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[PSST: Teach Students the Dominion of Defending Thought!]

Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Ancient and Modern Necromancy, Alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism Denounced”

for Sunday, May 29, 2016

By Tom and Amy Evans, former staff members and big fans of CedarS

[Note: Scripts for re-enactments of Nehemiah building the wall and of Jesus healing the Gadarene are now posted in the upper right of this week's Met webpage.]

Dear readers, remember you can always turn to other translations of the original text when the phrasing from the King James Version is unclear.

PSST for the Golden Text:

In Psalm 119 every verse includes a synonym for God’s law and why God’s law is important. In this case “thy word” and “thy law”.

Hate is a strong word. What is it okay to hate? Why would we “hate” vain thoughts? The NIV translates the object of the writer’s hatred as “double-minded people” and the NLT translates the thing being hated as “those with divided loyalties.” This is just like the verse in last week’s Responsive reading from the Sermon on the mount where Jesus says you cannot serve both God and money (Matt 6:24). Why do you think this same theme keeps coming up? Were they setting us up for being focused on God alone this week?

PSST for the Responsive Reading

Vain thoughts are lumped together with “earthly, sensual, devilish” wisdom (James 3:14). How do James and Paul propose we overcome these tendencies to look away from God? Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you. What is our responsibility? How much work is it to turn away from the wrong thing and get closer to the right thing? Can you give an example of how you’ve done this in your experience?

One fun theme running throughout the lesson this week is introduced in the Responsive Reading when Paul speaks of the “Weapons of our warfare” (II Cor 10:4). Each section introduces a specific method for overcoming false beliefs. These can be the weapons of our Warfare. [An idea for one Science and Health citation from each section has been prepared by Sid Bingham to be shared at CedarS Memorial Weekend in the form of six take-home-from-Sunday-School cards. To download a copy just click this link and then the Word file in the upper right hand corner of the webpage.]

Section 1 (S 3) ACT with “the maximum of good” (103:15);

Section 2 (S 9) COMMIT to seeking and study divine thoughts (462:23);

Section 3 (S 14) WATCH, be “sober and vigilant” (324:13);

Section 4 (S 21) DEFEND “Build a strong defense” (234:31);

Section 5 (S 27) HEAL “to-day… Christ casts our evil and heals the sick” (142:31);

Section 6 (S 30) KNOW THE ALLNESS OF GOD “overcome evil, disease, death” (450:19).

PSST for Section 1 [B2 stands for Bible citation B2; S2 for Science & Health citation S2]

For citation B2: Look up Isaiah 5:18 in other translations http://biblehub.com/isaiah/5-18.htm. I like the NLT (New Living Translation): “What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!” Someone dragging a cart behind them must be yoked to it like a beast of burden—yikes! How do you cut the cords of thoughts claiming to be good that are really evil (Isaiah 5:20)?

Citation S2 is the first question in the chapter Recapitulation. This is the chapter that is studied during class instruction, a two-week long course where Christian Scientists learn to heal. Why do you think Mary Baker Eddy started Recapitulation with a question about God? Why do we need to know God best in order to handle error? Think about how a bank teller can identify counterfeit bills. They familiarize themselves as much as possible with the true bill and then false bills will stand out very clearly.

Look at S5. What does an exterminator do? What is their job? What is our job as exterminators of error?

[An idea from citation S3 is on a take-home-from-CedarS-Sunday-School card by Sid Bingham.]

PSST for Section 2

I love the advice from the writer in citation B11. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” What does section 2 say about a singular focus on God’s love? How would you describe the steps outlined by the Bible Lesson Committee in this section. Here is just one suggestion.

B6 desiring “ordered steps”;

B7 and B8 awareness of double-mindedness;

B9 freedom to practice of holy life;

B10 guidance in a singular holy focus;

B11 establishment in a singular holy focus.

“Are thoughts divine or human?” (S9). Why do you think Eddy says this is the important question? What does this have to do with the removal, the “excision” of error? What is excision? Why should we excise error? [See an idea from citation S9 is on a take-home-from-CedarS-Sunday-School card by Sid Bingham.]

In S11, Eddy writes that “man can do no harm”. Do you agree? Why is this? Why is this important to keep in mind? If man does no harm, can we hurt others or be hurt by others?

PSST for Section 3

Nehemiah stands up to the temptation to doubt and be double-minded (see RR) from Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. Why does Nehemiah wait to tell anyone what he is doing in Jerusalem when he first arrives? How does the story present the concept of mental malpractice, and how do S16 and S17 address mental malpractice in this situation? You may have read Nehemiah Builds the Wall published by the Christian Science Publishing Society in the 1970s.

Discuss how the definitions of Jerusalem (S12) and Heaven (S13) connect with S14 and spirituality laying “siege to materiality”. Which side are you fighting on? How are you being watchful, sober and vigilant (S15)? Why is it important to be alert in our thought? What are we guarding against? How is evil a mockery of strength (S18)? What comfort comes from that statement? Share an example of how you witnessed the lack of power in evil. [An idea from citation S15 is on a take-home-from-CedarS-Sunday-School card by Sid Bingham.]

PSST for Section 4

This time being double-minded comes from the priest of the Temple, Shemaiah. Look at the passage again. Why did he, a Jewish priest, try to trick Nehemiah (Neh 6:10-12)? What temptations at school or during the day try to distract you from important spiritual work? How do you discern the difference between human will (S22) and God’s messages (S23)?

How are you building a defense in your thought? Why is defending your thought so important (S21 and S23)? [An idea from citation S21 is on a take-home-from-CedarS-Sunday-School card by Sid Bingham.]

PSST for Section 5

Look at the pericope where Jesus meets Legion (Mark 5:1-15). How is Jesus using the approaches of removing error mentioned in the lesson this week? See the list at the top of this PSST. Which one would you use if you were speaking to Legion?

A friend shared in a testimony this week the idea that in section 4, marker B15, the walls are ineffective at stopping intruders because there are no Gates. Once the gates or doors are built, the person controlling those Gates needs to be in their right mind. Restoring Legion to his right mind and casting out the devils or false beliefs about him are evidence of Jesus building those doors on the gates and showing Legion how to control the flow of ideas in and out of his consciousness. Discuss this idea with your students. What do they think about it?

In S25, Eddy writes that “Truth destroys only what is untrue.” What untrue things is Truth destroying in your experience? [An idea from citation S25 is on a take-home-from-CedarS-Sunday-School card by Sid Bingham.]

How does Truth expose lies and destroy error? How are you standing porter at the door of thought (S28)? Are you being alert to what is allowed into your thinking? How does this connect with the defense built in section 4?

PSST for Section 6

Look at the Bible in Section 6 compared to the issues raised in the Responsive Reading. How are these affirmations of God’s power and the writer’s faith a response? Notice that James and Paul (in II Corinthians) give instructions:

[Desire] the wisdom that is from above,

Submit yourself to God,

Resist the devil,

Cast down imaginations,

The Psalmist in Ps 139:17 has absolute faith. This writer has already fought the good fight with all of his/her might (Hymn 59 from the Christian Science Hymnal)

Fight the good fight with all thy might,

Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;

Lay hold on Life, and it shall be

Thy joy and crown eternally.

The final weapon of our warfare presented this week is revealed in this section. “Truth must and will annihilate” error (S30). Merriam-Webster defines annihilate as to destroy completely. This means that error is completely destroyed, and nothing is left. [An idea from citation S30 is on a take-home-from-CedarS-Sunday-School card by Sid Bingham.]

The lesson wraps up with what is left when error is annihilated, divine understanding (S31) and eternal harmony (S32). How are you witnessing this in your experience? How are you experiencing the result of annihilated error?

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