A Prescription for Peace: Rest in Christ Jesus

September 14, 2018

“The peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:7)

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? It means we are so in union with Christ, as a branch is in union with a vine, that we draw from Him all the life-giving spiritual power we need for everything we do for Him, with Him and through Him, as we rest in Him.

It means resting in the power of Jesus to do the things He calls us to do, all day long.

As a bedfast quadriplegic & pastor, my way of expressing this is the Four Spiritual Secrets:

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.

So much anxiety comes from thinking we must do the work of Christ in our own strength. If we are doing God’s will, we are often going to face things we cannot do on our own, but, as vehicles through which Christ does His work, can be done.

Overwhelming physical and emotional problems that are crushing the life out of us – terminal or chronic illness, difficult relationships and the challenges of everyday living – will only be manageable when we realize that facing them is not a matter of who and what we are, or what we can or cannot do. They are simply an opportunity to prove and demonstrate Who and what Jesus is and what He can do.

We must acknowledge that we can’t but Jesus can, as we rest our hearts and minds in Christ and in what only He can do.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


A Great Storm & A Great Calm

August 21, 2018

“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 this story recorded in the Gospel of Mark (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 apostles woke Jesus with the question: “Don’t you care that we are all going to drown?” After turning the great storm into a great calm He asked them a great question:

“How is it that you have no faith?”

Jesus had been teaching them that He is the King of the Kingdom of God and they are 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 great 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 that He will take us from this side of life to the next dimension called heaven. While we are on this 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?

Like the apostles, are we willing to let Jesus turn the storms in our lives into classrooms in which God can strengthen, grow and authenticate our faith?

Dick Woodward, 20 August 2010

Editor’s Note: The blog posting elf didn’t catch it until yesterday, but August 14th marked 10 years in the blogosphere for this 4 Spiritual Secrets blog. Many thanks (again) to M.K. Sizemore for setting up the graphics and helping the elf initially figure out WordPress. Dick Woodward (the elf’s bedfast quadriplegic papa) painstakingly wrote over 400 blog posts using voice-activated software before he passed in 2014. We had a grand time editing each post with emails back & forth, then sitting together in front of Papa’s big computer screen with final changes before the elf posted them online for all to read. He is now resting in the Everlasting Arms of God’s love, but his words of wisdom & faith remain to help us find calm amidst our (at times stormy) life journeys. 


Patience, Patience, Patience!!

August 14, 2018

“…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 à 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 faith to wait when life situations 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 was until I got married. I had no idea how impatient I was 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 that 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?

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


Heavenly Father Focus (on Father’s Day!)

June 15, 2018

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we simply do not know what to do. The Scripture from Chronicles is taken from an historical context when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and did not know what to do.

James later wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back, but will provide truckloads of wisdom for us.

Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me that she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital they had discovered mononucleosis and infected abscessed tonsils that needed to be removed.  She concluded her organ recital litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my very intelligent young daughter believed that if she could just share her litany of woes and tap the vast resources of my wisdom, I could tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.

According to James that is the way we make our Heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. That’s why a good way to begin some days is:

“Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on YOU!”

Dick Woodward, 04 April 2013

Editors Note: Blessings to all the fathers out there as we celebrate Father’s Day in America this weekend. As that ‘young daughter’ who continued tapping into her Papa’s wisdom until the day he died, these words comforted my heart. Our Heavenly Father is always here when we don’t know what to do (& when our earthly fathers have passed into His Everlasting Arms of Love.)


God’s Peace & Patience: Love Waiting

June 8, 2018

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)

Paul prescribes patience as part of his prescription for peace. Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights. Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit we find listed in the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

When the Holy Spirit lives in us, one way the Spirit manifests in us is through a supernatural quality of patience.

In the Bible we are continuously exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” In our relationship with God we might call patience “faith waiting.” Nothing will test or grow our faith like waiting. When we think God is not responding to our prayers it may be that what God is doing in us while we are waiting – like growing in us the virtue of patience – is more important than what we’re waiting for.

In our relationships with people, patience could be called “love waiting.” I have found that the Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in us: He wants to grow “vertical patience” by teaching us to have a faith that waits. And He is growing “horizontal patience” by teaching us that in relationships, love waits.

Love is the first and primary virtue through which the Holy Spirit wants to manifest God’s presence and peace in us.

While impatience is a peace thief, vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural, God-given virtues that can produce spiritual heavyweights – and maintain the peace of God in our experience of life.

Dick Woodward, 09 June 2009


Pursuing Perfect Peace

May 18, 2018

“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 keep us, continuously. 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.) While suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died peacefully because they had this 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 obviously 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)


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