So this is not original, but comes from famous book “What Colour is Your Parachute” – Richard Bolles.

The final chapter is a spiritual perspective on finding your “mission” in life with an emphasis on Who provides the mission. Fascinating stuff. He presents the mission side of things in three stages which are really intriguing. So I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Your First Mission
Your first mission on earth is to “seek to stand, hour by hour, in the conscious presence of God, the One from whom your Mission is derived”

2. Your Second Mission
The second mission is “to do what you can, moment by moment, day by day and step by step, to make the world a better place, following the leading and guidance of God’s Spirit within you and around you”

3. Your Third Mission
a) To exercise the Talent which you particularly came to earth to use – your greatest gift, which you most delight to use
b) In the place(s) or setting(s) which God has caused to appeal to you the most
c) And for those purposes which God most needs to have done in the world.

The first two Missions are shared by everyone. Which means if you haven’t found the third mission yet, you still have something to get on with. No need to sit around twiddling your thumbs because we all have two missions to do without a lot of soul searching.

I like this theory and I’m going to give it a go. He also emphasises that there is an essential process of self examination that needs to be done before embarking on a career search.

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Let’s face it, no one sticks a giant inflatable Jesus on the front of their house for the Christmas season. No sir, it’s just Santa and the reindeers, some mistletoe, maybe the occasional angel. No one even puts a baby on there to suggest that someone was being born on the day in question.

Not that I really want to sound like one of those boring preachy people who drone on about the “commercialisation of Christmas” ad nauseam and advocate against any kind of fun-having behaviours. I’m all for fun and celebration, wine etc, as I’m sure was Jesus himself.

But I really think it’s worth asking the question. What would He do, if He was to drop into our century for Christmas. Firstly, he would not be in the shopping mall. Actually, if he was to go to a shopping mall, look at the Christmas trees and decorations and listen to some hideous Christmas carols, I’m sure Jesus would be outraged (or quietly contemptuous). What’s more, he’s got his name attached to this dreadful festival which I’m sure was never intended. He might overturn a few tables. Yell at a few moneychangers. I’m sure His encounter with the shopping lunacy would not be pretty.

After that, he might start changing some water into wine for a real celebration somewhere. But he’d be unlikely to restrict this to “just the family”. He’d simply round up everyone who was willing and crowd them onto a large hill probably. He’d then supply loaves and fishes all round and the aforementioned wine. There would be a massive crowd, all listening to some profound wisdoms and eating and drinking. No presents. Not a single Playstation to be seen. We wouldn’t have tedious party hats and plastic favours and dreadful fruit cake. No having to listen to Aunt Whoosie drone on for four hours, because she’d get lost in the crowd and have so many people to bore.

Some of us might get the idea. We might be sitting at our family lunch, opening the zillionth tie or bath gel from our relatives and gaze in surprise at the huge party on the hill. We might invent an excuse “walking off the dinner” to wander over there. Grab some fish and a cup of wine. Chat to the local homeless guy, who thinks it’s Christmas. Sit down with the lonely, the dispossessed and the refugees, sharing the simple feast. Hang out with our friends.

In addition to the feast, Jesus might perform a miracle or two, just to test if we were concentrating. He might cure some illnesses or eradicate a couple of demons. He would possibly create a new parable just for the occasion.

I think it would be fun, if Jesus was here for Christmas.

the illusion of money

November 5, 2006

Really scraping around for an original thought today but I finally got there at 10pm!

Right, well, how does it go again?

Money is an illusion that distracts us from the true value of things. That’s why it’s dangerous. The camel and the eye of the needle etc.

When making decisions remove the money element. If choosing between options imagine that all the options are financially the same, then it’s easier to reach the right conclusion.

It works both ways: sometimes you have to spend more and sometimes less. It’s great to be frugal, not buying things you don’t need and there’s a certain freedom that comes from living with less. However frugality can also lead to hoarding and miser syndrome. It’s also good to be able to let go of the money – either spend a lot on something you really love or give it away to someone who really needs it.

If starting a new business, think about the product you are selling – will it benefit people? Is there a need? Will you enjoy doing this business? Don’t think dollars. Of course it’s very hard not to think dollars in this sense, but think about what you’re actually doing – first.

thanatophobia

November 2, 2006

Here at the white elephant, we are not afraid to tackle the big issues… It’s almost my bedtime here and I am just scraping in with a post on the second day of NaBloPoMo.

So what is thanatophobia? It’s defined as a fear of one’s own death and is apparently very common. Why is it interesting? Because there are so many layers to it.

Firstly, thanatophobia is a form of anxiety. It’s a phobia, which is classed as anxiety. It comes with physical anxiety symptoms such as shortness of breath, increased heart rate, muscle tension, nausea, dizziness etc etc. It can be associated with panic attacks. It’s a fear of something which is at once inevitable but also quite unlikely at any given moment in time. The person is afraid of something which they know is definitely going to happen, but they have no way of knowing when.

Thanatophobia also has an existential, even theological component. If someone is afraid of death, what do they fear? The actual fear must relate to the person’s beliefs about death. What do they think is going to happen to them when they die and why is it so frightening.

Here’s a range of possible beliefs about death:
– nothing happens, you cease to exist (materialist view)
– you may go to heaven or hell, depending on some kind of judgment of your actions in this life (Judeo-Christian view)
– reincarnation (Hindu, Buddhist)
– some people believe in ghosts, or spirits of the dead who somehow just float around the earthly plane making a nuisance of themselves

For those who believe the first option, a fear of death is not very rational. After all if you don’t exist, what does it matter? You won’t be suffering. For Christians, and similar viewpoints, a fear of death could be related to some kind of guilt. You feel you have done wrong and you are going to hell. In that case all that is required is to repent and you’ll be forgiven – easy.

Those who believe in reincarnation may be afraid of their own karma. They may have done wrong and fear a horrible next life. It’s understandable. It’s also understandable for those who believe in spirits or ghosts to feel afraid. Who would want to be floating around forever, feeling cold and scaring people?

I get the feeling that most people with this fear haven’t quite worked out their own beliefs yet. They may be searching, and the fear could be a healthy sign that they are moving towards some kind of spiritual growth.

Some writers (like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Victor Frankl and also in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) emphasise the need to confront one’s own mortality in order to grow or really be able to live well. Death is a necessary step on the road to rebirth in a number of ways, some of which are symbolic. There’s a cycle.

Fear of death could also be related to other problems. It could be due to narcissism (fear of one’s own nonexistence) or fear of the unknown. It could also be related to a death-wish as sometimes we fear what we really desire.

I don’t have thanatophobia and I’m frankly quite unconcerned about the whole thing. I don’t fear death and I don’t pretend to know what is going to happen to me there. I have some kind of faith that tells me it will be OK. But I find the whole thing very interesting.

Heaven and hell

October 24, 2006

I just stole this from someone’s website, here’s the link

There was a man who died and was being taken to heaven by angels. But first, they wanted to show him hell (just for the hell of it I guess).

The angels then took him to a place where there was a great bowl, so great that it was as big as a lake. The bowl was filled with a nutritious stew. All the way around the sides of this bowl were people. Emaciated, starving, miserable people. These people had spoons to eat the stew with, that were long enough to reach it from the shore (about 12 feet). The trouble was, while they could scoop up the stew into the spoon, they could not get it into their mouths because the spoons were so long the stew would fall off before they could get it to their mouths. So here were all these pathetic people, suffering and moaning in agony, constantly trying to eat the food that was abundantly in front of them – all in vain. Next, the angels took the man to heaven. To his surprise, he saw the same scene! There it was, a giant lake-like bowl of the same stew, surrounded by people with 12 foot long spoons. Yet something was different here – all these people were smiling, happy, and healthy looking!

“Why? What is the difference here that these people are happy and well fed?”, the man said to the angels.

They replied, “Have you not eyes to see?”. The man looked more carefully, and observed that one person would scoop up the stew, and bring it to the mouth of another. Then someone else would scoop up stew and feed it to the other.

The angels smiled and said, “Here the people feed each other. Here are the people that learned the way of Love.”

Here’s an idea for a self-help book. The problem with sticking all my ideas up on a blog, is that theoretically anyone could come along and steal one of them. However I guess it’s quite easy to come up with ideas and another thing to put them into practice, so if anyone does write these incredibly clever books, good luck to them!

Anyway, this book would be based on “The Golden Rule” I could start with a description of the various religious scriptures that contain the golden rule (ie Christianity, Islam, confucianism etc) with calligraphy even!

Then an introductory chapter on my interpretation of what the golden rule means and how to apply this to relationships and life.

Then I could have subsequent chapters on, oh anything really. Perhaps a section for community & friendship, another for intimate relationships, one for children etc.

Oh, for those who may not know, the Golden Rule is basically “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “love your neighbour as yourself”.

I would also include a section on loving yourself as it appears to me that it’s included in the Biblical version, but no one talks about it really.

the original church

October 16, 2006

The first Christian church, as described in the Bible:

Acts 2
The Fellowship of the Believers
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 4
The Believers Share Their Possessions
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

Acts 5
Ananias and Sapphira
1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
3Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
9Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
10At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Acts 14
The Return to Antioch in Syria
21They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23Paul and Barnabas appointed elders[a] for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

Acts 15
9 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Acts 20
34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Acts 26
20 I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

Repeat to self, 5 times. I will not watch verdict shows, I will not watch verdict shows… It’s a bit like giving up smoking; if someone told me my children had a greater risk of illness or death because of the shows, I would never watch them. Otherwise it’s difficult. Nothing happens in these shows. They are stupid, they employ ridiculous ham-fisted “suspense” strategies that mean nothing! So why am I watching? Probably because I don’t have anything better to do. On the plus side, we finally got rid of the gormless Joseph, thank the Lord.

Speaking of the Lord. It’s no secret that Christians are over-represented in Idol. Why is this, do we think? I have a couple of theories. One is, many of them go to loony charismatic churches where groovy music is a huge focus and singers are stars. Therefore it’s no surprise that big performers will arise from there. That’s the cynical interpretation. The spiritual interpretation goes something like this. God is the creator and music is God-given. How He chooses to communicate his music is up to Him, and not limited to Christians ; however being a Christian is a good way to be standing in the right queue for the musical gifts. Personally, this is what I believe, even though I run the risk of being a loony Jesus-freak. The third and moderate view is that church (especially happening Southern gospel choirs) is a training ground for many singers, and these even include the likes of Whitney, Elvis and Aretha. Go Mutto, Bobby, Dean, Lavina and anyone else who thanked God.

everything is temporary

August 21, 2006

that’s all I want to say

John 3: 8

July 23, 2006

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”