The Gift of Gloria

A few years ago Gloria made a short video, “Understanding God’s Gifts,” where she spoke of her cancer as a gift. ( http://www.icochotnews.com/?q=node/2725.) While cancer has taken our dear friend and certainly doesn’t feel like a gift, I have a feeling that today Gloria sees it as a priceless gift—her vehicle to glory—a gift of inexpressible value.

I am also quite sure, though we grieve the loss of her physical presence, that we have received an amazing and valuable gift that will keep on giving—the “Gift of Gloria.” Gloria’s life was (and will continue to be) a gift. A testimony. A sermon. A source of comfort. An example. An upward call. A reminder. A smile producer. A reminder of all good things in Christ. An encouragement as we finish our race. A mentor. A friend…and much more. My eyes have shed many tears, as there will be a gap until I see my dear friend again—but my heart is full remembering beautiful, effervescent, radiant, and glorious Gloria.

Gloria’s life had the ripple effect, amidst joy and in suffering.

and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  (Romans 5:2-5)

As Gloria, through God’s spirit, only let suffering cause her to grow in all these qualities, she (through God’s pitcher… as she so beautifully expressed) poured this love out onto countless others. As she poured out God’s love, the outpouring created a ripple effect—crossing oceans and spanning continents.

Several of her character qualities that stand out to me and have called me higher are:

  • Humility. Soon after I met Gloria, in the late 80’s, I remember being at a staff meeting with her in Lexington, Massachusetts. The staff had grown quickly, as many ministers migrated to Boston, and soon overwhelmed the little office building. The administrative staff struggled to get work done on Tuesdays (staff meeting days) because of the traffic of people wandering upstairs through their offices, especially to use the phones. (This was in the days before cell phones.) In response to this difficulty, the church installed a pay phone (yes, they were a thing back in the day) in the downstairs staff room. I remember Gloria (who was an elder’s wife by then), looking for a dime to make a call. One of the administrative staff told her that she was welcome at any time to use the upstairs phones. But Gloria used the downstairs pay phone. She would never want to be or cause one to stumble through any sense of entitlement. Gloria’s definition of leadership matched Jesus’ definition. Gloria always saw herself through her deep understanding of her personal discipleship—a servant of Jesus.

 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,
and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.
  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Mark 10:43-45 NLT)

Gloria always saw herself as a servant of Jesus. No wonder she was so joyful!

  ‘…In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  (Acts 20:35)

  • Laughter.  How her joy radiated. My first taste of this came soon after we moved to Boston. I don’t remember the occasion, but we were seated on stage at a Sunday service in the Boston Garden. Gloria’s chair had inadvertently been set up with the back legs of the chair too close to the back edge of the stage. Yes, in front of thousands of people (though we found out that amazingly many had missed the crazy happening) her chair went backward and she fell back, her legs flying in the air. Thankfully, she was not hurt at all and we laughed hard afterward. Gloria could laugh at herself, and she could find the joy in most any situation. I will miss laughing with Gloria. She would place herself with and beside those who were hurting and struggling—and help them find the peace and joy Jesus offers. Her life was surrendered to Jesus, leaving her with the freedom to laugh at the days to come…and to enjoy God’s sense of humor through his creation.

  • An expresser of the Word of life. Gloria always had a scripture on her heart. She knew that the power of God was expressed through his Word. She understood that the impact of her words came through God’s words. I can rarely recount a conversation with Gloria where scripture was not used. It  just flowed from her heart and through her lips. This scripture expresses well her heart.

Be blessed, GOD; train me in your ways of wise living.
  I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth;
  I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches.
  I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
  I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.
  Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life; not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road.
Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders.
(Psalm 119:12-18 MSG)

Because of this, she offered hope. Solutions. She knew God was the fixer. She offered his words of life, without grumbling. Yes, she shined like the stars in the sky as she firmly held to the Word of life. She certainly did not run or labor in vain. Countless lives testify to this truth.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky
as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:14-16)

  • A learner. Gloria knew a lot. However, she never felt she had it all wrapped up. Gloria was always eager to learn. Her pursuit of growth, her study of the Word, her sharing of weaknesses and ways she longed to grow, her vulnerability, her listening ear—all testified to her eagerness to learn. Suffering taught her. Things gone awry taught her. Joy taught her. Trials taught her. Children taught her. The newest Christian taught her. A struggling Christian taught her. Life taught her. I believe this heart to learn kept her spirit exuberant. She awaited the new treasures of wisdom God had in store each day. Learning was great, because not only did she draw closer to the heart of God, but she had more to give! And giving was her life.
  • A friend, mentor, and confidante. Now my tears flow. Gloria was my friend. She cared about my life. She asked about my life. She cried with me. She prayed with me. She laughed with me. She added flavor and zest to life. I confided in her, as she was a safe place. But as a true friend, she did likewise with me. Gloria was authentic. As a daughter of God, a wife, mother, Nonna, sister, friend…and many other roles, she was the real deal. The heart of her husband trusted in her. Her children and grandchildren have risen up and called her blessed. 

Gloria will forever live in my heart, and I know I am one of many who share this sentiment. I’m grateful, Gloria, that you know I feel this way about you. I so wish I could celebrate your life with many others next week, but I can’t leave home now. You know that, and would advise me such. We miss your physical presence deeply, glorious Gloria, but now thrill that you are with him in Paradise. This is what you lived for, and you did it! You have finished the race. You did not stumble in, but in the words of Hunter Thompson…

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow! What a ride!”

And more spiritually stated by the Apostle Paul,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.
And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NLT)

You have finished well, dear Gloria. I’ll see you later, my friend. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your example, Thank you for your life. It’s changed mine.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 61

Wisdom Remembers God is at Work

It’s good to be reminded of modern day miracles. Changed lives.

These two “miracles” brought us lobster rolls a few days ago, which were delicious. Even more satisfying, however, was the reminder of God at work changing lives. Bill and Lara are friends, and also “kids” of some long-time friends. They came to visit Wyndham. Bill thanked him for changing his life. Truth is, Wyndham didn’t change his life, but what he shared with him did.

Wisdom reminds us that God’s word does not return void. Period.

8  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
9  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11  so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:8-11)

Lara had been raised in a wonderful Christian family and became a Christian while a teenager but wandered from God when she went off to college. During this time, she met this guy, Bill, and fell in love. He had no real knowledge of the Bible or any semblance of the lifestyle of a disciple. Though Lara had let go of her “first love” with God, she knew she wanted a relationship like her parents. So, when they became engaged to be married she asked Wyndham if he would perform their wedding. He was happy to do oblige but insisted that they do some pre-marriage counseling with us beforehand. We explained that we believe a marriage needs to be built on a strong foundation (with God as the architect) in order to thrive and withstand the challenges that come with life. Thus, we would use the Bible as we met together to talk about marriage and their lives.

Bill was captivated by the Scriptures, and asked Wyndham to study the Bible with him. The Scriptures came to life before his eyes. He desired to change his life and follow Jesus. His excitement over the Scriptures and his learning how to build a relationship with Jesus reminded Lara of what she knew was true and right. His zeal was contagious…and she recaptured her love for God. A few weeks before their wedding Bill was baptized, and Lara was restored to the church.

Today they are strong disciples, teaching their young children the realness of God and love for the Bible. Seeing Bill’s changed life (even though they now live in another state) and the strength of their marriage and family impacted his mother in a great way, and she was recently baptized. He has great vision for all of his family.

Sometimes I get stuck and wonder how things can change. Other times I get discouraged and feel like miracles are out of reach, or only meant for others.

Wisdom remembers that everywhere the Word of God goes and is implanted, lives change. If you feel like you don’t know what to say or what to do, don’t worry. Read the Bible. Share the Bible. It’s powerful to change lives, and reawaken hearts grown cold. Ours and others.

Never underestimate the power of God and his word.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 60

Wisdom Searches

We hope you have a happy 4th of July (no matter where you live). I’m taking a break from posting an article today, while continuing the now six- hour search for my car keys. It will be wise to continue looking, as they will be pricey to replace.

I’ve searched all the likely places, as well as the unlikely ones. I’ve searched the “ripe” trash, and have even searched in the freezer. They are somewhere, I just don’t know where.

I’m eternally grateful God sees us as valuable treasures..and searches for all who are seeking him. He never quits searching. He searches the freezer and the trash of our lives, looking for hearts that seek him. When we find him, he keeps seeking us out, as his desire is to support us throughout our life of service to him. What an amazing God.

I pray I find my car keys, but even more I pray to always seek God’s face.

“And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the LORD searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever. (1 Chronicles 28:9 NRSV)

 
“The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”  (2 Chronicles 16:9a NLT) 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 59

Wisdom Doesn’t Know What to Do

Wisdom means we always know what to do, right?

I don’t think so. In fact, wisdom knows that we often face circumstances and situations when we have no idea what to do.

That’s why wisdom prays.

In 2 Chronicles 20, the men, women, and children of Judah stood watching their King Jehoshaphat. Their land was being invaded. They looked to their leader to learn his well-thought-out plan of action. Yet, Jehoshaphat had no idea what to do to help his people. He had no answers.

In having no answers, he had THE answer.

He turned to God. He reminded God of his promises as he prayed:

Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 

                                                                                                (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Wisdom doesn’t have to know what to do. Wisdom must know where to turn. Jehoshaphat displays great wisdom while not knowing what to do.

Wyndham has consistently set an example for me, and for our family by NOT always knowing what to do—yet always knowing who to turn to. You see, prayer is not merely something we do to check off our spiritual activities for the day. Prayer is dependence on God. Prayer is desperation. Prayer is relationship. Prayer is essential. Prayer is trusting even when we have no idea what to do next. Wyndham likes to begin and end the days with prayer. He would begin vacation times with prayer, begin car rides with prayer–even fishing trips with prayer. When he would visit with someone he would ask to pray with them, and when someone visits us he wants to pray with them.

We began praying with our kids when they were newborns, and we still pray with them. We love to pray with our grandchildren, because we, like their parents, long for them to know the Presence of God.

One of Wyndham’s favorite scriptures is in Exodus 33. Moses is faced with the “I don’t know what to do or where to go” dilemma. So—he prays.

Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. (Exodus 33:12-15)

Wisdom knows that when God’s Presence is with us… we will be okay.

If God’s Presence is not with us, we can have all kinds of fabulous or not so fabulous ideas and plans…but we had best not move forward.

God with us, God’s presence, God’s wisdom—is everything.

Wisdom prays.

I took this picture a few nights ago because it’s a common scene. Whenever Sam comes (a couple times a week) to help with some of the routines like showers and getting Wyndham into bed this scene is familair– Sam praying with his dad last thing at night. (I have also learned that he and our daughters pray by phone together very early in the morning once a week.) No one asked them to do this. They have learned wisdom, because they don’t know what to do.

We can’t fix our situation. We don’t know what to do. But our eyes our on him.

God’s Presence is what really matters.

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 58

Wisdom Believes in People

By Leigh Kinnard

One of the qualities I admire the most about Jesus is his ability to see each person individually and to encourage each person to be the best they can be. Jesus sees our strengths and weakness, and he has vision for what we can become as we follow in his steps. Jesus brings out the best in people.

Vision is a powerful motivator. I appreciate the people in my life who have believed in me and who have had vision for the person I could be in Jesus. One person in my life who had vision for me was Wyndham Shaw.

I grew up on a farm in Henderson, North Carolina. My grandmother taught me about God through nature. I knew God loved me, but I didn’t know how to respond to the kind of love God showed me.

During my high school years (the early ’70s), I became friends with Mitch Mitchell and his family through the church we attended in Henderson. Mitch went to college at NCSU. He would come back during the summer and share what he was learning in the campus ministry there, which was led by Wyndham.

Wyndham, Jeanie, and Mitch

I was searching to find God’s truth and his will for my life. I jumped at the opportunity to visit the campus devotionals which were held each Friday night in Raleigh. I’ll never forget the first time I went. I was blown away by the fellowship, the singing, and Wyndham’s message calling us to be disciples.

After my first visit to the devotional, I talked with Wyndham. I was so touched by his genuine concern for what was going on in my heart. He encouraged me to keep attending the devotionals, even though I was still in high school. I sensed that he looked deep into my soul and saw my longing for God. Wyndham’s compassion gave me hope that I could be close to God and find his will for my life.

I kept going to the devotionals until I went away to college in West Tennessee. I took Wyndham’s encouragement with me on my journey. Each time I talked with Wyndham, he had the ability to make me feel like I was the only person in the room. He had genuine concern for what was going on in my life. I now know that he was this way with EVERYONE! I would always walk away from those talks with Wyndham feeling loved, encouraged, and believed in.

I appreciate how Wyndham values each individual person. That’s what Jesus did. I feel convicted by that. I want to be like that. In John 13:34-35, Jesus gave his disciples a new command. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” From the first time I met Wyndham I knew he was a follower of Jesus because of his love. Our interactions were brief talks during fellowship, but I always walked away feeling like I had been in the presence of Jesus.

I have never been with Wyndham and Jeanie in a ministry. I’ve never been with them for a long period of time. My history with them is one of brief interactions. They probably don’t realize how those brief conversations changed my life and made me a better person. I realize it, and I appreciate their love and encouragement.

I have tried to thank Wyndham over the years as our paths crossed at various seminars, church services, and retreats. My husband Steve and I have had opportunities to be around Wyndham and Jeanie during these times. 

We have watched them teach, serve, counsel, and lead. Their humility is inspiring, their faith through the toughest times is an upward call, their love and joy are amazing.  To me, they are wonderful examples of how to make the most of every opportunity with people. They love each person with an individual and personal love. Their love reminds people of the love of Jesus. I have felt the love of God through them.  Each time we have talked, I left our conversations feeling those same feelings—loved, encouraged, and believed in.

Wyndham, thanks for believing in this farm girl from Henderson all those years ago. I pray I can believe in others the way you believed in me.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 57

Wisdom Sticks with God—No Matter What

Have you ever been in a situation where someone who is supposed to be living as a Christian messes up? Maybe they sin grievously. Perhaps in the process they hurt you and/or others. We can probably all recount such situations. Since Satan always tries to capture us, this shouldn’t really surprise us. The church is (and always will be) filled with imperfect people—of which I am one.

I have watched wonderful Christians stay devoted to God for many years, following his Word and living life in a way that pleases him.Then, in later years I’ve seen those same individuals decide that sin is too compelling, or his Word is too narrow. They leave the Lord, neglecting his words, and his love. There are few things more painful than watching someone slip away. Over the years that I’ve been a Christian I’ve seen such situations all too often.

Someone else’s (especially someone we love and respect) response to God and his word can challenge our faith—or strengthen it. Often times the one wandering still claims to be okay with God. Such hypocrisy leaves a trail. It can tempt us to respond in unrighteous ways. It can hurt our view of God, embitter us, or cause us to think if “they” can’t do it…why should I think I can. Or, we can rationalize that another’s action gives us an excuse to follow suit. On the other hand, another’s actions can strengthen our convictions about what is true and right.

Wyndham has viewed such difficult situations by simply holding to the Scriptures. His responses have helped and strengthened me. He has often referred to the powerful scripture from Romans 3:3-4.

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?
Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar.

Wisdom knows that God is true—no matter what anyone else does. Wisdom knows that what God says is true, no matter what anyone else says, or thinks. 

It can be tempting to let ourselves off the hook when someone else does wrong. We can think another’s sin means it no longer matters how I live before God.

Am I still called to forgive?

Am I still called to be a functioning, devoted disciple of Jesus?

Am I still to live a life of purity?

Does God still believe that the church is his plan for spiritual family, and that my involvement in it is vital?

The answer to each of these questions is a resounding “yes.”

God is always true no matter what anyone else does.

His word is still true.

His plan is still true.

I love this fact, because I can always count on God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is not dependent on anyone or anything.

I love this because no one else can make my decisions about God and his word for me.

One of my favorite poems (by Mother Teresa) entitled “Anyway,” depicts our temptation to quit or to rationalize because of another’s actions, thoughts, or words. The last stanza reads:

“In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Wisdom knows that God is true, no matter what.

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 56

Wisdom Believes “Even If” 

Do you ever contemplate the “what ifs” of life?

I do. All too often my mind turns simple happenings into dire circumstances. Certainly, if I can’t reach a loved one for a period of time they have been in a wreck or kidnapped. My fears can reach this “conclusion” far too easily. Can you relate?

Our thoughts explore many “what ifs.” These thoughts often lead us to fear and lack of trust. I am sure God knows this about me, thus has proven to me time and again that he will be with me through anything. When I was making the decision to become a Christian, to give my life wholeheartedly to God, I asked myself several seemingly strange “what if” questions as I counted the cost of following Jesus.

What if someone put a gun to my head and asked me to deny God? Would I boldly profess my faith?

What if I was asked to move to Africa? Would I be willing to go?

What if something horrible happened to someone I love? Would I still have something to give?

What if? 

And, shockingly…all of these “what ifs” have happened. There wasn’t a gun to my head, but there was a knife in my back. (If you want to hear this story read “My Morning Cup.” We were asked to move to Africa (and were eager to go) when plans beyond our control changed and we stayed. And now, the love of my life has a terrible disease.

Wisdom turns “what if?” into “even if.”

When Wyndham learned the aggressive and progressive nature of his disease he immediately read the book of Job and shared his thoughts as he told me,
“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?””  (Job 2:10b) 

He believes God is good. God is love. No matter what. Even if.

Hard things happen throughout our lives. Continually. Just this week we experienced a time of angst in a particular situation. I thought of many “what ifs,” and Wyndham  (in his wisdom) reassured me that God would take care of us. He always has. Providentially, we had just finished reading Hebrews 11 and 12 together. I gathered perspective as I remembered reading of faith heroes being sawed in two, accepting the confiscation of their property, and much more. Our problem dwindled. These faith heroes experienced many terrible “what ifs,” and remained full of faith.

Wisdom changes our “what ifs” to “even ifs.” This changes everything.

What if…we changed our “what ifs” into “even ifs?”

Consider the “even ifs” (emphasis added) in these scriptures:

2  and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today,
3  then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
4  Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. (Deuteronomy 30:2-4)

8  “Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.
9  But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’ (Nehemiah 1:8-9 NLT)

3  Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.
4  The one thing I ask of the LORD— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. (Psalm 27:3-4 NLT)

 
9  Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation!
10  Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. (Psalm 27:9-10)

14  Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”
15  “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!
16  See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. (Isaiah 49:14-16 NLT)

10  For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won’t walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.” The GOD who has compassion on you says so. (Isaiah 54:10 MSG)

16  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us.
17  If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king.
18  But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 MSG)

25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,26  and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27  She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (John 11:25-27 NASB)

3  True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful?
4  Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” (Romans 3:3-4 NLT)

16  Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.
17  But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.
18  Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. (Philippians 2:16-18 NLT)

14  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.
15  Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:14-15 NLT)

10  “Fear nothing in the things you’re about to suffer—but stay on guard! Fear nothing! The Devil is about to throw you in jail for a time of testing—ten days. It won’t last forever. “Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you. (Revelation 2:10 MSG)

These scripture remind me that God is with me and loves me. Always and forever.

Even if.

Wisdom replaces “what if” with “even if.”

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 55

Wisdom and the “Gold Standard”

By Gordon Ferguson

To refer to someone as being the “gold standard” means that they are the ultimate example of the subject being discussed. To me (and many, many others), Wyndham is that example of godly wisdom. He is a great listener, who listens with empathy and concern coming out of the pores of his skin, even when he is silent. When some elders come into a group of disciples, some among the group feel apprehension just because to them elders represent authority figures. When Wyndham enters a group, people are most often relaxed and/or relieved, knowing him to be a “safe” place. That wonderful quality frees others up to be totally honest with him, a key part of getting real help.

Elders are also called by the biblical terms shepherds and overseers. An overseer is one who sees the big picture. He thinks in terms of both the immediate and the future as he asks: What do we need now and where will this lead in the long run? The shepherd is one who is focused on the individual sheep in the flock, noticing the ones who are weak or who have wandered. Some elders are better at one of these roles than at the other. Wyndham is equally good at both. He thinks in-depth and then speaks in-depth. Few can match his analyses of individual disciples and situations.

Up until a few days ago, I wouldn’t have thought about using the term gold standard in reference to Wyndham. What triggered my thinking was a conversation about a leader in the Philippines. I described him as a man who was prematurely gray, but with the wisdom to match – in spite of his relative youth. Then this statement just popped out of my mouth: “You know, he’s a guy sorta like Wyndham.” That made me realize that he was my gold standard of an elder’s wisdom.

Hopefully most of us older leaders have grown sufficiently in wisdom to do a credible job as leaders. But for the large majority of us, we had to grow into it. Somehow our gold standard brother got an early start. It was God’s blessing to him, but a blessing to be shared with others. No one has been better in sharing wisdom. A sports announcer said the same about Wyndham’s favorite professional quarterback at the conclusion of the Super Bowl. As he said of Brady in his profession, I say of Wyndham in his profession of serving others: “He’s the best I’ve ever seen.” 

 

 

 

 

 

30  The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.  (Psalm 37:30)

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 54

Wisdom Values Relationships

We all want our lives to count. We want to matter. To be validated.

Isn’t this why Facebook and Instagram “likes” are a thing?

And this is why rejection, bullying, and loneliness feel so cold and cruel.

We resonate with Susan Sarandon’s words in “Shall We Dance:”

”We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet; what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage [or a friendship, or church family], you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day.  You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.  Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness’.”

The problem is, people can let us down. They forget, don’t notice, and sometimes don’t care.

Wisdom finds validation in relationship with God. Then, we are filled up so that we can give to others, whether or not they give back.

Wisdom knows that God remembers.

10  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)

Wisdom realizes that God notices.
9  For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.             (2 Chronicles 16:9a)

Wisdom knows “we count” to God.

29  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
30  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.   (Matthew 10:29-31)

How we love to share good news. It’s just not the same to keep it to ourselves? We want someone to hear about the big fish we caught, the new chapter we wrote, to notice our new haircut, or to know when we are hurting…to be a witness to our lives.

God knows. He cares. And so should we.

We were created to share, to encourage, to have abiding friendships. “Christ in us” means we will also care, we will also notice, we will remember, and show another that they count.

Wisdom values relationships, and learns to care as Jesus does.

A vivid memory stands in my mind which continues to teach me. A number of years ago Wyndham and I were in the parking lot in our car, preparing to leave from church.

Then Wyndham, out of the corner of his eyes, noticed one of the sisters crying as she was leaving. He stopped our car, got out, and went over to her as he put his arm on her shoulder to ask, “What is wrong? Why are your crying.” I had not even seen her.

Wisdom notices.

It’s so easy to walk right by someone in need, thinking someone else will take care of it—or I’m not his/her closest friend so it’s none of my business.

Truth is, he noticed, he cared, he remembered her situation, he stopped what he was doing and altered his planned course…to tell her “you matter.”  (As I just read this blog to him he told me he remembers that time because he  struggled in his mind on whether to stop, as he was hurrying to drop me off before heading to get to a Patriot’s football game. Maybe that’s why I remember this so vividly.)

We are offered this reassurance from God, and as we have been given, we then can offer it to others.

We, like God, can say to others (by our words and actions)….I notice you, I remember you, you matter, you count.

As I walked beside a lake a few years ago, these two chairs were a vivid reminder of our innate need for relationship. God planned for us to be in community. He planned for us to be in his church…a family, a body, a place for unity in relationships where we can be vulnerable, gracious, truthful, and full of love. Where we count.

Wisdom values relationship, finds it in God, and then passes it on to others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 53

Wisdom Knows That Less Is Often More

I am a “finish-if-it-kills-me” type of person. Yep, stay up all night to finish a project, turn over an entire house to find a missing object. That sort of thing.

Wyndham stays wiser. He figures that he can finish it later, or look for it tomorrow—rather than stay up too late, infringing on tomorrow’s energy. This was his practice.

Oh, to be that wise.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Thankfully, I think his wisdom is beginning to rub off on me.

You see, I “had” to finish a project tonight…and now it’s very late. And I still have not written Wednesday Wisdom #53. So, I am taking the opportunity to remember Wyndham’s wisdom (and Solomon’s wisdom in the above scripture).

Not all wisdom comes in packages over 500 words. In fact, Solomon continues in Ecclesiastes:

3  As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.
7  Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:3, 7)

Wisdom knows that many times, less is more.

Wyndham has often stated, You can’t easily take back something when you say too much. You can much more easily add more later— if it’s needed.

So, I’m signing off tonight for this Wednesday with Wyndham…knowing that time is precious and God instructs us to make the most of it (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Wisdom knows how to determine when “less is more.”

When it comes to our words, it’s likely more often than we think.

 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,…(James 1:19)