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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 the Lord (16)


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 | Walking In The Dark

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 people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Isaiah 9:2

“Even the dark shall be light about me.” Psalm 139:11 

“’Darkness’ in Isaiah 9:2 symbolically means falsities such as existed at that time, and which still exist at this day among upright Gentiles—because of their ignorance of truth. These falsities have goodness stored up within them because they have goodness as an end in view. Those, therefore, who are in these falsities are able to be instructed in truths—if not in the world then in the next life—and when instructed they also receive truths in their hearts. The reason for this is that goodness loves truth, and also joins itself to truth when it is heard.” Apocalypse Explained 526 and Secrets of Heaven 9256 as quoted in the Bryn Athyn Church Christmas Readings for 2013.

Nevermind any deliberation about what it might mean to be a Gentile, let alone an upright one or not, I see a reflection of the state described in this passage in my own life. There is a strong inclination in me to condemn myself on account of what falsities I suspect I’m operating under, amidst a thick fear of the outcome if I am to continue to live in that darkness. This mindset is paralyzing, and yet I convince myself it is warranted.

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Meditate | Spiritual Amnesia and What's Really Going On

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 better yet, your own article. Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

“Thus says the Lord:

‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

I long for wisdom, strength, and riches! I want these things, but the passage tells me not to glory in them. Even if I am these things—wise, strong, rich—don’t glory in them. Neither am I to wallow if I find myself their opposites—ignorant, weak, and poor. This passage draws at the weight I’ve given to the way I and my life look outwardly. It spurs my attention to a deeper layer of existence.

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Meditate | Being

“In Jehovah there is only what is” (Secrets of Heaven 630).

Note 353 (in Secrets of Heaven 630): “The Latin for this last clause reads apud Jehovam non sit nisi quam Esse, literally, ‘with Jehovah, there is nothing but being’…[Swedenborg] distinguishes between esse, ‘being’ in its pure sense, and existere, ‘being’ as it is manifested. See True Christianity 21: ‘The underlying divine reality is intrinsic reality [esse], and is also an intrinsic capacity to become manifest [existere]’ (translation by Jonathan S. Rose). In Divine Love and Wisdom 14, he writes, ‘Wherever there is reality [esse], there is manifestation [existere]: the one does not occur without the other’ (translation by George F. Dole).”

There is nothing but being; there is only what is. The Lord is intrinsic reality and the intrinsic capacity to become manifest. This is all you need. This is living in the present moment and not adding to it or taking anything away from it. The Lord has it all. This passage brings me peace and takes away worry and anxiety. It gives me trust that the Lord is taking care of everything, even what I create in my life. I can just be present to what is and take it for what it is—nothing more, nothing less. 


Meditate | The Time of Conflict

“The time of conflict is when the Lord is at work (for which reason the prophets call a regenerate person the work of God’s fingers [Psalms 8:3, 6; Isaiah 19:25; 29:23; 45:11; 60:21; 64:8; Lamentations 4:2]), and he does not rest until love takes the lead. Then the conflict ends.

When the work progresses so far that faith is united with love, it is called very good, since the Lord now makes us likenesses of himself” (Secrets of Heaven 63).

For some reason (and I’d be curious to know if it’s the same for others), I often fear that love will never return, that I’ll stop loving the people and things in my life and it will never come back. This is how it feels for me in conflict (internal or spiritual conflict). Conflict is one of the most uncomfortable states to be in; I feel totally alone, stuck, helpless, and hopeless. This passage is extraordinarily comforting for how it assures us that those times of conflict are when the Lord is at work and does not rest until love takes the lead. This is a passage much worth repeating throughout my day as a reminder for how I can trust that the Lord actually is leading me to more genuine love even when I am undergoing conflict.  


Meditate | Building Houses; Walking on Water

“The role of the intellect is to hear the Word, while the role of the will is to do it…‘Everyone who hears my words and does them I compare to a prudent man who built his house on rock. But everyone who hears my words and does not do them I compare to a stupid man who built his house on sand’ (Matthew 7: 24, 26)” (Secrets of Heaven 44).

Prudent = rock; stupid = sand. Prudent = hears Word and does it; stupid = hears Word and doesn’t do it. Rock and sand are made of the same thing, but rock is stuck together. Rock is held together while sand is all broken up into tiny particles. So to live what the Lord teaches is the glue that makes the truths we know a true foundation. This is such a perfect symbol but I never thought very deeply about it before. It doesn’t matter how much you know—how much sand you have—it won’t do you any good as support you can live on unless it becomes glued together through living what you know is true.

This meditation of mine happens to go very well with an idea presented in yesterday’s adult Cathedral service. There, Rev. Grant Odhner gave a sermon about the story of the Lord and Peter walking on water.

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