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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.

Entries in repentance (9)


The Love to Change

People can and do change, but it't not so glamorous, romantic and spontaneous as movies and books often make it seem. It isn't easy and it isn't always pretty but, as Clark discusses in this week's article, Jesus provided us with many examples and many tools that we need in order to change and grow into our "authentic" selves. Even if that change is so slow it isn't completed in this world. -Editor.

The movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” was recently released. While it may seem to be an excellent study of human nature, I will not go see it because any message about positive human change will be quite obscured by the salacious content. The message will be completely missed by most viewers who only want to be titillated (yes that is a word. Go look it up!).

The Word is full of examples of how humans change. Sadly, we are not shown very many examples of it in the various forms of media these days. There are many movies that purport to show how a person learns a lesson about their humanity through experiencing their depravity. While such a book or movie may be an excellent study of human nature, any message about human change is hidden from most readers and viewers who only want to be voyeurs. There are a number of movies that more accurately and appropriately reveal the mechanism of change in human beings. They are not as viscerally exciting because they portray how change really happens: human change is a process that begins within the individual human spirit, when God’s love and wisdom are voluntarily brought to support an individual’s motivation, thought, speech and act.

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Meditate | Adverse Learning

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

“Cease to do evil, learn to do good” (Isaiah 1:16-17).

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

The other day I read a very clear statement that speaks to an ongoing issue in my spiritual growth: it’s okay to feel angry, it’s not okay to act on it. This statement came into my mind like a drop of soap in dirty water. After reading it, I went about my day and had the idea to track when I felt angry—to approach this feeling with curiosity, to “consider in the day of adversity.” The only “action” I would take when I felt angry was to make a note of what triggered my anger. It was surprisingly satisfying, rather than to have no action to take when I am feeling anger, to have something specific I would do—write it down, or in most cases, dictate it to a note on my phone! After doing this just for one day, I felt an ease, and less fear when the anger came up, because it no longer meant I acted out in a way I would regret a moment later.

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Meditate | The Inner and the Outer and the Inner in the Outer

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

The outer self contains attributes that harmonize [with the inner self] and attributes that clash…Even the ones in the outer self [that harmonize], since they form a unit with the inner self…belong to the inner self.

The inner and outer selves in any individual can never become one…When we have been reborn, it seems as though they exist united in us, but they are the Lord’s. Anything harmonious is the Lord’s, whereas anything discordant is ours. Secrets of Heaven 1577

In regard to separation, we need to see that it is not a separation but a muting…When it quiets down, though, it seems to go away, since it seems nonexistent. Secrets of Heaven 1581

So it turns out the outer self has qualities that harmonize with the inner self in addition to ones that clash. Who knew? That adds a nuance to the idea of the outer self described in last month’s Meditate. But there’s a twist. The twist is that the attributes or qualities that harmonize in the outer self actually belong to the inner self. What? If the qualities that harmonize with the inner self that are in the outer self are actually just the inner self, why make the confusing claim in the first place that they are the outer self’s?

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Repentance: Incomparable Process of Life Change and Spiritual Transformation

This week Mark introduces the Begin A New Life program - a process using the steps of repentance as a means of self examination. He offers personal testimony as to the amazing, deep, and life changing process that is repentance. -Editor

On January 25th, a one-day seminar/workshop was held at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania (USA). Twenty-four people—college age and up—were there. The subject was the New Church’s “steps of repentance” as a disciplined spiritual practice1. The title of the seminar was Begin a New Life: Four Universal Steps of Life Change and Spiritual Transformation.

Begin a New Life is a universal, faith based process of life change and spiritual transformation. It involves a formatting of the steps of repentance into a set of worksheets which allows people to go through the process in journalizing fashion. It also borrows on Swedenborg’s full explanations of the Ten Commandments at two different points in the process—recognition and living a new life.

The purpose of this article is to give a testimony to the value of this process in my own life.

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Feeling the Lord's Love in Repentance 

This week Abby takes a fresh look at the concept of repentance in her life—a concept that once made her feel heavy and stuck now genuinely lightens her load. She finds that this welcomed, new perspective on repentance aligns more convincingly with her understanding of God's true nature—one of love and forgiveness. -Editor

By nature I am a person who tends towards negative, victimized ways of looking at my life. It has taken me years to nurture a more empowered and positive outlook. I feel like for the first time in my life I “get it” in a way that I never have before. Up until recently I think that any time I read the Writings or the Bible or really most any religious or spiritual work, I had the victim lens in front of my eyes. I understood the ideas, but they felt hard, depressing, and not particularly helpful in developing the happy, secure life I longed for. They didn’t feel like the evidence of an all loving and supportive God I hoped to have a meaningful relationship with. Everything felt sort of on the edges of application and realization in my life. But in the last 6 months things have changed for me, and I recently had a very uplifting and hopeful experience reading a passage I’ve probably heard many times before.

Being raised in a minister’s family, I have known the major ideas and teachings of the New Church for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember thinking about or hearing the word repentance for the first time, so obviously it’s been an idea that I’ve had in mind for years. I was recently reading the Seven Practices of Peace spiritual growth program produced by General Church Outreach and came across this sequence of quotes over a few pages (40-41). As I was reading them the idea of repentance struck me in a new way.

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And When He Came to Himself

Isaac gives testimony to the inner reaches of his spirit. Laying self satisfaction aside, he witnesses the Lord in battle against the evil within him and vows to remain vigilant until His victory is sure. -Editor.

And when he came to himself ...he said, "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants." And he arose, and came to his father. (Luke 15:17-20)

The Lord knows I have strayed very far from Him. Hell deceived me through many stages of rebellion to the point where I believed that I was almost fully reformed, and was ready to handle anything with the Word that was in me.

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