The Lord is My Shepherd… BUT?

August 10, 2018

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” (Psalm 23:1)

These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible beloved by devout people everywhere. According to this psalm of David, the key to the real blessing of this life and the next is a relationship with God. The green pastures, still waters, table of provision, God’s blessing of anointing oil and cup that runs over all the time are all conditioned on our relationship with God as our Good Shepherd.

The spirit in which we recall these words, however, is often something like this: “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I have a health problem.” Or, “the Lord is my Shepherd — but I have marriage problems!” Or, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I cannot control my children.”

When we say “The Lord is my Shepherd — but,” we are putting our “but” in the wrong place. We need to get our “but” in the right place and recall the precious promise of these words this way: “I have a health problem, but THE LORD is my Shepherd! I have marriage problems, but THE LORD is my Shepherd! I cannot control my children, but THE LORD is my Shepherd!”

One way the Lord makes us lie down is to use health problems, marriage problems, problems with our children, finances, careers, and other kinds of challenges to teach us about the relationship with God which is key to all the blessings profiled in Psalm 23.

Will you let the Great Shepherd use whatever challenges you are facing to establish the deeper relationship with God David described so beautifully three thousand years ago?

Dick Woodward, 14 August 2008


The Vine Looking For Branches

July 31, 2018

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”  (John 15:5)

The apostles had been in awe of the profound words and miraculous works of Jesus. In their last retreat, Jesus essentially said that the key to His preaching, teaching, and supernatural ministry is that He and the Father are one.  The Word and work of our Heavenly Father was spoken and accomplished on earth through Jesus because He is one with the Father.  Jesus taught the disciples that after His death and resurrection, if they would be at one with Him His Word would be spoken and His work would be done on earth through them.

While the disciples were in a garden, Jesus pulled down a vine which had many branches loaded with fruit and said: “I am the Vine and you are the branches.”  In this metaphor the fruit does not grow on the vine. The fruit grows out on the branches because they are properly aligned with the Vine.

The branches can bear no fruit without the Vine and the Vine can bear no fruit without the branches. If the Vine, Jesus, wants to see fruit produced, He must pass His life-giving power through the branches, the apostles and now us.

By this inspired metaphor, Jesus was actually teaching two propositions: “Without Me, you can do nothing” and “Without you, I will do nothing.”

It is the plan of God to use the power of God in the people of God to accomplish the purposes of God according to the plan of God.  Jesus is a Vine looking for branches.

Are you one of His branches?

Dick Woodward, 31 July 2012


Watching & Listening (by Faith)

July 24, 2018

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds’ feet, he makes me tread upon my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

The Old Testament and New Testament history of the people of God has identified an undeniable reality: good and evil exist side by side. The names and faces of good and evil keep changing, but good and evil have always had a presence in this world. Although forces of evil have tried for thousands of years to destroy the people of God, God’s people still have a presence in this world, by faith.

The devotional application of Habakkuk’s prophesy is that we should build spiritual watchtowers today. When facing overwhelming problems, especially Job-like tragedies that nobody understands, watch and listen in your spiritual watchtower. While watching and listening, Habakkuk wants you to know God welcomes your questions.

While everyone else was looking and listening for the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, Habakkuk watched and listened for God. If we watch and listen for God today the way Habakkuk did, we will discover God is still speaking through men and women of faith.

When Habakkuk looked at his problems and circumstances, he sighed and despaired. When Habakkuk turned to God with his doubts and asked God questions, watching and listening for God’s answers, Habakkuk sang.

When you are overwhelmed with Babylon and Job-type challenges, go up in your spiritual watchtower so that you might:

  • Watch until you see God working in your life.
  • Listen until you hear God working in your life.
  • See, hear, and worship God Who is working in your life.

Like Habakkuk, ask God your questions. In God’s time and God’s own way, God will answer your questions – if you are listening!

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook (p.630-632)


When It’s Time for a Change

July 20, 2018

“I have brought you out that I might lead you in…”
(Deuteronomy 6:23)

There are times when God wants to do a new thing in our lives. To do this new thing God faces three challenges. God has to get us out of the old place and that is not easy because we love the security of where we are. God therefore has to blast us out of the old place. That can happen in many ways. We could be fired, or we may just know in our knower that it is time to make a change. The call of God is often made up of a pull from the front and a boot from the rear.

The second challenge God faces is to keep us going to pull us through the transition time between the old place and the new place where God is leading us. Transition times can be difficult! Deuteronomy 6:23 describes the way God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to bring them into the Promised Land. Their transition time involved crossing a desert, which should have taken a few weeks. They went around in circles for forty years!

They circled that desert because they did not have the faith to invade the land of Canaan. When God wants to do a new thing in our lives do we go around in circles because we do not have the faith to enter into the new place to which God is leading us?

The third challenge God faces is that God has to make us right so God can settle us into the new place. One translation of 2 Corinthians 6:1 reads that we are ‘co-operaters’ with God. When we realize something of what God is trying to do in our lives it would help us (& God) if we would give God a little more cooperation.

Dick Woodward, 24 July 2009


Prejudice vs. Faithfulness & Love

July 13, 2018

“…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. What does the fact that Jonah wrote this story, which makes him look foolish, tell us about his values and motivations? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth might look 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 and 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.”  Prejudice comes in many shapes and forms. Is the work of God 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 or social status?

Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment? Experiencing God’s call are you joining Jonah by saying, “I will not?”  When are you going to let the love and power of the Spirit of Christ cut through all your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?” Remember, 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


Wrapped in Bundles of Life with God

June 22, 2018

“Wrapped in a bundle of life with God…” (I Samuel 25:29)

“These words of Scripture are often found inscribed on gravestones of children who died at a very early age, especially in Jewish cemeteries where Jewish mothers expressed the almost inexpressible feelings of their hearts as they laid their children to rest. As Christians we could also inscribe these words on the gravestones of our children and loved ones because they bring great comfort and consolation as we think of those we have lost through sickness and death.” (Dick Woodward)

On Monday morning, 22 June 2015, Dick Woodward’s precious wife, Ginny, went to rest in the Everlasting Arms of God with all five of her children gathered around her bedside singing “Amazing Grace.” We are grateful to God for the gift of her life and the amazing grace of Jesus that fills the legacy of love and faith she leaves behind.

Partnering with Papa in ministry and life during their 58-year marriage, in the last 25 years when he said “we” would do something, he truly meant it. As he became a wheel-chair bound quadriplegic and subsequently a bedfast quadriplegic, Mama literally served as his hands and feet (and much more besides.)

Steadfast faithfulness describes our precious Mama. We thank God our Heavenly Father for His faithfulness to her, her faithfulness to God, to us, and to our Papa – a witness not only to our family and the Tidewater/ Williamsburg community, but around the world where the Mini-Bible College continues to yield Kingdom fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We pray that the seeds of faith and love she planted, watered with her deep, deep love of Jesus, will continue to bloom and grow for many years to come.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end…”

The Blog Posting Elf, (24 June 2015)

Dick & Ginny Woodward, “wrapped in bundles of life with God.”


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.)