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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.

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.

Okay, so that’s a trick question, for to be omnipotent means there is no competition of any kind in any direction.  It’s a Latin compound word: omni meaning all and potens meaning power.  It is most often attributed (and rightly so) to God.

So the real question is: in theory what supersedes omnipotence?  In other words, where are we living our lives as if there is a power greater than God?  And the deeper question is: when bad things happen that appear to be out of our control are we attributing them to God?

Sounds like we need a better, clearer, higher view of God – the God Jesus knew, preached, and proved!

The Bible makes it plain that God makes only good (see Gen 1:31 for example).  And that His gift of good and expression of good is unchanging (see James 1:17).  And that He works only good in us (see Phil 2:13).  Therefore, following this scriptural line of reasoning, good must be omnipotent.

How would your life be different if you really accepted and expected that to be true?  How would you have to change – improve – your view of reality to accommodate this truer definition of God, of omnipotence?

You can’t have it both ways.  You can’t attribute all power to God, to good, and still give any kind of potency to anything else.

Let your faith be deepened, let your understanding be broadened, let your consecration be expanded to include this more biblically accurate concept of God and His creation.  Doing so, you will find a greater measure of peace, health, and longevity.

Divine omnipotence leaves nothing up to chance, but governs every detail with the most thorough good, the most loving good, the most permanent good possible.

Nothing supersedes Omnipotence.

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.

Clueless

April 4, 2013

Okay, so that’s not a word that Jesus actually used.  But don’t you get the sense that sometimes he just felt his disciples were clueless about the kingdom of heaven?  The Bible says he called them “faithless generation” and “fools.”  (see Mark 9:19 or Luke 24:25 for example)

These twelve hand-picked “fishers of men” struggled to understand the revolutionary viewpoint of creation that Jesus was teaching them.  They constantly questioned him, contradicted him, doubted him.  They just didn’t seem to get it.

Take the story of Jesus and the woman with the hemorrhage: she hoped to touch the Master’s garment without being noticed.  But he recognized the mental call-for-help and asked “who touched me?”  The disciples – more like handlers than students – said, “Uh Jesus.  You’re surrounded by dozens upon dozens of jostling followers, and you want to know which one touched you?  Really?”  Maybe they thought he was clueless!

They were more concerned about getting Jesus to the bedside of a dying little girl than stopping to pinpoint one errant touch.  But Jesus, ignoring their ignorance, sought out the woman, acknowledged her healing, and blessed her.  And still went on to save the little girl.  (see Mark 5:24-34)

The disciples imagined there was only a limited amount of good and a limited amount of time in which to take advantage of it.  And that it was quickly becoming too late.  Jesus, on the other hand, knew that good was unlimited – just like his heavenly Father who is the infinite bestower of all good.

Then there’s the story of Jesus’ conversation with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus.  They were so convinced Jesus had died on the cross that they couldn’t even recognize him as he walked along with them.  They recounted the horrific story, and even told the part about the empty tomb.  Jesus set them straight, opened their eyes, and continued on his way.  (see Luke 24:13-31)  As always, he never abandoned his followers to their own cluelessness.  Instead, he persisted in making plain the presence and power of God, the source of the Christ – the Truth – he manifested.  He even promised that they would never be comfortless!  (see John 14:18)

The disciples finally did get his message; they finally understood what he had taught them and shown them so clearly that, as he had predicted, they went on to do the works that he had done.

Isn’t that a marvelous example for you and me?  When we’re feeling clueless about any aspect of our lives, when we’re convinced that good is dead and gone, we can know instead, that the same comforting presence and power is still available, here and now.

Jesus never broke his promises to the disciples and they still stand today.  Let’s not be clueless about 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.

This is how St. Paul finishes the sentence: …which was also in Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 2:5)  The Apostle gives numerous clues what that mind is – and what it isn’t.  For example, it’s not the carnal mind which is enmity against God.  But it is the comfort of love.  It’s not doing things through strife or vainglory.  It’s doing God’s good pleasure.  (you can find many more examples in Paul’s letters in the New Testament)

But the best indicator of that mind which was also in Christ Jesus is the Master himself.  His words and works give a powerful insight into what he was thinking.

When he fed the multitude with just a few items, was he afraid or worried?  No.  He was grateful and compassionate.  (see Matt. 14:15 to 21)

When he healed the sick and raised the dead and dying, was there any sense of limitation in his outlook?  No.  He freely shared health and life and goodness with all.

When he was on the cross, did he condemn or criticize?  No, he forgave and forgot.  (see John chapter 19)

And St. Paul advises that we have the same mind.  That means replace fear with love; stifle limitation with generosity; overcome death by living more abundantly.  But it especially means recognize God – his Father and your Father – as able to do all things.  (see Luke 1:37)  That is the most important mindset to embrace.

Jesus explained it this way, “The Son can do nothing of himself; but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”  (see John 5:19)

Let this humble, expectant, joyful, obedient, worthy, compassionate mind be in you.  And just see how it transforms your life.

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.

Above Reproach

February 7, 2013

In the eighth chapter of John is told the story of a women brought to Jesus who was “taken in the very act” of adultery.  The Master, when asked whether she ought to be stoned, simply suggested that her accusers should examine themselves first.  After they dispersed, each convicted by his own conscience, Jesus gently told the woman “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Jesus saw the woman as above reproach – that is, without shame or disgrace.  Even though the evidence was clearly against her, and her accusers had every right to proceed with their attack, he was looking at something different.  What did he see that they missed?

Growing up in Sunday School, I was taught to condemn the sin but love the sinner.  That’s certainly an important first step but it doesn’t go as far as Jesus did in his assessment of the woman.  What he told her to do next gives us a clue as to his viewpoint: he said, go and sin no more.  He didn’t say “try not to sin” or “sin only a little bit.”

Did he give her an impossible task?  If he had believed that she – and we and all – are inherently sinners, then yes.  She would have been unable to obey his command.  But Jesus knew what his Father knew: that man (both male and female) are created in His image and likeness, as it says in Genesis. (see chapter 1:27)

To be fair, to actually live out that divinely inspired proclamation is very hard work, and we will likely struggle mightily to succeed.  But the fact is, that Christly message is still valid today: neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.  In other words, I hold you above reproach: live your life as if you understand that.

The Apostle Paul had another way of putting it: be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  (see Romans 12:2)

This naturally includes striving to hold one another above reproach as well.  However, that doesn’t mean looking the other way when harm is done.   Only be sure not to condemn in error, but instead offer blessing for cursing, love for hate, and good for evil.  (see Matt 5:44)

Jesus’ word and works are not just good advice; they are the pathway of no reproach.

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 Size Fits All

July 16, 2012

Normally, that’s not really true.  Certainly when it comes to things, it’s not true.  My husband and I can’t wear the same clothes.  The house I grew up in would have been too small for his family.  The bag of fertilizer I put on my lawn will not cover even a fraction of the golf course around the corner.

But it is true when it comes to Love – another name for God.  God’s Love is large enough and full enough and safe enough and sure enough for everyone.  No matter what.  And there’s always enough to go around, every time.  This is not just hopefulness, this is an actual law.  A law Jesus used to feed multitudes, heal the sick, and raise the dead.  It never failed Jesus!

A great explanation is found in Science and Health.  The author, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: “The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!”  (see page 520)

Think about it.  Which dimension is left out of that statement?  Which need is uncovered?  As the Psalmist asks, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (see Ps. 139)

God is ever present.  Love is omnipotent.  Spirit is all-knowing and all acting.  Truly, that is enough!  It will never fail you either.

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.