#FAITH: Reality Contact

November 1, 2019

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)

A long time ago I lunched every week with a friend on Mondays. I’d always ask him, “How are you, Skip?”

“Great, wonderful, marvelous and tremendous!” he’d answer. Always!

On many Mondays I’d not had a good weekend and life was not great, wonderful, marvelous and tremendous for me. But this guy was always emphatically optimistic. After this pattern continued for some time, one Monday I asked him, “Tell me something. If everything wasn’t great, wonderful, marvelous and tremendous, how would you answer my question?”

“Oh, I’d probably lie to you,” he responded.

I then decided to rephrase my question. I asked, “How are you, really, Skip?” He worked with a group of people who emphasized memorizing a Scripture verse of the week. “Frankly, if you really want to know,” he said, “My verse of the week is, ‘Hang it on your beak, freak!’”

We then had some honest conversation, what I call “Reality Contact.”

What James had in mind is that if we are honest with each other we will be burdened to pray for each other. As a result of mutual prayers for one another we will be healed. If when we meet together we are not honest, we will not pray for each other and the mutual healing will not happen.

One translation reads that our honest prayers will explode with power!

We should have this kind of relationship with a believer we trust, but we are missing something important if we do not have “Reality Contact” with someone.

Do you have that kind of relationship with anyone?

Dick Woodward, 01 November 2011


#FAITH : IN THE MORNING

September 6, 2019

“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”  (Psalm 5:3)

In one sentence in this beautiful psalm David twice emphasizes the reality that he will pray to God in the morning. There are three directions of life we must master.  We must learn to look up. We must learn to look in until God shows us things we need to know about ourselves. Only then are we prepared to look around in all our relationships.

Anytime we are having difficulty in our relationships with spouses, children, parents or others outside the home we should always ask ourselves if we have looked up and looked in sincerely. Knowing ourselves as God wants us to know ourselves is crucial preparation for relating to others.

Smart people are often right and so they sometimes think they are always right. It is very difficult to live with those who think they are always right.  In the same way it is difficult to relate to those who think they never sin. When God helps us look in and see ourselves as God sees us it gives us a humility that is a tool we need to face our relationships.

What would you think of a concert violinist who plays a beautiful concerto solo and then instead of an encore comes out and tunes her violin?  In the same way we should not play the concert of our day and then tune the instrument of our lives.

We should begin ‘in the morning’ tuning our lives through our prayers to God as the Psalmist directs us, so that we can look up, look in and then look around.

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2013


Heart to Heart Communication

July 12, 2019

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you… As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)

To paraphrase this passage, Paul is suggesting that each of us has a communication “flap” on our heart. In our relationships we should be face-to-face and heart-to-heart with our communication flaps open. The hard reality is that we are often back-to-back with our communication flaps down and tightly closed.

Paul’s solution is that someone must say, “I am heart-to-heart with you, and my communication flap is open. Be heart-to-heart with me and open your communication flap.”

We face communication challenges every day in our family, places of work, and interactions with people. When there is a communication problem it is important to realize that someone has to initiate a solution by saying, in spirit and in principle, “I am heart-to-heart with you, and my communication flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

You may be totally amazed at how taking that stance can melt the obstacles between you and the person with whom you are having a challenging relationship. This can be a communication circuit breaker that restores communication in a relationship.

Bacteria multiply in the dark but cannot live in the light. If we do not have good communication in a relationship misunderstandings multiply like bacteria, but when communication is restored it’s like we have turned the light on in our relationship.

Most bacteria will die and we can address what’s left in the light of our restored communication.

Dick Woodward, 12 July 2012


#FAITH: HOPE & (ENDURING) LOVE

May 17, 2019

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

We read in the book of Hebrews: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The inspired author of the great faith chapter claims that the object of faith is unseen, and faith gives substance to our hope that the object of our faith exists.

In other words, faith puts a foundation under our hope.

When faith cannot place a foundation under our hope for the ones we love, all we can do is hope for them. According to the love hymn of Paul (I Corinthians 13) the one applying the love of Christ will hope for them.

Love joyfully awaits for the fulfillment of what it prayerfully desires, imagines, dreams and hopes concerning the potential of the ones we love.

When Paul writes, “Love endures all things,” he means love perseveres while it awaits the fulfillment of what it hopes and believes to see in the lives of the ones being loved. The Greek word translated as ‘endurance’ is ‘hupomone.” It is a combination of two Greek words, ‘to abide’ and ‘under,’ whatever is required to love someone.

This is especially important when we love a person who is not responding to our loving, positive reinforcement. This quality of loving perseverance equips believers to love and pray for loved ones in their addictions to alcohol, chemical substances, pornography, gambling, eating disorders and the seemingly endless list of compulsive habits.

These ‘chains’ of the evil one can only be broken with supernatural assistance from God, often using, as conduits, those who love with the love of Christ that hopes, believes, and endures all things.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


LOVE!! – Indestructible & Inspirational – LOVE!!

March 15, 2019

“Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:8)

Human love is often based on performance. When we apply the love of Christ, our love is not based on the performance of those we love. That is what makes this love indestructible.

The love of Jesus Christ is a tough, indestructible love because it is unconditional.

In wedding ceremonies, many couples make the unconditional vow: “…for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death us do part.” The living Christ, empowering the love Paul prescribes in 1 Corinthians 13, is the dynamic that makes that possible.

We can also make the application that these ways of love are often irresistible, because they are inspirational. Peter, ultimately, could not resist the positive reinforcement of Jesus calling him a rock. I personally could not resist when my mentors prayed, imagined, dreamed, hoped and believed in my ultimate potential.

If you ask Christ to make your life a conduit of His love to your spouse, children, and those who are difficult to love – you will often make the joyful discovery that ultimately they will find the love of Christ to be irresistible and inspirational. They will begin to believe what you pray, imagine, dream, hope and believe about and for them.

For 28 years, I have experienced the gradual, but relentless onset of paralysis, which has reduced me to a helpless, bedfast quadriplegic. During that time I have learned much about the love of Christ from my wife, who is the most selfless, others-centered person I have ever known. In all these years she has never taken a day, weekend or vacation from her care of me. There are very few people in this world who know as well as I what it means to be the recipient of the unconditional and indestructible love of Christ.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Enduring Love: Sanctified Unselfishness

January 29, 2019

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own…”  (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so. The Greek word for kindness means love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.

Love does not envy.” The Greek words Paul used here prescribe “an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.”

In other words: sanctified unselfishness.

Those applying this love are not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness. Their love commitment is not, ‘I love me and I need you” or “You love me and so do I.” They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness; my love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.”

Think of how critically this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident, or illness.

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness. Therefore, the greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness.

This love virtue of unselfishness is repeated for emphasis and listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore in our hearts that as conduits of the love of Christ:

Love does not seek its own (way.)” 

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Open Hearts: Open Communication

October 13, 2018

“We have spoken freely to you Corinthians and opened wide our hearts to you… As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)

Life so often comes down to relationships, and relationships are all about communication. The Apostle Paul profiled that reality when he wrote to the church in Corinth.  He also prescribed a solution.  As a summary paraphrase of this passage, Paul is suggesting that each of us has a communication “flap” on our hearts.  As married couples we should be face to face and heart to heart with our communication flaps open. The hard reality is that we are often back to back with our communication flaps closed tight.

The solution Paul models here is that someone must take the initiative and say: “I am heart to heart with you and my flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

Communication in relationships is a challenge we face every day in our families, work lives, and interactions with people. It’s so important to realize that someone has to initiate a solution by saying, in spirit and in principle, to the person with whom they are having a communication conflict: “I am heart to heart with you and my communication flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

You may be amazed at how taking this stance can melt obstacles between you and a difficult person. Throughout any given day we face relational challenges that can be turned around through constructive and loving communication.

Are you mature enough to let God use you to initiate the solution Paul modeled for us by opening up your heart?

Dick Woodward, 14 October 2011