Gone fishin’

July 9, 2017

That’s the sign the disciples put up after Jesus’ crucifixion.  It was the only way they could think of to cope with the fear, sorrow, and confusion of that awful event. They were soon to learn that Jesus had already equipped them with what they needed to turn those sad feelings around.

They’d fished all night and caught nothing.  Then a stranger on the shore suggested they move their nets to the other side of the boat.  Doing so, there were so many fish their net was in danger of breaking.  Had the fish been there all along and they just weren’t paying attention?

That same “stranger” had, several years earlier, turned several fishes into enough to feed five thousand.  Was that the case now?  They were struggling to remember what they had learned: “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” (John 6:27)

Jumping from the boat, they swam to shore to greet the stranger.  It was Jesus, whom they thought was long gone.  But he had earlier said of himself, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (ibid v. 36) They had forgotten his promise.  They had forgotten his commitment to them.

But it all came flooding back that morning on that shore.  Everything he had taught them about God’s infinite Fatherhood and the necessity of worshipping Him in spirit and truth; of eternal life and the kingdom of heaven on earth; of doing to one’s neighbor as one hoped to receive; and of loving each other as he had loved them: it was all fresh and new and finally real.

During Jesus’ brief ministry he had been as a shepherd to all that yearned for salvation.  He had preached and healed and loved.  Now it was the disciples’ turn.  With this brief command, “feed my sheep,” he put his precious followers into their care. They finally understood what that meant.

That historical morning is worth celebrating, don’t you think?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

You’re kidding, right?

June 30, 2017

That’s what the Chaldeans and astrologers said to King Nebuchadnezzar. He’d had a dream and wanted it to be interpreted.  But the catch was that he couldn’t remember the dream.  He thought his court smart guys should not only be able to tell him what the dream meant, but what he’d dreamt in the first place.  And they said, it can’t be done, nobody can do it, so you don’t have the right to ask.  (see Daniel 2:1-45)

But Daniel had a different viewpoint.  He humbly knew that his own sense of things wasn’t up to the task but he was quite clear that God could determine both the dream and its meaning.  And he told King Nebuchadnezzar so.  Sure enough, God not only revealed the dream but its explanation as well.  Daniel rejoiced: “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his.”

The Bible is full of those kinds of stories.

Naaman came to Elisha to be healed of leprosy.  Expecting to receive royal treatment, he was instead told to dip himself in Jordan seven times. Storming off in a rage, he said, “you’re kidding, right?” However, his lieutenant encouraged him to go to the river, and sure enough “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2nd Kings 5: 1-15)

When walking through a huge crowd, a woman seeking healing reached out for Jesus’ robe.  Jesus asked his disciples, “who touched me?”  Their response was “you’re kidding, right?  The multitude is thronging you and you are asking about one touch?”  But Jesus knew that healing had occurred and the woman stood forth and explained how her hemorrhage simply stopped after her contact with him. (Mark 5: 25-34)

One time Jesus asked his disciples to feed all of those who had come to hear him preach – more than 5000 – rather than sending them back to their own homes hungry.  Their response? “you’re kidding, right?”  No, he wasn’t kidding. So he proceeded to do what he had asked them to do. Not only was everyone filled, they even had twelve baskets of leftovers. (Matt 14: 15-21)

On his way to the bed of a very sick little girl, Jesus was told that she had died, so there was no need to come. His response was that she was only sleeping, and he would come to awaken her.  The mourners said, “you’re kidding, right?” and they laughed him to scorn.  But the Master was true to his word. He restored her life and returned her to her delighted parents. (Luke 8: 41, 42, 49-56)

You never need to fear that health and holiness and salvation are too far out of your reach.  Jesus wasn’t kidding when he healed and saved and resurrected.  His power – the Christ – came from God.  It was ever present then, and it is still present now.  And you can count on it.

No kidding!

Read here for more examples.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Give a fish or teach to fish

September 6, 2015

You’ve heard the adage: give a person a fish and they eat today; teach them to fish and they’ll eat every day.  It’s a good plan most of the time.  But you’ll recall that there are stories in the Bible of Jesus doing both, and both are important.

There are several instances in which Jesus fed thousands of people with just a few fishes.  Most of the people gathered probably already knew how to fish, and maybe even made their living doing so.  But they were hungry then and there, and Jesus, through understanding his heavenly Father’s abundant provision, fed each one of them.  And not just fish but bread too.  There were even leftovers.

Jesus was always meeting the need of the moment whether it was healing the sick, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, or encouraging the downtrodden.  And he expected nothing in return, not even gratitude.  He simply gave, and gave graciously.  It was his way of sharing the good news of Immanuel, or God with us, promised by Isaiah several centuries earlier (7:14).

At the end of his ministry, after his resurrection, he directed his disciples to shift their nets from one side of the boat to the other after they had fished all night in vain.  It was actually counter intuitive for these trained fishermen to do this, but they obeyed and found their nets overflowing.  This was the kind of teaching Jesus had provided to his closest followers throughout his time with them.  He challenged them to look at the things they thought they knew and perhaps took for granted in a different and deeper way.

Just as Jesus didn’t accept the outward appearance of things as the final verdict, neither did his disciples once they learned that God’s power was available to all, for good.  After Jesus’ ascension, they each had extensive healing ministries, touching the lives of thousands through their words and works.

The Science behind that early Christianity is still active today, still requiring its followers to look deeply beneath the human circumstances, to the safe and holy truth naturally abiding there.  Jesus promised his works would be done by us today, tomorrow, and forever.  And to the extent that we practice his Christianity will we accomplish those works, and greater works.

Give a fish or teach to fish: both are part of meeting the need.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

I’m (not) good at math

January 1, 2015

Here’s a parable about Lulu: Every morning before Lulu gets out of bed she goes over her times tables carefully, starting at zero and going all the way to twelve. 0 x 0 = 0, 0 x 1 = 0, up to 12 x 12 = 144.  She’s very careful and conscientious and doesn’t miss one.  And then Lulu gets out of bed and spends a little time studying her math book.  She reviews a few addition and subtraction problems, even contemplates some division.  Again, Lulu is very thorough and careful, and makes sure her answers are correct before she puts her math book away.

Then Lulu goes out.

Her first stop is to get gas for her car.  Lulu has only $10 in her wallet, and gas is $2.50 per gallon so she wants to be sure she doesn’t go over that amount.  She tells the attendant to give her 5 gallons.  When the gas has been pumped the attendant comes to be paid.  Lulu gives him the $10 and closes her window, preparing to drive away.  There’s a knock on the glass.  The attendant wants more money.  Lulu’s puzzled, but the attendant explains that 5 gallons at $2.50 each is $12.50. Chagrined, Lulu hands him her debit card which he charges $2.50 and then returns.  Lulu writes $2.50 on a scrap of paper and drives to her next stop, the grocery store.

Lulu needs 36 eggs for a project at work.  She runs in, grabs two cartons of a dozen each, pays for them with her debit card and returns to her car.  She writes $4.30 on her scrap of paper.

Lulu makes one more stop at the drive-thru of an espresso stand.  She sees that her favorite hot drink is $3.75.  She writes that onto her scrap of paper and quickly adds them up: $9.55.  Perfect, she says.  Because she only has $10 in her checking account.  Lulu orders the drink.

Lulu heads to work.  She drops the eggs off with a co-worker who asks, “where’s the other dozen?  This is only 24.”  Lulu stops to count them, and sure enough, there are only 24 eggs.  Going on to her desk, she slumps into her own chair just as she gets a text from her bank that she’s overdrawn 55 cents.  What??!  Another co-worker comes by with some scraps of paper and says, “Lulu, I need your help.  I can’t add these up.”  Lulu sighs and says, “I’m not good at math.”

Thus ends the parable.

Do you ever feel that way about prayer?  Even before you get out of bed, you carefully repeat your favorite spiritual ideas.  Then you spend some time with your favorite spiritual texts.  But once you get out the door, you don’t remember a thing.  And by the end of the day you believe that you don’t know how to pray for yourself, let alone anyone else who may need some help.

Our prayers are like math: they’re actually applicable and useful throughout the day.  And when relied on consistently, our outcomes are predictably harmonious.  They’re not just words but statements of divine fact, and we have a right to believe and understand them.  We have a right to draw on them at any moment under any circumstance.

Just as Lulu truly was good at math, we too, know what we’re doing when we pray.  We know that we can reliably trust God and lean on Him, so that, at the end of the day when someone says, “can you help?” we can say, “yes.  I’m good at prayer.”

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

What’s trending…

July 26, 2014

You see that “announcement” frequently on news and social media sites.  It’s about the latest in gossip and current events. Although the intent is to track what’s happening in the world, it’s more about what’s happening in people’s conversations about what’s happening in the world.

This post isn’t really about that though, but about what’s trending in thought.   You see, whatever the trend is in one’s thinking, tends to be the experience of that thinker.  Have you noticed that?  Whatever occupies your thought, whether it’s  fear or joy, hatred or gratitude, illness or health, is what you see in yourself and others.  The author of Proverbs wrote centuries ago, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  (23:7)

It’s called preoccupation and comes from the Latin meaning “to take possession beforehand.”  It was originally what you might call a real-estate term from the middle ages literally meaning to occupy something before it belonged to you – and there’s still an element of that in its current usage, though of a mental nature. Now it is used to describe that quality of thought that is self-absorbed or obsessed with a particular viewpoint, accurate or not.

We don’t always notice it in ourselves, but we do notice it in others.  And in so doing, we recognize that it is neither useful nor productive.  At least when the conditions of our preoccupation are negative.

Because we also notice when someone is always joyful regardless of circumstances.  Or when someone is always healthy, even when those around him or her are struggling with contagion.  Or when someone always reaches out to help even when their own circumstances may be tenuous.

Mary Baker Eddy expected that kind of preoccupation when she wrote, “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.”  (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 261)  She understood the nature of the human mind, especially its tendency to focus on what is frightening or missing.  This simple instruction helps to move the thinker to a higher, broader more spiritual position where solutions can be found and enacted.

Learning to shift thought this way simply comes from doing it.  From catching yourself feeling down or agitated and deliberately choosing a more positive outlook.  And if that outlook is based on a God-like view, it’s not just positive thinking, it’s prayer.  This is how Jesus thought, prayed, healed.  And the Apostle Paul told us to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 2:5)  We can do that!

What’s trending in your thought?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Christianity of the heart.

February 28, 2014

I’m not talking about what could be called institutional Christianity – the behemoth that doesn’t necessarily practice what it preaches.  I’m talking about what might move you – and you, and you – to be a Christian, despite the sometimes negative connotations Christianity has “out there.”  I’m talking about the Christianity of the original Christian – Christ Jesus himself.

Jesus is the example of what being a Christian really is all about.  His words, his works, what he lived and taught, form the basis of true Christianity.  This truest of religions – and I mean that in the broadest possible sense – is not of sect or creed, but of the heart.  The Master had the sternest rebuke for hypocrisy and self-righteousness, because they limited the practice of religion to words only.  But true Christianity – true religion of any kind – is in, and only in, the life that expresses its original theology.

The Scriptures – especially the New Testament – are full of guidance on that theology: certainly what not to do, but very clearly on what to do.  And love is the major part of what to do.  Echoing Jesus’ own message, the Apostle Paul says, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”  (Rom 13:10)

There is a yearning in our churches to see more of that Christianity of the heart; to practice more of the teachings of Christ Jesus, here and now, in their simplicity and power. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of my religion, expected Christian Scientists to have those kinds of churches.  She defined church, in part, as “that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.”   (Science and Health, page 583)

Jesus expected his followers to build their churches on the rock – the fact of his Christ nature.  (Matt 16:18)  If we see that command as merely one of making church out of human personality or human laws, we miss his point.  And in missing that fundamental point we commit terrible atrocities in the name of Christianity.  Our hearts must, instead, connect with his heart, his vision, his expectation.  And then we must go and do likewise.

If this is what you’re hungry for – to live out from a higher, holier, more effective Christianity and not just a scholastic theology – then hold yourself accountable to the words and works of Jesus himself: the true, the only Christ.   Doing so, “religion will then be of the heart and not of the head.”  (Science and Health, page 140)

 Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.


A better story

November 16, 2013

There’s an e-mail circulating now that tells a feel-good tale.  It’s inspiring, it causes one to look inward, and vow to do better.  But it’s not all there is.  I share it here in its entirety, and then tell a better story.

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night’s dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding…

  ALL BUT ONE!!! He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

  He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

  He was glad he did. The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

  The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

  When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?”  She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, “I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly.”

  As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, “Mister….” He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, “Are you Jesus?”

 He stopped in mid-stride …. and he wondered. He gently went back and said, “No, I am nothing like Jesus – He is good, kind, caring, loving, and would never have bumped into your display in the first place.

  “The girl gently nodded: “I only asked because I prayed for Jesus to help me gather the apples. He sent you to help me, so you are like Him – only He knows who will do His will. Thank you for hearing His call, Mister.”

  Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: “Are you Jesus?”

  Do people mistake you for Jesus?

  That’s our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

  If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It’s actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.

If we really are to live our lives like Jesus – to live, walk, and act as he would – we must tell this story more accurately.  Jesus would have healed the girl of her blindness and not missed his plane!  Nor would any of the apples have been bruised, in fact passersby would have gladly bought them.  Isn’t that really what Jesus expected from us?  That we would do his works and even greater?  (see John 14:12)

Mary Baker Eddy explains how we can more consistently live up to that highest expectation.  She writes:

“The sculptor turns from the marble to his model in order to perfect his conception. We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it? Then you are haunted in your work by vicious sculptors and hideous forms. Do you not hear from all mankind of the imperfect model? The world is holding it before your gaze continually. The result is that you are liable to follow those lower patterns, limit your lifework, and adopt into your experience the angular outline and deformity of matter models.  To remedy this, we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives. Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love — the kingdom of heaven — reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear.”  (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures page 248)

Let’s tell the truth about what it means to live like Jesus.  Let’s tell a better story.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

The wrong God.

November 7, 2013

You’ll never believe the awful story I read this morning.  A parent – someone who should know better – put a very dangerous, but enticing, object in the middle of a playground, and told the kids “don’t touch it or you’ll die.”  Well, kids are kids.  And you can imagine what happened next!  Yep, the kids not only touched it, but sure enough they died.  The parents’ response?  “I warned them.  They got what they deserved.”  You can read it here: Genesis 2:17, Genesis 3

Okay, so if you went to the link you realize it’s a Bible story.  But it’s one that forms the basis for our views of God and man.  If a human parent were to do what God is said to have done in that story, he could very likely go to jail.  And should.  Yet we are willing to attribute some very awful qualities to the Almighty that we wouldn’t tolerate in ourselves.  Why is that?

Job asks, “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?”  (chapter 4:17)  If we truly believe that God is the cruel and arbitrary ruler portrayed in that Scriptural tale, what can our answer be to Job’s question?

The Apostle John tells us that God is love.  (I John 4:8)  And James describes “the Father of lights” as having “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  (chapter 1:17) Jesus assures his followers that his heavenly Father “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”  (Matt 5:44)    James again declares, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”  (chapter 1:13)

That story in Genesis (which is only an allegory, by the way) is not the only version of the creation of man.  In the very first chapter of Genesis is a more enlightened viewpoint.  One that presents both God and man as more in keeping with spiritual reality.  Here, man is said to be made in the image and likeness of a God that knows, sees, and creates only good.  That’s certainly not the case with the second story.  And both stories can’t be true.

When we look around at destruction and violence and ask “why would God allow that?” we’re thinking of the Adam and Eve God who punishes and condemns.  But the real God, the God that actually loves His creation and cares for it without variableness, the God Jesus knew and followed, is not the creator of evil nor the tempter of man.

Mary Baker Eddy explains in Science and Health “It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony.”  (page 390)  This is a straightforward and doable means – a prayer-filled and heartfelt way – of redeeming both the situation and our viewpoint of the divine.  And it heals.

Don’t let the wrong God govern you.  There is only one God and He is good, infinitely good.  You are the image and likeness of invariable Love.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Life, not death.

October 31, 2013

The three-days of Halloween/All Saints’ Day/All Souls’ Day are a celebration of death.  Okay, so that’s a simplification.  But if death is removed from the mix, there’s nothing to commemorate – either liturgically or in scary costumes.

Jesus said “let the dead bury their dead.”  (Matt 8:22)  And also, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

When Jesus was crucified his own disciples thought his ministry was over.  They knew he was gone for good and that all his – and their – hard work, was for naught.  Even though he had warned them of both his crucifixion and his resurrection, they simply didn’t comprehend what had just happened.  But Jesus returned to comfort them, admonish them, and direct them to a higher viewpoint.  And they got it.  With his ascension, they shared the good news with the whole world.

The apostle Paul writes in Romans, “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  (8:6)  Let us take his words to heart and celebrate the abundant and eternal life that our dear Master explained and exemplified.  Let these next three days – and every day – be about life, not death.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

One God, one set of rules.

September 14, 2013

The Bible is very clear that we are to have only one God.  (see Ex. 20:3 for example)  The Bible is also pretty clear about all the trouble you can get into for thinking – and acting – like there are more gods than one.

We make the mistake of thinking that God inflicts all that trouble on us when we follow other gods.  But that’s not how it works.  God is always God: the same rules always apply under all circumstances.  It’s just that when we look away from God’s oneness, we lose track of the significance of that only-ness.  The consequences stem from divided affections.  And as Jesus makes plain, “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.”  (Luke 11:17)

Doesn’t that seem like what we’re doing though, when we say God saves believers but condemns non-believers?  Sounds like two sets of rules.  Or when we say that God can’t really compete with evil on this side of death, but once you go to heaven evil is vanquished.  Sounds like two different Gods.

There’s no wiggle room in Isaiah’s statement:  “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.”  (45:5)

So rather than reinterpreting that to make it fit what we can’t explain, let’s readjust our concept of God and His kingdom to accept that very clear statement at its deepest level.  There is only one God, here and forever, for one and all.  No exceptions.

Divine Love – another name for God – is always caring for all of us, all the time.  Infinite Spirit is always ever present all the time.  No one is left out.  Ever.

One God, one set of rules.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.