Still Waters: God at Work

April 20, 2018

“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


A Prescription for a Panic Attack

March 16, 2018

“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 can not 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


Worriers or Warriors?

November 28, 2017

“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)

The Apostle Paul challenges us in these two verses with two options: when we face challenges we can worry about them, or we can turn our challenges 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 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’s a no-brainer that should resolve our two options into one.

When we realize we are anxious and uptight because 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 those problems, or give us the grace to cope with them.

But, in either case, God will give us peace.

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

Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011


Prayer for Peace

August 15, 2017

“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.”   Saint Francis of Assisi

Dick Woodward (email, 05 March 2005)

Editor’s Note: This was Dick Woodward’s favorite photo, used in all his books & booklets (ICMers will definitely remember how much he liked it!) Circa 1987, it was taken during the blog-posting-elf’s graduation from The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, when Papa was still getting out and about in his Amigo. Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Charlottesville, our state, and our country: where there is hatred, may we always sow the love of Jesus Christ.


A Prayer for the Peace of God

June 16, 2017

As a pastor I have known believers so ill or distraught they couldn’t concentrate enough to grasp Paul’s conditions for peace in booklet form, so I put them in a peace prayer. If you are seeking God’s peace, I invite you to pray this prayer with me.

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 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 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, 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, from A Prescription for Peace

Editor’s Note: This concludes excerpts from my Papa’s Peace booklet. The blog posting elf will now return to regularly random blog selections of his writings. May the peace of Jesus Christ be with you, now & forever!


12th Condition for Peace: Believe in God’s Goodness

June 13, 2017

“…if you believe in goodness…” (Philippians 4:8)

As a young social worker I visited an elderly couple who had spent 50 years as missionaries in China. They were in poor health and living in indigent welfare housing. As these dear white-haired saints (who were what I consider spiritual nobility), reflected on what they had to show for their time of sacrificial service, they were beginning to doubt the value of all the good they had done for Jesus.

I shared this part of Paul’s peace prescription with them. Paul teaches here that our good works are not always rewarded in this life, but all good works of believers will be rewarded in the eternal state. (ICorinthians 3:11-15)

Paul certainly could have identified with this couple who realized their ‘welcome home’ would be waiting in heaven. From the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul completely dedicated himself to the work of Jesus. What did that get him? Prison after prison, each one worse than the last; most were foul smelling dungeons. And yet, he writes that he experienced peace and joy.

When Paul writes, “If you believe in goodness…,” I am convinced he is focusing on the lifetime of goodness faithful servants have invested for the Lord.

Discouraged servants of God are tempted by the evil one to doubt the worth of good they have done. This part of Paul’s prescription addresses this peace thief. He would spare spiritual servants of Jesus the loss of peace we may suffer if we forget, that even though we may not be rewarded for faithful service in this life, our reward is waiting in the eternal state.

We are to value the approval of God in this life and be certain of His approval in the life to come.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


11th Condition for Peace: JOY!

June 9, 2017

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

“Pain and suffering are inevitable, misery is optional.” These are the words of Tim Hansel, a man who lived every day with excruciating pain. How can misery be optional for someone in agonizing pain? And why does Paul mention joy 17 times in the short letter he wrote from prison to his favorite church?

When we experience a relationship with the risen, living Christ there is a peace and joy that is not controlled by circumstances. The peace Paul prescribes doesn’t make sense because it “transcends human understanding.” According to Paul, the foundation of our peace is finding joy in Jesus Himself. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find peace and joy in Him at all times.

What is the foundation of your serenity and joy? If your foundation is relationships with loved ones, do you realize there is no relationship with people here in this life that cannot be removed? If it’s your health or athleticism, I can bear witness to the sad reality that is a fragile foundation. Many thousands of people who had a physical orientation around which their lives revolved before age, illness or injury destroyed them, will join me in warning you that health and physical abilities are fragile foundations for peace and joy.

Jesus commended Mary when she upset her sister Martha by sitting at His feet and listening to His Word rather than help with dinner preparations. With as much love for Martha as He had for Mary, Jesus said to Martha, “Mary has chosen the good part that will never be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

When Paul tells us to find our joy in the Lord, he is agreeing with what Jesus told Martha by directing us to build the foundations for our peace and joy in Jesus Christ.

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times!”

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace