Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Greatest Thing

Over the past three decades of "Equipping God's people to minister Wholeness to others We have trained Pastors and Lay Leaders all over the planet. Our students have come from every denomination, faith group and theological persuasion. However, they are all eager and impatient to learn how to change people. The feel a great urgency to " get going" and set people free.

For example, some of our young, eager students in Asia who wanted to hurry up and learn how to "Heal the broken hearted and set the captives free" as Isaiah 61 instructs us. Their engines of mercy and "Get Er done" had no time to waste on learning about themselves or learning to listen to others. They wanted to immediately get to power prayers and magical words of change. As one Bible teacher asked, "When do we get to 'Sock it to them time?'"

We teach in a systematic, sequential manner. The approach is to facilitate each student to better understand his/ her own heart. We call that being Genuine, so "Each student first understands her own heart, her own mind and her own feelings." The process of 'self knowledge' and 'self control' is the very opposite of impatience, hurry up syndrome and "Sock it to them" because the Holy Spirit nearly always socks it to us first so we quit wanting to sock it to others.

We recently had a student that dropped put of our class when we got to the importance of listening to others. It was, he said, " Too shallow!" He wanted something deeper so he could immediately heal and deliver wounded people. We laughed out loud. Listening is too shallow?! Showing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit to others is too easy. It reminds me of the pop tune from long ago, "What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love". The text goes, "Lord, we don't need another mountain..."

In Christianity we do not need another person who is impatient, hurried, grim, anxious and pushy. We need people with "Faith, hope and love" because they are the greatest characteristics needed for the Care of Souls. Faith, hope and love are foundational for Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. These fruit are always built on self understanding, self management and self control. We call that Genuineness.

An overview of developing these traits can be found in Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty and Power Christian Thinking which can be downloaded from our bookstore at www.sweetenlife.com

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Mental Disease Model is Often Harmful

Anyone acquainted with the current state of counseling knows that the most popular model now days is called the Medical Model or the Disease Model. This simply means that anyone perceived as having mental and emotional struggles is mentally ill. The usual treatment is a pill. Some of us Counselors do not fully embrace this model of care and counseling. There are several reasons why.

1. It is used to describe even those whose Anxiety, Depression or Anger is related to grief such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or financial struggles. It is patently obvious that sadness, worry, fear and other emotional struggles are not a disease but can be a normal, healthy response to a terrible situation.

2. There is stigma associated with the term, "Mental Illness". If you follow the link above you will see an article on this sad fact. One day I asked a mom who was experiencing grief if she had considered Counseling. She recoiled in horror and said, "I am not mentally ill!" I meant Counseling to help her through the situation not to heal her mental illness. However, she has been impacted by all the ads that urge us to see every temporary problem as a serious illness.

3. The treatment of an illness means that the cause is somehow biological even when it is not. We often hear about depression being a "chemical imbalance" or genetic. But the research on treatment outcomes does not indicate that pills work very well to alleviate depression and anxiety. In fact, they are not usually more effective than a sugar pill called a placebo.

4. When called a mental illness, it implies the client will never recover. That is not true. I am convinced that everyone can get substantially better with good counseling, prayer, positive fellowship and support from family and friends. It may take a lot of hard work, a good counselor and a ton of prayer and love but faith, hope and love are powerfully good for us with no bad side effects.

If you are struggling, find a Counselor who will help you think more appropriately, love more freely and trust God more completely. Go to our web to find great self help materials.

Healing Center

A Woman in Pain

Way back in the Dark Ages of my life a group of us at College Hill Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati started to train Lay Helpers how to listen and care for each other. I had just completed a Doctoral Dissertation on the topic of Counselor Education and learned that Lay or Peer Helpers if well trained, can be as effective as Professionals in many instances.

I also learned from my mentor, Dr. Richard Walters, that those people who went through a training program in learning the skills of healthy interpersonal
relationships would often find as much or more healing as those who saw a Professional or Peer Helper. (Helpers are anyone who cares for others in need.)

As a result I gathered a group of interested people and started teaching them how to interact with Genuineness, Respect, Empathy and Warmth. That grew into a program and process that sponsored classes for parents, couples, pastors, small group leaders, lay pastors, deacons, elders, etc. the results were very positive.

After a bit the Elders asked me to set up an entire Equipping Center to develop a systematic equipping process for our very large church. We called it The Teleios Center or Wholeness Center. Then we recruited several mature members to serve as Peer Helpers, teachers, healing team members, small group leaders, etc.

I left CHPC to establish The Life Way Counseling Center. Life Way continues to minister with love, grace and Professional insights to people in pain. You can find Life Way here.

That meant we needed materials and a separate ministry which developed into what is now Equipping Ministries International. EMI is still equipping Peer Helpers. I just learned they are going to start a Peer Helping Center in Mariemont. Contact EMI to see how you might take their training.

If you are not close to Cincinnati, you can simply go to my Sweeten Life web and download one of my books on how to help yourself to healing and growth. I am also doing four eight week classes for the ministry of Randy Clark who has a wonderful international prayer ministry.

Thankfully, some Christians are continuing to practice the activities that Jesus quoted when He received the call to action in Luke 4 and originates in Isaiah 61: to Heal the broken hearted and set the captives free.

And a reminder. We at Sweeten Life Systems are focusing a lot of attention on working to support families with a member who has a chronic disability. The number of kids born with with a disability who survive has tripled over the last 50 years! Despite this enormous growth in families facing such a stressful life, our churches have not caught on to the increasing need for Pastoral and spiritual as well as emotional and relational ministry. Sweeten Life is dedicated to using the skills and knowledge gained over the last 35 years to "Equip God's people with what they need to minister to the parents and children." Go to our web to see the materials we have developed for families under pressure.

Joni Erickson Tada,an internationally famous leader in the area of disability, has a strong ministry in Ohio. We are working with the Ohio team to train Peer Helpers in the churches where they are involved. Thankfully, Joni and Friends in Ohio has happily joined our network to cooperate in multiplying ministries and ministers who can bless parents and the people they love who have a disability.

Our impact as Christians is growing. Would you prayerfully consider supporting us in prayer and finances? We are expanding rapidly and our finances also need to expand.

Send a donation monthly to:

Sweeten Life Systems, Inc
P.O. Box 498455
Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

Or see our online giving link at sweetenlife.com

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Controversy about Healing and Prayer?

I have been involved in prayer and healing activities for several decades. I did not ask God to do that to me, but He did not ask my permission so here we are.

It started in a big way in 1968 when my Father had a bad accident and was near death. My older brother and I were in his hospital room at Good Samaritan in Mt. Vernon, Illinois where dad was thrashing around trying to remove the tubes from his mouth.

I started praying for the Lord to touch Dad and all of a sudden, the room became brighter and Dad relaxed. I just knew he was better. Dad, despite the pessimism of Dr. Alexander and others, lived another ten years. I was stunned.

When Karen and I returned to Cincinnati, I happily related the story to my Pastor and friends. My enthusiasm shocked and confused many of them. Since they disbelieved in healing prayers, this new information was difficult to process. Some looked at me and said things like, "Uh, good. I am glad to hear it." There was not the same kind of excitement that they would have shown if Dad's healing had occurred with surgery. It was confusing.

Then the sermons attacking prayer for healing came along. Some were downright hostile as though I had intentionally done something wrong. Despite my innocence I was seen as guilty of disrupting the anti prayer position of the church.

Perhaps that is unfair but at least the anti healing prayer positions. We prayed for the sick but we never prayed for them to get well. My new position was not well received.

Then I shared my faith with colleagues and teachers at U. C. where I was getting a Doctorate.
I was attacked again for being too religious/ mystical/spiritual/etc. One prof told me in class that "Faith healing was not real healing but just healing by convincing people they were better. It is nothing but a mind game."

I replied, "I am in a Doctoral program trying to learn from psychology and sociology how to help change pessimistic minds to optimistic minds so the will get better. If you had a way through psychology to help people get better you would sell it for millions. So, why do you criticize us for doing the same."

So, my church and my profession both rejected my new found faith, little as it was. It is 2012 today and many decades after 1968 when God's healing touch and my spiritual/mental/faith touch occurred. I still believe in healing prayer. Faith in God is on every page of the Bible. God's love and power and truth still reign today as they did 2,000 years ago.

It makes no sense to me that any Christian would disagree. Why turn down easy, free treatment with no bad side effects? Why refuse to glorify God? Personal experience plus most research shows prayer helps people get better. Why would anyone resist getting better?

Discipleship Fallen Nature

Several people have asked me recently about my connection with Crossroads Community Church InCincinnati. The reason they are asking is due to a series of sermons at Crossroads that focus on Identity in Christ. Since that is a topic I have taught on and written about, they want to know if the leaders at Crossroads have read my materials or attended my training.
My answer i, "I have not been in touch with Crossroads but I know several of the Pastors there have read and or attended the Listening, Rational Christian Thinking or Breaking Free training from College Hill or EMI.

I have rewritten some of my materials and posted them on www.sweetenlife.com one book is brand new, Healing Release of the Holy Spirit. I updated renewing the mind and call it, Power Christian Thinking.

If you want to really understand how to leave guilt and shame behind and grow out of depression, get those books.