Faith in Time of Crisis

June 14, 2016

“So do not throw away your faith; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised… For he that is righteous shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)

As the author of the book of Hebrews continues giving doubting disciples reasons why they should not throw away their faith, he says they should keep the faith because they need faith for living.  Authentic disciples know they are saved by faith, but the disciples to whom he was writing had forgotten that they are also called to live by faith.

He quotes the key verse of Habakkuk’s prophecy written to suffering people.  When we are suffering we need reminders that God has given us the faith to persevere and do the will of God in our crisis – until we receive what God has given us, the faith to believe will ultimately happen according to His promises.

I have observed a direct correlation between spiritual growth and suffering.  The Greek word translated “persevere” in these verses is a quality God grows in those who are living by faith while they are suffering, according to the Apostle Paul (Romans 5: 3-5).  Other authors of the New Testament agree with Paul.

The immediate response of many authentic disciples when they find themselves in a difficult situation is: “Lord, get me out of here!” When that doesn’t happen they are sometimes tempted to throw away their faith.  The message conveyed by these verses is “Don’t throw away your faith.  You need your faith to live through your crisis.”

Is this a message you need to hear today?

Dick Woodward, 03 December 2010


Spiritual Commitment: Level of Decision

June 8, 2016

“… the Lord will not be with you!” (Numbers 14:43)

When pilots are landing a large commercial jet they reach a point where they must commit to their landing.  They call that point of no return the LD – the “level of decision.”

God is very patient and full of mercy and grace.  However, Numbers Chapter 14 tells us there is an LD in our journeys of faith.  There is a point where we either do, or do not, commit to doing the will of God.

God will lean on us like an elephant to get us to see and do His will. He reaches a point, however, where He will let us have it our way.  When God lets us do our own thing we suffer great loss.  For starters, we forfeit the present purpose of our salvation.  We all know we are not saved by good works but we can lose the opportunity to do the works for which God has saved us (Ephesians 2:10).

When the Israelites chose not to do the will of God, Moses said: “The Lord will not be with you!”  Perhaps the saddest word in the Hebrew Old Testament is the word “Ichabod” that means “the glory has departed” and teaches that God sometimes withdraws anointing power from His people.

There is such a thing as the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for your life and mine (Romans 12:1, 2).  The book of Numbers solemnly presents two options: after being delivered from our “Egypt” we can go around in circles for 40 years, or we can commit to doing the will of God.

Are you making a wise commitment in your spiritual LD?

Dick Woodward, 06 December 2013


Making a Difference

January 22, 2013

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you… for your fellowship in the gospel…” (Philippians 1: 3, 5)

As Paul begins this letter he uses a beautiful word when he writes: “… your fellowship in the gospel.”  The basic meaning of the word is partnership, but Sam Shoemaker paraphrased it as: “two fellows in the same ship.”

I met with a man who was on the threshold of coming to faith.  He had many, many problems.  So, I said to him, “There is a word you’re going to be learning soon: “fellowship.” It means “two fellows in the same ship.”  I want you to know, Charlie, I am in the ship with you!” As he took a long drag on his cigarette, with tears in his eyes he blew smoke in my face and said, “Well row, *bleep* it!”

Charlie was saying to me that he did not fully understand this new word but he wanted to know what difference it was going to make.  Was I just going to take up room, or rock the boat or was I going to grab an oar and row?

I often said to others what I said to Charlie.  But Charlie added to my paraphrase of this word.  After Charlie, when I said those words I found myself asking, “What would it look like if I got in this person’s ship with them and rowed?”

When Jesus got in Peter’s little ship He surely made a difference.  He filled Peter’s ship and his partner’s ship with fish (Luke 5: 1-11).

What difference does it make to others when you get in their ship with them?  Think of the difference it could make because you are bringing Christ with you into their ship.


A Prescription on Perspective

August 8, 2012

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.” (Matthew 6:22, 23 NLT)

Perspective means “to look through” to the end.  I learned a helpful spiritual discipline on my faith journey when I asked God to give me His perspective of the long view and the forward look.  I now find it helpful to look up and ask God to give me His perspective as I take the long view back at the events of my life.  I believe it does wonders for our perspective when we regularly shake ourselves out of our introspective pity parties, look up, and ask for God’s long view perspective of our life in both directions.

Robertson McQuilken, a spiritual leader I deeply respect teaches: “It is easier to move to a consistent and problem-free extreme than to remain at the center of tension on any biblical issue, but the truth is often found at the center.”

In an interview Rick Warren was asked how he felt about his wife’s cancer.  He reflected that he once thought life was a series of mountaintops and valleys, but he has now decided life is like a railroad track.  The left rail represents this hard reality: there is always something bad in our life because God is more interested in our character than He is in our comfort.  The right rail represents this blessing: there is always something good in our life because God is good and He does love us.

I have found that when we’re hurting we can often find truth at the center between these two rails of reality.