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

Friday, September 15, 2017

Forgiveness facilitates freedom into functionality

RANDOM things are said in deeper conversations. Invariably wisdom goes unnoticed. The following sentence I heard piqued me: forgiveness facilitates functionality.
In simplest terms, forgiveness makes being functional easier. Being a functional human is equated with partaking in the abundant life, which is from the wellspring of Jesus.
Everybody ought to want to be more functional, because that’s where love, joy, peace, empowerment and hope — the fullness of life — come from — from being functional.
But forgiveness is not easy. We must continue to guard our hearts through the process. We must acknowledge the truth that buoys our faith. That is, the choice to forgive breeds life, even though it feels like death in the sacrifice of ourselves for possibly no gain. It warrants all our surrender and promises nothing but for the faith that compels it to begin and sustain its work; the hope of reconciliation that obliges us to not give up. And if we can let go with unconditionality, then we have power through the Holy Spirit to facilitate freedom into a fuller functionality.
There can only be unconditional forgiveness like there can only be unconditional love. Conditionality make both forgiveness and love counterfeit. They cease being what they say they are.
Forgiveness facilitates intrapersonal functionality. Personal wellness is gained when we lose something (by letting it go) that can only condemn us. It is a commitment to go a new, albeit uncomfortable-for-a-time way. The commitment to grow and not to rescind can only be a blessing.
Forgiveness facilitates functionality in relationships — within families, communities. As we let others go and refuse to any longer judge and punish them we let ourselves go. The irony of unforgiveness is this: when we judge and punish others we only end up judging and punishing ourselves and hurting those we love. When we’ve finally stopped judging and punishing God opens our minds to the endlessly creative possibilities in life.
Forgiveness facilitates functionality in our reception of the Divine. We only truly receive the fullness of the Lord when our hearts are wide open. And what happens when our hearts are wide open? We forgive. It makes no sense not to.
But it’s only by faith that we choose to forgive. Faith fuels the forgiveness that facilitates the freedom that converts to functionality.
By faith we choose,
To let go of blame,
For the bravery to lose,
Is the vehicle of gain.
Forgiveness is going backwards to go forwards. In owning our own stuff, and in letting go of theirs, we allow each of them and us the freedom to be, without judgment and toll.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Four basic steps to biblical reconciliation

RECONCILING moments, situations, conflicts and relationships is the major life task. None of us is immune to the hurts that come so frequently with ferocity in life. Yet, when we show we can overcome these hurts using a tried-and-tested method that is easily learned, and practiced with persistence, we find we have overcome our world in Jesus’ name (see John 16:33).
Here is a biblical four-step process of movements, an established wisdom, for the reconciliation of relationships:
1.                  UPWARD
Looking upward in conflict is learning that the first step is the goal of glorifying God.
As we started to look up, finding ourselves appropriately positioned to do the next three steps, we committed to continuing to look up. God’s Holy Spirit works miracles from this position of our heart.
2.                 INWARD
Looking inward is about making our best self-assessment regarding what my contribution to the conflict is. We get the log out of our own eye, to use Jesus’ own words (Matthew 7:3-5). We establish a desire to work out what our unmet demands were. Before we approach the other person. Because if we’ve got something to apologise for, we go to the other person in the conflict in a state of sustainable humility.
The other person won’t listen to us unless we’ve owned our part of the conflict.
3.                 OUTWARD
Having readied ourselves to apologise for what we did wrong or failed to do, we go outward to the other person, who generally reciprocates — if they see we’re sincere in simply owning our fault. If they still don’t own their part of the conflict we do not yet have reconciliation. They may need time or they may never reciprocate. All in God’s timing, which we’re blessed to accept. Whatever they do, we have glorified God all-the-more in being honest about our contribution, being prepared to leave it at that, in faith. And yet if there is reciprocation, we have the last step in view.
4.                 ONWARD
Looking onward to a future bulging with hope, reconciliation as a vision is achieved when both parties have reckoned the results of conflict and have redeemed their contributions. Parties can indeed then look onward as trust between them is enhanced.
Reconciliation first looks upward (GOD),
then inward (MY sin),
then outward (YOUR sin),
then onward (US loved).
Acknowledgement to the PeaceWise process and The Peacemaker book by Ken Sande.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Being an Everyday Peacemaker

BLESSED are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9). Nothing sets Christians apart more than their love.
They glorify God, serve others diligently, all-the-while growing to be like Christ.
Some of the following relational gold was gleaned at a recent PeaceWise workshop:
“Conflict is an integral part of how God grows us up.”
— Steve Frost
Spiritual growth cannot happen in a vacuum. Time alone in solitude can teach us, but it is inadequate on its own. Conflict is an opportunity to overcome fear and pride, among other things. We cannot demonstrate humility unless we’re in relationship with others.
“Breathe peace in the midst of… [conflict, frustration, confusion, being emotional or overwhelmed].”
— Steve Frost
The hardest of all times to exercise composure is in the heat of conflict. The opportunity a close relationship with God presents is to execute breathe prayers — to literally breathe every bit of stress out that we can as we breathe every bit of peace in.
“The enemy love of God.”
— Steve Frost
The gospel holds out and open to everyone the preposterous love of God that loves most those who are most violent toward Him. As Jesus prayed that we human beings be as close as He and the Father are close, He echoed the grace that loves its enemies, notwithstanding anything they do. Such a love has not only conquered the world, it continues conquering the evil in our personal worlds.
“Live as someone never condemned by God.”
— Steve Frost
So many Christians continue to be dogged by their sin, and they therefore judge others any time they see them sin. But if we see ourselves as scandalously forgiven by God, never to ever be condemned again, living constantly in the light of such truth, we grant others the grace within which we live.
We must live as the kind of people God insists we already are.
“Conflict is a wild ride in learning.”
— Steve Frost
As I’ve often said, life is the learning ground, and the Christian life is the epitome of that.
“There is always, always, always hope.”
— Li Ai Gamble
This is something we wish every person tempted to, or carrying out, suicide knows; a reason to live. We cannot control the outcomes of life, but we can control our attitude of simply being obedient to the teachings of Jesus the best we can.
“We are so busy we’ve lost touch with what we’re actually feeling.”
— Steve Frost
Becoming more in touch with our feelings requires us to slow down. And we’re more alive as a result.
“The heart is the origin of the weirdness; it is also the wellspring of restoration.”
— Steve Frost
Probably the quote of the workshop. As Canon J. John says, “the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.” From our heart comes the filth that compels us to sin. From that same heart can come reconciling love that wins other hearts and restores God’s vision in the realm of relationships.
“Success for me is faithfulness to God.”
— Steve Frost
As we run the risk of pain and suffering in this life, especially as it portends in our relationships, we have to continually remind ourselves that it is success when we cooperate with the will of God.
Acknowledgement to PeaceWise that has resources here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

One fact transforms bitterness into forgiveness

SEVERAL months, maybe years, a gulf between you and peace has come and since widened, because of an interpersonal conflict. Perhaps.
You’ve tried everything in your grasp, and your search for peace and reconciliation continues.
One fact transforming bitterness into the acceptance that produces the peace to forgive is this: we don’t have all the information. It’s a fact that drives us into the belly of understanding, for the pure fact of our recognition of our lack of understanding.
Life’s deepest level of understanding is recognition
of how much we don’t yet understand.
There are details about the person we withhold forgiveness from that we don’t know, yet ought to know about them and the situation.
Information is what holds us adrift from reconciliation. It’s what we yet do not understand. Even as Jesus said of his assailants when on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” we too can reckon upon the same rationale.
We hurt each other when we don’t understand each other.
Conflict is about misunderstanding.
Forgiveness is about understanding.
As soon as we acknowledge our own ignorance, God’s perspective incoming, He gives us a plenteous portion of His grace to extend to others within our relational reach. Just for being honest.
Think about any situation where we range from disagreement to dissent to resentment and there is something vitalising, tantalising, that’s missing. As soon as we gain crucial knowledge, understanding comes, then forgiveness.
Understanding germinates when we’re informed,
 producing the compassion to forgive.
It may not be too long a bow to draw to say,
all unforgiveness comes from misunderstanding.
When we’re bitter, perhaps the best question to ask to be reconciled to peace, and the other person or group, is this: what information am I lacking here? What information, if it came to hand, would turn my understanding on its head?

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Contented Child within the Separated Home

Marital separation and divorce is never the plan when parents come together and have children. But how do parents navigate the hurt of separation and simultaneously love their children the best they can?
Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider:
Do consider the other parent in your planning. You know you’re successful when the other parent thinks you’re thinking of them.
Don’t undermine the other parent in any way around your child. Hurt their mother or father and, like a boomerang comes back, you hurt them. Does any parent want their child hurt? And would any parent knowingly be party to that hurt?
Do speak well of the other parent. Find things they’re doing well and give credit where it’s due. Acknowledge their intentions mean well. Be patient if they doubt your intentions.
Don’t get angry with the other parent. Exercise patience with all the resilience you have in you. Be patient when you’re tempted to get upset.
Do spend short periods of time together (parents with child) if at all possible. This is not about giving them false hope of marital reconciliation, but it is one way to model maturity and the common threads of love for your child.
Don’t hold resentments, but instead find what YOU did wrong and show humility in saying sorry, demonstrating understanding for what you did wrong, making restitution, endeavouring not to do it again, and forgiving. It runs both ways but it starts with you.
When your ex-partner thinks you’re trying, they see your heart is in the right place, and trust is in the process of being restored. The child is then the chief benefactor.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Prayer of Reflection – the Gift of a Heart of Forgiveness

HERE I come before You, my Father,
Heaven’s desire steeped in my heart,
But unless to You I submit,
No portion of Your Spirit will You impart.
So, with that I humble myself,
In order that You may do,
Everything of Your accord,
And my heart would abide in You.
Even in the deed of surrender,
In the holy work of submission,
Bowing before You alone,
I’m granted Divine permission.
Then Your Spirit enables,
Searching deep beneath,
in the nodules of my heart,
You see everything as it is,
And there let my confession start.
Experiencing Your incising Presence,
Your grace-filled, truth-lit hand,
Though I’m rendered weak,
In that weakness I can stand.
That moment of truth’s deep ministry,
Within grace’s unfathomable flow,
I know I’m in safe hands,
And out of bitterness I can grow.
Faith emerges from belief,
When I see the work You do,
Transforming me from within,
Renewing me in what is true.
The covenant we join when we submit to Him who is our only help is not simply a binding one, but one in which there is victory.
Forgiveness is a gift of the heart. A God-job done without any help from us but surrender, confession and repentance.
Whenever we forgive we pray, ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven’ by our actions.
To forgive is to wrench calamity out of the enemy’s hands, to wrest control for truth and love.
Forgiveness is brokered in weakness but, in it, from God, we borrow strength.
Clemency is a gift enjoyed by all who prefer grace over condemnation.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What do you mean, my child’s not brilliant?

EXPECTATIONS are tricky things. When we expect bad news it never seems so bad, but, of course, we get it mostly when we least expect it.
(As I write this I smile at the fact that bad news is often cloaked in opportunity — when we give our judgments back to God and allow Him to launder them for us, He transforms us by the renewing of our minds.)
At the end of my son’s swimming lesson recently the teacher handed me a re-enrolment slip. He is to repeat the same level next term. Repeat? Suddenly, just for a moment, I caught myself thinking, “Well, this can’t be right…” Many other thoughts were then entertained, all of them false: he swims like a fish; he wasn’t assessed right; the standards are too high; maybe other people’s kids repeat, but mine? etc. All excuses or non-truths.
I’m afraid to say my thinking reveals the thinking of many parents of our age, wanting everything to run in favour of our kids. Not that that is bad in and of itself. But it potentially leads to some pretty onerous expectations that us parents place on anyone charged with teaching or leading our children. And, when acted out consistently, it potentially leads to entitled children.
The fact is our children will win some and they’ll lose some. Sometimes they advance beyond our expectations. At other times, our unconscious expectations aren’t met. Because we sometimes cannot bear to think that our child isn’t ‘special’. Again, a symptom of our age, if we’re honest. But perhaps that drive was always there — our children, the extension of one’s own ego.
After I dressed my son I queried the teacher just to clarify that he was to re-enrol in the present class (which may say more than what I wish to admit). She explained his areas of deficiency. I had seen these weaknesses. But even had I not I would have believed her, which is based in an overriding drive to have an effective relationship with an authority figure in my son’s life. But I could tell my query of clarification made her a little uneasy. And the fact that she was unsettled communicated to me that she was unsure if I could be trusted with the truth. I can certainly understand why she possibly felt that way.
Our kids experience triumph and disappointment, but us parents need to realise they’re defined by neither of them.
As parents we need to place less stock in our kids’ achievements and more stock in our commendation of their efforts.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Forgiveness and Freedom as we take Personal Responsibility

JESUS focused much of His teaching on the practice of forgiveness. But we could just as well say He was calling us to live responsible mature lives.
Think of those persons in your life that struggle massively with unforgiveness. Do they also seem unable to find the freedom that Christ went to the cross to give them? Do they also struggle to take their responsibility for mistakes made? Or, is it always someone else’s fault? Perhaps they find it impossible to attribute any causation to themselves. It could be that we, ourselves, resonate with these descriptions.
The thesis of this little piece is that forgiveness comes easier to people who readily take responsibility for their lives, and that those people are the mature, and free, ones.
Final frontiers of forgiveness occur when we encounter others who do not take responsibility. And, finding we cannot take all the responsibility, because relationships always feature contributions on both sides in conflicts, forgiveness is quickly thwarted where one party does not take their responsibility.
This is why we will never feel happy, safe or content in relationships with people who do not take personal responsibility for their lives. They, themselves, cannot be happy. They cannot be free. It’s as if they’re tormented. They have yet to experience the freedom that comes from being honest.
If you find yourself in an irresolvable situation with someone, where you’ve done all your apologising, and you’re still waiting on theirs, ask yourself, “Are they taking responsibility for their portion of the conflict?” Chances are they are not. Therein lies the problem.
Likewise, if you find yourself cornered by bitterness, ask, “Am I taking personal responsibility for my portion of what went wrong?” Perhaps you are not. Be sure that the double doors to forgiveness and freedom open up when we’re responsible for what we could’ve done better.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

K.I.N.D. (kindness is not difficult)

WHEN we take a step back from matters that irritate or infuriate us kindness as a response seems so far away. But when emotions are checked kindness is not difficult.
Consider carefully the following words by Jesus (in Luke) and Paul (in Romans):
35 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
— Luke 6:35-36 (NIV, highlighted for emphasis)
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
— Romans 2:1-4 (NIV, highlighted for emphasis)
Notice the following as far as kindness is concerned:
ü We expect nothing in return when we’re being kind. It is a loving grace that we do simply because we can. Expect nothing and the paradox occurs; we’re rewarded in the ultimate way.
ü God the Father is the model of kindness. Of the 56 times kindness comes up throughout the Bible, overwhelmingly our Father is referred as the one gifting such kindness.
ü If God can be kind to those who are ‘ungrateful’ (ever been ungrateful?) and ‘wicked’ toward Him, we can too, as we follow Jesus.
ü We have no excuse for the judgments we utter. And any view that is expressed in an unkind way is a judgment. We ought to know that judgments are what gets us into hot water with God.
ü God’s kindness to save us through Christ is intentioned to draw us to Him via repentance, so we can love others as God intended. We cannot be close to God other than via the disposition of repentance, whether that is through sin or simply seeking Him. To repent is to turn back to God. What use is it to ‘love’ people by setting them straight only to miss the mark of kindness? Only as we repent and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us back into communion with God (a daily, moment-by-moment practice of a disciple bearing their cross) are we positioned to love as He would have us love. And that love is kindness.
Tips for making the reality of kindness-is-not-difficult in our lives:
ü Watch what you say/do on social media. The far majority of times it’s best simply to not like, comment or share, especially on divisive issues. A comment or a share is a ‘say’, whereas a like/reaction is a ‘do’. They both communicate much. Do you realise that any little interaction on social media can be reported on your connections’ pages? It’s part of the sacrifice to make sure kindness-is-not-difficult. Advocates of one position or another need to be especially careful. We should always ask ourselves, “Is what I’m about to say/do, kind? — to everyone I can think of and, especially, those I cannot think of?”)
ü Look for opportunities to be kind, and God will quickly busy you with all sorts of prayers, thoughts, feelings and actions if you genuinely seek His will to this end.
ü Watch how your energy of kindness proliferates throughout the orbit of your life. It’s could also be an effective way counteract our mental illness — to throw ourselves into a life of kindness.
Kindness is not difficult. It’s harder to stay angry, cynical, judgmental and indifferent. Kindness is our gift to our world.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Peace for the past, hope for the future, joy for the present

AS far as east is to west such is the victorious love of God to achieve what we ever hope for in this lifetime. But, there’s a catch. It is meant to feel impossible. And that is certainly the case with forgiveness.
The famous first line in Rudyard Kipling’s Ballad of East and West goes: “OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…”
We haven’t been exposed to all of what forgiveness has to teach us until we’ve found it impossible to forgive. Until such a time as we are but one of two ‘powerful’ (and polarised) sides, and locked into that position… and never the twain shall meet. As far as reality is concerned, they may never apologise!
For at least one side (let’s presume that’s present company) such a position leaves us vulnerable to ongoing bitterness. Past holds present captive. Past holds future to ransom.
The paradox of forgiveness is bitterness is the last thing we want or wish to admit. We don’t want to be the unforgiving kind. But that’s where we find ourselves, before, that is, we move on beyond bitterness into God’s inevitable triumph for our holistic lives. Again, we had to find it impossible before God could first cure us of being blind to our own conceit. We have the capacity for bitterness like everyone else.
Now to truth that has incredible power in it:
Forgiveness heals the past and it frees us to invest in the future. It makes of the present a state of sweet shalom.
It’s easier to let go of something dear — what we feel embittered by — when we envisage something dearer. And is there anything dearer than the thought of reconciling the dimensions of our time?
When peace is made with the past, hopes for future build and blossom, and joy for the present is possible.
This truth known, bitterness can fall away, as we stride away from that which no longer holds any interest.
The baggage we’ve strained to hold for too long now is unworthy of carrying anymore.