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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

The whole of life is about saying what we mean and meaning what we say.
But it’s worse than being duplicitous if, by doing so, we upset people.
We can only be blessed in saying what we mean and meaning what we say when we have oriented our hearts toward love. And to love, suchlike, is to consider everyone more important than the self.
Having achieved a heart for others through the blessing of the Lord, we are then primed and positioned to say what we mean and mean what we say – because truth is worse than hopeless when without love.
It will take a special courage of vulnerability with ourselves to risk the exposure of our own feelings in saying what we mean and meaning what we say.
We can only manage such a task, that requires a fullness of consistent and selfless love, when we are in sync with God, for only by God have we the vision of what can be achieved – a life replete of virtue.
To say what we mean is loving when others are blessed. To mean what we say is our commitment to truth.
For a Christian meaning what we say and saying what we mean is vital. We are people of integrity as much as we are people of the Book. Indeed, the Book is about the integrity of virtue. If we miss that, we miss the whole purpose of grace. Grace gives so that others might receive; Jesus on the cross and resurrected, one man, for all. The Father’s grace for each one of us.
Our grace – which is to say what we mean (to speak the truth in love) and mean what we say (of and in love) – is the measure of our submission before God.
Our grace is the epitome of the Father’s grace – to put our needs on the cross and crucify our desires so others’ desires may be satisfied. It will cost us to say what we mean and mean what we say from this backdrop.
Our grace is the fortitude of our being knowing we are nothing now without Christ, but we are everything now with him.
To say what we mean and mean what we say is our privilege in a life that is blessed by God when we realise it is how we are to love people with the truth.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Long Road to a Precociously Fruitful Joy

Masculinity, I’m sure, has a rough enough edge to it that we males of the world will often shrink from being precociously exposed.
What I mean is this: we don’t want to be ‘cute’ or seen as vulnerable or sensitive. We don’t want to pander to the silly frivolity of those around us when we’re serious; when there’s work to be done, or when we’re just not in the mood.
But the central point of the article is this: the Holy Spirit’s joy is a faithful happiness that is ever fruitful – a first fruit of the Spirit. Being embodied of Spirit will well mean we are occasionally blessed to ‘suffer’ such frivolity, especially where relationship matters count the most.
Many males, for instance, struggle with the reality television phase the world is going through – it’s very precocious in a carnal sort of way. The exhibitor of the Spirit’s joy will humour the moment and bear the precociousness of it.
From the angle of discipleship – to follow Christ with zealously humble ardour – joy is the fruit of such a life. Where we see the sustenance of joy we see a seriously viable disciple. Of course, the purpose of the disciple is to serve the Kingdom...
Discipleship’s task is to anoint,
To assert, to equip, to elevate,
To create potential enough to appoint,
A Kingdom person thereby to participate.
The delights of a disciple’s joy,
Are exhumed when the Spirit empowers,
A precocious humility to employ,
That will sustain them through the hours.
The disciple’s sustenance is of the order,
Of magnitudes on high,
Obeying every holy border,
Faithful joy that climbs through the sky.
The Spirit’s all-faithful joy,
Will often be put to the test,
That test is how easy we are to annoy,
When joy is the only way we can rest.
Our test of joy is how easy we are to annoy. Joy is hence a strength of the fruit of humility. A person at joy cannot be threatened in any way to premature anger – not even indignant reactions for smart-alecky precociousness.
If we are to be Jesus’ ambassador in the world we are to be full of precociously fruitful joy, never easily angered by the precociousness of others.
So joy is the antidote for anger, because joy learns to laugh at the indignant weakness in our anger. Joy has no reason to judge. It is strengthened by the fruit of humility.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When Peace Is Known In Anxiousness

Jesus told us that we shouldn’t fret, for he had overcome the world.
But that, as a concept, can seem so foreign in our day, for surely Jesus lived in a less stressed day? Wrong. The stresses of Jesus’ day were no less apparent. Indeed, there was certainly less civility than we are used to, less social systems, and a more antiquated justice.
But there is a clear fact we are also missing: the Word of God is an eternal Word. It’s a Word spoken through the realms of eternity into the domain of time. It’s a Grace that exceeds every concept of grace we can imagine. Only with God is there peace of such a cogent sort as to not be able to explain it.
Such peace is a miracle because it is experienced by faith, which, of its own, it a dichotomy when held with reason. Faith makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. And that’s why it’s a miracle.
Peace can be known despite the experience of anxiousness, so it’s something we accept with our anxiousness. And as we sit more comfortably with our anxiousness, we sit more comfortably with life, and we experience more peace – a peace that is unlike any conception of peace we ever thought of.
We ask less questions. We are happier sitting still than running after all sorts of things. Or perhaps we hunger for these very things; well then, they shall ultimately be ours! For, the person who seeks, finds; the person who knocks at a door persistently enough will have that door opened to them.
Confusion may threaten,
Anxiousness may reign,
But there is peace,
In God, beyond pain.
That’s the miracle,
That’s what’s sought,
That peace of God’s,
Through His Son it was bought.
So claim it now,
Make it your intended,
For in the Spirit of the LORD,
You are defended!
As we seek God we have our minds and hearts gradually challenged and opened.
And this seeking after God is not a patterned thing; there is no method to follow, apart from the necessity to obey against the flow of our will.
Opposite the method most seek to master, faith is aligned with the peace that cannot be explained, only enjoyed.
When faith is lived as God desires it should there is a profound peace that may be tapped into. That is the search we are all on. A peace that transcends our anxiousness is available for us all to experience.
And only through faith and God is it sustainably available.
Somehow, faith in Jesus Christ leads us to an inexplicable yet a commanding peace, and both in equally significant portions. In this we are defended by grace.
The defence of grace is peace over travail.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Conversations About Nathanael That Help

Unification is at the heart of losses shared in a community that cares.
I met a lady who had lost her baby hours after he was born. Like us, they knew the trajectory of loss they were on; that the inevitable light at the end of the tunnel – a freight train – was coming and what was coming could not be stopped. We shared the numbingly shrill moments of waiting for the inevitable moment to come. What would it be like? Would we fold under its weight? Will we be enough for our partners? And, would we be able to sustain ourselves in the vast cosmos of grief that would ensue.
I spoke with a grandparent about the loss of one of their children’s babies. The baby died at just over 24 weeks gestation – meaning, from a legal viewpoint, a funeral had to be prepared for. A young mother who was distraught beyond words had to endure something nobody should have to endure – all the focus and attention at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons. But such things draw us to love. They make us rely more on God. We agreed that, the fact we were talking about this, was a unifying thing; and that we would all pray for this young family and indeed my family.
The fact that we have experienced something very painful – but that which was made much easier by our faith in God and his abundant grace through the plethora of prayer we received – that others, too, have faced brings us together in love.
This is much cause for celebration.
What a great power it is to share our experience, be heard, and receive the empathy God knows we deserve. Doubled is the power when we have the opportunity to encourage the person who listened to us.
When those who have suffered similar things find themselves in conversation healing can occur. Not through advice, nor through judgment. But through the simple sharing of experiences, we get to hear ourselves speak, we give voice to our emotions, and we open the door to God’s healing.
We are stronger, not weaker, for talking about our losses, especially as we speak with those similarly affected.
To talk with freedom, to walk with grace, and to sit in our pain; these are great aids to the process for healing the grief we experience in our losses.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why God and Life Owe Us Nothing

Inheritances are often the cause of much conflict within families – for the perceptions of injustice in the bequeathing of ‘riches’ unfairly. Indeed, some of the most childish and selfish behaviours come extant the person who expects more than they are given!
There is a good reason why nobody – nor God or life – owes us anything.
We are capable. We have the capacity to learn. Growth is our implicit motive and our innate bearing. And it is our own silly fault if we won’t take what we observe and what we experience into consideration for how we will live our lives.
Can we expect any sort of inheritance? No, it’s a gift. And there are a great many gifts that we ‘inherit’ for the pure fact we are alive. God gifts everyone a vast suite of passions, abilities, experiences, and indeed our unique personality is its own gift. If we take our gifts for granted – and we all tend to do just that at least minimally – then we have only ourselves to blame.
If we prefer sloth over diligence we will make nothing of the opportunities we are given to learn and grow and succeed. If anger becomes us rather than patient grace, we will have stumbling blocks as barriers everywhere; everywhere we will be frustrated. But if we apply kindness instead of greed, or self-control instead of lust, or asceticism instead of gluttony, the Lord himself will teach us the very things we can learn that we can apply to the good living of life.
It’s up to us. Every day of our lives we have fresh opportunities to plan our days and seek God to bless them; to commit to a life of diligent discernment and wisdom.
No one can do for us the work God sets in our path as opportunities.
Life rewards the person who plans with care how they will grasp the opportunities as they come. And the reward must be tenfold for the person who is content with their lot.
We are owed nothing because God gave us all when we owed everything.
The outworking of this grace we may enjoy is the sheer thrill of living and breathing in a life where we may make known the Name of the Lord.
The more we expect from God and life, the less contentment we will experience. We can desire God or money – not both.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Paradoxically Absurd Meaning for Life

So confused are the purposes for life in God that many people give up in frustration, despair, or impatience. The attractions of the world are too much of a temptation. Anyone who has had a significantly hard run at life for any length of time – think years – will have been tempted by the devil to give up on God.
But we come at belief in God toward faith the wrong way if we are beaten back and forth by the storms of situational experience. Yet, we are all beaten back into the corners of our situational experience.
Some take the blows of life on the chin, some are knocked down by them, and some again absorb them into their experience.
Only the latter person – who absorbs the blows of life into their experience – reacts the God wills all of us to respond.
But there is a key motivator that empowers us to absorb the blows of life.
This is it: imagining life from the viewpoint of eternity, we see we cannot come back. All of what life was for us is done. Think of dying right now. How would that place us before the sight of God – judged for the good and bad things we’d done.
We need to prepare for our deaths now. That’s what gives us meaning for life!
Before it’s too late we can right the ship that is our life. We have the choice of choosing Jesus and living for him. It could be too late to put the decision off any longer.
Looking back from the porthole of eternity we are forever cut off from an existential life. No longer does the existential experience matter as far as we’re personally concerned. But, while we are here, we have everything changeable at our grasp.
What we endure in this life – no matter how hard it is – is worth enduring, because this life is almost over. Once we have crossed over from life to death to eternity, in a blink, all of what we endured will suddenly be seen in its true light. No more injustice, no more suffering, no more pain.
A paradoxical absurd meaning for life is, it only matters from the viewpoint of death.
When we can comfortably look at life through the porthole of eternity we have every purpose for life we will ever need.
We all have to say goodbye to our loved ones, and this world, at some point. It’s not that far away. What sounds depressing is the very impetus we need to make the most of life now. With this outlook we can endure anything in this life.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Not Begrudging Cruel and Terrible Life Experiences

Pain may not be necessary for growth but pain is so often growth’s change agent.
We want to know if there is meaning in pain; if what we suffer will have a purpose.
If there’s no purpose there is the experience of despair which precedes exhaustion.
Suffering is one thing but suffering with rejection adds a layer of complicated grief.
What is terrible isn’t necessarily cruel and what is cruel isn’t necessarily terrible.
If what we go through is cruel and terrible we will need a double helping of hope.
Faith in situations of pain doesn’t seem anything like heroism; it’s survival.
Seasons of pain are repetitive enough to make us sick inside. Too much déjà vu!
Déjà vu (literally, “already seen”) is okay when it involves pleasure, but not pain.
Although, I often wonder if we can be taught anything of real value overnight.
“God won’t waste your pain” may sound like a cliché but it represents reality.
What we feel when we’re in agony shrinks hope at light speed; confidence plummets.
Anguish is an antecedent to depression; a person’s response to a vacuum of joy.
Sorrow haunts and it produces anxiety-generating torment that lurks every moment.
Loneliness is the emotion we’re left with when pain visits only our person.
Others may feel it but they feel something different. Feeling isolated is inevitable.
A shared grief tears us apart if we aren’t unified in the first place.
But sometimes a shared grief halves the distress.
Pain restores the sentiment of our sensibilities. Priorities are quickly reordered.
Elements of loss are relived without a moment’s notice. Pray for poise.
Life never remains the same for long, though terrible and cruel times are too long.
Turning for home in a moment’s hopeful encouragement: memorise the feeling.
Moments of salient hopefulness of a fresh vision revive strength enough for faith.
Forgiving lapses into despair, the soul sips and feeds for health.
A short memory is helpful in forgiving and forgetting. Why recall bitterness?
Being distressed has no relation to time. Any moment we can be lifted out.
Faith in God will get us through anything so long as we don’t ultimately give up.
Cruel and terrible life experiences become part of the richer tapestry of our lives.
Someone, some day, will envy us for having such life experience.
When we overcome in Jesus’ name, we become more tolerantly humble.
Less daunted about life, there are a myriad of blessings in learning how to endure.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Making Most of No Time At All

Time is a killer. We are all withering away and, yet, we don’t value such a truth the way it demands we value it. And, still, if we do value it as we should we still have regrets.
We had 179 hours with our stillborn son’s body, yet it wasn’t enough. It never could be. But there is also the fact that what we did in those precious few hours we had with him we may only have repeated again and again because he was lifeless.
I contend that making the most of no time at all – not a literal schema – is simply about doing just that. It’s about seeing how the time slips away, irrevocably and irretrievably.
And what do we have left once that’s all gone?
The memories we have made, the trinkets kept, the sadness we retain which is surely a gift of God that makes us feel in ways to heal, and the fact we shared this experience.
As consumers of grace, we have taken this gift of both Nathanael’s little body and the time we had. We had it. We took it and had no problem making the most of it.
We think we have time but we have no time at all.
Life changes in a split second, even though it took us decades for the abruptness to betray our attentions. Then life is a steep and steely lesson. We will all be caught out these ways at least once in our lives.
But, now, making the most of no time at all is not as easy as we think it will be.
Not all of our future problems can we foresee like the finiteness of the time we had with Nathanael. We may get our ideas of wise use of time and make a poor judgment, deploying our efforts in activities we think are worthy, but which aren’t, as is revealed later.
But there is not much use in regret, though regret comes as a function of a sad truth.
Making most of no time at all. What are we to do?
Discerning wisely the selection and use of time, we remind ourselves that we are making an eternal choice.
Time is the gift of God’s grace for experience, and experience is God’s grace in time: an eternal gift.
Time is no spouse of regret, yet, if we lack diligence, our time comes to be united with regret eternally.
Time is the brother of experience. Such siblings take good account for one another.
Spending time with one eye on the possibility for regret is fixing the other eye on making the most of the present.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Acknowledging the Onset of Depression

Unknown fear. A spate of inexplicable anxiety, an irrationally unpredictable inner rage of irritability, and an even deeper fear of incapability leave us racked with a bewildering preponderance of preoccupation.
No longer are we free. Our thinking state is bogged down. Our feeling state is vulnerable. Each and every moment requires courage. Each step is one of faith.
I know a thing that can arrest the onset of depression: the spiritual gift of awareness (acknowledgement) and the spiritual courage to design and execute cathartic change.
But, in the pit of the struggle, we are forgiven for not being able to see through the profuse fog in order to see through the rarefied air all around us.
Sure, there is a biochemical imbalance to be restored to aid physiological healing. Diet, too. But the spiritual side of depression cannot be undercut nor discounted.
There is an attack known to make its stand against us without warning.
It’s an attack of spiritual discord, and whether it takes place external to our being or within the finery of our soul matters little.
An article like this is not about burying us further in the mire; we must discuss what is primary to possibility in most everyone.
These are short paragraphs. They cater for a mind with limited attentiveness. When any given moment can’t be taken for granted, we are best fixing on salient principles.
Acknowledging the onset of depression is about doing an honest self-audit.
 “Am I especially susceptible emotionally just now?”
“Does it seem that what we feel should be rational seems irrational to others (furthering our sense of estrangement to them)?”
“Am I overwhelmed either easily or routinely or both?”
“Is life a struggle, continuously or intermittently, to establish simple and satisfactory order?”
“Is life especially chaotic and, worse, irresolvable?”
“Are relationships very difficult to maintain?” “What about untold hurt?”
Depression is such a portion of debilitated agency and visceral torment that it disables us. But recognition is also acknowledgement, which can be half the battle.
Feeling depressed is not the end of the matter; it’s the beginning of getting well again.
Helping ourselves can be as much about seeing through different eyes, surrendering our weakness to God, and being willing to bring in situations of catharses.
Getting back to the sort of change that can arrest depression...
I’d design a change to my lifestyle that introduces aspects of health and vitality.
Implementing same is a case of planning, preparedness, and sheer guts – which is the sincerity of an open mind and the bravery of a heart ready for hope.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

100 Days Since You Passed

Myriad emotions. To experience loss is to experience a cosmic collision of emotions, raining down like shrapnel from the ether, pummelling our vulnerability.
Yet loss is so rich with a firework of rainbow array. It enriches every aspect of reality, even if some facets are overwhelmed. The Lord gives and takes away, yet, even in the taking away, there is a raft of experience given.
One hundred days since you passed,
And these feelings of unknowing,
They prevail; they last.
You’ve made such an impact,
On your mother and I,
On your sisters and family,
We look to the sky.
Isn’t it funny?
How time dims the pain,
With reality unchanging,
You can feel insane.
Vulnerable little fingers,
Unused little toes,
You’ll always be gorgeous,
The best heaven knows.
Though there is healing:
The knowledge of the Lord,
There is still the strange feeling:
Just how you’re adored!
Thankful to God,
For what we had,
No matter what we’ve lost,
No matter how sad.
Life runs on now,
Without you in our midst,
Only is your memory,
Within our fist.
We will go on,
Yet we’ll never forget,
Just how you changed us,
Just how you made us fret.
Our grief is our possession,
And we gladly take hold,
That which we prize,
Which can never be sold.
It makes us who we are,
And binds us close,
You are like glue,
You’ve made love stick most.
We cherished your body,
And held you long,
Even in those days,
You made us feel strong.
The days since don’t dampen,
What we feel for you,
For what you’ve given us,
We’ll ever clasp as true.
God gave you to us,
So we might see,
Just how transforming,
Loss can really be.
What you have taught us,
Is patently real,
Without you we’re better,
Because we can only but feel.
So show us afresh,
This God-held light,
Help us understand,
How to live by faith, not sight.
Take us in,
To your eternal abode,
When our time’s right,
To see God’s golden road.
We imagine our welcome,
As we enter heaven’s realm,
You there to meet us,
Holding our helm.
Ever we’ll be,
All back together,
Up there with God,
Light as a feather.
Oh what a thought,
Oh how we can wait,
Anticipating what’s ahead,
Because destiny’s never late.
So wait there sweet child,
Be as you are,
Be there at peace,
Even as a star.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.