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


A Message for Control Freaks (& all of us!)

February 20, 2018

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” (Philippians 4:6)

Have you ever heard someone confess, “I’m a control freak?” My response to that confession is: “Welcome to the human family!” The truth is sometimes we’re all control freaks. Both Jesus and Paul taught that we should not be anxious. That means don’t worry. They both taught us not to worry about the things we cannot control – like the height of our body or the lives of other people.

Speaking as one control freak to another, the thing that really freaks us out is what we cannot control. In what Alcoholics Anonymous call the “Big Book,” there is an illustration with which all of us control freaks can resonate. We think that life is a stage on which we are directing a play. The people in our lives are characters in that play. As play director we give them their scripts and their cues, but when they don’t respond to our direction, our frustration drives us into a bottle or some other addiction.

When I was a college student I had a mentor who wrote a poem with these lines:

You can’t control the weather or rainy days, but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you. You can’t control the height your head will be from the sidewalk, but you can control the height of the contents of your head.”

After quite a few of those lines his punch line was:

Why worry about the things you cannot control? Accept the responsibility for the things that depend on you.”

Follow the advice of Jesus and Paul and don’t worry about what you can’t control. “…but in everything by prayer and supplication…let your requests be made known to God…”

Dick Woodward, 20 February 2011


Temples of God (on Wheels!)

January 30, 2018

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…?” (1Corinthians 6:19)

In the Old Testament believers had the Tent of Worship which was followed by the Temple of Solomon where they worshiped the true and living God. However, in the New Testament there is a revolutionary concept that is not fully understood and appreciated by the people of God today: the body of a believer is the Temple of God.

Understanding the Gospel of the New Testament we realize two vital truths: there is something to believe and Someone to receive. We are informed that the risen, living Christ is patiently standing at the doors of our lives, knocking on those doors. We’re promised that if we hear His voice and open our doors, He will come into our lives and have a relationship with us. (Revelation 3:19-20) In First Corinthians, chapter 6, the Apostle Paul tells us when we experience that miracle our body becomes a Temple of God.

This presents a great challenge to all believers who have received the living Christ into their lives in the form of the Holy Spirit. Wherever we go we take that temple with us. We might say that we are “A Temple on Wheels.”  Everywhere we go and every time we find ourselves encountering others, the beautiful reality that we are Temples of God should bring a divine presence to all those relationships.

How should the reality that we are Temples of God impact all of our relationships?

Dick Woodward, 31 January 2012


Relational Two-Way Streets

January 26, 2018

“For if I make you sorrowful then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2Corinthians 2:2)

In this verse the Apostle Paul is telling us that relationships are two-way streets. Whatever we send down each relationship street comes back up that street. (Galatians 1:15-20)

Jesus taught this same truth when He used a marketplace metaphor. In the marketplaces Jesus encountered, if a vendor bought produce from you and you suspected his bushel measurement was inaccurate, you could ask him to go get his bushel measurement to use when you sold your produce to him. Jesus taught in this way that whatever measure we use in giving to people, they will use that same standard in giving back to us. (Matthew 7:1-5)

By application, Paul and Jesus are teaching us that if we make people unhappy in our marriages and families we will find ourselves living with unhappy people made unhappy by us. I knew a wise pastor who did a lot of marriage counseling. He wrote a little poem that had this line in it: “You can’t control the weather or rainy days, but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you.”

If you are surrounded with unhappy people because you make them unhappy, consider how much better it would be if you made those same people happy. Another wise pastor said that with Jesus the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.

The bottom line is do we want to be surrounded by happy or unhappy people? What are we sending down the two-way streets of our relationships?

Dick Woodward, 27 January 2012


Sanctified Unselfish Love

January 16, 2018

“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)

I have heard people say, “I don’t get mad, I get even!” When God’s love is being expressed through us, we don’t get mad or even. 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.

Examining “love is kind,” this love refuses to play the game of getting even. The Greek word for kindness means ‘love is easy: easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.’ “Loves 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.

The one applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate, unconditional commitment to their happiness. They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and 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 an illness.

The key to the love that is not touchy is that the one loving is not demanding his or her way. The one who is a conduit of Christ’s love is others-centered, not self-centered.

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness.  The greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness. This love virtue of unselfishness is listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore in our hearts: “Love does not seek its own (way.)”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


PUT LOVE FIRST!

November 17, 2017

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.”  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

In the middle of the first century, the Apostle Paul declared that the agape love of God should be the number one priority of spiritual people. He wrote that love is greater than knowledge and more important than faith. His inspired words about love have been read, and should be read, in every generation of church history. That includes you and me.

Paul’s teaching about spiritual gifts in the previous chapter concludes with: “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I will show you a more excellent way.”  (ICor 12:31) Paul begins the next chapter with his prescription for that most excellent way: “Let love be your greatest aim,” or “Put love first.”

A PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence or in tongues without love, we’re just a lot of noise. If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as a prophet and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all these things, we are nothing. If we give all our money to feed the poor and our body to be burned at the stake as a martyr, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.

Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have, and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Forgiveness: 10 Critical Words

September 29, 2017

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12)

In the communication that flows between a husband and wife there are ten critical words that often must be spoken. These ten words have saved marriages and the lack of them has dissolved marriages.

The ten words are: “I was wrong.  I am sorry.  Will you forgive me?” And they critically need this ten-word response: “You were wrong. I was hurt. But I forgive you.”

Some people will never say the words: “I was wrong.” They will never say: “I am sorry.” And they certainly would never ask for forgiveness. They would rather live alone for the rest of their lives than say these ten critical words. It may be their pride prevents them or perhaps they are driven by the myth of their own perfection. But these words can make the difference between marriage and living alone.

It is hard to imagine an unforgiving authentic disciple of Jesus Christ when the Disciple’s Prayer instructs us to forgive as we have been forgiven or we invalidate our own forgiveness. (Matthew 6:8-15) According to most translations of the Disciple’s Prayer, we are actually asking our Lord to forgive us as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.

Can you say these ten critical words?

“I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?”

Dick Woodward, 25 September 2012

Editor’s Note: Singletons out there are not off the hook, as this teaching can also be applied to family and friendships – maintaining healthy relationships all around vs. being alone in ‘perfect’ aloneness.