Dreaming


In one of my Psychology Tutorials last week we were discussing nightmares and night terrors and how to treat people with them.
One thing our tutor said was that they have no idea of how dreaming happens, nightmares and the like occur because of previous trauma or stress or something like that.
But the dreams where you just create things or strange things happen, they have no explanation for.
I was thinking into it more this morning, I’m happy to just accept it as God’s way of entertaining our brain while we recharge for the next day. Just a thought

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Service in a World that Looks after Number One

The Selfish Society

This is the second installment in a series inspired by “Distinctives” by Vaughan Roberts. The headings are the titles of his chapters. So that’s where you can read more about what I write about in this series.

How do you put your life in perspective?
For me, one of the most significant and confounding events that always puts my thoughts and goals. desires and plans into perspective is a funeral.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a funeral, particularly of someone close to you. If you have, you’ll know what I mean when I say you can’t help but think: ‘That’ll be me someday.’ My mind always wonders how I will be remembered. Who will remember me? Whether my death would make a significant impact on society. Even if it does, I won’t even know about it.

How do you live in light of such an unavoidable destiny? Most people say, live life to the full regardless of consequence. I have to make the best I can for myself, make a name for myself, leave a legacy. But doesn’t death remind you that everything you do, gain, earn, all your money, your great car, your amazing career and your huge house get left behind? Is life in vain then?

The buzz words of today’s society are along the lines of self fulfillment, self-esteem, self-worth, be true to yourself, fulfill your potential, do what you want, be what you want…Why do I think this kind of philosophy is wrong, or dare I say, sinful?

 32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

The Request of James and John

 35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

   36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

   38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

 39 “We can,” they answered.

   Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

 41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 – Mark 10:32-45

This is an excerpt from one of Jesus’ biographies, written by his disciple Mark. Let me give you some context for the passage. Jesus and his disciples are heading to Jerusalem. If you read further in Mark it is there that Jesus dies. So I guess, I’m giving you a little insight into the future. But the disciples already know this! How? Jesus told them plain and clear:

 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

Jesus is marching towards his own murder, he is about to perform the most selfless, self sacrificial act in history.

In view of this, how can you dismiss the utter selfishness of John and James’ request? They are in full knowledge of what is about to happen. The nature of their request indicates that they know that Jesus is the son of man, that he is the Messiah that has been sent to save them from sin, surely they would know better.

But they’ve misunderstood the consequences. They have decided to take the opportunity before Jesus does his sacrifice thing to rub their little lamps and get their wishes granted.

 35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

   36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

James and John are asking for a personal glory. They want to prestige, power and glory that Jesus will receive once he’s done all the dirty work. How completely and totally inappropriate in light of Jesus’ upcoming actions! They request a position of authority and fame from which they can look down on people with pride.

The thing with selfishness is, you can see its ugliness in other people, but we find it hard to see it in ourselves.We’re all contaminated with the same poison, we’re all selfish.

Here, on the way to his voluntary humiliation and sacrifice for the very people who reject and ignore and who eventually kill him for his revolutionary ideas, Jesus redefines greatness.

42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus shifts the goal of humanity:
If you want to share in my glory. Serve.
If you want a place in my kingdom. Serve
If you want to live wisely. Serve.
If you want to live right. Serve
If you want to follow me. Serve.

However, Jesus is not demanding a life of service that he hasn’t already given for you. It doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? Jesus has power, prestige and glory yet he came to serve. He washed his disciples feet instead of them washing his. He chose to ride on a donkey when he deserved a chariot, to wear a crown of thorns instead of jewels, to hang naked, beaten and humiliated on the cross instead of on his throne in heaven.

“Jesus, very nature God, did not grasp hold of his place on the throne. But took on the nature of a servant made himself nothing, born as a man.’

So what now? Well, for Christians this means we are saved from sin and saved for service. Jesus didn’t just die, he was raised from the dead. Christians have a living model of how to live. Each day everyone has the choice of how they want to live. Selfishly or in service.

You can choose to be self-centred or other person centred. You can choose to look great in your own eyes or in God’s eyes. No one’s making you do anything, it’s all up to you. But what will you base your decisions on? What will matter in the end? How long you’re remembered? How many people attend your funeral? Your list of assets and achievements?

“Only one life it will soon be passed,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

What Jesus came and did, redefined greatness.

Is there anything out there?

See that little dot in the middle of the stream of light, well that's Earth. This image always takes my breath away.

Imagine a group of people were born and raised in a room, to know of only what is in the room. I know this is an impossible phemonenon to create but just go with me on this so you can understand the point I’m making.
One day, inside this room a heated discussion breaks out.
Anna has just released the conclusion of her exploration. She had been measuring and analysing and recording data about the washing machine and the complexity of its five cycle wash. She had revealed to the others that, the washing machine, in all its complexity, must be an indication that there is something outside the room that created it. She doesn’t know what just yet, but there has to be something.
Ben jumps in accusing Anna of her blindness.
“Are you blind to reality? All your concepts and assumptions are so up in the air! My mother taught me since I was a child that out there giants and pixi’s are at war. The giants captured us in this room and the pixi’s are trying to free us. How can you be so ignorant of what has been passed down?”
At this point Brittany points out the flaw in Ben’s philosophies.
“Who told you there were fairies? Are you sure your mother isn’t insane and just made that all up. She’s twisted the truth that there are only giants, there is no such thing as ‘fairies’.
“And, on top of that, the giants don’t care about us, they live their own lives up there ignorant of ours in here. But soon enough they’ll know we’re here because there’s meant to be an earthquake sometime soon that breaks open this room and releases us into their world.”
Belinda laughed. “I’ve never heard such crap. If there was something out there we’d know, and we don’t know therefore it doesn’t exit. Sure you can guess but to be honest, that washing machine has a complex five cycles but that’s just that way it happened. There had never been and never will be anything outside this room.”
Belinda’s contempt for Anna, Ben and Brittany’s primitive faith ignited Matt’s desire for peace.
“I like to think there is something out there. But when I close my eyes I prefer to imagine kind green coloured people, just like us, not giants. Giants are far too intimdating and powerful. Friendly green people that’s what I like to believe. Let’s just all let each other believe what we want, construct your own view, I’ll still tolerant of you.”

Now, think about this, if I told you:
Anna is representative of the Agnostic view, that there is something out there but if confined to the assumptions she can make from her observations. Only what is true and solid is that based on strict scientific observation and everything else is speculation. There may be a God but there may not be
Ben, Brittany and Belinda represent believers. All of different faiths. Belinda is an athiest, she believes that there is no God. However, all three of these views are becoming less and less popular because they are objective views that don’t allow any room for other beliefs, either your right and believe what they think or your wrong. But they are so arragant and their views are based on assumptions and information passed down. How can they speak with such confidence about things they have never seen?
And finally, there is Matt, he’s the mystic of the story. Matt’s religion fits comfortably nto his life and is altered everytime he feels the need. This kind of belief is based upon feelings, personal experience and intuition. This probably sounds really attractive to you. Finally, a belief that works with me! The popular idea that everyone has their own ‘truth’, you can have your ‘truth’ and I’ll have mine. It doesn’t matter if their different because everyone is entitled to their own construction of the ‘truth’.
But look closely at Matt’s ideas and observations. He has noticed that most agnostics live like athiests and so he feels a need for a personal spirituality and invent his own.
Do any of these characters relate to you?
Have you heard of Relativism? Relativism is what most people live by regardless of whether they understand it or not. It is founded on the idea that there is no real ‘truth’, all we can do is guess about what’s out there. We’re trapped in this material world and it is all we know.
Just look at the lyrics of this Boyzone song:

“No matter what they tell you; no matter what they say; no mater what they teach you; what you believe is true.”

What do you construct ‘truth’ on? What is your ‘truth’?
So back to my story, these people, with all their conflicting and inventive beliefs are trapped in this room. How can they come to a decision or a conclusion about what’s out there if they can’t get out?
What if someone were to come into the room? Would that not give them the little piece of information to fill in that gaping hole in their knowledge? Would it give them ‘certain knowledge’ if someone from the outside came in and told them all about the outside of the room?
This is the great claim of Christianity. Christianity claims to be different from the other religions, to be unique amongst other claims. If you look closely at other religions and beliefs, they are all attempts by man to reach God.

‘They begin in the closed room of human existence and, as a result, they cannot be more than speculation. But Chrisianity begins not on earth, but in heaven; not with humanity, but with God.” – Distinctives, Vaughan Roberts.

In Christianity, God has taken the iniative to reveal himself to man. Jesus is ‘the man from the outside’ who can tell us with an authority we don’t have, about what we could never have discovered on our own.
Jesus is not bound by our world or by our time. He is the eternal Word of God.