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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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Boxes and circles

Posted by Don Paine

Ever expanding boxes becomes a circle of love. John Donne said the greatest graphic of God is a circle as it had no end or beginning.  God simply and profoundly is.

Humanity makes boxes of knowledge, boxing people out and boxing people in, out of fear of not knowing
 and out of a desire to control through knowledge.

Self makes circles of calm inclusion and compassionate expansion
that knows that it is not about knowing but not knowing, not needing to know ,  not kneading anyone into my knowing, but about the expanse of knowing.

An ever expanding world in an ever open space.  All things round and rolling, smooth and streaming, silence and surrounded by sound. 

Secret Predators of Human Power and Secret Passageway to True Power

Posted by Don Paine

Yesterday morning as I preached three take overs occurred:
1) I found myself reading something other than what I said I was reading
2) I sensed God's presence in a unique way and let go of what I had planned and went with Spirit
3) The Minister of Music:  Mark Kelso of the church where i was "pulpit Supply" sang this song as a spontaneous refrain to the message and service as a song of reflection after the benediction.

It was amazing.  Here is the kernel of the message:

In II Samuel Chapter 11 the life and attributes of David and Uriah are contrasted and qualified.  The contrast of leadership and integrity is stark and sure.  David stayed home in the palace while the troops went off to war when the SOP is the King goes off to war with his troops. The silence begins in covering up this "stay home" or stand down policy of doing whatever he wants then asking for people to cover for him.  Then he sees from the roof patio of the palace his palpating heart for the lovely woman across the way.  He secretly sends for her.  He then, in the "cloak of palace protection" and the misuse of Kingly power, sleeps with her.  Then she lets him know she is pregnant.  Her secret is that she came to him even though married to Uriah. She might have been afraid if she neglected the Kings offer her husband would be in jeopardy or she may have just felt the ego surge of the Kings beckoning.  Regardless she secretly came to him.  His secret is that he wanted what he wanted regardless of anything including his integrity and intimacy with God.  He stood up for what he wanted.  He stood down from honoring his God.  He then sends for Uriah and has him returned home so he can go and lay with his wife.  Ostensibly to sleep with her as he had been away at battle for a long time and would obviously want to go home, be grateful for the opportunity, and of course sleep with her and they then could say the child she bore was his.  Again a secret plot of predatory secret and the misuse of power.  Sounds like a Biblical version of Penn State, Joe Paterno, and Jerry Sandusky.

Uriah responds with not so Lord.  I will not go home and sleep with my wife when all my fellow soldiers are off at battle and a few are here with me in respite. I will sleep with them as none of them will be going home to their wives so neither shall I.  I am sure you David would do the same, never sleeping with a wife while your soldiers are off at battle.  You would be with them.  The King then got him drunk hoping to get him home to sleep with his wife.  He again refused sanctuary in an un-sanctified way.  He stood down from what he had every right to and stood up for what he valued more than life itself.  His responsibility to his soldiers, and his respect for and honor of his integrity.  He led with humility and honor.  He said, "Thanks but no thanks".  David then arranged for him to be killed in battle all under the predators secret powers used for selfish gain.

Uriah stands up to the King who offers him what he has every right to, he stands up for integrity no matter the loss to his own rights.  Uriah stands down with humility even in the presence of what he has a right to as an expression of his identification with his fellow soldiers.  The inner secret is a Passageway to True Power.  The predators secret is to protect himself and what he did from being discovered.  The Passageway secret is to propel himself into honor, honesty, and humility.

When scripture tells us the all the secrets, once hidden from view, will all be exposed in heaven it is not an effort to shame or judge but with clarity to declare that the way of heaven is the way of honor, honesty and humility no patter what the gain or loss.  The way of earth or humanity is the way of cover up and protection regardless of who gets hurt thus hurting everyone.

Jim Elliot, missionary to Inca Indians is famous for two quotes that typify this kind of authentic, transparent, and triumphant leadership.  He stood down when he said, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose".  He stood up when he said to those who were killing him, "You can take my life but you cannot put out the light!".

Uriah the General maintained integrity and intimacy with God.  David gave up integrity and intimacy with God.  Listen to the u-tub song, "Hallelujah" which with creative license blends Samson's fall and David's fall as one to make the point even more compelling.  In David's honor when God was giving this word to the World, I imagine David said.  Please use my humanity as an illustration of what I through sufferings learned so that others might see and spare themselves the same loss and gain and shift to choose loss and gain in heavens purview.

Here is the song:


Hallelujah Amen

Keep it Simple Stupid

Posted by Don Paine

Sounds a bit harsh.  Keep it simple stupid as none of us are really stupid we just forget simple things.

So here I am sitting on my porch with oodles of things in my head for my preaching this morning on leadership so I decided that leadership always surprises people so her eis my blog for today less this intro:

Life is Triple A rated when it is full of
Acceptance is Amnesty for All!

Does the Sick System want to be Well: Penn State, Joe Paterno and You

Posted by Don Paine

Jesus said to a sick man, "Do you wan to be well?"

Really interesting question.  Of course I wan to be well, might be the response. But the real question was do you wan to do the work to be well, are you ready to do the work to be well, are you ready to see the problem as not your sickness but the way you see your sickness?

We have all heard about the Penn State University future, the Joe Paterno legacy, the Coach Sandusky debacle, and the NCAA sanctions.  Who is looking at the real problem?  What is the system saying? Are we scapegoating, scaffolding, or segmenting the problem while keeping the secret that is the real problem.  Unless the system wants to be well, we will remain sick.  So what is the problem?

It is not institutional control or its lack.  It is not the "culture of football".  It is not the "culture of greed".  It is not the culture of "power control dominance".  All of those and more are parts of the problem.  The real problem is the human system is sick.  It thinks it has to protect only to promote hurt and pain.  It inflicts hurt and pain (sanctions) only to cause more hurt and pain.

Centuries, millenniums ago, the Biblical record tells us that Adam and Eve collectively representing humanity did what they wanted to do without any concern for the impact and effect on their internal and external system.  They feared they would lose something if they did not act in secret and eat of the tree that had been forbidden to eat of.  They ate, thinking if they did not eat they would be missing something only to lose something by eating. So for one act of disobedience, due to one false belief, the core of their begin was challenged and interrupted.  They ran on their heels and hid in their heads form what they knew to be true inside but now doubted outside.  The story that humanity has been told form this scene is:  "one bad moment, one wrong decision" has an eternal effect and is deserving of punishment.  The real story:  one mistake is one mistake you do not have to let it control or direct your running or thinking (head and heel are bruised).

The real problem in the Penn State dilemma is when we punish people and programs for a wrong choice and decision rather than seeing "the problem" is the problem.  When we see the problem with singular focus rather than multiple focused and we see through a punitive lens rather than a redemptive lens we engage in the same keep the secret to protect the system that only perpetuates the problem of the system.  When the NCAA Chair bullies the Penn State program to force contrition it is the same dynamic that the President of Penn State and Coach Paterno used to bully each other to silence.  Bullying wrong behavior is as bad as bulling into wrong behavior.

Thankfully God had a better solution.  He gave his son,  This Adam did all the right things and made no bad choices but was punished, bruised, hurt and pained.  By one man's (Adam) disobedience the sin (of running and thinking I am beyond lovable) was passed on to all humanity as the propensity to believe a lie and run from the truth, even so with the recompense of one man's obedience (Jesus) resiliency and reconciliation was passed on to all humanity. (Romans 5:15-21)*

So one mistake does not define who a person is in their totality.  So also one good choice to believe what is true:  that God's love and God's good choice to love no matter what invites us to stop running, and think with calmness, courage and compassion toward all parts in us and everyone around us.

So what if instead of being punitive and protective with good intention the NCAA decided to be positive and purposeful with attention inviting all parties to a table of reconciliation, respectfulness, responsibleness, and ultimately redemption.

A little bit of heaven would come to earth.  Everyone would be responsible and held responsible for "wrong decision" but everyone would also be invited to make a "good decision" to accept sanctions, fines and suspensions that while having some appropriate acceptable punishment are also preemptive of perpetrating more hurt and pain on innocent persons.  Who is the perpetrator and who are the victims? Who wants to get well and who wants to continue the illusion that power and control promotes reconciliation and transformation?

Just a note:  the innocent person who was the most offended by the sexual offense and the related cover up was indeed an innocent person.  We must find a way to hold the guilty responsible without punishing the innocent in the name of the innocent victim.  This indeed would be justice not just a decision.  Justice is either for all or lost to all.

*15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also gracemight reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Spiritual Word from Science

Posted by Don Paine

I was listening to NPR this morning and heard a scientist talking about the movement of vegetation from the sea to earth where there was mostly stone and little soil.  She spoke of the concept of mutual benefit of the decomposing plant into the composition of soil.  I thought of my compose pile.

I then thought how unique that in this mutual cooperation both benefit.

I wondered, what if apparent conflicts in every sphere or phase of life found a way to see benefit in giving to and receiving from each other.  Conflict exists not to perpetuate conflict but to promote coalescence through healthy cooperation, mutual valuing, and meaningful competition.

Conflict is transformed into the soil of living when we see conflict as an invitation to "Mutual Beneficence" not "Individual Dominance".

Competition would not be eliminated but enhanced as its focus would be each others improvement and enhancement like two tennis players playing so competitively that they both get better.  Competition would then be about mutual improvement not about exclusive conquest.

This is the essence of spirituality.  All people, all creation, and all parts seeing value, meaning, and mandate not to eliminate one in favor of the other but to embrace all in favor of all.  When I learn to practice "mutual beneficence" I see with alliance not dominance, I act with acceptance not judgment, and I live in peace not in reaction to threat.  "As much as in you is possible live in peace with all people/things".  This Biblical injunction invites and instructs "mutual beneficence".  Jesus words so similar to many other esoterics, "Love your enemies, one another", and all things in and around you.

Mutual beneficence benefits us all and is something we can all give.  It sees good, gives, good, receives good and is the essence of goodness in and for all!

"And God saw everything that was made and said, it is very good!"  Genesis 1:31

Bruised heel, bruised head

Posted by Don Paine

Year ago when I first heard the Biblical account of creation I was mystified and comforted at the same time.  God did create the world.  I was also puzzled and perplexed.  How can a good and loving God create a world that seems so wrong.

Interpretations are often projections of our internal needs and desires or may be a reflection of the creator free of needs and desires but full of passion and power.  Humanity has perverted passion adn power to be about sex and violence.  Passion and power is about deep feelings and internal power of the free soul.

When judgment came in many forms it seemed to say, "you deserve to be punished so here is your punishment".  What if there was another deeper message.  A meta message beyond the apparent and verbal message.

And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[a] and hers; 
he will crush[b] your head, 
    and you will strike his heel.”  Genesis 3:15

 I hear that the prophecy "the heal and the head will be bruised" was to pronounce a judgment on the serpent and hope on creation.  The interpretation was that the enemy will bruise his heel but his head will be crushed.

The other day out for a walk mediating on this passage I found myself imagining that this was God's awareness that the polarity between the good woman, mother of all living things, and the evil of self absorption the driver of dead things were intentionally present to invite creation to harmonize and balance the enmity with love and understanding.  Her offspring will learn adn see that that which impacts the blow to the head in how we think burdens humanity with the thought that we are bad, and unloveable. and the inclination to run away from rather than to the thing that permeates and presents the polarization.

Adam and Eve both thought let's run and hide in shame and despair.  The heel is the symbol of running away in fear of judgment and criticism.  Adam and Eve both thought our heads are pounding with the guilt that is beyond grace.  Fear had changed what they saw in each other and in God but nothing had changed except their head was filled with a lie:  God is angry and we are in big trouble.  There that
which crushed the head with overwhelming guilt and shame is the same thing that causes them to rise up on the heel of shame and despair and run away from the grace of God's presence.

The offspring of darkness and the offspring of light create perennial conflict that is only softened in the presence of peace and love.  The heel and the head represents light of the mind and fear that turns the heel to run.

Change the core belief that your head thinks:  "that you are unloved" and watch the core belief and propellant of "fear that causes you to run and hide" dissipate.

Enmity gives way to peace and love.  It invites us to stop running away from fear to running with courage into the fear.  It invites us to stop thinking with our head that we are guilty and shamed so are stuck and overwhelmed.

Freedom is letting go of fear and embracing peace and love.  Enmity of all kinds dissipates in the presence of all accepting, abundant loving.

Punishment and Rewards: A Call to Honor and Honesty

Posted by Don Paine

The system of punishments and rewards often punish the wrong people and reward the wrong thing.  Inherently a system of reward and punishment has an internal fundamental flaw.  It believes by rewarding the good and punishing the bad good will ultimately triumph.

If we asked the proverbial question, "How is that working for you?"  We would answer not so much.

In the Joe Paterno case many want the university Football Program to be punished with multiple sanctions.  The reality is that that only perpetuates the problem, masks the issue, and punishes the innocent.  Most of the athletic programs at Penn State are funded by the football program.   The act occurred in the football program so the punishment needs to be of the football program.  The cover up by the head coach Joe Paterno.

Had he down his job and turned his friend in to the authorities he would have even doing his job.  If this had been discovered months later he would have lost his job.  So he fraudulently continued to collect a pay check from the moment he was aware of the sexual abuse and did nothing until he was relieved of his duties.  The same thing is true for the President of the University.  So if we fined each of them the equivalent of their collective salaries from the moment of the cover up until each of their dismissal, those funds could be set aside and used to fund the rest of the athletic programs at Penn State.

The offenders are punished and the innocent unpunished.   I really this would be what the family of Joe Paterno and the President would offer if they were able to look at the whole issue with remorse and restitution.  Remorse on the part of the offender and desire for restitution are the more effective qualities to develop in a society that reward and punishment.  The latter are a societies way of trying out of frustration to effect what true responsibility and respectfulness would offer.

The family of Joe Paterno would serve their legacy better by offering this than by spending probably more money on lawyers attempting to defend and protect rather than accept and respond appropriately.

I and all of us need to take this to heart.  To not wait to be punished or seek rewards but to live with responsibleness for our actions and make restitution in whatever way is honorable and honest.  Honor and honesty would then be a wonderful legacy evening the face of wrong.

Honor and honesty are high moral values.

Paterno A Legacy of Leadership Collapsing

Posted by Don Paine

Penn State Football will never be the same again.

Joe Paterno was a great leader of men.  He inspired men, commanded men, developed men, charged men and even stood up against wrong when standing up gave him good PR.  There was the time that he rejected an invitation top the White House by a sitting president when his team was undefeated but uninvited to the championship game so was not considered to be the NCAA National Football Championship that year.  He was building the program at that time that is now collapsing.

It is one thing to as a leader, inspired, develop, challenge, build men of character, it is another thing to live as a person of character.  Here is where Joe failed.  He had a part that was so afraid of the negative publicity when the report of sexual abuse by one of his coaches reached his office he did not stand up.
Leadership is not just standing tall when molding men and doing the right thing.  Leadership is also standing tall and strong in the face of wrong with out concern for negative fallout but just because it is right to do.  Leadership is standing for right and standing against wrong.

Years ago A Great Leader with a lot of power went ahead and beheaded John the Baptist not because he had done anything wrong but because of his wife's hatred of his honest challenge to her.  King Herod told his daughter that he would give her whatever she wanted if she danced for him.  She did.  Influenced by her mother she asked for the head of John the Baptist.  Herod, gave it to her stating that integrity demanded that he honor his word.  Herod was the King.  Could he use his power to stand tall and strong in the presence of this abuse of power, this manipulation of hatred, this cover up?  Yes, he could have by admitting his weakness and his vanity but to do so he would have to see the power of presence of mind to yield power as greater than the presence of mind to wield power.

Joe honored his word and his friendship to his assistant coach but violated the "code of honor" to man up when it takes the greatest courage to do so, in the face of wrong regardless of the fallout.

We use the expression these days to "man up" in a way that supports being tough but could it also be a challenge to man up when it is the toughest to be tough regardless of the cost.  The price of not manning up in this way is to lose the legacy of leadership.

A sad way to end a career of courage, a betrayal of the heart of courage.

It is a call to all of us to stand with valor, virtue, and vigor less we let the victims of the abuse of power be silenced and the abuse be neglected.  It is time for a moral outrage against violence, for peace, and against all acts of abuse for all people with any kind of power, real or perceived.

People Up!

Rooster Bat Dialogue

Posted by Don Paine

The story is told of a dialogue between a rooster and a bat.  It was just before dawn and the Rooster was all excited preparing to "cook-a-doodle-do".  He noticed that the bat seemed equally excited to welcome the dawn as she was flapping her wings in excitement.

The rooster looked inquisitively at the bat and said, "I really get why I am excited by the rising sun and the new day that is before me with all the fun that life has but why are you excited about the dawn?"  The bat looked him in the eye, which as you know is not an eye to eye moment but perhaps it is, and said "because life is not just about me!"

Imagine a world in which we appreciate all the differences in creation, in which we are excited not just for our selves and what we like but for others and what they like as well, and in which it is not just about me!

Paul suggests that we equally care for our "self interests" while also "caring of the interests of others".

The bat, who lives in darkness and does not see like you an I, sees more clearly the balance and harmony that is achieved when in humility we see others as clearly and appreciatively as we see ourselves.

Defining Bad Religion: Religion gone bad!

Posted by Don Paine

I was walking down the street the day of a July 4th parade and everyone was sporting t shirts that stated on exposition or another on one thing or another.  One your boy was wearing a t shirt that was black with a white cross in the center of a black circle outlined in red with a line slashing through it.  Above was the phrase "BAD RELIGION".  My first thought was not a defensive thought though in the past this kind of thing would have triggered a justifying and defensive if not attacking part.  One persons judgment does not over rule another persons judgment.  My first thought was how sad.  I had a part that wondered what had happened in his life at the hand of a "Christian" that would drive him to this conclusion.  Another part of me wonders if this was not the position of his parents that he had adopted. No different than that of a Christian family adopting the position of Christian parents.

I had a part that wanted to stop and dialogue with him but I was meeting family to watch the July 4th parade.  Did I miss an opportunity not to set this young boy straight but to listen to his story with the compassion of the founder of faith that sees more not less when someone is angry and sees less not more when with compassion the soul in me sees the soul in another.

Perhaps this is the point.  When we see others and have an agenda to counter, contradict, or correct we allow a grace error inside our own heart, mind and spirit.  True Christianity is not about a dogma, a doctrine or a declaration of any kind.  True Christianity is about seeing everyone and everything with love from place of peace.  This creates a palace of love in peace in which all can live and from which none are excluded.

There is no such thing in my mind as a bad religion but there is such a thing a religion gone bad.  Religion goes bad, any religion, goes bad when the religious teachings or principles become codified cooped and misused to promote religious experience with a self serving agenda and at the expense of serving the person by offering in love and peace the ears that hear the story of hurt and pain and offers fresh breath of peace and love into that hurt hear.

When religion is agenda focused it losses the essence of true religion.  The essence of true religion is to care for the fatherless, the widow, the orphan (those who have not) by showing them love and peace through self-sacrifice and humble care regardless of anything.

Letter or Spirit, who takes the lead

Posted by Don Paine

I think Jesus taught that the letter kills and the spirit gives life.

Last Sunday the Old Testament Text and the New Testament texts created confusion unless we look at the letter and the spirit.

The account of Saul, Jonathyn and David in II Samuel 1: 1-27 presents the following narrative missing parts allow parts to add to the narrative that may or may not be accurate.  The basic story is that the armies of the Amelikites were devastating the armies of Israel.  Saul was left to die and was wanting to die in a merciful not merciless way.  The armies were coming toward him when a young brave Amelikite soldier stumbled on Saul.  Saul basically asked him to kill him to rescue the crown and get it to David and to rescue him from a vicious, vindictive death at the hands of ruthless soldiers who would stead and desecrate the crown then kill him in a mocking way.  The young soldier obliged.  After hiding out for some time in the village he came forth with fear but in faith to David with the story of Saul and Jonathyn's death.  When David asked how he knew this he took out the crown and handed it to David.  David proceeded to follow the letter of the law that anyone killing the Lord's Anointed must himself be killed.  He ordered the soldier to kill him for killing the Lord's Anointed.

On first reading and even second and third different thoughts emerge as part of the truth.  David could not let the act go unpunished or he sets up "it is okay to kill the King" which he would be in time.  He also had a royal dilemma:  he wanted to avenge the tragedy of the weapons of war but he also wanted to signal that Israel was not finished.  Another angle sassy that David needed to act in this way lest weakness be used against him.  Therefore he reasoned that if God wanted to intervene for the Lord's anointed and devastate the armies of the Amelikites then this act prevented God fighting for Israel and interfered with the same therefor was wrong. From yet another angle a new part emerges, a part of human understanding, a humble reality, and a horrific tragedy.  The metaphor of an eagle of creative and clear leadership strength and a lion of compassion and courage and a lamb of humble sacrifice and surrender inform a different narrative.  David was filled with anger, hurt, and grief.  We all as human begins have been overcome by anger, hurt and grief out ow which we have acted in a way that later on when in a calm, clear, compassionate place we see from a different angle.

When David put the King's Crown on his own head he realized that the Crown was rescued from sacrilegious plunder and to preserve the sacred crown.  At that time from a new perspective he, a compassionate man at heart, probably lamented his hasty action.

Years later Jesus the Lord's anointed was killed by invitation and choice.  While people in human reaction have wanted to blame a group for the killing and kill them the Lord's anointed offered pardon and mercy not judgment and wrath.  In fact Jesus embrace the violence and hatred down to him to preserve the sacred crown of Glory which was love adn honor from the core of the God of love.  God's love in Christ undaunted, unassuming and unfailing.  Betrayed by human hatred he could not betray the essence of God's being:  love and peace. The Lord's anointed gave love in exchange for hatred, life in exchange for death, and peace in exchange for violence.  The crown preserved, the sacred unaltered, and the serene un affected.  Anger hurt and grief were transformed into love, healing, and grace.

David was human and without the advantage of the message of Christ so it is easy to see how he acted out of anger and hurt and grief.  We have the perspective of the cross so are called to live in love, healing and grace toward all regardless of anything.

The letter of the law perpetuates human response the Spirit of the Law calls forth an anointed response of love and peace that itself is transforming and transformed.