Metaphysical bible story #7

SMA-2 (color)In writing about the story of the 3 Hebrew teens, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah I remembered the imagery from the story that I learned as a small child in Sunday School and carried with me all these years. I knew that it would become my next Kid’s Sheet or metaphysical bible story activity sheet.

Like the stories of Daniel, Abraham & Sarah, David & Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, Elijah and the Widow and the Widow and the Oil – the story of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known in Western culture as Shadrach, Meschach and Abednago) teaches simple but profound spiritual Truths.

The imagery of the golden idol, the angry King, the hotter-than-hot furnace and the miraculous emergence of the 3 teens without so much as a hair on their head being singed is a strong tool for teaching children that no matter what they are facing in life, they are never alone and that staying connected with a strong faith in the Divine can work miracles in the face of what might seem like certain doom.

While the teachings of Ernest Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson and other New Thought giants are wonderful for the adult crowd, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned Bible story with the rich imagery of the Hebrew Scriptures or Christian texts to create a connection to a universal Truth that will persist over decades.

Today’s kids face increasing awareness and access to “scary adult stuff“. Providing spiritual tools they can use to know the Truth is the best gift we can give – and it’s a gift that will last a lifetime.

Here’s a copy of the Kid’s Sheet for the story of Shadrach-Meschach and Abednago (kids sheets). 

Like the other Kid’s Sheets, these are free to use with attribution (please acknowledge this website/blog): www.practitionerspath.com

If you use this or any of my other Kid’s Sheets, I hope you’ll share your feedback (here’s my email)!

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

 

 

The opposite of what we despise

 

Positive - Negative

I have a number of passionate and political friends who can tick off a laundry list of what’s wrong with the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington, DC. While I don’t disagree with the criticisms, as a student of metaphysics, I know that whatever we give our attention to will expand. Therefore, those of us with this knowledge and perspective have a job to do – and it’s not to post more angry rants on social media.

In a general sense, there are categories of concern around the current occupants of the Executive branch, and I would list these as follows:

  • supports cutting safety nets for seniors and the poor (e.g. food, shelter)
  • supports cutting access to health care
  • in favor of cutting Medicare and Social Security funding
  • encourages divisiveness among culturally diverse peoples
  • openly hostile to immigrants
  • openly anti-Environmental Protection

There’s much more of course, but this is a good place to begin.

We achieve NOTHING if all we do is point to the spectacle and complain. We can do MUCH if we mobilize to fill the needs in our own communities.

We can SUPPORT our local Food Bank organizations. If you’re not already doing so, start today. If you already are, do more & expand your current efforts.

We can open our doors to immigrants by being present in our community at events where diverse people gather to serve, to welcome & not necessarily just to advertise our Centers. We can develop programming that helps fill some need – large or small, depending on our capacity – to address the separateness that is seeping into the chasms between citizens and non-citizens. Simply advertising Sunday services isn’t enough. Get out there and BE the principles of spiritual living – don’t be content to simply talk about them to the same group of listeners who already think like you do.

We can support established organizations that are already performing these tasks. Invite a speaker to a Sunday service to talk about their work in immigrant resettlement; host a mid-week talk on the same thing; dedicate a portion of your tithes and gifts to a specific program related to the issue.

Adopt environmental practices at your Center or Church and go as green as you can. Learn about where to recycle unusual things (like plastic shopping bags, which do not get recycled in the regular trash pickup but are an environmental nightmare); offer an easy drop off for members and visitors and provide transport for things to out of the way recycling receiving zones; invite a local speaker to come and share the issues specific to the environment at a Sunday talk or mid-week event. Walk the talk by using recyclable items in your Center (avoiding things like Keurig K-Cups which are also an environmental disaster – there are several viable alternatives…)

Instead of teaching another old-school, millionaire-sponsored prosperity class hoping to get more members to tithe to you; go out into the community and BE the prosperity you are teaching for a senior center; for a low-income daycare; a Boys & Girls Club – for any community services agency that has a need and recognize that ABUNDANCE is so much more than money.

This past week we voted. Changes are in motion but there’s so much more we can do in our own communities. We have powerful tools; we have deep knowledge. Are we willing to walk the talk of creating a world that works for everyone?

It’s time to put our money where our mouths are – to be the living, breathing presence of the OPPOSITE of what we dislike in our government; to give our energy and attention to that which we desire to expand: compassion, generosity, inclusiveness – knowing that what we focus on will increase.

It’s time to BECOME the change we seek, for ourselves, for our communities, our nation and the world.

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

 

A prayer for the nation

spiritual mind treatment for AmericaRegardless of the noise, the fear, the political unrest, I know that there is only One Power. This Power and Presence – the Infinite One – is all there is; the beginning and the end – the alpha and omega of everything. I know that I am an expression of this One divine Spirit as It is individualized in me, expressing through me, as me in each moment of my life. And as I accept this for myself, I know it as the Truth for my country.

Tonight on the eve of an important election event, I rest peacefully in the knowing that the Infinite is ever-present in the hearts and minds of each citizen as they ponder their role in this democracy; as they vote for men and women to represent them and their families in every level of government. I trust that each vote is made with integrity and the earnest desire for the highest and best for all persons in this nation and beyond.

I reject the politics of fear and division, for they have no power. The universal power for Good is greater, stronger and more abundant and It expands to fill every state, every county, every community, every corner of this land. This groundswell of Goodwill permeates the environment and passes, person to person from coast to coast. It is palpable in the air from New York to Seattle, Georgia to California, North Dakota to Texas, Florida to Wisconsin; from North to South, East to West in communities large and small.

Tonight my heart overflows with gratitude for the Goodness that is the abundant Truth of the American people. I am thankful for the generosity of spirit, the welcoming hearts, the kindness and basic decency that are the Truth of the men and women I proudly call my fellow citizens and I celebrate the demonstration of these Truths as they out-picture in tomorrow’s election results.

From this humbled and grateful perspective I release my word into the Infinite Law, knowing that it returns fulfilled; confident that Goodwill, Peace, Integrity and Wholeness are everywhere present in this land – in these United States of America – and so it is.

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

 

Walking unharmed out of the fire

Digital CaptureThe Hebrew scriptures are rich with imagery and wisdom and provide some of my favorite metaphysical lessons. The story of an angry king and 3 rebellious teens is no exception.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a megalomaniac who declared that whenever the people heard “…the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music,…” that they should fall down and worship the gold image he had commissioned.

At the time of this decree, the Jewish people were among the residents of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom and worshiping a golden statue was not compatible with living as a religious Jew. This meant that Jews had to either pretend, or face the consequences. And Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria* had decided that pretending wasn’t their style.

As the story goes, someone reported Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria to the king, who summoned them to his court. He questioned them, reminding them that if they did not follow his rules they would be “…cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

The young men replied that they had no interest in worshiping the golden idol, and added that “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.

This “thanks-but-no-thanks” on the idol worship offer was not well-received by the king. Nebuchadnezzar so was enraged with their refusal that he ordered the furnace be heated to 7 times its normal level. Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria were bound and thrown into the middle of the burning fiery furnace.

The fire in the furnace had been stoked so hot that it killed the men who marched them into the flames. We can almost imagine the scene: the angry ruler, the crying families, and the terrible smell as the furnace consumed the soldiers who had marched Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria into the flames.

To Nebuchadnezzar’s great surprise when he looks into the fire that has just claimed several of his men, he sees 4 men walking around, seemingly undisturbed by the inferno.

He asks his counselors: “did I not throw 3 men into the fiery furnace?”

They confirm that yes, it was 3 men. But Nebuchadnezzar sees 4 men walking around, unbound and unharmed: Hanania, Mishael, Azaria and a 4th man that appeared to be otherworldly (some translations describe him as a son of the gods or an angel).

Nebuchadnezzar is intrigued. These 3 Hebrew youth had stood firm in their faith when he threatened them, and now something truly miraculous appears to be in play. He went to the edge of the furnace and called out to them: “Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!

The 3 young men came out from the midst of the fiery furnace. To the great surprise of the governors and king’s counselors gathered at the site, not one hair of their heads was singed, their clothes were not burned, and they did not even smell of fire. Indeed, the fire intended to punish them (and serve as a lesson for others who might get an idea to defy the king) had been shown to have no power over them.

The rich metaphysical lesson of this story is one that we should all write down and carry with us. The physical laws working at the time Hanania, Mishael, Azaria were tied up and thrown into the furnace should have meant that they were immediately consumed. Indeed, the men charged with marching them into the furnace were killed almost immediately, and yet these 3 young men of faith were saved – not just from death, but they came out of the inferno without a scratch.

This story reminds us that REGARDLESS of what the textbooks say, what has happened to others, what the “scientific facts” or prognosis may be: when we walk with the faith and knowing with which Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria walked into that furnace, we can come through anything unscathed.

We can defy the odds and completely heal from a frightening disease; we can beat a monumental financial setback; we can overcome legal, physical or other challenges that everyone says are insurmountable because like Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria in that furnace – we are never alone.

Shadrach,_Meshach_and_Abednego._Engraving.jpgWhen faced with difficult times, it is easy to get caught up in fear and statistics. The story of  Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria reminds us that there is no enemy so great that we are outside of God’s protection & grace.

It’s also important to note that the 3 young men did not fight – they did not try to talk their way out of their death sentence. They stood in the knowing that they were under God’s protection and spoke their Truth – even as they felt the heat of the furnace:

“…our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand.”

All of us face “fiery furnaces” at some point in our lives. We can live in fear and dread, or we can learn the lesson in the story of Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria who faced what appeared to be an inescapable fate: they were bound and tied, and thrown into a fire that was made 7-times hotter than normal. And yet they walked away without one hair of their heads singed; without their clothes being burned, without even the smell of fire on them.

Stand firm in the knowing that the “burning, fiery furnaces” have no power over you; that you are not alone – not even in your darkest hour; and that like Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria – you will walk out of the fire untouched.

And so it is.

* the Babylonian names of the 3 Jewish youth were: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

 

Getting even (leave it to the Law)

In metaphysical studies, we learn that what we think about or do to others, we in essence do to ourselves since we are all one. A very LOOSE and modern translation is that acting badly toward others can create “bad karma” for us. This makes it increasingly difficult for those on a spiritual path to ponder revenge against others whom we may judge as deserving of a dose.

And while “revenge” isn’t a very spiritual term, let’s face it: we’re all human and most of us have had moments (or periods) where we fantasized about scoring that verbal win, pulling the chair out from under someone or delivering the final blow to a project belonging to someone who has behaved badly and impacted our lives in a negative way. Sometimes even spiritual warriors have to walk through some revenge fantasies before they get to a place of forgiveness.

It is helpful along that journey away from revenge if we remember that no matter how creative the actions we construct  in our mind may seem; the Universe is much better at the game of getting even. And when spiritual Law levels the playing field, there’s no rebound. In other words, when we let go of those who have misbehaved or wronged us and allow spiritual Law to exact Its justice on the divine timeline; we risk no blow back.

This is, of course, ancient counsel, found throughout spiritual texts, like Psalms in the Hebrew Bible:

Psalm 37

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Rewritten in a modern, metaphysical vernacular, this verse reminds us to trust in spiritual Law; to move on and to keep doing Good in our own lives while leaving the balancing of the scales to the Law.

Don’t get upset about unethical people who act in questionable ways! They will soon fade like the grass and wither like old lettuce. Trust in the Law! Do Good; go about your business, stay true to your moral compass. Be mindful of the tenets of spiritual Law; It will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Law; trust in It, and It will ensure justice. The Law will back you up if you stay on the Good path and justice will rise as the Sun does each morning.

Wait patiently for the Law to work (It will); don’t get fussed up over those who vex you – and remember that the Universe has your back!

If we believe the spiritual counsel found in countless wisdom texts on abundance, healing and more; we must also be willing to accept guidance on things like how to deal with individuals who cause us great aggravation in life.

And just in case the thought of your enemies wilting like lettuce doesn’t seem to be quite enough, consider these additional biblical verses:

  • Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly. (Deuteronomy 32:35)
  • Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all, not even enough to blush. Therefore they will fall among the fallen. When I punish them, they will collapse, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:12)
  • But the LORD is with me like a fearsome warrior. Therefore, my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. Since they have not succeeded, they will be utterly put to shame, with an everlasting disgrace that will never be forgotten. (Jeremiah 20:11)
  • Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

We all have dealt with people who act in ways that bring out the worst in us. If we remember that the Universe keeps a perfect balance sheet, we can more quickly return to the things in life we enjoy, and let the Law work. It always does.

Wilted lettuce

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

A Warning for New Thought

Centers for Spiritual Living, Unity, prosperity, prosperity gospelA wave of dislike is unfolding in the larger population that New Thought leaders should sit up and pay close attention to today as it hits close to some foundational and historically popular teachings in the New Thought movement.

As the country moves more and more in a direction that is anathema to the preferences of the numeric majority (think popular vote) with every decision and victory that the 45th president achieves, more attention is being given to the price that he is NOT paying for those political moves, and the reasons.

One significant reason is that 81% of White Evangelicals voted for, and still support the president. This 8-minute video is worth watching in its entirety, but the specific point of concern for New Thought, I believe, is the danger – as we look to strategic planning and building for the future of our organizations – of what many are seeing as the tie between #45 and the White evangelical community: the gospel of prosperity.

Mentioned in the above linked video as “the pernicious influence of the prosperity gospel“, it is not viewed positively by the larger population and is increasingly being linked to the negativity of the current presidency.

We in New Thought would do well to sit up and pay attention to this. This is not the first time that the negative side to prosperity teachings was highlighted – in my writing or the larger media. Now is the time to look closely at WHAT we teach, and HOW we teach it and ensure that we are not, unintentionally, swept up into being branded along with this movement.

This will not be as simple as some may think. CSL and Unity would do well to totally revamp, if not step back from, the teachings around prosperity along with the elevation and adoration of toothy teachers from the 20th century who have hawked these teachings for decades. It’s time to embrace more fully the concepts of “a world that works for everyone” as a core tenet and downplay – starting TODAY – the emphasis on prosperity.

If we do not actively and intentionally separate ourselves from teaching prosperity as a staple or core offering, we risk great damage to the brand; damage that may result in the absolute “graying out” of the movement.

To be clear: I am NOT saying that we STOP teaching people how to think more prosperously; I am NOT saying that we STOP teaching people how to shift from a lack mindset to an abundant mindset. I AM saying that we need to be careful about publicizing the old school prosperity classes as a way to attract new members and should probably step back from the programming that pushes tithing on unexpected income.

Instead, why not focus programming on reaching out to feed the hungry, support Veterans with PTSD or raise consciousness and funds for a local animal rescue group using the principles and teachings of Holmes, et al? These efforts look a lot like “a world that works for everyone” – at least more so than a millionaire telling the group that they need to tithe to the millionaire when their own hard work (spiritual and/or physical) nets them some additional money or income.

There’s an old saying: ” if it looks like a duck, has webbed feet and QUACKS,…it’s a duck“.Centers for Spiritual Living, Unity, prosperity, prosperity gospel

While I am not suggesting that we are ducks of the brand identified negatively in the video I shared; a lot of our member organizations – to an outsider’s eye – have webbed feet and quack And this is dangerous to the organization as we look at the societal and demographic challenges facing all of organized religion.

We would be wise to understand the emerging political discourse, evaluate our perspective and practices; and think clearly and intentionally about how we want to present ourselves to the world. Then it’s time to make the right pivot for the times we live in today.

This will not be easy, but it really is simple.

A world that works for everyone is much larger than money or material wealth – and CSL/Unity leadership – ministers, practitioners and lay leaders – (should) know this more than anyone else.

The time is now to teach THIS Truth.

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path