Spiritual Fitness: Godly Exercise(s)

August 22, 2017

“Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for…the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  (1Timothy 4:7-8)

As a young man, Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he most likely would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable; but, Paul declared that godly fitness was more profitable. Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our lives here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal lives.

I am intrigued with this question: what is godly exercise? The word “godly” means “like God.”  What is God- like?  We are told in the Word that God is a Spirit (John 4:24.) To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.

We also read in the Scripture that God is love. To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to the love that is God. At the heart of the love chapter (1Corinthians 13), Paul passes the love of God through the prism of his Holy Spirit inspired intellect and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Pursue intentionally what the 15 virtues are and what they will look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light.  Exercise yourself in this dimension of God likeness by filling your mind, heart and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that light will benefit you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013


Mercy & Love, Salt & Light

April 7, 2017

“Blessed are the merciful …  Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matthew5:7&8)

Jesus begins His greatest discourse with a “check up from the neck up.” He teaches eight attitudes that can make us salt and light, and one of His solutions to what is wrong with this crazy world. These eight attitudes come in pairs. The third pair is to be merciful with a pure heart.

One scholar writes that these blessed attitudes are like climbing a mountain. The first pair takes us halfway up the mountain and the second pair takes us to the top of the mountain. The third pair takes us half way down the other side of the mountain.

The profound simplicity of Jesus is asking the question: “When we are filled with righteousness that takes us to the top of the mountain what kind of people are we? Are we Bible experts who throw the book at people?” No! True disciples are filled with mercy (which is unconditional love.) As we love in this way we are pure in heart.

To be pure in heart is only understood when we research the Greek word used here for pure. It is the word from which we get our word to be catheterized. This means that as we are merciful we have a catharsis through which everything that is not the unconditional love of Christ is removed from our hearts.

If you want to be one of the solutions of Jesus in this world, hunger and thirst for what is right and you will find that love is right and right is love. Being a conduit of the love and mercy of Jesus will make you His salt and light.

Dick Woodward, 13 April 2010


How Do You See Things?

March 14, 2017

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6: 22-23)

Someone has said that 5% of people think, 10% think they think, while 85% would rather die than think…. and the 10% who think they’re thinking are merely rearranging their prejudices!  In the teaching of Jesus from Matthew 6, He tells us that the way we think can be the difference between a life filled with light and a life filled with darkness, depression and unhappiness. In this teaching, He is focusing a great question: “How do you see things?”

In this profound metaphor, Jesus is challenging us to join the 5% who think, and He is emphatically teaching the critical importance of thinking correctly. When Jesus refers to the eye He means our outlook and our mindset. In that sense, He is saying that if our eyes are good and healthy our lives can be filled with joy, but if our outlooks and mindsets are unhealthy our lives can be filled with the opposite.

The context in which Jesus shares this metaphor is the great discourse He gave to His disciples. The most sound and healthy truths for living in this world are found in what we call The Sermon on the Mount which is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7.

The best way to have a spiritually healthy mindset is to align what we think with the values Jesus taught and modeled in this great discourse and in His other teachings.

Dick Woodward, 17 September 2010


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.


Whatever It Takes!!

August 23, 2016

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

We have now finished the Summer Olympics in London and here in America our version of football began last week.  One of our American football teams has a slogan posted in conspicuous places around their training center.  It is simply these three words: “Whatever It Takes!”  The meaning: every member of the team pledges, “I will do whatever it takes to win!”

In the verses quoted above Paul is referring to the way Olympic athletes from his time trained and disciplined their bodies.  They sacrificed whatever it took in discipline and preparation with one goal in mind: to win.

While they did this to win a prize that does not last we should train and discipline ourselves that we might win a prize that is eternal.  As we run the race of our ministry we should have a strategy and a race plan.  When we fight the good fight of faith we should have a fight plan.  While we observe the way athletes train and do whatever it takes to win we should do whatever it takes to win the real race and fight the real fight.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to win the race and fight the fight of faith today?

Dick Woodward, 09 September 2012


Godly Fitness

October 18, 2013

“Exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for…the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  (1Timothy 4:7, 8)

As a young man Timothy was probably very interested in physical fitness.  If he lived in our culture he would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly.  Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable.  But, he declared that godly fitness was more profitable.  Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our life here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal life.

How real and practical is our faith in the life to come?  I am intrigued with this question: what is godly exercise?  The word “godly” means “like God.”  What is God- like?  We are told in the Word that God is a Spirit (John 4:24.)  To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.

We also read in the Scripture that God is love.  To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to a study of the love that is God.  At the heart of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), Paul passes the love of God through the prism of his Holy Spirit inspired intellect and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues.  Pursue intentionally what the 15 virtues are and what they will look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light.  Exercise yourself in this dimension of God likeness by filling your mind and heart and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word.  Walking in that light will profit you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?