A Spiritual New Year’s Wish

December 27, 2019

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

There is an extremely equitable generosity expressed by God every year. God gives each one of us 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week, and 8,760 hours a year. The thought Moses expressed above is that we should cherish our 24 hour days and pray that we have wisdom about the way we live them.

There are many metaphors about life in the Bible. If you examine them, you will find they tell us life is brief as a smoke-like vapor. Life is uncertain like a thread that is about to be cut by a Seamstress, and we have no control over when that thread will be cut. Life is a transitory experience like a ship that fades out of sight as it passes beyond our horizon.  A life is like a tale that is told and forgotten by the time others have told their tales.

Life is like sleep when we wake up. Only the Bible would call life a sleep and death the waking up. The hard reality that we only have 70 or 80 years of life because we are all going to die should lead all of us to wear watches and cherish our days, one day at a time.

The last days and hours of an old year should therefore be a time of reflection, and the first days and hours of a new year should be a time of revelation and resolution.

In light of the Bible’s message, a spiritual wish for the New Year is:

“May you have a spiritually prosperous and fruitful New Year.”

Dick Woodward, 31 December 2010


#FAITH : God’s Strength in Our Weakness

October 25, 2019

“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10-12)

When I was 25 years old I attended a conference for pastors. Our speaker was a famous pastor who had snowy white hair. I felt sorry for him because he was so very old. As he started to speak his first words to us were: “I’m old. I’m gloriously old, but I wouldn’t be as young and ignorant as you are for anything in the world!”

I was feeling sorry for him because he was so old, while he was feeling sorry for me because I was so young.

In many cultures age is considered a plus because wisdom comes with age. Psalm 90 makes the statement we reach 80 years of age “by reason of strength.” I have had a debilitating disease since 1978. By God’s grace, I have found the strength which comes from the Lord and is exhibited in the showcase of my physical weakness.

I was born eighty years ago today (25 Oct), so these verses resonate with me in a personal way. Two of the ways Moses exhorts us to apply this psalm is to number and value our days to gain a heart of wisdom about how we should spend them.

He then concludes his psalm asking God to show us the work God wants us to do, so that God’s glory might appear to our children. His last words invite God to anoint the work God reveals to us.

Dick Woodward, 25 October 2010

Editor’s Note: October 25th is Dick Woodward’s birthday. The fact that he was 83 when he died as a bedfast quadriplegic in 2014 is miraculous. But everyone who knew Dick Woodward can probably still hear his voice saying, “I can’t, but God can… I didn’t but God did.” (In other words, even when Papa couldn’t do anything but nod his head, God did miraculous things in and through him.) After 28 years as a quadriplegic, today his spiritual legs are running along Heavenly pavements, basking in the everlasting love of Jesus.


#FAITH : An Attitude of Gratitude

October 22, 2019

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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)

In the last chapter of the letter to the Church at Philippi Paul gives them, and us, a prescription for peace. The peace of God is a state of personal peace in which God can keep us if we meet certain conditions. (Isaiah 26:3)

As I seek to maintain the peace of God I get the most mileage out of the prescription listed above. I have discovered that when I begin to thank God for all the good things in my life it is as if a switch is thrown and I find my mind automatically moving from the negative to the positive.

To use a metaphor, if I were to place all the bad stuff in my life on the left side of a scale – like a scale of justice – and all the good stuff on the right side of that scale, the right side will far outweigh the left side.

That’s what happens when I implement what I call, “The Therapy of Thanksgiving.”

An old hymn writer put it this way:

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed.

When you are discouraged thinking all is lost.

Count your many blessings, name them one by one

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

(Johnson Oatman, Jr.; 1856-1926)

That’s why Paul’s prescription is that when we pray, in everything (not for everything), we should pray thankful prayers. He promises that when we do so the peace of God will stand guard over our hearts and minds.

Dick Woodward, 22 October 2010


Walking By #FAITH

October 18, 2019

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9)

“A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way? (Proverbs 20:24)

When God spoke through the prophet Isaiah God told us there is as much difference between the way God thinks and does things and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth. Building on that revelation the wisest man who ever lived proposed a logical question: if God is directing the steps of a person how can that person always expect to understand the way they are going?

As a God-passionate person, doing your best to follow the guidance of the Lord, have you ever found yourself completely baffled and blown away by inexplicable happenings like the sudden death of a loved one or other tragedies? When we put the two Scriptures quoted above side by side we should expect there to be times when we simply do not understand what God is up to.

Moses explained that what he called the “secret things” belong to the Lord but the things God wants us to do God has made very clear. (Deuteronomy 29:29) That means there are secret things God is keeping secret, so nobody can explain them.

These verses considered together are telling us that while we walk with God we should not expect to understand everything. If we understood everything we would eliminate the need for faith.

We walk by faith.

Dick Woodward, 19 October 2010


#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