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.

You may recognize that phrase from the 91st Psalm.  It’s not just a nice saying – it’s a law of God.  And one that we must gain a deeper understanding of, in order to effectively stop, and even reverse, the Ebola outbreak in Africa.  A recent newspaper update addresses the rising concerns there, as well as the need for calm.

The promise of the 91st Psalm is that the recognition of and reliance on God – or “the Lord, which is my refuge” – will guarantee that “no evil shall befall thee.”  Guarantee is a strong word, but the author of that ancient poem was convinced that anyone who hid himself “under the shadow of the Almighty” would find comfort and safety there.

Although scholars are not sure who actually authored this historic verse – David, Moses, or some other early composer – the writer surely had a clear sense of the willingness and ability of God to actively care for his children.  And even though it’s in a book of Hebrew poetry, its lesson is available to all regardless of faith – or no faith.

As a model for healing and protecting prayer, the 91st Psalm directs us to start with the all-power of the divine, placing ourselves – and those we pray for – in the shelter of God’s mighty presence.  Then, defining Him as our protector and foundation, we can realize all the ways in which His care sustains and maintains us.  The promise is that “he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”  That watchfulness is so complete that we can’t even stub a toe, let alone catch a disease.

Applying the message of this powerful Psalm to the events in Africa is an effective means of confronting the argument that Ebola is out of the control of man and God.  Yet for centuries, people have turned to the promises in the Bible, including the omnipotence of God, to heal all kinds of disease, contagious or otherwise.  Jesus’ many healings are especially inspiring and particularly instructional in their correlation between turning to our heavenly Father and being well.

What can you do?  The first step, and one which the 91st Psalm strongly promotes, is to put down fear.  It says, “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.”  And 1 John concurs by stating that “perfect love casteth out fear.”  (4:18)  Turning to God who is perfect Love, restores a sense of peace and normalcy, enabling you to overcome any anxious sense for your own health, or that of others.

If you’re wondering whether your own small prayer wherever you are located, can be of benefit for those who are suffering someplace else, be assured that “to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.”  (Science and Health, p. 494)  It’s not your own power that heals, it’s God’s.  Prayer acknowledges the infinitude and ever presence of divinity, and humbly expects good results.

As a member of the community of earth, those in other parts of the world are your neighbors.  Your prayerful outreach on their behalf blesses all mankind.  And we surely need that blessing now.

Here’s a great podcast about healing contagion.  You might find some useful ideas to supplement your prayers.

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.

Was Jesus a scientist?

April 10, 2014

Okay, so he didn’t wear a white lab coat and use a microscope.  Oh, wait, I guess he did.  Well, not the lab coat, but he did use something like a microscope.  He examined – very closely – the thoughts of those around him!

It wasn’t really a microscope though; it was something even more powerful!  The Apostle Paul explains it this way in his letter to the Hebrews: “…the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (4:12)  The W0rd of God was what Jesus used to understand and heal those around him.  He used it consistently and repeatedly.

And like any good scientist, he taught others how to use God’s Word consistently and repeatedly.  And they taught others.  And on and on.  Jesus even predicted it.  He knew his results were consistent and repeatable.  He said “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)

Although Jesus himself didn’t keep a scientific record of all that he did, there is a whole New Testament that lays out how consistent and repeatable – and scientific – his works were.  And the works of those who followed him.

And still follow him.

Was Jesus a scientist?  Read the gospels.  Read the book of Acts.  Read Paul’s and Peter’s and James’ and John’s letters.

You decide.  And go and do thou likewise.

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.

So says the Apostle Paul in 1st Timothy.  But he doesn’t just leave it there.  He goes on to add that the example should be found “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  (1 Tim 4:12)  In other words, in every area of life.

Paul knew that the best teacher of the gospel is one who lives it, not just one who speaks about it.  Today we call that walking your talk or practicing what you preach.

Jesus definitely did that: he was the ultimate man of integrity.  Wikipedia says that integrity is “a consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes.”   Doesn’t that describe The Master?

Jesus taught his followers through both words and works, how to be living expressions of the Christ he exemplified. He made plain that hypocrisy and self-righteousness were no part of his theology, but loving and healing others were.  He held his disciples accountable for learning, living, and proving his life-message.  And when they would have gone back to fishing, he reminded them of their commitment: that real love is in obedience.

I consider myself both a believer in and a follower of Christ Jesus.  I am striving to have my word, conversation, charity, spirit, faith, and purity (to use Paul’s words) reflect – to the best of my ability – what that means: to show my love in obedience. It is often not easy, and I sometimes fail miserably.  But I know that I must keep at it, in word and deed, so that I may be an “example of the believers.”  Who knows?  Someone may be turned to the healing Christ as a result of my life!  There is room for all!

Mary Baker Eddy makes this pungent comment: “Are you willing to leave all for Christ, for Truth, and so be counted among sinners? No! Do you really desire to attain this point? No! Then why make long prayers about it and ask to be Christians, since you do not care to tread in the footsteps of our dear Master? If unwilling to follow his example, why pray with the lips that you may be partakers of his nature? Consistent prayer is the desire to do right. Prayer means that we desire to walk and will walk in the light so far as we receive it, even though with bleeding footsteps, and that waiting patiently on the Lord, we will leave our real desires to be rewarded by Him.”  (Science and Health page 9)

Go and be thou an example of the believers.  Great blessings will follow – not only for you, but for all.

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 am not a Scientologist

September 5, 2013

Sometimes people assume that the Science in Christian Science is the same as the Science in Scientology.  Two completely different systems.  The IRS has agreed that Scientology is a religion, but it’s neither biblically oriented nor Christian.  Christian Science, on the other hand, is completely Bible-based and wholly Christian.  Here’s a great article that really explains the differences.

And here are the Tenets of Christian Science that show just how deeply rooted it is in the Bible (Science and Health, page 498):

  1.  As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
  2. We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God.  We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God’s image and likeness.
  3. We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal.  But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.
  4. We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.
  5. We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.
  6. And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.

And by the way, I don’t know Tom Cruise or John Travolota, either.  Just sayin’…

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 may recognize that as the words of the father to his elder child in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son.  (Luke 15:11-32)  And although he didn’t use those words with the younger, his actions said as much: he gave him half his estate without question, and fully restored him with all the family perks when he returned.

It’s pretty commonly accepted that the father in this parable represents God. And between the two sons, many of the negative traits of humanity are clearly put forth: pride, greed, jealousy, sensuality, dishonesty, disrespect, anger, and on and on…  Yet the message is, it doesn’t matter what stupid or unkind things you have done, my kingdom and all its benefits are always yours.  You can’t leave it or be kicked out of it.  You don’t have to earn it or prove your way into it.  You just have to accept it and realize that you are an heir.  And then act like it!

What does that mean?  The elder son actually had some heir characteristics already: he was a good steward of his father’s land and was careful with its assets.  And after the Prodigal “came to himself” he took on the qualities of humility and persistence.  A true heir follows in the footsteps of his father: he emulates the consideration and authority, while also accepting the responsibility and requirements that go along with the job.

The Apostle Paul says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”  (Rom 8:16,17) Paul is proclaiming that each one of us is a an heir, even a joint-heir with Christ, of our dear heavenly Father.  That is an amazing position of stature, one which we must claim and then behave accordingly.

One last point: doesn’t this story of the Prodigal Son, in which both wayward children are dearly loved and included regardless of their actions, completely contradict the story of Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the garden?  Doesn’t the inclusive tenderness of the father in the parable totally reverse the arbitrary insistence of the Lord God in Eden?  Think about it: Jesus knew God so well – so intimately – that he called him Abba, daddy.  Would he have shared this parable with his followers – this story that gives a new view of God, if that new view was wrong?

Jesus presented his Father, your Father, my Father as the only Father, the only God.  The one who says to all of us all the time, “all that I have is thine.”  Isn’t it worth considering what that really means?

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.

Preaching to the choir.

April 26, 2013

Everybody recognizes that as the description of someone trying to make a sale to those who are already sold!  It relates not only to religion, but politics, education, and anyplace else where there are convictions and an audience!  It’s not necessarily a bad thing – we all like to be re-energized regarding our belief systems.  That’s one of the reasons, for example, why we go to church every week: to be refreshed and reminded of our faith.

Jesus started his ministry reaching out only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He was a Jew, come to save the Jews – in essence, to preach to the choir.  (Matt 10:6)  At his birth though, the angels said “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”  (Luke 2:10)  And so it was, as the Gospels report, that over time, he healed Samaritans, Canaanites, Greeks, Syrophenicians, and even Romans.  And who knows how many other nationalities may have been in the multitudes that he fed – and loved!  At the end of his career, he expanded his ministry by telling his disciples “go ye into all the world…” (Mark 16:15)

It is certainly safer to share our faith and give testimony about our spiritual growth, to those within our own house, or even to our own lost sheep.  But if we wish to be obedient to Jesus’ final command, we need to preach to more than just the choir!  Jesus explained it this way: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about knocking on doors or standing on corners (and certainly no offense is meant to those who have chosen that pathway).  But I am talking about letting your very life shine as an example of what lives in your heart!  This is not for getting butts in pews – but simply because you can’t help expressing the divine joy that overflows your soul!

One of the easiest ways to sparkle is through gratitude!  Giving thanks, showing appreciation, acknowledging others brightens everyone’s day!  And you can do that no matter who you’re with – choir, congregation, or just passers-by.  A profound statement by Mary Baker Eddy, theologian and founder of my church, points out the power of gratitude – and its opposite.  She wrote in part: “…we cannot conceal the ingratitude of barren lives.”  (Science and Health page 4)  It doesn’t get any darker than that.

So, lighten up – preach to the choir and to the world.  Every moment is an opportunity to let your light shine.

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

At least do no harm.

February 28, 2013

Although those exact words are not in the Hippocratic Oath, the intent is there.  It’s called non-maleficence and, in essence, it means be sure you’re not making things worse.  It seems that directive could apply to a lot more of life than just the practice of medicine.

What if there were a solution that not only didn’t make things worse, but actually made them better – in every category of existence?  I’m talking about prayer.

Humbly seeking God’s will tends to lift thought above the issue to a divine perspective, where a solution can be seen and applied, blessing one and all.  This is useful, not only in dealing with our own concerns, but in our prayers for others, our community, nation, and world.  And there are no negative side effects from this kind of activity.  Reaching out to our heavenly Father brings a sense of peace.  And once fretting is dissolved, it’s easier to see an answer that’s hopeful.

Of course, this actually requires something of us: that we commit to responding to what’s going on around us through prayer.  Because not praying could actually be contributing to making things worse.  Really.  As the saying goes, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

How does that work?  Prayer helps us to challenge the event or circumstance or issue from a spiritual perspective: to seek a higher viewpoint where God’s tender loving care makes healing answers plain.  Doesn’t it follow then, that if you’re not challenging the scenario, you’re agreeing with it?  And therefore settling for the reality of the discord or inharmony?

Jesus taught something different.  He never said, “just learn to live with that withered hand and that issue of blood.”  Or, “we can’t pay those taxes, oh well.”  Or, “thirty-eight years is too long to overcome.”  Or, “how should I know where to hold the Passover?”  Or, “we’re supposed to feed how many?”  He prayed, and he got solutions.  And he expected his followers to pray and get solutions.  And not just for themselves, but for all.

Let’s make sure then, that not only are we not doing harm, we’re doing good.  That we’re lifting up ourselves, our neighbors, and our world in clear and loving prayer.  And we’re expecting results: blessing, hope, healing for one and all.

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.

Influenced? Who me?

February 21, 2013

What are you under the influence of?  No, I don’t mean drugs or alcohol.  I mean thought influences.  Maybe you’re not even aware of them – the viewpoints and outlooks swirling around in the mental atmosphere.  Strong opinions, world beliefs, so-called facts – all competing for your attention.  And often, without even being aware of it, you’ve agreed with them and are living your life in a way that accepts them as true.

For example, if you believe the earth is flat you are not likely to get on a boat that sails beyond the horizon.  Okay, so that’s not really a current issue but it certainly illustrates how accepting faulty information as true can severely limit your life.

The world will certainly tell you who you are: old, fat, ugly, poor, unhappy, sick.  And that same world will sell you a surgery, or injection, or location, or device, or scheme to make you fit its very limited viewpoint.  And to the extent that we buy what the world is selling, we’re being influenced by that same unhealthy, unkind viewpoint – all likely to no avail.  Is that really what salvation is?

Jesus said, “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (see John 16:33)  He wasn’t just reporting on some interesting thing he’d accomplished.  He was making plain that he’d paved the way for his followers to do the same.  For he had already promised, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.”  (see John 14:12)  Our Master gave us the tools and the example.

As the beloved disciple explained, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.”  (see 1st John 4:1)  God’s spirits – or divine directives, which is a more modern interpretation of the phrase – always serve to uplift, move forward, heal, and bless those who follow them.

So, what is influencing you?  The stories of a world which can’t really satisfy or save – and which Jesus proved to be false.  Or the Word of God, which Jesus lived and expected us to do the same.  You really do know the difference.

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.

Rewriting the past

November 8, 2012

I’m not talking about pretending that something didn’t happen while still suffering the effects or consequences of it, or as a means for not dealing with it.  And I’m also not talking about what sometimes happens during a regime change when the national history is rewritten to better reflect the views of the new government.  I am suggesting revising our views of the past and the influence they have on the present as a means of healing them.

In her autobiography, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “The human history needs to be revised, and the material record expunged.”  (See Ret. page 21)  She recognized that if she allowed her past as an always ill, divorced, and helpless woman to determine her future, she would never rise beyond those limitations.  Instead, she looked to the Bible’s God-inspired view of a holy creation untouched by human conditions (see Genesis 1:1-31 for example) as her basis for a future free from the condemnation of the past.  As a result, she overcame every illness (her own and others), had a very happy and prosperous new marriage, and went on to found a church and movement, not only unthinkable to other women of her time, but beyond even what men were able to accomplish.

These remarkable effects were also found in Jesus’ ministry.  Wasn’t every healing an undoing of some awful event of the past?  Whether the improvement was of a sinful or diseased condition, Jesus always indicated that the individual was now free to go about his or her life in a normal and natural manner.  In fact it was these works of Jesus – along with his word – that showed Mary Baker Eddy that this kind of thorough and redemptive healing was still possible today.

That’s right.  Healings of mind and body, past and present, are possible today, here and now.  This is Christianity made practical!

The “how to” requires persistently examining thought – not to use it as a bludgeon to condemn yourself or others – but to align it with the viewpoint God Himself has of you.  The God who said “I see everything and everything is good” was looking at you when He said that.

This mental alignment may involve cleaning up some messes, but the capacity and wherewithal to do so are as much a part of your progress as correctly identifying yourself as God’s own likeness.  And often, when we humbly and persistently seek God’s solution to redeeming the past, those messes simply fade away.

Okay, so this isn’t necessarily an overnight process.  That’s not to say that healing can’t occur overnight!  But being persistently willing to give up our attachment to our own or others harmful actions, or to stop attributing cause or effect to unhappy events and circumstances really helps us to keep thought in tune with God’s outlook.

Be patient with yourself as you take this on – but do take it on.  It will lift you and all of those in your sphere of influence above the downward spiral of the past.  And that makes the now much more enjoyable.

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.