Two People in a Pew…

May 1, 2015

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:9-10)

As Jesus profiles what makes a disciple salty light and His solution to the problems and the problem people of this world, He declares that they will be peacemakers who get persecuted in His fourth pair of Beatitudes.

A synonym for “peacemakers” is “reconcilers.”  Paul writes (in Second Corinthians 5:13-6:2), that every believer who has been reconciled to God through Christ is now committed to the message and the ministry of reconciliation.  Today many people are alienated from God, from themselves, and from other people.  The acute need today, therefore, is for reconciliation.  To quote a theologian, who was interpreting the passage referenced above, “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 the conflict is happening they are often in great danger.  Such is the case with disciples who are living the fourth pair of Beatitudes.  You would think that if a person had the eight blessed attitudes in their lives others would gather around him or her and sing, “For he’s (or she’s) a jolly good fellow!” But the opposite is often true.  They attack and persecute such a person.

The reason being when they 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’re really not what they appear to be.  Those who are the salt of the earth irritate and burn the moral sores of those who are lost.

So let me ask you, two men (people) in a pew, which one are you?

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2010


A Prayer for God’s Peace

August 30, 2014

Heavenly Father, You tell us in Your Word that You can keep us in a state of perfect personal peace if we meet Your conditions for that state of peace. Because I seek this peace in my life, give me the wisdom to worry about nothing, and the faith to pray about everything. May I receive from You the mental discipline to think about all the good things and the moral integrity to do all the right things.

May I always have that incurable optimism that believes in goodness, and give me such an insight into what You have been doing and what You are now doing in my life and in my world that I will give thanks always and in all things. May I never try to push You or run before You, but always wait on You, experiencing and expressing the gentleness and patience that are the evidence of Your Spirit living in me.

As I sort out my priorities, may I always value Your approval of who and what I am and what I do, and not walk before men to be seen of men or to please men. Never let me forget how near You are to me as I draw near to You, worshiping and enjoying You each day and forever.

And finally, Father, realizing that it is not who I am, but who You are that is important; acknowledging that it is not what I can do, but what You can do that really matters; agreeing that it should never be what I want, but always what You want; and remembering that in the final analysis it will not be what I did, but what You did that will have lasting eternal results, give me that absolute trust in You and total dependence on You that will truly rest my heart and my mind in Christ.

Enable me to meet these conditions for personal peace in the name of Jesus Christ, for my peace and for Your glory. Amen.

Dick Woodward, 03 July 2009


As Eagles

July 15, 2014

…they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

The exceptional longevity of an eagle means an eagle is seldom ill.  When it does get sick, however, it goes to the highest elevation it can find.  It lies on its back and looks directly into the sun.  For this purpose, the eagle has an extra pair of thick eyelids.  When the eagle closes these eyelids, it can look directly into the sun and not suffer any damage.  This sun treatment proves to be therapeutic and often restores the health of the eagle… So that we might look directly into the Son, God has given us the Holy Spirit.

When the ultimate illness comes to an eagle, it climbs to the highest possible elevation and looks into the sun for an entire day.  When the sun goes down that evening, the eagle dies.

Have you ever seen an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ die? The first time I intellectually believed the Gospel was when I watched my mother die.  She died as an eagle follower of Jesus, looking right into the Son. The godly pastor who was with us had seen scores of saints go home, but said he had never seen anything like what he saw that night.

At the age of 49, she left behind six daughters, five sons and a husband.  The last two hours of her life were spent with her family, but she was already in Heaven, talking to Jesus.  She often said she never had any peace.  We had a little house of about 1,300 square feet with 13 people living in it, so you can understand why she had precious little peace or quiet. In those last hours she kept saying, “Oh, this peace, this peace!”

I believed intellectually at her death, but I did not become a disciple of Jesus Christ for several years because I knew believing involved a commitment.  I knew this because my mother had said to me, “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, Dick, He is everything to you. Because, until Jesus Christ is everything to you, He isn’t really anything to you.” My life was changed forever because she lived and died as an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ.

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


Patience & Peace

June 17, 2014

“…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…” (Philippians 4:11-12)

Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights like Augustine, Thomas a Kempis and Francis of Assisi.  Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23.)

In our relationship with God, we might call patience “faith-waiting.”  In the Bible we are exhorted to “wait on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14.) It takes more faith to wait than most of the real life situations that challenge our walk with God. There are few spiritual disciplines that will focus our faith like those times when all we can do is wait on the Lord.  When we are praying for something and receiving no answer, God may be teaching us that there are times when faith waits.

In our relationships with people, patience could be called, “love-waiting.”  I had no idea how selfish I am until I got married. I had no idea how impatient I am until I became a father and found myself waiting for teenage children to grow up. The Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in my life: vertical patience by teaching me to have a faith that waits on Him; and horizontal patience by teaching me that in relationships, love waits…

We all eventually find ourselves facing circumstances which are beyond our control. Imagine Paul chained in that awful prison in Rome.  Would he find and maintain the peace of God if his formula for peace was to rattle his chains and ‘force it?’  Patience is the supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit that gives us the grace to accept the things we cannot control.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


A Panic Attack Prescription

March 18, 2012

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!  Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’”  (Psalm 3: 1, 2)

As David writes the Third Psalm he is facing the greatest crisis of his life.  His son has turned the entire nation against him and has driven him out of Jerusalem into the wilderness where he hid from King Saul when he was a young fugitive.  His situation is so desperate that many people said that even God could not help him.  But in this psalm David explains how he knows God will be there for him; he is not having a panic attack so he gives us a prescription for one.

Observe the way David uses three tenses as he lays out his prescription that kept him from panicking.  He recalls that in the past there were many times when he cried out to God and the Lord heard him.  When he lay down to sleep not knowing if the enemy would slit his throat while he was sleeping, he awoke alive because the Lord sustained him.  He then declared that he will not be afraid of the thousands of people who wanted to see him dead.  He then declares in the present tense that God is with him and His present blessing is upon him.

When you are in crisis think back to times in the past when God met you and brought you through a crisis.  Then let those past answered prayers inspire you to trust God for the present and the future crises in your life.

Look back.  With faith, look forward.  Then look around at your present circumstances, not with panic but with faith and peace.


Worrier or Warrior?

November 29, 2011

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you rest in Christ Jesus.”   (Philippians 4: 6, 7 NLT)

In these two verses the Apostle Paul is challenging us with two options: when we are facing challenging problems we can worry about them, or we can turn our challenging problems into prayer requests.  The reason Paul writes that we are not to worry is because worry is counterproductive.  He therefore prescribes that if we are overwhelmed with problems, we should let our mountain of problems turn us into prayer warriors.

So here we have two options.  We can be worriers, or we can be warriors. Prayer changes things!  Worry, on the other hand does not change anything except for the severe negative consequences it can have on our body, soul and spirit.  When we consider the devastating effects of worry and the miraculous results of answered prayer, that no brainer should resolve our two options into one.

When we realize we are anxious or uptight and we know it is because we are choosing to be a worrier, we should ask God to convert us into a prayer warrior.  We should hold our problems up before the Lord and trade our futile worries for powerful prayers.  He may deliver us from those problems or give us the grace to cope with them.  But, in either case, He will give us peace.

Paul writes that God will stand guard like a soldier over our hearts and minds and give us supernatural peace as they rest in what Christ will do.