Here is a link to a PDF with some thoughts and quotations about what Jesus Himself says about salvation. I hope it stimulates some thoughts. What Does Jesus Say By Subject
The New Church in Australia.
There is a warm spot in my heart for the church in Australia- though my experience with it does not extend much beyond Sydney and Perth. While some of that feeling may be attributed to the climate (hard to beat), there is spirit, determination and resiliency among the people there that is very impressive.
In Sydney, for example, one finds this image in people like Norman Heldon who is working in the church gardens every day. Norman is 93 years old. The people there work hard to take care of their beautiful little church. Also, it is heartwarming to see the level of caring that the different families have shown toward Huiling as she copes with the recent passing of her husband Robert.
Robert, unfortunately arrived, in Hurstville to start as the congregation’s new pastor but passed away from a heart attack after only two weeks. He came with hopes and a vision for evangelization that was compelling. While his short tenure is traumatic for everyone there, it is possible that in his short stay he initiated a direction with the congregation that will serve well in future years. We shall see what his legacy looks like.
Sydney, a major metropolitan area is something of an international crossroads. Sydney harbor is beautiful, but also functional as a major import export center serving all of Asia. This sets up an international buzz that seems to serve the church well. With the church announcing itself on the internet, there is a gradual influx of visitors joining the congregation for Sunday worship. With some shepherding of that process by a resident pastor, the congregation could soon be growing. In the mean time, the congregation is engaged with Bishop Keith in a search for a new pastor to take up where Robert left off.
Perth is a pearl of a city located on the Southwest coast of Australia. There has been a New Church presence there since the early 1920’s. It seems that the future there is as bright as the sun kissed beaches surrounding the city. Perth is currently a boomtown that is growing exponentially due to the natural gas and minerals that are mined in the area. As with Sydney there are two groups worshipping there, one which is a part of the Australian Association and the other affiliated with the General Church. Many of the events held in the region are combined efforts. While the General Church group in Perth is without a resident pastor, the group meets regularly for Sunday worship, Bible studies, etc.
They worship in a beautiful rented facility in South Perth. When I conducted worship there were about 25 people in attendance.
My visit there included preaching, holding several classes, pastoral visiting and conducting a planning session. If the group heads in the direction that it intends, I would not be surprised to see it growing to the size where it could sustain a resident pastor in the space of just a few years.
From a pastoral perspective, my trip to Sydney and Perth was uplifting. I felt like I was witnessing the Lord doing something special through the efforts of the church members in this far off corner of the planet.
I am happy to send you the enclosed “Outreach Training Program” designed by Vance Genzlinger, a longtime member of the Oar Arbor Society. Vance built this program based on his career in the sales industry and his intense desire to help the people in the church learn how to share the NewChurch with others.
He has done several trial runs of this program and staff in my department helped him with editing. You might like to use the program, or parts of it in your evangelization training. I am hoping you find this a resource to add as one way to help prepare members of the church to gain confidence in the work of evangelization. Please note that Vance would love feed back and questions about the material in the hopes that it will improve with the input. Vance writes the following:
This training program is patterned after the “New Church Journey Programs” that have been given so successfully throughout the Church in recent years. It is like Journey in that it has a similar length and that the intention is for it to run church wide. It is also a program with intense group mode participation and interaction. It is being worked into a format that is similar to Journey. It differs in focus from our own regeneration to our outreach prospects and their concerns. Instead of practicing techniques on how to bring the Lord into our lives, we will be practicing techniques on how to discuss our beliefs with our outreach prospects. Although this training program contains some quotes from the Bible and Writings, it contains more information on how to understand the marketing of ideas, how to understand the backgrounds of the prospects and some understanding of our teachings about the most difficult problems we may encounter that are not usually covered in Journey and our regular doctrinal classes.
One thing that is new in this program is the experience of role playing. It gives our members and friends experience talking to prospects about our teachings by taking the role of member and prospect and trying to respond to the prospect’s concerns. Many sample role playing dialogues are included in the text to show our members how to get started. They are not included with the goal of memorizing specific doctrinal positions. They are included for the same reason examples are included in math and science texts – to stimulate thinking about how to approach and solve different types of problems. They are to show our members how to initiate dialogue, how to focus on the prospect’s questions or concerns, how to create their own answers to prospect’s concerns and to develop true empathy for our prospects and the ideas they have been taught.
It is hoped that at least 50% of each two hour session will be spent with group participants actually creating their own dialogues. This is to be preceded by the participants discussing the text for the week which hopefully they have read before coming to the workshop.
This type of the training is designed to help eliminate the reason most of our members feel inadequate to discuss our beliefs with others.
In order for this training program to be effective, we must first perfect a complete draft of a training manual for the “Outreach Training Program”, and second we must prepare a manual for the small group leaders, and third we must train the trainers who will train the small group leaders, particularly in the art of role playing.
Please contact our Bishop, anyone in the General Church Outreach office and/or this author (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your reaction to this material, suggested improvements, and its value to our Church.
The Lord’s Forgiveness
A few amazing teachings on how the Lord forgives:
“The Lord is never angry, never takes revenge, hates, condemns, punishes, throws anyone into hell, or tempts him. Thus the Lord never does evil to anyone!” (True Christian Religion 650)
“There is in fact a sphere continually radiated from the Lord which raises all to heaven. This fills the whole of both the spiritual and natural worlds. It is like a strong current in the ocean, which invisibly draws a ship along. All who believe in the Lord and live according to His commandments come within that sphere or current and are raised up.” (True Christian Religion 652)
These are powerful teachings speaking to how hard the Lord is working for your salvation. Because the Lord’s purpose is blessing people with heavenly life, He is always working to help people let go of their evils. Another passage from the True Christian Religion says: “the Lord being mercy itself, forgives everyone his sins, and does not hold even one of them against a person.” (TCR 539) Wow!
Even so, forgiveness does not come in a moment. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is he complexity of the lusts that are attached to each evil. In Divine Providence, we read: “There are thousands of lusts which enter into and compose each evil.” (Divine Providence 279 ) The practice of repentance gradually clips away these evil ties over time releasing the person from the addiction associated with that evil – that takes time!
A fascinating defination of ‘forgiveness’ is found in the Arcana Caelestia: “being able to be maintained by the Lord in the good of love and the truths of faith and to be withheld from evils and falsities constitutes the forgiveness of sins” (Arcana Caelestia 9448).
Really, that means that a person can’t forgive another person of their sins – only the Lord can do that. There are tons of passages in the Bible directing us to forgive others. How is this possible? Rather than taking responsibility for another’s sins, the Lord teaches that true forgiveness is: “regarding someone not from the point of evil but of good” (AC 7697). That is a bigger issue. It involves letting go of resentments, hurt and anger related with a people who have caused you harm. So ‘how many times should we forgive our brother who has sinned against us? Seventy times seven – basically an infinite number because we are taught to train ourselves to view others from good rather than evil. That is a high road that involves the discipline of repentance.
Here is some interesting news emailed to me by Brian Smith. He writes: “I would like to plug an awesome new project called ‘NewChurchPerspective.com’. Its basically an online magazine about New Church topics. NCPerspective now has articles by over 10 writers on a wide variety of topics. This is designed to be a platform which allows people to express their ideas, questions and efforts to apply concepts from the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. As a reader have the opportunity to read and respond in the comment lines. You are also warmly encouraged to write and submit what ever New Church topics have been burning on your mind.”
To check out the website follow this link: New Church Perspective
The Saturday evening “Stairway to Heaven Banquet” was a smashing success. There were over 125 people in attendance for well scripted program that included a well known gospel choir, songs and dance. The most powerful part for me was the original songs and poetry that were based on New Church thought. These were intensely personal portrayals of rising out of one’s heredity and environment, to a more spiritual state as guided by the Lord.
Here are 2 spreadsheets taking the data from the Austin Plant model and asking the question of what is the overall financial impact on the funding denomination if we were to roll out a new church plant every other year. The two spread sheets are very similar in conclusion, however, I favor the model assuming 30% success, 30% failure and 30% moderate success because it more closely mirrors success statistics in church planting in the United States today.GC Plantexpns303030 GC Plant expense raw GC Plantexpns303030
There are many strategies for starting new churches that have been used throughout the ages. The Austin model is one we developed after intensive research evaluating what would provide the highest chances for a new movement to gain momentum and permanence in a short amount of time. You might notice that the plan includes the concept that plant congregations should be using their resources to sow the seeds for future church plants. As such, we see this as the beginning of a new system that is replicating. In time, this system will serve as the key force for establishing New Church Congregations at a level we have never been able to accomplish using an endowment driven model. This new model while initially supported by endowment, ultimately will be funded by other successful church plants. He hope you will help us kick the tires of this model through dialogue and sharing your insights for how to start new churches. Special thanks go to Mac Frazier for the countless hours devoted to this project. Lets plan to have a grand celebration of his efforts at the Salt Lick barbeque joint just south of Austin.
Finally, our prayer is that we can use this natural tool to serve the Lord in His vineyard for we ultimately recognize that while we till the soil, the Lord alone provides for germination and growth.
Here is a PFD of Brian Keith’s collection of passages that are arranged topically for memorial services. It is a wonderful resource for writing Eulogies etc.