One Decision – 50 Years Later

I remember the day well. I wore a homemade dress—gold on the bottom, black and gold plaid on the top. I felt such a sense of relief as I walked down to the river to be baptized, knowing I would walk back out with my sins forgiven. I wondered what it would “feel” like to have God’s Spirit in me. That was 50 years ago today—June 22, 1967.

I knew I was lost, separated from God. Though I was just a young teen, I had already dabbled in rebellion. My mouth was filled with cursing and I had already tried a few cigarettes….just because I wanted to. Those were just a couple of many sins.  I struggled with the desire to experience the world and to “fit in”…thinking it seemed much too restrictive to follow the “narrow road” as outlined in the Bible. How could that bring freedom? (I’d soon come to learn the great truth in this paradox.) Yet, one thing would never leave my mind.

What would I do with Jesus? I had to answer the same question Pilate asked the crowd around him years ago:

  But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered.
  “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?”
Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”
  “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
  When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
(Matthew 27:20-24, emphasis added)

I reasoned—either he was true, and rose from the dead…or he wasn’t’ and didn’t.

Either the Bible was true, or it wasn’t.

I found that it took much more faith to believe it wasn’t true…than to have faith that it is true. 50 years later I have never been more solidly convinced of its truth.

The night before my baptism a scene ran through my mind’s eye again and again. A scene of Jesus showing ultimate love…dying for me. How could I say “no” to that love?  I had a “fear of God,”  knowing I would give account to him one day, combined with a sense of amazement of what he did for me. I had been thinking I should try to get “good enough” to become a Christian first. I finally realized that the point of the cross was that I could never be good enough. God wanted me, “Just as I am.” When I heard the words to the song by that title, I knew I could not wait any longer.

I had grown up reading the Bible most every day, though no one “formally” studied the Bible with me. I remember asking myself…”What if God wanted me to move to Africa? Would I be willing? What if someone pointed a gun at me and asked me to deny Jesus? Would I be faithful?”

Ironically, years later I was held at knife point and boldy (through the power of God’s Spirit) told the assailant he would account to God for what he planned to do to me. After about an hour, I was let go—completely unharmed. (You can read about this in “My Morning Cup.”) Three decades later we would be asked to move to South Africa, which we fully planned to do. Last minute changes and needs in the church there changed that plan, which surprisingly brought me more disappointment than relief.

Over the 50 years I’ve grown and changed beyond my imagination. I’ve messed up so many times and experienced God’s grace again and again. But, over the past 50 years I’ve never looked back. I’ve seen amazing miracles from God and many amazing acts of love (as well as disappointments and wrongdoings) from others. These have shown me the truth of the Scripture:

 What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?
Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”
(Romans 3:3-4)

God and his word remain true no matter my circumstances or actions of others.

The “minister” that baptized me actually went to jail for some really bad stuff. Churches and leaders both inspired and disappointed throughout the years. However, nothing in all of this changes God’s Word—or his plan for the church. It’s all true and the church is still his plan. It never was about people’s responses. It is about how I respond to God and his word.

Nothing will ever change the need to answer the question, “What will I do with Jesus?” It really is all about him.

When people quit following Jesus, what others do or don’t do is never the real issue. A walk with God is always about what we will do with Jesus.

He’s true or he’s not. He rose from the dead or he didn’t.

Not only that, but the life I have seen and lived “proves in practice his good and perfect will.”

  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

June 22, 2017. Today. 50 years later.  

Today I am surrounded by my family while on vacation. Earlier, I went on a prayer walk with my oldest daughter and fourteen-year-old granddaughter who has been a disciple for a little over a year. The depth of love and relationship we share with our kids and their spouses, and that we all share with each other is such a real part of God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. As I listened to my granddaughter’s prayers, and watched the other grandchildren love each other, read the Bible together, play and pray together my heart is filled with inexpressible gratitude.

My marriage of nearly 43 years is closer and deeper than I know how to explain…all attributed to our decision to follow God’s plan. I get to experience this because of a decision made 50 years ago. Even though the past year has not been as we would have planned (my husband has developed a debilitating and truly awful neurological disease), we have great hope and courage to live each day with joy. This world is truly not our home. God has promised us eternal life.

My spiritual brothers and sisters provide relationships that bring great comfort and joy. I have been able to see, over these 50 years, God working throughout the world changing lives that inspire me beyond words. Only the power of God could bring such changed lives and unity in relationships. I’ve been able to see the poor around the world served and lonely orphans placed in families. All because of one decision, 50 years ago.

That one decision made 50 years ago has made all the difference. I could not be more grateful to God for his good, perfect and pleasing will.

I can only imagine what I might write 50 years from now—if there is “writing” in Paradise.

 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”-
(1 Corinthians 2:7-9)

Never underestimate the power of one decision

Thank you God, for these 50 years. And thank you for the hope of eternity.

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 7

Treasures of wisdom, especially in leadership, are scattered throughout today’s post from Michaela Iiames. Take in the these treasures–not only as you read these lines, but as you read between the lines. 

Our friendship with the Iiames has spanned numerous miles and years. John is a doctor of environmental studies and Michaela a teacher. They recently took 6 weeks off to help serve and inspire our small sister church in Sofia, Bulgaria, because that’s the kind of hearts they have for God and his people. As you read this, please say a prayer for their current service there, and for the church in Sofia. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisdom Keeps Adding to Learning

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.   (Proverbs 1:5)

The wise ADD to their learning. They are attentive to readjusting preconceived ideas or “conventional wisdom” in order to learn. Wyndham has never come across as having it all figured out. His understanding of God, others, and himself has been a work in progress, and I am confident, to this day, he is still learning.

When John and I were moved to their ministry in January 1991, our very first time together was driving back from an all church Bible Talk leaders’ meeting downtown. John drove. Wyndham and a weeping Jeanie rode in back. The conversation started something like this, “We’re having a disagreement and wondered if you guys could help us out. We can’t get on the same page…”

We froze. What?!  They were experienced leaders, ahead of us in life and ministry…and they were training us. Yet, this was only the beginning of the many times when Wyndham solicited our input on matters of ministry, personal relationships, marriage, etc. In the ministry regions in his charge, the non-staff men were called on for their strengths, talents, and collective wisdom to make the ministry the best it could be.

Since Wyndham was in a constant state of learning, getting input from so many others did not challenge his sense of position, and the men felt valued under his leadership. Wisdom has security based in humility…always looking to learn.

One of the most laughable moments that has endured more mileage than any other “Wyndham story” was the one that took place in their kitchen one afternoon. Jeanie was serving soup for lunch, and without really waiting for Jeanie, Wyndham continued asking for salt, pepper, bread, butter, water refill, etc., to the point that it seemed she would not ever have time to sit with us to eat. In an exaggerated way, I leaned over and peered under the table, catching his eye on my way up. Wyndham questioned the look on my face, and I replied, “I just wondered if your legs were broken.”

Truth be told, his immediate response was not entirely happy, but within a few moments, he realized his lack of consideration. John and I have been long gone from Boston, and through the years I have received calls from other disciples after a marriage retreat to laugh with me about this story. Wyndham shares it, because he learned to be a better husband. He has consistently added to his learning.

Years ago I affectionately nicknamed him “Wisdom,” and these are only several of many reasons why.


I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 6

Wisdom to be an Encourager
Ahhh…encouragement. It does wonders for our confidence, our perseverance, and our overall outlook on life. Yet it’s often hard to find. Life can hit us hard, and Satan constantly accuses.
Just this morning, before I went to the chiropractor, I was feeling out of sorts  (mostly caused from being out of alignment). I asked God if he would mind giving me a bit of encouragement today. In his infinite wisdom, he always knows what is needed. I just needed to tell him how I was feeling. As I closed my prayer, I received the email below, describing Wyndham’s wisdom shown through encouragement. Not only was I encouraged, but was reminded to be a daily encourager. Thank you, Leigh Ann. We love you dearly.
      
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have       refreshed the hearts of the saints. (Philemon 1:7)
     I have the unique privilege of carrying the same last name as Wyndham. I married into the Shaw family almost twelve years ago. Not only am I beyond blessed to have Sam as my husband, I also have the most amazing in-laws who love me and have taught me so much. 
     It is difficult to share just one thing I have learned from Wyndham, because I could share many. He is a man of great strength and dignity, yet he is humble and meek. He is a man of deep conviction and he has a wealth of knowledge, yet he is eager to learn from others.
     Wyndham is in a stage of life where he could be focused on himself and his own needs, and yet he looks for ways to encourage others. As his daughter-in-law, I am so fortunate to receive an abundance of encouragement from Wyndham.  
     I remember one day just a few months ago when I was in the throes of motherhood with a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a newborn. I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by a lack of sleep and the many tasks at hand. Satan was throwing his flaming arrows at me. Thoughts like “you’re an incompetent mom,” “you lack value,” “you are not good enough…” were swarming through my head that day. I was departing from a family party, and as I hugged Wyndham to say goodbye, he held me a little tighter and a little bit longer and said, “I love you. You’re a great mom and I’m grateful for the wife you are to my son.” 
     My eyes filled up with tears as I walked away (and as they are right now). He spoke words of encouragement that touched my soul. Wyndham’s words of encouragement remind me of a scripture in Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
     While I strive everyday to remember God’s love for me and to get my security and confidence from him, Satan is a strong enemy and his flaming arrows of lies come to attack everyday. It is refreshing to have someone help deflect those arrows. Wyndham does this for me and for so many others. I want to imitate his example and encourage others daily as he does.
Leigh Ann Shaw

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I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 5

Wisdom to be a Utility Player

I enjoy baseball and am unashamedly a Red Sox fan. If you’re not so inclined, stay with me here, as the Red Sox actually have nothing to do with this post. In baseball, I know the names of of many pitchers and home run hitters, but I know the names of few-to-no “utility players.” Utility players are team members who play various positions as they are needed. Most often, these players aren’t household names…but their contributions are crucial to their teams. Utility players must be flexible, capable, and not too attached to their favorite positions.

The Scriptures speak of “utility players” who were chosen as such because they were full of the Spirit and wisdom. Do you quickly recognize the names of Nicanor, Timon, Procorus, Nicolas and Parmenas? Probably not.

Stephen and Philip are more well known…but these other guys were also full of wisdom and the Spirit. Who were these people?
1  In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
2  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
3  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
4  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5  This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
6  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7  So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:1-7)

These men were chosen because they were spiritual and wise. What was their first great and noble assignment born from their wisdom and spirituality?

Distribution of food to the Grecian widows.

Because it was needed.

Wyndham has switched roles numerous times throughout his work in the ministry. Some roles have been high profile and some have not. He has embraced each one equally, as his desire has always been to be used wherever he was most needed…as a player, a coach, or player coach. (fyi..he’s the cute one on the back row…2nd little ball player from the left.) He was not overly attached to a certain role, thought certainly some he enjoyed more than others. He did not allow himself to be distracted from his purpose when change happened.

I more often find change difficult, and am more at ease sticking with what I am most confident and comfortable doing, and what I enjoy the most. So, at times I’ve changed roles “kicking and screaming” inside, while complying outwardly. Even now, I’m needing to consider a new type of role, and Wyndham’s wisdom tumbles through my heart…because this is not what I want to do. Wisdom calls me to be a utility player. What does it call you to be?

God always brings blessings when I respond with humility. It does not always bring immediate joy–but there is always joy, peace, and victory in Godly surrender.

Thank you Wyndham for being a willing utility player, for whatever the need. True wisdom is born from this kind of humility.  As the Acts 6 utility players joyfully fulfilled their roles, God’s word spread and many became disciples. You may not remember their names, but God did, and used their willing service to build a mighty team.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 4

Wisdom to Dig Deeply and in the Right Places

 The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5)

I’m a person who often doesn’t immediately know what I’m feeling, and Wyndham has often helped draw out not only my emotions (especially if the feelings weren’t between us :-)), but also to help me understand their source. Once I understand the source of my emotions, it’s much easier to accurately adjust my perception.

The following descriptions of wisdom involve digging—the first from Kitty Chiles and the second from Gordon Ferguson.

Bud and Kitty Chiles became dear friends when we worked together for HOPE worldwide. Wyndham and I were novices in the non-profit humanitarian world, and learned so much from their vast experiences. Kitty shares the impact that Wyndham’s “digging below the surface” had on her life.

In the entry that follows, our dear friend Gordon also explains the wisdom in “excavating beneath the surface.”

From Kitty:

I am grateful for this opportunity to express my love and respect for Wyndham, a spiritual giant in my life. While our years working with him and Jeanie were too short, they made a profound impact on me. I will share one short interaction that I have carried in my heart for close to fifteen years. 

On one occasion, Bud, Wyndham, Jeanie, and I were talking about several challenging relationships.  I especially was struggling with having the courage (and love) to deal with a conflict and work through it. At one point, Wyndham looked at me and told me I was perhaps the most easily accused person he has known. I was stunned. No one had ever described me as “accused” in my then 20 years as a Christian. He went on to tell me ways this perception was playing out in my life and was crippling me spiritually; how Satan (the great accuser) was using it in my life. My personal antennae were so far extended that I was perceiving things about myself that were untrue. It was affecting my relationships across the board.

Since that day, I have been increasingly aware of this spiritual and emotional handicap. But Wyndham’s words have continually encouraged me. I have developed an awareness of Satan’s schemes in my life and how I can overcome them with God’s Word and the wisdom of Godly relationships like Wyndham. His wisdom and perception have changed my life. And I know that this Godly quality has enriched the lives of all those that he has touched with it. Thank you, brother.

From Gordon:

When we moved to Boston a couple of days before the dawn of 1988, Wyndham and Jeanie picked us up at the airport. (We were paired as discipleship partners.) They had no clue what this relationship was going to mean to their life and schedule, trust me! I was a mess when we moved. If you are interested in seeing more of these details, see Chapter 9 in my book, “Fairy Tales Do Come True.” My being a mess led to our marriage being about the same. The Shaws started on a path that took us all through repeated marriage counseling sessions.

To my knowledge, they were the first to employ what we later were to call “marriage reconstructions.” Wyndham is nothing if not thorough, and thankfully along with it, patient. He left no stone unturned as he dug into our relationship, going all of the way back to our dating relationship 25 plus years prior.

At times, I remember being somewhat incredulous at the little details Theresa recalled—details about how I had hurt her. When I got ticked off and started being prideful and saying stupid things, Wyndham would say something like this: “Bro, just be quiet and let her share what’s on her heart.” He was determined to dig out anything from the past that might be impeding the present. Let me just say that it was an arduous process—but a process that changed my life and our marriage!

My good brother’s wisdom in this situation was shown by often going against the grain of conventional wisdom. That quality showed up many times during the years that we worked together in Boston, but I saw it early on and close up during that marriage counseling process. Conventional wisdom (much more conventional than wise) was to blame husbands for all marriage problems. After all, they were the leaders, right? And if leaders, responsible for all failures! 

Wyndham flatly rejected that viewpoint, although it was definitely the prevailing viewpoint in Boston in the late 1980s. I think it would have been obvious to almost any sensible person that I was the main problem in our marriage. Thus, it would have been understandable if I was the only focus in counseling. However, while I was Wyndham’s main target, he didn’t let my little wife’s cuteness and submissiveness throw him off track. He dealt with her stuff too, very patiently and gently, but thoroughly.

Her view of authority figures had been very damaged by many in her life’s experience, me being one of that sad list. Wyndham won her heart over for life, becoming in the process the most trusted male in her life. He also became one of my most trusted, a man of wisdom who will be tightly bound in my and Theresa’s hearts forever!

Wisdom is not afraid to lovingly dig…and cares enough to do so.

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I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham – 3

As I showed Wyndham the first couple of posts in this series, he was eager to make sure his weaknesses were shared. He was quick to point out that any wisdom God has given him was also learned through difficulties and mistakes. So, there you have another piece of wisdom from Wyndham:

Share your weaknesses. Be vulnerable. Be humble. He has more to share on this subject (for a later time), but his thoughts appropriately introduce a post from our dear friend Gordon Ferguson, who taught us much on this subject. Yesterday Gordon sent me six extremely meaningful articles–all sharing wisdom from Wyndham. I was moved to tears. Thank you, Gordon. I’ll start with this one:

THE WISDOM OF HUMILITY

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13)

Nothing found in human beings is more attractive than humility. James put it well in the above verse. Wisdom will always be diluted by a lack of humility and enhanced by its presence. My good friend, Wyndham, has an abundance of both qualities. I could mention many ways in which his humility has been demonstrated, but the acid test of humility is always going to be found in how one receives critiques.

I’ve used in at least one of my books the example of a talk I had with Wyndham when I was yet very new in Boston. He was my new discipler, and I was the new kid on the block, so to speak, but I felt like one of his concepts about discipling was not on target. We had quite a talk as we walked around a lake, and at some point he agreed with what I was saying. Then, the very next morning in a leaders’ meeting at his house he took my idea to another level. His example almost took my breath away as I thought about now following that example. Humility shown? Yes indeed – in abundance! 

I’ve many other similar stories that illustrate his humility, but I’ll cut to the chase and give you my favorite two. Wyndham and I share a similar emotional nature; we are both very emotionally based. When my emotions get “hooked,” I struggle with working out of it. Wyndham has a way of doing it that few are willing or able to imitate.

In leaders’ meetings involving elders, Wyndham is almost always very even tempered. He can handle a lot coming his way without letting his emotions take control. Very occasionally, he would get hooked emotionally and keep pressing a point that wasn’t quite on target. Sometimes he would work it through in the meetings. On the rare occasions that he didn’t, he would talk to me after the meeting and ask, “Bro, what just went on in there?” In very clear terms, I would tell him that his emotions got hooked and he kept pressing a point that wasn’t going to carry the day. He would then ask what my thoughts were about the discussion topic, followed by a short period of silently processing what I had said. Then he would say, “Okay, I’ve got it. Thanks.”

Now stop and think about that one for a minute. He could process something in short order that was opposite of what he just prior been arguing strongly for. I have seen a few with enough humility to do that so quickly, but very few. I’m probably not one of the few, but watching Wyndham made me determined to work hard to imitate his heart.

Just for fun here, I will also mention an elders’ meeting, with wives present, that Wyndham was leading. He was making his point on some subject, and Jeanie was the main one who spoke up in disagreement. They went back and forth for a good while, with Jeanie being very respectful in spirit but very persistent in sticking with her viewpoint. Finally, in utter exasperation, Wyndham turned to me and said, “Bro, what do I do here?” I replied (with a twinkle in my eye), “I don’t know, Wyndham, because I agree with her!” With that, the room erupted in laughter, and Wyndham handled it with great humility and a nice dose of good humor as well. As I said, one of my great memories of a great man of humility! Thank you, my Brother!

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I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

4 Ways to Feed Your Faith

Carnivore. Vegetarian. Vegan. Gluten free. Dairy free. Organic. Eating for our blood type. So many “eating” options are before us, at least in the land where I live. We give great attention to our food intake, knowing it affects our physical health. 

I’ve often asked myself: What would my physical health be like if I ate physical food in same way I ate spiritual food?

Would I be healthy and energetic? Malnourished? Would I have so little nourishment that my appetite would be gone? Would I be getting by, but with needed changes? Or, would I be dead?

These are important questions to ponder—because spiritually, like physically, we are what we eat.

It’s easy to eat food on the fly, while running out the door. Or, to just grab something someone hands to us in a drive-through. However, these aren’t the meals that do us the most good, or the ones which we remember.

Do you feed your faith “on the fly,” or mostly when someone hands something to you in a “spiritual drive-through?” Do you pay careful attention to your intake, or lack thereof? It’s crucial to take time to eat at the spiritual dinner table.

How healthy is your faith? Is it well fed and growing, or is it waning? Thankfully, we can build ourselves up in faith. While we can become physically healthier through our eating habits, surely eternal life is of greater importance than physical life.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
(Jude 1:20-21)

Maybe you have been disappointed, or have been struggling to see God at work in your life—wanting to see victories that don’t seem to happen. Perhaps you feel as if life is going in the opposite direction from your desires. As a result, faith can suffer– tempting us to lose our appetite for the spiritual nourishment we need. Consequently, we are more apt to consume “junk food” that’s neither satisfying, nor good for us. It can come in the form of mind consuming social media and entertainment, or people or things that confuse our spiritual focus.

So how do we feed our faith?  Here are some simple reminders.

  1. We’ve got to eat the meat—or at least protein. There’s no substitute for opening the Bible and taking in the words of God. When we read, we can remember the power of God, his kindness, his love, and his truths…for faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

And, let the word digest. Take time to really listen. Take time to see God. See him at creation. See him with Moses, David, and Mary. See him raise the dead and see Jesus raised from death. Be amazed at the magnitude and minutia of his creation. Take time to read the word. Take time to hear the word spoken. Sometimes, hearing the word of God spoken out loud speaks to me even more keenly, while at other times silent meditation moves my heart and mind.

  1. Invite others to “eat with you.” We need each other. Sometimes I need to “do my own cooking” spiritually, while at other times my faith is fed through others. When friends are hurting, or going through trials or life changes we often encourage them by sending physical meals. Often, food prepared for others is arranged through an internet tool called “the meal train.” Perhaps we could also encourage each other with “spiritual meal trains,” as together we encourage one another’s faith.  When I feel weak or hurting, nothing encourages me more than receiving a meaningful Scripture that speaks to my particular needs.

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.
In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know…Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.  
(1 Thess. 3:2-4,10)

 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong– that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.  (Romans 1:1-12)

It’s a special treat to “go out to eat.” Likewise, it’s a privilege and special time to “go out to eat spiritual food” as we meet together as a church, worship together, and  hear the word preached.  Neglecting this privilege and responsibility will weaken our faith.

  1. Sharing our personal faith feeds our faith. Yes, inviting people to church can be helpful…as friends may come and open their hearts to seeking God. But there is so much more involved in sharing our faith. Sharing our faith reminds us of what God has done in our lives. As you read the book of Acts, the disciples went everywhere sharing what God had done in their lives. It’s crucial, as the Scriptures state, to be active in sharing our faith. This feeds our faith.

  I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers,
because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.
  I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
(Philemon 1:4-6)

As we hear encouraging news of how God is working in others’ lives, it strengthens our faith. We can’t hear these workings of God if we aren’t actively sharing them. Sometimes, without this focus, we can forget the mighty ways God has and is continuing to work on our behalf.
 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. (Romans 1:8)

  1. Take supplements to strengthen your faith.

Often, in addition to reading the Bible, gaining encouragement from others and being encouraged, and sharing my faith I’m strengthened by spiritual books and spiritual songs. I try to always be reading spiritual books, and I’ve gained so much from them. At times, music strengthens my faith like nothing else can do at the time. 

 
  When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers.
(2 Timothy 4:14 NLT)


Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!
(Colossians 3:16 MSG)

You may feel you have little faith, but it can grow if you feed it. Fortunately, our faith does not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power. Even a little faith, with God’s huge power, can move mountains.
 I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it— and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it,
  which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.
(1 Corinthians 2:3-5 MSG, emphasis added)

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 2

Wisdom shows up in many ways. It’s easy to think of wisdom as mere “wise thoughts” coming from a guru in an ivory tower. Jesus challenges common views in Matthew 11:19 with profundity—The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her actions. (emphasis added)

Wisdom is expressed, or vindicated, through our deeds.

This week I received the description (below) of this vindication of wisdom from our former neighbors, Frank and Rhoda Astone. When we moved to the area, the Astones lived two houses down from us. We became friends, studied the Bible together, and they were both baptized. Today, Frank leads our family group. Soon after meeting them, Wyndham asked Rhoda how their daughter’s condition affected her faith and view of God. Rhoda insisted, before continuing conversations, that we watch a video of what it meant to have a child with Rett’s syndrome. This was the beginning of our deep friendship. Their daughter, Kelly, is nearly 30 years old and can do no more than a small child can do. She can’t walk, talk, use the toilet, etc. But, she can love and be loved. The Astones are inspiring examples of compassion and self-denial. We have learned much from them, and without words, from Kelly.

Each week, Frank carries Kelly from her wheelchair to a seat in the auditorium where we meet for church.

One day last year at church my friend snapped this picture. This particular day, I was recovering from a horrible 2 month long virus and could barely hold my head up. Kelly must have felt similarly. We both leaned on “wisdom.”

Here is Rhoda’s description of Wyndham’s wisdom. I find it convicting and inspiring:

 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

When thinking of wisdom from Wyndham, I think of his gifts of empathy and love. He has been with us through some of the most painful times in our lives.  For example, at 7 years old, Kelly was rushed to the hospital while having her first ever seizure. She stopped breathing, and we were asked whether we wanted her intubated—put her on a breathing tube. The hospital called Children’s Hospital in Boston, and they decided to send a team to pick up Kelly. At this point, the door opened and there stood Wyndham, Jeanie, Carl, and Rebecca (Christensen).  Wyndham and Jeanie stayed with us until we were ready to leave the (Lahey) hospital and travel to Children’s Hospital. Before we left, an emergency room nurse came and said, “Mom and Dad, come kiss Kelly and say good bye before she goes to Children’s’ Hospital.”  She left the obvious unsaid, “in case she doesn’t make it.”

At Children’s Hospital, Wyndham stayed with us while Kelly, still unconscious, was having test after test— trying to determine what was happening. It was about 3:00 am when the doctors suggested we all go home for a while and rest, because she was stable, although still unconscious. Wyndham supported us by being with us…by sharing our pain and by loving us. His presence made the unbearable, somehow bearable. He showed us God’s love.

This same experience with Kelly happened 2 more times, maybe 3, at Mass General Hospital when she was admitted for what was supposed to be a week for surgery. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. At one point, Frank was with Kelly who had been rushed to ICU when she stopped breathing after another seizure which, prior to this surgery, had been controlled for years. I was praying, but I was angry, exhausted, frightened, and so anxious. I thought, ‘Lord, I can’t do this anymore. There’s too much pain.’

The door opened, Wyndham came in, and I just sobbed. Again, he got another emergency call and came immediately. I never knew who called him, but was so grateful when he came. He showed us God’s peace.

Kelly came home from Mass General three months after her surgery in a full body cast. Wyndham came by when we were trying to figure out how to wash her hair. Frank and Wyndham lifted her onto the kitchen counter and we washed her hair in the kitchen sink. It was a three-man job, or maybe a 2 man and 1 woman job. Because she had been so sick, Kelly was very weak and had no head control. We were very crowded around the kitchen sink, but were able to get the job done. Talking to her, holding up her head, and shampooing was a great team effort. Wyndham showed us God’s humility.

Frank was often invited to play basketball or football with Wyndham and the gang, and afterwards Wyndham would help Frank as he came into the house limping, sometimes joking, and sometimes not. Wyndham showed us God’s friendship and humor.

 Wyndham also has such a gift of loving and caring for people. He loves all of our kids, and they all love him. Wyndham showed us the meaning of God’s family.

Wyndham used to come to our house every morning and carry Kelly onto the van for her preschool program. That’s just who he is. Wyndham showed us God’s character.

When I see Wyndham in his wheelchair, I see courage and strength.

I don’t believe that God ‘gave’ Wyndham his illness any more than I believe that God  ‘allowed’ Kelly to have her illness. In my humble opinion, I believe with all my heart that God loves his children with a love that is immeasurable in human terms, and that He feels our pain, wants to dry our tears, and rejoice in our victories.

Wyndham is still Wyndham.  His light shines through.

Thank you dear Rhoda. Okay, I cried big ugly alligator tears reading this. I hope this description helps paint a vivid view of a vital aspect of wisdom—our deeds. May we all be wiser.

________________________________________________________________I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham

Often we meet individuals who have particular and obvious gifts from God. Such is the case with Wyndham Shaw. When people encounter, watch, and interact with him, his wisdom quickly becomes obvious. I believe God has given him a generous portion of wisdom, which has been oft and well used to help change many lives. His desire is always to please God, from the inside out.

I first met Wyndham at the University of Florida when he was a Resident Advisor on my “then-boyfriend’s” dormitory floor. Even then, as a 19 year old, I respected him as a man of wisdom and integrity. As he studied the Scriptures and learned more accurately and adequately how to follow them, he humbly responded, was baptized in 1972, and has been changing lives ever since.

The “then-boyfriend” and I felt badly for Wyndham on the weekends, as his “then girlfriend” lived out of state. So, we often invited him to join us on our Saturday night dates. The rest is history. We became best friends, fell in love, and were married in 1974. 

Forty-three ministry years, many houses, four children, eight grandchildren, countless adventures, and eight dogs later we have experienced life to the full, as promised by Jesus in John 10:10. There have been many dips and thrills on this roller coaster of life, but we are blessed and grateful. I would heartily recommend this life and marriage to anyone, and we bow in gratitude to God for making this possible. Without his love and mercy, and his living and active words…we would not have anything resembling this “life to the full.” 

For a long while I have wanted to express some of the wisdom gleaned from Wyndham’s life in writing, so that as many as possible can gain from the life I have observed, shared in, and loved for over four decades. After seeking input from several friends, I decided to gather and share pieces of Wyndham’s wisdom each Wednesday.

Wyndham’s physical voice is now soft and weak, but his life and example is loud and strong. He suffers from a rare neuro-degenerative disease called Multiple System Atrophy. To be honest, it’s a horrible disease we would wish on no one. Over the past two years, my agile, athletic, and active husband has become wheelchair bound, unable to carry out normal activities of daily life on his own. God faithfully hears our many prayers, and we are confident of several things: He loves us, he hears us, he is all powerful, and he does not make mistakes. He will give us exactly what we need, and this world is not our home.  Every day is a gift. We begin our prayer together in the mornings with Lamentations 3:21-24.
  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Wyndham’s prayer and resolve as he lives with this disease is to be grateful, courageous, and cheerful each day—which he does amazingly well. I told you he was a wise man.

The first piece of wisdom I will share has exuded from his soul since his earliest days as a Christian. It comes from his all-time favorite Bible verse,  1 Timothy 1:5:

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

This is the wisdom he lives by: Living a life for God begins from the inside out. It begins and ends with integrity. Living daily with sincerity of faith, purity of heart, and a clear conscience results in a life of love. Such is the wisdom I have watched him live… day after day.

I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

What Are You Hanging On?

It seemed a good idea at the time. It began late one night as I changed the bed sheets while watching an episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It was a funny episode. Somewhere between the twisting and tugging of sheets and my laughter during the show—I pulled one of my ribs out of place. I’ve done this before so am familiar with the pain. I knew right away what had happened.

Grimacing as I made my way down the stairs to the dark basement in order to throw the sheets into the washer—I had an idea. In the door frame that leads from a room in the basement to my washing machine hangs (what I thought was) a pull-up bar. I often hang semi-dry clothes on this bar to finish drying. I conjectured, for some insane reason, that perhaps if I hung from this bar I could somehow self-adjust my painful displaced rib. Like I said, it seemed a good idea at the time.

Turns out it was not actually a pull up bar, but instead a “tension bar” that is meant to hold nothing heavier than a few shirts on hangers. So, as I jumped up to the bar in the darkness I immediately came crashing down into the laundry basket below, landing awkwardly on my left arm and spraining my left thumb. hangingThe good news was that the rib pain seemed less in comparison to the writhing pain in my now huge, darkened, and throbbing thumb.

Life can be like this. While trying to “fix” something that feels uncomfortable we make things worse if we grasp something not meant to hold us. Fear is stifling. Anxiety can be crippling. Life circumstances often weigh us down. When difficulties in life happen, what do you grasp for? What do you hang on to?

What others think of you? Your job? Your bank account? Your strength and physical appearance? Your identity as a parent? Your friends?

Will these hold you into eternity? Will they hold you up when others disappoint? When health fails? When kids grow up? When hard times come? When we breathe our last?

If we hold on to things that are not secured by God’s strong hand, we will eventually crash to the ground, sustaining casualties far superseding sprained thumbs. Casualties with eternal consequences. Nothing, no one but God is strong enough to hold us “into” eternity.

When I’m fearful, insecure, or anxious—God’s truths are able to hold me. His truths are backed up with power—from the creation of the world, to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, to the way he fills my soul.

When I feel my hands are slipping, nothing helps me more than reading and meditating on truths from God, and truths about God.

When you feel weary…hold on to God’s word, his truths:
 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand,
  through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-2) NRSV (emphasis added)

  He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:14-14) NLT (emphasis added)

Hold on to the hope and confidence of eternal life:

Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12) NLT
 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:14) NIV (emphasis added)
  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23) NIV (emphasis added)

Holding to God’s truths, eternal life, confidence in God, and hope will keep us from falling.

When it gets hard to hold on, never forget that we are not grasping a metal bar—but the hand of a strong and loving God. He will help us, for he delights in us. He is plenty strong to hold us, as long as WE don’t let go.
  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
  They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.
  He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:16-19) NIV

  For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13) NIV