Friday, December 7, 2018

Donations for Senior Citizens


The Wall Street Journal reports that Seniors and the charities they support can greatly benefit from the tax laws. 
Millions of Americans will no longer get tax deductions for their charitable donations this year. But givers age 70½ or older often have a great way to get around this change.
It involves making donations directly from a traditional individual retirement account to one or more charities by using a smart move with a clunky name—qualified charitable distribution, or QCD.
“This transfer is usually the best way for IRA owners older than 70½ to do their giving,” says IRA specialist Ed Slott.
A growing number of IRA owners can use this maneuver. Roughly 3.2 million U.S. residents turned 70 in 2018, about 50% more than in 2010, according to estimates based on U.S. Census Bureau data.
The new focus on QCDs arises from the tax overhaul. It nearly doubled the standard deduction taxpayers get if they don’t itemize their write-offs for state taxes, mortgage interest, donations and the like on Schedule A.
This deduction is now $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for most married couples—high enough so that nearly 29 million more filers will take it than in 2017. Those who do will no longer get write-offs they used to, including for donations.
Yet IRA owners who are 70½ and older have the best of both worlds: They can get a tax break for donations and take the higher standard deduction. In fact, the standard deduction rises to $13,600 for singles and $26,600 for couples age 65 and older.

We at Sweeten Life Systems would appreciate your support.
www.sweetenlife.com

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Bullies Be Gone!





This is the best way to stop assaults, harassments, bullying, etc. Teach women and kids to protect themselves. If people learn to stand up straight and refuse to take any aggression from a bully or a sexual predator, they are much less likely to be victimized. 

We cannot stop all bullying or sexual predators. Bad people will always be around us. I was a small, scrawny kid  that older and bigger kids tended to pick on. However, I learned quickly to defend myself and my older brother. As a result I had a reputation for being a tough kid that would fight back and that made bullies back off. 

I like the Movie "The Christmas Story" where Ralphie and his little brother were picked on by an evil kid. But Ralphie turned the tables by getting mad and pummeling the bully in the snow! 

As a rule it is good to "Turn the other cheek" as Jesus commanded. However, when we run out of cheeks and face a rapist or a killer we cannot resolve the matter peacefully. By being tough and taking a stand we can be safe. 


Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Testimony to One of God's Chosen



On the occasion of the birthday of my friend Larry Chrouch I decided to write a brief testimony. Many wonderful thing could have been said about Larry but I am limited in time and space. Larry passed away in January and I wanted to mention his impact again.  

Larry and Ellen Chrouch have been my partners in ministry for decades. He was a successful businessman when the Lord grabbed his attention and they ended up in our Discipleship Ministry at College Hill Presbyterian Church in the 1970's. Since then, Larry, Ellen and I have been involved in designing and carrying out ministries all over the earth. 

Here was my brief statement in 2000. 

There are only two or three people I quote more than Larry and they are all characters in the Bible. I never teach a seminar or train a person that one of Larry's wise and unforgettable sayings comes to mind. Not only do we all regale at his sayings and sermons, we also fondly remember the many things Larry, and Ellen, have done to take the good news in theory and practice around the world.

One of the most profound events happened in January, 1986 in Oslo, Norway. We were simply visiting with the Norwegian leaders one evening before we were scheduled to speak the next day. We all know that Larry cannot just visit without telling those wild, wooly, and true, God stories. He and Ellen had dinner with Kjell-Petter Dahl, the chairman of the OASE movement, and ministered to his wife and him in sharing, prayer and listening. The couple was truly impressed and blessed.

Kjell-Petter asked Larry and Ellen to share some of their experiences with the entire group at an open time after worship and to allow the Lord to show up as He wished. After they spoke for a few minutes, the floor was open for discussion. 

Kjell-Petter then announced, "The Americans will now answer all your questions!" Despite such an awesome challenge, Larry handled it beautifully even though he said he was "Only coming on the trip so he could, Carry my bags!"

The final question revealed a lot about the mindset of so many people when it comes to healing. It also says a lot about about Larry's ability to minister in tough situations.  The question went something like: 

"Here in Norway we will not pray for a person's healing until they have proven that they have great faith by fasting and prayer. Do you make sure the people you pray for have great faith?"

Silence fell on the group. I was happy that Larry was on the hot spot instead of me. He handled it beautifully. 

"No," Larry said, "It is not the people's great faith but our faith in a great God that matters."

At that, Kjell-Petter stood and said, "Anyone who needs prayer come to the altar and the Americans will pray for you."

The rest of the evening was filled praying for a hundred Scandinavian pastors and leaders. The gifts of the Holy Spirit flowed in a marvelous and miraculous manner. Larry's talk and warm interactions with the Norwegians set up all that occurred later. His quick wit and deep faith opened the door again and again for the Holy Spirit to move in love and power. 
We are blessed by the memories!


July 7, 2000 on the occasion of Larry's birthday. 

Follow us by clicking the link!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kids that Fail to Act




Carl Jung, along with Freud, Skinner, Rogers, etc founded the study of the soul from a secular and medical position. For thousands of years the psyche had been the arena of Hebrew and Christian Priests as well as Buddhist and Muslim Teachers. Then, the mental and emotional issues faced by all humans became the interest of Physicians. 

But Jung, like many, cam to the field as a person that has struggled mightily with his own deep struggles.  He is quoted by  Lisa Marchiano as writing in his book Memories, dreams, reflections

When Jung was a 12-year-old schoolboy, he was shoved to the ground by another child, hitting his head on the pavement, and nearly losing consciousness. Instantly, Jung grasped the opportunities created by this attack.
At the moment I felt the blow, the thought flashed through my mind: “Now you won’t have to go to school anymore.” I was only half unconscious, but I remained lying there a few moments longer than was strictly necessary, chiefly in order to avenge myself on my assailant….
From this point forward, Jung began having fainting spells whenever he returned to class or attempted homework. For six months, he did not attend school. His worried parents consulted doctors, and sent him away to convalesce. Jung described this period as “a picnic.” Beneath the giddiness, however, he sensed something was amiss.
I frittered away my time with loafing, collecting, reading, and playing. But I did not feel any happier for it; I had the obscure feeling that I was fleeing from myself.
Eventually, Jung forgot how his infirmity arose. His invalid status was taken for granted, and he didn’t question it or concern himself with a remedy, until he overheard a conversation that shook him into awareness.
Then one day a friend called on my father. They were sitting in the garden and I hid behind a shrub, for I was possessed of an insatiable curiosity. I heard the visitor saying to my father, “And how is your son?” “Ah, that’s a sad business,” my father replied. “The doctors no longer know what is wrong with him. They think it might be epilepsy. It would be dreadful if he were incurable. I have lost what little I had, and what will become of the boy if he cannot earn his own living?”
I was thunderstruck. This was the collision with reality.
“Why, then, I must get to work!” I thought suddenly.
At that moment, Jung became a “serious child.” He went straight to his father’s study and began working intensely on his Latin grammar.
After ten minutes of this I had the finest of fainting fits. I almost fell off the chair, but after a few minutes, I felt better and went on working. “Devil take it, I’m not going to faint,” I told myself, and persisted on purpose. This time it took about fifteen minutes before the second attack came. That, too, passed like the first. “And now you must really get to work!” I stuck it out, and after an hour came the third attack. Still I did not give up, and worked for another hour, until I had the feeling that I had overcome the attacks. Suddenly I felt better than I had in all the months before. And in fact the attacks did not recur. From that day on I worked over my grammar and other schoolbooks every day. A few weeks later I returned to school, and never suffered another attack, even there. The whole bag of tricks was over and done with! That was when I learned what a neurosis is.1
An awkward and aggressive boy who was not well-liked by classmates or teachers, Jung must have welcomed the opportunity to escape from school. At childhood’s twilight hour, faced with the looming demands of adolescence, Jung withdrew from the world. For a while, his fate hung in the balance, as he drifted towards the possibility of permanent, self-imposed marginalization and infirmity.
When I was a Counselor and as a Pastor I often saw this phenomenon manifested in some of the families that came to see me. The parents often wanted guidance about how to "Motivate their son or daughter to get engaged in life and stop acting like a victim." In one Asian nation there was an epidemic of kids unable to attend school because each morning they came down with extreme stomach cramps. The worried parents were faced with a dilemma. Their child seemed really sick yet missing school meant a life of poverty and failure. 
It seems that that same epidemic has hit America. More and more young people refuse to drive, get out of bed, stop endless hours on the internet and generally fail to launch into life. It is a major concern to see so many ordinary and otherwise healthy kids stop living. They are acting an awful like young Carl and refusing to move up the Maslow Hierarchy. 
What is going on?


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Mass Hysteria and American Politics



Are you acquainted with how mass movements, and mass hysteria get started? The research about mobs, riots, and other such events is deep but rarely shared with the public.

 One of the first research studies I read in Graduate School at Southern Illinois University was on that topic. Looking back I can see how providential it was to study mass movements because the Sixties saw a great increase in mobs and riots.

The name of the article was "When Prophesy Fails" and it tells about a research study on how groups act when their most cherished ideas fail. Because of past experiences, the researchers thought the group would react not by giving their ideas up but by pushing harder for their fomer position.

The group heard about a female prophetess in Chicago who was saying the end of the world was coming at 12:00 Midnight on September 26. The cult was gearing up to be transported to a new planet by Aliens in a UFO just before the end arrived.  

A small band of researchers infiltrated the group and took notes on the behavior of the members as the predicted time came and went without any UFO to take them away to Nirvana. After no UFO show there was confusion and a bit of panic at first. Then the Prophetess received another prophecy. She said that their pure hearts and obedience had been sufficient to save the planet and the end was postponed. The group not only refused to walk away from the original prophesy and the cult leader, they doubled down on it and became even more fanatical about her ideas. 

This seems to be similar to the Mind Merging that can occur in an addiction and mobs. I have worked with a lot of people engaged in harmful behavior, including addictions. At least 90% were smart enough to know drugs, smoking, overeating, etc were dangerous to them but that alone did not stop them from using. They keep holding on. 

I have also studied mob behavior on campus and saw personally how a crowd can become a mob that causes everyone's individual mind to meld into a glob of insanity about some idea with no rational thoughts. Mobs do things that 99% of the people would refuse to do if alone. 

Think about the last election. How does it remind you of mob thinking, especially after the certainty of the politicians', pundits', and medias' prophesies failed to occur. Did the "prophets" quietly admit they were wrong and say, "Well, next time we will do better?" Or, did they claim they were correct and deny that the election was won by their opponent? The UFO did not show up because it was hijacked! I am not blaming the people that lost for their incredulity. Anytime we have strong beliefs about religion, politics, and even sports we must explain the unexplainable somehow.  

The paper, "What Happens when Prophesy Fails" predicts denial that their prophesy failed, and a call to fight the fake winner. The psychology researchers suggest that our need to be right causes us to reject any ideas that contradict our beloved position. WE call it "Cognitive Dissonance" and means we tend to reject anything that contradicts our fervent beliefs. 

The Bible calls us to "Know reality and allow it to set us free" by listening to Jesus. John 8:32 Denial is an inability to actually see and respond to the truth; facts; reality. Whenever we have so strongly immersed ourselves in a political, theological, relational, or behavioral idea, it is very  difficult to actually hear the truth, let alone change ourselves. 






Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Crisis in Care for Chronically Ill People






When I visited an adult day care center yesterday the 20 older adults there were just finishing up a game that had most of them smiling. Maybe the smells of lunch played a part in their good mood but they generally seemed to be in great spirits.

For adults with a chronic disease/disability the need for day care and home care is rising. Many of the Caregivers are either too fragile or they work all day so finding a place to stay that is safe and caring is crucial. 

So, the needs are great but there are several barriers to offering care for all of us older folks.
1. The average retiree has only about $400.00 saved and that is not enough to pay for a week of care.
2. Medicare and Medicaid are available for the indigent and those over 65 but we are rapidly running out of funds and the numbers are rising. 
3. The number of people doing home care is shrinking. Care taking is a tough job and the places where they can get good training are few, the crisis is growing.
4.  The pay for caregivers is low. They make about the same as working at Wendy's. 

I do not have an answer to these issues but each person and family needs to start thinking about who will care for them. We are living a lot longer but outliving our ability to care for ourselves or pay for others. How do you plan to deal with these realities?

We are releasing a new web based software to guide caregivers through the process of dealing with the stress and details of having a loved one with a chronic disability or illness. Pray for us as we deal with the caretaking crisis.

If you want to learn more about thinking clearly, get the eBook Power Christian Thinking at Sweeten Life or on Kindle at Amazon.com
www.sweetenlife.com


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Recovery from Trauma




Adverse Events can mark us for life. This is especially true when a child loses a parent or loved one.
However, as Christians we have the ability to pray for healing of the wounds that occur deep in the hearts and minds of people traumatized by losses and offenses as children.

The brain can hold traumatic memories within that somehow cause pain forever unless unleashed by good Counseling and/or prayers. James Chapter 5 offers us insights into how our prayers can unleash us from the past. One of my favorite phrases is: "It is never too late to have a happy childhood".

The book of James builds on that assumption. For example, James counsels us to Count it all joy when we encounter various trials.

Why would that be a positive step in regaining a happy childhood? He gives the answer. Because we can choose to see growth through trials and our thankfulness allows us to seek God for a better future rather than focus compulsively on the past.

It is well known that obsessing pessimistically about past hurts and losses actually leads to anxiety and depression. However, by seeking a better way can strengthen our perseverance and builds us as Christians.

This is not suggesting that we deny past pain but that we refuse to dwell on it and dwell on ourselves as victims. Face the losses and grieve them but refuse to dwell on why it makes me a worthless victim.

Come back next time and read on about having a happy childhood.

Now, go to Sweeten Life and download one of our fantastic books that are liberating people all over the earth!