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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God is Good

Posted by Don Paine

With natural calamities all around us and when locally a fire destroys a home and leaves a grandmother in the hospital in critical condition with burns over most of her body it is hard to say "God is good".

Tragedies are not good no matter what they are.  God does not control these events nor can God prevent them.  However God is present to help us through the heartache and body ache.

This woman lays in an ICU hovering between this world and the next.  She raises the issue of keeping her alive which the doctors are committed to do and letting her die without heroic measures to keep her alive in her suffering.   Euthanasia proponents would offer a third alternative, assist her peaceful dying.  Euthanasia is from the greek word for mercy killing.  Agathanasia, is the from the greek word for good death.  Psalm 116:15 says "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints".  Death is good when it ends our suffering and transfers our bodies form a state of pain to a state of eternal pleasure where there is nor crying or pain.  Death is not good as it steals life, grandmothers, loved ones away from us.  The death canal leads to eternal life and that is good.  God did not keep this from happening and that is not good.  It happened and that is not good.  God is present in death as in life and that is good.  God is present for Sharon.  God is present for you.  God is present for all.  God is present to comfort all who mourn. God is also present to pour something good into life and help us to find good in everything.  God does not do things for good.  God helps us to find good in all things.

"And God saw everything he had made and said it is "very good"

An Eye for an Eye

Posted by Don Paine

Years ago Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".  Who am I to add to or change the brilliant man's idea.  At the same time, an eye for an eye world creates a world of one eye people as you need at lest one eye to see to pluck another's eye out.  So "one eye" produces one way seeing and thinking in the world.  It does not allow for diverse ways of seeing the world it see "one way" its way and no one else's.  This is what is worse than a blind world, a world in which everyone sees in their way and cannot see the way another culture or people views the same thing.

I recall my kids singing in a musical in church as youth, "I trouble", "eye trouble" me myself and I trouble.
We cause most of our own trouble in the world then want God to make it all okay.  Really.  What if we all set aside our ego needs and wants and embraced our responsibility to see with eyes wide open, with eyes that had lost one eye but see with multi-vision from the light side.

An eye for an eye attitude leaves the world in conflict as the eyes do not respect other eyes but want to be done with them . Each eye wants to be the most important part. Each eye must see the other eye, respect its ideas, thoughts and vision.  The "I am who I am" must see and respect the "You are who you are".  Only then, when mutual respect is present will every human beings see their responsibilities as equally important as their rights.

Open eyes, open heart, open ears, open lives lead to "peace" that comes not through military power and dominance but through mature responsibility and mutual respectfulness.

Thank You

Posted by Don Paine

Nicholas D. Kristof wrote in the Berkshire Eagle (March 28, 3011 p. A6), "This may be a first for the Arab world:  An American airman who bailed out of over Libya was rescued form his hiding place in a sheep pen (in which his parachute had landed him) by villages who hugged him, served him juice, and thanked him effusively for bombing their country".  It is one thing to engage in military operations due to your own agenda it is another when you are responding to the cry of the people for help.

When I say I am helping you but you have not asked for my help two things happen:  1) you do not appreciate my help and 2) you are not really helped.  The truth is I am in a pretense of helping helping myself.  When I am asked to be helpful and am helpful in the way the asker needs then appreciation follows.

the villages though a "Thank You Party" because they did appreciate the help.  What a better world it would be if we all learned to listen and help people in the way they want or need to be helped rather than/  You would be served and we would be appreciated.

I said thank you to someone today.
It changed them. It changed me.
It might bring change in your and my world if we all served each other and were therefore appreciative of each others service.  Maybe that is the point of the Golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

Throw a thank you party somewhere for someone!

Walking in the valley of Death

Posted by Don Paine

This morning I am traveling to CT to share a story at a life long friend's funeral.  For 24 years he has been a friend full of grace and truth.  He spoke truth to me even when I did not want to hear it.  I did the same for him.  He lived grace toward me for all those years.  I can only home I speak truth and grace into some people's lives the way he did to and for me.

I honor him, Forrest Hart.  I have been in the shadow of death myself for 18 months following the sudden death of two people within 10 days of each other, my brother, Phil and my co-presenter, friend and colleague, Karen.  I learned so much in that valley of the shadow of death.  One thing I learned is that the death canal like the birth canal is a transfer from one form of existence to another.  It is dark but it leads to new life because life is already present and is eternal.  The second thing I learned in renewing ways is,  I do not fear , not because I am so strong or confident but because God is "with me".   God is more with us in death and in the move to heaven than ever before.  God is with us all of us no matter what happens no matter where we are and no matter what is happening to us.  God's eternal presence is just that eternally present.

I always believed that, now I know that.

God be "with" you.  (Hopefully your response: and also with you)

Balance is the key

Posted by Don Paine

I have so much to do and not enough time to do "the much".  This means that I have too much to do and all that business can dilute or pollute the essence of who I am and how I want to live.  What legacy do I want to live to my children and grandchildren.

Taking time "to be" is more important than finding more time "to do".  It is even more important than taking things off the plate of my day.  It is about establishing and living with priority to human relations and human interactions.  I love being with people because I love people because it appreciates them and me at the same time. If people do not feel that it is probably because I am too busy doing things for people so they appreciate me rather than being with people to appreciate their living.

This morning in our Youth Sunday School class someone raised the issue of a poster that had these word, "Jesus is coming get busy, look busy".  It led to a discussion of how Christian living can be pretense.  Acting one way when someone is looking or to get benefit rather than become the person who lives in authentic ways before people.  It is not about business it is about being about the business of prioritize our lives around being rather than doing.  Our doing will then come out of our being rather than trying to impress by our pretense we will impress because of our loving care expresses in authentic and genuine ways.

Wake up, and smell....

Posted by Don Paine

I was up late last night watching March Madness Basketball.....so now I am awake in a new day and know it is not just about basketball.

I saw a quote from Alice Walker who has walked through and I do mean through "the hell of her abuse an pain at the hand of supposed care givers".  She said, "wake up and smell the possibilities".   I wake up to the possibilities of a new day because I have found rest for my soul.  Rest is so good.  When God created us and saw that it was all good (Genesis 1:31).  And God saw everything that he had made and saw that it was very good".

Honestly, it is hard for me to see everything that happens or that is as "very good".   But that is not what I now in my "awake state of possibilities" see.  It is that whatever is fits and flows with whatever else is.  I see good in it and I work to pour good into it.  To do that I need to find "rest for my soul".  I need to wake up and see the world differently because I have rested my "thoughts about what should be" into God's thoughts of the wonder of possibilities.  I can smell them because God has given me a fresh sense.

Now that makes sense.  I rest in the possibilities when I smell them.  I get my nose out of other smells and smell the fragrance of God's presence that  changes all things.  It is not that all things are very good it is that all things become very good for and in me!

I rest.  I smell.  I live. I love. I am.

Not totally holding on or totally letting go - the balance of control

Posted by Don Paine

Imagine if God gave up all control and involvement in the creation.   WE would be left to fend for ourselves without any involvement of any kind.  Some would say that this is the deist position that God created the world and then left it to its own devices.  How divisive and derisive that would be.   We would suffer abandonment so would have an inability to attach to anyone as we would feel "unworthy".  At the same time if God took over control and dictated or directed all things then we would be only "puppets on a string".   God chose the middle and healthy and holy position to be involved but not absent nor controlling.

After seeking after as a "seeker" God, GOd provided a covering for their nakedness so that they could feel cared for and prepared for their new journey into.

I thank God for the covering of presence in all situations regardless of anything for God is love! I am loved. I am to be loving.

The wonder of love is wonderful.

Letting go of control is the greater power

Posted by Don Paine

Humanity thinks it is all about mastery.  It feeds our egos to control.

When God created the world and gave the created beings freedom of choice, God let go of the power of controlling the world in favor of inviting the world to choose to let go of their desire to control and fear of being controlled and embrace the God of Mystery.  Mastery gives way to mystery which his the mastery of the inner world not the outer world.

In Genesis 3 when humanity used their freedom of choice to begin a downward spin God remained the "I am who I am".  While Adam and Eve were effected and infected by their own actions, God was remained the same.  Adam and Eve proceeded to blame and shame each other, to go into hiding, and to separate themselves from God.  They tried to control their world and only made matters worse.   God, alternately, came into the garden as God had done so many times before with calmness, and the same love, care, and compassion.  He asked in a curious way, "Adam where are you".  God asked this not because God did not know where Adam was but because Adam did not know where he was or how he got there.  He was scared so he hid.  God was calm and compassionate so God came seeking to help.

Imagine what would have happened if Adam and Eve stayed at their home and when God came into the grade they were there saying to God, "God are we glad to see you,  We think we blew it yesterday as we ate of the tree you told us to not eat of and as you said we feel different not so sure way but knew that you would come to help us figure it out.  So we are glad to see you!"  To do this they would have had to give up their fear, their desire to control, and open their hearts to know and experience true love.

As Dr. Gerald Jamboski, in a book with the same title, said, "Love Is Letting Go of Fear".  Let go of the desire to master others or outside things and invite yourself  to walk in the mystery of letting go.  Living in love and peace requires you to let go of control and embrace love and peace.

Who is in control part 2

Posted by Don Paine

Is this God speaking or me, I am not sure:

I know that if God was in control he would create amore just, fair and equitable society and I also believe that one day in a new heaven and earth God will be in control.  So ultimately God is in control.  But for now and here on earth God is not in control.

God is in "self control" as reflected in that, that is one aspect of the collective fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). He is not in control nor does God desire to be in control of the physical universe.  God is however responsive to and involved in the created physical world.  Ultimately God is in control.  But here and now God is not in control as God has given control of this world over to its own choice. The will that is done in heaven will one day be done on earth, but it is in the now, not so much.

God is not in control of events that occur but God is in control of being involved in and not intrusively controlling.  God controls involvement in the events but does not direct the events.

When the earthquake hit Japan, God was not controlling that moment in time nor sending devastation into the lives and families of Japan.  God is good not that he sends good things our way and bad when he sends bad things our way.  I am not bad when God sends bad things my way or good when God things come my way.. Things good and bad come my way because it is the nature of good things and bad things to come my way.  My only choices are to be thankful for the good things and not take them for granted and to be creative in the bad things looking for ways to creative find good in the bad things.  Making the best of the worst of times and never taking the best of times for granted is a discipline of life and faith.  God, Romans 8 tells us, is in the business of drawing and designing creative ways of pour goodness into whatever happens and drawing goodness our of whatever happens.  Those who love God and live according to the purposes of God know that God's purpose is to nurture goodness in whatever happens in the world.  It is not good that people die in tragedy but God enters the tragedy and creatively a helps us find good in it or draw good out of it. The discipline of "self-control" is a quality of God that every event challenges us to embrace.  When good things happen we can think it is God's affirmation, and when bad things happen we can imagine it is displeasure but truly it is neither.  It is a call for us to remain humble and thankful for the good things.  It is a call to be humble and disciplined when bad things happen.

When I give up trying to control others and learn to control my temptation to judge others I am learning the discipline of self-control.  Who is in control of you?  You are.  Who is in control of the events that happen, no one.  You are in control of how you respond to whatever happens.

I wise young man passed on to me something that he learned along the road of living.  The simp[lest and most profound truth i snot made up of big words or complex ideas.  It is a series of 10, two letter words that empower people to see that they are in control of their now and their future:  "If it is to be it is up to me".  God is at you side to help and nurture your growth not to do things against you or for you.

Let God be God and learn to be you!

Who is in control?

Posted by Don Paine

With natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, and human disasters like political protests and violence all over the globe who is in control.

Control is a major issue of humanity.  People like to be in control and no one likes being controlled.  No wonder the world is on a collision course.  Some believe that God is in control and so they say things like: It is God's will?  Really?  Do we seriously believe that it is God;s will for human tragedy to occur daily, for families to be ravaged by war or earthquakes?  What kind of a God would do that or even allow that.

I know that people for centuries have believed and lots of religions have taught that God is in control.  I also know it is risky to take a different position than the masses.  My bet is that people not theologians secretly know that there is something wrong with theology that teaches that God is in control.  If they are wrong it has set us all up.  If they are right they have set God up to be either an unconcerned diplomat or a calculating and obsessed control monger.

I am part of a denomination that believes God is still speaking in our day.  I do not think God is speaking anything new but I do think God is speaking through people who honesty assess and are open to truth.  Not new truth but a new perspective on old truths that creates clarity, clarifications, and more sensible teachings for a sound mind in our chaotic times.

We project as Freud suggested a God is in control father image so we can feel less threatened and less anxious only to find ourselves in a depressive anxious state. But if God is not in control who is?

How would you answer that.  I will control myself and hold my thoughts until tomorrows blog entry.  For now give it some thought yourself?

I will speak on this tomorrow!

Hats on Hats off

Posted by Don Paine

Yesterday we went to see Crowns at a local reparatory theater.  The theme was that hats are like crowns that we wear on our heads that tell people something about us or protect us in some way.  "Hats are like people sometimes they Reveal and sometimes they Conceal".    Scripture tells us that all who love God receive a crown that reveals our love relationship with God.  The play had a young woman whose brother was shot finding a way to reveal her pain and connect with her brother and her ancestors through a hat that did not conceal her pain but healed her heart.  The same hat revealed a deep connection beyond this world to her brother.

I thought, how do we know when we are using our hats to conceal our pain and our feelings and when we are using hats to connect and reveal deeper truths of our heart and soul.  I realized that sometimes I put a hat on to conceal my pain and sometimes I put a hat on to connect and reveal my heart. A hat can be anything and can represents many things.

I will look at people and hats differently starting today.

Hats off to a great performance and a great show!  Thank you. Hats on to go out into the cold world today.

Who will end the violence?

Posted by Don Paine

Tragedies happen every day that are out of our control, like the earthquake in Japan.  Other atrocities are humanity doing violence to other members of humanity.
While President Mubarak was being removed form power in Egypt two young people were dating.  One happened to be a Christian the other a Muslim.  The Muslin girl's father was told by the priest in the village of Sohl, Egypt said that he should kill his daughter for such sacrilege.  The next day the priest's church was torched.  Violence produces violence.  When point and counter point cycle dominates the point that everyone gets is a sharp destructive. point.  If we could tip the arrow on its down side,  the > (arrow) becomes a "V" chalice of surrender.  This is at the heart of the Christian transformation message.  The only thing that will ever transform a violent world into a world of peace is when each of us see the evil inside of us and as forgiveness for that evil "defend attack" part.  When we see and heal the axis of evil inside of us we will never see clearly that it is not about the axis of evil in our enemy but in us.   Yet  the defend attack part in us is just human not evil.  What is evil is to be blind to our part in securing peace.  To naively and blindly see the problem in :them not us".

Additionally we need to see that the system of religion that fosters an over and against, win-lose, orientation is "systemically sick".  The chalice of surrender suggests that when we surrender the goal to change the other person but shift to challenging the system to shift dynamically we are on the road to peace.  It is not about conquest.  It is about surrender.

Equality, Are all people created equal?

Posted by Don Paine

I go into a doctors office for treatment and I know that while all doctors were educated and passed a licensing test not all doctors were created equal.  I see a homeless person and I wonder about the story of his life and how he became homeless.  I realize that not all homeless people are equal.  the idea that we are all equal is quite absurd.  We are born into different families some with advantages some with other advantages.  I realize that what is an advantage in some ways can be a disadvantage in other ways.  There are inequities all around us and to blindly say that there are none and that we are all equal is absurd.

At the same time we all have a right and a responsibility to treat each other and be treated by each other with respect and care and we all have an equal and unalienable right to life, liberty. and pursuit of happiness.  We then have to be stewards of assuring all of God's creation has equal opportunities while we are not created equal.  We are all recipients of a body that we did not select, a family that we did not choose, a socioeconomic status that we did no select, and a religious orientation that was handed to us.

Where we are equal is in our rights to liberty, freedom,  and the pursuit of happiness.  Let us serve to help that become true for more people around us because ]we believe in that principle

After you die

Posted by Don Paine

I was driving down the highway and saw a bulletin board that announced, "after you die you will meet God".  I wondered the intent of the writer and dispenser.  Does it elicit fear or enhance faith.  I thought of an earlier time in my life when I thought of death and standing before God as a time of judgment.  After death the scripture does tell us there is judgment. "It is appointed to man once to die and after that judgment" (Paul).  I recalled a woman who I visited in the nursing home who had decided that she was ready to die which was upsetting to family and friends who wanted her to stay here on earth with them.  That was really more about them than her.  She said tome with eyes of excitement and anticipation, "I am ready to meet my maker".  I said to her, that I hear that her maker is a really neat person to meet.  We both laughed a laugh of genuine anticipation.

An evangelist once asked me, if you  were to die and go to heaven's gate and God were to ask you why he should let you into his heaven.  What would you say.  I would say, I cannot think of one good reason why you should let me k=into your heaven as I accept your judgment of me as being undeserving of heaven but I also have a part that understands that your heart is open to receiving me into your heaven so I trust in your love for me.

So I would like to amend the billboard for clarity, in honor of this nameless woman whose name is written in heaven.

After you die you will be welcomed by the God whose loving arms welcome everyone!"

The Puritans Gift

Posted by Don Paine

Last Sunday we began a discussion group on this book and the topic of Economics and the Christian message.  As I sat listening to the presentations and discussions I mused about the four characteristics of the Puritans ideas on the relationship of economics and spirituality.

Adam Smith views on economic theory was discussed as the proponent of competition as the means of driving a developing economy forward.  The idea is that competition, good and healthy competition causes some to excel because of hard work, industry and initiatives.  However the result of Smith's drivers is to polarize society.   The rich and successful get richer and the losers get poorer and feel more a failure.  Competitions reward for the successful is wealth the punishment for the unsuccessful is mediocrity at best poverty at worse.  I wondered why there was not discussion of John Nash who years later introduced a more cooperative form of economic theory.  It suggested that when people work together for a common good or interest the "working together" drives the economy of everyone for everyone upward.  I sat there wondering why John Nash whose theory is more consistent with my idea of Christianity.  Namely, that which teaches us in  Philippians 2:4, "to look out for the interests of others without neglecting our won self-interests.  Cooperative interest sharing that pays mutually sustainable and sustaining growth in both the economic and social.  Cooperatively and collaboratively working together so together everyone profits is more Christian than a competition based model.  However the very idea that has produced fragmentations and fracturing of churches is that we all compete trying to say and maintain that while God loves everyone, "we are his favorite".  Competition is inherent in cultural Christianity but not in true Christianity.  there cooperation, collaboration and communion over rule the competitive model.  Working together we can make things better.

Perhaps that is the Puritans Gift. Working together pays higher dividends because it nurtures widespread interest.  The ethics of working hard and the ethics of working for everyones betterment are the ethics of the puritans.  Can it be that ethics of Christians in our day.

Cooperation, collaboration, and compassion create the web of and for community.

A simple thank you will do

Posted by Don Paine

I received a letter from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Center.  I opened the letter that said "Thank You" for raising funds for Fred's Team and Cancer Research.  I love when people say thank you for something I have done.  Don't you!  There are not enough thank you's in our world.  The letter went on to ask for "more money".  I hate that.  They cannot just say thank you.  They have to say thank you can't you give more.  The UCC denomination that I am a part of has a slogan that says, "Do not put a period where God has put a comma".  I would add, "Don't put a comma where God has put a period."

Why can they not just say "Thank YOU" and realize that saying "thank you." would have a greater impact on getting more funds rather than thinking that you have to ask for more or you won't get more.
The power of gratefulness is great!

I love raising money for Cancer Research.  I have been a member of Fred's team since its inception.  I love doing the marathon to raise money for Cancer Research.  But I hate that it is never enough.  There cannot be just a "thank You".  That is not true.  There can be just a thank you but only if when shown gratitude we give as never before.

So put a period after :  "Thank You".  No thank you but, and, so on.

Thank you.

What is truth

Posted by Don Paine

I woke up this morning in a dilemma. My respectful part told me to do one thing and my responsible part told me to do the opposite.  Truth is like that.  It is about being honest about the dilemma in a sense speaking truth from both parts to all other parts of me.  When I make a choice it negates a part of me unless I am honest about both parts of me.

In human interactions whether inside my own head or in relationship with others, truth is elusive.  All human interactions are governed by quadratic truth.  All truth has three other versions of truth that are not addressed or attended to that creates our, less than truthful, culture.

In the laws of motion (Newton) there is clarity of a responsive universe.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Additionally there are auxiliary reactions.  What this means is for every decision and idea there are three other minority opinions that go unvoiced. An illustration is for any issue there are 4 positions of response, reaction, over-reaction, under-reaction.  Bill Moyers has an incredible influence on the issue of truth in his "Speaking truth to Power" program.  There is a crisis of truth in our day.  Speak truth.  What a simple statement.  Don't put a comma where there is a period.  Do you speak truth?  Do I speak truth?

When I resolve my dilemma by choosing one truth is that "my truth" or is it my choice to say no to three other alternatives all of which have value and worth.  Maybe if we could do that with out truth we could treat all people with value and worth as God created them.  All people are God's creation.  All moments of decision call me to be true to all my parts of view and then to live out my decision not just to make a decision but to be truthful about all parts of me that were in play in making that decision.

Make your decision to live in and out of truth from all sides.

Immigration and border controls and the Bible

Posted by Don Paine

I was at a conference a couple days ago and the focus was attempting to find a Biblical Lens on which to base law and policy regarding the control of our borders and the issue of fairness and justice.  While the speaker indicated a difference between cultural lens for policies verses a Biblical lens, no clear definition for Biblical Lens was given.  As I reflected on how the Biblical Lens idea has been used to subjugate and treat people unfairly I mused that we could develop an "Image of God Lens".  The image of God lens would look at all people as created by God with certain inalienable rights: like the pursuit of happiness, liberty and justice.  The border patrol between heaven and earth clearly represents an invitation for all to come and be welcomed but they must accept the terms and conditions of entry.  We are always to remember what it feels like to be un-welcomed and in the spirit of that welcome all people.  The image of God lens treats all people as having equal rights of entry and is fair and just.  The rules and roles of the organizing body must be consistent with the covenant of love and grace available to all.

Too Narrow a Way

Posted by Don Paine

I was trying to fit through a narrow opening this morning and thought about the "harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven" passage.  I thought wow.  I realized that this passage often understood as anti-riches is not about that at all.  Living thinly is not about size or weight it is about baggage excess hurt and pain that we carry that we try to care for by getting things like money popularity etc.  They all get in the way of living on earth as beings live in heaven.  In heaven everyone is free from baggage.  I recalled the story of a rich man who lined his coffin with gold anticipating it s value in heaven.  When he arrived and St Peter asked him why he brought all this stuff with him.  He commented stuff this is gold!  Peter responded yeah I know we use it to pave the streets here in heaven.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about thin slicing as a way to size up people or situations or things.  Maybe we should live "thinly" with the same perspective.

Epic Failing what a tradition

Posted by Don Paine

Just saw the posting of an epic failing conference for pastors who love to fail successfully.  Well not exactly.  Fear of failure often has us all stay in our caves or cocoons.  We die there instead of breaking new ground.  this is breaking new ground idea that I applaud.  Way to go!  I look forward to going.

I have been in a deep depression for 18 months following the sudden deaths of my brother (62) and co-visionary in IFS and Christian Truth (52).  I felt a total failure for these 18 months and 4 weeks ago through a series of 7 things in seven days God helped me to see in the darkness of my depression the light.  I did not have to step out of the darkness just notice that while I felt alone and abandoned I was neither alone or abandoned.  He was in the darkness with me.  Ex 20:21.  I am renewed, restored, re-energized, and re-visited.  I have a story to tell.  the story is of God being present with me always even the most when known the least.  The Footsteps Story is changed for me.  There are times that God carries us through things (old version).    There are times when it is our footprints in the sand and we see that He is in us having never left us or forsaken us even in the darkness.  I learned and am learning.