Make friends with people who want the best for you

This is the 3rd chapter of Jordan Peterson’s book and is about not casting your pearls before swine.

Peterson’s challenge is that I need to be more honest about why I help people and what that help achieves. Not something we often do, not something we encourage others to do. Sometimes we must be more honest in admitting helping is beyond us.

As Peterson says on motives

If I stay in an unhealthy relationship with you, perhaps it’s because I’m too weak-willed and indecisive to leave, but I don’t want to know it. Thus, I continue helping you, and console myself with my pointless martyrdom.

If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn’t recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friend for yourself?

On recognising helping might be beyond us or ineffective

Before you help someone, you should find out why that person is in trouble. You shouldn’t merely assume that he or she is a noble victim of unjust circumstances and exploitation. It’s the most unlikely explanation, not the most probable.

I am not saying that there is no hope of redemption. But it is much harder to extract someone from a chasm than to lift him from a ditch. And some chasms are very deep. And there’s not much left of the body at the bottom. Maybe I should at least wait, to help you, until it’s clear that you want to be helped.

The way forward…….

It’s a good thing, not a selfish thing, to choose people who are good for you. It’s appropriate and praiseworthy to associate with people whose lives would be improved if they saw your life improve.

Don’t think that it is easier to surround yourself with good healthy people than with bad unhealthy people. It’s not. A good, healthy person is an ideal. It requires strength and daring to stand up near such a person. Have some humility. Have some courage. Use your judgment, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity. Make friends with people who want the best for you.

I have not heard these thoughts expressed so clearly. They are challenging, Peterson obviously realises this. His answer.

But Christ himself, you might object, befriended tax-collectors and prostitutes. How dare I cast aspersions on the motives of those who are trying to help? But Christ was the archetypal perfect man. And you’re you. How do you know that your attempts to pull someone up won’t instead bring them – or you – further down?

Written by Tony Thompson

Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

posted in: In The News, Tony Thompson | 0

This is a summary of chapter 2 of Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life in which he explains why, people are better at filling and properly administering prescription medication to their pets than to themselves.

It is difficult to conclude anything from this set of facts except that people appear to love their dogs, cats, ferrets and birds (and maybe even their lizards) more than themselves.

No one is more familiar than you with all the ways your mind and body are flawed. No one has more reason to hold you in contempt, to see you as pathetic—and by withholding something that might do you good, you can punish yourself for all your failings. A dog, a harmless, innocent, unselfconscious dog, is clearly more deserving.

Unlike us, predators have no comprehension of their fundamental weakness, their fundamental vulnerability, their own subjugation to pain and death. But we know exactly how and where we can be hurt, and why. That is as good a definition as any of self-consciousness.

Only man could conceive of the rack, the iron maiden and the thumbscrew. Only man will inflict suffering for the sake of suffering. That is the best definition of evil I have been able to formulate. Animals can’t manage that, but humans, with their excruciating, semi-divine capacities, most certainly can.

So, here’s a proposition: perhaps it is not simply the emergence of self-consciousness and the rise of our moral knowledge of Death and the Fall that besets us and makes us doubt our own worth. Perhaps it is instead our unwillingness—reflected in Adam’s shamed hiding—to walk with God, despite our fragility and propensity for evil.

But Christ’s archetypal death exists as an example of how to accept finitude, betrayal and tyranny heroically—how to walk with God despite the tragedy of self-conscious knowledge—and not as a directive to victimize ourselves in the service of others. To sacrifice ourselves to God (to the highest good, if you like) does not mean to suffer silently and willingly when some person or organization demands more from us, consistently, than is offered in return. That means we are supporting tyranny, and allowing ourselves to be treated like slaves. It is not virtuous to be victimized by a bully, even if that bully is oneself.

The solution – Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

Written by Tony Thompson

Catalyst Festival: Reflections on the presence of God

posted in: Events, Tony Thompson | 1

The presence of God is always with us, we cannot flee or escape from His presence even if we wanted to! Psalm 139v7. However, we sometimes are more aware of His presence than at other times.

I have been intensely aware of His presence when I have been alone and when I am with a company of God’s people. I have been aware of His presence in the quiet place and in very noisy praise. I have been aware of His presence when listening to the Bible being expounded and in worship. I have been aware of His presence in a church building and in the country being overwhelmed by the beauty of what God has made. I have been aware of His presence in an Anglican Church, a Baptist Church, a Methodist Church and in a New Church. In short, I (and I guess you) am aware of God’s presence in a great variety of ways.

I am also aware that temperamentally some of us more often experience the presence of God in one way more than another. This was brought home to me in discussions with numbers of people from different churches at the Catalyst Festival where it would seem people experienced the presence of God in different ways. Some had a very special experience of the presence of God through the ministry of Heidi Baker, others did not. Some had a special experience of the presence of God when Glen Scrivener expounded God’s word, others did not. For others the presence of God was experienced through spending time with church family over three days and experiencing close fellowship in a special way.

This is what I would expect and is surely to be applauded and encouraged. What causes a problem is when we exalt our experience of the presence of God over someone else’s or consider our experience of the presence of God to be inferior to someone else’s. This was in danger of becoming divisive.

As Heidi Baker said, there is an emergence of convergence. This included a convergence of different temperaments that are more likely to experience the presence of God in a variety of ways. Let us ensure we don’t allow divisiveness to creep in by unhelpfully exalting one experience over another, rather valuing all.

Written by Tony Thompson

Personal reflections on Catalyst Festival 2018 – Raising world changers

posted in: Events, Kristina Druce, Prayer | 6

A great time was had by all this weekend at Stoneleigh Park. A time for families and friends to come together, enjoying fellowship and giving worship and praise to God.

I spent my mornings serving the children, we had one hundred and eighty, four year old children to entertain in flames. Some may think anyone who would volunteer for this must have gone mad but honestly these children were a true blessing to all who served.

We looked at Act 1 v 8 as well as playing many different games, crafts, singing songs and dancing. The children had so much fun learning the actions to go alongside the verse they learned which was “When the Holy Spirit fills you He gives you His power to tell Jesus to all of the world.” It was wonderful to feel God’s presence moving in the room amongst us and to see the children hold their hands out to Him in thanks and praise.

A microphone was sent around and the children were asked what they had felt, seen or heard God saying to them individually. The answers were incredible. Some children were given an image or a vision and some had a specific country come to mind that God will send them to in the future. Some children experienced heat rising up throughout them and some felt tingly sensations go through them whilst others said plainly “I felt Jesus.” And another girl said “I felt God.” As simple as that. Some spoke in tongues and others became overwhelmed with emotion.

Witnessing this was an important reminder to me that God speaks to us all in different ways at different times and that He has an equal measure of love for all; never favouring one over the other but blessing us all individually.

When the Holy Spirit fills you with this power it is not power in the sense of physical force it actually means “ability” or “capacity.” So this power that the Holy Spirit provides is actually new abilities we need to carry the gospel forward.

My afternoons were spent enjoying family time, eating together, playing card games and going to seminars. I visited the “Think” tent to hear Martin and Mimi Clay talk about living with pain in a broken world. They bravely shared their experience of multiple sclerosis and how God has helped them through their struggles, they were both so inspiring. God has done amazing things in their lives and they have remained faithful to Him through all circumstances.

I enjoyed the seminars in the politics zone which were “How to get involved” with Richard Wightman and “What could we do that we aren’t doing” with Andy Flannagan the Executive Director of Christians in politics. I could really feel the spirit in both these seminars prompting me to get involved. It was so strong at one point when Andy was talking about journalist’s and their influence that I had tears pouring out of me. That could be hard for some to understand but for me this is how God most often speaks to me. As a child it was my dream to write and be a reporter/journalist and this was God’s way of reminding me that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

The evening meetings were an amazing way to end the day. The atmosphere of every one coming together to give thanks to God is so powerful and it delights Him no end. David Devenish preached the final meeting bringing Catalyst festival to a close. He really put an emphasis on the small things we do and how it really does make a difference even if you are not there to witness the benefits yourself. David preached the parable of the mustard seed which although is the smallest of all seeds when it is planted into the ground it flourishes and becomes the largest of tree’s. Dave has certainly inspired me to keep pushing on, to serve others and to spread Jesus’ mighty name to all people. Let’s keep sowing seeds!

 

Written by Kristina Druce

Watch a video of Highlights of the weekend below.

Stand up straight with your shoulders back – Jordan Peterson

For the last number of months, a book written by a Christian has been in the best sellers list. 12 rules for life by Jordan Peterson is well worth reading, I have found it tremendously helpful and strongly recommend it. However, it is a long book and I am aware that few will read the book, so I will be posting a few of my highlights over the coming weeks.

The first chapter is long but was one of the most helpful.

The basic premise is that all life, from lobsters to humans, has adapted to its environment to produce a dominance hierarchy. Chicken’s have a pecking order, cows know their position in the milking queue, humans know where they fit in the hierarchy. Lobsters are the extreme example according to Peterson and he goes into great depth about how their hierarchy is formed. This hierarchy matters for us and for lobsters.

If you’re at the bottom of the dominance hierarchy – as either lobster or human – life is harder on you. Low status lobsters and humans produce less serotonin. “Low serotonin means decreased confidence. Low serotonin means more response to stress and costlier physical preparedness for emergency…higher serotonin levels…are characterized by less illness, misery and death.

He powerfully describes the problems of being at the lower levels of the hierarchy and the challenges of moving from it.

If you are a low-status ……. male or female, you have nowhere to live (or nowhere good). Your food is terrible, when you’re not going hungry. You’re in poor physical and mental condition. You’re of minimal romantic interest to anyone, unless they are as desperate as you. You are more likely to fall ill, age rapidly, and die young, with few, if any, to mourn you. Even money itself may prove of little use. You won’t know how to use it, because it is difficult to use money properly, particularly if you are unfamiliar with it. Money will make you liable to the dangerous temptations of drugs and alcohol, which are much more rewarding if you have been deprived of pleasure for a long period. Money will also make you a target for predators and psychopaths, who thrive on exploiting those who exist on the lower rungs of society. The bottom of the dominance hierarchy is a terrible, dangerous place to be.

It is therefore important to produce more serotonin and move up the hierarchy. He gives practical suggestions.

Look at your sleep……………..

I always ask my clinical clients first about sleep. Do they wake up in the morning at approximately the time the typical person wakes up, and at the same time every day? If the answer is no, fixing that is the first thing I recommend. It doesn’t matter so much if they go to bed at the same time each evening, but waking up at a consistent hour is a necessity.

But not just your sleep. Act and think as if you are at the top of the hierarchy, that produces more serotonin.

So, attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them—at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous. Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully through the neural pathways desperate for its calming influence.

I have been trying to put this into practice! So, when you find me speaking my mind you know what I am doing! Do the same yourself……..

Written by Tony Thompson

Introducing Jordan Peterson

It is very unusual for a book written by a Christian to be in the best sellers list, that is the case with Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life. Peterson is a clinical psychologist who lectures in a Canadian University and runs a private clinic. He is also a Christian.

I have just read his book and found it very helpful, I am not surprised that it is popular. He presents profound Christian views in a stimulating and accessible way. Over the next few weeks I will summarise some of the things from the book. As an introduction you might like to watch / listen to this channel 4 interview with Jordan Peterson on the crisis in masculinity, the gender pay gap, campus protests and postmodernism, based on the book.

It is long, around 30 minutes, but worth the time. If you just want a highlight, try 22 minutes in.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

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