Synthetic Reality

Following my recent series of posts on Words that Control Us I am now extending the concept to the matter of synthetic reality.

A set of words can invoke a sense of reality in our minds and even bind us as surely as if we were in chains of iron.  Yet that reality is synthetic.  It is synthesised from something other than reality and takes on tangible form in our thinking.

Consider Titles of Office.  One person is called a manager and another is called a janitor.  But they were both born naked and will take nothing out of this world.  The titles describe their responsibilities, but those titles also convey as sense of status and importance, and even a sense of the worthiness of the bearer.

Artificial Persons

Consider artificial persons.  A corporation is only a piece of paper with a name on it.  If no living man or woman turned up to sell or invest their energy into the corporation it would be powerless.  Yet many of us think of corporations as more powerful than the whole community put together.

Imagine having to fight a global, multi-national corporation, or the World Bank, or whatever.  The thought is a disturbing one, because we think of that entity as having great power.  But the entity is actually a fiction.  It is something that was made up in someone’s mind and then put on a piece of paper.  If all the employees went home it would lie dormant.

Immersion in Fantasy

Ps Chris Ong recently prompted my cogitations along these lines in a sermon about how people get carried away with pure fantasy.  People immerse themselves in books, movies, games, virtual realities and fanciful ideas with great zeal these days.

Yet the fantasy world was simply made up in the mind of a writer who created mental images that delight us.  There is no true substance or worth in the fantasy world, except to distract and entertain.

Think of such popular fictional realities as Narnia, Helms Deep and the Shire, made popular by recent movies of people’s fictional writings.  Or consider the new world of blue avatars that has now become part of western mythology.

However, no matter how compelling that world is, and how much we can immerse ourselves in it, or in books about it, or in books about books about it, it has no substance.  It is as shallow as a dream that passes or an imagination that dances in the mind but has no bearing on anything.

TV Ads

I am not a consumer of commercial television and so I was interested to see some recent television commercials in which absolutely fantastic worlds or animated (but real looking) transformations take place.  It seems that the world has become addicted to the super-real, “nothing like this has been seen before” imagery.

However, while synthetic reality has become ubiquitous today, people who know how to encounter and deal with the “real” world are possibly fewer, as people become distracted with the worlds of fantasy.

A top gamer, or one who reads commentaries on the commentaries of someone else’s imaginary world, or one who escapes to the false worlds created in books and movies, cannot build their real world experience on such things.

An Old Problem

Synthetic reality is not new.  Notions of a hero, alter ego identity through which people have vicarious experiences (movie stars, sports heroes, rich and famous) is not new.  Identification with a sports team, star personality, powerful corporate entity, etc gives people a sense of vicarious virtue that is synthetic.

The Illusion of Image

And consider the world’s addiction to “image”.  Image is also a synthetic reality.  The notion is that by improving the image, by style, fashion, plastic surgery, attitude, etc, one can change the reality of who they are.

The statement was made of American Christians that they have as many problems as Christians in any other place, but have learned to slick up their image.  That improved image, of personal presentation, body language, power dressing, etc, masks insecurities, shame, fear, guilt, pride, emptiness, etc, that may be more apparent in other, less dressed up cultures.  But the reality is not different, despite the synthetic reality being projected.

Vain Imagination

Illusions in the mind can be vain imagination, and that can all be a “stronghold” in the mind that is a high thing exalting itself against God and truth.  It can also be a lie that seduces and entraps you with imaginary chains that work as powerfully as real ones.

Illusions of grandeur, fantasies about who and what you are, escape from reality, retreat from real interaction through escapist preoccupations, day dreaming, prejudicial labelling, preconceived notions of what is and what can be, fascination with image, addiction to worldly values, these are all elements of a vain imagination.

In the Mind

The Apostle Paul identified the root of this problem two thousand years ago.  The problem is in the mind, but it’s not merely a mental problem.  Thoughts in our head take on spiritual power that enslaves us.

Paul advised that we need spiritual weapons, not human techniques, to pull down “strongholds” in our mind.  We know the strongholds are in our mind because Paul then lists three descriptions of what makes up the strongholds, and the list includes “imaginations” and “thought”.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds😉  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” 2Corinthians 10:3-5

Taking Thought

Those who preach metaphysics suggest that natural man has the power to change his thoughts and thus change their life.  They even base this claim on the Bible, quoting such verses as “as a man thinks so is he”.

But don’t be deceived by the Mind Worship delusions.  They are a vain imagination.

Look again at what Paul said.  The weapons we need to deal with the issues in our mind are not “carnal”.  That means they are not of flesh and blood.  You are not capable of breaking the strongholds in your mind by natural means, including by trying to guide your thoughts.

You need supernatural weapons to pull down those strongholds, and destroy those imaginations and thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.

And remember the words of Christ when He said, “Who by taking thought can add one inch to his height?”

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?” Matthew 6:27

Don’t fall into mind worship of give your life to chanting mantras about how you are getting better and better every day.  That stuff is fleshly.  It is “carnal”.  And carnal weapons don’t work on strongholds in the mind.

Rely on Truth

One of the spiritual weapons at our disposal is Truth.  Truth sets people free.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

Now, once again, don’t be fooled by people who say that if you read their book you will know the truth.  Truth is not just some supposedly factual information.  Truth is a person.  Jesus Christ identified Himself by the name “Truth”.

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

When you allow the truth of God’s Word and the truth about who Jesus is, as revealed in the first four books of the New Testament (the Gospels), you will be releasing the power of truth into your life to pull down strongholds in your mind.

The Matrix Allegory

In the first Matrix movie we see a chap named Neo learn how to live outside the illusions forced upon his mind by others.  Christians immediately saw in that story an allegory for the freedom we have in Christ to be able to live free from the lies of Satan, the deceptions of the world and the deceitfulness of sin.

And we see that allegory also hinted at in Alice in Wonderland, where Alice rejects the beliefs and impositions of Wonderland and will not let them dictate who and what she is.

The Bible puts it as resisting the devil.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Your Reality

Who is dictating your reality?  Do you choose to believe whatever you think best indulges your self will?  Or do others force a perception of the world and how you fit into it onto your life?

Have you been deceived?  If you were deceived how would you even know?  Have you ever been set free from a wrong idea?  If not how do you know how to discern truth from lie?

Are the labels used to identify you accurate or are they chains to tie you down?

What does God say about you?  His Word is truth and what the Bible says about you is something you really should pay attention to.

Are you living in vain imagination?  Have fantasy thoughts seduced you and drawn you away from living in the real world where you can actually achieve real benefit as God created you to?

You may not have thought about these issues before, so get onto it right now!

Blaming Others

A problem that emerges in most relationships involves upsets between two or more people.  Having wisdom about those upsets and what is really going on thus becomes very powerful in making those relationships work better.

A tell-tale sign of wrong attitudes in relationships is that process of blaming others.  Accusing and blame shifting are common practices when people are in tension about something.

We are all familiar with the example of a mother calling out in an angry tone, “Who brought this mud into the house?”

And we are all familiar with the chorus of voices saying, “It wasn’t me!”

Getting upset, and doing what we can to avoid trouble are two automatic processes that often get built into our interpersonal communications.

Properly Interpret What is Going On

When we have an idea about something we can be very reluctant to change our mind.  This is especially so if the new perspective suggests we are wrong or have a problem.

The whole “blame shifting” routine kicks in if someone tries to suggest that we are a cause of trouble.  We don’t like to be wrong and we don’t like to be accused, or exposed for our weaknesses.

In highly competitive contexts we may be very strong in asserting our innocence or trying to cover up our failures.

These human tendencies, based on our pride, become deeply ingrained and some people become famous for their readiness to accuse others or to make up excuses.  For example, alcoholics are famously recognised for their ability to cover for their addiction and failures.

It is important for our own health and the health of our relationships that we properly interpret what is going on in our relationships.

Different Perspectives

Consider the difference in perspective that could be applied in the following statements.

“You often upset me and it takes me days to get over it.”

Or alternatively it might be more accurate to say: “I get into moods about things and take days to get over it.”

“You upset me so you must be wrong.”

This might be better stated as: “I get upset by you, so there is something about my reactions that is not right.”

The Real Issues

Since our true “issues” are not what others do or say but how we react, then it is wrong for us to blame others for the mood we are in, or for our responses.  It is what comes out of us that defines the “issues” we have to deal with.

In an earlier article titled Issues of Life, posted on 1/10/11, I discussed a powerful Bible text that exposes what the real issues are in our lives.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

This verse tells us that the real “issues” of our life are not what people say or do to us, but what comes out of our heart.  Our responses and reactions define the issues, and in fact ARE the true issues.

Natural Impulse

When a parent gets upset with his or her child, when a husband or wife gets upset with their spouse, or a child is upset by their sibling, the automatic assumption is that the other person is wrong because it seems to the one who is upset that the other person caused it.

It is counter-intuitive to think that we are upset because of our own choices and the weaknesses of our own personality.

Yet the Biblical truth is that it is what comes out of us that is the problem, not what was said or done to us.

What happens to us could well be injustice and wrong.  I am not saying that if we are abused it is our fault.  People hurt and offend others and we all suffer at the hands of others in some way.

This discussion is about the tendency we have to get into a mood, or some other form or “reaction” toward another, that is really our own responsibility.

Touchy People

Some people have a “hair-trigger” and readily react toward others. They are so ‘touchy’ that others have to walk on egg-shells in order to avoid being at the receiving end of a tirade from that upset person.

This is the substance of manipulation, oppression, abuse of others, control, emotional abuse, imposing self-will onto others, belittling, etc.

People who indulge in such activity are out of order.  They have “issues” in their own heart and mind.  However they may be able to justify their outbursts, accusations, anger, sharp tongue or other attacks on others without realising they are the oppressor, not the one they are blaming.

Loving Others

This self-delusion, while intuitive, is destructive and a failure to “love others” and to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, which is the Golden Rule given to us by Jesus Christ.

“As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

In fact, it may be that a central purpose of the two great commandments, to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbour as ourself, is to force us to realisations that we would be blind to if we thought the world revolved around us.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30,31

Maybe God’s intention in giving us His laws is not to enslave us to His will, but to lead us into revelation truth about ourselves that will set us free from folly and shame.

So, next time you hear yourself expressing your exasperation, disapproval, anger, frustration, resentment, jealousy, contempt, prejudice, unforgiveness, intolerance, demands, despisement and similar rubbish toward someone else, even if only in your thoughts, stop and realise that YOU HAVE “ISSUES”.

By reflecting on what you are thinking and why you are doing it you can be led into health and release you don’t presently have.

Example

In my family seminars I share the account of my early married life when I found myself readily annoyed and frustrated with my first-born son, Stephen.  Susan and I were parents shortly before our fist wedding anniversary and had three children born in short order.

One day I realised that I was particularly hard toward my oldest son, and much more lenient toward the two other boys.  It struck me that I was being unfair on him.  For some reason I caught myself out being biased against him when it came to rebuke and discipline.

I could justify my reactions by saying, “He’s the oldest so he should know better”, but I sensed there was a deeper issue at work.

I prayed about the matter, confessing my evident bias and asking God to show me what was wrong and what to do.

As I reflected on the situation it struck me that I resented my son.  He was the first baby and therefore the first child to take my wife away from me.  Susan had to care for the baby, and she had various health challenges along the way.  A baby completely changed our married life and reduced our time together and or intimacy.  Unconsciously I held Stephen responsible for how that impact on me.

Having realised the impact of a baby I was far less reactive to the impact of my next two sons.  So my “issue” was only with Stephen.

Once I realised that situation I was able to pray about it, confessing my selfish responses and attitudes, asking God to forgive me and to heal my heart attitude toward my son.

Some time later I realised to my delight that I had a fresh relationship with my son.  I did not feel any of the hardness of heart that had been there before and I enjoyed him as I had not been able to before.

Set Free by Truth

My experience is a testimony to the veracity of God’s Word, which tells us that when we know truth that truth liberates us.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

So I share these insights with you, in the trust that you will refer back to God’s Word and allow God’s Truth to settle in your heart and set you free.

Your problem, as is common to all humanity, is that we will prefer to believe a lie, if it gives hides our pride, lust, self-will and shame.  You will tend to justify your actions, including your selfish and angry responses to others.  You will like the idea that THEY are to blame, not you.

I can only pray that the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you, to change your heart and cause you to step into the wonderful freedom that is available to you.

Truth Video – Where Does Your Truth Come From

Where you look for truth will impact what kind of “truth” you come up with.
The question “Where Does Your Truth Come From?” has profound import in determining who you are and where you are going.

There are some things which appear to be “truth” or “wisdom”, but are devilish deceptions to enslave you to natural thinking and the limitations of mankind.
Chris Field presents this important question with his usual candour and easy-to-understand commentary.

Other Videos by Pastor Chris Field include ….

SEXUALITY VIDEO“Sacred Nakedness” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/sacred-nakedness-video

MARRIAGE VIDEO“What is Marriage?” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/what-is-marriage-video

MARRIAGE VIDEO“50-50 Marriage?” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/50-50-marriage-video

MANHOOD VIDEO“The Manhood Call” http://chrisfieldblog.com/manhood/manhood-call-video

MANHOOD VIDEO“Sacrificial Purpose of Men” http://chrisfieldblog.com/manhood/sacrificial-man-video

PARENTING VIDEO“Heart of a Child” http://chrisfieldblog.com/parent/heart-of-child-video

PARENTING VIDEO“Godly Seed” http://chrisfieldblog.com/parent/godly-seed-video

PARENTING VIDEO“Child Discipline” http://chrisfieldblog.com/parent/child-discipline-video

God is the Substance

A world without God is an oxymoron. It is God who gives substance to all things. This is especially so in reference to things we readily recognise as moral in character.

Imagine a World Without God

John Lennon tried to conceive of a world without God. I suspect that he really wanted a world without consequences, such as heaven and hell. That was the focus of his Imagine song. So let’s take Johnny’s suggestion and do what he asks. Let’s ‘imagine’ a world where God does not exist. Then let’s see what happens to everything else.

Imagine Truth Without God

Let’s assume there is no God. Someone comes along and tells you something that they assert is the ‘truth’. What do they mean? Are they telling you the truth or not? By what empirical reference point can you test the validity and veracity of what they say?

They assert something to be true. Is it true in a universal sense, or only true in their perception? Is it a fact that has been tested or is it only assumed to be true? Are they lying?

To address those questions we need to answer the question, “Where does truth come from?” Is truth a matter of human perception? “I saw something so I know it to be true.” But did you see clearly? Many a witness has been shown to be unreliable in their assertion that “I saw it with my own eyes!”

If God does not exist then we only have human perception to rely on, and that’s unreliable! Human resourced truth can only be relative to the perceptions of the humans involved. It has not more reliable anchor point. Truth then ceases to be truth and becomes opinion or belief.

Imagine Justice Without God

In a world without God what is the measure of justice? Is it “the common good”? That could be terribly unjust to those who sit outside the social mean. Is it what some leader thinks is good? That is so open to abuse that it is frightening. Tyrants love to determine justice on that basis.

And just what is ‘justice’ in a world where there is no external reference point? If you believe you have been treated unjustly how do you appeal against it? You are reduced to popular public opinion. If you have more money or talent or skill than others they just might turn against you and decide it is ‘just’ for you to work, achieve and earn on behalf of all of them. But that would seem quite unjust, wouldn’t it?

If someone is seeking revenge for their loss are they likely to stop when exact justice has been achieved, or are they likely to act in spite, bitterness, retaliation or the like?

Justice falls apart unless there is an external moral reference point. And that’s what God provides for us, quite apart from His reality and power and love made available to us.

Imagine Morality Without God

If there is no God then who or what determines what is moral or not. There are millions of people ready to justify their immoral behaviour, even in a world where God and His Word are clearly presented. Imagine what a free-for-all it would be if God was not there at all!

What makes something moral? Is it because it doesn’t hurt someone? God tells us of secret attitudes and thoughts which He deems to be immoral (such as lust), even though no-one gets hurt. Is it because all those who participate do so of their own will? God shows that many actions are evil, even if the whole nation votes in favour of them. The inhabitants of Sodom all agreed on their behaviour, but God did not.

If God’s moral reference was removed people would do evil, justify their actions, promote evil among others and even aim to subvert the morals of others. There are many tools already in use today to subvert people’s morals, offending their sensibilities and arousing their lusts, so they will succumb to immoral behaviour. God is the only hope we have for maintaining morality.

My Old Mate (‘Buddy’ in US speak)

I once had connection to a chap who turned out to be a talented rip-off merchant. He often bragged about his various exploits and the way he took advantage of other people. True to character he did the same to me.

After several appeals for proper recompense my old mate was quite clearly intent on taking advantage of me and many others. Taking him to court would have been a vexing issue, as he was well acquainted with the courts and had many connections to assist him to use the courts to his advantage. The matter was not of sufficient consequence to warrant the dubious process of legal action. That’s what he hoped would be the case with each of his victims.

My wife, Susan, found herself quite aroused by this man’s actions. She made it a matter of prayer and then told me that she was concerned for the man. She wondered whether we should even call on him to warn him. She came to realise just how severe God’s judgement, justice and moral standards would be when applied to this clever rogue. His ability to play human instrumentalities would do him no good at all when God decided to look into his case.

Existence Without God

Many people, like my old mate, imagine a world without God. They make up their own truth, twist justice to suit themselves and work by their own morality. But God is not amused, nor is He required to sit back and watch.

Existence without God is a misnomer. There is no existence outside of God. And there is no morality apart from His. There is no truth outside of Jesus Christ, because He is truth. There is no justice outside of God’s judgements. We will all eventually face the judgement seat of Christ.

It is better to be judged in the here and now, so we can repent and attain God’s forgiveness, than to live this life as if God did not exist. Once we pass from this life without repenting we face an existence without God. That’s not some clever place of human freedom. It is an eternal torment of physical pain and mental regret.

I Wish You Judgement

Those who hate you may wish you every success in life, so you will pass into eternity with unresolved judgement resting on your head. Those who love you will warn you and pray that you face God’s dealings in this life, to alert you to what is to come. Once forewarned you are empowered to do something about it, through repentance and God’s forgiveness.

In the spirit of that observation, let me tell you that I wish you judgement. May it be the blessing of your eternal existence.

‘Dreaming’ About Australia

I have pointed out recently that our world now suffers from the New Dreaming, where people believe things without any basis in fact, and they try to build their life on those beliefs. At the same time there are those who exploit the ignorance of today’s dreamers with mythologies that cause phantasms to dance through dreaming heads. The stupor that is created is a threat to the very way we live.

New Dreaming is seen in Australia in the Republican debate. Strident efforts have been made now for several decades to delude the uninformed Australian citizenry into thinking our Constitution is flawed and needs to be overturned in favour of something new.

A number of deceptive notions are embedded in this debate and much of the Australian populace is too ill-informed to detect the way they are being played for fools. So let’s take a moment to consider the advice of our current Head of State, Australian Governor-General Michael Jeffery.

“What I do emphasise very strongly is that before people can make an informed decision on better ways of governing ourselves – including perhaps whether we go to a republic or not – you’ve got to have a good understanding of how your present system works, its strengths and weaknesses.”

“Without question our system has worked very well for over 100 years. That’s not to say that we can’t do better, but we won’t do better unless people understand where they have come from if they are looking at where they want to go.”

“If they’re going to take a plunge out there simply because they think it’s a good thing to do, without understanding the subtleties, nuances and the ramifications, then we have the potential to make a big mistake.” (Quoted from News.com.au, written by Doug Conway – http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23586774-1702,00.html)

Here, here. The good Major General knows only too well that Australian’s are ignorant of their own constitution and the realities of their present governmental structure. The public is ripe for exploitation and happy to be duped in this debate.

Aussies are frequently reminded that they are tied to the monarchy of England. Just about all Aussies are sure that is the case, and so some like the idea of moving away from that connection. The link to England is presented as a vestigial construct overdue for surgical removal.

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, dated April 23, about Australia’s first female Governor General, the whole notion of our link to England is a furphy. It is a lie. It has no basis in fact. As far back as one year after Australia was constituted as a nation it was realised that the Australian Governor General is commissioned by the Australian Constitution to act independently of the English Monarchy. The Australian Governor General is the true, Aussie Head of State.

Australians do not need a Republic. They do not need to sever their constitutional links to the English Monarchy. Those links simply do not exist. And don’t take my word for it. Read what Sir David Smith, a retired public servant who spent many years working with Australian Governors General, has uncovered on the subject. The link to his article is: http://www.monarchist.org.au/smith3.htm

The New Dreaming includes all manner of ideas propagated as truth to people who have lost all foundation for what reality is. Arrogant people are asserting themselves upon a lost society, vying for devotees to their favoured mythology, and initiates to affirm their self-proclaimed guru status.

Truth is greater than the lie, to the degree that God is above all else and Jesus Christ is triumphant over the devil. The lie is not to be feared, but it is to be exposed and it is to be dispelled. This is best done, by exalting the person who is ‘Truth’. It is supported by building the kingdom belonging to the one bearing that title. Please join me in building the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.