Jordan Peterson Rule # 6 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson Chapter 6 Sermon Notes

Chapter Title: Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World

He is going to get to this piece of advice via the Columbine killers and a suicidal Tolstoy. Is life meaningless? His answer is to not go there and instead “Set your house in perfect order” by starting small and continuing to make your life contribute to the greater good at a greater and greater level.

Here are some quotes:

“But these murderous individuals had a problem with reality that existed at a religious depth. As one of the members of the Columbine duo wrote: ‘The human race isn’t worth fighting for, only worth killing. Give the Earth back to the animals. They deserve it infinitely more than we do. Nothing means anything anymore.’ People who think such things view Being itself as inequitable and harsh to the point of corruption, and human Being, in particular, as contemptible. They appoint themselves supreme adjudicators of reality and find it wanting. They are the ultimate critics. The deeply cynical writer continues: ‘If you recall your history, the Nazis came up with a “final solution” to the Jewish problem…Kill them all. Well, in case you haven’t figured it out, I say “KILL MANKIND.” No one should survive.’ For such individuals, the world of experience is insufficient and evil—so to hell with everything!”

“A great German play, Faust: A Tragedy, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, addresses that issue. The play’s main character, a scholar named Heinrich Faust, trades his immortal soul to the devil, Mephistopheles. In return, he receives whatever he desires while still alive on Earth. In Goethe’s play, Mephistopheles is the eternal adversary of Being. He has a central, defining credo: ‘I am the spirit who negates and rightly so, for all that comes to be deserves to perish, wretchedly. It were better nothing would begin! Thus everything that your terms sin, destruction, evil represent—that is my proper element.’”

“Whenever we experience injustice, real or imagined; whenever we encounter tragedy or fall prey to the machinations of others; whenever we experience the horror and pain of our own apparently arbitrary limitations—the temptation to question Being and then to curse it rises foully from the darkness. Why must innocent people suffer so terribly? What kind of bloody, horrible planet is this, anyway?”

“In the final analysis, we do not appear to be the architects of our own fragility. Whose fault is it, then?”

“People who are very ill (or, worse, who have a sick child) will inevitably find themselves asking this question, whether they are religious believers or not. The same is true of someone who finds his shirtsleeve caught in the gears of a giant bureaucracy—who is suffering through a tax audit or fighting an interminable lawsuit or divorce. And it’s not only the obviously suffering who are tormented by the need to blame someone or something for the intolerable state of their Being. At the height of his fame, influence and creative power, for example, the towering Leo Tolstoy himself began to question the value of human existence. He reasoned in this way: ‘My position was terrible. I knew that I could find nothing in the way of rational knowledge except a denial of life; and in faith I could find nothing except a denial of reason, and this was even more impossible than a denial of life. According to rational knowledge, it followed that life is evil, and people know it. They do not have to live, yet they have lived and they do live, just as I myself had lived, even though I had known for a long time that life is meaningless and evil.’”

“Tolstoy wasn’t pessimistic enough. The stupidity of the joke being played on us does not merely motivate suicide. It motivates murder—mass murder, often followed by suicide. That is a far more effective existential protest. By June of 2016, unbelievable as it may seem there had been one thousand mass killings (defined as four or more people shot in a single incident, excluding the shooter) in the US in twelve hundred and sixty days. That’s one such event of five of every six days for more than three years. Everyone says, ‘We don’t understand.’ How can we still pretend that? Tolstoy understood, more than a century ago. The ancient authors of the biblical story of Cain and Abel understood, as well, more that twenty centuries ago. They described murder as the first act of post-Edenic history: and not just murder, but fratricidal murder—murder not only of someone innocent but of someone ideal and good, and murder done consciously to spite the creator of the universe. Today’s killers tell us the same thing, in their own words.”

“The name of the target changes, but the underlying psychology remains constant. Why? Why is there so much suffering and cruelty? Well, perhaps it really is God’s doing—or the fault of blind, pointless fate, if you are inclined to think that way. And there appears to be every reason to think that way. But, what happens if you do? Mass murderers believe that the suffering attendant upon existence justifies judgment and revenge, as the Columbine boys so clearly indicated: ‘I will sooner die than betray my own thoughts. Before I leave this worthless place, I will kill who ever I deem unfit for anything, especially life. If you pissed me off in the past, you will die if I see you. You might be able to piss off others, and have it eventually all blow over, but not me. I don’t forget people who wronged me.’”

“One of the most vengeful murderers of the twentieth century, the terrible Carl Panzram…Panzram’s response was (and this is what was so terrible) perfectly understandable. The details of his autobiography reveal that he was one of Tolstoy’s strong and logically consistent people. He was a powerful, consistent, fearless actor. He had the courage of his convictions. How could someone like him be expected to forgive and forget, given what had happened to him? Truly terrible things happen to people. It’s no wonder they’re out for revenge. Under such conditions vengeance seems a moral necessity. How can it be distinguished from the demand for justice? After the experience of terrible atrocity, isn’t forgiveness just cowardice, or lack of willpower? Such questions torment me. But people emerge from terrible pasts to do good, and not evil, although such an accomplishment can seem superhuman.”

“Instead of widening the tear in the cultural fabric she inherited, and transmitting it, she sewed it up. She rejected the sins of her forefathers. Such things can be done. ‘Distress, whether psychic, physical, or intellectual, need not at all produce nihilism (that is, the radical rejection of value, meaning and desirability). Such distress always permits a variety of interpretations.’ Nietzsche wrote those words. What he meant was this: people who experience evil may certainly desire to perpetuate it, to pay it forward. But it is also possible to learn good by experiencing evil.”

“Many, perhaps even most, of the adults who abuse children were abused themselves as children. However, the majority of people who were abused as children do not abuse their own children. This is a well-established fact, which can be demonstrated, simply, arithmetically, in this way: if one parent abused three children, and each of those children had three children, and so on, then there would be three abusers the first generation, nine the second, twenty-seven the third, eighty-one the fourth—and so on exponentially. After twenty generations, more than ten billion would have suffered childhood abuse: more people than currently inhabit the planet. But instead, abuse disappears across generations. People constrain its spread. That’s a testament to the genuine dominance of good over evil in the human heart.”

“The desire for vengeance, however justified, also bars the way to other productive thoughts.”

“Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had every reason to question the structure of existence when he was imprisoned in a Soviet labor camp, in the middle of the terrible twentieth century. He had served as a soldier on the ill-prepared Russian front lines in the face of a Nazi invasion. He had been arrested, beaten and thrown into prison by his own people. Then he was struck by cancer. He could have become resentful and bitter.”

“But the great writer, the profound, spirited defender of truth, did not allow his mind to turn towards vengeance and destruction. He opened his eyes, instead. During his many trials, Solzhenitsyn encountered people wo comported themselves nobly, under horrific circumstances. He contemplated their behavior deeply. Then he asked himself the most difficult of question: had he personally contributed to the catastrophe of his life? If so, how? He remembered his unquestioning support of the Communist Party in his early years. He reconsidered his whole life. He had plenty of time in the camps. How had he missed the mark, in the past? How many times had he acted against his own conscience, engaging in actions that he knew to be wrong? How many times had he betrayed himself, and lied? Was there any way that the sins of his past could be rectified, atoned for, in the muddy hell of a Soviet gulag?”

“Solzhenitsyn pored over the details of his life, with a fine-toothed comb. He asked himself a second question, and a third. Can I stop making such mistakes, now? Can I repair the damage done by my past failures, now? He learned to watch and to listen. He found people he admired; who were honest, despite everything. He took himself apart, piece by piece, let what was unnecessary and harmful die, and resurrected himself. Then he wrote The Gulag Archipelago, a history of the Soviet prison camp system. It’s a forceful, terrible book, written with the overwhelming moral force of unvarnished truth. Its sheer outrage screamed unbearably across hundreds of pages. Banned (and for good reason) in the USSR, it was smuggled to the West in the 1950s, and burst upon the world. Solzhenitsyn’s writing utterly and finally demolished the intellectual credibility of communism, as ideology or society.”

“The Hebrews repent, at length, blaming their misfortune on their own failure to adhere to God’s word. They insist to themselves that they could have done better. They rebuild their state, and the cycle begins again. This is life. We build structures to live in. We build families, and states, and countries. We abstract the principles upon which those structures are founded and formulate systems of belief…But success makes us complacent. We forget to pay attention. We take what we have for granted. We turn a blind eye. We fail to notice things are changing, or that corruption is taking root. And everything falls apart. Is that the fault of reality—of God? Or do things fall apart because we have not paid sufficient attention?”

“If you are suffering—well, that’s the norm. People are limited and life is tragic. If your suffering is unbearable, however, and you are starting to become corrupted, here’s something to think about.”

 

So the dilemma is injustice and meaningless in life and how that knowledge can take away our will to live meaningful lives. He used the mechanics of Solzhenitsyn’s examination of his own life to bring a healing and then a heroic action. He doesn’t mention Solzhenitsyn’s Christian faith. So let’s look at his conclusion.

 

“Consider your circumstances. Start small. Have you taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to to you? Are you working hard on your career, or even your job. Or are you letting bitterness and resentment hold you back and drag you down? Have you made peace with your brother? Are you treating your spouse and your children with dignity and respect? Do you have habits that are destroying your health and well-being? Are you truly shouldering your responsibilities? Have you said what you need to say to your friends and family members? Are there things that you could do, that you know you could do, that would make things around you better? Have you cleaned up your life?”

“If the answer is no, here’s something to try: Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong. Start stopping today.”

“So, simply stop, when you apprehend, however dimly, that you should stop. Stop acting in that particular, despicable manner. Stop saying those things that make you weak and ashamed. Say only those things that make you strong. Do only those things that could speak of with honor.”

“Your experience will improve, as you stop distorting it with inauthentic actions. You will then begin to discover new, more subtle things that you are doing wrong. Stop doing those, too. After some months and years of diligent effort, your life will become simpler and less complicated. Your judgment will improve. You will untangle your past. You will become stronger and less bitter. You will move more confidently into the future. You will stop making your life unnecessarily difficult. You will then be left with the inevitable bare tragedies of life, but they will no longer be compounded with bitterness and deceit.”

“Maybe your anxiety, and hopelessness, and resentment, and anger—however murderous, initially—will recede. Perhaps your uncorrupted soul will then see its existence as a genuine good, as something to celebrate, even in the face of your own vulnerability. Perhaps you will become an ever-more-powerful force of peace and whatever is good.”

“Perhaps you will then see that if all people did this, in their own lives, the world might stop being an evil place. After that, with continued effort, perhaps it could even stop being a tragic place. Who knows what existence might be like if we all decided to strive for the best? Who knows what eternal heavens might be established by our spirits, purified by truth, aiming skyward, right here on the fallen Earth?”

“Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”

 

Sermon

I remember wrestling with the meaning of life without God and heavy doses of drugs. One of my conclusions came from watching my uncle repair a latch to a gate. The answer was not to find the answer but to keep yourself busy, so you did not have to wrestle with the meaning of life. Of course, staying productively busy requires self-discipline and focus. So get your act together so you can stay productively busy and help save the world from itself. I think that was the point of the chapter.

Text: 1 Cor 15:32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

  1. The Examination

Peterson gave us Solzhenitsyn as an example to follow, minus his conversion. The idea was that as he wrestled with the “why’s” of life he examined himself and thus corrected and purified himself and because of that process strike a blow for justice with his writings.

How can anyone wrestle with the meaning of life and not at one point or another consider God? It seems that the towering intellects of Tolstoy and Nietzsche are able to easily rationalize God away; but I am not so sure the rest of humanity is able to so easily toss God out the boat. One of the building blocks that allowed modern man to rationalize away God was the theory of evolution. Even Peterson leans on it for his rationalization of “Being” without the reality of God. Evolution has proven to be quite the flimsy foundation to build anything on. Nietzsche’s statement: “God is dead” is always associated with the coming totalitarian blights on humanity that he predicted would follow God’s death by Christian thinkers as evidence as to what happens when God is dead to the human heart. Easy to point out that none of our mass killers are building their lives upon the foundation of biblical beliefs and faith in God.

The bible gives us two books where we see the example of Solzhenitsyn takes place: Job and Ecclesiastes.

Job is suffering. His suffering is compounded by his friends. They want to help him discover the sin that has led to his suffering. This is unfair. He has played by the rules and has worshipped God. Yet, he suffers. He is forced to go through an examination process.

Job 3:1-3 After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.  2 And Job spoke, and said: 3 “May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, ‘A male child is conceived.’

It’s him or God: Job 10:1-2 “My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint,I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. 2 I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; Show me why You contend with me.

The conclusion of the matter: Job 38:1-4 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 2 “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? 3 Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.

My point is this: man has wrestled with God forever, even today. The big bang kind of loses its bang when put beside God who is. I know Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn wrestled with God. In the dark moments of life they talked with God.

Solomon, just saying his name in association with the book of Ecclesiastes will cause the rationalist to shut out anything I might say. Anyways, if the rationalist can get past the author, he will see the great struggle of the soul.

Eccl 1:1-3 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” 3 What profit has a man from all his labor In which he toils under the sun?

Eccl 1:13-14 And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Eccl 2:2 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity.

Eccl 2:4-6 I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove.

Eccl 2:10-11 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.There  was no profit under the sun.

Eccl 2:24 Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

He even used the lyrics from a 60’s song: Eccl 3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

Eccl 3:10-13 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. 12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor — it is the gift of God.

Eccl 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.

Eccl 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

  1. So Did We answer the big “Why?”

Here are a few quotes from Solzhenitsyn in his Templeton Address in 1983.

And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.

It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.

It is here that we see the dawn of hope: for no matter how formidably Communism bristles with tanks and rockets, no matter what successes it attains in seizing the planet, it is doomed never to vanquish Christianity.

The West has yet to experience a Communist invasion; religion here remains free. But the West’s own historical evolution has been such that today it too is experiencing a drying up of religious consciousness. It too has witnessed racking schisms, bloody religious wars, and rancor, to say nothing of the tide of secularism that, from the late Middle Ages onward, has progressively inundated the West. This gradual sapping of strength from within is a threat to faith that is perhaps even more dangerous than any attempt to assault religion violently from without.

Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transitional stage in the movement toward something higher, and we must not stumble and fall, nor must we linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder. Material laws alone do not explain our life or give it direction. The laws of physics and physiology will never reveal the indisputable manner in which the Creator constantly, day in and day out, participates in the life of each of us, unfailingly granting us the energy of existence; when this assistance leaves us, we die. And in the life of our entire planet, the Divine Spirit surely moves with no less force: this we must grasp in our dark and terrible hour.

III. Is there not a cause

I am probably getting ahead of where Jordan Peterson wants to take us in future chapters. I wanted to share the above quotes to show that Solzhenitsyn had discovered God in his wrestling. That discovery is what gave him the internal will to communicate to the world, not a better way of living, but a need to re-discover God.

David saw Goliath and said: “Is there not a cause?” Solzhenitsyn saw injustice and said: “Is there not a cause?”. They both pointed to God.

Solomon certainly paints a picture of the simple needs of life and how fulfilling those simple needs is all it takes; but he adds God into the picture.

Let’s sum up Peterson: repent, be converted and grow in grace. Why? Peterson: “the world might stop being an evil place”.

Et least we won’t be mass murderers.

The “why” is similar for Peterson and myself. He to influence this world in a good way; me to influence this world to know God through Jesus.

How far apart are we? Like the man said “Peterson is the gateway drug to salvation”.

Conclusion

Prov 29:18 Where there is no revelation (vision), the people cast off restraint;

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jordan Peterson Rule #5 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson: Rule #5 Sermon Notes

“Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them”

In a nutshell: parents (two better than one) are called to teach and discipline their children to mature and grow in such a way to be properly integrated into society.

Here are the chapter sub titles: ACTUALLY, IT’S NOT OK    EVERYBODY HATES ARITHMETIC   THE IGNOBLE SAVAGE    PARENT OR FRIEND   DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH   MINIMUM NECESSARY FORCE    A SUMMARY OF PRINCIPLES    THE GOOD CHILD—AND THE RESPONSIBLE PARENT   

Quotes: “I have also watched a couple, unable or unwilling to say no to their two-year-old, obliged to follow closely behind him everywhere he went, every moment of what was supposed to be an enjoyable social visit, because he misbehaved so badly when not micro-managed that he could not be given a second of genuine freedom without risk. The desire of his parents to let their child act without correction on every impulse perversely produced precisely the opposite effect: they deprived him instead of every opportunity to engage in independent action. Because they did not dare to teach him what “No” means, he had no conception of the reasonable limits enabling maximal toddler autonomy.”

Man is spending 45 minutes every night to put toddler to sleep: “My client was spending a month and a half of work weeks per year fighting ineffectually and miserably with his son. Needless to say, both were suffering for it. No matter how good your intentions, or how sweet and tolerant your temperament, you will not maintain good relations with someone you fight with for a month and a half of work weeks per year. Resentment will inevitably build. Even if it doesn’t, all that wasted, unpleasant time could clearly be spent in more productive and useful and less stressful and more enjoyable activity. How are such situations to be understood? Where does the fault lie, in child or in parent? In nature or society? And what, if anything, is to be done?”

“Was it really a good thing, for example, to so dramatically liberalize the divorce laws in the 1960s? It’s not clear to me that the children whose lives were destabilized by the hypothetical freedom this attempt at liberation introduced would say so. Horror and terror lurk behind the walls provided so wisely by our ancestors. We tear then down at our peril.”

“I see today’s parents as terrified by their children, not least because they have been deemed the proximal agents of this hypothetical social tyranny, and simultaneously denied credit for their role as benevolent and necessary agents of discipline, order and conventionality.”

“The belief that children have an intrinsically unsullied spirit, damaged only by culture and society, is derived in no small part from the eighteenth-century Genevan French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau was a fervent believer in the corrupting influence of human society and private ownership alike. He claimed that nothing was so gentle and wonderful as man in his pre-civilized state. At precisely the same time, noting his inability as a father, he abandoned five of his children to the tender and fatal mercies of the orphanages of the time.”

“Because children, like other human beings, are not only good, they cannot simply be left to their own devices, untouched by society, and bloom into perfection. Even dogs must be socialized if they are to become acceptable members of the pack—and children are much more complex than dogs. This means that they are much more likely to go complexly astray if they are not trained, disciplined and properly encouraged.”

“The neglect and mistreatment that is part and parcel of poorly structured or even entirely absent disciplinary approaches can be deliberate—motivated by explicit, conscious (if misguided) parental motives. But more often than not, modern parents are simply paralyzed by the fear that they will not longer be liked or even loved by their children if they chastise them for any reason. They want their children’s friendship above all, and are willing to sacrifice respect to get it. This is not good.”

“Parents are arbiters of society. They teach children how to behave so that other people will be able to interact meaningfully and productively with them.”

“It is an act of responsibility to discipline a child. It is not anger at misbehavior. It is not revenge for a misdeed. It is instead a careful combination of mercy and long-term judgment. Proper discipline requires effort—indeed, is virtually synonymous with effort.”

“Because of this combination of responsibility and difficulty, any suggestion that all constraints placed on children are damaging can be perversely welcome. Such a notion, once accepted, allows adults who should know better to abandon their duty to serve as agents of enculturation and pretend that doing so is good for children. It’s a deep and pernicious act of self-deception. It’s lazy, cruel and inexcusable.”

“Imagine a toddler repeatedly striking his mother in the face. Why would he do such a thing? It’s a stupid question. It’s unacceptably naïve. The answer is obvious. To dominate his mother. To see if he can get away with it. Violence, after all, is no mystery. It’s peace that’s the mystery. Violence is the default. It’s easy. It’s peace that is difficult: learned, inculcated, earned.”

“Consistent correction of such action indicates the limits of acceptable aggression to the child. Its absence merely heightens curiosity—so the child will hit and bite and kick, if he is aggressive and dominant, until something indicates a limit. How hard can I hit Mommy? Until she objects. Given that, correction is better sooner than later (if the desired end result of the parent is not to be hit). Correction also helps the child learn that hitting others is a sub-optimal social strategy. Without that correction, no child is going to undergo the effortful process of organizing and regulating their impulses, so that those impulses can coexist, without conflict, within the psyche of the child, and in the broader social world. It is no simple matter to organize a mind.”

“Modern parents are terrified of two frequently juxtaposed words: discipline and punish. They evoke images of prisons, soldiers and jackboots. The distance between disciplinarian and tyrant or punishment and torture is, indeed, easily traversed. Discipline and punish must be handled with care. The fear is unsurprising. But both are necessary. They can be applied unconsciously or consciously, badly or well, but there is no escaping their use.”

“Skinner knew that threats and punishments could stop unwanted behaviors, just as reward reinforces what is desirable. In a world paralyzed at the thought of interfering with the hypothetically pristine path of natural child development, it can be difficult even to discuss the former techniques. However, children would not have such a lengthy period of natural development, prior to maturity, if their behavior did not have to be shaped.”

“Take the case of the three-year-old who has not learned to share. She displays her selfish behavior in the presence of her parents, but they’re too nice to intervene. More truthfully, they refuse to pay attention, admit to what is happening, and tech her how to act properly. They’re annoyed, of course, when she won’t share with her sister, but they pretend everything is OK. It’s not OK. They’ll snap at her later, for something totally unrelated. She will be hurt by that, and confused, but learn nothing. Worse: when she tries to make friends, it won’t go well, because of her lack of social sophistication.”

“Parents who refuse to adopt the responsibility for disciplining their children think they can just opt out of the conflict necessary for proper child-rearing. They avoid being the bad guy (in the short term). But they do not at all rescue or protect their children from fear and pain. Quite the contrary: the judgmental and uncaring broader social world will mete out conflict and punishment far greater than that which would have been delivered by an awake parent.”

“First, why should a child be subject? That’s easy. Every child must listen to and obey adults because he or she is dependent on the care that one or more imperfect grown-ups is willing to bestow. Given this, it is better for the child to act in a manner that invites genuine affection and goodwill.”

“Every child should also be taught to comply gracefully with the expectations of civil society. This does not mean crushed into mindless ideological conformity. It means instead that parents must reward those attitudes and actions that will bring their child success in the world outside the family, and use threat and punishment when necessary to eliminate behaviours that will lead to misery and failure.”

“Poorly socialized children have terrible lives. Thus, it is better to socialize them optimally. Some of this can be done with reward, but not all of it. The issue is therefore not whether to use punishment and threat. The issue is whether to do it consciously and thoughtfully. How, then, should children be disciplined? This is a very difficult question, because children (and Parents) differ vastly in their temperaments.”

“Here’s a straightforward initial idea: rules should not be multiplied beyond necessity. Alternatively stated, bad laws drive out respect for good laws…So, don’t encumber children—or their disciplinarians==with too many rules. That path leads to frustration. Limit the rules. Then, figure out what to do when one of them gets broken. A general, context-independent rule for punishment severity is hard to establish…English common law allows you to defend your rights, but only in a reasonable manner…So now we have two general principles of discipline. The first: limit the rules. The second: Use the least force necessary to enforce those rules.”

He gives a list of acceptable rules for a child to “be welcomed everywhere”…About the second, equally important principle, your question might be: What is minimum necessary force? This must be established experimentally, starting with the smallest possible intervention. Some children will be turned to stone by a glare. A verbal command will stop another. A thumb-cocked flick of the index finger on a small hand might be necessary for some. Such a strategy is particularly useful in public places such as restaurants. It can be administered suddenly, quietly and effectively, without risking escalation.”

“…you have to discipline your children carefully and effectively-and to do that, you have to know something about reward, and about punishment, instead of shying away from the knowledge. Part of establishing a relationship with your son or daughter is learning how that small person responds to disciplinary intervention—and then intervening effectively. It’s very easy to moth clichés instead, such as: ‘There is no excuse for physical punishment,’ or, ‘Hitting children merely teaches them to hit’”

“What’s the proper punishment for someone who will not stop poking a fork into an electrical socket? Or who runs away laughing in a crowded supermarket parking lot? The answer is simple: whatever will stop it fastest, within reason. Because the alternative could be fatal.”

“The penalties for misbehavior (of the sort that could have been effectively halted in childhood) become increasingly severe as children get older—and it is disproportionately those who remain unsocialized effectively by age four who end up punished explicitly by society in their later youth and early adulthood.”

“To unthinkingly parrot the magic line ‘There is no excuse for physical punishment is also to foster the delusion that teenage devils magically emerge from once innocent little child angels. You’re not doing your child any favors by overlooking any misbehavior (particularly if he or she is temperamentally more aggressive).”

“To hold the ‘no excuse for physical punishment’ theory is also to assume that the word ‘no’ can be effectively uttered to another person in the absence of the threat of punishment…A parent can only say ‘no’ to a child who wants a third piece of cake because he or she is larger, stronger and more capable than the child 9and is additionally backed up in his authority by law and state). What ‘no’ means, in the final analysis, is always ‘If you continue to do that, something you do not like will happen to you.’ Otherwise it means nothing.”

“And what about the idea that ‘hitting a child merely teaches them to hit’? First: No. Wrong. Too simple. For starters, ‘hitting’ is a very unsophisticated word to describe the disciplinary act of an effective parent. If ‘hitting’ accurately described the entire range of physical force, then there would be no difference between rain droplets and atom bombs. Magnitude matters-and so does context, if we’re not being willfully blind and naïve about the issue.”

“Timing, part of context, is also of crucial importance. If you flick your two-year-old with your finger just after he smacks the baby on the head with a wooden block, he will get the connection, and be at least somewhat less willing to smack her again in the future. That seems like a good outcome.”

“So where does all that leave us? With the decision to discipline effectively, or to discipline ineffectively (but never the decision to forgo discipline altogether, because nature and society will punish in a draconian manner whatever errors of childhood behavior remain uncorrected). So here are a few practical hints: time out can be an extremely effective form of punishment, particularly if the misbehaving child is welcome as soon as he controls his temper. An angry child should sit by himself until he calms down.”

“A child can be held carefully but firmly by the upper arms, until he or she stops squirming and pays attention. If that fails, being turned over a parent’s knee might be required For the child who is pushing the limits in a spectacularly inspired way, a swat across the backside can indicate requisite seriousness on the part of a responsible adult.”

“Disciplinary principle 1: Limit the rules. Principle 2: Use minimum necessary force. Here’s a third: parents should come in pairs. Raising young children is demanding and exhausting. Because of this, it’s easy for a parent to make a mistake.”

“Here’s a fourth principle, one that is more particularly psychological: ‘parents should understand their own capacity to be harsh, vengeful, arrogant, resentful, angry and deceitful.’ Very few people set out, consciously, to do a terrible job as father or mother, but bad parenting happens all the time. This is because people have a great capacity for evil, as well as good—and because they remain willfully blind to that fact. People are aggressive and selfish, as well as kind and thoughtful. For this reason, no adult human being—no hierarchical, predatory ape—can truly tolerate being dominated by an upstart child. Revenge will come. Ten minutes after a pair of all-too-nice-and-patient parents have failed to prevent a public tantrum at the local supermarket, they will pay their toddler back with the cold shoulder when he runs up, excited, to show mom and dad his newest accomplishment. Enough embarrassment, disobedience, and dominance challenge, and even the most hypothetically selfless parent will become resentful. And then the real punishment will begin. Resentment breeds the desire for vengeance. Fewer spontaneous offers of love will be offered, with more rationalizations for their absence. Fewer opportunities for the personal development of the child will be sought out. A subtle turning away will begin. And this is only the beginning of the road to total familial warfare, conducted mostly in the underworld, underneath the false façade of normality and love.”

“Beware. There are toxic families everywhere. They make no rules and limit no misbehavior. The parents lash out randomly and unpredictably. The children live in that chaos and are crushed, if they’re timid, or rebel, counterproductively, if they’re tough. It’s not good. It can get murderous.”

“Here’s a fifth and final and most general principle. Parents have a duty to act as proxies for the real world—merciful proxies, caring proxies—but proxies, nonetheless. This obligation supersedes any responsibility to ensure happiness, foster creativity, or boost self-esteem. It is the primary duty of parents to make their children socially desirable.”

“A child who pays attention, instead of drifting, and can play, and does not whine, and is comical, but not annoying, and is trustworthy—that child will have friends wherever he goes. His teachers will like him, and so will his parents. If he attends politely to adults, he will be attended to, smiled at and happily instructed. He will thrive, in what scan so easily be a cold, unforgiving and hostile world. Clear rules make for secure children and calm, rational parents. Clear principles of discipline and punishment balance mercy and justice so that social development and psychological maturity can be optimally promoted. Clear rules and proper discipline help the child, and the family, and society, establish, maintain and expand the order that is all that protects us from chaos and the terrors of the underworld, where everything is uncertain, anxiety-provoking, hopeless and depressing. There are no greater gifts that a committed and courageous parent can bestow.          Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.”

 

I could relate to Peterson in being able to take our family out to restaurants and get compliments from people concerning our three girls as well as airline passengers thanking us for having such well-behaved children. The book that helped us the most was Richard Fugate’s “What the Bible Says about Child Training”.

We have simple rules. Really only one: obey your parents. The punishment matches the crime fairly and justly. Spanking is reserved for rebellion, the child knows exactly what you have asked him to do but refuses to do it.

Well let’s make a child training sermon. His is my basic sermon that I preached as an evangelist.

Seattle Times would have big life section articles about spanking as child abuse. It was tough to miss.

Text: 1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.

Using this text to explain that the spirit of anti-Christ opposes everything of God. “God hates divorce” we chose to make it easy peasy as Peterson pointed out in the chapter. The one issue that gets the most flak from the world is spanking. Peterson gently gets there at the end of his chapter. God says parents should use the rod of correction and the spirit of Anti-Christ wants to put them in jail.

I. Children are a gift from God.

They will be a blessing or a cursing to you.

Prov 23:24 The father of the righteous (you make him righteous) will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him.

Prov 29:17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

What will happen?

Prov 10:1 A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.

Will your children bring you joy or heartache? This answer lies in how parents raise their children.

Parents are responsible to train up children. They are a symbol of God’s authority.

Deut 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

A parent’s job is to control a child, making proper decisions for that child, until that child is capable of making right decisions without your control.

Prov 29:15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

The parent must take action to require his children to obey God’s word which says:

Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

“Obey” means to hear and obey.

The point is that God expects parents to train their children to hear and obey promptly and correctly.

This will require much effort because your child has a sin nature and naturally only wants to do what they want to do.

Eli’s failure: 1 Sam 3:13 because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.

The key word is “consistency”. Consistently enforcing standards that you have taught your children to obey. The #1 standard is to “hear and obey”.

You might be too busy, too lazy, or just aren’t willing to discipline your own life to invest in your child’s life.

Inconsistent action becomes untrustworthy and unfair; making your children having to make judgment calls about how serious you are.

Dangers

Sporadic or non-enforcement of standards.

You train your child to respond to you when you 1) raise your voice 2) count to 3 3) threaten 4) hit out of frustration or anger.

You can train your child to always expect an explanation or train them that if their excuse is good enough you won’t hold them accountable.

Children show respect by obeying you.

Eph 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

It is a battle of the wills. Who will win?

The story has been repeated many times; the parents could not get their children to put on their seat belts on the plane and had to be removed from the plane. Peterson goes into how those humiliated parents will make those children pay in emotionally damaging ways.

God has given us the parental edge: God instructs parents to use the “rod of correction” when their children rebel and refuse to obey.

I would share this story. I am in church. Laura Michelle my walking two year old is getting lots of attention from the kids as she goes in and off the street curb. The kids come tell me. I go out and make it clear that she should not go into the street. She goes out into the street. I spank her. She doesn’t go into the street. I go into the church and watch her from the window. With a crowd of kids following her she walks the curb from one end of the church to the other. It would be a few days later as we are leaving the grocery store and she runs out ahead of us to our screams of stop and she stops as the car goes by.

Prov 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Prov 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Prov 29:15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

You do not use the rod because you are angry, or you want to inflict pain, or you want to punish. The rod is reserved for rebellion.

You use it just to make your child verbally agree to do what you already asked them to do and they refused.

Why?

Because God loves you and your children.

Ex 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Prov 3:1-2 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.

Spanking with the rod is used at the beginnings of your attempts to be in charge.

The idea is that you use the rod on your child to make them obey you as they obey and get older the rod becomes used less and less because your children have been trained to obey you.

By the ages of 11 to 13 you begin to transitioning to the “teaching stage”.

Remember: Deut 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

1) Setting standards, with the why’s of life

2) Rebuke when standards are broken

3) Youth must acknowledge broken standard

4) Forgive

5) Set just punishment (not spanking)

6) Love and fellowship are restored

Once again I borrow liberally from Richard Fugate’s “What the Bible Says about Child Training”.

If you choose to obey God in this area you will bring blessing and honor into your children’s lives.

Conclusion

John 10:10 The thief (the spirit of anti-Christ) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jordan Peterson Chapter 4 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson Rule 4

“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”

I couldn’t help thinking about Bill Murray in “What About Bob” while I read the chapter because Bob’s therapist recommended taking “baby steps” to help Bob overcome his difficulties.

I have always seen “Reality Therapy” or “Choice Therapy” as the pastoral method of helping people deal with their lives. You could take some of Peterson’s points right from the Wikipedia article on “Reality Therapy”. I have a comfort level with Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life”. I have spoken these same things to many people, only with a scriptural foundation. Start small, do something; et least make your bed and life will start getting better.

Here are some notes:

“Inside us dwells a critical internal voice and spirit that knows all this. It’s predisposed to make its noisy case. It condemns our mediocre efforts. It can be very difficult to quell. Worse, critics of its sort are necessary.”

“The winners don’t take all, but they take most, and the bottom is not a good place to be. People are unhappy at the bottom. They get sick there and remain unknown and unloved. They waste their lives there. They die there. In consequence, the self-denigrating voice in the minds of people weaves a devastating tale. Life is a zero-sum game. Worthlessness is the default condition. What but willful blindness could possibly shelter people from such withering criticism? It is for such reasons that a whole generation of social psychologists recommended “positive illusions” as the only reliable route to mental health. Their credo? Let a lie be your umbrella. A more dismal, wretched, pessimistic philosophy can hardly be imagined: things are so terrible that only delusion can save you.”

We are talking about dealing with this critical voice within in a manner that produces results in bettering our lives.

“If the internal voice makes you doubt the value of your endeavours—or your life, or life itself—perhaps you should stop listening.”

“Maybe its comments are chatter, not wisdom. There will always be people better than you—that’s a cliché of nihilism, like the phrase, In a million years, who’s going to know the difference? The proper response to that statement is not, Well, then, everything is meaningless. It’s Any idiot can choose a frame of time within which nothing matters. Talking yourself into irrelevance is not a profound critique of Being. It’s a cheap trick of the rational mind.”

“Value judgments are a precondition for action. Furthermore, every activity, once chosen, comes with its own internal standards of accomplishment. If something can be done at all, it can be done better or worse.”

He identifies a problem in the language that the internal voice tends to use (we allow it).

“You are either a success, a comprehensive, singular, over-all good thing, or its opposite, a failure, a comprehensive, singular, irredeemably bad thing. The words imply no alternative and no middle ground. However, in a world as complex as ours, such generalizations…are a sign of naïve, unsophisticated or even malevolent analysis.”

“To begin with, there is not just one game at which to succeed or fail. There are many games and, more specifically, many good games—games that match your talents, involve you productively with other people, and sustain and even improve themselves across time.”

“It’s also unlikely that you’re playing only one game. You have a career and friends and family members and personal projects and artistic endeavors and athletic pursuits. You might consider judging your success across all the games you play.”

“…the specifics of the many games you are playing are so unique to you, so individual, that comparison to others is simply inappropriate.”

He describes the internal critic comparing you to someone else far better than you making the gap seem unbridgeable. It can lead you to see it as an injustice of life justifying your lack of action.

“As we mature we become, by contrast, increasingly individual and unique. The conditions of our lives become more and more personal and less and less comparable with those of others.”

“What is it that you actually love? What is it that you genuinely want? Before you can articulate your own standards of value, you must see yourself as a stranger—and then you must get to know yourself. What do you find valuable or pleasurable? How much leisure, enjoyment, and reward do you require, so that you feel like more than a beast of burden…You could watch the precious days tick by. Or you could learn how to entice yourself into sustainable, productive activity.”

“Dare, instead, to be dangerous. Dare to be truthful. Dare to articulate yourself, and express (or at least become aware of) what would really justify your life.”

“Consult your resentment. It’s a revelatory emotion, for all its pathology. It’s part of an evil triad: arrogance, deceit, and resentment. Nothing causes more harm than this underworld Trinity.”

“When you have something to say, silence is a lie—and tyranny feeds on lies. When should you push back against oppression, despite the danger? When you start nursing secret fantasies of revenge; when your life is being poisoned and your imagination fills with the wish to devour and destroy.”

“But God only knows what battles must be fought, forthrightly, voluntarily, on the road to peace. What do you do to avoid conflict, necessary though it may be? What are you inclined to lie about, assuming that the truth might be intolerable? What do you fake?”

He is leading us into learning to focus: “Be cautious when you’re comparing yourself to others. You’re a singular being…You have your own particular, specific problems—financial, intimate, psychological, and otherwise. Those are embedded in the unique broader context of your existence. Your career or job works for you in a personal manner, or it does not, and it does so in a unique interplay with other specifics of your life. You must decide how much of your time to spend on this, and how much on that. You must decide what to let go, and what to pursue.”

“We are always and simultaneously at point “a” (which is less desirable than it could be), moving towards point “b” (which we deem better, in accordance with our explicit and implicit values). We always encounter the world in a state of insufficiency and seek its correction. We can imagine new ways that things could be set right, and improved, even if we have everything we thought we needed Even when satisfied, temporarily, we remain curious. We live within a framework that defines the present as eternally lacking and the future as eternally better. If we did not see things this way, we would not act at all. We wouldn’t even be able to see, because to see we must focus, and to focus we must pick one thing above all else on which to focus.”

“We can envision new ways that things could be better…The advantages of this are obvious: we can change the world so that the intolerable state of present can be rectified in the future. The disadvantage to all this foresight and creativity is chronic unease and discomfort. Because we always contrast what is with what could be, we have to aim at what could be. But we can aim too high. Or too low. Or too chaotically. So we fail and live in disappointment…How can we benefit from our imaginativeness, our ability to improve the future, without continually denigrating our current, insufficiently successful and worthless lives?”

“The first step, perhaps, is to take stock. Who are you?”

“Here’s a hint. The future is like the past. But there’s a crucial difference. The past is fixed, but the future—it could be better.”

“Perhaps happiness is always to be found in the journey uphill, and not in the fleeting sense of satisfaction awaiting at the next peak. Much of happiness is hope.”

“Called upon properly, the internal critic will suggest something to set in order, which you could set in order, which you would set in order—voluntarily, without resentment, even with pleasure…Imagine that you are someone you must negotiate with…’Excuse me’, you might say to yourself, without irony or sarcasm. ‘I’m trying to reduce some of the unnecessary suffering around here. I could use some help.’”

“Five hundred small decisions, five hundred tiny actions, compose your day, today, and every day. Could you aim one or two of these at a better result? Better, in your own private opinion, by your own individual standards? Could you compare your specific personal tomorrow with your specific personal yesterday? Could you use your own judgment, and ask yourself what that better tomorrow might be? Aim small.”

“What you aim at determines what you see.” He goes over the famous gorilla amongst the basketball players that you don’t see because you are focusing on the counting of passes by Daniel Simons.

“That’s how you deal with the overwhelming complexity of the world: you ignore it, while you concentrate minutely on your private concerns. You see things that facilitate your movement forward, toward your desired goals. You detect obstacles, when they pop up in your path. You’re blind to everything else… And it has to be that way…”

“If things are not going well for you—well, that might be because, as the most cynical of aphorisms has it, life sucks, and then you die. Before your crisis impels you to that hideous conclusion, however, you might consider the following: life doesn’t have the problem. You do. At least that realization leaves you with some options…Perhaps your value structure needs some serious retooling…Perhaps you are holding on to your desire, in the present, so tightly that you cannot see anything else—even what you truly need.”

“You might decide to take a different tack. You might ask, instead, for the revelation of a different plan. I will try to want whatever it is that would make my life better–whatever that might be—and I will start working on it now.”

“…allow a whole new world of possibility, hidden from you because of your previous ambition, to reveal itself. And there’s a lot there. What would your life look like, if it were better? What would Life Itself look like? What does “better” even mean? You don’t know. And it doesn’t matter that you don’t know, exactly, right away, because you will start to slowly see what is “better,” once you have truly decided to want it.”

“You have to scour your psyche. You have to clean the damned thing up. And you must be cautious, because making your life better means adopting a lot of responsibility, and that takes more effort and care than living stupidly in pain and remaining arrogant, deceitful and resentful.”

“We only see what we aim at. The rest of the world (and that’s most of it) is hidden. If we start aiming at something different—something like “I want my life to be better”—our minds will start presenting us with new information, derived from the previously hidden world, to aid us in that pursuit. Then we can put that information to use and move, and act, and observe, and improve.”

“Religion concerns itself not with (mere) right and wrong but with good and evil themselves—with the archetypes of right and wrong. Religion concerns itself with domain of value, ultimate value.”

“You cannot aim yourself at anything if you are completely undisciplined and untutored.”

“It is therefore necessary and desirable for religions to have a dogmatic element. What good is a value system that does not provide a stable structure?”

“But a person capable of obedience—let’s say, instead, a properly disciplined person—is at least a well-forged tool.”

“The Bible is, for better or worse, the foundational document of Western civilization (of Western values, Western morality, and Western conceptions of good and evil). It’s the product of processes that remain fundamentally beyond our comprehension…a selected, sequenced and finally coherent story written by no one and everyone over many thousands of years. The Bible has been thrown up, out of the deep, by the collective human imagination, which is itself a product of unimaginable forces operating over unfathomable spans of time. Its careful, respectful study can reveal things to us about what we believe and how we do and should act that can be discovered in almost no other manner.”

“Because of that envy, the world you inhabit reveals itself as a place of bitterness, disappointment and spite. Imagine that you come to notice, and contemplate, and reconsider your unhappiness. Further, you determine to accept responsibility for it, and dare to posit that it might be something at least partly under your control. You crack open one eye, for a moment, and look. You ask for something better. You sacrifice your pettiness, repent of your envy, and open your heart. Instead of cursing the darkness, you let in a little light. You decide to aim for a better life…”

He ends with “Pay Attention” and looks at the sermon on the mount.

“Align yourself, in your soul, with Truth and the Highest Good. There is habitable order to establish and beauty to bring into existence. There is evil to overcome, suffering to ameliorate, and yourself to better.”

“It is this, in my reading, that is the culminating ethic of the canon of the West. It is this, furthermore, that is communicated by those eternally confusing, glowing stanzas from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, the essence, in some sense, of the wisdom of the New Testament. This is the attempt of the Spirit of Mankind to transform the understanding of ethics from the initial, necessary Thou Shalt Not of the child and the Ten Commandments into the fully articulated, positive vision of the true individual. This is the expression not merely of admirable self-control and self-mastery but of the fundamental desire to set the world right. This is not the cessation of sin, but sin’s opposite, good itself. The Sermon on the mount outlines the true nature of man, and the proper aim of mankind: concentrate on the day, so that you can live in the present, and attend completely and properly to what is right in front of you—but do that only after you have decided to let what is within shine forth. So that it can justify Being and illuminate the world.”

He quotes the “Seek ye first” section of the sermon. It looks like he mixed and matched Mathew and Luke.

“Realization is dawning…you are paying attention. You are telling the truth, instead of manipulating the world. You are negotiating, instead of playing the martyr or the tyrant. You no longer have to be envious, because you no longer know that someone else truly has it better. You no longer have to be frustrated, because you have learned to aim low, and to be patient. You are discovering who you are, and what you want, and what you are willing to do. You are finding that the solutions to your particular problems have to be tailored to you, personally and precisely. You are less concerned with the actions of other people, because you have plenty to do yourself.”

“Attend to the day, but aim at the highest good. Now, your trajectory is heavenward. That makes you hopeful.”

“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”

Let’s make a sermon!

Jordan Peterson: Rule #4; “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”

Text: Phil 3:13-14 one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

  1. Seek First

Everything Jordan Peterson talks about falls so easily into the Christian walk. He ended his chapter with the Sermon on the Mount. With this: Luke 12:27-31 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? 29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.  30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.  31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Here we have the perfect advice. Focus and action. Focus on the kingdom of God and start seeking God’s will for your life within that kingdom.

You do not need to worry about how well someone else is doing; because God could be doing something completely different in their life. It is you and God.

I use this verse to exemplify this: Ps 1:1-3 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

I love this because the tree brings forth its fruit in its season; in reality the cherry first, followed by the apricot, then the peach and pear and finally the apples. Each of us grow and produce at the pace we and God set for ourselves.

Blessed walking in fruitfulness and prosperity or scornful (nihilist) and sinning (searing the conscious); which one are you living?

  1. Glory to Glory

We get New Testament words like “adding”, “growing” and “maturing” to describe this Christian task of discovering and walking in the will of God for our lives.

The direction: 2 Cor 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Eph 4:22-24 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Everything screams “change” and “grow” for the better. Everything Jordan Peterson wants to do is done for him and anyone else who would like to look behind the curtain for the truth about the spiritual make up of this life we live.

III. Growing in Wisdom

Each day of walking with Jesus brings an added bonus: wisdom.

This is not the wisdom of the world. Jordan Peterson’s and every other self-help book is loaded with good thoughts, many, if not most; easily found in the bible. Our wisdom is different.

1 Cor 2:13-14 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Col 1:9-12 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Conclusion

Look from where you have come.

The proof is in the pudding.

“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”

If you are seeking the Kingdom of God first it is easy to see yourself changing and growing in a positive direction from day to day.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jordan Peterson Chapter 3 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson Rule #3 

Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You

We get a picture of Jordan Peterson’s youth in the freezing, northern prairie of Canada. He describes some friends who never got it together with an affinity to marijuana that didn’t seem to help them. He describes parties that didn’t seem like parties. He describes a nihilism that has somehow taken ahold of lives. It sounded bleak.

The youths were divided between those who were going to stay and those who were going to go. He and his adventurous sister were in the “go” camp. He described a trip with his friends during high school to the big city and his disappointment in that all they did was score some dope and smoke it in a hotel room, basically doing what they could have done at home.

He ended high school with a couple of friends who were going to go to college. One of them went to the same college he did. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on him. He describes a college time that was filled with dynamic friends squeezing everything they could get out of the college experience. He describes a visit to his apartment from his high school buddy that showed how far a person can fall.

He quotes his friend: “I had friends…Before. Anyone with enough self-contempt that they could forgive me mine.”

“What was it that made Chris and Carl and Ed unable (or, worse, perhaps, unwilling) to move or to change their friendships and improve the circumstances of their lives? Was it inevitable—a consequence of their own limitations, nascent illnesses and traumas of the past?”

“Sometimes, when people have a low opinion of their own worth—or, perhaps when they refuse responsibility for their lives—they choose a new acquaintance, of precisely the type who proved troublesome in the past. Such people don’t believe that they deserve any better—so they don’t go looking for it. Or, perhaps, they don’t want the trouble of better.”

He describes these things with a questioning approach: “People create their worlds with the tools they have directly at hand. Faulty tools produce faulty results. Repeated use of the same faulty tools produces the same faulty results. It is in this manner that those who fail to learn from the past doom themselves to repeat it. It’s partly fate. It’s partly inability. It’s partly…unwillingness to learn? Refusal to learn? Motivated refusal to learn?”

He has a section entitled “Rescuing the Damned” which almost seems as a rebuke to the Christian do gooders of this world.

We choose downtrodden friends because we want to rescue them. “But not everyone who is failing is a victim, and not everyone at the bottom wishes to rise, although many do, and many manage it. Nonetheless, people will often accept or even amplify their own suffering, as well as that of others, if they can brandish it as evidence of the worlds injustice.”

I thought this described many of my Christian missions to redeem someone and I’m sure most Christians can relate: “Imagine someone not doing well. He needs help. He might even want it. But it is not easy to distinguish between someone truly wanting and needing help and someone who is merely exploiting a willing helper. The distinction is difficult even for the person who is wanting and needing and possible exploiting. The person who tries and fails, and is forgiven, and then tries again and fails, and is forgiven, is also too often the person who wants everyone to believe in the authenticity of all that trying.”

He seems to have a bit of animus about trying to help people. Maybe it is just the competition between the clinical psychologists of the world and the church. We are both trying to help people.

“When it’s not just naivete, the attempt to rescue someone is often fueled by vanity and narcissism.”

He shares a disturbing portrait from Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Underground”. One miserable man tries to help a downward moving woman only to pummel her with his wickedness.

Is this how he sees efforts to help people?

“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?”

He uses some studies that show the downer guy tends to bring down the accomplished when forced to work together. “The same thing happens when well-meaning counsellors place a delinquent teen among comparatively civilized pers. The delinquency spreads, not the stability. Down is a lot easier than up.”

He questions the motivations of the do gooder as well as the delusional examination of the results. I can relate.

He inserts this in between this assault on the do gooder: “You’re associating with people who are bad for you not because it’s better for anyone, but because it’s easier. You know it. Your friends know it. You’re all bound by an implicit contract—one aimed at nihilism, and failure, and suffering of the stupidest sort. You all decided to sacrifice the future to the present.”

“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 is far more likely that a given individual has just decided to reject the path upward, because of its difficulty…But consider this: failure is easy to understand. No explanation for its existence is required. In the same manner, fear, hatred, addiction, promiscuity, betrayal and deception require no explanation…Vice is easy. Failure is easy, too. It’s easier not to shoulder a burden…It’s easier to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today and drown the upcoming months and years in today’s cheap pleasures.”

He describes the game: “How do I know that your suffering is not the demand of martyrdom for my resources…Maybe my help won’t rectify anything…maybe your misery is a demand placed on me so that I fail too…How do I know that you would refuse to play such a game? How do I know that I am not myself merely pretending to be responsible, while pointlessly “helping” you, so that I don’t have to do something truly difficult–and genuinely possible?”

He is on a roll: “Maybe your misery is the weapon you brandish in your hatred for those who rose upward while you waited and sank. Maybe your misery is your attempt to prove the world’s injustice, instead of the evidence of your own sin, your own missing of the mark, your conscious refusal to strive and to live.”

So, we end this thrashing of the downtrodden: “How exactly should I befriend you when you’re in such a place? How exactly could I?”

“Success: that’s the mystery. Virtue: that’s what’s inexplicable. To fail, you merely have to cultivate a few bad habits. You just have to bide your time. And once someone has spent enough time cultivating bad habits and biding their time, they are much diminished…Things fall apart, of their own accord, but the sins of men speed their degeneration. And then comes the flood.”

I see a need to justify: “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.”

Carl Rogers: the impossibility of helping someone who did not want to improve.

He is not in to toxic relationships.

“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?”

“Friendship is a reciprocal arrangement. You are not morally obliged to support someone who is making the world a worse place. Quite the opposite. You should choose people who want things to be better, not worse. 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.”

“If you surround yourself with people who support your upward aim, they will not tolerate your cynicism and destructiveness. They will instead encourage you when you do good for yourself and others and punish you carefully when you do not.”

“When you dare aspire upward, you reveal the inadequacy of the present and the promise of the future. Then you disturb others, in the depths of their souls, where they understand that their cynicism and immobility are unjustifiable. You play Abel to their Cain. You remind them that they ceased caring not because of life’s horrors, which are undeniable, but because they do not want to lift the world up on to their shoulders, where it belongs.”

“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.”

“Make friends with people who want the best for you.”

The chapter did not read like I had expected. I could relate to high school and friends. College was a bit like high school until I dropped out and returned and finished on my terms. I would change my major to get the course I wanted and then change back. My professors all worked with me and I enjoyed taking the courses I wanted to take. I was let go from my job at a newspaper (they were combining departments) and I was an expendable college student. I applied for unemployment and was denied because as a student I was not available for work 24 hours a day. Each of my professors signed a statement that I could change the time of my classes to match with any hours I needed to work. The friends I made were built around my landscaping, a band with a band house and socialized business ideas. All with drugs and madness still going on. Friends or just having fun together; I don’t know.

Then salvation came my way as I was traveling across America to sell a house for a traveling partner and go to Europe. The friends of salvation were many; but 35 years later the many have moved on and the faithful of the Wickenburg church are still my family. Only one man who got saved with me is still my friend; Jim Bardin. I have ties of friendship with pastors that center around my time as pastor in Seattle, a missionary and evangelist. They vary in depth; but it is that common experience that binds us together. The people I have pastored over the years who are still in contact with me I count as friends. I enjoy the Sparta church as friends and enjoy identifying with them. I have enjoyed the friendship of Pastor Overson and more so Pastor Robinson. Pastor Mitchell has always treated me well and while I was an evangelist took the time to share thoughts with me.

I do my best to “show myself friendly” and enjoy my daughters and my son in laws immensely. Easy to say my best friend is my wife and my bestest friend is my invisible friend who “will never leave me nor forsake me”.

There is a sense of blood covenant friendship that we have with God through the blood of Jesus that we could, would or should have among ourselves as brothers in Christ; but it is hard to fit it into the reality of our separate lives; especially when we are constantly confronted by those who turn back to the world and away from that very covenant relationship with God and us.

So, let’s make a sermon.

Text: 1 Sam 18:1-4…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul… 3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.

I. The Ideal

Covenant – a thing cut, they made a blood covenant with each other.

Jonathon had already shown himself to be a man of war as well as a man of God. He is the future king as son of Saul. He had the loyalty of his armor bearer: 1 Sam 14:7 So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.”

David, the shepherd boy, the secretly anointed king, the musician, slayer of Goliath and hero of Saul’s army stands ready to make a covenant with Jonathon.

Jonathon would eventually disobey his father over his covenant with David.

Jonathon would come to understand that David would be King; but hoped to serve at his side. They confirmed their covenant as Saul hunted David. Jonathon and Saul would die in battle.

Years later David would say: 2 Sam 9:3 Then the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.”

Mephibosheth is his name.

In Trumbull’s book on blood covenants through history he describes the Viking commitment. The two pierce and clasp their hands and lay beneath the sod that covers and then uncovers them. They lay down two separate people they come out united in a blood covenant. Each will do everything in their power to rescue each other from the battlefield or prison.

This is a friendship that is capable of being carried through until the end. Once again applying this standard to our lives is difficult. The backslidden friend presents all kinds of problems for this idea of blood covenant commitment. It seems to only work if the commitment to the Lord is strong and vibrant in both parties.

Here today and gone tomorrow is more relevant to my pastoral relationships than this picture of blood covenant commitment to each other.

Trumbell describes the blood covenant as something sought out from the best of the best. Peterson would understand this as healthy. Join in friendship with the together person.

The ideal, maybe a bridge too far, verses the reality of snatching pieces of friendship during our journey on this earth.

II. Not the Ideal, but more achievable

Let’s look at a few friendship verses.

1 Cor 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Gal 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Prov 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

Heb 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

Jude 20-23 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

2 Cor 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Gal 5:13-15 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

Prov 14:20 The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, But the rich has many friends.

Prov 18:24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

John 15:13-15 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

III. The blood of the everlasting covenant

This idea of a blood covenant has touched all cultures through history. The idea of touching God through a vicarious blood sacrifice has also been part of history. It is certainly biblical.

Why would God stoop to have a blood covenant relationship with us?

1 Cor 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption —  31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 

Heb 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

1 Cor 11:25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Zech 9:11 “As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

Isa 55:1-3 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. 3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you

Ps 25:12-15 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. 13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. 15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Conclusion

John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I like to use Peck’s definition of love: anytime you help someone grow physically, spiritually, emotionally or mentally.

The church should be a place filled with people who will love you and help you become a better person. Church is the perfect place to “make friends with people who want the best for you”.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jordan Peterson Chapter 2 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson Rule 2

“Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible For Helping”

The thinking in this chapter was a bit torturous; but I think I was following it well enough to lay it out in these sermon notes.

Many people do not take the medicines prescribed for them. About two thirds of patients will fail to take it or fail to take it properly. Why?

A bigger why! You have undergone uncomfortable dialysis for years and you finally get a transplant. You must take the drugs to help your body from rejecting the new organ. You don’t! Why?

Yet, we all make sure our pets get their medicine. Semi-conclusion: “people appear to love their dogs…more than themselves”.

Why? Let’s look at the two stories of creation in the bible (all the intelligentsia understand this).

A brief explanation of how the two stories got blended and then into the meat of the story of Adam and Eve.

But first a rebuttal of modern materialism using the idea of pain and stories to understand the true sense of reality verses chemical compounds moving around.

I preach this and Shakespeare I think said as much: “…that which we subjectively experience can be likened much more to a novel or a movie than to a scientific description of physical reality. It is the drama of lived experience…”

We come to the yin and yang of reality. Chaos and order. These two are accompanied by the third element of life: the navigating line between the yin and the yang and the chaos and order.

“It is our eternal subjugation to the first two that makes us doubt the validity of existence—that makes us throw up our hands in despair and fail to care for ourselves properly. It is proper understanding of the third that allows us the only real way out.”

I am assuming the whole book is about how to conduct ourselves along the third way.

Chaos: ignorance, unexplored territory, foreigners, monster under the bed, feeling of betrayal, dreams die, marriages end. “It is, in short, all those things and situations we neither know nor understand.”

“Chaos is also the formless potential from which the God of Genesis 1 called forth order using language at the beginning of time. It’s the same potential from which we, made in that Image, call forth the novel and ever-changing moments of our lives.”

Order: explored territory, hierarchy, structure, tribe, religion, home, country, flag, solid floor, currency, plans, classroom, clocks.

“In order, we’re able to think about things in the long term. There, things work, and we’re stable, calm and competent. We seldom leave places we understand—geographical or conceptual—for that reason, and we certainly do not like it when we are compelled to or when it happens accidentally.”

“You’re in order, when you have a loyal friend, a trustworthy ally. When the same person betrays you, sells you out, you move from the daytime world of clarity and light to the dark underworld of chaos, confusion and despair.”

“Order is the stability of your marriage. It’s buttressed by the traditions of the past and by your expectations—grounded, often invisibly, in those traditions. Chaos is that stability crumbling under your feet when you discover your partner’s infidelity. Chaos is the experience of reeling unbound and unsupported through space when your guiding routines and traditions collapse.”

Chaos and order are not material things—they are “elements of lived experience”.

For a billion years life has been divided male and female and through these evolutionary lenses we still experience life male and female.

Lots of mumbo jumbo on the evolution of thinking and perceiving. Forget about God speaking it into existence. Jordan’s “order” is evolution not creation. (The reality of God would throw his world into chaos; a chaos in which God could create a new order in his life). Every article that can be found that pertains to the early evolutionary development of thinking and perceiving is nothing but mumbo jumbo that includes lots of “could’s”,  “possibly’s”, “maybe’s” and a couple of “probably’s” just to make it sound scientific.

All to say order is masculine: masculine hierarchical structure, builders, Father-God, judge, soldiers, police, making life work corporately and politically.

And chaos is, you guessed it, female: origin, source, mother, it is what matters (mater), thought and communication, the mysterious realm of gestation and birth.

Throw in the “crushing force of sexual selection” and you can see why, et least men, perceive chaos as feminine. She can say no to a man’s advances. Talk about “chaos”.

Star of David: feminine triangle pointing down and masculine triangle pointing up. Same for the Hindu yoni and lingam covered with snakes. Egypt had Osiris, god of the state, and Isis, goddess of the underworld portrayed has two intertwined cobras. Finishing with Christianity or (Catholic Christianity) the virgin mother and the Christ child.

A Russian has suggested “that the very hemispheric structure of the cortex reflects the fundamental division between novelty (the unknown, or chaos) and routinization (the known, order).”

“Everyone understands order and chaos, world and underworld…We all have a palpable sense of the chaos lurking under everything familiar. That’s why we understand the strange, surreal stories of Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty, and The Lion King, and the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, with their eternal landscapes of known and unknown, world and underworld.”

Understanding this helps us see the line or road in between the Yin and the Yang.

“The Way is the path of proper Being. It’s the same Way as that referred to by Christ in John 14:6: I am the way, and the truth and the life. The same idea is expressed in Matthew 7:14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

This is the conclusion we are heading for: a proper Way of Being.

Summing up this proper Way of Being; here is (I think) Jordan Peterson’s definition: “To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure. When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping and meaningful; when time passes, and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing you don’t notice—it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos…ensuring the stability but also the expansion of habitable, productive territory, of space that is personal, social and natural. It’s the right place to be, in every sense. You are there when—and where—it matters.”

It is good to see Peterson get so much from the story of Adam and Eve. This is his proof piece of trying to get us through the chapter to explain why we do not take care of ourselves properly.

I liked this: “It just does not appear possible, even for God himself, to make a bounded space completely protected from the outside—not in the real world, with its necessary limitations, surrounded by the transcendent. The outside, chaos, always sneaks into the inside, because nothing can be completely walled off from the rest of reality. So even the ultimate in safe spaces inevitably harbours a snake.”

“We have seen the enemy, after all, and he is us. The snake inhabits each of our souls. This is the reason, as far as I can tell, for the strange Christian insistence, made most explicit by John Milton, that the snake in the Garden of Eden was also Satan, the Spirit of Evil itself. The importance of this symbolic identification—its staggering brilliance—can hardly be overstated.”

The story unfolds: “…wanting to know more, Eve decides to eat the fruit. Poof! She wakes up: she’s conscious, or perhaps self-conscious, for the first time. Now, no clear-seeing, conscious woman is going to tolerate an unawakened man. So, Eve immediately shares the fruit with Adam. That makes him self-conscious. Little has changed.”

Need to add: eyes opened, able to see the snake in the tree, able to see the ripe fruit vs. the unripe, the whole evolutionary reasoning behind the story is slipped in there.

The problem is they are naked and now they know it and cover themselves.

God goes walking in the garden looking for them. They are hiding. God calls and: “Adam immediately reveals himself, but badly: first as a neurotic; then, as a ratfink. The creator of all the universe calls, and Adam replies: “I heard you, God. But I was naked, and hid.” What does this mean? It means that people, unsettled by their vulnerability, eternally fear to tell the truth, to mediate between chaos and order, and to manifest their destiny. In other words, they are afraid to walk with God. That’s not particularly admirable, perhaps, but it’s certainly understandable. God’s a judgmental father. His standards are high. He’s hard to please.”

Peterson shows Adam blaming the woman and God. How cool! I can see why he is described as the “Gateway Drug to Salvation”.

Peterson gives us:

1 Tim 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

…without realizing it. “At least the woman had the serpent to blame, and it later turns out that snake is Satan himself, unlikely as that seems. Thus, we can understand and sympathize with Eve’s error. She was deceived by the best. But Adam! No one forced his words from his mouth.”

God dishes out punishments and…”And so we return to our original query: Why would someone buy prescription medication for his dog, and then so carefully administer it, when he would not do the same for himself? Now you have the answer, derived from one of the foundational texts of mankind. Why should anyone take care of anything as naked, ugly, ashamed, frightened, worthless, cowardly, resentful, defensive and accusatory as a descendant of Adam? Even if that thing, that being, is himself? And I do not mean at all to exclude women with this phrasing.”

“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.”

Next up: “The story continues, in all its catastrophe and tragedy, and the people involved (that’s us) must contend with yet another painful awakening. We are next fated to contemplate morality itself.”

“…and ye shall be gods, knowing good and evil”. What could this possibly mean…Well, simple context indicates that it must have something to do with gardens, snakes, disobedience, fruit, sexuality and nakedness. It was the last item—nakedness—that finally clued me in.”

Animals can be predators. It is their nature. But what about us?

“We can feel pain, and self-disgust, and shame, and horror, and we know it. We know what makes us suffer. We know how dread and pain can be inflicted on us—and that means we know exactly how to inflict it on others. We know how we are naked, and how that nakedness can be exploited—and that means we know how others are naked, and how they can be exploited. We can terrify people, consciously. We can hurt and humiliate them for faults we understand only too well.”

“Only man could conceive of the rack…Only man will inflict suffering for the sake of suffering. That is the best definition of evil I have been able to formulate…And with this realization we have well-nigh full legitimization of the idea, very unpopular in modern intellectual circles, of Original Sin.”

He is making his argument about why we don’t take care of ourselves properly.

“Human beings have a great capacity for wrongdoing. It’s an attribute that is unique in the world of life. We can and do make things worse, voluntarily, with full knowledge of what we are doing…Given that terrible capacity, that proclivity for malevolent actions, is it any wonder we have a hard time taking care of ourselves or others—or even that we doubt the value of the entire human enterprise?”

The answer: “A Spark of the Divine”

Peterson: “The Gateway Drug to Salvation”

“In Genesis 1, God creates the world with the divine, truthful Word, generating habitable, paradisal order from the precosmogonic chaos. He then creates Man and Woman in His Image, imbuing them with the capacity to do the same—to create order from chaos, and continue His work. At each stage of creation, including that involving the formation of the first couple, God reflects upon what has come to be, and pronounces it Good.”

“The juxtaposition of Genesis 1 with Genesis 2 & 3 (the latter two chapters outlining the fall of man, describing why our lot is so tragedy-ridden and ethically torturous) produces a narrative sequence almost unbearable in its profundity. The moral of Genesis 1 is that Being brought into existence through true speech is Good…This goodness is terribly disrupted by the events of the fall (and of Cain and Abel and the Flood and the Tower of Babel), but we retain an intimation of the prelaspsarian state.”

You have to remind yourself he is still answering why we don’t take proper care of ourselves.

“Their goodness was something bestowed, rather than deserved or earned. They exercised no choice. God knows, that’s easier. But maybe it’s not better than, for example, goodness genuinely earned. Maybe…free choice matters.”

“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.”

Our gateway drug: “The entire Bible is structured so that everything after the Fall—the history of Israel, the prophets, the coming of Christ—is presented as a remedy for that Fall, a way out of evil.”

“…the answer is already implicit in Genesis 1: to embody the Image of God—to speak out of chaos the Being that is Good—but to do so consciously, of our own free choice.”

“If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves—but we don’t, because we are—not least in our own eyes—fallen creatures. If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth—then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world. Then we might treat ourselves like people we cared for. We might strive to set the world straight. We might orient it toward Heaven, where we would want people we cared for to dwell, instead of Hell, where our resentment and hatred would eternally sentence everyone.”

He deals with a Christian perspective of self-sacrifice in terms of “loving your neighbor as yourself”. Here I think is the point: “If I am someone’s friend, family member, or lover, then I am morally obliged to bargain as hard on my own behalf as they are on theirs. If I fail to do so, I will end up a slave, and the other person a tyrant. What good is that? It is much better for any relationship when both partners are strong.”

“In my clinical practice I encourage people to credit themselves and those around them for acting productively and with care, as well as for the genuine concern and thoughtfulness they manifest towards others.”

“Some people degenerate into the hell of resentment and the hatred of Being, but most refuse to do so, despite their suffering and disappointments and losses and inadequacies and ugliness, and again that is a miracle for those with the eyes to see it.”

“We deserve some respect. You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself.”

“Everyone falls short of the glory of God. If that stark fact meant, however, that we had no responsibility to care, for ourselves as much as others, everyone would be brutally punished all the time.”

“To treat yourself as if you were someone you are responsible for helping is, instead, to consider what would be truly good for you.”

“You need to consider the future and think, “What might my life look like if I were caring for myself properly? What career would challenge me and render me productive and helpful, so that I could shoulder my share of the load, and enjoy the consequences? What should I be doing, when I have some freedom, to improve my health, expand my knowledge, and strengthen my body?’. You need to know where you are, so you can start to chart your course. You need to know who you are, so that you understand your armament and bolster yourself in respect to your limitations. You need to know where you are going, so that you can limit the extent of chaos in your life, restructure order, and bring the divine force of Hope to bear on the world.”

“You must determine where you are going, so that you can bargain for yourself, so that you don’t end up resentful, vengeful and cruel. You have to articulate your own principles, so that you can defend yourself against others taking inappropriate advantage of you, and so that you are secure and safe while you work and play. You must discipline yourself carefully.”

Our man’s inner theology: “You need to determine how to act toward yourself so that you are most likely to become and to stay a good person. It would be good to make the world a better place. Heaven, after all, will not arrive of its own accord. We will have to work to bring it about, and strengthen ourselves, so that we can withstand the deadly angels and the flaming sword of judgment that God used to bar its entrance.”

“Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care of yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being.”

Directing people to your defined heaven verses your defined hell: “You could devote your life to this. That would give you Meaning, with a capital M. That would justify your miserable existence. That would atone for your sinful nature and replace your shame and self-consciousness with the natural pride and forthright confidence of someone who has learned once again to walk with God in the Garden.”

“You could begin by treating yourself as if you were someone you were responsible for helping.”

You read his conclusions and you can hear a voice crying out for redemption. The burden is to heavy; does he know it?

Text: John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

  1. The Way

Summing up this proper Way of Being; here is (I think) Jordan Peterson’s definition: “To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure. When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping and meaningful; when time passes, and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing you don’t notice—it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos…ensuring the stability but also the expansion of habitable, productive territory, of space that is personal, social and natural. It’s the right place to be, in every sense. You are there when—and where—it matters.”

We read “I am the way” and many of us trap ourselves in thinking that the way is living as Jesus lived. Muslim Sharia law is all about copying the way Muhammed lived. We don’t know the intimate details of how Jesus conducted himself. We get much of who He is from His message.

“I am the way” is so much more than a pattern on how to live. Peterson can help us figure out a pattern to live by. Jesus can come into our hearts.

John 10:9-10 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Col 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

2 Cor 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

2 Cor 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Remember Peterson is looking at a humanity that doesn’t see itself as worthy. God sees a humanity that is worth the sacrifice of Jesus His Son.

II. Truth

“If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves—but we don’t, because we are—not least in our own eyes—fallen creatures. If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth—then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world. Then we might treat ourselves like people we cared for. We might strive to set the world straight. We might orient it toward Heaven, where we would want people we cared for to dwell, instead of Hell, where our resentment and hatred would eternally sentence everyone.”

He writes this knowing that the world has jettisoned the idea of truth.

Jesus is not talking about objective truth just like he was not talking about an objective path of righteous living. He is talking about Himself. Jesus is the truth.

Peterson is struck that in the beginning God spoke order out of chaos.

As Pilate said “What is truth?”

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

This is the word that God spoke order out of chaos.

John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

John 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

We all understand the biblical admonitions to be honest and not lie. Any advice column can help us to tell the truth and not lie. Jesus is the truth; now that is something that goes beyond instruction and takes us into the supernatural. The logos was used to speak order out of chaos. That truth is alive in us.

III. The Life

Everything that Peterson says, I have preached in one way or another using bible verses to help people live a life in Christ.

These were his concluding remarks of the chapter: “Directing people to your defined heaven verses your defined hell: “You could devote your life to this. That would give you Meaning, with a capital M. That would justify your miserable existence. That would atone for your sinful nature and replace your shame and self-consciousness with the natural pride and forthright confidence of someone who has learned once again to walk with God in the Garden.”

“You could begin by treating yourself as if you were someone you were responsible for helping.”

Without a vision the people perish combined with write the vision on the tablets so we can read and run with it.

Once again, Jesus is not talking about a lesson on vision. Paul was not disobedient to that heavenly vision could line up with Peterson’s conclusion.

Jesus is saying: He is the life.

John 14:1-6 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.   3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

1 Peter 1:22-25 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,   24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

Conclusion

What does it profit a man if he gets his act together and lives a life with one foot in order and the other in chaos and lives out his days properly dealing with the issues of life but he loses his own soul?

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life…”

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jordan Peterson Chapter 1 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson 12 Rules

Rule #1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

We look to the lobster. He must fight for his place in the pecking order of lobster life. The higher he is the more access he has to the best land, the best food and the best mating possibilities. A victorious fighting lobster exhibits in his brain high serotonin and low octopamine. This lobster stands up straight and tall. The defeated lobster exhibits low serotonin and high octopamine and he kind of slouches around.

Humans also secrete serotonin and octopamine in much the same way as lobsters. A defeated human exhibits high levels of octopamine and a victorious human exhibits high levels of serotonin.

Mr. Peterson points out that lobsters have been around for 350 million years and somehow through the evolutionary process those chemicals in their brains are working in our brains.

Life is not fair. Peterson quotes Mt. 25:29: “to those who have everything, more will be given; from those who have nothing, everything will be taken”.

Money: Richest 85 people have as much as the poorest 3.5 billion people.

It is the same thing in scientific papers, music (modern orchestras mainly play Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky) and book sales.

Back to the lobster lesson as it applies to us.

Jordan Peterson: “Low serotonin means decreased confidence…Low serotonin means less happiness, more pain and anxiety, more illness, and a shorter lifespan…Higher spots in the dominance hierarchy, and the higher serotonin levels typical of those who inhabit them, are characterized by less illness, misery and death, even when such as absolute income…are held constant.”

He paints the picture of the good life vs. the poor life. It reminds me of Ruby Paine’s “Understanding Poverty”. At the bottom a person detects their worth by how people treat them. The stress and uncertainty of life can swamp you at any given minute thus your serotonin levels are never replenished as you go from one stressful event to the next one. At the bottom there are no friends and family to bail you out. 

At the top even disasters are viewed as opportunities. The serotonin is constantly flowing as you go through life “confident and calm, standing tall and straight, and much less on constant alert. Because your position is secure, the future is likely to be good for you. It’s worthwhile to think in the long term and plan for a better tomorrow. You don’t need to grasp impulsively at whatever crumbs come your way, because you can realistically expect good things to remain available.”

Peterson moves to the body as an orchestra, the need for routine that doesn’t require resources to accomplish. What time do you consistently wake up in the morning? “Anxiety and depression cannot be easily treated if the sufferer has unpredictable daily routines.” Fat and protein for breakfast especially important because as the day unfolds with all the new worries and misadventures.

He touches on the alcoholic and the person suffering from agoraphobia in relation to a feedback loop that feeds the problem. Peterson: “There are many systems of interaction between brain, body and social world that can get caught in positive feedback loops. Depressed people, for example, can start feeling useless and burdensome, as well as grief-stricken and pained. This makes them withdraw from contact with friends and family. Then the withdrawal makes them more lonesome and isolated, and more likely to feel useless and burdensome. Then they withdraw more. In this manner, depression spirals and amplifies.”

Bullies prey on these people. They can spot them just by seeing how they carry themselves.

Maybe you “can’t” fight back but as an adult you “won’t” fight back because of a tight moral code that prohibits anger. “…those who are only or merely compassionate and self-sacrificing (and naïve and exploitable) cannot call forth the genuinely righteous and appropriately self-protective anger necessary to defend themselves.”

A reminder there are malevolent people out there who you must oppose, or they will walk all over you.

I just liked this: “Bureaucracies have petty authoritarians within them, generating unnecessary rules and procedures simply to express and cement power. Such people produce powerful under-currents of resentment around them which, if expressed, would limit their expression of pathological power.”

We are heading to a place where the beaten down person awakens to the possibility of the anger and evil within. “When the awakening occurs—when once-naïve people recognize in themselves the seeds of evil and monstrosity, and see themselves as dangerous…their fear decreases. They develop more self-respect. Then, perhaps, they begin to resist oppression. They see that they have the ability to withstand, because they are terrible too.”

So, loser, quit slumping around. People peg you and your own brain pegs you. You will become a bottom feeder unless you learn to “stand”.

And “But standing up straight with your shoulders back is not something that is only physical, because you’re not only a body. You’re a spirit, so to speak—a psyche—as well. Standing up physically also implies and invokes and demands standing up metaphysically. Standing up means voluntarily accepting the burden of Being.”

Guess what? You begin to respond to challenges and your entire human, spiritual system keys off that response. You take your place in life to fight for what is right.

I like this: “It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means to please God, in the ancient language).”

“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.”

“Thus emboldened, you will embark on the voyage of your life, let your light shine, so to speak, on the heavenly hill, and pursue our rightful destiny. Then the meaning of your life may be sufficient to keep the corrupting influence of mortal despair at bay.”

And so chapter one ends: “Stand up straight, with your shoulders back.”

 

My goal is to preach Jordan Peterson’s rules for the next 12 weeks. I will not read ahead, so I will be taking it as it comes. Audra drew our attention to Jordan Peterson. I was familiar with the man who made a stand against the tyranny of political required speech in Canada; but now Audra has Joan listening to Peterson’s youtube presentations. I gather that his series on a psychological view of the biblical stories is one of his favorites. I watched the famous interview and just watch his diagnosis of that interview and his response to a journalist’s listing of 5 topics to summarize his beliefs. I just saw him struggle with the word “meek” in the verse that the meek shall inherit the earth. It didn’t sit right with him. I was spiritually raised with the definition of meek being “controlled power” which fits right into his philosophy of living as a dangerous man. His definition harked back to the Jewish commentaries: a man knowing how to use a sword that he keeps in its sheath. There is a joy that a biblically literate, born again Christian has in watching Jordan Peterson dance around the truth that he values so much, above all else, and yet not quite getting there. Hopefully someday!

So here are my rough sermon notes after reading Chapter 1.

I was spoken to by a local musician in town the other day. As we talked he wanted to know about a certain young man that he knew was touched by our church. He referenced him to his wife as he described a dark, depressive young man who after salvation seemed to be a totally different person. This was just his view from the appearance of Tevin. I gave him an update on Tevin’s life (moved to New Mexico much to my heartbreak) but doing well. So what does this have to do with Chapter 1. Well Chapter 1 is an admonition to stand tall. This was a piece of advice that I had given Tevin. He is about 6’1”, yet he didn’t allow himself to show his height. He was slouched when we met him but as time went on he would straighten up in more than one way and become a man taking care of the business of life. I was sitting with a group of pastors in Prescott with a visiting pastor from England who was into weights. His compatriot was our Farmington pastor David Maldonado who was an assistant at the time. David was describing the pain from yesterday’s workout in the middle of his back. Our Englishman then went down the table quietly pointing out the men who had not exercise this muscle and thus were already slouching and it would get worse as the years went by. I asked them what the exercise was that they did: the bar with the curve in which you draw the weight up from your waist to below your chin keeping your arms above the bar. I also had read in the doctor’s office once that the healthiest life adjustment a man can make is to adjust his rear-view mirror so that he must straightened himself out to properly view traffic in the mirror. I shared these exercises with Tevin and his learning to stand tall corresponded with his learning to deal responsibly with life. Yes, this corresponds with Peterson’s Rule #1.

The pecking order of life, where do I fit in? Well I know I am not one of the wealthiest 85 who own as much as the lowest 3.5 billion other people at the bottom.

I know how pastoral status is measured and quite frankly I should be slouched at this point in my life. You have given 35 years of your life to this fellowship to be a pastor of 25 people in a town of 4500 people? Loser! Yet, I look at myself as a success and an integral part of what our fellowship and what God is doing in the earth.

What explains this? The church, the gospel and the positive feed back of being in the will of God.

Text: 1 Cor 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption —  31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 

I. A Christian Breaks the Mode

My life lines of with what Peterson is looking for in men. Living a life on the edge with elements of danger that had me living on the outskirts of acceptable life. He is looking for a man to come to discipline his life for a greater good; I got saved. Born again! Supernatural!

1 Peter 1:22-25 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,   24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

Here is everything that Peterson is looking for: a purified soul, truth, action through the “logos” which endures forever.

This is one of thousand verses that set me free from the standards and judgments of the world. “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed”. I do not have to play the games of the world, yet I am called to rise and conquer with the life I am living.

What if I am at the bottom financially? Paul said: Phil 4:11-13 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

This was illustrated best to me by my manager at a software company in Seattle when I was a young pastor. I had a small church (yeah, I know) but I also had an excellent job that was giving me enough money to live in Seattle to establish that small colony of heaven in the midst of a world at odds with us. My manager came to my office and was staring at me. He said he was trying to figure me out. He knew I would do anything that needed to be done to the best of my ability…but…he verbalized that he felt he had no leverage on me. I had no fear, because God was my provider not this company. I had no fear of him personally because God was my boss. The pecking order of the world did not have the impact upon me that it should because I was only a pilgrim passing through, this world is not my home.

I hope you can feel Peterson’s serotonin flowing through a Christian life. Or at least it should.

II. Discipline is necessary!

Peterson sees a world that is out to get us. There is a “malevolence” out there and we need to be ready to “stand” up to it when it raises its head to mess with us.

1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.

1 John 2:14 I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.

Peterson talks of the disciplines necessary to elevate a person at the bottom. He starts with getting up at a consistently acceptable time and eating a protein rich breakfast.

Many self-help books stress the importance of daily rituals…these are built into the Christian walk: morning prayer, bible reading and consistent church attendance to name the top three.

Any loser in this world’s game of life that comes to a gospel preaching church and gets saved, begins to pray in the morning, reads his bible and comes to church will become everything Peterson is looking for: a hero, bringing stability to the chaos of life.

Peterson acknowledges the soul or spirit of man. He knows it can be corrupted by doing what is intuitively wrong. I like the old testament definition of soul: the person you really are on the inside. I think that would work for Peterson.

1 Cor 9:24-10:1 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Col 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

III. More victorious than a victorious lobster

Let me just quote a few verses that can serve as a positive feedback in the Christian’s victorious life.

Rom 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Rom 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.

Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

1 Cor 15:54-55 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  55 “O  Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 

Conclusion

Peterson’s first chapter ends with “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”

Eph 6:13-15 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

Jesus is still calling although Peterson can only see it through a mythical understanding of higher truths.

Matt 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Audra just called and let me know that one person described Jordan Peterson to Andrew Klavan “As the gateway drug to the salvation”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Into Holland

On Monday August 21 we left for Venice from Saint Louis. I am writing about Wednesday September 6 as we head into Holland. We are moving towards Monday September 9 (writing this Dec. 13) when we will board the plane to return home from Amsterdam. I will get my first opportunity to preach in Holland on this trip. I had contacted Pastor Valk in Zwolle the leader of our fellowship in Holland. He was having Pastor Foley preach that Wednesday so he handed me off to Pastor Martin Klok. He was happy to have us but he realized we wanted to hang out an extra day and spend time with them and since he was leaving for Surinam that Thursday; he handed us over to Pastor Peter Majoor in Groningen.

It was kind of cool passing through Zwolle on the train and texting Pastor Foley. We arrived in Groningen and Pastor Majoor met us at the train station. We had a coffee at a Starbucks set inside the station and made our way past the 1000’s of bicycles stacked up around the station. He put us in a nice hotel across from a burned out casino. They picked us up for church.

I have been looking forward to an opportunity to preach in Holland for a while. I like Joseph Conrad’s portrayal of the Dutch culture in his writings. Our fellowship has been abundantly blessed in Holland. But, it was one of my pet theories of life that had me looking forward to this moment. It was August 3,1492 when Christopher Columbus sailed for America with several Jewish connections. It was August 2, 1492 that was the final date for Jews to be out of Spain. Many of those Jews found their way to Holland where they were welcomed much like our later Pilgrims were welcomed. I am a believer that God still honors the Abraham promise and applies it even to today’s Jews: “I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you”. I would recount this in my introduction to my sermon. The wealth, uncountable wealth, that flowed into Spain was used to assert Catholic authority throughout Europe. Holland would be under siege and occupation for too many years. Yet, in the end little Holland (blessed) beats powerful Spain (cursed). I referred to an article about Dutch greenhouse horticulture growing as a leader in worldwide production and distribution. Holland is still operating in that blessing with the fact that I was preaching to a large church of 200 plus people that exemplifies our fellowship’s presence in Holland. We can compare Germany and Croatia to Holland another time.

The next day we would explore the city in the morning with Joan making some Dutch “goodwill” purchases that she was very pleased with. How do you describe the city: bicycles, bicycles, bicycles. The hotel had a great breakfast that we enjoyed both mornings. We met Pastor Peter and his wife for lunch and learned a little bit about their lives and the Dutch Reformed Church. They had pioneered this church and moved on and then finally did a long overseas stint in Peru where they still visit regularly. They were able to return to their first church here in Groningen when they returned from the overseas field. They toured us through the countryside and we stopped for coffee and ice cream. It seems we touched a Dutch love of American pop music from the 60’s and 70’s. Two pleasant people.

The next evening we would visit a sister church in Leeuwarden and Pastor Nomdo Schuitema. We would listen to a fellowship hero in rapper Ernie Toppin. Great service and then had some fellowship at the pastor’s home afterwards. His wife treated us to some nice delicacies. Turned out to be a moment of discovery. First, he turned us on (old 60’s slang) to a youtube channel that had some very cool gospel soul. Here is the link. Talk moved from here to there and it seemed like we were living a 60’s moment where we were talking to learn and discover from each other. Very unusual nowadays. Sparta, life, close to the Lincoln museum. Civil War, Baptists splitting rather than leading the nation in overcoming slavery. Lincoln’s faith. Modern Black Lives Matter. Ernie Topping, a black Jamaican who came to England to succeed and really unable to relate to the rejection and projection of inferiority that American blacks have to overcome. Kind of cool.

The next morning we would backpack to the train station and take the train into Amsterdam. It was a steady rain as we made our way to our hotel. I was content to call it a day, but Joan had dreams of windmills. She had been given the name of a town that had maintained about 10 of over 150 windmills north of the airport. We went into the central station at Amsterdam and caught a train going to our destination. We missed, but tried again and found our way there. Toured the mills and had a nice walk in a mild rain. Made our way back to Amsterdam. One last dinner: Peter and his wife when asked about Dutch food mentioned that Indonesian food had captured Dutch hearts and stomachs. We found a yelped Indonesian restaurant and enjoyed our last meal this side of the Atlantic. And home we came.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment