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Trick? (Sinners in the hands of an angry God) or Treatment!

Rick Stewart, C.S., Dresden, Germany
Posted Monday, October 25th, 2010

[Trick?  ("Sinners in the hands of an angry God")
or Treatment!  (Cherished children embraced in Love's tender mercy!) 
Happy Halloween!]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on
"Everlasting Punishment" for study during the week of October 25-31, 2010,
by Rick Stewart, C.S., of Dresden, Germany
[with bracketed italics by Warren Huff]
 
[Halloween is normally celebrated on Oct. 31st but in many US communities children may be going door-to-door in costumes and trick-or-treating on Saturday night, Oct. 30th this year.]
 
[Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week, and the 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 each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French thanks to Pascal, in German thanks to Helga or in Spanish thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio. YOU CAN SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters]

Mary Baker Eddy sure chose some humdingers for Bible Lesson subjects, didn't she?  But she did so with good reason.  As a young girl she had been required to repeat the Westminster Catechism every Sunday.  This form of systematic instruction included memorized statements of Calvinistic doctrine and had been written and formulated in the 1600s.  The Westminster Catechism, in its long and short versions, is a central catechism of Calvinists in the English tradition throughout the world and included statements of  church doctrines, one of those being the doctrine of predestination and everlasting punishment.  After her discovery of Christian Science Mrs. Eddy knew there were questions about the nature of God that had to be answered if one hoped to have a demonstrable understanding of the Science of Christ, and an understanding of God.
 
In her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, pages 13-15, she relates her early experience with this doctrine:
 
"THEOLOGICAL REMINISCENCE"
 "At the age of twelve  I was admitted to the Congregational (Trinitarian) Church, my parents having been members of that body for a half-century. In connection with this event, some circumstances are noteworthy.  Before this step was taken, the doctrine of unconditional election, or predestination, greatly troubled me; for I was unwilling to be saved, if my brothers and sisters were to be numbered among those who were doomed to perpetual banishment from God   So perturbed was I by the thoughts aroused by this erroneous doctrine, that the family doctor was summoned, and pronounced me stricken with fever.
"My father's relentless theology emphasized belief in a final judgment-day, in the danger of endless punishment, and in a Jehovah merciless towards unbelievers; and of these things he now spoke, hoping to win me from dreaded heresy. 
"My mother, as she bathed my burning temples, bade me lean on God's love, which would give me rest, if I went to Him in prayer, as I was wont to do, seeking His guidance. I prayed; and a soft glow of ineffable joy came over me.  The fever was gone, and I rose and dressed myself, in a normal condition of health. Mother saw this, and was glad. The physician marveled; and the "horrible decree" of predestination - as John Calvin rightly called his own tenet - forever lost its power over me." Retrospection and Introspection, by Mary Baker Eddy, pages 13-15
 
(The whole account is worth reading!)  Just think, as a girl of 12, Mary was ready to take a stand against what she ultimately called "this erroneous doctrine" of "perpetual banishment from God."  But she is not alone in standing against the belief of "everlasting punishment," and the "erroneous doctrine" of an eternal hell awaiting some. 
 
In 1855  Boston Biblical scholar, Thomas B. Thayer, explained at length the fact that references to Gehenna (the word translated as hell)  in the New Testament are not a hell. This is his conclusion:
"Now no one believes in such a hell as this. A material hell of fire, and torments by flame, have been long ago abandoned.  And the Savior cannot be understood as believing or teaching future torments,..." (See The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment by Thomas B. Thayer, 1855)  Excerpts from this work can be found at the following link: http://30ce.com/developmentofhell.htm
 
This week's Bible Lesson clearly explains the simple concept of turning from sin or evil thinking and returning to God.  It is a clear answer to the question; does an all-loving, merciful God punish some of His children eternally? 
 
The Golden Text begins our answer: Isaiah 55:7 (Contemporary English Version):
   Give up your crooked ways
   and your evil thoughts.
   Return to the LORD our God.
   He will be merciful
   and forgive your sins.
 
The book of the Prophet Isaiah is the oldest completely maintained book of the Bible.  It is believed to have been written around 700 B.C.  In 1947, a 7-meter-long scroll was found in a cave above the Dead Sea dating back to the 2nd century; it included a complete version of the Book of Isaiah.  And from this earliest of Bible books we have the promise that when we straighten out our thinking we find God mercifully forgiving our sins.
   
We are further introduced to this subject of sin forgiven in the Responsive Reading, Luke 7:35-50.  Here is the account of a woman anointing Jesus' feet as he visits Simon, the Pharisee.  (Mrs. Eddy writes of this event at the beginning of the chapter, Christian Science Practice, pages 362-367 in Science and Health.)  Mrs. Eddy characterizes the quality of this woman's thought as the key to her devotion and the key to Jesus' pronouncement, "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.  And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven." (Luke 7:47-48)
 
Sections 1 and 2:   Genesis 18 and 19 deal with the story of ancient cities Sodom and Gomorrah.  The fact is that no evidence of these cities seems to exist today.  I have often wondered what happened to them.  What was the great calamity that destroyed them?  Did God destroy them as the Bible account relates?  God's conversation with Abraham seems to imply that God did rain down destruction.  But I have a problem thinking of God as destroying a city.  So I found it interesting that the topical notes at the top of the Bible page read, "The destruction of Sodom is revealed to Abraham."  For me I could see where a natural disaster of devastating proportion could occur, and only individuals that were tuned in, or receptive to God's loving direction and protection would be warned or protected.  So then it was not necessarily an overt act of destruction by God, but rather an event that destroyed and that only Abraham and his nephew Lot were warned.  Why?  Because both of them had reflected qualities of thought: faithfulness, moral courage, hospitality, neighborliness, that kept their thought open to God's protecting directions.
 
In a BBC documentary that investigated the possible history of Sodom and Gomorrah, the following facts were revealed.  The climate and vegetation at the edge of the Dead Sea in the Bronze Age (the estimated era of these cities' existence) could have supported the cities.  And certain conditions that could have resulted in a destructive 6.0 earthquake appeared present.  The link below to BBC explains some of these factors  http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/cultures/sodom_gomorrah_01.shtml
 
So you might say hellish thinking, self-destructive thinking, led to the atmosphere of thought so imbued with evil that God's loving voice of salvation and protection went unheeded.  The only one who heard the saving voice of a loving God, was Lot.  His actions were very different from those among whom he lived.  And his actions were characterized by moral courage as he sought to protect the strangers that had come to Sodom.  These strangers, these angels ,had come to find those worthy of salvation, and they only found Lot and his family.
 
The Science and Health citations for these sections (S-1 to S-11) reveal the qualities of thought that are destructive and lead to separation and the qualities of thought that protect and preserve.
 
Section 1:   Abraham, and saving the city "that all should come to repentance" (B-3).  The Bible (B-1) notes that it is iniquities - wrongdoing, sins - that seem to separate us from God.  So you might say hellish thinking, self-destructive thinking led to the atmosphere of thought so imbued with evil that God's loving voice of salvation and protection went unheeded.

Section 2: The angels at Sodom and Gomorrah
As you think about God sending the angels to check out Sodom and Gomorrah, whether to save it or not, it is helpful to think in terms of Mrs. Eddy's description of angels in Science and Health:  "ANGELS. God's thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality."
Lot "entertained" these angels and so he included them in his experience.  What qualities of thought are we entertaining?  Do they lead us to edification, to good, or to destruction?

Sections 3, 4 and 5:  Nabal, Abigail, and David [Trick-or-treating headed wrong, then right!]
Section 3:  Citation B-7 tells us of Nabal, a very rich man (three thousand sheep and a thousand goats).  He was harsh and evil in his dealings with others.  It was sheep shearing time, and that was traditionally a time of great feasting and celebration, a time of great excess, more than enough.   The name of the man was Nabal: This is another indication of his character, because the name Nabal means fool.  In the ancient culture of Israel, names were often connected with a person's character; we don't know if Nabal was given this name or if he earned it, but we will certainly see that he matches his own name.
 
David, the future king, sends his men calling ["door-to-door"], asking Nabal to share some of his excess in harvest time. (At this time David is an immigrant, a foreigner, and his main advocate, Samuel, has just died.  So David is sort of a nobody to Nabal.)  David says that he has helped protect Nabal's herds.  Nabal's shepherds were in the wilderness where they would naturally suffer some loss from the hostile surroundings.  David's men protected them.  That gives David the moral argument that if his men had not protected Nabal's animals, Nabal would have lower profits.  He refuses to recognize David's request for hospitality [the treat].  David had shown Nabal's herders hospitality, but Nabal was not willing to do the same for David.  So David prepared to attack Nabal.
 
[The trick part implied in the question: Trick? Or Treat! Watch--in CedarS PSST (Possible Sunday School Topics) to be posted and emailed to our free subscribers later in the week--for other examples of trick-or-treating throughout the Bible that will be useable for fun Sunday School learning and discussions.]
 
Section 4, Citation B-8:  When Nabal's wife Abigail hears what he has done, and what David is about to do, she acts quickly.  First she hears a report from one of Nabal's herders that David had treated them fairly. So she wastes no time thinking that this is not her fault; she humbles herself and immediately gathers up all sorts of food to offer to David and his men, a real feast.  David is so impressed that he spares Nabal and does not attack.  And he thanks Abigail for her actions [and for her acknowledgement of his future higher selfhood as the King].  She not only saved herself and Nabal, but David acknowledges that she saved him from shedding blood.
 
I love this thought from Science and Health, "The divine method of paying sin's wages involves unwinding one's snarls, and learning from experience how to divide between sense and Soul" (B-18).
 
Isn't that what Abigail did in her wise and humble actions?  She made good for something that she was not responsible for.  The situation was turned from a possible violent confrontation to one of blessing and respect.
 
Abigail's action reminded me of a recent visit to my hometown.  I had flown home to take care of some personal business and also made use of the time to visit  family, old friends, and of course my former church.   While there I found myself beginning to dig into an occurrence that had not been too pleasant.  It appeared that a loved one had been treated somewhat coldly and I wanted to try and make it better.  I had been doing a little investigation to determine what had actually happened.  And I was getting caught up in the matter.  I guess you could say without realizing it, I was sympathizing and believing that an error had actually been committed.  And the result had been a distancing, somewhat of a separation from church.  Now this family member was not distanced from God; they were daily studying the Bible Lesson and living very closely with the Father.  But there is something very special and supportive about being in church.  And I yearned for this loved one to be right where he wanted to be and feel the love that was actually there.
 
Just as I was getting too involved in sympathy, the thought came to call a long time friend.  I reached him, initially asked what he knew about the situation, and was starting to "get into the problem" again.  At that point this friend was eager to share something and asked, "Rick, do you have some time?"  I could reply, "I have all the time in the world."  My wife had lovingly insisted that I make this trip alone, no kids, no wife.  So I really was completely free to listen to this friend.  We talked about church challenges over the years.  He shared some beautiful healings and triumphs.  And then he made the most helpful observation.  He shared that when he had faced challenges in church work or his career, and when he actually "knew" he was in the right that he found it most crucial to humble himself and stop knowing he was right.  Instead he would know what was right.   As he humbled himself and yearned to see God manifest and reflected - "God's righteousness" and not self- righteousness - that major things would resolve themselves effortlessly.  So he stopped trying to see who was right, or in the right, and instead prayed to see the Right.
 
Isn't that a little like Abigail?  She was not the problem, but she was the solution as she listened to God's guidance and followed through.
 
[This idea is compelling not only to Sunday School students but to all of us who have friends engaged in what we know to be self-destructive behavior: "...designate those as unfaithful stewards who have seen the danger and yet have given no warning" (S-19).]
 
Section 5:  Nabal continues to be "churlish" and pays the price.  In Bible citation B-10, Abigail would like to tell Nabal what has taken place, but she finds him drunken and in the middle of a feast fit for a king.  She waits until morning when the effect of the wine has worn off.  When she tells him, the Bible says "his heart died within him and he became like a stone." He died.
 
This experience reminded of a quote from our Leader in the article entitled "Obedience" in Miscellaneous Writings, "The nature of the individual, more stubborn than the circumstance, will always be found arguing for itself, -- its habits, tastes, and indulgences.  This material nature strives to tip the beam against the spiritual nature; for the flesh strives against Spirit, -- against whatever or whoever opposes evil, -- and weighs mightily in the scale against man's higher destiny"  Miscellaneous Writings 119:11-17.
 
In Bible citation B-11, Ezekiel writes, "Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit:  For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth,..."
 
Science and Health citations S-21 to S-23 make it clear that it is the forsaking of sin that allows us to escape the misery of sin.  We seek to "awaken... man's dormant sense of moral obligation...."
  
It is God's will that we, as His children, live and prosper, not be tortured and suffer.  God is not in the torturing business but in the saving business.
 
Section 6:  Say "No" to sickness and sin [as Jesus does in this section (B-13); and as do his ancestors: David in Sections 3-5; and Abraham in Sections 1-2.  See B-12.]
The temptation to suffer from sickness as a reality, or actually as a legitimate part of life, is a lying temptation that Jesus denied through his ministry.  In Bible citation B-13, Matthew 12, Jesus heals a man that is blind and dumb (some translations identify deaf also).  Rather than rejoice in this power and shared freedom, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of using black magic or casting out the disease through Beelzebub.  Jesus reasons that a kingdom divided against itself would not stand.  If he was healing through Satan, then Satan's kingdom could not stand.  If we look at other terms for Satan, i.e. Liar, adversary, tempter, whisperer, father of lies, than we can understand Jesus' comment regarding the sick.
 
But if ,as Jesus says, he is healing through the word of God, then God's kingdom is come!  "But if I cast out devils by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you" (Matt 12:28).
 
Citations S-24 to S-29 outline turning from error to God.  Healing sickness and destroying sin.  A personal devil and an anthropomorphic god do not bring us to the saving Principle or divine Love.
 
Citation S-27: "Be no more willing to suffer the illusion that you are sick or that some disease is developing in the system, than you are to yield to a sinful temptation on the ground that sin has its necessities" (S&H 381:4-7)
 
Years ago I had moved into a new neighborhood.  As I met the neighbors I remember one little girl introducing herself to me, "I am illegally blind."  Well I knew she probably meant to say that she was legally blind, but I have always found that a powerful statement of the illegitimacy of error of all kinds.
 
Suffering of all kinds is illegitimate.  Whether arising from sin or sickness, what a joy to know that we have divine authority to annul the suffering.
 
Citation S-29:  As our Leader writes, "The real man being linked by Science to his Maker, mortals need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God, and to recognize the divine sonship" (S&H 316:3-7).
 
No need to suffer now or eternally.  We turn to God and turn from error.  We discover that our God is not angry with us, and dangling us over the fire.  Our Father-Mother God tenderly cherishes each and every one of us as His beloved child.  The Son of God, our Savior, comes to lift us to a higher view of ourselves and out of suffering of all kinds.
 
As our Master stated, "I am come that they might have life, and... have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).  And, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).


[PSST- Choose wisely: Trick? Or Treatment!  See Possible Quiz questions in P.S.]
Christian Science Bible Lesson for Halloween Sunday, 10-31-10
on "Everlasting Punishment"
By John Biggs, C.S., Bend, OR [with bracketed italics by Warren Huff]
 
This is a pretty intense lesson, with lots of food for thought about how we can love, and opportunities for reflection on our own use of the [sweet] gifts we've been given. Some of these questions may inspire some deep soul-searching, so let's make a commitment to be really loving and supportive of each other as we grapple with these ideas. Sunday School teachers and others who receive these PSST's: I hope these questions will inspire thought for you, too, whether in the business world, thought regarding upcoming elections, or even just your own social world. How can we expect our Sunday School students, children in our own families, classrooms, kids hanging out on the sidewalks, and refugees across the world to act with kindness and love, if we don't demonstrate these qualities as well? Let's be the city set on the hill! (Matt. 5:14)
 
PSST for Golden Text (GT)["Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness." The Message (paraphrase)]
What "ways" or habits of thought have we [abandoned or] forsaken, and afterwards seen healing? Is there any habit you'd like to forsake? According to dictionary.com, forsake means: to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert. These are strong words! If you're having trouble deserting some not-so-great habit, what help or inspiration can your classmates, family, and friends provide? Perhaps the Lesson this week also has ideas for how to forsake un-Godlike thoughts ;)
[A hands-on exercise in CedarS Bible Lands Park for dropping the past and seizing the now is our Tire Traversal--a series of 10 swinging tires suspended just above the sand to the south of the Dead Sea and its "Twin Sin Cities" of Sodom and Gomorrah that are featured in Sections 1 & 2. All tire "swingers" soon see that to have any hope of reaching their desired destination, they must do "this one thing ... forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before". (Phil. 3:13, 14) In obedience to the 6th commandment that forbids killing and to Jesus' Matthew 5:22 demand to stop killing at its root by forbidding anger and name-calling, we all must banish or abandon anger--even seemly righteous (political) indignation, like what David felt in citation B7. Since the Latin root word for anger, or being "fuming" mad, is fumare, the same root as for smoking, we all must abandon anger and so truly quit smoking! It has helped me to remember: "There is nothing in this world worth getting angry about!" And: "A Christian Scientist should have a goat that can't be got."]
PSST for Responsive Reading (RR): Once you've picked some thoughts or habits you'd like to forsake, how will you demonstrate that? As Mrs. Eddy says regarding love, "I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal." (Misc. 250:16-20) Shouldn't the same thing hold true for any quality we're striving to see and express more?
 
Verse 39 in the RR tells of Simon's doubt that Jesus really was who he said he was. Do you ever we doubt the sincerity and goodness of others [especially with all the negatives ads about politicians]? Let's welcome every good thought. How can we better express welcome to others in our lives, this week? How can we see strangers as friends?
 
PSST for Section 1: Is there anyone who doesn't deserve to know God's love? How about deserving your love? I've just finished reading Philip Yancey's What's So Amazing About Grace? It really touches on the radical nature of love - no matter what. Is there any area in your life (no matter how big or small) that you just gloss over, or that isn't great, but that doesn't really seem to matter? How can we redeem our sense of that, so that we can see how everything real radiates God's glory, always?
 
Do you ever think God is angry with you, or is punishing you? Citation S1 is pretty clear about how this is totally not true! Discuss how you know that God is always taking care of you - will never play a trick on you! [A double cross, or double standard, would be for an unconditionally loving God to demand that His reflection not give in to anger--and then give in to it Himself  by punishing you.]
 
PSST for Section 2: (From the beginning of citation B4:) Do angels ever come to YOUR gate? Do you rise up to meet them and welcome them in, or do you wait for something? Do you trust what those angels say, or do you try to justify a decision instead of trusting inspiration? The lesson doesn't include this, but the short anecdote about Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt follows right after the citation B4 closes. Do we ever look back with regret or longing for the earthly dreams we've left behind, as we awake in the dawning of Christ in our consciousness? 
[This attitude would not advance one on the Tire Traversal. See GT. A gas mask is another Bible Lands Park prop that I plan to use with the High School Jrs. And Srs. who I have this week in Sunday School. With the gas mask in hand we will explore present day applications to our "entertainment" options of a Mrs. Eddy one-liner that really fits this section and the departure of Lot's family from Sodom:  "Never breathe an immoral atmosphere unless in the attempt to purify it." (S&H 452:14)]
Citations B5 and B6: Do we do good things because of the reward (or out of fear of punishment)? Why be good? WHAT is good?
 
Can evil ever succeed? How about lying, cheating, or taking advantage of someone?
 
PSST for Section 3: Regardless of if someone deserves kindness or not, should you give the gift of love and kindness? What would try to keep you from being respectful or kind? Is there someone in your school, workplace, or social set who is generally seen as a nobody? What would it take for you to welcome them into your life? If an opportunity arises for you to be kind, will you follow through? Nabal didn't necessarily have any human law that he should be kind to David [--any more than there is a law that one needs to be generous with trick-or-treaters today. But traditions and expectations do exist.] Did David have to get super mad about Nabal's lack of generosity and civility? Does this portion of the story have any resemblance to anything in your life? Abigail's solution is coming up soon - what could your solution be? Will you act on it, this coming week? This whole month is actually National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. (But don't stop after Halloween!) How can we act (proactively) to prevent bullying? If you and your Sunday School classmates go to the same school, can you commit to helping each other fulfill "the law of kindness" (see Hymn 178).
 
Citation S13 speaks of the kindness we can have, even to those who are not acting kindly.  Check out this cute, poignant media clip, submitted to TMCYouth: http://tmcyouth.com/media/library/spiritual-reality-goggles
 
 My wife and I have been talking a bit about how prayer regarding bullying is also a prayer for Sunday School. The people who are doing the bullying need Sunday School very much! Can you join with us in prayer and joyful witness, that all who would benefit from Sunday School, as well as all who would bless Sunday School by their presence, can be guided to attend? Do citations S14 and S15 leave any room for gray area?
 
PSST for Section 4: How do we treat those who stop us from doing something bad, or something that we'd regret later? In Halloween terms, if someone gives you a treat, do you trick them back? Every session at CedarS. the staff honor one or more campers with the title of "CedarS Torchbearer." One of the things that Torchbearers promise to uphold and live by is the statement, "I promise to stand for what is right, even though it may not be the popular thing to do." What could try to prevent us from living this promise, whether we're a torchbearer or not, whether we go to CedarS, Adventure Unlimited, Bow-Isle, (or any other wonderful Christian Science camp) or any camp at all? How do you treat those who do live by this promise? [Hopefully, our local heroines--like Abigail in this biblical situation-are appreciated for their good intentions, boldness of action and "noble sacrifices." (Misc. 250:18)]
 
All the Science and Health citations, throughout the lesson, are very practical for daily life. Can we commit to especially practice "unwinding one's snarls" as in citation S18? What support do you need, in order to do this? Does citation S19 [about seeing dangers (possibly in the self-destructive behavior of friends) and yet not giving a warning] speak to anything specific in your life? Can we be that good woman or man from citation S20 - overcoming a fear of sin?
 
PSST for Section 5: Do you need to go on an avenging crusade to make everything right with other people - be a busybody and tell others how to live their lives? I'm reminded of the end of the parable of the prodigal son (found in Luke 15:11-32) where a dutiful, probably very good man is really upset that his kid brother, who had admittedly behaved very badly, was now getting a massive party. Is it up to us, to decide who God loves? Does God know how to love His children? The last chapter of the book of Jonah has a lesson along the same lines. It might be fun in class to look up these, and other, stories in the Bible that parallel the various lessons learned here. Getting practice in seeing these parallels is a great warm-up for seeing the parallels in our OWN lives! God is Life. We must live! (B11)
 
Do we need to be afraid of sin, as it is described in citation S21? What are we giving power to in our day? Is it really our day, or God's day? Is citation S22 fair? Is fairness (in whatever definition you like) a part of all this infinite Love? Some people have a very deep sense of fairness and right vs. wrong. Does this lesson, and the idea of infinite Love in general, speak to you at all along the lines of fairness? This could be a whole hour's discussion on it's own : ) Citation S23 is a great jumpstart to living in a more Godlike manner.
 
PSST for Section 6: Can you look at your life and believe the promise that is made in citation B15? [I plan to present God's promise to cast all our "sins into the depths of the sea" with a small "Promise" candy treat to remember this sweet forgiveness and promise by.] Do you really, really know that God loves you, so very much? Infinitely? What does that infinite, ever-present Love mean for you, daily, in how you live? What if, every hour - every 10 minutes - you reminded yourself, "I am loved. I am loving. I am lovely. I am lovable." It has been transformational for me to practice this for the last 3 years - I would recommend it! What would your day look like, if you knew, without a doubt, that you were loved?
 
Perhaps citation S24 would be naturally, quietly fulfilled, if we went through the whole day with this knowledge of God's love as all. What do you think? Check out citation S25 and talk about if Love is really enough. From citation S27, is there anything that you think you just need to indulge in, because it's just (supposedly) a part of life, but inside you know it's not the best thing you could be doing? Notice that ‘the best thing you could be doing' is not a judgment call for someone else to make - whether or not you've ever thought about this before, how do you know or decide what's best to do or think? Do you then follow through? Why or why not?
 
Thank you for exploring this lesson with me! This is a good day - go love it and be loved!
 
[P.S. I plan to bring--or wear--to Sunday School a costume of angel wings as I did several years ago when Halloween fell on a Wednesday and I gave a testimony about "wrestling with an angel" message until it blessed and healed me. (Gen. 32:24-26) I also plan to give each student a take-home memento of a fake pearl (from an inexpensive "pearl" necklace) representing the "pearl of great price" that we have all been given in Christian Science. I will share how a real pearl is the result of a layer-upon-layer, comforting treatment over the "trick" of a bit of grit that has found its way inside an oyster's shell. We will discuss Mrs. Eddy's challengeAnchor" (Ret. 93:22) During the closing Scientific Statement of Being (not of Becoming) I hope to direct class thought to the "noble sacrifices and grand achievements" (Misc. 250:18) our offering to "struggle" or wrestle with the newness of perfection and to demonstrate this angelic statement that has the format of the alternating affirmations and-denials given in a Christian Science treatment.  What a forever-lasting, sweet treat we have "perceived in advance of others"-"in a sweet and certain sense that God is Love!" (S&H 569)
 
P.P.S. Here are other possible ways to use a Trick? Or Treatment theme in Sunday School in a review and identification of several Bible characters. My wife and I developed the following character i.d quiz that would be rewarded with points that could be traded in for candy or other treats at the end of class.]
 
QUIZ: "Can you name these trick-or-treating Bible characters?"
Characters 1:
Q1: Nabal
refused these trick-or-treaters at sheep shearing time.(10 points, B7)
Q2: Open Book answer 5 points, I Sam. 25:2-13
 
Character 2:
Q1: I played the role of a diplomat and provided and apology and generous TREAT thereby preventing David from hurting my husband. (10)
Q2: Open Book answer 5 points, (B8--I Sam. 25:18-33)
 
Character 3:
Q1: My mother helped me dress up in a goat hair costume in order to trick my dad into giving me the blessing of the first son.  (20 points)
 
Q2: It took me 20 years of running and having the tricks I did to others backfire on me before I realized that I had to stop deceiving others or I would continue to be deceived. (15)
 
Q3: I felt I had to compete with my family members as if there was not enough good to go around. I also pretended to be someone I was not. (10)
 
Q4: My life story is in Genesis 27. It's all about trick or treatment. (5)
 
Character 4:
Q1: I thought that God gives us good when we're good and takes it away when we're not. This double-minded concept of God caused me to be tricked into letting through the door of my thinking some ugly thoughts and results. (15)
 
Q2: Wrong thoughts came to me disguised (or dressed) as my friends or my familiar thoughts. My story in the Bible shows that I was fooled by Satan (the adversary or prosecuting attorney). It took form in many masks of blame, guilt, and was described as wandering up and down, to and fro. (10)
 
Q3: God took off the mask of my false beliefs and showed me what He had made in creation. Then I was not tricked and got the treatment of a healing and of everything I had before (that had been destroyed) restored plus more. God gave me the best treatment ever. You can read my story in the Old Testament in the Bible in a book named after me. (5)
 
 
Character 5:
Q1: I wasn't tricked into disobeying the First or Second Commandment by bowing down to the King's gods. I was treated to protection from the lions and my friends were also protected when they were put in a burning, fiery furnace. (10)
 
Character 6:
Q1: You can read about me in the New Testament. I wanted a sweet treat, so I went to an angel! "I went unto the angel and said unto him, give me the little book. And he said to me, Take it, and eat it up, and it shall be in the belly bitter, but it shall be in they mouth sweet as honey." (15)
 
Q2: Just like when you go trick or treating, I asked for a handout (to have someone else do something for me), but the angel made me reach out to take the treat and make it my own, to digest it and use it. (10)
 
Q3: Part of my treatment was to be put in a huge vat of burning oil. But I wasn't tricked. I sang hymns and wasn't even burned. I got the treat of the revelation. In fact, you can read about my story in Revelation as well as the Gospels in the Bible. (5)
 
Character 7:
Q1: Which disciple was tricked into thinking that he wouldn't believe that Jesus had resurrected from the dead unless he could see him and touch the nail wounds? (15)
 
Character 8:
Q1: I wasn't tricked by seeing myself as helpless when facing a very tall man. I gave myself a treatment and knew that my God would be with me. I prevailed with God's help, even though the entire army of my country was tricked into being scared and fearful.
 
Character 9:
Q1: I was actually walking on the stormy water with Jesus and then I got tricked into believing that the law of gravity was more powerful than God's laws and I sank. Jesus was not tricked, but stayed on top of the water and pulled me out.
 
Characters 10:
Q1: We all were tricked into thinking that there just wasn't enough food to feed everyone. We thought Jesus was crazy to think that he could feed thousands of people with not very much. He took off that mask of limitation that we were wearing and showed us how to feed everyone. He started by thanking God. Who were we? (5)
Q2: Can you name all 12 of us? (5 points each)
 
Additional questions:
Q1: This word is used often in Science and Health. It's used 20 times in the chapter "Fruitage" alone. It's recorded there that by just reading this book all sorts of healings have occurred. Give yourself, or the activity you are doing, a Christian Science _________________________ every time a trick knocks on the door of your thinking. 
 
Q2: What was Jesus' treatment when he healed Lazarus from the dead? (Gratitude in advance)
 
Q3: What tricks or masks of wrong thinking did the sisters and the disciples need to remove from their thinking about Lazarus? 
 
P.P.P.S. Possible Application Ideas for citation S19:
How to "Rise to the Occasion!"
What occasions or opportunities are demanding your best these days?
1.      Hard assignments, unbelievable workload, killer deadlines?
2.      Important tests or essays?
3.      A big game or performance?
4.      Group Leadership role(s)?
5.      An important date or social event?
6.      A sticky situation where taking a moral or ethical stand is needed?
7.      A challenging relationship that keeps testing your patience, equanimity and integrity? 
Whatever opportunities you face, you can meet them as their master by obeying a powerful two-word command in this week's lesson.*
·         "Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil." Science &Health #19, p. 571:16
 
Know yourself as God knows you -- as an ever perfect expression of "infinity, freedom, harmony and boundless bliss." (see S&H 481:3) Simply accept and express each of these elements of your divine identity to eradicate their illegitimate opposites. Let God eliminate in your life: the debilitating drag of limited energy, funds, intelligence, speed, inspiration; the sapping slavery of restrictions (injuries, red tape tie-ups); the regular rub of inharmonious relationships and the constant cloud of frustration and unhappiness. All gone! Never part of you or those you love.
 
"Your assignment, should you choose to accept it," is to simply do your part, know yourself spiritually, and watch God do Her part, to supply you with all the wisdom and occasions where victories are wanted. You may also enjoy highlighting in every lesson all of God's jobs in one color and all of yours in another. 
 
My teacher, Jean Stark Hebenstreit, shed new light on our focus passage with this one-line elaboration.
 
"Ability(wisdom) and Opportunity (occasion) are coordinate ideas."
 
Couple accepting this divine law with knowing yourself spiritually, and you will never have ability without being given opportunity to express it. (no unneeded bench-sitting) And, you'll also never be given opportunities (like the seven listed) without having the God-given abilities to rise to the occasion!
                        *See also S&H 419:16 "Meet every circumstance as its master."
 

Thank you for reading, praying about and acting on this very special announcement:
      Thanks to a recent matching funds offer, if CedarS can raise $30,000 in tax-deductible gifts in the remainder of 2010 and another $30,000 in January 2011, we will realize our 50-year-dream of having a lake on site that is large enough for many campers to enjoy watersports at the same time! We would have to start the well-engineered earthwork soon to have it built in time to catch spring rains before our 50th anniversary Jubilee summer to which all Cedars alumni and supporters are warmly invited!  
      To complete our campsite -- solely designed to encourage spiritual growth-- this body of water would be the "Mediterranean S(k)ea" that would set in proper context the present and future editions of CedarS Bible Lands Park. With the addition of the Mediterranean, Bible study at CedarS and in our freely-shared "Mets" will come even more alive for campers of all ages blessed by an actual or virtual visit to our present 500 ft. scale model of Israel and to a future Antioch, Ephesus, Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, Rome, Alexandria, ... as well as to Paul's ship-wreck island of Malta (Melita), and to Cyprus, Crete, Patmos, ... More to come as you help the idea come to full fruition!

ONLINE GIVING UPDATE:  We hope you will use your Visa and Mastercard as well as Discovery Card and American Express and virtual checks directly (without going through PayPal) to make monthly and one-time donations.
Your support is always tax-deductible and welcomed--but during the economic downturn, your help has been and continues to be especially needed and appreciated!  To support CedarS work you can make a charitable donation to our 501C-3 tax-exempt, charitable organization in many wonderful ways.
Thank you for also considering writing a monthly check payable to CedarS Camps and mailing it to: CedarS Camps, 19772 Sugar Drive, Lebanon, MO 65536; or for calling Warren or Gay Huff at (636) 394-6162  to discuss gifts of securities or property you are considering giving to benefit CedarS.]
 
[CedarS weekly Metaphysical Newsletters are provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff who were blessed this summer at CEDARS--as well as to thousands of CEDARS alumni, families, Sunday School teachers and friends who request it, or who find it weekly on our website or through CS Directory. But, current and planned gifts are much-needed: to cover the costs of running this "free" service; to provide camperships to make inspirational opportunities possible for our deserving youth; and to complete Stages 1 & 2 of Bible Lands Park (BLP).   (Click on --http://blog.cedarscamps.org/-- for other pictures and write-ups on CedarS Bible Lands Park.)
 
[Camp Director's Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 10-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 "Possible Sunday School Topics" come in a subsequent email.) 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" 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 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.]
You can now click on the pdf symbol (at the right) to download a pdf version of CedarS Lesson mets for easier printing and for better reading from mobile devices.
Enjoy! Warren Huff, Executive Director   director@cedarscamps.org]

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