"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.

What Makes You Restless?

In our bedroom, there is a crate next to the bed for Maggie, our golden retriever. Maggie will spend time on our bed as we read before turning out the lights. Through coaxing (bribery?) with a treat, we will put her in her crate and turn out the lights for the night.

In the middle of last night, I rolled over to find Maggie sitting up in her crate and staring at me. I tried to ignore the stare, but that didn’t work. Maggie was watching to see if I was awake, and I imagine she was hoping to catch my attention.

After a good half hour of trying to ignore the puppy eyes through the wires of the crate, I finally gave in. I opened the crate door, and Maggie quickly bound out of it and back onto our bed. She immediately laid down between us. As I petted her, I could feel that she was shivering, uneasy. But, within a couple of minutes, she had calmed down and did not budge the rest of the night.

There is a famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5) in which Saint Augustine states “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

The words of today’s psalm are words of one whose heart is restless, seeking rest in God.

What is it that keeps you up at night? What makes you restless? Where do you turn to find that peace that only God can give?

Prayer is that place we can go to lay before God our fears, our concerns, our worries.

In the promises of God to never let us go, may we find solace and peace. Like a safe space snuggled up next to one who cares for us, may we find that place in God’s embrace of grace.

 

Let us pray:

Almighty God, there are things that keep us up at night. There are things that we wish we could stay in bed and ignore or avoid. You know these, because you know us. You know me. May we remember that the one who knows us better than anyone else is the one who loves us more than anyone else can. Thank you for your love and embrace. May our hearts rest in you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Psalm 86:1-10

 

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,

    for I am poor and needy.

Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you;

    save your servant who trusts in you.

You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord,

    for to you do I cry all day long.

Gladden the soul of your servant,

    for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

    abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;

    listen to my cry of supplication.

In the day of my trouble I call on you,

    for you will answer me.

 

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,

    nor are there any works like yours.

All the nations you have made shall come

    and bow down before you, O Lord,

    and shall glorify your name.

10 For you are great and do wondrous things;

    you alone are God.
 


Salvation. Saved. What does that mean?

Salvation. Saved. What does that mean?

I don’t know about you, but those words can make me a little uneasy. Being asked the question, “Are you saved?” What does it mean to be saved? 

Salvation is a gift from God. God gives us the gift, simply because God loves us! Let me give you a modern-day parable, which happens to be a true story, to explain how we got to where we are today.  
 

On Thanksgiving Day about eleven years ago, my family and I headed from Ohio up to Michigan to visit family for the holiday. We took two cars to transport two dogs and four Woodwards. My daughter, Bethany, had just adopted a new dog named Schroeder from the pound about a week-and-a-half before the holiday.

We stopped at the rest area just south of Bowling Green along I-75. Before getting back into the car, my son, Andrew was walking Schroeder, and he dropped Schroeder’s leash so Schroeder could wander over to Bethany. Instead, Schroeder started to wander away. 

Bethany said, “Andrew.” Andrew said, “It’s all good,” as he started after the dog. Schroeder took off like a flash – and the chase began! The more we called him and the faster we ran, the faster he ran in the other direction. He started heading for I-75 – not a good way to start Thanksgiving Day! It is strange the things that go through your mind when something like this happens. My first thought (forgive me, Lord) was, “We just bought Christmas presents with that dog’s name on it.”

Bethany was in tears, I was feeling out of shape, and Andrew led the chase. LUCKILY, Schroeder headed for a gully under the freeway, where a small creek passed below the road. I saw Schroeder head under that bridge, followed by Andrew, and a few minutes later, I made it there, too. I looked under the bridge and down toward the creek. There I saw Andrew, his leg bleeding from a scraped knee, with Schroeder in his arms – both of them soaking wet, muddy and cold. Schroeder had gone down into the creek, and when he did that, Andrew dove after the leash. He was out of the ditch, back to safety, with those who love him.

  • Thank God for a Son who is in shape. 
  • Thank God that the dog went under the road.
  • Thank God that Schroeder was and IS back in safe keeping. In the end, as Andrew said, it was all good!

2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 

 

Chosen for Salvation

13 But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 17 comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

Request for Prayer

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
 
 

In the beginning God created, and when done, he said, “It’s all good.” God gave us some freedom. God let go of the leash, so to speak, and we started running away from God in a different direction. God called; we just ran faster. We fell away from God. We became a broken people, thinking we have no need for God, thank you very much. We wandered into places that only lead to trouble and despair, and death. When we reached the swamp, the pits, the end, we wondered, “Where is God?” 

God did not give up on us, but rather sent His only Son. God sent His Son not to scold and chastise and send us away. Instead, God sent His Son to come into our brokenness, to stoop down into the mess we find ourselves. He comes as one of us and seeks us out, finds us, and carries us home. And, God will stop at NOTHING to bring us back to God. Even giving his Son to die for our sins, and to rise to lead us into eternal life!

NOW, PLEASE, do not go home and tell your loved ones that Pastor Charlie thinks his son is the Son of God, NO! 

The message is this – God sent His only Son to save us. And God will stop at nothing to bring us back to Him. God acts. God forgives. God loves. God sent his only Son to die for our sins, so that our sins may be put to death, and we can live the life we were created to live – created to love and worship God, created to love and serve our neighbor. 

 

We are saved so we can live as God created us.

 

P.S. – Schroeder is still with us…

 

Let us pray:

Forgive us when we turn away, or even when we run away. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ. In Christ alone, we are saved. Welcome us home. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.