Friday, September 30, 2011

4 Ways to De-Clutter Our Lives

One of the leading hidden causes of depression and other mental illnesses is said to be excess clutter in our lives. The truth is we are magnets for clutter, and living in today’s complex world only exacerbates the problem. So, what do we do about it? Here are four ideas that will help:

1. Identify and Dispense with Physical Clutter

There’s the obvious presence of unnecessary possessions that hamper our happiness—more is not necessarily more, but the opposite is true. Less is often more. This applies to our use of time and number of committed activities, and our relationships so far as conflict is concerned, also.

The presence of material, chronological, and relational clutter is not all that’s in scope here. Our health, diet, and physical fitness are also reminders of the simple and effective life. As we set ourselves health-related goals, and plan on achieving them, we rid ourselves of enemies to our diligence.

Diligence is the key to greater physical prosperity, and nothing may augment de-cluttering our lives better than feeling good in our own skin.

2. Challenge and Debunk Mental Clutter

There’s a lot of potential clutter in everyone’s thinking, but it’s difficult to discover it when we are so used to thinking our certain ways.

Our relationships, capacities, and confidence all play their part in reinforcing established thinking patterns or paving new ones. Generally, all of this happens under the radar, at a subconscious level of the mind.

Understanding our pasts, and how they inform our present and future, is a key to challenging and debunking incorrect thinking that presents as mental clutter. Dealing with our incidences of rejection at the hand of others, for good example, may help in revealing the false thinking patterns we’ve established. One by one these can be repealed, but first we must become aware of them.

Dealing with our emotional clutter can help.

3. Deal With Emotional Clutter

We only have to think in terms of past, future, and present, again, to begin to understand there are feelings that present in certain situations—not all of these are positive. Indeed, some of these have created, or continue to create, much pain for us.

Emotional clutter can be classified as feelings that continue to take us in the wrong direction. If we accept these feelings are counter-productive, and unnecessary, we can begin to challenge the thinking behind them. We can use our minds to transform our thoughts and, therefore, our feelings.

4. Identify and Debunk Spiritual Clutter

False beliefs (which are nothing to do with beliefs in God, per se) are an insidious nemesis. These are the things that support superstitions, non-productive values, and ill-directed priorities.

These untrue beliefs affect our spirituality. Using our mind and our emotions we can search both our thinking and feelings for the presence of untruth. As these are revealed we can begin the debunking process, replacing them with beliefs that are enshrined in truth. This way our spirituality shores up our thinking and feeling.


Clutter, as we’ve seen above, can be best categorised and dealt with in the realms of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, respectively. Each of these holds a key to unlocking more of the good life—that which is harnessed in truth.

Freedom awaits; if we identify, challenge, debunk, and rid ourselves of clutter. Simpler lives are abundantly powerful lives!

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Having Endured Hell – Now Out the Other Side

Having travelled onward and through one of a variety of tunnels resembling hell, we celebrate the memory of the thought: once I was there, but for now, no more. There is one emotion we feel; presented generously as a virtue...

We are thankful or, otherwise, grateful:

1. For, while the experience was tough beyond measure, we learned much about ourselves and life. This learning tended us towards wisdom. We begin to appreciate the biblical principle outlined in Hebrews chapter 12—discipline never feels right at the time, but it works for our good later if we respond appropriately.

2. To have survived such tremors and the devastation that followed. This commands serious reflection; it was either a great escape or a skilful exit imbued in patience. Anyone who’s survived such inordinate terror has had their values of life significantly realigned. Truth has become victor.

3. For the energy—that we once brashly took for granted—that’s now been returned to us. God, our Provider, is good! Now we will be more responsible with our reserves of energy, appreciating it all the more, even investing in activities of renewal.

4. For the enhancement of our vision. We are now plugged into compassion for the suffering, lonely, and desperate. We have received such a gift and it is ours ever more. This is the wisdom of love which is added to the practicalities of wisdom which are elsewhere highlighted.

5. To note the presence of others who stood by us through thick and thin. This awkward and strenuous phase of life proved the value of friendship and, more, the attribute of courage in those who waded through the miry clay with us. What made this doubly special is many of these weren’t compelled to help; they chose to.

6. That it’s not only the present moment we are thankful for, but the bold and brimming future that waits in store. Bright with hope, because of our endurance, we plunge forward with an eye on tomorrow, and breath saved for that run. Our experience entitles us to fear not.

7. For the changes we had to accept, that seemed forced at the time, but now appear as part of the journey to who we’ve become. Our trust during such hard times is revealed as faith, now, to succeed. Faith, as a result, is never easier.


Having traversed hell, and trudged the muddy and shell-shocked trenches, we feel vindicated—no less, thankful—for the faith to endure, that got us out the other side.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Employing the Psychology of Reward

We will find time to do the things we want to do; those things that motivate us because of the rewards we receive. Ordinarily we think we are forced or externally influenced to do what we do, but really we choose—again, for we get out of it.

Where it all gets confused, in this oft busy life, is when we have conflicting priorities and not enough time to achieve them all in. That’s the problem; not so much the thing we least want to do but feel like we have to do.

Appreciating This Psychology

If we agree that we are motivated only by reward—even if most times that reward may be to avoid punishment—then we are able to structure life in order to attract abundance, mutual blessing, positive outcomes, and the fruit of joy that abides with each of these.

We might:

1. Begin to see the bright level of empowerment we actually have. Choice is for many of us an inherent blessing we habitually take too much for granted. There are far many more people on this earth that might have much less choice than we do—still, the psychology of reward operates in and for everyone.

2. Cherish the awareness of our motivation for reward, learning to meditate and pray on the fact more and more, so that we can develop this level of awareness. Such a thing will only add more richness to our lives, and if that occurs, others’ lives will be enriched as well.

3. Understand how rewards motivate other people, and this will help us understand them better. Therefore, we will have more empathy, patience, and compassion. Furthermore, through our observations the value and complexities of wisdom is all the more underscored.

4. Challenge our actions; those resources we commit, like time, effort, and money to the things we do. Are they really delivering the reward we seek? If we richly desire to lose twenty pounds—with its associated medium to longer term benefits—we need to understand how shorter term rewards will either compromise the longer term goal or promote its achievement. We can’t work for a fleeting reward like tasty treats (and the instant regret we’re rewarded with!), but we can work for a reward that notes how good it feels to enjoy a balanced diet in moderation, feeling better in our clothes with each coming week.

Structuring Rewards Creatively

Employing the knowledge of rewards can help us achieve any foreseeable goal because we maximise the value of the rewards that lead us to our goal, all the while minimising sight and temptation of the rewards that lead us away from a goal.

Understanding the power of rewards is the key to our lasting joy; never again should we be motivated solely by avoiding punishment, for there is little power in that.

When we’re creative enough to envision and visualise rewards leading to life, God will inspire us to employ them. This is a classic example of practical salvation experience.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Forgiving Ourselves for Forgettable Memories

Forgiveness in Christian circles finds itself based, mostly, in the forgiveness of others; we often forget that God has forgiven us, and therefore we ought to forgive ourselves. Indeed, forgiving ourselves might be a forgotten art—the grace of God given freely, yet somehow not retrieved.

So far as self-forgiveness—in other terms, self-acceptance, in spite of what we’ve done or not done—is concerned, there are some essential factors that bear consideration.

1. The Fact of Other People’s Memories

Besides the bullies in our midst, we overestimate the power and range of other people’s memories. They are not usually as good as we ascribe them to be, besides, again, those indifferent and vexatious influences in our lives.

Most people have long forgotten the mistakes and failures that cling dearly to us—the self-condemnation still burdening away, clawing at our insides, disparaging our present day, limiting our potential... our potential for God.

We can well imagine the will of God is for us to accept that such damaging memories are malignant and cancerous; the fact is the Lord has forgiven us!

2. The Fact of God’s Forgiveness

Do we take God at his word?

It is naturally a rhetorical question—of course, we must accept that, due our repentance, we have been forgiven, perhaps a long, long time ago; the instant we repented in remorse.

For some reason the experience of forgiveness has been lost on us, partially or fully, or perhaps we know we’ve been forgiven at a level, but we still condemn ourselves for the act or inaction that caused such remorseful and embarrassing feelings.

We need to know the fact of God’s forgiveness, afresh.

This is the feeling of spiritual freedom. When we have a calmly, bubbling finish to our present day outlook, smiling effervescently into mirrors, looking people in the eye, able to laugh at life, and equally able to accept many dimensions of truth, we are experiencing this spiritual freedom.

3. The Fact of Our Personal Forgiveness

God’s forgiveness can be rationalised at many levels. We read it in the Bible, our pastors preach about it each week, we talk about it, and we sense it’s true.

But theoretical knowledge of the Lord’s forgiveness means little if we can’t feel it within us. We always know there are issues when we struggle for authenticity; self-consciousness gets the better of us because we are preoccupied by internal issues that have never been reconciled to our personal satisfaction.

The fact of our personal forgiveness is to so many a learned thing; gradually accepted more and more as we recognise the fact that grace covers any and all our mistakes.

Forgiveness is never more important than the personal experience of it—having forgiven ourselves. This is the power to feel the grace of God, which is a gift. God has forgiven us, so what are we waiting for?

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Awakening Purpose and Life Calling

Moses responds to the LORD: “If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now.” ~Exodus 33:15 (Msg).

Calling is a funny thing.

God’s not the only one that calls. There is the Enemy who also calls, and if we follow, we may soon know it by the devil-sponsored accusations that may surface. The Enemy veils envy, camouflaging it for passion. A standing-back wisdom is called for.

If we really want something, watch out! The key question ought to be, “Why do I want this thing so badly?”

Finding and Accepting What We Are Purposed For

Surely one of the biggest tests of wisdom any of us face is the race for purpose and meaning. Because we see so many ways of achieving, our chief temptation can be to jump on board a purpose that won’t carry us all the way to the finish line.

The breakneck world we live in is part of our problem; the competitive mindset rewards quick action, but, just as the hare lost to the tortoise, decisions made prematurely can have lasting negative consequences.

If we commit to a calling that seems right, but proves later not to be, we are no better off and often have to start all over again, besides the disappointment we experience in letting ourselves and others down.

Our best aim has to be set in finding our purpose. In many cases it might be accepting what we may have, for some reason, been resisting. Finding or accepting what we are purposed for are separate challenges.

There can be no doubt, however; the power behind calling is passion.

Passion: The Missing Link in Calling

Passion is ease as far as purpose is concerned. Achievement is never easier when the work is done effortlessly and in joy.

Whenever we see someone who has achieved great things we are amazed at their resources of creativity and energy to accomplish so much. It amazes us because our passion isn’t manifested like theirs is. But it was their passion that got them there, and it’s passion that leads them home.

We should only want what we can truly be passionate about—for passion will empower us, but indifference wants for passion and it will prove our nemesis.

Passion will sustain us through great tumults and it’ll take us to the logical end point; all the way there.

There is a great danger in trying to copy others, and to emulate great deeds that we admire. If these are not ‘us’ then we potentially waste our lives dispassionately.

Two reasons why our prayers aren’t answered the way we want them to be, are:

1. We’re working on the wrong purpose; or,

2. We’re not there yet, but persistence pays, and one day we will be.

We have addressed the former above. The latter is about not giving up; a test of our resilient tenacity. Perseverance is rewarded eventually.


Wisdom regarding vision and life purpose is a tricky business. Not wanting what we want too much is important, because it can skew our decision-making. Better to employ our passion at the level of doing and let the outcomes sort themselves.

God sponsors the approach to our calling. Like Moses, we’d be remiss to go anywhere that the Spirit of God has long since departed from or, as we are personally concerned, has never been.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Truth and Transformation

On the subject of true disciples, Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” ~John 8:31b-32 (NRSV).

Everyone, it would seem, is motivated to achieve the abundant life—so far as their understanding permits their entrance. Not everyone, therefore, understands what the abundant life is, and therefore how to get there. (Likewise, many wouldn’t want it if they knew what it entailed.) The abundant life is transformation. And only those interested in the truth will be adept at getting it.

More of the Abundant Life

Truth is the hinge. If we cannot abide in the truth, surrendering ourselves to it, we cannot be transformed. If we’re not transformed the abundant life goes begging.

This is a philosophical, logistical, and moralistic Catch-22. We can have one only with the other: truth, then transformation; then, equally, the abundant life.

God, it’s revealed, has an inordinate sense of humour grounded eternally in justice. We can only have the keys to the kingdom—the true kingdom resplendent of the abundant life—when we place the truth, which is the wisdom and Word of God, at the forefront of thinking, speech, decision-making, and action.

Knowledge and the Will To Make Happen

What Jesus is saying, above, is the Word, and therefore the wisdom, of God is disclosed only to those true disciples with the right eye and ear for truth. Only they will know the truth as it is expounded through the Scriptures. Only they will know the truth as it is displayed in ordinary life.

Yet, just about everybody else, also, knows such truth—the repugnance of injustice, for instance. Therefore they, too, know the indelible din of truth. But they don’t consider it highly enough.

Only those fervently in the Word of God—valuing it as their Holy Grail—will grasp the subliminal message of truth as it prevails over their hearts and minds, blessing their understanding to go in transformation.

Knowledge is the fundamental key—but this is not a self-willed knowledge of study. It is, rather, the knowledge of God via inspiration and revelation—the Spirit-sense for truth. Again, only the true disciple is blessed with such knowledge which comes from God alone.


Transformation has a catch; we can only truly be transformed if we know the truth and we allow it to change us. Transformation, we see, is actually repentance—that which is gift-wrapped, presented for positive display. Repentance: the will to turn back to God.

Here, emphasised, is the fact of God within. The Word of God is a double-edged sword, dividing soul and spirit, bone and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). It searches us and it is the key to growth—if we will allow it to germinate, afresh, and thrive within us.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Trusting in a Plan for the Future

The sin of envy is as damaging an emotion as it’s commonly felt. We are all given to comparison. Yet, we forget that life is an ebb and flow business. Some appear to get ahead, others appear to fall behind it, but the distance of years is longer than any of us imagine. It’s amazing how life evens the results.

Two Habits for Hope

Two things we can do will help provide great hope for our future: firstly, forget about the competition—life is not a competition; secondly, we should keep trying and not give up easily.

Both of these two things are difficult to do; they are easy to forget. But we are rewarded with hope when we remember and apply them.

Accepting Our Potential

Many of us are born with dreams that are unrealisable. We may wonder why God has sown such a hope in our hearts. Perhaps it’s because of the process of maturation; nobody gets everything they want. Accepting our potential is a key to becoming mature.

I once wanted to be a great sportsperson. It’s what I lived for in my dreams. Yet, it’s clear looking back now that I was never going to achieve that. Not achieving our greatest of dreams empowers those dreams that we do fulfil. Victory is sweet eventually. We all have some things to be proud of.

Observing the Varying Seasons of Life

Achievement is never a continuous concept for anyone. Every single person has seasons of preparation or abeyance to endure or ahead of them.

We are blessed to become casual and causal observers of life. By casual, we take it as an informal interest; enjoying the observations and making sense of them in truth. By causal, we seek to understand why events and situations and outcomes happen. We look for the cause, again in truth—for our emotions of envy will only get in the way.

Wisdom is the art of practising interest in life, but by being distant enough, emotionally, that we are not engaged to the point of uncontrolled or straying emotion.

Observation is fun if we’ll engage in it without thought of prize.

Remembering the Duration of Years

Most of us live longer than we anticipate the length of our life. In other words, as we look back we do and achieve so much more than we can even remember.

It bears careful consideration: life is more than just today or tomorrow or next week or next year. God does have a plan for us; a plan to prosper our future (Jeremiah 29:11).

A worthy saying:

Life’s not in the envy that mounts, but instead where it’s heading; that’s where it counts.

Our best wisdom is trusting in where our lives are heading.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, September 23, 2011

God’s Prize Is You!

Surely everyone asks, “What is the meaning of life?” It’s the subject that bamboozles so many. Very few people discover life’s answer. Can such an answer be so elusive? It’s probably simpler than we think.

Peace is central to the meaning of life. But what, really, is peace and is it that simple? And how is peace achievable through such a complex, rollercoaster ride we call life?

Perhaps—again—the meaning of life, and of peace, is so much closer than we typically think.


All our lives we struggle for peace,

All in all its purpose is release,

Then again—dynamic as we suppose,

Life’s ever-changing bubble is a constant repose.

Year after year we strive for the answer,

Until suddenly we realise our likeness to a dancer,

For negotiating the steps in time with the song,

Is nothing more complicated than not getting it wrong.

As we stand back and observe the typical flow,

We begin to comprehend more than we know,

God’s blessing rests in the simplicity of stride,

To enjoy, truly, the wobbling everyday ride.

The ending of the music is merely cause to reflect,

The joy of the journey and trials to deflect,

What we’re left with—unbridled and true,

Is God’s prize for life is nothing but you.


God’s prize for life is giving us to ourselves—the fact of self-freedom to repose in our own skin. Knowledge of God has the most inherent spin-off: to know ourselves, be at truth, and except same.

Get this: the subject of blessing and the actual prize are one and the same. The full spiritual search reveals itself done when we claim our prize, and it is—quite comprehensively—us! Better still, it’s us at full quotient of our potential, or the best there can be.

God cannot offer any better reward to us than we, personally, to ourselves. And it’s only God, and a relationship with the Divine, that can do this.

This is a strange concept: we, ourselves, apart from ourselves. We’ll have an inkling of this truth, however, if we’re being honest with ourselves; firstly in our dissonance with ourselves—notably in our experience of fear and isolation etc—and secondly, perhaps by having made the discovery. The latter of these is by far the preferred.

The value of this truth cannot possibly be understated, when all our lives we search for the meaning to it all. Then it seems a tragic irony; it was there all along, on our front porch, waiting for us to investigate, wanting us to realise; God was there with our real ‘us’ stowed.

In self-discovery, however, as with many things, it’s better late than never.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Conversation with God

A thoroughly awe-inspiring prospect in life is conversing with God, yet we hardly do it. Only when we dip to the bottom of the barrel do we often pray. How amazing it is that we can take God’s hand at any time and enjoy a healing conversation.

Let’s just imagine what the conversation with God might sound like:


Come with me on this trip, my child,

So you’ll be free to see,

How I transform your problems to mild,

Happier you’ll ever be.

I want to take you by the hand,

Just for a short excursion,

Visions of warm welcoming sand,

And seas of healing immersion.

I want to lead you by the heart,

To play among the field,

The fondness with which we can start,

Intimacy created and sealed.

I want to restore you deep in mind,

In order to communicate,

Many things in this world are kind,

With these I want you to relate.

I want to establish you deep in your soul,

In touch with your brightening relief,

Then it is you’ll know your role,

Intrinsically part of belief.

Then you will come to understand,

Welcoming the means to an end,

Realising now I put faith in your hand,

Souls are mine to mend.


If ever we want the edge taken off our problems we go see God, spend some time, and spiritually things get better.

Using the imagination we go to a far away land in our minds—a calming beach scene or a beautifully furnished field. These images imply serenity and rest.

It’s in these times that our investment in intimacy with God is richly blessed. We take our willingness to the Almighty and the Lord seals our wish.

God wants to restore the mindset of positivity. Of the many things of virtue perhaps we have polarised to those of vice. It is all too easy to forget the positive and only note the negative; there is, however, much kindness in the world. God wants us to relate with these.

Deeper even still God will take us, if we will allow, and suddenly revelation breaks through our awareness—our belief is buoyed.

Finally, the recognition of hope is felt deep in the conscious mind; our souls are God’s to mend.


God wants to take us far away from the sharpness of our problems, and just a little obedient time with our Lord will restore us to the battle. Conversations with God are a universal need. It is in these that God heals our heads, hearts and souls. Then we are ready to launch into life.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The ‘More Doors’ Outlook

Jesus said to his disciples regarding God’s provision of a place in heaven: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places...” ~John 14:2a (NRSV).

As a follow-up to the article Open Door Policy, it bodes as well to consider the vast number of potential doors that could open to us.

Our belief is even further bolstered in knowing that—upon our patience—God opens the exact right door, closing many others, perhaps, that may seem equally appropriate and destined for us.

The truth is there are always more doors, and even more than we can count or consider. There is no reason for us to panic about the imminence of a door that’s closing that seems perfect for us.

God’s Voluminous Plan

The fact of the doors of life creates anxiety in all of us and the only way to not become anxious is to engage the trust of faith—the willingness to lose, potentially, what seems to be a win for the overall win, provident of the ‘more doors’ perspective.

Could it be possible that Jesus—whilst talking about heaven; the way to the Father—might also have been inviting us to a broader theology of ‘options’ in the initial verses of John 14?

Where there are many rooms there are many doors; many more doors and many more rooms than we mere humans could envisage.

We see one plan and two or three options, and perhaps one plan B, and that’s about the extent of our typical perspective. We don’t see the doors ajar and about to spring open up in our immediate futures.

The Lord’s plan is voluminous in that it provides for us, as evidenced by the very many blessings that we’ve enjoyed in the past. No matter what we suffered or missed out on, there are so many more things we have received. These gifts have been issued under a ‘more doors’ policy—our God is the Lord of surprises. We prayed for one thing and we often received something completely different, but it sufficed.

Transforming Outlooks

Our task is to transform our outlook from that of a static, single-dimension which features as a single door that we fixate on, to an outlook that holds open the possibility that more doors are available to us.

This more doors approach doesn’t fret at the imminent possibility of blessing.

Instead, it waits for the full revelation of God upon the opening of the right door at the right time. This involves much situational patient wisdom. But we can know there are many ways in any present situation that we can enjoy blessing.

When we see more doors open to us than those currently visible—via the spiritual vision of trust—we are less anxious, afraid and bereft of hope, and we are more content to wait. There are more doors opening to us than we realise. This is an eternal fact.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: Corinthian Doors.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The 3 Imperatives of Courage

Kingly virtue separates the happy, successful and thankful from the also-ran in each of us that runs in fear when challenge springs its inevitable surprise. Courage is the panacea making life better than a dream.

There are at least three imperatives facilitating courage:

1. Seek Truth

Our first task on the journey to courage is to seek truth—that is, to be rigidly committed to finding and adhering to it.

This may not be easy other than to decide and act that way with no correspondence (with ourselves or influential others to the contrary) to be entered into. Wisdom, however, must always temper truth allowing love to season the truth in pleasantness if it can be afforded.

When we deal at truth we remove many unnecessary complexities; variables that have the nature of convoluting life, engendering fear, commonly through anxiety, worry or even aggressive emotion. Such complexities cloud our thinking and feeling.

Seeking truth is objectivity and the removal of bias, particularly self-bias. We underestimate just how self-protected we are, or how much we bend truth to suit our circumstances and personalities. Truth, as Jesus said, will set us free (John 8:32).

2. Know What to Fear And How to Handle It

Courage is not experienced despite fear; it is experienced because of fear. Fear is a necessary component in the expression of courage.

It is a vast wisdom to know what to fear and how to handle it. We see, here, that wisdom is both a complement and a supplement to courage.

There are two components to this imperative: knowledge regarding what is appropriate to be feared, and the skill to be able to handle those fears (implicitly, in courage). Truth, as we covered above, is prerequisite. Without the ability to discern the truth we have little chance of discerning right fear from wrong.

When we have both the knowledge and skill required to negotiate appropriate fear we have the capacity to deal with every situation life can throw at us.

3. Resolve to Be (Always) Decisively Courageous

Having the God-blessed ability to seek truth and to know what to fear and how to handle it provides the platform for deciding for courage.

Resilience is implied by this third imperative. There will be many temptations to submit in the wrong sort of fear; in truth, it will be a constant threat and we might be given to frequent buckling. Resilience, however, sees to it that we don’t ultimately give up.

Resolve makes undeniably sure that each moment is blessed by the new belief; the commitment of courage. It is faithfulness beyond compromise.


Courage is made possible when we seek truth, know what to fear and how to handle it, and when we have the resolve to be decisively courageous in the moment.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.