Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Great Sermon on Loneliness and Use

Rev. Grant Odhner's sermon on Sunday was exactly what I look for in a sermon. It was based on a story from the Word, it had great passages from the Heavenly Doctrines and from the Old and New Testaments, it had stuff to apply to life, it didn't offer simple, pat answers, it brought me down to the point of acknowledging that everything good is from the Lord and then lifted me up to want to strive to be the Lord's good and faithful servant.

It was “choir Sunday” so you'll have to fast forward a bit if you want to just listen to the sermon.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Student Translation Project

Joel Glenn, a 2nd year Bryn Athyn College student, is working on a translation of Apocalypse Revealed as an independent study. As he translates he's posting what his translation on a blog (apocalypserevealed.wordpress.com). Under About he writes,
Every week or so, I will be putting up the next few numbers that I have translated. I am starting at the beginning of AR and will be working my way forward from there, hopefully completing Chapter 1 by the middle of February. Whether you read a lot or a little, I would love to hear feedback from you.

About the translation: My goal is to produce a translation that people can read easily. This does not mean that you will understand AR without any effort. It does mean that if you are familiar with the Writings, and make an effort to understand what you read, the way I translate should not stand in the way. You should get something out of it without tripping over sentence structure and word choice.


For the last couple of years Rev. Chuck Blair has been doing weddings and pre-marital counseling for couples for people who get married at Cairnwood Mansion. He's now got a web site (newchurchwedding.com) where he outlines some of the fundamental New Church teachings about marriage, the requirements for a Cairnwood wedding, and what makes a New Church wedding different from a wedding in other churches.

The main thing to look at on the site are the 4 short videos.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More CaringForMarriage Videos

A little while ago I mentioned a couple of videos that Caring For Marriage made for promoting marriage. There are now two more. They look professional and they're funny, cute, and short. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Letter by Grant Schnarr in the New York Times

Rev. Grant Schnarr wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times that was published today. It's his reflections on the significance of President Obama's inauguration and seeing the Lord in these difficult times. Here's one paragraph from it:
There is much to be learned, much to be improved, there is hardship ahead as there was years ago and always will be. And in this struggle the Lord continues to work to bring us opportunities to strive for Him and do the right thing, to grow, to reach for a better life not just without, but a spiritual life within, which honors God, one another and strives to bring good will, respect and honor to all human beings, because they are human beings.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Seeing the Lord in Everything in Life - Good and Bad

Nina Dewees gave a really great talk last Sunday at the kick-off event for the Sunday Night Thing's series, “How the Lord Speaks With Us.”

One of the things she talked about was hearing the Lord speaking to her in all different aspects of life. She pointed out that at the beginning of Genesis the Lord breathed into man the breath of life and at the end of Revelation the Spirit and the Bride invite “him who thirsts” to take of the water of life” (Genesis 2:7; Revelation 22:17).

The thing she said that I find myself still thinking about a week later, is that the Lord speaks to us and is with us in the good and the hard things in life. He doesn't cause the hard things but He certainly uses them to make our lives better and happier in the end. I'm finding it really powerful to try to see the hard things in my life that way. Nina said that one of the places where she hears the Lord teaching this idea is in Psalm 139, particularly this part.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. (7-12)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Are the Writings the Word? Check out this Passage

In college I had many long conversations about whether the Writings are the Word or not and spent many hours reading different passages and arguments about it. After all that I ended up being happy with calling the Writings the Word (with a few qualifications) but not thinking that it was directly taught anywhere.

But when we were discussing this question in a theological school class yesterday, Rev. Grant Odhner showed us a passage (that a lay person showed him) that gets pretty darn close to saying that the Writings are the Word directly. And it's not buried somewhere in the depths of Apocalypse Explained, it's right at the beginning of True Christian Religion:
... From these words it is clear that without the Lord's coming into the world no one could have been saved. It is the same today; and therefore without the Lord's coming again into the world in Divine truth, which is the Word, no one can be saved. (True Christian Religion 3)
Does it do it for you or is a leap still required?

Simple Lessons About Marriage from CaringForMarriage.org

The latest video made by the Caring For Marriage folks (caringformarriage.org) is up on YouTube. Like the 3 other Caring For Marriage videos (this one, this one, and this one) it has a simple metaphor and a simple message about marriage. If you don't get distracted by the low quality video and the other flaws you could find, there's a good point in each of them. I think it's useful to have these sorts of easily understandable metaphors for explaining simple truths about marriage.

Incidentally, on the Caring For Marriage web site you can find information about and register for the Caring For Marriage conference coming up on February 14th and 15th.

UPDATE: I've now embedded the videos in this post so you can watch them right here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What do Christians Today Believe?

When reading statements in the Heavenly Doctrines about what people in the Christian Church believe, I often wonder whether things have changed at all. With that question in mind it's interesting to read “An Evangelical Manifesto” (www.anevangelicalmanifesto.com). Here's what it is:
An Evangelical Manifesto is an open declaration of who Evangelicals are and what they stand for. It has been drafted and published by a representative group of Evangelical leaders who do not claim to speak for all Evangelicals, but who invite all other Evangelicals to stand with them and help clarify what Evangelical means in light of “confusions within and the consternation without” the movement.
On the site there are PDFs of an executive summary of the manifesto (6 pages) and the manifesto itself (20 pages). The executive summary lists these as the beliefs that they place their emphasis on:
1. Jesus, fully divine and fully human, as the only full and complete revelation of God and therefore the only Savior.
2. The death of Jesus on the cross, in which he took the penalty for our sins and reconciled us to God.
3. Salvation as God’s gift grasped through faith. We contribute nothing to our salvation.
4. New life in the Holy Spirit, who brings us spiritual rebirth and power to live as Jesus did, reaching out to the poor, sick, and oppressed.
5. The Bible as God’s Word written, fully trustworthy as our final guide to faith and practice.
6. The future personal return of Jesus to establish the reign of God.
7. The importance of sharing these beliefs so that others may experience God’s salvation and may walk in Jesus’ way.
What do you think—have things changed or are they about the same as always?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Good Point

In class today, Rev. Stephen Cole showed us a small excerpt from a 1951 paper by Rev. Hugo Lj. Odhner, “The Lord's Human Essence.” In the paper Odhner is discussing the difficulty of understanding some of the finer points of the Lord's glorification and says,
Many questions may here properly arise. How could the material substance of the organic body become no longer material, no longer finite, but Divine substantial or infinite? no longer a vessel of life, but life itself? The truth does not depend on whether we understand such a process or not. We understand so little, even of natural forces like light or electricity, or gravitation, but we accept their effects which we can repeatedly observe and check.
It's a simple but good point.

Along these lines you might be interested to read two previous posts, "How Much Do We Need to Understand to Believe?" and "What We Need to Know About the Lord's Coming."