Saturday, June 29, 2013

Family Trauma

There is a series of research studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation that showed how the loss of a parent in childhood negatively impacted adults. The Adverse Childhood Events Research showed a remarkably high correlation between parental loss and adult diseases.

They looked at various ways a child could lose a parent. Drugs, Prison, Death, Sickness, Abandonment, etc. When they looked closely at the medical records of over 18,000 people they found a step-wise correlation between the number of losses and the percent of people who had the noted diagnosis. 

 0 Losses-Very few drug users
1 Loss-it rises to 4%
2 Losses it rises dramatically to 1.3%
4 Losses it is sky high at 3.0%

The impact of Adverse Childhood Losses dramatically increases with every loss.

See Breaking Free, my book on how to bring healing to adults with ACE

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Crisis in American Marriages

The pressure to recognize gay marriages is not the biggest threat to traditional marriage and parenting. The greatest threat is heterosexuals who are poorly trained to manage heterosexual relationships. The key is to equip Christians to do a better job of

1. Pre-Marital Prep
2. Marriage enrichment
3. Parent Training
4. Healing Marriages
I suggest that churches stop all other programming to focus on building strong families. Nothing is as important.
If you do not believe me, or common sense, believe the research.

Family breakdown is the greatest threat to American society there is. I read a series of studies when I first entered grad school by a man named Harry F. Harlow. He took Rhesus Monkeys and separated them from their mothers for differing lengths of time.  The name of one was The Heterosexual Affection System of Primates and he discovered that a lack of parental nurture in babies led to monkey that had no interest in heterosexual sex.

When they did have sex and produced a baby there was a tendency of the parent to beat the child.

What can we do about it? Love those who struggle and establish centers of healing in every church.  Our web has many free videos on healing and growth and materials you can buy. I hope you can use them.

The Family Resource Builder is a wonderful tool for couples to use in private to enrich their marriages and family life. I urge each of us to take the Self Assessment and work to renew our relationships.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Marriage in Crisis

It appears that marriage is being crushed by a combination of cultural change, rising expectations, sexual promiscuity and poor life skills. After the two decisions by the Supreme Court some will say that gay rights are a big threat to marriage. I disagree. Although the cultural tsunami is bring great changes in sexual practices, in my view that is not the greatest challenge to traditional male-female marriage.

The biggest challenge is coming from heterosexuals who do not know how to manage themselves and a complex family life. According to Dr. John Gottmann the greatest threat to a couple's long term survival is an inability to deal with differences.

My wife and I were discussing why we have a great marriage after almost 52 years.

1. We come from the same culture. Rural southern Illinois.
2. We were both reared as Christians
3. We were both Baptists
4. We were then and are still Christians
5. We have a lot of fun
6. We are romantically attracted to each other
7. We flee immorality
8. We have intentionally attended classes, conferences and seminars on interpersonal skills for problem solving, conflict management, communication, etc
9. We each received a lot of inner healing
10. We know about personality differences and giftedness so we affirm differences
11. We are committed to work issues through

Why have you all stayed together or split apart?

See our free videos on marriage and family life and books on communication

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Why are leaders nearly always called Elders in the Bible?

1. Seminary Graduate?
2. Ordained?
3. Graduated from high school?
4. Older, mature adult?

It is # 4. As I mentioned earlier St. Paul required Leaders/Pastors to have grown children, otherwise it was impossible to see if they can lead. If they cannot lead their own little family how can they lead the family of God?

Not only that, but lead them to have mature, healthy relationships.  The ability of their children to "Speak the truth in love" is evidence that the parents modeled that skill and level of emotional maturity. Such maturity is sorely lacking in the church/para-church leaders.

As my wife asked rhetorically after a particularly angry, immature statement by a famous Christian, "Why are so many famous leaders immature, angry men?"  We need leaders who have been well trained by parenting to be full of the Fruit of the Spirit.

The family forges and equips Pastors and Leaders and the quiz is how their kids act.

Read our mateials on healing, growth and equipping.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ready to Lead the Church?

Timothy was about 45 years old when Paul urged him not to worry about being too young. 

Elders are called elders because they:

1. Went to seminary
2. Are ordained
3. Graduated from High School
4. Were older, mature adults

Who was the most influential convert in all Christian history from the early church onward?

Why did you nominate him/her?

(One seminary student nominated Mohammed. What do you suppose was his reasoning? )

See our free materials at sweetenlife. 

When Is A Person Ready to Lead/Pastor/Minister?

 One of the big issues of the church today and for the past 2,000 years is readiness for ministry. Paul wrote to his Disciple Timothy about this issue.

1 Timothy 3:3 It is a true statement that anyone whose goal is to serve as an elder has his heart set on a good work. An elder must be such a good man that no one can rightly criticize him.

He must be faithful to his wife. 

He must have self-control and be wise. 
He must be respected by others. 
He must be ready to help people by welcoming them into his home. 
He must be a good teacher. 
 He must not drink too much wine
He must not be someone who likes to fight. He must be gentle and peaceful. 
He must not be someone who loves money. 

 He must be a good leader of his own family. This means that his children honor him with dignity and respect. If a man does not know how to lead his own family, he will not be able to take care of God’s church?

WOW! Those are high standards. Let's start with parenting our children with dignity. That term means to have a balanced life of relationships. In other places the Bible says to be able to "Speak the truth in love". Be balanced in truth telling and loving, merciful, relationships. 

Dignity is the term Semnotes in Greek. That is a balance between Aggressiveness and Passivity. We would call it Assertiveness today. 

A Pastor must have reared adult children to be Assertive. This means young people without a spouse and teenage children would not qualify for Pastoring. No wonder Pastors and their spouses have so many problems in Ministry. They have no experience with great parenting skills. That is where we learn to lead, not graduate school. 

Truth separated from experience will always be in doubt.

See our materials on maturity.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


A group of women were at a seminar on how to live in a loving relationship with your husband. The women were asked, "How many of you love your husband?"
All the women raised their hands.

Then they were asked, "When was the last time you told your husband you loved him?"

Some women answered today, some yesterday, some couldn't remember.

The women were asked to take out their cell phones and text their husband: "I love you, sweetheart."
After that they were told to exchange phones and to read aloud the message responses.
Here are some of the replies:
1.   Who is this?
2.   Eh, mother of my children, are you sick?
3.   I love you too.
4.   What now?  Did you crash the car again?
5.   I don't understand what you mean?
6.   What did you do now?
7.   ?!?
8.   Don't beat about the bush, just tell me how much you need?
9.   Am I dreaming?
10.    If you don't tell me who this message is actually for, someone will die.

11.    I thought we agreed we would not drink during the day. 
12.    Your mother is coming to stay, isn't she??

Want to learn to communicate better? Go to our web and watch some of the videos. They are FREE!

What Do I Do?

I recently met with a Professional Counselor that grew up at College Hill Church when I was Minister of Discipleship. She took my classes and became very interested in working to "Equip Christians to care and love each other" like we did at CHPC. After starting a family she received her Masters Degree and is wondering how to move forward.

This young lady is very bright with a lot of volunteer experience with Youth, Pre-Marital, Small Groups, Peer Helping, etc. One of her questions to me started me thinking about how to explain my life's work. She asked, "What are you? A Pastor, A Counselor, a Teacher, an Entrepreneur, or what?"

It was a great question. I answered, "Yes, I am!" She laughed.

Because of my religious, educational and Counseling backgrounds I see the need for all that. Thankfully, my Master's Degree emphasized the power of community bring either positive or negative changes in individuals and groups.My intensive experience in 1969 with Carl Rogers and O.H. Mowrer,two of the most noted Psychologists in the world, at a summer workshop farther solidified my convictions about the power of the emotional milieu to hurt or heal. 

Then the research grew about the importance of  relationships in the care and counsel of persons regardless of their situations in life. Sweeten Life's slogan is: "Building a lifetime of great relationships".

Below is a chart to assist Christian leaders to quickly assess people with who they interact.

Type A. No Life Interrupting Issues
Level 1. Very healthy and balanced.
Level 2. Healthy but some areas need strengthened or dysfunction can occur
Type B. Some Life Interrupting Issues requiring Help
Level 3. Somewhat anxious, sad, can't sleep, may use alcohol or prescription drugs
Level 4. Very anxious, depressed, using drugs,family crises
Level 5. Unable to cope. Serious issues
Chart taken from Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty. Available from our bookstore.

Think of persons you know in each category. How many people, percentage wise, are, in each category are in your family or business or church?

Do you know what to do? As the song goes:

You go to know when to hold em
Know when to fold em
Know when to walk away and know when to run!

Do you run when holding would be better or hold on when running is needed?

Next, we will examine how to help these persons and how the church can be best involved safely.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Great Reports from International Equipping Centers

I spoke last night for an hour with one of our key sister organizations. They are located in Russia and the former USSR and train others all over the former Communist region. It is fostering a renewal and revival in Orthodox, Protestant, Baptist, Pentecostal and Adventist groups. That alone is miraculous.

My friend reported that they just graduated an entire new class of Peer Helpers who will be deployed in various churches and community centers. They completed a year-long Peer Counseling Program after going through at least two years of personal healing and growth before being allowed to enter the school. Those new Helpers/Counselors will work with drug addicts, marriages, parents, and people with depression and anxiety.

Please pray for the Spirit filled Believers there and send us a donation to support them. 100% of all donations go directly to the named international ministry. 

You can donate on our web page or to:

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

Another powerful international testimony is coming later. National Christians make the best missionaries in their own nations and cultures.

Research on Post Traumatic Stress

Individuals who have experienced traumatic events oftentimes suffer psychological stress. In most instances, these are normal reactions to abnormal situations. Individuals who feel they are unable to regain control of their lives, or who experience the following symptoms for more than a month, should consider seeking professional counseling.

The symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress

  • Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event.
  • Having trouble sleeping or changes in appetite.
  • Experiencing anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to events or situations reminiscent of the trauma.
  • Being on edge, being easily startled or becoming overly alert.
  • Feeling depressed, sad and having low energy.
  • Memory problems including difficulty in remembering aspects of the trauma.
  • “Scattered" and unable to focus on work or daily activities. Difficulty with decisions.
  • Feeling irritable, easily agitated, or angry and resentful.
  • Feeling emotionally "numb," withdrawn, disconnected or different from others.
  • Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness.
  • Feeling extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones.
  • Unable to face some aspects of the event. Avoids activities, places, or people that remind you of the event.
The APA gratefully acknowledges Richard Tanenbaum, Ph.D., Deborah DeWolfe, Ph.D., and Anne Marie Albano, Ph.D., for their contributions to this fact sheet. American Psychological Association 202/336-5800.

I am thankful for research such as this. It is consistent with research on these matters that have been around since Harry F. Harlow did his seminal research in the 1950's.  Yes, I said the research goes back to the turn of the last century! I attended undergraduate college and graduate school from 1960-1975. My Master's and Doctorate are each in the areas of Psychology and Counseling and had to read a lot of these kinds of studies. All of them come to similar conclusions. 

How can we best respond to this frightening and discouraging insight?

I say that we know how to bring healing to children and adults damaged by Shock, Trauma, Abuse and Neglect. 

The single most important response is to interact with distressed persons, regardless of their age, race, faith or diagnosis, with GREW Skills.  GREW stands for:

Genuine concern & honesty about the person, his/her feelings and his views of the event

Respect for the person's perceptions, memories, fears and emotions. Do not put him down, deny his feelings or try to hurry the recovery process.

Empathy by listening carefully and accurately to the details of the event, her feelings and concerns but avoiding sympathy or over feeling their feelings. 

Warm interactions that include good eye contact, an open posture and appropriate touch such as a hug or pat on the back. Tune into the emotional level of the victim. Weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh.

Wounded people can get better. They need to talk and or write about experiences, feelings, including survivor guilt. Some may wish to confess guilt, so forgive it without argument. They ask "Why God allowed the event to occur?" We cannot give quick, cheap or instant answers. The questions are part of the healing process. Encourage the normal expressions of anger, denial and sadness-depression. Beware the expression of premature joy.  Do not sing happy songs to a sad heart

We have successfully training Counselors both Lay and Professionals how to bring healing and release to hurting persons. We get consistent feedback from trainees all over the planet who are seeing distressed persons set free to live lives of health and peace.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

911 Memorial at Ground Zero

I had the privilege and the challenge to serve as a Chaplain and Crisis Counselor with the First Responders at Ground Zero. The Salvation Army called Life Way Counseling Centers and four of us flew up to New Jersey at the beneficiaries of Delta Airlines.

It was almost two weeks after the attack and the First Responders were overwhelmed and needed some Pastoral Care and Counseling. It was overwhelming in scope and tragic impact.

This is the scene at Ground Zero the day we left. Fires continued to burn and the stench was overpowering. The First Responders had been working around the clock for days with little relief. They needed a listening ear and prayer.

A scene from Dante's Inferno. Toxic smoke and intense heat attacked the rescuers. Gary and Karla with hard hats and ID Tags standing beside the three tents Salvation Army had for food and drinks, clothes and boots and Medical Treatment. 

I returned last week to see the memorial. It is very impressive.

Get the book Steve and I wrote about ways to heal hurting persons. It has proven to be the best way to help people in a crisis. Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Using The 12 Steps for Daily Spiritual Growth #24.

In this series I am posting my ideas about spiritual healing and growth. It is a largely neglected topic in my view. Few magazines discuss it hardly any blogs or books take it on as a key topic and even when the focus it usually talks only about intellectual stimulation and growth.

Some of the very best materials and practices that have been proven to foster healing and growth that I have ever seen come from the Anonymous Groups. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded as a result of a Deeper Life Movement led originally by a Lutheran Youth Minister. It changed the dynamics of growth from the duty of a Clergyman to the People.

Ever since Constantine took over Christianity and merged it with the state the church model has been modeled after a monarchy. According to the book, On the Tail of a Comet by Garth Lean, Frank Buchman began a revival of consecration and spiritual renewal called Moral Re-Armament and later The Oxford Movement which took Christianity back to its earliest days of home groups and lay ministry.  In America, some men who struggled with alcohol addiction came to Christ and got involved in The Oxford Movement. These men later developed the Steps of Moral Renewal into the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Other than scripture, they are a needed daily ritual for healing and growth for every person but especially addicts and their relatives. We call them:

The Twelve Steps of Wholeness

A process of Christian growth

Steps 1-3 get me into a personal, caring relationship with God.

1. I admitted I was powerless over my problems-that my life had become unmanageable.

2. I came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

3. I made a decision to turn my life over to the care of God as I understood Him

          Romans 7shows us the problem and the answer

Steps 4-6 get me cleaned up morally and spiritually.

4. I made a searching and fearless moral inventory

5. I admitted to God myself and to another person the exact nature of my wrongs.

6. Was entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Steps 7-9 help me change and get healed in my relationships.

7. I humbly asked Him to remove my shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons I had harmed; became willing to make amends to them.

9. Made direct amends to such persons whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

 Steps 10-12 get me on a continual process of healing, peace and growth.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and promptly admitted when I was wrong.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, praying only for the knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry it out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, I tried to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all my affairs.

Do you have any 12 Step Groups in your church?

  Learn more about spiritual healing and growth by reading our web pages and watching our FREE video tapes. Great things are happening at Sweeten Life Systems. Why not come along side and support our dynamic and Christ honoring program of love that brings great change?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Why Healing Hearts is Crucial #23.

Adverse Childhood Sexual Actions and Adult Behavior

Child Abuse Negl. 1999 Apr;23(4):383-94.
Childhood sexual abuse and re-victimization in adolescence
Department of Psychology,
University of Potsdam, Germany.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the link between childhood experiences of sexual abuse and subsequent re-victimization in adolescence.
METHOD: A sample of 281 female adolescents between 17-20 years of age, who participated in a prevalence survey of unwanted sexual contacts, completed the Sexual Experiences Survey as a measure of unwanted sexual contacts in adolescence and indicated whether or not they had experienced childhood sexual abuse.
RESULTS: Childhood experiences of sexual abuse were reported by 8.9% of the respondents, a further 8.5% indicated they were not sure if they had been sexually abused as children. Both abused women and women uncertain about their victimization status were significantly more likely to report unwanted sexual contacts as adolescents than women who did not state abuse. The link between childhood abuse and subsequent victimization was mediated by a higher level of sexual activity among the abuse victims.
CONCLUSIONS: The results support existing evidence on the impact of childhood sexual abuse on sexual relationships in subsequent developmental stages and underline the need to consider childhood sexual abuse as a risk factor of adolescent sexual victimization.


This is why Christians must regain the biblical practices of healing the inner heart. It will mean we need to stop focusing so much on outward behavior. We try to stop immoral behavior by threats, preaching, guilting, shaming and warnings but none of those work.  

Only Inner Healing can break the Cycle of Compulsive Behavior. "Out of the ROOT comes the FRUIT. The fruit is Compulsive sex, drugs, alcohol, work, pornography use, etc. That behavior is designed to numb the pain of past Shock, Trauma,Abuse and Neglect. 

See my book Breaking Free to learn how the Holy Spirit can heal you and others. Then read Power Christian Thinking to learn how to stop beating yourself up every day with Stinking Thinking.