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, Authentic Freedom Book, Being Human, Christ Consciousness, Freedom, Gifts of Contemplation, Grace, guilt, Jesus, Lessons, Oneness with God, sin, Spiritual Practices, teachers, Virtual Church

Show Me the Way to Go Home

Through the metaphorical Adam, the human conditional was born, providing for us the (false) perception of separation and the sensation of having fallen from Grace. In birthing the human condition, we now know fear and suffering in contrast to the love and peace we knew “at home.”  Jesus (among other prophets) discovered the remedy to the human condition and through his teaching and example, shows us the way to go home. 

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter for Sunday, November 23, 2014

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 But first:  a little humor!  🙂 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWQ-rnXi_n4

 

Scripture Reading:

Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

1 Cor 15: 20-26, 28

 

Additional Readings:

Ez 34: 11-12, 15-17

Psalm 23

Mt: 25: 31-46

 

Jesus Shows Us the Way

“Since death came through man,

The resurrection of the dead came also through man.”

When the metaphorical Adam chose power over obedience to God, the human condition was born. Instead of the peace, love and joy experienced in our original state of Oneness with God, humans now knew fear – fear that then led to a whole host of fears and their resulting compulsions. Inside of our beings, in this place of perceived separation from God, we felt as if we had fallen from Grace. As a loving parent, understanding our need to explore and to learn, God allowed us this choice, knowing that in this choice, we would suffer and experience the burden of guilt for turning away from God. God, however, did not leave us abandoned, neither did God leave us to our own devices, instead, God sent prophet after prophet after prophet to help remind us of our original nature and to help us find our way home. The greatest of these prophets (in the Christian tradition), was Jesus. Jesus, in his own longing and search for God, found the remedy to the suffering of the human condition (the remedy didn’t alleviate the suffering, but provided a means to transcend it), and generously shared what he learned with others. Thankfully, some of his disciples remembered bits and pieces of what Jesus taught and others wrote it down. Through scripture, specifically a prayerful reading and reflection on scripture, we find glimpses of what Jesus taught and sparks of what he remembered. What is even more remarkable is that like the gurus before him and since, Jesus’ very spirit is accessible as a teacher and a guide to those who seek out and cultivate a deeply intimate and personal relationship with Jesus as the Christ. In this way, Jesus, himself, becomes our teacher – helping us to see the deeper truths beyond the words of scripture, leading us to other resources including human teachers who can guide us. We even find that Jesus can come to us himself to teach and guide us.

The “sin” of Adam allowed us to experience the human condition. Jesus helps us to find our way home.

How have you cultivated a personal relationship with Jesus?

 

 

Spiritual Practices – Inviting Jesus to be our Teacher

jesus

 

Look at the created image of Jesus above. Let it sink into your consciousness.

Close your eyes.

Imagine Jesus, as you saw him in the picture above, standing before you.

Rest with that image of Jesus standing before you. Remain in this visualization for 15 – 20 minutes.

Know that as Jesus stands before you, he is gazing back at you with unconditional love and acceptance.

Allow yourself to receive that love.

Be attentive to any thoughts, feelings, emotions that may arise as you imagine Jesus standing before you.

Record any thoughts, feelings, insights received, etc. in your journal or notebook.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we acknowledge Jesus as our teacher and as the example of one who learned authentic freedom and taught it to others. Every story, parable, lesson, example that Jesus taught, can somehow be brought back to the core wound and the resulting fears explored through Authentic Freedom. Jesus, while experiencing the fullness of the human condition, found his way to freedom – a freedom, he discovered, was found only in God. This is the freedom we are called to discover, cultivate and embrace through Authentic Freedom. God is the remedy to the suffering of the human condition. Jesus showed/shows us the way.

 

What is the suffering you currently want to transcend or have healed?

 

How might Jesus invite you to turn toward God as a source of healing and support?

Authentic Freedom is available for purchase on Amazon.  Learn more HERE. 

 

Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, creativity, Jesus, Lessons, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Virtual Church Meditation Supplement – Passion Sunday

This Sunday, April 13 marks the beginning of Holy Week – the time set aside in the Church calendar to remember the events that led up to the death of Jesus.  I encourage you in the coming week, to set aside your own remembrance – to take extra time out for prayer, reading and reflection on scripture and contemplation.  It is in the silent places in our hearts that the true meaning of Jesus’ death is revealed.  As a way to facilitate this remembrance, I invite you to go to the USCCB website and explore the daily readings featured there. 

I also want to take this time to help you prepare for this Sunday’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service. In lieu of a traditional service, I will be providing an opportunity for you to attend your own pre-Easter retreat.  The retreat will include scripture and a unique meditation and reflection experience that I hope will help you to connect with the human Jesus – the flesh and blood man who allowed God to be his source of guidance and support and who, without compromise, adhered to the truth that God revealed to him.  This is the Jesus that struggled, who experienced fear, who sometimes doubted God’s direction, and who, through prayer, found the support he needed to accept the difficult direction of his life.  I think you will find in this Jesus a kindred spirit and powerful teacher – like us in our humanness with access to powerful tools for transcending the struggles of the human condition.

jesus   

Scripture Reading:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.           Phil 2: 6-11

 

 

Additional Readings:

MT 21: 1-11

IS 50: 4-7

Ps 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

MT 26: 14-27: 66

 

Humility and Spiritual Obedience

“Jesus, though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.”

These words from scripture, perhaps more than any, give us a glimpse into the focus and motivation of Jesus’ life and ministry. While he knew he was One with God, he did not consider himself as equal to God. Instead, Jesus continued to turn to God for guidance, direction and support. Instead of allowing his own desires to guide his life, he turned to God for direction and then. Then, without compromise, Jesus adhered to God’s direction, trusting that God knew what was in the highest good, even when the consequences of adhering to God’s truth seemed dire (like death on a cross). In this Jesus provides the perfect model of humility and spiritual obedience. Humility is acknowledging that God alone is the Source of our life and that God alone knows what is in our highest good. Spiritual Obedience is taking the time to listen and hear God’s truth for our lives and then adhering to this truth no matter what the consequences of that truth might be – even if the consequences would lead to our own death, trusting that even in our death, a higher good is being made manifest (we need only look to the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi for examples of this in our own lifetime).

 

Spiritual Practices:

With this week’s scripture, you are invited to participate in an exercise in Creative Expression. You will need two blank sheets of paper and crayons to complete this activity.

  1. Slowly and meditatively read the above scripture from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
  2. With crayons and paper, draw an outline of your human form, taking up as much of the paper as you are able.
  3. Inside the outlined form, write or draw all of the things that are obstacles to you taking time to listen, hear and adhere to God’s guidance and direction in your life. Fill the empty space with all the things that keep you from enjoying peace, contentment, joy and love.
  4. After you have filled the empty space, take time to reflect on all you have included there. Reflect on the obstacles you have placed between yourself and God. In your own words, or in the silence of your heart, invite God to help you be freed of these obstacles so that God can once again be the center of your life.
  5. On a second sheet of paper, or on the backside of the one you have already used, create an image of yourself being emptied of all these obstacles.
  6. Take time to reflect on the new image you have created. What does it feel like to be freed of these obstacles between yourself and God? Make a commitment to allowing this emptiness to remain so that you can instead be filled with God.

outline 

Authentic Freedom

Authentic Freedom reveals pride as the seventh deadly compulsion and the fear I am alone/have to do it alone, as the fear that causes this compulsion. It is this false perception of separation from God that is in truth, our CORE spiritual wound and the wound that causes all the fears that keep us believing that we are separate from God – the fears that prevent us from enjoying the peace, love, contentment, joy, fulfillment and connection that God intended for the human experience. Authentic Freedom reminds us that when we turn in humility toward God for guidance, direction and support, all of our needs are met in abundance and here we enjoy that peace, love and joy that God intended.

 

Where are you tempted to believe that you are separate from God?  

Where are you tempted to allow fear to direct your life instead of turning to God for guidance and direction?

Where have you forgotten that God alone can direct you to the path of your highest good?

 

 

Posted in church, Discernment, Freedom, Gifts of Contemplation, Jesus, Raised Catholic, Virtual Church

Recovering Catholics – Making Our Own Path

I find that in week four of the Virtual Church experiment, I have to say a few words about being Catholic (yes, I still call myself Catholic).  I share this for the sake of others like me who would like nothing more than to be a fully active member of the Catholic Church, serving, working and ministering under her roof.  Sadly, for obvious reasons, this is no longer possible for me, neither is it for many men and women I have come to love dearly.  And for those I don’t know, my heart goes out to you in compassion as you find yourself unable to set foot inside a Catholic Church (whatever the reason might be).

Lauripresiding

Broken Hearts and Broken Dreams

Today, my heart is breaking after a week of deep shadow work which presented itself in many ways, including several conversations about Catholicism, being raised Catholic and the path that led me to claim my own ordination and launch a virtual church. I discovered that I am not alone in having a deep love for the Catholic Church, in being formed as a minister within that Church, and being unable to minister there.  In those with whom these conversations arose, the same mistake was made.  We found God through contemplative prayer and this contemplation led us to our truth.  Then…..we tried to live that truth.  This proved to be the final nail in the coffin.  The Church can’t have people running around living their truth.  Where is the order?  There might be chaos. This could mean anarchy! Cats and Dogs raining.  People having sex in the street.  Shocking!  Sigh!  When we learn to use the brain God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth, often the truths God reveals to us step outside the rules of the institution (see this week’s meditation supplement for how Jesus got in trouble for using his brain!).  Then, we get in trouble (again, see this week’s readings, or attend this week’s virtual church service!)  This leads me to the question of vocations….because those with whom these conversations arose also have an authentic call to the priesthood…and like me, are unable to live it out within the embrace of the Catholic Church.

Vocations Crisis!!!????

The Church whines, moans and complains about a lack of vocations.  Lack of vocations my butt!!!!  The only thing that is lacking is an institution willing to open their hearts to God’s voice instead of the voice of the power they are deathly afraid to lose.  Oh my God…what would happen if priests were allowed to married? If women could be priests?  If gay men and women could openly live their orientation within the ordained priesthood instead of hiding it in the closet and watching it come out sideways!!!????  What you might have is a vibrant, thriving, dynamic, servant-leadership oriented Church with men and women serving beside each other as equals, working together to fulfill the mission of Christ.  Unfortunately, the Institution is too busy polishing their Italian leather shoes to see the droves of men and women standing at their gates waiting to serve God.  So….what are those authentically called to continue the mission of Christ in the world to do who don’t fit into the narrow single, “heterosexual” male, “celibate” definition of priesthood?    What are we to do?

Making our own path

We make our own path, (rather, we allow God to make one for us) that’s what we do.  For through our careful discernment we have learned that it is much easier to be disobedient to the Church than it is to disobey God.  Disobedience to the Church simply means being ostracized and deprived of the Eucharist.  Disobeying God leads to an inner agony, longing, anxiety and pain that one simply cannot describe.  But here’s the funny thing…..even in disobeying the Church so that we can be obedient to God there is an insatiable longing to be able to live God’s truth within the embrace of the Church.  How do we explain that?  It is simply grief, that we haven’t gotten over our Catholicism, as was once suggested to me?  I don’t think so!  What this says to me, is that this is indeed what God desires – that God desires for the Church to open their eyes, their minds and their hearts so that there can be room for all the ways in which we are ALL called to serve God through our own unique giftedness, our own unique passions and our own unique call – married, single, hetero, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, lesbian, male and female and everything in between.  God doesn’t discriminate in God’s choice of servants, why should the Church?

In the Meantime

So, in the meantime, we live within the tension.  Live within the tension of being obedient to God’s call and knowing and trusting that God’s call is working in the hearts and minds of the Institution and that someday, others like us, female, married, openly gay, may someday be welcome as ordained ministers within the Catholic Church….but probably not in our lifetimes. (this new pope, however, might surprise us all!!!)

Posted in Midlife Journey

What to Expect in Midlife and Menopause – Seeking Truth

 

The purpose of a midlife crisis, perimenopause and menopause (from a spiritual perspective) is to move us beyond childbearing to birthing ourselves…and this is as true for men as it is for women.  During midlife and menopause, we are invited to leave behind the life we have known to make room for the new life that is trying to be born through us.  In birthing our new selves, we are birthing our Soul – the unique way we are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose, connection and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we find fulfillment by contributing to the betterment of our world.  Last week, we talked about the midlife crisis or awakening that heralds the midlife journey (which includes menopause), the process of revisiting our past and the map of midlife.  On Monday we explored the shattering of illusions, and yesterday we confronted our fears.  Today we continue the process of exploring the many aspects of midlife by learning how to hear the voice of our truth over the voice of the outside perceived authorities to whom we previously gave our allegiance.  

midlife menopause truth
midlife-menopause-truth

What to expect in midlife and menopause – Obedience

As children, we were taught that obedience means doing what we are told.  Then we are taught about all those who we are expected to listen to:  our parents, teachers, priests and pastors, babysitters, elders, camp counselors, professors, coaches, and then we are expected as adults, to do what our bosses tell us what to do and eventually (if you are a woman), you are expected to be obedient to your husband (Sorry guys….I’m not sure this is ever taught from a gender-neutral position.  How many of you were taught to be obedient to your wives?  In defense of men, I suggest that men are often conditioned to believe it is their job to make their wives happy, often at the expense of their own truth.  This qualifies as another kind of vow of obedience.)  The formation of our youth often revolves around listening to the words of some outside perceived (and often self-appointed) authority, and when we dare to speak our truth or to question what we are being told to do, the most common response is condemnation, threats and punishment.

What to expect in midlife and menopause – Seeking the Voice of Truth

At midlife and during the perimenopause, menopause transition, something within us stirs and begins to shift around our relationship with outside perceived authority and we are compelled to begin a process of serious discernment – distinguishing the voice of our own truth from the competing voices of truth outside of us.  What we learn during midlife, (if we are paying attention and doing the work) is that the only authentic truth is that which comes from inside of us (which some might call God).  This inner truth, more than any outside perceived authority, knows what is in our highest good, knows our passion, knows our uniquely creative gifts, knows what gives us peace, joy, contentment, what will lead us to love and fulfillment.  During midlife, if we want to find peace and fulfillment in our life and the awakening of our Soul, we turn more and more to this voice of inner truth and we turn away from all the competing voices that try to keep us in status quo, thereby leading us astray.  Of course, listening to the voice of our own truth and unraveling from all the outside authorities to whom we had previously given our obedience is no easy task.  Instead, this shift from obedience to other vs. obedience to self causes division, separation and frequently causes the end of significant relationships.   If we do not enter boldly into this process of discernment and self-directed decision making, however, we will never know the freedom of living our Soul, of living our truth, of embracing our gifts and passions and serving the betterment of our world.

I have mentored hundreds of men and women in the birth of their Soul, most of whom travelled this journey through midlife.  If you are looking for similar support, I am available for one-on-one mentoring, in person, over the phone and via Skype.  To schedule an appointment, call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.

 

Posted in Discernment

Obedience to God, Not Man

Discernment is the spiritual process through which we determine what is “of God” and what is “of man” or “of the ego.”  As our spiritual journey unfolds, we are invited to seek what is of God and leave behind what is “of man.”


Those Naughty Apostles

In the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles of Christ are called before the Sanhedrin and admonished for preaching in Jesus’ name.  Their response?  “We must obey God, rather than men.”  (Acts 5: 27-33).  I’m thinking the Sanhedrin weren’t very happy with their response.  I’m also thinking the Catholic Church and other religious institutions might not be too happy with us if we offer this in response to their demands for “obedience.”  Having been raised Catholic, I can’t help but recall all the people in the history of the Church, and even in our modern-day who have taken these words to heart, and gotten in trouble for it:  Joan of Arc, Galileo, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, Edwina Gateley,  William M. Morris, Roy Bourgeois, just to name a few.  But you know what, sometimes being obedient to God appears “naughty” to those who hold the power and control and want to continue to wield it.

Naughty like the Apostles

If, however, we ever hope to become mature spiritually, this kind of naughtiness is not only invited, but necessary.  In order to fully embrace the person God has called us to be, we have to turn away from that which is “of man” in preference to that which is “of God.”  And sometimes, what is “of God” challenges that which is “of man.”  (ok, most of the time!)

But How Do we Know?

But the question is, how do we know what is “of God” and what is “of man” (or “of the ego”)?   The answer is DISCERNMENT.  It is through discernment that we come to understand what it is we are called to be obedient to.  So here is a quick summary of how we can begin to discern if something is of God or of man and where we are called to place our allegience:

Something that is of God will:

  • Bring us and lead us toward and support peace, harmony, contentment and joy
  • Be rooted in compassion and love
  • Be expansive, growth-filled, life-giving
  • Be empowering

The things “of man” (or of the ego) will:

  • Be Rooted in fear, power and control
  • Be Constricting
  • Will make us smaller, less-than, limited
  • Be life-sucking, draining,
  • Be based in separation, intolerance, prejudice
  • Be dis-empowering

The question is, where do you place your obedience?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Inspiration

Here I Am Lord

Last night in the gathering of the Authentic Freedom Contemplative Community, we reflected on the topic of “call.”  We explored how each and every one of us is uniquely called to reveal Divine love, mercy, compassion, joy, peace, etc. in the world.  We were then invited to write our own Psalm response to this call.  I thought I would share with you what showed up in the Psalm that I wrote:

 

R:  Here I am Lord, I come to do your will

I am imperfect Lord, filled with judgment and rage,

and yet you called me.

Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.

I am not eloquent of speech.

I am young and lacking in wisdom.

And still you called me.

Here I am Lord, I come to do your will

An insatiable passion for learning and a restless spirit you gave me.

Your law is written in my heart.

Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.

“Be strong, fear not,” are your words when I tremble in fear.

You remind me that I am precious in your eyes and that you love me.

Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.

Eyes and ears to see and hear the truth beyond the words.

Your word is more precious than the finest gold.

Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.

Grant me humility and compassion, mercy, peace and obedience

that I may know your perfect love and help others to know it too.

Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.

 

How is God calling you to reveal Divine love in the world?

What is your response?

 

Lauri Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com