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[Stop ruminating! Live to give! (See Section 3 & endnote.)]
“Life”
for July 21, 2013

prepared by John Biggs, CS, of Bend, Oregon
541.316.0809 / johnbiggscs@gmail.com / footstepsdrawingnear.com

This week's Bible Lesson on Life covers a lot of ground. Being fearless, understanding what you're doing, claiming your dominion over un-Godlike qualities… And the thing is, this Lesson isn't just for reading. Of course no Bible Lesson is just for perusing – we need to prove our understanding by demonstration, and keep practicing – but with a lesson subject like “Life,” isn't this a great place to get up and jump out from?  Let's be so aware, as we study the Lesson this week, of any temptations to distance ourselves from the truths stated in the Lesson.  Instead of saying, I can't do that yet, let's go try.

The great thing is, you are never alone as you strive to live the fullness of Life.  Many of you may be at Christian Science summer camps right now, or perhaps on vacation, or just enjoying a pleasant summer day.  But the same kind of community that you experience at summer camp is available for you, no matter where or when you are.  If you ever have questions or insights about concepts in the Bible Lesson, you can always go to the Global Sunday School discussion forums at ChristianScience.com to see what others are sharing and asking, and to share your own thought. If something you're wondering about hasn't been asked yet, you can be sure others are wondering the same thing; so, do everyone a favor and start the conversation!  Those forums are located at https://community.christianscience.com/community/sunday_school and everyone is welcome to participate there.  Of course, every Bible Lesson has so many facets, and you can always check out the Weekly Bible Lesson page on ChristianScience.com to explore some more resources related to each week's Lesson. That page is at http://christianscience.com/member-resources/for-churches/sunday-schools/this-week-s-bible-lesson . I hope you'll enjoy exploring those vast resources and opportunities.

On to the Lesson: I'm really grateful to get to share [CedarS 13-year tradition of Bible] Lesson Application Ideas (Apps) with you, this week!

Golden Text: I love the certainty in this statement. “This IS the record, that God HATH GIVEN to us eternal life.”  Doesn't smack of opinion, hypotheticals, or conditionality.  [And the conclusion, “and this life is in his Son”,] doesn’t leave us guessing as to how we discover eternal life, either – we find it in following what Jesus taught and by living after his example.

Responsive Reading: Often we think of our love for God, our gratitude for His gifts, after we've received something, or something has gone well, or once we've seen a full healing. But this Responsive Reading illustrates that our love for God can be the first thing on our minds as well! What does our love for God have to do with understanding God as Life, though?  When you love someone or something, you devote a lot of time and energy to the object of your love.  It could even seem like your life revolves around the object of your love.  Well, if we love God supremely, then we naturally 'walk before the Lord in the land of the living,' and in 'set[ting] the Lord always before me,' we don't have to fear that we'll end up adrift, for 'I shall not be moved.'  As we study the Bible Lesson this week, let's see how turning to God, thanking God, trusting and loving God FIRST, before waiting to see 'what life brings,' opens us up to the infinite possibilities and goodness of divine Life!

Section 1: Follow fearlessly [and harmoniously] where Life guides!
When you see something good ahead of you, do you rush to grab it and make sure you get it, keeping it from others?  Perhaps that competitive impulse is intensified if someone else is also going for it – for a job, an apartment, a new opportunity.  We don't want to feel that we could miss out on some good part of life.  Why was Abram able to let Lot go first, in choosing land to settle in?  [B2-B4]  Perhaps Abram's goal was not land at all, but was the pursuit of harmony (which Mary Baker Eddy included as part of the definition of 'heaven,' in the Glossary of Science & Health) [Choosing this heavenly way of harmonious thinking abounds at CedarS, from poster reminders like “The real Christian Scientist is constantly accentuating harmony in word and deed, mentally and orally” (Misc. 206:19) to a CedarS circle, closing the day with Founder Ruth Huff’s song to “think without strife.”] Abram’s seeking after harmony and after qualities, rather than after material so-called substance, was an indicator of his willingness to trust God with everything.  Abram wasn't afraid that he would lose out because of his commitment to God.  We, too, don't need to feel that we might miss out on fun parts of life by being devoted to divine Life.

Sometimes, though, like Abram, our devotion to God might separate us, at least for a bit, from others who are pursuing a different sense of happiness and fulfillment.  In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul not only mentions this, but encourages it: “come out from among them, and be ye separate.” (B5, 2 Cor. 6:17)  Is this a snobby thing to do?  Well, we certainly don't want to put others down – that wouldn't go along with following after divine Life, Love – but we can have the confidence to follow wherever God leads.  On page 238 of Science & Health, Mrs. Eddy writes, “To obey the Scriptural command, 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate,' is to incur society's frown; but this frown, more than flatteries, enables one to be Christian.”  Perhaps we can daily ask ourselves, am I caring more about society's frowns and flatteries, or am I striving to 'walk before the Lord?'  Let's practice radically living our trust in God, and discarding even just a little bit of our trust in the reports and assumptions of a limited, matter-based view of Life.  [In the only sentence where Mrs. Eddy uses the word “pressure”, she refers to this citation: Christian Scientists must live under the constant pressure of the apostolic command to come out from the material world and be separate.S&H 450:2]

Section 2: Don't wade blindly through life. Get a grip on what you're doing!
Why is understanding the “wellspring of life unto him that hath it”? (B6)  Won't we miss out on good stuff if we spend time in thoughtful prayer and in striving to understand Life, rather than in just living “pedal to the metal”?  As in anything we do, understanding the activity at hand is crucial to giving it our all.  I recently participated in a 10.5 mile obstacle course race and spent several months training for it.  I knew from the outset that I was not doing this to try to prove anything to anyone, or to try to get the best time, or even just for kicks.  I was engaging in this activity to challenge assumptions I've made about myself and my capabilities, to dive in to a fresh expression of Life, and to see how I could be a healer during the race itself.  Having this understanding firmly in thought throughout my training, and on race day, was a huge help.  I didn't have a coach pushing me on, friends working out with me, or anybody specifically running the course with me.  But since I knew why I was doing this, there was only one option: keep on!  The whole thing was a blast, and I experienced some wonderful healings throughout the whole endeavor.  I even had opportunities to support others on the race.

So if this many blessings came from understanding why I was running an obstacle race, imagine the blessings from understanding Life itself! [and our purpose in life** See endnote.]  Better yet: don't just imagine.  See!  Take citations S7 and S8 as an encouragement – give up those beliefs “that there is any true existence apart from God.”  Then we'll “gain the reality of Life…”  This is not a matter of time, either – after all, “The great spiritual fact must be brought out that man IS, not SHALL BE, perfect and immortal.” (S9)  Why sit around wondering if you'll ever be able to run a race, ever meet a new friend, ever be employed, ever have a healing?  Start with what you understand, no matter how small it may seem, and live like you want to understand more.

Section 3: Get rid of fishy stories about yourself and others!
The first chapter of Genesis may be one of the most familiar passages in the Bible to you.  Any time I read passages that are incredibly familiar to me, I like to look for even one fresh concept or application of the ideas.  I refuse to let any passage from Scripture, or Mary Baker Eddy's writings, become stale.  After all, this is the Science of Life, and what's fresher than Life!  Check out Hymn 218 for a lovely look at what a fresh sense of Life, “that maketh all things new,” can encompass.

Back to the passage at hand: In taking a fresh look at this today, I'm struck by the specific animals that man is recorded to have dominion over: fish, birds, cattle. Does this mean anything bad about these dear expressions of God? No! But what about in terms of metaphor?

There's a story about a fish that lived in a pond with all his fish friends and family. This fish always swam really high, right near the edge of the pond. The other fish all laughed at him for leaving the comfortable dark areas, with huge plants growing at the bottom for them to easily eat. But one day, this brave fish swam so fast, so high, that he popped out of the water and leapt into the air. He was only out of the water for a second, but he saw the forest around him, the sky above him, some dogs playing nearby, and a boy sleeping under a tree.  After jumping a few more times out of the water, he swam back to the other fish and tried to describe what he'd seen.  But all of the other fish wouldn't hear anything about it – the pond was the whole world to them, and how could there be anything else?  He wasn't able to convince any of them to even take a look.  Are you ever like those fishy friends, unwilling to look beyond what's immediately apparent to the senses?  Or are you willing to take a leap – to use the capabilities that you do, in fact, possess – and see if life is more than it immediately seems to be?  In the Gospel of John, Jesus has just called Philip to follow him and be his disciple.  Philip runs to get Nathanael and encourages him to join too.  Nathanael tries to get into a debate about whether or not Jesus could be for real, but Philip interrupts and just says, “Come and see!” and runs back to Jesus. (John 1:46)  Are you willing to come and see what God is doing?  Or do we want to waste time in endless debate with ourselves or others, theorizing and making pro and con lists, without letting the light of Life illumine our day?

What about birds?  Well, so another story goes, once all the birds gathered together to declare a bird king.  The sparrow suggested that the bird king be whoever could fly highest.  The eagles, hawks, and vultures all thought this was great, and since they were the biggest birds, they quickly silenced any naysayers to this idea.  Well, during the hubbub, the sparrow snuck around and quietly tucked himself under the feathers of the biggest eagle.  Soon, all the birds took off, flying high.  One by one, they all dropped away.  The eagle was still flying!  But whenever the eagle looked back to see if he had won yet, the sparrow popped out from his hiding place and darted above the eagle, chirping merrily that he was still highest.  Eventually, the eagle tired and couldn't fly one flap higher.  The sparrow darted out again, just above the eagle, and the eagle reluctantly declared that the sparrow was king.  In this case, the qualities I see represented here are duplicity, scheming, peer pressure, dishonesty… the list goes on.  Do we ever try to get ahead in life by falsely comparing ourselves to others (either to their detriment, or to ours!)?  Do we refuse to allow other ideas to be heard when we are working with others?  Are we quick to yield defeat when a lingering problem isn't resolved?  Let's see how we can claim our dominion over those 'bird-like' qualities – we'll get clearer views of our independence from limited thinking.

Now for cattle: Cows, and other ruminants, have several stomachs to help them digest their food.  You may have seen cows chewing their cud.  Now, this is a good thing for them, and there's nothing wrong with ruminating if you're a cow!  But what about ruminating in a mental way?  Replaying events in your mind, or running over countless possible endgames for an upcoming decision that you have to make?  Feeling victimized by lingering illness, or trapped in a challenging financial cycle?  You can actually have a healing of this ruminating, cycling thought!  The Book of Job mentions this: “If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward Him; if iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away… for then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot… thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: and thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.” (Job 11:13-19 is the whole passage.)  Let's be willing to lift our thought, even for one second, and “stretch our hands toward Him.” Cast off – even for one second – the imposition that you are stuck.  Be willing to stop ruminating for even one day.  And then be willing to shine, as we [end our trials and] drop the dust!  [Note that our metaphorical mental trials only start when we start ruminating – “The patient feels ill, ruminates, and the trial commences.”  S&H 430:19]

So, we love cows, birds, fish, and all of God's creation!  Dominion doesn't mean we abuse our relationship with the earth and all our neighbors.  But let's watch really closely to make sure we are expressing our dominion over any of these so-called animalistic tendencies and qualities!

Section 4: What is defining our lives?
Healing!  Healing enables us to see a clearer view of who we are, and who others are.  What we call 'the healing' is really a beautiful side-effect of a clearer understanding of our relation to God. Healing is revealing what God has done.  This is illustrated in a wonderful way in citation B14.  Jesus told the 'unclean spirit' to “come out of him.”  To me, this indicates that Jesus knew that this sickness was not a part of this man.  He treated this false supposition about man as an imposition and an impersonal blur on the true conception of Life's expression.  This illness was not 'just the way this guy was.'  This man was God's idea, and couldn't in reality have something which God did not give.  As Mary Baker Eddy elaborates on in the citations from Science & Health, Jesus never wasted one moment finding out more about a disease, or wondering about different prayers that might be more effective.  He saw God's own likeness.  Life is not made up of a random stitching-together of events.  God IS Life, and a great benefit of understanding the Science of Life is that we can confidently replace mortal, limited sense testimony with the illumination of what God is saying.  As citation S18 says, we don't need to let our “clear sense and calm trust” be overshadowed by fear.  Let Life define your life! [Don’t let a mere illusion make you feel trapped, like your back is against the wall. But if you ever do feel this way, it pays to have memorized and to review with conviction the W.A.L.L treatment paragraph on page 495 of Science and Health wherein its four sentences start with W, A, L, L. (S18)]

Section 5: Be single-minded with Life!
As we go through our days, are we weighing a lot of different things in the balance?  At the end of the day, if this and this happened, but not that and that, then was your day a bad day? Sometimes we vacillate back and forth, and let our days be reactions to circumstances around us.  Instead, wouldn't it be great to consciously shine out as the expressions of God that we are? What would it take for you to be like the centurion in citation B17, expressing such expectation of healing?  If we are weighing in factors like how long it's been, what internet searches reveal, and what this has been like for others, we are not giving our whole devotion to love for God.  Citation S19 makes it clear that we must be undivided in our attention and trust.  With such compassion, citation S22 also makes it clear that even if we are having trouble with that undivided trust in God, right now, it doesn't change the fact that man IS made in God's image and our growing understanding will indeed reveal this to us!  It is never too late.  Why not start right here, no matter what else is going on, and just devote yourself entirely to God for even one minute.  Keep practicing and living what you are learning!

Section 6: Go live it!
Our prayers don't help God.  We don't try to pray better in order to make sure God's work gets done.  We pray out of love for God, and as a response to God's love.  Even Jesus didn't MAKE stuff happen.  As citation S23 points out, “His mission was to reveal the Science of celestial being…”  Reveal, not create or shift.  This is why we can pray with confidence, and live with confidence, because the Science of being is already established.  Wherever we have been called, we can go forward with joy because our faith in God is stronger than our faith in limits or fear.   Take citation B20 as a daily reminder: whenever you speak, do it “as the oracles of God.”  Are we voicing fears, comparisons, apathy?  Or are we living witnesses to the fullness of Life?  We don't need to give in for one instant to the suggestion that we are poor, diseased, disabled, angry…  Let's keep our days so filled with the love of Life that the possibility of anything else is ludicrous.  Citation S28 says, “When divine Science is universally understood, [suffering, sinning, dying beliefs] will have no power over man, for man is immortal and lives by divine authority.”  Are we ushering in this promise and fact?  If those beliefs won't have any power over man, then they must not have power now.  Let's not wait for life to begin, or to get better.  Let's see, even a little bit more every day that God is Life and you have no other.  Know you are free, and live it!


[**Warren’s endnotes: Fulfill your Creator-ordained reason for living: “impart truth, health, and happiness, … this is… my reason for existing.”  Miscellany, 165:20]

[Check back later in the week for a video reenactment skit of "Jesus and the Humble Centurian”You can download a PDF-formatted script with follow-up questions by clicking on the link in the upper right corner of CedarS current metaphysical webpage.  This summer, as cabin groups of all ages tour CedarS Camps Bible Lands Park, they will have the opportunity to re-enact stories like this one from the current Christian Science Bible Lesson.  Each week, videos of selected skits will be posted on the CedarS website as well as on a community webpage for TMCYouth.com.  These scripts and follow-up questions may be downloaded free of charge by those seeking Bible-centered activities and contemporary applications for Sunday School classes and/or Bible study groups. These Bible skits were written by Sara Romo, a current CedarS counselor, as part of her Girl Scout Gold project. Sara raised over $1,000 to set up the initial costumes, props, and scriptural sets, and with your ongoing support, we hope to keep up this exciting new resource and improve it.]

[The above application ideas 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 studying and applying 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 & of the bracketed, italic additions.]

[Happy results from our recent LETTING NEEDS BE KNOWN:  
CAMPERSHIPS: Wonderful contributions needed for camperships have recently been given! Now, CedarS can fulfill its top priority of having a camp filled with Sunday School students having fun experiences in applying Christian Science to take home in transformed livesClick here to apply online for the camperships now available for CedarS remaining 4th, 5th and 6th session programs, for which one can enroll online.

OUR LIVESTOCK FENCING NEEDS:
Over $31,000 was given last week by
a foundation & 3 individuals who saw the need to do more than just “band-aid” long sections of our dilapidated pasture fencing.  Won’t you match their generous support as you are able to help provide the remaining $15,000 needed to finish upgrading the fences around our horse pastures and riding rings?  And, with “only” $4,000 more, we could build suitable new fences around our Bible Lands Park so that it could be noiselessly and sustainably “mowed” by 12 sheep offered on loan from our immediate neighbor!  What a Biblically-appropriate, “green pastures” scene and petting area this will provide for all visitors to our Bible Lands Park! Please earmark such a gift "for sheep".]

BIG THANKS in advance for MAKING A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT ONLINE,
BY PHONE at 636-394-6162,
OR BY MAIL at:
CedarS Camps Inc. 
19772 Sugar Drive
Lebanon, MO 65536

 [Remember, it's NOT TOO LATE to enroll or encourage others to enroll or to get CAMPERSHIP AID; but to help finalize affordable flights and arrangements, CedarS needs campers who are "on the fence to SIGN UP ONLINE ASAP!  Explore easy ONLINE Enrollment for campers & families as well as for Parents, Grands or Sponsors to join our team in home-style accommodations!
Any FINANCIAL AID requested is available as needed!]

[Check out CedarS with its Fundament Concepts, Unique Facilities and Features designed to transform lives! Click to see testimonials in writing!]

[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, or in Portuguese, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  A voluntary French translation by Rodger Glokpor, a Christian Scientist from Togo (West Africa) has just been offered.  Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages.  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 emails to follow.) 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 serve as 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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