Posted in Authentic Freedom, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Right Relationship with Money

In this week’s Agape’ Newsletter – supplement for the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, October 19, 2014 – we are invited to examine our relationship with money.  Are we rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and still making room for God?  Find out more below: 

Scripture Reading:

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Mt 22: 15-21

Additional Readings:

 Is 45: 1, 4-6

Ps 96: 1, 3, 4-5, 7 -10

1 Thes 1: 1-5b


Paying Unto Caesar

This week’s gospel provides an important message for the modern world – the importance of having a “right relationship” with money. As was the case in Jesus’ time, we are human beings living in a material world. As such, it is important to tend to our material needs. In this gospel specifically, the material need being addressed is that of societal support which is provided for through taxation. Such is the case in our culture as well. We have a government structure whose job is to provide for our wellbeing as laid out in the Constitution. In exchange for this support, we pay taxes. As such, whenever we pay taxes, we are “rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” and this is our responsibility as a US Citizen in exchange for the measures provided for by our government.

What this gospel also reminds us is that we are more than just material beings. As such, our sole focus cannot be on the material. Instead, we are invited to give equal weight to the spiritual support that we need as well. Spiritual support is always provided for us, whether we are paying attention to it or not, but we actually FEEL that support when we “render undo God what is God’s.” In other words, when we set time aside to be PRESENT to our Divine Source of loving support and we do this through our spiritual practice. Prayer, meditation, creative activities, being in nature, etc. are all ways in which we “render unto God what is God’s.”

What proportion of your time are you giving to your material concerns?

What proportion of your time are you giving to your spiritual needs?

How might you bring these into a more equal relationship?


Spiritual Practices – Taking Inventory

This week’s spiritual practice will be very practical.   Please attend this week’s virtual church service for a more prayerful practice.

  1. Make a list of all the things you do in the day that are targeted toward meeting your material needs and how much time is dedicated to each of these things.
  2. Make another list of all the things you do in the day that are targeted toward your spiritual needs and how much time is dedicated to these activities.
  3. Compare the two. Where is there balance? Where is there a lack of balance?
  4. Write your thoughts and reflections on this.


Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, Temperance is the spiritual virtue that is attained when we find a way to balance our spiritual with our material needs. When we are firmly rooted in our spiritual nature, we are able to give to our spiritual needs and are able to do so without entering into a state of imbalance. We are able to enjoy the fruits of our labors while not distracted by temptations to waste or hoard while being able to share from our excess. Regarding “Caesar,” we feel no resentment about contributing financially to the programs that are there to support the common good.


How are you finding peace in a state of temperance – maintaining a balance between tending to your material as well as your spiritual needs and finding contentment in that?

Posted in Authentic Freedom, church, Spiritual Practices, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, Virtual Church

Agape’ Meditation Newsletter – Virtual Church supplement

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Second Sunday of Easter


Scripture Reading:

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Acts 2: 42-47


Additional Readings:

1 Pt 1: 3-9

Ps 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24

JN 20: 19-31


Social and Economic Justice

This week’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles demonstrates the way in which the first generation of Christians chose to respond to the Jesus message. In Jesus’ teachings on love and justice, the early Christians heard the call to provide for the needs of all in common and those with more freely shared what they had so that those with less could also thrive. In heeding Jesus’ call, the early Christians provided an example of social and economic justice that radically differed from the model that had been set forth by the society in which they had been raised where wealth was honored as a blessing in acknowledgement of a virtuous life and poverty as a punishment for sin. Instead, all people were viewed as children of God and equally sacred and that wealth had been given to some to share so that all may be provided for.

How does our Western culture reflect the preference of materialism over justice?

How are you living Jesus’ call to social and economic justice?



Spiritual Practice:

This week, you are invited to engage in the practice of Examen – a process through which we reflect on our behaviors in light of the scriptural message. Over the course of the next week, reflect on the following questions:

  1. Where are you tempted to buy into the Western cultural paradigm that says that happiness and fulfillment come through money, power, fame, wealth and the accumulation of things?
  2. Where do you find yourself acquiring more than you need to survive and thrive?
  3. Where do you find yourself wasting valuable resources or forgetting to recycle and reuse?
  4. Where do you entertain fears around money?
  5. Where are you tempted to worry about what others think because of the kind of house you live in, clothes you wear, job you have or car you drive?
  6. Where are you tempted to indulge in the Western paradigm by giving your time or energy to movies, tv shows, commercials, magazines, books, that promote lifestyles based in riches, excessive wealth, and power?
  7. Where are you tempted to buy the “Big name” and “more expensive” product when you can get the same or better for less?
  8. Where are you giving your time, talent, resources to support those who have less?
  9. Where are you giving your time, talent, resources to support programs that help those who have less?
  10. Where are you giving of your excess so that those who have less might have more?


Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom we talk about the fear “there is not enough” as the cause of materialism. When we live in the fear that there is not enough – money, love, time, fame, power, success, things, etc. the non-loving behavior that arises out of this fear is gluttony. When indulging in gluttony, we take more than what we need or we deprive ourselves of the things we need to survive. When through prayer and the reception of grace, we are healed of the fear that there is not enough, our gluttonous behaviors cease and we are able to experience a life of temperance. In this week’s reading, the early Christians were able to overcome the fear that there is not enough and lived temperance to the point of ensuring social and economic justice for all members of their community.

Where do you struggle with the fear, “there is not enough?”

How do you see this fear as driving behaviors of acquisition or deprivation?  

How can you invite God to heal you of this fear? 

How might your behaviors change if you were no longer afraid?



Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Enneagram, Lessons

Embracing Temperance

Today’s blog continues the discussion on “Holding the Tension,” specifically, how to create balance in our lives and not being driven by the sometimes chaotic drive of our emotions while still allowing ourselves to feel.

Hidden in the Cards

Yesterday unexpectedly became a LAURI DAY for me. I completed the tasks I had planned for the day by 10am and then I had nothing to do and no kids in the house to please.  So, I embraced this as a time to read, reflect, rest, ritualize.  One of the choices I made that fell into the ritualize and reflect quadrant was to pull a card from my inspirational card deck.  The card I pulled was TEMPERANCE.  Traditionally, we think of temperance from a material perspective – not overindulging, taking only what we need and nothing more, sharing with others.  In the past two years, I have had NO CHOICE but to live from a place of temperance materially.  So, the meaning of this card had to be mental, emotional or spiritual.  It turns out that for me, the invitation to embrace temperance covered all three.

Emotional Intelligence

A little background:  As a recovering perfectionist, a Type 1 on the Enneagram, emotional intelligence is something that I have had to learn.  When rooted in my compulsion (as most of us are until we begin the journey of self-awareness), I had to be perfect.  Perfect meant being Mary Poppins – not showing emotion, being impeccably dressed in Talbot’s conservativism, collars buttoned up tight, shoes laced up to the knees.  To the world, I had to be put together and unflappable.  The only threat to this unflappable Lauri was the on-going tide and swirling current of chaotic emotions that were tumbling around beneath my stoic exterior.  The only way I knew how to survive the chaos within was to IGNORE IT.  The problem with ignoring emotions is that our Inner Spirit, our Inner Truth needs to be experienced, needs to be made known and when we ignore who we really are, when we ignore our truth, we feel RESENTMENT and ANGER.  As such, these were the only two feelings I really knew and as a perfectionist, the WORST thing you can feel or be is angry.  Now throw some shame and guilt on top of that messy pile of emotions and all you get it YUK!

Learning by Feeling

In perfect universal timing, the following showed up in my email box this morning as a reminder of the journey toward emotional intelligence for the Perfectionist/Reformer/Type 1:

The overall keynote of Ones is objectivity.
Ones attempt to be objective, rational, and fair-minded and to be unmoved by
personal desires or private passions that would interfere with their obligation
to meet their own standards. Notice today when you are being overly objective.
(Understanding the Enneagram, 132)

As these words remind, part of my growth journey (and the journey for many) has been to let go of these standards of rigidity and embrace the swirling chaos of emotions that flows beneath the icy surface of my temperament.  Since the birth of my children, the journey toward emotional intelligence has been my focus (not necessarily by choice, mind you!) –  learning to FEEL, ACCEPT, BE OK with what I was feeling, when I was feeling it.  I had to learn to feel joy, happiness, love.  I also had to learn how to feel the pain of loss, disappointment, grief, betrayal.  And I had to learn the source of all the resentment that was locked up in my body and I had to be ok with anger. In contemporary terms, I had to embrace my inner Kat Von D.  Not a journey for the faint of heart…..but necessary and valuable.  I would say I’m maybe 75% along the path of emotional intelligence (if we can even measure this) and at this point, I can say it has been totally worth it.  I don’t think I’d be able to do the work I do or write what I write if I wasn’t comfortable with the sea of emotions that flow through my consciousness….and that I suspect flows through yours as well.

The Catch 22 and Temperance

But, there is a Catch 22 to this discovery and acceptance of our emotions.  That is the temptation to get swept up, carried away and controlled by our emotions.  When we are too attentive to our emotions, especially those that might be rooted in fear, it is difficult not to react to them.  For me, this reacting to my emotions presents itself through compulsive behaviors:  spending time on meaningless, non-productive activities rather than doing the tasks that really need my attention, spending too much time on emails, Facebook, chat sites, worrying and fretting about things over which I have no control, seeking for “surety and security” in an unsafe world.  This is where my self-appointed Board of Directors’ wisdom comes in handy:  HOLD THE TENSION.  (for more on that, see Monday’s blog!).  Instead of reacting to my fearful, anxiety-ridden, worrisome emotions, I am invited to SIT WITH THEM….FEEL THEM….ACCEPT THEM…EMBRACE THEM.  Instead of running to compulsive behaviors as a way to fix, eradicate or solve an emotion….I am asked to BE WITH the emotion and ALLOW IT.  This, I believe, is the definition of TEMPERANCE and a great reminder for me today as I face a weekend of non-activity.  There is nothing I have to do….fix….or heal.  I can simply be……happiness, joy, contentment, anxiety, worry, fear and all and everything will be ok.

How comfortable are you with your emotions?

Where do you find yourself tempted to react to your fear-based emotions?

How might you practice Temperance today?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries