Trials and Fermentations

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour until all of it was leavened. (Matthew 13:33)

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Bible Re-Viewed

Littlest to Biggest

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds; yet when it has grown it is the largest of the plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and roost in its branches. (Matthew 13:31–32)

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Bible Re-Viewed

Wheat? Or Weeds?

The kingdom of heaven is like someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. (Matthew 13:24–25)

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Bible Re-Viewed

The Kingdom of Heaven is Near!

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” (Matthew 4:17)

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Bible Re-Viewed

Introduction: On Earth as it is In Heaven

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

For the Introduction to On Earth is it is In Heaven, please click here.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Bible Re-Viewed

On Earth as it is In Heaven, by Lee Woofenden – Online Edition

On Earth as it is In Heaven - front cover

Dear Readers,

In 2005 I published a book containing a series of sermons that I had preached a couple of years earlier. Here is the description from the back cover (links added):

On Earth as it is In Heaven

Reflections on Jesus’ Parables of the Kingdom
and Emanuel Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell has always been Emanuel Swedenborg’s most popular book—and for good reason. Yet here we all are, living on earth, not in heaven. What good is talking about heaven if it doesn’t make a difference for our lives here on earth?

Jesus responds with: “On earth as it is in heaven.” You can think of this book as a commentary on that one line from the Lord’s Prayer. What does it mean for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? What is God’s will, anyway? And how do we do it here on earth?

Another way of asking these questions is: How do we make earth more like heaven?

In eleven reflections originally preached as sermons in the fall of 2003 at the New Jerusalem Church in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the Rev. Lee Woofenden explores this question, drawing on Jesus’ Parables of the Kingdom from the Gospel of Matthew for inspiration, and using Swedenborg’s spiritual classic Heaven and Hell as a guide.

You are invited to delve into these pages and seek out many pearls of wisdom about the kingdom of heaven, and its practical meaning for our everyday lives on earth.

Since this little book is currently out of print, I have decided to post it chapter-by-chapter here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life. I hope you will find it enjoyable and enlightening.

For the Table of Contents, please click here.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Afterlife, The Bible Re-Viewed

Response to a Calvinist Critique of my article “Faith Alone Does Not Save”

In a recent comment, a reader named Robert B. asked for my response to an article by a Calvinist teacher named John Calahan. That article, which I’ll link for you in a moment, is a critique of my article, “Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does.”

Why am I responding to Mr. Calahan’s critique?

Because one of my readers asked me to.

Why am I responding at length?

Because the terribly false, unbiblical, and unloving beliefs that “Christian” leaders such as Mr. Calahan and his Calvinist comrades teach are destroying Christianity and driving millions of thoughtful, good-hearted people away from Jesus Christ and the Bible.

John Calvin, by Hans Holbein the Younger

John Calvin

John Calvin (1509–1564) took Martin Luther’s newly invented doctrine of justification by faith alone and made it even worse by adding doctrines such as total depravity and predestination to create a highly toxic mix. The most insidious and blasphemous element of Calvin’s doctrine is the assertion that God had already chosen before Creation who would go to heaven and who would go to hell.

Calvinists say that God created most people specifically for eternal torture in hell, regardless of how good and loving they may be. Mahatma Gandhi, they say, is now roasting in the eternal flames of hell because God had already decided that Gandhi was going to hell long before he was born.

When thoughtful, good-hearted people today hear these unjust, bigoted, and hateful beliefs being preached in the name of Christianity, they run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.

It’s bad enough for the Lutheran branch of Protestantism to say that only people who believe in Jesus are saved, and most of the world’s population is going to hell. But the Calvinists say you don’t even have a choice. God sends most people to hell just because that’s what God wants to do. And we humans have no right to question God’s outrageous actions.

This is nothing like what Jesus teaches in the Bible. It blasphemes the name of God. It misrepresents and slanders Jesus Christ and every other teacher in the Bible.

That’s why young people today are fleeing Christianity in droves. They are either becoming “spiritual but not religious” or are moving all the way over to agnosticism and atheism.

And that’s why I am responding at length to Mr. Calahan’s article.

For more on the toxicity of Calvinism, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

How has Religion become a Justification for Murder?

Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan

Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan

Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan began their ’round-the-world bicycle trip in South Africa in July of 2017. They pedaled through several countries in Africa, then through Europe, and then into central Asia.

All along the way, people followed their journey on their blog, Simply Cycling, and on their Instagram feed. Jay and Lauren spoke of the beauties of the landscape through which they traveled, of their struggles and triumphs cycling day after day and month after month, of the friendliness and kindness of so many people in so many places, and yes, of the disinterest or outright meanness of a few.

However, in July, 2018, as they were climbing the mountain passes of the old Silk Road through Tajikistan, their posts and updates abruptly stopped mid-story. Sad news came of an attack in which religious extremists killed Jay, Lauren, and two other cyclists from Switzerland and the Netherlands. You can read about their journey and its heartbreaking end here:

Whether or not the killers were actually affiliated with ISIS is hard to know for sure. Regardless, the attackers believed that they were doing a good deed by killing infidel unbelievers. The Tajik authorities did an efficient job of tracking down those responsible for these senseless killings. But the four cyclists remain just as dead.

And the question remains: How has religion become a justification for murder?

For more on murder in the name of religion, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events

Do God and Spirits Influence People and Things in the Physical Universe?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named AJ739:

Dear Lee,

Your website has massively helped me overcome my anxiety that was brought on by the New Age Movement and their beliefs, but I have two questions:

Can God/spirits cause things to happen to people? For example, can God/spirits cause a man to kill another or can God/spirits cause a warlord to start a war on various people at a time?

And finally, does God influence the universe? For example could God use outside forces to rearrange building structures or the Earth’s structure?

Many thanks.

Thanks for the great questions, AJ739! I think and hope this response will reduce your New-Age-induced anxiety level a couple more notches.

In previous eras, almost everyone believed that God and spirits, both good and evil, not only influenced but controlled everything from the weather to the fertility of crops, herds, and wives to victory and defeat in battle. And so they prayed and sacrificed to their gods, to the spirits of their ancestors, and to the demons and angels that populated the spiritual realms.

In today’s more rational and scientific age, talking about God doing miracles and spirits influencing events is enough to get a person grouped in with wild-haired men in the streets shouting about the end of the world.

angel and devil on the shoulders memeAnd yet, too many people have had too many experiences suggesting that God and the spiritual realms are indeed very close to us, intimately intertwined with our lives.

What are we to think? Do God and spirits influence people and things in the physical universe? Do they shift buildings and start wars?

Yes and no. Let’s take a closer look.

For more on the influence of God and spirits, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Science Philosophy and History

Didn’t Jesus Say it’s Better to be Celibate than Married?

Matthew 19:3–12 records this conversation of Jesus, first with some Pharisees, then with his disciples:

Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?”

He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?”

He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

Traditional Christians, especially Catholic clergy, commonly point to this passage as proof that it is better to be celibate than married.

But Jesus didn’t say that.

This common misinterpretation is built on a basic error in reading Jesus’ words. It also confuses celibacy with being a eunuch. The two are not the same.

We’ll save Jesus’ words about divorce for a future article. For now, let’s take a closer look at what Jesus did and didn’t say about marriage in Matthew 19:3–12.

For more on marriage, celibacy, and eunuchs, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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