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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 (7)

Friday
Apr182014

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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Friday
Mar212014

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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Friday
Mar142014

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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Friday
Aug192011

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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Monday
Jun202011

Meditate | Bad Weather

“The fact of the matter is that no one has any understanding of truth or will to do good… When people develop a heavenly nature, they seem to have a will to do good and an understanding of truth, but the capability is all the Lord’s, as they themselves see, acknowledge, and perceive… The independent self of every human being and every angel—even the most heavenly—is mere falsity and evil… All good and all truth belong to [the Lord] alone” (Secrets of Heaven 633).

“People are unaware that each of us has a deeper level inside, and another level deeper than that, and another level that is deepest of all… Our bodily urges and sense impressions form the outermost surface; our passions and memories, a deeper layer; our loves and rational thoughts, a still deeper layer; and a will to do good and a comprehension of truth, the deepest” (Secrets of Heaven 634).

I want to invite the Lord in. Looking inward in meditation today everything inside feels cloudy or foggy. I can see the first two levels mentioned in today’s reading and have a sense of the third, but the inmost was clouded over in fog. This felt sad to me, but I remembered and thought about how the rational can serve the outer or inner self. I want it to serve the inner. In the passages I read today it also said how we invite the Lord’s mercy, truth, and goodness in by how we live. And so I feel a longing in me to be a heavenly person, to have the way opened. Thinking this, I then was reminded that I can’t just choose to be good today in my life because goodness and truth are the Lord’s alone; they flow in. So how do I make it so that they can flow in? Remove evil. I also got the message that one evil is enough. Just pick one. So here’s what I choose—the evil, the falsity associated with that evil, and the action that results:

Evil: Self-love leading to hatefulness and a love of putting myself above others and my needs above others.

Falsity: The moment requires impatience. The Lord isn’t taking care of my day and life. The Lord doesn’t give enough time so I need to worry and control to get my time.

Action/Result: Impatience with my daughter and a lack of compassion and mercy towards her.

So I can focus today on removing this evil from my life. Choose not to do it or give it action, pray for the Lord’s help, and notice when it happens, or when it is about to take over and pray to the Lord for another option. The Lord has overcome all evil so he can give me the power to overcome this in my day and life. Thank you, Lord. 

Monday
Apr252011

Meditate | Burning Bridges

“It is our outer self, or the feelings and memory of our outer self, that the seeds of goodness and truth are planted in. They are not sown in our inner self because the inner self lacks anything of our own; things of our own exist in the outer self.

Our inner being holds good qualities and true thoughts. When they seem to have departed, we are then shallow, body-oriented people. Still, the Lord stores those things up in our inner self without our knowing. They do not come out of hiding until our outer self dies, so to speak, as frequently happens in times of trial, misfortune, grave illness, or imminent death.

The ability to reason also belongs to the outer self. In its true character, that capacity is a kind of bridge between the inner self and the outer, because the inner self directs the outer, body-centered self by means of it. But when the rational mind consents [to self-dependence], it separates the outer self from the inner; so that we no longer know the inner self exists. As a result, we also fail to see what understanding and wisdom are, belonging as they do to the inner realm” (Secrets of Heaven 268).

I can make a practice in awareness out of how I am using my rational mind: whether I am using it to connect to the inner self or to block myself from it. My rational capacity needs to be honest and willing to humbly do the work of clearly stating what the inner self has to say; it needs to serve as a clear bridge and just communicate the message, without commentary, even though my outer self is terrified and just wants my rationality to keep serving it through stoking the fire of its negativity with corroborative thoughts. My rational mind needs to be a bridge and not a fire-stoker.

My rational mind tends quickly toward self-dependence when I don’t make time to read the Word. Over the past seven weeks since our son was born I’ve been predominantly in the experience of seeming detachment from the inner self.  I also haven’t had much time for reading the Word and even less for reflection. My posts before our son’s birth were all about learning about the dynamic between the outer and inner self. These last seven weeks have given me ample opportunity to live those teachings and experience trials that to me are all little “deaths” of the outer self steadily making way for goodness and truth to flow in from the inner realm more freely.

Brewing resentment is a hallmark of my rational mind having consented to self-dependence, blocking the bridge to the inner realm; it’s the best stuff for fire-stoking around. Recently, it was the first of the twelve steps (from the Twelve Steps program) as used for becoming free from resentment that showed me a way out: “I am powerless over my negative thoughts and feelings.” This simple statement was a message of truth making its way across the bridge. It contains within it the premise that I am not my negative thoughts and feelings. If I am not my negative thoughts and feelings, then what am I? I am free, free to choose a different tune to live by. I am powerless over my negative thoughts and feelings—I cannot control their constant din—but with the Lord’s power I can see my resentment for what it is and be free from its grip because I am not it. Using my rational mind to acknowledge this truth, the way to the inner self widens and the binds of resentment are loosed. I’m sure I’ll be given the option to take them on again very soon, but with this brief respite I feel renewed strength and confidence in my ability to handle the confrontation, keeping the way of the bridge clear and remembering the Lord’s Word.