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Think On These Things!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

September 10—16, 2018

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

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What has substance to you? The Student’s Reference Dictionary defines substance as “something existing by itself; that which really is or exists…the essential part; something real, not imaginary.” While some other definitions include “real physical matter” as substance, that’s not what this Lesson is about. This Lesson is concerned with the real, underlying essence of things—the part that exists independently of material observation and limitation.

The Golden Text opens the Lesson by giving us a list of things to which we should be devoting our attention. The focus here is on what we’re thinking.

Regarding Philippians 4:8, most of the commentaries elaborate on the meaning and scope of what Paul tells us we should be thinking about, but one modern religious author William Barclay (1907-1978), tells us why focusing our thought is so important. He writes, “This is something of the utmost importance, because it is a law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it. His thoughts will be quite literally in a groove out of which he cannot jerk them.”

Of course, this leads to the conclusion that if one thinks on the wrong things, he or she will also seem to be stuck in that groove. So, it’s all the more important that we think on things worthy of virtue and praise.

In the Responsive Reading Jesus tells a story of a rich fool who wants to build bigger barns to store his goods. This misguided man makes several false presumptions. First, he presupposes that his wealth is the product of his own doing; then he basically assumes he’s going to have a long life; then he places his riches in barns which are susceptible to damage, theft, and loss; and lastly, he adheres to the epicurean tenet, of eat, drink, and be merry. Of course, Jesus points out the foolishness of this approach. The man in the story would soon be departing this world unable to take any of his goods with him.

Jesus counsels us to take the opposite approach. We should lay up treasure toward God. Worldly goods are all perishable. But the spiritual things—those things that have substance—cannot be destroyed. Trusting the divine source of all goodness, and seeking the kingdom of heaven alleviates fear. And remember, Jesus tells us to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Hungering and thirsting aren’t luxuries. They’re necessities, so Jesus is teaching us that righteousness is the necessary thing. Devoting ourselves to righteousness and true substance, we’ll find our lives filled to the brim with spiritual blessings.

[See W's PS#1 and PS#2 for further Beatitude insights from Cobbey Crisler and Barry Huff.]

Section 1: “faith is the substance of things hoped for…”

As noted above, material goods and possessions are always vulnerable to loss, theft, decay, and destruction. Even if an item remains in “mint condition” its value still fluctuates according to the market. No material possession has any definite or lasting value. Likewise, every human opinion, law, and discovery is subject to change and revision. This is a sharp contrast to the things that God does. What God does is eternal, and remains perfect. Nothing can be added to, or taken from it (B1).

The Book of Hebrews calls faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (B2). Everything the senses behold is temporal. That is, they exist in a belief of linear time, and are subject to change and dissolution. The spiritual essence is untouched by time. These are the things unseen, and this is where faith lies. According to Theologian Adam Clarke (c.1760-1832) the Greek word we translate as faith, “signifies subsistence, that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on.” This unseen foundation is comprised of God’s thoughts. The prophet Jeremiah describes God as thinking, and knowing only those things that benefit us (B3). There are no surprises or random happenings under God’s reign. Everything is caused, and seen by God, and determined by Him to be good. God also promises that when we call upon Him with sincere expectancy He always answers. Those who abide in this expectancy can be sure that their strong stand originates not with them, but is a gift of Spirit, an impartation directly from God.

Mary Baker Eddy tells us God is the only substance (S1). Our textbook also defines substance as “that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay” (S2). Mrs. Eddy explains that faith is more than belief. She calls it “a chrysalis state of human thought” (S3). Lots of things happen in a chrysalis state. As we know, it’s a time of complete transformation. As the caterpillar naturally becomes a butterfly, faith transforms us naturally into what we have always been—spiritual ideas.

To me, this is one of the most interesting things about Christian Science. “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul” (S4). It’s the ideas that are real and eternal—the spiritual essence of what appears to us as objects. In fact, what we think is a tangible material environment isn’t an external reality at all. Everything is a thought, and the thoughts are real. Science and Health states that, “Spirit is the only substance and consciousness recognized by divine Science” (S5).

Section 2: The True Substance of Our Identity

The opening story in this section presents us with an interesting juxtaposition. The scriptures tell us Jabez receives his name because his mother, “bare him with sorrow” (B5). Yet, the very next citation from Proverbs teaches that the blessing of the Lord includes “no sorrow” (B6). Jabez’ prayer indicates that he expects to be fully blessed, and rise above whatever hardship he may be facing. He clearly did not want to identify with sorrow, and looked to God’s hand to lift him out of it. Commenting on the verse from Proverbs, English scholar Matthew Poole notes that riches gained through earthly means are imbedded with sorrow because along with those riches come discontent, fear, “horrors of conscience,” and a dread of losing those riches. Whereas, riches bestowed by God are completely protected, bringing comfort, and contentment.

The psalmist also acknowledges that God’s goodness alone “endureth continually” (B7). Psalm 139 (B8) recognizes that man is not the product of human procreation. Just as Jabez disassociated with the sorrowful attitude of his mother, the psalmist recognizes only God as his Maker. God knew his true substance—his real identity—before he was made, and every thought God had of him was precious.

We too, need to break free from false beliefs, traits, and inherited circumstances that seem to define us in terms of a limited mortal. Science and Health recognizes God as the only creative Principle (S6). All thoughts and identities issue forth from divine Mind, and are therefore, perfect and compete. Our identity—who we really are—is the reflection of Spirit, not the product of human parentage, or environment. God, Soul, “can never reflect anything inferior to Spirit” (S7). This teaching is consistent with the scripture that “no sorrow,” or anything unlike God is included in anything God does.

During his prayer, Jabez wasn’t asking for anything that God hadn’t already done or bestowed. Jabez simply yearns for the reality of his true identity to be manifested. God doesn’t change things because we pray for them. How could God do less than bestow all good? The textbook gives us another key point in Christian Science: “Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it” (S8). “Man as the offspring of God…is the immortal evidence that Spirit is harmonious and man eternal” (S9).

Section 3: Truth Reveals Real Substance

Adam Clarke has an interesting view of the “word of God being quick and powerful,” and being “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (B9). He relates it to the phenomenon of someone in church hearing the preacher speaking the word of God, and having the message seem to directly address either a sin or challenge in the person’s life, as clearly as if someone had told the preacher ahead of time about the person’s problems. As Christian Scientists, we often have similar experiences when the Lesson-Sermon or Wednesday readings seem to be tailored specifically for us. The point being that the word of God cuts to the heart of every need. “Quick” is also another way of saying that the Word of God is alive and active, and not merely words on a page.

The Word of God reveals the true substance of everything. Not just of people, but of invention as well. It is often said that much of the world’s technology was initially developed for military use. Eventually these advances in technology are transformed from military to civilian use, and work for peace not war. Turning “swords into plowshares, and spears into pruninghooks” (B10) are early examples of the essence of an invention being distilled into a peaceful purpose. Every idea proceeding from God is helpful, beneficial, and peace-giving. As there is no sorrow with the riches God bestows, neither is there hurt or destruction included in any forward step (B11).

Human invention runs parallel to spiritual discovery. The dark ages gave way to enlightenment as old theological ideas that manacled science were shattered with the proof that the earth was indeed a sphere. It overruled the superstitious and fictitious models of heaven and earth. But Science and religion do not have to be enemies. Mrs. Eddy realized that the laws of God, the substance of all things were the real science of all things. As human invention inches towards realization of things only dreamt of in earlier times, the spiritual equivalent washes away the material basis of things and finds the underpinning of all to be metaphysical (S10).

Physicists too, are realizing that matter isn’t the solid stuff it was once thought to be. Mrs. Eddy understood that God is the only creator, and matter is not part of that creation. “Spirit is the only substance, the invisible and indivisible infinite God” (S11). Mrs. Eddy tells us that, “when we subordinate the false testimony of the corporeal senses to the facts of Science, we shall see this true likeness and reflection everywhere” (S12). Once the earth was proven to be a sphere all arguments that the world was flat had no more standing. In the same way, as we allow the “true sense of Life and being [to] take possession of human consciousness” (S13), we can close the argument between matter and Spirit.

Section 4: Abundant Supply

Have you ever been asked to donate to something? Most of us have. Have you ever been hesitant to give because you were afraid of not having enough for your own needs? Something tells me that the rich fool mentioned earlier might have been a bit stingy about giving even though he had plenty to give. While there are many very generous people in the world, often the trend is to accumulate as much as possible for one’s self without regard for others. This is often based on fear of not having enough.

It seems a natural thing to tend toward holding on to funds if you don’t have too much. And there are ongoing political arguments centered on the “just distribution” of wealth. But there are those who encourage giving. One financial guru tells her audiences that if your fists are closed tight, you won’t give, but you won’t be able to receive either.

So what’s the spiritual view? Jesus pointed out that proportionately, the rich gave only a small fragment of their wealth, but the widow gave everything she had (B12). Giving liberally when you don’t have much to give is certainly counterintuitive. It may even seem foolish to donate when you have little to spare, and a host of legitimate financial obligations to fulfill. What would it take to let go of the fear of running short in the future, if we give freely today? In order to give fearlessly there has to be some expectation that good will flow into our life even though we might not know where it’s going to come from. Human resources may appear limited, and unreliable. However, the Master taught that if we give liberally and fearlessly, in turn, we would receive liberally in direct proportion to our giving (B13).

Someone once said that money was nothing more than a symbol of gratitude. Spiritually speaking, if we can’t run out of gratitude we shouldn’t run out of money to express it. Money itself isn’t substance. Gratitude is the substance of the symbol. As we’ve said earlier, substance is permanent, and never runs out. Hymn 249 from The Christian Science Hymnal says, “Our gratitude is riches, Complaint is poverty…” Our textbook tells us that God’s thoughts are “substance and Life” (S14). Science and Health also tells us that, “Giving does not impoverish us…neither does withholding enrich us” (S15). Everything boils down to motive. If we have a right motive—not trying to make a big show of our generosity, or looking for public recognition—then our giving will supported by Love (S16). Doing good in whatever form, always helps us. While it often seems that power and influence are contingent on financial clout, our Leader says, “The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable” (S17). As most volunteers, and financial donors have realized, honest giving brings blessings. And as Jesus promised, the good we do will be measured to us again, full, pressed down, and “running over” (S18).

Section 5: Where’s Your Heart?

One of the mistakes the rich fool made in the Responsive Reading is that he was very pleased with himself for amassing such wealth. Common wisdom often stresses that we are responsible for our own conditions in sayings like, “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s true to a certain extent. We are responsible for what we believe. But, this section poses a different view of value.

First of all, Andrew and Peter weren’t well off, or highly educated. They were simple fishermen, honest, and unassuming. Adam Clarke points out that by choosing men of modest backgrounds, Jesus assured there would be no mistake that the doctrine he taught came from God as opposed to rabbinical tradition. Andrew and Peter leave their nets to follow Jesus (B14). This means they were clearly willing to let go of every conventional method of earning supply, and to change the course and purpose of their lives.

Jesus called Andrew and Peter to follow him, but there was another young man that came to Jesus wanting to know what he’d have to do to attain eternal life (B15). The young man was leading a fairly exemplary life, but Jesus said he lacked one thing—he needed to sell what he had, give to the poor, and find treasure in heaven, and then, follow Jesus. This young man was not quite ready to let go of his riches. Apparently he didn’t realize that what Jesus had to offer was worth much more than his money.

After the Master explains the impossibility of those who trust in riches entering the kingdom of God, the disciples are quick to point out that they eagerly and willingly have left everything to follow Jesus. Jesus assures them that those who leave riches or family will be rewarded with everlasting life. Citation B16 reminds us yet again, that earthly treasures are vulnerable to loss, corruption, and decay, whereas, heavenly treasures are incorruptible and secure. Then we are given the key to it all: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

This last sentence is important because it forces us to look at ourselves honestly. Our hearts will follow what we love. If we love riches more than God, it doesn’t matter how generous we are, or what we do to attain our funds, because our treasure will not be in heaven. On the other hand, if our hearts are with God, whatever we do leads to heavenly riches, because our motives are elevated.

Where is your heart? That’s the key question. It informs, measures, and demonstrates our level of devotion to church, and to God (S19). We do what we love. Talking Christian Science and metaphysics doesn’t add much to the scale of heavenly riches. Our Leader tells us we have to quit our reliance on the false, and that we aren’t even Christian Scientists “until we leave all for Christ” (S20). That’s pretty strong stuff! But keep in mind, Mrs. Eddy isn’t asking us to give up anything that is real, or that has substance. She’s asking us to give up only insubstantial, false beliefs.

What we normally think has substance really doesn’t. Only Spirit has substance, and as we reflect “eternal substance” we will see that we have more than we could possibly ask for (S21). Now some might think that once a person is devoted to God, he is automatically “in the club” so to speak. Not so! Once you devote yourself to God, you have to prove it, and live it every single day (S22). Our textbook echoes the teaching of Jesus. We walk in the direction we’re looking, and our hearts are focused on what we treasure, be it matter or Spirit (S23). The more we love God, the more our focus will be on spiritual things. And when our hearts are really in it, we find we haven’t given up anything, because we’re already doing the only thing that will bring us fulfillment.

Section 6: How Far Are You Willing to Go? [See W's PS#3, PS#4, PS#5, PS#6 and PS#7 for insights from Cobbey Crisler, Warren Huff and Ken Cooper on the Bible citations in this section.]

It probably is no coincidence that there is a clear emphasis on women in this section. The prophet refers to the “health of the daughter of my people” (B17), and Luke specifically names several women who’d been healed by Jesus, in addition to the main story of the woman healed of an “issue of blood” (B20). We could treat all of these instances generically, as we do whenever we speak of “man.” But it seems that there is a deeper lesson here.

First of all, it is possible that in the same way Mary Baker Eddy pointed out that woman (Eve) was the first to confess her fault, and this enabled woman to bear Jesus, be the first to see the risen savior, and to discover Christian Science (See S&H 533:26), these women all had a particular thing in common. Throughout the Lesson there seems to be the intimation that the male tendency is to be governed by greed and worldly things. All the stories that include men require them to give up worldly pursuits, pleasures, and plans. They are asked to trust not in their own abilities, but to look outside of themselves to God—to make the jump from trusting visible, tangible things to trusting those things unseen. The women in Luke seem to recognize true substance right away and give spontaneously. We don’t know much about all of them, but we assume Mary Magdalene had to come through a very hard experience. And consider Joanna. Can you imagine the courage it took to be a follower, and supporter of Jesus while being married to Herod’s steward? She could be in danger of arrest and execution, and possibly be putting her whole family at risk.

And then there’s the woman struggling through the crowd laying everything on the line to touch the Master. She’d spent everything on physicians to no avail. Even though she was considered unclean, she moved among the crowd, and when Jesus looked for her, she had the courage to speak up. Each of these women recognized the substance of Jesus’ teaching, and were strong in their desire to learn of it, trust it, and support it.

The passages from Science and Health in this section point out the efficacy of God’s power to heal. Jesus’ spiritual apprehension discerned the need, and met it instantly (S24). The women in the Bible recognized the healing power of Christ, and Mary Baker Eddy questions why we would not recognize it today (S25). Obviously our Leader was totally convinced of Mind’s healing power (S26). She tells us in order to feel this power we need to drop false trusts, and “look away from the body into Truth and Love” (S27, 28). The Lesson circles back to the instruction given in the Golden Text: “Think on these things”—“Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good and the true…” Our success in healing is directly proportionate to our focus on spiritual things. Why would we think on anything else?

Section 7: “…without money and without price.”

True substance can’t be purchased (B21). Material wealth and goods are of no value in the kingdom of heaven, and have no ability to get us there. Nothing material has any power to help us. God is the only power. What He does is all that is being done. His Word is His law, and accomplishes its purpose—not just once in a while—but every single time. God never fails. If He did, it wouldn’t be very godlike would it?

Our textbook tells us that Spirit, God, is the only real substance (S30). That’s not “mostly” substance, or “in some instances.” God is the ONLY substance. Everything that exists is governed by God, and has its being and purpose because God ordained it to be so (S31). The reality of things is not in physicality or limitation. Mind is the true substance and continuity of all that is made. That’s where we live (S32). That’s why we live. Let’s think on these things.

Thanks to ALL you precious and generous supporters!:
1. INCOMING GIFTS and pledges of CAMPERSHIP FUNDING guaranteed that we met the needs of all who wanted to come to CedarS this summer! The RESULTANT BLESSINGS have already been life-transforming and greatly appreciated by about 400 worthy recipients and their families and churches. Lots of new reports of life-changing fruitage will be shared this fall.

You can see pictures of our best-yet summer-yet at www.cedarscamps.org or on FaceBook or Instagram. (The password is CedarS.) We're grateful to say that CedarS 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sessions averaged over 300 guests each session and that our Memorial Weekend and August Family Week totaled well over 400 Family Campers and staff.

Please sign up to give whatever you can on a much-needed MONTHLY basis to support CedarS life-changing work! [You can start at any amount and adjust monthly as you wish at: www.cedarscamps.org/giving ] All of your gifts add up to big blessings in the lives of today's Sunday School students (tomorrow's joyous workers in our Christ-centered church!

2. Also, thanks to generous donors, we will be undertaking LOTS OF NEEDED UPGRADES TO KEEP CEDARS FACILITIES and vehicles FUNCTIONING UP TO THE LEVEL OF ITS MISSION! (UPGRADING our of vehicle(s) and replacing original Crown Lake spillway will start as soon as possible this fall! Strengthening our internet service for more efficient office operations and for our staff and fall guests and a few other items are still goals before next summer … details to come.)

3. CedarS “Adopt the Herd” Matching Fund has been met!

In the time since Giving Tuesday you helped raise ~$65k for the Riding Program, which will be doubled through the Adopt the Herd Matching Fund, for a total of $130k Adopt the Herd match!

With heartfelt gratitude and love,
Warren, Gay, Holly & your CedarS Family

P.S. If you haven't yet given, or are blessed with more to give, we still have many needs, big and small, that you can help meet by clicking on https://www.cedarscamps.org/giving/tree/.

You can also reach a member of the Founding family nearly anytime by
PHONE at 417-532-6699.

or MAIL to our Summer-Fall address at camp (in red below) your tax-deductible support to our 501-C-3 organization.

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CedarS weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a huge proof of your ongoing LOVE made visible and are greatly appreciated!! They not only defray the costs of running this service but also provide greatly needed camperships and essential program and operations support.

The Met application ideas above 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/meta

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