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Who do you love?

February 27, 2015

Spouse, kids, perhaps extended family. Maybe a few close friends.  Pretty easy to put a list together.

Okay.  What about enemies?  What about strangers?  What about people of other religions or of no religion?  Or people of the other political party?  Or those who don’t look or sound like you?  Or don’t live where or how you live?

What about that person who offended you?  Or whose parents offended your parents?  Or whose country offended your country?

The reasons to not love someone are pretty extensive, aren’t they?

Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, is that some big deal?  Even sinners do that.”  (Luke 6:32)  He demanded something more, something fuller, something like how God loved him, and he loved us.

What does it mean to love everybody and why is it important?  After all, there are over 7 billion people.  Must we love them all?

In a word, yes.  This is a love that is unconditional.  It loves regardless of circumstances.  It loves whether one is loved back.  It loves even in the face of hatred, violence, and death. This is the kind of love God had for the world when He sent His beloved son.  (John 3:16) And it’s the kind of love Jesus had for the world when he went to the cross.  It’s the kind of love that’s expected of us.

Tall order.

But we can make a lot of progress if we start now.  Be kinder.  Be more forgiving.  Be more helpful.  Pray more.  But more than that, challenge all of the thoughts that tell you someone is not lovable – for any reason.   And then love them anyway.

Don’t you think this will go a long way to making a more lovely and loving world?  And who doesn’t want that?

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.

Lulu’s dream

February 16, 2015

She was tired and fell into an uneasy sleep.  Tossing and turning, she awoke with a start and realized she was late. With no time to go over her equations or review her math book, Lulu flew out the door.

The drive-thru at her favorite espresso stand was jammed so she parked, ran inside, and got in line.  She could hear the cashier three customers ahead of her: “that will be $5.  Out of $20.  $5’s your change.”

What?

Next customer: “that will be $5. Out of $5.  $20’s your change.”

What? again…

Now it was her turn: “that will be $5.  Out of $10.  You owe me $5.”  “Wait a minute,” Lulu said, “you owe me $5.”  “That’s not what it says here,” the cashier said.  “The register generates the numbers, I just collect the cash.  Next.”

Pulling out of the driveway, she puzzled over this odd occurrence.  She accelerated – or tried to – but the car sputtered and died.  Out of gas.  She had just filled up, and should be getting at least 25 miles per gallon.  But this was more like 1/2 mile per tank.  What?

The auto-club driver gave her 5 gallons to make it to the gas station.  He told her it was $2.50 per gallon.  She owed him $1000.  “That’s too many zeros,” she said.  “Pay, or walk,” he said.

She walked into work perplexed.  Lulu’s co-worker was nodding her head at some numbers on the board.  She read them aloud, “7,4,1,9,6,3,2,8,4.  They’re in perfect order, but I have this 10 left over… ”  Lulu rolled her eyes and said under her breath, “there is no math.”

There was a sharp ringing sound – Lulu’s alarm clock.  Oh, thank goodness, it was only a dream.  Lulu made sure she reviewed her equations before she got out of bed: 0 x 0 = 0, 1 x 0 = 0 all the way up to 12 x 12 = 144.  Then she spent time reading in her math book.  She certainly wasn’t going to be the cause of the collapse of math today, no sirree.

Aren’t you grateful that’s not the way it really works?

Lulu is no more responsible for the operation of the laws of math than you or I are.  Nor could not having time to review those laws, in any way impinge upon their usefulness or activity.

On the contrary, the laws of mathematics are consistent and demonstrable regardless of who knows them or uses them – or doesn’t know them or doesn’t use them.

The laws of God are the same way.  They are consistently universal and impartial in their operation and availability.  Nothing you do – or don’t do – effects any aspect of their eternal action.

Jesus raised the dead, fed the multitudes, healed the sick, and walked on the water, all through the ever present laws of God.  He included everyone in their operation when he said, “Our Father which art in heaven…”  (Matt 6:9)  And then he promised those laws would always operate (John 14:12).

Today, take as much time as you need to affirm your own place in God’s universe.  Let your prayers embrace God’s allness and your relationship with Him; the unchanging power of good and your expression of it.  But remember that your prayers don’t design your day – only God can do that.  Your prayers reveal your day, the reliably harmonious day of God’s creating.  Just like math and numbers never change regardless of our attention to them – or lack thereof.  And that’s not a dream.

This is part 2 of the Lulu saga.  To see part 1, click here:

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.

But.

November 6, 2014

It’s a little word and it has a huge meaning.  For example, “I love God with all my heart, but…”  “I trust God to provide everything for me, but…”  “I know that God is my life, but…” Unfortunately, everything we say before that little word, is wiped away by whatever we say after it.  It’s as if we’re saying, I know God is all powerful.  I know He’s ever present.  I know He can do all things.  But…I’ve got this covered.

What better example do we have than Jesus Christ, who said, “I can of mine own self do nothing…because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”  (John 5:30)  The “but” in this case points to the whole power behind everything he did: his Father’s will.

You and I have the same Father, and His will is as clear and as love-impelled for us as it was for His beloved Son.  We can lose nothing except fear, by trusting God completely.

The two Great Commandments that Jesus made plain to his followers – to love God with all the heart, all the soul, all the mind, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself – have no caveats, no buts.  (Luke 10:27)  Consistency in living these spiritual laws as Jesus taught will conform us to receive the blessings he bestowed on the faithful.

This is not too much to ask.  Especially when you remember that God has no buts in His love for us.  It’s simply eternal and unconditional.  (Matt 5:45)

So, let’s say it together: I love God with all my heart.  Period.  I trust God to provide everything for me. Period.  I know that God is my life.  Period.  And then let’s go about our day as if it’s true.  No buts.

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.

Moral Courage

September 19, 2014

Religious pioneer Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong and to proclaim the right.”  (Science and Health page 327)  That deep discernment is needed now more than ever.  Stories in the news tell of bad choices, dangerous choices, harmful choices that endanger and condemn, threatening peace and safety, even life.

Moral courage helps us to break habits of thought and action – our own and others – that would repeat mistakes and justify them.  Moral courage is necessary to point out harm and reform the behavior behind it.  Moral courage is that which doesn’t back away from the long term solution in place of the quick fix.

That doesn’t mean that moral courage is slow to act, nor that its results take time.  Because moral courage is a spiritual quality, an inherent part of the divine nature made manifest in God’s dear children.  It overthrows the “eye for an eye” mentality that seeks revenge.  It dismantles the “but that’s the way it’s always been” outlook that keeps us locked in generational abuse.  It stops us from throwing up our hands and saying “what can I do?”

Moses had moral courage.  He held his ground against Pharaoh, eventually gaining the release of the Children of Israel.  And when those same Children complained endlessly about conditions in the wilderness, he didn’t abandon them to their own petulant willfulness.  Moses was so confident that his God-impelled work to free them from the slavery of Egypt was right, that he patiently and persistently saw to it that they were provided for, through deep and conscientious prayer to God.  He perceived the Ten Commandments that established a consistent standard of behavior for all time.  And all of this, even though his own past was blemished with violence and failure.

Jesus, especially – and more than all others, stood up for the rights of his fellow man.  Not just the judicial or religious rights but the rights to health, happiness, and holiness – even the right to eternal life.  He knew that his heavenly Father loved and cared for every individual.  That law of Love enabled him to heal everything from sin to sickness to death, including his own.

The Master’s example is the ultimate of moral courage. It was shown in such diverse ways as preventing the stoning of a woman taken in adultery – even though the law allowed it – by causing the lawmakers to examine their own consciences.  (John 8:1-11) It was shown in redeeming and reforming a tax collector to uphold not just the letter but the spirit of the law.  (Luke 19:1-9)  It was shown in speaking not a word in self-defense when he was being condemned to death.  (Matt. 27:14)  But Jesus even overcame that last injustice for himself and for all of us, showing that trust in God and faith in right ultimately prevails, here and now.

The Bible is full of stories of moral courage, inspiring and educating us today.  You and I can impact our communities and our world, now, by standing together for good, for peace, for right.  Even if we’re few in number, that’s better than none at all.  And as the Bible shows, even just one is enough.

Who do you know that is a standard of moral courage?  Learn from their actions and prayerfully reproduce them in your own life.  The tide must turn.  And we must be prepared to turn it.

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 can get an app to tell you what song is playing over the loudspeaker.  Or an app to identify what that bright star is – or maybe it’s a planet.  You can get an app to locate where Girl Scout Cookies are sold, or to compare prices on everything from canned corn to stereo components, or to track the distance you’ve run and measure your heartbeat.  All of these apps are designed to save you both time and trouble; to make life simpler and easier.

And, for the most part, it works.

Some things, though, are more useful as an operating system; as a fundamental and unified operational structure.  Like Christianity.

If you’re only “clicking” on Christianity as you need it, then it’s really just a band-aid.  That is, it’s only a suggested add-on to what’s already happening.  It might be helpful or it might just be inconvenient, too much trouble to activate and take advantage of.  But if Christianity is your operating system, then everything you do is governed by its principles.  You can’t stray outside of its basis.

Jesus was the master Christian.  Everything he did was controlled by the Christ.  Not one detail of his existence, or his ministry, or his interactions with others, had a starting point outside of Christianity.  It governed his actions and his words.  It enabled him to heal and to save.  It allowed him to raise himself and others from the grave.

If you’re familiar with the Gospels, you know it took his disciples – his students and followers – quite awhile to move from Christianity as an app, to it being a full operating system.  More than once Jesus said to them “how long shall I suffer you?” (see Matt 17:17 for example).  They spent every hour with him and saw him perform countless acts of healing, they heard him preach over and over, yet they challenged him, and failed him, so often.  But transition, they eventually did.  The New Testament book of Acts states, “by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people.”  (5:12)  They finally understood that Christianity was their very being, not just something they “did.”

We can – must – gain that understanding too.  Jesus said we would.  He stated, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”  He was talking to you and me.  And what he expected of us can’t be gained through adding Christianity to our busy lives.  Our lives must first be formed by Christianity, and then we can be about our Father’s business, just as he was.

How about you?  Is Christianity an app or your operating system?

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.

Leave your list outside

July 17, 2014

When asked to teach them how to pray, Jesus gave to his followers this first step: “enter into thy closet, and…shut thy door.”  He pointed out that there was no need for “much speaking…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Jesus seemed to indicate that an attitude of humble listening, communing with God one on one, was most useful.  For “thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matt 6:6-8)  Nowhere does the Master suggest that giving God a list of to-dos or complaints is prayer.

The Psalmist says, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving. ”  Ps 94:2  Gratitude is an especially wonderful prayer because it opens our hearts and minds to all the good that God is already pouring forth.  In fact, we often see that those things we thought were missing, are even now being provided.  In this case, a list of those things we’re grateful for is most appropriate!

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy there’s a whole chapter devoted to Prayer.  And the author mentions several kinds of useful communion.  She says, “consistent prayer is the desire to do right.”  (p. 9)  Or that “the habitual desire to be always good is unceasing prayer.”  (p. 4)  Or “self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers.”  (p. 15)  These qualities of good and right, of purity and affection are important when we’re in the holy space with our heavenly Father.  And they supersede any list we might take with us of things we feel we’re lacking.

Instead, live in sincerity with your prayer, live as if you mean what you said in the quietness of your closet.  Then, Jesus promises that “all these things shall be added unto you;” (Matt 6:33) everything you need will be made plain before you.

Leave your list outside the closet, take your meekness in.  Then, watch God work!

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 have a hand towel hanging right next to my kitchen sink, inches away from the faucet.  It’s unmissable.  At least I thought it was.  But I’ve noticed that sometimes visitors to my kitchen completely by-pass it and walk across the room to the decorative cloths hanging from the handle of the oven door.  That’s because, in their own kitchens, that’s where the dish towel is located.

So the bigger question is, are we doing that in our lives with things that are more important than hand towels?  Like God.

The fact is, God is right in front of us.  No matter what direction we’re facing.  The Apostle Paul said to the Athenians, that God was not unknown, but infinite and ever present, and that “they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”  (Acts 17:27,28)

If we’re looking for happiness and health any place other than God, maybe we’re missing what’s right in front of us.  The Psalmist wrote, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”  (103:2-4)

Jesus understood these ancient texts to be true hundreds of years after they were written.  He relied on God to meet every one of his needs, proving time and time again the verity of those joyful words.  He taught his disciples to trust God for everything.  And he expected us, his followers in this age, to do the same.

Issues seem to arise when we believe we already know what we need to know and have what we need to have.  But like the person who walks across my kitchen – dripping water all the way – they find the towel on the oven door is not very absorbent.  In fact, it’s pretty much just for looks.

Jesus tells of a young man who left home looking for health and happiness, and lost both.  He only found it after he returned home.  His Father said, “all that I have is thine.” (Luke 15:11-32) In other words, you don’t have to go searching all over for what was here all along.

That’s the message for us too, in Jesus’ own words: “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  (Matt 6:33)

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.