I honestly did not think I would ever utilize a newsletter format again.  Being a slow typist who changes his mind a lot, they are very time consuming to create.  Then, I have often wondered how many people will take the time to click on the link to my newsletter in an email, versus how many only read whatever is actually in the email.  This started out simply as two separate communications.  The first step down this "newsletter" path was when I thought I would combine them so you are not overburdened with too many emails from me.  Then I read something I thought would be nice to add.  As the process continued, a newsletter seemingly resulted.  All that remained was to bring it together and add a header.  It could be a parable about life in and of itself. 


Lent & Thanksgiving Plus
March 27, 2015


Long before Europeans showed up on the shores with the Bible, generosity was a highly touted virtue in most of the native cultures with which I am familiar. In some, great generosity was a primary way of increasing your stature within the tribe, clan, or nation. So, this email could apply across the board, whether one is Christian or not. However, it uses scriptural references to explain my choices, since they influenced the specifics of those choices.

Eighteen years ago, I placed into a newsletter of mine an item I referred to as a Thanks Giving Challenge. I decided this Lent it was time, in my own life, to return to some of the basics I began my journey with. So, Donna and I took half of the food in our cupboards the Tuesday (Tuesday is the day our local food bank is open) before Ash Wednesday, and donated it to the local food bank. At first, I was not inclined to share that with others.  Scripture admonishes us to avoid seeking praise from men for any good that we do. But considering I am now a branch of the Teaching & Sharing Centers organization, I had to acknowledge there is a teaching aspect as well as simply sharing, which is a dynamic of what I do. I decided my "fleece test" (Judges 6:36-40) would be if I could find the original challenge I made back in 1996. I did, and I made a number of notes to include here, but with all the other work (more on that later), I never quite got around to putting it all together. Rather than reiterate everything, I have copied the original challenge to a separate page.  Either of the two blue links in this paragraph will take you to it. It is my intent that Donna and I will do this annually at Lent, and again at Thanksgiving. One thing I have learned in my twenty years of doing what I do however, is I no longer “challenge” anybody about anything. I simply extend invitations to consider. I have discerned that my life always seems better the more generous, forgiving, and loving that I am toward others. Each of us is free to choose, because each of us must live the results of the choices we make. I would simply invite you to consider if there is any validity for your own life regarding what I share. 

I had a couple of additional notes written about this. Why not go buy stuff for the food bank instead?  I do not know about you, but when we shop to give to the food bank, we try to get the most for what we are spending and buy cheaper products we do not ever use ourselves. There is nothing wrong with trying to stretch donation dollars. Under the circumstance, getting more means more people are fed. This special sharing is a little bit different though. It is taking what you have purchased for yourself, the things you eat, and offering half of it to someone who has less. I have found this to be a more difficult endeavor. Especially if you have stocked up on some favorites of yours. It reminds me, no matter how far I think I might have come, in generosity, I still have plenty of room to grow.  And, I have discovered, without a specific plan or program, our giving outside of church tends to become somewhat sporadic, and fades over time. 

Shortly after we did this, we had some close friends to our house for dinner, and the subject of food banks came up.  People who take advantage of the system were mentioned as good reasons to not give to the food bank.  I immediately wondered if that "fleece test" was strong enough to not abandon this newsletter, considering the opinions I was hearing. My views on things are constantly evolving. I have become more reluctant, or less confident, to write from a perspective that I understand even I might not see the same tomorrow. The medical practitioner’s admonition “do no harm” is a part of my prayers and desires. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it is not what happens at the other end that matters. Jesus asks us to share because we have been blessed to have . . . anything . . . everything. At that meal around our dining room table, I talked about how we have become a culture of entitlement, and heads nodded in agreement, tending to exclude ourselves, of course. But like the older brother in the prodigal son parable, we too have an entitlement mentality based on our own works ethic. Everything is a gift. Sure, what we do personally grows or destroys the gifts we have been given, but no matter how far back you must go, even to what you were born with, ultimately we have been given everything. We share because we have been given. Even if we perceive it has all come about through our own labors. If there is a concern about food banks, then give to someplace like the City rescue mission, the county homeless shelter, or find out who has little and take it to them directly, it matters not. We have been admonished by our Creator to share what we have. That is enough reason for me to do it. 


Update On My Status

You may have noticed the william's works name and logo on the header of this newsletter.  That is the name of the new branch of the Teaching & Sharing Centers which will encompass the three parts of my endeavors:

a touch of william
Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center
and the www.wsharing.com website

I no longer exist as a sole-proprietorship. The state has been notified. I explained right from the start I was in a God focused business, not a money focused business. But the IRS apparently has its rules about requiring businesses make a profit, and trying to get any answers from them proved fruitless.  Even though the work load has actually grown now, it is a strange feeling, after forty years of being a business owner, to now officially be a full-time retired volunteer of the nonprofit.  My mailing lists do remain mine, and you should experience no significant difference from what has transpired. 




I signed up for and receive several daily meditations by email.  The following items are a few of them I found particularly interesting over these last few weeks while I was preparing my notes for this. 



Richard Rohr's Meditations (Richard Rohr is a Franciscan Monk)

Only converted people, who are in union with both the pain of the world and the love of God, are prepared to read the Bible with the right pair of eyes. 

Changing Your Glasses
Friday, February 27, 2015

People who are in early stage religion usually love the "two steps backward" quotes in the Bible. They seem to be drawn toward anything that's punitive, shame-based, exclusionary of "wrong" people, or anything that justifies the status quo which just happens to be keeping them on top socially, economically, and religiously. They start by thinking that's what religion is about--maintaining order and social control. God is sort of a glorified Miss Manners. They emphasize the Almighty, All-Powerful nature of God, who is made into the Great Policeman in the sky to keep us all under control (or at least everybody else under control!). Now you see how revolutionary God's "new idea" is that was revealed in Jesus. Suddenly we have a God that is anything but a policeman, a God who finds grace in those who break the law, and finds life and freedom among the lepers and the sinners who do not have good manners. This is now an upside down universe, and I am sad to say most Christians have yet to participate in this Divine Revolution. 

Mature religious people, that is, those who develop an actual inner life of prayer and outer life of service, tend to notice and imitate the "three steps forward" quotes in the Bible. First they change their life stance--and then they can be entrusted with the Bible. For all others who will not change their life position, the Bible is mere information and ammunition. It would be better if they did not read it! Only converted people, who are in union with both the pain of the world and the love of God, are prepared to read the Bible--with the right pair of eyes and the appropriate bias--which is from the side of powerlessness and suffering instead of the side of power and control. This is foundational and essential conversion, and it is the biblical characters themselves that first reveal this pattern, which then becomes obvious as you look around the world that we live in. The Greek word ineffectively translated as "repentance" in the Bible quite literally means "to change your mind" (metanoia), which is what this season of Lent is supposed to be about. It is not about giving up candy! You can give up all the candy you want and still be trapped in the old mind. You can give up no candy at all, but still allow yourself a total "revolution of the mind" (Ephesians 4:23). That is what Lent is about. 

Seeing Our Shadow
Friday, March 6, 2015 

Jesus and the other Jewish prophets were the "seers" who always saw what needed reforming. They helped Israel to see what it could not see before: both its corporate and individual shadows. The shadow is that part of the self that we don't want to see, that we're always afraid of and don't want others to see either. Our tendency is to hide or deny it, even and most especially from ourselves. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, describes it as "hearing but not understanding, seeing, but not perceiving" (Matthew 13:14-15). Addicts today call it "denial." 

One point here is crucial: The shadow self is not of itself evil; it just allows you to do evil without calling it evil. That is why Jesus criticizes hypocrisy more than anything else (eleven times in Matthew's Gospel). Something that is shocking to many religious people is that Jesus is never upset with sinners; he's only upset with people who think they are not sinners! 

Archaic religion and most of the history of religion has seen the shadow as the problem. Isn't that what religion is about: getting rid of all our faults? This is the classic pattern of dealing with the symptom instead of the cause. We cannot really get rid of the shadow; we can only expose its game--which eventually undermine its results and effects. As it states in Ephesians, "Anything exposed to the light turns into light itself" (5:14). Low level religion almost always attacks the shadow instead of the ego, the symptom instead of the cause. And the narcissistic structure of the self remains totally in control and unexposed. This is the clever, demonic game of smoke and mirrors so we do not have to surrender our actual false selves. 

Jesus and the prophets deal with the cause itself, which is the separated, autonomous ego self; and this can take negative or positive forms, which are equally delusional: self-hatred or self-inflation. Frankly, the separated self ping-pongs between these two hiding places, and neither of them can handle the wonderful truth of Divine Identity. Our problem is not our shadow self nearly as much as our over-defended ego, which always projects its own faults onto other people and hates them there, and thus avoids its own conversion. Jesus' phrase for the denied shadow is "the plank in your own eye," which you invariably see as "the splinter in your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:4-5). Jesus' advice is perfect: "Take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother's eye." If we do not see our own "plank," it is rather certain that we will hate and attack the exact same thing in others, even if there is faint evidence for it, like a tiny "splinter." Greedy people spot other greedy people in a heartbeat. Ambitious people accuse other people of gross careerism. You do know, don't you, that the people you are most threatened by are invariably just like you? Jesus showed us how to get out of this dead end prison, by acknowledging, "My main problem is always me! Something does need to change, and darn it, it's me!" 

The Paschal Mystery
Friday, March 13, 2015

Jesus is very patient with his disciples, which is good news for all of us. We also have a hard time understanding the "paschal mystery," which is indeed a deep mystery--that the way up is the way down. The way Jesus leads and teaches is not the way we usually want to go. Let's be completely honest about that. Hardly anyone goes willingly. It is often done unto us. 

Right after Jesus told the disciples a second time that "The son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of people who will put him to death. But three days after he is killed, he will rise" (Mark 9:31), the disciples start "arguing about which of them was the most important." (You might laugh or cry at how the disciples miss the point.) So Jesus sat down, called the twelve around him, and explained, "Anyone who wants to be the most important has to be the least important--the servant of all the others" (Mark 9:34-35). Just like the Twelve, we usually want to be on top, but Jesus calls us to be free and happy at the bottom. We all want to be the boss, but he tells us to be servants. 

A third time, as Jesus and the disciples were heading for Jerusalem, Jesus again explained how he will suffer, die, and rise (Mark 10:33-34). Yet how did the disciples respond? James and John asked if they could sit in glory at his side when he established the messianic kingdom (Mark 10:35-37). You can almost hear the sigh and sadness in the depths of Jesus' heart when he heard their request. He turned to them and said: "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I will drink, or be immersed in the same bath that I will be immersed in?" (Mark 10:38). Jesus was trying to bring them back to reality, the inevitable reality of any human life. 

The other disciples became indignant when they heard what James and John were asking. Once again Jesus had to explain to them: "You know how the so-called rulers of nations like to lord it over the people? And how those at the top like to make their authority felt? Well, with you it has to be different. If you want to be important, serve others. The son of man himself did not come to be served but to serve, to give his life so that everyone might be set free" (Mark 10:42-45). Jesus offered the world a new pattern of power and leadership, which few in church or state have ever really agreed with. 

If only the Church had shared Jesus' bias toward the bottom the past two thousand years! If only we had seriously believed him, how much sooner we would have seen the coming of peace and justice on this earth. If only we had truly listened to the Gospel, how differently Western history would have unfolded. Instead, we have made easy and happy friends with power, prestige, perks, and possessions--even in the name of God and the Church. 



Joseph Prince Meditation

The Antidote to Fear
March 04, 2015

Experts tell us that babies have two natural fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. A study on fear was conducted on 500 adults of varying ages, backgrounds and lifestyles. The results showed that they shared some 7,000 different fears. This means that they must have learnt 6,998 fears since they were born. That is a lot of fears! 

Actually, our bodies are designed for faith. Fear was foreign to man until Adam sinned against God. For the first time, Adam knew fear, and he hid from God and said, “I heard Your voice . . . I was afraid . . . I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10) 

Since then, man has been living in the realm of fear — fear of the future, fear of what others might say, fear of diseases, fear of flying . . .  Actually, every fear is born out of the feeling of being cut off from God. If you think that God is still mad at you, that He is out to punish you, how can you have faith that everything will be all right? How can you have faith for your miracle? 

But I have good news for you. There is a sure antidote to fear. The apostle John says that “perfect love casts out fear”. When you know that God so loves you that He gave His Son to take your beating so that you can take His blessings, you will stop fearing. 

God so loves you that at the cross, Jesus was rejected so that you could become God’s beloved. It was not the nails that kept Jesus on the cross. It was His love for you. And if God did not withhold Jesus, why do you think that He will withhold healing, finances or a blessed marriage from you? (Romans 8:32) 

Today, when you hear His voice, you will hear Him say, “You are My beloved child, in you I am well pleased.” And you don’t have to hide but you can run to Him without fear because He is not out to punish you. He is out to protect and provide for you, so fear not!  



An email sent to me from John B.
Saturday, February 28, 2015 11:27 AM

Train Ride of Life

At birth we board a train and meet our parents.  We believe they will always travel by our side.  However, at some station, our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.  As time goes by, other people will board the train, and they will be significant - siblings, friends, the love of your life, children, and many others.  Some will step down and leave a permanent vacuum.  Others will go so unnoticed that we will not realize they vacated their seats.  The train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, good-byes, and farewells.  A successful ride requires having a good relationship with all passengers.  We must give the best of ourselves.  The mystery to everyone is, we do not know at which station we ourselves will step down.  So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are.  It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty, we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.  I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life.  Reap success and give lots of love.  More importantly, thank God for the journey.  Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train. 


Be well.  Enjoy.  God's peace, 



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