Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 58

Wisdom Believes in People

By Leigh Kinnard

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

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

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

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

Wyndham, Jeanie, and Mitch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 57

Wisdom Sticks with God—No Matter What

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Am I still called to forgive?

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

Am I still to live a life of purity?

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

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

God is always true no matter what anyone else does.

His word is still true.

His plan is still true.

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

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

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

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

Wisdom knows that God is true, no matter what.

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 56

Wisdom Believes “Even If” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even if.

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

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 55

Wisdom and the “Gold Standard”

By Gordon Ferguson

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 53

Wisdom Knows That Less Is Often More

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

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

Oh, to be that wise.

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

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

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

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

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

Wisdom knows that many times, less is more.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 52

Wisdom Brings Resolution

Have you ever been in an awkward or difficult conversation, felt badly about it, and yet never spoke of it again—dropped, as if it had never happened?

Or, have you had a conflict and decided that silence is golden—and then placed the unresolved conflict in your museum of golden-silent- unresolved conflicts?

Or, have ever stored unresolved feelings in your heart? Then, a family member or friend asks if you are okay and you answer, “I guess. I dunno.” You leave it at that.

Or, have you asked your kids what happened in a certain situation, or asked them what was troubling them—only to receive a blank stare?

Nothing gets mentioned again. Unfinished.

The thought often prevails…If I don’t talk about it, it will just go away by itself.

It rarely does. We store these little unresolved snapshots in our head until they become full blown photo albums in our minds. As a result we feel weird with certain people, try to avoid them, or retreat into a cone of silence—our hearts unexposed. Unresolved.

Wisdom brings resolution to conflicts, unresolved feelings, and qualms.

 A valuable bit of wisdom I have observed and learned from Wyndham is his commitment to bring anything unresolved to “real” resolution. Stating the obvious. Addressing the elephants parked in the living rooms. Speaking the truth in love.

In bringing resolution, a relevant scripture and heart felt prayer would open and close the discussions.

He would ask the person(s): What would resolution look like for you? What do you need in order to be resolved?

Then, conversations—with the backdrop of Jesus’ heart and attitudes as the goal in mind, would begin. The conversations, however difficult,  had to be honest, or there could be no progress.

5  The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5 NIV 2011)

Words of resolution were always needed: Are you resolved? The situation at hand would beg the question: Does there need to be a heartfelt apology—as in… I am sorry. Please forgive me? If so, is the apology accepted? For real?

“I dunno” was never an acceptable answer to “what’s wrong?” This is a common answer, especially from kids to parents. Wyndham wouldn’t force our kids to reveal what was going on in their heart, but instead drew them out. This took time, and it took convincing that he was a safe place. Creating a safe place comes from reassurance, a listening ear, ability to relate, sharing how you understand, or want to understand, vulnerability, and unconditional love. At times, “I dunno,” is an excuse for not wanting to talk, while at other times the person may genuinely not know what is inside, and needs help figuring this out.

Never let feelings linger unresolved. If you can’t get something resolved, get help from a trusted (and spiritual) friend and adviser. Living rooms are much more livable when they are not inhabited by elephants. Vulnerability is hard, but brings freedom from deep inside. Jesus’ words and principles are always true, such as in John 8:32. …the truth will set you free.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 51

Wisdom Keeps the Doors Open
By Jimmie Brunson
Reading the Wednesdays with Wyndham series, one can’t help but understand that Wyndham loved to fish.  As his brother-in-law for 40+ years, I have had the blessing of sharing in some of the fishing adventures and contributing to the legacy of fish stories that made their way to the memory books.
One of my favorite quotes is,  “Fishing is not so much about catching fish, but being in places where fish are likely to be.” Over the years, Wyndham and I fished together and we enjoyed catching fish, but more importantly, we experienced the joy of being together as friends and brothers in Christ. Being committed fishermen, we have fished in calm seas and rough seas, in daylight and darkness, and with many other friends. Fishing together provided many memories of spending time together and enjoying the blessings of life which God has so richly provided.
I have always appreciated the perspective which Wyndham shared with me. Living a thousand miles apart, our time together was limited to times when we traveled north to Boston or when Wyndham and Jeanie traveled south to Florida. I have always appreciated being able to pick up where we left off from our previous visit as though time had not been a factor in our relationship. 
Fishing with Wyndham meant time to focus on important things in addition to catching fish.
Wyndham has a great understanding of boundaries and when to speak and when to listen.  As an elder, he shared with me about the need for fellow elders to be open to one another and be willing to hear what others had to say. He stressed the need for openness and accountability, and honesty and vulnerability.  He has always been able to blend his experiences with God’s word, and his love for others. His gentleness and humility have allowed him to have relationships that transcend the norm.
I always appreciated that we could have a conversation and Wyndham would offer his thoughts without passing judgment. That quality allowed him to keep the doors open for further conversation.  That being said, he was not reluctant to speak the truth in love and encourage others to do the same. He has the ability to be helpful without taking over.
17  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
18  Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:17-18).
Wyndham and I share a very special bond, along with Bob Harrell, and (the late) Wayne Martin. The four of us were answers to prayers which Dick and Martha Whitehead prayed on behalf of their daughters Carolyn, Kay, Barbara, and Jeanie. They prayed that God would bless each of their daughters with Christian men who loved God and loved their daughters. The four daughters and the four sons-in-law shared the legacy of having Dick and Martha Whitehead as parents. We have all experienced the joy of Christian hospitality, loving relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the joy of reaching out and bringing others into a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  We have also experienced the blessings of grace-filled marriages, loving children, and exceptional, adoring grandchildren. Jesus said that ” I have come that you might have life and have it to the full (abundantly).” Yes, we have all been truly blessed and I am very grateful to Wyndham for everything he has contributed to the Whitehead family and legacy.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 50

Wisdom Offers a Safe Place

Do you remember being scared as a child and running to a parent’s embrace? Or being caught in a storm and reaching the warm safety of shelter? Or, have you sat white-knuckled on a turbulent airplane flight welcoming sweet relief as wheels touch the ground?

Safe at last.

An important place to find. A needed feeling to feel.

Without it we are anxious, agitated, and afraid.

While God is our true safe place, when someone reflects his qualities they offer an aura of safety, approachability, and confidence. A safety that is grounded in the safe place they have found in him.

4  One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:4-5)

Wyndham has oft been described, for good reason, as a safe place.

When difficult situations arose, he was a first point of contact. When someone needed help with a relational difficulty, he was called on to help sort it out. When people were hurting, his integrity, his hugs, and the wisdom of his words brought “safety” to many. He has provided a safe place for me, for his kids, for his grandkids, the church, and his neighbors and friends. (Only the fish aren’t safe with him.)

32  The evil of bad people leaves them out in the cold; the integrity of good people creates a safe place for living. (Proverbs 14:32 MSG)

When I reflect on ways Jesus, full of grace and truth, was a safe place several encounters stand out to me.

The Apostle John referred to himself as the one whom Jesus loved. This scene in John 13 is quite incredible. Jesus, the creator of the world and the Son of God was troubled—sharing his heart with his friends as they ate together.

John felt safe enough to ask the obvious. He felt safe enough to lean his body against Jesus. He felt the safety of assurance of Jesus’ love for him.

21  After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22  His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.
23  One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.
24  Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25  Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:21-25 NIV 2011)

Jesus was vulnerable. He shared his heart. He shared meals. He sat on the floor with his friends. He gave affection. He told the truth.

In another instance, a crowd of religious law keepers and leaders brought out a woman caught in adultery, intent on stoning her. As the account is given (John 8:1-11)  we see Jesus’ interactions with the crowd as well as the shamed and guilty woman. He treated her with dignity, did not “side” with the religious leaders but offered grace (and truth). He reached the hearts, dispersing the crowd—and bringing hope to the shamed woman.

Sometimes he spoke the truth while looking at someone with eyes that exuded love. Other times he called outcasts by name, or made a point to touch them. He wept.

One of my friends, sitting behind us, took this picture during a church service a couple of years ago. I was not feeling well that day and rested my head on Wyndham’s shoulder. On his other shoulder, our dear friends’ special needs daughter rested her head. As Wyndham imitates Jesus, he offers a safe place. 

What does being a “safe place” look like?

Wisdom that offers a safe place:

  • Makes an individual feel loved, because they are loved.
  • Expresses affection.
  • Is vulnerable and approachable.
  • Shows respect.
  • Listens well.
  • Seeks to redeem, rather than condemn.
  • Validates one’s value.
  • Doesn’t assume the one who might appear “more religious” is right, but practices Proverbs 18:17.
  • Speaks the truth while leaving one full of hope.
  • Points to the ultimate safety which is found in God alone.
  • Understands that we are living for something beyond this life.

Wisdom offers a safe place.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 49

Wisdom Loves to Fish

By Jack Frederick

Fishing is not easy.  If you don’t love to fish then fishing is often not fun. It’s only fun when the fish are biting and when you’re catching fish if you don’t love to fish. I never knew anyone who loved to fish like my friend Wyndham.  Many times we drove at 4 am to Gloucester (MA) to fish from the jetty, a long rock wall fabricated from very large blocks of stone as a barrier to protect boats from sea waves.

We often took our sons Steven and Sam. Wyndham and Steven love fishing. Jack and Sam liked to go fishing when the fish were biting. By sunrise Jack would lie sleeping on the huge rocks in the warm sun while Wyndham and Steven fished. Sam would entertain himself catching starfish with his bare hands in the shallow water. 

Jesus promised his followers he would make them fishers of men.  Many of them had been fishermen by trade; they probably liked fishing when they caught fish since they could sell the fish and earn a living.  Some, or at least Simon Peter, demonstrated my ‘like for fishing’ that day when Jesus was teaching by the shore.  When Jesus asked Simon (Peter) to put out to catch some fish Peter grumbled, “we been fishin’ all night and haven’t caught a thing”….but if you say so we will go fishing.  They caught so many fish their nets began to break and the boats began to sink. (Luke 5:1-11)

Wyndham is that kind of fisherman…when others have been fishing all day and caught nothing he can walk up and begin catching fish. Lots of fish. Big fish. I don’t know how it works, I just like to go fishing with him…I catch fish, too. 

Wyndham is a fisher of men like Jesus. He is good at that, too.  I always liked fishing for men with him. I learned from him how to fish for men the way Jesus said we would. We caught lots of fish, big fish and little fish. Sometimes the nets got full, sometimes we had to call off our weekly Bible Talks where we invited visitors to come and learn because we had so many people studying the bible to learn about Jesus that we didn’t have time for Bible Talks.  Besides, that’s why you have Bible Talks, so you can invite people to come and learn more about God.

Jesus knew Peter and his friends were fishermen. He knew they caught fish, at least sometimes. But he knew they needed to learn to love to fish so he showed them how. And in so doing Jesus promised to teach them how to fish for people. These “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13) learned from Jesus how to fish for men, how to be good at it, and how to be effective at fishing for men. They learned to love fishing for men.

Not sure I ever learned to love fishing, but I learned from my friend Wyndham to love fishing for men. I learned the value God placed on the men and women we taught to know God. I learned to be good at fishing, effective at fishing because God so values each person we help. The overwhelming reason I love fishing is because I feel such deep gratitude for the salvation God gave me through knowing him and his son Jesus whom he sent (John 17:3).

The world desperately needs to know God. People face so many hardships and troubles. We read about them all the time in the news.  We see politicians and leaders decry the pain, and scramble to identify what they think causes problems in our society. Some things are evident, but at the heart of all this hardship is our need to know God and how he wants us to live.

We need more fishermen who understand, more fishermen with the courage to turn the world upside down. Whether we are “unschooled and ordinary” or well educated it doesn’t matter, we just need fishermen with faith so that God can work powerfully in their lives to help others. We need fishermen who love to fish, fishermen who love the people they are fishing for…fishing to rescue from the darkness of this life.

I wasn’t born loving to fish, I had to be taught…and I had to be willing to learn.  The world is crying out for help. The people around you are crying out for help. You may think otherwise if you live in a ‘religious place’ as I do. In that case pray for God to open your eyes to the need and to the harvest which is ripe on every corner.  The question is not how well or how willing you are to speak, the question is…are you willing to learn to love others as much as Jesus did?  He said, “By this will everyone will know you are my disciples, because you love one another” (John 13:35). 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 48

Wisdom Never Gives Up

No, this is not a pregnancy announcement. However, to me this little outfit is pregnant with meaning. (So. the picture does not show how little the shirt is. Trust me, it’s little. My arm is only so long.)

No one knows (until now) the meaning behind this little boy outfit. It is a personal “stone of remembrance” for me, representing a time of desperation and faith—of disappointment and discovery.

The week of August 10, 2016, was full of hope and excitement for me and my family. My son and daughter-in- law would find out the gender of their third child, already having two girls. We prayed and fasted for God to give them a boy, and I was confident God would answer accordingly.

We also awaited a procedure that was thought to be a cure for Wyndham’s then unknown disease. I envisioned taking down the wheelchair ramp and giving away all the medical mobility equipment we had acquired. I had no doubt God would answer this miracle prayer, as I never gave up. Sam and Leigh Ann would have their son, and Wyndham would be healed. I bought this little boy outfit that says “Never Give Up” to give to them upon the news of a son. I had complete faith God would answer both requests with a resounding “yes.” It made perfect sense. After all, God would be glorified.

However, the cupcakes in the gender reveal were pink, not blue. Wyndham’s surgical procedure not only showed there was no cure after all, but brought on severe complications. He stayed in recovery a very long time because the doctors thought he had suffered a stroke. Disappointment was thick— heavy with confusion. You see, I had never doubted. I never gave up. What happened, God? I never gave up!

Wyndham recovered from the surgery, but not the disease. I tucked the little outfit away, as I still believed God would surprise us at the baby’s birth—the ultrasound would be wrong. “Never Give Up” would prevail! After all, we had been so disappointed with the surgery outcome, didn’t we at least deserve blue cupcakes?

However, beautiful little Colette was born December of that year. I have not yet given her the outfit, but I will in time for summer. (Surely summer will come. I won’t give up!) It will work for a girl, too. (Stay with me, we are forever grateful for sweet Colette.) “Never give up” has taken on a new meaning for me since this time. A much deeper meaning

I am reminded of this deeper meaning after long observing Wyndham’s wisdom. Wisdom that told  him to never give up. I’ve seen him persevere through all kinds of adversity. I’ve watched him never give up when he was opposed for speaking the truth. I have seen him face deep discouragement and watched him never give up. I have seen him dismissed from a preaching job, with a baby on the way, no insurance, place to go, or savings—and never give up. I have heard him pray desperate prayers, and never give up. I watched him believe that campuses and cities and neighborhoods were truly ripe for harvest, and never give up. I have seen him believe in and counsel hurting marriages—and never give up. Now, I see him barely able to talk, and yet engage and share his love and convictions—and never give up. I watch him unable to do anything he once could do—and never give up. Many in his situation would have given up. He will never give up. He will live for whatever God has called him to do every day he has, without giving up.

Yes, I bought this outfit to celebrate my victoriously answered prayers. I faithfully reasoned,…if I never give up praying and believing I  will see God answer my desperate pleas.  Those pleas were answered, just not how I had first hoped.  Little Colette (Coco) was meant to be a Shaw. And now no one would ever wish it differently.  She has a will of steel. I am confident God has great plans for her. Wear this little outfit proudly, Coco. You were the answer to prayer, and we are all grateful. 

As for Wyndham’s illness….I can’t say I am grateful, but I am surrendered, and I trust. I see God at work in mysterious ways. I still believe God is able to heal him. So far God has said “no.” I don’t know why and may never know. Thus, “never give up” takes on even greater meanings. When you are disappointed, never give up.

12  We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (1 Corinthians 13:12 MSG)

Whatever the circumstance, Wyndham hasn’t given up, and neither shall I.

When you are disappointed, never give up.

As long as you have breath in you, never give up.

When you are doing good and opposed, never give up.

When you fail once again, never give up.

When you can’t see your way and things look hopeless, never give up.

When you can’t find an answer, never give up.

When you think God hasn’t heard you, never give up.

He is there. He is with us. He never gives up on us. Wisdom never gives up. Wisdom knows the reward that lies beyond disappointment.

35  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
37  For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.
38  But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
39  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:35-39)

39  But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.  (MSG)

No matter how tempted you are to quit. Keep going. Crash though those quitting places. And never, ever give up.

Wisdom never gives up.