Witnessing what God is doing

I was with a group of teen-aged campers a few miles up a rocky, wooded canyon.  We were playing a game that involved running, when one of the campers fell on some rocks and cried out that he had injured his knee.  As he lay on the ground with the others gathering around, I reminded him what Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian healer, says about accidents in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.  She writes, “Declare that you are not hurt and understand the reason why, and you will find the ensuing good effects to be in exact proportion to your disbelief in physics, and your fidelity to divine metaphysics, confidence in God as All, which the Scriptures declare him to be.”

I told this young man some things the Bible says that could help him understand the reason why he could not be hurt.  In the book of Genesis it says that God created man in His image and likeness.  Could God’s image be hurt? No!  It also says that God gave man dominion over all the earth.  That should include dominion over rocks shouldn’t it? Yes it does!  And, it says that God saw everything that he had made and that it was “very good”.  A very good creation does not include accidents and injury.  In the book of Psalms it tells us repeatedly that God loves us dearly and cares for us (see for example Psalms 23 and 91).  This loving care includes protection and healing from accidents and injury.


At this point, I ran out of inspiring ideas to share with this young man.  “What do I do now?”, I wondered.  I felt like the situation required that I say or do something!  But the thought came to me, “God, not you or your words, is what has power and is healing this situation.  Be quiet and watch.”  Obediently, I was still and quiet.  So were the other campers.  It was not an anxious or restless quiet, but a peaceful anticipation.  I don’t know what my young friend lying on the ground was feeling or thinking, but after a minute or so a smile spread across his face, his eyes opened, and jumping to his feet he said cheerfully, “Thank you, I’m alright!” – and he was!  The rest of our day was filled with activity and he participated freely.


This experience reminded me of the message from God given to us by the prophet Isaiah (chapter 43): “You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.  Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.  I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.”


Often it may appear that God is absent or not doing anything to help us.  God’s help isn’t always apparent, especially to those not looking for it.  Sometimes we have to stop our efforts to do something, become still, and trustfully watch for what God is doing.  This stillness is not doing nothing.  During this physical pause, one should be mentally alert to the truth of God's power and Allness and be confidently anticipating the appearance of the physical evidence of this truth.  I am grateful to know that there is a God and to have witnessed God’s saving power that afternoon.

Praying for Public Health and Safety

Does it help to pray when we hear of a public need for health and safety?  How can we pray if we are not directly involved, if we don't know who is involved, or even if we are unsure of the specific need?

Recently I was in the aisle seat on a plane flight when a flight attendant stopped next to me, leaned over, and, speaking to a man in the row behind me said “We need your help with a medical emergency.”  The man, who apparently they knew to be a medical doctor, got up and went forward in the cabin with the flight attendant.  I put aside what I had been doing and, without leaving my seat, I proceeded to help in the way that I could - to pray about the situation.

I didn’t know who needed help or what the problem was, but that didn’t matter.  Effective prayer isn’t about pleading with God or attempting to influence a situation.  Prayer-based treatment is about refuting the false testimony of material sense and being thoroughly persuaded in your own consciousness concerning the truth of God's presence and activity.  I learned this form of effective prayer from a book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy.

My prayer in this instance consisted of being clear in my thought that only good was going on right then, that no one was separated from God and God's love, and that because God is ever present and uninhibited, Life is ever present and uninhibited.  These are things that I believe must be true because God is all-powerful, all-presence, and all-law.  I examined my thought to make sure I was thoroughly persuaded of these truths.  This form of prayer is powerful - not because human thought wields any power, but because these truths come from and carry the power of the divine Mind, God.

Shortly, the pilot announced that we had a medical emergency and would be landing at the nearest airport.  After landing, two paramedics strolled onto the plane (not bringing a stretcher or any medical equipment), a women several rows in front of me stood up on her own, and the three of them left the plane.  The doctor came back to his seat and the plane took off for its scheduled destination. 

A flight attendant came with some forms to fill out about the incident.  The doctor told him that he wasn’t sure what the situation had been.  When he had first reached the patient, she was unconscious, had no pulse, and her blood pressure was so low it was difficult to measure.  He thought she had had a seizure.  However, very quickly, she revived.  She was so well that the doctor had hesitated to have the plane land, but others convinced him that as a precaution she should get off the plane as soon as possible.  

Did prayer make a difference in this situation?  I can't prove that it did, but neither can anyone prove that it didn't.  And when I hear news of people needing immediate help and comfort in some situation I will respond in the best way that I know how - with prayer!


Click here to read an inspiring article on how to respond with prayer to the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Happy Un-Birthday

A friend once asked me when my birthday was and I told her that it was April 1.  In America, this date is known as April Fool's Day and is a day when people try to fool each other with mis-information and other tricks.  My friend knew that I was kidding her, but today (April 1) she greeted me with an email birthday card - in Russian!

All fooling aside, we both knew that the reason I had given April 1 as my un-birthday, is because I refuse to commemorate or celebrating aging.  The greatest gift that we can give ourselves or another is to stop living and thinking from the limited perspective of an aging mortal and accept into consciousness our real spiritual identity as eternal children of God.

Jesus was giving this advice when he told the Jewish religious leader, Nicodemus: "Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."  Many will respond to this idea of re-birth just as incredulously as Nicodemus did. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?", he asked. (New Living Bible translation)

Jesus elaborated his point this way: "Unless a person submits to this original creation - the 'wind hovering over the water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life- it's not possible to enter God's kingdom.  When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch.  But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch- the Spirit- and becomes a living spirit." (The Message translation)

What are the advantages of exchanging the mortal view of existence for the spiritual perspective of our identity?  Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian healer and teacher wrote in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise.  Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand.  Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness."

This advice to turn away from measuring age and becoming conscious of the divine Mind's government has proven true in my own experience.  Today I am more active than ever before in athletics, outdoor adventures, and travel as well as carrying out all the usual daily tasks of business, home chores, and yard work.  

Anyone can put this age-free spiritual perspective into practice in their own experience.  Happy Un-Birthday!


Random events or the certainty of God's guidance?

Sea lions share a rock and enjoy the sun.
This week, the earth had a near-miss with an asteroid and a spectacular collision with a small meteor.  Events such as these are part of the human scene that seems to be filled with chance occurrences and random disasters.  Are we really just subject to random happenings or can we experience God's guidance and care in our lives?  I'm learning that as I turn to God and look to God to guide me and supply my needs that I see evidence of God's reliable government in my life.

This week, my business took me far from home for an extended period. One day, I had a few hours break to myself and decided to go on a hike at a nearby state park.  I prefer to have a companion when I hike, but I did not know anyone in the area.  After thinking about this, I decided that I could count on God to be my companion.  I didn't know what form this divine companionship would take - a warm feeling, some angel thoughts, perhaps an encounter with some friendly wildlife.  I just felt confident that I could count on God's presence and that it would be satisfying.

Just after I parked my car and took the first steps of my hike, another car pulled up.  The woman inside rolled down her window and asked, "Is there some place to hike here?".  I told her that there was a nice hike about 5 miles long.  "Do you mind if I go with you?", she asked, and she joined me on my hike.

She was not from this area and was looking for something to do while her companion attended a day-long meeting in the nearby community.  We found that we had many things in common - running, hiking, interest in spirituality, love of family, appreciation of natural beauty.  Our conversation was interesting and easy.  The three-hour hike felt like it was over very quickly.  Returning to our cars, we shook hands and departed our separate ways.

As I drove away and reflected on the experience, I couldn't help but marvel and give praise for how God brings elements of creation together to bless and meet one another's needs.  Some might say this is just an example of randomly occurring good, but I'm convinced that it's evidence of God's ever present guidance and care.  Thank you God!


"For the Lord God is a sun and shield.  The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."  Psalms 84

Riding with God down the road of life

In life, we are really in the back seat, not the driver's seat.  God is our trusted driver.  God knows the destination, the route, all the turns, and will drive us safely there.  This analogy gives me a great sense of peace about where my life is going.  I'm not dependent on chance.  I don't have to force my will.  I don't have to be fearful or anxious about what the year will bring.

Do I just ride along and stare out the window?  No.  Jesus's life is a guide for back-seat riders.  Perhaps foremost among his teachings are the Beatitudes.  I like to think of those as "beautiful attitudes" for back-seat riding.  As I ride into the new year, I'm contemplating these familiar instructions for happiness.  Below, I've listed the Beatitudes as they are recorded in the New Living Translation.  Another interesting rendition of them can be found in Eugene Peterson's translation, The Message).  Consider them with me and enjoy your ride!
"God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
          God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."

In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, Christmas is the gift we all need to receive!

Mass murders, like the recent one in Sandy Hook, are tragic and atrocious anytime they occur, but these acts seem especially heinous at Christmas time, a season focused on merriment and giving.  In the aftermath of this tragedy, people may not be feeling in a party mood, but the ideas and promises that Christmas originally represented were never more relevant to society and are gifts that we all may receive now.

Christmas is celebrated in various ways by people, but to Christians, Christmas first and foremost celebrates the birth of Christ Jesus.  One of the lessons Jesus taught was "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."  It may be humanly impossible to conceive of how families that have lost loved ones in this, or any of the other tragic shootings of the past, could be comforted, but that is not our task.  We have Jesus's assurance that our Father, God, will provide comfort.  When we remember that God is the all-powerful, all-wise creator of the universe, we know that no sadness is too profound for God to handle.

Christmas represents the appearance of the Christ to humanity.  From this appearance we learned of the eternality of life and the resurrecting power of the Christ.  Evil may seem to bring a human life to an untimely end, but we have Christ's promise that life is eternal and death only a temporary seeming.  Jesus demonstrated this in his own experience.  Like the innocent school children, this benevolent, wholly good man's life was cut short when he was brutally murdered in a sensational, public event.  The final outcome in Jesus's case was resurrection, triumph, and glory, and that will be the final outcome for all others as well.

Jesus also taught us how to respond to those that perpetrate these crimes - with forgiveness.  As he was being captured for what he knew would be his execution, he healed the injured ear of one of his captors and even in his final agony he said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."  Forgiveness of those that have done such wicked acts may seem humanly impossible, but forgiveness is not something that we force ourselves to do.  Forgiveness comes naturally when we recognize the Christian promise that nothing can separate us, or anyone, "from the love of Christ".

Finally, Jesus left us instructions on how to take meaningful action to defend ourselves and prevent further outbreaks of evil:  "Love one another" and "Watch and pray", he said.  Loving others will promote an atmosphere where hate cannot breed and develop.  Until this loving atmosphere becomes thoroughly pervasive, the directive to "watch and pray" directs us to not merely seek God's help (pray), but to "watch" - be actively alert to evil and exercise responsibility for taking the steps (human and spiritual) necessary to protect against it.

Our prayerful acknowledgement, acceptance, and use of these "Christmas gifts" will not only bring us comfort, but can help everyone to experience their blessings.  The true spirit of Christmas can bless us all!


21st Century Magi still find the Christ-babe


The Christmas story is an ongoing event, even now in the 21st century. Like the original event long ago in Bethlehem, today's Christmas stories go on largely unnoticed, witnessed only by "wisemen" discerning the appearance of a new star and willing to follow where it leads into foreign territory or watchful shepherds whose peaceful stillness enables them to hear an angel song.

I was delighted to come across one of these Christmas stories in a recent blog post titled "My hearts calendar".  The writer, Cathy Barney, tells of the heart-warming inspiration she finds in a seemingly simple and mundane activity - calling parents to remind them of their child's upcoming art class.  In this bustling world of days crammed full of tasks and endless to-do lists, who among us is spiritually alert enough to find a blessing in such a chore?  For most of us, there is no room at our "inns" to find mental or emotional space to savor such an activity or discern the angel song of hearts touching and coming together.  Cathy, a true 21st-century Magi, followed the leadings of her heart and found the Christ-babe in this manger of human contact. 

May we learn from Cathy's example and begin to discern amid the swirl and rush of our own overloaded holiday experiences these openly hidden opportunities to draw near and behold "him".


The Christmas Story ... and You!

December is the month for re-runs of favorite holiday television shows - "Its a Wonderful Life", "A Sesame Street Christmas", "Polar Express", and of course "A Christmas Carol", to name a few. We're all familiar with these shows, but many of them have lessons that are worth refreshing in our thought and repeating so that those that haven't seen them can be blessed by their message.

Although its not a classic on the same level as many of these television shows, I have a blog from a previous Christmas that I've already been re-running in my thought. It has an idea that I try to re-visit, explore, and make a part of my Christmas experience every year. I'd like to share it again.

The Christmas Story ... and you!
I've always loved the Christmas story, the story of the birth of Jesus recorded in the Bible (Matthew 2, Luke 2). The story tells of a bright star that wisemen from far away followed to Bethlehem, of angels that spoke and sang to shepherds watching their flocks that night, of there being no room at the inn so the newborn baby was laid in a manger, of a wicked king who tried to locate and kill the baby boy. Did these events really happen? Some scholars don't think so.

I can tell you that the Christmas story really happened - I was there! No, I wasn't in Bethlehem in 4 BC. But the Christmas story isn't tied to a year in the calendar or a place on the globe. The Christmas story is about the appearance of the Christ-idea in our own consciousness.

For many of us, when it comes to the Christ, there is truly no room at the inn. We are so busy 24/7 with careers, family, and entertainment that we hardly have time to eat and sleep, let alone be aware of the Christ. But the Christ comes anyway, to each of us, continually. We don't recognize the Christ or even realize that it is in our experience because ... well, its like a baby in a manger - out of the radar of our attention and seemingly irrelevant and insignificant. So the Christ comes as little baby events in our day - the bird singing outside your bedroom window before dawn, the sales clerk or waitress or passing stranger that smiles at you, the bright sunshine that warms you or gentle breeze that cools, the empty parking space right where you need it, and yes, the fresh snow decorating the bare tree branches.

If we are wisemen, we are alert to the signs of Christ's coming. We behold the star and are willing to leave the comfort and convenience of our lives to follow where the star leads us, even into foreign lands - new ways of thinking and acting. We bring gifts to honor this new birth: gifts of giving up of our old ways of thinking and giving our commitment to work and follow in a new way. With this attitude we successfully follow the star to the young child.

Watchful shepherds are awake and listening. We are watchful shepherds if we don't let our thought be lulled into stupefaction by the gross materialism and sensualism of the age. Watchfully guarding the innocence of our being, our spiritual identity, we will hear and heed the angel messages that announce the presence of the Christ.

There is an evil king in our lives too. In the Bible story, Herod, the king imposed on the Jews by Roman authority, saw the young child as his rival and sought to slay him. Today, the false king that would eliminate the Christ from our experience appears in may forms - the glamour and self-centered greed of modern society, the claims of medical practice that would limit or deny the healing Christ, the intellictualism or scientific materialism that says the Bible is archaic, inaccurate, or irrelevant. Like the wisemen in the Bible story, we must recognize the intent of these kings and not let them interfere with our embracing of the Christ.

What if we have room at the inn, are wisemen and shepherds, and foil the evil king? Then the Christ enters our experience and true Christmas comes! And all I can say about the true Christmas is WOW! (Click here to read one of my "Christmas" experiences).

Praising God brings joy and healing!

One day, I had a headache, so I stayed home from work and prayed... and prayed and prayed and prayed.... 

Hours later, I was still not feeling any better.  I stopped "praying", which at that point was really just me doing a lot of talking to myself, and I became still.  "What should I do?", I asked.  I sat still and silent for a few moments and just listened.  Then a thought came to me: "Maybe you can't change how your body feels, but nothing can stop you from rejoicing and loving God".

So, I put on some music, some songs that praised God.  I sat on the floor and sang along.  At first I was just singing softly, but gradually, I raised my voice to it's loudest volume and just belted out the words.  I felt my heart lift in inspiration...something in me started to glow... a warm surge of joy came over me... and then suddenly, without any warning, I sneezed so hard that I fell over backwards!

I sat upright again and thought, "Wow, where did that come from?"  Then I realized that the headache was gone.  I felt perfect... and the headache never returned!

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:"  Psalms 92


This post was inspired by Jake Lowe's post at: http://jlowecs.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/its-ok-go-ahead-and-laugh/

Acknowledging the Christ in consciousness


Conflicts seem to occur at all levels in life - between family members, classmates and teammates, co-workers, and especially between politicians!  While debate can be healthy, personality characteristics like ego, ignorance, prejudice, selfishness, stubbornness, and pride cause bitterness and make productive resolution of problems difficult.  What can we do besides raising our voices to join in the shouting?

I've found that acknowledging the presence of the Christ in every one's consciousness helps bring peace and resolution to conflicts.

What is the Christ?  In her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy describes the Christ as "a divine influence ever present in human consciousness and repeating itself, coming now as was promised aforetime,
To preach deliverance to the captives [of sense],
And recovering of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty them that are bruised." (p. xi)
I have found that when I am alert to this divine influence ever present in my consciousness and acknowledge that this influence is repeating itself in every one's consciousness as well, that people respond to this Christ message.

For example, I used to coach a soccer team of middle-school kids. One day on the practice field one of the players, while going for the ball, kicked a teammate. The kicked player didn't think this was an accident and a fight broke out between the two. I separated them and told one of the players to go sit on the bench while I talked to the other. This kid was almost as big as I was and I struggled to hold him as I tried to reason with him. He kept saying "I want to fight him!" while I gave him all my coaching platitudes like "Hey, it was an accident. You're teammates. Save your energy for the game". None of this calmed him down.

Then I noticed that this player was wearing a chain with a cross. I don't know what this meant to him - whether it was a gang symbol, a religious symbol, or just a piece of jewelry, but it reminded me of Eddy's statement - that the Christ is a divine influence ever present in every one's consciousness and repeating itself. Immediately I felt at peace and these words popped out of my mouth - "I know you're brave enough to fight him. But I think you're even braver then that. I think you're brave enough to go over there, tell him you're sorry this incident happened, and shake his hand." 

The player stopped struggling with me and looked at me in surprise. I let go of him. Then, without another word he walked across the field to the bench, spoke to his teammate, and shook his hand. That was the end of it.

My recognition that the Christ was present in the consciousness of all three of us resolved this confrontation. This recognition opened my thought to the right words to say and allowed both players to respond to the spirit of those words. Now whenever I deal with other people, whether family, friends, or strangers, or whenever I think about our leaders or other world leaders, I remind myself that the Christ is speaking to every human consciousness - and repeating itself!

 

Finding freedom from anxiety by knowing the truth

Would you be anxious about riding in this cable car?  The cables don't seem to be supported by anything solid and you can't see where the ride ends! 

Chances are that you wouldn't be worried.  You would be confident that the cables were supported by strong, well-engineered towers and you would trust that there must be an interesting, and perhaps even sunny, destination at the end of the ride.

Is it possible to feel as certain and at peace about other aspects of life?  Yes!  Jesus assured us: "Know the truth, and the truth will make you free" and he proved his words by walking away unharmed from threatening crowds, stilling a storm, feeding large crowds with only a few fish and loaves of bread, and even obtaining money needed to pay taxes from a fish's mouth.

What is the truth that will make us free?  Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian healer and the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "The exterminator of error [anxiety, fear, inharmony of any kind] is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind - called devil or evil - is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality" (page 469).

It is not enough to simply have read and be aware of this truth.  We must consciously know this truth, feel the certainty of this truth in our hearts, and consistently base our thoughts and actions on this truth. 

Here is a recent example from my experience of how this truth frees us from anxiety.  An important part on my car was broken and replaced by the dealer's service department.  A few months later, a mechanic at another garage told me the part was broken and needed replacing.  I took my car back to the dealer and told them what the other mechanic had said.  They examined the part and said that the mechanic was mistaken and that nothing was wrong with the part.  Several months later, again, a mechanic at another garage told me the part was definitely broken.  Hoping to resolve this issue once and for all, I called the service manager at the dealership that had originally replaced this part and left a polite message asking him to call me about a service problem.  The day went by and the service manager never returned my call.  I called again the next morning, and after verifying that the service manager had been there the previous day and was there that day, I left another message for him to call me. 

By mid-afternoon, my phone call had not been returned and I was feeling anxious about how this situation would be resolved as well as angry about the possible incompetence and apparent lack of customer service at the dealership.  Then I remembered Eddy's statement about God being the only Mind.  I thought, "Either this statement is true or it is not.  If its true, it is true about every situation."  I pondered what it meant that God, good was the only Mind and that evil was not truth, not reality.  I concluded that if God is the only Mind, then intelligence, fairness, courtesy, and competence must be present and must be expressed and experienced by all the parties involved.  It took some mental struggling, but I eventually felt the certainty of these truths.  I stopped ruminating over the human picture and just held in my thought this truth about God, good being the only Mind.  My anxiety disappeared and I went about my business confident that there would be a proper resolution of this problem.

About 5 p.m., the service manager called.  We had a brief, pleasant conversation in which he expressed his concern about the problem and we set up a time to bring my car in to be examined.  When I arrived at the dealership, the service manager promptly met me, and put my car on a lift.  A mechanic examined the part and announced that it did indeed need replacing.  The service manager said he was embarrassed, apologized for the delay I had experienced in getting this problem resolved, and gave me a loaner car to use while they replaced the part at no charge.

The harmonious resolution of this minor problem taught me a larger life-lesson.  The foundation and outcome of events may seem obscure and uncertain to our human senses, but by knowing the truth about God and man, anxiety can be removed and replaced with a sense of certainty, patience, and confidence that support us while we wait to witness the good that is God's will being done.

Our Connection to God

It was the seventh and last day of our backpacking trip in the Sierras.  For the first six days, I had felt strong, energetic, and healthy, but as I picked up my pack on the morning of the seventh day, I felt a pain in my side.  The pain was in an area of my body where I had never felt pain before.  As I hiked down the last few miles of the trail to our car, the pain increased, my energy wained, and I had trouble retaining my food.

I was tempted to wonder what this pain was and why I was experiencing it, but a thought came to me: "Don't go there.  This is not about muscles, altitude, or food.  This is about your connection to God."

Then, I recalled that the previous day there had been some friction between me and another in our group.  Although the situation had been resolved, I had continued to ruminate about the incident instead of letting it go.  "Maybe", I thought, "this problem is the result of letting my thought dwell on that incident.... or maybe the problem is caused by thoughts and feelings the other person is harboring about me."  Again, the thought came to me: "Don't go there.  Inharmonious human thought, your own or another's, cannot touch you.  God is the only cause of your being and God is causing good.  All that matters is your connection to God."

That assurance, that there was no physical or mental power that could harm me, relieved my fear.  I tried to focus my thought on my connection to God.  The Bible tells us that God created us in His image, gave us dominion over all the earth, and that everything about our God-created identity is very good.  These thoughts helped me to complete the hike, but I was still not well.

As we drove home, I lay in the backseat of our car listening to hymns praising God and describing our relationship with hymn.  A hymn called "Satisfied" by Mary Baker Eddy grabbed my attention.  It spoke about God's goodness and love for man and God's ability to raise man up in the face of any difficulty.  As I contemplated these ideas, I felt the strength and compulsion to sit up.  I did and remained sitting for the rest of our drive. That night, I slept well, and the next day I ate normally and felt fine. 

The physical problem disappeared so completely without any lingering traces that at first I dismissed this experience.  "It was nothing", I thought.  But then I remembered - it wasn't about overcoming a physical or mental cause, it was about my connection to God.  Through facing this challenge I had a renewed and strengthened sense of my connection to God, of God's love and care for me.  I am grateful for that!

"Satisfied" by Mary Baker Eddy

It matters not what be thy lot.
So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,
Whate'er betide.

And of these stones, or tyrants' thrones,
God able is
To raise up seed -- in thought and deed --
To faithful His.

Aye, darkling sense, arise, go hence!
Our God is good.
False fears are foes -- truth tatters those,
When understood.

Love looseth thee, and lifteth me,
Ayont hate's thrall:
There Life is light, and wisdom might,
And God is All.

The centuries break, the earth-bound wake,
God's glorified!
Who doth His will -- His likeness still --
Is satisfied.

Connections

I was unsettled by the news that a friend of mine had passed on.  He was a very spiritual person with a strong connection to God.  "Why did this turn out this way?", I asked myself.  I puzzled over this question.

That same day I was trying to set up a new internet connection.  I had followed the directions carefully step-by-step - several times!  I had called technical support three times and waited on hold each time to connect to a person, but no one had an answer that would complete my internet connection.

Feeling frustrated and disillusioned, I finally stopped what I was trying to do and sat quietly.  "Please God", I prayed, "help me to understand about my friend.... and by the way, a little help with this internet problem would be welcome too."

I sat silently for a few moments.  A sense of peace came over me.  Then the thought came to again work through the steps for connecting to the internet.  I had already tried these steps at least a half-dozen times without success, but since this impulse seemed to come as a result of my prayer, I was obedient to the suggestion. 

To my surprise, the steps worked this time and a connection was successfully established to the internet!  I was grateful for this progress.  "Thank you, God!", I thought,... but then I couldn't help adding: "God, I am grateful for the internet connection, but what I wanted most of all was an answer about my friend." 

Almost immediately, words came to my thought as if God was speaking to me.  "I don't understand your question", the words said, "He is fine.  Right here with me now, like he always has been."

I realized then that death and the break in connections it seems to bring, is a false impression created by our human perspective.  We are always connected to God and our spiritual relationships with God's ideas.  These connections don't rust away or become torn apart.  They are permanent connections established and maintained by God.  This insight brought me peace ... and gratitude for our God-given connections.


It's Only a Lie

I asked a friend of mine what the most important thing was that he had learned about Christian healing.  He replied, "It's only a lie."  "What do you mean?", I asked in puzzlement.  "I mean", he said, "that the most important thing that I've learned is that any problem that the material senses present to me, any problem that I see or hear or feel, is only a lie.  I don't worry about how to humanly correct the problem or change the situation, I just understand that the difficulty I am being confronted with is only a lie that does not and cannot really exist in God's kingdom."

Soon after this conversation, I had an opportunity to prove my friend's statement for myself.  On my way to a weekend hockey tournament, I began to feel the symptoms of a sore throat developing.  This was not good!  I needed my full strength and complete health to participate in the games we would be playing.  So, every time I thought about a sore throat, I reminded myself that "It's only a lie".  I didn't just say these words to myself.  I pondered and understood their meaning. I refused to be discouraged or frightened by what the situation appeared to be.

The Bible tells us that God made man (including me) in His image and likeness, gave man dominion over all, and that man was "very good".  If this was the truth about me, than any suggestion that I could be sick and weak must be a lie.  The Bible also cautions us to be alert to lies.  Jesus said that the devil (evil) was "a liar" and advised us: "Know the truth and the truth will make you free." and in Deuteronomy it says: "Take care, or you will be seduced into turning away, serving other gods, and worshiping them."  Believing that I could be subject to illness, that there are powers in the world other than God that can take away my God-given goodness, would be serving other gods.

I persisted in understandingly acknowledging that the symptoms of a sore throat were only a lie.  Sometime the next day I realized that the symptoms were gone.  I was healthy and strong throughout the weekend and I remain that way.

A Great Full Grateful Heart

The Thanksgiving sign read "A Greatful Heart".

"Hmm...", I thought," I think they meant to write "A Grateful Heart".  Or did they? 

I've been thinking about what a great, full heart might be like.  "Great" means large in dimensions or number, considerable in magnitude".  "Heart" means the part nearest the center; the most essential part of a body or system; center of activity".  I think many people would agree that the essential part of one's being and the center of their activity should be kept large and full of God.  This can be seen as a definition of both a great, full heart and a grateful heart!  Grateful means "appreciative of benefits received; willing or glad to acknowledge and repay, or give thanks for".  We have a grateful heart when our being and activity are large and full of appreciative acknowledgement of what God has done and is doing.

I still had a puzzle about being grateful.  In Genesis it says that man is created as the "image and likeness" of God.  This means that the God-given qualities that man expresses must also be qualities that God expresses.  If having a grateful heart is natural and good, it must be part of man's identity as the image of God and therefore God must have a grateful heart.

What is God grateful for?  If we think of being grateful as acknowledging and appreciating good, we find a description of God being grateful in Genesis where it says "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."  As God looked at his creation he acknowledged and appreciated the goodness of every part of it.

These thoughts have expanded my sense of Thanksgiving and inspire me to have a great, full, grateful heart everyday:  to make the essential part of my being and the center of my activity to be maintaining a large and full view of everything as made by God and being very good.  This is a grateful heart!

Obedience to the First Commandment - "No Other Gods" - brings healing

When God gave His laws, known as the 10 Commandments, to Moses to share with the Children of Israel, the very first law that he gave was "You shall have no other Gods".  While at some might interpret this to simply mean that we shouldn't worship other gods, the Bible makes clear that God is the only god, supreme and all-powerful.  This commandment can then be seen as a statement or promise to us that there are no other gods.

Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian writer, healer, and author of the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, writes "The First Commandment is my favorite text".  She counseled that we should always be alert and clear in our thought that there are no other gods beside the one God.  In another of her books, No and Yes, she writes, "God's law is in three words, 'I am All;' and this perfect law is ever present to rebuke any claim of another law."

One night, I awoke with my skin feeling painful.  I turned on the light and found that red spots were welling up on several areas of my body.  Instead of wondering what these symptoms might be called or what course the problem might take, I immediately thought "This is just a claim that there is another god or another law or power that can touch or influence me."

I got out of bed so that I could focus my thought on understanding the truth of one God.  I began studying a weekly Bible Lesson that included the story of Jericho, the fortress city that blocked the route of Children of Israel to the promised land.  Obeying God's direction, the Israelites marched silently around the city once a day for six days and then seven times on the seventh day.  On completion of the seventh circuit, the walls of Jericho, which appeared to be so strong and massive, fell and the Israelites were able to conquer the city.  This story assured me that now as then, God was supreme and all-powerful.  And because I believed that God makes me healthy, I knew that there was no other god, power, or disease that could make me unhealthy.

Although the physical symptoms had not changed, as a result of my prayer and study I felt at peace, confident that I was under God's all-powerful care, and certain that nothing could harm me.  Because it was still the middle of the night, I went to bed and slept peacefully.

When I woke in the morning, I felt fine.  I looked at my skin and found that it appeared normal and natural.  There was no trace of the symptoms I had experienced the night before.  In fact, the only evidence I had that I hadn't dreamed the whole incident was that I was still wearing the sweatshirt that I had put on when I got up during the night to study.  My obedience to the First Commandment, my refusal to accept any other gods, had brought me a quick and complete healing!


The photograph at the top is a close-up of a portion of the painting "Star Gods" by Navajo artist David Chethlahe Paladin

The Christ shows the way

We were lost....

After two days of backpacking through the glorious autumn colors of the Colorado Rockies, My daughter and I had lost the trail.  Up until a few hours before, the trail had been easy to follow and we rarely had to check our map.  But then we had to cross a stretch of ranch land where the trail wasn't maintained or marked and the cattle had obscured our route with paths of their own making.  We kept heading in the general direction that we thought the trail should be going, but because of the rolling topography, dense patches of trees, and occasional small herds of cattle that we had to circumvent, we had a growing sense that we were wandering.  As the sun began to set, we came to the edge of the ranch land to what we knew was the beginning of a wide stretch of forest.  Although this wasn't an ideal camping spot, we did not want to enter the forest in the waning light and with no trail to follow, so we stopped. 


In spite of our situation, I did not feel panicky or overly concerned.  I had seen proof throughout my life that God takes care of us and I knew that the Christ was always present to guide us.  In her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian healer and the discoverer of Christian Science, describes the Christ as "'God with us,' - a divine influence, ever present in human consciousness".  As we prepared to camp for the night, I listened quietly for this divine influence to guide me.  I didn't plead for God to help or show us the way.  Instead I calmly examined my understanding of the facts:  God is good;  God knows me and loves me;  God directs my activities through His Christ, the power of God's presence coming to man.  I understood these facts.  In a little while, I felt the urge to walk a short distance to a spot at the edge of the woods.  There, I found the trail that we had been looking for.  The way to proceed in the morning was clear!



This Christ or "divine influence, ever present in human consciousness" is much more than just a helpful guide for hikers.  The Christ is available and ready to show each one of us the path of life, to guide our daily activities, and to help us find the way that God has laid out for us whether we feel lost in a career, a relationship, or the entire direction of our life.  The Christ is there to guide you!

Stop Swatting Bugs and Experience the Beauty and Harmony of God's Government

Do you want to experience a day where you feel at peace and witness the beauty and harmony of God's government?  Then stop swatting bugs and pay attention!

Let me explain what I mean by describing an experience I had this summer.

The mist in the valley below began to glow softly in the pre-dawn light.  I was sitting on the edge of a high cliff with a friend.  We had risen very early, while it was still dark, and hiked to this spot to get a bird's eye view of the sunrise.  As we sat there, I listened attentively as the wind whispered through the trees and birds began singing.  An owl tooted, frogs chorused, and a woodpecker added some percussion.  Lights twinkled in some of the farmhouses in the valley somewhere below a cock crew.

I was enchanted by the spectacle of the dawning day, but I noticed that my friend wasn't paying attention.  She was busy swatting at bugs!  "When is the sunrise going to happen?" she asked.  "It is happening!", I replied.  My friend swatted bugs for a few more moments and then announced, "I think I'll head back to bed now".  She stood and walked back toward camp.


After she left, the wind strengthened and swirled, causing leaves and branches to dance.  The sun, approaching from behind a ridge, began to paint light across the clouds.  Finally, the sun's orb burst above the ridge like a firecracker.  As I sat watching the growing light, a curious deer peered through the brush at me.

My witnessing of that morning dawn filled me with joy and a sense of God's harmony and beauty being expressed all around me.  I was sorry that my friend had been so distracted by bugs that she had failed to observe and experience this same feeling.

This experience teaches a lesson about how to approach every day.  God's beauty and harmony are always present and active and God's plan of goodness is always going on.  We can witness this, but we will fail to if we let ourselves get distracted by swatting bugs - focusing our attention on human concerns such as feeling that we are personally responsible for the creation of good, complaining or ruminating about the behavior of others, or thinking of ourselves as under attack from powers apart from God.


Just today, many "bugs" clamored for my attention - phone calls, difficult relationships, and too many tasks on my to-do list.  Instead of letting myself get frazzled, I refrained from swatting at these bugs.  I don't mean that I didn't answer the phone, deal with relationships, or do my chores - I did.  But I didn't let these bugs distract me from bearing witness to God's goodness around me - the helpful customer service rep, finding a well of patience when it was needed, progress made on a task.  Each small blessing that I consciously witnessed and acknowledged added to my sense of the presence of God's government.  Recognizing the presence of God's goodness and refusing to "swat bugs" enabled me to finish the day feeling happy and fresh!



A Lesson in Peacemaking

I was working in a camping program for teenagers when I learned a lesson about peacemaking.  One evening, we were going to hold a church testimony meeting around the campfire.  When it was time to start, a camper was joking around and had some trouble settling down and getting serious for our meeting.  I shushed him in what I intended to be a friendly, kidding-way.  He quieted down, and the meeting proceeded.  Later, as we were all heading to bed, I was walking by the camper’s tent when I heard one of his friends say to him, “Colin sure was angry with you this evening.  He glared at you all through the testimony meeting.”  Of course this was not the case at all – I had felt no anger or impatience and had not given the incident any further thought!

As I went to bed, I thanked God for revealing the need to heal misperceptions about this incident.  I prayed that my good intentions could not be misunderstood and that I would have the opportunity to correct the situation.  Two thoughts came to me in response to my prayers: 
        1)   Because God had revealed the need for peacemaking to me, I could trust that God would also supply to opportunity to resolve the situation. 
         2)   I had to be alert to recognize this opportunity and to be obedient and act when God presented the opportunity to me.

The next morning at breakfast, I found myself alone with the camper I had shushed the evening before.  I recognized that this was an opportunity to speak to him, but I also felt hesitant to speak.  I was tempted to remain silent and not bring up the incident.  I found myself thinking: “It’s forgotten and in the past, don’t make a big deal about it”.  However, I remembered that part of the answer to my prayer the evening before had been the directive that I needed to be obedient and act when the opportunity to make peace presented itself.

I was obedient!  I spoke up and told the camper that I was not angry with him, that I had been trying to kid with him when I shushed him the evening before and that I hoped my words and actions were not misunderstood.  He replied that he had thought I was kidding with him, but that he hadn’t been sure.  Our discussion cleared the air on this incident.  I was grateful that the situation was corrected.

This experience taught me that God reveals to us discords that need harmonizing and that God gives us the opportunity to take corrective action.  In turn, it is our responsibility to be alert to recognize the opportunities that God gives us to be peacemakers and to be obedient in acting on these opportunities.

Praying for Protection from Flu


Can prayer protect us from the flu?  Praying can seem like a daunting task if we think of our prayers as pleas for God to do something about a power apart from God that is able to run it's own course.  But effective prayer is possible when we realize that disease isn't what it appears to be and that our prayerful task is the activity of listening intently for God to reveal the truth of God's creation and kingdom.  Let me give you an example of this.

Many years ago, spots appeared and spread over my young son's body.  The school nurse instructed me to keep him away from other children and to call the county health department.  The person I spoke with at the health department asked many questions about the symptoms my son was experiencing.  They declared that this was a disease that was going around the area and described to me all the additional symptoms my son would experience over the next several days.

Rather than simply accept this authoritative prediction from the health department, My wife and I prayed to learn what God would tell us about our son's true condition.  I don't remember the specifics of my prayer, but I recall that I listened quietly and intently for inspiration from God and contemplated the truths I knew about God and man as revealed in The Bible and explained in a book that helps me understand the Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

My quiet listening brought me a conviction that God is good and was always caring for my son.  Also, I felt certain that no power apart from God could touch or influence my son in any way.  I then found this statement of Eddy's to be true: "Be thoroughly persuaded in your own mind of the truth...and you will be the victor."  The spots faded from my son's body and in about two days no trace of them remained.  During this entire period, my son felt fine, played happily, and experienced no other symptoms of disease.

The school nurse examined my son again and said he no longer needed to be isolated from other children.  I also called the health department back as they had requested.  I spoke with the same person that I had originally.  They asked if the symptoms had progressed as they predicted.  I told them that none of the predicted symptoms had appeared.  There was silence on the phone line for several moments, then the person at the health department said, "Well, I guess it wasn't what I thought it was."

The health department worker's statement was more true than she realized.  Disease is never what human opinion thinks it is.  Eddy states: "All disease is the result of education, and disease can carry its ill-effects no farther than mortal mind maps out the way. ... Truth handles the most malignant contagion with perfect assurance."  The Biblical authority for this last statement is Jesus's proclamation, "Know the truth and the truth will make you free."

This experience demonstrates how we can respond to news reports of flu.  Rather than passively accepting human opinions of how this outbreak will spread, we can calmly turn in prayer to listen to the truth that God is revealing to us about the health and strength that he is imparting to his creation.  This sincere, prayerful, listening activity can protect ourselves and our communities.

God and Geology

Sometimes people are surprised when they learn that I am both a geologist and a Christian.  This is because they assume that physical science is somehow in conflict with the idea of God being the only cause and creator.  This blog is not about the theories of creationism vs evolution.  I don't debate ideas.  I only report my personal experience. I have found the laws and theories that the science of Geology is based on to be important to my daily work as a geologist.  But, I have also found in my work that it indispensable to listen to what God is saying about His creation.  Here is one of many experiences I've had during my career which illustrate the advantage of listening to God.

A coal mining company encountered some severe mining conditions in an area of their underground mine.  The conditions were unsafe and costly to mine.  The viability of the mine was threatened.  A consulting geologist visited the mine, but he could not explain the cause of the geologic features or predict the location and prevalence of these features within the remaining mine reserve.

The company asked if I could help them.  Prior to my visit to the mine, they sent me photos, maps, and drilling records of the area where they were encountering the problems.  I examined this information, but my extensive geologic training and experience did not provide any answers.  I put the geologic information aside and quietly prayed.  I did not request anything from God.  In accordance with Jesus's promise, "Know the truth and the truth will make you free", my prayers were an affirmation of the truth as I have learned it in the Bible and another book that helps me understand the Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.  I acknowledged that God created and governed all, that God is all-knowing.  Because, as the Bible explains, man is the image and likeness of God, we can always have the information that is humanly needed by listening quietly and humbly to God.

As I sat quietly listening, an idea came.  It was an idea you will never find in a geology text book.  I had never heard of this idea before or since.  God was the sole source of the idea.  I looked again at the information the company had sent me and found that using this new idea, I could have predicted all the areas where they encountered problems.  I then made a map predicting the boundaries of the area of bad mining conditions.

Later that week, I visited the mine and gave them my map and the explanation for their problems.  They were skeptical at first - this was a new idea.  However, when we went into the mine and visited the problem area, it was clear that the idea could be used to correctly delineate the area of severe mining conditions as well as predict where else on their property these conditions could be present.  This explanation not only helped the company mine that area of their property, but allowed them to successfully expand their mine into adjacent areas.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science and the author of the book that I referred to earlier, understood how a knowledge of God could bring practical benefits to any aspect of our human experience.  She wrote "A knowledge of the Science of being develops the latent abilities and possibilities of man.  It extends the atmosphere of thought, giving mortals access to broader and higher realms.  It raises the thinker into his native air of insight and perspicacity."
  

Living by God's Word Instead of Turning Stones to Bread

One of the statistics that this blog site records is the word or phrase that visitors were searching on when they followed a link to this blog.  For the past year, the number one search phrase was “turning stones to bread”.

I wondered why so many people were interested in turning stone to bread.  Could it be the state of the economy?  Are people with financial or employment needs recalling that Jesus said something about turning stones to bread and seeing this as a possible solution for their situation?

The idea of turning stones to bread was actually the devil’s suggestion to Jesus when he was in the wilderness without food and feeling hungry (see Matthew, chapter 4).  “If you are really the son of God”, said the devil, “you can quench your hunger by turning these stones to bread”.  Jesus didn’t deny that he was the son of God or that he had the power to turn stones to bread, but he refused to follow the devil’s suggestion.  Instead he said, “Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word from God.”

What did Jesus mean by his response?  Don’t we turn to God in prayer to accomplish some practical healing result?  Are we attempting to turn stones to bread when we pray for our human needs to be met, to have the nutritional and financial resources we need, to have our health and strength restored?  Is this the wrong approach?

I had an insight on this recently when I awoke one night with the symptoms of a cold.  I’ve learned through experience that I can turn to God to restore and maintain my health, so I immediately began praying.  However, my prayer wasn’t a plea for God to restore my health.  Although I didn’t think of it at the time, perhaps praying to turn a sick human body into a healthy human body would have been akin to attempting to turn stones to bread.  Instead, my prayers consisted of quietly contemplating God’s word – the truths about God and man attested to in the Bible.  I thought about the Bible’s assurance that God loves man.  The prophet Jeremiah quotes God as saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I made you.”   As I thought about these and other comforting words of God, the symptoms of a cold disappeared.  The next morning I was strong and healthy and I have remained so.

Could this experience be an example of what Jesus was teaching us when he said that we live by every word that comes from God?  Perhaps he was teaching us to find solutions by letting our consciousness dwell on the promises and truth’s found in God’s word instead of focusing our efforts on changing a human condition.
  
How would a person facing financial problems apply this idea?  Instead of pleading with God to provide a job or money, one’s prayers could acknowledge the continuous abundance of God’s provision for his creation.  In Psalms (chapter 36) it reminds us: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God!  The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.”  As we let our thought dwell on this steadfast love God has for us, God’s guidance and provision for our human needs will appear.  We have no need to attempt to turn stones to bread!

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Follow these links to find additional ideas on turning stones to bread:
Some thoughts on turning stones to bread
Resisting the temptation to turn stones to bread
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