What It's About

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

We Will Come to You, Our Son, We Will Come to You

Second Samuel chapter 12, verse 23. This is what we hold onto. It’s all we have, yet – because of our faith – it’s all we need. Our faith tells us that this life is not all we have. We are here, on Earth, for but a time; four score and ten. It is a camping trip compared with what we have in an eternal home.
As we consider where we are at, two months hence our son’s shining transition to be with God, we know two realities simultaneously.
First, we are ever touched by God’s hand of grace – and blessed – whenever we think of Nathanael. Second, even as we grieve we ever want his memory to be special.
You were mine,
Yes, you were ours,
Vulnerable and kind,
Like the flowers.
Forgotten not,
Memories are good,
We love you a lot,
As only we could.
So we stand today,
Two months on,
Still with lots to say,
Even though you’re gone.
You won’t come to us,
That’s for sure,
Come we must,
So wait there at heaven’s door.
We are thankful, as we approach the six-month mark of this journey (having first learned of our son’s plight on July 2). God’s grace and much prayer and our faith have got us through.
Yet we still don’t have our son. All the hopes we had on July 1st, having no idea of the plight our boy was in, were to be dashed on that fateful Tuesday morning. We will never approach a ‘routine’ ultrasound scan in a routine way ever again.
But if we don’t have our son, we are left with the question “who does?”
Nathanael is in a far better place – a much safer place than we can provide – because he has gone to be with God. No matter how mature we are in the Christian faith that thought has to be a surreal one; a mystery.
We will continue to miss Nathanael, as we will continue to wonder what might have been.
But we cannot complain when we stare at his reality. He is where we will soon be. He is home. He has gone and he won’t come back.
He will not come to us; we will go to be with him.
And that, for us, is where it’s at. That is our reality that we can only accept.
To accept what cannot be changed is the passive half of wisdom.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, December 29, 2014

5 Ways to Help Your Man or Woman Love You

Enduring questions of life there are, and one of the best for a woman is “how do I keep my man interested in me?” We’ve all heard how the guy is in it for the ‘thrill of the chase’ and how women should ‘treat ‘em mean to keep ‘em keen’.
It seems to me that men are fascinated by a mystery: the woman he doesn’t know, who is still an enigma, in his midst. But women are also intrigued by such things. The difference seems to be the innate difference in the psychology that sets men and women apart.
Men seem to be drawn to adventure on the one hand and rest on the other. Mixing those together, we have recreation. Most men are quite hands-on physically. Recent trends, however, place women closer to men in these ways than ever. But women want substance in their men. The opposite could also be said; but in different ways.
Perhaps more than ever the genders are equal.
Given that relationships of the romantic kind normally only have a natural romance lasting six or twelve months typically, every relationship needs much attention, care, intention, and commitment to continue on through the important sustaining phase: loving companionship.
Loving companionship is what holds spousal relationships together. Both give to the other. Both enjoy the fellowship of the other, despite ugly differences that cause disputes and conflict. But isn’t an argument the spice of marriage? – Especially the making up part.
5 Ways Loving Companionship is Achieved
1.     Whatever he or she’s interested in, so long as it’s healthy, ought to be encouraged. The opposite also fits – unhealthy pursuits ought to be raised and discussed honestly. There has to be room for tolerating and encouraging healthy pursuits of passion. Even better if they can be shared together. If one partner is involved in or encourages the other’s pursuits there is a good chance of reciprocation occurring.
2.     Wanting to be together, and also allowing healthy time alone, inspires a safety that all companionate relationships thrive on. Time alone allows the kindling of thought for the other. One worry is if they want to spend excessive time with their friends. As always an encouraging of balance (time with partner, time alone, time with friends) should be appreciated.
3.     The physical relationship is generally important to him. It may or may not be for her. If sex is important for him and it’s not for you, try to engage him in discussion to see if a compromise can be reached, and so you can be understood. If he understands you, there will be much less pressure. If you are the one who enjoys sex more than he does, be patient and experiment with his mood. It’s not about what you do or don’t do; like you, it’s about the mood he’s in.
4.     You might be the sort of person who loves being encouraged with words. If you are, and he’s not overly communicative, try and not let it affect your self-esteem. The problem’s with him, not you. But it’s not his fault if he’s trying. If he’s the one who seeks to be affirmed by you, encourage him when it’s healthy for him to hear it.
5.     Gifts are important in all companionate relationships of the romantic kind. You might enjoy flowers, and he may not give many. It’s best not to be frustrated because gifts must come from the heart. It’s no good complaining about his thoughtlessness. It would be better to give him the occasional thoughtful gift and hope it’s a model for him to follow. Again, pressure around gift-giving will only degrade the relationship.
Being a faithful companion, always interested in maintaining the relationship, is what most partners want in their partner.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Moving Forward From Difficult Elements of the Past

Whatever the past we own, we have today, and we have tomorrow. That’s a fact. But it’s not that simple for a good many of us. There are problems in the past for all of us. Some are big problems that continue to lurk. Some problems we live with. Some are just elements and fragments. Some we have overcome. Other problems dominate our lives. We justify our problems as ‘not that big’ really.
There are elements of all our pasts we are uncomfortable with.
But it’s only a problem if it’s a problem, today. If it lingers, that something in the past, we are obviously looking at our options to diminish the impact of the problem. Options that involve us in honestly working through the problem help best. And support always helps most.
None of us really know just how hard your problem is. We can listen and empathise, but we will still struggle to fully understand. But at least there is the attempt made. At least there is interest shown.
And that’s probably all you need in someone listening; an attempt made to understand and an interest shown.
I can’t say your problems are ‘this’ and ‘that’, because they are yours and I’m not experienced in the acute detail of your life. You have your upbringing that I didn’t have. You are biologically connected differently to me. And, of course, the circumstances that involved you in your problems are nothing that I’ve precisely faced.
But I can listen. I can attempt to hear. See the value of finding someone who wants to hear?
I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I can listen. I can seek to show you I’m interested.
Moving forward beyond the troubling elements of our pasts is made easier when we can share our vulnerability with someone we trust. We know we can trust them because they are genuinely thankful for the courage we display in sharing so honestly.
Moving forward is an attractive proposal for any of us who have more to gain than we have to lose. But it still requires courage as we decide to step forth in faith.
If you have decided to move forward, because hope for the future is more vibrant that the pain of past is painful, there are many who bid you well, and many who will be praying for you, even people you do not know.
The best of life is lived when we move ever forward whilst we deal truthfully with the past.
Moving forward is personally defined, but with adequate and appropriate support.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Committing to Joy In All Circumstances

Joy. It’s a mysterious quality of life. Everybody wants it. We have all sought it from the wrong places. Joy, indeed, from our humanity’s perspective at least, is a sort of holy grail we seek with which to ‘contain’ our lives.
The key to joy is our thinking. The key to many things is our thinking.
“You don’t think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.”
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
 Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932 – 1996)
Pause over those Nouwen quotes. I’m sure they were not written at the same time, but they do speak to, and complement, each other.
Living our way into a new kind of thinking is consistent with behavioural psychology theory. But choosing joy (the second quote) is an attitude – which is a complementary psychological theory called cognitive theory. So using both methods helps us strike at joy from two angles, not just one.
The key is commitment: to commit to behaving the way we need to and commit to thinking the way we need to.
Two Ways to Sustaining Joy
There are two causes of depression: dissatisfaction in relationships and dissatisfaction with achievements. It might be simplistic, but if we work on our relationships and achieve some of our goals, joy will fortify us against depressive conditions emotionally.
Note the operative word, “work.”
If we are prepared to work for joy – by trouble shooting relational issues and by working appropriately hard on our goals – we are likely to experience more joy.
Being prepared to work requires attitude and action; it applies both forms of psychology raised above.
So what we are doing is working in four ways for joy: our thinking with our acting, and on our relationships and goals.
Joy is not beyond any of us. No matter what we have experienced, or how sorrowful or despairing life is or has been, we have joy within our grasp as anyone has.
If we preclude ourselves from joy because we think it’s out of our grasp then we negate what this article is saying – our thoughts dictate how far we can go so far as joy is concerned. And if we are not prepared to work to find, establish and sustain joy then we probably don’t deserve it.
Joy is within reach; a joy in all circumstances. It’s about thinking and acting on relationships and goals, being prepared to think positively and do what’s required.
Joy is about good thoughts and wise actions, and a commitment to healthy relationships and the achievement of goals.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Discipleship’s Most Fundamental Challenge

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
— Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)
The hardest thing of all and the greatest challenge of life is the maintenance of our relationships. But these are just as rewarding per the effort we are prepared to put in. Simple answer is, the more we apply faith to love people, the more we are all blessed. But it is also very messy at times. Much forgiveness is required.
The challenge of all discipleship challenges is always relational. Relationships are where our maturity is tested first and foremost. To the extent of our ability to give and receive love, especially when we are low, is the test of all tests. Relationships always expose us at our weakest and lowest. We will want the right to be stubborn, whilst refusing others that same right. We will insist on being understood when we fall short of understanding others. These are some of the challenges that must be overcome. If we are to prove we are true disciples of Jesus, not least of which to ourselves, we need to work on mastering our relationships.
We cannot say we love God and still leave those we hurt remain hurt. God expects us to make some reasonable effort to reconcile.
“So far as it depends on us” (Romans 12:18) we strive to do what’s right in the eyes of our Lord. We know that all of the Sermon on the Mount is relational; that’s why it appears so hard to achieve. We know that what Jesus speaks about in each verse of those three chapters of Scripture is possible to achieve, but it feels impossible to sustain. Relationally we strive to obey and relationally we forgive the instances where we fall short. We forgive ourselves and others.
The greatest joy a human being can experience is to be at harmony with his or her world. Because we are sinners we need a way back; to forgive ourselves and others.
Life never gets easier to understand or harder to apply than to know we have to get our relationships right, and the only way we can do that is maintain calm with friends and foe alike – and we can. Life pits us against people, but it doesn’t mean we can’t treat everyone with the respect everyone deserves.
Life’s biggest test and greatest opportunity is relationships. If we are to get life right we will get our relationships right.
There’s no point being right if we have relationships that turn out wrong.
Being at peace with all those in our orbit is the key to joy.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Sermon on the Mount Prayer

This is a prayer I have constructed for use during my early morning devotional time. Being that the Sermon on the Mount was Jesus’ main teaching to the Twelve, it’s crucial to us, also.

Heavenly Father,

Remind me today, every time I’m tempted, that I’m blessed when:
·        I need you, as eternity is mine,
·        I mourn, for You comfort me,
·        I’m humble, for I’ll inherit the earth,
·        I hunger and thirst for justice, for I’ll be satisfied,
·        I’m merciful, for I’ll be shown mercy,
·        My heart is pure, for I’ll see You,
·        I work for peace, for I’ll be called a child of God,
·        I’m persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is mine,
·        People mock me and persecute me and lie about me and say all sorts of evil things against me because I follow You. Help me be happy about it! Remind me that the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Remind me I’m the salt of the earth. Remind me of the power of your truth.
Remind me I’m the light of the world — designed to shine. Help me live pure before others. Make my deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise You because of my deeds.
Help me understand that even if I’m angry with someone I’m subject to judgment! Help me refrain from name-calling and cursing others.
Remind me when I’m making a pious sacrifice that if anyone has something against me, to leave my sacrifice right there. Make me “Go” and be reconciled to that person first, then make my offering.
Make me settle my differences with others quickly, with understanding, compassion and grace.
Help me to resist looking at women with lust. Remind me that it’s better for me to lose a hand or an eye than for my whole body to be thrown into hell. Help me be faithful to my wife, matrimonially and sexually, and to my family in all ways.
Help me keep my word, not exaggerate or testify falsely, and to keep my promises.
Help me when someone slaps me on the right cheek; remind me in that moment to offer the other cheek also. If it’s my shirt they want from me, make me give them my coat, too. If someone demands that I carry his gear for a mile, give me the heart and courage to carry it two. Help me give generously to those who ask, and make me to not turn away from those who want to borrow.
Help me love my enemies and to pray for those who persecute me! Help me know that You give sunlight to both the evil and the good, and You send rain on the just and the unjust alike. Help me love not only those who love me, but especially those who don’t.
Make me watchful not to do my good deeds publicly, to be admired by others. Make me give to anyone in need in a way that my left hand knows nothing of what my right hand is doing. Make me give my gifts in private.
Help me pray not in glamorous ways. Help me go away by myself, shut the door behind me, and pray to You in private.
Help me pray for real and important needs, for protection from temptation to do evil, for power to do good and forgive as You have forgiven me, for Your will to be done here as in heaven, and for the knowledge of good through Your Holy Spirit.
Help me resist the temptation for making myself look impressive.
Help me to store my treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Remind me where my treasure is, there the desires of my heart are also.
Help me serve You and not money.
Help me know the folly of my worries and to not worry about how I’m clothed or what I’ll eat.
Help me seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, so You will give me everything I need.
Help me not worry about tomorrow, and remind me that tomorrow will bring its own worries; that today’s trouble is enough for today.
Make me not judge others. I’m no better or worse than anyone else.
Help me to ignore the speck in my friend’s eye when I probably have a log in my own. Help me first deal with the log in my own eye, and ever be committed to that end.
Help me to discern appropriate wisdom and not allow the crude to trample the Kingdom’s pearls.
Help me to keep on asking, so I will receive what I ask for. Help me keep on seeking. Help me keep on knocking.
Help me trust You; the Giver of all good gifts.
Help me do to others whatever I would have them do to me.
Make me to enter every day through the narrow gate, knowing the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
Help me beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. Make me to identify them by their fruit. Help me see truly, Lord.
Make me to listen to Your teaching and be wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Make my faith ever a firm foundation.
In Christ’s name I pray, AMEN.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.