The Governors of the Church

With the Clergy selecting a new Bishop this summer, I’ve observed a lot of people seeking to understand how our Church is structured. I too am curious and have been reading through various documents.

I will admit to being frustrated by the lack of clarity around the General Church’s structure and process.

But the Lord Truths calm me down.

This week I have been feeling especially grateful to Him for giving His Church the very practical and direct teachings on Church Government in the last chapter of New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrines.

Have a look! I have bolded the Truths I personally find most relevant or striking. The last paragraph, in particular, is quite counter-cultural in tone. And I’m very curious to hear what other ladies glean from it all:

“ECCLESIASTICAL and CIVIL GOVERNMENT

311.There are two things which ought to be in order with men, namely, the things which are of heaven, and the things which are of the world. The things which are of heaven are called ecclesiastical, and those which are of the world are called civil.

312. Order cannot be maintained in the world without governors, who are to observe all things which are done according to order, and which are done contrary to order; and who are to reward those who live according to order, and punish those who live contrary to order. If this be not done, the human race will perish; for the will to command others, and to possess the goods of others, from heredity is connate with everyone, whence proceed enmities, envyings, hatreds, revenges, deceits, cruelties, and many other evils. Wherefore, unless they were kept under restraint by the laws, and by rewards suited to their loves, which are honors and gains for those who do goods; and by punishments contrary to those loves, which are the loss of honors, of possessions, and of life, for those who do evils; the human race would perish.

313. There must therefore be governors to keep the assemblages of men in order, who should be skilled in the law, wise, and who fear God. There must also be order among the governors, lest anyone, from caprice or ignorance, should permit evils which are contrary to order, and thereby destroy it. This is guarded against when there are superior and inferior governors, among whom there is subordination.

314. Governors over those things with men which relate to heaven, or over ecclesiastical affairs, are called priests, and their office is called the priesthood. But governors over those things with men which relate to the world, or over civil affairs, are called magistrates, and their chief, where such a form of government prevails, is called king.

315. With respect to the priests, they ought to teach men the way to heaven, and also to lead them; they ought to teach them according to the doctrine of their church from the Word, and to lead them to live according to it. Priests who teach truths, and thereby lead to the good of life, and so to the Lord, are good shepherds of the sheep; but they who teach and do not lead to the good of life, and so to the Lord, are evil shepherds.

316. Priests ought not to claim to themselves any power over the souls of men, because they do not know in what state the interiors of a man are; still less ought they to claim the power of opening and shutting heaven, since that power belongs to the Lord alone.

317. Dignity and honor ought to be paid to priests on account of the holy things which they administer; but they who are wise give the honor to the Lord, from whom the holy things are, and not to themselves; but they who are not wise attribute the honor to themselves; these take it away from the Lord. They who attribute honor to themselves, on account of the holy things which they administer, prefer honor and gain to the salvation of souls, which they ought to provide for; but they who give the honor to the Lord, and not to themselves, prefer the salvation of souls to honor and gain. The honor of any employment is not in the person, but is adjoined to him according to the dignity of the thing which he administers; and what is adjoined does not belong to the person himself, and is also separated from him with the employment. All personal honor is the honor of wisdom and the fear of the Lord.

318. Priests ought to teach the people, and to lead them by truths to the good of life, but still they ought to compel no one, since no one can be compelled to believe contrary to what he thinks from his heart to be true. He who believes otherwise than the priest, and makes no disturbance, ought to be left in peace; but he who makes disturbance, ought to be separated out; for this also is of order, for the sake of which the priesthood is established.

Owning My Identity

When I sat down to write this article after weeks of thinking and making notes to myself I couldn’t compress my ideas into one article. I wrote one draft explaining the sort of identity crisis I have experienced in the last few months and resulting conflict and existential questions I have about where I fit into the world. Then I wrote another draft from a more doctrinal, intellectual perspective using teachings from the Writings about the intentional infinite variety that the Lord created resulting in the unending distinction of individual identities. I wrote another about the contentment and security in my own identity that has grown and developed in my years of being a stay-at-home mom and the peace that has come in that process.

Each draft held significant portions of my thoughts, each shared some of the profound realizations I have had in the weeks of thinking about this article. But I couldn’t get any one version to hold them all.

In talking through my article yesterday with some friends something was pointed out to me – part of my dissatisfaction was that all of these versions of reflections on identity are true and existing inside of me, even as they are in conflict and harmony with each other. Each version of my article felt true on its own, but still somehow lacked the punch I wanted. I think that was because, on their own, each one was too simple to hold the complete complexity of my reflections. Here’s my attempt to bring together those three drafts.

Over the last few months I have run into a boundary of what is required of my children (and therefore our whole family) by the school that they go to. I didn’t anticipate it, and it has thrown my sense of self into a spiral. It has brought on what I’ve decided to hold as something of an identity crisis for myself and my family. Questions about my goals in parenting and decisions for my children have all come crashing in on me. In particular, the purpose of education and extra activities both for my children and even myself, and how those things are developing and changing as my older children grow out of the small children phase.  My brain exploded. Now it feels like a flood of new and tense conversations need to happen between my husband and I. I need to seek out perspective from other people whose choices in these areas I respect. Now. Because the reality of my brain and anxiety means that I’m aware of these questions and that they will affect every. single. daily. decision.
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Loss From the “Inside” – A Personal Experience About Miscarriage

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55: 8-9

For a woman in her child bearing years, miscarriage is a topic she will never want to think about, let alone discuss. Sadly, it’s very common. According to the American College of Obstetricians and my Gynecologist, 1 in every 4 women has a miscarriage during their child bearing years. I was able to become pregnant very easily and had quick child births with my first two sons, so I had no idea that a miscarriage would ever happen to me till we started trying for our third.

My third pregnancy started just like my first two, but when I went to the doctor after the seventh week of my pregnancy she said that there was no heart beat and the amniotic sac didn’t look normal. She said I should come back in a week and she would be able to tell for sure if it was a miscarriage or not because then she could compare the measurements she was taking. That word broke my and my husband’s hearts. We were shaken to the core of our beings. We kept asking if we had done something wrong; I kept asking if I didn’t eat the right foods or I was too stressed. The doctor assured us that it’s nothing we did wrong but things like this just happen.
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Blessing in Disguise?

Editors’ note: The congregation in Diepkloof, South Africa has been through a very difficult past few years. A significant amount of conflict with, unexpected decisions and strange behaviour by the former pastor lead to a lot of hurt. But as the article describes, the congregation has recently come back home to their church in many ways.

When tragedy strikes, such as life usually designs, one often wonders about the ‘blessing in disguise’ of it all. We know that God is with us every step of the way, and often cry out loud to His intervention – His Divine Intervention. Meanwhile, we hold on tightly to our faith and pray that our good works will see us through.

My congregation has survived a storm that was never anticipated in the history of the General Church. Our pastor took all of us to the darkest corners of our spirits to show us his truth; that he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the ultimate god for our church. Such darkness could never be seen in the light, nor by the naked eyes, for years we have been nurtured and schooled about the New Church doctrines by a man who never truly ‘got it.’

This revelation shook the General Church to its core when even the bishop was tested as he attempted to end the lunacy that had become cancerous; we were all tested! The church in South Africa and the world over became hostage and was held to ransom by God’s own chosen shepherd. Moving through that situation was like dragging a very heavy metal object through clay soil with the fear that at any moment we will run out of strength and get stuck.

It is now the year of our Lord 2018, five years later, and we have finally broken free of ‘our false god.’ We have survived the humiliation witnessed by the community we were sent to minister the New Church doctrines to. We have survived being erased and evicted from the only church and ministry that gave life to us in many more ways than one. And we’ve repeatedly won every legal court case that our former beloved minister took us through as he tried us through the High court of the land.

This article is actually about the question: so, what was that for?
Continue reading Blessing in Disguise?