Thursday, September 30, 2010

Learning from Israel

Israel is in a tight spot. That tiny nation of a few million people is surrounded by folks who hate them as a people and as a country. In fact, many refuse to even recognize Israel as a legitimate country.

Israel has been attacked on several occasions by the Arab/Muslim nations. Each time, despite overwhelming odds against them, Israel has won decisively. How did they win, with God's interventions of course, but also with superior armaments and superior guile. Both seem necessary to survive in a hostile world.

I recently read an interesting story about the apparent guile of the Israeli's. It shows how they are combating Iran's infamous and irrational threats to destroy them with atom bombs. Most of us figure that Israel will bomb Iran back into the Stone Age before they can attack Jerusalem, and, they may. However, they seem to have other ways much less deadly that can be applied in this war. Read about it in The Statesman.

Tell me what you think about this. Cane we learn about modern warfare from it?

Lessons From Dying Patients

Here is a great article on what people who have an incurable disease say they wish they had done when they were well. Before you read the article, think about what these people are saying and relate it to you own life.

What do you think you would regret if you were in a hospital bed at home facing your own mortality? Would you say the following things to yourself?

1. I wish I had made more money.
2. I wish I had gotten more fame.
3. I wish I had been more aggressive at work and done more for my company/church.
4. I wish I had pushed my kids harder to accomplish more in life like better grades and more money.
5. I wish I had lived in a better neighborhood, a bigger house and a more expensive car.
6. I wish ____________________________

Now read the article and think about its implications for your life.


Gary Sweeten

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is Medicine the Answer to our Ills?

Sometimes medicine will help and many times it will hurt the patient. Until the recent research and development uncovered some new medicines most of us went through life depending on hard work, prayer and social support to get through tough times. Dr. Robert Schuyler has the motto: "The going gets tough, the tough get going".

That is a good motto but it doesn't always work. I grew up hearing another motto: "He needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps". It is also partially true r half truth, "Jesus is the answer to all problems".

Recently, we have a half truth on the other end of the spectrum. Medicine is the answer to all mental, emotional, behavioral and relational problems.Over 20% of the kids in many elementary schools have an official mental/emotional/behavioral diagnosis. Why so many more now than before?

1. They were previously undiagnosed
2. Things are getting worse
3. Better diagnosis
4. More doctors and psychologists
5. Incorrect diagnoses

I am enclosing an article I think will be helpful to you about this situation. As the founder of an in patient psychiatric hospital and outpatient clinics, I obviously believe that medicine can be helpful. However, I also know that over medicating people, especially kids, can be harmful to them and their futures.

Read this blog by Dr. Leap, a Medical Doctor who sees the results of the Medical Model or Disease Model of treatment. Write and tell me what you think. Do we always need a pill or will prayer and love be more effective?

Gary Sweeten

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rearing Special Kids

For forty years I have preached, taught and written about the dangers of "Over Functioning" in family life, work and church. It seems as though I have completely failed to convince most parents that such activities are bad for the kids and bad for the parents so they are bad for everybody. Trying to force our kids to be more than God created them to be is not only impossible, it is dangerous.

It causes the family to DYS-Function an get distorted. Tonight, Karen and I watched the first chapter of the HBO special John Adams. It needs to be retitled "John and Abigail Adams" because she was every bit as important to the movement of freedom as was John.

Karen and I marveled at the way they interacted with their children. No pampering or political correctness or coddling there. Abigail was teaching her brood Latin and Greek as she directed their education. Nowadays we have parents cheat so their kids can get good grades or complain bitterly to the school when they get less than an A in class.

Here is an interesting article in the CNN Money online magazine. Read it and see what you think. While you are at it, go rent the DVD of John Adams.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finding Your Call for Life

All of God's great men have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them; they counted on his faithfulness. J. Hudson Taylor

Alexander Mackay was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in October 13, 1849. He was a bright student who had the mind of an engineer and the heart of a missionary. While reading an Edinburgh newspaper in December 1875, he came across a letter from King M'tesa of Uganda welcoming "the practical Christian who can cure diseases, build dwellings and turn his hand to anything".

Three years later, Mackay found himself preaching before King M'tesa the message of John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ. He wrote in his diary: "The spirit of God seemed to be working. I never had such a blessed service."

Mackay found that his true service to the Lord would be constructing a 230-mile road from the African coast, through the dense jungles to Uganda's capital. With the king's blessing, Mackay worked for the next twelve years preparing a way for future missionaries to travel while translating Matthew into the Luganda language.

Near the end of his life, he wrote: Still I plod on, teaching, translating, printing, doctoring and carpentering. Praise God! St. Matthew's Gospel is now published complete in Luganda and rapidly being distributed.

Henry M. Stanley called Mackay the greatest missionary since Livingstone; he used his talents, passion and gifts for God in a full and satisfying manner. Stanley allowed the mighty River of God to flow in and through him to touch thousands of lives and left a legacy for future generations.

What is your “True service for God?” Is it engineering, sales, evangelism, preaching, writing, healing, translating materials into Russian, counseling, construction, medicine, hauling coal, giving Cokes away, nursing beggars in India or cleaning toilets? What will you write in your journal at the end of your life?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Leadership and Growth

I probably entered the field of counseling because I was a raging sympathizer who could not resist trying to help or heal anyone in pain. When I was a kid I attracted troubled friends like a golf course pond attracts geese. I just could not seem to resist the temptation to jump on my white horse and ride to the rescue; antibody's rescue.

The discerning reader will immediately see that I was what I call a chronic "Over Functioner". If I spotted anyone who was hurt, wounded, dysfunctional or generally "Under Functioning" I felt so badly for them I tried to do something, anything to make them feel better. As our friend Dr. Phil would say, "How was that working for you?" Not well I am afraid.

After being in the helping Professions for some years I hit a wall of burn out. That was marked by frustration that most people did not change even when i spent exorbitant time with them. I was neglecting my family from extreme over work and yet people were unhappy with me and accused me of not caring enough. I did so much for people yet they often remained stuck in misery and pain.

Why did they refuse to take my advise? The came and begged me to help them and give them my great wisdom, prayers and insights. Yet, they generally refused to change, take the advice of even remember it.

Here I am some forty years later and older, wise and more balanced man. I still sometimes get over involved in trying to advise people and urge them to change. But, when failure occurs I can more quickly recover my sense of balance and stop trying to rescue them. "How did I change," you ask. God did it over a long period of time.

First, it was through failure. I was pretty sure I knew what other people "should do" when they had a problem. After all, I was an expert with several advance degrees. I had been told I was an expert who could officially and with government approval, "Diagnose and Treat Mental and Emotional Problems". That kind of license is a sure path to arrogance and pride and God let me fail to bring some humility in my heart.

Second, God taught me the Golden Rule. You remember it. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". I was finally inspired to ask a question: "How do I want people to treat me?" That was an interesting question. Do I want them to treat me like a child who is unable to manage his own life? Do I want others to rescue me or think for me? Did I need others to do for me what I could do for myself? NO! Absolutely no!!!

If the answer is no then I am sinning against God and those whom I am trying to heal, change or rescue. I needed to repent and think differently as well as act differently. I must stop over-functioning for others who are under-functioning.
I thought it would be easy. I was wrong.

Third, I had to learn new skills and new information on how to help people grow and be healed. I went to classes, read research, asked questions and started to change my approach to people. I had to get more callous, hard headed and tough thinking. The following story about Corey Pavin, Coach of the 2010 Ryder Cup is a great example of a tough minded leader. Read this story from the Golf Channel about how he intends to treat the greatest golf player in the world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ground Zero Memories


Two weeks after the airplanes struck the World Towers we received a call from the local Salvation Army asking if we could send four therapists from The Life Way Counseling Centers to New York. Martin Re, President of Life Way, replied that we could probably recruit four Counselors to go if we had some time. They said, "You don't have much time. We want you there tomorrow."

It was not possible to make flight arrangements and switch Counseling appointments for all our clients but four of us volunteered. We were led by Dr. Jerome Kelly, M.D., our Medical Director. He Steve Griebling, Carla Faison and I hopped on a free Delta airplane and flew to Newark, New jersey. From there we drove to a Salvation Army camp a few miles from New York City and went through a rather rigorous FBI background check. We all passed and they gave us official FBI photo badges so we could get into the Ground Zero area.

Getting back and forth to the Ground Zero area was like entering and leaving North Korea or East Germany during the Cold War. Despite the fact that "The horse was out of the barn, police, National Guard and soldiers stopped us every few blocks to check our car and our official FBI badges. Dr. Kelly and Steve were on one team from i:00 PM until 1:00 AM when Carla and I relieved them for the next 12 hours, 1:00 AM unit 1:00 PM.

These photos show the tents which we called home at Ground Zero. The Salvation Army had set up three tents from which we dispensed food, drinks, warm clothing, and medical supplies. We were actively interacting all night long with police, fire fighters, military, FBI agents, workers, rescue personnel, journalists, etc. When we arrived, the fire below ground was so intense that smoke was a constant problem with its toxic waste, terrible smells and heat. Several times each shift the fire fighters would put a probe down in the hole and test the temp. I remember one night the Chief said it was 1800 degrees.

More later.
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Love is Kind

When I was a little boy, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget what he said: "Baby, I love burned biscuits."

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides - a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!" You know, life is full of imperfect things.....and imperfect people.

What I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each others faults- and choosing to celebrate each others differences- is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

We could extend this to any relationship in fact - as understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!

"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else pocket - keep it in your own."

By Karl

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


How does a Christian respond appropriately to what we know to be false religions, idols, angry pagans and those who hate us? This is an important question because it is often the situation we face as followers of Christ and it will never change. Some folks teach that if we are loving, caring and peaceful we will be treated with love and respect in response. That may be true sometime but it is the opposite of truth in many cases. I am sure you remember that several Christians on a medical team were murdered recently because they were delivering care and love to Muslims.

I am going to look briefly at an incident when Paul was almost overcome with a case of spiritual stomach ache when he was in Athens evidently for the first time. We will also look at how he responded to the pagan leaders in that situation. Perhaps it can be a model for us.

Acts 17:16 While Paul was waiting for his friends in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. ( Paul was upset spiritually because he saw so many false idols in the city. How did he respond? Did he attack or scoff at them?)

17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean."

(Here is a key verse indicating that Paul really understood the Greek culture and entered into that culture appropriately. He did not act like a Christian Jew but an educated Greek philosopher.) 21 All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.

(The Greeks loved to debate so Paul debated them. He did so well that they invited him to go to the Areopagus, where the Council met, to have an official debate with them.)

22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. (Did he attack them and their beliefs? Was he disrespectful or antagonistic? Did he not take them seriously? Did he say they were ignorant or evil or from Satan? It was the opposite. Paul affirmed them for being religious. He patted them on the back.

(From a influence point of view, it was a brilliant move. Had he attacked their religion or attacked them it would probably instigated them to ignore him or fight him because he had disobeyed the rules of the debate to say nothing of violating the rules of common decency. He was wise enough to realize how to best start the process of conversion and transformation.

I live in Cincinnati, home of Procter and Gamble, a huge corporation. They have spent some two billion dollars on marketing per year for decades. Why do they do that? They want to change the behavior of non customers to become customers and to keep customer buying their products. It is all about influence.

Never does P&G attack their potential customers. Despite selling soap to clean body and clothing, P&G refrains from saying things like, "You all are a bunch of dirty, stinking, people that no one wants to be around so buy our products." They never intentionally try to insult their customers or potential customers, even when it would be factually correct.

Paul was as wise and informed as P&G. He did not insult potential customers. Instead he affirmed them as very religious people. He drew up beside these philosophers and said, "I admire your fervor for religion." Now he changes his strategy. He says, "I have done some research to prove my point.")

23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

(This is another brilliant preaching insight based on a thorough knowledge of the Greek religious culture and beliefs. This statue to the UNKNOWN GOD was actually a statue to the Lord God, the Creator of the Universe who was sought by the Greeks but was still unknowable to them. Now listen to this brilliant and well researched missionary, Paul.

Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

In other words, Paul says, "I know you have been searching for the unknowable, invisible God and He sent me here to reveal Him."

This is an unmatched, Holy Spirit led sermon based on thorough research into the Greek culture and religious belief system. Paul was able to RESPOND to these pagans with peace, love and joy rather than anxiety, anger and pessimism. Despite starting with a troubled spirit/mind/emotional state, he had gotten over that period of distress and was able to preach a great evangelistic sermon to the council of philosophers.

What lessons do we have to learn from Paul's conversion from anxiety to peace and anger to wisdom?

Where does this kind of wisdom need to be applied today?

Do you see any Christian leaders who need God's peace in order to preach with wisdom, cultural understanding and peace? Where?

When and where do you need God's peace and love to preach the right word at the right time in the right way?

Russian Law Denies Human Rights

My good friend and member of our team in Russia, Anatoly, sent me a blog report showing that a newly proposed law is trying to take all rights away from babies. Pray for our ministry team as they fight against these kinds of inhuman movements.

I had the Russian blog translated into English.

The Russian Parliament is planning legislation to deprive the rights of unborn children
08.09.10 | 21:31 NMA>> Society


Unborn children denied the right to be regarded as living beings and will be assigned a status of "products of conception". The moment of birth is the moment of separation of the product of conception from its mother through childbirth. "This provision is incorporated in the draft Federal Law" On the basis of the health of citizens of Russia ", article 49. The document is not the old position of "illegal conduct of abortion," which primarily entailed criminal liability under the law.

Also noteworthy, that the child before birth is now disparagingly called a "product of conception". Finally, from the bill removed a provision on criminal liability for illegal sterilization, and a number of articles document establishes the procedure for forced sterilization and forced abortion to resolve legal guardians or the court.

Priest Maxim Obukhov commented on the initiative of legislators in an interview portal as follows: "Regarding the definition of" product of conception, "it - generally unheard of. In general, the laws of many civilized countries there is the concept of "child before birth," because at the time of birth in a child, nothing changes except the change of mode of breathing and feeding. From a legal point of view, the phrase "product of conception" closes many opportunities to protect children before birth. And how can man be called "product of conception"? It lowers the status of the unborn child in Russia, even compared with those European countries where abortion is permitted. "

A founder of the initiative group "Donors - Children Catherine Chistyakova in his blog said:" product of conception "- that the zygote and blastula and gastrula, and mulberry body, and the embryo and the newborn in one person. All of us, in essence, only the products of conception. And abortions and miscarriages - is also labor. And yet, I from this "product" begin to fall into the legal nihilism. "

According to the American lawyer Irina Feofanova proposed wording of the article raises many questions and not entirely consistent with international legal standards. Despite the fact that in international law there is no general concept of birth, the very event of birth, as well as nurturing the child, endowed with important legal value. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 proclaims: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights". Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 provides in its preamble that "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth". According to Article 7, Clause 1 of the said Convention, "The child shall be registered immediately after birth and date of birth, the right to a name and a nationality, as well as possible, the right to know their parents and the right to be cared for." It should also be noted that "... a child means every human being below the age of 18 years of age ...», wrote Milites Christi Imperatoris citing And as you know, "human being" begins its existence and activity before birth.

Psychologist Irina judge considers that the wording proposed in the law inhuman. "The consequences can be only if it raised the question of respect in general, to a man and a child in the first place. But unfortunately in our society, not valued as a person's life, and little respect for the individual as vnutreutrobnogo and newborn child. In terms of competencies, even if the appeal to judicial organizations, the word "product" would interpret in a certain way: while the child is born, it is the product (which is absurd initially, especially if many people say a child who develops in utero, as a developed being heard , feeling, reacting to each vibration) "- says Irina.

An important change in the law is that reproductive technologies will be available to all. Establish a legally guaranteed right of access to reproductive technologies, including for persons who are not married, such as homosexual couples.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Digital Communication

As a relationship counselor who builds myself as "Building a lifetime of great relationships" I am concerned about what current technology is doing to our human and spiritual relationship habits. Wit so much tweeting, texting and face booking going on people are expressing their little hearts out but who is listening and responding? To whom can we go for a "heart-to-heart talk" now days? There are many people reading this and more or not reading and just ignoring so what does all this digital interaction portend for the future? Maybe the Japanese, who have been doing the digital dances longer than we Americans, have a clue to the future. Take a look at this Wall Street Journal article.

I find it fascinating that these young Japanese men have no personal relationships with a real woman. Is it because their social skills are so weak that they cannot hold a conversation" Maybe their are so scared of the opposite sex that they simply hide in the caves of their computer screens and live off the fantasy of speaking to and listening to a cartoon character.

I have noted over the years how rare it is for people to hold a conversation that stays on an important topic for more than one or two interchanges. If a friend tries to share something that is bothering or concerning him/her and tells someone, that listener will change the subject after no more than two interactions. I suppose these cartoon women in Japan will stay on topic for longer than that.

One trend that may help young texters, however, is gaming. When I broached this topic with a fifteen year old recently he said, "We don't text all the time. We actually talk on the phone a lot because we have to cooperate with each other to beat the other team. That was news to me and it was good news. My grand kids may not be as digitized as I feared. I would never have guessed it was because of computer games.

Still, these young men in Japan are cause for concern, I think. Computer and video sex can be powerful inducements for withdrawal from life and an introduction to addiction. I am convinced that teaching adults and student good social skills is essential to the future health of our families, churches and society. Churches with small groups can be a great antidote for impersonal relationships.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Voting for Dollars

Dad and Son

No, this post is not promoting another candidate for office from Illinois. It has to do with asking you to pray for Sweeten Life Systems as we continue the contest to win some prizes from Cincinnati Innovates. Click this link to check on the contest.

The possible prizes are varied and helpful to any organization trying to launch a new product or service. If we were to win one of the prizes I am sure it would help us get grants, support and good counsel.

Greater Cincinnati Regional Innovation Competition

Cincinnati Innovates is an innovation competition that is open to anyone who has an innovation, idea, or invention and has a Greater Cincinnati connection. This competition is designed to showcase the technological, artistic, and ingenious innovations of all Cincinnatians - whether you are from Cincinnati originally or live or work in the Greater Cincinnati area (OH, IN, KY) now. All levels of technical expertise are welcome.

There are ten prizes totaling over $80,000 in awards. CincyTech will award two commercialization awards of $25,000 and $10,000 to Ohio-based companies. The Northern Kentucky eZone, Tri-Ed, Vision 2015, and Biologic will award a $10,000 commercialization award to a Kentucky-based company. Two intellectual property and startup awards of $10,000 and $5,000 will be awarded by Taft Stettinius & Hollister. CoStrategix will award a $5,000 web development award.

Cooney, Faulkner and Stevens will award $2,500 in accounting and professional services. LPK will award $10,000 in branding and design services.

Your vote matters! The $2,000 HYPE Community Choice Award will be determined by a combination of views and votes. Tell your friends and vote daily for the most innovative entries.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Glenn Beck's Gospel

Glenn Beck is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. He is a Mormon. Is it possible for him to speak truth about God and salvation or does his membership in a cult place him outside the veil of telling the truth?

Last Saturday, Mr. Beck spoke to some 500,000 people on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Some Christian leaders are angrily denouncing his calling us to "Return to God". They suggest that we ought not join Beck in talking about salvation and repentance because he is a Mormon.

What do you think?