Monday, September 11, 2017

Ground Zero

Four of us from Life Way Counseling Centers spent a few days at Ground Zero. It was just two weeks after the shameful attack on civilians by pagan cowards.  Two of us had the shift from 1:00 AM until 1:00 PM, usually described as the "Graveyard Shift" and it was anything but a quiet and docile time. 

The three tents were placed just a couple of blocks from the downed towers and the air was filled with tiny bits of their remains. One night I sat next to the morgue tent that sat empty but expectant of being filled with the bodies of men and women brought out of the carnage. But none came because everything had been atomized when a hundred weighty floors fell. 

While there I, as a Chaplain/Counselor, was able to listen to the long, painful stories of police and firemen who worked day and night to recover their family members, colleagues, and friends. 

We were all sad to look ahead and see the reality of wars to come to eliminate the evil men that planned such a horrible event. Here we are today mourning the fact that more good men and women have lost their lives and homes as the result of bitterness and hate unleashed on our nation. 

One of the jobs of a Christian like me is to lead people that have suffered to leave their bitterness behind by following the teachings of Jesus to forgive. Ground Zero is an example of what happens when people have no faith leaders that teach redemption and starting over. 

Our Father who art in heaven 
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses 
As we forgive those who have trespassed against us. 
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from the evil one.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. 

Let us pray this often; even daily.

Gary Sweeten

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Serenity Prayers for the Myers-Briggs Types

Those who know the Myers Briggs will enjoy this.
  • ISTJ - God, help me to begin relaxing about little details tomorrow at 11:41:32 am
  • ISFJ - Lord, help me to be more laid back, and help me to do it exactly right
  • INFJ - Lord, help me not be a perfectionist (Did I spell that right?)
  • INTJ - Lord, keep me open to others' ideas, wrong though they may be
  • ISTP - God, help me to consider people's feelings, even if most of them are hypersensitive
  • ISFP - Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if You don't mind my asking)
  • INFP - Lord, help me to finish everything I sta
  • INTP - Lord, help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.
  • ESTP - God, help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they're usually not my fault
  • ESFP - God, help me to take things more seriously especially parties and dancing
  • ENFP - God, help me keep my mind on one thing - Look, a bird - at a time.
  • ENTP - God, help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I'll settle for a few minutes
  • ESTJ - God, help me to try not to run everything, but if You need some help, just ask.
  • ESFJ - Lord, give me patience and I mean right now
  • ENFJ - God, help me to do only what I can and trust You for the rest. Do You mind putting that in writing?
  • ENTJ - God, help me to slow downandnotrushthroughwhatId

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Confusion about Leadership

Bob Robinson is a Great Servant Business Leader

The number of articles, books, and conferences with "Leadership" in the title indicates several thing to me. 1. The need for leaders is great. 2. Need for people already in positions of "leadership" are not very effective and want to learn how to improve. 3. A lot of people think they know something about leading and are eager to lecture the rest of us. 4. Nobody knows what leadership is and everybody is scrambling to find out. 5. ___________________ Fill in the blank.

I have a "pet peeve" on the topic. I think there is great confusion about leadership and many times people are stuck in positions where leadership is needed and required but they are over their heads. Leading, to me, indicates a gift of facilitating a movement of people and ministry toward a mission, a vision, and a goal.

That can be a big problem in churches if the designated leader, the Minister/Preacher is a gifted talker but lousy at leading. Steve Griebling and I were consulting with a church of about 1200 people several years ago. The Preacher was chosen because he was a terrific speaker that drew Christians to hear him by droves. However, he had no ability to lead the organization. He preached at every board meeting, staff meeting, and committee meeting. In a congregation of over 1,000 people he had never even led a committee planning meeting successfully.

Yet, he faithfully attended high power leadership training conferences at the suggestion of his Elders who desperately wanted him to improve his leadership skills. Every conference was filled with great speakers that gave him five to ten points of leading. They did not know how t lead either, but they knew how to preach.

We learn how to lead big organizations by trying our skills out at home and in small groups. 

I. Timothy 1-7 If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. 

He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? 

He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap.

In fact, I think that few persons gifted in Preaching are also gifted in leading.  Find people gifted, talented, educated, and experienced in LEADING in home, house church, committee, staff, and Elder meetings and place them as the daily leader. 

Want to lead, teach, or minister? Go here to learn. 

Selective Outrage at Evil?

A Wall Street Journal article said: "For the record, of the 20th century’s malign ideologies, Nazi ideas of who should be murdered and why strike me as slightly more odious and frightful than Maoist or Stalinist ideas of who should be murdered and why. The applicability to current U.S. events is slender, though."
This confuses me. Why is mass murder because of race ethnicity/ religion worse than mass murder because of class/ economics? 
Today's mass murder of people with a disability, being unwanted, or being an inconvenience seems just as evil to me. 
Is there a difference in the morality of Leftist Nazis and Leftists Communists? 
Both violate the Commandment, "Thou shalt not murder". 
Both hate their neighbors.

Neither honors their fathers and mothers.

See our web for love!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Can't Forgive?

Those that are engaged in Past Pain will be stuck in the present and unable to think about the future.

Come to Be Trained as a Mentor

We get to do it again! For the third year we will train adults to Befriend high school kids. The goal is to be a caring, supportive adult to a young person. That alone can encourage them to take positive steps toward achieving more in life.

If you have some warm friendship to plant as a positive seed in a kid's life, try it.  98% of the Mentors we trained last time said they loved the training and the practice of helping the young men and women. It helped them personally and in their volunteer work other places. 

And, it will last forever! 

Come and join in the fun and challenge of helping a young man or woman make it in life. 

You can find other information here.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

Gifts, Talents, and Personalities on a Team

We had terrific people on our staff at College Hill Presbyterian. The gifts, talents, interests, and temperaments were varied and we worked hard to communicate. It is not easy for each and every member to be included and needed. All of us took the MBTI and discussed it in many staff meetings. We had a lot of fun and it helped us reduce irrational conflicts. 

Conflicts and anger are inevitable, but bitterness is optional. Jerry was a great communicator and we enjoyed each other despite some big differences in type. 

We also wanted our sermons, teachings, and writings to take the Personality Preferences of our audience into account. We tended to add time for silence and some quiet music for Introverts in services but that often resulted in the High Extroverts being fidgety. 

Since over 85%of Ministers nationally are Extroverted iNtuitive Feelers, a staff must work hard on communication when others are wildly different. Thankfully, not everyone was an N or F. As a result, we had a good balance. 

Go to Sweeten Life for more interesting stuff unless you want to stay unhappy! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Personality Preference at Work and Church

During my years at College Hill Church, several thousand people took the MBTI as well as the Spiritual Gifts Check List. We asked 
all new members, small groups, ministry teams, Deacons, Elders, and staff to take each one and discuss how they thought it helped them find a place  to fit into a church ministry. 

We also taught about how these self assessments could help them at home, at work, and life. I still get notes and comments about how much the teachings helped them in family life. Since some were quiet Introverts, we developed group processes to help the quiet ones to speak when they want! 

We asked the strong Extroverts to make sure they pause and encourage the Introverts time to get a word into the conversation. Extroverts can certainly dominate any discussion unless we intentionally open the door for a quiet I!

If you are not using some check-list like the MBTI, Strength Finders, or the Enneagram I suggest you start. It can be liberating and a lot of fun, especially when everyone takes part. Add the Spiritual Gifts Check List and discuss how they fit together.

Go to my web page for more information about healthy living.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Cross Cultural Communications at Home

Humans are diamonds created in the image of God with many facets and places we can interact with love or clash over differences. Let the Light of God shine through every facet!

When Dr. Winter taught us about the various Levels of Cross Cultural Communication I was struck by how hard it is to communicate accurately and positively in my own family. I did not need to fly across salt water to discover the challenges of miscommunication. I had seen it with my parents, brothers, wife, and children. It is the cause of most angry conflicts and divorces in marriages as well as the cause as most church splits.

Karen and I attended a conference back in 1974 that introduced us to the Myers-Briggs Personality Preference Self-Assessment. (As a Therapist I cannot call it a Test.) The MBTI allows people to check preferences for things like Extroversion or Introversion, Structured or Spontaneous, etc. As a result we came back to CHPC and started asking friends to use the preference check list so we could discuss our similarities and differences. It was a blast!

When we developed the Teleios Wholeness Center at CHPC we used the MBTI to foster better interpersonal communication  between and among our Lay Helpers and the people that came to Teleios for prayer. We discovered that knowing people had different Temperaments made communication easier and understanding faster.
Julie: INFJ

As I aged I was able to develop a stronger J Structure because being  High P Spontaneous does not help me get things done fast. 

Knowing these tendencies helped us communicate better but not perfectly. Knowing that Introverts can be drained when with people and Extroverts can get energized by others, helped us understand and reduce miscommunication and blaming.  

Harmony at home and church will pay off big time in outreach, evangelism, church growth, and reducing anger and judgmentalism. Get our equipping materials to help you grow. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cross Cultural Communication and Influence

Several years ago, Dr. Ralph Winter, founder of the US Center for World Mission, came to our church for a weekend missions conference. He and his family had been missionaries for years and discovered that he had needed more and better training to communicate with positive influence in a different culture.

As a Counselor that insight made a lot of sense to me because our training had said the same thing about the importance of understanding people that are different from us so we could better help them grow and heal.

Dr. Winter also gave us a way to think about reaching out beyond ourselves to others. He laid out four different levels of cross cultural communication.

Missions Level I:
Communicating to the people in our own church and culture. Since this certainly includes different age groups and different sexes, accurate, appropriate, and influential communication also requires understanding even at this level.
Men and Women are different
Singles and marrieds are different
Parents and non-parents are different
Generations are different
Family backgrounds are different
Human experiences are different
Race and ethnicity are different
Socioeconomic experiences are different
Educational experiences are different
Theological convictions are different
Other differences?

So, accurate, appropriate, communication that is positively influential demands sensitivity even in a church congregation. The key to great communication is an ability to relate with the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love, Joy, Gentleness, Kindness, Patience, etc.

The most important thing leaders can do to foster shalom in a congregation is to teach the skills of peaceful relationships at home, work, church, and community. Listen, for Heaven's Sake!

Want to learn about these skills?  Go to our web page and get our materials. They can help you grow in caring.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our Love Can Heal People that Dislike Us

The late Dr. David McClelland of Harvard University was an expert on inner motivation and healing. He researched the impact of Mother Teresa on a group of students. He set it up so they watched a film about her to see its impact. He wanted to discover whether she influenced people in a positive manner. 
Before the film, Dr. McClelland wanted to find out how the students felt about her as a Nun doing good deeds. He discovered that some of the students appreciated and affirmed her ministry. Other students were "turned off by her religiosity." This gave him a base line to test them afterward to see I their beliefs going in made a difference.   

The way Dr. McClelland judged Mother Teresa’s impact was very interesting. He did a pre- and post-test analysis of the immunoglobin A secreted in each student's saliva.  

He said; “We decided to work with movies of healers, to see if a film could transmit the feeling of caring and loving and then see if that had positive effects on the immune system and it did." The following dialogue between the interviewer and Dr. McClelland is fascinating.

Dr. McClelland:  If you watch this documentary on Mother Teresa you see that in addition to performing an incredible service, she is also a wonderful person.
Interviewer:  It really comes through, this love and caring that she has.  I'm tempted to call it divine love and caring.

Dr McClelland:  Exactly.  Not everyone reacts to it consciously as you and I do, but the interesting thing is that their bodies react anyway.  The curious thing is that their opinions of the movie in no way related to whether their immune functions improved.  

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the body's first defense against cold viruses.  We found that salivary IgA increased even in people who disliked Mother Teresa...[S]he was contacting these consciously disapproving people in a part of their brains that they were unaware of and that was still responding to the strength of her tender loving care...[B]elief in the healer is [not] necessary to get healed.  At the conscious level a person may not believe at all, but at the unconscious level, something in the person may still respond to the healer.

Interviewer:  What was it that correlates to the release of IgA?

Dr. McClelland:  The students who responded to Mother Teresa by releasing IgA in their saliva have motives of "doing something positive to help someone, or to establish a love relationship.” But the curious part of it is that the person is not invested in the outcome of the thing.  There are no statements about anxiety of tension if it fails. (People of Peace.)

Interviewer:  The unconditional love?
Dr. McClelland:  That's right, unconditional is exactly the same sense as Mother Teresa's activity is unconditional.  She's asked in the film "How can you expend all this energy on these dying babies when you know that they are going to die anyway?"  

And she says that it is irrelevant, that whether they live or die isn't important to the act of love.  It's a variation on the old instrumental argument if you are in love with somebody because of what it gets you somehow it isn't love. Traditional healing and religion [always] stress non-involved striving.  I mean, striving without being concerned about the outcome.  

We have a computer label. We call it ‘div luv’ for divine love, but obviously we can't use that terminology for science.  I wish that somebody would give me a nice name for it.

This report gives us a real insight into the power of love. Loving behavior can bring positive changes even to observer. Mother Teresa was able to touch people deeply even through a film.  

Her love and grace caused a positive physiological response even in people who consciously disliked her.  This is a stunningly profound way to show that God's love impacts non-believers. Of course, we are not at the level of Mother Teresa but with God’s grace, truth, and love flowing through us, the impact can be wonderful. This must be at least part of what the Scripture means when it says “Jesus went about doing good."

Dr. McClelland found that love in both the seeker and the caregiver was important. This is not to say that God cannot use His supernatural power to heal someone's broken body or emotion despite their lack of love. It is obvious that God can heal anyone at any time. However, motivation is important in both people.   

It helps me better understand people who relapse from illnesses, addictions, and spiritual growth. Could it be that they did not appropriate God’s healing because of their own a lack of love? Jesus said in the Model Prayer that to be forgiven we must also forgive those who have wronged us.

Is this research pointing to the reasons why Jesus taught forgiveness?
Does this have an implication for a new definition of faith?
Does blessing people with peace bring healing?
How do we help people develop more peace and love?
If we love and serve others unselfishly will our health improve? 

As Jesus said in Luke 10. “Go meet people and bless them with peace”. That alone will bring healing to a fallen world. We need to learn to love and you learn to heal and develop places where there is no condemnation or rejection. Places of peace and serenity. Places where people are like Jesus and “Do good things as we go about the places we live and work. So, when people come in contact with us they will feel better and their bodies will react positively even if they disagree with us.

This report is a summary of the full article found in “The effect of motivational arousal through films on salivary immunoglobulin A by David C. McClelland and Carol Kirshnit” Psychology & Health Vol. 2. Issue 1, 1988

Want more love and more power? 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What it Takes to Bring Peace to People

                                                                    Facebook Bombs!

I have been examining my Facebook posts and comments to see if I have been following the scripture passages below.  For the most part I have been OK, but not always. I am posting it for myself and anyone else that wants to be a peacemaker not a troublemaker.  Many of the posts are fostering anger and division, I fear. 

The single greatest reason folks divorce in America is an inability to resolve differences large and small.  Differences can be resolved when we have the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Contentment: At peace with myself, the world and God. Complaints mean we are unhappy and want something in life to change.  The only way to bring positive changes is to complain so complaints are good.

Being out of step with my spouse, however, brings distress that causes us to lose our contentment. There are two ways to handle a Complaint. Handling them with love builds trust and a deep relationship, but that is difficult. It is tempting to attempt to be right and prove the other person wrong.
Ephesians 414Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
    17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor. 26"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.

29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Positive Attitudes----------------------------------------------------------Negative Attitudes

Let's Fight

Over the past few years our social fabric has been frayed and fraying. People are so raw that the slightest comment can start a war. When we see people jump angrily at what may seem to be very innocent statements we know that we are overly sensitive.

A week or so ago a Satire Web page put up a ridiculous piece about two famous preachers signing a contract for over 100 million dollars. The internet was set ablaze by people in Twitter and Facebook who attacked both preachers for their greed and heretical positions

It was satire! It was a joke!

Could Jesus teach with parables today without being accused of terrible thought crimes? One time when the Disciples were fighting over who was the greatest and best on the team, Jesus took a little child as an example of the people who could get into His Kingdom.

A simple picture of humility? You are so naive. It might seem to be child abuse today!

Whose child was it?

Did Jesus get permission to use that kid in His teaching?

Did He pay royalties?

Was is sexual harassment?

If a Democrat makes a reasonable comment about history some tiny, radical, permanently aggrieved group will attack him.

If a Republican makes a joke about Putin some radical leftists will say he is on the staff of the KJB!

Chill out! Great reactivity is a sign of gross immaturity and it seems that we have a nation of crybabies.

Pray for peace. Go over the statements by St. Francis and ask God for a peaceful heart and tongue.

Go to my web page for materials on growing up as adults.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Praying for Peace for Individuals

Last week I posted the Prayer of St. Francis and suggested we pray it for others. Lord, Make me an instrument of peace as I relate to my wife, _________.

St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant the I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.


Then go through the entire prayer that way for her.

Start over each day and look for her to have more signs of peace.

Do this for a week.

I asked a couple a few weeks ago to practice the prayer with each other and their three children. It had a wonderfully positive impact on the whole family with the exception of one child. Four out of five family members had improved peace.

Try the Lord and see what happens then let me know.

Go to our web if you need more great, uplifting support.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Thank God for Healing

I have written many time on this blog about the need for inner healing in the churches so people can be set free from ,many adult diseases and addictions. The notion that the answer to the heroine problem is simply too many people taking prescription medication is ignoring a lot of research data. For example, see this article.

Addiction is caused by inner pain that is reduced by drugs and other substances, behavior, and ideas. I can get dependent on medication but I will not get addicted.

I understand why the government is focusing on medication. It is an easy target. It is something an official can manage to appear to be successful at controlling. But it will fail.

Prayer, counseling, and understanding the root causes is essential so I beg every Christian to learn how to help people with deep, psychological pain. Get this book and it can assist you.   How to be Me in My Family Tree and Breaking Free will assist you.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lord Grant Me Serenity

Serenity Prayer

Pastor Reinhold Niebuhr

God, grant me the serenity to accept
The things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time:
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace:
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it:
Trusting that you will make all things right
If I surrender to your will:
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

And supremely happy with you in the next

Part of this famous prayer of Serenity is used by Recovery Groups around the world to find peace for any person who is struggling with stress, fears, anxiety, and cannot find rest. 

Anyone following the current political frenzy and insanity in Washington, DC will find the prayer essential.

To read more about finding a calm mind, get my PDF book called Power Christian Thinking.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Peace, Peace, Pray for Peace

St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant the I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.


One of the most important things we focus on in our writings and teachings is PEACE. Jesus thought Peace was so important that He blessed His followers with it just before the final time in Jerusalem. Jesus also sent His Disciples out to preach by telling them to "Go as lambs among wolves and bless them with peace".  When we as lambs face the wolves in life we need the peace of the Holy Spirit. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Insanity is Spreading

The reality of what we call "Post Modern Philosophy" has overtaken our society in many places. We can see it in the inability of many people to tell right from wrong, good from bad,  facts from fantasy, and  good. In fact, the prevailing foundation of life is under attack from those who say, "There is not such thing as truth or Facts. Everything is simply a part of the way we see things.

For a long time I saw these ideas as so ridiculous that they would never take hold. but was I ever wrong. This is the basis of the Political Correctness wave of thinking that controls the media, the educational system, and much of psychology. It is even threatening our faith.

Can you see how it might be impacting your life? Let me offer a couple of quick examples. Some years ago I was coaching a Christian employer how to defend himself against the bogus and ridiculous charges of "emotional abuse" by an employee. They arose from his moving her to a different desk in the office that was not as close to the front door.

At the hearing, the facts were presented and the employee did not disagree with them. However, she felt misused and abused by the move and demanded a large amount of money because she was "victimized". The person from the Department of Labor who was overseeing the process said, "If she feels misused and abused, she was misused and abused."

Feelings are always more important than facts in Post Modern, PC  world. Victims must be protected and whenever any one or any group claims victimization, they must be believed and must receive some kind of recompense for their pain.

Do you remember the terrorist in Canada? He killed one person and severely wounded another. The Premier set him free and gave him millions of Dollars. He claimed to be "victimized" and Trudeau gave in.

Is there truth? Are there facts?

See our materials for real facts.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Christian Brand worth Billions

The headline I saw in the Wall Street Journal this morning really grabbed my attention. It was:

After Jacques Hamel’s murder, his archbishop asked God for help loving his enemies.

Fr. Jacques was Roman Catholic Priest in France murdered by Islamic terrorists. Afterward, the Premier of France called the Archbishop and said, in my paraphrase, "Please, let us discuss what to say before you go public. I do not want national riots. What will you say?" He answered

"I will ask God for help in loving my enemies".

What a great Christ inspired response. I am unsure If I could have replied with such mercy and grace myself.

The Archbishop is blessed because he is a peacemaker.

May God give us the strength to be peacemakers.

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.