Wednesday, May 25, 2011



“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”(1 Corinthians 9:16)

Perhaps you can almost immediately answer this question. You might even reply “doesn’t everyone know what the gospel is?” I am afraid it is not as simple as that. There are many who will say when telling you something they really want you to believe “That’s the gospel truth”. Sometimes they will tell you that, knowing that what they are saying isn’t true. The awful truth, which ought to grip every real Christian, is that most people have no real idea what the gospel is, even in the majority of our churches. How can I say that? Because they don’t live like it! I know that I am asking a lot of questions lately. I am endeavoring, in this writing, to not only ask questions, but to give answers. This is a day when we really need answers. You see, the question I am asking is most important.

Actually the Greek word for gospel is euaggelion (good news, good tidings) (1), and is related to the word for preach, most always concerning the good news of Christ. The most common Greek word for preach, or announce, is euangelizo (2). There is another similar Greek word euangelistes (evangelist) which is a preacher, or a good news bearer (3). So preach, gospel, and evangelist are all related words in Greek, and in English. They have to do with the good news of Christ’s sacrifice for sinners. As to the origin of the English word gospel, it is originally an Old English word gōd-spell, i.e., “God's spell” or “word of God”. According to others, it is “good spell”, as those that were converted were said to be under a spell (4). So we may say, with a little play on English and Greek words, that the gospel is the evangel which evangelicals and all evangelists must evangelize.

To preach anything else other than the good news of Jesus Christ, as so many are doing today, is not true Bible preaching. The true gospel is simple, yet profound. We who are converted can say “It is good news.” It is the best news! That is why the first four books of the New Testament are all called Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). They are a record of the good news. They are a record of Jesus Christ who is the personification of the gospel. He is the good news! In other words there is a sense that Christ is the gospel, and the gospel is Christ. The gospel of Mark, the one that most scholars consider the first written gospel record (57-62 A.D.), begins with this verse; “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1)

This gospel must be preached in power. Yes, it is the power of God unto salvation “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  The Greek word for power here is dunamis. We get our word dynamite from this word. It takes this power to save a sinner. It is the same power that created the universe; the same power that raised Lazarus from the tomb; the same power that raised Christ from the dead. The gospel is dynamite, preacher. Be careful how you handle it! First the Holy Spirit must quicken, or awaken, or make alive, the dead sinner so this power can work on him to the believing of the gospel (See Ephesians 2:1; 5; John 3:3)

It is true that the apostles (all of them), were following Christ’s final marching orders from Mark 16:15. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” They were commanded to do so, and so are we in successive ages. Also, in Matthew 28:19, 20 Jesus said “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” One proof that it still applies to all believers today, as well as to the apostles then, is the next to last clause. I here quote Matthew 28:20 in Young’s Literal Translation for more clarity. Teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you, and lo, I am with you all the days--till the full end of the age” (emphasis mine, cw). So the commands given to preach the gospel were for us all. Of course, ministers are to “feed the sheep” (those people who are already Christians), as well as preach to sinners (John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).

    There are several different emphases of the gospel, but there is only one gospel. Some prominent Bible teachers have a different take on that. C. I. Scofield taught that the gospel of the kingdom preached by Christ, and the everlasting gospel preached by angels in Revelation were different gospels than Paul and Peter preached. E.W. Bullinger taught that Paul’s gospel when he said my gospel was a different gospel altogether. He had just about every variation in wording as a different gospel altogether. I do not hesitate to say that this is “Ultra –Dispensationalism”. We are not given warrant in scripture to say these variants are different gospels. Rather we are warned by the apostle Paul in Galatians that there is not another gospel. He even pronounces a curse on anyone (even an angel) who would preach another gospel. So we had best be extremely careful, brothers and sisters, just what we buy into. Here are the words of Paul:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
“As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:6-12).

Let’s look at the verses a little.  The first New Testament mention of the gospel is probably Mark 1:1, as already stated. But, it is found (but not totally clarified) in the Old Testament, especially Isaiah. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7)  Again in Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (Isaiah 61:1, 2)

      The words “good tidings” in both these verses are the same as “gospel”. It is the Hebrew word basar.  In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) the word euaggelion is here used. These verses are prophetic verses. Our Lord quoted much of this statement in Isaiah when He announced the beginning of His ministry, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18, 19)

The most concise biblical definition of gospel is perhaps 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” So we can see here that the gospel is not only Christ, but in its full scope is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every aspect of God’s eternal purpose involves the gospel of Jesus Christ. This brings us to another important question.

      Have you ever considered this question? Most believe the gospel has been given only to save souls. That is certainly one of the reasons. God has designed to save His elect through the preaching of the gospel. The same thing we spoke of earlier in this message where the apostle Paul states “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
     Paul, John, Peter, James and the rest of the apostles were preaching to sinners, and urging them to be saved. Not only them, but all God-called preachers since that time have that objective. But, well taught Christians know that they cannot save a soul. Only God can! He must awaken the dead sinner enabling him/her to even hear the gospel! But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;” (Ephesians 2:4-5) As Jonah cried out in the Old Testament, when he was in the belly of the great fish, with no escape “Salvation is of the LORD.” (Jonah 2:9b)  Salvation is important, but is only one of the reasons for the gospel.
      Some seem to believe that the gospel was given to build the church. Well, in a sense it was. Perhaps not in the way you thought. God did not give the gospel to build a well-oiled machine that functions with live entertainment, and fun and games. Nor did He build a church to be a statistical success so that every week professions of faith are made, which often have no reality. Definitely not so some self-styled soul winner can brag about how many he has won to the Lord. You need to remember, I have said before that God doesn’t need our help, but we surely need His! Here is what Jesus said to Simon Peter regarding His church: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.  He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:13-18)

 Building Christ’s church is very important, and one of the reasons for the gospel, but it is not the   main “why”. What is? I believe the answer is found in Philippians 2:5-11  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The ultimate design of the gospel is to exalt Christ, and bring glory to the Father. This was God’s main design in all creation; for His own glory! He deserves it!

The Westminster Catechism has it right in the very first question: Q 1. What is the chief end of man? A. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31; and “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”(Revelation 4:11)
(1)     G2098 Strong’s on gospel, good news; εὐαγγέλιον; euaggelion (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on) from the same as G2097; a good message, that is, the gospel: - gospel.
(2)  G2097 Strong’s on preach, announce; εὐαγγελίζω; euaggelizō (yoo-ang-ghel-id'-zo)      from G2095 and G32; to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel: - declare,               bring (declare, show) glad (good) tidings, preach (the gospel).
(3)  G2099 Strong’s on evangelist, preacher; εὐαγγελιστής; euaggelistēs (yoo-ang-ghel-is-    tace') From G2097; a preacher of the gospel: - evangelist.

(4) Origin of GOSPEL (English word) Middle English, from Old English gōdspel (translation   of Late Latin evangelium), from gōd good + spell tale - first known use: before 12th century- Merriam Webster’s Dictionary.
                                  (To be continued next week, d.v…)
Published by Charles Woodruff- email: 

Monday, May 16, 2011



Many of you seemed to like them, so I have dug out some more of my old notes. This time it is a combination of notes in my Bibles, and what I call “Sermon Seeds” in an old notebook I kept. Once again, I hope they are helpful. Not all are original, so where possible, I gave credit to the source.  Give me feedback again, please.

Without God- mankind is wretched; mankind is wrong; mankind is wicked. Also, they are depraved; they are deceived; and they are damned.

Blessed are the meek. Meekness is not weakness. (Matthew 5:5; compare with Matthew 11:27-30). The rebel is changed, self will is gone. The example of meekness, as well as mercy is Christ.

Contrasts in Christians: The almost Christian (Acts 26:28). The just barely Christian. (Matthew 26:33, 34). The sold out Christian (totally committed), (Philippians 1:21).

A dear old friend, Will Owings, now with the Lord, gave me this seed thought, along with a story, which I later preached about. The seed was “No empty Tomb? A hopeless people!”

God has a blessing plan. Take His! Beware of anyone else’s!
Christ Jesus- Preach Him! Praise Him! Please Him! Prepare to meet Him!                                
Make your calling and election sure. See 2 Peter 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:4. You can be sure!             
            Five Sins That Men Are Guilty Of, But Cannot Commit
1. Doing away with God. (In reality, it cannot be done). 2. Crucifying Jesus afresh. (Neither can this be done).3. Changing God’s word. (It is forever settled in heaven, though often rejected on earth). 4. Keeping souls from salvation (We can hinder, but not successfully, because salvation is of the Lord). 5. Making God a liar (Men can call Him a liar, if they dare, but He is immutable).            
                   The Virgin Mary Preached A Great Sermon                
Not only in The Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55, where she magnified the Lord, but also in John 2:5 where she glorifies her son by saying “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.”                           

                                     Christ The God-Man
The maker of woman, became a man, made of a woman.
The giver of the law, was born under the law; subject to the law; the only perfect law keeper.
He who knew no sin, became sin for us, in our place.
He who is love, became hated for our sakes. Yes, just as He took Barabbas’ place, He took ours!

                                         King James Version Variations
Jeremiah 34:16 in Cambridge Bibles; “Whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure.”
Jeremiah 34:16 in Oxford Bibles; “Whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure.”
2 Chronicles 33:19  in Cambridge Bibles “and all his sin, and his trespass.”
2 Chronicles 33:19 in Oxford Bibles “and all his sins, and his trespass.”

Y’all know I love, and use the King James Version; but which variation is correct? I have a facsimile edition of the original 1611 King James Version, and on these two passages it reads the same as the Cambridge edition. My facsimile is published by Zondervan, and not an expensive one, but I am pretty sure an “original” would read the same. But, I guess all Oxfords read the same, and all Cambridges read the same. I have a KJV Old Scofield  Bible (published by Oxford), and it follows the pattern, i.e., just like other Oxfords. I have three Kirkbride Thompson Chain Reference KJVs, and they follow the Oxford reading. I hope I haven’t shocked any KJV only folks. I didn’t bring this up to be controversial. Just looking at my notes and was reminded of this variance. I was saved many years before I even heard of this. The point being, there were a number of changes made in the KJV before 1769, then later our English type went to the Roman type, around 1800. So, if you think you have an unchanged KJV, you don’t!  One question: if you disagree with me; does your King James Version have the Apocrypha? No? Case closed! We do have a trustworthy Bible in the KJV. But, even the translators knew there would be revision, and changes. Just read for yourself The Translators to the Reader; about 17 pages which were in all original King James Bibles, just after the Epistle Dedicatory. It is not in most today, but in my Cambridge Wide Margin KJV, which was given to me as a gift in late 2006, this complete 17 page document is there. I recommend it to your reading. I think they can be obtained separately published by either Oxford or Cambridge; likely through your local bookstore. Is the question of the variances solved? No, and it may never be. But God has honored His word through the ages. He has honored it in English since Wycliffe first published his handwritten partially complete Bibles in the 1380‘s; and since Tyndale published the first New Testament on a press with movable type in 1526 (later it was combined with Miles Coverdale’s work, and others to make a complete Bible). On through with the Great Bible; the Bishops Bible; the Geneva Bible, and several others right up until the King James Version was published 400 years ago in 1611. God has greatly used it, more than any other English version. I believe that it will be used widely until Jesus comes back, no matter how many new ones (good or bad) are published. Those two little variances will not throw us, whether you are partial to the Oxford or the Cambridge. Don‘t major on the minors! Read, teach, preach and believe the word of God! Jesus is coming soon!  (For further study on the KJV 400th anniversary, see A Worthy Celebration here at this  blog by scrolling down until you spot it, or write me for an email copy). God  bless you!

Published by Charles Woodruff- email:

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Dear friends,
Sunday is Mothers Day. If ever anyone should be honored, it is mothers. Mothers have done so much for the world. I know I would like for my mother to still be with us, but she isn't. So, all can do is honor her with my remembrance,and my writing. I first wrote this several years ago, and have now revised it a couple of times. I thought this year I would send it out again, and place it here on the blog.

I hope it reminds us all of something about our mothers and grandmothers. I know they were not perfect, but we weren't either. We must look to the perfect Lord Jesus for that. My mother first told me about Him. I owe her so much for that alone!
God bless you all!
Charles Woodruff

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” 2 Timothy 1:1-5.

Recently, I was going through some photographs and memories of my grandmother on my father’s side. She was 88 years old when she passed away in Somerset, Kentucky in 1978. I was privileged to conduct her funeral.

Among her things, I found a couple of booklets. One was by Jacob Gartenhaus; a minister of the gospel who was a converted Jew. It was on the second coming of Christ (click link). The other was a booklet distributed by her church, the Baptist Temple in Brooklyn, New York. It was What Saith the Scripture?, by John W. Aitchison. I believe these were the only two books, other than her Bibles, among her belongings she left behind.

Her family Bible was revealing in many ways. It likely was passed down from my great-great-grandmother. I probably would have much difficulty finding out my great-great-grandfather’s name had it not been for this Bible. It was a crumbling edition that dated back to the early 1800’s, but the intact family entry pages helped me immensely.

I had overlooked the other Bible, my grandmother’s personal one, until I picked it up recently. One of the passages she has marked is:
Psalm 119:9 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

This touches me greatly when I remember that she often prayed for me when I was young, and I was a very wayward sinner. I was able to tell her and my maternal grandmother that both their prayers were answered in November, 1963 when I was saved at 21 years of age. Praise the Lord!

The little booklet from the Brooklyn church was enlightening in another way. It has an entry page that shows my grandmother, Lillian A. Taylor, being baptized at the Baptist Tabernacle in Atlanta in June, 1902. The pastor there was Dr. Len Broughton, a rather famous preacher, who later pastored a church in London, England. He may be best known for founding, almost single-handedly, Georgia Baptist Hospital (now Atlanta Medical Center).        
Lillian, and my grandfather, Charles B. Woodruff, were married four years later on May 8, 1906. Charley, as he was called, was tragically killed in a railroad accident on October 27, 1910 when my father, Theron, was only two years old. His older brother Sam was three. Grandmother remarried a few years later to Sgt.W.C.Sievers of Kentucky, a career army man. That is how she wound up in New York for a few years. He was stationed there. I have other memories I could share, but I must move on.

In verse five of our text, Paul saw in Timothy the value of having a godly grandmother (Lois), and a godly mother (Eunice). They had a great influence on him. His faith was unfeigned  (real, without hypocrisy, see Strong’s Concordance entry: Greek #505).

John R.W Stott in his commentary on 2nd Timothy titled Guard the Gospel (IVP, 1973), says on this verse: “The most formative influence on each of us has been our parentage and our home. Hence good biographies never begin with their subject, but with his parents, and probably his grandparents as well. True, no man can inherit his parents’ faith in the way that he inherits facets of their personality. But a child can be led to faith by his parents’ teaching and prayers.”  (Emphasis mine)

This is true. It should both humble us, and put fear of God in us for ourselves, and our children. Oh, I know some rigid, philosophical, Calvinist will decry this “not depending on the sovereignty of God.” My friends, God is sovereign, absolutely in control of all things. Yet God says: Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Even Mr. John Calvin himself said: “Timothy was reared in his infancy in such a way that he could suck in godliness along with his mother’s milk.” (The Epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus, p.292; John Calvin, written in 1548, quoted by Stott; op. cit.)

I was blessed to have two Christian grandmothers who set good examples for me. My maternal grandmother, Inez Biddy Smith, was also an inspiration to me. I was around her more than the other grandmother. She was not in the least shy about laying a hickory on my backside when I misbehaved either! I believe the only serious mistake she and my grandfather made was calling me a “good boy”!  I probably wasn’t worse than other kids, until my early teenage years, and then I became plain mean! I was a sinner greatly in need of a savior!

The Smiths were old fashioned country people from Cartersville, Georgia, who never had very much money, but they both loved their grandkids. I do remember, after I was saved, and called to preach, she liked for me to read the Bible with her. We would discuss it some. She would always listen to Brother Maze Jackson, and Brother Edgar Thomas (two well-known Georgia preachers), on the radio.

When she got bedridden, and was unable to attend church, she would often talk about going home to be with the Lord, especially after my grandfather died. We called him Big Daddy. He was a pretty big guy. He had big hands. But, somehow the name Big Mama, though that was how we knew her, was a bit incorrect. She was not a big woman, at least all the time I knew her.

In her final seven years on earth, I called her “my miracle grandmother”. You see, the doctor had given up on her, because her kidneys were bad, and other things. He called the family in. My mother and her sisters met, and decided to contact a funeral home in Acworth, Georgia to pre-arrange everything. I tried courteously to talk them into waiting, but my Aunt Judy, who handled all Big Mama’s business affairs then, insisted on planning it then.

I admit she looked bad, like “death warmed over” as we used to say. I (and I am sure others), had special prayer for her. I held her little hand. I earnestly implored the Lord not to take her yet. I knew death was coming, but I didn’t give up on her yet. We stayed, and watched, and prayed much of the night.

The next morning, there seemed to be a little improvement, but I don’t know who noticed it besides me. I was exhausted, so I went home and slept. I seem to recall that I did not return the next day because of commitments, but I checked on her. She had improved slightly. I saw her again a couple days later. She looked better. We prayed again. She told me she wanted to go to be with the Lord. I asked her to hold on a while, because we would miss her so much. Then she said, “Charles, I want you to preach my funeral.” I said “Big Mama, I would be honored, but only if you wait a while. We are not ready to send you off yet. But, God’s will be done.” 

She improved day by day. In a week or so, she was able to go home, and lived seven more years! To God be the glory for her life and example! She passed away on April 8, 1988 at 84 years of age.

I preached the funeral as she requested, but a few years later than we thought! We were simply going by what the doctor had said. The sisters are all gone now, except Aunt Jessie who is 90. Mom passed away in April 2005, at 82. I want to talk about her now.

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

My father was 36 years old when I was born. Perhaps that kept us from being closer in spirit, because when I was 13, he was 49. My mother, Vertie Lee Smith, on the other hand was young. She was only 16, nearly 17, when they married. I was born three years later, when she was 20 years old.  Mom was born in 1922. I was born in 1942. Chuck, my oldest son, was born in 1962. I always thought this was interesting.

One of the earliest memories I have is going to Sunday school and morning services at Gordon Street Baptist Church in the Cascade Heights area of Atlanta. I delighted in learning Bible verses, and singing the old hymns, such as Holy, Holy, Holy, Crown Him with Many Crowns, and He keeps Me Singing. Mom always went with me, but Dad didn’t. Dad was a good provider, a good father, but Dad was a drinking man during the time I was growing up. I’ll explain how that changed later in another article.

I made a profession of faith, but, I don’t believe I was really saved at 8 ½ years old. They thought I understood, and was ready, I thought I understood and was ready, but apparently not. Anyway, I went forward, made a profession, and later was baptized. Mom had made a profession herself, and was baptized, and perhaps I just wanted to do what she did. I can’t be sure. The invitation system itself creates an atmosphere for premature professions of faith. That is just a fact.  Almighty God is the only being in the universe that can tell you that you are saved. Let no man deceive you!

Let me be clear here. Even though I may not have been really convicted, and saved then, I would not discourage parents taking their children to church from infancy. I learned much during those days that was pretty sound Bible teaching. I continued to go to church regularly until my rebellious teen years. I still remember some of the teaching I received in several Atlanta Southern Baptist churches as we “moved our letters” when we located to a different area of the city.

I believe the greatest thing Mom ever did for me, was expose me to the Bible, Sunday School, and gospel preaching! The value of this in my life cannot be fully measured! But, this story is not really about me, it’s about Mom, yet as far as her relation to me, it is impossible not to say things about myself. So bear with me a little.

When I started to school in kindergarten, and the first grade, guess who walked me six blocks to school?  Mother!
When I got my lip severely cut on a broken swing chain after falling out of a swing at about five years old, guess who cared for me, and took me to the doctor? Mother!
When, as a teen, I got in trouble several times, who was the main person who believed in me, and tried to help me? Mother!

Things with me got worse and worse, including burglary and car theft, and I was going to be sentenced to reform school at age15 until I was18. Who do you think pleaded with the judge, and got my school Principal, Mr. DeVaughn, at Brown High School, and my pastor, Dr. O. Norman Shands of West End Baptist Church, to write letters to the judge, stating that I was a good boy? Mother!

That was a close call, so I had a bit of a reformation. Although I quit school at 16, and left home, except for drinking and fighting, I stayed out of major trouble. No felonies, although if they had caught me bringing in Dexedrine, and other illegal drugs at the Mexican border at Tijuana in 1959, I would have likely done hard time!

I got married in January 1962 to Sandra, and our first child, Chuck, was born December14th of the same year. In early November, 1963 (about three weeks before President Kennedy was shot), I was finally saved for real at a dear Christian friend’s home. Guess who didn’t believe her ‘good boy’ needed saving? Mother!

But, she soon saw that I had indeed changed. We started going to Maranatha Baptist Church in the Bolton area of Atlanta. The pastor, Jack O. Cole, was young and a fireball.  It was real different from the more staid setting in the churches we had attended when I was much younger. We were sad when Jack left after a year or so.

After a couple years of being cold in heart and unsure where to go to church, we got involved in Grace Baptist Church in the Cabbagetown area of Atlanta.  This was about a mile from historic Oakland Cemetery where my Great-Great-Grandfather is buried. Garland Odom preached the gospel straight and true. He believed if God called you, God would prepare you. At Grace Baptist on March 15, 1968, I surrendered to preach the gospel. After the service Pastor Odom asked me to preach in his stead on April 7, 1968. I thought, “Oh, please God! That only gives me three weeks to prepare!” I did try to prepare. I saw a man’s tattoo in the Walgreens where I worked. It said Born to Lose! This stirred a theme in me. As natural men, we are sinners, and are born to lose, unless we are born again by God’s grace. My text was Ecclesiastes 1:2:  “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

I think I have preached better since then, but never more sincere. I could sense God’s presence in a special way. Mother, Dad, and my brother and sister were there. I think my grandmother was there. Some of my aunts and uncles, and cousins were there. Some of Sandra’s relatives were there. We all were in that little church in a mill village! Including regular members, it was rather crowded. There were two professions of faith, as I recall. That’s in God’s hands. But the striking thing, my mother and my dad were there! Guess who always encouraged me in my ministry after that? Mother!

Many years and many miles have passed since then. I wish I could say that Mom stayed close to God all those years. After Dad died in 1984, she quit going to church regularly. She, who had sung in the choir, and was faithful to church for a time seemed to lose interest. There were areas where I wish her life had been different. She did some things that were not right in those years. She got more materialistic. We still discussed the Bible, but it wasn’t the same.

Mom started to physically decline about ten years ago. It was Alzheimer’s. How fast that terrible disease seems to take its toll. Her memory got down to nothing. She would repeat things over and over. It got worse. Then, in October 2004, she fell and broke her hip. After that, she declined rapidly. Sadly, we had to put her in a nursing home. She developed a severe infection in March, and she died in Forsyth, Georgia on April 19, 2005. She was 82 years old. We miss her.

I always loved her and she loved me, I know. Time moves so quickly, and I have not always been where I should be with God. But God is faithful. Mom, like all of us will be, is in the hands of a just and almighty God. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27.   

In memory of Vertie Woodruff, Lillian Seivers, Inez Smith, and, also, my late son,
Chuck Woodruff. You all made a difference in my life! Thank God for you!
Originally written on May 12, 2006, revised May 7, 2008, and May 9, 2009, and 2011.