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Find Safety within the Walls of Our Strong City
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson:
Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced
for study during the week of May 27—June 2, 2013

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.
Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

Have you ever been outside on a very windy day and found as you turn a corner the buildings protect you from the wind? Driving through the farmlands, you can see how a row of trees shields the farmhouse from strong winds. Walls of whatever type are an important shelter. They keep unwanted things out. The Golden Text refers to a strong city surrounded by God’s salvation. As the tornado in Oklahoma reminded us, even walls can be broken and breached, but God is impervious. For permanent, spiritual protection, we find God is more reliable than the best of humanly constructed walls.

Before deciding what type of barrier one needs, it is helpful to know what the barrier is intended to keep out. A screen keeps out insects, but isn’t very effective against the elements. So adding glass to the screened opening is a good idea. Walls are great for fortifying a location, or a group of people, but if you venture outside, you need individual protection. When faced with hostile forces, we need armor. Here again, you need to know what type of weapons you might be confronted with: A wet suit might keep out water, but wouldn’t be much good against a hockey puck.

As Christians, we need to get a clear sense of the types of challenges we might face. The Responsive Reading warns that we are not fighting a battle against flesh and blood, but “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” What kind of protection can we use for this? The “whole armor of God.” Just as a warrior prepares thoroughly for battle, we put on our spiritual armor, that protects us from both the obvious, and more subtle evils that aim to strike us down.

We’ve talked about the armor of God quite a bit in previous editions of CedarS Lesson Application Ideas. We’ve seen that we need to use the whole armor, not just part of it. This time around, I’m noticing that the armor protects us against “the wiles of the devil.” These are  evil’s stealthy deceptions designed to catch us off-guard. Theologian Albert Barnes points out that “Satan” doesn’t use obvious methods—”He approaches us not in repulsive forms, but comes to recommend some plausible doctrine, to lay before us some temptation that shall not immediately repel us. He presents the world in an alluring aspect; invites us to pleasures that seem to be harmless, and leads us in indulgence until we have gone so far that we cannot retreat.”  Being “girded” with truth is essential because it helps us identify enemies and keeps us honest in our commitment to the truth. That’s also why we need to have on the “breastplate of righteousness”—our hearts protected by goodness, integrity, holiness, purity. A defect in character is like a chink in the armor that allows an opening at which the enemy can strike. Our feet are prepared—ready—with the Gospel, the word of God, protecting us from treacherous obstacles as we journey on. This includes study of the Scriptures—without which we won’t get very far. The “shield of faith” refers to the type of shield that covers the whole body, and deflects specifically the fiery missiles intended to lodge into and ignite the shield, causing the warrior to abandon it, leaving him defenseless. No “darts” of evil can cause us to abandon our faith. The “helmet” symbolically protects our thoughts so we cannot be confused by evil deceptions. Beyond defensive items, we have the greatest offensive weapon—the “sword of Spirit, the word of God.” We do not find ourselves in parley with evil. That would be to abandon the word of God, which to the enemy is like having us throw away our sword, and fight with bare hands. As we wield our sword, our word of God, tactfully and powerfully, we will vanquish the enemy.

Section 1: God Is the Only Power
One thing to be careful about when talking about defending ourselves against evil is to remember that however cunning or formidable evil seems to be, the fact remains that God is the only power. Our strong city, our temple, our consciousness derives its stability from the one and only God (B1). The Psalmist intuitively seeks refuge in God when feeling the pressure of seemingly malevolent and powerful enemies (B2). There is nothing safer than trusting God’s protection. There have always been those in society who seek other methods of protection. Oddly enough, they are often quite superstitious and mystical. Philosopher David Hume thought that religion itself evolved not from an innate yearning for goodness and love of God, but rather, as an attempt to explain natural disasters. It was a negative approach, trying to find ways to appease the forces that seemed beyond human control. In our modern times, there is an abundance of mystical, and supernatural literature, television shows, and films all imagining fantastical creatures both good and bad in classic battles of good versus evil. It’s an attempt to find something spiritual in life, but for some reason, rather than actually turning to God, they make up some absurd fantasy. The Scriptures warn against falling for the mystical and supernatural (B3). The consistent refrain throughout the Old and New Testaments is that “the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else” (B4)

Mary Baker Eddy reasoned from that very premise. If God is ever present, then evil is “never present” (S1). God is the maximum good and evil is “a suppositional lie.” Mrs. Eddy gives evil a specific name: “animal magnetism” (S2). We have to remember though, that this is only a term, not a real thing, or entity. The figurative language used in Scripture was designed to keep us on our toes, so we don’t fall into believing a lie. But as we mentioned above, no matter how much evil appears to be an intelligence in opposition to God, it is only a belief in, and opposition to God. She says this belief is “either ignorant or malicious.” Our textbook cautions us that if we give evil power, we lose our sense of God’s omnipotence and this is as destructive to our spiritual sense, as  are the false beliefs in mystical and supernatural powers (S3). In Christian Science there are no mysteries or unexplained supernatural phenomena. Anything that assumes matter to be intelligent is a myth; and when we realize that God is the only Mind, and that only God controls man, the so-called mysteries and unexplained phenomena, including sin and death disappear (S4).

Section 2: God’s Plan
We often hear people explain an event by saying it was “God’s will,” or when referring to future plans, we might hear the phrase “God willing.” Often these are little more than superstitious phrases uttered so as not to “jinx” one’s plans, or to attribute to God either a success or failure. As we know, most people, if they believe in God at all, believe He is subject to change and that He either causes or allows both good and bad things to happen. As Christian Scientists, we know that God’s plan is always good, and that whenever we embark on a plan of action that we feel is the right way to go, we need to be sure that we are affirming that God is indeed the only power in control, and that He alone governs the working out of His plan.

The two citations in the Lesson from Job (B5,6) are a bit out of context, but the gist of both of them is that God’s plan is the only plan and we would do well to yield our personal preferences, and do our best to adhere to His divine plan. God isn’t influenced by any outside force, and if we expect our plans to succeed we need to keep pace with God, and beware of any supposed contradictory influences.

Nehemiah had a plan (B7). It was an honest idea that came to him through prayer. He was careful to proceed slowly and not to push things through humanly. As we’ve noted in previous “Metaphysical Application Ideas” (Mets), his approach to the king’s query was particularly suited to appeal to the king’s sensibilities. The Persians were sensitive to the disturbing of sepulchers. He found common ground with the king, who sympathized with his desire to preserve the city of his ancestors. He didn’t blab about his plans once the king gave him the OK. He kept his business to himself until he felt impelled to divulge his mission. Once he did, he met the usual resistance: “This plan must be against the rules;” “You can’t get away with this.” But Nehemiah dismissed their argument pointing out that they had no standing in the decision.

Mrs. Eddy’s statement about “theodicy” indicates a unique aspect of Christian Science. “Theodicy” is a vindication or justification of how it is that a God who is all good, still permits natural and moral evil within His government. Christian Science declares that all divine action is right and good. Any opposite action is simply wrong and false (S5). The only legitimate action is from God and is 100% good. Evil in whatever form, is not real—neither person, place nor thing (S6). There is no power against God in Science (S7). Therefore, His plan is always good and is the only plan there is. Evil claims power both to oppose and thwart God’s plan, but evil is not power. The only power is goodness and in proportion to our goodness, we have access to the only power.

Our Leader was experienced enough to know that when one takes ownership of a divine idea and puts it to practice, there is often resistance to it, sparked by envy. But she gives us the green light to rebuke the errors confronting us without hesitation. In fact, she counsels us to never let error go without attempting to correct it (S8). Again, we find the warning to avoid dissimulation. We can’t pretend we’re doing something else, or be shy about it. We have to boldly accept our mission and place it squarely on the foundation of Christ. Then “neither pride, prejudice, bigotry, nor envy” can disturb, delay or hinder us (S9).

Section 3: De-fence!
Even if the delays and challenges that come with beginning a mission have been put down, we still have to continue to defend the work we’re doing. Starting a race, project, or mission is only the beginning.

Nehemiah’s enemies were openly hostile to him. They conspired to stop the work with the threat of using force (B8). They intended to frighten the workers and stop progress on the wall. Theologian and Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry (1662-1714), while by Christian Science standards, was steeped in traditional theology, was fiercely devoted, and had a keen eye for spotting anything that would deter Christians from their holy cause. Commenting on Nehemiah’s story, he wrote this: “The hindering good work is what bed men aim at, and promise themselves success in; but good work is God’s work, and it shall prosper…If our enemies cannot frighten us from duty, or deceive us into sin, they cannot hurt us…We must watch always against spiritual enemies, and not expect that our warfare will be over till our work is ended. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, which we ought to have always at hand, and never to have to seek for it…Every true Christian is both a laborer and a soldier, working with one hand, and fighting with the other.” Christ Jesus very pointedly urges us to take heed, “watch and pray” (B9).

Mrs. Eddy too, emphasized the importance of watchful defense (S10, 11). She tells us that maliciousness cannot harm us if we “build a strong defense” (S12). The enemy wants to stop us from our holy work by either scaring us, or by making us doubt ourselves (S13). We should be aware that fear and doubt do not come from God, and are tools of the enemy, while always remembering that evil is just a suggestion, and can’t force us to do anything unless we allow it. Mrs. Eddy expected teachers of Christian Science to teach their students how to defend themselves against this enemy. When she first introduced the sentence on page 442:30 (S14), she thought it was so important that she sent a notice urging all Christian Scientists to purchase the new edition of the textbook in order to read her admonition. She writes: “I request the Christian Scientists universally to read the paragraph beginning at line 30 of page 442 in the edition of Science and Health which will be issued February 29 [1908]. I consider the information there given to be of great importance at this stage of the workings of animal magnetism, and it will greatly aid the students in their individual experiences” (Miscellany 236:24). Being a law unto yourself is a great defense. As the builders of the wall worked with one hand and held their weapon in the other, we need to keep our main focus on actively doing good, and when necessary, be ready to handle evil as it arises. Then we get right back to work. Our quest is to overcome evil with good at all times (S15). When we consciously keep ourselves in the “whole armor of God”—”the panoply of Love”—we are out of the enemy’s reach.

Section 4: Deception with a Smile
Since open threats weren’t effective, Nehemiah’s enemies turned to deception and intrigue (B10). It’s worth mentioning here, that while we most often think of opposition to right endeavors as coming from without, we also have to be on guard against the opposition that comes from within. Animal magnetism that seems to come from our own thought is called “aggressive mental suggestion,” and The Manual of The Mother Church warns us to defend ourselves daily against it (Manual 42:4). Turning again to Matthew Henry we feel a particular need for urgency and watchfulness in this regard. “Let those who are tempted to idle merry meetings by vain companions, thus answer the temptation, We have work to do, and must not neglect it. We must never suffer ourselves to be overcome, by repeated urgency, to do anything sinful or imprudent; but when attacked with the same temptation, must resist it with the same reason and resolution.”

Note that the enemies tried to draw Nehemiah away from the relative safety of his compatriots and isolate him so he would be easier to harm. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, also point out that the “open letter” was a tip-off to Nehemiah of Sanballat’s unsavory motives. JFB tells us that in Persia at that time, the customary way to send a formal letter was to roll it tightly, flatten it, and seal the ends. Then enclose it in a bag and wrap a ribbon around it. An “open letter” is a sign of contempt that would be immediately noticed by Nehemiah. Whatever the method, Nehemiah didn’t take the bait. He was “doing a great work” so that he could not “come down.” Do we maintain our cause with that level of devotion and protection?

Our Leader made every effort to alert her followers and students to the deceptive practices of animal magnetism (S16). She tells us that if we’re not watchful we can be lured into “indolence.” Indolence means “ habitual idleness; indisposition to labor; laziness; inaction, or want of exertion of body or mind, proceeding from love of ease or aversion to toil” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). We are expected to be alert and to expose error in every guise, but—and here’s the key—”realize no reality in them” (S17). We need to be alert to all the modes of evil. Just because someone has an attractive personality, does not mean they have our best interests at heart (S18). Mrs. Eddy echoes Matthew Henry by warning us not to waste time in idleness or to make decisions based on popularity (S19). Like Nehemiah, we need to remain totally devoted to God and know, that our obedience is the source of our strength (S20). This counsel holds true for everything we do. “Devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible” (S21). That reminds me again of our CedarS Camps theme this summer—”Put Your Whole Self In.” No dissimulation, no distraction. Focusing on a right endeavor and fully embracing the mission protects everyone involved in everything we do. 

Section 5: God, the Only Mind, Sweeps Aside All Objections
Christ Jesus was naturally, 100% devoted to his mission. Everything he did was supported by the power of the Holy Ghost (B11). Of course, he had detractors too. His healing work and genuine holiness made the Pharisees look bad. Rather than change their bad habits and follow his direction, their envy tried to find ways to discredit Jesus and to say he was working with the devil (B12). That’s really a ridiculous position, and Jesus pointed out the absurdity of it. “if Satan cast our Satan…how shall then his kingdom stand?”

No less absurd is the occasional claim that Christian Science is somehow the “work of the devil.” It may seem odd, but animal magnetism still seems to convince some people that Christian Science isn’t Christian. Sometimes we’re called a “cult,” or “evil.” Some believe that even if we are well intentioned, practicing Christian Science is dangerous. Christian Science is none of these things. All of these falsehoods are the result of animal magnetism. The purpose of animal magnetism is, and always has been, to stop the activity of the Christ. It’s up to us to prove that Christian Science is safe, effective, and totally Christian.

Our demonstration relies on our understanding that God is the only power. We can’t succeed if we think evil has any reality whatsoever (S22). I love the idea of exterminating error. Science and Health tells us the “exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind…” (S23). Knowing that there is only one Mind eliminates every possibility of another mind, which automatically eliminates the possibility of hypnotism, because hypnotism is one mortal mind controlling another. We need to be watchful not to allow hypnotism to seep into our healing practice. Any time we think that there is one mind influencing another, even for good purposes, we are believing in two minds, and liable to fall into hypnotism rather than practicing Christian Science (S24). In Christian Science there is only One Mind—God. Another reason to make sure we are practicing Christian Science rather than hypnotism is that when one mind is influencing another, it’s a temporary artificial change and can be reversed. In pure Christian Science healing, there is only one Mind and the truth cannot be reversed (S25). Our Master expected us to be healers and we do it by being completely governed by God alone (S26). To the extent that we are, our obedience will be proven through healing results.

Section 6: In Our Strong City, “The Lord Is There”
In the Golden Text we began the Lesson with the image of a strong city with God’s salvation being the walls. We saw that the city represented a safe collective haven for the protection of its occupants. In the Responsive Reading we saw that individual armor was necessary as well. Nehemiah was compelled to restore the walls of the city and this included fortifying the gates. All these images may serve to represent our efforts to build a safe place in our present experience—a place that keeps out evil and protects what is good. We might think of this place of refuge as “the church militant.” The city referred to in this last section is the “church triumphant.” It’s the holy place in which there are no more wars. It’s a fixed, permanent place that shall not be removed (B13). John’s vision of the “holy city, new Jerusalem” (B14) is perfect and complete. Like Nehemiah’s city, the holy city has gates, but they’re always open. This indicates that in the holy city, fear is unknown. All evil has already been vanquished, and there are no enemies left. The city is lit from within with the glory of God, and nothing unholy or sinful enters it. Ezekiel had a similar vision in which the name of the city is “The Lord is there” (B15). This habitation—this haven—is reality.

Science and Health describes this city as representing “the light and glory of divine Science” (S27). Love shines from within it, and there is no need for anything else. All earthly powers are relinquished within its gates (S28). This holy habitation is surely heaven, and it is the only real habitation we could ever have. This city is real right now. It’s the mission of church to help us realize the presence of this spiritual environment. Do we live in the place called “The Lord is there”? If we do, it will be clear to us that evil is “never there”—powerless and unintelligent, because God is All (S29). Adversaries don’t stand a chance because we live in the presence of eternal Mind. By definition church awakens mankind to the possibility, practical demonstration, and attainment of this spiritual reality. While pointing to the spiritual reality as both our origin and destination, church is both the symbol of, and the pathway to this holy city (S30).

This Church is our safe place—our refuge. Much more than brick and mortar, or a human institution, it’s a point of view we take with us everywhere we go. Surrounded by its walls we’re protected from every foe. In turn, we need to do our part to fortify the gates when necessary. Our strength is in proportion to our goodness, and we triumph through the understanding that God is All. So let’s agree to live in that holy city right now, safe within its walls forever.


[If you haven’t given thanks lately for CedarS free-given Mets, NOW would be a perfect time to do so! There's a need before 1st session (June 9) for $10k more for camperships, $7k more to fix horse pasture fences, $4k more for a truck, $250 more for a computer…  BIG THANKS in advance for MAKING A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT ONLINE, BY PHONE OR BY MAIL!]

[And, it's NOT too LATE to enroll or encourage others to enroll or to get CAMPERSHIP AID; but to finalize the hiring of a full staff, CedarS needs campers who are "on the fence to
SIGN UP ONLINE ASAP! 
We’re confident that FINANCIAL AID requested will be available as needed!]

[The application ideas above are from a Christian Science Practitioner who has served as a Resident Practitioner at CedarS Camps. They are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp!  YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/

Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes & writer of its bracketed, italic additions.]

[Check out CedarS Camps in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks with Unique Features that transform lives through:

  • Role-model activity and cabin counselors, 1 per 2-3 campers, aiming to follow our Founder’s 5 Fundamentals to give “an appreciation of spiritual sense & an abundance of wholesome, joyous activity”;
  • Unique RECREATIONAL RESOURCES (shown in a Lego sculpture) with:
    2 miles of private “onshore assets” and the state’s only Cable Watersports (Walking On Water) Park;
    *50mph Ziplines to and from Bible Park’s “Answered Prayer Theater”
    * A 310 ft long Waterslides in an Aquatic Center w/ Lap & Dive Pools;;
    * “Mediterranean” Island-hopping on kayaks & Stand-Up-Paddleboards;
    * 7 Tournament Ski Boats & a pontoon for Ski Camp, CIP, Jr. Leadership…
    * Services for 20-400 at Summits, Retreats, CS Nurse Conference, BluCamp…;
    90 Horses, a Covered Arena & 850 acres of woods, creeks, & trails to explore!
  • Yummy Food for soul AND body!  Click to see testimonials in writing!

Explore easy ONLINE Enrollment for campers & families as well as for Parents, Grands or Sponsors  to join our team in home-like accommodations!]

[Our priority need now is filling camp with Sunday School students who are ready for a fun, life-transforming experience in applying Christian Science!  So, our main funding goal this Spring is to raise funds for CedarS campership applicantsAlso greatly appreciated are operations support and our herd of horses still needs your "adoptive" support 
If you'd rather not give online, thank you for mailing your checks to:
CedarS Camps Office,
1314 Parkview Valley Dr.,
Manchester, MO 63011

Or for calling us at
636-394-6162 to give a monthly pledge or a single, credit or debit card gift.]

[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free — by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Helga and Manfred; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio.  A voluntary French translation by Pascal or Denise cannot be guaranteed due to their busy schedules. An "official" version of the weekly Portuguese translation is now available for CedarS Mets, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for the Portuguese version.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 13-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in subsequent emails.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-30). The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one.  We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]

 

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