Thursday, January 24, 2013

An occasion when there was a victory over evil

This morning I am working with a sentence from our weekly Bible Lesson. This week's lesson is about Truth and this is the sentence: "At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. " (S&H 571)

A number of years ago we were struggling a bit financially. We were just making ends meet but there were certainly not baskets full left over. A friend lent me a tape of a Bible workshop given by a Christian Scientist. I was familiar with his talks and had attended several of them. They were wonderful, filled with insights and inspiration. When I returned it to her she pointed out that the talks were available to purchase. I went to the site and was amazed at how many he had done. I wanted them all but couldn't afford to order even one.

The next few days I moped around in a deep pity party. I felt deprived and unhappy. It wasn't long before I decided I better pray about this. I opened that conversation a bit resentfully and laid out my case before God. It seemed to me that we were doing all we could to meet our obligations and to continue to support church. It didn't seem fair that I found out about those tapes and couldn't order even one.  I went on like that until I just ran out of things to say. Then God asked, "Are you finished?"  "Yes".  "Good. Go open the box in the garage."  Somehow it didn't seem right to demand 'what box' so I knew that what was required was just simple obedience. I went into the garage which was filled with years worth of stored boxes. But I walked right over to a box I had set down months before.

A member of our church had passed on and her roommate, not a Christian Scientist, had called me, asking if I would come and pick up a box of Christian Science things she did not want. This was the box which I had not ever opened. I did now.

Underneath a layer of books by Mrs. Eddy was a complete set of the Bible talk cassettes. Not one or two, a complete set. And they had been there all the time. I brought the box inside and sat on the floor with tears running down my face. "Father, thank you so much! Even before I asked You, You provided this bounty for me." You can bet I have been more obedience to His direction since then.

At all times and under all circumstances..... especially when I am tempted to believe that God is not present or all powerful. Love is always unfolding good, all we need to do is recognize that divine Mind is giving us the wisdom to overcome evil no matter what form it tries to take.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mirrors and monsters

This past Sunday I substituted in a fourth grade class. I gave each student a piece of blue paper. On the paper was Mrs. Eddy's definition of man. Next I asked them to slide that paper into a clear sheet protecter. We were discussing the answer the lawyer gave to Jesus about how he interpreted the law of God. We are to love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Each student was given a sheet of stickers with pictures of monsters. I asked them what they thought their heart represented and they said it was how you loved someone. So I asked for examples of times when they were not being loving. When we summed those up we could identify one of our monsters and they could place that sticker on the sheet protecter. We did this with all five and their answers and insights were wonderful. The sheet protecters were soon covered with little monsters. Now we slid the blue paper out and could see that it had not been touched at all by those monster-like qualities. It was perfect. They seemed to enjoy this exercise.

Thinking about it later I thought if I did this again I would go to the Dollar Store and find those 4" x 6" clear picture frames that you can put on your refrigerator. I would find a small mirror that fit inside and then they would actually be able to see their own reflection as we did this exercise. Should they be tempted to exhibit wrong behaviour or thinking they could remember the picture frame and mentally slide that image of themselves out to see the true reflection.

In this week's Bible Lesson about Truth there is a citation from Science and Health that would fit with this idea. "Objects utterly unlike the original do not reflect that original." That could have led into a discussion of man as the image and likeness, the exact reflection, of God, being only good. I like the idea that when we seem to be expressing something unloving or unkind, thinking something that was not what God was thinking, feeling bad or sad thoughts, using our strengths in the wrong way, we could just mentally slip that mirror out of the frame and see that the true reflection was always there, unchanged and untouched. The 'monsters' had no power to influence or harm. Only what was true was real.

Solomon relied on God to make right and just decisions. With all his heart and mind and soul. Jesus was always expressing truth in what he said and did, and in how he percieved those around him. And Paul, blinded by monstrous thoughts and actions, was able to change his ways and turn his life around. Truth is a wonderful thing and the effect of knowing the truth is blessing and healing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Are you still fishing?

The disciples had spent three years in very close contact with Jesus as their teacher. They had seen him cleanse lepers, cast out demons, heal the sick and raise the dead. He had even overcome death himself and appeared to them in the room where they were hiding for fear of a similar fate. But once he returned, he did not stay with them as he had before. They did not know what to do as they appeared to be leaderless. So several of them turned to Peter who says to them, "I'm going fishing".

Jesus had told them he would make them fishers of men. They had abandoned their former professions and begun healing ministries. But now, they seemed to take a step backwards. Have you ever found yourself feeling lost and confused? Maybe you had prayed for yourself or someone else and the healing had not come. Despite deep prayer and listening some issue was not resolved. It can be difficult to overcome some character trait or tendency, even when we truly want to think of things in a new and more spiritual way. So we return to or fall back on old habits of thought and action, believing we have failed. Maybe even accepting the suggestion that Christian Science had failed.

Peter and the others got in the boat and that night they didn't catch one fish. They came up empty handed. Think how they must have felt that morning. "Oh great, now I can't support myself by fishing anymore.  All the fish are gone.  I thought I could at least rely on this".  But they were not alone or abandoned. Jesus was waiting for them on shore. He calls out to them asking if they have any meat. Of course he already knew the answer. They had to admit that they had nothing. He tells them to 'cast the net on the right side' and they will find.  This seems foolish as it is now daylight and the fish, if there are any, could see the net. But he had done this with them once before so they obey. This morning the nets were so full they could not pull them in. What a visual confirmation of the 'catch' waiting for them if they returned to fishing for men! They needed to stop fishing as a profession and go back to their work as healers and teachers. The needed to spread the word about God and His son.

Jesus made his demonstation. Now it is our turn as his followers and disciples to make ours. We must not give in to discouragement when the healings seem to be delayed or our prayers ineffectual. We must defend Christian Sciece from the world's hatred and insist that it does always work because it is the truth and fully supported by God. We need to be partakers of the 'morning meal', sitting down with the Christ every day. Are you praying for yourself every day? Do you take prayer breaks during the day just to tell God you love Him and listen for His 'I love you back'?

Don't go fishing for answers in the wrong place. Expect to recieve a full catch, a complete healing. Cast your 'net' on the right side. You are one of his apostles so this applies to you: "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people;".

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Are you feeling cumbered?

This week's Bible Lesson on Sacrament offers a way to find and express grace, graciousness, and gracefulness as we go about our day and serve God. The first section is about baptism and purity and I enjoyed working with that yesterday, the whole sense of God being like a refiner of silver, we works with the metal to remove all the impurities to the point where there is a perfect reflection.

Today I am just loving the second section and the story of Mary and Martha. Notice that it is Martha who welcomes Jesus into their home. I wonder if she is the older sister. Mary sits at his feet, listening and learning. But Martha bustles around making people welcome, being sure there are enough chairs, caring for their needs. Caught up in the responsibility of offering hospitality she is 'cumbered' and flustered, unhappy that Mary is making no effort to help her. When she mentions this to Jesus, he gently reminds her that she has gotten involved and distracted, and she has chosen to do all those things instead of putting down the dish towel and joining the group around him. Those things can wait, but he will only be with them a short time and those moments are precious.

Being the oldest child in our family I was often called on to care for my younger siblings when both parents were working. I helped them with their homework, fixed dinner, did the dishes, ran the laundry, tucked them in, etc.. Only then could I do my own homework. I guess I did feel a bit 'cumbered' now and then but it was just simple household stuff and nothing spiritual. And my parents appreciated what I was doing.

The dictionary has several interesting definitions of cumbered. First is 'weighed down, burdened'. I'm sure you've noticed how everyone is determined to lose weight this month after all the goodies from Thanksgiving to New Year's day. Just look at the magazines in the check out line or the ads on tv to see how much money is being spent to coax you to try this diet plan or that method of losing weight. It just might be the number one New Year's resolution. But looked at spiritually, being weighed down is a mental thing, feeling burdened is certainly not expressing our freedome as the image and likeness of God, who created us and is well pleased with our identity. If we have indulged in heavy thinking, this is a perfect time to lift those thoughts.

The second defintion is hamper or hinder. Are you feeling unhappy because there is something in your life that is hampering or hindering you in some way? Surely is it not coming from God who is Love, constantly loving us and providing good. If you think something is 'in your way' who put it there? How can it be removed? By doing what Mary did....stop, sit still, and listen to the Christ, the true idea about God and His beloved creations. Many times when I am feeling 'cumbered' I know that what I need to do is just stop....stop fretting....stop blaming....stop entertaining those thoughts. I need to be still and listen to the angel messages God is sending me.

A third defintion is litter or clutter up. Our house was littered with used wrapping paper, empty boxes, and bit of this and that. Our rooms were cluttered with presents we had not yet put away in their right place. It was not a good representation of order and beauty. I had to be patient and appreciate how everyone was loving the things they recieved and those who sent them. Soon enough family members went back to work and school. I had quiet time to clear away the mess and restore our rooms. It was easier to settle into my usual spiritual routine for study and prayer. Now it feels like I am actively choosing to consecrate my day to God, letting Him show me what to do and when to do it.

"Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" (I Chron 29:5) This is my first duty and what God expects of me. Everything else will follow and fall into place. And I will not feel 'cumbered' about anything.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

How lame is that?

I am continuing to read Miscellaneous Writings using the daily journal published by the Christian Science Board of Directors and sold in the reading room. Using this study guide one can read through Miscellaneous Writings in a year. The assignment for today included reading part of one of Mrs. Eddy's Christmas sermons found on pages 167-168. What caught my interest and prompted a closer look was a reference to the 'lame'.

I live in a three generation household that includes 'grands' from 5 years old to 18 years old. More than once I have heard them refer to something as 'lame'. As in, how lame is that!, for something they thought silly. But the passage I read today shed some new light on that phrase.

Mrs. Eddy uses it as she elaborates on something Jesus said. He was responding to John the Baptist's questioning if Jesus was the promised Messiah. John was in prison at the time, about to be beheaded through the malice of the king's wife. He sent two of his own students to ask Jesus this question. It might have been that John was questioning it himself or he might have suspected that he would not be around to continue to teach his students and he wanted them to turn to the best Teacher, the Messiah. Those two men witnessed Jesus going about teaching and healing the blind and the deaf, cleansing the lepers, things the promised Messiah would be able to do. Mrs. Eddy's explanation included this: " the lame, those halting between two opinions or hobbling on crutches, walk,".

There have been times when I have caught myself halting between two opinions about a physical challenge, or the need to express more supply, or a situation where something had been said or done that needed a return to harmony. Listening to human opinions that could seem to stop my progress or choosing to only hear the spiritual truth. Not walk confidently with God but hesitating. In a way, that was lame.Weak and ineffectual. Even disabled. This is when I need to be still and know that God is in control, Love is everpresent, and I am safe and well right then and there, listening for the sweet angel message that will tell me just what it is I need to know. Being grateful for Mind's instruction. Trusting calmly. And then moving forward, physically and spiritually, healed.

What about crutches? Is there something you are leaning on, something you depend on and when that is missing, causes you pain or unhappiness? Sleep? Coffee? Heaven forbid, chocolate? Communication with a loved one? An employers approval and appreciation of the work you are doing? The internet for ideas? There is only one thing we need to lean on, the sustaining infinite, God. Mrs. Eddy writes: "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite today is big with blessings".

So today I will move with confidence and joy, without hesitation, secure in my steady progress. I will only lean on my Father Mother God and know that good is here right now.

Nothing lame about that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Right where I am

Today I am working with the third section of our Bible Lesson about God. It contains the story of Daniel in the lions' den. This is a familiar story so I want to find something new and wonderful to consider about Daniel's experience.

Our Golden Text asssures us that God hears our prayers. Those prayers are not for His benefit, to inform Him of something He might not be aware of. Daniel didn't try to call God's attention to the problem he appeared to be dealing with. I'm sure he did not ask to be teleported to safety, not did he ask for the lions to be killed. He may have done some praying for the king but his own thought must have been free of resentment and fear. How did he do that in such a dark and frightening place? By affirming that he was never out of God's presence. Right where danger threatened, Daniel knew he had never left the kingdom of God where he could only be surrounded by good.

If you think you know nothing about God, remember He knows everything about you, at all times and under all circumstances. He fills all space so you can never be seperated by Him no matter how strong the suggestions appears to be.  Hold to that idea "until these calamities be overpast", as it says in Psalm 57:1.

Daniel was convinced of his own innocence. He was imprisioned because he chose to continue to pray to God three times a day, despite the silly law the king had decreed. He had not broken any law that applied to him and was not to be held accountable for any other so-called law that had no power behind it.

There is no other power or presence but God.  Mrs. Eddy writes in this section: "The power of God brings deliverence to the captive". That is what happens for Daniel, and also to the king, who sees the power of God exercised on Daniel's behalf as the angel of God, God's message of Truth and Love, shut the lions' mouths. Those hungry lions were pacified and calmed....fed by that Love divine....and they were not harmed by this experience either.

So today I will stop often, at least three times, to pray, to cultivate that state of awareness that acknowleges the allness of God, the everpresence of good right where I am at that moment. As I watch my 'grands' all day today (school starts up next week), as I gather up our Christmas decorations and put them away in bins. We take our prayers with us in all the mundane chores and as we meet the needs of the day. I am never alone, God is always with me. Emmanuel. I don't have to cower before the roaring and raging of evil. I can stand calm and secure that the same angels are working for me. I can claim my innnocence and dominion right where I am, because right where I am is with God. And I can know this is true for everyone else.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A good idea - goodness

One of the stocking stuffers that we got this Christmas was a little collection of questions to talk about as a family. We took it with us yesterday when we visited a local donut shop. It sparked some interesting conversations. One question was "How would you like to be remembered by others?".

I was thinking about that this morning as I studied this week's Bible Lesson, God. The second section of the Lesson focuses on God as good. That seems like a simple enough concept but it brings deep and satisfying thoughts when one really can see and accept and understand that God is good and that His creation, including each of His children, is also good by reflection, as His image and likeness.

That would be a nice way to have others describe good. How would you behave around someone you thought of as good? Would you be less likely to use bad language or bad behavior? Would you seek out the company of someone you think of as good? Would they inspire you to be a better person yourself? God is all of that and more. The Bible is filled with examples of God's goodness to all and His 'tender mercies', even to those who do not seem to deserve it. Jesus spoke of God as his Father. He uses that unconditional love in his parable of the Prodigal Son and his wonderful descripton of the Good Shepherd.

The Scriptures open with a spiritual creation where God sees everything that He has made and it is very good. Do we take this to heart and see our univese filled with good and goodness? This second section also includes this from Mrs. Eddy, "God, good, being ever present, it follows in divine logic that evil, the suppositious opposite of good, is never present". Think of that! What an important part of our daily prayer for ourselves and the world. To understand that good is ever present and evil is never present. That can seem like a challenge when the headlines are filled with details of disaster and tragedy.  So the 'strong claim of Science for the supremecy of God' may take some deep prayerful work.

In my own spiritual growth this year I would like to understand my own goodness, the goodness God is pouring out on His creation, the goodness I reflect as His child. To see good and goodness everywhere and in every one.

This is the perfect day, this first day of 2013, to strive for and demonstrate good.