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Are You Looking for Good in All the Wrong Places? Or Looking to God?

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, November 26th, 2007

Are You Looking for Good in All the Wrong Places? Or Looking to God?

Lesson Application Ideas for:  "Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism Denounced"
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
[with bracketed, italicized, editorial notes and "Possible Sunday School Topics" offered by Warren Huff]

Editor's Note: The following application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp!  You can sign up to have them emailed to you free -- in English by Monday or in French or Spanish by Wednesday: SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ FOR FREE TRANSLATIONS.

Are you looking for good?  If so, you're not alone.  Throughout history mankind has sought out beneficial things for himself and others.  Instinctively, man has looked outside of himself for the source of good.  Ancient man looked to their many gods.  They couldn't quite conceive of a God that could cover every area of life.  So, they reasoned that a pantheon of gods or spiritual beings worked, each in his or her specific area.  There were gods for the harvest, fertility, health, weather, plants, and so on.  Their gods were patterned after humans and therefore their range of activity was limited.  Also, after the pattern of human behavior, not all of their gods were good.  Some caused mischief and there were those who brought sickness, fear, and death.  This primitive concept of deity did not provide a reliable source for good.  Not having a workable understanding of God, mankind turned to his own devices.  To borrow from an old song, they were "lookin' for good in all the wrong places...lookin' for good in too many faces."  The Israelites' practice of monotheism began to change that.  For the children of Israel, there was one God, one good.  Nothing could equal His power or oppose Him.  It may seem to us like this concept is a "no-brainer."  But it was a giant leap in theology at the time.  And as this Lesson points out, mankind is still tempted to look for good in the wrong places.  [Possible Sunday School Topic (P.S.S.T!):  What are some of the wrong places where you have looked for good in the past?]

The Golden Text is this week's thesis:  "There is one God; and there is none else but he."  God is the only legitimate source for good in our lives.  [P.S.S.T!  How can we stay focused throughout the day on God as the only source of good (happiness, supply, health ...) in our lives?  What Commandment is this obeying?]

The verses in the Responsive Reading lay down the gauntlet by declaring loyalty, trust, and devotion to God alone.  The ancient people believed that wandering demons prowled the earth shooting arrows of sickness.  "Ancient man trusted for his protection against these evil powers to magical incantations and spells.  But the psalmist believes that the man who trusts in God is safe..."  (The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible).  Modern man has exchanged his fear of evil demons for fear of contagion, heredity, and pollution [as well as of worldwide threats of terrorism, nuclear proliferation, global warming ...].  And he is constantly tempted to look everywhere for health (good) except God.  However God's love for His creation is unchanging.  In Isaiah, God is represented as calling upon the children of Israel to be witnesses to His omnipotence.  God has done and always will maintain His place as the only saving power.  The same call to witness is being made on you and me right now.  Nothing is equal to or shares God's power.  [Possible Uplifting Sunday School Homework  (P.U.S.S.H.)  With key "nations ... gathered together" (Isa. 43:9) this week in Maryland to promote peace in the Middle East, let's affirm that all parties are seeking a trustworthy "refuge and ... fortress ... a shield (from) terror ... destruction ... (and) evil" (91st Psalm).  Let's bear witness together to God's omnipotent hand in this peace and reconciliation process.]

Section 1:  Only God Is Good.  [Belief in anything else must go down!]
The ancient gods had human limitations.  The God of Israel is infinite in wisdom and compassion without limit (B1).  The God of Israel fills all space and knows all things (B2).  Isaiah affirms God is first and last.  There is none beside him (B3).  The idols of the people are powerless.  Their worship is folly.  In addition to worship of false gods, there was also a temptation to seek out a variety of occult practices.  Deuteronomy specifically lists those superstitions to be avoided (B4).  The list includes: child sacrifice, casting lots, observing omens in the sky or through wildlife behavior, practicing magic by use of drugs or spells, weaving magical cures by inquiring of ghosts, and speaking with the dead  (Dummelow and Interpreter's).  Although, most of us today wouldn't consider having our children "pass through the fire," we face modern versions of these superstitions.  There's still witchcraft, paganism, pantheism, hypnotism, mysticism, holistic medicine, potions, fortune-tellers, and a flood of New Age practices.  We may be tempted to consider these options.  What to do?  Like the psalmist, we turn to God for guidance.  His "spirit is good" (B5).

Mrs. Eddy defines "good" as "God" (S1).  God is all-power, all-science, and all-presence (S2).  God is the only good and God is all good.  Mrs. Eddy writes, "The maximum of good is the infinite God and His idea, the All-in-all."  Nobody is left outside of this goodness, and evil has nothing to do with it.  Mrs. Eddy uses the term "animal magnetism" as a name for error, or mortal mind (S4).  Notice that animal magnetism is no more than the "false belief" that "evil is as real as good and more powerful."  That is really important.  Evil itself is nothing real at all.  It's only a belief  in evil; and it's not true.  To accept that God is good and is all-power, and then to say that evil is also real, is a contradiction.  Mrs. Eddy says that this belief is "pernicious to divine theology" (S5).  "Pernicious" means, "Destructive; having the quality of killing, destroying, or injuring..." (Student's Reference Dictionary).  We cannot take this warning lightly.  A belief in anything other than God, "must go down in Christian Science" (S6).  So why look to any other source for good?  [P.S.S.T!  Can you name any "pernicious" periodic curse or spell that is an imposition on you?  How can curses related to the time of the month or to the supposed cold and flu season be put down?  How can we break spells supposedly cast by shorter days, changes in the weather, revengeful people...?]

Section 2:  God's Power Cannot Be Duplicated
God's power was proven without question in the liberation of the children of Israel from Egypt.  The ancient mystics and magicians imputed power to their gods that they did not have.  God is the only power.  There used to be a well-known advertising slogan which said: "Often imitated, never duplicated."  Aaron and Moses, being true prophets of God, demonstrated legitimate proof of their God-given authority.  The magicians of Egypt were as powerless as their gods were, but they tried to feign authority by mimicking the marvel wrought by Aaron.  The magicians apparently thought that Aaron's demonstration was no more than a trick that they could duplicate.  But they were quickly proved wrong.  [P.S.S.T!]  Can you think of any examples today in which the power of God is mimicked?  The serpents of the sorcerers were proved to be illusions.  Like Moses and Aaron, Paul knew that our struggle is not with physical realities.  Our warfare is only with false belief (B9).  Dummelow paraphrases Paul: "...we are not prompted by fleshly motives...For we fight not in our own strength, but in the strength of God, and this reliance upon Him enables us to prevail against all opposition...however strong or deep rooted...."  God is the only power (B10).

Our Leader instructs us that we must start with the understanding that God is All-in-all (S7).  Pharaoh's magicians performed visual tricks, and the power of God broke the illusions.  The affects of animal magnetism-believing that evil is real-are also illusion.  Mrs. Eddy tells us that, "Christian Science, properly understood, would disabuse the human mind of material beliefs..." (S10).  Disabuse means: "To free from mistake; to undeceive; to disengage from fallacy or deception; to set right" (SRD).  The children of Israel were freed when the illusion of Pharaoh's hold on them was broken.  And, just as well, the understanding of God's all-power in Christian Science frees you and me from the enslavement of material illusion as well.  [P.S.S.T!  What material illusions would you like to see broken?]

Section 3:  Where Do You Look for Protection?
[P.S.S.T!]
  Have you ever made an alliance you shouldn't have because it seemed right at the time?  That's what happened to Hezekiah (B11).  The king of Babylon was looking for allies to unite against Assyria.  He used Hezekiah's recent recovery from illness as a pretext to befriend him.  Hezekiah naively showed him everything he had.  [P.S.S.T!  Has pride ever led you to expose a precious treasure or a confidential relationship (that should have stayed protected) to a supposed friend who later sought to possess that treasure or further expose your sacred confidence?]   Hezekiah was facing the threat of Assyria at the time too; and rather than trusting in God for protection he looked to Babylon.  The prophet Isaiah chided him, warning that eventually everything he had would be lost to Babylon.  This proved to be true.  The context of Psalm 141 (B12) is similar, but the psalmist was a little smarter than Hezekiah.  The psalmist was concerned because many who had renounced their allegiance to the Lord had prospered and were trying to make friends with him.  "Fearing that this association will lead him to some corrupt word, thought, or deed he prays for divine protection from all temptations" (Interpreter's).  We need to be alert in every age.  In B14 Paul warns Christians to be watchful and alert to the demands of the times in which they live lest they carelessly lapse into sin.

In Science and Health, we see that the warnings to be alert are no less meaningful to us.  Mrs. Eddy is our Isaiah, opening our eyes to the dangers of falling in league with evil associates.  People don't always like being told of pending trouble, but if the "informer" is reliable, we should pay attention (S12, 13).  In Christian Science, the exercise of human will to influence another is termed "mental malpractice" (S14).  Sometimes malpractice is mistaken and at other times it's malicious, or on purpose.  We should be on guard so we don't get duped.  [P.S.S.T!]  Have you ever been warned by a relative or friend to avoid certain companions?  Or maybe you get a funny feeling yourself?  Pay attention to these warnings.  One of the ways animal magnetism tricks us is by disguising itself as good for us.  Animal magnetism wouldn't be very effective if it announced its intention to harm us.  Instead, it makes us believe it's our friend.  Then turns against us.  This is not only true for relationships, but for anything that vies for our trust in the place of our trust in God.  [P.S.S.T!  What supposed allies for protection have turned against you, or might do so at any moment?  Closely consider the close "companionships" of favorite TV shows or websites that seem to be "protecting" you from boredom or social isolation, but may well be built upon destructive premises that, when planted and watered in thought, may long torment and endanger you and your family.]

Section 4:  Where Do You Look for Health?
One of the biggest deceptions that would displace our trust in God is that of medicine.  Media of every sort paint a picture of medicine as your friend and ally.  It claims to do what God alone can do.  The Bible is blunt.  "In vain shalt thou use many medicines..." (B14).  In citation B15 the psalmist is praising God for raising him from a life-threatening illness.  In Isaiah (B16) we are reminded that, "the God who is the creator and who is never weary in his creative activity is also the God whose power for men is inexhaustible..." (Interpreter's).  Jesus exercised this healing power.  The power of the Holy Spirit was the motivating force behind his entire ministry.  It's notable that during healing, when the devils cried out, he did not let them speak.  Interpreter's remarks, "What ordinary men cannot recognize the demons do; Jesus is the Messiah whose power threatens their very existence."  The demons recognized their destroyer.  The resistance to spiritual healing today is due to the fact that only spiritual healing can destroy sickness.  The belief in evil, or animal magnetism, doesn't resist the use of medicine, because medicine cannot destroy it.  Material medicine is not our friend.  It's a disguise of animal magnetism to turn our trust away from God. 

The Christian Scientist's medicine is Mind, God (S16).  Mrs. Eddy pulls no punches when stating that drugs and material remedies directly oppose "the supremacy of Mind" (S17).  In fact she states that any seemingly helpful results gained from the use of medicine are only due to the faith one puts in it.  Drugs have no real power and do not heal.  Our Leader tells us to "abandon pharmaceutics" and look into spiritual reality (S18).  "Pharmaceutics" comes from the Greek, pharmekeia meaning: the use of drugs, potions, spells; poisoning, witchcraft (Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell and Scott).  Using this definition, the use of medicine could be included in the warnings from Deuteronomy in the first section.  The pharmacy of Mind-healing "is moral, and its medicine is intellectual and spiritual..." (S19).  Christian Science utilizes the healing power of God as spoken of in Isaiah, and it has spiritual authority.  The power of "divine Love is omnipotent" (S20).  It's sufficient to any task.  Why would we look for health anywhere else?  [P.S.S.T!  What quick and easy fixes are we promised by pills or medicated crèmes?  How would they subtly seduce us into relieving the symptoms of supposedly real conditions, instead of seeing their unreality and healing their supposed underlying causes?]

Section 5:  Where Do You Look for Satisfaction?
The psalmist states that those who enter the temple must not only be clean ritually, but morally as well, in both the outer life (clean hands) and inner life (pure heart) (B18).  The Abingdon Bible Commentary notes, "Impurity is one of the great evils against which the followers of Christ must make truceless war."  Jesus taught that it wasn't enough to refrain from an impure act (B20).  To desire another man's wife was just as bad as the act itself.  "What is demanded is complete self-control of the members of the body, so that obedience may be complete" (Interpreter's).  Dummelow takes the discussion even further.  He says that if one is prone toward a particular sin, he should avoid anything at all related to it that might lead him astray:  "Thus certain amusements and certain kinds of reading, in themselves harmless, are to some occasion for sin.  Such a person ought to avoid them altogether."  John cautions us to not be taken in by "fleshly desire, tempting glitter and the parade of luxury" (Abingdon).

Now this might make a few people uncomfortable.  "After all" they might say, "as long as I'm not hurting anyone else, what harm could a little fantasy do?"  Malpractice is deceptive by nature.  The primary activity may sometime seem innocent, but the evil slips in with it like a computer virus embedded in a legitimate file.  Just as that hidden virus can corrupt an entire hard drive, evil left unchecked results in what Mrs. Eddy terms, "moral idiocy" (S22).  In such a condition all moral reason is lost, and one cannot tell the difference between right and wrong.  Often what's wrong looks right and vice versa.  Mrs. Eddy points out that even some seemingly harmless amusements lower moral standards (S23).  Evil deeds begin in thought and are dealt with most effectively at the door of thought before they turn into action (S24).  Virtue and truth shield us from these wandering, invasive thoughts [that turn out to be destructive hijackers].  Mrs. Eddy's strong stand for Truth can sometimes seem a bit extreme.  But "Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error..." (S25).  Deceptive animal magnetism makes evil look attractive, but the only real attraction is Spirit (S26).  [P.U.S.S.H.  (for mature S.S. classes):  Since "my Bible Lesson" identifies the theme of this 5th section as "DEFENSE AGAINST THE HYPNOTISM OF P_RNOGRAPHY," use ideas from our precious Pastor in this section to give a Christian Science treatment to help innocent victims break free from the purity-polluting "p_rn" industry.  Let's defend the freedom and un-invaded, childlike innocence of each so-called p_rn addict as well as of each one acting as a virtual pr_stitute.  In this way we can help free each "slave of wrong desire ... and (s)he will get the better of that desire, and ascend a degree in the scale of health, happiness, and existence."  (Science & Health 407:17)  P.S. The word p_rnography was first coined in 1858, before the discovery of Christian Science.  According to www.Merriam-Webster.com it comes from the Greek "p_rnographos, meaning writing about pr_stitutes" and means "1 : the depiction of er_tic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause s_ x _ _ l  excitement." (vowels blanked to avoid spam filtering)]

Section 6:  Look to "The Real Thing"
Like Pharaoh's magicians, Simon used sorcery to "bewitch the people of Samaria" (B23).  This meant he had them "in utter amazement" (The Amplified Bible).  The citizens of Samaria were infatuated with Simon's personality.  Along came Phillip who had been doing legitimate healing work.  The spiritual authority of Phillip's healing work was so powerful that many left Simon and turned to Christ.  Even Simon left his former practice due to the efficacy of Phillip's work.  Phillip's work was the real thing.  There are many "personalities" out there today promoting self-help and pseudo-spiritual remedies to life's problems.  Don't be deceived.  They may have bits and pieces of truth but not the whole.  Abingdon calls the prayer in I Chronicles 29 (B24) one of "an undoubting monotheist."  That's the view taught in Christian Science.  Nothing else even comes close.

Mrs. Eddy writes, "The Science of Mind disposes of all evil" (S27).  She reiterates that God is the only power.  The truth of the healing power of Christian Science exposes all false practices for the deceivers they are (S28).  Eventually, as Simon's followers turned to Phillip's message of the Christ, people will reject false methods and turn to God (S29).  Christian Science isn't magic.  "It's the real thing."  It's the truth of being.  Every honest seeker can safely learn it and practice it (S30).  The understanding of the omnipotence of God in Christian Science reveals God to be the infinite source of all the good we could ever want or need.  Why look anywhere else? [P.S.S.T! What popular self-help personalities look to have the full package, but lack the theology of Christian healing?]

[P.S.  Check out how CedarS counselor, Avery (Poindexter) Sander wrote about the spiritual toughness and discipline it took to handle the aggressive imaginations of fear two summers ago on the last page of this week's my Bible Lesson.]

Camp Director's Note: The above sharing is the latest in a series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians [with bracketed, italicized notes and "Possible Sunday School Topics" offered by me as editor]. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms. * Originally sent JUST 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" 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, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The citations referenced (i.e. B1 and S28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "met" (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) 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 these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor. Have fun unwrapping, cherishing and sharing your special, spiritual gift(s)!  
Enjoy!
Warren Huff, Camp Director      director@cedarscamps.org         (636) 394-6162
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The 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 request it. However, current and planned gifts are needed to defray the costs of running this service and of providing camperships, programs and operations support. Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving for more about how you can give online or get information to talk privately about how to make a special gift to help perpetuate CedarS work.

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FYI:
LETTING SPECIAL NEEDS/OPPORTUNITIES BE KNOWN:   1) Underwriting annual CSO Summits has taken about $20,000/year in contributions;  2) Covering costs of 4 special Youth Lectures at camp has taken about $6,000 in gifts;  3) Campership funds are needed for about 300 campers (~1/3 of our 2008 campers) with $800 covering costs for a week of camp; 4) Funding is needed to help us take advantage of two Matching Grant offers from generous donors who are aware of the ongoing needs to help CedarS facilities and riding program measure up to CedarS mission!  "Maintenance Musts") IF we raise $25,000 by 12-31-07, $25,000 will be given! (only ~$13,500 more to go)  newly renewed Adopting CedarS Herd)  Goal to raise $50,000 by 5-31-08, for $50,000 more to help cover costs of a quality herd and riding program for 1200 campers and staff.

Go to www.myBibleLesson.com to check out a new, visually-oriented and very helpful study resource for the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson.  It's being produced by The Christian Science Publishing Society.  What a great auxiliary to lesson study - and to reading beyond citation markers using the handsome new student books now in Reading Rooms (and possibly available at a substantial savings at the www. myBibleLesson.com/Cedars website)  MyBibleLesson contains word definitions, Bible background Notes, fun topical cartoons, timelines and translations, plus many healing ideas to use.  Why not check out this vehicle to help bring new meaning and life to each beloved Bible lesson in order to bless the youthful thinker and Sunday School student (and teacher) in us all!

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