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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Confusing Love for Trust

Question: Do Christian people have the option to not love or not like people?

Answer: I think this question is purposed in the tussle between love and trust.

I think there are no genuine Christians who dispute we must love everyone unconditionally. Jesus himself commanded us to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39). Indeed, as Jesus said, all the Law and the Prophets (i.e. the Old Testament or Moses and Elijah, as representatives respectively of the Law and the Prophets, i.e. everything they stood for) “hang on these.”

There really is no doubt about this.

Where we get confused is possibly differentiating between love and trust.

We Don’t Have to Trust People Who Hurt Us/Others

Jesus never commanded us to trust everyone unconditionally.

Wisdom now walks through the door. Life dictates that people will hurt us or others close to us and that is untenable to us only via the future trust we needn’t invest in any relationship we have with them. For the time being they’ve burned their bridges with us. Wisdom suggests we’re prudent and use our discretion in deciding whom we trust.

But hear this. We must still forgive them and allow them chances should they prove their repentance to us. We are to be merciful and fair in this endeavour, even to looking for positive signs of change in their lives that suggests it’s time for a second chance.

We do not delay our forgiveness. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus discusses his Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor—in essence, we’ve been forgiven by God far more than anyone could ever transgress us personally; we too, therefore, must forgive the comparative little that people do against us.

It’s the same for us regarding second chances. We know times when we’ve disappointed or betrayed people and lost their trust and respect as a result. If we were being fair back then we understood it from their viewpoint. If they forgave us we felt their mercy; if they didn’t forgive us, we felt unfairly treated no matter how bad we were to them. We probably understood, however, their lack of trust in us and, as a result, we copped it sweet.

Liking and Love

So, if we’ve made the decision to not trust someone as they’ve betrayed our faith in them, do we have to like them?

The short answer is, yes we do. Liking is a form of love, and in this context it’s framed in forgiveness. If we don’t like someone in this situation it’s indicating we’ve not truly forgiven them. This is a sin against us personally as much as it’s a sin against them and God.

Forgiveness is a funny concept. It’s not the perfect transaction unless we forgive and they accept that forgiveness. But it must start from us. I can’t see how we can dislike someone having forgiven them. We might dislike what people choose to do, but we don’t dislike them.

Making it Clear

As Christians we must work on forgiving people who transgress us; we must do this continually, even up to 490 times a day (Matthew 18:22) which is obviously hyperbole, meaning ‘continually.’ The outcome of forgiveness is loving and liking action—the antithesis of condemning or judging behaviour.

We do have options over trust, however.

Wisdom informs us as to whom we’re to trust and what shape that will take. Wisdom is as much from God as love and truth are. God owns wisdom. His Spirit will assist us in determining who and when we’re to trust.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Making the Very Most of Now

WE TAKE A LOT FOR GRANTED. It’s just our simple human nature. It’s only when things change irrevocably that we even take time to consider what we’ve lost.

‘Now’ is a concept beyond us somehow. We feel like we’d like to incarcerate some of these ‘now’ moments—to relive them at will, whilst many other less bliss-filled moments we hope will skip on so better life can soon be enjoyed. Gee, we’re hard to please. But this is not criticism of the way we live life.

When life takes a turn unpredictably and we’re left open-jawed we begin to reminisce, finally, over what we’ve just lost. And this continues, more or less, through our more pained days.

Hidden Blessings

Making the most of now is simply about understanding that life could get worse than it is currently, and we have now—plain, as it is—to enjoy and appreciate, and that’s all.

We may even have valid reasons for not enjoying the moment we’re in, but it’s truly incumbent on us to try and see the generous portions of blessing we’re presently engaged with.

There are hidden blessings everywhere, even in the most humdrum of life.

Now is All We Have

We truly possess nothing else. I thought recently of the inventor of the Monopoly board game—those royalties alone would be enough to live very nicely on for a whole lifetime. Yet, it’s only a lifetime. All people have both their lifetimes and their demise.

This is not a depressing reality when we stay ourselves in the moment and understand something like the breath that freely infuses the lungs right now; we breathe in and then out again, and in that we’re blessed! It is a ‘safe’ now.

The ‘Now’s’ of our Future

The times of our future will have us reminiscing to a tune so tantalisingly memorable. We’ll want to go back to our pasts and somehow recapture them, though we can’t. People go to extraordinary lengths to re-establish what was, but they forget that it’s not possible to replicate times like these—or anything in the past for that matter.

We must stay relevantly in the present, enjoying now for what it is, and then via faith, we’ll actually not pine to any irreconcilable level in the future when looking back. We’ll somehow understand what was, was.

We’ll know we did our best back then (i.e. now) to enjoy and make the most of life, especially in the context of loved ones. We’ll have a guilt-free life then by living the ‘now,’ now.

NOW: Cherish It, No Matter ‘Where’ You Are

Some circumstances make it incredibly hard to achieve this imperative; for instance, profound grief. These times mark the ‘now’ as a reprehensible thief.

But, where we can live happily in the now we should.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

An Observation of Deep Grief

This is a topic never delved into lightly. The death of a close loved one, for the family concerned, brings an experience of life bereft of seeming reality.

For a while—presently i.e. ‘in’ this space—life just isn’t! Numbness contains us. Life becomes nothing. Not forever... just for a while... a long while.

This day I’m caused to reflect over a life cut short—any life, but a life all the same. And heaven help the poor ignorant one walking through grief’s door with some ‘helpful’ anecdote or platitude—there are just no words that cut it. Would we be so callous as to cut a person down so gripped with chilling sorrow?

No words... none. Quiet contemplation and a hug; these are all that is worthy.

The experience of grief is familiar. And although there are many forms of it, its remarkability is somehow like déjà vu. She may be a dark friend, but she kicks that a rabid mule every time!

No matter how familiar we come to experience grief, she finds her way into our hearts, crushing indiscriminately like a herd of elephants as she attends.

What is this about other than a null answer?

God is there, certainly. God’s there and, in it, he’s saying, “Don’t solve it... it can’t be ‘solved,’ but know that time and truth and help and healing all play their parts... come, rest in me... though I can’t remove all your pain just now, I will attend to your tears and sooth your aching heart.”

What do we do practically? Reject, run, fight, sooth?

No. We just be; that’s the best thing. Though it takes much courage, it’s the best way. It’s the best way to just be with others who are hurting and to resolve the irresolvable together.

This is our purpose. To be, to try, to wail, to receive calm from God... all this together.

Just don’t give up, never ever. That works most of the time... when grief swims over us one day and into the next, however, we let it. She must have right of way. We allow her to carry us out, into the farther reaches of the swell, and though our fear’s to drown in sorrow, we somehow know we’re safe.

We don’t fight.

One day at a time. Keep it simple. I type these words but I can’t quite stand hearing me say them just now. Yet, they’re the truth. Hard but true, we nod despondently; we leave as is.

People are our key. Being with the likeminded, the compassionate; the grieving.

Some day life will be better. Keep hope in sight when you can.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Is It Me or the Rest of the World?

This is a pretty clever and humbling question really.

How many times have we had basically the same sorts of problems in our relationships and situations—consistently so—and beyond our frustration, wanted to grasp our heads and scream?

I’m laughing as I consider the above the truth; afresh, I see what anyone can see. You know where it’s heading.

We tend to naturally wonder what is going on, on an ‘unlucky’ day—bamboozled by others’ arrogance, ignorance and lack of politeness—when we could just as easily reduce such analyses to what we’re doing (or not doing) in the interactions.

Is it really the rest of the world at fault when my own thinking is stinking?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

When Divorce is the ONLY Option

Sometimes we do things that without forethought bring pain to others and I hate that when it happens; when I’m the perpetrator I mean. I always like to think that I can add value to things; to people’s lives and not detract—it’s heartbreaking when I fail.

All I can do is what I feel God instructs me to do. That is to say sorry and reach out for forgiveness.

This feeling is not too dissimilar from the sort of feeling one partner of a marriage experiences when they know there’s no option but to divorce. No matter the reason, there is always the guilt and shame that somehow must be reconciled, personally. This is beyond the absolute best they’ve done to hold the marriage together over the years. There comes a breaking point.

This process (of feeling God’s grace) can take years or even a lifetime to realise—often people will struggle with even contemplating the God-reality that they’re already forgiven, let alone living that as a reality. (And the experience of this forgiveness is felt via repentance. And it’s not as if hearts of this fashion in question aren’t already repentant i.e. God has forgiven them, but they, unfortunately, don’t experience that blessing.)

God’s All-Attending Grace

I don’t think any divorced Christian person—speaking personally and referring to others I’ve known—feels entirely comfortable in their position, but then there is the all-attending grace of God in any event. He forgives. No ifs or buts.

And like many others I feel God most certainly sanctions separating and divorcing in untenable marriages where one partner point blank refuses to respond to serious issues, say of abuse and neglect, serial cheating etc. Some marriages become plain unliveable.

In these cases I don’t even think it’s a case of forgiveness at all. I agree with some I hear; God’s wisdom is calling some marriages to divorce—there is no option.

What About the Kids?

Recently I reposted an article I wrote two years ago on divorce and the negative impacts for children.

And there are always negative impacts for children.

But at times we have to consider the worse of two evils and just simply decide against going there—or continuing there.

It’s the better option we need to courageously choose, seeking new life with hope for a good future pressing hard on our sails of faith.

[I certainly don’t pretend to be an expert in this field, but I do seek to be an encouraging voice for the lonely heart dealing with these issues and the like—when I miss that mark it grieves me. But then again I know I’m dealing with a very difficult and most sensitive subject. If I don’t cover your angle very well, or at all, please let me know so I can cater for and not isolate you. God’s will is that none of us are to be isolated in these situations of pain. And besides, I take very seriously grieving God’s Spirit through the grieving of yours.]

We believe in an all-attending God who can forgive all things—even those that weren’t even really our faults and where perhaps we were forced to act, to protect our children, for instance.

God is defender of the innocent and if that extends to getting kids out of harmful situations then I think he’s manufacturing the circumstances, even now, to establish more godly order, and a future, in those lives being harmed.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Trees Do Tell

“If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.”

~Kahlil Gibran.

This is a lesson for young players and old respectfully. It has relevance both to our very own confidences and others’ confidences too. As they say, if we’re not involved in a problem or its solution we shouldn’t get involved in the first place.

But how many of us have—to our demise, I might add?

The callous extrovert (this has certainly been me from time to time) is particularly vulnerable to spruiking awake what should remain asleep—and for reward comes any manner of embarrassment. This is bad enough as it happens to those discreet things of our own—heaven help us if it’s found to be others’ dirty linen we’re airing!

But it happens. It happens every day in every corner of the world. It’s no good berating ourselves.

Nailing the Lid Shut

How exactly do we train ourselves to restrain our tongues? And how do we encourage indiscreet others to respect the notional boundaries the rest of the world typically respects?

Well, perhaps it begins with understanding the rudimentary insidiousness of the problem we have. Understanding this is no small problem helps us appreciate we need God’s help through prayer. James says a salt spring cannot produce fresh water (James 3:12).

In other words, we’ll always be ‘given’ to this propensity to tell all and overly praise some whilst cursing others. We need God’s help—God will ask us if we’re really serious.

For others we’re around who have loose tongues, we need to gently, sensitively and courteously bring them to account each time; after sufficient warning(s) if the activity doesn’t cease we can then begin to patiently withdraw. Trust is not a given here; it’s got to be earned. We’re being firm but fair. We’re merely protecting us and ours from potential future harm.

These are important questions of privacy we all need to ask ourselves, and be prepared to answer. Where are we being transgressed and where are we transgressing?

Confidences – that Fine Balance

At times we take confidences too seriously and then we upset people we ordinarily should trust by withholding information unnecessarily from them. They might see this as an abuse of our power.

Attaining the balance is the key. Finding out what or how much of the confidence is ‘declarable’ is a good thing. It’s nice to be able to safely share what we can. Even better if we only know what others are able to know. There’s nothing better than being on the same page with others—it engenders trust and smashes fear.

It’s always good when we’re not imposing ourselves on others. There’s already enough imposition in life without us adding to it.

We should only impose ourselves to protect the vital truth.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Keeping Family Life Objective – It’s the Only Way

“We journalists make it a point to know very little about an extremely wide variety of topics; this is how we stay objective.”

~Dave Barry.

Isn’t it peculiar that our families often cause our worst emotional reactions? But, is it we or ‘they’ that sends us troppo?

Yet, this that follows is true. Even in our family affairs we can ill afford to let our emotions—left unrestrained and free—subjectively shift the balance of those relationships. Our lack of objectivity is ‘rewarded’ with much conflict, and some of this at times becomes irreconcilable.

Perhaps there’s a wise divestment of knowledge and ownership required to be a successful family member devoid of the strangling emotion that otherwise comes.

Little Ownership – Little Risk – Little Emotion

Like the journalist profiled, we become adept at having very few inflexible views, unless we feel certain members might then take advantage—and some always will.

We need to stay balanced and objective, even when others are becoming upset. We can only do this when we take all views into account and still refuse to get emotional, even after we decide what we need to do.

Emotions never really help.

Accountability for Words and Actions is Required in Families Too

We do have the responsibility to keep our families accountable to the code of love that we too are prepared to abide by. We lead by example, which is the cherishable hope in all families.

The key to successful life in family is being adult as much as possible.

Everyone younger than us and certainly those less ‘senior’ in the family should be able to rely upon and trust in our objectivity—it should be a given.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trusting the Eye and the Eye Only!

“Better what the eye sees

than the roving of the appetite.”

~Ecclesiastes 6:9a (NIV).

Comparisons produce envy and vice versa. Materialism is a great one for producing the girding desire to have what the Jones’s have.

The featured verse above is really contrasting two actions.

Simply said, we’re far better off to simply take ‘possession’ of what we see than we are in chasing the image of owning what we see. The first action is the correct one; it’s the only one that’s always ours through this marvellous gift of sight—if we’re truly fortunate to see.

True ‘Ownership’

Is it possible, do you think, to enjoy the shiny red Ferrari purring beautifully down the road? Our eyesight has gifted us with a stunningly resplendent thing to see. It is a possession. We own it. Its beauty for that moment is ours. It’s ours as much as anyone else’s on the planet.

Take this a step further, however—once we’ve started to drool—and our ‘roving appetite’ is the beginning of the destruction of us. Our envy has this instant outstripped our fleeting ownership.

The great thing in this truth—if we can hold it—is we can have the whole world whilst never owning anything.

We don’t need to chase the materialistic dream—the cars, the home, the clothes, the toys and trinkets, good looks—when we ‘possess’ simply what our eyes see. And an even better truth... the best things in life are free! Nothing, for instance, compares with nature. God’s green earth captivates us more than any human-made thing.

Working Hard for the Money

We spend our lives working endless overtime or working our fingers to the bone for not only our family’s food and shelter, but for the material desires of the heart. Many people could work less hours in a less stressful job if they’d be satisfied with less materially.

The frustrating thing is, we’ll never be truly happy chasing our riches. We can only commence the journey to joy in rejecting the world, i.e. our chasing after it, to go after the spiritual life.

Vanity, too, is meaningless. We will all end up older and whilst we can prolong the demise it is far better to appreciate the growing venture into the wisdom of agedness than deny the inevitable. Why would we not also ‘take possession’ of our maturing looks that testify to God’s grace through the end years of our lives? We will always be beautiful to God.


To enjoy what the eye sees is a solid possession; to chase past this, however, is to never possess anything, for the desires are never sated. The latter, as Qoheleth (the teacher of Ecclesiastes) would say, is a chasing after the wind.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Handle (Me) with Care – ‘Been Beat Up, Battered Around’

Rarely do we see class on the scale of the late 1980’s Traveling Wilburys.

This little “happy accident” and “perfect collaboration” by five acknowledged rock music legends was to lead to one of those magic moments in life when all things collude together for good.

The abovementioned song took the world by storm at the time, almost as much as it did the band members, comprising George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison.

It has an absorbingly soothing message.

Sensitive to the growing pains we all go through in life—and continually so—these stars stepped their way serendipitously back into the common difficulties of life that hound the proudest and humblest multimillionaire alike, as much as each of us.

It discusses this nature of life that, well... suggests life truly is the not-so-perfect happenstance that we’d like it to be. We wish it (life) would treat us better.

It reminds us that we’re all “beat up and battered around” from time to time; that we all need to be handled with care, and additionally, that we need to actually handle others with care.

The song’s lyrics take us high above life where we can see things from a more philosophical, long term viewpoint. And the gentle grooving guitar-rich harmony these guys stumbled upon makes this thread an enduring musical wonder so engorged unto the heart.

But, the biggest thrill of this work of art is its broadness of application.

Its jumping-off point is scarcely truer—handle us with care—but it doesn’t stamp some overly dominant feature or statement on it.

It simply leaves the listener to muse into the imaginative sunsets of their personal situations.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Reference: Traveling Wilburys Official Website “The Traveling Wilburys” at: http://www.travelingwilburys.com/default/index/

Saturday, May 22, 2010

We All Desire to Feel Special

Everyone comes into the world feeling they have a place. This is evidenced in no surer way than when we look around and compare ourselves with others—call it human instinct. When we suddenly don’t feel special there’s a void inside that we intuitively seek to reconcile.

And the reason we feel this is because God has made us all this way—to have the desire to be appreciated. He, indeed, desires to be appreciated. We’re made in his image.

This is why our relationships—all of them, to the farthest neighbour—are important. Everyone deserves to feel special in our midst.

Those who’ve adapted to not feel this way end up harming others. I truly wonder how much mental illness, vice and abuse etc is caused by the victim or perpetrators’ not being loved and appreciated. Not that we feel sorry for people who hurt people, but at the same time it’s true, “hurt people, hurt people.” In other words, those who feel loved don’t hurt others.

As we cast an eye over all our relationships we can now attend to that one we’re neglecting or the other we’re abusing. It is not easy to make everyone feel special, but it is our duty to try.

We only need to think of the impact of feeling less-than-special has on us personally and this motivates us positively.

Creating time where we can commend people as special and appreciate them is really important. Indeed, it’s a great way of intercession where we positively input, and powerfully so, into another’s life.

Of course, we know this works by the people who’ve made us feel special.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Big Problem – Work Quickly, Think Deeply

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way.”

~Matthew 5:25a (NIV).

We hear stories on the News on occasion where jewel heists and art theft have taken place. A recent episode in France includes no less than five priceless paintings swiped by a single bandit, obviously supported by an intricate web of support.

Time is of the Essence

The key to recovering these artworks is covering as much ground as possible in the first day or two after the event. The longer time goes on, the colder the trail leading to the lost art will go.

In my day work I’ve conducted many incident investigations, and trying to piece together the historical truth of what actually occurred is made much easier and simpler hours after the event than it is days and weeks after when poor memory retention—and hence reliability of fact—is a key issue.

The abovementioned verse from the Sermon on the Mount was mentioned in the context of recovering anger with humility, but there is another application.

When things are getting out of control, we need to get to work to quickly resolve it. Sure, the horse may’ve bolted but we might still catch it at the ravine as it sips its water, thinking all’s safe and recapture an improbability.

This also has a specific application in our relationships.

Acting/Reacting ‘Now’ on Relationship Problems

Damage control is important in all our lives.

Whether we’re recovering lost art works or relationships we require wisdom and diligence. The former will involve investigating for fact. The latter requires vision, humility and courage to foresee and act upon the darker times ahead i.e. to prevent them by acting now.

The longer we leave problems the more the other party (or parties) are left to wonder why, and for us, escaping the ensuing innuendo is then much harder. Delay is often not good.

Beyond the time needed for both people to check their emotions, a more immediate response to recover problems proves we’re serious and care about the matters at hand.

Reconnaissance Often Reveals a Bigger ‘Fix’ is Required

Big problems generally feature unusually big fixes.

This suggests an immediate ‘reconnaissance’ mission will normally reveal some level of surprise as to what is actually required to get things back on track. We might think the other person is taking things too far.

As far as our relationships are concerned we’re loath to underestimate the magnitude of our problems. We’re far better off to take them more seriously and then lighten up when the other person who’s aggrieved at us assures us of this.

We should always deal quickly with our problems; not letting them fester beyond control or recovery.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I hate the polarising infractions of intolerance, greed and arrogance. The lustful few conform time and have their kingdoms custom designed to their own needs totally forsaking the planet and all creation.

We’re destroying ourselves.

This destruction is as catastrophic in the physical sense as any. The past two hundred years of industrialisation have merely put this physical blight on us—a blight that’s been part of our make-up for eons.

Notwithstanding the democracies of the world, and of ‘wise’ governments, we seem absolutely confounded in reversing this growing catastrophe.

We massage the figures and debate the debates, always hedging our bets, never seeming able to forge the distance needed to commend our futures in safety.

But safety is not really the point. Faith is.

But faith slingshots us back to safety every time, for faith is all about virtuous diligence—a responsibility for what is ours.

We must care.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Here’s to the Short Memory!

“So, let’s now raise a toast to it,” said the master of ceremonies, at the grand annual function at Forgiveness Hall. All those assembled, endowed wonderfully to its truth, were keenly interested to celebrate this toast. They owe it so much, perhaps their very lives.

They’re toasting the ‘short memory,’ that attribute of character that quickly and absolutely forgets the wrongs that occur to us.

A Beaut Feast

Imagining this feast where the toast takes place we think of the merriment had and the strength of spiritual poise there in each person.

Each one presumably has their own story of stringent injustice piled atop learning opportunities by the dozen, and equally the resilient wisdom known only to a rare, comparative few. Boy oh boy; what a feast this one is! Not a harsh thought, word or deed. Complete safety is known... no wonder the guests end up reluctant to leave.

As dinner guest upon dinner guest walk to the podium to give their praises to this wholly faithful attribute of the godly character the place is a melting buzz. God, at last, is given his dues as the Source of this incredibly simple thing where ‘harm’ is an historic, almost forgotten appendage.

The evening reaches a crescendo as the master of ceremonies suggests to the huge throng, “Let’s make this a monthly event and let’s commence training and recruiting; this message is not just ours!” Everyone to a person chants their approval.

The Short Memory is Our Key

Even though a short memory in most forms of life is not a very desirable thing to brag about, as far as forgiveness is concerned, it’s terribly critical. It brings life, hope and freedom from caging fear.

If we have a short memory we are able to resist the interminable resentments that plague us to an inevitable anger. And anger is a condemning, hellish problem the world over.

It is too easy to nurture our resentments, rolling them around our mouths like gravel, we cycle through the tracks of our memories and are further polarised in our raging views—we’ve been wronged and someone’s got to pay; and it might as well be anyone. Shudder to think who might innocently get into our way.

The long memory in this context is an aberrant curse. There is no peace there. The short memory, erased moments after each attack or offense is encountered, however, is a cool blessing.

Like a tape or a disc that can be overwritten, we pray that our God would bless us with a good short memory.

And as soon as we do, we hear his gentle voice say simply,

Start... for I AM with you.”

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.