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 – 75

Wisdom Builds Faith While Expressing Love

A couple of weeks after we were engaged to be married Wyndham moved to North Carolina to serve in the campus ministry while I finished my last quarter of college classes. (I would do an internship in North Carolina.) We were both crazy busy during the five months of our engagement. He was in a new place starting a campus ministry, and I was taking a ridiculous number of hours to finish school, leading a Bible talk or two, and planning a wedding.

Long distance calls were expensive back then, thus restrictive (given Wyndham’s salary of seven thousand dollars a year, and my salary of nothing)! We seldom were able to talk, but wrote letters constantly during our five-month engagement. I wrote every day. Wyndham wrote some days–until my mentor, Ann Lucas, advised me to stop writing for a few days so he would understand what those letters meant. She was wise. 😊 He started writing every day. 

Those letters meant so much to me that I still have them in a box in our basement. Years ago, (perhaps it was our 25th anniversary), we read some of the letters together. They were filled with faith in what God would do and awe at what he was doing. The tone of the letters was so faith-filled—nothing would be impossible for God. The fields were ripe for harvest. The students, the professors, the teens, the adults…we were watching God move in people’s lives as they became Christians. I heard about them in his letters. I felt his excitement, and I caught his vision. His attitude of faith in the letters could best be expressed by Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:20-21.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

These letters also told me how much I was loved. I’d read those parts again and again. Wyndham’s wisdom had (and has) the unique ability to build faith while expressing love. Wisdom does that—builds faith and expresses love. It’s not a technique or writing style, but an overflow of faith and love from the heart.

God’s letters to me, in his Word, do this above any other letters. They leave me with faith and leave me feeling loved. This past week one of my assignments (I’m working on my master’s degree in spiritual formation) included writing a letter to myself from God during the current season of my life. This was an emotionally moving exercise for me. My fingers typed faster than I can ever remember, and the whole time I was crying. Ugly crying. Weeping.  I felt God expressing his love for me (and for Wyndham) and reassuring me that he loves us, hears all our prayers, and is quite aware of our situation. In this letter, he was telling me he “had this,” and I could trust him. Here are a few excerpts.

My dear daughter,

 As you enjoy another sunrise today and experience my reminders and kisses to you through your favorite autumn flowers, the crispness of the air, the wildlife that you enjoy, and the love you feel and experience in your heart…remember this is what I want for you. Trust me.

 If only you could see as I do, you would understand that I would do nothing, ever, to hurt you. You know how deeply you feel about your children and grandchildren. Well, the love I feel for you is infinitely more. Trust that. You will see one day. I will hold you in my arms, and as my Spirit lives in you now, I want you to feel hugged from the inside out. Trust me.

 I hate that you are hurting and that your husband is suffering, but trust me. I feel this with you. I am suffering with you. This is temporary and one day it will be a speck so small you will say…oh…now I get it. I will never leave you alone. I will be with you and him, and your family every step of the way. I have this…

 And, that husband of yours. He is one of my dearest sons. Don’t ever think I don’t have him on and in my heart every day. Know beyond the shadow of a doubt I love you both. I can’t wait to be together one day. Meanwhile, represent me well; don’t ever quit giving. I’m going to lead you to many people who need help finding me. I will help you use the gifts I have given you. We are a team. You are my friend. Don’t ever forget that, daughter.

 I haven’t forgotten your devotion to me. Never forget mine to you. Please take time to be still and let this sink in. And always trust me. I’ve got this.

 Always and forever yours,

Abba

As I reminisced over God’s faithfulness to me and his words to me in the Scriptures (not just my imaginary letter), my faith was built. Wisdom builds faith while expressing love.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 74

Wisdom Knows How to Be Still

Be still?

“Ain’t got no time for that!”

Life is busy. Every life stage brings unique challenges which cry out for our attention.

Yet God tells us, amidst our work, amidst our family life, amidst our health challenges, amidst our technology, amidst our everything…to be still.

What is your first reaction: When you feel stressed? When you are tired? When you are down? When you feel annoyed? When you are meeting with someone? When you are preparing for work or school?

Is it to work or plan harder? Distract with social media? Eat? Sleep? Complain?

Or, is it to “be still?”

It doesn’t feel like it makes sense, but God tells us to be still. It’s hard to be still. It takes time to be still. For me, I must put myself in a place where I will have minimal distractions, then take deep breaths, notice and recount God’s bigness and goodness—and connect. And listen. Beforehand it helps me to listen to or sing spiritual music, read some Scriptures, and take time to be still, to listen to what God is teaching me.

 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes
. (Psalm 37:5-7)

  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah  (Psalm 46:10-11)

  Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
  The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
(Exodus 14:13-14)

Wisdom knows how to be still.

One particular time stands out in my mind from years ago when Wyndham felt a great deal of stress. It was an extremely difficult time in the church and he felt great pressure. What did he do? He didn’t first plan and scheme and talk. He took his Bible and a songbook and went away to a quiet place for a few days with his son-in-law, in order to be still. To be renewed. To hear God. He sang. Prayed. Read the Bible. Listened to God. Went “offline,” to all except God. 

Often, he would walk the power lines behind our house (with his dog following close behind) to sing and pray…and reflect…and then sit and be still—listening to God. I’ve always admired his ability to disconnect—in order to connect. My distracted, multi-tasking brain has a harder time with this. But it’s important, and necessary to make such times.

Sometimes, the place to “be still” is right outside my door. The other night I stepped outside to be still. The stars were bright, the night was quiet. As I sang this song I reflected on God as he quieted my soul. Tears streamed down my face.

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Be still my soul when dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears
Then shalt thou better know His love His heart
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears
Be still my soul the waves and winds shall know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below

Be still my soul the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

(By Katharina Von Schlegel—public domain)

How I needed to be still. It was good for me to reflect as I poured out both gratitude and disappointments. I needed to wrestle and surrender, as this is a hard season of life, of loss, pain, and various disappointments. Despite these, I feel God’s strong presence. The stillness of the night and the brightness of the stars reminded me of his steadfast love. I want to completely rid my heart of fear, as I know that what is on the other side of life on earth is not even comparable to what I have seen—and I’ve seen a lot! I needed to look into the heavens in the still of the night and contemplate heaven, remembering he calls the stars out by name.

Though I have disappointments, his thoughts are light years’ greater than mine. When I am still, God’s Spirit revives my soul as expressed by another hymn:

 Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone….

Oh, lead me, Lord, that I may lead…

Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach…

Oh, give Thine own sweet rest to me,
That I may speak with soothing pow’r
A word in season, as from Thee,
To weary ones in needful hour.

Oh, fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart o’erflow
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.

Oh, use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where,
Until Thy blessed face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.

(By Frances Havergal and Robert Schumann, public domain)

May we all take the needed time to “be still.”

 

 

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 – 72

Wisdom Knows Whom to Please

 I was fearful for many years. Fearful of messing up. Afraid to disappoint. Afraid to speak up. Many times in my past, when I had been honest it was not well received and came back to bite me. So, for many years (until sometime in my forties), I had learned to do two things: 1. Stuff what I felt so much that I wasn’t even sure what I thought, or 2: Assume the best and safest thing to do was to please whoever was an authority figure in my life.

This was not wisdom. I thought it was wisdom at the time, but it was survival out of fear.

It’s right to show respect to others, but it is not right to confuse respect with dishonesty. I had let fear cause dishonesty. I had to learn to be vulnerable, sharing what I truly believed. I had to pray and fast to overcome this and ask for help—often ending a conversation with someone by saying, “I’m working on being vulnerable. How am I doing?” I begged God to help me through his Spirit to turn this weakness into strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). Praise God, by his power, this has become a strength.

Most of all, this quality takes integrity and an understanding of the love of God.

Wyndham will tell you this quality was not always easy for him, but I watched him have the wisdom, courage, and integrity to hold to the truth and to speak honestly in love. I admired and sought to emulate such deep integrity.

It was not always popular or well received, but as a man of integrity he held to and often referred to this scripture:

 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? (Mark 12:14)

What a Scripture, and what a challenge! To have such integrity that the only concern is pleasing God, holding to his truth without being swayed by what is popular or easier. He was careful, kind, and gentle in his honesty—learning when and how to say things, and what battles were not worth fighting on behalf of a “bigger picture.”  He also read often and strove to keep true in his heart Acts 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Wyndham encouraged me in my growth. I read and meditated on Mark 12:14 often, along with another Scripture I have carried in my heart:
 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18).

I continually seek to better understand and to more brightly reflect God’s amazing love—and have learned that wisdom knows whom to please. If we don’t get this one right we will compromise our convictions and continue in fear. It’s easier than we think to fall into this trap. It’s all too easy to be concerned with “what will they think?”


Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
(Galatians 1:10 NRSV)

4  but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts….
6  nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others
…                      (1 Thessalonians 2:4,6 NRSV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 71

Wisdom and a Rock

It seems the weather has been particularly wild all over the world. Last week many of our friends in the Carolinas were dealing with a hurricane. Today we got the remnants—torrential downpours and fierce thunder and lightning. Ours only lasted a day. Theirs lasted days, and many are still under water. In other places all over the world people are still picking up pieces after storms, with homes destroyed and streets flooded. Homes on sand near the oceans have little hope of standing.

For as long as I can remember, Wyndham, when he could still speak well and pray out loud would continually thank God for being his rock. He always used this term. I don’t think I appreciated this metaphor nearly as much then as I do now.

Most weeks, when weather allowed, we would walk and pray at our special place about forty minutes from our home, in a town called Manchester-by-the-Sea. We would walk a trail leading to a place so beautiful it seemed unreal. There we would find an expanse which revealed a panoramic view of the rocky north Atlantic shore. As we neared the end of the trail, approaching this gorgeous view, we always passed a gigantic marble rock. It has likely been there for centuries, on this hill overlooking the ocean. It’s solid and has withstood years of crashing waves and howling nor’easters. 

I always admired the rock and thought it was such a great addition to an already priceless view. It provided even more ambiance. However, I never had to hold on to it for dear life. Now, as the winds and waves of deteriorating health howl, Wyndham’s true rock (and my rock) means everything. It’s no longer just admired, it’s sat on, clung to, and is essential. But, that’s the way it should be anyway.

Because our rock is the unchanging, all-powerful, and loving God who has been a friend for many years, Wyndham’s faith, joy, and peace is unshakable. He has the wisdom to hold  to the rock, to sit on the rock, to hug the rock, and to never leave the rock. He can even laugh when his voice can’t easily be understood (even though it’s hard) and can have patience and perseverance even while living an extremely difficult way of life. Without this rock, we would surely have been swept away, torn apart by the waves.

Because the rock is solid, and he has the wisdom to hold on, he is okay. We are okay. We are better than okay. Very blessed. Sometimes sad, but secure in hope. The view from the rock is always spectacular, even in a storm. Perhaps especially during a storm.

Everyone needs this rock, for it can withstand any storm. It’s not meant to merely be viewed but is meant to be embraced.

 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
(Psalm 61:1-4)

I believe that Jesus held to that rock while he was on earth, as he referred to this song while on the cross.

 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God. (Psalm 31:2-5)

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 70

 

Wisdom Loves to Laugh

Each night I read some Bible out loud before we pray…as Wyndham can’t hold a book and reading is too tiring for him. Last night as I was reading I verbally stumbled with a tongue-twisting word. I kept saying it wrong, repeating it, and then saying it wrong again. Wyndham’s voice is weak, but as I was reading, tongue-twisted, this quiet voice came from the man laying in the bed who almost looked as if he was asleep… “easy for you to say.”

My concentration completely left me when I heard this. I just laughed for a while at his quick and sarcastic comment.

Truth is, we laugh a lot. We need to. We encounter a lot of daily (hourly) hard things in our lives at this stage. We can cry or laugh. Very occasionally we cry, but most often we choose to laugh. We intentionally laugh and find things to laugh at. Laughing is good for our health. And, it feels better.

In fact, Mayo Clinic reports that laughter induces physical changes in our bodies. It stimulates our heart, lungs, and muscles and increases our endorphins. Laughter also activates and relieves our stress response, soothes tension, improves our immune system, relieves pain, increases personal satisfaction, and improves our mood.1

Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is: “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

I am quite sure God has a sense of humor. Just look at some of his creation! The porcupine, the aardvark, otter, the penguin, puppies, and the sloth likely induce some heavenly laughter. (I follow an Instagram post that has the sole purpose of showing the cuteness and funny antics of animals—It’s called happiness4all if you want to add this little joy to your life.)

Think of some of the crazy and unlikely ways God has worked in your life. Certainly some of these show God’s sense of humor (as well as his incredible grace toward us).

I find remarkable irony and humor (and God’s wisdom and power) when in Numbers 22 Balaam’s donkey spoke like a man and Balaam, well, he acted like a donkey. And picture when Gideon’s tiny army defeated the Midianites by blowing ram’s horns and breaking clay jars (Judges 7). And Jesus, God in the flesh, was born in a stable, was presented as a king riding on a donkey, and his lineage included Rahab, a prostitute.

Likely, since we don’t live in the first century, we miss much of the humor of Jesus when he uses hyperbole, parables, and exaggeration to make his points.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says, “Jesus was a master of wordplay, irony and satire, often with an element of humor intermixed.”

Consider Jesus’ word pictures of a log in someone’s eye, and religious leaders who strained gnats and swallowed camels. Swallow a camel?

But most convincingly, we are created in the image of God! You are, and I am too—and I sure do love humor. I love to laugh. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite things to do.

The Proverbs of wisdom recount the benefits of a joyful disposition. This would certainly include smiles and laughter. The Scriptures knew this long before Mayo Clinic found out.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

Proverbs also adds, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful” (15:13); or seen from a different view in verse 30, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” Proverbs 16:24 tells us, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” 

It’s good to laugh. To be cheerful. This sign hangs in the entrance to our living room, and it’s a good one. (And yes, the Red Sox playing in the background add joy as well.)  While Wyndham takes some medicine for some symptoms, the best medicine is a cheerful heart.

May we all heed the wisdom of God (and this sign) as we “Live well, laugh often, and love much.”

 

 

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1. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456)

2. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds., “Humor—Jesus as Humorist,” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 410.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 69

Wisdom is Mind Change

By Gordon Ferguson

The title reminds many of us of an excellent book written by Tom Jones about how he came to view and deal with multiple sclerosis. It is a most encouraging and inspiring book, and one that I imagine Wyndham and his family have received much help from as they deal with his debilitating disease. But this article is about the abundant wisdom possessed by Wyndham, and so we are discussing other aspects of mind change.

Changing our minds is not often an easy task. It is not science but much closer to an art form. Many questions asked and answered about mind change tell us a lot about a person. How quick are we to change our minds – too quick or too slow? What causes us to change our minds – emotions or clear reasoning? Who influences us most to change our minds – those closest to us or those who make the most sense? What is our attitude about changing our minds – willingness or begrudging reluctance? What motivation is strongest regarding changing our minds – a desire to be right or to determine truth? Good questions, don’t you think?

The whole process of mind change is demonstrated so well by Wyndham. I’ve watched him in this process many times in many circumstances with many people. He has mastered the process in a way that few have, providing us with yet another lens through which to observe his wisdom.

Wyndham is a slow thinker in one sense – not caused by a limitation of intellectual powers at all, but by a self-imposed spiritual limitation. He simply refuses to rush into judgment. I have known many leaders in the church who prided themselves on being able (in their minds, at least) to size up situations and make very quick decisions. Often these decisions were made after hearing only one side of a story (often a friend’s or another leader’s side) and were many times of a nature that the lives of others were significantly affected by their knee-jerk decisions. Just thinking about the times I observed this process in the past gives me a pit in my stomach right now. Had those types of self-assured, cocky, arrogant decision-makers not read the Bible?

James 1:19 – “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Proverbs 17:27 – “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.”

Proverbs 29:20 – “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Proverbs 18:17 – “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”

Wyndham is a very patient and careful listener. He won’t interrupt a person sharing their heart – and he won’t let others interrupt them either. I know – I’ve been in both places with him! He and Tom Jones remain two of my most trusted confidants, the two men whose counsel I cherish most. After leaving Boston years ago, I have flown back to Boston on several occasions primarily just to get time with Wyndham and have him talk me off of the ledge. He not only knows how to change his mind in right directions, but he can help others do that in a masterful way.

He changes his own mind by time-tested biblical and practical principles. He is not quick to change his mind, but he does understand the time sensitivity of some decisions. Unlike some leaders I have known, he is not afraid to make decisions because of worrying about being wrong or worrying about possible reactions or responses. He just wants to make righteous decisions, not necessarily popular ones. His quest for truth drives him, and he is never satisfied with good or better when best is within reach.

His mind changes are seldom emotionally based but based on those principles mentioned above that fit the situation most clearly. That being true, the emotions of others are not weighed much in the final decisions, although they are respected and listened to carefully leading up to that final decision. His wisdom in changing his mind and the minds of others leads him into answering all of those other questions raised in the second paragraph in the right way. He is never overly influenced by who is speaking, but rather by what is being said. Neither favoritism nor sentimentality will carry the day with him. What is right is the clear target and not who is right, himself or anyone else in the discussion.

As all of these articles in Jeanie’s blog show, Wyndham’s wisdom is demonstrated in many, many ways. But in my judgment, it is shown perhaps best in the realm of mind change – his own and that of others through his direction. He is not only at the top of my list when seeking guidance in the most serious life matters, but at the top of my wife’s list as well. He earned that spot soon after our arrival in Boston in 1988 by carefully guiding us through our needed mind changes about our marriage and ministry. I don’t think I would have survived the ministry part without him, and I know that our marriage would not have become what it has without him. Mind change, the fine art of discovering the pinnacle of spiritual thinking, is sought by many but mastered by few. Wyndham Shaw is one of the few.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham – 68

Wisdom Connects

Anyone can say words. However, wisdom can turn words into connections. Without connection, it’s impossible to communicate on a heart-to-heart level. Wisdom connects words to the heart.

Wyndham, for as long as I have known him, has been a great connector. As he connects deeply with individuals, he also helps them connect with each other. Connectors do this. Their connections are contagious. If connection is only with us, we build dependence instead of family. For years  I have studied Wyndham’s ability to  connect and have sought to emulate this gift as much as possible. 

Ironically, Wyndham’s body has a major connection problem. Though his mind is excellent, and his body should be physically able to function, it doesn’t. There’s a disconnect. It is as if a drawbridge has gone up between his head (or mind) and body. It doesn’t connect well anymore. Our nervous system normally does this connecting automatically…but unfortunately this connection is now missing for him.

Too often, the metaphorical drawbridge goes up when people try to connect. Words are spoken but they don’t bring about closeness or desired unity. They simply give information.

I’ve noticed several aspects of connection as I’ve “studied” Wyndham’s ability to connect. This connection comes not just from words said, but also from the emotional atmosphere and feelings that surround the words. These bring down the drawbridge so that connections are made. The following are attitudes I have watched Wyndham exude which elicit true connection.

You are important to me. I care about you and I value you. This attitude is a bridge between spoken words. The drawbridge is down when we know people care as they speak to us. Even now, though Wyndham can barely talk, he will ask, “Did you give them my love?” or, “How did her meeting go?” or, “Did Caleb catch a fish today?” Because he cares.

I want to hear what you have to say. We all want to be heard and understood.  We communicate this when we truly do want to hear what others say. This invites connection.

I will be vulnerable.  People connect to our weaknesses. It’s often humbling to share them, but we can likely think of people we have easily connected with because of their vulnerability.  Sometimes (often) these posts feel vulnerable. I always read them to Wyndham and ask if it’s okay to share. He always tells me that he knows that connection is in the vulnerability.

I want to have eye-to-eye contact with you.  Often a look from Jesus elicited connection and emotion. Truly the eye is the lamp of the body, as Jesus stated (Matthew 6:22). There’s just something about eye-to eye-connection that helps beget heart-to-heart connection.

I want to hug you.  Have you ever been speaking to someone and their kindness and connectivity just makes you want to get up and hug them? Wyndham knows the importance of affection. We all need hugs. More than we think. Lots of them. It’s hard to hug someone and stay disconnected.

I will be honest with you. And, I want you to be honest with me. There’s nothing like the truth that brings the freedom allowing connection. As Proverbs 24:26 (NLT) states,  An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.”

I want to leave you encouraged, and with hope. No matter how difficult a situation or conversation, we connect to those who are able to offer hope (which is always found in Christ). I have noted that Wyndham gives hope even (and especially) in difficult situations and conversations.

I want to be approachable. I’m always inspired by the way Jesus easily connected with children and the poor. He was a the greatest leader ever, but easily approached by what some considered “the little (or less important) people.”  It takes extra effort to ensure we are easily approached. How can we ever connect with someone we can’t easily approach.

I’m so grateful Almighty God encourages us to approach him (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16).

May we all grow in wisdom to connect as we speak and engage with others.