"Pastor Charlie Woodward", "Charlie Woodward"Pastor Charlie Woodward writes a daily devotion for the pandemic days until things are back to “normal,” whenever that may be. As the title states, we are in the wilderness alone, but we are still together. We may feel isolated and on our own. But we are in this together. I want to make sure we have an opportunity to stay connected. Each devotion will include a Bible verse, a brief reflection and prayer.  

Find a link to each day’s devotion below, or sign up here to receive the devotions to your inbox every morning. Choose the Devotions distribution list.

This is an opportunity for us to be present with each other in the days to come. You can be present by sharing your comments, insights, prayers and pictures in response to what Pastor Charlie shares in the coming days. For we are in this together. And where two or three are gathered in God’s name, God is present, too.

Millie’s Rolls, Freely Given

Proverbs 11:23-30

23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good;

    the expectation of the wicked in wrath.

24 Some give freely, yet grow all the richer;

    others withhold what is due, and only suffer want.

25 A generous person will be enriched,

    and one who gives water will get water.

26 The people curse those who hold back grain,

    but a blessing is on the head of those who sell it.

27 Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,

    but evil comes to the one who searches for it.

28 Those who trust in their riches will wither,

    but the righteous will flourish like green leaves.

29 Those who trouble their households will inherit wind,

    and the fool will be servant to the wise.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,

    but violence takes lives away.

Millie made the best cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls and dinner rolls ever. It was a gift that she freely gave. She was generous in her giving, and so many people benefited from it.

Millie came to Bible Study every week with rolls to share. One man said to her every week, “Millie, these are good – you almost got it perfect – so keep trying!” Another member of the study said he started drinking coffee, because it went so well with Millie’s rolls.

I remember one Bible Study, we discussed our most cherished or prized possessions – if your house were on fire, what would be the one thing you would grab as you ran out the house? Millie’s response: her cheesecloth she used for baking.

Every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, without fail, Millie would call to our house a few days before the holiday and ask if I would be home for a while. She said she was going to drop something off. It was always a pan of each of the rolls, and two dozen dinner rolls. My kids were so looking forward to Millie’s rolls that when the phone rang around the holidays, they would ask if it was Millie calling.

Millie had a gift. Millie shared her gift. She never complained about it, but took great joy in sharing.

This proverb reminded me of Millie. I miss Millie. I miss her rolls. I hope I can give freely to others the gifts God has given me.

I guess you could call Millie a “roll” model! 

Let us Pray: 

Thank you for the roll(sic) models in our lives. Thank you for Millie. Thank you for good things that are given and even better when shared. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Be Angry. But Do Not Sin.

Ephesians 4:17-5:2 

17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It had been a long day already: a baby at home making a fuss, my wife and me trying to navigate parenthood and finances, me a seminary student, Lisa a stay-at-home-mom. I left my wife and daughter at home in the seminary townhouse apartment across the street from the seminary and made my way to the library to meet classmates for a study session.

I was having a bad day. I don’t remember all the details, but I was mad, bitter, upset. If someone would have said to me, “Have a nice day!” I would have probably responded by saying, “I’ve made other plans!”

And so, I showed up for the study session. Our group met weekly to study for our Old Testament class. We took turns providing materials for the group, and another in the group took a turn at beginning the session with a Bible reading and a prayer.

I was late. As I sat down and pulled the books and Bible out of my bag, someone reminded me I was in charge of devotions for the group. In frustration, I threw down my book bag, dug out my bible, opened it up and read the first verse I saw.

It was Ephesians 4:26. I kept it short – “BE ANGRY, but do not sin!” Let us pray…

True story!

There’s a lot of good stuff in these verses above, but let me focus on verse 26.

Be Angry. It’s not a call to rebellion, but rather an invitation to be honest with who you are and what you feel! Be Angry, but do not sin!  Sometimes we get a bad rap as Christians – nice, quiet, pushovers – goody two-shoes! Right? But that is not always the case! We can get angry, or mad, or bitter, or – well there are several other words you could use.

The key here is to let those emotions happen, but do not sin! Sin is that which comes between us and God, that causes a chasm between you and others. We are called to love our neighbor AND love ourselves. It’s okay to get angry! But don’t let it get in the way of your relationship with God and others. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger – deal with it and move on!

It’s okay to be angry. No one can tell you how you feel. If you’re feeling it, it is alright. What you DO with it is your decision.

BE ANGRY. Be Happy. Be inquisitive. Be Loud. Be Quiet. BE WHAT GOD CREATED YOU TO BE! 

Let us Pray:  

Almighty God, there are days we are filled with joy and peace. There are days when we are bitter and angry. You know this. For whatever the emotion we experience, may we remember who we are and whose we are. For you are with us on the mountaintops and in the valleys, in the good days and the days that have made other plans. Surround us with your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.