouraged Papa to meet his blog deadlines – usually Tuesdays & Fridays.  He would write-speak his first draft in Microsoft Word, then send it to my email for review & editing.  We then sat together in front of his big computer screen to wordsmith the final version (often with spirited editing discussions) before the Elf cut & pasted it into a blog post. Those were precious times amidst his busy schedule of appointments and all that clamored for his attention.

Now, although my father is gone, his faith-filled example and words are still with us. Many words, painstakingly spoken-typed, in many places – printed in books and pamphlets through the ministry of ICM & the Mini-Bible College, on this blog, in emails – and his spoken words that remain in our hearts & memories (& also through ICM’s audio compilations.)  By continuing this blog, I pray that Papa’s “Garden Spots” will continue to get you, dear readers, into the Word of God and more of the Word of God into you.  He always said, “the whole Word for the whole world.” That begins with each one of us as we apply the Word of God in our daily lives.

“When the sun finally drops below the horizon in the early evening, evidence of its work remains for some time. The skies continue to glow for a full hour after its departure.  In the same way, when a good or a great person’s life comes to its final sunset, the skies of this world are illuminated until long after he is out of view. Such a person does not die from this world, for when he departs he leaves much of himself behind–and being dead, he still speaks.”      Henry Ward Beecher  (Streams in the Desert.)
.
Let’s keep listening to my father, Dick Woodward, as we encounter his Garden Spots together each week on this blog.
.
grace, peace & spiritual Garden Spots
Virginia Woodward
(The Editor & Blog Posting Elf)