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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.


The Phrases that Define Divine Providence

Abby identifies some commonly used phrases about Providence and how the Lord works. She suggests that these ideas are not only harmful to our individual perceptions of the Lord, but to the spread of the New Church. Abby hopes that through correcting these ideas, we can present a more accurate, appealing, and useful picture of the Lord and His church. -Editor.

“God only gives you what you can handle.” “I’m sure God will smile on you for your kindness.” “If I keep following God, I will get what I deserve.”

There are these little phrases, sayings, and cliches that sneak into the way many people think about Divine Providence. Phrases that I’ve heard from Christians and non-Christians, readers of the Writings, and people who haven’t read the Writings. Whether the speaker has thought it through or not these phrases and sayings describe a kind of God and a kind of fatalism that just doesn’t sit right with me. And when I hear anyone assign these ideas to God it makes me angry. Angry because of the way that these ideas get in and make us feel a certain way about how God works, when these ideas are diametrically opposed to what I have come to understand and love about how God works.

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Meditate | Know By Heart

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. We welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article! Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

“Apply your heart to understanding…When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things” (Proverbs 2:2, 10-12).

“My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands…Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3: 1, 5-7).

It’s easy to get caught up in the thought that life is about knowing a lot; externally, ideas and knowledge seem really important and sharing ideas and knowledge really can do a lot of good. But at the end of the day, it is not a question of do I know this or that, am I wise, or am I right, but simply am I living in integrity with my understanding of "the law"—am I acknowledging it fully and abiding by it.

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Out of Isolation 

Kendall shares this week about a new program designed to make joining a New Church small group easier and more available the world over. Small groups allow people to connect and discuss religion in a more thorough and hands on way than just reading or listening. Kendall explains the new program and the difference it has made in her life. -Editor.

Of the many gifts that the Lord has offered me in my personal spiritual journey, one of the most rewarding has been my discovery of a small community in which I can find truth, connection, and refreshment on a regular basis. My experience attending weekly group meetings with my small community has shown me just how rich and fertile the soil of a group setting can be for spiritual growth.

Not everyone can connect to the groups I attend, as they are limited to those in my immediate geographic area. So I am motivated to share with you an opportunity to plug into a simple program that could support you or someone you know in your spiritual lives.

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Good Relationships

Social anxiety can be a difficult barrier in knowing how to build good relationships. This was a problem for Helen for much of her life. But after much reflection and work to understand God's desire for people to live and interact with other people to eternity she has found peace and confidence. -Editor.

Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. 1 Samuel 7:14

In my mind, the recovery by the Israelites of territory that the Philistines had taken represents the Lord restoring to the spiritual mind much of the natural mind that had turned away from it, all the way toward the outermost parts which have to do with our knowledge of how to live. The land the Israelites held was more interior, while the land of the Philistines was further west all the way to the ocean. The Writings say a sea represents knowledges (Secrets of Heaven 2761:2).

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Meditate | Shepherds and Prophets

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. We welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

“‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
‘Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
And it shall come to pass in all the land,’
Says the Lord,
‘That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one–third shall be left in it:
I will bring the one–third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, “This is My people;”
And each one will say, “The Lord is my God”’” (Zechariah 13:7-9).

“Generally speaking, the divine actions and powerful effects meant by the Holy Spirit are the acts of reforming and regenerating us. Depending on the outcome of this reformation and regeneration, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of renewing us, bringing us to life, sanctifying us, and making us just; and depending on the outcome of these in turn, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of purifying us from evils, forgiving our sins, and ultimately saving us. These are the powerful effects, one after the other, that the Lord has on people who believe in him and who adapt and modify themselves in order to welcome him and invite him to stay…

The divine truth in connection with goodness, that is, faith in connection with goodwill, is the force that reforms and regenerates us…It is important to know that the Lord is carrying out these salvation processes in every single one of us all the time. They are the steps to heaven. The Lord wants to save everyone” (True Christianity 142).

“The Lord constantly tries (and cannot help trying) to implant truth and goodness, or faith and goodwill, in everyone” (True Christianity 145).

“The essence of spiritual love is to do good to others for their sake and not for our own” (Divine Love and Wisdom 335).

The passage from Zechariah seems to be interpreted commonly as a prophecy of Jesus, and rightly so. Several translations capitalize Shepherd and Man, etc. because it is very easy to see the parallels—a companion to God who must be struck to allow for the ultimate salvation of God’s people. I get it and it makes sense.

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8 Ways to Get Through Winter

Winter can be a long tiring experience - both natural and spiritual winters. Whether you are experiencing natural winter right now or not, these suggestions from Bronwen are a great way to work on getting out of a slump or focusing on shifting to a "springtime" state of mind. -Editor

The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them. —Parker J. Palmer

Last winter I almost cracked. In addition to recovering from a surgery, the kids having more than 10 days off school, and the power outages, it felt like too much. So many people around me were trying to be positive and yet also really struggling with the length and intensity of the winter. Although seasons are to be expected in the Northeast, they can also be difficult. Of course it isn't just a physical winter I'm talking about, but also dark times in our lives when we feel there is no life, nothing thriving or growing, no hope. I find myself eager to make a plan for the winter (on whatever level it arrives) so that I could do more than just survive. Maybe with a good plan, I can actually thrive. So after talking to a few friends who'd had a similar brush with despair over the winter, I created the following list of To-Do Winter Ideas.

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