On April 8, 2017, five candidates were ordained as *A Course in Miracles* Ministers of the Communnity Miracles Center. The ceremony was held at Nick’s Rockaway Beach Restaurant in Pacifica, California The following is a lightly edited transcription of the talks that the five new ministers gave after being ordained.
Rev. Lisbett Christensen,
CMC Minister #99
I just want to say to each and every one of you, I am grateful for this blessing today, for all the abundance that has come here and blessed me in order for me to be here, and everything that has come together. I am so very, very grateful to everyone – so very grateful.
When I first started thinking about what I was going to talk about here today ... it wasn’t that I didn’t know what to talk about. This has been the culmination, the logical culmination, of being involved with A Course in Miracles. This two year program is like the icing on the cake. It was something I had to do. So I stood and I thought, “Ok what am I going to talk about?” Because I could talk about anything that comes from A Course in Miracles. It came to me the other morning while I was standing at the kitchen window. I was going through one of those moments that even though I’ve been reading the Course for 30 years, when you live with someone as I do, you have those “domestic” moments. You just go, “Uuugh ...” and the ego is alive and well. It has its reasons for getting upset. So I was standing there in the kitchen and I thought to myself – these holy instants come faster now thank goodness – “Is this really worth giving up my peace over?” The answer was thankfully, “No. It’s not worth giving up my peace for.”
I got to thinking, this is a good way to break into what I’m going to talk about today. It picks up on a couple places in the Course. I’m going to use a couple of quotes. One of them comes from the very last section of the Text of A Course in Miracles which is “Choose Once Again.” It says, “Temptation has one lesson it would teach in all its forms wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this: ‘Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell and hold your brothers there.’ For He has come, and He is asking this.” (OrEd.Tx.31.83-85)
Later it says, “Learn then the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words: I am as God created me. His Son can suffer nothing. And I am His Son.” (OrEd.Tx.31.89-90) Over the years I’ve grown more and more into trusting this. At first, when you first start reading the Course, the words are just like words. There isn’t that depth, the level of really sinking in that comes with more years of practice – years of doing those lessons – after repeating them over and over. After years that depth is there every moment when you are tempted to go into fear mode, perceiving yourself as someone who can be attacked, and afraid, and fail, or whatever. There is that moment where you go, “No, I could choose peace instead,” or “If I attack anyone, I am attacking my own invulnerability.” All those things. So I have come to trust more and more, and I think we all will on our journeys. My trust isn’t totally there. However, it grows and grows every day. It comes more and more of the time.
What it really comes down to for me over the years, and especially lately, is I’ve come to realize A Course in Miracles is a course in identity. We learn all these nuances of what is in the Course, what miracles are, what it is to give and receive, and all these other different things. But it all really comes down to what I just read about temptation. Are you just this frail thing that will disappear, or are you the Son of God? Are you as God created you? They are not just words. Because every time you choose that holy instant, there is that flow that comes through you. More and more it becomes affirmed in you. You see it matching your own life.
So, a very important part of the Course jumped out at me. I find the words of the Course are very powerful if you use them with great intention. This particular passage for me is very powerful because when you say these things with great intention, there is something that happens. This one is from the “What am I?” section:
“I am God’s Son, complete and healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love. In me is His creation sanctified and guaranteed eternal life. In me is love perfected, fear impossible, and joy established without opposite. I am the holy home of God Himself. I am the Heaven where His Love resides. I am His holy sinlessness itself, for in my purity abides His own.
“Our use for words is almost over now. Yet in the final days of this one year we gave to God together, you and I, we found a single purpose that we shared. And thus you joined with me. So what I am are you as well. The truth of what we are is not for words to speak of nor describe. Yet we can realize our function here, and words can speak of this and teach it, too, if we exemplify the words in us.
“We are the bringers of salvation. We accept our part as saviors of the world, which through our joint forgiveness is redeemed. And this, our gift, is therefore given us. We look on everyone as brothers and perceive all things as kindly and as good. We do not seek a function that is past the gates of Heaven. Knowledge will return when we have done our part. We are concerned only with giving welcome to the truth.” (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp351.1-3)
Then at the end it says, “We are the holy messengers of God who speak for Him, and carrying His Word to everyone whom He has sent to us, we learn that it is written on our hearts. And thus our minds are changed about the aim for which we came and which we seek to serve. We bring glad tidings to the Son of God, who thought he suffered. Now is he redeemed. And as he sees the gate of Heaven stand open before him, he will enter in and disappear into the Heart of God.” (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp351.1-3)
And I will close with, “This holy instant would I give to You. ...” In the name of all of us here and myself. “... Be You in charge. For I would follow You, Certain that Your direction (and only Yours) gives me peace.” (OrEd.WkBk.361) Thank you.
Rev. Brenda Culbertson
CMC Minister #100
I just want to say I am so happy and so thankful to be here. I am so happy and thankful that all of you are here with me. You are absolutely my family and I love each and every one of you. So my talk is about focusing on the solution rather than the problem.
Recently I was entertaining myself with social media. It is a little bit of an addiction for me. I was scrolling by those pictures of puppies, “Yeah! Curie’s pretty cute!” (Curie is Rev. Kelly Hallock’s dog) and of food, “It looks pretty yummy!” and lots of things about Trump. Not going to touch that one with a ten-foot pole! (laughter)
I came across an interesting post from my friend named Lois. The post mentioned that she had just bought a Berkey water filter to remove the fluoride from her water. In her post she said, “This way I can drink clean water without having to buy it in bottles. You can get a flouride-removing filter too.” Those are not easy to come by. I know because I’ve researched that.
I responded to the post saying, “Berkey filters are the best! I have two in my house. One in my kitchen and one in my bedroom right by my bed.” Then I thought that she didn’t tell why it was so important to get the fluoride out of the water. So in my “By-the-way, I’m going to point out ...” I go into my YouTube history, find the two best YouTube videos and attach them on my response to Lois’ post. They are titled The International Conspiracy Against Enlightenment - Do Not Consume Flouride Ever and The Great Culling - Our Water.
I commented, “THIS IS ABSOLUTELY CRIMINAL ...” in capital letters “... that they are putting this in our water.” All the while thinking I am doing a huge service to Lois and people that read her page by pointing this information out. Later I got that little notification window at the bottom of my screen saying someone else had commented on Lois’ post. I went back to her post wondering if anyone else was pointing out why fluoride was so very horrible. I noticed that she had removed all of my comments about fluoride leaving only the comment that I had two filters. I thought, “What was she thinking? This is important information! People need to know this.”
I took some time to reflect on it. What did I learn from that experience? My friend Lois is an energy worker. She’s a psychic intuitive. She’s able to consistently hold in mind how the Law of Attraction works. By focusing our thoughts on the problem, it generates negative feelings and frequencies of anger and fear which bring us more and more anger and fear experiences, which in turn generate anger and fear to us. So it is important to hold thoughts that generate positive emotions associated with finding an excellent solution to the problem and focus on that.
A Course in Miracles, The Way of Mastery, and A Course of Love are all tools helping us to remember and exercise our connection to God, Source, Energy. We must remember that our thoughts, feelings, and emotions have literally the power of creation in them. We have the power to create the reality we see and experience, with our thoughts. It’s just a matter of if we do it unconsciously or choose to do it consciously. That is why A Course in Miracles is a course in mind training. We literally have the ability to manifest a world of peace, love, joy, happiness, prosperity, and freedom for all – if we so choose – using just the power of our mind.
In this current life we will perform miracles greater than we did in our past lives that each and every one of us shared as Jesus. Yes, I said it. Each and every one of you was Jesus. You have that life experience walking the world as Jesus. You were Jesus in a past life. I will say it. This time, we will not just heal the sick, raise the dead, and walk on water. This time we will transform the world of seeming chaos into our idea of heaven on earth by using the creative power of our mind and focusing on new solutions instead of old problems.
It is so important to keep holding our energy high and keep the vision of what you want to create in your new heaven on earth timeline as you step into your God power and not get swept up into the worries of others that may pull you into lower darker and denser energies. Keep your energy signature high. Keep your vision of what you want clear. Know where your soul resonates and where you want to be. Now is the time, right now!
Rev. Brooke Vernon Grant
CMC Minister #101
You all know he’s a great teacher (said as Rev. Brooke pointed towards Rev. Tony Ponticello). I’m sorry Rev. Paul Marinkovich isn’t here. I had him for part one of this course. Thanks to Rev. Heather Holmes also who is not here. She was a significant part of my learning this Course. Working on thinking through what to talk about tonight, and I know we only have 50-70 minutes, and that’s not much. (laughter) Just kidding. I’m a retired teacher. I really miss teaching and if I go on for more than an hour, stop me! (laughter)
Most of you probably know the Course pretty well so I can’t teach you anything, but I wanted to go over one of my experiences. It got reinforced with this new edition of A Course in Miracles talking about there is revelation happening after miracles. Miracles lead to revelations. Let me tell ya. I’ve been working with the Course – this is my 38th year – and this program has been really significant. These last two years have been so much more powerful – being able to talk with my classmates and the teachers.
Last February, over a year ago, we were doing Lesson 41 again “God goes with me wherever I go.” Now in my 38 years, I’ve probably looked at it again four or five times but it was like I was reading it for the first time. There’s a particular phrase in it, maybe you caught it. It’s “God goes with me wherever I go” and there’s this little phrase “It is quite possible to reach God” and another little phrase, “This exercise can bring very startling results.” (OrEd.WkBk.41.7)
I never had a very startling result with the Course in my 36 years of practice. I don’t know how many of you – how many of you want to show your hands – have had a startling experience with any of those lessons? (A few hands go up.) Ok, there are some. That’s great! I just want to share one. When I read that in Lesson 41, I decided I’m going to meditate until I have a startling experience. (laughter) The lesson says three to five minutes, but I just threw out that advice. I was going to ignore the time limits. I was just going to go, start, and have an experience. But the scientist part of my head said, “I better set a timer just in case. Set a kitchen timer.” I think it ran for twenty-four hours. (laughter) I’m not sure, but I set it before I started the meditation.
I’m usually pretty good about guesstimating time. I thought I was into this, I’m going to say fifteen minutes. My mind would wander on stuff and then I’d keep coming back, “God goes with me wherever I go.” I am going to guess that after fifteen minutes, it was almost like I got struck with a gentle lightning. I had my eyes closed. The sky opened up above the house I was in, and a friend of mine who had died three months ago came down through the clouds like you see in pictures of Jesus coming through the clouds. I’d been saying “God goes with me wherever I go.” She said to me, like mental telepathy, “We are all God.” Then is was just – whatever power, whatever electricity – something just increased going through me. It was like I was paralyzed. I wasn’t hurt by it. It was a gentle, loving paralysis. I don’t know if she said anything else to me or not. That is all I remember.
When I came out of that state, and I looked at the clock, 45 minutes had passed. I don’t know what happened in all those minutes. It was a pretty powerful experience. Now, I feel a little bit guilty because I was afraid to do it again. I was afraid I would fail. You know the lesson says we can always be successful.
I have tried it twice since, and I got a lesser version. I didn’t have anyone showing up and coming through the clouds or something like that. I did have some of an electrical type of state. There are four or five lessons like that. That’s the first one for the deeper meditation. It’s really powerful.
I wanted to talk about something else that I do. I do this teaching. Some of you might know this. I think this is real important. If you don’t know this ... maybe you do. Teach everyone. It’s Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). How many know this? Can I see hands? Ok, then you probably know this is like right out of A Course in Miracles. It’s the same set up.
(Rev. Brooke holds up a sign he has prepared. See page 8.) Some Activating Event “A” happens. Usually you think of something bad. This event might be someone breaks something valuable of yours, or you break up from a relationship. They will skip over their Beliefs “B,” and jump down to the Consequences “C.” They are upset, frustrated, irritated, pissed off, or something. They blame; they go back here. They are holding a grievance about someone back here at “A.”
All the things that we have happen, so many of them are lessons. I’d encourage you to work with REBT. Go and spread it around. Go talk with people about it. I talk with people in subway stations; I stop people on the street. I wander around always thinking this is part of my ministry, teaching everybody we can change all the thoughts. But people skip over their thoughts. This step “B” is their thoughts, and beliefs about “A.” That’s what upsets people. That’s the same thing the Course says. It says that you are only affected by your thoughts and you can elect to change all thoughts that hurt down here at “D.” Dispute your irrational beliefs. Just jump down here. You think better thoughts. You have a new effect down here at “E.” It’s part of the lesson. You can take out a lot of thoughts, take out a lot more grievances. Thank you.
Rev. Janelle Karas
CMC Minister #102
I am so grateful to be here. Not only was it a journey to get here today, but it has been a lifetime journey to get here. That’s what I wanted to share today, a little about myself as Rev. Roxie (Rev. Roxie Benson, CMC minister #55 had spoken earlier in the ceremony) was saying, our story, or in this case my story, and how I’ve gotten here today.
I, like you, have been a seeker of truth from a very young age. I remember looking out at the world and wondering “How did I get here? This place is strange.” I really couldn’t relate to it. I also at a very young age had a voice, that I now know was the Holy Spirit, telling me I was going to change the world. At a very young age that seemed overwhelming, thinking how am I, this one small person, going to change the world.
Through my life I have learned. I have grown. I have definitely experienced a lot of trials and tribulations. I left my house at a very young age but again, I was always a seeker of truth. And Spirit, even though at that time I wasn’t really sure what that was, I felt something deep inside of me that always moved me. It always reminded me that no matter what I was going through there was something more, there was something different and there was something inside of me that continued to push me onward in my journey, in my journey of seeking the truth.
You know I tried on different religions, but nothing ever really seemed to hit home. There were some things I believed and others that I seriously doubted. Many years later I met a gentleman named Warren Wertheimer. He was going to be here with us today, but unfortunately he was unable to attend. I know he is here in spirit. He was the one who introduced me to A Course in Miracles. He instantly became a friend, one of those soulmates, one of those people you meet that you know is supposed to be in your life for a reason. He mentored me through the teachings of A Course in Miracles. He ended up giving me the book, and I tried to read that thing but it was very confusing at the time. It was like the Bible. I remember picking up the Bible at a young age and thinking, “I don’t understand any of this.”
Several years later I moved to Denver and I got introduced to Early Purdy who I am sure many of you know. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Walking in, on that Sunday afternoon, having another trial and tribulation in my life as it went, and sitting in there and feeling like I had found my home. I finally felt like I was hearing the truth. I was listening to the truth. What I learned was about my innocence and what God’s love is, not what the world’s description of love is. And forgiveness, again, not the world’s description of forgiveness, but what true forgiveness is and being able to look at my brothers and see the innocence in them and see that innocence reflecting that back to me.
So I was thinking of this speech that we have to give. One of the recommendations given was maybe one of the lessons. One of the lessons that really hit home for me was, “I am sustained by the Love of God.” (OrEd.WkBk.50) Again leaving home at a young age and having to take care of myself at a young age, I just got in this mindset that I was alone. I had to do it by myself. The only person I could rely on was me. When I learned this lesson I must have said it a hundred times a day, but in it I learned that God is always with me. It doesn’t matter what I do. If I feel I like I have stumbled, or failed, or whatever, I have never left God’s embrace. So that helped me in so many ways to just really clear up a lot of stuff in my life.
I got to this point where I truly wanted to minister to others like my friend Warren had ministered to me. So I was moved to become a minister of A Course in Miracles. I didn’t know what that looked like or how to do that. Honestly, from thinking that to maybe two days later, there was an email in my inbox from Community Miracles Center talking about this ministerial program. I was instantly on the phone and within a week started this program. (Woohoo!)
It has been the most amazing thing for me. My learning, my healing, my growth, continues. I, from the bottom of the heart, want to thank you Rev. Tony Ponticello (the Executive Minister of the CMC) and Rev. Kelly Hallock (the Assistant Minister of the CMC), everybody that supports the CMC to bring this to others. I feel so blessed through my journey, through all my trials and tribulations, that I am here today. So, thank you! God bless!
Rev. Lucas Sanchez
CMC Minister #103
Thank you all for coming here and supporting us. Thank you and congratulations to Lisbett, Brenda, Brooke, and Janelle. We did it! (cheering!)
It seems for me it’s been a shorter journey than all of you. I’m pretty much a newbie to A Course in Miracles. I’ve known about A Course in Miracles through other spiritual teachers from the global, metaphysical community. They talk about ACIM all the time, and I’d say, “Oh ok.” In the back of my mind, “All right. Sounds good. I like it.” I like what other people say about the Course.
Yet I never felt really compelled until about two years ago. I was like “Ok. Let me check into this.” I didn’t come into this thinking I wanted to be a minister. It was more like, “Ahh, Let’s try this. Why not?” I’ve tried other things and I was looking for another community. Then right there on Market Street, though no longer on Market Street**, Community Miracles Center was so close to me. I was fortunate enough to have CMC right by me in that area – so thank you.
This is interesting to see. This speech is kind of like an acceptance speech in a way. “Thank you all for helping me and supporting me in my journey.” (laughter)
It’s been hard. I am dyslexic and so reading a book like this – reading any book – is very challenging. And understanding it! I still honestly have a tough time understanding, but I feel like a little bit is seeping in from time to time. More than anything else, not just reading the Text and practicing the Workbook, but being a part of a community ... I feel like I see and experience the Course out in the world. “Oh – that’s the Course’s teachings right there. Right there!”
For example, I just recently got back from vacation. I went to Cuba with my family. (cheering) My family is here. My mom and dad are here. Thank you for coming to be here and supporting me. (applause) I was in the Fort Lauderdale airport waiting for my flight. I saw a book from Paul Young. Some of you may know Paul Young who wrote The Shack that also recently came to be a movie. I have yet to see The Shack but a new book of his just recently came out, Lies We Believe About God. It caught my eye at the airport. It has a bold, black and white cover. It really got me thinking about the lies that I’ve believed about God, and in turn, the lies I’ve believed about myself. Who I am? Lies about what my identity is.
This has been my continuing journey of seeking the truth as I am sure you all have, all of you here are seeking that. In turn, what could be the opposite of truth? one could say that it was a lie or an untruth. I ran into this one quote in the Course which was quite interesting about the story of origin, about Adam and Eve. It says “When the ‘lies of the serpent’ were introduced, they were specifically called ‘lies’ because they are not true. When man listened, all he heard was untruth.” (OrEd.Tx.2.13) Then it goes on to say “Man’s Spiritual eye can sleep, but a sleeping eye can still see. What is seen in dreams seems to be very real. The Bible mentions that ‘a deep sleep fell upon Adam,’ and nowhere is there any reference to his waking up.” (OrEd.Tx.2.13)
One thing that I really love about the Course is reframing these stories, phrases, ideas – about salvation, about Easter, about resurrection and all these things – and reframing them. “Ok, this is what it really means. Think about it this way.” It’s interesting that the Course is saying as Adam ate from the “fruit of the tree of knowledge,” I have believed my knowledge of the Bible. When Adam ate the “fruit” he fell asleep. So we are still asleep in many respects. This is what this world is, it is a dream. I thought that was a very interesting way of reframing what it means to be alive.
I keep on thinking about this significant thing for me here, what it means to become a “Reverend.” Not so much about that I now have this title, but where I am at in my spiritual journey. I feel a need to talk, to just let my voice be heard which often times in the past I haven’t. I don’t talk very often. A lot of people don’t get to know me and don’t know what I’m thinking about or what I’m up to. This is an opportunity for me to speak more and to really know what’s going on, what’s my perspective on the world, and the changing of my perspective. With our current U.S. president, I’m not going to speak any more (laughter) about that. It just seems all the more important for me, and also for other people, to speak their voice – to find their voice if they don’t know what it is and to speak it.
We all have unique perspective that needs to be heard. Because of the technology, because of the internet, we have an opportunity to do that. So, I am looking forward to the times to come, because I believe they’re going to be rocky, but it’s going to be shining – bright and shiny! Thank you so much! I guess now is the time for dinner! (laughter and cheering!) Thank you all. ♥
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the June 2017 (Vol. 31 No. 4) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.