Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Help Us Win the Cincinnati Innovates Contest

I hope you already know about our entry into The Cincinnati Innovates Contest to see what innovative product will be chosen as the best new initiative in our area in 2015!

Vote Here for us to win at Patient Home Advantage, L3C, registered as Family Resource Builder!

While on their web page, watch our professionally produced 90 Second Video done by Bob Brubaker. It is terrific.

We have developed a tremendously innovative process and tool set designed to allow Caregivers to get deeply involved in assessing and designing the treatment for their loved ones.
It can change Health Care by Empowering Patients, Families and Care Givers who are largely ignored today.

Take a look at our web page at frb30.com 

With your support we will stay in front of an aggressive group of innovations! Help us please!

Gary Sweeten

Does Your Church Welcome Difficult People?

With the current firestorm in America over sex, marriage and faith, it seems a good time to ask a question about change. Does your church go beyond morality to transformation? Would you have welcomed a guy by the name of Saul into your fellowship when you knew he was a terrorist and killer with blood on his hands?

Imagine the scene. James, the Chief Elder of the House Churches in Jerusalem, came to the secret meeting place of the Gathering of Elders with a request. It went something like this.

Well, Brothers and Sisters, things are going well in some regards ever since Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with us and in us on the Day of Pentecost. It seems that in the ten years since that each house group has been effective in reaching our families and friends with the good news. 

Several of you are multiplying and separating so we can accommodate more people into our homes for The Lord's Supper and prayers. We seem to be safe from the Romans and the Pharisees that caused us so much trouble. 

I recently received a letter from our Brothers and Sisters up in Damascus. One of the former dwellers in Jerusalem has come to faith in the Risen Lord and wants to return here to visit with us. Which of you would be able to take this Brother in and care for him? 

After some discussion it comes out that the "Brother" is Saul of Tarsus, the terrorist and persecutor of so many martyrs. What kid of discussion would you imagine the Elders would have about inviting Saul to their homes and secret Elder meetings? 

Is your church a welcoming community?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Christians Were Scared of Counseling

                       A Christian Ministry Building a New Apartment 

When we began our new clinic we thought naively that Pastors and Christian leaders would welcome us with open arms. Was I ever surprised to discover that many did not believe in Counseling because, in their perception, "It was developed by ungodly people and we can consume and use things that are only developed by godly people.

Even worse, since I had been doing Pastoral Care at a large church, I "Had left the church to selfishly make money with secular ideas".  One of my Pastor friends asked me, "Gary, now that you have left the church do you still believe in God?" I said, "More than ever!"

Let's do a thought study now: Are Christians commanded to never buy or use anything created by ungodly people?

Are all Christians commanded to work only in churches?

Can a person that works in a secular job still believe in Jesus?

Do you think all Counseling is heresy?

How did the Early Church grow from 12 Disciples to 35 Million Disciples in about 300 years when none of them "Worked in a church structure? Every one of them was a volunteer or Lay Christian. 

Buy my books and see if I am a heretic! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Multiplying Ministers and Ministries

         Leigh Fopma with the Christian Discipleship Folders

I was able to chat last night with several long time friends and colleagues at the 25th Anniversary Party for Life Way Counseling Centers. Maurie and Lorraine Loomans drove out to the party and we were able to reminisce about the years we spent in ministry at CHPC.

Lorraine was one of our most faithful and effective Peer Helpers a the Teleios Center. She was often partnered with Rev Paul Cocklin, Pastor of the College Hill UMC and they handled many,many "Hot Potatoes" with love and truth!

Maurie was extremely busy and wonderfully gifted as an Elder in Community Ministry, The Monthly Healing Ministry and our Discipleship Ministry that presented most of the equipping workshops around the world. I depended on Maurie to "hear the Spirit speak" when we needed direction or correction.

Hundreds of young people came to Christ through the Community Ministry and thousands received substantial healing at the monthly Healing Services. All of this was the foundation we build Life Way on.

Our goal was to make our church and other churches into "Healing Growth Communities" and our prayer, work and equipping efforts were largely successful because of people like Lorraine and Maurie. 

Peer Power! 

Unleash the Laity!

Ora et Labora

               Karen and me at the Life Way Christmas Party

Consider and think about joy when you encounter trials! The testing of your faith will produce endurance.

Let endurance have its completed and mature effect so you can become mature and complete yourself. James 1:2-3

I was 52 years old when in a comfortable position when I was led to start Life Way. I had dark brown hair and happy at College Hill Presbyterian Church. I loved the people and was treated extremely well by the staff, Elders and members. My stress level was low and I was ready to settle in to several more years of ease in Zion. Then the Holy Spirit intervened and I started a wild new organization. At 52!!!! Crazy, 

Over the years at Life Way we faced so much resistance, so many personal, spiritual, financial and insurance related attacks that my joy has reached unbelievable heights! (Sarcasm!) But we did grow in faith.

As my hair grew white and my resolve failed, we learned how to lean on and trust God plus work like crazy. With the leadership of staff and prayer partners like Steve Griebling we borrowed a slogan: Ora et Labora.

It is the slogan adopted by Franciscan Friars when they went to France to fight diseases and discovered that mosquitoes from the swamps were some of the main culprits. Their slogan, Prayer and Work was perfect for us.

Instead of staff meetings we helped weekly Miracle Meetings because we kept going only if God showed up and we could pay the bills. We prayed, we worked and we marketed ourselves to a skeptical Christian world.

Yes, not only were the agnostics against us, so were many Christians.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Interrogation by Hostile Psychiatrists

My friend Steve Griebling who served as a Clinical Director and Mentor to me.

Dr. Cooper was a fantastic Psychiatrist and a wonderful man. Had it not been for him we would not have survived. He agreed to be our Medical Director in addition to being the Medical Director of the entire hospital. That gave us amazing leverage with the Doctors that were hostile, defensive and very aggressive.

I had to meet with the Medical Staff to present out plan for opening a unit that was Dual Diagnosis, based on Christian values and included a huge Psycho-Spiritual-Education program in addition to the usual Psychotherapy. We had on average 8 hours of Clinical Contact with the Residents as opposed to two or three in traditional units. (This was an extremely radical and unusual move but I learned at on my Dissertation and by trial and error at CHPC how to develop a Therapeutic Community.)

We also mixed Addicts with the Psychiatric Residents and that was, in 1989, a radical shift. (It is the norm now but we were very innovative.)

The Docs were loaded for bear when Dr. Cooper and I met with them. Their attacks were visceral, emotional, and irrational. Thankfully I had learned how to deal with irrational church members so these immature and scared Doctors were no different. One recovering fundamentalist, so he said, asked me in a hostile voice, what I was trying to do. I turned around and faced the Crucifix hanging on the wall with the statement of faith written below it that said:

"We are continuing the healing ministry of Jesus Christ"

I said, "I agree completely with the statement of the Franciscan Sisters. What part do you disagree with?" He was silent.

Then a Doctor said, "I am of a different faith and most of my Patients come from Therapists of my faith. I am afraid that if they hear we have a Christian Unit they will not refer to me. It will cost me money."

I said, "I appreciate your honesty. However, this is a Catholic Christian Hospital and that has not stopped people from referring to you." Second, the Federal and State Law requires hospitals to provide care and therapy that is consistent with the culture and background of the Patient. That is what we are doing.

There were many other attacks both personal and professional but I survived without a heart attack. With the recent actions of the Federal Government to squelch religious freedom and freedom of speech we need to prepare for a lot of this kind of irrational hostility. But God will guide us so fear not. Even under Communism Christians learned how to be faithful and so did we.

When the Doctors saw how successful we were, several of them with other faith preferences changed their minds and requested to work with us.

Dr. Cooper was, as usual, a wonderful support for us. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Want to Stop Violence? These young men need parents, especially fathers

Violence in our cities is rampant. Once in a great while a person is harmed or even killed by a police officer. However, people, especially young people, are killing each other in large numbers.

I pray often about these issues but I have a slogan: Ora et Labora or Pray and Work! These young men and women need two parents. Research shows that kids, especially boys, reared with a missing parent is likely to have numerous health and behavior problems.

March, pray and offer jobs but if we want to really help we will be dads, moms and older siblings. Our ministries in Greater Cincinnati, Columbus, Northern Kentucky, and around the nation have equipped thousands of Peer Helpers to "Heal the broken hearted and set the captives free since 1975. Over 40 years of training caregivers, big brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, how to love people in real time.

See our webpage. 

                                      Autism Conference

How The Lord Gave Us Our Own Unit in a Psych Hospital

The last time I left off with Dr. Cooper asking me to discuss training Psychiatrists how to minister to their Patients.  We each agreed that such a thing was impossible because the were unwilling Students.

Dr. Cooper said, "Well, what can we do to bring faith and spirituality into the hospital? When I was a young Doctor with an advanced degree in Psychiatry and another one in Medications, I was  convinced that faith and God were not needed. I thought we had all the answers. But now, after so many years of treating people I see they need God as well as Psychiatry and Drugs. How can you help us?"

A very bold idea came into my head. Maybe God was speaking to me. " I blurted out, "Why not let me set up my own unit and select Doctors and Counselors that agree with us about spirituality?"

Dr. Cooper said almost immediately, "That is a great idea. We have a unit with 12 beds that are not being used. WE tried to set up a treatment unit for Cocaine Addicts but it did not work. I don't see why you couldn't use it."

A lot more planning and discussions had to take place but that is how it happened. God broke in and set it up.

Life Way Counseling Centers is going strong after 25 plus years! God's presence and provision have been essential every step of the way. 

A Telephone Call That Changed my Life

In the spring of 1989 I was sitting in my office at College Hill Presbyterian Church when a call came in from Dr. Emmett Cooper, Medical Director of Emerson North Psychiatric Hospital next door to the church. Emerson North was an old hospital that had been bought and completely rebuilt as a Psychiatric Hospital by the Franciscan Sisters.

I did not know Dr. Cooper but I did know the hospital and we had been told several times before the Sisters bought it that we could not pray with the Patients there lest we get them to agitated and filled with "Religious Ideation".

As you can imagine, I was somewhat nervous about his call, wondering if one of our Lay Helpers had been praying for the Patients again. Our church had dozens of Lay Pastors and Lay Care Givers who regularly visited the sick and infirm at home, in hospitals and nursing homes.

He was very serious and asked me to come over to visit him at Emerson North. I was even more nervous, but agreed and made an appointment.

I sat down in his very nice office and after offering me a drink, he said, "Dr. Sweeten, I understand you can teach Psychiatrists and Nurses how to integrate prayer and faith into Therapy. Is that right?"

I was befuddled. Where had he heard that? So, I answered cautiously. "Dr. Cooper, do the Psychiatrists want to know how to integrate faith and prayer into their treatment?" He said with a smile, "Probably not". I said, "Then I can't teach them if they do not want to learn."

Then he mentioned that the law required Psychiatric Hospitals to develop better relationships with the community and he was informed by one of the Doctors that many Patients needed to have treatment that included prayer and faith and that I was the only person he knew who could do that.

That is how the whole thing about founding an in-patient clinic called Life Way Counseling Centers started. Next, the rest of the story.

Heal the Broken Hearted and Set the Captives Free

in 1989 the Lord called us to establish a Christ Centered Counseling Center. We called it Life Way! Tomorrow night we are celebrating over 25 years of faithfully carrying out that call. It has been extremely fulfilling yet very challenging and scary.

Does the Equipping Healthier People Actually Work?

                               Christians Growing in Asia!

Name some of the most successful national and international ministries. Successful Means:

1. Growth in Numbers of Members/Adherents
2. Growth in personal, spiritual, emotional, relational maturity.
3. Growth in people that Minister as Peer Care Givers, Evangelists, Teachers, Preachers, Community Volunteers, Group Leaders, Giving, Prosperity, Morality, Reputation, Impact, etc.
4. Growth in Innovation.
5. Growth in Taking Initiative.
6. Growth in Planting Home Ministries.
7. Growth in the Fruit of the Spirit
8. Growth in Understanding and Use of Gifts and Talents.
9. Growth in Power of the Spirit

What do they have in common?

See how to train Christians here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Which International Groups Multiply Best?

I do not know the answer to this question but I do know there are some Christian groups that really do a good job. As noted in another post, a sure sign of health in a ministry is Multiplication of Ministers and Ministries that are truly independent of the "Mother Ship".

There is little or no hierarchy and no bureaucracy. Top down rules and regulations as well as requirements about details of ministry are, IMO, counter productive.

I suggest we all read a little book about the best way to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. It is The Starfish and the Spider.

Get it, read it and contact me.

What Percentage of Return are you Getting?

Jesus said we could expect 30% return, 60% return or 100% return on our discipleship if we sowed seeds in the right soils.

How are you doing? Do you see the numbers of Disciples multiplying at those rates in your church,Bible study or mission? Not many do. In fact almost None!

Is your church doubling every 12 months?

Is it doubling every two years?

Is it doubling every three years?

Why are my efforts so puny compared to what Jesus promised? I do not know but I want to pray about it and see what the Spirit will say to me.

Is it the soil?

Is it the seeds?

Is it the weather?

Is it my lack of faith?

Is it because I plant in the wrong seasons?

Pray about it with me. PLEASE! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Butler County Ohio Help Me Grow

For several years we at Patient Home Advantage have been doing Beta Research studies with the great people at Butler County, especially HMG. HMG is responsible for offering services to any and all families with a Special Needs Child ages Birth to 3. They do a terrific job but like all great organizations they are eager to get better.

With their work insights, research and active participation we have developed a fantastic tool set and process for getting care givers more involved in assessing and treating the child and his/her family. Our goal is to help them get better and to develop a better product at the same time.

Tomorrow we get an opportunity to interact with the Service Coordinators who deliver in-home services and get their feedback on our approach. I am excited to see what happens.

If you are involved with a child or agency that serves children and families let us know so we can show them the good stuff we are developing. It will certainly make the Service Coordinators and Families work better and easier.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why Treat the Lightly Wounded First?

Here are some reasons why we do not try to treat the Badly wounded first.

Treating the Badly Wounded First
Much time demanded
May not survive anyway
Exhausts Medical Staff
Must reject many other Patients
Lightly wounded become worse
Depletes many resources
Less relief from other soldiers. Run out of helpers

What will you add?

If you guessed any 2 of these, let me know and I will send you a copy of Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty

Triage for Many Good Reasons

Treat the lightly wounded first. 

Why? Add your thoughts to the following.

Did Moses teach this?

Did Jesus teach this?

What did Jesus teach about the healing ministry? 

Treat Lightly Wounded
After treatment return to battle
After treatment they can assist Docs
Medical Staff fresh
Takes less time, more treated
More resources

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How Russians are Defeating Drugs

We have many friends from Russia that are involved in helping people in difficulty. Millions of Russians took to drugs including alcohol after the Communists took over. If I had lived under them I might have turned to drugs myself.

The strategy of the most effective programs followed Jesus methods. In fact, a famous Russian Medical Doctor that worked on the battle fields in 1841 and following came up with a plan that allowed them to save many, many more wounded soldiers. His name was Dr. Nickolai Pirogov and he was already a famous Doctor and inventor when he went to serve the wounded. Here is his comment:

Always treat the lightly wounded first. 

Wow! Is that right? Isn't that cruel and callous? Why treat the "Lightly Wounded" before we treat the "Badly Wounded"? Aren't the badly wounded more in need of Medical help? Might they die if you delay treatment? YES!

Than why not treat them first?

If you can answer that question I will send you a copy of my book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How Churches Best Minister to People who are Mentally and Emotionally Distressed

This seems to be a big issue now days. Various people post about it and folks related to such persons have some strong views. Here are my two cents.

First a brief overview of my focus on education, care, counseling and support of people across the spectrum of mental/emotional needs.

I grew up in a village and church that accepted everyone no matter what diagnosis they might have bur nobody knew anything about what we now call "Mental Illness". That was great.

My grandfather was Clinically Depressed and went to bed as a young man. I stayed with him from almost daily age 7 to age 14. I did not know why he was immobilized.

 My uncle had brain damage at age 3. He lived next door and we took care of him. He went to church with us everywhere. He sang, prayed, talked loudly in church, cussed me out in meetings and was totally accepted by everyone.

But things are different now, it seems. Churches have become more sanitized and people with a special need are usually placed in a special room separated from others. In fact, as a kid, we had everyone in church at the same time. Babies, who were still on breast milk, crying and sometimes fighting with siblings. Church was a bit messy but it was like a a family not a performance.

Is that possible today? Probably not but we can teach people how to accept everyone rather than get upset if a distressed kid or adult enters the building. I have seen it done in a lot of churches, but we have to alter our model of what a church is all about from a structured, organization dedicated to performances.

See our web for ideas.

Friday, June 12, 2015

An Answer to Heroin

If only 20% of our churches had recovery groups for Addicts and their Enablers  the heroin epidemic would be greatly deterred.

30% would heal a ton of people.

40% would bring sobriety to almost every home.

Why do churches not pursue healing for families?

Here is how!

Atheistic Depression and Addiction

                           Joe Stalin, murder of millions!

When I first visited Moscow the number of addicts passed out on the street was incredible. Some people estimated that over 50% of the males were addicted to alcohol, drugs, nicotine, etc. I believe it.

Why were so may people sad, anxious and depressed and turning to drugs? The Socialists destroyed all vestiges of religion and useful work. People were supposed to worship Stalin, Lenin and the Party.

Pastors and Priests were persecuted and even killed. The churches were not allowed to offer health care, counseling or care for widows and orphans. The state was supposed to replace personal, social and spiritual compassion. The state was deadly.

The church haters thought that "Rational Thought" would drive religion out of the culture. As soon as people were taught scientific facts about the world, the need for faith would die along with God.

Many in Europe and America are following the same ideas. The government must replace Faith Based Compassion and Morals. If we do not we will be silenced and cut off from the insurance money to pay for adoptions, medical treatment, psychotherapy, etc. Psychiatrists and Counselors were not allowed to help people feel better. They were only allowed to give medications.

Sound familiar?

When the state takes over people are crushed! Sadness and despair are the result. Morals and ethics fail and the nation crumbles. Our work in the former USSR has brought faith, hope and love to thousands. God is alive and faith is growing.

PRAY for our brothers and sisters in Russia and Ukraine. The leaders may be off but the people want God and healing. See our web for ways to support us. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Happiness is Doing What the Bible Says

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have discovered that the Bible works. It is true if we follow it. Maybe they have come to faith in Christ or had a revelation. In fact, they may have an answer to real happiness.

Just as the Bible says, happiness or misery come mostly from the way I think. I am about as happy as I choose to be.

In 1974 I did research on how to "Equip God's people with the truth and skills of biblical living. I discovered that the Bible and basic Psychological ideas really overlap. I had thought Psychology was evil and anti-Christian but I was wrong. In my research I found it was powerfully good when seen through the lens of scripture.

For example, look at Philippians 4 and compare it with the article from The Mayo Clinic.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Is Healing in the Church Important?

About 1/3 of the Gospels have to do with healing. In fact, Jesus was so involved in healing and growth He was and is known alternatively as the "Great Physician" and "Great Teacher".

Think for a moment about the causes and cures of disease, illness, and wounds. God told Moses that the children of Israel left a filthy, despicable, sick people, but they can be protected from getting the "Lifestyle Diseases" Egyptians got and gave to one another. All they had to do was follow His guidance.

Here is the story that preceded God's promise to Moses. (Exodus 15:)

19 When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.

The Song of Miriam

20 Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them:
“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”

Bitter Water Made Sweet

22 Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 

23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. 

24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

From the beginning of God's people they were destined to be carriers of health and hope. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Please Consider Voting for Us. We Need Your Help

Thanks to all who have voted for us, we have maintained our 1st place standing for two weeks in the Cincinnati Innovates contest. Please vote for us today and each week until July 15th. 

Will you help us go viral by forwarding this email to friends and family and using the Social Share links above?

Patient Home Advantage, L3C, is a social enterprise founded by Sweeten Life Systems. We are working with business and government professionals to increase family engagement.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Graduation Long Ago

Many people wonder if I ever really attended school. The answer is, "Yes, in fact several. Additionally, in some I learned a lot and others not so much. But I take responsibility for both. I was sometimes ready to learn and other times I was a rebel. 

Here I was getting a Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 1975! Yes, it was 40 years ago when Gary Penfield, Dick Towner, two of my best friends, and I  walked the longest mile anxiously hoping we had made it. 

Why We Do Online Ministry

For people like me, it can be difficult to spend money, time and energy writing, publishing and doing the work it takes to do good online teaching.

I came to Christ in a small church with caring parents and great Sunday school teachers. We had personal interactions and revival preaching every week.

Things have changed. Young people spend a lot of time on devices of various sorts. They watch Netflix and delay the times of most of their TV programs. You Tube videos are opened and observed billions of times each day.

It is a digital world. So, we must have a digital presence that is good and in fact great.

Can Christians compete in the digital age? Yes, but it takes time, money and expertise. In my view it also requires a personal presence. At Sweeten Life we have both.

We work with Pastors and Leaders to help them impact families and individuals, especially those with a special need. Our new work is focused on kids with a disability.

What do you think? Let me know.