Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 81

Wisdom Speaks with the End in Mind

Words are funny things. They are powerful. God created with words. Words play many roles as they: Inspire. Instruct. Hurt. Convict. Comfort. Entertain. Enlighten. As they do their jobs they produce varied emotions in the speaker and the hearer. Upon reception of words we may cry, laugh, sigh, smile, cringe, or even scream. Have you ever longed to own a “word catcher” that could catch careless words somewhere between your mouth and someone’s ear? I have. Unfortunately, there is no such thing—so the burden is on the speaker. If not careful, as the Red Sox would say, “Damage done.” 

Wyndham asked me a wise and rather profound question this week. I was in conversation with someone who was assisting us in a particular task. All was good. Perceiving a problem, I communicated something to this person in the form of a question, reminder, and plea. I didn’t raise my voice, and I tried to be kind and positive. However, this was not the first time I’ve spoken similar words to this person, and the words have yet to be well-received. As I think back, maybe this was the fifth or sixth time over the past year I have spoken similar words.  However, I thought perhaps the time was right to bring up the previously visited topic. Again.

Well, it wasn’t.

After the person didn’t react well the mood changed. Wyndham asked me later, “So, what were you hoping to accomplish?”

I thought about this question for a while. What was I trying to accomplish? I did feel, upon evaluation, that I was trying to bring about needed change for that person’s (and my) well-being. However, I thought through other times I’ve had this same conversation. What did I seek to accomplish then? Some of those answers would have been to let the person know:  I don’t approve. I want you to know my level of frustration. You’re not doing “it” the right way. 

Whenever words are born of frustration, or dare I say “condemnation,” they don’t accomplish good. They don’t strengthen relationships, While the end results of what we hope to accomplish may be right, timing and attitude are key. It is wise to ask: How will my words affect the relationship?  What am I hoping to accomplish? How would I feel if I put myself in the hearer’s place? Am I most concerned about speaking my words, or am I more concerned about the overall welfare of the hearer?

I would wish Paul to describe me as he does Timothy in Philippians 2:19-20.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.

 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare.

I must get “me” out of the equation and wait until the emotions of the moment pass and frustration levels wane. While speaking the truth in love is needed and right (Ephesians 4:15 ), wisdom is needed for when and how to speak. Often, this can be determined by stopping to consider the wise question,
What am I hoping to accomplish?


One Instrument at a Time

I thrill to the sound of an orchestra.  One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is to walk into the beautiful Symphony Hall and listen to part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, deliver their magnificent holiday concert.  I often get goose bumps listening to the harmony of the instruments, noticing how every person’s part counts, and watching the conductor guide and glide the orchestra through the music.  I often close my eyes and smile. The sounds send me to a place of magic and wonderment.

I marvel at how different each instrument is, and notice the passion that comes as each musician plays their own distinct part with all their heart.

And then, today, I saw this video (link is below).  I cried.  My heart swelled with joy as I likened this to God’s church.  This video footage depicts, to me, what happens when each Christian gives their all to God and to each other as the church.  As 1 Corinthians 12:14-28  states, we all have different gifts, but all are needed.  Together we make up the body of Christ.  What happens when one person doesn’t show up?  What happens when one doesn’t give their best or decides they will veer away from the “truth” of the musical scales and play without any care for the notes meant to be followed?  What would happen if there was no leadership, no conductor?   The resulting sound would be a real mess.   The orchestra and listeners would likely cover their ears and walk away.  The whole group would be discouraged and the sound produced would be out of tune, like fingernails on a chalkboard.  Consider these scriptures:  

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,  to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
Ephesians 4:11-17 (NIV)

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

I love how the music in this video begins when one young girl contributes what she has.  We never know what God can and will do with what seems small to us.  

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Matthew 17:20-21 (NIV)

Whatever you know to do and whatever you have to give to God, do it and give it.  God can take it from there.

And, whatever gift you bring (and we all were uniquely created and all are needed)  give without hesitation.  Don’t hold back.

Notice what happens when one by one the whole group comes together, each giving their part.  People hear it, they see it and they know something special is happening.  They wander in, in awe of what is taking place.  That is how it should be when God’s church truly functions together in unity.  People see, they take note and are drawn to what they see…they want to know how this happened.  For Christians, the harmony happens because Jesus shows us how to give all we have, how to honor one another and that we truly need each other.  We were not created to be a soloist, but part of the most beautiful orchestra ever known to man – that produces powerful, beautiful and amazing music.  Please take time to watch this video clip, realizing that each one of us is desperately needed to be part of God’s symphony.

And then the whole world can take notice, that God is present in this place.

Seven Habits For Building A Strong Marriage

Since we are away, teaching at a marriage retreat, it seems a good time to post some habits my husband and I have developed over the years which have helped to make our marriage strong.   37 years later, there is no one I would rather spend time with than my husband – my best friend.

If I were to list the most important habits we have incorporated into our marriage they would be:

1.  Practice daily prayer together. – It has been so meaningful to us to take our gratitude, concerns and requests to God as a couple, as well as individually.  I love the scripture in Exodus 33:12-17

    Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ [13] If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

    [14] The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

    [15] Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. [16] How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

    [17] And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”   

Our marriage is strong because we have chosen to practice His Presence with us.  Having God with us in our marriage means everything.  We cannot guide it or carry it alone.  We always need His Presence and involvement in our marriage.

2.  Have a purposeful assessment and planning time together each week.

 We have found that “life” gets away from us if we don’t deliberately make plans along with our prayers.

Every week we take some extended time together to talk about our spiritual and emotional state of being, what is going on in our lives as well as well as what  areas need growth.  We follow this with some extended prayer time together.

1 Peter 1:13-16

    Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. [14] As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. [15] But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; [16] for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

If we don’t set aside a time to plan and prepare our minds for action things get crazy and we end up not practically living out our priorities.

Our bumps have usually come from unmet or differing expectations, resulting from things that we did not talk through.

When our children were still at home, we also walked through their schedules  – considering  their physical and emotional needs, how we would prioritize getting time with them, and how to include time for family devotionals.  We strove to have a deliberate approach for developing the spiritual and emotional connections in our family, seeking family feedback from within and without the family.

3.  Eat together at the dinner table   – Most days (with a rare exception) we strove to have everyone together at the family dinner table.  These were precious times. We still enjoy dinner together, even as empty nesters.  It has also served us well to go to bed at the same time most nights.

4.  Practice openness and transparency  –We have found it extremely beneficial to have another couple or two consistently in our lives who know us really well and care about our spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.   We open up our lives to them.  This practice not only helps us grow, but it also helps us get rid of “blind spots” that can weigh us down.  These friends provide  a place to get “unstuck” if we come to an impasse.

5  Cultivate an outward focused lifestyle      Col. 4:2-6

    Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. [3] And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. [4] Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. [5] Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. [6] Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Galatians 2:10   All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Practicing hospitality in our home, along with finding ways to serve the poor has served our marriage and family in a tremendous way.  It truly is more blessed to give than to receive, and these practices have reminded us and our children that we are not the center of the universe, but are instead meant to give to and serve others.  This habit has refreshed our souls over and over again.

6.  Express love and affection to each other daily…don’t just assume it’s a given.  I’m amazed at the ways God expresses his love for me in the scriptures, through people, and through His creation.   My husband consistently encourages me and expresses his affection toward me.  This practice helps me (and our family) remember why we love each other…and encourages us to keep on giving.

7.  Enjoy God’s pleasant boundaries.

Psalm 16:6

    The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

        surely I have a delightful inheritance.

We have found it extremely helpful and important to enjoy each other, and to enjoy the pleasant boundaries we have been given. That’s why you may find us taking a walk, sipping coffee on the front porch as the sun sets, sitting by the fire,  riding our bicycles, walking in the snow, playing with our grandchildren, running our dogs, licking a frozen yogurt cone at Bedford Farms, hiking a trail or watching the waves roll on the North Shore.

It’s never too late to begin good habits!

Connecting to the Network

I got a “new toy”.  As one who likes to write, I often carry my laptop and it gets heavy.  I’ve been saving up for a tablet, and when the one I was eyeing was 70% off (for one day only) I decided it was time to purchase.  It’s not quite as user friendly as some (or one) tablet, but it syncs well with my other devices.  So, after much careful reviewing, I made my purchase.

I downloaded the apps I would likely use most often and also got some tutoring from a good friend who is well versed in this tablet.  In order to get such a good deal, I did have to purchase a monthly connection fee to the 4G network and  give them a two year agreement.  But, that’s okay.  I had planned for this anyway.

All was working well except for one thing.  I could make internet connections using wi-fi, but try as I may….I could not get any connection with the network.  Without the 4G network, I was dependent on spotty wi-fi.   I double checked the activation steps.  I had my friend trace my steps to see what might be amiss.  Alas, we could find nothing wrong.  I thought perhaps the SIM card (connection card) was bad;  or maybe there was some other reason this device had such a major cost reduction for one day.   Maybe this was the day they were getting rid of all the “duds”.  So I made my trek down to the store that carried my device and my account to seek answers to my connection problem.

After a fairly long wait the technician repeated everything that I had already done.  He thought that perhaps I had been sent a “bad” device.  I was disappointed knowing that there was an amazing “network out there” that was for some reason – forbidden to me.   I rested my elbows on the counter patiently (mostly) waiting while the technician worked. After what seemed a very long time I heard – “Aha…there it is!!”.

The technician informed me that the problem was not with my device, but with the account.   When I had been sent the tablet, the monthly payment to my account had been  activated, but the network had  not yet been activated to my device.   Apparently, my agreement to the contract was still pending.  This step had been missed in the process.  I thought about the spiritual implications of this dilemma.

God has always had an agreement, or covenant, with his people.  While there are many, many scriptures concerning covenants  found in both the Old Testament (covenant) and the New Testament (covenant), perhaps my favorite is found in 1 Kings 8:23

      “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below–you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.”

To me, this verse sums up many of the other verses about covenants.  God’s covenant with us stems from his love;  His promises are incomparable; and He will always keep His promises!  Our part of the covenant is simply to live out His plan for our lives – WHOLE HEARTEDLY.

What an offer!  His side of the covenant is amazing beyond comprehension.  His covenant (will, agreement) is to offer me eternal life, forgiveness of sins, His presence in my being, belonging in his family, and much more.  (Talk about an awe-inspiring 4G network…Glory, Grace, God in us, Giant-global family…amazing!!).   God is continually faithful to His covenant and Jesus sealed it with His blood.

However, every covenant has two sides.  I must also take part in this covenant to access the network.  My part is to accept the agreement…and to give it my whole heart – 100%.