Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Success for you, too

A college student I know likes her life just fine--until a more talented and/or better-looking girl appears on the scene.  Then feelings of comparison, envy, and depression roll in, eroding her self-confidence.

My friend is not alone.  Many people have a struggle not to feel envious of the success and accomplishments of others.

Christ Jesus addressed this problem in his parable of the prodigal son, in which the older son begrudges the good things that the father bestows on the repentant younger brother.  The father's words of assurance to his jealous son point to a vital spiritual truth of God and man that can be helpful to the person dealing with envy.  He says, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."  (Luke 15:31)

Christian Science, which follows the Master's teachings, helps us see that man's actual being is made in God's likeness, is the spiritual, eternal offspring of God.  And so, man is in full possession of every Godlike quality essential to joy, dominion, purpose, and fulfillment.  These are not gifts occasionally bestowed on certain individuals by a heavenly Father who loves some more than others.  They are bestowed on all God's creation impartially.  Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, referring to God, "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals."  (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13) 

For the person beset by feelings of inadequacy and envy, the knowledge of his completeness as the child of God--endowed with just as much ability to reflect God's all-encompassing nature as any of His children--brings freedom from the misery of unfilfilled hopes and unnecessary comparisons.  It awakens one to realize that all the good one can possibly need for happiness is already his; that God, divine Mind, is forever expressing Himself in man.  The prophet says of God's purpose for each one of us, "This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise."  (Isaiah 43:21)

Instead of wasting precious time envying the good other people do, how much more rewarding it is--for ourselves and for mankind--to get busy expressing our own unique spiritual purpose.  Accepting the fact that God created us to show forth His nature, and recognizing that as His image we reflect unlimited ability, inspire us to develop to the full our God-given potential.  Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, "The talents He gives we must improve."  (p. 6)

An experience I had several years ago illustrates what help this can be in putting off envy.  In addition to my regular office duties I was appointed to a special committee whose other members all appeared to me to have superior intellects.  In fact, these people seemed so far above me in intelligence and expertise that I would often leave a meeting where I had contributed little or nothing, feeling quite frustrated and depressed.  Finally, I asked a Christian Science practitioner to help me through prayer.  I had relied on God for answers to other problems and was assured this one could be solved as well.

One day it dawned on me that I was so impressed with how well the others were doing I wasn't using the talents God had given me!  For the first time I saw that I had all the God-given ability required to do this  job--indeed that God actually needed my unique expression of His nature in order that He be fully reflected.  As I began striving to better express His pure, loving, intelligent nature, feelings of inadequacy gave way to confidence and satisfying self-expression.  New talents even surfaced, with the end result that I did make a worthwhile contribution.

If, then, we're struggling with feelings of envy, we might consider these two Bible-based spiritual truths:  (1)  Our true selfhood is God's perfect expression, inseparable from His eternal, all-encompassing care and therefore already in possession of all good.  (2)  Our purpose is to manifest God's attributes in continuous, satisfying activity.

Understanidng these potent truths, striving to develop our own God-bestowed abilities and individuality, we'll find ourselves no longer cast down by the thought of another's talents and accomplishments but rather feeling satisfied and complete.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spiritual Understanding Heals

         (Written for one who is new to the teachings of Christian Science)

        Be assured, God does answer prayer.  But perhaps our prayers need to embody less fearful pleading and more understanding trust in His care for man.  The New Testament says, "I wil pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also."  (1 Corinthians 14:15)

        Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:  "'The prayer of faith shall save the sick.' says the Scripture.  What is this healing prayer?  A mere request that God will heal the sick has  no power to gain more of the divine presence than is always at hand."  And she continues further along, referring to God as divine Truth and Love, "It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief, nor is it the human understanding of the divine  healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth,--of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love."  (p. 12)

        Christ Jesus' assurance "Ye shall knw the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32) takes on new meaning for the person who begins the study of Christian Science.  He begins to see that an understanding of God makes free because the fact is that everyone's real selfhood is God's likeness, therefore eternally free, spiritually whole and safe at this moment.  The spiritual laws underlying the Master's words and deeds, their changless Principle, become clearer to the individual who gains some practical understanding of the Christ-power that Jesus expressed so fully.  And this imbues his prayers for himself and others with power and efficacy.

        The law of God is available for everyone to learn and benefit from.  When the spiritual truth of God and man is specifically brought to bear on a particular trouble through prayer and purified living, healing takes place.  Whether the difficulty is of long duration or is acute, something of the spiritual harmony of man in God's likeness inevitably comes to light.

        The spiritual concept of man is basic to the teachings of Christian Science, and this is why adherents of this religion find it essential to pray from the Biblical standpoint that man is made in God's own image. (See Genesis 1:27)  Accepting the premise that God is perfect Spirit, as the Bible teaches, they realize that the creations of Spirit can only be spiritual, perfect.  And this is the reality of man's being, despite appearances to the contrary.  It must be, because God couldn't have created man subject to discord and destruction.

        In the measure that we express our true nature as this spiritual likeness, we are following the example of Jesus, who healed sin, disease, and all discord through spiritual means alone.  Mrs. Eddy writes:  "The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation.  Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural,  but supremely natural."  (Science and Health, p. xi)

        The last one hundred pages of Science and Health are devoted to healings that resulted from studing this book.  Among those wonderful experiences are healings of cataract, rheumatism, cancer, consumption, deafness, kidney disease, stomach trouble, and astigmatism.  Christian Science has lifted countless thousands out of painful physical conditions.

        Jesus promised us, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also."  (John 14:12)  Humbly striving to follow the Master's teachings through an absolute faith in God and a growing discernment of the true nature of man as His perfect likeness, anyone can begin to fulfill that promise and find healing.

Friday, March 15, 2013

How God Helps Us

They told me not to even try writing poetry.

"You're not intellectual enough"

Wise and published ones said.

So, I didn't try -- for too many years.

Then one wonderful day unforgettable,

Poems began to flow,

Poems that have warmed people,

Made them weep and laugh,

Enlightened, inspired, and in some cases,

Made them want to amend their lives.


So, don't ever let anymore convince you

To keep your words bottled up.

Isn't what you have to share

As valid as anyone else's?

Express what you feel -- boldly.

That's all there is to style, in my view.

So have your say.

If it's in your heart,

It will reach the heart of others.

And besides, your loving Father

Can help you in this, as in all else,

Cause the inspiration you share

To reach out far and wide,

Bless others beyond what

You may now imagine.

And  you will feel as do I,

That to Him goes all the credit.

Friday, March 8, 2013

No mas, por favor

        This is what my friend from Guatemala might say at some point in his experience of loving God and living in obedience to Him.  Which he earnestly strives to do, being a religious man.  As Paul so beatifully puts it, "As it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

        This does happen when we love God, when we make every effort to do what He gave His Son to have us do.  The blessings at times can be nearly overwhelming and we almost want to say to Him, " No mas, no more good please.  You've given me so much already, dear Father."

        Then there are those times our Master warns us of, when living in accord with divine commands brings tribulation.  And plenty of it.  Sometimes so much that one wonders if he'll make it through.  But God always upholds those who belong to Him, to those who have named the Name of Christ, to those who are following in Jesus' steps.  Evil hates this more than all else.  But those who stand with Christ are going to prevail over whatever they may confront in this life.  It is not possible that anything can ever defeat such a one.  No power on earth can do this.

        We can count on it -- count not only on trying times which test where our love and loyalty lie.  But those glorious days when God's love is poured out on us in such a measure that we feel, no mas, por favor!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Note to my readers

A most interesting thing has occurred.  It has come to my attention that an individual has begun a website in which the first entry is a warning to beware of Sharon Slaton Howell and Christian Science!  This is followed by quite a denunciation of what my religion is.  To say that this was a surprise to me is to understate the case greatly.  Someone must be afraid that I have more influence in cyberspace than certainly I'm aware of.

However, my immediate and continuing reaction is one of compassion for someone who feels they must attack what another believes. But as I've said at the outset of my blogging which began back in 2008 out of love for God, for Christ Jesus, and for the teachings of Christian Science, that every attempt to turn me from my religion and/or to poison my thought toward its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, has completely failed.  And it shall continue to do so. 

Further, it's not lost on me that the motive to drag down my beliefs may just cause some earnest seeker for Truth, someone who is desperate to experience Christ-healing, to investigate Christian Science.  God often works in ways we cannot see at the time.  He has done so many times in the past where Christian Science is concerned.

In closing, I quote something Mrs. Eddy once wrote:  "I would no more quarrel with a man because of his religion than I would because of his art."  First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany (page 270)

I echo these words, and would ask that Jesus' Golden Rule be put in practice in this situation.

Choosing the "lowest room"*

If the mighty meekness our Master
In his own life exemplified,
Lived in ours, will keep us
Less responsive to the prince of this world
From unavoidable unhappiness free,
Then let our daily asking be,
Give me, O God, more humility --
That true humility Jesus showed.
Didn't he seem at times
To almost be hiding himself,
Never trying to be a "star",
Wanting invariably instead
To see his Father glorified?
So let us choose the "lowest room"*
Be unpretentious in what we do and are.
It is this not seeking things for ourselves,
Living to honour, not us, but Him
That keeps us from the pride
That makes of life,
Not His heaven, but a hell,
That enables us to walk the Christly path,
Touching other lives
More widely than we can tell.

*Luke 14:7-11

"And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher:  then shall thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."


Sunday, March 3, 2013

When reality dawns

How often this occurs
when one is practicing
Christian Science
and he or she can say:
"Why, there was never
anything there to be healed
divine Mind, God just revealed!
What Jesus meant when he said:
"Ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free."
I see now, clearly see.
There never was a material condition
that needing changing,
only my thinking rearranging,
from false material belief
to spiritual understanding
of what is really real."

In Christ-healing,
one doesn't have to remove
some fearsome thing.
Nor it is matter of time,
but of enlightened thought,
seeing creation as Jesus taught.

What God made is perfect now,
and it remains that way.
His work is done,
states the Bible, Genesis 1,
each daughter and each son
intact in their changeless perfection.
This truth divine Science teaches,
and when it reaches
one's consciousness,
lighting it up,
one rejoices to see
that nothing real has been
changed or healed.
The light of divine reality
has simply replaced the
darkness of mortal belief.
And oh the relief
when this happens,
and one is finally free!

("There was never a moment in which evil was real." 
Mary Baker Eddy, writing in her pamphlet No and Yes)

A Way Out of Prescription Drug Addiction

One of the saddest things to see on the evening news these days is someone who has become an addict through reliance on prescription drugs.  One's heart goes out to a man or woman in this condition who feels trapped and hopeless.

But there is a way to combat this and gain freedom from dependence on these drugs.  That way is the healing power of Christianity that Christ Jesus practiced.  His words, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" point to the naturalness of healing from a purely metaphysical standpoint as he did.  They point to unchanging divine law, which any person can turn to with certainty.

Through the study of Christian Science, one is helped to see what that healing truth is, the truth found in the Bible's pages.  There we learn that God is omnipotent and entirely good and that man is the image of God.  As the likeness of his creator, man forever expresses the divine nature.  And because God is Spirit, man is spiritual.  To be sure, we appear to be merely flesh and bones and subject to suffering.  But physicality isn't the actual or ultimate substance of our being.  Life in the flesh is a misconception of man, whose real identity as the image of God is incorporeal, untouched by enslaving and debilitating physical conditions.

The growing understanding of man's spiritual nature has a purifying effect on the body.  It awakens us to the everpresence of Christ, Truth -- of the divine healing influence -- and the body responds to this uplifting influence.  Health is restored.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded this religion I practice, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:  "To ignore God as of little use in sickness is a mistake.  Instead of thrusting Him aside in times of bodily trouble, and waiting for the hour of strength in which to acknowledge Him, we should learn that He can do all things for us in sickness as in  health."
page 166)

As many have found, spiritual healing in Christian Science is more than a recovery of health; it includes moral strengthening.  Turning to God in prayer and relying on Him for healing constitute the genuine Christian way of salvation.  This holy activity regenerates and purifies one's thought and life.

We have a God-given right not only to enjoy sound health but to recover it through spiritual means when it is threatened.  Jesus has furnished us with a precedent, indicating that as we follow his example and make every effort to follow in his steps, we can learn what God is and how to avail ourselves of His power.

The Bible is full of assurances of God's healing help.  These are not empty promises.  They come to life for us in clear-cut healing when we're equipped with practical knowledge of God's eternal law of  harmony and of our relationship to Him.  Empowered with the Christly understanding that a study of Christian Science brings, we can turn to God for every aspect of our well-being.  And this includes freedom from addiction to prescription drugs.  As the Bible records God as promising:  "I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy sounds, saith the Lord."  (Jeremiah 30:17)

Friday, March 1, 2013

What Would Jesus Think?

                                          By:  John Wellsman

Many people today ponder what Jesus would do in a particular situation and often the conclusion is that he would turn the other cheek or practice some other inoffensively passive behavior in the face of aggression. Yet Jesus’ three-year ministry was a healing ministry. He didn’t just avoid confrontations, he healed. He healed disease as well as many other situations and conditions. Thus his ministry went far beyond the “Golden Rule.”

A far more important question to ask is: What would Jesus think? What would he think when confronted with some dreaded disease or discordant situation? What did he know that enabled him to heal and perform the so-called “miracles?”

Scholastic theology generally overlooks the fact that not only did Jesus heal cases himself but he taught others to heal as well. Most notably the disciples. In fact Jesus once sent forth a group of seventy students at one time who returned to report, “Even the devils are subject to us through thy name!” (Luke 10:17) These individuals obviously healed situations and people as well through what they learned from Jesus.

Few people in the history of Christianity have apparently pondered how Jesus was able to heal and teach others to heal. Most prefer the traditionally accepted position that Jesus had a personal and unique dispensation to perform “miracles.” Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of the Christian Science religion was one who refused to accept this limited view of Jesus’ mission. When she was healed through her own prayers of the effects of an apparently life-threatening accident in 1866, she realized that many had been healed over the centuries through deeply Christian prayer. However she alone became determined to know exactly how Jesus had healed. In her words, “I knew…cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing,” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 109:16). She was perhaps the first and only person up to that time who realized Jesus’ method of healing was purely mental.

Thus it is not surprising that Mrs. Eddy included as one of the fundamental tenets of Christian Science that adherents of the religion should, “…solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus;” (Science & Health p. 497:24)

Neither is it surprising that she applied the term “Science” to Christianity. Indeed Webster defines Science in part as:  “Accumulated and established knowledge, which has been systematized and formulated with reference to the discovery of general truths or the operation of general laws; knowledge classified and made available in work, life, or the search for truth; comprehensive, profound, or philosophical knowledge.” That’s quite different from today’s generally accepted view of “science.”

From these two facts, we can determine that Mary Baker Eddy actually sought to gather the “general truths or…general laws…comprehensive, profound or philosophical knowledge” regarding Jesus’ healing ministry so that it could be taught or transferred to individuals today in order that those individuals could demonstrate in their own lives the healing “miracles” practiced by Jesus and his disciples.

In short, she was determined to know what Jesus knew or how he thought in order to heal. She wanted to know what Jesus was he conscious of in order to perform these “miracles?”

Over a period of three years of deeply profound Scriptural study, Mary Baker Eddy learned both what and how Jesus thought or knew in order to perform his healing “miracles.” She explains it thus in Science and Health, the textbook which she wrote describing the results of her study: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Savior saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.” (p. 476:32)

Two things should be pointed out here. First Mrs. Eddy had a far different view or definition of “sin” than the currently accepted view that sin is essentially sexual misconduct—physical or mental. She defines it thus: “Sin was, and is, the lying supposition that life, substance, and intelligence are both material and spiritual” in her book “Retrospection and Introspection” (p. 67:6).

Second, the Bible describes man’s origin thus: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him;” (Gen 1:27) Considering the previously referred to quotation in which she describes how Jesus healed, Mrs. Eddy obviously realized that what Jesus knew or “beheld” was man in God’s own image—the perfect man, spiritual, not material—instead of a man who considered himself/herself as both material and spiritual. And this realization of man made in God’s image enabled Jesus to heal the sick and perform other “miracles” which defied a purely material view of creation. Not only by Jesus himself but by anyone who could achieve this knowledge of the “perfect man.” The Bible records Jesus as saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” John 14:12.

Elsewhere, Mrs. Eddy says, “Holding the right idea of man in my mind, I can improve my own, and other people's individuality, health, and morals;” Miscellaneous Writings p. 62:1. Through her own prayers and those of her students over many years, she proved conclusively that by thinking or knowing the facts of being as Jesus knew them anyone could perform the types of “miracles” which Jesus performed. And this thinking or understanding is just as powerful and available today as it was in Jesus’ time or Mrs. Eddy’s day. Which leads to this conclusion: It can be learned and practiced by anyone sincerely desiring to know what Jesus knew.

Light So Lovely

Light is seen in so many delightsome ways:

                           -- In ducks gliding across a pond,
                               Leaving long streaks of
                               Shining in their wake

                          --   In the setting sun playing
                               On trunks of trees

                          --  In a little child's happy eyes

                          --  In a face glowing with love

                          But exceeding all that God's
                                    Wondrous creation can show
                                               Is that light Jesus promises --

                          "He that followeth me
                           Shall not walk in darkness,
                           But shall have the light of life."

                                     (John 8:12)

Sticking to Our Guns

                                              (By John Robert Howell)

There is something appealing to a certain turn of mind at any rate, about the Stetsoned, two six-shootered gunslinger, squinting gimlet-eyed before him, face bronzed by years of scorching desert suns and chiseled by searing heat and wind-driven sand.  Maybe the stump of an old cheroot clinced defiantly in  his teeth, ever alert and ready to take on any foe or confront any danger.

All Scientists would do well to pack the two six-shooters of the Truth:  the Bible and Science and Health.  It is essential that Christian Scientists be ever alert to error and quick on the draw with these two powerful sources of inspiration and spiritual strength.  The distaff reader may not find the initial picture appealing, with or without the cheroot, and this fanciful image is not meant to suggest that the gentler sex should become metaphysical Ma Barkers.  Maybe Annie Oakleys.  But we all need those two powerful sources of Truth, Life, and Love and must know how to use them instantly through familiarity gained only by constant, daily "practice" therewith and humble, contrite prayer for increased understanding of God and His creation.  It is the only way out of mortal mind and on and up to greater conscious unity with God.

Greenborn bravado and temerity will not long suffice for him (or her) armed only with the single six-shooter of daily excerpts from our textbooks.  Such as they will ultimately discover that they just do not have enough fire power to do the job.  We are told by Christ Jesus that we must know the Scriptures and by Mary Baker Eddy that we must study and ponder both.  I know of no way to follow these commands without constantly belting them on our hips, so to speak, i.e., keeping them always at our fingertips.  And using them faithfully each day.

So, a spiritually-enriched month of March to my fellow Christian Scientists.