Monday, May 23, 2011

Sordid, Senseless, Self-indulgence

One doesn't have to be a reader of the tabloids to know what has been happening in the world with respect to certain individuals and their travails.  When even the Wall Street Journal covers the wrongdoing of the 2 men whose lives have been up-ended, people are aware of what such mindless self-indulgence can lead to.

Thinking about what walking the broad way of worldliness can do to someone, not to mention their family, couldn't help but reflect on the teachings of Christ Jesus vis-a-vis the 2 paths open to us in this life:  the one that leads to destruction (amen to this) and the other that seems difficult and un-appetizing to take, but that leads to all worth having--now and eternally.

In the words of our Master, "Enter ye in at the strait gate:  for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat;
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."  This is from the Sermon on the Mount, as many will recognize.

Jesus isn't saying that one is doomed if he has chosen unwisely, just that there seem to be few who are willing to exercise the self-denial it takes to choose the better way.  One should make every effort to ensure that he's among the "few".  God be thanked for His infinite love and mercy, that now is not to soon to start getting one's heart right with God, if following Christ is something one has not contemplated.  Nor is it too late to retrace one's steps, if he (or she) has wandered off the path through deplorable living for one's own self-gratification.

Be serious about doing what Jesus commanded.  Your heavenly Father wants you to be safe with Him. It is the one sure, the royal, the only way.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's in His Hand

When God tells me to do a thing...I do.

I trust...that this is true as well of you.

And the best part...when we're working for Him?

(And this truth will bring assurance to any heart)...

Instead of thinking...but what will be the outcome?

what will the end result be?...let God Almighty

take care of all aspects of what we do

 for His beloved Son...not just some.

To want to not only scatter seed...

but see the harvest...confirm that others

have been not our need...

this we do not have to know.

Cannot He who sent His Word...

take care of it...see to it...

that it does what it needs to do?

Of course our dear Father can.

Two passages to underscore...

(of course, there are many more)...

From the Old Testament (Isaiah 55:11)

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

And from the New (1 Corinthians 3:6

"I have planted,  Apollos watered; but God gave the increase", said Paul.

Truly is it all in His Hand.

In Praise of Public Libraries

I love to visit public libraries;

They're full of such treasures.

Chief among them to me,

Are books about heroes of the faith --

Intrepid followers of Jesus Christ,

Who, rather than be remiss

In their duty to God and man

Endured often unspeakable hardship.

For the years of uplift I have found

In these public institutions free,

I say, may God prosper them every one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dealing with Life's Glitches -- Jesus' Way

When a household item stopped operating, we were not concerned as we had a service contract for just such a contingency.  The store was called, a technician scheduled to come take a look.  Then all along the line, the wheels seemed to come off (in a manner of speaking).  Day after day of frustrating phone calls followed, with much time spent holding on the phone and being shunted from one person to another.  The household item we needed was still broken.

Then this morning all appeared at its worst.  Misunderstanding reined, with the store manager/the repairman/the supplier and us at odds. When it looked as though the problem was just going to go on and on with no satisfactory conclusion, it dawned on me what I needed to do.  If the item in question never got fixed, and we had to go out and purchase a new one, this was not the overriding consideration, I realized.

Re-establishing peace of mind, clearing up the misunderstanding that had taken hold, was paramount, I could see.  Dealing with this situation in a Christly and loving manner was what was being required. 

I sat quietly and began getting hold of my thinking about just who was in charge here, to-wit God.  And what He requires of everyone--that Jesus' guidelines for living be observed.   I felt better very soon.  "If this apparatus never gets repaired, who cares?  There are more important things than this."

And this phrase from something Mary Baker Eddy points out in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 207) came to thought while I was praying.  "...the opposite discord, which bears no resemblance to spirituality, is not real."  This helped me see that under God's law, there was only harmony being experienced by us all, that inharmony had no divine law to support it, that the whole sense of frustration and delay was not going on in His kingdom--the only place we truly dwell.

Not surprisingly, the technician we hadn't been able to reach, drove up.  After trying to repair the item, he realized one more part would be needed which he proceeded to order.  But, and this is neat part, he offered to get us a loaner to use in the meantime--something he did not have to do.  Not only this, he will have to drive 40 minutes out of his way, going down to another town, and 40 minutes back.  But we will be back in business by 6pm today.

There's just nothing like dealing with life's little glitches -- Jesus' way.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life-altering Words

Someone has said, if you want
to feel a life-altering force,
put into practice what
Christ Jesus said to do.
This I have found to be true,
as have many of you.
These sayings, merely read,
are sublimely glorious.
But the power that comes to one,
when they are literally done!
Not that our Master's commands
are always easy to do,
as no one knows perhaps
better than I and you,
who may have walked the floor
and shed a tear or two, thinking
"This thing I just cannot do."
Yet, keeping on in the fight,
realizing if we put things off,
we'd delay with Him being right;
so we persevered and won our way.

As encouragement to one reading this:
Begin living as a child of God ought --
actually doing what Jesus taught --
and you'll need to hold on tight;
changes for the better you will see.
Such is the power that comes
from taking Jesus' words seriously.

Thinking About Light

(Composed one evening in May)

Candy-pink roses blow in cool breeze,
Care-free birds dart in and out of hedges,
Someone mows his lawn in the distance.
Of all the May delights that confront me
As I sit here on stone garden bench,
It's setting-sun rays that get me most --
Light shines on forest floor,
Light plays on trunks of trees,
Light glints off rusting-wire fench
A farmer put up long before we moved in.

But there's a thought much higher
Than enchanting light of earth --
It's something Christ Jesus once said:
"I am the light of the world;  he that
Followeth me shall not walk in darkness,
But shall have the light of life."
(John 8:12)

The beauty of this Light
Can never fade to black.
Its presence and its power,
Followers of His can never lack.

To Hold Our Ground

This being a soldier of Christ

Is not all charging up the hill,

I have often found.

At times there is nothing

One can do but be still,

Hold the ground gained,

Until incoming fire has waned --

Be like the trees in their majestic-ness

Who just stand there and take it.

Does not the Bible say,

"Hold that fast which thou hast,
That no man take thy crown?"

(Revelation 3:11)

And as Christian Science brings out,

"'Work out your own salvation,' is the demand of Life and Love, for to this end God workerth with you.  'Occupy till I come!'  Wait for your reward, and 'be not weary in well doing.'  If your endeavors are beset by fearful odds, and you receive no present reward, go not back to error, nor become a sluggard in therace.

When the smoke of battle clears away, you will discern the good you have done, and receive according to your deserving."

(Science and Health with Key to the Scritpures by Mary Baker Eddy,
p. 22)

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Trees Lift Up Their Leafy Arms

After too many days of ground-cracking hot weather and lack of rain,  thirsty trees in our woods are lifting up their leafy arms in what must be thanks to their Creator.  How silly, you may think.  But  I do believe that they are.  For God is doing right now what no human agency can -- send heaven-sized buckets of cool, refreshing rain.

I can almost hear them saying, "Praise be to God on high!"  And so am I.

As a student of Christian Science, which is a practical way of life and encourages its adherents to turn to God in prayer in all the challenges of daily life, I have prayed about extremes in weather before, making sincere efforts to carry out what the following words from the Old Testament point out:

"I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:
Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields."
(Job 5:8-10)

Keeping Our Joy Intact

Does someone wish he knew

The way to go through life

Without feeling all used up?

Jesus' "Your joy no man

Taketh from you (see Luke 16:22)

Holds a vital clue.

The Master's promise here

Can seem too much to believe

Given the things that

Humankind can sometimes do.

But it is nonetheless spiritual fact,

Within the reach of me and you.

Inharmony never really touches

Man's true, like-God selfhood --

Ours and theirs.  What's more,

Understanding this truth divine

Will lingering bitterness relieve,

One's joy and faith in good restore.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Power of Gratitude

When the latest catastrophe,
Or the news, or who-knows-what
Begins to get me down,
I thank God and my joy
Starts to rebound.

Nothing cures depression,
Nothing lifts me back up
I have often found
Like thanking Him
For everything around.

Such is the power of gratitude.
And before I know it,
By expressing gratitude,
I find very soon,
A whole new attitude.

Giving way to thanks giving
Makes the day feel right;
This makes the day much brighter;
Lifts at once mental darkness,
Makes my step much lighter.

And more -- expressing gratitude
Is naturally infectious,
Reaches others I have found;
Helps and gets someone
Else's chin up off the ground.

No wonder Jesus commended
That leper of the ten he healed--
That obviously thankful one
Who came back to give God thanks
For all that He had done.

So, whenever I feel tempted
To let life get me down;
Whenever I feel a trifle blue,
I'll thank our loving Father,
Which is only His due.

Why We Exist

While driving along just now, I recalled some words of Mary Baker Eddy's which tie right in with the blog post I did earlier, and thought I'd share it with you readers.

In a letter to the First Church of Christ, Scientist, New York, she wrote:  "Goodness never fails to receive its reward, for goodness makes life a blessing.  As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good.  Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I?  to the scientific response:  I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing."  (First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 165)

This statement applies to not just church members, in my view, but to all who would like to adopt a noble reason for existing.  And our dear Master, Christ Jesus, left no doubt what was expected of his followers, in his time and in ours.  That is, of course, to love God supremely and to show our love for Him in our love for others.  In sum, to do all the good we can do in this world.

On Being More Useful

While chatting with a neighbor this week who was lamenting the boredom she experiences with a husband working long hours and her children off to college, I couldn't help thinking about this idea of usefulness and satisfaction in life.

There is no doubt many today long to feel needed, to have a satifying purpose, to express their own particular abilities, hopes and ideas, independent of what their family is doing.  In short, to feel that they matter.

In assuring mankind of God's tender care for each of His children, and man's spiritual value, Jesus said:  "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than manuy sparrows."  (Matthew 10:29, 31)

Each of us is important, useful, unique.  Why?  Because man is God's beloved child, made in His image and likeness, as we read in the first chapter of the Bible.  In full accord with this revelation, Christian Science shows that man is the spiritual reflection of God, divine Love, and as such is perfect and immortal.

As we grow in the understanding of man's unity with his Maker, each of us is assured our secure place and purposeful activity.  We cannot be forgotten, lost in the crowd, swallowed up in our rapidly-changing world.  Our life is governed by God, directed and sustained by His unchanging divine law.  Any individual can begin to glimpse his or her importance to God.

The woman who discovered and founded my religion, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p.306): "If God, who is Life, were parted for a moment from His reflection, man, during that moment there would be no divinity reflected.  The Ego would be unexpressed, and the Father would be childless, -- no Father."

Beyond living a worthwhile life ourselves, yours and my contribution toward world problems is vitally needed.  It's challenging at times not to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the difficulties confronting mankind.  Don't we all know this.  And we may think, "But what can just one person do?"  When we feel this way, we can find encouragement and inspiration in the life of the Master.

Christ Jesus' earthly mission proved what can be accomplished by just one God-directed individual.  It was Jesus' understanding of man's true selfhood and oneness with God that empowered his far-reaching acts.  This same understanding of man's real being and spiritual vaue will enable anyone to have a more meaningful, satisfying life.

The impressions that one person cannot achieve very much, that he is limited, ineffective, and unimportant, is the result of false education, the material belief that one is a solitary mortal, helpless and separated from God, good.  But this is not the true concept of man.  One finds freedom from such a misconception as he appplies his understanding of this spiritual fact.

As the perfect child of our loving, heavenly Father, you and I are needed--whatever our human circumstances happen to be. This is divine, provable fact and it pertains to my neighbor down the street, and to any one who comes across this blog.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Letting Our Light Shine

One doesn't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows (to borrow Bob Dylan's words); when he comes across someone who has Christ at the center, who has Christ alive, he knows.  Oh, how he knows. 

And tell me it isn't a thrill to find those who are like-minded.  But still, the object of what we're doing, we who write and speak for Christ is not solely to reach those who already feel as we do--though getting to proclaim the Truth is wonderful wherever we happen to be doing it--but to so live our lives that others may wonder, what causes that person to radiate such joy and health and lovingkindness?

And when they ask, being able to say what is blessing us so very grateful, to be able to give credit to God, to Christ Jesus, and to Christian Science.  Oh the privilege of being this very day a reflector of that light our blessed Master commands*, a light that cannot be hid, and just may cause one to seek things higher, ending up with a heart on fire for our great King.

Can you think of anything more glorious?

("Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Soldiers of Christ

A couple of years ago I wrote a poem titled "No Walk in the Park" to help others gain a mature grasp of what following in Jesus' steps requires of us. 

In fact, let me share the poem here, then comment on something from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy that has been of inestimable help to me in the Christian warfare, and could just be what someone else needs today:

"No Walk in the Park"

(c)  By:  Sharon Slaton Howell

Doing what God requires
Is of course no lark.
Jesus never even hinted
It'd 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 he doeth God service."
(John 16:2)

Doesn't need to be put
Plainer than this for me.
Nor I suspect for you who
Love Christ unconditionally.

But becoming more like our Saviour,
The most obedient-to-God man on earth,
Shouldn't this some all out,
Go-for-broke commitment be worth?

For we know, disobeying the God
We are taught to adore,
Is sooner or later sure to
Cost us so much more.

Now for a statement that has sustained me in the challenges that confront every soldier of Christ Jesus.  This is from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 48:  "Remembering the sweat of agony which fell in holy benediction on the grass of Gethsemane, shall the humblest or mightiest disciple murmur when he drinks from the same cup, and think, or even wish, to escape the exalting ordeal of sin's revenge on its destroyer?"

The words that jumped out at me the first time I looked this statement in the face was "exalting ordeal".  Especially that word she used, "exalting".  And as so many others can attest, the challenges God's own face in their daily lives of living Jesus' words, do leave us much stronger, blessed.  May you, reader of this blog, take comfort in this divine fact.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Where Our Safety Lies

With the news that Osama Bin Laden has been finally been taken out, some people are warning of possible retaliation against us here in the USA, and against Americans and its allies abroad. 

I, of course, am thinking about staying out of harm's way, about where our safety lies.  And the religion I practice, Christian Science, is of great help in this.  Whatever our circumstances may be, we can gain peace of mind and safety through an understanding of our unity with God.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:  "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."  (p.387)

This spiritual and practical understanding of man's indissoluble relationship to God is accessible to all.  We can all begin to discern and practice those spiritual truths that will enable us to carry on our day-to-day activities with perfect confidence in our safety.

The physical senses tell us we're subject to the material conditions surrounding us; that despite the precautions we may take for personal security, we still remain potential victims of others' actions.  While this may seem to be the case, and we certainly can't naively ignore danger, still there is no more reliable help than God.  There is actually no other power.

The teachings of Christian Science stress the truth of God's supremacy.  And, in accord with the Bible, they show us that man is the beloved child of his Maker, never for an instant separated from God's all-encompassing care.  In truth, man is neither a victim nor the perpetrator of violent acts.  He is governed by the divine Mind, the only genuine Mind.  And when we realize this truth with the conviction that comes of spiritual understanding, we can live without fear.

For centuries people have been turning to the book of Psalms for reassuring promises of God's protecting care.  This is just one of the books of the Old Testament that show us God's mighty help and deliverance.  And our great Master left no doubt of God's powerful love and care for His children.  It was Christ Jesus' absolute conviction of being inseparable from his Father that empowered him to demonstrate dominion, whatever the circumstances.  Jesus said, "He that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone."  (John8:29)  Nor does  the Father ever leave us alone and unprotected; rather, He keeps each and every one of us continuously secure in His omnipotent care.  You and I can prove this.

The Christian Science textbook states, "Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man's oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage."  (Science and Health, p. 18)  To really comprehend the fact of man's perfect unity with God, good, is to enjoy His protecting care 24/7.  How reassuring it is to know that we can never for a moment be outside the sphere of divine Love's protecting, saving influence!