GOD’S GRACE BE WITH YOU!!!

February 18, 2017

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”   (Romans 1:7; 16:24)

The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the believers in Rome with a marvelous greeting: “Grace to you.”  He then closes his letter with a prayer that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with them.

Paul dictated all his letters but one to a stenographer. At the close of each letter he took the writing instrument from the scribe and in his own hand wrote these words: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Paul greets and leaves believers with a wish and a prayer for grace, because grace is the dynamic of God that saves us. We can define grace if we turn this five-letter word into an acrostic to spell out:

God’s

Riches

At

Christ’s

Expense.

But grace is not only the way God saves us. The grace of God is the dynamic we desperately need to live for Christ.

In Romans 5:2, Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, into the grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ and live a life that glorifies God.

Paul begins this letter and closes all his letters the way he does because he knows it is absolutely critical that we access God’s grace to live our lives for Christ in this world.

Since grace is one of our greatest needs, consider meeting and leaving each other with a wish and a prayer for grace.

Dick Woodward, 24 February 2012


Temple Maintenance

January 25, 2017

“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal…”  I Kings 19:18

The great prophet Elijah reached the zenith of his career when he challenged the people of God to stop being spiritual schizophrenics. He asked them to decide if the Lord was God or if the false Baal was God. When that happened on Mount Carmel, they experienced a great revival and committed themselves to serving the true and living God. (I Kings 18)

The very next day we read these words about Elijah: “But he went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die.” (I Kings 19:12)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. The drastic changes we see in him between chapters 18 and 19 are due to many things, but one factor is that Elijah neglected what I call Temple Maintenance. When I was out jogging, I told my children if anyone called to tell them their father was doing temple maintenance. As a pastor that sounded like something official around the church. The Apostle Paul tells us that our bodies are the temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17) Therefore, anything we do to maintain our bodies could be described as temple maintenance. If we neglect our temple maintenance, it can have serious consequences for our health and ministry.

Observe in that dramatic victory Elijah won on Mount Carmel all the physical stress and effort he put out that day. He dug a deep ditch around that altar and filled it with water. Have you ever dug a deep ditch? …At the end of that long day, he ran in front of a chariot for 17 miles. Our hero must have been completely exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The physical dimension of our lives directly affects our mental, emotional and even spiritual perspectives. The word neurotic has been defined as ‘thoughts and feelings for which there is no basis in fact.’ Elijah obviously allowed his physical stresses to affect him mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We know all his blubbering about being the only true servant of the Lord was neurotic when God made him know there were 7,000 faithful servants like him, who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.147-151)

Editor’s Note: My father had bright blue and yellow jogging suits emblazoned with “Temple Maintenance” he wore in the 1970s running up and down the boardwalk in Va. Beach, VA. (My younger brother & I counted his ‘laps’ for him.)  After 30 subsequent years of quadriplegia, we can imagine him now running (or gliding?) around the streets of Heaven with new spiritual legs, engaging in a little celestial Temple Maintenance.


The Greatest Teaching Method

November 13, 2015

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

The Apostle Paul invested himself in a one on one relationship with a young man named Timothy.  He challenged Timothy to have that same kind of relationship with other men, who would then have that kind of relationship with other faithful men.

I had about seven years of classroom education for the ministry.  I also had a handful of older men who mentored me personally in a relationship like Paul had with Timothy.  A great pastor named Ray Stedman invested four hours every Thursday afternoon for a year with me in the Word of God.  He challenged me to do the same with others.

As I have considered the impact of Ray Stedman’s investment in me and my investment in others, I have come to the conclusion that this is the greatest teaching method in the world.

This method actually started for me when I was a small boy as I watched my father spend hours sitting in a rocking chair preparing his Sunday school lesson.  Every now and then he would exclaim, “Oh this is wonderful!”

I realized there is wonderful truth in the Bible.  When I was a late teenager I adopted that declared value of my father and have passed that value on to my son who is a pastor.  I am greatly blessed to have had a father and a mother who taught me the Scriptures in a one on one relationship like Paul had with Timothy.

If you are a Timothy, do you have a Paul? If you are a Paul, do you have a Timothy?

Dick Woodward, 08 December 2012

Editor’s Note: Women readers note that we are not off the hook – we should be challenged to do the same with younger/ older women in our faith communities! The daughters and sons of Dick Woodward would not be where we are today if it had not been for our precious Mama who prayed for us, taught us about Jesus, loved us with His love… and led by her example of faith.  Of course, it also helped that she & Papa ganged up together to get the Word of God into us (& us into the Word!) 


Daily Spiritual Vitamins

May 29, 2015

“…  As newborn babes, earnestly desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby…” (1 Peter 2:2)

If babies do not receive breast milk, or their formula, they will not survive.  Peter is writing that “spiritual babies” should very earnestly desire the pure milk of God’s Word that they may grow.  When he writes this he uses Greek words that mean they should go after the Word the way babies go after the nipple, knowing their sustenance and growth depend on the nourishment they are receiving at their mother’s breast.

In addition to the Word of God there are other spiritual vitamins that provide spiritual nutrition.  Whether we are new in the faith, or have been walking with God for many years, we need spiritual vitamins like prayer, worship, fellowship with other believers, and a relationship with the risen, living Christ.  We also need to find and cultivate the works of service for which we have been saved.

Although the Apostle Paul emphatically writes that we are not saved BY good works he also writes emphatically that we are saved FOR good works (Ephesians 2: 8-10).  Serving the Lord and bringing forth the fruit that lasts is a vitamin we critically need for the growth and development of our faith.  Jesus taught that God will start answering our prayers when we understand this (John 15:16).

Having visited both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea I observed the beauty of the Sea of Galilee which has an outlet, and the Dead Sea which has no outlet.  It is like that with us.  If we do not have the outlet of service, that makes us fruitful, we are stagnant and do not grow.

Are you getting your daily spiritual vitamins?

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2011


Garden Spots: the genesis of this blog

June 2, 2014

As some of you faithful readers know, Dick Woodward needed a bit of help posting this blog. He couldn’t move anything (not even to wipe his nose) so he did all of his writing through a voice-activated computer, often painstakingly spelling out each word.  He wrote thousands of pages this way: books, Bible-study guides, pamphlets & many treasured emails to friends, family & fellow Kingdom laborers around the globe including the Editor, (a.k.a. the “Blog Posting Elf.”)

Let’s take a time-out to meet this Editor/Elf:  Virginia Woodward, Dick’s daughter, who worked many years overseas before coming home to help him. During a serious health crisis right after my return we thought Papa only had 6 months to live, but that was eight years ago – thanks be to God for the gift of life!

As an ardent reader of daily devotional books I encouraged Papa to compile his own daily book of what he called “Garden Spots” – places in the Scripture to take spiritual pause, meditating in the garden of God’s eternal truths.  Five, almost six years ago we started this blog with help from M.K. Sizemore & others toward that goal: compiling 365 blog entries that could eventually be used in a daily “Garden Spots” devotional book.  Before Papa died in March, we had posted over 400 of his blogs.

It’s taken awhile for the Blog Posting Elf to flex grieving editing muscles again.  Every week I encouraged Papa to meet his blog deadlines – usually Tuesdays & Fridays.  He would write-speak his first draft in Microsoft Word, then send it to my email for review & editing.  We then sat together in front of his big computer screen to wordsmith the final version (often with spirited editing discussions) before the Elf cut & pasted it into a blog post. Those were precious times amidst his busy schedule of appointments and all that clamored for his attention.

Now, although my father is gone, his faith-filled example and words are still with us. Many words, painstakingly spoken-typed, in many places – printed in books and pamphlets through the ministry of ICM & the Mini-Bible College, on this blog, in emails – and his spoken words that remain in our hearts & memories (& also through ICM’s audio compilations.)  By continuing this blog, I pray that Papa’s “Garden Spots” will continue to get you, dear readers, into the Word of God and more of the Word of God into you.  He always said, “the whole Word for the whole world.” That begins with each one of us as we apply the Word of God in our daily lives.

“When the sun finally drops below the horizon in the early evening, evidence of its work remains for some time. The skies continue to glow for a full hour after its departure.  In the same way, when a good or a great person’s life comes to its final sunset, the skies of this world are illuminated until long after he is out of view. Such a person does not die from this world, for when he departs he leaves much of himself behind–and being dead, he still speaks.”      Henry Ward Beecher  (Streams in the Desert.)
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Let’s keep listening to my father, Dick Woodward, as we encounter his Garden Spots together each week on this blog.
.
grace, peace & spiritual Garden Spots
Virginia Woodward
(The Editor & Blog Posting Elf)

MBC Deuteronomy nuggets

April 25, 2014

Although it has been almost 7 weeks since Pastor Dick Woodward went to rest in the Everlasting Arms of God, his words continue to bless many people around the world through the ministry of the Mini Bible College. It’s exciting to learn that the MBC has been translated into 31 languages, with another 9 in production through ICM (International Cooperating Ministries.)  Thousands of small groups meet regularly in remote villages listening to the MBC on solar-activated audio-players – what Dick called “God-pods” – that are small like iPods, but loaded with big spiritual power that transforms lives.  The family has been overwhelmed by international responses like Pastor Samuel from the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) who said, “Rev. Dick Woodward will always be a blessing to our churches and pastors.”  As pastors and laypeople go through the MBC, they feel like he is their pastor.

Many of you reading this blog have gone through the MBC, perhaps some of you may have even attended the classes in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg  and Norfolk over 30 years ago.  If you did not have the chance then, today you’re in for a treat.  Here’s a video of an MBC lesson from Deuteronomy the Blog Posting Elf found on YouTube.  Lots of nuggets in this lesson that begins with one of Papa’s favorites, “God loves you, anyway…”  We still have the signs he spoke of (& yes, we did occasionally tiptoe by the second sign hoping the floor wouldn’t squeak by his door!)

grace, peace & still-applicable nuggets*

    The Blog Posting Elf

*Note: the video was taped over 30 years ago, but the truths therein still apply!

 


The Supreme Value

August 2, 2013

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me — that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said.”  (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4)

I have now shared with you six eternal values that are the hallmark of people who live life in Christ at its deepest level of meaning and then “graduate” into eternal life.  There is another value I must share with you because it is the supreme and absolute value, the “door” that must be opened if we are to find all these eternal values.  This seventh value is the value we place on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let me explain.

Suppose I asked you to write your answer to this question: “What is the Gospel?”  Imagine that I asked you to accompany your answer with Scripture verse references.   How would you answer my question?

As you search the Scriptures, you will discover the seventh eternal value:  Easter is far more important than Christmas.  When the Apostle John wrote his Gospel, he devoted approximately half his twenty-one chapters to the thirty-three years Jesus lived on earth and half his chapters to just the last week Jesus lived.  Of the eighty-nine combined chapters of the four Gospels, four chapters cover the birth and first thirty years Jesus lived, while twenty-seven chapters cover the last week Jesus lived.  Why is the last week of the life of Jesus so very important, and why is Easter far more important than Christmas?

Easter is when Jesus died and rose again for our salvation. The cry of the church all over the world on Resurrection Sunday is:

He is risen, indeed.