About Me

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

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The Cab Ride: It was an Orange not an Apple

Posted by Don Paine

I walked out of church with my good friend from old days.  Stepped into a cab that would bring me to the airport.

For the next 45 minutes we spoke truth into each others life.  It was not telling each other what we wanted each other to know.
It was about being together in a way that invited the story.  It was not about telling him a truth that I know that he needed to know.  
What I know is the truth that I know is only important to me and if I try to impose my truth rather than exposing my heart.
 I err in the practice the true practice of faith. Story telling is what we as human used to do because there was no knowledge written.
I wonder, as I write, if it would be a better world if we had no knowledge.  If we only had the inner wisdom of love and peace would this be a better world. 
 How can we learn to be willing to put all the knowledge aside and just be in peace and love with another human being.

I did that today in a small measure and a huge measure of wonder filled my soul.  I may never meet this man again but he added to my living and I want 
to believe I added to his.  How did it happen?  He was born in Ghana, Africa and was driving cabs in DC, I was born in Massachusetts a white anglo saxon.  
The wisdom of loving others as we know we want to be loved and being at peace with other each other stories from our lives that contributed to our living.

Our conversation began rather normally.  He asked me why I was in DC.  I explained I was at a conference presenting a workshop.  He asked on what?  I gave him a short capsule:  I was presenting on accepting all parts and all experiences of life as instructors in the course of living life.  Like Jesus who had welcomed all people regardless of anything and helped them achieve peace of heart regardless of anything they had ever done.  He asked for more details revealing that he was a Christian plagued by guilt for 40 years  We talked more about God's grace.  About how God wants us to look him in the eye and tell him what we did wrong and accept the and grow through the consequences.  We people let us off the hook they do not do us a favor for being let off the hook though gracious does not relieve us of guilt and shame.  I reviewed the Genesis 3 story.  I had a part that felt like I was giving him too much stuff but another part of me saw his attentiveness. He nearly stopped the can tuned around and told me that I had just helped him to understand something that he had never understood before  He asked me if he could tell me a story that he had been plagued with since his youth an to this day feels guilty about.

We spoke to each other not out of judgement but out of open heartedness.  I had come from a conmference where I had spoken about things I think are so
important for people to know.  But my "know it part" has learned that it is not as importnatn as it thinks it is.  It is not my knowledge that people need it is the
authentic experience of authentic presence. It is "with" and "in" an openhearted way that we spoke.  We talked about lots of things  and eventually got to speaking about deeper things.  

I am temtped here to tell you the reader things about our conversstation as if you need to know them or I need to tell them.  But it is not about me, nor is it about needs,
It is about divine energy of being present without agenda and with no conditions then letting the moment create itself.  It did.  

So here is one story that came to me in a fresh way due to his story which he chose to share with me.  I told him I would see that story because it was better to make
the point I had than anything I had so he had improved me and my clarity of the compassionate message I want to bring to the world.  Not the world at large.  
But it is the small world of my human existence.  People like Larbi who I meet on my journey are most important. Everyone likes people coming to hear them speak at a workshop but that is incidental to these providential meetings.  It is not people who come to hear me or even who read this blog.  It is People connecting with people with stories, that is what living is energized by.

Larbi told me that at 16 he cut down a neighbors orange tree becasue it had one big juicy orange on it and he wanted that orange.  Inside of him he knew it was wrong.  41 years later he still knows it was wrong.  His father made him go to the person and look him in the eye and tell him that he knew it was wrong but did it anyway.  He was just hungry.
He just wanted the orange but it was wrong to cut the tree down.  He acted without thought for anyone else but his own appetite and need.
The owner of the orange tree told him it was okay as the tree was old and had only one orange on it.   A part of me wanted to scream because saying it is okay when it is not okay contributes to confusion.  It was true that for the owner it was not a big deal but that does not make it okay.  This is where the social system while intending to be gracious becomes confusing and chaotic.

The system of the world only works when there is balance of all truths and balance only works when all parts of the truth are spoken with equity and equanimity.  
It dawned on me that this cab drive just gave me the perfect illustration to make a point that God had introduced me to.  I asked him if i could use it and told him that
it was better that the story I had used to make my point.  He looked at me with curiosity and asked me to tell what it was that I was teaching.   I had by listening to him,
valuing his story earned the right to speak a truth.  ANother truth became clear through this experience. We cannot just tell people truths that we want them to know we need to be invited by our authentic presence in to
the opportunity to speak of truth.  Even then I was careful to speak the truth, that was in me, not as the truth but as a truth.  In the multiplicity of truth there is a greater truth.   This is not relative truths but truths from different [perspectives and perceptions that form different conclusions. This keeps the welcome door always open,  to a part in another person that wants to say no or yes or let me think about it, to anything I say.

So here is the teaching as a story:

When God came into the garden of Eden the day after Adam and Eve had sinned.  Nothing had changed in God.  They (an inclusive way of referring to the male vs female imaging of God - God is not maternal or paternal God is eternal and supernal) that is  came into the garden that day the same way they came in every preceding day.  The only change was in the mind and heart of Adam and Eve.  They were in hiding.  Were about to step over the threshold of peace and love into the world of blame and shame.  No one told them this.  They felt it inside because they knew inside that they had done something against themselves and the blessing of life as god had prepared for them.  They went into hiding because they could not face the God who they had disappointed and inside they had sinned against their own existence.
What died that day was their natural sense of peace and love for all God had given.  The original blessing was still there.  It was not lost.  What was lost was the capacity to see it clearly.  As an injured part that felt shame and to defend itself resorted to blaming someone else.  Thank fully God was above all that and still is.

Larbi told me the following story.  As a 16 year old he cut down an orange tree because he wanted an orange.  He knew it was wrong , no one needed to tell himit was wrong.  He did it because it looked good to eat and he knew that it would be good to eat.  What was wrong was that he cut the tree down to get the orange.  What was not wrong was his desire to eat, to be nourished.  It was a seed bearing fruit so had all the seed of God in it but also the seed of human desire and human fear.  What was wrong was the 16 year old boys willingness to risk wrong but not willing to face the eyes of those he had offended.  He wanted to hide, deny, protect rather than admit, be responsible and respectful. 

When people do wrong they know inside that they have done wrong what they do not know is how to come clean, accept their offending part and with compassion and kindness shift the focus form judgement against the behavior and punishment for the behavior but present a loving acceptance toward the person nurturing the experience of being loved and cared for rather than judged and punished.  AS John spoke: "perfect loving cast out all fear".

Larbi knew he had been wrong but he needed his father to force him to look at his part that did this, and at the person who he did it against.  In both instances the loving caring presence that transforms the conflict of judgment into the compassion of acceptance was present.  What was missing was the consequence for his behavior.  He did not want to get off scott free.  Or rather a part of him while glad for the immediate forgiveness knew it was wrong and the owner telling him that it was okay was not right.  As my mother used to say, "two wrongs do not make a right".  I was careful here and told him that it was not that he needed to be punished.  Punishment does not help.  Neither does just forgive it.  He needed to welcome this grieving guilty part and let it know it was right to look in to the eye of the one he offended and tell him he was sorry.  Then when the owner of the orange tree said it was okay, he needed to say no it is not, let me work on your farm for a day to show you that I accept my responsibility and accountability for wrong.  Just being forgiven is a mistake we often make.  It is when you forgive yourself for what you did that you are set free.  He looked at me as if a weight had dropped off  his shoulders.  I nervously asked him to stay focused on the road.  I will not take from God forgiveness that does not contain accountability and consequences.  Truth and grace are  both necessary for true freedom to be experienced. 

Imagine what would have happened if Adam and Eve after plucking the orange off the tree and eating it, choose to stay in the garden sitting on the bench and when God came into the garden they said:  "Oh God are we glad to see you.  We know we did something wrong in defiance of your standard but we knew you would not be angry or punish us but be present with us, to come alongside of us, to help us to figure out what we do now came into the Garden.  What caused Adam and Eve to go into hiding was their shame, their blaming of each other, and their guilt.  God came into the garden that day in the same way that God did every other day.  With loving presence God came into the garden with compassion and calmness.  It was the inability to look in the eyes of God and be honest and humble.

Larbi thanked me for helping him to get free of a 40 year burden.  I thanked him for giving me a story that makes it all fit together.  It was not an apple.  Apples do not grow in that climate, oranges do.  Oranges are peeled to get to the juice, the truth and to the seeds of life.  We had done that together.  I thank my friend as well who challenged me to not "do mu plan" but be open to another way.  Little did I know God was in that way.

Warning care for others may produce love and peace in the world

Posted by Don Paine

Warnings are tended to warn us of harm that will come upon us.  The purpose of these warnings is so we would be better prepared for it when it comes or do something to ward off its coming.  Weather warnings, food warnings, air quality warnings, etc all come under this heading.

Another kind of warning not often framed or used is the warning if you do nice things for people nice things will come back to you.  For instance everyone wants respect but few say.  I am going to respect you and everyone regardless of anything because respecting others is just right to do.  That person will be respected as he gives respect.  True some will take advantage but in time the best way to be respected is to give respect and see it come back.  It is a nice pay forward idea.  It is the opposite of pay back.

Several years ago my wife and i were in Paris.  I was up for an early morning walk.  I took a lot of pictures.  Recently during a storm that cancelled everything I reviewed some of those pictures.  This one was interesting for me.  It was on a street in Paris.  It's message in English for all nations.

Wonder what would happen if we all on earth began to live rather than just singing "Sleep in heavenly peace" we all put peace an love out toward others regardless of anything.  Let's all curl up in a hotel of love and peace and dream it into reality by living it out daily.

The Problem with Warnings

Posted by Don Paine

We all sat around waiting for the fury of nature to come upon us.  Hurricane Irene was on a path for New England coast line.  By the time it got here it had become a tropical storm.  High winds and much rain resulted in lots of damage but the warnings and the public fear that those warnings produced is disquieting.

Years ago they had storms and no warnings except the sense of storm in the air.  There was no radar tracking and immediate information of what has been in other places and what is coming.  Immediate access of information and emergency response teams create a sense of safety and that is good.  At the same time the warnings that go unfulfilled create a "the boy who cried wolf" syndrome."  People listen less and less to warnings particularly those that are controlling and directing.   People were directed to leave there homes for Red Cross shelters because they have no electricity.  It is great that we have shelters but really because you have no electricity you have to give up the comforts of your home for a cot in an open hall.  Maybe it is because people are used to sleeping with the light on or the TV going.  Years ago in fact a few weeks ago we lived in a camp with no electricity and so we simply went to bed and got up at dawn,  There was no real problem.

Faith sees the ark of God's care as a place of and for shelter but even there there was no electricity so what did they do at night in the storm.  They slept in the comfort of knowing that whatever will be will be.  All I have to do is respond to whatever is with love and grace toward all and all will be well.  All that really matters that is.

That is what people did years ago.  They weathered the storm instead of listening to weather warnings.  I am not saying we should not listen to wether warnings as that would be irresponsible.  I am saying while listening to the weather warnings we should imply and employ trust in God to be with us no matter what. We then relax out of the "electricity of fear" into the "electricity free" night with the "electricity of faith".

With eyes of faith wide open we close our eyes in faith.

God gazing

Posted by Don Paine

I looked up into the sky.  It is beautiful and bright with some few white clouds, like pieces of white cotton on a blue blanket  The sun shining brightly.  It looks like a perfect day. I thought of all the different things I see in the sky: Winged birds flying with the freedom of the wind and the joy of the heavens.  Planes man's attempt to fly so he could have more time to visit.  I think of the plane that just took my daughter back to Seoul, Korea.  Ot the planes that brought my other daughter and her family to Yellowstone Park for a vacation.  I thought how good God is to give us wings to fly and the joy of being with people who love us and who we have love towards.

Then I recalled the forecast:  hurricane Irene is coming up the coast and there will be rain and more rain and high winds for days.  Indeed the calm before the storm.

Then I recalled that nearly 10 years ago on a Tuesday morning so similar to today their was a storm about to come our way.  A storm of "hells fury" when people feel abused and terrorized so think they have a right to abuse and inflict terror.  Who would have ever thought of planes being used as missiles to crash into the twin towers without respect to human life on the airplane or in the towers, nor the terrorists themselves.  Their was not warning, no forecast just the sudden trauma of the tragedy.  For a time the heat of that fury galvanized a nation.

I am reminded that there is also a calm in the storm and a calm after the storm.  Calmness is the gift of faith in a world of chaos.  The certainty of heaven's calm is the balance point of "hell's fury".  The sky is not falling. Peace and love are rising to meet the peace of the blue sky and the arm love of the sun.

Thanks be to God.

Agenda free and flexible, Agenda focused and faithful

Posted by Don Paine

A number of years ago when I was first introduced to the "Internal Family System" model of therapy (www.selfleadership.org) the founder said one thing then another that seemed incongruent and inconsistent. He said "the Self" has not agenda.  Later he said, "the Self has an agenda".

So today I am reflecting on two incidents in my life one today and one last Saturday.  Last Saturday, we went for a day trip to Nantucket Island.  I twas a perfect weather day and we had waited for one to come up.  My agenda was to get on the island early via the Freedom Ferry then eat at our favorite breakfast nook.  They have a patio that allows our dog to lay at our feet while we enjoy breakfast.  She gets the leftovers as a reward for good dog behavior which in her mind makes us good people.  There was an hour wait so we walked around town and it became a 2 hour wait.  I was bummed.  We then chose to eat at another new place.  We are adventuresome eaters but I was bummed my agenda was not done.  The new place was perfect and had a 10 minute wait for a perfect out of the way table.  Then another couple came in with their dog and we felt, "oh no".  the hour conversation that followed was great for our dogs and each of us.  Their were numerous connectors with this couple and we have exchanged emails already.

When I let go of my agenda something wonderful happened that I would have missed if I was so agenda focused that I could not be flexible.  I wonder how many connectors we miss because we are too agenda focused.  At the same time if I we were not faithful to our agenda to go to Nantucket the connection would never had happened.

So I began to imagine the bounty of living with an agenda but not being so fixated on what we want that we are not flexible about that agenda.  Maybe God's agenda is not for us to do or not do any particular thing but to be fair and flexible no matter what.  God remains in a position of peace and in a posture of love toward everyone.  That is God;s agenda.  Beyond that God is fair and flexible.

What if we all simply had an agenda to stay in a peaceful position or place regardless of anything and to remain in a posture of loving kindness toward everyone regardless of anything.   The we would be willing to sacrifice all the other agendas of life and the pursuit of happiness and in so doing be open to new vistas of mysterious living and ventures of wonder.

So I have learned to attempt to be faithful and focused in the agenda of loving actions and peaceful attitudes while at the same time having agendas that are easily flexed and changed opening my life to the wonders of wonder itself.

Oh yes, the other event:  I had on my agenda after dropping my daughter off at the airport to visit the New York Road Runners Club to meet up with some concerns for the NYC marathon some three months away.  My car overheated on 83rd street right by a parking space several blocks from the club.  So I am taking care of my ailing car and my agenda to stop at NYRRC will wait to another time. I was upset at first that my agenda was being dismantled.  At the same time, my agenda of getting my daughter to the airport and getting into the city and even finding a parking space were all met.  So i was more thankful than anything.  I was not happy about the car trouble but I was not rattled in my peace or disturbed in my loving kindness.  This is not always true but it was true today.  Thankfully.  I just got an email for them saying it will work out better next week.  So there you go.

It is both having an agenda and not having an agenda that is liberating and pacifying simultaneously.


Everyone is accoiuntable

Posted by Don Paine

After yesterdays blog on accountability I was reminded of some earlier thoughts, adjusted here, that are on the initial accountability of the original sin that is inclusive of the original blessing.

In the Genesis Record of sin:  accountability not judgment was the focus.  Many have missed this wanting to focus on God's judgment and punishment for the moral failure.  But a closer look results in the open hearted person seeing accountability and compassion.  Holding the persons responsible for something while doing so with a focus to help and restore the confidence and presence of love and peace.

There are 4 Compassionate responses all about accountability not punishment:

11.   God comes into the garden the day after their sin.  With Love and pace undisturbed by their actions God strolls into the garden, calling out to them, “Where are you?” The blessing of God’s abundant love and abiding peacefulness are unchanged regardless of anything. God let time lapse, let them feel the loss, and let them try to care for themselves.   While they were in hiding and covering up God was walking in with compassionate righteousness and creative resolution.   God holds responsibility for creating them, for giving them this garden of free choice, and for placing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.  God is the first to shed innocent blood on the earth as God creates a covering for them.  They have to give up their attempts to do it on their own and accept this offering of compassion. They are given the opportunity to choose freely to receive this gift of love and care that reminds them that no matter what they do, God remains in internal and eternal peace and in abundant and agenda free love toward them.

12.    The pair are held responsible and accountable for their behavior.  They start by excusing and blaming.  “We are naked so we hid” then “she gave me to eat” then we are trying to take care of it on our own because of fear and frustration. 
God told Adam that he would hereafter work the soil of the earth and fight the weeds of adversity to remind him that while God’s love and care is never lost, God offers them that which would help him to no take for granted what God gives but would through work toil learn to appreciate better that which costs him something rather than having it gifted to him as free.  This was a consequence and accountability directly related to his behavior choice which put ease and comfort ahead of thoughtfulness and appreciation for what he had and could not lose.

Eve was given a similar, consequence and accountability, directly related to her not seeing the hurt and pain of acting against her creative inner force.  While in her was the seed of life and love (the mother of all living things) she took that seed for granted and treated the sacred gift of choice in a self-serving way.  It caused pain in her heart so as a reminder and an instrument of helpful appreciation of the seed in her, childbirth that was to be without pain and work would now be both painful and work. In a parallel way they both were given “pain and work” for the purpose of appreciating the gifts of life and nourishment, nurture and nature. They both were given not judgment and condemnation but accountability and consequences to help them to live more maturely responsible, mutually respectful, and compassionate righteousness.  The response of God was not punitive and judgmental but responsible and redemptive.

4.  Later they were cast out of the garden.  God said, “now what shall we do, they now know good and evil, if we let them stay in the garden and they eat of the tree of eternal life they will live forever in this state of eternal frustration so we must cast them out of the garden in and act of creative, courageous, compassionate and from a calm place to protect them from themselves.  This was not punishment but protective intervention so the parts of them that knew good and evil but did not know how to love and care for both the good and evil in non-reactive, non-restraining ways.

Humanity has a curse of condemning and condoning polarity which perpetuates:  self-negation, self-effacement, self-deprecation, and self-aggrandizement.  The Divine offers a blessing of love and care of all parts without condemnation or condoning but offering compassion and care to all which perpetuates: Self-affirmation, self-confidence, self-healing, and self-resiliency.

Accountability and consequences help people to see what they did not see, or were not aware of.  Then in the presence of this accountability and healthy realization,the system self-corrects.  Trying to correct through punishment and deterrents only serve to promote frustration and fragmentation in the system.  Not holding accountable condones and promotes irresponsibility and confusion.

Proverbially finger pointing creates the point counter point culture in which the only point that is made is hurtful, painful and unhelpful.  The counter balance, that accepts shared responsibility and shared respectfulness, calls for the maturity of character. The character of integrity maintains internal peace and love and then offers that peace in love in relationships to the outer or external world.

A judgment free zone is not an invitation to keep on doing the same thing but the sacred space, with courage and creative resolve, to experience and express the resolve and resiliency of Peace and Love.

Not holding people of any age accountable for their actions is to condone those actions.  Punishing the person for the actions as an act of condemnation does not deter actions but perpetuates resistance and defiance so the behavior continues.

Meeting any person with compassion and concern, mutual responsibility, measures of accountability and mutual respectfulness provide the sacred space for inner change.

Back to the football player:  If the young man knew there were not exceptions and if he took money or benefits from anyone he would never be allowed to play football then watch the behavior change.  The problem is society wants the football player to provide entertainment and that is more important than integrity or honesty.

Only when money and greed will take a back seat to integrity and accountability will change occur.  Only when the education of the student at the university is in the front seat, driving the car, will change occur.

It is not the young man but the system that invited the young man to do what he does that is the problem.  The solution is in the system.  Every part and member of the system must be accountable to the system itself with internal integrity and compassion.

That is what God modeled there in Genesis three.  It has been awhile and we are still trying to get it?

Accountability, where is it

Posted by Don Paine

I was listening to the sports station the other morning.  The news of the day was the man from Miami University who was a football booster and who indicated that he gave money favors etc. to young men to play football at Miami University.

The gentlemen is already in jail for a ponzi scheme.  So what he was not the issue.  The dialogue went to the issue of how can you hold these young men of 18, 19, 20 years old accountable for taking these gifts.  Really?  The argument was that they were just young men not nearly grown up enough to be held accountable.  Really not grown up enough to know right form wrong, or to not care/be heldto know I thought to myself.  Is there no age of accountability anymore.  So we can hold some youth accountable enough to sign them up for the military or have them make decisions about where they go to school but we cannot hold them accountable for decisions in the presence of great temptation, a moment of pleasure, or an opportunity to get money.  I thought how I held my children responsible and accountable for their behavior at a much earlier age than 18.  Am I an abnormal parent.

Then it hit me.  This is part of the problem in our world.  No one is accountable for anything to anyone.
We are living in an age of un-accountability.  A few are held accountable by law and a punitive system but many of the real and affluent criminals are held above the law.

Accountability for behavior is a primary deterrent to poor choices.  When Adam and Eve sinned they were not give a second chance.  They were held accountable.  the key is that God also held Self accountable too.  It was mutual accountability.  No one was left free of accountability to grow up, become more aware, or change.  It was the accountability that forced them all to grow up, become more aware, and change.

It is all over.  We punish people for their third offense implying that they can offend twice.  We say we endorse "Zero Tolerance" of drinking but you can have up to .8 which means there is not zero base tolerance.  There is a .8 tolerance.  Zero tolerance does not mean punishment without compassion, or judgment without compassion.  It means we will not lower the standard but elevate the expectation that no one do anything without accountability and to embrace a posture of justice toward all in equitable and fair ways.

The university should be held accountable.  The young athlete is accountable.  The agents should be held accountable.  Parents should be held accountable. The system that puts winning football games ahead of education and learning life lessons should be held accountable.  Let's stop fooling ourselves and calling it gracious to not hold people accountable to a standard of just and equitable fairness.

The Eagle's Watchful care

Posted by Don Paine

  I was on vacation on the St Croix River in Northern Maine near St Stephens, NB, Canada.  It felt like the middle of no where, and God was everywhere.  

I suddenly began to see in all nature the voice and the quiet unmistakeable immeasurable presence of God.  In the quietness of the early morning or in the later evenings there were no sounds of the hustle and bustles of life.  There was the sound and the silence of the eternal God creator of all things.

I was in a little boat in the vast waterway fishing when as I looked up I saw an eagle high in the highest of al the pine trees that laced the skyline.  There were no skyscrapers just a creation watcher.  Perched in the highest point the eagle seemed to be watching over.  I took a picture to the left.

The waters seemed calm enough but then a breeze began to blow harder and harder.  It was as if the eagle knew something the weather man missed.  He probably was saying, who is this crazy man who does not know a storm is coming and he needs to go back to his island.  Just then the eagle flew away.  I got the hint and headed home arriving just before the storm got bad.  It was a wind storm that created white caps in the river.  I was safe at home.

I wonder how often God is watching over us wondering why we do not go for cover.  Urging us as an eagle of wide wings of comfort and care to come under his wings and know his love but we are too busy and ignore his watchful care.

AS an eagle spreads his wings of watchful care of all God's creation so God spreads his wings of love over all the earth and all the people of earth.

Northern Comfort from the God of All Creation!

Like a Bat of Heaven

Posted by Don Paine

Were arrived on the remote blueberry island on the St Croix River in Maine 3 miles from St Stephens, NB by boat.  An island bequeathed to the heritage of Debbie's Maine family heritage, especially infamous Flip.  The first woman Maine Guide and premier fly fisherperson!  Baileyville, ME is the address.  The location is "God's country" preserved from al the modern comforts of home that only seems to create discomfort in peoples lives.  We see more and have less.  We want more but need less.  With tongue in cheek we say "less is more" but we live as if "more is more is more is more and so on and so on.

The camp had been boarded up for 10 months.  We chased two bats out of the porch then the next day noticed one was caught in the wood stove.  We set it free but it stayed in the camp so we had to catch and set it free.

Coincidently I was reading a book, Heaven on Earth in it the Talmud Sanhedrin, 98a was quoted:  A rooster and a bat were waiting for the light.  The rooster said to the bat, I await the dawn. But you, why do you want the light?  .  He had a chapter named, "Bats and Roosters".  The author stated that roosters crow at the first light of day as they welcome the light.  Bats on the other hand say, "What is the big deal".

I was reminded of the expression of running like a"bat out of hell" and wondered why they were so content to be in total darkness.  As night fell and darkness put us all to bed I imagined that this is what it used to be like.  Total darkness.  No light for us to see things of the day that lead us into the darkness of night.  The bat caries a powerful message of heaven to me.  A message I only got her in the middle of no where, God's country.   The bat sees nothing.  Imagine if all the temptation of the day that cary me into the night of the soul were not visible to me.  If I were blind to all the subtle lures of sin for a season, or happiness for a moment, what would life be like.

Like a "bat out of heaven"I would walk by the light of the inner world of God's love and grace free of the sight that sees with prejudice, disdain, despair and disappointment.  In the darkness all I would see is the God of all and be silently comforted by the Shepherd's presence no matter what and loudly praising God from whom all blessings and burdens flow.  I would see not what i do not have and want.  I would see God in the thick darkness and be comforted. (Exodus 20:21)

So walk like a "bat out of heaven" and be comforted always regardless of anything.

Mind over Matter

Posted by Don Paine

A year and a half ago, I fell on ice and twisted my knee so badly that I severed the small tendon in my left knee.  It was so painful, I was unable to walk for some time.  Surgery was not advised.  Learn to live with it, was the advice.  I just hate that as living with something puts that thing in charge.  Resisting the part of me that thought I would never run again, I proceeded to exercise the knee, walk in increasing pace, and think optimistically.

My thirteen year old grandson was visiting with us from Seoul Korea and he was telling me, "It is about mind over matter".  I chided him some then acknowledged that many times our minds think negative and work against us and if we could get our minds to think more positively they would help us achieve more than we ever thought possible.

This morning I was running with a friend much younger than I and I told him, I was more of a walker these days.  I had built up my knee and it was feeling very good but I had not sustained more than a 1/2 mile jogging while doing 12 mile walks.  I began to jog with him at a slow and comfortable pace.  We talked as we moved along.  Because my focus was not on what I was afraid I could not do, my focus shifted to what I could do.  I ran a slow pace but pain free for the first time since my accident.  Why today and with a friend? Was I able to run and not grow weary!

I forgot about the problem and just ran.  Maybe that is the secret of mind over matter.  Just do it, and it will surprise you what you can do.  It is so easy to focus on a problem, a pain, or a perspective that is uninspired.  It is discipline, dedication, and devotion that turns eyes to see beyond and through whatever is, to all that you can be, become and do.

Maybe it is what Paul meant when he said, "Let this mind be in you".  The mind of Christ never saw an obstacle without seeing a way around it,  a problem without seeing a solution, or a cloud of despair without seeing a way through it.  Nothing matters in life except your mind yielded to  God and for all others and yourself.

In the middle of no where, Know where God is Here

Posted by Don Paine

I know it is often said but God is here, there and everywhere.   In this remote island, in the middle of no whereville, on the St Croix River in Baileyville, Maine God is wonderfully present.  The wonder of the peacefulness that magnifies sounds across the tranquil waters reminds me this early morning of the tranquility of God's peace in the heart.  It passes and surpasses human understanding and reason.  In the middle of the garden there was a tree but there was also a river of life running through all the problems of life both potentially available with all the blessings of life.  This island is a blessing.  I thank my father in law, Don for the gift that this island was to him and now beyond his living to our living.

Eternal living is like the eternal waters that well up into everlasting life because the flow of the river brings life and caries death away.  Today I drink of the river of life and rejoice in the gifts passed on from generation to generation in a family.  Uncle Jack comes over to the island tonight to share the living waters even in the wake of his wife's passing.  He with Flip were a pair who blessed this family form the goodness of earth and the goodness of life.  Thank you, Don Flip and Jack.  One of three will come to dinner tonight or perhaps all three will be there!

You can feel the peace of nature that is not arguably about anything but receiving that peace.  It is not peace of this world that we think is achieved by peace talks and singed agreements.  It is peace achieved through he balance and harmony of all things or everything God has made for as it interacts with responsible respectfulness to all nature, all is clam, all is bright.  It is indeed a good and silent night

God saw everything that he had made and how it balances and counter balances and said it is very good.  Genesis 1:31.  In everything give thanks for this is the Will of God for you.  Everything works together for good and goodness is in everything.

Another breath of fresh air.  It is God country here!


Posted by Don Paine

I was our jogging with a friend this morning.  We talked about everything from Apple Strudel to God.  He is from Germany and was up for a visit.  He promised to make "apple strudel" from scratch just the way his mother did when he was a boy.

We talked about how people need encouragement and challenge to excel.  We shared stories of people who had great potential but never developed because they could not risk with courage nor receive encouragement
to face difficulties and set backs and emerge better and stronger.  I reflected, Jesus did that when he told the disciples that when he would leave them, they would not be alone.  They would do greater works than he had done.  Jesus telling the disciples that they would exceed and excel beyond their master if they would only believe.

We sell ourselves and God short when we let failure define us, difficulties overtake us, and disaster shake us.  In all things we are more than conquerors if we just perennially remember that the encourager always sees what we can become even eclipsing His work and witness.  The wonder of extravagant encouragement propels us all too the wonder of Excelling.  Extravagant encouragement leads to extravagant excellence.

Be in wonder.  Live in Wonder. What a witness.

Competition: Two Faces

Posted by Don Paine

Sprint placed an add in Wall Street Journal. It read:
"Competition. It is not just better for America.  It's better for the planet. Competition inspires us to think about the future. Competition benefits everyone. Mather nature included."

In some ways we in America have lost our competitive edge.  As we try to make everyone a winner, winning as good incentive way is lost.  As I mused about this I realized there are two faces of competition:
One is a mean and hard face with lines of adversity;
I will beat you no matter, whatever it takes.  It is about winning no matter what.  It is driven by a win lose, winner take all orientation. I will do anything to win including cheating.  It is essentially Machiavellian and simultaneously mutually destructive.  Even when I win,I Lose.

One in a hard and firm face with lines of compassion:
I love the challenge of competition as it drives me to excel and causes you to excel as well. Mutually beneficial competition is excellent.  It makes both of us better. This kind of competition 
Is not about:  win loose, but about bilateral winning. It is essentially Christo-centric and is mutually constructive.  Win or lose we win as we better each others lives with fair and honest competition.

Good and healthy competition is mutually and societally beneficial.  It embraces fairness and honesty and enlarges the sense of community and connectedness.

The competitive edge that drives growth and excellence is lost when it only about winning. There is no incentive to achieve excellence or to advance the quality of living and relationships.

The face of healthy competition has a smile of achievement and competes with a smile of fairness honesty and mutual beneficence.
A good heart is necessary for healthy competition and healthy competition promotes growth and excellence, and good heartedness.  Competition without compassion creates chaos and confusion.  Competition with compassion and honesty creates and advances community and respectfulness.

So put a good face on competition and see a good face on your competition.