Thursday, April 25, 2013
(By: John Robert Howell)
The Kingdom of Heaven is ever-present. As our great Master taught: "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20 21) Hence, it is always available to be experienced.
Then why doesn't it seem more evident? Because it is not appreciable to sick and sinful mortal thought. Then how does one perceive and gain the Kingdom of Heaven? Two of Christ Jesus' parables in particular, juxtaposed in Matthew 13:44-46, answer that question: the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price.
It is perhaps worth noting that the man who stumbles on the treasure in the field does not simply sneak off with it, but re-burys (the King James Version says hides) it. Then he sells all that he has and buys the field. No doubt many men and women desire the Kingdom of Heaven, but only if they can get it on the cheap. It apparently is not worth to them "all that they have".
What does it mean to sell all that one has and buy it, since it is certain the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be bought with money? Here J. R. Dummelow's Commentary is most helpful. "Their teaching [those two parables] is that it is not enough to be outwardly a Christian or under Christian influences. The true Christian must be inwardly convinced that his religion is the most precious of all things. To buy the field the man sells all that he has, i.e. gives up all that can hinder him in his quest. To buy the pearl of great price the merchant 'selleth all that he hath', i.e. gives up every sin or self-indulgence which hinders him from giving himself wholeheartedly to Christ."
And two statements by Mary Baker Eddy from her Miscellaneous Writings have been helpful to me to ponder: "Christian Science may be sold in the shambles. Many are bidding for it, -- but are not willing to pay the price." (page 269:225-26
"Seek Truth, and pursue it. It should cost you something: you are willing to pay for error and receive nothing in return; but if you pay the price of Truth, you shall receive all." (page 342:24-27)
Posted by Poet at 6:14 AM
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Compassion is a beautiful
Thing to see in operation,
And how I love to see
This facet of Love divine
Alive and well in those who feel
For God's little (and big) creatures;
Those dear souls who,
Though they may know it not,
Have a poet's feelings for wildlife --
Especially dogs and cats
Surviving on their own,
Who cannot tell us,
"I'm starving, I'm suffering,
Help me, please!"
I say to you who do what you can
To help animals unable to ask
For help for themselves,
God bless you everyone,
Wherever in this world
You happen to be.
It must surely please
The loving Creator of all
That there are among us
Awakened hearts such as yours!
Posted by Poet at 5:20 AM
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Following on with comments on a point I made in my previous posting, that we need God's guidance to stay safe in today's world, these words from the Bible seem relevant: "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."*
I've been thinking about this of late, and am finding it helpful in everyday life. Now, there are some reading this who may well say, "I don't need God's help. I can get along on my own, thank you very much." I realize high achieving individuals good at multi-tasking feel they can take care of themselves without any outside aid. However, anyone who thinks deeply about this subject must admit that God can see things we cannot, can direct us in what to do and what not to do; where to go and where not to go.
Isn't a sense of humililty required of us? I certainly feel it is. And for those of us who accept Christ Jesus as our Way-shower back to God, his example of relying on his Father and our Father for all he did is indispensable. Someone once said to me that the epitome of humility is found in these words of Jesus: "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."**
So, admit that as independent as you may consider yourself, you can do so much better with God's guidance in your life.
Posted by Poet at 10:39 AM
In my last blog posting I wrote about the need to go about our day-to-day conscious that God is with us. How the teachings of Christian Science has helped me feel safe will be helpful to readers, and I'm happy to share it.
Whether or not we live and work in metropolitan areas, we need to feel physically secure. And there is something we can do to feel, and to be, safe. We can understand what really constitutes individual safety. It is vital to our peace of mind and freedom of action to know that we are never apart from God, the almighty Father.
The first verse of the 91st Psalm sets forth a solid basis for security in these comforting words: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." I love that image of having a spiritually secure "secret place" right in God's shadow. And an understanding of man's spiritual selfhood, a recognition of our unity with God, man's loving Father, enables us to find that "secret place" and dwell in it.
Christian Science shows us that the real man is spiritual, not material--not bound by circumstances or at the mercy of human events. God's child--our genuine idenity--is blessed with unceasing support and guidance. He exists at the standoint of perfect peace, uninvadable harmony. And man is never, not even for one moment, deprived of his Father's loving care, never out of "the secret place" of spiritual security. But to make these spiritual facts practical, we have to claim this divine sonship and express its implications in Christian living.
Christ Jesus' conviction of being inseparable from his Father empowered him to demonstrate his dominion over evil. This is indicated by Jesus' words, recorded in John's Gospel: "He that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone." And as we follow his example to the best of our ability, we, too, can rely on God's powerful protection. Jesus showed beyond a doubt that the Father never leaves us alone or unprotected; He keeps us continuously secure in His omnipotent care.
This isn't to suggest that we can blithely go about our daily activities unmindful of circumstances that would threaten our safety. We need to obey God's guidance in every aspect of our lives if we're to take the right steps to avoid danger in the first place. Staying safe in today's world involves listening for God's directing right through the day.
And in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, assures us: "The history of Christianity furnishes sublime proofs of the supporting influence and protecting power bestowed on man by his heavenly Father, omnipotent Mind, who gives man faith and understanding whereby to defend himself, not only from temptation, but from bodily suffering."
Included in this understanding is the reassuring fact that as offspring of the all-wise, all-directing, and all-seeing divine Mind, you and I continuously respond to God's unerring direction. We therefore have the wisdom and judgment necessary to stay out of harm's way. As we abide in God, divine Love, we have the constant support of the Father throughout our daily activities. Claiming thiat God-given dominion enables us to fulfill our responsibilities in confidence, freedom fearlessness.
This practical understanding of man's unity with God is available to anyone. And prayer empowers each of us to conduct his or her life without inhibiting fear and uncertainty. Through prayer and Christlike living, we gain the wonderful assurance of being safe--wherever we are.
Posted by Poet at 5:09 AM
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Having lived and worked in Boston, Massachusetts for over 20 years and having loved the city (we still do), can't help thinking especially much about the events of Monday. How I would like to visit each one who was injured in the cruel bombings and hold their hand. Simply hold their hand, and pour out love to them. People all over the world, I know, are doing just this mentally, in their thoughts and prayers right now.
In light of their being individuals in the world who wish others harm and are willing to act upon their evil motives, it seems to me more important than ever that we establish a sense of God's presence and direction before setting out these days.
A friend sent me a bookmark several years ago with these words on it: "God is with you, in everything you do." It's from the Bible, Genesis 21:22 and it's something I try to keep in mind when I go out on errands or whatever. It's comforting to realize that our loving, heavenly Father is never apart from us, that His care does surround; His loving arms are around all those we love, beside them always, above--not only those we greet, but those we may never meet.
Just maybe these thoughts will bring comfort and peace of mind to someone reading this blog.
Posted by Poet at 1:32 PM
Friday, April 12, 2013
While talking to a friend in Wisconsin this week who shares my love of flower gardening and hearing her say, "Our flowers are still under lots of snow", couldn't help contrasting that with what we have here in the South, USA. Pansies, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, petunias, dogwood and redbud all in glorious bloom. -- a sight to behold.
Then, moving my thinking to a more serious level I thought, wouldn't it be nice if this Christian life we're living were all strolls through beautiful flowers with blue skies, sunshine and a spring breeze. But life can't be all ease, as any of us knows who has named the Name of Christ.
Our Master never even hinted it's be a walk in the park. In fact, Jesus left no doubt just what could lie ahead in these words to those God-called men he led: "...Whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." (John 16:2) Don't think it needs to be put plainer than this for most of us who love Christ unconditionally.
But making every effort to live in accord with God's commands will always bring one through. And conversely, not doing this, disobeying the One we are taught to adore is sooner or laster to cost us so much more.
But this less challenging path is not for you or me. We intend to continue on through sunshine and and storm, assured that with Christ we will prevail. And think of all the inspiring examples of those who have gone before us, who endured incredible at times rather than be remiss in their duty to God and to mankind. The carnal mind's hatred of anyone who loves God's holy child was not able to hold them back.
In the company of those illustrious souls is certainly the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. This was a woman who loved Christ more than the world itself, and I love what Mary Baker Eddy has to say along these lines: "Admiral Coligny, in the time of the French Huguenots, was converted to Protestantism through a stray copy of the Scriptures that fell into his hands. He replied to his wife, who urged him to come out and confess his faith, 'It is wise to count the cost of becoming a true Christian.' She answsered him, 'It is wiser to count the cost of not becoming a true Christian.' So, whatever we meet that is hard in the Christian warfare we must count as nothing, and must think instead, of our poverty and helplessness without this understanding, and count ourselves always debtors to Christ, Truth." (From her Miscellaneous Writings.)
Posted by Poet at 6:56 AM
(For someone to Christ and Christian Science brand new)
This potentially life-changing
Thing I'm going to say,
While you may never have
Been told such a thing,
The title of this poem
Should make your heart sing.
"Oh, that couldn't apply to me.
It sounds too good to be true."
Oh no it isn't, not at all.
God specifically needs you.
There is so much good
That needs to be done.
And many worthwhile deeds
Can be by you--just one.
Since I don't know
Where this poem will go,
Let me say again, my friend...
God not only loves you so.
He has need of YOU.
Posted by Poet at 4:16 AM
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Feeling worn down by too much to do?
Consider Christ Jesus' words in John 14:l0 -
"The Father that dwelleth in me,
He doeth the works."
Sublime words, these, and true.
Humility and reliance on his Father
Shines through all that Jesus said.
Looking to God for energy and action
As our blessed Master did,
Does wonders for our stamina,
And keeps joy and enthusiasm
Going in the process!
Posted by Poet at 9:50 AM
Saturday, April 6, 2013
We run into trouble,
you and I, when priorities are askew;
when thought is fixed on worldly things,
and not on "Let me do what pleases You."
So, let us turn to God and pray,
when foot first touches floor,
"May this day ahead be lived
with your will its guide and core."
See discord and confusion flee
and the same for discontent,
when putting our Father's wishes first
becomes our sole intent.
Posted by Poet at 3:25 AM
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
I do so, and so do countless others, from a desire to follow Christ Jesus in demonstrating God's allness and man's relation to Him. We do this with eyes wide open, yearning to prove God's absolute control over our entire being. Like our Master, we choose to take a spiritually enlightened approach to solving all problems.
To wholehearted followers of Christ, whether they face fear, lack, family inharmony, or downright aggressive bodily pain, the remedy is always the same. Turn to God and rely on Him, as Jesus did.
Not all healings come quickly, of course. One may have been taking his problems to God with no apparent results for some time, and perhaps he may feel he has been long-suffering long enough. But he should still turn and never stop turning to all-powerful, always-operating Truth. Salvation from an erroneous sense of existence must come through Christ, Truth. And it does come, as one continues reaching out to Mind for a clearer recognition of divine reality.
What about the individual who isn't inclined to seek divine aid when troubles arise? God simply does not seem real or close to him, so turning to Him for answers to life's challenges is not readily done. Sometimes people will admit to never having even once felt God's love or power. I've heard people say this more than once. Happily, a feeling of separation from one's divine source can be overcome. And it should be, since nothing can come close to comparing with the heaven of experiencing God's immediateness.
What can you and I do in order not to feel apart from God? We can pray with all our hearts. We can actually ask our Father to help us embody those states of thoughts that make us more alive to His loving ever-presence.
Jesus pointed out one indispensable quality in these words: "Except ye be converted, and become as little childlren, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)
Childlikeness, with its innocence, trust, obedience, receptivity to good, is worthy of our most serious cultivation. It points to our true relation to God and ensures an ever clearer sense of His love and power and care. And since innocence and obedience belong to man's God-bestowed spiritual nature, there isn't anyone who can't learn and use these spiritual qualities.
We cannot possibly express too much true childlikeness toward our heavenly Father. Nor can we praise and thank Him too much. Our creator is due all the reverence, adoration, and gratitude His children can give Him. Jesus' life, as well as pasages all the way through the Bible, make this clear.
Being awake and alive to all we owe God for His endless benefits is crucial to Christian Science demontration. Gratitude to Him should be in our thoughts and hearts as much as possible, even if--especially if--we have an as-yet-unresolved problem of some kind. Why? Because few states of thinking are so conducive to healing as that of gratitude. This wonderfully uplifting moral attitude lets in the light of Christ, Truth. This light pierces the darkness of mortal thinking and begins at once to obliterate everything unlike itself. It restores harmony.
The God-based, Mind-reflecting strength and self-sufficiency that one's own study of Christian Science affords can bring one successfully through any trying situation. It makes possible quicker, more conclusive proofs of Spirit's allness. But there's more. Habitually turning to God in difficulties enables one to feel His loving presence more consistently. And feeling an abiding sense of "God with us" is so glorious that we can reach the point of actually being grateful for having had the opportunity to gain significant spiritual growth through overcoming adversity.
So, if you find yourself being specially challenged and thinking, "How can I deal with this problem I'm having?", heed the angel that says, "Why not rely on Christian Science for healing?" You will be so thankful you did.
Posted by Poet at 11:05 AM
Monday, April 1, 2013
(By my husband,
John Robert Howell)
Earlier in my study of Christian Science, I would always avoid the trial in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 430 ff.) Like Joe Friday on the old "Dragnet" I just wanted the facts, if I wanted anything, truths laid out like a string of bread crumbs which I could at least make a pretense of following. The trial required thought, and why didn't Mrs. Eddy just tell me in plain English what she waned me to know? It is obvious now that she treated the subject in the way which would best educate the reader if he was of a mind to be educated and had the humility and patience to ponder the proceedings.
The trial takes up over 12 pages of Science and Health, and it is certain Mrs. Eddy didn't spend even one sentence on something superfluous. No one will regret exchanging his low-cut shoes or sneakers for some serious high-top boots and wading into the rial, the further the better. I have wondered about ruminating after feeling ill, but of course the moment we feel ill is the moment we can choose one of two courses. We can, as Mrs. Eddy says, promptly and persistently oppose the suggestion of illness with Christian Science or we can ruminate and let the trial begin. Mortal Man may be the defendant, but the allegory quickly goes from "a man" to "the patient" to "the prisoner", which is his designation until the final page. Mrs. Eddy may have used Mortal Man as the title of the defendant in order to emphysize the need to depersonalize the claims of Personal Sense.
It is also a point of note that the prisoner became ill in the act of doing good. This seems to resonate with the test of all prayer in Science and Health, "In public prayer we often go beyond our convictions, beyond the honest standpoint of fervent desire. If we are not secretly yearning and openly striving for the accomplishment of all we ask, our prayers are 'vain repetitions,' such as the heathen use. If our petitons are sincere, we labor for what we ask; and our Father, who seeth in secret, will reward us openly. Can the mere public expression of our desires increase them? Do we gain the omnipotent ear sooner by words than by thoughts? Even if prayer if sincere, God knows our need before we tell Him or our fellow-beings about it." (13:5-16) and that equally compelling statement in Miscellaneous Writings, "Too soon we cannot turn from disease in the body to find disease in the mortal mind, and its cure, in working for God. Thought must be made better, and human life more fruitful, for the divine energy to move it onward and upward." (343:5-9) Viewed in the light of these passages the trial adumbrates a sobering obligation for all Christian Scientists, but one which should be joyfully undertaken.
If we are sincere Christian Scientists, the Court of Spirit may be in session frequently, perhaps daily and hourly if we are confronting faithfully and courageously the legions of errors that beset all mortals.
It is imperative that Christian Science be our counsel in these trials. If so, we can confidently expect a verdict of "not guilty". The trial in Science and Health has much to offer and unfolds endlessly to our attempts to embrace it.
Posted by Poet at 4:15 AM