Friday, December 7, 2018

Donations for Senior Citizens


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

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

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Bullies Be Gone!





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

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

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

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


Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Testimony to One of God's Chosen



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

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

Here was my brief statement in 2000. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kids that Fail to Act




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

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

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


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Mass Hysteria and American Politics



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Crisis in Care for Chronically Ill People






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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Recovery from Trauma




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Out of the Roots Come the Fruits






I led a healing prayer service at our church for several years and people came for prayer for a wide variety of complaints. One lady, I will call Ellen, came with a request that her complaint be kept confidential. As a Minister I assured her that whatever she told us in confidence would stay that way.

Ellen poured out her story of sexual abuse and trauma by family members from childhood until she left home. She was about 20 pounds over weight and suffered from nightmares, depression and a fear of men. I hesitated to simply pray for her because her symptoms were so severe. After listening intently to her long list of traumatic events and current symptoms I asked if she had considered therapy. "Oh yes. I have been in therapy for years but all my Psychiatrist does is give me drugs. I need healing."

My female partner that night was Marie and we anointed the lady and prayed for healing of memories. Afterward, Ellen was dramatically relieved and explained that during the prayers she had felt a warm feeling inside of her chest. We suggested that she come back several times to get more "Soaking Prayer" since her trauma was so deep and long term in development.

Can you imagine how many adults are carrying around memories of deep trauma and distrust as a result of the betrayal of the evil Priests who violated their covenant with God and the young people they violated? It is shocking and startling so hear about so many Roman Catholic Priests have been involved in such awful, evil behavior. Many of the victims are likely to carry the scars for many years. Every single victim needs inner healing. (Outer healing is physical.) Healing is possible. . 

I first met adults in the 70's who suffered from sexual trauma as children and teenagers. Almost every one of them showed current signs of those past wounds. My training as a Counselor had neglected to educate us about how to treat adult victims, most of whom had never revealed their experiences to anyone else. Not only did they suffer from the trauma itself but also the False Guilt and Shame of sexual relations with a Holy Man!

From the Bitter Roots of Abuse can come the following Fruits:

Our of the heart and mind comes all kinds of emotional, relational, and spiritual dysfunctions. God has equipped each believer with the Holy Spirit to release the Love of God, the Peace of Christ, the truth of the God's Word, and the Gifts of the Spirit to "Heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. If 10% of the churches in a community offered free prayers for members and visitors many of the fruits of past trauma could be healed.

It is great to see so many churches establishing Recovery Groups which promote transparency, confession, prayers and love to help people get free from the past.

One of the most powerful books we have that can be used privately or for a small groups is Power Christian Thinking. It can be ordered he from Amazon Kindle. 
https://www.amazon.com/Power-Christian-Thinking-Changing-Hopelessness-ebook/dp/B015EXEBJI

Our Ministry has books, videos and seminars to equip Christians to care and counsel. 
www.sweetenlife.com




A Powerful Way to Heal the Brain




I grew up in a tiny town in southern Illinois. During WWII many of our young men were carried off to places with strange sounding names and impossible places on the map find. In my childhood the economic level we all faced was pretty grim. My dad described the situation as being a "hard scrabble existence".

When the soldiers who survived came back from the war economic opportunities improved but the mental and emotional issues worsened. A lot of the ex GI population suffered from Post Traumatic issues and had few places to go to get help.

Today, the data about an increase of people suffering with mental and emotional issues is a surprise to those of us in the Counseling professionals. While doing a Leadership and Discipleship Equipping Ministry I discovered Cognitive Therapy and how it has been used to renew the minds of many people with irrational and anxious thinking. It is a perfect fit for accomplishing the goal of Romans 12:1-2 that tells the benefits of Renewing our minds.

I beg you my friends to stop thinking like the world and be transformed by renewing your mind. 

I wrote several books and articles that individuals and churches can use to lower their anxiety, depression, and anger of people without having to see a Therapist. My latest book is called Power Christian Thinking and is on Amazon Kindle.

Thousands of men and women have shared how the book helped them stop Stinking Thinking and started enjoying life more fully!





Sunday, August 19, 2018

We have always done it that way




The United States Standard railroad gauge; the distance between rails is 4 feet, 8.5 inches, an exceedingly odd number. What caused engineers to use this gauge? Where did it come from?

  1. Why was that gauge used to build U.S. rail lines? That is the way they built them in England. English expatriates built the first U.S. railroads.

  1. Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines in Europe were designed and built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that is the gauge they used.

  1. Why did they use that gauge for trams? Because the people who designed and built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that same wheel spacing.

  1. Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, when they tried to use any other spacing, the wagons were prone to breaking down on the old long distance roads, because that is the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

  1. So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

  1. And why did the ruts come about? Roman war chariots first made the initial ruts. Since the chariots were all made to certain specifications for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

    Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification (Military, as it were) for an Imperial Roman Army war chariot. But one nagging question still remains.

  1. Why did the design of the Roman chariots incorporate that specific wheelbase? The chariots were designed for the back ends of two Roman war-horses.

So, the modern transportation system got its original dimensions by following the rear ends of two warhorses!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Why Change is Hard



All of us realize that change is hard. It is especially hard when people have developed rituals and habits that seem to have extraordinary meaning to their members. For example, when I first went to Russia I met many people who proudly proclaimed they were Russian Orthodox. However, after some discussion it was clear they were also atheists who were born and reared in the days of atheist USSR when actually believing in God was dangerous.

Many Russians are very proud of the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church was founded over 1000 years ago! That, my friend, is a long time! So, the Russian people felt great pride in their history and culture. As a result, many agnostics and atheists proclaimed their heart felt allegiance.


Several years ago I was pretty optimistic about being a change agent. I had gone to school and learned to be a change agent with kids in school: I thought every kid could learn and wanted to learn. Even more optimistically, I thought I could motivate parents to insist that their kids try to learn! It is hard for "leaders" to lead change.

I attended Graduate School and learned about psychology and motivation. I got a position in a college at the same time kids wanted to have free sex, free drugs, and engage in riots. I tried to foster change, but Change is hard! 

I went into to ministry and sought the Holy Spirit as I tried to motivate people to come to Christ and live a holy life. Change is hard!

In order to be a success as a change agent we must pray, be patient, and humble! God alone is the only real change agent. Do you know why? Change is hard!


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Innocent Until Proven Guilty By Gossip in the Media




It is difficult to keep your job and your reputation if you are famous and accused of a crime. There are individuals and special interest groups that will destroy us if we seem to be a vulnerable target. 

Men accused of "sexual harassment" are especially vulnerable. If they are in college the hanging will very likely be swift and filled with hysterical accusations but little if any right to a fair trial. There are numerous cases of false chargers against male groups that ended with complete exoneration weeks after the organization and its members were hounded, publicly scorned, and punished academically. 

A fraternity at the University of Virginia was accused of sexual attacks against a young woman in Rolling Stone Magazine. The group was sanctioned by the President and the members attacked by the President. The fraternity and all men were found to be innocent and the magazine and woman who charged them to found to be lying. The president of Virginia attacked the organization and the men and yet was never held accountable. She recently retired with no regrets. 

When I serve as Associate Dean of Students at Cincinnati we were always careful to give every student due process if he or she was accused of wrongdoing. But with great pressure from the Obama administration due process was not applied and many schools are now having to pay millions of dollars for following the DC demands. 

We cannot afford to allow the mantra of "Innocent until proven guilty" to become "Innocent until accused by gossipy liars, and social media". 


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Are Dads Important to Healthy Kids?






New MUHC research highlights the value of fathers in both neurobiology and behaviour of offspring

Published: 4 Dec 2013



Even with today’s technology, it still takes both a male and a female to make a baby. But is it important for both parents to raise that child? Many studies have outlined the value of a mother, but few have clearly defined the importance of a father, until now. New findings from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) show that the absence of a father during critical growth periods, leads to impaired social and behavioural abilities in adults. This research, which was conducted using mice, was published today in the journal Cerebral Cortex. It is the first study to link father absenteeism with social attributes and to correlate these with physical changes in the brain.

“Although we used mice, the findings are extremely relevant to humans,” says senior author Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, a researcher of the Mental Illness and Addiction Axis at the RI-MUHC and an associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. “We used California mice which, like in some human populations, are monogamous and raise their offspring together.”

“Because we can control their environment, we can equalize factors that differ between them,” adds first author, Francis Bambico, a former student of Dr. Gobbi at McGill and now a post-doc at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. “Mice studies in the laboratory may therefore be clearer to interpret than human ones, where it is impossible to control all the influences during development.”

Dr. Gobbi and her colleagues compared the social behaviour and brain anatomy of mice that had been raised with both parents to those that had been raised only by their mothers. Mice raised without a father had abnormal social interactions and were more aggressive than counterparts raised with both parents. These effects were stronger for female offspring than for their brothers. Females raised without fathers also had a greater sensitivity to the stimulant drug, amphetamine.

“The behavioural deficits we observed are consistent with human studies of children raised without a father,” says Dr. Gobbi, who is also a psychiatrist at the MUHC. “These children have been shown to have an increased risk for deviant behaviour and in particular, girls have been shown to be at risk for substance abuse. This suggests that these mice are a good model for understanding how these effects arise in humans.”

In pups deprived of fathers, Dr. Gobbi’s team also identified defects in the mouse prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that helps control social and cognitive activity, which is linked to the behaviourial deficits.

“This is the first time research findings have shown that paternal deprivation during development affects the neurobiology of the offspring,” says Dr. Gobbi. These results should incite researchers to look more deeply into the role of fathers during critical stages of growth and suggest that both parents are important in children’s mental health development.

About the study 

The paper in the journal Cerebral Cortex entitled Father absence in the monogamous California mouse impairs social behavior and modifies dopamine and glutamate synapses in the medial prefrontal cortex, was authored by Francis Bambico (First author) from the Behavioral Neurobiology Laboratory, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto; Baptiste Lacoste, Patrick Hattan and Gabriella Gobbi from the Neurobiological Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal. Cerebral Cortex is published by Oxford University Press.

This work was supported by the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec (FRSQ), and fellowships from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and from the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

How to Draw People to Church

                     
                         We can treat everyone like royalty!

It seems that it is harder and harder to draw new people to church. As I study the reasons why one thing continually jumps out to me. People are afraid of being attacked for being bad, wrong, or sinful. Of course all of us are imperfect but the church seems to have a reputation for showing disrespect for imperfect people.

This short video speaks to the importance of showing RESPECT to everyone. And, we don't have to say it as nicely as The Queen of Soul!


Monday, July 9, 2018

Let My People Go and Grow



I woke up this morning thinking about the wonderful people we had at College Hill Pres. The staff there was a great team that worked hard and attempted to listen to God as best we could. However, it was the congregation that really made us into a fantastic place.

As I read Twitter, Facebook, and blogs I am struck by the emphasis on elite Preachers, Pastors, and Leaders. I think we need great theologians and preachers. But the emphasis in scripture and in my experience as an Organizational Consultant is really on the ordinary, non titled people in the pew.

Some of the very best Bible teachers I know were Laity. They were great at Practical Theology and application. They knew how to walk the talk. Members of our church rans P&G and GE and many other organizations. If they can run a billion dollar organization they can do ministry.

We had a large church with several terrific Ministers but our congregation was filled with energized men and women that were encouraged to try new things. We had a policy of giving permission to anyone in the church that believed they had a Call from the Lord to start a ministry. The Call had to be consistent with our Mission and Vision and cost the church nothing. If a person had a sense of call they had 3 minutes on Sunday morning to tell the congregation what they were doing. 1. They wrote out their 3 minute announcement. 2. They gave their call to join. 3. If people responded, they had a ministry. If no one was interested, it did not go anywhere. The church did not control the ministry.

When Laity are liberated, then innovation will grow and the church will grow.

Let my people go and grow!



Monday, July 2, 2018

My Triple By Pass and Prayer

                                                        
                                                                  God still Heals


It has been six weeks since Dr. Griffin and his team of people at The Christ Hospital took care of the three arteries that were blocked. I am reminded of the scripture that says, "All good gifts are from God." As a Social Scientist I have taken that truth very seriously by constantly examining scripture, research on how the brain and body work and mixed in prayer to keep God engaged in the process.

My recovery has gone well. The most important person is Karen who is the Chief Nurse, gatekeeper, schedule keeper, medicine regulator and emotional supporter.

For the past two weeks I have been attending Cardiac Rehab at Christ Hospital in Liberty Twp. Before that Karen and I had the distinct pleasure of getting home health care from some wonderful Nurses.

The Medical Staff at Christ and at home were extremely pleased with my progress since it was faster than most. Especially those who like me are 80 years old. One Doctor said, "You do not look 80, or act 80 but every organ in your body IS 80! So, take care of yourself and allow the healing to be complete."

I was able to share with several of my Medical Team at Christ that my improvement was due in large part to their great treatment as well as having so many people praying for me. Thank God for great friends that pray.

I am slowly reentering my office to write and plan so this note is one result. I tire VERY easily so I am certainly taking naps and slowing down even though I feel OK I am 80.

I am so thankful for Ron Peake, Andrea Bowsher, Jim Donovan, and Randy Creamer for taking the reins of our ministry and keeping it going so I can rest and recover.

I have some way to go before I can be fully operational so thanks for your prayers for me and the ministry.

Blessings and Peace!

Gary Sweeten


Monday, May 14, 2018

Update on My Heart Treatment



Thanks so much for the encouragement and prayers. 

After the angiogram last Friday, Dr. Kereiakes came into my room to explain the results. He said although my heart was beating strongly and looked healthy there were three arteries that were seriously occluded. They were to long to fix with stents so he recommended bypass surgery. 

Dr. Kereiakes had his colleague, Dr. Griffin come in and explain the procedure of taking vessels from other places and putting them to bypass the occluded ones. 

Today his office called to give me the schedule:
1. Tuesday at Christ Hospital for pretesting and instructions.
2. Thursday arrive at The Christ Hospital at 8:00 AM for preparation.
3. Surgery scheduled for 12:00 Noon Thursday.
4. Surgery will likely last about 4 hours.
5. Recovery in the hospital for 6 days with exercise and instructions. 
6. Return home on about May 23 for recovery for two months. 
7. Dance in the Spirit to thank God for His love, power, and provision of surgeons, nurses and medical personnel as well as great technology. 

Post Script: I am rereading the old book Healing and Christianity by Morton Kelsey. He traces the healing of body, mind, and spirit by prayers and physicians. He notes that some of the greatest names in Christian history promoted healing by multiple means. Prayers, Fasting, Anointing, Medicine, Dreams, ETC. One of the very first free hospitals in the world was set up by St. Gregory in Caesarea in the 4th Century, AD. 

I want to receive everything God has for me so pray all you can whenever you can. There are no bad side effects or fear of an overdose!

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

John Donne 1623






This is always first. Everything must bring praise to God!
.
A Hymn to God the Father

Will You forgive that sin where I begun,
Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Will You forgive that sin through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When You are done, You are not done,
For I have more.
Will You forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin? and made my sin their door?
Will You forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When You are done, You are not done,
For I have more.
I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
Swear by Yourself, that at my death Your Son
Shall shine as he shines now and heretofore;
And, having done that, You have done,
I fear no more.


Psalm 103:12 "as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." 

Micah 7:19 "He will again have compassion upon us, he will tread our iniquities under foot. Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea."

Give thanks and honor our God.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Great Churches Thomas Road



Do you wonder what he most influential in church history in the past 100 years were, and 
what trends did they set and how they expressed their influence?  Can those past churches’ successes help us today?  

Read, The Ten Most Influential Churches in the Past Century, published by Destiny Image Publishers by Elmer Towns.  Order this book from Amazon.com

Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia

I first visited Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1968 doing research on the book, The Ten Largest Sunday Schools and What Made Them Grow.  That book eventually became a bestseller and remained on the list for over 14 months.  During my first Sunday visit, I taught the Pastor’s Bible Class in the main auditorium to around 2,000 people.
What captivated me most was the sermon preached by Jerry Falwell, the church’s founder and pastor. His sermon was taken from Acts 5:28, “Behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.” Jerry explained every church should fill its “Jerusalem” where it is located.  Falwell explained Saturation Evangelism, “Using every available means, to reach every available person, at every available time.”  He wanted to preach to every person in America over television and his aim was to air the Old Time Gospel Hour in every major television market in America.  He also created a mailing campaign to get the gospel out to everyone.  I walked into the first auditorium to see four large computers, larger than a walk-in refrigerator.  The data for 100,000 mailing addresses were kept on those computers. Today, that amount of data can be stored in a smart phone.  Jerry Falwell was committed to raising the money, paying the price, sacrificing his time and effort to carry the gospel to the entire world. 
Out of Thomas Road Baptist Church has grown Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world (and perhaps in history).  When I retired as dean of seminary and School of Religion there were over 113,000 students enrolled online and in the resident program.  There have been graduation class of approximately 20,000 people, with over 4,000 young people going into ministry.  Many report that there are more Liberty graduates from Liberty in fulltime ministry than any other Christian university and seminary in the world. 
That morning when I first visited the church, Dr. Falwell announced to the audience that I was preparing a book on the ministry of Thomas Road Baptist Church.  He said, “If you have been saved at this church, grab a visitor cards and write your testimony on the back of it, or use two or more cards. Put it in the offering plate and we will give it to Dr. Towns to help his research.”
Jerry handed me an old cigar box packed with over 100 testimonies of those who had been saved in the church.  I went back to Harvey’s Motel, sat on the floor with the concept of Saturation Evangelism in my mind.  I began placing different testimonies in piles with others who were saved using the same evangelistic method.  People were saved through the jail ministry, television ministry, radio ministry, Sunday school bus ministry, evangelistic crusades, telephone outreach, tract distribution, etc.  As I read the testimonies I wept.  God had touched my heart through what He had done in many lives, alcoholic, broken families, abandoned, etc.  In my opinion, Thomas Road Baptist Church was doing more to get the gospel to their entire “Jerusalem” than any other church I had experienced.  I prayed that night that I might have a part with this church, not knowing that one day I would be the Co-Founder with Jerry Falwell of Liberty University.


WANT TO READ MORE?


What churches were the most influential in church history in the past 100 years?  What trends did they set?  How did they express their influence?  Can past churches’ successes help you today?  What can the ministry of past successful churches teach us today?  Read, The Ten Most Influential Churches in the Past Century, published by Destiny Image Publishers by Elmer Towns.  Order this book from Amazon.com


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