Monday, July 17, 2017

If Christian Leaders Had a Cooking Show

I must admit that I am frustrated with the education and training of Christians. The focus of both Jesus and Paul was Discipleship. Raising up mature men and women who wanted and were capable of doing ministry. It was practical as well as theological. Many schools that train Christian leaders teach only theories of leading and preaching but few practical skills.

I am reminded of the top Surgeon in Japan. He wrote a 700 page textbook for Medical students. At the end of the school year the government had him travel to each graduating class to test the knowledge and skills of the students.

Here was his unbelievable discovery. Many students could quote portions of the text he wrote. It was an amazing feat of memory. There was one problem. Most of them had no practical skills in the daily practice of medicine. Most could not take a patient's blood pressure!

I have a friend that graduated from a top rated American seminary. After years of Greek, Hebrew, OT and NT theories he graduated.

His first assignment was as an assistant in a small church in New York state. Soon after arriving the Pastor left on vacation, leaving the church in the "capable hands" of the newly minted Minister. One Sunday he had to baptize two young girls by immersion.

They went out to a lake to do the baptism and he was ready.  He wore his brand new Doctoral robes and carried the Bible he received at graduation.

As the three of them walked out into the shallow lake, they suddenly sank like a stone. Before long they all went into the deep water with robes flowing, new Bible sinking, sermon notes floating, watches and new suit ruining, and teenage girls screaming.

He had never before performed a baptismal service in practice or reality. The words Rev. Newsboy screamed in panic must have been Greek or Hebrew because he had to promise never to repeat them again at any public event.

Preparation of all professionals must improve with internships, that mix practical and theoretical knowledge as the base.

We have both! Get the theoretical and theological here along with videos that show models.

Christian Influence

As a Christian I was born to have an influence. When a baby is born to a member of the royal family he or she is immediately a royal with immense influence. However, like any normal baby, a royal comes into the world as a person that needs to be trained in the proper behavior of a member of the royal family, traditions, and protocol.

Last year Karen and I watched The Crown on Netflix. It is a fascinating story about Queen Elizabeth from birth to adulthood and it covers in some dramatic detail the many things she was required to know and do, many of which she hated. For example, Elizabeth promised her sister she could marry a divorced man but discovered from Winston Churchill that it was not possible for her to give such permission. Rather than having enormous freedom and authority, the Queen was constantly reminded that she served at the pleasure of the Crown or Kingdom rather than her own desires. The scripture uses kingdom in a similar way.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. I Peter 1:9 

We who know Christ were born again as royalty and like all chosen people we must learn the skills, patterns, and protocol required. That is called Discipleship in the Bible and the process of making disciples is called Equipping. One of the key things to equip royal Christian babies is how to act and speak properly so as to have positive influence rather than negative influence. 

Like the young Queen we may want to do things we have no authority to do. We may wish to demand and command that those with whom we disagree should be silenced. That is not allowed. Everyone in our world has the freedom to speak. As a Christian I sometimes want to stop people from misquoting scripture or interpretation is wrong. But I do not have authority to do that.  

P&G spends 8 Billion Dollars annually on marketing. They are very careful to use their money and knowledge wisely. I wish every one of us would be as careful as P&G to always be positive, uplifting, and encouraging. 

Go to our web for videos and written materials on building a positive influence.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Special Needs Families and Conflict

It is widely reported that parents who are also caretakers of a chronically ill family member suffer themselves as a result of the additional stress.  I believe it.

The stresses are high and sometimes they cause additional conflicts. In fact, many marriages do not survive. In many cases, siblings also develop resentments from feeling left out.

However, rumors and poor memory can exaggerate the frequency of divorce among caregivers. We sometimes hear that 85 to 90% of the couples with a disabled kid get divorced, but that is too high, but it is higher than other couples.  It take hard work and exceptional skills to develop a solid marriage for anyone.

We have interviewed many caregiver parents to hear directly why they are stressed. We could guess but we want to instead of ask directly to learn what we can do to help them overcome it. As a result we are getting ready to launch a new web site and tool to foster family cohesion and communication. Keep us in your prayers so we have the most creative and beneficial tools possible.

We already have some great tools that facilitate family peace and growth available at the Sweeten Life web site.

Friday, June 9, 2017

D Day Memories

It has been 73 years since D Day and few people keep it's memory fresh in their minds. I do not, and I am sorry. I read a nice story in the Wall Street Journal today that has a link to the speech Ronald Reagan gave at the 40th Anniversary. It was a tremendous speech that promised the people on Europe that we in the US would stand with them anytime they need us.

Here is that fantastic speech. It is worth listening to it just for how well it was written and spoken. 

President Trump mad that same promise when he was in Europe at the NATO meeting recently and reemphasized it today.

Freedom is costly.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Angry Kids

There was a great article published some time ago by a Psychiatrist that is worth reading by professional Counselors and parents. The author is Mark Goulston, M.D. a Los Angeles based psychiatrist and the author.

I read it on Twitter and think my readers might benefit from it though it was written in 2007 it is still relevant to families.

If you want to better understand yourself and your family get my PDF book on family systems. It is called How to be me in my Family Tree.

You can start helping your self by assessing your own family.

Gary Sweeten

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Power of God's Spirit on Pentecost

As the Western countries move away from faith and scripture we focus more toward treating others with disrespect. In the Roman Empire Greek thinkers Plato and Aristotle taught that killing babies after they were born was a good idea. Just as killing Gladiators was seen as a fun sport killing girl babies was thought to be great for family health. 

No wonder Rome fell. Fewer women meant that there were not enough wives; that meant there were not enough babies; Rome had to import slaves to work and had to pay men to fight for them. It caved from immoral, awful ethics. 

Christians went out to the fields and mountains where the Pagans dumped little girls to be eaten by wild animals and saved them from death. This started what we now call orphanages! The small, house churches grew because women were drawn by a religion that protected them and their babies. They brought their children and husbands and many came to faith in Christ. 

Christian women were free in the church. They were not forced to marry at 12 and 13 years of age. They led the churches and used their gifts. Today is Pentecost Sunday when the Spirit was poured out on men, women, slaves, Greeks, and Jews just as it was promised in Joel 2:27-29

You will know that I am present in Israel
and that I am Yahweh your God,
and there is no other.
My people will never again be put to shame.

I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity;
Then your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will have prophetic dreams,
Your young men will have prophetic visions.
I will even pour out my Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days. 

Get my book, The Healing Release of the Holy Spirit might help you understand. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Lack of Motivation?

Many people think that folks engaged in drug use need to be motivated because they are not motivated. Drug users are motivated. Indeed. To use drugs. 

The 4 Factors of Healing

Some things work and some don't. 

If it works do more of it
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it
Each factor is important but some are more influential than others. Good therapists want to know how to be more effective so here are the facts from forty years of research. The special knowledge, techniques, advice, medicine and brilliance of the therapist is worth about 15% of a successful outcome. 

When a doctor gives a depressed patient medicine, suggests that he exercise, offers insights about the family system or reinforces good self esteem it counts for something but not much. My professional colleagues are disappointed to learn that the thousands of dollars spent on graduate school and all the materials they have mastered over the years make such a small difference to the client.  The Peer Counselors are ecstatic. 

If it doesn’t work stop it

The faith and hope of the client 15%. is worth about the same as the professional’s insights and knowledge.

Many of us can tell stories about how a patient refused to give up and was healed or changed. As Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole.” There is no technique or treatment plan more effective than the client’s faith. Belief will have a more consistent payoff than any single treatment intervention.

Hope for change is as effective as cognitive restructuring, positive reinforcement, family interventions, medication, etc. Eclectic therapists use a combination of treatment techniques because no one technique is always helpful. However, the client’s faith is always helpful.

The third factor is worth about twice of the other two. The client who sees his therapist, nurse or doctor as caring will have a 30% boost in getting better. Research has even discovered that one of the “magical keys to caring in the helper’s Genuine concern, Respect, the Empathic understanding for the client’s situation and her Warm relationship to the seeker. 

We call them the GREW skills.

Finally, we come to the factor that makes the most difference. It is also the one over which helpers have the least influence. The client brings it to each session. It is her level of motivation and the support she gets from family, friends and coworkers to make the healthy changes in life. 

These account for 40% of positive outcomes. It is very important to seek ways a client can increase her motivation. All clients are motivated but not to do what we want them to do.  

Second, it is critical for clients to get a lot of support for change from family and friends.  The personal faith of the client and the support of her faith community add greatly to her motivation.

This is why church and Sunday school attendance are important in motivating positive teen behavior.  Money, family dysfunctions, discipline styles or IQ pale in comparison to parents, Sunday school teachers and Christian friends to prevent sex, drugs and violence among youth.

See our books and materials here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Impacting The unchurched

I have a poem and need music for a song. Send your suggestions

Don't Go Near the Water

Don't go near the water
Til you learn how to swim
Don't go near those sinners til they look like Him

Those people that are drinking and swearing
As they walk this sod
They can't come near us til they act like God

Don't go near the water
Til you learn how to swim
Don't go near those sinners til they look like Him!

Jesus never talked to sinners and He never had a drink
You must come out from them
You know what they think!

Don't go near the water
Til you learn how to swim
Don't go near those sinners til they look like Him!

Never water the GOOD NEWS down with mercy, kindness, grace and love!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Biblical Leadership

How can we minister to a hurting world when so many people are in pain? Do it the way Jesus did. Start small and build deeply! Then call each of them to find some people to equip the same way they were equipped. Before long that small group had become a large movement. 

In the Old Testament we can see how God revealed His plans for taking the Kingdom back for evil. Take a look at Moses and why he decided to delegate. See Exodus 4:

Moses was killing himself until his father in law, a pagan priest, said he was on the road to burning himself out. Like any good consultant, Jethro told Moses the truth about what his egotistic desire for control would do to his people. It will burn them out as well!

We need more people to adopt the discipleship and multiplication process. But it is hard work. It makes us reduce our need for control. That is the biggest barrier!

It also requires us to place large events in their proper perspective, at the bottom in the Kingdom.

I read a blog last week by a well-known church researcher and consultant. He focused on Eight Ways Pastors are ill prepared to head a church. Several can be boiled down to an lack of training and ability to work with people.  Included was an inability to equip, train or disciple members. I agree. Those are not taught or emphasized in most Bible schools and seminaries.

The responses were many and many were defensive. Not a few blamed the people for being unsaved wolves rather than sheep, blind, stubborn, rebellious, etc. It came down to blaming today's Christians for being much worse than in past generations.

From my brief studies of Church History I cannot agree that believers today are worse than ever. Are they worse than those in Germany that supported the Nazi party? Are they worse than the slave owners of America? Are they worse than the pagans in the First Century that raped, pillaged and burned Christians before they were saved?

As my Dad was fond of saying, "Gary Ray, sin was not invented in this generation. It has been around a very long time. Leading and Pastoring has always been difficult." It is important that we not give up doing good.

Exponential growth of Christians into maturity is critically important. Recruiting and equipping the laity is hard work but very rewarding. I was a layman that was discipled by a defrocked Presbyterian Minister who taught me how to pray, lead small groups, do Pastoral hospital visits, do Bible studies, and so forth. The laity we recruited and trained came out of drugs, sexual perversions, stealing, homelessness, etc.

It was hard. It was very hard and it was thankless! In fact, despite staying up all night to minister to these people after working all day and feeding them the last thing in the fridge they complained about Karen and my lack of commitment. That is what immature people do! Dozens of these young people became outstanding husbands and wives and solid Christians. Some even went to seminary. It was exponential healing, change and growth.

Do you have any nominations for exponential leaders from your life?Who led you to Christ and who equipped you?

I am going to repeat my focus on this man. Who would you say was the most influential Christian leader in history? I have asked this question many times in a variety of places, including this blog. I think it is a most provocative issue that cuts across the grain of Christianity. It scares most Pastors so they refuse to discuss it. 

I have asked people at seminars and seminaries; churches and church elder boards; sermons and solo pastors. I get some rather interesting answers. Here are a few of the nominations.

  • Mark (He wrote the first Gospel)
  • Peter (The Rock on which the Church is built)
  • Mary (The mother of Jesus)
  • Paul (The great preacher to the gentiles and writer of many books)
  • Luke (He wrote more of the Bible than any other person)
  • James (Brother of Jesus and wrote a book)
  • Luther (He started a revolution)
  • Mohammed (Without him, Christianity would be much bigger)
  • Billy Graham (A modern evangelist of repute)
  • Bill Bright (Founded Campus Crusade)
All of these nominations are worthy of fame, fortune and many books but they are not my pick. I nominate a man that gets little contemporary press. He did not write any of the books in the Bible nor did he have the gift of oratory. He operated behind the scenes with power, wisdom and incredible influence. 

Without him, there would have been no Paul, no John Mark, no Luke and no gentile church and no missions to the gentiles. He was a multiplier and is lost to history because he had few big audiences and most of us fear his approach. It was the same as Jesus. 

And, it was more than what Jethro told Moses!

Our web has some good books to help your train and equip others into maturity. When you open that link you will see a book on witnessing to Muslim neighbors. It is a fantastic book. Donna Thomas, one of the most successful Missionaries of the last century has a book for you. My Mentor Dr. Richard Walters has a couple of great books that will help laugh your way out of legalism!

The book that has an anonymous author and a title about the Threads of God tells how a married couple retired and took the equipping tools from our church across the whole country. Want to be inspired?  Go see them. 


Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Danger of Setting Faith Goals

It can be a great motivator to set faith goals if properly done. However, goal setting can be a trap when done wrongly or with the wrong idea.

For example many faith driven preachers put a huge emphasis on outcomes that are dependent on God's miraculous interventions. They read certain passages of scripture and then "Claim the results of the passage".

I realize we can read places when the Bible says, "Jesus healed all their diseases." This passage is read as "We can and should heal every disease". Then we should claim success "by faith". So everyone is told they were healed so quick acting sick.

That is essentially claiming we are in control of God's actions.

This is bad theology and bad promises. It is based on presumption not faith.We do not control God so we cannot control the outcomes that depend on His sovereign will.We cannot decide on a goal by our own logic and then hold God accountable to do it. Good intentions and the ability to dream are not within our power to achieve.

I trust God in all things regardless of the outcomes. If it rains or does not rain. If the crops fail or prosper. If I am healed or get worse. God is my source of love and hope.

Support us by donating here.

How Can we Impact so Many that Need God?

Over the last few years we have seen a flood of pain, sickness, addictions and domestic abuse in the Eastern Bloc led by the USSR. They had been the second world power to the USA but it was falling apart socially, culturally and spiritually. For 70 years Communists thugs had attacked the churches, killed the best leaders and wiped out families who had talents and skills because they were able to achieve more than others!

The results of atheism and anti-religious fanaticism was predictable. For the first time in history, a western nation saw a decrease in the life expectancy and population growth. It was a terrible crisis, at least ten times worse than anything we had seen in America; even our inner cities.

God showed some of us that we were to go and minister to those broken people. WHY? What could we do to help 200 million people, most of whom were suffering from massive Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

I was a Counselor. Should we open an office and help as many people as possible? We had an in-patient clinic for addiction and psychotherapy. There were millions of addicts. Should we open a hospital in Moscow or St. Petersburg?

We had written several books and developed videos to teach people about healthy Christian living. Millions needed that teaching. Should we write and develop videos?

Should we plant a church? The Communists had killed over 100,000 Pastors and Priests and the need for churches was terrific.

Should we start a graduate school?

Millions needed to hear the gospel. Should we buy a big tent and travel from town to town preaching, healing and giving Bibles away?

Where should we start? Jesus faced a similar situation when He came to earth 2,000 year ago. It was a brutal, illness filled, area of hostility, war, persecution, rape, domestic abuse and addictions. What was His model for changing the world? Did it work? Want to read ahead? Get my books that are on sale now so you can see how to change the world. See The Healing Release of the Holy Spirit as a starter.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Thanks for the Birthday Blessings

Peter heard God say, "Take eat from the whole world and leave the old ways behind." So did I.

So many great memories flood my mind as I read the several dozen, over a hundred, birthday blessings from all over the world. I love to hear from my friends old and new.

They remind me of the incredibly rich life I have been given by the Lord. I was reared in poverty along with all my neighbors in a depression era village that sent her soldiers off to war when I was a baby.

From that meager beginning I have been able to travel to many nations and develop deep friendships with people from every socioeconomic and religious background. I discovered that peaceful relationships are possible with every person regardless of background when we interact with mercy and grace that projects respect for each individual.

A young woman in my classes in Asia asked, "Dr. Gary did you always want to be a Christian Missionary and fly around the world to equip people like us"? I knew this question probably came from teaching that we need to have a big vision and big plans.

I said, "I always wanted to be a Missionary but it never occurred to me that I could fly around to different nations and equip Christians to serve the Lord."

When I became a teacher and counselor it never occurred to me that God would use my education to train others to do Soul Care. But God is a very creative Father and I learned to simply respond to His call rather than act on traditions that rejected medical and psychological research.

So, thanks for your affirmations that confirm my choices to leave professional, secular things behind so I could focus my attention of moving with the Spirit.

Maybe God is not finished with me yet.




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Speaking to the Lord in Prayer

There are 3 kinds of common prayers that we need to implement in our walk with the Lord.

Seeking Prayers that recognize the fact that "W can do more focused prayers when we first ask God's Spirit to guide us since we "Do not know how to pray..."

The second is "Speaking Prayers that we cover today. After Seeking God's direction, we can speak to the Lord more directly about the things the Holy Spirit has revealed. We can have confidence that we are on target when God had directed us how to pray.

Speaking Prayers

I usually do not respond directly to the Seeker in my intersession but seek God's direction and then focus as I am Directed.  There have been many times when we prayed for people and were directed to go in a direction not desired or even wanted by the Seeker.

One of the most useful spiritual gifts we can receive as a prayer team is discernment. Others key gifts are wisdom and knowledge. (See I Corinthians 12, 13, 14.) If a Seeker has an unknown or hidden problem the Holy Spirit can reveal it to us so it can be removed as a block to an desired answer.

We usually pray and pause to ask the Seeker if anything is stirring in them physically, mentally, or emotionally. I recently asked for prayers for my neuropothy and the woman leading the team prayed specifically for more oxygen to flow in my legs. She did not know that is a big issue with neuropothy.

So, relax and understand that We do not even know how to pray but God does and can direct us. Be humble and receive what the Holy Spirit gives us.

Here are some eBooks and materials on ways to bless others.

You Can Help Us Remember A Great Young Man

Last Sunday I attended the memorial service for Ethan Roser, age 20. Ethan was the son of Mark and Pat Roser who served the Lord in Zimbabwe for over 20 years.

Ethan was attending Wheaton College when he was struck by a iron bar from a hammer throw at the college track and field event. He was a stellar young man that touched many people in his young life.

Mark Roser served on the Sweeten Life Board and we want to encourage you to support their memorial to their son by donating to the Ethan Roser Ministry Scholarship. Send them to Uttermost Missions, P.O. Box 499024, Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Three Crucial Ways to Pray

There are three kinds of prayer. Seeking Prayer, Speaking Prayer and Soaking Prayer. 

Seeking Prayers get us started. We Seek the leading and discernment of the Spirit  first thing. 

Second, after hearing the directions from the Spirit, we know what to Speak to the Lord about. 

Finally, some issues demand ongoing, intense, Soaking Prayers. 

Seeking Prayers emphasize the importance of listening carefully to the Holy Spirit as well as the person in need. We have one ear focused on the Spirit and the other on the Seeker. This gives us an idea of how to best speak. 

Rosalind Rinker called this process“Dialogue Prayer”. She was the very first person I ever read who talked about the three ways to pray.  She was a Baptist Missionary and saw the need to hear God direct her very early on in her placement overseas. 

As we dialogue with the Lord and the Seeker the best ways to Speak to the Lord becomes clearer. As St. Paul reminded us in Romans 8:26, 27.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. 

We are really ignorant about how to pray. To assume that I know what to pray for is a direct contradiction of scripture. But, thankfully we have a Counselor who prays for us in accordance with the will of God. This awesome Counselor has wisdom, love and understanding. 

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26 GRS)

To assume knowledge of the outcomes of prayer can lead arrogance and pride. Even Jesus was unaware of God’s perfect will in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Into thy hands I commit my spirit for it is not my will but thy will.

 And He taught us to pray:  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Seeking Prayers also listen to the person in need. We cannot know the root needs of a Seeker unless we let them speak honestly. However, we admit we do not hear well for listening behind the words is necessary. “Be slow to speak and quick to hear,” St. James says. Relax and allow the Lord to guide and the Seeker to open his heart. 

Faith activities need to maximize every one of the factors. Any suggestion about prayer, Holy Communion, scripture reading, etc must be done in love with the GREW skills of Genuine concern, Respect for the patient, Empathy and clear understanding of her interests and concerns and Warm non verbals taking center stage. Any time the helper’s behavior contradicts GREW damages the patient’s health. See my book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty  

Ministers and Churches in Crisis

There is a new organization located here in Cincinnati that is focused on supporting Ministers and churches. Their goal is to help them grow and prosper in every way.

You can learn all about it here at The Center for Church Leadership story.

We at Sweeten Life Systems have been blessed to work with The Center to plan and implement a series of equipping events and webinars. If you or your Minister wants to learn how to overcome some of the main barriers to thriving, you can consider getting in touch with the Center to explore  how it can benefit you.

You can support Sweeten Life and get our materials, books, and videos here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Great Communion Hymn

God and Man at Table are sat Down, by Travis Cottrell 

O, welcome, all ye noble saints of old
As now before your very eyes unfold
The wonders all so long ago foretold.
God and man at table are sat down.
Worship in the presence of the Lord
With joyful songs and hearts in one accord.
And let our Host at table be adored.
God and man at table are sat down.
Elders, martyrs, all are falling down;
Prophets, patriarchs are gath’ring round.
What angels longed to see now man has found:
God and man at table are sat down.
Beggars, lame, and harlots also here;
Repentant publicans are drawing near.
Wayward sons come home without a fear.
God and man at table are sat down.
Who is this who spreads the vic’try feast?
Who is this who makes our warring cease?
Jesus, Risen Savior, Prince of Peace.
God and man at table are sat down.
When at last this earth shall pass away,
When Jesus and his Bride are one to stay,
The feast of love is just begun that day.
God and man at table are sat down
Here He gives Himself to us as bread.
Here as wine we drink the blood He shed.
Born to die, we eat and live instead.
God and man at table are sat down.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Families Face Serious Stresses with Sickness

I grew up in a family that had to face enormous stresses and strains because of accidents, illnesses, and trauma. As a result I have enormous compassion toward similar families today. I am sure I would not have become a Counselor and Minister if my childhood had not been so strongly impacted by serious mental, emotional, and physical problems.

These families are all around us here in Ohio as well as around the USA and the world. Research from the Department of health indicates that some 20% or 1/5 of all families with children struggle with serious health concerns. When we add adults and seniors to the mix the percentages go up accordingly.

Here are some ways health issues impact a family.

1. When one member suffers with health issues we all suffer. Every disease/disability impacts every family member.

2. Many of the families are isolated from normal, supportive relationships.

3. Few, if any, receive visits, concerns, and prayer from their church and its Ministers.

4. They suffer from severe stresses, exhaustion, and anxiety.

5. Other family members are often neglected, left out, and overwhelmed.

6. They need and want fellowship, friendship, and basic support but rarely get it.

Our new Ministry, Family EQ, is designed to support these families. Go to the web page here. The link may attempt to send you to but stick with Remember!!! It is US!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Song Miriam sang after God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptian army as the faced the barrier of the Red Sea. God laid a trap for the Pharaoh. He opened the waters and allowed Moses and the people cross. Then, just as the chariots arrived in the gap, God caused the seas to collapsed on them. They drowned as a result.

It is an entirely appropriate song for Easter.

                I Will Sing Unto the Lord
                 Exodus 15

                        I will sing unto the Lord
For he has triumphed gloriously
The horse and the rider thrown into the sea
The Lord, my God, my strength, my song
Has now become my victory
The Lord is God and I will praise him
My Father is God and I will exalt him
I will exalt him

When we had a house church near the UC campus, our group loved to sing it and rejoice. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jesus Was Angry! Why

When Jesus, the sisters of Lazarus, and his entourage approached the tomb of Lazarus, his dead friend, he was "Deeply moved!" 

What does that mean? 

He was mad. He was angry. He was upset. He was overwhelmed and furious.

At who or what?

Death! The grief reaction of Jesus was not just to the loss of His friend. He had lost many people possibly even Joseph, His earthly father. But this was different.

Jesus was showing His opposition to death. Jesus was often called "The Great Physician". He was famous for healing the sick, cleaning the lepers, and removing spirits. This resurrection of Lazarus was one of many times Jesus showed His power over the evil of the world. But it is different.

In my view, Jesus is showing His future resurrection by this resurrection. As Jesus approached the tomb He Snorted like a war horse! He was at war with death.

A war horse had to be well trained to go into war and attack the enemy. Horses naturally react with fear to noise, mobs, and fighting men. But not a war horse and not Jesus. He became like a war horse, unafraid of the battle and He charged to deal death a blow.

And He shouted "Lazarus! Come out of there."

And Lazarus came forth, all bound up with the grave clothes and the signs of death.

Go to Sweeten Life to learn more about healing and change. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jesus Had Deep Feelings

The story of Lazarus is a fascinating one. He was a close friend of Jesus as were Mary and Martha his sisters. They lived in Bethany which is only two miles from Jerusalem and it appears that Jesus and His crew often stopped by for tea and crumpets.

The unforgettable story of the resurrection of Lazarus is told in John 11.  

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” ...

But, strangely, Jesus delayed His visit to Bethany until after Lazarus had died and was buried. When Jesus did show up Mary said, "Lord, had you been here our brother would not have died."

Jesus and she then interacted about death and resurrection. 

 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, 
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

They proceeded to the home where Martha met them and both sisters and friends were weeping.When Jesus saw this He felt deeply! What emotions do you suppose Jesus was feeling? 
Grief, sympathy, compassion? Yes, maybe. But a deeper look at the original languages reveals that Jesus was angry. Yes Mad, even Furious! 

Why do you suppose He was so upset? What caused such an unusual reaction? Stay tuned for "The rest of the story tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Sacrifice or His?

As you may know from my past history, I am loathe to teach and preach about the importance of my sacrifice and my works for Christ because it tends to reduce the sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah. As a result, I spoke recently about how the 12 Apostles and the 70 Disciples kept failing to do what Jesus said, yet, the Rabbi used their flops to keep teaching and correcting them.

But I must have really failed to communicate that key point very well. I suppose the point I was trying to make applies to me as well as the original followers of Jesus.

After my message, several people came up to chat about their insights and questions. I really enjoy the Q&A because it shows me where I hit the target and where I missed it.

One mature Christian lady approached me with a story about recently hearing a similar story from her Minister. His conclusion was that Easter shows us how much we need to sacrifice because Jesus sacrificed for us.

I immediately thought, "I must have missed the mark in that talk because I was trying to say the opposite. Easter is all about the fact that, as the old song says:

"Jesus paid it all.
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow."

Jesus faced death twice at this time and He alone defeated it twice. How can we read those stories about the authority of Jesus, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and still insist that WE have anything to do with defeating, death, disease, and demonic evil?

For those of you who think you must do something to complete the war against evil, please read John 11 - 21 again and see who is King and who is not.

If you want to know how to strive harder to help Jesus out, do not read my materials.

If you want to understand how Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, go to Sweeten Life web page. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Speaking Palm Sunday

I get to speak Sunday morning at Vineyard Northwest in Colerain on Round top Road. Come and visit. From what I hear the service will be full of Holy Spirit surprises and blessings.

I will buy a free cup of coffee for anyone that has heard my particular take on Jesus and Lazarus! I think it will blow you away and allow you to see how Jesus relates to us in a very different manner.

It was just one of the great surprises and challenges Jesus faced as he prepared to leave this earth.

Visiting the Sick

The acrostic FAITH will guide a brief interview with a patient whom you know as a co worker or distant neighbor but not as a practicing  Christian that is open to the work of the Spirit. You would like to pray for him or her but want to be sensitive to them and not come across as too pushy. 

In your conversation, you can cover the following topics not as direct questions but more as open ended discussions. 

F: Faith A faith in God, a higher power. Listen for  description. Prayer patterns. service attendance,  faith? Doubts?

A: Asking for an intervention. Open to prayer for healing, health or assistance in your struggle with this illness? How do you do that? Are you comfortable with someone praying with your illness?

I: Interacting with a community of faith? Do you attend services, a small group or a have a mentor? How often? Is it helpful? 

T: Trust in God’s love? Are problems the result of punishment or guilt? Feel good during illness?

H: How do you want people to relate to your faith and spiritual practices? Chaplain? Prayers? Materials? Alert your pastor or spiritual adviser?
 Spiritual Interventions for Chaplains and Pastors

Carefully approach the issue of suggesting a spiritual intervention. Make sure you are:

  1. Loving with Genuine concern for the person; Respect the person; Empathy for the situation by listening carefully; Warmth with sensitive seating, touch and smiles. Do not stay too long.
  2. Respect a patient’s worldview, beliefs, values, preferences and practices. Some may not think it is appropriate for anyone other than a priest or pastor to pray for them.
  3. A peaceful presence reduces anxiety.
  4. Deal with issues with sufficient time to integrate your ideas into their recovery. Do not open up an issue unless there is enough time to bring it to a close.
  5. Mobilize the patient’s support system. Do not ask the Seeker to engage in behavior that is contrary to his family and church.
  6. Offers hope for the future. Increasing faith and hope develops good aftercare.
  7. Avoid guilt and shame. No condemnation or pressure. 
  8. Be consistent with the patient’s motivational level. Ask for permission to pray, offer scripture or make any other intervention.
  9. Mobilize positive belief and faith. Encourage Seekers to believe that change is possible.
  10. Is sensitive to the rules of the hospital or home.
All our written and digital materials attempt to promote these values. You can get them here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A National Scandal in the White House

The Twitterverse went nuts.

MSNBC was almost catatonic with shock.

Senator Schumer called for an immediate resignation and a Special Prosecutor.

Two Congressional Committees have been called to investigate the occurrences which are occurring more frequently every week it has been reported.

The Feminist Bikers have called for another March for Freedom and released a memo called the VP shameless, and anti-woman.

The DNC has called for impeachment and former President Clinton has called for laws demanding that Trump  increase the educational budget for training preschoolers about the dangers of following in the footsteps of such anti-American values.  


The charges are raw. Ask the children to leave the room in case and adult reads them aloud.

There are three main charges.
1. VP Pence never takes a woman to lunch or dinner alone without having his wife along.

MS Magazine just ran a special edition of 600 pages writing a series on "Men and Power who Batter their Wives!" Mr. Silver of the Times is using his IT skills to dig out the times an emergency bus has been called to the Pence home on Super Bowl Sunday when so may wives are battered by men high on testosterone after watching other men get hit in the Super Bowl.

2. VP Pence will not attend parties where alcohol is served without his "Love Slave" Mrs. Pence being at his side. That is totally callous and a lack of concern for her welfare having to breathe in second hand alcohol fumes.

3. VP Pence brags that Mrs. Pence is his,.........."wait-wait-wait" PRAYER Partner!!!!!!!!

This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. Does VP Pence not KNOW he is a Govt. Employee!!!??? Pray? He is not allowed to pray. What could be next? Singing Hymns?

I am sending a petition for you to sign. Print it out, sign on the line saying, "I pledge to send $100,00 per month to the group promoting this petition.

Thanks and happy days are here again!


U-ben Had