_ How we answer that question is important. It can have significant consequences.
Christ Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:10-32) provides a useful example of this very lesson. The story focuses on a son who felt that he was his own man and completely able to deal with life on his terms. Longing to be on his own, he requested, received, and squandered his inheritance. He had quite a time of it, and subsequently made quite a mess of things.
But… and it’s an important but… the Bible tells us "he came to himself”. This is one of my favorite lines in the story!
Our house was completely overrun with fleas one year. I tried everything I could think of to handle the problem. Sprays, bombs, powders, baths, liquid products, collars, and finally a professional exterminator... nothing helped. Funny thing was, neither the dog nor the cats seemed too bothered. It was my family that was being bitten.
I struggled for months trying different approaches to eliminate the problem, only to have the situation worsen. Then it occurred to me that I had tried everything except prayer to solve this problem. I turned to the Bible to find some direction for my prayer and came across an interesting story. It involved a snake infestation.
___Yesterday's post with the poem on being a transparency for God's light reminds me of something Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her autobiography Retrospection and Introspection. "Man shines by borrowed light. He reflects God as his Mind, and this reflection is substance, — the substance of good." (p. 57)
Light is one of those things we experience more than see or touch. We experience the effect of light all around when objects are illuminated or temperatures are influenced. Metaphysically, spiritual substance is the effect or reflection of divine Light, God. It is manifest in all that is good and permanent, but is never limited in matter.
In the Bible, Paul links hope with substance when he speaks of faith. He said, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) Paul enlarges the sense of substance from something material to an understanding and expectation of something better, something unlimited and sourced in Spirit, God. To Paul, faith, hope and substance are tangible and spiritual. They manifest the Christ, the God-power and God-presence flowing from spiritual understanding. Substance, like faith and hope, is revealed by Christ through a spiritual sense that recognizes spiritual good.
_ I am the spot where God shines through,
For God and I are one, not two.
I need not fear, nor fret, nor plan.
He wants me where and as I am.
If I’ll but be relaxed and free,
He’ll work His plan through me.
Author Unknown (Can anyone tell me who the author is?)
Ma vie est lumineuse ce jour,
Car Dieu et moi sommes un, c’est sûr.
Nulles peur, inutile hâte, ni plans,
Je suis libre dans Son dessein.
Si je reste ferme et confiant,
Son œuvre en moi est pure, vivante.
Auteur inconnu (Traduction libre)
_I didn’t think so much about that when I was growing up. In fact, I remember very clearly walking down the hall of my college dorm and saying to myself, “ It doesn’t matter what I think because no one knows my thoughts but me!" I was probably thinking something I wouldn’t have wanted written on my forehead for everyone to read.
Some years later, I found out how important inner thoughts are. It had to do with headaches. I had never experienced a headache, until one morning I felt intense head pain. My first thought was to try to find relief by getting into a tub of warm water – my usual comfort spot whenever I was troubled about anything. I sat there with tears running down my face because I found no relief.
_Choices. We make them all the time. From deciding to wear a shirt color that brings in the compliments, to choosing to leave for work early enough to avoid morning traffic - our decisions impact outcomes everyday.
Of course, choice-fatigue can lead to an "I don't care" attitude that disengages from making decisions. This can run the spectrum between avoidance of choice - "You decide for me" - to making a fixed and final choice that shuts down any growth or thinking on the subject - "I will decide once and for all so I don't have to think about it ever again."
But there are certain subjects that naturally require constant engaging and thinking and choosing and growing. I believe that our relationship with and reliance on God to meet our human needs is one of them.
My friend Lisa, visiting from Arizona
_ That is the literal meaning of action(s) de grâce, or thanksgiving. Sometimes written with an s and sometimes without, the word action can refer to doing or to something accomplished or already done. In French the word grâce signifies favor, pardon, redemption, divine help, or prayer.
Thanksgiving Day in the United States commemorates the courage, fortitude and blessings bestowed on those who came before us in the early days of American history. The first Thanksgiving Day marked a new beginning for them. It can also signify a new beginning for us.
While Thanksgiving gives a special opportunity to focus on the good we have received - divine favor, pardon, redemption and help, it also encourages us to engage in doing even more good in the world through our prayers.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Turkey and pumpkin pie, parades, church, football, family, feeding the homeless, Black Friday... Thanksgiving represents different things to different people. And I love it all.
Away from home this year, I will be a guest at another family's holiday table. I have been asked to come with no dessert in hand because they have so much already. So I have been thinking about what I have to contribute to the festivities.
I have decided to bring some things from my garden.
One of my favorite hymns begins with the thought, "A grateful heart a garden is, where there is always room for every lovely Godlike grace to come to perfect bloom." (Christian Science Hymnal, 3)
It started out as usual, - lovely turkey and trimmings, and far-flung family sitting around the well-laid table enjoying their first and second courses. Then, during dessert came a snide remark. A glass of water was tossed in someone's face. And suddenly one in-law had her hands around the throat of another in an attempted stangulation. I screamed, "Stop!" and watched as half of our guests slipped guiltily away from the table, retreating to the familyroom to hide from my wrath for the rest of the evening.
I lost my voice that night - from shock and fury - and it took a full week to get it back. But I learned some things from that dinner that have changed the family dynamics ever since.
_A blog reader asked, "How does someone move forward, or set goals to achieve something, while allowing life to unfold according to God's direction? I have often found myself doing nothing, because I am waiting to let God do His work."
With her sweet story-telling and clear metaphysics, guest blogger Kay Olson, CSB illustrates that pausing AND moving forward are both important aspects of achieving our goals!
It was just a little problem. But I figured if God really is a “very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46), He is where I am and helps in matters large and small! The problem? My young son couldn’t find his new shoes. I had asked all the children to bring their shoes to the kitchen for polishing in readiness for Sunday School the next day. Where could those shoes be? We decided to look everywhere in the house, but no shoes. It was a sunny Saturday, so I sent him outside where he had been playing barefooted. He came back empty-handed.
_ If someone were to ask me, “What one word in the Bible is particularly special to you?" I would have to say, "Behold!”
I took special note of that word on the Monday of what was lining up to be a crazy busy week. Reading that week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson I noticed the word “behold” appeared many times. I couldn’t miss it. I couldn’t ignore it either. It caught my attention to the point that I was impelled to stop and consider its meaning in relation to the tasks at hand.
_ It's not a random little word. Like a period is not a random little dot. Without punctuation at the end, a series of words is considered a fragment, not a sentence. So what is prayer without an amen?
I am not really talking about a single specific word here. I am discussing the concept of finding a solid and clear conclusion to a prayer. When there is no amen, prayers can tend to stay in "to be continued" mode - the "dot dot dot" (...) of doubt, insecurity, or a of flimsy, open-ended hope.
A Christian Science visiting nurse responded to a call for help late at night in what would be considered a high-risk neighborhood. She was nervous and afraid, so she began to pray. Her prayer helped her to understand that she always worked and moved in God, Mind - the divine Principle, Love - and thus was always safe. She saw that she was in what Christ Jesus called "the kingdom of God."
After the home visit, she returned to her car and found a large man sitting on the hood. She could approach the car without fear, because she understood that if she was in the kingdom of Love, than anyone she saw was in the kingdom, too.
He explained, "I knew that a car like that would not be here at this time of night unless the owner was doing good. I sat on your car to protect it."
_Great news! This blog is now adapted for wider distribution through the Christian Science Monitor. It appears on csmonitor.com November 18-20, 2011. You will be able to link to it in the archives after that.
Please find the links to spirituality.com articles that appeared in the original blog post.
yesterday's blog post
have been abused
indelible black mark
Sometimes you just have to put your foot down when you pray. At least that is what I learned when our Labrador puppy started showing the symptoms of detached retina and hip dysplasia - two conditions apparently associated with her breed and bloodline.
I was pretty overwhelmed at the prospects of life with a blind, crippled "horse" of a dog in my home. I wanted to pray about this - wanted to see it healed through prayer. But I was finding it difficult not to be pulled down into the problem.
So I did what I often do when I feel stuck. I went back to the basics and studied Jesus' approach to praying - The Lord's Prayer as recorded in Matthew's gospel.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures takes a line-by-line look at the underlying spiritual message of this prayer that emphasizes God's sovereign power over creation and our right and ability to pray with authority.
A blog reader asked that I tackle this question. "Desire is prayer," wrote Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. And I think that is a great way to look at the "what" of prayer. Praying assumes many forms and involves various techniques, but the underlying essence of all prayer is desire.
Obviously some desires are better than others, and we should watch what we pray for. But, when we let our desires be molded and lifted up by the Christ, the animating truth of God, Good, then prayer results in untold blessings that leave no one out. Lifting up our desires to God, and letting our desires be lifted up by the healing Christ brings us into a healthy conversation with the Divine.
_Moving from a 2000 square foot (186 m2) home in New Jersey, USA to a 700 square foot (65 m2) apartment in France wasn't so tricky. I left pretty much everything behind. And in doing so, I discovered that all those lovely appliances I thought I couldn't live without (which all had the wrong plugs anyway) could be replaced by a big spoon and a sharp knife.
Now, almost seven years later, I am dealing with all that stuff I apparently don't need as I empty my house to get it ready for sale.
Funny thing though. While logic says I don't need these things, I am having to deal with an emotional argument that says "I want them!"
But do I really? What is this tendency to hang on to stuff that no longer fits in one's life?
_A blog reader asked, What is spiritual sense? How do you know that you are seeing or feeling through spiritual sense and not through the distorted lens of the human material senses? Why is it so important to break out from material sense and how do you do it?
This post was revised (new content added) and published in the September 3rd, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. Click here to find the full article.
Jerry Seinfeld got a big laugh when he joked about a survey that found that the fear of public speaking ranks higher in most people's minds than the fear of death. "In other words," he deadpanned, "at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy."
According to surveys, fear of public speaking ranks among Americans' top dreads, surpassing fear of illness, fear of flying, fear of terrorism, and often the fear of death itself.
All I know is when I was first appointed to an international lecture board, I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. I, who ALWAYS have something to say, was struck dumb - and I had writer's block to boot.
A woman was taking a class and felt a strong attraction to her teacher. She was married, he was married - clearly the pull was inappropriate. Or was it?
Sensual thoughts were interfering with her attention in class. So on the second day she decided to confront the problem head on and told the teacher about it. He kindly responded by explaining that she could only be attracted to his integrity. She wasn't drawn to him, he explained. It was the good he expressed that she naturally wanted in her life.
His explanation that goodness alone was an influence or pull on her changed her interpretation of the feelings. It helped her see that desiring good wasn't wrong, but that she could only be satisfied by going to the Source of good.
It also changed her physical response. The uncomfortable desire and electric heat stopped immediately. Her thoughts toward the teacher normalized and the classroom experience continued without further disturbance.
Every morning, first thing, I pray for a word that will take me deeper and farther into an understanding of the infinite nature of God. One morning about a year and a half ago my word was "Incorporeal". Up until then, I hadn't given that word more than a cursory thought.
To me it meant, simply, "without a body" or "unlimited by a body". But this day I thought about the implications in my life of God as incorporeal. The thing with deep thinking about God - it tends takes you deeper into thinking about man made in God's image.
A woman stood at a scarf counter in an upscale department store waiting to get the attention of the sales clerk who was busy doing other things and completely ignoring her. Fuming, feeling invisible and neglected, she was about to react when the thought came to pause and pray.
Taking a deep breath, she thought, "I must be able to see at least one quality of God in this sales clerk before I speak."
So she prayed. And she listened for something, anything good about this clerk. Lots came to mind, but they were more faults than positive qualities derived from God, universal Good. And then she thought, "Wait a minute. She breathes, therefore she expresses Life!"
Little Brian Jay's mom used to read him a story every night before bedtime. It told of how all the stars in the sky are like God's eyes watching over his creation. Of course, this was intended to be a comforting idea. But one night, BJ's mom came to his room and discovered all the shades pulled down tight and the bed-covers pulled up high. When asked what was wrong, the young boy replied from deep in the dark, "I don't like all those eyes watching me!"
When I was six years old, this question popped up in my thought: “Would I be me if my mom and dad hadn’t had me?” An answer came, swift and unequivocal. “Yes”. I don’t remember that I thought about it much at the time, or that I told anyone about it. But I do remember that it made me feel good.
I grew up and kept busy with square dancing and voice lessons and 4-H projects. As busy and happy as I was, another question bounced around in my thought from time to time: “What is God?” I loved my church and Sunday school, yet as often as I asked, no clear answer came. I knew the Bible promise, “Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. 7:7) So, I sought and knocked and waited.
Fast forward to my college years. My roommate and I decided we would tackle the question "What is God," and keep at it until we found an answer. One night, we looked out the window into the starry night and thought. And thought. And thought. Finally, my roommate blurted out: “God is!” We stared at each other. OK. That had to satisfy for now.
A woman had lost her job and, being unable thus far to find another one, was in desperate financial straits. She received notices indicating that her utilities would be shut down, one-by-one, if she didn't pay her bills. Moments before the phone company was to cut off her telephone service, she called a Christian Science practitioner and asked for prayer. The practitioner just had time to tell her, "If what you need is an oil well in your front yard, it is already there. Love never leaves you without what you need." Then the line went dead...
What she said to the woman was inspired by something found in Mary Baker Eddy's book on Biblical law and its application to daily living, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494)
The practitioner then began to pray.
Her prayers couldn't change the law of God or produce something that wasn't already there. Prayer doesn't change what is, but it can help one to see what is really going on in the light of Christ - the perpetual message of spiritual and divine Good flowing from Love, God, to Her creation.
Love is like a mother who always has what you need in her purse before you know you need it. Prayer reminds us that Mother, Love is on the scene, and gives us a peek at the treasures in Her bag.
These treasures aren't material things. Love's treasures are abundant spiritual ideas that are liberally distributed to everyone in the form that meets the human need. Whether what is most essential is love, patience, hope, inspiration, strength, opportunity, grace, gratitude or any other quality - Mother's purse, the consciousness of divine Love, is full and overflowing with good.
Some hours passed.
During the day, the Christian Science practitioner prayed until she was completely certain that there was no cause for fear. Her prayer showed her that God's law of Love was operational in this woman's case. Then she heard back from the woman, who had a remarkable story to tell.
A short time after her phone service was cut, she thought about what the practitioner had told her - "Love never leaves you without what you need." She understood that she needed to stop focusing on what she didn't have and couldn't see (ie. money in her account). She needed to focus on what she did have and could see. She loved her home and was grateful to still have it. She started appreciating the good around her and expressing gratitude for it.
Then there was a knock at the door.
A truck was in her driveway and the driver, a local landscaper, said that he drove past her home every day on his way to and from a job. He explained that he had been searching for some weeks for a tree of a certain type and size to complete a project for a new home in the neighborhood, and he had been unable to find it in all the area nurseries.
Only today, on his way home from the work-site, he noticed that the perfect tree was sitting in her front yard! He asked if she would be willing to sell it to him. She agreed, and he gave her a check in an amount that would restore her phone service and pay another large bill.
She did have an oil well, right there, in her front yard. Prayer opens our eyes - and those of others, too - to an unrestricted supply of good that is always at hand.
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no