Grace is a long-ago friend who pushed me forward on my spiritual journey. At a mental lowpoint, with my life-prospects feeling awfully narrow, Grace insisted that I pray for myself for an hour each morning. Even better, she had me write down my prayer so that I could prove to her and to myself that I did it.
Life-changing. Life-saving. That discipline of daily, thorough prayer for myself, established through her encouragement, has served me well.
Shortly after, I lost track of Grace. I always wished we would meet up again so I could tell her what her help meant to me. As the decades passed, I contented myself to thank God for His grace and for His Grace. Then a week ago, thirty-one years later, we were at the same place at the same time. I finally got to thank Grace!
Is there someone who has made a contribution to your life that you long to thank?
The links in today's post will take you to other Thanksgiving blog messages around the web. I hope you will click on them and meet more inspired bloggers. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love,
I was surprised that our balloon had no sandbags attached to the side. I later learned that it is gas balloons, not hot air balloons, that use sandbags. And the removal of even a little bit of sand allows the balloon to rise.
I think the relation of sandbags to gas balloons provides a good metaphor for spiritual growth. Every handful of earth-weight (a material sense of persons and things) that we let go of, allows us to go higher and to experience true being as God knows it - resulting in steady ascension.
One of Mary Baker Eddy's pupils who was an editor of the Christian Science Journal, Annie Knott, once wrote:
Well dear one, you have no cause to doubt God's love for you and your child. And if He loves you He doeth all things that is (sic) for your good. But He does not destroy the work of His hands. You alone and all mortals are responsible for mortal conditions. They make them and they yield them up. Why do they give up what is so dear to them? Because they know not yet how to retain them as reality.
(From a letter to Annie Knott sent by her teacher, Mary Baker Eddy, on June 16, 1896. Knott typed a duplicate to the letter, to which she added and initialed the comment: "This I value more than any other. A.M.K."
The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, L04744):
In my experience, church and God’s abundant grace are linked. I am grateful to have learned early on that serving God through serving in church brings out good, good, and more good.
Paul said, “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). And I might add, “and if you want to find it, participate in your local church!” Real life, reflecting divine Life, or God, includes the substance of good in abundance and there is nothing like the opportunities to give and serve in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist to bring it out.
When I was 18 years old and living in Great Britain, I was desperately low on funds. With two weeks to go before returning to the US, I was down to my last £85... (To read the rest of this blog, find it here on Church Alive.) LINK IS NOW FIXED
Church is an idea that has been defined in many ways over the centuries within the Christian tradition. For Christian Scientists, church is much more than a place or a community. Church Alive is a web community that explores the spiritual basis and awakening impact of Church.
How do you know you are making progress when you are climbing a mountain? The trail may be full of twists and turns so that it isn't always easy to judge where you are by looking ahead or behind. Feet on a trail at the bottom of a mountain look just the same as feet on the trail at the top. So how do you know you are getting where you want to go and are not just walking in circles?
You can always check out the view.
The trail may get a lot of attention on a hiking trek to be sure one is stepping safely, firmly, and moving in a good direction. But for experienced hikers, the trail is rarely the focalpoint of the ascent. The real prize is in the view - the higher, farther, deeper look at the vastness and beauty of creation.
I twice hiked down from the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The first trip down, I must say, was all about my feet. After the initial thrill of hiking wore off, I wondered, "How many more steps will it take to get me where I am going?" We descended 10 miles down the Havasupi Trail to a camping ground near the Havasu Falls. Next, we hiked 20 miles round trip, passing Mooney and Beaver falls on our way out to, and back from, the Colorado River.
I wouldn't have traded for anything that moment of seeing the magnesium-filled turquoise water of the Havasu creek as it swirled into the muddy brown of the Colorado. And yet, although the scenery was breathtaking, I gave most of my attention to thinking about the effort it had taken to descend the Canyon and reach the river, as well as to the effort it would soon require of me to hike back out.
On the final day, making my way back up the Havasupai Trail, I ran into some serious trouble with my feet and legs. It seemed like they had had about enough. I wasn't sure how far I had come; I wasn't sure how far I had yet to go to reach the rim of the canyon; but I was pretty sure I was stuck right there on the trail, and that it would soon be getting dark.
Desperate and fearful, I started to pray. Then I was inspired to sing hymns to myself. I sang every hymn I could remember - hymns of comfort, hymns of praise, hymns recounting the divine presence, and strength, and beauty of God. Soon, I resumed the hike, moving along while quietly singing hymns.
Actually, the trail looked pretty much the same, and my feet and legs still felt the tremendous effort of the climb, but I no longer looked ahead or behind me to determine my progress. I also stopped consulting my legs and feet to see how they were doing. Instead, I looked around me for evidence of the beauty and power and strength of God and His creation that were described in the hymns I sang.
And as I did, the scene began to change. Now, I could see my progress. I saw treetops instead of trunks, and instead of looking up the canyon walls to judge the distance yet to go, I looked out into the canyon. I knew I was progressing by my gratitude for the view.
Now, unafraid that I couldn't or wouldn't finish the climb, I spent the rest of the hike watching God's glorious might and majesty reveal itself to me at every turn, until I finally reached the top of the trail as the sun was beginning to set.
Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who discovered Christian Science, wrote, "The footsteps of thought, as they pass from the sensual side of existence to the reality and Soul of all things, are slow, portending a long night to the traveller; but the guardians of the gloom are the angels of His presence, that impart grandeur to the intellectual wrestling and collisions with old-time faiths, as we drift into more spiritual latitudes." (The People's Idea of God - It's Effect on Health and Christianity, 1)
If you ever find yourself praying, and wondering if your prayers are getting you anywhere, it can help to pause to look away from the problem, to look out for the spiritual evidence of what God, divine Good, is doing right where you are.
Measuring progress by these spiritual views may not shorten the trail, and every step of effort will likely still be yours to make, but you will not be fooled into believing you are stuck, or possibly moving backwards. Divine Good is revealing itself in all its glory at every step and graciously moving you forward.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
For those who are in northern California, I will give my lecture "Finding God, Finding Health" this afternoon, at 4pm PT in Pacifica. I will be back to blogging next week, but in the meantime lots of interesting ideas are percolating to share.
Here is the November 8, 2012, Daily Lift, entitled "Dump the Guilt", in case you missed it. The Daily Lift is a podcast series featuring the inspiration of members of the worldwide Christian Science Board of Lectureship team. Every Lift is "the best Lift I have ever heard." If you are up for a two-minute inspiration and thought-boost, do give the Lift a regular listen. New Lifts are posted five days a week. You can even subscribe to have each new Lift delivered to your email inbox.
Happy weekend to all!
What grandmother isn’t delighted to help care for her newborn grandson? When my daughter asked me to help her with her new baby, I was a delighted grandmother! I had visions of holding the little one in a rocking chair, singing lullabies, putting him over my shoulder and patting him on the back.
There was just one wrinkle in this happy scenario. When I arrived at my daughter’s home, I was greeted by a very large, very black dog. And, as I soon discovered, a very ill dog.
My daughter and I hugged each other and she introduced me to Eli, an adorable, plump little boy, and to her dog, Pneuma, a not so adorable, skinny dog.
Very soon I had many opportunities to rock Eli in the rocking chair, pat him on the back, and change his diapers. It was fun! … but then there was that dog.
Since my daughter and son-in-law were taking some college courses during the day, it was up to me to care for baby and dog while they were away.
Pnuema refused to eat. He also, I discovered, tended to spit up on the floor from time to time. I had not bargained for dog clean-up duty. So I just covered those spit-up places with paper towels for my son-in-law to deal with when he got home.
I tried to get Pneuma to eat by putting some candy in his dog food. Maybe a little sweet taste would tempt him. Not so much. He walked away from his food dish.
Then I woke up. I realized that the trouble was not in the dog. It was in me. Instead of loving the dog, I was resenting him. I had been deceptive, trying to trick him into eating. I had selfishly left the clean-up duty to my son-in-law. And I was leaving this loved pet out of my prayers. This had to change! I vowed to embrace him in my daily spiritual study and prayer, and I began changing my attitude.
While I rocked the baby, I patted Pneuma on the head and my compassion for him deepened. I filled his dog dish with his favorite food and left it up to him to eat or not. And, I cleaned up after him, much to my son-in-law’s relief.
As I opened my spiritual guide-book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, I remembered it had something to say about the Bible term wind (pneuma in Greek). It is defined, in part, as that which indicates “the movements of God’s spiritual government, encompassing all things.” (p. 597).
It was a nice, sunny, breezy day so I grabbed a blanket, Pneuma, and the baby, and went outside to sit under a tree. I wanted to feel the gentle breeze and to ponder the spiritual meaning of wind (pneuma). I thought, God’s government surely is harmonious, orderly and just. It is perpetual and uninterrupted. It embraces each of us, governs all of us. I thought of Pneuma the dog as God’s perfect, spiritual creation, completely in His control. I felt a wave of assurance that all was well.
The next morning, when I came downstairs, Pneuma was standing in front of the dining room window, the sunlight filling the room. He looked like one of those scrawny, dying cows that one sees in photos of drought or famine. I thought: “Humph, that’s just a picture of death. It is not dog!”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus taught his disciples to heal with “Yes” and “No” thoughts – that is affirmations of God’s true creation, and firm and forthright denials of what has nothing to do with God’s good creative work (see Matthew 5:33-36). My prayers did just that. I recognized and affirmed the perfection of Pneuma as under the perfect control of God, and I saw perfectly clearly that disease had no part of God’s idea of a dog.
Pneuma began to eat that very day. He quit spitting up and quickly returned to normal health.
God loves every part of His spiritual creation. And when we reflect the love of the divine Love that is God, we become witnesses to pneuma, to the powerful healing government of God, that leaves no one and nothing out.
Meet Jessi! She is the high school junior daughter of one of my longest-enduring friends. In her blog bio, she describes herself as working to keep her relationship with Jesus strong by worshiping and ushering at her local church, attending and teaching Sunday school and youth groups, going on various summer camps and mission trips, singing in a Youth Choir, wearing her Jesus t-shirts, and a bajillion other things.
Jessi just posted a blog at Day4ministries.com - a self-described group of young people with a passion for Jesus and a God-sized vision to change the world. They produce Christian media for the Internet. I am reposting the intro to her message here, and hope you will click through to read the full post. She is a spiritual thinker with a deep love for God, and for Jesus. Her message packs a healing punch. Go, go, Jessi!
Halloween is one of the best times of the year. You can become anyone you choose — a princess, a firefighter, a robot, anyone! By putting on a costume, you are instantly transformed into someone else, usually someone you view as bigger and better than yourself. So many people go through life this way. By putting on a mask, they hope to put on the appearance of being someone who they feel is greater than who they truly are. By putting on a masked smile, they try to hide who they are.
But the Bible tells us over and over that no one needs to do this. God says how He sees our true selves, that He knows what’s under our masks.
In 1 Samuel 16:7, God told Samuel to “not look at his appearance or his stature… Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” Then, in Luke 12, Jesus told the disciples to
be careful of the Pharisees with their religious masks, for “There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known.”
The amazing thing is that while He sees what’s behind our costume, HE STILL LOVES US... (Read the rest of the post at day4ministries.com.)
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