Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's about choices

Choices. Think how many times a day we make choices. This week's Bible Lesson on Everlasting Punishment has some fine examples from the Scriptures about choices and consequences.

Is God tempting us with choices? No. God, good, is the only cause and creator. What He creates is good. No exceptions. So there is nothing 'out there' that can be suggesting that we listen to another voice, follow the wrong path, make a false move. Mrs. Eddy asks: "Does divine Love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin, and then punishing him for it?"  The answer is no. So where does the wrong doing, the poor choice, come in?  Mrs. Eddy says: "It is the opposite of good - that is, evil - which seems to make men capable of wrong-doing. Hence, evil is but an illusion, and it has no real basis. Evil is a false belief. God is not its author". The real man, God's very image and likeness cannot depart from holiness.

Do you choose to include in your daily prayer for yourself your holiness?

The parable of the Prodigal son seems to be a series of choices. The young man chooses to be discontent with the rules his father has set. He asks for his inheritance early, before his father has passed on, and his father chooses to give it to him.  A few days later the boy chooses to leave home and go far away, where there appear to be no rules. He chooses to spend his inheritance unwisely and soon it is all gone. He could have chosen to go home at that point but he chooses to stay in that place and a citizen sends him into the field to feed the pigs. And no one offers to help him. At this low point he suddenly realizes that he can make a different choice. He can choose to leave that place and go home. He can choose to  apologize for his behavior and ask to be hired on as a servant.

By listening to and understanding Jesus' teachings and demonstrations we can choose to  live a more spiritual life. We can choose to escape from evil and evil's influences. We can choose to stop identifying ourselves with behavior that is the opposite of good. We can choose to recognize our relation to God, our divine sonship. We can choose to leave the old way for the new. We can choose to be glad that we are making that choice.

His father was watching and waiting for him, ready to welcome him home with kisses and open arms. He was glad to have him back. He did not refer to what had passed. He treated him as the son he had always been. What has been forsaken has been forgiven. There was no punishment, no condemnation. Well, the older brother was put out but that was another choice and another part of the parable.

In another section of the Lesson we read about blind Bartimaeus. He had been sitting by the wayside, a road leading into Jericho, begging.  A great number of people were passing by and he must have asked what was going on. He was told that it was Jesus of Nazareth. He immediately begins to call out referring to Jesus as the son of David. Others told him to hold his peace but he chooses to cry out more persistently. Jesus stops and asks to have him called over. Now others encourage him to rise up and go to the Master. This is the cool part. As he does so, he casts away his garment, a ragged cloak that was meant to call attention to his blindness so others would feel badly for him and give him money. This identity he willingly drops. When Jesus asks what he wants, he asks for his sight and is healed. How often do we pray for healing but cling to our raggedy old view of ourselves, accept the claim as real? Are we as willing as Bartimaeus to cast off that shade of gloom and illness and go to the Master?

Choices. Where should we look?

"Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things. Where shall the gaze rest but in the unsearchable realm of Mind?" (Science and Health 264)

Friday, April 17, 2015

How is your life-practice coming along?

Practice life. What a wonderful way to go through your day.

Our Bible Lesson this week includes this sentence from Science and Health.

"The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God's will must be universally done." (S&H 202)

That sentence just lit up for me this morning and I am going to go through today being aware of how I am practicing Life. Life is a synonym for God. God is my Life and I live as Life expressing itself in countless wonderful ways. Vitality. Freedom of movement. Joy.

How could one not be joy-filled when they are aware and grateful for their unity with God, good! That is a unity which cannot be severed. Our privilege is to express this in our life-practice. I look out  my window this morning and the trees that were absolutely bare and devoid of life a few days ago are now leafed out in a lovely shade of green. Life being practiced. By trees. How much more can I practice my highest sense of Life in all I do today?

The sentence also declares that God's will must be universally done. And His will is to pour out blessings and grace upon all of His creation, each one of His ideas. That includes me. That includes you. That makes it possible, even necessary, that I have a strong life-practice.

So as I move through the day I will be practicing Life and seeing evidence of Life being practiced all around me.

I hope you are planning on doing the same. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Is that a designer sack cloth?

Our Bible Lesson asks 'Are sin, disease and death real?"  Not a question to be answered lightly. It includes several examples from the Scriptures of people dealing with those three claims and it shows how they were healed.

But this morning I am spending time on a different idea that popped out at me from the Responsive Reading. It was in Psalms 30:11. "Thou has turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;".

Sackcloth is a very heavy, coarse, dark colored cloth of goat's hair. It is worn as a sign of mourning, next to the skin. The putting off of sackcloth was a symbol of joy, of thanksgiving for deliverance from an intolerable position or condition; it celebrated a changing of affliction by one's enemies to the casting off of the yoke of bondage.

How do we use this information today? Well, should you be dealing with a rash or skin condition you might consider if there is something in your thought that is causing you to mourn or to be irritated. It may be the loss of a loved one but it might also be the loss of other things. Whatever it seems to be, it has affected you in a way that would take away your joy; your joy in yourself, your life, your spouse, your family, your friends, your church, your work. And dealing with it has caused you to show the world in your face and your attitude that you are mourning that loss.

You put on the sackcloth. You can take it off, with the help and support of divine Love.

Our Bible Lesson offers many ways to be alert and watchful of what is creeping into thought. Are those ideas and suggestions from God, the source of all good, who loves you unconditionally and is constantly pouring our grace and blessings? If they are negative thoughts, absolutely not.

Naturally, there is a time to express grief but one has to be careful not to don that hairy shirt with resentment or anxiety or stubborn will. There may be a need for forgiveness. Divine Love forgives, Jesus forgave, can we not also forgive? Who is hurt when we harbor those feelings? We get stuck with sackcloth and is of our own designing.

God is 'girding' you with joy. He is anointing you with the oil of gladness. Not at all like a sackcloth. More like being clothed with righteousness, right-thinking, Truth-knowing.

A much nicer outfit by far!