Friday, May 30, 2008

Adversaries and adversity

This week's Bible lesson has a somewhat archaic title but when you think about it hypnotism and mesmerism are just as active today as they were in Mrs. Eddy's time. Maybe even more so, with all the advances in technology making it irresistible to spend one's time on the internet. Modern newscasts depict tragedies moments after they happen and the viewer is rarely prepared not to take in what they are seeing. On the surface there seems to be nothing but adversity and adversaries. How can we deal with it all? Through prayer, turning to God as the source of all action and activity and understanding that all that He made is good. No one to oppose us and no fear of being attacked. The opposing factors of evil have no power to harm us.

Remember Moses' rod, the symbol of his authority. Thrown down before Pharaoh, it was to show the power of good. Pharaoh assumes it is a trick and has his own magicians duplicate it. But Moses' rod swallowed all of their up. Elijah is dismayed to see how the people have been inclined to follow Baal. Elijah invites the prophets of Baal to try to duplicate another display of power. They call upon their gods for a show of fire, but nothing happens until Elijah does the same and his prayers are answered. Job is afflicted with a painful case of boils, which in his time is considered an outward sign of some sin. Job comes to see his innocency is intact and that this situation was not of God's doing at all. God was neither the adversary nor the cause of the adversity. Jesus, after hearing directly from God at the time of his baptism, goes off into the wilderness to ponder just what it means to be the beloved child of God and what power that includes. Satan shows up to test him but each 'what if' challenge is met with the Word of God and Satan gives up and goes away. Finally, Paul and Silas are beaten and imprisoned after healing a woman possessed with the power of divination. Her masters stirred up the people and the apostles ended up in prison. Their response to this adversity is to praise God and sing hymns. That must have made quite an impression on the other prisons for soon there is a great shift of thought, so great that it rocks the prison to its foundations. The result is that not only Paul and Silas chains fall off, but the bands of everyone are loosed. I love what that stands for spiritually.

So no matter what adversity or adversaries you seem to be facing today, take heart. Turn to God, the source of all good, and thank Him for his everpresent care. Watch for Him to move in your life, bringing resolution and peace. Be not afraid. The Golden Text assures us that He will give us rest on every side.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Slight Diversion

Normally I would be writing about this week's Bible lesson. It is certainly packed with ideas and I will be sharing some thoughts later this week. But this morning I was reading an article by Herbert Rieke and love his take on giving vs. getting. Here are two paragraphs I will be thinking about all day.

When you are a getter, all your thoughts go inward, you are an absorber. But when you are a giver, your thoughts all go outward and upward, and you are demonstrating that you know what it means to be a reflector or radiator of God, good.

Don't ever try to get acquainted. Give sincere acquaintance, and you will have many friends. Never try to get well. Acknowledge health as an ever-present divine quality and learn how to reflect or manifest it. Never attempt to get riches. See yourself as the wealthy child of a very wealthy heavenly Father, and devote your energies to sharing this spiritual wealth with others; then you will never lack anything.

Back to the lesson on How Not to be Fooled. The word 'adversary' runs all through it and many of us feel like we are facing an adversary or adversity of one kind or another. But the Golden Text, taken from I Kings, assures us that the Lord gives us rest on every side so that there is not adversary or evil occuring. No one to oppose us and no fear of being attacked. The lesson gives the examples of Moses up against the magicians of Pharaoh, Elijah facing down the prophets of Baal, Job vs Satan, Jesus' temptations in the wilderness, and Paul going to jail for healing a woman with the spirit of divination. Incidently, she didn't accuse him, her masters did when they saw all their profits vanish. Most of us can identity with one of these scenarios. Don't be fooled by error's claims. God gives us strength, intelligence and poise to handle all of them. We can see that divine Love gives us advocates and opportunties right where the trouble seems to be. An answer for every question and a solution for every challenge. Good news.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How Not to be Fooled

This week's Bible lesson has a long title but it comes down to 'how not to be fooled' or mesmerized by error or evil. We have to stay alert and not be lulled into believing something to be real that God never made or caused. If you are afraid of something, it does not have its source in God, good. In reality, thre is no one to oppose us and we never need to be afraid of being attacked. These opposing factors of error or evil have no real power to harm us.

An excellent example of this is given in Exodus as Mose and Aaron go before Pharaoh on behalf of the children of Israel. When God had given Moses this task, He had shown him how to proceed by telling him to throw down his rod, his shepherd's staff. Right before Moses' startled eyes it turned into a deadly snake. Moses took off. But God called him back and told him to pick it up by the tail no less. Moses obeyed and the 'snake' turned back into his rod. When they went to speak to Pharaoh, Moses entrusted his rod to Aaron. Moses tells Aaron to cast it down and it turns into a snake. Now Pharoah instantly decides that this is a trick, a very different reaction than Moses had. He calls his magicians to match this illusion and they are appear to do so. But in their case it is only trickery, no reality behind it, and Moses' rod swallows up their rods in this duel between reality vs illusion.

The purpose of the miraculous events was not only the deliverance of the children of Israel but the manifestation of God's character to the Egyptians. The purpose of such 'miracles' today when one applies the principles of Christian Science is to show the allness of God, good, and the powerlessness of that which is causing us fear or pain. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Divine Science reverses the false testimony of the material senses, and thus tears away the foundation of error." It leaves error nothing to stand on. No foundation in truth or reality. We no longer are afraid and it disappears, gets swallowed up. There is no one or no thing that can oppose God, no matter how real or frightening it might try to appear.

I was reading an address given by a Christian Scientist where he says, "Fear is the mental process of watching the shadows of evil and error rather than standing in praiseful, prayerful awe before the light of God, good."

Don't be fooled by something that has no power to harm you. Turn away from it and turn to God, who loves you dearly at all times and under all circumstances.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Daily inspiration proved

This morning I continued my study of the word 'daily' in relation to spiritual progress. I've spent a lot of this year studying the daily duties Mrs. Eddy provides for us and have moved on to the reference in the Lord's Prayer to 'daily bread'. As I prayed about that just now, I asked my Father to give me fresh 'bread', some new ideas to work with. The message came instantly. Go to the concordance to the bound volumes and enter the word 'daily'. I did and 257 references popped up. Some of them were for the things I have already studied but there were many, many more I hadn't thought of yet. It seems there are many slices to this loaf of 'daily bread' for me to consume.

I printed out two pages of articles to look up and am looking forward to that. But three phrases jumped out and I will start with those. The first is from the Bible, Psalm 68:19. "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits." I think that runs parallel to the first sentence in Science and Health, "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings."

The second phrase is also from the Bible and refers to a dramatic healing by Peter and John. They were about to enter the temple for prayer when they noticed a man who was 'laid daily at the gate'. This man was lame from birth, had never stood on his own two feet or walked. He had spent much of his life right on this spot, carried there by his family and left to beg alms of those entering the temple. He asks them for money. Peter responded by saying he didn't have any but he could offer the man something else. He offered to heal him. Reaching down he took that man by the arm and lifted him up. Lifted him up in more ways than one. He lifted into a whole new view of himself and gave him the means to earn his own 'daily bread'. The man instantly felt strength in his bones and could walk. Not only did he walk, he leaped for joy. And for the first time, entered into that temple with them, praising God. Are we willing to do what Peter did or are we sitting outside the temple where we have laid out our troubles for all the world to see? Are you ready to lay aside your limitations and see yourself as God sees you?

The third phrase comes from Mrs. Eddy's writings. "If Truth is overcoming error in your daily walk and conversation, you can finally say, "I have fought a good fight....I have kept the faith," because you are a better man. This is having our part in the at-one-ment with Truth and Love."
(S&H 21) Think today about your daily walk and conversation. Is it in accord with God? Are you living your life, spending your day, choosing what you say as His child?

Well, I certainly have 'food for thought' and you can picture me walking around my room, laughing and leaping and praising God. Thanking Him for yet another proof of His daily benefits. I hope you will have the same kind of experience today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

About working

Today I have been working with something Jesus said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." i am seeing so many ways to use this. First it shows that God is constantly at work, expressing Himself with His creation. There is never a time when God is inactive, out of work, or bored. That means each of us is also always working, by reflection.

My eyes are always working properly, my hearing is working clearer, my body is at work functioning normally. Everything works just as it should. There is no separation between God, divine Mind, and His ideas. No separate life or activity going on. Mrs. Eddy writes that the divine Mind includes all action and volition and that man is governed by this Mind. Principle is the law which directs and controls all right activity. All work. Since volition means a conscious choice or decision, that capacity is also always working. We can always make the right choice or see our path clearly.

We have been guided by divine Mind in our preparationf for the useful life's work. Divine Mind will continue to lead us in an active service from the preparation we have gained. Every once in a while, when tempted to be discouraged by my present level of understanding, it is good for me to stand back and see just how far I have come in that last five years, ten years, forty years.

We are already employed in reflecting good. None of God's children are useless, hopeless, or helpless. We are employed in seeing the good He is unfolding for us each day. We must be grateful for what we already have if we are to be fitted to receive more. To be good stewards of great supply, responsibilities in our career or profession, a strong relationship with someone dear to us, someone other's look up to as a role model or leader.

When you are tempted to believe that life is at a stand still, or even going backward, remember those words, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Claim them to be true for yourself. Know that you have been anointed and appointed by God and no one else can do what He has chosen for you to do. He is working and so are you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lift up your soul

Four simple words and yet the applictions are tremendous. When faced with a challenge; physical, financial, or emotional, we can find a solution in prayer. I've shared before the defintion given for prayer by a Christian Science lecturer. He said, "Prayer is cultivating that state of awareness that acknowledges the allness of God." Here is one way to 'lift up' your soul. Turn away from what is confronting you and lift up your thoughts, go higher, elevate thinking. Roll those eyes skyward. We've all done it in a moment of exasperation. But try doing it with a sense of reverence and anticipation. Lift up your eyes. Stop looking down in dispair or defeat. Make an effort, take the first step toward healing. Physically straighten up.

Just what or Who is it we are looking up for? God. And guess what, He is right there. I love how Mrs. Eddy defines God in Science and Health. GOD. The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle, Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence. That is what you are lifting yourself up to see. What a relief. Our Father Mother God is right here and right now aware of each one of His/Her ideas, ready to comfort, guard and guide. All you need to do is 'lift up'.

There is a psalm of David, written when he was a fugitive hiding from a murderous king, when he must have been feeling discouraged and defeated. Yet, in that place and and under those circumstances he could write, "Why are thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance." Psalm 42 goes on to affirm "...the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song will be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life."

Lift up your very being to God. Lift up your concept of just who and what you are. Let go of some picture of a sad or tired or unhappy person stuck in some disaster or disease. Lift up your identity and see it established within divine Mind where God sees you as His very image and likeness and is very pleased with you.

That is your assignment for today. I will be doing the same thing. And God will support both of us.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

From Moses to Jesus

Our lesson this week moves from Moses to the Messiah. Moses brought the law. Jesus brought grace and truth, obeying the law in the right spirit. In the account of the Jairus and the healing of his daughter I am struck by the steps taken. First, there must have been great receptivity and willingness to change in Jairus himself. He was one of the rulers of the synogogue and many of them hated Jesus. Jairus was motivated by his love for his only daughter, the kind of devotion in a father touches us. He humbly asks Jesus to come to his home and heal his child for she appears to be dying. Jesus agrees to go but is hampered by the gathered throng, clamboring for healing as well.

A messenger arrives from Jairus' house with news that the girl had died so there is no need to trouble Jesus. But Jesus immediately tells Jairus to fear not, to believe and she will be made whole again. When they arrive there is crowd of professional mourners gathered, making a big to-do hoping to be hired by Jairus. Everyone one was weeping and wailing. Jesus needed to calm things down and he said the one thing that would change the mood. He said she wasn't dead at all, only sleeping. As soon as they laughed, they broke the scene of mourning and he could send them away. He put them all out. He took away the claims that she was dead. Only then did he allow her parents and the disciples to go in with him. He took her by the hand, something that would have made him ceremonially unclean if she had really been dead. He spoke to her, telling her to arise. And she did, straigtway. Then, to show that only was she raised from the dead but that all traces of the disease were gone, he told them to give her something to eat, something more than soup.

Hre is a good pattern to follow in your own healing prayers. No matter what the situation is that is demanding attention, begin by removing any fear of it. Know that God, good, is present and operating on your behalf right there and right then. Silence any objections in your own thought, in the minds of those around you, in world thought about the situation. Don't just pray for yourself, include all mankind as being free of whatever it is. Know that God is the only Mind and that He is a very present help in trouble of any kind. Be present as a witness to the power of Good completely eliminating any trace or element of error. Know that there is no recovery time necessary, no rehabilitation. Everything in perfect working order. This is God's work, it is His opportunity to pour out His love on all of His children and creation. There is nothing to oppose, or delay or interfere with this healing, this revealing of Truth. Then rejoice and be grateful that Love removes properly whatever is offensive.

Beware of poor thought models. Examine your thinking and reject negative ideas or suggestions that suggest something is wrong. Affirm all that is right. Imagine how Jesus completely reversed that picture of mourning into one of rejoicing. God wants to do the same for you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Continuing with Moses - Part Three

One of my favorite things about this experience of Moses' isn't mentioned in the citations chosen for the Bible lesson. He has been forced to leave Egypt and has fled into the desert, out of the reach of Pharaoh. There he came upon another scene of conflict. Once again there are people harassing others. In that area wells are of great importance and disputes frequent over water rights. This time the local shepherds were preventing the daughters of Jethro from getting water for own needs and their flock. Moses intervened, and then helped the girls. He wss invited into their home and eventually marries one of them. Now the former prince is a simple shepherd and he spends his days caring for the flock. On one such da, searching for pasture, he goes into the desert and encounters God.

This is the part of just love. He sees a bush burning with fire but not consumed and stops to investigate. That is when God speaks with him and begins the interview by telling him that he is on holy ground. This is something we can use whenever we approach prayer. Remember that right here and right now you are in the presence of God, you are standing on holy ground, no matter where you are or what seems to be happening around you. Holy ground. God's territory. Within His jurisdiction. Protected by His laws. Within hearing of His messages.

Rejoice for all day today you are standing on holy ground. God is that close and standing by with the answer you need. Mrs. Eddy uses Love as a synonym for God and she writes, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More about Moses - part two

We followed the beginning of Moses' life as his mother is forced to hide him from Pharaoh's decree. Ironically, it is Pharaoh's daughter who finds him and eventually adopts him as her own son. What happened after the safety of his ark experience? He apparently grew up as a prince with all the accompanying privledges and benefits. He may also have had little guidance on spiritual matters, although he does not seem to have forgotten his Hebrew origin. One day, he sees an overseer beating a Hebrew slave. He is a grown man at this time, forty years old according to Acts 7:23. According to the Scripture he looked around to see if anyone was watching and then killed the overseer, hiding his body in the sand. The next day he again visits the Hebrews and sees two of them arguing. When he tries to intervene, they taunt him about what he had done the day before. Pharaoh soon hears about it as well and once again Moses' life is in danger. In a way, he came full circle, although this time, he brought the verdict upon himself.

I am currently giving a series of talks about the 'daily duties' as outlined in our church Manual. One of them is headed "Alertness to Duty". It reads, "It shall be the duty of every member of this church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to froget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind. By his works he shall be judged, - and justified or condemned." That takes on profound meaning when applied to Moses' actions. It has profond meaning for us as our own motives and actions determine our human experience. Our duty is to God, to love Him and obey Him. Our duty to Mrs. Eddy is to appreciate her tremendous self-sacrifice in dedicating her life to sharing her discovery with the world. Our duty to mankind is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Truly will we be judged and either justified or condemned by those choices.

This could have been the end of Moses' story but it was only the end of his life in Egypt. He flees, but ends up in a place where he is given time and opportunity for spiritual growth. No matter how devestating some experience seems to be, no matter if we feel like we are fleeing some fate, no matter if we thought we were doing our highest sense of right at the time, we are free to move forward, the change our thinking, to live a better life. To see ourselves as never outside of the circle of divine Love. In fact, there is no outside for that would mean there was some place where God was not present.

More about Moses' journey and his next forty years in the wilderness of Midian in the next posting.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New insights as we study Moses this week

Isn't it fun when a familiar story yields new insights! I caught myself thinking, "Oh, Moses. Here we go again." But I have learned to be alert to that kind of suggestion and stop it in its infancy. Each week's lesson is new and fresh, if we are willing to dig in and find it. So this week I am looking at this story expecting to find something I hadn't seen before. I had not thought about how many times Moses faced death. At the age of three months his mother is forced to hide him in a little floating ark after Pharaoh commands all male Hebrew children be killed. This Mother love is evident in the care she takes to prepare the ark and the way she has his older sister watch over it as it floats among the reeds in the crocodile-infested Nile. He is saved from both threats of death when Pharaoh's own daughter rescues him. He may have been separated from his own family but he is adopted into the royal household. His mother is able to be his wet nurse. What an example of God as Mother. Both 'mothers' were able to nurture this child.

The story goes on and we see how life in the palace ends abruptly when Moses reacts violently to brutality. More about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Midweek impressions from this week's lesson

I was delighted with an insight shared from someone who called for prayer. She mentioned how interesting it was that the story of creation centered around Adam has him falling into a deep sleep. As far as we know, he never woke up. Things did not go well in the Garden of Eden and Adam eventually dies. In the New Testament we read about Paul giving his listeners, all new converts to Christianity, a loooooong lecture session. I imagine they had a lot of questions and he went into careful detail to answer them. It was at some point during this recitation that one of the listeners, a young man sitting way up in the third balcony, dropping off....literally. His attention wandered, it was late, maybe he had already put in a long day, much of what was said went over his head, whatever, he fell into a deep sleep. He also fell three stories to the floor below. Paul went to his side and told everyone not to be alarmed. Because his life was in him. Now you can read that several ways. His (the young man's) life is in Him (God). Or His (God's) Life is in him (the young man). Basically, he woke up and did not die from the experience. These two experiences bookend the lesson. I like that.

Early this morning I was reading an article by Herbert Rieke and came across this sentence. It's a long one but I had to copy it down and think about what it says. "If we seem not ready or willing to meet the demand for the outward evidence of healing, we can declare firmly, and with confidence, that God does supply us with the power to do whatever He requires of us, that we can be guided by divine wisdom at every step, and the we can continue claiming our God-governed dominion until we are are."

Perhaps it is best to avoid falling into a deep sleep, either by being lulled into it by something other than God trying to suggest problems that are insurmountable...or being being lulled into a state of mental zoning out because it just seems to hard to work with all those metaphysical thoughts needed to correct the situation. The best antidote to this kind of mesmerism is to WAKE UP. Awaken out of that 'mist', come up out of that sense of being in a dark place or deep pit. Look up to the light in the presence of goodness. Get a fresh glimpse of who you are as the beloved child of the Good Shepherd. Be grateful that this is so. You don't have to make it true, it already is. The laws of Principle are at work right now on your behalf. Divine Mind is reflecting on you, it's wonderful idea. Love is keeping you safe and protected. Now, stay awake.

Monday, May 5, 2008

first impressions from this week's Bible lesson

I usually read through the Bible lesson on Sunday night, getting a sense of how the topic is being explored. Having studied Christian Science for over 30 years now, I am always interested in how these recurring topics can continue to be fresh and inspiring. This week it is Adam and Fallen Man. Many people struggle with the idea of being a fallen individual. Sometimes it revolves around a personal relationship that seems to have fallen apart, leaving sorrow and resentment in its wake. It might be an actually fall that was the result of some accident. It might be losing a job or getting reprimanded by your boss or your spouse or your parents. Whatever it was, it didn't feel good and you don't feel good about yourself as a result.

The first three sections show examples from the Bible. What they have in common is a sense of being cast away, cast out, cast down or cast off. If you saw Tom Hanks in Cast Away you know how tough that life can be, dealing with being cast adrift without family or friends, maybe even without the basic necessities of food, water or shelter. He had to call upon skills and tremendous patience. We can turn to divine Love when human love seems missing. God's beloved child is never cast adrift, left on his own to struggle. Mind's idea is never discarded as unworthy. Love does not include the quality of rejection. Yet, that is what appeared to happen to Adam. But that story takes place in the second account of creation where man is created out of the dust. Christian Science stays with the first account where man is created in the image and likeness of God and seen as very good. Adam is the victim of that 'mist' that covered the ground. It is the source of all those 'mis' words like mistake, mistrust, misconception and even misery. Don't see yourself there! Identify yourself as God's own child.

Hagar and her son were also cast away or cast out. Hagar, an Egyptian slave, bears Abraham a son, but this is not the promised heir. When Isaac is born a few years later, Ishmael mocks him, perhaps jealous of his status. Sarah sees this and insists that Abraham banish Hagar and her child. They are sent out into the desert. This could have been the end for both of them, but God hears Ishmael crying and sends an angel to Hagar so that her eyes are opened and she sees a source of water. They survive and become a part of a band of bedoins. Ishmael fathers the Arab race. They saw their oneness with God and beloved children.

Another poignant example is the daughters of Zelophehad. When he dies without fathering a son, his daughters are deprived of their inheritance. They take this to Moses, sure that the are entitled to respect and honor. Moses takes it to God who assures him that the women are entitled to a fair inheritance among their relatives and neighbors and it is not to be withheld from them. They were percieved as God's children and a legal matter was resolved in their favor.

We are not fallen children of a heartless Father. We are treasured and cherished children of a loving Father Mother with all our rights intact. And this is not at the expense of another. It is our divine right. I look forward to exploring the ideas in the lesson. The last three sections are about the sense of 'fallen man' vs. the Christ.

Stay out of the 'mist' and see that no right opportunity it 'missed'.