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

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The Call of Malachi to the 21st Century Church

Posted by Don Paine

The book of Malachi is the last book of the old testament.  I completed a study and series of sermons from the 6 chapters a few months ago.  I believe it is a call to the 21st Century Church to a New kind of Honesty, A New Dimension of Humility and a New Frame for Holiness:

Honesty is about authenticity with respectfulness, not about brutality or judgment of parts.
Humility is about audacity with respectfulness, not about quiet, non-assertive or compliant parts.
Holiness is about the abandonment of self-serving agendas and self-promoting conditions not about sinless behavior.

These three qualities of the divine in us need courage and calmness to be nurtured and drawn out.

This shift results in redefining justice, redefining righteousness, redefining redemption and redirecting community.

It is about helping the church inside to come out side.

Compassion and Empathy

Posted by Don Paine

In a dialogue about these two concepts I realized what I experience as a fundamental difference between these two.

Empathy is being drawn into the experience of another person.  For instance I read an article in Newsweek (June 20) last week on Bipolar Children.  The author told the story of a mother who gave a prescription to her son for his BiPolar condition and the son died.  As I read the story I was drawn with empathy to put myself in her place and imagine how hurt, angry, bewildered and grief stricken she was.  The capacity for empathy is putting myself in her shoes.  Some do not want to do that. Some do it so much that they take on the experience as if they actually knew the person or had the experience.  That is an extreme version of empathy and can be helpful to some degree but hurtful in other ways.  Empathy allows me to embrace another persons pain which his necessary for human connection.

Compassion is being drawn to the experience of another person from inside which is empathy.  It might include an identifying embrace but it offers the strength of presence, of perseverance, of persistence, of perspective, and of patience.  It offers open heart and open arms of support while the person work through the hurt and pain in their life.  It combines the empathy of care with the wisdom of not caring so much that you become lost in the hurt so are no help for the wounded. Compassion opens wide the accepting arms of love and stays balanced in the compassion of Self.

From a theological posture we see this in the cross of Calvary.  God opens wide his arms of loving care filled with compassion.  "As a father has compassion on his children so the Lord has compassion on his children for God recalls that they are dust"(Psalm 103).  Empathy had God empty himself of all but love, then he opened his arms to offer that kind of supportive loving to all in compassionate care.  Compassion is imbued with empathy but balanced with self care and care for others.

Be compassionate is the command.

Faith seeing with two eyes, yours and mine

Posted by Don Paine

Faith is seeing what no one else sees, it comes from hearing and listening in a different and fuller way.

I was sitting there, the presenter had presented the idea of "compassionate conflict", and having the capacity to know it is not about me it is about meeds.   She asked
us anyone had anything to day.  No one was responding then I dais I can tell you what it triggers in me.  She said, "ok" so I said, "If it is to be it is up to me".  She reacted with an upset part that said she did not like it cause it puts a burden on her and she has been trying to get rid of the burden,  I smiled.  Inside i felt like ok, so she does not get that that is what she said.  Needs are burdens and they set us up. So It is not about me, it is not about needs, it is about energy of love and compassion from within toward all parts;

Then as I was re-flexing on the model she was presenting and the part of me that spoke as an illustration of that model's internal conflict.  I took a step aside and relaxed that she had just a different perspective triggered by a part in her that is not triggered the same way in me.  Then as I listened to her triggered part and relaxed my triggered part.  I then realized that she had a more than valid point.  As I reflected I changed that simple two letter, 20 word, statement.  "If it is to be it is up to us".   That takes the burden off me and shares it with all parts and beliefs within me.  Her perspective is just as valid as her perspective as my perspective is valid for me.

Just as all are perceptions are illusions.

All perspectives are welcome.

At the end of the session she and I were easily able to share this but during the session she and I had both been triggered.

Caring for our own triggered parts helps us to listen to the other person and the inner voice of peace and compassion.

I learned something in this session because I was open to see something that I didi not see at first.  this is faith, seeing what no one else would see, in action""

Wisdom to Rescue and to not rescue

Posted by Don Paine

One of the issue of religion and spirituality is that we present it as it is what people need to be rescued from their plight,, thought or experience that are collectively or individually overwhelming.  the idea of an external redeemer is what drives many salvation based spiritual groups.

A few weeks ago I blogged about a rescuer, Leonard Pope.  He was at a pool party and dove into the pool to rescue a 6 year old boy.  Everyone especially his mother thanked God for the rescuer part in Leonard.  He was actually called a "savior".  In one real empirical way, he was the savior of this boy in this moment of time.  A part of me began thinking about the rescuer part in all of us as helping people and helping professionals.  We get hooked by our rescuing others and put our selves in jeopardy.

I began to think of another metaphor or story.  It is the opposite extreme creative made up story but parallels the inner dilemma. It uses the same setting a person in a narrative .
Leonard Pope is at a pool party.  It happens to be in an area of the country that is spacious and wide and has all the ingredients of God's created world of nature. At a distance in a Mountain plateau is a "Hot SPring".  Leonard Pope strolls out into the nature beyond the pool where there is no right and wrong but where there is safety and security in the peacefulness of nature.
The Hot Spring is a beauty to behold but is immediate death to anyone who falls in it.  Leonard Pope hears a mother cry out.  My baby is falling into the Hot Springs. Leonard Pope comes running for he is in his heart a caring compassionate responsive person.  As he gets closer he watches the child being brought into the hot springs and life immediately going out of him.  He stops and looks at the mother.  When she begins to beat him on the chest telling him to save her baby!  He is not indifferent though she accuses him of that, he is not uncaring though she accuses him of that, he is not afraid though she accuses him of that, he is not.  He is securely present offering to her his compassion, care and strength.  Had he jumped into the hot spring to prove his courage or compassion he would have lost wisdom.

When I try to rescue a person who when rescued continues to die for las of a sense of their own power, I contribute to the cycle of their own powerlessness.  Saying not to helping may sometimes be the most helpful thing I learn to d. It i snot if I help I care and if I do not help, I do not care.  That sets me up to die rather than teach people how to live free of the compassion that beats up on myself and does not strength others and the compassion that is peaceful and wiise as its focus it, will it really be helpful.  Will it help me to feel impertinent or important or impermanent.  Would it add to my frustration .  Would that add to the cycle of frustration or dissolve that cycle.

There is wisdom that surpasses understanding that comes from being in a peace place that also surpasses human understanding.  It is a place where the rescuer in me learns that sometimes trying to rescue a person actually does not help them and can kill the rescuing part in me.  We call this burn out. It is operating out of a burdened part that cares rather than operating as a system that lives in peace and compassion with wisdom and strength.  It is not whether someone outside of me thinks I am a caring person.  It is when I know inside who I am.  It is always about peace, wisdom and love. These are the characteristics of God in me.  It is not what I do as a rescuer it is:  how I stay safe and secure inside as I offer help, that really helps rather than offering help that does not really help.  I can help out of compassion and kindness or out of egoistic altruism or ego.  If it is about me it is a hint that it may not help the other person.  Empathy can draw me into another persons neediness and have meet operate out of my need to be a helper.  Compassion contains the wisdom to offer help but assess if the offer is in service of my ego needs, the other persons ego wants, or in service of healthy growth.
It is why I consonantly ask myself and use the rubric of reflection taught to me by a Rabbi at Yeshiva University, Wurzweiler School of Social Work:
"In whose service is the service".  Seeking always to be in service of the wisdom and compassion that takes courage and creativity to offer, and disciple and discernment to not offer.  The vital balance of compassion is found in the internal balance of wisdom and peace.

God reveals his truth to many people in parts and the whole comes through connections

Posted by Don Paine

God reveals his truth to many people in parts and the whole comes through connections

Today I heard Lisa Sharon Harper speak at the 6th Annual North American Conference of the Society for Social Work and Spirituality in Washington DC.  It was amazing.  A wow, in a number of different ways.  Part of me says it was amazing because her thought, evangelical orientation, human compassion, delivery, articulation, humor, points and text were amazing.  It was also amazing because that has been my text in several messages ove rthe last two years.  She said, in Genesis 1 has no word for shalom but God rested on the 7th day  as shalom.  I sat there amazed at another level entirely.  As arrogant as it may sound a part of me said, she is preaching my sermon.  Then another part of me said, "remember the other day you were saying to a client that was affirming truth, that God is the keeper of all truth.  While  you believe God has given you a message for the 21st century you are not so naive to believe that God is only giving this truth to you."  

As God reveals the hidden truths that are the divine secret to hearts that are open.  Then another part thanked God for the suffering and pain in my life for that suffering has created an "open heartened" that sees and receives  when parts are not activated or are not under the illusion that you are special.  Humility and honesty and holiness all of a new and different kind.  I will re-defined these three later.

She began her talk by asking everyone to close their eyes and imagine a new world.  I have started a sermon from this exact same text.   In the same  way I had begun a blog the day before imagine a world.  It was surreal and eery.   The details about what she said that I had said, the parts she filled in that I did not get, and the parts that I want to offer her that she said she did not get, are intentionally to connect us.  That is what it felt like..  It was light the universe was putting us both in the same place at the same tiem to give us the opportunity to connect but the universe does not direct that connection.  As God is not in and does nto want the director's chair.  That is what people want so why would we project that onto our concept of God.  God is above that.  This average place seemed like a palace of deeper truth.  This safe space is sacred place, holy ground.  The ground of all being!  I felt it.  I took off my sandals and set my feet pn God's ground to get grounded.  I thanked God.

It seemed to me that God had brought her to this place and me to this place both in the physical world and the spiritual world to give us the opportunity to connect.  I know it sounds egoistic and egotistic but it is what it felt like.  I know it as the opposite of the experience of darkness of depression I have been through.  It felt like the other side. The other side not as a counter point but as counter-balance.

God has revelaed to her the same things that God has revealed to me.  Then I heard pieces that she go that I did not get.  Then I realized I got some piece that she did not get.  Then as I closed my eyes I saw that God is moving in our day in and among many people.  That when the love of many may be waxing cold the love of God's servants who clarify internally God's eternal message of love and peace.  They present, warmed in God's oven, the holy truth that is holy in a new way.  God is still speaking and many of us have been given different part as we need to find each other come together and challenge the church and the world to hear the liberating message of God's love liberated from any theological, ecclesiastical, or self-serving agenda.  Then I recalled several years ago meeting a servant woman who had suffered violent loss.  She had asked me to share at a small gathering in Buffalo. Evie was her name in this human space but I am sure she is an angel with a new name now.  In any event she led me into thinking that it is when the pieces of our lives are sown together in a patchwork of quilting (un-guilting) like the depression quilts made in the early 20th century.  Those pieces sown together rather than fragmenting apart become the peace that the world needs.  Peace not achieved by the dicatatitatorship of any person, or the military dominance of any power, or the winnowing of words.  This peace is the peace that passes human understanding for it is a peace of inclusuion of positive intetnional care foreverything  created by God. and infusion of love and peace.

Peace and justice will only be achieved when we go inside and resolve to dissolve the apparent convicts with everything in my internal system.  Then from a place of peace with all the pieces (parts) woven together in a tapestry of understanding everything inside, we will begin to bring that peace to the world outside.

God was and is Love (Hesed) and Peace (Shalom).  In peace God made the world.  He is at peace no matter what happens in the world for "everything" is "very good" when we see everything form the place of love and peace.  The I see (faith sees what no one else sees) that everything is good and good is in everything.  I become a steward not just of me but of earth and all people and things, thoughts and feelings in and around me.  Peace on earth will result in good will toward all humanity. 

This is the Jesus way.  It is not a particularly religious or ecclesiastical way that is the truth way as defined by any particular group (church, temple, or mosque, etc).  It is a way beyond words.  It is the way the heart is with all.  A heart full of peace and love.   A spirit full of rave and truth.

Imagine such a world.  Be that world, inside and live that world into the outside world.

"World peace will be achieved through inner peace"


A New Statement of Faith, Musing into the 21st Century

Posted by Don Paine

Imagine a world where we all have deep convictions and beliefs that create a sense of need to correct each other because we thing it is about right or wrong.  Imagine the right wrong agenda that feeds competitiveness yielding to what we all believe in as compassion. Imagine a world where a statement of what we believe about God and the future is not replaced but subject to a Statement of Beliefs that are about a renewed sense of holiness and healthiness:

Our Statement of Faith:  Not a particular faith but the faith that sees what no one else sees:

We believe that God is the courageous creator of the world as we know it and remains a calm and compassionate toward that world regardless of anything.

We believe in God the creator of everything and that everything as created is "very good"(Genesis 1:31). That while creation is intentionally created replete with opposites like light and dark, all those opposites are not designed to create oppositional tension or conflict but reciprocal balance and harmony in the solar system of ideas thoughts and all created things.

We believe that all conflict is an intentional invitation to expand our universe to be inclusive and in harmony with all things and people in the balance of opposites through appreciation and understanding.

We believe that there are many ways to believe and all those ways are about loving God and loving God's creation, people and everything God made.

We believe that no one has a corner on truth but all are called to speak their honest truth without devaluing or denigrating any other truth for all truth comes from God.

We believe that we should treat one another out of the character of a peaceful spirit, a compassionate heart, a courageous soul, and a creative mind.  We always make room for all in an ever widening circle of love and kindness.

We believe the the most important two r's to community are the responsibleness to be mature non threatening and unthreatened  toward anyone and respectfulness in mutually affirming ways regardless of anything.

We believe that if we treat others as better than ourselves and everyone does the same the world will be a better place.

We believe that what we belief about God should never get in the way of living out the character of God.  God is love, God is peace, God is Spirit, and God is truth.

We believe that we are all created in the image of God and when we live in that image we live in peace and love and their is justice for all.

We believe that what we believe is out personal choice and  our distinct understanding of faith and we believe that we dare not offend others who believe differently by claiming that our way is the best or only way.  We believe that we must respect all other ways to believe that are different in the celebration of diversity and deference.  Faith is non-imposing and non-intrusive but expansive and embracing of all.

We believe that the way of peace (balance) and of love (harmony) is the only way to inner and outer peace. it is the way of Jesus and the way of all esoterics.

We believe the creator God is in internal and eternal peace and love as the essence of existence. 
We believe that in the end there is no end.

Religion and Spirituality, Statement of Beliefs

Posted by Don Paine

Religion is the formation of rules and roles to sustain and to promote the purity of faith and the practice of faith.  Most religions grew out of a person having a depth personal and spiritual experience that was life transforming.  The followers codified, categorized quantified and qualified the way to have a similar experience of spirituality.  The problem is that replicating a spiritual experience is not done by rules and roles but by respectful and restful openness.

Spirituality is about being quiet, calm, contemplative, compassionate, and courageous which results in the creative experience and expression of the deep resource within everyone of spiritual presence.  It is practicing the presence of peace and love within where the Kingdom of God dwells which transforms us form the inside out.

I sat today with a client today who was confused as she was not able to speak the truth of her heart to a fellow believer in the church because she would not listen so why even try to speak.  Speaking the truth in love that is the direction to the church to be the church is not nurtured while ecclesiastical beliefs that are about rules and roles for the church and intentionally to purify promote and practice faith does not s nurture spiritual presence.  I began to think following this session what it would be like if instead of statement of faiths that define core beliefs about God, the church adopted "Statements of Belief that were about being the church"

We believe that there are many ways to believe and all those ways are about loving God and loving God's creation, people and everything God made.

We believe that no one has a corner on truth but all are called to speak their honest truth without devaluing or denigrating any other truth for all truth comes from God.

We believe that we should treat one another out of the character of a peaceful spirit, a compassionate heart, a courageous soul, and a creative mind.  We always make room for all in an ever widening circle of love and kindness.

We believe the the most important two r's to community are the responsibleness to be mature non threatening and unthreatened  toward anyone and respectfulness in mutually affirming ways regardless of anything.

We believe that if we treat others as better than ourselves and everyone does the same the world will be a better place.

We believe that what we belief about God should never get in the way of living out the character of God.  God is love, God is peace, God is Spirit, and God is truth.

We believe that we are all created in the image of God and when we live in that image we live in peace and love and their is justice for all.

We believe that what we believe is out personal choice and distinct faith but we believe that we must respect all other ways to believe that are different in the celebration of diversity and deference.

Ok I have to think and look at this and see what I think as

 I have just mused freely.  Imagine what would happen if we adopted these Statements of Belief???
More later

Hearts of a Father and Hearts of Children

Posted by Don Paine

The last book of the old testament ends with the last verse: "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers" or I will come and strike the land with a curse.  Malachi 4:6

I have three reflections from mediations on this:

The Father of heaven turned his heart toward his children, all creation, and opened his heart to the suffering and betrayal of humanity.  It opened the door to his creation, children turning their heart toward the Father.
Malachi is the prophet for the 21st Century calling us to turning and tuning our hearts toward our children as father's and to lead our children to turning and tuning their hearts toward us.

Yesterday was fathers' Day.  Two of the three of my children, and all three of my great grandchildren   were at our home for a hike and cook out.  It was wonderful.  Over the past few years their has been hurt and betrayal in our relationship.  As a father I caused some of that pain.  The daughter not present though very present in spirit worked through our sense of betrayal and I asked her forgiveness.  My heart tuned and turned to her in a new way and healing occurred.  The ripple of that seoulhealing (she is from Seoul Korea) has continued to expand in the family wherever it is welcome.  Our family gathering was a rich celebration of hearts healed.  All of us different in our minds about lots of things but one in our heart of love for each other.

Turning and tuning our hearts toward the hurt and pain in others creates healing and hope for our world.  We judge with our minds that think certain things and our feeling that get stuck in certain fixations.  In these days God is calling the church the world to let go of judgment that is about correct thinking and embrace the heart with heart for healing.

So thank you to all my children who have provoked me to growth and who have grown with me!  From being right in mind and opinions to being right in heart and attitude.

When the heart of the father can take the lead in admitting failure he may become the best leader of all.
I believe God is calling Father's to take the lead in leadership not as in dominance or control but as example and true fortitude.

It was a great father's Day

Amazing Love: That we might be one becomes that we are one

Posted by Don Paine

Amazing love:  It loses to win, it wins by losing, and in the end no one wins and everyone wins at once.

It is unconditional, agenda free, and transformational.

When the covenant to love replaces the creed of truth, then the real truth and the real church will emerge.  When the church is willing to lose its need to be right. and have the correct and only right theology then the church is free to be the church.  Instead of theological dogma covenant embraces the theology of peace and righteousness for all and to all.

Loving not with the agenda that we be one but with the agenda to be loving toward all and at peace with all.  This is the peace that surpasses human knowledge and understanding.  It is peace not of this world but peace as God lived it out in Jesus who loved all and gave up his right to live to teach us how to love.  This peace and love is amazing and is the source of justice for all. The road to justice for all begins on the Calvary road of peace, love and righteousness, reflecting Christ's love, peace, hope, harmony and compassion for all man igniting the love and light of Heaven and Jesus in our hearts and lives.

This is the good news. The Call to Love is to reflect God's character: Love. The Gospel of Covenant is the good news. The wide welcome is an open door to all. It is a window of fresh air.  It is a mirror of a witness to the world that God is love and loved, you are loved. We are called to be loving in a spirit of love, light and compassion! This amazing love is internal, eternal, and for all.

We embrace ourselves with love and light.  We give ourselves compassion. Being with the presence of God and absorbing God's love into our hearts we offer that love to the world outside. Feeling at one with God in our hearts, mind and lives we become one with everyone. We radiate this out to the world and they see the amazing Love of Christ and they will know we are Christians by our love. 

I timothy as REWRITE by the youth of Stockbridge Church, MA

Posted by Don Paine

The youth have studied the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul this year.  They looked at the letters that Paul wrote to various churches.  Many of the letters were written to dear friends in cities where Paul had visited, preached and established the church.  In those letters, he was writing to his peers and contemporaries.  In the letters to Timothy, Paul was writing to the next generation of believers.  He shared his vision and practical advice for the continuing and sustaining of the church of Jesus Christ in the next generation. 
Our class tried to envision what this same letter  might look like if Paul had written to our generation, in this place – the church at Stockbridge.  Hear  the book of First Timothy, adapted for the church at Stockbridge 2010.

Chapter 1

Paul the Apostle to the church in Stockbridge

First off, I ask that prayers, requests petitions and thanksgivings are to God,  not to me. God wants everyone 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 to you as a teacher to explain the message of faith and truth. I give you my word on this.

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, faithful to their family, collected and calm. A leader has to know what he or she is talking about, not drink too much, not be pushy, be gentle, and not greedy. A leader has to handle everything well and pay attention to children and have their respect. If someone can’t handle their own problems they won’t be able to run the church. People who don’t know this person well must still think of him good of them.  Otherwise, it will be easy for evil to overtake them.
These same things 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 be controlling or bossy just because they have a position. They have to be able to prove themselves to become a servant of the church. Those who follow these rules will be respected.
I’ll be visiting soon but just in case I can’t come right away, I’m writing this so everyone knows how things must be in the church.

Jesus 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 or what your family has done in the past.   Bringing that up in the church will only cause arguments among you. 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.  They are the ones who need the specifics of how God wants things to be. 
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.

I am entrusting you with this so that you may use these words as weapons to fight well. Keep your faith and and your conscience clear, for some people have not listened to their conscience and have suffered as a result of 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 about who can be married 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 of your age or their age.  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 don’t have a lot so all people have some. Do not shame or blame anyone but be gracious toward everyone.
Do not send messages of any kind that are negative or demeaning as that will make you a poor representative of Christ. Speak 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 the part of you that is 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 your own agenda, is the true gain.  Always gain a good and healthy perspective. See that as always more important than gaining wealth or any other thing.
The love of money or anything more than God or people is like a pot hole that damages your alignment or 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 Greatest Debt owed to all by all

Posted by Don Paine

A few weeks ago there was a political jostling on the issue of raising the "debt ceiling".  I called my son who is much better about finances than me and he tried to explain to me that we have to do that so our credit will remain good.  I was a bit puzzled and told him that I was.  My puzzlement was that if I raised my debt ceiling I would have less credibility and if I decreased my debt I would have more.  I think he told me that I was right but that we had to do this wrong thing or something bad would happen.  Interesting?

Today, I was reflecting on debt. I was reminded of a verse in Romans 13 which is interestingly enough a passage that deals with the relationship of citizenry to their government.  Verse 8 says:  "Let no debt remain outstanding except the ongoing debt to love one another".  What if we were to raise this debt ceiling and all of us took this seriously.  What if in America everyone eliminated all their debt but increased their sense of owing everyone "love and compassion".  What if that love was unconditional and free of any agenda: political, economic, social, religious or personal?  What if instead of owning things we focused on owing to all people love and care.   The true debt and the only debt we should be servicing is the debt to love one another.

Maybe just maybe their might be peace and justice on earth.  Maybe even our economy would improve because our energy was in the right place.

Maybe if we did the right thing something good would happen?


The Real Pope stands out

Posted by Don Paine

In a day where the news is full of athletes who think only about themselves, their money, their fame, about winning and money it is refreshing to see an athlete stand out from the crowd.  It is true that the media tends to put the bad stories on the front page still even though we are in a new century of enlightenment?

It is also try that humanity in general still seems to pursue money and profits more than integrity and honesty. Have you ever walked away from a counter and realized they gave you too much change.  No one was around so no one would ever know.  Did you pocket the money and say "his loss my gain".   Did you reason you did nothing wrong and he just made a mistake?

Several weeks ago we went on a one day trip, budget version so off season, to a resort town.  After walking the beach, swimming a bit our golden retriever went totally in the other two humans in descending degrees of wet then walked the small town.  No crowds made it more fun.  Afterwards we stopped at a little ice cream shop.  Debbie went in for ice cream while I managed the dog, sorry Ginger.   then I went in to get my ice cream and of course ice cream for Ginger.  I paid what the man charged me.  Walked back to Ginger and Mom.  As we were all enjoying our ice cream.  I told Debbie how much I paid and she said that is not right then we realized that he forgot to charge us for her ice cream and I had assumed she had paid.  We went back in to the store and made it right.  Then ice cream man said, "I cannot believe it you are the first people who have ever come back to make it right!"  How sad.  It is in the isolated moments that true character comes out.  I am not saying we always do the right thing more concerned about doing the right thing than profit or gain.  I confess I had a part that said, his mistake our profit.  Thankfully I was in control of that part not that part in control of me.

Yesterday Leonard Pope, an NFL football player with the San Diego Chiefs, was at a pool party and heard the cry of a mother for her son who was drowning .  Without through for the cell phone in his pocket or anything else except the need of this little boy he dove into the water and came up with the boy.  I do not know if he is a Christian but his behavior and focus was that which mirrored Jesus who thought of all of us more than he did himself and dove into humanity to save humanity form drowning. I is not about what you believe as much as how your belief translates into actions.  He stated that he did not have time to think it was just a reaction without thought.  He had to act.  He dove in without any thought except this 6 year old boy will drown if no one does anything.  He did not look around to see if anyone else was doing anything.  He acted in calmness and compassion form inside.  What a role model for all kids and people.

The real Pope stood tall in that moment.  In the tradition of the first Pope, Peter.  He did for another without thought of self, without thinking about gain.  This is an athlete in action.  The content of character is what really matters after all.

Divorce and the story of cats

Posted by Don Paine

The other day I was with a 6 year old who was trying to max sense of his divided life.  A part of him loved his mother. Another part loved his dad.  A part of him could not figure out how his parents who once loved each other were now hating each other.  He had written a short story about cats so I made up a story that after it came out of me (the foundation story was in me but I had never used it in this way) and I saw that it was helpful to home I decided it might be helpful for others.  Here is the story changed a little for this setting and for context:

When people get married they snuggle up together like two cats that lay together really tucked into each other.  Someplace along the way something triggers a part of them that changes how they see each other.  It is as if someone tied their tails together while they were sleeping and threw them over a clothes line. What do you think would happen.  The little boy looked up at me and said, they would start fighting".  Exactly!
That is what happens when something goes wrong in a marriage.  The boy looked up at me and said, "How do they stop?"  Interesting? Somebody has to untie their tails. When people get married they love each other.  Over time something triggers their hurt and angry parts.  It sometimes gets to feel like two cats fighting and you can feel in between.  Even when someone unites the knot in their tails that had replaced the weaving of their hearts, they keep fighting becasue they think they have to.  They try to draw you into it.  When your dad says he hates your Mom it is the part of him that can't stop fighting.  It has nothing to do with you so just ignore their fighting and see that it triggers a part of you that might feel bad, sad, and confused.  He asked "will they ever stop fighting?"  I said, I am not sure.  You can stop letting them pull you into the fight.  Just think of the cat story you wrote whenever your dad tells you how much he hates your mother and how bad your mother is.  See it as his fighting cat part and don't take it in or try to fix it cause it is not about you it is about him and your mom.  Do the same when you are with your mom. It is not even about them but about their parts that once loved, you are a product of that love.  Now they only know to fighting.  Just know that inside of them they love you but their outside parts fight over you and through you or try.  Just know you are loved and let love set you free of any fighting inside.

It is not about fighting it is about loving.  Compassion replaces confusion when you step out of the fighting.

Stumbling but never falling

Posted by Don Paine

This weekend I was out for a walk and began to stumble and caught myself before falling down.

Three thoughts gripped me:
1) Thank you God for helping me to catch myself
2) I thought of my friend who has ALS, who walked a 3 mile walk for ALS in NY a few weeks ago surrendered by friends like my wife and I who walked with him.  Several times as he stepped down along the course he nearly stumbled but God strengthened his internal courage and he did it without falling.
3) I thought of a promise in God's Word to all people:  Psalm 37:23 "Though he stumble he will not fall down for the Lord upholds him with his hand".  

No matter what happens in your life:  natural disasters, unnatural disasters, difficult days, untimely and horrific death, this passages says to all that even though these things may cause us to stumble, falter and even fail, God is always there to catch us in our falling, and in our failing.  I picture God catching us in our hopeless and helpless states.  Catching us like I recall catching one of my children and just wrapping him up in my arms where he felt safe, loved, and cared for.  Not rescued but strengthened to believe in the power of the holding of love.

I believe this is the sacred space where you and I are in the "arms of God's love".  Whether you know it or feel it or not, it is true.  God is there for you.

When i was a child I fell head first onto a cement floor.  God id not prevent me from falling.  I did not die.  I could have.  I believe God is there with loving arms always.  Whether to rescue me from death or to welcome me to eternal life, God is and was there!  Arms of love are like that.  Always there.

I am glad God rescued me to life that day.

The one thing that is always true is the Arms of Love are there.  In life and death, arms of love keep us from falling into the hell of despair where there is no love.

On the train

Posted by Don Paine

I was the train coming back from NYC and a man was talking loudly and rudely apparently on his cell phone.  When the train official arrived and confronted the passenger he apologized profusely.

She told him it was okay.

When the train official left he began again.  Her okay that I imagine was intentionally placed to make him not feel so badly, as she had called him on his irresponsible and disrespectful behavior. It actually seemed to make him think it was okay to go back to previous behavior.

I began to thing this may be what happens when people confronted but make no changes.  What if she said.  You are okay but this behavior is not okay so thank you for changing and being more respectful to others and more responsible for your behavior.

What is the balance between confrontation with compassion and having so much compassion that the confrontation never registers and therefore behavior never changes.

Compassion is a key but too much can have the key lost.

Moving Worship

Posted by Don Paine

Rev. Anthony Robinson told the story of being in a church as a worshipper.  During the opening hymn a 7 year old girl named grace was dancing and twirling to the music, while the rest of the congregation sang with a stiffness that was accentuated by her movement.  She was lost in "wonder and praise" which is just what worship really is.  Getting lost in the wonder of God's love twirling to the delight of the rhythm of the soul and the moving of the spirit.

Later in the service the pastor came forward to do the children's sermon and there were, as he scanned the whole congregation, no children.  Here is where a part of me is triggered and I want to respectfully and responsibly note those parts without e parts in others that might take my words as being critical or judgmental.  So let me try to speak with love and grace the truth that is in me without implying that it is "the truth" or the only way to see this.

What an opportunity to let the little girls movement be the children's sermon.  To talk about "inhibitions that restrict the free worship of God."  I was triggered to recall a moment in an interview for ministry in a church as their senior pastor in which the following question was posed:  We have some concern that some of our people are raising their hands in worship in an effort to show off which makes others uncomfortable.  How would you handle this?"

My response:  First let me say that Worship is by definition freedom for all to worship in the way they are best drawn into the presence of the living God.  Second, when I am in a church and no one is moving or raising their hands, I know two things:  1) that some have it the way they want it and 2) others are sitting on their hands and crossing their feet restricting their souls need to move.  We need to create space for people to be free to do what is in their heart and in their body that is part of their worship.  We especially should not judge others as "showing off" in worship when Worship is "showing up".  Grace the little girls name is the key.  Having grace toward all invites all to Worship in the multitude of ways that people can and do worship without being inhibited by "we do not Worships that away here" meta message.  Maybe the 7 year old was the message that say but because she was not seen as the messenger her message was missed.

Look around for a message form a 7 year old when you are in church or synagogue or temple or mosque this Sunday.  Maybe the reason children are not present in many of our church is that our welcome is not wide enough for them to feel welcome.  Let's widen our welcome by broadening our thinking.  We may be old but our thinking need not be.

May grace abound in our WORSHIP!  May children lead us to be free in Worship!

Burnt Sandwich

Posted by Don Paine

I ate at Panera's with a friend today.  My pick 2 included and Tomato Mozzarella Panini Sandwich.  It had a three inch corner burnt black hard and bad.  I never like complaining much and just go along with whatever so ate and talked telling my annoyed part it is not so important.

The waitress came over to take our dishes away and she asked if everything was okay.  My friend and I had been talking about speaking in truth and grace with people.  I seized the moment as if out of control.

"Well while apart of me really enjoyed my lunch, another part of me said this is unacceptable. ( I turned over the three inch corner of the panini with its hard blackened crust....)  I can burn my bread this well on my own I do not need to have them do it for me."  The pleasant waitress said that I should have asked for another and they would have given me one.  "So, I have to be the complainer to get a well un-burnt panini.  I get that is a legitimate response but it puts the responsibility on me.  When it is the chefs responsibility to cook the sandwich and check it before he or she serves it to a customer.  For my part it is on them to do there job not on me to complain.  I obviously am not wanting a new sandwich, it is also obvious that I enjoyed most of the sandwich.  It is obvious also that I am not angry or demanding just calmly and clearly speaking for a part that felt unattended to.  I just want the kitchen to know to check and not serve a burnt sandwich hoping that the recipient would not notice or complain."   She said I will let them know. " I wished her a good day and smiled as she turned and walked away.

I wonder, what was that young lady thinking as she walked away.  Was I a grouchy old man to her.  Did she experience me as speaking calmly and clearly without anger or judgment but with compassion and courage.  Does our culture place the burden of complaining on us then we complain that people are complaining?  Doe we just shut up about it because it is not all that important or should we model speaking in a compassionate way.

Speaking truth in a compassionate, clear and calm way is elusive yet it is the direction to the church (Eph 4).

If you cannot say it in a nice way then do not speak might be a good rule to follow. My grandmother's wisdom:  If you do not have something good to say say nothing at all is replaced by:  "When saying anything to anyone about anything say it in an affirming and challenging way. Positively speaking the truth about yourself and how you are feeling in a nice and compassionate way is the mandate for the conversations at the church coffee table, social, work day, anywhere, anytime to anyone.

Grace in truth.  Truth in grace.  It is the Christian wrap.

Life is Fragile, Love is Faithful

Posted by Don Paine

Short, simple and profound

Posted by Don Paine

'If it is to be it is up to me"
-author iunkown

With God alongside and within me all things are possible only believe!

Blessed are the Meek for they shall inherit the earth

Posted by Don Paine

Years ago I took this be-attitude to mean that if I kept my mouth shut, suffered for Jesus, let people trample me under foot, in the end I will get the "well done" and not only get eternal happiness but also I will get to rule the earth.  Today I have one word for that, "Really"!

I see that position or understanding as feeding the ego, depleting honesty, and ruining the church.  It is not about getting power over.  It is about being empowered from the inside out.  It is about speaking out with courage, calmness and compassion toward all even those who would persecute or undermine you.  It is not power of over others it is power to be the authentic person you are and to see God work through that authenticity and audacity.

The meek are not the quiet mousey people that harbor inner angst or anger just waiting for their turn to rule.

The meek are the strong, opinionated, capable, assertive, and aggressive people who have no agenda to control and who can with unconditional love surrender their power without malice toward anyone and can exert their power with charity toward everyone.  The reason the meek will inherit the earth is they are then ones who have been given f=great power but refused to use that power to fulfill their own agendas or to abuse or misuse anyone regardless of how tight they might have been.  Might does not make right in this spiritual system.  Might is willing to sacrifice its power.  Right rules might.  In the kingdom only those who have been meek can be trusted to rule in a Godly way.  In the way of righteousness, might surrenders to right!

Power is not about exerting control over others it is about being in control of one's human self.  Similarly the divine self is in control from the inside.

Omnipotence is all powerful from within not over those without.  Guess I am a little still on that from yesterday's blog.  I will control myself and let that be all folks.

God is All Loving and All powerful

Posted by Don Paine

These two ideas seem mutually exclusive.  Theologians have debated it.  Churches have split over it.  Families and people are distressed over it.  In a blog entry a creative fellow blogger (she is more creative than me so it he fellow blogger is about us the creative comment is about her).  It always amazes me how people can read things very different than I intend them but I am working on this.  A few weeks ago Di at The Kitchen Door - wrote about people believing that God is not omnipotent.  I was triggered to write the following blog as I believe God is omnipotent and also All loving.  So here are some thoughts on congruency of those apparent opposites.

The creator God holds the world in their hands.  The plurality of God is the context for the paradoxes of humanity. God gives freedom then has to retreat from over asserting or controlling events but remains present.  How is that?

When we hold people in our lives it is often so loosely that they do not feel or experience our care.  Sometimes it is so firmly that we feel smothered or controlled.

Two things I have learned about humanity.  Everyone loves to have some kind of control over something or someone.  No one likes being controlled or having no control.  This creates a paradox and polarization.

God holds loosely allowing humanity total freedom of choice.  He also holds firmly giving humanity a sense of presence that is not about power to control but about the power to be present even though apparently out of control.

God is not the power controlling God that some present him to be.  God is free of the need to control for they are open to and embracing of both love/surrender and power/control.

For God it is not the presence of power but the power of presence.

The psalmist declared in Psalm 62:11 “One thing hast thou said, Two things have I heard, that though o Lord are Loving that thou o Lord are power.   Love and power are one in the heart of God that sees the power to surrender and the sacrifice of loving as the essence of the divine.  It is the majestic matrix of the divine.  God holds the world and everyone in the world in the non-confining, non controlling arms of love and the power of loving presence.

The creator is the sustainer, the sustenance, the substance, and source of all that is.
The God of creation is the God who is strong enough to give “freedom of the will” and remain present regardless of how that freedom is used.  God is not in control of all things but as all things happen God is in control of creatively finding, forming, forging and framing good in and out of what happens.

God is good and loving not in that he controls things and only lets good and love happen in the world.  God is good and loving in that, whatever happens in the world out of his control, he is not rattled but draws meaning out of and pours meaning into all that happens.  This is why it is all good!

All is good.  God is all love and God is all powerful.

Everything (Genesis 1:31) works together for good” (Romans 8:28)

It is all very good.

Messianic Complex, Messianic calling

Posted by Don Paine

I was turning the corner to my home form my walk when I noticed a friend drive up to his shop in  his pick up truck.  I had just checked my watch and said, "wow, I am behind better get to my blog".  I walked by then turned around and greeted him with, "I know you are busy but I figure if I am too busy to stop and say how are you doing to a friend I am too busy".  We laughed and chatted some and here I am.

Meditative walks are great but my mind has so many parts, thoughts and feelings what do you focus on.  I felt a little gentle breeze reminding me of a moment in time that a part had encapsulated and stored.  I was sitting in a hot seat, a great storm of conflict in the church had emerged, with the help of many parts in many people.  I had a part hat felt like it was a good manger and could help the church thought the conflict.
A group of leaders were gathered to be of help and they tole me I had a messianic complex.  I could get side tracked into how they thought I did and I thought I did not and it would all be for not so good!  So I step back.  Stepping back shifting perspective is an amazing thing and has an amazing effect on broadening your heart and enlightening your mind.

Why do we refer to something in someone as a messianic complex in a negative way.  We should not have that.  Should I not want to be help.  Should I not take a step back from "busy" to see a friend who I know is going through difficult times and not stop to say hello.  This could help start his day in a good way and mine.

The messiah is one who was able to step back and let humanity do whatever yet remain in peace.  He was never triggered by negative thoughts about self, God or others as he was always seeing more than anyone else.  Maybe this is a messianic calling.  A calling to "help" in little ways.  Ways that are not perceived to be helpful at first but in the end are what really counts.

I was going to blog about some theology stuff today.   I think this is more important.  If by Messianic Complex we mean that people think themselves to be the messiah when they are not I get that. What if we thought of the messianic complex as a complex of ideas that are not ego-centric but Christo-centric.
What if my theology or "got to get to work" thoughts are ego-centric, and stopping to say hello to a friend is a messianic complex of compassion and care as the primary rudders stirring the boat in the river of this day?

So step back, to step up and out into your day and have a good messiah day.  Be a sent one to someone to someone today.  Don't let it go to your head but let it come from your heart.

Giving redefined, true beneficence

Posted by Don Paine

I was listening to Dave Ramsey talk about “not loaning anyone money as it changes the relationship from friendship or family to debtor and debtee, “borrower is slave to the lender”.  I began to think that the wisdom of acts of beneficence are an illustration of that very point.  When I give a gift it is an act of benevolence as I do not expect it to be paid back.  When I give someone money, with the expectation that it would be paid back it is bondage, it is an act of indenture not an adventure.

I recalled a member of the church I pastored who did not want to take money form the benevolent fund because he had always been able to take care of his family.  He had had a heart attack and was in long term rehabilitation and it was creating a real strain.  He told me that the only way he would accept the money was if it was a loan that he would pay back.  I explained that it was a gift encouraging him to learn the gift of paying forward.   When he accepts the gift, it changes forever his experience and frame.  He moves out of the debtor mindset into the giver mindset.  “It is more blessed to give than to receive because to give it away changes the “paradigm frame of giving and receiving”.  In the future when he sat in church and the “benevolent offering” plate came by, he would view that opportunity to give very differently.  He had received freely so now he gives more freely. 

Maybe this is the lesson of getting out of the bondage of debt.  It exchanges the bondage of debt to the blessing of debt free loving and living. It frees us up to really give.  The freeze on giving is thawed out.

Shifting our focus to give without thoughts of what we get or what we had to give up.  True free giving.