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Remember and Fulfill your Duty to God!

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, June 30th, 2008

Remember and Fulfill your Duty to God!
Lesson application ideas for: "God"  June 30-July 6, 2008
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week and Possible Sunday School Topics that follow 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 Tuesday each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French from Pascal, in Spanish from Ana or in German by Gabriele when her schedule allows. JUST SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters

Have you ever forgotten anything? We all know what that's like.  Sometimes it doesn't matter much, but at other times it does. The media seems to do everything it can to remind us of the worldview that man is fragile and limited. We're constantly re-told tragedies in print, on film, and on stage. On top of that we're reminded hourly of what the advertising industry says we need in order to be attractive and healthy. All these worldly reminders combined with our daily activities may cause us to forget to take time out to remember the most important thing-our relationship with God. Mary Baker Eddy felt it was so significant for us to remember God that she incorporated this need into a Manual by-law entitled "Alertness to Duty." It reads in part, "It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind (Manual 42: 4-8).

Part of the reason we tend to forget our duty to God, is that we sometimes consider it as just another chore in an already filled day. We don't have the time, and we are too tired or busy to put in any more effort. But the definition of "remember" found in The Student's Reference Dictionary pulls the plug on that excuse. It says to remember is, "to have in the mind an idea which had been in the mind before, and which recurs to the mind without effort" [emphasis added]. To use effort is to recollect an idea, but to remember is effortless. It would seem that the challenge lies not in the remembering, but in getting past the distractions that prevent us from doing so.

The Golden Text and most of the Responsive Reading are taken from Deuteronomy 8. The children of Israel were on the verge of a new chapter in their history. Israel had experienced privation in the wilderness and had learned to depend on God. The land of Canaan held the promise of abundance. Their new circumstances could cause them to become proud and self-sufficient thus, forgetting that every good gift came from God. They are admonished to be obedient to God's Law and to remember that they owed their very existence to God.

Section 1: God Is Incorporeal and Omnipotent
There is a teaching technique known as "activating prior knowledge." It's supposed to get students thinking in a way that makes them ready for the lesson. Before reiterating the Law of God, Moses beckons the people to remember the covenant God made with them on Mt. Horeb (B2). God graciously delivered the children of Israel from captivity and provided guidance and protection in their long journey through the wilderness. Moses doesn't want them to forget that the law comes from a gracious God. Israel's future depends upon their recognition of the absolute power of Jehovah. "If this appeal finds no response, then Israel will be dispersed among the nations, be diminished and worship other gods" (The Abingdon Bible Commentary). There can be no rival to God and no falling back to heathen practices or idol worship. To remember also means to be mindful of or to think on a thing. Moses asks Israel to consider God's presence and power and their awesome relationship with Him (B3). God is more than a Being to be worshiped. God is our very life (B4). As you begin study of this Lesson, focusing on remembrance of God, take the time to consider the proofs of God's love and care in your experience.

Mrs. Eddy too, wants us to remember that God is Life itself (S1). Understanding our relationship with God is the most important thing we can do. We begin by understanding what God is. Centuries of myths and legends have forged the human belief of God as manlike-having human emotions and shortcomings, picking and choosing whom He will help and whom He will curse. But Christian Science takes a different approach. In Christian Science God is understood to be incorporeal and absolute. Mrs. Eddy discerned that God is Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love (S2). To those of us familiar with Christian Science it might seem repetitive and rudimentary to go over the synonyms for God. But when we consider that the majority of the world still thinks of God in limited human terms or not at all, we can appreciate what a huge spiritual step this is. Thinking of God in human terms led to idolatry and therefore, to loss of the true sense of the power of Spirit, the presence of Life as the only Truth, and the universal presence of Love (S4). When we understand our relationship with God, we find that nothing else exists but God and man as His idea. God becomes everything to us-our only Mind, Love, Truth, or Life (S5).

Section 2: No Curses from God, Only Blessings
The children of Israel often forgot their duty to God and the prophets offered needed reminders. The citation from Micah (B5) is an excerpt of such a reminder. God "had from the beginning of [Israel's] history showered upon her his redeeming love...all of this Israel had forgotten" (Abingdon). In this Lesson, the passage introduces the story of Balak and Balaam. Shittam and Gilgal were the departure and entry points where the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land. The episode with Balak and Balaam (B6, 7) shows that God protects Israel not only from the sword of the enemy, but from curses and the evil powers of the unseen. When God is with you, nothing can be against you. Balak, worrying about the children of Israel, calls on Balaam to curse them. In ancient times, curses were taken very seriously. Balak offers to pay Balaam handsomely for the curse. But Balaam says that no matter what he might be paid, he cannot go against God's word. He can't curse what God has blessed. If you read the whole story you'll see how even a donkey must obey the word of God. Balak actually tries several times to have Israel cursed. He offers sacrifices to God and is very frustrated with Balaam. Eventually, Balaam actually prophesies in Israel's favor.

Balaam couldn't disobey God. His strength was in his obedience to God, as was Israel's. So it is with you and me (S6). It is not in God's nature to curse. Sin is always punished, but God's law always blesses (S7). As mentioned many times before, God has nothing whatsoever to do with evil. All real action comes from the divine Mind. Everything else is a sham and is wrong (S8). Balaam couldn't be lured by the attraction of riches to disobey God. Mrs. Eddy says the only real attraction is that of Spirit (S9). Complicated, subtle forms of evil pretend to be powerful, but they are impotent. Knowing that there is only one God means there is only one power. This knowledge wipes out every criminal element in society and in every other aspect of human experience (S10). Nothing can be cursed, or suffer because God only blesses.

Section 3: God Guides Us through Every Trial
Whenever the children of Israel were in trouble, the prophets and psalmists reminded them how God had always aided them in the past (B9, 10). In times of affliction and trial remembering God has always brought hope and joy. One of the lovely things about this section is the power of God's relationship with His children. "I am thine," writes the psalmist. "Thou art mine," saith the Lord. Wherever we go, no matter how tough it gets, God is with us. "There is none that can deliver out of my hand" (B10); "Look unto me and be ye saved" (B11). These verses have infinite application. Parents sending their sons and daughters to camp can rest easy that their children are in the arms of Love. The campers can trust that they are not alone and that God will carry them through every challenge, from riding a horse for the first time all the way through the high ropes course and "power poll." College graduates looking for their first jobs, as well as seasoned veterans, can confidently meet every circumstance knowing that God is with them every step of the way.

Regardless of what point we're at in our experience, or the level of difficulty we're facing, God is with us through every trial. Trials put us to the test. One of the definitions of a trial reads, "afflictions or temptations that exercise and prove the graces or virtues of men" (SRD). They also prove the graces and virtues of God. Mrs. Eddy promises that, "Every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger" (S11). She also writes that they are "proofs of God's care" (S12). The marginal heading for citation 13 in Science and Health is, "Uses of suffering." Mrs. Eddy certainly had her share of trials during her lifetime. Her unwavering faith in God enabled her to turn every trial into a steppingstone leading out of the flesh and closer to God. She didn't fear the suffering that put her strength, patience, and faith in God to the test. Her experiences taught her to lean on "the sustaining infinite" (S 15). And as the first sentence in the textbook declares, for all those who do, "today is big with blessings."

Section 4: Perfect God-Perfect Man
The Bible tells us God made "his wonderful works to be remembered" (B12). Have you ever considered that you are His wonderful work? We are "the sheep of his pasture" (B13). This is another image representing a close and tender relationship between God and man. God is also "the Rock" (B14). Dummelow writes that God as the rock "expresses His absolute and unwavering faithfulness." God's work is perfect, and we are created in his image and likeness (B15). The word translated as perfect means, "entire...without blemish, complete...sound, without spot, undefiled" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). This perfect man of God's creating is the man that we are to "mark" (B16). To mark has a meaning very close to remember. It means, "guard, to protect, attend to...take heed, keep, look narrowly, observe, preserve...save...watch" (Ibid.). In other words, we need to keep our minds focused on the perfect man that God has created.

Perfect God and therefore, perfect man (S 16) is a foundation stone of Christian Science teaching. Mrs. Eddy instructs us to "keep in mind" and "remember" man's perfection (S17). The healing of dyspepsia (S 18, 19) provides an example of what a difference remembering man's God-given perfection can make. How do you view yourself? Do you think of yourself as a human being of a certain age, gender, race, and occupation? Do you define yourself in terms of illness or fears? If so, it's time to remember your perfection. Our Leader writes, "We must destroy the false belief that life and intelligence are in matter, and plant ourselves upon what is pure and perfect" (S19). "Must" is an urgent word. Take the time throughout each day to remember that you are the perfect likeness of the perfect God.

Section 5: The Way-Shower's Example
The children of Israel derived their religious and national identity from remembering the history of their relationship with God. They repeatedly gained courage to face challenges of the moment by hearkening back to times in which God had saved them. In a way, their remembrance of the past defined them. When obedient to God's Law, they realized blessings. Likewise, they experienced stern correction when they strayed. However, their emphasis on obedience to God's law evolved into a comprehensive list of do's and don'ts that eventually focused more on tradition than inspiration. The coming of Jesus challenged that. Jesus didn't get his authority by rabbinical tradition. Nor did he get his faith by remembering Israel's religious past. His message came directly from God and his confidence was founded on his never losing sight of his relationship with his Father. Jesus came into the world that all might be saved (B18). He taught his followers to remember that the kingdom of heaven was "at hand." But the early Christian movement had difficulties too. In context, the book of Jude (B17) was addressing a situation in which certain members of the church flouted the contributions of its founders and were teaching "improper ways of conduct" and ethical relativism (Abingdon and Interpreter's). The church was being reminded to "strive with all their might to preserve the traditional ideals that had been set up by a previous generation of Christian leaders" (Abingdon). The author of Jude urged an appropriate sense of tradition built on useful ideals instead of ritual. Those ideals were dedicated to living wholly by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus teachings didn't need revising. He taught in the beatitudes (B20) to live not from one's own resources or achievement, but through trust in God. Detachment from the world, integrity, singleness of purpose, and high aims-these virtues were among those taught by Jesus. It is the mission of Christ's church to light the world. When living honestly, and when motivated by devotion to God, the work is done not for the glory of the church but for the glory of God.

Mary Baker Eddy calls upon us as Christians today to remember Jesus' example (S21). Jesus came to fulfill the law not to destroy it. He didn't rely on tradition, but on his oneness with God. Mrs. Eddy writes that it was the "the Christ-element" that made Jesus the Way-shower (S22). We need to remember that each of us can nurture the Christ-element present in our own consciousness and grow into the "spiritual stature" which enables us to heal as Jesus did (S23). "Perfect God and perfect man" is the basis of our practice (S20). While we as Christian Scientists, can't rely on past generations to make our demonstrations for us, we can remember that there are centuries of solid healing proof behind us. Often, when faced with a challenge we turn to citations for comfort and guidance. A favorite of many is on page 495:14 of Science and Health (S24). But merely reciting these words is not enough. They are rules that serve as a reminder to how we should actually be thinking. We need to implement those rules. When we do healing will result.

Section 6: Back to the Future-What's New Has Always Been
As hard as we may try, mankind can never really forget its relationship with God. The psalmist prophesies that eventually all nations will remember Him (B21). In John's Revelation (B23) an entirely new system is expected to emerge. The old order of grief, pain, sickness, sin, and death will pass away. According to Dummelow, "all things new" refers not to the coming of that which never existed before, but "new" as in fresh-that which has not been used or worn; undimmed, unspoiled. This coincides with the definition of remember being an "idea which had been in the mind before." So the new heaven and new earth symbolize the return to the real heaven and earth never spoiled through sin. We begin and end with God governing His universe harmoniously.

Mrs. Eddy writes that the sea symbolizes "tempest-tossed human concepts" (S25). Abingdon notes that much of the ancient world, and the Israelites especially, were terrified by the sea. To them it was a divider of men and nations. Adapting Mrs. Eddy's description, the tempest-tossed human concepts are certainly dividers of men and nations. The appearance of the new heaven and earth wipes away these false concepts. As we remember-set our mind on-the kingdom of heaven, material evils will disappear (S26). This is an individual process that increases our spirituality in proportion to our understanding of God (S 27, 28). Each step taken by the Israelites helped them to grow into a higher understanding of God. The process continued with the coming of Christ Jesus and continues today with the discovery of Christian Science. There's special meaning to us in the saying, "remember where you came from." We came from God, and we're going to God. The more we keep in mind that God is our Father and that in His kingdom there is no error, the more we will be able to demonstrate it. We have only one God, one Mind, one Life, Truth, and Love. Our God never curses anything and knows only good. Our God is with us through every trial. Our God created us perfect, whole, and healthy. Jesus taught us how to keep our minds on God. Doing so we'll see the new heaven and earth and the reign of spiritual harmony. Now that's something to remember!
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The weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers & 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 here to read fruitage due to your help; to review current Operational needs; and to see our Annual Appeal. Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving for more about how you can give online or to talk privately about how to make a special gift to help perpetuate CEDARS work.

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Camp Director's Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, seven-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. (To keep the flow of the practitioner's ideas intact and to allow for more selective printing the "Possible Sunday School Topics" and Homework options come on a following page or subsequent email.) This weekly email (and website posting) is 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 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 new angles on daily applicability to 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. 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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Possible Sunday School Topics for the Lesson on "God" for June 30-July 6, 2008
Submitted anonymously by former CS camp counselors who now teach Sunday School

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T- Golden Text and Responsive Reading] -- What verb occurs once in the Golden Text and twice in the Responsive Reading? In this week's Cedars met, Craig Ghislin brings up a bylaw from the Manual of the Mother Church that relates to remembering: it's entitled "Alertness to Duty." Study p. 42: 4-8 of the Manual and (re)commit to following its directives every day.

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 1] -- Some version of the word "remember" also occurs in every section of this week's Lesson. As you study the Lesson, make a list of everything that we are being instructed to remember. Keep the list with you and review it throughout your day. ["Where there is loving attention, memory is inevitable." Grace Wasson, CSB many years ago]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 2] -- Have you ever been tempted to curse someone or something? What does the story of Balak and Balam teach about the ultimate effects of cursing?  What spiritual ideas can you remember when the temptation to swear or curse arises-particularly if you are confronted with frustration, fear, or pain?

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 3] -- Which Bible characters literally experienced these promises: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee" and "when though walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned"? (Some possible responses: Children of Israel and the Red Sea; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.). What was God's role in each of these trials? What trials have you encountered in your life? What have they taught you about God?

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 4] -- There's a lot of hype today about whether someone is "hot or not." (See the June 19, 2008 CS Monitor article titled "Beauty is in the Eye of the Casting Agent" by Anthony Abeson, http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0619/p09s02-coop.html.) On what basis is this "hotness" judged? Does God classify his creation as being "hot or not?" What standards should we use when looking at and talking about others? (See B16) How can the standard of perfect God and perfect man help you respond to the supposed promises of diets, drugs, and other fads aimed at increasing health and/or hotness?

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 5] -- What illusion of sickness or sin is most tempting to you? (One way to define sin is "missing the mark"; for a description of the mark, see B20.) Apply the commands in S24 to do battle with this temptation and overcome it.

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T.-Section 6] -- What is the kingdom of God? Make a list of its characteristics, as described by the passages in Section 6. (See especially B 23, B24, S26, and S28) Where and when can someone find it? (See especially S27) How can you experience more of the kingdom of God in your life? (See S28) How could an even clearer understanding of the kingdom of God form the foundation for your prayers about the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections?
(See especially B21 and S28)

 

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