05/12/2021

Stand in Approval

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Featuring: Rev. Richard Rogers
Week #2 of the 5-Week Series, "The Unlimited Me"

Click HERE to download this transcript.

OPENING/ANNOUNCEMENTS
Rev. Richard Rogers: I’m Richard Rogers, and I want to welcome you to Wednesday night at Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center! This is such a good … I’m doing a series based on “The Unlimited Me,” because I want to talk to you about your unlimited self, and some of the ramifications. If you really believe that you’re unlimited, I’m going to be focusing on some of the ramifications that sometimes we kind of ignore. We don’t always pay attention to. But tonight we are absolutely going to, really, just dive into the idea that you’re an unlimited expression of God, and that we can just move beyond all limits to really know the fullness of who we are.

So I’ve got a couple of announcements for you. First one is tomorrow night, Sue Frederick begins a 3-week class on “Using Intuition to Navigate Your Career, Relationship and Grief.” You know, Sue teaches so many classes for us here; she’s a fabulous teacher! You can sign up online at unityphx.org. It’s a great way to really deepen and expand your spiritual life.

Also, Rev. Richard Maraj is teaching “Discover the Power Within You” on Tuesday nights. You know, that is one of Unity’s core textbooks. It is such an inspiring piece! So join us on Tuesday night. And, again, you can sign up at unityphx.org.

And, finally, we go LIVE! Come on! Go LIVE June 6th on Sunday, June 9th on Wednesday night. It’s been 15 months; I want to see your little face, even if it’s behind a mask. I want to see your face, and I really want us to come together and feel the full power of God. You know, it’s been a long 15 months. Let’s come together; let’s celebrate! Let’s just celebrate who we are as children of God. So that begins in June; mark your calendar. Let’s do it!

Rusty’s doing the music for us tonight, and it’s going to be fabulous!

Alright! Let’s set the tone with a moment of prayer.

 

OPENING PRAYER
I want you to open your mind, your heart, your soul to the activity of God. That there is but one Presence and one Power. One Presence and one Power moving in and through each and every one of us. And each and every one of us is an expression of God. An expression of all that God is. So in the name and through the power of that Living Christ Spirit, we say thank you, God; thank you, God; thank you, God! And so it is. Amen.

 

SOLO
Guest artist Rusty Ferracane sings, “Amazing Things”

You will do amazing things
With the choice each new day brings
And with every step you take
Bless the progress that you make
The reason you live
Is found in every gift you give
Love your life, love your dreams
You will do amazing things

Amazing, amazing
You will do amazing things
Amazing, amazing
You will do amazing things

All the places you will go
And the people you will know
Don’t worry when or where or how
You don’t have to know right now
You’re on the right track
No need to look ahead or back
Just enjoy what this day brings
You will do amazing things

Amazing, amazing
You will do amazing things
Amazing, amazing
You will do amazing things

You don’t have to work it out
Just stay in the here and now
Let your mind rest for a little while
Sometimes deepest answers come
When you’re out there having fun
So close your eyes and
Take a breath and smile

Amazing, amazing
You will do amazing things
Amazing, amazing
You will do amazing things

 

MESSAGE
Rev. Richard Rogers: Okay, here we go! So I began, a couple of weeks ago, this series on “The Unlimited Me,” and I want to focus on how unlimited you are. Last week we focused on living in uncertainty. And it’s kind of an interesting idea – at least it was for me: this idea that I’m an unlimited spiritual being, but I live in a world of uncertainty. And that uncertainty really allows me to call forth a greater level of faith. And so we focused on that; you can go online and listen to last week’s service.

Now the question that I have for you is: Do you believe that God approves of you? Right? Do you believe that God approves of who you are? Do you think God approves of the choices? Do you think God approves of your lifestyle? Do you think that God approves of you?

You know, I think one of the greatest disservices that religion has done over the years is teaching that God doesn’t approve of people. And I can’t imagine anything sadder – anything harder, anything more, just, grief-stricken – than telling somebody that God doesn’t approve of them: doesn’t approve of who they are. Doesn’t approve of their choices. Doesn’t approve of their partner. Doesn’t approve of their life. Doesn’t approve …

I can’t imagine anyone having the gumption – the courage, the arrogance, if you will – to tell another child of God that God doesn’t approve of you. Like, I can’t imagine a worse thing to say! I can’t imagine a worse thing to hear! And tonight I want to focus on how much God approves of each and every one of us, and what it’s like for us – in our own life – to just really create a level of approval for who we are.

Reading from Romans 8:31: “What then shall I say of this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Like, I love that idea! Right? I want you to live your life from that mindset: that God is totally for you! God approves of you! God believes in you! God loves you! And God wants to give you the kingdom! God wants to bless you with every good thing. No matter who you are, no matter what choices you’ve made in the past, God loves you! God approves of you. Because God is unconditional love!

If you could get God to stop loving you, you would be a power greater than God. Right? If you could get God to stop being love for you, right? Then you’d actually be more powerful than God! God loves you! God loves you just the way you are! God thinks you’re adorable! [Laughs] God just wants to grab your little face, right? God thinks you’re adorable! God loves you! Right?

In John 8:7 … You know, I did this whole talk a few weeks ago. “Let him who is without sin cast or throw the first stone.” Like, this idea that God just absolutely stands in approval. That each and every one of us: we make mistakes! We fall short. We make choices and, later, we go, “What was I thinking?” Right? But the idea that God – as infinite goodness, infinite love, infinite presence, infinite power – absolutely just stands in complete approval of who you are.

John … From 1 John 4:18. We read, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears has not been perfected by love.”

What I want you to see, right? If there’s a place where you’re feeling unlovable … If there’s a place where you’re feeling unacceptable … If there’s a place in your life where you’re not feeling full and complete and lacking in nothing … What I want you to see is: that’s the place where you have not been perfected by love. That love wants to perfect you.

Now, what does that mean? Does love want to change you and get you into this perfect image? No! You were already created in the perfect image! You were created in the image and likeness of God! [Laughs] You are whole and complete and lacking in nothing! But what love does: love moves us out of the fear of our imperfections. Love moves us out of the fear that we’re unacceptable, and moves us into a state where we can actually experience the presence and power of God. Right?

Also from 1 John – 1 John 4:8: “He who does not love does not know God. For God is love.” So here we go, right? I want you to get excited tonight. I really do! [Laughs] I want you to get excited, because I want you to really begin to acknowledge all the times when you have felt unacceptable. All the times when you have not felt approved – when you have not given yourself that approval. I want you to be willing to open a space to really move into that place where you feel wounded, where you feel broken, where you feel “less than.” Because I want us …

[Laughs] See, here’s the deal, right? [Walks over to easel pad and draws a large circle with a smiley face in it] So here’s this infinite you. This is the infinite you. Right? This is all of you; this is the infinite you, right? What I want you to see is that all of us – or most of us – have this place. [Draws a small circle inside the large circle and writes “UN” and “NOT” inside it] And this is our unacceptable place. This is our “not” place, where I’m not good enough, not loved. Right? And you may feel like this is 90% of you, but each one of us has this place.

And I want us to heal that tonight! I want us to actually take that thing on, right? So that we actually get to heal that. Because I want you to be able to embrace all of who you are. And for most of us, the focus of where we put most of our attention is here. [Draws numerous arrows pointing toward the “NOT” circle] Like, we’re not paying attention to all this; we’re paying attention to all of the places where we feel “UN”: unloved, uncared for, unacceptable … all the places where we feel “NOT.”

[Laughs] And I want you to open, and I want you to really see how often you want somebody else to accept you because you haven’t yet fully accepted yourself. Can you think of someone in your life who hasn’t accepted you? It could be a friend, a parent, a family member, a colleague, somebody you work with … Can you think of somebody who you just feel like they just judge you over and over and over again? And what I want you to see tonight: I want you to really look at the thing that they’re judging about you. Have you accepted that in yourself? Do you approve of that aspect of you? Or do you want them to do more work – do you want them to accept you in a greater way than you’ve accepted yourself?

See, what I promise you – literally promise you – is that God loves and accepts you, just the way you are. I promise you that the Infinite loves and accepts you. Now, does that mean that – because God loves and accepts us – does it mean that mean we have to act a certain way? No! We’ve been given free will, right? And free will says that we get to make any choice. And we have to have free will – and we have to be able to make any choice – if we’re going to fully experience our unlimited self. And part of experiencing our unlimited self is making choices that don’t make sense … that don’t work. Right?

Now, does that mean if I make a choice that’s not good for me, right? If I drop a hammer on my toe … Now, how many of you would think that was a good choice? Right? Nobody! [Laughs] Nobody would think that was a good choice, right? But I need to know, and I need to understand, the law of gravity. Because if I don’t believe or understand the law of gravity, and I think, “Well, if I drop a rock on my foot, and it doesn’t hurt or it doesn’t land on my toe,” then I think, “well, I don’t really understand gravity. Maybe I can just go to the top of this building and walk out, because I don’t understand the law of gravity.” But over and over again, we make these choices and we need consequences, because the consequences reveal a better use of spiritual law. They reveal a better use of our spiritual power.

Isaac Newton had a third law. And his third law of physics says that, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Right? For every action, right? So if I drop a hammer, and it lands on my toe, there is an action, right? And if it lands on my toe, I promise you there will be a reaction! [Laughs] And the reaction is we go, “Why did I do that?!? Like, why would I make that choice?!?”

But I need to really see that I live in this infinite possibilities of who I am. And when I don’t accept myself, I live in denial. If I expect other people to accept me in a way that’s greater than I accept myself, I have missed the moment. I have missed the possibility. Right? So that my unlimited self requires love and acceptance. That I can approve of myself. That I can approve of who I am. I can approve of my choices. I can approve of my relationships. I can approve … Because the more I approve, the more I move into a space of greater and greater unconditional love. Right?

I remember in the 80s, or it was probably in the mid-90s. And I got a thing in the mail from a credit card company. And it said that I was “pre-approved.” And, you know, there’s something about when a complete stranger says that you are pre-approved! Right? So they wanted to send me this credit card; I was pre-approved, it said. Little application and information that they wanted from me. But it said that I was pre-approved. And not only was I pre-approved for one of their credit cards, but they had pre-approved me with a $50,000 limit.

Now … [Laughs] What the heck am I going to do with $50,000 of credit card debt. Like, that would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Right? $50,000 worth of credit card debt: I don’t want it. I don’t need it. Those aren’t the choices I make. And if those are the choices that you make, I say, “God bless you!” I accept that for you! I absolutely accept it. But it wasn’t me.

But I wanted to really take in that feeling of being “pre-approved.” Because I can think of so many times in my life where I’ve walked into situations, and I haven’t felt that level of approval. And I want to live from that experience: that feeling of walking into every aspect of my life – every thought, every pattern, every belief – that I am “pre-approved.” That I am pre-approved. That, because God approves of me, wherever I go, I am pre-approved. Whatever I desire in my life to create, to be, to have, I am pre-approved. That I have already got the stamp … Because I remember! [Laughs] Right? It already had the stamp on the application – the big golden stamp that said, “PRE-APPROVED.” And if it has the golden stamp for pre-approval, you know [laughs] that you are pre-approved!

Now, did I apply for that credit card? No! But did I take the spiritual message and the power of that affirmation in? Yes! I was pre-approved! And I want you to really open your mind, your heart, your soul tonight to what it feels like when you know that you are pre-approved. When you don’t have to seek the approval of others. When you can actually come from that deep well within that you are pre-approved.

So let’s look for a moment at what it costs us to seek the approval of others. Right? [Laughs] Let’s just tell yourself the truth for a minute. Whose approval are you still working for? You got a parent? You got a spouse? You got a kid? Right? Whose approval are you working for?

One of the things that’s interesting for me is that, as a parent, I was not expecting that my children would ever not approve of me. You know when they’re little, right? When they’re little, they just … they just approve: “Oh, Dad’s so funny! Dad does this and Dad does that,” and it’s just … And then they get in these teen years, and it’s like, “Dad has gone [simulates crash with downward swoop of his hand].” You know, everything that was so funny – everything that was so good – it just goes crashing. And it’s like, “Whoa; what’s going on here?” Right? And then somewhere around their mid-20s, what I noticed is: I noticed that I began to get their approval. Like, somewhere in their mid-20s, they had banged up against life enough to realize, “Oh! Maybe it’s not quite as simple as I thought it was!” And I began to notice that, you know, that they were giving Dad a little bit more space, and that I was moving back up in their eyes again. And I kind of liked it, right?

But I don’t want to live for other people’s approval. Now, when people offer me love, and when they offer me support, and when they offer me unconditional love, do I enjoy that? Yes! But I don’t want to live a life where I am externally focused. Now, if somebody that I trust and cares about wants to have a conversation when they’re concerned that I’m not making a good choice, then I’m all ears. I want to hear from those people, who are the intimate people in my life. Now, do I want everybody to have an opinion about my life? No! It’s none of their business! Right? But I want to live from my place of my own approval. From my deep, profound that I approve for me.

So when we seek the approval from others, here’s the seven things I think it costs us.

I believe that when we live seeking the approval of others, it tends to make us smaller. It tends to allow us to give up our own authenticity. So we’re so focused on other people – and what they want, what they expect, what they need from us – that we stop being us, and we start being who they want us to be. And I think that’s one of the greatest challenges about seeking the approval from others: is it causes a smallness in who we are. It causes us to stop being authentic.

Second point: I think when we’re really living based on seeking the approval of others, it causes us to become more and more perfectionist. Right? That we have to do everything perfect. And, unless it’s perfect, we’re afraid that it’s not enough. That we won’t get the approval of people who are important to us. We won’t get the approval of the people who are even aren’t important to us, but they’re judging us on a regular basis. And I want you to see: if you’re a perfectionist, I want you to really look at that tonight. And I want you to see how much of that is driven because you seek the approval of others. That, unless it’s perfect, it’s not good enough. And maybe it’s not good enough for you. But. more importantly, I believe that – for many of us – it’s because we’re living externally.

And three: I believe that the more we seek the approval of others, the more we begin to live externally. The more that our focus goes from within to outside. The more we stop paying attention to what’s going on within us – how we feel, what we want, what we think. We begin to move from an internal-based reality to an external-based reality. Now, what’s the problem with that? Well, we’re here to express God. And the way that we know God – the way that we can really tap into the presence of God – is within us. So when we’re living externally, we’re not going to find God out there. Because the only way that we can really connect with the presence and power of God is when we connect within. So when we’re living externally, it’s more and more difficult for us to be living the spiritual life.

Four: When we seek the approval of others – when we need the approval of others – we tend to be more fear-based. Because we’re always at odds; we’re always afraid that we’re not going to get it. So we tend to be more and more fear-based, because we’re living based on what other people think is good or other people think is right. What other people think is enough. Whatever it is, right? We become more and more fear-based.

Five – and this is one of the … We actually … Five is: When we’re living seeking the approval of others, we actually stop trusting ourselves. Because it really doesn’t matter what you want, what you need, what you think, what you feel. Because the only thing that matters when we’re living externally is what somebody else think, feels. What they want. So we actually stop trusting ourselves. We stop trusting our own inner voice. We stop trusting our inner guidance. We stop trusting ourselves, because all of our focus is external. So we don’t really even have to pay attention to what’s going on within us … because it doesn’t matter. Because we’re living our life with an external focus.

Six: We question ourselves and our decisions. One of the things that I believe is 100% true is that, when we’re not a good decision-maker – when we get afraid or nervous about decisions – it’s because we’re seeking the approval of others. Like, I believe that, in your heart of hearts – in your soul – you know what the highest and the best is for you. You know choice after choice after choice – from that inner place of guidance – you know how to make good choices for you. But when you’re living externally – when you’re living based on the approval of others – it becomes more and more difficult to make good decisions, because you’re trying to calculate what somebody else is going to think is a good decision for you.

And how do you do that? Like, how do you calculate somebody else’s opinion of you so that you can make a decision today based on how other people are going to react to it. I mean, that is crazy! That’s unreasonable! That’s unbelievably hard: to think that you can make a decision based on what other people are going to think is the best for you. So what happens for us, many times, when we’re externally focused, is that we just stop making decisions. Or we go to other people and think, “What do you think I should do?” And whatever they say is great. Or maybe we take a vote. We take a poll. Like, how many of my friends think I should do this? How many of my friends think I should do this? And whatever the majority is, that’s what I do. That’s a crazy way to live! Because you’re always externally focused. You’re always looking to somebody else to tell you how to live. Right?

And number seven – and this is the final one. Number seven is: That it actually denies our own creativity. See, I believe that God in you is creative expression. I believe that God in you is just this immense amount of creativity. But when you’re living externally, you’re not listening to the voice of God within you. You’re not listening to your own creativity. You’re not listening to the way the Universe wants to flow through you. You’re not listening to that dynamic activity of Spirit within you. So it really limits your creativity, because your creativity is now based on what other people think is good. You know, every great artist has learned to hear their own inner voice. They’ve learned to hear their own level of creativity. They know what their soul came to create in the world.

So tonight, would you be willing – in some really powerful ways – to move your focus off of the external and place it on the internal?

And here’s your homework. Right? [Moves to easel pad] I want you to look at everything in your life. I want you to look at everything in your life: every choice, everything. I want you to look at everything in your life. [Writes “Everything” on the easel pad] I want you to look at everything in your life, and I want you to see if you can offer your approval. [Writes a big “A” on the pad] I want you to see if you can give yourself an “A” – for approval – for every choice that you’ve ever made. For every thought. For every action. For every relationship. For every job. I want you to stand in approval for everything in your life.

And there’s … [Laugh] And I can hear you already! “Uh, no! I can’t do that.” Right? “I cannot stand there … like, there’s some years in my 20s where, no. We just kind of pushed that away.” Right? But what I want you to see is that you really only have two choices: you can either be in approval with every aspect of you – with every choice, with every thought – because you’re an infinite being. And you either get into approval of that, or the other option is: you move into forgiveness. [Writes an “F” on the pad]

That’s it! That’s your only two choices! You’re either going to stand in approval, or you’re going to forgive. But that’s all you get! As an infinite spiritual being, that’s all you will ever get! You will either get your approval, or you’ll get forgiveness. And when we offer ourselves forgiveness, then we get to make a new choice that we can actually improve upon today. We can actually accept. We can actually love. We can actually be proud of today.

But over and over again, when you look at your past: if there’s parts of your past that you’re still in resistance to … If there’s parts of your past that you’re still ashamed of … If there’s parts of your past that you just kind of pull away into an unconscious place, and you keep it in that dark little place within your soul … I want you to open the doors! I want you to open the windows! I want you to be able to look at everything in your life and stand in complete approval with everything.

And those things that you cannot approve of – the choices, the decisions, the moment when we just kind of cheesy or sleazy or broken or “less than” – the only other option is to forgive. Because the moment you forgive, you get to make a new choice. You get to create again.

One of my favorite lines of Paul’s is in Romans 7:15. It says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not always do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.” [Laughs] Right? And, as a spiritual being, we know this one! How many of you can think of something gin your life [laughs] where you know – maybe even while you were doing it – that it was a bad choice? That it wasn’t for your highest and your best? It was out of weakness; it was out of limitation. It was out of woundedness. Right? We made a choice.

And today I want you to stand in approval of every aspect. That you’re an unlimited spiritual being. And I want you to stand in approval of every aspect of your life. And those ones that you cannot stand in complete approval, I want you to forgive. Those are your only choices today: you either approve of it, or you forgive it. That’s it. You either approve of it, or you forgive it.

And, as you do that, you stop looking for other people to approve of you! You start giving yourself the approval that you seek. You stop living externally, and you begin to focus on the inner dynamic of God in you. You allow the fullness of God to be born in you this day. God in you is amazing. God in you is creativity and power and wisdom and love. And I want you to approve of that! And I want you to move beyond the shame of yesterday, and really get right with yourself.

I APPROVE OF ME. Will you say that with me? Even at home, I want you to say it with me! “I approve of me.” One more time: “I approve of me.” One more time: “I approve of me.” And I want you to stand in that! And if there’s anything tonight that you cannot approve of – any choices, any past, anything that you feel is unacceptable – then the only course of action is forgiveness. No matter what mistakes you’ve made, forgive, forgive, forgive until you can stand in complete acceptance of who you are.

Let’s take that into prayer.

 

MEDITATION
I want you to take a deep breath, and I want you to feel the presence of God that’s within us and all around us. And I want you to look back over the course of your entire life. And I want you to look at it with new eyes: eyes of approval, eyes of acceptance, eyes of unconditional love. That we can look at our life and ourselves in a brand new way. What would happen if you opened your heart all the way and accepted all that you are?

I accept. I accept myself. I accept my greatest moments and I also accept the times when I acted out of fear or loneliness or woundedness or brokenness or anger. I accept. I accept all of me, without resistance. Without judgement. I no longer condemn myself for the past. I accept who I am. Because the more that I accept me, the more I stand in my unlimited self. The more I accept all the small places of who I have been, the more I can accept all the great places. All my fearless places. All my grand places. All my godly places.

I want you to just take a deep breath right now and – in a moment of silence – I want you just to accept all of you.

SILENCE

Thank you, God, for all of me. That I am bigger than my past. I am greater than my choices. And I’m more profound than my thoughts. I am the Spirit of God manifesting. And those places where I’m still at odds – those places where I’m still in judgement and I’ve not yet accepted myself – today I forgive. I forgive myself for every limited choice. Every limited thought. Every time I acted out of my fear or my woundedness, I forgive. And I release it all. I release it all! I forgive; I forgive; I forgive. And I am forgiven. In the name and through the power of the Living Christ, we give thanks. And so it is. Amen.

 

COLLECTION/CLOSING
Alright; this is the time of giving of our gifts and tithes. And, again, I want to thank you each and every week for your generous support of our ministry, for the ways that you’re giving allows us to continue to minister to so many during this time. Thank you; thank you; thank you!

Our offering blessing is: “Divine love, through me, blesses and multiplies all that I have, all that I give, and all that I receive.” Let’s hold our gifts, whether they’re electronic or a check – hold them in our thoughts and prayers as we bless them together: “Divine love, through me, blesses and multiplies all that I give, all that I receive.” And so it is. Amen.

Alright, friends! This is going to be a good week! This is a very good week! This is a big spiritual project! You’re going to stand in full acceptance of all that you are. You’re going to open up your heart, your soul, your arms, your mind to stand in acceptance, and allow yourself to be blessed in a greater way. It’s going to be a fabulous week, alright?

I look forward to being with you next week. The choir’s going to sing us out; we’re going to affirm together:

The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
And the presence of God watches over me.
Wherever I am, God is.

God bless you and have a great week!

Unity of Phoenix Choir sings the “Peace Song”:
Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth;
the peace that was meant to be.

With God as Creator,
family all are we.
Let us walk with each other
in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me;
let this be the moment now.
With every step I take,
Let this be my joyous vow:

To take each moment
and live each moment
in peace eternally!

Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me!

Copyright 2021 Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center/Rev. Richard Rogers

Location and Contact Information

Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center

1500 E Greenway Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85022
Phone: (602) 978-3200

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