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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Love Bears, Believes, Hopes, Endures

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
—1 Corinthians 13:7-8a (NRSV)
What are we without love? We are without hope or reason to live. Love is the essence of life. Love never loses faith and never loses hope. Love is never overcome. Rather, love overcomes.
Love Bears All Things
Love puts up with anything—but this in not meant in terms of abuse and neglect. No, love can strengthen our resolve to put up with anything that is godly; to put up with the strains of: financial worries, disabled children, geriatric parents, relational conflict, the loss of loved ones, and many other forms of suffering known within normal life.
Because love bears all things it gives us the ability to bounce back from setbacks.
When we can bear all things we don’t give up easily.
Love Believes All Things
Love supplies the tools, the capacity, and the wherewithal for the faith. Faith can be pushed all the way, with limitless capacity, so long as it is underpinned in the perfection of love. It imbues peace.
With such a thing compelling us in life, we see people in a positive light, and the benefit of the doubt is our preference, not that we are easily fooled. But we want to believe in the goodness and sanctity of life.
With limitless faith we can do almost anything in life.
Love Hopes All Things
This is similar to the above. With infinite facility, hope fuels belief and energises our capacity to believe.
When we think of never giving up, we think of never losing hope. Even when hope is distant, perhaps for a time invisible, there is sufficient hope to believe hope will return. Hope never needs to be visible. Hope can transcend the human need of sight in order to see the way.
When we have hope that endures all things we have love abiding.
Love Endures All Things
With the ability for longsuffering, love’s patience attests to the virtuous strength that the Spirit of God supplies. Love’s endurance glorifies God.
When we love in ways to endure, longer and longer, never giving up, we also attest to this strength in love that empowers our endurance. With love we can remain.
In love, is power to put up with what seems impossible, to grow, to believe the incredible and see, to hope beyond sight and believe, and to endure many more things than we think we can endure. Love transcends failure. It never ends.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thankful for the Love

I’m thankful for the love infused in my heart,
Oh what a way for each day to start!
When envy and boasting have been dismissed,
I know by God that my heart’s been kissed.
I’m thankful for the love infused in my mind,
Fantastically able to endure the grind,
When love causes me to own and repent,
I know that God’s grace will never relent.
I’m thankful for the love infused in my soul,
A wondrous thought—it’s my divine role,
When I commit to be open it surely will occur,
Feelings for God—this love will stir.
What is it about God’s love that so rules the heart, mind, and soul?
To have allowed the Lord of Glory access into our lives, by virtue of our spiritual openness to even begin to understand the complexities of life and eternity, we have been graced by such a magnificent and never-more-worthy a thing as love.
What Love Does
Love, truthfully said, invades the heart, mind, and soul.
At our degrees of openness—to allow God in, access-all-areas within us—we have been ensconced to a thing that takes complete control in apportionment to our ongoing willingness to be party to God’s agenda.
This is a superlative thought; a concept so wonderful.
Love comes in and fixes all sorts of things—propensities for pride, envy, greed, anger; all the seven deadly sins in one life, possibly—all in accord with our youthful submission.
Love has the power to fix us. Of course, we still have the wrangling sinful nature.
But love makes it possible to transcend the selfish self, and God will give us conscious control—to determine the moment whether we surrender or not—whether we go the easy way of love or the hard way of many varieties of fear.
Thankful from the Start of Each Day
This is one thing we can do to nurture this love in our hearts, minds, and souls.
When we commence each day in a mood of thankfulness for the love in our hearts, minds, and souls, we agree that God is good. Some days this is natural. Other days we really don’t feel like. But God can restore us to love in many ways. The faith to pray in thankfulness will get us over the line.
Perhaps the wisest commitment of all is to commence each day in the way we wish the rest of our days to go—to start in thankfulness for love that resides deep within us through the Holy Spirit.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coming Back to the Spiritual Life

Why are we in such a hurry,
To get everywhere,
Why is everything a scurry,
Without the presence of care?
Why is it natural,
To be blown by the wind,
When all we need to know,
Is we’ve comprehensively sinned?
Why do we push things,
To the point where we scare,
Why do we stay in conflict,
When frustration’s what we bear?
Why do we not wonder more,
About this wonderful life,
What is it about it,
That cuts like a knife?
Why do we take helplessness,
When the answer’s right there,
Why do we shun hopefulness,
Which is to know divine care?
Why do we not instead,
Take the divine lead,
Putting the self to bed,
In surrendering to feed our need.
Coming prayerfully into the Presence,
Of the Holy Spirit inside,
That’s to know Divine essence,
A journey to revelation we ride.
The Journey Into Divine Revelation
Gaining access to the spiritual life is patently simple, but increasingly hard to achieve in our busy day. What is never easier becomes paradoxically hard. We make it hard in the ways we complicate our lives, even conceding that our lives are complicated, sometimes beyond simplification.
We may not realise any sense of God speaking to us, realistically, without jettisoning the selfish, preoccupied, prideful, and busy self. We need to empty ourselves of ourselves—even momentarily. When we get away from all the noise of life, and there are simple ways of doing it every day, we do receive little glimpses of this divine revelation that can set our lives on Fire.
This fire is of transformation. It is a miracle. It is something we cannot affect, unless by inviting God through making ourselves available through surrender.
When we are surrendered, and God has our fullest attention, even if for minutes, our hearts and minds are opened to receive this revelation that would inform us in ways to set us spiritually free. This is no painkilling injection for the soul. When we inhabit this spiritual space all that is truthful is able to be borne—in mind and in heart. We do not shirk the truth, but we peacefully rest beyond the pain of it. The truth and the pain may be present but they do not affect us. There is a simple courage of faith we are living at this time.
The God-present spiritual life, where we are open to divine revelation, is the answer to all our woes. When we open our hearts and minds in ways to surrender ourselves to the wonder of life, even within pain, we can experience the peace of God that transcends our understanding.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Christians, Beware this Twitter Trap

This article is really nothing more than a rant, but one with spiritual ramifications.
There is a type of Christian believer on social media these days—especially on Twitter—who actively ‘recruits’ followers simply for the sake of growing their ministries. Proof of this is by the many that they will follow, for an hour or day or two, and then unfollow. One moment they are following 600 people, the next moment they follow a mere 60. (How does that work?)
I can’t see much point in recruiting followers; we should follow someone’s tweets presumably for some edification benefit. To follow simply to be followed back, I think, reveals that person as having a lack of integrity. That follower is simply following to be followed back; they have no intent to follow genuinely. And besides, who could possibly follow one thousand or more and not have their eyes spin, with tweets coming in so thick and fast that there isn’t enough time to enjoy the pre-social media life.
A Christian’s Integrated Life
At the centre of a Christian’s life is his or her integrity. That is, the ability to grow our hearts toward Jesus so that we back-up our Sunday-worship facade with a seven-day-a-week devotion to God that is truly integrated.
True integration is a matter of living our lives so honestly that the exterior life merely represents the interior life, for there is nothing hidden.
This is a scary reality, for we risk exposure, rejection, and shame. There are so many these days, and in any day, really, that work hard to achieve a solid exterior life, but privately battle with truly destructive interior lives. We should all relate.
Integration is genuinely our biggest objective of discipleship, in becoming more Christlike. A life where we no longer need to pretend, where we can be devout but also not hide a thing is the life every Christian is called to.
One good test of integrating our spirituality in the battle with the flesh is our ability to shun popularity for popularity’s sake; in the case of some people’s use of Twitter, to not use people. We don’t follow people so they will follow us back. We only follow people if we genuinely want to follow them.
If we wish to live the true Christian life we must shun flesh desires to be popular and grow our number bases; to recruit hundreds or thousands of followers. Social media is a potential trap for influencers and would-be influencers. In the surge for popularity we leave our relationships with God far behind.
What benefit is there to gain the whole world yet lose our very souls? (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36)
The more we reject our flesh desire, the clamour for popularity, for instance, the more spiritual Presence of God we will experience.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Source: Monster Working.

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 Great Quotes on Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The ability to forgive or to hold resentments—both of these come from the heart; one that is cleansed, the other that is marked with carnality. It can be seen, therefore, that the ability to forgive is something not that dependent on our effort. There is more dependence on our will to surrender.
When we embrace the constant attitude of love beyond selfishness, we agree that forgiveness and grace are the portions with which we live our lives by.
“Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive.”
—W. Paul Young, The Shack
This is a very safe truth. When we know that, via our forgiveness, there is no implication or responsibility to trust, we can forgive without threat of contingency. This simplifies our forgiveness. We can forgive wholeheartedly when we don’t have to trust. And when we have forgiven, we open the way for the other to earn our trust back. That’s the right order of things. Forgive first; resume relational transactions later.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
—Mark Twain
Forgiveness gives no matter what. Even as it is crushed under the heel it gives off a lovely aroma. Forgiveness neither harms nor is harmed. She is an utterly safe companion. Having said this, the compassion in forgiveness surprises almost everyone. The world could do with so much more of this genteel but strong quality.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
—Nelson Mandela
Who in their right minds would drink poison? We know the hazards associated. Yet we drink the poison of our resentments, and we hardly even recognise the cost. How can an ingested poison harm an entity that hasn’t ingested it? Yet, this is how we treat ourselves.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
—C.S. Lewis
Without a doubt, most of all, this is the chief reason we must forgive. The character of our humanity is transgression. We deceive, disparage, and defy the portents of love with generous regularity. When we consider the range of the inexcusable that we are responsible for, and we consider God’s forgiveness of all that, as well as all that is to come, we stand astonished at this copious, amazing grace.
The faith involved in forgiveness has us blessed by God’s wisdom. Every risk of sacrifice is confirmed as courageous and right in the sight of God. Letting go of negativity and resentments is the biggest task in experiencing the grace of God.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Father’s Principal Project – to Love

“I have found that having children from two separate marriages can be very difficult. It can be emotionally rending and you can understand why men want to give up. But you’ve got to fight this and get involved. In the end you become very bonded to your children—there is nothing like it.”
—Peter Hillary, Mountaineer
A resurgence is taking place in our world today regarding the task of fathering. It seems clear that certain trends are being highlighted and the need for fathers to step up to the plate and become more engaged with their children is now widely known. I have italicised the word “involved” above, for the pure reason that if we, as fathers, get involved in our children’s lives—I mean, by being interested enough to listen for the intimate details of need in their lives—we will no doubt have opportunities to demonstrate our unconditional love and prove to them how special they are.
Fathering can be seen as a project—one that commences at our children’s conception and is completed in our deaths; where our legacy is left ad infinitum.
As fathers, we have a special duty to perform in the lives of our children, which can be described in the acronym, B.U.S.
1. Being There – Willing, Able, and Emotionally Present
Getting involved is reaching first base in our parenting. When we throw ourselves into the task of involvement, within our children’s daily routines, quickly we realise the value of being there, willing to be there, able to help however we are called to help, and emotionally present for the inevitable problems and opportunities that emerge.
It begins in willingness, is manifest in our ability to help, and is made sure in our emotional capacity to help make our children feel safe through our calm, trusting and respectful demeanour.
2. Unconditional Love – Beyond Judgment for Performance
We could argue that most, if not all, fathers love their kids. But unconditional love is harder. It is an intentional love that gets beyond judgment for performance. It is a love that transcends our children’s behaviour, their academic and sporting performance, their looks, and their beliefs and values.
Unconditional love can never be affected. It is its own rule. A loving father wouldn’t protect his child from the full consequences of life, but he would be there for him or her, no matter what.
3. Special – Making Our Kids Feel Just That
Every child is special, just as every human being is unique and wonderfully made.
Our children need to know this. We need to be intentional about telling them how special they are. We need to say the words. We need to find creative ways of making them feel special. When our kids feel special they feel safe and worthy and are much more likely to be happy in life.
Being a father is just about the most important project any man can undertake. It is a project that consumes his life, from beginning to end. It is a labour of love.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Special acknowledgement to Professor Bruce Robinson: founder of The Fathering Project. The BUS acronym is part of The Fathering Project.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Team Called Marriage

God has been showing me, more and more of late, that marriage is quintessentially teamwork. But teamwork is such a broad concept we are easily lost in our conceptions of what that might entail, especially where love, cohabitation, children and extended family are added to the mix, often confusing the concept of marriage.
In short, the times I’ve found myself in marital peril, arguing and unsatisfied and generally loathing the arrangement, are the times when I’ve been selfish; when my worldview has been me, myself, I. I get so glad when God reveals this folly to me. God has asked me many times to rise up from within my situational lament to become a better partner. I believe this is an underpinning request from the Lord to all who are married.
Sometimes in marriage we get too dependent, or, the other extreme, too independent.
In a team called marriage we are called to become interdependent—a discreet mix of both dependence and independence.
Interdependence is a good working model to understand teamwork within marriage.
Interdependence in Marriage
When we get marriage right joy exists, both partners are happy, there is room for humour, and differences are appreciated, even celebrated—the team has diversity, spontaneity, openness within it, mutuality, and the ability to share.
This vision of marriage, above, is achieved when both partners are committed to interdependence. When both partners realise the importance of working for their little team, every other person dependent on that team wins.
Interdependence in marriage is about taking responsibility for whatever we can do to enhance the team. We don’t get bogged down by comparisons over what he did or she does, or didn’t do. Comparisons are generally unhealthy and take us into deep dissatisfaction.
When we can enjoy the work within marriage—the chores, the time spent, the errands, the intimacy and passion invested, etc—all of it—we begin to understand the value of interdependence. We understand we are making a contribution. We understand others are dependent on us as we are on them. But we also understand the importance of independence so far as responsibility is concerned. It is our responsibility to contribute, independent of the quality and quantity of our partner’s contribution.
God delights us when we suddenly realise we are able to contribute.
If we are a bright and joyful partner, we encourage our partner to become the same, but this is never forced or coerced. They are who they decide they are. We are blessed, most personally, when we understand we have issued this freedom to them; to be entirely themselves. And we can appreciate the many facets of our partners’ contributions. We begin to see their contributions more and more.
This, of course, is a faith task. We sow in faith, with a desire for a healthy marriage, and we generally reap in eventual joy, if we are married partners both with potential.
Marriage is a team if there ever was one. When good teamwork exists, those relying on the marriage have generally happy lives. A good marriage is a nucleus from which all of life therefore springs.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mastering Emotional Regulation

One of the worst problems we experience in life, within social settings, is the phenomenon of feeling controlled by other people. When we feel out of control, with the implication that others are more in control than we are, emotional regulation becomes a major challenge.
Our biggest mistake in these situations is that we broaden notions of control beyond what we can control. We delve into areas of life that are no concern to us. No wonder we struggle, because we have placed ourselves in tenuous emotional positions.
Mastering emotional regulation is simply about disciplining ourselves to focus on what we can do and to stop focusing on what we can’t do.
“What Can I Do?”
When we feel emotionally awry, or simply a little unhappy with a particular outcome, we can ask questions like this, which centre us. For a moment we may be frustrated with the answer. We may not be able to do much except accept the situation as it is.
But there is an irony within the control here.
It’s not what the other person or people did or does that counts, but it’s what we did and what we can do that makes the biggest difference regarding the regulation of our emotions.
We take too much responsibility for other people’s emotions and not enough responsibility for our own emotions. No wonder we are confused with regard to our affect. To emphasise personal control we need to centre back again upon what we can influence.
Whenever we accept the boundaries within our own personal control, emotional regulation becomes never easier. It also helps for us to see aspects of their brokenness and our wholeness.
Their Brokenness and Our Wholeness
We too often see it the other way around—their wholeness and advantage and our brokenness and lack of capacity.
Seeing another person’s fallibility is a blessing to them, as our grace forgives them for their frailties of character. Like us, they are far from perfect. They may do things to upset us, but they have less control over their interactions with us than they would like. And, there’s nothing wrong with seeing ourselves with a capacity for wholeness.
If we are broken, and we all are, we also have aspects of wholeness that ought to be celebrated.
The boundaries of our personal control are safety for us regarding our emotional regulation. The more we ask, “What can I do?” the more we reinforce what we can actually influence. Our emotions become less like a roller coaster and more like a steady drive through the countryside.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Anger Management’s Early Warning System

Connecting with our anger in productive ways occurs when we enquire of our annoyances whilst we still easily bear them.
At a highly piqued awareness—perhaps we could call it pre-frustration—we have not waited until the pot is about to boil over. We watch that pot, which is our propensity to flare into a rage, closely, and we monitor it in order to learn from it.
We watch it so that we can learn, for wisdom comes from being a student of one’s self, and not just as a student of life and of other people. God wants us interrogating our own psyches.
Anger can teach us much, but frustration and annoyances even more.
It’s better to pay careful attention to the activators of our anger which manifest through feelings of our frustration and annoyance.
Exploring Our Personal and Interpersonal Frustration
We might wonder if we’ve ever taken the time to write a list of the things that annoy us. When we have such knowledge we can ask ourselves, why?
Forearmed is forewarned, they say, and knowing the things that drive us to distraction—and, more importantly why—helps us manage our frustration and it gives us better control over our anger.
The question of why can be intriguing or even frustrating of its own accord if we don’t know why. But we will never know unless we ask the question and explore it within our minds and even within conversations with other people—“why does this/that frustrate me?” “Does it frustrate others, similarly?” “Is it a problem to be frustrated by this?” “What are the consequences of this frustration?” “Is there potential that I could blow my top?”
These are all important questions, but the most important question is always why.
Accepting That We Will Have Frustrations
Once we have a good understanding of what frustrations we have, and why it is we have these frustrations, we can set about doing what work we can to manage them.
Part of this workload is coming to a healthy acceptance that we will have frustrations.
Further than this, as thinking and feeling persons, with personalities quite unique, we will have views based on the values and beliefs we hold dear. Frustrations emanate out of these, but we should be conscious of them.
The frustrations that occur that we are not conscious of, regarding the why, are the ones we want to understand—these might speak to our character flaws; those things we don’t like about ourselves; those things that other people incite from within us in manifest anger for the things we can’t seem to change about ourselves.
Being aware of what frustrates us and why is a good thing. Frustrations, when we learn about them, and why we have them, can help us by converting our anger energies into healthier responses. Frustrations and annoyances can be useful early warnings to prevent full-blown rage.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting Out of the Blame Game

Antagonism’s like competition,
Two take turns to attack,
But when one stops the Blame Game,
Peace is what we tend to attract.
We do tend to suspect that the blame game gets us nowhere.
It seems the instant defence we lurch to when we are attacked—we respond, at least from within, by defence of counter-attack. It’s instinctive.
Sometimes we only realise what we’ve done well after the event.
Their blame of us begets our blame of them. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Getting out of the cycle of blaming people when they have let us down is not as hard as it looks and we derive peace as a result.
The thing is any time we get sucked into the blame game it backfires.
We lose our peace.
Blame and Peace Cannot Coexist
We get stewed up over how betrayed we’ve become. In trying to fix the blame where we think it belongs some of it inevitably attaches itself to us by the way we feel. When we feel aggrieved within peace cannot coexist.
Blame someone else and we give ourselves the perverse permission to feel resentful. This is madness. To protect ourselves from resentment we must treat the other person as fairly as we can.
When we blame people we are not being fair on them.
We may see them as responsible for something they have not done well, but we cannot afford to attribute blame. Blame implies we have an emotional response to what has occurred. Whatever somebody has done or hasn’t done should be able to rest there as a fact without us becoming emotional.
There is a place for us in coexisting with people in our relationships where we can allow them to fail, as we can allow ourselves to fail, without getting overly emotional about it. When we arrive at this place, peace is what we derive; peace for all concerned.
Seeing Life Beyond Blame
Blame is always counter-productive. When we devote our emotional energy to blaming thinking and behaving we are really saying we are happy living life off-track. Nobody who wants the abundant life should do that. Blaming behaviours send us off into tributaries of violence away from where life is truly at.
Our challenge, if we are truly interested in the abundant life, is to get beyond the blame game. There are possibilities to love even those who would be blameworthy. There are possibilities to forgive those who blame us. When we are out of the blame game we begin to see the options to love.
Seeing life beyond blame is the ability to see life in true perspective. It’s when we devote ourselves to the broader life of divine vision, where we ask God for sight we would normally not receive. Such sight is the God-perspective, where we begin to see all people and all situations as loveworthy.
Blame is like a domino,
It sets off a chain of regret,
Love is also like a domino,
It sets off a chain of needs met.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.