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)




Avoiding “The Manipulation”

Manipulation: : to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Post Op 3 weeks:  Today was a day of reckoning.  In order to avoid “the manipulation,” Wyndham had to make some big progress with the flexion of his knee.  During a visit with his surgeon last week, the doctor was not entirely pleased with my husband’s progress since his surgery.  So, during this visit the doctor placed “the fear of the Lord” in my husband and set up daily physical therapy as well.  He informed him that if he did not have 100 degrees of flexion (the angle at which the knee bends) by today he would have to undergo “the manipulation.”  IMG_4235 This flexion number is needed in order to be on target for reaching the ultimate goal of 130 degrees of flexion.  The doctor even set up the appointment for this procedure to take place tomorrow.

“The manipulation” is known to be a most dreaded torturous procedure.  In this “fun little activity” one is put under anesthesia while the doctor (through his sheer force and power) makes the muscles and tendons move beyond what they can do on their own.  Anesthesia is administered because it is considered too painful to endure while awake.  Unfortunately, the pain raises its ugly head when the anesthesia wears off.   This flexion goal is considered quite important.   If the desired flexion is not reached, the result of the surgery would be disappointing, as the goaled flexion and extension is needed for an acceptable range of motion and use of the knee, and all the attached appendages.

Wyndham worked extremely hard all week, well beyond what was comfortable for him.  He worked with his physical therapist and then continued at home with his “homework.”  So today, the day of reckoning came during the physical therapy session… and he bent his knee to 101 degrees.  This was great progress from a mere 83 degrees a week ago.  The therapist was able to get it to 109 degrees, which pleased him – as this was on target for the goal of 130 degrees.  “The Manipulation” was cancelled.

Of course there are numerous spiritual applications throughout this healing process.  As I have been reading through the Old Testament, I am reminded just how serious God is about obedience to him.  When he gives a command he expects that it is followed.  Failure to do this results in his discipline.  Yet this is not because he is out to hurt us –  quite the opposite.  We hurt ourselves and face his discipline when we don’t take him seriously.  The response is up to us.

    No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:11)

 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,  (1 John 5:3)

He knows how we are meant to function (he made us) and wants to see us live the way we were intended to live and to see us reach our full potential.  If we, through the help of Jesus, our Great Physician, the help of a “physical therapist” (those involved in our lives helping us keep the course and reach the potential God has put in us) and our own wholehearted effort to grow we will perhaps be able to avoid many painful manipulations that we would incur without these helpers.

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.  (Luke 13:24)

    Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)

    So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (2 Peter 3:14)

God expects us to take him seriously.  Graciously, he gives us everything we need to live in the way we were intended to live.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  (2 Peter 1:3)

Day by day, with the help of our God, the help of other disciples and our hard work we too can make progress that brings us toward the goal of becoming all God created us to be.

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.  2 Cor 3:18 (NRSV)

What’s Your Caption?

I happened upon this picture a few minutes ago.  My granddaughter is having fun hiding behind a glass pulpit.  I thought this photo communicated a lot with just a few words.

If I were put my face here….would the words shown “‘to’ God Be the Glory” reflect my life?  I pray so.  I want the fruit of God’s spirit to be evident in my life so that God’s glory can be seen and He will  be honored. I love the thought of seeing each of our faces in the background of this picture…reflecting God’s glory.   Glory is sort of a “church word” – where meaning can get lost in familiarity.  I see it most simply as the awesome (in the truest sense of the word) and consuming presence of God!  Imagine with me your face behind this caption.  Does it fit there? Does your expression and demeanor reflect God’s presence?  How about your words…and the tone of your words? Do the choices you are making reflect the glory of God?  What would your caption say?  Our demeanor, words, and choices always reflect something….and could always have an accompanying caption.

After reading many verses about God’s glory….and thinking about my “captions”…I am more keenly equipped to consider what and who I am reflecting as I go through my day.  I’m also grateful, as the scripture below states, that God sees me as a work in progress – that I can grow and change each day.  He is full of grace as well as truth, helping me in my weaknesses to become more like Jesus every day.

16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Cor 3:16-18 (NIV)

16 Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face to face! 17 They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! 18 All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

2 Cor 3:16-18 (MSG)

16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

2 Cor 3:16-18 (NRSV)


Deworming the Earworm

Eeeew!  This is my reaction to this disgusting-sounding title. However, this post is not really going to be about slimy creatures living inside the crevices of our inner ears or about long squiggly worms “gracefully” cascading down from the openings in our ears.

“Earworms” is a word coined within the last decade used to describe catchy phrases, jingles or songs that get stuck in our minds – and while there are replayed over and over (and over) again.  Several recent happenings brought “earworms” to my attention. One is an article I read yesterday, while in the Zurich airport, in a magazine entitled “Hear the World”. (My mother was deaf the last twenty years of her life, so articles about hearing often catch my attention).  This particular article was about “earworms” – what causes them (they don’t know) and how to get rid of them.

Also, this past weekend my oldest granddaughter, who was visiting us, began to sing a jingle from an advertisement for a jewelry store – “Every kiss begins with Kay”.  As she was singing I  began to randomly say the word “Kay”, and then give her younger sister (who was sitting on my lap)  a kiss each time I said the word.  This brought on laughter, which brought on more spoken “Kays” followed up with kisses. Unfortunately, I was left singing this little ditty in my head all day long.  Now that I have mentioned it, if you are familiar with the song I may have just passed this annoyance on to you. Similarly, If I were to write a paragraph encouraging you not to think about a red airplane – and then kept repeating instructions, “don’t think about a red-colored airplane” – chances are you would have it clearly pictured in your mind.

I read in the magazine article that studies show that the best solution for ridding our minds of “earworms” is to to sing a different song or say another phrase. Funny thing, the scriptures have always taught this God-given principle.  A scripture that has become a well used tool for me is found in Romans 12:21.  It simply states,
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Another scripture that teaches this principle is told in Matthew 12:43-45
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. [44] Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. [45] Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first…”

When I have an unrighteous thought, word or attitude come into my head I can be sure it will want to “take up residence” in my heart.  I can let it fester and take root, or I can decide (with the help of God) to send it away.  These scriptures teach me that, just like the earworms, I won’t be able to get rid of these thoughts, words or attitudes just by thinking about getting them out of my head.  Instead, I need to replace them with something else, such as what is described in Philip. 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

When I keep scriptures, songs and righteous “good thoughts”  in my “arsenal of memory”. they prove again and again  to be antidotes for having the “sinworms” take me captive. These “sinworms” are far more destructive than “earworms”, which can just be annoying.  Either way, I never have liked worms.