Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We have a right to be well

        Most people are aware that they have certain rights as citizens, consumers, workers.  But these same people might be surprised to learn they also have a right to health--a God-given right.

        Proof of this is found in the healing work Christ Jesus did and promised that  his followers would do.  The Master healed countless individuals who were being deprived of their physical well-being, showing that sickness is a violation of our inherent right as children of God to experience harmony in every aspect of our lives.

        An example of this is given in the thirteenth chapter of Luke, which tells of a woman so infirm she couldn't even lift herself up.  Even though she had been in this condition for eighteen years, Jesus restored her to complete freedom through his understanding of God's law.  Would Jesus have used his knowledge of divine law to remove physical ills if we had no God-derived right to be free from them?

        You and I can avail ourselves of the healing power Jesus employed.  What we need is a demonstrable grasp of what he knew about God and man, and here the teachings of Christian Science are invaluable.  Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of this Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:  "Christian Science raises the standard of liberty and cries:  'Follow me!  Escape from the bondage of sickness, sin, and death!'  Jesus marked out the way.  Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free!  This is your divine right."

        Underlying Jesus' words and deeds was eternal divine law, which we all can learn to apply.  Through prayer that springs from an understanding of God as the perfect, totally good Principle of the universe, and of man's actual nature as His spiritual image, we can experience genuine health.

        The concept of man as spiritual and indestructible is contrary to what the five material senses would have us believe is true of ourselves and others.  Man's spiritual status may seem far-fetched and unattainable.  But the fact remains that the true selfhood of us all is incorporeal, diseaseless, never helpless.  Our real being is the offspring of God, infinite Spirit.  We live in Spirit and are eternally above and apart from physicality and suffering.  Wholeness is the very esssence of God's nature, and it is individualized in His image, man.  We demonstrate sound health as we progressively give up through prayer the materialistic, mortal concept of man and awake to the spiritual reality.

        Even when a physical condition is severe and has gone on for many years, freedom can come.  Someone I know had been troubled since she was a teen-ager with a skin condition covering her hands and arms, which not even specialists had been able to treat successfully.  She was a young mother with small children, and the suffering seemed almost unbearable at times.  This woman had just begun studying Christian Science and knew something of the spiritual truths contined in its textbook, Science and Health.

        One evening she was thinking about some of these truths, and it suddenly became clear to her that this disease couldn't have been created by an all-loving God, that His law of only good for His children didn't support it.  And she gained this important insight:  the condition had never been part of her true, spiritual being!  The illumination was so great, and the recognition of herself as she actually was--eternally whole and free--so vivid, that the disease began disappearing that very evening.  Within a week there wasn't a trace of the problem she had struggled with for so many years.  This healing occurred over thirty years ago and has remained permanent.

        Healings like this (and they are taking place today) encourage us to claim and prove our God-given right to be well.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Prayer and what God can do

                                            John Robert Howell

           (Written for readers new to Christianity and Christian Science)

        One time I worked in a cafeteria with a cook whose first name I have never forgotten--Elijah.   He was as imposing physically as his biblical counterpart must have been.

        Something else I've never forgotten:  he tasted what he was cooking by sticking his finger into the boiling liquid.

       Most people couldn't do that.  Yet, how many of us do venture into the day equally unprotected from what Hamlet calls "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?"  Sometimes, it seems, you need to manage your affairs with the same wisdom and care you'd give to picking up a hot ember that popped out of a fireplace and onto the floor.

        There are things you can do to make it easier.  In my own life, I've found it is possible to be more prepared for what comes at me--by praying.  To me, this means communing, talking silently, with God.  Getting my thoughts in line with Him.  God is always (not usually or sometimes, but always) prepared to help.  Each one of us is the child of God.

        What we need to do in order to receive His direction and protection, I'm finding, is direct our thoughts to Him.  But what if you're at a loss as to how to begin praying for yourself?  The Lord's Prayer, as given in the Gospel of Matthew, is one good place to start (see Chap. 6:9-13).  This prayer Christ Jesus gave has the power to transform lives.  The truths it unfolds to a person who studies it and ponders it regularly are inexhaustible and fresh.  They come immediately, to help with all the needs of each day.

        What else?  A lot of people have also received great comfort over the centuries from Psalm 23 ("the Lord is my shepherd...") and Psalm 91 ("He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High...")  The Holy Bible is a mother lode for nuggets of truth--thoughts about the power of God in our lives--which can carry us through the day and provide the comfort and assurance we often need.

        As you search for good in your life, God will guide you to encounter fresh, new thoughts and truths.  They will help your prayer to be targeted more specifically to the needs of that day.  For example, if you're going to take a trip, safety is important.  These words also from Psalm 91 are appropriate:  "He shall give  his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."  Or if you have had an injury or are sick, you can pray to gain a deeper understanding of Gods's healing power by considering the verse from Jeremiah that says, "I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord" (Jer. 30:17).

        You can put to use any verse that says something about who God is or who God made you to be.  Like stripping decades of grime, wax, and varnish off a piece of furniture--in order to reveal what it really is made of and looks like--prayer helps reveal our real identity as blessed of God.  It uncovers what God is and how He cares for us.

        The woman who discovered and founded the religion I practice, writes in her book 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."  (page 387)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Our Master meant it

        Christ Jesus was not a man who went about saying things because he had nothing better to do!  And when he commanded us, "Go ye therefore, and teach all observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you", I believe he meant all things.  (Matthew 28:19, 20)

        And the word all I take to include Jesus' "Heal the sick".  (Matthew 10:8) And heal others as he did, by relying on God's mighty power -- not material means.

        Many people gain inspiration and comfort from contemplating the human personality of Jesus, the awesome things he said and did (and I am certainly one of them).  How important it is, though, to gain a practical understanding of the spiritual truths he expressed and proved.

        The purpose of Jesus' unequaled example was not merely to inspire mankind but to show us how to be free from every form of material bondage, physical suffering included.  Did not he promise, "Verily, Verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also"?  (John 14:12)

        This can be accomplished, however, only as one understands the spiritual laws underlying his words and deeds.  We would not expect to succeed in applying the laws of mathematics simply by admiring the professor's personality or even his instruction.  In like manner, the changeless Principle of Jesus' healing and teaching has to be learned.

        This is explained fully and clearly in the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy.  The law of Spirit, God, is available for everyone to learn and use in his or her daily life.  When the spiritual truths are brought into contact with one's particular problem through prayer and purified living--and it makes no difference whether the problem is physical, emotional, moral, or financial-- the result is the restoration of harmony, healing.

        The first chapter of the Bible states that God created man ins His own image and likeness.  In accordance with this original, true account of creation, students of Christian Science pray with true understanding that man and the universe are spiritual and perfect, here and now.

        In the measure that one is able to see himself and others in this spiritual likeness,  he is employing the Master's method, who healed sin, disease, and 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."  Then she continues, "Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural."  (Science and Health, p. xi)

        For the readers of my blog who are not acquainted with Christian Science, I can assure you that many are the times in my life that I have experienced this.  And so can you.  It's a wonderful thing to be following in Jesus' footsteps through a reliance on God for healing.

Friday, August 16, 2013

"King Christ, the world is all aleak" -- e.e. cummings

                                            John Robert Howell

        As part of a recent religion in America report on the evening news a reporter stopped a placid looking middle-aged man who had apparently just stepped out of the church where he had attended a service.  He was thrown a sissy pitch and asked to name the first four books of the New Testament.  Sad to say, instead of knocking that one confidently out of the park he whiffed--whiffed!  From his reaction to the question, nonplussed silence, one might have thought he had been asked to state and prove on the spot Fermat's last theorem.  Studies show America to be one of the most "religious" nations on the planet, but "religious" seems to be a Brodbingnangian garment commodious enough to fit any wearer who chooses to mark X in the box which asks him if he is religious.

        Unfortunately, many religions, churches, and assorted Elmer Gantrys lick their chops at the prospect of a flock of these obedient, unquestioning, and pliable sheep who seem to welcome with relief being led around by the nose (and don't mind paying for the privilege) by any Pooh-Bah with a rope and a will.  For far too many it is a comfort to turn over the burdensome task of serious study, thought, and prayer, to someone else, and there never seems to be a shortage of someone elses.  It was to better than many among us to whom our Master Christ Jesus spoke when he said, no doubt with a leaden heart:  "Sleep on now, and take your rest:   behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Christian Science Healing

"I know how that leper must have felt" my mother said when she was healed of an extreme skin condition that had plagued her for years.  She had attended a Christian Science lecture and upon walking back down the aisle of the church afterwards, one of the spiritual truths that the speaker had shared lit up for her.  Suddenly, with great clarity, it dawned on her, "Why God never afflicted me with this problem!  It is unreal!  It has always been unreal!"  Almost at once, the healing began.  And in a few days time, she later told me, there was not a trace of the condition.  Her joy knew no bounds, as you can well imagine. Before she was introduced to the teachings of Christian Science, she had had help from caring doctors.  Unfortunately, they just weren't able to offer any relief, and her suffering, with two small children, was very challenging.

This wonderful proof of God's healing power which Christian Science makes possible for any earnest seeker (thanks to the discovery and founding by  Mary Baker Eddy) came to my thought this week when I read a powerful poem by someone who posts on another website.  In it, he describes Jesus' healing of the lepers.  This is found in Luke 17:12-19.  For those readers who don't have a Bible at hand, it is as follows:

"And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.  And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed?  but where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."

How thankful my mother was, and I am, that the divine healing practiced and taught by Christ Jesus is available in our day.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Loving and Its Relation to Good Health

        Some years ago, I happened to read something most arresting, written by one of my favorite writers on Christian Science -- Samuel Greenwood.  As you may know, this man was a teacher and practitioner living in British Colombia.  In this particular address, he said that in his many years of helping others through his practice he had found that back of nearly every physical, mental, financial, or emotional problem he had dealt with was a lack of love, both expressed and felt.  And a poet friend in Scotland, when I shared this, replied:  "Not just many, all!"  And he is not an adherent of my religion.

        Whether or not one believes lack of love to be the cause of ill health, I also have noticed this phenomenon in my practice of Christian Science.  And certainly, it has been the case in my own experience when loving my fellowman had started to slip.  I recall one occasion when I foolishly let myself become quite disturbed over some neighborhood controversy.  Opinions, pro and con, were flying all around.  Instead of the love and goodwill I should have been filling thought with, quite the opposite was taking up space.  Who said what got mulled over and over. Not surprising, I began to feel quite ill one afternoon.  Finally, in praying to know what state of thinking needed correcting, an angel thought made it clear:  more love!  It didn't take long when thinking got aligned with divine Love, God for complete freedom to come.  As it always will, when consciousness is cleansed of un-Christlike thoughts.

        The woman who discovered my religion, Mary Baker Eddy, points out in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in her definition of "man" found on page 475:  "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique."
And being the idea, the reflection, of God, Love, should we not be loving?  It is being the opposite, taking in resentment, self-righteousness, ill will, et al that disturbs the harmonious functioning of thought and eventually, our sense of body.  The way out is always available to us, and it involves letting divine Love fill thought to the exclusion of all unlike itself.
What can impact a consciousness flooded with the love Christ Jesus lived and enjoined upon every one of his followers?

        Going around entertaining un-loving thinking can be deadly, and it needs to be gotten at as quickly as possible. The worst thing about such blatant disobedience to God?  A sense of estrangement from Him Who is all Love.  Not that He ever stops caring about us, but God is not going to indulge us while we indulge in a little hate, now is He?

        The Bible makes it clear that to stay connected to our heavenly Father the following is required:  "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."  (1 John 4:16)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jesus - Love's Pure Light

Light is seen in so many lovely ways:

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

        -- 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 us:

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

                 (John 8:12)

Think of being able to walk in the footsteps

                Of Love's pure light!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Energetic and Patient

For the person
with get-up-and-go,
being patient enough
can be tough,
as some of us know.
But for followers of Christ
it must be done.
Mary Baker Eddy once wrote:
"The loving patience of Jesus,
we must strive to emulate."*
And strife it will
sometimes seem.
But we can take heart
that we don't tackle alone
this heavenly demand.
If we do our part,
God will give us
the strength we need
to carry out this comand.
And the fall-out from doing this?
it makes life go better for us,
But more important,
it blesses our fellowman
more widely than we can tell.

*Miscellaneous Writings
          (page 7)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Replying on God, Not People


        Learning to cast our cares on God, not other people, is in line with what our heavenly Father expects of us.  The Bible says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:  for I am God, and there is none else."  (Isaiah 45:22)

        Christ Jesus, of course, did this in every difficulty that confronted him.  And he consistently urged everyone else to seek God's help, while at the same time he demonstrated the vast blessings that come from enlightened reliance on God.

        The human mind looks for support from without but in spiritual reality there is no without.  All is within divine Mind and Mind's reflection, or idea, man.  One idea doesn't need to be an intercessory for another.  In the long run salvation must come to us through our own efforts, and not hoping to sidestep spiritual work that is legitimately ours to do. 

        The teachings of Christian Science support this.  Mary Baker Eddy points out in Miscellaneous Writings, "Each student should, must, work out his own problem of being; conscious, meanwhile, that God worketh with him, and that he needs no personal aid." (page 283)

        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.  Happily, a feeling of separation from our divine source can be overcome.  And it should be, since nothing can come close to comparing with the heaven of experiencing God's immediateness.

        Several states of thought are indispensable in this direction, but what I'm thinking of right now is gratitude to God for all we owe Him for His endless benefits.  Our creator is due all the reverence, adoration, and gratitude His children can give Him.  Jesus' life, as well as passages all the way through the Bible, make this clear.  In addition, I've learned from my study of Christian Science what healing power comes when we thank God for creating us in His own likeness and maintaining us this way. A recognition of this wonderfully uplifting divine fact lets in the light of Christ, Truth. It pierces the darkness of mortal thinking (and it doesn't matter what the challenge is), and it begins at once to obliterate everything unlike itself.  It restores harmony.  It sets us free. 



The Bitter and Sweet of Error's Deliquescence

                                              John Robert Howell

        Which is it:  a hair shirt or a silk shirt, shad roe or beluga caviar, agony or ecstasy?  A reader of Psalm 23 might easily conclude that the way of the righteous is pretty nice indeed.  The same reader of Mary Baker Eddy might find her margin heading on page 40 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures "Suffering inevitable", a good deal less enticing.  Christ Jesus said:  "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me...For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  (Matt 11:29-30)  Hmm, not too frightening.  Mrs. Eddy says:  "Jesus spares us not one individual experience if we follow his commands faithfully." (S&H 26:5-6)  That can be a "Maybe some other time" kind of statement to grapple with.

        So which is it?  "A paradox, a paradox/A most ingenious paradox!" (Gilbert and Sullivan, "The Pirates of Penzance)  Not really.  It is true Christ Jesus often presented with the bark on the challenges which await the potential disciple, as in "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."  (Luke 9:23)  And as a result of his uncompromising life and words "many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (John 6:66)  To paraphrase Thomas Paine, "The summer Christian and sunshine disciple will, in...crisis, shrink from the service of his Cause."

        But neither Christ Jesus nor Mrs. Eddy said it would be all one or the other.  Psalm 23 is a comforting promise.  It describes the pilgrim's respite from the conflict between the flesh and Spirit.  It offers the certainty of an interlude in the struggle from sense to Soul.  Until all is accomplished and the tumult has passed, permanent peace will not be ours, and "many are called, but few are chosen."  (Matt 22:14)  So, in short, putting off the old man and putting on the new involves both sufferings and triumphs.

        We might wish or hope that those three great trailblazers, Jesus, Paul, and Mary Baker Eddy, had done most of the heavy lifting and suffering for us and that we could proceed effortlessly in their giant footsteps like the child following good King Wencelas through the snow.  But our knowledge and demonstration of spiritual perfection do not arrive neatly preassembled in some one-off epiphany.  Our textbooks are much clearer than some of those risible instructions accompaning products from China, but each of us is still responsible for whatever it takes to achieve perfection in his or her individual experience.  Those of us who are in for the duration accept this.