Monday, May 26, 2014

Godly Visualization vs. Humanistic Visualization

Many of those who teach 'visualization' today teach it in humanistic terms.  The humanistic applications are not built upon wisdom.  

Visualization as taught by humanists revolve mostly around goals, *plans*, hopes, dreams, aspirations, etc.

Planning *is* good....  Pressing on towards the fulfillment of a plan *can be* good (depending on the plan and etc.).  

Planning *does* involve visualization skills.

Any mind which has been inclined to at least consider humanistic teaching regarding visualization will recognize that planning is good and that planning does involve visualization skills.  It can be especially helpful for them to know what the big problem is.....

So what's the big problem?

Humanistic applications make one's own heart, mind, hopes, dreams, *pride*, plans, and/*or* etc. 'the idol(s)' of the day.

While plans are good, humanistic ideals are a dangerous road, idolatry being just one of the major pitfalls, pride being another one.  But that is not all.  There are a plethora of other slippery slopes and even downright blasphemy expressed by many humanistic applications of visualization.  I remember vaguely Mike Wernke, a Christian comedian, jesting about a well known humanist.  He said something like, '"Hey, Michael, come over here and check this one out."...., and they looked down from heaven to see this woman spinning around on a beach saying, "I am god.".... '

Like I said, this humanistic visualization thing can go to the extreme.  That one example of the woman on the beach is obvious, outright blasphemy.

But God does call us to plan, and planning does involve visualization skills (see verses below).

While God does call us to plan - and our plan seems like the 'default' plan to *us* along the way, He also calls us to defer to His plans and direction along the way - which actually reverses the order of the day:

As one wise homeschooling woman shared with newbies back when I was new to the Charlotte Mason mode of homeschooling (this is modified quote....), "Our plan is Plan 'Z', while His plan is Plan 'A'.  When we stubbornly press on with our Plan 'Z', we miss out on His perfect provision for us.  When we try to be sensitive to His leading, and we realize His plan is different than ours, moving from our plan to His should be our goal.  We should even realize that knowing His plan, and willingly changing to His plan at a moment's notice is our calling at any and all times.  If, while we are learning to adjust our plan, yes, while we find ourselves earnestly and diligently moving away from our Plan 'Z', and trying to implement his Plan 'A', we might only get as close as Plan 'B', or even Plan 'E'.  Perhaps that is not ideal, but it is a learning process in which we bear witness to the fact that His plan is always best.  His plan and wisdom is glorified when His plan is contrasted with our meager attempts at knowing what is best.  Furthermore, when we don't quite achieve His Plan A, but He is stretching us & increasing our faith in Him, His grace is magnified.  Through all of this, His ability to keep His promise, that He will work 'all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose", is made clear before us, and thus, that the promise of His Word is also glorified.  In the meantime, it is useful and good for us to consider what our (homeschool) day should look like.  We should pray over it, have a general sense of what is right and wrong, what should *typically* be accomplished, search the scripture for general and even specific guidance (most of which is understood through visualization skills), make specific lists as needed, and ...... etc., but those things which we are set upon *even during prayer* are not the end goal.  Following His leading to adjust our plans to fit more fully with His plan IS the goal, because that brings glory to Him."

So, the ideal in this earth is that we make our plans (which are visualizations - either concrete or abstract visualizations, either specific or general, etc.), and then we alter from our plan to His plan in order to glorify Him.

In so doing, He contrasts our feeble efforts at making plans with His wisdom and foresight in establishing a righteous path.

When we fall short of His perfect will (and according to Romans 12, we are supposed to be able to discern His perfect will), His grace and creative force to use *everything* for good, is glorified.

Yes, our ability to visualize and plan is powerful in many ways - He designed us that way.  We are, after all, made in His image.

But, our ability to visualize a plan is not as powerful as His wisdom.  

A good steward will defer to God's plans, stopping or turning on a dime whenever called upon by God to do so.


Such are some of the lessons in comparing and contrasting the wisdom of man (humanistic visualizations) with the wisdom of God (God's intended purpose for our ability to visualize..... a gift He gave to us for our good and for His glory).


That said, those of us who are challenged in this area of visualization, and who also seek God for His solutions to our built-in, inherent weakness, are perhaps more inclined and even driven to understand visualization in terms of scripture.

Visualization/Planning/Goal-setting/*using-visual-skills* is not something which is often taught specifically from the pulpit, but it is something which, to those who take a closer look:

Contrasts God's *glory* via godly visualization/plans with man's *glory* via humanistic visualization/plans.


If you doubt whether plans & even hopes do naturally express themselves in the human mind using 'visualization skills', just ask any neuropsych and/or anyone who struggles with visualization skills.

Plans are a terrible struggle for those who do not naturally visualize (or who only naturally visualize a few kinds of things, which explains why some people, say, Asperger-minded-people, hyper-focus on one subject......: they hyper-focus on the main subject that they can visualize best for one reason or another.... and yes, there are many things which impact what someone can or cannot *naturally/easily* visualize.....).

More specifically, ask anyone who struggles with visualization skills how easy it is to follow a *plan* with multiple step directions without the capacity to visualize........... (and there are quite a few of us who have had to either learn to compensate for the lack of ability to visualize, *or* who have learned to visualize in spite of the way we are built).......

You think that simply making a list can take care of the struggle for everyone???  Well, I've seen lists be a great burden to the visually challenged.  

Visualization, 'making plans', 'setting goals', and even following such plans, IS a visual skill involving visualization.


Verses that come to mind regarding making plans:

"The mind of a man plans his steps, but the Lord directs his steps." Prov. 16:9 (NASB)  --------------  [it is right and good for man to plan his steps (think of a visual map, and outline, a list, etc...........)  it is important not to worship any man's plan........... again, it is important to switch our plan out for His. Such is the stewardship and purpose of man.  Many old chatachisms' first question is, "What is the purpose of man?" and the first answer in response is, "To glorify God."........ this process of making plans, but following His lead, showing forth His wisdom is one important way to glorify God and fulfill our purpose/stewardship......]

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace." Luke 14:28-33 (ESV)  [think of a visual, drawn out blueprint, a battleplan - either in the sand representing what is *seen*, or a more elaborate battleplan on a 3-D map with scale sized tanks, etc.; a written estimate, verbal/written covenents/contracts....., let alone lists being modified because the 'planner' has been busy envisioning various types of problems that might arise, such as weather delays, illness-injury of workers, unexpected inflation, etc. all of which a building-plan should take into account - and those who can visualize potentialities are best at this..., again, visualization is a powerful tool given to man by God....., God designed that capacity..., and those of us who struggle with that 'ideal design' understand how very, very valuable to power of 'visualization' is]

The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way (if one is walking out a path of stepping stones in the water, or even in life...... one does best by looking ahead), but the folly of fools is deceiving (oh, yeah, sure, *I* can handle that leap onto that slippery stone with my wet feet....., or...., "I don't need a witness to this transaction", ..... etc.). Prov. 14:8 (ESV)

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17 (ESV)  -----  [sometimes 'the right thing' is clear cut and can be described verbally - though there is a related 'picture', even if it is an abstraction; but sometimes, 'the right thing' is only clear if one looks ahead and 'counts the costs', and/or etc., to realize what types of issues are likely to arise as one proceeds down a specific path - - - - any good steward will be looking ahead....]

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5 (ESV)  [which definitely directs us to understand that what we visualize, hope, desire, etc. is not to be our God]

More related verses can be found here:


But perhaps the most powerful verse in wrangling with the idea of future plans and visualization might have been given to us through the pen of Paul:

"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet, but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead......"  Phil 3:13 

We know what lies ahead in various ways:  promises of God, the calling of God (Great Commission, etc.), etc.

Some of those promises, callings, and etc. which we have received from God have been described in 'descriptive' language.

Descriptive language is designed to build a picture in our mind.

Scriptural promises are 'seen through a glass darkly', but they are still 'seen' through that glass.

Pressing on towards those visual pictures produced by the Word of God is actually one of the scripturally mandated ways of being led by God.  [So, upon further study of the Word of God which contrasts humanistic verses Godly visualization, growing in Godly visualization becomes a clearer objective for the believer, for stewards of the promises, for stewards of the Word of God, who are to keep it, and cherish it, and be directed by it.]

Some of those scriptural promises have been described in 'narrative' language.

That narrative language is also designed to build a picture in our mind - more of a moving picture, or a 'movie' - and yes, those 'visual pictures' are also 'seen through a glass darkly' as well.......  

Whether we see 'darkly' or not, it is still 'seen'...... 'seen through they eyes of faith, hope, and love.'

Again, pressing on towards those visual *moving* pictures produced by the Word of God is actually one of the scripturally mandated ways of being led by God.  And again, contrasting Godly visualization with humanistic visualization is a powerful way to compare and contrast God's ways with man's ways........, bringing glory and honor to Him again and again and again.


Ya know, some people are so in love with God, and so in love with His Word, and are so naturally inclined to visualize, that they do much of this without knowing it ..... all as a matter of faith, hope, and love.....

But then, some of us are not so naturally inclined to visualize, and we stumble along for lack of knowledge, until specific knowledge is brought to our attention.

Some people are more inclined to one type of sin than another......, where I am weak - the only solution is to rely on Him....... and then???....., He is made strong.  His strength is made evident ......... His strength is glorified.

Where someone else is weak, as they rely on Him, He is made strong.  His strength is made evident.  His strength is glorified. 


As for 'future' visions, various denominations interpret the following differently, so I'll not comment on its various interpretations, but I will still offer it for your prayerful consideration: 

"'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."  Acts 2:17

Aside from denominational interpretations, one can still recognize that, at some times in history, in some places of the world, in some peoples' lives, God intends/ed for 'visions' and 'dreams' (both of which are 'visualizations') to have a marked, powerful, and good purpose.

Again, Godly applications of the natural skill of visualization contrasts dramatically with the humanistic ideals of visualization.


God's ideal design of man includes visualization skills.  He has built that ability into the 'neurologically typical mind' (sorry, 'NT' is a term used in circles where we try to grapple with life without 'NT' abilities - I hope and trust its meaning translates over well for you???).  

The ability to visualize and press on towards something that has been visualized is God established.

Any ability that we have should be used for His purposes and to further His glory.

[For anyone wishing to know more about the academic side of visualization skills, here is a brief overview:  Nanci Bell's, and/or less specifically but more richly and broadly, Charlotte Mason's approach to teaching visualization in both spelling and *reading comprehension* is hugely powerful for individuals who do not present with the natural ability to visualize.    If any of you are thinking in your own mind...., "Hmmmm, that sounds like myself and/or my spouse or a child I now and love, and you'd like to know more, contact me offlist."  --  Seeing the powerful changes in the lives of those who begin learning to visualize both academically, and in making plans (such as the verse about building a building) helps underscore the importance and power behind the *ability*, and *application* of both academic and *godly* visualization skills.]

One last example and I'll leave off:  

Many a young student who plans to go to college accidentally arrives there, and one can get there by faith alone; that said, most students should also visualize the path by which they can enter college.  All their efforts in achieving those goals will be greatly advanced....., 

.........but then again, he must not be led by his plan, but by His plan - or he risks the possibility that 'God will not know his ways', for God 'does not know the way of the ungodly' (Psalm 1).

May we seek to know Him and His way better and better each and every day.......

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