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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What changes, Everything

Posted by Don Paine

I had stopped blogging for over a year.

In some ways the well, in me, seemed to have dried up.  The hope and dreams of better days and better ways for the church and the world had grown hopeless and helpless in my mind.

I began doing less and enjoying less of life.

I discovered something old and fresh:

It is time to start new and fresh.   That is what I have decided.  That God has something and somewhere for  me to serve them.  Lots have changed but one thing remains true:

I believe in God.  The God I believe in is bigger than all the limited and limitless ways we speak of them.  They are one and many at the same time.  We limit God when we say this is true and that is not, this is good and that is bad, you are wrong and I am right!

I was at an unusual conference entitled "Pastor's Epic Failure Conference" in Pennsylvania a few years ago.   One of the speakers put on the screen a question of where is God on issues of morality, sexuality, faith statements. Debates sprang up in the room about different theologies, dogmas, decrees, etc. As he attempted to bring the discussion to an end he asked where is God in all of this.  Is God here? there?
My mind flashed to scripture in Matthew 24 that says when people say here is Christ or there is Christ don't believe it for no one know the time and place of his coming.

I suggested that he needed to draw a circle around the whole mess and say, God is there embracing it all loving us all into "One".  God's arms I am convinced are wrapped around the whole world wanting the whole world to come to peace in the way of love by wrapping arms of love around us all regardless of anything.

What if out of respect to ourselves we all said our statements of faith/belief regardless of religious identities but then added one last phrase, like:

Lastly, I believe that nothing I believe should separate me, make me feel superior to, or have me striving against anything you believe as we embrace the theology of love and peace, the anthropology of the forces of good and evil,  the discipline of integrity and honor, the characteristics of compassion and kindness, the qualities of courage and respect, and the practice of mutual respect, humility, and love.

Religion has so often been part of the cruelty and hostility in the world, I desire to sow seeds for a new age of spirituality leading us to a new kind of faith that is non-sectarian, a new kind of hope that is universal, and a new kind of love that is "willing to sacrifice as the prelude to true freedom".  Freedom is not when I have nothing left to lose but when I have everything to lose and everything to gain if I am willing to sacrifice!!

I desire to gift to my grandchildren and their children and their children not a "Christian World" but a world that embraces the Christian teaching of, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Jesus" who being in very nature God, was willingly sacrificed by the God who is one with him, on the cross not because it was just or right but because it leads us to the way to justice and righteousness.  God honors all who learn the road of willingness to sacrifice and serve as the royal road to peace in the world.

A Thoughtful Reminder to me and you from Ghandhi

Posted by Don Paine

The seven deadly social sins for Ghandhi are 

Politics without principle
Wealth without work
Commerce without morality 
Pleasure without conscience
Education without character 
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

I am thinking this is a good reminder for all of us in these days

Climate Stewardship

Posted by Don Paine

This morning I met with a group of men who were discussing the issues of climate change and responsible stewardship on the part of people and organizations.

Then I saw this post on Sojourners blog

President Obama just took the most significant step to address climate change that we’ve ever seen out of the White House: he introduced the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan, which will cut our carbon pollution from power plants 30 percent by 2030. And while no plan is perfect, this is something to celebrate. The real work still lies ahead — first, as the plan is open for public comment this summer, and then as each state creates its own implementation plan.

The rule is flexible, and the targets could be stricter, but this is the first time our nation has treated carbon as a serious pollutant.

Here at Sojourners, our Creation Care campaign offers you a way to make your voice heard at the EPA. And we’re not alone in caring about this as people of faith. Here are what some of our fellow Christians, including Rev. Jim Wallis, have to say about the EPA’s new action:

“In our effort to ensure justice for all of God’s people and serve as stewards of God’s creation, we must do all that we can to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The proposed carbon rule will be an important piece of our collective efforts to live out this call.”

Tyler Edgar, Creation Justice Ministries (affiliated with National Council of Churches)

"The earth is the Lord’s, and in Genesis, God entrusts us with caring for Creation. The earth that we leave to future generations is already being changed by climate change, and so far, our nation has done little to stop climate pollution. The Clean Power Plan is a great step forward for our country in taking climate change seriously. It’s clear that President Obama cares about the legacy he leaves to today and into future generations. While there is a lot more that can and should be done by this Administration and by Congress, President Obama deserves our appreciation for embracing the common good and taking such a big step to preserve the earth for our grandchildren’s grandchildren."

Rev. Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners

I am challenged to do what small things I can do to replenish the earth.  I am convinced the more people take small steps the more those footprints will be seen by future generations.  


Posted by Don Paine

John Lennon wrote,

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Imagine there is no heaven, no hell below us,  above us only sky,  You may say I am a dreamer could the world one day be as one????
John was judged by many as being anti religion and spirituality but I think not.  He was embracing the secular mind and connecting it to the spiritual mind.

Jesus had the same imagination.
 Jesus taught that we are one if we only try, we are one already but are not living like it.

What will help us to live as one????????
I wonder

An Atheist in Me

Posted by Don Paine

I recalled sitting with an atheist in a coffee shop who announced to me, "you know I am an atheist".

Her religious orientation and ethnicity was Jewish but she had become an atheist.  She expected a response of judgment form me.  I had been working with polarized parts of me.  I had begun to understand that the part of me that is a believer is not the only part in me.   There is a skeptic or doubting part in me as well.  There are multiple parts in me.  They help me to connect to others. All those parts are loved.

I said to her, "I get it as I have an atheist part inside of me that thinks all this religious and spiritual stuff is bull___."  She looked at me in amazement.  What followed was a delightful conversation about atheists parts in both of us.  Connection is the context for communication..

Skeptics are not born they are made.  I do believe that we, all, are made in the image of God.  In us all is a desire to know and a self that is of goodness, kindness, peace and harmony.  The way to speak to the skeptic is to embrace the skeptic.

The Beloved embracing the Beloved.  A world of peace and community.


I get it, I missed it

Posted by Don Paine

I recently read Henri J M Nouen's book, Life of the Beloved.

The ending was his account of sending the book to his friend for whom he had written only to receive the honest feedback that he had not written to him, but that he had written to his religious audience.

I immediately felt the pain of being told what I wanted to do I failed at.  Then using the ideas of the book stepped out of that negative space and returned to an earlier part of the book in which a good note had been struck. Communicating is about connecting to the secular mind.  On page 18 Henri had suggested that Fred, his friend, read  the book of Ecclesiastes. A connector was offered.The next day Fred exclaimed, "I read it...I never realized that there was a place for the skeptic in the Bible..That is very reassuring".  Henri response was, "There is much more than a skeptic in you".

I got it.  I usually miss this very point so I am indebted to Henri for this book.

I get that Henri was trying to speak of faith into him.  The problem it was not there for him.   An optimistic response becomes opportunistic and misses the opportunity. The intention was right but he was not paying attention.  Fred did not believe or see it so they missed each other.

When I miss connecting to the skeptic in people by trying to convince them that there is a yearning spirit in them, my intensions are good but the effect is "I miss the mark". When I miss connecting to the skeptic in people by denying the skeptic in me I miss the mark of a great connection.  What if in that context I said, let's talk about that skeptic in you. I would like to get to know that part of you and how it lives in you. Tell me more about that part of you.  Then I could share about the skeptic in me.

I wonder who  will write that book:

"Skeptic to Skeptic" or the "Life of The Skeptic".

Could that be the first step toward the "Life of the Beloved".  We need to find connectors to people, then be willing to use those dark days to with humility speak from the darkness of light.

I have recently been through a dark tunnel of "unloveableness".  The dictionary even says there is no such word.  Trust me I lived it.

Today, I feel the light.  Ignoring the darkness does not allow the light to shine.  Letting the darkness overwhelm me has helped me to see the light in a more profound way.  There is light in the darkness.
Moses saw that in Exodus 20:21

Jesus was open hearted toward the skeptic.

I am impressed to think that when Jesus addressed Thomas about his doubting, he did not judge him but loved him.  Jesus dod not say "You gotta be kidding me Thomas, after I showed you my side and hands, offered to have you touch me, you still doubt, what is wrong with you". Jesus seemed to be unaffected by the "Lord I believe, help my unbelief" statement of Thomas. Jesus seemed to say, "Thomas I get that a part of you now believes but I also get that there remains in you a skeptic part.  That skeptic part is the part that will connect you to the world of skeptics. Now gop and preach this gospel to that world"

Instead of reproof, he is given a message, to Nouwen's point, teh message is  "You are Beloved"!  As you are, not as you think you need to be "You are loved".


Esteem others better than you, does that make sense to you?

Posted by Don Paine

Imagine a world in which everyone esteemed everyone as better than themselves.

In Paul's letter to the church in Philippi he makes that mind boggling life jarring suggestion.  He then seems to imply if not state that this is one way in which we embrace and are embraced by "the mind of Christ" (Phil. 4:5).

In Phil 4:3 "esteem others as better or having more significance than yourself".

That is not really true, right.  No one is better than you.  You are not better than me.  I am not better than you.  Imagine that you treated others, all others, as better than yourself not because they are but because you chose to treat them as better.  And then imagine if everyone treated you as if you were better than they are.  As a young journeyman, coming to faith and hearing this idea, once told me:  Everyone would start feeling pretty good about themselves, no one would ever feel bad, and maybe there would be no more wars!

Imagine.  Ending wars is not about peace treaties.  Ending wars is about treating people, all people as better than that, then helping us all to live into better than that!

This was indeed the "mind of Christ" when he who was God, thought not, "I am better than these people", but rather, I am in very nature God,  This is not something I need to grasp after but can let go of and treat them as better or more important than me, by choosing to become a man, and humbling myself, and dying as a man on a cross.  This will assure them that they are better than me, more significant than my life only to lead them into true significance that is beyond human life.  Spirituality leads into the world that is without end.  Everlasting life.

So in this practical teaching, God was very specific and purposeful.  There are no options here.  It is the mind of Christ to esteem others better than you even though you know they are not to help us all to be better than we could be alone no matter how good we are.

May 30th, the real Memorial Day would be a great day to commit to "honoring all people as more important, more significant, better than you".  All competition to better, bigger and stronger would fade into the sea and fields of love and peace.

By the way, when you esteem others as better than you, if they say "yes I am thanks for noticing" step aside as they may be in for a rude awakening.  If they say no I am not you are much better than me, ask them to hold that thought as you cannot receive it as truth.  We lie to ourselves when we say we are better than someone else or when we say that we are not better than someone else.  No one is better or worse than another but together we can be better, by esteeming others as better and treating them accordingly.

Chosen Favor

Posted by Don Paine

As I concluded yesterdays blog I was recalling a blog I did two years ago on God's favor.

God has no favorites but places favor on all of us.  People like to act like they are God's favorites but God makes it clear.  "God has no favorites".

What God makes equally clear, in Isaiah 61 and in Luke 4 where the passage is quoted, is that he came to preach the good news.......the acceptable year of God's favor ".  God declared that the essence of the gospel is the declaration to all people: To people bound up in resentment, anger, hatred, and violence that they can be set free, to people broken apart by hearts that had rejected, injured, or maimed their well being that they can be wrapped up and healed (Isaiah 61:1-3).

Clearly "God's favor rests on everyone in different ways, at different times for different purposes".
I believe that God's favor rested on Mary as when was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. I believe God's favor rested on Elizabeth who birthed John.  On Joseph who Cradled the son of God in the arms of a father.  And on and on! I believe that God's favor rested on my daughter (both of them in different ways) when they had a child, one outside of marriage and one within the context of marriage.  All four of my grandchildren are recipients of God's favor on them.  My joy is to watch that favor increase and envelop their living.

I believe God's favor is on you whoever you are and wherever you are on life's journey

The idea of God having favorites is just another kind of God game we play.

The idea that we are all chosen unites us a a community chosen to be a royal priesthood.  All people of earth serving one another as chosen people.

Chosen implies You are Special

Posted by Don Paine

Are you chosen?

Do you feel chosen?

When you are selected for a team, a position, at place do you feel more important or the most important .   So the competition imperative of our society marches to the drum of "I am special" in the midst of an inner voice that says, "I am not special".  Who or what are we trying to prove to whom or by what?

In a book by Henri J.M. Nouwen entitled "The Beloved", he argues that you are chosen by God.  He adds that the fact you are not chosen does not mean that you are not good only that someone else is a little better.  The fact that you are chosen does not mean that others are not good, only that you are a little better (p.54-55).

Yet the fact that someone is a little better than me or that I am a little better than someone else perpetuates the secret enemy of contradictory competitiveness.  Competitiveness that has to be better or accept that someone else is better continues the comparativeness that contradicts the nature of all things.  The nature of all things is that everything fits together in a complimentary way not in a competitive way. It is when competition is about contradicting the other or co-opting the other that the seeds of negating or accepting, deflating or inflating take center stage.  When the seeds of complementariness take over something changes inside a person which makes it not about better but complementary.

So I agree with Henri Nouwen in that we are all chosen.  I simply think that when we are not chosen that it is not because someone else is better that we are but that someone else in some particular way seems better to another but only a compliment about a small arena not that I am not center stage.  I am chosen even when I am not.  Even when I am not chosen in a particular sense does not mean I am not chosen in a real sense.

I therefore would add to his words:
The fact that you are not chosen does not mean you are not chosen just that someone else thinks someone else is better than you in that particular way, at that particular time, and for that particular purpose. No rejection is present here. The fact that you are chosen does not make other not good or not make you chosen only that you are a little better in a particular way, for a particular time and a particular purpose.

The fact that you are chosen does not mean that others are not chosen it means that in some particular way for some particular purpose you are chosen while others are chosen of another particular purpose and way.  Being chosen is a compliment to being chosen.  Being chosen does not compete with others who are equally chosen.  Hostilities and arguments between groups of people who seemingly think they are God's chosen people or chosen messengers, would cease in the wake of depreciating others in false humility or self-rejection or appreciating in false confidence or arrogance.

When Jesus said you have not chosen me but I have chosen you it was not to feed their egos that need no inflating nor to starve their egos that need reassurance it was to make it clear that God choses to chose everyone and everything to live in a complimentary wholeness of life and love.  We live in a competitive deterioration of our wholeness as individuals and as a community.

I am not better.  I am chosen.  You are chosen. You are not better.  If we can hold those truths in complimentary community all competition will serve to make us better.  Competition would not be used for us to act like we are better or worse than anyone else.  Good competition brings out the best in people.  Self serving competition brings out the worst in all of us.

We are complimentarily chosen to be the people of God as individuals chosen by God for love and collectively chosen as a community.

The God Game: What is it?

Posted by Don Paine

I recently attended the world premier showing of "The God Game" by Suzanne Bradbeer.

So what is the God game.  It is not God's game for sure.  Rather it is man's game of using God for a purpose that is not all that Godly.  Perhaps that is indeed why it is a game.

An honorable, moderate, and popular senator with incredible integrity is asked to be the vice presidential running mate for a very conservative presidential candidate.  So what is the game.  As a vowed agnostic/atheist he is asked to compromise his integrity and say or at least imply while not saying that he is a Christian because in America you have to be Christian to be elected president.

Years ago I spoke at a conference in Hong Kong and began that talk with the following:   I know many Christians who in their daily lives to no act like a Christian should act..  I know others who claim to not be Christian who are more Christian in their actions.  So what is a Christian suppose to do?   My response was:  we need to be more open to the life of "honor, humility and integrity" than to any particular way of believing in God.

It is a sad state of affairs if a country forces a person to believe in a certain way or worse say they believe in a certain way or they are unacceptable as a candidate for that country's highest office!

If the God game is saying that politics is asking people to act one way while believing another, or believe one way while acting another, it is a game but God has nothing to do with it.  It is people using God and if they were to ask them for their opinion they would respond with a united:  "That is not Our Way".  Our way is about diversity and respectfulness, honor, humility and integrity.

Humility, honor and integrity are characteristics of God and in the game of life they are the highest of Christian  values eclipses while reflected in Christianity.  Let's hope!

Can we rally around humility, honor, and integrity and let all else remain a private matter of personal choice and conscience?

Memorial Day Challenge

Posted by Don Paine

On this memorial day in 2014 let us all decide to put flowers on the graves of all soldiers of all wars of all nations......

Maybe that was the genesis of that first "Decoration Day".  What a moving moment to see thousands of people putting thousands of flowers on thousands of graves of soldiers on both sides of that war.  Maybe that is a path to healing and binding up the wounds of our world today!

What a moving moment.  Imagine being there and watching people who you do not even know putting flowers down to honor the life of every soldier regardless of what side of the war they fought?  Would that be enough to end all war?

We can hope!

We can act!

With liberty and justice for ALL!

This is a call to patriotism:  to honoring all those who during this time of war were willing to make this ultimate sacrifice while at the same time letting them know they led us to the road of love and peace.  In deed they did not die in vain.

In the seder celebration we read the words: "The willingness to sacrifice is the prelude to freedom".
Being willing to sacrifice all that you have to gain what no money, no power, no will can buy is worth it all.

Abraham Lincoln the seeds of Memorial Day

Posted by Don Paine

With malice toward none, with charity (love) 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 (them) who shall have born the battle and
for his (their) widows and orphans 
to do all which may achieve and cherish
a just and lasting peace
among ourselves and all nations.

These words were spoken by Abraham Lincoln at his second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865

Were these words the seeds of the first Memorial Day celebration three years later (May 30, 1868), 
referred to in my last blog?
Was the violent act of hatred and war, the assassination of Lincoln on April 15th, 42 days later,
a seed, or a catalyst for this action?

What seeds are you sowing?
What seeds are you watering?
What seeds are you trampling under foot?

Seeds of peace and not strife are scattered on the battle fields of all wars.  The seeds cry out for a better way.  May we pray and work towards a better way so that Memorial Day will be a historic day of recalling how we used to settle differences with war and have matured to respect all differences and settle all disputes with maturity and mutuality toward and from all!

Jesus who was willing to sacrifice his own life when he had done nothing deserving of death teaches us that love conquers all enemies of life and death.
The Jesus way is not the way of any particular church but the way of sacrifice as the way to love and peace.

That world is the world that has no end,
The world of war will have an end
For in the end,
Love declares there is no end!

Memorial Day

Posted by Don Paine

Wars are not winnable.  Someone always loses his or her life and his or her spouse, parent, or child!

Where Love wins all war will end!

On this Memorial Day I have a dream.  Maybe it is more of a vision.  The nightmare of war dominates the landscape of humanity.  On the horizon we see the message of peace.  Even as the tsunami of war rises the hope for peace persists.  Memorial Day does not celebrate war it mourns it.  It honors those who sacrificed their lives for peace.

Memorial Day will one day be a historic decoration of the graves of those who did not die in vain in fact we will honor their their deaths pointed humanity, with the finger of oneness, to the fallacy of winning a war.

A day when peace will cover all nations and roll over all the world as a solemn and sacred solidarity of humanity leads us to peaceful resolutions of all disagreements.  Maturity of character and mutual respectfulness as characteristic will have replaced self-cenetered and self-serving competition between nations. Where healthy competition that enhances the well being of all members of earth meets the compassion of all towards all so that no nation has to give their young to the altar of war.  Cooperation and compassion rather than imposition and intrusion will be the hallmarks of that peaceful world.

On that day memorial day would be celebrated through out the whole world.  All will reflect on those who sacrificed their lives in wars who helped us to see once and for all the utter felicity and fallacy of war and the propellent of better ways to resolve conflict.  One day there will be "liberty and justice and peace for all people of earth".

The first Memorial Day in the USA was celebrated on May 30th, 1868.   General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic:

"The 30th of May, 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land, in this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit."

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped decorate the graves of 20,000 union and confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

Weeping for soldiers on both sides of the war, united the nation in its sorrow. It was in this vein that Lincoln called on the nation. "With malice toward, and

The vision is that in all countries of earth, soldiers on both sides of all wars will be honored for their willingness to sacrifice, while all earth affirms the lesson of war.  In the end we all lose someone or something.  When we learn that wars can be justified, while no war is just we will make a step in the direction of peace.  Peace, not as the end of conflicts of disagreements but as an end to using any form of power or coercion to impose or intrude on another's freedom, as the way to sustain "liberty and justice for all"!


Acid test of Speaking or Writing

Posted by Don Paine

As I concluded my last post I recalled a wisdom statement from Amy Carmichael, missionary to India.

She said whenever deciding what to say or write, you should ask three questions in this order:

Is is True?

Is it Kind?

Is it Necessary?

We would say less and suffer less if we all guarded our speech with that triage of questions.  Only when you can say the truth, be kind, and speak what is necessary should you speak.

Is that what Mephibosbeth modeled? (see 5/21/14 blog)

I wonder.  He was kind, forgiving, and other focused.  Hmm!

So my prayer is, Mold me into one with a discerning heart. Amen

The Gift of Discernment

Posted by Don Paine

I recently read a comment on a Biblical story that troubled me.  What troubles me was that the passage was only partially quoted.  We all can see things differently and being open to that can make a difference in the world. Was this a mistake in judgment? Is this the cause of David's kingdom being divided or is this the result of David learning and receiving discernment? No one is always right.

In II Samuel 9-20, there are several accounts of Absalom's conspiracy to overthrow David.  David had discovered that Mephibosbeth was a handicapped grandson of Saul and so David afforded him protection of the kingdom and the inheritance of Saul.  Mephibosbeth, crippled in both feet, had responded with "eternal loyalty" to David.  David had honored him with his grandfather's (Saul) inheritance. Ziba a servant of Saul's household was given to him.  Later on when a conspiracy arose and David fled Jerusalem, Mephibosbeth handicap made it difficult to leave so Ziba pledged to go in his stead and represent his desire to flee with David to him.  When David say Mephibosbeth was not with him and asked him he gave this response, "He is staying in Jerusalem, ...because he thinks that the kingdom of his grandfather will be restored to him."(16:3).  David then awards all that Mephibosbeth had to Ziba.  Later after the conspiracy was over and David returned to Jerusalem, Mephibosbeth approached David and David asked him why he had not accompanied him.  Mephibosbeth answered "My Lord, since your servant is lame, I said I would have my donkey saddled and would ride on it so I can go with the King. But Ziba, my servant betrayed me to you" (19:24).  David declared that the wealth of Saul would be shared equally by Ziba and Mephibosbeth (19:25).  Mephibosbeth responded, "Let him have everything, now that my king has arrived safely home" (19:26)

The interpretation by some is that David lost his kingdom due to his not standing against Ziba's betrayal and returning everything to Mephibosbeth.  As I read this story and looked for later details of this action, I found no account that the wealth was ever split.  David had made mistakes and had learned many hard lessons during this time (II Samuel 9-20). I do not think this was one of them. This is about "collective wisdom". Finding a way to discern who is truthful then acting accordingly.  Like David's lesson at the hand of Nathan. Truthfulness is discernible when the heart is right.

In this instance, I think David said he would divide the inheritance, which obviously was important to Ziba, to see Mephibosbeth reaction. It was not a final determination.  It may have been to discern truth and loyalty.  He was discerning Mephibosbeth's heart. When David said he would divide the wealth between the two of them, it was to watch the response.  The person who told the story, quoted Mephibosbeth's response:  "Give it all to him".  That sounds like an angry response. The implication is that the statement revealed that David could not put the words of the betrayer out of his head and believed them to at least some degree.  This would be an error. David had learned to be discerning from having poor discernment. He had let his emotions rule his judgement but no this time.That is not the whole truth as Mephibosbeth added that he was just glad that David was home.  Had he respond with accusations of unfairness and injustice it would say one thing to the King.  He chose to respond with, "give him everything, I have no ill feelings toward him and am simply glad you are well and have returned to Jerusalem".  Kindness and benevolence were revealed in his heart and David acted accordingly.  Whose interpreter is correct?  Mine gives some credit to David's growth curve. For me the whole phrase is more important than a part of the phrase.  Parsing phrases creates splits in understanding. Adding words can do the same.  Honestly I see the words I added to make it seem, I am right.  Being open to see that, keeps my heart open to my colleague.  For me it is interesting that years later Solomon would demonstrate this same wisdom to determine who was the real mother. He had no intention of cutting the child in two just ordered it to see the heart. The woman who was willing to have the child cut in two was not the mother but the one who was willing to give him up, was the true mother.  Solomon discerned true loyalty by this wise judgment. David discerned true loyalty by this wise judgment.

Often times we think we know what a person has done by the words they say. Sometimes our biases effects our perception.  By looking closer we can discern a deeper truth. David's kingdom was divided, true.  It was due to poor judgments, true.  That this particular judgment was the catalyst for the division of the kingdom is divisive.  I am not saying, it was a wise decision. I am saying it was wise to present it to discern a better decision.

David like all of us, had made lots of bad decisions that had created divisions.  But to interpret this statement as a cause of his divided kingdom is to miss the larger point.  Loyalty and truth are sometimes hard to discern but there is a way to test the heart, to know the heart.  This is the wisdom of discernment in action, a matter of the heart.

May God grant all of us discerning hearts and minds.  This is a gift that will keep on giving.

PS  When I began to blog this I was going to mention the person with whom I disagreed.  Discernment had me realize I did not have to do that to make my point. There are always two ways to look at anything which is really the most important point.  What is the most beneficial, to the most people, is an act of discernment.

War is all Wrong

Posted by Don Paine

I blogged a couple years ago about their not being any such thing as "Righteous or Just War".

It upset people whose sons and daughters have died in wars as some interpreted me to say that we should not have gone to war.  People wanted to fight me on their interpretation of my premise.

I did not mean that I do not honor the lives of men and women who have sacrificed their lives for peace in the world.  The very freedom we can sometimes take for granted was not free.  It has a price.  Sadly too often the price is dead soldiers.

What I want to say is that War never ends conflict.  As Bill Clinton noted well in a speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention, "The world is more impressed by the power of our presence (to act with kindness in the world) than they are by the presence of our power (to crush our enemies under our feet)".

Hating the enemy is the battle cry of all wars.  Even the war to end all wars did not end all wars. The battle cry of God is Love Your enemies.  The Battle of Armageddon is not a battle of military might but of the presence of the eternal and transforming love of God.  The word Armageddon is made up of two Hebrew words that mean Mountain and Valley.  This battle levels the playing field, has no place, or is ubiquitously here and there.  It is where all the forces of hatred are melt away in the presence of Love and Grace.

War is what we do because there is no trust to do otherwise.

Love is what you do when you know otherwise.

We can justify going to war.  We can celebrate defeating the enemy.  Justifying war does not make war just.

Jesus died to end all wars not to win a war!

"The strife is over, the battle is done" means war ends as love begins.

Wars are not winnable.  Someone always loses.

Love wins and ends all war!

Hatred is Not Right, It is All Wrong!

Posted by Don Paine

In this book Chad Gibbs challenges us to truly understand what it means to love your enemies.

In each chapter he begins with a quote.  One of them is "I hate quotes".  There is nothing I hate more than when people quote things out of context.  However, who am I to address the issue of context as none of us knows 100% the context of anything.

In one chapter he quotes, Psalm 139, "I Have nothing but hatred for them, I count them my enemies".  This is verse 22.  The context is this entire Psalm and perhaps all the Psalms as when originally given there were no chapters of verses just a flowing document with a clear focus.  Hmm?

So to context:  verse 19 follows an emphasis on the quality of transparency and openness before God. In the first verse (the chapters and verses are helpful for navigating and addressing issues but let's always remember that they are not inspired) David says, "O Lord you have searched me and know me".  Affirming that God already knows all is a good place to start.  He affirms God's love and grace.  Is he on his way to prove or ask something?  Honestly do we not all, at times, do that?  Then in verse 19 he says,"If only you would slay the wicked oh God.  Away from me you blood thirsty men.  They speak of you with evil intent, your adversaries misuse your name.  Do I not hate those who hate you oh Lord and abhor those who rise up against you?  I have nothing but hatred for them, I count them my enemies!"  

Projecting God's response, what nerve for me to do so, I confess the arrogance but to make a point here goes:  Really David you count them as your enemies.  Interesting as I have no enemies?

It sounds like David is asking God for an "Atta boy, David.  Let's kill off all our enemies then there will be peace in our land!  Sounds good.  It is all wrong!

Hatred even if it has a good focus is wrong as it feeds on the venom that it says it hates.  In the end we die!  We loose our effectiveness to make difference.

Notice what God whispers into David's heart in the next verse.  Was it, "Love your enemies".  An affirmation that you have  a point David, they do have evil intent, they do misuse my name is followed by a, "you too David".  You are misusing my name and you have evil intent. Wo! Really? Yes.

David got what we often miss in this passage.  Being right does not make you right.  Hating anything does not make that thing stop or go away.  Rather it fuels it and strengthens its venom.

I can hear David saying.  O My God.  It is me that is the problem not them.  Counting them as my enemies does not put me on the side of God unless it is to love them as God loves them.  Love is what transforms even if it is abused, misused, and refused.

Verses 23-24: "Search me O God and know my heart test me and know my anxious thoughts See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." 

The everlasting way is the way of love and transformation not the way of hatred and perpetuation.

So let me apply.  I do not hate when people take things out of context.  I hate when I do.  I commit to trying to be faithful to the context.  The context and content of Chad's book is to challenge us to "love our enemies".  Their is no such thing as righteous hatred unless you are righteous.  None of us is!  Chad is right on when he implies that idealization and idolization create a pathway for hatred.

Jesus' idea was and is, "love your enemies".  It is the pathway to peace.  Love is the greatest of the things that last forever for it transforms everything and everyone in its path.

"Lead us in the everlasting way of love and peace"  Amen

NBA Playoffs: A challenge to us all. "WE Are One"

Posted by Don Paine

The NBA, its players and fans, have united as one to say: We Are One on the issue of maturity of character and mutual respectfulness of all regardless of anything.

The "We Are One" chants in the NBA were spurned by the racial slurs of Mr. Donald Sterling.  The Los Angeles Clippers which he formerly owned launched a web site http://www.nba.com/clippers/one It has become a rally point for the NBA.  It affirms that all people regardless of anything have the right of mutual respect and anything short of that is unacceptable. The NBA commissioner, Mr. Adam Silver banned Mr. Sterling from the NBA and any association with the NBA for life.  This decisive action and clear directive to stand as one with all players and owners on the issue of no racial discrimination and universal inclusion is a challenge to all of us.

My hope is that churches might follow this trend and clearly declare that "We Are One" even though we may disagree on many issues, "We are One" when it comes to embracing maturity of character and mutual respectfulness.

Jesus prayed that we might be one.  It may be time that we, act as one.  Even if only on this one issue.

Maybe Churches could start a chant:  "WE Are One"!  We do not have to sell T-Shirts like the NBA is but we do need to take seriously the challenge to stand as one and be counted!  Congratulations to the NBA for doing so.

Regardless of who wins the NBA Finals this year, the Clippers have challenged all of us to affirm our "Oneness" which is our greatest "Affirmative Action"!   Congratulations to the leadership of the NBA, the Clipper organization, and for all who join the "We Are One" focus.  They took a negative experience and have turned it into a "Rally to Live As One".  In the final analysis of what really is important, winning, the "WE ARE ONE" focus, makes us all champions. Everyone wins when we are one and live as one.  John Lenin sang of it.  Jesus spoke to it.  It is on us to live into it!

We Are One!

Pray for these girls and our world on this Mother's Day and more

Posted by Don Paine

I was, along with many, saddened and angered at the lack of attention the abduction of 300 teenage school girls girls in Nigeria has received.  It happened on April 14th and even with all the social media and techs available we are only hearing about it now.  Rev Alexis Fuller-Wright a UCC pastor in Maine has called us to action. I join with the UCC and others in calling for special prayers on Mother's day as the hearts of all of us grieve this atrocity! Old South Church in Boston has located the names of many of the missing girls.  God knows them all by name and our prayers will go up for them all.

Mother's Day is set aside to pray for the holding of children in our arms as stewards of God's gift of life and earth.  May we join together to do so and may our uniting as one, cause the release of all these innocent girls

Cardinal John Onalyskanb the archbishop of Abuja highlights "we are terribly ashamed" of the lack of media coverage of this hostility.

He reported today that 53 have escaped which leaves more than 247 still in captivity being sold for as little as $12.00 each.

The God of the Universe who gives life to all and who calls on all of us to respect treasure and protect the least among us calls on all of us to pray and demonstrate outrage at the act and also at the silent complicity of the world.

Thankfully until Now!!!

"Let the little children come unto me for of such is the kingdom of God"