"Come Up Here!"

5th  Position to the Lord

Bob Bodenhamer, D.Min.

 John the Revelator had reached his twilight years.  He had served his Lord faithfully. What was his reward? He found himself exiled on the Island of Patmos as a slave to Rome. Patmos is a small (about sixteen square miles) rocky island in the Aegean Sea some forty miles west-southwest of Miletus.  It served as a penal settlement to which Roman authorities sent offenders. Apparently the Roman authorities did not appreciate John's preaching and exiled him an an attempt to arrest the growth of the early Church. Even though quite elderly by now, John may have found himself working in the rock quarries of the island.  In any case, it wasn't the best of situations for an elderly gentleman.  But, while on that Island, John received a revelation and the book of Revelation records that vision.  

 As a NLPer, I asked myself the question, how did John mentally and spiritually survive such drastic conditions?  I have asked myself this same question of the Apostle Paul who while in prison said, " I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:11). How did Paul find such contentment while in prison? Of course, the "frames" he set around himself helped immensely.  Consider the "frame" that he wrapped himself around as he expressed it in Philippians 3:7-11:

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Any Christian that wraps his or her life around such a higher-level frame (meta-level) creates the necessary thought-feelings to survive most hardships. 

 But can we find more concerning the giants of faith in the Scriptures? I have found that not only can we find more but NLP gives us the "tools" to understand how to replicate the "structure" of their spirituality within the framework of our own minds.  Maybe 2 Corinthians 12:2 gives us a suggestion:  "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven." How did Paul in the flesh experience the "third heaven?" Well how did Paul get to the third heaven?  Does NLP provide some secrets for us to understand the "how to" of Scripture? Yes, most definitely it does and nine years of teaching NLP and doing therapy has proven beyond a shadow of doubt in my mind that NLP offers the Christian many "how to's" in replicating the experiences of men like the Apostle Paul and John.

  In our User's Manual for the Brain: The Complete Manual for Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner Certification Michael and I discuss the extremely useful NLP Perceptual Position's Model. This model gives us some major clues in replicating Paul and John's experiences as well as other giants of the faith.

Perceptual Positions 
The realization that we humans operate from three basics ways of looking at experience offers tremendous potential in state control and in the enhancing of our communication. In NLP we refer to these ways as being the first, second and third perceptual positions. When you associate into your own body, you live in first position. This permits you to look at the world from your own viewpoint. In the first position, you do not take into account anyone else's position. You simply think, "How does this conversation or communication affect me?"

 Second position means you walk in the other person's shoes. You take into consideration how a communication or event would look, feel and sound from another person's point of view. In the second position, you imagine yourself entering the other person's body. In this position you imagine looking at yourself through their eyes. What do you look like, sound like and what feelings do you get from the other person's viewpoint of you? In the second position you develop the ability in experiencing empathy. This position gives much flexibility when involved in conflict with someone. From the second position you can appreciate how they feel about your conversation and behavior. Build rapport before going second position. And, by going second position, notice how the rapport deepens. Second position offers an extremely valuable model in deepening rapport.

 Third position offers a way of dissociating from the entire event or conversation. In the third position you become an independent observer. Third position allows us to operate from the position of objectivity. Ask yourself, "How would this conversation or event look to someone totally uninvolved?" Imagine yourself being out of your body and off to the side of the conversation between you and the other person. You can see both yourself and the other person.

Recent NLP literature offers two additional Perceptual Positions to the first three. We give them here:

The Fourth Perceptual Position  
Dilts (1997) specified the Fourth Perceptual Position in his Visionary Leadership Skills manual. He defined the Fourth Position as “We” --from the perspective of the system. In this position, we have “associated in the perspective of the whole system.” To take fourth position, step aside and adopt the perspective of the whole system so that you can there consider what would contribute to the best interest of the system. A linguistic format for this position goes: “If we consider our common goals…”

 The Fifth Perceptual Position  
Atkinson (1997) in an unpublished manuscript entitled “Five Central Ideas” suggests another perceptual position--“an universal perceptual position.” This results from applying the universal quantifiers (all, always) to our perspective. Doing so “springboards us to the valuable idea of a universal perceptual position.” (p. 24). This provides the widest and largest level perspective of all.

 By taking this meta-position to everything, we can then learn to take on multiple perceptual positions and even change rapidly between them. Doing so increases our flexibility of consciousness so that we don’t get stuck in any one position.

 This may involve “over-viewing through time”--seeing things as they progress through and over time. None of these positions offer a superior position to the other. Each position has equal importance. The wise communicator knows how to move at will from one position to the other.    

 I have found as have members of my church, my students and my clients, that this "Fifth Perceptual Position" provides a clue as to how we can access and activate the power of God in our life as we deal with the challenges of life. In Revelation 4:1 we read, "After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.'" Note the Lord's invitation: "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." Well, from our knowledge of NLP, we know how to do that. We just simply dissociate and go up and be with the Lord to the "fifth position."

  In the fifth perceptual position we take a meta-position to the entire universe. The Christian can go there but by going to the Creator God of the universe and position ourselves with him this in turn "activates" all the thought-feelings of our higher level beliefs and values.  And, in my belief system, we in fact give the Holy Spirit permission to work in our lives as we have dissociated out of our feelings that tend to confuse our decision making.  

 A few years ago my small group at church went through the excellent Southern Baptist Convention discipleship program called Experiencing God by Henry Blackerby.  In one of the video's, Henry explained how he  survived emotionally when his daughter received a cancer diagnoses. On the blackboard, Henry drew a picture of him being down here and the Lord being above him. He said he "went up" and joined the Lord and looked down at himself and his situation from the Lord's perspective (the fifth perceptual position - see Figure 1:1 below). Henry Blackerby discovered something wonderful--the ability of the human brain to go "meta" and to dissociate and to mentally go wherever it wants to go including being in the presence of the Lord.  So, could we not say that mentally placing ourselves in the presence of the Lord is "practicing the presence of Jesus?"

Figure 1:1

 When I take that position my blood pressure drops 10 points immediately. My wife's blood pressure drops 15 points immediately. Now, talk about a place for healing and restoration--that is the fifth perceptual position with the Lord.  

 So, here we have John exiled on the Island of Patmos and there he received an invitation to leave this place of "persecution" and go up and spend some time with Jesus.  And, the Apostle Paul found himself ushered into the "third heaven." Likewise, you can as well leave the pains, hurts, grief's, depressions, etc. of this life and go visit a while with Jesus (or stay as long as you wish).  From that position with the Lord, you can choose to "let go" of your negative emotions, obtain a "word from the Lord" and change the meanings and perceptions of your present that best reflect your spiritual values and beliefs.  You can from that position with the Lord, create a future that glorifies the Lord and that will encourage you for :Where there is no vision, the people perish..." (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). 

 By "dissociating" out of this present world and "associating" with the Lord on His throne, He empowers us to "reframe" our present life by letting go of old hurts, forgiving others and "empowering" our present with His love and power.  Try it, imagine yourself now in the presence of the Lord. Just mentally leave your body and go "up there" and be with Him. And, once there with Him see yourself down here. From that position with Him, can you hold anger, bitterness, depression, hurt, etc?  I cannot for that violates my basic beliefs about the nature of God. And, these basic beliefs about God that I hold operate "meta" or above my primary states of hurt, anger, depression, etc and in fact "evaporate" such negative thinkings.

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Read Reverend Paula Allen's utilization of Perceptual Positions in her personal devotions. She entitles it "Conversations with God - Christ in Me".

1999 Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D. Min. and L. Michael Hall, Ph.D. All rights reserved.