Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 82

Wisdom Lives Today

I’m often asked, “How are you doing?” This is a loaded question.  I appreciate the question, yet I don’t know how to respond without prefacing my answer with “today.”  Today I am doing okay. Today is the only day I know I have on this earth, though I am confident I have endless spiritual “todays.”  With the progression of Wyndham’s illness, we treasure today—each day. It’s a gift. Because it is precious, I think of today a bit differently than I used to. Things that once seemed important often don’t carry the same value they once did. I know things may get more difficult physically for him, and for me, but we choose not to focus on this. Anticipatory fatigue and anticipatory anxiety are real things. Things we don’t wish to choose. Thus, we focus on today. 

Today I can do the most important things. I can love God and love people. I can be loved by God and be loved by others. Today I can serve, and today I can live out God’s purpose for my life. Today I can strive to help Wyndham have the best today possible. With God, and only with God, I can do today. And tomorrow, I can say the same thing. Living today keeps me focused on what I can be for God and others now and helps rid my mind of worry and regret. I better understand Jesus’ admonition to ask for daily bread. Today my faith must be real. I must live fully in today. I know that many tomorrows will hold various difficult situations because Jesus says, “in this world you will have trouble.”  However, he continues with “I have overcome the world,” so that we can have peace and take heart (John 16:33). Thankfully, this world is not my true home. God planned for us the life before the Fall (when sin entered). As I mention in the book “An Aging Grace,” His lovingkindness and grace kept us from the Tree of Life so we won’t have to stay in a broken world forever. He has something amazing planned. However, to get there I must live well today.

When Wyndham was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy his neurologist lovingly looked at us and said, “You will have the privilege to focus on the things that are most important. You will learn to live the way all of us should live every day.” I could write a whole post on Dr. Khurana and what I’ve learned from him, but I’ll limit this tangent to a few sentences. He has a rare combination of gifts such as listening intently, showing compassion, focusing on the positive, knowing what to say and what not to say, eagerly wanting to help (giving his cell phone number and answering quickly), and building you up.  To add to this he is brilliant, yet humble. He is currently building brains from stem cells (in the Khurana Lab at Harvard…yes, it’s named after him) in order to search for cures for this disease. His team of researchers is making amazing and exciting progress as they seek to match antibodies with wayward proteins, hoping the antibodies will kill the proteins that fold improperly into the cells, thus wreaking havoc on the nervous system. I know this is a tangent, but Wyndham’s neurologist understands the physical value of focusing on today, even while his research is for tomorrow.

Such is wise living. Wisdom understands that focusing (spiritually) today is what prepares us for tomorrow. My faith must be strong today to prepare for unknown tomorrows. How I live today affects how I spend eternity. I must wake up today with a pure focus on loving God and loving people, and being loved by God and by people. Certainly, I get distracted and fall short, but this is my goal each day. The Scriptures below (and many more)  instruct me on today (emphasis added):

  This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24 (NRSV)

  For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!  Psalm 95:7 (NRSV)


  Give us today our daily bread.
Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:11 (NLT)

  The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope. The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. Colossians 1:5 (MSG)

  So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God.
  For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes.
  If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.
  These words keep ringing in our ears: Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.
Hebrews 3:12-15 (MSG)

  Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?
  Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—
  but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.
  So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.
2 Peter 3:11-14 (MSG)

So, I ask— how are you today?

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 78

Wisdom and Abiding Friendship

By Gary Dollar

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7)

It was fall of 1989, near the end of my life, that I met Wyndham.  My family and I were stationed at Fort Devens in Ayer Massachusetts. I was a career soldier enlisting in the Army in 1975, and over the past 14 years, I had become severely addicted to alcohol. My attempts at sobriety for the 10 years leading up to then were futile, including a treatment program at one of the best inpatient centers in the country. I had become hopeless, emotionally hollow, and suicidal. Somehow, I was still alive but my internal organs ached. I was dying.

Even though I was reaping what I sowed and getting what I deserved, my wife Susan, my son Aaron, and my daughter Andrea were innocents and never should have experienced the hell I introduced into their lives…

  • Physical and emotional abuse
  • Fits of rage
  • Infidelity
  • Legal separations and consistent threats of divorce
  • Broken promises to change creating optimism followed by heartbreak
  • Kids living fatherless for much of their adolescent lives
  • Susan living husbandless, in fear and loneliness
  • Hypocrisy – this “man” of the house was a respected and well-liked police officer during all of the insanity, and consequently, they were forced to live the lie outside the home as a happy and healthy family.

Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas this September with a vengeance.  It caused 53 deaths and over 16 billion dollars in damages. It made landfall bringing sustained winds of over 140 mph and overwhelming floods. Those who ignored advice to get out but survived the onslaught were comforted when Florence passed over and continued on her way. But they were oblivious to the devastation until they wandered outside. It will take months, and more likely years, to rebuild—and even so things will never be the same.

In the last half of 1989, Susan and I were introduced to Jesus and became disciples. (Apparently, nothing is impossible with God.) Repentance produced a time of refreshing for the entire family. My external changes were obvious. I stopped drinking and smoking as well as using “Army dialect,” and Susan learned to find peace in God and gain trust in her Father to protect her. The storm that presented our most immediate threats had passed over. But, it was the deep-rooted devastation to our hearts and minds that presented the biggest risk to our future physical and spiritual lives.

Eight weeks after our conversion we were deployed to Germany. Even though I told my new brothers, that “I was all set,” they insisted that Susan and I spend some time with the Shaws for some marriage discipling time before departing. That was the first time we met Wyndham. He was nothing like we expected. We anticipated a stodgy, un-relatable priest-like man who would let us talk for a while and send us on our way with some superficial advice. But he was nothing like we expected. He was unpretentious and kind, and not only opened his home to us but also his heart—much like a loving father. We knew he was a “safe place” He was extremely compassionate and never gave a hint of condescension, arrogance, or superiority. That day Susan and I confessed sin, cried, shared things from our past that we had kept secret for years. He was open with his life and masterfully handled the scriptures laying the Biblical foundation for Godly marriage.  I left his house that day knowing that I had a real friend. While serving in Germany the Shaws would always schedule time with us during the European Missions Conference in spite of the huge roles and responsibilities they had at those events. Each time we met, no matter how long the separation, they treated us like we were together the day before and were always concerned with the progress of our marriage, asking Susan how things were going. I’m not sure why they didn’t ask me…

Sadly, over the years, there have been times when I allowed my past life to resurface. These were some of my darkest moments that at times would cause me in shame to turn my back on God, in some cases for a long time. Wyndham frequently reached out to me and let me know he was praying for me. And the few times where the situation would become desperate—in love, he fearlessly came to my side to encourage and call me back to God. It was those times that led me to repentance, and back to the church family.

   From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 

   God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)

God, in his providence, brought us back to Fort Devens from Germany. I have since retired from the army, moved to a neighboring town near the Shaws, gained further education, entered the civilian workforce, and recently retired. Wyndham and I became the best of friends through all these times. No man has done more to save my marriage, my life, and ultimately my soul. His carrying me through the hard times has created a bond between us that will last into eternity. I am so thankful to God that he determined for me this appointed time in history at this exact place.

There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 RSV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 77

Wisdom Values Team

In case you haven’t heard—our favorite baseball team just won the World Series! (We were, and are, pretty fired up about this.) I emphasize the word “team” for a reason. This Boston team is not a team because they all wear red sox and have their paychecks signed by the same organization. Team means much more to them than this! They function as a team in their attitudes.

Team works together. Team values each other. Team accentuates community rather than individuality. Team sacrifices. Team relies on strengths of others. Team rejoices with another’s success. Team hurts with another’s hurt. Team offers help. Team doesn’t give up on teammates. Team communicates. Team puts the good of the whole above personal gain. Team works hard and plays hard.

Scriptures speak of teamwork again and again, as we are meant to function as a team—in community. God did not plan for us to practice our Christianity in isolation. It’s impossible to practice community in isolation.

  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;
  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
  Live in harmony with one another.
 (Romans 12:4-16a NIV 2011)

Wisdom understands the value of team. I have learned much about teamwork from Wyndham. For as long as I have known him, he has valued and practiced team-building. When first leading in campus ministry he always planned the ministry with a team. He pulled in campus students for planning devotionals, had lunch together with the guys, and consulted them while coaching them. He prayed, played, and did the work of the ministry together with them. He believed in them when they didn’t believe in themselves. I remember one conversation (as the ministry was growing quickly) with a brother who knew some Bible but was a new Christian. Wyndham told him he needed him to lead a Bible study group and take on responsibility. The brother assured him that he wasn’t ready for such responsibility. Wyndham told him he knew that quite well, but he was needed anyway—he was the only one he had for the job needed. God would help him. Wyndham encouraged him and walked with him, and this brother in Christ (along with many other young Christians), took on more and more responsibilities. Many of these campus students became ministers after they graduated college and remain in the ministry today, over forty years later. Throughout later ministries, Wyndham practiced the same things, because he deeply values team.

Often the older Christian and ministry leader, he has always felt the need for team. He knew he didn’t have all the answers, and that we were all learning together. While he wasn’t afraid to lead, he was inclusive. He asked advice and sought ideas, because he valued the thoughts of others–in ministry and in life. We invited most anyone we were around into our marriage and family, asking for their input whenever we were bumping, in raising kids, or even for reassurance that we were thinking well. Wyndham always included me in his thinking, eager for my input and thoughts, and let me how deeply he valued them. He still does, even though conversation is difficult because of his speech. He was inclusive, open, and eager for our kids to be part of the family team. We can’t feel like part of a team if we don’t feel needed, valued, or appreciated. Building team can’t be faked or formularized. It begins with humility.

Our beloved Red Sox have exemplified team. Their manager (Alex Cora), whether he knows it or not, has used Godly principles of team-building, as described in this excerpt from an article by Jim Hackett, written for WEEI radio.com on October 25.

When I watch what everyone labels as magic coming out of Cora this postseason, I rather see the sum of eight months of building belief in his players and that faith and strategy coming perfectly to fruition…

…Cora doesn’t look at what Ian Kinsler or Sandy Leon can’t do or what they haven’t been doing. Oh no. Cora…looks at what these players can do and thoughtfully places them in positions to succeed at what is consistently turning out to be just the right time…

… Maybe he’s smarter than other managers or more prepared. Maybe he just has razor sharp instincts or perhaps a lucky rabbit’s foot, but I don’t think so.

I think Cora works on looking for the value in each and every one of his players and started doing it the day he was hired. He finds it and lets the player know it. He lets his players know without a shadow of a doubt, that this particular skill or strengths he sees is important and that the team is going to need it.

What happens from there? Magic? No, the confidence in the player builds and builds and when the moment for magic comes, that player is ready. Find it, confirm it, reaffirm it, and use it. Then just wash, rinse and repeat.

And this championship team was built simply from practicing principles God has always known and established. Imagine what can happen when we join with God’s Spirit to build up the body of Christ. Nothing, no nothing, can stand in the way of what God can do through the power of His team. Wisdom values team.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 76

Wisdom Reads

Though Wyndham was always an excellent student, in elementary school he was occasionally chastised by teachers for reading. Yes, you read correctly. It seems he would creatively have his “correct” school textbook open while reading a biography tucked neatly inside of his textbook. He would keep reading this way until the teacher noticed—or until he had read all the biographies in the library, which he did. His love for reading continued through the years.

Wyndham is in good company. Certainly, Jesus was an avid student of the Old Testament, as he quoted it often. Also, we know the Apostle Paul greatly valued “books.”

Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
  I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
  When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
(2 Timothy 4:11-13)

I’m reminded of Wyndham’s love of reading tonight as we watch our beloved Red Sox in the World Series. (Stay with me, Los Angeles friends.) Wyndham had no television when he was growing up, so he read. His parent’s “no television” choice had one exception. Every year, for the World Series, his dad would rent a television. This was a big event. The World Series is still a big event in this house.

Reading helps us gain wisdom. Of course, nothing surpasses the importance of reading the Bible. I love reading the Bible but must fight to read it simply to hear God speaking to me. It’s easy for me to read it for teaching purposes, or for ways I can share it with someone else. All good. But, the most important way for me to read the Bible is to really let the Spirit speak to me. In the quiet (or even the noise), God is always speaking to me. Then, I must ruminate on what he says…concentrating on what he speaks to my heart. God’s Spirit communicates.

Today I read a Facebook post by Jonathan Laing, quoting his young daughter saying she was “Missed— Underheard,” thinking she was saying “misunderstood.” I thought this was a brilliant perspective of “misunderstood.”  I wonder how often God feels like he is altogether missed. And, underheard.

Reading shows that we desire to learn. Reading expands our imagination and gives us new perspectives. Reading makes us think, and if we let it—makes us better. I love reading spiritual books and am energized and called higher by many books. Sadly, Wyndham can no longer hold a book to read, so I read to him. This has resulted in an unforeseen blessing. Most nights I read some Scriptures out loud, or at times read something I have read in a book I know he would appreciate. I have learned that reading out loud adds a new dimension to reading, which is good. “Community reading” gives us the opportunity to grow together.

I must close here. The World Series is on, and this is no time to read…or write.

If you would be so kind, in your comments feel free to share a spiritual growth book that has served you well, and perhaps something about the book. I’ll post a collection. Happy reading, and go Red Sox.

My husband is a good sport with my photo requests.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 73

Wisdom Finds What It Can Do

Life is full of transition, and change is hard. When life changes, do you mull over what was and can no longer be? What you could do and can no longer do?

Transitions happen in many ways:

A move often means we can no longer rely on physical visits with close friends we once enjoyed, or enjoy scenery and landmarks to which we were accustomed.

Personal projects or dreams may run into closed doors, tempting us with discouragement.

Health failure can make most everything we once enjoyed impossible to do—going places, traveling, visiting with friends, sports, and much more.

Job changes might be good, or they may mean we no longer enjoy a job that seemed a “perfect fit.”

Job losses or financial setbacks can mean we no longer enjoy a dinner out, but instead, wonder how to keep food on the table.

Loss of loved ones changes so many things about every part of life. What felt good and right can quickly turn into to an uncomfortable loneliness.

Transitions must be grieved. This is needed. However, without wisdom, we can travel down a sad, sinking spiral. Transitions are so much better with wisdom. Wisdom finds what it can do, rather than what it cannot do.

Wyndham can’t do much of anything he once could do. Even basic conversation is hard since his speech no longer works well.  In all the transitions, I can be tempted to list in my mind things he/we can no longer do. But what good is that? Wyndham decided (from the time he began “crossing off” things he once enjoyed doing but can no longer do) to focus on what he still can do. Wisdom tells him there is no benefit in focusing on what he can’t do. Wisdom tells me the same thing.

Wisdom focuses on what can be done, not what can’t be done. It’s a good exercise, no matter the difficult transition, to focus on what we can do.

We can love.

We can be loved.

We can appreciate God’s creation. If we are blind, we can hear, touch, and smell it. If we are deaf, we can see it. If we have lost all senses, we can feel love in our soul and the kiss of God from the wind. 

We can notice the good in people.

We can be thankful.

We can pray.

We can meditate on what is true, trustworthy, worthy of praise, honorable, pure, and lovely.

We can hope.

We can imagine being with God forever.

We can laugh and cry.

We can feel.

We can hear the words of God.

We can pray some more.

No matter what transitions we face, these are things we can do. No one can take these from us.

When we have this wisdom, what we can do will be more than enough.

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.    (Romans 8:35-39 NIV2011)

And, as the Message version states these last verses:

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow,
high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 59

Wisdom Doesn’t Know What to Do

Wisdom means we always know what to do, right?

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

That’s why wisdom prays.

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

In having no answers, he had THE answer.

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

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

                                                                                                (2 Chronicles 20:12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisdom prays.

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

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

God’s Presence is what really matters.

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 54

Wisdom Values Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisdom knows that God remembers.

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

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

Wisdom knows “we count” to God.

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

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

God knows. He cares. And so should we.

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

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

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

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

Wisdom notices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.

Trusting Through the Stink

Every so often you receive an email that resonates in a particularly meaningful way. The following is from one of our friends who wages a daily battle with her oldest daughter’s health challenges. Her daughter suffers from a brain tumor that was diagnosed in her second year of life and which can’t be removed. She suffers daily and intense seizures. Now twelve years old, she has been through numerous surgeries, chemo, and myriad treatments. Daily life is a challenge.

Angela sent the following note to my husband. Her perspective is valuable, and I asked her permission to share these words of encouragement—as I believe this message needs to be shared:  

“I can’t know what life is like for you right now. I am sure it is disappointing and ever so distressing to have your life end up like this. It is not fair. It flat out stinks. So many have depended on you for so much. You are an amazing minister and elder. Our family has benefited from your kindness and spiritual gifts many times. I hope that this email will in a small way return the favor.

When Alexa first got sick I thought sooner or later our lives would go back to “normal.” I would return to being a lawyer, Alexa would return to being a healthy kid, our finances would be restored, and my marriage would no longer be stressed. It is now 10 years later—none of those things are true.

However, what I once saw as the complete ruining of my life, I now realize has led me to a true and deep relationship with God. As a result, there is a closeness in my family that can only be born from the struggles between life and death. From experiencing high hopes to spirit crushing defeats, God has held my family and our faith together. He will do the same for you.

I will not sugar coat words or say that everything will be fine if you just pray or think happy thoughts. In these type of situations there will be disappointments and heartbreaks. There are times you may feel you can’t go on, times when you think, “Where is God?” But he is there.

Proverbs 3:5-6 helped me immensely “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit your ways to him, and he will make your ways straight.”

This Scripture helped me come to the realization that I could never understand why all this disappointment and heartache was present in our lives. God’s understanding surpasses mine by miles. Once I truly surrendered to the desire to know and understand why all of this was happening I was freed. It was no longer up to me to return our lives to the way they once were.

You have an incredible spirit Wyndham—one that has helped so many through so much. Your spirit will help you through this. It is so easy to think down about yourself during these times. Once I was no longer able to practice law due to our daughter’s needs, I felt useless for years.  I thought there was no way for me to help the Kingdom and that my God given talents would be wasted. I was so wrong. When you are dealing with a chronic and debilitating illness you have the opportunity to truly show the depth of Christ’s love for us. Psalm 34:18 was my mantra for ages. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

I have felt closer to God in the past few years, honestly more so then when I first became a disciple—because I am brokenhearted. You may be too. There will be so many opportunities for you to show doctors and other patients the completely healing love of Christ through your faith and belief.”

Thank you for sharing your heart, Angela. I believe it will minister not just to us, but to many others.  I close with an excerpt from a song by Lauren Daigle entitled, “Trust in You.”

“…Mighty warrior, king of the fight
No matter what I face you’re by my side

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you

Truth is you know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead you have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what you want Lord and nothing less

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
You plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you.”