About Me

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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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Another year over

Posted by Don Paine

As the year ends I had a reflective moment.
I saw a ribbon with:  "I love my pet" artfully written in the flow of the ribbon. But my eyes projected so I saw a different message. From inside of me I saw the ribbon artfully sending a different message:
"I love my parts"
I started 2011 with angry, hurt, rejected, rejecting, suicidal, dead,  pained, griefted parts.  I end 2012 with a renewed love and peace in me for all my parts. The concept of welcoming all my parts is now a reception of all my parts which feels like redemption.  My parts are not redeemed not by an external but by an internal source.  I am deemed to be as I was created to be, at peace and with love toward all as love is in me toward all my parts.

So put it as a ribbon around your heart, affix to your forhead so you see everyone through its lens, put it as a ribbon on the doorpost of your dwelling so you will welcome all parts of all people into your sacred space of peace and live.  Live it into your children and their children.

See the // in Deuteronomy 4:6?

Merry Christmas

Posted by Don Paine

All parts of all of us are welcome parts.   No matter what the role every player in the first Christmas pageant were people and creatures, all,  on whom God showed favor in a multiple of different ways.  No one was more loved or favored that another just favored in different ways.

So today, Christmas morning, God conveys "favor" on every person and all creatures regardless of any thing and because God's love has no limits nor limitations.  Every role from the lowly shepherds to the exalted wise men and everyone in between are all highly exalted and find favor with God. All regardless of human stature or human dilemmas, all are favored with love this Christmas. Now live favor toward all!  

That is the greatest and my Christmas gift to ___________.

No favorites just favors to all.

Santa Claus and a God Image, or not?

Posted by Don Paine

so the song is a reflection of reality or an attempt to threaten or manipulate reality?

I was sitting with someone who was feeling "undeserving and bad".  It triggered a part in me that went back to my childhood and began singing a different version than I learned of the song, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town":

"He is making a list and checking it twice and gonna find out who is naughty or nice. So you betta watch out you better not shout you better not pout I am telling you why cuz Santa Claus is coming to town,  He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake".

I wear a hat for Christmas that says "naughty" on one side, and "nice" on the other.  It is for fun but maybe has a serious message. What is true is that we are all naughty adn nice at different times.  What is also true is that God loves us in our naughtiness and in our niceness.  He loves us out of our naughtiness and into being nice.  The idea that Santa projects is that if we are naughty we are undeserving of gifts and are unloved.  That is just not true.  What is true is that we are loved and that there are gifts for us regardless of anything.  The Santa message is not the Jesus message.

So lets not play Santa, let us be Jesus in loving kindness toward all regardless of anything so here is the new version:

"He sees you when you are sleeping, and knows when you're awake, he knows when you are bad and good, and loves you for Jesus sake.  So no need to watch out, no need to put on a pout, it is better to shout, I am telling you why for "You and everyone you know are loved" for Jesus has come to town.

Okay it needs a little work but you get the idea!

Pray for my grandchildren as they hear a new version of an old song this Christmas!

Side tracked and focused

Posted by Don Paine

I have two special women in my life who have attempted to teach me something that I am slowly learning.  "Focus, focus, focus" and "make friends with comas!"

It is so easy to get side tracked.  I do it all the time.  Good things, good points, good acts of compassion can side track us from the better.  As I think about Christmas I am so glad God did not get side tracked in his sending the gift of love into the world.

400 years earlier in the end of Malachi (4:6) the prophet's message we read, "He will turn the hearts of the Fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers."  God in giving his son was opening his heart to all his children and asking all his children to open their hearts to him.  Sadly many of us find no room in our hearts for open heartedness.  Understandably as we have had hearts that have been hurt, wounded and we have parts that want to protect ourselves from further hurt.  Hurt, pain, and a need to protect can cause us to get side tracked.  We can lose the focus of "love".

I was wondering if the church of Jesus has been side tracked.  It has focused on sharpening the message of the gospel, attempting to define God and how to know him or her, and acting to protect the sacred truth of the Gospel. They have developed dogmas and doctrines to protect the message of the gospel then to defend to the death (literally) their particular brand of Christianity.  Great things have been done in the name of Jesus but equally horribly things have been done as well. We have been side tracked into thinking it is about what we do or believe.  We can do Jesus to people and not be Jesus toward people.

Jesus was and is God's gift of love toward people.  Lowly and looked down upon Shepherds, and looked up to Wise Men, and everyone in between received the gift of love that night.  It is the love of that night and the silent peace of that night that is the focus of God and it is to be our focus.  To live in love, authentically and daily, and to be at peace, internally and eternally, toward all people. Regardless of how anyone treats us and regardless of what we believe differently from them, and without anything in us thinking that we are more special than anyone else, "we simply and profoundly love".

Could it be that while attempting to sharpen the focus of the Gospel we have actually dulled the message and it has lost its main, mysterious, miraculous and mystifying point.  God simply and profoundly, "loves" everyone, regardless of anything.

Love is our focus not wisdom, not doctrine, not dogma, not good deeds, and not being right.
Our focus is to be right in our hearts toward all people regardless of anything.  It is not being right about theology or ecclesiology but it is being right in our heart toward all.  An "open hearted love" turned toward God and all God's children.

It is not to do right things, or believe right truths.  It is to be, in truth right, in our hearts toward all.  To be at peace and to act in love, these are the gifts of Christmas.

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth: peace and goodwill,  intentional acts of kindness and love, toward all humanity"

I want to be the center of the univesrse

Posted by Don Paine

At the center of the solar system is the sun.  It does not take from all the members of the system it gives energy to the system and gives balance to the movement of the system.

When most people say they want to be the center of attention they want to be fed and nurtured as of great worth because they do not feel of worth.

What if we saw and nurtured at our core a caring presence full of all the energy the system needs to move and be.  What if instead of holding on to energy we gave energy out.  The expansive nature of energy would fill all space.

The sacred space of compassion and calmness woudl invite all into the wealth of that compassion and calmness.

Guilt and Grace

Posted by Don Paine

I was sitting with someone today who was overcome with guilt.  As she looked at her guilty part she noticed that it felt guilt and shame because of something she did not do,  She also noticed another part that felt she did what she needed to do.  The guilty part was hammering her and the grace part was warming her from the inside with compassion and care.

I thought:  Grace is God's posture. Guilt is our pressure on ourselves.  Then I pictured God watching Adam and Eve that first day when they defied the command of the God who made them. I told the person of the picture in my head and asked her what she felt was God's first response to Eve and Adam eating the fruit?

She hesitated and said, "anger, disappointment, punishment".  God's first response was to do and say nothing.  It was not that God had nothing to say.  It was that God wanted what they had done to be respected and allowed to sink into their being.  To often we act impulsively and judgmentally to the wrong people do so they have no opportunity to feel and sense their wrong.  By the time morning rolled around they had felt their shame and guilt and were in hiding.  Shame and guilt drive people into hiding.  Grace invites people into loving presence.

So the first thing that God does is nothing.  the second thing God does is come into the garden with the same desire to fellowship with them that he had the day before.  For God nothing in his heart toward them had changed.  All that had changed was in and around them.  The third thing God did was to reach out with grace to seek to invite them out of hiding and into the presence of compassion and calmness.  Everything God did that day was of grace not to introduce guilt bu tto counter balance guilt with grace.

Guilt is like a sink hole that sucks people into it. Grace always fills the hole and makes a person whole.

Death with Dignity

Posted by Don Paine

Massachusetts will be considering a referendum in 2012 on allowing people in certain justifiable cases to elect an "end of life" agreement with a physician.

Already people are emotionally reacting to the control of this issue.  Freedom of choice is an essential right of all humanity.  We only limit choices when our choice imposes or affects someone else's right to choose.

I understand that if I am depressed and feel hopeless to allow me in that state of hopelessness to end my life just because I no longer want to live, is arguably to let emotions rule.  However, if I am terminal with no hope of recovery from illness, is it not inhumane and arguably letting emotions rule to force me against my will to lay for days weeks or months in a bed waiting for death.

I believe God gives life.  Humanity has come to a place that we see it as humane to keep life going no matter what.  That can at times be inhumane.

Agathanasia is the concept of a "good death".  It comes from the couplet of two Greek words: "Thanatos" or death and "agathos" or good.  Euthanasia much more well known is merciful death that people have translated into mercy killing.  Emotionally reactions will be present during the debate but in the end I hope reason, thoughtfulness, and mindfulness will overcome the emotions that have us react in a way that wants to control others rather than control our emotions.

In the end freedom of choice is the issue.  Allowing people to have the freedom of choice is inherent in the creator's fiat.  It does not direct or control it just steps aside from the role of controlling and embraces the right of a person to chose to die in a way that for that person brings dignity to the final sentence of life.
To withhold that freed is to impose cruelty and suffering that is neither necessary or redemptive.

When Jesus said, "into your hands I commend my spirit", he chose to die.  Thank God he had the right to choose to die because in fact no amount of pain or suffering would have resulted in his death for he is God.

Favor not favorite

Posted by Don Paine

Jesus was born to display favor on all humanity.  Mary was told she found favor with God.  We have worshipped her as if she was somehow God's favorite.  People and religious groups want to be "the favorite".  In relationship people want to be the best friend, mom's favorite etc.

However God has no favorites.  Love favors all but has no favorites.

Conveying favor on all is different than selecting favorites.

If I favor one of my children in one moment in some particular way it does not mean they are my favorite.

Being the favorite feeds the ego and the pride of heart.  Conveying favor and receiving favor feeds the sense of love in the heart and the capacity to be loving form the heart.

Favor is not favorite.

What is Just, Justifiable, Justified, Justice

Posted by Don Paine

Today is the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  I was not alive at that time.  Our territorial United States was attacked.  The horror of that day is not just about history it is about people.  We declared war.  In many ways that war was a justifiable response to an act of willful and deliberate violence against the United States.  We were clearly justified.  Does that make World War II a "just war"?

In my life time, planes did not drop bombs on a military harbor, they became bombs, missiled into buildings with innocent people inside.  Our response of violence and war in Iraq and Afghanistan are justifiable and our response justified but doe that make it a "just war".

I do not believe there is ever a "just war" as humanity and all humanities perceptions are based on human perspectives and both are essentially self-preserving, self-promoting, and self-vindicating.

Justice is welcoming all perspectives and perceptions without prejudice and acting with calmness and compassion toward all regardless of anything.  If everyone one would embrace this concept of calmness and compassion there would be peace on earth and there would be justice for all.  There would be no war not because there was a war to end all wars but because all accepted a way to end the fear of being conquered and the desire to conquer.

For me that is the "Jesus Way".  War is humanities way.  Witnessing peace and love toward all is divinities way.

Journey inside, to the center and find God anew and be renewed

Posted by Don Paine

"Going Inside" is the idea of entering into the innermost regions of your heart, mind and soul and finding in that innermost place parts that feel fear, anger and hurt.  These parts believe that they have to do something to get attention and care so that they feel acceptable and worthy of care. At the core, deep inside, there is also a warm compassionate, wonderfully calm, wildly courageous, and welcoming acceptance that calms and cares for the parts from inside, where God dwells.  Regardless of what you call this reality it is the spiritual core in us that reflects the "image of God".

I recall as a kid hearing the we needed to love God with all our heart, soul and mind.  For years I thought this meant that I needed to seek something out side of me to get approval or acceptance as if the only God that existed was outside of me.  Today I know that the seed of God's love as well as the seed of self-centeredness are both in us.  The freedom of our choice is to nurture the presence of acceptance, affirmation, and appreciation.  What is also true is that we often, because we fear losing or we desire to win, reach for the food that nurtures self-centeredness rather than to see the Spiritual-Self as at the center and feel cared for by that center.

In nature there is a witness to this reality. At the center of the solar system is the warm, radiant, resilient light of the sun.  If we could journey to the center of the earth we would find increasing warmth as at the center of all things is the warmth of compassion and calmness reflective of the creator.

So at the core of who you are is the God who made you as you are.  The image of God inside you can be "quickened" stimulated by many different relgious experiences.  I personally believe that the message of Jesus is to let that love of God we see and witness in Jesus come inside of us stimulating the love of God that is already in us to "life".

The journey inside finds everything we need and want already in us.  This is the sacred space for the sacred place to un-blend ourselves from the fears and longings that distort our perceptions and blend the heart, soul and spirit into the innermost experience of acceptance, appreciation and affirmation of ourselves and all others.

Going inside you find all you ever needed you already had you just did not know it.  Jesus came to help us to know it.  God's internal and eternal love that is accepting, affirming and appreciative of and to all.

Feeding of the 5,000 and more

Posted by Don Paine

As I was walking I began to imagine Jesus feeding all the hungry people in the world.  He asked all of us who have food to share what we have with those who have not so that everyone would have plenty to eat.  Then when the clean up crew came on the scene there would be more clean up than what we started with.

So what is the miracle I thought.  It was that they all were fed because those who had were willing to sacrifice what they had and because they were willing to give up what they had it was multiplied and all were blessed and fed.  The Self, the true spiritual self separate from the self-serving self, the balanced self that cares for others as it cares for itself with full acceptance, compassion, courage, and in total peace and calm.  If from this spiritual center we let go of all our prejudices, our particular theologies, our preferential status, and our pandering to certain groups, what would happen?

When Jesus came into the synagogue and on the Sabbath defied the "prejudices of piety" it was a shake down and a shake up.  He was shaking them down from thinking that they were "God's chosen".  God did choose the Jews to serve a particular purpose but never to be God's favorite people for God has no favorites.  God can bestow favor on people but that does not make them God's favorite people.  That is what feeds the ego of the religious people and the spiritual heart can go unchanged or even untouched.

God is asking us to give up the "food we have" so that all can eat of the food God has for all.  When  you give up what you have you always get back more than you gave.  The scraps that you collect are a statement of the miracle that comes when you are willing to sacrifice.

When I give out compassion and care without agenda and with acceptance the hunger of humanity is satisfied and the left over scraps will fill everyone.

Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose".  As powerful and truthful as I think that is I would add another dimension.

"He is no fool who gives up and out what he could keep to himself, to spread the food of favor with all humanity in which everyone wins".

What is given in giving loving acceptance and appreciation to others is the food of kindness which will feed all and will have a loving spill over.

World Aids Day, A day of compassion and courage

Posted by Don Paine

As I reflected on World Aids Day, I recalled a paper I wrote in graduate school on "Am I my Brother's Keeper".

When it is not our problem we tend to dissociate from the problem.  God in Christ associated with us even though it was not his problem, it was ours.  What a model for us to see all people and all problems as ours to care for, have compassion for, and extend care towards.  God courageously came into the world as a vulnerable little baby to teach us how to grow in wisdom and stature with God and man.  Perhaps the greatest growth spurt is when we see everyone as our neighbor and love our neighbors as ourselves.

The plight of Aids invites us to pledge solidarity as brothers to all those who suffer.  AS Jesus walked into the Leper colony of his day as a way of demonstrating his compassion and courage and care for all people so we step into the world of aids and offer the courage and care that is the heart of Christ for those who suffer regardless of anything.

Compassion and courage are the attributes of God toward all humanity and they are the attributes of those who walk the way Jesus walked.

The Integrity of Witness

Posted by Don Paine

I recently received an email presenting the cultural difference between European and American views of using athletics to bear witness to the Gospel.

For instance going into a school as an under cover agent for Christianity is acceptable to western evangelism techniques while frowned upon in European culture.  The intent is to bring the Gospel to light as light.

In a way as a Christian therapist I do something similar.  I use therapy as a means to bear witness to the peace of God and the love of God that can transform any trauma or problem by shifting the focus of that problem.  At he same time I never hide the reality of my faith (see my website) but I also never impose it.  I wait for an invitation based on our work to open the door to a faith discussion.  So while an end goal is present it is not a means ot an end.  As if the person never wanted ot hear of spiritual faith he would not.  For me it is an issue of integrity leading into sharing rather than suspending integrity for the opportunity of witness.

It is similar to what I am doing  by speaking clearly yet boldly of the Jesus way as not a particular or peculiar religious way but as the way of surrender, sacrifice and serenity. No means to the end justifiable or not.

As some of you know I have been thru a dark place of depression and grief and so I have come out with renewed passion and even some insight (one persons insight is another persons folly).

You can check my web site for some writing on this but for here one idea is to see faith in a non-sectarian way.  Faith is seeing what no one else sees.  For me seeing God at work even in and thru tragedy.  Others do not see God at all in tragedy, still others see God as responsible for tragedy and attribute all kinds of things to that (God gets a bad wrap here).  In a sense they see what some do not and it is what they want to see.  I see what others do not and feel it is God revealing to me truth.  When I use sports to be a cover for witness my witness is breached by the apparent less than honest statement of intention.  If I say to play a sport you need faith.  You need to see your and esteem him better than you and if he does the same for you you both play better as a team. That is faith operating in sports.  Seeing God on your team and his esteeming you as better than him so he dies to set you free of thinking you have to be better than you are that is faith in a spiritual sense.  Parallel truths serve both the sport and the Gospel message.  

A key for me is integrity and honesty and honor. as we witness to the world of the transforming faith of Jesus Christ.  As Soren Kirkegaard said years ago, "To know the truth and not be the truth is to embellish that truth with error".

Teh character of our witness is important that the content of our witness.

Have a Good Thanksgiving

Posted by Don Paine

The usual greeting in this season is Happy Thanksgiving.

I cannot say that, this Thanksgiving.  Last Thanksgiving, I heard people saying that and it just angered me.  This was partly because I had a part that was hurt, depressed and anything but thankful.  I am in a better space this year but am more aware than ever that a season of Thanksgiving really can alienate those who are not happy from those who are or who at lest wear the mask of happiness.

In reality I know some people who are not feeling Happy this Thanksgiving:
A father whose son was killed din a car accident in which the father was the driver;
A man whose wife up and left him and won't even talk to him;
A woman who experienced neglect from her mother and sexual abuse by her father that she is dealing with;
A gay couple who are rejected and feel alienated from their church and friends;
A pastor whose son died at 15, is separated from his wife, out of the ministry and recreating a life from the rubble;
A teenager who was sexually abused by her father and exploited as a sex toy for friends,
A mother whose heart ached for her daughter who is trying to put the pieces of her life into a peace place for healing;
A spouse whose partner died suddenly leaving the pain of grief and aloneness:
A mother whose son is struggling with an addiction the threatens the presence of life force
A wife whose husband is having an affair and then beats her blaming her for his behavior;
A brother who stabs his older brother to death in the Netherlands;
An elderly couple who have lost all their retirement funds;
A mother and father whose son was killed in the war in Afghanistan;
A couple whose young child was killed by a drunk driver;
A couple whose marriage is falling apart because of the fear of being loved and the fear of not being loved, yet they deeply care for each other and feel each other's pain and suffering;
A man in such pain and grief that he is planning to kill himself on Thanksgiving Day.

None of these see this Thanksgiving as Happy.  They represent many others like them who enter this season without a "happy part".

I began, due to inner awareness, to  tell people "Have a Good Thanksgiving" or Make it as Good a Thanksgiving as you can.  When God in creative power and compassionate presence takes everything and pours good into that event, it does not make the event good or me happy but it does bring redemptive and radical transformation, and offers to make it good in some small way.

Thankfully God works good into and out of whatever horrible and horrific things happen in our world.
It does not make me happy but it does make my heart feel "good".

"God works all things together for good"  Romans 8:28

Have a good Thanksgiving!

Have a good time of being thankful!  It is all good!
It is good to "give thanks in everything" in fact it is the will of God to do so! (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Accepted is not Acceptable it is Acceptance

Posted by Don Paine

I sat there listening to a preacher teach us all that we are "acceptable to God" and that is why God has called us to be pastors and teachers.

Inside it did not site well.  I had two parts that predominated the uneasy feeling and others that joined in a weaker refrain.  One part said this is an ego inflating way of seeing this calling. We are not called because we are acceptable to God nor is it that we are made acceptable to God.  The calling is to "be the person who God called you to be".  The idea of a "special calling on a select few rubs me the wrong way.  It seems elitist.  So it feels like a rub of friction and frustration not a soothing rub.  God calls us all to be "conformed to the image of the son of God" we are all called to serve and to bear one another's burdens.

My second part said we are not acceptable or unacceptable to God.  Our parts that choose to do certain behaviors those behaviors may be unacceptable or acceptable according to sociological mores or internal affirmations.  In a balanced internal system all parts are accepted in a universal welcoming but their behavior may be acceptable or unacceptable. It is that we are accepted and accepting of all parts in ourself and all parts in others.  It is not about approving or disapproving of the behavioral choices of the part.

Paul Tillich said, "Accept the fact that you are accepted" communicates to the internal parts the grace of God to accept you as you are and to offer you the grace.  The grace of God gives you power to be able to choose that which is the "acceptable and perfect" will of God.

When we accept the fact that we are accepted by god regardless of anything we experience peace and love in the primordial sense of perfect love and peace.  They are the only qualities which are coupled with perfect.  When all parts are accepted and they trust that acceptance they settle, and experience the calm and compassion that are the essential qualiteis of God and the Image of God in us that we call, Self.

Isaiah tells us 26:3, that we are kept in "perfect peace" when we stay focused on the God who accepts us as we are.  John tells us in I john 4:8 "perfect love casts out all fears" for fears have to do with punishment and the one who is accepted by God no longer fears punishment.  Acceptance is transformational.  Acceptableness is judgmental.

Just Justice is to be at peace and act in loving ways toward all

Posted by Don Paine

Yesterday I spent some time with a wise, well read, and well written friend who asked me to dialogue with him about Just War and Holy War.  The context if I understood it right was a dialogue among scholars in both the Christian and Muslim Traditions.  The Christian advocates were defining the idea of a Just War.  I wondered to myself is this deifying war.  The Muslim advocates were defining the idea of a Holy War. I wondered to myself who defines holy.  At the time my only response was to present the idea that no war is holy and no war is just.

When we define justice in our terms and in our perspective and in our side we are in fact I think engaging in an injustice.  Is there such a thing as a just war?

After over 24 hours of thought, my idea on this matter would be to answer no with two quick qualifiers.  I have a part that truly understands that when someone is a menace to society's code of conduct or more particular the "dignity of humanity and human rights" it is a just act to protect the menaced or bullied person or group of people.  I quickly add, while that makes the intervention whether arms or restraint or arms of violence, justifiable that does not make it a defense for a "just war theory".  Justification is not justice.  Justice is when all people's right to dignity and to determine their own destiny are equally respected and any behavior or belief that threatens the rights of any one person in favor of the rights of another is not right.

Similarly, there is no holy war except in the eyes of the one who declares it holy or declares that they have a "holy directive".  The nature of holiness is to be free of "one sided ways of seeing the world" and seeing the world with open eyes to all prejudices and perspectives.  To claim a holy purpose that is self-serving is not a holy war but a war using God.  God's holy purpose is to transform people from over and against thinking that promotes self justifying and self deifying purposes that are counterproductive and violent in nature into an alongside of (parakalein) orientation that sees.  God invites the world to watch as he receives the anger, hostility, and war of humanity against divinity and transforms that war into a war that is won by surrender, sacrifice and serenity.

Whoever is willing to lose his life, will truly be set free to live his life, this is the principle of God.
To argue for a "just war" or a "holy war" is to argue against the message of peace and love.  War may have at times a justifiable or holy purpose but to declare war holy or just is counterproductive to "loving your enemies" so that hey will be free of their need to do violence and live in peace and love toward all.

Violence may sometimes have a justifiable or holy intention but to endorse violence as a way of being is counterproductive to living at peace and with love toward your neighbor.

The crucifixion intentionally receives the violence of humanity with the intention of transforming that way of living into the way of love and peace.

There is no such thing as a holy war or just war.  There is such a thing as holy surrender and just sacrifice.  There is such a thing as a holy or just intervention on behalf of the oppressed, afflicted, and abused.www.peacecripplers.blogspot.com

Not What I planned, All worked together for good

Posted by Don Paine

I had planned a Worship Experience for the runners at the NYC marathon.  It is a Worship Service like none other, not churchy very runner friendly and God focused.  I had been in touch with runners who had   a scripture to read a story to tell or a  song to share.  It was all prearranged.  This was very different than 25 years ago when I presented a message and we sang together in a spontaneous, unstructured form of Worship.  The Service "by runners for runners" had been endorsed by the marathon headquarters so I now have a tent, a sound system, a communion table and a list of participants previously secured.

None of them were there as the time for the service approached.  Understand for those none runners who are reading this that there were 48,000 runners in a small park all looking for different things that they were not finding.

So as the runners gathered for Worship I announced we were doing this the way they did it in Acts.  Whoever gathered  from that group some and a hymn, some a spiritual song and another a word from God.  I heard myself say to them that we sometimes organize our Worship and unintentionally organize God out of our worship.  A Japanese man came up to the microphone.  He spoke of the tragedies of Hiroshima, earthquakes and tsunamis and of 9/11 and the tragedies here. So he was running for peace in our world and he spoke peace to all.  Then a man from France sang a peace ballad.....it felt like, i had stepped out of the way and God's presence was bring felt in a powerful and personal way as God's people shared from their hearts encouraging one another in faith.  Maybe that is what Worship is suppose to be.

God found us.  Or rather when I let go of my agenda we found God in our midst.

God is present always everywhere all the time.....in tragedies and in triumphs the same God is there!
God works everything for good in our lives. Amen

I finihsed

Posted by Don Paine

Several days ago "I finished" the ING New York City Marathon in record time for me.  I finished in over 7 hours for the first time in my life.  My ego was mostly okay with that.  I had a part that said I could have done a 6:38 finish time which is what I did last year.  I could have strove harder, pushed more, and stayed more focused on the finish line.  Yet it was my best marathon in that I talked to people encouraged first time marathoners who went out too fast and were really hurting as I walked by them, I slowed down and walked with them talking with them as they went, encouraging them in the journey to the finish line.  Some I walked with for just a few minutes as I respected their focus and not wanting to waist energy in talking.  They just wanted to finish.  I get that.   Others really wanted to talk as it took the focus off their pain.  When they asked me my name and I said Don Paine, I watched eyes roll but the feet kept moving.
It did not matter to me what country they were from or what ethnic group or what religion they were I was presenting the encouraging presence of a fellow on the same journey.  I crossed the finish line with the memory of hundreds of people who I had talked with in my heart and mind.

I imagined that this might have been what Jesus had in his heart as he finished the course of his journey at the cross.  In his heart and mind were all the people he had talked with, been with in their journey, healed, challenged, had compassion on and then there were all the people of history that he looked back on and all the people of the future he looked forward too, He had all of humanity past present and future in His heart and mind.  Perhaps that is what helped him endure as Hebrews notes: "Who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down, "finished".  The joy of relationship building, bridge building and nurturing a connection internal and eternal with God was so the focus of Jesus He lived, lives, and lives in all who follow the Jesus way.

The Jesus way is being with people in their journey wherever they are  in the at journey without judgment, without conditions and without an agenda except that they know and experience the loving presence of the God of love.  Taking that in, they receive the love of God in Christ.

What was finished for me the day I crossed the finish line at the marathon was being with people in that way at that time.  But I was not finished.  It, that phase of my journey, was finished.  In a sense I was taking all I learned about being with people into being with people with renewed understanding of why is si so the Jesus Way.  My wife and I went on the following Sunday to Castle Island in Boston to do the ALS Walk with a friend.  To just be with him and his family and friends is the Jesus Way.  The Rabbi is still teaching us a new and different way.

When Jesus said "It is finished" he was saying among other things that the physical journey on and in this physical world where he modeled living in peace and love with clarity and compassion was done.  The living in peace and love was and ever shall be.  God continues through the Spirit and through Jesus to live in people and to be with people through and with people.  He is the resurrection and the life, whoever lives and believes in him will never be finished.

I am a finisher but I am not finished.  Jesus finished his work on earth but He id far from finished working in the realm of the spirit.  Listen to his voice through people, through nature, through scripture and live as Jesus lived.  That was a message I go this year and it made the marathon the best ever!

In the name of the "I with be with you God", be with people in peace and love and God will bless you and them.

I am finished.

Another Connection

Posted by Don Paine

Tonight due to connections extending, we were invited to be part of a Native American Music Program featuring Joseph Firerrow, www.josephfirecrow.com.  The concert was amazing.  As he described that the flutes her makes by hand are made form the inside out.  I was amazed.  I shared with him the the therapy I engage in www.selfleadership.org , has as its focus in couple therapy, "Living form the Inside Out".  The characteristics of this inside out is that a person and partner has to live in inner peace and love toward the other regardless of anything, without any condition or agenda.

Truly in nature and in the music arts or the art of music the inner truth of all humanity's need to focus on being in peace inside and acting in loving ways toward others outside is the secret of making good music in the should and out from the soul.  This is why Joseph sees the flute as harmonizing all things and calling all to honesty and honor.

The message of Malachi rings again in my ear a message calling the 21st century to a new kind of honesty, honor and humility.

Another connection in the God who is doing a new thing in our day/.

Running in the Spirit, Walking in spirit

Posted by Don Paine

A couple of days ago I ran my 25th New York City Marathon.  For 25 years in a row I ran, walked and finished.  This is not a testimony of my endurance but a testimony to a vision of passionate enthusiasm for God and people.

Someone asked me how I did it.  I responded that I did not do it but the energy of love and grace that sits inside all of us helped me to see beyond all of it. I finished not because I am disciplined or strong but because I kept the finish line in front of me and simply continued to move toward it at a different pace each year, with different setbacks and problems each year but with the same focus: to finish in and by the grace of God.

When Eric Little, Chariots of Fire, was asked once how he runs.  He said that when he runs he feels the breath of God, the pleasure of God, the presence of God, the wind of God's Spirit.  While I do not move as fast or as famously, I have felt that same breath, pleasure, wind and presence.  It is in all of us.  It is not about how fast we run.  It is not even about running. It is about moving in The Spirit and having the Spirit move in and through you.  We can all feel that wherever we are and whatever we do.

When Jesus spoke of being born of Spirit in John 3 he said, "The wind blows where it wills, you do not know where it is coming from or where it is going so is everyone who is born of the Spirit".  We know we are born of the Spirit when we a borne along by the Spirit regardless of anything or anyone.  I have felt that energy of Spirit in me in the darkest of hours, in the brightest of times, in times of failure to stay on course and in times of finishing the course.  In all times and in all moments:  God is always present when I am present.

So today I am thankful not just for God's presence helping me to finish 25 NYC Marathons but more for God's breath that breathes in me, on me and all around me.  I used to think I had to breathe in the breath of God.  Now I know that God has breathed into all of us the very "breath of God".  God's breath is in you and all about you because it is not about you but about the God who gives you breath. It is all about you and God walking living and being in Spirit.

Thanks be to God.

The Jesus I Now Know

Posted by Don Paine

The Jesus I now Know.  Running for the Highest Glory! 2011, 25 Years later

Running for 25 years still changing and growing, challenging to a World of Peace and a World free of Cancer

In 1990 I ran with Fred and Grete in Central Park for a mile.  This year I run my 19th marathon as a member of Fred’s Team to raise funds for freeing the world of cancer in memory of both of them> They were people of courage and vision.  I run to honor them.

10 years ago soon after the attack on the city of New York and our nation, 30,000 runners ran through the five boroughs of New York City with the message from a Worship Service that had a pastor pray, “May all runners be a river of love and peace flowing through the center of this city and as a message to the World of God’s love, peace and healing. Wow!  It is a Wow, a witness, a wonder, and a welcome beyond words and beyond faith, in a restrictive sense, yet of faith in an all inclusive sense.

25 years ago there was a wow as a new Albany pastor would be running his first ever marathon in New York City and holding a Worship Service for runners as a runner.  Running for a Greater Glory was the lead to an article that appeared in the TU, November 1986.

This year I am running for the 25th time and holding a “community of faiths” peace vigil that will allow for four stations in which communion in different Christian/Catholic traditions will be offered, with previously blessed sacraments.
Simultaneously all other faiths will gather to celebrate their commitment to respectful embrace of differences and their focus on cultivating love in peace in the world starting with celebrating unconditional love toward each other and agenda free peace for each other.  It will still be a Service of Celebration of Faith “for runners by runners” which was and has been the focus of these unique services.  This year it will be “for runners by runners” regardless of what particular faith group they may be part of, All will be welcome to participate in a Celebration and Affirmation of the Community of Faiths.

The service this year is part of the marathon’s honoring the memory of  9/11 in the 10th Anniversary year.  Only when religions, faiths of all kind, can maturely embrace their shared concern for love and peace to rule in the hearts of all humanity and simultaneously respect other beliefs, will religious leaders lead the way to harmony and balance in the international arena of life.

25 years ago  I would not have been caught dead or alive leading this kind of service.
So why am I leading it this year?  When serving as a pastor here in Albany, Pineview Community Church (1986-1995), my focus was always on loving and caring for people, introducing then to the peace of God that passes human understanding, and offering this as a witness to God’s love to transform, through faith in Jesus, anyone’s life into “abundant living”.  I still believe all of that and live and preach it.   At the same time I do not believe that anyone has the right to define the “Jesus way” as any particular ecclesiastical or theological way that is itself exclusive, excluding, and elitist.  Jesus was none of that.  Jesus was inclusive, including and humble to the point of sacrificing his life rather than to win a point and thereby to make a point.  The point Jesus made is often lost in the ecclesiastical and theological garb in which we religiously robe ourselves.  I did.  I met Jesus in the most deeply painful places of my life and learned that it is about being “willing to sacrifice” all my agendas and all the conditions I want to put on how God works and witnesses to people.  To not restrict or define how God leads people to a life of sacrifice, surrender, and serenity.
The Jesus way is the way of sacrifice, surrender, and serenity.  The Jesus way is the way of inner peace, that leads me to live in peace with all people that is serenity.  It is also the way the surrenders “my way, however I define my way” to “the way” which is the way of “peace and love”.  This way is a way of unconditional love and agenda free loving.  Compassion without conditions and without agenda is not religious as much as it is spiritual.  Spiritual can be assisted by religion but religion does not produce spirituality.

John Lennon sang a song, “Imagine”.  In it here asked us to imagine “no religion” as a way to imagine living in love and peace.  The reason behind that line is that religion is so often a part of the hostility in the world.  In the name of “truth and right” we have become untruthful and wrong.  Not in what we believe but in what we believe about others who believe differently.

I used to believe that my belief, about who Jesus was and is, was correct and I had to correct everyone else who had a wrong or at least faulty understanding of Jesus.  I was sincere in my love and concern for the “lost”.  What I was blind to was that I was lost in being right and correcting others which fed my ego needs more than clearly represented a God of love.  The God of love and peace, sent Jesus in love and peace into a world of anger, violence, and blindness.   Jesus confronted the people who thought they were right about what they thought about God and yet lived inconsistent with what they knew.  In the 21st Century I believe Jesus is again asking us to, set aside the parts of us that feel like our theology or ecclesiology are right, and embrace the an inner peace that is agenda free, a love that is unconditional, and a belief system that welcomes everyone regardless of anything into a community of faiths that embrace these three qualities of God and of Christ.  Namely, the qualities of serenity, sacrifice and surrender are the way of love and the way of Jesus.

The way of Jesus is not some particular ecclesiastical or theological or religious way.
The Jesus way is the way of being willing to sacrifice, surrender and serenity.  Many if not all religions of the world teach this way but do not call it the “Jesus way”.  This may actually be because we who hold to faith in Jesus have represented the Jesus way in such a narrow exclusive and self-serving way that the true Jesus was unrecognizable.

This year at the ING NYC Marathon a new vision and a new celebration will invite people of all faiths to gather together as one, celebrating and committing to living in peace and love with humility, love and peace toward all in the name of the God of all!

Additionally, I run to raise funds for cancer research as part of Fred’s Team since 1992.  Memorial Sloan Kettering is a world pace setter in cancer research and treatment.  I have raised over 50,000 dollars for this cause.  I ran with Fred and his good friend Grete the year before he died.  She was the first captain of Fred’s Team.  This year I run in memory of both of them as Grete died earlier this year.  They were both people of love and peace, strength and courage.

So while different, I will be running in the same faith for an even greater Glory.  This Glory is the Glory of God in the highest:  higher than any ecclesiastical council, higher than any theological truth, this is the Glory of God beyond and above all human versions of truth and embracing the divine truth that there is “one Shepherd and one Flock” (John 10:10). That there is one way and it is the way of love, peace and humility”.  It is the Jesus Way, but it is not my way.  It is not correcting people who believe differently but connecting with people, appreciating the differences respectfully and celebrating as one so that “we may be one” because we are one in faith, hope, and love.  This is not about “religious tolerance” but about embracing all faiths as one in affirming “sacrifice, surrender and serenity”:  the Jesus way.  This is not about universalism it is about a universal truth: that “sacrifice, surrender and serenity” are who God is and how we are to live.

In the Talmud we read, “The willingness to sacrifice is the prelude to freedom”.  This freedom is, without any conditions about anything, to love all and, without any agenda regardless of anything and respectful of all, to live in love and peace toward all.

So in NYC this fall the marathon which is “like none other” will host 119 nations of earth and offer a peace vigil uniting faiths of earth to “live as one”.  I will be walking more than running this year, finishing in more than 6 hours rather than less than four.  I am still trim in my body and yet more expansive than ever in my faith, hope for peace and my love for all.

“And I saw a great crowd of people from every nation (every ethnic group) and every tribe (every faith group) and people (every state of being) gathered together Worshipping”.  What a worldwide witness to the Glory of God in the highest.  High above our particular theologies yet celebrating the Good News of God’s love and peace for all toward all.

Wow!  What a witness. Running for a Greater Glory!  Not for a particular church, not for a way of believing, but for the Glory of God!

The Mission Statement of Parakalein

Posted by Don Paine

The mission of Parakalein is to present and represent the God of love and peace in kindness and mindfulness and to “call” (kalein) all tribes (Religious Groups), all nations (Ethnic Groups), and all people (racial groups) into an “alongside of” (para) posture and position toward each other.  This promotes the experience of the global community of all faiths as “one” because they are one in love and peace toward all. (2011)

The Vision Statement of Parakalein

Posted by Don Paine

The vision of parakalein is to see God as not against any person and group or for any particular person or group, God is “alongside of all” in internal serenity, with a willingness to sacrifice and surrender, to lead humanity into the steadfast love that is who God is”.

God is along side of “creation” and calls all of humanity to come alongside of each other welcoming all parts of
humanity into a  community “alongside of” one another with appreciation and respectfulness toward all resulting in “liberty and justice” for all. (2011)

A trip to Israel, or Israel in me

Posted by Don Paine

I was talking to Nitsan about a possible trip to Israel where she lives and where "love beyond words" (www.beyondwords.org is bringing peace to troubled land.  I commented to her that I had no desire to "walk where Jesus walked"as I get that that is what some people seems to want or need to do which draws them to travel to Israel.  I recalled how my brother, Phil and his wife Debby did that as God put that on their heart.  I totally get that for some but it is not my thing.  I then, perhaps a defensive part of me or Self not sure, said to her:  "I would rather walk in the footsteps of the way Jesus Walked, I do not need to walk in the footsteps where Jesus walked."  She said I really like that can I use it change it?  I said it i snot mine as I spoke it to her I had never thought of it in that way before.  She shifted it a bit and it became.

"I would rather walk in the way Jesus walked than to walk where Jesus walked"  We both agreed that we both liked it.

I then told her that several years ago I had a vision about running the Israel Marathon and crossing the finish line holding the hands of other communities of faith in celebration that the parts of religion create conflict but the heart of religion, is the harmonizing SELF and Spirit of all faiths.  Nitsan is Jewish.  She looked at me and said:  "That would be a picture of the way of Jesus.  We can work on that happening!"

"That they might be one"

Love WIns or does it

Posted by Don Paine

I just reread Rev. Rob Bells book, "Love WIns" which  I think has been misunderstood and misused by many.  I do not even know Rob Bell but I sense his heart for people and for truth that is transforming not confusing.

So here is my thought to transforming love.

Love wins and love loses like nothing else because it lives like nothing else.  Jesus lived like no one else had ever lived and he is the model in whose "way" we are to walk.  Jesus walked the way of serenity, surrender, and sacrifice all in the name of love. Love was unconditional, agenda free, accepting of all, and audaciously uncompromising.

Love wins even when it chooses to lose for the sake of love and in the spirit of loving.
It is internal and eternal.  It is in Spirit and Truth offered to all.  It transforms everything and everyone.

So love wins and loses in a dynamic and divine dance of life.

A thought that came put of me to a client

Posted by Don Paine

"Speaking is not about convincing, Listening is not about agreeing"

Day One: Compassion and Calmness

Posted by Don Paine

The first day of the conference had a very special experience for all of us.

We were in one room and another group was in the room next to us.  When we were let out for a break there was a huge coffee and break table with food and snacks.  Some of our people, assuming toi was for us began drinking the coffee and eating the snacks.  There was a hotel person sitting at a table asking people to not eat it as it was not for them.  There was no intention to be rude and insensitive but insensitivity and rudeness was experienced.  This escalated as the day went on.  I asked at one point that we make an announcement to our group that the coffee set up in the hall was not for us and that ours was down the hall.  We were judged to be a rude group even though we were working on this multi-eye way of seeing the world and our internal parts.  I talked to the lady and understood the problem but was having trouble getting the "eyes" of understanding in place.  They saw us as rude and obtrusive.  We saw them as trying to forbid us a break.  We both saw in one way what was happening.

When I got the attention of t=one of our leaders and helped her to understand at least what I saw had happened, she said she had talked to someone in the elevator who was upset with us and wanted to know who and what we were about.  He laughed when she said "sensitivity and awareness training" group.

We agreed that part of the problem was the hotel logistics set this up as they had put the coffee break table for the other group right where we were.   Either they could have put us in a different room or the coffee table for them inside their room.  They had put it right in the middle between both rooms.

I said it is like God put the tree right in the middle of the garden.  He could have put it to the side then we would not have rudely and obtrusively just did what we wanted.

Regardless of where the tree or the coffee table is we all have the responsibility to be respectful and considerate of all regardless of anything.

We did write an apology letter noting there was no intention to be rude even though that was the effect and we wanted to accept our responsibility in the matter.  Increased awareness and sensitivity are a good thing.

Seeing with more eyes

Posted by Don Paine

I was at a conference this past week, Internal Family Systems, Conference in Boston.  Some people think it is just a model of therapy but it is a way of seeing, of being and of living.

the way of IFS is to welcome all parts regardless of anything and to regard everything and every one from
the core qualities of calmness, compassion, courage and creativity.

To see not with just a myopic point of view but with multiples-eyes that see more not less.  To no be a one eyed cyclops but a multi-eyed, open and affirming person.  Open hearted love toward all and an affirmation of peace in all is at the heart of IFS.  We see not only as we see but as all others see.  A face of many eyes is an image of God who sees all in the way of "multiple eyes" in which all creation is valued and validated.

It is not judgmental, non-pathologizing, non-theologizing, non-restraining, and counter intuitive.  It opens a new way of seeing the world and of practicing an inner peace as the seeds of outer peace, inner love as the seed of outer love from inner loving.

The sense of peace and love was amazing.

What is finished

Posted by Don Paine

I am finished.  That could mean I am ready to die, I am done continuing to do what I have always done,  I am done with you, I am going to stop doing whatever.

Jesus said, "It is finished" for years I thought of that as his life was done.  Recently I began to see more in that statement.  Yes his physical life on earth was done.  Yes his journey on earth was done.  Yes his time of suffering and pain, of rejection and loss, of chaos and confusion, of trying and failing, and of living and dying was done, all of it was done, finished!

It is finished also means the work of leading people out of a focus on earth into a focus beyond earth, leading people to surrender holding on to life for fear of death, leading people to sacrifice for others while rising to the reality that one never really dies, allowing the Creator God to suffer, bleed and die (not just for our holding on to sin but to lead us into how to release ourselves from the grip of sin, slain from the foundation of the earth not to appease a wrathful God but to release us from the projections of wrath onto God).  It is finished means Jesus was done being limited in time and space to return to the sacred and eternal space and place that is the reality of the universe beyond the physical universe in which we live.

I am at the iFS Conference in Boston and took this note earlier today that is behind this blog.  Beyond the words of truth are the eternal truths that are beyond words.  Here are my words to convey the sense of writing above.

It is finished. 
The separation and integration is complete

Not the work to die for my sin but to be led into putting aside the lead weight that weighs me down with thinking that I have to do or cannot do anything.  Exchanging the reality that when I let all suffering be not against me but for me, I am led to eternal living.   As if what is finished is the part of me that wants to make it about doing or thinking right,  it is about being or creating space for others being.......that is right!  Right not as in left or right, correct or wrong but right as in true and honest from Self that is the eternal presence of love and peace.

War for Peace

Posted by Don Paine

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "End War" and another that said "Endless War".  I mused that that is the opposite of "Endless Peace".

Everyone says they are for peace but the peace that they are for is outer peace over their enemy, perceived to be real.  Believing the enemy of peace it outside of me in another persons aggression fuels the flame of war, perpetuates abuse, violence and oppression.

Jesus could not, did not, and would not end war for profit or for outer peace.  The advent of the peace talks that Jesus began were about everyone surrendering their desire to win and fear of losing to the highest good of humanity:  to live in love and peace.  At his birth and through out his life the angles message was, "Glorify God in the highest, and on earth there will be inner peace and good will acts of loving kindness automatically happening toward all by all.

The religious machinery and the political malcontents coupled together to kill him because the message of inner peace served neither of them and threatened both.  The threat was  to shift the focus from religion and military attempt to promote their agendas for peace that only served the sea of turbulence and violence that perpetuate abuse, oppression and resentment.  Jesus message was not about religion or against politics but for "inner peace focus" that perpetuates deference, respectfulness, liberty, and justice for all by all.  Their is an internal resiliency to and for peace when the propensity of fear of loss and of desire to win are set aside and surrendered to the natural flow of inner peace.

"Glory ot God in the Highest and on earth peace good will toward all humanity.

Covenant or Creed, what identifies you

Posted by Don Paine

Covenant 1765 Williamstown

We desire and by the aids of Divine Grace do promise to walk in all the statutes and ordinances of the Lord to assemble for his Worship to keep Holy the Sabbath Day to maintain family religion and secret prayer and to honor our high and holy vocations by lives of piety toward God and benevolence toward our fellow man, and so do now join ourselves into this church and covenant to walk with it in brotherly love and faithfulness according to the rules given us in the holy word
Thus we do in humble dependence on God praying that he will enable us to be faithful and steadfast in thus covenant.

This is a covenant I came across in a church in rural Massachusetts.

I imagined the people in 1700 debating, deliberating, and diligently dedicated to making a working covenant
as a witness to their community and God.

What do we covenant to do with God's help in the 21st century church.

"We covenant to put loving care and compassion for one another and for all in our neighborhood ahead of anything or anyone, ahead of anything we believe, or any behavior we embrace.  We willfully and with discipline seat aside our creed whenever it gets in the way of love and compassion.  We commit to maintain our beliefs without letting those beliefs separate us from humanity and allow us to feel superior or right.  The highest nature of God in us helps us to live in loving compassion and in affirming attitudes toward all humanity regardless of anything.  To this end we covenant our selves with the help of God" 

Ok a bit wordy.  What would you add or delete.

Speak and Listen with Love and Undrestanding

Posted by Don Paine

How do I say what I honestly feel without hurting the one I love?

So I was asked to day.  So I said how do you not tell the one you honestly love what you honestly feel.
So often we either keep what we feel to ourselves because we do not want to hurt the one we love or we get so frustrated that we scream and rage at the person we love who then feels venom, not love and feels a victim, not cared for.

In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us to "speak the truth in love" so that we might contribute to maturity (growing up) and mutual respect.  I have pastored two churches for nearly 20 years and I never in any training or teaching had anyone nurture a way of being honest and forthright while remaining compassionate and calm.   I witnessed people saying things that were true in my judgment but they were saying them in hurtful ways with venom spilling out everywhere.  I also witnessed people holding truth back because they were afraid the person would not receive or respond well and they did not want to hurt them.  What no one saw is that giving truth without grace and withholding truth for fear of causing hurt both caused incredible hurt and presented a poor witness to the world.

So here is a shot.  Suppose I had a friend who did something really stupid that I wanted to call him on.  If I said "you were stupid" that night be true but it would be judgmental and cruel.  But if he was being a jerk and stupid I would not be a good friend if I just kept it to myself for fear that he would be hurt by or angry toward me.  However, if I said, "You know you are a good friend and a part of me knows you are smart and insightful many times so that is why it is so hard for another part of me to have heard you say what sounded to me, just plain stupid. Then again, a part of me might have heard you totally wrong or inferred something that you never intended but I want you to know it sounded stupid to some of my parts.
There is another part of me that wants and needs to be honest with you about how I feel while being open to understand your intention and concerns.

So do you hear the honesty spoken clearly and confidently but not arrogantly and demeaningly.  Do you hear the calmness that does not judge and the compassion that channels love and truth with grace?

Practice speaking truth in loving ways and watch the respect and maturity blossom before your eyes and in your spirit.

Sad and Serene day

Posted by Don Paine

Today, I attended my cousin's wife's funeral.  There was sadness in the air.  There was serenity all around everyone especially my cousin Ken and his son Steve and daughter Lauren.

Their pastor told the story of how, just months earlier, Lynn Ewell was a vibrant, faithful, always there Mom attending to her daughter, Lauren's wedding.  A fife and drum parade that usually blanketed another part of the little harbor town of Essex, CT was taking over and shutting down Main Street where the church was located.  A state police officer had stopped the limo with the wedding party.  Lynn told him it was her daughters wedding day and no parade of Fife and Drum Band was going to get in the way of her daughters wedding.  At the top of the hill the wedding party exited the limo and extended their parade in their wedding attire toward the church. As the parade of fife and drum Corp marched up the street, Mom and the wedding party marched down the street.

The pastor spoke of the inconsistencies of life.  You never know what is going to happen.  The inconsistencies meet head on the consistence and constancy of God;s love and grace regardless of anything.  The Fife and Drum Corp celebrating 1814 as history met the consistency of a Wedding of Love celebrating future.  The convergence of the past and the future meet in the present always.  In every present moment God;s grace is abundantly present.  God's presence is the consistency in all life's inconsistencies.

Whenever two opposing forces converge God's presence always wins.  Today life and death converged and life wins.  Mortality and immortality converge and immortality wins. Cancer of the body and communion of the saints converge and the communion of the saints wins.  The corruption and decay of the body meets the incorruption and transformation of the body and transformation wins. Life so short meets life everlasting and life everlasting wins. Earth and heaven converge and heaven wins. Hurts and healing converge and healing wins.  Loss and Love converge and Love wins.

There is one absolute truth:  God is love and Love triumphs over all, in all, through all, and to all.

Lynn is sending another message:  No parade of fife and drum or anything will stop the parade of God's love that welcomes you home where there is healing, wholeness, and consistent loving presence forever and ever Amen.

later on in the day as we drove to the cemetery there was some rain, then some sun, then some rain, then some sun, then we gathered at place where Lynn's loving body would be placed with love in the earth.  As the pastor offered consistent consolation and comfort of God's presence, it began to rain harder and harder until a deluge forced everyone closer together under the canopy.  When the pastor completed the service a voice said, "I think Lynn is again speaking, 'huddle up, get closer together be there for each other".  When the sun is shining enjoy.  When the stormy rain comes consistently draw closer together and find God close at hand.  Consistently right there through all the inconstancies of life.

"And Lo I am with you even unto the end" and in the end we discover that there is no end.  Amen.  Thanks be to God!

The Jesus I now know

Posted by Don Paine

 When serving as a pastor here in Albany, Pineview Community Church (1986-1995), my focus was always on loving and caring for people, introducing then to the peace of God that passes human understanding, and offering this as a witness to God’s love to transform, through faith in Jesus, anyone’s life into “abundant living”.  I still believe all of that and live and preach it.   At the same time I do not believe that anyone has the right to define the “Jesus way” as any particular ecclesiastical or theological way that is itself exclusive, excluding, and elitist.  Jesus was none of that.  Jesus was inclusive, including and humble to the point of sacrificing his life rather than to win a point and thereby to make a point.  The point Jesus made is often lost in the ecclesiastical and theological garb in which we religiously robe ourselves.  I did.  I met Jesus in the most deeply painful places of my life and learned that it is about being “willing to sacrifice” all my agendas and all the conditions I want to put on how God works and witnesses to people.  To not restrict or define how God leads people to a life of sacrifice, surrender, and serenity.
The Jesus way is the way of sacrifice, surrender, and serenity.  The Jesus way is the way of inner peace, that leads me to live in peace with all people that is serenity.  It is also the way the surrenders “my way, however I define my way” to “the way” which is the way of “peace and love”.  This way is a way of unconditional love and agenda free loving.  Compassion without conditions and without agenda is not religious as much as it is spiritual.  Spiritual can be assisted by religion but religion does not produce spirituality.

John Lennon sang a song, “Imagine”.  In it here asked us to imagine “no religion” as a way to imagine living in love and peace, "living as one".  The reason behind that line is that religion is so often a part of the hostility in the world.  In the name of “truth and right” we have become untruthful and wrong.  Not in what we believe but in what we believe about others who believe differently.

I used to believe that my belief, about who Jesus was and is, was correct and I had to correct everyone else who had a wrong or at least faulty understanding of Jesus.  I was sincere in my love and concern for the “lost”.  What I was blind to was that I was lost in being right and correcting others which fed my ego needs more than clearly represented a God of love.  The God of love and peace, sent Jesus in love and peace into a world of anger, violence, and blindness.   Jesus confronted the people who thought they were right about what they thought about God and yet lived inconsistent with what they knew.  In the 21st Century I believe Jesus is again asking us to, set aside the parts of us that feel like our theology or ecclesiology are right, and embrace the an inner peace that is agenda free, a love that is unconditional, and a belief system that welcomes everyone regardless of anything into a community of faiths that embrace these three qualities of God and of Christ.  Namely, the qualities of serenity, sacrifice and surrender are the way of love and the way of Jesus.

The way of Jesus is not some particular ecclesiastical or theological or religious way.
The Jesus way is the way of being willing to sacrifice, surrender and serenity.  Many if not all religions of the world teach this way but do not call it the “Jesus way”.  This may actually be because we who hold to faith in Jesus have represented the Jesus way in such a narrow exclusive and self-serving way that the true Jesus was unrecognizable. 

Wise as serpents and Harmless as Doves

Posted by Don Paine

What a way with words, as Jesus introduces a different frame for how to think and act:
Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves!

Serpents are fiery manipulative dart throwers.  They sting and get stung.  They will do anything to win. They are slippery and sliding everywhere as they plot and plan how to achieve their goals. They are relentless and resilient in their dogged dedication to win. They think about getting there target.  They plan for it and scheme for it.   They are clever and focused.  They are willing to risk life and limb to get their mission accomplished.  They are wise planners, preparers, and perseverant.  So we are to be wise, in plotting, planning and focus, just like that but without the "win at any cost" part.  That part of the serpent is not wise for it sabotages itself. The wisdom of the serpent is to plan, persistently work, and persevere toward the goal of the highest calling.

We are also to be as harmless as doves.  Doves are sitting ducks for a fiery serpent.  They dive into the water and fly up to the sky.  They are vulnerable and versatile, vibrant and valiant.  The dove is a symbol of movement, of purity, of searching, and of surrendering.  The strength of the dove is to see and embrace its vulnerability as the strength in weakness.  They are harmless and in their harmless state they are vulnerable and victorious in their courage to be weak and strong.

Jesus is the Lion of Judah with the strength and courage of that image of a lion.  Jesus is also the Lamb of God vulnerable and sacrificing, with the strength that is willing to surrender and sacrifice.

In Native American thought we read:  "There is nothing so gentle as real strength, nothing as strong as true gentleness."

So be wise like a serpent and harmless as a dove and you will have the characteristics of a servant.

Self evident truth

Posted by Don Paine

We hold these truths to be self evident:

All created beings are created with the right to exist and the responsibility to expand their world view to be maturely responsive and mutually respectful to all created beings in creative ways. Maturity and mutuality create a sustainable world by abstaining from the desire to win, restraining the deference to others and the preference of self and constraining the fear of
Loss.  Letting the higher Self be the balance for the human self creates a valiancy for all.

The inalienable rights of each must include the inalienable responsibility to others.  The prelude to true freedom is to give up the right to act irresponsibly.  

The inalienable rights are:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.    

From the Jesus perspective:  that you might have life most abundantly

The inalienable responsibilities are:

Appreciate others while nor depreciating oneself

To be respectful toward all persons,places, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, ideas, and things.

Perspecitives and Perceptions. change everything

Posted by Don Paine

I read a devotional this am on forgiveness and responsibleness. Instated that Moses had sinned against God by tapping the rock instead of just speaking to it. He would not be allowed to entered into the promised land because of this. Really. The author credited Moses with being responsible odor his actions and being forgiven but he was still not allowed into the promised land. This did not diminish His sense of the love of God for him or his forgiveness. True. It appears to me that his sin was that he modeled for the people a casual attitude about God's directive. When God in his grace offers us living waters there is nothing we have to do except drink. We ask for the living water and God gives it. When we think we have to do something was miss the flow of living waters. We miss the "promised land" of blessing. The people will go into Canaan years from now. They will do so not by their raising a stick but by walking in obedience to God's word. And years later (Deuteronomy 34) God told Moses to go to Mt Nebo, hike to the top, and you will die there. The Moses who learned to take God at his word did so. He was in for a surprise. God picked this spot for Moses so he could see in the distance the Land of Canaan, the promised land. Moses' heart was overcome with gratitude for the grace he was shown. Moses was thankful as this was the loving God of forgiveness and grace in action. Moses also knew it was not about Moses but about a faithful forgiving and loving God. Moses was delighted to see what The people of God had in store for them and that he had had a part in leading them to that point even if he did not go win. He rejoiced in the goodness of God and then died in happy contentment. Some have had the idea that God showed him the land to punish him and remind him that his sin had kept him from entering the land. Really? That is not my perspective Rather that God knew Moses would feel thrilled and forgiven if he s what he had led the people to. God's grace is amazing especially God leads us home. God is always leading us and his faithfulness and loving kindness is always at work. We all make mistakes and sometimes forfeit things in doing so. We are never outside of the loving kindness and the compassionate forgiveness of God.

Outrage is Powerful when it Promotes Peace and Love

Posted by Don Paine

Outrage is Powerful when it Promotes Peace and Love

What things are happening in your world that cause you to be indignant or just plain "outraged".

This morning as I was driving to work I listened to a spot in NPR on a new book rather a small pamphlet written by a 93 year old veteran of War and Life.  His name: StephanTime for Outrage! is the English translation of the bestselling tract Indignez-vous ! by the German-born French diplomat, member of the French Resistance and concentration camp survivor St├ęphane Hessel.[1] Published in France in 2010, it has sold nearly 1.5 million copies in France and has been translated into numerous[edit]

The 93-year old author starts with a brief reference to his participation in the French Resistance at the end of the Second World War, pointing out that outrage was at its roots. The author asserts that indifference is the worst of attitudes. He speaks of his experience among the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and exhorts young people to look around for topics of indignation. He then presents his own principal indignation at present, the strife in Palestine, the Gaza strip and the West Bank. He ends the tract by calling for non-violent action and for a peaceful uprising against the powers of finance capitalism.

Indifference and the loss of passion are signs that should be a catalyst for action.  I found myself complaining about many things and this thought challenged me to "act with intention".  Resistance may be futile but so is indifference.  In Revelation 3:21 we are told that God prefers that we be hot or cold but luke warm is nauseating to God.  I was walking in an airport on my way to catch a transfer flight and found myself walking next to a soldier.  I thanked him for serving our country.  We talked for a while.  He told me that the could not get the smell out of his nose.  That he had smelt things he never knew of before and now he cannot get the smell out.  He would stop and smell flowers anything but the smell remains.  I had great compassion and support for what he was doing.  I was outrafged that we have not found a better way to bring peace to our world.  Why war?  Why put a smell in a young mans nose that he will never get out of his memory.  He can unburden that part but it will always be there.  I am outraged.  It is nauseating to me

In an interview regarding the Israel Palestinian issue he commented that he was outraged at the behavior of Israel that is inconsistent with the essential teachings of the Talmud and Torah.  He is not anti-Israel he is just pro-peace and deference and anti-indifference and indignation.  I join him in being outraged at some of what i hear in the media and in churches that is inconsistent with the essential teachings of Jesus.

Love your neighbor as you love and care for your self. Be outraged by anything that treats anyone regardless of anything with anything but love and out of anything but peace.  Do something say something live love and kindness toward someone today because they deserve it regardless of anything and especially if you think they do not deserve.

"Esteem others as better, more deserving, than yourself" (Philippians. 2:6)  and be kind and tender hearted toward all just as God for Christ sake was tenderhearted and compassionate toward you (Epheisans 4:32).
Be outraged by judgment, condemnation, and inconsistency and embrace all in love and peace.