Friday, November 30, 2007

Do You Believe?

Doctor’s Spiritual Belief May Affect Care

Spiritual or Religious Doctors More Likely to Believe Religion Affects Personal Health
By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 9, 2007 -- Most U.S. doctors agree that religion and spirituality have a significant effect on a person’s health, according to a new survey on doctor’s spiritual beliefs.

But doctors who themselves are religious or spiritual are more likely to see the impact of religion or spirituality on personal health as positive and believe it strongly influences health.

Researchers say the findings support recommendations that doctors recognize how their own beliefs influence how they provide care.

"Physicians' notions about the relationship between religion and spirituality and patients' health are strongly associated with physicians' own religious characteristics," write researcher Farr Culin, MD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Consensus seems to begin and end with the idea that many [if not most] patients draw on prayer and other religious resources to navigate and overcome the spiritual challenges that arise in their experiences of illness," write the researchers. "Controversy remains regarding whether, to what extent and in what ways religion and spirituality helps or harms patients' health."

Doctors’ Spiritual Beliefs Affect Care

In the study, researchers mailed surveys to a random sample of 2,000 U.S. doctors from all specialties. Participants were asked to estimate how often patients raised religious or spiritual issues, how much religion and spirituality affect health, and how the influence of religion and spirituality is manifested.

Among the more than 1,100 doctors who returned the survey, the results showed that 56% believed religion and spirituality had much or very much influence on health.

But only 6% believed religion or spirituality had changed “hard” medical outcomes.

Instead, most doctors believed that religion and spirituality:

  • Often helps patients cope with illness (76%)
  • Gives patients a positive state of mind (74%)
  • Provides emotional and practical support through the religious community (55%)

Compared with those who rated themselves as not very religious, those who were more religious were more likely to:

  • Report that patients often mention religious or spiritual issues
  • Believe religion and spirituality strongly influences health
  • Interpret the influence of religion and spirituality in positive rather than negative ways

SOURCES: Curlin, F. Archives of Internal Medicine, April 9, 2007; vol 167: pp 649-654. News release, Archives of Internal Medicine.

Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
Viktor E. Frankl

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fund Raising

As you may know if you know me, I do not like to do fund raising by sponsoring a lot of golf matches and gala parties. The article below from The Journal of Philanthropy electronic version says why I do not think it is a good idea to get support these kinds of efforts.

Gary Sweeten

November 19, 2007

Galas and Golf Outings Hurt Fund-Raising Efficiency

Are charities hurting themselves by focusing too much on playing host to special events and not enough on face-to-face fund-raising?

Officials from two Long Island nonprofit organizations tackled that question in an opinion article published this weekend in Newsday.

Marsha Gittleman, director of development and public relations at United Cerebral Palsy of Suffolk, and James R. Rennert, province director of development at the Cenacle Sisters, argue that fund raisers are often burning too much energy on costly special events.

In doing so, they argue that they are losing out on the opportunity to raise money through more direct — and less expensive — channels.

“We are beginning to learn, as have our colleagues in fund raising across the river in Manhattan, that it’s easier, quicker and certainly cheaper to get $10,000 from a face-to-face meeting with one person (or company) who expects nothing in return than it is to get a dollar each from 10,000 people at a gala,” write Ms. Gittleman and Mr. Rennert.

That sentiment is echoed by the anonymous author of the blog Don’t Tell the Donor, who says many special events are inefficient.

“The real target of this opinion piece does not appear to be the event planners, caterers, and silent auction promotion companies,” the author writes. “Rather the real target of this piece seems to be fellow development directors who have forgotten how to solicit donations based on the mission of their nonprofit without selling donors a ticket to a gala or an event.”
Are charities leaning too much on special events to raise money? Are there benefits to such events that are ignored in this argument? Click on the comments link below this post to share your thoughts.

Peter Panepento

Posted on Mon Nov 19, 01:43 PM

I hope and pray for you and others will support your churches and charities. If you want to play golf call me and I will play with you personally. If you need some music to spur a gift, call me and I will sing for you. If you need a piece of cold chicken call me and I will take you to KFC for lunch. But is you are interested in supporting compassionate and effective ministries, pray about where to send your hard earned checks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Perceptions from Around the World

In the past few days I have been blessed to hold conversations with several people from other countries. I always enjoy chatting with foreigners because it is an opportunity to learn from them and see how they perceive America and Americans.

All of my conversations were with well educated Christians whose quality of life and international experiences are broad and deep. Each has traveled to Africa, Asia and America many times. they are the elite of Europe and Great Britain. Despite their wide experiences and deep education I am shocked by some of their perceptions of America and Americans.

First, all of them are convinced that the USA is collapsing economically. They must all be watching Lou Dobbs of CNN, the most pessimistic and anti growth person in the media. The US is experiencing a small hiccup in housing but all other indicators are actually quite high. (I realize that during an election cycle the people out of office have to "pretend" that the economy is bad. So, the Democrats will weep crocodile tears about how awful things are.) Read this story by David Brooks.

Second, many perceive all conservative Christians as following some kind of secret plan to make America a theocracy ruled by a Baptist Preacher. At the same time they are confused about the difference between Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Here is my point. The media in other countries tend to attack whoever is President of the USA. The media generally hate George W. Bush and it is no wonder the people in those nations are ignorant about what is really happening. So, remember, we in the USA know even less about other countries than they know about us, so be gracious.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Russian News

The Millionaire Convention in Moscow

While the working people and old folks live in poverty, there is a rise in the number of rich Russians. Sales people from all over the world are going there to sell luxury items like this diamond encrusted Mercedes.

In contrast to the oil magnates, oligarchs and criminals, Galina has just recently been able to get her computer on a high speed internet connection. And, we both recently signed up for Skype so we can chat very cheaply by voice and instant message.

Here is her financial situation. The current computer is a Dell that's ten years old and was given to her after being used for several years in the USA. Needless to say, Galina is not attending the Millionaires' Convention in Moscow.

Now Galina must get the new computer. When she finally gets her office up to date, the team can minister more effectively and efficiently. I have been i messaging back and forth with them this afternoon and it works wonderfully and inexpensively.

If you wish to do something special for Galina and the team in Russia this Christmas, send a donation to Sweeten Life Systems. We will arrange to buy a computer, pay for the high speed connection and get a printer, fax, copier and other supplies. They are quite expensive in Moscow but a friend has figured out ways to buy everything fairly inexpensively.

Send the donation today to:

Sweeten Life Systems
Memo: Galina
P.O.Box 498455
Cincinnati, Ohio 45249 with questions
Click for Galina's Web

International News about Ministry

Over the past 25 years God has seen fit to send me to places where I needed a passport or a visa almost 100 times. Although I do enjoy learning about other cultures and people jet lag has never been a favorite past time for me.

There is great misunderstanding between Americans and the citizens of most other nations. Back in the Eighties I was speaking with a well educated man who thought all Americans lived in ranch houses like the Dallas TV program. Others thought we fought daily among criminals in drug wars just like they see on TV.

The misunderstandings are also rampant among Americans and sometimes I think we are more mistaken about other nations than they are about us. The USA is a very large country and we travel less to other countries than do many folks from Europe and Asia. And, our media fail to cover the news in foreign countries as much as they cover us.

This morning I got up and started looking at the headlines from the BBC. One that caught my eye had to do with a trial in the country of Turkey. Two young men are charged with the murder earlier this years of a Christian missionary from Germany and a Pastor.

You can read about the trial here

Please pray for Christians to be safe during the trial. I am concerned that the media and rumor will combine to stir up a lot of misunderstanding and hatred for Christ and His people. Pray that Christ will be lifted up and people will see His love shine in the midst of great evil.

Secondly, a news item concerning the millionaires in Russia was displayed. Please pray for our friends in Moscow. Elections are coming up soon and tensions are high. The police and other government officials are making life difficult for honest people, especially Believers.

It is very expensive to live in Moscow and our friends struggle to maintain their apartments and offices. As you can imagine, ministry is very difficult.

But God is able to break through the clouds of suspicion and difficulties. During the cold war with the USSR millions of Americans prayed for Russians to come to faith in Christ and those prayers were effective. I know of several people who suddenly and without human intervention developed a thirst for the Bible and Jesus Christ.

Pray for President Putin and his cabinet to develop an openness to God's will.

Pray for our friends to find space to minister that is inexpensive.

Pray for the good news to grow in acceptance.

Intercede for God's Spirit to prosper the Christians and their healing efforts.

For more information on ways to support our friends call me at 513-300-5065 or write to me at

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Good News!!

Today is our anniversary. Karen and I married after a whirlwind courtship of six months on the Thanksgiving Holiday in 1961. I was 23 and she had just turned 21 when we went down the aisle of the First Baptist Church in Pinckneyville, Illinois.

I was a school teacher at the Ina Grade School where I had the 5Th and 6Th Grades and taught all the subjects while coaching all the sports and driving the school bus. My salary was, as best I remember, about $3,000.00 but I received another $100.00 per month for driving the bus.

We were in love and wanted to marry so Thanksgiving seemed like a good time because I was off for vacation from Thursday through Sunday. We chose November 21 because it gave us a couple of extra days for a honeymoon.

We loved to dance then and still find dancing a wonderful past time. These photos show us at different times in our life. The top photo is with my brother and wife, Maury and Angela, Time and me and Tim and Karen, Karen and me dancing and finally the couple in the pink at a party.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Show me the Money

Everyone who is alert and active in the USA today knows well the trials and travails of folks who need to buy health insurance. For the past decade the cost sky rocketed. However, the professionals and institutions who deliver health care are getting less per patient than they were ten years ago. Managed Care is Managing us right out of care.

Prices up to individuals and business owners and those who deliver the service get much less. Who is prospering in this scenario?

Not long ago the media reported that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Greater Cincinnati had, without cause, cut reimbursements for mental health by over 20%. In addition, the doctors and therapists have no recourse but to accept it. Each Psychiatrist, Psychologist and Counselor with their umbrella organizations have to eat the reduction keep their mouths shut.

Here is a story in the The Chronicle of Philanthropy on Friday, November 16 that reveals where these cuts go

William C. Van Faasen, the former chief executive of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest health insurer, retired from the company in January 2006 and was paid $16.4-million in retirement benefits, reports The Boston Globe.

Since Blue Cross’s 2006 executive pay was disclosed yesterday in filings to the attorney general, several groups have expressed outrage at a compensation package of that size being awarded at a nonprofit organization.

Jerry Flanagan, health care-policy director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer group in Los Angeles, said that this type of excessive compensation harms the public by driving up costs. He explained, “Double-digit premium increases that are fueled by insurance-company excesses like this are uninsuring the insured.”

Chris Murphy, a spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, said Mr. Van Faasen’s retirement contributions are an accurate reflection of his lengthy tenure and his “extraordinary performance as chief executive of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.”

Mr. Murphy added that the retirement package was evaluated by external compensation consultants, who assured the company that the payments “met industry standards.”

My comments: How true that these kinds of extravagant salaries are common among Managed Care Officers. All of them, not just Anthem, are ripping us off. And, it is being done by tax-free organizations.

What manager of a philanthropy needs or deserves such an outlandish amount of money? The IRS is looking into Preachers who abuse their tax free status. Now maybe the IRS will look into insurance companies that abuse their special status.

I have worked in the non-profit sector most of my adult life and have never received an exorbitant salary and I do not know anyone who has. Most ministers and others in the helping professions suffer from being under appreciated and under paid.

This is highway robbery. We are the victims.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Coming to a City Near You Soon

Would Honest Abe be allowed to speak freely today?

With some in our Congress defining biblical Christianity as "hate speech" we will very likely see cases like this grow in America. Several European have already mad it illegal to call some sexual acts sinful.

Take a look at what happened in France.

On September 27, 2007, Top Chrétien, the largest French internet ministry in the world, was sentenced to pay $12,000 (8,500 Euros) to the Palestinian support organization Committee for Charity and Support for the Palestinians (CBSP) or Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens.

In March 2005, Top Chrétien had republished an article from a Jewish press agency that identified the CBSP as an organization that financed terrorism in Israel. The group sued Top Chrétien for defamation and lost. However, they appealed the decision and won. According to French law, Top Chrétien may not appeal this judgment and is forced to pay 8,500 euros ($12,000) to CBSP by the end of the week. The entire team at Top Chrétien is shocked and saddened by this news.

There are 5 million Muslims in France (10% of the population)

Evangelical Christians are less than 600,000 (1% of the population).

In addition to often being marginalized and ridiculed by French society for believing in God and supporting Israel, there are also many cases of judicial bias in the French courts. From denied building permits and unlawful seizure of churches and, now a judgment against Top Chrétien for defamation, Evangelicals continue to face a hard road when working in France.

Click this link for the full story.

Pray for European revival.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Research and Development

Some of you have written to ask me about the Reveal book from Willow Creek. I have read it and analyzed it on my other blog at

I am very excited about the fact that Willow has the courage and integrity to do the research and then publish it for all to see. I know of few Christian groups that are open about their weaknesses. This is especially true when we consider that the research seems to show that Willow has failed in meeting many of their most basic goals.

Take a look at my other blog and think about what is going on. Barna is also writing about these issues from a different angle with the book, Revolution. What is God saying to the church?

I have spent my adult life as a professional educator, coach and therapist. All these professions involve growth, healing and influencing change. From what I see in most Christian publications, it is a wonder that any believer is ever equipped, healed or mature.

Christians have confused Pep Rallies with Playing the Game. I have always loved pep rallies. They are loud, exciting, colorful, inspirational and positive. We get to see beautiful girls dance, enjoy a pep band play our favorite fight songs and hear a wonderful motivational speaker tell the crowd that out players are the best in the world.

Then the game begins and the pep rally is forgotten. What counts now is not noise but skill, preparation, practice and stamina. When I coached basketball I had my players do wind sprints, practice defense and run laps until their tongues flopped out like puppies. They hated it. But it was those dreary, pain filled practices won games.

We preachers love the music, pomp and circumstance of a pep rally. Rarely does a preacher or teacher take members through the paces of a real practice and make sure the members can actually play the game. Oh, I know that our call is to "Equip the members so they can do the works of the ministry." It is a rare event when we even thinks that is our main job. The power of the platform is simply too strong to resist.

Willow's research proves that entertainment is not equipping; performance is not playing and crowds do not mean growth. Let's pay attention to the data.

I confess I still need to "Do what Jesus did and actually 'coach' people to do His works and not just 'tell" people what He did.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Take a Look at A Dynamic Video

Welcome to the video age. We recently put together a six minute video to open the eyes of Seasoned Believers to the possibilities of continuing to experience a life of vitality, worth and interest. We used it to launch our Gathering in October and the response was great.

Click on the streaming video at
and see what you think. Steve Helterbridle is the workman who put it together with input from several others. Watch and post your responses. As the new book, Wikinomics says, "Peer collaboration is the life blood of future entrepreneurial activities."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gary's Socialism

Growing up in a home that honored over functioning, I slipped into that role with glee after my younger brother was born. I was just seven years old at the time. Mother was mercifully drawn back into her proper role as wife and mother to us boys. But that left a vacuum in the care taking of Grand Dad Taylor.

Mom Taylor had made up her mind not to stay at home with her "sick" husband. She preferred to work six days a week at their little store and go to church almost every night. Their daughter, my mother, was stuck at home with the new baby and my brother and I were left to tend for ourselves.

(Over functioners always fail some place. Despite the grandiose notion that they can be Omnipresent, they , so someone is left out. Workaholics neglect their wives and kids and religious fanatics neglect God and family.)

In a combination of God's sovereignty and human dysfunction I, at the tender age of seven, chose/was chosen, to fill the role as a care giver to my Grand Dad. Every day for seven years I was nurse, massage therapist, counselor, chaplain, radio operator and sports announcer for a man fifty years older than I.

I received enormous emotional and spiritual rewards for my service. Rewards that left me more confused about what it meant to be "a good Christian boy". Those seven years marked me for life. My role as a heroic care giver has impacted almost everything I have done since. I turned into a hard working, intentionally but confused heroic over functioner who tried to help people whether it was wise to do so or not.

This is why I dislike socialism so much. Socialism is governmental over functioning that almost always ends up keeping its clients under functioning. The Golden Rule of Jesus says, "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you."

The socialist says: "Do unto others what they should do for themselves."

Only one of these Rules is healthy.

Why Not Socialism?

After writing the last post I was ruminating on why I react so strongly to socialism. The reasons may be deeper than I know, but I think some of the reasons are easily discerned.

First, I am a converted socialist (A small s socialist not a formal Socialist.) I grew up in a family that chose me to be an "over functioner". Because I know family systems well, it is also clear that I also chose the role. In fact, I loved the role and was rewarded by almost everyone because I was a nurse and baby sitter to my sick grand father.

Every family distributes various "functional roles"from generation to generation to all its members. There are some who are chosen and who choose to "under function". These folks get stuck in cycles of sickness, depression, alcohol abuse or poverty.

Others take the opposite role and "over function" by hard work, perfectionism, religious involvement and trying to help the "under functioners" in their family, church and society. The problem with being a hero is that we need a constant supply of victims to rescue. Where would Superman be without a city of Victims like Metropolis and Persecutors like Lex Luthor or the Joker?

My mother was a wonderful woman who came to faith in Jesus Christ as a young girl. She spent her adult life caring for others out of "spiritual and religious conviction". Her mother and father lived next door to us and our families were deeply intertwined.

"Mom" Taylor was a spiritual giant in our little town, and almost killed herself over functioning in her marriage taking care of her husband, my Grand Dad Taylor. After suffering a near fatal ulcer attack, Mom seems to have made the decision to stop taking care of a perfectly well husband and he reacted in a shocking manner. He got worse, much worse. (This is not unusual.)

What was the family to do? Someone HAD to take care of Grand Dad Taylor. He could not take care of himself. (So we all thought.) Despite looking strong, he "felt" terrible and talked constantly of his aches, pains and depressed feelings. My mother came to the rescue.

With my mother replacing her mother as the official over functioner for Grand Dad Taylor, she was unable to do as much at home. That caused great conflict between my Mom and Dad and the conflict caused much pain in me.

Think about socialism as an attempt to over function for those who are under functioning. It sounds good and compassionate but it destroys both the people who do too much and those who do too little.

Socialism, either formal or informal, is the cruelest of all systems for the weak and the strong are both spending energy on the wrong things.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Socialism in our Future

It is hard for me to believe that the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world would intentionally choose to destroy its economic and spiritual values by promoting socialism, but I fear I may have been wrong. For the past eight years the Republican Party, long noted as the party of Free Market Capitalism, has spent our money like a congregation of drunken pirates. "W" has thrown money at all kinds of projects with the willing support of the Left Wing Socialists we call The Democrat Party.

Is Ron Paul the only Capitalist running for the Presidency? The Democrat hopefuls are trying to outdo one another with wild promises of profligate spending for every partisan group in the country in a blatant attempt to buy our votes. Senator Clinton even went on CNN and called the oil company's profits "Obscene" and promised to take them away from the stockholders and distribute it to "The People".

Shades of Lenin and Trotsky! Do these people not realize how destructive that kind of policy is? Has she never visited or studied the USSR, Cambodia, China or the Eastern Bloc to see the devastation wrought by Socialism and the confiscation of private property? Those countries are still economic disasters. Is that what she wants for us?

America has the best economic system in the world because of capital investments and hard work. Why destroy it with policies that have failed miserably everywhere they have been attempted? Dependency destroys. Responsibility brings freedom.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Societal Suicide

Damned if your Do
Damned if your Don't

In psychology and counseling we can "Double Bind Messages" by a big name, suggesting the cause mental illness in kids from those kinds of homes. Our kids must be getting more confused and mentally stressed by the week by the "Double Bind Messages" in our culture.

TV, radio, music and government agencies are getting more aggressive and bold about promoting genital sex. Some schools want to distribute condoms to pre-pubescent girls. Despite research to the contrary, they say that condoms will prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as genital warts, gonorrhea and AIDS. That is a strong "Go for sex" message.

At the same time schools and law enforcement agencies warn kids against hugging, patting and other "Public displays of affection". Kids are being expelled weekly if they are caught anywhere hugging, even at a sports venue. (One kid was punished for hugging a friend who had recently lost his mother!)

No wonder kids are having mental and emotional breakdowns at record rates. Depression rates are skyrocketing among youth. Girls are especially vulnerable. Is it because women no longer know what is right or wrong?

Genital sex, along with abortions by teens, is encouraged by liberal Surgeon Generals. The court system and government bureaucracies will not allow schools to dispense an aspirin but will offer brightly colored condoms and birth control pills without parental knowledge because, "They are going to do it anyway".

Sex is now called "hooking up" because it is OK to share genitals without sharing one's heart, soul or commitment to care. Sharing and caring are forbidden but sharing genitals is inevitable in the jargon of modern values free education.

Is hooking up forbidden or only hugging?

Some school systems are building "Homosexual only schools" so young people with that issue will not feel "disrespected or put down". This promotes genital sex.

Is there any wonder why school levies fail time after time? Do you want to support such irrational social and cultural disasters? Why do so many people in the educational industry want to destroy younger generations on the altar of personal "freedoms" and yet forbid healthy interactions?

The Fourth Great Awakening is upon us. What the world needs now is "Love sweet love" and that is what we have. The world also needs the wealth of wisdom and values we bring to the table. By modeling and teaching about marriages and family life filled with hugs, pats and caring we can model a better way for the future.

We need families and churches that hug and teach hugging. We need small groups that celebrate a full range of generations and male female relationships with no confusion about what is right and wrong.

We need Seasoned Believers to write articles, letters to editors and books about living a life full of commitment and family values. Tell your politicians and school boards you want this downward spiral stopped.

We need 4 hugs daily to survive emotionally, spiritually and physically
We need 8 hugs daily for emotional, spiritual and physical health
We need 12 hugs daily to thrive emotionally, spiritually and physically

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What is Happening to Our Society?

Forbidden Behavior by Babies

There is, I think, a growing amount of irrational and hysterical behavior being demonstrated by many well educated people in our society. I was a teacher among poorly educated in southern Illinois, but I never saw such hysteria.

Yesterday my grandson Jacob (12) and I were discussing some of the rigid and foolish rules his Junior High School. The rules forbid such things as ice picks, scissors, guns, knives, machetes and bazookas. (Just kidding) Many schools have a "Zero Tolerance Policy" that requires educators to expel anyone caught with such items. We have all read about six year old kids who were kicked out of school for drawing a gun or bringing blunt scissors to class.

The incident that caused Jacob to bring the subject up was a sign on the door of his great grand mother's nursing home. The sign has a picture of a gun within a circle and a line drawn across it with the words, "Firearms forbidden..." Jacob saw the folly of having such a sign and said, "Papa! Don't bring your guns in here when we visit Greatie." We both laughed at its ridiculous nature.

The news that night included a story that the folly that has overcome our educational system even in southern Illinois, I was born and reared.

Girl gets detention for hugging friends

By Georgina Gustin



MASCOUTAH — A 13-year-old junior high school student was given two days of detention after school officials spotted her hugging friends after school last Friday. (Spies?)

Megan Coulter, an eighth-grade student at Mascoutah Middle School, was hugging her friends goodbye after school Friday when vice principal, Randy Blakely, saw her and told her she would receive two after-school detentions.

Blakely had previously warned Coulter that she was in violation of the school's policy on public displays of affection after she was seen hugging a student at a football game. (Even after school??) The school's policy says that “displays of affection should not occur on the campus at any time.”

Coulter's mother, Melissa Coulter, says she has requested to speak with the School Board at its next meeting, and is mystified about the punishment leveled at her daughter.

Mascoutah Superintendent Sam McGowen said today that the district's policy helps prevent misunderstandings and unwelcome expressions of affection.

The hysteria of educators has already affected the students and led them to disrespect the educational establishment. How can they not lose respect for their teachers and administrators when they behave so immaturely? With educators acting with such rigidity and a lack of commons sense it is no wonder kids are confused.

Every time I fly and see the foolish and politically correct way security is handled at the airports I lose more respect in the ability of the government to protect us. They regularly frisk 85 year old women in wheel chairs to show there is no racial profiling.

I am concerned that the current fear that is gripping our citizens about safety, terror, kidnapping, etc will lead us to remove our constitutional rights and further restrict our freedom of speech and movement.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Roots of Bitterness and Church Growth

I had a recent conversation with a Pastor who told me that he knew of a church that had been through three bitter divorces/splits over the past six years. He went on to say that he was convinced that the congregation could not and would not grow substantially until the "roots of Bitterness" were healed. I agree with my friend and urge each of you to ask God's Spirit to reveal any Bitterness in your heart and rid yourself of everything He reveals. (Al Qaeda never forgives and this is the result.)

Ephesians 4:26-27 has a very interesting comment that is key to reconciliation, healing and growth. It says, "Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your bitterness. Do not give the devil an opportunity."

I was reared in a culture that knew anger first hand and we frequently used it to get what we wanted. We used our anger to manipulate, frighten, bully and intimidate. However, the church's stand was to turn a blind eye to anger's bitter abuses as well as its positive effects. Yes, I said positive effects.

Most of us in the counseling fields attempt to put a positive spin on anger but no book of counseling I ever read does a better job of re framing anger and bitterness than the Bible. In this passage St. Paul makes a key distinction between anger as a feeling and anger that has become a mind set called Bitterness.

God does not condemn our angry feelings. But He does forbid the negative results of anger. When anger settles into the brain and becomes a way of thinking and guiding our actions it has become a "Root of Bitterness". This is what the Bible forbids in Ephesians when St. Paul says, "Do not let the sun go down on your bitter mind set of unforgiven."

We need to be preaching, teaching and counseling people about this verse. By helping people clean up grudges, long held pain, deep resentments and judgments we can allow God to be an evangelist and draw many to Himself and to the church that has been healed.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Short Trips

Karen and I have decided take short "Day Trips" to nice locations close to us for fun, recreation and golf. Last week we set off for Canonsburgh, near Pittsburgh, to visit son Timothy and wife Shelley with son Jack Donovan.

On the way there we called a couple of pre-sorted B&B's and really like the tone and price of one run by Steve and Tina Miller in Dresden, Ohio. Take a look at their place by clicking the link.

Both Steve and Tina are expert chefs and the food was unsurpassed in quality and quantity. I must comment on the "Monkey Bread" for it had to be as good as any bread I have ever tasted. Go see for your selves if you want to know what it is.

Karen and I had heard about the famous Longaberger Baskets of course but until we saw the area we could not have guessed what it was like. It is hard to imagine how the Longaberger family has done such an incredible job of building up the economy of the entire area.

I also played nine holes of golf at the Longaberger Golf Course, the #1 rated public course in Ohio. It is a very nice course but the greens are challenging. I just need to play a few more times to get the hang of things.

It is very beautiful in that region and I strongly recommend it as a nice place to visit.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


When my Singapore friends want to let each other know that they are busy they just say, "BLUR". (They will also add, "LAH" to the end of the sentence. LAH is an exclamation not really a word.)

Well, let me say, BLUR!" Today we had planned to leave home at noon to drive to Pittsburgh to see Tim and family. We left home at 3:30 but had to go one more time to the bank to make deposit.

We landed in Dresden, Ohio, a 1500 population town East of Columbus that is home to the "World's Largest Basket". We are enjoying a day at the Miller's B&B, called, "Sarah's House".

It is a nice and inexpensive place to stay. I will report more on my conversations later.


Answered Prayers.

I am very happy to report that the baby of our friends who appeared to have a serious neurological issue seems to now be free from such a thing. PTL! Thank you Great Physician!

God still calls us, saves us and heals us. The Bible teaches "The uniformity of natural causes in an open system where God can and does break in to rearrange the natural causes." Atheists believe in the first part "The uniformity of natural causes" but deny the last part "in an open system where God can and does break in to change the natural causes".

As a Bible believing Christian I hold firmly to the entire proposition. Many modern Christians sound more like agnostics or atheists than believers for they accept a truncated view of scripture.

We have great Professional Clinics with Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Counselors. It is called, Life Way Counseling Centers. Our therapists are caring, well trained in counseling and psychotherapy and our physicians give prescriptions for good medicines. These are the results of researchers who have discovered "The uniformity of natural causes." I thank God for His good gifts that come from education, research and study.

However, we all add another invisible ingredient. Faith, hope, love and prayer. We have a high view of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We believe that God hears and answers prayers. We believe that Baby Daniel is better because we prayed. We believe that our clients benefit from our prayers.

When a few of us started Life Way back in 1989 we were accosted by agnostics who decried our faith in God. We were accosted by many Christians because we also used research from medicine and psychology. Some believers wanted us to abandon our heads and many therapists wanted us to abandon our souls. We refused to do either.

What about you? Are you unwilling to abandon either your head or your heart? God gave us both. Live free to think and feel and believe in God.