Monday, March 25, 2013

12 Steps to Re-dis-covery

We all need to recover from something; it’s a universal God-given task. And if it’s not recovery, it’s about rediscovery. Usually it’s about both at different points along the spectrum of life.
The 12 Step Program has helped millions worldwide, primarily in overcoming addiction. But its simplicity and structure can help us all as we recover and rediscover within the phases of change in life.
Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless on our own
There is always something we cannot do on our own; indeed, there are many things. We might deny this fact, but the longer we do the more we delude ourselves.
Real power comes into our lives when we admit we are powerless on our own; that rediscovery and recovery rely so heavily on admitting we are powerless without God.
Step 2 – Came to believe God could help
For many, believing in God is no simple transaction. Prayer and seeking through open-mindedness brought them to the Lord—to give God a chance to prove his power.
Having seen God’s power we cannot help but believe. It is the help we all need.
Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God
Here comes the traction. Making a decision is linked with the will to act. And we must act if we are to prove we are committed to recovery and rediscovery.
“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.”
Alcoholics Anonymous (“How It Works”)
Having understood there is no halfway land where we can escape life, we go on by trudging forward, having committed ourselves to the way.
Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
This is the first test of our commitment. Have we got the courage to be further humiliated? Can we delve deeply into our failures, weaknesses, and patheticness? We all have them.
When we take to this task with rigorous honesty, God gets beside us, and we are carried, no less.
The Spirit of God highlights more information than we thought there was, but within us is a strange spirit of acceptance. We are encouraged by our courage and we acknowledge God is giving us power in how he is redeeming us, even now.
Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to someone else the exact nature of our wrongs
With Step 4 the precursor, our courage extends into the actual practice of confession. This need not be humiliating, and indeed may prove powerful, as we turn on ourselves and see our past for what it is in the sight of God.
There is a better reality than having God judge us; that is that we judge ourselves. But we best do it fairly.
Step 6 – Became entirely ready for God to remove these defects of character
I believe Steps 4 and 5—having made such a brutally honest confession—naturally lead to Step 6. Simply in the transaction of confessing something God convicts us all the more to go all the way, drawing on the spiritual power to expunge such issues.
Step 7 – Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings
This is a prayer of the utmost sincerity.
Upon such conviction to ask God to remove our shortcomings there is a blessing of a miracle. Some miracles are instant, whilst others are more gradual. But having committed, perhaps tearfully, we are given power to move on beyond those things that once trapped us. We learn to surrender; we learn a momentary surrender.
Step 8 – Made a list of persons we needed to make amends to
This is where some of the rubber hits the road. Step 8 is crucial in giving Step 7 traction. If we are to have our shortcomings removed we need to continue along the path of humility. It takes a great deal of humility to make a list of persons we intend to make restitution towards. And we don’t hold back.
Step 9 – Actually made amends, unless to do so might injure them
With nothing of us, and everything of God, we pray for the right opportunity to make amends, but we do something that is so crucial by a very cautious method.
If we aren’t careful we will hurt people.
Making amends is always about the other person, not us. When the other person is head of the agenda our eventual amends is right. It brings healing, but not because we did so; more because God paved the way and we obeyed with diligence.
Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, we admitted it
The 12 step program is initially a program of humiliation, in strangely teaching us the noble art of humility. We are all so commonly wrong. When we acknowledge that truth we understand admitting our wrongness is just about interpersonal integrity.
Being wrong and admitting it is no big deal, yet there is the power of God in it as we rest within our humility to do such a thing.
Step 11 – Sought through prayer to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out
Prayer is simple. All we need to pray for is the knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry out. Knowledge is about awareness and the power to carry something out is about courage.
We are blessed to keep it simple.
Step 12 – Committed, as part of our transformation, to carry this message to others it might help
This step, along with the previous few, sustains us in our recovery and rediscovery. It’s so important others have access to this power for healing and transformation, and the only way they will see is via our testimony.
God has a plan for all of us in terms of recovery and rediscovery. Let us not limit the power within that plan. Let us instead take proper steps in constantly recovering and rediscovering our divine purpose in this life.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.
For more information, visit

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fear Tamed In Jesus’ Name

“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God... And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
~John 1:12, 14a (NRSV)
The Incarnation... God in flesh... a babe is born, but not just any babe.  This is Immanuel, the prophesied Christ-child.  He came for a purpose above all secondary purposes: to give us power in his name; the redemption path back to the Father.
Restoration was that purpose.
Jesus came and lived with us (with our kind at least) to identify himself with humanity.  God is perennially closer than we think.
Positions of Restoration
Maybe you’re restored but there’s a taint.  What has once occurred may be a distant memory.  God’s will is that you feel restored, today.  Cast your gaze heavenward.  The Lord knows your prayer.  Then you will receive power for life
Perhaps you’ve never been restored.  You’d not have the foggiest what that’s about.  Search for God.  Knock at Jesus’ door.  As you knock and ask with authentic sincerity, you’ll end up receiving.  You’ll feel like you’ve never felt.  Lighter, cheerier and braver you’ll be.
Possibly you’re living ‘restored’; the best thing.  To take in this life without an encumbrance; to witness without filters and impediments all of what God’s done and doing; to establish feet to the ground, but with mind and heart in heaven; to be able to give and receive love without blight or fanfare... you are very blessed.
You have the keys to the kingdom.
Benediction to Jesus Who Came
To God who visited and from life to death lived just as we live; who didn’t sneer at his creation but loved it that much he wanted to rub up against it and be the physical manifestation of its hope... we give our thanks and praise.
For the Master... the King of kings and the Lord or lords... the Beginning and the End... the Alpha and the Omega... the One who came: glory to God in the highest, that you came, that you saw what you wished to restore.  And for us power came.  Power to become all we were destined to become.
There is power for life in Jesus’ name. But it’s an unconventional power. When we present before God by surrender in faith, and before others in authenticity, we truly experience power. At such a place fear is vanquished. We can be really real at last.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In Whom the LORD Takes Pleasure

“His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
Psalm 147:10-11 (NRSV)
Why is it we are so prone, in our different circumstances, to self-imposed pressure? We want rich and comfortable lives, yet, in trying to set our lives up that way, we so often put the cart before the horse and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves.
We defeat the purpose.
Nobody lives life without wanting the best out of it. Our base intentions are generally pure from that perspective. But with myriad distraction, and because of our brokenness, we are led off track hardly an instant from receiving safe bearing.
We, in the context of our world, are our own worst enemies.
So it is that we need to be reminded, again and again and again, that we serve a powerful God that has designed our service to be simple; to be achievable; to be anything but onerous.
Coming Back to the Heart of Worship
The Matt Redman song, The Heart of Worship, re-centralises us to the point of our origin. Life really is all about Jesus. And though we may be criticised for being so ‘religious’ we actually get the right perspective of life from that very centre.
From this bearing we would become more action and less about words.
As we come back to the heart of worship, we connect with a beautiful truth: there is no more need to push or try or pressure ourselves beyond what is simply noble. God expects nothing of the impossible from us, and it is impossible for us to expect ourselves to contain the unsustainable.
Why would we push ourselves to burn-out? Why, when everything within us says stop, do we continue? Why is it that we push ourselves beyond normal limits for so long? We ought to respect our limited mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities more. We are human beings, not gods.
Coming back to the heart of worship is a deliberate move to jettison the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves. God graces us with power so we would work within the realms of our weakness, and not to push our very weaknesses to breaking point.
It is our opportunity to get life, and to keep life, in proper perspective. It is wisdom.
God calls us not to self-imposed pressure, impossible demands, or unsustainable ventures. Instead, God gives us the simplicity of purpose: to come back to the heart of worship and from there life begins and has all its fulfilment. The Lord takes pleasure in those who come back to the heart of worship.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Expecting Our Baby – A Poem

“Behold, the inheritance of the Lord, children, the reward of the fruit of the womb.”
Psalm 127:3 (LXX)
Sometimes I wonder if people don’t understand,
The terrible loss about nature’s hand,
When pregnancy’s a thing a couple’s denied,
They are called in faith in which to abide.
We waited our time and took every chance,
Upon faith we now find we’ve got reason to dance,
The vision we enjoy is pregnant delight,
No longer do we experience that dark night.
With days to run we now behold time,
Every beat within our hearts is a resonating chime,
Baby’s uterine movement is reminder enough,
Our times are about to change—such good stuff!
To you, the one, we don’t know who you are,
But in every single way to us you’re the star,
Whether you’re a boy or a girl really doesn’t matter,
All that matters is you make our hearts patter.
What wonder fills us about the coming day,
When you will arrive and be with us to stay,
Everything will change in the blink of an eye,
You will give us every reason to ensure we cry.
It’s too easy to forget God, who gave you to us,
So it’s our very certain goal—to thank him, we must,
He has woven you and knit you, cell upon cell,
Everything God does he certainly does well.
We have waited to full term to get to know you,
Our little baby, our yawner, to you respect is due,
As we wait upon God, keen to observe,
God willing it will be, we will hold our nerve.
We have dressed your nursery with all sorts of adornments,
And it will be a thrill to see you there in living performance,
You are the little person, you hold the key,
To complete within us every measure of glee.
God could not bless us better than this,
To know every measure of recounting bliss,
You, he will give us, entrusting us as guards,
And joy upon joy with which God bombards.
We identify with every couple who has worked hard to get pregnant; who has had to exercise faith in God to wait patiently. Of course, it has been worth the wait, as we anticipate the arrival of our special little creation, that, by God’s good grace, is about to come into being. We, as parents-to-be, are wonderfully blessed.
Of course, we would value your prayers.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Utmost Heights of Human Greatness

“When our hearts are full of God, sending up holy desires to the throne of grace, we are then in our highest state, we are upon the utmost heights of human greatness; we are not before kings and princes, but in the presence and audience of the Lord of all the world, and can be no higher till death is swallowed up in glory.”
William Law (1686–1761)
There is a state, the highest state, that the author, above, propounds. How is this state to be realised? It is realised by sending up holy desires to the throne of grace. It is realised through prayer, but not any old prayer. It is realised through prayer that makes its very desire, holy. We too easily pass over that. Too easily do we read into these words the word “desire,” forgetting “holy.”
Giving way to obedience in the Spirit is rather unnatural, until Christ grabs us. Then service unto all humankind is considered a privilege because of it is service unto the Lord, his very self. But such a concept is so foreign, even among Christians, who, as a matter of our being, are given to obedient seasons before we then slump.
But sending up holy desires to the throne of grace is the sure-fire way to command from God the allegiances of his angels, because of our intentional faithfulness. And there is a heavenly reversal in play: by obedience we are found wrong when we may be right; we endure hardship when we might deserve glory; when we have most reason to complain, we don’t, and praise becomes us instead.
Sending up holy desires to the throne of grace is home within every imaginable nuance of repentance. We glory in the fact of our fallibility and vulnerability. To hold onto weakness is a travesty. We should rather prefer our weaknesses exposed and dealt with, without fear or derision.
This is a rare life; that experiences the full measure of Christian humiliation.
Do We Really Desire Such a Life?
We are stuck in this life between two awkward pillars of sensitivity: one is the rock of our own selfishness, which promises fulfilment but lacks any, and the other is a hard place of raucous demand to live a holy life; a state of being that looks like hell, but one that’s absolutely heavenly to see from within.
Our typical repose is to sit on the fence.
We want to be saved, and we know we are, but we cannot rid ourselves of our worldly cringe. To pray in ways to send up holy desires to the throne of grace appears attractive, but, all the same, it’s a pipedream—until we give ourselves to God.
Jesus Christ doesn’t want 97% of us. In sporting terms, he wants 110%. Of course, we fail him, again and again and again. Praise God for his grace. What he wants is not our effort, but our sincere devotion. That is to achieve the utmost heights of human greatness; to worship the Lord with joyous abandon.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When Son Cries Out, “Father!”


“Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’”

Genesis 22:7a (NRSV)

We can only imagine what was going through Isaac’s and Abraham’s minds and hearts during the story that is the substitutionary sacrifice that God prepared in order to save Isaac in approving Abraham’s faith.

Consider sacrificing one’s own son! Of course, this is no strange concept to God, that God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son to save it. But for us, this is a heinous thought—to sacrifice our own sons (or daughters).

In many unfortunate ways, however, sons have been neglected by their fathers, just as daughters have been neglected by their mothers—and certainly vice versa.

Consider this story:

A Passage through Life without Dad

A boy grows through his toddler years knowing Dad in and around the home, but, while still at a young age, Dad leaves, without a trace. He is left with a few scant memories. As he enters his early teens he is easily envious of other boys who have their fathers in their lives. In his late teens, the boy grows resentful and angry. He struggles to respect men, let alone trust them. He marries eventually and has his own children, and wonders with genuine curiosity what sort of Grandad his Dad would have made. Having made something of his life he still wishes Dad to recognise him as the man he has become. But Dad cannot be found. This boy, now a full-grown man, is engaged in some level of ambiguous grief. In his 40s, this man would dearly love to just sit and compare notes with his father.

Of course, it’s a sad story, but one replayed in a myriad of formats and nuances throughout life. So many families have crumbled and have never been put back together.

With prompt recognition of unfortunate family circumstances there is also the opportunity to make of what can be made. No life is destitute. Even without a father or mother there is the grandness of hope beyond the given circumstance.

The Truth about Fathers

Perhaps it’s the person who has no father, or someone who has lost their father, who may vouch for the value of the father.

Although Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac, he was not motivated out of neglect, but out of adherence to God, and God would never have required Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

The truth about fathers, especially as sons are concerned, but also with daughters, is they are vital. Not only is it vital that fathers don’t damage their sons (or daughters) it’s equally vital that they love them with all their hearts.

The truth about fathers is they have power—through God to speak love into their children’s lives. That is not to mention the negative power they have by abuse or neglect.

Being a father is about the highest responsibility any man could embrace.


When a son cries out, “Father!” he needs his father to respond in love. The boy who hears a response, and who is loved, is a boy who will grow into safe manhood. Fatherhood may be just about the most important role any man could be given by God.

© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Faith Just Enough to Live

Life is much like how a shark moves. Sharks must keep swimming. In staying spiritually alive, we also must keep moving in the direction of progress. And progress is keeping to the path that God has set for our lives, remembering that there are possibly many right paths we might keep to.
But, we are apt to forget—and this is important—progress doesn’t always mean advancement or enhancement. Progress can mean simply keeping up. Progress can also mean recognising we have lagged behind.
Progress is simply seeing God’s will and responding.
For anyone who is on the road to burn out, who is contemplating how they will get through the day or the week or the month or the year, their request of God is faith just enough to live. These don’t require much from the Lord, just a gentle strength to keep responding well a moment at a time.
There is a prize to such faith; to simply keep going on our God-decreed passage.
The Multiplicity of Growth In Mustard-Seed Faith
Perhaps the most encouraging knowledge we can have about faith is that only a little as required; only enough to keep us going; only enough to get us through; and what is sufficient in God’s grace is always enough.
As we venture forth succeeding in our moments, as we bear them patiently, resisting the flexion of our frustration, we are winning the moment.
Winning the moment is not all there is, though it’s the most important thing for our spiritual sanity. Winning the moment is only part of the story. Adding to the power of winning the moment is the idea of reflecting in the present moment.
This is about reminding ourselves of our faithfulness in trusting God.
God wants us encouraged. God wants us to know when he is pleased with us.
We never get a big head from recognising such truths, because we are recognising God’s provision in getting from A to B, then from C to D, etc.
When we notice our resilience, we notice also the faithfulness of God, and it helps us continue; to endure. As we endure, our mustard-seed faith grows and matures.
This is why it’s so important to be encouraged by other people, because they validate what we may already know. Recognition is encouragement.
Life is tough enough that faith is required just to live. None of us are immune to problems, just as none of us are saved from them. We don’t need huge portions of faith; just enough to do is all that is required. When faith is kept simple it is at its most powerful. By faith in God we connect our problems with the strength to endure them.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Considering Life Pure Joy

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”
— James 1:2-4 (NRSV)
When it humbles us, we are to consider life an impassable joy; that we have, what is, momentary awareness, the jangling of feelings, yet God holds us as okay.
The very fact of our experiential selves is tantalising. Rather than by a dearth of sickliness we approach our challenges in remembrances of joy—by simple awareness of God’s faithfulness and that to believe is choice: to go against the grain of the prevailing self that shelters us from the feeling within our pain and discomfort.
Taken further in, we know that by facing our pain and that discomfort of dread that God will be for us, a Rock, and we’ll be strengthened by our faith to face up in this way.
We don’t go into such pain and discomfort—for faith’s prize—without every sort of reasonable support we can lay our hands on; going there with all the support won’t make the challenge easy, just easier; more tolerable.
And growing our faith in these ways, to the fullness of maturity, is a lifelong process with no shortcuts. Why would we want to shortcut the process and render ourselves incapable of it because it was too much? God’s not greedy in requiring us to grow beyond our limits—his grace is eternally sufficient.
What this means, in simple terms, is maturity is the destination of being able to bear, even endure, the painful and uncomfortable. Such is the Christian calling. And through Christ there is no better way.
We may think that considering such difficulty pure joy is some sadistic thing. It’s never that at all. We only endure these things because God, by his will, has purposed them for us through the way our lives are turning out. The Lord loves us so much it’s his desire we grow. And God has faith in us that we can endure.
God is known so fundamentally in the quiet, darker spaces of life, where there’s no place to run and no place to hide. Only there can we find the truer urgent Presence abiding with us. And from a distance away from such darkness we’ll truly recall the beautiful joy we experienced even in the shrill pain—where we met our Saviour.
The more we’re humbled the more opportunity we have to grow in stately godliness. The more things happen against us the more God is for us, by our responses of faith to endure patiently those horrible moments.
Considering life pure joy, even when it disagrees violently with our notions of joy, is living life victoriously. It’s not denying our feelings, but feeling the full force of them in the all-sufficient grace of God, and growing anyway.
Considering life pure joy, not despite our circumstances, but in spite of them, is about trusting God; it’s about rejecting the temptation to lean on our own shallow understanding. God always vindicates our faith; to never stop trusting.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.