Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cast off that false identiy - the Bartimaeus example

Blind Bartimaeus, living on the fringe of society, clothed in the garment that identified him as a beggar, realized this was not just another day sitting by the highway. A huge crowd was passing by and in its midst was Jesus. Even though he could not see Baritmaeus knew that this was the promised Messiah, the son of David, who had come to heal and save.

Bartimaeus raised his voice, shouted to be heard about the tumult. And his cry was heard. Always aware of the receptivity of those around him Jesus paused. When the cry was repeated he commanded that the man should be called to him. Those who had shushed him now changed their tune and said, "Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee."

Now Baritaeus arose, lifted himself from the dirt and cast away his beggar's garment. He was not going to identify himself with that belief but stand up and go to the Master just as himself.

Imagine the joy he must have been feeling. No self pity, only humble expectation. Although it had not been done before Jesus' ministry, others were being healed of blindness. So when Jesus asks him what he wants him to do for him, he asks to receive his sight.

His faith is rewarded and immediately he could see.

When we turn to the Christ for healing, do we drop away any sense of imperfection, any suggestion of lack, any troubling discord in our life? Do we leave it behind with a joyful heart, fully knowing that nothing is impossible to God and this challenge, this false suggestion about our experience has no part in our oneness with God, good?

Once we are aware of just how close we are to the Christ,  once we understand that healing is right at hand, we need to rise up, as Bartimaeus did and run joyfully and expectantly to meet him.

What a wonderful and practical experience is provided in this short passage in the Gospel. It should be studied and put into use without delay. Don't stay by the wayside asking others to provide for you. See that God is right here, right now, ready to supply all human needs.

Receive your healing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why did he leave the 99?

The parable of the lost sheep is familiar to us and it resonated with Jesus' listeners so many centuries ago.

From the days of Abraham down to modern times, sheep have abounded in the Holy Land. The shepherd had many duties such as finding them food and water and a shaded place to rest. And to watch diligently against thieves, 2 legs or 4. In this parable the shepherd is responsible for 100 of them. At some point in the day he must have taken count and realize one was missing. The sheep know their shepherd's voice and come when called. But the missing sheep does not answer.

These animals were beloved of their families who called them by name. They must not stray from his protection for they are utterly helpless. Being responsible for them he will spend hours  searching for one, usually found in some desolate mountain ravine. It will be frightened and exhausted and he will carry it home on his shoulders.

Mrs. Eddy assures us with this from Science and Health: "Spiritual man is the image or idea of God, an idea which cannot be lost nor separated from its divine Principle." (303:28-30)

If you think you have wandered away from God, if you seem to have lost your way remember that "Love inspires, illumines, designates and leads the way." The way out, the way home, the way forward it always available to you. God loves you as one of His own flock.

I've been thinking about this thought expressed in the Novembe4r 29, 1993 Sentinel by Right Reverend Desmond Tutu:

"...God is like the good shepherd who goes out looking for the lost sheep. We are misled by the religious pictures which depict Jesus as the good shepherd carrying a cuddly white lamb on His shoulder. A lamb will  hardly stray from its mother. It is the troublesome, obstreperous sheep which is likely to go astray, going through the fence, having its wool torn and probably ending up in a ditch of dirty water. It is this dirty, smelly, riotous creature which the Good Shepherd goes after, leaving the good, well-behaved ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness, and when He finds it, why, He carries it on His shoulder and calls His friends to celebrate with Him."

In times distress we should listen for our Shepherd's voice. We know it. We know him. And when he calls, we answer, 'here I am!' and he carries us safely home.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What might she have said?

We know very little about the raising of Jairus' daughter from her perspective. She was 12 years old, much beloved by her parents, beyond any help they could provide to restore her from illness. Her father turned to Christ Jesus to heal his child. In the crush of people surrounding him, another had come seeking healing, humbly but bravely, she reached out and got her healing, But was it too late for the child? One of his household came running to say she was dead and he need not trouble the Master.

Jesus heard what was said and immediately denied this claim of death telling her father, Fear not, believe only, and she shall be made whole.  Think of that. Not only brought back from death but restored whole and healthy, free from whatever had tried to take her life.

We know the scene they faced on their arrival - much noise by professional mourners hoping to be hired for the funeral. But Jesus dismissed them. They would not be needed. He put them out, removing further insistence on the child's passing. Those who remained, her parents and his disciples, wept and bewailed the loss. He now puts them out as well. Perhaps so the childlike thought could better hear him and respond.

I love this account in Luke. Luke was himself a physician and always interested in recording Jesus' healings. As he gathered material for his two-volume writings - the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts - he interviewed eye witnesses and spoke with those who survived. Imagine if he had been able to talk with this girl, now grown to womanhood. What would he ask? What would I have asked? 

What did you say when he called to you?
What do I say when he calls to me, when he comes to me in my hour of need?

He called her Little Maid.
He tells her to arise.
And when she does, he commands them to feed her meat. She does not need broth, she is fully restored and should eat what any normal child her age should eat. Imagine if the claim had been about digestion or food allergies. They'd never have to deal with that again. Healed both child and parents.

If Jairus' daughter had spoken
Marjorie Macarthy
August 1986 Journal

Jesus said I was not dead.
He knew the light of Life shone in my heart.
The voice of Truth, with awakening touch,
Spoke with dominion, "Maid, arise."

That Word of God brought me, not back,
But forward to the revelation of where I'd always been,
Always am, always will be - living in God.
I did not  live again but never died.

The warmth of resurrection melts the frost of fear.
Love is the pasture where His lambs skip fearlessly.
Only the myth of mortality is consumed,
Never the one, the ever-present Life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

As small as a mustard seed

Often when Jesus preached and taught he was surrounded by a crowd. He certainly did not have access to microphones or speakers, not to mention the internet tools we have now. So it maybe that some of those farther back did not hear what he was saying. It may have been that later on those closer to the front were able to share what they had heard and because Jesus used such familiar objects and taught in parables they were able to impart his message to others.

In one instance he used the example of the lowly mustard seed. His disciples had been unable to heal an epileptic child. The distraught father brought the child to Jesus. He rebuked the devil - the false belief in disease - and it departed out of him and he was cured from that very hour.  The disciples took Jesus aside and asked him why they had been unable to accomplish this healing.  His response was, "Because of your unbelief; for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you." (Matt 17:18-20)

Faith as small as a mustard seed. The mustard seed is no larger than a dot made by a pencil. The largeness of a plant grown from seeds so small illustrates the increase of the kingdom of heaven from a very small beginning. The mustard plant Jesus referred to grew wild in that area attaining a height of a horse and rider. Birds rested on its branches.

Even a tiny quality of faith is sufficient to accomplish grand results. It includes within itself the potential for growth, expansion, and fulfillment. A full expectancy. The kind of faith required to move mountains must include an expectancy of results. It is more than a passive belief or blind hope.

How does a seed develop into a full grown plant? It grows into that particular plant because its identity is already within. Man, made in the image and likeness of God as explained in Genesis One, includes everything he needs with a unique spiritual identity already complete.

You might feel your faith is small and it is hard to glimpse the possibility of healing through spiritual power alone. Through study and prayer, that prayer that acknowledges the allness of God, good, you grow into understanding. Truth is revealed and any false suggestions or illusions fade away.

Seed of faith
Matthew 13:31,32
Virginia Young Townsend
June 2, 1986 Sentinel

Tiny see of mustard plant,
who would have thought
you would have caught
the Master's eye,
to give a lesson to all mankind?

When sown, you spread your branches wide
where fowl or coney may abide
under the shadow you provide.

Like you, our mustard seed of faith,
though beginning small, must grow,
sown in Mind, its branches spread and flourish.
Each tender thought to humbly feed and nourish
not only self but all mankind.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

No coincidence that Chariots of Fire is in this week's Lesson

I wonder if it is not a coincidence that this week's Bible Lesson on Mind includes the story of Elisha and the Chariots of Fire. In 1981 a movie by that name came out and it featured two runners who competed in the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

One athlete, Harold Abrahams, experiences anti-Semitism from the staff of Cambridge University. He achieves an undefeated string of victories in national running competitions. Eric Liddell, born in China of Scottish missionary parents, plans to pursue competitive running as a way to glorify God before returning to China to work as a missionary.

When they first race against each other, Liddell beats Abrahams who takes it poorly. The two athletes, after years of training and racing are accepted to represent Great Britain in the Olympics.
Boarding the boat to Paris Liddell learns that his 100 meter race will be on Sunday. He refuses to run the race because his Christian convictions prevent him from running on the Sabbath. Hope appears when one of his teammates, having already won a silver medal, proposes to yield his place in the 400 meter race on the following Thursday and Liddell gratefully accepts.

He delivers a sermon that Sunday and quotes Isaiah 40: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Liddell competes and wins a gold medal.

Our Bible Lesson tells how Elisha was able to warn the king of Israel about where the army of Syria was waiting in ambush. The king of Syria sends his army with horses and chariots to capture him. Elisha and his servant awake to find themselves surrounded. It is inspiring to see how Elisha handles the situation.

First he calms his frightened servant, assuring him that 'they that be with us are more than they that be with them'. He prays and asks God to open the servants eyes that he might see and he saw. Behold! The mountain was filled with horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha.

Researching the idea of Chariots of Fire I found this poem:

Mabel Stuart Curry
October 18, 1941 Sentinel

Elisha's servant cried to him in fear
when armies came and compassed them by night,
an enemy so strong that morning brought
no hope of safety there, no way of flight.

His master turned from fear to God in prayer.
"Open his eyes that he may see," he prayed:
"For they that be with us are more than they
that be with them." For he was not afraid.

So sometimes in our fear and deep distress
we turn to one whose words of Truth inspire;
then looking towards the mountains, may we see
the horses and the chariots of fire!

Monday, August 15, 2016

My hero - the poor wise man

This week's Bible Lesson on Mind includes a short but powerful story that deserves deep consideration.

There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; wisdom is better than weapons of war.  (Ecclesiastes 9: 15, 18)

This Bible story is paired with words of wisdom from Science and Health:

     Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.
     Be firm in your understanding that the divine Mind governs, and that in Science man reflects God's government. (Science and Health 393: 12 - 18)

     There have been times when I have felt a bit like that poor wise man, just one person against what seemed to be overwhelming odds. I see in this story a wonderful and inspiring deeper meaning. When one feels relentlessly besieged by the claims of evil, disease, or lack, one can face it with calm and poise.

...Mary Baker Eddy faced many such threats as she discovered and founded Christian Science. In her time, the mid-1800's, it was unheard of and frowned upon for a woman to be an author, lecture publicly, and manage her own affairs. By her reliance on God, she expressed the wisdom to establish a church, write its bylaws, and heal all manner of sickness.

     She wrote: 'Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need".

     An article was published in the Christian Science Journal about the poor wise man. I loved these ideas:

     Many Christian Scientist the world over that taken the role of the "poor wise man" and known the truth in the face of aggressive phases of error. On many occasions the thoroughness and devotedness of this prayerful work have resulted in a positive healing to others.

     The study and practice of Christian Science bestow the priceless blessing of spiritual understanding. This understanding enables one to go on his daily round with peace, joy, and clarity of thought, bringing healing to confusion and discord.

     ...that which saved the little city was not the person, but the wisdom of the Christ, bestowed by divine Love.
(The poor wise man who saved a city by Harry E. De Lasaux, Journal, April 1947)

     I'll be thinking about and appreciating that poor wise man today and giving thanks for the many times the Christ has been there to 'save the city' for me.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

the gate opened of its own accord

Today I am working with something that happened to Peter. He had been arrested and imprisoned and was awaiting what would be a nasty outcome. That night an angel visited him and his chains were struck off. He followed the angel until they came to what appeared to be an impossible barrier, the iron gate leading into the city. But, the account says that "opened to them of his own accord". (Acts 12:10)

Divine Love was with Peter during that difficult time. He send an angel to release his chains and lead him to freedom. No one stopped them. No alarm was raised. But Peter had to be willing to trust this rescue and move forward. Just when it seemed he would escape, an 'impossible barrier' seemed to be blocking the way.

Sometimes as we are praying for help with some situation that seem to have us bound and chained, physically, financially or emotionally, things look pretty bleak. But right there, right then, God sends His angel message of love and protection with encouragement to rise up and move forward with confidence. So far so good. But just as things seem to be going well, some barrier appears in the way. Something seems to be between us and healing.

That barrier has no authority or power to stop God's plan. We are just required to follow and obey the angel messages and God with do the rest. We trust in that. When we let ourselves worry over things we are not trusting.  That may be the lesson we need to learn.

I heard a story about a Bishop who had a sense of humor concerning himself. So he tells humorously of a time when he sat in his study worrying over many things. He relates that finally the Lord came to him and said, "You go to bed.  I'll sit up the rest of the night."

I love that gentle reminder to trust God.
He'll sit up the rest of the night whenever you need Him to.
That 'gate' will open of its own accord.