Help thou mine unbelief.

October 30, 2014

This is what the frightened father said to Jesus regarding his epileptic son, after the Master had reassured him that all things are possible to him who believes.  The disciples had not been able to heal the boy.  Was Jesus now suggesting that it was the father’s unbelief that was the problem?  No, of course not.  Jesus didn’t respond with a reprimand, or doctrine, or even encouragement.  He simply healed the child and returned him to his grateful father.  (Mark 9:17-29)

Doesn’t it seem that we sometimes find ourselves in a similar situation?  We yearn to trust.  We hope our faith will be firm.  Yet doubt fills our hearts.  We can’t seem to get beyond our own unbelief.  But there is a way to move forward, to find peace and healing.

It’s important to note Jesus’ response to his disciples’ query as to why they could not heal the boy.  He replied, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Since John the Baptist’s disciples commented that Jesus didn’t fast (see Luke 5:33 for example) it’s not likely he would consider not eating a solution.  And he said as much in the Sermon on the Mount, admonishing, “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink…”  (Matt 6:25)

Perhaps the Master was suggesting a kind of fast from fearful and negative thoughts and behaviors, much like Isaiah reports God as saying: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”  (Chapter 58, verse 6)  Could it be that refusing to mentally and spiritually consider any enslaving thought, coupled with heartfelt prayer, was the necessary preparation for the kind of healing Jesus expected?

Mary Baker Eddy, in her discussion of this Bible story, offers this definition of fasting: “refraining from admitting the claims of the senses.”  (Miscellany p. 222)  And she called the prayers of Jesus “deep and conscientious protests of truth.”  (Science and Health p. 12) These two explanations show the Christly altitude of Jesus’ outlook as well as what he was striving to impart to his students.  They would eventually learn this lesson and successfully heal and save others as he did.

We can benefit from this scriptural teaching as well.  We can recognize the sensational stories of fear and pain and resist them.  We can rely on the comforting presence of the Christ to shift thought to a more divine perspective, where healing can occur safely and naturally.  Unbelief doesn’t stand a chance once thought begins to move.

And rest assured.  The love of God is big enough and full enough and close enough to help you do this.  For with God all things are possible.

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.

A Great Bumper Sticker

April 25, 2014

I carry a Bible and I know how to use it!

And my ammunition is the 91st Psalm, the Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, and The Lord’s Prayer.

What’s in your glove box?

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.


Where do you live?

February 6, 2014

If someone asks you that question, the typical response is to give a location: this part of town, or on that street.  The Apostle Paul took a completely different approach when he said, “in him we live…”  He was referring to God: in God we live.  God who is infinite and fills all space.  Wow!  Paul went on to explain that we move and have our being in God, as well.  Live, move, being.  Isn’t that everything?  (Acts 17:28)

Think about that.  Paul didn’t say we will live, or we used to live.  Just, we live.  Now.  Here.

What does that mean for you and me? To really answer that means getting a better sense of who God is because you can’t know much about where you live if you don’t know the neighborhood!  Or as the Psalmist put it, “Lord, thou has been our dwelling place in all generations.”  (Ps 90:1)

The Bible tells us a lot about God: that He is Love; (1 John 4:8) and that He is Spirit; ((John 4:24) and that He is perfect; (Matt 5:48) and that He is invariable (James 1:17) just to name a very few.

So if we live, move and have our being in Love that leaves no room for unloveliness, no room for anything that is not Love.  Hatred, greed, fear, disease, whatever is not like or of Love, is not like or of us.  Living, moving, and being in Spirit means that we are spiritual, not material: in and of Spirit but not in or of matter.  Having a perfect God as our dwelling place means we don’t exist or act or express in imperfection: instead perfect God, perfect creation.  Unchanging Deity means that life, movement, and “isness” must be equally consistent and good, without harmful change.

The first chapter of Genesis tells us as much: that God made man (you, me, all) in His image and likeness – as His reflection.  (1:26,27)  In other words, as God is, so is that which lives, moves, and has its being within Him.  It’s a very direct correlation, don’t you think?

So, if you want to know more about where you live and how you live, look to the Almighty within Whom you safely and harmoniously abide.  It’s all good, inside and out.

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.

Good Gifts

December 26, 2013

In Luke, Jesus tells his followers “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?  or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (10:11-13)

Building on that, Mary Baker Eddy adds, “When a hungry heart petitions the divine Father-Mother God for bread, it is not given a stone, — but more grace, obedience, and love.  If this heart, humble and trustful, faithfully asks divine Love to feed it with the bread of heaven, health, holiness, it will be conformed to a fitness to receive the answer to its desire; then will flow into it the ‘river of His pleasure,’ the tributary of divine Love, and great growth in Christian Science will follow, — even that joy which finds one’s own in another’s good.”  (Miscellaneous Writings p. 127)

Both statements show that God’s good gifts are ever present, and already bestowed upon us.  Let us accept them by opening our hearts to receive them – by redirecting thought distracted by discord – to see and recognize their immediate fruition.

These are the gifts that keep on giving.

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.

My cat and the picture hook

December 12, 2013

I have a cat – several, actually – but this story is about one in particular.  I recently removed a picture from my office to a temporary new location.  The wall is now completely bare except for the picture hook.  My cat has been fascinated by the hook which – apparently – looks like a bug on the wall from her feline perspective.  She’s climbed on the chair close by to swat it and sniff it, not just once but multiple times.  Each time, it’s still just a picture hook.   But she is not deterred.

While this may appear to be a particularly cat-like idiosyncrasy, it’s also very much a part of human nature.   Look at this story from the Bible book of John: Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, has come to Jesus in secret.  He wants to have a conversation with The Master about spiritual things but is caught off-guard by Jesus’ statement “ye must be born again.”  Picturing a horrendous re-entry through the birth canal, he asks, “can [a man] enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (chapter 3:1-12)

That picture of the human process preoccupies Nicodemus such that he can’t grasp the larger significance of the profound message of spiritual new birth.  Jesus chides him with these words: “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”

How often do we focus – to our distinct disadvantage – on the human pictures and procedures, and completely miss the spiritual opportunities that are right in front of us?  How often are we riveted by whatever the issue may be, instead of lifting thought to a more godlike orientation? Salvation doesn’t come by mucking about in the problem, but by more consistently – and more humbly – turning to God for His direction and guidance.

That’s really in keeping with the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  (Exodus 20:3)  A passage in Deuteronomy makes it even clearer: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”  (chapter 6:5)  It’s hard to love God that much if you’re looking away from Him at whatever is not Him.

Mary Baker Eddy offers this observation: “The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love.”  (Science and Health page 322)

I am happy to say that, just like my cat, you will eventually learn that there is no fulfillment in continuing to believe that the picture hook is a bug.  Life, real life – God’s Life – is much more satisfying than anything else you can do.  Let’s start there!

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


December 5, 2013

Are you struggling with unfinished business?  Do you have relationship issues that don’t seem to have a solution?  Are your finances not quite secure?  What about health conditions that seem to linger?  Did you know that all of these (yes, every one) can be resolved here and now through prayer: the kind of prayer Jesus prayed!

Jesus’ prayer was not asking God if it was His will that the multitude should starve or eat, or that the ill should die or live.  The Master’s prayer was an affirmation that God’s power had already fed the multitude, already healed the sick, already raised the dead.  And then he showed that divine fact to be true in his ministrations – he lived his conviction.  The resolution was immediate and it was always good – always in mankind’s favor.

He said of himself, “I am the way…”  (John 14:6)  That’s not just the way once we die, but the way here and now.  And not just the way to live a life of goodness, but to live a healthy and happy one too.  In the same chapter of John, Jesus goes on to say, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”  (vs. 12)

These two powerful statements show that believing in him and following him in the way means we can legitimately expect to see and do his healing works today.  We can expect to resolve all of those scary, painful, limiting scenarios today.  In fact, it’s already happening.  Countless people are being healed of countless conditions by trusting that Jesus actually meant what he said.

Everything can – must – be resolved in “the way” that our Savior told us to do it.  Although it may seem supernatural or miraculous, it’s actually a “very present help” as explained by the Psalmist. (Ps 46:1)

You don’t have to keep putting up with those problems.  You don’t have to wonder if you’ll ever be well, or out of debt, or happy.  Mary Baker Eddy points out, “It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.” (Science and Health page 494)

All mankind is you and me and every hour is now.  Let’s resolve to trust God and seek healing – and let’s expect results – just as Jesus did!  Let’s see every issue resolved now.

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 is eternal but…

October 24, 2013

…you have to die first.  What?!  That doesn’t really make any sense, does it?  Jesus actually said, “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”  (John 11:12)  And again, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”  (John 8:51)

There’s a principle called Occam’s Razor which states that the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected: in essence, pick the simplest answer.

The simplest answer here is that Jesus meant what he said.  Just because it appears that everybody dies let’s not assume that Jesus was kidding.

The Master gave some very clear instructions: 1) live and believe in me and 2) keep my saying.  If we’re seeing death, if we’re dying, maybe we need to do a better job of obeying those instructions.  Maybe we need to stop judging the veracity of his words by whether or not they fit our viewpoint.  Maybe we just need to do what he said.  All the way, all the time.

  • Love your neighbor as yourself

  • Cast the beam out of your own eye

  • Be reconciled to your brother

  • Seek God’s righteousness first

  • Don’t worry about food or clothing

  • Savor the things of God, rather than the things of men

  • Go and do thou likewise

  • Heal the sick

  • Raise the dead

These are just a few of the things he directed us to do.  And then he said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  (John 14:15)

Let’s not make the words convenient for our lifestyles.  Let’s live the message so clearly that we can say with him, “Life is eternal.”  And know why.

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.