A January 1, 2014 study at the University of Scranton found that Americans’ top ten New Years resolutions were:
8 percent of the previous year’s resolutions were successfully achieved.
Those annual promises we make to ourselves are tricky devils. Often anchored in wish and will, 75 percent of New Year's resolutions barely make it past the first week. After that, the study shows a gradual, if not nearly complete, slide into the gutter.
My experience is that resolutions that focus on changing behavior patterns tend to fizzle over time, while goals that focus on discovering who we are spiritually generally result in permanent progress. Why is that? I think the key is in the resolution of the resolution.
Low resolution / high resolution aren’t just terms for the number of pixels in your tv (the dots that together form the picture on a screen). We might think of low-resolution goals as focusing on limitations and trying to change. Think self-improvement and you have got a good idea of low-resolution resolutions.
Low-resolution vows are deceptively self-centered. “I will change, fix, repair, correct, improve me.” Even when we think it is about someone else (for my kids, for my family)... Nope, it is pretty much still me, me, me.
Low-resolution goals, starting from “I’m not thin enough, smart enough, organized enough, disciplined enough, healthy enough, selfless enough, satisfied enough,” etc, are like a low-resolution screen - the picture we have of ourselves is blurry, unstable and tough to improve.
High-resolution goals are spiritual. They start with God (Life, Truth, Love, Spirit) and work out from that basis to discover your inherent spirituality and what it does for you. They bring out the finer points of spiritual being in a way that empowers you to express good in big and small ways. Change how you see yourself, upgrade the resolution, and you will get better results.
While low-resolution goals tend to gradually snuff out, high-resolution goals are strong from the start and increase in power over time. This is because of a spiritual law governing the unfoldment of a divine idea. This law promises sturdy growth, and undecaying success from meek beginnings.
When I say "meek", I am not talking about weakness and malleability. You don't have a weak little unmolded and undisciplined mind that needs to be pressed into better shape. Spiritual meekness is a strength we all have. Meekness gives shape to our lives and enables us to express our highest and best. It comes from our Maker and infuses us with resilient divine power through our unbreakable connection with Him. God's man (and woman) is divine Mind-conceived, not self-conceived. When we understand and identify ourselves as God creates and knows us (and this is the true sense of "meek beginning"), sturdy growth and undecaying success follow.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy has an almost endless list of high-resolution resolutions. Here are just a few to consider:
The most successful high-resolution resolutions come from a living, breathing, regular connection with God. Just like on the tv screen, a low-resolution (false) picture of you as an incomplete and limited mortal is generally disappointing. No amount of adjustment can permanently improve a picture that is limited by its initial resolution. But when your goal is to understand more of what God is and what He is doing in you as His spiritual and flawless creation, don’t be surprised when your strengths, abilities and the opportunities to express them come into crisp and sharp view.
School is such an exciting place to be. Stimulating opportunities meet up with energetic learners. To ensure that youthful energy and intelligence is always channeled in the most productive direction, it's helpful to identify the spirituality of children that reveals the uniqueness and completeness of each child.
No child is one of a series on an assembly line. Each one of God's ideas is the unique and infinite expression of the divine Mind that is God. Knowing this protects each child from stereotypes and anything else that would limit opportunities.
Mind manifests itself through intelligence, perspicacity, poise, reason, judgment, discernment, reflection, thoughtfulness, understanding, intellect, logic, conception, creativity, originality, wisdom, good sense, knowledge, prescience, intuition, receptivity and perception. Every child can discover and express in quality each of the attributes of Mind.
Mind's attributes are individualized in children - not parceled out in bits here and pieces there, but fully reflected in a unique fashion by each one. For this treasure store of potential, there are are no early birds or late-bloomers. At God's table, everyone is fully served, even while each ones experience at the table is unique and special.
But what if there seem to be problems with learning or behavior at school? Does this mean that potential is thwarted for that one? Can a child miss the boat entirely on fulfilling his or her particular purpose? Is the path to succeed just simply harder for some?
I have a helpful story. A young boy was having difficulty in school. It's not that he didn't want to do well; but every time he answered a question the wrong answer popped out. Frustrated, he asked parents for help. His father recognized right away that he was struggling with something Paul wrote about in Scripture, "The good that I would, I do not; but the evil that I would not, that I do." (Romans 7:15) The boy felt like he was trapped by this problem.
His mother diligently worked with him each morning to understand why children go to school - not to amass a pile of facts in one's head, but to cultivate the natural faculties of Mind. Before school she would discuss one or more of the faculties of perception, reason, memory, application and judgment, in a way he could understand. For example:
She discussed these and other ideas in varying degrees every morning before school for about two weeks. When the boy understood that God was the source of all that he needed to succeed, and that he had constant instant access to God, therefore to all the divine faculties, he had no more trouble in school. This kid ended up graduating from Harvard. (Story originally recounted in Destiny of The Mother Church, p.109, Bliss Knapp)
I particularly love the engagement of the mom with her child. She prayed for him, then she helped him to know himself and his relation to God better. Prayer does that for parents. Prayer isn't a passive "sit back and hope" approach to problems. It engages with spiritual solutions, good ideas that lead to practical steps and progressive conversation where it may be needed to encourage and protect children, and to promote their growth.
Winter/Christmas break is upon us and many parents and children may be breathing a sigh of relief that school is out. But these break times can also provide the needed space to rethink, to pray, and to gain ground on a fresh approach to our kids and school - all the good we can expect for and from our children.
This morning, my brother shared the sweetest story on Facebook. Being a blogger, I asked his permission to pass his experience on to you. It reminds me of the line from the hymn "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem":
Where Charity stands watching,
And Faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.
Merry Christmas and good morning earlybirds! I hope you are off to a warm and memorable start this day. And I hope you will forgive my reposting my favorite Christmas story from two years ago Christmas Eve this morning. It is a special memory for me and my wish for this day is that it makes you feel a little like it makes me feel when I am reminded of it…
My adult life until age 39 was a significant financial struggle. We always had a roof over our heads and never went hungry, but there was never anything left for extras. That changed a bit when I retired from the military and moved back to the Richmond – Chester, Virginia area for a position at a new power plant. But suffice it to say that Christmas was never fun for me those early adult years because of the burn it left in my wallet.
Oh, I loved giving gifts to the kids and watching them enjoy them. But financially it pained me. For several of those years I used to have to go find work on my annual vacations in order to make it through the rest of the year. One might say it was a "Bah Humbug" time of the year for me. But, again, that changed after I retired from the Army.
Success followed me during my years in Virginia and so I was able to support my family's needs better and give them better things. But I never forgot the tough times. Still haven't. After a few years as a supervisor at the power plant I was promoted to a management position and eventually became the Plant Manager towards the end of my working time there. It was hard, dedicated work and I made lots of family sacrifices, but the pay followed the responsibility and I was grateful for that as my oldest had started college and others were set to follow.
This sets the scene for my Christmas Eve sometime around 1995 or 1996. I had gone to work that day. It was a relatively short work day. On the way home I needed to stop at a grocery store. We had most of the fixings for the Christmas dinner the next day, but still needed a couple of small items. At the time there was a store - a Safeway I think - across from and just south of the DuPont plant on Route 1. It wasn't in the nicest of areas but it was on the way home.
So I took Jeff Davis highway home from the plant and pulled in there. While parking my car I observed a young man in his early-to-mid 20s and a young woman and a child about 3 or 4 years old in the parking lot. The young man was carrying a hammer, a flashlight, and a level - all worn and used. I watched him from the car a few minutes as he approached customers trying to sell his used tools.
I had parked far enough away to avoid them. Success can bring about a little coldness I suppose. It is my nature to avoid these folks. So I went in the store and bought my $20 or so worth of Christmas dinner items and left. On my way back to the car I crossed paths with these individuals and he canvassed me to purchase his tools. I still didn't trust him and turned him down but as I looked at him and the young woman and child he said something that touched my heart. He said, "I don't care what it takes, my wife and son are going to have a turkey dinner for Christmas." He was so embarrassed and beat down but very determined.
I continued to the car and drove to a different place in the lot. They didn't see this. I went back into the Safeway and bought a small turkey and the fixings and maybe even a pecan pie and a few extras. As I walked out to the parking lot, I found them and walked directly to them. I didn't say anything - just gave a warm smile. I just held out the bags of groceries and the turkey for them.
The young woman started crying and hugged me and the young man’s eyes lit up tearfully and he offered me the tools. I thanked him and declined his offer but wished them well.
I have often heard my oldest son quote the proverb about giving a man a fish vs. teaching a man to fish. He’s right of course. But on this day I was proud to give the man the fish (so to speak). It was clear that no matter what their situation was going to be the day after Christmas that I had provided some unexpected and very needed happiness for their Christmas day and during the process I had done so for myself too. I was on top of the world for the rest of the holidays that year as a result.
That was my very best Christmas ever because of what I had done. And I am thankful that decades later I can still reflect on it and share this experience with others like you. Merry Christmas to one and all! I hope these holidays bring all of you good health, continued success, and happiness! Pat Cathers
I drove past the apartment where, as a new bride, I put up my first Christmas tree and where our daughter was born. Such happy memories.
Then the car seemed to drive itself past the house where we celebrated baby's first Christmas. This house was the first place we had ever tried to buy. In the end, the deal didn't work out and, as I sat in my car across the street and admired their Christmas decorations, I remembered how heartsick I was to lose that house. Not such happy memories.
For some, returning home for the holidays brings up the best reminiscences. For others, it stirs up regret as long forgotten experiences surface. A few avoid going home altogether. Many brace themselves and push ahead. But there is a way to go home that can be healing, progressive and leave you in a better place afterward.
_In Mary Baker Eddy's autobiography, that recounts her life and spiritual journey including both happy and difficult memories of her own childhood and marriages, she described the material, human history "as a tale that is told," and "as the shadow when it declineth." (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 21)
At Christmastime, we may find ourselves chasing after those shadows, or running away from them, unless we take to heart the spiritual lessons to be learned from our personal experiences, and move on in the light and fullness of the present good of God.
Eddy explained, "The heavenly intent of earth's shadows is to chasten the affections, to rebuke human consciousness and turn it gladly from a material, false sense of life and happiness, to spiritual joy and true estimate of being."
But the question naturally arises, how do we do it? How can we effectively let a material, false sense go and reclaim for ourselves spiritual joy and a true estimate of our lives?
_Here is a short list of tips that may offer help.
It isn't always easy to go home, but it can be healing, to the extent that we are open to the spiritual lessons of divine Love waiting for us. Eddy wrote, understanding the difficulties, "The awakening from a false sense of life, substance, and mind in matter, is as yet imperfect; but for those lucid and enduring lessons of Love which tend to this result, I bless God." (ibid.)
Any experience can be a push off point to renew our love and love more - to experience afresh God's love. As John said, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear." (I John 4:18)
Let God's love lead you home this Christmas and take care of you while you are there.
All of us - teachers, parents, family members, neighbors - are witnesses to the spirituality of those around us. You may be the first one that someone encounters with a pure clear spiritual insight into who that person really is as a child of God. You are here on earth as a witness.
It's the most lovely thing to be able to do - to witness to spiritual reality. The best way we help others as a witness, is through the purification of our own thought through our own prayers. It really does start with us. The outlook that we have of man, humanity, children, earth, leaves an impression and carries weight in the mental environment. When we walk out of our homes and into the school, the workplace, the community, we aren't victims of the thoughts and views of those around us. We take the weight of our own daily prayer with us - and when I say weight, I don't mean burden, I mean power, spiritual power.
Divine power proceeds you as you go about your day. Hold onto and carry with you the clearest discernment of God's perfect manifestation that you can find in your prayer. That will pierce through any black cloud that tries to surround and choke out the divine potential of any child, neighbor, colleague, brother, sister, mother, or father that you may encounter.
Isaiah recorded something very special about you as a witness.
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from east and west.
I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.
Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.’
But you are my witnesses, O Israel! says the Lord.
You are my servant.
You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
and understand that I alone am God.
There is no other God--
there never has been, and there never will be.
I, yes I, am the Lord,
and there is no other Savior.
From eternity to eternity I am God.
No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
No one can undo what I have done.
(NLT Isa. 43:1-3, 5-7, 10, 11, 13)
"Unending life within your reach" is available online for the next three months in two formats.
Www.sciencechretiennegeneve.ch has an audio version in both French and English.
Www.eleventhlondon.com has a video recording available in English.
As with any live event, you will find many similarities and some differences between them.
Are you afraid that something you did or that happened to you in the past is producing problems for you now? Are you worried about how this will affect your future? While the offense may seem out of reach in time and space, the divine Spirit that is God doesn’t leave you helpless. Spirit, through His healing Christ, can reach beyond the offending fear that pins you as a victim of circumstance and wake you up to your present spiritual being, free from trouble.
In a paragraph entitled "Scientific Obstetrics" in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “A spiritual idea has not a single element of error, and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive.” (463)
What does it mean to be spiritual? A good definition can be found in Paul’s letter to the Galations. “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (5:22,23)
The Living Bible explains it this way: “…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!"
To identify ourselves and others as the spiritual idea of divine Spirit is to discover in us these fruits - what we are really made of. Spirit’s creation has never fallen or been tossed from perfection in Spirit to imperfection in matter. Imperfection isn’t a factor for a spiritual idea of God – it is no part of the divine equation. It is the role of the Christ to make us continually aware of this truth. With this awareness comes the proper removal of whatever is offending us – whether it is a fear or appears to be a condition with a history. We call this Christ-healing.
My daughter was a baby when she fell ill with aggressive and dangerous physical symptoms. The graveness of her condition and the immediate need for healing forced me to examine my thoughts and fears more deeply than I ever had before. As I prayed for her, I realized that I had suffered for a long time (too long) from a fear that my happiness was being controlled and limited by someone who hated me. I had accepted this hatred as a perpetual plague on my house and in many ways nurtured it through my own negative reaction. My fixation on an evil cause wasn’t helping me. At a moment when I was extremely angry and reactive, my daughter suddenly fell ill.
The wake-up for me came when I realized in prayer that neither I nor my daughter could be forced from spirituality with all the health and happiness that it included. To a spiritual idea all is spiritual and there is no evil – that which in Christian Science is often called “error” – to contend with. I recognized that it wasn’t enough for me to know this as some personal truth. To be classified as true it must extend out and embrace all parts of my experience, including the enemy I had accepted as my problem.
Interestingly, it wasn’t that I thought I shouldn’t hate her anymore, as if I had fallen into a pit and had to force myself out; I realized I couldn’t hate her anymore. The moment that I identified myself as Spirit’s own, I could only feel and express the fruits of the Spirit. I could suddenly only know this person as God knew her and me – as spiritual, never tossed through material circumstances that could produce hatred and reaction. I saw her as continually, uninterruptedly blessed. I saw me as blessed. I saw my daughter as blessed. The baby was healed instantly on the spot; and the evil influence of hatred on our family stopped cold.
That is how the Christ heals. God's message of light and love and holy power reveals each one of us as presently and permanently blessed. These kinds of experiences are revelatory. They become landmarks of spiritual growth.
The fact is, we have never fallen or been pushed from spirituality to materiality. Not a single one of us goes from being spiritual to material only to then have to struggle to become spiritual again. We are spiritually formed and brought forth and the Holy Spirit maintains us right at this point. God’s law is that a spiritual idea has not a single element of error. And as the Psalmist declares, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (119:165)
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The lecture season is cranking up for me. If you will be in the Greater London area Monday night, or if you have friends in the area, please consider this open invitation to one and all to attend my one hour lecture entitled 'Unending life within your reach."
The lecture introduces a Christian Science perspective of life before birth, the human experience and immortality, to the public. It discusses how it is possible for us to live without fear of deterioration, aging, disease and death.
It also addresses common questions about Christian Science and its contemporary practice.
Venue: Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London Date: 15th December 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
This free event is sponsored by Eleventh Church of Christ, Scientist, London, UK.
Through clear views of God and man, prayer can provide powerful glimpses of spiritual reality. God creates us to witness, not to recreate, what is spiritually true. Taking good care of ourselves through prayer involves witnessing to, and watching for, our true and real God-made being. Dropping the false sense of man as a personal creator, guilt, burden and the false responsibility that goes along with it falls away, too. Prayer that leans on God’s law to reveal and enforce itself shows the true creation as perfectly formed and maintained.
The Psalmist said, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14) There is a lot packed into that simple verse. What does it mean to be fearfully and wonderfully made? Well, God’s Word translation puts it like this: “I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.”
What a powerful affirmation. I like to put it this way, “I thank you, God, for giving me a full awareness of your goodness, of what You have already done and what you are doing in me and in mankind now. Your work is amazing – the maximum of good – miraculous perhaps to a limited, human sense but perfectly natural and clear to me. I yield all my awareness to You and to your divine reality.”
Christian Science brings sharp definition to being. Its explanations make a distinct separation between a mortal, limited sense of creation as impaired and struggling and the real state of man as safe, secure, healthy and good. Under the marginal heading of “Spiritual origin” Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 63)
Right there, you’ve got the divine law of Life. God is creating, protecting and maintaining each one of us, holding us secure and loved in life. Don’t allow any brutish mortal sense to bully you into being afraid for your life, or for the life of others. We can drop impairing and false fears.
As your prayer lifts you to view what God is doing right now for you and for all of His creation, you will witness more and more that God is Good and only good – not just good-sided, but divine Good itself, in all its substance and glory. And you will know and see yourself and those around you as you really are - amazing and wonderful – and that right well.
An audio version of today's post is also available to stream or download:
I don’t think my home was ever as beautiful. Peace had descended. All was calm. My family was tucked into bed. With fragrant candles burning and a warm fire crackling, I cuddled up in an armchair in front of our Christmas tree and drank in the scene.
I was grateful for the peace and calm, but I wasn’t feeling comfortable or settled. Far from it. The parents of a sick young boy had called that evening to ask for Christian Science treatment for him. I had been searching all evening in my prayers for that sweet assurance that comes when one knows all is well, but hadn’t yet felt it.
The Christmas season and the pre-holiday preparations had always meant a great deal to me. In fact, I loved to recreate a storybook Christmas in our home, full of sweetness and delight of sight and sound. But as I prayed for the child, I could feel something shifting in thought...
The rest of this story is available to read online. It is published in the December issue of The Christian Science Journal, and is available for sale now in Christian Science Reading Rooms worldwide.
These are the 18 days of availability online of my lecture: "Christian Science: What it is and How it works". This new lecture, which takes on the questions that skeptics ask, was debuted in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, on November 9, 2014.
We had a knock-out crowd for an engaging subject. Have a listen, share with a friend. The lecture is still being supported by the members' prayers until it goes offline on December 18.
When you do listen, and if you are so led, you can let the Chagrin Falls Christian Science Church know of your appreciation via their contact page.
Just follow this link to their website page devoted to the lecture.
Pack your bags and head to Geneva, Switzerland
for a lecture this Thursday, December 4, 2014, titled
"Unending life within your reach"
by Michelle Nanouche, CSB
8:30 pm at The Ramada Encore Hotel
La Praille Shopping Center
10-12 Route des Jeunes
Tram 15 from the station
TPG buses: 4,21,22,42,43
Free hotel parking
Sponsored by First Church of Christ, Scientist, Geneva
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