A Prayer for Peace (in times of Crisis)

June 24, 2022

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

When I was in a very difficult situation, the prayer of Saint Francis had great meaning for me. I memorized it and prayed it every night for several months. I know you are very familiar with it but in case you don’t have a copy there, here it is:

 “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Dick Woodward (email, 2005)


Jonah: Let’s Go To Ninevah!

May 31, 2022

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this: “When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord.’ But God said to me, ‘I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’

I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go. I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’ The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’

When I went to Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me.” Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

…To be “prejudiced” means to “pre-judge.” Is God’s work through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth and social status? Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment? Are you joining Jonah saying, “I will not?”

When are you going to let the love and power of Christ cut through your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?”

It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

Dick Woodward, Jonah Coming & Going:True Confessions of a Prophet


Thinking about – The Peace of Christ!

May 24, 2022

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Someone once said: “Five percent of people think. Ten percent think they think, and eighty five percent would rather die than think. And the ten percent who think they’re thinking are just rearranging their prejudices.”

In his letter to the Philippians Paul challenges us to join the five percent and think. He also tells us specifically how to think. It’s as if our thoughts are sheep and we are the shepherd.

Paul challenges us to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good news. We naturally seem to think about things that are not true, dishonorable, unjust, impure, ugly, and bad news.

Paul’s prescription for peace agrees with the teaching of Jesus. Jesus taught us not to worry about the things we cannot control. He highly valued prayer in His own life and taught His disciples that we should always pray.

Jesus also taught that the difference between a life filled with light and a life filled with darkness is how we see things. His greatest discourse was eight attitudes that can make us one of His solutions in this world.

According to Paul, having and maintaining “the peace of God” is largely a matter of what we worry and think about all day.

What do you think about all day?

Dick Woodward, 26 May 2009


PERFECT PEACE: Christ in YOU!

May 13, 2022

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

The prophet Isaiah wrote of a state of perfect peace in which God can continuously keep us. He also wrote that this state of perfect peace is based on two important conditions: we must keep our minds centered on God, and we must trust God. This peace is supernatural because it’s a peace we can have even when circumstances of our lives are chaotic.

Jesus promised that He gives His followers peace the world will never understand because it comes from Him and is ours even in the middle of the storms of life. The early followers of Jesus Christ were persecuted (as many continue to be today.) Suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died peacefully because they had the peace of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul believed in this peace. In one chapter of one of his letters (Philippians 4) he listed twelve conditions on which this peace is based. In another letter Paul described this peace as the fruit of the reality that the Holy Spirit lives in authentic disciples of Jesus. (Galatians 5:22-23)

“Christ in you” is the foundation on which all conditions of this peace are built. (Colossians 1:27)  Looking at Paul’s twelve conditions for the peace of Christ, there is something to believe and Someone to receive when you become a follower of Jesus Christ.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

Dick Woodward, (15 May 2009)


The Good Shepherd & RESTORATION

May 10, 2022

“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 his 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


Still Waters: God at Work

April 26, 2022

“He leads me beside the still waters.”  (Psalm 23:2)

Most people associate the still waters of David’s Shepherd Psalm with peace. However, if you research sheep you will find when they drink from a stream of water that stream must be as still as a mirror or the water will go up their snouts. An authentic application of this still water metaphor means our great Shepherd leads us to places just suited for us.

In 1979 I resigned as pastor of a large church in a big city and accepted a call to a small church that had just begun in a small town. After being in the small church for a year I went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota due to the onset of debilitating symptoms. After nearly a month of studies, the doctor who directed my program misread my file. Thinking I was still in the large church, when he gave the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis he told me I needed to go to a small church in a small town. I told him that for a year I had already been in a small church in a small town. I was to learn to be fulfilled with doing less and doing it better.

As my symptoms persisted and confined me to a wheelchair, a group of friends helped build a house that accommodated my physical challenges. One made a beautiful stained glass window by the entrance with these two words: “Still Waters.” These words have not just been a label for my home the past 26 years but also my ministry – in this location by God’s grace I have accomplished my most fruitful work for the Kingdom, most as a bedfast quadriplegic.

“Still Waters” – can you write these two words across what God is doing in your life right now?

Dick Woodward, 20 April 2012


Don’t Panic!!

March 18, 2022

“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 this third Psalm he is facing the greatest crisis of his life. His son, Absalom, has turned the entire nation against him and has driven him out of Jerusalem into the wilderness where David hid from King Saul when he was a young fugitive. His situation is so desperate many people said even God cannot help him. But in this psalm David explains how he knows God is there for him; he is not having a panic attack, so he gives us this prescription to prevent us from having 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 slept, he awoke alive because the Lord sustained him. He then declared in the future tense that he will not be afraid of the thousands of people who want 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 a 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.

Dick Woodward, 18 March 2012


#FAITH: Worriers or Warriors?

November 30, 2021

 “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)

In these two verses the Apostle Paul is challenging us with two options: when we are facing problems we can worry about them, or we can turn our challenging problems into prayer requests. Paul writes that we are not to worry 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 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 should resolve these two options into one.

When we realize we are anxious and uptight and we are choosing to be worriers, we should ask God to convert us into prayer warriors. We should hold our problems up before the Lord and trade our futile worries for powerful prayers.  God may deliver us from our problems or give us the grace to cope with them.  

But, in either case, God 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.

Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011


 Building Faith on The Rock

October 12, 2021

“Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” (Matthew 7:26)

Jesus is clearly teaching that if we base our belief system on His teachings we will be able to weather the storms of this life. When a counselor is disputing the belief system of a depressed person, a favorite question is: “What are you telling yourself about the fact they you lost your job that has you so depressed?” That is the question you should ask yourself when you are experiencing emotional consequences.

The medical director of a large mental hospital for the entire state of Virginia told me the purpose of psychiatry is to find the unconscious explanation for the conscious behavior of people. He lamented the hard reality that so often today a psychiatrist is a pharmacologist who medicates the person’s depression without ever getting to the cause.

The word “psychiatry” means “the healing of the soul.” Was there ever a greater healer of the soul than Jesus?  I believe that the values and the teachings of Jesus give us a healthy belief system for living as we pass through this world.

However, it is critically important that we implement that belief system as we respond to the storms we encounter.  In this era we have gone bonkers over knowledge. According to Jesus, it is not the knowledge of His teaching but the application of that belief system that builds the house that survives the storms.

Dick Woodward, 12 October 2012


JOY! JOY! JOY! UNBREAKABLE JOY!

August 6, 2021

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”  Philippians 4:4

Misery is optional even though pain and suffering are inevitable. Those words were written by a man who lives with excruciating pain every day. How can misery be optional for someone in pain? How is it Paul mentions joy 17 times in a short letter he wrote from prison?

For those who experience and express the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who have a relationship with the risen, living Christ, there is a joy that is not controlled by circumstances.

The peace Paul experienced and prescribes for you and me can be called the peace that doesn’t make sense. It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) The joy of which Paul writes can be called the happiness that doesn’t make sense. This is true because this peace and joy are the fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us.

This peace and joy are not controlled by our circumstances. 

What is the foundation of that peace and joy? According to Paul, that foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find our joy in Him at all times.

What is the foundation of your serenity and joy?

When Paul writes his words about joy, he directs us here to a foundation for serenity and joy that is not fragile: “Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 188-190)