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)


FINDING PEACE IN CHRIST JESUS

July 16, 2021

The peace of God…will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, 12-13)

According to Paul, to attain and maintain the peace of God we must rest in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? What does it mean to be in Christ? Describing the relationship we have with the risen Christ, the authors of the New Testament say it’s to be “in Christ.”  Paul uses this description ninety-seven times in his writings.

According to Jesus, the expression means that we are in union with Him, as a branch is in union with a vine. If we are involved in the work of Jesus, then all day long we are going to be faced with the impossible – things we cannot do – because it’s His work. We can only be vehicles through which Jesus does His work. 

If we think it all depends on us, we lose our peace, big time!

Perhaps the greatest “peace thief” devout disciples of Jesus experience is doing the work of Christ in our own strength. What I call “Four Spiritual Secrets” is the solution to that problem. These Four Secrets are my way of expressing what it means to “rest in Christ Jesus.”

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.
I can’t, but He can.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.
I don’t want to, but He wants to.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

Dick Woodward, 01 July 2009


A PRAYER FOR GOD’S PEACE

July 2, 2021

Heavenly Father, You tell us in Your Word that You can keep us in a state of perfect peace if we meet Your conditions for that state of peace. Because I seek Your 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 integrity to do 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 others to be seen by them or to please them. 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, Heavenly 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 Jesus.

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

Dick Woodward, 3 July 2009


#FAITH: Unity, Diversity & Community

June 25, 2021

“For in fact the body is not one member but many.”  (1 Corinthians 12:14)

The greatest Scripture in the New Testament about the way a church should function is chapter 12 of First Corinthians. After the Apostle Paul uses the words diversity and oneness several times, he brings these two opposite concepts together in his inspired metaphor that the Church is to function as a body.

Paul writes that it is not either/or but both/and. Diversity should be celebrated rather than resolved. As diverse members of the body of Christ come together to have a ministry there are “let it happen people,” “make it happen people,” “don’t know what’s happening people,” and “don’t know anything is supposed to be happening people.”

Let it happen people desperately need make it happen people. And the other two kinds of people obviously need these first two kinds of people. The truth is they all need each other to function as a team, a body and a Church.

There are Mary and Martha kinds of people and they both need each other. Often, Marthas do not appreciate Marys because they think they are unorganized. But Marys need Marthas and Marthas need to realize that if it were not for the Marys there would not be anything to organize.

Are you fitting in with those kinds of people who have what you do not have and sharing with them what you have that they do not have?

When we experience unity while celebrating diversity we do not have uniformity but a supernatural community that is in reality the body of our risen and living Jesus Christ.

Dick Woodward, 25 June 2013


God Comforts Us (in times of suffering!)

June 1, 2021

“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, J. B. Phillips)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way we make this discovery: God is there and God can comfort us. 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.

As a pastor I have frequently heard people say that God met them in a supernatural and intimate way while they were going through a medical crisis.Two weeks ago a man for whom I’ve been praying for twenty years wrote from another part of the country to say he has come to faith. God gave him that absolute assurance while he was undergoing a critical life-threatening surgery.

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

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in a self-imposed solitary confinement. If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this discovery: God is there, 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, and when I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are there, You are real, and You can comfort me. I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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


#FAITH – PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

March 5, 2021

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

It is easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? Paul does not leave us in a vacuum here. He goes on to prescribe: “Pray about everything!”

Psalm 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” An alternate reading states that God is “abundantly available for help in tight places.” As a result of our prayers, God can deliver us from tight places.

Someone once said, “When it is hardest to pray, pray the hardest!” Paul was delivered from many tight places. He knew from personal experience, however, that God does not always take our problems away. Paul had a physical “thorn in the flesh” he asked God three times to take away. 

Paul saw many people healed as he ministered with the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, when he asked God to solve his health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.” Instead God essentially said, “I’m going to give you the grace to cope.”  (II Corinthians 12)

When God gave Paul grace to cope, he discovered the power of Christ was upon him in a mighty way. Paul learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul later shares his weakness became a showcase in which the strength of God was exhibited.

Paul learned that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or it may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.  Always pray about everything.

Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.” 

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace


#FAITH – Doing the Right Thing

March 2, 2021

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’”  (Psalm 4:5)

David cannot sleep. He is uptight and anxious. From the context of the psalm we know he cannot sleep because he is under great stress. He decides to meditate within his own heart and be still.

David has a “board meeting” with himself in the middle of the night. If he does the right thing, he believes he cannot survive. He is therefore thinking about doing the expedient thing. Since he is a man of great spiritual integrity he finds himself awake and uptight considering the expedient path.

As a result of his meditation he resolves his dilemma. David decides he is going to make whatever sacrifices he needs to make to do what is right – and then trust the Lord for his survival. He knows there are many people who are looking for someone who will do what is right even though it costs them everything to do right.

Have you ever found yourself awake, uptight and stressed in the middle of the night because you are in a crisis? If you do what you believe God wants you to do you don’t see how you can survive. But your spiritual integrity won’t let you sleep if you don’t do the right thing. 

David models a prescription for resolving that kind of dilemma.

His prescription is simply to do right. Whatever it costs you, do right and trust God for the consequences. Many people will be blessed, God will be glorified, you will have peace and be able to sleep.

Dick Woodward, 02 March 2012


God’s Strength in Our Weakness

February 26, 2021

“When I am weak then I am strong…” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In these eight words the Apostle Paul gives us a formula for strength. When we are having a serious operation, instead of counting to 10 as the anesthesiologist administers the medicine that knocks us out, I suggest we say these eight words. 

While most of us like to be in control, after experiencing the full effects of anesthesia we give up control. But, as believers when we give up control, we find ourselves underneath the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27) 

This makes us stronger than we have ever been.

Paul, quoting Isaiah, writes the key to spiritual strength: God gives strength to the weary and power to the weak. One translation reads that God’s strength looks good on weak people. The key to spiritual strength is therefore not found in our strength but in our weakness. These eight words therefore form the formula for our strength. 

They will give you great spiritual strength in your time of absolute weakness. Discover with the Apostle Paul that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, not in trying to make ourselves strong. We find our greatest strength in the Everlasting Arms that are there underneath us.

Prove what Isaiah and Paul teach us.The everlasting arms give us more strength than we have ever known as healthy active people. The next time you experience weakness on any level of life remember to pray these eight words:“When I am weak then I am strong.”

You will soon find yourself saying, “I’m not but He is; I can’t, but He can;” and then, “I didn’t but He did” when you let God perfect His strength in your weakness.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2014


Adversity vs. Atrophy

October 16, 2020

“… Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…”  (Psalm 4:1)

Just about every emotional challenge we experience today was faced by the psalmist many years ago. If we observe what he did when he struggled, and receive from God the grace to respond as the hymn writer responded, we can often overcome our emotional challenges.

In Psalm 4 the psalmist faces the emotional challenge of distress. If you drop the first two letters, the word becomes stress. We all have stress. If we do not have stress we atrophy. I have not put stress on my legs for 30 years. Consequently, my legs are the size of your arms. “If you don’t use it you lose it” is the way physical therapists describe atrophy.

Our loving Father God knows that what is true for our bodies is also true in our spiritual lives. God is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually. If we have no spiritual stress we will experience spiritual atrophy. God therefore will not only permit, but direct into our lives stress that will grow us as God gives us the grace to cope with that stress.

Many of us trust God for the good things that comfort and sustain us. But do we have the faith and the knowledge of God to seek God in the challenges that make the difference for us between spiritual growth and atrophy?

The Greek compound word hupomone, translated as “perseverance” in our English Bibles, literally means “to abide under.”  To apply hupomone, we should ask God for the grace to abide under stress, grow spiritually, and not atrophy.

Dick Woodward, 15 October 2013