From: William Gibbons Jr
Sent: Friday, July 3, 2020 12:10 PM
To: 'william's email list 2018'
Subject: Thanksgiving 2019 to Independence Day 2020
"Christianity is a lifestyle
— a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared,
and loving. However, we made it into an established 'religion'
(and all that goes with that) and avoided actually changing lives.
One could be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain in most
of Christian history and still believe that Jesus is 'personal
Lord and Savior.' The world has no time for such silliness anymore.
The suffering on Earth is too great."
— Richard Rohr
" . . . . if I believe something, I live it.
Otherwise it would be perfectly meaningless."
— Peace Pilgrim
"We have been the recipients
of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these
many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers,
well, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have
forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved
us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and
we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that
all these things were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue
of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become
too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving
grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
— Abraham Lincoln
Greetings to each of you,
Happy Independence Day to every one of you. May you
choose to exercise your freedom wisely. A reminder to those who have
chosen to join the journey with us at the Teaching & Sharing Centers.
July 4th is the annual renewal date for all memberships (except lifetime,
of course). If you have not already done so, please renew as soon as
possible. Consecutive years of membership carry with them additional
benefits. Independence Day was chosen right from the start because it
is a symbol of freedom. Jesus said the truth will set you free. Everything
we do at, or through, the Teaching & Sharing Centers is focused
on "seeking truth." Be well. Enjoy.
Freedom follows truth on a list
of priorities I created on a desktop background about a decade ago.
We have clearly seen recently how it feels when the government limits
our freedoms, even if it is for a good reason. And, we have also been
given a taste of how freedom could work against us in a pandemic, quickly
spreading illness, and costing lives. Freedom has always been a delicate
thing to balance. Unbridled freedom will open the gate to anarchy. Socialism
and totalitarianism stand ready to accept the surrender of freedom at
the altar of fear if we are not diligent.
God grants freedom right from the start, but it is no small task to
retain it. That our forefathers gave us a great foundation of freedom
to build upon is definitely something to give thanks for on this Independence
Day, and every day. May God guide us to keep it.
This newsletter was originally meant to be done by
Thanksgiving (last year), which is right up there with Independence
Day (July 4th), and Saint Patrick's Day, as one of my top three favorite
holidays. When I gather up a bunch of my notes, those are often the
days I will set as a deadline to put them together as a newsletter.
But alas, it did not happen like I originally intended. Giving thanks
should be a daily practice however, not just once a year, so I am keeping
the opening graphic I chose, regardless of when this actually gets to
When I did not get it done in 2019, my next realistic
goal was Independence Day 2020, although Saint Patrick's Day 2020 was
given consideration. So, in spite of altering the email subject several
times from "Thanksgiving & A Whole Lot More" to "Thanks Giving & A Whole
Lot More," then just the basic "Happy Independence Day," I am
dubbing this my Thanksgiving 2019 to Independence Day 2020 (TIP for
short) newsletter. The "P" in TIP is to include St. Patrick's Day even
though I did send an email this year when Covid19 started ramping up
its impact on our lives about then. Putting this together has been a
long process, and it is my desire for it to be my last newsletter. I
will talk a little more about the confession I made about not liking
writing (April 10th in my Good Friday communication) after you click
on the link below.
I have been telling people for some months now that
one of our T&SC branches has the most important mission statement in
our entire country, maybe even the world. I will explain later in this
newsletter why I believe that to be true.
In light of the above claim, I woke up one morning,
and in my quiet time I envisioned us (the T&SC) offering churches a
small group program. The In His Steps groups were mentioned to
you in an email I sent to the T&SC Board May 11th. You received a carbon
copy (Cc) of that email showing a brief outline of the program. That
too will be expanded upon in the main body of this newsletter.
And, as the original subject line implied, there is
a whole lot more.
As is now my practice, in order to avoid lengthy
emails in your inbox, and to save me the time necessary to do two separate
layouts, first as an email, then as a webpage, I am doing the content
primarily as a webpage. This email is your introduction to the newsletter
online. If you want to continue, all you have to do is click . . .
I usually do not like putting
live external links into my site pages except for on the specific links
pages themselves. However, this newsletter is a "color outside the lines"
kind of communication. So, since this should be getting to you for Independence
Day, I am including the below link about our national anthem.
Star Spangled Banner As You've Never Heard It
"I know that the Lord is always
on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that
I and this nation should be on the Lord's side."
— Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln quotes click here.
My life is simple. I want whatever
God wants. Yet, as I have said many times, simple and easy are not the
same. Discerning what God wants is indeed not always easy. But, I did
not create myself. Plus, I am completely incapable of creating a universe.
In fact, to my mind, it is not logical that anything exists. Here we
are however. Not only do we exist, we are aware that we exist. Even
past that, we can ponder the why and how of our existence. We can live,
and love. Which is far beyond just existing. We tend to take all this
for granted. As if it were no big deal. Some even think it can easily
be explained in purely scientific terms. Nothing could be farther from
the truth. In general, science is a good thing. I believe it is a gift
from God. But, solely scientific thinking often leads to a false bravado
of believing we are somehow in control. In reality, we have virtually
no control over anything that is truly important in life, except how
we choose to relate to God, and to one another. The arrogance of playing
God, or even imagining we could step in and take over, has always led
to dire consequences. We are getting very good at that in our culture.
One need not look very far to see there is no shortage of events proving
out the concept. Additionally, a walk through history is littered with
the ruins or remnants of cultures, and even empires, who got too full
of themselves. We should take heed of the lessons they pass down through
the ages before we too become a footnote in some future history book
as yet another people who deluded themselves into believing they had
the ultimate control, and were not humbled by the fact they exist at
"There are those who know and do not do. This is
very sad. In this materialistic age we have such a false criterion by
which to measure success. We measure it in terms of dollars, in terms
of material things. But happiness and inner peace do not lie in that
direction. If you know but do not do, you are a very unhappy
— Peace Pilgrim
I am trying something a little
different this time. I originally had an article "Don’t Let Your Misses
Define You," by Jason Cruise placed just after the "Blessed is the nation
. . . " graphic. But then, I decided to do an addendum page. It is a
place for someone's full text, or additional graphics, or quotes, rather
than trying to squeeze everything into this document. Jason's article
grabbed my attention because what people would think of me has had far
too much influence on my life choices than I would care to admit. Starting
with hunting as an analogy, Jason moves on to citing Peter as "living
proof that God’s grace can take a coward and turn him into a world changer."
We grow, change our minds, see things in a new light, or discover things
were not as we previously saw them, all throughout our lives. Yet, even
Peace Pilgrim had trouble letting go of the stuff she deemed as her
failures. The key is not letting them hold you back, especially when
it relates to what other people might think, when a new perspective
gains the status of truth for you. Emotionally, I have always had trouble
dealing with criticism, perceived failures, and moments I experienced
as humiliating. For me, they do not just go away. Still, I have learned
not to give in to them, and to keep on moving forward in spite of whatever
might be haunting me. If you would like to read Jason's take (five short
paragraphs) on it all, just click here on
"You begin to do your part in
the Life Pattern by doing all of the good things you feel motivated
toward, even though they are just little good things at first. You give
these priority in your life over all the superficial things that customarily
clutter human lives."
— Peace Pilgrim
I have been rather unsuccessfully trying to detach
from many of the electronic tentacles which entangle our lives. Unfortunately,
writing puts me in front of a computer screen for longer periods than
I wish, so it has been on the chopping block wish list for a while.
I toyed with the idea of just stopping cold turkey with emails, and
newsletters. Some of you may remember in 2017 I dabbled with the possibility.
But, since using a flip phone makes text messaging a nightmare, plus
I have thus far managed to stay away from Facebook, Twitter, and the
like, some level of emailing seems to be the likely option of keeping
me from becoming a hermit in the midst of an electronic soup which often
feels like chaos, with everybody talking at the same time. I was told
the other day that nobody reads long sections of text anymore (like
this), they just flitter from one graphic to another until something
grabs their attention for a brief moment. I will speak a little bit
more about this in the william's works section. For now, this
newsletter comes to you courtesy of the last person who requested being
added to my mailing list indicating she liked my writing, and a dear
friend who hinted in an email that I might want to consider writing
more than I do. I have his permission to share the email
here, if you care to see
it, along with my reply.
Do not get me wrong. I like having the Internet available. Especially,
to get input on questions I would be hard pressed to even know where
to ask them without the Internet. I just do not wish my life to be consumed
If you would like to see what tech giants
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates
had to say about all this electronic technology and their kids, click
on their names.
|Most of the graphics
shared in the newsletter before the william's works header, are
not my work. I am sure you could tell that, but by my guidelines I needed
to acknowledge it.
This (image at left) is the first of some quote graphics I received
in an email from our card group under the subject title "truth." I have
not checked to verify the accuracy of the quotes, or when the image
seems to indicate the source. Some were amusing, others just cute, and
a few I found thought provoking. Somewhere along the line I decided
I would use them to break up the large amount of text set aside for
this newsletter. They, as stated above, are not my personal work
– nor meant to be a scholarly work with footnotes
– just sharing what was sent to me.
If we saw people making things but denied the intelligent
work of the people and studied only the things, others would think us
— Tomorrow's World (March-April
2020, page 20)
I have never met a true atheist.
Most of the people I know who claim there is no God are too intelligent
to authentically be atheists. To validly hold in your heart, and brain,
that there is no Creator, you would need to accept on blind faith that
everything came from nothing, which would be considered scientifically
impossible. Since science is what most avowed atheists I know use as
their foundation, they would need to reject science also. Where would
that leave them? Well, I have found most of the people claiming to be
atheists have generally fallen into two categories. One is those who
are angry with God, or with a person, or group, who professes belief
in God. Declaring God does not exist, out of anger, might make someone
feel better, but it does not answer why we exist. Not at all. The other
category is the people who automatically equate God with religion, and
think admitting a belief in God would mandate them giving up a particular
lifestyle, everything they think is right, or especially fun. All you
have to do is look at God's creation to know that He (and I only use
the male pronoun out of Biblical tradition) is a God of diversity, not
monotony. The Creator of all that is seen, and unseen, cannot be placed
into anyone's nice little religious box.
Our God has gifted us with both the ability to remember,
and to look ahead. It is amazing when you consider the only moment we
truly have to live in is what we call "now." Can you imagine what life
would be like if you woke up every day not knowing something as basic
as what a fork is, or especially who those other people around you are?
Let alone such complex subjects as freedom. Those abilities are essential,
yet we mostly just take it all for granted, without giving thanks for
Of course, they also come with
their down sides. Our hurts, angers, prejudices, plus a whole host of
other emotions, traits, and difficulties can become lifelong companions.
That is what attracted me to Jesus. He embodied forgiveness, acceptance,
grace, and so much more, contrary to any typical human, and even beyond
great spiritual leaders like Lao Tzu, or Peace Pilgrim in our time.
"Seven Deadly Social Sins, according
to Mahatma Gandhi: Politics without principle - Wealth without work
- Commerce without morality - Pleasure without conscience - Education
without character - Science without humanity - Worship without sacrifice.
His grandson Arun Gandhi added an eighth: Rights without responsibility."
Whenever Gandhi was asked what he thought about Christianity,
he responded with some variation of "I like your Christ, but am not
much impressed by your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."
He was apparently drawn to Christianity as a young man, but was rejected
because of the color of his skin at a church he visited.
|"It is common, as William Sloan
Coffin notes, that we are prone to use the Bible as a drunk uses a lamppost
— for support rather than illumination."
This brings me to why I have
been saying our christian life programs branch has the most important
mission statement in our entire country, maybe even the world. "To
help Christians live what they say they believe." That is it. The
whole mission is in that one sentence. Not to tell them what to believe.
Not to challenge what they believe. Simply to help them live what they
profess to believe as Christians. Especially as it pertains to Jesus.
Even within each Christian's own parameters, if they were living their
words, what a difference it would make.
For example. Almost every church
service I have been in at some point recites the Lord's Prayer. If you
pay attention to the words, which include "forgive us our trespasses,
AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us," WE are asking God to judge
us the way we judge others, treat us the way we treat others, especially
when it comes to forgiveness. I took those words very seriously
when I began my journey, and still do. I have often said my absolute
commitment to forgiving others is a self-centered decision. I wish to
be judged by God from a perspective of forgiveness, so I had better
be extending that forgiveness to others.
And that brings me to the new
In His Steps groups program, where the goal is to get into the
habit of asking "what would Jesus have me do?" Not just once in a while,
or on Sunday, but every day, in every circumstance, with every decision.
A woman at work made a mistake. A big mistake.
A costly mistake. Then, her boss went to his boss and basically took
the blame for her mistake. He said he didn’t train her right,
he didn’t follow up as he should have, etc. He put his
job on the line. He lost credibility, he lost social capital so
to speak. The woman afterwards, pressed him to tell her why he would
do that. She said, “I’ve had people blame me before, even when
it wasn’t my fault, but I’ve never had someone take the blame
for me.” After pressing him some more, he responded, “OK, I’m
only going to say this once. I’m a Christian. My whole life
is based on a man who took the blame for me.” The woman immediately
responded, “Where do you go to church?”
That story was part of a column in the July newsletter
from Donna's church. To see the whole article by
Jeanie BD, just click
on her name. I found it interesting that it arrived at our house the
week before I intended to announce the IHS program. It tells me that
ours is not an isolated thing that God is doing. Speaking of which .
On Saturday June 27, the T&SC Board of Trustees decided
I should continue the development of the program as a part of my missionary
endeavors under the william's works branch for now,
rather than moving the program into the christian life programs
branch. This will give time for reorganizing
efforts after the influx of new board members, resulting from some key
long time trustees reaching their term limits in the last two years.
As has been the case since the beginning of this 26 year journey,
william's works stocks a paperback size of the Peace Pilgrim
and In His Steps books, along with Bibles, offered free
to anyone who seriously wishes to journey beyond the shallow waters
of materialism, and political games, in this life. Here, when I use
the term political games, it refers to the private sector, and religious
institutions, as well as the obvious public arena. A basic supply of
support materials for the IHS groups have already been obtained.
Plus, a time availability form, which doubles as a sign up and
explanation sheet, has been designed and printed.
I am not going to try to "sell"
anyone on this program. God is going to need to call people to it through
the Holy Spirit. I can make it known, and provide the structure. But,
this is something a person needs to be ready for in their spiritual
growth journey. Although, the structure does allow various levels to
begin at, and growing through the program. Your level of proficiency
with Scripture, and your level of commitment to Jesus, would guide you
which level is best for you. If you do not think Jesus is relevant,
that is your choice. But, just about everything I have read, or heard,
about the Christian Church in America, whether it was a secular or religious
source, has said the culture influences the church more than the church
has influenced the culture. It seems to me we are due for a change.
IHS groups could help make that happen.
I would like to emphasize that I, the Teaching &
Sharing Centers, and this program are available as a servant, not as
a promoter. I am happy to speak with anyone who has interest. Or, even
to a group of people who have questions about the 26 years of my journey
after having read the In His Steps book written by Charles Sheldon in
the late 1800s. It is up to you, who are nudged by the Holy Spirit,
to make others aware of the existence of this program available to serve
them at no cost.
"To this you were called, because Christ suffered
leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."
— 1 Peter 2:21 NIV
I do not see abortion as
just one issue among many. I see it as the issue. Everything
else relates to how we treat life from the start. Much like certain
animals are regarded as keystones to a healthy eco system, I see the
right to life as a keystone to a healthy culture. Lack of
respect for life at its beginning, will ultimately translate into
abuse and disrespect in many varied forms. But being pro-life does
not mean I am simply against abortion. It influences my attitude
toward the death penalty, end of life issues, and war. I believe it
pertains to how we treat people who are in a crisis pregnancy.
Including how we help them provide for their baby with a healthy
support system, or guide them through adoption if it is their
judgmental accomplishes nothing. Showing acceptance, love, and being
supportive offers hope for everyone involved. That is followed by
how we treat, and develop safety nets for, children in general. Especially those in
circumstances with little means. Yet, it all starts with that first
choice. Much like IHS groups, because of
its importance, I am creating a separate set of pages regarding
choosing life. Click below to access them.
"No wonder the subject of judging is fraught with challenges.
On the one hand
are the judgmental folks, quick to condemn and short on mercy;
the other hand are the 'live and let live folks,'
who act as if nothing much matters
— Erwin W Lutzig
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through me."
— John 14:6
I would be more than happy to have all paths lead to the
ultimate Truth. But, that is not what the Bible says Jesus said. If you want to
take the chance He was lying, did not actually say that, or that what He said
was not written down accurately, you are free to do so. But, Jesus' perspectives
were different enough from all the typical human ways of seeing things to
convince me He was who He said He was — the Son of God. I am not willing to take
the chance He did not say exactly that. In my experience, people respond
negatively not so much to Jesus, but more to historical Christianity, or
specific contemporary Christians that they deem judgmental, and hypocritical.
Jesus was not overly fond of those types of people either in His incarnated days
on earth. It is true, Christianity has no shortage of appalling times throughout
its history. Still, we have hospitals, orphanages, food and clothing banks, plus
all sorts of help organizations mostly because of Christians, and Christianity.
Some, like the Salvation Army, the YMCA, and more recently Habitat for Humanity,
have become such household names many people do not even realize they are
Christian organizations. Others, while they might not identify themselves as
Christian, were either started by Christians, or heavily influenced by
Christianity. I have to remind myself of that frequently, when I see how unlike
Jesus we "Christians" respond to some circumstances.
space reserved for future use
I was hoping this newsletter
would be like the finale of a display of fireworks. A whole lot of
everything all at once, but then it is done. Well, I did not make my
deadline. As it turns out, the work on this last newsletter is going
to last a lot longer than than I had hoped. I keep running across
items I had set aside, both digitally, and in old fashioned regular
file drawer folders. I decided to get what I had done to you because
of the significance of Independence Day in our lives, and the
importance of getting the ball rolling on the In His Steps groups
I am most likely going to leave this
text, graphic, and list, in place permanently to
acknowledge the progression which took place in the development of the
newsletter. The list might change as things are added, and may be replaced
by FINALLY DONE, or something similar when completed.
What's ahead? Here
is a look at some things already set aside . . .
A Little Humor
How I apply the "what would Jesus have me do" question
in controversial areas like:
Abortion (already on site)
Black Lives Matter
And more of my personal works
below the william's works header
Last year, a friend visited the Center for the first time. After giving
him a tour, he said it was still not clear to him what our goal was.
I explained that my personal goal for the past twenty-six years has
been to do whatever God asked me to do. But, I am now just one voice
in a servant organization God is building. Later, I felt led to send
him a note which read . . .
"If your big picture goal were to change an entire
culture from a 'compete and compare' model of living to a 'teaching
and sharing' practical application based philosophy of life, what would
you establish as your immediate tangible goals?"
If that question intrigues you, elicits a good challenge
response within you, simply brings some things to mind, or just sounds
like something that needs to be done, I would suggest it might be time
for you to get involved here with the process God has already begun.
This is the third Independence Day newsletter the
below image and poem has graced. I was not going to keep it in this
one, but the poem, complimented by the photo, is so iconic to what I
believe, and have written here, I am leaving it in.
"If you have something worthwhile to say, you can
Otherwise, why in the world would you want to be speaking?"
— Peace Pilgrim
The above quote needs to be read in context. It is
from a time when Peace Pilgrim was first being asked to speak publicly
to groups. Many people do not realize they have something worthwhile
to say. When I was participating in the Al-Anon program in the late
1980s, I remarked how a less than gifted speaker would often give me
something more beneficial by telling the simple truth from a heart of
pain, than any eloquent orator offering up knowledge found only in their
I saw for the first time the other day what my website
looks like on a smart phone. Some new friends were trying to encourage
me to enter the 21st century, by expanding my electronic horizons. When
you take something designed on a twelve inch wide screen, then view
it on a four inch screen, it was depressing to see the result. I am
well aware I often use a lot of words to explain something very basic,
but when that tiny screen scrunches everything together it really looks
like nothing but a constant stream of text. They were explaining it
did not have enough attention grabbing content to keep the electronic
generations on the site. In the "olden days" the marketing people might
have termed it as not being sexy enough. If I need to start trying to
please a crowd that cannot pause long enough to read an entire paragraph,
my website becomes too much work for too little pleasure. And, of course,
why write if people cannot be bothered to read anything not written
in the newest version of shorthand (messages on a phone where you guess
what word a letter stands for in text abbreviations), with adequate
emoticons for added visual stimulus. It is not my place to judge those
addicted to social media, or who seem to have a cell phone permanently
pasted to their head. But, neither do I need to cater to them. I do
not see any of this making people happier, more at peace, or satisfied.
To be honest, I would rather go release some stress chopping wood than
enter the game with the fast and furious. I have always liked things
that last, rather than rushing to get the newest whatever. Even as a
person who is easily distracted, and likes to move between tasks to
cut the tedium. But, each person gets to choose for themselves. The
image that came to mind as I wrote those words was the old knight in
the Indiana Jones Last Crusade movie admonishing to choose wisely.
God grants each of us the right to choose. But choices always have consequences;
some very good; some really disastrous. May we indeed choose wisely.
A friend asked me the other day why I was pointing
out more my continuing independent status as a domestic missionary working
under the william's works branch? The answer is I have felt like,
for some time now, that I have been living more of a Martha life than
a Mary life (If you do not know the details of the Scripture passage
click here to see it. More
commentary will be added later).
Also the third Independence
Day newsletter the below image and poem has graced, I was not going
to keep this one either. But, with everything that has been going on
in our country lately, and the great amount of content I have written
in this newsletter, I am leaving them as a reminder that I do not see
myself as a person of answers. God has the answers. I am still trying
to find my way.
As you can see, I wrote the
poem Full Circle in 1989. Its admonitions tend to show up quickly these
days. When things start going wrong, in words directed at God, I might
think or say, I take it I have been being judgmental, unforgiving, or
started down some other negative path. I want to know, and be able to
correct these. I believe everything is connected. So, our physical ailments,
our mental or emotional issues, and our spiritual growth, or lack thereof,
are all intertwined in where we find ourselves at any given moment,
and especially in whatever challenges we might be facing. If all we
do is go through life treating symptoms, little will improve.
I am thankful for the gift of free will, and the
ability to change my choices. I give thanks for how wonderfully our
bodies are made. We are not entitled to good health. Our bodies are
amazingly durable with healing capabilities, and yet quite vulnerable
on a number of levels. In spite of chronic tinnitus, coronary artery
disease, and the standard fare of perpetual aches and pains, you will
not hear me speak about my health much. Focusing on the negative only
perpetuates it. So I have the toward better health pages on my
website, natural products promoting good health in the Trade Center,
and a section of health and herbal books in the Center's Reference Libraries.
I must participate if I wish to keep, or improve, the good health I
have remaining. I cannot be a bystander in my own life. My choices and
efforts make a great deal of difference in the possibility of good health.
And, it is not just physical choices like eating, exercise, and sleep.
Mental and spiritual choices have immense impact.
I have been primarily an introvert all of my life.
You were not likely to see me on the dance floor at a high school dance.
I would have been off to the side. I have always felt uncomfortable
in social gatherings. If the game was on the line, I would just as soon
not be the one who was in the position to be the deciding factor. I
have joked later in life that of all the things I have lost, I miss
confidence the most. But rather than confidence, I have had the sheer
tenacity to keep trying throughout life if I thought something
was potentially important, or sometimes just desirable. Whatever activities
others might see these days as being extrovert is not self-confidence.
It is God confidence. Given with a dose of plain old-fashioned perseverance.
"To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising
— Will Durant
I did actually revamp my opening
home page with a link for an alternative home page with less text. Because,
I did not at all like the way the site looked on a cell phone screen. Images
and links are all in the middle of the page.
Less Text Home Page Option