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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.

Jesus said, “if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.”  (Luke 6:32)  It may be old fashioned language, but the point is if you only love those who:

  • agree with you;

  • look like you;

  • vote like you;

  • go to your church;

then your world probably feels pretty small and scary.

Jesus said love everyone and yourself.  Love those:

  • with whom you disagree;

  • who look different – maybe very different – than you;

  • who voted for the other person, or other party, or didn’t vote at all;

  • who go to a different church, or a synagogue, or mosque, or no church at all.

The Golden Rule doesn’t dismiss fear, it heals fear.  In fact, it requires its users to give up fear.

That is the best solution of all, where fear doesn’t separate us and love binds us together: brothers and sisters.  Neighbors.  People.

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.

We all know it when we see it: parents and children, spouses, friends, even strangers caring for, reaching out to, and helping one another.  This is love in action.  It has many different expressions: tenderness, assistance, listening, protecting, cherishing, comforting, aiding, lifting.  The list is long and we each could add many words to it.

And because we know what it looks like, we know when it’s missing too.

What can be done about that?

Is it really missing?  If God is Love as the Bible says (1st John 4:8), and God fills all space (Deut 4:39), also as the Bible says, how could love really be missing?  What is actually missing is our recognition of it.

If our premise is that Love is everywhere, we will expect to see it, expect to know it, right where it seems to be missing.  When it seems impossible to see love – in a disaster, or a sick room, or a political rally – close your eyes to the picture and open your heart to the reality of Love’s ever presence.  Don’t let go of Love until you are convinced that even right there in the thick of unloveliness, Love is at work.  Quietly.  Safely.  Permanently.

This is what Jesus did.  His conviction of the power and presence of Love enabled him to pass through an angry crowd unharmed (Luke 4:29,30); to raise to life the daughter of parents engulfed in sorrow (Mark 5:42); to feed a multitude too hungry and tired to fend for themselves (Matt 14:20); and the greatest example of Love at work, to resurrect himself from the grave (John 20:17) to prove that even there Love prevails.

These were not just isolated instances.  The Gospels are filled with stories of Love overcoming misery and despair.  And even after Jesus’ ascension, his disciples, and their disciples, and their disciples after that, continued to prove the healing and saving power of love right where love seemed to be missing.

And we can do the same today.

It doesn’t require any special power or even any religious affiliation.  It simply is a matter of holding in thought that love is stronger than hate, that it casts out fear, that it soothes and comforts.  Even in the face of that which is definitely not love.

Doing so introduces a new possibility into the mix, one not so convinced of the ugliness or sadness or terror.  That little glimmer of hope actually begins to reveal how love has been at work, quietly under the surface – but there all along.

When you look for it, you see it.  And rather than being aghast at its absence you will see its curative power gently dissolving every unloveliness.

Yes, it requires effort.  Yes, it requires consistency.  Yes, it even requires faith – faith that one person can make a difference.  But isn’t that better than the alternatives of hopelessness or indifference?

Divine Love is here.  Hold your ground in expectation that you can see it at work.  And then look for evidence of your conviction.

I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.  For Love is loving you too.

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.

Disappointment

May 20, 2015

Dictionary.com defines it as, “the feeling of sadness or displeasure by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”  You know that feeling.  Things just aren’t working out the way you think they should.

Disappointment has been around for a long time.  It seems to be such a persistent part of human life that the early writers of the Bible even attributed it to God, in both the allegory of Adam and Eve and the story of Noah.  God was so disappointed with the behavior of His creation that He permanently evicted them from the Garden of Eden.  Seeing no improvement, but, in fact, a worsening, He drowned them all – except Noah and his family – in an epic flood.

If God Himself can be so disappointed, what chance have we for overcoming it?  And why should we bother if it’s inherent in us?

We need a new view of God and of His creation.  Actually, not a new view, but the right view.  That right view is found in the first chapter of Genesis.  There’s no bad behavior there, on either the part of man or God, so no reason for disappointment.

In the book of James in the Bible, the author calls God, “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (1:17)  That’s the God that Jesus knew.  His heavenly Father was consistently good and reliable, consistently life and love. And not just when Jesus prayed, but when his disciples and countless followers prayed, even for a number of generations after his ascension.  Even today.

 What does that mean for you and me?  That we can expect to overcome and move on from disappointment, regardless of the circumstances.  This even includes disappointment with ourselves.  It won’t necessarily be easy, but knowing that it’s possible is a great help.

How?  By remembering what Jesus knew.  His ministry – how he lived, what he taught – was filled with the healing of disappointment in every form: illness, unkindness, lack, fear, sin, death.  Those conditions all seemed so real to those who had them.  But Jesus proved them to be unreal.  He took each and its consequences away leaving his followers restored.

Is this possible for us?  Jesus said it was.  “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”  (John 14:12) Take him at his word.  Challenge disappointment.  Overturn it.  Heal it.  Move on from it.  See it as he did: an imposition on the beloved child of God.  This promise from Revelation guarantees it: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (21:4)

 Disappointment?  No.  Peace.  And joy.  And satisfaction.  All the natural outcome of a better view of God and man.

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.

“Oh come on, the Sabbath’s my day off.  Tell them to come back tomorrow.”

“Don’t overdo it.  Forgive once or twice, and then nail them.”

“Did you see the way that Pharisee looked at me?  And when he leaned over to the scribe next to him I was outta there.”

“There were only five and I was hungry too.  What am I supposed to do?  Share?”

“Hey guys, take your swords and hold off Judas and his gang while I sneak out the back gate and get away.”

“Look, I’m happy to come and heal your son.  Don’t get me wrong.  But does it have to be right now?”

“That man at the pool was extremely ungrateful.  It just wasn’t worth my time.”

“People, stop crowding me.  I am too busy and important for you to be this close.”

“Sure, I can jump from this pinnacle.  There’re angels down there to catch me, right?”

“I’m not going to leave these ninety-nine sheep just to go find one careless one that wandered off.”

Anybody who knows the teachings of Christ Jesus knows that he would never say any of these things.  His words, and especially his works, were intended to bless and heal.  And they did, in countless ways.    Even today, they still do.

Here are some things he actually said:

  • Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (Matt 11:28)
  • Love one another.  (John 13:35)
  • I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  (John 10:10)
  • Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.  (Luke 6:20)
  • Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.  (Mark 2:11)

The Christly power behind Jesus’ words and works is still active today.  And if we catch ourselves being unkind in word or deed, or thinking only of our own needs and not more inclusively of others, we can simply turn to his example.  Every effort to bless others blesses us too.  And that’s a good thing.

Ask yourself: what would Jesus say?  You can say it too, and mean it!  (John 14:12)

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.

O ye of little faith.

February 8, 2015

Jesus only said that to his disciples, not the multitudes in general.  They were his students, his dear friends and closest companions.  They knew him the best, and even could do some of the works that he did.  They had the deepest understanding of his theology of anyone.  And yet, he knew – of all people – they should have more faith.

Sometimes though, much of what Jesus taught them seemed like theory.  He talked of things, and did things they simply couldn’t comprehend.  And, since he was there to do everything for them, they just didn’t quite connect the dots the way he’d like them to.  He was going to be around forever, right?  They had plenty of time!

All too soon, he was taken from them.  And it felt very permanent.  The disciples even feared for their own lives.  Going back to fishing seemed like a practical – and perhaps the only – option.  Yet, when Jesus presented himself to them, risen and alive, after the crucifixion, his teachings were no longer theory but demonstrable Christianity.  And he expected them to go into all the world and do as he had done.  (Mark 16:15)  Talk about a job requiring a lot of faith!

Mary Baker Eddy explains it this way, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes, “His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities.”  p.34

Is our faith too little?  Jesus’ resurrection was not just for his disciples but for all mankind, and for all time.  The very fact that he overcame the last enemy (see 1 Cor. 15:26) and expected us to do the same (see John 14:12) indicates that our spiritual dullness and blind belief in God can melt away too.  The Apostle Paul was convinced that Jesus’ resurrection was real and repeatable and it was a major piece of his preaching.  You’ll find it throughout many of his letters.

How are you understanding and practicing the resurrection in your life?  How are you overcoming and transforming your lack of faith in Jesus’ word and works?  How are you growing beyond reading the words to proving their principle?

When Jesus said “O ye of little faith” to his disciples, it wasn’t so much a criticism as a means of waking them up to accept the possibility of what Jesus was doing.  Let that same wake-up call be like a resurrection to you, helping you to shake off the routine and rise into the heavenly fresh; to look away from the fear-induced impossibility, lifting your eyes to the all-things-are-possible-to-Love reality.

O ye of little faith is for those who do not know the risen Christ.  Get to know him and let your life be filled with his salvation.  Let your faith make you whole.

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.