Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 50

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.






Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 47

Wisdom Finds Spiritual Heroes

By Kevin Miller

Several months ago I was on the phone helping a friend and fellow disciple with his marriage—communication, emotional intelligence, patience—this kind of stuff.  This brother and I had known each other in the faith for over two decades, and after helping him I felt satisfied that I had done a good job in the conversation. The feeling of self-satisfaction was short lived though, as my friend commented, “Boy, I sure am glad you married into Wyndham’s family, otherwise you would never know how to help with this kind of stuff!”  I smiled on the other end of the line, humbly knowing that this was most certainly true.

And this is true of so many areas of my life.  The challenge of writing one blog on wisdom that Wyndham has passed on to me–is that he has passed on so much. Is there an area of my life that he hasn’t touched?—I couldn’t tell if there is one.

I met Wyndham in Paris. I was 22 years old and had just finished taking his daughter out on our first date.  I think I was petrified to speak to him, as any young dreamer would be in front of a hero whom they’d heard so much about. Two years later his daughter, Melissa, and I would marry. Since then two decades of life have flown by.

Over the course of that time babies would come, more in-laws, more babies, spiritual victories, church crisis, family vacations, buying homes, selling homes, successes, failures, and lots of life.  Through it all Wyndham has gone from the intimidating hero of a young man to a mentor, trusted advisor, father figure, co-worker, partner, friend, and ultimately the best of friends. 

Throughout the last decade there is very little we did not talk about—family, personal challenges, parenting, marriage, the Kingdom, Jesus, and church building at every angle. I cherish it all.  Who am I that I have gotten to sit at the feet, or in the fishing boat of this man (although in the boat there is surprisingly less conversation that you might think; fishing with Wyndham was more intense than you might expect fishing could be).



When forced to narrow down one piece of wisdom that I would share from my time with Wyndham it would  be that this world needs spiritual heroes.

If you were to ask my son for Wyndham’s favorite scripture he would say:

 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

A spiritual hero is a man who takes care of these three areas of his inner life. He protects his heart, maintains a biblically lead conscience, and is real as he does it. Over the course of Wyndham’s life he has modeled this kind of a life and has encouraged me to do the same.  This is the kind of man the world needs, and it’s the kind of man he has been for over four decades.

Wyndham was a young evangelist in the 1970s. He was the first campus minister sent from the Crossroads campus ministry to see God bring over a hundred baptisms in one year on one campus.  From the day that I met him, he has been a radical man filled with radical convictions.


Wyndham is also an elder extraordinaire.  His deep impact in this area is felt worldwide. I have long observed that when people are hurting, when their marriage is in trouble, when they can’t figure out their kids, Wyndham is on the short, short list of men that people call. And he helped to establish elderships filled with these kinds of men, literally all over the world.

It is in this blend of radical man and understanding shepherd that I have found Wyndham’s wisdom.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

As I get older I feel increasingly challenged by the fact that Jesus was the perfect balance of God’s glory, full of both grace and truth. Many of us naturally gravitate toward one aspect of Jesus’ character. Perhaps we are a naturally compassionate person, or maybe we are someone who embodies the revolutionary side of Jesus’ personality—turning tables and confronting sin. Jesus was full of both grace and truth, two characteristics that seem diametrically opposed to one another. But, in Jesus they both took root equally well.

Unhealthy extremes exist in all corners, in the world and in the church. The amazing thing about Jesus was that he was the perfect blend of so many qualities you might think could not exist in the same man.  He was filled with zeal, but also touched the leper. He drove out the money changers with a whip, but also wept over a dying boy and his mother.

Wyndham comes closer to the Jesus blend than anyone else I’ve met. He believes in risk taking, Kingdom seeking, radical heroes—and that churches need to be raising young people up, sending them out and giving them responsibilities.  But he also believes that we needed to be wise and compassionate, considering others’ needs and led by the humility of older men. He believes in strong and authoritative leadership, but also in consensus leadership and listening to the words, needs and feelings of people.  He believes in strong leaders but also in deep relationships.

It’s always struck me how easily it is for big personalities with big gifts to do what they do and to shut out voices that are different.  But that’s not what I’ve learned from Wyndham’s wisdom.  His deep love for Jesus and for the word of God has lead him to be a man that strives to build a life and a church that glorifies, obeys, and follows God in all the areas God commands, not just the ones that are easy for him, or that he is doing well in at the time.

Because of this, he is unifier. He has been a leading voice in his generation during his sojourn here on earth. This is what I want to be as well—a spiritual man and a spiritual hero. Wyndham is mine. 






Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 46

Wisdom Imparts

By Justin Gonet

A month or so ago, my family and I stayed at the Shaw house for a weekend as we often do these days.  That Saturday night Wyndham wanted to teach my son, Micah, an impromptu lesson about fishing—to impart the tenets of the sport that’s been a big part of his life from an early age.

The scene that ensued was mildly heart-wrenching—my father-in-law there in his wheelchair in the living room, his grandson on a child-sized yellow folding chair in front of him with his yellow note pad in hand, taking in every word and jotting down the key points. While my wife fought back tears, I gathered that there was an intense expression of love transpiring between master and pupil. 

Wyndham is passionate about fishing. If you could watch him in action on a boat with a rod and reel in his hands, you would soon realize his love of the sport goes far beyond hobby. His drawn-out fishing trips with his friends and family are the thing of legend.

What is amazing about Wyndham is that as he loved fishing so much, and similarly loved people, he couldn’t help but want others to participate with him.  He found so much joy in fishing that he didn’t really care what you thought of it, he just wanted you to experience it too!  Fishing brought a peace and freedom that drove him—in the midst of the waves and the shouting of orders at lesser mates.  I’ve never seen such a thing before, nor have I ever been able to achieve it personally.

I believe he understood there was a deeper, intrinsic value in fishing than just the sport itself.  It brought a comradery. It seemed the longer and more arduous the trip, the deeper the bonds that eventually developed. 

But as I watched my son in the midst of this lesson, I believed there was something else going on.  Wyndham was now trying to pass on to my son what he believed was of utmost importance. There was something about this sport he has enjoyed for so many years that he felt he had to pass this on to Micah, even after his own ability to participate has left him.

Wyndham loves to pass things on.  Recently, we acquired two fishing poles from his vast collection for Micah’s further benefit.  A few years ago Wyndham bought a chainsaw and became a bit of a travelling wood-cutter-for-hire in order to boost his firewood stock.  This past Christmas I received a new chainsaw as a gift from him, and an unwritten invitation to pick up where he had left off.  Eight years ago, when his own dog, Jordan, was growing “long in the tooth,” he brought golden retriever puppies home from Colorado for my family and Sam’s family so we could train them in Jordan’s shadow.

Having lived with my wife for close to 10 years now, I’m beginning to realize the breadth of Wyndham’s ability to impart.  He is a peerless dad to his kids.  My wife’s ferocious loyalty to him is a testament to this. So much of how we love and discipline our children is based on the example that was set by him, long before I ever met him.

But there is one thing Wyndham is even more passionate about delivering to others than fishing or family, and that is the Gospel.

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 the Bible says, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.”

For over forty years, he has sought to embody the simple facts that Paul spells out in this scripture.

The Gospel is hard to believe; to live by it an even more difficult calling. It is not the popular opinion; it is a narrow road.  Wyndham’s life’s work has been to pass the gospel on to others.  But beyond that, he’s helped me understand that the gospel is so powerful it must pervade every aspect of our lives once we receive it.  It is not only the path of our salvation, but it becomes our code of conduct until that salvation is realized in the end.  It’s our source of faith but also our ability to forgive; it’s our hope in the life to come, but it defines the way we treat others now.  The gospel is of first importance in every way.

For all of the great spiritual victories my father-in-law has accomplished in his life some of his most powerful stuff has been transferred in just the last few years, while in his weakest physical condition.  I see the gospel being lived out in the most real way through the joy he still has, though he’s been stripped of his ability to perform the most basic physical tasks—much less fishing and hunting.

Yet, now I understand that those things pale in comparison to the hope he has because of the gospel.  I have seen no more powerful example of the reality of the gospel truths, than the way Wyndham has endured the pain and loss his disease has brought on him.

As I listened to him wrap up his instruction on fishing, I was struck by the fact that even in the act of imparting his tidbits of wisdom, he had conveyed the most profound lesson about the gospel to my son.



Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 45

Wisdom Trusts

Jacob: You know Dad, I could lift you much easier if you would let go of the bar.

Wyndham: Sorry, I keep forgetting to let go.

Jacob: Dad, you can let go. I will never, ever drop you.

They laugh. I turn my head to hide the mist forming in my eyes.

The guys were kind enough to humor me with a picture.

“I will never, ever drop you.”

A tender moment. A big lesson. A profound expression of love and trust.

It takes trust, a whole lot of it, to let go of control—in transfers, and in life. The transferee (Wyndham) has absolutely no control over these moves, and is at the mercy of those transferring him.

The three of us—Wyndham, Jacob, and I meet for “transfer tasks” several times a day. I can no longer accomplish these by myself, so Jacob has arranged his schedule to be available to help us. He is exceptionally strong. We work together any time Wyndham must get from his bed or chair to anywhere else. Wyndham assists as much as he can, pulling himself forward to be lifted while holding on to a grab bar. Jacob can lift him completely, but finds it quite difficult if Wyndham forgets to let go of the grab bar.

Such is life—and trust in God.

Life these days hasn’t gone as planned—or hoped. Trust takes on new meanings—believing God loves us when our prayers aren’t answered the ways we hope.  Learning to trust through adversity stretches our faith and deepens our hope. The scripture expresses this well:

(Romans 5:3-6) 
3  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4  perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
6  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ …

I hold on to this Scripture. Hope will never disappoint us. Because God has poured out his love.

And…when we are powerless….Christ!

When we realize we are powerless, God takes over as if saying—”son, daughter…I will never drop you.”

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

I watch with deep respect as I see Wyndham’s wisdom decide to trust…and let go. He has had to let go of all that was normal and daily for him. In all of this his trust grows. His trust inspires my trust.

When life doesn’t go as planned, and difficulties happen—will you let go of the bar?

When life is going well–will you let go of the bar?

Our grasp for control makes it difficult for God to carry us. He won’t force us. We have to let go. Often this is a struggle, as we learn from the psalms:

2  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3  Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4  my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5  But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6  I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me (Psalm 13:2-6,emphasis added).

When we were powerless…Christ.

God is big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to hold us, no matter what.

He tells us, “I will never, ever drop you.”

Wisdom trusts.


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 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 – 44

Wisdom Asks the Most Important Questions.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God. It was never was about you and them anyway.

A powerful closing to a soul-piercing poem by Mother Theresa.

It’s all too easy to excuse ourselves from doing what is right and good because of weaknesses we see in someone else, or even a group of people such as a church. We can always find weaknesses. We will continue to be hurt throughout life. And yet others’ shortcomings can become our excuses, if we let them.

Have you ever been hurt by someone and felt you had the right to tell them off, to gossip about them, or just ignore them?

Have you ever been hurt by someone (even, and perhaps especially, a Christian) and then shut yourself off from what you know God says, and from what is true–and justify your response because of them?

I am confident our honest answers to these questions have at times been (or currently are) “yes.” We could all tell our stories of hurts and also of ungodly responses (I know I could) —but ultimately the stories aren’t so important.

Our response to our story is incredibly important.

Time after time I have watched and listened as Wyndham has (in one way or another) empathetically listened to hurts and sad situations, and yet then asks the all-important questions:

How will you respond?

What will you do with Jesus?

Wisdom knows that the answer to these questions affect our eternity. Wisdom knows the answer is centered in Jesus.

Wisdom then asks the bottom line question, “What will you do with Jesus?”

This question is asked throughout the Bible in accounts such as the one in Matthew 27:22 when Jesus is on trial and Pilate asks the crowd, “What do I do with this Jesus…?”  Unfortunately, Pilate listens to the crowd. It was easier, in the short term to follow the crowd. It was safer, less messy, less difficult…less selfless.

When Wyndham was diagnosed with the cruel disease he carries in his body, his neurologist made the wise comment, “You will now get to do what everyone needs to do. You can focus on what is really most important in life.”  This was after sharing with him the foundation on which we have built, and continue to build our lives. (The wisdom and compassion of his neurologist is a gift…and perhaps a post for another time.)

It’s hard to stop and focus on what’s most important. It’s hard to ask the questions that are of utmost importance .

Wisdom stops. Wisdom focuses. Wisdom asks.

Wisdom pauses to recount the words Jesus speaks in John 6:63.

  The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (NLT)

Still, after hearing these words some walked away. It was hard, and they had excuses. Jesus asked the twelve, “Are you also going to leave?”

Peter knew there was nowhere else to go.

I’m grateful Wyndham asks the most important questions, How will you respond? What will you do with Jesus?

Wisdom knows there is nowhere else to go. Nothing (no one) else offers eternal life.

How will you respond? What will you do with Jesus?

What does it really matter about “them?”

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God. It was never was about you and them anyway.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 43

Wisdom Understands Buckets and Funnels

Nor’easters. They are fierce. For those of us living in New England these mean high winds—accompanied by hearty downpours of rain or hefty droppings of snow.

Today’s forecast calls for a foot of snow. Last week’s nor’easter was a rain event (where we live). That storm was unusually strong—an “every few decades” happening.

Two weeks ago we (for the second time) had our kitchen ceiling “repaired” from damage caused by a nor’easter a couple of years ago. Water had dripped through the ceiling and light fixtures, through the floor, and into the basement. This recent repair was done just in time for the past week’s storm to undo all that had recently been fixed. (Actually, the repair only consisted of sanding and painting the ceiling, and obviously did not deal with the root of the problem.) The damage from this storm redamaged our ceiling—causing it to look just like it did before it was “fixed.” The water once again leaked out of the ceiling through the floor and into the basement. I placed a bucket on the floor to catch the drips. 

This unfortunate and true scenario reminds me of wisdom Wyndham has often dispensed as he (and we) have worked with individuals, marriages, and families. He has referred to this lesson as “buckets and funnels.”

In other words, the contents of the buckets that have been poured into us (by our families, our experiences, our hurts, our pains) will be funneled out from us to other receiving buckets (spouse, children, work associates, family members). When someone’s toxic bucket (full of harmful and sinful patterns) is funneled into ours we get hurt, and the contents of our own buckets can become rancid—filled with bitterness, envy, and all sorts of unresolved relationships and feelings. These, in turn, get funneled into others’ buckets. This keeps on happening—unless we stop the madness.

Wisdom knows we must each recognize what has been funneled into our bucket (both good and bad). We must then stop funneling and leaking harmful thoughts and practices into others’ buckets. We can’t just sand and paint over our buckets. We must fix what’s inside, find the root of the bad, and do repair work. We can’t control what has been poured into our bucket, but we can control what is funneled out.

Toxic becomes pure only through the grace and forgiveness found in Jesus, and the power of his Spirit to change our lives. He allows us to recognize the sludge and empty it from our buckets. Only then can we refill our bucket with the fruits of God’s Spirit, and experience his healing forgiveness. Then, when these purified and refilled buckets are funneled all kinds of good results—and many lives are blessed.

How often I’ve listened as Wyndham has patiently helped men and women discover what has (unintentionally) been filling their buckets and then spilling out and hurting others. He has helped them identify the poisonous contents, dump them out, and by God’s power replace them with what is good, true, and right. Then, they can pass on what is good and true and right.

The storms will continue to come. The water that goes through our roof and into our ceiling will come out, just as what goes into our bucket will funnel out. We can’t just sand and paint over problems and expect our lives to be fixed. They must be repaired and changed from the inside out. The only repair comes through Jesus and his words. He can empty our trash and fill our buckets with his treasures.

Today a big storm is coming. I will need to catch any leaks with a bucket until I discover the real problem. Meanwhile, check your bucket. The contents will be funneled into others.

43  “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;
44  for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
45  The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
Luke 6:43-45 (NRSV)

10  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
         (Psalm 51:10-12)

17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
18  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
(2 Corinthians 5:17-18)




Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 42

Wisdom Keeps Showing Up

If Woody Allen had it right when he said, “Showing up is eighty percent of life,” then Wyndham has lived a lot of life.

Showing up consistently is particularly important. Jesus showed up consistently. In fact, he promises to always be with those who follow him. (Matthew 28:20). The early disciples, day after day, went into the temple courts and house to house, teaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus. (Acts 5:42) They showed up consistently, day after day.

It’s one thing to show up, but showing up consistently requires a lot of love, determination, and self-discipline. I could always count on Wyndham to “show up,” and this has made a great difference in his personal life, our marriage, our family, and our ministry.  He has lived and taught the importance of this quality with his oft-practiced and oft-used phrase—“set and kept times.”

It’s easy in today’s busy and distracted lifestyles to live life “flying by the seat of our pants,” rather than living intentionally. Set and kept times have been an important part of Wyndham’s life.

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways. (Proverbs 14:8)

Most importantly, he set and kept times to walk and talk with God. These weren’t (aren’t) to fulfill a duty, but were (are) to fill his soul. He counted on those times, as did I. There is nothing more security-producing in my marriage than knowing my spouse is spending time with his God.

Thankfully and amazingly, God always shows up, and is always waiting on us to show up—eager to spend time with us.

Next, he set and kept times for the two of us. To pray together. To discuss how “we” were doing. To just enjoy togetherness. Since our ministry consisted of long days and nights, and we were always “on call,” we set aside Mondays to rest, to plan, to pray, and to enjoy nature. This wasn’t a nice idea. This was a necessity. It was carefully observed and very rarely changed. Set and kept.

He set times with each of the kids for heart to heart communication, spiritual conversations, memory making, and having fun. These were the most important “discipling” times. The kids could count on some kind of individual time with Dad each week. It wasn’t easy once their schedules grew when they hit their teens, but it was priority. Set and kept. Dinner times were set and kept. At times these had to be adjusted, but they could still be counted on.

Dear friends whom Wyndham mentored, as well as those with whom we shared “one another” times  (Romans 12:10; 15:7; 15:14) weren’t occasional happenings. These were needed and important times for each of us that were set in our schedules on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis—in order to better practice “one another” Christianity. Neither of us wondered if we would get together with a particular person or couple, because the times were guarded—set and kept.

As much as it depended on us, times were set and kept for hospitality. Wyndham set and kept Monday nights for dinner in our home in order to share our lives (and the gospel) with neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and those who had left the faith. This became our custom.

Set and kept times. These resulted in connection, security, friendship, growth, progress, vulnerability, and depth. The times certainly helped us, and prayerfully helped others as well. Because wisdom kept showing up we now continue to explore rare and beautiful treasures of deep spiritual friendships and relationships. These are there for anyone who builds their house with the wisdom of God.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:4-5)



Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 41

Wisdom Keeps Its Head In All Situation

By Mike VanAuken

I saw Wyndham keep his head while everyone around him was losing theirs. As a result, he was able to lead the Boston Church through dramatic transformation, building on her many strengths while laying the foundation for what she has become.

 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5)

Entering our 28th consecutive year with the privilege of serving on the Boston Church ministry staff, Scarlette and I cherish many memories and count many blessings.  While it seemed unlikely at the time, the tumultuous years of the early 2000’s are now an important part of both. Wyndham’s example, guiding the church through those years, is a lasting memory and still a blessing today.

Leading the Elders to Lead the Church

As of mid to late 2003 we evangelists had lost the confidence of much of the congregation and it was clear that our model of evangelist-centered leadership needed to change. Following several weeks of Bible study, prayer, and emails, a group of about 50 elders, evangelists, and leading brothers gathered to decide how to move forward.  Ultimately, we decided the obvious, that the elders would lead the church, rather than the evangelists. Wyndham and Gordon were the only elders on staff, with 3 or 4 non-staff brothers also serving in that capacity. Wyndham quickly took the point position and became the one stepping up to help people through their emotions and concerns. The church now saw the shepherds at the fore, we evangelists had space to develop a fresh approach to leadership, and both elders and evangelists learned to work well together.

Modeling a Leadership Team

In partnership with John McGuirk, Wyndham established a leadership team for the Boston Church. Gone were the days of “one man leadership.” The group’s roster shifted from time to time, but included elders, both younger and older evangelists, and administrators. Debate was the norm and, while Wyndham clearly chaired the group, he never imposed his will on it.

Keeping Jesus’ Vision Alive

Jesus has great dreams for his church and its impact. During those years, Wyndham never let go of the conviction that the Boston Church is a great beacon to the world and that her best days were ahead. Among other things he insisted that the evangelists once again step up to provide inspiration and faith, ensured that Boston remain a strong ligament within the ICOC fellowship, helped champion student interns at a time when we had none, and was the catalyst for the first Northeast Christians Conference.

Seeing Us Live the Lessons He Taught

I am blessed that the church in which my kids grew up has been so shaped by Wyndham’s example and convictions.  There are now 14 elders instead of 5 or 6, the church has grown 9 of the last 10 years, and every region has at least one elder as well as a leadership team made up primarily of non-staff disciples. I’m grateful that Wyndham’s wisdom helped guide us through some tricky years and continues to influence us today.


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 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.