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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A Mother's Legacy

Posted by Don Paine

Hannah was troubled by the infertility of her womb.  Elkannah's other wife had born him many sons and she had taunted Hannah with this reality.  Elkannah told Hannnah that her love was greater to him than 10 sons.  Her heart was heavy and she sought God and committed to give a son back to God if God gave her a son.  Hannah's heart was not about herself but about the "self" within her that honored the God who taught her the two faces of sacrifice:  One face was the face of Joy and Wonder when you have the unmistakeable gift of life within that mirrors the gift of life all around.  After her son Samuel was weaned she brought him to Eli to live and grow within the context of service and sacrifice.  I imagine the incredible struggle and strength in Hannah as she honor her word and gave up all rights to her son while doing the right thing.

The "right thing" was not just her honoring her vow to God but in pouring the oil of that surrender into her presentation of her son.  It was a legacy of honor and integrity much like the act of Abraham in being "willing to sacrifice" his son Issac only to seed in him a life ofd service and sacrifice.  Hannah likewise seeded in Samuel a "willingness to sacrifice" and the "witness of integrity".  What a legacy.

Imagine Samuel asking Eli where his mother was and Eli telling him the story of how his mother was amazing in her "willingness to sacrifice and love" and in her "witnessing of honor and integrity".  Samuel followed in his mother's honor and integrity because it flowed into him not with words but with action and intention.

Judgment Hall, Hall of Grace

Posted by Don Paine

The lectionary Gospel was John 18 on Jesus summoned to the "judgment hall" by pilate and the powers that think they have power.  Governments are like that.  They hold an wield power and judgment.  Weird, that God would be summoned to man's "judgment hall" when God was about to demonstrate the "Hall of Grace" and invite all humanity to a "judgement free zone" where truth and grace rules and honesty and humility thrive.  Indeed God's kingdom is not "of" this world for King's of the earth and ruler's of earth control and direct the affairs of their subjects.  The kingdom of God is within people and is ruled by "inner self-control", inner peace and calm, and outward acts of goodness and kindness".

That is a world that needs no end, and has no end.  A Kingdom of "truth, justice, and God's way".

In Every thing Give Thanks

Posted by Don Paine

What a concept:  be thankful all the time, for all things, everywhere, and always.

Is this a recipe for disaster or for delight.

If I accept bad things that happen to me or around me am I not inviting bad things to come into my life?
If I get a package in the mail that I do not what I can refuse delivery.  At one time in my spiritual journey I was taught to "reject all things that I do not want" and God will fill my life with only good things.  What self-deception in the guise of spirituality.

Today, I accept every package that comes to my door.  I do not separate packages that are form God and not, or packages that are good and bad.  I welcome everything and the welcome changes everything.  Everything is good not because it is qualitative evaluated as being good but it is transformed into goodness by acceptance, affirming love, and abiding grace.

This what Paul meant when he wrote to the Thessalonican Church people.  "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).  He was not saying to welcome bad and let that bad overwhelm you.  He was saying welcome the bad and good so neither become the focus but the focus becomes welcoming all things and letting that transform all things into goodness and mercy that will follow me all the days of my life and I will be dwelling in the house of God now and forever.  The will of God is not to accept the good and bad of life as from God but to accept that good and bad happen and in a spirit of thanksgiving find good in everything.   That is the will of God for us all to find and transform the worst into the best and to transform the good from making us feel entitled to making us thankful.

So this Thanksgiving:

Be Thankful for the blue skies
Be Thankful for the grey skies
Be thankful for the storms that destroy some or all you have
Be thankful for the seas of glass that give peace that lasts
Be thankful for the people you love
Be thankful for the people you hate
Be thankful for people who like you
Be thankful for people who do not like you
In everything and for every one Give Thanks


Posted by Don Paine

Jesus said, "My peace I give you not as the world gives you peace".  God's peace is not the same as man's peace.

God's Peace is not the absence of conflict, despair or disaster

God's Peace is the presence of calm in conflict, despair, or disaster.


Posted by Don Paine

The Doxology a major part of many church services says:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise God above, all you heavenly host
Praise all creatures here below
Praise Father's Son and Holy Ghost

The implication of the first line is that we are happy and thai God for all the blessings that come our way but how about the heartaches, the adversities, the apparent curses.  Some even believe that the curses on our lives are our fault or that God is mad at us so withholding blessings.  Others believe that the blessings are only because of God and nothing to do with us.  It is the worst kind of duplicity of the duality of life. This implies that blessings are on God and curses are all on me so that I do not get any credit for the good and all the credit for the bad.  That seems unfair and twisted. Blessings and curses, good times and bad times just are.  We do not do anything to get or not get them.  This makes it fair and untwists the duality.  As God pours goodness into everything and as God turns all the good and bad into "some good in our lives" so God invites us to raise God at all times when the blessings come and when adversity visits us.  God invites us to in the best of times not take him for granted and in the worst of times make them better by finding good an during goodness into them.

So here is a possible new first line:

Praise God from whom all goodness flows!

Kill or Be Killed, Love Your Enemies

Posted by Don Paine

This picture appeared on the front page of the New York Times on Friday, November 16, 2012.

It is an illustration of current world events where two groups justify their killing each other which in the end is "global blindness".  A "kill of be killed" orientation and world view results in "global annihilation" and is justification of that which is not "justice for all" but "death to all".

Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye orientation results in a blind world".  Additionally, an eye for an eye orientation results in everyone seeing the world with "one eye" or "one way".  If we pluck out the offending eye then see "our enemies" with an eye of love, we negotiate a cease fire.  We cease from perpetual violence in the name of justification and embrace a "justice for all" through non-violent acts of goodness, fairness and kindness.

Alternately, we see the world with two eyes.  With one eye we see the way we want to see it, the way it appears to us, and the way we justify our protective, provoked, and proactive part.  With the other eye we see the world form the other persons perspective in which we see their protective, provoked, and proactive part.  

While many acts of violence can be "justified" there is no such thing as "just violence". Violence by its very nature is injustice in action.  Love by its very nature is just and justice in action.  There is such a thing as a "war I can justify" but that does not make it a just war.  All acts of violence are acts of injustice.  All acts of goodness kindness and peace are justice in action.  Jesus and many others said, "Love your enemies".  This was not because our enemies as so lovable, or because we want to invite them to kill us, but because only love can heal a broken heart.  

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life, sorrow and suffering enough to disarm our hostilities.

Only when "the eye of love settles the eye of violence will there peace and justice in our world".

In the name of the God of love and peace, may it be so!

Peace that is Peace

Posted by Don Paine

Peace is not the absence of conflict, despair, or disaster
Peace is the presence of calm in conflict, despair, or disaster!

A Model of Justice and Peace from South Africa

Posted by Don Paine


"In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly, unjustly or with disrespect toward themselves or others, he/she is placed in the center of the village.  All work ceases, and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual.

Then each person in the tribe, regardless of age, begins to talk out lout to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person in the center of the circle had done
in his/her lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy is recounted. All his/her positive attributes, good deeds, strengths and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. The ceremony often lasts for several days.

At the end, the circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back in the tribe, in touch with who they are and who they can be".

The Garden meets the Gardner

Posted by Don Paine

I wept inside with someone who became a widower this weekend.  Strange I had just blogged about two widows now I meet a widower.  It is the same on both sides just different sides.

His wife of 66 years died leaving him alone.  He and she were in different ways "relieved and released" from the heavy burden of a body that shackled a soul.

As he described her to me I had two visions created in my mind as I listened to her life though his words.  She was a gardener who I watched meeting the one who after his death as he was on his way to heaven, "was thought to be the gardner".  Jesus is the gardner who plants, waters and gives increase but he is also the garden in which we live and move and have our being.  So the woman gardner joins the gardner in the garden of heaven.  I could see it.

As he continued to speak about the love of his life and the life of his love, I had another vision come to my eyes of Jesus welcoming her to his garden and calling her a "woman of a green thumb and a golden heart".

Grief and grace will flow into this man and his family even through this loss as they embrace "everlasting life and live everlasting love.

As Paul Anka once wrote and sung, "if love is not forever what is forever for"!

Two widows one message

Posted by Don Paine

The lectionary scripture for last week had two widows providing one message.

The Widow of Jerusalem (Mark 12: 38-44):  Jesus watched all the people bringing their large offerings in a showy way to the synagogue.  For him it was never about the show but about the reality of the heart as transparent and translucent. The widow came and gave her last penny as an indication of her willingness to give everything not because she had nothing worth living for but the model of a "living sacrifice".   A person who does not live through what they have but through what they do not have.

The Widow of Zarepath (I Kings 17:8-16):  Elijah asks this poor widow who was gathering some water so she could have a last meal with her son then die.  She was full of despair because all she could see is what she did not have. She was also full of hope which she could not see.  Elijah asked her to go home and bake some bread and draw some water and he would be there to share in what she had.  As she poured oil and flour and water into a bowl she discovered that she had more than she ever thought. From her giving she became abundantly blessed.  They all ate and were full.

A "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:2) is someone who mourns great loss, weeps for the loss and those tears become water for the soul.  Death shadow breathes into us and we become "living souls".  People who do not live through what they have. They live through what they do not have, freely becoming who they really are.

The World as it is, The Church as it should be

Posted by Don Paine

A week ago I was in NYC picking up my packet for the New York City Marathon.

Runners were coming together from all over the world, from all nationalities, all ethnicities, all political ideologies, all religious and non-religious orientations, all races, all sexual preferences, all philosophical positions, and all realities to run a race that is "like none other".

Many runners who came to use their feet and sneakers switched to use gloves and hands to help people dig out of debris and to lend a "helping hand" rather than "running feet".  This was amazing to watch happen and to be part of.

There was no political, religious, ethnic, racial, or gender posturing.  There was runners taking the position of compassion.  Compassion overruled agenda.  They had all come, 47000 of them, to NYC to do an amazing run.  It became an amazing fete of a sense of global community a new kind of "global warming". It warmed all the hurt, cynical, overwhelmed parts of people to see people helping people.
That is the way the church, the synagogue, the temple, the mosque, etc. should be.  We are each others neighbors.  The world of neighbors came into the NYC neighborhood.  We all became what we already are, "good neighbors" doing good from hearts of compassion and creating a "good feeling"in the presence of tragedy and trauma.

The "race like none other" took on a new dimension of seeing the human race in action.  A "moment like none other" making the 2012 ING NYC Marathon a Race Like None Other!

A Snap of Anger and a Touch of Compassion

Posted by Don Paine

It was the day after the election.
I was at a coffee shop having a "moment of relaxation".  A woman was also there at a private table and on her cell phone.  Her voice was getting steadily louder and more and more disturbing to everyone in the coffee shop.  I turned and gently motioned for her to soften her voice.  She began to speak louder than ever telling the person on the other end of the phone that some obnoxious old man was telling her to lower her voice.  She then spoke to me telling me loudly that this was not a library but a public place and that this was her voice and if I did not like it I could go to a different coffee shop.  As she was "ranting" I tried to softly say, "I am just asking for some simple courtesy".  Giving up, I turned back to my warm refreshing coffee and my reading the newspaper.

I did notice that her voice dropped and she was speaking very softly.

Ten minutes later I felt a touch on my arm as i was focused on reading an article in the paper.  I had given up and let go of the "fray".  It was the same woman.  She began to apologize to me for being so obnoxious and rude.  She seemed genuinely sorry.  I told her that it was okay and I was glad she lowered her voice.  She agin told me she had treated me poorly and was very sorry.  She then added that her husband had died suddenly last week and she is angry at the world.  I told her I got that and that she could release that anger and in fact was doing so by talking to me.  I told her that while it was not okay to disturb others it was okay to express her disturbance and that she needed to find a place to do that.  She left with a smile on her face and I had a smile in my heart and face.  I hope her smile found a way into her heart.

It was not how I expected to spend my time at the coffee shop.  But is was all good.  As a tense angry exchange was transformed into a healing moment.

I thank that woman for her courage to be honest and reparative and trust she will repair her hurt heart.

Beyond Politics: Practicing togetherness

Posted by Don Paine

It is the American Way!
What is the American Way?

As the dust and wounds of a competitive political settle, all Americans begin to embrace their common bound, their common goals, and their common ground.

When Abraham Lincoln made his second inaugural address it was after the civil war that had been due to a deeply divided nation.  The wounds on both sides further divided the nation.  It was not the time for a winner take all mentality or for the winners to "claim mandates".  It was a time for the nation to come together to bind up their wounds, to come together for the good of all, and to sacrifice all agendas in the name of "the common good" and the "unity of a nation".  Abraham Lincoln said these words to this nation at that time, March 4, 1865:
  With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to know the right,
let us strive to finish the work that we are in  To bind up the nations wounds,to care for him who 
shall have born the battle for just and lasting peace among ourselves and all nations.

Today, while not a civil war, we have been deeply divided as a nation.  Nearly half of our nation is disappointed in the election results.  We need to celebrate unity, common good, and common concerns.
We need the five c's of courage, compassion, conscience, cooperation and collaboration.

In President Barak Obama's speech on election night he attributed the greatness of our nation to all who made phone calls or held signs on street corners whether for him or Governor Mitt Romney.  The American way is to have strong opinion and dreams, to campaign for causes long and hard, and in the end regardless of who wins to "come together" for healing and for unity of the nation.

So let us come together, sacrificing our individual agendas for the common good, embracing justice and peace, and engaging in acts of love, goodness and kindness regardless of anything to the good of all people, to the healing of our nation, and as a witness to the world of "the American Way".


Radio Interview with KLOVE Christian Radio

Posted by Don Paine

Before the marathon was cancelled, I was interviewed on K-Love Radio about the worship service.  You can go here and listen to the interview

ING New York City Marathon: A Moment Like None Other

Posted by Don Paine

Last night, Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Road Runners Club, who were working together to orchestrate the ING NYC Marathon ("A Race Like None Other"), decided that this was a moment like none other and it need bold and courageous leadership like none other.  Together, they made a decision that was not about runners who had trained for a year for this event, or about the revenue that the marathon brings to the city.  It was about the people in Staten Island and other parts of the NYC area who were reeling from the trauma of Hurricane Sandy.

 42 years ago, Fred Lebow began the NYC marathon, sacrificing a career in a different direction, wanting to make the marathon a "people's marathon".  The simple fact that people matter was at the core of his heart and the passion of his running.  That is what made the NYC Marathon into a "Race Like None Other".   In 1992 Grete Waitz and Fred ran the NYC Marathon.  She sacrificed a potential unprecedented 10th NYC Marathon win to run with her friend out of care and compassion. I had the privilege of joining them for a stretch in Central Park.  Fred was in pain, but he was inspired to finish by the care and compassion of fellow marathoners.  Like me and like Grete, they were pushing him to the finish line by the sheer force of their will.

Sacrifice is at the heart of the marathon runner and it is what this 2012 decision required. So this year the New York City Marathon says loud and clear to the world that there are times that all agendas can be sacrificed. This year the discipline and dedication of runners who have come to NYC gives way to caring for the people of NYC.  Compassion trumps competition.  That is a message like none other for the world to hear.  How fitting from the "race like no other".

Wind Storms and a Gentle Breeze

Posted by Don Paine

Wow the east coast gets another storm.

I an so many have been out of power or just over whelmed by the winds and the floods.

I realized that in behind the winds and the floods and in and behind any tragedy is a "gentle breeze" of God's presence.

"A breeze of presence is in every storm of adversity"
Behind every flood is a river of peace.