Sunday, February 26, 2017

Protecting Our Kids

It seems that predators of all sorts are more aggressive when I was younger. Maybe it is just my perception.

A story from Healthy Visions, a local nonprofit that works to help teenagers thrive, informs us about the fact that disabled youths are more at risk than other teens. Take look at it here to see what you can do to protect them. 

As you know, one of our biggest ministries to families is a focus on kids with a disability or special need. About 20% of all families are rearing such a child. As a result of a grant from The Hatton Foundation, we have developed ways to bring a family together in harmony to set goals and take action steps to support their child and relieve stress of everyone.

Go to Sweeten Life to learn more.

Thanks, Gary Sweeten

Friday, February 24, 2017

Caring Relationships can Actually Heal PTSD

             We ministered to First Responders at Ground Zero

PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that millions of people suffer from. It occurs as a result of a traumatic event we have suffered in the past. In past wars we might have called the condition "Shell Shock" but it is not restricted to Adverse Events suffered by adults in war. It is experienced by many people as a result of childhood losses and toxic events.

Over the years we in the Teleios Ministry at College Hill Presbyterian Church developed groups, classes, and prayer events. The goal was always continuing the healing ministry of Jesus. Many habits developed as a result of Adverse Childhood Events (ACE). You can get an overview of our approach by getting a copy of my eBook The Healing Release of the Holy Spirit from my website. 

Let me hit the high spots about the best and most comprehensive way to overcome PTSD.

1. Equip everyone in the church with caring skills and attitudes.  Genuineness, Respect, Empathy and Warmth. The GREW Skills! It is Love In Action. Get the eBook Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.

2. Spirit filled thinking. Almost everyone with PTSD struggles with Stinking Thinking or Pessimistic Obsessions. They tend to take negative, pessimnistic thinking to new heights of self rejection, guilt, shame and self destruction. How can that be changed? We wrote materials that equip everyone with Power Thinking. It's called Power Christian Thinking.

More on healing PTSD so make sure you follow us. Like us and share with others.

Gary Sweeten

Quick Fixes

For decades we educators have lamented the fact that we feel pressure to "Fix broken things fast". In a microwave world we can zap a potato for a couple of minutes and get it ready to eat. As a result, Zapping problems has become an expectation for every issue we face.

We have a terrorism problem, "Bomb It"!
We have a medical problem, "Cut it out or make a pill for it"!
We have a chronic poverty problem, "Throw money at it".
We have an addiction problem, "Give out clean needles".
We have kids without parents in poor countries, "Send rich Americans to build big homes for them"!
We have a refugee problem, "March"!

My conclusion? "There is no issue, crisis, problem or illness that we cannot ZAP!" And that means we  rarely devise plans that work for the long run. and, when things don't work we look for someone to blame and shame.

Maybe that is why so many people are polarized and cursing those with whom they disagree. As a Christian Educator and Family Therapist, I want to see churches develop ongoing activities to equip everyone for long term changes. We all need to learn how to live in healthily ways and pass it on to others. That takes members who care and support each other over the long term.

And, it is happening in many, if not most, churches. Being a friend that will listen and pray is extremely valuable. Our research with parents of a sick child indicated that they really need and want friends to talk with and pray with. They did not ask for medical assistance or magic, just a friend.

I want to be the modern Mr. Rogers and suggest that friendship and prayers are like water and oxygen. They are necessary for survival.

Want a good read? Check out our eBooks here.

Gary Sweeten

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Assessing Church Health and Impact

Since leaving the staff of a church in 1989 to open a Christ centered Clinical Counseling and in-patient center I have had the opportunity to visit and minister in a lot of different churches. One of my ministries has been and continues to be Mentoring and supporting Christians in formal and informal ministries.

I have seen a lot of different churches here in the USA and around the world. As a result I have developed ideas about the effectiveness of leaders, various church structures, and theological approaches.

Assessing Effectiveness on a 1-10 Scale:
Orthodox Theology:
A Focus on Growth and Healing
Good Preaching and Teaching
Scripture: Truth
Relationships: Fruit
Gifts of the Spirit
Practical Life
Ministry to Children and Youth
Ministry to Couples and Families
Equipping Members to Serve
Worship Quality and Variety
Outreach to Non-Believers
Compassionate Outreach
Variety of Ways to Enter Church Activities
A Good Reputation in the Wider Community

There are possibly more.

What do you want to add to the list?

What do you think is quality?

Get our materials to learn how to do these things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Laugh a Day Keeps the Undertaker Away

From my high school friend, Mary Helen Myers Watson
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~

A person who has stopped growing at both ends
and is now growing in the middle. 

A place where women curl up and dye. 

The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead. 

A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours. 

Mud with the juice squeezed out. 

Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation. 

Cold Storage. 

Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.

An insect that makes you like flies better. 

A grape with a sunburn. 

Something you tell to one person at a time. 

A bunch of bones with the person scraped off. 

The pain that drives you to extraction. 

One of the greatest labour saving devices of today. 

An honest opinion openly expressed. 

And MY Personal Favorite!! 

Something other people have, 
Similar to my character lines.

Improve your Family Life

The very first new ministry I started when I was at College Hill Presbyterian Church was a Pre-Marital Preparation series. We all knew that some 50% of all Marriages were ending in divorces and we wanted to do something to prevent that from happening.

What we came up with was a series of classes on key topics with a follow up by one of the mature couples in our church to Mentor the newbies in the cold, hard realities of keeping a long-term relationship alive.

One of the best things that happened as a result of our series was some decided to cancel the plans to marry. When several people complained about the breakups, I said it was good to split BEFORE the marriage ceremony not after.

If you know a couple that is madly in love, ask them to answer on paper privately key questions about married life. Then share them with you present. Some are copied from Dennis Cole, Pastor of Lifegate Church in Northern Kentucky.

1. What are the greatest memories of your home growing up? (That is what they will want in the marriage.)

2. How many children do you want?

3. Which of you gets up at 2:00 AM to feed the baby?

4. How much money do you give to the church?

5. How much money do you want to save each month?

6. Where do we go on holidays like Christmas?

7. How do we discipline our kids?

Any other stormy issues?

Get my books on healthy relationships and avoid Toxic Conflict!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dealing with Disagreements!

My latest blog post on the Sweeten Life Blog focuses on the need for skills to deal with differences. I will say again that divorces and family conflicts tend to occur bcause people cannot agree to disagree agreeably!

My family of origin did not deal with differences well. Politics split us. Despite his commitment to free speech, Dad could not stand Republicans. He almost had a heart attack when my brother announced he voted for Nixon.

That kind of emotional reactivity is dangerous to any person that carries such out-of-control feelings. A reactive person is a slave to every person that wants to "push his buttons" and cause a meltdown. A manipulator can tell if their target person is reactive and can bait him to get upset and lose control. When the terget loses control the manipulator can turn him and twist him in the wind. Many people, especially in the media, are allowing President Trump to do that to them right now.

Here is my attempt to foster freedom of speech and freedom of thought in religion, politics and other issues.

A Great Service at Vineyard NW

I was really blessed by the services today. Great worship, inspiring interview with a couple that has launched a ministry locally to show love with hope and specific actions to women in prostitution. It is called Woven139 after Psalm 139 that says "God wove us together in our mother's womb.

Van spoke on the development of their new Vision and Mission and I found them to be profound. It is based partly on the Lord's Prayer

They Kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven

If my notes are correct, the mission is:

To establish a culture that welcomes the Kingdom of God on earth.

I like it. For the past few weeks I have been listening to Bishop Tom Wright teach on "When God Became King" and it is all about carrying on the Kingdom of God on earth. So, Van was hitting on all the cylinders that Bishop Wright had opened for me.

In the Kingdom of God we act like the early church. We are a beachhead in a fallen, broken society that desperately needs the healing and liberation of Jesus Messiah. We pray, we praise, we heal, we feed, we care, we love.

The Kingdom is here. We can't build it or enlarge it. God has already done it. We can seek it, love it, and live in it.

Contact the church here. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Shame and Shaming are on the Rise

I have written and taught extensively on the biblical difference between True Moral Guilt and Shame. I am currently reading a series of articles that focus on that issue in a very interesting manner. They are writing a lot about Shame Cultures and how Christians can commmunicate with them without offending the people in that culture.

Almost every writer and American talking head addresses Guilt and Shame from a psychological perspective that excludes the biblical approach. Secular psychology does the following when discussing guilt and shame.

They suggest that Guilt is the feeling that we have after having done something bad.

They suggest that Shame is the feeling that I am a bad, awful hateful person. 

Those are feelings and fail to trace the origins of them to a deeper truth. From a biblical/spiritual perspective, both Guilt and Shame are far different and far deeper.

Guilt is the reality of condemnation by a court of Justice when we violate God's will. 

A guilty person may or may not experience "feelings of guilt" but it is a fact that we are guilty. Many persons that commit awful acts against society and other people do not "feel" guilty. An inability to "feel" guilt is a mark of narcissism. The result of true moral is conviction by God and/or a moral sensibility that I deserve to be punished. 

Shame is the reality and sense that I have lost or betrayed my Identity and Inheritance as a Christian.  The result is a sense that I will be rejected from the community of believers. 

Some churches and cultures teach that failure to follow the rules of the group deserve to be Shamed and shunned. Shunning occurs in "Closed Systems" that want to send a message of eternal death to anyone that fails to mimic the preferred behavior and norms. 

If you are interested in culture, truth, fake news, how to respond to Political Correct friends, read those articles.

If you want to read my PDF eBook on the scriptural ideas behind both True Moral Guilt and Shame, get The Healing Release of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Positive Peer Pressure

Yesterday I posted my thought about how peer pressure can cause us to violate our integrity. Today I show how to resist peer pressure. Here is the rest of the research story.

The experiment was changed ever so slightly. One of the paid assistants was told to choose the truly longest line. This one small movement of support made a remarkable difference. What do you think happened when they did this?

The naive students felt free to choose according tom their own ideas. They would easily and happily speak up and choose the right one. Their countenance was bright and they never gave in to peer pressure. With the support of only one person on their side the feelings and behavior changed dramatically.

Jesus said, “Where two or more are gathered in my name I am there”. 

They always had a partner to stand with to proclaim the good news. And, He always sent the disciples out two by two. 

We need each other if we are to make a difference in the world. We need community. We need mutual support.

You know why mountain climbers are tied together?                                                                                          

To keep the sane ones from going home.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Peer Pressure and Misery

The pressure is on us as Christians to give in to support evil or close our eyes to it. How can we stand with love and truth when the pressures of the world get to us? 

A psychological experiment was done to find out if it helps to have support when we make a difficult decision. Twenty college students sat in front of a screen on which two lines of different lengths were shown. The first 19 were lab assistants paid to say the short one was longer.  They all agreed to lie in order to see how the naive student in each group would respond.

Imagine what you would do it you saw two lines and instantly knew which is longer. You are confident. However, after each of the others picks the short one, you are not so sure. What would you do? Agree with the crowd or take a stand and speak the truth? Either is very difficult.

1. Some students agreed with the majority against their own judgment. They knew it was wrong but they conformed to peer pressure.

2. Others spoke honestly but did so with lowered heads and ashen faces. They felt shame and pain but stayed true to themselves.

How did the students react emotionally? 

Neither was happy. I can imagine how guilty and ashamed the students were who gave in to peer pressure. I can also imagine how the strong students felt when they had to take a stand against peer presure. Peer pressure to do something wrong leaves everyone feeling badly.

It is obvious why so many news outlets print articles that support one side or one person and try to get readers on their side against others. Peer pressure works! Media know it and politicians know it. Mobs know it and people that lie with statistics know it. 

So, how can we stand on truth and principle? See the next Post on ways we can protect our integrity.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Supporting the Abused and Traumatized

Stop Talking and Start Listening

I recently happened to sit next to a couple of ladies at a meeting on evil in the world who began to discuss evil and pain in the world. One started telling her personal story and it gripped me deeply. Not only the pain and awful evil that her husband put her through, that was incredible and ongoing for years.

This lady was finally able to break out of her marriage and pain but it took several years. The other three of us were mesmerized with her telling. However, one had some advice for her that she quickly rejected as useless.

I asked a couple of questions to make sure she knew we were open to hear the story and pain. It opened her gate so she really poured her heart out to three strangers. I learned later that the reason she came to the group was to share her pain.

Thankfully, she went on despite the fact that we were strangers. Thankfully, we were able to tune in to her deep heart and conclusions. The reason was were were willing to care and allow her to be a courageous, gutsy, mature woman. She had wisdom we all needed to hear.

Even after the event was long past, my new friend needed to tell us more. And tell she did with tears and grit!

There are several lessons here, I think.

First, "Be quick to listen and slow to advise".
Second, we never know when a person with pain will be ready to unload so get ready to hear with love.
Third, "We have little if any knowledge about how to help a person that has been abused.

What would you add?

You can learn to listen by going to our web site and watching our free videos plus get my eBook on PDF called "How to be me in my Family Tree".

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Iraq: Fallujah refugees are coming to Christ

Many of my friends have been posting very compassionate things about the poor, traumatized peopole in the Middle East. I applaud the love and care of the people and have an article you might want to read about evangelism there. 

I suggest we think how to take some action steps quickly. We are helping refugees as well as PRE-Refugees". Pre-Refugees are the millions of displaced people persecuted and traumatized by terror and war that are not currently escaping to the West. We are helping them. Now! 

You can help by supporting us and other missions in that region. 

Frontiers published an encouraging update on the situation in Fallujah, Iraq, the town under ISIS control that was reclaimed by Iraqi troops last Summer. Thousands of people from Fallujah had fled to a nearby refugee town dubbed the City of Refuge. Frontiers USA tells us that in the last 18 months, through the work of indigenous missionaries, over 140 people in the City of Refuge have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

As Iraqi forces work to secure Fallujah (the city still suffers from ISIS suicide bombs) and resume public sanitation, Frontiers’ President Bob Blincoe says some of these new Christians want to go back to their homes and share the hope they’ve found through Christ. “They have a mission and have been baptized, which is a real step of faith in the Muslim world.”

Contact us here to support our mission to traumatized people here andaround theworld.