What It's About

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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Process for Family C.A.R.E.

STRUGGLES are the definition of this life, especially in the context of family. Wherever there is dysfunction struggles may be exacerbated. We have these dysfunctions in us, not to mention the more complex dynamics present in interpersonal relationships. Add to this the complexities of loving those we are bonded by blood to – many familial clashes occur in many families.
Struggles are obvious. Complexities in relationships, too, are obvious.
But God has destined that we use these two things together – family support to help in our struggles. And where there is no family, the presence of others who love and care as family might. If we extrapolate the idea of family we may all find the presence of caring, somehow, within our communities.
Here is a process for realising help in our lives:
1.      Communicate – it’s no good bottling up the emotions that come from conflict, whether the conflict is from an interpersonal relationship or a frustration from within us alone. Engaging in conversation with loved ones is a way we can get things off our chests. When we talk we give voice to our emotions, we hear ourselves speak, and hopefully we get caring feedback from the other person.
2.      Anticipate – we need to anticipate problems that may come, by regularly considering them mindfully and discussing them. This is about being mindful of our expectations as much as anything, and being prepared for what might come. When we are prepared we may adequately respond.
3.      Reassure – how wonderful is it that we may provide someone assurance, or be on the receiving end of authentic comfort. Family members should be positioned and be able to give and receive support, as reassurance, from each other. We need to be careful, however, that the reassurance is not flippantly delivered, but from a heart of genuine care.
4.      Explore – when we have problems, and after we have been heard, we have the opportunity of exploring our options. We are not hemmed in as much as we often think we are. Options provide choice and choice is empowering. Feeling empowered when embattled is the gift of the grace of God.
Family members can support each other when they encourage communication, anticipate struggles before they come, reassure each other, and explore options for empowerment.
Families are best placed to C.A.R.E. – Communicate, Anticipate, Reassure, Explore.
Encourage communication.
Anticipate struggles.
Reassure each other.
Explore options.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Never Underestimate the Power of Your Testimony

There is a hidden, golden truth,

Uncovered every now and then,

When another has the courage to share,

Others find their ‘when’.

“I’ve had addiction, depression,

And made all sorts of mistakes,”

When we hear these words,

There’s a release of our brakes.

When we see vulnerability,

We see God’s power,

It liberates us in order,

To be honest this very hour.

Never underestimate the power,

In your very own story,

In such a way – in finding peace,

We reveal all God’s miraculous Glory.


It is never too late to have a new beginning.

Having had a life where I frequently felt I’d wasted my life – that there was no coming back from ‘here’ – I am still so incredibly amazed how God has brought me to a place where I can contribute in his Kingdom. And amazingly, my life isn’t a waste; it’s a taste of his glory in one life that might liberate others.

Recently, I had a very courageous woman share with me the sharing of her testimony before a chapel service. Incredibly, her truth and her vulnerability opened the way for another, and yet another, to visibly approach her – “your story spoke into my own! – thank you.” One person’s courage has liberated another to tarry with the truth. One person’s honesty has given birth to another’s. One person’s humility has helped another be truthful in the setting that is their very own life.

And in all this the glory of God is revealed.

As the hiddenness of shame, guilt and unworthiness are smashed – the darkness gone because of the beaconing of light – we find truth gives us legs.

When the light comes in the form of truth, God is revealed in all his fabulous and irrefutable glory – in and through the vessel containing his majesty.

As we share our stories of God’s work in us, we liberate not only ourselves, but others, as the Spirit works in them, through us, in our inner beings.

These are no short glories. God’s power rests in such a thing as the truth in love. Having given ourselves unto God – for his reckoning and use – adding our courage to his faithfulness to draw us through – he gives us words to speak that speak life into others’ lives. We become more the same and less isolated.


It is never too late to have a new beginning. Sharing how God has brought us through is both power and grace, to the liberation of others to be real and honest. Sharing gives people courage to be vulnerable, and in that is the glory of God.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Poems and Words for Your Encouragement

When will we ever learn,
To be gentle with ourselves?
To give ourselves every chance,
To live what God compels.
This abundant grace in God,
Has forgiven us so,
We might live to accept,
That to berate is not to grow.
Life is harsh enough without us berating ourselves making matters worse. To get out of the barn of self-criticism is to move out into the pasture of growth. God has saved us through His Son in order that we might grow.
As dark clouds descend,
Over a life turned south,
We become desperate to mend,
What we can’t utter from the mouth.
But as thoughts turn inward,
And the search now intensifies,
We are moving ever forward,
Despite what our self-esteem denies.
God wants us to search for a way out of the Labyrinth of suffering. As we search we are forgiven for thinking we are getting nowhere. We have to remind ourselves that we are actually moving ever forward. And we are, as we look back via hindsight. Trust that.
Help me to be aware,
That in You I’m eternally free,
And of what it really cost You,
In order to save me.
Help me marvel sincerely now,
At the glory in Your grace,
And help me ever to continue,
To abide in seeking Your face.
And as I consider what’s before me
The precious Saviour’s gift,
Will You restore me afresh, today,
To cause my soul to lift.
Now to Him Who is Glory,
To the LORD now on High,
To Him is the Majesty,
Who no one should deny,
To Him be our offering,
Of love now confirmed,
His anointing to be proffering,
And it is not to be spurned.
When we love God, He speaks into our hearts by the anointing of His spiritual gifts. God desires we use them. This is how we love. Through the multiplicity of our spiritual gifting – to love, to encourage, to lift up and build-up through our serving – as living sacrifices of joy and peace and goodwill to all. Let us not reject this calling of God into our hearts. It is our very divine salvation of sanctification.
Accept being busy
As a blessing from the LORD.
Accept being of good use
As your very divine accord.
For in a person’s diligence
Is also their esteem,
In a person’s diligence,
Is power to live one’s dream.
If we refuse to be discouraged we refuse to become overwhelmed. This is a truth that may be applied. But it is a truth more relevant to some seasons of life than others. Best we are not too hard on ourselves.
Everyone needs encouragement,
Every now and then,
So build up one other,
Lift up both women and men.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Forgiveness, When You’ve Tried Everything Else

FATIGUE sets in as the coming of a sunset; though, not peaceful nor welcome. It’s frustrating when you’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked. I wonder if this is God’s intention: to allow us no satisfaction in attempting things our own way; all in order to show us that it’s only his way that sustainably works, ever.

In a relational life, where we cannot get away from conflicted relationships and emotions and outcomes, we will rub up against seemingly irreconcilable states of thought and being.

We will all experience what it is like to feel betrayed, to land in the desert of disappointment, to know indignant envy at the injustices meted out to us in comparison to others, among the myriad life outcomes anyone could expect of life.

None of us will get it first time. None of us is born with a good grasp on grace. Everyone gets at least a taste of what it’s like to react angrily to a world that just doesn’t understand. In this way we are like islands; never really to be understood.

But this is where God has broken through. God has sent us an example: Jesus Christ. Through the Son of God and his exemplification of the grace to forgive every single injustice (and Jesus suffered significantly more injustice than we could ever suffer) we have the example.

The only way to move on effectively from the hurts of the world is to surrender them to God: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” These words have tremendous power. No one would do what they are doing (or have done) to us if they were us – if they knew the truth behind their actions in the way it makes us feel. If they were us they would desist immediately. They know not what they do. They know not its true effects. Their actions are ignorant. They know only life from their angle of things. And pity them for not attempting to understand. This is why to the one with Christ is to love the other as ourselves; to treat people as we would like to be treated.

When a person cannot be expected to know what it is like to be me, how can I expect them to understand how betrayed I feel or how disappointed I am?

When we have tried everything else in dealing with our anger and resentment, surely forgiveness is worth a go. Surrendering ourselves to the Lord, we begin to understand what it is like for another person to not understand being us.

When we spend even a moment thinking of things from another’s angle we begin to understand forgiveness. They know not what they do or have done to us. They can’t be expected to know. But we can begin to understand them. And that’s how we move toward forgiveness. Understand them.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Making It Clear What You Hold Dear

Silence broods,
Silly little moods,
Seems there’s a problem right here,
Not sure what to do,
Challenge what’s true?
Whatever, just challenge the fear.
We can very well understand why people enter into the resistance of passive aggressiveness. It may be the only way they know how to respond. Or, it might be the choice of response, given both their conflict management style and the history they share with the other party – who could be us!
It’s a good thing to quietly, proactively challenge the presence of passive aggressiveness – either indirectly or directly; whichever way may peaceably work.
Being passive aggressive – smiling through gritted teeth – is a relational nemesis. We need to build a bridge of reconciliation if we are to realise God’s will between two people.
The poem at top is best understood by the arrangement of the cold shoulder against us, or maybe propagated by us. Silence broods between two parties and it may not initially be all that perceptible, but it’s there alright. (We have to be careful, also, just to make sure that we aren’t reading relational dynamics that aren’t there.)
What underlies the silence is a ‘silly little mood’, but all these so-called moods are generated for rational reasons that are justifiable from the person’s viewpoint that holds them. We might call them moods, but they are better described as attitudinal plans deployed.
The moment of acceptance is the moment of realisation; a problem exists, but now what to do? Do we challenge what is true? Is it a real problem they or we have? Whatever the issue, there is an unhealthy dynamic that can be challenged, if that can be done in love. Sometimes we need to bow to a relational dynamic that won’t easily be fixed. But at other times we can ask from a gentle even submissively assertive standpoint, “Are we okay?”
Making it clear what we hold dear is the responsible way of operating relationally in life. What point is there in holding onto matters of conflict when those matters might be resolved toward peace?
Getting to a point in strained relationships where we can call the conflict for what it is; that’s a brave move – risky to a point – but where there’s no risk to make the relationship better it will become no better.
Being clear about where we stand with others, and allowing them to communicate their feelings in clarity; this is what’s needed.
Clear communication is about honesty and trust, and both involve courage.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

“Please don’t ever tell someone to be grateful for what they have left until they’ve had a chance to mourn what they’ve lost. It will take longer than you think is reasonable, rational or even right. But that’s ok.”
— Kay Warren
DEATH AND LOSS are the trappings of a living death as we survive those who are gone, without a sense that we are surviving at all. What a tragedy it is that there is a life – lives, plural – that must live on past the loss. The Kay Warren quote – just an excerpt – marked the imminent approach of the 12-month mark since the loss of her and her husband, Rick’s, son, Matthew in April 2013. Of course, they haven’t ‘moved on’. How could they control their own grief process – as if they were God himself – and as if they could control the expression of their love for their son.
There’s something about loss that’s indescribable, irreconcilable, wholly mysterious, intensely private, and always underestimated.
There’s something about loss that’s untenable as we move forward, forever misshapen because of what cannot be turned back. There’s something about loss that mystifies and terrifies.
There’s something about loss,
As we lay, turn and toss,
It always takes far too long.
To recover from heartache,
Isn’t something you make,
Into anything ever right or wrong.
If we loved extravagantly we will grieve with whelps unending; our soul will always cry out, and that’s no unreasonable expectation. Loss is a requiem. It brings us into the present moment with every sense of heartache we can perceive. But, with time, and the reshaping of our identity to absorb such a thing – in our own time – our loss comes to mean something.
Love is an extravagant thing. It has to be. We wouldn’t get past the starting line if we protected ourselves against love, to relate in only safe and anti-relational ways. No, love requires our all. Yet, when that love has gone permanently, we have no recourse for redesign. Grief is a consequence of that love.
As we grieve with those who grieve, we mourn in commensuration for their loss, and to be a silent but supportive witness to their pain. We are there in a support frame without any sense to intrude. We are respectful, noting that silence is generally a very acceptable way of communicating.
Let us be there for the person who is mourning. God, help us to know how to interact in meaningful, non-intrusive ways. Make us to feel as they feel. And help us to get out of their way. AMEN.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Phone Call From the Lonely Man

SOME time ago I received a phone call from a gentleman who need not be named, but one who had succumbed to a very common social issue that many people, and especially men, suffer from.
The issue was loneliness, but the deeper cause to this issue of isolation was a manifestation of a season of anxiety and depression.
This gentleman had reconciled within himself that the only way he could present himself adequately in social situations was as a strong and capable man, fully in control of his weaknesses. His premise was okay, until he found himself compromised and vulnerable and then, of course, he had nowhere to go for support.
This gentleman, we can call Tom, telephoned me, but only after he had received a revelation from God. That revelation was that his isolation was intrinsically part of the problem.
To receive help for his weakness he needed fellowship of other men; guys who had as their purpose to get beyond superficial talk, so as to talk about and especially listen into the deeper issues of life.
He needed other men not so much when he was strong but when he was feeling weak. He would only make himself available to be around others when he felt strong enough, but unfortunately that wasn’t the time he needed them. He most needed others when he felt weak, compromised and vulnerable.
The telephone call went something like this:
“Hey Steve, God woke me this morning at 2 AM to tell me to get out of bed and go for a walk. I did so even though I was tired. While I was on the walk God told me that the reason I was feeling so weak was because I was so isolated. He told me that my problem and my solution were one and the same thing. ‘To receive my power’, he said, ‘connect with other men when you are feeling weak. When you share yourself boldly and honestly I will be with you and I will use these men to heal you’.”
On the phone, Tom told me, “Steve, it makes so much sense. I feel delivered.” I replied, “It sounds like a miracle to me, Tom. Praise God.”
When we feel weak we isolate, but that’s the opposite of what we need. When we are vulnerable we need support. When we most want to isolate, that’s the time we most need to connect with others.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Truth and Love on the Balance Beam of Life

“Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love.”
― John R.W. Stott (1921–2011)
Marriage partners are truth and love,
We get them in balance only from above,
These two must be equal if life’s to be good,
If life’s to please God as we know it should.
WE are softened by denials of truth as much as we are hardened by denials of love. We need both in equal and ample portion. As Jesus was both fully human and fully Divine, we need one hundred percent truth as well as one hundred percent love. One might even argue that when love is betrayed there is a lack of truth, as also when truth misses full quota it has fallen short of love.
Life has made us hard for truth,
But just as much we are soft for love,
God always seeks for proof,
That we seek our wisdom from above.
Steadying the emotions,
Steadying the mind,
Control your devotions,
And virtuous balance you’ll find.
BALANCE can become such an irrelevant concept when it’s overused. But there are possibly no other more meaningful things in this temptuous world. There is the feeling that love can soften us too much and truth can harden us too much. But, as we have deduced, love and truth – under God – have an equal stake in each other. Without love, truth is undermined and ceases to be as we have come to know it. Without truth, love becomes weak and unreliable.
When truth and love are missing,
It’s like lovers getting no meaning from kissing,
There’s no significance in life,
And everything is headed for strife.
VACUUMS of both truth and love, simultaneously, are common in this life. The lover of dissension is also a lover of lies. They neither abide in love nor truth. They insist on a life that is far from the nature of God, which is to abide in both love and truth. They love darkness and hate the light. They hate justice, unless it’s something peculiar to their own values. They love pride. They hate humble people. It is not good to persist in such a vacuum of truth and love.
We need God because we need truth and love. If we hate God we hate truth and love. But if we truly love God, we will value higher than anything truth and love. Our lives rest on these two in balance. We need to be not so softened to love without truth and not so hardened to truth without love.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Never Doubting the Good Path Leads Somewhere Good

Being troubled is a common human state. And doubting the path we are on, or at least the path we have found ourselves on, is so natural and normal. We really do not trust God as much as we are told we should. Then finally the truth bares itself: we are eventually led to a good place as we continually repel the desire to turn back because of our doubting.
Our thinking is a forwards-backwards land of operations in the cognitive realm.
Doubting becomes us, and generally at the least helpful at times. But doubting has a role in testing the tenacity of our willingness to go on; to continue on the path we feel we must choose to follow. Perhaps God inflects our doubting in such a way as to force us to reconsider our underpinning motives.
Doubting is reason enough to review what we are about. Are we serious?
In this way, we can see the valuable role that doubting plays. It’s as if God was saying, “Are you really serious about this, and, if so, how serious are you?”
There is almost a sense of compulsion that should lead us to recommit to the journey God has placed us on. On this very track that is our destiny, God gives us ample opportunity to choose for it or not. It’s our life and God wants us to own it. God gives us plenty of opportunity to choose for it, to plan past regret, and to right the wrongs we make of it. Glory to God that we are given millions of opportunities to turn back.
The truth is the path leads somewhere; not just anywhere, but somewhere.
And faith it is that leads us to that place.
Burning with Purpose and Intention
Like the launch of a space shuttle—a series of projects and operations so intricately planned—we are on the countdown of our lives. When we see life as a journey toward a destination—to reach somewhere—we have purpose about us and the intention is focused. As the engines propelling us on our way rev up, they push us through the doubting, as if doubting were a sound barrier, as we continually monitor the status of our ship on every step of the journey.
Life is a journey and we gather purpose by the intention to travel.
There is no purpose in not travelling. But when we are committed to travelling, even on the bumpiest of rides, when doubting is stricken with threat, we have enough intention to blast through the doubting.
We are on the very journeys of our lives. We ought to never doubt our lives are leading somewhere good. As we push past our doubting in faith we go on in our journey toward the blessing that God has destined for us. God bids us: “Keep going!”
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Handling the Injustice of Rejection

“How can we sing songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”

― Psalm 137:4 (NRSV)

REJECTION is a phenomenon steeped in power of the negative kind. Perhaps there is no greater negative power in a relational world, where acceptance and rejection prove to be opposite ends of the continuum called ‘approval’. And we don’t even need to be approval seekers to be impinged by the injustice of rejection. Indeed, rejection may even be such a felt thing as to be caused by the imaginations of our perceptions. Therefore, rejection is real when we experience it, even if the same circumstances aren’t experienced that way by others involved.

For those who were carried off to Babylon, in that ancient exile that Psalm 137 speaks to, there was the harshest of rejections to deal with: the rejection of the Lord Almighty.

Of course, we know today that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us – that, as believers, we can never lose God’s love – but that was their experience; the worst of rejection. It was a rejection with consequences. It was a rejection where a godly people were cast into a godless land.

And rejection takes us quickly into such a land within our own minds and hearts.

Working with the Material of Rejection

What am I to do,

With rejection’s work in me?

How do I stay true,

When all I want to do is flee?

I want to accept this turn,

This turn inflicted by life,

God, show me how to learn,

From this experience of strife.

Our perceptions of rejection are the stimulus for learning so far as God is concerned. God knows of the feelings of betrayal we experience. And worse than betrayal are the feelings that we are not needed or wanted or recognised or considered.

Our counter-attack with regard to feeling rejection’s sting is our willingness and propensity to learn. As the old cliché goes, and it is a truism of life, ‘as one door slams shut, a new and better door is about to swing wide open’. It has to be our hope.

Working with the material of rejection is as much about seeing that new and better door opportunity as it is in acknowledging that the old door that’s lost is now gone. God has a good plan for our lives. Test this and then know it to be true.


Experiences of rejection are the invitation to accept, that, whilst one door is now slammed shut, another newer, fresher, brighter door is about to swing open. Look for it. Have faith in God for it. Continue to hope for it. And be patient in the meantime.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.