About Me

My photo
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.

Search This Blog

Stories of the Wounded Head meet Stories of the Healed Heart- Part 1

Posted by Don Paine

I was with a person who was very troubled by events in his life that we overwhelming.  He had been judged badly and cruelly, I think, by people who had been treated badly and cruelly by him.

I met with him even though he had said some mean, judgmental and cruel things to me about me.  I asked him why he thought I was willing to meet with him given what he had said to me.  He was not sure.  I told him that I was there because I refused to let my life be directed by parts of me that are hurt, wounded or frustrated.  I choose to respond to people with "openheartedness" regardless of their behavior.  It is about me not about them.

As we met he told me the story in his head about what people had done to him, said about him, and how rejected and judged he felt.  After listening at length to his story.  I told him the reason I had chosen to meet with him is that I heard his attack of me as the expression of a hurt and wounded person who I wanted to see and hear, from an "open heartedness" that was about who I try to be.  I asked him if he could hear another story.  I told him a story using all the facts that he had used in his story with a different spin on it that was about people really caring about him but feeling very frustrated by him.  There actions toward him were from frustration as his actions toward them.  He was incensed.

I asked him a simple question, "Why do you believe and value the story inside your head and cannot see or value the alternate story in your head."

His head has been wounded so deeply that when he tries to speak for that wounded part to protect it or defend it, the result is perennial wounding.  The tragedy is that there is truth to both stories.  It is only about him.  the tragedy is that the other people's story is only about them.  This is what makes this conflict un-resolvable.  When stories of a wounded head meet stories of wounded heads there is only more head injuries and the heart can never feel heard or healed.

At the same time to invite a person to be healed in heart so they can not have to fight for their rights or cause sounds "counter productive".  Interestingly it is the only thing that will result in countering that is productive.

Cultivating an open heart is to nurture a healed heart.  For a heart to heal it has to give up its burden and beliefs from the wounds of the head.  The wounds of the head are real life head injuries.  The come from experience and from conclusions based on those experiences.  However stories based on a true story are not the true or full story ever.  The story behind the hurt or wounded head is the unheard or wounded heart.  It is only when the heart is healed that the head is relieved form it s burden.  No head convincing will do the work of the heart.  It is the work of the heart that is transforming.

I have a part that has learned the hard way this life lesson: Open your heart to hear the inner story of healing that is in you.

The DIvine SELF folded inside the human self

Posted by Don Paine

Unfolding the mysteries of the universe outside or inside is a formidable task to say the least.

This morning as I was waking and communing with God and the Self within, I began to review some of my journey over the last two years.  In particular the part of me that felt "unloved and un-lovable" was coming up strongly.

This part recalled that many times it sought to protect me by having me do things to impress people so I would get some attention or care that would make me fee lovable.  Upon successfully doing so it would feel a failure as the part that was getting attention got attention because of what it did no for who I was.  It was a whirlpool of sinking sands of thoughts and feelings.  Like sand in an hourglass it was going no where while moving.  I realized that the part that worked so hard was protecting the exiled part that felt unlovable.  This part reminded me that i was the one who reached out to my brothers, to friends, family. I did things to get the feeling of being loved only to feel unloved as that part said, they never called me or reached out reciprocally to me.  It concluded that the reason for this lack of loving back was because I was unloveable,  Furthermore the part alleged that I was just play acting care to get cared for.  This made me a phony, a failure, a fake, and a fraud.  As I invited the exiled part to come into the light of loving I realized something.

Before anything but God existed there was no light as there was no need for light.  Darkness was all that was.  In that darkness there was light and there was/is SELF.  SELF, divine self that is, was and is and ever shall be. This SELF is LOVE.  It is not needing to be loved so when God created the world it was not to get love it was for the experience of extend the nature of love beyond God into others.  God is primarily loving.  While God enjoys when creating is loving back God does not need that love as God is love.  God cannot get more of who God is. When God created the World he tucked the divine SELF of loving energy into the human soul self, and body.

God stepped outside of SELF without losing a sense of SELF.  I got outside of my self in trying to love others as I felt God called me to do only to lose my sense of Self.  I had reached to to my brother and others not as a phony or fake but as a genuine person of love. When I did not feel loved back, when no one seemed to reach out to me I concluded that I had no worth.  The problem was not the conclusion as much as the belief that I had to be loved by someone outside of me to feel lovable.  My worth was placed inside of me as the DIvine Self which i neglected to dee until with the eye of faith it become visible..  Indeed faith is seeing what no one else sees.  then choosing to live by faith not by sight.

Then it dawned in me.  When I am loving without the need to be loved back the exiled self that wants to be loved is loved from within therefore begins to settle into a state of balance and peace so feels loved.  The elusive need to be loved is surrendered not to the illusion of being loved but to the infusion of love itself.

The fear of not being loved or lovable surrenders to the faith that sees love inside and is comforted from the inside rather than conflicted by what is not inside.  The Divine SELF is the wisdom of God inside.  The Kingdom of God is within you and me, so let's live it outside.

Being human is living outside of the Self without losing the sense of SELF.  AS John put it, "being in the world but not of the world".

An Hasidic legend

Posted by Don Paine

Recently, I read a Hasidic legend that spoke to me. I hope it speaks to you.

When God created human beings, the angels were jealous because God had endowed the humans with divine wisdom that would guide them through life. So the jealous angels conspired to hide this gift from the humans. "Let's take it to the peak of the highest mountain," said one. "No," said another, "Let's bury it at the bottom of the deepest sea." But the smartest angel of all said: "Let's hide divine wisdom deep inside each person. It's the last place they'll ever look."

There are those who believe in "original sin" or the Freudian concept that man is "poly-morphously Perverse".  Others maintain that humanity is basically good, Jungian "original blessing".  Some religious people feel that there is no wisdom inside yet Jesus taught "the kingdom of God is within you".  People invariably look outside of themselves for help, identity, validation, even redemption none of which change the basic frustration of humanity in fact often this search outside oneself for meaning or reality adds to frustration.  Those who learn to "go inside" to seek inner wisdom often find it.

Religion often proposes and external redeemer yet when the redeemer is resident behavior and beliefs that impact living in peace and harmony are seldom changed.

What is it were both.  What if inside all of us is "inner wisdom", that "we are loved and that we are loving" so we need not struggle nor add to the frustration of living by looking outside for affirmation and validation.  This is not living without respect to others but in deed with respect to all people and things.  What if the role of external redeemers were to place in us the "jump start" that we need because we do not believe there is wisdom inside.  So the external redeemer helps us to redeem a sense of who we are and that wisdom exists inside.  The kingdom of God is within you.  The redeemer is inside and outside and all around you.

Then we could live from the inside out to all those around us the love and peace that is inside.

True wisdom is everywhere we just need to get out of our preoccupation with other things and focus on love and peace.

Eyes of faith see more not less, see less not more

Posted by Don Paine

When you look at someone, what do you see.  What is in your eyes.  What do people see in your eyes.

I sat with a caring person who has a great heart for God and people, for truth and justice, for righteousness and freedom.  We agreed on the heart of God being for people, and that People want to know and experience the power of the resurrection.  Rising to newness of life in Christ is living in the power of the resurrection.

We disagreed on one important issue.  He wanted to use shame and blame and guilt to lead people to repentance.  When I quoted Romans 2:8 that tells us that it is the "kindness of God that leads to repentance", he objected on the basis that we have to judge sin as sin and take a stand against sin in peoples life.  For him speaking truth into people's lives seemed to be connected to telling people where they are sinning to warn them of their wrong ways.

I agree that we dare not enter into categorizing behavior as ok if by that we mean, to make people feel no shame.  Shamelessness does not lead to Godliness. Neither does shamefulness lead to Godliness.  It is repentance that leads to Godliness and kindness that leads to repentance.  this is the Biblical formula.  The call to the believer, job description if you will, is to love God and to love our neighbors (all of them) as ourselves.  The job description for the Holy Spirit is to "convict the world concerning sin and guilt".  When we take on the work of the Holy Spirit we grieve the spirit.  When we love and leave the work of conviction to the Holy Spirit we grace people's lives.  The Holy Spirit does not need my help in judging.  But without my loving people the arms of God are not wrapped around people in tangible ways.

Some seems to want to condone behavior that needs no condoning, others want to condemn behavior and people that does not set those people free, the cross calls all of us to extend compassion and care to all regardless of anything.  The covenant is to love not to condone or condemn.  It is the Chalice of Covenant that extends compassion to all and rejects the roles of condoner or condemner.

Grace is not just unmerited favor it is bestowing favor on people before they deserve it, to draw them to the God of forgiveness and grace.

Are we a Christian Nation

Posted by Don Paine

Recently someone sent me an email stating that our president stated that American is no longer a Christian Nation.

The email was sent to generate emotional responses, to enlist protesters, and ultimately to plant a seed against the president being re-elected.  This puzzled and perplexed me at several levels.

My greatest concern is that we lose perspective and think of this statement in only one way.  One way thinking is the death blow to a healthy social contract and respectful community building.  It is the cyclops of criticism and is the absence of critical and cooperative thinking.

One way to hear this statement is that of an indication that we have moved form being a Christian nation to a secular nation.  It sounds like an announcement or pronouncement of a  "post-modern" if not "post-Christian" era.  While I hear that I think it is in error.

Another way to hear that is to deal with two realities without fear or threat (emotional triggers) hijacking that reality.  We have a moral and ethical foundation to our nation which is essentially fostered by a Christian world view inclusive of God loving and seeing value in all people and in diversity itself.  We began as a nation with a commitment to religious and social and economic freedom.  The principles of "liberty and justice", Christian principles were inherent in the nation.  So too was tolerance and embracing diversity.  We were never an exclusive or excluding Christina nation.  The pronouncement that we are not a Christian nation is more true even in our inception than a statement that we are a Christian nation.  If the highest ideal of a Christian nation is loving God and loving all of our neighbors without tension and contention.  We can be a nation founded on CHristian principles but not a Christian nation.  to think this way we have to remove the idea of dominance and control and exchange the idea of   sacrifice and surrender of control for the greater good.  Interestingly that sounds like a Christian principle.

It is about perspective and what you want to see.
Open eyes create a healthy world.  Closed eyes is about blindness that leads to destruction.

Perspective Shift

Posted by Don Paine

It is Monday morning.  The disciples are waking up with a whole new perspective.  They had failed. They had failed to hear God, to stand up with Jesus through his days of suffering, and they had failed to make what really matters matter.  Their perspective was changing from thinking about themselves is a self-protective way to thinking about others in a loving and caring way.  This was the way of Jesus.

 Some 1980 years later, I wake up.  You wake up.  Do we wake up with a new perspective.  On my morning walk I was thinking and praying for my children, my wife, my brothers, my mother you know the routine ending in praying for all people of earth.  A memory flooded my soul about my son.  He was about 12 and singing in a musical along with his sisters at the church his dad was pastor of.  The musical was "I Trouble", me myself and I trouble.  I reflected on that then realized we all have "I trouble, me myself and I trouble".  We see things in only one way, our way.  We taped that musical at church.  My son thinking about his desire to tape a sports event taped over that recording, thinking only of himself.  I got mod when I discovered it, thinking only about myself.  I reflected how brilliant my son was.  Had he not taped over it his dad probably would have played it at his wedding last November.  It would have been one of those most embarrassing moments.  Trust me my son and I, as people, have embarrassed ourselves in other ways over the years.  It is about perspective.

The disciples eyes were opening.  They were seeing things differently and so they were choosing to live there lives differently.  The eye of faith sees what no one else sees.  the eye of faith sees my "I trouble" and shifts into seeing myself and the worked in equally loving and caring ways.  It is never just about me. It is never just about them.

It is never just about what I think about anything.  It is always being able to see other perspectives that helps me to live life in perspective.

Failing is okay, sometimes more than okay - The Story of Grete Waitz's greatest win

Posted by Don Paine

What a failure.  He died.  Descended into Hell.  Jesus a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, embraced death as a friendly passage way back home to heaven.  Death loses its sting and its apparent victory when we know that it is just a passage way not an enemy. 

Grete Waitz failed in her fight against cancer on Tuesday, April 19th.  She succeeded in living her life to the end in the way she lived.  She was a woman of valor, vision, and victory.  She did not fail at living she just failed at winning the battle against this horrible disease.  It was not about her lacking faith it was about the courage of her faith, the conviction of her mind, and the compassion of her heart.  These three qualities that are the essence of faith were in her in distinctive and distinguishing expressions.

I met Grete in 1988 during the height of her career.  She supported along with Fred the idea of a “Worship Service for Runners by Runners”.  A unique experience, at the INGNYC Marathon, “the race that is like none other”.  Grete was a woman like none other. 

In 1992 she ran the New York City Marathon with Fred Lebow who at that time had been diagnosed with brain cancer and given months to live.  She wanted to run with him out of her love and compassion for the man who had put the victory crown on her head 9 previous years.  A fete never paralleled in the running world.  He knew and felt she had one more win in her.  The number 10 sounded better to him, no doubt this was his competitive and caring part of and for her.  She won this battle and ran with him.  I joined them for a mile or two in the Bronx.  She was helping her friend stay focused and her open heart for and with him was giving him courage and strength to finish the course.  He did they finished hands stretched high, in victory.
Grete had been willing to sacrifice her potential win for the wonder of the courage a compassionate heart can give to a friend. She did not count the number of winning New York City marathons as anything compared to her being a present friend in his struggle to beat cancer.  That was a winning moment in her life.

Grete herself said, “Fred really wanted me to win 10 New York City Marathons.  But I say that race with Fred makes up for the tenth I never won” (Boston Globe, April 20th, 2011, pB13.

When Fred died she mourned but celebrated that moment so special so eternal in her heart.  She became the first captain of Fred’s Team, a team of runners who run to raise money for cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.  Six years ago she contracted the same disease that took her friend.  She lived and died with courage and compassion.  These are the core elements of a spiritual person.  They are the core elements that we see in Jesus.  “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and so is now set down at the thrown of God.  The true victory is in living free of anything mattering more than “courage and compassion” for other human beings.  For Grete, that was true.  Fred was one special illustration of there inner truth and spirit.  She won a record 9 straight NYC Marathons.  Her greatest victory was finishing with her friend in an expression of what really counts.  Love for others and oneself in a balanced compassionate and courageous way.

She never did return to try for that 10th win.  Not because she could not have done it.
She wanted to honor the greatest victory of all her finishes, crossing the finish line with a friend.  The freedom to live in courage and compassion always triumphs over the imprisonment of competition and constraint.

“The willingness to sacrifice is the prelude to freedom” the ultimate victory over death is knowing that death is a passageway into the eternal presence of eternal love and peace.  Grete is there with Fred and many others.

She is, this Easter Sunday, a great illustration of what Jesus died to lead us into:  “living free from all that would constrain us, the extravagant loving” that he lived before us.  As the apostle Peter said, “follow in His steps”.  Grete did.

She was and is free and alive because she lived free and alive, the way of Jesus.
This is not the Jesus of any particular theology or church, this is the living Jesus who is the living sacrifice.  The calls is the same to all of us:  live sacrificially and fully.  Grete did and is!

Thank you Grete.
Grace be to your family and all those who knew and know you.

He descended into Hell, the Valley of Death

Posted by Don Paine

I am looking at this moment in the holy week experience very differently as I had a walking through hell experience  during the last year.  I shared some of this at the Epic Failure Pastor's Conference in PA last week.

What was going through the mind and heart of Christ on Saturday as he was in the tomb, as he was in Hell?

I imagine he was thinking of the glory of heaven he had given up, sacrificed to come to earth.  He lived among us and died for us.  He was the "living sacrifice".  He sacrificed all power and authority and embraced the death he did not deserve to teach us to be a living sacrifice.  To teach us to sacrifice the things that we think count for the thing that counts more.

The quote from the Seder readings must have gripped and graced his gut.  "The willingness to sacrifice is the prelude to Freedom".  I first met this quote at a funeral home, then later at a military post.  It has ben used to encourage the young men and women who join the military to see their willingness to lay there if eon the line as what is necessary for freedom to ring over our nation.  If a part of you is thinking that is a bit machiavellian you would be right.  I researched its context which is the Seder.  God is willing to sacrifice his comfortable place in heaven, giving up his birthright like Essau of old, to come to earth to teach us the laws of heaven.  To teach us that freedom only comes when we are willing to give it all up!  to be alive and sacrificing simultaneously.  To be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).

Freedom is not having nothing left to lose (Janis Joplin) so you do not care anymore.  Freedom is not having enough power, popularity, or money to get what your ego wants and thinks it needs. Freedom is having all power in heaven and earth and being willing to "lay it all down", to not use it for your own benefit, or use it for your defense, or to use it to punish those who do not get it.  From the well of our own unloved hearts we act in unloving ways toward others.  From the eternal well within that is always springing up to everlasting living, those who are willing to sacrifice taking in any other substance drink of that well that never runs dry.  The well is the well of "sacrifice" and it leads to freedom from ever having to go to the "well of human" water ever again.  Catch the symbolism.

Freedom is the capacity and discipline to be "willing to sacrifice" all that seems to meet our needs for that which truly creates in us the loving heart of God toward all people.  It is to be willing to sacrifice all defensiveness, all protectors, all fear of loss , and all desire for gain.  This is the prelude to living freely from a "whole heart" to all people.  Give up getting loved and love with a whole heart and you will be loved.

The dark tunnel of the grave is the place that sets the pace for living free!

GOOD AS in Good Friday

Posted by Don Paine

Someone asked yesterday why they call the Friday of Holy Week, Good Friday.

For God it was a bad day but for all humnaity it was a good day as God poured his love out onto all humanity.  That was and is good!

From God's perspective it was not a good day.  Imagine that you were a father and had to watch your son be wrongfully accused, taunted without cause, humiliated for sport, ridiculed for mockery, mocked with a fake crown that was not the crown of a King.  Cruelty abounded on that day.  It was not a good day.
It started out with a betrayal.  Had a mock trial.  Jesus stood before Herod and opened not his mouth.  Does anyone think that that was because Jesus had nothing to say, was afraid of Herod, or was defeated?  No, Jesus was choosing to "accept the harshness of humanity" and to transform the abuse of the cross into the power of the cross to transform lives.  Darkness gripped the land.  As Light sharpened its laser love beam, God's love shone in the darkness.

In the darkest hour of abandonment, Jesus cried, "My God My God why have you forsaken me!".  He was quoting Psalm 22.  The reality in the psalm and in Jesus' experience was that it felt like God had abandoned him but it was not "the truth" it was true that it felt like that.  As God watched the scene, he must have hated it, yet He did it out of love for the creation he made.  It was a bad day for God.  It was a good day for all humanity.  Whenever we feel like God is not presented or when we feel abandoned we can be assured that God does not abandon us even if it feels that way.  That is the good news of Good Friday:  that God opened his heart wide so that ll could know and experience love.

It looked like a colossal failure.  Jesus who many had thought would usher in a new era of peace and justice was hanging to die in between two common criminals.  This was the end of a great run.  But what looked like failure would become the frame of hope for everyone who feels a failure.  God loves you not what you do good or bad.  God simply and profoundly loves you.

The I am wants you do be who you are empowered and redeemed by God's love and grace.

On the night Jesus was betrayed - there was no betrayal in Him

Posted by Don Paine

On Thursday of holy week, Jesus celebrates the passover meal with his disciples.  As they gather around the table they tell stories and Jesus shows them the servants towel and the servants truth.

When God created the word with intentional freedom, God simultaneously knew: he would need to sacrifice control of creation to allow for true freedom.  Then he would have to lead that very creation to the experience of the truth about life.   Letting go of trying to master destiny or control anything and just trust the unfolding of mystery created "living by faith  not by sight".  When we try to be loved, get loved we constantly frustrate ourselves and others.  When we are loving we enter into the free and sacred space for growth.

At the seder table Jesus was modeling the power of surrender and sacrifice as the way to experience inner peace and express transformational loving.  On the night he was betrayed he loved even the betrayer.  The betrayed would not betray the character of loving presence.  In a moment of time Judas eyes met Jesus's eyes.  The eyes of the betrayer met the eyes of the betrayed.  If it was me I would have said something like, "you rat, traitor, go and do what you have to do, look all of you he is the betrayer!".  In Jesus there was no desire to point a finger of accusation at Judas, no need to attack him, and no desire to shame him.  There was only grace in Jesus eyes toward him.  It is not that Jesus did not have the human response of hurt and anger it is just that he surrendered his human reaction to his divine discipline and proaction.  Judas felt shame, fear, and desired to get something happening.  He was not suspected by anyone.  Jesus had handed bread dipped in wine to everyone of the disciples.  No one saw anything but love emanating form Jesus to his betrayer.  The betrayed loved for he could not betray the essence of who he is, loving God! The eyes of the betrayed were filled with love and grace.

I was at the Epic Failure Conference and one of the speakers said that "Judas was the devil".  I commented that the scriptures indicate that the devil entered into him, not that he was the devil.  Any time I have felt a failure the devil has entered into my life to trip me up and present me anything but faultless.  The apparent failure of the cross, "He saved others himself he could not save" was transformed  into the power to love those who were rejecting, shaming, and heaping words of failure.  The one who was free of the burden of failure lived to believe in faith that saw all with eyes of grace. "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing".  A simple statement of profound grace.

The law of surrender and sacrifice is the prelude to living free of the fear of failure, rejection and shame, living the loving state of the kingdom of heaven.   The kingdom of God is within you.  Let it live out from within you.

On that dark night when Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, something happened inside Judas.  This was not unlike Peter who denied Jesus, and then felt deep shame and sorrow.  Both men felt the penetrating love and grace in the eyes of Jesus.  The difference in them was Peter was able to forgive himself the act of denial. Judas though sorrowful, could not receive the forgiveness of Jesus because in his head his failure was beyond forgiveness.  This is never true as there is nothing God's grace is not equal too.

No betrayal is beyond the love of the God who will not betray his loving nature no matter what the act.

God's healing grace is available.  The devil wants us to feel and stay defeated.  God invites us to remember that His Grace is made perfect in our weakest moments.  To God be the glory to us the good of God's goodness and love.

What counts in living and loving?

Posted by Don Paine

Albert Einstein said, "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts".  this idea is over and against the idea that "if it cannot be measured it does not exist".  The later is a statement based on the focus of the researcher that intends to predict or control behavior by measuring what impacts of effects behavior.  The former statement eludes to the idea that there are subject experiential realities that are hard if not impossible to quantify, codify, calculate or control.  A loving heart heart full of peace and compassion responds to crisis and criticism and rejection differently if the heart is open.  

During Holy Week, we see and imagine the passion of the cross and the crowd.  We can easily measure the power of mob mentality.  On Sunday with high expectations of a new day of peace and justice the crowds were counting on their desires being fulfilled.  By Wednesday the tide was turning and the wave of celebration was moving to tsunami of rejection.  What counts for some is getting what I want.  What counts for others is being open hearted and open minded.  The number of those supporting Jesus was diminishing quickly.  From the crowds, to 12, to 1 to none.  What counted for Jesus was not the number of people who followed him but the heart of the Father that he was declaring "wide open" to receive all God's creation into the canopy of God's loving.  What counts is not what I gain but what I am willing to lose or let go of anything that gets in the way of my being loving toward God, self, and all people.

JIm Elliot a missionary who died at the hands of those he came to love said, "He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose".  That is what counts.  In Holy Week the message is that loving toward all no matter what they do to you counts beyond measure as it represents a God who's love is beyond measure and truly counts!

Count on and count upwards.

A growing tension, a growing realization: Jesus lives and loves from the inside out

Posted by Don Paine

I imagine that the disciples are losing patience with Jesus. They were so excited about his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

By Tuesday they began to wonder?  What is up?  Can I trust that what Jesus has said will be true that greater JOy will come if they wait for God to show up.  Do they take him at his word or do they stay in an anxious state.

At the Epic Failure Conference, I met a young man who had just up and driven hundreds of miles to be at this conference.  He sensed God wanted him there.  He had no place to stay and was planning to sleep in his truck.  Another attendee heard of this and offered him to stay in their hotel room.  When they arrived and he discovered that he had neglected to put a breathing machine in his truck he stated that he needed to sleep in his truck because he was to anxious and could not bare the fact that he would disturb his brothers sleep.  The host convinced him that he would tell him if he snored too loudly.  He chose to trust that and so they slept the first night.  In the morning, he realized that they both slept well.  They shared stories in a healing of each others hurt as they listened to each others stories.  When they parted at the end of the conference they were aware that trust was a key to relaxing their fears.  Trusting that what is said is true and relaxing into the truth is when healing occurs.

It is not about doing it right or praying it right, it is about living into connections with people that firm up the confidence of loving care in the world.  Incredible connections were made at this conference.  People learned that when they try to push their grief away in fear they collapse under the weight of the shame of it.  When they without fear and without shame they collapse onto the floor they find that Jesus is the floor onto which they have collapsed and who holds them in "loving care".  Grief, guilt and shame are all instruments to bring us to trust the God who loves us.  The enemy uses them to drive us into hiding.  God invites us to collapse into his perfect love for perfect love casts out all fear for fear has to do with punishment shame and rejection.

On the first day of the conference, JR put on the screen the characteristic of "failure, rejection and shame".  He announced his sense that the cross and the Gospel intercepted the failure and gave hope.  An attendee suggested that the Gospel of the Cross encircled all the "failure, rejection and hurt" as God in Christ took on the failure to be understood, and translated it into a new understanding.  He took the rejection and translated it into redemption.  He took the shame and translated it into grace from the inside out.  The transformational work of the cross changes everything and everyone and how I see and experience everything and every one.

A new day is dawning.  This idea was as new and fresh for JR as it was for the open who shared it.  God never works in isolation but in community.  As we listen to the parts in each other the whole truth becomes more true.  The disciples were getting parts of the truth in their holy week experience.  Each one had a different truth they were to learn and as a community of faith they were preparing for a kingdom change within while thinking it was a bout a kingdom change without.

Jesus would teach them something new each of these days as he did us at this conference.  The disciples and the crowd wanted to succeed in setting up the kingdom on earth.  Jesus would teach them how to fail in a glorious transformative way.

The day after the big celebration

Posted by Don Paine

What an exciting day.  All Jerusalem turned out to see the parade and celebrate the coming of truth and justice to their world.  The Roman Rule with its injustice and enslavement will end as Jesus sets up his kingdom.  The crowd went wild with excitement.

I imagined they woke up Monday morning to the reality of the emotional drain of all that celebrating.  As you celebrate you can lose sight of what you are celebrating.  I just returned from an exciting conference that had the unlikely but appropriate name of "Epic Failure Pastor's Conference".  Nearly 70 people gathered in an upper room over a bar in what used to be a church building. Songs of praise again were song in this sacred space.  The excitement of a previous era was renewed in this place.  Pastor's told their stories of failure and received healing of their hearts, grief and loss.

One pastor talked about how when he laid his plans down God became more present.  The people of Jesus day had a plan which they felt Jesus had come to achieve namely, ushering in the kingdom of heaven come to earth, the reign of righteousness and peace.

Jesus had entered the city on a donkey.  Much like a donkey had brought his mother to Bethlehem for the day of his birth so now a donkey was carrying him into the city of his death.  The disciples in the excitement forgot that he had explained that he would leave them and then return.  They heard what they wanted to hear and believed what they wanted to believe.

God's ways are not our ways neither his thoughts our thoughts.  God was doing something inside the hearts of people not our side.  He was focused on inner justice and peace.  This was and is more important than external justice and peace.  The later are important just not the most important thing.

The day after is a day of great anticipation of a new day and a new order.  What will happen when their expectations are frustrated and their desires challenged?

The Youth of our church Re Write of I Timothy to the 21st Century Church

Posted by Don Paine

I Thomas, Sophie, Logan, Marissa (The 21st  Century Church)

Chapter 1

Paul the Apostle to the church in Stockbridge and Thomas, Sophie, Marissa, and Logan

First off, I ask that prayers, requests petitions and thanksgivings are to god not to me. God wants everyone to be saved and know the truth. There is one god and one person who brings humans and god together, who is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who sacrificed himself for all humans to live with their sins forgotten. That is proof that god wants all people to be saved. This is why I was sent here as a teacher to explain the message of faith and truth. I am not lying.

Chapter 2

If anyone wants to be a leader in the church that’s good but there are some conditions such as they must be well liked, not cheat on his wife, collected and calm. He has to know what he is talking about, not drink too much, not be pushy, be gentle, and not greedy. He has to handle everything well and pay attention to his children and have their respect. If someone can’t handle his own problems he won’t be able to run the church. People who don’t know his well must still think of him good or else the devil will get him.
The same things above apply to anyone who wants to be a servant of the church. They must be serious and not drink a lot also they must not want to take charge because they have a position. They have to be able to prove themselves to become a servant of the church. The same conditions go for the woman because they must be committed to their spouse and they must pay attention to their children. Those who follow those rules will be respected.
I’ll be visiting soon but just incase I can’t come right away I’m writing this so everyone knows how things must be in the church.

He appeared in a human body
            Was proved right by the invisible spirit
                        Was seen by angles
He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples,
            Believed in all over the world
                        Taken up in heavenly glory.

Chapter 3

Order those who are teaching false doctrines to stop. It does not matter who your ancestors were and bringing that up will only cause arguments. This does not serve God’s plan. What we want to awaken in people is the love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscious, and a genuine faith.  There are people who have lost sight of this goal as they became caught up in petty matters. 
Some who wish to be teachers of God’s law do not understand what they are talking about.
God’s Law is good, if it is used the way it is supposed to be used. We need to remember that laws are not made for good people, but for those who break the law.
I am thankful to God for his forgiveness; even though I once spoke out against him he now considers me worthy of serving him. God was merciful because at that time I did not have faith and, therefore, did not know what I was doing. Christ Jesus came to this world to save sinners, such as myself. I am an example for all those who follow me and believe in Jesus Christ and will receive eternal life.
WE LOVE GOD!  I am entrusting you with this so that you may use these words as weapons to fight well. Keep your faith and clear conscious, for some people have not listened to their conscious and have suffered for it.


Chapter 4”
There are people who will twist and warp the teachings of Jesus.  They make all kinds of rules about silly things like marriage or what you can eat.  They do not really care about the damage they do with their lies because their consciences are dead.  God created everything for us and for our benefit.  Just thank God and make good use of what God has provided.  Don’t get all hung up with silly rules made by liars who do not really represent Jesus.
Exercise your faith: the same as exercise is good for your body, exercising your faith is good for your soul – and it has an eternal effect.  Teach others what Jesus taught.  Read and think about Jesus’ words.  Sometimes it will be really hard but keep going because your faith and your hope are in a God who is alive and who loves you.

Teach people this:  Don’t let them belittle you or disrespect your wisdom just because you are age or theirs.  Just live as an example of how Jesus lived.  Model Jesus in how you talk, how you behave, and how you treat others.  You have a gift a spiritual gift.  It was recognized by the church community when they laid hands on you and prayed for your future.  So make sure you continue preaching and reading scriptures publicly together and teaching.  You have to keep using and exercising your gift then you will continue to understand more and more and everyone will see and recognize it.   Watch yourself.  Watch your public words, your preaching and teaching.  Do not take it lightly because it has a huge impact on everyone who hears you and even on your self.

Chapter 5

Treat people of all races and nations, all levels of economic, all faith and non faith groups equally.
Take care of people who have not so all people have some. Do not shame or blame anyone but be gracious toward all.
Do not send tweets that are negative or demeaning as that will make you a twit. Twit good words full of compassion to anyone.
Follow the teaching of Jesus in the tradition of Martin Luther King and Ghandi.  Live to treat all equally and be willing to sacrifice your freedom to make a good point in a good way.

Chapter 6
Be responsible for living your life consistent with the teachings of Jesus and be respectful towards all people regardless of anything. Do not argue or sweat the small stuff but be vigilant about that which is important.  Set aside all your parts that are preoccupied with yourself, abusive, rude and intrusive in anyway.  Do not fear loss or desire gain but live well with whatever you have in your own well.  Then be willing to share your wellness with others.

Godliness, with relaxation of the parts that have their own agenda, is the true gain.  Always gain good and healthy perspective. See that as always more important than gaining wealth or any thing.
The love of money or anything more than God or people is like a pot hole that damages your alignment a virus that attacks your computer. Live free and be strong.

Fight to live honorably and honestly before all people.  Keep peace and love in your heart and live those qualities out to everyone you meet. Then remember the God of peace and love is with you always.

Guard your mind your heart your soul and spirit.  Take hold of the life that is really worth living and live to the full the experience the Holy Spirit whom God has given to us all.

Live in Truth and grace
Grace be with you always.

The Apostle Paul

The little things are really BIG - updating in the valley of death

Posted by Don Paine

I was out for a walk this morning to commune with nature and the creator.  This is pretty regular behavior for me.  It is a little thing.  Then a big thing began to happen in my heart and soul.

I remembered a very little moment in time.  It was about a year ago now while I was still in the "valley of the shadow of death" referred to in previous blogs.  I was in our church during the coffee our and a lovely Christian woman, who I know well and who has a deep appreciation for "nice things', said to me "I really like your tie".  My comedic part that is not as funny as it thinks it is sometimes said, "Oh you like my tie but not me".  While she said nothing back to me I imagine she was saying to herself, "What the hell?"  Indeed this morning that is what came to me that was the "hell of darkness in me" that was so overwhelming that it had me respond our of my shame and hurt and inflict shane and hurt on this nice woman.  Because I was in my pain of loss and grief, shame and guilt, I unintentionally yet nevertheless inflicted on her my shame and guilt.  Why could I not just say, "thank you"?  I had a part that felt so unloved and unloving that it wanted so much to hear "I like you" but many people had said that and it made no difference.  When you are in a wounded depressed place nothing anyone says can be taken in.
I rejected her noticing a part of me which is really what i needed to accept.  Emotional blindness like spiritual blindness is ubiquitous when you are depressed.

My first response to this was, "I was just kidding".  then I had a part say "you got to be kidding",  We often kid ourselves and miss what God has for us. It was real and I had unintentionally (which matters little even if it is true, inflicted discomfort on an innocent nice person.  It does not even matter if she recalls it our not.  I made a commitment inside to honor all parts and be less kidding.

A tie and a conversation about this is really little.  The part I dealt with as I walked is the part that was at first defensive.  I am unsure why this memory came up but I had gone inside thinking about asking a group to do this exercise with me later today.  Then I realized it was not about asking a group to do it it was about doing it myself.  Why this morning because I dealt with a part of me that grieves the loss of preaching and treating because I am at a conference for pastors who are grieving hurt and pain.  I thought I needed to do something.  All I need to do is know the love of God so deep that no failure is so big or small that it  overrides experiencing and trusting that love of God in Christ.  So I will say thank you to the host today.

I let the love and grace of God come into that moment and wash over the parts that felt so hurt that they hurt others.  A wave of love filled my soul and that is big.  Had I not paid attention to this little part coming up about a little experience in my life thai is yes little.  I would miss the BIG experience of the love of God being poured into my hurting parts so they do not carry the burden of hurt or inflict that on others however small.

That is Big.

Imagine a world where we just said "thank you" and all our hurt parts, our fear centers, our shame were all welcome into the presence of love and grace.  For me as a Christ follower that is the table of and for communion.  Yes, I will tekk this woman I appreciate her and her noticing my tie.

Epic Failure a Great Success

Posted by Don Paine

I am at a very unusual conference in Lansdale, PA.  It is not only the title that his unusual it is the setting, the openness, and the collective desire to set aside the pretense that is more like a pretext for not doing what the church is called to do.  What is the church called to do?  To be the church.  People called out of their human orientation to measure success or failure by numbers, profit, or applause.  The church is called to treat others as better than you.  So when someone fails, we are not to call them a failure.  When some one comes with a new idea or a new plan, we are not called to criticize or correct them but to listen and applaud their courage.  If we fail we fail miserably and grow and develop our hearts that do not condemn us to balance out the parts of us that do. If we succeed we succeed humbly and we grow by not taking but sharing the credit.  All others are better than me.  Really?  Really!

Not really but imagine if we all treated everyone as better than ourselves then everyone in the end would be feeling pretty good about themselves not because of managing success or failure but because they were with people without judgment and criticism but with mercy and kindness.

The great success of this conference after the first night is not in the numbers or the stories or the insights.  The great success is in the willingness to try a new adventure regardless of criticism or applause.  Their is no shame, no rejection, and no failure when the community of faith looks beyond the human measure of success and see God's measure.  People's lives touched and transformed by the simple and supernatural presence of God's peace and love in the hearts of the humble and the minds of the honorable.  They with God's help dream great visions and attempt great things.  They are reminded that the element of "great" is the God who is great is the one who calls us together to be the church to the 21st Century.

A new century demands bold new initiatives.  This is one.  I am glad I and a number of others from as far away as Australia have come to be together with only the agenda of being together in God's "judgment free zone" the true church.

Stand Up

Posted by Don Paine

I sat with a client yesterday who was having trouble standing up.  Fear gripped him as he was afraid that if he stood up and said a challenging thing that all "hell would break loose".  Alternatively by not speaking up he was in hell.  He wanted me to help him stand up.  He wanted me to help him to understand what needs to happen to stand up.  Obviously among other things this is a passive/aggressive issue.

I had heard this dilemma before in many people.   An image came to me that I had never thought of before. I went with it and asked him if he was going to be hit by a bus would he want to be facing the bus as it ran him over or would he want to have the bus hit him from behind.

He thought for a few minutes and he said, I think I would want to be facing the bus.  I encouraged him to find an analogy similar to that that would have him face the oncoming death rather than letting the death slowly over take him form the  rear.

I do not know if this will help him to stand up.  It is ultimately his decision and he has parts that want to and they are courageous and parts that fear and they are helpless.

I reflected that the past 18 months I was waiting for death to overtake me in my depression and one of the things that changed in me was I decided to take death on head on.  I faced my mortality and became alive.

The image was for me.  I hope it was for him as well.

Face whatever is facing you with confidence that in you is the strength to persevere and preserve life

Chocolate Milk - enemy #1

Posted by Don Paine

I listened to an interview of a pediatrician who was commenting on the movement in schools to remove chocolate milk from the menu because it is harmful.   He commented on the obesity problem in children while he was well over weight.

It is not about the food we eat or drink as much as it is about our ability to regulate to control our eating and drinking as well as exercise and thinking.

John Locke the first educator philosopher indicate years ago that the goal of education is to teach children the capacity to "self-control" or self-regulate.  So let's get that back into the classroom and worry less about chocolate milk.

The Law of Appreciation

Posted by Don Paine

A few weeks ago I wrote about "just say "thank you".

Today meeting with a couple I found myself talking about the "law of Appreciation".  I had not heard or spoken of it before then realized that it was helpful.  They had fallen into the spell of dis-appreciation. I recalled hearing my wife say, Why do you always get in my way (this is specifically in reference to her kitchen privilege which I adore namely her cooking".  So why do I get in her way when she is trying to care for my hungry parts.  My defensive parts want to say I am just trying o be helpful but if getting in the way of what I want her to do that is cook a wonderful meal that makes me feel loved, why would I argue with her .  Just get the hell out of the kitchen you say.  Yes I agree.  I am gone.

The law of appreciation says if I appreciate the person with whom I have chosen to share space.  I will not depreciate that person's presence.  On the other side.  If I appreciate her I will not crowd into her space.  Nor will I depreciate the part of me that wants to be helpful just move its helpfulness to a later and more cooperative time or space.

Sharing space without depreciating each other and also appreciating each other provides a wonder-filled space called "couple appreciation".  When I learn to appreciate all the parts of my wife and she all my parts the parts that feel depreciated with not take precedent over the parts that feel appreciated nor vice versa.

If we extend this sense of community to our world nations will learn to appreciate each other.  The law of appreciation will result in a world of peace and justice.  Injustice and confusion are the result the result of feeling depreciated therefore defensive.   It is an automatic reactive protection that denies the discipline necessary for community building. It is reactive defiance and defense that creates compliance or defiance. Peace and justice is about all parts in me and you feeling appreciated in an act of willful discipline.

The law of appreciation is that if you appreciate others, others will appreciate you.  When everyone feels appreciated there i snot need for dominance or control.  The parts that want to depreciate because they feel  unappreciated will give way to the part that "appreciates everyone and everything.

Sharing space whether in the kitchen or in the world is about living the "law of appreciation".

Let your yes be yes and your no be no

Posted by Don Paine

I always thought of this biblical and life principle as about "honesty and openness".

Many people say yes but do no, others say no but do yes.  I have all done both.  It is either a "yes" or a "no" it is nerve a yes and a no.  While this is true in one sense anther sense shift may be equally true.

In an either or world it is always about a vote of yes or no.  It i about integrity and the lack of inconstancies.

What if this principle pointed to another principle just as important.  The principle of clarity and confidence.
We then could address ways in which it should be yes and other ways it should be no but doing so with clarity and compassion for opposite parts or opinions.  What if that enlarged our conversation and embraced our sense of community while embracing our differences.  Perhaps then diversity would be respected acceptance rather than right  tolerance.

Defining our yes and no, declaring our yes and no while remaining open to embracing the yes and no in others may be a secret of community building.

While at an international conference in Edinburgh, Scotland a few years ago I heard a French Therapist present the idea of "mature dependency".  He addressed the sense in which dependency was  a "no" and also ways in which dependency is a "yes".  It was clear and concise but different.  If what we need in relationships is to be dependable and what we want is someone who we can depend on why is dependency give a bad image.   Mature dependency is not depending on you to allow me to not change. Mature dependency is depending on love inside and out that supports the courage to try new things and to change how I see old things and new things.

So let your "no" be clear and compassionate and let your "yes" be clear and compassionate.  It is both and not either or.

Yes and no.

Auto Correct, not so much, or so little

Posted by Don Paine

The idea that the system will auto-correct if released from its burden to resist correction seems counter intuitive.  I need to correct behavior that is wrong.  If I do not address wrong behavior I feed it existence whether through tolerance or acceptance.  I have to take a stand against it.

Yes, but as I stand against something, anything no matter how right I am the person feels that I am against them.  If I then think all I have to do is tell them that is not true, that I care about them.  I slip into the seductive hole of "correcting" that creates and sustains a disconnect.  Even though I may be right I am wrong.

Sustainable energy is the idea that when energy taken and give are in balance energy is never drained but sustained.  Renewable energy may be like renewing the mind.  The mind fears loss and desires gain so it thinks it needs to correct and be corrected.  this leads to internal frustration and fragmentation, disconnection.  When the mind is renewed into a state of peace and love it does not fear loss nor desire to gain anything.  "Contentment is Godliness with great gain" (I Timothy 6:6).

Nature balances and counter balances itself without thought or feeling reactions.  The law of nature is the law of peace.  When we give up trying to correct others and connect with earth and Self" we will live in peace and love with one another on the planet God gifted to us.

Receive God's gift of inner connection, of love and peace.  Watch the world inside and outside change!

A change agent has no agenda except to love and care.

The "n" factor: What a Difference a letter makes

Posted by Don Paine

I sat with a family.  I knew they loved each other.  I saw that the parents wanted to correct the behavior of the child. They wanted to be "good" parents. I saw that the child knew what he had done was wrong. I saw that the child wanted to be "good".  Who was right and who was doing wrong? were the dilemmas they brought into my office.  This is neither unique not extraordinary.

So where was the disconnect.

When I want to "correct" a persons behavior I shift into a superior inferior relationship.  It is true that the behavior needs to be corrected and to not address the behavior is just as much in error as addressing it in a way that leads to frustration and non-change.  People change when they feel loved and cared for not when they feel corrected.

Romans 2:8 tells us that "the kindness of God leads people to repentance.  Kindness does not look away from wrong behavior it looks at the person or part of a person that is behaving in this way as bearing a burden.  So I care for the person to release the burden.  The burden may be "the only way to be loved is to do the right thing" which then means if I do the wrong thing I am unloved and unloveable.

People change not because of my superior ability to point out the wrongness in them, not because they feel shame or guilt, but because they feel loved and cared for.  This is primal and primary point of confusion and disconnect inside people and outside in relationships.

If I change one letter twice, the focus shifts.  The letters "rr" becomes "nn".  The word "correct" becomes the word "connect".  The world shifts back onto its axis.  The system is balanced by compassion.

When I settle down my desire to be right and make you behave right, and simultaneously settle down my fear of not being a good parent or counselor, I am set free to connect with you and your internal frustration.  The connection, "therapeutic alliance", is what helps you to want to change from the inside out.   The resistance we often meet in others is the invitation to connect with rather than correct that resistance.

Helping the parents to connect with their child. To really listen and understand the inner frustration of the child is to shift focus.  It also leads the child to learn to shift the same focus toward the parent.  Helping the child to feel connected to his parents will result in a connection that flows naturally into a shift of behavior because there has been a shift of care.

When I try to correct you even if I am right I get resistance.  When I care for you and connect with you the resistance is released and the internal desire to "self correct" is embraced.

Connections produce corrections.

Perhaps this is why, God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him (and God's desire to connect with them) should not perish (be disconnected from God) but have eternal life (the eternal connection becomes internal).

Profit driven or People driven society

Posted by Don Paine

Stephen Moore wrote in the Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2011 a no fools article:
"If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government."

We have inverted the Tea Cup.  Instead of having a tea party to challenge governmental abuse, the government is having a tea party at our expense.

The problem is not about any issue or program, any party or priority, the problem is a system that supports its own existence exists to the detriment of the system.  the system that encourages increase based on competition and greed is s system that polarizes a nation and the people of that nation.  

Profit driven economies nurture a system that uses competition and conflict to propel progress which creates a polarized population that paralyzes progress.  People driven economies nurture a system that maintains and promotes compassion and cooperation that produce parallel profits.

Government is to be of the people, for the people, and by the people.  Government is never intended to make the people who serve richer and the people they serve poorer.  

What can we do to invert the system so change can take place and the people serve and be served.

Goodness on the Move

Posted by Don Paine

I was mentoring someone yesterday and the passage "surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life".  I began to hear a whole new way of thinking about that passage as familiar as it is.  This is what really excites my parts.  When other parts that have heard and believed a truth are open to more truth from the same passage just by being open to "Spirit".

As part of the characteristic of a faith person, "goodness and mercy" always follow me into every situation.  It is not just that goodness and mercy are in me all the days of my life but it is also that "goodness and mercy follow me as I live my life.

I approached someone who had really hurt me by spreading a false rumor about me in a clever way as he spoke truth but with a spin that created a lie.  I hate that.  Over the years I learned to live in "goodness and mercy" toward him.  After all he was just like me, a man who could get caught up in believing something should happen then convince himself that anything that makes it happen is okay. A bit machiavellian but inside all of us is a Machiavellian part. Recently 15 years after the event, I met with him and asked him to forgive me for rejecting his friendship which I had done years earlier.  The next time we got together for lunch he asked me to forgive him.  Letting "goodness and mercy follow me" into every life situation is an affirmation of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.  God's house is a house of goodness and mercy.

I am learning to not just live in it but to let it live in me toward others.

To Mold or to Model

Posted by Don Paine

As a Christian I tried to fit in the mold that I was presented. After a few years it seems that the mold that I was presented was too confining and restricting. I did not fit the mold so either the mold was wrong or I was wrong.

 Christianity like all groups tries to promote, protect, and propagate the truth that has set them free.   To do so they create a mold.  They codify and construct what helped them create inner peace and love that was liberating. "The truth" will set you free.  Yet when I say that the truth that set me free is the truth that has to set all people free, I ignore that the God of creation who creates all things with both the capacity to hold and to expand.  The mold of creation was not restrictive but expansive. As the universe is ever expanding yet held together I began to think that the mold was not designed to be restrictive even if my experience of it was restrictive.  I expanded my horizons and saw more not less.  I saw more of what was in me that caused me to be restricted rather than seeing external restrictions.  The "truth" that sets us free is not any particular truth of theology or ecclesiology but the truth that God is calling us to live from the inside out rather than from the outside in.

It is therefore the model of living freely and fully the expression of true faith that is more important than the mold.  We do not have to throw the mold out just not let it be restrictive. I realized that I need to model an expansive expression and experience of the freedom of the Spirit in the bond of Peace.

No matter what the religious mold I choose to identity with the real expression of faith is visible in my "modeling" the truth that has set me free.  Jesus broke the religious molds but lived the spiritual reality of being one with God.

"You shall know them by their love".  Some influential person said that, I simply pass it on.

A Cut Above

Posted by Don Paine

Last night was the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship which UCONN won,  When interviewed after the game about what makes him excited about the win.  Coach Calhoun said he is excited for his kids,they are great.  When asked about what matters he motioned to a group of guys that were at the game and are currently playing in the NBA.  "That they are here because they care" and "I care about them"  That is a tribute.  It is not about winning basketball games it is about "caring enough to pour care into lives only to get that care back." That is what creates moments like this!   Then I recalled the picture of he and his wife and his great grandchildren all there caring and crying tears of joy.  What a power source.  Care that makes a difference.

At that moment I recalled his speech to his players about the game minutes before it began.  It was a calm confident chat in them.  No hype, no animation, no psyche up speech, just a man caring for the kids he admired and those kids taking that care in then playing with care for their coach, their school, their teammates.  Maybe that is the secret to success "really caring in a genuine ay that makes you better because you are treated better".  What a novel concept.

Maybe Coach Jim Calhoun is "Cut from Above" not just a cut above.

More mad

Posted by Don Paine

It is amazing how life challenges us to live out our convictions or musings. A m I really changed by challenges?

Yesterday, when I and Debbie arrived at the church we attend, I looked at the bulletin and I was mad.  Not a calamity in the world, nor a huge issue but I was mad.  I had worked with a church committee to get a sensitive and sensible bulletin insert just right.  It had already gone out once incorrectly so I had made it clear and confirmed the changes.  I had sent it "camera ready" to the church secretary.  What was in the bulletin resembled an earlier draft but with additions and omissions at will.  I was done.  I was mad that I had and others had worked so hard to make this "just right" only to have been ignored.  I was mad.  I was not mad in the sense that I was going to take someone's head off or lose my own but I was mad.  I realized that this was an opportunity to live out the "Does God get  Mad" from yesterdays blog. As I thought about it I realized that the essential message though veiled a bot and confusing as now there is another and still inaccurate version of the insert, it was not all that big a deal.  What was hurtful is to have done all this work and then to feel ignored.  I realized that God has done a lot of work and I sometimes ignore, you guessed it,  God!

In our youth Sunday School Class in which we were talking about "treating others better than you" (Philippians 2:3).  A weird principle because it is not true that others are better than me.  That is not what it says.  A youth put it this way.  "If you treat others better than yourself you treat them well and if everyone did that then everyone would feel well and everything would be well!".

I told them the story of getting mad then realizing that grace toward the people was the call of true Christianity.  I then realized it was not such a big deal.  Then realized that the people who apparently ignored me are caring people who usually do not ignore.  they are better than me. Then I realized that I, without intention, ignore Debbie that woman who God has given me as a help and support!  Then I realized I needed to treat her and others well as better than me then I would be better than me.

While I bet you are better than me, I bet you can hear the challenge and change too!  I did! I hope I do again.

Does God get mad?

Posted by Don Paine

I read a devotional thought that used the lead in "Does God get mad?".  As i read it I got mad as it took no position on the issue.  Choosing rather to say everyone has different thoughts about this and that is okay.  So I was hooked as I was mad.  What was I mad at or about?  I expected one thing and got another.  It was my expectations that fueled my anger or mad part.

In Genesis 6:5-8 it is reported that when God saw that "all the inclination of the thoughts of the heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord was grieved that he had made humanity, placed them on earth, and his heart was filled with pain...and the Lord said I will wipe humankind whom I had made from the face of the earth". Was this an angry God?  A God full of wrath and vengeance?  A God with no compassion.

Yes to the first and no to the second.

Anger is Godly.  It becomes less than Godly when we do not express it and it becomes "depression" and it becomes less than Godly when we express it in extreme ways without compassion, calmness and care.

God does get angry and we need to let our selves be angry but as Paul says, "not sin".  We sin when we attack ourselves with depression or others with aggression.  Anger is never the problem.  How we manage it is.

God while angry had compassion and calmness in his heart toward humanity.  While God was hurt and angry God was also compassionate and caring.

Noah saw grace in the eyes of God and not just anger.  I want people to see anger in my eyes when I am angry but I also want them to see love and compassion.  Everyone who could see both the anger for unfilled expectations and anticipations and the abundance of compassion were able to find safety in the Ark of Grace that God had provided.  Do you think that anyone who swam to that ark in faith believing in the Grace of God would have been turned away, there fingers stepped on as they tried to get into the boat of compassion and care.  I think they would have been welcomed.

Those who died in the flood died not in the deluge of the water that flooded their towns (natural calamity) but in the deluge of their own delusions that God did not care, that they were okay, and that God's grace was not available.  They died without hope not because there was none but because they lost sight of hope. Eyes on hope can change your view of God and the calamities of life.  Meet calamities with calmness and compassion.

Be angry but keep space in your heart for compassion and let your inner critic parts and others see it in your eyes.