Monday, December 27, 2010

thought for 2011

Today my thoughts are turning to 2011. Inspired by something in this week's Christian Science Sentinel, I am asking my daughter to use her calligraphy skills to create a small sign. The sign will look something like this:
A land flowing with milk and honey
A land filled with threatening giants

That is the question I will ask myself each morning. It will be a reminder to be watching for signs of the good that God has prepared for me that day. Am I seeing that good unfolding or am I feeling overwhelmed by some giant problem: a health challenge, a hefty bill that must be paid, an obligation that must be fulfilled, a poor relationship that must be corrected, a painful situation that must be soothed, something physical that must be healed.

In this week's Bible Lesson about God there is a paragraph from Science and Health that has always resonated with me. This is what I will use to deal with those 'giants' and the threat they are attempting to impose on my life. It begins: "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought."
I love the word 'allow'. That means it is my option to choose what is abiding, taking up residence, in my thought about my life and situation. I can allow it to stay or I can reject and overcome that 'giant' imposition. That does not imply ignoring it or dismissing it without some change of thought on my part. My prayer will be to begin with God and His beautiful creation. To see that nothing else is present or has power. No 'giants' because God's creation has never changed. It remains at one with Him. As His idea, His beloved child, I have everything I need all the time and under all circumstances. God's plan for me is flowing with 'milk and honey'. That is an active flowing, never blocked or delayed or stopped.

I will post this sign on my desk and look at it every morning. I have also been praying about my spiritual study for 2011. In 2010 I studied Isaiah and his book in the Bible. It was a wonderful study and filled with inspiration that will be part of my prayerful work. I strongly encourage you to find something to inspire you in 2011 and something to study for your own spiritual growth.

May the Lord bless you and yours.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Can you 'leave your flock' and hurry to the manger?

What a question! It brought me up short as I read an article in this week's Christian Science Sentinel. We are know the images of the Nativity given in the Gospels. I could just imagine those faithful shepherds, keeping watch over their precious flock, staying alert for any danger in the darkness. Suddenly, there is an angel. A messenger from God with a startling message. These men would have been familiar with the prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah who was to come. They had been awaiting his arrival for centuries. Now they were being told that he had arrived that very night and was nearby! Those men got to hear the angels sing. And they left their flock and hurried to find the manger and see the baby.

Would you do the same? Can you set aside the flock of family members, business associates, neighbors? Can you put down all those catalogs filled with tempting gifts and leave all those emails unread? Can you change your focus from the flock of bills sitting on the desk unpaid? Can you put down the 'to-do' list that you haven't been able to check off? Can you let some of those errands wait?

Can you instead listen to the angels sing? Having heard their message, can you hurry, right now, to the manger scene? Can you take moments to dwell on what happened that holy night and see the Christ for yourself? Have you ever seen a newborn baby and marveled at the innocence and purity and promise of that life? Can you believe the son of God walked among us? Can you believe the Christ still comes to us now?

I believe. My Christmas wish for you is that you do the same. Hurry. God will care for your flock while you go see.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

some new thoughts about the prodigal son

I was reading an article written by one of the early workers of Christian Science and he brought out a new way of looking at this familiar parable. It is thrilling to find these wonderful insights.

The prodigal son went down into Egypt, but think of that for a moment as the mental effort every Christian Scientist must make in our desire to understand animal magnetism, to learn how to recognize it and reduce its hypnotic attraction to nothing. That young man was a sinner. How would you define sin? The writer of this article defines sin as yielding to animal magnetism's lies that would lead us down a path where we believe we can be separated from God. That young man thought that was what he wanted, to be separated from his Father's authority.

When an honest seeker of Truth comes to himself, as the prodigal did, awakens to who he really is, he is ashamed that he spent so much time in idleness and distration s(some might be in this state when they seem enslaved by the latest technolgy toys). Once we see what is trying to control us, we are not so easily ensnared.

When he returned, he was ready to work for his Father, to serve. The Father rewarded that with a ring, shoes and a robe. All of those were symbols of loving activity. So that journey into Egypt helped that young man be willing to go and do what his Father desired for him, to turn away from selfish suggestions and willfulness.

That boy learned the error of his ways and came to an appreciation of his Father's house that the elder brother never gained. He returned to take up active service.

An interesting new way for me to look at this familiar parable.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How joyful are you?

Would you consider yourself a joyful person? Would those around you describe you that way? This week's Bible lesson is about God as Soul and focuses on joy as a quality of Soul that we all express as God's image and likeness. Along with joy, the qualities of Soul include true hearing and sight which are as immortal as God.

There is a very interesting example from the New Testament. In the gospel of Mark (which many consider to be Peter's memoirs) Jesus and his disciples are leaving the city of Jericho. So this is an eye witness report. As usual there is a large crowd of people surrounding the Master. As this procession goes by a blind man, Bartimaeus, he hears the commotion and must have asked what was going on. When he is told that it Jesus is passing, he begins to call out to him and asking for mercy.

Bartimaeus considered himself both blind and poor, as did those around him. He had chosen the spot on the highway to sit and beg. He had been doing that for some time. He seems to have accepted this, until an opportunity arises to change things. Had he been hearing about what this man could do? Did he have faith that Jesus could heal his condition? He must have believed it was possible for he continued to call out to him, even when those around him told him to hold his peace. Those sincere call for help did not go unanswered. Jesus stopped. The whole parade halted. Then he commanded that they call Bartimaus to him. Now those around the blind man changed their tune and encouraged him to be of good comfort and go to Jesus.

The account does not say that anyone led him. It says he got up, cast aside his beggar's garment, and went to the Master. When Jesus asks him what he wants, he asks that his sight be restored. Jesus tells him that his faith has made him whole and immediately he could see.

What I am appreciating about this story this morning is that casting away of his false identity, his conscious choice to not be seen as a beggar any longer. Is there something going on in your life that you have accepted as a limitation? Are you identifying yourself as poor or lacking in some way? Do you carry that around with you like a garment? The Christ that Jesus expressed so completely is present here and now. You have just as much access to the Christ as Bartimaeus had. Have you asked for healing? Are you willing to rise to the occasion? Can you change the way you have been thinking about yourself? Do you have faith the your request will be granted?

Seeing and hearing are spiritual qualities that exist forever with God. Joy and joyfulness are also spiritual qualities. The Bible tells us we can go out each day with joy. God will be with us all day. Those immortal qualities will be with us all day.

Surely that is a reason to be glad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

When things seem their darkest

I love the incident included in this week's Bible lesson about a midnight experience. It happened to Paul and Silas and is found in Acts 16. They had healed a woman who brought her masters much money by being a medium or clairvoyant. She believed herself possessed of a spirit until they healed her. Her masters were furious and had the men brought before the magistrate. Accused of causing trouble, they were beaten and then thrown into prision. Their jailer was told to make sure they did not escape so he put them in the midst of the prison and chained them in stocks.

Think how they might have felt, beaten unfairly, accused falsely, all for healing someone. They could have been resentful or planned vengence, but that is not what they did. At the darkest moment, midnight, when they might have felt farthest from home and friends, they did not complain or wail. They prayed, most likely aloud, and those must have been prayers of trust and faith in God's protection and care. They must have known they had done the right thing and were innocent in His eyes. In fact, they sang praises to Him, probably what we would think of as hymns. The Bible account says that the prisoners heard them. Think what an effect that must have had on those who listened to those prayers and hymns. What hope and encouragement to know God was a very present help in trouble.

What happens next is wonderous. There was an earthquake and the foundations of the prison were shaken. All the doors opened, Everyone's bands were loosed. When you think about this spiritually, it is so helpful for our own challenges. What was so dramatically shaken and altered must have been how the prisoners were feeling about God, about themselves, maybe even those they were resenting. The very foundations of their beliefs were shaken and they let go and opened their hearts. All doors opened. Do you need a door opened in your life? Does some avenue seemed closed or blocked? Are you holding stubbornly to some resentment or incident? Those 'doors' can be opened. God can do that. And when that happens all bands are loosed. Not only Paul and Silas were freed, but everyone around them benefited.

So when you find yourself in a dark place, when you are at your wits end, when there doesn't appear to be a solution, change your approach. Turn to God and tell Him that you know He is there and that He loves you. He did not bring any of this on you. His plan is for blessing and good. Think back to some favorite hymn and sing it to yourself, thinking about the words. Don't be surprised at what happens next. Expect your bands to be loosed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jesus and the woman who was afflicted for 18 years

In this week's Bible Lesson, there is this story given in Luke 13: 11 -13. Remember, Luke was both an historian and a doctor. His accounts of healings are very thorough. He also seems to have interviewed many people and his gospel and the book of Acts contain many eye witness accounts.

Jesus was teaching in one of the synogogues on a Sabbath. There in the temple he sees a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for 18 years. She was bowed together and couldn't straighten up. He calls her to him and tells her she is freed from this infirmity, placing his hands on those bowed shoulders. She immediately straightens up and praises God.

Here are the four claims made about her; that she has the appearance of being infirm or weak and ill, that this condition has gone on for many years, that she is bent over, and that she can't help herself. Jesus does not accept any of this as the truth about her true being as a child of God. He calls her to him, unusual in itself as Jewish men did not address women in public.
She has come to the temple to pray, possibly asking God to help her, indicating that she is receptive to healing. And she gets her healing.

What do we learn from this? How can we apply it to our own experiences?

Jesus did not accept any of these claims as truth. We never have to either. We never have to see ourselves or anyone else as the victims of some debilitating situation or condition. We never have to go around with the appearance of being infirm.

Time was no problem to the Master. It does not have to intimidate us either. It does not matter how long something claims to have been going on. It's still only a lie. When you wake up from a dream the things that seemed to have happened in that dream lose their reality and fade away. You see that you were never having that experience except in the dream. The real you was untouched by that dreaming you.

What matters is the state of your thinking. How are you starting each day? Are you dragging around all the past hurts, mental and physical Do you spend your time brooding over mistakes or situations? Are you constantly looking down in acceptance and defeat? Or do you start the day praising God and claiming your rights as His own image and likeness? Pray for yourself every single day, go to whatever 'temple' or holy place in thought you identify with. Spend a few moments there to see yourself at one with divine Love and goodness.

Put God's diagnosis about you first.

Mrs. Eddy describes what Jesus was doing when confronted with false claims about man. "Christ Jesus overruled the error which would impose penalties for transgressions of the physical laws of health. He annulled supposed laws of matter, opposed to the harmonies of Spirit, lacking divine authority and having only human approval for their sanction". What a remarkable statement! To overrule is to disallow the arguements of something and to annul is to make void or invalid. Jesus disallowed what the world is saying is true and he made void or invalid any such conditions imposed on God's child. He saw God as the only cause and creator and knew that all He caused and created was good. Nothing else was present or had power.

You don't have to change the condition, you have to change what you believe about the condition. That is what he did for what he saw and he helped that woman to see it. She got her healing and you can too.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Do you have a daily devotional buddy? Someone who shares an uplifting thought? Do you spend a few moments with the Bible every day? Some time ago I became familiar with devotionals, books put together with daily entries of inspiring thoughts, often Bible based. I keep a few devotionals near my desk. Here are some entries for July 30 to show you how it works.

Simple Abundance. This was the first devotional I actually read everyday for a year. The entry for today talks about habits. Nothing dies harder that a bad habit. If you are honest with yourself you know this is not good for you but what you are indulging in meets some need. Even if they are not life-threatening, like smoking, they certainly are not life-enhancing. As you chose to turn to God or pick up the Bible on a regular basis you will be able to overcome and replace those bad habits with precious time. When you can treat yourself more kindly, it will spiral out to include others as well.

Streams in the Desert. This one was written in 1925 by Mrs. Charles Cowman during her years of missionary work in Japan and China. It truly shows you God message for each day. Today's entry is all about that cup of cold water in Matt 10:42. As we pass through this world any good work, any kindness or service you can render, do it now. Do not neglect or defer these random acts. It includes a poem that says it isn't what you do but what you leave undone. A tender work unspoken, the email you might have written, the flowers you might have sent. Was there a stone you could have moved out of a friend's way? Did you pause long enough to listen to someone needing a friendly ear? It's not the things you do, it is what you leave undone. Give what you have.

Browze in the aisle where devotionals are kept at any bookstore or at your local library. Look devotionals up on the internet. There are so many to choose from. They will help you become comfortable with those few moments a day with God. My church provides a weekly Bible lesson. Studying it over the last 40 years has helped me become familiar with the Bible. It has lead me to my healing practice. Do you own a Bible? Where do you keep it? Prop it up on the kitchen counter open to a different place each day. If a particular book of the Bible resonates with you, you can purchase it on its own. Put it in your purse or brief case or glove compartment. When you are stuck in a line or in traffic pull it out. See how others pray. That devotional thought might be exactly what you need at some point that day.

What are you devoted to?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beloved Psalm 23

This week's Bible Lesson about God as Love includes many references to Him as the Good Shepherd. When I was a child I struggled with our family's religion, not willing to accept God as punishing or unforgiving. I always knew He was like the Good Shepherd, even before I read the Bible. Imagine my delight when I found Psalm 23. As an adult, I once studied this remarkable psalm, written by David who was a shepherd in his youth, for an entire year. It continues to be an inspiration for me and the place to turn for healing.

Here it is in the third section of our lesson paired with one of my other favorite Bible passages, also found in Psalms: 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble'. (Ps 46:1) If you wonder how Mrs. Eddy came to use Love as one of the names for God, the answer is also in this lesson. It is I John 4:8... God is Love.

When you think about love, you can see that there is no fear in love. Nothing to be afraid of, nothing to harm or threaten. No painful condition or circumstance. Just imagine perfect Love and see yourself surrounded and embraced by it. Anything you are fearing just melts away. That same chapter of I John also says that "there is no fear in love, but perfect lvoe casteth out fear'.

One of my favorite moments that happened while I was reading Science and Health was when I got to page 578 and found Mrs. Eddy's spiritual interpretation of this beloved Psalm 23. She used the synonym Love in place of the Lord and it just opens up the deeper meaning. It shows why there is nothing to dread, and describes just how divine Love cares for us as a Good Shepherd cares for His flock. If you have our hymnal, look at hymn 304. It is poem written by Mrs. Eddy about the Shepherd's love.

So no matter what you are dealing with today, be not afraid. Go get your Bible and spend a few minutes with your Shepherd. Keep this Psalm close to you and use it throughout the day. Dwell in the house of divine Love.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Everyone who strays will be brought back to the fold

Yesterday I wrote about King David's experience with Bathsheba. Our Bible Lesson continues on to expand on this concept that we can be straying or lost sheep. When a sheep strays away from their flock, they become disoriented and distressed. There is a feeling of hopelessness and fear. They call out to be found but do not respond when the shepherd calls to them. They don't know how to return so the Shepherd goes to them. For many, this is when we are calling out to God for help, "please come and find me".

Our Father, the Good Shepherd, seeks and finds those who think they have become separated from Him. Here is that promise in His own words; "I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick".

Everyone who believes they have strayed will be brought back into the fold. Because in truth there is no where else we can ever be. We are His precious children and He is always present. Our relationship is never severed. Even if we think it has been by our own actions or choices.

Jesus used a parable to explain this relationship to his listeners. Many of them were shepherds and understood what he meant. He asks them who among them who had the care of 100 sheep, if he lost one, would not leave the 99 and go search for the missing sheep. He would search until he found it, and when he did, he would not punish that sheep, he would carry it upon his shoulders, rejoicing and comforting it. And when they got home he would tell everyone to rejoice with him because he had found that which had been lost.

God loves you like that. All the time. Under every circumstance. Unconditionally. God is more than a loving God, He is Love itself. And you are the object of that Love.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Every problem in the human experience can be healed through Love.

As we continue to study the Bible lessons, we are learning about the seven synonyms Mrs. Eddy has given us for God. This week it is God as Love. It starts right off with God's promises to each of us that He will remove fear, restore health, and care for us as a shepherd cares for his flock.

We read about King David, who has wandered into sin. He sees Bathsheba washing herself one night and instead of handling those lustful feelings, he indulges them. When she tells him that she is pregnant, he tries to cover their adultery with another sin, he arranges for her husband to be killed in battle. All this 'displeases' God who sends the prophet Nathan to snap David out of this behavior. David, awakened from his sinful ways, deeply repents his actions, asking God's forgiveness. He asks to be 'washed throughly', repeated cleansing to restore his purity. He asks for a new heart and a new spirit. He is truly and deeply repentent. This story shows how divine Love reforms those who think they have committed unforgiveable sins. David is restored in his purity and goodness. The child they conceived did not survive, but they have a second son, Solomon the wise, who will go on to build the Temple of Jerusalem. David is remembered for all his good qualities and it is from his descendants that the Messiah will come.

There's so much more in this lesson that I will continue on tomorrow with the wonderful news that eveyone who has strayed will be lovingly brought back by the shepherd.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

checking your net

This week's Bible lesson on God as Truth includes one of Jesus' parables, one that does not come up often. It is short but I believe I will be working with it all week. Found in Matthew13:47, 48 it reads: the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

I envision that net as all the things that 'swim' into my experience over the course of a day. This week, I am taking time each evening to examine this net and see what kind of things have happened and how I have reacted to them. I want to be sure I am grateful for every evidence of good and be just as alert to recognize and cast out the bad.

This lesson also gives us four distinct qualities that we should be expressing: honesty, unselfishness, love, and meekness. So in thinking over my day, gathering in the good and getting rid of the bad, I ask myself if I was expressing those qualities today. Can I see how I chose to be honest or see someone else as honest? Did I choose to be unselfish in some situation? Was I being loving with others? Did I express meekness in placing my trust in God and His ablility to take care of things so that I did not push my own human will?

Bad things may have gotten caught up in my 'net' but I do not have to hold on to them. It is important to let those things go rather than continue to ruminate over them and build up a sense of resentment that leads to anger and retaliation. How many times can we actually forgive and forget? Takes practice...and honesty...and unselfishness...and love...and meekness. This is no small challenge but I want to check my 'net' every day and see myself doing a good job with the catch. I want to be a good steward over my life. I'm sure you do as well.

Check your net.

Friday, July 16, 2010

drop those rocks

This morning I am really studying an article in this week's Christian Science Sentinel. It points our how unresolved issues of the past have only the weight we give them. It's not much fun to struggle uphill if you are carrying rocks in your backpack. Our path in life can seem like a difficult uphill climb. Those 'rocks' might be nagging financial demands, claims of heredity, health problems, uncomfortable personal decisions, etc.. Why continue to lug them around?

In the New Testament, Jesus came upon a man by the Pool of Bethesda. He had lain there for 38 years, always blaming lack of help for his inability to get to the pool for healing after an angel had stirred the water. Before we laugh at him, we should be aware of how many times we do the same thing, blame others for our own failings. Complain that someone else always gets there first or gets offered the job. When Jesus asks him if he wants to be made whole, he just remains focused on the predicament and doesn't answer the question. Jesus heals him anyway.

Are you feeling burdened, weighed down by thoughts of fear, jealousy, resentment? Are you resisiting the invitation from the Christ, the uplifting promises from God? Does your path to healing seemed blocked or are you ready for some true spiritual progress? Mrs. Eddy writes; "Let us set aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us".

I love the ocean and have collected sea shells for many years. I do not own a chambered nautilus, although it is my favorite of all. The nautilus seals off each chamber as it grows. But before it does, it clears out any debris, anything that might add weight. The chambers give it bouyancy. It has freedom and manuverability to travel through the ocean. No rocks to slow it down or impede progress. Not a bad role model.

As you pray about your day, take time to drop those rocks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Elijah Moments

This week's Bible lesson is about God as Life. Most of the sections feature the prophet Elijah. I love those stories and am familiar with them but I decided to try to look at them in a new light this week.

I have been working on a daily gratitude list that is spiritually based. So in my daily notebook I have added a section that begins I am grateful that... Here are my entries based on studying Elijah's experiences.

I am grateful that it wasn't that Elijah showed off, it was that God showed up. This is prompted by Elijah's contest with the 450 prophets of Baal. That story is in I Kings 17.

I am grateful that right where lack appeared to be there was abundance when Elijah meets up with the widowed woman. He did not end the drought, their needs were supplied despite it. The unfailing barrel of flour provided bread without the process of growing and grinding wheat.

I am grateful that Elijah knew that Life is not at the mercy of illness when he restored the widow's son.

Mrs. Eddy defines Elijah in our glossary as 'spiritual evidence opposed to material sense'. I will try to follow his example in the challenges around me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit - Part Four

Our Bible Lesson continues on with another interesting healing, further proof of the 'fruit of the Spirit'. Jesus is teaching in the synogogue this time. He sees a woman there who is struggling with a physical problem. Luke, himself a doctor, describes her as having 'a spirit of infirmity' that had been going on for 18 years with the result that she was bowed together and could in no way lift herself up. What could have happened 18 years earlier that could have weighed on her all this time? The birth of a child? The loss of a child? The passing of her husband? Some awful mistake in judgment? How about in your life? The failure of a business? A disagreement with a friend? Disruption in your church?

Whatever had happened, it had weighed on her to such an extent that the sorrow of it kept her bent over, always looking at the ground. But, she was in the temple. We can surmise that she had come there to pray. Like the man brought to Jesus by his friends, this woman does not speak. She does not ask Jesus to heal her. Could it be she does not believe she deserves to be healed? Has she accepted this disability as a punishment? Does she think this disease is incurable? Whatever is going on in her thought, we know what was going on in his.

He calls her to himself. The Christ, the great Comforter, is waiting. If he calls out to you, you must choose to respond. She must have gone to him. She must have been willing to make that move. And what does he do? He puts his hands on her, probably on her bowed shoulders, the outward symbol of her inner conflict and pain. Interestingly, unlike the man who he called 'son', he addresses her as 'woman'. He might have said daughter but I do not think she had alienated herself from God for she was in the temple. He tells her that she is 'loosed' from her affirmity. Her burden has been lifted, the weight of guilt is removed, the hold of disease is gone. Would you like to be 'loosed' from something? He can do that for you.

How long did it take to reverse the accumulated effects of an 18-year-long problem? She was healed immediately. She was 'made straight'. She stood upright without therapy or the need to retrain muscles or strengthen bent bones. As soon as he assured her that she was free......she was free. She did not suddenly start leaping around but she did glorify God.

When you experience healing, what is your immediate reaction? Do you turn back, as that leper did when he saw that his leprosy had vanished? Do you say thank you? Do you acknowledge the divine Love that was behind that healing? Do you go back to mourning or feeling guilty? I should hope not!

Righteousness simply means right-thinking. I like to think of it as Truth-knowing. Jesus was always right-thinking and Truth-knowing and the fruits of that were healing. At all times. Under all circumstances. And it is every bit as accessible today. Mrs. Eddy writes: "Consciousness contructs a better body when faith in matter has been conquered. Correct material belief by spiritual understanding, and Spirit will form you anew."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit - Part Three

This morning I used some Bible translations to research the qualities listed as 'the fruit of the Spirit' by Paul in Galatians 5. Here's what I found:

love affection for others
joy exuberance about life
peace serenity
longsuffering patience, willingness to stick to things
gentleness kindness, compassion
goodness conviction that holiness permeates things and people
faith loyal commitments
meekness gentleness, not forcing our way
temperance self control, directing our energies wisely

This letter to the Galatians is universally recognized as an authentic message from Paul. Galatia was a Roman province that included many cities Paul had visited like Phrygia, Lycanonia, Antioch, Iconium, Derbe and Lystra. Christian communities had been founded during his first missionary journey. He later revisited them to support these converts in their new faith. The population of that area were heathens, Greek and Roman colonists which explains why Paul and Barnabus were taken to be Jupiter and Mercury. The heathen priests dominated the people and imposed harsh laws. These young churches wanted to know whether or not the observance of Jewish law was binding upon the Gentiles who became disciples of Christ. It caused much controvery. Paul must defend his authority. Having heard of their troubles, he wrote them this letter explaining the superiority of the Gospel to the law. He applies sthe truth he has been establishing to the different relations and duties of life. He denounces foreign practices and gives this list of qualities that come as the 'fruit of the Spirit', following the Christian religion.

Those, like myself, who are not raised in Christian Science, come to it with preconceived notions about religion and worship. Some of its teachings seem strange and confusing at first. But as one continues reading Science and Health, studies the Bible Lesson and reads the periodicals, it becomes clearer and dearer. One's whole outlook on life is brighter and more postitive. There are physical healings. We see God in a new light and begin to glimpse our relationship to Him. As a natural outcome we express more of that 'fruit of the Spirit'. The changes come from deep within and others can see them as we express more love, patience, gentleness. The 'seeds' fall on 'good soil'.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit - Part Two

The Bible Lesson takes an interesting turn following up on the parable of the Sower and the Seed. Jesus had shared that parable with his listeners. What we study next is an incident that occurs while Jesus is speaking with a different group. Among those who have come to hear him were Pharisees and doctors of the law. Such a crowd had gathered at that house that all the entrances were blocked. Those who got there late could not get anywhere near Jesus. Four men arrived carrying their paralyzed friend on a stretcher. When they couldn't get inside they used the stairs on the outside of the house and climbed to the roof. A portion was removed and they lowered their friend down to Jesus. That must have created a bit of a stir. If we assume that many of those gathered were local people, it is likely that they knew this man and his friends.

Jesus does not seem at all offended by their actions. In fact, he recognizes their faith in his ability to heal. He rewards their overcoming of every obstacle to get to him. The man himself had not spoken or asked anything. Jesus addresses him as 'Son'. He did not mean that this man was his son, but that he was beginning his healing work by recognizing in front of everyone there that this man is God's son. A child of God. He could have said so many things, but he who knew what was going on in everyone's heart and thoughts tells him that his sins are forgiven. That man must have been there with his full consent and with an anticipation that Jesus could help his paralysis. Jesus is about to do much more than that, and in front of the man's neighbors.

It would have been a great thing to heal this man of his palsy but it was going to be an even greater thing to get at the root of what caused it in the first place. This man may have made some choices of lifestyle that caused the illness, he may have done bad things as a result while under that influence, he certainly had alienated himself from his family for he was being cared for by his friends who still loved him. He might have seen being confined to that bed as a just punishment for his actions. He knew he had sinned. Jesus continues his treatment by letting him know that those sins are forgiven. He may have sensed repentance. Only God's forgiveness could truly heal this affliction in that man's thought. And Jesus phrased it that they were forgiven. Not just that at some point they would be.

His words had an effect on the man but also on those listening. The Pharisees and lawyers considered this blasphemy for this was something only God could do. Who did this man think he was! He had no right to do this! That honor belongs only to the Creator. They refused to accept Jesus for who he was, the Messiah. Jesus, who was aware of the thoughts the young man had, was just as aware of what these men were thinking. And he challenges them.

Did they think it was easier to make this declaration or to tell the man to get up and walk? They seemed to think that any pretender can say your sins are forgiven. What proof would there be? Jesus concludes the treatment by telling the man to 'Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house'. He lifts that man up spiritually and physically. He is to take the very item that had bound him for so long and carry it himself, as he would no longer need to be carried. And, he is to return home, his own house where he would be welcomed. This last was a signal to all those who knew this man that he was restored and forgiven and not to be identified as a sinner any longer.

Think of the seeds the Sower planted that day. Think of the different types of 'soil' that were present there. Those who came prepared to expose him as a fraud saw proof of his power. Those who came to hear this man speak of God's love for them saw how it heals and restores. Those who listened with an open heart and receptivity took in that precious seed and nurtured it. The Seed is being sown every day. The Sower continues his work. You can choose how you will prepare your heart and mind for that seed. And it can be, for you, fruitful beyond your imagination. Thirty fold. Sixty fold. An hundred fold. The seed of Truth bears fruit. There's no stopping it. The crop is up to you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit - part one

This week's Bible Lesson continues with studying the synonyms Mrs. Eddy has given us for God. It is about God as Spirit and as each of us as His spiritual image and likeness. We begin with one of Jesus' parables, the Sower and the Seed, an appropriate place to learn just what the result of being more spiritual brings to our human experience.

The Word of God reaches out to us through the Bible. You should have a copy to read, a copy you feel comfortable writing in, and at least one copy that is a translation. I turn to the 'clean' copy when I am seeking fresh inspiration and do not want to be distracted by things I have written from other times of study. I use the 'marked up' copy daily and love being reminded of things I have discovered. I have many translations but most recently hav been loving a Bible that includes four translations. I keep a paperback Bible in the car.

I am so grateful Mrs. Eddy set up our weekly Bible Lesson as over the years it has helped me be familiar with most of the Bible characters and their stories. It also has given me a sense of the progression of thought about God and worship moving through the Old Testament and into the New.

This Bible study is like that parable in the Responsive Reading. This morning I am looking back at my own growth as I have been studying the Word. There have been times when all my good thoughts and prayer seem to have fallen by the wayside. One Bible commentary describes that as the pathways that run beside cultivated fields, a place where things get trampled under foot. That was how I was feeling about my metaphysical work. Then I realized that none of God's words are ever wasted or unappreciated. Those who don't agree with what I believe cannot overwhelm me with their opposition or disregard. There have have times when I have felt like my prayers are a struggle with a stony reception or resistence as big as boulders. It is hard to dig down and find nourishment in such 'soil' or thinking. When I prepare a garden bed, I take time to rake it clean and work the soil to remove stones and debris. I add things to that soil to be sure whatever I plant there will be able to put down roots and find nourishment. I understand that this process takes time and even when it appears on the surface that not much is happening, there is really all kinds of activity going on. Then there are times when I have prayed about something using the same old familiar passages and gotten temporary relief, but when the claim asserts itself, it is tempting to give up and say, well, I did my best but it just isn't working. That is exactly when you have to refute that testimony and say, well, I did my best and it must be working because it is the law of God, the law of good, and nothing can stop it. No false claim can choke off my reliance on Christian Science or spiritual healing. Nothing anyone says can cause me pain or hurt my feelings. I am good soil, I know the value of the 'seeds' I have been given, I can expect strong growth and beautiful results.

Today, be sure you are seeing your life as a garden bed filled with good soil, free of rocks or obstructions, in a protected space, with deep roots anchoring you, and excellent fruitage. This lesson comes directly to you from the Master.

Friday, January 29, 2010

tender mercies - part three

Continuing on with the story of Saul, the account in Acts does not mention what immediately followed his conversion and baptism. We read of that from Paul himself in Galations 1:17. He retired to the wilderness in the neighborhood of Damascus, at that time under the control of the king of Arabia, for thought and prayer. it may have been there that he had more visions and revelations of the Lord that he refers to in II Cor 12. When he does return to Damascus, he immediately begins to preach in the synogogue that Jesus is the Son of God. Everyone who heard him was amazed, because they only knew him as the one who had been persecuting the followers of Christ. Here he was speaking of this new Christianity right in the midst of the Jews.

He did this for about three years before the leaders of the Jews began to fear his influence and persuaded the governor to persecute Paul. But their plans to arrest him were known and his disciples, under cover of darkness, let him down over the city wall in a basket so he could escape. He who had come there to hunt Christians, was now being hunted himself.

It can seem puzzling and even upsetting to friends and family members when someone becomes a student of Christian Science and begins to think and act differently. Especially if that person then chooses to leave medicine behind and rely on prayer and Christian Science treatment. If that person had been a firm believer in the power of medicine and seemed to be getting temporary relief, there might be concern about the effects of stopping that. I know this was true in my own experience. But as time passed and I became healthier and happier, it was harder and harder for others to condemn my chosen religion for they could not deny the evidence of their own eyes.

Jesus sometimes told those who he had healed not to talk about it. I used to wonder about that but now I see the wisdom of taking time to study and pray and gain some understanding of how the healing had come about. We might not yet be ready to explain spiritual healing or answer sceptics. It is enough to work on changing our own thinking and beliefs, to begin to see God as all good, and to understand our relationship to Him as His beloved idea, His image and likeness as it is written in Genesis One. No one would expect a kindergartener, who is learning to add, to be able to explain quantum physics. We start with what we can understand and use it and then we are ready to move into more complicated mathematics. So it is with metaphysics.

Paul has barely begun his ministry. He will make several journeys all around the Mediterranian establishing churches. He will write a multitude of letters supporting their growth and advising them. We have many of those letters preserved in our Bible. Those who hate Paul and what he is teaching will continue to try to do him harm. The next part of our Bible Lesson tells of a great adventure when he is shipwrecked.

The Bible is so rich with characters. Paul is of major importance to the spread of Christianity. We should know his story and be familiar with his writings. Mrs. Eddy mentions him in Science and Health. She says: "To misunderstand Paul, was to be ignorant of the divine idea he taught". Get to know him and treasure what God has done through him.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

tender mercies - part two

Continuing on with God's tender mercies and the story of Saul/Paul we saw how he had begun by vengefully hunting down the followers of the Christ only to do a 180' about face after talking with the Master himself. This was such a total change of thought for Saul that he was actually overcome with blindness and had to be led to Damascus. Instead of going to the High Priest in the synogogue for letters of authority to arrest Christians, Saul is forced to sit in a unfamiliar home surrounded by strangers where his reputation has preceded him.

God speaks to Ananias, the leader of the Christians. Jesus had often spoken about a new way to act, loving one's neighbor as one's self. He also taught about forgiveness and the need to love your enemies. In one of the Beatitudes we are told that we will be blessed if we love those who persecute us. Now Ananias will be given an opportunity to prove what the life of a Christian is all about and Ananias is being asked to lead by example. God tells him to go to Saul and heal him of his blindness. Ananias argues with God. Heal the very person who has vowed to hunt down men and women and send them to Rome in chains! He is told to go his way for God has chosen Saul for some very special work. He will bring Christianity to the Gentiles, speak before kings, and work with the children of Israel. What an amazing career awaits him.

Meanwhile Saul sits in darkness, pondering his meeting with Jesus, He must have realized the enormity of his mistakes and the innocent people he had condemned, including Stephen. He also must have wondered just what it was he would be told to do. Will he be arrested and exectured himself? Ananias arrives and puts his hands on his shoulders in friendship and forgiveness, calling him Brother. He tells him that the same Jesus that appeared to him on the way to Damascus had spoken to Ananias, sending him to Saul to heal the blindness so that he can be filled with the Holy Ghost. Immediately, the blindness is healed. The account in Acts, written by Luke the physician, describes it as 'scales' that fell from his eyes.

Saul in then baptized. His new life is about to begin. A whole new direction lies before him and he will have to win over the very people he had come to destroy. But this section of the lesson spoke to me more about Ananias and his own change of heart. I love his human reaction, arguing with God as if God was not aware of who Saul was and what he had been doing. How often do we quesiton God about some situation (or person)? Surely, He does not expect us to love this thing or this person. Surely He does not expect us to work side by side with them in harmony. Good heavens, not that guy (or gal)! And yet, that is exactly what he is being asked to do because God has a special purpose for Saul and God's wisdom is not to be questioned.

The command, love one another, is not to be taken lightly. When John wrote that he meant it. When Jesus preached about that he expected us to follow his example. We are to believe the first two words of his prayer...Our Father. That includes all mankind. That includes the person you don't care for. If we can't love someone we can see, how can we expect to love God who we can't see. This kind of love is divine Love being reflected by His children, those made in His own image and likeness. If we claim that to be who we are, we have to be willing to be that reflection, without exceptions. We are to do the works Jesus did and that means healing. How can you heal if you allow hatred or mistrust or resentment to stay in your heart and your thinking? Which is more important to you? Would you rather hate or heal?

Mrs. Eddy writes: "Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way. Who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" Don't hinder yourself! Love because that is your true nature and purpose. Even those who don't like. Especially those you don't like.

There's much more to Saul/Paul's story this week. Next he must begin his ministry by winning over those he persecuted right there in Damascus. He will have to rely on God's tender mercies and loving kindnesses. So can we.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

tender mercies

The Bible Lesson this week, Love, continues to explore the seven synonyms Mrs. Eddy gives us for God. Thinking of God as Love expands our view of Him to include what we usually think of as feminine qualities. In Christian Science we think of God as our Father and Mother. In the new supplement to our hymnal is a hymn entitled Tender Mercies. The theme of God's tender mercies and loving kindnesses runs all through the Lesson.

We look at Paul this week. He was called Saul before his conversion and he was an avid hunter and persecutor of those who believed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah. These followers of the Christ, or Christians, needed to be rounded up and punished and Saul was on his way to Damascus to get authorization from the High Priest to do just that. In his zeal, he was filled with threats of slaughter, going after men and women. The things people do in the name of religion. This was his highest sense of right at the time and he was determined to see them all killed.

Yet, he had stood by at the trial of Stephen and listened to him speak of this Saviour, the healings he had done and how he was the fulfillment of prophecy. Stephen's words angered the mob who stoned him to death, with Saul standing by. Stephen died with his eyes on heaven. All this made an impression on Saul and he must have thought about it deeply on his way to Damascus for suddenly a light shone around him. The light of Truth surrounded him and he heard a voice. It was the very man Stephen had spoken of, Jesus. Saul dropped to his knees in astonishment. He didn't doubt who this was and he calls him Lord, asking what it is he is to do. Have you ever railed against God, against the circumstances that are making your life dificult? How would you react if suddenly the Christ appeared to you? Wouldn't you instantly know who it was and bow before him? Saul had the humility to ask Jesus 'what would you have me to do?'. Would you be willing to just ask 'Lord, what would you have me to do?'.

He is told to go on to Damascus and await instructions. He who was on his way there to arrest and persecute Christians is about to become one himself. He takes on a new name, Paul, to mark this momentous thing that has happened. He is leaving behind all that he was before that moment and beginning again. He is to have a new mission although he does not yet know what that is. He is physically and spiritually unable to 'see'. Blinded, he must be led to Damascus.

What Saul/Paul was going through was a complete transformation as he changed his mind about Jesus and Christianity. He was going to surrender his own wilful plans and listen for the will of God. His motives and acts would now come from a whole new basis.

What happened next? The story begins in Acts 8. If you aren't familiar with it, take some time to read it. Tomorrow we'll continue on to see how the blindness was removed and what Paul is told to do. This is just one of the stories in the Bible about God's great love for each of His children, His tender mercies. He has this great love for you as well and can be just as powerful a force in your life. Everything can change.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


"Reckon it nothing but joy...whenever you find yourself hedged in by the various trials, be assured that the testing of your faith leads to power of endurance." (James 1:2,3)

Are you feeling hedged in? Do you seem surrounded by trials that are closing in? Is it growing, shutting out the light, making it hard to trust in God for answers? God 'hedges' us in as a protection, never as a punishment. The hedge preserves us from harm. Just make sure you are not seeing the wrong type of hedge and misunderstanding this protecting Love.

Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against them. Science and Health opens with the thought that 'to those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings.' Leaning on God never causes us harm. God does not create the thorns, those things that seem to sting and penetrate, causing pain or fear. The words or circumstances that upset or threaten do not come from divine Love and they cannot hurt you.

Mrs. Eddy uses the idea of a hedge in our church Manual when she describes the Manual as 'uniquely adapted to form the budding thought and hedge it about with divine Love.' That presents a picture of protection and nurturing. She also uses that concept when speaking of how she wanted to protect Christian Science. In her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, on page 52 she writes: "For many successive years I have endeavored to find new ways and means for the promotion and expansion of scientific Mind-healing, seeking to broaden its channels and, if possible, to build a hedge round about it that should shelter its perfections from the contaminating influences of those who have a small portion of its letter and less of its spirit."

Think of yourself as within the protection of a hedge of Love's making. See that any thorns in there are to keep out harm. Trials offer us the opportunity to see God in action on our behalf, especially if there does not appear to be a human solution or way out. Maybe your answer is to see yourself safely within.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Come and dine

What a remarkable scene. Peter and the disciples had seen Jesus following the resurrection but then he had not stayed with them. They were unsure of what was going to happen next. Peter, their leader, had denied Jesus during his trial. He must have been feeling ashamed and confused about what was expected of him. They obviously had more to learn from the Master but would he return to them?

Instead of beginning a ministry and spreading the good news they went fishing. I do not think that was a permenant about-face, just a return to the familiar while they waited for direction and guidance. They didn't have long to wait.

They let down their nets and caught nothing. An interesting parallel to where they saw themselves at that moment. How many of us go through some challenge and when we come out on the other side, we are feeling let down, as if our work or our prayers were unfruitful. No matter how black the night may seem, the sun always comes up again. And as the daylight returned, and the dawn broke, someone is standing on the shore, calling out to them. That would not have unusual, as someone might have been asking to buy their catch. But this was someone who came to bring them something. They called out that they had caught nothing and he told them to let down their nets again and on the right side. They had heard those words before. When they obeyed they could hardly pull them in again. There is profound meaning in all this.

John knows who that is and when it 'dawns' on Peter, he doesn't wait to row to shore, he jumps in and swims there. It is the Master come back to them and with assurance that they will still be successful fishers of men. When they are all back on shore, they find breakfast ready and they are invited to join Jesus. Come and dine. Come sit with me as my beloved companions and students and I will serve you food and fill you up with inspiration. He broke bread with them, as he had done when feeding the multitudes...another symbolic reminder. He gave them fish, although he had not caught those fish in the lake. They had pulled in a large catch, but he was way ahead of them. He had pulled them back in.

Come and dine. That invitation is open to all of us. No matter how we have messed up, no matter how deeply we regret a mistake we have made or an action we have chosen. Come sit with the Christ and see the love in his eyes. Feel forgiven and renewed. Be redeemed and restored in the sight of others, as Peter was. Eat your fill, for you have work to do for God. He will guide you in the work He has prepared for you, just as he is preparing those who will be drawn to you for the loaves and fishes you will share.

And be expecting the opportunity. Hear yourself say....come and dine.