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. 

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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 you. 

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 . . . 

http://www.wsharing.com/WS-NLE-200704-TIP.htm#ID2020

God's peace,

william

 

 

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
www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaxGNQE5ZLA

 

 

"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

For more 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 all. 

 

"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 person indeed."

— 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 article

 

"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 by it. 

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 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 worknor meant to be a scholarly work with footnotesjust 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 foolish. 

— 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 them.  

 

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 for you,
 leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."
1 Peter 2:21 NIV

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 bit 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 offering. 

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 will change as things are added, and will be replaced by FINALLY DONE, or something similar when completed. 

   What's ahead? Here is a look at some things already set aside . . .

 

 

Additional Articles
Donna's Pastor
Philip Yancey
Richard Rohr
More Quotes
Peace Pilgrim
Dalai Lama
Al-Anon
More Graphics
A Little Humor

How I apply the "what would Jesus have me do" question in controversial areas like:

Abortion (one RTL article already on site)
Homosexuality
Covid19
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 say it.
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 head. 

_______
 

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 ourselves."

 — Will Durant


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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

 

 

 

God's peace,

 

 

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