Saturday, September 29, 2012

How can I be a living sacrifice?

Today I am working with the last section of our Bible Lesson on Unreality. What struck was this phrase 'living sacrifice'. How can one be a living sacrifice? When I think of a sacrifice I think of something that has been given up to God. So I looked up the word 'sacrifice' in the dictionary. This Lesson sheds the light of Truth so we can see what is real and what is unreal. That light shone nicely on this definition.

Sacrifice. The act of offering something to a diety in propitiation or homage.  Relinquishment of something. To forfeit one thing for another thing considered to be of greater value.

I think I can be a living sacrifice as I come to understand more about the allness of God, the everpresence of good, and so, can see what God sees, the real creation. I can sacrifice my false beliefs and errors in favor of holding only to the true. Our Lesson includes a passage from Romans I mentioned earlier. "I beseech you therefor brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Rom 12:1)

There's the 'living sacrifice' in reference to our bodies. There are things I am working on about my body when I do my daily pray for myself. Those are the things, the false beliefs, I need to let go of. I need to see me as God sees me, as I am as His idea, already perfect and expressing all the qualities of Soul, everything that is true about Truth. To see that is already true and has never been changed anywhere but in my own thought. As I raise the level of my thinking, bring it in line with divine Mind, I will see it expressed on my body. It is my divine right and given to me by the grace of God.

So today I will be alert for opportunities to be a good 'living sacrifice' to my beloved Father, who looks at me and says He is well pleased.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hastening to meet the Christ

This is such an amazing Bible Lesson on Unreality. It is just jammed with strong stories to help us shine the light of Truth on any situation that might come into our own experience.

I have always loved the story of Jesus and his meeting with Zacchaeus, the chief of the Publicans. Zacchaeus is described as 'very rich' and the implication is that he gained those riches by cheating others. But there must have been some good in the man because when he heard that Jesus was coming to town he wanted very much to see who he was. So much so that he sacrificed his own dignity by running ahead and climbing up a tree to see him. (Zacchaeus was apparently 'little of stature') 

So here is this chief of the Publicans sitting up in a tree, probably hoping no one would see him, when Jesus comes to the place where he is. How like the Master to always meet people right where they were in thought. He looks up, not just physically I am sure, but metaphysically to see what was true about his man, this child of God who is Principle. Then he speaks to him and tells him to make haste and come down for Jesus has chosen to eat at Zacchaeus' house that day.

Zacchaeus recieves this news with great joy. He must have known on one level that this would bring a whole crowd of people into his house but he makes haste and comes down. He must have known what the people were thinking as they murmured that Jesus was going to be the guest of a sinner. They probably walked on together at that point, Jesus continuing to teach along the way. 

His words must have had quite an effect. Later when the meal was ending, Zacchaeus stood up before everyone and made a startling announcement. (I LOVE the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, this scene with Zacchaeus always reminds me of Scrooge when he has finished his visits with the ghosts and become a new man) Zacchaeus now announces that he will give half of what he owns to the poor. But there is more! He also vows to repay fourfold anyone he has cheated in the past. Can you imagine the stir that created!

Now Jesus confirms to all that salvation has come to that household. He had come to save that which was lost and here was living proof of that.  Mrs. Eddy has something interesting to say about repaying others. "In trying to undo the errors of sense one must pay fully and fairly the utmost farthing, until all error is finally brought into subjection by Truth. The divine method of paying sin's wages involves unwinding one's snarls, and learning from experience how to divide between sense and Soul." (S&H 447)  Zacchaeus was certainly untangling all those snarls he had created and anyone who wishes to follow the Christ can do the same. All we need is ' a truer sense of Love' and that redeems us so that we are only subject to the law of divine Love.

If Scrooge and Zacchaeus could be redeemed and restored to their rightful place as the children of God, divine Love, that path is open to everyone. The Christ will meet you right where you are and come to your house (your consciousness) today. Will you hasten to meet him?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Don't look on the 'outward appearance'

More from this week's Bible Lesson on Unreality and how shining the light of Truth on a problem or situation brings healing.

In section four we read about a leper who approached Jesus. This took courage because, by the law of his da,y he was forbidden to come within a certain distance of others. They saw leprosy as a punishment inflicted by God for some great sin. But this is not how Jesus saw those who came to him for healing. The verse from II Corinthians sets up the spiritual lesson for us and asks a very important question: "Do you look on things after the outward appearance?". How often are we tempted, when faced with the appearance of disease or lack or inharmony, to believe that it is the reality and then try to heal it through prayer? What we do in Christian Science is to pray, not about the outward appearance, but to start from the premise that God, good, fills all space and that each of us is His image and likeness, already and always whole, completely supplied, and living a harmonious life. We pray to heal the false belief or suggestion that disease or lack or inharmony is present. The correction must take place in thought and then it removes the false belief and suggestion and the problem is healed.

The leper tells Jesus that he beleives if Jesus chooses to he can make the man clean of leprosy. This man had great faith and absolute conviction that Jesus could do it, he just feared that Jesus might see him as unworthy and choose not to do it. Jesus, ever filled with compassion, did not look on the outward appearance but saw right through the illusion to the pure and innocent child of God. He tells the man that he will heal thou clean. See yourself as who you really are and be cleansed of this false belief. As soon as he spoke, all evidence of the leprosy disappeared. That's what happens when the light of Truth shines on some dark problem and its unreality fades.

This section in Science and Health sums it up this way: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light". (Isa 9:2)  I love what Mrs. Eddy writes about the practitioner's role in healing. "To the Christian Science healer, sickness is a dream from which the patient needs to be awakened. Disease should not appear real to the physician, since it is demonstrable that the way to cure the patient is to make disease unreal to him." (S&H 417)

Here's something that is so wonderful! "Christian Science brings to the body the sunlight of Truth, which invigorates and purifies. Christian Science acts as an alterative, neutralizing error with Truth. It changes secretions, expels humors, dissolves tumors, relaxes rigid muscles, restores carrious bones to soundness. The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind". (S&H 135) How does Mrs. Eddy know this? Because she applied it and demonstrated all those things for others. She healed as Jesus healed and wrote Science and Health so we can too. If you think reading the book can't help you and your problem just read the last 100 pages, filled with testimonies of those healed of all manner of sickness and all manner of disease as they read it. Don't have a copy? Email me at and I'll send you one as a gift.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wheat and tares - not united by progress but separated

Continuing with ideas from this week's Bible Lesson on Unreality, section three throws more light on the things that would suggest there is a darkness happening in our lives or around us. The light of Truth, when shined on these suggestions, shows them for what they are, just lies hoping to be believed. When we refuse to believe them, they are powerless to cause any further disruption or anxiety.

Truth is shining upon you. All the time. In all circumstances. God is the source of that light. Even if we say 'I am in a dark place' that light is still present and operating on our behalf. It is our job to look for it. Psalm 84 assures us that 'no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly'. What do others see when they look at you? Are you upright, standing tall and straight with confidence? We should always walk that way for there is nothing that can bow us down. We bow only to God. When we stand up to error it flees before Truth and Love.

Right now there is a cougar alert here at the Principia College campus. Occasionally cougars are spotted on our 2600 acres of beautifully wooded land. Campus security people tell us that if we spot a cougar just stand up straight, look it in the eye, wave your arms and shout. It will flee as it wants nothing to do with humans. Do not cringe or cower or act like prey. Good advice. We saw that in Moses' demonstration over the rod that appeared to become a snake.

Today I am focusing on section three that has the parable Jesus told about the tares and the wheat. He always used every day common things to make a spiritual point that the listeners could identify with and remember. He speaks of a man sowing good seed in his field. But while he was sleeping an enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat. Tares are an invasive weed that is very hard to eliminate. They look almost like sprouted wheat but wheat produces a good kernel and the tares are only good for burning. His workers are concerned when these weeds show up and wonder where they came from. Isn't that typical, to try to figure out where some bad thing came from instead of seeing that it does not have it source in God, who did the original sowing. The man is wise. He says don't try to pull them out now, don't be concerned about them. At the time of harvest the good will be very obvious from the bad and then they can be separatd without harm to the wheat. The wheat will be gathered and the tares will be burned so they do not sow more bad seeds.

Now that is shedding light on an important concept. We all have 'tares' show up now and then. We usually have that first reaction, where is this coming from? But Jesus was telling them not to be overly concerned with that which cannot harm you. Our job is to separate, not unite, these types of thoughts. That becomes easy as we take time to study and pray each day. This dedication leads to spirtual progess and with spiritual progress it gets easier and easier to spot error for what it is - nothing claiming to be something - and take away any effect it claims to have.

I love the sentences from page 300 in Science and Health that contain the phrase 'never touch' several times. The unreal never touches us. The changeable and imperfect never touch us. The inharmonious things never touch us. If they never touch us they cannot have an effect or leave a mark or a scar.

Today I will keep this phrase printed out and with me all day. "Spirit imparts the understanding which uplifts consciousness and leads to all truth". (S&H 505) This is how I will be able to separate those tares that appear today and it will open my eyes to the good 'wheat' all around me. Try it and I'm sure it will work for you as well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Handling sudden suggestions

The first thing I noticed about this week"s Bible Lesson on Unreality was right in the Golden Text. "God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all." (I John 1:5)  I knew the Lesson would be shining the light of Truth, as explained in Science and Health, on anything God did not make. This would bring about healing as we saw the unreality of the error. But today as I worked with the Lesson I saw how I could substitute whatever error I was praying about in all the places where the word 'darkness' appears. In section one Mrs. Eddy makes this so clear and easy to do. Let's say you were dealing with the suggestion of sickness or lack or fear. As you read the Lesson make that substitution where the word darkness appears. For example, "We are sometimes led to believe that (sickness, lack, fear) is as real as light (Truth); but Science affirms (sickness, lack, fear) to be only a mortal sense of the absence of (Truth), at the coming of which (sickness, lack, fear) lose the appearance of reality". Whatever you use to fill in the blank can be eliminated, healed, by shining the light of what is real and true about God's perfect, good, creation. Whatever the claim or suggestion appears to be, it lacks a divine cause because it was not created or caused by God.

Section Two has a perfect example of this with the story of Moses' rod and the appearance of disease. First God asks Moses to cast his rod, his symbol of authority that identifies him as a prophet, on the ground. Don't let anything suggest to you that you could ever be less than the child of God and the idea of divine Mind. Do not associate yourself with the person created in Genesis Two, made from the dust of the ground. Don't let error try to cast you in that mold. Moses let go of the rod and it appeared to suddenly change into a deadly snake. Has something suddenly appeared to change in your life or your body? It can be frightening, and Moses was so frightened he turned and ran. But God told him to come back and pick that 'snake' up by the tail. You've got to be kidding, pick it up the most dangerous way? No, pick it up fearlessly as you know it could not possibly be what it suddenly appeared to be. So Moses picks it up, by the tail, and it became his familiar rod. Just what it had always really been.

Then God has him tuck his hand into his shirt and when he takes it out a disease has suddenly appeared there. Has something like that ever happened to you? A disease just suddenly seems to have appeared on your body or in it. But God has him repeat the process and when he removes his hand it
'was turned like as the other'. It looks just like it had to begin with, no sign of disease, no gradual fading away but instantly gone.

Handle those 'serpents' when they seem to suddenly appear in your life. Don't be afraid. God has never left you defenceless but has given you absolute dominion over anything that threatens you or suggests it can cause disease. It lacks divine authority while you have it, the authority to shine the light of Truth on what is unreal to expose the lie and see what was really there all the time.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cast off the garment of whatever is unreal.

Today I am thinking about the healing of blind Bartimaeus which is in this week's Bible Lesson on Reality. This story occurs in three of the gospels but it is only in Mark that we are told his name. Jesus is entering or leaving Jericho, the gospels do not agree on this but he is, as usual, surrounded by a crowd clamoring for his attention. We can assume the disciples were with him which makes Matthew an eye witness and Mark would be telling Peter's memory of the event. Luke was not a disciple of Jesus and wrote his gospel from eye witness accounts but Luke was a physician as well as an historian and he paid special attention to physical healings. No one had healed blindness before Jesus came on the scene and it was one of the special attributes that the Messiah was prophesied to have.

So as this noisy crowd appears blind Bartimaeus is sitting  along side the highway begging. Being blind he is unable to earn a living and must beg. We do not  know his age but he is not a child. He could not see what was going on so he asked what the fuss was about and is told that it is Jesus of Nazareth. He must have been hearing about the teaching and healing Jesus had been doing for he immediately recognizes and believes that he is the Messiah. He begins to call out to him, addressing him as Son of David and asking for his mercy. Those around him tell him to be quiet and not disturb Jesus but he just cries out louder for his attention. Here is an important point for us to notice. Despite those around him trying to prevent him from seeking this healing he just asks for it with more determination. And this perseverence is rewarded.

Jesus, always aware of those who are true seekers and filled with faith, hears that voice above the clamor and he stops. He stands still with the result that the whole crowd also stops. He commands that this man be called. Now those around Bartimaeus change their tune and begin to urge him saying to be of good comfort for Jesus has heard him and is calling for him. Wouldn't you love to get an answer to your prayer like that!

It doesn't seem like anyone rushes to help him however, he who has always needed to be lead now does something extraordinary. He rises up, stands on his own two feet with confidence and he casts aside his garment.  A Bible commentary once explained the tattered garment worn by beggars helped to identify them in that role. Bartimaeus now shrugs off that identity and goes to Jesus.

Notice that Jesus does not identify him as blind, he simply asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him. Bartimaeus asks that he might recieve his sight. The gospels do not say if he had been born blind, suffered some injury or disease, or what had caused this blindness. That didn't matter to Jesus who already saw him as perfect and whole just as God had made him. He simply says 'go thy way'. This man who had needed others to lead him was free to go on his own. Jesus follows that up with an acknowledgement that his faith had made this healing possible. Can we do that? Can we pray to God or ask a practitioner for metphysical treatment and have that absolute faith that the healing would happen? Do we insist on our wholeness?

Immediately the blindness is gone and Bartimaeus could see and from there on followed Jesus in the way. We can take that literally or possibly that he became a follower of Jesus words and lived his life in accordance with his teaching. That should be the result of any healing, a change of thought about who and what we are and following on in that way.

Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health that 'Truth is affirmative and confers harmony".   She says 'we have only to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing; which enables us to work out our own salvation". Bartimaeus' story is a wonderful example of that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

a sweet reminder

It is Tuesday and I am still just getting into this week's Bible Lesson on Reality. What struck me this morning is from the second section. It is James 1:17. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning".  This was one of the first Bible verses that resonated with me over 40 years ago when I first began to study Christian Science.

At that time I was expecting my first child and was starting to read the Bible Lesson each week. This verse was in one of those lessons. I loved the beginning of it because it confirmed one of the things I was finding in my embrace of this (new to me) religion. I was drawn to Christian Science because I was looking for a way to worship God as I believed Him to be, my Good Shepherd. The only thing I was familiar with in the Bible was Psalm 23 and that summed up what I believed. So imagine my delight, as I struggled through reading Science and Health for the first time, and came to Mrs. Eddy's spiritual interpretation of that Psalm. There was the answer to my search. A loving, tender Shepherd.

So when I first read the above citation from James I focused on the first part only. Here was confirmation of what God is doing for me and for everyone else. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. All these years later I now own many different translations of the Bible. The New Living translations says "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from our God our Father....He never changes or casts a shifting shadow".  In the Message Bible is says "there is nothing decietful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all His creatures".  Pretty cool.

So God is good, always good, only good, and we are the recipients of that ourpouring of goodness. every good and perfect gift given to us by His grace.  When the baby came, (way before the days of knowing if it would be a boy or a girl in advance) I had a boy. His name is James and he goes by Jim. This is where the James came from. (It didn't hurt that is was also his granfather's middle name)

Now I love and appreciate the whole verse, not just being on the recieving end of that unlimited outpouring of good but understanding that God never changes, He never withholds good, He is always divine Love, loving me and everyone else, His very own child(ren).

Thanks, Dada, for the sweet reminder.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Making things straight

This week's Bible Lesson on Matter encourages us strongly to 'make things straight'. We can take comfort from one of my favorite passages in Isaiah, which appears in the Responsive Reading. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain". (Isa 40:4)  I use this a lot in my practice as people call to get help for depression, or struggle with what appears to be a mountainous problem, or seem to be going through a rough place in their experience. There have not been as many applications for making crooked things straight. But then, I started to think more deeply about that when it showed up so often this week.

The Golden Text instructs us in a very direct way to have nothing to do with silly myths. When you start to look around you see plenty of those and some of them are pretty crooked indeed. Last night there was an ad on tv about how women, affected by aging, begin to have a crooked back. The news is filled with examples of crooked dealings in the business world. Crooked can mean having bends, curves or angles. It also means dishonest and unscrupulous. Some people are dealing with that belief connected with legal matters that seem so hard to understand or advisors who do not give the best advice. You might even see lots of bends and angles in the current political campaigns.You might be dealing with a relationship at home or where you work that seems to need straightening out.  It can be a bit much. The above passage assures us that even these crooked places can be made straight. The solution is to see God's complete and perfect control. A favorite hymn refers to that as Love's sweet control. Continuing in the Responsive Reading we find God's promise renewed "I will make crooked things straight". (Isa 42:16)

An interesting example of dealing with crooked situations is also found in this Lesson. Daniel is confronted with the crooked dealings of those men who were jealous of the King's regard for him. Our Wednesday evening service included the story of Saul, who  was determined to put those crooked followers of the Christ where they belonged, in chains headed for punishment in Jerusalem. In both cases there loomed the threat of being in the lions' den.

Daniel did not obey a foolish law about praying only to Darius. When tossed into the lions' den as a  result, he did not waste time railing at the king or the men who had engineered this crooked thing. He prayed to know that he was protected by his innocence. He had not offended God and God would straighten this out. God did. He sent angels who shut the lions' mouths, not to mention the mouths of those who were saying false things about Daniel.

Saul headed to Damascus stomping along in a hurry to capture those upstart believers in Jesus as the Christ. Boy was he going to straight them out! You can just picture him marching along, arms flailing, shouting out threats and curses. (None of us would ever appear like this of course) He is not allowed to reach his destination in that frame of mind. The Christ appears to him and straightens out his false belief. The man who meant to lead other captive must himself be lead into the city. He had been blinded by his zealous thoughts and would need healing on many levels, lots of crooked things made straight. Those Christians would not be facing the lions that week.  Saul, who is soon to use the name Paul, is not the only one who gets straightened out in this account. Ananias, a devout Christian, is told to go to Saul and heal his blindness. Wouldn't you love to be told by God to go heal someone! But Ananias hestitates because he does not think Saul should be healed. This is the man who has come to them to arrest them! Now who is needing to be made straight? God speaks with him and Ananias is obedient. Saul is healed of his blindness, as is Ananias.

So as you are confronted with things that need to be made straight, how will you choose to react? In the second section of the Lesson Mrs. Eddy describes each of us as we truly are. "Immortal men and women are models of spiritual sense, drawn by perfect Mind and reflecting those higher conceptions of loveliness which transcend all material sense". (S&H 247) With the confidence and calm of a Daniel? With the rantings of a Saul? With the hesitancy of an Ananias? Remember just who it is that is doing the straightening.

Go with confidence, delighting in the law of God, and looking to see Him make those crooked places straight.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How's your treasure chest today?

What delight to find an unfamilar story in this week's Bible Lesson on Substance! It is about young king Joash. His wicked grandmother had become ruler some years before, commanding that all Hebrew boys be killed. Joash escaped because a loving aunt hid him. The queen followed Baal during her reign but when Joash became king he helped the people return to worshiping the one true God. First they needed to rebuild the temple she had destroyed.

Joash commanded that a chest be built and set outside by the temple gate. This enabled those who wished to cast money into it. And they did, from the princes on down. When the Levites, the priests, brough the chest in at night there was much money. They emptied into the treasury and put the chest outside again each day. The collected funds were used to pay masons and carpentersas well as those who worked in brass and iron, to mend what had been broken. In this way they put the house of God in order.

This section of the Lesson is about cheerful giving. That is what I want to focus on today. It is not about donations of money, although that can happen. It is more about coming to see through my daily prayer and study of Christian Science just what talents and gifts I have from God and how I can share those with others. If I am not in a position to give money, what else can I give today?

My time. My attention. A smile. A hug. A listening ear. A thought that might help someone who is struggling. An atmosphere of calm and peace. Love. A compliment. Encouragement. The right thought about someone or something.

None of those things would impoverish me in any way. In fact, they bless me in return.  God loves a cheerful giver and I resolve to give cheerfully all day today.