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I am a pastor and a clinical psychotherapist. My life's passion is defining healthiness from a human perspective and paralleling it to the holiness of God, divine perspective. Shifting perspectives creates a paradigm that is alongside of rather than over and against. The parakalein of God and the paradoxes of humanity are redefined. Humanity is all about winning and yet we are losing ground everywhere. Divinity is all about letting go of the desire to win and the fear of loss. The Divine embraces the world with loving care regardless of anything.

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The Betrayal of the betrayer

Posted by Don Paine

Betrayal grips my soul and threatens the very life out of me. Maybe this is the nature of betrayal. When we feel betrayed we become the betrayer. We betray ourselves because we see the hatred of the betrayal. We think we need a release. Anything that provides comfort in this place of betrayal we grab on to it, holding it for dear life. Then it betrays our living, our hoping our loving.

Betrayal is cruel because it is perennial. Like death it is everywhere.

Death betrays life. It betrays the “living, loving Spirit” in all of us. We speak of death as being God’s will and I scream a deep scream from the pit of my being.

Death is not God’s will. It never has been God’s will.

The betrayal began with the idea that the God of creation was not for love and peace but for power and control. The enemy of betrayal suggested that God had a protective part that did not want us to know as God knows, love as God loves, live free as God is free. Our thoughts betrayed us because we felt betrayed which resulted in betrayal.

We are the betrayer and the betrayed. There is no innocence.

I have felt betrayed and I have betrayed the love and life that I hold so dear. Life is not as important as honor and integrity. What we believe effects our living and our living infects what we believe.

When death came to my brother it cut into all of our hearts. Some have spoken of it as God’s will. While screaming in pain of grief and loss, they embrace a God that embraces them with comfort. This is to their credit and faith.

I see that moment as betrayal. Death betrayed the love and life my brother had lived. When the “angel of death” came to him, I do not think he said okay let’s go without also saying my heart is breaking for my wife, my children my grandchildren. Then my brother, full of grace, said I trust you to be “with” my family. Entrusting them to God’s loving care and living peace.

Betrayal blinds me. Faith that sees beyond the moment and sees everyone in the loving and peaceful way that God sees us sets us free from all burdens of beliefs and betrayals. Some beliefs perpetuate betrayal. Others set us free of the burden of betrayal.

We think it is about who is right or honorable so we set ourselves to judge others and ourselves with a hammer of judgment. We think it is about “truth” some particular truth about this or that. We betray our loving and living.

The inner self as God has given it to all of us looks at the betrayal of the part and has deep understanding and compassion for why the part behaved in this way. There is no judgment or condemnation. There is also no approval or condoning. There is just the abiding presence of love and peace. There, there is healing and life forevermore.

The Essence of God is......

Posted by Don Paine

What an incredible idea.....can we state anything that would come close to capturing the essence of who God is.

John did in the first chapter of his Gospel. "We beheld the Glory of God full of grace and truth".

The essence of God for John was that in Jesus we could see and experience "Truth and Grace" in a balance of peace and love. The church is challenged in Ephesians to parallel this in the relational experience in the church. The directive is "speak the truth in love (with grace)".

Why then do we in our churches spend so much time teaching dogma and doctrine. I have preached sermons that were on the distinctives of what I believe but today I am growing to believe that what I believe about who God is theologically is not as important as how I let the person of God live in me. It is therefore not about theological or ecclesiastical truth as if the church or group with the right theology or polity will get a "well done thou faithful servant" when they enter heaven. In reality it is not what we believe that matters but how we live in truth and grace. The truth here is living in honesty and openness toward others and oneself. It is not telling people what is true. It is the discipline of inviting people to be honest with you without judgment and having the courage to be honest with them without attempting to control them. This is how Jesus lived.

Grace is then not just un-merited favor. It is also giving people the opportunity and privilege to be respected even if I disagree with them. Grace is responding to the situation or person regardless of what they say or do with the choice of grace. This grace opens the door wide to communion and community.

I spoke with someone toady that attends a churched that has "Grace" in its name while the polity of the church is to police people's behavior and choices while presenting a great image the focus of the church is to control people. In the name of service, self is promoted. We are right and we teach truth and grace is anything but the essence of the church.

The church often presents its truth in dogma and doctrine not in life and witness. The history of the church reflects more of a desire to control and resist control. Wars, mutilations, prejudice, violence, disharmony have been engaged in to prove truth. Speaking truth to power begs the question of who knows truth? and what is true power.

Jesus presented truth and grace in how he lived, loved and died.

Jesus, when he allowed humanity to kill him for no reason except that they wanted to show their power, was full of grace and truth toward the world.

Imagine in your world when you heard someone say something stupid (in your opinion) or did something stupid (in your opinion), you responded to them with grace. They would not feel judged or condemned but genuinely loved and cared for. Imagine a world where people in churches, synagogues, mosques or temples did not present their truth over an against each other in an effort to prove who is right, to speak their truth over falsehood. Imagine in that world that those same people chose to pour grace into each others lives, to live grace over truth telling.

Imagine all religious groups being so full of deep honest truthfulness with themselves about themselves that they could not allow the pride of being right (even if they think they are) win over the humility of being wrong even if you are right. Being right in your heart toward someone when they are wrong in their heart toward you is the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is not about being right as the way of truth, it is about being right in your heart as the way of grace. The righteousness of God is not about being gracious and letting people disrespect you, it is about being gracious in respect to everyone even if they disrespect you.

John said as he opened the Gospel, if I let myself think of all that I experienced as I walked with, talked with, lived with, cried with Jesus, I think of two words that sum up the difference that makes a difference in the world. Those two words are "Truth and Grace" and Jesus was full of both of them.

When some one says: "you are full of it"! Imagine if the "it" was "Grace" and that was Truth!

Be truthful about yourself and you will be trusted.

Be graceful toward yourself and others and you will be known as one who walks with God and one with whom God walks.

Some walk the talk of being Christians.
Some talk the walk of being Christians.

Others walk in truth and talk with grace which is the essence of God in you. Full of grace and truth we live in love and peace with all humankind.