Saturday, November 30, 2013

A New Day and Way to say Thanks!

Black Friday,
Cyber Monday,
and now...

 Giving Tuesday

Support Sweeten Life and the important work we do in the community and world on Tuesday, December 3, 2013.

 The term BLACK FRIDAY has taken over the airwaves and the marketing approaches and aggressively pushing greed, covetousness and materialism. So, the clever gurus of charitable organizations had the idea to come up with 
A Day for Giving!!!

 The purpose is to encourage you to donate to some worthy ministry. 

Donate to some ministry or charity that has blessed you. 

Call them up and offer a heartfelt thanks. Nothing keeps a ministry going like a strong affirmation that we helped somebody. 

Give and it shall be given back to you...

Gary Sweeten

Friday, November 29, 2013

Stinking Thinking Can Cause?

Out of the Roots come the Fruits. The roots of many problems can be traced back to Stinking Thinking.

Eating Disorders
Unwanted Sexual Desires
Compulsive Behaviors
Drug Addiction
Alcohol Addiction 

What is behind Stinking Thinking? Well, that is easy. The origin of Stinking Thinking can be traced to ANTS!!! ANTS is shorthand for Automatic Negative Thoughts! As Andrew Newberg, an MD Neurologist says, "The brain is interested in survival rather than facts." If we have suffered intensive Shock, Trauma or Abuse from attacks or neglect the brain suffers from PTSD and is constantly on the alert to protect us from any new attack.

Stinking Thinking is a Chronic Habit of allowing ANTS to run and rule my life, my thoughts and my feelings.All of the ANTS spring up from the deep heart and infect the brain. The brain becomes agitated and pours out suspicious and hyper alert messages to the nerves and emotions that whisper "Watch out! They are going to get you. You can't trust her."

We have a You Tube Video online at our web page that offers free insights about how to resist these impulses with God on your side.  The traumatized brain too often assumes that God too is against us.

America through the Eyes of Russian Kids

A couple of decades ago Steve Griebling and I were on a trip to the former USSR. While there we had plans to train a group of Christian Ministers, Therapists and Nurses how to "Heal the broken hearted and set the captives free."

During a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner in honor of America and Americans, one of the guests asked us to share with her students about American Thanksgiving.She had established  private school for the children of the new rich. Her goal was to teach children reared in a secularist, humanist socialist state Christian values of caring, sharing and bearing each others' burdens.

They had eight grades with about 50 kids from all over Moscow. Most rode to school in cars driven by private, armed guards to keep them from being kidnapped. The school was located in former school building and was surrounded by weeds and tall  Soviet style apartment houses. Graffiti was scrawled on the formerly white walls and dogs wandered around it.

Inside it was clean, orderly and warm. Pictures, maps and art work hung on the walls and several well rounded Ukrainian cooks welcomed each teacher and child to their educational womb of democracy. The Principal and Teachers had a dream of producing a new breed of sensitive leaders to guide the new emerging Russia.

She wanted Steve and me to relate how the USA had developed into an international economic and military powerhouse while espousing Christian values. She knew the story of the Pilgrims and had taught them about the First Thanksgiving but now she had two citizens of the greatest nation in history to relate how Judeo/Christian values permeated America.

Steve and I told our stories and discussed American freedoms. The Bill of Rights sounded preposterous to them. They could not believe we could buy a gun and go hunting if we chose. Neither of us owned a gun but we had grown up in rural America where everybody had one.

The two most amazing things, however, had to do with faith. In perfect English they asked about our faith and the faith of Americans. The students were fascinated with the fact that we could choose any religion or none at all but over 90% chose Christianity.

The Principal asked if we had some American money. We took out some bills and coins and passed them around to the kids. Their eyes popped out to see that each had a motto. In God we trust!

It strange to them to see that America trusts God more than mammon!

They concluded that America was strong because we trusted God more than money. And they concluded that is the reason that only America has a holiday set aside to thank God for His blessings.

Because we grew up in America, neither of these things was a shock to us. In fact, we were jaded because it seems that we are losing that fervor for thanking God. Maybe Thanksgiving is starting to look more and more like worship of mammon rather than appreciation for the blessings of God.

It was great to see our society through the eyes of foreign children. I now understand better why America is unique.

God, please bless America.

God, you have blessed America!

I am thankful to God for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

See our web. We have training centers around the world for Pastors, Missionaries and Lay Christians.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to Overcome Stinking Thinking 1.

If you get a lemon.....?

To find out ways to overcome Stinking Thinking and thereby Depression and Anxiety, take a look at my recent sermon at TCA. Once a year, Pastor Brad Rosenberg asks me to speak on Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to the fallen world but be instead transformed by renewing your mind.

Go to the web page and click on You Tube link to see the recently uploaded talks on "Overcoming Anxiety and Fear!"

Why are depression and anxiety on the rise in America? More people are depressed today than there were back before WWII. Nobody can convince me that the stresses of modern life in America are more prevalent today than back then. The famous Psychologist Martin Seligman thinks it comes from the modern "Self-Esteem Movement". I am not sure about that, but he makes a good case for focusing on the ways we try to protect children from the truth about themselves.   For example, everybody gets a first place prize even  if they lost every game. But kids know that is a scam so they refuse to believe a sincere compliment.

I think Stinking Thinking is on the rise and we have failed to teach ourselves and our kids how to fight back and "Take every thought prisoner to the mind of Christ." What think ye?

My book, Power Christian Thinking tells all about ways to renew the minds and conquer Stinking Thinking. Get it today if you are bold enough to face the truth!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Leaving Conflicted Triangles

My Singapore friends illustrate a Triangle with two very close and one left out.

It seems that whenever there is a cycle of conflict between two people there are always other issues that keep the cycle of conflict going. For example, Gabe and Jude have an ongoing battle about him working too much and neglecting her and the kids. She nags him to stay home and help with the kids  more and he increasingly stays away.

Could there be invisible people or issues in the minds of each of them that keep the cycle of conflict going? Maybe. Perhaps her dad was absent from home and left her mom to fend for herself while rearing three kids. When Gabe is gone she has a mental picture of her mother all alone weeping and wondering why her dad is gone. Jude swore that she would not allow her man to do that.

Gabe is not pure either. When Jude nags he sees his poor, impotent father giving in to his abrasive, aggressive wive and Gabe's mom. He hated to see his dad acting so weak and swore he would never allow a woman to push him around.

These "hidden" factors are not so hidden. They are involved in the emotions of every discussion and every fight. In fact, Jude and her mom have discussed the situation many times and agree that Gabe is away too much. Jude is fighting not only for herself but for her mom. Gabe is not fighting just for himself but for the perceived "honor" of all men.

Unfortunately, most of us are not aware of these triangles and have no understanding of how they are negatively impacting their marriages. So, self awareness can be helpful to resolving a chronic cycle of futile conflict. If you find yourself in such a cycle, ask, "Who else is in this conflict?"

Are you ready to read my book, on The Family Tree?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Family Triangles-A Common Problem

Family system processes are fairly predictable. Most of the conflicts and patterns seem to circle around a Triangle in the family, or more concretely, overlapping Triangles. Some people say that the most basic configuration in organizations is the three sided process not a two sided. Jane and Joe marry because they want to be together. However, Triangles are usually exist there as well.

A Triangle is three people or two people and an object such as sports, career, church, etc. The two that are close together are emotionally enmeshed leaving the third part outside.The two inside seem to be satisfied but the outsider is dissatisfied.

When Jane and Joe fall in love they are a passionate twosome. They are consumed with each other. The passionate energy lasts as long as unfulfilled sex is a driver but as soon as the male is sexually satisfied he turns toward other pursuits. Many males turn to a job and career, sports, cars, male friends, etc. This leaves the female feeling abandoned, lonely, rejected and angry. Husband is close to his job and distant from the Wife.

In traditional societies when Joe was sexually satisfied he stopped pursuing Jane and she was hurt. However, by that time sh was usually pregnant and had her own inside person to draw close. These are overlapping Triangles.

In modern societies with women chasing men and giving away their most potent weapon, sex, the dissatisfaction begins much earlier and it leaves the women alone and frustrated. In farming parlance, the cow must not give away the milk.

Read our book, How to be Me in My Family Tree for more on Triangles. We also have a good number of free videos on You Tube Channel at the web site.

Family Life Goes On

Karen and I celebrated 52 years together yesterday. That is a long time to live together and love each other despite the stresses and strains of life. It is easy to look at the world and give up on marriage and family life but after just over five decades of family I am still optimistic about the future.

God was involved with us from the beginning and that gives us hope for our children and your children. The enclosed film is one of the most positive films I have seen from a big company. It is by Unilever and promotes the notion that our hope depends on bringing healthy children into the world. 

A few years ago we did a yearlong research study on the needs of families with a special needs child.  One of my insights from that work has been the fact that rearing a child with a chronic illness is stressful but most of the families. rise to the occasion daily and develop positive, optimistic lives. They love their children and overcome great challenges to provide a caring environment for the entire family.

After a lot of work and the guidance of the Lord several tools to support parents have arisen from the original research and the innovative ideas of our team. Jim Donovan, Andrea Bowsher have been especially insightful and focused to develop ways to support these families. Two agencies in Butler County Ohio, Help Me Grow and Family Focus, have been extremely helpful to us as we develop our tools that they and others can use to find out more exactly how to support the children and their families.

You will hear a lot more about the tools and supportive systems that are coming from our Beta Research with Butler County Board of DD. Sweeten Life Systems has formed a brand new kind of company to better serve the needs of the professionals and the families they serve. It is called Patient Home Advantage, L3C and is designed to strengthen the home life of every special needs child and family.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family Conflicts

Look at the family systems genogram/family map of Abraham and his Wives, It becomes obvious why there was conflict among the wives, their children and their children's children.  In fact, those conflicts continue to the present day between the Arabs, the Muslims and the Jews. Even those Christians adopted into the family tree has conflicts with the children of Ishmael. Conflict in a system with so many basic difficulties is inevitable.

I worked among the Muslims for almost three years. They were, as a rule, caring people that loved their families and doted on their children. However, if they chose, Domestic Law allowed them to obey Sharia Law in marriage and family life. This meant they could have four wives at one time.

In a seminar on marriage counseling I was asked by an Imam about why America did not allow polygamy. As best I could I answered that we were founded as a nation based on Judeo/Christian laws that allowed one man, one woman and one life, but recent divorce law was threatening those traditions.

He then asked, "What do you think of polygamy personally?"

I said, " I am in no position to attack Islam. I am a Christian and know too little to be critical."

He pushed me on the topic twice more but I refused the bait. Finally, one of the female Counselors said, "This is a stupid tradition! Its is stupid and harms women and children!"

Questions: "Why did I avoid answering the Imam?"

Was it cowardice?

An inability to think on my feet?

I like polygamy?

Read my book, How to be me in my Family Tree for an overview of family healing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to Pray for Generational Healing 2

Have you done a genogram to identify your family patterns? Do you know how to do a genogram? Does the Bible mention genealogy? Have you ever read about the "begats" in scripture?

If interested you can learn how to write your genogram and pray for your family tree. Get the book, How to be me in my Family Tree.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Healing Generational Curses 2

Peasants after the Revolution
Ladies at our seminar

The story continues:

I heard the telephone ring outside my room and a flurry of talk in Russian but I turned over and went back to sleep. At breakfast I heard the rest of the story. Grandmother Sveta was there with a beaming smile as she herded her grand daughter Maria through the line. The entire room was bursting with excitement and chatter. I don't understand Russian so I was in the dark.

Galina came over and excitedly said, "Did you hear what happened? Did you hear the telephone early this morning?"

I said, "Yes, but that is all. What was it?"

She waved for Sveta and Maria to come over and tell me the news. She would interpret. Sveta was beside herself with joy as the story poured out. Last night when we prayed for her genogram it became apparent that every generation since the Russian Revolution in 1917 had seen an epidemic of alcoholism, family dysfunction and divorce. She and her daughter were just the last two.

As the group sought God's wisdom it occurred to them that their ancestors had been forced to deny God and Jesus Christ in order to join the Communist Party. The ladies checked the genograms and saw that their ancestors had indeed denied Christ in order to get jobs and welfare.

The entire group gathered around the three females and worshiped the Lord and asked for wisdom about how to pray. They asked for God's mercy and forgiveness and repented for their own divorces.Anya, the young mother had also asked God to provide $500.00 so she and her daughter could attend a Bible school in St. Petersburg.She wanted to study art and photography to write for a Christian magazine. Anya had held it up up during introductions as an example of her calling to serve the Lord.

The early morning call was from Sveta's ex husband, Pavel, an alcoholic not heard from in years. He had abandoned the family long ago and disappeared from sight. He was working in a gold mine in Siberia. During the night he felt the Lord come to him with a strange message. He was convicted to call Anya  and offer her $500.00.  He did not know why. Nor did he know she was in a camp near the village of Saltikovka. He found her and called and told her to take a train to meet him in a small mining town in Siberia. If she made it to meet him that day he had $500.00 for her. Anya gladly left on the 6:00 AM train to meet her father whom she had not seen since she was a little girl.

The group of us wept for joy and thanksgiving. Our faith soared to hear the wonderful testimony. Not only had God broken the curse, He spoke to the alcoholic father and convicted him to send his daughter the exact amount she needed for school. And, how he found her at a small camp in the woods outside Moscow was amazing! It was obvious that God has a built in GPS!

You can read more stories like this in the book How to be me in my Family Tree. Most of our materials are on PDF and can be downloaded and printed out from our bookstore.  

You can also send Sweeten Life a donation to support the Russian Ministry and people like Sveta and Anya. Galina and her team are continuing to bring hope and healing to the lives destroyed by Stalin.

(The names are changed to protect the innocent.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Laws of Generations 1.

I have taught on generational curses and blessings for several years. Even though I have a mixed and sometimes contradictory idea about how it works, God has often done great healing when we prayed. We often pray for  God's mercy to heal the sins of past behavior and see current generations get relief from generational sins.
In Russia there are many examples of generational curses and trauma. From 1917 until 1989 the Bolsheviks regularly killed families and wiped out their farms, businesses and churches. The result is massive PTSD in successive generations. The Socialists forced Christians to deny their faith or die and millions did it.  

Since 1992 we have trained them how to pray for healing generational curses. We often ask God to remove the current pain and dysfunction from family sins.  The very high rate of alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic abuse, sexual dysfunction, childlessness, depression, mental illness, and early death is an indication of the generational chickens coming home to roost. In many cases we have seen individuals and families delivered from these diseases, addictions and perverse behaviors. However, there is great mystery about how prayer actually works to destroy the generational curses. Despite my lack of certainly, I continue to believe, teach and pray.

I offer an example from Russia. I was in a Baptist Camp in Saltikovka, just outside Moscow.  I taught on generational issues and asked each of the 40 or so people to do a Genogram of their family tree. They were to note ancestor faith, behavior, activities and  family functions back as far as they could.
Because of jet lag I went to bed early. It did not last long because I was awoken at about 10:00 PM by my colleague, Galina. She said that after the last teaching when I went to bed, the group had returned to the chapel to pray over their genograms. In one instance, a grandmother of about 50, her daughter of 25 and grand daughter of 7 were there praying like mad for God to intervene in their family tree.

After I got out of bed I joined my new friends in prayer. I did not know until the next morning what had happened as a result.

Gary Sweeten

Amazing Inventions and Humans

All of us tend to think like evolutionists. We believe that we are better, smarter and farther advanced than our ancestors. And, there is no doubt that some things are faster, better and more advanced now than before. However, we stand on the shoulders of past giants.

For example, over 200 years ago people were pretty smart and developed machines that predated computers but worked on a similar patter without electricity. Not bad for a poorly evolved person. See what you think about the video of this 240 year old computer is incredible.

Still, the human brain is so much more advanced than any machine there is really no comparison. God's creation of a small organ that has over 1,000,000,000 (One Billion) cells with each cell having over 1,000 connections allows humans to come up with very complex machines. Thank God for creation. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Do You Have A Healing Growth Community?

What kind of language do you use when you discuss people with problems? Do you pick out certain categories of troublesome behavior and preach forcefully against it? Do you talk about how much evil is being brought on us by sin and sinners? Or, do you use phrases such as "We love the sinner but hate the sin!" Or do you simply call your church a community that welcomes all persons regardless of their lifestyle? 

These do not exhaust the possibilities of how a church projects its image into the community.

The mega churches of today tend to ten their public images with great sensitivity. However, just because they are careful to project an image of acceptance, care and love does not mean they have no strong stands on morality. It usually means that they want to draw flawed people into the range of their influence first. They also tend to approach sinners with an understanding that the Holy Spirit can convict and bring change. This means that preaching against sin and sinners is counter productive.

I strongly agree with the idea that preachers cannot bring anyone to conviction and change. We can not replace the Holy Spirit in bringing people to faith. My books are all based on the need to treat all persons with Respect, Understanding and Warmth to the best of our spiritual fruit and let God do the rest.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What is Your Church Culture?

The biggest causes of conflict in a church? Complaints about:

a. Poor Preaching Delivery. _____
b. Poor theology______
c. Musical Style  _______
d. Length of sermons _____
e. Pastor's behavior _______
f. Behavior of Preacher's Kids _______
g. Poor Administration ________
h. Too liberal _______________
i. Too conservative _________________
j. Children's department ______________
k. Gossip _________________
l. Sinners Coming ________________
m. Dress Fashion ____________
n. Add Your Own _________________
o. Specific Theological Issues not Emphasized __________________________
p. Specific Social Issue _____________________________________

Read Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty for an overview of a healthy church.

Do you believe it is possible to positively influence the church as a whole group?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Two Marks of a Healing-Growth Community

According to those who write about these things for inpatient hospitals, there are two primary aspects of a healing community. The first is called, Communitas or grace and truth and the second, Healing Charisma or healing flow. Both point to the importance of attitudes, for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. An attitude of grace and truth toward all needy men and women is the first essential of a healing cell.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, it is the attitudes of the sober members toward those who have not yet reached sobriety, is critical to their change. It is the attitude of the saints' toward sinners, the insiders' view of those still outside the fold; the elder brother's view of the prodigal who wants to come home but is too ashamed; it is the Pastor's view of those unable to help themselves. 

When those in the group who have been touched by God's grace extend it to others outside the group, that community is prepared to help and heal. When those who have been personally loved with an everlasting love show the same kind of unrestrained and exuberant selflessness to the undeserving, the community moves toward health. When people are accepted as they are, warts, struggles and sins intact, we can see the beginning of a family that will heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. This is the grace-applied part of a healing community.

Grace applied goes so far as to suggest that the only persons who deserve to enter the group fail the test of acceptability! Only alcoholics can become members of a group dedicated to sobriety. Even then, each member, sober or not, must professes to be an alcoholic. Only sinners may apply to become members of a church dedicated to saintliness. Anyone professing perfection should be turned away at the door. The church is not a country club that checks credentials, to make sure that the applicants are worthy of entry, but a hospital that looks for wounds to heal. Those who are certain of their purity are actually too sinful to be accepted, but those who are certain that their sin is far too bad to be forgiven get the red carpet treatment.

See Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty for more information.

Spiritual Attacks and Spiritual Warfare

----We Need Your Prayers!

Gary Sweeten

Dear Friends,
This has been a very tough year in many ways. As Christians in a vital ministry we fully expect to have challenges, difficulties and tribulations. But it seems that our ministry, Sweeten Life Systems and several of our board members have faced uncommon difficulties.
1.     I received a call from Russia last night and heard of the physical and spiritual challenges of Galina, her family and her team. She has been faced with many barriers to communicating with us including an electric blackout in the entire region of Moscow where she lives. That made it impossible to be on Skype with us at the board meeting.   PRAY
2.     Illnesses of other board members and their families. Rick Kalal and his family have moved to Kansas City where Lorraine heads a wonderful ministry. Rick has suffered from extremely serious kidney failure and needs a transplant. PRAY
3.     Another board member has faced stiff headwinds in his profession with great disappointment and financial pressures. PRAY
4.     The family of a board member is beset with extreme emotional and spiritual attacks on family members. This makes it very hard to take the ministry forward. PRAY
5.     A Pastor’s family member had a very serious accident and was nearly killed. Recuperation will be long. PRAY
6.     A Pastor’s church family has experienced great trauma. PRAY
7.     A Pastor’s family members are facing severe medical issues. PRAY
8.     Cancer surgery for another board member. PRAY
9.     Family members with chronic illnesses are draining the family of time and energy. PRAY
10.   The finances of SLS have been severely strained even as our impact is growing. Doors are opening internationally and locally with great potential to equip people to better respond to the new health care laws. PRAY

Our fight is not with the people but with the animating spiritual forces that are in full attack mode. Pray to disarm them!