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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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Wise as serpents and Harmless as Doves

Posted by Don Paine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self evident truth

Posted by Don Paine

We hold these truths to be self evident:

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

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

The inalienable rights are:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.    

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

The inalienable responsibilities are:

Appreciate others while nor depreciating oneself

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

Perspecitives and Perceptions. change everything

Posted by Don Paine

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

Outrage is Powerful when it Promotes Peace and Love

Posted by Don Paine

Outrage is Powerful when it Promotes Peace and Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Sad day

Posted by Don Paine

People get sad about lots of things.

Today I am sad again that we are again calling something that is understandable revenge.  We are calling justice.

Troy Davis was executed in the state of Georgia.  Regardless of apparent guilt or innocence, regardless of the presence or absence of reasonable doubt, and regardless of the emotional pain in the family of the victim no amount of justifiable homicide will ever heal the hurt and loss or appease the internal anger of this act of violence.  Nor will it deter future violence. Violence begets violence. Ignoring violence condones violence.  "Evil will never be overcome by evil.  Evil will only be overcome with a just society holds the perpetrators responsible but does not stoop to their willful and justified behavior.

The family of the victim declared that justice had been served.  Troy Davis last words were to ask God to have mercy on those who were killing him.

It is a crime against "sacred life" when any one person for any reason takes the life of another person. The sacred gift of grace and mercy are acts of compassion and kindness not acts of condoning or condemning.
In between the crime of condoning and condemning and the crime of murder and hatred is the road of compassion and kindness alongside of which are the trees of grace and mercy.  It is not about ignoring the wrong it si about not letting the wrong overwhelm the right.  Justice is present with truth and grace, accountability and responsibility are all embraced without vengeance or violence.

When God says, :Vengeance is mine, I will repay!" we assume that to justify vengeance when all it does is remove vengeance form our responsibility or right.  Justice is when all people are respected and held responsible to living in "faith hope and love" for these are the things that last forever.  Loving mercy and doing justice are inseparable.  To have them you have to walk in humility.

Humbly saddened I offer these thoughts of grace and mercy to all.

The Secret Truth

Posted by Don Paine

So many different ideas, beliefs how does a person know what is true.

Truly the crisis of the 21st Century is “who is telling the truth”.

A recent book. Confidence Men by Ron Suskind on the President quotes Ms Dunn as saying that the
White house is an unhealthy environment for a woman to work in implying that the President and his administration is “male oriented and male driven”.  What is the truth.  The words are exact quote but the quote omitted the first few words from the interview quote.  Those words were “If it we not for President Obama the White house would…

So was it the intention of the reporter to misrepresent the person and mislead the public.  This kind of misrepresentation and misleading goes on all the time.  It is the reason why in a court of law we are challenged to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…..so help us God.

In reality only when we are open to the multiplicity of the mind, the multiplicity of truths held in the mind, and the multiversity of truth can we really be open enough to be inclusive and to be expansive in our own minds enough to perceive truth and embellishments of truth and misrepresentations of truth in a way that does not demean, demonize or desecrate others or deify and aggrandize oneself.

The multiplicity of the mind and the multiversity of creation hold the solution to the embracing of truth beyond and beneath all truth.  Being open to the multiversity of truth without agenda, anxiety, and with authenticity and audacity creates receptors of all truth, all the varying parts of truth which independent of other truths may be misleading and misrepresenting

This openness would also create an ecologically, psychologically, theologically and scientifically sound approach to issues and conflicts within the person and in the culture of the world.

What is a living sacrifice

Posted by Don Paine

Paul admonishes us to "present our bodies ( I wonder if he intentionally meant to leave out soul and spirit) a living sacrifice, wholly and acceptable to God which is our reasonable act of Worship!"

What did Paul have in mind?  I wonder.  He had the idea of Stephen who sacrificed his body to be stoned as Jesus sacrificed his body to be nailed to the cross.  Bu they both literally died.  Is not that the nature of a sacrifice, to die.  They stopped living.  It is a proverbial oxymoron.  Either you are alive or you are dead.  You cannot be both alive and dead at the same time.

What if Paul meant you have to die to the things that weigh you down, burden you, keep you focused on dead things that either do not matter or that they matter just drag you down.  What if we learned to set aside or sacrifice the things that we so much want, that we think we need, but not really to embrace the freedom to live free and in faith both firm to our personal convictions but flexible in our compassion toward all others as well.  The well of living water will be in us and the weight of death will float up river.  The current of the rive of sacrifice will move all stones of stumbling and we will be free to Worship the God who is the Living Sacrifice, in whose steps we are to walk.  We bow in surrender and rise to live free of dead things which is our reasonable act of Worship!

Free to Worship and Free to Live and Free to serve all to the glory of God.

Question for thought

Posted by Don Paine

I often talk a lot or muse in my blogs. Today I just want to share a question or thought for you to muse on.  I will muse another time.

Provoking behavior is not Smart

Posted by Don Paine

The Red Sox Yankee rivalry is huge in the field of sports.  Sports generally brings out the best and the worst in people.

Last week I was in Fenway watching the Red Sox lose to the Yankees.  There were a few Yankee fans in the stands.  They obviously had something to cheer about.  They also were respected by everyone around them in a good sportsmanship way.  A red sox player was up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th.  They are always great games win or lose and this one was.  A hit would change the outcome of the game.  As the final out was made, one loan yankee fan began a cheer as he stood up:  "Let's go Yankees".

Everyone looked at him and in a few minutes he did sit down.  A red sox fan went up to him and said, "really, you think that is a good idea with all the craziness in the world and the reports of violence at sports events, did you really have to do that.  The young man admitted, "no".

What life and sports offer us to learn is how to win and lose, graciously and gracefully.

Provocative behavior is not always behind violence but often.  The Yankees had won but this behavior of a yankee fan was an in your face insult like rubbing the losing teams face in the mud.  Thankfully a red sox fan acted in a healthy and best way simply maturely and respectfully challenging the need for this kind of provocative behavior.

In sports as in life we all have the opportunity to act with a face of maturity and mutual respectfulness, the best,  or we can give in to the baser instincts of "in your face", the worst.

The Yankees won the game but that red sox fan won the game of life.

I Have A Dream

Posted by Don Paine

A Field of Dreams:
That they may be one, Because we are one!!!!!!!
                                                “There is one faith, one hope, one love, one God”

We live in a world of political, personal, national, family, religious conflicts

When we teach our particular faith group that we are the better way, the only way, the best way we insult our fellow communicants and insinuate that we are right and they are wrong.  The system that supports a right and wrong world perpetuates un-healthy competitiveness.  

The Sufi Master, Rumi said:  “There is a place beyond the place of right and wrong, it is an open field, we can meet me there!

Jesus, the Rabbi and Son of God said: “I have lots of sheep that are not of this sheep pen, they too, I must bring so that in the end there is one flock and one shepherd…..All the law and the prophets are summed up in these words, “love God and love your neighbor (no matter what they believe or what they do, or where they live) as you love your inner self”.

Paul said, “Love keeps no score of wrongs or rights………..love always perseveres (I Corinthians 13)
Shifting from the lowest common denominator to the highest common good shifts the system.  It is not about tolerance but about embracing meaningfulness and embracing tolerance toward all of humanity as a gift of transforming love for all people and nations .  This unleashes the kingdom of God within.

Shifting to the Highest common good: Loving God and knowing you are loved by God and loving all living things is good.  This is letting them know they are all cared for in a just and honest way.  

Putting a dome of love over all is truly ruling having dominion over all by being loving toward all.  It is not extracting from creation and using up what God has created because I am the most important part of creation as a human being but I am able as a human being to choose to not extract which contributes to extinction but as expanding the acceptance and embrace of everything as adding to the experience and expression of care which is true expression of dominion over all which his support and sustaining of all, not using, misusing, and/or abusing. It is not about point counter point but about the balance of all points as not to counter each other as if one has to win and the other has to nice.  It is about counter balance so that the system remains in balance and harmony.  To effect this balance the system that generates point counter point needs a process shift to do so.  that process shift is to become nurturing and naturally embracing all parts in the internal system for the healing and sustaining and maintaining of all those parts.  It is through mature dependence, mature responsibleness and mutual respectfulness.  It is letting the Self as God has given it be present for al the parts.  This brings liberty and justice for all to all by welcoming all parts in the justice, com[passion and peace from within where God dwells.

Everything is made to balance and counter balance for the system to be maintained and sustained by everything made being "very good" (Genesis 1:31). When the system is overwhelmed by fear and distrust it is counter -driven. When the system relaxes and trusts its internal core of courage, calm, compassion and care it relaxes into a state of peacefulness where all parts are treated with justice, for all parts are freely received and cared for in equity and with equal right to be heard.  So rather than parts deceiving themselves into believing that they need something they don't need, the parts begin to be cared for from within where the Self lives and loves.  When the parts give up their fear and see the Self and begin to feel cared for the shift begins. Then they receive something they really do need but already have in their interning system.  It is not that they do not need, it is not that the part's behavior is okay.  The behavior is not okay but the part is welcomed and the burden that prompts the behavior of the part begins to shift as well.  In that moment, what is embraced is the part.   The part itself that is embraced for the purpose of healing its burden and false belief that is behind why it is acting out the way it is acting out. When a part is fear driven and self protective it becomes counter productive and driven to eliminate conflict.  It tries to service the conflict by trying to end the conflict, which is counter productive.  The system, therefore, needs a counter intuitive intervention, so enters Internal Family System, offering help and hope to the system.  A systemic shift that says it is not the Self that needs to be transformed. It is the Self that is transforming the system as it offers to all parts the welcome that sets those parts and the system free.  The freedom for the parts is to have all parts know they are cared for and to offer to all pars, equal care and compassion.  The equal care and compassion for all parts is the treatment of justice and peace, that the parts long for. Liberty is for all parts as justice is toward all parts resulting in peace in the internal system.

For the system to change the parts of the system have to stop doing the point counter point thing and to stop countering each other’s part. Then in a shift of  embrace, each part with brings harmony to the system not through agreement but through a respectful and responsible presence that is Clam. compassionate, courageous and creative (THE SELF).  The shift is from a counter point system to a counter balance system that a perpetuates conflict allows inclusion. That self is resilient and redemptive and offers the system of parts, the care and concern they need.  It is not about the self transformation it is about the transforming self.

Billy Graham held a series of meetings here at the Knickerbocker Arena in 1990.  He often said, “in Iowa when the corn fields grow higher than the fences all you see is the open field.  You do not see the things that separate and divide, we are all one in the field of love. It is a field of dreams of which I dream today! If we build a sense of togetherness, it will come.  If we become the wheat in the field there will be no more fences.  We meet in the field of dreams.  The dream is for people meeting not with an agenda to prove their point and counter their neighbor’s points.  The goal is that people will be willing to sacrifice their being right to their being “right hearted toward all people.  In this field we can meet and talk about loving kindness and respectfulness from a place of compassion and calmness.  Maybe then faith can be an asset to creating calmness and compassion in the world village of differences

The only way to live in Peace is to be at peace, which is a breath of fresh air from the way of condemnation and condoning of right and wrong.  It is the fresh air in t the field of compassion and calm..  Peace is the road to that field. Love is in the field. They are the field.

Rev. Dr. Donald L. Paine, LICSW, AAMFT
Trained Internal Family System Therapist

Lesson on Forgiveness

Posted by Don Paine

Jesus told the story of a Master who forgave his servant who owed him $10,000.  WIth great compassion he wiped the debt clean because the servant begged for grace and mercy.  Later that "forgiven servant" began to demand from a fellow servant the $10.00 he owed him.  He likewise asked for grace and mercy but the "forgiven servant" refused to forgive this smaller debt and put him in prison.  Some of the other fellow servants witnessed this and told the Master who was indignant.  He called the "forgiven servant" in and confronted him with "should you not have had the same compassion toward him that I had toward you?  He then put him in prison.  Jesus then said, "so shall your heavenly father deal with you if you do not forgive your brother in your heart!"

Forgiveness is a matter of the heart.  It is not that I forgive my brother in the sense that what he did is oaky.  It is that my heart is okay toward my brother.  When forgiveness transforms your heart then from and in your heart you have forgiveness toward your brother.  The "forgiven servant" was not transformed in his heart. therefore did not have a heart of forgiveness.  He was already in an internal prison of "un-forgiveness".  It is nice to have our debt forgiven but if we are not  transformed into being as God is toward all, "forgiving" then we are still in prison.  It is not just about being forgiven, it is also about having a heart of forgiveness toward all.  It is also about being released from "a heart of unforgiving" which is incongruent with a "forgiven heart".

In effect Jesus is saying to Peter and all of us, It is not just about being forgiven, it is about being transformed in the heart to a state of compassion toward all regardless of anything.  We are to forgive others just as God for CHrist sake has forgiven us.  How is that?  God forgives us by having a heart of forgiveness toward us.  We are nor truly forgiven until we ask for forgiveness, until we are transformed in our heart and offer that same compassion to all.

It is not about forgiving anyone what they did to us as if that is okay.  It is about having forgiveness in ur heart toward our brother regardless of anything because I do not regard their sin as against me but against them.  They are  in prison I am free of the prison of un-forgiveness and have the prism for forgiveness.  the prism fro forgiveness sees everyone with compassion and colors everyone as forgiven in my heart.  They are not fully forgiven until they are released form their prison.

Free to be compassionate is truly free.

A Flood of Grace and Mercy

Posted by Don Paine

Recently I preached in the flood ravaged area of the Schoharie Valley of New York State.  Flood waters to 10 feet and when those waters receded they left 2 feet of mud in their sanctuary.

It was also the 10th Anniversary of September 11th.   They were remembering the past devastation of the day and resilient under the present devastation of the flood.  The service included a tribute to the bravery and resiliency of both times, the loss of life in both tragedies, and the service of responders in both.  At the end of the service we sang a popular Christian song, "Shine Jesus Shine".  It includes a line, "flow river flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy".  I was asking them to do a hard thing: to set aside their experience of the rising river and the resulting flood that caused devastation, and imagine the river of God's eternal and everlasting grace and mercy flow like a river.

So imagine a "river of grace and mercy flooding all the nations of earth". All people of earth would experience what there heart yearns for the love and acceptance of a flood of grace and mercy.  Some would say that some do not deserve grace or mercy.  Is not that the definition of grace and mercy.  Grace is giving what a person does not deserve, unconditional and agenda free loving.  Mercy is not giving what a person does deserve, punishment.  Could it be that hidden in the obnoxious atrocities of hatred and the justified acts of withholding kindness and forgiveness is the scandalous and transformational truth that all of us benefit from and non of us deserve:  that "just as we are" we are loved and that transformational "grace and mercy" creates an overwhelming flood. Those flood waters wash away all the things that we think are necessary and important and leave behind the thick mud of God's transformation.  Could it be that that mud that Jesus put on the blind man's eyes would help us all to see each other not from the human assessment of deservedness but from the divine acceptance of "grace and mercy".  If we see all people as God sees us we would see all people as already forgiven and set free from their anger that directs them to hate and be unforgiving and set free of their fears that restrict them from loving or forgiving.

These flood waters offer to victims and villains of all nations of all people the same transformational grace and mercy.  All nations and all people and all victims and villains are welcome into the flood waters of acceptance that transforms the best among us into better and the worst among us into the best.

Flow river flow fill the nations (all nations, all cultures, all religions, all people) with grace and mercy.

I thank God for the experience of being with these courageous people and for the lesson God teaches the preacher from the people and all of us in the tragic events.  Maybe that is how God turns the worst into good.

Three Cheers One Hope

Posted by Don Paine

Cheers rang out a world away on September 11, 2001.  While many worldwide and more locally were struck with horror and horrible loss of life,  many in the streets of other nations celebrated a victory . While some mourned others celebrated.  In America we were horrified by the horrible made worse by the reality that some were celebrating while we were dying, grieving, and in pain.

A clearly defined military mission to seek out and capture, Osama Bin-Laden, the master mind of 9-11, was initiated inclusive of vigilant military strategies.  Nearly 10 years later, on May 16th, 2011, Osama Bin-Laden was killed at his hideaway compound.  Cheers rang out again , this time, in the streets of America.  I blogged that morning that I was in deep sadness, not because I thought Osama Bin-Laden was a nice guy but because we live in a state of world conflict that promotes a “kill or be killed” state of being.  

We called it justice but it is not justice when one side celebrates and the other side mourns.  Regardless of which side of the street you live on, it is about leaning how to be respectful and responsible as human beings toward all other human beings.  In both cases the preparation of violence was in their mind justified by egregious acts of the evil empire against them.  It is justified revenge but it is not justice.  Justice seeks not to oppress or harm anyone.  Justice is to be done toward all regardless of anything.  All peoples hurt and pain are understood and transformed into healing through the empathy of compassion and the emptying of my way as the only way.
Ghandi’s blind world through an eye for an eye mentality has degenerated into something worse than blindness: seeing with only one eye.  Seeing with one eye, one way breeds prejudice not justice.  One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. 

The saddest part of all this is that religion is part of the problem when it is intentionally part of the solution.  It is specifically purposed toward encouraging a world wide ways of love and peace.  John Lenin in his famous song, Imagine, had a line that stated, “nothing to kill or die for, no religion too”.  Why, because most all wars have some religious overtone, drive, or agenda that is itself inconsistent with peace and harmony.

Today on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we call on all communities of faith to come together for peace and justice by embracing with compassion all persons, regardless of anything.  This is a call to a new kind of community that is not about the lowest common denominator but the highest common good.  It is the one hope of and for humanity.  If religion cannot lead the way to turning our differences into community building by surrendering our way as the only way to a new way of living in love and peace with all.  Soren Kirkegard said, “To know the truth and not be the truth is to embellish that very truth with error”.  When my truth, whatever that truth, gives me the right to degrade and deny the truth of your truth it is essentially a self serving posture.  There is nothing so inherently inconsistent with the heart of any spiritual movement and the heart of Christianity as a self propagating and self aggrandizing posture as the founder was a living sacrifice of self for the good of humanity.  When the living sacrifice becomes a lying sacrifice there is no Spirit of Truth but the spirit of deception and self-promotion.

As John Lenin wrote, “that we all live as one”.  This was the heart of the Jesus of Christianity and it is at  the heart of all non-extremist religious movements.  Jesus said, “That they might be one even as I and the Father are one”.  Not one in ecclesiastical or theological positions but is the posture of loving kindness toward all regardless of anything.

 Justice is never one sided it is mutually respectful and agreed upon as the healthy way to care for an injustice that is done in the world. The language of what we are saying and the meta messages that are being presented and perceived really concern me.  The prophet Micah intentional connects "justice, mercy and humility" and these are not connected here.

In a nation that is fighting for the removal of capital punishment, there are few voices acknowledging that this is an "eye for and eye" moment which his more about our blindness than about clear vision.  One way thinking is what is at the heart of unresolved differences in our homes and in our world.  No ideology, thought or reaction is in itself the problem, the problem is we live in a social system that does not allow for equity, respectfulness, or peace.  It is about getting the bad guy, killing the enemy only to find our sense of humanity diminished.  We cannot kill one human being without that act lessening our sense of humanness and lowering our standard for mutual respectfulness and world peace.

As religious leaders of and in our communities of faith we need to decide to stand for mutual respectfulness and responsible teaching.  When we teach our particular faith group that we are the better way, the only way, the best way we insult our fellow communicants and insinuate that we are right and they are wrong.  The system that supports a right and wrong world perpetuates un-healthy competitiveness.  Under the pretext of faith, love and peace we sow conflict competition and contradictions.  What is as leaders of respective religious communities of faith we took a bold step forward and embraces our belief system with denigrating or degrading or devaluing the system of others.  Would we then change the un-heathy system that fuels wars and wastelands and into a new respectful and responsible system that nurtures peace and a blossoming earth.

In the new system the key qualities would be mutual compassion, calmness, courage, and creativity that would find ways to be together to promote love and peace in our world because we do not believe anymore that it is us or them that are right.  Ghandi said years ago that an eye for an eye orientation to life results in a blind world.  I say today that an eye for an eye world results in people with only one eye that sees only their way and that is worse.  It is a cyclops that perpetuates war famine and destruction.  When we see with two eyes we see our way in a self-respectful way and we see the ways of others in an equally valuing and validating way, respectfully.  When Christians teach that Jesus, as any Christian or ecclesiastical group proscribes him, is the only way they do an injustice to all other communities of faith.  Part of justice and true spirituality is mutual respectfulness and responsible honesty.  The Jesus way is not an exclusive or excluding way but an inclusive and including way.  The Jesus way is not an ecclesiastical or creedal way it is a life and attitude way.  Jesus welcomes everyone and invites everyone to his table of love and peace. The way of Jesus is a way of self-sacrifice (it does not have to be my way), humility (I see you and your way as better than my way not because it is but because that is the way of humility -Phil 2:4) and openheartedness (God's heart of love and forgiveness is available to all regardless of the particular belief system they endorse or embrace.  Jesus is not the way the Way is Jesus.  Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, etc all teach the way that Jesus lived as the way we all should live.

Imagine a world where there is full mutual respectfulness of all communities of faith, unconditional love and agenda-less respect.  Peace on earth and intentional acts of good will toward all humanity form all humanity.  Sounds like a religious festival!  

To do this we do not need to change our core beliefs just our excluding and exclusive beliefs.  We can all have and maintain with self respect and respect for others our beliefs as long as we add a closing belief statement to all our ecclesiastical statements of faith or creeds.  That statement would be that while we believe differently we all believe that what we believe should not separate us from one another in the community of faith or the community of the covenant of love and peace for each other and the world.

This is the third cheer.  When people all over the world from all communities of faith cheer the inclusion of all in the grace and truth of love and peace.  Imagine the cheers that would ring out if in a few months when we celebrate Christmas, we truly experience peace among all peoples of faith leading the world to peace that passes human understanding, which then results in a tsunamie of kindness and good will toward all men.  Was that what the angles had in mind when they sang,
“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth:  Peace, and good will toward all humanity”

Just imagine

Rev. Donald L. Paine
Parakalein Counseling Services
251 New Karner Road 
Albany New York 12205

Rev. Dr. Donald L. Paine, LICSW, AAMFT
Trained Internal Family System Therapist

The Law of Love

Posted by Don Paine

There is coming a time and it is already here when the true Worshipers of God will worship not in a place, or a particular idea, on this mountain or in Jerusalem, but true Worshippers will Worship in Spirit and in Truth for God seeks such to Worship them.

So what did Jesus mean when he spoke these words in the context of breaking all the religious rules in John 4?

In the flood waters of Middleburgh, NY the people are learning and living as they learn or is it, learning as they live.  THat what really matters is not the form, the frame or even the faith of the Worshipper that is important.  What is really important is that people let go of what they think is important and embrace the God of Love and feel God's embrace.  Then to offer that same experience to all and receive it from all.

So being in the Spirit of community and loving kindness toward all and to be truthful with oneself about what is important releases us to Worship in the Spirit of Love and in the Truth of internal honesty and humility.

Worship that tis free and formative is transformative.  In Worship we touch the hem of the garment of praise the God of love and power comes in and goes out.  The wonder of Worship is the witness of Wonder to the world.

We Worship in Spirit and Truth.

Turning to God is a testimony of Grace

Posted by Don Paine

G K Chesterson said, "when tragedy and loss strike we are tempted to turn form God, In heaven's name to what?  This past weekend we were in MIddleburgh, NY which had been devastated by the flood waters of Hurricane Irene.    I was preaching in a Lutheran Church that as a testimony to their faith and to their community, gathered in Worship in the presence of the ravage of the storm. They turned to God in grace.

In Genesis 6 the account and goal of the flood was not to destroy the creation as destructive as it was, its purpose was to call people of faith to gather together and affirm their faith, love and hope as God's purpose always is.  Noah, saw grace in the eyes of God so he found grace in his day.  That is what worship is:  looking into the eyes of God and seeing God's grace greater than all the storms, destruction and trauma of life.

My wife and I were privileged to be part of the wonder and witness of Grace in this devastated part of the world.

God was full of grace before the flood, in the flood and after the flood.  As I spoke those words to this congregation I could see the pain of loss on their faces embraced grace in this place and space.  There are three things that last for ever and they are faith to see beyond the loss and pain, love to help one another in the loss and pain and the hope to know and experience the Grace of God in fullest measure.

Not only are these people demonstrating the faith of grace, they are acting in faith toward all around them.  True Christianity does not just receive undeserved grace but it extends to all regardless of what they may or may not deserve, Grace!  Grace in living and grace of living make Christ present in the darkest of hours in the most loving ways.

Grace to you all.