Declining numbers demand revised approach to church

Declining numbers demand revised approach to church

In his recent blog “Declining numbers demand revised approach to church,” Eric Nelson shares his love for church and its healing impact on his life.  He also suggests that it is the individual’s love for church that attracts others.  You will want to read this blog originally published on July 27, 2015 in Communities Digital News  

No doubt, it would be great to see a few more folks at church on Sunday. As nice as it is to have an entire pew (or two, or three) to myself, I’d gladly give up the surplus real estate for even a handful of extra voices to back me up on the hymn-singing.

But if I’m really being honest with myself, there are times – probably more than I’m willing to admit – when my desire to include others in this weekly gathering is motivated less by love and more by fear. Fear of being in the minority. Fear of defending an unpopular choice. Fear of having climbed aboard what I’m sure a good number of my friends and family members assume to be – and what sometimes feels like – a sinking ship.

The latest study from the Pew Research Center certainly doesn’t help. “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing,” they report. “Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups.”

Not exactly the sort of news that inspires confidence.

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Is matter just ‘a big fat lie?’

Is matter just a big fat lie?
@Glow Images

I just love the challenge to our everyday thinking posed by the title of this article “Is matter just a ‘big fat lie?’ Health blogger Eric Nelson, first published this article on May 4, 2015 in Communities Digital News.  I know you will want to click through to read more.

“Why doesn’t your butt fall through the chair?”

That may sound like a silly question. But if you were to take a stroll through the mind of astrophysicist Adam Frank – the man who asked the question – you might think otherwise.

“Consider, for a moment, the chair your butt is resting on right now,” writes Frank in a recent column. “It’s made of a squillion atoms right? And since it’s a solid, all those chair atoms are packed tightly together like a vast collection of marbles in a box, right? And it’s all those tightly packed atoms/marbles that are holding your butt in the chair against the force of gravity, right?

“Well, actually, no. There is a tiny problem with the whole atoms-as-marbles picture. It’s entirely wrong.”

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My time with an Olympic coach

My time with an Olympic coach
@Glow Images

Do you ever wonder, when watching the record-breaking achievements of Olympic athletics, “How do they do that?”  My colleague, Linda Ross, from Connecticut had a brief but interesting encounter with an Olympic coach which illustrates the importance thought has on maintaining health in every activity.

“Several years ago, our county wide running club hired an Olympic coach for just one day. Elite runners started at 8:00am. The rest of us were assigned an appointment based on individual time from a recent 10K race.  My group was last. Going around the table, each asked how to manage their various injuries while continuing to run.  When my turn came, I asked how to be faster as I had no injuries.

He replied, “No injuries? What are you thinking when you run?”  To read Linda’s answer click here on Hartford Faith and Values.

Wholly Healthy, A New Year’s View

Wholly Healthy, A New Year's View

In his article Wholly Healthy, A New Year’s View, John Clague, a community blogger from Oregon, recognizes that authentic health requires addressing the whole person, not just bodily symptoms. “The spiritual underpinnings of health have deep roots in ancient times as recorded in the Bible. Jesus, his disciples, and prophets practiced this natural form of health care over many centuries, with remarkable results. This new/old practice of medicine, acknowledging wholeness and the spiritual nature of man, can upgrade health care from mere mechanistic treatment to a sense of connectedness to powerful recuperative energies, including divine Love.”  To read more of this thought provoking article, originally published in, click here.



From Addiction to Freedom

From Addiction to Freedom

For those of us in New Mexico – or anywhere – concerned about the prevalence of addiction, this blog by my colleague Wendy Margolese, “From Addiction to Freedom,” will be of interest.

Wendy shares, “Here are two experiences of complete recovery from addiction. Instead of succumbing to the disorder of addiction, both Martin and Ray chose order in their lives through the acknowledgement of a higher power – a divine and supportive influence – bringing not only health, but also freedom.”  To read more of this blog, originally publish on Canada’s Metroland Media Simcoe County  click here.

Thought and Health

Dear Friends,

“The pressing question today is, What will heal us of our various economic, physical, and social ills? Contrary to pop culture, which encourages instant self-gratification with little demanded of us, the Bible teaches that spiritual healing requires spiritual growth, redemption of character, and the willingness to bring oneself in line with the divine.”  This is a quote from the following article I found on  It was written by Ron Ballard. Ron is a Lecturer, author, teacher, and has had a spiritual healing practice for over 35 years.

Reprinted from The Christian Science Journal

Courtesy of the More Good Foundation


What compromises it? These questions have framed the focus of the healthcare community from earliest times. And today, we see an upswing in interest related to mental influences on health. For example, one recent book I found fascinating, Why People Get Sick: Exploring The Mind-Body Connection (Darian Leader and David Corfield), explores this discussion, long debated in the healthcare field, concerning mental factors that influence an individual’s health. Along these same lines, I recall reading somewhere that when Louis Pasteur, considered the father of modern medicine, was asked why the same medication affected patients differently, he remarked that it had to do with the “terrain” of the patient, meaning his or her mental outlook. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, was a contemporary of Pasteur, and through her practice of spiritual healing she delved deeply into the mental influences that affect health for better or worse. She ultimately learned that spiritual consciousness, or an awareness of God and his wholly good nature, establishes health; whereas factors in human thought such as fear or selfishness compromise spiritual sense, and therefore health. Her discovery of Christian Science shows that health has always been dependent on our growing comprehension of the divine nature and our commitment to living consistently the qualities that we naturally reflect from this good and loving God. Understanding our spiritual identity as the expression of God’s being can bring amazing transformation. And this transformation comes not only to ourselves, but to those we hold in our thoughts, as my grandmother discovered years ago.

A new view

At the turn of the 20th century my grandmother, who longed to be of greater use to others, began to study a new book that she found advertised in a store near where she shopped for groceries. Having limited resources, she was unable to purchase the book, but each day on her daily shopping rounds she stopped in and read a few pages. The book captivated her hopes and desires for a more fulfilling life, and it explained a lot of the questions she had gathered from her ardent study of the Bible. She would return home each day filled with eagerness and enthusiasm to share what she had learned. No one in her household, however, was particularly interested. Each afternoon she would go outside and hang up the laundry that she took in to make ends meet. Next door lived a young boy who was regularly placed outside in a playpen to take in the fresh air; his appearance and inability to communicate like other boys his age caught my grandmother’s attention. (She later learned that the boy had been born with this condition.) Unable to find a willing audience inside to share what she had learned from Science and Health, my grandmother began talking to her captive audience outside. She explained to the boy what she was learning about the nature of God and how this little boy, as the very image and likeness of God, expressed this wholly good nature by divine right.

Photo courtesy of the More Good Foundation

Days passed. Late one afternoon, soon after my grandmother had read almost the entire Science and Health, the boy’s mother knocked on her door. She asked my grandmother what she had been talking to her boy about. My grandmother told her that she had discovered a wonderful book entitled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures written by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science. My grandmother told the woman that she didn’t know much about Christian Science, but she knew that Mary Baker Eddy was a successful healer and had written a book based on scriptural teaching explaining how to heal. According to my grandmother, the mother was quiet and then said that whatever it was that she was learning from that book worked, because her son’s condition was improving. And as my grandmother related the story, within about three months the boy showed no evidence of the condition.

What had enabled my grandmother to heal this young boy? I would suggest that she experienced a revolutionary shift of thought or “terrain.” Her reading of Science and Health had given her a more expansive view of God, enabling her to glimpse the fact that she, as well the boy, had the possibility of experiencing something better than the hand that was dealt to them. To some extent, she broke free of the confining theories and beliefs of the physical senses and saw infinite possibilities for this boy. That he could be healed. My grandmother must have seen clearly that the boy’s identity was wholly spiritual, defined and formed by divine Love, and therefore untouched by disease. He could not be the victim of human genetics. Her spiritualized outlook and new understanding of self, and the implications that this increased understanding has on our lives, had a salutary effect not only on her, but on the boy.

Obstacles to health

But unless, like my grandmother, we’re willing to shed a false sense of self or identity, we can face obstacles to healing. Consider this passage in Science and Health: “Self-love is more opaque than a solid body. In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error—self-will, self-justification, and self-love,—which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death” (Science and Health, p. 242).

An adamant is a rock or mineral considered to be of impenetrable hardness, and the author is telling us that self-centered thinking or stubborn self-love prevents the healing message of the Christ from penetrating thought. Yet notice that the author does not attach such thinking to individuals. Rather, she seems to be saying that self-will, self-justification, and self-love belong to erroneous thinking itself; they are adamants of error. It would be helpful to keep in mind that individuals are more often victims than creators of these false inclinations, and genuine practitioners of Christian Science healing no more attach them to the individual than they attach sickness to the person. These adamants, therefore, belong to mortal thought (that is, the thought patterns of materially based thinking). Nonetheless, these inclinations need to be addressed and destroyed in thought, in order to free us from their harmful effects. Gratefully, we have many examples of individuals who have dissolved the adamants of self-will, self-justification, and self-love.

Photo courtesy of Bill Bradford, Houston Texas, USA

Naaman overcomes self-will

Take the Bible story of Naaman, a valiant soldier and captain of the army of Syria. He was a leper (see II Kings 5:1–14). In his exploits, he brought back to Syria a Hebrew handmaid who counseled Naaman’s wife that Naaman should visit the prophet Elisha, who could heal Naaman of his leprosy. Naaman followed this counsel and journeyed to Samaria to seek the prophet. When he found him, Elisha sent a servant to tell Naaman to wash in the river Jordan seven times. Naaman initially rebelled at this command, feeling slighted that Elisha did not personally address him, so great a man, and then asked Naaman to bathe in the muddy Jordan rather than in the cleaner rivers of Damascus. So he rejected the prophet’s command. However, Naaman was advised by his servants to subjugate his self-will and follow Elisha’s directions. Namaan finally agreed, and in so doing he was healed of the leprosy.

How often self-will stands in the way of healing! We might have such a decided sense of how something must work out that we miss the very instructions that lead to the healing. What was Naaman really healed of—leprosy, or of the deeper, moral issue of self-will? Clearly, Naaman was being asked to submit to the will of God, represented here by the prophet. Naaman had to be willing to turn away from the pride of power and intellect, human reason and analysis, and be open to the simplicity of divine direction.

The pressing question today is, What will heal us of our various economic, physical, and social ills? Contrary to pop culture, which encourages instant self-gratification with little demanded of us, the Bible teaches that spiritual healing requires spiritual growth, redemption of character, and the willingness to bring oneself in line with the divine. As the story of Naaman asks, Are we willing to wash in the river of Biblical inspiration?

Self-justification healed

Centuries after Naaman washed in Jordan, another man sat by a pool of waters, day after day hoping to be healed of lameness (see John 5:2–9 ). This fellow, whose name we don’t know, was waiting for the moving of the waters at the pool of Bethesda because, according to legend, when the waters were troubled by an angel, the first one who jumped into these waters would be healed of whatever malady he or she had. As the story goes, this man was paralyzed in his feet, so someone else always beat him to the water. Evidently, he had been trying to get there for a long time. This fellow’s challenge, however, was not logistics. When Jesus found him, he asked a most probing question, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Now, to anyone who has been paralyzed for 38 years, that question would seem unfathomable. But Jesus appeared not to be asking, “Do you want to be healed of your paralysis?” but rather, “Are you ready to be whole in every sense of the word?” Not only physically, but morally?

If Jesus were to ask us the same question, how would we answer? Be careful. It is easier to say that we want to hear Christ’s demands—divine messages from God to each of us—than to act on them. Which one of us has not been down the road multiple times of professing to want to be and do better, only to find it’s too difficult? Usually, that’s the point where self-justification enters. There is always some reason we can’t follow these demands. For the man at the pool of Bethesda, who had no one to help him into the water—there was never enough time or the opportunity to make it. But Jesus disregarded his material reasoning and said, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” And the man obeyed.

Self-love revealed

Jesus told two parables that highlight the obstacles that self-love poses to health and happiness. The first parable involves two men—one a Pharisee and the other a publican—who went to the temple to pray (see Luke 18:9–14). The publican had a humble prayer. His reward? Jesus said he would be “exalted.” But the Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” This man, Jesus said, would be “abased.” How easy it is to fall into the prayer of the Pharisee! The difficulty with this kind of self-love, which takes pride in how good one is compared to others, is that soon the question arises, “But has this loyalty and good behavior done any good, has it really paid off?” And then comes another kind of comparison, “Look at that fellow—he isn’t very spiritually minded and look at his success (or wealth or popularity or good health)!” We may not realize that this is a subtle, self-righteous self-love, but that’s really what it is.

And remember Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son? It began, “A certain man had two sons” (see Luke 15:11–32 ). We often forget the lessons of the elder son who stayed home and worked dutifully for his father, while his younger brother took off and wasted his inheritance. The contrast in this parable is often thought to be between the sinners (the young son) and Pharisees—the advocates of religious dogma (the elder son). The elder son’s loyalty soon turns into jealousy of the younger son’s celebratory homecoming, and the elder brother becomes self-righteous because he had stayed while the willful younger brother wasted his resources. The faithful brother now indulges in self-pity because he had never gotten a feast with his friends. The father in this parable breaks through the elder brother’s self-focus with the most tender reminder, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” We, too, must never forget that promise.

That promise, metaphorical in nature, is God’s promise to us all. It illustrates the fact that God is always with us, forever supporting and maintaining us. It’s a promise that we can throw off any false sense of a mortal, vulnerable self and become conscious that we are—and always have been—the sons and daughters of God.

Experiences in Healing, Meet Alex

This video shares the personal journey Alex Fischer experienced in his search for healing.  I thought you might enjoy hearing about it.