#FAITH: Dying Grace, Acceptance & Peace

September 13, 2019

“Delight yourselves in the Lord. Yes, find your joy in Him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don’t worry over anything whatever, but tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer. And the peace of God which transcends human understanding will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:4-7, J.B. Phillips)

When I was ill with an operation on my colon, my pastor and mentor, Dr. John Dunlap, came to visit me. I had an infection. I was in the hospital 21 days just for that procedure. I said to him, “John, if you’re here to tell me I have a malignancy, I can’t handle that today.”

He laughed and said, “Reverend, you’re not dying. And so you don’t need dying grace. If you needed dying grace, God would give you dying grace.”

A year later my dear pastor John had a malignancy. He said to me right away (I was there the day he found out), “Pray for me.” He was a big guy, but a big baby when it came to toothaches or anything like that. He had one of the worst malignancies the oncologist had ever seen, but all of us, we never saw such an example of dying grace as God gave our dear pastor.

God will give you dying grace when you need it. And dying grace, really, is a supernatural anointing of the Lord that makes it possible for us to accept it. That’s what it is, really. Acceptance. That’s what Paul means by gentleness.

It’s like saying in another way, “Be patient.”  Patience, when you think vertically, is faith waiting. There are many times in our walk with God where God gives us patience, which is faith waiting. God’s got to get you out before God can bring you in.  You’ve got to keep on going, so you can get through. You’ve got to get right, so you can settle down.

“Never forget the nearness of the Lord.”

Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen Retreat, 1979)


#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)


#FAITH: A Great Storm

September 3, 2019

“And a great windstorm arose… but He said to them, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’…and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:35-40)

If you read the story recorded in the verses referenced above you will see that Jesus directed the apostles to get into their boat and cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. On this sea crossing a great storm fell upon them.

The disciples woke Jesus with the question, “Don’t you even care that we (including Him) are all going to drown?” After turning the great storm into a great calm Jesus asked them the great question, “How is it that you have no faith?”

Jesus had been teaching them that He was the King of the Kingdom of God and they were subjects in that Kingdom. Did they really think all of this was going to come to an end at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee? One translation renders His question “Do you not even yet believe in me?” Another puts it “When are you going to get some faith?”

Before we are too hard on the apostles, let’s apply the essential truth of this story personally. Jesus has promised us that He will take us to the other side of this life to the next dimension called heaven. While we are on that journey if a great storm falls upon us, do we believe that storm declares all His promises to be null and void?

Or do we have a quality of faith that can turn a great storm into a great calm?

This story teaches us that storms in our life are a classroom in which God wants to strengthen, grow and authenticate our faith.

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2011


#FAITH: Attitude Adjustments

August 23, 2019

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”

The way we see things can be the difference between a life filled with light and happiness, and a life filled with darkness, unhappiness and depression. Jesus and the entire Word of God consistently challenge our mindsets and show us how we should see things.

Have you as a believer ever found yourself in a funk and realized that you needed to have an attitude adjustment? I certainly have. I have learned there are times when an attitude adjustment can pull me out of what I label a “pit fit.”  Sometimes we need to make attitude adjustments to get out of our pit fits.

There are other times when the best defense is a good offense. That is especially true when it comes to attitudes. Instead of erecting a strong defense of attitude adjustments, the better part of wisdom is to put in place a strong offense of God ordained positive attitudes that will lift us above the devastating effects of “stinkin thinkin.”

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught us that if we want to be part of His solution, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we must begin by having eight attitude adjustments. In your Bible turn to Chapter Five of the Gospel of Matthew and study closely what we call the eight blessed attitudes – the beatitudes of Jesus.

When you understand and apply them they will make your life the light of the world!

Dick Woodward, 25 August 2011


#FAITH: Doing God’s Work (Now!)

August 16, 2019

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. The night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4)

The Gospel of John gives us another window into the way Jesus felt about the works God wanted Him to do. According to this vision statement of Jesus He knew the reality that He had less than three years to do those works.

In 1956 the famous missionary Jim Elliot and his four colleagues were speared to death by the tribal people they were trying to reach with the Gospel. Jim was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. About four years before he died, he wrote in his journal, “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

We can’t understand how God decides the day of our deaths. We don’t know when our own finish line will come. But we should all live in such a way that when we come to the finish line of our lives there will be no unfinished business, no works our Heavenly Father assigned to us that we’ve left undone.

Do you have the magnificent obsession of Jesus to work the works God has assigned to you while it is day not knowing when the night is coming and you cannot work anymore?

Can you accept the challenge of being like Jesus in your attitude toward the works God wants you to do?

Dick Woodward, 18 August 2009


A Prayer for the Valleys

July 19, 2019

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” (Psalm 23:4-5)

In your dark valleys, learn to pray in this manner:

“As I enter this valley, Lord, I will not be paralyzed by fear, because I believe You are with me. Your ability to protect me and lead me through this valley is a comfort to me. I know that in the darkest and scariest part of this valley, in the middle of all the life threatening danger, You will spread a table of provision for me.

I am trusting You completely to anoint me with the oil of Your individualized, personalized and attentive care. I believe You will give me mercy for my failures and the grace I need to help me in my time of need. You will also pursue me with Your goodness, unconditional love and acceptance, when I wander away from Your loving care.”

Finally, thank your Good Shepherd-God that you can trust God to lead you through this life to unbroken fellowship forever in Heaven: to the green pastures that never turn brown, the still waters that never become disturbed, and the cup that never empties.

Offer this prayer to “the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead that great Shepherd of sheep, Who through the blood of the everlasting covenant, can make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


A Prayer for Comfort

June 11, 2019

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort. For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way that we make this great discovery:

God is here and God can comfort us.

There is supernatural quality of comfort that can be found in simply knowing God. When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can experience in this lifetime.

Many of us have known people we love very much who are depressed and oppressed. They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want any of the caring people in their lives to be with them.

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in self-imposed solitary confinement.

If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this discovery: God is here, and God can comfort you.

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort. 

Comfort me in my pain.

When I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are here, You are real, and You can comfort me. 

I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer