Posted in Authentic Freedom, Empowerment

Unraveling from Outside Perceived Authority

When they (the temple police) had brought them, they had them stand before the (religious) council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this (Jesus’) name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”

Acts 5: 27-29

BOOM! In one sentence, the apostles make it clear who it is we are truly called to “obey.” We are not called to obey human authority – only God.  But here is where it gets dodgy. Whose God and whose interpretation of God are we to obey?  That answer is also clear, but we have to dig a little to find it.

Let’s go back to Jesus. In Jesus’ world, there were two authorities – the Romans who created and enforced the civil laws and the authorities in the temple who created and enforced the religious law.  There was also a third “authority” – that which arose out of Jesus’ cultural conditioning – things like prejudice against women, people of other beliefs, homosexuality, etc.   Jesus, however, obeyed none of these. As his ministry expanded (or rather, his understanding of his ministry) he obeyed them even less (see MT 15: 21-28 for an example of this). Even as a child, Jesus displayed a tendency toward obedience only to God:

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business? But they did not understand what he said to them.   Luke 2: 41-50

Paul spoke of Jesus’ obedience in this way:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

Phil 2: 5-8

Jesus obeyed God….period. And we are invited to do the same.  Yet we live in a culture that tells us otherwise.  Instead, we are taught from a very early age, all of the outside authorities we are meant to obey – our parents, our teachers, our peer group, our priest, our religion, our boss, the rules of the corporation for whom we work (written and unwritten), the laws of our community, state and nation, and the worst of all of them – advertising!  Many of those who are placed in positions of outside authority are good people with our best interests in mind.  Some are using their power to manipulate and control others for their own selfish gain. Some rules made by these outside authorities no longer make sense in an evolving world.  Some still make sense, but maybe no longer within the context in which they were formed.

But when we have been conditioned to look outside of ourselves for guidance and direction, how are we to know what is God speaking to us and what is the outside perceived authority? Again, Paul provides a clue:

Full content reserved for Plus, Premium and Premium-Plus Members. Click here to learn more on how you can become a member and enjoy the tools that have helped me in my own journey.  Find an example of what is available in the full content HERE.

Posted in Authentic Freedom Academy, church, Discernment, Empowerment, God, self-actualization, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices, Truth

Not Church

It seems the final piece of an ever-evolving puzzle has found its way into place. Starting Sunday, August 16, 2015, I will be adding a Sunday service to the offerings of Authentic Freedom Academy. This addition came about through no effort of my own. Instead, it literally fell into my lap. In truth, I had given up on the idea of a Sunday Service of sorts as I have tried this over and over and over again in many different forms and all had come to a screeching halt. In actuality, I had given up on the idea. So when the invitation came through the words of my yoga teacher/friend, I was shocked and surprised…..AND….it was the easiest yes I’ve ever said in my life….which is why I know the invitation, while offered through the person of my yoga teacher, actually came from God.

This is the piece of my Soul’s purpose that was missing (there’s one more piece that is missing…I’ll save that for another day). Funny thing is I didn’t even know it was missing. Sr. Shawn knew though when she offered me the following words when I met with her to discuss my call to priesthood, “Lauri, don’t neglect the part about priestly vocation that involves public worship.” “Yeah right,” I thought. “I won’t be doing that. Been there. Done that. Failed at that. No need to step into that hot mess again.” HMMMMM…..it seems Shawn knew something I did not know. Public….something or other…..is part of the puzzle….and it’s an important part.

StMarysinterior

BUT…..IT’S NOT CHURCH – at least not in the way that Church has been experienced for the majority of the past 2000 years. Church, as most Westerners have experienced it, has been about an outside perceived authority (usually a man) claiming to be earth’s representation of Christ, telling people they have been rejected by God and then telling them all the things they have to do to earn back God’s approval so that if they are lucky, they might be allowed into heaven after they die. If they fail to earn God’s approval (by not following the rules set forth by the Church), then they will be doomed to an eternity in hell.

Um….yeah…..Authentic Freedom Academy, including our Sunday Services is nothing like that. Instead, we leave authority where authority lies – in your own intimate connection with the Divine Source within. Our job then, is to give you tools for nurturing and cultivating that relationship with your own inner Source of truth, guidance, peace, compassion, forgiveness, etc. along with tools for distinguishing the voice of truth (aka God, the Heart) from the voice of the mind (aka ego, adversary, etc.). And then, we provide the support and encouragement you need to heed the voice of truth and then live out that truth for the sake of your own fulfillment and sense of purpose in the world…..ultimately in service to the betterment of the world.

sunlight-315917_1280

Authentic Freedom Academy, including our Sunday service is ultimately about empowerment – empowering you to be the fullest expression of your Fully Divine and Fully Human self that is possible. Our goal is to support you in the journey of your own self-actualization where you are free to experience a life of meaning and purpose that provides you witl the inner contentment that comes with a fulfilling life experience. We accomplish this through various means:

  • One-on-One mentoring (Spiritual Direction)
  • Hand-on-healing
  • Classes
  • Writing and Publishing

And now……

  • Sunday Service

Whereas the former offerings emphasize education and empowerment, the Sunday service will focus on nourishment. Nourishment through music, ancient wisdom writings (scripture), an inspirational lesson, chant, mantra, meditation and prayer…..all in the company of a loving, supportive community where all are welcome.

To learn more about our upcoming Sunday Services, click HERE.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Virtual Church

Servant Leadership – Virtual Church Service

The Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, August 31, 2014 is LIVE.  The theme this week is servant leadership…and what that REALLY looks like.  Servant leadership is NOT about establishing our positions of authority, power or control, neither is it about lauding, defending, or throwing around our positions of power.  Instead, servant leadership is about using our gifts to empower others to realize their own greatness.  Servant leadership is about bottom up leadership.  It is about humility.  It is about serving others.  It is about being the wings upon which others may learn how to fly.

On a personal note, this must be a really hot topic for me as evidenced in the dream I had last night.  In the dream, I was applying for a professional position within a local religious organization.  I was told that I had been rejected for the position because I was known to hang out with the “unsavory” people of Oshkosh – the poor, homeless, mentally ill, hippies, rejects, etc. etc. etc. etc.  In the dream, I completely freaked out….and in very colorful language told them what I thought about their decision.  What did they think Jesus did?  I asked.  In the dream, I did not win the argument.  Neither do I believe I will win it here….at least not with those attached to their positions of authority.  But that’s ok….because those are not the ones I am called to serve.  Instead, I am called to serve those who find themselves without a spiritual home.  At Authentic Freedom and the Superhero Academy, you are welcome here!

You can attend this week’s service HERE. 

Posted in End of the World Prophecies, Inspiration, Jesus, Lessons, Uncategorized, women, world changes

Authentic and Effective “Authority”

Today’s blog addresses the current stage of our human evolution which is quickly (and not so peacefully) replacing hierarchical, patriarchal authority with something of another sort all together.  As we witness the destruction of all that has been founded on the patriarchal/hierarchical/power-over model, we must ask the question, what will authority look like in the new world?  Well, it is probably already happening right underneath our noses. 

It’s a man’s world, white male privilege, women acting like patriarchal men, and the glass ceiling

Having worked in the patriarchy of all patriarchies and the hierarchy of all hierarchies (the Catholic Church) and having lived 10 years before that as a peon in corporate America, I have first-had knowledge and experience of what DOES NOT work in the form of leadership.  And it goes something like this:

“I’m the boss (most often male, or a woman acting like a man) and you will do what I tell you to do.  Period.  And don’t you dare to question or challenge me or there will be hell (sometimes literally) to pay!”

This is usually followed up with an unspoken, “Do as I say but not as I do” attitude.

Top-down leadership, driven by power and control, most often motivated through intimidation and fear, covered over with a lot of hypocrisy.  Then the “boss” runs off on his pleasure trip of China and the Far East while the peons are left behind making WAY  less than “the boss,” if they are getting paid at all (as often happens in the Church).

As anyone who is not in these positions of power and privilege can attest, this form of leadership DOES NOT WORK.  In short, this is NOT how you get happy, healthy employees, enthusiastically willing to share their gifts and talents in service to the corporate/Church mission.  Instead, you get disgruntled, unhappy, frustrated, anxiety ridden employees, just trying to make ends meet in a dog-eat-dog world, daydreaming about how they might stab you (the boss) in the back.

Times are a changin’

The good news is that this model of leadership is dying….and quickly.  While it may not look like it – as our government ( GUILTY) plunges into more and more corruption, corporations are quickly trying to destroy the world (Monsanto, Military contractors, the Koch brothers, Big Oil, AMA, FDA, APA, and all the other alphabet soup companies) and the Church chases after women religious instead of cleaning up their own act – it IS happening.  The more a new paradigm of authority peeks out its compassionate head, the more tightly those structures built on power and control cling to their power.  This situation is very much like what my mother used to say about cleaning the kitchen, “The kitchen will get dirtier first before it starts getting clean.”

AnimaAnimus

A new model of authority

The new model of authority, is really not so new.  In fact, I believe it is exactly the kind of authority modeled by Jesus.  Instead of a model based on power and control, top-down leadership, driven by intimidation and fear, what Jesus modeled was leadership based in SERVICE and SUPPORT.  Jesus led, not by telling people what to do.  Instead, he showed them through his own actions.  And then, he supported them in doing the same.  Jesus didn’t motivate people through fear.  Instead, he showed them unconditional love and compassion.  He helped them to love themselves in the same way and in doing so, helped them to uncover their unique giftedness, and then through his gentle encouragement and healing presence, helped them to heal the fears that were obstacles to fully utilizing those gifts.  Then, Jesus empowered them to use their gifts in service to the betterment of the world.  Instead of a hierarchical model of leadership, what Jesus modeled was one that doesn’t even have a name – one in which the leader stands beneath those he/she leads, upholding them in becoming a leader in their own right.  And guess what, in Jesus’ model of leadership, women are given the same service and support as men and are empowered to fulfill their own magnificence – while honoring their own way of being female – in other words, in Jesus’ model, women don’t have to become like hierarchical men in order to find success.  Oh yeah….and if we apply Jesus’ model of leadership to our current means of exchange, everyone is getting paid a just wage.

What model of authority would you like to see in the new world?

Posted in Superheroes, Truth

Superheroes and Our Relationship with Authority – July 21, 2014 Report

Superheroes and Our Relationship with Authority

Superheroes Report:  Monday, July 21, 2014

Kim-Possible-Episode-84--Chasing-Rufus

 

Those who possess the Superhero call (for more on the Superhero call, click HERE) are often accused of having trouble with authority.  I have found that this could not be farther from the truth. In our gathering of Superheroes this week, we discovered that Superheroes have no problem with people who are in positions of authority and that Superheroes will treat those in positions of authority with tremendous honor and respect and will even look to them for guidance and support and as an example of how one might want to live one’s life.  That is only true, however, under one very important condition – when the Superhero has identified the person in authority as one of honesty and integrity.

 

The reason that Superheroes are accused of having trouble with authority is that sadly, many in positions of authority do not meet these critical criteria and believe that honor and respect is due them simply by nature of their position. Unfortunately for those in positions of authority – if they are NOT a person of honesty and integrity, a Superhero will intuitively and immediately know this to be the case. One of the roles of a Superhero is to reveal and work for truth. The person in authority will know (mostly unconsciously) that they have been seen for who they really are. This triggers a series of reactions that usually lead to conflict (which I will speak about later in this post).

 

The Superhero’s “problem with authority,” ultimately points to one of their Superpowers, specifically, the ability to hear the truth beyond the words and see the truth beyond the illusion. As mentioned above, one of the critical tasks of today’s Superheroes is to reveal and work for truth.  In support of this task, Superheroes have been given the gift of an extremely powerful, TRUTH BAROMETER.  It is this truth barometer that allows them to detect the honesty and integrity of another or the lack thereof.  Once this barometer is read, the Superhero knows how to proceed…if, that is, they believe their truth barometer.  One of the primary learning tasks for a Superhero is to learn how to read their truth barometer (which requires discernment) and then, to BELIEVE IT!

 

Once the truth barometer is read and then believed, how is the Superhero to proceed?  Well, that depends on the situation.  If the person in authority is learned to be of integrity, obviously the Superhero can confidently enter into a harmonious working relationship with that person.  If the person in authority is not of integrity, then the Superhero has a decision to make.  One obvious decision is to rebel – but that never goes well (ask any Superhero how that has worked for them).  Another decision is to stay in the relationship – and that is a decision that will require a lot of work.  This is where discernment (distinguishing the voice of our inner truth vs. the voice of our ego) is critical.  So too is the awareness that as a Superhero, all we are, is a mirror.  As we stand in awareness of truth, the person who is not of truth standing before us feels their truth (rather, lack thereof) being reflected back to them along with the unconscious shame they carry for not being a person of truth.  Typically, their unconscious response is to project this shame and untruth back on us, thereby making us the enemy.  If we are not clear in our truth, our own unhealed fears will be triggered which typically results in an avalanche of conflict.  The remedy to this (if we decide to stay in the relationship – or if we have not choice in the matter), is instead of reacting in fear, to surround the other in LOVE.  As we hold the other person in love, they can’t help but be healed of the inner fears that cause them to be one lacking in integrity and we, along with them, are healed of our woundedness.  Of course, holding them in love might in turn piss them off….but it is ultimately for the purpose of LOVE that Superheroes are here in the first place.  So when all else fails…..SEND LOVE.

 

 

If you are in the Oshkosh area, please join us for our weekly Superhero gathering

 

Mondays 4:30 – 6:00 pm

(please note: starting August 11th, Superhero time will be moved to 6:30 – 8:30pm!)

To learn more, go HERE. 

 

 

 

 

Posted in church, Jesus, Raised Catholic, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

Emergent Church – What I’ve Seen and What I See Coming

Today’s blog continues the conversation about Emergent Church – inspired by Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence. Today, I’m moving beyond Tickle’s observations to add some of my own.  Having had my ministry formation in the Catholic Church, being employed in the Catholic Church for ten years and now having worked in secular ministry for another ten, I have seen some interesting things about what is happening and what seems to be coming in the emergence of a new way of being church that is trying to break forth into the world.

Wisdom (or Sophia, Mother Wisdom)_

Where is the authority?

As Phyllis Tickle frequently reminds in her book, every past major transition in Western Christianity has been defined by the question and settled in the answer, “where is the authority?” This transition is no different.  I have had a deep sense of this for a very long time and my suspicions were confirmed and words were given to what I felt emerging in the writings of Joachim de Fiore.  A twelfth-century theologian, Joachim predicted a time in the history of the Church when people would no longer look toward the Institution as an intermediary between themselves and God, but would instead, seek to know God directly and would bypass the Institution and go directly to God for guidance, direction, comfort, learning and support.  He called this time, “The Age of the Holy Spirit.”  I believe that this is EXACTLY what is happening today and will ultimately become the ground upon which the new way of being Church will take root and grow and the answer to the question of authority.  Authority – in the church that is trying to be born, will be GOD.  What is interesting about this is that this is the EXACT answer that distinguished the first generations of Christians from just another sect within Judaism and by default, created a new way of being church:

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! (Acts 5: 29)

The causes of this trajectory toward authority resting in God instead of Church are as follows:

Searching Stage of Spiritual Development

Collectively, we are in the midst of the searching stage of spiritual development (See Fowler).  We are asking questions.  We are seeking knowledge.  We want to understand the whys and the hows and if things don’t add up, we challenge it.  This is a critical and important stage of spiritual development and needs to be supported and encouraged if the Church ever hopes to have educated and empowered members.  The problem is that the Institutions, by and large, resist this stage of spiritual development, and some even condemn it.  “Sit down.  Shut up.  Don’t ask questions.  Do what you are told.”  But more and more Christians are growing up and want more, which leads me to my next point.

Longing for God

I believe this trajectory of authority is arising first, out of our longing for God.  Church, as we have known it, has done a great job of telling us about God from the perspective of (mostly) white men who have been placed in positions of authority.  While some of what has been said about God is helpful, the generation in which we now live longs for more.  This longing, I believe, has been planted within us by God and through this longing, we want to KNOW God – directly, personally, and intimately.  In the Church that is trying to be born, direct experience will not only be supported, it will be encouraged and will eventually become the norm.

Uppity Lay People

The trajectory of authority toward God over Church is arising, secondly, out of an educated laity.  The time of the clergy being the most educated in town is over.  In Western society, the level of education of the laity (the peeps in the pew) is rising and often far surpassing that of their pastor.  Additionally, lay people are seeking ministry and theological education and formation resulting in some laity that is at least as educated on matters of theology, Church practice and spirituality, as their pastors, if not more so.  Furthermore, we are living in an age of reason and in the information era.  Rational knowledge is king and it is readily available literally at our fingertips.  And educated, knowledge-driven laity will no longer be satisfied with “because that’s the way it has always been done,” or “because that is what is written in Canon Law.”  And first and foremost, for an educated laity, things need to make sense.  If a member of the community has a gluten intolerance, isn’t it better to bend the rules about how communion bread is supposed to be made according to Canon Law, than deny them the Eucharist?  And if abstaining from meat on Fridays is supposed to instill humility and keep us mindful of the people in the world who are hungry, then how is a $20.00 a pound perch better than hamburger at $4.00 a pound?

If authority rests is God, then is what need have we of Church?

This is the question I have been asking myself just about every day. And I have to give reader, John Backman credit for the answer that most resonates with me:

“The Church can serve well as an informer and guide to that conscience to which we are giving primacy.”

John, I think you hit the nail on the head.  If authority rests in God, then the Church has the important and very valuable and necessary task of providing us with the Spiritual Formation (which differs from religious formation) that gives us the tools through which we can hear and listen for God and then discern the voice of God from that of our ego.  Visually, I see the Church has a mother eagle, carrying us to the realization of our greatest potential.  Additionally, I see the Church as shepherd, providing the space and the structure through which we can come together as community to DO the work Jesus sent us to do – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, set captives free.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.

 

.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Discernment, Healing, Jesus, Virtual Church

Using the Brain God Gave Us

Here is this week’s spiritual practices supplement for this coming Sunday, March 30th, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. The invitation this week is to use the brain that God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth.  Instead of adhering to some outside, perceived authority, we are invited to turn within to the ultimate authority – God.  It is through attention to our spiritual practice that we can begin to hear the voice of God and distinguish the voice of God from the voice of our ego.  And when all else fails, turn to your spiritual director for help 😉  P.S.  If you find these resources meaningful, supportive and helpful, please consider making a one-time or schedule a monthly donation to Authentic Freedom Ministries.  (Donate button on right side-bar menu!)  THANK YOU!

 

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

jesus-heals-a-man-born-blind_1800x1200_72dpi_2

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, “ but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains

John 9: 1-41

 

Additional Readings:

1 sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a

Ps 23: 1-6

Eph 5: 8-14

 

Using the brain God gave us.

In this week’s gospel, we are invited to use the brain the God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth. One of the things that helps support us in our ability to reason, discern and exercise truth is to cultivate a regular spiritual practice. Through attention to the Divine within, we have an opportunity to come to know what truth feels like and we are given the strength and courage needed to live that truth.

How are you being invited to cultivate a regular spiritual practice in support of your own discernment?

 

Spiritual Practices:

With this week’s scripture, you are invited to use the spiritual practice of Imagination/contemplation. Follow the steps below:

 

  1. Slowly and meditatively read the gospel account of the story of the man born blind.
  2. As you are reading, choose a character that stands out to you – Jesus, the blind man, the blind man’s parents, the Pharisees, the blind man’s parents, the disciples, etc.
  3. Placing yourself in the story as the character you chose. Imagine in detail the setting. What are you wearing? What is the environment like in temple? What is the weather? How are you feeling? Who is there with you?
  4. Without censoring, allow the story to unfold in your imagination. Allow yourself to daydream the story in your mind, letting it flow without censoring, questioning, critique, simply allow the story to unfold in your mind. Be attentive to all the details. Be especially mindful of any thoughts, feelings or emotions that might surface.
  5. After the story has come to a natural conclusion in your mind, write it down in a notebook or journal, being attentive to any additional details which might reveal themselves.
  6. After you have written the story, go back and read what you wrote.
  7. Reflect on the following questions: a) How is the story that was revealed to you reflective of something going on in your own life? b) What might God be trying to reveal to you through the story that came forth through your imagination?

 

Authentic Freedom

From the perspective of Authentic Freedom, this week’s gospel reading confronts the fear I do not know (my truth, my path). The truth which we are invited to embrace is that God is the source of our truth and that we are able to come to know this truth through our connection with God.

How are you aware of the fear “I do not know,” as operating in your life?

Where are you tempted to give your power over to an outside perceived authority instead of taking time to turn to God for guidance toward your truth?

Where has your truth been in conflict with the authority structures in your life? How have you responded to this conflict?

 

Posted in Empowerment, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, Truth

Kicking Your Butt and Holding Your Hand

Back to the Mission Statement of Authentic Freedom Ministries:  Through compassionate listening and attentive presence, I partner with those longing to find meaning, purpose and connectedness in their lives. In the spiritual journey, the work is yours to do…..but you don’t have to do it alone.

We are a Slothful and Lazy People!

One of the greatest dangers in the ministerial and healing worlds is SLOTH – the refusal to use the gifts that God has given us to:

  • Reason
  • Discern
  • Exercise  TRUTH

Instead, we want a healer, teacher or minister to think for us, to tell us what to do, how to act and what to do with our lives.  This compulsion often has deadly consequences as we recall the sweatlodge incident at Angel Valley Retreat Center, hosted by James Arthur Ray or the mass suicide in 1978 at Jonestown, presided over by Reverend Jim Jones.  While these are extreme examples, they deftly illustrate how a charismatic “teacher” can create a culture of co-dependency among their followers, and how people are susceptible to this kind of influence.

To learn more about the spiritual compulsion of sloth, read Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy by Lauri Ann Lumby.

The Origins of Sloth

Sloth is the spiritual compulsion that comes out of the spiritual fear “I don’t know.”  Somewhere we were told and decided to believe that we do not know:

  • Our truth
  • What we want
  • What is best for us
  • Our path
  • Our purpose
  • Our gifts
  • Our needs
  • What we believe

Instead of listening for, hearing, believing and exercising the truth that naturally resides in our hearts, we choose an outside perceived authority to make decisions for us. The outside authority starts with our parents, moves out toward our ministers and church, teachers, doctors, political leaders, our boss, etc. etc. etc. It is quite natural for us to move in this direction because it is what our society tells us we should do.  “THEY” know more than we do.  “THEY” are smarter,  better equipped, have the bigger guns, went to the right schools, are the right gender, orientation, religion, etc. etc. etc. etc.  The benefit to  the outside perceived authority is they get rich, own all the stuff and have all the power.  For the one giving away their own inner authority the results (as we were reminded above) can be deadly – if not to our physical bodies…..at the very least to our Spirits.  There is a benefit to the one giving their power away, however, we never have to make a decision for ourselves and therefore, never have to take responsibility for our lives.  Anything good that happens is because we followed the right teacher and anything bad that happens is somebody else’s fault.  In the James Arthur Ray incident for example, he is the one who gets the blame for the death and injury of twenty-one people; not the people that refused to use the brain that God gave them to GET OUT of the sweatlodge when they were feeling sick.

To learn more about the spiritual compulsion of sloth, read Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy by Lauri Ann Lumby.

Honoring YOUR Truth

When we fall into the trap of sloth, we have forgotten that WE KNOW our truth…..and if we don’t, we at least have access to it.  Our purpose, our path, our needs, our gifts, our passions, our desires, our hopes, dreams, visions, what we need IN THIS MOMENT, all reside within us….if we take the time to listen and are open to hearing, seeing, believing and LIVING this truth.   Herein lies the problem and another example of SLOTH – we are too lazy to take the time to listen for the voice of truth that (often) is SCREAMING to be heard!  We come up with all kinds of excuses for not taking the time to listen:

  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t know how
  • I have too much to do
  • I don’t have a place to go to listen
  • I don’t have time

EXCUSES  EXCUSES  EXCUSES……we come up with a million reasons for not taking the time to reason, discern and exercise our truth.  But the number one reason we don’t is (drumroll please):

Because our truth will set us free….but first is will kick our butts!  

(Gloria Steinem)

…..and on some level, we know this.  Living in our truth requires us to step out of the fold, to stand up for ourselves, to speak our minds, to rock the boat, to upset the applecart, to go against the crowd.  When we listen to our truth we might find out:

  • I’m gay
  • Jesus isn’t my personal Lord and Savior
  • I have an addiction
  • My marriage is abusive and I need to leave
  • My wife is cheating on me
  • I hate my job and I need to find another one
  • I’m really an artist/writer/dancer/actor and I am called to explore these gifts
  • My child is using drugs
    To learn more about the spiritual compulsion of sloth, read Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joyby Lauri Ann Lumby.
    The Good News
    The good news is that you DO NOT have to take this journey of truth alone, AND you don’t have to give up your power to do so.  Here is where I come in.  As my mission statement says, “Through compassionate listening and attentive presence, I partner with.….  I don’t tell you what to do or how to do it.  Instead, I hold the space in which your truth will feel safe enough to peek out its head, and then I listen as your ego fights against this truth, and then I give you the tools that YOU DO ON YOUR OWN to move through the ego tantrums, fears, temptations that will show up and try to keep you from your truth, and then I will hold you accountable for your work (that’s the kicking your butt part!)  All of this is done with the spirit of loving EMPOWERMENT.  It is not my job to make more clients or students, but instead to EMPOWER you to be the magnificent teacher, leader, healer that you already are….because you do know your truth…..you just might need help seeing, embracing and living it.
    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries
    http://yourspiritualtruth.com
Posted in Inspiration, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

The Counter-cultural God-path

The God-path is not an easy one.  It sets one up for ridicule, judgement and condemnation.  Today’s blog explores the invitation to remember that choosing the God-path automatically sets you apart from the hoard.

 

 

The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright:

“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;

he sets himself against our doings,

reproaches us for transgressions of the law

and charges us with violations of our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God

and styles himself a child of the Lord.

To us he is the censure of our thoughts;

merely to see him is a hardship for us,

because his life is not like that of others and different are his ways.

He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.

He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father.”

Wisdom 2

 

Choosing the God-path

First off, I want to assure you that there is a vast ocean of difference between what I will refer to as “the God-path” and the “church” or “religion” path.  Just because one goes to church or professes a particular faith does not mean that one is on the path of authentic spiritual growth or enlightenment.  In fact, many attend church and make a profession of faith without ever knowing God.  The “God-path” that I am referring to here is the path that leads us toward the truth of God that lies within. (See yesterday’s blog).  The God-path is that which leads us toward our most authentic self as a person of compassion, peace and joy, naming and claiming our unique giftedness and freely and openly sharing those gifts in the world.  This is the path for the courageous, the disciplined and the diligent.  The God-path may be informed by our cultural and religious practices, but in truth transcends religion, culture, gender, etc.  The God-path is universal in its destination and is accomplished through an infinite number of pathways, as such, the God path is available to anyone and everyone, but in truth, chosen by few.  If the God-path is so great, why do few choose it?  One answer lies in the scripture passage from the book of Wisdom above.

For loving the God-path, you will be hated

Sad, but true.  Human beings detest those who stand apart, those who make their own path, those who stand in their truth.  Have you ever seen the Wendy’s commercial with the silent hoard blindly following eachother and jumping into a cavernous, bottomless pit?  (link to view commercial:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Qd5UEfs4W8  )This is sadly the choice made by many humans – the path of the blind followers.  The God-path is vastly different.  The God path is like the one man in the Wendy’s commercial, the  lone person who challenges the status quo and calls for a “Hot juicy burger”.  He breaks from the crowd and runs toward the destination of his truth.  This is the invitation on the God-path.  Unfortunately, you will not be liked for making this choice.  In the reading above, we see the consequences of choosing the God-path.  Others will resent you for it.  You will be thought of as weird, rebellious, maybe even crazy.  The God-path challenges the status-quo and shakes up the perceived security of the well-worn path.  The God-path frees you of the outside perceived authorities that are so honored on the man-made path and places you in the position of seeming “disobedient.”  In the human world, obedience to “the man” is placed in highest order.  On the God-path we are obedient only to God, which isn’t really obedience at all – but is the wisdom of knowing that God knows what is in our highest good and leads us toward the attainment of that highest good, if only we are open to seeing, believing and receiving. 

Surviving the God-path

The good news is that there is a survival kit of sorts that you can assemble to help you survive the God-path.  Here are a few things that you may need:

  • A sound and regular spiritual practice – meditation, prayer, contemplation, creative endeavors, mindful physical movement, the practice of mindfulness, present-moment awareness.
  • Supportive wisdom literature – scripture, poetry, sacred writings
  • A teacher/teachers who are encouraging, supportive, most importantly EMPOWERING.
  • Friends, acquaintances who have also chosen the God-path.  You do not need to walk this alone!

How have you been called to choose the God-path?

What have been some of the obstacles along the way?

Who have been the naysayers and how have you remained strong in the face of resistance, ridicule, etc.?

Who have been your sources of support along the God-path?

 

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com