Thursday, January 31, 2008

Love - Job and the parable of the tares and wheat

Just got off the phone with someone who compared the story of Job to the parable of the tares and the wheat. In the parable the Sower has planted good seed but up comes a batch of weeds as well. His workers challenge him with that age-old question: If you only had good seed, where did the bad stuff come from? Don't we all wonder about that occasionally?

Job was innocent and yet, his friends, seeing the outward picture of loss and disease, assumed there was an inner problem. Some great sin, that God was choosing to punish in this way. It seems to come down to whether or not you believe God is all, fills all space....or....that there is some place, some situation that you could be in where God is not present, where good is not omnipotent.

I have always read God's questions to Job, when He addresses him from the whirlwind, as accusatory. This morning, I read them as if God were speaking with gentleness and compassion. Where were you? Why, my dearest child, you were always with me. You are the child of Genesis One, with Me before the creation of the world. Are you believing there is someone or something that can challenge Me? Some devil or error?

I think all Job was 'guilty' of was in not trusted in the goodness and allness of God. We can see that he no longer resents God but he might have had some lingering resentment toward his three 'friends', who came to console with him, but believed in his guilt. So God's assignment for Job is to pray for those friends, and when Job can do that, the healing is complete for all of them.

When God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind Job is overwhelmed by the infinite power of the Creator. He sees things from God's perspective, not his own. Job had heard about God but now he has had a personal encounter. He sees far beyond the little petty deity accepted by his friends, an idol made by man. The Interpreter's Bible says "...we must remember that Job's answer was found, not in his friends' talk about a God who puts everything right in the world's affairs, nor even in what God says and does, but in God himself."

We don't need to inform God, infinite Mind, of anything. He already knows all. Through prayer and study we can 'see' understand God and our beautiful relationship with Him. When He askes where we were when He laid the foundation of the world, He expects us to answer that we were right there with Him when the morning stars sang together.

Be at peace.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Love - C.S. friends or Job's friends?

Yesterday we read about Job's fall from the wealthiest man in Uz to a man with no possessions and his children. But he did not blame God. Now he is afflicted with severe boils. His wife leaves him and three friends come to commiserate. They hope to obtain a confession of guilt that will save Job's soul. They only bring greater anguish.

Eliphaz, the eldest, is a Temanite, a desert dweller. His manner reflects the barren land in which he lives. Bildad is a Shuhite, a pit dweller and he sees no hope for one in the depths of despair. Zophar, is a Naamathite, an easy liver. The line of least resistance appeals to him. He can be swayed by whoever presents the best arguement. When they see Job, they are appalled. They perform funeral rites of mourning for him, expecting him to succumb. His downfall is complete. They remain silent for seven days, when Job most needs words of comfort and affection. When they do speak Eliphaz says 'who ever perished being innocent, Bibldad says 'if you were blameless God would come to your aid' and Zophar is completely unsympathetic refering to his 'wickedness'. Job calls them 'miserable comforters'. He knows he might speak as they have but hopes he would have done something to assuage their grief.

Here is a lesson for us all when someone we know goes through a really rough time physically, emotionally or financially. We must not be appalled by appearances, we must not jump to the wroong conclusions. We must definitely not become 'miserable comforters' looking for whatever our friend must have done, said or thought that lead to this problem. Mrs. Eddy gives us some wonderful guidelines. She writes that the doctrine of Christian Science is that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation or object. Divine Love cannot be deprived of one of its children. When bringing comfort to family members or friends it is vital to reach out with love, what Mrs. Eddy calls Love being reflected in love. Instead of relishing their guilt, let's rejoice in their innocence and purity. She says "The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father's loving-kindness".

So if this opportunity comes your way today, choose to be Christian Science friends and not Job's friends. Bring a tender word and some encouragement to the situation. Be patient with their fears and troubles. Jesus always showed compassion but never pity. Know that even their darkest moments they are not separated from Love. God is a very present help in trouble.

Tomorrow we see how God comes to Job.

Be at peace.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Love - And the man from Uz

Job was a patriarch in the land of Uz, a highly respected and honored man. When he came into the city he was invited to judge by the gate, where he had his own seat that no one else occupied. His name was synonymous with righteousness, and in our day with patience. He used his wealth to help the widows and orphans and he offered shelter to travelers. He always acknowledged God as its source. Yet Job had his own sorrows. His sons no longer chose to live at home but gathered for feasts with their unmarried sisters. He may have been alienated from his children by his inflexible attitudes. He spent his day making sacrifices on behalf of each child to atone for their behavior. He conformed meticulously to the rituals of his church. Perfection can be hard to live with. Evil was a powerful reality to Job. Yet, God considered Job his champion on earth.

In the story, the sons of God gathered in His presence, Satan among them. Satan, at this time, was viewed as only having the power to accuse and oppose. God asks him where he has been and his answer is a clear indication of the mischief of error 'going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it'. Many of our problems come from this attitude of wavering back and forth over an issue, going back and forth in our devotion to church or family, variableness. As for 'up and down' how often that brings unhappiness; if our weight is up or down, if our check book balance is up or down, if the stock market is up or down, if our mood is up or down, etc. Satan has been wandering around looking for a perfect man and God reminds him of Job. Job is to be tested.

In a series of shocking events Job loses his wealth, his possessions, his children. Up to this point Job's religion sustains him. He expresses overwhelming grief but does not turn from God. He declares everything belongs to God including himself. He passes the first test. But Satan is not finished. His true purpose is to challenge God by showing which is more powerful, good or evil. The first test took away Job's substance, the second will threaten to destroy his soul and his will to live. Does it seem unjust for Job to suffer? Was it unjust for Jesus to suffer?

Job ends up covered with boils, sitting on a rubbish heap and his wife leaves him. Now all Job has is God. Word spreads rapidly of Job's misfortunes. The doctrine of divine retribution implies Job must have committed some great sin to be punished this way. Tomorrow we will go on to meet three of his friends that come to comfort him. For today, I want to have compassion on this good man, who has his faults, but faces this challenge alone with God.

We may have what we consider 'Job challenges' with our children, with our income, with our spouse. Studying this story may give insight in how to pray about these things. Job believed in the power of evil. As students of Christian Science we learn not to be impressed by the power evil claims to have but to see instead the all-power of divine Love. A well known speaker on Bible characters, Cobby Cristler, says that Job was from the land of Us. So it is well worth spending some time with his story.

Be at peace.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Love - Jesus reversed the parade

This week's Bible Lesson is about God as Love. Not just a loving God, but Love itself. Most of the lesson refers to the story of Job and I will get into that tomorrow. For today I want to set the tone for the week by another story included in the lesson. This is about Jesus and the widow's son. It is in Luke 7: 11-15

Just prior to this Jesus had been approached by a committee on behalf of a Centurion. He had a servant who was dear to him (that tells a lot right there) and he had asked the elders of the Jews to go to Jesus and have him come and heal the servant. The elders spoke well of this man, saying he was worthy of help as he had been a friend to the Jews and built them a synogogue. Jesus agrees to go but as he approaches, the Centurion sends out messengers saying that Jesus is not to trouble himself by actually coming to the house. The Centurion is a man with many men under his command and he understands authority. He believes Jesus needs only to speak the word and the servant will be healed. Jesus marvels at the confidence behind those words. When those servants return to the house they find the man whole that had been sick.

From there Jesus and his followers head toward the city of Nain, accompanied by a great crowd of people. There must have been quite a buzz as they marveled over the healing work Jesus was doing. As they came near the city gate they saw a procession coming out of the city. It was a dead man being carried out to be buried. A crowd as large as their own accompanied the mother. This was her only son and she was a widow. In those times that made her situation very difficult. She would have no one to care for or protect her. Jesus understood that and had compassion for her.

Now Luke refers to Jesus as Lord for the first time. Jesus speaks to the woman telling her to weep no more. Both groups of people must have been wondering what he planned to do. Those traveling with him may have passed along to the others what had just happened with the Centurion's servant. Jesus touched the bier, so that those carrying it stopped. He speaks directly to the young man, saying unto him 'arise'. And he who had been dead, sat up and began to speak. One wonders what he said. Jesus then delivers him to his mother. One wonders what she said.
Now both crowds merge and what started out as a funeral procession becomes a celebratory parade of great rejoicing. Jesus completely turned that seemingly hopeless situation around.

The Golden Text is ....Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou are mine. This is what Love does. Love knows us by our name, on a very personal basis. It calls to us and reminds us that we have been redeemed. It reminds us just who we belong to. You belong to divine Love who is watching over every aspect of your being. Love completely turns any seemingly hopeless situation around. When that really sinks into your thought, when you really 'get' it....I wonder what you will say.

Be at peace.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Truth - Jesus, the leper, and Zacchaeus

This week's Bible lesson on Truth continues with three incidents where Truth eliminated error. The two I'll pray with today concern an inner problem. Tomorrow I'll work with Jesus stilling the storm, an challenge coming from outside of oneself.

Lepers were treated with contempt and fear. It was believed that the rotting on the outside of the body indicated some great sin committed on the inside. There were different degrees of the disease but the worst cases were required to wear a bell and announce their presence by calling 'unclean, unclean' for any contact with them would make one unclean as well. It was an awful existence, cut off from any human contact. On this day, Jesus was already out and about mingling with the multitude. Moved with compassion for them, he was healing the sick. Then a leper approaches, a sinner. Jesus did not accept the picture of illness or the belief that it had become a part of someone. Now he faced this man and did not accept the picture of decay or the belief that this man was a sinner. Only God could heal this man, the physicians of that time had no known cure.

Notice how the leper treated Jesus. He worshipped him, recognizing his status as the son of God. He addresses him as Lord. He believes that Jesus has the power to work this cure. He is only unsure if Jesus would be willing to do this for him. What a gracious answer and how lovingly it must have been spoken. I will. Be clean. With compassion, Jeus reaches out and touches the man, knowing he cannot be contaminated by what is not there. And with that, immediately, the leperousy was gone.

In the next section of the lesson, Jesus is again confronted with a sinner. This time it is someone from the higher levels of society, but he too is looked down upon for his profession as a publican.
Zacchaeus was chief among those in the custom house, where money was exchanged. Yet this man wanted so much to see Jesus that he threw aside his dignity and climbed a tree to see over the crowd. He is seeking Jesus in his own way without directly approaching him. But Jesus sensed his receptivity, paused under that tree and told him to hurry down for he was going to eat dinner at his house tonight. And he announced this in front of the crowd who surely knew Zacchaeus' reputation. This city of Jericho had many priests and temples so it was significant that Jesus chose instead to dine with this man. The shortened version of the story skips over the feast and anything Jesus might said. But the result is clear. After the feast or even the next day, Zacchaeus stood up to proclaim his conversion. He is now prepared to make good and atone for his previous actions. This healing had widespread effects for those around him were amazed and converted as well, his family and household servants.

Do you hold in thought the belief that you are unworthy because of some past or present way of thinking? Are you laboring under some long-term physical problem that seems incurable? Have you committed unjust acts in your past that cause others to think of you as a sinner? Mrs. Eddy writes on page 411 of Science and Health "Whatever is cherished in mortal mind as the physical condition is imaged forth on the body." What image of yourself are you cherishing?, holding as true? Maybe it is time to turn to the Christ and be willing to let it go. Be willing to be forgiven and change your ways. Come to see yourself as He sees you, free from sin and sickness. It is never too late and the results can be immediate.

Be at peace.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Truth - Manna and Quail

Yesterday I wrote about Moses turning aside to see the burning bush, having a conversation with God and being sent to Pharoah to let the people go. The next section of the lesson picks up this story after they have crossed the Red Sea and begun their journey to freedom. They are on the Sinai peninsula, a vast limestone plateau that was almost waterless and bare of vegetation. After a brief stop at Elim, a Wadi with sparse palms and some water holes, they continue on. They have been on the march for about a month and a half and the novelty is wearing off. They begin to 'murmur'. They must begin to let go of their former life and trust in the Lord for provision. Hungry and thirsty, they look back instead to their days of slavery where they were at least fed. Moses turns to God in prayer and is given a promise. They will have food provided every day.

How often we pray for something and when the answer comes it is not in the form we expected. Not only are they given meat, but quails appear. Their meat is considered a delicacy. In other words they did not get your everyday chicken. In a single season, 160,000 birds have been netted in this area. But not at this season. God employed a natural means in providing deliverence from hunger. The miracle was not in a new creation, but in the timely arrival and vast quantities.

They also recieved 'daily bread' in what they called manna. It would appear, fresh every morning, on the ground. They could gather as much as they needed but it only lasted for that day. A new supply appeared the next day and every day... for 40 years. This appearing could not be explained as a natural occurance.

So when we pray we do not have to inform God of our needs or wants. He already knows. It is His good pleasure to provide for us. We may ask for 'bread and water' but He provides manna and quail. We can look to God daily for whatever we need. What the children of Israel needed 40 eyars to 'unlearn' was false reliance on evil masters. What they gained was total trust in God, good and their true status as cherished children of God. He is Our Father and He gives us grace for today.

Be at peace.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Truth - Where's your burning bush?

The Bible lesson raises an interesting question. In the story of Moses, which falls into three distinct parts, the second part is his wilderness experience. Born a slave, adopted by a princess, he is raised with all the privileges of royalty, until he killed an overseer who was beating a slave. He was forced to flee into the wilderness where he came to stay with Jethro, married one of his daughters and became a humble shepherd. Leading the flock to pasture he sees something unusual, a bush that is on fire, but is not consumed. Seeing his receptivity and curiosity, God speaks to him, something that has not happened before. Moses is told to take off his shoes for he is on holy ground. God is present. To take off the shoes is an ancient as well as modern way of expressing reverence in the East. Reverence is not only due to God but is the first condition of receiving divine truth. God tells Moses He is aware of the slavery of the Israelites and will send Moses to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey, indicating fertility and abundance.

Moses spent 40 years as a prince in Egypt, followed by 40 years as a humble shepherd. Now he is to lead the people on a 40 year wilderness experience ending with their arrival at the Promised Land. So he is in his 80's when he encounters the burning bush. but this kind of thing can happen to us at any age. You may have had a time of prosperity, followed by a time of lack and humility. You may have been free of health problems only to seem stuck with an unyielding physical problem. You may have been in a happy relationship for many years only to go through years of struggle as it deteriorates. It is at this point that you get your own 'burning bush' wake up call. It may have something to do with how you spent that time, your receptivity to getting closer to God.

Somehow, one day, you realize there is a better way, an answer, a solution, if you can only find it. You turn aside from the path you have been on and are willing to pray and listen to God. In this moment, you feel His very real presence. Right then you are on holy ground. What you will eventually come to see is that you have always been on holy ground. There is no place you can go where God is not.

Your burning bush may be subtle or startling. What matters is how you respond to it. Mentally take off your shoes and know that you are on holy ground God will show you the way. The answer will be provided. Even if it is not the answer you were expecting. I'm sure the last thing Moses wanted to do was to return to Egypt and make demands on Pharoah. But he obeyed, because he came to understand that God would be with him and accomplish His holy purpose. God will do that for you too.

Be at peace.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Truth - Which mirror will you choose?

This week's Bible lesson is Truth and the Golden Text will be our guide. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

Have your ever stood in front of a fun house mirror. The images, badly distorted, can present a funny picture. It's not so funny when you are actually struggling with a weight issue. But even as you look at it, you know that is not your true reflection. No one is making you stand in front of a distorting mirror. The Bible tells is in Genesis that God made us in His image and likeness. The reflection is as perfect as God, the Original. Exactly the same. No distortions.

So you have the divine right to choose which mirror you will believe. And when you do, you have the right to claim the correct image and likeness based on the wonderfulness of the Original. God created us. We are Mind's idea. The Bible also tells us that God saw all that He had made and it was not just good, it was very good.

Spend the day with the real image and likeness. Think about how great and good and loving God is. Consider how divine Love is watching over you, how Mind has planned your day and included every right idea in it. All that is what the true reflection contains. Remember that if it is not on the Original, it is not part of you. If you saw a smudge on your face because the mirror was dirty, would you go wash your face...or would you simply clean off the mirror? Then you would see that the smudge never touched you because it was not on the original.

That is the truth of our being, our be-ing. Oneness with the Original. All you have to do is know this truth and it will show you that you are free from anything that is not a part of God's goodness.

Be at peace.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Life - You can't lose anything!

I love it when a sentence in our Bible lesson just seems to light up when I am studying. That happened this morning. It came from the 3rd section of the lesson on Life, from john 6:38. Jesus is speaking to a multitude of curious listeners. They were attracted to him as fame of his healing work spread. Jesus uses this opportunity to teach. He refers to himself as the bread of life and promises that those who come to him will never hunger or thirst. This supports one of the Beatitudes he gave during the Sermon on the Mount: blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

(I have a sour dough starter in our fridge and make fresh bread about once a week. This morning I am trying a whole wheat recipe. There is so much I love about his parable of the leaven. It makes complete sense to anyone who works with yeast. I'm sure this loaf will be as delicious to eat as it is fun to prepare.)

He contines his teaching with this sentence and this is what started a wonderful train of thought. "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing." The Message Bible interprets that as ""This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father is completed - not a single detail missing." I began to apply that to my Father's will for me and then for my patients. All that God has given me; all my qualities, gifts, talents, eyesight, hearing, patience, goodness, gentleness, supply, health, right ideas, cannot be lost or diminished in any way. That is His will. These are His gifts to me and there is nothing that can make me lose an iota of any of them. Nothing can be misplaced or forgotten. No sense of loss or something missing from my life. That's God's will.

And not just for me but for everyone of His ideas. That includes you. And your family. And your church family. And your job. And your income. You cannot lose anything God has given you and He made you in His own image and likeness. Just think what that includes.

I'm off to the next step in bread making. But I will continue to pray with these ideas.

Be at peace.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Life - Wheat or Tares? Planting and weeding.

Continuing on with this week's Bible lesson on Life, as a synonym for God, we come to one of Jesus' parables. He was addressing a great multitude of people who had gathered by the sea side. He had already given them the parable about the kingdom of heaven by telling about a sower who sowed his seed on different types of soil. Now he continues his teaching with something closer to home, a sower working his own fields. This man has sown good seed, in modern terms we might think of it as reading his lesson, studying the Bible, attending church, obeying the Commandments. But as men slept, an enemy stole in and sowed tares in the same field. One Bible dictionary defines tares as poisonous grass, indistinguishable from the sprouting wheat. So these are those little whispered suggestions that would have us think unkind, angry or frightened thoughts. They are poisonous and try to disguise themselves as our own thoughts about persons, places and things. This can only happen when the field is unguarded, when we drift away from devotion to spiritual growth, or become apathetic. The two ways of thinking seem to grow side by side until the 'fruit' appears. If you have any questions about what form that 'fruit' takes read how Paul describes it in Galatians 5:19-23. Seeing this 'fruit', or for our purposes behaviors, the servants ask where, if the Sower had done his work, where did the tares come from? Isn't this just what error wants us to do? Divert attention from its nothingness by trying to make us accept it as a real problem or quality. (The question is not where it came from but is it real. ) The Sower is not fooled, he tells them that it is not in him, an enemy has done this. Now they want to get rid of the tares but the Sower knows that is not the way to deal with the problem. They will soon show their real identity and then it is easy to distinguish the real from the counterfeit.

Here is where we can make this parable very practical in our daily life. When 'tares' or those qualities listed in Galatians show up in our church, our community, our family, our friends, or our own self, we can know that it is not the church or the community or the family or friends, it is not in our own identity. It is nothing but a suggestion demanding that we make it real. We know it by its 'fruit' and can cast it out. Those roots may have been allowed to grow deep but they must yield to the power of God, good. In reality, Christian Science shows how they never really were a part of us or anyone else. Mrs. Eddy writes: 'The temporal and unreal never touch the eternal and real. The mutable and imperfect never touch the immutable and perfect. The inharmonious and self-destructive never touch the harmonious and self-existent. These opposite qualitites are the tares and wheat, which never really mingle, though (to mortal sight) they grow side by side until the harvest; then, Science separates the wheat from the tares, through realization of God as ever present and of man as reflecting the divine likeness".

Start your day sowing good seed, stay alert so the enemy can't sneak in any wrong ideas, and be diligent in removing from your day anything that doesn't belong there. Remember that God is always present, good is always present, and you are made in that image and likeness. No tares!

Be at peace.

Monday, January 14, 2008

True tribute

This week's Bible lesson on Life has a parable, a crucifixtion and resurrection, and a stoning. The theme given in the Golden text is everlasting life. But before I share some things from my own study, let's begin with the importance of choosing good. Mrs. Eddy writes in the first section: "How important, then, to choose good as the reality!" That is a part of every healing, the choosing of the presence of good and its power over the lie claiming dominion over us. It's the following sentence on page 514 that caught my attention today. "Man is tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else."

I looked up 'tributary' and it has two meanings. One is 'to pay gratitude'. Expressing our gratitude to God is our tribute to divine Love. God is the only one we pay tribute to, or else we would be breaking the first commandment. God doesn't want or need our money. That is not the tribute we pay. We pay tribute to God by honoring all that is true about Him and about ourselves, made in His image and likeness. Nothing else has power or is real.

The second definition is 'a stream that flows into a larger body of water'. Interesting to think of ourselves as that little stream that joins up with the large body of water, gaining strength and power.

We can use both definitions as we pay tribute to Good. We can be sure we do not divide our allegiance. We can see the God is the source and we are tributary to that source, able to be a part of it and having all of it available to us. And as we love our neighbors we are con-tributing.

Tomorrow we will look closely at Jesus' parable of the tares and the wheat.

Be at peace.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Songs - And foot washing

Here is a very thought-provoking new song. It comes from the fourth section of this week's Bible lesson. Jesus was celebrating what is called the Last Supper with his disciples. Unlike the Jewish Passover, this was the beginning of a new song, a Christian Passover, where death is not going to just pass over the children of God, but be defeated.

The disciples had been disputing who would be the greatest among them when Jesus rose up from the table. Dummelow's Commentary says not one of them would serve at the feast, for fear of being thought inferior to the others. Jesus, after waiting a little for one of them to offer, rose himself. Not content with waiting on the table, which might upon occasion be done by a person of good position, he washed their feet, the function of a slave. He made it quite clear that we are treat each other as he treated those disciples.

Now this does not mean to station yourself at the door and offer to wash the feet of whoever comes to church that morning. But you could be alert to the family trying to get all their kids in safely from the parking lot and offer to lend a hand. You might look around the church and see the one job no one else wants to do and quietly do it.

This applies to all our life, not just church. It might be doing that chore around the house that no one has done forever. Putting away a pile of things that have collected on some table. It might be showing kindness to a coworker when that is the last thing you feel like doing. It is so nice to be around someone who is courteous and has good manners.

Sing a new song as you do it. Don't do it begrudgingly, but with humility and calm and tenderness and kindness. The act should let the person recieving it feel your respect and meekness in all the good things that meekness really means. Mrs. Eddy describes that as self-forgetfulness, purity and affection. We should be willing to do this because the benefit is ' growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.

Sing a new song today.

Be at peace.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Songs - All things become new

Have you ever wished for a new lease on life, a new hairstyle, a new friend, a new bank balance? Try singing a new song. That is what this week's Bible lesson is all about.

We've already seen how Hezekiah went about establishing a new way of preparing his 'house', and how Jesus went about healing in a new way, loosing someone who had been bound to the same old song for 18 years. Today we'll talk about a man who came to visit Jesus, curious about this new way of thinking about the kingdom of heaven.

Nicodemus was a respected Pharisee and member of the ruling Sanhedrin. He had listened to Jesus and was aware of the storm of controversy surrounding his teachings. And yet, this radical thinker was healing all manner of sin and sickness among the people. Nicodemus felt he could not have had that effect unless he had God's backing. What really interested him was Jesus' words about baptism and those who would enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus' response was to tell him he needed to be 'born again', a new birth and a new beginning. A startling concept.

Here is the part that seems so utterly awesome to me. Those who turn to the Christ become new creatures, old things pass away and all things become new. Wow! Dissatisfied with your present body? This spiritual understanding can lead to healing and the revelation of your true identity as God's beloved child, divine Mind's very idea. And that idea was and is perfect, no physical problems to overcome. All those old ways of seeing and being pass away. All things become new. Dissatisfied with your present life? This spiritual understanding can lead to a better demonstration of supply, both financially and emotionally. All the ideas of Mind freely available to lead to solutions right here in the human experience. All things become new. Dissatisfied with your present spirituality? This spiritual understanding can lead to a whole new you, as you realize that you are and always have been the son or daughter of the King of heaven. With all that includes. All things become new. Your goodness and purity are intact. In fact, this section of the lesson has references to purity as the corner stone of all spiritual building and the purification of thought.

I love to work with the Beatitude mentioned in this section: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Use 'see' in the sense of understanding something, oh I see. Then substitute all seven synonyms given for God. For they shall understand that Principle, the laws of God, are operating on our behalf. They shall understand Mind, and know only what Mind is knowing about us. They shall understand Soul and see how all the faculties and qualities are intact; vision, hearing, emotion, touch. They shall understand Spirit to be the only real substance, immortal, imperishable, no deterioration or aging. They shall understand Life as the activity of God expressing Himself, all goodness. They shall understand Truth and be able to apply it to any thing that comes up for healing. They shall understand Love and see themselves (and everyone else) as loving, lovable, and lovely.

All things are become new. Worthy of a new song!

Be at peace.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Songs - Freedom from the 'spirit of infirmity'

A theme running throught this week's lesson is to 'sing a new song'. Yesterday I wrote about how Hezekiah did this by cleansing out the Temple and how we can do the same with our thinking about repeating 'the same old song' of some problem. Today, the next section of the lesson expands on that idea and shows how Jesus put it to practical use.

He was traveling around Galilee, teaching in the synogogues, preaching about the kingdom of God, and healing. One Sabbath day, he encountered a woman who had a 'spirit of infirmity'. We have all had this experience of seeing someone literally bowed down under some burden, looking careworn and ill. This woman was so bowed down with her 18-year struggle (one hopes it was not some teenage child causing this) that she couldn't even lift her head. She was always looking down, feeling hopeless. Jesus felt immediate compassion for her and although Jewish men did not speak to women in public, he called her to him. At least she had taken the time to attend a prayer service or had come to the temple to pray. There must have been some belief in God, but perhaps she was thinking of herself as unworthy. It may have been a false sense of personal responsibility. Jesus tells her that she is loosed from this infirmity. I'm sure he spoke with both gentleness and authority for the effect was instantaneous. Immediately she was made straight (a false belief about age and deteriorating bone structure?). Her reaction was to glorify God. Now, this must have been a new song, quite different from a repetition of her daily problems in the past.

Jesus, justifying his actions to those who were upset that he healed on the Sabbath day, describes her as one 'whom Satan had bound'. He did not condemn her but freed her from the aggressive mental suggestion that she had been in bondage to some unsolved problem. He knew she was not infirm, but suffering from the 'spirit of infirmity'. He saw her as divine Mind knows all of its ideas, he knew her as the child of divine Love, he claimed her true identity as the reflection of Truth, he understood her life to be Life expressing itself perfectly. Her thought was lifted and when the thought changed she was physically lifted as well.

Mrs. Eddy writes that 'In divine Science, man is the true image of God'. Understanding this, we can lift our thoughts, our 'spirit of infirmity' higher than what we had accepted before. Mrs. Eddy uses the term 'thought models'. Be sure your own thought models are pure and good and whole. Sing the right song.

Be at peace.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Songs - cleansing the temple

This week's Bible lesson shows how important it is to start each day with a new song that acknowledges the allness of God, good. Today I will share some thoughts about Hezekiah's experience with new beginnings. We read about him in both II Chronicles and II Kings. The Chronicles tell of his religious reforms while Kings is about the political events. In II Chronicles 29, Hezekiah, 25 years old, begins his reign. His reign will last for 29 years. It says 'he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord'. He begins by opening the doors of the Temple, which had been closed by Ahaz. The people now have a place for worship of the One God. He opened those doors and had them repaired. Sometimes we are devoted to our spiritual growth and other times we drift a bit. Then you find that something seems to be missing and it leads you back to study or church. Back to the Temple. It was always there, you may have chosen not to open the door for a while. Repair that.

Next he brought back the priests and Levites, gathering them together in a court by the east gate. His instructions to them were three-fold. They were to sanctify themselves, to sanctify the house of the Lord, and to carry out any filthiness from that holy place. To sanctify is to set aside for sacred us. They were to do this for themselves and for the church. We need to see that we are set aside for the sacred use of God, to be His reflection, His image and likeness. That's who and why we are. When our church service takes a few moments for silent prayer, that is not to be used for composing a grocery list, reliving an arguement with someone, looking around to see who did or did not attend the service. It is time set aside for a sacred use, praying for the congregation collectively and exclusively. Filth indicates a dirty or corrupt condition, something considered immoral. If you have brought that kind of thinking into church, get into the habit of leaving it outside. Then get rid of it altogether.

They worked hard to obey him and eight days later the Temple was clean. Now they were to make burnt sacrifices on the altar. Their sweet savor was to rise to heaven and please God. Can you think of something you would be willing to offer God today? A change of thought about someone or something, being more patient, forgiving a past hurt? Offer it to Him today. Do it in the spirit described in the text, a joyous song to God, given freely. That is what worship is about.

Sing a new song today. Do you find yourself repeating the same old complaints, making the same negative response, using bad language. Stop singing that song! What is it that God wants from you? To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly. (Micah6:8) Handle a situation justly. Be merciful when the occasion arises. Practice humility. Sing a new song.

Be at peace.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Red shoes, snowmen, and roses

One of the things I am doing for myself this year is re-reading a daily devotional book called Simpe Abundance. I discovered it in 1996, a year after it was published, have read it several times since then and am enjoying it again this year. I recommend finding a daily devotional that works for you. There are shelves full of them in the library and bookstores. This one blends well with the things I believe in. Today's entry asks an important question: What is it that makes you happy? What brings a smile to your face and a feeling of contentment? In 1926 a young Englishwoman decided to keep a journal and write down things that triggered a feeling of delight in her daily life. I think we must learn to savor small moments that bring on this feeling of happiness. We need to enjoy the life we are living through the simple pleasures. But there is a deeper source as well, a connection with God that gives us confidence in His creation and our part in it.

I once bought a pair of shoes that were red and covered with sparkles, like Dorothy's ruby slippers. Purchased on a whim, they languished in the back of my closet. Then I decided to wear them and they brought me delight all that day. I change the decorations around the house monthly. January is a snowman theme. A local artist created a series of snowmen figurines that I collected. This month they are arranged in a whimsical scene complete with frozen lake, picket fence, trees, snow and a patch where one snowman is growing carrots for noses. It makes me feel happy every time I look at it. From one window I can see the rose garden we started in our new home last spring. I have always planted roses wherever we lived and this promises to be the best garden ever, complete with a bench with an arch for climbing roses. It is dormant at the moment but I smile when I think about how it will look in a few months. I recently made a sour dough starter and bake sour dough bread once a week. Just smelling it warm from the oven makes me happy.

Simple things really, costing very little. But behind them is my love of beauty, color, order, giving to others. Seeing these things in my life is an affirmation that I am reflecting divine Love right here on earth. It reminds me that I am the recipient of divine Love's providing. I have the full support and blessing of divine Love in doing those things.

This week's Bible lesson, Sacrament, repeats the phrase 'a new song'. We are to sing a new song to God every day, make a joyful noise. What does sacrament mean to you? In classical Latin the sacrament designated the money deposited as a pledge by each party in a lawsuit; in military language it meant a soldier's oath. It has the sense of a solemn obligation. Theological usage includes the signs appointed by God that He may fully show us the promises of the Gospel. Christ Jesus appointed two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper. We have some inspiring stories in this lesson and I look forward to sharing what I learn from them as the week goes on.

For today, think about those things that make you happy. Appreciate all the good that is happening in your life. Look around you and be aware. Smile.

Be at peace.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Stay afloat, little cork

Today I am praying with the idea of corks. A cork will float in any water because of its qualities. You can only sink it by weighing it down. It is not hard to accept God as Spirit and spiritual but it is more challenging to see ourselves as spiritual, in His image and likeness. Yet, that is the truth presented in the Bible and the starting point for prayerful healing. It would be impossible to weigh down a spiritual idea. There is nothing to attach that weight to.

Jesus showed this concept to his disciples when he came to them, walking on water, right in the midst of a storm. He did not sink, but remained above the water, unaffected by the violence of the wind and waves. He did not get weighed down by the fear of the disciples and what they were thinking. He brought them into his sense of peace.

The dictionary has a second definition for cork; to stop or seal, to restrain or hold back. Which definition of cork would you like to see evident in your life today? It is your choice to make.

Here are some of the things I have gleaned praying about 'daily' this morning.
Security in the best sense of the word is being where God wants us to be daily.
When thought is filled with new ideas daily that supports changes in attitude and behavior.
Daily see healing as the necessary effect of walking with divine Love, thought by thought.

Be at peace.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Day by day

One of the places I turn to for spiritual inspiration is our hymnal. Sometimes the words and phrases in a hymn hold just the thought I need. Once I am familiar with the tune I can hum the hymn while I am driving or doing dishes or changing Katie Rose. Several hymns have 'day' or 'daily' in them. Today I am praying with Hymn 46. The words were written by Josiah Conder, (1829-1869), an editor and bookseller in London.

It begins: Day by day the manna fell. That is a reference to Exodus 16, where Moses was leading the people through the wilderness after their escape from years of slavery in Egypt. Not many grocery stores available in the desert, especially for this large a group. Part of the purpose of this wilderness experience was to give them time away from the customs and beliefs of Egypt and to help them return to the worship of one God. God showed them His lovingkindness and omnipotence by providing them with manna every day. For 40 years. It was described as a raining of bread from heaven, appearing on the ground each morning, and lasting just for that day. It tasted like wafers made from honey when ground up and made into cakes. This was literally like the 'daily bread' mentioned in the Lord's Prayer. In a spiritual sense, it was divinely supplied nourishment.

The hymn goes on to remind us that God's promises are fulfulled daily, giving us daily strength for daily needs. Our part is to 'cast foreboding fears away'. Foreboding means a sense of impending doom. We can look at our day and be sure that whatever is looming before us as a threatening or negative situation must be cast out for it does not have its source in divine Love.

The third verse has this phrase from Psalm 31:15. "My times are in Thy hand". I use that one every day when I begin to feel impatient with someone or something, when I am worried about the timing of some event, when I have too much or too little going on with the practice. It is a reminder of just Who is in control of my day. Part of Mrs. Eddy's definition of 'day' in the glossary is 'the unfolding of good'. So my times are under the government of divine Love and I can expect an unfolding of good daily.

The last verse begins: Thou, my daily task shalt give. I tend to be a 'list' person. I love to make lists and then check things off as they are done. It helps me be organized, which is a good thing, but can be frustrating when things do not get done when or how I think they should, which is a bad thing. That is when I need to stop and consider just what my daily task really is.

When my kids were small I used to keep a hymnal propped open in the kitchen. I would choose a hymn for that day and then be reminded of it several times as I prepared meals. I also keep a small paperback words only hymnal in the car. That has come in handy more times than I can count. There are many CD's available with the hymns, nice for a change of pace when you are commuting or on a long drive. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord today.

Be at peace.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy Dayclean

We had a fun New Year's Day, a nice blend of sitting together to watch the Rose Parade and an afternoon of putting away Christmas decorations. Now it really feels like the holiday season is behind me and a new year has begun. This year I will be working with 'daily' and this morning I found a really interesting concept. It is from a Sentinel article, Any Moment can be a Fresh Start. The writer says that in the Gullah language there is a word 'dayclean' that means dawn. In her household they use it to mean a fresh start, wiping the slate clean, not dragging along yesterday's baggage into today.

When her son was in elementary school he was having one of those days when he was in trouble at school and at home, one thing after another. Finally he sat back and sighed, "I wish it was time to go to bed, and when I woke up, it would be dayclean". Haven't we all had days like that! The good news is that we don't have to carry our behavior or choices into the next day. We don't need to go to sleep to have dayclean. Just the opposite! We need to awaken right here and now to the goodness of God and His creation. A fresh start does not require time or rest, but to see the need for, and the willingness to accept a new view. A new way of thinking about yourself, your life, your family, your work. We don't need to wait for future good, because good is present here and now. Both our attitude and our experience can be transformed.

You can live this day as who you really are, the expression and expressing of good. Divine Love created you loving, lovable, and lovely. That is your true nature. You can have an immediate fresh start in any situation. This gives you poise and patience. Drop anything that is unlike good and leave it on the ground. You have dominion over the earth.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, BEHOLD, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW." (Rev 21). I would pray with this and add 'daily' to the end. Divine Love makes all things new daily.

Be at peace today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year...and new beginnings

I could hardly wait to get started this morning. My tradition is to watch the Rose Parade, still in pjs with a chocolate chip muffin and a pot of tea. Then, after lunch, to put away all the Christmas decorations and bring out my snowman things. I've looked forward to that. But with even more excitement, I look forward to starting a new year of spiritual growth with the study God has given of 'daily'.

As I listened for what He wants me to know about this subject, many ideas flowed into thought. The daily duties. The definition of day in the glossary of Science and Health. Jacob telling the angel to let him go 'for the day breaketh'. Mrs. Eddy's explanation of the 'third day' in the Chapter about Genesis. I remembered some hymns on this topic. Day by day the manna fell. This is the day the Lord has made. My prayer some daily good to do. I will get to work with all of these ideas this year.

From our weekly Bible lesson: Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. And: To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings.

From the Sentinel of December 31: An article entitled Every Day a New Day, two Biblical quotes: It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are renewed every morning. (Lam 3:22, 23). Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which He will show you today. (Ex 14:13).

During 2007 I ended each blog with Go in peace. For 2008 I will change that to Be at peace today. There is much to be gained by deliberately starting each day honoring it as God's day. We can see that in God's day no circumstance is beyond His control. Because it is divine Love's day, Love brought it into being and it will be filled with goodness. Because is is divine Mind's day, it must fulfill Mind's purpose. Because each day is filled with the substance of Spirit, it must include everything we will need.

Be at peace today.