Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Key to Evangelism

The conference held today in Cincinnati on reaching out to our Muslim neighbors was, from what I heard, a great success. This topic raises all kinds of scary possibilities and it is rare for any ministry to take the risk of doing a public conference on the topic.

Why is this such a sensitive subject? Let me count the ways.

1. Most Christians are terribly afraid of the terms Witnessing/Evangelism/Outreach/ and so forth.

2. There is a lot of tension in America and the world now because of the history of wars we have waged in the Middle East. Adding to the angst is the fact that many Americans have lost their lives and or suffered PDST as a result of the wars so anger, revenge and guilt hang heavily over Islam and the Middle East.

3. The attacks on 911 and the suicide bombings by Muslim radicals has poisoned the relationships.We fear for our safety.

4. We do not know how to answer the theological questions raised by Muslims.

5.  We have never met and talked with a Muslim and are anxious not to offend them by doing the wrong things.

Name your own reasons: _____________________

The conference Call To Love, which I had to miss because of illness, was the first of its kind in this area as far as I can remember.  It was well attended and the information was terrific to assist Christians in getting over our fears of reaching out to our neighbors.

They also have a weekly TV program so all of us can learn better how to connect without fear to the people next door no matter what they look like or how they worship.

While doing ministry in Asia the Holy Spirit opened doors for me to become very well acquainted with the Muslim community. I met with them, ate with them, trained them how to mentor their children, visited in their homes, taught in their Mosque and learned to like them.

I also studied their basic theology, psychology and sociology to be better equipped to train the telephone counselors and Muslim Domestic Court Mentors they asked me to train. I taught their leaders frequently.

There are over one billion people on earth who consider themselves to be Muslims. They worship Allah and revere Mohamed. They know little if anything about mercy, grace or God love. The most effective ministry to any group or individual is with love, grace, mercy and acceptance. However, with Muslims it is even more important. Like Hinduism, their religion is a harsh master. If we can show God's love and compassion to Muslims it will knock their socks off.It may also help them become open to Christ.

First, ask God for a Muslim to show compassion on.

Then pray for God to bless them with peace. then be nice and caring and compassionate.

Outreach is easy. It is all about developing a great relationship with another human being and allowing God to do the work of salvation.

Our materials will teach you how to listen, love and learn from God.

Gary Sweeten

Friday, September 28, 2012

10 Ways to Offend People in Pain #10

When you meet a friend or family member deep in sorrow, pain or illness it is always possible to make them feel even worse. Take courage from the friends of Mr. Job, he was in so much pain that he could barely stand it but those mischievous buddies made it worse.

I really like the simple way they added to his sorrow. "Curse God and die!" was a favorite mantra. God has abandoned you because of your great sin so quit trying to please God and give up. Just curse Him and die!"

It is another way to be a Prophet and see that the future is even worse than the rotten present. Do you know anyone who consistently predicts evil, difficulties, pain and failures? I was having trouble with my Blood Pressure and one friend predicted that this was just the beginning of a long path toward destruction and death.

I suspect that you all know about the placebo effect. A placebo is a treatment designed to encourage a patient to believe he is receiving an active medical ingredient when he is not. Yet, despite the fact that the sick person is getting a sugar pill or another harmless substance, the patient often gets better. Why does he/she get better? he has faith in the treatment.

The opposite is also true. People who put you down or put your medicine down is lessening the possibility that it will help you get better. Negative can make us sicker! Stay away from such people lest they drag you down. And, do not accept the things these negative people tell you. Download my Power Christian Thinking book today and learn how to make your own placebo effect on a daily basis.

Gary Sweeten

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Love Your Muslim Neighbor

There are two polar opposite ways to react to the attacks by radical Muslims on Americans over the past several years. Both come from a deep fear and deep anger but they seem opposite in root as well as fruit.

Reaction #1. is to get angry and react to the attacks by suggesting that America drop an atomic bomb on downtown Cairo, Egypt and all the other places the people are rioting. Few people would serious suggest this but in the heat of the moment of hearing about the riots our feelings of revenge get the best of us. This is the position often taken by Conservatives in America.

Reaction #2. is to deny that most Muslims do not dislike us and the only thing that causes these riots the American Christians who make videos that insult Islam. American policies and American Christians are the real villains. This is the Politically Correct position often taken by Liberals in America.

Neither of these positions will hold water. IMO they are both based on anger, fear, denial of reality and a desire to avoid the reality of a world wide cultural conflict. the partial answer is for Christians to lead the way toward mutual understanding and dialogue. However, that will not solve the problem with jihadists who want to kill all Christians and Jews.

For Christians who wish to know more about Muslim Theology, culture and how to minister to them in peace, come to the seminar this Saturday. 

Come and attend the one day experience called Dare to Love on 9:30-3:00 on September 29, 2012. Register at You can call 513.898.0700 for more information.

The event address will be kept secret for security reasons until you receive your tickets.

The focus will be primarily on understanding Muslims so we can present Jesus Christ to them in a way that avoids getting stuck in our own world view and prejudices. Ron Peake, VP of Sweeten Life Systems is speaking on the basic theology of Islam and how to minister to them. We will have a booth at the conference.  It will also cover the roots of the Islamic  Jihad which leads to suicide.

Muslims are increasingly coming to Christ, abandoning Islam and its deadly practices. You will hear more about how to share the good news effectively on September 29. I worked closely with Muslims in Asia for three years and found them open to the gospel if presented in love and respect. 

Islam Theology is a Catch 22, no-win situation for truly committed Muslims. Through Christ they will find freedom, eternal life and security for today and forever. My message will also show you how to enjoy eternal liberation from condemnation, anxiety and fear.

Gary Sweeten 

Sinful Christian Cliches #9.

My friend Beth Hovind wrote that one of the most prominent ways to sin against friends and relatives is to offer them a cliche or two. Beth mentioned these: let go and let God; it must be or not be God's will; just fake it (pretend) til you make it, etc...

These cliches are supposedly biblical ways to encourage a suffering friend but the only people who are encouraged are those who believe those worn out, overly used, wrongly timed, finger pointing sayings. Here is my request. Send me stories that illustrate times when someone you know has used a cliche like this to take the wind out of a suffering friend's sails. The best/worst example will get a coupon for a free copy of my E book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.

The most inventive and egregiously wrong use of a Bible verse or saying to crush a friend in need. Please, no names to protect the truly guilty. 

Gary Sweeten
Sweeten Life Systems
Building a lifetime of great relationships with God, self and others

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sinful Things to Say or Do to a Suffering Friend #8

"You should know better than that! You are a Minister and a Counselor. What is wrong with you?" This was the reply I received from a friend with whom I dared ask for prayer for my depression. I was not suicidal before that comment but after I was tempted to end it all!

It can be risky to share your weaknesses and failures with people. It is especially risky to share with those who have all the answers for the suffering. And, depression is suffering. My particular depressive episode was brought on by the loss of a  job that was very important to me. Too important it turned out. My identity was so caught up in the position and ministry that losing it caused me to get depressed.

That was not, however, the only reason I was so down. The reactions of friends made the journey a lot more difficult.  When I attempted to reach out to them and exposed my weaknesses and failures I was hurt. I often received uncaring jibes and callous put downs like the one above.

Deep down I knew that my depressive reaction was wrong. I did not need answers or lectures.I did need people to listen and let me discover what He wanted me to learn. Few people listened and gave me cheap, cliche ridden advice that I already knew. It hurt me, infuriated me and caused me to clam up. That is what sin usually leads to and that is what happened.

Since then I have written many books and monographs, developed several video teachings and taught classes on building healthy relationships. 

Look up Sweeten Life on You Tube or Vimeo. Google them to find us. 

Gary Sweeten

I just got off the telephone with my friend from Moscow, Russia who has persevered since 1991 to develop a sister organization in  the former USSR. Great things are happening there.Please pray for them as they fight against the spiritual forces of wickedness.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Suicide Bombings and Theology

 For the past two decades we have heard a lot about suicide bombings. In most cases the people who are killing themselves and others are Muslims. And, over 90% of the people are killed are Muslims, almost all whom are civilian women and children.

What part of the Muslim theological system could possibly promote such behavior. In this latest  round of insanity, riots, killings and suicide the supposed reason is a cheap video developed by some person or persons last April or May who live in the USA. I have not seen the video and I shall not see it. I join with all those rioting Muslims who have not and never will see the video.

You and I might ask, what happened to set these rioters off? What part of Islamic theology was so offended that it leads hundreds of thousands of them to kill people in the name of "The religion of peace"? Especially when we know that none of them has watched it.

On Saturday, September 29 I will wade into the deep waters of theology, anthropology, psychology and mob dynamics to discuss these issues. Afterward, you will know a lot more about how to pray, how to respond to your Muslim neighbors, and how to witness to them.

The link below will take you to the international ministry called Call of Love so you can watch a Dare to Love TV episode on their website.

Gary Sweeten

Sinning Against the Sick and Suffering # 7

Unfortunately, seven is not a lucky number or the perfect number. It is an especially pernicious number when used to describe another way to cause people in pain to feel worse than they were.

Here is #7. You are sinning by seeing the Doctor or "Your are sinning by taking medicine."

For many going to a Doctor is equal to a lack of faith in God. The street name for this kind of theology is:

Name it and claim it!

Blab it and grab it!

One day when I was at College Hill Presbyterian a friend called to say he wanted to take me to lunch. I loved that idea so we headed off to the local Chinese place for some lunch. Once we had sat down and ordered he pulled out a book by a well known FAITH writer and began to lecture me on how poorly I trusted God for healing. The first evidence was me because I had been sick and went to the Doctor for medicine.

Secondly, my sermons and the sermons of others, especially in the healing ministry, were lacking in commanding people to deny they were sick. Many times we even mentioned the diseases and symptoms from the pulpit and in the newsletters.

Although he was a pretty nice guy he was treating me like a baby who had been developmentally delayed. However, he had bought lunch so I was willing to trade my adult status for a free lunch. He and I debated the theology behind his ideas and he became frustrated. Then he asked, "But Gary, don't you believe we are certain to receive everything we pray for? If I pray for you am I not guaranteed to see you receive it?"

My answer shocked him and it may shock you. I said, "Oh, I hope not." I definitely do NOT want to get everything you pray for me". He said, "Why not?".  Here is the real kicker in the theology that he and others peddle.

"I do not trust you nearly as much as I trust God. I want what God wants for me. I have faith in God but brother I have little faith in you, your motives, your understanding God's will and your love. Do you trust me as much as you trust God?"

He pondered that for a moment and then replied, "No. I do not." Then he said, "I think I need to throw those books away."

The Bible tells us that "We do not even know how to pray" let alone pray perfectly. I usually try to join in with the deep groans of the Holy Spirit and let God's grunts and groans guide me. RO 7:26

More on medicines and faith. Get our books on these principles at the Sweeten Life page.

Gary Sweeten

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Preaching This Sunday

I am getting to speak again this Sunday on how to make yourself and others crazy. The topic is the power of Double Bind Communication Patterns to lead us to Double Mind Thinking. As St. James said, "When we pray, do it with faith and certainty of God's love, grace and mercy."

Catch 22 thinking is how we describe it in America because of a book by that name that became a famous movie by the same title. It was a novel about how the Army Air Force in WWII would not allow fliers to stop going into combat unless they asked a Psychiatrist for a mental exam to prove they were crazy. However, if the flier DID ask for the mental exam it was proof that they were not crazy so they had to keep flying into danger. In other words, "Heads you win, Tails you lose".

Parents, Parents and Government agencies that treat people like this do so to keep the masses under control. The Communists intentionally did this so the people would develop symptoms of anxiety and depression and were easily controlled.

Religion can easily fall into this trap because it has eternal consequences and because we serve a perfect God who demands perfect obedience. However, those who believe humans SHOULD be perfect find it impossible to attain in reality. Thus, the most pious and committed believers often fall into depression, anxiety and fear because they cannot be what they should.

Come to The Dwelling Place at 10::30 AM Sunday and discover how to escape from this death dealing false choice and find peace within. The Holy Spirit will be there so why not join in good fellowship, worship and sharing the word of God.

9335 Remington Road
Loveland, OH
United States of America   45140

Gary Sweeten

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ten ways to Sin Against Suffering People #6

 Is it a sin to be depressed?

I can sure see that a lot of my friends and readers love this series of posts. Most of you are a lot like me and love to read about how humans tend to mess up. Why do we like that kind of information? I am not certain but I think it gives us some comfort to know we are similar to them in faults and weaknesses as well as our strengths.

For seven years we ran two Christ-Centered Psychiatric Hospital Units with the Franciscan Sisters. When we started in 1989 we had a faith based, cutting edge, wholistic, comprehensive program that accepted people who were addicts as well as emotionally distressed.

It was an eye opening experience. Almost every client who came for help was a born again, serious, pious Christian from a conservative, Bible believing background. Despite or because of their church backgrounds, they had heard about the dangers of sex, drugs, alcohol and sin all their lives. Yet, many were addicted to some or all of these substances and lived in terror of hell.As a result, many were depressed, anxious and compulsive.

On several instances the Pastors or parents of our Clients came to the unit to tell them it was a sin to be depressed or anxious. One of the favorite passages of scripture used to prove it was a sin to feel sadness, anxiety or compulsive craving was:

"Do not be anxious about anything but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be known to God and His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ". PH 4:6-7

Instead of using this wonderfully affirming verse to teach the client how to pray and deal with pain, it is used as a club by people who must like to see vulnerable people squirm in despair. It is often that kind of distorted theology and twisted compassion that lead the Clients to be depressed in the first place. The following scripture tells us what the role of a good shepherd is supposed to be.

Ezekiel 34: The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 

15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

The Good Shepherd searches far and wide to find lonely, anxious, distressed, depressed, sick and sinful sheep to restore to the flock.  We have several books and dozens of videos and teaching materials to help good shepherds.

Gary Sweeten

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ten Sinful Statements to a Suffering Friend #5.

I recently heard about some members of a small group that gathered to build fellowship, study the Bible and care for each other. After meeting for a few weeks one member asked for prayer and support for her during a time of great stress. Unfortunately, they failed the test of love.

Here is what happened. Early in the gathering one member said, "I am so happy to be able to be with our group tonight because I have a real need. My mother just experienced a stroke and is in the hospital. I feel overwhelmed with grief and fear. What can I do?"

The people listened silently to her tearful statement. After a time of awkwardness, the group leader said, "Does anyone else have a need to share?" Nobody spoke up so they went ahead with their Bible study on the topic of love.

Although silence can be golden in this case it was unloving, cowardly, callous and sinful. The silence that greeted the lady was a mute expression of fear mixed with ignorance and selfishness. The poorly trained leader and the entire group were sorely lacking in the simple requirements of showing compassion. The group certainly "Missed The Mark" by refusing to ask her to share more or how they might pray. As a result, sin reigned in the group that night. A member who shared a real need was ignored and they refused to even pray. The people failed miserably to offer her their love.

Group Care and Cure

I went to Singapore in 1994 to train Cell Group Leaders how to offer care and counsel to the members of a rapidly growing church. The Pastors had completely reformed their congregation to meet in Cell Groups as the best way to foster numerical, spiritual, emotional and ministry growth.  They consistently repeated a phrase which had become a mantra: "Small Groups are Powerful!"

I had extensive experience with small groups and was a strong believer in them as a good way to "Equip God's people to do His works".  However, I knew that not all groups are good for the people or the church. My rejoinder was to extend that statement by adding: "Small Groups are Powerfully Good or Powerfully Bad!" The group mentioned above was powerfully bad. It crushed the spirit of a vulnerable young woman in pain by treating her in a cold, uncaring and unresponsive manner. When a group of people come together for fun,fellowship, spiritual growth or completing a task, the impact will usually be multiplied. If the group is healthy and sensitive the overall impact can be wonderfully expanded. However, when the group is dysfunctional the pain will be also multiplied.

In this case, the harm was multiplied from the errors of the individuals, the  group and especially the facilitator. The harm was NEGLECT not Shock, Trauma or Abuse.

A young friend of our family told me of a similar story that happened to her some years ago. She was invited to attended a celebrated Bible study with other young women as an opportunity to check the church out for possible membership. She got lost on the way and showed up late to the perfectly decorated home with a group of ten perfectly coiffed young women sitting around a perfectly arrayed table discussing a perfectly designed book of Bible lessons. It all looked perfect.

When our friend entered the room rather flustered, no one welcomed her or stopped the discussion or acted as if she were in the right place. The intellectual lesson seemed too important to care for the persons and illustrate the emotional lesson. Our friend never, ever went back or attended the group or  church again.

As my dad might have said, "You could hang meat in that place it was so cold". Sinfully cool and distant non-verbals are as harmful as a harsh verbal statement. When Jesus was in town a lot of the little kids automatically came to Him.  They clung to Jesus and wanted him to touch them. Those little children saw Jesus was genuinely loving. They can see right through fakes and callous people or an uptight religionist right away.

Ar you verbally and non-verbally welcoming to others or do you push hurting people away? 

Gary Sweeten

Sinful Talking

I am intersecting my series on Ten Sinful Things to Say to Suffering People to add some additional insights to the topic of sin and conversation.

The term sin in the Bible generally means to "Miss the mark". I can remember the very first sermon I ever heard that demonstrated this. It was Rev. Ron Rand of College Hill Presbyterian Church who set up one of his famous visual illustrations so we could really see what the Bible means.

He put up a picture of a target with circles to show the Bull's Eye and circles concentric around it away from the center. then he showed us a bow and arrow to illustrate what the Bible writers had in mind when they said Sin was missing the mark. The mark is the Bull's Eye. We can get close but not hit exactly in the center and still "Miss the mark".

In life it is very hard to always "Hit the Bull's Eye". In fact, St. Paul said that all of us have missed the mark or the Bull's Eye ever since we were born. (All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23) In fact, none of us can consistently hit the Bull's Eye no matter how hard we try.

Few of us are archers today so perhaps the Corn Hole game is a better illustration. I would love to be able to throw my little bag of corn into that small hole every time. I make it sometimes but I need more practice. However, even the very best players miss sometimes and they almost always hit the side of the hole or slide it in after missing it at first.

That is like us Christians who have tried for decades to improve our aim spiritually. I try to be accurate but I miss my mark still after all these years of trying. PTL in Christ there is hope for forgiveness and healing and a new day after I sin. Even St. Paul admitted that he could not always hit the mark. In Romans 7 he said "I know what I am supposed to do but I just cannot do it!"

Proverbs reminds us that Life or death are in the tongue.

Gary Sweeten

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ten Sinful Things we Say to a Suffering Person 3.

President Bush silently hugs girl who lost her dad in 911

This series has been a blast and we have a lot of people waiting in line to see if they are sinning  when they try to help people in pain. Another Person raised a good question about the goal of responding to the comments of a suffering friend, family member or church member. Let me try to clarify the context of my thoughts.

Suffering and pain are universal, common and daily. We interact regularly with people who are ill, emotionally distressed from stress, grief, trauma and childhood neglect. As we meet and interact with them, these issue arise and we have an opportunity to respond to the Speaker. When we hear the person share his/her distress, what would be the ordinary goal of a friend?

I hope my readers will write and suggest their insights. Jeff baker, Ph. D.  made this comment. My objective is to establish a thorough connection with the suffering person to their satisfaction. Empathy is a part of that but is not complete by itself. One must comprehend their narrative, establish a working metaphor of their situation, identify what they really want to happen, and lastly explore what was important to them that was lost or taken as a result of the injury. One can not over use empathy. But one can reinforce hopeless or helplessness by only using empathy. Empathy and connection builds the pathway for me to challenge people in sometimes very direct ways.

It is sinful to add inappropriately to the Speaker's suffering. It is a sin to speak in ways that do not edify the Speaker. It is a sin to say things that of the flesh not the Spirit. Responses that are from the Spirit are filled with the items mentioned in Galatians 5: Love, joy, patience, kindness, peace, etc. With these ideas in mind, let us proceed.

It is a sin to react with cliches to people who have lost a loved one.I have heard this one stated by well meaning but thoughtless people and even a Minister.

God took your child or mother or sibling because he needed another beautiful flower for His garden".  So, I can conclude that God killed my loved one just to get a flower in His cosmic garden? How callous and painful is that? It leaves the person in pain with no where to go with his/her grief. Plus, this kind of statement is putting ideas into the will and thought of God with no basis in scripture or rational thought.

Do not try to fill in the blanks with your own shallow ideas about why a person dies. Stop talking and start listening. Do not fill the silence with your shallow theology. It is not our job to try to explain the mysteries of life, death, God's will and evil at the time of greatest pain in a person's life.

Silence is golden. Let your words be few. (See ECC 7:15-22)

Gary Sweeten
Books on ministering love

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Great Healing Testimony at The New York Times

I have been involved in Christian activities ever since  I was born. As a young boy of 10 I came to faith in Christ but struggled with my sense of self and fought against God and my parents. then in June of 1968, at age 20, ten years after my first faith experience, I was transformed by the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

That intervention came without fanfare, singing, preaching, my asking or seeking of any kind consciously. But it came in a powerful and meaningful, life changing manner. About ten years later I understood better how to speak of the event but all that matters very little. Like the blind man in the Bible, "All I know is that I was blind and now I see".

A similar thing happened to a lady and described by her in this New York Time's Video.  It is a powerful video and a great testimony to the power of God. her deep touch came suddenly and set her free quickly. That is rare but wonderful so let us give God the glory when we are able to receive such a blessing.

Here is a summary of what happened to this young woman who is now a famous Psychotherapist. 

She was hospitalized again and emerged confused, lonely and more committed than ever to her Catholic faith. She moved into another Y, found a job as a clerk in an insurance company, started taking night classes at Loyola University — and prayed, often, at a chapel in the Cenacle Retreat Center.
“One night I was kneeling in there, looking up at the cross, and the whole place became gold — and suddenly I felt something coming toward me,” she said. “It was this shimmering experience, and I just ran back to my room and said, ‘I love myself.’ It was the first time I remember talking to myself in the first person. I felt transformed.”
The high lasted about a year, before the feelings of devastation returned in the wake of a romance that ended. But something was different. She could now weather her emotional storms without cutting or harming herself. 

What had changed? 

It took years of study in psychology — she earned a Ph.D. at Loyola in 1971 — before she found an answer. On the surface, it seemed obvious: She had accepted herself as she was. She had tried to kill herself so many times because the gulf between the person she wanted to be and the person she was left her desperate, hopeless, deeply homesick for a life she would never know. That gulf was real, and unbridgeable. 

That basic idea — radical acceptance, she now calls it — became increasingly important as she began working with patients, first at a suicide clinic in Buffalo and later as a researcher. Yes, real change was possible. The emerging discipline of behaviorism taught that people could learn new behaviors — and that acting differently can in time alter underlying emotions from the top down.

This is what I call "Healing from Shame" because biblical Shame is a "Complete loss of Identity and Inheritance". The answer is the experience of knowing intellectually and exponentially that God knows us and loves us. When this lady experienced the raw love of God inside her she was delivered from Shame.

Gary Sweeten

Ten Sinful Things we Say To People in Pain #2.

Did you read my last post on this? It might be a good place to begin this journey. On the other hand it might make you uncomfortable so stay away from it. Review the Book of Job to see how friends can sin boldly against a suffering man. Can we count on you to be one of Job's Friends?

Sinful statement #2. This is happening because of sin in your life. This approach is an extension of #1. We have no idea why God is doing what God is doing in our life let alone in your life. But this sinful action statement goes even farther into presumption and bad theology. It is egregious to an extreme.

Not long ago an old friend was diagnosed with cancer. Several of her friends at a supposedly Evangelical, Bible believing church made this comment about her sin to her. She said to me rhetorically, "You have no idea what crazy things people say to you when you have cancer. I was already scared to death and I needed someone to LISTEN not jump to the conclusion that this evil disease was the result of my sin."

First, that is the definition of Karma not Christ. It proves we are thinking like a Hindu not a Christian. To say that Karma, or getting what we deserve, is more powerful in my life than the love, forgiveness and grace of Christ is heresy. The judgmental "Friend of Job" is sinning against the Seeker. By her theology, the cancer will likely boomerang back onto her! (That is NOT my position.) "By grace are you saved and healed not by works."

Second, it further wounds the Seeker who is suffering from emotional and physical pain as well as doubts and fears. The faithless "Friend of Job" is adding to her misery. It is a violation of Ephesians 4:29 which says, Let nothing come out of your mouth that does no build other up.

Third, since Life or death are in the tongue it could very well cause the Seeker to be emotionally, spiritually and physically weaker.  Her cancer might get worse due to a lowering of her immune system. Life and death are real.As we can see in Ephesians 4:29 we can make others and ourselves healthier or sicker.

Is your speech filled with grace, mercy and love or death, destruction and disaster? Read our books on communication found in the bookstore of Sweeten Life

Gary Sweeten

Church Building Destroyed in Moscow

Joe Stalin; A man of great evil.

Our ministry is well acquainted with the repressive policies of the government in Russia. They still use many of the Soviet style ways of pressuring churches, pastors and the people. At about midnight on September 6, without warning, police and thugs showed up at a Pentecostal Church in the Eastern Suburbs of Moscow and started to rip it down. When the Pastor and members showed up to get the song books, musical instruments, and other valuables out they were stopped so everything was crushed and destroyed.(See the story here.)

This midnight invasion was a favorite way the Soviets used to intimidate and terrorize Christians, Jews and other religious believers as well as successful business people. They hated the wealthy and those who loved God and did everything possible to stop them.

Over the 70 years of Soviet rule some 12,000 Orthodox Church buildings were destroyed. Additionally, 92,000 Russian Orthodox Priests were killed plus thousands of Protestant Pastors and Deacons. The Pastor of the Pentecostal Church that was illegally razed last week had already spent 18 years in prison because he refused to deny Christ. Now he faces a homeless congregation.

We are committed to supporting the underground churches as well as those that are visible. Please give generously to our ministry so we can send assistance to the Russian leaders immediately. One of the most powerful Christian leaders in Moscow is a former Muslim who has a very effective outreach to Muslim groups in the former USSR.

We cannot advertise the names or locations of our Russian colleagues. It is not safe to do so. Above all, pray for their safety and health.

Send your donations to:
Sweeten Life Systems
P.O. Box 498455
Cincinnati, OH 45249

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The oppressive Hammer and Sickle 

Ten Sinful Things to Say to a Person in Pain

At any time in the life of a family, church neighborhood and workplace there are members who are suffering. The pain can come from emotional, relational, physical, financial or spiritual causes. the source can be simple, obvious or hidden.

It is easy to sin against a person in pain. It happens every day. The Bible says that "Life and death are in the way we speak to others" and I know I have been guilty of hurting the people I love as well as strangers.

It happens by the callous, hurtful, derogatory and prideful things we say to them and the ways we look at them or talk to others about them.  I will list some of the most egregious sins against others but I am sure you have many more examples from your own life. I have some personal stories to illustrate how  people sinned against me when I was sick, depressed, upset and grieving. You can  comment or add to the list with your personal stories.

The #1 way to sin against a person in pain: Imply or declare that "God is trying to teach them a lesson". To act like we know the purposes and plans of God in our own life is presumptuous but to say we know why another person is suffering is doubly so. Romans 8:26 says clearly that we do not even know how to pray for ourselves let alone how to assess another person's pain. How can I possibly know the will of God in your sickness?

The weaknesses, problems and pains we see in others are often a projection of what God is working out in us. So, it is wise to withhold all judgments about what God is up to when a person is ill lest we reveal our own faults.The very best thing to say is NOTHING! Listen, for Heaven's Sake. Get our book Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty for the best way to minister to hurting friends.

Gary Sweeten

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Am Preaching Sunday

I am speaking Sunday morning at The Dwelling Place Church on Remington Road in Loveland, Ohio. The service begins with sweetly intense worship and praise. Then I will share some insights from one of my books, "Breaking Free" that focus on the care and cure of souls.

Come and hear how the Holy Spirit directed me to completely change my message just before speaking at a revival in southwest Norway. As we prayed and prepared for the service I heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit say, "Change your topic." I protested to the Lord that I had put a lot of time and effort into my talk and that I was not prepared to share on another topic.

I heard the Spirit say, "Speak about healing inner wounds of rejection and trauma".

That did it. I had been working on a new way to teach about wounded souls and how to visualize them and heal them but I needed some additional time to get my thoughts down on paper. The rest of the worship team went out to start the service and I stayed behind to collect my thoughts and do some additional praying. It was exciting, challenging and fun!

On Sunday morning I will tell the rest of the story. Let me end by saying that before the night was over I learned from two widow women in their Eighties why God had directed me to speak on that new topic!

If you are interested in inner healing, come this Sunday or get my books.

Gary Sweeten
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Urgent Prayers Needed for Middle East Ministry

Please keep my friends in prayer as they fly to a Middle Eastern nation tomorrow to do ministry. I am not revealing their names, country of origin or country they will be in for security reasons. One of them is on my board of trustees.

Please pray for safety and a powerful Holy Spirit led ministry time with colleagues.

Gary Sweeten

Communion on the Moon

How Buzz Aldrin's communion on the moon was hushed up
As Neil Armstrong's memorial takes place, it's good to remember why Nasa kept Aldrin's surreal lunar ceremony under wraps

Neil Armstrong will be remembered at Washington National Cathedral today. It's a good moment to look at one eccentric Apollo story: the tale of Aldrin's hushed-up communion on the moon.
Before Armstrong and Aldrin stepped out of the lunar module on July 20, 1969, Aldrin unstowed a small plastic container of wine and some bread. He had brought them to the moon from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder. Aldrin had received permission from the Presbyterian church's general assembly to administer it to himself. In his book Magnificent Desolation he shares the message he then radioed to Nasa: "I would like to request a few moments of silence … and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way."
He then ate and drank the elements. 

The surreal ceremony is described in an article by Aldrin in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine: "I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements."

He also read a section of the gospel of John. During it all, Armstrong, reportedly a deist, is said to have watched respectfully but without making any comment.
The story of the secret communion service only emerged after the mission. Aldrin had originally planned to share the event with the world over the radio. However, at the time Nasa was still reeling from a lawsuit filed by the firebrand atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, resulting in the ceremony never being broadcast.

After the Apollo 8 crew had read out the Genesis creation account in orbit, O'Hair wanted a ban on Nasa astronauts practising religion on earth, in space or "around and about the moon" while on duty. She believed it violated the constitutional separation between church and state. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin explains how astronaut Deke Slayton, who ran the Apollo 11 flight crew operations, told him to tone down his lunar communiqué. "Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general," he advised. Looking back Aldrin writes that the communion was his way of thanking God for the success of the mission. Yet, later he hinted that he could have been more inclusive:

"Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion.
Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists."

But at Webster Presbyterian church – the spiritual home of many astronauts – Aldrin's communion service is still celebrated every July, known as Lunar Communion Sunday. Pastor Helen DeLeon told me how they replay the tape of Aldrin on the moon and recite Psalm eight, which he had quoted on his return trip to Earth ("… what is man that thou art mindful of him"). The church still holds the chalice that Aldrin brought back with him. Judy Allton, a geologist and historian of Webster Presbyterian church, produced a paper, presented at a Nasa conference, arguing that communion could be an essential part of future manned space travel. She claims that rituals such as Aldrin's communion "reinforce the homelink".


Perhaps the greatest need in American churches is helping men and women enrich their marriage and family life skills. We preach against divorce, out of wedlock births and the problems arising from single parent homes but few churches do anything positive to prevent them. The lack of marriage enrichment in Christianity is especially troubling because we know the main causes of troubles and how to prevent major crises. Despite that knowledge, we largely fail to do anything to help couples.

Some churches have a Divorce Recovery Group but few have a Divorce Prevention Group or a Premarital. Go to the Sweeten Life You Tube Channel to see some great videos on dealing with differences in marriage and how to develop better communication patterns or see our web page for more information on family life. 

The Third Option is also a great program in Greater Cincinnati for marriage enrichment and Divorce Prevention

                                         “A Way to a Better Marriage”
                                                   FREE CHILDCARE
                                         Location:   Montgomery Community Church
                                      11251 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45249
                                      Day and Time: Monday OR Thursday 7 PM until 9 PM
                                        Chaplains Dick and Karen Beckman, Directors

Schedule  9/17/12 (M) and 9/20/12(TH) Through 12/3/12(M) 12/6/12(TH)