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:

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Posted in Authentic Freedom, Discernment, Divine Revelation, Grace, Virtual Church, women

Honoring the Divine Mother – Virtual Church

In this week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service, we give honor to the Divine Mother.  Mary, set aside her own will in order to accept God’s call for her to be the Mother of Love in the world.  In doing so, Mary provides for us a model of faith, courage and spiritual obedience.  God’s call may not be easy, but the outcome is always far greater than what we could image for ourselves.

mary-mother-jesus

Attend this week’s service HERE. 

Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, Discernment, Divine Revelation, Faith, Jesus, Oneness with God, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Let it Be Done to Me According to Your Word

Perhaps the most challenging thing we will ever do in our lives is to be open and obedient to Divine guidance.  When we open ourselves to God’s direction in our lives, we are led to the path of our highest good and the outcome far exceeds anything we could ever have imagined for ourselves.  In order to do so, however, we first have to give up our pride – our desire for perceived security and perceived surety, and the need to be in control and in charge.  Surrendering our pride and accepting God’s will takes great courage and often requires great risk, but in the end, it is always worth it.  Just ask Mother Mary who agreed to birth God’s love into the world through her son Jesus.

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service for Sunday, December 21, 2014. Fourth Sunday of Advent.

 

Please note that beginning, January 1, 2015, the meditation newsletter, Virtual Church and Superhero Reports will be available by subscription only.  To continue to receive these life-giving resources, subscribe HERE for a very reasonable monthly fee (about the price of one large cappuccino a week).

subscribe botton

 

Scripture Reading:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Lk 1: 26-38

 

Additional Readings:

2 Sam 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 14A, 16

Ps 89: 2-5, 27-29

ROM 16: 25-27

 mary-mother-jesus

Honoring the Divine Mother

It is appropriate in this Sunday before we commemorate the birth of Jesus, to give honor to Mary, the woman who agreed to birth God’s love into the world through Christ. In honoring Mary, it is important to understand the great risk she took in accepting her call. Scholars surmise that Mary was somewhere between the ages of 13 and 16 when God’s herald, Gabriel appeared to her. In saying yes to God’s call, Mary placed herself in grave danger. Agreeing to become pregnant when she was unwed made her a “sinner” in the eyes of the Hebraic law. Also by law, her betrothed, Joseph, and her father Joachim, had the right to stone her to death for committing adultery. Through God’s intervention, neither her husband nor her father chose this path. Instead, Joseph agreed to take Mary into his home and fulfill their original betrothal contract by making her his wife.

Mary’s journey invites us all to take a look at the way in which we respond to God’s call. God’s call is rarely easy, and often comes with great risk – if nothing else than to risk the change that comes in obeying God’s will. Let Mary’s response be our prayer as we ponder the way in which God is calling us to birth God’s love into the world:

May it be done to me according to your word.

 

Spiritual Practices – Mantra Meditation

Mantra is a spiritual practice in which we repeat a word or a phrase over and over and over – either silently or aloud. In repeating the phrase and reflecting on its meaning, we are drawn into a deeper state of relaxation. Also in repeating the phrase, we are allowing its meaning to sink deeply into us where it can facilitate great healing and transformation. In the simple repetition and reflection on the phrase, we are transformed.

Set aside 15-30 minutes. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and in that silence, repeat the following phrase over and over in your mind (or say it aloud):

May it be done to me according to your word.

After the meditation period, record your thoughts and feelings in a notebook or journal.

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, pride is the compulsion we indulge when we have forgotten our Oneness with God in love. Pride keeps us from being open to God’s guidance and direction in our lives and makes us believe we are alone and that we have to do it on our own. When we set aside our pride and connect with God, we are once again able to receive God’s guidance and direction for our lives, along with the ability to surrender to this call and accept it through spiritual obedience. Humility is the virtue that arises when we are able to set aside our pride, our fears, our need to be in control and in charge. Exercising humility and spiritual obedience we find a place of contentment and ease in our lives as we allow God to lead while we obediently follow, trusting that while God’s ways may not be our own, the outcome is always far greater than what we could ever have imagined for ourselves.

Where are you aware of the compulsion of pride as active in your life – in your need to control, to have the answers, to know the answers, thinking you are alone and have to do it yourself?

How are you being invited to more fully surrender your life to God as Mother Mary so boldly did?

Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, Discernment, Oneness with God, Spiritual Practices, Surrender, Virtual Church

Humility and Spiritual Obedience

Please find below meditation supplement for the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church for this coming Sunday, September 14, 2014.  In this week’s issue, we explore the topics of humility and spiritual obedience.  God alone knows that path that is in our highest good.  Are we willing to do the hard work of surrendering our own will to that which is promised to be in our highest good?

 

Scripture Reading:

Brothers and sisters: 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 death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that 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:

Nm 21: 4b-9

Ps 78: 1-2, 34-38

Jn 3: 13-17

 

Humility and Obedience

In the spiritual world, humility and obedience go hand-in-hand. In the Christian tradition, Jesus provides the model for pure humility and true obedience that we are called to follow. Jesus surrendered his own will to Divine guidance, which meant following the course of his truth, even when it meant likely death. (It is not that God sent Jesus to his death, or that God desired that Jesus die for his truth. Instead, Jesus lived the truth that God revealed to him, which threatened the political and religious institutions of his time.) Even when faced with suffering and sure death, Jesus did not give into the temptations of his ego, instead, he turned to God in prayer, asked for guidance, pleaded for support, and then continued along his path. This is the process we are invited to follow as Christians – to turn to God for guidance, surrendering our own will, transcending the temptations of the ego, and follow God’s guidance, trusting it will lead us along the path of our highest good.

How are you taking time to listen and receive Divine guidance?

How are you following that guidance?

 chakraart

Spiritual Practices – Surrendering our Will to God

What we think we want or need is not always in our highest good. Only God knows our highest good. Embarking on the path of humility and obedience, we first need to understand this truth. One way to facilitate this knowing is through a mantra practice. Mantra is the practice of repeating the same word or phrase over and over (aloud or silently). In mantra practice, two things happen. 1) We are drawn into a relaxed and meditative state. 2) The intention of the words becomes embedded in our consciousness and beliefs. You are invited to engage in your own mantra practice, with one of the three following quotes from scripture:

 

Let it be done to me according to your word.

 

Thy will be done.

 

Into your hands I commend my spirit.

 

During your chosen prayer period, repeat your chosen phrase over and over in your mind, allowing it to draw you into a meditative and relaxed state. Return to this mantra frequently throughout the week as you move about your daily activities.

In a notebook or journal, record any thoughts, feelings, experiences while participating in this practice.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we acknowledge the crown chakra as our intimate connection with God. It is through the crown that we are able to surrender our own will to that of God’s. It is here that we cultivate humility and overcome the temptations of the ego. It is also through the crown chakra that we know our Oneness with God – not equal, but One as Paul describes in this week’s scripture. In remembering this Oneness with God, we feel content, peaceful, joyful, loving and fulfilled. When we have experiences of peace, joy and love, we are remembering our Oneness with God spontaneously.

 

Where are you remembering your Oneness with God?

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, creativity, Discernment, Divine Revelation, Freedom, Gifts of Contemplation, Inspiration, Midlife Journey, Spiritual Practices, Surrender, Truth

Our Heart’s Desire

Our Heart’s Desire

Whether we admit it or not, each of us are in search of our heart’s desire – the quest of the Soul to fulfill its mission and to be the person God/dess made us to be.  Being the person God/dess made us to be leads us to a life that is fulfilling, joy-filled, rooted in contentment and peace, compassion and love.  For many of us, the search for our heart’s desire is most acute during midlife, mostly because up until now, we have suppressed this desire.  If midlife arrives and we have not yet obtained our heart’s desire, the Soul shows up to stir things up, making our lives messy enough that we begin to question, search and explore the origin of our seemingly insatiable restlessness, impatience, frustration, resentment and even rage.

Finding the Answer

The answer to the question, “What is my heart’s desire?  What is the mission of my Soul,” is not to be found outside of us, though that is where, for many of us, the search begins.  Neither is the answer to this question discovered in or through our intellect.  Nay……the answer to our heart’s desire is safely protected in the hands of God (Goddess, Higher Self, Higher Power, Presence, Essence, Bliss….whatever name you use to identify that which is beyond).  Only the Divine has knowledge of our highest self, of the purpose for which we were placed upon this big ball of mud, and the life that will make us feel fulfilled, joyful and content and through which we are called to serve the betterment of the world.  Only God knows who and what God made us to be.  That is, however, until we ask.  But simply asking is not enough, for once we ask, we have to listen, truly listen, then we have to BELIEVE and RESPOND.

annunciation

Asking

Asking to know our heart’s desire, the mission of our soul is comprised of a simple formula:  SIT DOWN…..SHUT UP……LISTEN.  🙂  In other words, we find the answer to our heart’s desire through meditation, contemplation and prayer.  In order to hear the still, small, voice of God, we have to quiet our restless minds and our troubled hearts.  We need to be quiet and patiently wait for God to speak.  And when God speaks, we need to listen.

Listen

Listening for God’s voice involves the skills of discernment.  Discernment is the process through which we distinguish the voice of God from the voice of our ego/false self.  The voice of God is recognized in feelings of peaceful expansiveness.  The voice of the ego is cloaked in fear.  God speaks of love, contentment, fulfillment and joy (though our ego may respond in fear to God’s voice.).  The ego desires for us to remain in status quo – to remain content in the perceived surety of the known and familiar.  God calls us to grow and to change.

Believe

The greatest obstacle, once we have heard God’s voice, is doubt.  We wonder, “how can I know for certain that what I think I’m hearing is actually God or truth?”  The hard truth is that we don’t.  All we can do is try it on for size.  Believing God’s voice requires a leap of faith and what I have come to call, spiritual obedience.

Obey

As Mary said to the angel Gabriel, “Let it be done to me according to your word,”  this is the attitude we must embrace if we are to truly find our way to our heart’s desire and the fulfillment of Soul.  If we wish to know contentment, joy, love, compassion and freedom in our lives, we have to set aside the desires of the ego, and be open to the path of our highest good, which comes from God.  Spiritual obedience invites us to listen to the voice of God, trust it is God speaking and then act….sometimes with blind obedience.  Most often, we do not know the outcome of Divine directives, all we know is how we are being invited to act IN THE MOMENT.  We have to trust the direction given, and blindly adhere to this, having no attachment to the outcome, but knowing and trusting that it will lead us on the path of our highest good.  Mary, believed and trusted in the angel’s instructions and accepted the invitation of her Soul, knowing that it would be a controversial and difficult decision, but trusting it as the path of her highest good.  And thank God she did because otherwise we wouldn’t have Jesus – one of the greatest spiritual teachers to ever have walked this planet.  And speaking of spiritual obedience, Jesus was obedient, even to the point of death, so that we too would one day have the opportunity to know the truth that Jesus came to know and the truth that eventually got him killed.  Jesus refused to recant on his knowledge of his Oneness with God – the same state of Oneness he hoped we would one day also come to know.  We are invited, like Mary, to let our lives be done according to God’s word….not ours. And like Jesus, we are invited to strictly adhere to the truth that God would reveal to us, regardless of what the outside perceived authorities might want us to do.

No one said it was going to be easy

No, the path of our heart’s desire, the fulfillment of our Soul is not an easy path.  Accepting the path of the Soul sets us outside the fold and asks us to overcome not only our fears, but the very force of our Ego – that which we spent half a lifetime creating and clinging to.  If, however, we want to know peace, contentment, freedom, fulfillment and love within ourselves and if we want to help to serve the betterment of the world, our heart’s desire – the path of our Soul is the only choice.  “Let it be done to us according to God/dess’s word.”