When Are You Going To Get Some Faith?

August 29, 2017

When evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” … And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-40)

I have not posted a blog for quite some time because I had a medical crisis that put me in the hospital, followed by a limited ability to work on my computer for eight weeks. This experience has reminded me of this Gospel account of a fierce storm that was turned into a great calm by a profound question asked by Jesus.

The disciples clearly believed they were all going to drown, including Jesus. The question Jesus asked was essentially: “When are you going to get some faith?” In other words, “Do you think that all I have told you about My kingdom and your part in it is going to drown at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee?”

Jesus promises to take us to the other side. When fierce storms break into our lives they will not invalidate what Jesus is doing in and through us if we will let this profound question turn our storms into a great calm.

Dick Woodward, 07 June 2012

Editor’s Note: Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Texas, especially Houston, as horrendous flooding continues.

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door. And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore. Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you, If Heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do…”  (Albert Edward Brumley)


God’s Comfort in Our Suffering

July 14, 2017

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort.  For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, J. B. Phillips)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way that we make this discovery: God is there and God can comfort us.

There is a supernatural quality of comfort that can be found in knowing God. God does not want us to go through life and never discover that God is there for us and will comfort us. When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can possibly experience in this life.

Many of us have known people we loved who are depressed and oppressed. They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want any of the caring people in their lives to be with them.

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in a self-imposed solitary confinement. If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this great discovery: God is there, and God can comfort you!

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort.  Comfort me in my pain. When I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are there, You are real, and You can comfort me.  I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


What is God Doing in Your Life?

July 5, 2017

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do£?” (Psalm 11:3)

Greek is a very precise language; Hebrew is not. That’s why we frequently find footnotes suggesting alternate readings in the margins of our Bibles when we read Old Testament Scripture passages. The NIV translation of Psalm 11:3 has such a footnote. The alternate reading suggested for this verse is: When the foundations of your life are breaking up, “What is the righteous One doing?”

Over the years I experienced several periods when it seemed that the foundations of my life were breaking up. I have found the alternate reading of this verse to be a reliable response that turned many of those crises into significant spiritual datelines in my journey of faith.

My faith walk began in 1949. Along the way I dropped two words out of my vocabulary: fortunately and coincidentally. Because I believe in Divine Providence, I no longer believe in luck. I fully agree with the spiritual heavyweight who stated, “when a devout believer thinks they have experienced a coincidence, that just means God prefers to remain anonymous.”

The Chinese characters for “crisis” are the characters for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity.’  I believe we should factor into all our crises this knee jerk response: “What is the righteous One doing in my life now?” I find that God is always up to something and ultimately it is always something very good. It is not primarily for our good but it is what accomplishes God’s good for God’s glory.

Dick Woodward, 02 July 2010


8th Condition for Peace: Be Patient!

May 30, 2017

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)

Paul includes patience as part of his prescription for peace. Throughout the history of the church, patience has been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights like Augustine, Thomas à Kempis and Francis of Assisi. Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit profiled in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Throughout the Bible we are continuously exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) In our relationship with God we might call patience faith-waiting. Nothing will test and grow our faith like waiting on the Lord. When we are praying for something and receiving no answer, God may be teaching us that there are times when faith waits.

In our relationships with people, patience can be called love-waiting. I had no idea how selfish I am until I got married. I had no idea how impatient I am until I became a father waiting for teenage children to grow up. I find the Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in us: vertical patience, by teaching us to have a faith that waits on God, and horizontal patience, by teaching us that in relationships, love waits.  Love is the primary virtue through which the Holy Spirit wants to express the life of God through us.

While impatience is a peace thief, vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit that give us the grace to accept the things we cannot control. Patience is the virtue God plants and grows in our lives while teaching us to wait on God and trust God to do what only God can do about those things we cannot control.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Who will show us something good?

April 28, 2017

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 4:5)

In this Psalm King David has insomnia because he is doing the expedient thing rather than what is right. He’s doing this because if he does the right thing he cannot see how he can possibly survive. Since he is a man of deep spiritual integrity this keeps him awake all night. In the middle of the night, he resolves in his heart that he is going to make whatever sacrifices he must make to do what is right and then trust the Lord for his survival. This decision changes his emotional anxiety and insomnia to peace and peaceful sleep.

His motivation is the many people asking: “Who will show us something good?” In other words, these people are looking for someone who will do what is right even if it costs everything they have to do right.

Psalm 4 begins with a prayer that is addressed to the God Who relieves us when we are in distress. If you want to know what distress is just drop the first two letters of the word and you know that this Psalm is all about being relieved from our (di)-stress.

If you are a spiritually oriented person and you’re not doing what is right because you cannot see how you can survive if you do, are you willing to resolve making whatever sacrifices you must to do what is right – and then trust God for the outcome?

Dick Woodward, 23 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


Overcoming Prejudice: God’s Agape Love At Work

February 23, 2017

“…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 for telling it on himself? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks 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 and while I was in the city of 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 sizes, shapes and forms. Is the work of God in this world 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?

When you experience 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?” 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

 

Editor’s Note: There will be a brief hiatus the next few weeks here @ The Four Spiritual Secrets while the Blog Posting Elf travels (minus her computer.) Blessings to all!