Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 15

Wisdom to Make God Our Strength

By Melissa Miller

I have to confess that as a little girl I would often pretend to be asleep so that my dad would carry me in from the car or from the couch and put me to bed. Burying my head into his chest with my arms around his neck and my legs as limp as a rag doll, I remember breathing in the gentle spice of his Brut aftershave, which will to me always be the fragrance of strong, safe, dad–and  of home. I have never felt a safer place in my life than being carried in the strength of my dad’s arms.

Just the other day my eight-year-old daughter was rummaging through my husband’s dresser to find just the right t-shirt of his to wear to bed. I smiled and savored the moment as I recounted how many times I wanted nothing else to wear to bed but my dad’s t-shirts because they were his and because being in bed clothed in something that was “him” made me sleep sweetly and secure.

From the earliest moments I can remember of being a little girl carried in from the car, to being lifted on his shoulders as a schoolgirl so that I could see over the crowds at a parade, to my teenage years with frizzy hair, braces, acne and lonely times where his shoulder bore my tears, to the embraces before he dropped me off at college, to him carrying me on his arm as he walked me down the aisle and later danced to “Butterfly Kisses,” to him holding my own baby for the first time in his arms, he has constantly carried me through life. 

By myself, I am naturally a guilty person that loves to think of how I should’ve been or what I could’ve said, or what I would’ve done and how I’ll never measure up to what I think is the mark of “rightness.” I can be fearful and anxious, compare myself to others, and find the ways something can’t be done. But from the first times I can remember, I’ve had a real life “championer” of me, telling me how it can be done, how I am enough, that I am worthy, valued, and worth it. This has clothed me in confidence and created the safest place. It has allowed me to let go and be carried by a greater strength than my own.

My dad, almost every time he sees me, tells me how proud he is of me and always expresses the good he sees in me, how valuable I am to him, and that he loves me. There have been so many moments when life has felt unfair, when people have left, when I have no idea what I feel, where friends have moved, or it’s just plain hard to see the truth and I feel sad. My dad has the most uncanny way of drawing out my heart, listening intently as if I am the only human on the planet, empathizing in the most profound way, hugging so it melts me, and yet also gently carrying me back to what is right and good.

Life rarely happens as we plan it and there are many things that can cause me to trip, stumble, and fall. Whether was a scraped knee to a more impressive bike accident or broken bone, the memories I have of my dad carrying me through my tears is what I remember far more than the pain.

It’s the yellow post-it-notes of encouragement from him, stuck to the coffee pot in the early hours of the morning, that gave me strength to keep walking with God that I remember far more than the temporary high school crisis I was facing. It’s the voice on the other end of the line telling me that it would be OK that stayed with with me a hundred times more than whatever difficult problem over which I was distraught.

What amazes me most about him is that through the most difficult challenges of his most cruel disease, he continues to carry me. I think one of the most impressive pieces of wisdom I have gained from this amazing man, who I get to call my dad, is his strength to let me go, and let God be who ultimately carries me and us.

He would give me every one of his t-shirts in a heartbeat, but what he most cares about and through tears has implored is that he in no way ever wants the security that he provides to overshadow the ultimate rock, refuge and “carrier” that God is for me–and that ultimately God is who will carry us home.

I have always felt the luckiest and most blessed that I get to be his daughter. He is immensely humble, inexpressibly kind and gentle, selfless beyond measure, mightily wise, and the strongest man that I know. I am very grateful for his t-shirts and I will cherish the days of wrapping my arms around his neck as hard as I could squeeze, but the wisdom he has imparted and the legacy he is imprinting on my hearts and the hearts of my children to have God as my refuge are eternally profound.

  I love you, O LORD, my strength.
  The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1-2)

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham -14

Wisdom Listens Well Before Responding

by John IIames

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

Over the years I have observed and been inspired by Wyndham’s impartiality with others, his wisdom of relying on the talents of both staff and non-staff to plant and water, and also his laughter and joy in both the mundane and the extraordinary.  

I observed early on in our marriage and while working with him in the ministry that Wyndham was a fair man. On one occasion, while gathering his family for some outing, his older daughter Melissa (probably early middle school to be fair to her) was undone by some issue (use of a cooler??) that from my viewpoint required him to tell her to deal with her attitude and get in the van. He spent time gathering the facts from her, dealt with her presentation, found that she had a very legitimate claim. He then promptly rectified the situation, and everyone went away satisfied. It is difficult for everyone to go away satisfied in any conflict, yet on many occasions, this was the result of his mitigation from a spiritual standpoint (Exodus 18:23…and all these people will go home satisfied).

I was most affected in my own character change by an observation which both Wyndham and Gordon Ferguson gleaned by spending time with my dad playing a few holes of golf. Through their interaction with my family they were able to gain real clarity on my interaction skills with others. Wyndham and Gordon were able to speak directly to what they saw, and to this day that feedback has changed my life significantly.

One fun thought of a shared experience with Wyndham. On one occasion Wyndham and I were driving to a Bible study in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, when he and I got pulled over by a Massachusetts State Trooper. As the Trooper approached the driver side of the mini-van, I made the mistake of asking Wyndham where his registration was located. In this particular car’s make and model the glove compartment was located under the passenger seat.

I reached under the seat to retrieve the document, only within seconds to have my door ripped open with the officer training his gun on both of us.  I still sort of laugh at the picture of both an elder and a minister standing at the front of the vehicle, hands on the hood, being searched while my Bible and papers were blowing outside on the pavement. I enjoyed laughing with him at the juxtaposition of our purpose and the purpose of that officer. BTW – Wyndham was not speeding, it was a random stop of vehicles matching his vehicle’s description for a crime committed in another county.  (Wisdom also keeps a cool head.)

These are just a few thoughts of how my friendship with Wyndham, and his sharing of his wisdom, has changed my life. I believe this has affected the character of my two boys and ultimately how they will raise their future children. Wisdom does that. It changes lives.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 13

Though I love to honor my husband each Wednesday via nuggets of “Wisdom from Wyndham,” my prayer is that the words shared will help paint a vivid and personal picture of Godly wisdom expressed through actions and attitudes, I know that as I have observed such actions and attitudes first hand and have striven to incorporate them into my life–I have grown. I pray these bits of wisdom will enrich your life as well. Jim’s note (below) was written to Wyndham five years ago.

9  And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight
10  to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless,
11  having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.  (Philippians 1:9-11 NRSV)

4 Characteristics of Wisdom

By Jim Blough

Wyndham, we have known you and your family for many years, but have gotten to know you better over the last ten years or so, first by working together when we were still in Northern Virginia, and even more so since we moved back to Boston six years ago.  There are several things that I appreciate about how you live your life as a disciple and as a leader in God’s church: 

  1. Embracing the hard things.  Many of the times we have worked together have involved difficult situations—trying to help struggling Christians restore their faith and relationships, trying to balance conflicting priorities regarding missions and resources, and even trying to determine what God’s will is for my own life and family.  I have always appreciated that you never shrink from these kinds of challenges, but you willingly embrace them and give them your full heart and attention.  I admire and respect that.
  2. A principle-based approach.  Not only do you embrace challenging situations, but I also appreciate how you start with principles when you try to make up your own mind or give direction to others.  Whether in a board meeting, a counseling appointment or a sermon, I find it refreshing that you continually look for godly, Biblical principles that are to guide and shape our decisions and our actions.  Those principles help to give me guidance and stability on my own journey, and I’m sure are helpful to many others as well.
  3. Concern for the individual.  Especially since moving back to Boston, I have been impressed at how much time you and Jeanie spend getting together with individual disciples in the church who are in need.  One time I made a comment at a meeting, and several weeks later you approached me at church to see if we could get together and talk about it.  That showed me you had been thinking about what I said, and it was on your heart to get together and explore those comments further.  That’s the heart of a true shepherd.
  4. The old and the new.  Finally, I appreciate how you have embraced the changes we have all been working on over the past ten years or so in our fellowship.  You believe strongly in collaboration, two-way communication and teamwork, yet you also remain committed to our founding principles of discipleship, commitment to Christ and his mission.  This reminds me of what Jesus said about “practicing the latter without neglecting the former.”  I appreciate that perspective that you bring to your life and leadership.

 

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 – 12

It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.   
Colossians 1:28-29 (NRSV)

Wisdom is not meant to be used merely for ourselves, but to help each other grow to maturity in Christ. This wisdom requires the vision to see who one can become through the power of God.
Jesus used this kind of wisdom throughout his ministry…calling things that were not as though they were. He inspired the men and women around him to become who they were not. Think Simon—the impetuous disciple—whom Jesus nicknamed “Rock.”
May we grow in wisdom to see ourselves and others the way God sees us.

Wisdom Sees Beyond “What Is,” to “What Can Be.”
By Gary Hannon

Wisdom sees beyond “what is,” to “what can be.” Wyndham is one who saw considerably more potential in me than I saw in myself. He is one who has had significant impact in so many areas of my life. Of the many great men who have been part of shaping and molding me over the years, he by far gets the nod for “Best Director.”

Wyndham was one of the three men who studied the Bible with me. A very level-headed discussion with him about “a wrong choice I was currently choosing but could change” was pivotal in helping me see I could overcome my sinful life when becoming a disciple of Jesus.
Wyndham saw potential in me as a teen leader—and with his recommendation I went on to do that for about 15 of the first 20 year of my Christian life…perhaps more.

Wyndham and/or Jeanie at some point suggested that I take this lovely sister, Julia Shropshire, out on a date. I did and then later married her. When Julia was like “Hey, I need some help with this guy and with how he’s doing,” they were there getting us through that rough patch. 

When Wyndham came calling to ask if Julia could come work for HOPE, I gave up my vision of her being a stay at home mom as she fulfilled a dream to design the “Permanent Families” program which has led to many kids getting a new lease on life in a Christian home.
When he had vision for me to become a deacon I said “No Problem,” and have since loved serving in any ways I can.

When Julia’s father was toying with the idea of faith, Wyndham built a friendship with him and gave him all the information he wanted to hear from the Bible. When he got the news he was dying, Wyndham was there, full speed, and gave him a vision for a future with Jesus. The reality that this man could whole heartedly change and became a disciple of Jesus was a miracle that I witnessed…based on Wyndham’s faith and vision. He was there when he was baptized.

And most recently, Wyndham has given me a vision that my son (who just graduated high school) may even have a future as a minister someday. Who knows—stranger things have already happened!

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 11

Wisdom to Impart Confidence in God
By Kristen Shaw Gonet

Two and a half years ago my husband and I and our two children left Massachusetts where I lived five minutes away from my parents and moved to an affluent town in central Connecticut. It’s the kind of town in which, although I’m 36, I can still find myself trying to keep up with the “popular crowd.” My son just finished first grade and my daughter kindergarten and yet I have seen them already compete to be in the highest reading group in their class and struggle when they are not the best on their team at a sport or not wearing the right clothes. It’s overwhelming to try to “keep up” appearances in my community, but I can even feel that same pressure sometimes as a Christian. Am I serving enough; giving enough; have I done all my Christian duties? Being a wife, mom, Christian, and friend can start to feel like a never-ending checklist. 
Growing up, my dad never let life become a list of duties. His Christianity was never a checklist; it was and still is his identity. Although I wanted so badly just to fit in with the rest of the crowd when I was in high school, he constantly reminded me by the way he lived his life that the only ones with whom I needed to fit in were he and God. My dad’s example was so powerful that I never actually had to wrestle with this worldly desire. He made sure I knew I fit perfectly next to him. When I was next to him I was never afraid. He was a protector. Next to him I didn’t have to look a certain way because I never doubted that to him I was beautiful. To him I was strong, funny, a fighter, and smart. Now that I’m raising my own daughter I understand in a way I never could before what a profound gift he gave me.
He has a sixth sense as a dad. He always knew (and still knows now) when my sister and I caught a case of “daddy-itis”. He could sense we were “off” somehow and that we needed time with him. For the two of us, that usually meant a trip to Dunkin Donuts and then a long, often tear-filled conversation in the driveway, talking about everything we were feeling at the time. He would listen to me talk about my current crush unrequited. He would then express to me his own disappointments. He never settled for an “I’m fine” response from me when he’d ask me how I was doing. He would ask more questions or just sit and wait while we drank our hot chocolate until I was ready to talk. He would let me go on for hours about the trials of being a girl in middle school with bad acne. Nothing was off limits and I was never too embarrassed to tell him all the details. It may have been the six sisters he grew up with that gave him such a sensitive heart, but he somehow would find a way to relate to me. I always felt listened to and understood. He would ultimately bring all of it back to Jesus and the Bible. He made Jesus and the Bible so real in those moments. I cling to those talks still today. 
In the busyness of life, I can often want to settle for the “I’m fine” responses from my kids or from my neighbors but I think I inherited my dad’s emotional intelligence and I can’t help but dig deeper. I want to give my kids what my dad gave me. My daughter and I recently read Psalm 139. I want her to have the same confidence in who she is that my dad gave me and I want her to know the true source from which it came. I watched her eyes fill with confidence as she thought about the fact that God made her just as he wanted! When I look at those around me I want to see beyond the “I’m all set” exterior and remember that people just need to be asked the right questions or that sometimes they just need someone to sit and drink hot chocolate with them. This world is full of broken people who need Jesus and the Bible to be made real in their lives. My Dad is my hero and most trusted adviser. Although his voice is softer and he has less strength than he used to, his words remain just as loud in my heart and his strength is just as profound.
__________________________________________________________________
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 – 10

Wisdom Invests in Others’ Lives

                                                             by Jack Frederick

I know Wyndham. He is a friend, mentor, fishing buddy, counselor, shepherd of my soul, minister, football player and family best friend. We spent twenty years together doing all of the above and having fun. Wyndham is maybe two years younger, but perhaps his most important role to me was being like a father to me. Wyndham has always been a man of wisdom beyond his years. When I became a Christian I began to recognize the value of wisdom and sought wisdom for my life, though I considered myself ten years behind the wisdom curve for my age.

I made every opportunity to spend time with Wyndham and Jeanie, seeking to soak up wisdom just being around him. Our families (parents and kids), loved one another from the start and we spent lots of family times doing fun things. Wyndham and Jeanie were our discipleship partners in life and ministry for many years (“discipleship partner” is Greek for ‘good friend,’ or at least it should be). If you’re in a discipling relationship and you don’t build a good friendship then you need to reevaluate and likely repent, because you’re not helping one another as you should. Partner is also an operative word, as discipling partners is a two-way relationship; we share honestly about our lives and we apply scriptures and friendship to disciple one another to become more like Jesus. Wyndham and Jeanie were the best at that. They opened their lives to us and asked us for help just like we were peers, though we knew they had more experience and training. But that was never a barrier to them seeking our insights and help. 

Wyndham’s midweek house church lesson in the fall of 1987 convinced us to move to Boston. Before then we had never met, but it was obvious from that one lesson he was a man of deep conviction, passion, integrity and wisdom. Beyond this it was a blessing/good fortune that they came to live near us a year after we moved to Boston. I trusted Wyndham–probably the first man I learned to trust enough to open my heart and life. He was wise, a man skilled in leading, and yet he took the time to know me. I had friends I loved to whom I owe much, but I had never had a man with such ability and qualities take the time to teach & mentor me, and to be a best friend to me. He wasn’t older than me, but he was far wiser. He was like the father I didn’t have–a father of great wisdom, and a father with a heart and determination to impart to me his wisdom. I feel like an unlikely recipient of a wonderful gift, a man of great ability & wisdom willing to invest himself to help me grow to become the man God wanted me to be. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one he so invested himself into, but I feel fortunate in a special way—in that our families drew us even closer together.

Boston elders a decade or so ago

It has been my experience in both business and spiritual life that no education or training compares with a friend who genuinely invests in helping you grow. I enjoyed friendships with business and university leaders who guided me and shared wisdom, many spiritual advisers, but no one who invested so much or did so much to help me grow as did Wyndham. I wasn’t the Shaws best student, but I may have been their most eager student. Wyndham was like the father I didn’t have growing up. He treated me with respect and helped me know how to be the man God wanted me to become. I worked hard to grow and honor his investment in me and my family. I owe him so much.

We are older now. We moved away from Boston several years ago but the stamp of Wyndham’s influence is etched into my heart. I quote him, I remember him, I speak of him everywhere I go, and his influence shapes how I help others and how I love my family. Age and health problems take their toll, but these have not diminished my love and respect for this man who shaped my life. When I help others I think of what Wyndham did and what Wyndham taught me. He is a great dad in life, as is obvious in his children, and I am indebted to Wyndham that he took the time to be a father influence in my life. I love you brother, happy Father’s Day.– Jack

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 9

Wisdom to Grow Your Heart

By Lexi Miller

My name is Lexi Miller and I am 8 years old and I have the best Papa in the world! I just went on a super awesome vacation with my Papa and I felt a lot more connected than I even did before. I felt a lot more connected because we had a lot of special talks together. In my short 8 years my papa has taught me a lot of how to love people in a great big way. He has shown me how to have a lot of love for the people around me.

My Papa gives me great big hugs, he likes to watch me do cartwheels, he wants to hear how my dance recitals went. He listens when I feel sad and he wants to know about how I’m doing and what makes me happy. I’ve even heard him cry when he talks about how much he loves us. He also gives me treats and was excited to give me money to buy a souvenir on vacation.

Next week my best friend is moving to San Francisco California. This has made me sad and I’ve cried a lot because I’m going to miss her so much. I was telling my mom that I wished we had never met because now it makes her leaving so much harder because I love her so much. But I know that the sadness is worth it because our friendship is so special and my heart is bigger to love. My Papa has taught me to love with my whole heart. Sometimes when things are hard and people leave it can make me very sad but my papa has showed me that loving people in a big way is always worth it and that is very special. Papa has taught me that hugs are important and even tears sometimes. And that is why I am glad to be one of Papa’s Pumpkins as a name that he calls all of his grandchildren and I love him so much!

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________

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 – 8

     Wisdom to Pass on Wisdom

by Emma Miller

There’s something quite indescribable about the family I was born into. I had no control over it, no way to earn it, and never can deserve it. The very start of my family, and a huge reason that I am so grateful to have it, is because of my grandfather, whom I call “Papa.” He is a man unlike any I have ever seen, and I know that I’ve only managed to catch a glimpse of the remarkable man he is. As I get older, I’ve come to appreciate more and more the person and inspiration he is to me, and countless others.

I am the oldest of all of the grandchildren that my grandparents have, and through these past few years, especially after becoming a disciple, I’ve felt extremely grateful for the extra time I have had with them, and that I can be of an age that can see who he is and appreciate the inspiration he gives.

My grandfather blows me away with his faith. The way he handles the health challenges he goes through, the way he teaches people, the way he loves people, and I could go on. I was just on vacation with him and my family, and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him for a while, listening to his story, and hearing pieces of his wisdom. I had prepared a list of questions for him.

He talked to me about the way he stays hopeful, and rooted in Jesus as his foundation–no one else. He keeps his eyes on eternal life, not this earthly life…although he’s had it to the full. He makes his Christianity not just his religion, but his way of life, and trusts that God is preparing a room for him in heaven.

That conversation blew me away, because I got to see how strong he was in the Lord, and I want to imitate that. He fixes his eyes on what is unseen, and that keeps him overflowing with hope and joy amidst health challenges.

I have always thought of my papa as a spiritual, wise man from just watching him, and certainly seeing the way he’s impacted others, like my parents. I got to understand it so much more this past year. I think back to the time when I heard him speak to appoint elders in the Pioneer Valley region earlier in the year, and that day really struck me as I heard of some of the things he’s done. To hear him share his convictions and experiences in being a disciple really hit my heart, and I realized more of what a unique person he is. It made me see the strength and humility he has as I heard him speak, along with the conversation I had with him a few days ago. He is wise as he makes himself low and God highest of high…yet he is a leader,and is bold.

He told me the story of when he was 22 years old, starting off his campus ministry with only 3 disciples. When he was with the church leaders and elders that year, they asked him how many baptisms he thought could happen by faith that year. Everyone thought around 10 people would be exciting, but he said 100. It seemed crazy to them, yet because of God using his faith, that very year sure enough they went from a campus ministry of 3 to that of 100! It was incredible to be able to hear that side of him. He is a leader, and he is a leader when it comes to evangelism. He said to me something like, “I want to be a leader because I want to inspire other people that it can be done.”

His attitude inspires me as I think about going into high school next year, and eventually college. That faith is something I want to imitate. I often pray about the reasons God put me in this family, with the ability to be close to him, and to learn from him. I didn’t have anything to do with it, but I feel grateful for it. I’m so thankful to have this, and to learn “up close and personal” from his faith. I’m inexpressibly grateful to be “Papa’s Punkin” (the nickname he’s called me since I was born), and I want to follow his example.

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.