The Birds of the Air

Looking at the Bible on a deeper level, we can see that birds correspond to thoughts. Like birds, some thoughts flit through our minds, others dabble in the mud of worldly concerns and self-interest, some feed on the useful ideas in our sea of knowledge, and still others are uplifted by the Lord as they soar into the spiritual realms, gaining a higher perspective and giving glory to God.

When I was working in the office at a Presbyterian Support family counselling service, one of my children gave me an origami crane she had made at school. Apparently the Japanese regard this bird highly. I kept it on my desk at work as a reminder that I should seek a higher view of situations when things became difficult. I would try to see things from God’s point of view and do what He would have me do. As a team building exercise one day, we were asked to share something from our desk and say what it meant to us. I showed my colleagues my origami crane and shared the symbolism of birds and what this paper crane meant to me.

Weeks later one of the counsellors shared with the team his experience of witnessing the reconciliation of a man and his estranged wife in a counselling session. He was so uplifted to see this happen that a verse from Scripture came to his mind: “They who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). Our spirits do soar like the eagle when we give God the glory for the good that He does through us.

May all your thoughts be as beautiful as the birds of the air.

Jenny

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Choose Love

There are some shocking passages in the Bible if you don’t understand their deeper meaning. One that comes to mind is Psalm 137:9 – “Happy shall he be who takes your littles ones and dashes them against the rock!” Shocking until you understand the deeper meaning and then it makes sense.

In general, little children symbolise the innocent affections that arise in us, flowing in from heaven. In this case, “your little ones” are the offspring of Babylon (which represents our selfishness) -so they are the negative thoughts and feelings that come to us, such as anger, jealousy, resentment, and lusts of all kinds, which flow into us from hell. These have to be nipped in the bud! (dashed against the rock). We are not guilty of the negativity that flows into our minds, only for what we act upon and make our own. We need to nip those negative thoughts in the bud before they lead us to do harm. For every negative thought we start to think, we can change it to a kind thought, a  loving thought, a compassionate thought. We just need to turn our backs on what flows into us from hell and open up to the inflow of good affections from heaven. It’s a choice we can make every time. If everyone were to do this, what a wonderful world this would be. We cannot judge another person’s motives. We do not know what their journey has been, why they do what they do, but we can prevent them from doing further harm. Then, even while bringing them to justice, instead of hate we can choose to pity them, try to understand them, forgive them, reach out to them in love, seek peace.

In his speech after the Boston Marathon bombings, President Obama said this: “You showed us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save, and to comfort, and to heal. We’ll choose friendship. We’ll choose love.” Well said.

Jenny

Underneath are the Everlasting Arms

Today (April 10th) is my mother’s birthday. If she were still here she would be 101 today. I was thinking of what she might like me to do to remember her today. I decided she would like me to go to church and she would like me to share her favourite verse from the Bible. I have done both those things today.

After Dad died and my mother was living alone, her favourite verse became Deuteronomy 33:27 – The Eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Mum would say “underneath are the everlasting arms” often and tears would come to her eyes because she knew it to be true. God is there bearing us up when we are down, scared, lonely, or going through difficult times – a very present help in times of trouble.

I am reminded of the well known poem “Footprints” in which a man has a dream that he is walking along the beach with the Lord, while scenes from his life flash in the sky. He noticed that at the most difficult times in his life there was only one set of footprints and thought that the Lord must have abandoned him. But the Lord responded by saying, “that, my child, was when I carried you.”

When we are going through the darkest times it can seem as if God has abandoned us. However, the Writings of Swedenborg assure us that is when the Lord is more closely present than we can ever believe.

“Underneath are the everlasting arms.” It’s true.

Jenny

The Golden City – A Vision of Your Personal Transformation

Golden CityThere is some beautiful imagery in the Bible, of a vision seen by the apostle John, of a golden city descending from heaven.This vision is symbolic of a new spirituality coming to be embraced in the world. On a personal level, it represents the unlocking of your beautiful spiritual potential and your deepening relationship with the Lord (the city is compared to a bride). In this blog I explain how the symbolism in this vision can apply to your own personal future. This symbolism was revealed by God to Swedenborg so that people may see a deeper meaning in the Word (Bible).

The Bible’s Deeper Meaning

You may be surprised to hear that the Bible is full of deeper meaning that on one level is all about your inner self and what you can become. The vision of the beautiful city coming down from heaven holds a message from your Creator for you personally. It signifies a new spirituality flowing down from heaven into all those who love God and put His words into practice in their lives. Outside the city remain all those who are involved in evil. These symbolise your own negative tendencies that you need to leave behind you if you wish to enter this new way of being (the city). If you examine yourself to see what needs changing, turn your back on wrongdoing and follow your Creator to the best of your ability, you need not fear – God’s love is unconditional – you are forgiven whether you know if or not and He will cleanse and heal your spirit, making you new.

The Measure of a Person or an Angel

In the vision, there was a person with a golden reed to measure the city. The city is said to be equal in length, breadth and height, which pictures a person being loving and wise in equal measure. This is the “measure of a person, that is, of an angel.” For an example of being loving and wise, think of putting the Golden Rule into practice – “do to others as you would like them to do to you.”

Walking in Love and Light from Heaven

There are twelve gates to the city, which are always open, which means that there are many ways (twelve means “all”) to the experience of God, but each gate is made of one pearl, which describes an important process that introduces you to the heavenly way of life. Think of how a pearl is formed – by the oyster overcoming a piece of grit with nacre over and over until it becomes a thing of beauty. You become a thing of beauty in God’s eyes when you overcome irritations in your life with love – over and over. This is your way into your love relationship with the Divine. There are angels (messengers from God) to welcome you, protect and guide you and teach you the ways of heaven, which are revealed to you in the Word when you read it with a prayerful heart.

The city is described as being pure gold like clear glass. This signifies the joy of love flowing into you with divine light out of heaven, as you care for others. The street is also pure gold, like transparent glass. This pictures the joy of walking in the way of love and light from heaven.

The Principles on Which to Stand

The foundations of the city are adorned with all kinds of precious stones. These represent the guiding lights provided by the Word of God upon which to base your life – the ten commandments and others that you follow because they are given by God for your happiness.

The name of the city is “the New Jerusalem.” It is called Jerusalem because, in Biblical times, Jerusalem was where the temple was and, therefore, the centre of worship. In the vision there is no temple in the city because God dwells within each one of us. Let Him become the centre of your life and, when you change your outer life, He will change your inner life to match. True worship is to live a useful life in obedience to God, while giving Him the glory for the good that you do.

There is no need of the sun or the moon to shine in the city because the glory of God illuminates it. You now have enlightenment, not from natural light, but from spiritual light shining through the truths of God’s Word. This is where to go for your guidance in life. Try prayerfully opening the Bible at random and see what messages you are given. See each character as a characteristic of yourself. See the battles as describing your inner struggles (good against evil) and God’s anger as His zeal for what is good and His love for saving you from your negative tendencies.

It is said that only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life are received into the city. You are written in the Lamb’s book of life when you live according to God’s guidance. He speaks to you in His Word and by means of your conscience. There are guidelines for life in all religions. You do not have to be Christian to be eligible to enter into God’s universal spirituality. The Lamb refers to God as He has revealed Himself to mankind through the person of Jesus Christ. He is there for everyone who desires to know God as a wise, powerful, loving Being.

What Truth Does for You

Also in the vision was a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the lamb. This symbolises the revealed truth of the Word flowing from God. Water represents the truth. Truth does for your mind what water does for your body – cleanses, refreshes and quenches your thirst. Meditate on God’s Word when you thirst for truth and He will be with you to enlighten you. He is there to bring comfort and help in times of trouble and will show you the way forward and bless your life as you put your trust in Him.

In the middle of the street and on either side of the river was the tree of life bearing twelve fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. This represents God’s life bearing fruit through you as you put your faith into practice with love, by caring for others and turning your back on wrongdoing. The leaves of the tree are the many rational ideas from God that become the means of all kinds of spiritual healing, e.g. the truth of His constant love for each one of us, and belief in the life after death.

Your Relationship with the Divine

Finally, it is said that God’s people will see Him face to face and His name will be on their foreheads. This means that God is your Creator and Saviour and when you turn to Him, you are drawn to Him in a love relationship and find peace in the knowledge that your spiritual home is with Him in heaven.

Jenny